23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon, John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Social Services a question about the payment of social service benefits to the employees of Mt, Isa Mines Limited who are not working at present. During the past two weeks I have inquired from Mr. Goodes, the Director-General of Social Services in Melbourne, and from Mr. Cox, the Director of Social Services in Brisbane, whether unemployment benefits are going to be paid to such of these men as have applied for them. Up to the present no decision has been made. I now desire to ask the Minister to take this matter up with his departmental officers as one of urgency, and to advise me as soon as possible of the result. I ask the Minister to consider the applications favorably.
– I can assure the honorable member that applications for unemployment benefit or any other social service benefit are considered on their merits. In relation to unemployment benefit there is, of course, a work test which was laid down by the previous government. It provides that a person shall be unemployed, shall not be a direct participant in an industrial dispute,, and shall be ready, willing and able to accept employment if it is offered, and must also take reasonable steps to find1 employment. The Government has never thought it necessary to alter those conditions which were laid down, I repeat, by the previous administration. That is the work test that is applied’ to-day. I can- assure the honorable’ member for Kennedy that if applications are made, and the work test can be passed, they will be immediately, sympathetically and favorably considered.
– Has. the Minister for Labour and National Service any information about the1 reemployment of the employees: who were stood down by General
Motors-Holden’s Limited? Has he any information about the future employment prospects in this company?
– I have been informed that the employees - I think 8,400 in all - who were temporarily laid off by General Motors-Holden’s in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales have now been re-employed. I think the number involved at both Woodville and Elizabeth in South Australia was about 3,900. I have also been informed by General. Motors-Holden’s Limited that it is not intended at present or in foreseeable circumstances in the future, that there will be any permanent lay-offs, and it is not thought that there will be any further temporary lay-offs.
– My question is directed to the Minister’ for Labour and National Service. In view of the unemployment figures disclosed to-day from an unprejudiced source, showing that the number of the unemployed in Australia is at least 177,000, when will the census figures of unemployment be disclosed,, showing the margin of error between the Government’s figures and1 the actual number of unemployed?
– I have read various attempts to compare the figures issued by my department for registrations for employment and the figures issued by the Commonwealth’ Statistician relating to the employment of civilian wage and salary earners. As I said in the House the other day, it is quite impossible to compare the incomparable, and these two sets of figures are not comparable. The figures relating to’ the registration for employment cover the actual facts. They show the number of people who come to us and say, “ We are out of a job- and we want employment “. The figures relating to civilian wage and salary earners cover specific kinds of employment. They exclude employment in the rural industries,, defence and domestic service. To try to compare them with registrations for employment, and to draw conclusions from the comparison, is quite impossible and illogical. So I say to the honorable gentleman that to cite the figures which he read out this morning in an attempt to convey an impression totally different’ from that given by the Government’s unemployment figures is an illogical and fruitless kind of exercise.
– I address my question to the Treasurer. The right honorable gentleman will be aware of the urgent pressure by local government bodies for funds to carry out public works and to relieve unemployment. I therefore ask him whether, in view of the fall in capital raisings by companies and the rise in subscriptions to the recent Commonwealth loan, the Commonwealth will approach the States to have the Australian Loan Council permit local government bodies to raise additional funds which appear to be available to public authorities.
– The honorable gentleman has asked about raising additional funds. Does he mean that we should increase the amount which had been agreed upon as the total raisings for the year?
– The amount which they can borrow.
– As the honorable gentleman is probably aware, the amount agreed upon at the Australian Loan Council meeting was several millions of pounds above last year’s figure. Then, at the time of the Budget, I indicated that I had communicated with the Premiers expressing the Commonwealth’s willingness to agree to a further increase of £5,000,000 in the total amount. The Premiers subsequently conveyed their agreement to me, so the target for local government raisings has been raised by the amount which I have mentioned. I am not aware of any proposal that there should be a further increase in the target for this year. To the best of my knowledge, loan raisings by the local government bodies are proceeding certainly not less satisfactorily in the total than was the case last year.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. When will the next figures on unemployment in Australia to be issued by his department? Will they include the strikers at Mount Isa?
– The figures relating to registrations for employment and to vacancies will be published, I think, on Monday week. As to the second part of the honorable gentleman’s question, the people who are engaged in the industrial dispute at Mount Isa, as with those involved in seasonal problems in the meat industry in Queensland and those who were temporarily out of work at General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited, will all be entitled to register, and if they do, to be included in last month’s figures which will be published on Monday week. There may be a somewhat distorted pattern revealed in last month’s figures, published this month, but I can say to the honorable gentleman that despite those figures the forecast which was made by the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and myself will turn out to be accurate. In other words, the improvement in the employment position will be both steady and sure.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral’s attention been directed to the statement contained in the recent report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board that many television advertisements are of longer duration than is provided for in the programme standards, and that, despite the fact that the board has directed the attention of the stations concerned to this matter, the practice still continues? Has the board any real authority to insist on the regulations being carried out? If so, when can viewers expect a diminution of advertising matter to occur?
– I have noticed this aspect of the board’s report. The honorable member has asked me what authority the Board has to insist on various provisions being observed. The board has authority to revoke or suspend a licence if the offence warrants such action or, alternatively, when the licence becomes due for renewal each year, the board may renew it only on the undertaking that the stipulated provisions will be adhered to. I have no doubt that the board will continue to watch the matter. In fairness to the licensees in general, I should say that although it has been necessary for the board to make this comment the stations in general do abide by the regulations relating to advertising and other matters which are laid down either in regulations or in programme standards.
– As my interest always centres on conditions on the waterfront, I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he has any additional figures relating to the operation of the long-service leave legislation, both in relation to the number of people over the age of 65 years seeking to retire and taking long-service leave, and to the number of hours lost during the last quarter as the result of industrial troubles.
– I will obtain precise details for the honorable member in relation to both questions, but I can say that in recent months there has been a spectacular improvement in the number of man-hours lost on the waterfront. Last month, the figure dropped from about 1 30,000 hours a month to about 2,400 hours. For the three months since the recent amendments to the act came into force, the figure was between 20,000 and 21,000 hours. This indicates that there has been a spectacular improvement in the number of man-hours lost on the waterfront due to industrial disputes.
I do not know the exact figures relating to long-service leave, but I do know that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority has paid out over £300,000 to about 1,200 employees. In other words, there is now a much better balanced labour force, and we can hope for greatly increased efficiency on the waterfront.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he is aware that Mr. Warren McDonald, chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, appealed to the Australian people to save their money in order to maintain prosperity. How does the Treasurer reconcile that appeal with the appeals by the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General to the people to spend their money in order to maintain prosperity?
– If the honorable member had studied both sets of statements carefully he would have found that there was nothing inconsistent in them.
As I recall the Prime Minister’s statement - and I give it shortly - he advised the people not to be panicked by some of the more alarmist propaganda which had come from sectional interests and some sections of the press, but to spend normally. As a canny Scot, the Prime Minister has always envisaged normal spending as being associated with normal saving, and most people who conduct their affairs prudently have that balanced approach in the use of the funds available to them.
I am happy to report that the Australian people are accepting the advice which has come to them from both these distinguished community leaders. Not only is there an indication that spending is now proceeding normally, as the Prime Minister advised, but the figures relating to both savings banks accounts and amounts on fixed deposit with the major trading banks have shown a steady increase over recent months.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he or his department has placed any impediment in the way of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union obtaining from Mr. Roberts a report on the circumstances surrounding his resignation. I also ask whether Mr. Waters, secretary of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union, has lodged any protest with the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, or with the Minister, in connexion with the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Mr. Roberts. I further ask whether Mr. Waters, as secretary of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union, advised the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party not to raise this matter in the Parliament.
– The honorable member’s first question was whether any impediment had been placed in the way of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union obtaining information relating to the Roberts case. The reply to that is: No impediment has been placed in the way of any investigation the union may want to make. In fact, I do not think it wanted to make an investigation. His second question was whether Mr. Waters, the local secretary of the union, made any protest to me or to the department. I can certainly say that no protest, official or otherwise, has been made to me by that gentleman or his organization. I assume that no protest has been made to the department either, although, of course, I have no direct information about that. The honorable member also asked whether Mr. Waters advised federal members not to have anything to do with this case. I have heard that that was done, but, of course, I am not in a position to say with any certainty that that is so.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. Why was it that, after the rejection by the Minister of charges regarding the misuse of Commonwealth cars in Brisbane, the whole matter was re-opened and investigated? Was the matter re-opened on the PostmasterGeneral’s own initiative, or did some other person, even the Prime Minister, intervene because he was not satisfied with the Minister’s explanation to the House on 15th August, which dealt with the misuse of car number plates, but not with the nowadmitted misuse of the cars?
– No other person intervened in this matter at all. As a result of the obligation on the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs to ensure that any statement is properly investigated, he had a further look at this matter early in the piece, and decided that he would proceed with inquiries. This was done entirely on the initiative of the DirectorGeneral, who is the person on whom the obligation to undertake such matters rests.
– I preface my question, which is .addressed to the Treasurer, by reminding him that some weeks ago I asked him a question about the publication of a booklet similar to that put out by the previous Treasurer, the Right Honorable Sir Arthur Fadden. In his reply, the Treasurer mentioned that the taxation form had in substance the information I was seeking. I have since studied the form and I find that insufficient information relating to the returns of primary producers is given on it. Will the Treasurer again look into this matter with a view to producing a booklet similar to that entitled “ Income Tax for Farmers and Graziers “, which was most helpful to primary producers in general?
– I did undertake to go into this matter for the honorable gentleman. I have not yet had an opportunity to discuss it further with the Commissioner of Taxation, but I assure the honorable .member that I shall look for an opportunity to do so in the near future. It would be helpful if the honorable member would inform me of any directions in which he believes that the information on the income tax return could be supplemented.
– I address my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. It is supplementary to a question he answered a few moments ago. If I understood the Minister correctly, he said that in the next list giving the number of unemployed, issued by his department, the number of employees laid off by General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited would be shown. Where does the Minister get the information that those who were laid off by this company registered at any time? Is it not a fact that many of those laid off would not be entitled under the regulations to receive unemployment benefit? As there would be no purpose in their registering, why would they register and so add to the number the Minister will announce next week?
– The honorable gentleman is correct when he says that large numbers of those temporarily laid off by General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited in fact registered for employment with the department. I do not know the exact figures, but they will be made available to me when the returns for September are compiled. The reason that these people registered is obvious. If they are laid off for two weeks, they want to receive the unemployment benefit for the second week. So I make this single comment; The premise on which the honorable gentleman asked his question is wrong. I will certainly make available the number of those who do register for employment when I get the figures in a few days’ time.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Social Services by stating that the Government has been compassionate in bringing from red China into
Australia 13,600 Europeans, mostly white Russians. I point out also that since 1954 the restrictions as to age have been waived. Is the Minister aware that a small number of these persons - about 40 - are denied social service benefits although the sponsorships or guarantees that were given to provide sustenance and accommodation have failed? In cases where there are genuine reasons for these guarantees and sponsorships breaking down, will the Minister favorably consider giving the immigrants social service assistance?
– May 1 take this opportunity to emphasize that there is no discrimination in the administration of the Social Services Act. My reply does not apply only to those described by the honorable member as white Russians, but has a general application. Persons who come to our country from any part of the world under guarantee are, in the first place, the responsibility of the guarantor. If and when the guarantor is unable for any reason to stand up to his or her guarantee, then it is competent for the persons concerned to apply to the Department of Social Services for a special benefit. Each case is considered on its merits. If a special benefit is granted, it is without prejudice to the guarantee, and may conceivably be a charge against the guarantor; but there is no discrimination of any kind, and every case is considered on its merits.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Have any representations been received from the Premier of Victoria in regard to the closing of the Wangaratta flour mills and the Daylesford textile mills and other manufacturing establishments, and the consequent effect that these happenings have had on employment in the country towns involved? If so, what has the Minister done to help those affected? Will he investigate the position now existing in regard to unemployment in all country towns?
– I think the honorable gentleman should know that if there is any correspondence between a State Premier and the Government it would be on a Premier to Prime Minister basis, and to the best of my knowledge I have not received a copy of any letter that might have been written by the Premier of Victoria along the lines mentioned by the honorable gentleman. I think that if the honorable gentleman can restrain himself in patience for a little more than a week, he will be pleasantly surprised at the trend of the figures for registrants for employment, a trend which I believe is now pervasive. In other words, I think the improvement will be not only in the metropolitan areas, but in the country areas as well.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral any information to give the House concerning the employment or otherwise of an ex-employee of his department in Queensland who was the subject of discussion in the debate on the adjournment of the House last night?
– Only this morning, I received from a reliable source some information about Mr. Roberts, who resigned from the Postmaster-General’s Department a little while ago. My information is to the effect that, shortly after his resignation, he was given permanent employment by a prominent business firm in Brisbane. After he had worked with that firm for about a week, his wife telephoned the firm’s office to state that he had been taken ill, that he was in hospital and was likely to be there for at least two months and that, therefore, it was probably desirable that his place be filled. That was done.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Defence. He announced, after his return from the United States of America a few months ago, that funds from that country would be made available to hasten the development of an anti-submarine guided missile at the Department of Supply establishments at Melbourne and Woomera. I now ask whether this weapon is being developed under the Mutual Weapons Development Programme Agreement between the United States and Australia which the Prime Minister tabled in August last year. If it is not, will the Minister table the treaty or agreement covering the use of the weapon? In particular, can he state whether either country will be free to use this weapon in Australia or overseas without consultation with the other, and if not what restrictions will apply to its use by either country?
– The first part of the question can be answered by saying that this weapon is not being developed under the Mutual Weapons Development Programme Agreement. There has been a straight-out grant of roughly 4,000,000 dollars for the development of this weapon in Australia. There is no written agreement between Australia and the United States of America about the future use of the weapon, but the arrangement envisages the use by us of an American Mark 44 torpedo.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Repatriation. I ask: Is the Minister aware of the success of the plan under which officers of the Repatriation Department visit country centres and make themselves available for interview by ex-servicemen and exservicewomen and their dependants, to whom they tender advice and information on repatriation benefits? Will he ensure that these visits are not only continued, but that they are also extended and given wide publicity, and that members of this House who represent areas to be visited are given details of the itinerary at least a fortnight before the visits take place?
– Very considerable efforts have been made in recent times by officers of the Repatriation Department to take information and advice on repatriation matters to people living in country districts. In Victoria, the honorable member’s State, for example, an officer visits, on a prearranged and advertised schedule, Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat. Visits at longer intervals are made to the western district of Victoria, to the honorable member’s own district of Mallee and to Wodonga and Wangaratta in the north-east. I am glad to hear the honorable member’s warm support of this system, which will be continued and developed to some extent. For example, arrangements are now being made for periodical visits to Gippsland. The same purpose is served in other States by slightly different methods, which are arranged according to the circumstances in each State.
I shall bear in mind the honorable member’s suggestion that members of this House be informed of visits to the areas that they represent, and I shall see whether it is practicable for that to be done when the itineraries are known well in advance. I point out to the honorable member, however, that the extension of this system would not be without difficulty. If the visits are to be effective, they must be made by senior and experienced officers. These activities take them away for a considerable time from the other work that they are required to do in their departmental offices. My duty, I think, should be to see that the field is adequately covered, but, in the national interest, without wasteful activity.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Immigration. In view of the damage which is being done to the reputations of Mr. Brenner and of Australia by the Minister’s refusal to give reasons for denying Mr. Brenner entry into Australia, will the Minister or a departmental officer undertake to advise Mr. Brenner personally of the reasons why he is debarred from entering Australia, particularly as he has challenged the Minister to give the reasons so that they may be tested?
– We have discussed this matter in the Parliament three times, Mr. Speaker. I told the House last night that Mr. Brenner was being refused admittance to Australia because of a very serious security objection, so serious, indeed, that no responsible Minister could possibly approve his application to come here. Unless the honorable member for Hindmarsh wishes, in effect, to destroy the security service, as I suspect he does, I think he should be prepared to accept that explanation, and not demand from the Government a revelation of information of a kind that would be disclosed in no other country in the world.
– 1 wish to ask the PostmasterGeneral a question about rental charges for telephones of age pensioners. Will he agree that for a large number of age pensioners a telephone is a must, being the main means of communication with the outside world? Is it not a fact that many age pensioners have been forced to discontinue renting telephones because of the financial burdens entailed? In all the circumstances, will the Postmaster-General consider making some concession in telephone rental charges in the case of age pensioners?
– This is a matter on which strong representations have been made over a period, and to which the Cabinet has given attention from time to time, particularly when considering pension rates. Certainly the Postal Department makes some concessions in the case of institutions carrying out certain charitable works, but the matter of concessions in telephone rentals charged in the case of pensioners has been considered very thoroughly, and it has been decided that the general pension rate has been fixed by the Government to cover matters such as this, and that no further special concessions, such as that suggested by the honorable member for Warringah, should be allowed. Further, I again remind the honorable member and the House that it has been decided that matters such as this, although under the general administration of the Post Office, come under the heading of social services, and should, therefore, be discussed and determined by the Department of Social Services.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories. Will the Minister say whether there is any substance in reports which suggest that the Government intends to introduce legislation to provide for full voting rights for the member for the Northern Territory in this Parliament, and to reform the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory by providing for a fully elected council instead of the present party-elected body? If the Government has no such intention at the moment, will the Minister discuss the second of the matters
I have mentioned with the Northern Territory Legislative Councillors when he meets them next Monday?
– The honorable member for the Northern Territory has the advantage of me. I have not seen these reports. They apparently refer to a policy matter, which could not be dealt with at question time. The deputation from the Northern Territory Legislative Council, which is coming here to make certain representations on Monday, will doubtless raise this matter and any other matter which it wishes to discuss with me.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that the Russian Orthodox Church in Australia is completely anti-Communist, whilst the Orthodox Church in Russia is an instrument of Soviet foreign propaganda?
- Mr. Speaker, I do not mind saying something about this, because I saw some reference to it the other day which might have been misleading. The Russian Orthodox Church in the Soviet Union and the satellite countries has had to live with the policies of these countries, and therefore may be treated as being Communist-influenced. The Russian Orthodox Church in Australia is not related to the Soviet Union but has, in fact, an allegiance to its chief functionary in New York. I have not the slightest doubt at all that the Russian Orthodox Church in Australia and its members are completely anti-Communist.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Is it the attitude of the Government that the Australian Wheat Board makes its own decisions, and that the Government does not interfere? Does this include decisions by the general manager of the board to address public functions? Is the Minister aware that the general manager agreed to speak at a public function in Melbourne on Sunday last, but at the last moment declined to do so for reasons of political pressure? Did the Government apply any political pressure in this case? If not, is the Minister aware of where the political pressure came from, if it did come?
– I have stated several times in this House, Mr. Speaker, that the Parliament established the Australian Wheat Board as the selling authority for wheat. That is where the position remains. So far as Mr. Perrett’s social engagements are concerned, they are matters for his own decision.
– In the same way as the Minister for Labour and National Service is able to give official figures of unemployment in Australia can he tell this House the number of Australian workers engaged in remunerative work quite apart from, and in addition to, their regular employment?
– My department does not collect the figures sought by the honorable gentleman, and 1 think it is also true to say that the Commonwealth Statistician does not collect figures relating to those engaged in remunerative employment outside their normal employment. Nevertheless, I will make some inquiries, and if I can obtain any useful information for the honorable gentleman I will let him have it.
– Will the Minister for Social Services amplify the statement that he made earlier in question time that, provided unemployed persons satisfy the work test, they will be entitled to receive unemployment benefit? Does the Minister mean that unemployed persons living beyond four miles from an industrial centre are required to travel that distance in order to seek employment? If so, will the Minister provide the necessary fares, or are these people expected to use their meagre sustenance of £3 Ss. a week to meet the cost of up to Ss. a day for fares to and from town in their search for work? If the unemployed are expected to use their dole to pay fares in the search for work will the Minister explain how they are to satisfy their hunger?
– The work test as it is applied to-day was not promulgated by me. It was promulgated by the previous administration, and for a variety of reasons the present Government had has no cause to alter the terms and conditions of the work test. It is applied in the most generous way, and every application for unemployment benefit is resolved in favour of the applicant if it is possible to do so within the law.
– My question to the Minister for Trade relates to the stimulation of exports of primary products. By way of explanation I remind the Minister that in recent weeks he convened a very useful conference of organizations that could help in stimulating exports of manufactured goods. I now ask the right honorable gentleman whether it is probable that the pattern of Australia’s export trade in important primary products will be significantly altered should Great Britain join the European Common Market? If this is so, is the Minister satisfied that the selling arrangements of marketing boards, and others who dispose of Australian primary products, are adequately geared to this new task? If he believes that improvements are possible and desirable will he now give serious consideration to convening a conference of such boards, and of other traders and organizations concerned in the marketing of primary products?
– The conference to which the honorable member refers will, I am sure, prove to have been a useful educational process and a means of bringing together all those who are interested in stimulating Australia’s export trade. Whether, if the United Kingdom joins the Common Market, her joining will affect the pattern of Australia’s exports of primary products will, of course, be governed by the terms of Britain’s entry into the Common Market. As that is the great question of the day I cannot predict what the outcome may be. I can only say that, as the honorable member knows, this Government and, I am sure, the whole of the Australian people, are very concerned to see that Australia’s trading opportunities will not be impaired, or will be impaired to the minimum extent, if the United Kingdom should join the Common Market. Our efforts are directed to that end. As to the marketing of primary products through marketing boards, I make the point in the first place that those boards operate under the ministerial jurisdiction of my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry. In the second place, I make it clear that the boards have been created to enable the organized producers to sell their own products to the best advantage, and in every case the producers who, of course, remain the owners of the product, are in control through having a majority on the appropriate marketing board.
The Government’s role is not to tell them how to do business, but to give them every possible aid, through the Department of Primary Industry, the Department of Trade and other government departments, in the doing of their business. Through those departments we do give them, individually, every possible aid. There is established in the United Kingdom a publicity organization of which all the marketing boards are members, and they determine the policies, which hitherto have always been accepted by the Government, for the expenditure of the vast sums upon publicity in the United Kingdom which this Parliament has been voting from year to year under the initiative of the Government.
Motion (by Mr. Opperman) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Beaches, Fishing Grounds and Sea Routes Protection Act 1932.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
.- by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Under this small bill references in the Beaches, Fishing Grounds and Sea Routes Protection Act to “ the Director “ will be omitted and replaced with a reference to the Minister or to a prescribed officer. This is being done because as long as references to officers who hold Public Service offices remain in legislation administered by my department it is necessary, in order to give meaning to them, that the specific Public Service titles be retained, and this has the undesirable effect of hampering the processes of review and improvement in the departmental organization and procedures. The necessity for greater flexibility in this regard was stressed recently in a Public Service report on the organization of my department.
That necessary degree of flexibility in respect of the Beaches, Fishing Grounds and Sea Routes Protection Act is therefore being provided under this bill, which I trust will be supported by all honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Opperman) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Lighthouses Act 1911-1957.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Existing references in some of the legislation administered by my department to “ the Director “ and “ Deputy Director “ refer to officers who hold Public Service offices within the department. Whilst such references remain, it is necessary, in order to give meaning to them, that these specific Public Service titles be retained, and this has the undesirable effect of hampering the processes of review and improvement in the departmental organization and procedures. A recent review of the organization has in fact drawn attention to the necessity to have greater flexibility in this regard.
This small bill, which I am sure all honorable members will support, is therefore to provide that necessary flexibility in respect of the Lighthouses Act by replacing a reference to a deputy director with a reference to a person prescribed by regulation.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 4th October (vide page 1678).
Proposed Vote, £1,696,000.
Department of the Navy.
Proposed Vote, £48,019,000.
Department of the Army.
– The primary aim of our defence policy is continually to improve the ability of our forces to act promptly and effectively, with allied forces, in situations that might arise which would pose a threat to our security. Honorable members will recall that a series of decisions of farreaching importance were announced by me in this chamber in November, 1959, following a comprehensive defence review by the Government at that time. The policy objectives then approved for the Army and Air Force, together with decisions subsequently announced on important new projects for the Navy, are achieved through the defence programme. The financial year 1961-62 is the third and final year of the current three years programme. I am pleased to be able to inform the House that progress has been most satisfactory in the achievement of our defence objectives. I now propose to give honorable members a brief progress report on the defence programme, and an outline of the uses to which the money being provided in this year’s Estimates will be put.
The proposed expenditure on defence this financial year is £202,859,000, compared with last year’s expenditure of £198,167,000. The increase will provide for initial payments on Navy and Air Force re-equipment projects, and the cost of the recent rise in the basic wage. The estimated expenditure for the Navy this year is £48,019,000, compared with an expenditure of £45,117,000 last financial year. The Navy will maintain in commission during the present year an operational fleet consisting of the aircraft carrier “ Melbourne “, three Daring class destroyers, one Battle class destroyer, two new type 12 frigates and three “ Q “ class frigates, together with ships for survey, training and other duties, and miscellaneous smaller vessels. In addition, H.M.A.S. “ Sydney “ will be recommissioned when refitted as a fast transport, and several destroyers and frigates will be held in reserve to meet any need for expansion in an emergency.
The average personnel strength of the Royal Australian Navy in 1961-62 will be 11,000. Provision is made in this year’s Estimates for initial expenditure on a number of new projects for the naval programme. These represent important measures in the continuing modernization of the Royal Australian Navy. The two “ Charles F. Adams “ class destroyers to be purchased from the United States will be delivered in 1965 and 1966. These powerful warships will be effectively equipped for protection against air attack, detection and destruction of submarines, and for surface engagement or shore bombardment. Twenty-seven Westland Wessex Mark 31 helicopters have been ordered to equip H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “ as a helicopter carrier in 1963. This type of aircraft has been specially designed for anti-submarine warfare and has already been proven in service with the Royal Navy.
The former aircraft carrier “ Sydney “ is now being refitted at Garden Island dockyard for further service in its new role as a fast transport for the movement of Army personnel, stores and equipment to any operational area in the event of emergency. This work will be completed early in 1962. Work has commenced in the United Kingdom on the conversion of six coastal minesweepers for service as units of our naval forces. The conversion should be completed in about a year. Detailed drawings are in progress for the specialized survey ship to be built for the Royal Australian Navy at the Newcastle State dockyard. When completed in 1964 this ship will be one of the best of its kind in the world.
Wherever possible, construction for the Royal Australian Navy is carried out in Australian shipbuilding yards. It is, of course, in the national interest to maintain the yards with their facilities and equipment in working order as backing for the fleet in any emergency, and this is being done to the greatest extent practicable. In addition to the survey ship, the conversion of H.M.A.S. “ Sydney “, and the extensive and continuous programme of refits for H.M.A. ships, Australian shipbuilding yards will continue during this year thenwork on the construction of the second pair of type 12 anti-submarine frigates. The first two ships of this class were completed at Cockatoo Island and Williamstown and commissioned in July last. The second pair are expected to be completed by early 1963. The four new frigates will be fitted with the Seacat surface-to-air guided missile system.
The arrangements which have been made with the United Kingdom for the stationing at Sydney of modern Royal Navy submarines will ensure the effective antisubmarine training of the Royal Australian Navy and the maritime reconnaissance squadrons of the Royal Australian Air Force. In addition to these submarines meeting our training requirements, their presence on our station will enable a start to be made with the training of a nucleus of R.A.N, officers and key ratings as submariners. The agreement with the Admiralty provides that major refits of these submarines will be undertaken in Australia. The first refit is now in progress at Cockatoo Island dockyard, and this will be followed by others. It is worth mentioning that this continuing programme of refits for submarines is providing employment for some 280 Australian workers at Cockatoo Island dockyard.
The ships and men of the R.A.N, are kept at the highest state of readiness by an intensive training programme and participation in exercises on all aspects of naval warfare. Two destroyers or frigates from the fleet are constantly on duty in the Malayan Area with the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve. They are joined annually for a short period by our aircraft carrier. The ability of the fleet to act promptly and in co-operation with Allied forces is effectively enhanced by regular R.A.N, participation in training exercises with other Commonwealth and Seato fleets. At the request of the Government of the Federation of Malaya the Royal Australian Navy has provided for the past two years a senior officer to command the Royal Malayan Navy. We have been pleased to meet the request of the Malayan Government to extend this arrangement for a further period. A number of other
R.A.N, officers fill various staff and seagoing appointments in the Malayan Navy.
A vote of £64,537,000 is proposed for the Army. Last year’s expenditure totalled £65,650,000. The decrease reflects the progress made in the procurement of equipment, which reached its planned peak in the current programme last year. The Army has been completely re-organized to increase the strength and availability of the fighting elements, and is being equipped with a wide range of modern types of equipment. The field force now comprises two pentropic divisions. Each division consists of five battle groups which are enlarged infantry battalions with supporting combat arms and services to enable them to operate independently if necessary. One division is made up of two Regular Army and three Citizen Military Force battle groups and the other division comprises five C.M.F. battle groups. In addition to these formations, we maintain an infantry battalion group in Malaya as the Australian Army contribution to the strategic reserve.
The present strength of the Regular Army is 20,637. This total includes some 10,000 operational forces comprising the battalion group in Malaya, the regular battle groups, combat and logistic support units, and home defence forces. The remainder provide the command, training and administrative backing for the operational forces including the C.M.F. The reorganized volunteer Citizen Military Forces have attracted substantial numbers of recruits. The present strength is 28,184, against the target of 30,000 planned by 30th June, 1962. Army training is designed to achieve, by a positive and continuous programme, a steady increase in preparedness and mobility. A major aim has been to integrate, as far as possible, the training of regular and citizen forces personnel. This is proving most effective.
The defence programme places great importance on the provision of an adequate scale of modern equipment for the Army. Some £30,000,000 has been provided in the three years’ programme for this purpose. Progress has been very satisfactory during the first two years of the programme period and there is little doubt that the target will be achieved by the end of this year. The Australian Regular Army has been fully equipped with the FN rifle, and substantial numbers have already been issued to the Citizen Military Forces. Engineer units have been provided with modern earthmoving and other mechanical equipment. The Army light aircraft squadron has been formed and is equipped with both fixed and rotary wing aircraft. A new range of field radio equipment has been received and is being introduced into both Australian Regular Army and Citizen Military Forces units. In addition, initial deliveries have been or will soon be received of the general purpose M60 machine guns, 7.62-mm. light machine guns, 106-mm. recoilless anti-tank weapons, and other combat equipment, together with a new type of ambulance vehicle.
The emphasis we have been placing on modern equipment for the Army will continue during the current financial year. It is planned to place orders for new equipment worth some £12,000,000. Australian industry will receive over £9,000,000 worth of these orders. Some of the major items of equipment proposed to be ordered this year include 9-mm. machine carbines, 105- mm. pack howitzers, mines, radar and other electronic equipment, and a variety of combat and engineer equipment. The mobility of the Army, already substantially improved by the acquisition of four landing ships medium, and the formation and equipping of the Army light aircraft squadron, will be further enhanced as a result of orders to be placed this year for additional Army landing craft, nesting barges, armoured personnel carriers, and various types of wheeled vehicles. Here again Australian industry will benefit from defence orders. Some of the landing craft for the Army are being built at Devonport, Tasmania, which is a tribute to Tasmanian industrial skill and enterprise.
Air Force expenditure this year is expected to total £65,462,000 compared with expenditure last year of £63,233,000. The Royal Australian Air Force has an operational force consisting of three Canberra bomber squadrons, four Sabre fighter squadrons, two maritime reconnaissance squadrons, three transport squadrons of which one is equipped with Hercules aircraft, one airfield construction squadron and one surface-to-air guided weapons unit. Two of the fighter squadrons and one bomber squadron will continue to be located in
Malaya with the strategic reserve. The personnel strength of the Royal Australian Air Force is at present 15,665. In addition, the Citizen Air Force squadrons, whose personnel are trained in non-flying duties, are performing a most valuable service.
This year’s Estimates will provide for continued progress in the approved Air Force programme. The provision of new equipment is proceeding as planned. Two of the Sabre fighter squadrons have been equipped with Sidewinder air-to-air guided weapons. The remaining two are currently being equipped. The major contracts relating to the Mirage fighter have been signed. These cover the airframe, the engine, and the fire control system. The airframe ami engine will be manufactured to a substantial extent in Australia, the major contractors being the government aircraft factory and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. Deliveries of the Mirage will commence about mid- 1963. Twelve P2V7 Neptune maritime reconnaissance aircraft, on order from the United States, will be delivered early in 1962. Personnel of No. 10 Squadron, who will fly and maintain these machines, have left Australia to undergo final training in the United States and subsequently to accept the aircraft. Eight Bell Iroquois helicopters have been ordered and deliveries are expected to commence towards the end of 1962. No. 9 Sea Air Rescue Squadron, which will be equipped with these aircraft, will be formed at Williamstown in June, 1962.
As honorable members are aware, the Government has approved the introduction of electronic data processing on a large scale in the Australian armed services. Purchase of the first computer and data collection equipment has been authorized.
The first service to apply electronic processing will be the Air Force. Between now and 1964, when the new system will take over from existing manual and mechanical processes, the Department of Defence proving and training centre in Canberra will train personnel and set up the new system. This large-scale application of electronic data processing will not only enhance efficiency and economy in the services, but the experience gained will be of great interest and benefit to Australian government and commercial organizations.
Defence research and development will continue at a high level during 1961-62. The main project is the joint long range weapons establishment at Woomera. Other major projects are also being undertaken, the work being planned so that research and development in Australian establishments is complimentary to that carried out by our major Allies.
Honorable members will recall that I announced recently an agreement between the United States of America and Australia to support jointly the development of an important anti-submarine guided missile system capable of delivering a United States Navy Mark 44 torpedo. Development of this weapon in Australia is being undertaken by defence scientists of the Department of Supply and by the Royal Australian Navy. Facilities at Woomera will be used for testing the weapon.
Government munitions factories under the control of the Department of Supply are well-equipped to produce a substantial proportion of the requirements of our forces. They have been progressively modernized to achieve the most efficient production.
The small arms factory at Lithgow is making the FN rifle for the Australian Services, for New Zealand and for other Commonwealth countries. The heavy barrelled FN rifle, which will replace the Bren light machine gun in arms and services other than infantry,, will also be produced at Lithgow. Work has commenced on the establishment of Australian facilities for the manufacture of the Mirage supersonic fighter aircraft and the Atar turbo jet engine. The anti-tank weapon Malkara is being produced for the United Kingdom Army and additional orders have been received.
A rationalization programme has been planned for Government explosives factories for the purpose of more economical production and, when completed about the end of 1963, will result in substantial annual savings.
One important aspect of our defence spending is that, in addition to orders placed in Government munitions factories, private industry makes a substantial annual contribution to the needs of the forces. During the past eleven years about £430,000,000 worth of orders have been placed with industry spread over the Commonwealth.
The Government is indebted to the many leading industrialists and businessmen who generously make their expert knowledge available in an honorary capacity on a series of advisory committees which advise the Ministers for Defence and Supply on industrial mobilization and business matters. I would like to make special mention of the valuable contributions of the chairman of the Defence Business Board, Sir John Allison, and his colleagues, and the chairman of the Joint War Production Committee, Mr. Ian McLennan.
The booklet of defence statistics normally issued by me at this time each year has been brought up to date and is again circulated for the information of honorable members.
It provides a ready reference to annual personnel strengths of the defence forces from lune, 1950, to the present day, expenditure on defence for the eleven-year period July, 1950, to June, 196.1, and estimates, of expenditure for the current financial year, 1961-62.
The statistics show that since 1950-51 a total of £1,966,000,000 has been spent on defence. Of this amount, £1,407,000,000, representing 71 per cent, of the total, has been absorbed in maintenance. This includes pay and allowances; food and clothing; repair and maintenance of equipment, buildings and works; and the provision of stores and supplies required by the Services in their day-to-day activities. An amount of £389,000,000, or 20 per cent, of the total expenditure, has been spent on capital equipment, and £154,000,000, or 8 per cent., has been applied to buildings and works. The current year’s estimated defence expenditure includes an amount of £148,000,000 for maintenance. lt is worth pausing here for a moment to point out that these large sums pf money for maintenance - £1,407,000,000 during the last eleven years, and a further £148,000,000 this year- are almost all spent in Australia and on Australian goods and services. A very considerable proportion of pur defence expenditure therefore goes back into the economy, with stimulating effects on Australian industry and employment
Large amounts are involved in the purchase of modern equipment which is becoming ever more complex and costly. It is therefore essential to ensure not only that adequate funds are provided but that
We make the wisest possible selection from the types of equipment offering. To this end the widest range of technical knowledge and experience is consulted before a decision is taken on any new major equipment proposals. About £42,000,000, representing almost 21 per cent, of this year’s total vote, will be devoted to the capital material requirements of the Services, and machinery, plant and equipment for the Department of Supply and other defence activities. Some £12,000,000 in the current estimates is for buildings, works and acquisitions, covering such items as living accommodation, technical and stores buildings, training establishments, airfield construction and so on.
One fact emerges from the statistics I have just given, and that is that defence preparedness cannot be provided on the cheap. The Government’s aim has therefore been to ensure that its defence preparations provide the maximum degree of security that can be achieved from the vote. In pursuance of this aim, we have taken a series of decisions, which are being given effect through the defence programme, designed to organize, train and equip our forces, and provide the necessary backing for them, so that they will maintain maximum effectiveness within the limits of our resources.
There are those on the other side of this House who would seek substantial reductions in the current level of defence preparations. There are some who are even on record as favouring what can only be described as unilateral disarmament on our part. Now, every one is entitled to his own opinion, of course, and if some members of the Opposition wish substantially to reduce our defence effort, or, as has been advocated by certain honorable members opposite, disarm almost completely and rely on a United Nations force to protect us, that is a point of view which they are entitled to express. I want to make it quite clear, however, that this Government can never accept this sort of proposition. On this, as on so many matters of national importance, there is a great gulf between us and the Opposition. To weaken our defences at this particular time by such policies as have been proposed would, we believe, imperil our national security. In the present and foreseeable state of world affairs, they would undoubtedly leave us wide open - defenceless and isolated.
Our present rate of defence expenditure is approximately 3± per cent, of the national income. The amount we can devote to defence must be determined against our continuing heavy commitments for national development, which in turn add to our longterm defence strength and capability. Within this amount we must seek to provide the most efficient defence system possible, as a contribution to the defence effort of our Allies, with whom our security is linked, and with whose defence plans our own are closely co-ordinated. It must be understood that if we are not in a position to make a worthwhile contribution to collective defence, we cannot expect assistance from Allies in the event of threats to our security.
It is quite true that the President of the United States of America has put forward a programme for world disarmament, but it is equally true that the Communist powers have shown no inclination to accept such schemes. While every sane person looks forward to the day when man’s wisdom will match his knowledge, it is obvious that even if disarmament does come eventually it will be a long time yet.
The Government believes, therefore, that in the present international situation there can be no relaxation in our defence preparedness. There is continuing and, indeed, in some areas, increasing Communist pressure. In South-East Asia in particular, our area of most direct interest, there are many elements of instability which give cause for the gravest concern.
More than ever before the effective defence of Australia, in common with that of our friends, depends under present international conditions on the collective security arrangements to which we are a party. Only through these arrangements and by continuing our efforts with those of our Allies can we meet the common threat and retain the advantage of defence in depth. The Government’s defence programme enables us to play a full and effective part, within our resources, in these arrangements. All three services are now at a high pitch of training, their organization has been improved immeasurably and they are now more mobile, better equipped and at a higher state of readiness than at any previous period in their peace-time history.
.- The Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) spoilt the case he put by attempting to misrepresent the attitude of the Australian Labour Party. This party was responsible for the establishment of the Royal Australian Navy. It was responsible for the establishment of Woomera, which he mentioned, and for the Fleet Air Arm. When the Labour Party, in 1948 or 1949, ordered Canberra bombers and Sabre fighters, honorable members opposite said that these aeroplanes would be obsolete before they left the drawing board; yet under this Government they are still flying.
The Minister said that we wanted a United Nations force to protect us. In fact, Labour’s policy is directed towards Australia playing an effective part as a member of the United Nations and not to its becoming a party to some secret commitments such as this Government has apparently undertaken in mutual aid agreements and with the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. He has completely misrepresented the history, the intent and the integrity of this party. But, of course, that is not to be wondered at. The Government has tried to cover its confusion on defence by making these assertions. The Minister said we would like to make substantial cuts in the defence forces. What we would like is a proper economy and an overall judgment of the defence position, with the proper application of the resources of the nation to defence.
This afternoon we are discussing activities which have cost an enormous sum. The imagination boggles at the amount, in totality. Over ten years, some £2,000,000,000 has been spent on defence. That is three times the total capital investment in the whole of the Australian railways system since the first sleeper was laid 100 years ago. It is almost enough to rebuild a city the size of Melbourne, with houses costing £4,00u each. Therefore, we should turn our attention and scrutiny in the most critical way on this expenditure. Was nothing undertaken in the last ten years on which we could not have effected some reasonable economies? Some £150,000,000 was spent on national service training, and it was abandoned. Another £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 was spent on H.M.A.S. “Hobart”. The shifting of the naval training college from Crib Point to Jervis Bay cost a couple of million pounds. We could go through the services and find such things as the abandonment of the “Blue Streak”.
I am sure a critical analysis by honorable members on this side or on the other side of the chamber would reveal that in the last ten years the Government has spent some £200,000,000- perhaps £20,000,000 a year - in a way for which it must apologize if it is tackled in a forthright manner. Therefore, we say we want economy in the forces. We do not want economy which affects the serviceman himself. Despite the Minister’s attempt to make it appear that pay and allowances involved the major expenditure in the service, I notice that of the total expenditure of £2,000,000,000 in the last ten years, service pay and allowances have accounted for £530,000,000.
The Labour party is, of course, concerned with the security and the type of employment of servicemen, as well as their training. But it is even more concerned with the state of the nation’s defence.
We believe that a number of questions can be levelled at the defence departments, but no attempt has yet been made to answer them. What are the commitments of which the Minister spoke? He spoke of allies. We on this side of the chamber believe in the United Nations. We do not believe that the United Nations should protect us but that the United Nations should be able to rely upon us, as it has been able to rely on other less fortunate nations over the last few years. This is where the fundamental disagreement lies. This Government has slavishly followed the United States of America in its foreign policies and military policies. There is no doubt in my mind on this. It seems to me that the structure of our defence forces is wedded to that very policy. The Government has adopted the view that we will supply some minute fragment of a force involved in a major war. But we on this side do not believe that that is our historical role. In both the
First World War and the Second World War, the Australian Governments spent much time in trying to bring Australian forces under independent command. We are not prepared to see this nation commit its young people to war-like forays in which we have no say. We are very critical and very concerned about the position that could develop with the overseas agreements we have entered into. As far as we can determine, some of our allies accept limited liability and Australia accepts unlimited liability. This, I believe, is the case with the Seato organization.
We want to see our defence policy changed to a different bias. There are three possible roles we can fill. First, there is the question of a global war. Secondly, there is home defence. It could well be said that the invasion of this country is unlikely but, after all, that is the first charge upon our defence forces. They must be available for the defence of Australia in an effective way. The third and most likely possibility is that we may be committed as a United Nations force to assist in a place such as the Congo, Syria, or wherever we may be required. If Ireland, Ghana, Malaya and Indonesia can supply a force for the United Nations, why cannot we? We have so completely tied ourselves to the foreign policies of reactionary forces in this part of the world that I am afraid we would not be asked to help the United Nations. This, of course, is a reflection on Australia.
Let us examine each of these three possible commitments. In the first instance, we believe that a global war is unlikely. This seems tq be the generally expressed opinion of those in the top echelons of world affairs. lt seems to be the opinion of Mr. Khrushchev and of Mr. Kennedy. We are unlikely to have a global war in the way we usually envisage such a war, But if there is such a war, we can do little about it; it will be a matter of the destruction of humanity. I believe that our defence force, efficient as I think it has now become, but minute, is in fact being developed to take its place in some great global conflict of this nature. We cannot accept this policy. But we believe that the other two roles- the home defence role and the United Nations role - are possibilities and. that our type of force could well be suited to meet them.
One could ask many questions in a debate of this nature, and I hope that we will be given some answers. The Citizen Military Forces, the traditional backbone of the Australian defence system, no matter what may be said about them, have been almost completely dissipated. I think the Minister pointed out that at present we have some two divisions with five over-strength battalions. One might say we have ten units. I think eight of them are C.M.F. battalions. One might say that historically the C.M.F. has been the knitting machine which has enabled our defence force to fit into the community at large. We have dissipated this traditional strength of the defence force of the nation. Before the last war, I think there were some 80 units in the C.M.F. Now we have eight. This is a serious matter. I think the present defence force, as it is constructed, is inadequate to undertake the defence of the homeland. What could one possibly do in the defence of Australia with the small force described by the Minister, effective though it may be as a single force?
– Are you advocating national service?
– I believe that comparatively nothing could be done to defend Australia with such a force. We have strong opinions about the reliance that should be placed on voluntary effort in these matters. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) questions our policy on national service. 1 believe that the Government has done some damage to the national spirit if it cannot get 60,000 or 70,000 young men, or some 5 per cent., of some 1,250,000 young men of military age to join a voluntary service. There is something wrong with the way you control the nation or the way you are developing your defence forces. That is one criticism we have to offer. The C.M.F. has been dissipated and the home defence system has been replaced with nothing adequate.
There are several questions I would ask. One question that those interested are inclined to ask is this: Are our defence forces top-heavy with brass? I know that this is one way in which a person in the street might strike at our defence forces. The question is not asked in a cynical way; but the facts are that we have a comparatively small defence system including an army of about 20,000 permanent soldiers, broken into divisions and commands. I think we have ten battalions and there are eight or ten generals. 1 ask the Government to explain these things because I am asked questions on these matters in public debate. I do not want to create opposition to the defence forces; but I see that the same question arises about the Navy. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) has outlined some facts about the Royal Australian Navy and I have no doubt it is efficient. The fleet is made up of first-class ships but in a navy of about a dozen ships we have 57 or 58 captains. How can the Government possibly find employment for officers of such exalted rank - and it is a high rank in the service. Are the services being overadministered? Have we a top-heavy administration system?
This is where the Government has failed particularly in modern thinking on defence forces: There has not been any attempt to achieve integration of the defence services. Questions on most of the items used by the defence services such as supplies and medical services have been ignored. These questions have been avoided by the Government over the past six or seven years. One important question is the training of the cadet officers of the defence forces. According to my reading, Viscount Montgomery is on record as having said that he thought the officer training of the defence forces could be carried out principally together. Wh” has there been no effort at integration? This matter was raised four or five years ago and we had an implicit promise or guarantee from the Government that something of this nature would be done. We have an almost ingrowing Parkinson system in the defence forces because the Government will not take hold of the system and integrate it all along the line. How often have the three branches of the services carried out really combined operations? How often have the Navy, the armoured forces, the infantry and the Royal Australian Air Force operated together as a combined force? Is this not fundamental to creating a force in which those involved carry out training together and work together with one single mission? I should like to know why there has been no integra tion in the services in accordance with the undertaking that was given some time ago.
We want to know why Australian supplies, workmen, skills and scientific development are being ignored and why we use other people’s. Perhaps somebody can explain why the Malkara could be sold to the British forces but we have no use for it in Australia? Perhaps we could get some adequate explanation later why Australian workmen are not to be invited to build our destroyers. There are honorable members on the Opposition side who have had long experience in shipbuilding in one way or another and have studied it and we want an answer to that question. We want to know what our commitments are and how this country would be defended if it were under assault. The defence services could be reorganized in an integrated single defence system. I do not want to see too many Ministers unemployed, but I think there is a strong case for a single strong defence department organizing the defence forces of Australia, perhaps for home defence, but also so created that they could be on call for United Nations action. It is my feeling that we are so wrapped up with the SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization that we are not even asked to participate in some of these things. It is with regret that one reads that other nations take their place when the United Nations calls for help and that Australia is not able to do so. I believe that any Australian should feel regretful about this.
On the other side, we feel that the traditional A.I.F. - the Australian Imperial Force as it was - should become the Australian International Force. That is the Australian Labour Party’s policy. We have no time for those honorable members on the Government side who try to turn the:own bad case into a good one by continuing assaults on the policy of the Opposition. Traditionally, it has been Labour governments which have created the defence forces and ordinarily have produced more value for the money spent on them and laid the foundations through scientific developments and in other ways on which this Government has built its plans.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) said he believed in comparatively nothing - whatever that means. I am not quite sure what it means, but I sense that it is a very good way of describing the speech he has just made. The honorable member struck out in all directions indiscriminately. I think that on one or two occasions he hit the nail on the head, as you are bound to do if you mention enough things at a high enough speed. But the honorable gentleman’s speech is indicative of the lack of policy on the Opposition side on defence matters. There was no policy in his speech at all. It was a series of isolated, disconnected and contradictory criticisms. I do not want to spend much of my time in my dealing with the honorable member’s speech, but I must correct him in one particular. There is no need to correct him actually because he knows the statement he made to be untrue; it was in relation to the role of the Australian forces with the United Nations. Time and time again, this Government has said that one of the reasons why we maintain our forces at the level we do and at the peak of efficiency is to play a part in United Nations actions. That is part of our policy. Has the honorable member forgotten that we were one of the first to answer the call to supply forces for Korea with the United Nations forces?
He has hung his whole case on the fact that there are no Australian troops in the Congo. We have not been asked to supply Australian troops for the Congo, nor, to my knowledge, have quite a number of other countries. That does not mean that we are not ready to provide them. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why we maintain troops in Australia. At the same time, we realize that the United Nations, as it is, is a defective organization from the point of view of relying on it to provide security for Australia. That is why we think it necessary to join organizations such as the South-East Asia Treaty Organization and the Anzus pact and others. Anybody who can look at the United Nations and say, as the honorable member for Wills did, that as it is at present organized it could, in an emergency, provide us with sufficient security is not fit in my view to be a member of this House. I think it is important, with an election in the offing, that we know where the Australian Labour Party stands on defence.
– You do not know where you stand yourselves.
– The honorable member for Barton has said that we do not know where we stand. To the best of my recollection, the honorable member was not in the chamber when the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) made a comprehensive, detailed and valuable statement setting out the whole of our defence policy.
Are the remarks made by the honorable member for Wills meant to complement, on behalf of the Opposition, what was said by the Minister for Defence? Opposition members have been making statements of policy in practically every other field at a very high rate during the last few months, but they have said nothing on the important question of defence. Are we to get from the Opposition a policy statement on this subject, or are we to deduce that the withdrawal of our troops from Malaya and the destruction of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization as a defensive organization represent the sum total of the Opposition’s thinking and policy on defence? We have heard nothing else from Opposition members as a formal indication of the Opposition’s policy on defence. If the attitude of honorable gentlemen opposite to-day can be taken as a guide, there is grave cause for alarm about the defence of this country should a Labour government come into office. The great majority of Opposition members, of course, are not interested in defence at all. For most of them defence is a political stick to be used to beat the Government and to benefit particular interests which they are pushing.
– What did lohn Curtin do during World War II.?
– I have heard that sort of interjection so many times in this chamber. According to honorable gentlemen opposite, Labour does quite all right in war after war has descended on us. What we are worried about is Labour’s constant failure in peace to adopt a policy which favours the maintenance of adequate defence forces so that we shall not have war. For Opposition members, the defence vote is a sort of milch cow to be used to provide almost everything except defence. The honorable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr. Curtin), who is mouthing over there now, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) and many other Opposition members open their mouths in this chamber on defence matters only to complain, for example, that the Government has not awarded a defence contract to a shipyard or to a factory in an electorate held by an Opposition member. Honorable gentlemen opposite complain that, because a defence contract has not been awarded, employment, the standard of living or something else will be adversely affected; but they never mention the defence significance of decisions on defence contracts or other matters relating to defence.
For honorable members opposite, the criterion of defence expenditure is everything but the development of effective defence capacity. This represents a most alarming trend in the Opposition’s attitude to defence, Mr. Temporary Chairman - an attitude of which the country and the Parliament ought to take heed. The Minister for Defence has told us this morning that, I think, 71 per cent, of our total Defence vote is spent on the almost irreducible items of pay and allowances and maintenance, and it is vital that the remaining 29 per cent, be spent on equipment, among other things, in a way which will develop to the maximum our capacity for effective defence. That consideration ought to be the sole criterion, not considerations relating to employment, unemployment or anything else.
It always seems to me to be ironical that these socialists, particularly the honorable member for Wills, are so found of using the gibe that if it were not for defence expenditure capitalist economies would collapse as a result of increasing unemployment. I have heard the honorable member for Wills say that many times. The socialists opposite spend most of their time trying to make employment in defence production an inbuilt factor in the Australian economy. I, on the other hand, have complete confidence in the capacity of a free-enterprise system to survive, if necessary without defence expenditure.
The Opposition’s approach to defence expenditure is well illustrated by its attitude to the Government’s decision to buy six minesweepers from the United Kingdom and two guided-missile destroyers from the United States of America. We have been told quite clearly and authoritatively that it is cheaper to do this than to build these vessels in Australia, and the Government’s decision will allow other vital re-equipment plans to go ahead, including plans for the fitting out of “ Melbourne “ by 1963 as a helicopter carrier and its equipment with helicopters. This decision to buy overseas will provide us with far better vessels than we have now very much more quickly than we could obtain them in any other way. Our sailors will have new ships and weapons more quickly than they would otherwise have them, and better defence capacity will be developed by the expenditure of a given amount. Despite the overwhelming evidence of this, Opposition members repeat, parrot fashion, that these new vessels ought to be constructed in Australia. One can be excused for concluding that honorable gentlemen opposite are more interested in political log-rolling than in the lives of Australian soldiers and the people whom they are to defend.
The honorable member for Wills, in an interjection, described the Government’s decision to buy new vessels overseas as unAustralian.
– So it is.
– What is more unAustralian than a policy which would provide for our defence forces equipment other than the very best - in fact, totally inadequate equipment? Such a policy is about the most un-Australian thing that I can imagine.
These considerations raise the question of whether we would not do well to extend further the principle established by buying these new ships overseas. A vast range of equipment, ammunition, clothing and other items is manufactured in government factories and annexes stretching right across this continent. The Minister for Defence, quite rightly, pointed to that with pride this morning. Some idea of the extent of these establishments can be gathered from a description of the empire presided over by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Hulme). Many of these instrumentalities have grown up in circumstances quite different from those which exist to-day, but they still live on.
Many of them owe. their existence to the exigencies, of. a. global-war situation. Yet they still live on in times: in which our whole defence planning is based on appreciation of the fact that global war is unlikely. If we are faced with, a war in which the Australian forces have to go into action, that will be a limited war in which we shall be able to obtain supplies from overseas.
In the past; of course, it waa in the interests of this country’s defence for us to develop the necessary capacity and to manufacture defence equipment in Australia, even if that took longer and cost more. In earlier days, a particular defence criterion was in fact applied. That was the criterion of the most effective defence. But do the same considerations hold good to-day if we are to have the most effective defence? I suggest to the Minister for Defence that Australia’s defence production capacity and procedures be thoroughly investigated. The yardstick adopted in such an investigation ought to be effective defence and nothing else, Mr. Temporary Chairman. By the use of this yardstick - and this yardstick alone - we might discover, as I believe we would, that the new Mirage fighter aircraft all should have- been bought complete from France and not built in Australia. I do not know whether that would be disclosed, and I am not being dogmatic about the matter. But I should like an assurance from the Minister that this factor was taken into account when the decision was made.
Australia’s defence is too. important for outmoded concepts and irrelevant factors, or political log-rolling like that indulged in by the Opposition, to. determine the disbursement of defence expenditure. As I have said, the most effective defence ought to be the only criterion. An investigation such as I have proposed would therefore treat economics, combined with the time factor, as a major consideration. If a defence production proposal could not satisfy these requirements it ought to be scrapped in favour of procurement overseas. For the reasons which I have stated, such an investigation, and such results, would not meet with the approval of the Opposition. This, of course, is sheer irony, because I and other Government supporters have heard Opposition members year after year criticizing the Government on the ground that it has not effectively spent the funds in the defence vote. The honorable member for Wills said this, morning that we have not been getting value for. what we have been spending. However, honorable; members opposite have constantly opposed measures that would have ensured our getting value for our money.
In conclusion, I would like to say that the members of the committee over which I have the honour to preside, and who have had a good look at Australian defence establishments during the last year or two, have been most impressed by what has been achieved since the re-organization took place. We feel that as a result of careful planning the Australian defence forces have been made more dynamic than they have ever previously been.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
; - The committee is discussing the estimates for the various defence departments, which cover the largest single amount of expenditure, apart from that involved in social services, that this Parliament is called upon to approve. For about the last ten years, the annual expenditure has been of ;he order of £200,000,000, and if inflation has had the same effect on defence spending as it has on other aspects of the economy, it is obvious that £200,000,000 cannot purchase the same quantity or quality of defence equipment in 1960-61 as it did in 1950-51. As the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) has said, the major part of our defence vote is expended1 on things that are continually being used throughout the year. The major component is manpower. The next significant item is administration and maintenance. What is left, and what can be spent on capital items or increasing the strength of our defence equipment, amounts to about 28 per cent, of the total.
The Minister for Defence said that every one is entitled to his own opinion about what defence is. I should think that the main division between the Opposition and the Government on the question of defence is that we do not think that defence means provocation. We believe that defence means being sensible ;n our relations with the people around us.
I would like to devote most of my time to the subject of naval expenditure, because I have within my electorate the Williamstown dockyard. This establishment has had a magnificent record over the last 40 years. It has contributed significantly to the Commonwealth’s defence effort. It is staffed by a body of men who take a great pride in their work and who, in the words of the local newspaper in the area, the “ Chronicle “, are at present apprehensive about the uncertainty of a continuance of work at the dockyard.
– They are suspicious.
– They are suspicious; and they have every reason to be. I suggest that the position requires a gooddeal more clarification than has been given in the documents that have just been circulated. At this stage, I would like to utter a few words of criticism of the Government for not having made these documents available earlier. The document on the Department of the Navy was put into the Labour Party room about 10 o’clock this morning.
– At a quarter to eleven.
– Well, the honorable member for Newcastle tells me it was even later. The document on the Army estimates and the one on defence statistics were both circulated this morning after the speech by the Minister for Defence. As yet we have had no statement at all about the Department of Air. If it is suggested that these documents are to be of assistance during the estimates debate, at least they ought to be produced more than an hour or so before the debate commences. After all, these estimates are going to be disposed of in the course of the next few hours.
I would like to join issue with the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) on the question of naval defence. I would like to read portion of a letter, dated 26th July, 1961, that was sent to me by the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) -
I had thought that I had made it perfectly plain that I regarded it as my duty to obtain, in the shortest possible time, the greatest amount of modern fighting equipment which could be obtained from the Naval Vote for Defence.
That is the Minister’s point of view and he is entitled to it. I should like to emphasize, however, that the Minister used the phrase “ in the shortest possible time “. From what was said by the honorable member for Barker it appears that this is a pretty flexible term. The particular matter which was the subject of correspondence between the Minister and I was the purchase of two Charles F. Adams destroyers, and on page 20 of the document circulated this morning we find the following remarks: -
Following negotiations in 1960-61 arrangements were made for the purchase from the United States of America of two Charles F. Adams type destroyers, each fitted with sea-to-air guided missiles, at a total cost of £40,184,000. One is expected to be delivered in December, 1965, and the other in December, 1966.
The first will not be available for another four years, and we will not get the second one for five years or so. How meaningful is this kind of purchase, when one considers the phrase used by the Minister, “ in the shortest possible time “?
– In what possible time could they be built in Australia?
– That is a point I would like to come to. I ask what purpose these vessels will really serve, in the light of the rate at which scientific progress is moving in these fields.
– Would you suggest we have none of these vessels at all?
– It is not a question of having none at all; it is a matter of where the line should be drawn between defence and provocation. Does the Minister think the people of Australia will feel any happier or safer during the next four or five years knowing that in December, 1965, they will have the first of the Charles F. Adams destroyers, costing £20,000,000, to be supplemented twelve months later by a second one? I think that at times a country like Australia should ask itself questions such as this: If, in the kind of battle that would be waged between American and Russian forces, 30, 40 or 50 of these units will be used, will one or two units used by Australian forces really mean anything? I suggest that they will simply have the effect of provoking aggression against Australia.
– Then you say we should not have any?
– Do you think that two destroyers would be any more use than none in ensuring the safety of Australia?
I believe this is the kind of question we should ask ourselves. I think also that if you are talking in terms of aggression and thinking in terms of war some thought might be given to the question why this country has not an adequate shipbuilding industry of its own. Just look again at the logic in the Minister. When he was asked why these orders were being placed overseas instead of locally he referred to the matter of cost. Surely, considered in relation to an expenditure on defence of £2,000,000,000 over a period of ten years it is beside the point whether the equivalent of the Charles F. Adams class of destroyer costs £22,000,000 or £23,000,000 if built in Australia rather than £20,000,000 if built overseas. The Minister said in his letter to me of 26th July, 1961-
On the matter of cost, I would point out that the Type 12’s at present joining the Fleet cost some eight million pounds and the cost of building one here now is estimated at over nine million pounds. The ships on order will be bought at a firm price of twenty million pounds which includes their armament and missiles. Again, what it would cost to build them here can only be guessed at-
Of course it can only be guessed at when you have paralysed the whole performance of the shipbuilding industry over the last three years, and with the inflation which we have had here because of the ineptitude of the Government’s own economic policy. The letter continues - but on the experience with the Type 12’s it would be greatly in excess of their present cost.
A further consideration is that ships built here must, of course, be paid for as they are built.
That is the peculiar sort of logic uttered by the Minister at a time when we have 100,000 people out of work in this country. The letter goes on -
In this case payment will be made over a term of years extending well past the time when the ships join the Fleet.
As far as the present Estimates are concerned we have only the benefit of £700,000 expenditure on something which is ultimately going to cost £40,000,000. The Minister went on in his letter -
If it were not for this such modern and advanced ships could not be built to join the Fleet at the time when these will unless there were a very great increase in the Naval Vote -
He is referring to the naval vote for this year - (and even then I speak only financially because physically it would not be possible.)
That is his opinion. I differ from him, because I have more confidence in the capacity of Australian workmen than the Minister has. Listen to this -
As it is there is no need for a significant increase in the Naval Vote at all, other than to cover cost and wage rises in Australia. This, of course, avoids diversion of money and effort away from other national needs.
Did you ever hear such nonsense at a time when there is unused industrial capacity in this country and unused man-power? Yet the Minister tells us that he has laid these orders overseas because doing so makes a better use of our own national resources. I would suggest that that is not only bad defence but is poppycock as well. It is the kind of lack of logic that there is in the logistics, oi ‘whatever you like to call them, of defence in this country at the moment.
I say, and I speak for this side of the House, that there should be encouragement of shipbuilding in Australia. If you do not want ships for defence purposes now, then build merchant and civil shipping for present use, and at least you will thereby maintain in existence that skilled reservoir of manpower that is proud of the work that it has done over the years. I could read out plenty of letters from people eulogizing the work done by the people at Williamstown over the years, but at the moment those people at Williamstown describe the situation as one of creeping paralysis as far as their future is concerned.
I should like to ask some one later on to amplify to me the meaning of the statement which appears on page 2 of this blue book which has been circulated that an average over the year of 149 more dockyard workers will be employed this year. This does not tally with the statements made by the Minister in other directions. If there is to be less shipbuilding in Australia, how are there going to be 149 more dockyard workers employed? Those matters are not apparent from the document before us and, after all, such documents ought to be intelligible. On page 216 of the Estimates we find that the total number of civilian employees is to be 200 less this year, yet the Minister uses baldly the words “ on average “. What is meant by “ average “? Does he mean that we are going to put employees on at 30th June, 1961, just to make the numbers more? What does he mean by saying that there will be on average 149 more dockyard workers at a time when they have been told at Williamstown that there is to be a reduction of 180 employees in the course of this twelve months? That is a course of subterfuge, and I want some enlightenment on it for the people whom I represent.
.- The last speaker in the debate is very concerned about the fact that two destroyers are being ordered overseas. The honorable gentleman must know that although we do not like the delay of three or four years before we receive those vessels, at the same time, if they were built in Australian shipyards, it would be eight or nine years before they were delivered.
– What rot!
– Those are the facts, established by the figures in regard to ships of the Charles F. Adams class. A country’s defence vote has to be tied up with its foreign policy. Without a defence vote you cannot have a foreign policy. When we are discussing the defence vote it is just as well to examine the physical dangers which Australia faces. There are two points about this that I should like to make.
Communism cannot live in a free world. That is the first point. The second point is that the leaders of world communism have stated time after time that they are out for world domination. Those are the facts against which you have to measure our defence vote, and anybody who thinks differently should not be in this chamber. Let us look to our north. What would have happened if we had not had the South-East Asia Treaty Organization - a defence organization? Would China have remained within her boundaries? Let us ask members of the Opposition, whose views on defence are extraordinary: What would happen if America removed the United States Seventh Fleet from the Pacific? Those are points of view which are worth bearing in mind when we are debating the defence vote.
Apart from China we have in our immediate neighbourhood a nation which is very effectively armed. For what pur pose? Who is threatening Indonesia? Yet Indonesia has powerful armaments. It has a powerful fleet and air force supplied by Russia. Those are factors that anybody concerned with Australian defence cannot ignore.
The Opposition’s part in this debate was opened by that great Labour Party authority on military affairs, the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant).
– He is put forward as the Opposition’s authority on this. I ask the honorable gentleman to read the “ Hansard “ report to see what the honorable gentleman said and what it meant. He is the spokesman for the Labour Party. The whole of the defence policy of the Labour Party is, “Trust the United Nations “. Look at the critical situation which cropped up time after time in the Congo when some nations threatened to withdraw their forces from the United Nations force that was operating there, and on other occasions when others said that they would withdraw forces from membership of the United Nations if its forces took certain action. Are we to rely on a broken reed like that for the defence of our women and children and our heritage as a nation? Are we to rely upon some obscure African nation to send us forces in a crisis, knowing that the whole weight of Russian might will be thrown suddenly into the conflict, and knowing that Russia wants world domination and that communism cannot live in a free world? That is how I approach the defence vote. Australia has never had provocative or aggressive ideas. We have always believed in collective defence and not in attack. Since the re-organization I think this Government has produced an extremely well-balanced and efficient fighting force. It is small - that is the great tragedy - but it is well balanced. It is true that some time will elapse before our major new engines of war, such as the Mirage aeroplane, will be delivered, and our efforts will suffer through the lag in deliveries, but all these things take time to build and in two or three years we will have immeasurably stronger and more modern machines of war.
I have one minor criticism to make - it is a purely personal idea which I have - but on the Army side, with which I am more familiar, I still hold the view that in the establishment of battle groups the question of where they could be employed requires consideration. When you develop armies, navies or air forces you have to design them according to the conditions where they will operate. I cannot see any Australian forces being sent out of the Asian field in the future. I would say that all our military efforts, if they are ever called upon, will be in the Asian field, and there you have a totally different type of combat on land from what you would have in the more civilized countries of Europe.
In areas where the Australian forces could be employed and where, in fact, they are now employed, conditions demand a high proportion of infantry as against support troops. I feel that in our battle groups that proportion is not high enough. The infantry are charged with the physical protection of all supporting arms in a theatre of war and the drain on infantry to provide that protection in close country, such as bush fighting, is very high. When you add to that the fact that where these forces could be employed exhaustion is an important factor, you will see what I mean when I say that the infantry component ot our present Army establishment requires review. I would like those people who are concerned with tactics and establishments to have a good look at that, because I feel I am on ground that I know.
I would like next to deal with the Citizen Military Forces. In the report producer1 by the Army the figures of C.M.F. recruitment are shown. To me it is a great tragedy that the turnover amounts to some 8,000 a year. I feel that that high figure nee’some examination. Why is the turnover in the C.M.F. so great?
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was complimenting the Government on the way in which it had reorganized our defences which has resulted in a well-balanced regular force, highly trained but rather small. I pointed out that the Government relied on the Citizen Military Forces to add numbers which could be employed in any theatre of war in the world. I was very disturbed at the highturnover of recruits in the C.M.F. The publication which has been issued by the Minister indicates that the wastage is such that from 8,000 to 10,000 new recruits arerequired annually to maintain a strength of 30,000 men. This rate of turnover iscostly and wasteful. Can any means of stopping it be devised? I suggest that one step would be to re-examine the proposal that all C.M.F. pay be exempt from taxation. This would be an important benefit and could put an end to the present highrate of turnover of recruits.
Although I realized at the time that it had to be done, I regretted very much theGovernment’s action in putting an end tothe national service training scheme. I know that the Government was very loath to end this scheme; but having regard to the circumstances which have arisen in the last two or three years, and in the light of current affairs, the Government should reexamine its decision. It is most important that every young man in the nation should be trained to bear arms if necessary. The national training scheme was a popular feature of the Government’s previous defence plan, and I believe that it should be put into operation again. It is wrong that there should not be a national service training scheme in these times. I was very pleased to note in the brochure which has been distributed by the Department of the Army that it is intended to increase the number of school cadets from 35,000 to 38,000. This is a very popular form of defence in the schools, and it starts young boys on the right track. I am very glad that the Government has seen fit to increase the number of school cadets.
In conclusion, I should like to reiterate my opening remarks relating to the fact that the defence vote must be associated with foreign policy. I ask the committee to consider very seriously two factors, first, that it is obvious that communism cannot live in a free world, and secondly, that communism is seeking world domination. Those factors cannot be argued because there is overwhelming evidence to support them. It is extremely frightening that just prior to an election the Opposition - the alternative Government - should have such an unreal outlook on defence as that indicated by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), who led the debate for the Opposition on these estimates. The fact that the Opposition would rely on the United Nations Organization to provide a security force for Australia is appalling. One has only to examine closely the conduct of United Nations troops in the Congo when some nations decided that they would not allow their troops to be used for certain purposes under United Nations command. While United Nations troops were trying to prevent war in the Congo, Russia was trying to stulify the work and administration of the United Nations Organization itself. We cannot exclude that factor from our considerations. Can we rely on the United Nations for our defence? To me, that is a pathetic and frightening idea, but it is supported by the Australian Labour Party.
The most curious statements may be found in the speeches of Opposition members during the debate on the Estimates last year. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) said -
I firmly believe that the best defence measure we could take would be to ensure that we had a railway system of uniform gauge throughout the entire continent.
Can you imagine an enemy chief-of-staff examining Australia’s defence potential being told, “Well, Australia has a unified railway system “. What an amazing defence measure to protect this country against the hordes of Communists to our immediate north. That great military authority, the honorable member for Wills, had this to say during the Estimates debate last year -
Honorable members opposite are the scaremongers. We are not the ones who say we must defend ourselves against the surging hordes from the north. In fact, we say those hordes will never come.
What puts him in the position of being able to make such an authoritative statement? The attitude of the alternative Government towards defence must be studied closely by the people before they decide to change the Government. This is a very serious matter.
Another attitude which I regard as unreal is contained in the statement that we hear constantly relating to the vast sums of money that have been spent on defence. This is mischievous because the Opposition knows that 72 per cent, of that money is spent on pay and allowances, and maintenance. Let me tell the Opposition that you measure the value of our defence expenditure by the fact that we have had twelve years of freedom. Reduce the expenditure and we will not have another twelve years of freedom. The Opposition’s attitude is mischievous because every one knows that defence is costly and the greater portion of the defence vote must be spent, of necessity, on pay and allowances.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In speaking to the defence estimates I should like to mention the decision of the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) to have two guided missile destroyers built in the United States of America at a cost of approximately £22,000,000 each. A number of questions have been asked in the House about this proposal and the way in which it will be financed, but all the answers which we have received have been evasive, incorrect and designed to distort the actual position. It was suggested that Australian shipyards are incapable of building these ships and that Australian workmen are incapable of fitting them out. That is the crux of the Government’s attitude in relation to these vessels. It is un-Australian and pessimistic. The Government has failed to carry out its responsibilities to industry. It believes that anything of importance must be built overseas. The Government continually tells the people to have confidence in Australia and to buy Australian. But what does the Government itself do? It buys overseas.
In 1957 the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) admitted that the Navy lacked appropriate ships and that too little had been spent on equipment for the services. But the Government did not come to life and decide to buy some ships until 1961. If the Government had bought in 1957 the ships which it then considered to be modern, they would have been out of date now when compared with the guided missile vessels which it is intended to purchase. We can go further and say that when these vessels are delivered to the Royal Australian Navy in 1965 or 1966 obviously they will be out of date in comparison with ships which then will be considered to be the modern warships of the day. The United States, which launched its first guided missile vessel last September, is the only country in the world to-day which has modern ships. In four years’ time, as honorable members well know, these ships will be out of date - further modifications will have to be made to them and new equipment will have to be installed in them. The Government says that we must be up to date with our defence, but we can be up to date only if our equipment comes rapidly off the assembly line and is brought into speedy use. Just as this year’s motor cars will be out of date this year because something new will be incorporated in them, so will present-day ships be out of date within a very short time.
– Especially warships.
– Warships in particular, as the honorable member says. What concerns me is the Government’s inconsistency in connexion with this matter, and here I should like to refer to a report on the shipbuilding industry by the Tariff Board dated 30th June, 1959. Under the heading “ The Basis of the Board’s Inquiry “ the Tariff Board says -
For reasons of broad national interest, it is the policy of the Government to maintain an efficient shipbuilding industry in Australia.
It is the policy of the Government to maintain an efficient shipbuilding industry in Australia. The report continues -
The board understands that the principal consideration underlying the Government’s policy is the defence significance of the industry in that its operation in peace-time would provide a nucleus of skilled technologists and tradesmen.
The Government says that its policy - it certainly was the policy of the Labour government when it was in office - is to maintain an efficient shipbuilding industry in Australia, primarily to meet the requirements of commercial shipping and, secondly, to ensure that we shall have skilled technicians and tradesmen to build the ships necessary to equip our navy in the unfortunate event of war. But what is the Government doing? It is having built overseas two destroyers at a total cost of £40,000,000 when, if those destroyers were built in Australian shipyards, our technicians and tradesmen would have an excellent opportunity to train in modern requirements. Various Ministers have said that these destroyers cannot be built here because the Australian workmen have neither the abiilty nor the know-how necessary to do the work efficiently. The Australian workman may not have full knowledge of the most modern techniques, but somebody has to be the first to understand these things, and I remind the Government that in past years Australian technicians and tradesmen have shown that they are quite capable of quickly learning how to apply modern techniques efficiently. If Australian workmen had not the ability to acquire knowledge of the latest developments, it would not have been possible for so many industries to be operating successfully here to-day. They have shown their ability in building up the motor car industry, and both the Government and Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited have boasted often that in Australia we have the cheapest steel-producing industry in the world to-day. If the workmen in those industries can acquire intricate techniques, so can the tradesmen and the technicians in the shipbuilding industry be trained to build and fit out the ships.
Let us take the argument to its logical conclusion. We certainly hope that we are never involved in war again, but if that unfortunate day does come, and these destroyers which we are having built overseas are badly damaged by the enemy, who is to repair them? Are we to say to the enemy, “ Hang on for a couple of months, fellows, until we send these two Adams class destroyers to America where the damage you have done to them can be repaired “ ? It is just too ridiculous for words! This is the time when we should be training our workmen, first to build ships, and secondly, to maintain and repair them, or to modernize thiem whenever necessary. The Government is missing an ideal opportunity in this instance for training technicians and tradesmen. The Government has offered as an excuse the fact that these destroyers must be built speedily. I agree that they have got to be built speedily, but I point out that on 10th September last the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) stated that the Williamstown dockyard was employing in all categories, including maintenance of the dockyard, repair and refit of ships, and new construction, some 950 men. He also said -
Employment for at least 800 of these men is assured until the beginning of 1963. Natural wastage from resignations, retirements and so on would account for a large proportion of the reduction in numbers between now and December, 1962. Assuming no new naval programme, the level of employment in 1963 would fall provided the re-fit programme was not increased and no other work was available for the dockyard.
At that dockyard alone, the labour force will decline to the tune of 150 out of 950. Cockatoo Island dockyard is in a similar position. There, according to the Minister, the total work force in all categories is 2,000. When speaking about that dockyard, the Minister said -
Here there is sufficient work in sight to employ the men engaged on new construction until mid-1961
That is for only another ten or eleven months. Is that the way to ensure that Australian shipyards are efficient and able to build ships fitted with the most modern equipment?
The reason why it takes so long to build ships for the Navy is the inability of top officers of the department to make up their minds about just what they want. I have worked on the construction of naval ships, and I know just what takes place in this kind of work. I know just how officers of the department will come along and say: “Put it there. No, take it out of there and put it in there.” It is one of the most inefficient departments one could possibly come across. Its officers cannot make up their minds what they want.
In any case, the new ships which have been ordered are not large; compared to the ships being built at Whyalla, they are only rowing boats, and if Whyalla can build large vessels efficiently, so could the Australian naval shipyards build these destroyers efficiently if the shipyards were kept at a proper standard of efficiency and fitted with the most modern equipment. It must be obvious to honorable members that if the Australian naval shipyards were fitted with the most modern equipment available they could build ships that would compare favorably with those built overseas, and do it at competitive prices.
In the few minutes remaining to me, let me refer to what the Royal Australian Navy has to say about its shipyards and ships. On page 19 of its Golden Jubilee publication, which has been circulated to honorable members, we find this statement -
The Navy to-day is primarily designed to cope with anti-submarine warfare. It has seventeen ships in commission while four new frigates are coming from Australian dockyards. These frigates, known as the Type 12, rank among the world’s most modern anti-submarine escorts.
We can build the most modern type of antisubmarine frigates in the world, yet, according to the Government, we are not capable of building the Adams class destroyers. The whole argument is stupid and ridiculous! The statement continues -
With this new class of frigate the Australian Navy sails into the guided missile class. It is proposed to instal the Seacat close-range antiaircraft missile in these frigates.
And these are the missiles which honorable members on the Government side say Australian shipyards cannot instal in the Adams class destroyers! I repeat that these missiles, which honorable members on the Government side say Australian shipyards cannot instal in the Adams class destroyers, are being installed by Australians in these frigates, which are being built in Australian shipyards. If honorable members care to read the publication to which I have referred, they will find that Australian workmen have the ability to do the job. The only criticism there may be is that Australian shipyards cannot turn out the ships quickly enough. If the Government would only make up its mind about what it wants to have built, and if it would instal in our shipyards modern equipment similar to that in overseas shipyards, Australian workmen will do the work as quickly and efficiently as it is being done overseas.
A good deal has been said about the arrangements made to finance the purchase of these ships. If the Australian Government decided to build these ships here, it would mean a reduction of expenditure by the Department of the Navy on other matters. On the other hand, if we buy them on the hire-purchase scheme overseas - and this is a hire-purchase scheme - a charge will be made against our overseas reserves every year. The publication distributed by the Minister shows that £700,000 must be found this year as a progress payment on the purchase from the United States of America of two Charles F. Adams class destroyers. That £700,000 should be made available as a progress payment in Australia for the provision of wages for Australian workmen and the purchase of Australian goods, such as steel and timber. The job should be done in the Australian shipbuilding yards. This time-payment scheme once again puts the Government in a bad light. The Government prefers to employ people in other countries rather than to employ Australian workmen. If the ships were built here, Australian workmen would gain the ability, the know-how and the technique to refit them and repair them if the occasion to do so arose.
This Government is un-Australian in its outlook. It is against the Australian workmen and it will not accept its responsibility to build ships here. It is not consistent in its approach. It is obvious that within four years these ships will be just as outdated as if they had been built in 1957.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- We have just heard a good example of the inconsistency of the Opposition on many subjects that are discussed in this chamber, particularly on defence. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) appealed for certain action to be taken so that Australian workmen would be employed in naval construction. Some of his colleagues sought the employment of Australian workmen in the construction of aircraft for the Air Force. Honorable members opposite do not care, on the one hand, how much is spent on defence, provided the expenditure is used in a vast rebuilding programme to extend over many years and to provide additional employment. But, on the other hand, they say we are spending too much and should cut the defence vote. This is typical of the inconsistency we hear from the Opposition all the time.
This Government has purchased two Charles F. Adams destroyers for delivery in three or four years. The type-12 frigates took eight or nine years to build here, but they are half the size, carry half the equipment and are not electronically controlled. The Government made a straight-out package deal to buy the destroyers at a flat rate of £20,000,000 each. Naturally, it will make contributions to the cost to suit its own annual Budgets. On the one hand, the honorable member for Newcastle says that the shipbuilding industry is inefficient. Then he contradicts himself and asks why we cannot build these ships here. He accuses the Government of saying that the Australian workman is not first-class. We have never said anything of the sort, but he has. I do not know whether his philosophy is the same as that expressed by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) some years ago. The honorable member for East Sydney said he did not believe in a shipbuilding industry in Australia-
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for East Sydney.
– He did not!
– Let me finish. He said he did not believe in a shipbuilding programme to build naval vessels because naval vessels were instruments of attack and not of defence.
It is with somewhat mixed feelings that I speak to the Defence estimates which seek to appropriate £202,860,000 for the current year. I say this because I believe that, although the Government is getting the best possible value for the money available, the expenditure is still far from sufficient to give the country adequate defences. It is like insuring a timber dwelling which cost £4,000 for, say, £500 against damage by fire. I realize that the Government at all times has many other demands on its national pay-roll and is compelled to cut its cloth according to the measure of the finance available. I suppose half a loaf is better than no bread at all, but if we followed the policies of the Opposition, our defence would really be on a starvation diet.
It is a most singular coincidence that the defence proposals of the Australian Labour Party, as evidenced by many statements made by its spokesmen inside and outside this chamber, parallel so closely in many instances the proposals enunciated by the Communist Party.
– What rubbish!
– The honorable member says, “ What rubbish “, but let me give the committee a recent illustration. I should like to quote briefly from an editorial in the Communist “Tribune”, of 16th
August last. Under a heading “ Defeat War Plan”, the editorial contained this statement -
Menzies, whose whole career has been one oi solidarity with reaction, continues stubbornly to pursue the dangerous path of aggressive provocations against the Socialist Commonwealth.
The petition being circulated by the New South Wales Labour Council calls sharply for a reduction in military spending and a reversal of Menzies aggressive policies.
It is being signed by thousands of workers and can have a very significant impact on the Budget debate. The defeat of the Menzies Government would be a valuable contribution by Australia to the defence of peace. The fight for jobs, for wages and for other vital demands cannot be separated from the most imperative battle of all - the fight to preserve world peace.
The regional and industry peace conferences now in the course of preparation - all these reflect a rising level of organized opposition to Menzies’ policy.
Another editorial in the same paper on 23rd August stated -
The campaign for a 35-hour week .and higher wages should be waged with increased vigour.
What was the result? In this chamber, on 30th August last, the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney) presented a petition from certain electors of New South Wales praying that a programme be legislated for in the interests of the Australian people. Included in the programme submitted were the following: -
Nationalization of the Coal and Steel Industries: Introduction of a 35-hour working week; and mark this -
Diversion of the annual expenditure on defence to peaceful purposes;
Reference to this may be found at page 601 of “Hansard” of 30th August last. The petition undoubtedly was presented with the knowledge and consent of the leaders of the honorable member’s party, and it certainly received the support of his colleagues.
This policy of diverting funds from the defence vote to other channels is not new. If .honorable members cast their minds back to the pre-election promises of the Australian Labour Party in .1955, they will recall that Dr. Evatt, then the leader of the party, made many flamboyant promises. These certainly were based on a tacit acceptance of the diversion of at least half of the defence vote, or some £100,000,000. Again, to bring this up to date, a few months ago the present leader of the Labour Party, with a far larger bag of tricks than the previous leader was ever game to produce, outlined a programme that would cost, according to the estimate of a number of people, anything from £300,000,000 to £400,000,000 per annum. Where will this additional money come from? Labour says it will tax industry and impose an excess profits tax. It will .also impose heavier taxes on the 15 per cent, of the private taxpayers earning more than £40 a week. But surely it is evident that this will not be sufficient to obtain this huge amount of revenue. So once again the defence vote is placed in jeopardy not in the interests of the Australian people but, as they say, “ in the interests of world peace “.
Let me refer also to the attitude of the Opposition to Australia’s defence as exemplified in the debate last year on the defence estimates. On 12th October, 1960, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) said -
My point is that we should prepare ourselves to supply troops to the United Nations and that it is the only justification that Australia has for supplying any troops anywhere at any time.
The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), another stalwart of the Labour Party, said -
This Government should reduce its expenditure on armaments and use the money it is now wasting on expenditure for war to -work for peace. It should devote the money to peaceful uses, such .as the Colombo Plan … It should disarm and contribute to the work of the United Nations.
Later, the honorable member for Reid also said -
What have we .to fear from China? I have said that we need have no fear whatever of the People’s Republic of China. China is concerned only with her own development for peaceful purposes.
I wonder also what it must have cost mentally two other members of the Opposition, each of whom served this country in time of war - one in 1914-18 and the other in 1939-45 - to toe the party line. The honorable member for “Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said on 11th October, 1960-
All we need to have at our disposal is something in the nature of a police force to meet that form of attack pending the -arrival of assistance from the United Nations.
The honorable member lor Wills (Mr. Bryant) said - as has been quoted by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) - and this is worth repeating -
Honorable members opposite are the scaremongers. We are not the ones who say we must defend ourselves against the surging hordes from the north. In fact, we say those hordes will never come.
It was another case of the Brisbane Line. It was like King Canute putting up his hands to stop the waves. That is the pattern of the Labour Party’s policy. The most significant fact about the debate on these estimates twelve months ago was that neither the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) nor the Deputy Leader (Mr. Whitlam) saw fit to discuss this important question. I remind the committee that when this debate was resumed after the suspension of the sitting for lunch there were only four members of the Opposition in this chamber, and there are barely seven or eight now. [Quorum formed.]
Before honorable members opposite decided to shut me up and took some of my time, I wanted to refer to another fact. The United Kingdom is spending £A.39 a head on defence; Canada is spending £A.40 and the United States of America £A.107, but all we are spending on defence is £19 a head of population. How long can we expect America to support us in a war-time emergency when her young men are required to undergo two years compulsory military service whilst we, on the existing vote, find it impossible to give our young men even six months training? How would the average Australian react if the boot was on the other foot?
What we have is little enough, but if the Opposition had its way we would be reduced to a complement of the United Nations police force and a multiplicity of so-called “ peace organizations “ of the kind so actively advocated by Communist sources. The people of Australia will be the judges shortly of whether they will support the Menzies Government’s policies or, to quote the words I used before from the Communist “Tribune” of 16th August - policies of aggressive provocation against the Socialist Commonwealth.
The other alternative is to support the policy of the Opposition which would strip our nation of every vestige of its manhood by taking the defeatist line of pacificism which a Labour government in the United
Kingdom followed before 1939 and cost Great Britain so dearly. Many of us will never forget the shame of Munich or cease to pity the man with the umbrella. I am confident that the pride of all Australians in our glorious traditions of sacrifice to keep our people free from tyranny will need no words of mine to show them which policy is really in the interests of Australia.
.- It is a curious thing that invariably in debates on defence supporters of the Government adopt the attitude that anybody who does not agree entirely with what the Government has done is subversive. There is no other attitude. If you do not agree with what the Government has done, there is something wrong with you and you do not want to defend your country. That is the attitude of the Colonel Blimps and the brassbound people on the Government side. I suggest to honorable members that they do not bother about the postulations and protestations of honorable members on the Government side but have a look at the hard record from the earliest days of federation in Australia until to-day, and they will find that from its inception and until this moment the Australian Labour Party has been forward in its thinking in regard to the defence of Australia. It has not been hidebound and cut-down with the ideas of the brass on this matter. It has acted more with the mind of the people who supply the soldiers, sailors and airmen for the fighting forces.
Away back in the early days of federation, no other party had upon its platform the formation of an Australian navy. That was considered a subversive idea. How dare you have an Australian navy when Great Britain - Britannia, the queen of the ocean - had a navy 15,000 miles away. The forebears of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) would have said that it was wicked and subversive and terribly against all their ideas of patriotism to have a navy of our own to protect our country. So, around 1912 to 1914, when the Minister for Defence of those days was a Labour man and decided, because conventional wars were the order of the day, that we should have compulsory service, we of the Labour Party were courageous enough to do that. Where were the Liberals and the polyglot collection of patriots who did nothing about defence? In those days they said, “ You ought to get your armies from England “, because they are an importing party. Honorable members opposite do not want an Australian navy and they were not quite sure whether we should form an Australian Imperial Force.
If you go ahead a little further and have another look at the hard statistics of the matter and the facts of the nation, I invite supporters of the Government to consider their horrible record in the Second World War. Why was the Menzies Government defeated? It was defeated on one count - because it could not conduct a war. No matter what the supporters of the Government say about it, that is hard history. They can moan and groan and twist, but the fact is that they were dismissed from office because they had slackened the reins of government and could not conduct a war. How did Mr. John Curtin come to be Prime Minister? Previously he had been an obscure Labour man who had recently become the leader of the Labour Party. He was able to get control because the Australian people could see deeper and stronger and would not have a bar of the Liberal government of the day when there was a war to be fought. So, when we tell honorable members opposite about the modern concepts of defence, we do not want all this old brass-hat talk and all this bowing and scraping and ribbing about the past.
The Government ought to come up to date and look at these things. It burns me up to see the complacent junior officers sitting on the Government benches and saying: “ We are the military strength and might of Australia. We pontificate on these matters.” The present Government parties had a glorious opportunity in 1939 to show what they could do. But, metaphorically speaking, they fell flat on their faces. What did they do? They sent men to the Middle East, some with the butt of a rifle and no barrel, and others with the barrel and no butt. Until the Australian Labour Party took office and brought the barrel and the butt together, Australia had no war effort. Yet honorable members opposite dare to suggest that Opposition members like the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and I are subversive and are attacking defence preparations. The Government and its supporters are not yet awake to the facts, and they never will be, because they have not the true Australian attitude in these matters. There are the solid facts of history, and any honorable member on the other side of the chamber is welcome to try to explain them away. What sort of a mouldy record have honorable members opposite? Their patriotism seems to expire when they leave the parade ground. All the performance in defence comes from the Australian Labour Party.
The original platform of the Labour Party provided for an Australian Navy and an Australian Army, and later Labour built the Royal Australian Air Force, as honorable members know. The great war effort of the 1940’s was the work of the Labour Party. Yet we who belong to that party are told by some JohnnyComeLately in the Liberal Party of Australia that Labour has no interest in defence. I do not care whether he is a colonel or a mess orderly; he does not know what he is talking about when he says that Labour is not able to defend Australia. That is how matters stand. The Government and its supporters are answered by the hard facts of history, which take no notice of patriotic sabre-rattling or medal-jingling. Honorable members opposite ought to have a look at the hard facts. The credit for the establishment and organization of Australia’s armed forces goes to the [.abour Party.
In this year of 1961, Government supporters say that Australia is a semi-neutral country because it has a territory covering 3,000,000 square miles and a population of about 10,000,000 people. How, In the name of sweet reasonableness, can the Government’s wasted expenditure of £2,000,000,000 on defence do anything to give this country even the semblance of defences? Of what use is it for the honorable member for Maribyrnong to compare defence expenditure per head of the population in the United States of America with that in Australia? Such a comparison is not the test of the effectiveness of our defences. These things give us something to think about, and* we bring them up for discussion. We agree that the pentropic force is a good one. We say that the Army that we have, infinitesimal though it may be in terms of its units, is a good and solid force on which to depend. It is the equal of any military group that we have ever created in this country, and it. has a good military tradition. The Government ought to: face the facts.
Are we to lean on the Yanks? Are they to be our only hope? Is it the Government’s policy that we cannot have any more expeditionary forces? As a member of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization, Australia falls between two stools. If we are involved in a war against communism we shall receive plenty of help, but, in a war against some other country that assails us, we shall be on our own. I suggest to the- honorable member for Maribyrnong that he ought to read the treaty under which Seato was established and consider carefully all its implications, instead of talking dangerous nonsense such as he has talked to-day about our- defences and our allies.
The Australian, Labour Party is a party of the people.. We who. belong to that party believe that Seato is useless. Half the Asian countries are. not members, of it. They do not want to be in. it. They could not be marched into it under guard. Even the colonel opposite, with, the assistance of the corporal of the guard and his men, could not get those countries into Seato, because they do not want to be in it. We who belong to the Australian Labour Party say that Seato must be re-planned on a cultural, educational, medical and technical basis and not on a military basis. It should include all the countries of South-East Asia. If the Government rolls out a Seato plan on that basis, Labour will co-operate.
I ask honorable members opposite: What is the difference between the South-East Asia Treaty Organization and the United Nations? Seato is an agency of the United Nations, but the tail must never wag the dog. The policy of the Australian Labour Party is that we ought to provide a police force and a peace force for the United Nations. Is anything wrong with that7 If anything is wrong with that idea, there are very many things terribly wrong with Seato.
When it comes to defence matters, honorable members opposite have expeditionary force minds geared to the days of 1914. One cannot make bricks out of straw. And one cannot create armies without men. The Government cannot create the gigantic defence instrumentalities that it favours without the expenditure of millions upon millions of pounds that we do not have available to spend. So let us not hear any more of this Colonel Bogey talk. That went out when Panama hats and dungarees for the troops went out.
The Australian Labour Party has a modern approach to- defence. I have told the committee of our views on Seato. The Australian Labour Party’s policy is opposed to entanglement in- international agreements. We believe that our troops ought to be brought back from Malaya. Is there any crime in having a force for the defence of one’s own country? For’ 150 years, it has been regarded as a crime to be a patriotic soldier1 - a “ choco “, to use a term that we once heard a great deal. I think it is right to have a force for the defence of your own country within its own borders. But give me none of that talk about strategy. As soon as we send troops away from our own bases, we extend our lines of communication. Even the colonel opposite would know what happens when he gets too far away from his own base. That is the situation that we have to face.
We on this side of the chamber are assailed for saying that our troops ought to get out of Malaya. They should never have been in Malaya.. What has Malaya to do with us? Our troops are there only because of old-fashioned: thinking. Although we have not sufficient troops, money and knowhow for the purpose, the Government is trying to build up a gigantic military force. But we; can have only a small military force. Is it not reasonable to use the forces that we have in the best cause of all - the cause of peace? Unless one does not believe in the cause: of peace, one must agree that our forces could be best used in that cause. An Australian: boy who goes into uniform these days does not look for war. He does not believe in it. He. wants to fight for peace, if he- has to fight at all. Under what better banner could he fight than that of the United Nations; which has the dove of peace on a blue background? Honorable members opposite have to agree, unless they are just a lot of brass and want more conventional wars, that this would be the best banner under which to put our forces. It burns me up to hear Government supporters talk about military preparedness. The Army, the Navy and the Air Force that it maintains are all chiefs and no Indians. Anybody has only to look at the salary figures to see what happens. The Portuguese Navy was nothing compared to our armed forces. We want to bring the Government back to sanity in its defence thinking, and we have the basic policy that is needed to bring sanity back into defence in this country. The Australian Labour Party has a great awareness of Australia’s defence needs.
– Does the honorable member
– That mess orderly opposite is not getting through to me. I cannot see him. I am looking the other way.
The whole point is that the Australian Labour Party has a proud defence record over its entire history. When the present Government parties fell down on the job early in World War II. and could not carry on, and when the whole of the world was excited by the thought of what appeared likely to happen in Australia, the Labour Party was called in to take over. Yet honorable members opposite dare to criticize the Australian Labour Party’s policy, which is a policy of peace.
.- Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has just made what I thought was a very immodest sort of speech. This was quite out of character, because he has much to be modest about. This afternoon, the honorable member has paraded himself as the Great Dane of the Australian political scene.
– Woof! Woof!
– He cried “ Woof! Woof! “ all the time. In effect, he said, “ I am speaking, I am barking with all the authority in the world “. But the honorable gentleman is really grievously mistaken in regarding himself as the Great Dane of Australian politics. I assure him that he is, rather, the little pet Chihuahua of Australian politics.
What was the honorable gentleman’s major argument? He said that we have to adopt the modern concept of defence. That was the thing - the modern concept. Then he left us all, like shags on a rock, wondering what the modern concept was.
– He does not know himself.
– My friend, the honorable member for Phillip, who is very discerning in these matters, says that the honorable member for Parkes himself does not know what the modern concept of defence is. Of course he does not know. So one is left to conclude only that what the honorable member for Parkes said twelve months ago, when he was in a state of greater political stability than he appears to be in now, represented his considered opinion of the modern concept of defence planning. Twelve months ago, the little political Chihuahua from Parkes said -
I firmly believe that the best defence measure we could take would be to ensure that we had a railway system of uniform gauge throughout the entire continent.
This is the modern concept. We can just imagine it: One can imagine Mao Tse-tung sitting around with all his generals listening to the words that come thundering from our little Chihuahua from Parkes, to the effect that as long as we have a standardized railway system throughout Australia all will be well. I should imagine that Mao Tse-tung would be quite devastated to hear that.
Then the honorable member made a reference to the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. He said it is useless. I uttered some polite protest when the honorable member made that statement, but he did not heed my protests. He then said that Seato is the agent of the United Nations. If the honorable member’s logic is correct, and I am going to assume that it is cast iron logic and quite correct, then we arrive at this conclusion: Seato is useless, Seato is the agent of the United Nations, therefore the United Nations is useless. Let me project his argument, and the logic of his colleagues, a little further. The honorable members for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), Wills (Mr. Bryant) and Lalor (Mr. Pollard) have all joined with the honorable member for Parkes in asserting that the only defence force in the world that should be recognized is a defence force of the United Nations.
– Hear, hear!
-“ Hear, hear! “, says the honorable member. Well, there is the extension of his logic: Seato is useless and Seato is the agent of the United Nations. The United Nations has a useless body within its orbit, and therefore it is, to say the least, of doubtful value as a defence body or as a body charged with maintaining peace in the world. I apologize to the committee for inflicting upon it this tortuous logic, but it is the logic of the honorable member for Parkes and his colleagues.
– Of course, it is preposterous. It is shameful and unbecoming of the honorable gentleman.
Let me analyse his speech a little further. He turned to my distinguished and gallant friend from Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes), who had made a characteristically forthright speech, and savaged him in what I thought was quite an abrupt and ungenerous way. What had the honorable member for Maribyrnong said? He had pointed out the utterly irresponsible attitude of the Australian Labour Party on defence matters. What was the little peep of protest that we heard from the honorable member for Parkes? He said that only the Australian Labour Party has ever done anything worthwhile to build up the defence of this country. He took us back to 1912 and 1914 and told us what the Australian Labour Party had done in those days. All I can say is that the honorable member is prepared either to flatter himself or to despise the Australian Labour Party of 50 years ago, because no one can sell me the idea - and I am sure that any one would have a difficult job in selling it to the Australian people - that the honorable member for Parkes to-day epitomizes the attitude and the traditions of the Australian Labour Party of 50 years ago. The members of that party 50 years ago would not have recognized him. They would have regarded him as a sort of-
– No, I would not say a chihuahua in this connexion, because I do not want to offend the Chihuahuas. He would have been regarded as a sort of political beachcomber.
The honorable member for Parkes turned to my friend, the honorable member for Maribyrnong, and he asked, “ What has your party ever done in the matter of defence? Why, you could not carry on in the last war.” It is interesting to look at the record, because a former Prime Minister of this country, Mr. Curtin, who led the Australian Labour Party, said in October, 1941, in referring to his predecessors in office-
– What else could he have said?
– Well, this is what he said, and I think it is worth while reminding honorable members opposite that he said this -
I have to pay tribute to the Government which preceded my own for the constructive work they have done in defence and the foundations they have laid.
Which way does the honorable member for Parkes want to be understood? Does he want to adhere to his recent statements about the performance of Liberal governments in the defence field? If he does, then he must be understood to hold that his former leader was quite wrong. Then the honorable member continued-
– Your own leader said you might be a lawyer in 50 years.
– Well, I hold out hopes. I do not know where you are going. Let us consider some of the other observations that have been made by the honorable member’s colleagues. Do not think for one moment that the statements made last year by the honorable members for Parkes, Reid and Wills were parts of some extravaganza, because I assure the committee that they were not. Going back to 1937-38, we find that the same kind of sentiments were expressed by other members of the Labour Party. The honorable member for Lalor said -
Personally, I would not spend threepence on armament works.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) said-
It is amusing to hear people say that we shall not give up New Guinea. To these people I would say that if it should become necessary to defend our Mandated Territory, they should defend it themselves.
That is a fine thing for the honorable member to have said. Yet he talks about the Brisbane line.
What was the last thing the honorable member for Parkes had to say? He said that if it ever came to a struggle we should fight at home. If, in five years’ or 50 years’ time, we are faced with an attack on our country, something of this nature will occur if the policy suggested by the honorable member for Parkes is adopted: Mao-Tse tung, or his descendants, will come along with thousands of divisions of troops, heading for Botany Bay. Until they land on Australian soil we will not be allowed to intervene or make any protest whatsoever.
– The honorable member will shake their hands, as he did with the Japanese.
– Well, I would not be surprised at anything he did.
The last matter I wanted to refer to, perforce briefly, because I have used up a good deal of my time-
– You have even lost your chihuahua.
– Not really; I will have to come over and pat you later. The last matter I wish to refer to concerns not something that is in the Estimates, but something that is not in them. That may be an Irish way of putting it, but honorable members will understand what I mean when I enlarge on the matter a little. Some short time ago my friend, the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm), and I had the pleasure of visiting the jungle training centre at Canungra. Both of us were tremendously impressed by what we saw and by the work that was being done there. The main object of one of the courses was to impress on the minds of servicemen undergoing the course the need to understand why they were in the service. They were not simply told, “You must be ready to oppose an enemy in the future “; they were told that it was necessary for them to understand what they were going to protect. I thought this was a most valuable exercise. My friend, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) has told me that this kind of instruction is being continued. I wonder whether we realize just how much the civilian population of Australia also needs to understand the struggle that is going on. As I say, I was impressed by what I saw in an Army establishment, and I understand that the Royal Australian Air Force is doing something along the same lines. To illustrate my point, let me refer to the recent case involving George Blake. It will be recalled that George Blake was sentenced by the Lord Chief Justice of England to 43 years in gaol, and the words of the Lord Chief Justice as he sentenced him were to this effect -
You have rendered utterly useless most of your country’s efforts.
That is a very serious charge to be made by the Lord Chief Justice of England. What Blake had done was to reveal virtually the whole of his country’s security network right out to the Middle East and to expose some hundreds of British agents working for their country and for the cause of world peace - despite some cynical people who would say the contrary - to danger and to death.
The history of Blake is very interesting. In 1951, at a small place in Korea called Manpo, Blake was in company with a small group of missionaries, including a British Anglican missionary named Hunt, an Australian Catholic missionary, Father Phillip Crosbie, and a Salvation Army missionary named Lord, as well as a number of Methodist and other missionaries. They were told that they had to march to a place right up on the Manchurian border. On the night before they were to start Blake disappeared. When he returned he said that he had tried to escape, had been caught doing so, and had been given a mild lecture. He went on the march with the missionaries. The Salvation Army missionary, Lord, had told the North Korean authorities that if the missionaries had to make the march many of them would die. His prophecy, unhappily, was fulfilled, because many of them did die. This, I repeat, happened in 1951. In 1961 the George Blake who had gone on this march was sentenced by the Lord Chief Justice of England for treason and subversion of the worst possible variety. The point is this: Nobody looking at Blake’s record after he came back from Korea would have any doubt in his mind as to Blake’s sense of loyalty, his bona fides and his whole attitude. The view taken would be, broadly, that this was a man who had been exposed to tremendous persecution and great privation, and there would be no reason whatsoever to doubt his capacity to serve his country faithfully. The point I want to make with regard to the Defence estimates is that the attack upon the amount-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– There is no equivocation about the Labour Opposition’s view in respect of this very important topic, defence. We believe that up to date we have stated our case forcefully, without compromise and very realistically. We feel that this country cannot afford the sabre-rattling which is necessary to justify the provocative foreign policy of honorable members opposite, especially the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) who, as everybody in the chamber knows, has pursued in various parts of the globe all the policies which could bring the world to a state of disaster. Recognizing the devastating nature of modern weapons and techniques, we believe that Australia should rather be doing its utmost to engender a new hope for peace among the peoples of the world - in effect, a new hope for the survival of civilization. So we put forward sensible ideas, which are shared by many of the farsighted people of the world. We believe that the place of Australia in world affairs is as part of a United Nations police force, which will have as its objective the job of keeping peace in the world.
The Government has nothing to be proud of in its defence policy, which has been one of fits and starts. It has been an erratic policy. After all, the Prime Minister has discarded all the people who might reasonably be expected to do a decent job in regard to defence, and has brought along a bunch of misfits. Who are they, when all is said and done? The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) is an ex-Air Force pilot. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) is an ex-air-raid warden. Despite the fact that we have the colonel and the son of the general over there, it is the voice of the exairraid warden that prevails with the Army. The Minister for Air (Senator Wade) is a councillor from Horsham. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Hulme) is a commissioner in the Boy Scouts. The experts on the other side have not had an opportunity to express their views on the subject of defence. We have even had air marshals on the other side of the House whose opinions the Government never listened to - air marshals who threw up their hands in despair year after year and condemned the Government for its failure to do a decent job.
The waste of technical ability and the squandering of public money are completely unjustified, and I am sure that honorable members opposite must find appalling the deterioration of our defence forces since this Government came into office. The way some honorable members opposite talk would make one think that they wanted to build a magnificent defence force. Let us look at the defence statistics provided by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) for the assistance of honorable members in this debate. For example, the number of Navy personnel has fallen from a peak of 21,542 in 1952 to 18,872 in 1961- a substantial fall. The number of Army personnel has fallen from a peak of 110,350 in 1956 to 49,050 in 1961. Those figures are available in the official material provided by the Minister for Defence, and cannot be disputed. They show a fall of more than 50 per cent, in the number of Army personnel since 1956. The number of Air Force personnel has fallen from 21,039 in 1953 to 16,399 in 1961.
– You realize that we have given up national service?
– Of course I do, but I am dealing with the net effect of everything you have done from the personnel stand-point in the three services, in which the total number of personnel has fallen from a peak of 146,576 in 1956 to 84,321 in 1961. If you can be proud of that you can have your pride. After all, your record does not compare with the result that so many would like to see. Last week, the Minister for the Army was thoughtful enough to provide a table showing a comparison of regular army strengths in various countries. This showed that, with India and New Zealand, Australia was right down at the bottom of the list in respect of strength per 1,000 head of population. Eighteen countries were listed, and the top country - North Korea - is shown as having 41 army personnel per 1,000 of population. France has 18 and North Vietnam has 16.9. We do not have 41 army personnel per 1,000 of population - we have 2.1 per 1,000. To judge from what you say on the other side you have done a great job. How aggressive you would like to be - but what you have done is a mere drop in the ocean.
– Order! I remind the honorable member, as I have reminded other honorable members, that he should be addressing his remarks to the Chair.
– I am referring to the Government and what it has done, and not to what the Chairman of Committees has done. What the Government has done does not mean very much. We heard the Minister for Defence earlier today say that those who believe that the cost of defence is beyond our resources are doing the country a great disservice, or words to that effect.
– I did not.
– The Minister criticized the Opposition for having said-
– No, I did not. I said that you advocated shutting up the defence force altogether.
– We merely said what the figures that I have .given indicated - that you cannot afford to provide an adequate defence for Australia. The Minister may criticize that statement, but it is interesting to note that some Government supporters have expressed the same view over the years. For that matter, my Liberal opponent in the electorate of Hughes has also expressed that view in a press article. He said, for example -
The financial difficulty is that Australia cannot afford to defend herself. Our inability to devote much of the national income to defence defines the minor role which Australia must accept in the world of nuclear armament. No Australian government, faced with an ever-increasing bill for social services and expanding governmental responsibilities Tinder a planned economy, could hope to meet the defence requirements as well.
That is a statement from the Liberal who will oppose me at the forthcoming federal election. So, if the aspirations of members opposite are fulfilled they will be having some one on their side of the chamber after the next election saying precisely what I am saying to them now. This is the crux of what the Labour Opposition is putting to the Government now. The Government is humbugging and indulging in skulduggery because it cannot provide adequate defence. Australia should look to the United Nations, as Labour has argued. The figures show that even Japan, a defeated country, is able to provide a stronger defence force than we in Australia can provide. Japan is spending 136,000,000,000 yen per annum, which I understand amounts to a little more than we in Australia are spending on defence. The Japanese .have more personnel under arms than we in this country have. The figures are not mine, but were provided by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Menzies) in answer to a question in this chamber. Japan’s ground self-defence force has 180,000 service personnel. Her maritime self-defence force has 25,000 service personnel, and her air self-defence force has 30,000 service personnel. When I looked at these figures last, Japan .had a lot more men under arms than we have.
– What is the difference in population?
– That is a peculiar argument. It is not the difference in population that is important but the extent to which you are able adequately to defend your country. Obviously a much larger force is needed to defend Australia than to defend Japan. Yet the fact is that Japan, a defeated country, has a lot more people under arms than we have in this country.
There is not much time in which to go into these matters in detail, but I am concerned with the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, and will make some points in respect of each of them. As far as the Navy is concerned we have gone down the drain to a considerable extent. On 29th March, 1960, the present Minister for Defence said -
The present front-line aircraft of the Fleet Air Ann will be worn out by mid-1963.
The higher performance, more sophisticated aircraft which would replace them could not operate from the present aircraft carrier, H.M.A.S. “Melbourne”, but would require a more modern and faster carrier.
That was in March, 1960, yet now, more than one and a half years later, we still have this outmoded aircraft carrier - the only one in the Australian fleet and the flagship, admitted by the Minister for Defence to be outmoded more than one and a half years ago. It is still in service and still the flagship and still obsolete. At the present time, we are in fact abandoning the Fleet Air Arm and are providing a number of helicopters to protect the great Royal Australian Navy. What a fascinating state of affairs it is! Millions of pounds are invested and thousands of men enlisted in the Navy, but it is not going to have the protection of a Fleet Air Arm. It is to be protected by only a handful of helicopters which will operate from an outmoded aircraft carrier, as the Minister admitted one and a half years ago.
This then is the state of the Navy. No submarines, let alone atomic-powered submarines! There is so much obsolescence in the fleet that the Government is spending several million pounds a year in repairing the ships that we have. As the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) and other honorable members on this side have said, we are not even concerned to give Australian industry a fair share of the naval shipbuilding work. This year we are buying six Ton-class minesweepers from the United Kingdom for £3,000,000 although these could be built in our State dockyards or elsewhere because there are shipbuildrs out of work all around the Australian coast to-day. We are buying 27 Wessex helicopters from the United Kingdom this year at a cost of £5,700,000. These are toys to take the place of what is really needed - a Fleet Air Arm to protect the Navy. We are buying two Charles F. Adams-class destroyers from the United States of America for £40,000,000, and so it goes on. The Royal Australian Navy is not getting a fair go. It has one officer for every seven personnel. At least six ships are scrapped every year and H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “, which the Government admits to be an out moded and obsolete vessel, is permitted to remain as the flagship of the Navy.
What fascinating bungling and inefficiency there has been for years with the Army. We have seen the replacement of the .303 rifle by the FN rifle, the replacement of the old 25-pounder with the 105 m.m. gun and the expenditure of £46,000,000 on the National Service Training Scheme - money poured down the drain. The Minister has said that national service training was not a sensible idea because there was no integration between the Citizen Military Forces and the national service trainees. We told the Government that for years, and the reasons why it abandoned that scheme ultimately were the reasons why it should never have been undertaken. Then we have the Centurion tanks. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) has admitted that it would take from ten to fifteen days for them to travel from Victoria, where they are based, to Perth, should occasion arise, and from fourteen to 21 days to travel to Darwin. How much notice does the Government want of the intention of any aggressor to land in Perth? The tanks are not dispersed.
We have no adequate defence in Australia. The Government might as well face up to the facts, take some heed of the Opposition’s point of view and give some consideration to the protectiveness of the United Nations.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– When there is a debate on defence in this House, we, on the Government side, look at a very sensitive, split, and hypocritical Opposition. There is no other debate on which the Opposition is more split or more sensitive, and this is true of most Labour parties throughout the world that have been infiltrated by left-wing thinkers who support communism or are fellow-travellers. These fellow-travellers do not want to see any military bulwark to keep communism in its place. They would rather see Australia an uncommitted nation, completely independent, a neutral country without any defence whatsoever. Those countries in the world which are neutral to-day can be thankful to Britain, the United States of America and other nations with large military forces which are prepared ro stop further aggression by communism. If every country took a neutral outlook, it would not be long before there would be world domination by the Communists.
If we have any complaint about the defence vote it is that we do not spend enough and do not contribute our fair proportion to defence compared with other countries such as the United States of America, France and Britain. If we are all in this game to-day we all have an obligation to play a fair game and contribute our share. I believe that in Australia we have a unique situation. We must develop this country as quickly as we can. Therefore, although our defence vote might not be as large per head of population as that of some other countries, it must be realized that we are spending a lot on national development, which is equally important in defence.
I am sorry that the national service training scheme has been discontinued. I was very interested in the result of a gallup poll on this subject which indicated that 75 per cent, of Australians interviewed were in favour of national service training. The people felt that young men should learn discipline, and that to have young men trained would be of great benefit to our security. If we are not to have a national service training scheme it is vitally important that we try to raise the strength of the school cadets. I am pleased to learn that the number of school cadets will be increased by about 3,000. But that is only a meagre increase. It should be substantially greater because from these school cadets we will obtain recruits for the Citizen Military Forces. If our young men are not interested in the C.M.F., our whole revised defence system will break down.
However, my main concern in speaking to the defence estimates is in connexion with a matter within the jurisdiction of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer). I wish to support the case which the Gallipoli Legion of Anzacs Club has put to him for a special medal to be struck and presented to those veterans who participated in the Gallipoli landing and the Dardanelles campaign. It is strange that these old diggers parading through the streets on Anzac Day have no special decoration to show that they participated in that campaign. In 1919, the Australian and New Zealand Governments requested the British Government to strike a special medal. However, after designing a medal - an eight-pointed star with “ Gallipoli “ in the centre, bearing the date 1914-15 - and after preparing a special ribbon, the British Government decided not to issue the medal because it thought that the medal would indicate discrimination against the Indian and other forces which took part in the campaign. So time has gone on and nothing has been done to distinguish those brave Australians who established Australia as a nation. They performed a great national service for this country.
On 25th April, each year, we commemorate this great event. It was the first major campaign in which Australia had participated, and, as a result of it, we became known throughout the world for the courage of our men who made the landing and battled on for many months. The Gallipoli landing has become a classic legend and will become an Australian saga for a timeless period. For the information of honorable members, 30,400 Australian troops took part in the action and only 2,446 came off without any injury. I doubt whether there has ever been a campaign in which so many Australian troops took part and in which so many were wounded in some way. I do not think there has ever been any event about which more patriotic speeches have been made or more eulogies written. It would be fitting for the Minister to reconsider this matter sympathetically and approve some identification of the veterans who took part in the campaign.
– Why at this stage?
– Why has it not been done in the past? Just because it has not been done is no reason why it should not be done. The legion has revived its move to get some form of recognition for the Gallipoli veterans. It is very sensitive about this matter. It believes that if this is such an important historical event, those who took part in it, or their next-of-kin or relatives, should be able to identify the men who were there. The legion has written to the Minister and I should like to read the reasons, that he gave for refusing, to do anything about issuing a special medal. He stated -
The British Government, who were responsible for the issue- of medals, refused the request because it was considered unfair to discriminate between Australians and New Zealanders, and Indians, and Britishers who served on Gallipoli.
You will appreciate that to strike a. new medal would require the approval of Her Majesty the Queen.
I feel “sure you will agree that to seek such approval some forty-six years after the landing, when a large number of those who served on’ Gallipoli: are no longer with us, is not in keeping with the dignity which, is associated with the granting of medals, or the brave deeds which were performed on Gallipoli.
The Minister has given very sound reasons for his decision, but there is an answer to each of them. As to the statement that: it would be discriminatory to issue a special medal, this would not be the first occasion on which certain nations have struck special medals which could be regarded as indicating discrimination against others. The French and the Turks both struck special medals to mark the Dardanelles campaign because they considered that such high valour and courage were displayed during it and because it was of such great military significance. The Mons battle in France, which was of special significance to British and Australian troops, was marked by the addition of a small rosette to the 1914-15 Star. Canada has also struck many medals of her own accord. There is the Canadian Medal, the Canadian Service Medal and the Canadian Forces Decoration. During the last war the Canadian Medal was given only to Canadian soldiers who served in both France and Germany. So again there was discrimination against the British and other troops who served in those theatres.
There is also the Australian General Service Medal, 1939-45. In addition, eight area medals were given during this period. These include the Africa Star and the Pacific Star which designate certain areas of battle. It is also interesting to note that members of the Australian Ninth Division who fought with the British Eighth Army in the El Alamein campaign were permitted to wear the figure “ 8 “ super-imposed on their ribbon to signify that they took part in that campaign. But we cannot distinguish the Australian soldier who took part in the famous Gallipoli campaign or in any other sphere of battle during 1914 and 1915, except Mons. The Minister has stated also that to strike a new medal would require the approval of Her Majesty the Queen. If this Government supported the move I do not think, there would be any objection from that quarter.
As to the other aspect regarding giving approval for a medal 46 years after the event, and the statement that this is not in keeping with the dignity associated with the granting of medals, I believe that it would be showing a great disregard for important historic events if we did not give them some recognition. This would not be the first occasion on which medals have been granted many years after the event. For example, the Military General Service Medal to cover action between 1793 and 1814 was issued 55 years later; the Naval General Service Medal in respect of action between 1793 and 1840 was not granted until 1848; the first Indian Medal was issued in 1851 which was 52 years after the first action, and the Canadian General Service Medal for 1866- 1870 was issued in 1899, 33 years later. So, there are precedents for issuing medals after the event. Therefore, I do not think it could be argued that it would be establishing a precedent to issue a medal so much later. These men would like some recognition of the part they played. I know that many of those who served there have died. In fact, it must be admitted that even if the medals had been issued in 1919 great numbers of soldiers would not have been able to receive them personally because so many never left Gallipoli. But their next of kin would be very proud indeed to have one of these medals. My father took part in the initial landing on Gallipoli and, as his next of kin, I would like to have something to pass on to my children to show that their grandfather actually took part in that campaign. I am not one of those who believe that medals should be issued all round the countryside like tin cans, and I know that there have been many other great military exploits, such as at Tobruk, on the Kokoda Trail and Shaggy Ridge, all just as heroic as Gallipoli, but Gallipoli marked the birth of Australia as a nation. It is of such great significance to Australia that we commemorate it, and it is only right and proper that the men who took part in heroic campaigns, such as Gallipoli and £1 Alamein, should be given something in recognition of what they did.
The Gallipoli Legion of Anzacs suggests that if the proposal is agreed to, any Anzac who wants a medal, or rosette, whatever might be decided upon, should apply to the Services Board for it. The Services Board will then make inquiries to ascertain whether the applicant is entitled to receive the medal or rosette. Similarly, if a serviceman’s next of kin wishes to have the medal or rosette, application should be made to the board and an investigation as to entitlement carried out. I know this might be a difficult task.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- These Defence estimates need to be discussed in the light of the fact that the Soviet Union has recently increased its defence budget by one-third, or £1,570,000,000 Australian, making a grand total of £6,280,000,000 Australian for defence. This expenditure is 32 times as great as that of Australia, whereas their population is twenty times as great as that of Australia. If our defence expenditure per capita were equal to the Soviet Union’s defence expenditure per capita, our defence budget would be £314,000,000, not about £200,000,000. Of course, the comparison of £314,000,000 with the £200,000,000 does not show the true picture because a far lower proportion of the Soviet expenditure goes to pay and allowances for servicemen and a far greater proportion of it goes to capital equipment for defence. The recent air display by the Soviet Union at Tushino shows that Soviet Russia, despite its apparent concentration of rocketry, has been developing manned aircraft vigorously. I want to direct most of my remarks this afternoon to the Navy, but I should like to make passing reference to the Royal Australian Air Force which is not at present equipped with what any one would regard in modern warfare as a significant bomber.
The committee needs to look at the major decisions which the Government has made in relation to the Navy. Its first decision was to order 27 Westland Wessex Mark 31 helicopters from the United Kingdom for the re-equipment of H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “ as an anti-submarine helicopter carrier. Those who look back on the debates on Defence estimates over the past few years will see that again and again there was stressed the need for helicopters with anti-submarine weapons. To-day, we have a situation in which nuclear-powered submarines are capable of moving below the surface at a speed of at least 30 knots, while the surface speed of destroyers has not greatly increased since World War II. Let us even concede that it may be up to a maximum of 45 knots, though I doubt whether the Charles F. Adams class is capable of such a speed. The comparison which one must make is that in the Second World War a destroyer capable of travelling on the surface at 35 knots in pursuit of a submarine which, below the surface, could do, at the most, nine or ten knots, had a good chance to search back and forth across the surface to locate the submarine. The submarine would not have gone so far away if the first run which the destroyer made had missed locating it. But to-day, when there is not a significant difference between the speed of a submarine under the surface and the speed of a destroyer upon the surface, it is to be doubted whether the destroyer is a decisive anti-submarine weapon. It is quite true, as we were reminded this morning, that destroyers can fire to-day a kind of torpedo - a homing torpedo - which will pursue a submarine under water at a far higher speed than the destroyer itself is capable of travelling at but, at the same time, one ought to remember that submarines can also fire homing torpedoes at destroyers, and the submarines do not need to surface for the commander to look for destroyers through a periscope as he did in the past. So it would seem that the strongest possible protection a group of ships or a ship could have to-day is that they or it should be a base for a considerable number of helicopters equipped with submarine-hunting appliances to spread out round the ship or ships. It as important to know whether these helicopters themselves will drop torpedoes, which will home on to the submarines. If they do not, then we depend on the destroyer, and there is some doubt, in my mind anyhow, whether a destroyer so equipped has any great advantage over a submarine equally equipped with homing torpedoes.
Another factor to be considered is that helicopters can travel over the surface of the water at about 80 knots, and so have a margin of speed over the submarine which increases their efficiency as anti-submarine hunters. I am sure that if one looks through “ Hansard “ one will find that the plea for these helicopters was made at least five years ago, and this decision by the Government to bring out helicopters as a significant anti-submarine force seems to be rather belated.
The second major decision of the Government was to convert H.M.A.S. “ Sydney “ for use as an assault carrier. That seems to be a reasonable decision, as the ship appears to be wasting at the present time.
The third decision was to purchase destroyers of the Charles F. Adams class, armed with Tartar guided missiles. Honorable members will recall that on the last two or three occasions on which the Estimates were debated there was some criticism from this side of the fact that the Royal Australian Navy was equipped with Britishtype destroyers which are basically designed and prepared for the North Sea. We criticize those British-type destroyers first on the ground of their habitability; for instance, their inability to make sufficient water for the use of crews in tropical areas. The latest modifications in water-making capacity and air-conditioning which have been made to the ships have met some of the criticisms, but, after all, they are basically North Sea types of destroyers and still do not have sufficient range for Pacific service. The third decision - that to equip the Navy with American-type destroyers designed for service in the Pacific, and with considerable range - is therefore a wise one. But there are certain questions about tha’ which need to be asked. The United States of America is not a cheap country for shipbuilding. In point of fact, it is one of the dearest shipbuilding countries in the world. There might be many reasons why the Government decided to have these destroyers built in America, but they have not yet been made known to honorable members, and it seems logical, therefore, to ask why the Government did not seek to obtain designs from the United States of America and have the ships built either here, which I think would be a cheaper shipbuilding country than the United States of America - although I think this is still a dear country - or somewhere else where they would not have been so costly. The sum of £20,000,000 is an awfully high price to pay for a destroyer.
– There is an awful lot of equipment on them.
– That is perfectly true, but we are still capable of building the basic ship. I do not think we could build the electronic equipment and so forth, which could account for the high price, but I am speaking of the basic ship itself.
– The £20,000,000 includes all the equipment, missiles and so on.
– Quite, but it is still a fact that the United States, even in the manufacture of this equipment, is not a cheap country from which one can purchase. I want to say something about the Tartar guided missile later. It has a range of 10 miles, and I personally doubt whether that is sufficient for a ship to defend itself against aircraft attack. I am quite certain that an aircraft can detect a ship and can aim a guided missile at a ship from a distance of more than 10 miles. If the range of the replying weapon is 10 miles, the ship, I am afraid, is a sitting target.
The fourth decision of the Government is to equip four new Royal Australian Navy frigates with British Short Seacat surfacetoair missiles. We dealt a short time ago with the inadequacy of guns to deal with air attack. But I ask why choose the Short Seacat missile which on the Hampshire class missile destroyers is a secondary battery and not a primary battery? The Seaslug is the primary battery of the Hampshire class of British guided missile destroyers and the secondary battery for close-range work is the Seacat. Why the secondary battery of a British destroyer becomes the primary battery of an Australian frigate needs explanation. It again appears to be that in the Government’s thinking there is an inadequate perception of the range from which air attack can now be launched upon a ship.
The fifth major decision of the Government is its agreement with the Royal Navy under which its submarine division at Sydney will be equipped with three T-class conventional submarines for use in the antisubmarine training of Australian naval units. They will also be used to train maritime reconnaissance squadrons of the Royal Australian Air Force and to provide some training of Royal Australian Navy officers and men as members of submarine crews. Tests have been conducted by the United States Navy again and again in the location of submarines. But when the United States is testing whether its surface navy can defend New York from a submarine firing rockets, it does not make the test with conventional submarines running along under the surface; it makes the test with nuclear-powered submarines.
There can be only one significance in antisubmarine training for the Royal Australian Navy. It is being trained as part of a potential Western alliance to deal with Russian submarines. The Russian submarines with which it will have to deal, if ever it has to deal with them, will not be conventional submarines. It seems to me to be outmoded thinking on the part of the Government to have the Royal Australian Navy trained for work against conventionalpowered submarines. Surely the location of the faster nuclear-powered submarines would be a better form of training. It would also be a better form of crew training for naval officers and men if nuclear submarines were lent and if we are ever to have what could be regarded as a deterrent navy as distinct from a police navy, which is what the Royal Australian Navy is. A deterrent navy would have to be equipped with nuclear-powered and nuclear-weaponed submarines, because this is the decisive naval weapon to-day, if it is not the decisive of all weapons to-day. It is the most difficult to locate. It is possible that even the faster aircraft will now have weapons directed against them which are electronically controlled and which can home on them and so prevent their getting through. But it is a much more difficult proposition, certainly for this country with all its capital cities on the coast, to locate and intercept a submarine which, on the Polaris style, can now fire guided missiles from under the surface of the water.
The submarine to-day is the capital ship of the Navy. We are spending £20,000,000 on a destroyer. Once upon a time, such expenditure would have purchased a supercapital ship. The whole submarine policy of the Navy, it seems to me, cannot be logically defended. I know that this argument will not be accepted and I am morally certain that in four or five years’ time the Government, if it is still the Government, will swing its naval policy over to nuclearpowered submarines. Four or five years after the plea for helicopters, we are how having them made a major weapon; four or five years after the plea for nuclearpowered submarines, the plea will be accepted.
The next decision of the Government was the acquisition from the United Kingdom of a flotilla of six modern Ton class minesweepers, two of which will be fitted with special asdic gear for mine-hunting work. Four will be delivered before the end of next year. I cannot understand the logic of this decision. The Navy must believe that it will have to deal with mines, if it is equipping with minesweepers. I leave aside the question as to whether mines constitute a likely form of attack on Australia. But why are only two of the six minesweepers being equipped with asdic mine-locating gear? If that is the most efficient means of locating mines, it seems senseless to have two equipped with it and four not so equipped. The Navy will not be able to arrange which ships will come upon mines, if they are mine-hunting.
The Soviet Navy, of course, in the past - whether in the present is a more moot question - has emphasized the use of mines very heavily, for the reason that in the shallow waters of the Baltic the mining of the waters was a major defensive stroke. It is not so certain that the Soviet Navy envisages attacking the world’s shipping lanes with mines, other than around the United Kingdom and the coasts of Europe to cut Europe off from United States assistance.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I move - [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 29).]
The proposals which I have tabled provide for temporary duties on -
Paper cones of the type used in the spinning and weaving industries.
A temporary duty of 11/2d. per lb. is imposed on high density polyethylene. Low and intermediate density polyethylene is presently subject to a temporary duty of 3d. per lb. The current proposals now impose a further temporary duty of3/4d. per lb. for every penny or part thereof by which the free on board price of this type of polyethylene is less than 28d. per lb.
On paper cones of types used in the spinning industries, a temporary duty of 8d. per lb. is imposed.
In each instance, the temporary duties are imposed following reports by deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board and are in addition to the normal duties applying to the goods. The normal protective needs of the industries concerned have been referred to the Tariff Board for full inquiry and report. The temporary duties will remain in effect only until the Government has taken action on the final reports of the board, but in any case not longer than three months after the receipt of the relevant reports.
I commend the proposals to honorable members.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table of the House reports by deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Ordered to be printed.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed (vide page 1741).
. -I take this opportunity to speak on the defence estimates that are before the committee. I hope that most honorable members have studied the small booklet we have prepared which gives some valuable information on defence matters. I hope also that honorable members have examined the display which the Army has arranged in King’s Hall. It gives some idea of the operations of the Army and the wide variety of equipment that has to be provided to equip a modern army. It should be of particular interest to those who have been critical of the money that is spent on the Army.
In the year since we previously discussed the defence estimates, the Army has been engaged in the greatest re-organization in its history. This re-organization has been of far greater magnitude than is realized by most people because it has involved the re-organization of our forces into a pentropic army. It has produced a field force much bigger than we had before. It has reduced the command structure and produced a new and very much larger volunteer Citizen Military Force. The reorganization has resulted in something that has never been attempted before - a one-army concept which is an essential ingredient of the organization. It is designed to bring together the Regular Army and the citizen soldiers in one army for training and every other aspect of the organization. This process has been going on for twelve months and magnificent progress has been made.
The three services have been engaged in an intensive programme of integration. I will not go into details but I can assure honorable members that close integration and co-operation between the three services has been achieved. The outstanding feature of the change has been the smoothness with which it has proceeded. I would have expected much more difficulty than we experienced on the ground that the change interfered with age-old traditions of the Army. Many of them which were part of the lives of those concerned were abandoned. There was a complete change in the formation of no less than 850 units. Unfortunately, in the process, many good soldiers hadto be retired. They had given good service but because of the revolutionary changes, it was not possible to hold many of the non-commissioned officers in particular. They were good, capable men but they were not suitable for the field force we were establishing. Therefore theyhad to go.
– What was the averageage of these men?
– The average age would be 35 to 40 years. We had to dispense with them to create the new concept and yet, peculiarly enough, as we dispensed with many men, we had then to activate a vigorous recruiting campaign to get new men because we were seeking young men to build up the strength of the defence forces. In the latter part of the year, this campaign has been successful. I want to thank all those who helped. The spirit of cooperation throughout the Services has been magnificent. Men who were hurt did not complain. They deserve the thanks of the people of Australia for the way they acted in these difficult circumstances. I thank all those who were associated with the reorganization. They took a difficult year in a spirit which was in the best interests of Australia. There must have been many heart-burnings. Unit titles were altered or abandoned. Amalgamations and re-arrangements that were made were quite foreign to the traditions of the past. Colours were laid up. All these changes must have created heartburning and those concerned deserve the thanks of the people because the net result was a much more effective and efficient army. I believe the Army to-day is the most effective and efficient that we have ever had in peace-time in the history of Australia.
The Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) has covered the details very well and I will not repeat them. Honorable members know that we have a battalion and various ancillary troops in Malaya to which, I believe, the Labour Party objects. We have two regular Army battle groups and they are in a state of readiness to a greater degree than ever before. This is a matter for great satisfaction. We have eight C.M.F. battle groups and some of them - not all, I admit - are at a high state of efficiency. I am very pleased to report that recruiting is going well and we look like meeting our objectives in every way, both in the Regular Army and in the C.M.F. We have cleared out all non-effective personnel from the C.M.F. and so there have been some fluctuations in numbers. Quite a few men who were not effective have gone out of the force, and the numbers have been built up again until we have 28,000 men although our total objective is only 30,000 as at 30th June, 1962. The civilian employees in the Army have been reduced in numbers as a result of this re-organization. The numbers were reduced by 300 this year and with greater efficiency and some mechanization, there will be a gradual reduction of the civilian staff during the current year.
Reference has been made in the debate to the school cadets. I heartily agree that we should have a greater number of school cadets. I have taken close interest in this part of the Army’s work because I believe it is at least an alternative to national service training which unfortunately we had to abandon because of circumstances whether we liked doing it or not. I believe it is well worthwhile building up the school cadet corps. Undoubtedly there is a great deal of enthusiasm in the public schools and in other schools as well. I assure the committee that, although I am unable to meet all the demands of the cadet corps, I am very proud indeed of what the cadets are doing.
I propose now to deal with the estimates for the Department of the Army in some detail. The total proposed vote for the department is £64,537,000, as honorable members know. This is £1,113,000 less than we spent last financial year. The difference between the expenditure proposed this financial year and that actually made last financial year would have been even greater had it not been for the fact that £777,000 had to be provided on acount of the basic wage rise, bringing the total estimated expenditure on Army pay and civilian salaries in the current financial year to £33,436,000. Maintenance expenditure, including payments for salaries and allowances, will absorb 78.8 per cent, of the proposed vote, and capital expenditure will absorb 20.6 per cent. These details are given at page 3 of the memorandum, “Army Estimates 1961-62”, which I have circulated. I shall not weary the committee with any more of these details, because honorable members can read them for themselves in this memorandum. I just emphasize that the very high proportion of maintenance expenditure leaves us with a very small amount for capital expenditure.
The past year has been a wonderful one for the Army in respect of the changes that I have mentioned and the delivery of new equipment. We are really getting somewhere with our equipment, and we are very pleased about the progress that is being made. As has been said, the Australian Regular Army has been fully equipped with the FN rifle, and the Citizen Military Forces have been almost fully equipped with it. Indeed, a limited number of these new rifles have been supplied to cadet units as models for demonstration, although it is not possible yet to make a full issue. The M60 machine-gun is now being received in substantial numbers as orders are filled. The 105-millimetre howitzer, which will take the place of the 25-pounder gun, is now being supplied, and we shall shortly receive the 105millimetre pack howitzer. The heavy-barrel automatic FN rifle, which will replace the Bren light machine-gun, will shortly go into production at Lithgow, as has been mentioned. Supplies of the 106-millimetre recoilless anti-tank rifle are now being received.
In addition to all these items of new equipment we now have four landing ships (medium) - commonly known as LSM’s - which are doing a magnificent job. Doubtless people are unaware of the amount of survey work that they are doing around the coast of Australia and of the use to which they are being put in transporting goods to New Guinea and elsewhere. As a matter of fact, the Army was able to help the Government quite recently in its programme for oil exploration by transporting to Mornington Island, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, in these vessels, certain equipment that no other craft in Australia were capable of carrying. These jobs are typical of those that the LSM’s can do. We have heard talk about it being cheaper to build vessels like these in Australia. I point out that these LSM’s, which we bought practically new from the United States of America, were in mothballs in Japan and we were able to get them immediately. They were a wonderful buy, and we saved ourselves much money and time by buying them instead of waiting for similar craft to be constructed in Australia at higher cost. We could have waited years for them to be completed. Instead, we now have these four LSM’s in active use.
All these developments that I have outlined have increased not only our fire-power but also our mobility, which has improved tremendously. Quite a number of new features in the Army ought to be mentioned, especially the new air arm, which is something the like of which the Australian Army has never had before. The Army Light Aircraft Squadron was established earlier this year at Amberley in Queensland. We have in that squadron eleven Bell helicopters and six Cessna fixed-wing light aircraft. In this venture, we have received excellent cooperation from the Royal Australian Air Force. We have made a good beginning with the air arm, which is a very necessary part of a modern army. In addition, H.M.A.S. “ Sydney “ has been converted into a transport vessel, as has been mentioned. The Army, of course, has contributed to the conversion of that vessel, which will be used for Army purposes should the need arise. The CI 30 Hercules aircraft of the Air Force contribute greatly to the Army’s mobility. We have purchased many other items of equipment in order to improve our mobility, including a number of smaller landing craft as well as the LSM’s which I mentioned earlier. The new landing craft for the Army will be launched at Devonport in Tasmania shortly. More than £1,000,000 has been spent on a signals network in Sydney which I opened only a week or two ago.
I do not want to take up the time of the committee unduly in dealing with observations that have been made, but I should like to say something about the remarks made about the ratio of officers compared to men in the Army. To any one who understands these matters, the arguments advanced seem somewhat ridiculous arguments to be put forward by grown men. One cannot compare the staffing of a peace-time army with that of a war-time army engaged in battle. In peace-time, so many considerations have to be taken into account. For instance, a peace-time army has to provide officers for cadet units in schools and various training cadres. Let us not forget that we have to have an army that will meet all its immediate commitments and also provide a basis of non-commissioned officers on which to mobilize should that be necessary. For this reason, in peace-time, we perhaps seek men of a higher type. We are certainly getting young men of excellent type in the Australian Army to-day. They are capable of becoming N.C.O.s and forming the basis upon which we can mobilize if circumstances require. A great number of officers are occupied with school cadet units, training cadres and the like, and many more are engaged on various duties in the Department of Defence, at Woomera and overseas. We have a great number of officers overseas supervising the purchasing and supply of new equipment, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and a considerable number are serving as military attaches at Australian posts in other countries.
So all is not as a brief glance at the figures suggests. On the surface, the Army perhaps appears to be over-loaded with officers, but I think the position is not really so bad as that. A diagrammatic representation of the numbers in the various ranks appears at page 5 of the memorandum which 1 have circulated. If honorable members look at it, they will see that the Australian Regular Army has 2,723 officers. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), I think, asked me a question about this matter. He regards N.C.O.s as officers, but they are not officers in the accepted sense of the term. We have 1,91 1 warrant officers, 559 staff sergeants and 2,197 sergeants, making a total of 4,667 N.C.O.s. The rank and file total 14,461.
I want to deal with two matters in particular at this point. The first is the annual Army exercise known as the C.G.S. Exercise, which the Chief of the General Staff conducts at the Royal Military College at Duntroon. A really worth-while exercise was held this year. It was regarded with great importance by the military authorities in many countries, especially the United States, which sent to the exercise a big contingent headed by a general. The Americans were very much impressed by what they saw, as were the visiting officers from the United Kingdom. Many other countries were represented, and so were the Royal Australian Air Force, the Department of Defence, the Department of the Navy and other defence authorities in Australia. This exercise reflects great credit on the Chief of the General Staff for the manner in which it is conducted.
The Army is about to undertake the first big exercise of its kind in which the new Army formations have participated. This exercise, which is to be known by the name “ Ice Breaker “, will open in Sydney on 23rd October with a march-past at which the salute will be taken by our new GovernorGeneral at the Sydney Town Hall. The Governor-General has agreed to come and witness the exercise on 3rd November. More than 4,000 troops will take part in that exercise, so it is really a full-scale battle group that will be participating. Honorable members will hear more about that later.
In addition to the matters I have mentioned, I should tell the committee that we have obtained very modern earth-moving equipment. There are two particular items of equipment that I think are worthy of mention. A new light ambulance has been developed in Australia that is quite differen from, and, I believe, better than those used in most other countries. There is also a new mobile dental clinic which is acknowledged by those who have seen it to be better than similar clinics that they have seen in use in other armies. These are two items of equipment that we can be very proud of. The total expenditure on new buildings, works and sites this year will be more than £3,000,000. Quite a considerable proportion of it will be spent in Queensland. Next year considerable sums will be spent in Townsville. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) will be glad to hear this, because he has shown considerable interest in the Townsville area.
I am staggered at the attitude displayed by certain Labour members towards various aspects of defence. I was appalled to hear some of the statements made this afternoon. The attitude of certain honorable members opposite appears to be that we must reduce expenditure, that we must withdraw our troops from Malaya and that we must virtually scrap the treaties that have been made for our protection, and which have resulted in organizations such as Seato, Anzus and Anzam. These bodies are of no use, we are told. It is suggested that all we have to do is find a little money for the provision of certain railways and roads as defence projects inside Australia, and then establish a little army, or police force, so to speak, to be part of the United Nations set-up. I cannot accept that this is the policy of a great political party in this country, but that is what we have been told.
If it is Labour’s policy, then all I can say is that if ever the Labour Party comes to power, God help Australia. We depend on these treaties for our protection. It is no use talking about setting up a defence force inside Australia. We want to ensure that any threatened invasion never reaches our shores, and we can do this only with the assistance of our friends. The policy we have adopted in relation to defence is the only realistic policy. Some one said that Labour’s defence record was very good. When this Government came to office in 1949 the strength of the Citizen Military Forces was down to an all-time low of about 15,000. The C.M.F. were completely disorganized. I have looked into this matter and 1 know what I am talking about. Half of the men who were supposed to be in the C.M.F. did not know which units they were attached to. The whole of the C.M.F. was completely disorganized. That is the situation that Labour allowed to develop, and ever since that time the Labour Party has opposed any build-up of our defence potential.
I do not want to dwell too long on the political aspects of this matter, but I do make this appeal to the Labour Party because I think this kind of defence consideration should be above the party political level. I think the Labour Party should join with the Government in defence matters. Improve the defence policy if you can, but for goodness sake do not try to knock our defence programme, small though it istoo small, in my belief. I think Labour is big enough to lend support to a worthwhile defence effort, which I think we are making in this country more effectively than we have ever done before.
.- In making my contribution to this debate I shall express opinions of my own and of the party to which I belong. We have heard the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) tell us with great pride that the permanent army forces are now fully equipped with the FN.30 rifle, and that almost half of the Citizen Military Forces have been similarly equipped. Yet we find that the United Nations has been striving for the last fifteen years for total disarmament. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in a speech made in London on 17th March last, at a meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, said -
Disarmament should be carried out as rapidly as possible in progressive stages within specified periods of time.
What is the policy of the Labour Party on this matter7 The federal conference of the Labour Party in April, 1961 made the following declaration: -
We advocate total world disarmament in conformity with the decisions of the Hobart Conference and subsequent Conferences for world peace and international amity and understanding.
We believe that the Australian Armed Forces should be reorganized for defence and specially as a peace unit of the United Nations, and not as an aggressive force.
Great statesmen throughout the world, and great Australians, are clamouring for world peace on a permanent basis. Yet we find this government providing £204,000,000 for defence expenditure in the year 1961-62.
– Would you cut it?
– Yes, I would cut it. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) on returning from the United Nations twelve months ago, said that Australia should have the H bomb. Apparently the honorable member made that statement only once, because I have no doubt that if he had persisted with it his mail box would have been filled for weeks afterwards with letters from the great majority of the Australian people expressing abhorrence of the idea that Australia should have the H bomb.
Let me cite some remarks of Air ViceMarshal Bostock, who is reported in “ Hansard “ as having said in April, 1955 -
Even if we had this army corps fully established and fully trained before we were faced with the catastrophe of war, we should be faced with the major problem of moving it to where it was required. At present it is beyond the ability of this country to move an army corps in the short time that will be available if it is to be employed effectively.
In other words, Air Vice-Marshal Bostock was of opinion that a substantial part of the defence vote should be used for the building of roads, so that our tanks and heavy equipment could be moved to isolated parts of our coastline in order to give effective protection in the event of an invasion. Air Vice-Marshal Bostock was quoted as having said that in this Parliament. If honorable members opposite who are interjecting check the “ Hansard “ report they will be able to come back here perhaps better equipped than they are now. We have learned from this debate that six coastal mine sweepers are being built in overseas shipyards for Australia, although there are yards in Australia fully capable of doing the job and we have many people out of work. If it is contended that we have not the shipyards necessary to build these vessels we should construct such shipyards. We also have learned that 3i per cent, of the national income is being spent on defence, and that in the last ten years £2,000,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money has been spent on weapons of war. We have allied ourselves to American foreign policy. The greatest proof of this was the neutral attitude of our representatives at the United Nations when America aided, abetted, inspired, urged and promoted the abortive invasion of the Cuban rebels within the last six months - an attempted invasion of a small island trying to free itself from exploitation, poverty, prostitution and disease. Lord Montgomery and General MacArthur are on record as having said that armies should now be considerably reduced in view of the modern weapons of war in the hands of the great powers.
– Who said that?
– General MacArthur and Lord Montgomery, the latter formerly Britain’s No. 1 soldier. The disarmament problem has been under discussion for fifteen years, and no practical results have been achieved. The question of control has been the main, or perhaps the sole problem. Why cannot the great powers evolve a scheme of strict international control of the implementation of a disarmament agreement. When complete disarmament is reached what an era will dawn for the peoples of the world, and particularly for this young country of ours - when land armies, navies, air forces all cease to exist, when general staffs, and war ministries are abolished, when military training establishments are closed down, when tens of millions of men throughout the world return to peaceful and constructive labour. Military bases on foreign soil would be dismantled. All atomic and hydrogen bombs would be destroyed and their further production discontinued. The energy produced by fissionable materials would be used exclusively for peaceful economic and scientific purposes. Military rockets of all ranges would be eliminated, and rockets would be used only as a means of transportation and for the conquest of outer space for the good of all mankind. Countries would find it necessary to retain only strictly limited contingents of militia, at strengths agreed upon for each country, equipped with small arms and designed exclusively to maintain internal order and protect the personal security of citizens. So that no country could violate its obligations an international control body comprised of all States to exercise a system of control over all disarmament measures should be set up immediately, and should function according to the stages by which disarmament is to be effected.
If disarmament is comprehensive and complete then, upon its consummation, control will also be general and complete. Countries will have nothing to conceal from one another. None of them will possess weapons that could be used against another. No restraints should be imposed on the zeal of the controllers. After achieving complete disarmament mankind would be like an exhausted desert traveller, tormented by fear of dying from thirst and exposure, when, after long and weary wanderings, he reaches an oasis.
General and complete disarmament would allow enormous material and financial resources to be diverted from the manufacture of weapons of death to constructive purposes. Imagine what could be done with the £2,000,000,000 of taxpayers’ money spent in the last ten years, and the £204,000,000 to be spent in the next twelve months on producing weapons of war and training men to kill. Human energy could be directed to the creation of material and spiritual values beautifying and ennobling man’s life of work. The implementation of a programme of general and complete disarmament would make it possible to divert enormous sums of money to the building of schools, hospitals, dental clinics, pre-natal clinics, homes, and roads, and the production of foodstuffs for the hungry peoples of the world. The money saved would allow taxes to be substantially reduced and prices to be lowered. What an effect that would have on the living standards of the people! It would be welcomed by millions of Australian people, and hundreds of millions of people throughout the world.
I read recently that the money spent by the great powers for military purposes in the last decade would suffice to build 150,000,000 homes, which would comfortably accommodate many hundreds of millions of people. Some time ago, I read a prayer written some 200 years ago by a saintly American which read -
O Lord, let me be an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury - pardon, where there is despair - hope, where there is doubt - faith, where there is darkness - light, and where there is sadness - joy.
I should like to see all members of this Parliament striving to achieve those ends, but the attitude displayed by leaders of the Government and backbenchers on the Government side utterly disgust me as a young member of the Parliament. Let us try to achieve those ends by urgently promoting and effectively bringing to fruition a world without wars, so that every person on this earth may live in peace and friendship, and so that the generations to come will live their lives without fear of global catastrophes.
– What about the honorable member for Moreton?
-I will tell you about the honorable member for Moreton. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of looking into the faces of his two lovely children, and I am convinced that those children will despise their father when they become older. When they look at a photograph of him they will say, “ My dad was a bitter tory “. They can, and probably will, look through the back issues of “ Hansard “, and what they will think of the honorable member for Moreton - their dad - is that he could see Commos under beds, behind curtains, in toilets, in drawers, everywhere.
A fraction of what the great powers are spending on war to-day, if given to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, which are so hungry for development, would bring relief to millions of suffering people. In the report of the organization handling inland development in this country we find that £4,000,000 worth of cattle die each year in northern Australia because of inadequate roads and the lack of water. This Government proposes to spend £204,000,000 this year on weapons of war, although the Tenth Commandment is, “Thou shalt not kill”. But this bloodthirsty Government would spend even more money in this way if it could get away with it. However, the Democratic Labour Party might withdraw its second preferences if the Government did that, and then the parties now in office would be out of power and not likely to get back.
– Do you reckon that the D.L.P. has a pact with the Government?
– 1 would say that it is an unholy alliance. We do not mind, because we are not prepared to change our policy to get the D.L.P. second preferences. I also want to quote an instance of gross waste by one of the defence organizations-
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Lucock).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I think the House will agree that it is not easy to follow the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) in debate. I wish first of all to place on record my full support of the proposals made by President Kennedy of the United States of America for the peace race. It is inconceivable that there could be any but a disastrous outcome of the arms race unless we can find a way of terminating it. But the terminating of the arms race is not just a one-sided question. We, on our side, have made fair and reasonable offers. I know that we will be assiduous in following up those efforts and assiduous in pressing for complete disarmament under proper control. But, unfortunately, disarmament is not one-sided. One of the reasons why we are pressing for disarmament, is that our Communist enemies are organizing a weight of arms against us and this threat must be met if we are to survive. For the sake of peace we must have some counterstrength until both sides are able to reduce their level of weapons. We will certainly continue to take the initiative in weapons reduction. Let us keep this ideal in front of us, but let us remember that disarmament is not just a one-sided qestion.
I am afraid that some of the Communist friends of the member for Hunter are endeavouring to make disarmament a one-sided question. These people are the agents of Soviet Russia, which is out to destroy us and which as a first step means to disarm us. As I have said, I believe in disarmament, when both sides will come to the party. To take more than is given in initiating disarmament - to go further than our enemies - would be disastrous. We must be met in good faith and with practical results by the other side. I hope we will all be assiduous in pressing the proposals which President Kennedy has made for the peace race. In the meantime we must ensure our own survival. I think the Parliament had better realize that not only is the world threatened with war by Soviet Russia but also that Australia - to come nearer home - now lies within the threatened zone. I remember finding it necessary, before the last war, to criticize the lack of defence preparations in Australia and I really feel, now, that I am back where I came in.
I agree with the honorable member- for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) who contrasted expenditure by other countries and the armies being raised by our enemies with what was being done in Australia. Our present level of defence expenditure is £200,000,000 a year, and has remained virtually constant ever since the Korean war, having been raised from a lower level at that time by this Government. But let me remind the House that in the intervening time our population has risen and prices have risen, so that in terms of real per capita efforts we are now almost back to where we were before the Korean war. Those are the figures and the facts and they show a situation that is not good enough to meet the emergency in which we are at present placed. I believe that until there can be some effective measure of disarmament - and to this we must all press forward - Australia will have to remain on a war footing to meet the threat of nations which are themselves on a war footing and making ready to attack us.
It is not possible to create an effective defence force overnight. Our present level of expenditure does not allow an effective defence force to be created. Again I emphasize, because I know that the Communists and their friends will be misquoting me on this, that I regard defence expenditure merely as a holding operation which will help and not hinder progress towards world disarmament. I do not for one moment abandon my advocacy of world disarmament under proper control and proper inspection in accordance with the proposals put forward by the President of the United States of America. But in the interim are we to live as we are to-day, almost defenceless? In regard to the proportion of national income spent on defence, if we were to go even to Great Britain’s standard we would be spending twice as much on defence as we are spending to-day. If we were to go to the standard of the United States of America we would be spending six or seven times what we are spending to-day. These sums may seem astronomical to honorable members but, unless we are very lucky, they will be for Australia the price of life.
.- The defence vote at present under consideration represents an increase of approximately £4,500,000 over the estimate last year. In the time at my disposal I wish to make some comments on the estimates for the Navy. These, we find, have been increased by approximately £4,500,000. I think that in view of this increase it would not be out of place for me to say something about the Government’s recently announced policy on the Navy. The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) recently stated that the Navy had embarked on a re-equipment programme which was to cost £60,000,000. I think it is significant to point out that this £60,000,000 is to be spent overseas. It is to be spent on procuring two new destroyers from the United States of America, six minesweepers from the United Kingdom and aircraft from the United Kingdom. I think one of the significant omissions from the Minister’s approach on the question of the re-fitting of the Navy was his singular failure to say something about submarines. The Royal Australian Navy has been relying for a long time upon out-of-date submarines. The Government’s policy has been to obtain submarines on loan from the Royal Navy to form a division in the Royal Australian Navy. I am not satisfied that the Government has exhausted every avenue available to it, and I believe that we can do more than we have been doing to modernize our submarine fleet.
If we are to spend money on submarines the possibility of building them in Australia should be explored. It is within the capacity of our dockyards and the skill of our workers to build submarines here, but the Government seems to overlook this fact completely. It is very difficult for me to understand why the Government has not embarked upon such a programme. The submarines that we are borrowing from the Royal Navy are not modern. The four submarines which presently are in our fleet are “ Tapir “, which was completed on 30th December, 1944; “ Trump “, which was completed on 9th July, 1944; “Tabard”, which was completed on 25th June, 1946, and “ Anchorit “, which was completed on 18th November, 1947. That gives some idea of how modern are the submarines which form part of our Navy. It is true that the first three submarines have been rebuilt since their construction, but it is true also that the Royal Navy has five classes of submarines which are more modern than the ones which this Government apparently is satisfied to accept. That being so, it is difficult to understand the Government’s acceptance of these apparently out-of-date and obsolete submarines.
When I was speaking to these estimates last year - the honorable member for Fremantle (Br. Beazley) amplified my remarks to-day - I suggested that in view of the developments which have been made in submarines and the part that submarines will play in navies of the future, we should consider either purchasing a nuclear-powered submarine or building one in Australia. When I mentioned that the cost of such a submarine was £30,000,000 my suggestion was laughed out of court on that ground alone. But it is significant that in the last twelve months the Government has decided to purchase two new destroyers from America which will cost £40,000,000. The point I make is that the money which will be spent on these two destroyers will exceed the cost of a nuclear-powered submarine. Another factor to be considered is that we will not take delivery of these destroyers until 1965. A lot of changes will be made in the intervening four years and it is possible that they will be out of date by the time we receive them. If we must spend £40,000,000, we can spend it to greater advantage on a nuclear-powered submarine which would prove of greater value to Australia than the two destroyers which we propose ro buy from America.
The Government has stated that it is placing these orders overseas because the vessels cannot be built in Australia. I do not stand as an authority on this issue, but I have heard an entirely different point of view advanced. It is that the only difference between these missile-carrying destroyers and the conventional vessels is the superstructure. In view of what we have achieved in the past in building destroyers, the construction of the kind which it is proposed to purchase would not be beyond us. Our dockyards are in a rather dismal and alarming situation. The two major dockyards have not one order on their books. The managing director of Cockatoo Island dockyard stated, when the last destroyer was launched there about six months ago, that this is the first time in twenty years that a ship was not under construction in the yard. The story of Cockatoo Island is exactly the same as the story of Williamstown. Honorable members on the Government side talk in terms of costs and use economic cliches. But how do you measure these things precisely in terms of cost? Because of lack of orders our dockyards are languishing. In the last six months over 200 men have been dismissed, and the estimates which we now are discussing provide no hope for the future. It appears that the decline in employment which has become apparent in our shipbuilding and dockyard activities will continue. As I have said, these things cannot be measured in the terms which some honorable members wish to apply to them because there is no measuring rod.
Let me remind honorable members of conditions in 1939, when we found ourselves at war. This country’s war effort was hindered and impeded for almost two years because of the run-down condition into which our defence industries had been allowed to fall. In the ‘thirties our dockyards, particularly in relation to Navy requirements, had practically closed down. At the outbreak of war we had no skilled personnel available and the government of the day had to set about assembling them. These things cannot be accomplished overnight. In fact, they take a considerable period. It is of the utmost importance to have on hand skilled personnel capable of meeting our requirements. It is idle to talk in terms of pacts, alliances and the like and to neglect this very important problem. One of our major defence problems is the likelihood of our being cut off from our allies and friends and finding ourselves isolated. Our basic aim should be to make ourselves self-contained and self-reliant.
How can we acquire the necessary skilled staff when we set out to equip an arm of our forces, such as the Navy, by spending £60,000,000 abroad and have the spectacle of some honorable members on the Government side advocating the extraordinary idea that it is of no moment whether we purchase these vessels abroad or build them at home? To keep these ships at sea and in action we must have skilled staff. To cope with emergencies we must have men at the ready. The Government’s policy of completely neglecting the home market, thus causing unemployment, is a tragic one. Its approach to this question of modernizing the submarine arm of our fleet is completely inadequate. It is hard to imagine how the Government arrives at these decisions.
The Melbourne “ Herald “ of 29th June, 1960, carried the report that the Navy Board had recommended to Cabinet that four modern submarines, which were supposed to be improved versions of the Porpoise class, be purchased. I might state that the Porpoise class is a more modern type of submarine than the ones we received from the British Navy. I understand that the submarines were to cost between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000, but the Government decided not to go on with the proposal. Many honorable members have criticized the Navy Board for lack of planning and lack of imagination, but here we find the board submitting a proposal to the Government and the Government rejecting it. Therefore, the responsibility for failure to proceed with the suggestion rests entirely with the Government.
I very much regret that, in carrying out this re-equipping programme, the Government has seen fit to by-pass Australian industries. It is not good policy to build up the efficiency of the armed section of defence while at the same time allowing an equally important part - the home potential - to decline. We learned how tragic that policy can be when the last war broke out. I thought that honorable members, who can remember the position in which this country was placed at the outbreak of World War II., would appreciate that, but apparently the lesson of the 1930’s, that of 1939 in particular, has been ignored by them.
We are a mercantile nation, and depend upon our sea lanes for our contact with the rest of the world. Therefore, for very many years to come the Navy will play a most important part in preserving our communications and keeping our sea lanes open. Again I emphasize the importance of developing and preserving our internal defence potential and, in by-passing Australian industries and spending money overseas to the extent that it is, this Government is doing nothing to improve our internal defence potential. On the contrary, it is allowing our potential to deteriorate to an alarming extent.
– I rise to reply very briefly to some of the questions which have been asked, and some of the comments which have been made, about the estimates for the Department of the Navy. Perhaps I could mention first the matter of submarines, which was referred to by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) and the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). There seems to be some misconception about the submarine programme of the Royal Australian Navy. It is true that there are three T class submarines in the programme, but they are on loan from the Royal Navy and, in the main, they are to be used for anti-submarine training purposes. The honorable member for Fremantle suggested that if we were to invest in a submarine, we should invest in a nuclear submarine.
– You misunderstood me. I said we should train against them.
– That would be a quite reasonable proposition, but nuclear submarines are something of a luxury in any country’s defence programme. At the very cheapest, they cost about five times as much as a conventional submarine. Although these submarines that we have on loan were built some time ago, they have been completely remodelled, and they are as good as, or better than, many of the later designs which are in use in the British Navy. Because of their size, and other factors, they are specially suited for anti-submarine training purposes, for which they are required in Australia. The honorable member for Dalley therefore rather missed the point when he said that we should substitute nuclear-powered submarines for destroyers when the whole of our objective is to build up a hard-hitting and mobile anti-submarine force.
Many other points were made by honorable members, but I regret to say that they dealt, not with the substance of the defence aspect of the naval programme, but with other matters such as employment, costs, and the like. I mention briefly the subject of these destroyers which are being ordered from the United States of America. Most honorable members opposite were quite outspoken in suggesting that these ships should be built in Australia in order to provide employment here. There were two factors which largely influenced the Government’s decision to obtain these destroyers, fully equipped, from the United States. First, there was the time factor, and secondly, there was the cost factor. Thirdly, there was a combination of these two - the best defence result. I remind the committee of the very sensible remarks of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), who said that when the Navy is considering its programme it must be governed primarily by consideration of the best defence result, and not by the many other considerations that might come into account with relation to other aspects.
Let us have a look at the time factor. If these ships were to be built in Australia, it is very doubtful whether they would come into operation before some time in the 1970’s. That statement is based on our experiences in regard to the ships that have been built in Australia in the past. Again, it would be necessary to send the destroyers to the United States to be fitted with special equipment. As it is, they will be coming to us fully equipped. So that when honorable members opposite say that these vessels will be obsolete by the time they come into operation in 1965 and 1966, and then say that they should be built in Australia, they manifest a serious confusion of thought amongst themselves.
The plain truth is that at the present time there is only one prototype of these destroyers in operation, and no others are likely to be available for any one else before 1965 or 1966. These vessels are not built on the same basis as motor cars. There is no new model produced every year. They have to be thoroughly tested for design, operation and so on. The prototype has to have all the bugs removed, and then the vessels go into more or less mass production. By the time we have these destroyers available to us they will be the latest thing operating. We have never before had operating in Australia any naval vessel which has been under twelve years old in design. Therefore, the speed with which these destroyers will come into operation after the initial designing stages represents a very good step forward in our naval programme.
The question of these destroyers was linked with the number of persons employed at the various naval and commercial dockyards in Australia. The reason why we maintain naval dockyards in Australia is not necessarily to construct ships but to service our existing fleet. The naval dockyards at Garden Island and Williamstown, as the Minister has said, will maintain their existing rate of employment and, indeed, will increase it. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) stated that no information had been given to honorable members about the total employment at these two naval dockyards. The figures are these: In 1959-60, 3,050 were employed there. In 1960-61, 3,062 were employed, an increase of twelve. For the year 1961- 62, employment is estimated at 3,206, and that is a considerable increase on the previous year. The honorable member also raised the question of civilian employees and suggested that there was some confusion in the figure shown in the estimates. The figure given in the printed pages of the estimates relates only to permanent employees.
– That is what is called the establishment?
– Yes. It will be noticed that there has been a considerable transfer from temporary to permanent employment. That is the reason for the apparent discrepancy between the Minister’s statement that civilian employees will be reduced in total by 116 and the substantial increase in the number of permanent employees shown in the estimates. The outlook ahead for both Garden Island and Williamstown is that there is no likelihood of any substantial diminution of employment. With the increased number of ships coming into our naval programme for re-fitting, maintenance and repair work, employment at those dockyards will be substantially maintained. I think that answers the question concerning employment in the dockyards.
The honorable member for Fremantle, whose speeches on this subject are always very interesting, and who obviously has done considerably more reading on these matters than have most honorable members opposite, referred to the Seacat and the Seaslug weapons on anti-submarine frigates. The British destroyers carry the Seaslug as a main offensive weapon and the Seacat as a secondary weapon; but that is because of their size. The anti-submarine frigate cannot mount the Seaslug missile. It does carry the Seacat and the reason for this is that the Seacat is a close-range anti-aircraft weapon, replacing the 40 mm. Bofors gun. The Seaslug is a long-range anti-aircraft weapon. The anti-submarine frigate, as the name suggests, is primarily concerned with defence against submarines. It is not concerned with aggressive action against aircraft at long range. It is fitted with the short-range anti-aircraft system only for its own protection. That is why the Navy has not gone in for the Seaslug missile, but has adopted the Seacat missile.
Mr. Temporary Chairman, I think I have dealt with the main points raised by honorable members opposite regarding the estimates for the Navy.
.- I am grateful to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) for his explanation about Seacats and Seaslugs. But I still would like to draw attention to a number of facts. It may seem satisfactory to say that one ship is designed as an anti-submarine weapon, and the other is designed to engage aircraft. No ship engaged in antisubmarine work will be immune from air attack.
The most powerful guided missile with which the Royal Australian Navy will be equipped is possibly the Tartar, which is on the Charles F. Adams-class destroyer. This develops a maximum speed just before it burns out of 1,720 miles an hour, and has a range of about 10 miles. What concerns me about it as a weapon is this: It seems to be quite certain that an aircraft will detect a ship of the size of the “ Charles F. Adams “ at a distance greater than 10 miles. We must take account of the vulnerability of a large surface ship to air attack, if it can defend itself with missiles against aircraft over a range of only 10 miles. It is quite certain that missiles fired from aircraft can be fired from a much greater distance than 10 miles. Of course, I recognize that there is a great deal of theoretical discussion about the range of radio controlled and electronic missiles which ignores the fact that under operational conditions, the radar controlling the missiles can be jammed or confused. At the same time, the range of 10 miles of the anti-aircraft weapons of a £20,000,000 ship seems most inadequate protection for a very large investment.
I refer again to the fact that under its mine-sweeping programme, the Government will provide six mine sweepers for the Royal Australian Navy. The committee should be told why only two ot these ships will be equipped with special asdic mine-detection apparatus.
I want to refer to one other aspect ot the Minister’s speech. He said that the cost of a nuclear-powered submarine is five times as great as the cost of a conventional submarine. I wish he had told us the actual cost of a nuclear-powered submarine. The sum of £40,000,000 is being spent in the purchase of two destroyers. I do not know whether a nuclear-powered submarine would cost more than £40,000,000. I have the impression that the “Dreadnought”, which is the British nuclear-powered submarine, did not. Building costs in the United States are so great it is difficult to get a comparison, but I would not have thought that the nuclear-powered submarines of the United States cost more than 100,000,000 dollars, and that is approximately the £40,000,000 that is being spent on two destroyers.
The nuclear-powered submarine is a capital ship and is a major weapon for the country that has it I recognize that very great difficulties confront any government in this matter. If a country is entirely equipped with nuclear weapons, every military action that it found itself involved in would tend to become a global nuclear war. If such a country had no conventional weapons, it would have to turn every action into a major war or be comparatively defenceless. So I am not making the criticism that there should be no conventional weapons; I am making the criticism that to have no nuclear weapons at all is really, in modern circumstances, to have no defence.
The navy of the Soviet Union is actually tailor-made to conform to a basic concept. The Soviet has the great advantage of a basic strategy. Khrushchev’s basic strategy is to dominate the world by all means short of a nuclear war. To achieve such an aim he feels he must always be in a position to negotiate from enormous strength. The Soviet Navy is nuclear equipped to enable him to negotiate from enormous strength. Until 1955, the Soviet Navy was under the command of Admiral Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov believed in constructing a large conventional surface navy as well as a submarine nuclear navy. But he was replaced by the present Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy, Admiral Gorshkov, and he has directed all expenditure to achieve Khrushchev’s strategic concept by means of an extremely powerful submarine nuclear navy, involving reduction of the strategic dependence on surface fleets. For such surface fleets as they possess, they have learnt the lesson of inadequacy of air co-operation with the Navy which was a feature of the German Navy during the Second World War, and they have provided for each Soviet fleet at least 1,000 aircraft under the command of the naval commander of that particular fleet. So it must be assumed that any Soviet naval action would be backed by enormous air power.
I wish to turn now from these subjects to ask again whether any basic thinking is being done on this question of what is called keeping open the sea-lanes, as our friend from Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) has remarked. When the major weapon was the atomic bomb, it was established that a bomb falling’ within half a mile of a ship was lethal in its effect on the ship. It has now been established that a hydrogen bomb falling within 12 miles of a ship would be lethal. Therefore, to think in terms of convoy defence to-day is completely unreal. It is doubtful whether we will ever see again concentrations of ships such as were seen in the convoys in the Second World War. The theory of the convoy as Winston Churchill has put it was the analogy of a lot of rabbits deciding to rush past a man with a gun in one crowd. Ships passing a submarine one at a time could be picked off, but if they went past in a convoy the ships were like a crowd of rabbits and it would be difficult to pick all of them off. The answer was the wolf pack attack on the convoys.
If ships cannot travel in convoy, what is the answer? They can still be attacked singly from the air or by submarines. The answer appears to me to be this: If the Government conceives of Australian sea forces of any kind as part of a Western supply system, it must envisage equipping merchant ships to defend themselves against air attack. Merchant ships must mount guided missiles and they must also carry antisubmarine helicopters. It seems to me that an individual ship to-day must provide its own defence against aircraft and submarines, and if we are going to think in terms of this sort of preparation realistically, the next step is to envisage the merchant seamen as a type of the past in the event of war. Every ship will be a naval ship, so that seamen’s unions and merchant seamen may have become completely irrelevant. Naval men must be trained to man a navy of supply as well as the more conventional navy. If you do envisage the outbreak of a war, the cutting off of the United Kingdom and Western Europe from the United States of America would be an immediate Soviet strategy, and so even’ merchant ship would become part of the navy of supply. Of course, if you reached the fullest realism you would probably have to envisage doing what it was reported some years ago the Japanese were considering - the use of submarine merchant ships to travel safely under seas which would be closed by thousands of aircraft.
The last point I wish to make concerns civil defence. I believe that the civil defence of the Commonwealth is wrongly placed within the Department of the Interior. It should be part of the Commonwealth defence forces. We have been told recently by the Minister for Air (Senator Wade) that more highly qualified Australian radio technicians of the Royal Australian Air Force have been taken to the United Kingdom to be trained in the manipulation of Bloodhound anti-aircraft missiles and when they come back they will be stationed at Williamtown. That clearly envisages the prospect of aerial attack. If there is a prospect of aerial attack and you have ground to air defences in Bloodhound guided missiles, you must think in terms of civil defence.
If Australian cities are attacked, we seem to have no organization which will enable the attacked areas to be supplied from areas that are immune from attack. It still appears, in spite of the increased appropriation for civil defence, that the money would only buy bandages for use in a conventional air attack but would not be of much help in the event of more severe attacks which might be made on the community. I agree that no government can ensure immunity to its people from nuclear attack, but the degree to which you can enable your people to survive is a degree which at least protects you from nuclear blackmail. If you have done nothing for the civil defence of your country, clearly the fear of nuclear war must have a greater effect on the mind of a government if it is unprepared than it would nave on the mind of a government that has done everything possible to secure its community. Surely there is something to be said for the dispersal of emergency food stocks and medical supplies and research into equipment and inflatable houses for an emergency which the British civil defence organization possesses. It is quite likely, of course, that in the event of a nuclear war Australia would be ignored if the Soviet Union could knock out the United States of America and Great Britain. Especially if it could knock out the United States of America, Australia would be taken incidentally and no government could probably resist that.
The thinking of the Government on defence appears to me to have no clear concept of what the country might face. The Government is building up in the Navy a fine mine-sweeper organization. That presupposes that there will be a war of attrition because the sinking of ships by mines, ship by ship, is part of the war of attrition. It is doubtful whether such a war would take place to-day. Why bother about mines if you face an enemy that can throw atomic missiles at ships? If the ships are approaching ports in concentrated numbers, the enemy would destroy quite a number of them. Except that the Government hopes and believes that an enemy will not use nuclear weapons, it appears to me that there is no thinking on that point. In the same way, there is belief or hope that no one will use nuclear weapons against us or try nuclear blackmail in the absence of civil defence. One of our neighbouring powers, which I shall not name because I do not want to create international mischief, has had a commander-in-chief of its air force - and it is not a nuclear-equipped air force - who has reminded Australia that all Australian cities are in reach of his bombers. If that threat is to be taken seriously, you must consider conventional air attacks too.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– In speaking to the estimates for the defence services, I want to say that I appreciate the general summary that was given by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) in which he clearly explained not only the comprehensive nature of the forces at the disposal of the Australian people but also their considerable extent. I also wish to congratulate the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) on the extremely efficient way in which the Department of the Army and the officers serving in the Army have carried out the change-over from the old war establishment as we knew it to the new pentropic formation. I think this is a very significant step. For too long have we slavishly followed the requirements of a war establishment for European fighting conditions. Too seldom have we given thought to the minimum requirements of the forces we would be employing near the shores of Australia.
The thoughtful remarks of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) must have given not only those in this chamber but anybody else who was listening to the debate great food for thought on the complexity of the problem which faces any government to-day in developing a defence effort. A government has to consider its obligation to defend its country’s shores and its people against nuclear attack or, alternatively, the methods that it will adopt to deal with a conventional war. I think that the honorable member for Fremantle will agree with me that the Government’s clear policy, as expressed so far, is that our defence forces ought to be designed to deal with a conventional war. It is quite obvious that that will continue to be so while we are not a member of the nuclear club. I appreciate the point that the honorable member made about civil defence, but we would face a hideous level of expenditure in providing complete immunity, or even reasonable immunity, from nuclear attack. I think the honorable member will agree with me that we just do not have the capacity to provide for completely adequate civil defence against nuclear attack. Furthermore, I think that the honorable member has in the back of his mind, as I think most of us have in the back of our minds, the thought that, initially, Australia would not be the target for a nuclear attack.
This brings me to the honorable member’s theory that the submarine, or underwater vessel, will become, or is already, the capital ship of the world’s navies. I agree that a nuclear-powered submarine is a capital ship to-day, but only if it is armed with nuclear weapons. Then, quite obviously, it becomes a very powerful weapon of war which replaces the battleship and the aircraft carrier as we have understood them up till now. So far as I can see, there is absolutely no effective defence against an attack launched by a submarine armed with Polaris weapons. However, while we remain not a member of the nuclear club, the standards that we have set for our naval forces do not allow for the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines armed with nuclear weapons.
I turn now to a subject to which I have given considerable thought - the forces that we maintain in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I believe that forces in that Territory are valuable not only in conjunction with the Australian military forces in the overall military position of this country, but also in helping to encourage the development of the people of the Territory and to promote better cooperation between the various divided groups there. In this respect, I point to the influence of the Indian army on the population of India. I had some association with the Indian army during the Second World War, and I realized the binding effect it had on the various racial and religious groups in the Indian subcontinent. Had the influence of the Indian army been a little greater, it would have had a valuable unifying effect on the Indian people at the time of stress when India and Pakistan were partitioned, and it could have done much to help solve the problems that arose.
Our relations with the Pacific Islands Regiment in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea have not been altogether happy. We have had several mutinies or near-mutinies and various other kinds of trouble. On the whole, the situation has been rather disturbing. The point that I wish to make is that if this regiment were expanded to, say, brigade size, the larger force might attract men who were prepared to make service in it a career. They might be able to carve out the sort of career that was carved out by many officers in the Indian Army, and they could look forward to a lifetime of service. I believe that part of the trouble that we have had with the Pacific Islands Regiment in recent years has been due to the fact the officers, senior warrant officers and noncommissioned officers serving in the regiment have no proper understanding of the background and psychology of the men who are under their command. The short term of service in this regiment makes it impossible for the officers and N.C.O.s to gain a satisfactory knowledge of native languages used by the troops themselves or to learn how to control native troops of this sort. Lel us not disguise it: The average Papuan is not an easy man to handle. He requires an approach completely different from that adopted by officers in the Australian Army towards the men whom they command. Therefore, I suggest that if we maintain the idea of having a Pacific Islands Regiment, it would be as well for ourselves and for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to achieve a better understanding of the men by their officers.
From the stand-point of the economy of the Territory and of the development of the Papuans themselves, bearing in mind all the time the valuable adjunct to our own defence effort that a sound force in this Territory would be, we would do well to investigate the possibility of increasing the strength of the present regiment to that of a brigade, in which Australian Army officers could serve the whole of their careers up to the rank of, say, brigadier without being debarred from promotion to senior posts in the Australian forces if they had shown the necessary capacity. I do not know what the recruiting situation would be. I understand that the present Pacific Islands Regiment can be kept up to strength without difficulty, but whether an expanded force of, say, three battalions, could be maintained at full strength, I do not know. That can be tested by time alone.
I trust that the Minister for the Army will consider this proposal in the light of the record of the Fiji Regiment, particularly in the suppression of the activities of the Communist terrorists in Malaya after World War II. That regiment was of great value to Malaya in the campaign against the terrorists, and its service in that country reflected great glory and credit on the Fijians who comprised it. I suggest to the Minister that the idea of increasing the size of the present force in Papua and New Guinea is well worth investigating.
I turn now to the economics of the matter. I obtained this morning some figures relative to the Pacific Islands Regiment. The annual cost of maintaining this unit, which has 660 other ranks, is made up of £33,825 for pay and allowances, £92,250 for general maintenance and £38,600 for the maintenance of equipment, making a total of £164,675. We have in New Guinea, in addition to this regiment, as honorable members are aware, the unit known as the Papua and New Guinea Volunteer Rifles, which is a smaller force conducted on the lines of the Citizen Military Forces in Australia. It comprises 191 other ranks and a small cadre of ten members of the Australian Regular Army. The annual cost of this unit is about £35,000. It may seem a big thing to suggest that the Pacific Islands Regiment be expanded to three times its present size, but I think that the cost, compared with that of maintaining an Australian Army force of equivalent size, would be relatively small, and I do not think that cost should be a deterrent if the proposal is considered worth while. I ask the Minister for the Army to consider the matter seriously, and I hope that the Government will think it over. There may be serious objections to this proposal.
When I was in New Guinea, I heard that it was not always easy to re-establish members of the Pacific Islands Regiment when they left the force at the end of their term of engagement. In many instances, they were no longer fitted for the life of the villages to which they returned and they became slightly disgruntled. So I suggest that it ought to be within the bounds of possibility to provide, as is done in the Australian Army, a wide range of technical and trade training in conjunction with military instruction in order to fit members of this force to play a useful role in civilian employment when their service ended.
I also heard it said by people I would regard as fairly competent to judge that the activities of the Papua and New Guinea Volunteer Rifles were also a very valuable influence in the community. These activities are usually undertaken by men who have other jobs. That is what one would naturally expect. There would be no problem, therefore, about re-employment in their case, as there would be in the case of retiring members of the Pacific Islands Regiment. I think that both these forces have value in the community. They provide a stabilizing influence. In due course, when the Territory of Papua and New Guinea achieves independence, there will be a need to provide not only for internal security but also, to some extent, external security, by having a standing force of trained men, with a degree, I hope, of dignified discipline. This would be of immense value in a young country trying to stand on its own feet. I suggest that what I have said is worthy of the Minister’s consideration.
.- I agree with the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) that the Pacific Islands Regiment could be developed, particularly in regard to engineering services and activities of that description. Many people, including myself, have been disappointed to find that no active member of that regiment has attained commissioned rank. The granting of commissioned rank to serving members of the regiment is, I consider, essential to the development of a free and independent New Guinea. The country must have its own people running its own affairs, and surely one place in which we could start to develop that kind of spirit is within the defence services, particularly the Army? If these men are good enough to be made warrant officers, they are good enough to become commissioned officers. This is a matter that the Minister might seriously consider, although I am afraid he has very little time left in which to deal with it.
A number of questions have been raised by honorable members on this side of the committee, and my impression is that there has been no real attempt to answer them. The matter of the Australian shipbuilding industry was mentioned. The Labour Party regards this industry as fundamental to an effective defence system. Honorable members on the Government side are creating a bad impression among the people of Australia by their frequent expressions of doubt about the capacity of Australians to build the kind of ship that is now being purchased in America. We regard these expressions as constituting a slur on the Australian worker and the Australian naval architect.
Another question that has been raised is this: What exactly are our commitments? It is difficult to get a definite answer to this question. Let us consider, first, the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. The United States of America, of course, has a limited liability to this organization, but we have not been told the future commitments around which we are to design our forces. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) did say that a good deal of integration had taken place in the Services, as well as within the Army itself, but this integration has not been apparent. There is no evidence of it in such fundamental fields as health services and other matters which might be called common-use services. The defence forces still seem to :be acting separately in these directions, each going its own merry way.
Another question that needs to beanswered - and I agree that there may be a good and solid answer to it - is why there is so much apparently top-heavy administration1 in the command structure in all the Services. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has already said that there seems no clear concept of the purpose for which the forces are being designed. Let us consider the position of the Army under the recent re-organization, which the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) proudly announced as a new concept. Incidentally, I happened, a few weeks later, to read a book about Alexander the Great, and I found that his father, Phillip of Macedon, had re-organized his army along similar lines to the reorganization that has recently been carried out in the Australian Army. However, the Minister assured us that it was a brand-new concept.
What kind of military situation is the present army organization designed to meet? We have now about 46,000 permanent servicemen. This is about equivalent to the number that we sent to Balikpapan in Borneo towards the end of World War II. I think that before that operation was completely finalised the army had landed about 40,000 men in Borneo. We are concerned now with about as many servicemen as constituted a force capable of carrying out one operation of reasonable extent in the war. I have studied the rank structure of the Services. As I said earlier, I am not concerned whether men in the services are paid as captains, admirals, or anything else, but I find it rather inexplicable that there are 57 or 58 men with the rank of .naval captain or above, while we have only a dozen major ships of reasonable size. As I say, I am not concerned about the individuals. In fact, I like to see my friends attain high rank. But can honorable members opposite tell me why an army organization which has only about ten or twelve combat units requires ten or twelve officers of the rank of general? There may be plenty of reasons for this, and I am asking these questions simply as a result of a perusal of the command structure.
Here again, I believe, we come to the question posed by the honorable member for Fremantle which remains unanswered What is the fundamental concept of your naval strategy? As far as the Army is concerned, it is now quite a small organization. It has only the strength of two of the divisions used in the last war. Yet we have five commands, two divisional commands and one command in Malaya. In effect there are eight major commands within a structure which must, I believe, be streamlined in order to be effective. It appears to me that modern war would demand mobility, flexibility and reliance on the individual capacity of the officer on the spot. I do not believe that the Australian pentropic division, efficient as it may well be, and embodying a new concept as it may have done - although I think we imported it almost lock, stock and barrel from America - provides an answer to the questions posed by possible modern war. It does not answer the questions we have asked as to the envisaged employment of our defence forces.
The honorable member for Corangamite appears to agree with us that a global war is unlikely, or that if there is a global war our contributions to it will be comparatively insignificant. If we are to be committed by Seato to some police action - with which I would probably disapprove - or to some United Nations action - which is the Labour Party’s view of our probable role - what kind of force will we require? I believe we will want the same kind of force, armed and organized in somewhat the same way as you would need for the defence of Australia. Honorable members opposite are continually trying to interject, and I know that there are some people who do not care whether we defend the people of Australia or not. As I have said, I believe we would require the same kind of force for the defence of Australia as we would for a United Nations action.
What has happened over the past few years? Let us consider the position in the Congo. I have never been to the Congo, but I have been to similar countries.
– You would feel at home if you did go there.
– I probably would. I am certainly getting plenty of black looks at the moment. What kind of force would you need for what would probably be a blown-up kind of police action? You would need a force almost completely, although lightly, mechanized and therefore mobile. It would have its own internal and independent command structure. If I had any hand in moulding such an organization. I would not have these dozen or so units that we have at present, and which are probably very powerful units. Instead 1 would have a number of small units along the lines of the independent companies structures that the Australian Army developed towards the end of the last war, but mechanized so that they could carry out their functions efficiently.
Could this current infantry organization fulfil the role, say, of being put into a trouble spot. Let us presume that something happened in the current trouble between Syria and Egypt, and it was decided that the United Nations would step in to stop violence. I believe that that is the fundamental problem which faces the world. If we can stop violence we can get down to the talking and negotiating stage. So the United Nations must have the kind of force that can prevent violence either by its mobility or its size. I presume that in dealing with nations the same principle applies as applies to the ordinary police force in dealing with people. There is nothing like having a lot of men on the spot at the right moment, looking as if they mean business, to prevent outbreaks.
I believe that a unit structure of 200 or 300 strong - what you might call squadron strength, I suppose - equipped with mechanized units able to do the kind of work that the Ferret does, and armed with weapons which will provide protection and enough intimidation to fulfil the role, is the answer. I am not speaking as a result of having made a close study of the latest developments in armoured vehicles. Such units should certainly be integrated with the Air Force. I believe that the Minister should set to work to create this kind of unit in Australia, because in the event of nuclear war there would be almost complete disintegration of Australia’s domestic administration. In such an eventuality it would be a great advantage to have on hand the units of the kind I envisage, scattered all over Australia. This is the traditional Australian military structure. I hold strong views on the role that the Citizen Military Forces played in both the defence of the nation and in building the national spirit. I believe that this national spirit has been dissipated, and that the C.M.F. has no particular significance in the community any more.
– That is just rubbish. It is absolutely absurd.
– You have broken up the old unit traditions. They do not exist any more. One would almost think that there was a special unit busily engaged in breaking up the Australian Army tradition. They did it after the Second World War, and they did it at the re-organization of the C.M.F. after the First World War. It has been happening ever since.
– We have the royal title for every regiment.
– Oh, the royal title. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) would probably rather wear his old colour patch. These are just parts of the structure in relation to which I believe the Government has evaded the principal issue at stake. In other words, you have created an organization which does not answer the two requirements - first, the requirement of a force, specially designed for the purpose, ready for immediate use in a United Nations police action such as those which have been necessary so often in the recent past, and, secondly, the requirement to have a more simplified command structure, developing more individual initiative inside the units. It would seem to me that this is fundamental in modern war, whether it is fought out with conventional or nuclear weapons. The small unit with its own independent command, which is able to operate no matter what has happened to its command structure, is necessary. You cannot convince me that the present structure provides for that. If it does, then at some later date before 9th December the Government may be able to tell us about it.
I know that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), who is interjecting, has had long experience and, I suppose, knows just as much as I do about this question. I am simply putting these proposals forward as proposals that seem good to me and to the sort of people like myself who sit down and discuss such things. I am not just knocking the defence forces. I have been associated with them for a considerable period. But I believe that the fundamental concepts behind the Government’s policy are open to challenge, and no proof has come from the other side of the chamber that the concepts upon which the Government has built its defence system are the right ones. We have the three services operating not completely autonomously, although they may look a bit that way to the observer. We have not taken the steps that history should have told us to take. While individual units may be efficient with the equipment that has been developed, and which the Minister for the Army has certainly taken steps to show us is adequate for its present tasks, the questions behind that - the development of an Australian attitude and the development of Australian industry - still wait to be answered. I still want to know why the Malkara weapon is acceptable to England but not acceptable to Australia.
– You know why. You are experienced, and you know exactly the reason why.
– I know the reasons that you gave, but they are not convincing, just as the arguments about not being able to build our own ships are not convincing. This is the simple question: Is there something wrong with Australians that you cannot accept Australian workmanship and Australian scientific work and, for that matter, Australian Governors-General? It is all the same attitude. What is wrong with Australians that they cannot build the ships you want? What is wrong with Australian research scientists that they cannot produce things satisfactorily to you? The attitude of the Government has a psychological effect on scientific development inside the Australian services. If you reject the things that Australians have developed, you suppress some of the urge to develop other things. I believe that you have helped to kill some of the scientific initiative in Australia. So I wish that honorable members opposite, particularly the Minister, would answer some of those questions in a way that would satisfy people such as myself, who are simply and primarily Australians looking for the answers.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. Chairman, in the light of the international situation the debate on the defence estimates is naturally of considerable importance and I, for one, find myself in full agreement with the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). All of us wish as he does that the world had reached a stage where we could be discussing reducing expenditure on armaments instead of increasing it, and applying the saving to increased social services, developmental projects, or assistance through the Colombo Plan or by other means to our Asian friends and neighbours so that they could improve their standards of living and prosperity. But unfortunately, to talk the way the member for Hunter did is to talk not realism but idealism, and the world to-day is one in which we have to blend these two objectives. Otherwise we will not be treated seriously by anybody else.
Every one in this chamber, indeed everybody with any sense, wants to see the day dawn when we will be able to push ahead with properly controlled disarmament. We all want to ban the bomb. These desires are not confined just to the fanatics who sit down in Trafalgar Square or to the waterwinged fanatics who took part in the demonstrations at Holy Loch. But again the situation is that disarmament conferences have been going on in Geneva and at the United Nations for some time and they have been unable to achieve very much up to the present. Nevertheless, we will go on hopefully supporting those conferences and the principles of controlled disarmament and banning the bomb in the hope that some day the other people too may see reason and help to bring about more peaceful conditions.
Unfortunately the truth of the statement made earlier this year by Lord Home has been brought home to us more and more forcibly in recent months. Lord Home said that if you are going to deal with dictators you must deal from a position of strength, because if you deal from a position of weakness you will find yourself exploited. We would like to be in a position to take shelter, as many nations have done, in neutralism, but the fact remains that if the Western world was not strong neutralism vis-a-vis communism would not last for more than one or two months. We therefore face, with sorrow and with many regrets, the fact that we have to discuss the defence estimates realistically in the light of the world as we see it to-day.
I had only twelve years in the Army and am only an amateur soldier. It is a long time since I was in the Army and I do not want to be accused of being an armchair general, so I do not propose to discuss whether we should have atomic-powered submarines or this or that kind of aircraft. I shall deal with one or two generalities.
At the outset I commend the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) and, in certain respects, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) for what they have said and the figures they have placed before the committee to show how Australia is standing up to her responsibilities, compared with other countries, some of which we rely upon to guarantee our security. I also remind honorable members that the position in South-East Asia to-day is one which forebodes more danger to Australia than at any other time during her history. The situation has deteriorated very considerably. I am reminded of the Spanish philosopher, Salvador de Madariaga, whose words I quote -
The trouble to-day is that the communist world understands unity but not liberty, while the free world understands liberty not unity. Eventual victory may be won by the first of the two sides to achieve the synthesis of both.
This was never more true than in SouthEast Asia to-day, and particularly with respect to Seato. Unfortunately, there is one Communist dictator who has quite frankly said that he wants to bury us, and another one, much, closer to home, who still persists with his original dictum that “ everything comes out of the mouth of a gun “. I am optimistic enough to feel that unless it is by accident there will not be what is usually termed a “ hot war “. But, on the other hand, small wars which Mr. Khrushchev likes to call liberation wars will go on in this part of the world. They are going on to-day with considerable ferocity. In South Viet Nam the situation is definitely of aggression and Viet Nam itself is at war with the Viet Minh forces which include a whole division of 12,000 or 15,000 men who have come down the Ho Chi-Minh trail through the mountains of the two southern states of Laos, and are sitting on that long border between Laos and Viet Nam. If this is allowed to go on as it has been going on in the last few months, Australia may quite easily become an isolated outpost in the south-west Pacific. How many Australians have thought of that position and of how it would affect our economy and security?
I came back to Australia through America less than a month ago. I met many young Americans who were just finishing university courses. Some of them were married and had young families. Every one of them was discussing which arm of the services he would go into for his two years’ compulsory service. There was no whining, growling, or criticism. They accepted compulsory military service as their duty to their country and to the free world of which America is the strongest member to-day. I arrived back at Sydney airport after a very quick flight by jet plane from San Francisco, and I must confess that the first impression I gained was that we are very much beachcombers in a Pacific paradise, and that in spite of a temporary economic setback we are inclined to be punch-drunk with prosperity. We do not lift our eyes beyond our own shores. Here we are discussing defence estimates which are not 15 per cent, of our budget. We abolished national service training, and candidly at the time I was not sorry. It was useless in its final truncated form. But for how long can we expect young Americans to guarantee our security and have Australian voices listened to with respect in the councils of Seato and other places if we are not carrying our proper share of the responsibility for our own and others’ security? Defence accounts for over 50 per cent, of America’s budget. Even in Thailand, 37 per cent, of the budget is for defence. Here, the proportion is something less than 15 per cent. I know it is not nice to contemplate increased expenditure. No one wants to see it increased, but if we want others to guarantee our security in an hour of need, surely we must take on our own shoulders our own share of that responsibility.
– How does this expenditure compare with the national income?
– If you take the national income, I think you will find that Australia is as prosperous as any country in the world to-day. In other words, we are one of the world’s richest countries as regards cost of living and living standards. We are a very fortunate people. I hope that prosperity will not lead us into a frame of mind in which we will rely on others for our security and make all kinds of excuses for not taking action to protect ourselves. It is no excuse to say that we need more money to develop our country, to do this or to do that. I would like to save every penny of the proposed expenditure on defence, but unfortunately we must face up to the position which exists to-day. We must he strong enough to command respect, and we can only do that in conjunction with our friends. But with them we must bear a proper proportion of that burden.
.- Australia’s defence system is of vital importance because upon it may depend the continuance of our sovereignty. All discussion in this chamber must centre on one objective - to devise a defence system which will enable Australia to survive. But while we have one thought in mind - an efficient defence system - there is certainly room for honest difference of opinion as to what constitutes an efficient defence system. Not only do the Government and Opposition parties differ in some respects on defence policy, but I know that Government members differ; among themselves, and over the years I have heard them disagree with each other on one or other facet of Australia’s defence programme. The Australian Labour Party believes that all possible steps should be taken to provide for the defence of our homeland. I should like to read a statement from the preamble to the latest Australian Labour Party policy which was enunciated only a couple of weeks ago. It is in these terms -
The Australian Labour Party stands for the most efficient and scientific defence of the Commonwealth, by naval, military, aerial and civil defence, by scientific research, and by a properly planned migration policy.
There is no ambiguity about where the Australian Labour Party stands in relation to defence. We give the utmost support to the provision of adequate modern military equipment.
A comprehensive defence policy envisages a number of other important and vital factors. There are different points of view on this matter and I intend to put mine before the committee. I think all honorable members will agree that the first factor which must be considered is that there should be clear and inspiring leadership from the Government. Any defence system which does not get a positive and practical lead from the nation’s leaders must, of necessity, be innocuous. In this respect the Government has let us down on occasions because it has vacillated and altered its policy from time to time for no apparent reason. The second factor is that the people must share a deep and united belief in the cause which we are preparing to defend. I do not think any one would disagree with that evident truth.
We must resist any internal inroads upon our system of government and our way of life. That is Labour Party policy. Does any honorable member opposite disagree with it? There must be focal points around which our collective determination to resist aggression must revolve. I do not think there would be any disagreement on that. Any defence programme - ours provides for an expenditure of £204,000,000 - means curtailment of expenditure on other avenues which, in turn, could cause hardship and impose social stresses, strains and sacrifices. I believe that the Australian people will be prepared to make sacrifices cheerfully and willingly if they are deeply convinced that there is no other way to protect the things in life which they value most. That point of view can be conditioned if the community believes that the Government has a practical and sensible approach to defence. I , believe that many people on both sides of the chamber have been very dissatisfied and perturbed because the Government does not have a practical, determined and cogent approach to defence.
I firmly believe that the great majority of Australians expect the Government to tackle the question of defence by a dual approach. In the first place, we must cultivate amicable relations with Asian countries. We are trying to do that. Our support of the Colombo Plan and our eagerness to ensure that the plan succeeds is a step in the right direction although I am one who believes that more could be done in that direction. Part of our future security depends upon the elimination of race or colour as a factor dividing the world. We must meet the coloured nations at United Nations congresses on a basis of perfect equality. No inferiority or superiority complex should be allowed to intrude upon that august assembly. In the second place, the people expect the Government to implement a comprehensive policy covering all aspects of industrial, military, naval and aerial preparedness. As every one knows, it was found during the Second World War that for every fighting man in the front line there were a dozen workers supporting him. We must not overlook this factor when envisaging future defence policy.
Primary production must be stepped up. Young men must be encouraged to go on the land because the time could arrive when we would be surrounded by an enemy and be completely dependent upon our own efforts to feed ourselves. We must ensure that ample food will be available. We must construct strategic roads and railways in the north, and the industrial potential which was built up to such a high degree of efficiency during the war years must not be allowed to languish. We all were very happy with the efficient way in which our industries were working when the war ended. During the war many industries were commenced and the equipment produced was of the highest order, but, unfortunately, following the end of the war, a lot of that equipment has been allowed to deteriorate.
I am one of those who are waiting anxiously to hear the Government’s policy in relation to the aircraft industry. I have made a number of speeches on this subject. I do not know whether, when we receive the new French aircraft, the Government will decide to import four or five and then make them in our own factories. I hope that we do make them here because, having visited the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and Department of Aircraft Production works at Fishermen’s Bend, I was particularly impressed, being an engineer, with the up-to-date equipment there. It would be a shame if that equipment were allowed to deteriorate because the Government purchased all of our aircraft requirements overseas.
The Government should remember also that in the event of another war the production of raw materials would present great difficulties. For the successful prosecution of a war we need a number of vital imports from South-East Asian countries. Should any trouble arise in that part of the globe in which we would be involved, we might have considerable difficulty in obtaining our present flow of imports which are used in producing equipment. We do not have these vital raw materials in Australia. I hope that the Government is stockpiling these vital materials because, when hostilities commence, it will be too late to begin stockpiling if our level of materials is particularly low. Let me conclude by saying that we of the Labour Party consider our defence forces programme to be most adequate. We believe in complete co-operation with other units of the British Commonwealth to ensure joint action against aggression and cooperation within the British Commonwealth in supporting the United Nations Organization for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security.
There are other questions relating to defence, but as I am satisfied in my own heart that I know the policy of the Labour Party I can say that we are prepared to do anything to maintain the sovereignty of this country.
.- In speaking to these estimates I have in my mind as a background what the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) said this afternoon concerning the world scene and the problems we have, not only in regard to our defence, but also in our fight for peace. I also have in mind the situation that is with us in countries close to Australia. I. refer to what happened lately in Laos, to present happenings in Viet Nam and the proposed establishment of a union between Malaya, Singapore and the Territory of North Borneo. I have in mind also the proposals put forward by honorable members opposite for the solution of these problems, and what they have said about what they would do as an alternative government.
I think some honorable members opposite must be rather unhappy about what has been said by some of their colleagues.
As one example, I refer to the statement by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), that we lacked the men and the equipment to defend the Australian coastline. Again, the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) made a somewhat similar comment, and suggested that we should scatter what units we have around Australia. If that is to be one of the first objectives of the Opposition’s defence proposals, then it will be quite inadequate, because, as we have shown, and as I hope to prove in a few moments, this Government has enunciated a proposal to confine the enemy, as far as possible, within his present boundaries. I remind honorable members that that is one of the first principles of war.
If we accepted Labour’s proposal and allowed any enemy - and there is only one enemy that we can see - get as far as the Australian coastline, and if we then did what the honorable member for Wills suggests - scattered our units around Australia and defended at that point - we would find that at some places we would have a weapon manned by a few men at intervals of from 20 to 25 miles. That is a ridiculous concept. Then the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), the honorable member for Wills, and, on a previous occasion, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), suggested that we should withdraw from any treaty that we have with our allies in the southwest Pacific or in the South-East Asian area. The honorable member for Parkes said that Seato was useless, and that if ever a Labour government came to power, it would bring the Australian troops back from Malaya immediately.
Once again, I remind those honorable members of the long-standing principle of war which says that there is great benefit and great success to be derived from defence in depth. We must play our part in providing that defence in depth. That is one of the reasons, though certainly not the only one, why we devote a good deal of the money provided in these Estimates towards the maintenance of strategic reserves in Malaya. That is one of the reasons why we see to it that we have units of our Navy, Army and Air Force there constantly, and one of the reasons why we give every assistance of which we are capable to Seato, Anzam and Anzus. If we were to follow the socalist Labour Party’s proposals we would cast aside completely the accepted principle of defence in depth and would refuse to give all the assistance we could to those allies who we know are the people who can come strongly to our own defence.
The proposals and policies enunciated by the Labour Party have the same objectives as those put forward by the Communistformed World Peace Movement, whose concept is peace on any terms. Not so long ago that movement used the phrase, “ Peace at any price “. It really means peace on Communist terms, a peace in which every nation will be dominated by an international Communist government.
To sum up my opening remarks, let me say that we must do all in our power to confine the enemy within his present boundaries, that we must continue to make our contribution to peace by supporting the treaties which we have undertaken, and by giving every assistance to our allies. While doing that, we must play a very strong part in providing defence in depth.
I come now to some of the particular items in these estimates and to answering some of the arguments that have been put forward by honorable members opposite. One of the arguments put forward most constantly was that in preparing the estimates the Government has given insufficient thought to giving employment to Australian people in providing our defence requirement. I remind the committee, through you, Sir, that within the last few weeks various defence projects have been referred to the House and, through the House, te the Standing Committee on Public Works Those projects include the naval barracks in Sydney, to cost about £1,000,000 in round figures, the science academy block for the Royal Australian Air Force at Point Cook, which is estimated to cost £190,000, barracks blocks in Canberra for the Army at Duntroon, which are estimated to cost £341,000, and the building of a new weapons workshop at Garden Island, Sydney. I shall refer to that in more detail later.
Apart from the service personnel already employed there, some 200 civilians will also be engaged. It was stated in evidence before the committee that it is only with great difficulty that the Navy is able to maintain its staff of civilian tradesmen because of the attractive opportunities offering in private enterprise for people in this category. What I am about to say will answer some of the arguments put forward by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and the honorable member for Hughes relating to the need for our having qualified technicians to support our defence services. It might interest the committee to know that the Navy has a programme which is arranged to ensure that every ship has a twelve-week re-fit at intervals of approximately every twelve months. That will be done either in Garden Island or in Williamstown. The total value of the specialized equipment being installed in the new weapons workshop at Garden Island is of the order of £1 8,000,000. Those engaged on the refitting programme, in the case of a destroyer, will be working on equipment worth approximately £1,000,000. The workshop ordnance engineer officer and the electrical officers, and those supervising in those departments, will be naval personnel. All the staff they will control will be civilian personnel. So in that particular instance, I have given a part answer to what the honorable gentleman said.
If I may, I will go now from the particular to the general and refer the committee to the information that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) gave us this morning when he opened the debate. We find in Statement No. 3 under the heading “ Defence Expenditure “ and sub-heading “ Maintenance “, that £148,000,000 will be spent during the coming twelve months on general maintenance within the armed services. A very large percentage of that amount will be spent in Australia. I do not wish to go into great detail, but I shall give the committee a few headings: Service pay and allowances, which will obviously be spent entirely within Australia, £58,890,000; civilian salaries, wages, &c, which obviously again will be spent entirely within Australia, £29,966,000; administrative expenses and general services, once again spent entirely within Australia, £27,716,000; procurement of maintenance equipment and stores, the greater part of which will be found in Australia, £22,984,000; repair and maintenance of equipment, £6,455,000; and maintenance of buildings and works, which once again will be found entirely within Australia, £6,252,000.
A very large part of the money being provided in the estimates for these departments will be fed back into the Australian economy. There is, of course, a very large item which will not be spent in Australia, and it is on this that honorable gentlemen have based the main part of their argument. I refer to the proposal to purchase several new ships overseas. Without my going into detail, but just to round off this part of my remarks, I think it has been proved to the committee that this is no reflection on the Australian designer, the Australian workmen or any of the professions attached to the building of these ships; lack of skill has not prevented us from building the ships in Australia. The influencing factor is that, because of the time lag, it would not be possible to have the ships built sufficiently early for them to be of use to the service.
There is one other matter to which I would like to speak in these estimates. This relates to the Royal Australian Air Force and the change that is being made at the academy at Point Cook. As I think most honorable gentlemen know, arrangements have now been made so that those who pass their training at the Royal Australian Air Force academy will obtain a science degree, after an examination held in conjunction with the University of Melbourne- I believe this is a most important improvement in the opportunities we are offering to the young men who wish to join the armed services. It means that when their term is completed, they will be trained to such a degree that they will be able to transfer from life in the
Service to civilian activity within their own profession without having to undertake any form of refresher course or any type of rehabilitation. This proposal has been brought into being with the advice and help of the University of Melbourne, to whom we are most grateful.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Department of Immigration.
Proposed Vote, £11,633,000.
Department of Labour and National Service.
Proposed Vote, £2,615,000.
Mr.E. JAMES HARRISON (Blaxland) [8.36]. - I want to devote my attention to the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service. First, 1 want to say something about unemployment and about the ever-increasing number of persons receiving unemployment benefit. It seems to me that the monthly reports we receive through the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) do not contain sufficient information for us to gauge properly the great hardship that is to be found in the ordinary family life of those who are unemployed because of the policy of this Government. We are unable to ascertain from the reports the length of time that many Australian families are required to exist on the miserable pittance of unemployment benefit. The information from which we could gauge the length of time people are unemployed is not placed before us, except that the report prepared by the Minister gives some picture of conditions in country towns. I would have thought that honorable members representing country electorates would have given some thought to this matter long ago, to determine whether we are providing some form of permanent dole for a large number of people scattered all over Australia.
Let me take a quick look at the last three reports. Before doing so, I want to say that in the normal run of a healthy economy, only about a quarter of those unemployed would be receiving unemployment benefit. If 40,000 or 50,000 persons were unemployed, there should never at any time be more than a quarter or 10,000 receiving unemployment benefit in a healthy economy. Over the last three months in Australia, the number of people receiving unemployment benefit has been gradually increasing. Even last month, according to the report issued by the department, although the number of persons seeking employment fell by 3,051, we had a further rise in the number of persons receiving unemployment benefit.. That is the most unhealthy sign we could have in the economy. Over the last three months, the number receiving unemployment benefit increased by no fewer than 17,000 persons, and that is a disgrace to any government. We have about 110,000 unemployed, but instead of a quarter of them receiving unemployment benefit, we find that more than half of them are receiving this benefit. In fact, well over 60,000 persons now receive unemployment benefit. I would have thought that some of the people representing country towns such as Ballarat would have risen in this place to say something about these things. In July, there were 664 persons receiving the unemployment benefit in Ballarat; in August there were 679, and in September 635. Surely, the honorable member representing that district would have had something to say about those who are existing on the miserable pittance of £7 a week.
The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) has been on his feet time and time again in this place pleading with the Government about the need to do something for Bendigo. He is a Labour man, unlike those who represent other country areas and sit on the Government side. In Bendigo there were 344 on unemployment relief in July, 383 in August and 407 in September; they were living on the dole which is just a pittance. Let us look at the figures for Lismore because an honorable member from the north coast of New South Wales is bleating in the corner. In July there were 387 at Lismore receiving the unemployment benefit. There were 411 in August and 409 in September, all living on a miserable pittance, and we have not heard one word from those who represent the area in this Parliament. At Tamworth in the electorate of New England there were 264 on unemployment relief in July, 265 in August and 259 in September. So it runs right through Australia.
The last report available to us shows that there were more than 60,000 persons in Australia on unemployment relief. Can anybody on the Government side of the House be happy about the situation which is getting worse? The report of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) is quite inadequate because it does not show how many children are members of the families who are trying to live on £7 a week. That information should be supplied because members of this Parliament are entitled to know how many children are unable to get proper sustenance. They are in this plight because of the financial policies of the Government. Ever increasing numbers are seeking .unemployment relief.
I was astounded to read quite recently a completely indefensible attack by the Minister for Labour and National Service on the last decision delivered by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission on basic wage standards in Australia. The press reported the Minister as having said quite a number of things. I shall deal with just two of them. The Minister has never replied to these statements. The report states -
Voicing his misgivings about the proposed annual adjustments, Mr. McMahon said the costprice spiral had to be prevented if Australia was to achieve greater efficiency, increased exports and high employment and keep inflation in check.
Let me repeat the last part of the statement - keep inflation in check. because I suggest that if the Minister had been prepared to be frank he would have told his audience what the Arbitration Commission considered to be the basis of inflation in Australia. But the Minister preferred to say, speaking generally of everybody -
They know only too well that if costs rise - whether because of costs of transport, cost of raw materials, inefficiency in management, industrial action or wage increases in respect of productivity - both prices and wages will rise and nothing is gained in real comfort, contentment and purchasing power.
I think it is getting close to hypocrisy when the Minister talks about productivity. For years, this Government has been pressed by the Australian Council of Trade Unions for some form of productivity index. The Minister has always said that such an index cannot be introduced. Yet he speaks publicly of productivity as a basis on which we might justly assess those things to which the workers are entitled. One point I want to emphasize is that the Minister completely misrepresented the Arbitration Commission when he made that statement. He made no attempt to explain that the commission declared bluntly and found fairly that the main factor contributing to inflation was not the basic wage but the profits taken out of the workers.
It so happens that the Department of Labour and National Service provides an industrial bulletin in which that information can be found. In the commission’s own report on the last basic wage hearing, it indicated that between 1952-53, when wages were first pegged by the Arbitration Court, and 1960-61, the wages content of the economy fell from 43.8 per cent, to 42.9 per cent., but the profits content relating to inflation rose from 10 per cent, to 11.1 per cent. The commission went on -
This material was not challenged by the employers. Therefore to the extent that this is an indication of the degree to which inflation may be traced to one sector of the economy, it would appear that the sector of wages, salaries, &c, is causing less inflationary pressure now than in 1952-53 whereas company incomes are causing more.
That is the statement of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission - a commission that was not set up by a Labour government but was recently constituted by this Government. Every fairminded person agrees that its judgment was one of the most balanced decisions with respect to the economy that has ever been delivered in Australia. The basis of its decision was stated quite fairly by the commission when it declared -
All the commission did on this occasion was to put the basic wage in Australia on a basis that was related to the June, 1960, figure. It discarded the 1953 rates and the 1951 rates. It discarded all rates that were not properly related to the capacity of the nation to pay. The commission stated in its judgment that it would in future use the productivity index. That was regarded by the Government as suitable when it brought down an index to supersede the C series index. Yet when the commission said, “Very well. We win now put the basic wage in a position so that in future it will be related to the index agreed upon and to the 1960 figure”, the Minister attacked the commission.
The Minister should know, if he read the document prepared by his department, that the major content of inflation is now related to profits and not to the wage level at all. How hypocritical can you bel When the decision was first given by the commission, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) was around the country. He had not gone away. Some one asked him for comment about the increase of 12s. in the basic wage. What was the Treasurer’s reaction? He said it should stimulate the economy because there would be more money for the workers to spend. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), of whom the Minister for Labour and National Service is only an echo, said that continued increasing of wages was silly.
In fact, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission did not increase wages. It made its view abundantly clear. It found a basis for fixing a minimum wage related entirely to the capacity of a balanced economy to pay as at June, 1960. This is what hurts the Minister and the Government: The commission said that, when it next reviewed wages in February of next year, prima facie, it would increase wages in accordance with any increase in the cost of living shown by the new consumer price index. The Minister knew, when he attacked the commission, that the present position was merely an interim one. The Australian Council of Trade Unions made that abundantly clear in its press statements the next day. Then, to cap it all, Mr. Temporary Chairman, as you know, towards the end of last week there was announced the result of a poll taken in Victoria on the question of whether the commission’s decision on the future assessment of the basic wage was correct. A total of 64 per cent, of the people interviewed in the poll agree with the commission’s decision, and 27 per cent., with whom the Minister sides, disagreed with the commission. Those who disagreed represent the profit-makers who support the Minister in his attack on the commission.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, it is a pity that we so seldom hear the honorable member for
Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) make a constructive speech.
– We never hear him make one.
– That is probably more correct, but I was just being kind. On this occasion, the honorable member seems to have explored the past instead of telling us what the Australian Labour Party would do about some of the matters which he mentioned. Surely we all agree that each of us must try to help any person who is unemployed. We each do that in our own electorates. The electorate of Fawkner is no exception with respect to unemployment. I know what a tragedy it is. But each of us ought to realize, as he looks at the employment figures that are now being made available, that the position is improving. It will improve still further, and this Government has said that it is determined to see that there is a further improvement in the period ahead. The employment figures for last month show that what was forecast is actually taking place. Honorable members on both sides of the chamber ought to realize that. We can say with confidence that, as the months go by, conditions will continue to improve. And they will improve rapidly.
The honorable member for Blaxland discussed only the subject of unemployment, but I think that we should consider the purposes and aims of the Department of Labour and National Service. It is concerned not only with unemployment, which has already been discussed. Surely the encouragement of harmonious relations in industry is a function of the department that is just as important as is the elimination of unemployment. Another important function is to ensure that the people of Australia are provided with work as far as possible in capacities in which the community has the most need for their services and in which they are most fitted to serve. Judged by these standards, the work of the department over the past year has been very good, I think.
I wish to deal more specifically with the first objective of the Department of Labour and National Service. Without any doubt, there has been an improvement in relations in industry, which have become more harmonious, particularly in those sections of industry which have had the most turbulent history over the past half century - the black coal-mines in New South Wales and the waterfront. As we heard from the Minister for Labour and National Service this morning, the position on the waterfront has improved dramatically over the last three or four months. Nobody on the Opposition side of the chamber can deny the fact that more harmonious relations have developed. The result will be improved services provided by shipping companies. If the improvement in relations on the waterfront that has been experienced in the last three months continues, we can see the possibility of trade being retained by the shipping companies instead of being lost to rail and road transport, and the level of work available on the waterfront being maintained. We have seen how workers in the coal-mines and on the waterfront have been putting themselves out of jobs for a number of years by their attitude to their work. The return of efficiency and harmonious relations to the coal-mines recently has increased employment there, and similar results will follow on the waterfront.
During this year, we have seen a redistribution of jobs, with those industries which had, to a degree, become overgrown, losing employees to those industries which need to grow. This factor of labour mobility is tremendously important, and I think that the work of the Department of Labour and National Service in this field cannot be over-emphasized. We heard the honorable member for Blaxland talking about unemployment in certain country towns. We in Australia are fortunate in one respect: A tremendous proportion of our industry is concentrated round the major towns. If there is a movement of the work force from one industry to another, under the policy of centralization that operates in this country, the mobility of labour can be increased. We have seen the value of this circumstance to Australia during the past year.
I should like to deal very quickly with the work of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the conciliation commissioners. The annual report of the president of the commission which was presented last week showed that there had been a considerable reduction in the back-log of claims waiting to be heard. The great delay in hearings was one of the principal difficulties that existed twelve months ago. It is good to see that the commission has now caught up with its work and that this tremendously important element in our industrial machinery is now up to date and working efficiently. There has been a tremendous increase in the work of the conciliators. We all were interested to see that a large number of cases were being settled by conciliators without having to go to the commission itself.
Instead of harking back to the past, as did the honorable member for Blaxland, I want to discuss one matter that will be of great importance in the industrial picture in the future. I think that we should give careful attention to the likely need for skilled workers and to the proportion of skilled workers compared to the total work-force that will be required. Without doubt, the number of skilled workers will increase rather than decrease with the progress of automation. That has been the experience of countries that are much farther ahead than we are in changing to automation. More and more skilled workers are needed to make and operate the new machinery. Have Australians, in this Parliament, in the trade unions and in the ranks of the employers, faced up to the needs of the apprenticeship schemes that exist in Australia at present? I believe that all the evidence points to a failure of apprenticeship schemes in general to move with the times. We have seen that new training methods and schemes have had to be devised in other countries in order to cope with present-day developments. The whole method of training skilled workers, has changed, but we in Australia have not changed’ our methods. We were able during the war, when we had experience of dilution of labour, to. experiment with certain new devices. We were able, by means of the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme immediately after the war, to introduce new methods of training skilled workers. Our experience of employing immigrants in industry has shown that persons who- have been trained overseas under very different methods from’ the ones employed here can still carry out skilled jobs in this country as. well as our own skilled workers can who. have served apprenticeships here.
The: really important aspect of the matter ifc that a survey conducted by the depart ment during the last few months shows that there will not be enough skilled workers completing apprenticeships in Australia during the next five years to meet the needs of industry. Not only are insufficient numbers of people being trained; not enough firms are. making apprenticeships available. We hear a lot about education from honorable members opposite, such as the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) and the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds). Surely we should be seriously considering not only the frequently discussed questions of educating people in the. various age groups but also methods of educating people for industry. So far I have heard nothing from honorable members opposite on this matter which should be of immediate concern to every one of them. We should have a look at such questions as the age at which people should start training for industry. As we expect the age level of persons leaving school to rise, we should also look forward to a change in the age at which people commence apprenticeships or other industrial training. Our education methods; have improved, and although it may have taken five years to complete an apprenticeship in the past, is it really beyond the wit of man to have such apprenticeships completed in four years or even three? The technical colleges and other institutions for group training should surely go much further to meet the needs of the present day than the old Apprenticeships Commission, which we have been used to for so many years.
There is a need! for this Parliament and the nation to scrutinize closely our whole pattern of industrial training. This is something that has not been properly studied for hundreds of years. We have heard much about education;- we should hear much more about technical training and training for industry, and about methods of really producing the number of skilled workers that we will need in this country. This is something that, calls for the attention of honorable members on both sides of the Parliament.
Finally, I would like to say a few words about the prospects’ for industry in the next year or two. The honorable member for Blaxland spoke of the need! for high wages.
He said that wages were not high enough because profits were too high. I agree entirely that we should have wages as high as the economy of the country can bear. That is the principle that is followed by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. But I also suggest that we should make certain that our workers are properly skilled. If we are to be a high-wage country, as is the case at the moment, our wage levels being higher than those of many countries to which we export our goods, then the people who are well paid must also be well skilled. This is something that needs attention at the present time. If the workers are to be well skilled, there must also be large amounts of capital to provide the machinery and other goods for them to work with. There must be a high investment of capital for each worker, and therefor there must be high profits in industry in order to make possible this high capital investment. In this way the worker can be given an opportunity to make the best use of the skills he has inherited and acquired.
We must also ensure that wage increases are related to increased productivity on the part of both workers and management. The two must go together, and I cannot understand how the honorable member for Blaxland can believe that if wages are increased, an increase in productivity must follow. These are the considerations that should be given attention by honorable members opposite. Seldom do we hear them mentioning the problems that will affect industry in the future. The honorable member for Blaxland is one of the foremost members of the Labour Party in matters involving industry and trade unions, but we always hear him speaking about the past instead of trying to do the best he can for workers in industry in the future.
I consider that the work of the Minister and of the Department of Labour and National Service over the past year has been well worth while. A lead has been given to Australian industry during a very critical and difficult time in our history.
.- I have been looking into the past, as the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) might well have asked us to do, and I have been studying some of the utterances of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). Let me say at the outset that I refute any suggestion or implication of the honorable member for Fawkner that the Labour Party, and particularly the parliamentary Labour Party, is not interested in technical education. The honorable member for Fawkner has usually been in the House when we have been discussing this subject, as we have done on many occasions. But, just as he is all at sea on the subject of employment, so is he all at sea with regard to the Labour Party’s attitude to technical education.
We are dealing with the estimates for the department controlled by the Minister for Labour and National Service. We have had, in the past, many famous Williams. There have been William the Conqueror, William the Silent, William the Strong and William the Red. Now we have William the Prophet. I have spent some time during the last few days going through the prophecies made by the Minister for Labour and National Service during the last twelve or thirteen months, and I must admit that the statements that have been made by the Minister are enough to fill with deep despair any person concerned with the employment position in Australia. The Minister is, in his own way, a philosopher. On 15th March, 1961, he said, according to the “ Hansard “ report -
I administer a department which has wide associations with the working man, and particularly with the working man in industry. I think it is not untrue to say that when we in the Department of Labour and National Service, as a miniature of the Government, look at any problem, we look at it from the stand-point of the individual himself … I hope to be able to prove to the House later this evening that any action that we take is taken in the interests of the working man and in the interests of his family.
– Who said that?
– The Minister for Labour and National Service said it. Here we have a senior member of the ministerial hierarchy, one of the men who are supposed to really lead the nation, one of those who are in the box seat. He is the man who is charged with responsibility of finding employment, or re-employment, as I suppose one should say, for all the people who have been displaced as a result of this Government’s actions. How can we expect any sympathy from the Minister in matters such as this? How can we expect any understanding of the position of the ordinary person in the community? The Minister said as recently as 22nd August of this year -
It must be perfectly obvious to-day that the present basic wage would sustain more than that.
He had referred to the original regimen which was designed to allow a man with a wife and three children to live in what was considered at that time ordinary comfort. The Minister contended that the present basic wage would sustain more than a man, his wife and three children in reasonable comfort. Little does he know the real position of the working man in this community who is trying to live on the basic wage. We see the dreadful position that the country has come to. Here is the Minister responsible for seeing that people are reemployed. He is responsible for administering the provisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. There we have the point of view of the Minister plainly set out.
There was an even more unforgettable remark made by the Minister when speaking of over-full employment. He thought it was a bad thing that the working man could look around and choose his employment. The Minister considered that this induced evil thoughts in the mind of the worker who might become forgetful of the fact that it is good to have an occupation to which he can return when necessary, and that can give him satisfaction. Of course it is a bad thing for the working man to be able to move around in his employment, in the view of the Minister, because he could become forgetful of his duty to the Minister’s friends. Again in August, just before the Government’s most recent measures were announced, the Minister had this to say -
In fact, I think the Australian working men are amongst the most favoured people in any country in the world.
We are inclined to believe that a gentleman who has that kind of viewpoint is unlikely to administer the affairs of the nation, or a department concerned with full employment, with any kind of real understanding of what faces the average citizen’. If we look over his statements during the last twelve or thirteen months we shall find what he has said, and what he has prophesied on various occasions. In September of last year he said -
The country is over-fully employed at the present time, and it is doubtful whether a very substantial increase in funds could be effectively spent by the State Governments this financial year.
That was when there were 35,000 people registered as unemployed. That is a great number of people - equal to three-quarters or more of the total defence forces of Australia. Convinced that there was over-full employment - and the Minister was quite sure of this, because he said that it was “ well nigh impossible to get labour at the present moment in New South Wales” - the Government rapidly took steps to correct that position. And so, over-full employment is a matter of deep concern to the Minister. It fills the workingman with evil thoughts. It reduces his sense of responsibility, and it puts the businessman in a position where he is not able to keep control of the situation. So I say that this is not the type of man we want occupying this fundamental position in the Government of Australia.
Now I turn to his prophecies. I do not know whether the Minister is the Mother Shipton of Australian politics, or whether he is one specially gifted with a crystal ball, but for twelve or thirteen months he has been making statements something like the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) did to-night, to the effect that “ things are looking up “. Things are always looking up. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) asked about the unemployment position on the coal-fields, back in September last year. I have no doubt that the honorable member for Hunter could give pretty clear-cut opinions about the employment position orv the coal-fields. But in September last year the Minister said, “ We have great hopes that it will be solved shortly.”
I wonder how much closer we have come to a solution of that particular problem on the coal-fields. In October last year, the Minister was even more dogmatic about it. On 5th October, in answer to a question about employment, he said that he could give the honorable member for Swan’ (Mr. Cleaver) an assurance that everything that his department could do to maintain (he Government’s concept of full employment would be <lone. So obviously the Minister is doing his best. Everything that can be done will be done. But still, in October of last year, there were 30;000 people registered as unemployed. Now we come to a little sympathetic note in his feelings about these things. He said that - . . if a person unfortunately loses his job, whether due to re-organization or to any other reason, the likelihood .of his quickly -getting another job is very good.
I think that the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) put the point pretty clearly - that it is very difficult for people to get jobs. I see that the Minister is leaving the chamber. I hope that he is not fleeing the stricken field just when we are starting. In October of last year, the Minister was being asked questions about retrenchments in industry. He did not think there would be any retrenchments at the electrolytic zinc works at Port Kembla. That was on 26th October. “Then we, come to the most precious gem of all his prophecies, when his crystal ball was really glowing. He said -
A second point, and one which I think I should make particularly for the benefit of honorable members on my own side of the House, is that there is no reason in the world why any one should be hurt as a result of these measures. If people are wise they can avoid suffering any hurt from them.
I wonder what the 100 unemployed people that I saw recently outside the labour office in my electorate can do to avoid being hurt. How can we expect any action of the kind required from a Government, one of whose senior Ministers thinks that way about the measures that the Government took, and against which we advised?
Now we come to the motor industry. On 29th November last, the Minister was quite convinced that there was no reason for anybody to be concerned about the position in the motor industry. He said that the department had already made officers available to look into the matter. He added -
I am glad to be able to say that in those cases we hope to be able to find jobs for the retrenched employees quickly.
I wonder what the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman) would say about the position in his electorate, and the honorable Members for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) and
Lalor (Mr. Pollard) about the position in their electorates. In November, the Minister was sure that there would be no retrenchments in the motor industry. The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) had asked about this. It had become clear even to the honorable member for Phillip that things were likely to go wrong. On 6th December last, the Minister, in reply to the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), said that it was unlikely that there would be any lay-offs. Now we come to this year. On the question of unemployment it had been prophesied by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that unemployment, with stand-downs and so on, would reach the figure of 150,000. In an answer to a question in the House the Minister said in April that there was no possibility of unemployment reaching anything like that figure. By April, the unemployment figure in Australia had risen to 89,000 and the Minister said that there had been extensive transfers of labour going on. He added -
We watch the unemployment figures, of course, with the greatest care.
So he is not looking into the crystal ball any more. He is using society as a museum in which he will study the hardships of the ordinary citizens. But he always has great hopes and great expectations. By 9th May he is glad to be able to say - that the problems of rapid labour turnover and of overtime have, I suggest, been solved.
We can tell him quite emphatically that the problem of labour turnover has not been solved. The people who come into my office looking for assistance to get work are a heartrending sight in the extreme. The Minister himself should go around and look at some of these things. In May he referred to a large-scale transition period in employment, and he said -
I do believe that that period has ended. . . . Only yesterday morning I read in one of the newspapers that General Motors-Holden’s Limited in Sydney was re-engaging all its employees.
So back in May the Minister for Labour and National Service was quite convinced that there was no difficulty in the motor industry, and that General Motors-Holden’s Limited was re-engaging all its employees. There are two points about this. First, there is a lack of understanding of the position of the ordinary citizen in the community; secondly, there was a complete failure to realize that one of the things that was going to be hit as a result of last year’s measures was the motor industry. One would have thought that in this restricted field, in which only half a dozen really large employers are operating, it -would have been possible for the Government to keep in touch. So the Minister goes on in his merry prophetic way. He said on 29th August - and we are getting closer to home -
What was done had to be done, and what was done was successful. It has established the framework within which development and progress can take place.
By this time, in August of this year, unemployment had reached the level of 110,000, but by 22nd August the Minister was becoming full of hopes and prophesies again. He said that he hoped that “ the stimulus to production and increased demand … in the long term will be for the benefit of the Australian working man”. By this time more than 110,000 people were registered as unemployed, and 60,000 or more were receiving unemployment benefit. On 12th September - now we are getting closer to the present day - the Minister said that he was not aware that the action of General Motors-Holden’s in temporarily laying-off men at Fishermen’s Bend could cause difficulty at Broadmeadows during the next few weeks.
It is a matter of deep concern that a senior member of the Ministry could be so lighthearted in his approach to unemployment that for fifteen months, during which successive blows have been dealt to the suffering working people in the community, and to a certain extent to many people engaged in business, he could see nothing but great hopes and great expectations - at a time in which unemployment has risen from 39,000 to 110,000. That was during a period in which we saw no sign of any action whatever, although the Minister told us that massive efforts were being made. On 12th September, still unrepentant, he also said -
I can say to the honorable member that we have said that from now on we can expect the employment situation to improve generally.
And so the prophecies rolled on. On the 13th September, he said -
I believe that the action taken on three occasions during the course of the year prior to the Budget, through the Budget itself and through the Australian Loan Council, has done much to create conditions under which we can expect increasing employment opportunities to be provided.
That is in the general sphere. But when I turn to “ Hansard “ I find that even in the specific cases like that of Queensland-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Included in the estimates now under discussion are those for the Department of Immigration and I intend to speak on that subject. I would like to say, with respect to what I regard as calamity howling by members of the Opposition, that it appears that there is consistency in their inconsistency in relation to the unemployment situation which this Government is bringing out of the morass. There can be no doubt that there is a growing awareness among the people of Australia to-day that the Government’s economic policy is right. The Opposition, of course, is hoping that the unemployment position will not get better. There can be no doubt about that. Members opposite have done everything they possibly could to sap the confidence of the people of this great country from week to week, and they have done that intentionally. It is a grievous blow to the Opposition to see the unemployment figures gradually being brought down, and I believe that in the next two or three months the downward movement will be greater than it has been in the past few months.
To-night, as on other nights, members opposite are endeavouring to put the gloomy fear of diminishing prosperity into the hearts of the Australian people. I think, and I believe many honorable members will agree, that this is a great disservice to the workers of this country whom honorable members opposite purport to represent.
I want now to make one or two observations on immigration. At the outset I believe we should look at immigration from an Australian viewpoint and not from a parochial or political viewpoint. First of all I want to point out that the Australian immigration programme has the acceptance and approbation of the Australian people. When discussing immigration, it is just as well to bear this fact in mind. I feel that not only the immigration programme but also the immigration law itself, which has been rewritten by the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) during his term of office, have been administered and are being administered fairly, humanely, and without prejudice. I emphasize that because honorable members opposite endeavoured last night during the adjournment debate to show that there was prejudice in the operation of our immigration law. That is not so. There has been no degree of intolerance shown by the Department of Immigration, its officers or the Minister himself.
No one can deny that we in Australia have the right to build this nation with the kind of people whom we regard as being the best for Australia. We have a right to protect ourselves from undesirables such as the Labour Party is endeavouring to have allowed into this country. The Labour Party is, of course, quite inconsistent. In relation to one matter it says, “You screen these people too harshly; you will not let them in “, but, five minutes later it says, “ You do not screen these people toughly enough; you are allowing undesirable people to come in “. In effect, members opposite are having 2s, each way.
During the course of this Government’s administration probably more than 1,500,000 migrants have entered this country yet only one or two cases have been singled out by the Opposition, mainly for some political gain. In this country we have no colour problem and no racial troubles. We have had no strikes brought about by racial prejudices as they are known in other countries and we do not want that type of thing here. It is our duty to see that the growth, expansion and development of this country are brought about by people whom we desire to bring into it. Although we have a restrictive immigration law it has the approval of the majority of our people. I am sure no Opposition member will challenge that statement.
The Government is to be congratulated on its decision not to reduce the intake of immigrants. This decision was made after due consideration. However, whilst the Government has not reduced the number of immigrants coming into Australia, more discretion is being exercised as to the types of people that we are bringing in. There is still plenty of scope for skilled people to come to this country and be gainfully employed. We know that the benefits of immigration have been manifold and that it has materially assisted in our development and expansion, particularly in the post-war period. Not only have we gained more than 1,500,000 people through immigration, but also we are far richer for their being here. We are richer in the know-how of science and in manufacturing techniques. Also, we have been enriched by the culture which these people have brought from countries centuries older than our own.
I think that almost everybody agrees that Australia has a dire need to populate. It is essential that we at least double our population and attain the 20,000,000 mark as soon as possible, not only to exploit our natural resources, which in turn will improve our standard of living but also to show the rest of the world our desire to hold and develop this continent. This cannot be done adequately unless we have additional population. In the Opposition we have a diversity of opinion which is not unusual. We have the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) advocating cuts in the immigration programme. Some unions want cuts in the immigration programme. Communist newspapers such as the “ Tribune “ and “ Guardian “ are crying out for cuts in the immigration programme. Only a few days after these demands are published in Communist newspapers they are echoed by Labour members here.
It is well to remember that in 1951 and 1952 when the Government introduced measures to correct some economic unbalance which existed in the community fewer opportunities were offering for work, particularly in the unskilled sphere, and that as the result of powerful pressures for full employment which existed at that time those measures were eased. However, there were still many positions available for skilled workers in Australia. The Government’s continuous review of the situation and its decision to alter not the intake number but the intake categories of migrants who now are urgently needed in Australia, will not add to our unemployment difficulty. In fact, it should assist in creating greater employment opportunities.
Australian economists have estimated that it costs £5,000 to feed, clothe, rear and train to working age the Australian child. If this be accepted, every migrant who comes to Australia is adding indirectly to our capital because each adult migrant worker must save Australia at least £5,000 in rearing and training. Therefore, based on an average year’s intake of migrants Australia saves about £400,000,000 a year. In addition, each migrant is contributing to our capital inflow for it cannot be denied that many of them are wealthy and have commenced their own businesses with capital brought from overseas.
Migrants have contributed greatly to the production of goods such as textiles, machinery, scientific equipment, musical instruments and the like, which formerly we had to import, added to which they have contributed to and expanded the unit output of manufactured goods. This in turn has added to our ability to export. Do not forget that there is an urgent need to export, and the migrants now can push this phase of our economy to a greater extent than ever before. They have assisted our balance of payments situation by contributing in this way. Stated simply, with the aid of migrants we now are manufacturing in Australia a greater variety of goods than ever before, many of which added previously to our import bill. In addition, the production of goods of which we imported large quantities, such as paper, motor vehicles, refined oils and so on, has increased greatly since migrant labour has been available. There has been a two-way gain. They have played a significant part, for example, in the Snowy Mountains scheme, the operations of the Mr Isa copper and smelting plant and our iron and steel and motor vehicle industries.
Immigrants have been able to make a contribution to the Government’s plan to build more homes. They have produced one in every three bricks, they have manufactured enough fibro to sheath almost one fibro house in every two constructed and they have produced enough timber for almost one home in every four which have been built. This clearly shows that migrants do not contribute to the housing shortage. Instead, they assist materially to build more homes than they occupy. They have made a substantial contribution to seasonal industries such as the harvesting of the sugar crop, production of superphosphate, fruit picking in the season, and mining and general construction work. It is estimated that there are over 100,000 migrants working on farms in Australia.
In spite of these achievements the Opposition wants to cut the migrant intake. But what does Mr. Monk, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, think about this matter? He has mentioned it on two occasions, the first of which was when he addressed the 1952 Australian Citizenship Convention. He stated -
We should not attempt to turn the flow of migrants on and off like a tap. I do not feel that we should adopt panic measures because some unemployment has occurred.
This is contrary to the Labour Party’s present policy. In 1958, Mr. Monk stated in his book on migration and employment that population building must be regarded as a long-term project and we must always bear in mind, therefore, the long-term results of any present action. That is essential. He went on to say that we must be realistic in the short-term and appreciate the fact that the introduction of categories of migrants who cannot be absorbed readily can arouse fears which may persist after their causes have dispersed. What Mr. Monk said in 1952 and 1958 is true to-day. The causes which provoked the short-term difficulties are now floating into history and being dissipated.
Although it may be admitted that economic conditions are not as favorable now for the absorption of unskilled migrants as they were hitherto, it can be seen that this phase has passed. To turn our migration programme on and off like a tap, to use Mr. Monk’s expression, would destroy the confidence in Australia of intending migrants who are becoming more difficult to obtain owing to the improved economic conditions in Europe, and would announce to the world that the Australian Government was lacking in confidence in Australia’s future.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am happy to join the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) in expressing satisfaction with the contribution which migrants to this country have made, but that is about as far as our agreement can go. When he continues to make such politically biased comments as he made about the Labour Party’s attitude to migrants and states that the Labour Party is anxious to cut back the migrant intake, I have only to remind him that the Government’s economic measures are having that very effect. It has been reported to us within the last couple of weeks that the number of migrants returning to Great Britain, because they have been unable to obtain employment and housing accommodation here, has been increasing. They are even making use of credit facilities to sail now and pay later. This is the unfortunate situation which the Government’s economic conditions have imposed upon migrants as well as those people who already reside here.
We had the nationally disparaging experience only a few weeks ago of the Italian Government having to make social service contributions to Italian migrants because this Government is not prepared to give them a decent relief payment while they are out of employment. The migrants have not much for which to thank this Government. They have been forced to return to their homeland. Hundreds in migrant camps were unable to obtain employment and other accommodation, and others had to depend on relatives in their home country to send relief because the new host country is not prepared to grant them the consideration to which they feel they are entitled. I should have thought that the honorable member for Phillip, and other honorable members on the Government side, would have jumped at the opportunity to support us yesterday when, during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Social Services, we claimed that the age pension should be granted to migrants after they have had ten years residence in Australia and not twenty years as is the case at present.
Quite properly the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) in recent times has been encouraging family migration, but what is the use of promoting a family migration scheme if you will not give to those few migrants who are likely to be eligible for the age pension the benefit of reducing the residential qualification period from twenty years to ten years? It is true that we are very fortunate in the composition of the migrant intake. It is made up largely of able-bodied young people who have been reared to their full working capacity, and young married couples with children. We are not required to bear the cost of rearing the adults who come to this country ready to work. We have gained a lot by that. Surely it is not too much for us in return to express our gratitude by paying to their parents who have come here - their number is not very large - the social service benefits within a reasonable time. I do not want to dwell on the subject of migration.
I wish to refer now to some matters relating to the Department of Labour and National Service. Here again I think the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) was particularly unkind and politically biased in his references to the Labour Party’s having the temerity to sap the confidence of the people by referring to the unemployment in the community. What would people think of a political Opposition that failed to do its duty by bringing before this Parliament the people’s feelings of frustration and irritation at the economic conditions which this Government has imposed upon them? Out of the clear blue sky, within a matter of months, this Government, by its mismanagement, has transformed a position in which all the people in the country were fully employed to one in which over 110,000 are unemployed, to say nothing of the thousands of others who are in only part-time employment.
Only this morning, the financial editor of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ stated that the official estimate of unemployment was unrealistic and untrue. I am not suggesting that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) deliberately sets out to present an untrue picture, but it is a fact that numbers of people do not register for unemployment. As the financial editor points out, it is patently obvious that the decline in the number of people in employment does not tally with the registrations of people seeking employment. There are several reasons for this, and they have been mentioned many times recently. Why, every honorable member of this Parliament has had people coming to his office saying: “ I have lost my job. I have turned 65, and therefore cannot register for employment, I must now go on the age or service pension.” Again, there are many married women whose husbands are unemployed or in part-time employment. They are not allowed to register for unemployment benefit, and there are so few opportunities for employment that they do not bother registering for employment. But I do not want to dwell on that matter. It is sufficient to know that in the twelve months from July, 1960, to July, 1961, the number of people engaged in total private civilian employment declined by 66,000, while 26,000 more were put on the Government’s payroll, so that at the end of that period, there were 40,000 fewer people in total civilian employment. The figures do not take into account all those who have come of age, nor does it take into account all those who have entered this country under the Government’s immigration programme to swell the numbers. Therefore, they do not reveal the total number of people who are unemployed at the present time.
One of the notable things about the position is the very serious decline in the manufacturing industries. In this country, as in most other sophisticated countries, the manufacturing industries are the industries which provide the greatest amount of employment, and they are the ones which have been hardest hit by this Government’s economic measures. It is all very well to say that the flooding of the country with imports promotes competition and moves local industries to become more efficient and more economic, but the simple fact, as has been recorded, is that many manufacturing industries have had to reduce their output. The flood of imports and the accumulation of stocks have caused manufacturing industries to curb their production. It ought to be patently obvious even to those with little economic sophistication that if an industry has to cut its production substantially the unit cost of production must go up. Therefore, that industry’s capacity to compete with other countries, and with those people who are pouring their goods into Australia, must decline. It is for these reasons that organizations like the automotive parts manufacturing industry report that they have suffered a 30 per cent, decline in their total productive work force, and that their payment of salaries has dropped by 40 per cent. With these reports we have an indication of the kind of people, as well as the number of people, who have had to be displaced from industry.
Another matter to which I should like to refer is the qualitative aspect as distinct from the quantitative aspect of our work force. We have been greatly concerned about the quantitative aspect, about the number of people who are not in employment. I think it also a worthy exercise to inquire into whether our work force is as efficient and as well-trained as we would like it to be. The honorable member for Phillip did refer to the urgent need for skilled workmen. He did say that we are now confronted with the need to bring in skilled people from overseas. Yet, only a week or two ago, when this Opposition and the six State Premiers of Australia pleaded with the Government to make urgently needed financial grants to state education systems in order to meet the crisis not only in primary and secondary education but also in the technical education systems - something that is much more relevant to our discussion tonight - the plea was rejected.
Order! The honorable member would not be in order in canvassing that subject. He can make passing reference to it, as he has done, but he it not in order in debating it under these estimates.
– I submit, with all respect, that the Department of Labour and National Service is concerned about qualitative as well as quantitative employment in the community.
– Are you challenging the Temporary Chairman’s ruling?
– I have not invited comment from the Minister. He will have his opportunity later. I am submitting that it is of importance to this country to have a highly skilled work force. Many people of authority in the community have voiced a similar opinion. The Government is now making an urgent drive overseas in an endeavour to obtain skilled employees. It would be much cheaper to make proper technical educational facilities available to our own young people, and for the training of men to their full capacity, than to go to overseas countries seeking skilled people. It is fairly well-known to most people - if not to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) - that technical education in this country is badly in need of rejuvenation and rapid expansion. Our apprenticeship scheme should be reviewed.
The amount of equipment available for the training of young people is a matter of grave concern to those who are connected with technical education. They are also gravely concerned at the fact that there is an acute shortage of trained teachers in technical schools. The number of young people going in for technical education is increasing at a higher rate than even the number entering our primary and secondary schools. All these things should cause grave concern to anybody who is interested in having an efficient work force in this country, and I presume that the Minister for National Service is interested in this aspect of our work force. If he is not, then I emphasize that there are other more eminent people in the world who are keenly interested in it. For instance, the President of the United States of America made it well-known that he proposed to make an all-out drive by asking the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, to convene an advisory body drawn from the educational profession, industry, labour, and agriculture, as well as the lay public, with representation from the departments of Agriculture and Labour, to be charged with the responsibility of reviewing and evaluating the current national vocational education acts. His purpose, he said, was to provide the community of the United States of America with a highly trained work force.
If we are to survive as a nation, it is absolutely essential that we have not only enough people, but also people with particular qualities - people whose aptitudes have been given the fullest opportunity to reach capacity levels. That was the purpose of the plea made by the Opposition and the State Premiers, the plea which this Government has rejected.
Not only is there great need for highly trained labour, but there is also need for greater mobility of labour. Unfortunately, there is at the moment an involuntary type of mobility in that when people lose their jobs they are forced to go to other places in search of work. If the present administration were more efficient it could institute a continuing inquiry into industry with a view to detecting changing trends in production, anticipating what changes will be necessary in the composition of the labour force, and providing opportunities for training in new skills. This seems to me to be an eminently sensible idea.
There should be some anticipation of the changing needs of the community. Concurrently with an effort to detect what new demands will be made as industries change and as new types of industries come into existence, calling for new skills, we should be making provision to train people in anticipation of their changed status. If a man’s vocation appears likely to become redundant in a short time, I think it is the province of government these days to give every encouragement and every assistance to train the man for a new position. This is necessary not only in the interests of the individual but in the interests of the nation. People should be encouraged and assisted to re-train and to re-equip themselves for their new vocations.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In dealing with the estimates for the Department of Immigration, I mention that I have watched the progress of immigration to this country since it gained impetus shortly after the last war. I commend the Government and the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) for the success they have had in the mass movement of people, their selection, transport and assimilation into the community. In the Minister, we have a man with ability and with interest in his task, and he has produced results.
I should like to refer in particular to the immigration of British children. I want to direct my remarks to the organization known as the Fairbridge Farm Schools, and to refer especially to the school at Molong. The organization has another school at Pinjarra, which I understand is in the electorate of my colleague, the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton). It also has schools at other places in Australia and in Canada. It may not be known to honorable members that the whole concept of this scheme was the vision of a man named Kingsley Fairbridge, who was a South African Rhodes scholar. He had the vision of taking children from congested and depressed areas in Britain and transferring them to the lands of the Commonwealth that were crying out for settlers. The idea has worked well. Australia has gained good citizens who have reached a high level in the community. On a recent visit to the Molong school, I could not help noticing the honour roll. This proved that some of the young men who have been through the school have given their lives in defence of the country of their adoption.
The situation has now changed. The United Kingdom authorities have not encouraged child migration. That is their problem; it has nothing to do with us. But this has enabled the Fairbridge Society to come to the assistance of the Commonwealth immigration authorities by virtually turning itself into a reception centre for the children of British parents. In this regard, there are three schemes. One, which has been carried on for some time, deals with indigent children coming from Great Britain. The second deals with children with one parent and the third, which provides most of the children for the homes at the moment, deals with children with two parents who come to Australia with them. The Commonwealth and the Fairbridge Society work under a joint arrangement. The organization takes the children between the ages of four and sixteen years and Commonwealth Hostels Limited takes the mother, father and the younger and older children.
I turn now to the financial side. The cost per child per week, on the figures taken over the years at Fairbridge, is £6 10s. Everything the indigent child has is given by the society. The cost of the necessary supervision by suitable staff, food, housing, clothing, health, education arrangements - there is a school at the farm - holiday arrangements, arrangements for employment and after care is all the responsibility of the society and the cost works out at £6 10s. per week per child. Some government assistance is available for indigent children - that is, children without parents in Australia and there are now very few of these. The New South Wales Government contributes 7s. per week per child up to sixteen years of age. Under the family migration scheme - that is, either the one or two parents scheme, with the children travelling with the parents - the New South Wales Government again contributes 7s. per week per child for the first three months of residence at the Fairbridge school. The Commonwealth Government provides child endowment at the rate of 10s. per week per child up to the age of sixteen years, and no doubt some of this cost will appear in the Estimates.
The Commonwealth Relations Office in London pays the Fairbridge organization in London 10s. sterling per week for each indigent child up to the age of sixteen years. The same amount is paid for each child under the one parent scheme. But no contribution is received from this source for children who come out under the two parent scheme, and this is the scheme which provides the bulk of the children for these schools at the moment. In addition, there is a £10 equipment allowance paid by the Commonwealth for every child arriving at the society’s schools. The society equips the indigent children for the journey, defrays the travelling expenses and provides suitable and adequate escorts for indigent children to their destination.
In short, the total assistance from all government sources - this is established from the facts at the school over a period - may possibly amount to 12s. 6d. per week per child out of a total of £6 10s. The remainder is provided by what the farm school can make by selling its produce, after the deduction of normal cost of production expenses. Here, I pay a tribute to the chairman of the school council, Mr. Hudson, a civil engineer of Sydney, to the staff of the school, to the cottage mothers and to the group of Molong men who provide, free of cost, expert attention and advice for the farm school. Beyond this, the rest of the money is provided by the thoughtfulness and generosity of the general public.
The Minister recently in reply to a question said - .. .on the score of finance it can be claimed that both the Commonwealth and the States have at least not been ungenerous.
I say in reply to this that there is no better immigrant than a British child. Considering the future contribution these children will make to this country, and the contribution they have made in the past, the organization believes that the financial contribution from government sources is, to use its term, “ pretty miserable “. I personally think, bearing in mind the wonderful investment in bringing British children to this country, that the arrangement is at least unbusinesslike. Last year, the Fairbridge organization in London spent £45,000 more than it received. This cannot go on for long. It would be a pity to see the scheme fold up and it would be a great pity to see the farm schools at Molong and Pinjarra fold up with the scheme. The school at Molong has a replacement value now estimated at between £500,000 and £750,000. I wonder whether in the Estimates there are some figures to provide money for this organization. I have already commended the work of the Minister for Immigration. I should like him to say whether the Estimates include financial provision to assist the organization to bring many good British immigrants to Australia. The organization does not ask for relief but it would welcome assistance to help it pay for services that have been rendered in the past, are now being rendered and will be continued in the future.
.- I wish to refer to the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service and to the incorrect figures on unemployment that are published by the department. I believe that the survey and the monthly bulletin that is released by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) on the unemployment position is not true and correct. The figures give no clear picture of the number of people who are unemployed or of the number of persons who are working short time. If one reads the news release of 14th August, 1961, it is evident that a lot of short time is being worked. The review of 14th August states -
Short time was reported in S.5 per cent, of the factories surveyed; 3.1 per cent, of their employees were on short time and those affected lost an average of 8.6 hours for the week. In addition to those working for part of the week of the survey 3S3 were stood down for the full week by five factories in the survey.
So actually the report published by the Minister is in the hit and miss category. The Parliament and the nation as a whole are not given the true figures. Since the economic squeeze began, a large number of industries have been working short time. People normally in casual work have found that as a result of the squeeze, work that was previously available to them has been spread over a greater range. As a result, those who previously had a reasonable amount of casual employment now have very little, and they are not eligible to receive any social service benefits although their income has been considerably reduced. Nor does the survey give the true position concerning a large number of men who have been pushed out of industry because they have reached the age of 65, or have been laid off because of the Government’s economic policy. These people have been forced to take the age pension and the position in that regard is not shown in the statistics. So, in that connexion the figures again are not true and correct.
A number of workers have also been compelled to take long-service leave. In one industry in my electorate, a large number of men had long-service leave ranging from two months to longer periods and they were forced to take their leave. These things are not disclosed in the statistics. Let us consider the figure of 4,200,000 which the Minister claims to be the total work force. At page 2 of the news release of 14th August we find this statement -
The Australian work force, as defined by the Commonwealth Statistician for census purposes, includes employers, self-employed, wage and salary earners, unemployed persons and all helping in any industry, business, trade or service but not in receipt of wage or salary. Wage and salary workers include rural workers, those in private domestic service and members of the forces. There are no precise statistics of the work force available except at census dates and the estimate of about 4.2 millions is based on the assumption that the work force bears the same relationship to the estimated population in various age-groups as at the 1954 census.
This in itself is a highly inflated figure and is not a true one on which to base the estimates. It does not refer to politicians, members of religious orders, police and security forces. That in itself gives some indication that these figures are twisted. The statements are full of half-truths and half-facts. We are not getting a true report of the real employment position. If one examines the real position regarding unemployment - and the figures can be obtained from the Monthly Review of Business Statistics published by the Commonwealth Statistician - we can get a real picture of the employment position. We can ascertain whether the figure of 2.7 per cent, is correct or whether the claim by the Government about the numbers of unemployed is accurate.
I have some figures which show that the number of persons in employment at November, 1960, was 3,087,500 and at June, 1961, the total was 3,021,800. That was a fall of 55,700. The number of unemployed in November, 1960, was 43,300 and the total number shown should have been 99,000. If one takes the recognized natural increase in jobs after accounting for deaths and retirements from industry and the increase in the work force by migration and those leaving school, the annual increase in the labour force can be estimated at 85,000. That would mean that instead of showing 111,700 unemployed as the figures published by the Minister have done, the unemployed force was 184,000. I ask the Minister: What has happened to the 72,500 persons who are not recorded as unemployed? Where have they gone to? If the figures published by the department are true and correct, will the Minister please explain what has happened to the 72,500 persons of employable age who seem to have disappeared? The figures published by the department show a registered unemployed force of 2.7 per cent, of the total work force. Is this figure true or false or is the correct figure 4.4 per cent.? I think that the figures that are being published are being distorted, Mr. Temporary Chairman. If one takes the trouble to read in “ Hansard “ some of the statements that have been made by the Minister for Labour and National Service, one can see the distortion that has appeared in some of the figures contained in answers that he has given to questions that he has been asked. I have looked up about six of these statements made by the Minister over .the period from about April to September of this year. They indicate the Minister’s super-optimism, and I think that he has allowed that super-optimism play in distorting the figures relative to unemployment that he has given to honorable members and the people as a whole. Something ought to be done to put the figures in their right perspective so that we may have the correct statistics and not distorted figures.
We saw what happened some time ago during the campaign in a by-election for the Bendigo seat in Victoria. All of a sudden, unemployment, as indicated by the official figures, increased sharply, but the figures were withheld until after the by-election was over. We then heard from the Government the paltry excuse that the figures were published as soon as they were available. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. England) won his seat in a by-election only because the horror budget which was announced on 15th November last was withheld to prevent the electors in that constituency from knowing the real facts before the by-election was over. I ask honorable members: Are these things accidental? Of course they are not. They are political manoeuvres on the part of the Government. The unemployment figures presented to us from time to time are distorted by the Government in its political manoeuvring.
In the limited time at my disposal, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I should like to discuss the problems of unemployed migrants, with particular attention to the figures presented to honorable members by the Government. We heard a great deal of condemnation of the inmates of the Bonegilla migrant centre when they recently protested because they had been brought to this country and allowed to languish at that centre without any attempt being made to provide work for them. Just what is the position? I have already pointed out the way in which unemployment has increased and the way in which the statistics have been distorted. Let us now consider the distortion of statistics, with particular reference to unemployment among migrants. Migrants are certainly not being given preferential treatment. They are not even being dealt with on equal terms with the rest of the workers of Australia. In November, 1960, only 66 migrants were receiving unemployment benefit. In July last the number had grown to 1,677 - a very substantial increase. Let honorable members work that out and they will realize how badly migrants are being treated. They are brought to this country and not given jobs, as they should be. We ought not to bring people here without providing employment for them. And we should give them jobs without detriment to native Australians or migrants who are already here. The Government has the responsibility for providing employment for migrants. It should not be content merely to pay them the paltry unemployment benefit that is paid at present.
I should like to make very briefly one point with respect to the policy adopted by departmental officers in directing people to employment. One cannot get at the basis of this policy or find out the source from which the departmental officers receive their instructions. Officers of the department are instructing unemployed people in the cities to go to jobs in country areas. If they do not go, they are immediately struck off the list and are no longer entitled to unemployment benefit. Likewise, people in country areas are being directed to employment in the cities. Last Saturday week, I was interviewed on this matter by a man from the Newcastle area who, earlier in the year, had been directed to go to Sydney for employment. He did not know what his rights were, and he said: “ 1 do not want to go to Sydney to work. I have never worked there, and I would be hopeless in Sydney traffic and surroundings.” Honorable members opposite laugh, but this sort of thing is no joke to this man, who has since been unemployed and has not received one penny in sustenance from official sources. He has had to depend entirely on the goodwill of his friends and mates, because he was struck off the list of those entitled to unemployment benefit. He was given no consideration at all. I believe that this man will ultimately become entitled to an invalid pension, but no consideration was extended to him by the Department of Labour and National Service. His rights were not explained to him and he was not told what would happen to him if he rejected the employment in Sydney to which he was directed.
This sort of thing highlights one of the shortcomings that are apparent in the functioning of the Commonwealth Employment Service. In this respect, the service fails to do its job properly. Applicants for work should be advised of their rights and told what they may or may not do if they want to be entitled to unemployment benefit. I have been told by people from various country centres that they have been directed to employment in the cities. Some time ago, I brought to the notice of the Minister for Labour and National Service the case of a young woman living in Newcastle who was directed to employment in Katoomba. At the same time, people in Katoomba were being directed to employment in other places. This young woman was directed to employment at Katoomba at a time when the tourist season-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I begin by referring briefly to the observations made by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones). A new member of this place may be pardoned for thinking, when he hears speeches from the Government side of the chamber, that everything is all right and the country is in a fine condition, and he certainly is given to understand, when he listens to Opposition members, that everything is wrong and the country is in a chaotic condition. I remind Opposition members that what they say will be judged by the people very shortly at an election, and the people are quite capable of making a reasonable assessment of the true condition of Australia to-day.
If I may, Mr. Temporary Chairman, 1 should like to touch for a moment on a discussion that occurred last evening in relation to a small, incidental aspect of immigration policy. As I had been led by the newspapers to believe that the matter concerned was to be discussed when the estimates for the Department of Immigration were being considered, and that a longer period in which to speak would have been available, I found it necessary to speak rather hurriedly last evening. I should like to take this opportunity to apologize to the “ Hansard “ reporters for the speed at which I made my remarks and to assure them that such speed will not be necessary this evening.
First, I congratulate the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) and the officers of the Department of Immigration on the way in which the functions of that department have been discharged in relation to matters in which I have been concerned since I have been a member of this place. I am sure that honorable members on both sides of the chamber will support me in commending the Minister and the department. Many favorable comments about the Minister personally and departmental officers by honorable members on the other side of the chamber have been recorded in the reports of proceedings here. I can say only that I have received the utmost co-operation and courtesy in any dealings that I have had with the department and the Minister. Departmental officers have gone to extreme lengths to obtain information and to do everything possible to help people who wish to have friends or relatives admitted to this country or who themselves wish to become naturalized. At all times they have been most helpful in endeavouring to bring matters to a successful conclusion.
I think that one of the finest and most worth-while features of Australian life to-day is the relationship between the Department of Immigration and migrants with respect to immigration policy. One can say, I think, in somewhat romantic terms, that the process by which we in this young country bring to our shores from countries with a much longer history people who live for a while among us, get to know us and then want to become naturalized, ends with a very happy ceremoney which to me is very much like a marriage ceremony. I think that that is one of the best ways in which to describe the naturalization ceremony. In the period of residence in Australia before naturalization, the migrant gets to know us and we get to know him. Having decided that he likes us, he seeks naturalization, and we, having decided that we like him, grant it. We decide to become one, as it were.
I think that naturalization ceremonies are among the finest ceremonies that I have ever seen. One of the nicest things about being a member of Parliament is being able to attend naturalization ceremonies and see the enthusiasm and pride with which migrants come forward to become naturalized as Australian citizens. I think that the sentiments expressed on behalf of newly naturalized citizens, and their views about Australia, could well be published and shown to critics of Australia’s migration policy.
I shall make one remark by way of criticism, and I do not mean it to be construed in any way as an attack on any particular honorable member or any particular party. I think that naturalization ceremonies should at all times be nonpolitical. It is wrong for any honorable member to use such ceremonies at any time for purposes of political propaganda. I feel that it is entirely a matter for the immigrant how he will vote when he assumes the responsibility of citizenship. I believe he should not be subjected to political influence, at least until he leaves the hall where the ceremony is being held. While he is still in the hall he should be on politically neutral ground.
The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) in a very fine speech mentioned the benefits that immigrants have bestowed on this country. I do not think that anybody can deny that they have had a significant influence on our way of living, our culture and our industries. There is no doubt that they have contributed more than their share to our productivity. They have certainly helped our export industries. Some of the methods they have introduced, combined with our own local knowledge, have been of great value to Australia. They have helped to improve our balance of payments position, and they have provided significant skilled labour. The honorable member for Phillip mentioned the motor industry. The firm of General MotorsHolden’s Proprietary Limited, for instance, has employed a quite incredible number of immigrants, and they have given satisfactory and even outstanding service. At times, I think, they have been an inspiration to out own workers. On the Snowy Mountains scheme and many other similar undertakings requiring hard work they have pitched in and done a job which it might have been difficult to get our own people to undertake.
I would like particularly to mention the immigrants in my own electorate of La Trobe. In the hill country of that electorate they are doing a first-rate job. Many people have criticized the immigration policy, saying that too few immigrants are going into the rural areas. I cannot claim to have a specifically rural electorate, but it includes an area in the Dandenongs in which there are bulb growers, flower growers and fruit growers, and the immigrant population is certainly in the forefront in those activities. They are magnificent citizens. They join in the public life of the community and they are significantly assisting the community.
Some honorable members have spoken this evening about immigrants returning to their homelands. Of course, if you want to paint a black picture of any subject you can always find a bit of ink somewhere which you can mix with water and spread all over the place. In my experience the migrant who has returned to his homeland has been successful here, has made a certain amount of money with which he has taken a trip to his homeland, where he has talked about Australia. Usually he has returned to this country and has been very glad to come back and enjoy the benefits that he is quite willing to admit are available to him in Australia. There are others, of course. While I was in England I spoke to a number of people who talked about emigrating to Australia. They asked the best way to get here. They had an idea that the Government provided an assisted passage, and they wanted to know whether they would be eligible. I was not a member of Parliament in those days, and I simply said, “If you wish to do so you can get out to Australia”. In my view, if they came here and were not impressed by everything we had to offer, and they wanted to return to the cold winters of England, that was their own affair. It is fair to say that some people have come out from England for the trip, have enjoyed a couple of years here and then have gone home again. On the other hand, quite a number of our Australian citizens have emigrated to Canada and have later returned to Australia on the same basis.
However, I think most immigrants have stayed here and have become proud citizens of Australia, and have been most grateful for the opportunities that Australia has given them.
– Fifty per cent, of those who have gone back to their homelands have returned to Australia.
– The honorable member for Corangamite tells me that 50 per cent, have returned. There is one other point I would like to make. I think the immigrant could pay a greater part in the development of certain sections of this country, particularly the northern areas. Many of the people who come here or who might wish to come here have been farmers. They have been used to making do on practically nothing. If one travels around Italy and certain parts of Germany one can see the small blocks that such people exist on. One then realizes that they have great capabilities as farmers. They have been used to producing foodstuffs and other products from quite barren land. I think the Government could encourage such people to come out here with a view to developing areas in the north. They could work for a period, for instance, on the roads that we intend to provide in the northern areas, and at the end of that period they could be given grants of land. This would be of great value to them and to Australia. I believe that some of our unemployed immigrants at the present time could be given opportunities in these northern areas. They would welcome an offer of land at the end of a specified period, on which they could settle their families and do something to assist themselves and the country.
I believe that from the point of view of defence as well as that of national development we should try to keep up the immigrant quota. The Minister said that the reduction was purely temporary and that he intends as soon as possible to revert to the previous programme and increase the immigrant intake at present operating. I believe this is essential, and no expressions of gloom from honorable members opposite should induce the Government to depart from such an intention. I agree with those who have advocated the reduction of the residential qualification for eligibility for the age pension. This is one direction in which we may be missing opportunities to obtain good citizens. A family might be willing to come here, but might be dissuaded because the mother or the father, now being, perhaps, 50-odd years of age, would eventually be out of employment because of age and would not be eligible for the age pension. 1 believe the period of residential qualification could well be reduced to ten years. I am sure the Minister and the Government, after hearing the discussion on this matter, and realizing how frequently it has been raised by honorable members on both sides, will consider the suggested reduction.
There is just one other matter I want to refer to and I do so only in passing. Last evening during the discussion of a matter that I mentioned concerning immigration, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) made some statements concerning myself - purely in passing, I must admit - which I am sure he realizes, on reflection, did him less than justice. It has been very cheering to me to have various members of the Labour Party come to me since that speech was made and apologize for it. It did not matter a great deal to me, but I would like to make these remarks for the benefit of immigrants coming to this country from Germany or Denmark. I assure them, as I feel certain all other honorable members would assure them, that when their descendants are third generation Australians they will not be treated as I was treated. I feel sure the honorable member for Hindmarsh did not intend to go to the lengths that he did go. If one is a third generation Australian, with forebears who came from Germany or Denmark, it is not usual to be called a nazi or a fascist.
– I desire to make a personal explanation, Mr. Temporary Chairman. The honorable member who has just sat down appears to have-
– You have not been misrepresented.
Order! The honorable member for Hindmarsh will have an opportunity later to deal with the misrepresentation.
– Must I not take the first opportunity that offers to make a personal explanation? The honorable member has finished his speech, and this is the first opportunity.
– The honorable member’s name is down to speak later in this debate, and he will have the opportunity then to state his case.
– I propose to address myself to some aspects of unemployment, but before doing so I want to take this opportunity to direct some attention to court-controlled ballots. The item covering this matter appears under Division No. 401 - Administrative. This item has a peculiar characteristic. Sometimes it appears in Division No. 401, and sometimes in Division No. 216. It seems to alter from year to year. That makes me conclude that the Government has not made up its mind who should administer court-controlled ballots. We regard such ballots as being rather important to the trade union movement, as well as to the Department of Labour and National Service, insofar as they have a distinct effect upon industrial relations, and upon the relationship that exists between the Government and the trade union movement.
I think it is to be regretted that the Government has not, apparently, made up its mind to exactly where the proposed vote for this item should appear in the Estimates. In my opinion, this activity should come properly under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labour and National Service because, as a trade unionist, I resent matters affecting trade unions being dealt with by the same department that deals with dope peddlers, smugglers, criminals, telephone tappers and so on. I refer, of course, to the Attorney-General’s Department. Once and for all, courtcontrolled ballots should be placed under the administration of the Department of Labour and National Service. I have raised this matter in order to say that we would prefer not to be classed as criminals, or with criminals, or to be dealt with by the department which deals with criminals. We want to be dealt with by the department set up to deal with labour relations. I do not want to argue the merits or demerits of court-controlled ballots. I think that everybody present knows exactly where the Labour Party stands in respect of such ballots. It stands on an entirely different footing from that of the Government.
Quite recently, there was a courtcontrolled ballot in connexion with the Amalgamated Engineering Union elections, some of the aspects of which I wish to mention. First, I want to say that I have from the general secretary of the A.E.U. a letter dated 13th September which, after referring to other matters, states -
Besides the very wide drawn sections of the Court Ballot Act by way of petitions, the undefined powers of the Registrar in respect to the regulations covering the Act are such that the administration of Section 170 becomes as much a monstrosity to the Trade Union Movement as does the Act itself.
We would suggest that it is a matter of concern to the tax payer and to the Auditor General if the Registrar and the various persons appointed by him, under Section 170 to conduct Union Elections are unnecessarily incurring public expense by conceding petition requests for Court Ballots where no evidence or justification of any sort has or can be produced to show that the elections conducted by the Organization are not proper in every respect and that there are adequate safeguards in the Rules of the Organization.
Secondly there is the aspect of various Electoral Officers appointed under Section 170 by the Registrar who repeatedly order a postal ballot for Union elections under their control, when in fact such are not necessary as the Rules of the Union concerned are adequate and organizationally provide for presence balloting with provisions for postal voting as prevail in Commonwealth and State Parliamentary Elections.
This of course is again an unnecessary expense incurred upon the tax payer and should be of concern to the Auditor General and the Commonwealth Parliament.
We would appreciate it if you would open up the matters raised on the basis of the points put forward in this correspondence.
P.S. It might be posed to the Federal Government that they would not dare to institute complete postal balloting for parliamentary elections because of the open field that there is for mal-practice, so why is it that postal balloting is forced upon Unions whose Rules provide otherwise.
This union points out that a custom has grown up that, when the authorities are asked to conduct a court-controlled ballot, they automatically conduct a postal ballot of the whole of the membership, although the rules of the union itself provide for postal balloting in accordance with Commonwealth or State electoral acts. The union quite properly says that no government would even consider a proposition to conduct a Federal or State election solely by way of postal balloting, because that would be open to malpractice. Some of the malpractices that have occurred in connexion with this ballot are most interesting.
On a previous occasion, I pointed out that malpractices had been associated with courtcontrolled ballots, such as people visiting the homes of persons to whom postal ballotpapers had been sent and intimidating them in order to get them to vote in a particular way. I want to read some examples of what happened in this recent courtcontrolled ballot, which was imposed on the A.E.U., although at no time was there any suggestion that this union had indulged, or would be likely to indulge, in malpractice. I quote from the minutes of the Melbourne District Committee of the A.E.U., dated 7th September, 1961.
In quoting from these minutes I will refer to this man as “ Brother X “ because I do not want to mention the name, although the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) can have the name and address if he wishes. The minutes read -
Brother X, employed at Dunlop Rubber Company, informed the Committee that he had returned from work on Tuesday, 19th September and found his ballot papers sent to him correctly under the name of X. However there was also an envelope addressed to his address under the name of Henderson. This envelope contained an industrial group “ How to Vote “ card. At 8.45 p.m. two men came to his home and asked for Mr. Henderson, clearly working off the same list from which the industrial group “ How to Vote “ card had been posted. Brother X told the men that there was no Mr. Henderson at that address. The men then started to remonstrate with him and, because he had a sick wife, he had to ask them to lower their voices. After a while they went to a car parked at the front of the house. They began to turn back, whereupon Brother X went down to the gate to ask them to leave the premises. They insisted there was a Mr. Henderson at the address and wanted to see him. After further argument, one of the men said “You dirty commo so and so “ and punched Brother X on the head dropping him to the ground.
I mention that because that sort of thing was quite common. There are a number of instances listed here and some of them are accompanied by sworn affidavits and all the matters contained therein have been referred to the electoral officer. I do not want to criticize the electoral officer except to say that there was great laxity, inasmuch as some men received through the post more than one ballot-paper. Some men’s homes were approached at night - one of these men was a neighbour of mine - and the men were threatened that if they did not hand their ballot-papers to the in dividuals who approached them they would be subjected to physical violence.
Numerous instances of that kind can be quoted in connexion with this ballot, which of course was conducted apparently under the guidance of the Attorney-General’s Department. I raised a similar matter in this chamber some years ago and named agents used in connexion with postal ballots, all armed with the authority of the then court, now of the commission, to knock on people’s doors, and all quite capable of, in fact some enthusiastic about, using physical violence to intimidate trade unionists into voting in a particular way. That is why I say it is not necessary at all times for the registrar to order a complete postal ballot, because postal ballots are open to malpractice. In this case the ballot was open to malpractice and I am prepared to submit to the Minister numerous instances such as I have just quoted.
I return now to the matter of unemployment. Early this week I asked the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it was true that there were some differences - not very substantial ones - between the methods of compiling unemployment figures in Australia and in Canada and the United States of America. The Minister replied that there was a difference. I had made the point that if the Australian figures were compiled on the same basis as the figures in Canada and the United States, there would be very little difference between the percentage of unemployed in those three countries and the comparisons so frequently drawn would not hold water.
I now propose to quote from “ Review “, a magazine published by the Institute of Public Affairs, portion of an article by Mr. C. D. Kemp, C.B.E., B.Com. The article states -
The way the unemployment statistics are compiled in the U.S. gives the worst possible picture of the position. Apparently everything is lumped into the employment figures; they include, for instance, elderly retired people who would take jobs if there were suitable ones available. I was told by a leading economist that if American employment statistics were made up in the same way as our statistics in Australia, the unemployment percentage would be about 4i%.
In this morning’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ the financial editor states the same conclusion.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- What a mean, miserable little speech the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Courtnay) made. He concluded on the same petty note as he started on. He started off by saying that he was puzzled, perplexed and bewildered because he could not find the corresponding item for court-controlled ballots in the Estimates of the previous year. Then he said what I thought was a most extraordinary thing. He said, “ I object to the fact that courtcontrolled ballots are under the same administration as dope peddlers, criminals and telephone tappers “. Plainly he was referring to the Attorney-General’s Department. I am sure that my friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) would be disturbed by such a miserable little criticism as that.
– What have you all those books for?
– You will find out later on, and I do not think you will be comfortable when you do find out. A member who tries to gain some sneaking little point as the honorable member for Darebin tries, does not add to the stature of Parliament. Just before he sat down he said that if the unemployment statistics in America were compiled on the same basis as the figures in Australia they would show a smaller percentage. That being conceded, what does it prove? Am I to understand from the honorable member that he would like to see us adopt in Australia a system similar to that now operating in the United States of America? Am I to understand that he would like to see all retired people and all married people, irrespective of their responsibilities or social or financial circumstances, included in the figures simply because they want a job and register with the employment bureau? To my mind that is nonsense.
There are two things I want to say about this mean, miserable dwarf-like speech of the honorable member. He adverted to malpractices in trade unions. I invite him to present evidence of those malpractices to my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). The second thing I want to say about his speech is that, nothing, he can say can wipe aside the fact that in the last twelve years this country has had an unparalleled period of industrial peace and that that is due to the court-controlled ballots which were greatly strengthened by the Menzies Government in 1951.
I enter the debate on these estimates in order to make some reference to the estimates for the Department of Immigration. It is a rather unhappy thing that in recent days the image that has been built up of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) is that he is not a libertarian. He has been pictured as a person who is hard, uncompromising and unwilling to walk in the traditions of those who subscribe to liberty and to a robust sense of democracy. I could not imagine anything more undeserving than that image of the Minister for Immigration. It has been given to few people to administer a department as sympathetically and as understanding^ as the present Minister for Immigration does. What has been said about him, both inside and outside this chamber, is completely unwarranted, and unjustified, and is not in accord with the facts.
It is very easy to grab hold of some particular point and to build an edifice around it, but the question is: Will the edifice stand if the foundation is not secure? The criticism that has been levelled at the Minister for Immigration on this occasion is built upon very shaky ground indeed. The Minister, a few days ago, in referring to the case involving Y. S. Brenner, said to the Leader of the Opposition: “I extend to you this offer. I will show you in confidence the file, and will give you the facts concerning this man “. What did the Leader of the Opposition say? He has a number of allergies, I know, but one of his more notable allergies is that he is allergic to facts. As I said a few days ago, his cry is: “ I have made up my mind. Do not confuse me with facts “. A remarkably generous offer was made by the Minister for Immigration and yet the Leader of the Opposition spurned it and treated it with utter contempt.
A very simple principle is involved in this case, but it is also a very great principle. It is whether or not a Minister responsible in many respects for national security should divulge to the whole country, and to ears not worn by sympathetic persons, information concerning the security of this country. The Minister has said that it is upon security grounds that he will not divulge the information. Some people have said, of course, that that is quite wrong. Let us assume for a moment that it is quite wrong. Let us take the case of, say, John Jones who is being refused entry into this country because he is a security risk. You are invited to say what sort of security risk he is. You disclose that he is such and such a risk. Then you are invited - this is the natural concomitant - to produce your proof. What happens then? It means that a complete sector of your security service is expended.
– All I can say to the honorable member for East Sydney is that if this is rubbish, the only reason he has a head on this occasion is to keep his ears apart, because he is using nothing that might be in his head. Let us assume that Mr. Brenner is an agent of a foreign power. I say “assume “. I hope no one is going to say that I said he is an agent of a foreign power. Is that clear, even to the honorable member for East Sydney? I repeat: Assume that he is an agent. The assumption is that the Minister for Immigration with his great courtesy says this. Then the honorable member for East Sydney asks, “ Where is your proof? “ The Minister produces the proof, even to the complete satisfaction of the honorable member for East Sydney. Then, what is the position? It means that as far as this particular individual is concerned, the way in which you have obtained your information concerning him, your contacts, and your connexions are finished forever.
Then all you have to do is to project this a little further. In the case of this one man you have stated specifically and explicitly why he was rejected, and then you produce your proof as to why he was rejected. If this principle is established then you are bound, not only on the ground of logic, but also on a host of other grounds, to do precisely the same thing with every other individual who might be rejected. This is very simple; it is quite elementary. If the honorable member for East Sydney - to give an illustration - were running, shall we say, the security organization and the Soviet Union wanted to know the full gamut of the whole organization of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, what would it do? It would merely get hold of 100 individuals known to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization as being Communist sympathizers, instruct them to apply for vises to enter Australia and then ask for the reasons for their rejection to be given and the proof to be adduced. I put it to you, Mr. Chairman: If that were to be the case, quite plainly security would become a complete and utter farce.
I want to say further in this matter-
– Have you ever won a case up there?
– All I can say is that if 1 ever had you up there, it would not even be a wrestle. I want to refer to some comments that have been made by great British judges on the very circumstances that have excited the interest of honorable members on both sides of the chamber. In 1916, when dealing with the responsibilities of a Minister, Lord Parker had this to say in the House of Lords. -
Those who are responsible for the national security must be the sole judges of what the national security requires. It would be obviously undesirable that such matters should be made the subject of evidence in a court of law or otherwise discussed in public.
Quite plainly, that is the principle. If you are dealing with national security, then the responsibility is upon the Minister concerned, and that responsibility does not flow to the courts, nor should it flow into the public arena. This may be objectionable to many people, but surely to heaven recent experience has completely underlined the need for that principle as enunciated by Lord Parker in 1916!
We come then to the later case of “ Liver.sidge v. Anderson” in 1941. This is what Lord Wright believed about the duty of a Minister in the circumstances that confronted him.
– I have never heard of him.
– I would not be surprised if you have never heard of him.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Hon. N. J. O. Makin). - Order! I ask the honorable member to address the chair.
– Lord Wright said-
I cannot see any ground for holding that the performance of that duty is to be subject to the decision of a judge, who cannot possibly have the full information on which the Minister has acted or appreciate the full importance in the national interest of what the information discloses.
He continued -
In these cases, full legal evidence or proof is impossible, even if the Secretary does not claim that disclosure is against the public interest, a claim which must necessarily be made in practically every case, and a claim which a judge necessarily has to admit. To a large extent the sources of information must be secret. Espionage must be met by counter espionage. Even to refuse the disclosure may give dangerous hints to the enemy. A hearing in camera -
He concluded -
In the same case Viscount Maugham had this to say-
I appeal to the good sense of members of the Opposition and of the Australian people. If we are prepared to accept the principle that the Minister of the day, who is responsible for a section of public security, must of necessity disclose why he will not admit an individual into the country - that is the important point - every time he makes such a decision, then apparently we as a nation are not prepared to recognize what is required of us in the matter of national security.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I rise only to answer one question which has been put to me by four members of the Opposition. First, the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) asked me a question this morning about the matter, and the honorable members for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), Darebin (Mr. Courtnay) and Wills (Mr. Bryant) also referred to the same problem in their speeches to-night. The problem is the true percentage of unemployed in Australia and whether we are to take it as a percentage of the work force, as is set out in the monthly release of the Department of Labour and National Service, or whether we are to base it on a purely hypothetical figure which was concocted and published this morning by the financial editor of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “.
Before I deal with the argument on this matter may I explain the two different sets of facts which can be presented. The first is the set of figures issued by my own department, which relates to registrations for employment and to vacancies notified by employers to the department. In each of those cases it is a record of fact. In the first place, it is a record of people who go to the various offices of the department and ask for placement in a job. Any person is entitled, of him own volition, to register for employment is he is unemployed and wants a job. Consequently you find here a record of fact. No more and no less can be said about it than that. The figures are collated by the district offices and sent to the head office where they are assembled and the gross totals published.
The Minister has nothing to do with these figures. They are published by the department and cannot be distorted in any way. So it is regrettable that any Opposition member should claim that the figures are a distortion. They are records of fact. The figures are accurate and are the best figures there are representing the number of people who come along to us and say that they want jobs. We then try to place them.
The second set of figures is that relating to the Commonwealth Statistician’s estimates of civilian wage and salary earners - estimates, I emphasize, of persons in employment and in specified avenues of employment. These estimates do not include persons in the rural industries and the defence forces, and domestics. Therefore, these are a strictly limited set of figures. We have, on the one hand, counts of persons registered and, on the other, estimates of persons in specific kinds of employment. To try to compare the two is a totally illogical and unrewarding exercise. I want that to be remembered. Those who try to compare them either do not know what they are talking about or, if they do, are engaging in a slick debating exercise. The facts only have to be made known for the slick debating exercise to fail.
The financial editor had this to say in this morning’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ -
Taking first the official figures of persons in employment . . . there was a fall of 77,300 between November and July.
Here he made his first error because people in employment in November included numbers of married women and elderly people who, while they would take jobs when jobs were easy to obtain and when they did not have to worry about losing a job and getting another one because not much effort was involved, would in fact be included in the work force at that time. But when they found that a job was difficult to get, or if they could not be bothered making the effort, they did not seek employment. So, to start with the November figure, and then claim that there had been a fall of 77,300 and to try to relate that fall to unemployed - people wanting and anxious to have a job- is to fall into an error.
Then the article went on to mention the work force increase of 56,000. Here was the second error. When we think of an increase in the work force, we must remember that one person in four is selfemployed. I should have mentioned, Mr. Chairman, that self-employed people are not included in the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures of wage and salary earners. So here is another error which clearly points to the fact that this exercise is not scientifically accurate. For these reasons, to come to the conclusion that 134,000 people who were previously in employment are unemployed is an erroneous conclusion.
Now we come to the third error. This gentleman - a highly intelligent person - then added that number to the 43,000 already registered in November. I have pointed out that you cannot compare these two sets of figures, and you cannot add the incomparable and different sets. The method is illogical; it tries to add two incomparable sets of figures, one relating to unemployed - people who are seeking jobs - and the other relating to employed - people in jobs. And so, when it is argued that the number of registrants for employment should be 177,000 instead of 110,000, you can take it from me that the figures are inaccurate and that the argument is illogical.
That is the position which I wanted to put to the committee. The Opposition shows how little it cares about this problem of employment when, instead of expressing some sympathy for the difficulties of the unemployed - instead of trying to make some practical contribution towards solving the problem, and instead of making some positive contribution to the Government’s efforts towards development and expansion and expanding opportunities for the work force - it has to scavenge about for some kind of silly unscientific argument like that which has been presented by the four Opposition members whom I mentioned.
Sir, I do not want to take up too much time as other honorable gentlemen have much to say. I rose because I wished to expose the fallacy and the illogical nature of the arguments that have been presented. I finish on this note: Naturally, I am more wrapped up in this problem of unemployment than most other members of the committee are. In fact, I live with it. Day by day I am becoming increasingly confident that the forecasts that have been made by me and my colleagues, however guarded they have been, will turn out to be correct. The honorable gentleman from Wills wanted to acclaim me as William the Prophet. Apart from one statement - which I subsequently explained to the House and which I am prepared to admit could have been expressed in somewhat better language - I will stand up to all of my statements, because I believe that they have reflected the trend correctly. I repeat that I am becoming increasingly confident that the forecasts that have been made by me and my colleagues - that there will be a steady and sure improvement in the unemployment position and a steady fall in the number of registrants for employment - will turn out to be correct. The Opposition will lose the one issue that it hopes it will have at election time on which it can fight the election. By that time the number of unemployed will have dropped substantially and the Opposition, particularly the leader of the Opposition (Mr.
Calwell), will be left lamenting. He will be left with nothing to argue about. He will be compelled to indulge in his usual tactics of vast and irresponsible exaggeration.
.- Mr. Chairman, I address my remarks to the estimates of the Department of Immigration. Speaking literally, I say that I have no argument whatever with the Government’s handling of its immigration programme. In fact, this Government has only continued a scheme which my leader, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), commenced some years previous to this Government’s coming to office. Generally speaking, immigration has brought a great wealth of talent of all kinds to Australia, the value of which cannot be estimated in terms of money. The skill and enterprise which have been added to the building trades, heavy industries and commerce are of inestimable value. The knowledge of a variety of languages that many immigrants display is of great assistance in the general assimilation of their countrymen. I believe that this nation is greatly indebted to the new Australians who help in that way. The present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) consistently helps members of the Parliament in the numerous problems associated with immigration, and no fault can be found with him in that regard.
However, having said that, let me say that I believe that many features of immigration need investigation, because merely accepting 100,000 or more migrants into our country each year and then, after a short period, leaving them to their own resources irrespective of their circumstances, simply destroys the moral and the principal objective which influenced us in deciding to bring them here. I have been told by numerous migrants ‘that in their own countries they were assured by consular officials, agents and other representatives that work and housing were plentiful in Australia and that it was only a matter of their arriving in Australia, being quickly assimilated into our way of life and thus becoming part of our society. However, it has not worked that way for many thousands of people.
Only last week I met an Italian who came to Australia a month or two before that time, believing that he would be able to earn sufficient to save enough money to bring his wife and five or six children to Austrafia within a year or two. But the facts are that he has not worked for one day since he arrived in Australia and on the 23rd of this month he will return to Italy, never to come here again. That family has been lost to Australia. Perhaps it could have become an asset to the country. That, in itself, is bad enough; hut how many more families that man will influence not to come to Australia is hard to estimate. In my opinion, there should be no need for that man or any other person to have to leave this country and go elsewhere because work or homes are unavailable. Hardships and unemployment are playing havoc with some new Australian families. I am of the opinion that some immigration field officers are not watching the position closely enough, or they are presenting completely incorrect reports to their superior officers on how the new Australians are faring in their assimilation. If that is so, the Minister’s view could become somewhat clouded in the multiplicity of problems with which migrants are confronted.
I suggest to the Minister to-night that the time is long overdue when the Government should have set up a migrant legal service bureau similar to the legal service bureau which operates in the interests of ex-servicemen. Such a bureau should be operating in every State of the Commonwealth. It should not only advise the migrants but also represent them in the courts of law. I believe that if a bureau were established and if the various countries from which the migrants have come were asked to bear part of the cost of the administration of such a bureau, at least some of the countries would support the proposal and help to meet the expenses that would be incurred. Ways and means of meeting some of the other costs could be worked out. I suggest that the creation of an organization similar to that which I envisage at least would protect our new citizens from the unscrupulous philanderers who are to be found in all forms of business activity. Some legal firms are waxing fat on the ignorance of some new Australians.
How can the Minister expect new Australians to understand the complex legal systems that operate throughout Australia? Each State and the Commonwealth Territories have different laws. We who have been born and reared in this country, and are supposed to understand the English language quite thoroughly, often become involved with our own laws because we do not know their ramifications. 1 find that from time to time new Australians are completely bewildered by the complexity of Australian law, and quite often many of them get into trouble by saying the wrong thing although they are not guilty of an offence. I say quite candidly that almost every day I become more and more bogged down in the complexity of our laws.
For instance, the people who understand the landlord and tenancy laws of New South Wales are geniuses, to my mind. New Australians become hopelessly lost in that legislation. The legal authorities who administer it often become entangled in it. If that is so, how can we expect new Australians to understand it? I know that in the war years it became necessary for the New South Wales Government and other State governments to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords who, because of housing shortages, were out to exploit the unfortunate families who could not obtain accommodation. I also know that in the immediate post-war years it was necessary to protect tenants further, in view of the demobilization of our military forces. In that regard, the New South Wales Government has done a really good job.
But all cf that is well and truly behind us now. For the past seven years or so that State Government has said that it is setting out to ease the landlord and tenancy law. As I see the position, some of the present provisions of that law are more severe than they were ten years ago, and bcause of that new Australians have been caught up in that legislation in the purchase of homes. I shall illustrate what 1 mean. It is only natural that people who migrate to Australia from foreign countries, especially those people who come from countries behind the iron curtain and from the less developed countries, would like their relatives who are still in those countries to join them here. In some instances, the relatives who have been left behind are stateless and homeless. Some have lost their spouses and have no earning capacity, and those who are in Australia often have to send money abroad to support them. The first requirement by the Department of Immigration of any person who applies to bring a relative to Australia is that the nominator must guarantee accommodation and upkeep for the nominee for at least two years. To my mind, that is a very reasonable requirement, provided, of course, no obstacles are placed in the way of that being done. But when the hidden provisions contained in an act of Parliament, such as the Landlord and Tenant Act, have had the attention of crafty people who continually seek out weaknesses in the law for their own purposes, the new Australian is not in the race to cope with the tactics such people employ.
Late last year, a new Australian purchased a home to accommodate his wife’s two widowed sisters and their families on arrival in Australia. The residence which he purchased had never before come within the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act because it had not previously been rented to any one. In fact, for about 30 years up to 1947, the one owner had occupied it. Following the death of the owner, his two daughters continued to live in the home until 1952, when it was sold to wind up the estate. The new purchaser moved in and occupied the property himself until April, 1960, when it was sold, with vacant possession to the new Australian to whom I refer. One of his sisters-in-law arrived in Australia and moved into the house. A few weeks later, an Australian citizen saw the owner and asked to be allowed to rent a part of the cottage. His request was refused for some time. When, some weeks later, after continually pestering the owner to be allowed to occupy part of the house until it was wanted by the owner, this man produced a contract written in his own handwriting in which he undertook to vacate the premises as soon as he was requested to do so, the owner agreed to his request. No sooner was this man in the home than he made application to the court for the premises to be fair-rented. The magistrate who heard the case confirmed the tenant’s occupancy of the dwelling and reduced the rent, which the tenant himself had nominated, from £6 to £2 13s. a week.
When the matter was placed before the responsible Minister in New South Wales, that Minister said the owner should have consulted a solicitor before he let the property and that the landlord would have to abide by the provisions of the legislation. Mr. Chairman, that is typical of what many new Australians are putting up with at the present time. It appears that they are expected to know as much about the law as Australians do, and that is quite impossible for them. Certain legal firms are trading on the inability of new Australians to understand the law with the result that some new Australians are being robbed hand over fist. The practice to which I refer does not apply exclusively to new Australians. Our own people sometimes become victims of smart lawyers. Fortunately, only a small minority of firms can be placed in that category, but the damage being done is considerable.
Let me refer to one case which has come to my notice. The man to whom I refer is a Pole who purchased a block of land, with the wooden frame of a house on it, at Weston, in the Hunter electorate, in 1953 for £250 cash. He engaged a firm of solicitors, Skilton and Skilton of Maitland, to do the conveyancing work. At the same time, he engaged the man from whom he bought the land to complete the building. While the building work was proceeding, the purchaser was employed on the Glenbawn dam project about 100 miles to the north of where the land was situated. It was his intention, on completion of the dam, to return to Weston with his wife and five children and live in his home.
In 1954, this new Australian, whose family was increasing in size, decided to construct an additional room. He visited another solicitor in Maitland with a view to obtaining finance. He was told to pick up the deeds of the land and a loan would be negotiated. On visiting Messrs. Skilton and Skilton, this new Australian was abruptly shown the door, the solicitor indicating that he was too busy to be bothered with him. The new Australian then went to Weston to inspect his home. To his surprise, he found it occupied by another family. Upon questioning the occupier, the Pole was told that this other man had also purchased the dwelling from the same person from whom the Pole had purchased it in the first place, but a different solicitor had handled the business. On ascertaining that Dave Bevins - who has since died - was the solicitor concerned, the Pole visited Mr. Bevins who, I understand, expressed surprise, and astonishment at the thought that such a thing could happen.
The Pole was then referred to Mr. Woodgate, a solicitor in Newcastle who was supposed to rectify the position by taking court action against the man who had sold the land. That was late in 1955, but the case has not been decided yet. The Pole has already spent between £800 and £900 and he does not own any of the property that he purchased. His savings have all gone and the last I heard about the case was that the man who sold the land to the Pole did not in fact himself own it, that it was registered in the name of some one in Redfern. How any solicitor could handle a case in that fashion and get away with it I do not know. But it has happened, and many cases of similar land transactions are also known.
In another case involving the sale of a house through a firm of solicitors named Mcintosh, McPhillamy and Company, at Bathurst, the contract of sale was made out in such a way that the vendor could not obtain payment of the balance of the purchase money for fifteen years. It is my view that solicitors who engage in the type of business to which I refer should be struck off the roll of solicitors. How they get away with what they are doing I do not know.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I think the committee knows that the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths), who has just spoken, has always shown a very genuine interest in the welfare of migrants. I know that, in the various cases he has brought before me in my time as Minister, he has shown great sincerity in their interests. For myself. I shall give some consideration to his suggestion that a migrant legal service bureau be set up, but I think we should realize that at the present time - indeed this has applied for some time now - migrants are not destitute of services which, if not exactly what the honorable member desires, are related to what he has been suggesting to the committee. For instance, migrants can get useful advice from my officers in the immigration offices in the various State capitals. The Commonwealth Bank operates a very useful, and 1 am sure, a much appreciated service, and I need hardly remind the committee of the very great work done by those splendid, selfless people constituting the Good Neighbour Council.
My principal object in rising to-night is to follow my custom of previous years and give the committee a broad outline of the Government’s immigration target for the current fiscal year, 1961-62. As I said on another occasion, we are continuing in our aim to achieve a target of 125,000 people for 1961-62. Those who come in under the assisted passage scheme will number 65,000. Those who arrive on full fare, without any assistance, will number 60,000. The first category, those coming in as assisted migrants, will include, broadly, 34,500 British from the United Kingdom. That will represent an increase in our objective of 500 over the previous year. There will be, in addition, under our general assisted passage scheme, 1,000 British people coming from outside the United Kingdom, including for this purpose the Irish. Then from the European continent there will be in all 27,500 under the assisted scheme, including 3,000 refugees. There will be 2,000 under our general assisted passage scheme from other foreign countries. The full-fare component resolves itself in this way: We expect British people, including Australians returning here after an absence of twelve months or more, to number 29,000. In addition, there will be 1,000 Maltese, 15,000 Italians, 5,000 Greeks, and 10,000 of other nationalities.
As honorable members will recall, the Government, whilst not reducing its immigration programme, altered the components of it last autumn in order to lessen the impact on unemployment. Between July and December of this year, virtually no unskilled workers will be brought to this country. The emphasis instead is being placed on skilled workers, professional people, wives, fiancees, dependants and parents and single women. Parenthetically, the committee may be interested to know that in the last financial year we brought in no fewer than 1,533 domestic workers, not only for the various ramifications of domestic service, but also, of course, for work in hospitals and other necessary public institutions. Again, the emphasis in this month and coming months will be on those nominated by residents here, for whom jobs and accommodation are readily available.
At this stage, Mr. Chairman, may I reply to something that my friend, the honorable member for Calare (Mr. England), said during his interesting speech, concerning his plea for more consideration for children brought out under the Fairbridge farm scheme. The honorable gentleman may be interested to know that we have made what I think is a quite worth-while advance in this respect in this Budget. For Fairbridge and approved child migrant organizations, we have replaced the present equipment allowance of £10, of which he spoke, with what we call now an equipment and establishment allowance of £100 for every child under sixteen. To qualify for this maximum allowance of £100, a child must be maintained for a full year. Those children maintained for lesser periods will receive a somewhat reduced amount, according to a sliding scale. These larger allowances will be paid to all approved organizations caring for migrant children, in respect of children arriving on or after 1st July, 1961. I think that the honorable gentleman and the committee generally will agree that this does represent quite a remarkable advance in what the Government is doing to assist in what I entirely agree with him is this very worthwhile part of immigration, bringing young children here and enabling them to grow up from a very early age in the Australian environment.
The Government is hopeful that with the general improvement in the Australian economy which is becoming so apparent in so many directions, we shall be able to return in 1962 to the previous worker intake and so confident is my department of that, as honorable members may observe, that we have slightly increased the amount set aside in the estimates for publicity to £195,000. But, Sir, the big question - this really is a great question - is whether Australia in future can maintain a migrant flow on the present scale or perhaps - as I personally would hope - as the years advance, on an even greater scale, in face of the growing momentum in England and Europe for the European Common Market.
In spite of all the Jeremiahs - and they abound, Mr. Chairman - I believe that we shall maintain the flow for these reasons: First, my distinguished permanent head, Sir Tasman Heyes, has quite recently returned from a three months’ visit of hard negotiations overseas, and has furnished me with a most interesting and comprehensive report, the general tenor of which, on this very question of maintaining and perhaps increasing the migrant flow, can be described as moderately optimistic. Secondly, we have quite recently had most valuable visits by the Italian Minister for Immigration - that is not his actual title, but that in fact is his function - Signor Storchi. We have had here permanent migration officials from Germany and Holland. All of these gentlemen and their staffs have been most reassuring on this point, so far as the outward flow to Australia from their own countries is concerned.
Honorable members who have been travelling within the last year or so will, I think, agree with me that there is in Europe a genuine and great goodwill towards Australia. That certainly has been the experience of this Government, and most particularly in relation to migration matters. We are not flattering ourselves, Mr. Chairman, when we claim that in Europe, from where we draw our principal migration intake, there is a real confidence in the absorptive capacity of this country. Moreover, Sir, there is a realization, on the part of the countries of Western Europe particularly, that there are wider factors involved in migration than merely internal prosperity in the home country of migrant origin. There is patently a recognition by European countries of Australia’s rising place in the world. They see us as a nation representing some of the best standards of Western civilization. They appreciate our need for quick expansion, and they know that this is impossible without an unceasing stream of people flowing in here. These European countries also perceive advantages to themselves in contributing a sizeable proportion of their own nationals to a country such as ours with such an undoubtedly great future.
Furthermore, Mr. Chairman, people who come to Australia are not animated solely by economic motives. There is what superficially might seem to many observers to be the rather paradoxical situation that in spite of the great prosperity in the United Kingdom and the Old World so many pointers indicate that the flow here will not diminish but will be maintained. I shall give four examples to illustrate this point. In Northern Ireland, where we have had for some years a migration office at Belfast, approximately 7 per cent, of workers are unemployed. Yet, Sir, most of the applicants for migration to Australia at our office in Belfast are people who are not only in jobs but in good jobs. In Germany, we have the extraordinary spectacle of over 500,000 foreign workers being in that thriving and prosperous country to-day. Yet there is no sign of a real diminution in the outflow of German migrants to Australia. In Holland, a much smaller country, we have the same scene and much the same story. Many thousands of other continental workers, particularly Italians, are there. Yet there is still this desire of these people to settle in Australia.
Finally, in my last example I mention the United Kingdom. Despite the fact that, especially in relation to the lowerpaid workers, the people are better off to-day than at any previous time in the history of England, the rate of applications for migration to Australia is more than half as high again this year as it was last year. I think the committee will agree, Mr. Chairman, that these are indeed most hopeful signs. In spite of the real prospects of the Common Market, in spite of the apparently ever-ascending prosperity of the Old World, I repeat, the signs are that this stream will continue to come to Australia.
Sir, I do not want to keep the committee any longer. I still remember how irritating it was to me in my days as a private member for Ministers to rise and impinge on private members’ time during Estimates debates. But there is one thing I want to say before I sit down, and I am sure it will meet with the approbation of the committee, irrespective of the side on which we sit. Within a month, the permanent head of my department, Sir Tasman Heyes, will retire from the Public Service. As honorable members will recall, he has been the secretary of the department since its foundation in 1945. All members of the Parliament who have had experience of Sir Tasman will agree that he has earned his place in the history of this country for the work he has done for immigration. I think we would go further and say that Sir Tasman Heyes stands as one of the most distinguished civil servants of our time. He and others like him have not spared themselves in the performance of their duties. This is typical of the sacrifices made by officers of the Public Service throughout its many ramifications. Their record stands in shining contrast to the cheap criticisms so fashionable to-day, which are made by certain newspapers and by some people in lucrative positions in an attempt to denigrate officers of the Public Service. Sir Tasman has served four Ministers faithfully and impartially, irrespective of party, with absolute honour and the greatest distinction. With each of his four Ministers he has not only been a principal adviser, but he has also become a real and profound friend.
had to say, but I found some of his arguments a little unconvincing. I do not doubt for one moment that many people living in countries overseas are eager to migrate to Australia; but I do not agree that this eagerness is entirely based on the reasons advanced by the Minister. Nobody - certainly no Australian - would deny that this is a great country. But it is being ruined by bad government. The fact that a great many people are eager to come to Australia only proves the charges frequently made about the falsity of the propaganda disseminated overseas by the immigration authorities. This propaganda suggests that employment is readily available in Australia at good wages and that homes are easily secured, and it induces many people to leave their homelands. We know the state of world tension at the moment. The Minister mentioned Germany. If Germany is as prosperous as we are given to understand it is at the moment, and if its people want to leave their country while foreign labour is being brought into it, there must be some reason. Undoubtedly they regard Australia as a remote part of the world and they want to get away from the centre of trouble and the centre of danger.
I have heard honorable members eulogize the Minister, but I have mixed feelings. I have yet to be convinced on certain points. I think the Minister in his administration has shown a certain number of inconsistencies. For instance, he recently issued a deportation order against an Italian migrant in Melbourne who had been convicted of a very serious crime and sentenced to nine months imprisonment. The Minister, on the word of one judge who expressed some doubt on the matter, decided that he would revoke the order and would give the benefit of the doubt, as he said, to the person who had been convicted. Does the Minister suggest that this Italian was not given a fair trial and an opportunity to present a defence in the proceedings in which he was convicted? As far as I can ascertain, there was no appeal and no re-trial ordered. We, therefore, can accept that this man was convicted of a very serious crime, but on the say-so of one judge, one individual in the community, the Minister decided to revoke the order.
But in other instances, when people have a good claim to enter Australia and to become Australian citizens, the Minister becomes most vehement and says he will not change his decision. One matter I want to refer to relates to the JapaneseAustralian half-caste children who still, in many instances, remain in a state of destitution in Japan. They are just as much our responsibility as they are the responsibility of the Japanese Government, and probably our responsibility is greater. Representatives of Church organizations have visited them and on their return have pressed the Minister to adopt a sympathetic approach and to show some leniency to these unfortunate waifs and half-caste children who are existing under very miserable circumstances in Japan to-day.
I want to direct attention to another matter which reveals the attitude of th? Minister. Some honorable members have said that in some cases the Minister ha*, been willing to disregard the recommendation of the security service. 1 do not think the Minister has made that claim himself However, I cannot recollect any cas-: brought to my notice in which the security service made a report and the Minister waa willing to go against the report. Let me quote from the correspondence I hold in my hand. This relates to a matter I have raised in the Parliament previously. TV Minister has assured me that he is still looking at it and is still examining it, but I never get beyond the point of some examination being made. I have yet to receive a favorable decision.
This letter was written in December, 1958, to the husband of the applicant fc naturalization. Evidently the husband ha ‘ written to the secretary of the department seeking some explanation of the reject’” of his wife’s application for naturalization. The letter said -
The Minister for Immigration has asked me to write to you on his behalf concerning the application for naturalization submitted by your wife.
The full facts of your wife’s case were placed before the Minister in July last when he decided to withhold the grant of Australian citizenship in her favour. It is regretted that this decision cannot be varied.
It is the practice for this Department to make known the Minister’s reason for rejecting an application for naturalization only in cases where the decision has been based upon the applicant’s inability to comply with the residential or language requirements of the Nationality and Citizenship Act. Your wife does not come within this category and consequently the grounds for the rejection of her application cannot be disclosed.
Even Brenner, whose case has been referred to frequently in the Parliament in recent weeks, was told that his application to enter Australia had been rejected as a result of a security report, but other people who have lived and made their homes in Australia for many years are not told why they cannot obtain certificates of naturalization. If a member of Parliament writes to the Minister seeking further information about such a case he usually receives in reply two letters - one to send to the person concerned and the other for the member’s confidential information. Why that latter letter is made confidential is beyond my understanding, because it never discloses much beyond the fact that the application has been rejected as a result of a security report.
I do not know how long the people of Australia will permit this state of affairs to continue. This woman to whom I have referred is a Portuguese woman. She is the wife of a former Portuguese national who himself has become a naturalized Australian citizen. The couple has three children and the only member of the family who has been denied a certificate of naturalization is the wife. She has been given no specific reason for the refusal to grant her a certificate. I have no reason to disbelieve the statements that this woman has made to me. I cannot imagine that any one whose application for naturalization had been rejected on security grounds would be foolish enough, if there were any basis for the rejection, to press for an investigation as this woman is doing. She is pressing to be told what the charge is against her and to be given an opportunity to clear herself. She has assured me that she has never been a member of any political organization. She has never been a member of any industrial organization. According to her - this is confirmed by her husband - she has been a housewife since her arrival in this country. From the information given to me by the husband, it would appear that the security report is based on the objection of the security service, not to the wife, but to the husband. However, he had already obtained a certificate of naturalization, evidently before he was investigated by the security service.
I interviewed these people on a number of occasions and I asked them many questions. I asked the husband to tell me what type of employment he had followed since his arrival in Australia. I asked him whether he knew of any reason why objection should be taken to granting his wife a certificate of naturalization. He told me that he has never been in a police court in his life, either in his own country, before leaving it, or in Australia. He has never been a member of any political organization in Australia or in his former homeland. I will tell the committee the nature of this man’s activities, which undoubtedly form the basis of the security report on his wife. I will show what a ridiculous situation can develop unless the Australian people, through their elected representatives, demand a change in the activities of this fascist-like organization.
Honorable members opposite have often said that the security service was established by a Labour Government. That is so. 1 was a member of the Government that established the security service and I well remember the circumstances under which it was established. The security service was established following the visit to Australia of a very important British security official, who complained that the Americans were refusing to give information of a secret character to the British until Australia tightened her security organization. The Americans believed that any information given to Britain would be transmitted to Australia, and unless certain precautionary measures were taken they were not prepared to let that happen. Accordingly, the Prime Minister of the day decided to meet the request of the British and a security organization was established. However, the Labour Government of the day clearly recognized the great dangers to the individual liberties of Australian citizens inherent in the establishment of such an organization. The Government at that time restricted the organization’s activities to matters involving national security. If the security service to-day were to confine its activities to matters affecting national security, no member of this Parliament would raise any objection to it. The Labour Government placed the security service under the control of Mr. Justice Reed of South Australia. We did that because we recognized the dangers inherent in such an organization. But since the organization has passed from the control of Mr. Justice Reed it has developed under this Government into a semi-military organization under the control of Brigadier Spry.
The security service to-day does not confine its activities to matters directly affecting national security. It is acting as a political police force for this Government. After the unfortunate Portuguese gentleman to whom I have referred arrived in Australia, he found himself, -like many other migrants, faced with a period of unemployment. A friend of his told him that a position for a waitercleaner was available at the Russian social club in Sydney. The man applied for and secured the position. He was in that employment for about four months. The wages paid to him were very low, the position was not satisfactory from his point of view, and he was always looking for a better position. Eventually he secured a better position. He went into the building industry. When he entered the building industry, he joined the Building Workers’ Industrial Union, which this Government has branded as Communist-controlled. The man is an active unionist. He became a job delegate. You can understand that when the gum-shoe boys went after him and discovered that he had first worked for the Russian social club and then had become a job delegate for the Building Workers’ Industrial Union, those facts would be enough for the security service to declare him a positive and grave security risk.
Let me refer to the case of another gentleman, who was Portuguese also. This poor old chap was deported from Portugal when he was a very young man although he was never charged with any offence or convicted in any court in his own country. When we remember the type of government that exists in Portugal, we can well imagine this sort of thing happening. He was the secretary of his local union in Lisbon. He was suddenly picked up, taken to a boat, and sent to Portuguese Timor. He remained there for a few years and ultimately got to Australia. He has been in Australian for many years doing ordinary honest work on the Sydney waterfront. He applied for a certificate of naturalization, which was refused on the basis of a security report.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Friday, 6th October 1961.
– I propose to refer to matters concerning the Department of Labour and National Service, but first I wish to comment on the remarks on the Security Service passed by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). His remarks were interesting in view of the history of this service under Labour. Even after the Labour Government had established the security service, America would not trust Australia with secrets. That is a fact.
I wish to deal with certain industrial matters. I am particularly concerned, as are most people on the land, with the drift of our rural economy. I believe that, to a great extent, this is the result of the continual wage award increases granted in this country. In making that statement, I am not suggesting that we should be a low-wage nation, but continuation of the present increases in costs will eventually bring ruin to everybody in Australia, including the wage-earners.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said some time ago that primary producers were rather lax in making submissions to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I quite agree; but in some cases that is not so. The Graziers’ Association has always been very consistent in its appearances, but that cannot be said for many other primary producers’ organizations. I am very pleased to see that a great change is taking place. At the last two basic wage hearings all sections of primary producers were very well represented. However, despite that, there was an increase of 12s. following the last basic wage hearing, and that will put the rural industry in a very serious position. Indeed, it will affect the whole Australian economy because, after all, we will never have a healthy economy unless we export manufactured goods.
I think the present time presents a wonderful opportunity for the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) to make some amendments to the arbitration system. We have made tremendous progress industrially under the present Minister because of some excellent changes he has made. Great improvements have undoubtedly taken place, but I believe there is still scope for advancement. That applies particularly to the set-up of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Over the years, there have been continual changes in the commission and in every case, I believe, they have been for the better. After all, arbitration tribunals are there to give justice to all sections of the community but on this occasion justice has not been done. First, I should like to quote from the basic wage judgment of 1961. The commission stated -
We are not national economic policy makers or planners. We are confined to the legislation under which we act and, in particular, in basic wage cases, we have the function of deciding only what is a just and reasonable basic wage. This does not mean, of course, that we have not to consider seriously the probable effects of our decision on the economy.
I turn now to the role of the Commonwealth. The commission, in its judgment, stated -
The question of what weight the Commission should give to (1) the attitude and (2) the submissions of the Commonwealth Government was again raised in these proceedings. In the 1960 Basic Wage judgment we said: “Such a clear statement of the Commonwealth Government’s attitude, supported as it is by submissions and economic material, is a matter which this Commission must seriously take into account “.
Of course, the Commonwealth Government made an appearance in the 1960 proceedings opposing the basic wage rise, but on this occasion it made a submission. I have no legal training, and as a layman I find it difficult to decide the difference in value between an attitude and a submission. The sense I get from reading the judgment is that the commission simply does not take as much notice of a submission as it does of an attitude. That is something that must be looked into.
After all, this Government is responsible for the economy of the nation and the commission can change completely the course of the economy, as we saw in the 1939 basic wage and margins determinations when £200,000,000 was injected into our economy. That was the beginning of the boom and of the need for the measures subsequently taken to stem that boom. It is interesting, too, to note the role of the States. The judgment of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission stated on this point -
The State of South Australia appeared before us but it made no submissions and called no evidence. The State of Tasmania indicated that it supported the unions’ application for restoration of automatic adjustments plus an adjustment of the basic wage to the level as indicated by the present “ C “ Series Index. Although its representative indicated that some material might be presented to us by the Government of Tasmania, in the event none was presented. The State of Western Australia neither supported nor opposed the application but produced information dealing with the economy of the State, particularly with current trends in it. The States of Victoria and Queensland neither supported nor opposed the application.
What is interesting is the fact that on practically every occasion after the increases had been granted, the States have approached the Commonwealth for further funds to meet increases in the basic wage as applied to their services. I believe that not only the primary producers but also the
States owe a greater responsibility to make satisfactory appearances at these hearings. I come now to the findings on rural industry.
The judgment of the commission stated -
Mr. Hawke’s basic proposition was that farmers are engaged in an industry which is by its very nature subject to fluctuation, the main cause of the fluctuation being changes in prices received, a matter which cannot be affected by any decision of the Commission. He said that in the past the Commission had been over-concerned with every change in circumstances of rural industry. He pointed out that the great majority of employees with whom we are concerned are non-rural workers and accordingly the importance of the state of the rural industry can be over-emphasized in basic wage fixation.
Then there is a reference that is really startling to primary producers. The judgment states, referring to Mr. Hawke -
He also pointed to the concessions which the farming community received from the legislature by way of tax concessions and things such as special freight rates on railways.
These things do not enter into the basic wage case at all. They are concessions that every primary producer looks to as, in a sense, a reward for the importance of their industry to the economy.
– Who made those statements?
– Mr. Hawke, the advocate for the Australian Council of Trade Unions. It was a most startling statement because I cannot see any evidence that the commission disregarded it. Now I turn to the findings on wool. We find that apparently the position of wool “ is not strong “ but at least it is “ improving “. The commission apparently is looking into the future. It is consulting the crystal ball and reaching its findings on the possibility of the industry improving. We come then to costs. Here is an admission on the increase in costs because of the rise in the basic wage. The judgment states -
It cannot be denied and, indeed, was not denied by Mr. Hawke, that increases in the basic wage will lead to some increases in prices. In some cases it may fairly be said that such increases are inevitable.
Therefore an increase in the basic wage must lead to some increases in costs to the wool-grower amongst others. But it must not be forgotten that the wage earner has also been exposed to increased costs and we must weigh as best we can the result both to the wool-grower and the wage earner and the nation’s economy of an increase in the basic wage.
I turn now to a Treasury White Paper on national income. I find that in 1949-50 wages and salaries amounted to £1,197,000,000 and in 1960-61 to £3,570,000,000- an increase of 300 per cent. In 1949-50 farm income amounted to £448,000,000 and in 1960-61 to £467,000,000 - an increase of only about £20,000,000.
In its judgment, the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission stated that the cattle industry was enjoying quite prosperous times. But we must remember that more than half of our cattle population is in the north of Australia and is subjected to variable seasonal conditions. Increased costs and the effects of drought have placed the cattle industry in a very serious position. The commission completely disregarded the situation in which the dairy industry found itself. The commission accepted the findings of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry in their entirety, but I do not think anybody else has done so.
I was very heartened to read in a publication that the Minister for Labour and National Service himself had some misgivings about the proposal to increase the basic wage each year in accordance with the rise in the consumer price index. In my opinion, the consumer price index is a false indicator. Increases in the price of food constitute the greatest factor in any increase in the consumer price index. Unfortunately, costs incurred by the farmers account for a very small element of the retail prices of various commodities. The greater part of retail prices is attributable to the cost of handling and processing.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I want to return to the Brenner case and to do so without any rancour whatever, and without casting any aspersions on the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) who. in my judgment, has always been a conscientious Minister. I wish to deal with the matter objectively. If this were the first case of its kind, we could dismiss the affair as being an example of official bungling. But it is not the first of such cases. We have had the Gluckman case. There has also been the Russel Ward case, in which the Department of Immigration was not involved but in which the security service certainly was involved.
We are now finding that in this country we have secret trials in which the evidence consists entirely of a security report, in which the jury consists of departmental officers, and in which the judge is some politician. Unfortunately, it is becoming a part of our way of life. The Minister for Immigration has stated that Brenner was not barred because he was a member of the Stern Gang or because he unsuccessfully applied for membership of the Communist Party but, to use the Minister’s words, “Because my reasons were so great that any Minister with a sense of responsibility to the interests of his country could not have given him a vis6”.
Let me now quote a passage from the editorial in the Sydney “Mirror” of 28th September. It reads -
If our Minister for Immigration chooses to make an ass of himself that is his affair. When he makes an ass of his country it becomes the business of all Australians.
The whole Gestapo-like system screams for overhaul.
Everybody must agree that that is so. Of all papers, “ Muster “, which the Australian Country Party regards as its Bible, said -
There is no reason on earth - democratic earth, anyhow - why, if a person treated as Mr. Brenner and others have been treated should demand it, and be prepared to accept any of the possible consequences of publication, the nature of the charges made against him should not be made known. If, then, he still claimed that he was being unjustly treated, he should be able to appeal to an independent tribunal - preferably including a judge - empowered to call witnesses and hear evidence either in public or in closed court, as it might consider the national interest should dictate, and to give a decision.
Actually, Mr. Brenner has made an appeal. He has made a despairing appeal to the Minister. He has asked the Minister to make public the allegations which the security service has made against him.
I now wish to quote exactly what Mr. Brenner has said, as reported in the Sydney “ Sun “ of to-day’s date. The report reads - “ I do not care what they say about me, or how much my name is scorned because of it,” he declared. “ Until I know what I am accused of having done, it is impossible for me to refute the Australian Government’s suspicions,” he said.
He claimed in London last night that Mr. Downer could only be acting on incorrect information. “ Surely it is only justice that I be given the chance to clear my name,” he exclaimed. “ After a statement like that, people must imagine I have done the most terrible things. “Yet I am being given no chance to defend myself.”
Here is a man who is pleading for the Minister to make public whatever the charges against him are, and who is saying at the same time, “ I will take all the consequences that might fall upon my head of any revelations which may be made “.
I am not accusing the Minister for Immigration of having acted dishonestly. I commenced my speech by saying that, to my knowledge, he has always been a conscientious Minister. And I am sure that on this occasion he has acted conscientiously, having regard to the security report that he has in front of him. I have no doubt whatever that he has a security report before him. It may be that the security report is true; no one knows. It may be so grave as to justify the decision of the Minister. But the Minister has no way of checking the accuracy of the report - absolutely none whatever. He would do well to refer to an editorial which appears in the Sydney “ Sun “ and which reads -
The biggest of all the question marks on the Brenner case is: Have British Home Secretary (Mr. Butler) and the famous intelligence service MI5 been guilty of criminal negligence in letting this suspect man live, study - and teach - in London all this time?
There is a very pertinent question which is put to the Minister. Has the British Government been guilty of criminal negligence? Has our wonderful security service been able to discover something that nobody else has been able to discover? It would seem that that is so.
I believe that, unfortunately, we have reached the stage where the very name of the secret police in Australia is becoming hated by members of the Public Service in particular, and in general by a tremendous number of decent private citizens, who are beginning to suspect that their careers, their futures, are being blighted by secret reports that can never be tested in the daylight of a judicial inquiry. Take the case of Miss
Dowd, which the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) brought to the notice of the Parliament some time ago. This woman’s career was completely destroyed. We recall some of the other reports which we have heard about security men who sit behind bushes with cameras and take photographs of people as they-
– Order! The security service as such does not come within the group of estimates that the committee is now considering. The only aspect of the security service that may be dealt with at this stage is its relation to immigration. Any general discussion of the service without relation to immigration would not be in order during the consideration of this group of estimates.
– Earlier today, I asked the Minister for Immigration why the Department of Immigration had prevented Mr. Brenner from coming to this country. I asked the Minister to make the security reports available. He replied that he would not do that, because it would have the effect of destroying the security service. He added that, if I pressed the request, my action would indicate that I wished to destroy the security service. Mr. Chairman, if that service is so tightly linked with the Department of Immigration that the department cannot function without referring to it, one is entitled, I say, to ask the department to disregard completely security reports of the kind on which it has acted in the past. One has to give reasons for asking a department to disregard the security service. I say that it is about time the Minister, and all the other Ministers in this Government, for that matter, freed themselves from this soul-destroying yoke which the security service places upon ‘them.
I believe that there ought to be an appeals tribunal, as there is in Britain, to hear the cases of people who want to come to this country but are refused entry by the immigration authorities. This would afford people who are accused falsely, or even correctly, of being a danger to the security of Australia an opportunity to have their position tested by a judicial inquiry. In England, a person is informed of the fact that something is held against him, and he is given an opportunity to state his case. This kind of procedure, I believe, would enable us to segregate the mean and miserable pimps and perjurers from the many decent men in the security service who are dedicated to the task of preserving the security of this nation, and who, as a consequence of the actions of other security officials, bear the stigma that is cast on the whole of the service. As the honorable member for East Sydney said, nobody objects to a security service that is bent on safeguarding our security as a nation, but we will not tolerate a security service which merely for party political purposes, reports to the Department of Immigration against people who seek naturalization and people who seek entry to this country. The security service must not be allowed to remain a political police service. It has to be cleaned up; otherwise, the people of Australia will refuse to tolerate it.
– Order! The honorable member is again getting a little wide of the matters embraced by the group of estimates now before the committee.
– I want to deal now, Sir, with applications for naturalization. When naturalization is refused on security grounds, the only recourse open to an applicant is to go to his member of Parliament for help. He cannot test in any way the veracity of the reports that debar him from becoming an Australian citizen, as an applicant for citizenship in some other more enlightened countries can do. In Australia, the applicant can go only to his member of Parliament. However, when a member raises a matter such as this in this Parliament or writes a letter seeking information about a case, ordinarily he is told that no information can be given except that naturalization has been refused on the basis of a positive security report.
I do not want to let pass the opportunity to pay a tribute, not only to the Minister, but also to Sir Tasman Heyes. Time and time again, they have been forced into the invidious position - it is a terribly invidious position - of having to choose between a security report placed before them which states that a man should not be allowed into this country and the representations made by responsible members of Parliament to the effect that the applicant is a sound citizen who ought to be naturalized or is a person who ought to be allowed into this country, as the case may be. Members of the Liberal Party of Australia, as well as members of the Australian Labour Party, have asked the Minister to make the invidious choice between a security report submitted by a faceless informer and the representations made by a member of this Parliament. I have often made representations to the Minister and personally vouched for the decency of a particular applicant for naturalization. The Minister, to his eternal credit, has been prepared time and time again to choose in favour of the representations made by a responsible elected member of the Parliament. But the choice is an invidious one that he should never be called on to make. He should never be put in the position of having to choose between security reports of this kind and the representations of a member of Parliament.
This sort of thing must be stopped, Sir. Let us remember that, to-day, the radicals and the non-conformists may, for certain political reasons, be denied naturalization or admission to Australia, and to-morrow, the conservatives and the tories may suffer. I believe that political considerations ought not to be held against the person who seeks naturalization. If an applicant for naturalization has obeyed the laws of this country and lived a decent life as a law-abiding citizen, he ought not to be refused the right to become an Australian in the full sense of the word. If he is not a law-abiding citizen and if there are real grounds for believing that he is a danger to the security of the nation, he ought to be deported. The matter is as simple as that. I believe that that is exactly the way in which we have to look at it.
You, Mr. Chairman, have intimated that I must not discuss the security service in the ordinary sense, but perhaps you will permit me to conclude by referring to applications for naturalization which are refused on the ground that the applicants, evidently, have communistic tendencies. How can we claim that we are fighting the evils of communism if we adopt all the methods which communism uses against its opponents? If we adopt those methods, we betray, to the extent to which we succeed, the very principles that distinguish a real democracy from totalitarianism, and, in the end. our system becomes in fact identical with that of the enemy that we set out to defeat. Consequently, the fight is lost. I hope, Mr. Chairman, that the day will come when the Government will realize - the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is one who will have to consider this eventually - that activities of this kind have to stop if this country is to remain a true democracy and if we are to be able to say that our system is really different from the totalitarianism of both Communist and fascist countries.
Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) have returned to the task to which they dedicate themselves - the task of undermining in this Parliament Australia’s security service. Let us look at the matter dispassionately. Either we have completely open immigration or else we have a system of admission on vises under the control of a responsible Minister. I think that all of us, if this were a perfect world, would like to see vises issued quite freely to all except persons who were unacceptable in this country under our immigration laws, perhaps because of a criminal record or something of the kind. We all would let every one else in. But, as I pointed out last evening, this is not a perfect world at the present time. We know that we have a cold war on our hands. We have seen examples throughout the free world of the way in which the agents of foreign powers have completely undermined and destroyed the defences of some countries. Let all honorable members consider the examples. I need only remind the committee of Blake, who was recently sentenced in England to 42 years’ imprisonment. He did tremendous damage to the security and the defence power of the United Kingdom.
– He wrecked them.
– He wrecked the defence power of the United Kingdom. Wc all recall the cases of Fuchs, Pontecorvo, Alan Nunn May, Maclean and Burgess. In Washington at present, the case of an American who was a United States consul in Poland, and who was found guilty of giving away United States secrets, is being considered. In circumstances like these, can we say, “We do not want security at all “? The honorable member for East Sydney said: “ The security service was established only to concern itself with national security. We do not want it to concern itself with individuals.” But national security, of course, depends on the individual, and if you have undesirable persons coming in, national security can be undermined. At one moment we are castigated for laxness in allowing people to come in who are not properly scrutinized; the next moment we are told that we should not use the security service. Occasionally cases of this nature will crop up, and we must get used to the idea that there will be cases when the Minister, whom the honorable member for Hindmarsh has described as a particularly conscientious Minister, will not disclose the reasons for his decisions. There must be cases in which he will decide on security grounds that he will not issue a vise. Unless the Minister is allowed to do this, we may as well disband the whole of our security service and save time and money. Of course, that is what honorable members opposite would like to see happen.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh suggested that we should have an independent tribunal. Could such a tribunal possibly operate? I ask honorable members to consider the matter and see whether it would be possible to use an independent tribunal. As I mentioned last night, as soon as you have a tribunal you must disclose your sources of information. Then those sources will dry up. How will you get your evidence? There may be necessary witnesses who are in Poland or Russia. How would you get them to testify? In many cases the applicant would not be able to appear before the tribunal, and in those circumstances, T presume, he would have to make a statement on oath and forward it from, perhaps, 12,000 miles away, to the Australian Government. How would he know what to say in his statement? He would not know the reason for the rejection of his application.
A tribunal of this kind would never have the full facts at its disposal. What difference does it make, really, to the person concerned, whether he is rejected by a tribunal or by some other authority? In actual fact, there is a tribunal, or what amounts to a tribunal, operating al the present moment. Although the final decision is left to the Minister, he must make his decision after consultation with the security service and the head of his department and after conscientious and sincere consideration of all the facts.
Let me illustrate the inconsistency of the honorable member for East Sydney. While claiming to-night that this man Brenner should be allowed to come to Australia, he referred to what has happened recently in Melbourne. He said that a person was to be deported, but that the Minister had decided not to deport him. solely on the word of one judge, as the honorable member put it. Well, it was a very compelling word, because the judge in question was Mr. Justice Sholl, who said there was a grave doubt whether the person was actually guilty or not. Yet the honorable member for East Sydney castigated the Minister for giving the person concerned the benefit of this grave doubt. This shows the complete inconsistency of the honorable member.
This suggested independent tribunal would have to sit in camera. It could not disclose the evidence given before it. If it did so, as my colleague from Moreton (Mr. Killen) has said, attempts could be made to have so many cases brought before it that every source of information would be dried up. There would be no opportunity for cross-examination. How could you cross-examine a witness when the applicant was 12,000 miles away? Such a system has never existed in any other country, so why should it be instituted here?
The honorable member for Hindmarsh claimed that there was some set-up of this kind in the United Kingdom. This is completely incorrect. The United Kingdom authorities have never in any circumstances felt obliged to give reasons for decisions of this kind. A similar position exists in the United States of America. Any consul of the United States can refuse to give a vise, and his word is final. There is no appeal. Canada is the only country in which there is an immigration appeal board, but that board does not decide questions concerning applications to come into the country. It is only in the case of a person who is to be deported that there is a right of appeal, and evidence can be given before the board. Behind the iron curtain, of course, there is no right of appeal. 1 remind honorable members of a professor on the staff of the Australian National University at Canberra who was refused permission to go to Communist China. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) was given permission to go there, but the professor was not, and he had no right of appeal.
I would like to mention just one or two more matters that have come up in this discussion. I do not want to use up all my time in talking of this matter, because the Minister has the final say, and 1 believe he is perfectly correct in saying that this man Brenner is not a fit and proper person to come here. The honorable member for East Sydney stated that immigration officials were giving incorrect information to persons applying to come here as immigrants. If the honorable member stopped and thought he would realize that the time which elapses between an intending immigrant applying to come here and his admission to Bonegilla, or some other centre, is not less than four months and usually six months. During that time there can be a considerable alteration in economic conditions. In this case immigrants were told that at a certain time last year employment opportunities were very good, and that there was no reason to doubt that they would get a job shortly after coming here. Those immigrants made all the necessary arrangements to come here, but they arrived during the temporary recession, which already has shown signs of very considerable improvement. Naturally they were upset and disappointed. Don’t tell me, however, that the Department of Immigration gave them incorrect information. When the economic position changes in Australia, the immigration authorities overseas are told immediately, and they must then tell people applying to come here that the situation has changed.
Let me also refer to a matter mentioned by the honorable member for Barton (Mi. Reynolds). The honorable member said that a large number of English immigrants who came here were unable to obtain work and returned to England. The latest figures available to the department show that this is quite incorrect. Naturally there are many immigrants who will return to England, but the latest available statistics show that only about 6 or 7 per cent, of English immigrants return to that country. Of immigrants from European countries other than the United Kingdom, only about 2 to 3 per cent, return. Not all of the English immigrants return because they cannot get suitable work. Some return for domestic reasons. There is no reason why people should not return. One of my own forebears came to this country, lived here for some time and amassed what he thought was a sufficient amount to allow him to return to Scotland and live there for the rest of his life. He went hack to Scotland, stayed one year, and then, I am glad to say, came back to Australia. This is the kind of thing that is happening with many English immigrants. Of the 6 or 7 per cent, of immigrants from the United Kingdom who return, there must be a small percentage who come back to Australia.
– Fifty per cent, of them return.
– I am glad to have that information. A large number of them return to Australia because they have been here and they know the conditions that exist. I apologize to honorable members for detaining them at this late hour. There were several other comments that I wanted to make about immigration, but my time is running short.
I conclude by paying a tribute to the head of the Immigration Department, Sir Tasman Heyes. He has sat here for many years and has listened to debates on immigration. Unfortunately for us and for the nation, this is the last occasion on which he will be sitting here in an official capacity listening to the debate on the estimates for his department. Sir Tasman has been a great empire-builder in immigration. He has served very well under both the Australian Labour Party and the Liberal and Australian Country Parties. He leaves a memorial in immigration, which will always be associated with his name. Immigration is the greatest single developmental project that has been undertaken in Australia for a very long time. We must realize that our strength as a nation depends on the numbers of people we have, as well as on their calibre, their skill and their ability. Sir Tasman has helped to increase those numbers until to-day we are a nation of sizeable proportions and one to be reckoned with.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Sir Garfield Barwick) read a first time.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Sir Garfield Barwick) read a first time.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Sir Garfield Barwick) read a first time.
House adjourned at 12.49 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Details of the amount of time devoted by the national and commercial television stations to drama and of the amount of time in this programme category devoted respectively to imported programmes and programmes of Australian origin since the inception of television can only be secured from the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the licensees of commercial stations. I am not sure that the records which would extend over a period of five years are now available and I would not think it reasonable to ask the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the commercial stations to make such extensive researches as would be necessary to survey the whole field. There are some current statistics on this aspect of television programmes in the thirteenth annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30th June, 1961, which I tabled in Parliament on 28th September, 1961, and in earlier reports of the board, to which I invite the honorable member’s attention.
z asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
Was support for the open auction system of wool marketing re-affirmed in evidence presented to the Wool Marketing Committee of Inquiry by several primary producer organizations, including the Australian Wheat-growers and Graziers Council?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The official record of proceedings of the Wool Marketing Committee of Inquiry shows that three federal organizations representing wool-growing interests, as well as many of their constituent bodies, put their views on wool marketing to the committee. Among the federal organizations, spokesmen of the Australian Wool-growers and Graziers Council re-affirmed the council’s decision taken in 1939, viz., that the council is opposed to interference with the fundamental principles of the open auction system of marketing the Australian wool clip, though the institution of a floor price scheme. In contrast, representatives of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation strongly advocated the introduction of a reserve price scheme for wool. The Australian Primary Producers Union stated that its present policy favours the open auction system of wool marketing and is opposed to a reserve price scheme. However, the union would like to see certain modifications in the existing system of selling wool. The State organizations with wool-grower membership which appeared before the committee generally supported the policies adopted by federal organizations with which they are affiliated. An exception was the United Graziers Association of Queensland which in favouring a floor price scheme for wool, was at variance with the policy of the federal organization with which it is affiliated, the Australian Wool-growers and Graziers Council.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 October 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1961/19611005_reps_23_hor33/>.