24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Does the Treasurer share the views expressed by Mr. Prowse, research director of the Australian Bankers Association, that the inflow of overseas capital to Australia is not likely to be maintained if Great Britain joins the European Common Market, on the ground that there will be more incentive for overseas capital interests to invest in Europe than in Australia?
- Mr. Prowse, of course, is very well informed on these matters because of his position as research director of the Australian Bankers Association, but I think that it is too early to come to any conclusion about the likely consequences, so far as capital movements are concerned, of the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Common Market if that entry is finally achieved. However, I have conducted some discussions on this matter with the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom and with our London underwriting firm, and they have both expressed the opinion to me that they do not regard it as likely that Australia will be adversely affected.
While we may have ground for concern in relation to the admission of Australian products either into the United Kingdom or the European Economic Community as a result of Great Britain’s entry into the Common Market, there is some reason for believing that, in the field of capital, Britain’s entry may well work out more favorably for us because no European country has the strength or diversity of international capital organizations that exists in the City of London. I believe that the City of London will become strengthened, if anything, as the main financial centre of the world. If that is so, Australia may well receive through London, as a strengthened international financial centre, further capital investment from European countries where at present we are relatively little known.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. Did the Treasurer, in tabling the report of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation in August, 1961, announce that the Government would bring down amending legislation which would operate retrospectively as from that date? Did the Treasurer subsequently make a further statement, in November, 1961, after the Parliament had gone into recess, to the effect that no amending legislation to taxation laws based on the committee’s report would affect income earned or received in any year before that ending on 30th June, 1963? If he made these two statements, which conflict in a very important aspect, will the Treasurer say whether the original statement had been fully considered before he made it? If so, from what quarter was pressure applied to induce him to decide that action to end tax evasion to the tune of approximately £14,000,000 per annum, to which the Government’s own committee had directed attention, was not to be effective as from August, 1961, and that large-scale tax evaders were to be given nearly two years notice of the Government’s intentions?
– The honorable gentleman has put quite a long and complex question. The first statement which I addressed to the House was based on a discussion that I had had with my own officers in the Treasury and on our view of the possibilities at that time. The second statement was the result of a more detailed consideration in collaboration with the branch headed by the Commissioner of Taxation. If the honorable gentleman has given some study to the report he will appreciate that the matters raised are extremely complex and technical. I confess to having been a little optimistic in my first statement as to when we could bring the conclusions of the Government to this House for determination. In point of fact, a great deal of work has been going on ever since, and I have received, over recent weeks, detailed submissions from the Commissioner of Taxation which will receive the consideration of the Government after they have been suitably analysed. The honorable gentleman makes a suggestion, or throws out an innuendo, that some undue pressure has been brought upon the Government to produce the statements which I have made. That, Sir, is entirely baseless as, I am sure, all members of the House will agree.
– My question to the Minister for Territories concerns the Forster committee’s report on land utilization in the Northern Territory. He will recall that the final conclusion of that report contained the words -
Our inquiry leads to the stark realization that if any worthwhile progress is to be made in the Northern Territory it will have to be sparked off in the immediate future by Government encouragement and assistance.
Has the Government yet given full consideration to this report? If so, has it decided whether it will provide the necessary encouragement and financial assistance recommended by the committee?
– In answer to the honorable member for Fawkner I should say that, not so much the Forster committee itself, as some of those who have read its report, have fallen into the error of assuming that the committee, of its own volition, is sparking off development of the north, whereas the facts are that the committee was appointed by the Government to inform the Government and to show the way to the Government in what should be done. So the sparking-off was on the part of the Government and not on the part of the committee. I know that the mistake has not been made by the committee itself, but I think it is wrong to represent, as some people do, that the Forster committee is urging the Government to do things. The committee is the Government’s own instrumentality appointed to advise what can best be done. The committee’s report covered a very wide field, and it would be difficult for me, in the time available at question time, to answer the honorable member’s question in detail. The committee made a series of recommendations regarding certain research and investigations, and all of those recommendations are being acted upon. In order to supervise the implementation of that section of the report an advisory committee has been appointed, and under its direction research and investigation in a number of fields are now proceeding. Another series of recommendations related to land tenure, and two other major recommendations, have been accepted by the Government and are going to be put into effect by bills to be introduced in the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory in the coming session. They are bills relating to the possibility of converting agricultural land to freehold tenure, and there is a bill regarding a new form of tenure for what might broadly be called garden land. There was another series of recommendations regarding the establishment of pilot farms in order to test out certain agricultural possibilities. That has been accepted in principle and the details are under consideration by the Government. There are other recommendations regarding rural credit, transport and experiments in the use of fertilizers. Broadly speaking, we have accepted the principles behind the Forster committee’s recommendations and in various ways are giving attention to every one of the recommendations.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that there is no waiting time for ex-servicemen wanting to obtain loans to build or purchase newly-built homes? Also, is it a fact that hundreds of others are being fleeced of their earnings by having to pay interest upwards of 12 per cent, flat for special loans to purchase existing homes and are compelled to wait nearly two years? In view of the statement yesterday by the Australian bankers research director that in Australia there was £700,000,000 of unused money, will the Treasurer explain the logic of this sort of treatment, as between servicemen, and will he consider floating a special loan, similar in all respects to the measure now before Parliament, under which it is proposed to borrow £60,000,000 for defence and other purposes, so that all servicemen will receive similar treatment and so that those now being robbed by having to pay excessive interest rates will be safeguarded against usurers?
– To deal fully with the question asked by the honorable member would involve me in the kind of debate which this Parliament has just concluded on the legislation to increase the maximum amount of advance to war service homes applicants. This Government, as is well known, has made a record provision of finance for war service homes applicants on very favorable interest terms - much more favorable than could have been secured from outside financial sources. It is a fact that in order to finance the gap between the advance from the war service homes organization and the actual cost of a house some ex-servicemen have found it necessary to pay what we would all regard as exorbitant rates of interest. That has been one of the subjects of discussion between the trading banks and ourselves - that there should be more availability of medium-term lending at more reasonable rates of interest. I hope that when I make some statement on these matters, as I hope to do shortly, it will be seen that there should be opportunity for better arrangements, at least in this particular section.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. 1 preface it by saying that I have formed the impression lately that various groups within the trade union movement, such as shop committees and area committees, have been acting with excessive zeal in taking action contrary to the policy of the trade union movement. In particular, these groups have been urging their members to break agreements with their employers. It is thought that many of these activities have been inspired for political purposes, probably by the Communists.
– Order! I think the honorable member should terminate his comment and ask his question.
– Does the Minister propose to take this matter up with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and State trades and labour councils in order to find out whether some action should be taken under arbitration legislation?
– I think it is correct to say that at the instigation of what are called shop committees and area committees there have been far too many strikes and breaches of industrial agreements which have been recently negotiated. This practice is contrary to the policy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and is a practice which is condemned by the council. I am certain that the council is well aware of the practice. I am very glad, too, that the honorable gentleman has drawn attention to the problem because I think that rank and file members of the trade union movement must be warned that now that the Communists have failed in some union elections, particularly in the Amalgamated Engineering Union and the Waterside Workers Federation,, they will be trying every method that they can to foment industrial disputes.
– What, again?
– They will. As for what action can be taken, the Australian Council of Trade Unions condemns these practices because it believes in adhering to industrial awards and agreements, particularly when it has participated in the negotiations, and it can be relied on to take whatever action is necessary. As to what else can be done, I think the provisions of the arbitration legislation are sufficient. I hope that the employers will look at the provisions of that legislation and at the provisions of awards in order to see what they can do to stop these breaches of agreement from occurring.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is true that £700,000,000 is available in unused bank overdrafts? Is this the largest amount that has been available in living memory? Are all categories of investment 15 per cent, lower than they were twelve months ago? Will the Treasurer initiate action by providing increased sums for housing, education and local government and so create conditions whereby some of this vast volume of money will become active and help restore the confidence of the community and reduce unemployment?
– I think the House might welcome a little information on this statement that about £700,000,000 of unused drawing capacity exists at the present time. It could be misinterpreted to mean that this is some quite new development whereas, in point of fact, there has always been substantial unused drawing capacity on the books of the banks. One of the lessons that we learned in I960, when there was an unduly rapid increase in advances by the banks, was that up to that time no statistics had been kept of the aggregate of unused overdraft limits. From that time onwards, we have secured those statistics regularly from the trading banks. In October of 1961 the total of undrawn limits was £646,700,000. It has increased to £721,000,000 at the present time, but even as far back as October, 1960, it stood at £633,000,000. So it will be seen that throughout this period there has been a very sizeable total amount of undrawn overdraft capacity.
Coming directly to the issue raised in the honorable member’s question, I point out that normally a bank makes an overdraft limit available on some project or series of projects indicated to it by the borrower. Generally speaking, the existence of the overdraft capacity implies that there will be economic activity related to that overdraft. The existence of this very sizeable provision for overdrafts undoubtedly indicates that there is scope for greater economic activity, and I share the view of Mr. Prowse that economic activity will increase as time goes on.
– By way of preface to a question addressed to the Minister for Territories, I point out that the latest report available on the operations of the Northern Territory discloses that the income from mining was over £6,000,000 last year compared to an income from pastoral activities of about £5,000,000. I ask the Minister whether it is a fact that more than 30 teams of investigators, both government and private, have been, and are now, in the field investigating new finds, including aluminium, gold, silver, iron-ore and even petroleum. Can the Minister give any late information about the progress of these investigations?
– I think the information given to the House by the honorable member is, broadly, correct. If I remember exactly, over the past two years, sixteen major teams sponsored by government agencies have been carrying out mineral investigations in the Northern Territory. In addition, there have been local investigations by regional geological .and mining officers. I think, too, that that there have been about fourteen major teams sponsored by private organizations. As indicated by the honorable member, the major fields of their investigations have covered ironore, bauxite, gold, zinc, silver-lead, tin and copper. In addition, on the governmental side, there have been investigations in connection with uranium. Besides that work on metals, some investigational work has been done in connection with oil. There have been two major governmental investigations in connection with oil in the past two years, and I think there have been fourteen investigations by private enterprise in the field of oil search.
– I ask the Minister for Territories whether it is a fact that the Federal Government is employing as teachers in Papua and New Guinea persons with intermediate certificates who have been given only a six months’ course in teacher training. Are these qualifications substantially below those required of teachers in the various Australian States? If so, will this mean that the Territory teachers will have no opportunity of subsequently transferring to the education services of the States? Finally, will the Federal Government take steps to see that all teachers appointed to Papua and New Guinea have qualifications at least equivalent to those required by the State education departments in Australia, and will the Government establish a teachers’ training college in Canberra for its Territory teachers?
– The question asked by the honorable member follows very closely the lines of a mimeograph circular that has been distributed by the New South Wales Teachers Federation. I received the original of that circular a week or so ago and have already replied at some length to the teachers federation. I shall furnish the honorable member, and any other honorable member who wants it, with a copy of the full reply. The situation broadly is that we have an urgent problem in advancing education among the indigenous people. We have in front of us a prospect of a school population of 750,000 by the expiration of the next ten years. At present, something under 200,000 children are receiving effective education. Attempts to recruit fully trained teachers, or to get education officers for training as teachers, have simply not yielded enough candidates to do what we intend to do with great resolution - organize large groups of qualified native teachers who we can be sure will spread education throughout the Territory. In order to overcome that present blockage, we have deliberately embarked on a policy of recruiting at a lower standard because recruiting at the higher standard just will not furnish us with village teachers.
The people recruited at the intermediate level, having the standard of the intermediate certificate or higher qualifications, are carefully selected, not merely for their basic education qualifications but for other qualifications as well. They are given an intensive course of training as teachers so that they can go out and virtually teach the three R’s - reading, writing and arithmetic - to village children who otherwise would have to be left uneducated. The choice is not between taking skilled teachers and fully trained teachers and refusing to do so. The choice is between recruiting these special people and doing nothing at all.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Supply by directing the Minister’s attention to a report of the Senate Armed Services Committee in the United States of America recently when mention was made of American and Russian developments of nerve gases for use in war. I ask the Minister: Is any work of this kind being done in Australia?
– The scientists of th, Department of Supply laboratories have had some experience in this field of biological warfare, and there is an accumulation of knowledge of it of quite considerable proportions. At the same time, there is close collaboration between the defence scientists in Australia and their opposite numbers in the United States of America.
– My question, which is directed to the Postmaster-General, arises from the Minister’s statement to the House on Tuesday that all applications for initial telephone services of more than one exchange line, or for additional lines in existing services, must be approved by the Superintendent, Commercial Branch, and that postal investigators are at present inquiring into the illegal installation of telephones. I ask the Minister, first, whether the batches of telephones depicted in the Melbourne newspapers were, in fact, approved for installation by the Superintendent, Commercial Branch; and secondly, whether the postal investigators are junior or senior to the officer who approved the installations. I also ask the Minister whether Commonwealth police have been asked to investigate such installations and, if not, why they have not been asked.
– The honorable member for Banks has asked quite a series of questions on matters that I covered in a statement to the House on Tuesday, as he has remarked. I would prefer to treat the question as being on notice, and will give him a considered reply. I may say briefly that the batches of telephones to which he referred are related to an incident that occurred several years ago, and that was cleared up at that time, as the honorable member knows.
– My question to tha Minister for Defence is based on the reply he gave this week to a question about the Singapore base. The Minister said then -
Because the Prime Minister of Singapore and his Ministers said they were not only willing but anxious for the United Kingdom to continue in the Singapore base … it was thought that the Singapore facilities and the bases already existing in Australia were sufficient for the immediate future.
I ask the Minister: In the light of the certainty of uncertainty in the political field, and the possibility, therefore, of a change in the political complexion of the Singapore Government as well as a change of attitude, will the Government again look at the question of establishing a naval base on the Australian coast to provide for the adequate security of Australia in any eventuality, and the establishment of such a base on the Western Australian coast as the logical site?
– I have really nothing to add to what I said last week about the position in Singapore. The question of establishing a base in Western Australia has been thought of many times, and will always be in the forefront of our minds, should the necessity for it arise at any time.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I preface it by referring to the decision of the United Nations last week to demand effective national and international action to end wage discrimination against women and to call for the implementation of the equal pay principle by all governments. Was Australia present at the meeting of the United Nations Status of Women Commission? Was Australia one of only four nations that voted against the full ratification of the International Labour Organization’s convention on equal pay? As all governments were asked by the United Nations commission to implement the principles of the convention, and as an overwhelming majority of the member nations voted for this action, will the Government now take action to implement the policy?
– The honorable gentleman is obviously confused when he asks whether we were present at the conference and then suggests that we voted against the motion before the conference. He obviously knows part of the answer to his question. As to the substance of the question, I think the honorable gentleman must know - if he does not, his Deputy Leader should tell him - that the convention states that any wage changes involved, whether relating to equal pay for work of equal value or otherwise, will be decided in accordance with the normal constitutional and legal practices of the country concerned. That is written into the convention. Our practice is to permit the Arbitration Commission to decide whether the equal pay provisions shall in fact apply. As I frequently have pointed out to the trade union movement, it is open to that movement, should it wish to do so, to make application to the Arbitration Commission for equal pay for women. At a conference I held in Melbourne some time ago, when the representatives of the women’s organizations pointed out that equal pay would probably cost £90,000,000 a year, and when the implications for future basic wage cases was explained, at least one member of the trade union movement expressed his reservation and then left.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General a question relating to the Sydney General Post Office clock tower. By way of explanation may I recall that the tower was dismantled early in World War II. At that time the promise was made that it would be restored after the war. The tower was stored very carefully, every stone being marked, and doubts subsequently expressed about the firmness of the original foundations have been resolved by the Minister’s own officers. I now ask him whether he has proposed that the clock tower might appropriately be re-erected in a Sydney park, the expense being shared between his department and the council of the City of Sydney. I ask him, first, whether he is aware that both in style and proportion, this would be about as ludicrous as a top hat on a toddler. Secondly, is he aware that the chimes, one of the most attractive features of the clock, would at such close quarters drown even the eloquence of speakers in the Sydney Domain? Thirdly, has the response of the Lord Mayor of Sydney to the proposal to share the expense revealed this proliferator of grandiose schemes as a mere parochial Bumble? Finally, will he approach the New South Wales Government with a specific offer to share equally with it the cost of restoring the clock to its true position on the General Post Office and in the hearts of the people of Sydney?
– As the House well knows, the matter that has been raised by the honorable member for Bradfield is one that has been mentioned in this chamber on many occasions. The honorable member for Bradfield has discussed it with me from time to time and has made some very useful suggestions as to the means by which the clock might be restored. Therefore, 1 was not surprised to hear him ask this question to-day. He and several other members have interested themselves in this subject and have made investigations, even to the extent of actually inspecting the clock where it is at present stored.
The honorable member refers to a suggestion which I saw reported in the press a little while ago - that possibly the clock could be re-erected in, I think the Botanical Gardens in Sydney. I am not sure whether the honorable member asked if the suggestion came from me, but I can assure him that it did not. I agree generally with his description of the suggestion. The honorable member says that 1 may be prepared to approach the State Government to ask whether it would pay half the cost of restoring the clock to its old position above the Sydney General Post Office. That is a matter to which I shall be glad to give some attention, but I should not think that any such approach is likely to meet with success.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service, and it is supplementary to the question asked earlier by the honorable member for Bendigo. As the Minister has referred to certain incidents that occurred at the conference which discussed equal pay for the sexes, I ask him whether he is fully aware of the decision that was made on an international level, and whether he will agree that there is an obligation on the Australian Government to apply this principle, as soon as possible, in the territories over which it has full constitutional power and also in respect of its own employees.
– More than one constitutional power is involved in this matter. The Government has said many times that it believes in arbitration. It believes in maintaining the integrity of the arbitration system by letting the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission decide what increases in wages shall be made. That being so, the Government does not think it should initiate any action. If the matter goes to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for decision, we will make up our minds at the time on how the matter should be handled.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Does he not agree that the provision of telephones in the electorate of Bruce is far more important than attempting to gladden the hearts of Sydneysiders by putting a clock on the General Post Office in that city?
– The honorable member for Bruce has expressed in his question one of the reasons which I have given many times in this House for the decision not to restore the General Post Office clock in Sydney. I have not changed my opinion about this matter.
– 1 wish to direct a question to the Treasurer. Has he noted a statement made by a Minister of this Government in another place yesterday which advocated, in the same way that I did in a recent debate in this House, that the statutory reserves of the savings banks be reduced from the present requirement of 70 per cent, so as to release funds for loans for homebuilding and thereby overcome the extreme housing shortage that at present exists? Can the right honorable gentleman, keeping in mind the fact that the Commonwealth loan market to-day is very healthy and that reduction of the statutory reserves by 5 per cent, to 65 per cent, would release funds sufficient for the building of up to 18,000 homes, intimate to the House whether it is the intention of the Government to take action along these lines?
– I have not seen any official report of what has been attributed to my colleague in another place. I did see in a newspaper this morning a report in which it was suggested that he had, in effect, recommended some reduction in the requirement that 70 per cent, of the holdings of the savings banks be in the form of cash or government securities of one kind or another. This requirement that 70 per cent, bc so held is of long standing. For very good reasons, which I think are well known to honorable gentlemen, it has the effect of strengthening support for our own Commonwealth borrowings, and the securities held include those of local government and semi-governmental authorities as well. I can assure the honorable gentleman that the requirement in no way inhibits the savings banks from providing adequate sums for housing at the present time, because, on my information, none of the savings banks is bouncing up against the 70 per cent, minimum requirement. Indeed, to the best of my knowledge - I sought this information quite recently - their reserves in the form of cash and government securities constitute more than 80 per cent, of their holdings. So, if they wish to make more funds available for housing, there is plenty of scope for them to do so. The House will be aware that this Government has been active in recommending to the savings banks that they make greater provision from their resources for lending for housing.
– I wish to direct to the Minister for Primary Industry a question concerning the flour-milling industry. As the Minister is no doubt aware, the future of this industry is threatened. I cannot speak for the other States, but particularly in Victoria the industry provides essential employment in many country centres. I ask: Will the Minister confer with the Minister for Trade and other appropriate authorities with a view to working out some method by which the industry can continue on a satisfactory basis?
– The selling price of the wheat which the flour-milling industry buys is really in the hands of the Australian Wheat Board, which gives the industry concessional advantages. I do not know whether there is any further aspect of the matter that I can investigate, but I shall examine the honorable member’s question and discuss it with the Minister for Trade if that is necessary.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. I ask: Is it a fact that, as a result of a greatly increased amount of business being transacted by the Department of Social Services and the Repatriation Department by sending cheques direct to recipients of benefits, there has been a serious decline in the number of items handled at post offices? Is it a fact, also, that in consequence of this, non-official postmasters now suffer, and will suffer even more in future, a reduction of their income as a result of the fall in the unit value of the offices? Is there a strong possibility that quite a number of nonofficial postmasters will be forced to relinquish their activities for the Postal Department? Should this happen, and as it is unlikely that any great amount of interest would be taken by other members of the public in a non-profitable business, is it probable that a number of areas, particularly in the country, will be without Post Office facilities? Finally, will the Minister consider an increased rate of payment for unit values so that non-official postmasters will not suffer a financial loss as a result of the existing conditions?
– Obviously it would be foolish to attempt to answer such an involved and lengthy question at short notice. Therefore, I will treat the question as being on the notice-paper, and will later give the honorable member a complete reply.
– by leave - I should like to give to the House more accurate and up-to-date figures relating to investment in the search for oil in Australia than I was able to give yesterday when replying to a question. I have since taken the opportunity to check the figures with my colleague, the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), and I find that as at 31st December, 1961, the total expenditure on the search for oil in Australia was estimated to be £81,000,000, of which Australian investors provided £20,000,000, the Commonwealth Government £7,000,000 and overseas investors £54,000,000.
Motion (by Mr. Calwell) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to remove the disabilities imposed on the member of the House of Representatives representing the Northern Territory.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
.- by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The history of Northern Territory representation is not a very happy one. The Territory came under the control of the Commonwealth about 50 years ago when it was ceded to the Commonwealth by agreement with the South Australian Parliament. According to the Government of South Australia the terms of the agreement have not been honored in all respects. Among the terms was the provision that a railway should be built from, I think, Oodnadatta to Darwin. Certain other things were to be done as well. However, that is a matter outside the ambit of this discussion.
For eleven years after the Northern Territory became part of the Commonwealth it had no representation in this Parliament, but in 1922 the Parliament passed an act giving the Territory one representative in this chamber. At that time only 1,376 Australians were on the roll in the Territory, When the Territory was ceded to the Commonwealth by South Australia it had two members with full voting rights in the South Australian Parliament representing the 1,376 electors. As I have said, for eleven years the people of the Territory had no representation, but there were then a number of very serious disturbances and demonstrations in the course of which the then Chief Justice and the Acting Administrator, together with a number of other people, were deported. The Government of the day heeded the demands of the people and a representative with very limited voting rights was allowed to sit in this chamber. The present member’s voting rights are almost as limited to-day as they were when the first member was elected in 1922. By one of those strange acts of fate, the first member was the father of the present member.
As I have said, in 1922 there were 1,376 persons on the roll. By 1961 the number had grown to 12,284. To-day the total population of the Northern Territory, excluding full-blooded aborigines, is 27,095. The number of persons at present on the electoral roll will be increased very shortly following the passage of an electoral bill, which we shall discuss during this session, to give votes to aborigines. According to the 1961 census there are 15,448 full-blooded aborigines in the Northern Territory. I do not know the number of adults who are entitled to be enrolled nor do I know the number of nomads who will not enrol.
– The Administration’s figure is more than 17,000.
– Then 17,000 is the present figure. If I may digress for a moment, it is remarkable that the aboriginal population of the Northern Territory and Western Australia is increasing at a far greater rate than is the white population.
In any case, the aboriginal content of the population will increase more rapidly with the passing of the years than we at first imagined, and particularly so since we first discussed the question of giving aborigines a vote. The number of people who will be on the electoral roll for the Northern Territory when the next poll takes place at the end of this year, next year, or whenever it may be, could be of the order of 20,000; That is a great number of people and is at least one-half the number of electors of a Tasmanian electorate.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) is entitled to vote on ordinances and one or two other matters affecting the Northern Territory. He is not entitled to vote for the election of a Speaker or of a Chairman of Committees, nor can he act as a teller in divisions. The only right he has is to vote on matters affecting the Northern Territory. For instance, he is entitled to vote on this bill. We believe that he should be entitled to full voting rights.
The case for the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) being entitled to full voting rights is very much stronger than is the case of the honorable member for the Northern Territory because of the greater number of electors in the Australian Capital Territory. Another bill standing in my name deals with that matter and it will be discussed later.
– Could he be elected as Speaker?
– i do not know whether he could be elected as Speaker. That has not been decided yet. Probably he could not be elected as Speaker. But when we consider the number of persons who constituted the full voting membership of electorates at the time of federation it is somewhat paradoxical that the member for the Northern Territory, which has 12,284 people on the roll, cannot get a vote in this House. In 1901, to take two New South Wales electorates, the Barrier, as it was then called, had 10,290 electors on the roll, and Darling had 8,930. Two Queensland electorates - Kennedy with 9,597, and Maranoa with 8,728- are similar examples.
– How many did the Northern Territory have on the roll then?
– The Territory in those days had perhaps only a few hundred. It had only 1,300 in 1922 and all through the 1930’s.
– And it was formerly part of South Australia.
– Yes, until 1910. But the population of the Territory has grown by 6,000 in the past three years, and there are nine times as many people there now as there were in 1922, when a member for the Northern Territory was first admitted to this House. The people of the Territory are very dissatisfied because after 39 years nothing has been done to give them more than that limited representation that I have been talking about, despite all the progress and development that has taken place. In 1910- indeed, until the outbreak of World War II. - the Northern Territory was not a very inviting part of Australia. It was not a very well populated part of Australia. During World War II. its development began to take place, and because of that war it got a stretch of road which it probably would not have even now had there been no war. It has 900 miles of road, which is among the best in Australia, and which is maintained as a defence road. That road has helped development. The discovery of various minerals like uranium and copper and gold, from Tennant Creek up to Darwin, has added to the population of the district and has created a lot of wealth in the district. The work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and its scientists has helped the cattle industry and also has brought population to the area.
– What about the defence potential?
– Of course, the defence potential is very great, and neglect of it is very serious. Bitter experience has proved the value of the territory from tha defence point of view, and more should be done for its development and defence. But that is not the point just at this moment. The question is whether the member for the Northern Territory is entitled at this stage to the same rights and privileges in this House as is every other member who represents an area of Australia with a big section of the Australian people as his electors.
– The question of human rights comes into it too.
– Yes, and we say that the people of the Northern Territory have as much right to be represented here as people in every other part of Australia have. There is a Legislative Council in the Northern Territory which was established by the Chifley Labour Government. That Legislative Council, too, has limited powers. We did not give them the fullest powers and they want more power than they have. A deputation from that council came to Canberra, ?nd among the Ministers whom they interviewed was the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). They interviewed him on the question of increased representation in this Parliament, and the answer that he gave was an extraordinary and naive one. It was that, if the member for the Northern Territory got a vote, he might hold the balance of power in the Parliament.
– What of that?
– What of that? The member for the Northern Territory might hold the balance of power. I suppose that what was operating in the Treasurer’s mind was that although the Northern Territory has a representative in this chamber it has no representation in the Senate, and that therefore the member for the Northern Territory - representing an area that has no Senate representation - should not have a vote here. But that, of course, is no argument at all, in our view. Senate representation is an unequal one anyhow. Tasmania has 350,000 people and is represented by ten senators. New South Wales has 4,000,000 people and it has only ten senators to represent it. So there is unequal representation on a population basis. The Constitution provides for equal representation in the Senate for each State, but we are concerned not with representation in the Senate at the moment, but with the representation of the residents of the Northern Territory in the Parliament.
The people of the Northern Territory have to pay the same income tax as every other person in Australia. They have to pay more in sales tax than other people in Australia, because goods have to be carried long distances and at far greater cost.
– And they have to live according to every law that we make.
– Yes, they have to obey every law, as the honorable member for Bonython says, that is made by this Parliament - every single law. They certainly get a zone allowance for taxation purposes, but it does not compensate for the disabilities of living in that frontier part of this great continent and in that most vulnerable and, unfortunately, that most defenceless part of Australia to-day.
The people of the Northern Territory, through their Legislative Council representatives and at public meetings, and through their representative in this chamber, have for many years been demanding that their member shall have equal rights with every other member of this Parliament, and we think it is time that a change was made. Had we become the Government as the result of the general election on 9th December - if the Communists had not kept us out of Moreton and the splinter group had not kept us out of Maribrynong - we would have been on the Government benches to-day and the member for the Northern Territory would have got his vote, and the member for the Australian Capital Territory would have got his vote too. But these things should not depend on the vagaries of electoral chance. The issues should be decided in accordance with the principles of electoral justice. There is no argument that could possibly be advanced in 1962 against giving the member for the Northern Territory full rights in this chamber, and I present this bill accordingly with very great pleasure. I hope it will be passed.
– The proposition contained in this bill is certainly not novel. In fact, it was before this Parliament as recently as 1959, and this House and another place joined in making a decision on the issue which is now presented to us. The only thing which is novel is that the proposition should have been brought forward in this particular manner and at this particular time, as a private member’s bill. Of course, facing that sort of novelty - and it is rather unusual - one is entitled to ask what prompted the Leader of the Opposition and his party to choose this method of raising the matter and to raise it at this particular time.
– It has been raised before.
– That is what I am trying to explain to honorable members opposite - that this matter has not only been raised before but has been raised very recently in this Parliament and has been decided very recently by this Parliament. I should like to take the House over the history of the matter. I think that the recent history of it begins with the appointment in 1957 of a select committee of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory to inquire into the necessity or otherwise for constitutional reform in the Northern Territory. As I have said on previous occasions, the appointment of that select committee by the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory was to some extent at least the result of a prompting which came from myself as Minister for Territories. I thought that the appropriate way in which the residents of the Northern Territory could advance their case for constitutional reform and bring it under the notice of the Government and this Parliament was to appoint a select committee of their own Legislative Council to make an inquiry and to formulate their conclusions. That select committee of the Legislative Council, which prosecuted its studies under the chairmanship of Mr. R. J. Withnall, M.L.C., drew up a report which was presented to the first session of the sixth Council in 1957. The report contained many recommendations, some of which have been put into effect. One of them concerned both the representation of the Northern Territory in the Senate and the voting rights of the member for the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives.
So that I can deal fairly with the claims of the Territory, I will read a brief paragraph from the select committee’s report on this point. It said -
Your Committee finds that at present the Northern Territory depends for its administration upon a Federal executive which is responsible to Parliamentary Institutions in which the Territory has no effective representation. That the Federal Executive discharges its responsibility to the Territory not capriciously but upon considerations of principle is not to the point. For no community can be secure in its Government when it is bereft, as the people of the Northern Territory are, of all political power. Were either Federal House responsible to the people of the Northern Territory, even if only to the extent of one voting member, your Committee considers that a safeguard would have been established against arbitrary or capricious execution by the Federal body of the responsibilities of government of the Northern Territory.
I think that passage, stated very succinctly and in a cogent way, represents the substantial case put forward by residents of the Northern Territory for the giving of full voting rights to the member for the Northern Territory in this Parliament. I have stated their side of the case as best I can.
Then, as honorable members know, the presentation of this report by the select committee of 1957 was followed by a conference arranged between the Government and the full membership of the Northern Territory Legislative Council. That conference was held in Canberra in July, 1958. The Commonwealth Government of the day was represented by my colleague, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), who was then holding a different portfolio but was included in the delegation in his capacity as Leader of the House, the then AttorneyGeneral, Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan, and myself as Minister for Territories. The Northern Territory was represented by the full membership of the Legislative Council. One of the first items taken up by that conference was the request for full voting rights for the member for the Northern Territory. In the course of his speech the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) made some passing allusion to the arguments put forward to that conference by my colleage, the Treasurer. I think that in justice to him I should set them on record from the transcript of the proceedings. One of the arguments which my colleague used in presenting the case on behalf of the Government to the legislative councillors was -
The people of the Northern Territory may not have the right to vote on these matters-
He was pointing out that the people of the Northern Territory might not yet have secured the right of their member to vote on these matters - but they have the right to express their views on them. That, in its essence, is really more important than the recording of a vote on purely party lines, as so frequently happens in Parliament.
I interrupt the quotation there in order to suggest for the consideration of members-
– What is the source of that quotation?
– It is a quotation from a statement made by the Treasurer to the conference between the Government and the members of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory in July, 1958. Behind bis thinking was this: If a member from the Northern Territory is elected along party lines, no matter whether he is a member of the Labour Party, the Liberal Party or the Country Party, and if he is subject to strict party discipline - and I say without offence that party discipline is much stricter on the Labour side than on the Liberal side and because of that the possibility of individual choice and action by a Labour member is so much less - the Northern Territory is getting a member who is not necessarily free to vote solely out of consideration for the interests of the Territory, any more than any other member on the Labour side can be free to vote solely out of consideration for interests which arise in his own electorate. He is bound - and I do not quarrel with the rules of the Labour Party, because that is the party’s own business - to vote according to the party decision. So do not let us push too far the idea that a member from the Northern Territory having a full vote in this House acquires for the people of the Northern Territory the right to express views and to vote solely out of consideration for Northern Territory interests. The operation of the party system is such that they have secured a member who is bound to vote out of consideration for party interests arrived at as the result of discussions in the party room. I continue, from that digression-
– When did a Liberal member last vote against his party?
– I was not referring to a member from any particular party.
– You raised the matter purely as regards the Labour Party.
– That was because the present member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) is a Labour member, but I think the same consideration would arise if he were a Liberal member. I think honorable members will concede, as one member on the Opposition side has already conceded by interjection, that party discipline is not as rigid on the Liberal side as on the Labour side. I have no quarrel with that. We have the right to manage our own business and the Opposition has the right to manage its business and to make its own rules. I am not trying to single out a Labour member for the Northern Territory as distinct from a Liberal member but am trying to show the implication of what my colleague said on a previous occasion - the simple point that voting rights for the member for the Northern Territory will not necessarily mean that on every occasion his vote will be exercised solely out of consideration for Northern Territory interests. It is a vote under the party system, which will be exercised out of consideration for the interests of the party to which the elected member belongs. That is true enough of all electorates. It would be no less true of the Northern Territory than of any other constituency.
The point I am making is that it would be quite possible for a member from the Northern Territory, whether Labour or Liberal, to bend his full energies in the party room to try to ensure that the party decision was one which took account of Northern Territory interests, but when it comes to a vote in the House, Northern Territory interests alone will not prevail so long as he remains a loyal and disciplined member of his party. Because of that I would suggest for the consideration of people in the Northern Territory that the effective power of their representative is not merely to be found in his power to exercise a full vote in this House. It is partly to be found in his opportunity to express in this House his views and to put forward the interests of the Northern Territory and, perhaps even more importantly under the present political situation, in his own party room - whichever that party may be - to ensure through his own activities that his party makes no decision which does not take into account all the interests of the Northern Territory. That would be true of both sides of the House.
– They might decide to elect an independent as they did when Mr. Lamb was a member.
– I wanted to come to that question because it is the next stage. After that digression, I return to the quotation from what the Treasurer said to the constitutional conference. He said -
I think, somewhere along the line, that you have to face up to the issue of whether the Territory, with its very limited number of voters, is to return a party candidate or is to return a Territory candidate. If you return a party candidate, you cannot reasonably justify giving that party vote a value out of all proportion to the number of people supporting it.
I would like to amplify in my own words the point that is made there. Perhaps I can come back to the basic principle. The electoral representation of various parts of Australia is determined by this Parliament. The Constitution confides to this Parliament the responsibility of deciding the details of electoral representation, subject to certain limitations. From the beginning of federation, this Parliament has accepted the principle, which is different to the principle applied in some of the State legislatures, that, as nearly as possible, voting power in the various constituencies should be equal. The impending redistribution of electoral boundaries has made us acutely aware of the principles which must govern the size and the shape of federal electorates throughout Australia.
That principle is that, as nearly as possible, equal weight should be given to the votes of all the people throughout Australia. In some State legislatures there are electoral laws which make it possible to weight a remote seat. In my own State of Western Australia it “is possible for a seat in the far north to have less than half the number of voters of a metropolitan seat. It is possible for a country or a mining electorate to have far fewer voters than a metropolitan electorate. But, under the Commonwealth system, we have adopted and consistently apply this principle of making constituencies as nearly as possible the same’ size numerically, and so of giving each individual voter, as nearly as possible, the same influence in determining the affairs of the nation.
– What about the Tasmanian electorates?
– Tasmania was one of the original federating States and because its population was much less than that of the other States it was provided that it should have the same number of senators as the other States and that its representation in the House of Representatives should not sink below five. That was part of the compact under which Tasmania was brought in to the federation and I doubt whether any loyal Tasmanian would have agreed to come in without such a compact.
– Tasmanian electorates are still below the quota.
– Tasmanian electorates are still smaller in voting strength than seme mainland electorates although not so much smaller than mainland electorates as would be the proposed Northern Territory electorate.
– Would you agree to the Northern Territory member having a vote if there were as many electors in the Northern Territory as there are in the average Tasmanian electoral division?
– Speaking personally, my main objection would certainly disappear if the number of voters in the Northern Territory broadly corresponded to the number of voters in the average Australian electorate.
– Would you include aborigines among the eligible electors?
– Assuming that we get the co-operation of the Opposition in passing certain legislation which is now before this Parliament, the aborigines in the Northern Territory will be as qualified to vote as other adult residents and will, of course, have to be counted as electors. Presently, I shall come to the actual figures for potential enrolments in the Northern Territory.
– Does the Minister realize that the Tasmanian electorates are numerically larger than Kalgoorlie, Scullin or Melbourne?
– That interjection rather gives support to my general thesis. The argument which was being developed by interjection from the Opposition, especially from the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), was that in the case of Tasmania we had recognized the right of one part of Australia to have smaller electorates than elsewhere. The general tendency of the argument was that because we permitted little electorates in Tasmania we should permit a little electorate in the Northern Territory. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) has provided an additional answer to that argument by saying that, in fact, the Tasmanian electorates are not little electorates. I accept his help, even if it was not intentionally given.
I return to the conference between the Government and the Northern Territory legislative councillors. As the transcript shows, the main argument produced by my colleagues and by myself at that conference was this: It will be difficult to obtain acceptance by a government of any political complexion of the idea that a member elected by an electorate much smaller numerically than other electorates should be able to decide the fate of governments. I should like to quote again from the remarks of the Treasurer. Perhaps there is a little irony in recalling this quotation at this time. It will be remembered that when this conference took place the present Government enjoyed a very sizeable majority and we talked with the confidence of a large majority. Speaking under those circumstances, the Treasurer said -
I think it was before your time, Mr. Chairman, but as one of the veterans here I can recall quite vividly a situation in which there was an evenly divided Parliament. It was not so very long ago- I think after the election of 1940. We had 36 on each side and there were two independents. Both of these had been elected as government supporters - with the Government parties’ organization behind them and so on. However, we were in a situation where one vote made the difference between government and no government . . .
I think that members of the Parliament who recall that kind of situation would not be easily convinced that a member elected on a comparatively small vote in the Northern Territory should be able to determine the fate of the government of the day. That is one point that I think we need to chew over.
Although it was not clearly foreseen by my colleague or myself or any one else at that time that the 1940 situation would recur, his remarks regarding that situation have a direct and immediate application to the situation of this Parliament in 1962. No less in 1940 than in 1962 could any government, regardless of its politics, cheerfully contemplate a position in which a person elected for a constituency much smaller than a normal constituency could, by his support of one party as a party member, decide the fate of the government of Australia. Nor could any government contemplate a position in which a person elected for a constituency smaller than the normal constituency, by the exercise of his independence and just following the dictates of his conscience, could decide, on behalf of the rest of the 10,000,000 people in Australia, what government should hold office in the National Parliament. I express no opinion on whether it would be better for the Northern Territory to be represented by a party candidate, or by an independent candidate; I am just asking the House to take a thoughtful view of the problem set by either a party candidate or an independent candidate elected by a constituency which is so much smaller than the other constituencies in Australia.
This point has particular application if we go back to the results of the last election. I suppose at this time no member of the House wants to rub salt in anybody’s wounds because so many people have been scratched, but the results of the last election in the Northern Territory show that the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), standing as a Labour candidate, received a total of 4,659 votes. His opponent, a person who is known throughout the Territory as Tiger, received a total of 4,468 votes, the majority for the honorable member for the Northern Territory being 191. If, say, only 100 votes had gone the other way we would have had an independent member for the Northern Territory in the person of Tiger. Let me put it frankly to honorable members opposite. Let us assume that we had got an even division of this House, and let us suppose that the Opposition, with a tenuous majority of one or two, found sitting somewhere in the back corner there the redoubtable Tiger from the Northern Territory, bound by no allegiance to the Opposition, and bound by no allegiance to us - and I say this with all due respect for the honorable gentleman concerned - but actuated at all times by a very lively and determined attitude on what he regards as the Territory’s rights, and prompted at all times by a very lively and determined conviction that he - Tiger - knows more about what is better for Australia than anybody else in Australia could possibly know-
– It would have been one of the most exciting parliaments in the history of federation.
– It would not only have been exciting; I think it would have been the year of the tiger.
– He would have been greater than the Bengal tiger.
– I am not an expert on the greater mammals, but I take it from his interjection that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) agrees with me that a parliament in which the fate of the Government was to be decided by Tiger Brennan, an independent member for the Northern Territory, would have been an exciting parliament. It would also have been an unworkable parliament, and it would have been a very short parliament.
– Or, alternatively, the Northern Territory would have advanced faster than at any other stage in its history.
– I do not know whether it would have advanced faster, but the proliferation of ideas concerning the advancement of the Northern Territory would have been faster than ever before, and the vehemence with which those ideas would have been put forward would have been greater than ever before, but I doubt whether the acceptance of those ideas and the practical consequences to the Northern Territory in those political circumstances would have been any different.
– You would have done as was done in the South Australian House of Assembly - you would have chained him to the chair.
– With all due deference to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and to Mr. Speaker, for whom you are deputizing, I think the Chair itself would have been much more interesting and the rulings would have broken much more new ground if the wig had been worn by the Tiger. In fact, the spectacle of a tiger in a wig might not have made for the health of this Parliament, but it certainly would have lent novelty to our proceedings and a great deal of liveliness to the debate. But I would hesitate to say anything that would reflect either on you personally, Mr. Lucock, or the dignified occupation of the chair by yourself and Mr. Speaker. The point I am trying to emphasize is that, whether it is a party supporter or an independent who is elected from a constituency such as this, the party which he supports receives into its hands, or he receives into his hands as an independent, an unusual power which is greater than the power that is given through the hands of any other member in Australia.
I turn now to look at the actual figures relating to population and enrolment in the Northern Territory. The present population of the Northern Territory is something of the order of 27,000 persons who are not wards of the State - normal citizens - and about 17,000 persons who are wards of the State because of their need for special care and assistance as aborigines. At present, that population produces a roll of 12,284 names, and I think I am entitled to question whether that roll is a healthy roll, because the actual number of votes cast at the recent election was 9,470, which is very much below the percentage of votes cast under the system of compulsory voting in most parts of Australia. I recognize that there are unusual difficulties, because of distance and communications in the Northern Territory, and we would expect a rather lower effective vote in relation to enrolment then than we would in an urban continuency; but the fact that only 9,470 votes were cast in a keenly contested election suggests to me that the enrolment of 12,284 does possibly contain some dead names. I use the term “ dead “ not in the sense of mortality, but in the sense that some of the names on the roll are not the names of persons still resident in the Territory. If the bill that is now before the House with respect to voting by aborigines is accepted by the Parliament - and we hope it will be - it is our calculation that the number of eligible adult aborigines, of all conditions, would be about 9,600. As honorable members know, the bill before the House provides that enrolment shall be voluntary, so that persons who are uninterested, illiterate, or nomadic, and who know nothing about elections, will not be compelled to enroll although they will have the right to do so.
– The present legislation does not apply to the Northern Territory. You will have to bring in a parallel bill.
– It is our intention that it shall apply. Of course, the federal act will apply. If the bill before the House relating to votes for aborigines is passed it will apply to the Northern Territory.
– The advice of the parliamentary draftsman is that it will not.
– If he maintains that advice, we will remedy the matter in the way he suggests, but it is our intention that the aborigines in the Northern Territory should be able to vote.
– I do not mean the Chief Parliamentary Draftsman, but the gentleman who is helping me with my amendment.
– If all adult aborigines in the Northern Territory become eligible for enrolment, but enrolment is not compulsory and they can choose, it is our guess - and it can be no more than a guess - that probably about 6,000 names will be added to the roll. Until the enrolment actually takes place, we do not know whether that guess is sound or widely astray. I should think it is a generous guess, and that the reality will be rather less. But let us take it at 6,000. That would give in the future a prospective enrolment of certainly not more than about 18,000 voters in the Northern Territory.
As honorable members know, because they all represent constituencies, the average size of the Australian electorates ranges from 32,000 to about 70,000 voters. After the re-distribution takes place, the normal electorate for the rest of Australia will be something larger than 40,000 electors. In contrast with the normal electorate of 40,000 electors, we have the prospective Northern Territory electorate of something less than 20,000 electors even at the most optimistic guess. That brings us back to this simple point: Could an enrolment of that number and an electorate of that numerical size justifiably claim the right to have a member in this House with the same voting rights and the same power to control who shall govern the whole of Australia as have members who come from larger constituencies? We have to think not merely of the claims of the Northern Territory voter and his wish to have some share in the affairs of the nation; we have to think, too, of the position of voters in the rest of Australia. Action of the kind proposed at this juncture would undoubtedly mean a disservice to and a belittling of the political powers of electors in other parts of Australia.
At the conference with the members of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory in 19S8, arguments of this sort were put forward quite clearly. Although the members of the Legislative Council were not prepared, of course, to concede the point that they were arguing, they did go so far as to say through the mouth of Mr. Ward that they did recognize the difficulty. Mr. Ward said -
I am conscious of the difficulty confronting the Government.
Having reached that stage, the conference turned its mind towards finding ways in which the difficulty might be overcome and some concession made to the members from the Northern Territory. The conclusions of the conference were recorded on this point in the following terms -
Select Committee Recommendation (iii) - That the member for the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives be given full voting rights.
Outcome - Ministers foresaw some difficulty in a proposition which might put the member for the Northern Territory in a position where he could decide the fate of an Australian government. However, Ministers were sympathetic to the case put forward and indicated that they were prepared to ask the Cabinet to examine the possibility of extending the powers of the representative of the Northern Territory so that, while not having full voting rights he would have the right to vote on a matter which related principally or solely to the Northern Territory.
As an alternative to full voting rights, the Legislative’ Councillors urged that the member should be given voting rights, except- and they conceded these two exceptions -
on any bill or motion not directly affecting the Northern Territory on which, by a motion of the House, it is resolved that he shall not be entitled to vote;
Cb) on any motion that it be so resolved.
It was contended that this was a complete answer to the objection raised and that the Legislative Councillors were prepared to run the risk that in certain circumstances the power of exclusion might be used very extensively
So, at that discussion with the representatives of the Northern Territory, we did come to the point where they recognized that it would be unreasonable to claim on each and every occasion that the member for the Northern Territory should have a full vote. Our solution was that we would try to define those matters on which he could vote. The solution they preferred was that we should give power to the House by its own resolution to decide that such a matter should not be one on which the member for the Northern Territory could vote. They also agreed that it would be fair that the resolution making that exclusion should also be not one on which the member for the Northern Territory could vote. I am sure I am quite fair to their thinking when I say that they recognized that the sort of occasion on which the member for the Northern Territory could be excluded by resolution of the House from voting would be the occasion on which major issues of national policy were decided and occasions on which the fate of national governments was -decided. So virtually, the Opposition in now bringing foward its bill, is going further than the requests of members of the Legislative Council in the Northern Territory ever went.
Following that conference between members of the Government and members of the Legislative Council, we proceeded in Cabinet to examine these two solutions - both the solution put forward by us and the solution put forward by the Legislative Councillors. I will not enlarge on the Cabinet discussion because it would be improper to do so; but we found some difficulty in accepting the solution offered by members of the Legislative Council. Broadly, we saw a great number of procedural difficulties on the floor of this House if that method was to be adopted. We saw the probability of almost endless procedural arguments before we ever came to a decision of the kind contemplated by the members of the Legislative Council. So the Government confined itself to trying to give the member for the Northern Territory some powers, but not full powers, in respect of voting.
As honorable members know, in April, 1959, a bill was brought forward - the Northern Territory Representation Bill - and in “ Hansard “ Volume 22 of the House of Representatives, at page 865 and subsequent pages, is my own second-reading speech on that bill. I explained that these were the voting rights which the Government was prepared to extend to the member for the Northern Territory, and tried to give the reasons which I have outlined to-day why those voting rights should not be extended. In brief, the bill provided that the member for the Northern Territory can vote on any matter which directly affects the Northern Territory but he does not vote on other questions. That is the position to-day.
– The member for the Northern Territory can vote only on matters solely affecting the Territory?
– Yes. Of course, at the same time a similar bill was introduced by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) so that the member for the Australian Capital Territory could have similar voting rights. That bill passed through the Parliament and became law in April, 1959, and it is the law on the subject at present. Since 1959, the population of the Northern Territory has increased slightly, but the size of the electorate has not increased to the extent that would invalidate in any way the arguments used in this House in 1959 and which were given expression in the bill passed in that year. There has been no change of great enough consequence to alter the position.
Why does the Opposition bring forward this proposal now? I do not want to inquire into the motives of the Opposition. I have no idea why honorable members opposite should bring forward such a proposal but can only look at the consequences if their bill were accepted. If this bill, and the second bill of which the Leader of the Opposition has given notice, were accepted, the Australian Labour Party undoubtedly would acquire two more votes and would be in a position to challenge the elected Government of Australia continuing in occupancy of the treasury bench.
The question I put to the House and the question I think the people of Australia must answer is whether the electors of Victoria, New South Wales and the other States, where one member represents 50,000 or even 70,000 people, should allow the question of who shall govern Australia to be decided, not by the votes of people in what I may call the normal electorates, but by the votes of people in what I think I can rightly describe as the small electorates, where the weighting of votes is so much higher than it is in the metropolitan and country electorates of Western Australia.
Labour’s measures, if adopted, would have the effect of putting Labour into office. Am I not being fair enough when I say that the object of the Labour Party in bringing this bill forward at present is in part to make a public demonstration? It is a little bit of harmless frivolity, with perhaps the hope that the frivolity will. succeed in changing the Government of Australia by giving full voting power to the two territorial representatives. I come back again to that hazard of the near defeat of our colleague from the Northern Territory. If 100 votes in the Northern Territory had gone the other way, the passage of this bill would have put the fate of the Government not in the hands of our colleague from the Northern Territory but in the hands of the redoubtable “ Tiger “. I do not know which way he would have voted. I have no idea at all about that, and I have no clue as to his party affiliations. I know only of his determined advocacy of Northern Territory interests.
– He is a fine gentleman.
– Yes, he is a fine gentleman and so is the present member for the Northern Territory. I do not want to go out campaigning in the Northern Territory electorate. I speak in terms of the highest appreciation of the amiable and consistent member for the Northern Territory, who has done his duty by the people of the Territory. I do not want to put his merits over and above the merits of his opponent at the last election, because they may become opponents again. It is not for me to judge; it is for the residents of the Northern Territory to decide whether they will be represented by “Jock” Nelson or by “ Tiger “ Brennan. But I do not think the fate of the Government of Australia should be left in the hands of either.
– The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) said that it was a novel procedure for a bill of this type to be introduced as a private member’s bill. I contend that that is the only way we could get such a bill before the House. The Government obviously is not interested in introducing a bill of this nature or of amending the present Representation Act This procedure is novel only because the Opposition on this occasion has been forced to introduce the bill.
The Minister spoke of the motives behind the introduction of the bill, but I remind him that the people of Australia have given their verdict on this matter. They supported a Labour opposition which included nf “its policy the matter that is now before the House in this bill. The people endorsed that policy and gave the Opposition full strength. They returned Labour members for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. If the will of the people were heeded, Labour would have a majority in this House and would be the Government, not the Opposition. We have a mandate to bring forward a measure of this nature. The Government, of course, has not been given authority to do so and does not seek to do so. We have a right to bring in a bill of this nature. This is the only way we can give expression to the will - of the people. .After all, the overwhelming majority of votes was cast for the Australian Labour Party.
I remind the Minister that Labour’s policy at the last election included an undertaking to develop the north of Australia and to give full voting rights to the member for the Northern Territory. They were planks of a platform that received very significant and very strong support from the Australian electorate.
The Minister dealt with the existing state of affairs in the Northern Territory. He quoted from the records of a conference between members of the Northern Territory Legislative Council and members of the Government. He did not say, of course, that this conference was necessary because members of the Northern Territory Legislative Council walked out of the Legislative Council en masse. The conference was held only as a result of an urgency motion I moved in this House, with the support of my party. If I had not moved the motion, the conference would never have been held. We should keep in mind the background of the report presented by members of the Legislative Council. They sought for the Northern Territory what they thought the Government would give them and not what they believed were the just rights of the people of the Northern Territory. They came here as a bargaining body. They embodied in their report requests that they thought would be granted by the Government and did not ask for all they felt was desirable for the people of the north. We cannot, therefore, rely too heavily on the wording of the report
The Minister said that the members of the Legislative Council were willing to accept something less than full voting rights for the member for the Northern Territory. They were forced to accept that proposition because they were in a position where they had to bargain. I offer this challenge to the Minister: If the Legislative Council at its meeting next week supports a resolution demanding full voting rights for the member for the Northern Territory, will he bring in a bill to implement the resolution?
– No, I would submit it to Cabinet.
– That shows how insincere the Government is in matters of this kind. I will guarantee that the Legislative Council next week will support a resolution in the terms I have suggested. If the nominated members of the council are not directed by the Government to oppose the resolution seeking full voting rights for the member for the Northern Territory, it will have unanimous support.
– That is because “Tiger” will be the next member for the Northern Territory.
– That is beside the point. My challenge to the Government will test its sincerity. If it is sincere, the Government will accept the proposition; but I am sure that it is not willing to do so.
This measure seeks to remove the restrictions placed on the representation rights of the member for the Northern Territory in this Parliament. The citizens of the north, after all, are demanding only that they be treated as normal Australian citizens, enjoying the same rights and privileges as other Australian citizens enjoy, by virtue of birthright or naturalization. A person need reside in Australia for only five years to acquire Australian citizenship through naturalization. We in the Northern Territory can live our whole lives in the north without ever acquiring the rights and privileges that are enjoyed by other citizens of Australia. Enemy aliens of World War II. have come to this country, have resided here for five years and have become citizens of Australia. They can, politically, control the lives and the future of the people of the north, although the people of the north in honouring their obligations to their country have fought and made every sacrifice.
The attitude of this Government is not based on moral principles. In making a decision on the question whether voting rights should be allowed to the parliamentary representative of the people of the Territory, the Government considers only the numbers of people involved. I do not think that in any other democracy in any part of the world a decision based on numbers would be made in preference to a decision based on moral rights. We in the
Northern Territory have made no progress over the years in our attempts to acquire our just political rights. It is true, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, that in the days when the Northern Territory was administered by South Australia, we had two members, with full voting rights, elected to the Legislative Assembly of the South Australian Parliament. We also elected a member with full voting rights to the Legislative Council of that Parliament. The South Australian Government in those days was not concerned with the numbers of persons in the Territory; it granted these privileges as rights and not on the basis of the numbers involved. Then in 1910 or 1911, when the transfer of administration took place from the South Australian Government to the Commonwealth Government, the people were divested of their political rights and in 40-odd years since that time they have not regained them. So we are actually worse off now, politically speaking, than we were at the beginning of the century.
As the Minister said, the legislation of 1959 gave to the member for the Northern Territory the right to vote on measures solely affecting the Territory. That was certainly a small step forward, but it was not by any means a major step in the march towards full representation and full citizenship rights for the people of the north. The amendment introduced at that time simply gave the member for the Northern Territory the right to vote on measures solely affecting the Territory, but it left him still without any right to vote on many other matters which vitally concern the Territory. Taxation measures, social service measures, legislation dealing with defence - all these things vitally affect the residents of the Northern Territory, but their political representative has no power to vote on them. It is a fact that in the two years since that legislation was enacted there has been not one opportunity for the member for the Northern Territory - myself - to exercise a vote in this Parliament. If the Government allows a vote on the matter we are now discussing, this will be the first occasion on which the member of the Northern Territory will exercise his right to vote in this House. It is obvious, therefore, that any improvement that has been made in the political representation of the people of the north has been quite meagre.
The legislative set-up in the Territory itself imposes very severe restrictions on the rights of the people. The members of the Northern Territory Legislative Council do not have a say in the preparation of estimates of expenditure or of works programmes for the Territory, although these programmes vitally affect the lives and the future of the people residing in the north. The members of the Legislative Council likewise have no say in the disposal of revenue contributed by the citizens of the Northern Territory. This is a fundamental right that is not denied, I believe, the citizens of any other democracy in the world. It is a negation of democracy to say that people who contribute revenue should have no voice in deciding how to dispose of it. We of the Northern Territory have had our rights severely restricted, whichever way one looks at them.
– Order! As it is now two hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the House, the debate on the motion is interrupted.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) agreed to -
That the time for the discussion of the motion be extended until 12.45 p.m.
– My remarks will have to be curtailed, because other members wish to speak, and if the debate does not conclude before 12.45 p.m. we will not be able to vote on the matter. I again direct the attention of the people of Australia to the fact that while they now enjoy full citizenship rights, they will lose them as soon as they cross the border of the Northern Territory. If the population of the Territory has not increased at the rate at which it should have increased, the blame can be laid squarely on this Government, because it has not implemented an effective policy of development of the Territory. If it had done so, 1 venture to suggest that the number of people in the Northern Territory would now be sufficient to give the member for the Territory full voting rights, even on the basis of numbers adopted by this Government.
The Leader of the Opposition has covered most of the ground. We say we have been denied our rights. All we want is to be granted the rights that are enjoyed by all other citizens of Australia.
We believe that the argument that the balance of power in this Parliament could be held by a member representing a small number of people is quite fallacious. While it might be possible for me to find myself in such a position, any other member might be in a similar position. If I, or my colleague, the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) were placed in such a position, it would simply be a reflection of the will of the people of Australia. It is the people of Australia who will decide the composition of this Parliament. I do not see anything wrong with the possibility that the member for the Northern Territory, or any other member, might hold a position of power in this Parliament. It happens in the various State parliaments. An independent member holds the balance of power in the Parliament of South Australia. It could very well be that in circumstances such as those envisaged by the Minister for Territories an independent member might hold the balance of power in this Parliament. Had I been defeated at the last election, and an independent member had taken my place in this House, it would certainly have been right and proper for him, if he held the balance of power, to have decided the fate of this Government if he were unreasonable enough to do so. I do not see anything wrong with that. It would be merely an expression of the will of the people.
We of the Labour Party believe that if a vigorous policy of development had been followed in the Northern Territory we might easily have had many more people in the Territory. In that case, as I have said, the member for the Territory might have been entitled to full voting rights, even on the basis adopted by this Government.
The Parliament has before it a bill to grant voting rights to Australian aborigines. It is right, of course, that they should be given such voting rights. I mention the matter merely to suggest that this could make a significant difference to the number of electors in the north. Whether it will do so or not I cannot say, because enrolment will not be compulsory, and many aborigines may not avail themselves of their right. The fact is, however, that they will have this right, and that there is in the Northern Territory a potential electorate of some 18,000 or 20,000 people. The rights of these people must be considered. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), by interjection, pointed out the fact that the people of Tasmania have representation in the Senate and a representative in the House of Representatives for each 23,000 persons.
– They have a representative for each 12,500 electors.
– That is so. I represent at present an electorate of 12,000 voters. Over the next twelve or eighteen months, that figure could easily be doubled. If an exception can be made in the cases of Tasmania and Western Australia in order to bring them into the federation, with no risk at all to the Commonwealth, I suggest that it is right that the representatives in this House of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory be afforded full voting rights on the same basis. This would present no degree of hazard to our political system, but would benefit it.
For these reasons, I say again, we are demanding for the citizens of these two Territories only the right that every other citizen in Australia enjoys to-day. We ask for no special privileges. We do not agree with the argument that the member for the Northern Territory should not hold the balance of power in this House if such a situation were to arise by virtue of the closeness of the vote of the electors of Australia. I ask honorable members to support this measure and to show that this Parliament at least recognizes principle before expediency.
.- Mr. Speaker, the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) questioned the sincerity of the present Government in this matter and issued a challenge to the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck). This word “ sincerity “ is given a lot of different slants in this place. I ask whether the Australian Labour Party itself is sincere in asking now for full voting rights for the member for the Northern Territory, because that party was in office not so long ago and had an opportunity to do something about the matter if it were sincere. The second
Chifley Government was in office from 1st November, 1946, to 19th December, 1949. Never once in those days did the Labour Party mention full voting rights for the member for the Northern Territory. The first Chifley Government held office from 13th July, 1945, to 1st November, 1946, the first Curtin Government from 7th October, 1941, to 21st September, 1943, and the second Curtin Government from 21st September, 1943, to 6th July, 1945. Never once during the terms of those governments did the Labour Party raise the matter of full voting rights for the member for the Northern Territory, although it had a clear majority in the Parliament and could have legislated for full voting rights.
When we are talking about sincerity, let us ask: Where is the sincerity of the Australian Labour Party? Suppose we had a general election which resulted in the formation of a Labour Government, and Mr. “Tiger” Brennan became the member for the Northern Territory with an electorate of 20,000 voters. The electorate could change completely with the enrolment of natives in the Northern Territory. Would a Labour government then give full voting rights to the member for the Northern Territory? Let us consider those things when we are thinking about sincerity, and let us keep in mind particularly the situation that would exist if a government had a majority of only one.
We know, of course, the motives behind the Opposition’s present proposal. This move is not intended to serve the interests of the people of the Northern Territory. The honorable member for the Northern Territory is being fooled by the Labour Party. The real motive behind this proposal is the lust for power. The one word “ power “ is the key to the situation. The Labour Party wants the power that it will gain if it can attain the treasury bench, which it has been longing to attain for so long. As a consequence, in the colloquial phrase, the honorable member for the Northern Territory has got a guernsey on this occasion. A matter affecting the Northern Territory has been raised for the purpose of enabling the Labour Party to get the honorable member’s vote - there is a similar proposal relating to the voting rights of the honorable member for the Australian
Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) - on all matters decided in this place. By this means, the Opposition hopes to achieve a deadlock here. That is the real motive behind its present proposal. In view of these considerations, all this talk by Opposition members about sincerity only drags the word “ sincerity “ down into the dust.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) made a very weak speech on this matter. I suppose that he has never been heard to worse advantage than he was heard this morning. How different he was from the man who delivered the Australian Labour Party’s policy speech for the general election campaign a few months ago. He appeared unhappy this morning. We were interested to hear some of the things that he said about the representation of the Northern Territory in this House. He stated that the history of the Territory’s representation here had not been a happy one. We do not agree with that. We have a healthy respect for the present honorable member for the Northern Territory. We know that he does his best for the people whom he represents. There have been three representatives of the Northern Territory in this House. The present honorable member has represented the Territory since 10th December. 1949. Mr. A. M. Blain represented it from 22nd September, 1934. to 10th December, 1949. Before him, the Territory was represented bv the father of the present honorable member, from 16th December, 1922, to 22nd September, 1934. So the name “Nelson” has been associated with the representation of the Northern Territory in this place for a good deal of the period of 40 years for which the Territory has had a representative here. Yet the Leader of the Opposition said that the history of the Northern Territory’s representation had not been happy.
Who gave the Territory representation in this House, Sir? It was not the Australian Labour Party. That party made no move to give the Territory representation here. It was given representation in 1922 by the last Hughes Ministry, which introduced the necessary legislation. The Hughes Ministry took action to give the electors in the Territory, who then numbered fewer than 2,000, a representative in this place. Those who are privileged to be members of this House, on both sides, represent the people in a great many matters, many of which are directly’ concerned with family affairs. In all those things, the representative of the Northern Territory serves his electors. I repeat that. the last Hughes Government - a Nationalist government - took the action which gave the Territory a representative in this House. Now we have the Labour Party’s move at this stage, when the present record-breaking Menzies Government has had to bear the odium for correcting the situation that arose in Australia in 1960, when there was a mad rush for money on all sides. That situation, of course, would have ruined almost any government, but this one has been able to ride out the storm and is still in office. It has created a record in office which, in this country, is excelled only by the Playford Government in South Australia, I suppose, and perhaps by hardly any other government throughout the world. The Labour Party seeks full voting rights for the member for the Northern Territory only now, when the present Government has been subjected to the odium resulting from the situation which arose in 1960.
Who is it that really wants to do something for the benefit of the Northern Territory? We on this side of the House are the ones who are doing our best for it. Members of the Australian Labour Party would not join honorable members on this side of the Parliament on a mission to the Northern Territory last year. I am glad that some Opposition members went to the Territory independently of our mission. But I was astounded when I saw the documentary television film which they produced to publicize what they said they would do for the Territory if Labour were in office. This film attracted a lot of attention and gave a lot of hope to many people who were not quite happy about the economic situation. I repeat, Sir, that a government on our side of politics gave the Northern Territory its representation in this place. We on this side of the House have visited the Territory and investigated practical ways of developing it. The Minister for Territories made a very sound reply to the arguments advanced by the Leader of the Opposition, and we support the Minister.
I should now like to mention several new matters related to this subject. The United States of America bad until recently two territories which were backward and had no representative in the United States Congress. They have now become the fortyninth and the fiftieth States of the union. Alaska, with a population of only 226,000 people, and an area similar to that of the Northern Territory, achieved statehood.
– Order! The extended time allotted for the precedence of general business has expired. The honorable member for Macarthur will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed. The resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day under “ General Business “ for the next sitting.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
At present the only authority to make refunds and remissions of excise duty is contained in the Excise Regulations. As an authority of this nature in the regulations only is of questionable validity, it is proposed by this bill to place the matter beyond doubt by incorporating the basic powers in the Excise Act. Clause 6 of the bill will achieve this objective but, of course, it will be necessary to make regulations to cover the conditions and procedures to apply.
These will vary from the existing regulations only to the extent that special provisions will be added to allow refund of excise duty on manufactured tobacco products returned to factories for treatment or re-manufacture because of deterioration after delivery from customs control. The usable recovered tobacco content will be merged into the production line of the factory to form part of freshly manufactured products subject to excise duty. Because of the proposed new provisions relating to tobacco products, sections 73 and 74 of the Excise Act dealing with the renovation of tobacco are being repealed.
I commend the bill for the favorable consideration of honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 7th March (vide page 513), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
, - This is a curious kind of measure, rather quaintly described as being one to authorize the raising and expending of a sum not exceeding £60,000,000 for defence purposes. That is what the bill purports to do, but in essence the £60,000,000 represents the final sum arrived at after various adjustments have been made to the Government’s Budget proposals as originally introduced into the House by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on 15th August, 1961. When he introduced the Budget the Treasurer used these rather significant words -
The days are long gone by when governments could lay down policies in rigid terms and stick to them indefinitely, come what may.
As we know, since the introduction of the Budget an election has intervened which has changed substantially the balance of parties in this House. Subsequent to the resumption of the Parliament in February last, certain changes have been made to the original Budget proposals. Honorable members will recall that the Budget provided for a deficit of £16,500,000. In other words, the Government intended to spend £16,500,000 more than it expected to raise in revenues and from the other resources available to it.
Since that time, a number of proposals have been made. The financial cost of those proposals is summarized in a document which the Treasurer circulated for the benefit of members of the Government parties. They were published in full in the 1st March, 1962, issue of the “ Financial Review “, which included also the cost to the Budget of the measures which have been introduced since February last. These provided for certain reductions in tax collections and certain additional commitments of expenditure which have the net effect of increasing the Budget deficit of £16,500,000 to an apparent £70,000,000. The “Financial Review “ gives these figures: Income tax rebate will involve a loss of revenue from now until the end of June of £25,000,000, and reductions in sales tax are expected to result in a loss of revenue of £4,500,000. Therefore, there will be a revenue loss of £29,500,000. On the other side of the account, outlays will be increased by the non-repayable grant to the States of £10,000,000, which was debated in the House yesterday; the provision of £5,000,000 additional capital for the Commonwealth Development Bank, the bill in relation to which has already passed through both Houses of Parliament; the provision of an additional £1,000,000 for Commonwealth works; the payment of £500,000 more in unemployment benefit; and the provision of an additional £7,500,000 for State housing programmes. These additional outlays aggregate £24,000,000, which, together with the revenue loss of £29,500,000, alter the Budget position at August, 1961, by £53,500,000. So, instead of a deficit of £16,500,000, there will be a deficit of nearly £70,000,000.
This amount, however, will be reduced somewhat because the loan market has proved more favorable to the. Government than was expected in August last year. In essence, the measure before us is the net resort that there has to be to treasury-bill finance by the Government during this financial year. It seems to me to matter little whether the. money that is to be raised is attached technically to defence purposes rather than to any other purpose. It is the overall financial result that is significant.
Perhaps the first thing worthy of note is that the principle of deficit financing in certain circumstances seems to have become respectable in the Government’s eyes. When certain proposals were advanced by the Labour Party in November and December last year which would have had the effect, although perhaps in a different pattern, of increasing expenditure by some £60,000,000 or £70,000,000, spokesmen for the Government characterized our proposals as being likely to lead down the slippery road to inflation. Now the Government itself is proceeding down that slippery road, as it was described, at least to the same extent as we proposed to do. Instead of a deficit of £16,500,000, there will be a deficit of the order of £70,000,000.
I hope that the Australian people learn this lesson: If at any future time the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) should endeavour, with the eloquence of which sometimes only he is capable, to. say that a budget deficit without any qualification is the road to inflation, the people should laugh politely. He used almost as an instrument of terror the claim that if the Labour Party’s proposals were put into effect the country would be subjected to ruinous inflation. As we have often said, he is the last person who ought to talk about inflation, because in the ten or more years that he has controlled the Government of this country we have had inflation by an aggregate amount of some £2,600,000,000. So another £70,000,000 is a fairly limited sum in that perspective.
Figures like those highlight the great difficulty that exists in trying to put things into their proper perspective. To most ordinary people the sum of £1,000 - with no more noughts attached - is a fairly significant sum in their daily lives, but it is when you come to aggregate all the transactions in the community in the course of a twelvemonth period that you tend to get into astronomical figures, not of thousands of pounds, but of thousands of millions of pounds; and sometimes they are a little difficult to comprehend. And, because it is a little difficult to comprehend these figures, it is sometimes very easy to distort them.
Nobody has been more successful in distortion, when it suited him, than the Prime Minister of this country has been. If he wanted to take praise to himself he had no hesitation in speaking about the hundreds of millions of pounds that had in fact been spent by his Government on certain projects; but if people of another political view suggested spending any other large sum they would be politely told that if they were not careful that sort of reckless doing would lead down the path to inflation. I hope that in future these things will be looked at a little more sanely and realistically than in the past. After all, it is pretty difficult, without seeing what is included in the annual, as distinct from the capital, transactions of the Government, to know whether in some circumstances a deficit is really a deficit and whether a surplus is really a surplus. They are fairly flexible terms in the last analysis.
Equally, it is difficult to distinguish whether a pound that is spent out of revenue is any different in its result from a pound that comes out of deficit financing. Again, it is the overall effect that is significant. Equally, there is no difference in effect whether the additional pound is put into circulation as a result of the Commonwealth Government’s use of deficit finance, or whether the pound becomes available as a result of an expansion in the overdraft policy of the private banking system, which leads to an aggregate increase in the expenditure of the community. The only difference between the two transactions is that in the case of the first pound the operation is directed by the Government, whilst in the case of the second it is directed by the private banks, and even then the distinction may at times become a little blurred. 1 should like to cite a set of figures which, I think, illustrate this point very clearly. We all know that at the moment the banking system is in a state of what is called liquidity. It has money to lend, but seems to be having difficulty in finding enough clients who want to borrow it - at least, enough clients who are satisfactory by the criteria which bankers apply. In January, 1961 - not much more than a year ago - the major trading banks in Australia had government securities to an aggregate value of £238,300,000. In January, 1962- exactly twelve months later - their holdings of government securities had risen to £462,200,000. In other words, in one year - and that period was largely associated with what we call the credit squeeze - the banks increased their holdings of government securities by about £224,000,000. It is difficult, on the surface, to know whether those securities are for the most part in the form of short-term rather than long-term holdings. The tendency, I suggest, would be for them to be held for periods of two years or less rather than in long-term holdings, but they throw a different light on what is called a successful loan floating programme. When a government says that its loans have been over-subscribed such a statement ought not to be made without qualification. It ought to indicate just where the additional subscriptions have come from. It is very easy to say or to imply that the ordinary man in the street has suddenly become so impressed with the Government’s performance that he has put his savings - of course, people have not got such savings now - into government securities. Equally, the point is that in relation to this problem of liquidity, the nearer a government security gets to its maturity date, when the debt will be repaid by the government to the lender, the nearer you get to the stage where the banks have more liquidity, because at very short notice they can turn that security into cash and on the basis of that cash they can proceed to erect their edifice of loans.
These matters are most significant when considering the overall financial position, and when a government says it has been successful in its operations on the loan market it ought at least to indicate, for public consumption, how much of the investment in its loans came from banks and other financial institutions and how much came from individuals. Also, the Government ought to be more frank than it is about how the debt of the nation is held as between short-term and long-term securities. We have got to the situation in Australia now - and I suggest that this is largely because the market has been tailormade for the banking system and other financial institutions rather than for anything else - where for periods of two years and less investors get from 4 per cent, to 4£ per cent, interest on government securities, and those who venture into investment in such securities for from ten to fifteen years or more get a shade over 5 per cent. I suggest that those figures, mainly over the last twelve months of so-called buoyancy of the loan market, show where the money has come from. It has come as a result of the banks’ finding that it was not prudent to lend to individuals and choosing to lend for a year or two to the Government. That might be a good thing so far as promoting public development, as against private development, is concerned. But it puts a great deal of initiative in the hands of these institutions which, if it suits them, are prepared to indicate that they think they have been rather hardly done by over the last year or so. I suggest that if you make1 a calculation on an average of 4 per cent., as to what another £230,000,000 of securities held at that rate means, when shared among five or six private financial institutions, it is not a bad result from that side of their business. It is true that the picture is not complete without looking at some of the other sides of the banking balancesheet, but at least it throws a bit more light on it than the Government is at times disposed to throw so far as the problems of the nation are concerned.
Another significant thing is the change of circumstances which has taken place in the economic climate since the last Budget was introduced. I quoted earlier some of the remarks of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on that occasion; but he went on to say -
We all want to see strong and continuous growth, founded upon increasing population, rising productivity and diversity of occupations, skills and culture. We want to see a spread of growth through all States and Territories in our Commonwealth. We want to see that growth achieved through stability, not at the expense of it. I give stability a meaning wide enough to comprehend not only a steady level of prices and costs, but also a balance between demand for goods and the supply of goods, full employment of labour and industrial resources, and a balance over the years in our external receipts and expenditures.
They were the fine aspirations of the Government in August, 1961. Since that time we have seen the community deteriorate to an extent where there are now well over 100,000 people who want to work and help to promote the growth of the Australian community but who are being denied the opportunity to do so. Again I suggest that it is perhaps time that the Australian community reflected upon these noble aspirations of growth, stability and full employment. It is sometimes piously hoped that they may be achieved together, but at the moment in Australia we do not seem to be achieving any of them at all. Again the fault is to a great extent laid at the door of the Government. Some of the measures which it has been forced belatedly to take in the last month or two ought to have been foreseen at least at the time of the last Budget.
If the kind of action, or perhaps a variant of it, which is now being taken had been taken then instead of at present these people who have been out of work, in some cases for nearly a year now in the aggregate, might have been in useful employment in the community. When we talk about growth 1 think we ought occasionally ask ourselves in what direction we intend to grow. What sort of pattern of development do we intend to have in the future? We have had, as one of the measures of this Government, an alteration in sales tax which is estimated to result in a revenue loss- of £4,500,000 to the Government. But primarily the purpose of that measure was not concerned with revenue at all. It was aimed at stimulating the motor car industry. It was only twelve months or so previously that we had a measure designed to cut down the activities of the motor car industry. And as we said recently during the debate, surely it is implicit that any government should indicate how far, relative to other things, it thinks the motor car industry ought to be allowed to go.
We on this side of the House feel that quite apart from the effects of the credit squeeze, as it came to be called, difficulties would have been experienced in Australia in absorbing into useful employment all those people who were wanting jobs, because certain fundamental changes have been taking place in the Australian economy over recent years. Those circumstances have been brought about by the application of new processes in industry. It is still true that the greatest single source of employment in Australia arises out of manufacturing endeavour. Of some 3,000,000-odd people employed in other than rural activity in Australia over 1,000,000 find their employment in what is described as manufacturing. But increasingly manufacturing industry, and particularly large-scale manufacturing industry, has been installing machinery the effect of which has been to augment its production with relatively less man-power than was formerly needed. That is a good thing from the point of view of the community if some sort of employment is found for those who have been released from their former jobs. There is nothing wrong with using machinery instead of men if you do something to find other jobs for the men and women who are no longer employed. But in Australia the initiative as to whether machinery takes the place of men is a private decision. The result, as far as the surplus man-power at least is concerned, ought to be of some public and governmental concern. But it seems that that is not the case in Australia.
I suggest that from what is taking place in America and Canada - countries largely similar in their economy but both of them bigger in the aggregate than Australia - we can learn of some of the problems that are likely to perplex us here. In both the United States of America and Canada unemployment is running at the order of from 5 per cent, to 7 per cent. If we used the same method of statistical compilation to work out unemployment as those countries do - that is by relating unemployment to the people who normally are employed rather than by adding the selfemployed, because it is a more honest statistical evaluation of unemployment - we would also have a figure in the region of 5 per cent. It ought to be calculated on the basis of about 3,000,000, rather than as the Government calculates it, on the basis of 4,000,000 people.
– It “has always been calculated in that way.
– I doubt whether it has. I suggest that it has only been calculated in that way in the last few years because the total of unemployed is becoming bigger rather than smaller. To some extent you can take your mind off the reality or aggregate by converting it into a percentage which is not really an honest figure. No matter whether it is 4 per cent, on 4,000,000 or 5 per cent, on 3,000,000 the figure is still quite unsatisfactory so far as Australia is concerned.
In Canada, unemployment has persisted at the rate of 6 per cent, or 7 per cent, for nearly ten years. Certain people felt that the reason might be that certain changes bad taken place in the economy which had not been properly evaluated. As a result, a committee on man-power and employment was set up by the Canadian Senate and it reported on 14th June, 1961. I commend the report of that committee to the attention of honorable members and of the Minister for Labour and National Service in particular. It shows by tabulation on page 47 and subsequent pages the kind of circumstances which could be examined in Aus tralia. - I am confident that if they were examined in Australia as they have been in Canada; the same sort of conclusions would emerge.
In the Canadian report, industry’ was classified into two groups and the same sort of classification could be made in Australia. One group comprised industries in which total employment was not increasing. The other group comprised industries in which total employment was increasing. The group in which employment was not increasing was divided into industries in which employment was declining rapidly and industries in which there had been little change in employment. It was found that during a ten-year period total employment had declined in agriculture, in gold mining, in coal mining, in agricultural implement manufacturing and in the manufacturing of motor vehicle parts and accessories. We have something of the pattern of the Canadian motor car industry in the Australian motor car industry. Employment on leather products declined considerably in Canada during this ten-year period and employment on textile products other than clothing and in the manufacture of clothing also declined quite rapidly. Rapid increases in employment took place in industries concerned with metals other than gold - that is copper and extractive mining generally - oil and natural gas, non-metallic mineral products, products of petroleum and coal, chemical products and construction.
It was found that there had been a progressive shift in the pattern of employment in Canada. If we can anticipate such shifts we can go a fair way towards obviating the difficulty that Canada had of coping with this large aggregate of unemployment. The significant reason why much of this change in employment in Canadian industry has come about is indicated in a table showing employment and output trends in five manufacturing industries over the tenyear period from 1949 to 1959. Again, I would think it is not beyond the resources of the Department of Labour and National Service in Australia to work out similar equations for our industries. The Canadian table shows that production in the motor vehicle industry increased by 49.8 per cent, over the ten-year period but employment increased only by 11 per cent. This illustrates the greater use of machinery relative to man-power. In the manufacture of motor vehicle parts, output rose by 19.7 per cent, but employment increased only by 6.8 per cent. In electrical apparatus and supplies, output rose by 8H per cent, but employment rose only by 40 per cent. In machinery, output rose by 33.7 per cent, but employment rose only by 16.8 per cent. In household appliances, output rose by 53.7 per cent, but employment rose only by 19 per cent.
The Budget and governmental finance are only partly a reflection of Australia’s economy, the circumstances of which are these: It has been estimated that in the next ten years we shall have to find 1,300,000 additional jobs. In the last ten years we found only 450,000 additional jobs. Do people in this House believe that there is enough resilience in industry as presently controlled and directed to absorbed in the next ten years three times as many people as were absorbed in the previous ten years? Is the record of the last two years, in particular, a very satisfactory indication that we have begun this ten-year period very successfully? There are now 50,000 fewer people employed in manufacturing than there were twelve months ago. I suggest that this is a matter of importance to the future of this country. Information should be readily available as to how long people in various classifications have been out of employment. Information should be published as to the industries in which employees have become redundant. We should also have information concerning the age and sex of unemployed people.
At present, when it suits the Minister for Labour and National Service he explains unemployment as being seasonal, and, at other times, he puts the blame on to children leaving school. Nobody honestly knows whether we have a sticky pool of nearly 100,000 people who have been out of work for more than six months or whether the largest part of the unemployed comprise children who have left school and cannot find jobs. There can be nothing more tragic than to have trained a child to do a job only to find that there is no such job that the community needs to have done. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that they are the kind of things that we should examine in the next few years.
Surely it would be a social improvement to pay a man a decent wage while training him to do a new job rather than pay him half a wage for doing nothing. Surely the Department of Labour and National Service should endeavour to ascertain the needs of industry at various levels and try to integrate this with the output of educational institutions at the secondary, technical and university levels. Perhaps there should be a vaster expenditure on education and less expenditure on the promotion of some industries which might not be the best ones to promote. That is the kind of matter that should be scrutinized. I suggest that, instead of the Minister for Labour and National Service being complacent, he should look at some of the suggestions contained in the White Paper on Employment which was presented in this House, not yesterday, but sixteen years ago when many of these things, at least, were seen in theory if not in practice. Unfortunately, because not enough has been done, the present situation exists. The Government should not be consoled merely because, for one month out of eighteen, employment figures have risen. That does not indicate that a satisfactory solution has been found to the problem. It is not the be-all and end-all of economic difficulty in Australia.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), who made such a passionate plea for the preparation of more ample figures on employment and financial matters, would have carried more weight with his argument if he himself had shown that he was able to use more accurately the figures that are now available to us. It is one thing to have a mass of statistics, but it is an entirely different matter to use those statistics truthfully and accurately. The honorable member spoke of the Labour Party’s proposal at the last election to budget for a deficit of something between £60,000,000 and £70,000,000 this year whereas, in his policy speech, his Leader (Mr. Calwell) said that he proposed to budget in February this year for a deficit of £100,000,000. What is £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports? And, of course, this would be inflationary money, but he does not worry about inflation. Not once in the speech he has just delivered did he mention any of the risks attendant upon inflation. Nor did he mention that Australia is a trading nation, that Australia lives by selling goods to the rest of the world, that Australia must import goods from the rest of the world to maintain its status, its rate of progress and its level of employment. Australia must be a trading nation, and therefore costs here must bear a certain relationship to costs in the rest of the world. It would be stupid to ignore the rest of the world completely; yet, in his speech, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports did in fact ignore the rest of the world, and did in fact ignore all the dangers that are attendant upon inflation.
It is because 1, myself, am interested in the inflationary effect of the issue of treasury bills to the tune of ?60,000,000 that 1 am on my feet now. I am most concerned that this new money being injected into the economy should not have the effect of raising costs because, as we know, our exports are closely connected with the great primary industries. Our exporters cannot stand any significant increase in their costs at this time. I very much want to see that this new money is matched by an equivalent amount of goods and services in the shortest possible time so that it will not have an inflationary effect, and will not put a greater handicap upon our exporters who now include not only primary producers, but also an increasing number of manufacturers, who are selling to the growing Asian markets. Those manufacturers who are selling on this widening market are equally deserving of attention to their costs as are the great primary industries of Australia.
Let me refer now to the excellent address that was given towards the end of last year by Mr. David Rockefeller, president’ of the Chase Manhattan Bank, in which he pointed out something of which we are all aware - that the economies of the Western world are made up of fourfifths private enterprise and one-fifth government enterprise. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports referred to measures which should or could possibly be taken by the Government, but he did not refer to the countless decisions that must be made by private enterprise to make for sound economic progress. Of course, the greater proportion of the decisions necessary to ensure economic progress must be made by those operating in the private sector of the economy. However much we might wish it were otherwise, the measures which any government takes in a mixed economy such as ours, no matter how well timed they may be or however well intentioned they may be, are bound to create some economic disorganization. That is in the very nature of the beast. In order to ensure that the measures taken create as little dislocation and as little disorganization as possible, it is absolutely essential that the private sector of the economy co-operate closely with the government sector, so that both may work in the greatest degree of harmony. These words by Mr. David Rockefeller in that connexion are significant -
Business must work out new methods of cooperating with government in pursuing policies which will achieve basic national objectives such as a high level of employment, a rate of economic growth that meets the needs of the times, and price stability.
Mr. Rockefeller also said ;
Inflation can be held in check and economic growth can be fostered by policies which are well known and have been thoroughly tested over and over again. They include responsible monetary and fiscal policies linked with appropriate policies to hold increases in wages and other costs in line with the economy’s ability to pay them without rising prices. Businessmen need to give vigorous support to these policies, for the arguments in favour of creeping inflation are highly seductive to men seeking elective office.
I wonder how many of our businessmen in Australia exercise that degree of public responsibility, how many of them are aware that the arguments in favour of creeping inflation are highly seductive to men seeking elective office, how many of them are aware of the inflationary effects of the proposals which were put forward by the Labour Party during the last election campaign, and how many of them were concerned that such proposals should be put forward by a political party which was seeking to attain office as the government of Australia?
It is not fair, of course, to quote the views of one man as if they were the views of every one in the community, but Mr. Staniforth Ricketson is a well-known businessman. He is chairman of directors of Capel Court Investment Company (Australia)
Limited and at the twenty-fifth annual meeting of that company he made this significant statement -
It is appropriate to emphasise that, whilst in days gone by the emergence of a Labour Government would have been regarded by trade and industry with the deepest concern, the same fears would not be entertained under present conditions. The fact is that the Labour Parly has attained greater maturity of outlook and has abandoned many of the extremist policies propounded in earlier times.
Presumably, Mr. Staniforth Ricketson represents a great proportion of the businessmen in Australia, and he disregards completely the pledge to socialize Australia, which is signed by all honorable members opposite. Evidently he believes that that is a pledge which can be taken with a grain of salt, no matter what its ethical significance may be. Evidently, Mr. Staniforth Ricketson is not concerned with the fact that the policy of the Labour Party during the last campaign was designed to add something between £ 1 50,000,000- the figure estimated by the Leader of the Opposition - and £240,000,000 to the annual costs of the community. But Mr. Staniforth Ricketson should not ignore the words of the federal secretary of the Australian Labour Party, Mr. Chamberlain, because Mr. Chamberlain speaks for the Labour Opposition. In the latest issue of “ Quadrant “, a Labour magazine, a copy of which may be had from the Parliamentary Library, Mr. Chamberlain publishes these ominous words -
The Australian people are demanding that their future shall provide them with economic security. There is a growing awareness that this security cannot be obtained from a system of private enterprise.
It is quite a coincidence, of course, but, unfortunately for the Labour Party, those words were written under the title, “ What is to be done? “ That, of course, was copied from Lenin’s famous manifesto of 1902; but that is pure coincidence. It is unfortunate that the Australian Labour Party cannot help associating itself at all times and at all points with the views of Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev.
Getting back to Mr. Ricketson and the businessmen he represents, I believe that the degree of public responsibility they should exercise should make them acquainted with statements such as that and with the real position of the Australian Labour Party as well as its true attitude towards private enterprise. I have been wondering whether, if Australia were to join the number of countries which have a capital gains tax, many of these champions of private enterprise would become more responsible than they are at present, and whether they would have the same disregard for inflation and rising costs in Australia. I have never advocated the imposition of a tax or the raising of a tax but it is noteworthy that Australia and the United Kingdom are the only principal exceptions to the list of free countries which have a capital gains tax of one kind or another.
Honorable members on the Opposition side indicate by their interjections that they have awakened from the deep sleep into which they fell during the previous speech. I hope they are learning something from my remarks. We are putting £60,000,000 into the economy. As the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has said, that is being done to increase the rate of pick-up in the economy, and it is having that effect. The money is going into circulation immediately and business responds. To make sure that this does not serve as a starter for a new inflationary splurge and to ensure that the Government does not have to bring down some hard-hitting emergency measures to control inflation, I should like to see more cooperation between the businessmen of the community - those who believe in private enterprise - and the Government. I do not care how this co-operation is brought about but obviously it must be achieved. Decisions that will make or break Australia will be made in the coming years, as they have been in the past, in the private sector which is four-fifths of the economy.
It is all very well for advocates of central planning, such as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, to say that if they are given the powers, the plans will come from a central bureau and everything will be perfect. That will never come to pass while this is a free country. Most of the decisions that will make Australia great and have made it great in the past will continue to be made by the private industrialists outside the Government. What we must have now, if we are to avoid stop-and-go measures being applied now and lifted later, is the closest possible co-operation between the two vital sectors of the economy - private and governmental. We should tackle the job of bringing together in harmony those two important areas of the economy. It can be done in a variety of ways. We have done it this year by bringing businessmen representing others to Canberra to discuss their ideas with Government representatives. We have found that this arrangement does not always work as well as we would like to see it work because, in the nature of things, it is impossible for men to come to Canberra and know the score in the course of a day or two. For that matter, it is impossible for one government officer to go into a business and understand it immediately.
Very often, various suggestions are put forward to overcome this difficulty. One to which the House should give consideration is the setting up of an inquiry into the economic well-being of Australia with particular reference to our tariff structure. I myself have advocated this inquiry previously. Such an inquiry would be a continuing one lasting over a period of years. It would mean bringing businessmen and governments together over a long period. By that means we would be able to harmonize the decisions made by governments and industry for the wellbeing of Australia as a whole.
The previous speaker referred to the great number of jobs that must be created in the next ten years. I agree that we have that problem on our plate now because the great bulge in the population is about to break. The post-war generation is about to leave school seeking work. We can create these jobs only by encouraging private enterprise to marshal its strength to create the jobs and provide the necessary capital. We have to look for means to bring industry into closer working partnership with government, and we must find some means that have not been adopted in the past. We will have to depart from precedents to do this job. We must establish some new machinery. All this will have to be done soon if we are to avoid a fresh rise in the inflationary spiral arising from the injection of this £60,000,000 into the economy as would inevitably happen otherwise.
– Is not this measure inflationary?
– I would refer the honorable member to some elementary text-book, or perhaps he might talk to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports who will put him right as to whether this is inflationary or not. I am very pleased to notice that one honorable member on the Opposition side is concerned about the dangers of inflation to Australia. Inflation is something we have learnt to live with over the years but fortunately the rate of inflation in Australia has been kept in check. At no point of time has it gone ahead without a check, as it has done in other western countries, which, like ourselves, have enjoyed full employment and social service benefits. So long as Australia’s relationship with the rest of the world remains much as it has been, so long will we trade successfully with the rest of the world. But if we allow ourselves to get out of step so that Australia becomes an island of inflation in a sea of deflation, we will be in very serious trouble indeed.
I support the bill because it was necessary to put this money into circulation to stimulate the economy and to revive confidence in the business community. But I add the rider that some action must be taken now by the Government to ensure that the private sector of the economy makes its decisions in collaboration and in full co-operation with the Government in order to avoid an otherwise inevitable crisis in the future.
– The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) has one distinction that I have always admired. He has mastered the art of speaking without opening his mouth. But I find it very difficult to discern any other accomplishment in the speech that he has just made.
The honorable member commenced by saying that the appeal of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) for more adequate statistics from official sources would carry more weight if he used the figures already available more accurately. For a good many years since I have been a member of this House, and before I came into it, I have listened to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. I say without fear of contradiction that nobody in this House uses figures more accurately than he does. The honorable member for Gwydir, in a rather pin-pricking, petty approach, chose one example from a long speech in which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports used a great array of figures. He said the honorable member for Melbourne Ports had said that the Labour Party in its policy speech had proposed a deficit of about £60,000,000. The honorable member for Gwydir - this great mathematician, this expert and accurate user of figures - said the deficit we proposed was in fact £120,000,000. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports was referring to the precise amount that was involved in half a year. What the Labour Party proposed to do was to introduce a supplementary budget in March of this year, in which we would increase expenditure by £60,000,000, and would then provide for the full expenditure in the next budget. This was the figure used by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
If one has fears of inflation and is concerned to examine the attitude of the honorable member for Gwydir, it is worth noting that what the Government proposes to do is to spend an additional £53,400,000 in four months - not £60,000,000 as this bill might suggest - or at an average rate of £160,000,000 a year. So the increased expenditure proposed by this Government on an annual basis is, on the face of it, greater than the rate proposed by the Labour Party. Of course, that is why we say that the Government, having lost sixteen seats, has gone some of the way towards adopting Labour’s policy, although last year the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) described this policy as fantastic and irresponsible.
– Who lost his seat on the executive?
– Having lost sixteen seats and fearing that it will lose a few more, such as that held by the honorable member for Franklin, who interjects but hardly ever speaks, the Government has completely reversed its policy with regard to the level of expenditure that it thinks should be attained. Instead of following the deflationary and recessionary policy that it adopted throughout 1961, it has now changed its attitude fundamentally and has adopted a policy that is implemented by the bill now before the House.
Before I leave the honorable member for Gwydir, I want to refer to his telling argument, which is the basis for the position of the Australian Country Party. He said that Australia is a trading nation and our costs must be kept in line with those of the rest of the world. Presumably he means in line with such countries as Japan, where waterside workers work eleven hours a day and have two days off every month or three days if there are 31 days in the month. Such conditions for waterside workers would please the gaunt member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes). Every time I hear him speaking about trade unionists, I can bear the whips cracking. The honorable member no doubt would be delighted if we adopted the conditions that prevail in Japan. These are the conditions that the Australian people are asked to use as a measuring rod by our friends from the Country Party. 1 say to members of the Country Party that the Australian people will not accept those conditions as a measuring rod, even to please the Country Party.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports pointed out the critical economic fact which faces the people of Australia in the. next ten years. We will have to find employment in Australia in that period for 1,300,000 more people. We found employment for 450,000 more in the last ten years. How will we find employment for three times as many people in the next ten years? Can honorable members opposite do this by talking about keeping down wages and bringing our costs into line with countries such as Japan? The Australian people will not accept the economic policy of the Country Party. They demand full employment and a faster rate of economic growth than we have had in the past. The proof of this is in the decision that was given on 9th December last. Then the people of Australia voted against unemployment and against recession and depression.
The honorable member for Gwydir was on easy ground in taking these problems so lightly. But for a moment he faced the fact that he must state an alternative. It took him quite some time to get towards it and he then said, “ Something has to be done to marshal the forces of industry”. He used the word “ marshal “. Then he thought, “That is a bad word to use; it suggests planning, organization and doing something”. So he turned away from the word “ marshal “ and used the word “ encourage “. How will this encouragement be given? Over the past ten years, private profits have been at fantastic levels. How much more encouragement does private industry need than it has had over the past ten years? Of course, the honorable member for Gwydir is very upset. He is not only worried about Mr. Chamberlain, the secretary of the Australian Labour Party, and the activities of the Australian Labour Party, but he thinks Mr. Staniforth Ricketson has gone socialist. He is most upset at the thought that this wealthy stockbroker has departed from what he considers to be careful methods - methods that appeal to the Australian Country Party. Mr. Staniforth Ricketson is now a subject of fear for the honorable member for Gwydir. When will these changes stop? Why, one day even a Minister may begin to look like a socialist!
The honorable member for Gwydir wants us to leave the decisions that must be made to the private sector of the economy. Let us have a look at the record of the private sector of the economy, when decisions were left almost completely to it. Thirty years ago the private sector of the economy made decisions which determined the level of unemployment at 30 per cent. Honorable members opposite need not suggest that for eighteen months a Labour government was in office; it was unable to interfere with the decisions of the private sector. The power of the decisions in the ‘thirties was the power of private business, forced on this Parliament against the will of those who had been elected to it. This was done through a majority in another place. The decisions that led to the depression of the thirties were the decisions of the private sector, just as the decisions which gave us inflation in 1951-52 when prices increased at the rate of 25 per cent, in each year, were the decisions of the private sector, expressed through business enterprise and through representatives in the Liberal and Australian Country Parties in this place. The record of the private sector is a record of depression and of inflation. The people of Australia are not prepared to accept this retarded line that comes from the Australian Country Party and is expressed by the honorable member for Gwydir.
Let us take a look at this bill. It is called a Loan Bill. This is a euphemism. To call it a loan bill is to hide its real significance. What this bill does is to authorize the issue of £60,000,000 of new money from the central bank. It is purely and simply what was called a few years ago a fiduciary notes measure, a new money measure. It is purely a matter of turning on the printing presses and allowing them to print £60,000,000 of new money. This is the kind of thing which the propaganda machines of the 1930’s used to put fear and apprehension into the minds of the people. This is the kind of measure that the Scullin Government wanted to introduce in the 1930’s to get a mere £18,000,000 to afford relief of unemployment and £7,000,000 to subsidize wheat-growers who were supposed to be represented in this Parliament by the Australian Country Party. At that time honorable members of the same political colour as those who now sit opposite told the people that the Scullin Government was proposing a revolutionary step. They opposed the measure in every way they could.
This is not a loan bill. It is simply a device to authorize the central bank to meet the accounts of the Government to the extent of £60,000,000, purely and simply by the issue of new money. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) does not say this, of course. I do not know whether he deliberately tried to hide the real significance of the bill, but in the second-reading speech he said -
The purpose of this bill is to obtain loan authority to finance the probable cash deficit which will now, of course, be greater than that previously estimated because of the measures we have recently proposed.
I think only once in the history of this Parliament has any official admitted precisely the nature of this kind of measure. That official happened to be the Prime Minister. The last time a bill of this nature was introduced into the Parliament was on 24th September, 1959. It was introduced by the Prime Minister, and not by the Treasurer, and the right honorable gentleman said -
As was explained in the recent Budget speech, the Government is budgeting this financial year for an overall cash deficiency of £61,000,000. That is to say, total receipts of the Commonwealth from revenue, public borrowings and other usual sources are expected to fall short of total expenditure commitments by £61,000,000. The intention is to finance this deficit by borrowing from the Central Bank.
When introducing the measure now before us the Treasurer made no reference to borrowing from the central bank. He carefully avoided any reference to such a procedure. All that the bill will do, as I have said, is to turn on the printing presses. This has now become a traditional procedure. It has become accepted practice. But when Labour Party spokesmen during the last election campaign proposed economic policies which might have required the use of this same procedure, the Prime Minister went up and down the country declaring that such policies were fantastic and irresponsible and would cause uncontrolled inflation if implemented. Let me read to the House what the same right honorable gentleman said in this Parliament during a debate on 19th August, 1958, as reported at page 493 of “ Hansard “ -
We have accepted the radical course of budgeting for a large cash deficiency in order to counteract the deflationary effect of falling exports. The point that astonishes me about the whole of this discussion, public and parliamentary, is that it has been so inadequately realized that to accept a cash deficiency of £110,000,000 in a country such as this in one year is itself radical finance, because it means that we are creating purchasing power to that extent beyond the level of production and services. Therefore, if I may say so, this is a rather adventurous policy. It is a. policy which very few people would have contemplated fifteen or twenty years ago.
– Who said that?
– The Prime Minister said said that, the same right honorable gentleman who said just over a year later, when we proposed a similar course, that it was fantastic and irresponsible. He continued his speech with these remarks: -
It is a policy which we have learned to understand and, at need, to apply because of the lessons we have learned from the somewhat restrictive policies of 25 years ago.
That was the expressed opinion of the Prime Minister, who said last December that we could not adopt such a course. Where is the sincerity of this right honorable gentleman, this great actor upon the political stage of Australia, this constant seeker after the spotlight, who can do no better than to produce from time to time a Shakespearean proposition with which to bedazzle the electors? I must say that, astonishingly enough, he has got away with a great deal of these propositions, but I doubt that he will manage to get away with this one.
As I have said, the bill proposes to obtain from the central bank, if necessary, £60,000,000 of new money. It is not £6,000 or £60,000 or £600,000 but £60,000,000. This radical procedure, as the Prime Minister chose to describe it in 1958, is being adopted in order to obtain money to meet the purposes of the Government. These have arisen, as we know, from increased expenditure in a number of directions to which I will refer in a few minutes. But this £60,000,000 is not associated with the increased amounts of expenditure, as one would have expected. If the Government is going to allow an income tax rebate or a sales tax rebate, or to make an investment allowance, one would have expected that this £60,000,000 would have been related to those allowances. But this is not so. The Minister said in his speech that the £60,000,000 is to be used for certain purposes, £37,000,000 for war and defence expenditure and the remainder for the redemption of war securities. First, £37,000,000 will be used to meet expenditure on war and defence services. The Commonwealth Bank will be authorized to meet by the issue of treasury-bills, cheques paid for war and defence services. The Commonwealth Bank will have to meet claims in respect of this kind of expenditure. The other £23,000,000 is to meet the demands of people redeeming their war securities, people who do not wish to put their money back into loans but who want cash. They will obtain their cash from the Commonwealth Bank.
Exactly the same kind of thing was done in 1958. At that time a loan bill was introduced in similar form to this one, the amount involved being £110,000,000, of which £78,000,000 was for war and defence expenditure and £32,000,000 to redeem securities. I often wonder why it is that the Government chooses to adopt this method. Why is it that when we are authorizing the central bank to issue a large volume of new money, the Government ear-marks that new money for war and defence purposes and for the redemption of war securities? I would like the Minister at the table to give me an answer to that question. Why does the Government select these two purposes to be covered by the new money? I ask this question because this choice has a very interesting effect. I refer the House to the budget-papers for 1961-62, page 91. There we see a table giving interest liability on various kinds of expenditure. The table shows interest liability on war expenditure and on expenditure for works and other purposes. It has been the practice of this Government to use for war purposes the cheapest money it can get. It has used revenue predominantly. If it has not used revenue, it has used money drawn from the central bank. It has used for war purposes the cheapest money it could get, and it has used more expensive money for works and other services.
The effect of this has been that the interest bill on war expenditure was £45,800,000 in 1948-49, when this Government came into office, £46,000,000 in 1949-50 and only £27,900,000 in 1960-61. On the other hand, the cost of interest in the sector of the economy concerned with works and other services was £5,100,000 in 1948-49, £6,000,000 in 1949-50 and £23,000,000 in 1960-61. So the interest cost for works and other services, under this Government’s financial methods, has increased more than four times in twelve years and the interest cost in the war sector of the economy has fallen from £45,800,000 to £27,900,000. What is the reason for this? Why has the Government chosen to discriminate in favour of the war sector of the economy and against the sector concerned with works and other services? Why does the Government attempt to provide money as cheaply as possible for the war sector of the economy and use for works and other services only the more expensive money that is left?
I now want to discuss another point or two in relation to this bill, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The first question that arises was touched on by the honorable member for Gwydir. He fears that this bill may be going too far. He fears that by adding £60,000,000 to the funds that would otherwise be available for expenditure we may be going too far. Honorable members know how this additional money will be spent. The Treasurer, answering a question by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton), detailed how these additional funds will be spent. This information is given in a table which appears in “ Hansard “ of 27th March, at page 1006, and I do not propose to read it to the House now.
The question that arises is: What is the significance of this increased expenditure? We are authorizing the central bank to issue £60,000,000 under the terms of this measure, but the Government expects to increase expenditure by only £53,400,000 in the period referred to - a period of about four months. So the significant amount now is £53,400,000 and not £60,000,000. What is the significance in the Australian economy to-day of an amount of £53,400,000? Its significance can be measured only by looking at the existing level of expenditure. Total market expenditure in 1960-61 was £8,560,000,000. The Government chooses to add to that amount £53,400,000 in a period of just over four months. Over a full year, that would amount to about £160,200,000. This is more than the Australian Labour Party, as outlined in its policy speech for the general election last year, proposed to spend. If the Government does not propose to keep up this rate of expenditure, will it chop the rate back in June or in the next Budget? Will it abandon the tax remissions and the increased depreciation allowances which have been given to industry? Will it take back the money that it has given to the States? Will it do those things or will it continue this expenditure throughout the next year? That, of course, is a problem with which the Government has to wrestle. Let us suppose, however, that expenditure will continue at the same rate, representing £160,200,000 in a full year.
Compared to the enormous total of £8,560,000,000 that was spent last financial year, an additional £160,200,000 represents an increase of only about 1.75 per cent. According to the Government’s figures, we have unemployment of very nearly 3 per cent. So the percentage increase in expenditure that the Government proposes represents little more than half the percentage of unemployment. In these circumstances, is it any wonder that the research director of the Australian Bankers Association - an association in which all the free-enterprise banks in this country are associated - sees fit now to direct attention to the £700,000,000 available in bank overdrafts and not being used? He pointed this out and then said -
But the overdrafts are not being drawn. Bankers are willing to lend but people are not borrowing.
That is the critical situation that exists in Australia to-day. Although considerably more than 100,000 people are unemployed and the total number of people for whom employment will have to be found in the next twelve months is 250,000, not 112,000, according to this gentleman overdrafts are not being drawn. I repeat that he said -
Bankers are willing to lend but people are not borrowing.
The bankers cannot lend to the people; so they are putting money into the Government’s loans. The Government takes pride in that fact and takes credit to itself for the situation. The research director of the Australian Bankers Association went on to say -
It will not be terribly much longer before the new economic measures of the Government, together with new bank lending, will get the economy back to normal, with full employment.
That is a most optimistic conclusion. If all that the Government proposes to do is to increase the existing level of expenditure by about 1.75 per cent., it will make no real contribution at all to expanding the economy.
I think that the conclusion reported by the Bank of New South Wales in its quarterly review published to-day is much closer to the truth. That review states that there are evident few signs that Australia is any closer to solving the longer-term problems posed by inflation. It goes on to state that these problems include -
The over-expansion of some branches of manufacturing industry.
The unfavourable terms of trade of many of the primary industries.
The distortions apparent within the financial system.
These are the things that are holding back the development of industry in Australia and preventing business men from going to the banks and making use of the money that is available. The losses incurred during the credit squeeze, also, are of extreme significance. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports pointed out that over the last twelve months there has been a reduction of 46,400 in the number of people employed although, over the same period, an additional 80,000 or 90,000 people have joined the labour force. This means that during the last twelve months at least 126,000 fewer people have been employed than could have been employed. Let us assume that each one of these could have added £1,000 to the national income. Our national income, then, at the very minimum, is down by £126,000,000 at the outset.
– -Order! I remind the honorable member that we are discussing a bill to authorize the raising and expending of a sum not exceeding £60,000,000 for defence purposes.
- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I think it should be clear to the House and to everybody that this measure has a primary and close relation to the level of employment in the economy. The principal purpose of this bill concerns the level of employment, and to restrict discussion of the measure to narrower limits would perhaps be to prevent honorable members from adequately debating it. If I may say so, I suggest with respect that the forms of the House should not be used for such a purpose.
– You are an arrogant-
– Do you think so? You should be a good judge of arrogance. Does not the honorable member agree? Would he like the forms of the House to be used to restrict discussion of this measure? No doubt he would, because that would prevent discussion of unemployment and all the mistakes of the Government. But it would prevent also, adequate discussion of this measure, and I submit that the forms of the House should not be used for that purpose.
As the time allotted to me has almost expired I want to sum up in a few words the significance of this measure. In a sense, this is a radical bill which authorizes the issue of £60,000,000 of new money.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I desire to make a personal explanation, Mr. Deputy Speaker. At the beginning of his speech the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) stated that I had incorrectly quoted a sentence from the policy speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) during the last election campaign. The sentence which I read during my remarks is in these terms -
Labour will restore full employment within twelve months and will introduce a supplementary budget in February for a deficit of £100,000,000.
If I heard the honorable member correctly, he said that I had claimed that the Leader of the Opposition had stated that he would introduce a budget providing for a deficit of £60,000,000 or £70,000,000. During my remarks I mentioned £100,000,000, the figure used by the Leader of the Opposition in his policy speech.
– I, too, desire to make a personal explanation, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) has misrepresented what I said. I stated that he had misquoted the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) who had said that the Labour Party’s policy speech involved an increased expenditure of £60,000,000. By that he meant that that amount would be spent over a period of six months, at the rate of £120,000,000 per annum. That does not conflict with the Labour Party’s policy and is not contradicted by what the honorable member for Gwydir has had to say.
– Although the views of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) and my own views on many economic questions are poles apart, I respect his ability and diligence. It is surprising that at a time when economic questions are becoming not less but more important in our affairs he should have been no longer on the Opposition front bench.
I felt, and I think other honorable members also felt, that early in his speech he misrepresented rather badly the general tenor of the remarks of the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) in relation to costs. Surely from whatever party view point you look at this matter, the cost at which our exports can be produced is vital to our future economic life. When a reference by an honorable member to the need to keep our costs down is immediately interpreted by some one else as an argument in favour of reproducing in Australia conditions of the kind that are found in Japan, where, so we are told, the people work eleven hours a day and earn very low wages, it is obvious that the problem is being highly distorted. To suggest that any one who wishes to keep down costs in Australia automatically is advocating these conditions of labour for Australia is a far-fetched and a very serious misrepresentation of what the honorable member for Gwydir said.
The honorable member for Yarra said that for some time profits in Australia had been high. So they had. There is now a lull, and it is regrettable that a mere lull in profits comes as such a surprise to so many people that their sense of perspective is lost completely. The honorable member for Gwydir made this point very well. No doubt profits and wages have been high, and if there has recently been an interruption in profit growth this is purely a temporary condition. Undoubtedly, in due course, there will be a revival. As the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) pointed out - this matter was touched on also by the honorable member for Yarra - in the next few years we shall have an enormous increase in our work force, and from the very best source - native-born Australians. This is, of course, a reflection of the high birth rate since the end of the war and the general economic prosperity which has prevailed.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports made a number of points. Curiously enough, he stated that deficit budgeting had now apparently become respectable in the eyes of the Government - as if deficit budgeting was something new. However, the honorable member for Yarra recalled that deficit budgeting was no new thing to the Government. Nor is it. There were deficits in 1958-59 and in 1959-60. This Government has sought a budget deficit or a budget surplus according to prevailing economic conditions. No doubt this will continue to be the Government’s very sensible approach.
When mentioning the background to the bill the honorable member for Melbourne Ports made the very useful point, with which I agree entirely, that the significance of this measure lies not in the particular point to which it is addressed - borrowing for defence purposes - but in its overall effect on the economy. Obviously, this is the sensible financial way of dealing with the overall deficit which has been created in the ways mentioned by both the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the honorable member for Yarra. As the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has said, how this is done is not of very much importance. At this point he was at some variance with the honorable member for Yarra who asked why the matter should be handled in this way. In fact, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports said, the way in which it is handled is of no great significance. It is done in this way as a means of covering a cash deficiency. Whether it is for borrowing for one Government purpose or another, or for one form of expenditure or another, is a matter of no moment. It amounts to a mere shuffling of accounts, which has the same overall effect.
The honorable member for Yarra also asked why the cost of interest on borrowings for war purposes had fallen, lt is sensible and sane policy to give attention over the years to reducing that element of debt which was caused by the war and which has no continuing productive purpose in the economy. It is sound bookkeeping practice to write off this element and’ to retain those elements which cover and represent economic assets of one kind or another.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports also referred to the big increase of bank holdings of government securities which has occurred over the last twelve months. The figures he quoted, which I have had no opportunity to check but which 1 do not doubt in any way, indicate an increase from £238,300,000 to £462,200,000. This is a natural kind of movement. Investment by banks in government securities varies according to the prevailing financial climate and the demands of clients for advances. He stated that the buoyancy of the loan market was the result of the banks’ actions. Of course, the. buoyancy of the loan market is very largely a reflection of the lower demand for funds and the additional funds which purposely have been made available to stimulate the economy. However, 1 cannot .:ree with him that there is any great significance in the fact that the banks by this process may earn 4 per cent, interest. In any case, banks usually invest their assets, apart from those which they have to keep with the central bank, in some income-earning securities, whether they be government securities, loans to the money market or advances to their customers. This is not really a matter which has any great significance.
The honorable member tor Melbourne Ports also referred to a number of matters which are, ot course, important. He dwelt for some time on the subject of new machinery which, in manufacturing industries, displaces men. In other words, t.ie output rises more than the numbers of men employed. He cited some very impressive figures from Canada on this subject, but .he implied that this is a matter which nas not been considered by the Government, oy official circles or by government instrumentalities. Of course, this is a vital point, which governs the improvement of our standard of living. The very fact that machinery is put in, ana men are displaced, enables expansion to take place elsewhere in the economy. Apart from the immediate activity of the Government in watching those things and endeavouring, through the Commonwealth employment service, to place in employment those who have been displaced, general measures can be taken to stimulate the economy when men become available through this process. These men can go into other occupations, and open up new occupations which raise the standard of living.
There is no doubt that as our economy develops, more and more people will go into the manufacturing industries, but the natural tendency is that, in relation to the total population, the proportion of people engaged in both primary and secondary industry will decline. In primary industry the proportion has been declining for some time. I, unfortunately, have not got the figures here at the moment, because my remarks have been prompted by those of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, but I believe that in the United
States of America for a long period there has been very little growth in the actual number - and certainly not in the- proportion - of those engaged in manufacturing industry. The course of economic progress entails more and more people being absorbed in the tertiary industries - commerce, finance, transport, distribution and travel. Travel is an enormous new industry which adds very considerably to the standard of living and the general enjoyment of the fruits of economic progress. More people become available to undertake education and research and all the other such ancillary economic activities, and it would be a mistake to imagine that most of our increase in population will find its way into manufacturing industry. As new machinery comes in it frees men to be absorbed in other occupations, and to develop new avenues of employment.
The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) quoted some very wise remarks, I thought, by that well-known banking figure, Mr. Rockefeller. I am only sorry that the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) and others who interjected to ask, “ Who is he? “, do not occasionally read some of his remarks, because those remarks are full of wisdom. However, it Was interesting indeed to note the remarks of the honorable member for Scullin, They made it apparent that he favours a capital gains tax. It will be interesting to hear more, in due course, from the honorable member for Scullin and other honorable members opposite about the kind of capital gains tax that they would propose. I presume that I am not misrepresenting the honorable member for Scullin in saying that he is very much in favour of a capital gains tax.
– My word I ami
– They have one in America.
– Yes, they have, but in a very mild kind of way. I shall look forward to hearing the ideas of the Labour Party developed further in regard to a capital gains tax.
I should like to make one or two general remarks about the economy because, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports rightly pointed out, the significance of this bill is not the actual financial mechanism involved in it, but its effect on the economy. The stage is now set in Australia for a marked economic recovery. The financial system is liquid. More money is available now for lending than has been the case for a very considerable time, and the future course very largely depends upon the behaviour of private individuals and business interests. As our economy is - and I hope it will long remain so - most of our people operate in conditions of economic freedom. The making of decisions governing the level of business activity, whom it shall employ and in which direction it shall go is widely diffused throughout the community. That is a point readily recognized and somewhat deplored by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). But there is, Sir, at this moment, a wonderful opportunity for business people and private individuals if they have the good sense to take advantage of it.
Any firm engaged in business should look at the scene and realize what has been pointed out by both the honorable member for Yarra and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports - that there will be, over the next few years, an enormous increase of population. There will be an even greater proportionate increase in the work force. All the people represented by the increase will be found employment. They will all be spending, and there will inevitably be a further considerable growth in the Australian economy - probably even greater than there has been in the last ten years. I notice that even Professor Sir Douglas Copland, whom nobody would accuse of being a supporter of the Government recently said that our growth in the last decade or so was altogether a creditable performance. We are entering a new period of growth. At the moment we have liquid funds, unused resources and stability of prices and costs. Any firm which wishes to expand will not find a better opportunity than now, probably for many years to come. There will be a lift in population and in demand. The borrowing opportunities are good. It only remains for these people to gain confidence somehow.
If people contemplating expansion wait like sheep till the whole mob jumps in a particular direction they will find, when they come to undertake expansion schemes, that they will be jostling with others in a wild scramble for materials and men. Therefore, Sir, if we are to give people outside any advice mine would1 certainly be this: If you have expansion in mind and are hesitant, you are foolish to hesitate because the quicker you undertake your plans the cheaper they will be to carry out.
– Does that apply to the motor industry?
– That is probably a special case.
– You will find a few interested in the subsidiary firms as well.
– I would say that expansion of the ancillary firms connected with the motor industry, and other things tied up with it, is bound to resume. I am not one of those who believe that there will not be considerable fluctuations in the motor industry, but in general a future of upward growth is almost certain. What applies to firms applies also to private individuals. Those people who want to add rooms to their houses, to paint them or to have other jobs done, could not choose a better moment than now. If private individuals and private firms were to realize this, economic recovery would not be far off.
.- I rise to speak on behalf of the Opposition. The two previous Labour Party speakers, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), are recognized as the two best-informed speakers on economic affairs in this chamber. They outlined Labour’s proposals and pointed out the weaknesses of this bill. From the other side, we had the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan), who, like all members of the Country Party, wants to socialize his losses and capitalize his gains, and the Minister for Air (Mr. Bury). The Minister made a dreary speech and said very little about the future policy of the Government. He said that the cost of exports was very important to Australia. Surely the cost of imports also is very important to Australia. May I remind the Minister that it was his Government that wiped out import restrictions in February, 1960, and thereby allowed a flood of imports to come into this country, causing mass unemployment. The effect was that 131,000 persons were put out of work. Even though the Government had imposed import restrictions from 1953 to 1960, it has had a deficit trading balance, during its term of office, amounting to £1,600,000,000. This will become greater due to the wiping out of import restrictions.
We must, as the Minister said, be concerned about the cost of our exports - and the Labour Party is concerned about that - but we must also be concerned about the cost of imports. The parrots from the Country Party corner, who are attempting to interject, surely should be concerned about import costs. We know that the forces they represent want import restrictions to be wiped, but certain manufacturing industries are anxious for the restrictions to be re-introduced.
– Order! I think the honorable member for Reid should remember that this bill has nothing to do with import controls. He must connect his remarks with the bill in some way. A fair amount of liberty has been allowed in this debate, but I think the honorable member should take some notice of the fact that the measure before the House is a bill to authorize the raising and expending of a sum not exceeding £60,000,000 for defence purposes.
- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I was just making a passing reference to a statement made by the Minister about the need to be concerned with the cost exports. I want to remind honorable members opposite that we on this side of the House are concerned about the flood of imports coming into this country.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, as you are aware, when the Government brought down its Budget last year it was not necessary at that time to issue treasury-bills or to engage in deficit budgeting to the extent of £60,000,000 in order to finance defence expenditure. It is only because of the recession caused by the Government that this proposal has had to be brought forward. We on this side of the House are not opposed to deficit budgeting in principle. We support intelligent deficit budgeting, but we are opposed to financing the armed forces to the extent of £41,000,000 by issuing treasury-bills. That is what this legislation proposes. The intention is to issue treasurybills to the value of £60,000,000 and to use £41,000,000 for the purposes of defence expenditure and £19,000,000 for the purpose of paying off, re-purchasing or redeeming Commonwealth securities issued for war purposes. In other words, the whole of the £60,000,000 is to be used for war purposes.
This form of budgeting has been used before by the Government. It was used in 1958-59 and again in 1959-60. We opposed the Government’s proposals then and said that deficit budgeting should produce a tangible, revenue-producing asset of value to the nation. Recently the Opposition supported the Government’s proposal to raise £7,500,000 for State housing and to give a stimulus to the economy. That stimulus was needed because the Government had created mass unemployment and caused a downward trend in the building industry. A radical proposal was brought forward by the Government - a proposal to print treasury-bills to the value of £7,500,000. What did the Opposition say on that occasion? It said that the amount should be larger. The Government was prepared to spend only £7,500,000 on housing, but it is prepared to spend £41,000,000 on defence. The Government has spent more than £2,000,000,000 on defence during the twelve years it has been in office, yet it has nothing to show for it.
The Opposition believes that defence money should be diverted to national development. Portion of the money that the Government has voted for defence should be used to build better roads, standard-gauge railways, better port installations and better airstrips. Those things are vital to the defence of the nation. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) are interjecting. I remind them that on 29th March, 1960, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) made a statement in this House. I might say that that was the most recent on defence made on behalf of this Government. The Minister said -
In a country with limited resources such as Australia, which has heavy and continuing commitments for national development, the scale of the defence effort must be determined by priorities. Large sums of money must be found for the wide range of projects aimed at developing our natural resources and expanding our industrial capacity, such as the Snowy Mountains scheme, the improvement of communications, the search for oil, and so on.
Only this morning the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said that this Government’s total expenditure on the search for oil was only £7,000,000. Although oil is the greatest potential defence asset that Australia possesses, this Government has spent only £7,000,000 on the search for oil during the whole of its term of office. In the same period it has expended £2,000,000,000 on defence but has nothing at all to show for that expenditure. We are hammering the point that the Government proposes to use this loan for something which will not produce anything and will not stimulate the economy. This is the sort of mess the Government has got the economy into because its revenue has not matched its estimates. It simply says, “ We will do as we have done in the past and close up the gap- “
Now the Government intends to meet our defence commitments by issuing treasury-bills to the extent of £41,000,000. This is in line with the hypocrisy of the Government on 29th March, 1960, when its spokesman said it bad to spend more money on the Snowy Mountains project. The Government is going to borrow 100,000,000 dollars of overseas capital for the Snowy Mountains project and thus put the country further into debt. Already this Government has put Australia into debt to the extent of £1,600,000,000. The nation should realize that fact; it is a guilty government. It is now going to borrow 100,000,000 dollars for the development of the Snowy Mountains project. It should utilize its present overseas reserves, which exceed £500,000,000 to raise 100,000,000 dollars, which is about £44,000,000 Australian, instead of borrowing the money overseas. The Government should not go further into debt. We on this side of the House support the principle of deficit budgeting; but we oppose the expenditure of £60,000,000 on implements of war when such expenditure will produce nothing and will not benefit the nation at all. That money would be better devoted to national development to give a stimulus to the economy and thus put the mass of unemployed back to work.
Labour’s policy at the recent election was to give a stimulus to the economy in order to overcome unemployment and restore confidence in the community. We proposed to double child endowment and to increase age and widows’ pensions.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, 1 rise to order. I suggest that the raising of money for defence purposes has nothing to do with child endowment or age and widows’ pensions.
– The Chair upholds the point of order. The honorable member for Reid has been given a fair degree of latitude. He must relate his remarks to the measures before the chair.
– May I point out, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) said that the expenditure of this money would give a stimulus to the economy. I am trying to prove that it will not do so and that the only way to stimulate the economy is to do what the Australian Labour Party has proposed. The Government talks about inflation, but it is the greatest architect of inflation this country has ever known. It is an indirect-taxation government. It has increased sales tax collections from £37,000,000 in 1949 to £170,000,000 this year.
– On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I submit there is no mention of sales tax or any other form of taxation in the bill under discussion.
– Order! 1 have warned the honorable member for Reid. I ask him to confine his remarks to the measure before the chair.
– Government supporters do not like criticism; they just cannot take it. Whenever a member of the Opposition makes a particular point an honorable member opposite raises a point of order. Government supporters say that this expenditure will stimulate the economy, whereas in fact it will only close a gap which has resulted from the recession brought about by the Government’s policy. There are many ways in which a stimulus can be given to the economy.
I ask members of the Country Party to note that the white paper on income tax shows that farm income is the same to-day as it was in the first year of office of this Government. In 1949-50 farm income was £466,000,000, and in 1960-61 it was £467,000,000. I notice a sudden hush in the Country Party corner of the House. Now let us compare the income of big monopoly companies with that of the farming community. Company profits have increased from £234,000,000 iri 1949-50 to £730,000,000 this year, but in that period farm income has remained the same. I conclude on this point: We support the principle of deficit budgeting. We are in favour of deficit budgeting when it is used in an intelligent way to stimulate industry. If the Government used the £41,000,000 which it proposes to spend on defence and the £19,000,000 which it proposes to use to pay off the debt on defence expenditure to assist the States and local government to provide housing in this country the money would be spent more wisely and would thus reduce the number of unemployed.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am happy to see the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) and a few other members of the Australian Country Party in the House.
– They are about the only ones here. How many Opposition members are here?
– It is significant that one or two of them are awake to-day. So they will be able to absorb the words of wisdom that I shall utter in a few moments.
– We do not hear words of wisdom from you.
– There is a well-known expression to the effect that empty vessels make the most sound.
– Order! The honorable member will relate his remarks to the bill.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Doubtless you realize that I was subjected to severe provocation. I was replying to some unruly interjections which I thought might well have been silenced. Honorable members opposite endeavoured to ridicule, to criticize and to interject when the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) and other speakers on this side of the House brought forward many of the shortcomings of the Government in relation to its economic policy, and particularly in relation to defence and the reason for which this money is to be raised. I could well understand the discomfiture of honorable members opposite as the honorable member for Reid advanced telling arguments against the attitude of this Government and the policies it has announced. I can well understand why honorable members opposite desired to escape criticism in relation to the all-important matter of defence, which is a major point in this discussion.
I can well understand why this measure is being discussed to-day. It is because of the devastation that was wrought on 9th December last when the Government was almost voted out of office following its failure in relation to defence in particular and its economic policy generally. It is proposed that £41,000,000 of the borrowing shall be used directly for defence purposes. But the bill is related also to measures which the Government has recently adopted in order to stimulate the economy. For that reason, there is wide scope for us to bring to the notice of honorable members the Government’s economic policy.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said in his second-reading speech -
When I introduced the 1961-62 Budget, 1 estimated that the Commonwealth would have an overall cash deficit of £16,300,000 in the current financial year, and I indicated that the Government would be seeking loan authority foi the raising of treasury-bills to finance that deficit. The purpose of this bill is to obtain loan authority to finance the probable cash deficit which will now, of course, be greater than that previously estimated because of the measures we have recently proposed.
Why have those measures been recently proposed, Mr. Deputy Speaker? That is a question we might well ask the Treasurer. This bill has been introduced only because the Government received a severe set-back at the hands of the Australian people. This is a death-bed repentance in relation to the policies the Government has been following and which almost destroyed it but which completely destroyed the stability of our country.
I like to record, in relation to each of the economic measures the Government has introduced, the repentance it has shown, and to emphasize that the stimulus which the Government says it is now giving to the economy is the result of the fact that the electors exacted full retribution on 9th December last because of the Government’s incapacity. I note that those honorable members who were so voluble a few moments ago are now silent. They know full well that what I say is true. In the decimated ranks of the Country Party and the depleted ranks of the Liberal Party can be found the reason why this measure has been introduced and why we are now debating it. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) is interjecting. Let him interject while he may, because at the rate the Government » going this Parliament will provide him with his first and last opportunity.
In his second-reading speech, the Treasurer continued -
It is, necessarily, somewhat difficult to estimate precisely what amount the cash deficit will prove to be.
There is no doubt about that. The Treasurer would not know from day to day what his policy was and could not estimate within millions of pounds what a deficit may or may not be. I doubt whether in our time - the right honorable gentleman has had plenty of competition - we have seen a more incompetent Treasurer or one whose estimates of expenditure and income have been more out of focus. For once, the Minister made a truthful statement in that part of his speech. He continued -
For one thing, if estimates of either revenues or expenditures vary from the result by only about 1 per cent.-
That would be a very narrow margin - the effect on that overall result could be of the order of £20,000,000.
So, on the Treasurer’s estimate, we may well want another £20,000,000. There is no saying whether the amount proposed to be borrowed will be the amount required, because the Treasurer says he cannot estimate. The right honorable gentleman then said -
The Government proposes, therefore, to provide against such uncertainties by seeking authority to borrow an amount which may prove to be somewhat more than is required to finance the deficit for the current financial year.
Is it not strange to hear the Treasurer saying that the amount to be raised may well be more than will be required?
This is the action of a government which condemned the Labour Party at the last general election for what it described as inflationary proposals. We proposed that the economy should be stimulated by the injection of £100,000,000 to give employment to 131,000 men and women who have been unable to get it under this tory Administration. If it were not for the fact that this Government’s policy led to that state of affairs, and if it were not for the fact that the Labour Party said it would adopt such proposals to stimulate the economy, the honorable member for Moore would not be here now and other honorable members would not be around. The honorable member for Moore is here to-day because he obtained Labour Party preferences and because of the people’s dissatisfaction with his co-partner in crime in the electorate - the Liberal candidate whom he defeated at the recent election. We hope he will be turned out at the next election, because we are not very happy about the attitude he has adopted since he was elected on Labour’s policy. In regard to the honorable member for Moore, it seems that we have not been particularly good judges in allocating our preferences.
The Treasurer also said in his secondreading speech -
It is proposed that the proceeds of the borrowing be applied to finance expenditure on Defence Services to the extent of £41,000,000 . . .
What is this sum of £41,000,000 to be spent on? Is it to be spent on equipment for the defence of this country? Will it be used for necessary equipment for the Navy, the Army and the Air Force so that they may adequately defend Australia, or is it to be used to increase the pay of high-ranking officers in the services and for increased administrative costs? Later in my speech I shall refer to a matter that I have raised in the Parliament before. I refer to the fact that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) has said that the Army, has more officers than other ranks. If this money is to be spent to increase the number of officers at the expense of the number of other ranks, we may well challenge the expenditure and ask the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) exactly what will be done with the money. These are important matters. We should know what will happen to this sum of £41,000,000 and whether the expenditure will stimulate the economy as the Government has suggested.
The proceeds of the borrowing, therefore, are to be spent wholly on defence purposes. Not only the £41,000,000 I have mentioned but also the other £19,000,000 is to be allocated for defence purposes. Let us remind the people of Australia that since this Government assumed office in 1949 more than £2,000,000,000 has been spent on defence. The Labour Party has never criticized expenditure on defence.
Government Supporters. - Oh!
– I am pleased that honorable members are still awake and are listening to a very informative speech. I repeat that the Labour Party has never criticized expenditure on defence. But the methods of expenditure employed by this incompetent Government are subject to challenge by the Opposition and the people of Australia. Less than a couple of years ago Sir Frederick Shedden said that even after the expenditure of £2,000,000,000 on defence this country was never more defenceless in its history. With great crises confronting us, our defences to-day are equally as suspect as they were in 1939. The honorable member for Reid said earlier that almost a couple of years have elapsed since the Minister for Defence made a full-scale announcement to the Parliament in relation to our defences. As has been stated here previously, this Government’s defence policy has been changed as many times as has its economic policy.
Who will ever forget the Government’s policy on national service training? A total of about £150,000,000 was spent on national service training which the Government said was one of the basic features of the defence of this country. After spending that money the Government gradually whittled down the scheme and then completely abandoned it, saying that it was unnecessary to the defence of this country. Men who undertook this training with the best of intentions wasted their time for weeks on end because of the failure of the
Government to introduce a scheme which was in keeping with the requirements of this modern age. Experiments unlimited! The Centurion tanks should never be forgotten because the Minister for the Army has not yet proved that what the Opposition said on that subject was incorrect. Money has been wasted on Centurion tanks just as millions of pounds have been wasted on the national service training scheme which was absolutely useless in a time of crisis.
The Labour Party agrees that we must have adequate defence, and that therefore there must be defence expenditure. Let me remind Government supporters that only under a Labour government during the last great war were we able to get the equipment that was needed if this country was to survive. Men were fighting in New Guinea and in other places ill-equipped by a government similar in politics to this one. The present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who was also the Prime Minister then, had to capitulate to his political opponents because this country’s defences were inadequate. The members of the Government that was elected in 1939 were guilty men because of their defence policy. The only political party which has ever introduced effective defence policies has been the Australian Labour Party. It is difficult ro pick out the worst feature of Liberal policy over the years. You could use this as a question on a quiz show, and it would be hard to get the right answer, but I would say that no government could have a worse record in defence matters than Liberal governments have. The former Whip of the Liberal Party, Mr. Joe Gullett, wrote an article for the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ not long ago in which he was most critical of what he considered to be the incompetence of the Government in regard to defence.
I see in the House the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) who has given some constructive views on defence to this Parliament. The Government did not like them but they are the only constructive views that we have heard from the Government side on this subject. The Government’s defence policy is suspect even amongst its own supporters. In fact very few of them know what the policy is from day to day. Is it any wonder that we on this side of the House want to know whether something is being obtained for the expenditure on defence or whether it is being squandered in such a way that there will be nothing to show but topheavy administration maintained at the expense of equipment and adequate defence services generally?
On 11th May, 1961, I placed on the notice-paper question No. 22, addressed to the Minister for the Army, which read as follows: -
How many (a) officers, (b) non-commissioned officers, and (c) men are at present in the Australian Military Forces?
I received the following answer from the Minister for the Army: -
I then wrote a letter to the Minister in which I said - in the A.R.A. there is a total of 10,824 officers, warrant officers and N.CO.’s and 9,670 privates. In other words, there are 1,154 more officers than men. Furthermore, in the A.R.A. and C.M.F. your answer states (from the figures shown) that there is a total of 23,152 officers and 23,144 privates: or, in other words, more than one officer per man.
The Minister wrote back and tried to explain the position away. His letter was far from satisfactory and I do not intend to take up the time of the House by reading it. The relevant figures may be seen by all. I understand, on good information, that there are now fewer privates than ever so there is probably an officer and a half to every man in the Australian defence forces.
I criticize the way in which the Government is spending defence money. These figures are interesting. In the period from 1950-51 to 1960-61 only £355,789,000, or less than one-fifth of the total defence expenditure, was used for the purchase of material requirements such as ships, aircraft, weapons and vehicles. In other words, only one-fifth was spent on the things with which wars are won or lost. From the huge defence expenditure of over £2,000,000,000 all we are getting is a topheavy defence administration. It is also interesting to note that about £7,000,000 has been spent in this period on the acquisition of new sites and buildings. An examination of the results of the Government’s constantly changing defence policy will show that the Government is not purchasing enough equipment and that the defence forces are becoming more and mare top heavy.
I invite the Minister for the Army to tell us what modern equipment the Government is buying. Recently, I saw press reports of aircraft purchases. I do not profess to be an authority on this but the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) has more than once expressed his views on aircraft for defence and other purposes. I have been informed that we are purchasing outofdate equipment and I have yet to be assured that this is not so. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) in an excellent speech which he once made on defence dealt with the type of submarine which the Government had in mind to purchase. I should like to know the situation in regard to these matters, particularly with regard to the expenditure of the sum of £41,000,000 mentioned in this bill.
I think we should also know the Government’s attitude to the statement which a British rear-admiral made in Sydney a few days ago about the need for Australia to have its own submarines. The statement was rather flippantly treated by the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton). It is true that the admiral subsequently said that he had been speaking only for himself, but this man is an admiral of the Royal Navy and he should know what he is talking about. He instanced the use of submarines including atomic submarines by others close to our shores. He stated that the British Government would be recalling some submarines which were on loan to the Royal Australian Navy and said that in order to have adequate defences we must have a submarine fleet.
I realize that the Minister for Defence has a terrific problem in co-ordinating the defence services because I do not think that the Ministers in charge of the defence departments have an intimate knowledge of defence requirements. I can fully understand the Minister’s difficulties in trying to co-ordinate defence because, right down the line, the administration is top-heavy. The Government’s changing policies and statements like those of the British admiral must spread disquiet among the people because they must realize that all is not as it ought to be in our defence forces. I have devoted my time to the question of defence, because it is important. I believe that after spending £2,000,000,000 the Government ought to have adequate forces to defend this country in case of necessity. Many millions of pounds of this money could have been spent in other ways to provide development and better defence for the people.
I should like to know, also, how the Government arrives at the annual figure of £200,000,000. This is a question that has been asked again and again. Every year we have been asked to vote £200,000,000. Would one not think that, in view of this Government’s inflationary policies, the figure might have varied up to £250,000,000 or that on occasion it might have been reduced to £150,000,000? But no, the Government just picks out the figure of £200,000,000. Government back-benchers do not know how the figure is arrived at, but they do not care. Until 9th December last they did not realize that they had better learn a bit about the policy. The fact of the matter is that this procedure has never been satisfactorily explained. We are now asked to provide another £41,000,000, which will bring the total up to £2,900,000 more than the figure I have mentioned. How are these figures arrived at?
This brings me to another point. In addition to criticism of the Government’s policy in regard to purchase of equipment, top-heavy administration, lack of coordination in the three services, and failure of the Minister for Defence to formulate a consistent policy, let us consider other aspects of this measure. What effect will it have? How many of the 131,000 unemployed will find themselves in employment after this expenditure is approved? What effect will this expenditure have in providing employment and stimulating industry and exports? What effect will it have upon development and road works which are associated with defence and are carried out by various State instrumentalities? What effect will it have in providing a stimulus in manufacturing, primary industry, trade, commerce and housing? What repercussions will the bill have upon employment and development? What benefits will flow from it? How will the measure stimulate the economy in the directions mentioned by the Government? It is of no use for the Government to say flippantly merely that this expenditure is required for defence. It is part of the plan to stimulate the economy, and one of the measures recently announced. We want an explanation of the manner in which the money will be expended. What effect will it have on relieving the stagnation in the economy, caused exclusively by the Government’s policy and its downright incompetence in the economic field? These are questions that the Government must answer, not only for our benefit, but for the benefit of those people who cannot prosper in what should be the most prosperous country in the world. 1 have not time at my disposal to run through a full list of what might be done in regard to these matters. However, I thought I should make some observations in order to try to ascertain the effect of this measure on the efficiency of our defence forces, and generally upon the economy in providing the stimulus that is so necessary. I notice that the Minister for Defence has come into the chamber. I hope that for once he will take an interest in the debate and reply to what has been said from this side of the Parliament. As my friend, the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart), says, we have almost forgotten the sound of the Minister’s golden voice in this Parliament on defence matters.
– He spoke last week.
– Only for a short time. Let us have a reasonably lengthy discourse on a matter which is of great interest to the Australian people. These are vital matters. As far back as 1951, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) told us that we had only about three years in which to prepare for war, yet at this stage the Government cannot make an adequate approach to these problems or give any satisfactory explanation of them. I should have thought that on the question of defence the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) might give us a report on what has been done. There is no doubt that we in this country lack efficiency at the parliamentary level in the field of defence administration. The Minister for Defence is a likeable and competent man. I have not a similar conviction about the Ministers who are in charge of the service departments. I say again, because it cannot be said too often, that the Minister for Air, being skilled in finance, would make a much better Treasurer than the present Treasurer, but that does not qualify him to run the Air Force of the country. I have yet to learn that a successful estate agent can run the Army satisfactorily. Nice as he is, he would be better fitted for other portfolios.
Here is a government that claims to be overburdened with ex-servicemen, men with great knowledge of defence who fought for their country. Many of them have distinguished records, yet none, with the exception of the Minister for Defence, can find his way into one of these portfolios that matter so much. Why are not those men with talent and a knowledge of the services given these positions? If the Government believes that an understanding of these matters is necessary, it should give preference to those men who know the intimate requirements of the services. One of the most distinguished members of this Parliament in the field of air service is the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn). He had a most distinguished war record and would no doubt be a good Minister for Air. He would have nothing much to beat in the talent that I can see on the other side. Apart from his distinguished war service, he has some brains which should make him an admirable choice for that important position. However, this Government believes that if a man knows nothing about a particular portfolio he should occupy it. I do not want to reiterate this argument, but running down the list one sees that almost every man in the Ministry has been appointed to a post to handle matters about which he does not know much.
I hone that the Government will reply to my observations. I do not want flippantly to vote for the raisin? of £41,000,000 when we do not know what will be done with it. I hope that the Minister for Defence will reply to me and other speakers and give us the real position in regard to the statement on submarines by the British rear-admiral and our own efforts in relation to submarines, and will assure the Australian people, in this time of great crisis, that the submarines which are on loan from the Royal Navy will not be withdrawn immediately. Above all, let us have an explanation about what will be done to provide equipment for the Navy, Army and Air Force. Let the Minister tell the people how this expenditure will affect the 131,000 men and women who are unemployed, the industries that are losing day by day, and the people who are going bankrupt because of the Government’s policies, because these are the real issues that caused the defeat of sixteen Government supporters on 9th December and led to the introduction of this legislation. These questions demand an answer. I ask the Minister and other Government supporters who may speak in the debate to tell the Opposition and the people the real purpose of the bill and the effects that it will have along the lines that I have mentioned.
. - I did not mean to enter this debate, but I feel I should do so to correct some misconceptions of my friend, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly). There are just two matters I should like to raise. First, he said that members of the Labour Party had not opposed the amount of money being allocated for defence. This is untrue and next week I shall read to the House, if I can find no other way of having the material incorporated in “ Hansard “, a series of quotations from “ Hansard “ to show that the honorable member has forgotten or that he never knew the facts of this case. It is regrettably true that members of the Labour Party have over a long period of years in this House by various means opposed the amount of money that is being spent on defence. I wish that what the honorable member had said were true, but unfortunately it is not.
– Can you point to a vote?
– I shall point to statements made in this House. The honorable member for Grayndler remarked that war preparations made before the Labour Government came into power were inadequate. He did not say, as in point of fact he should have said, that the Menzies Government which preceded the Labour Go vernment had a disability from which the Labour Government was free. He forgets that it was in June, 1941, shortly before the change of government, that Hitler turned on his ally Stalin and attacked Russia. Before that time, the Communist Party of Australia, like the Communist parties in other parts of the world, was an ally of Hitler. It was doing what it could to ensure Hitler’s victory.
– I rise to order. Has this anything to do with the question of the loan under consideration? I thought I heard you bring the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) to order for departing from the bill.
– Order! We are discussing a bill to authorize the raising and expenditure of a sum not exceeding £60,000,000 for defence purposes. Naturally, that raises the question of defence, but I draw the attention of the honorable member for Mackellar to the fact that he must not get away from the bill.
– I thank the honorable member for Potters Field for his interjection. I was merely turning my mind to answering the remarks made by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly). I think I am entitled to do that. The honorable member for Grayndler was drawing attention to what he described as the inadequacy of our defence preparations, prior to the advent of the Labour Government. I had pointed out that there was a reason for that. The reason was that before the Labour Government came to office, and during the time of the old Menzies Government, the Communist Party was on the side of Hitler. There were many members of the Labour Party - not all of them, but many of them - who co-operated at that time with the Communist Party in its endeavours to sabotage our war effort. I ask honorable members opposite to look at the history of the coal strike and see what some members of the Labour Party did in that case. If they do so, they will realize how closely some - not all - of them co-operated with the Communists m their endeavour to sabotage the war effort in the interests of Hitler, who was then Stalin’s ally. By the time the Labour Government took power - if I remember correctly, that was in October, 1941 - Hitler had turned on his ally.
– Order! 1 must draw the attention of the honorable member for Mackellar to the provisions of the bill and ask him to restrict his remarks to matters related to defence, and not to refer to matters pertaining to European politics.
– I rise to order. I bow to your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I point out that you allowed the honorable member for Grayndler to range wide of the matters covered by the bill. My friend, the honorable member for Mackellar, is answering the honorable member for Grayndler, and I believe he is in order in doing so.
– He is.
– I shall leave that matter there, in deference to your ruling, Sir. I think I have sufficiently established my point. If I may reiterate, I believe that the expenditure of money on defence is well and truly justified. Last night in this House I drew attention to the inadequacy of our present defence programme. That is not a pleasant or popular thing to do. I know there are many people who would prefer to hide their heads in the sand when it comes to the matter of defence, but I repeat that although the nominal amount spent on defence has remained more or less constant at around £200,000,000 a year for some years now, because of the fall in the value of money this has represented an eroding sum, less in terms of real effort and less in terms of a percentage of the national income. In 1951-52, we were spending a little over 6 per cent, of our national income on defence. To-day, we are spending a little under 34 per cent, of our national income on defence. I do not think that this disparity can be justified by saying that our peril is less. If anything, I would say that our national peril is greater to-day than it was in 1951-52.
It will be said, perhaps, that we are getting better value for our money now. I think that is true, but it is certainly not enough to explain this big disparity. When we take into account the fact that during this time the Australian population has increased substantially, we find that the per capita fall becomes very notable. In 1951-52, speaking in terms of 1961 values, we were spending something like £30 per head per year on defence and to-day we are spending only £19 per head per year. That is a very big and very significant fall. If the situation had improved in the meantime, that might have justified the fall. If world disarmament were any nearer now than it was then, that would justify the fall, because I believe that if we could get effective disarmament under international control and inspection we should participate. But we have not got effective disarmament to-day. It is true that in 1951-52 we had an incident in Korea, but SouthEast Asia seemed secure in the nonCommunist cause. Communism had scarcely penetrated into Indonesia, and China was still a disorganized force. To-day we have an aggressive and well-organized China, spearheading the Communist advance southwards, and we have a disorganized South-East Asia. We know and regret that communism has penetrated into Indonesia. I think our policy with regard to Indonesia should be directed mainly to helping the Indonesians to prevent the further incursion of communism into their midst. Our situation is no more secure now than it was in 1951-52. Indeed, it is far less secure, and this calls for a greater, not a smaller, defence effort. Unpleasant and unpopular though it may be - and I think it is both those things - I do say that we have got to re-orientate our thinking. We have to make a defence effort commensurate with our peril and commensurate with that being put forward by those countries who are our allies and upon whose firm alliance we shall have to depend in the last resort for the defence and survival of Australia.
.- The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) commenced his speech by making an attack upon the Labour Party’s attitude to defence. He said that the Labour Party was opposed to defence and that he could quote extracts from “ Hansard “ to prove that the Labour Party was opposed to defence. But he did not quote any extracts from “ Hansard “; he merely went on to tell a story of the early war days in this country. He talked about 1941. What happened in 1941? In 1941, the Liberal Party was charged with the government of this country. It had a majority in both Houses of the Parliament. At that time; the Japanese were thundering at the doors ©f Australia. That was the position in 1941, when two members who usually supported the Government parties had to destroy the Government of this country in order that there could be an effective national war effort. They recognized that the resources and the man-power of this country could be properly used in the national defence only under the guidance of Labour led by John Curtin. The Liberal Party and the Country Party left the Labour Party in charge of the treasury bench until the war Was won.
According to Government supporters, we have passed through a period of unprecedented prosperity. We have experienced no droughts or near droughts. We have had high incomes and high profits. We have bought goods overseas as we have never bought them before and we have sold goods overseas to an extent that we have never sold them before. But this country needs to be defended, and in a period of peace and unprecedented prosperity we are seeking a loan for the purpose of defending this country. When is this loan, borrowed in days of peace, to be repaid? In days of war? It is a loan borrowed in the days of prosperity. Is it to be repaid in days of less prosperity that might come upon us in the future? Of course, that is a position that should not be tolerated. We should not in peace-time raise loans to finance the defence of this country.
The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) said that we spend 3 per cent, of our national income upon defence whereas , the United .States of America spends 12 per cent, of its national income on defence, and Canada spends 8 per cent, of its national income on defence. He said that we should spend more on national defence. Presumably he was not supporting this particular loan for defence purposes. War conditions inevitably produce inflation. This is because vast numbers of men are taken from their civilian occupations and put into the armed forces - the forces of “destruction. Likewise, defence expenditure in peace-time is most inflationary. Such expenditure does not produce consumable, commodities to meet the daily requirements of the people. You pay in order to defend those people who are engaged in civilian occupations, but if you use loan money for that purpose you inevitably cause inflation. Defence expenditure produces nothing. It adds to the money in circulation and thus increases prices without in any way increasing consumable commodities.
Every honorable member is aware of the quantity theory of money. I have heard it enunciated by supporters of liberalism down the years. If you inject into the economy a vast amount of money without increasing the volume of consumable commodities in reasonable proportion and within a reasonable time, you cause inflation. On the other hand, if you do the opposite and increase goods out of all proportion to the money in circulation, you cause deflation. That is exactly what this loan will do. It will put more money into circulation to chase the limited amount of available goods; and inevitably it will have an inflationary effect. We on this side of the House say that that inflationary effect is not desirable and that for that reason, if for no other, a loan for this specific purpose should not be raised.
– Are you going to vote against the bill?
– I am suggesting that the loan is not desirable. I am pointing out a better method of obtaining the money. But, as I said at the beginning of my remarks, the Labour Party stands for national defence and, therefore, for the provision of the necessary money. If the Government will accept wy propositions for the introduction of a capital gains tax to provide this money, or a portion of it, or an excess profits tax, as was suggested by its own Treasurer back in 19S0, I shall vote against this measure. Then we shall be adopting my method of financing the defence of this country. I believe that money for the defence of Australia to-day should be provided by those of the present generation and that we should not call upon posterity in, perhaps, a period less advantageous to pay for the present defence of this country.
I rose mainly to make a few comments upon the remarks that were made, I think, by the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) about the cost structure of this community. Apparently he believes the cost structure will be assisted by the securing of this loan for defence purposes. He made his speech as a member of the Country Party and he pointed out how the goods of the primary producer were being costed out of world markets because of the increase in what he called the cost structure. I found it difficult to understand what that had to do with this loan. The honorable member quoted somebody named Ricketson and a gentleman named Rockefeller in support of the contention that these costs had to be kept low in order to enable our primary industries, as well as our secondary industries to expand and develop markets abroad. I point out to my honorable friend that the cost structure of this community is not made up merely of wages. It is made up of interest payments, profits and invisibles of various kinds such as freights and insurances paid on commodities that come to this country and are utilized in our economy. It is made up of overseas dividends and matters of that description. They all go into the composition of the cost structure.
Into that structure last year went £405,000,000 worth of invisibles in connexion with the exportation and importation of commodities. I make the specific point that the interest payment upon and repayment of this loan will be a specific addition to the cost structure of this country, making more difficult the future expansion of those industries which the honorable member for Gwydir was evidently so misguided as to believe would benefit by a loan for defence purposes.
In reality, the Australian Labour Party is not even opposed to loans. It is the specific purpose for which a loan is made that counts. A loan for the purposes of individual living from day to day or for the ordinary costs of communal life is not an advantageous loan. However, a loan that re-creates or more than re-creates itself, that pays back not only in increased productivity the capital that has been acquired but also the interest upon it, is desirable. But this Government does not think that way. It acquires money by way of loans for purposes that should be met out of the income - the day-to-day revenue - of the country. They should be paid for by the labour of the hour in which we live and not by posterity. These loans should not be made a millstone around the neck of the community, adding to the difficulties of primary producers and robbing the present and future generations of workers.
.- I rise not particularly to argue with the peculiar economic theories of “ the honorable member for Potters Field “, but to accept the challenge he made on the point that defence expenditure produces nothing in the way of consumable commodities. I think that was the expression he used. I will have something to say about that in a moment, but if the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) looks at the defence estimates, he will find that about 70 per cent, of the total defence vote goes into pay and allowances. It goes into the pockets of the servicemen and presumably is spent on goods and services. The honorable member for Potters Field - I mean the honorable member for Scullin-
– I rise to a point of order. I do not object to stupidity of that character coming from the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) but I do object to it coming from the honorable member for Barker.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I ask the honorable member for Barker to proceed.
– The honorable member for Scullin, joining in the irresponsibilities of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), repeated the old statement that when the Labour Government came into office in 1941, it found the country defenceless, and that it is only the Australian Labour Party that has ever done anything about the defence of Australia. Honorable members opposite have repeated these statements like parrots. I want to read to the House a statement that was prepared and issued by Mr. John Curtin six days after he assumed office as Prime Minister in 1941. He said -
Since assuming office, the Government has made a broad review of the situation with the ChiefsofStaff and the Commander-in-Chief, Far East.
The Navy is at the highest pitch of efficiency, as demonstrated by the notable exploits of some of its ships overseas.
Imight add that the Government which the Curtin Government replaced had continuously attempted before the Second World War to build up the defence forces of Australia against the continuous opposition of the Australian Labour Party of the day. The statement by Mr. Curtin gives the absolute lie to this nonsense that has been produced by the honorable gentleman and has been repeated so often. Indeed, I think - I believe rightly; I did not see this myself - that these false statements were included in the film produced by the Australian Labour Party at election time.
Some of us who served in the armed services during the Second World War could say something about the adequacy of the defences provided by the Labour Government after it assumed office. We remember that at the most critical period in our country’s peril, the Labour Government of the day did not have the moral courage to compel people to serve their country when, on all defence advice, it was vitally necessary. Many of us remember that for purely political purposes, beer was sent to the islands instead of ammunition when it was desperately needed. I could tell of many similar examples. I do not want to make much of them, but I think these facts should be brought out when Labour speakers talk about Labour governments as the only administrations that have ever provided adequate defences for Australia.
I did not rise to deal with the honorable member for Scullin, but I do want to say something about the honorable member for Grayndler, who decided, for some reason best known to himself, to introduce defence into this debate. If the honorable member had been in the chamber when his leader in this debate, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) and others spoke, he would have known that the applicability of this bill to defence was very marginal indeed. It was a procedural device for the appropriation of the money. The honorable member for Grayndler rose and said: “We are being asked as a House to make this money available. We want to know what it is being used for.”
I think it is true to say that it is only in the past few weeks that the honorable member for Grayndler has taken any interest in the defence of Australia. The disposition of the money to be appropriated under this bill was decided when the Budget and the Estimates were presented to the Parliament last year. That was when the honorable member for Grayndler should have taken an interest in the way in which the money was to be spent. This bill does not add one penny to or subtract one penny from the amount of money allocated for defence in this financial year. The honorable member for Grayndler did not know that. So little was he interested in the defence of Australia that, to my almost certain knowledge, he did not even bother to speak on the defence estimates when the disposition of the money was being decided.
At that time, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) and the service Ministers, with great courtesy to the House, produced numerous documents and told honorable members in great detail what the Government was going to do with the money. They spoke both in retrospect and looking ahead. I would not think that the honorable member for Grayndler read one of those documents. Certainly he did not speak on them. Yet he has bad the hide to come into the House this afternoon and, for political purposes, try to suggest that the Government has appropriated money under this bill without attempting to give the House any information on the way it is to be spent. I have no objection to the honorable member for Grayndler rising in his place, as he did this afternoon and on the motion for the adjournment of the House recently, and making specific charges and statements designed to bring into disrepute this country’s defence preparations if he has honestly studied the subject and if he is honestly of the opinion that the state of affairs is as he claims and that it is his duty to the country to make that state of affairs known.
Not one honorable member, if he is objective, will deny that for an honorable member of this National Parliament to make statements of the kind that have been made by the honorable member for Grayndler, particularly during the present time of crisis, is a very serious matter.
I do not deny any honorable member the right to say what he conscientiously believes is the truth. However, he should support his views with detailed observations. He should give chapter and verse. Otherwise he runs the risk of being regarded as irresponsible. He runs the risk of being accused of bringing this country’s defence preparations into disrepute for political purposes and thereby giving heart to nobody but our enemies. I listened carefully to the honorable member for Grayndler. He did not give chapter and verse of the charges that he made, although he did deal at some length with the rank structure of the Australian services, information about which was supplied to him some time ago in answer to a rather frivolous question on notice. That was the only matter for which he gave chapter and verse.
The honorable member for Grayndler belittled the defence preparations and the defence services of this country. Has he made an on-the-spot investigation of our defence preparations? Has he visited the battalion in Malaya? Has he been to Laverton to see the Neptunes and Canberras in operation there? Has he been to the jungle warfare training school at Canungra? Has he been to Ingleburn and Holsworthy in the electorate of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), where a large part of our regular brigade is concentrated? The honorable member for Werriwa, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, does not make these charges because he, presumably, has seen for himself the enthusiasm with which the members of our armed services are imbued, the quality of the equipment that they use and the high standard of the training that they undergo. I ask again: Has the honorable member for Grayndler investigated these matters for himself? Has he been to Puckapunyal and seen the armoured regiment at the Kapong barracks? Has he seen the Centurion tanks, at which he so freely scoffs, and which, as my friend the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) reminded the House quite recently, were ordered by a Labour government?
Despite the fact that honorable members opposite have not contradicted the claim that these tanks were ordered by a Labour government, the honorable member for Grayndler has repeated his charge about them. Has he seen the rest of our defence establishments? I would like him to give proof that he has seen them before he makes charges that the money spent on defence has been wasted - that there is nothing to show for it and that our defence preparations are inadequate. His are very serious charges for a member of this National Parliament to make. Such charges should not be made without full regard to the fact that they bring our defence preparations into disrepute. Such charges should be made only if the honorable member concerned conscientously believes that in making them he is performing a duty as a member of the National Parliament!
My complaint against the honorable member for Grayndler is that I do not think he conscientiously believes that he is performing his duty when he makes these charges. For instance, with complete lack of knowledge on the subject he said that only 25 per cent, of our defence vote had been spent on equipment - on the things which he said determine whether wars are won or lost. He implied that the other 75 per cent, had been wasted. The things with which wars are won or lost are men - highly trained men. Of course those men need equipment. The honorable member did not say - perhaps he did not know, because he pays very little attention to these matters - that the remaining 75 per cent, of our defence vote has been spent on pay, allowances and maintenance of the men who make up our defence forces. Is the Opposition in favour of paying our defence forces less, of reducing their allowances, of providing them with quarters less adequate than they have now or of discontinuing the service housing programme that this Government has undertaken to ensure that for the first time in our history our servicemen shall be adequately accommodated. Is the honorable member for Grayndler in favour of doing these things? If honorable members opposite are in favour of reducing the allowances paid to servicemen and of reducing other benefits to which they have become accustomed, let them say so because that is the inference to be drawn from the charge that 75 per cent, of the defence vote has been wasted because it has not. been spent on equipment. Not only has that money not been wasted from a defence point of view but also it has not been wasted from the point of view of the economic strength of this country. The major portion of that 75 per cent, that has been paid to servicemen has in turn been paid out to other members of the community for goods and services.
I have taken up too much of the time of the House on this matter but I repeat that if the honorable member for Grayndler, as a member of this National Parliament, wants to make charges as grave as the ones he made this afternoon, and if he wants to make them conscientiously, he should give chapter and verse. He should give more detailed information otherwise he may be accused of indulging in a political stunt. Charges such as those that he made could have grave consequences for this country’s interests if those charges are not soundly based.
.- The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) has on a number of occasions twitted the Opposition with speaking with a divided voice on defence. I will not pretend for one-eighth of one second that many of the speeches made from this side of the House on defence do not differ, but if the honorable member wishes to make that charge against the Opposition, I direct his attention to the fact that it could be made with equal sincerity against the Government. The Cabinet has said time and again that never in peace-time has Australia been better prepared-
– That is true.
– If the honorable member claims that Australia has never before in peace-time been better prepared than she is to-day, that preparedness must be related to the existing threat. It is easy to say that we have never before been better prepared in peacetime, but obviously it could also be said that in 1854, having regard to the existing threat, we were extremely well prepared. One could say that in 1909, when there was no feasible chance of this country being invaded, when we had a Navy and compulsory military training, we were well prepared.
I do not accept as a true statement that Australia has never been better prepared in peace time; nevertheless it is the statement of the Cabinet. It is not the statement of a nucleus of members which appears to include the honorable members for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). I suppose I could be a cheap propagandist and say that the Government is divided. I could quote the honorable member for Mackellar and say that the Government is leaving the country unprepared. All of that, of course, would be complete nonsense. This is a division of opinion. But if the honorable member for Barker wishes to say that we must transmit to the world a spectacle of unity, I remind him that the policy of the Labour Party is not necessarily shown by how I speak or how the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) speaks; it is shown by how we vote.
In this Parliament there has never been one division on defence in twelve years. Everything that the Government has sought for defence, the Opposition has agreed to. The assumption is, unless it is some grave question of principle, that the Government has sources of information about defence needs. When the Government made its statement about its policy on Korea, which brought us into the Korean War, we supported it. When the Government said that it believed it should impose compulsory military training, the Labour Party supported it. When it abandoned compulsory military training on the advice of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley), we accepted its decision.
– You were not right about Korea. You did not support the sending of troops to Korea.
– I think that is a completely incorrect statement. We completely supported United Nations action in Korea and the presence of Australian troops there. I seem to remember being one of the people who drafted the statement on policy that was made at that time.
The honorable member for Barker said that it was unfortunate to transmit to the world impressions of division. In making the statements that he did about the Opposition, he was doing exactly that and was transgressing the point that I think was made by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) during the course of the election campaign. He said that there was a certain type of statement made about the Labour Party that did nothing but divide the nation. We were elected by 300,000 more people than you were, so if we have a treacherous attitude to this country, that is a very grave situation. But, of course, that is not true.
The honorable member for Barker has paid us the tribute of saying that the Centurion tanks were a part of the equipment brought into the Australian Army by the Labour Government. Of course, equipment suitable for 1949 is not necessarily equipment suitable for to-day. However, I do not subscribe to the attacks that have been made on the Centurion tanks. I do not know anything about the subject, and I will not pretend that I do know, but if the honorable member wishes to raise these points about defence equipment introduced by the Labour Government, may I remind the House that the aircraft carriers “ Sydney “ and *’ Melbourne “ were a part of the Royal Australian Navy when this Government took office. At that time the aircraft carrier was the capital ship; to-day, the Polaris-capable nuclear-powered submarine is the capital ship. If honorable members care to go to the Library and ask at the desk for Jane’s “ Fighting Ships “ for 1948, when the Labour Government was in power, they will see that Daring class destroyers were being added to the Royal Australian Navy. They subsequently came into service, and their construction was started under the Labour Government. The rocket range was started under the Labour Government. In point of fact, the former leader of the Labour Party, Dr. Evatt, brought in the approved Defence Projects Protection Bill to protect the area from subversion. The first voices to suggest in this Parliament that we should not have British-type destroyers that were not designed for the Pacific but were designed for the North Sea, were voices from the Opposition. We asked for destroyers of American design with nuclear missiles, capable of ranging the Pacific, to be brought into the Royal Australian Navy.
– You were odd man out.
– Well, there were none of your men in it. The Government has now decided to equip the Royal Australian Navy with these ships. I think it is important to remember that we have not had a destructive attitude towards the Government’s defence programme. I agree with the honorable member for Barker that criticisms from the Opposition have not always taken into account the high pay of Australian servicemen. An Army of even 30,000 or 40,000 persons is enormously expensive to maintain in this country. On the other hand, the Turkish Army and others require relatively small sums for payments in the nature of salaries, and this expenditure is not a very large part of their total defence expenditure.
The implications of the statement of the honorable member for Mackellar were very serious. He said that the Government’s defence effort is not commensurate with that of its great allies. If we were to spend per capita the same amount as the Unnited Kingdom spends on defence, we would spend not £200,000,000 but £300,000,000 a year. I am not quite certain what the position would be in relation to the United States, but our expenditure would certainly be much more than £300,000,000. Some of the comments of the honorable member seemed to me to get very close to suggesting that the Government is poling on its great allies. All I want to say is that when honorable members opposite get to the stage of being critical of their own Government, which is their own business, there always seems to be a point at which they stop and, to cover the fact that they are criticizing their own Government, they launch one of their bitter attacks on the Opposition. Honorable members opposite have no right to say that we have impeded the Government’s defence effort in any way whatever.
– You disagree with the honorable member for Grayndler, then.
– Had you been here you would have heard me start by saying that every defence appropriation you have made has been supported by the Opposition.
– I do not want to take the time of the House for more than a few minutes. I appreciate the comments of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). However, a little while before he spoke we heard from the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly). In his humorous and perhaps irresponsible way, he made some effective political points, but he failed to realize that when he deals with a matter such as defence, he should be careful. He should stop being irresponsible. These statements go out through the country and through the world and they can be damaging to us. Therefore, I welcomed the tone adopted by the honorable member for Fremantle. Although I did not agree with everything he said, he was sane, sensible and logical in his approach.
The honorable member for Grayndler made two comments that were true. First, he said that emptly vessels make the most sound, and secondly, he said that he was not an expert on defence. I agree with both those statements. Then he said that this Government at a previous time had left the country unprepared. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) corrected that assertion by quoting the statement made by Prime Minister of the day, Mr. Curtin. In October, 1941, less than a week after he took office, he complimented the previous government for what it had done in defence preparations.
Then the honorable member for Grayndler turned to the old theme - £2,000,000,000 spent on defence and nothing to show for it. I am sure the honorable member for Fremantle will agree that on at least three occasions, and possibly on four or five occasions, I have stood in this House and itemized every £1 of expenditure. I do not say that the honorable member for Grayndler would agree, because he would probably not have been listening. I have on several occasions given the numbers of ships, the numbers of aircraft, the numbers of pieces of heavy earth-moving equipment, and I have told the House what has been done with every penny that has been spent. More than that, I have produced pamphlets and statements in which all these things are recorded. As I say, it is grossly unfair, and shows complete irresponsibility, for an honorable member to keep saying, “ There is nothing to show for the expenditure “, and to disturb those people in the community who will not take the trouble to listen when I give the information.
I could take issue with the honorable member for Fremantle over his statement that Labour has never opposed any of the votes for defence. That may be quite true, but surely the honorable member is looking at the matter in quite an academic fashion.
– Oh, no!
– Well, we know that the Labour Party has opposed the defence vote consistently. Every time the estimates have been brought into this place speaker after speaker on the opposite side has opposed the Government’s programmes and criticized what is being done. Just for the record, let me remind the House of a few of the statements that have been made by certain honorable members of the Opposition who happen to be in the chamber at the present time. First let us take the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren). The honorable member for Fremantle suggested that we disregard his remarks because he is only one individual.
– I did not!
– You said you were not responsible for what one man said.
– I said that we do not say the same things.
– Well, we will see. The honorable member for Reid said, on 11th October, 1960 -
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 disarm and contribute to the work of the United Nations.
Later, in the same debate, he 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.
The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who is an ex-serviceman himself, said in that debate - 1 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.
Does the honorable member for Fremantle suggest that those honorable members were supporting the Government’s plans for defence? Another distinguished ex-serviceman, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), said in that debate -
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.
– Hear, hear!
– Consistently, the honorable member now says, “ Hear, hear “, and 1 honour him for his consistency. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), during the course of that debate on the defence estimates, said* -
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.
Ye. the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) about three or four weeks ago was talking about bringing our men home from Malaya, as if Australia was about to be invaded. The honorable gentleman is ready to go to war. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), said during the same debate -
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.
I do not want to introduce a party political atmosphere into this discussion.
– Oh, of course not!
-I am pointing out these facts only because the honorable member for Fremantle has suggested that the Labour Party has supported the Government’s defence expenditure and its defence efforts, and that it has never gone against them.
Mr. Beazley. - If you are entitled to claim that every opinion expressed by every individual on this side of the House represents a decision of the Labour Party, then we are equally entitled to say that the opinions expressed by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) are in accordance with decisions of the Liberal Party.
– As you have done, of course. Labour Party spokesmen have rarely supported the defence expenditure or the defence programme and defence proposals of this Government during the thirteen years I have been here. As I have said, I do not want to introduce a note of party politics into a debate on the most important matter that we ever discuss in this place, defence. But some irresponsible things have been said - on both sides, if you like - and the honorable member for Grayndler has been particularly irresponsible. I think this is a bad thing. When we have defence debates in this place, every honorable member who speaks should be prepared to do so in a sane and logical way, and in a way which shows the people outside that although we may differ on many matters, we will finally be united on the matter of defence.
I conclude by saying that in my view, having in mind the assessed threat to this country and the international situation, the defences of Australia have never been so sound or more ready, and never have our men been better trained or better equipped in a time of peace than they are to-day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill returned from the Senate without requests.
Sitting suspended from 5.53 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 15th March (vide page 909), on the following paper tabled by Sir Garfield Barwick:-
And on the motion by Mr. Swartz-
That the paper be printed.
Motion (by Mr. Downer) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) making his speech without limitation of time.
– I thank the House for its generosity. The Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick), in his long statement on West New Guinea, gave us nothing new. His heavily documented review was nothing but a lawyer’s brief. It presented, at alternate moments, both sides of the conflict and offered no solution to either. We were left precisely where we were before. His statement was a belated, misleading and frightening document.
Just how belated it was the Minister revealed in his first sentence. He had the effrontery to claim that, whenever there has been an appropriate occasion, the Government has given the House an opportunity to consider fully the dispute between Indonesia and the Netherlands. In the next breath he told us that the last such occasion was eleven months ago - in April, 1961, to be precise. But before he had gone very far, the Minister revealed that in that period of eleven months there had been critical and dramatic developments, none of which had been reported to this House, let alone debated by it.
Let there be no mistake about it; this Government has no wish to have its mishandling of our foreign policy critically examined by this Parliament, or by the people of Australia. Behind the screen of what it chooses to call “ private diplomacy “ it hopes to be able to muddle along without this Parliament or the people prying into what it is doing. I serve notice on it here and now that this side of the House will no longer tolerate that state of affairs. We demand to know the facts - all the facts - and not the carefully selected version of the facts which the Minister has given us in his statement.
I have said that this statement was a misleading statement. Just how misleading it was I will show as I proceed, but by way of preamble I say now that it was misleading because it suggested a belief in principles and a concern for the defence and integrity of Australia which the facts completely belie.
I have said that the Minister’s statement is a frightening document. It is frightening because of its complete disregard for realities and for the dangers inherent in the situation with which it is supposed to be dealing. Here we have all the fustiness of the courtroom in which the Minister in the past has been so much at home. The Minister’s statement reminded me of nothing so much as a judge’s summing-up for the jury - with this difference: He was acting not only as judge, but also as prosecuting counsel, defending counsel, jury, and at one time the accused in the dock.
The Minister adopts a lofty pose of impartiality. I tell him now that, so far as we of the Australian Labour Party are concerned, we are not impartial when the defence and security of Australia are at stake. For us it is not enough merely to state principles with a lofty air of detachment. If principles are to mean anything, you have to be prepared to do something about them - first of all, not only to state them in the shadow world of “private diplomacy “, in which the Minister claims to be so much at home, but also to repeat them over and over again publicly for the whole world to hear and see. And, having stated them, you have to be prepared to stand up for them and advocate them in every place and in every way in which your advocacy may be effective. You have to have the courage of your convictions, and you have to go out and win friends, allies and supporters for your convictions. You must not lie down feebly when you are rebuffed.
No doubt, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) winces when I mention that word “ rebuff “, because no Prime Minister or Minister for External Affairs in the whole history of this Commonwealth has suffered the rebuffs and humiliations he has suffered. First there was his debacle over Suez. Then there was his crushing humiliation at his one and only excursion to the United Nations. Then there was his humiliation at the Prime Ministers’ Conference which discussed South Africa. Of course, stories have been carefully put about that it was never his fault when he failed. Eisenhower is said to have let him down over Suez. Some one else doublecrossed him at the United Nations and at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference on South Africa. But the result was always the same: humiliation and failure. Is it any wonder that he is punchdrunk - so punch-drunk that now he is willing to go quietly and do as he is told, even when the very security of his country may be at stake?
And that brings me to the crux of the matters we are considering. Behind all the fine statements of principles which the Prime Minister and the Minister have made - and the Minister’s statement quotes them all - lies this sickness of defeatism, this readiness to take direction from the people they refer to as our “ great and powerful friends”. They do not tell us what these great and powerful friends have said. Nor do they tell us what they have said to these great and powerful friends. But what they are trying to convey is clear. They want us to believe that they would like to be strong and to stand firm to the principles they claim to espouse, but that their friends have let them down. 1 challenge them to give us the facts, all the facts, on that point. Let them tell us precisely what support they have sought from their great and powerful friends and in what terms it has been refused, so that we and the people of Australia may judge for ourselves. We shall find that these posturing lions of ours have really been very timid little lambs. And it is always the lambs who are led to the slaughter.
In the Minister’s references to the United Nations there is the same sickness of defeatism. “ What is the good of appealing to the United Nations”, he says in effect, “ when the numbers are against us? “ Follow that attitude of mind to the end and inevitably you must accept that there is no purpose in the United Nations and no point in being a member of it. Of course, we know different. When the Dutch and the Indonesians were actually fighting after World War II. it was a Labour government which suggested that the matter should be referred to the United Nations. We obtained American support and the matter was referred to the United Nations and, ultimately, a peace treaty was signed because of the initiative of the Chifley Government and Dr. Evatt, as its Minister for External Affairs.
I have already stated outside this House the principles on which the Labour Party stands in this matter and I repeat them now. We stand for the United Nations and its Charter. That Charter condemns aggression. It calls for the development of friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and selfdetermination of peoples. We have always regarded the island of New Guinea as an essential element in the defence of Australia, although we are now told that that is no longer true. On what basis or on what authority we are not told. But it was said in this House in 1950 by the then Minister for External Affairs in the Menzies Government of that time.
The statement by the present Minister shows that the Government has by devious means changed its policy on West New Guinea; changed it dramatically, intentionally and, I would say, unscrupulously in order to keep in line with certain new trends of thought which have arisen since the crisis of New Guinea has assumed such importance in the eyes of the world. For myself, as Leader of the Australian Labour Party, I say that with reference to West New Guinea and the Dutch and Indonesia I must, as a bounden duty to my party and its policy, look to the question of aggression arising out of this dispute no matter from which side it comes. Aggression which could threaten Australia in the long run, or the question of subversive elements which could infiltrate into the island of New Guinea as a result of conflict, and events which could change the whole policy of defence and survival in the South-West Pacific area in which Australia is vitally involved are matters that concern us greatly. In short, I must look to the defence and future of Australia. I cannot accept the easy assurances and laconic laisser-faire of the Minister.
Surely there is only one place where Australians can stand. That is with the United Nations for world peace and for the settlement of all disputes between nations, not by armed conflict, but by negotiation. The days of the coup d’&at are over. By tacitly ignoring this one by Indonesia we are half-way on the road to condoning it.
This is our attitude on Indonesia, so far as armed conflict is concerned, but it is not our attitude on other grounds. Similarly, we must say to the Dutch that the days of colonialism are over and that they have delayed too long in starting to bring the Papuans towards nationhood. We ourselves have not done enough in our own territory and we must accelerate the speed of our development. Therefore, there is only one place where this matter can be decided and that is at the international conference table. And the only thing of real value in the issue is the fate of the dependent people of West New Guinea. How could I pass up these aspects of the dispute and remain an Australian and a responsible party leader?
In the long sight of the history of this conflict, Labour must consider also the aspect of conventions, treaties, agreements and decisions made between ourselves and our friends about West New Guinea. We assume them to be binding and permanent, only to find them dismissed with the flick of a hand in London, Washington, or Djakarta when a new emergency arises, or the demand of the moment suggests a new plan or a changed idea. To this strange divergence from United Nations policy, the Menzies Government humbly bows assent, and the Minister mumbles something about international law. Labour must consider also the question of consultation: How fully is it observed and how quickly is Australia presented with the facts of situations such as the one under discussion? Are we informed fully of all that is happening all the time, or are we fobbed off with what appear to be high-level discussions, only to discover that the international backroom boys have gone into a huddle and come up with a fait accompli which we are expected to accept? That is not full partnership in world affairs and we object to it. Let us be frank about the matter. The shadow over West New Guinea and Indonesia is this: Many Australians consider that there has been a surreptitious arrangement to evade the real issues Whether it has been done by one side only is beside the point. Such actions damage democracy and weaken the prestige of the United Nations and make a mockery of the words “ full and frank discussions “. Such arrangements, facile and expedient though they may be at the time, leave out such important considerations as selfdetermination for indigenous people, their true progress and welfare in the new order, and the prospects of their future fate. In any plan for West New Guinea, can we forget the stone-age man of the jungle-clad hills waiting to be born into the twentieth century? Do we pass him over to some one else or do we consider his inalienable right to determine his own future? Do we exchange one colonialism for another? Do we, in short, become humbugs?
Australia has administered a mandate in New Guinea with honesty, devotion, and skill for many years. I suppose in this sort of situation, and with this type of emerging people, we are the most experienced of all the nations in relation to the New Guinea mandate. Yet how often was Australia called into conference in the past by either the Dutch or the Indonesians to give its views on this matter? What importance was given to our views, if and when we were consulted? The Labour Party and its Foreign Affairs Committee were fully aware of and deeply concerned with this problem when the party made certain policy decisions. It also examined certain treaties in the light of their use and permanence.
In his speech on 15th March, the Minister for External Affairs was at great pains to claim that the Government’s policy on the West New Guinea dispute had been consistent throughout. I propose to show that its policy has been anything but consistent, and that, on the contrary, it has been confused, weak and vacillating, and that it has been based on false principles and false premises. And, consequently, no weight has been given to the Australian view abroad. I propose to show that the Government entirely deserves the censure passed on it by one of its own members, the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), when he wrote in the Melbourne “ Herald “ on 4th January, 1962-
Never has so little been told on so many great issues in foreign affairs. There must be an end to this policy of drifting from crisis to crisis and dealing with each one hour by hour, as it arises.
– He is a Liberal.
– Yes. The 40-minute recital of past events and documents presented to us on 15th March by the Minister for External Affairs certainly told us very little on this great issue. And, as a statement of policy, it indicated only that the Government’s attitude is still characterized by the weakness and indecision so rightly and roundly condemned by his colleague whom 1 have quoted. Indeed, if it proved anything, it was that this Government is addicted to stop-go policies in foreign affairs, as much as it is to stop-go policies in economic matters.
The Labour Party’s policy is unswerving loyalty to the United Nations. That, of course, means unswerving loyalty to the ideals of the United Nations, not to power blocs, vetoes and log-rolling campaigns by interested parties. That is the trap into which the Menzies Government has fallen. It has no independent voice; it merely supports the strength. In contrast to the appalling story of blundering indecision on the part of the Government, the Labour Party has held to a clear line, based absolutely on the principle of selfdetermination. The tragedy for Australia is that there has not been a Labour government in power to give effect, through diplomatic endeavour, to this policy.
With the concurrence of the House, 1 incorporate in “ Hansard “ the full reference to West New Guinea made in the policy speech delivered on 15th October, 1958, by Dr. Evatt, who was then leader of the Australian Labour Party. It is as follows: -
In relation to the problem of New Guinea, Labor believes that a solution in the interest of the peoples of the island and in the security interests of Indonesia and Australia could be evolved and agreed upon by discussion and negotiation. As we see it at present, we must contemplate the possibility of eventual administration of the whole island of New Guinea as one unit under the supervision provided for by the Trusteeship Council together with some administering authority. The actual administration could be committed to one nation and it seems only right that in New Guinea, two-thirds of which is administered by Australia, the administration of the whole island could best be entrusted to Australia in the event of the Netherlands giving up their administration of West New Guinea.
Under the Charter the final objective must be self-determination for the New Guinea people themselves.
In this final solution for New Guinea, Australia’s administration of its Trust Territory and of Papua will have played th’ most important part.
We bear heavy r* sponsibility to assist the people of the Territory tj stand on their own feet - to enjoy a measure of prosperity, to control and ultimately to take their place in the world as the equals of the citizens of more advanced countries. Recent events ‘in New Guinea, however have tragically.’ highlighted the’ inadequacy of some aspects of the present Government’s administration-.
In what way. does the policy of the Labor Party differ from that of the present Government? Fundamentally, it differs because we in the Labor Party have always accepted the equal rights, the equal humanity under God of all human beings. We believe that it is our duty to assist the peoples of New Guinea to achieve prosperity and selfdetermination through their own energies and their own talents.
Local councils should become real organs of local self-government. We shall take steps to increase the present inadequate representation of the native people in the Legislative Council of the Territory and to ensure that native representatives are men who have the confidence of their constituents. The economic development of the native people should be pushed forward by the fullest development of the co-operative movement, by increased assistance to those who wish to acquire equipment (such as copra driers and cocoa fermentaries) for the processing of their crops, by relaxation of the outmoded restrictions on the ways in which the people can spend their savings. We would ensure that natives have the opportunity to rise to positions of responsibility in the Public Service to the limits of their ability and experience.
The peoples of New Guinea are at many different stages in their gradual adaptation to the conditions of the modern world. There is a vast difference between those in the towns, who live and work beside Europeans, and those in many of the Highland and mountain villages whose lives have so far been much less affected by modern conditions. Progress cannot reasonably be held upas it is at present - till the least advanced are ready to move forward. Opportunities might be given to these different groups according to their capacities. And under a Labor Government they would bc given. There is no time for delay.
I repeat that Australia should oppose any attempt by Indonesia to supplant the Netherlands Government in West New Guinea. If Indonesia attempted that by force or threat of force that would be a violent breach of the Charter. For the chapter of the U.N. Charter dealing with non-self-governing territories provides that the objective of each such territory is self-government and self-determination for the native peoples.
Similarly if the Netherlands, abandoned Dutch New Guinea the case for Australian’ administration of the whole island would be just as strong if not stronger. We seek friendship with the Indonesian people and the Labor Party policy favours the establishment of a regional pact between Australia, Indonesia and Holland for the security and development of the future of New Guinea.
But we could not possibly accept a situation created by aggressive action on the part of Indonesia to seize West New Guinea contrary to the U.N. Charter provision. New Guinea is pivotal for the defence of Australia as was proved in the war against Japan. And the defence security of the Australian people was gained by the heroism and self-sacrifice of both Australian and U.S. troops in the whole area of New Guinea; and it remains for all times a hallowed place in which the gallant and devoted services of the New Guinea natives themselves should never be forgotten.
That was Labour’s policy at the 1958 federal election. It was a clear statement of the real principles involved, and it made fruitful suggestions for future action. How different from the barren arguments about sovereignty, with an occasional nod in the direction of self-determination, which have emanated from this Government!
The 1961 biennial conference of the Labour Party, held in Canberra last April, re-defined Labour’s attitude in these words -
The Labor Party asserts that the only people who have the right to determine the future of their island of New Guinea are its indigenous people. The United Nations holds that the inhabitants of the Trust Territories of New Guinea are not yet fit to govern themselves. The Labor Party believes this to be true of the inhabitants of the rest of the island. The Labor Party will support and co-operate in the efforts of the United Nations to resolve the present dispute over West New Guinea so as to avoid armed conflict.
In the Labour Party policy speech of 16th November last year I said -
We assert in regard to West New Guinea that the only people who have the right to determine the future of the island, the whole island of New Guinea, are its indigenous people. We believe that the dispute over Dutch New Guinea should be resolved by the United Nations.
This is the age of self-determination and Australia’s duty towards Papua-New Guinea as Labor sees it is to prepare the races of those territories as part of the whole island for selfgovernment at the earliest possible time.
The two pillars of Labour’s policy have been self-determination, and diplomatic activity, particularly through the United Nations, to prevent breaches of the United Nations Charter.
In his speech two weeks ago, the Minister for External Affairs used an extraordinary argument to deny the usefulness of Australia approaching the United Nations. His argument was, in effect, that the votes would be against us if we tried to do so. He said -
In such a situation Australia must view the political realities clearly, without self-delusion, that the organization is the same as it was in 1945. The relevance of the voting upon the Netherlands proposal will not escape the House. 1 note in passing that in 1960 the Prime Minister did not let “political realities” in the United Nations stand in his way when he made Australia the laughing-stock of Asia and the world when he secured five votes for his disastrous amendment to India’s proposals for a meeting between President Eisenhower and Mr. Khrushchev. But according to the Minister for Externa] Affairs, it is not even worth while Australia trying to initiate action in the United Nations to ensure the application of the principles of the Charter in regard to the present dispute over West New Guinea. The Minister went on to say -
In the presence of strong anti-colonial attitudes and the desire to maintain territorial integrity of newly independent nations, the principles of self-determination are apt to receive less emphasis and indeed to be regarded as merely competitive with, and certainly not paramount to, what are considered to be the necessities and urgencies of anti-colonialism.
Granted that this may in some cases be true, is it not in itself a reason why Australia should herself give emphasis in the United Nations to the principle of selfdetermination? But we have not done this and the Prime Minister himself has admitted that we have not. I quote from his speech on international affairs on 27th April, 1961, less than a year ago -
What Australia has done in the United Nations when the West New Guinea item has come up there, is to support sovereignty and domestic jurisdiction. Sovereignty is basic for Australia no less than for others, including Indonesia.
Sovereignty and domestic jurisdiction - these are the principles that the Menzies Government has stressed in the name of Australia in the United Nations, and they are the very principles which, right from the start, the Indonesians deny have any relevance to West New Guinea as far as the Dutch are concerned.
The working out of Labour’s policy statements surely justify the following proposals: -
The present preliminary conference being held between Holland and Indonesia, with the United States of America sitting in is surely short of one further member. Australia, with vital stakes in the matter, should be represented”.It must be remembered that, when the eventual solution is reached, Australia has to live with and accommodate itself to the new situation. More than any other nation in the area, it is so much our problem. 1 turn now to the situation regarding infiltration and communism. There is a widely held opinion that the new situation in West New Guinea could enlarge the sphere of Communist influence. I make no charges in this connexion against Indonesia. My criticism has been against certain acts of leadership and not the Indonesian people, with whom we wish to live in friendship and whose own right to self-determination we supported against the opposition of members of the present Government. In fact, the Islamic religion held by the majority of Indonesians is part of the spine of resistance to communism. The Moslem world, stretching from Morocco through Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Indonesia is, by its close-knit religious unity, a definite barrier, forming a many million strong arc, to the easy progress of communism. This, 1 submit, is a pretty formidable road block against easy conquest by a different ideology from the staunchly held Islamic beliefs. I think not so much of communism but of the possibility of the Papuans continuing to be a depressed and oppressed people, as was the case in their immediate past, and the snares and pitfalls they could continue to encounter in their weary march to nationhood. The argument here is surely not to go to war about some wild and useless territory, because it is so much like that, but to further the plans of Dr. Evatt’s good offices policy on Indonesia and else where by trade, by lifting the standard of living, by the extension of the Colombo Plan and by remembering with sympathy and understanding that in Asia to-day one civilization is dying while another is waiting to be born. All member States of the United Nations should be pressing on with the job of feeding, educating and training all the Papuans in every part of New Guinea and its islands into the ways of civilized man. The position confronting us is potentially very dangerous, because a wrong move here could extend the perimeter of the conflict to the coast of PapuaNew Guinea, a few hundred miles from our shores, whether that conflict was nationalistic or communistic.
I am not unmindful, either, of the claims of Indonesia, nor of the Dutch intention to get out of West New Guinea in eight years’ time in favour of the Papuans. But the problem is: How can it be done peacefully? Surely the over-riding factor is the firm decision of the United Nations, made years ago, that the final and absolute factor was not the ambitions of conflicting powers, but the self-determination of the people concerned. If we lose that I believe we lose a pillar of the United Nations and make nonsense of so many of our ideals. It is here, I believe, that the Menzies Government has let us down by facing both ways when expediency demanded it, or by having no opinion at all when the situation became uncomfortable. Let me prove this by the Menzies Government’s own statements. There can be no greater indictment than that, surely, Mr. Speaker. On9th March, 1950, Mr. Spender, now Sir Percy Spender, then Minister for External Affairs, said -
New Guinea is an absolutely essential link in the chain of Australian defence. The Australian people are deeply interested in what happens anywhere in New Guinea.
This Minister duly passed on to his political reward, and his words were forgotten. So was New Guinea.
His successor, Mr. Casey, had different views. The Indonesian Foreign Minister, Dr. Subandrio, came to this country in 1959. A communique, the CaseySubandrio communique, was issued after that visit and it said -
There was a full explanation of the considerations which have led each country to a different view over Western New Guinea (West
Irian), with Australia recognising the principle of self-determination. This difference remains, but the position was clarified by an explanation from the Australian Ministers that it followed from their position of respect for agreements on the rights of sovereignty that if any agreement were reached between the Netherlands and Indonesia, as parties principal, arrived at by peaceful processes and in accordance with internationally accepted principles, Australia would not oppose such an agreement.
Thus, the principle of self-determination is stated, and then dismissed. The bulk of the communique’ proceeds on the basis that the question of West New Guinea could be resolved by an agreement between two competing owners. If the Netherlands chose to hand over to Indonesia the land and the tenants which it owned in West New Guinea, Australia would not object. The Labour Party protested at the time that what the Government was saying in effect was, “ If the Dutch choose to come to an agreement, we will forget all about self-determination “. We pointed out that the Government was wilfully, or thoughtlessly, weakening the morality and validity of Australia’s case, the whole strength of which rested on the principle of selfdetermination for dependent peoples. What a contrast between the 1959 attitude and that of 1950 and that of 1957.
Mr. Casey passed on also to his political reward. He became Lord Casey, the only member of the House of Lords with a winter residence in Australia. In the interval he has become lost between two worlds, and we need not bother any further with him, except to record his statement as a direct contradiction of that of Sir Percy Spender.
Then came the Prime Minister, and I draw attention to the contrast between his statements last year and his present attitude. In his statement to the House on 27th April, 1961, the Prime Minister reported on General Nasution’s visit in these terms -
We recognize Dutch sovereignty, and we approve of ultimate self-determination. If this is regarded by Indonesia as partisanship, we point out that it favours the recognition of sovereignty and the objective of self-determination, to both of which Australia is inevitably attached.
And then later the Prime Minister said -
I have stated our recognition of Dutch sovereignty and our approval of the Dutch policy of self-determination.
Australians might be forgiven, therefore, for believing that at last the Menzies Govern ment was attaching proper importance to the principle of self-determination. The Prime Minister’s personal attachment to the principle of self-determination seems to grow, because he emphasized it again and again during the election campaign. Speaking in a broadcast on 24th November - the Prime Minister will be pleased to know that I quote not from the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ but from the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of 25th November, 1961 - he said -
While legal sovereignty resides in the Netherlands, and is not legally challenged in the appropriate tribunal, we must adhere to our support of the principle of self-determination. Australia profoundly sympathizes with Indonesia’s desire for economic and social growth. The one matter of difference concerns West New Guinea. We deal with the Netherlands, which exercises sovereignty. We recognize that sovereignty, just as we expect other people to recognize our sovereignty in Papua. We have for years made clear that we regard ourselves as holding East New Guinea in trust, aiding the development of its people, at no small cost, until the day those people, having been equipped for competent decision, decide their own future for themselves. This is the principle of selfdetermination. We have welcomed the promotion of precisely that policy by the Dutch Government in relation to West New Guinea. We are told that the Government of Indonesia dislikes this attitude of ours. AH I can say is that Australia is a democracy and deeply attached to the principle of self-determination.
I repeat, those were the Prime Minister’s words of 24th November, as reported in one section of the Sydney press on the following day. Four days later, the Prime Minister was even more definite. Speaking on television on 28th November, he said, according to the Melbourne “ Age “-
The Dutch have said they favour selfdetermination, but Indonesia has said that this is not a case for self-determination. You would think very poorly of me, or of my Government, if I did not take the opportunity of making it quite clear that this business of self-determination is vital to us. We believe in democracy. We believe that in due course the people in our section of New Guinea must be allowed to determine their own future. And that is our view in relation to West New Guinea.
So, at last, on 28th November, 1961, the Prime Minister seemed to have come to grips with the basic principle at stake. After the tortuous gropings, the switches and confusions of the past, a human principle had ousted a lawyer’s concept for the domination of his mind. At last, the human rights of the people of West New Guinea had taken pre-eminence over the legal rights of the Dutch. I emphasize that, on 28th November, 1961, the Prime Minister said that his Government’s view in relation to West New Guinea was exactly the same as that in relation to East New Guinea. Suddenly, shamefully, came the last phase of policy, with the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General competing for the right to speak as Minister for External Affairs, and each, with varying degrees of subtlety, repudiating everything that the Government had previously told the electors it stood for.
On 19th December, ten days after the election, President Soekarno announced that he intended to occupy West New Guinea. He reiterated that he was not bluffing. He issued a series of orders to his armed forces. In the next few weeks, the Menzies Government conducted its strategic withdrawal from the position to which the Prime Minister had committed it in such resounding terms during the election campaign. I ask the House to note the subtle graduations in emphasis in the following statements issued on behalf of the Government. On 21st December, the Prime Minister, speaking at a press conference in Canberra, said -
We still adhere to the principle of selfdetermination and we still hope that out of whatever discussions may occur, self-determination for the inhabitants of West New Guinea will be respected.
On 30th December, the new Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) issued a statement, couched in indirect speech, which said -
The Minister pointed out that Australia was not a party principal in the dispute, but had nonetheless a great interest in the ability of the indigenous people of West New Guinea to have the ultimate choice of their own future, whether it be for integration with Indonesia or for independence, with or without any relationship with the people of East New Guinea. Australia intended to lead the peoples for which it was at present responsible in East New Guinea to the point of exercising their own choice. It found it difficult to believe, particularly in the present state of world opinion, that Indonesia would wish ultimately to deny the people of West New Guinea a like opportunity for national choice. So far the Australian Government had not sought to interfere in the course pursued by either of the parties to the dispute.
The final capitulation, the final abandonment of the principle of self-determination, came quickly. On 4th January, 1962, the Minister for External Affairs set the seal on Australia’s abdication from any respon sibility in the affair. His department issued this statement under his name -
The Minister emphasized that there was no present occasion for inflammatory or exaggerated statements as to the effect of the dispute on Australia. In particular, Sir Garfield said that he saw no evidence whatever of any present threat to Australia or to any Australian territorial interest.
From the statements made in the House oy the Prime Minister last April, and more particularly from statements he made during the election campaign, the people of Australia had a right to believe that the Government had fixed its policy on the basis of selfdetermination for all the people of New Guinea. I certainly thought so. I was wrong. The people were wrong. In the light of the retreat from that principle which occurred during January, I described the new attitude of the Government, as typified by Sir Garfield Barwick, as “ abject appeasement “. I define appeasement as a retreat from principle in the face of threats. I now realize I was wrong in accusing this Government of appeasement in that sense. It did not retreat from principle, because it had none. All it had were words which its members can, more or less skilfully, adapt to the occasion. I should have realized that the bold ringing declarations by the Prime Minister in November were merely words. I should have realized that the Prime Minister meant nothing by his protestation of belief in the principle of self-determination. I am now the wiser; so are the people of Australia.
Nothing has been more shameful in the affair than the attempts by the Prime Minister and other Ministers to brand those who have criticized their switches of policy, their blunders, their apathy and their weakness as war-mongers. On 7th February, I said -
If Indonesia seeks to use force to create a potential threat to Australia’s security, then I say, with all due regard to the gravity of the situation, that threat must be faced.
The Prime Minister brushed his Minister for External Affairs aside to brand this statement as “clearly crazy and irresponsible “. Of course, any one who ever dares to disagree with the Prime Minister is crazy and irresponsible. But cheap abuse of this kind is no answer to facts. Nothing could be more crazy and irresponsible than to mouth lofty phrases and then do nothing about them. Does the Prime Minister suggest that the situation I have just referred to should not be faced? Yet he himself said precisely the same thing in this House on 27th April last year. These are his words -
I repeat in the most categorical terms that Australia has no military commitment with the Netherlands in relation to West New Guinea, either direct or indirect. But armed conflict in that country, whether arising from mass invasion or limited guerilla episodes created by armed infiltration would present Australia, in common with other countries, with a grave problem. Any such conflict could certainly not be ignored by the United Nations. It would engage the attention, helpful or otherwise, of the great powers. It would threaten world peace.
And then later -
If military conflicts, great or small, arose out of these differences, new and grave problems would arise for many nations, including our own.
The only difference in import between these two statements is that mine was made at a time when the threats which the Prime Minister had warned about were actually being made. The Prime Minister described my warnings that the situation must be faced as “ vaguely bellicose “. I suppose his own similar warnings were statesmanlike. His doctrine is, apparently, that silent acquiescence is the true art of diplomacy. At the time that I was calling for renewed diplomatic activity to protect the principle of self-determination and Australia’s interests, the Minister for External Affairs was assuring the people that Australian interests were not involved. The Prime Minister has insisted that his Government has been as active as possible on the matter. I deny it. For the whole period during which the present crisis was in gestation, Australia did not even have a fulltime Minister for External Affairs. We still have not one. On 12th September last year, I asked the Prime Minister in this House whether he would consider giving up the portfolio of External Affairs. His reply was -
I agree I lack the opportunity for consulting a full-time Minister for External Affairs. But really the thing has worked, I think, pretty tolerably. I am not aware of having said less to this House about external affairs than has any of my predecessors in thai office.
That is the Prime Minister’s view on external affairs - a matter of making occasional speeches in this House. My distinguished opponent returned from the London con ference of Prime Ministers last April, and this is what passed at his press conference in Sydney -
Question - Did you have any discussions on West New Guinea when you were in London?
– Oh yes, in an occasional way.
The Prime Minister was pleased to give “ occasional attention “ to this most vital problem. Of course, all that time in London he was busy defending, not Australia, but Dr. Verwoerd. My right honorable friend, recollecting his great triumphs over recent years in the cause of international goodwill at Suez, New York and London, has the temerity to accuse me of harming Australia’s relations with Asia.
In the face of his electoral humiliation in December, the Prime Minister did, at last, surrender the External Affairs portfolio. But even though the West New Guinea dispute had developed into an urgent crisis, he still did not think it necessary to appoint a full-time Minister. This experienced administration that we heard so much about during the campaign is so rich in talents that it cannot even afford to provide a full-time Minister for External Affairs at a time of great national need. Even so, I tended, at the time of the appointment, to agree with the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) who wrote in the Melbourne “ Herald “ on 4th January last-
Why should Australians bother when the next most important post after the Prime Ministership is even now only a spare-time job. Half an Attorney-General, who has had no chance to know Asia and Asians, is a bit better than a quarter of a Prime Minister who is ill at ease with Asians.
The half-time Attorney-General already has to his credit one of the greatest diplomatic blunders in this nation’s history. When feeling was running high, the Minister for External Affairs went to Melbourne and, at a conference of newspaper editors called by him, inspired a story that the Australian Government had accepted the view that Indonesia would soon get control of West New Guinea in some form or other. It was left to the Prime Minister of the Netherlands to read about this switch in policy in the newspapers. Why did the Minister for External Affairs choose this particular time to reverse his policy? Why did he choose this underhand method of doing it? Is it any wonder that our “ great and powerful friends “ have given our views such short shrift in this matter? Is it any wonder that, after his Minister’s gaffe, the Prime Minister virtually resumed direction of external affairs and once again took over the role of Australia’s spokesman?
One by one, Ministers charged with the control of our foreign policy over the past twelve years repudiated each other; and the Prime Minister repudiates them all. In his statement, the Minister tells us of the long-range policy pursued by the Government, and then proves how it repudiated this policy. He speaks of sovereignty, but refuses the sovereignty of freedom and selfdetermination to the Papuans, except in pious platitudes. He tells us of an army prepared for invasion and of a country prepared to repel that invasion. And he tells us that this is a preamble to the talks taking place to avert open acts of war - the peace talks. He tells us of the Indonesians and the Dutch meeting under secret orders and with an American delegate as observer. He does not tell us why Australia is not represented at these talks, nor whether his Government will hold Australia bound by the decisions coming from this conference.
The Minister says in effect that to even condemn aggression brings the threat of Communism closer to our shores. If this is true, and I do not admit it is, is it a valid reason for forsaking our principles? Are we to allow ourselves to be intimidated and prevented from asserting right against wrong because of fear of the consequences? Is this sort of defeatism to be the new credo for Australia?
There is no need for me, as leader of the Labour Party, to declare our friendship for the Indonesians. That has already been shown. We welcomed their independence. We have watched their efforts to establish their new republic with sympathy and understanding. We wish them well and they will continue to have our encouragement in solving their problems. No one understands better than we of the Labour Party the new issues arising in our near north and the obligation upon us to establish and maintain the friendliest relations with our neighbours in that area and with the awakening peoples of Asia. But the cause of friendship is not served by ignoring facts or by forsaking principles. The people of Indonesia will think less of us, not more, if we fail to state frankly and fully where we stand on issues which we regard as vital to the cause of peace in the world and to our security as a nation. We would be the last people to deny to the Indonesians their legitimate and just rights, but however much we may want and value their friendship we will not try to buy it at the price of principles we are pledged to uphold. I believe the majority of the Indonesian people will appreciate and understand this. I know that the majority of Australians certainly do.
Obviously a negotiated settlement of the West New Guinea issue is in all respects desirable, but it must be a just settlement and a settlement that conforms to the principles of the United Nations. No other sort of settlement can be acceptable to Australia and, in the long run, no other sort of settlement will bring peace or will endure. I have said we are not interested in preserving this last remnant of Dutch imperialism in this part of the world but, having said that, justice demands that I also say that the Netherlands’ approach to this crisis gives little ground for criticism. They have been faced by a steady build-up of Indonesian forces and by repeated and unqualified declarations that those forces will be used to invade and occupy West New Guinea. Already there have been several minor clashes of arms.
The Minister has not said one word to justify the known pressures that have been put upon the Dutch by people they might think to be their friends. Nor has he chosen to reveal that his Government’s policy, in effect, is a repudiation of the Dutch pledges to the native peoples of West New Guinea. The Minister tells us there is no crisis. I say there is a crisis which demands leadership and strength of purpose which this Government has shown itself incapable of providing. This dispute has been allowed by this Government to drift to the point of crisis; and now it denies there is a crisis. Ten years ago it said New Guinea was a vital element in our defence. Now apparently one part of New Guinea is something to be negotiated away under threats of force. The rights of native peoples are to be ignored; threats of force are to be condoned and excused.
These are embarrassing issues for the Government. It dares not come out and openly declare that it is not willing to face up to the issues and that it has no policy. In a forest of words full of the honey of sweet reason, it has deliberately set out to cloak its intentions and confuse and mislead the public. Stripped of all deceit, it wants the Dutch out of New Guinea. It wants this trouble settled at any price - I repeat at any price - because it is awkward and holds possible grave political implications. The Government knows that the Australian people do not agree with what it is doing, that the Australian people abhor the idea that naked conquest might prevail over the forces of reason and decent human understanding anywhere in the world. This Government ever since it has been in office, has always solved one problem by the creation of a more difficult one, and is anxious to be rid of the New Guinea issue, heedless of the fact that, to the extent that it fails to recognize the factors and pressures that operate, it will, if history is any guide, only create graver problems for future generations.
Sir, the Australian people must be told of the dangers that are inherent in the present situation. The world also must be told, loudly and unmistakably, about the principles for which we stand. Some one must speak up for principles with the authentic voice of Australia. Of one thing we may be sure: This Government will never speak with that voice.
I charge the Government with having, through its clumsy handling of the West New Guinea issue, allowed the situation to drift almost dangerously to the brink of war. I charge the Government with having abandoned the principle of selfdetermination while pretending to support it. By abandoning this principle in respect of West New Guinea, we seem to have lost, for the time being, anyhow, our only valid, moral right to intervene in the dispute at all, and we have weakened the whole basis of our claims to govern the people of East New Guinea, for these claims rest, ultimately, in the principle of self-determination alone. Recognizing the lip-service the Australian Government gave to international principles at its true worth,
Dr. Soekarno rightly gauged that it would prove a cipher under pressures. I charge the Government with having failed to take the initiative in the United Nations to uphold the principles of the Charter, and with having failed to enlist support, particularly of the United States and Great Britain, for the principle of self-determination for the people of West New Guinea.
Australia has, in fact, suffered a great diplomatic defeat, through the muddling of a government as bankrupt of principle in international dealings as it is a bankrupt of concern for human values in its economic policies as far as the Australian people are concerned.
.- Mr. Speaker, I think I ought to begin by congratulating my honorable friend, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), on his speech. After all, he has had great difficulties on this matter and we have witnessed them from afar: How was be going to reconcile the very war-like utterances, so dramatically described in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, with the wellknown views of some of those who sit, metaphorically, behind him? And so we have been waiting anxiously to see the grand reconciliation. I do want to congratulate him on the way in which he has escaped from his known difficulties, by diving into a nimbus of words, because that is what he has done to-night But in my limited time I cannot deal with all the points I would like to deal with.
I hope I will be excused by the House for a little recollection of my earlier, and what some of you may think my more respectable, days at the bar. We had a broad rule, as cross-examiners, that if you could bowl a witness out in a really good cold-blooded lie you ought not to worry about him much longer thereafter. Bearing that little principle in mind, I just take one statement among the many made by the honorable gentleman in the course of his speech. “ Have we, as a government, ever insisted on the principle of selfdetermination?” he asked. “ Oh no “, he said, “ the Prime Minister himself has admitted that the Government has not.” He then proceeded to quote from a speech of mine made in this House on 27th April, 1961, after the visit of General Nasution.
He quoted two passages, torn out of their context, one of them referring to sovereignty and the other referring to domestic jurisdiction. And with a triumph of eloquence, or what passes for eloquence, he said, “ Here you are! This is an admission by the Prime Minister that the principle of self-determination, to which the Labour Party is now so devoted, has been abandoned by him and1 is not worth a mention.”
I sent out for my statement of 27th April, 1961. I invite all honorable members to read it, if they want to judge the truthfulness of the Leader of the Opposition. Read it! It is in “ Hansard “ at page 1247 and the following pages. I think it is desirable to remind honorable members of it. I will not quote all the passages, because there were many passages on this matter, but here is one of them -
I went on to explain-
That is, to General Nasution - what we were doing in our section of New Guinea in pursuit of our long-held goal of improvement of living standards, education and health to a point where the population would freely determine its own future.
Later, I referred to the fact that the Government of Australia, under my own Prime Ministership, and the Government of the Netherlands had made an agreement in which they jointly declared that they were therefore pursuing and would continue to pursue policies directed towards the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the peoples in their territories in a manner which recognized this ethnological and geographical affinity. I said further -
In so doing the two Governments are determined to promote an uninterrupted development of this process until such time as the inhabitants of the territories concerned will be in a position to determine their own future.
I will not read it all because I have not time - I think I have only twenty minutes - but I went on to add -
In our own New Guinea territories, our policy is, by steady degrees and up to the limits of our financial and administrative capacity, to promote the advancement of the people so that ultimately they will choose for themselves their own constitution and their future relationship with us. We will respect their choice whatever it may be. This, for us, is not a new policy. We have pursued it for years. It arises from our sense of responsibility, a responsibility which cannot be suddenly or prematurely abandoned if our trusteeship is to be honorably performed.
Sir, those are three out of half a dozen references, in my statement of that date, to this problem in this House. And yet the bedevilled Leader of the Opposition, bemused by brawls in his own party, has the nerve to stand up here and say that this principle is something for which we do not speak, something for which we do not stand, and which apparently I am supposed to have abandoned specifically in the three statements from which I have read excerpts to the House. Sir, I recall the old principle of cross-examination to which I referred and if he were the witness I would say, “ I leave it there “.
Let me go on a little. I will not leave it there. The honorable gentleman, so pressed by his own domestic party anxieties, has thought fit, as usual, to deliver a torrent of personal abuse at me. I want to make it clear that he almost invariably apologizes in private. But he has done it. He says that I made an awful fool of myself at Suez. Really, it is about time that people understood that it is not an insult to a Prime Minister of Australia for him to be invited by eighteen nations to present their views to the President of Egypt. It was not an insult to the Prime Minister of Australia. It was not a job that anybody would covet. If anything would make one sick, it is this crawling, apologetic attitude that you should never take on any responsibility in the world, even on behalf of your most powerful friends, unless you have it underwritten for success in advance. I am happy to say that I am not made that way, nor are my colleagues.
This is the irony of it all: The honorable gentleman loves to quote what somebody said about my appearance at the United Nations in November, 1960. I want to tell honorable members that on that occasion I made a speech which was as strong as a speech could be about the principle of selfdetermination and about what we were doing in Papua and New Guinea. In that speech I made an attack on the villainous new colonialism of the Soviet Union. The Leader of the Opposition does not worry about that speech. It was not in his official newspaper; it was suppressed. But that was the speech I made. He says, “ The
Prime Minister was never fit to be Minister for External Affairs. Instead of cultivating the friendship of great countries like the United States of America and the United Kingdom he ought to be cultivating the friendship of the governments and peoples of Asia.” That was the theory that was put into his mouth at that time.
I do not want to repeat what I said on an earlier occasion, but I remind honorable members that only a month or two ago the honorable gentleman, goaded on by his friends in Sydney, made a dramatic statement the only significance of which was that he said that, instead of cultivating the friendship of the Asian people, all of whom support the Indonesian claim, I should have been prepared to declare war on them, not over the Australian territory of Papua and New Guinea for which all of us will fight, but over West New Guinea. What a paradox it is to have all this vulgar abuse of the Prime Minister, at the time being also Minister for External Affairs, on the ground of not making friends with Asia. I venture to say that no man has done more to embitter our relationships with the Asian countries in the last six months than the over-excited Leader of the Opposition.
There is really not much occasion to elaborate this matter. But so I may make it quite clear that the second point which I have been making is firmly based, I remind honorable members once more that I and later my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick), made statements in which we indicated, not for the first time, our views on this matter. We stated where we stood on such matters as peace being the great principle of the United Nations - no threats, no armed force - and the assurances that had been given to us. We stated, secondly, our belief that this matter ought to be discussed peacefully and negotiated between the Netherlands and Indonesia. If the Opposition disapproves of that, it is new to me. I can remember the time when Mr. Chifley, a former Prime Minister whose name honorable members opposite invoke, and another former leader in the person of Dr. Evatt, boasted clearly, and I thought properly, that this was a matter between the Netherlands and Indonesia. Apparently all that is gone. Those gentlemen must have turned out to be wrong.
We on this side of the House have stated our views. We have stated that we desire a peaceful settlement, that Australia is not a party principal and that we will respect an agreement made freely and not under threat of war. But above all things, we stand for the principle of self-determination of the future of the Papuan people whether they are in West New Guinea or East New Guinea. These views have been stated by us here, in the press, and in the United Nations. They have been debated all around the world. Our views are quite well known. Does the Leader of the Opposition quarrel with them?
– I do not know.
– Thank you. I do not know clearly. If he does not quarrel with them, what is he quarrelling about? If these views constitute the policy of the Australian Labour Party, what is the uproar about? If they are not part of the policy of the Labour Party let honorable members opposite rise and plainly and unambiguously say so. Let them snap out of this compromising coma into which they have fallen, rise one by one - even my friend the Leader of the Opposition - and say where they stand on this matter and what they would do that we have not done. The only answer that comes up in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition as repetitively as the beat of a metronome is, “The United Nations”. Does not the honorable gentleman know that this matter has been before the United Nations? Does he not know that if this matter were taken to the Security Council a dozen times the Soviet Union would veto whatever view was taken? Does he not know that this matter has been the subject of resolution after resolution in the General Assembly?
This idea of transferring your burden to the United Nations is no policy at all. It becomes worse than no policy at all- if, as the honorable gentleman did, one sets about jeering at what he calls the power blocs and log-rolling campaigns by interested parties. Of course, honorable members will understand that that is a reference to our old-fashioned belief that, when it comes to peace or war in this part of the world, where Great Britain and the United States stand is of vital moment to this country. According to honorable members opposite this is old-fashioned stuff. In their view we should not be interested in what he describes as power blocs. Thank God, we have a power bloc in the world! It will be a poor day for Australia if, in the name of some theoretical idea about the United Nations, we abandon our lines of communication with, to repeat my own phrase, our great and powerful friends. No country in the world more than ours needs great and powerful friends. I am all for them. I believe that the people of Australia are for them, and I believe that any policy pursued by us which would put at risk our friendship with those countries would be rejected by every sensible person in the country.
.- Having listened to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) make his apologia in respect of New Guinea I am reminded of the statement of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) who said that the Menzies Government has one ability and one ability only - the ability to do the twist. No matter how we wrap it up in old-fashioned logic and hyperbole what the Prime Minister has said to-night makes no contribution whatever to world peace, the vindication of self-determination or any of those other vital issues which were raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). Instead of doing that, the Government has dislocated its political hip in an attempt to get on side with the power bloc - an attempt which it now denies.
I want to deal with the subject of selfdetermination. The Prime Minister would not touch upon that subject. He speaks of the law. Of course, he loves legal phraseology and the retreat from reality that it offers. But he does not argue the case logically as did the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), on the basis of selfdetermination, friendly relationships with our neighbours and the goal above all goals, universal and everlasting peace. He is corny in these directions because he leans upon the old props and the outworn shibboleths, and hopes by the power of his oratory to convince people that he is right. But, in effect, he said nothing at all.
Our attack is upon the witlessness and stupidity of foreign policy as it is conducted by the practitioners on the Government side. Each has a different prescription, each has a different formula, and each has a different nostrum with the result that the patients - world peace, self-determination and the self respect of this nation - are dying. In the alliteration which my leader uses so effectively, the Government has been clueless on Cuba, lost on Laos, vapid on Viet Nam and wobbly on West New Guinea.
The Prime Minister merely threw his arms wide in agony and loss and asked, “ What have I done? “ And what has he done? Suez was a scandal. His appearance at the United Nations was a disgrace, and the things that he has done in the interval are beyond repeating. He has been a total loss. As one of his former Ministers whom he sacked and who was later chairman of his Foreign Affairs Committee said, the Department of External Affairs is being administered by half an Attorney-General, which is better than a quarter of a Prime Minister. I suggest that if, on this vital question, we have only a quarter-time statesman while the diplomatic representatives of both countries concerned are listening for a genuine voice from Australia, we have nothing. at all.
The Prime Minister set out to prove that the Leader of the Opposition had told a lie, and then proved himself to be a liar. That can be simply shown. We have heard him pontificate on self-determination, but in this regard he has been denied by his Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick), by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), all of whom have divergent views on this issue. The Australian Labour Party wants to bring the Prime Minister into line and tell him to stop preaching and heed the urgencies of the problem which we, as a workers’ party, feel should be faced. Upon a solution of that problem depends the future of the United Nations and the future of world peace.
Let me refer to some things that the Prime Minister said. In April of last year he read an outdated and rather stodgy statement about self-determination. But, more recently, sharpened by the sword behind him of the impending elections in December, he said, in relation to New Guinea -
We believe in democracy and we believe that, in due course, not too soon and not too late, but when the people of that island, or our section of it, are able to determine their future, they must and should.
He added that this was the Government’s view also on West New Guinea. Leaving aside the barbarous grammar for the moment, he meant that there should be self-determination in the whole of New Guinea including West New Guinea. He may believe that still. But who else does? What about his Minister for External Affairs? A few weeks ago he made a statement in Melbourne. He called an “ offthecuff “ conference of journalists and said that he saw no threat to Australia or to Australian territorial interests in the New Guinea situation. He said, further, that Australia accepted the view that Indonesia would soon get control of West New Guinea. Whether he was right or wrong in saying that Indonesia would soon get control of West New Guinea, that is not selfdetermination and if it is not self-determination the Prime Minister’s poppycock at the table to-night was just a bit of cheap oratory of which he ought to be ashamed. There is a bigger question at issue than how good he is at the table or how well he can do the political twist and ‘dislocate his hip or lean over backwards for Nato and the powers whose call he has to answer. We, as a party of peace and of the people, will call him to question on this.
So first, whilst the Prime Minister is an avid self-determinist, his Minister for External Affairs believes that that policy has gone. To prove that he is a selfdeterminist, the Prime Minister said, “ What is the good of going to the United Nations? “ I say that you must go back and back and back again to the United Nations because that is the only authority that can hold this crazy fabric of peace together in a world that is threatening to go to war. If there is war, it may not be just what we call a conventional war; it may be a nuclear war. Yet the Prime Minister babbles about what he said in a dusty, dreary “ Hansard “ five years ago. It is not good enough and we reject it.
We find divergence on policy on all sides. We know that Indonesia is going into West
New Guinea. We know that the powers that be have said that it must be so. We know that the Dutch are going out in due course. It is simply a question of how and when. That is an agonizing problem, but it will become a fait accompli. We know all of those things, but we want to know what is to follow. What is to happen to those stone age men who, as my leader has said, are waiting to cross to the twentieth century - the dawn men living in the hills, and hoping that some one in this twentieth century of Christianity can give them a bridge to pass over to comradeship and a decent standard of living. If this is not done the whole thing will be wrong, wicked and stupid and not only the United Nations but world peace will go.
Our attack to-night is centred upon the strange vagaries of this deviation on foreign policy. The Minister for Territories also has a different view from his leader. He is the third voice on foreign affairs on the Government side. He was trained by Dr. Evatt and the relics of old decency still remain in his thinking. He has spoken of his anxiety in regard to New Guinea - all of New Guinea I believe because he thinks of it as one subject - and has said that we cannot leave this problem to a man who wears a white collar and has been to a university. Was this a crack at the Minister for External Affairs or at the ineffable Lord Casey, the pukka sahib of foreign affairs who did worse for us in Asia than any man alive? He used to treat the Asian leaders as though they were fags at alma mater. He knew nothing about their aspirations, because he never tried to get under their skins to find what they thought. He warned that we would have to look somewhere else for a final decision on self-determination. Was he sick of the set-up as is the present Minister for External Affairs? Certainly, he did not sound too enthusiastic.
Let us consider the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition. From the denials of each other that have been made on the opposite side of the House, we can see that Peter waiting for the cock to crow three times had nothing on the Liberal Party in foreign affairs. The birds have ‘been like a cuckoo clock. They keep on and on denying each other. Sir Percy Spender said that the Dutch must stay in West New Guinea.
That was away in the dim and dusty past. Lord Casey said, “ Let us keep the problem on ice”. Sir Garfield Barwick said, “Let the Indonesians in “. The Prime Minister has now said - well, what did he say? He said that Labour was war-mongering. Then he quoted a statement of his own which was the essence of war-mongering and sabre rattling - an old weary testament to the powers that are strong enough to have their say. Then he waddled out of the chamber.
The Government has many voices on this matter. What about the two freedom fighters who are absent to-night - the honorable member for Chisholm and the honorable member for Mackellar? They are always needling the Government about these things. On 4th January the honorable member for Chisholm, writing in the “ Melbourne Herald “, said -
Never has so little been told on so many great issues of foreign policy.
He said that the Department of External Affiairs had been administered by half an Attorney-General which he concluded was a bit better than a quarter of a Prime Minister. The honorable member for Chisholm then bailed out of his job as chairman of the study group on foreign affairs. He resigned from the committee in due course, as did his colleague, the honorable member for Mackellar. But did the honorable member for Mackellar go underground? I ask that, because to-day in my mail I received a letter that indicates the attitude of the Liberal rank and file. No matter how much the Prime Minister rants about what he did and did not do, his rank and file are terrified of what he is doing. Some of them have formed what is called the United Australia Movement. I have a suspicion that this may be a splinter group of the Liberal Party. It has its offices in Sydney. The members of the group have broken away from the Liberals most definitely in relation to matters of foreign affairs. About a dozen of them live in Manly, in the electorate of the honorable member for Mackellar, who last week threw in £7 10s. to keep them going. I see in this letter the fine Italian hand of the honorable member for Mackellar - or is it Machiavelli - in an attack on his leader. Is it not his hand that holds the stiletto against his leader’s back? Is this not another indication that the Government is woefully disunited in regard to foreign policy? Members of this organization have a pro-Dutch policy, and they espouse the movement. For many years I have had a feeling that the honorable member for Mackellar would like to be associated with the movement. Honorable members on this side of the House know what I mean by that.
Let us have a look at the powerful attitude of the fellows who have formed the United Australia Movement which might become the United Australia Party and eventually split the Liberal Party into threads. They went to New Guinea. Let me tell the House what they said after their visit. Listen to these patriots! Listen to these strong men! Do they want selfdetermination for the natives or do they want anything for the natives? Do they want a united Papua? Do they want a resolution of the dispute between our friends, the Indonesians and the Dutch? They want nothing of the sort. Listen to their testament of faith. They paid their own fares to New Guinea and after their visit they issued a statement saying that action should be taken immediately to protect Australian investment in Papua and New Guinea. They followed that with the statement that Indonesian aggression should be resisted. It might disturb business; there could be no business as usual in those circumstances.
The Prime Minister said that the Leader of the Opposition talked about aggression and rattled the sabre. I have just told the House what happens when the hawks fly and the eagles gather. These people went to New Guinea to see whether there was any trouble there, and, if there was, to look after their collateral. They do not care about the natives or about the fellows who are sleeping in the hills of New Guinea. They do not care whether they rot under the Indonesians or under the Dutch. They are concerned only with dividends on timber operations, placer mining, and cocoa and coffee plantations. Behind it all is the freedom fighter, the honorable member for Mackellar, stabbing his leader in the back while pretending to support him. Of course, the honorable member is not here to-night.
The Prime Minister protests that his Government has done so much, but why has he lost sea-way altogether? Why does nobody take any notice of him? All that he gets is an air-mail letter to tell him what has happened in a new situation. How different were conditions under the Labour Party! Doctor Evatt was a negotiator of peace between the Dutch and Indonesians. Mr. Justice Kirby and Mr. Critchley were on the good offices committee and they negotiated, with an American and a Dutchman, in amity, the restoration to the rightful owners of sixteen or seventeen of the islands in the archipelago of the Spice Islands, leaving one in dispute. That matter could not be settled at the time and it was left for settlement later. We had friends then, and we had influence. We sat in conference because, as our leader said, we were respected for our views. We were neighbourly, and we were peace-loving. All that has gone. Because some string in Washington, London, or even in Paris or Bonn is pulled, we go one way or another. This is unreal and un-Australian. Under Labour, Australia’s foreign policy was particularly strong, but it has gone with the wind. There is no chance of anybody asking the leader of this Government what he thinks. The Minister for External Affairs thinks differently from him, and the rank and file, if they think at all, are ready to knife him on the issues I have mentioned.
The Leader of the Opposition put a valid case about neighbourliness with all the people to the north of us. We have lost those neighbourly relations, and we regret that. We have no hatred of the Indonesians. Our own history has been one of helpfulness. We helped in the initiation of the Colombo Plan. We know what the people to the north have been through. We know of their weary fight to restore themselves to nationhood, which they have done so valiantly. We know that the Dutch, after a very bad start, after 300 years of colonialism that nobody can condone - who would want to condone it? - have had a change of heart in the century in which we live and are now trying to do their best. The questions at issue are not imponderable. They are not incapable of solution. We can in some way ask the United Nations, our court of peace, to do something about them. We must go back to the only solid doctrine that remains, the doctrine of selfdetermination.
In a side-swipe, the Prime Minister asked us what we would do about defence. He is the last man who should ask that question. He was thrown out of office in this country because he could not defend it. It was a simple case of a rifle with its butt in Liverpool camp near Sydney, and its barrel over in Libya, in the Western Desert. By no miracle of oration could he bring the two together. What happened to him then? He got the sack. The Prime Minister said that the Labour Party must be careful in talking about defence, but he does not know anything about defence.
We have to face this issue without hypocrisy. The Dutch want to get out of West New Guinea and the Indonesians want to get in. Dutch and Indonesian representatives, with an American observer, were recently meeting near Washington, but this meeting failed. However, that does not mean that the situation is hopeless. We must try again, again and again to solve it. If this matter is resolved by force of arms by our Indonesian neighbours, and by the hurried exit of the Dutch, would that not leave a stain or some feeling of hatred? We do not want that any more in the Pacific. Colonialism is a thing that the Asian nations want to remove, but in removing it we must not leave an ineradicable scar. That is the argument that our leader put most strongly.
We come back to the question of selfdetermination. In this matter the Labour Party leaves itself no room for manoeuvre. We are pinned on the axis of selfdetermination. Other people may say that there is almost a fait accompli and that the Indonesians must go into West New Guinea in due course. The Labour Party, in solemn conference assembled, declaring its policy, has stated that it is devoted, not only to unswerving loyalty to the United Nations, but also to the principle of selfdetermination. We cannot and dare not get away from that, nor do we want to. Was not the case argued by the Leader of the Opposition better than the nonsense we heard from the Prime Minister, whose statement did not have any validity? It was gutless and witless. He wants to make the people say that he is a wonderful orator. He has great gifts, and sometimes we pray that he would act with courage and vitality and really speak his mind.
I want to refer briefly to the Minister for External Affairs, who presented this paper. He is another legal man. 1 have no criticism to make of legal men, except that I am a literary man, and legal men and literary men have extreme divergences of opinion. The Minister for External Affairs reminds me of a famous court case when he discusses this situation. It was the case of Cocklecarrot and the seven red dwarfs. In that case the judge was so annoyed at the submissions of counsel, who put a case something like that which the Minister has put, that he burned down the court-house in despair.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Before commenting on anything that was said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) or the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), I should like to say something that I think should be said, and that should, perhaps, ‘be thought by people not only in this national Parliament but in the whole of the Commonwealth. The situation in relation to West New Guinea, between the Dutch and the Indonesians, is of vital importance to us in Australia. We cannot divorce it from the situation in our own Australian New Guinea. That is why I was surprised - indeed I might even say sorry - to hear the speech of the honorable member for Parkes; and, without engaging in flag-waving, I should like to remind him of something of which he should be aware. There are people in Australia who have a stake in New Guinea because of the sacrifices made there by so many Australians not so very long ago; and when we are discussing a subject that should be treated seriously, I think it is a tragedy for both the individual member making the speech and this national Parliament that the honorable member for Parkes should skylark as he did.
The old subjects and the old stories were brought up about the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I shall mention them briefly. There have been occasions when, in this
House, I have disagreed with what the Prime Minister has done.
– You never voted against him.
– If the honorable member for Wills ever becomes half the man the Prime Minister is, he will have cause to feel very proud indeed. I believe that every Australian should feel proud of the task performed and the responsibility undertaken ‘by the Prime Minister in connexion with the Suez crisis. Irrespective of the success or otherwise of that mission, it was uplifting to the prestige of Australia that our Prime Minister should have been chosen to lead the nations who had discussions with President Nasser. I repeat that when we realize the situation that faced the nations in connexion with the Suez crisis we have just cause for feeling great pride in the task the Prime Minister performed on that occasion.
Then the honorable member for Parkes, as did the Leader of the Opposition, made slighting comment on what the Prime Minister had done in the United Nations. Once before in tins House I pointed out that there was logic and common sense in what .the Prime Minister had suggested to the United Nations in the unfavorable atmosphere prevailing at that time for a meeting between the head of the United States of America and the head of Soviet Russia. With the knowledge that a new president was to be elected in the United States of America, it was obvious that at that time there could be no value in having a meeting between the heads of those two countries. And that was only one of the minor contributions which the Prime Minister made. His contributions in connexion with self-determination, the newtype colonialism and disarmament were all things of which we can feel justly proud.
Then there was another point. I do not want to labour it, but the honorable member for Parkes mentioned it. I refer to the old story of how, when this country needed solid government for its defence, the present Prime Minister and the parties he led were put out of office. I have said on previous occasions, and it is worth repeating now, that on that occasion ‘the Government was put out because two independents - one of them in particular - placed their own personal ambitions before the safety and security of this country. And I speak as one who had personal knowledge of the defence effort of this country prior to and in the early days of the war.
The subject of colonialism has been mentioned. 1 believe that this has coloured the thinking of some of the leading nations ot the world in connexion with the present situation between Indonesia and West New Guinea. It would seem that these nations feel that colonialism is a bad thing. 1 say quite frankly that while we admit there are pages in the history of colonialism of which none of the colonial nations can be proud, there are also many pages of dedication to duty and devoted service by the civil servants who assisted in the advancement of the people of those colonies of which we can feel very proud. We should not speak about one side, of colonialism only. We should feel proud of the other side. We should realize the contribution that our own Mother Country has made in lifting the standards of many people while she was a colonial power.
This question of West New Guinea must be approached calmly. I say advisedly that one can appreciate the feelings of the Indonesians. The fact that I disagree with their claims in connexion with West New Guinea does not mean that I do not have an appreciation of some of the factors behind their thinking on this matter. However, I believe that there is a weakness in their case. The people of West New Guinea should be given the right to determine their own future; and in this connexion I should like to refer to some of the things that were said by the Leader of the Opposition. During the course of his speech, he said, “ Unfortunately, there has not been a Labour Party in government in Australia”. At the time, he was accusing this Government of having a stop-and-go policy. Of course, we completely disagree with him. We deny that we have a stop-and-go policy in either the economic or international field. When the Leader of the Opposition said, “ Unfortunately, there has not been a Labour Party in government in Australia “. I asked myself, “ What Labour Party? “ I asked that question because, even in this matter relating to West New Guinea, there seems to be confusion among honorable members opposite. The Leader of the Opposition talks about the contradictions of certain members on this side but there are even greater contradictions among the members of the Labour Party. One member of the Labour Party went so far as to say that it would not be worth spending one Australian life in endeavouring to do anything for Dutch New Guinea, that we literally should not take any action at all and that we should not oppose, the Indonesians on this question. [Quorum formed.I I repeat that when the Leader of the Opposition spoke about how unfortunate it was that the Labour Party was not in government in Australia I thought, “ What Labour Party? “ because, when we examine the statements made by members of the Labour Party, we find more confusion within their ranks on this question than there is in connexion with some other matters and, heaven knows, they are confused enough on them.
The Leader of the Opposition said that we should have taken the matter to the United Nations, that the Labour Party places its trust completely and absolutely in the United Nations. Nobody denies the great principles of the United Nations. But having said that, I contend that we must be realistic and face the situation as it exists in this twentieth century. This matter has been brought before the United Nations many times. What has been done by it? If the matter were again brought before the United Nations and there were a vote in favour of this territory being handed over to the Indonesians, how would it fit in with the Labour Party’s assertion that these people of Dutch New Guinea should be given self-determination?
A criticism I have made previously is that perhaps the original mistake was made seven or eight years ago when the matter was raised in the United Nations and nobody took the line that the claim to this territory by the Indonesians was merely a claim over people by a colonial power that had no right to make such a claim. I believe that at that time we failed to state the matter in the way it should have been stated. Instead, the claim was put forward under the rules and legal forms of the United Nations, that this was a domestic issue between the Dutch and ‘the
Indonesians. Subsequently, the Opposition criticized the Government for the statement that if there was an agreement between the Dutch and the Indonesians we in Australia would not oppose it. I ask honorable members opposite: If Holland and Indonesia, two sovereign nations, had reached agreement on this problem, could Australia have opposed it? Could we have said that we completely disagreed with the arrangement reached between two sovereign nations? And if both those nations had ignored our opposition, in what way could Australia have enforced its views? If there had been such an agreement, obviously Australia could not have opposed it in any way.
Dutch sovereignty over West New Guinea is exercised as a trust to bring the people to a point of development where they can become independent. Last year it was my privilege to go to Hollandia on a very brief visit. I saw for myself what the Dutch were doing there and how they were training the native people to take their part in the government of their country. That is not something that can be done overnight. When I hear all this talk about exploitation by colonial powers, I should like the critics to ascertain just how much the Dutch have spent in helping the people of Dutch New Guinea ultimately to obtain their independence. I should like the critics to ask themselves how much this work has cost the Dutch people. When those facts are known we can appreciate that the people of Holland have accepted this trust as a responsibility to assist the people of West New Guinea to attain their independence.
There is an analogy between Dutch New Guinea and Australian New Guinea. One cannot be divorced from the other. As the Dutch have a responsibility in West New Guinea and are facing up to it, so we are facing up to our responsibilities in Australian New Guinea. We support the Dutch in their plan to give the people of West New Guinea their independence. We, too, are working on a parallel plan for the ultimate independence of New Guinea. In all our discussions, comments and statements on this matter we should stress the work of those who train the native peoples for their independence.
I have a full appreciation of the psychological approach of the people of Indonesia towards this problem. They are very conscious of having attained nationhood and are proud of their achievement. However, in this instance I completely disagree with them. Though I appreciate their feelings, especially in view of their long association with and geographical proximity to Dutch New Guinea, ethnologically and in other ways the people of Indonesia have no association with the people of Dutch New Guinea. That is the basis and level on which the problem should be resolved.
The one thing that disturbs me is the threat to use force. I hope that wise counsels will prevail among the leaders of Indonesia and that there will be no resort to force in an effort to resolve this situation. I conclude by referring again to the analogous position of our own trust territory in New Guinea. I want to emphasize something that I have previously said in this House - that we in Australia have a moral responsibility to our people in New Guinea. The more we emphasize this fact and make it known, the more other nations will understand and appreciate that we are not willing to abdicate that moral responsibility under political pressure of any kind from any country. If we were to abdicate that moral responsibility we would be failing in a sacred trust for two reasons. First, this responsibility was handed over to us by the League of Nations and subsequently by the United Nations. Secondly, it has been entrusted to us through the courage and the sacrifice of men who were willing to defend the freedom of this country with their lives not so long ago.
.- When the people of the United States of America celebrate their independence they do not celebrate 7th September on which day in 1783 the British signed the Treaty of Paris and gave them their independence. They celebrate 4th July, 1776, a day seven years earlier. Two generations of bitterness were produced by the fact that there was a seven years’ delay - seven years’ fighting - before that independence was accepted by the former sovereign power. Likewise, to-day, when the Indonesians celebrate their day of national independence they do not celebrate 27th December, 1949, the date on which the Dutch accepted the independence of the United States of Indonesia. They celebrate 17th August, 1945, the date on which the Indonesians declared their independence. In that intervening period there were two severe punitive expeditions by the Dutch which were aimed at the destruction of the Republic of Indonesia, and the four years have left a legacy of bitterness that we see to-day.
At the outset I want to say to the House that I do not believe that we should approach Asia or Indonesia with an attitude of fear. I do not even believe that we need fear Indonesia if that country were to possess the western portion of New Guinea. Fear is a bad counsellor because it is extremely near to hate. So is bitterness a bad counsellor, however understandable it may be because of the events between August, 1945, and December, 1949. There has been some suggestion of instability of government policy on this question of Indonesians claim to Dutch New Guinea. I do not think that a government that changes its policy over the course of time is necessarily open to criticism. But what is quite certain is that there has not been stability of Government policy on this question. I do not want to labour that point because I do not think it matters, but I want to stress one thing: That is, the attitude of Asia on this question which the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) thought was so decisive. 1 refer to the question of our claim to be the custodians of backward people.
Before the United Nations Sir Percy Spender declared on behalf of Australia that the Commonwealth of Australia would never consent to the people of West New Guinea being treated like cattle. The answer was given to him by U Pe Kin, the representative of Burma, and I think that his reply shows very clearly the outlook of Asia on this question. Therefore I propose to quote Burma’s representative. He said -
I turn now to the Netherlands argument that it is under an obligation to continue its control over Irian because of the “ backwardness “ of the population of Irian. That is an argument which I should like to consider in greater detail in view of the fact that my country has had some experience with peoples at similar levels of development, and, I might add, with which I am familiar through personal participation.
Many of this Committee may recall that in the days of British rule in Burma, special provision was made, not only for so-called “ backward tracts “, but also for other “ excluded areas “… These “ excluded areas “ embraced the Shan states, the Karenni and the tribal hills, which therefore were governed and administered differently from Burma Proper . . .
Even though these tracts were administered differently from the part of Burma which was subject to Ministerial control … the United Kingdom placed no obstacles in the way of incorporation of these peoples and their respective areas in the Union of Burma when the Union achieved its independence on 4 January, 1948.
Then he went on to speak of India and said -
Allow me to refer to a further instance of this principle by the British. In India, the 19S1 census indicates that there were then approximately 19 million persons living in tribal conditions, but when India achieved its independence all of these people were incorporated within the national domain. This is certainly not dumping millions of people like cattle, as my friend and colleague. Sir Percy Spender, said this morning. Nor is it colonialism by a non-European Power . . .
In the course of time some of the force has been taken from U Pe Kin’s argument, because the Shan states which Britain handed over have twice overturned democratic government in Burma, and most recently India has had to have constant - if I might use a phrase which is sometimes called the quintessence of colonialism - punitive expeditions against the tribal people of India. But at any rate, that shows us that Asia is not quite prepared to accept the view that a former colonial power is necessarily a better custodian of primitive people than the succession States. It is also revealed in the course of history that they have under-estimated the difficulties of administering this sort of people, as Burma and India have found to their cost.
Now, of course, there is a difference between the peoples incorporated within a territory like Burma or India and people across the sea from the rest of Indonesia in West Irian. There is no doubt that in the earliest attempted settlement as such - the Linggadjati agreement - the Dutch did leave some strong expectations on the part of Indonesia that they would receive West Irian, but when the time came for the transference of power the draft charter of the transference of sovereignty left for a year’s negotiation the question of what would happen to what was then called the Residency of New Guinea.
If you like, this is the point up to which the Labour Government, through Mr. Thomas Critchley, was handling the situation. We were represented on the good offices committee, and Indonesia gained its independence. This question of the Residency of New Guinea was left as a subject for future negotiation on which both sides agreed to differ. The Labour Government then fell, and the present Government made its first intervention in this matter during the period of one year which was left open for negotiations between the two powers. In that period the then Minister for External Affairs, Sir Percy Spender, went to the Netherlands and made a public statement which I shall quote. I want the House to observe that there was nothing in it about self-determination. There is a statement in the most strong terms about the permanent, inalienable, unchangeable and unshakeable Australian interests. The statement was to this effect -
The Australian Government does not consider that Indonesia has any valid claim to Dutch New Guinea, the future of which is of vital importance to the Australian people . . .
Honorable members may interpret those words as they like, but nobody can interpret them as an encouragement to the Dutch to negotiate - and this was a statement made, I remind the House, in the Netherlands itself. Sir Percy Spender continued -
Australia has a deep attachment to the people of Australian New Guinea. … If the claim of Indonesia to Dutch New Guinea were conceded to any degree at all, it would be a matter of time, no matter how genuine may be assurances to the contrary, when the claim will be pushed further so as to include the trust territory of Australian New Guinea and its people.
That is one of the strongest accusations ever made, and it was made by the Minister for External Affairs in that Menzies Government. He continued -
Experience has shown to the Australians how strategically vital to Australian defence is the mainland of New Guinea. I have pointed out before that we cannot alter our geography which for all time makes this area of supreme consequence to Australia. Quite apart from its military and strategic significance, one cannot disregard the ever-increasing Communist pressure in Asia. Communism has not got any foothold yet in Australian New Guinea. Australia is determined in so far as it can to ensure that it will not.
– Did not the honorable member’s leader express similar sentiments recently?
– I am not concerned whether he did or did not. I am saying that the Australian Government would not make that statement to-day, and that it was made during the course of a period when the question of the Residency of New Guinea was still open to negotiation. There is no doubt that the whole tenor of Australian policy was to urge the Dutch to shut the door upon negotiation at that time. You may applaud the policy or you may oppose it, but I think it is clearly stated there. Indonesia advanced certain arguments to the United States of America which were powerful. I do not want to attack anything the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said except what I think was - and I shall put the kindest interpretation on it - a complete misunderstanding of the point made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). When the Leader of the Opposition referred to power blocs he was not talking about the United States or the United Kingdom. He was talking about the unshakable blocs within the United Nations which adopt unshakable attitudes on this question. Dr. Soekarno explained to his people the arguments that he advanced to the United States. They were arguments of which the United States would not be unmindful. Dr. Soekarno said - . . in the case of West Irian, the American attitude in this matter is always connected with what attitude she has to take towards the Netherlands. America is always balancing. I told them openly and bluntly: You are a tightrope dancer, between the East and the West, between Nato and Asia, between Nato and Indonesia. This is wrong, I said. Because if it goes on like this, the Indonesian people will not be able to see the anticolonial attitude which they could see earlier with the Americans. It is becoming more and more blurred. “ What is the matter with you now, America? “
As a result of this, the Indonesian people start to look in another direction. Their (American) anti-colonialism is not so clear, but their (Russian) anti-colonialism is very clear. That is why the Indonesians start to look in another direction; to put it frankly: Indonesia starts to look with sympathy at Moscow. Actually, you will discover that it is in Moscow that they justify Indonesia’s claim on West Irian. It is there that the Asian-African Conference was accorded full support. It is there that our independent policy has been justified. Were we to make request for a financial loan; well, in a few minutes the money is there. Although I as President ;say that everybody is good, the fact remains that one shows a wavering attitude while the other discloses clarity in vision.
Indonesia is not the only power to use her capacity to manoeuvre between the Eastern and Western blocs but that is an argument that I would say is shrewdly directed at the United States. Dr. Subandrio equally shrewdly directed an argument at the Commonwealth of Australia when he said -
Towards .our closest neighbour, Australia, I should like to say this. Our security in many fields are interlocked with each other. In this context the Indonesian people do not understand why the Australian Government harbors aspirations towards West Irian. Once Australia realizes that Indonesia as a whole is more important than a Netherlands colonial enclave in West Irian, then I think we will have achieved our aim in laying the basic foundations of peace and ‘security in that region.
I do not think there is any doubt that Indonesia is being urged on to war by the Soviet Union. I do not think that the fact of Russia agreeing with Indonesia should be accepted simply. The Soviet Union, in August, 1939, entered into a military alliance with Adolf Hitler to attack Poland On that occasion Herr von Ribbentrop received the Order of Lenin. Russia wanted to see a war started in western Europe and that occurred. Communist China is giving Indonesia gratuitous advice on how to wage an amphibious war although she herself has not been able in twelve years to take Quemoy and Matsu. I have no doubt that Communist China, the Soviet Union and .the P.K.I. - the Communist Party of Indonesia - desire Indonesia to start a war but it is extremely doubtful whether they desire Indonesia to succeed in that now. Lenin had a policy of revolutionary defeatism which could be put into effect in several ways. If Indonesia entered upon an unsuccessful war with the Netherlands, and if as .a result Nasution and Soekarno were discredited, the Communist Party’s chances of taking over the country would be enhanced. In the world to-day only the Communists have a vested interest in disaster.
As late as 6th November, 1957, the Commonwealth Government was very adamant on this matter. At that time it had consultations with the Netherlands, aimed at an ultimate co-ordination of policies in respect of Australian New Guinea and West
New Guinea. Those conditions were interpreted’ .in Indonesia .as an attempt at some point of time to establish a nation 01 Papua. By the time of the SubandrioCasey communiqué of 1959, the Commonwealth Government’s policy had changed somewhat. The Australian Ministers then said that they stood by the principle of selfdetermination but that if the Dutch and the Indonesians could negotiate a settlement in conformity with sound principles, the Australian Government would be happy to accept it. But, of course, it should be recognized that that attitude is not really standing by the principle of selfdetermination. The honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) twitted the Opposition and said, in effect: “Suppose the United Nations makes a decision about the transference of West New Guinea. What then becomes >of your support for the United Nations? That is not self-determination.” It is equally true to say that if Holland and Indonesia reached an agreement that had no reference to the people of West Irian, that also would not be self-determination.
I think w.e can underestimate the capacity of the West New ‘Guinea people for selfdetermination. Elections were held in West New Guinea by universal suffrage. Only in the towns where the people are literate could the ballots be taken in written form. Elsewhere the election was held by what is .called a whispering ballot. That is the type of ballot .used in all central African elections. In a whispering ballot, the voter speaks to the poli clerk and the poll clerk records the voter’s choice of candidate. That process is farcical by our standards but it is not farcical by the standards of many nations of the African bloc - nations which apparently are very critical of the capacity of these people of West New Guinea to decide their future for themselves.
The Labour Party is disinclined to move quickly to any position that involves trading in people, whether it be trading in the people of West .Berlin without their consent, trading in the people of Formosa, -Quemoy and Matsu without their consent, or trading in the people of West New Guinea without their consent. We do not dispute that there are greater powers than Australia in this world, but I believe that in the last resort we should stand for what Tunku Abdul Rahman was attempting to achieve - the administration of this territory in some objective way until such time as the world is satisfied that the people of the territory can decide their future for themselves. Were they to decide in favour of Indonesia, we would have nothing to fear.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I think everybody in the chamber will be aware that a vast number of people in Australia and in our own New Guinea are vitally concerned about the trend of events in the New Guinea area in the past twelve months. For the first time in its history, Australia is faced with a situation that is new for this part of the world - the possibility of an outbreak of hostilities not immediately involving a world war. I think it is well at the outset to refer to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). He nominally represents the views of Her Majesty’s Opposition in this chamber. I regret deeply that in the debate on this very serious subject that vitally concerns the people of Australia the Leader of the Opposition did not rise to greater heights and did not divert his speech along more statesmanlike lines instead of pursuing an argument that involved a personal attack on the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I am sure that to-night’s effort by the Leader of the Opposition must have given food for thought to many people who expect qualities of responsibility in an alternate leader of our great Commonwealth.
When we analyse the gist of the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition, two points emerge as clear as crystal. The first is that the premise on which he bases the whole of the Opposition’s argument on this matter is fallacious. He believes that we have a complete right to intervene and to dictate the future of West New Guinea. The second point is that his speech contained no useful suggestion, except that which has already been proved impracticable - referring the matter to the United Nations. Surely Opposition members are capable of reading the various papers we have seen in reference to the debate that was held in the General Assembly last year when the Netherlands’ motion on this matter was submitted. If they have not read these papers, I suggest they refer again to that portion of the speech of the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick), appearing at page 901 of “ Hansard “, in which he deals with the substance of, and the voting on, what was called the French-African countries’ motion. They will then see the difficulty that faces them in ever implementing the suggestion they have made in their speeches.
It is well to keep clearly in our minds when we think about or discuss this question that legally Australia has no claim to intervene in this delicate situation. If ever there was a time when Australian pressure could have been justified and might have had some real influence on the issue, it was at the time of the struggle for Indonesian independence. At that time, in 1947, the Labour Government handed over the foreign policy of the country on this issue to the waterside workers. That was a time when the Australian Government might have had some influence. Honorable members opposite should realize this and not try to divert their minds by using spurious arguments. It is perhaps as well that the people of Australia realize what happened at that time.
I have a feeling of sympathy for those people in Australia who believe that we as a nation should take a stronger stand, even to the extent of military intervention, to ensure that the people of West New Guinea shall in due course be given the right to selfdetermination. I can understand the apprehension in the minds of people who think that if the area is passed over to Indonesia in a deal with the Netherlands, the Papuan people will not be given the opportunity of self-expression and self-determination. There have been unofficial statements from time to time from Indonesian sources that some form of local autonomy may be provided, even to the extent of hinting that there may be some opportunity for complete self-determination. But I do not think we can accept that as a possible basis for the future. Those statements must be treated with a degree of reserve.
However, we as a nation have always hitched our international intentions to the charter of the United Nations. While our tie with the world body does not mean a complete abandonment of our national foreign policy - and we have already on several occasions taken on extra-United Nations obligations under several treaties, as honorable members well know - our observation of the charter does rule out any suggestion of gunboat diplomacy, however attractive it might at times appear and despite the recent encouraging example of India in its action against Portuguese Goa.
I believe the Australian Government’s attitude in regard to Dutch New Guinea has been correct and consistent, or at least as consistent as a changing situation will allow, despite what a few self-appointed pundits write in popular articles in newspapers. One probability does emerge, which must have a direct influence on the Australian Government’s thinking. With the rejection by vote of the United Nations of the Netherlands offer to hand over the administration of West New Guinea to a United Nations appointed authority, financed by Dutch money on the present scale of expenditure, the tendency in influential Dutch circles could well be for their thinking to turn more on the hopeless nature of their position. They have antagonized, apparently irremediably, the Indonesian Government. They have lost almost the entire corporate and individual investments they possessed in the Indonesian islands. The prospects of discovering worthwhile riches, including oil, in New Guinea in substantial quantities have been disappointing. The area of Dutch New Guinea is poor and very difficult to develop, or even to control to a minimum degree. The only thing they have saved is face. It could well be said that the influential circles in Holland may be inclining to the view that this has been a most expensive face to save. If they are going to continue to attract world criticism, expressed in the votes of the United Nations, they would be wiser to give the game away, relieve their own taxpayers of a substantial burden, and hope that in due course the wound will be healed and they may re-enter some of the very substantial trade that they lost with Indonesia.
I propose to develop this proposition a little further. It is a matter for our serious consideration that a resumption of friendly relations between the Netherlands and Indonesia, and, as a result, the reintroduction into Indonesia of Dutch administrative and financial skills, leading to a more stable political and economic atmosphere within Indonesia, would be the best possible wind of change that could blow to the advantage of Australia and the South Pacific. Whatever may be our apprehensions about the Netherlands coming to terms with Indonesia and agreeing to withdraw from West New Guinea, that is a decision that can be made only by the Netherlands Government. Personally, I cannot imagine how this territory can be anything but an unrewarding burden to the Indonesian Government, beset as it is with political, economic and administrative problems of the first magnitude. The only possible advantage might be that it would be possible then for Indonesia to relieve its own population problem to some extent. It also may be, and probably is, wishful thinking to imagine that a rapprochement could take place between Indonesia and the Netherlands at this late stage. But it is not an impossibility. If it would lead to more stable political and economic conditions in Indonesia - assuming that there is this possibility - it would certainly override any disadvantage that might flow from Indonesian control of West New Guinea. This must be considered by the people of Australia and of Papua and New Guinea.
At all costs, our policies should be directed towards the prevention of an outbreak of hostilities. I say that without any fear of contradiction, and I believe I express the genuine aspirations of the people of Australia when I say it. Such an outbreak of hostilities would give a unique opportunity for open or undercover intervention by Soviet Russia, or some other Communist power. Soviet Russia has already shown its interest in the area by giving direct encouragement to President Soekarno in his more extravagant statements.
It may be possible in the event of a change of sovereignty for West New Guinea to obtain an undertaking that at some future date the Papuan people shall be given the right to express their wishes for the future association of their country, but in view of the attitude of Indonesian spokesmen, this does not appear at all likely. Without some such undertaking, the project - which has an appeal to all our minds - of a separate country of New Guinea, including West New Guinea and Australian Papuan and New Guinea in combination, would appear to be an impossibility.
Another matter that gives me concern is that there has been a pronounced change of attitude by Indonesian leaders on this issue. For some years, until the recent statements of warlike intentions by Soekarno, Subandrio and military leaders, we as a nation had been assured that Indonesia intended to achieve its objective by peaceful means and that force would not be used. The recent militant attitude, to which India’s intervention in Goa may have given the green light, gives us cause for thought as to how far we can place any confidence in statements of intention in the future. This naturally leads to the question whether Indonesia will limit its claim in New Guinea to the present Dutch territory.
One of the oft-recurring governmental practices in some countries involves diverting attention from internal economic and political problems by loud and continuous propaganda on external matters. In this connexion it is a matter for conjecture whether the loss of their main talking point, through the acquisition of West New Guinea, might force Indonesia’s leaders into making more extravagant claims. Let us have no illusions about the addition of West New Guinea to the Indonesian Republic solving any of that nation’s problems. As I have said previously, West New Guinea can only form an added incubus which will exert very great additional pressure on Indonesia’s already strained financial and administrative resources.
It is undeniable that the best interests of Australia and of East New Guinea will be served by the prevention of an outbreak of hostilities. The Minister has said: -
We had no military commitment with the Netherlands but armed conflict in West New Guinea would present Australia, in common with other countries, with a grave problem and would certainly not be ignored by the United Nations. It would threaten world peace and could well bring disaster to South-East Asia by its encouragement of Communist activity and intervention.
This supposed desirability of intervention is supported by Communist assertions that force is justified in what is deemed to be a war of liberation. The Communists make the decision as to what is a war of liberation to suit themselves, but obviously the decision in this case would be designed to create the most favourable impression with a nation in the so-called uncommitted bloc at the expense of a nation in the antiCommunist camp. It would be on this basis that action would be taken.
What is the alternative to the current Australian policy of attempting to bring about a peaceful solution by negotiation? The first alternative obviously involves a reference of the dispute to the United nations, and in this connexion the Minister has given very powerful arguments to show that at the present time this would be unlikely to be very successful. I have pointed out earlier in my speech the fact that on present indications it would be quite impossible to bring about a solution acceptable to either party. Without being in any way critical of current trends in the United Nations, we must at least face the facts.
Another alternative is that we could commit ourselves in advance to the military defence of Netherlands sovereignty and the right of self-determination. I do not believe that the persons advocating this course, or the less forceful policy of attempting to bluff, really understand the implications of what they are suggesting. What might have been a fashionable attitude a century ago is far from realistic in the present atmosphere of world relations. While most of us fully realize the inherent problems of Australia and East New Guinea of a voluntary or compelled transfer of sovereignty of West New Guinea, we would be either blind or insane if we advocated or agreed to a precommitment to enter physically into the dispute. I do not think it does any harm to Australia’s relations with other countries to express our views honestly and genuinely in regard to this matter. After all, the criticism of friends is sometimes helpful, and I believe we would be failing in our duty if we did not indicate the way we are thinking and how we believe this problem should be solved.
Finally, as this has been referred to by other speakers, let me say that Australia’s long-term security would be greatly enhanced by stability and progress in New Guinea, and it would be seriously prejudiced by a premature establishment of an immature and economically unsound selfgoverning republic. Mr. Speaker, let me say again that the Government’s attitude has been as consistent as has been possible, having in mind the changing circumstances that have surrounded this dispute. I believe that the alternative attitude suggested by the Leader of the Opposition has already been proved impossible of success. The advocacy of a policy which has already been proved worthless is no contribution to the improvement of Australia’s foreign policy.
– The Australian people will find little in which to take pride in the speech made by the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) on 15th March regarding the dispute between the Indonesian Government and the Dutch Government concerning the destiny of the native people of West New Guinea. It seems odd to me that two foreign powers should be arguing over the destiny of the native population of West New Guinea without the voice of those people being heard in the matter. The preservation of human rights, selfdetermination and independence are vital matters that concern all people in all nations. These matters should be guarded jealously. I am sure that if Australia ever found itself in the position in which West New Guinea is now placed, Australians would expect loud and strong protests to be made. But what are we hearing now? We hear only speeches of appeasement in all quarters.
This is such an important matter that every nation should be saying and doing something about it. I am afraid that the part of the world in which Australia and New Guinea are situated is so isolated that the larger and older nations tend to forget that we even exist. Because we are so far from the centres of world activity, and because our population is so small, little thought, if any, is ever given to the grave matters that affect us. People in other countries might sometimes think that perhaps important principles concerning human rights are being violated in this part of the world, but because of our smallness and apparent insignificance we are forgotten or brushed aside as constituting only a handful of people not worth bothering about The Menzies Government is mainly responsible for the fact that people have adopted this attitude towards us, because it has done little to boost Australia’s prestige in world affairs.
The Labour Party has an opinion on this matter. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr* Calwell) gave it to the House to-night, but I shall repeat it. The Labour Party asserts that the only people who have the right to determine the future of West New Guinea are the people of that country. The United Nations holds that the inhabitants of the Trust Territory of New Guinea are not yet fit to govern themselves. The Labour Party believes this to be true of the inhabitants of the rest of the island of New Guinea. But the Labour Party will support and cooperate with the United Nations in its efforts to resolve the present dispute over West New Guinea so as to avoid armed conflict. In essence, the Labour Party believes in the right of self-determination for the 700,000 people in West New Guinea, and, for that matter, for all other people.
The view of the Dutch Government, as I understand it, is that it has sovereign rights in the administration of the territory of West New Guinea. It feels that these are full legal rights. It has stated what it believes to be its responsibilities, and has told of its intentions, on numerous occasions. Its policy is to develop the territory on behalf of the native people to the attainment of independence and self-determination at the earliest possible time, and then to withdraw. The Dutch people have established local government in the territory, with native representation in the Parliament.
Let me also refer to some of the things that have been said on this matter by the Indonesian Government. On 29th November, 1960, the Indonesians were part sponsors of an important draft resolution in the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. I am sorry to find that they are now acting contrary to the sentiments expressed in that resolution. The document which I will read gives an indication of what the attitude of most nations should be on West New Guinea, especially the nations that are members of the United Nations.
The document is a copy of a draft resolution that arose out of agenda item 87 at the fifteenth session of the United Nations on 29th November, 1960. The heading on the draft resolution is: “ Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.” If that means anything, it means everybody including the people of West New Guinea.
I shall read only the operative clauses of the draft resolution in order to show how the Indonesians are acting contrary to it. Indonesia sponsored this resolution, in association with 24 other nations which were as follows: Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia, Ceylon, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia and Turkey. The operative clauses of the draft resolution read as follows: -
The draft resolution, the operative clauses of which I have just read, is very clear. It was carried in the United Nations by 89 votes to nil, with Indonesia voting for it. If the 89 nations that voted for that draft resolution mean anything and if votes mean anything, they should be solidly supporting self-determination and independence for the 700,000 native Papuans in West New Guinea.
The draft resolution, part of which I read and which was sponsored by Indonesia in association with 24 other nations, contains these words -
Mindful of the determination proclaimed by the peoples of the world in the Charter of the United Nations “ to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small “ and “ to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom “…
I shall now refer to the matter of small nations. The population of West New Guinea is composed of 700,000 native Papuans, 18,000 Europeans and 18,000 Asians. So, honorable members will see that the population is predominantly Papuan natives. If West New Guinea was granted independence, it would not be the smallest nation to have achieved this natural right. Nations with smaller populations enjoy independence and are also members of the United Nations. For instance, Cyprus has a population of 560,000; Gabon 425.000; Luxembourg 324,000; and Iceland 172,000. In our own vicinity, just recently the New Zealand Government gave selfdetermination and independence to West Samoa which has a small population of 110.000. In terms of population and area. West New Guinea is well qualified for selfdetermination and independence.
Apart from West New Guinea once being a portion of the Dutch empire, the Indonesian Government has no natural claims to it. By almost any scientific standard - ethnological, linguistic, botanical, zoological or geological - New Guinea does not belong to the Indonesian archipelago. In my opinion West New Guinea should be placed under a secure trusteeship under the auspices of the United Nations Trusteeship Council and its people and territory should be made inviolable and backed by all the resources available to the United Nations in educational and technical assistance, in order to bring the people of West New Guinea to a stage of development at which they could, without any conditions or reservations and in accordance with their freely expressed will and desire, govern their own native land.
We hear a great deal about settling this dispute by peaceful negotiation. That hackneyed phrase is used so much in diplomatic circles nowadays that it has become also a cliche. In this cold war era it can almost be taken for granted that when that phrase is pressed into service it is a prelude to surrender. I hope that this West New Guinea issue will not become just another take-over with one imperialist handing the territory over to another. The West New Guinea issue will be settled by peaceful negotiation, provided all resistance is withdrawn and the territory is handed over to the Indonesians. I believe that that would be a gross miscarriage of justice.
The war-like talk, the parading of military weapons and the threatening public statements that appear in world newspapers from time to time do not suggest peaceful negotiation. Several such statements have appeared in the newspapers recently. I wish to refer to one that appeared in the “Sydney Morning Herald”, of 19th March. The article is headed “ Soekarno Orders His Commanders To ‘ Keep Ready For War’”, and reads -
President Soekarno of Indonesia yesterday ordered his military planners to continue preparations to take West New Guinea by force, if necessary.
Such statements, if they were made as reported, were improper, coming as they did before the conference in Washington, which was supposed to be a meeting to settle this vital matter by peaceful negotiation. To say the least, such statements were intimidatory and would be made only for the purpose of winning a point by submission.
Perhaps I am only a voice in the wilderness, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I believe that I would be lacking in courage if I did not express a protest on behalf of the native people of West New Guinea who at the present time are unable to help themselves. I believe that every person in every nation must learn that it is only by painstakingly helping people in every land - no matter how small or remote - to improve their economic and social wellbeing that we can build one world of free* dom and justice.
I did not read the preamble to the United Nations resolution. With the concurrence of honorable members, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the complete resolution. It reads as follows: -
Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia, Ceylon, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia and Turkey: draft resolution.
Mindful of the determination proclaimed by the peoples of the world in the Charter of the United Nations “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small” and “ to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom “,
Conscious of the need for the creation of conditions of stability and well-being and peaceful and friendly relations based on respect for the principles of equal rights and selfdetermination of all peoples, and of universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion,
Recognizing the passionate yearning for freedom in all dependent peoples and the decisive role of such peoples in the attainment of their independence,
Aware of the increasing conflicts resulting from the denial of, or impediments in the way of freedom of such peoples which constitute a serious threat to world peace.
Considering the important role of the United Nations in assisting the movement for independence in Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories,
Recognizing that the peoples of the world ardently desire the end of colonialism in all its manifestations,
Convinced that the continued existence of colonialism prevents the development of international economic co-operation, impedes the social, cultural and economic development of dependent peoples and militates against the United Nations ideal of universal peace,
Affirming that peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic cooperation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law,
Believing that the process of liberation is irresistible and irreversible and that, in order to avoid serious crises, an end must be put to colonialism and all practices of segregation and discrimination associated therewith,
Welcoming the emergence of a large number of dependent territories into freedom and independence in recent years, and recognizing the increasingly powerful trends towards freedom in such territories which have not yet attained independence,
Convinced that all peoples have an inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory.
Solemnly proclaims the necessity of bringing to a speedy and unconditional end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations;
And to this end
Debate (on motion by Mr. Haworth) adjourned.
Address-in-Reply: Acknowledgment by Her Majesty the Queen.
– I desire to inform the House that I have received from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral the following communication in connexion with the Address-in-Reply: -
I desire to acquaint you that the substance of the Address-in-Reply which you presented to me on 13 th March, 1962, has been communicated to Her Majesty The Queen.
It is The Queen’s wish that I convey to you and honorable members of the House of Representatives Her Majesty’s sincere thanks for the loyal message to which your Address gives expression. 28th March, 1962.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) is not in the House this evening. I informed him earlier that I intended to raise the matter of television.
– I shall see whether I can get him now.
– I hope that he will be present.
The matter which I wish to mention, Mr. Speaker, is this Government’s bungling in its policy on the provision of national television programmes for rural centres. I wish, first of all, to refer to a question thatI directed to the Postmaster-General on13th March. I asked -
What is the date on which the Newcastle national television station will commence transmitting?
The reply was that it would commence about April, 1963. I asked further-
Will this station originate programmes, or will it only relay Sydney programmes?
The answer, briefly, was that there would be a relay of national programmes, that there would be no need for studio facilities at the start and that, as the service developed, provision would be made for items of local interest. In the thirteen rural areas in which the Government has decided to provide national television programmes, local artists will not be used and these programmes will depend completely on services provided by the city stations. Let us see how this compares with the announcement made by the Postmaster-General on 30th April, 1959, when he referred to the decisions made by the Government and said, among other things -
It has decided that, as far as practicable, priority in the grant of such licences would be given to applicants which are local independent companies not associated with metropolitan stations . . .
There will be commercial stations independent of metropolitan stations, but, with respect to national television programmes, this Government maintains its policy of centralization and refuses to give country people the advantage of local national programmes. Rural areas in New South Wales will be dependent on Sydney programmes, Queensland rural areas will be dependent on Brisbane programmes, rural areas in Victoria will be dependent on Melbourne programmes, and so on throughout the Commonwealth. This is the sort of thing that is happening under the administration of a Minister who is a member of the Australian Country Party - a party that is allegedly pledged to decentralization. The Minister continually brings forward this policy of centralization on the part of the Postmaster-General’s Department. Members of the Country Party talk about decentralization, not just with their tongues in their cheeks, but, in effect, with their tongues right through their cheeks. That shows how insincere they are. I protest against this Mr. Speaker. I am completely opposed to this Government’s policy.
What do we find in Sydney? The Sydney ** Daily Telegraph “ has been called “ Bob’s Bible “. We know that it is run by the glamour boy, Sir Frank Packer. We all know him. The “ Daily Telegraph “ in its issue of 3rd May, 1959, stated -
Federal Cabinet is determined that country people must get the same quality and variety of television programmes as city people.
Yet rural people will have to wait at least twelve months to get programmes alternative to those already provided by the national stations in the capital cities.
I have recently watched the programmes transmitted by the local station in Newcastle. On Sunday night I saw a film that was at least twenty years old. The leading female artist was Joan Blondell, I do not go to the pictures very often, but people who attend more regularly than I do say that a man who was so old a film artist would be old enough by now to have grown a beard. In a later programme, one of the leading artists was Ronald Colman. I believe that he has now passed on. These circumstances indicate how old are the programmes that are being shown. The whole thing represents a tie-up by means of which the city stations are preventing the rural stations from obtaining up-to-date programmes. So viewers in the Newcastle area are able to obtain only one up-to-date programme which is transmitted by the independent station there.
The Government is doing nothing about this situation. I know that the Minister will say that these things - especially the provision of alternative programmes on national stations - cost money. From the introduction of television in Australia in 1957 to 1961 the Postmaster-General’s Department, according to figures published in the thirteenth annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, collected in viewers’ licence fees £15,574,385. We can estimate that in the financial year 1960-61 the department will get approximately £7,500,000 from this source, making a total of about £23,000,000 in revenue obtained from these licence fees. The department’s expenditure on television in the city areas has totalled approximately £27,000,000. The Government is not providing the facilities that ought to be provided in rural areas. It is not giving those areas alternative programmes. Most important of all, it is not affording local artists an opportunity to earn a livelihood on local programmes by the use of their abilities and talents in their own districts. What interest have the people of Wollongong, Newcastle, or the north coast, the south coast or the mid-west of New South
Wales in Sydney artists? They would rather see their own local artists who have equal talent and ability to provide enjoyable programmes for television viewers.
The provision of satisfactory television programmes for viewers in rural areas is a responsibility of this Government. The Postmaster-General, who is allegedly a supporter of decentralization, should get on with the job of providing alternative programmes for rural viewers by giving them the benefits of national television services. He should not now change the policy which he enunciated almost three years ago, when he said that programmes for rural viewers would be comparable with programmes provided in the cities. He stated at that time that commercial stations in rural areas were not to be in any way tied to the large metropolitan stations. A similar policy should be applied in respect of national stations, which the Minister himself controls. I say quite definitely that he has fallen down on the job, and so has the department. The Minister and the department have neglected their responsibility to provide proper television facilities for country people. Indeed, the Government has been concerned only to provide proper facilities for city viewers and has ignored the interests of rural people.
I appeal to the Minister to review the programme for the provision of national services in Newcastle in April, 1963. The date should be brought forward a considerable way. All that is necessary is the installation of the transmitter. A relay of city programmes would be preferable to further delay. At a rough estimate, I believe that it would cost approximately £200,000 to relay metropolitan programmes through a country station. For the thirteen rural areas to which television is to be extended, this represents a total cost of £2,600,000 for the provision without delay of programmes by national stations.
According to the figures given by the Postmaster-General in a debate that took place in this House recently, some £27,000,000 has been spent for the comfort and enjoyment of city viewers. Country viewers are making their contribution through the £5 licence-fee that they pay each year. I appeal to the Minister to review this programme and to bring forward the national alternative programme to a date much earlier than April, 1963. I also appeal to him to review the policy whereby rural viewers have to watch city programmes, instead of being able to watch their own local artists displaying their ability.
.- On Wednesday night, 7th March last, I referred in this House to the proposed Commonwealth electoral redistribution. On that occasion I quoted a passage from the “ Australian Liberal “, the official organ of the Liberal Party in New South Wales. To me, it was quite a disturbing passage. I was somewhat surprised that no Government supporter rose to make a reply to my speech on that occasion. Therefore, I ask to-night that a supporter of the Government tell me the significance of the paragraph which appeared in the “Australian Liberal “ in January last. After reviewing the general election results in December, the article concluded by saying -
It is believed certain that, following the expected redistribution, which may reduce by one the number of electorates in the inner Sydney suburbs, the party -
Meaning, the Liberal Party - will regain its New South Wales strength and possibly increase it.
Honorable members opposite must admit that the only possible conclusion to be drawn from that statement is that the redistribution will be a gerrymander to ensure that the Government parties regain the seats they lost in the general election on 9th December last.
Subsequent to my reference to the matter in this Parliament, Mr. Speaker, a public reference was made to it in one of the Sydney newspapers. In an article dealing with the proposed electoral redistribution, the newspaper stated that, on the basis of other precedents of which we are all aware, the Australian Labour Party would have good grounds for misgivings about the proposed redistribution. It is time that the Government was aroused to a sense of moral responsibility in this matter. It should be prepared to explain the significance of that statement I have read. It appeared in a publication which, after all, is the official organ of the Liberal Party in New South Wales. The paragraph is not simply conjecture by some outside body, but is a confident statement that the Liberal Party will recover the seats that it lost, following the forthcoming redistribution. That is a pretty scandalous statement, and I should like to know from supporters of the Government whether it is in fact an indication of a gerrymander, or whether it refers to something else that is not apparent to a person who reads the statement.
Although I raised this matter in the Parliament, no reference was made to lt by honorable members opposite. I suppose that the public is of the same mind as the Labour Party, and is aware that the Government is in a rather desperate position. It is not often that a government remains in power with an effective majority of only one. Therefore, I think we may be excused for having the kind of misgivings that we entertain, especially as we have had such a recent reminder of what can happen by way of redistribution. I refer to the position in South Australia, where the Labour Party, having polled 56 per cent, of the total vote, is still not able to attain office, the distribution of seats in that State being as it is.
I was in Western Australia for a few days last week, and there I gained firsthand information of what the Liberal Government of that State proposed to do had it not been for the intervention of a former Liberal member of Parliament, Mr. Oldfield, who subsequently resigned from the Liberal Party and is now linked with the Australian Labour Party as that party’s endorsed candidate for the seat of Maylands. That is public information in Western Australia. Most people with any political awareness will know of the procedure that was adopted, and that it was necessary to go to the courts to prevent the Western Australian Government from carrying out an outrageous gerrymander in that State. I cannot speak on the basis of actual evidence, but we on this side of the House understand that there have been discussions and committee meetings, involving Government supporters in this place for some time now, concerning proposals for redistribution. There are three or four Ministers in the House at the moment, and I ask them whether it is a fact that there was a meeting to-day of the Cabinet, or of a Cabinet sub-committee, to deal with the matter of redistribution. These questions call for an answer, and I am challenging the Government to come out and give an assurance, not only to the Labour Party, but to the Australian people, that every proper safeguard will be employed and that justice will be done in administering the electoral law so far as the proposed redistribution is concerned.
The other matter that I want to refer to briefly concerns superannuation. Numerous requests have been made to me, Mr. Speaker, about Commonwealth superannuation payments. In New South Wales only recently, both the Liberal Party and the Labour Party made strong promises, Which the Labour Party has subsequently honoured, to increase by 2s. 6d. the value of each superannuation unit of retired public servants in that State. This matter of superannuation payments has been raised in the Commonwealth Parliament time and and time again, even while I have been here. It has been contended that persons in receipt of Commonwealth superannuation payments have not been receiving a fair deal from this Government. I have not much time to put forward a detailed case now, but I point out that last year’s Budget Papers indicated that the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund had a balance of £80,900,000, that total expenditure from the fund was £9,000,000 and that receipts were £18,600,000. Not only is there a big, accumulated fund, but the annual receipts are double the outgoings. There are many retired public servants who are urgently in need of relief because inflation has intervened since they retired, and their superannuation payments have not the value that they used to have.
The contributions to the fund by public servants, not taking into account contributions from Consolidated Revenue and interest from the accumulated fund, amount to£9,100,000 a year or, in other words, to more than the total outgoings. Why is it that retired Commonwealth public servants cannot have an increase in the payments that they receive from the fund? It is true that an increase was granted in respect of public servants who retired before 1954, but that is eight years ago, and in the intervening time there has been a distinct loss of value of superannuation payments.
I remind the Government again that there is an accumulated fund of£80,900,000, that outgoings in recent years have been only half the amount of the payments into the fund, that the contributions made by the Government itself amount to£6,000,000 a year, or to two-thirds of the amount that is being paid out, and that interest on the investments by the fund amounts to £3,500,000 a year. To the eye of an observer, therefore, there is plenty of money in the fund. The amount going into it each year is more than adequate to meet the current outgoings. Why, then, cannot these unfortunate people be given the relief that they so much desire? Of course, this cannot be dealt with in isolation. The matter of social services is joined with it, because many of these people receiving superannuation have to depend in part on an age pension. The fact that they receive £2 a week or more in superannuation benefits debars them from the pensioner medical service. They are nearly worse off than the person who saved nothing and contributed nothing to a superannuation fund.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay). Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the House do now adjourn.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
What is the total amount expended by the Government in each State in renting properties for Commonwealth purposes?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Interest on Government Loans.
b asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amount of loan interest was paid by (a) the Commonwealth Government and (b) State governments during the years 1949-50 and 1960-61?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice. -
What are the (a) aggregate amounts and (b) percentages from the year 1958-59 to the latest date for which figures are available for the component parts of the gross national product which are shown in the answer to a question appearing in “ Hansard “, Vol. H. of R. 26, pp. 917-8, of 5th April, 1960?
Mr.Harold Holt.- The following table contains the information requested in respect of the years 1958-59, 1959-60 and 1960-61:-
son asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
g asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
What quantities of French-type bean seeds have been imported during the last three years?
n - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has furnished the following replies to the honorable member’s questions: -
n asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
r asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
As statistics of the incomes received by pensioners are not collected regularly, it is regretted that the information sought by the honorable member is not available. Such information could be obtained only by a special survey which would involve a considerable amount of work. As the honorable member is aware, income from certain sources is ignored for the purposes of the pensions means test. The main forms of income disregarded are: income from property; gifts or allowances from children, parents, brothers or sisters; and payments, other than annuities, by way of benefit from friendly societies. Moreover, up to 10s. a week of a pensioner’s income may be disregarded for each dependent child under 16 years of age. However, .a special survey of all age and invalid pensioners in New South Wales made in the latter part of 1958 gave the following information: -
The survey did not obtain any information regarding the number of pensioners receiving income of 5s. per week or less. At 12th February, 1962, there were 581,957 age pensioners and 94,758 invalid pensioners in the Commonwealth. I should perhaps point out that the income taken into account in the survey was as maintained for pension purposes, but without allowing deductions in respect of dependent children. Aggregate income was halved in the case of married persons. It is also desirable to emphasize that the percentages shown above are those applicable in one State only over three years ago, and are not necessarily representative of the position which then applied or now applies in the Commonwealth as a whole. They broadly conformed, however, to corresponding figures yielded by a sample survey conducted in Victoria in 1956. The introduction of the merged means test in March, 1961, has no doubt varied the income distribution of pensioners. For this reason the information given above should be treated with reserve.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 March 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620329_reps_24_hor34/>.