24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister for External Affairs give the House any information concerning developments in the United Nations in connexion with the Cuban affair?
– I can tell the House that the Security Council has met, that before it there are two resolutions and that a number of delegates have spoken. It has occurred to me, Mr. Speaker, that there is no journal or newspaper in this country which prints texts of important documents, and I think it will be convenient if I place on the table of the House, for the information of honorable members, the texts of the resolutions before the Security Council, a short abstract of the speeches - it must necessarily be short as the information comes to me in cable form - and copies of documents such as those containing the proclamation of the President of the United States of America, and the resolution of the Organization of American States, so that honorable members may be fully informed. I have to-day asked my department to prepare a short document containing these texts. It may not be possible to lay it on the table of Ohe House until some time this afternoon.
– We shall get it to-day?
– Yes. It will contain the information I have mentioned. I will follow this course from time to time, as I have documents which I am quite sure will be useful to honorable members, and which are not available, as one might have expected they would be available, in other places.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I refer to the judgment handed down this week by Mr. Justice Ashburner, direct- ing that, in the port of Sydney, where bales of wool, stacked three bales high, are to be snottered. four men instead of two are now to be employed. Is it not a fact that the union’s claim was that four men should be employed, and that it refused for some time to pursue this claim through lawful processes, although encouraged to do so by the Minister and by the shipowners? ls it not a fact that the union, instead of pursuing the claim as it was urged to do, indulged in a series of strikes which cost the waterside workers themselves thousands of pounds in penalties for lawlessness, and caused disruption of the smooth dispatch of wool and other exportable commodities so important to our national economy?
– The decision by Mr. Justice Ashburner, handed down yesterday, can be divided into two parts, one relating to Melbourne and the other relating to Sydney. In the case of the Melbourne dispute Mr. Justice Ashburner decided that there should be no increase in gang strengths for palletized cargo below decks. As to Sydney, he decided that when stacks were three or more bales high, and were to be broken down by fork lifts with goose-neck attachments on top, the number of men should be increased from two to four. The reason given was that the work was arduous1 and consistent. It follows that if the size of the stacks was two bales or less, and it was broken down by other means, the existing award would stand, with two people to be employed. I think that it is right, as the honorable gentleman has well said, that there was a number of quite useless and fruitless strikes on this issue. We have urged the men to go to arbitration, and the result in this case is a clear illustration Sir, that if the men disregard the blandishments of their Communist officials and resort to arbitration they will be fairly and properly treated by the Arbitration Commission itself. We believe in arbitration.
– Do you not believe in the right to strike?
– I have often asked honorable members whether they believe in arbitration. I believe in arbitration. I have consistently asked the honorable gentleman opposite who interjects to say whether he is against us in reference to east New
Guinea, and whether he is against us in relation to arbitration. It is high time that the people on that side of the House made up their minds on where they stand. We on this side believe in arbitration, and we say that this is an occasion when it has been demonstrated that arbitration works in the interest of the rank and file.
– I remind the Prime Minister that on 2nd October, in reply to a question without notice directed to him by the honorable member for Port Adelaide, he said that he would make a short, formal statement in a day or two about the moneys provided by the Commonwealth for the purposes of education. As it is now three weeks since he said he would do that, I ask whether there have been any particular circumstances which have caused the delay. Can the right honorable gentleman say when his statement will be made? Can he assure the House that there will be full opportunity for a debate on the statement during the present session of the Parliament?
– I did not want to interrupt the Estimates debate with this matter. I have said that I will table a statement. I will do that on the day that the House resumes, and I will certainly do my best to see that time is available for discussion.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Three weeks ago, I asked the Minister whether he would examine material which I had brought before the House regarding the persecution of the Jews in Russia, and whether there was any way in which this material could effectively be brought before the United Nations. The Minister promised to look into the matter and see whether there was some way in which he could effectively do this. Can he now tell the House whether he has been sucessful yet in finding a way to bring this most important and human question to the notice of the United Nations?
– As I promised, I did pursue the question of whether something effective could be done in this matter in the United Nations and put the question in study. As a result of examination I find that there is on the agenda of the Third Committee of the United Nations an item headed, “Manifestations of Racial Prejudice and National and Religious Intolerance”. I think that this is an item under which the matters mentioned by the honorable member could be suitably raised. Accordingly, I have instructed the officers assigned to that committee in New York to raise before that committee the question of the treatment of Jewry in the Soviet Union as a manifestation of religious intolerance which comes within the item. I may say that the item envisages a resolution to call on governments to remove manifestations of racial intolerance and to legislate to prevent their occurrence. I have asked the officers to include in their submission a reminder that the Declaration of Human Rights contains a provision that a man has a right to leave his own country. It is suggested that if nations find that they cannot accord religious tolerance to a minority, at least they should give members of the minority the right to emigrate. These instructions have in fact already been given.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the department noted any relationship between what has lately been described as turbulence in industry and the rate of industrial accidents in industry? Has it come to any firm conclusion in the matter? Has it considered setting out a national code in respect of industrial safety, particularly in the industry most concerned? Would the Minister agree to consider legislation, based on the Commonwealth’s industrial powers, in respect of such a national code, in the interests of industrial safety?
– We have not noticed a close correlation of industrial turbulence and industrial accidents. I think the honorable gentleman would know as well as any one that for many years the department has been engaged in a campaign to induce employers and managements to introduce the best possible safety measures. Not so long ago I addressed a conference dealing with the problems of industrial safety on the waterfront and in the manufacturing industries. I will bring the honorable gentleman’s question to the attention of my department to see whether a codification of existing provisions and regulations can be made. As soon as I can get a satisfactory reply, I will pass it on to the honorable member.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been drawn to a report that the Soviet Union is building a large naval base at Ambon, which is in the Indonesian islands group?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable member refers, but it is inaccurate. No naval base has been constructed at Ambon. A harbour is being built there. Dredging is being done and wharfs are being established, but that work is being done by the United States of America. It is quite true that at the same place the Soviet Union has what it terms an institute of oceanography, where it is training merchant service officers, marine engineers and, I think, commercial fishermen, but the harbour is being developed by the United States.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Will the question of rail standardization be referred to the Economic Survey Committee now being established by the Government?
– The terms of reference of this committee have been announced and the committee will no doubt act within those terms.
– Can the Minister for External Affairs amplify in any way the reports of border incidents in Timor between Indonesian and Portuguese troops? What casualties, if any, have occurred? Does he know what has given rise to the report that the Portuguese have shelled Indonesian ships off the coast of Timor?
– I have no official confirmation of what I have read in the newspapers about this, and I crave leave to think that there is a degree of exaggeration. There are constant incidents on the border of the two territories in Timor, usually over cattle or something of that sort, and completely unconnected with international affairs. So far as the report of the shelling of Indonesian vessels is concerned, I certainly have no information at the present moment which would suggest that that report is correct.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. I ask: Has India ever sought to purchase quantities of Australian wheat on terms similar to those offered to the People’s Republic of China? If not, does the right honorable gentleman agree that- only India’s lack of capacity to pay, and not absence of need, has prevented her from purchasing substantial additional quantities of wheat? Finally, in view of India’s obvious need to divert a greater proportion of her available foreign exchange to the purchase of modern arms in order to defend herself, and the inevitably greater sacrifices that her already starving people will have to make, will the Prime Minister consider making a gift or extending long-term credit facilities for the purchase of a substantial quantity of wheat by this Asian democracy and fellow Commonwealth country?
– The Minister for Primary Industry will answer the question.
– The substance of the early part of the question is not in accordance with fact. I cannot recall India having asked for terms similar to those obtained by the Chinese. But there have been negotiations with the United States of America, which has acted magnificently in donating wheat to India under Public Law 480. We are kept informed from time to time of the intentions of the United States under that law, which makes allowance for sales by other nations on a commercial basis. This, of course, gives the Australian Wheat Board liberty to offer wheat to India from time to time at commercial prices, and we have been highly successful in selling wheat to India. The honorable member has suggested, I think, that the Australian Government donate wheat to India. He ought to be aware that assistance given by the Australian Government by way of donations to Asian countries, which has been quite generous and has covered many fields, has been given under the Colombo Plan. That is our approach to these matters.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer a question. Can he give the House any information about the trend of housing loans made by financial institutions during the September quarter?
– I cannot give the House the final figures for the September quarter. On the basis of the figures for the first two months of the quarter, it would seem that loans by financial institutions such as banks and the life insurance offices reached the highest total in that quarter since the September quarter of 1960. More than 7,000 loans were made. If the value of the money lent were taken into account, and the rate and volume of lending in the first two months of the quarter were projected into the third month, the total value for the quarter would, I think, represent an Australian record. Certainly, it would be higher than that of any quarter in 1960. This suggests that more money is now going into housing, and that loans are more readily available.
– In addressing a question to the Prime Minister, I direct his attention to the view expressed by the Government of the United Kingdom that that nation considers itself uncommitted in the inter- national situation developing between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I ask the right honorable gentleman: Does he hold the view that Australia, also, is uncommitted in this international friction? Does the Australian Government, like the Government of the United Kingdom, believe that the United States has embarked on unilateral action? Will the Prime Minister give to this House an undertaking that the Australian Government, rather than encourage any side in this situation, which could very conceivably develop into a total thermonuclear war, will use all its influence to have the difficulty settled by the United Nations? What is more important, will the right honorable gentleman give to this House and the people of Australia an undertaking-
– Order! The honorable member is now making comment.
– Is the Prime Minister able to inform this House and the people of Australia whether his Government has already committed the Australian nation to the active support of any side in this peace-threatening situation?
– I must say that there were parts of this question that I did not catch, but it seemed to invite me to make a considerable and considered statement on foreign affairs. I choose not to do that in answer to a question.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to constant requests by primary producers and their effective organizations that facilities should be provided for the making of long-term mortgage loans to assist the man on the land for periods ranging from 15 up to 30 years? In view of the active steps which the Treasurer has taken in that direction, can he now inform the House what progress has been made towards making a long-term mortgage bank an effective part of the rural finance provisions of this country?
– I appreciate the importance of the question put by the honorable gentleman, and I refer him to a lengthy passage in my reply when the estimates for the Treasury were under discussion. I was then answering remarks made by the honorable member for Barker, who had directed attention to this matter, as have many other members from time to time. I think that we can feel gratified at the way in which, first, the Commonwealth Development Bank and, more recently, the term lending fund established earlier this year, have directed their activities to the making of loans to rural borrowers. As I pointed out yesterday, although, nominally, overdraft lending by the banks is on a call basis, in practice many loans made to rural borrowers have almost a permanent character. In my talks with the bankers earlier this year it was made clear to me that loans to some families had carried on literally for generations. I think there is more long-term lending than, perhaps, the nominal description of the loans might suggest. However, I undertake to keep this matter closely under study in the hope that we can expand the facilities available for long-term rural borrowing.
– Is the Minister for External Affairs aware of the speech made by the President of Cuba on 8th October in the United Nations General Assembly in which he proposed a meeting between the United States of America and Cuba to settle their differences? Is he aware that President Dorticos agreed to dismantle all military installations in Cuba if the United States of America would agree not to assist any invasion of Cuba? Was the proposal refused by the United States of America? Is the Minister aware of the decision of the 45 non-alined nations in the United Nations requesting U. Thant to intervene to bring about a peace settlement? Will the Minister say whether the Australian Government will support these nations and those proposals? If not, will he explain to the House the reasons for the failure of the Australian Government to do so?
– I am very sorry, but I do not think that the House has time for me to explain to the honorable member why I do not adopt Communist philosophy. I do not think that the honorable member and I can be on common ground as to what we mean by “ peace “. In his use of the word “peace” I see a very strong resemblance to the sort of meaning given to it by Mr. Khrushchev and the gentlemen who have been stuffing Cuba with arms.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to a press release made yesterday by the Soviet Embassy in Canberra reporting certain remarks of Premier Khrushchev. Do those remarks constitute a clear declaration that Russia will not permit international verification of any disarmament measures on its own territory, and would require all members of the free world to be dependent solely on the good faith of Russian officials in regard to the carrying out of these measures? Has this tactic by
Russia constituted a mechanism whereby Russia has thwarted proposals for world disarmament?
– I have seen the release that came from the Soviet Embassy. I read this as a continuation of the statement that Russia will not in any circumstances permit inspection. It is quite true that Russia’s stand in this respect has been the reason why we have not been able to reach agreement even on a complete ban with respect to nuclear tests, lt is quite true that the proposition of the Russians is that we accept their word. It is also quite true that they deal in words very freely and very gaily. We all know - we have recently had even greater experience of this - that underneath their words is the most complete deception and that we cannot rely on their good faith in any respect, particularly in respect to disarmament. The proposition that other countries should disarm merely on the faith of Russia’s word to disarm is childish, to my way of thinking. It is absurd to ask the people of the world to accept that proposition. Every time we have an international incident, we have further proof of Russian duplicity.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Has any further approach been made by the Western Australian Government for financial assistance on a £1 for £1 basis for the secondary part of the comprehensive water scheme to serve the country areas of Western Australia? Does he agree that such a scheme would promote increased primary production, which would assist our exports? If an approach has been made, will the Prime Minister give the request favorable consideration?
– There were some discussions between some of my colleagues and the Government of Western Australia just before I came back home. I am not aware at the moment whether the comprehensive water scheme was one of the matters discussed, but I will find out and advise the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for Trade a question. Has he seen a report of the interview on 19th September between red China’s Foreign Minister and the Japanese press representatives who accompanied Mr. Matsumura, the senior adviser of the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party, on his recent visit to Peking? if so, can he confirm that the Foreign Minister, Chen Yi, stated categorically that red’ China could not recognize the separation of politics from economics - that is, trade? If not, will he ask the Japanese Embassy for a copy of the report and make it available to honorable members?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable gentleman refers. I will consider the request he made in the latter part of his question.
– I address my question to the Treasurer. Did Mr. J. G. Phillips, the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank, yesterday announce an increase in the statutory reserve deposit rate for the trading banks of 1 per cent, from 31st October? Did Mr. Phillips make the announcement because Dr. Coombs, the governor of the bank, is absent from Australia? If Dr. Coombs is overseas, what countries is he visiting? When did he leave Australia and when will he return?
– Mr. Phillips did make the statement in the absence of Dr. Coombs. Dr. Coombs is absent from Australia in the course of one of the periodic visits he makes in order to maintain contact with reserve bankers and various financial institutions of significance to Australia in other parts of the world. He left Australia towards the end of September. I understand he will return on Sunday next, so he will have been away for about a month. He went to London via Tokyo, spending two or three days in Tokyo. He had a few days in London. He went across to Basle in Switzerland for the meeting of the Bank of International Settlements. From there, I understand, he proceeded to New York, where he had talks with officials of the Federal Reserve Bank. He then went to Washington, where he had discussions with the authorities of the International Monetary Fund and other financial institu tions. I think it is highly desirable that the governor of our own Reserve Bank, who from time to time is invited by the Government to give it advice, should keep himself closely in touch with the thinking going on in reserve banks and other important international financial institutions.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. I preface it by reminding him that some weeks ago it was announced that the Department of Civil Aviation was launching a campaign to improve landing facilities, by the provision of radio beacons and night landing equipment, at country aerodromes. As it is essential to have these facilities at aerodromes, particularly during inclement weather, if a good service is to be provided, is the Minister in a position to inform me what progress has been made in this regard and how soon the work will be completed at the aerodromes in Victoria, particularly Warracknabeal?
– I know the honorable member for Wimmera has a very keen and continuing interest in country aerodromes and civil aviation facilities in the country areas of Victoria. I regret that I cannot give him the detailed information that he has asked for, but I will obtain it for him and see that he gets it as quickly as possible.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs-
– Order! The Minister for External Affairs is not in the chamber at the moment.
– Then I address the question to you, Sir, as it involves procedure. When an honorable member addresses a question to a Minister and the Minister rises in his place to reply, is it logical for the questioner to expect an answer? I raise this point in regard to what happened to the honorable member for Reid a few moments ago, when a serious and terrible situation was exacerbated by the Minister who did not reply to a simple and logical question but beat his breast and said, “ Thank God I am not a Communist “.
Are you not going to give protection to an honorable member who asks a question, so that a Minister shall not put over his own propaganda and slander the honorable member concerned?
– Order! The honorable member is now out of order.
– It is time for honorable members to get out of order in view of the way this House is handled.
Mr.-SPEAKER.- Order! The honorable member will resume his seat.
– I ask the Minister for Defence: Now that he has had time to look at the statement which he made yesterday on defence, has he compared it with the press reports last Friday, which had great similarity of detail? Can he tell the House how this information was released to the newspapers one week before the Parliament received it?
– I have not compared the speech I made yesterday with the press reports to which the honorable member refers, but I will take the first opportunity to do so.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Was there any consultation on the Cuban crisis between the governments of Australia and Great Britain prior to the presentation of his statement last Tuesday? Is this the first time that Australia has taken a position capable of involving this country in war without consulting the United Kingdom? Does this development signify that Australia has cut its traditional ties with the United Kingdom and now slavishly follows the policies of the United States of America?
– The honorable member is in error in thinking that on all occasions of this kind we are under an obligation to consult some other country before we express our own views. Frequently we have done so; sometimes we have not done so. This was a matter of singular moment and of some urgency. We gave it consideration at once - the same morning. We did not propose to remain silent on a matter of this kind or to fail to discharge the duty to inform honorable members of the view taken by the Government.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that in approximately one hour there will occur at Dandenong, in the most populous electorate in Australia, an event of very great significance? In approximately one hour the millionth Holden car will roll off the assembly line of a very large, very efficient and very modern plant. Is the Minister aware that the build-up to the millionth Holden has had a tremendous impact on employment and the standard of living in Dandenong?
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Under what standing order is the honorable member permitted to advertise the Holden motor car?
– Order ! There is nothing in the Standing Orders which permits an honorable member wilfully to advertise in this House any one or anything. The honorable member is in order provided he does not give information.
– Could the impact on employment and the standard of living in Dandenong to which I have referred have a parallel throughout Australia, showing the people of this country what can be done by the efficient use in industry of Australian resources, Australian materials and Australian know-how?
– It is true that in about one hour and twelve minutes General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited will give birth to the millionth Holden, or the mega-Holden. I am glad that this event will take place in Dandenong, in the electorate of the honorable member. It is true that this is a wonderful day for Australia. It is something that my department looks at with enormous satisfaction.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. This is nothing but a blatant piece of publicity for a private organization.
– Order! The Minister has the right to reply as he thinks fit.
– This event is important to us for a different reason from that suggested by the honorable member. This great company directly and indirectly employs in Australia 70,000 Australian working men. That is a reason for the Opposition’s hostility to the honorable gentleman’s question, and it is easy to understand the Opposition’s hostility to a company which provides so many employment opportunities. Equally do I think this event is worthy of note in view of the fact that the estimate of the number of motor vehicles to be produced in the current year has been increased steadily from about 280,000 to at least 300,000, and one company estimates that the demand for motor vehicles will be of the order of 320,000. That is heartening news for us because it indicates that employment opportunities must open up in the motor car industry and associated industries. So, Sir, I join with the honorable member in what he said in the last part of his question. It is an occasion for confidence in the motor vehicle industry, which is growing in strength. It also foreshadows that in the new year we can hope for an improvement in the availability of jobs in this important section of Australian industry.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question concerning the very grave international situation existing at pr- ,;nt. If the right honorable gentleman finds himself unable to answer questions on this subject, will he make a statement on the matter as soon as possible? Will he consider associating Australia with action taken in the United Nations and elsewhere, directed to the vital task of preventing a clash between American and Russian ships in the vicinity of Cuba? Further, will he support similar action to remove what both Cuba and the United States consider to be threats to their security? In view of the proposed adjournment of the Parliament for a week, - and of the grave international situation, will the Prime Minister undertake not to involve Australia in any irrevocable decision, and to recall the Parliament if there should be any accentuation of the gravity of the present crisis?
– I thought I had already made it clear that our ambassador to the United Nations was instructed to further, by such means as are within his power, the success of the resolution moved by the United States of America. That resolution is one eminently calculated to relieve this tension. It puts the onus, it is true, on the other people to dismantle these offensive weapons and to refrain from supplying them, but it also states that if this is done, the quarantine measures adopted could be lifted and should be lifted, and that the whole matter should be dealt with under United Nations supervision. That seems to us to be a method admirably within the spirit of the charter and admirably consistent with the general policy of the Government. As to the second part of the honorable member’s question, I do not propose to anticipate events or to enter into fixed obligations to recall the Parliament or to do something of that kind. The Government will be watching this matter from day to day. It has a full sense of its responsibilities in the matter, including its responsibility to this Parliament, and it is not going to forget those responsibilities. i
– I direct my question ‘ to the Minister for Trade. I preface it by saying that the honey industry is one of the smaller industries that will be affected if Britain enters the Common Market. It is of vital importance to the industry to retain export outlets, particularly to the countries in which it has traditionally had export markets. Can the Minister tell the House what will be the effects on this industry of the present proposals?
– The procedures currently in operation in the Common Market countries include a common external tariff of 30 per cent, on honey. In making application to join the Common Market, Britain, after negotiating with us, has asked the Common Market countries to agree that in an enlarged Common Market there should be a reduction in the common external tariff, and that there should be a preference quota allotted to Australia and similar countries enjoying preferential arrangements with the United Kingdom, for a quantity equivalent to that involved in our traditional trade with the United Kingdom, plus a growth factor beyond 1970. This is the kind of proposal, as I have previously described in the House, that the British have accepted and have put before the Common Market countries in their negotiations. This proposal has not yet been discussed at ministerial level, although I am bound to say that on similar matters in respect of which there have been discussions the reaction of the Common Market countries has not been encouraging. However, we and the British will continue to pursue the line I have indicated in defence of this industry.
– Can the Minister for Supply tell the House the number of Holden motor vehicles the Commonwealth Government has in its motor pool? Will the Minister favorably consider replacing these with Valiants, which can produce 145 horse-power and give much better mileage than Holdens and a much higher cruising speed? I remind the Minister that sales of Valiants have increased by 4 per cent, during the last year, whereas sales of Holdens have dropped rather dramatically.
– I can only tell the honorable member that the policy of the Department of Supply in purchasing cars is to purchase those most suitable to the needs of the department. The passenger fleet is split approximately equally between two makes of cars, and the Valiant, although I drive one myself, is not entirely suitable for the work of the department.
– Honorable members will be aware that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) is to lead the Australian delegation to the eighth conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, to be held at Lagos in Nigeria. He will leave Australia on 31st October. During his absence the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) will act in his place.
– For the information of honorable members I lay on the table of the House the following paper: -
Postmaster-General’s Department - Interim Financial Statement, for year 1961-62.
I point out to honorable members that it has not been possible to prepare the annual report for presentation to the Parliament before the debate on the Estimates. However, so that honorable members may have information during the debate on the Estimates I have had this interim report prepared. It must be understood that these accounts are currently under audit by the Auditor-General. His report will be tabled when the annual report is presented to the Parliament.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 6th November, at 2.30 p.m.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Act 1923-1957.—- -
.- I move - ‘[
The Customs Tariff Proposals, which I have just tabled, are consequent on recommendations by a special advisory authority, whose report I shall table later this day.
A temporary duty of £17 a ton from all countries is imposed on vinyl acetate monomer. The temporary duty will operate in addition to the normal duties but will not be imposed on goods in direct transit to Australia on 28th September, 1962, which are entered for home consumption on arrival. The Department has been taking protective action under the Customs Tariff (Dumping and Subsidies) Act to ensure that vinyl acetate monomer from Japan is not sold in Australia at less than normal value. This action will continue, but as the temporary duties recommended by the advisory authority take into account freight rates from Japan, the dumping protection will no longer include a freight element. The normal protective needs of the industry have been referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report. The temporary duty will operate only until such time as the Government takes action upon receipt of the final report of the board.
I shall table also a report by the Tariff Board on axle systems. This report, which does not call for any legislative action, has been accepted by the Government. Heavy duty axles, other than steering or driving axles, and associated equipment of the type incorporated in semi-trailers, low loaders and the like, will no longer be admitted under departmental by-laws, but will be subject to protective duties at the level recommended by the Tariff Board. I commend the proposals to honorable members.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table of the House a report by a special advisory authority on the following subject: -
Vinyl acetate monomer.
I also lay on the table of the House a report by the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Axle systems (other than steering or driving axles) and associated equipment.
The report does not call for any legislative action.
Ordered to be printed.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 24th October (vide page 1930).
Department of the Navy.
Department of the Army.
.- In addressing itself to the defence estimates the Labour Party is conscious of the fact that as a general rule, in the course of Australian history, it has been the defence party. It was the Labour Party that laid down the basis on which the structure of Australia’s defence was erected, whether it be the Royal Navy College, the Royal Military College, the Woomera rocket range or the Regular Army. I think that we can almost say that some of the equipment upon which reliance is placed under the present system was pur- chased during the term of office of the Labour government, which ended some thirteen years ago.
We are also conscious that the defence system, apart from the high responsibilities that the defence forces have for the protection of Australia, demands a tremendous expenditure of treasure and time, of labour and skill. We believe that, in general, during the last thirteen years, our resources have not been used in the way best calculated to ensure the effective defence of the nation.
One of the features of the statement tabled by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) yesterday is that it is a description rather than a proposition. Instead of outlining the general potential for defence, the principles on which defence ought to be based, and the machinery by which the policy is to be implemented, the statement of the Minister does little more than place i before us a table of expenses, listing the j actual things that were or will be purchased, and telling us, the people, who have done or will do the purchasing. This is an inadequate base for a major debate. The whole defence policy ought to be under review - and under review in such a way that members on both sides of the House may make a substantial contribution to the defence thinking of the community.
So when we examine the Minister’s statement we are inclined to look at it with a number of questions in our mind. The first question - and we shall see whether the Minister’s statement answers it - concerns the soundness of the strategic appreciation. That means the appreciation on which the defence system is based. We consider that it is highly unlikely that this appreciation is sound in view of the general foreign policy that the Government has pursued for twelve or thirteen years.
The next question is: Does the defence policy of the Government make adequate provision for home defence? The Labour Party believes that the first and fundamental duty and obligation of the Government is to defend the Australian homeland. It is equally important as an international duty to have forces available for participation with United Nations forces in such actions as may be necessary. The last obligation probably is participation in a global war.
We believe that in this particular instance the defence of Australia has been ignored, not so much in spirit as in the actual structure of the defence forces, which are probably inadequate to deal with the kind of threat that Australia may have to face. It is not a probable threat, but the ability to deal with a possible threat is the kind of insurance policy that every Australian Government has to undertake. We believe that home defence has been neglected.
We ask a further question: Does the Government’s defence policy offer encouragement to the basic defence industries in Australia - defence research and so on? We find that this had been neglected, too.
The fourth question is this: Is the defence force flexible and capable of rapid expansion in the event of war? Again, we say, the answer is, “No”.
There is one particular question which concerns me and all Australians, and that is the diminishing role of the Citizen Military Forces, in the defence system.
This is a very important factor in relation to both national morale and the contribution that Australian civilian man-power can make to our defence, as well as to the opportunities for expansion of the defence forces.
It is on those grounds that we regard the Minister’s statement as inadequate, and the Government’s defence preparations as inadequate also. During the rest of this debate my colleagues will deal with the matter question by question, and service by service, and I hope that by the end of the day we shall have proved conclusively that the Government has neglected its responsibilities in regard to defence.
I propose to discuss now the defence appreciation upon which this Government’s defence policy appears to be based. When we examine the actual structure of the defence forces we see that, as far as one can determine, we have developed a pretty efficient, small fighting unit. The number of ships is small, and I understand that the ships are comparatively out-dated. One can say that one knows perhaps a little about the Army. It appears that it is a pretty effective and pretty efficient small force - but we have to realize that it is a small force. As regards readily available man-power, comparatively it is not so numerically significant as was the force that was available to the Australian Government in 1939. The Royal Australian Air Force is probably well equipped and efficient, but again it is a very small force. We have 11,000 men in the Navy, 21,000 in the Regular Army, 16,000 in the R.A.A.F., 48,000 regular servicemen and some 30,000 C.M.F. men. Although I have not the actual figures immediately at hand, 1 have an idea that in 1939 the C.M.F. had risen to an enrolment of 78,000 or 80,000.
– That was a totally different C.M.F.
– I am not debating that particular question. In 1939 the population of Australia was 7,000,000. The Labour Party is concerned with the defence of Australia. That is our fundamental duty, and we have to see how the country is to be defended. Let us examine the proposition that we have to defend an area within Australia. We have available some ten fighting units in the Army; we have avail able some half dozen ships; we have available some 100 planes. That is a very small total force. The force which landed at Balikpapan at the end of the last war represented one-sixth of Australia’s commitment, and consisted of 40,000 men. It took 204 ships to put them there. So we have at the moment a comparatively small force. Its efficiency is not challenged, but we feel - and I think that this would be the feelings of many Australians - that the diminution of the role of the C.M.F. has prevented us from creating the tremendous pool of manpower which ought to be readily available. If you look at these statistics-
– What for?
– If the honorable member for Perth is one of those optimistic people who believe there is no need to con- sider the home defence role in Australia, he does not express that view here. We say that specialization and professionalism in the Australian military forces will prevent us from being able to expand the defence forces rapidly in time of war. Let us look at the role of the C.M.F. at the moment. I take two significant indicators. There was only a minor mention of it in the Minister’s speech. In the booklet produced by the Army - I hope it was printed by the Army printing unit, and indeed it was - the Citizen Military Force rates one paragraph. Honorable members on this side of the chamber - I think I am now expressing the view of almost all who have been concerned with this question - believe that there is a continuing and expanding role available for C.M.F. units, not necessarily associated with the pentropic divisions.
If we turn back to the beginning of the last war, there were some 75 or 80 combatant units of the C.M.F. in the Australian forces. I admit that these units were unprofessional, amateur and everything else, but it was from this kind of pool that the various forces of Australia were drawn. You may scoff at the C.M.F. if you like, but you must consider the Australian defence forces at the moment as the structure on which you may want to build a force of 200,000 men in the near future. From where would we get Monashs, Blarneys and Moresheads under the present system? I understand that there are decreasing opportunities for people in the
C.M.F. to reach high ranks. If it were not for the Monashs, Blarneys and Moresheads in the Australian military forces-
– And the Bryants?
– Probably the Chaneys too - I do not know. I am not attempting to bring this down to a personal level. I am putting it straight to honorable members that it is an historical fact that the Australian citizen military services have made important contributions to Australia’s war effort. I am sure that my colleagues on this side of the chamber will show during the day that in various fields of industry and research, as well as in relation to defence, this Government’s approach has been completely inadequate.
The thing that really concerns us on this point of strategic appreciation is our imitative attitude to other peoples’ military organizations. It appears that we are preparing a force in order to put it somewhere along a tremendous battle line under somebody else’s command, and are relying principally on somebody else’s logistical support. For instance, where is there any development of Australian shipbuilding to allow us to give complete support to the Australian services? We believe that there is not enough evidence that the integration of these services has been carried out. We believe there are a number of things that the Government must do to develop the defence system. The integration of the services ought to be carried out more forthrightly than appears to have been done so far. There must be many ways in which we can expand the significance of the C.M.F. and develop its potential. I would suggest that those honorable members opposite who have been scoffing should turn their eyes to Israel, which is in a situation somewhat similar to that of Australia. It is in a situation of isolation. In our case we are not necessarily surrounded by enemies, but we are certainly a long way from our potential friends. Israel is in a similar position, but it has managed to create efficient citizen forces without militarizing the nation.
We believe that there should be a relocation of defence training towards the northern part of Australia. This is something to which the Government should give serious consideration. It is in the northern and tropical parts of Australia and in the wide open spaces that our forces ought to be trained more extensively, because, apparently, those will be the kinds of places in which Australian defence forces will need to be deployed.
We believe also that the national development component of the defence system should be extended. Internally, our defences will rely upon the Australian transport system, but anybody who looks at the Australian transport system now must be dismayed by its inability to move large numbers of people or large quantities of heavy equipment readily to various points on the Australian mainland. The development of roads, railways, ports and airfields is, in our view, fundamental to the development of a national defence system. As was pointed our a little earlier in the day, when Hitler started to develop the fighting potential of the German nation, one of the first things he did was to put down good roads. We say there should be an expansion of the national development component of defence. We must regard this as something that affects every Australian, not simply as a question of creating a first-class fighting force.
One of the other things that dismays me a little is the non-development of the research potential of the Australian forces, particularly within the Department of Supply. I know that there is some logic behind the selection of the French antitank missile, but could not Australian scientists have developed such a missile? If they could develop the Malkara, why could they not develop other anti-tank missiles? The inhibiting factor in this regard is that we adopt a policy of shopping. There is not enough reliance on Australian techniques and know-how and on Australian industry. I think this policy will have a very serious effect upon Australia’s defence potential. It is within our capacity to build ships; it is within our capacity to organize research so that our forces can be equipped with Australian weapons. I have only to refer to the speech made by the honorable member for Maribrynong (Mr. Stokes) in August on the question of the purchase of weapons to show that we on this side are not the only people concerned about this matter. Why must we equip our defence forces on a shopping system? Why can we not rely more on Australian techniques? Why must we be so imitative in organization? Why is not the research potential of the Department of Supply being developed?
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, the estimates for the Department of Defence have come before us at a very opportune moment. The world at the moment is alerted by the Cuban crisis, and I doubt whether there will be another time when more people in Australia will be listening to a debate on the estimates for the Department of Defence. People are listening because of the international crisis, and they are listening also to hear where the Australian Labour Party really stands on the question of defence.
Although there has been talk about the Labour Party taking the reins of office in this country during the last war, I do not believe it will ever do so again in a time of crisis. I pay respect to the fact that the Labour Party did hold office during the major portion of the last war, but it was a different Labour Party then; it was a Labour Party full of solid, right-wing men. To-day, what have we got? Members of the Labour Party are completely split. They cannot make decisions on defence; they cannot make decisions on foreign affairs. Theirs is a policy of appeasement all the time, and, in many cases, a policy in sympathy with Russia. At question time to-day, I am quite sure that many people were astonished and amazed by the questions that came from the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). When we hear the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) talk about the need for more defence, that shows just what a big windbag he is. 1 make that remark because of what he said on the Defence estimates back in 1960. He said then -
Honorable members opposite are the scaremongers.
At that time we were talking about more money being made available for defence. He went on to say -
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:
Why does he want more money for defence? Against whom are we to defend ourselves - against somebody down in the Antarctic, against the Tasmanians or against the New Zealanders? Are those the people against whom the honorable member for Wills suggests that we have to defend ourselves?
The sort of talk that we hear from honorable members opposite is just hypocrisy. They know that, while there is a world crisis, the popular thing is to talk about defence. But, as soon as the crisis fades away, all that honorable members opposite can say is that we need more money for social services and that we should cut down on defence expenditure. That was the sort of policy on which the Australian Labour Party went to the people of Australia in the election campaign of 1954. Dr. Evatt, who was then Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament, said, “ We will cut defence expenditure and increase expenditure on social services “. It is all very well to say that we should spend more on social services. But we know what happens under that sort of policy: The financial arrangements of the government of the day become so tied up with social services that, when more money is needed for defence, nobody is willing to reduce expenditure on social services. The only way to find more money, when one is caught in that corner, is to carry out Labour’s policy of inflationary budgeting, and print money. We on this side of the chamber believe in a consistent policy designed to ensure the most efficient possible means of defence.
As I have pointed out, under the democratic system of government, it is often difficult to get the necessary money, because the people are not willing to give a high enough priority to defence in times when world affairs are in a placid state and there is no immediate likelihood of war. But I think that we all must realize that, while human nature is what it is - and it will always be the same - there will be fear of some sort of war between nations. It is all very well to say that there will never be any more wars, but can any honorable member really imagine human nature changing so much? There will always be some individuals who, for national or selfish reasons, will want to impose their own ideas on other people.
The policy of neutrality is something about which we hear a great deal of talk. But where does it get one? We have only to look at what is happening to Nehru in India at present. He was the leader of the neutralist countries. He thought that he could get away with a policy of appeasement. In the pursuit of that policy, he criticized other nations for their actions. But when the issue arose on his own borders, what did he have to do? He realized that he could take only one action - that he had to defend his native country. That was something that he could do only with strength. This is a world in which we have two conflicting ideologies - communism, on the one side, and free democracy, on the other.
– Capitalism, on the honorable member’s side.
– Capitalism, if the honorable member likes. I would rather defend capitalism than be a fellowtraveller who goes along with the Communist philosophy, as do some people in this place. It is all very well for honorable members opposite to laugh. But the party to which they belong cannot make any decision on this issue, for it is split right down the middle on the question. I guarantee that, if there were an election to-morrow, the people of Australia would return this Government with an overwhelming majority because of its defence and foreign policies, which contrast sharply with the approach to which the policy of the Australian Labour Party has traditionally exposed members of that party over the last ten years. The policy that honorable members opposite advocate is too one-sided; it is too much anti-American; it is too much anti-capitalism. That policy is pro-Russian in every respect.
I know that that statement is unfair to some members of the Labour Party, and I apologize to them for having made it. I know that there are many people in that party who are genuninely concerned about the matter, but where can they turn for a solution to the problem? The party is too deeply divided on the issue. I only hope that providence, some how or other, will solve the problem for the Labour Party. It is a tremendous problem for the members of that party.
The defence of Australia is a difficult subject. The whole thing is a matter of finance. We have a country which has a very large area and only a small population, and we have relatively minor financial resources at our disposal. Defence is expensive. Modern weapons are extremely expensive. Do we promote our security by a programme of increasing national development, thereby building up our internal strength, or do we concentrate on more arms and more forces? The decision that has to be made is a difficult one. This Government has tried to steer a path that will ensure a balanced defence effort. We have pushed ahead with national development as much as we can and, at the same time, have maintained very effective defence forces.
Mr. Chairman, in discussing the estimates for the defence forces, I wish to direct my remarks mainly to one subject that is of particular interest to me - national service training.
– Good luck.
– We would have more good luck in an election, if one were held to-morrow, than honorable members opposite would have. Moving about the country, I find a great deal of popular support for the idea of re-introducing a national service training scheme. I genuinely believe that all honorable members on this side of the chamber would like to see some form of national service training re-introduced. The big problem, I know, is finance. Where are we to get sufficient money? How should the funds allocated to the defence services be split up most effectively? I think that the probable reason for the abandonment of national service training was that the defence authorities felt that a better return for the expenditure could be obtained by concentrating on the regular forces and more modern equipment, and forgetting about the old system of national service training. I do not argue with that view. It is probably correct. Yet I still think that this Parliament should give a very high priority, in its thinking, to the possibility of re-introducing a national service training scheme.
I know, of course, that honorable members opposite are directly opposed to national service training. The policy of their party is that we should not have national service training. Opposition members said in this place time and time again that the old system should be abandoned, and they certainly are not in favour of the re-introduction of any new one. But I think, Mr. Chairman; that we need some form of basic training for our young men. I do not suggest that national service training should necessarily be re-introduced in the Air Force or in the Navy. We need basic training in one service so that our young men may acquire some understanding of service life. If our young men have had that sort of training, they will be readily available if we need to call on them for the defence of Australia in a war or a minor flare-up. Nothing could be more of a catastrophe for this country than for us to have to send overseas in time of war young men who are not sufficiently well trained. I believe that we shall not get very much warning of any war or any minor international incident in the future. It will come overnight. Therefore, we shall have to have available the maximum possible resources of organized and trained manpower, and we must know how many men of military age we have. They must be already inoculated against the diseases to which they are likely to be exposed in time of war. We must be able to organize them in battle units relatively quickly so that, in an emergency, three months of training at most will be sufficient to bring them to a very high peak of fighting efficiency.
I believe that apart from all these considerations - and perhaps this is almost as important as is anything else - national service training would do a great deal for the morale of the Australian people as a whole. The morale of the nation is boosted when it knows that its young men are trained and capable of fighting effectively in time of war. The morale of the whole community is greatly boosted when it knows that young men from every village, town and city go into camp regularly for the very well worth while basic training that a national service training scheme provides.
There are, of course, very important social aspects of national service training, but it is perhaps wrong to discuss those aspects when the estimates for the defence forces are being considered. When we talk of national service training during the discussion of these estimates, we must not evaluate the social aspects of the subject. We must confine ourselves to the security aspect. Nevertheless, there are important social aspects, because the nation derives great value if its young men are trained in discipline and the taking of orders. This training also teaches young men the capacity for leadership, not only for Army purposes but also in civilian life. It enables them to play a more effective role when they return to civilian life. It gives them self-confidence and the capacity to speak and work for others and to give a lead in the community. For these reasons, I believe that national service training would be a very well worth while adjunct to our present military programme.
I am pleased to note, from the statement made yesterday by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley), that the strength of the School Cadet Corps is to be increased by 2,000. National service training could fill the gap in the period between the time when young men leave the School Cadet Corps and the time when they join the Citizen Military Forces. Most boys leave the corps at about sixteen, and they have to wait a year or two if they want to join the citizen forces. If they were given some sort of basic training in the meantime, they would not lose interest.
– Young men can join the Citizen Military Forces at seventeen.
– They go in at seventeen years of age. But for many boys there is a year’s wait. In that period there is a loss of interest. These boys in the cadet corps are extremely interested in military training. But once they go out in civil life they run around and have an easy time for a while, and they are then not so keen to join up. Another very important aspect of having manpower with an organized basic training is that of civil defence. When there is a national disaster these men can give help immediately. In my area we had some severe floods this year, and we found the Citizen Military Forces organization very valuable in alleviating the hardship of those people affected by the floods.
If national service training were brought back I would not favour the old scheme of only three months’ training. A longer period is needed. It is not for me to say how long it should be. The Returned Sailors’ Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia has put forward a nation-wide programme. It has suggested a period of basic training of twelve months. I know that might be a bit long. It might interrupt the apprenticeship of some people and might result in a loss of man-power to basic industries. But I think that at least six months are needed in which to give a person a basic training. It is all right for the windbag who is interjecting from the Opposition side to get up. Your policy is one of up and down fluctuation.
– Mr. Chairman, I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark. In making it, he left out the more appropriate adjective which he used earlier.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Richmond to withdraw his remark.
– I do not mind withdrawing it. It must hurt the conscience of the honorable member for Wills to ask for a withdrawal because I am sure that he must feel, within himself, that he blows hot and cold on the subject of defence. Sometimes he says that there is too much money spent on defence because there is too much waste, and the next moment he says that more money is needed. I want to finish by saying that I believe that the re-organization of the Army under the present Minister for Defence has been very successful. The money allocated for defence purposes has been used to good effect.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I do not want to take up the time of the committee with personal abuse nor in trying to show which party is better than the other. However, I remind the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) that the electoral commissioners have not thought much of his party. I would also remind him of the record of the Australian Labour Party in two world wars, when its leadership was outstanding. We all hope that no party will be forced to supply leaders for a third world war. The honorable member for Richmond spoke about national service training. Let him remember that it was his party that abolished national service training. Now he wants it to be started again.
– He is an independent thinker.
– He is a supporter of the Government. I am sure that later on in this debate the honorable member will have his chance to vote on national service training. Let us see which way he votes then.
I want to devote the time allotted to me to speaking on the naval estimates. I have had a fair bit of experience of the Royal Australian Navy as has my friend, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley), and I am proud of my service with the Royal Australian Navy. One of the rules of the Navy is expressed in the following words: -
Take heed what ye say of your rulers, Be your words spoken softly or plain,
Lest the bird of the air tell the matter And so ye shall hear it again.
I am not going to say too much because, undoubtedly, it will come back, but there are certain things which I think should be said. The naval estimates for the current year, in round figures, are £1,150,000 higher than those for last year. My party believes in adequate defence. We always have believed in adequate defence. It was 51 years ago this year that the Australian Labour Party founded the Royal Australian Navy against much opposition. At present, we are spending about £46,000,000 of the naval vote outside Australia. We are having ships built in the United States of America. I know that we must have ships, and I am glad to see the Navy being built up, but I should prefer to see the ships built in Australia.
Yesterday, in reply to a question which I asked, the Minister for Defence said that it would take about eight years to build certain ships in Australia. I know that. If the work force were cut in half it would take sixteen years to build them; and if it were cut in half again it would take 32 years. But build up the work force and the ships will be built more quickly. I think that the men of the dockyards have as much fight to take their place in the defence of this country as any other person. They want to play their part. I hope, Mr. Chairman, that the Minister will take heed of these remarks and do all in his power to see that the dockyard services are built up.
Australia has built, and can build, ships. If we are to survive we must continue to build ships. A programme of stop-and-go is no good. If war were to break out where would this country be? We are acquiring two Charles F. Adams class destroyers. According to “ Jane’s Fighting Ships “ these destroyers are built to escort amphibious forces, and they are used in the hunterkiller submarine group.
I want to say a little about amphibious forces. When the war finished in 1945, Australia had quite good amphibious forces. We had three very good ships, H.M.A.S. “Kanimbla”, H.M.A.S. “Manoora” and H.M.A.S. “ Westralia *’. The Army thought so much of amphibious warfare that I think every soldier went to Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands to take part in amphibious training. Now that the war is over that side of training has ceased. At the present time we have not one ship capable of being made into an amphibious unit. I know that the defence people say in time of war, ‘We shall fly people in”. But how many will they fly in? A certain number can be flown in, but for the rest you have to rely on seaborne traffic. We have no ships for this purpose. Where do we get them? From what countries do we get them?
It is a very strange thing that once war breaks out ships become very scarce. We are apt to forget our history and, because of that, we have to re-live it. Let us not re-live the history of two world wars. I remind the committee of the trouble that Australia had in trying to get ships to bring the forces back from the Middle East for the defence of this country. History has proved that in bringing those troops back to Australia the Labour Government made the right decision. I know that some people have said that it would have been a good thing to see this country marred and scarred by war, but I am glad that it was not. Those of us who have seen countries scarred by war have a very lasting memory of them.
We must have ships. The naval programme as laid down is an unbalanced programme. It makes no provision for auxiliary services. A navy cannot operate with only a handful, or even many, glamour ships, and our Navy at present consists of glamour ships. We have one supply ship on the way out from the United Kingdom.
We have no repair ships, no store ships and no victualling store ships. We have no ships capable of docking smaller ships. For a navy to be balanced, it must have these resources. It is no good having merely a few destroyers capable of firing missiles. We want a properly balanced navy, and I hope the Minister will give some consideration to this need.
The Minister has had experience of these matters. He was one who served in the Navy during the war on that side which was not quite so glamorous. He knows full well how the auxiliary services in the last war were treated. With his own Fairmile he knows that no proper provision was made to look after this type of craft. I do not know whether we will have Fairmiles again; they may be outmoded. But we have not the equipment to give proper maintenance to the Navy. I say that 30 per cent, of the vote for all the services should be put aside in times of peace to make provision for things that could be used in times of war.
The Navy should be building auxiliaries. In my opinion, we need at least six fast passenger ships capable of speeds of 30 knots. In building ships, we must look 25 years ahead. In the middle 1930’s, we had a ship called the “ Awatea “, which had a speed of 25 knots. It was used as a transport. The only ship of this kind we have now is the “ Princess of Tasmania “, a cargo ferry that does 17 knots if it is lucky. I emphasize that we need six ships of at least 15,000 tons. In peace time they could be used for the transport of migrants, and in war time they would be most important. We would need them for hospital ships, for the landing of infantry, for transports and the like. We need at least twelve 20- knot merchant ships to carry our stores.
As the Minister knows, all ships, no matter what they are, have a battle station, so that in the event of war jobs can be allotted to the ships. But we are getting to the stage where we have no ships to allot to the jobs. We are procuring destroyers to escort ships in times of war. But what ships would they escort? They would not escort our ships. I know that some people say the trade unions are responsible for all requests to form a shipping line, but I do not hold that view entirely, for a lot of thinking people now want to join with the unions. I do. This is a growing country. We proudly boast that we are the eighth trading nation of the world, but we have no ships. I do not mind whether the ships are privately owned or nationally owned, but we must have ships for the defence of this country. The merchant navy is just as important as the Royal Australian Navy. One cannot operate without the other; one is dependent on the other. I hope that the Minister will see fit to make a decision to build auxiliaries.
We have coming to Australia at the present time a ship known as H.M.A.S. “ Supply “. It is a fleet auxiliary and was built in the United Kingdom, where it was manned by merchant navy personnel. The Navy says it is short of personnel, but it is providing 130 men to man H.M.A.S. “ Supply “, which should be manned by merchant navy personnel. I do not know why the Navy has allotted men to this ship. If it wants men for its own ships, it should take the 130 men out of H.M.A.S. “ Supply “ and put merchant navy men on it. This was done in the past with the “ Biloela “ and “ Karumba “. I hope some consideration will be given to this suggestion. During the last war, the casualties of the merchant navy were far greater, proportionately, than the casualties of any of the three services.
– What, the Australian merchant navy?
– The Australian merchant navy was linked with the British merchant navy.
– It had more casualties than the- Air Force?
– I am talking about casualties in proportion to numbers of men. Australia during the last war lost eighteen ships by enemy action, and it is only a small country. I say these men should get a little consideration. They are looking for work, yet the Navy is taking employment away from them.
There is another matter I think the Minister should examine. There is no dry dock between Ceylon and Sydney. I know we have a very good dry dock in Sydney and we have another very good dry dock in Brisbane, but there should be a suitable dry dock in either Fremantle or Melbourne.
– I do not care where you have it. We must have more docks so that in time of need our ships can be repaired and kept at sea. I am glad that the Navy is doing something with the survey service, but I point out that Australia at present has quite a lot of unsurveyed coastline, especially on the west coast of Tasmania.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am sure the committee was interested, as I was, to hear the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) speak for the first time on defence. Unlike some of his colleagues, he has a background which entitles his views to receive respect. But the honorable gentleman, if I may say so, makes the mistake made by so many of the members of his party in confusing the objectives of our defence policy. This Government regards the principal objective of its defence policy as being to provide defence, and it has excluded all other considerations, unlike honorable gentlemen opposite for whom the defence vote is an amount of money that can be used to satisfy other objectives, such as providing air pageants or employment.
– Do you suggest that the Government has provided defence?
– Yes I do. I want to point out to the honorable member for Batman that in a country like Australia, a developing country with a relatively small population, the money allocated for defence must be spent to provide the maximum defence. We cannot afford in these dangerous times with all the other work we have to, to use the defence vote to satisfy other perhaps worthy but subsidiary objectives. One might say the same thing to the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), when he talks about the social objectives to be achieved by national service, and so on. I would like to compliment the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) on the review he gave us of the Government’s defence plans for the next three years. They seem to me to take us well on the road to achieving a well-balanced, well-equipped and highly mobile striking force, capable of meshing with our allies - I emphasise that point because it is vitally important - to meet any considerable threat to us that may arise from the south and South-East Asian area. What is more, we will, at the end of the three year period, be capable of doing something which, up to date, we have not been completely able to do - provide the forces we have with full logistic support.
The Government’s defence policy has its critics, some of them extremely trenchant. It has become customary in the circumstances of the West New Guinea situation for people who hitherto never gave a thought to our defence to throw off contemptuous references to the size and inadequacy of our defence forces. Members of the Opposition, of course, are in a slightly different category. I am speaking of the more responsible critics of our defence policy. I will now say something about the Opposition, because year after year I have sat in this chamber listening to honorable members opposite stating that we had too much defence. The honorable member for Richmond quoted the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) who in 1960 said something along those lines - that we were warmongers and that we should be diverting the greater part of our defence expenditure to peaceful purposes. No doubt the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) will come into the debate with a burst along those lines later. But now, smelling a vote or two in the renewed public interest in defence matters, honorable members opposite have joined the chorus. As usual, they have done little to inform themselves and, as a result, are not in a position to make the contribution to public discussion and education which a responsible Opposition should make in such a vital matter.
I detect in the public disquiet in the present situation two connected elements both of which arise from the West New Guinea episode. The first is a crisis of confidence in the alliances on which hitherto our security has been held to rest. The Americans and the British let us down in the first test - it is said. So how much trust can we place in those alliances for the future? Even if we can rely on the alliances in the event of other threats - so the argument runs - the West New Guinea episode proves that we cannot rely on them in circumstances in which Indonesia is involved. This argument of course undermines one of the principal props, emphasized by the Minister yesterday, on which our defence policy rests, and starts people thinking in terms of a level of defence preparedness which will enable us to meet a threat, particularly one from Indonesia, alone and unaided. By those criteria out defence forces, I admit, look puny indeed. But that argument is based on two assumptions which I believe to be erroneous. The first of them is that it can be assumed that Indonesia, having tasted victory over West New Guinea, will now embark on a course of uninhibited aggression. The second is that because the United States of America and the United Kingdom and others were not prepared to support the Dutch position in West New Guinea by force of arms our alliances are thus proved to be worthless.
Those are two assumptions upon which the whole superstructure of this argument that we should have the capability to defend ourselves alone is built. This is not the place to discuss those assumptions in detail. It is sufficient to say that both ignore the unique nature of the Indonesian claim to West New Guinea. I can see no reason whatsoever to deduce from the circumstances of Indonesia’s action in West New Guinea that she will now embark on an aggressive course and prove a threat to Australia. Still less can I see any reason for deducing from the West New Guinea dispute that our alliances are worthless and that it is now necesary to reframe our defence policy on the assumption that we must stand alone. It may well be that there are elements of instability in the Indonesian situation which may in the future make that country a threat to Australia. I do not believe that to be so. Of one thing I am certain, and this is the important point: It is quite impossible to conceive of circumstances in which such a threat could arise and in which the interests of our major allies would not be involved and in which our allances could not he invoked successfully. I therefore conclude that it is perfectly sound for us to continue to base our defence policy on the defence arrangements in Seato, Anzus and Anzam.
It seems to me that many of the critics of the size and shape of our defence forces completely ignore these arrangements and the planning that has taken place under them. Of course, by their nature, the details of such planning must remain secret, and it is probably for that reason that they have not been given the significance they deserve. Nevertheless, the existence of planning bodies in Bangkok, Singapore, Canberra and Wellington has been publicly known for years. It is well known that we and the other powers concerned have attached senior and competent officers to those bodies on a fulltime basis. Surely the critics who find it convenient to ignore all this do not imagine that these people have been sitting there all these years twiddling their thumbs. Is it not reasonable to assume that the plans for the defence of the South-East Asian region have been made in some detail, that they extend to the allotment of forces to counter any particular threat and that the composition of our Australian forces has been profoundly affected by those arrangements? It would seem to me to be reasonable to conclude this, and to those who ask why we have not given a greater priority to this than to that in our defence armoury, I say they should remember that our defence planning is part of a well-planned larger whole and that our defence forces are designed to meet that objective.
Having said that, let me now point to some consequences of it. It became clear, as planning proceeded, that what was required to fulfil our role in relation to the most likely threat was forces which were ready to fight at short notice - forces that could so fight because they were properly trained and equipped, forces that would be able to fight because the necessary aircraft, ships and landing craft were there to transport them, and forces which would be able to continue to fight because the necessary logistic support was behind them. These requirements of any defence forces which we put in the field are no strangers to the Navy and the Air Force. These services have long traditions which meet those requirements, but for the Army this involved nothing short of a revolution. It is as well for those who speak with contempt of the size of our regular field force to remember that never before in peace-time have we had a field force at all.
In the inter-war years there was not one formed regular field unit in the Australian
Army. What units there may have been raised in the post-war years, in response to particular situations such as the Korean war, were units which could in no way be regarded as being able to move to a theatre of operations at a moment’s notice. To change this situation, in which the Regular Army was regarded purely as a basis for expansion in time of war, involved a revolution indeed - a revolution which has not yet been completed but which is well on the way. The point is that the forces are in existence now, whereas previously they were not. We have one group in Malaya, another nt Enoggera and another at Holdsworthy. I have seen them. They are superbly trained and they have the latest equipment. There is hardly a weapon, a radio set or an article of clothing which a Second World War soldier would even recognize. They are deficient in logistic support and the means required to make them fully mobile have not yet been acquired. However, this aspect is covered in the next three-year defence programme.
I regard this as a splendid achievement. I take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) and the officers of his department who have contributed to this revolution in the Australian Army. No one could visit the units of our field force, as 1 have done, without feeling a sense of pride at what has been achieved in a very short time.
– I do not propose to take up very much of the time of the committee because there are many people more qualified than I to discuss our defences in detail. But I should like to mention some points. Of course, as most responsible people realize, our defences must be mobile and effective, but we are only a small nation and our defence expenditure must have regard to our economy. There is no question about that. We have a large area to defend and in it we encounter many climates ranging from the tropical to the temperate.
I should like to deal with this matter from the viewpoint of the people in north Queensland, where I have lived all of my life. In the early stages of the last war, the people in that area were almost left to fry. I do not think that anyone can deny that. 1 was there. I joined the Aif Force when I was eighteen or nineteen years of age and I was still in Townsville when the Coral Sea battle was fought. It wa very fortunate for us that we had the Garbutt airfield. This airfield was built by the council in 1938 mainly because air travel was becoming popular in those days. It comprised only one airstrip and immediately the war broke out the Government assumed control of it, which waa a very good thing. If it had not been for that airfield at Garbutt I think we would have been in a hell of a mess, to use a good Australian term. To-day we have only two airfields in the north of Australia that I know of which would be of very much value. We have an airstrip at Darwin which I think is very good. It was 10,000 feet long when I was flying from it. We still have one at Townsville. Apart from those, we have a lot of secondary airfields which have been allowed to fall into disrepair. That is wrong. We all remember that in 1942 Darwin was knocked out pretty well overnight. The nearest strip that we then had was at Katherine. This was not a very good strip but we had to operate from it as best we could with the aircraft that we had left. Not having secondary airfields around Townsville and Darwin and further north - as most people realize the Cairns airfield is not suitable for heavy aircraft - we are having ourselves open again to the same kind of experience as we had in 1942. I, for one, would not like to see that happen.
Our radar network should be improved in that part of Australia. We all know that we were let down by radar in the last war because it was not operating efficiently. Now radar is being used to predict approaching cyclones. If the modern equipment were installed the whole northern area could be covered.
Let me now deal with our roads. Anyone who has lived in north Queensland or who has been in that part of Australia will realize that the roads and the general means of communication are really shocking by world standards, or even by standards in this part of the world. The roads are narrow, and after the wet season the shoulders of the roads are chopped away. They are eight or nine feet wide and are covered with potholes. The small tridges there are completely useless. As one Yank said, “This is a funny place; they build bridges under the water”. That remark applies to most of the bridges in north Queensland. If the tides are up in some places or if the monsoons are blowing, you cannot move. This would be a disastrous state of affairs in time of war. If the Government has in mind increasing the defence vote, the increase should be such as to provide for the construction of a decent road through the north of Australia to Cape York. If you travel by road you can reach Cooktown if you are lucky, but that is the limit. From there on you must have a four-wheel drive vehicle. But you could not cross rivers like the Walsh and the Palmer no matter what kind of vehicle you had, unless of course you had an Army “duck”. Even that probably would finish up in a ditch because the rivers there run pretty fast.
Similar remarks apply to the western area of the State. The Mount Isa railway is being rebuilt and £8,000,000 a year is being spent on it. But it is only a single-line track and it could be knocked out without a great deal of trouble, and then we would not have any means of communication. The road from Charters Towers to Mount Isa is like other roads in the area. It is a shocking piece of road. It has potholes, bull dust, rocks and gibbers, and probably it would take more toll of our defence forces than the enemy would if ever we bad to use it for any length of time.
Every year the Citizen Military Forces have a camp in north Queensland. We have a very good militia there. It is most efficient and a credit to the Department of the Army. We are very proud of it and fond of the lads in it. They are all good young chaps like we were a long time ago. They will give a good account of themselves if the occasion arises. But they are hamstrung in their efforts - probably this occurs all over Australia - because employers object to their staffs attending annual camps. I am an employer and I have never objected to granting any of my staff leave of absence for this purpose. Some form of coercion should be applied to a lot of employers who will not allow their employees to attend these camps. They discourage them from joining the C.M.F. because they do not want to give them leave of absence. That is wrong. It is most important that these young lads, who will form the basis of any future army, should be encouraged and assisted to join the militia if they want to do so. It is a good thing for young fellows. It keeps them out of mischief, it keeps them physically fit and it keeps them away from the kind of things on which they probably would waste a good deal of money.
I hope that the Government will take note of the matters which I have mentioned. I shall repeat them. First, I do not think that we have first-class airfields in north Queensland or even any secondary fields of any value. Secondly, our lines of communication should be improved, not only from the aspect of rail transport but also in relation to roads. If the wet season is really bad, the roads are really bad. You just do not move off the bitumen. Thirdly, I think that the annual militia camps which normally are held in May or June, the middle of our very best season, should be held occasionally in the middle of the mon.soonal season because we found in the last war-
– That is not very nice for the militia men.
– The honorable member for Barker knows what it is like because he experienced it himself. During the last war we had to fight in all kinds of weather, as I am sure the honorable member knows. He was awarded the Military Cross and you do not get a Military Cross for nothing.
.- I am not sure whether I can agree with the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Harding), because I did not hear very much of what he said. It is very difficult to discuss the defence of Australia in the restricted time which has been allotted to this debate. Yesterday I asked the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) whether time would be made available to discuss his statement on our three-year defence programme. He replied that the time which had been allotted for discussion of the defence estimates was longer than we had had previously and that it should be sufficiently long to meet my wishes. I assure the Minister that it is not. I object very strongly to the defence of Australia being treated in this way. Each honorable member should be allotted more than the fifteen minutes which has been allowed to discuss this matter. On the last occasion that the Minister introduced a three-year programme he had the paper printed and a full debate then took place on it. The Minister’s attitude on this occasion deserves comment.
My distinguished colleague, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), made a very interesting speech but he viewed the matter of defence from only one aspect. I hasten to say that I do not agree with quite a good deal of what he said, and I am sure that he will not agree with a certain amount of what I am about to say. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) stated that perhaps we would be given the opportunity to vote on the question of national service training. Let me say here and now that if I had to vote for or against national service training, I would vote against it if the money for it had to come out of the existing defence vote, but I would vote in favour of it if a separate allocation were made for it.
My speech will have to be a fairly general one, because of limitations of time. Let me say, first, that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) when introducing the three-year defence programme on 26th November, 1959, stated -
The decisions taken are related to the requirements of the strategic situation. This takes into account trends in the international situation, the assessment of possible threats to our security . . . We have seen no reason to vary the broad strategic principles on which our defence policy has been based since the previous review of 1957.
If one studies the statement that was made yesterday, one can come to the conclusion that in 1962 the Minister sees no difference in the situation, that in 1959-60 he saw no difference, and that in 1957 he saw no difference. The Minister went on -
The primary aim of our defence effort should therefore be the continual improvement of our ability to react promptly and effectively with our allies to meet limited war situations.
The events of the last few days have shown that global war can easily break out with little warning. I am not saying that it will, but I am saying that something could happen overnight and that with no more than 24 hours’ warning we could be committed to a global war. Have we planned on this basis? One can see how the United
States of America could become involved on two fronts, with one front in Cuba and another in Berlin, and in those circumstances be able to give little assistance to Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, sole dependence on our allies is not always good policy, because events could occur without their having been taken into account beforehand. The Minister proceeded -
Finally, Australia is a small nation, with limited resources. The most effective way of ensuring our safety is through association with allies in the collective defence arrangements which have been developed in our area of strategic interest.
I agree with that, as does the honorable member for Barker, but we must remember that circumstances could develop in the world to-day in which our allies could not come to our aid in time. The Minister then went on to state that the highest importance in defence policy and planning is given to participation with Commonwealth countries in Seato and Anzus. Well, if America is committed, the United Kingdom is likely also to be committed in Europe. We cannot now depend on the United Kingdom for assistance to any great degree. This was demonstrated during the last war, and it is time we woke up to the fact and accepted greater responsibility in the South-East Asian theatre.
What we now have to do is to assess the threat and decide whether we are equipped to meet it. Are our forces adequate for our defence? Any planner must be assured that what he plans he can do. A soldier, sailor or airman must know that what he needs in order to fight he will have. These are two basic thoughts that should occupy the mind of this Parliament and the country at the present time. Can we do what the planner has planned for, and has the serviceman the equipment that he will need?
The world situation and the possibility of war can change and have changed rapidly. No longer is it likely that a direct threat to Australia would allow us time to re-organize and train to meet that threat. We are no longer an outpost far from the trouble spots of the world; we are right amongst them. Whether we like it or not, we have a common border with a nation of about 90,000,000 people, a nation that we know is receiving military equipment from Communist sources. We do not say that a threat exists, but we do say that circum stances could alter quickly and a threat could suddently arise. We could have a common border with a hostile power. Have we adequate defence preparedness and strength to meet the opposing forces in such an eventuality? The answer, in my opinion, is no.
The whole philosophy of our defence’ planning to date has involved the proposition that the most likely type of war in which Australian forces would be involved is a limited war, and the most probable theatre of operations South-East Asia, with the north-west approaches to Australia an alternative or subsequently possible area of operations. In the event of any limited war situation in South-East Asia our forces could well be considerably outnumbered by enemy man-power. This disadvantage can be balanced only by ensuring comparative superiority of equipment. Have we comparative superiority of equipment? Have we comparative superiority in man-power or equipment? The answer to both questions must be no. We have no heavy guns, no guided missiles. Our Navy is not strong enough, our Air Force is not strong enough, and the numbers of our servicemen are most emphatically too few.
As I asked before, is it possible to foresee a situation in which Australia will be subject to threats to her own soil, with our allies not being involved, either because of other commitments or because they do not give Australian defence the high priority that we may hope for? Do we consider, both as a Government and as a people, that it is worthwhile for us to be prepared to defend ourselves at least until our allies can come to our aid, or are we satisfied merely to be eventually liberated? We should remember Pearl Harbour and realize that in war the unexpected is often the most successful. Having this in mind, I believe that while we should make every endeavour to live in harmony with our neighbours, we must be prepared at least to look as though we intend to defend ourselves if a sudden emergency arises.
The Minister, in his speech the contents of which we all naturally welcomed, made statements regarding the appreciation of responsibilities for Australian defence which were identical with those contained in his last speech, and, indeed, in the one before. The statement about information and recommendations available to governments being wider than those available to individuals is true. However, it is also common knowledge that governments can override their advisers and pare down defence estimates. We know that service chiefs make recommendations and that Cabinets and Treasurers cut them down, and that the service chiefs then have to write speeches for Ministers justifying what has been done. We know that strategic concepts are discussed with our allies, but we do not know what the Government’s replies are to requests that are perhaps made to provide more forces or to take greater responsibility.
The Minister, in his speech introducing the new three-year programme, stated: -
The current review of the strategic basis of defence policy has indicated, in short, that the requirement is for continued development of the armed forces on the pattern established in the last programme. The first priority is to flexible, mobile and readily available forces.
I am hesitant at this stage to say that we have them. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) delivered a well considered speech in which he spoke of the need for a balanced Navy and about the lack of auxiliary services. In this connexion I shall make only one point. If we are to get two guided missile destroyers in 1965, let us hope that everything will go well for us in 1962, 1963 and 1964. Provision has been made for 27 Westland Wessex 31 helicopters for H.M.A.S. “Melbourne”. The Minister also told us that the fleet requirement of fixed-wing aircraft will be maintained. I do not know what is proposed in this connexion. Is it envisaged that we will have “ Melbourne “ operating somewhere with helicopters and then, being faced with some long-range fighters from an enemy carrier, the captain will say, “ Whacko, chaps, we had better go home and get our fixed-wing aircraft “?
I would also remind the Minister that in his statement on 26th November, 1959, he said -
Our examination has raised for consideration the future of the fleet air arm.
Referring to the five squadrons he stated -
These aircraft will be worn out by 1963 -
I remind honorable members that within three months we will be into 1963. The Minister continued -
The higher performance, more sophisticated air craft which would replace them could not operate from “ Melbourne”.
So one can discount the value of the retention of the fixed-wing aircraft, because in 1959 the Minister said that the existing aircraft would be outdated and that new aircraft could not operate from “ Melbourne “.
In respect of the Army, the Minister has told us that the Government attaches particular importance to having the permanent field force, including its combat and logistic support units, at a high state of operational readiness. However, he also states that over the next three years the Army will be strengthened by 3,500 men. In addition to providing first reinforcements, the increased strength will be distributed through various combat, logistic and support units. As the honorable member for Barker has asked, have we at the moment a reasonable back-up element for the field force? How long could it be maintained in action if it should be committed? I would like to know very much more at the moment about this matter. How far has the integration of the Australian Regular Army and the Citizen Military Forces proceeded, and how successful has it been? It is all very well to train here in Australia, but once the force is committed, what unit could guarantee 100 per cent, movement of its personnel at short notice? What happens if the Regular Army has to move out quickly and the Citizen Military Forces cannot turn up in full strength?
Now I come to the pentropic division. Much play has been made on the pentropic division. To me the term sounds something like the terms “panorama”, “ extravaganza “ and other extreme terms used by the Americans. In his statement on the Defence estimates for 1962-63 the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) said of the organization that an evaluation was going on, and that field tests were being made. Was a sufficient evaluation made of this organization before it was introduced to the Australian Army? Some people believe that a sufficient evaluation was not made. It is claimed that the pentropic division has been developed to function in extremes of tropical climate and terrain against an enemy moderately equipped but likely to be numerically stronger. Does that apply at this particular moment? As reported at page 650 of “ Hansard “, the Minister for Defence (Mr.
Townley) in March, 1960, said that the pentropic division gave flexibility and mobility, and he went on to use various other terms which have been used in each defence statement. The present Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), speaking in the same debate on 31st March, 1960, said, as reported in “ Hansard “ at page 823 -
The new organizataion derives its name from its pentagonal or five-sided basic structure and the fact, also, that it is specially designed for employment in tropical areas. It resembles the United States pentomic divisional organization, which has now been adopted as standard throughout the United States Army.
The Minister for the Army, on 31st March, 1960, as reported at page 828 of “ Hansard “, said, when discussing the pentropic division -
Several years ago the Government decided on a policy which required that our equipment should be compatible with that of the United States forces. Now, our organizations will also be in line with those of the United States. The interest shown in this development by our other Anzus partner, New Zealand, is most gratifying.
The only thing that the Minister did not know was that in 1961 the United States of America was going to scrap the pentomic organization and that we in Australia would be the only country in the world which retained the pent or five-sided structure. The Americans went in for the triangular brick form of organization, and worked on the three-sided division principle. I should like to know whether, having followed the United States of America in the organization of the Army, we have now been left holding the baby? Or are we the unusual people who have all the answers while every other army in the world has refused to adopt this particular formation? There is a certain disquiet in the services and I should like to hear more about this matter.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 12.46 to 2.15 p.m.
Mr. HASLUCK (Curtin- Minister for
Territories). - Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the provisions of the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910-1961, I lay on the table the following paper: -
Northern Territory (Administration) Act -
Long Service Leave Ordinance 1962, together with Statement of reasons for withholding assent to the Ordinance.
Bill presented by Mr. Hasluck, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill is to amend the Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Act 1923-1957. The amendment became necessary following a recent opinion by the Commonwealth’s legal advisers that the laws relating to the release on licence of prisoners from the Territories of the Commonwealth serving terms of imprisonment upon conviction under the laws of the Territories are deficient. For example, if such a prisoner serving a term of imprisonment in a State is released on conditions, or a prisoner so released in a Territory subsequently goes to a State, there appears to be no way of enforcing the conditions of his licence. A prisoner whose detention arises from an offence under the federal law and who has been transferred from a Territory can be released on licence under provisions of the Crimes Act before completion of his sentence. That act also provides for conditions to be attached to the licence, which can be enforced in any part of the Commonwealth.
A prisoner transferred from a Territory, whose detention arises from an offence under a Territory law, as distinct from federal law, can also be released on licence either in the exercise of prerogative powers of mercy or under Territory law. It is doubtful, however, in the case of a licence issued under a prerogative power, whether the conditions of the licence can be enforced at all and, in the case of a licence issued under a Territory law, whether it can be enforced outside the Territory. The best way to ensure enforceability of conditions attached to a licence in respect of prisoners convicted or ordered to be detained under a law of a Territory is to have the provisions regarding the issue and enforcement of such licences enacted in a Commonwealth statute and, in the circumstances, it is considered by our advisers to be appropriate to make such provisions in the Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Act.
The bill intends to achieve this purpose. It provides that the Governor-General may grant a licence to be at large to a prisoner who has been removed to a State or Territory in pursuance of the act. The release of the prisoner may be subject to conditions specified in the licence and the conditions may be varied or revoked, or additional conditions may be imposed. The licence itself may also be revoked.
A person who fails to comply with a condition of the licence may, without warrant, be arrested and brought before a prescribed authority, that is, a magistrate, a District Officer, or an Assistant District Officer of a Territory. If there is no lawful excuse for the failure to comply with the conditions the magistrate cancels the licence. The person may, however, appeal to the Supreme Court of a Territory or a prescribed federal court in the State against the cancellation of the licence. Where a licence has been revoked or cancelled the offender has to serve the balance of his sentence.
The position is similar in the case of criminal lunatics removed to a State or another Territory who have been ordered to be detained during pleasure. The bill provides that a criminal lunatic, who has been removed to a State or Territory, may be released from custody, either unconditionally or subject to conditions, by order of the Governor-General. The conditions may be varied or revoked, or additional conditions may be imposed, and a conditional order for release may be revoked at any time. Where an order is revoked or a person fails to comply with a condition of the order, the person may, without warrant, be arrested and detained in custody as if the order for release had not been made. Those are the main provisions of the bill.
The bill further extends the provisions of the act to a person who has been sentenced to death in a Territory and has had his sentence commuted to a term of imprisonment, and also to habitual criminals who are being detained in prison after expiration of their sentences.
The bill provides for other amendments which are designed to remedy minor defects in the existing act.
I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Riordan) adjourned.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed (vide page 1958).
.- Mr. Chairman, in discussing the defence estimates I believe it is appropriate to mention that the last few days have been the most difficult and testing days since the cessation of the Second World War. During the last few days we have been faced with two crises which, if not handled with great care and great understanding, could mean the end of mankind. I do not intend, in this debate, to determine who is the most guilty. In Asia, we have the border clash between India and China. I hope that this dispute will be solved with a minimum loss of life and with the respect of each nation for the other. Also, we are confronted with a clash of two great powers, the United States of America and Russia. I hope that tolerance will be brought into the discussions that are to take place. Calling people names, or being fanatically antiCommunist or fanatically anti-capitalist, will not assist. We have to learn to live together, or we will perish together.
In the discussion of these defence estimates we have to reach some basis of understanding. The questions of peace, war and armaments cannot be treated merely as political questions. If there is to be criticism, let it be made without hysteria. I know that many Government members are confused. I know that many of them want to spend more and more money on defence. We of the Labour Party have always said and believed that Australia needs adequate defence, but this is only a small nation and we can spend only a certain amount of our limited wealth on defence. On this subject I wish to quote from a statement that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) made on 29th March, 1960. He 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.
Of course, any sane person realizes that that is so. The issue that we have to determine here is how much we can afford to spend. We must then spend that amount wisely.
I believe, and the Australian Labour Party believes, that the Government of this country should not interfere with overseas interests; it should not interfere in Asian affairs. The Labour Party does not believe in the strategy of a pentropic force which is trained to fight in Asia. I am stating the Labour Party’s policy. In 1955, at the Hobart conference, the Australian Labour Party determined that it would withdraw Australian troops from Malaya, because it believed that the problems of Asia should be solved by Asians and that further European intervention in the countries of Asia would not solve any problems.
At the same conference, the party supported the South-East Asia Treaty Organization, because it thought that that organization would provide an economic weapon that could be used to assist the nations of Asia and lift them out of the poverty of despair. The Labour Party believed that this lifting-up of the Asian nations would be a deterrent to communism. Communism, of course, is something to which honorable members on the Government side of the chamber are so fanatically opposed. We believe that the building up of reactionary elements in Asia only bolsters communism. This has been said over and over again. The Australian Labour Party, at its 1957 conference, after Seato had been in existence for nearly three years, declared that, although the party had supported that organization in 1955, Seato’s effectiveness was fading and it was not adhering to the principles that the Labour Party believed should be adhered to. At that conference, the party carried a resolution which, in part, stated -
This Conference is of the opinion that S.E.A.T.O. has failed to perform its basic functions, that it is fast becoming an instrument for bolstering reactionary regimes as in Thailand, and that the Liberal-Country Party Coalition Government has contributed to S.E.A.T.O.’s ineffectiveness.___ .
Further, we are of the opinion that the bolstering of reactionary regimes in South-east Asia such as that in Thailand, merely assists the Communists by giving them the opportunity to take over genuinely Democratic National movements.
Is not that the case? Is not that what has happened in South Viet Nam? We of the Australian Labour Party opposed the sending of troops to Thailand. We also opposed the sending of troops to South Viet Nam. In both instances, we believed that reactionary governments were being bolstered. We in the Labour Party say that we will send troops overseas only under the direction of the United Nations. In 1961, the Australian Labour Party, at its federal conference, stated -
We declare the S.E.A.T.O. must be replanned on a cultural, educational, medical and technical assistance basis and not a military basis and should include all the peoples of South-East Asia.
We know that only Thailand, Pakistan and the Philippines, among the countries of South-East Asia, belong to the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. No other Asian nation has joined it. India, Ceylon, Burma and Indonesia are not members of it. We have not as one if its members even Malaya, the last Asian nation to get its freedom. Malaya, on gaining independence, refused to join the organization.
Government supporters are confused. The honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess), who preceded me in the discussion of this group of estimates, was the most confused speaker of all on the Government side of the chamber. He said that we had been blindly following the United States of America, which has now changed its organization, and we have been left holding the baby. What has happened has confused the Government and its supporters. They have been relying on our powerful friends. This has meant, more and more, reliance on the United States. I do not think that it is in the best interests of Australia to rely on any nation. I believe that Australia should raise its voice in the councils of the world on its own behalf as an independent nation. Our voice should be an independent one. We should place more and more trust in, and rely more and more on, the United Nations. We on this side of the chamber believe that Australia’s defence policy should be a policy of home defence. Our armed forces should be intended for our own defence and for use under the direction of 1 the United Nations if necessary. We should declare ourselves ready to make Australia’s forces available to the United Nations if necessary.
We have heard much hysteria in the outcry by some honorable members opposite for greater defence expenditure. They want much greater sums spent on defence. We of the Australian Labour Party agree that money must be spent on defence, but we say that portion of it can be spent most effectively on defence by concentrating on national development projects such as the standardization of our rail gauges, the construction of roads, the modernizing of port installations and the building of airstrips. We say this should be done to promote national development and thereby make the best possible provision for Australia’s defence. We say that this Government should assist the States by providing much more money for expenditure on education. The present Government proposes to spend £650,000,000 on defence over the next three years. The Government and its supporters in this Parliament are not the only ones who want to spend more on defence. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ - the Fairfax press - wants the Government to spend on defence even £175,000,000 a year more than is proposed.
On the issue of the determination of priorities raised by the statement made yesterday by the Minister for Defence, I suggest that the £45,000,000 that we have spent under the Colombo Plan was of far greater importance than, and developed more goodwill for Australia in the eyes of the Asian nations than we have gained from, the £2,300,000,000 that we have spent on defence and armaments during the term of this Government. We should spend more money on aid to under-developed countries under schemes such as the Colombo Plan. We should spend more on education, to educate our own people so that they, in turn, may help to educate our brothers of Asia. We must raise the standards of Asia. Our aid should be given without any strings attached. These are some of the things that we should be doing. The Government, however, behaves as if it were still in the era of Queen Victoria.
The confused honorable member for La Trobe asked: Where do we go from here? He said that we cannot rely on our power ful friend, the United States, because, in the event, that country was not prepared to support certain aggressive elements on the Government side of the chamber in their attitude towards Indonesia. I do not regard the Minister for Defence as one of the aggressive elements. I respect him for what he did to develop goodwill between Australia and Indonesia. I am not trying to score a point by criticizing all Government supporters. Some of them who possess sanity are ready to join with honorable members on this side on this issue of peace and war.
In this day and age, we should not start to develop a fear complex about the nations to the north. One of our main objectives must be to stop worrying about them and to stop fearing them. Why should we in Australia be afraid of the people to our near north? Australia should be developing goodwill on a sound basis by assisting our northern neighbours more and more instead of worrying about who will defend us. Let us enter into goodwill pacts with all the nations to the north. Let us trade with those nations. Let us develop goodwill on a firm basis. That represents the most effective defence effort. If we adopt that policy, we shall be able to develop this country for the Australian people. We shall be able to lift our heads high and forget about the fear complex that some of the jackboot boys on the Government back benches want to promote.
.- Mr. Chairman, we all should take notice of what the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) has just said. I gather that he was speaking for the Australian Labour Party because, on several occasions, he used the words “ we of the Australian Labour Party “. Obviously, he was again following the old line: Peace at any price. If we adopted the suggestion made by him - and, I take it, by the Labour Party - with respect to this matter of peaceful intent, we would be in a position similar to that of Mr. Nehru. He preached exactly the same policy as the honorable member has just enunciated. Where is he to-day? Communist China has been building up its defence potential for a number of years now, and Mr. Nehru has been peacefully regarding that country, believing that it had peaceful intentions. To-day he is faced with a position from which I believe he has no hope of escaping.
Again, the honorable member enunciated a policy which seemed strange in view of the recently expressed ideas of the Labour Party. He said that Asian problems should be solved by Asian people. But, concerning West New Guinea, the Labour Party suggested that we should go in and fight the Indonesians. There has been a complete reversal of the Opposition’s attitude. How on earth can a party such as that enunciate a policy on defence, which is so vital to Australia? What is the use of our freedom, our education, and our high standard of living if we cannot defend ourselves? I gather from the honorable member’s remarks that defence comes far down in his priority of spending. I agree with the honorable member that the defence of Australia is a really difficult problem. It is a tremendous task, considering the vastness of the country and our population of only 10,000,000. Nevertheless, we have to accept such policies as have been laid down by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley). I congratulate him on his performance in the tremendous task of enunciating a policy which, according to the best knowledge available, will be in the best interests of Australia’s defence.
The public of Australia should take note of Labour’s defence policy. Fortunately, Labour has never been in power in the few years immediately preceding a great war. I do not know what would have become of Australia if it had been. Let me read from “Hansard” of November, 1933, in which the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) enunciated a policy which Labour still follows. He said -
In my opinion there is no necessity whatever for the expenditure of more money to build up the armaments of Australia.
That was said before the Second World War. He continued -
Honorable gentlemen have suggested by innuendoes and otherwise that Australia is likely to be attacked by some unspecified overseas country. From some of them one inferred that Japan is a possible aggressor. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) said that we had a great unpopulated country upon which we had placed the placard “ Our policy is White Australia “.
The honorable member for East Sydney continued by making a personal attack. He was a Minister in the Labour Government during the war and, from all accounts, he will be a Minister again if Labour is returned to power, and we would then have a policy similar to Labour’s policy before the last war.
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) gave us the history of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). In advocating additional defence expenditure, the honorable member for Wills has certainly changed his policy. In “ Hansard “, of 11th October, 1960, two years ago, the honorable member for Wills is reported as follows: -
Honorable members opposite are scare-mongers. We are not the ones to say we must defend ourselves against the surging hordes from the north. In fact, we say those hordes will never come.
Those remarks correspond to the policy to which the honorable member for East Sydney adhered. Speaking on the Estimates of 1960, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) said -
What have we to fear from China? I have said we need have no fear whatever of the People’s Republic of China. China is concerned only with her own development for peaceful purposes.
I hope the newspapers give publicity to what is being said by the Labour Party on this occasion, because this is a vital subject for Australia. We have fought two world wars since federation. We have only just come out on the right side, and that was because we built up a defence force to the best of our ability. That is what we are doing to-day.
– You could not govern when the war was on.
– We left them to do the talking while we did the fighting.
– I compliment the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) on his excellent interjection. Here we have tha task of taking adequate defence measures, having regard to the circumstances of Australia. My personal experience after having lived through two world wars is that whatever weapons we take into a war are nearly always useless once the war has progressed a certain distance, but they were necessary to start with. Having started, we have had to develop something better. But we have had the nucleus of a force. We have built on that, and it has carried us through. Unfortunately, armaments are becoming increasingly expensive. We have had two world wars to end war, and we must take particular note of the peacemongers opposite. We shall need a great army for defence in the next war. 1 support the remarks of the honorable member for Richmond in favour of national service training, which I commend to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley). I realize that we are confronted with a most difficult situation. Defence in the future will cost far more money than we have spent in the past, and this expenditure will have a serious effect on the circumstances of our regular army. But I believe that some help could be obtained from other sources such as school cadets. I am very pleased that the proposal before the committee envisages an increase in the number of school cadets. The ceiling has been raised from 38,000 to 40,000. The increase over the last two years has been from 33,000 to 40,000, which is excellent. I hope that it can be increased further, because I believe that this is the cheapest way of training young men. I think I saw that it costs £27 for each cadet, including clothing and basic equipment.
I believe that the school is the most important place in which to give cadets military training. During his school days the cadet is at an impressionable age, and may readily become imbued with the traditions of our armed services - traditions which are of immense national value. I think the honorable member for Calare (Mr. England) mentioned that 93 per cent, of entrants to the Royal Military College hail received cadet training at school. That is a very important point, and illustrates the value of the school cadet system to our services. The history of Australia shows that universal military training has served the country well.
Compulsory military training was introduced by the Australian Labour Party. It was a Labour party in those days; it had a true concern for the welfare of Australia. This was before it became mixed up in international socialism. The Scullin Government abolished compulsory military training in, I think, 1930, and introduced voluntary military training. The numbers in our Citizen Military Forces under compulsory training were 47,564 and under the voluntary system they dropped to 17,651. We have had the voluntary system since then.
I believe it is very important that we preserve this tradition. As I have said, we have been lucky to have had, for so many years in Australia, some form of military training for our young men. We all know from the social point of view that it is absolutely necessary to give discipline to a young man. But it is rather frightening to realize that many schoolboys to-day will never have the experience of military training. That is a very serious matter. I ask the Minister to consider very closely, if it is at all possible, raising the ceiling still further on the training of school cadets.
.- I was rather surprised at the honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) sitting down so quickly. He spoke for only eleven minutes and seven minutes of that time was spent in attempting to ridicule the policy of the Australian Labour Party in pre-war days. I point out to the honorable member that in 1941, when the Curtin Government took office with a minority in both Houses of the Parliament, we had been at war for two years and had, supposedly, been fighting a total war; but we still had 100,000 unemployed. Despite this, the honorable member speaks about Labour’s efforts. I will not waste any more of my time on the honorable member for Mcpherson.
Members of the Australian Labour Party listened with interest to the statement made by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) yesterday. To say the least, they were shocked at the inadequacy of the defence plan announced by him. Apparently recent events have not had much effect on the defence policy of the Government. The Minister said that this plan was a continuation of the last three years’ plan. The Labour Party, as has been announced already, is an anti-war party, but we believe in adequate defence. That was demonstrated by the Curtin and Chifley Governments during the last war. The people of Australia know Labour’s defence record. It was a Labour government that gave this country the Royal Australian Navy, Woomera and so on.
The Minister yesterday referred to the operational fleet. It is interesting to note that most of the ships mentioned by the Minister, with the exception of the four Type 12 frigates, were either built or planned by the Chifley Government before 1919 - thirteen years ago. This Government has been in office for thirteen years and has spent more than £2,500,000,000 on defence, but all that has been added to the operational fleet are four Type 12 frigates. The Minister said that private people had communicated with him on defence matters. This shows that the general public is worried about the way this Government is meeting its obligation to provide adequate defence. The Government has only recently awakened to the fact that we live in a nuclear age and, judging by the Minister’s statement, it has not fully realized yet that we live in a disturbed world.
My view that the Minister’s statement rveals the inadequacy of the Government’s defence policy is confirmed by the leading article in to-day’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “. The last paragraph of this article reads as follows -
Yesterday’s statement on defence was not the announcement of a defence program; it was an announcement that the Government had abdicated its national responsibilities.
The Minister referred to collective security. Judging by the information given as to the present position of our arms and equipment, collective security is the basis of the Government’s defence policy. It is true that in recent years there have been no threats of global wars, but there have been limited wars in certain trouble spots in South-East Asia and Korea. The Government’s defence plan obviously is to achieve our defence by pacts and alliances, such as Seato and Anzus, and to rely on them. What would be our position if the other signatories to these pacts were to become heavily involved in their own country? In the event of a major conflict involving both the United States of America and Australia, Australia might find that it had to stand alone if the United States became committed at home. This is a possibility that cannot be completely disregarded. Having this in mind, the Minister’s statement did not engender much confidence in the general public.
Prior to World War II., to the north of us were forces of the United Kingdom based on Singapore, and there were Dutch forces in the area now known as Indonesia. A defence vacuum was created there immediately after the last war. That vacuum has now been filled by what is known as Indonesia. Indonesia has started to build up its land, sea and air forces, and has said that this is for its own defence.
The Minister’s statement did not vindicate the Government or absolve it from the serious criticism of having fallen down on the job in the past thirteen years. It is true that we have a population of only 10,500,000 and compared with other nations we are only a small country. Because of our small population, our forces must be small in number, but they should be highly efficient. To achieve this efficiency, it is necessary for them to be equipped with modern weapons. We have the men and the women. They are keen and highly efficient, but they must be given the necessary weapons.
I turn to the naval defence plan. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) pointed out this morning that the Australian fleet is out of balance. He dealt with the shortcomings of our Navy and I do not propose to refer to those matters. I propose to refer to the Government’s stated policy of anti-submarine defence. World War II. showed us in 1945 that the aircraft carrier had become the capital ship, with aircraft as its principal weapon. The Chifley Government immediately set about modernizing the Royal Australian Navy by replanning and ordered two aircraft carriers. That was nearly sixteen years ago. With the development of nuclear power, nuclear weapons and missiles, a new age has dawned.
With the launching in January, 1954, by the United States of America of the first nuclear-powered submarine, with a range of about 100,000 miles and the need to refuel only once every two years, a new naval arm was introduced. The new outlook was further intensified by the invention of the Polaris missile, which has a range of 1,500 miles and can be fired from a submarine while it is submerged, and the Subroc, which is a missile with a range of 650 miles. The destructive force of these missiles is well known. One Polaris missile can seriously damage a city, and it can be fired from a distance of 1,500 miles. This indicates the destructive force of a modern submarine.
A modern nuclear-powered submarine can remain submerged for long periods and travel at high speeds, in the vicinity of 30 knots, under water. These are the marauders which would attack Australia in the event of war and which would have to be hunted down and destroyed by Australian forces. During World War II. the battle of the Atlantic proved to the German High Command that an operational connexion between sea and air weapons was essential. This contention is emphasized in the nuclear and missile age. During the battle of the Atlantic, German submarines sunk no fewer than 23,351 allied ships, yet those submarines were not to be compared with modern submarines. The Germans lost 750 of their submarines and on occasions losses of these vessels at sea were as high as from 25 per cent, to 50 per cent, of the total number employed. They then realized that radar was largely responsible for their submarine losses, together with the fact that air reconnaissance aircraft had been able to hunt out and sink many submarines in addition to those lost through the action of conventional warships.
I was surprised at the failure of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) to announce last evening that we would have associated with the Royal Australian Navy at least six submarines. We did have submarines of the old A class associated with the Navy years ago. Australia being an island continent, we would have expected the Government, if it is conscious of its responsibility for the defence of Australia, to have announced the further development of the naval arm by the construction in this country of at least six submarines, so that three could be kept operational - we have a terrifically long coastline to cover - while three were refitting. That policy would have given some measure of security and a feeling of confidence to the people of Australia.
Submarines can be built in Australia and our ship-building industry is a vital part of our defence works. Let us begin to build our own submarine fleet, even at this late hour. Modem submarines, both nuclear and conventionally powered, can attack enemy surface ships and underwater forces. Remember the old adage, “ Set a submarine to destroy a submarine “. A submarine can attack enemy surface ships and underwater forces, lay mines, especially in sea lanes in territorial waters near ports and harbours, and launch intermediate range missiles against ports, harbours and inland cities as well as coastal cities. Submarines can act as scouts or observation posts or local centres of warning and defence. There are many other ways also in which they can cause destruction. We have to keep our sea lanes open so that petrol, oil and other vital requirements for our defence can still be brought into the country, even though we be practically cut off and isolated. If one hostile nuclear-powered submarine could get within striking distance, the damage it could cause in Australia would be such that every possible method would have to be adopted to hunt it down. For these reasons the sea-air strategy, as it is called, which was used so extensively during World War II. and which has been developed until it is superior to the task force method for dealing with underwater marauders, must be adopted.
The modern nuclear-powered submarine does not have to rise to the surface to charge its batteries. It can stay below indefinitely and can travel under water at high speeds of up to 30 knots, so it behoves this Government to give the Navy the equipment necessary to do its job. I have some little knowledge of this question and I know the Navy is not less efficient to-day than it was when the Labour Government was in office. Its men are just as keen and they should at least be given modern means for doing their work and modern weapons with which to do what is expected of them. I do not suggest that our Navy should be provided with nuclear-powered submarines; they would be beyond our financial capacity. I think we should secure six conventionally powered submarines equipped for the firing of conventional torpedoes. Finally I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister a leading article in the “ Sydney. Morning Herald “ which states -
No attempt is to be made to equip the Navy for the defence of Australia. There is not even acknowledgment of the need, despite the fact that Indonesia has acquired a 19,000-ton cruiser (another will be added next year) and a submarine fleet. The role of the R.A.N, is denned as “ the defence of sea communications and cooperation with allies and sister Services in general operations of war “.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, although the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) may take an inflated view of what Australia’s resources are, no one on this side of the House would doubt that his heart was in the right place in regard to these matters. I want to congratulate the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) - this being my first opportunity to do so - on his excellent maiden speech. He put much heart into it, as he did into the speech he delivered this morning, when he sketched out the kind of naval and shipping resources which it would be splendid for Australia to have. If this matter were to be considered in isolation, I think few honorable members on this side of the chamber would disagree with him. But what both the honorable member for Batman and the honorable member for Kennedy overlooked is that Australia’s resources are limited and an effort which goes in one direction must necessarily be subtracted from another. However desirable the suggestions they made might be in themselves, to carry them out would mean starving our efforts in some other direction.
However one may regard the practicability of the suggestions made by the honorable member for Batman and the honorable member for Kennedy, it was indeed encouraging to listen to them as it was also to listen to the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who, though he is not here to-day, has a genuine interest in Australia’s defence and in nautical matters in particular. Likewise, the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) who is a member of the Citizen Military Force, takes a genuine interest in the defence of Australia. We recognize that. But that is only one face of the Australian Labour Party. At the other end are the witting and unwitting tools of Moscow, some of whom made themselves conspicuous at question time this morning. These two groups are poles apart and impossible to reconcile. At times one must sympathize with the handful of responsible people opposite who, in exercising their function of leadership, endeavour to patch over these cracks. Very notable in this body of people is, of course, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam)- by far the cleverest and best-looking of them all - who endeavours to put a superficial gloss of respectability over this ugly situation.
One must consider the defence problem in relation to the world situation which confronts us. Australian defence policy at present is geared primarily to fit in with the efforts of our allies and to keep aggressive international communism as far from these shores as is possible. The arrangements we have made and the defences we have planned are all geared to this end. Unfortunately, because of recent events in West New Guinea, another school of thought has arisen which is trying steadily to portray our nearest neighbour, Indonesia, as a potential Prussia of the Pacific. We should have our minds quite clear. We should learn a little more about Indonesia’s policies and the feelings which lie behind them. The one great issue which has divided Australia from its nearest neighbour is that of West New Guinea, but a settlement has now been reached which has the seal of world approval through the United Nations. Our next most urgent task is to become friends with Indonesia, because Indonesia and Australia share the same basic interest, namely, to keep this area free from aggression and to clip the claws of any aggressive power which enters it. Given time, sense and good policies on our own and our friends’ parts, surely in the end that basic common interest must become apparent to Indonesia.
Some people now argue that our defence policy should be reorientated. They claim that we should pay less attention to the acts of aggression in Viet Nam and down the Malayan peninsula, and instead gear our policy to confront Indonesia. Certain questions should be asked of that school of thought. I should like to remind those who hold that view of certain recent events. There was a time when Indonesia wanted to train some of her military officers in Australia. Objections were raised to this, so Indonesia sent her officers to Moscow instead. Indonesia asked America for military equipment. We objected, so she looked to Moscow. Indonesia wanted to buy some Gannet aircraft from Great
Britain. Some sectors of opinion in Australia opposed the proposed sale, so Indonesia shopped in Moscow for aircraft. I ask those who now want us to shape our defence on the basis that Indonesia is our main threat: How much further into Moscow’s arms do you want to drive Indonesia?
Every nation contains many different strands of thought. Of course we must consider all possibilities. To suggest that Indonesia is a potential totalitarian power such as Nazi Germany is patently absurd to any one who knows the situation, yet we must recognize that even a country like Italy, whose people are industrious, frugal and friendly, if ever there was a people of that kind in the world, in certain circumstances can fall under the influence of a mad dog and embark on aggressive war.
The problem is not simple. If in fact we were to regard Indonesia as Australia’s main potential aggressor, of course we would need to reorientate our defence policy, but the situation at present is that unless Indonesia receives continuous aid from Russia, not only in the form of arms but also in the form of technicians to look after Russian equipment, and unless the Russians intermingle with the Indonesians on a large scale, Indonesia really is not capable of being a serious threat to Australia, however many men Indonesia nominally may have under arms. If Indonesia falls increasingly into Russian hands, if the Russians aid and abet Indonesia by sending her so many men that Indonesia is in their grip, surely in that eventuality we could rely on the support of our major allies. If Indonesia were heavily infiltrated by Russian personnel, and supplied with sophisticated, modern weapons on a large scale, long-range bombers and so on, and if the United States and other countries were not on our side, our position could become very precarious, whatever efforts we made. The position in Indonesia is fundamental to our defence problem. Although we must watch developments there with concern and with a wary eye, our main policy should be directed to trying to get Indonesia on our side and to bring home to them that the real enemies which confront both our countries are the same.
Much has been published recently about various sectors of our defence forces. The position relating to the Air Force has not yet been dealt with at length, but it will be very soon. The suggestion has been made that we should now acquire certain new bomber aircraft. It is natural for the Air Force to say, “ Certain of our bombers are! obsolete in the sense that no longer can they confront first-class fighters of a really efficient opposing air force “. Whatever view you may take of that, the fact remains that there is not a suitable bomber in the world which comes anywhere near meeting Australia’s strategic requirements. Most of the current bombers which in any sense could replace the Canberra were designed to perform an atomic mission. An aircraft which is designed to deliver atomic bombs naturally justifies an expenditure of between £3,000,000 and £5,000,000. Even if we adapted that kind of aircraft to carry conventional bombs or even to deliver guided bombs, it would still be an aircraft which within a very short time would be outdated. Any decision here and now to replace our bombers with aircraft now available would not be in our best interests.
All things change in the course of time. Indeed, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) indicated that we are dealing with a changing situation. Our position must necessarily be anchored to our available resources. We must be wary of acquiring so much sophisticated overseas equipment at high cost that we have no proper base for our defence forces in Australian industry. If we are ever left on our own - we must prepare for that eventuality - our defence effort must bs closely merged with and geared to Australian industry and the things which can be produced in Australia. However, that cannot be carried too far. Many weapons to-day are so far advanced that Australian industry could not possible produce them or, if it could, it could do so only on such an uneconomic basis that the use of essential resources in other directions would be lost.
Besides gearing our defence effort to industrial capacity we must also make a proportionate contribution in the scientific field, and fortunately, under the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) and the general guidance of the defence establishments, the Department of Supply has been and is making, by means of the Woomera undertaking and the Defence Research Establishment at Salisbury, a notable contribution.
Only if we continue to make our proportionate contribution can we expect our allies to share with us the advances in techniques which are essential to survival in the modern world.
One of the points that have not been made in this debate is that to a notable extent the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Supply and the Ministers for the defence services have developed close relations with Australian industry so that industry could be quickly mobilized in the event of an unfortunate situation developing. As a result we will have an industrial structure far better prepared than ever before to meet such a position. Opinion must differ, naturally, upon the necessary scale of our Australian defence effort. If we decide on a much bigger scale than we have in the past, we will take resources from essential developmental projects. It is true, also, of course, that in the defence field you cannot spend large additional sums of money quickly. You can conjure up a lot of projects, perhaps, and waste money on them; but if the job is to be done properly it cannot be done very quickly.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Discussing the defence estimates, as we are to-day, in the shadow of one of the gravest situations that the human race has faced, the subject of defence takes on a stark reality. Defence policy is aimed to safeguard the welfare of the nation from external threat, and of course it is impossible not to be concerned with defence policy. It is impossible not to be concerned with the provision of adequate defences for the nation at any given time.
The outstanding feature about the Australian defence situation is that we are a small nation with limited resources. As the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) put it, limited resources only are available, and Australia herself cannot do very much. There is one thing I would like to say about this matter: It is time that people on both sides of this House and throughout the community joined together in a determination to get for the Commonwealth Government a greater proportion of our national resources, so that for what ever purpose these resurces have to be used, whether in a narrow concept of defence or a wider concept, we will have a greater volume of resources to call upon. I have not seen on the other side of this Parliament, or generally, I suppose, in the community, a willingness to come together on this point and to stop taking party political advantage of one another when we advocate, as we must if this problem is to be solved, an increase in taxation for defence purposes. If we feel that we have inadequate resources, we must accept the fact that one of the only ways in which we can increase those resources is by increasing the proportion of the national income taken in taxes. Let us take up a common position on the necessity to increase that proportion in Australia to-day. If we do not take up that common position, then there is no valid reason for the honorable member for Wentworth or any one else to talk about our limited resources.
It is necessary, particularly to-day, to separate defence policy from external affairs policy. Foreign policy comes first; defence policy is something that you use if you fail with your foreign policy. This Government has devoted a lamentably limited amount of attention to foreign policy, and in passing, Mr. Chairman, as it is of vital importance to defence policy, I want to refer to the inadequate attention given to foreign policy. We have frequently reached the situation in respect of international tensions and conflicts in which we have found ourselves at the end limited only to defence policy, when in fact we could do very little by the use of defence weapons, and when in fact we had ignored for months and years the questions of foreign policy which finally led to the situation of crisis. We have a position of crisis to-day in the Caribbean, which we are endeavouring to solve in terms of defence policy.
Let me remind the committee that this Parliament has not discussed the Cuban question on one occasion during the last three or four years. The important questions of foreign policy which have resulted in the present situation involving Cuba have not been discussed in this Parliament. People have been, and still are, afraid to discuss the questions involved. Throughout this chamber to-day we see people with their heads in the sand, refusing to face up to the issues involved, because of the possibility of losing miserable votes at the next election if they happen to say anything that may be embarrassing. The problem of the Cuban situation to-day does not involve simply the question of what to do about the approaching Russian ships from the north or the American blockade in the south. There is also the question of what should have been done twelve months, eighteen months or two years ago.
– We should have come to terms with the Castro regime and given it assistance. Castro went to the United States of America three years ago seeking that assistance. The honorable member for Wentworth has told us that unless we assist Indonesia that country will be forced into the Russian camp. He is perfectly correct and I say that we should have assisted Cuba, and that our failure to assist Cuba has driven that country into the Russian camp, and has resulted in a situation to-day that can be dealt with only by the exercise of defence policy, which could mean the destruction of civilization before nightfall. We have never been so close to such destruction. The situation has never been so grave and has never been so tragic.
I shall not go into details about what might be necessary for the solution of this problem. But if you want to remove nuclear bases from any place they happen to be in Cuba, it is not just a matter of talking about calling off a blockade or in some way diverting the Russian ships that are moving towards Cuba. It is necessary to give some kind of security to the Cuban Government and some assurance that Cuba is not going to be invaded. That is what the Cuban President asked for in the United Nations a fortnight ago. He said that if he was given that assurance he would undertake to reduce the volume of arms in Cuba. You cannot solve this problem by defence mechanisms alone.
– Is that information in official documents?
– Yes, it is in official United Nations documents that are available in the Library. You do not have to go to the Communist “ Tribune “, to which I am sure the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) confines himself, to get this information. You can get it from the Library in this building. When people say that any one who criticizes the policy of this Government, or that of the United States of America, is an agent of Moscow, let me ask you, as a Government: How many more times are you going to fail before you, too, earn the title of agent of Moscow? How many more times are you going to help bring the world to the very edge of total destruction? How many times are you going to fail, up and down the coast of Asia, to provide an adequate answer to the spread of communism before you, too, earn the title of agent of Moscow? I have even heard the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) argue precisely this point; “ We are losing the cold war “, he said. When are you going to stop losing the cold war? Provided attention is directed as much as it is only to defence mechanism, only to force, the cold war will continue to be lost. Provided that we fail to see, Mr. Chairman, as a government and as a people, that something vastly more than force, and threats of force, something vastly more than intimidation of people who make any suggestion that anything different is needed - intimidation by all the smears of disloyalty and character assassination on which the honorable member for Wentworth has just embarked - the cold war will continue to be lost. How many more times are these failures to take place before those responsible for them have also earned the title of agents of Moscow?
Always underlying a defence policy is a strategic consideration. What is the objective as far as Australia is concerned? It is, as it has been for a number of years, the objective outlined by the Minister for Defence three or four years ago. It is to meet limited war situations in distant countries in co-operation with the United States or perhaps with the United Kingdom - the United Kingdom which has become “some other country “ in the terms used by the Prime Minister to-day. Some other country! At any rate, in co-operation with some other country.
– I thought he said “ mother country “.
– He might have said “ smother country “, but I understood him to say “ some other country “. He said that South-East Asia was of primary importance in this and hence we have a pentropic concept underlying our defence structure. I suggest for consideration of the committee that this strategic concept is faulty. The Minister referred to points of tension, as he called them. 1 believe that the Minister has an imaginative concept of this, much more so than many of his supporters. I suggest that the points of tension are not capable of being dealt with mainly by military methods. Sabres in Thailand are no more appropriate to deal with the problem that exists in Thailand or nearby than would be an axe to cut silk or a flame-thrower to remove paint from a wall. The problem in Thailand is mainly social, economic and political.
– Order! I think that the honorable member for Yarra is stressing too much, in a debate on the defence estimates, matters which are more related to external affairs. I ask the honorable member to come back to a direct comment on the matters that are before the Chair.
– I am sorry, Mr. Chairman, that you take that attitude, because I think that the nature of the problem we have to meet, which is what I am discussing, is fundamental to the kind of defence structure that we must have. This is a fundamental proposition underlying the position taken by the Government and outlined clearly by the Minister. We are designing a military machine to deal with tension points up and down the coast of Asia in the belief, apparently, that the situation calls for military measures almost exclusively. However, if our analysis of the situation is wrong, if we are likely to bring about the failure of our defence structure by relying too much on purely military measures, then we should revise our whole approach to the situation. The Labour Party has done this, and I want to state what it has decided. We declare that the South East Asia Treaty Organization must be replanned on a cultural, educational, medical and financial assistance basis, and not on a military basis, and should include all the people of South-East Asia.
– Order! As I indicated before, the honorable member has devoted a very large proportion of his speech to what he said was going to be a passing reference. As I said previously, the matter under discussion is the estimates for the defence services, and the discussion should be specifically directed to particular matters relating to them. Whilst a passing reference made to illustrate a point relating to the defence estimates is permissible, the honorable member for Yarra should direct his remarks particularly to the matters under discussion by the committee.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Chairman. With very great respect, I submit to you that it is frequently impossible for members to separate into watertight compartments a consideration of defence from a consideration of foreign policy. The two things must inevitably overlap. I ask you to extend to the honorable member for Yarra, and to any other honorable member who may be involved, a measure of appropriate indulgence.
– Order! I remind the honorable member for Moreton that the Chair is quite capable of deciding whether a member has spent too much time on matters relating to a department other than the department or departments under discussion by the committee. The Chair will always allow a passing reference to be made to another matter, but when the passing reference takes up practically 80 per cent, of a member’s speech I think that it might well be thought that the time taken in passing is a little too long.
– Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for taking up so much of my speaking time.
– Order! The honorable member for Yarra will take his seat. The reason for the Chair’s making a comment in regard to this matter was that the honorable member for Yarra was not talking to the question before the Chair. The honorable member for Yarra had the remedy in his own hands.
– I have the remedy, Mr. Chairman, and if you have given a ruling, then I move -
That the ruling be dissented from. / (The Chairman having put the question, and having announced the decision of the committee) -
– Have you ordered a division, Mr. Chairman?
– I take a point of order, Mr. Chairman. I moved dissent from your ruling and you put it to the vote. You called for the “ Ayes “ and the “ Noes “. I claim that the “ Ayes “ had it, and call for a division.
– Can the honorable membor for Yarra inform me what his motion was?
– You cannot ask that now. You have already put the motion.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro will remain quiet.
– But you put the motion.
– I name the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. (Mr. Speaker having been sent for) -
– I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the honorable member for EdenMonaro be given an opportunity to apologize to the Chair.
– The Chair has made its decision and will await the arrival of Mr. Speaker.
– Mr. Chairman, I think some misunderstanding has arisen. Perhaps you will accept an apology from the honorable member for Eden-Monaro.
– If the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is prepared to follow the suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition, the Chair will reconsider its decision.
– That suggestion was made a couple of minutes ago by the Minister at the table but you refused to accept it. I now follow the suggestion that you have accepted from the Leader of the Opposition but would not accept from the Minister. I apologize to you.
– The Chair will accept the apology of the member for EdenMonaro, and the debate will continue.
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman. Would you make it quite clear to me on what ground the motion of dissent from your ruling was based? I say firmly, Sir, but nevertheless with respect, that I think it impossible to separate considerations of foreign affairs per se from consideration of defence. Is not that the ground of disagreement with your ruling? If it is, I want to be quite clear on it.
– The honorable member for Yarra, in the course of his speech, referred extensively to external affairs. During this debate the Chair has allowed honorable members to refer to matters relating to external affairs because of the difficulty of separating those matters from matters of defence. However, a speech on the defence estimates should not consist entirely of comment on external matters. It was for that reason that I suggested to the honorable member for Yarra that he come back to the matters before the committee, the estimates for the defence departments. The honorable member for Yarra then made a comment about his time being wasted, which was a reflection on the Chair. The honorable member was then informed that the remedy lay in his own hands, and he thereupon moved dissent from the ruling of the Chair, which was that he come back to the matters under discussion. His remarks had been completely irrelevant to those matters. The question was then put. I concede that I said, first, “ The ‘ Ayes ‘ have it “. Realizing that that was incorrect, I changed my statement and said, with no comment from either side of the chamber, that the “ Noes “ had it. No division was called for and I resumed my seat. The question was resolved in the negative. By then it was time to call the next member who was to speak in the debate. That is where the matter rests now.
Motion (by Mr. Townley) agreed to -
That the honorable member for Yarra be granted an extension of time.
– I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I thank the Minister for having proposed that motion.
The Australian Labour Party does not accept the Government’s essentially expeditionary type of strategic requirement for the Australian defence structure. The Australian Labour Party’s strategic concept is primarily the defence of the Australian continent. We visualize also an expeditionary type of force, but to be used as a part of die United Nations forces or as a result of a United Nations decision. Our strategic concept differs in degree from that of the Government. Instead of putting the emphasis upon the expeditionary side and therefore getting a pentropic structure, we put the emphasis on the defence of the Australian continent, with the expeditionary force being of secondary importance.
Prom the point of view of the- Australian Labour Party’s concept, what is it that we need? First of all, Mr. Chairman, I suggest that we need to think in terms - although I do not rate these possibilities as being very high - of preventing a landing on the Australian coast or attacks upon the Australian coast. We have to consider the possibility of attacks from nuclear missilecarrying submarines, and I think we must accept that to-day there is no defence against nuclear missiles and’ against nuclear bombs. To believe that there is is to mislead ourselves and to mislead the people who depend upon us. The only way to defend yourself against nuclear attacks, I feel, is to prevent them.
Thinking in terms of something less significant than nuclear attacks on the Australian coast, we have to be concerned with the possibility of a landing. In my opinion that is not very likely, but it does mean that we must have a navy and an air force working very closely in cooperation. I think it is extremely significant that the Air Force has become, in recent times, not so much an independent arm as an arm servicing the Army and the Navy. This development in recent times, under Government policy, is a move in the right direction. But to think in terms of meeting heavy cruisers or even light cruisers with destroyers that will cost £40,000,000 is a mistake. I think the Australian Naval forces need very fast, very manoeuvrable and very small boats capable of carrying conventional torpedoes or short-range missiles. We can learn a great deal from what is being done in other parts of the world to meet situations of this kind. I do not know whether the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) is right in suggesting that some of the ships that we obtain are obtained, not so much for the purposes for which they are to be used, but because of recommendations by various people who want them for other reasons. With due respect, there is much greater prestige, if you are a naval officer, in having a navy with some pretty large ships in it. What we need, of course, is a navy with some very small and very manoeuvrable vessels.
I turn next to the Army. I have said that the strategic position taken up by the Government has given us an army which is based on the pentropic concept - that is, a small, hard-hitting and easily moved unit. Although I believe that our Army has been essentially designed to meet the expeditionary force concept, it seems to me, and I think common sense indicates it, that this sort of development is still the most suitable for Australian continental defence. We have a very large area of land and a very long coastline, and I believe it would be a serious mistake to think of going back to the old, heavy, slow-moving divisional structure, serviced by the old form of national service training. I believe the present structure, which has been derived from overseas considerations, is now the most appropriate, even though it is based on a strategic concept different from the Labour concept. I think it would be a serious mistake to think of going back to the old concept of national service training. I think it can be admitted generally that what we need in Australia is more technical training, not only for internal economic reasons, but for defence reasons. I think all those concerned with defence need a far more thorough knowledge of Asia, its history, requirements and experience than they are getting now. We need some newer concept of the training of our younger people. Call it national service, if you like, but, whatever you do, do not think of it in terms of the old pattern. That has now been disposed of. But there is no reason why some element of physical training should not be included somewhere. Simply to think and argue in terms of restoring national service training is completely to miss the point.
I think that in many ways what the Government has done with limited resources in the development of a defence structure has been a move in the right direction, but the Government has been moving only slowly in that direction. The remarkable thing underlying the defence structure is that it has moved in this direction at all while it has been coupled to a strategic concept which I and the Australian Labour Party think is a mistaken one. Our defence structure has only just begun to develop in the right direction.
I intend to take up no more of the limited time available for the discussion of the estimates for the defence forces, Mr. Chairman. If I said more, I would only take up time that would otherwise have been available to somebody else. Having said that-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, I think it was Lord Vansittart who once wrote -
The bravest flights were spent in party war, The loftiest enterprise was searched for suffrage, And thus beholden, Aristotle’s man, In lustred darkness, step by step, went down The creaking staircase of his politics.
It is very, very easy to be political in a defence debate. I suppose that if any Opposition member wants to score a point against the Government, he can do so. But I hope that Opposition members will bear in mind that members on the Government side, also, can score a point or two against the Opposition. One is driven irresistibly to the conclusion that one must express regret that we are not in the circumstance in which we can put party politics completely to one side in the consideration of our country’s security and the peace and welfare of the world.
One hears coming from some honorable gentlemen opposite provocative statements such as the statements that there is no need to defend Australia and that this country is already spending too much on defence. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) recited the policy of his party on the SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization. Labour’s policy is that that body be turned into a cultural organization. That is a point of view, but I hope that the honorable member will at least concede that one is entitled to challenge it. I think that it can be challenged on some remarkably firm ground. Would the honorable gentleman, looking at the behaviour of China in recent years, take the view that entering into a discussion with
Mao Tse-tung about the benefits of Shakespeare to the twentieth century would be of any advantage? Would the honorable gentleman seriously contend that the ruthless Chinese smashing of the Tibetan way of life, with a complete grinding out of existence of the central institution, the lamaseries, represents some cultural pursuit? Surely the honorable gentleman is at least realistic enough to concede that there are in existence in this world forces that are quite prepared to pay no regard whatever to human life.
A short time ago, in Peking, there was a conference of Communist representatives from China, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, India, Malaya, Indonesia and Burma, which drew up what was known as the Aslia plan. The name is compounded from the names “ Asia “ and “ Australia “. The conference was presided over by the leading Chinese Communist theoretician, Liu Shao-chi. The object of the plan, in. his own words, was “ the complete conquest of Asia and of that vast, empty land, Australia “.
There is no basis on which this country, or any other democratic country, can rest assured that there is no longer any need to provide for defence. The contrary is the case. The causes of world tension remain. Far from abating, they have intensified, and with a meaningfulness that would be denied only by a fool. That we have to spend part of our national income on defence is a pity, but we are not in a position to dictate the terms. We must be ready to defend ourselves and our friends if asked. There is no latitude for us to be half-hearted in our readiness. We do our cause a great disservice, Mr. Temporary Chairman, if we forget that the liberty of free men and women depends not so much on the determination of those who seek to destroy liberty as on the determination of those who seek to preserve it.
Two questions stand before us in our consideration of defence: First, are we doing enough in regard to defence preparedness? Secondly, if we are not, can we do more? I believe that both questions should be answered affirmatively. Let me make it quite clear that I am not contending that Australia has no defence preparedness. Such a contention would be completely silly. This country’s forces are better equipped and at a higher state of readiness than at any previous period in their peace-time history. My case is that there is both cause and scope for Australia’s defence forces to be increased.
Since 1951-52, our defence expenditure has been more or less stable at about £200,000,000 a year. This expenditure, together with what we have spent on national development - which provides for a long-term defence strength and capability - has represented a burden on the Australian taxpayer. But let the Australian taxpayer not complain too quickly about that burden. By comparison with the people of any other country, Australians enjoy a remarkably high standard of living. There is no city or town in the whole continent in which one could find the extremes of poverty and misery that exist in many Asian countries. As a people, we are part of the one-third of the world’s population that eats two-thirds of the world’s food supply. Let us never forget it.
Two things have happened since 1951-52 which have eroded away the real significance of our defence effort. First, there has been an increase in prices. Admittedly, this has been the result of inflation - inflation that has been precipitated in the main by tremendous pressures on this country for expansion. Secondly, there has been an increase in our population, so that, per capita, we spend less to-day on defence than we spent ten years ago. May I give the committee a few figures to illustrate this. They are as follows: -
It is very easy to hit on a round figure and say, “That is near enough. Spend that.” I know that there is a vulnerability about the argument based on a comparison of our expenditure with that in the United States of America, Canada or the United Kingdom, but we should not ignore what validity there is in such a comparison. We cannot escape from the fact that, over the last ten years, there has been a fining down of our efforts. Those are the terms in which I would express it to the committee. I believe that we should say to the Australian people in the plainest possible terms, “ You live in a wonderful country. You are required to defend it if you are to maintain your present standard of living.” I disagree with my honorable and gallant friend, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes). I thought that he leant with unconscienable weight on the assumption that all our alliances will hold. That may be true. But I believe that we cannot cast our defence policy wholly on that basis. Let it mesh into gear, but we cannot proceed wholly on that basis.
That brings me to the second point I want to make, which concerns the fact that this country is a party to a number of collective security arrangements. These arrangements are of immense value to this country. When the peace treaty with Japan came into effect, or soon afterwards, the Anzus agreement came into being. As well as Anzus, we have the Anzam and Seato agreements, both powerful and valuable agreements in their own rights. We have, then, three regional agreements that touch and concern Australia and defence matters in the Pacific and in Asia. Without wishing to appear impertinent, I want to ask the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) and the Government this question: At a time of actual conflict in the Pacific or in Asia in which Australia was committed, what would be the relationship of the three treaty arrangements? Would there not be an interlocking of them? I believe that the answer to that question is, “ Yes “. But I want to ask, further, of the Minister, why should we wait for a time of crisis for an interlocking of these three agreements? This question might seem unreal because the crisis is already here. It is in existence, and is growing in intensity. Accordingly, I believe that the three collective security agreements in relation to the Pacific and Asia should be replaced by one Pacific area defence organization.
Unfortunately, there is a regrettable opinion in many Asian countries that Seato is a paper tiger. That may be a completely unreal opinion, but the impression of uselessness is the dangerous characteristic, and it worries me very much. It is true that
Seato has carried out a number of highly successful military exercises, and has done a tremendous amount of useful work in a great variety of fields. But I feel obliged to ask why the countries concerned with defence in Asia and the Pacific should dissipate their efforts? The Communist aggressor is subject to a singleness of authority, even though we may not think so. His onward march along the road to London and Paris, in which he has engaged with a singleness of purpose and a singleness of effort, might well be stopped by a Pacific area defence organization on lines similar to those of Nato. Until the central issues which largely determine whether there will be peace or war in the world are settled - I refer par.ticuarly to the plainly stated objective of the Soviet Union to achieve world domination - this Parliament and every other democratic parliament in the world must take into account what is happening around the globe.
Finally, I want to make a suggestion to the Minister which, happily, I do not think would involve very much money if it were accepted. I should like to ask him whether he would be prepared to ask the Australian Medical Association to set up a panel of those interested in psychosomatic medicine and psychiatry to examine the method of psychological warfare used by the Soviet Union. The Minister has always shown himself to be sympathetic to what appear to be constructive proposals. I hope this is the case. We have a tremendous responsibility in this field in which there is a great deal of work to be done. We have the case of George Blake, a member of the British Foreign Office who handed to the Soviet Union details of the British intelligence service throughout the whole of Europe, and extending to the Middle East. In 1951, he was taken from the British Legation in Seoul, together with members of the American Legation, and put on a horror march up to the Manchurian border. He was in gaol under intense privation for a great deal of the time that he was in Russia. Together with other survivors he was released and went back to England. A person looking at his file would not have thought for a moment that any suspicion could fall upon Blake. Yet he revealed to the Soviet Union the whole framework of the British
Security Intelligence Organization. The evidence against Blake’s having been framed is in existence. The evidence supporting the view that George Blake, at the time, was a Communist sympathizer is very real. The question that looms in one’s mind is: What is it that permits a person to go through this sort of privation without cracking under the strain? Then you have the view of a very distinguished person in the field of brain-washing, Dr. William Sargant of the London University. I would hope that his views would be taken into consideration.
.- We meet in this chamber in dramatic and historic circumstances to discuss the defence of this nation. The two most powerful nations of the world stand poised to hurl themselves into a conflict which could involve the whole world. The possibility of total nuclear war is very real. This is something that could destroy the whole world, and there is no defence against it. Looking back on the defence policies of the various nations, policies which have given rise to the present situation, we can hope that the present threat will be averted. We can learn from looking back on the history of the defence policy of various nations, should we be fortunate enough to weather the present stormy period, and we can put these lessons into practice so that such a situation will not arise again.
It seems important to realize that the main centres of turbulence in international politics are in the newly emerged nations of the world. The present situation revolves around Cuba. I am not going to enter into the argument about Cuba at this juncture, except to say that I remember very clearly that when the Cuban revolution was under way it was hailed favorably by a number of reputable news organs in the United States of America. Yet, soon after the revolution was over, when the new regime approached the United States of America for aid, the United States suddenly went cold. It is my own firm, personal belief that, in this way, Cuba was forced to approach the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics for assistance because its people were starving. We have to see that we do not create a similar situation in other countries of the world. Honorable members who heap criticism on the newly emerged nations such as Indonesia do nothing but exacerbate the position. Many authorities are of the opinion that Indonesia desires nothing but friendly relations with Australia. The most recent statement from a person whom I regard as having some authority in this matter came from Sir Hector McGregor, Air-Marshal of the Royal Air Force and British Far East Air Force Commander-in-Chief whose base is in Singapore. I would like to quote a short extract from a statement attributed to him in the “ Courier Mail “ of the 20th of this month. He said -
The Indonesian arms build-up is not being done with an offensive intention against Australia.
Later he said that the Indonesian people desire to have friendly relations with Australia. Following that statement came a statement from the Reverend B. L. Langford, the Queensland secretary of the World Council of Churches, who decried suggestions that Indonesia would become Communist dominated. I believe that the defence and foreign policies of this country must be formed with a clear understanding of the visions of the nations to our north and of their ambitions. We should not act with any desire to offend these people but with a desire to help them develop and to foster friendly relations with them.
We should first ensure that the people of Indonesia understand that our defence policy is designed solely on defensive lines and that we do not intend that our forces vill ever be used aggressively. I believe that our defence policy should also include cultural and practical aid to these countries to help them to develop and to assume with greater ease the responsibilities that will come to them as they grow to nationhood.
The Australian Labour Party is often denigrated by some honorable members on the opposite side of the chamber purely for political gain. They say that Labour as a party is opposed to defence. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Australian Labour Party firmly believes that we must have a defence force. Current evens in India clearly show the need for a defence force. The Australian Labour Party has always espoused the cause of defence. In fact, it will be found that over the years all major items of defence equipment were acquired or planned by a Labour government. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) pointed out that many of the ships in the Royal Australian Navy were bought, ordered or planned by a Labour government and there have been few additions since Labour was in office. There have been some additions, such as some secondhand mine sweepers and a few frigates. The latest vessels ordered are two Charles F. Adams class destroyers, which will cost approximately £40,000,000.
Defence planning along such lines is hopelessly short of the requirements of the Navy. How effectively can these two ships be used if they are required for defence? They are so large that they require a huge complement of men to operate them. Would it not be far better to develop for ourselves a smaller multi-purpose type of ship with a long range and high speed, which could patrol our shores? What is the sense of having these huge, glorious destroyers and aircraft carriers which, if we can believe the defence experts on the other side of the chamber, are hopelessly outmoded?
The Centurion tanks for the Army were first ordered by a Labour government. They are now restricted to the southern part of Australia, and this appears to be an extension of the “ Brisbane Line “ thinking. The defence thinking in relation to the Army embraces a system of pentropic divisions with ten battle groups. This is wholly inadequate for defence anywhere. I am reliably informed that a battle group could not hold a front of more than 2 miles in any action; so all the battle groups would not be able to hold more than 20 miles. This would not go very far around Australia. The Royal Australian Air Force has only a few modern aircraft. Although the men flying them would be courageous in the true Australian tradition, one wonders how long this defence force would last against an aggressor.
The defence thinking of the Government is hollow. Our defence force is inadequate and could not at this stage be considered an offensive force, and one also doubts whether it would be a defensive force. But I want to make this point when speaking about defensive and offensive forces:
When one considers the manner in which members of the Government, particularly the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), speak on occasions, one would think that Australia was a great military power and that the world would quiver every time the Prime Minister made a pronouncement on matters of defence or international affairs. This is a foolish attitude to adopt. We should realize that to our north, in Indonesia alone, there is a navy much better equipped than ours is and a defence force much better equipped than ours is. We could never regard our force as an aggressive force. We have to think solely on defensive lines. The Government should realize this and not make aggressive statements to the world.
Whilst the Prime Minister and other Minister are speaking in grandiose style, expenditure on defence has fallen from 6 per cent, of the national income in 1952-53 to 2.2 per cent, in 1961-62. As our defence force stands to-day, it is no more capable of an adequate thrust and no more fearsome than are the words of Government supporters who deliver verbal cannonades when they speak. We need a re-appraisal of our defence force. It should be established on peaceful lines. The need for peace has never been more vital than it is to-day. I should like honorable members to consider the following extract from a statement by President Kennedy: -
Those self-appointed generals and admirals who want to send someone else’s sons to war, and who consistently voted against the instruments of peace, ought to be kept at home by the voters.
That could very well apply to certain honorable members opposite, who, since the current international situation has developed in the last few days, have favoured the combat between two world nations which seems to be approaching. Surely they realize that no one can win the next war. The very best one could hope for would be survival of people of the quality of the Morlocks, described by Wells. They were the sole survivors of the world, the subterraneans, horrible creatures who were left to wander around in a primitive state. This is no exaggeration and the results of a war now could go even further. Humanity could perhaps be totally destroyed and the process of evolution would have to start again.
No one with a family, particularly a young family, could look at the present situation with anything but apprehension and fear. That is why the Government, instead of speaking with commendation of action that could lead to conflict, should be urging with all its might and all its sincerity that the nations involved should go before the United Nations to settle the dispute. The Government should ensure that its forces are an integral part of the United Nations police forces, but so worthless has this nation’s defence force become that the United Nations refuses to accept Australian forces as part of its police force.
This Government should now be seeking treaties with the nations of the Afro-Asian bloc, to ensure that there will be firm and friendly relations between them and us, because whether we like it or not our whole future is tied up with the countries to our north and west. And, if we have insulted them or done anything calculated to arrest their development, as they develop and become stronger, how ludicrous and weak we will be as we face their retaliation. I remind the Government that the countries associated with us in Seato and Anzus have no obligation to come to our aid should we ever be involved in a war. That is why the Government should develop an independent line of defence and should not be looking over its shoulder to seek help from other countries. It should be taking a sincere interest in the future of Australia and striking out on independent lines to ensure our security, because our future is indissolubly tied up with that of our neighbours to the north and west. The Government should ensure that our future shall be established on a firmer basis than it is at present.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I venture into the debate on these estimates with a great deal of trepidation. I am essentially a layman so far as military, naval and air force matters are concerned, but I sometimes think it is wise that those who can take a more detached view than that of people who served in the forces should make some contribution to the debate. I am very conscious of the fact that we meet under the shadow of a great catastrophe which could possibly arise from the situation confronting Cuba, the United
States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It is interesting to note, because it has a very considerable effect on present and possibly future defence dispositions, that only about 48 hours ago Walter Lippmann, who is one of the fairest and most objective writers on international relations, pointed out in the press that the Truman doctrine was developed before Soviet Russia had perfected the nuclear bomb, with all its attendant dangers. As a result, the U.S.S.R. has been ringed with bases which are calculated to prevent it from making effective military movements. We find that the Soviet has now reciprocated in kind and has set up its own base in Cuba, right on the doorstep of the United States of America.
It is possible that, as the result of that which has now transpired, America may go back rather to the Monroe doctrine and the whole business may resolve itself into a disposition for the United States of America and the U.S.S.R. to remove their bases from one another’s doorsteps. That may also come about because of the tremendous capacity of the intercontinental ballistic missile and later weapons which can strike with great force at a tremendous range. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) suggested that many of the countries associated with us had been driven almost into the arms of Russia. International politics are not quite as simple as that. I have some idea of the feelings of the Indonesians towards the Chinese, particularly the Communist Chinese. It is quite likely that Russia was very glad to put striking power into the hands of those who might find it convenient to use their strength, or try to defend themselves, against Communist China. Communist China and Russia do not see eye to eye. At present the whole international situation is being bedevilled by the fact that Communist China, with its policy of co-existence, is trying to co-exist too far into Indian territory to suit Mr. Nehru. What is Mr. Nehru’s attitude? I believe he long ago made up his mind that rather than slow down the desperately needed economic development of India he would let the Chinese take almost anything within reason until he had built up his strength. Now that strength is being tested before it has come to full fruition. Let no one think that in our defence estimates we are dealing with something isolated, because none of these things is in isolation. In a sense we and the other nations are one world, tied together for good or evil, and strikes in one place have their repercussions throughout the body politic.
I turn now to the defence of Australia, and in doing so I recall something which is extremely interesting. I have heard in this chamber quotations of what certain honorable members said in days gone by. I have a keen recollection of taking part, as a State Minister, in a federal election and being supported by a friend who had served five years in the forces during World War I. During that election campaign, which I think was in 1935, we took the platform after our Labour opposites. The policy they expounded was that Australia did not need compulsory military training, but did need development of submarines and aeroplanes. I think that policy was probably 25 years ahead of its time and I have come to the conclusion that at the present day submarines and aeroplanes, associated with guided missiles, might enable us to have a sporting chance if our great allies for any reason did not come, or did not come quickly enough, to our aid in the event of war. I am reminded that my friend - who has joined the great majority - when replying on that occasion said, “ I do not know anything about these things that the amateur generals put up. I had only five years at the war, but what I do know is that whether you have submarines, aeroplanes or anything else, by gad, you do need men.” That was the text of what my friend, the then honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes), has said in this debate. He has suggested that if you could not manage national service in this country it would be an excellent thing to encourage the expansion of the cadet service.
To put the position in perspective, we should remember that our country covers an area of 3,000,000 square miles and that it has 12,000 miles of coastline. What have we to defend it? One aspect of defence is logistics. That is a very learned word, which means the availability of supplies. From where do we obtain our supplies? To take one example, when the last war commenced we had no optical munitions industry but we were able to develop a first-class optical munitions industry which at that time was vital to our very existence.
The greater part of our population of nearly 11,000,000 people is concentrated in two great cities and two minor cities. In those cities lie the source of the logistics which are talked about so learnedly in relation to defence. If we cannot effectively prevent the dropping of an atomic bomb on each of those four vital spots, what have we left to defend? No one more than I hates the idea of war. No one more than I would like to see the nations of the world agree to turn the whole of this stream of money, which now is being devoted to the production of weapons of all kinds, towards the betterment of the human race. Unfortunately the human race has not yet reached the stage at which it will observe agreements which are entered into. As Admiral Mahan said many years ago in his classic publication, “ The Influence of Sea Power on History “, as long as the Nations have to choose between God and mammon, on the day they think that mammon will pay them better there will be war. We must face the limitations of the human race.
After considering these estimates I feel that we need in this country, first of all, a tremendously stronger build-up of missile power and the diversion of increased funds into research. Only by research will we learn how to increase our striking power. Secondly, we must have aircraft which will match those produced in other countries. Thirdly, even if we have to pawn something we must acquire one or two nuclear submarines. I do not know much about submarines, but I believe that old-fashioned submarines would be sitting ducks in view of the devices which are in use to-day for ferretting them out, including the devices which we have ourselves.
I recognize the difficulty which confronts the Minister and the Government. The thought which should be uppermost in our minds to-day is how we can defend this country, here. Once - quite rightly, J thought - I disagreed with that theory because I believed that we could keep the enemy at a distance. In this nuclear age it is unrealistic to think that we can keep any one at a distance.
Apart from the means of defence which I have mentioned, I believe that every citizen in this country should be taught discipline and the other things which come from national service training. Because of our small numbers this training is imperative. A man gains something by training. When he is out on his feet, whether by boxing, rowing or any other form of exertion, he can still go on automatically doing things which his conscious mind almost has ceased to control. In Switzerland every man had to know how to shoot a gun. I realize that the position now is more complicated than it was, but the thought of defending this country should be supreme. We should learn how to keep enemies out of this country and, if they ever do enter it, how to remove them.
Most good soldiers recognize that military government is not good government. In a democratic country the military derives from the civil. Civil government should remain even if we are in peril. Although the Government has not the constitutional power to go beyond the planning stage, it should make plans which can be put into operation swiftly if ever we are invaded.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- No doubt, Sir, you will be interested to know that I propose to debate the defence estimates. This afternoon we are viewing the state of the nation from the defence point of view. We are interested in learning what equipment will be available to our defence forces and what equipment they are likely to meet if the occasion arises. Of course, we sincerely trust that the occasion never will arise. I think we should offer some kind of congratulations to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) for what he has been able to do with the material he had at hand. His effort to make bricks without straw can be said to be the greatest effort since that made by the Israelites in their period of captivity. Unfortunately, he has met with a little less success than they did.
Let us consider the position. The strength of the military forces of the various States on 31st December, 1900 - the eve of federation - was 27,353 persons, excluding cadets, reservists and rifle club members. The effective strength of the Australian Regular Army, including 597 Pacific islanders and 581 members of the women’s services, at 30th April, 1961, was 20,240.
– What about the rifle clubs?
– We have excluded them. That is the position in a nation which has more than doubled its population and by many times multiplied its revenue in those 60 years.
The position in relation to the Royal Australian Navy is astounding. H.M.A.S. “ Banks “, which is stationed at Darwin, admittedly is a survey ship cum patrol boat, but nevertheless it is a ship of Her Majesty’s Australian Navy, lt is located at our front door. Let us have a look at this vessel. It is armed exclusively with a number of .303 rifles which the crew has been told are not to be used for anything except ceremonial purposes. They are not safe to be fired. This vessel is equipped also with two Thompson sub-machine guns and, Heaven help us, a double-barrelled shot gun, officially issued. The naval establishment ashore at Darwin is distinguished by the fact that it has a number of Lee-Enfield rifles which have been rebored to take .22 ammunition. These rifles are dated 1898. Ratings on the ship, some of whom have been in the navy for seven years, have fired an average of twenty rounds of ammunition each in their entire naval service. And this at our front door!
Now let us have a look at some old favourites of mine and of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), our Centurion tanks. We have Mark I.’s, built in 1945, armed with a 17-pounder, which is a 76.2-mm. job. We have, perhaps, some Mark II.’s and Mark III.’s, which may be armed with 20-pounders, which are 83.4-mm. guns. Since these tanks were brought into operation the British Army, which first used them, has progressed from Mark III. to Mark X.
– Marking time.
– We are the ones who are marking time. Those latest Centurion tanks are armed with 120-mm. guns. All Centurion tanks are considered by American experts to be of indifferent design from the point of view of armour protection, and they are admitted to be under-powered. A British tank expert, writing on the Korean war, said that the Centurion Mark III., with the 83.4-mm., 20-pounder gun, was the best tank on our side, but that it was outclassed by the Russian T-34, which is classified as a medium tank. In 1954 Britain adopted the Conqueror tank, and with these the British army went from Mark I. to Mark III., which is armed with a 120-mm. cannon and two 7.62-mm. anti-aircraft machine guns. In 1959 Britain decided to replace this tank with the Chieftain, which has a 700-horse-powered motor. This shows how far we are behind England in respect of armaments. As we know, Britain now also has the Hornet Malkara missile launcher, which weighs only 5.7 tons, can be transported by air and can destroy the heaviest known tanks at long range. She also had on trials in 1961 the Ferret Mark II., which is armed with a Vickers guided missile.
When we talk of armoured units, we must remember that other vehicles besides tanks are necessary. Tanks alone are almost useless. In her armoured formations Britain has armoured personnel carriers, with a range of 250 miles, armoured supply carriers, armoured command vehicles, armoured observation vehicles and armoured flame throwers, self-propelled 1 39.7-mm. - 5.5-in. - howitzers, selfpropelled 105-mm. high-angle guns with a 360 degrees traverse, Churchill Mark IV. armoured mine-sweepers and Centurion armoured bridge-layers, to carry 70 tons. I would venture to say, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that we have not one of any qf these pieces of equipment.
What kind of equipment have other countries? What will our people be expected to face? If we do, unfortunately, become embroiled in a war, we will meet something, whether our forces are on an expedition or engaged in home defence, or acting on behalf of the United Nations. What will they meet?
– Atom bombs.
– They may not. We fought a war in Korea and met no atom bombs. We went right through the Second World War, and in spite of all the prophecies to the contrary, we met no poison gas, which, it was predicted, would bring about the end of the world. As I asked before: What will our forces meet? Soviet Russia has the PT:76 and PT:85 reconnaissance tanks, which carry 76 mm. guns and coaxial machine guns. They are amphibious and have no counterpart in the West. Russia has also the T-10 battle tanks, which carry 122 mm. guns, weigh 50 tons each and have armour plating up to 200 mm. thick. They are powered with 700 horse-power diesel engines.
Russia also has the SU-57 light tank, with twin 57 mm. high-angle guns with high muzzle velocity. It is rated as the best antiaircraft tank in existence. It has a PT mobile missile launcher with 30 miles range, and a type JS long-range guided missile rocket launcher with a 300 mm. gun - a long way ahead of our 84 mm. jobs.
Switzerland, which is not normally regarded as a nation in the forefront of military power, has an armoured rocket carrier with twin 80 mm. Oerlikon automatic rocket projectors capable of a basic rate of fire of 500 rockets a minute, at a muzzle velocity of 2,300 feet a second. That piece of equipment could take on the whole of our Centurion fleet. In fact, if you put together all the equipment that we have, in spite of the high quality of the man-power available to us I would say that we could not defend the Canberra lakes against a determined attack by the Swiss navy.
The United States of America has the M.50 “ Ontos “, which carries six 106 mm. guns and weighs only 8 tons. Two of the guns can be dismantled for ground use. It can be transported by air. Listen to this one: The United States of America has the M.55 which carries a 203 mm. howitzer with a 15 miles range. In recent tests it suffered no damage at a distance of 490 yards from a 35-40 kiloton nuclear explosion. What do you think would happen to a Centurion at ten times that distance?
It does not matter who our enemy might be - and we hope that we will have no enemies. The duty of this Parliament is to provide protection for its citizens, so that they may develop their country in peace. It is not the duty of the Parliament to leave the country open for any one to take possession of it who might care to do so.
We . spend approximately 10 per cent, of our taxation income on defence. We have neighbours who spend as much as 60 per cent, of their incomes. We have neighbours who have 30,000 trained parachute commandos, backed with 10,000 marine commandos. There is no need to name anybody. All we have to do is to be sure we can give a good account of ourselves if we have to fight and we trust that we shall not have to do so.
We have neighbours who are in possession of the Russian TU-16 aircraft, known to us as the Badger bomber. It has a range! of 4,000 miles and can carry a bomb load of 7,000 lb. Our counterpart is the Canberra, which has a range of 900 miles and can carry only 4,000 lb. What is important in the present situation is not what the Government intends to buy in the future but what it has now and what other countries have now. We have no reason to believe that when the Government does secure something better, some years in the future, it will be doing anything other than replacing the obsolete with the obsolescent, because other countries will have advanced also, and they will still be ahead of us.
– Can you tell me the name of a bomber available anywhere in the world that can do what you would want it to do?
– Obviously, the Russian one can.
– Do you suggest we should get it from the Russians?
– Other people have done so, and the fact that other people have them is what is causing half the trouble in the world to-day. I believe that England has available bombers that are far in advance of the Canberra. The counterpart of the plane we are going to buy as a fighter could possibly be secured. What we want to know is not only what we possess but also what our potential enemies possess, and we want to know what you propose to do to rectify the situation. Even the purchase of the planes that you are to get from France is unsatisfactory from two points of view. The first is that there are too few of them. You are going to get 30. Make it 60. What contribution is that to the defence of this country? Furthermore, we have no aircraft industry, and no industry is contemplated, either to maintain or to replace these aircraft. Do not forget that with the creation of an aircraft industry - and these aircraft could be built under licence - we would not only have a contribution to defence but also an extension of industrial development. The aircraft industry can be combined with the motor industry. Mora Australians would be employed and, even if the cost was higher, the gain would be greater.
– Where is the Mirage being built?
– It is being made in France.
– Wake up.
– It is certainly not being made in Australia. The Minister has given us dates for delivery from abroad. If the Mirage aircraft are being put together in Australia and if parts are being made here, we are still not manufacturing the aircraft in Australia. If we are isolated by hostilities, we still will not be in a position to replace the aircraft. The all-important thing is that we must orientate defence to home replacements. No government worthy of the name would arm itself entirely with equipment secured from overseas, so that in the event of a blockade - and blockades are the order of the day - it would be incapable of replacing even the inadequate stocks that we have now. I say without fear of contradiction that Australia is inadequately armed and is totally unable to replace those things that it would obviously lose in the event of hostilities.
– Despite the interjections from this side of the chamber, I congratulate the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) on what he has said and the way in which he has aired his knowledge of individual arms. I could not possibly compete with him. Whether he was right or wrong in some of his statements, he certainly underlined the fact - and I agree with him - that our present defence policy is inadequate to meet either our overseas commitments or our home defence requirements. There have been many interesting and excellent speeches during this debate. I am only sorry that this is the first time we have had a debate on this subject and that it has been relegated to the discussion on the Estimates when every honorable member is allotted only a short time. I do not agree with many of the speakers and they will not agree with me entirely, but it has been an excellent debate and the further it goes the better the people of Australia will be informed of the position. The only previous debate was on a little inoffensive private member’s motion which I presented and which was treated with threats from one quarter and derision from another. The world has altered since then and everybody is much more interested in defence than they were. However, as I have said, I am sorry that this important debate has been confined to consideration of the defence estimates. I do not think such an arrangement is fair to the Parliament. I feel that it shows the Government is out of touch with the thinking of the people who are seriously disturbed particularly as a result of recent events. I feel also that we are still gambling with the future on the same palsied policies we had in the 1930’s.
My views are very well known. I have expressed them before in print and in other places, and I must confess to a feeling at the moment of grave disappointment and general disillusionment almost amounting to desperation. If there were any other alternative I would be inclined to take it, but there is none except one and that is to help the public to understand the dangers of the present situation and the need for once again making sacrifices in the interests of the future security of Australia. Perhaps the people will then bring more pressure on us and we will bring pressure on the Government” to see the error of its ways. I suppose that I am one of those mentioned in the speech of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) as having given, not necessarily distinguished but some small service to my country in the past, and one who now has very strong views on defence, but the Minister said, unfortunately, we have not access to the intelligence information which goes to the Cabinet. I have made many forecasts during the past eight or nine months as to the course of events and the grave dangers into which this country was drifting. I, too, have certain sources of intelligence and if the Minister can tell me where I have been wrong in my forecasts of events in Asia - I wish I had been wrong - I shall be very ready to apologize to him.
Military or other intelligence is not always correct. As the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) said, if it were correct there would not have been any Pearl Harbour or any Singapore. At times, military intelligence is correct, but its information does not percolate through the departments to the ears of Cabinet Ministers. That is what happened in the case of the air drops on Pathet Lao troops in the neighbourhood of Nam Tha. The information was that the air drop had increased from 80 to 400 - I forget whether it was a week or a fortnight - but apparently it did not get to the proper quarters. Therefore, intelligence is not always correct and all of us labour under that disability. But if I have erred in any way, I have erred in good company such as the Returned Servicemen’s League, which is seriously perturbed by the position of our defence forces.
However that may be, no Australian wants to have to spend money on defence. Every Australian would welcome an agreement on properly controlled nuclear and ordinary disarmament. 1 do not think any member of Parliament would. disagree with that proposition. But unfortunately we have to face up to the facts of international life and one of them is, as many have said, that there are certain people in the world who are aggressive. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) said recently that the red Chinese were not aggressive. He forgot Tibet, Ladakh and what is happening on the Indian border. He forgot Laos and South Viet Nam and what the Peking Radio is dealing out in propaganda every hour of every day. Unfortunately, the honorable member’s heart is good but his mind seems to have gone astray and he treats these things lightheartedly. In the proper appreciation of the situation they are serious not only to South-East Asia and India but also to us.
I feel that every one of us has a responsibility as a member of the Parliament. We cannot pass all of it off on to the Ministers and say, “ You are not doing your job “; because if we are sincere and sufficiently forceful and the Ministry is wrong, it would change its opinions. The greater the international tension - and it is high at present - the more careful we have to be when discussing these subjects. Cecil Roberts once wrote -
Boys flying kites wheel in their white winged birds;
You can’t do that when you are flying words.
So I hope that to-day all of us participating in this debate will speak calmly, keep clear heads and not talk in exaggerated language. At the same time, there is far greater danger in underestimating the position that we have to face. I congratulate the Government and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on the firmness and swiftness of the decision they announced the other day concerning the present unfortunate situation in relation to Cuba. For myself, I look upon this like the march on the Rhine. In that case, if we had been firm there might not have been a Second World War. On the other hand, words in themselves are not sufficient.
I know that Australian sportsmen and Australians in other spheres of activity do a lot for the prestige of Australia and to give Australia a good name overseas; but we must realize the difference between credits we are given for sailing off Newport, Rhode Island and the debits we accrue by wailing in Washington and Westminster. After the Prime Ministers’ Conference in London, the Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Macmillan) said on television: “ For the Asians, we have good terms. For the Caribbeans and the Africans we have excellent terms if they will take them. New Zealand requires special treatment.” But Australia and Canada were included in his remarks with Great Britain and the Continent of Europe. In other words, Mr. Macmillan said in effect: “ Look, you two boys, you have grown up. You have good businesses. You are richer than I am. Stop coming to mum for help. Cut out this ‘ Gibbit Backsheesh ‘ and come in to help us with these problems.”
One of the reasons why our defence policy is away behind our overseas responsibilities to-day is because one of the things we have to do very shortly is to take over a certain amount, if not a large share, of Britain’s responsibilities in this part of the world. The Minister announced “substantial increases in the annual level of our defence expenditure in this new three-year programme “. I think that is exaggerated language, Mr. Temporary Chairman, because if he worked it out he would find that when we started the first three-year programme the expenditure on defence amounted to 13.5 per cent, of the Budget, and at the end of the next three-year programme it will be less than 12 per cent.
– It is still a big increase.
– Yes, but it is not an increase in proportion to our needs or capacity to provide the defence forces that are required for both overseas commitments and as an insurance policy at home. Quite frankly I feel that the present policy is pathetic, pusillanimous and out of all proportion to Australia’s commitments in both cases.
Australia has a proud Anzac tradition. Have we lost all faith in the firmness and commonsense of our people, or are we afraid to tell them once again, unfortunately, in the light of world conditions, they have to make sacrifices in order to secure our future prosperity and progress? They have done so in the past and I am certain they will do it again, but if it does not come from their leaders why should they understand the position? It is quite obvious - I even agree with the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) that it is obvious - that if we are to have a defence programme in proportion to our requirements there must be increased taxation.
Have we learned nothing from the palsied policies of the 1930’s, or are we once again going to gamble as we did in the 1930’s when we nearly lost everything? There are people who say, “ We cannot afford it “. Might I suggest that they pour as much in the maws of the one-armed bandits in one State in one year as we spend on our defence in a year. Therefore, it is silly to say that we cannot afford it. After all, what is the strategic appreciation on which our defence policy is based? We all want to be friendly with the Indonesians, but when even the Malays, their first cousins, are ignored by them, it is very difficult. I hope we will be able to be friendly. I do not disbelieve what General Nasution said, or what Dr. Subandrio said but, after all, who runs Indonesia? Dr. Soekarno and the Communist Party. The Russian newspapers have been proclaiming this fact lately. When we look at our experience of the experiment of neutralizing Laos - an experiment which is already failing - at the constant attacks on South Viet Nam, the red Chinese attack on India, and the fact that President Soekarno says they are still going to build up their arms and equipment - against whom I do not know, but possibly smugglers or Sulu pirates - we have to take reasonable precautions in Australia as an insurance policy.
I have been criticized for saying that we could not send more than one and a half battalions in battle groups overseas. Well, the criticism apparently was correct, because now we want 3,500 extra men in order to be able to have two battle groups operational - with first reinforcements, the Minister said. If they are to be truly operational they have to be properly trained and equipped, and should have secondary reinforcements.
The Minister paid high praise to the Citizen Military Force. I love the old C.M.F.; I was a member of it. But do not let us delude ourselves. The C.M.F. cannot be operational in anything less than six months’ continuous training, and even then we have to remember that we have a 40 per cent, wastage every year. Therefore, while I admit that the first priority is the three A.R.A. battalion battle groups properly equipped and trained with first and second reinforcements, I feel that we must spend more money in order to be able to have another division which is operational. That is why I agree with a number of other honorable members that, whereas a large permanent army is most expensive, on the other hand we could have another division as a result of one year’s continuous national service training followed by two years in the C.M.F. Let us remember also that young America is doing two years’ “ draftee “ service, and if we cannot call up 20,000 youths for national service training along the lines suggested, why should young America come to the help of young Australia if required? Collective security, yes - but collective security means collective responsibility on the part of all parties concerned in accordance with their capacity and capabilities. It is no good saying we have Anzus if we are not prepared to take on
Our shoulders our share of the responsibility. It is no good talking about Anzam; that was always full of holes and never did exist, except in a very tattered sort of way, and Seato has been badly battered. I hope the Government will increase the present defence vote by £100,000,000.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, the best defence that any one country can hope for is one in which al! nations totally disarm themselves and agree to their differences and disputes being solved through international conciliation and arbitration. At present, undoubtedly, this ideal seems more distant than it did even a year ago. I suggest that this is all the more reason why we should rededicate ourselves to the most strenuous efforts on all available occasions to pursue the ideal. The frightful alternative, I suggest, is a world of nations living in mutual terror and mutually exhausting defence preparations of almost greater dimensions than the greatest so-called conventional war the world has yet experienced.
Having said that much about the necessity to disarm the world and to absolve ourselves from the need to divert so much of our man-power and materials to defence purposes, 1 want to look at the situation as it is, which is not, unfortunately, the ideal which we would rather have. First, I have to agree with the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) that there is imposed upon honorable members in this chamber a very great limitation in making decisions on these matters. After all, the matters that are before us are matters of great technical moment. They are not the sort of things that most of us have much acquaintance with. That places great limitations on honorable members, and this is all the more regrettable when we regard ourselves as having democratic control over defence as over other departments of state. I would suggest that we are, perhaps, even more limited by reason of the fact that those experts in the various fields of defence and war preparation are not available to all members of the Parliament. I think it is a great pity that Opposition members in this Parliament, who must be relied upon in great measure to reveal what might be considered weaknesses, and to voice criticisms of the defence programme, have not the same ready access to the military experts as have the Cabinet Ministers and, I presume, Government supporters generally. After all, this is a parliament which ought to be informed, as a result of reference to the best of the available resources, to enable it to make its decisions. I think it would be in the interests of the whole nation if there could be something approaching this democratic decision-making process.
We have had the opportunity to consult with some of these advisers, but, of course, their comments must be restricted to a factual and descriptive account of what exists. They feel that they are not able to convey to us - either the Opposition party as a whole, or its specialized defence committee - information about the efficacy or operation of the equipment provided for the defence of the nation. This is something that we have inflicted upon ourselves. 1 do not make this comment in any political way. I am aware that all governments in Australia, over a period of time, have pursued this policy in regard to the Public Service. Of course, this practice does not apply only to our military departments. I think it is one that we should look at.
In terms of the colossal amounts of money that are involved, and more particularly, when we realize that our own preservation and that of Australia are involved, this is something that we could well consider. After all, it is not a practice that is followed so rigidly and in such a limiting fashion in other countries. Even in the United States of America there is far greater public discussion of these matters than we seem to tolerate in Australia. If I cannot convey anything else in the few minutes available to r..e, I hope to convey this thought with all the earnestness of which I am capable. I do so, obviously having regard to the interests of military security and of what one might call diplomatic dicretion But having said that, I think we in Australia ought to encourage a far greater and far freer public discussion of these issues. We seem to discuss them only when there are isolated episodes, such as the journey north of the Centurian tanks recently. There was a little discussion because of the mud and slush in which, it was said, the exercises might have to be conducted in central New South Wales. But there is no real, full-blooded discussion of what Australia’s role ought to be.
Even the political parties and the newspapers, quite apart from the public at large, have not the advantage of discussion of this kind. When various journals publish articles about the deplorably low or uninformed state of the debate on the defence estimates in this Parliament, 1 think that part of the reason is attributable to this limitation we have imposed upon ourselves. Also, we have clouded our discussions of the defence estimates because there is not available to the Parliament, let alone to anybody else, an account of the supervision and control measures exercised over the spending of these considerable sums of money. I do not think our security measures warrant this almost complete control, this blanket control, over any kind of revelation concerning the way in which the moneys are spent. If we have to spend on an opera house two or three times as much as we intended to spend, we get quite excited. We become worried if the cost of a new dam is somewhat more than the amount provided for in the estimates. I suggest that it is quite possible, in the expenditure of amounts of money such as those involved in defence, for considerable wastage to occur, in which case there would be much more valid reason for concern about the expenditure. I do not say this in any particularly critical way. I am of the opinion that the Parliament ought to have committees to consider these things. We could have an all-party parliamentary committee corresponding to the Senate committees of the United States Congress to look into these matters and bring informed opinion to the Parliament. If there were a committee of that kind, the estimates debate would be a much more real and useful thing.
I have in front of me a copy of the “ Bulletin of the Australian Political Studies Association “ for May, 1961, in which there is an article which states that while the original estimate of the cost of the “Sea Slug” operation in 1949 was from £1,000,000 to £1,500,000, the actual figure looked more like being £70,000,000. There should be much more supervision of these matters. If we are to have democratic control of our defences, it must be much more realistic than is the case at present.
I regret to say that even the statement of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) provides less information than probably could be given. There are imprecise statements regarding the re-equipping of the Australian Regular Army and the Citizen Military Forces. There is talk of phasing out the old and replacing with the new. There is the imprecise statement that -
Some of the equipment to be purchased from the genera] provision of £30,000,000 will be for the Citizen Military Force.
How much of the equipment will be used for that purpose? When will the C.M.F. be fully provided for in the issue of equipment? Then there is the sentence -
Action is already in hand to provide adequate scales of the new range of personal combat equipment for the C.M.F.
No indication is given to the Parliament of the extent to which progress has already been made or of the percentage of the forces which has been re-equipped so far. There is the statement about “ gradually standardizing basic items with those held by regular units”. No target dates are given to indicate when this standardization is to be achieved. It is just as important, I suggest, to indicate to the Parliament the stage that the re-equipment has reached as it is to indicate the number of personnel recruited, or expected to be recruited, by a particular date. The Minister ought to be able to give precise information to the Parliament.
I come to the most gloriously imprecise statement and the one which takes the prize for meaningless political guff. The Minister stated -
The various measures for the Army which I have outlined in the new programme will provide combat forces capable of making a prompt, effective and sustained contribution to whatever operations they may be called upon to undertake.
That is a pretty tall order. I suggest that that is a vague and invalid statement, having regard to the various conditions which might be encountered.
Within the limits of the assumptions on which the Government’s defence policy is based, I pay credit to it as that performance is incredibly better than it was even two or three years ago. On the assumption that we need a mobile, hard-hitting, wellmechanized force, the Government has made some noteworthy contributions to Australia’s defence. I give it credit for that. After all, that is the kind of thing we were advocating just a few years ago. I am glad to say that within those assumptions there has been a worthwhile achievement, but there are obvious points of criticism. It seems that one of the assumptions behind the Government’s policy is that any large-scale armed defence against mass attack by conventional means is out. That is not taken in o account at all in the Government’s measures. Defence against nuclear attack seems to be right out, too. Not even civil defence has been taken care of in any way.
To be fair, I should say there is a political judgment involved in all this, and the judgment (hat the Government has made, apparently, is that we shall not be called upon to deal with any kind of mass invasion of Australia. That seems to be the assumption underlying the Government’s defence policy. Yet, having made that assumption, the Government seems to take up an in-between position from which it almost anticipates an attack on Australia. That is evident by the reference to the Centurion tanks located on the Australian mainland and its respect for anti-submarine defences. Its almost total reliance on anti-submarine warfare envisages an attack on Australia from the sea. There is almost total reliance, so far as air warfare is concerned, on fighter retaliation or interception rather than on bombers to deal with the sources of attack. It is a little difficult to get a clear picture of just what the assumptions are behind the Government’s programme. At one moment it seems to envisage that there will not be a call to defend ourselves against any kind of massive land invasion of Australia, and at the next moment there is this reliance on anti-submarine devices and on fighter aircraft interception, which seems to envisage an attack on the Australian mainland.
I am no military expert, but I do not think that if there were an attack on the Australian mainland we would rely on conventional weapons of defence. I have faith that at this stage the United States of > America could not stand by and see Aus tralia invaded. I believe that the United States is becoming increasingly committed to the defence of this country. I am not unduly alarmed, although some organs of public discussion are alarmed, about the attitude of the United States. I do not believe that the fact that that country did not intervene in the dispute between Indonesia and the Netherlands over West New Guinea necessarily means that the United States would not come to the defence of Australia. I think that, if any nation engages in warfare against us of proportions involving an invasion of our mainland, the game will be on much the same as it is in the neighbourhood of Cuba at present.
For these reasons, in terms of the defence of Australia, I believe that considerable expenditures on any kind of preparations for massive conventional warfare are not called for. I would rather that we concentrated more on what I term the economic basis of Australia’s defence. I would rather think that we can hope that this country, one day in the not too far distant future, will develop to the stage at which it will be much less dependent on its so-called great and powerful friends.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In parliamentary debates, it is proper for speakers on this side of the chamber to criticize the main line of philosophy followed by honorable members on the other side, and for them to criticize the philosophy of honorable members on this side. However, in the present discussion on the estimates for the defence forces, it is impossible for us on this side of the chamber to find one line of philosophy being developed by honorable members opposite. We on this side have some points of difference between us, but the differences are in matters of degree only and not of substance. On the other side of the chamber, however, there is so much variance in points of view as to make it impossible to pick out a line of philosophy and criticize it.
At the outset, Sir, I commend the Government and the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) not only on the defence plan presented to the Parliament and on the
Government’s programme, but also on the clear implication that the plan provides for flexibility in expenditure. In designing a defence plan, it is essential, first, to establish certain premises and assumptions on which to base the plan. A close study of history - particularly contemporary history - must be made, also, to make manifest the emerging patterns in the military and political environment in which we find ourselves. Many Opposition speakers have omitted to do this and have taken events out of context. This applies particularly to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson), who, earlier in this debate, made a thoughtful speech on the subject of our Navy. However, his demands were based on all sorts of eventualities ranging from a short local skirmish to an all-out, protracted global war. It must be obvious to any thinking person that a defence plan designed to meet such a range of eventualities would cost more than our total national expenditure is to-day.
Let us look, then, at the historical and environmental factors which might enable us to determine the situation - hypothetical though it may be - which is likely to occur and which must be met. The list of violent conflicts occurring since the end of World War II. very nearly coincides with the chronology of Communist efforts at expansion. In 1947, a civil war was waged by Communist guerrilla forces in Greece. In 1948, the Communists fomented an uprising in Malaya, blockaded Berlin and1 seized control of Czechoslovakia. In 1949, a Communist regime took over mainland China. Communist insurgents took control of North Korea in 1952 and of North Viet Nam in 1953. Soviet forces finally extinguished the light of freedom in Hungary in 1956. The Chinese assaulted Quemoy and Matsu in 1958, and completely conquered the peace-loving people of Tibet in 1959. In 1960, the Communists inspired the uprising in Laos and provided the motivating force for the betrayal of the Cuban revolution. This terrifying list does not include Communist activities in the Middle East, Africa and Central and South America.
No one who shares the outlook of the Western democratic powers can view with complacency these facts of world-wide Communist expansion over the past fifteen years. It is tragic to think, Sir, that more territory has fallen under communism since the end of World War II. than changed hands as a consequence of that war. The largest and most violent of these Communist inroads have occurred in Australia’s sector of the globe. The aggressive acts which the Communists have initiated in this period of cold war could scarcely have been random and1 unco-ordinated. In every instance, without exception, the Communist moves were in some way aided and abetted by Soviet arms.
I ask: Is it realistic to suppose that the Communist strategist, whoever he may be, who is directing the world-wide advance of communism will ignore Australia? Surely it is obvious that, in a general war, Australia will be threatened with strategic attack and invasion. It is also possible that Australia will be invaded under conditions of limited war. We are an island continent, and it would be difficult for an army to invade Australia from the Asiatic mainland by sea routes because of the long supply lines. But is it impossible that there may develop a situation in which the threat of invasion could be made a reality by the remote arming, supplying and prompting of a puppet government without Che direct involvement of the Soviet Union or China? Such a contingency is both logically possible and entirely credible in the light of events. Viewed as one event in an unfolding sequence of world-wide Communist advances, the invasion of Australia cannot be dismissed lightly.
Can there be any doubt that the opening moves in the implementation of a long-range plan to conquer Australia have already been made? This is a sobering thought and one which I commend to those members of the Australian Labour Party who have dedicated themselves to the task of reducing the provision made for expenditure on defence. An even more sobering thought is that which suggests that Australia, with its limited resources of equipment and manpower, is hardly capable of defending itself without the assistance of powerful friends - friends who join with us in the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, which is commonly known as the Seato treaty, and the treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States, which is usually described as the Anzus treaty. Those are treaties which have been knocked by Opposition members.
– The honorable member should have been present earlier when we discussed these matters.
– These treaties have been ridiculed by the Opposition, particularly by the new adherent who has just interjected.
Thank God that we now have in the young President of the United States of America a man who is prepared to stand up and be counted and to say to the enemies of freedom: “ Stop! You have gone far enough. You may go no further”. His courage and his capacity to make decisions give us on this side of the chamber as much encouragement as they seem to give dismay to some of those who sit on the benches opposite.
I should not like it to be thought, from what I have said, that I imagine that the only eventuality for us will be an invasion. Pray God that an invasion of Australia will never occur. I mention only that eventuality because time is limited and I wish to make one point concerning the possibility of Australia being invaded by forces armed and equipped by the Communist powers but raised by a puppet government controlled from Moscow or Peking. I believe that, during the next five years, Australia must acquire a modern bomber strike force. I thoroughly agree with the financial provision made in these estimates and with the view that it is perhaps a little premature to include in the current financial year’s estimates provision for the vital phase of defence in the face of an invasion. I am supremely confident, Sir, that the treaties which I mentioned earlier will stand by us in the event of an invasion. May I put to the committee the analogy that an invasion is like a fire: Unless quelled quickly, it can spread very rapidly. The development of a modern bomber strike force, in my view, would provide one means of hitting an invasion where it would hurt most - in the early stages. I remind the Minister that it takes at least four or five years for these items of equipment to be provided where they are now on the drawing boards in both the United Kingdom and the United States of America. With the dynamics of the new world to-day and the quickness with which the international situation changes, it is very hard to envisage whether, in four years’ time, it will be too late to be talking in these terms.
In conclusion, may I make one point which may be provocative. Without complete friendship with our powerful friends, particularly the United States of America, which the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) in particular seems to despise, we may as well adopt the philosophy, which I believe is held by honorable members opposite, like the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), that it is better to be red than dead. But if we are to preserve and keep this friendship upon which our very survival depends, we must make it a two-way deal. That is what I believe we are doing to the limit of our resources at this stage not only through the defence vote this year but also through many other avenues of expenditure for which provision is made in our Estimates and our Budget and which, whilst not coming under the defence vote, are virtually defence items. As one example, I refer to the £20,000,000 we are spending in New Guinea now. I often wonder if those wellmeaning people who constantly criticize our defence contribution to the allied programme realize the possible disservice they are doing their own country in creating doubts and suspicions of our bona fides in the minds of our allies upon whom one day we may have to rely for the preservation of our liberty.
– I do not propose to speak at length. The matters covered by the estimates under discussion have been fully covered by my colleague the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) and I appreciate that honorable members like to have the opportunity to submit their views on an occasion such as this.
First, I should like to thank honorable members for what appeared to me to be general approval of my particular branch of the services. Very commendatory remarks have been made about it, and on all sides there has been an acknowledgement that the Army has developed successfully over the last few years. Certainly there has been some criticism in relation to strategic appreciation, but I do not propose to deal with that because it does not come within the ambit of my portfolio. But I am concerned about the attitude of many members of the Labour Party to our role of defence. Honorable members opposite have spoken in such an authoritative way as to justify our believing that if Labour were in power its policy would . be to abandon Seato in its present form. If that is Labour’s policy, then it follows that Labour would abandon Anzus in its present form and that it would also abandon Anzam, because members of the Labour Party would require the withdrawal of our troops from Malaya. In other words, a Labour government would concentrate upon home defence, the defence of the shores of Australia and would not enter into any war beyond our shores unless under the control of the United Nations Organization. That is virtually what they say. If that is their attitude, it is deplorable. That is a most tragic approach to be made by a responsible party which is aiming to become the government of this country. If the people throughout Australia understood that that is the policy of the Labour Party, I know they would never return a Labour government to this Parliament. Such a policy would be simply nothing more or less than national suicide. I do not propose to develop that theme further.
Here I should like to mention the little booklet that I issued. I hope it is of some value to honorable members. It was not costly because it was printed in our own printing establishment. Its purpose is to give honorable members some little idea of the new equipment and new weapons being produced from time to time. As has been mentioned already, the estimates for the Department of the Army this year provide for an expenditure of £67,299,000, an increase of a little over £2,000,000 on last year’s expenditure. The point I am most interested in is the fact that, as was announced by my colleague the Minister for Defence, a further £1,201,000 is to be allocated mainly for the purpose of replacement of existing equipment for the Australian Regular Army and the purchase of new items of equipment for the Citizen Military Forces. To me, new equipment for the C.M.F. is of extreme importance. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) has already referred to that point, and new equipment for the C.M.F. is something that we have needed very badly.
There can be no doubt that if we are to have any enthusiasm in the C.M.F., it is necessary that members be trained in the use of new weapons. Under our proposal, they will get that training. It is interesting to note that 79 per cent, of the proposed expenditure will be on maintenance and 21 per cent, on capital needs.
Our recruitment figures are excellent. The Australian Regular Army will be increased in strength to 24,500. This is splendid. The Citizen Military Forces will increase to 32,500 and the Cadet force to 40,000. We now have a total of 21,800 in the A.R.A., of which 11,105 are in the field force. Out of 30,000 of the C.M.F., 25,240 are in the field force. The position is not a simple one; we cannot just make a call to-morrow morning and get an extra 3,500 men. As a matter of fact, we have achieved a very creditable performance in our recruiting over the last two years; we have exceeded our quota. When there are so many jobs for a man to get, it is not easy to obtain the numbers at which we are aiming, but we are gradually doing it and I have no doubt that with the way the Army is being run to-day and with the career Army life offers to young men, we will be able to induce the right type of young man to enlist. The quality of young men entering the Army to-day is higher than it has ever been in our history. Honorable members must not get the idea that young men are coming to the Army because they cannot find jobs outside. By far the greater percentage of those who have enlisted in our Regular Army are men who have come from other jobs. It is important that we remember that.
We have just had a very thorough reorganization of the Army. I point out that this re-organization is not something that was just conceived by the Department of Defence, and it is certainly not something for which the Minister for the Army is responsible. I take this opportunity to place on record my appreciation of the magnificent co-operation of all sections of the Army from the commanding officers down. A terrific amount of co-operation was required to achieve the splendid result we have attained, and I thank every one responsible for it. This was a vast reorganization, a complete departure from the old traditions of 170 years. It was the introduction of something completely new, and every one connected with the Army was faced with something completely different from that to which he had been accustomed. One would imagine that there would be all sorts of disruptions and all sorts of resistance to the re-organization. All credit is due to those who co-operated for the fact that the new organization was effected smoothly and has now been’ completed.
It may be of interest to honorable members to know that of a total Australian Regular Army strength of 21,800, we now have 11,105 in the field force. That is a splendid percentage. Of a total Citizen Military Forces strength of 30,000 we have in the field force 25,240. This is of very great importance. There have been critics of the type of formations that we have adopted, but honorable members must appreciate that the object of the reorganization has been to have a field force designed for tropical warfare and to ensure maximum availability of the field force at short notice. So it is of tremendous importance to have this percentage of field force men available in the total strength of the Army.
In order that personnel shall be efficient continual exercises are conducted. In the various commands there is vital training for war in the multitude of unit exercises that are held. We have just completed a logistic exercise called “Springtide” which has been extremely successful. In this exercise we supplied and maintained a force in the Port Stephens-Singleton area. Among the operations were ship-to-shore operations using our four L.S.M.’s and over 2,000 tons of goods were removed by sea from Sydney. This is the kind of training that the men need to make them efficient and to bring them up to the necessary standard. As mentioned by the Minister for Defence we are now having another exercise. These exercises are of great importance in order to bring up the efficiency of the Army.
Our present exercise is called “ Nutcracker” and it will go on until 10th November. It is being held in the mountains of the Colo-Putty area and involves 8,000 men. We have never had an exercise of this character before in the peace-time history of Australia. It is really something out of the box. I am glad that, as a result of my invitation, some honorable members are coming along to have a look at the exercise. I am expecting that the Commander-in-Chief of the forces, the Governor-General himself, will come to look at the exercise because he is extremely interested in it. We have a task force in this exercise of two battle groups, heavily supported by tanks - apparently despised by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) - artillery and engineers as well as signal, medical and service units. We are also using a number of C.M.F. units. Very severe active service conditions will be simulated in order to give troops the utmost experience and in order to find out the little weaknesses that must inevitably show up in an exercise of this kind. I thank the Air Force, which is carrying out air-drops and giving quite a lot of other assistance, very much for its co-operation.
At this stage I should like to add a word about the cadets who have already been mentioned in this debate. I am very partial to the cadets because, without national service training, they represent the only direct contact that we have with the youth of Australia in respect of military training. Whilst the cadets are not part of the services they are controlled by the Department of the Army. At present there is great enthusiasm among the cadets throughout Australia and they are doing a magnificent job. As somebody said this afternoon, they are supplying 93 per cent, of our officers for Duntroon and Portsea. We have maintained, and are building up, a very close liaison between the C.M.F. and the cadets. That is one of the reasons why we have lowered the age of entry for the C.M.F. to seventeen years - so that a boy going to school and taking his leaving certificate while in the cadets can go straight from there to the C.M.F. I believe I am safe in saying that the cadet corps in Australia is getting greater public recognition than ever.
If I have time, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I should like to mention a couple of special units. I do not want to exceed my time limit, but I should like to mention what is called the “ S.A.S. Company “-the Special Air Service Company. This is an independent infantry unit of the Regular Army with a main reconnaissance role. Its strength is over 200 and it is located in
Western Australia. It is an elite unit, the members of which are specially selected from a magnificent type of young Australian. They are extremely highly trained, their training being even beyond the usual commando training. In addition they are highly trained in specialist skill, such as parachuting, cliff climbing and underwater operations. They exercised recently with the Royal Marine Commandos from H.M.S. “Bulwark”. I was there at the time, and the commander of the British unit told me that he had never seen a better type of young soldier than those we have.
I should like to mention also the engineer construction squadron which has done such a magnificent job in New Guinea. This was started about a year or so ago. We sent the squadron to New Guinea for twelve months, and there it carried out valuable construction work on roads, bridges and so on. We took advantage of the opportunity to allow C.M.F. engineers to carry out their annual exercises in the same area. Another special unit is the air arm at Amberley which has been so valuable. I will not say anything further about that except that the Royal Australian Air Force is producing some excellent army pilots which, of course, is good for the future.
I should like to conclude by giving the committee some idea of our new equipment. There are the 7.62-mm rifles with which both the A.R.A. and the C.M.F. are equipped. These, and the 106-mm. recoilless antitank rifles, are in the process of delivery. There are the M.60 machine guns, which are only just coming into service in the U.S. Army, the bridge-layer tanks and a host of vehicles of all kinds. We have ordered, and are about to receive, the 9-mm. submachine guns which honorable members may have heard about and which will take the place of the Owen gun. We have also ordered additional 105-mm. pack howitzers, a large amount of earth-moving equipment, and mortar locating radars. Some very interesting items are coming up, including heavy air-drop equipment. For evaluation purposes we shall receive some new amphibious lighters. As I mentioned in the House the other day, we are ordering an anti-tank guided weapon system for examination. Our works and buildings are going ahead, and all our old establishment buildings are gradually disappearing.
Accommodation of a better type is being provided for the Army.
I think I shall leave it at that, although there is much more of interest that I can tell. I have tried to give new information that was not contained in the statement of the Minister for Defence.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, the estimates under discussion afford us an opportunity to scrutinize the policy of the Government, in regard to defence expenditure, not only for this year but for the whole time since the Government was elected in 1949. The statement just made by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) was another long tirade telling what the Government is supposed to have done to provide this country with adequate defence. Experts in the field of defence, including some very outspoken critics within the ranks of government supporters - I have in mind the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) - claim that the £2,169,000,000 spent on defence since 1949 has been wasted. In view of the criticism by distinguished ex-servicemen within the ranks of government supporters and by competent experts outside this Parliament, we must view with suspicion statements that are made by the Government. I and other honorable members on this side of the chamber would like to see total world disarmament. I would like to see a world free of nuclear weapons. I would like to think of a world at peace for all time. I would like to think that peace and freedom in the world could be achieved without resort to war. But, being a realist, I know that in this age every country should be adequately protected and must have an adequate defence force. There are problems associated with being neutral. India is experiencing some of the problems of neutrality. So, on whatever side of this chamber we may sit, we must play our part in seeing that we have an adequate defence force for the protection of our people. If we do that we will play a part, strange as it may seem, in achieving world disarmament and world peace.
I am not anti-this or anti-that so far as any nation is concerned but any country is entitled to defend itself if it feels that its rights have been infringed. This is the very factor that has led to the present state of tension in the world and the discussion of these defence estimates.
The Government’s record in the field of defence is a sorry one. No government in the history of this country has a worse record in defence and protection of the rights of the people than has the Government that was in power in 1939. Honorable members opposite have attacked Labour’s defence policy. I would like to compare Labour’s record in defence with that of governments composed of the parties that form the present Government. When Labour assumed office on 7th October, 1941 a Liberal-Country Party Government had been in power for almost ten years. Two of those years had been war years during which time the Government had proved completely incapable of handling the situation. Our defences were weak. Our output of arms and munitions was small. Our Army and our Navy vere not organized. In 1939, under a Liberal-Country Party Government, Australia’s defences were in a deplorable state. It is doubtful whether we could have resisted even a small attack. One Minister of the government went on record as saying that a Japanese division could have walked through Australia because of the Government’s failure to provide the country with adequate defences.
When Labour took over from the LiberalCountry Party Government in 1941 there was not one modern fighter aircraft in Australia. We had no serviceable tanks. We had no aerial torpedoes. We had only one radio direction-finding equipment centre. We had only fifteen rounds of antitank ammunition for each anti-tank gun. The one or two anti-aircraft guns that we had would have run out of ammunition within 60 seconds. Only 60 per cent, of the rifles required by the forces were available. We had only 20 per cent, of the automatic weapons that we needed. Sup- I plies of oil and petrol were scarce. We had in Australia a small army sadly lacking in equipment and elsewhere in the world we had four divisions of the Australian Imperial Force. About 85 per cent, of the troops sent by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to defend Greece were not properly equipped. Almost 100 tanks were in a useless condition. Many of them had parts missing. We had no air support. The political parties that formed that Government and its programme in 1941 to-day criticize Labour for its lack of defence preparation. Twelve months after war had broken out in 1939, about 100,000 men and women in Australia still could not find work. So much for the record of Liberal-Country Party governments in the field of defence. In 1941 Labour assumed control of the affairs of the nation. What happened is history. Labour’s actions were endorsed by the people after the election of Mr. Curtin as Prime Minister.
What is the position to-day? The Government claims that the Opposition does not believe in defence. On the contrary, Labour’s policy has always been to provide adequate defence for this country. It was a Labour administration that established the Royal Australian Navy. Labour has a history of adequate defence preparations. A Labour government instituted national service training. This Government introduced a national service training scheme and subsequently, after spending about £150,000,000 on the scheme, abandoned it despite the fact that it said the scheme was essential to Australia’s defence. Down through the years the only practical contributions towards Australia’s defence have been made by Labour governments. During war-time Labour governments have ensured the success of the war effort by providing adequate supplies of men and equipment.
Last night the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) announced a defence plan for the next three years. I wonder whether the effect of this new plan will be any different from the policies of re-organization that have been announced from time to time in the past. I cannot remember how many times this Government has changed its defence plans. In 1951 the Prime Minister said that we had three years to prepare for war. What happened? He doubled defence expenditure and subsequently abandoned his scheme. Again and again Ministers for Defence, Ministers for the Army, Ministers for Air and Ministers for the Navy have presented new policies to this Parliament. Those changing policies on the part of the
Government have earned criticism not only from members of the Opposition but also from men such as the honorable member for Chisholm and other honorable members opposite who recognize the downright inefficiency of this Government in respect of economic matters and the defence of the people of Australia.
I understand that three years from now the Regular Army will have 3,500 more men. What is the position after spending more than £2,000,000,000 on defence? The Australian Regular Army could maintain in the field only one regular battle group of 3,000 men. Three years from now, if this Government is still in office, 6,000 men will be available to defend a country with a population of more than 10,000,000 persons. The obsolete Canberra bombers are to be retained by the Air Force. Despite the latest announcement by the Minister for Defence, there is no indication that the Government proposes adequately to equip the Navy for the defence of this nation. To-day’s edition of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ refers to the statement of the Minister for Defence in this way -
Mr. Townley’s statement on defence is a frightening document.
Yesterday’s statement on defence was not the announcement of a defence program; it was an announcement that the Government had abdicated its national responsibilities.
The present international situation, with the world on the brink of conflict, strikes fear in the hearts of all men. Yet, despite expenditure by the Government of about £2,000,000,000 since 1949, Australia is almost as defenceless as she was in 1939. That is the opinion of experts in the field of defence. As recently as 4th June this year, Lieutenant-General Gordon Bennett, now deceased, said that 1,000 men could take Australia. How tragic is that statement in view of the fact that we have spent more than £2,000,000,000 on defence since 1949!
I am aware of the problems that confront the Government in guiding the destinies of a country such as Australia. It is not easy to defend a country covering millions of square miles and bounded by more than 12,000 miles of coastline when it has a population of only 10,000,000 people. Australia is an island continent and defence would be difficult in this age of nuclear weapons. Conflicts may occur anywhere in the world, and Great Britain is no longer the great power that she was before the last war. I realize the great problems that confront Australia, but a government worth its salt would provide adequate defence for its own country. Tragic as it may seem, in this age we cannot be neutral and we must have adequate means to protect ourselves. Our allies may not be able to help us when we need them, not because they do not want to be with us, but because they may be otherwise engaged.
We do not criticize the Government for spending money on defence. Our criticism is directed to the way the money is being spent. We need to defend our north. Why should not more money be spent to give adequate protection to our north, which is really our front door? Various honorable members from this side of the chamber have referred to the equipment that has been purchased. It is not the latest and not the most modern, and in many ways money spent on this equipment is wasted. We are told that submarines may be bought. But will they be modern submarines or will they be of the type mentioned by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) some time ago and not weapons designed for this modern age?
What will be the position with the Army? Are we to have another collection of Centurion tanks? Any one who read of the movement of these tanks from Victoria to a place in New South Wales for Army manoeuvres must have thought he was reading a Laurel and Hardy story. The situation was ridiculous, but it was an expensive joke. The tanks are practically useless for the defence of this country. They represent million of pounds of expenditure by a wasteful and incompetent Government. Government supporters should not criticize Labour and say that we do not want defence. We believe that defence is necessary and we want adequate defence of our country. We want the right weapons, and we criticize the Government for not spending the money in a way that would provide us with proper defence.
Only a small amount has been given te the States for defence purposes. We want large highways and we should be exerting greater effort in development, particularly in the north, Western Australia and the north of Queensland, where one honorable member said there are practically no roads or bridges. The provision of highways and bridges would help in the defence of the country. With our limited man-power, we should spend our money on these purposes and so contribute to our defence.
I do not offer my criticism of the Government merely for the sake of letting our enemies know what our defence position is. We in this place should be realistic and we should appreciate that at any time we may be called upon to defend ourselves. It would appear that at this stage we could not defend ourselves against the smallest enemy that may launch an attack upon us. This state of affairs is tragic. I regret that I must say we seem to be re-writing the history of the years prior to 1939. The Government then was talking a lot, changing policies and buying obsolete equipment, but it was doing nothing in the broad scheme of things to give us adequate defence, although the world was on the brink of a great conflict. We appear to be in the same position now, and we all hope that there will not be a conflict.
I am sorry that I cannot share the complacency of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer). The Minister for the Army is an important person in war or in peace. He has the responsibility of ensuring that he has behind him a force that could protect the country. Confident though this Minister is, I do not believe he thinks for one moment that the defence force he administers is adequate to give even a moderate form of defence. My time has almost expired and I make these comments, knowing that Labour has nothing of which to be ashamed.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 6.1 to 8 p.m.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without requests -
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 4) 1962.
Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Bill (No. 2) 1962.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill (No. 3) 1962.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Audit Act - Finance - Supplementary Report by the Auditor-General upon other accounts, for year 1961-1962.
Ordered to be printed.
” HANSARD “ REPORT.
– by leave - Mr. Speaker, yesterday I read to the House a prepared statement on defence. In the report of that statement in the “ Hansard “ daily proof, the sentence commencing at the 23 rd line in the second column on page 1884 reads, “The defence of this area in present strategic circumstances is provided by the nuclear forces stationed there . . . “ The word “ nuclear “ should read “ nucleus “, which was the word used in the text of my statement. This error will be corrected in the weekly and permanent volumes of “ Hansard “.
– I present the third report of the Printing Committee.
Report read by the Clerk.
Motion (by Mr. Erwin) - by leave - proposed -
That the report be agreed to.
.- Mr. Speaker, I believe that in this House we are a little too prone to accept things without question. I think that in future the honorable member who holds the responsible position of chairman of the Printing Committee should give a little more explanation of what he proposes in this House.
.- I agree with the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney). As I understand it, the matters with which the Printing Committee is charged concern all members of this House and concern them very directly. I refer to the pieces of paper on which correspondence goes out to the electors whom we represent. It is very important that these matters should be considered very closely.
– Order! The honorable member is out of order.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed (vide page 1995).
.- Mr. Chairman, I am very pleased to see that such interest has been shown in the estimates for the defence services. From each side of the committee there have been many speeches. They have been very good ones, too. I have agreed with certain points made from each side of the chamber and, of course, I have disagreed with other points. Any defence measure must have some foundation. We have to look at conditions in the world to-day before we can decide what our defence programme will be. There is not the slightest doubt that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) and the Government are always watching very closely conditions all round the world. In doing that they bring forward certain defence measures for which these estimates provide for the defence of Australia and for the general welfare of its people.
To-night I want to make the point that in this world the nations that matter from a defence point of view - that is the strong nations of the world - are divided into two groups. A country like Australia has to decide very definitely on which side it is. As I listened to the speeches to-day, it appeared to me - I will go into this in more detail in a few minutes - that some honorable members want to have a little bit each way, they do not want to take any side at all. I believe that it is teamwork that counts. We have to be in one team or the other. I listened very closely to the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). He said that it is not only the Government but also the people who must be interested in this matter and must play their part. Of course, Mr. Chairman, I remember that that has been the idea for many, many years; because Rudyard Kipling said -
It ain’t the individual, nor the army as a whole, But the everlastin’ teamwork of every Moomin’ soul.
I did not agree with the honorable member for Chisholm when he said that he thought this subject should have been debated under some other heading when honorable members would have had twenty minutes instead of fifteen minutes in which to make their speeches. I questioned him afterwards and he said that in those circumstances each honorable member would have a little longer time in which to speak and that at the end of a quarter of an hour honorable members were not able to round off their speeches. If some honorable members in this chamber had an hour at their disposal they would still not be able to round their speeches off. On the race-courses they say there are some horses which always run no matter what the distance, but never seem to win.
With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I will deal, in passing, with some of the speeches made in this chamber to-day. Twelve native leaders from all parts of Papua and New Guinea recently visited Canberra to attend lectures on various aspects of government, and one of the points which seemed to impress a number of them during their stay here was that the Government had to find money with which to do the work of government. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) said that apparently some members of this visiting group had previously taken it for granted that there was always money for the Government to expend, but that they had now learned how great a part the raising of money took in the functions of government and how the work of government was controlled by the amount of money that could be raised. After listening to the speeches of some honorable members opposite to-day I feel they could well have been occupied in attending such classes as those attended by out native visitors, because it appears to me that they still think there is always money for the Government to spend and do not realize that these estimates are worked out very finely in view of the amount of money that is available. They do not seem to realize that the Government provides in the estimates for expenditure of all the money possible without affecting certain other departments, such as repatriation and social services.
Although members opposite find fault with the Government’s proposed defence expenditure they never tell us what other work of government could be cut back in finance in order to make more money available for defence. I took down the words uttered by some honorable members opposite this afternoon to ensure that I would have them correctly. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr Cairns) said that there should be an increase in taxation and that the extra money collected should be used for defence purposes. I did not hear any other member of the Opposition support that suggestion. When the honorable member suggested an increase in taxation he was sure that this Government would levy it. Every one knows how unpopular rises in taxation are. We all know that a government which is doing good work for the country has, as its main object, in order to continue that work, staying in office. Once you start raising taxation in this country you do not stay in government for very long. This Government has done the opposite to what the honorable member for Yarra suggested, and has reduced taxation.
I want next to deal with the speech of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), who said, “We want to learn to live together, or perish “. He should tell that to Mr. Khrushchev. Does anybody think the Australian people are loking for war, or that the free nations, such as Britain, the Commonwealth countries and the United States of America, have any territorial aims? They are satisfied to live in peace. We know that Australians do not want war, but peace. We know that all the nations with whom we are closely associated want peace, so the proposition put forward by the honorable member for Reid does not do much good. We could not get the Communists, who are on the other side of world politics from us, to agree to it. I can recall an occasion when an honorable member in this chamber said to me, “ I think we should lay down all our arms and then even Russia, seeing that we had not a feather to fly with in defence, would do the same “. That was said in this chamber by an honorable member who always voted Labour.
The honorable member for Reid also said that we do not want any overseas forces, and should not send forces overseas except at the request of the United Nations. It has been proved by history that the Australian Imperial Forces and the Navy, the
Air Force and so on, have saved this country by fighting overseas. Only in one attack on Darwin have we had war in Australia. By fighting our battles overseas we have been able to defeat the enemy who otherwise would eventually have come here, and that has been in the best interests of Australia. The honorable member for Reid also said that we should not interfere in any events overseas. But we must interfere in things overseas. We are reaching out for trade, so Australia must co-operate in maintaining in a state of peace, if possible, the places where we sell our goods - even if we have to go to war to maintain that peace. That might sound like a contradiction in terms, but it is not.
Although nobody in this chamber wants war less than I do, I do not believe in peace at any price. I have learnt, through hard experience, that peace and freedom must be fought for and when achieved must be maintained at all costs. The honorable member for Reid said we should withdraw our strategic forces from Malaya and Thailand. Labour members in this chamber have been advocating that course ever since the Malayan force went overseas as part of a Commonwealth force comprised of United Kingdom, Australian and New Zealand troops with the specific purpose of fighting the Communist terrorists in the Malayan jungle. It did a magnificent job. The leaders of Malaya have praised that force and have thanked Australia for sending it there to protect Malaya from being overrun by the Communists. But Labour, at every opportunity, says we should bring those forces back to Australia and that they should never have been sent overseas. When I say “ Labour “ I do not refer to all honorable members opposite, but most of them wanted the Malayan force prevented from going overseas. I have heard only one honorable member opposite say during this debate that that force should not have been in Malaya; but after the great work that the force has done even honorable members opposite know the worth of our men in holding back the Communists on the Malayan Peninsula.
The honorable member for Reid said that it is not in our best interests to rely on anybody for defence and that we should be independent. But it is only through our association with Seato, Anzus and other treaties that we have any chance of security. If we had no association with those bodies and were independent we could not expect any of the countries concerned to assist us in time of war. It is only if we uphold those organizations to the best of our ability that we can expect those countries to help us.
I congratulate the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) and the Government on the three years’ defence scheme. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) and the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) are fairly expert in military manoeuvres and arms requirements, but as time goes on changes occur, and I believe that honorable members of this chamber can only advocate the broad principles of defence. The fine details must always be worked out by the experts. There is not the slightest doubt about that.
Let me finish where I started, regarding team work, lt has been suggested by the honorable member for Reid that we should have tried to get Castro onto our side, that we should have conferred with him and given him some encouragement, and that he may have joined us. I say, definitely, that no leader of a country could possibly, in any circumstances, join a country with a democratic way of life such as Australia has, if he was prepared, as Castro has been, to join with Khrushchev. That would put him out of calculations altogether. This country can afford to link up only with those governments which are founded on democracy. There are many new forms of government, but they never endure unless they are founded on those principles which have sustained and uplifted mankind throughout the ages.
.- I believe that it was Thomas Hardy who once said of himself that he was the one who noticed things afterwards. Has the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) presented a defence programme that is equal to the demands of modern warfare? I believe that that is a fair question for every Australian to ask himself. Has the Minister measured up to the demands of modern warfare? Has he given Australia’s defence the attention that he should have given it? A lot has been said about the various Australian forces that are now in existence. It is rather interesting to read the comment in the editorial of to-day’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “. In three years there will be a miserable addition of 3,500 men, to bring the total field army to 6,000 men. This is very interesting when we consider that the New South Wales Police Force consists of about 5,708 men to look after a few people who are normally law-abiding.
– That figure happens to be taken from the 1961 report of the Police Commissioner. There may not be so many in the honorable member’s electorate, but there are as many in other parts of Australia. Let us have a look at the summary of the strengths of our forces. In three years, naval strength will consist of one anti-submarine helicopter aircraft carrier; three Daring class destroyers; four type 12 frigates; two Battle class destroyers; a fast transport; and 11,000 men. The Army will consist of one battle group in Malaya; two Regular Army battle groups; and seven Citizen Military Forces battle groups. We must remember that five battle groups equal one division. The Regular Army will consist of 21,000 men and the Citizen Military Forces of 30,000 men. The role of the Army will be that of a mobile integrated force. The role of the Navy will be anti-submarine, but it is not being equipped with submarines. We have three conventional submarines equipped with secondary means of defence or offence. I understand that those three submarines are on loan.
In the Royal Australian Air Force, we shall have three bomber squadrons; four fighter squadrons; three maritime reconnaissance squadrons; three transport squadrons; one surface-to-air missile squadron; one helicopter squadron. Personnel will total 16,000 men. That summarizes, roughly, the forces we shall have for our protection.
We must ask ourselves whether that is sufficient even to provide a decent police force for Australia. Somebody has suggested that it takes money to provide an army. It is extraordinary that when the need arises we seem to be able to find that money. It will be unfortunate for Australia if, as regards defence, we are to be found virtually in a naked condition. At present we are living in a fool’s paradise. I would be one of the last people to advocate war, one of the too few people who hate war intensely. I do not wish to see it, not so much for my own sake; I happen to be just an ordinary Australian with a few sons in the particular age group that would be affected. Any honorable members who were in the last war and who have families can appreciate what I mean by that.
Having looked at the summary that was taken from the Minister’s report of yesterday, we must ask ourselves a few questions. Have we enough strength to defend Australia against anything or any one? Has provision been made for home defence of any consequence? Does the protracted programme, which will not be completed within three years, provide any assurance of security? In the limited time at my disposal I should like to deal particularly with one aspect of our defences, namely, the Royal Australian Air Force. It is interesting-, to note that on 6th April, 1961, the Melbourne “ Herald “, under the heading, “ Boost From New Jets “, reported that we would have 30 French Mirage fighters added to our Air Force in about twelve months. The Melbourne “ Age “ of 9th October, 1962, only a few days ago, stated that these aircraft were on order and that we would possibly have them in twelve months. Two years ago we talked about getting them. If the usual course is followed, in another twelve months we might be able to say that twelve months thereafter we shall get them. I just do not know when they are coming or of what consequence they will be when we get them. Delivery is so slow that I am afraid they will be obsolete when they arrive. We have on order for the Navy two guided missile destroyers and 27 helicopters. For the Air Force, apart from the 30 Mirage fighters, we have on order eight Bell helicopters and eight heavy-lift helicopters. We expect to get those at some time within the next three years.
One of the most difficult tasks will be to get the skilled man-power that will be required to keep in operational order even the equipment that we envisage. It will be recalled that just recently the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) indicated that he would try to obtain experienced, skilled tradesmen from overseas. For what it is worth, I should like to suggest to the Government that with a mechanized army such as we have to-day and all the other mechanical equipment that is required for modern warfare, we have an opportunity to do something about training apprentices. I understand that the Navy, the Army and the Air Force have workshops in which mechanical skill of all kinds is required.
I suggest that we shall be doing something not only for the defence of Australia but also for industry on the home front if, instead of taking in just a few boys to train as apprentices in various trades, we increase the number tenfold, releasing them from the workshops to industry after five years. We should do this, because we find it so difficult to get trained men that we have to import them. If these young men were released from the services as skilled tradesmen and put on the reserve, we would have a nucleus to expand if conditions became worse than they are to-day and we would not have to depend upon immigration for men to look after the necessary equipment.
It is not so many years ago - in fact, it was at the beginning of the Second World War - that we had the Light Horse Regiment, with blacksmiths, farriers and people in similar callings employed in the Army. Those days have gone, but, strange as it may seem, apparently we have not learned anything from the experience gained in 1939. To-day we are in much the same position as we were in then. Perhaps we can excuse ourselves for 1939 by saying that the depression had been upon us for many years and that we did not have money to spend on defence. In attempts to excuse what is happening now, honorable members on the Government side say that everything costs money. Money can be found when we are engaged in a hot war. Why can it not be found in peace-time if the security of your children and mine is at stake?
Apparently the honorable member who is interjecting now has not appreciated my suggestion in relation to training personnel so that we shall have skilled tradesmen in reserve. It has been claimed that we cannot develop our man-power potential because we have not the funds to do so. That was said also in 1939. Let us return to reality. Let us bear in mind that West New Guinea, which is only a matter of a few hours* flying time from the north of Australia, could become a definite threat to our security in the very near future. Let us appreciate that it is better to be prepared than to be sorry.
We have made some progress in recent times in the broad concept of our defence system, but it has taken us a long time to get started. We have merely nibbled at the cheese. We have been so niggardly that I do not know whether our great and powerful friends, of whom we hear so much, would be interested if it came to a showdown. If Japan had attacked, say, Western Australia instead of Pearl Harbour, what would have happened to us? The attack on Pearl Harbour might have been a good thing for us. Honorable members opposite are suggesting now that this is something that we should not talk about, but the fact remains that wc were very lucky that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour instead of Australia. When they did eventually attack Darwin, we tried to fight them off with training planes. Our flyers were merely gun fodder for the Japanese pilots, who had the most modern equipment. If a similar emergency arose to-day our Air Force would be in the same position as it was when Darwin was attacked. Perhaps we older people do not matter, but what about the young people who depend upon us?
– These estimates provide for an allocation for the purchase of Mirage fighters.
– The honorable member may make his suggestions when he is making his speech. Very important issues remain to be decided. There was some wisdom in the suggestion of, I think, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) that we should get together on this matter. For goodness sake, let us be practical. I beg the Government not to leave us in the same position as it left us in 1939. Do not leave us with a bow and arrow system of defence. Do not be like Thomas Hardy who said that he noticed everything afterwards. If to-morrow or the next day we were asked to defend Australia, would this Government notice things afterwards?
– I have just been reminded by one of my colleagues on the back benches that when I was a private member I objected strenuously during the debate on the Estimates to Ministers occupying too much of the time allotted for the debate. I shall take the hint and occupy as little time as I can. The honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren), the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) and other honorable members have referred to the Air Force. First, let me correct some of their statements. The honorable member for Cowper and the honorable member for Capricornia seemed to think that we have placed an order for only 30 Mirage fighters. Let me hasten to inform them that we have placed two orders which will give us a total of 60 fighters. The honorable member for Cowper gave the impression that we will receive only 30.
– How long will it be before we receive them?
– If you wait a moment I shall tell you. There were suggestions that the production of the planes is behind schedule. That is not correct. At present it is running to schedule and we expect to take delivery of the first fighter in France towards the end of the first half of next year. Unless there are any undue delays it will be flying perhaps this time next year. The schedule was announced a long time ago. We are certain, at any rate at present, that production is up to schedule, because we have a large team in France which is keeping an eye on the project.
Apparently the honorable member is not au fait with the position. He wondered of what consequence the Mirage fighters would be when we received them. I can assure him that without doubt the Mirage is the best fighter aircraft being produced anywhere in the world. It is a very high performance aircraft. When the Mirages go into service with the Royal Australian Air Force, which will be ahead of the time they go into service with the French Air Force, they will be outstanding. The aircraft we are purchasing will not be fitted with the rocket motor, but there is provision to fit it. If at any time in the future we desire to increase the aircraft’s performance, we shall be able to fit a rocket motor at relatively low cost.
Another suggestion of the honorable member, which I could not understand, related to the training of apprentices. For very many years all the services have been training their own apprentices in large numbers. If the honorable member would like to come to Wagga with me on 14th December next, he can attend the passing out parade at which I shall be taking the salute. The first base that I visited as a Minister was Wagga. I saw the marvellous work being done there. The apprentices gave me a demonstration of stripping jets and putting them together again.
The whole point about our defence, as was mentioned by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) and, I think, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), is that we must provide the utmost defence that we can, having regard to our financial and physical resources. I am glad that honorable members opposite on this occasion, probably for the first time, have criticized the Government for not spending enough on defence. I have been in this place for nearly thirteen years and my recollection is that if any Opposition member asks for something he always tells the Government that the money to pay for it can be taken out of the defence vote. Thank goodness, at least some honorable members opposite are claiming now that we should spend more on defence. The defence vote, which incidentally has been increased this year, is divided between the three services. We must prepare a list of priorities based on the strategic appreciation of what is required of the forces. This takes into account where our forces are likely to be used and the planning that is undertaken in conjunction withour allies in the Seato, Anzus and Anzum pacts, in the United Kingdom and in other places. All of us would like to have the best possible equipped Air Force, but there is a limit to what we can do. One of the great difficulties is the speed at which aircraft become obsolete or obsolescent. Only ten years ago we introduced the Sabre, and at the time it went into squadron service it was, I think, the fastest fighter aircraft in the world. To-day it is obsolescent. I do not say that it is not still a good aircraft. It has many good uses, particularly in a ground-attack role. Even though we have fitted the Sabre with a sidewinder which has improved its performance, we are never theless at the stage where we must replace the Sabre in order to get a more modern supersonic fighter.
That is the case with almost every piece of equipment in any Air Force. The moment you start producing an aeroplane it commences to become obsolete because someone else has a newer design on paper. Your design is not improving and in no time the newer designed aircraft comes out. It is a big improvement, and so your aircraft becomes obsolete. Let us look at the Royal Australian Air Force and consider how it is to be equipped. I think we have nothing to be ashamed of. We have at present the best transport aircraft in the world in the Hercules CI 30. I do not think anyone would deny that.
– It is the only transport we have.
– lt is very useful too. These aircraft have carried thousands of tons to the Far East on logistic support for our aircraft which are already up north. If the honorable member will allow me to complete what I am saying, I will show that these are not the only transport aircraft that we have. Again I would say, without the slightest shadow of a doubt, that in the anti-submarine field we have, in the Neptune P2V7, the finest aeroplane in the world. With the latest equipment we have had remarkable results in picking up submarines during practice. I understand that these aircraft can reach a submarine and pick it up at a range of 30 miles. There is no doubt whatsoever that in these two fields we have aeroplanes which are unsurpassed in the world.
I have already mentioned the Mirage which is about to come into service. It will not come into squadron service immediately because obviously it will take some time after we take delivery before it can be worked up into squadron service. We are just taking delivery of our first helicopters. I understand that the first Bell HUIB arrived in Sydney to-day and will be coming to Canberra, probably on Monday, to commence the formation of the new No. 9 Helicopter Squadron which is to be stationed here. We have, as honorable members know, the Bristol Bloodhound, which is a very good ground-to-air guided weapon. It is situated at Williamtown at present and is being worked up there. Of course, we have the control and report units, and we have other large expenses in the 0 preparation of aerodromes and the like. It is a case of how we can make the best available use of the finance that is allotted to us. The Air Force was allotted £67,000,000, and within that sum it has to decide what is its greatest priority. Its first priority, as I said, was to increase the number of fighters from 30 to 60.
Then you have to decide what it is you want. Everyone wants the best aircraft in each field. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) mentioned the necessity for transport for the Army. In order to get additional transport for the Army we have gone in partly for helicopters, and we have announced that within the next threeyear period we will be purchasing shorttakeoff -and-land ing aircraft. We hope to purchase one of the Caribou style, which will carry a considerable load for the Army. As I have said our first eight helicopters will arrive shortly; and we have placed a second order for eight medium helicopters.
– What about the Canberra bomber?
– If the honorable member will wait a moment I will come to that. He need not be so impatient. We have announced the heavy-lift helicopter in this three-year plan. That will be of the Vertol type. I understand that the team is just about to leave to go abroad to select the type of helicopter that is required. The honorable member for Wilmot asked me about the Canberra bomber. As I have said, with the amount of money that is available you cannot have everything in first-class order. There is no doubt in my mind that the Canberra is the weakest link in our armoury at the present moment. But let us not think that it is a poor aircraft. Within certain limits it is still a good aircraft. In fact it is operational still in the United States of America Air Force, and in the Royal Air Force.
The United States of America Air Force it fitting some small modifications to its Canberras so they will continue to be operational for the next three years. If I may hazard a guess, I would say that the Canberra will continue to be operational for many of the small air forces for a very long time. I do not know how many honorable members heard the speech of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) to-day. He put the case, I think, particularly well. He said that you can obtain only one suitable type of aircraft that is available to-day. No one would deny that they are very much better aircraft than the Canberra, but they are available, as every one knows, at tremendous cost. I might mention that just two squadrons of the A3J cost £73,000,000. Even if that cost is spread over some years it is fairly difficult to work into a tight budget. If you go for the Hustler the cost, of course, would be one-third as large again as the cost of the A3J.
The honorable member for Wentworth, who was Minister for Air longer than I have been, said that there was no doubt that at the present time neither of these two aircraft, good as they are, comply with all the necessary specifications and requirements of the air force. On the other hand there are on the drawing boards - and not so far from flying - aircraft which I would think would be considerably better. Honorable members have heard of the TSR2 which is being produced by the British Aircraft Corporation and which will be flying next year. It is an aircraft which appears at the present moment to have outstanding qualifications. The Americans have an aircraft known as the TFX. We do not know whether it will come to fruition or not. At the present time it is only on paper. I understand that nowadays you do not make a design. You make what is known as a feasibility design to see if the design is feasible. I understand that this aircraft is at the stage of the feasibility design, but we know that once the Americans decide to go into the manufacture of this aircraft they will produce a first-class aircraft, particularly if they adopt the air force specifications. I understand that the navy is trying to make them cut it down in weight and range.
There are other aircraft. There is the Mirage IV. which we do not think would give us the range we need, and the McDonnel Phantom which is being reengined with Rolls-Royce Spey engines to give it added performance. It might come up to our specifications. I mention these things to show that the air force is watching developments the whole time. The Minister for Defence said that this is not a static programme and that we will keep it constantly under review. If the time comes when we decide that there is a suitable aircraft available for us in this field we will undoubtedly go ahead and get it.
There is only one other point I would like to make. So many honorable members opposite have quoted the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ as if it were their bible. I must say it seems rather remarkable, when one thinks back to the old days and remembers how honorable members opposite used to run that newspaper down, to find them now quoting anything that appears in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ as gospel. Recently there has been a series of articles on defence in that newspaper, and as it has been referred to by very many honorable members I should like to make a few comments about it. While I think some of them have been objective, it is a pity that the author has ruined his articles by some complete inaccuracies. An article appeared on Friday headed, “ R.A.A.F. And R.A.N. Are Ill-equipped For Defence “. The article commenced by saying that the Indonesian Air Force has the capacity to bomb any city in Australia. Frankly, I am staggered by a statement like that, and I went into the matter to see how anybody could make such an absurd and idiotic statement.
So far as I can work it out, the person responsible has taken the Badger aircraft - which every one admits is a very good new Russian aircraft - which has just been supplied to Indonesia. He has then said that the Badger has a range of 4,000 miles, and had the idea that if you get a compass and draw a segment of a circle with its centre in Indonesia and a radius of 4,000 miles you will see what areas can be bombed. But what he did not say was that this aircraft has a range of 4,000 miles only if it does not carry bombs. If it carries a reasonable load of bombs its range is reduced to 2,600 miles. This gives an effective operating circle with a radius of 1,300 miles unless you send the aircraft out on a Kamikaze no-return basis. On the other hand, of course, the author of the article may have thought that these aircraft could be refuelled in the air. Well, they could be refuelled in the air if the Indonesians had any means of refuelling them, but they have not. Even if they did, the aircraft would have to be refuelled over Australian territory. As I said, it is a pity that these articles have been ruined by statements which are quite inaccurate.
It is extraordinary that one finds in Australia people who will praise the equipment of any country outside Australia while running down our own equipment. The honorable member for Capricornia said that our Canberra aircraft could carry only a 4,000 lb. bomb load and fly only 700 miles with that bomb load. The truth is that Canberras can carry a 6,000-lb. load and if they fly at high level they have a range of 2,000 miles. If, on the other hand, they use the new technique of going out high and then coming in under the radar screen to go in to bomb, they can cover a total of 1,400 miles, which gives an effective operating radius of 700 miles. So I say that nothing is gained by trying to confuse people with inaccurate figures. We know that the Canberra is still, within certain limits, a very good aircraft.
I am sorry that I have overstepped my time, but I am glad to have had the opportunity to put these facts before the committee. Let us not forget that the Royal Australian Air Force is an excellent force. I think - in fact, it is not a case of thinking, because I know - that never before in peace-time has it been as efficient and well-equipped as it is to-day.
– That is not saying much.
– Well, if I had as little experience of these matters as the honorable member for Wilmot has, I would keep quiet when subjects as serious as this are being discussed. It is all very well to say that 1,000 people could capture Australia. I know that we have not got the best of equipment in all cases, but we have Sabres, for instance, and you can very quickly modify Sabres to carry bombs. A Sabre can carry a heavier bomb load than the Flying Fortress carried in the last war, and we have 96 Sabres. If the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden), who is interjecting, would like to be in the middle of a bombing raid carried out by 96 Sabres I can tell him that I certainly will not be with him. Let us not run this force down.
It is an excellent force and its morale is high. We know that there are, perhaps, some gaps in it that need to be filled, but it is still a very good force.
Mr. NELSON (Northern Territory) L8.55]. - I want to express the concern of the people of the Northern Territory, the people who live in the threatened area of Australia, at the lack of adequate defence establishments in that part of the country. I think we are entitled to express our regret and our concern, because we are the people who will be affected first in the event of hostilities. Our concern has been heightened recently by reports of clashes between Portuguese and Indonesian forces in the islands to the north of Australia. I know that the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) denied having received an official report of these clashes, but I believe that there is some basis of fact in the reports. If there were not, they would not have been disseminated.
We in the Northern Territory are very sensitive to hostile developments because of our experience of war. As every one knows, we have had first-hand experience of it within the last twenty years. We were blasted out of our homes on one occasion and we do not want that to happen again. We all know of recent happenings in New Guinea. We know that there is a troubled atmosphere in that part of the world, and if the Indonesians and the Portuguese clash we would have another problem right on our doorstep. We know that we would be involved in some shape or form, either directly or indirectly, because of the treaty of friendship between the United Kingdom and the Portuguese nation. That treaty has been long established, and Australia would be involved in some way if clashes occurred between the Indonesians and the Portuguese. We are sensitive, therefore, to happenings in that part of the world, and we make no apologies for it.
I want to quote a section of the speech on defence delivered in this Parliament recently by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley). The Minister said -
The defence of this area in present strategic circumstances is provided by the nucleus forces stationed there, the maintenance of strategic bases, and the mobility of our forces, which could be moved quickly to reinforce the area in the event of emergency and, indeed, to any other area where a threat might develop.
Where are these strategic bases, Mr. Temporary Chairman? There is one at Learmonth and one at Pearce in Western Australia. Then we go east from Darwin and we find bases at Townsville, Williamtown and a few places on the east coast of Australia. But the nearest of these bases to Darwin is about 1,500 miles away. It is about that distance from Darwin to either Townsville or Learmonth. Portuguese Timor is only 400 miles from Darwin. We experience some concern when we hear people talking about mobile forces being able to move rapidly from one spot to another particularly when we remember all the ancillary facilities that must go with a defence force. We contend that by the time the forces got off the ground in Townsville or Learmonth Darwin would again be a mass of ashes, as it was in the past.
It is not good enough. The Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn) has just told us about the new French aeroplanes that are on order. It appears that 60 of them will be delivered by the end of 1964. But these are not ail front-line planes. Some of them must be kept in reserve, so how many will be left as combat planes? The Minister has said that we have a number of Sabres, but these are obsolete or obsolescent. If we are attacked the attack will be made with firstclass planes, not planes that are obsolete or obsolescent. The attackers will have the best of everything, and I would say that within a matter of an hour or so it would all be over.
In Darwin itself we have built up a base on the site of the old1 base that was blasted by the Japanese in the last war. We queried the wisdom of building up the base on that site, but it has been done and it cannot now be undone. But we query the wisdom of building that air-field because it is less than two miles from the sea. It is vulnerable not only to attack from the air but also to attack by submarines. Here again, although the Minister has said that a new air-field is to be constructed in the north of Australia, I remind him that such an air-field has been mooted for some years. I do not know when it will actually be built. In any case, it cannot be constructed for a year or two yet.
In the meantime, the wartime air strips which served the north in the Second
World War have disintegrated. Very few of them are serviceable now. In fact, 1 Would say that none of them is serviceable for first-class modern aircraft. Certainly, a few of them have received attention recently and the bottles and branches have been swept off them; but if an aircraft landed there - and one could land in an emergency - it could not get off again because there are no service facilities. Actually, there are no service facilities for aircraft outside Darwin. You have to go to Daly Waters or to Alice Springs before you can get the barest service requirements such as petrol and oil. What about armaments and other requirements that a firstclass airport must have? I do not believe that they can be brought from other places in an hour or two. It is impossible to get them quickly from Townsville, Williamtown or Cook in Western Australia. It would be all over before it started. That is why we say that something more should be done in the north of Australia.
It is not only a matter of defence of the north. If the Government does not meet its responsibilities and encourage people to settle in that part of northern Australia as a defence measure, it must defend the area with guns, and that is the position that exists to-day. We ask for more defence establishments in the north and not only establishments for the Royal Australian Air Force. There is only one aircraft in the north at present and it could not defend itself. It is a sea rescue aeroplane that goes out in the event of a crash. Certainly exercises are held from time to time in the Northern Territory but that is not good enough. We want some permanent establishments there and not only an air force establishment. We want a naval establishment and army facilities as well. We need all those things that make up a defence establishment in the north to guarantee, as far as we can, the security of the north and of Australia as a whole.
.- I always respect the opinions that are offered by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) because I believe that when he rises in this chamber he says what he honestly believes. But I would like him to go to Western Australia and talk about the deficiencies in the defence of the Northern Territory. I would like to see the reception he received from the Western Australian press if he said that the Northern Territory was under-defended at the expense of the western part of Australia. If the honorable member ever goes to the sunshine State, I invite him to make a public statement about how fortunate Western Australia is in respect of defence.
But what we have to realize - and most honorable members do except when they are playing politics - is that Australia with 10,000,000 people is so vast that not even the wealth of the UrnitedStates of America could provide adequate defence for Australia if we use the term “ adequate “ as it is used by honorable members on both sides of the House. Perhaps the only way to defend Australia adequately from any possible type of attack would be to have a strategic air command many times the size of the United States Strategic Air Command and the British and Royal Australian Air Force bomber forces combined. It would be necessary to have a navy bigger than all the navies of the world and armed land forces bigger than all the armies in the world. That is not illogical or exaggerated in relation to our coastline and our total land area. If we talk about adequately defending Australia, it means defending this country against any type of intrusion. Quite obviously it is ridiculous to suggest that that could be done.
Whenever we discuss the defence estimates, honorable members on both sides of the chamber express views as to what should be done for the defence of Australia. To-morrow probably several views will be reported in the Australian newspapers. I am certain that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), who is extremely well qualified to speak on this matter, will not receive much space in the newspapers because he has expressed some satisfaction with what is being done by this Government for the defence of Australia. But some members will get headlines. We all know that it is easy to get a headline if you rise in this place and say that the Government has been lacking in its attitude to defence and has left Australia defenceless. It is a stupid argument as can be seen if one compares Australia’s defence effort with what is done elsewhere. If honorable members are honest, they will admit that the Government has done a worthwhile job in defence.
– Not for the money the Government has spent.
– We often hear that argument that the Government is wasting money on defence. I sincerely hope we will continue to do so.
– The Government is only just starting to come good.
– You are under a disillusion. You think that because the Government has a majority of only one you might get into power. Therefore, you have to change your tune and say, “The Government is just starting to come good “. If you get into power you will say, “ I told you so; we have continued the good work “. Be honest! Every penny that is spent on defence and is not for offence is wasted money. If a man insures his house against fire and he does not have a fire, the money he spent on insurance is wasted. It is a good thing if we pass this vote for defence year after year and say, “This is another £200,000,000 we are going to waste “, because this means that we have not wasted the most precious thing in Australia - human life on a grand scale.
Most people, if they study this matter in the right light, will say that we can be proud of what we have done in Australia. Let us compare Australia with New York. The population of the city of New York is almost the same as the population of Australia. I suppose New York is not in the pauper class as cities go; but if the city of New York set out to provide for its own defences, I doubt whether it could do what we have done. Let us consider the airfields, which are not built for nothing. Consider the man-power, barracks and services for the armed forces. All that we have done has been achieved by a nation of 10,000,000 people who have gladly subscribed the money in taxes year after year. Wc can be proud of Australia’s defence forces.
One of the worst things that the Opposition could do would be to try to convince the world that Australia is powerless to act, or that it is not doing its bit for the defence of the western hemisphere. In the light of all the other things we have had to do, we have strained our resources to the utmost to contribute to those defences. Nobody in this Parliament can predict accurately what Australia’s defence forces will be called upon to do because there is not one person in this Parliament, from the highest to the lowest, who will be in a position to declare waT. We of the western democracies are the ones who have to build up our defence forces, as distinct from offensive forces. If we were the ones to declare war on somebody else, the Opposition would be entitled to say where we were lacking and what we were not doing. It is easy for somebody without an ounce of responsibility in government to say, “ You have only 60 Mirage aircraft. You should have 100 “. Each Mirage costs only £1,500,000! To some honorable members, that may not be much money.
– You ought to have ten times as many.
– Admittedly we should have ten times the present number of fast anti-submarine fiigates; ten times the present number of anti-submarine aircraft and ten times the present number of Special Air Service men. But what we have to do is look at the resources of this nation and see what we can afford to do. The development of this country is just as good a defensive weapon as anything else. The debate on the Estimates began with a consideration of the estimates for the Parliament. Then the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department and other departments were considered. In almost every speech that has been made from both sides of the chamber, the honorable member concerned has been reported in the press as having put forward a splendid idea. The idea might cost only £1,000,000, and in a Budget of £1.000,000.000 what does that matte-? But if that £1,000,000 were multiplied by 124, the number of members of this House, the cost of implementing these suggestions would be about fifty times the amount of the Budget we started with.
In framing priorities, the Minister for Defence and the service ministers report to the Cabinet. I believe that they did a very worthwhile job for Australia’s defence.
– It is not enough.
– I am very pleased to hear the honorable member say that. It is good to hear that said by a member of the Opposition. I hope that lone voice will ring out again. Obviously there can never be too much done, but we are satisfied that we are doing a considerable amount in this country for our defence. In 1914 it was said that Britain was extremely well prepared for the Boer War.
– That was the Zulu War!
– One feature about speaking in this chamber is that you do not have to finish a speech. There is always a bright boy to finish it for you. In 1939 it was said that Britain was well prepared for the 1914-18 war. Some of the arguments I have heard here to-day make me believe that there are some honorable members who would like us to be well prepared for the 1939 war.
– That is your object.
– There spoke the greatest military authority of all time. The honorable member for Grayndler makes Liddell Hart look like an amateur, but he has not joined even the Salvation Army. You do not need any qualifications in this chamber to be registered as an expert. If you have walked past a military pa-ade, you are then an expert on defence. Having looked at the parade and studied it, you can get up in this chamber and say that the Government should spend another £100,000,000.
– I will say it also.
– That is magnificent. There are experts in this country whose full-time job is to study the strategic situation, work out what will possibly happen to the Australian forces, and then plan accordingly, but honorable members need no qualifications to criticize those experts. If they have served in the Army for three months as a cook’s assistant, they consider that they have all the necessary qualifications to decide whether we should have certain types of tanks and so on. All I can say is: Thank goodness that the Australian forces are still dependent upon the advice of experts, followed by a Cabinet appraisal of the situation. After all, the Cabinet
Ministers have the responsibility for the financial affairs of the nation.
Instead of getting up one after the other and saying that we want certain things to be done, we should try to convince the newspapers of this country - some of them in particular - that they should write a few articles in praise of what has been done. I believe that the members of the services to-day are as good as or better than the servicemen who manned the Australian defence forces previously. Instead of playing into the hands of the enemy, if we have one, and saying how weak we are and how useless are our weapons-
– Do not kid yourself that they do not know.
– I am particularly proud of the Australian serviceman. I think he is as good as you were as a serviceman. He will answer any call made on him.
– I would like him to have better equipment than I had last time.
– Strangely enough he has got it. One honorable member opposite said that members of the Opposition had less opportunity than members on this side of the chamber to study Australia’s defence set-up. That is ridiculous. What has happened is that honorable members opposite have not grasped the opportunities they have been given. They have not been denied anything that has been given to honorable members on this side. I suspect that they do not know what is happening only because they have not taken the trouble to find out. Instead, they spend their time worrying about education, which is not a responsibility of this Parliament. If they looked after their own responsibilities, they would not be so critical. For too long have the Australian forces suffered from a surfeit of armchair generals. It is about time we started to believe in those whose task it is to advise the Government on the job to be done. The real enemy of Australia is not the supposed or imagined outside aggressor, but the person who attempts to destroy the morale of the Australian people. Honorable members may recall that back in 1940 the only thing that stood between Britain and annihilation by Hitler was the morale of the British people.
– What did your Government do?
– I suggest that the honorable member go into the history of that. When John Curtin took over he said that the defences of Australia had never been in better shape. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) interjects to say that he does not believe that, but he does not believe anything. What surprises me is that, for the first time in his life, he has understood something. I would say that there are many honorable members opposite who are interested in the defence of Australia and the security of Australia. They should spend a little more time studying the facts and should avoid looking at isolated cases and using them to gain political advantage in this debate. If they look at the facts honestly and truthfully, I am sure they will be convinced, as we on this side of the chamber are, that there is nothing of which this Government should be ashamed in what it has done for the defence of Australia.
.- Mr. Chairman, the Labour Party has issued a serious challenge to-day to the Government in the debate on these estimates. It has issued a challenge on organization, equipment, weapons and basic industrial policy. That challenge remains unanswered. We had an admission to-night by the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn) that one of the main points of criticism by the Labour Opposition, concerning the Canberra bomber, was in effect correct. He admitted that the Canberra bomber had not sufficient range to enable Australia to strike effectively if it were attacked from the north. He admitted that although the bombers possessed by other countries could reach Australian shores, we could not strike back. I should like to cite a statement from the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, in which it was said that the Royal Australian Air Force is to be left without a front-line bomber. That is undoubtedly the case to-day, so far as the Canberra bomber is concerned. Even to-day, with the so-called re-thinking that is going on, honorable members opposite have not brought forward any submissions to this committee that would provide for the adequate defence of Australia, particularly so far as the Air Force is concerned.
Much of the expected drama of this debate has not eventuated. Rumours were floating round the lobbies that there would be a rebellion of Government back-bench members, led by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), but, of course, that has not eventuated. From the rumours, we expected drastic action to be taken by the Government back-bench members during this debate - action which would have created an exciting situation. However, they have apparently abdicated or have been controlled by their masters.
The Australian Labour Party policy provides for the utmost effort in the defence of Australia and for the fulfilment of our responsibilities in regard to police force activities required by the United Nations. That policy has been endorsed by successive federal conferences of the Australian Labour Party and is the very same policy which has been advocated by member after member of the party in this chamber to-day. In this regard, I think we can point to a good record. We point to the record we established during the war years when Labour had to be called to the treasury bench to prosecute Australia’s war effort. The previous Menzies Government had abdicated its responsibilities. When Labour came to office there was a very serious shortage of much-needed equipment and technical supplies. We found there was such a thing as the Brisbane line. Accordingly, Labour was faced with the need to prosecute the war effort. There followed the great era of the Curtin and Chifley Governments, which the people endorsed throughout the war years in Australia’s time of need. That is a record which Labour may proudly place before the people of Australia. It must be realized that when this country has been faced with a period of crisis, in every instance the people have turned to Labour. No doubt, if a crisis occurred to-morrow, they would again turn to Labour.
One of the main items of our criticism of the Government’s defence policy is based on its concept of strategy. It is obvious that emphasis has not been placed on the need for self-sufficiency in defence measures. On the contrary, the Government’s strategic concept assumes that our forces will be part of international forces which are supported by our powerful allies. I think we all sincerely hope that if we ever have to defend ourselves again we will be supported by our powerful allies. But we cannot simply assume that that support will be forthcoming. There could be a localized conflict which involved us and in which some of our powerful allies might not be prepared to join. Alternatively, we might find that they were not in a position, owing to other commitments, to assist us. For that reason, we must ensure that our strategy is based on the concept of self-sufficiency. The Government has made no attempt to provide for selfsufficiency, and that is one of the main grounds for our attack on its defence policy.
The policy of the Government does not provide for the adequate defence of northern Australia, a matter that was mentioned by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). It was very pleasing indeed to hear him bring forword the important points that he made in that connexion. We must have selfsufficiency in our defences because it might happen that in a localized conflict we could not depend on our friends. The Labour Party believes that the specifications for such self-sufficiency include a force which is able to operate anywhere in Australia and in various places at the same time; that is to say, a force which has a flexible organization. We believe that the Government must maintain the framework of the Citizen Military Forces to provide an expandable man-power base for our forces. We must also ensure that our Navy is based on a mobile light force which can be used at various points at once.
– Like our tanks.
– From what I hear of them, the tanks are a little heavy to move. As to the Air Force, we believe that the defence strategy adopted by the Government, so far as bombers are concerned, is based on European viewpoints and types of warfare. The Canberra bomber may be a suitable bomber for use in Europe, where distances are not as great as they are in the Pacific area, but a country like Australia must have long-range bombers. It is almost impossible to understand why the Government should have decided to acquire any other type. To-day. the Canberra bo…bers are completely out of date and are not in conformity with the needs of Australian defence, particularly having regard to the long distances which must be covered in the South Pacific area.
The Labour Party also believes that there should be a balanced defence policy. When we consider defence policy we should not think merely of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force. There must be a basic economic content in the policy. It is essential for the proper defence of Australia to marshal all the country’s economic resources. Far more attention should be paid to the question of communications, roads, railways, the standardization of rail gauges, and so on, than has been paid to it by the Government. We believe that the Government is continuing in its defence policy its laisser-faire economic policy, the policy of: “ Let things run. Let them take their course - and let us hope they work out in the end.” The Government is not prepared to marshal our economic resources, and accordingly, it is doing great damage to Australia’s defence effort.
When we consider defence measures we must also consider the training of technicians and the serious problem posed by the shortage of apprentices. This is not just an industrial problem; it is a basic defence problem of Australia to-day. The main reason why we are short of technicians is that the wages policy of this Government does not allow a sufficient margin for skill. Until such time as there is an adequate margin for skill there will be a shortage of apprentices, of young men who are prepared to set aside a large part of their lives to train for a future. At present, they are able to earn almost the same money without undertaking from three to five years’ training. It is essential to look at these economic factors when we consider defence policy. The improvement of our road and rail systems and the training of apprentices and technicians are part and parcel of defence policy. Labour criticizes the policy of the Government because of its laisser-faire attitude to those matters and its failure- to marshal our economic resources for the development of the country and the maintenance of its security. There is need for a great deal of re-thinking in relation to defence. The Government must be prepared to drop its conservative outlook and to realize that in the very near future Australia may be placed in a serious situation in which the marshalling of defence forces and economic forces is essential. We need a less conservative outlook on the Government benches. We on this side of the chamber believe that Australia is now passing through what is possibly the most vital period in its history. If we are to achieve our rightful destiny more vital and dynamic policies for the defence of this continent must be instituted.
. Mr. Chairman, I feel that what I have to say will be unpopular on both sides of the chamber. Nevertheless, it must be said, because defence should never be a subject for the playing of party politics in order to win votes. If this is true in general, it is surely true against the sombre or, perhaps, in one sense, lurid background of the events of the last few days.
A government must, of course, have defence policies. But a mere physical defence policy is not, in itself, enough. A government must have other policies - on economic aid, for instance - as well as an effective defence policy. In the present circumstances, the world must come quickly to world government, and the idea of national sovereignty must, if necessary, be put into the discard. But, for this, we need disarmament with inspection, and so far there is no chance of our getting that. And yet it must come if we are to survive.
But, in the transition period, we need to have strength, for two reasons. First, we need it so that we ourselves may be among those who survive the transition period. Secondly, we in common with all men of goodwill need strength so that from this transition period there may issue a free and just world and not the kind of slave world which our Communist enemies would try to create.
Having said that, Sir, let me say that I consider that the Government’s defence plans for the next three years are quite inadequate. I would vote against them if there were any alternative government, but unfortunately there is not. Honorable members opposite have made great play with what they describe as the facts of 1940 and 1941. Perhaps they will forgive me if I lay the facts on the line for them. In the years before the outbreak of war in 1939, our defence preparations were miserably insufficient. I say this as one who was concerned in trying, to the best of my ability, to have our defence expenditure raised before the war broke out. One of the reasons why the government of the day was too timid to do the right thing was that the Opposition of that time raised its voice in indignant protest, as one can see by examining “ Hansard “, at any mention of increased defence expenditure. Perhaps the government of that day was wrong in allowing itself to be intimidated by those who were then in opposition, but those who composed the Opposition of that time should be ashamed of themselves. They should be far more ashamed of what happened in 1939 and 1940 than of anything else.
It will be remembered that at the outbreak of the war Hitler and Stalin were allies. The pro-Communist elements of the Opposition of that time set out to obstruct the war effort by every means in their power, and they co-operated with Communist traitors in so doing. I am not trying to blame all who were then in opposition. The Opposition of that day was divided on this issue, just as the Opposition of to-day is divided.
– On what issue?
– On the issue of communism and how it should be met. In 1939 and 1940 the Menzies Government found itself shackled by the Communists and their allies in the left-wing of the Australian Labour Party. These are the facts. To-day we see that party again divided on defence and on the issue of communism, as is demonstrated by what we hear from its members in this place. This was made clear enough at question-time to-day, when there appeared a sharp contrast between the words used by the leader of the Labour Party yesterday and the attitude of other members of the party as demonstrated by their behaviour to-day. This showed clearly enough what the divisions in the Labour Party are. That party is not an alternative government.
By the time the Curtin Government came to office in 1941, Hitler had turned on his ally, Stalin, and attacked him. So the Communists were on our side and the Curtin Government was not hampered by Communist obstruction in its conduct of the war effort. This was only because the Communists and ourselves were then fighting on the same side. When one talks about defence forces, one talks about a future conflict. Is it thought for one moment that the Communists and ourselves would be on the same side in any future conflict? Surely it is not. In these circumstances it is impossible for us to entrust the government of Australia to the present divided Opposition, part of which is loyal and part of which is pro-Communist.
Having said those things which, I think, will be unpopular with the Opposition but which are true, I shall now say some of the things which I think will be unpopular with the Government but which also, I think, are true. Frankly, the appreciation of defence needs, as stated in the last two or three plans announced, has failed us. We have not at present the forces which we need in the strategic situation which has emerged. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) was quite right when he said that defence forces cannot be expanded quickly and that it will be a long time before we are able to meet the demands of the current situation. This is proof of the failure of the policies adopted in the past. To-day we have the possibility of nuclear war. This has been mentioned by the highest authority overseas. We have the possibility of the isolation of Australia. Any man of common sense knows this. We no longer have undisputed control of the waters to our north. This is one of the facts of life.
Since 1951 there has been a reduction in defence expenditure. In terms of purchasing power in 1961, in the decade since 1951 our expenditure has fallen from about £31 a head to about £19 a head. This is a terrible decline. The three-year plan put before us yesterday provides for a progressive increase in defence expenditure to about £220,000,000 in 1964-65. However, taking into account the prospective growth of the population we are sticking at an expenditure of about £19 a head. There is no real increase in per capita expenditure. Whom does the Government think it is fooling? It is perfectly true that the Government admits that there is some flexibility in these plans. But, if there is flexibility, why is nothing flexible being done in the present crisis? Why have we not provision for the increased expenditure which we need? When we consider the likely growth in the population the increased defence expenditure projected by the Minister represents almost precisely nothing. This is not good enough for a three-year defence plan in the present circumstances.
As I have said, I consider that the Minister was correct when he said that defence forces cannot be expanded very quickly. Bearing in mind the kind of expenditure which our allies in Britain, Canada, the United States of America and France are sustaining, one would hope that Australia’s defence expenditure would total at least £225,000,000 this financial year, £300,000,000 next financial year and £375,000,000 the year after. Nothing less seems realistic. The Minister taps the table with his pencil and appears almost to shrug his shoulders. If he thinks that these figures are fantastic and outrageous let him think of the facts of life and death and of the facts of war. It is not right to expose Australia to the dangers to which she is being exposed by reason of the miserable, insufficient plans which the Government is putting forward. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) said: “Why say these things? Why break down morale? “ I do not yield to him in my admiration of the Australian forces or their efficiency, but I do say that we cannot be silent about these things if the price of silence is to allow the Government to proceed on the defence primrose path on which it has been proceeding during the last ten or twelve years.
It is not my purpose to go into details a* this moment. In the few minutes left to me that would not be possible, and, further, these matters of detail obviously carnot be discussed intelligently without reference to the official papers, which it >s only right and proper should be kept secret. The honorable member for Perth also said, “ What about leaving these things to our generals, our admirals and our air vice-marshals? “
I wish I could be certain that the advice tendered by the senior officers to Cabinet had always been accepted. I am inclined to think - I use no stronger words than that - that it has not been. After all, it is not the business of even the best chiefs of staff to evaluate the overall situation in international policy, and it is here that the change has taken place. It is this thing which is squarely our responsibility.
I deplore the tendency that has existed in some quarters, both inside and outside this place, to say, “You must arm against Indonesia” I do not believe that is the crux of the matter at all. After all, Indonesia is not yet at any rate - I hope she never will be - a Communist country. Indonesia itself, if it is not a Communist country, which we hope it will not be, may need us as an ally, to protect herself against the Communist thrust coming down from the north which gets to her before it gets to Australia. Do not let us forget also that in our plans we must do those things which help and strengthen the hands of the very real anti-Communist forces in Indonesia itself.
I believe that this question of added expenditure on defence cannot wait. There is no point in putting these matters into the hands of an alternative government, riddled as the Labour Party is with Communist sympathies in its outlook, both inside and outside this chamber. We must get the change from within the government parties. What the Government is doing or not doing at this moment is inadequate for the safety of Australia. The Government is letting Australia down. What are we waiting for? If this review is necessary, why has not this three-year plan been stepped up already in response to the events of the last few days? We have not unlimited time. The Minister is right when he says you cannot do everything quickly, but he draws attention to the limitations-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I was interested in the comments of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) because I understood there was no disagreement in the Government’s ranks on policy. To-night we have heard a damning indictment of the Government’s policy by the honorable member for Mackellar in complete opposition to the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) who had said a few minutes earlier that we were falsely criticizing the Government. How does the honorable member for Mackellar justify supporting and voting for this Government’s policy when to-night he condemned it out of hand and said the Government is not accepting the advice of the chiefs of staff? In every way his indictment to-night was one that, in normal circumstances, would call for the resignition of the Government at this critical time.
It is interesting to note that the honorable member for Mackellars views are shared by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and others. He said to-night in this chamber that the Government’s defence effort had failed. He said also that in effect we were in the same position as in 1939. After just on thirteen years of this Government’s defence effort, less than ever is being done in the defence of the country!
Let us look at the honorable member for Mackellar. One thing we can say about him is that he is an outspoken critic, but I have never seen him vote as he should on these issues. The test of his criticism will come to-night. When the vote on these estimates is taken, he should vote with the Opposition, but he knows that in no circumstances would he be in the ranks of the Government if he followed that policy. I am one on this side who objects to the charge that the Labour Party is allied with the Communist Party. The true facts of the matter are that the Labour Party believes in the adequate defence of this country. It believes in sufficient defence to maintain and preserve our nation. In every way the Labour Party has given leadership to this country in its defence effort from time to time.
The honorable member for Mackellar pointed to the differing policies which he said we in the Labour Party had on various issues. It is true that we are a militant, progressive party, and in our ranks we have wide scope for differences of opinion. We have provision for the views of those who may want to move faster than or differently from their colleagues on some particular matters. We have accepted these things. We have given great defence leaders and Prime Ministers to Australia with all these differing and varying points of view, working unitedly together in the interests of the great majority of the Australian people. The honorable member who sits opposite tells us that on any issue he has the right to vote against the Government, because it is said a member of the Liberal Party can vote as he thinks fit in this House. We are told that there will be no criticism of that. We have been informed that a member of the Liberal Party is entitled to vote as he thinks fit. We understand that there will be no victimization of any member of the Liberal Party who wants to vote against the Government on any issue.
To-night the honorable member for Mackellar has his chance. He has condemned the defency policy of his Government. He is not bound by the party machine, as he says we on the Labour side are; so let him vote to-night for the people who say that the defence policy of the Government is not good. Let us see a little more of this Liberal thinking to-night. Let him stand with honorable members on this side in condemning the policies which he knows are a repetition of the policies of those ill-fated days of 1939.
Now let us see what the honorable member for Mackellar had to say on one occasion about the Prime Minister and his defence effort. He said this -
Mr, Menzies can neither call nor command as a leader. Under his leadership the Party broke up and yet he refuses to co-operate under the leadership of anybody else.
Those of us who stand for a more vigorous policy- of defence - are anxious that Mr. Menzies’ inevitable failures should not block the path of future progress.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for Mackellar. According to the honorable member for Mackellar, the Prime Minister is giving effect to those policies. To-night, the honorable member for Mackellar repeated the statement he made on 13th April, 1943, as published by that newspaper which was then the organ of the Liberal Party, the “Sydney Morning Herald”.
I listened to the honorable member for Perth who made a statement with relation to defence in this Parliament to-night. He said that the Government has done everything possible. He said also that we on this side have offered criticism which did not do any good. In effect, he said we were criticizing the personnel of the Australian Army and the Australian Navy. The Labour
Party joins in paying tribute to the skill and courage of the men of the armed forces.
Our criticism is levelled at the Government, as it was in those days when a previous government with the same politics as this sent men to Greece and New Guinea and other places defenceless. In many cases they had only half the guns required for the number of men who went. If war broke out to-day, the men of the defence forces who have been praised - and rightly so - by honorable members would be opposing the enemies of this country defenceless, as they were in those days. It took a Labour government to provide the defence forces with proper equipment. It took a Labour government to get the necessary machines and planes. The only real contributions made to the defence of this country, in war and in peace, have come from the people now on this side of the chamber.
Let me repeat that I resent the slurs that are cast on Opposition members when there are slight differences of opinion on great issues such as foreign affairs and defence. In these instances, Government supporters label us as Communists. This smear is used to endeavour to take the minds of the public off the disunity in the ranks of honorable members opposite and off the fact that their policy has failed. On defence and other matters, the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party are as wide apart as the poles. How can they achieve a unified defence effort when they cannot achieve a unified economic policy or a progressive developmental policy because they differ so widely on great issues? To-night, the honorable member for Chisholm is grim and determined and is in complete accord with what has been said by the honorable member for Mackellar. He knows that if he votes for this Government’s defence policy he will be false to the country that he loves so much. I suggest that he exercise the prerogative that members of the Liberal Party claim they possess. I suggest that he vote against the Government on this matter.
I think enough has been said already on this subject, but perhaps I might say that it is interesting to note that although some honorable members opposite are critical of the Government, their votes do not always accord with their statements of their principles. On great issues such as defence they have a responsibility. If they are sincere in what they say, they should vote in accordance with what they have said, and not put up sham fights. When we go to the electors and criticize the Government for its defence policy we shall be fortified by the knowledge that senior members of the Government parties have condemned that policy. It is a policy that could lead to a repetition of the events of 1939 and of the grim years that followed. A government which proved itself incompetent and unable to provide adequate defence for Australia in 1939-45 sent Australian servicemen to their doom in many cases. Those men were ill-equipped because of that government’s failure in defence. I welcome the opportunity to have made those few brief constructive comments on the approach of the Liberal Party to this matter.
.- I should like to enlighten the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) by telling him that both the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and I said that, unfortunately, there was no alternative. We have no intention of putting the government of this country into the hands of a party which is run by a minority of left-wingers. It is not much good jumping out of a leaking dinghy into the deep blue sea, even if you can swim, if the sea is full of maneating sharks such as there are in the Opposition.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Proposed Vote, £5,390,000.
Proposed Vote, £106,459,000.
Broadcasting and Television Services.
Proposed Vote, £14,120,000.
.- Mr. Chairman, I address myself to the proposed vote for television services. I do so in order to draw attention to the applications being made to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for third television licences in the capital cities. I believe that when the third television licences are duly allocated we shall see no additional Australian content in television programmes. I have something to say on this matter, which will be said in despair, although it may have a humorous content. Some little time ago, because of the great interest shown in the third television licences in the capital cities, I handed to Mr. Speaker an envelope which, I understand, he either lost or destroyed. Because of his high office, he ignored it as an attempt to forecast the future. Everybody know that nobody in politics can forecast the future. In this envelope was my prediction of the lucky people who would win the licences, which meant winning a fortune. No tags will be attached, stating how the Australian people shall be supplied with television programmes. I have not altered my original selections, which are in the hands of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), but I am now prepared, seeing that the Melbourne Cup will be run next month, to issue an order of favouritism to assist investors and the general public alike in the great race for what has been so aptly described as a licence to print banknotes.
For weeks, in the financial columns of public journals and elsewhere there has been discussion of this great opportunity to get television licences. I believe that already £500,000 has been spent in legal fees and other costs connected with the applications to get the third television licences. This must be the prize of all prizes in television, even excelling the value of the Melbourne Cup. I will issue an order of favoritism. Everybody knows what is going on, and I wish to debunk, if possible, the preposterous nonsense of a galaxy of legal men and others going solemnly, day by day, to the inquiry by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, when the thing is already cut and dried. This is my forecast of what will happen to the third television licence. It will be found that I am not very far wrong. With the average Australian’s love of a sporting risk, I am going to give my selections, and you can rest assured that they will be pretty close to the mark.
In Sydney the A.W.A. - Email - Bank of New South Wales group is the outright favorite. This combination is trained to the minute and is fighting fit. The most notable recent performance was the sale of A.T.N, shares, netting £500,000 for Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited and Email Limited. This was a colossal performance, and one cannot look beyond that group for the winner. The second favorite is the Sir James Kirby group in New South Wales, shaded by the A.W.A. - Email - Bank of New South Wales group. Given the right circumstances, the Sir James Kirby group could finish surprisingly well. It is known as the electronics group, but there is no suggestion, however, that it would use a battery to get first past the post, although the contest is hot enough for there to be some jostling towards the finish. The third group is the “ Mirror “ newspaper group. There is some doubt about the experience of the jockey here, and brilliant apprentices have rarely won this kind of event. Therefore, I think that my original selection should stand. Before I leave the Sydney field, which is a diverting one, 1 think I should say that the outsider is the curiously marked LabourLiberal application. This is a very awkward galloper and would be better off in the Nationalization Stakes.
In Melbourne the Richardson-Sell ick group is a shade of odds on, and I see that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) is prepared to put his money down. Melbourne always demands dignity and position in its candidates, and it certainly has it here. This group is known as the “Knights of the Round Table”. There would certainly be a lot of knights with red faces if they lost out in their application, but the whisper is that they cannot lose. In fact, they would have to fall down to lose. This application may be regarded as a horse beautifully bred by “ Pomp and Circumstance “ out of “ Cop-the-Lot “. How can it lose? It has practically everything, including the licence in the bag.
The second favorite is the Coles group. This group does not have as many knights as the favorite but it is liberally served with well-performed tycoons who are always dangerous in an event of this nature. They have the ability to sneak up on the rails. Their main asset is the capacity to share and share alike, particularly when putting in additional shares or watering their stock. The third group is the Warner group, which has come up in the betting and is nominal third favorite. However, this horse appears to have lost all form since it threw its rider rather heavily early in training. Further, although Labour figures in this application, I am perfectly satisfied, after analysing his form, that Sir Arthur is not used to the left-hand going.
In Adelaide the position is clear. The Sir Philip McBride group is at long odds-on. From the powerful Menzies stable, it knows every turn in the course. It is the No. 1 pick for a real good cop. It has performed well at the barrier. The control board is satisfied with its performance and you can say that this candidate’s number is in the frame. It is my No. 1 selection. The picture in Perth is rather confused. Big money from other States could make any of the contenders favorite over-night. The current favorite in Perth is the local newspaper group. It is not a good performer. Its pedigree - “ Old Programmes “ out of “ Replay “ - is not very impressive.
In Brisbane we have a colt with great prospects. Here we have a performer who has been around the track many times. Sir Arthur Fadden’s company is such a wellperformed candidate that no one in the northern city will hear of its defeat. Always a big money rider - remember the Hooker business - he has the skill and nerve to battle out a rough finish and keep his head in front. He is once again selected.
– What about my chances?
– Unfortunately our touts got caught in the rain and we will not have the final forecast until later. I understand that the horse my friend is backing stands a good chance of coming through. Several other candidates in all States have little chance. One man submitted an application saying that he would like to put on television Australian plays and employ Australian actors. He was driven out of court at once. He was told that he had no experience and no money. He was asked: “Who are the big boys behind you? What is your race form? “ He had none. He said: “ I thought that I would have a chance if I was prepared to give Australian people Australian films and to employ Australian actors. I thought I would be helping the economy.” The judges exclaimed, “ The ignorance of these people! “, and told the tipstaff not to let the man in again. Other people, equally daring, said that they were prepared to televise subjects of an educational nature, church services and worthwhile lectures. They did not hit the deck. This was another occasion on which the control board thought that they should be advised of the facts of life. The control board asked: “ How much money have you behind you? How many new shares can you buy? How much of a racket can you make out of TV.? It is childish to talk about Australian plays, Australian actors and church services. That may look all right in a prospectus, but when it comes down to tin tacks you must cough up or shut up.” They did not have the money so they went out.
Honorable members must excuse this humorous line; but the defects in Australian television must be highlighted in some way. Television in Australia is in a parlous plight. Since we have created the amenity of television - it has been an amenity and there have been some very good things in television - we must get rid of this rotten money complex. Everybody knows that unless you have unlimited cash, unlimited time, and influence with the Menzies Government, you will not get a licence, no matter how good you are. You may be a great producer or a great writer of scripts. You may have all the facilities for entertainment but this is not entertainment first; it is big business. Before you get down to providing television entertainment with a proper Australian content you must go through the hoops again. You must put on all the old Yankee films - all the old worn-out films which are known as adult westerns because they must be over 21 years of age. What a handicap the Australian has. I cannot be serious about this matter any more. I am stricken with laughter to think of what is going on. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) will puff out his cheeks like a death-adder and say, “ This is nonsense “ - that I am painting a picture. But no battling Australian company has a chance of getting into this racket. I refer the Minister to the Pilkington report in Britain and to the strictures placed on television in the United States of America. In both places television was found to be full of sex, old-fashioned drama, rackets and payola. It had to go through a cleansing period. When will the Minister, before his control board issues any more licences, have a good hard look at television and answer three questions. Is it Australian? Is it fit for every member of the family? ls it an insult to one’s intelligence? If the Minister will answer those three questions I will go quietly and never make another statement in this place about television.
But while there is a lack of drive, while the Minister is so weak and while the control board is so inept and completely carried away by the formulas of law and big business, you will not get good television in this country. You can never leave moral ethics and standards or tastes to the tycoons. Those matters must be handled through the Parliament and through those authorities that think more of their country than making money out of it. I would like the Minister to answer the questions that I have raised. He may not think that my form guide is absolutely accurate, but I will bc at the track with him on the morning when the licences are declared and I think I will be the one to collect. He will be the one who is sorry.
Although I have given a humorous slant to my remarks, it was the’ only way that I could drive home the situation to the Minister, whose sense of humour is not as strong as it should be, although he is very strong in other particulars. We must do something about television in this country. We should not have a climate in which people can come along and buy a licence. Look at the people seeking these additional licences - worthy bodies such as the Bank of New South Wales, the Email group and Sir Arthur Warner. They are fellows who have bled for this country - and bled it. They are the ones who will make a cop out of television. In this Parliament somebody should say that the present situation in television is disgusting. I say without fear of contradiction from my colleagues on this side of the chamber that the only way to deal with this problem is to put in control of programmes people who have the interests of Australia and Australians at heart not tycoons who attempt to make money out of television.
. Listeners no doubt will be able to judge the quality of the entertainment that they may expect if he is able to secure a permanent position with one of what we used to call the B class stations.
I direct the attention of honorable members to the Postmaster-General’s Department as being possibly the largest commercial undertaking in the southern hemisphere. Certainly it is a tremendous undertaking in any one’s view, and it is a department that has made steady but spectacular progress over the last decade or more. It is a department about which we may obtain financial details in a brochure that is produced and supplied to honorable members. It is a department some of the activities of which we are every day conscious of in our use of telephones and postal facilities, in listening to the radio and, in the case of the more fortunate, in viewing television. The tremendous advances that it has made, particularly in two sections, are well worth our consideration to-night. I refer to the telephone system, which is steadily increasing its scope, and television. The areas receiving television have been steadily enlarged and at the end of this phase, I understand, television programmes will be available to 75 per cent, of the people. It is claimed that at the end of the fourth stage 90 per cent, of the people of this vast continent will be able to view television.
People in the towns and cities may not be as aware of the progress of the telephone services as country people are. The main advance noticeable in the towns and cities is the number of extra connexions that have been made. In the country districts we notice mainly the growth of trunk lines. Every honorable member is refreshed from time to time - I might say almost weekly - to receive a notification of the installation of additional trunk lines, of the multiplication of trunk lines already operating and the joining of the lines into what one might call a grid throughout the country.
While this has been happening there has been a steady improvement of the exchanges. The old manual exchanges have been converted to central battery exchanges. In this system the exchange is called by lifting the receiver. Then there is the most advanced type, at this stage anyhow - the automatic exchange which enables the subscriber to dial the required number. In the past this could be done only within the exchange area, but now subscribers can dial through the local exchange to another exchange. As the scheme is extended they will be able to dial numbers in towns farther away, in cities within the State, then interstate and eventually overseas. I pay a tribute to the department, its technicians and officers for the tremendous progress that has been made in this field alone.
Those of us who live in country districts depend very much on the telephone. In the towns and cities a telephone is very convenient and may save a person the trouble of walking half a mile or a mile. In a country district a person living 10 or 15 miles from town is almost entirely dependent on the telephone. People living in the more closely settled areas often overlook the fact that the man on the land is dependent on the telephone for his business communications, for contacting others during a sickness or an emergency and for obtaining spare parts quickly at harvest time.
I am pleased that the Government has increased the amount of money that will be available to the Postal Department in the coming year. We are aware that there was a very slight financial loss of about i per cent, in the previous year. However, in the past when a new telephone was installed a pair of wires may have been run on a pole into the exchange. To-day, if the cables are loaded, the department will put in another cable carrying 20, 40, 60, 80 or probably up to 150 pairs. The cable will meet not only immediate requirements but requirements for the next ten, fifteen or twenty years. Whilst the magnitude of the work involved in laying a new cable may cause some delay and cost a lot, once the cable is there the department can provide a service for many future subscribers. The small loss incurred in one year is not important when one has in mind that the new cable will enable the department to provide a service for a large number of subscribers over many years.
I do not intend to give figures in the short time available to me, but I want to direct the attention of the committee to page 12 of the department’s financial report for the year ended 30th June, 1962. Under the heading “Capital Works”, the following statement appears: -
The allocation proposed for the Capital Works Programme in 1962/63 is £62.643 million.
The allocation would enable the Post Office to increase further the number of new telephone services connected, make substantial additions to the trunk line system and extend and improve the Postal and Telegraph Services.
This is in keeping with what has been done in the past. The report mentions the various coaxial cables that will be installed and the otherwork involved. The statement continues -
Some of the important features of the Government’s plans for the Capital Works Programme of the Post Office are -
I remind the committee that this is purely the capital works programme -
That is an admirable programme and is in keeping with the programme that the department adopted some years ago. However, there is one point that I deplore and 1 must refer to it. It is probably quite minor and I would not expect it to be included in the financial report. I deplore the fact that over the years sufficient attention has not been given to the conversion of non-official post offices, particularly in country areas, to automatic working. This matter has worried me since 1949, when I first offered myself as a candidate for election. There are a number of small non-official post offices in country areas. They are nearly all on private land out of town - some of them 10, 20 or 30 miles out of town. To these small exchanges come a number of subscribers who run their lines very largely at their own expense, for distances of seven, ten, fifteen or more miles. The lines have been in existence for many years. They include party lines and individual conconnexions. As these non-official post offices are many miles out of the town in which the parent exchange is installed some one is required to act as an office keeper. Usually the small office is on a property owned by the office keeper, who may have been looking after the exchange for many years.
After a time, when he is getting old and cannot continue with the work, the office keeper decides to give it up. He may do this on some suitable notice or on only short notice, but immediately he does so every subscriber on the exchange is virtually without a telephone. When we ask the department to make some other arrangements we are told that if some one will take on the job of office keeper we will have a telephone. We are going back to the horse-and-buggy days when the people who have enjoyed a telephone service - qualified though that enjoyment may be because of party lines and limited hours of attendance - lose the service if the office keeper ceases to do the work. Perhaps only one person in the group on a party line is connected to the trunk line system and to the parent exchange.
In those circumstances the department says that somebody else can take on the job. That is virtually impossible. First, the exchange is on private property. Secondly, the salary that a post office keeper receives will not keep him alive, so he must engage in some other occupation. Therefore, it is almost impossible to get some one else to take on the job, particularly if the exchange is a small one with up to about twenty subscribers. If no one will take on the job, there is a certain amount of haste in the department in allocating the subscribers to party lines. In one case quite recently seventeen subscribers were put on four party lines. Four were put on each of three party lines and five on another. We are going back to the horse-and-buggy days if these people, who have enjoyed the benefit of a telephone service for all these years while waiting for improvements to be made in their services, see trunk lines being duplicated, triplicated, quadrupled or multiplied many times and new automatic exchanges being built in country towns, whilst they are going backwards.
I have asked the department, and I plead again with the Postmaster-General, to give these small country non-official telephone exchanges a high priority in the installation of rural automatic exchanges. We are not giving good service to these people who are so valuable to Australia because they send their produce overseas and so provide the funds to pay for automatic telephone equipment. Much of this equipment is purchased overseas. Without the rural producers who send their goods - their wool, wheat and so on - overseas and provide overseas funds, we would not be able to buy this equipment. I believe it is only fair that they should participate in this service.
It may be said that in the past year about 130 rural automatic exchanges have been installed. That is very creditable, but that number is only a drop in the ocean compared with the number that is required. Any honorable member who represents a country area knows that in the last twelve months three or four or maybe many more nonofficial exchanges in his electorate have gone out of operation because the office keepers have given the job away. If it is only a small number, I see no reason why my request cannot be granted. If many of them are going out of operation, the problem becomes more critical and more important. I plead with the department and the PostmasterGeneral, in particular, to give serious consideration to this matter and to do something for these people.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I should like to bring several matters to the notice of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson), but I am afraid that because of the limited time at my disposal I shall have to confine what I have to say to three subjects. I believe that they are important. The first one relates to a matter that I brought to the notice of the Minister on 15th May this year, namely, the use of television for educational purposes. On that date I asked the Minister what provision, if any, had been made for the use of a television channel for educational purposes. The Minister was good enough to give me quite a full reply to my question. There is no need for me to convince him on the principle of this matter because he indicated that it is one of great importance. He agreed with my observation on thegreat potential value of the use of television for educational purposes. In reply to my question he said -
I do not question the fact that one channel is still available; but I am anxious to ensure that when that channel is brought into operation it will be used to the advantage of the educational institutions throughout Australia.
In South Australia there is an urgent need for this facility. I warmly commend the public bodies that are identifying themselves with the advocacy of the provision of this facility. The South Australian Public Schools Committees Association has made representations on this matter. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board requested that association to supply its views on the question of the use of television for educational purposes. In its reply to the board, the association enunciated certain definite principles that it feels indicate the urgency of the need for this service in South Australia. Because those principles apply to that State, one can say that they apply in the other States, too. I want to put on record the points that the association has made. I believe that they should be brought directly to the notice of the Postmaster-General. I ask him to exercise his influence to see that this principle is implemented immediately in order to apply the advances of this scientific medium to education. The assentation’s reply to the board contained the following: -
The following are some of the reasons given for this development:
it enables understaffed institutes to cope with a rapidly-expanding school and university population;
it has made possible instruction in particular subjects (such as Art and Music) where there is a great scarcity of qualified teachers;
it is able to provide students individually with more effective demonstrations of scientific and other practical experiments than is possible under prevailing class conditions;
in the universities in particular it has enabled a first-class teacher to be brought to the extremely large first year classes, leaving follow-up work in the hands of less well-trained graduate students;
there is developing a substantial minority of adults who seek more informative programmes, and a greater diversity of cultural material;
it facilitates teacher-training, initially at student-teacher level and later as a refresher course, and provides for the continuing professional development of the teacher.
From reports secured from abroad, I understand that this facility is being used and expanded in many countries. We should not be behind other countries in affording this added facility to our people. Because of the great demands that are being made upon our educational institutions to-day, they are finding it difficult to provide not only the essential class buildings and equipment but also the trained teaching staffs. If this proposal was given immediate priority and the personal attention of the Postmaster-General so that it could be hurried along and adopted, it would help to relieve the very serious problems of congestion and lack of teaching staffs. The Postmaster-General having indicated already his acceptance of the principle of television being used for educational purposes, I believe that I can confidently look to him to use his influence to have this principle adopted at the earliest possible opportunity.
I want next to bring before the Minister the case of a lad, in South Australia, who sat for the postal entrance examination and came fourth in South Australia. He commenced employment with the department at a rather important country post office and was made a permanent junior postal officer. He was then sent for an eyesight test, following which it was stated that he had a right conical cornea, a disability which disqualified him for permanent appointment, so his appointment was cancelled. Subsequently he consulted two eye specialists in Adelaide, Dr. Swan and Dr. Handley. They examined his eyes and, 1 understand, certified that his sight did not render him unfit for clerical work. He spent about £22 on the purchase of books in order to study and qualify for a Third Division position with the department. He continues to be employed as an exempt officer in the Postal Department but cannot, under the present ruling, study and qualify for higher status within the department.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) recently made a public statement to the effect that people with physical disabilities would be taken on to the permanent staff of Commonwealth departments and admitted to the Provident Fund. That ruling should make it possible for this lad to qualify for permanent appointment in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. It is wrong to deny him a permanent position. In view of the fact that he is regarded as being qualified to be a post office official and has given complete satisfaction in his work, why should he be denied the opportunity of permanence of appointment and promotion? The postmaster under whom this lad served has given him high credentials for the efficiency of his work and his devotion to duty. If the Postmaster-General would like me to supply him with the name of this lad, I will be pleased to hand him the letter that has been forwarded to me concerning this case. I ask the Minister to examine thoroughly the merits of this case so that something more closely approaching justice may be given to one who has proved himself worthy of that consideration.
– If you give me the name of the person concerned, together with the facts, I will look at this matter.
– I will give the PostmasterGeneral the letter, and I am sure it will receive from him the sympathetic consideration which I feel is due. The third matter I wish to bring to the notice of the Postmaster-General is the need for official post offices in two areas of my electorate. Enfield is an important community in my electorate and one which is growing both in population and importance.
– Already that area is nearly all built up.
– As the honorable member for Port Adelaide has said, the residential areas of Enfield are at present almost fully occupied. Not only are there modern school facilities there, but also, recently, a modern community centre has been erected and is occupied by the local corporation. But Enfield still has to contend with a non-official post office, which denies that community the service which it has a right to expect. The lack of an official post office inconveniences those who have to serve the public in the delivering and sorting of mail and denies the community an efficient postal and telegraphic service. I hope the Minister will see the wisdom of establishing an official post office at Enfield. The establishment of an official post office requires ministerial direction and sanction and I ask the Minister to note what I have said for immediate consideration.
An official post office is also required at Salisbury North. This is an expanding centre adjacent to both Salisbury and Elizabeth, but is sufficiently distant from them to make necessary the establishment there of an official post office. To-day, Salisbury North is a substantial community with several business centres, yet it is disadvantaged by the inadequacy of the present non-official post office.
– There is the weapons research establishment there.
– That is so, and only a little more distant is the great General Motors-Holden’s establishment in Elizabeth, which is constantly expanding and attracting people to that area. I ask the Minister to be good enough to examine this matter also. Windsor Gardens possibly has a claim for an official post office equal to those of the places I have mentioned, owing mainly to its isolation. But already the department has recognized the need there and sanction has been given for the erection of an official post office at that centre.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I will direct my remarks to the estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and, in doing so, 1 will introduce two unusual aspects to his debate. First, I propose actually to speak about the estimates - I say that without meaning offence - and secondly, I propose to speak, not as a member of the Government or a member of the Liberal Party, but as a member of the Parliament. As I understand the debate which has taken place for some days now, we, as a Parliament, have been engaged in a consideration of the Estimates, which is a part of the legal and constitutional process of appropriating money for the services of the Government. Indeed, that is, in effect, the message from the Administrator when the Estimates are placed before the Parliament. It is traditional that the Parliament should have the power of the purse. In other words, Parliament should have, and theoretically it does have, the right to control the expenditure of the Government.
However, in fact, because of what is, in my opinion, an absurd interpretation placed upon the provision that a government defeated on a money measure must resign, if one item in the Estimates were amended by the Parliament the Government would be forced to resign. The principle is understandable, of course. The practice has worked out in this fashion: In this vital issue of control of the purse, the Parliament cannot, in practical terms, exercise its right. What is left to us? The sole remaining real power, in a financial sense, that the Parliament possesses, is the power to make a close scrutiny of every item of these Estimates.
By a majority decision, the House has approved of the general policy of the Government as set out in the Budget. In the Estimates are details of the expenditure necessary to carry out that policy. Other than in a few passing references that I have heard and in a few other passing references that I have read, there has been little to indicate that the Estimates have been examined. Accepting the proposition that our responsibility is to scrutinize the Estimates, I want to direct attention to the problems that confront the Parliament.
For this purpose, I have selected the Postmaster-General’s Department, without prejudice and for a definite reason. It is one of the greatest single businesses, if not the greatest single business, in this country, and it is a government department. It endeavours to fill two roles. It presents to the Parliament a financial report and a set of commercial accounts. It explains where differences exist between the commerical accounts and the accounts presented in the Estimates. This does not absolve us of the responsibility that I think we should discharge. Therefore, I have had a look at the estimates for this department in some detail. They extend from page 121 to page 237. On page 121 appears a summary, which shows that eventually we shall allot to the department f 106,459,000. Let us have a look at the details. Any one who was chasing this proposed expenditure through and wanted to know where, how, and why this money was to be spent, would consult the summary of Divisions Nos. 711 to 718, on page 122. The gross total of salaries and payments in the nature of salary is £104,641,000. However, we find that four items, totalling £53,213,000, have been deducted from that amount, leaving a total proposed appropriation of £51,428,000.
If we chase through the six items in the summary, we get this quite interesting conclusion. The gross totals amount to £233,567,000 and the deductions amount to £128,858,000, leaving a net appropriation of £104,709,000. The deductions comprise these items: Amount charged to broadcasting and television services, amount charged to capital works, amount charged to engineering services, and amount charged to trust account. These total over £128,000,000. Each of the items has a deduction in respect of engineering services. Item 5 of the summary shows that in respect of engineering services, the total amount deducted from the other items is £54,037,000. But that is not the answer. From that again are deducted four separate items totalling £20,611,000, leaving a net figure of £33,426,000. So if one is trying to chase through these items, as shown in the summary, I suggest that, at best, he finds it extremely difficult.
I turn from that interesting, but hardly worth-while exercise to the State from which I come. As a Victorian member, I should like to know how much money is to be spent in that State on the various services of the Postmaster-Generals’s Department. How much will we eventually appropriate for the purposes of the department? Precisely the same sort of pattern is followed. Gross appropriations for Victoria amount to £61,929,000, but from that are deducted various items amounting to £35,000,000-odd leaving as a net appropriation proposed, £26,309,000. There is the same pattern of deduction of amounts in respect of engineering services; and from the proposed appropriation for engineering services are deducted other items, all of which makes this extremely difficult to follow. Again there are deductions in respect of expenditure chargeable to trust accounts. These total £13,805,000, which is a reasonably substantial amount in any one’s language. I do not challenge the capacity of any one else. All I say is that I am unable to determine from the papers that are supplied to us the purpose of that trust account and how it is operated. This is one of the difficulties.
– This requires a royal commission.
– It is one of the difficulties arising from the situation I mentioned earlier, wherein a huge business undertaking is required to conform to the forms of government departments.
– But you are not on the board of directors; you are only a shareholder, so you cannot get the information.
– I have very few shares. I do this sort of thing with intent, because, as I have said, this is the largest single business organization in the service of the Government. I would say without hesitation that nobody in this chamber could go through these Estimates and say that in my State or in any other State so much money will be spent in one particular direction. In respect of one item I have discussed in the past, namely telephone services, in my opinion the information just cannot be found. I turn to Division No. 713 - Victoria. Subdivision 1 relates to salaries and payments in the nature of salaries. Item 01’ shows that salaries and allowances are “ as per Schedule, page 229 “. I want to know how many men are employed and what they are doing. At page 229 appears a schedule of salaries and allowances in relation to Victoria. This is another interesting exercise. From the column on the lefthand side we find that there are one director, three assistant directors, and so on down to 354 transport officers, mail and motor drivers. The total strength is 22,560. The total gross amount of expenditure involved is £25,782,938. Any reasonable person would interpret this to mean that 22,560 people are employed and that their total salaries and allowances run to £25,782,938, but this is not so. Looking underneath those particulars, we read -
Amount to be withheld from officers on account of rent £19,000.
Amount estimated to remain unexpended
From the gross of £25,000,000 we deduct roughly 32 per cent, to get a net appropriation of £17,611,000. No one in this chamber can say with any degree of certainty whether there are 149 traffic officers, as the estimates indicate, or 49 traffic officers or even one traffic officer. The actual position just cannot be determined. In terms of seeking to examine and understand the Estimates so as to carry out the basic purpose of the Parliament and to discharge our responsibility I say advisedly that it just is not possible to determine the actual position. I do not say this in criticism of this department or of the other departments which are associated with the preparation of the Estimates. I say it in criticism of this and preceding parliaments. This system has grown up and has continued. Year after year honorable members have been content to ignore it because it has been too difficult to follow. As long as that system exists, for so long will the power and the responsibility of this Parliament be weakened.
If any honorable member cares to indulge in the interesting exercise of studying the Estimates during the debate and trying to analyse them he will find this kind of thing repeated in relation to other departments, not on every occasion but on a sufficient number of occasions to warrant the comments which I have made.
I have intruded into this debate deliberately to direct the attention of the committee to this very real problem, because on the acceptance and discharge of financial responsibilities really rests the institution of Parliament. If we as parliamentarians allow the institution to be weakened - as we and those who have preceded us have done - then if ultimately the structure of the institution is destroyed we who sit here now, those who preceded us and those who will follow us will have played a part in that destruction. I hope that at least some members of the committee will give closer and more detailed attention to what is at the very core of parliamentary responsibility. I hope that they will do something that may be difficult - examine the financial documents to learn what amount we are voting and for what purpose we are voting it.
Motion (by Mr. Opperman) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Because the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) is due to leave shortly for overseas I have been compelled to take this opportunity to direct the attention of the Minister, the Government and the House to the shabby deal which the people of the Northern Territory are receiving at the hands of this Government because of its repeated refusal to acknowledge that the residents of the Northern Territory are entitled to any concessions and that the Legislative Council is entitled to have certain reforms instituted.
To get the record straight, let me deal briefly with the events that have taken place during the last five years. In the first place, some five years ago the members of the Legislative Council who had threatened to walk out were invited to Canberra to discuss their grievances with the Minister and to recommend reforms. On that occasion they returned to the Northern Territory without having received any firm undertakings. In April, 1959, the Government introduced proposals which in some respects improved the lot of the Legislative Council but did not go anywhere near meeting the requests which had been made. When that legislation was before the House I warned the Government that the trouble would recur and that the last had not been heard of the matter.
All honorable members know that this year the Legislative Council sent a remonstrance to Canberra listing its grievances. The council asked for the gradual removal of certain restrictions on its powers so that it could have a more effective say in its own form of government. The council did not ask for a sudden removal of these restrictions; it merely asked for their gradual removal. One section of the remonstrance is in these terms -
On 9th October, 1961, at the invitation of the Minister for Territories, a delegation from the Legislative Council met the Minister and the Attorney-General in Canberra and there presented a case for -
adoption of the traditional policy of the British Parliament in dealing with disallowance of colonial legislation, particularly in referring back legislation with reasons why it was objectionable;
the creation of an Executive Council in the Northern Territory;
the empowering of the Legislative Council to debate its own estimates, which was supported by detailed examination of the finance received by the Commonwealth from the Northern Territory;
the creation of a sphere of legislation in which the Legislative Council would be supreme.
These recommendations or requests were very modest, and any sane government would have granted them out of hand, but, instead of that, the fight has to continue. As I have said, the requests were made in October, 1961, twelve months ago. All were refused. The request for a review of parliamentary salaries was refused, despite the fact that members of the council receive only a very meagre allowance, on the grounds that the time was not ripe for an increase. The members of the council have been on a fixed salary for a number of years, and I do not know when the time will be ripe. They suffer great disabilities and, to compensate them, the allowance should be doubled at least.
– What is the allowance now?
– About £400.
– Is that all?
– Yes. I want to contrast the treatment which the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory has received with the treatment which the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea has received. I remind honorable members that the last review of the powers of the Legislative Council for the Northern Terri tory was made in April, 1959. The last review of the powers of the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea was made in October, 1960, more than one year later. Yet twelve months after that the Minister said that the Government thought the time was ripe for another review of the powers of the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea. A select committee was appointed by the council. The committee presented recommendations which came to the Minister and have been approved. Less than a week elapsed between the adoption of the report by the council and its approval by the Minister. This contrasts strangely with the treatment which the people and the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory have received. It is obvious that outside pressure has been brought to bear, despite the protestations of the Minister that the Foot report had nothing to do with the haste with which reforms are to be implemented in New Guinea.
I have risen on this occasion to stress the position and to inform the Government and the House that the people of the Northern Territory will not tolerate any longer the kind of treatment they are receiving. The petitions they send down here are just thrown in the waste-paper basket. I want to tell the Government that if no action is taken here, the next time we organize a petition, it will be Territory-wide. It will bear the signature of every resident of the Territory. It will be presented, not to this House, but to an eminent person some time in March next year.
I trust that the action we take, and the resultant publicity when the plight of the people of the Northern Territory is known, will have repercussions not only throughout Australia but also throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations and all other countries so that the Government will wake up to its responsibilities and do the right and proper thing.
Some eighteen months ago I endeavoured to clear away the mystery which surrounded the letting of the tender for the construction of the Reserve Bank of Australia in Sydney. I directed a number of questions to the Minister for Works (Mr.
Freeth), the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), and also the Governor of the Reserve Bank, without any success. There have since been developments which have tended to give me the information which I sought then as to the reason why the third lowest tenderer, and not the lowest tenderer, was successful on that occasion.
In order to refresh the memories of members of the House about what happened, let me say that I first raised this matter in the Parliament on 29th August last year. My inquiry concerned advertisements which had appeared in the press on 29th April and 6th May of that year inviting builders who were interested to register as tenderers to be considered for the construction of the new Reserve Bank in Sydney. The builders had to register by 22nd May. Fourteen builders registered, and on 24th June all were invited by letter to submit tenders. This letter had been sent out only after the fullest investigation into the capacity and financial standing of the fourteen firms which had registered themselves as being interested in this particular work.
To show honorable members how thorough was the investigation into their affairs, they were asked to supply their balance-sheets for the past three years and to sign an authority for the Reserve Bank authority to secure a report from the bankers of the respective builders. The tenders closed on 4th August. On 10th August, only six days later - and I think there were only four working days in that period, because it covered a week-end - the lowest, second lowest and fourth and fifth lowest tenderers were advised that they had been unsuccessful. They naturally strongly resented this because it was obvious that their tenders had not been properly considered. Each had spent between £2,000 and £3,000 in the preparation of his tender, and then, after four days’ consideration, each received advice that he had been unsuccessful. No reason for the rejection of the tenders was given to the builders, nor has any reason been given since. They were all reputable firms which had satisfied the bank’s own searching inquiry into their affairs.
The lowest tenderer was Eastment and Son. This firm submitted a tender of £4,535,000, which was £39,000 less than the third lowest tenderer - E. A. Watts Proprietary Limited, of Melbourne - which eventually was the successful tenderer. Bruce Cameron and Associates, the quantity surveyors working on the construction of the Reserve Bank, protested by letter to the Reserve Bank authorities. Immediately they protested about the overlooking of the two lowest tenderers they were taken off the job.
In trying to explain this matter away in this Parliament, the Minister for the Interior said that Cameron and Associates were removed from this job because Mr. Cameron proposed going overseas. The fact is that Mr. Cameron decided to go overseas on business only after the Reserve Bank authorities had removed him from this particular work. When I first raised this matter, on 29th August, 1961, the Minister for Works said - i agree, that if the decision is not awarded to the lowest tenderer there must be some substantial reason for it.
He went on to say -
The Government will undertake to give a full report to the House on the circumstances of the contract and the tenders.
That, of course, was fair enough, and we awaited further developments. On 27th September I returned to this matter. I reminded the Minister that he had promised to have a full investigation made into the matter. The Minister for the Interior then said, “ That is not true “. An examination of “ Hansard “ would show that he had undertaken to have this investigation made. However, later he adopted a different attitude. He said that the Reserve Bank had full jurisdiction.
The fourteen tenderers sought and secured a conference with the Reserve Bank authorities to discuss certain conditions of the contract. This conference was held in July. At the conference there was no suggestion or mention that the Reserve Bank authorities were dissatisfied with any of the tenderers in respect of the result of inquiries that had been made into their capacity and financial standing. The Minister for Works said -
At m time during these discussions was it mentioned or implied that the bank should, or would accept the lowest tender, or that preliminary investigations had any bearing on such a question.
It is obvious that none of the tenderers believed at that time that they had done anything other than satisfy the bank as a result of the inquiry which had been made into their affairs by the Reserve Bank authorities themselves. The Minister went on to point out that one of the conditions of tendering was that the bank should not be bound to accept the lowest or any other tender. We knew that, but that did not satisfactorily clear away the fact that the two lowest tenderers were passed over.
In order to strengthen his case the Minister for Works quoted a report which appeared in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “. According to this report Mr. Barton, president of the Master Builders Association, had said that he was satisfied now with the way the Reserve Bank had dealt with tenders for its new head-quarters. Mr. Barton was reported to have said -
We were concerned at some of the procedures adopted originally, but after conferring with the bank and considering the situation we are satisfied now Mr. Ward is on the wrong track.
At that time no meeting of the Master Builders Association had been held to discuss this matter. When I tried to reply the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) moved the gag.
On 7th September Mr. Barton, the president of the Master Builders Association, had a letter published in the “ Daily Telegraph “ in which he said that his views had been misconstrued by the newspaper. He said that there had been a telephone interview, and he wanted to make it quite clear that the construction firms which tendered for the project were not satisfied, and neither was he.
I brought the matter up during the Estimates debate and asked for information. I also raised the matter with the Governor of the Reserve Bank. Although I was unable to obtain any information I think that I now have the answer. It turned out that this Melbourne firm, a member of which is Mr. Watts, who I am given to understand is a very close personal friend of the Treasurer, had become very heavily in debt to the Commonwealth Bank. The Reserve Bank had to let the tender to the
Watts company to try to get it out of the difficulties in regard to the debt the company had incurred. I now learn that the company has obtained also the contract for the erection of the Reserve Bank in Melbourne, and that it obtained the contract without the calling of tenders. The contract was let by negotiation and the Watts company has been able to secure the contract for the erection of the Reserve Bank in Melbourne without tenders being invited, and on the same price basis as applied in respect of the construction of the bank in Sydney.
A Commonwealth Bank is to be erected at Wynyard Station in Sydney. Tenders have been invited but the successful tenderer has not yet been announced. I would not be surprised to learn that the Watts company obtains that contract. It is further proposed to erect a Reserve Bank in Adelaide, and it is quite possible that the Watt company will secure that contract as well. It is rather interesting that information was not revealed when it was sought. The Governor of the Bank would not give any information and neither would the two Ministers. Do you know what the Minister for Works said on one occasion when I asked him for information? He said, “ I do not know, and it is not my job to find out “. This was public money that these people were spending, and the fact is that a tender was submitted by a reputable firm of builders for an amount £39,000 less than that quoted in the tender that was accepted. No reason has been given even up to this time, either to the tenderers or to this Parliament, as to why the lowest tender was not accepted. I think the House is entitled to know what has been going on, and I invite the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to tell us the present financial position of this firm with the Commonwealth Trading or Reserve Banks and what its position was in respect of the Commonwealth Bank at the time when the contract for the Reserve Bank head-quarters in Sydney was given to it. I should also like him to furnish full information in respect of negotiations for the handing over to E. A. Watts Proprietary Limited of the contract for the construction of the Reserve Bank building in Melbourne, without tenders being invited.
– I shall be very interested to study the text of the honorable member’s statement to the House to-night, and I shall then deal with it as seems appropriate. I would just add, at this stage of the game, one comment. The honorable member said that I was a personal friend of Mr. Watts. I hope that the information that the honorable member has put before the House is rather more reliable than his statement that I am a personal friend of Mr. Watts. To the best of my knowledge I have never met Mr. Watts. I do not know Mr. Watts. I would not know him if he walked into this chamber. The statements by the honorable member seem to me to be typical of the kind of attack that we frequently hear from honorable members in this place.
.- I am prompted to rise this evening and make a few remarks by a number of questions that were asked in the House to-day about the very grave international situation. I would have liked to ask a question myself, but one takes one’s chance at question time. However, I agree with the sentiments that have been expressed about the very grave situation that the world faces to-day, in which the two great powers, the United States of America and Soviet Russia, are standing almost face to face, and civilization is on the brink of disaster. We all hope and pray that the United Nations will be able to find a solution to this very grave problem. If it does not, of course, we will probably not be here very much longer. But I wonder, when 1 think of all the people of Australia and all the people in the other countries of the world awaiting the result of this development, and hoping that war will noi break out, whether we are not overlooking the fact that war has already broken out in another sphere. While we are trying to prevent a war between Russia and America, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations has been invaded by a Communist country. Already men are dying and a great country is losing part of its land to invaders. I wonder what we are doing about it or what we intend to do about it.
I do not suggest for one moment that we should be thinking about sending arms and munitions and taking part physically in this conflict. We all know, however, that India has been led by a great advocate of peace, a man who was held in very high esteem by the former leader of our party and Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley. Pandit Nehru has been recognized as a great apostle of peace, a man prepared always -‘o mediate and to counsel wisdom, to do everything in his power to prevent armed conflict. To-day we find that this man’s country, which has had only fifteen years of self-government, is facing invasion. I wonder whether the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has given consideration to sending food to this country or sending medical aid to its people.
I was privileged in 1957 to visit India, with other members of this Parliament, on the occasion of a conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. I was struck by the determination of the members of the Indian Parliament, and the people themselves, to establish a better way of life, not only for the people of India but for people in other countries of the world. At this time our thoughts seem to be centred upon what one might call the major conflict. It occurs to me, however, that we may be overlooking the fact that two Asian countries are already at war. The fact is, of course, that we are part of the Asian community. The only working democracy in Asia has been attacked. A member country of the Commonwealth of Nations, which gives the only example of parliamentary democracy in Asia, and which has done more than its share towards the preservation of peace, is now engaged in a war. Already she has lost many of her sons. In time of peace her problems are great. In time of peace India finds it most difficult to feed her population and to improve the standard of living of the Indian people. This is a country that has endeavoured in the past to preserve world peace; and I hope that we will not fail to assist her. I stress the point that I am not suggesting the provision of arms, munitions or anything of that nature. I feel, however, that we should assist her in some way. I do not know whether India has asked for assistance but I do think we should readily give whatever food and medical assistance we can send.
I leave it at that, Mr. Speaker. I realize the gravity of the world situation. I agree with all those honorable members who spoke at question time and said that we hope and pray that we shall not have to face a conflict on a major scale. It makes little difference, however, if one is going to die in a war, whether one is killed by a nuclear weapon or is shot down on the battlefield. War is evil and wrong, whichever way you fight it. I hope and pray, not only that peace will be preserved between Russia and America, but also that we will do what we can to give assistance to a country which has adopted the parliamentary system of government that operates in this country and is trying to improve the standard of living of her people. I hope we will do what we can in the way of providing food and medical assistance to that country in the grave situation that she faces.
.- I rise to join issue with the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) in regard to a reply he gave yesterday to a question asked by my colleague, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) concerning shipbuilding in Australia. The Minister said, amongst other things -
The second part of the honorable member’s question related to Australian shipyards. I hasten to say that I have the highest regard for the work done by the artisans in Australian shipyards. I believe that it is second to none. Unfortunately, however, experience has shown that Australian shipyards work slowly.
On this aspect of the matter, Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that I think the Minister was unfair, firstly to Australian workers engaged in this industry, and secondly to the management. If there have been delays in former years in naval shipbuilding operations, they have been due, in my opinion, first of all to Government policy, and, secondly, to the fact that changes are constantly being made to original specifications at the request of the Naval Board.
It has been the policy of the Government until recently to ensure that the Williamstown and Cockatoo dockyards carried on in a modified fashion. Shipbuilding orders were so spaced over the years that it was impossible for the dockyards to complete orders more quickly. Dockyard managements have complained that this policy has contributed to the delay that has taken place. When a ship has been completed, its trials have taken up to two years. Delay in the completion of a ship frequently occurs because of the many changes that are demanded by the Naval Board following trials. So it is quite misleading for the Minister to claim that Australian shipyards are very slow compared with other shipyards in the world. I say definitely that if the experience of naval shipyards throughout the world is examined, the Australian work compares more than favorably. The Minister also said -
In the meantime, we are giving as much work as we can to Australian shipyards.
It is rather odd that at present the Australian naval shipyards have no work at all. They have completed their orders. At the completion of H.M.A.S. “Stuart” some months ago, the management of Cockatoo dockyard explained their predicament to the Government and pointed out that unless they received more orders for naval shipbuilding, the whole programme would suffer. But this Government did not place any further orders and it is paradoxical that at this moment, when we have just concluded a debate on the defence estimates and when the world situation is tense, this Government has not one single naval ship under construction in Australia. That is one of the greatest indictments that could be levelled against the Government and shows how much its defence policy is worth. Finally, the Minister said in reply to the honorable member for Batman -
I am sure that the honorable gentleman, who is a judge of these things, will know that the type 12 frigates are as good as anything of their kind in the world. Unfortunately even those ships took about eight years to build.
They took eight years to build because of the Government’s policy in placing orders. The Government deliberately spread out the ship-building programme among other things to ensure continuity of work in the -Australian dockyards over that period. Even if the Minister could show that shipbuilding was delayed for eight years, it would not be an indictment of ship-building in Australia. In many other countries, more time has been spent in building ships or trying to build them and ultimately they have been scrapped. It is misleading to try to score a point by saying that a single ship took eight years to build. 1 repeat that at a time when we are in the most critical period of the century, this Government is not building one single naval ship in Australia. No greater indictment could be levelled against the Government.
Motion (by Mr. Opperman) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.30 p.m. until Tuesday, 6th November, at 2.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Can the Minister make a comparison of the ships held in reserve and in active use by the Royal Australian Navy with ships similarly held by the Indonesian Navy?
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following statement which has been compiled from “ Jane’s Fighting Ships “. Statistical details are attached in separate statements.
s asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
How many (a) tradesmen and (b) apprentices are employed by the Commonwealth Railways as (i) fitters and turners, (ii) carpenters and joiners, (iii) electrical fitters, (iv) electrical mechanics, (v) plumbers, (vi) boilermakers, (vii) sheet metal workers, (viii) blacksmiths, (ix) moulders, (x) bricklayer pointers and (xi) motor mechanics?
– The information requested regarding Commonwealth Railways employees is as follows: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
What was the average annual value of production for the years 1957-58 to 1960-61, inclusive, of the following: - Beef and veal; mutton and lamb; rabbit and hare meat; canned meats; butter; cheese; milk and cream; eggs and egg products; wheat; flour; barley; apples, fresh; pears, fresh; canned deciduous fruit; canned pineapple and fruit salad, other; raisins and sultanas; sugar, hides and skins; wool; ores and concentrates - zinc - other; lead?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The annual values of production of each of the commodities mentioned for the years 1957-58 to 1960-61 inclusive, and the annual averages for the four-year period, are as shown in the following table: -
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Will the Government seek to conclude a peace and friendship treaty between this nation and Indonesia?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
This question involves considerations of future Government policy and no answer can be given at this time. Australia’s relations with Indonesia are friendly and receive the continuous attention of the Australian Government.
n asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
What aid has Australia provided for construction and development in Indonesia during the past ten years?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
To 30th June, 1962, Australia had given aid valued at £4,409,924 to Indonesia under the Colombo Plan. This included £2,406,572 for capital aid, which is of course concerned with major construction and developmental works, and £2,003,352 for technical assistance, which involves the provision of training awards, experts and technical equipment.
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Does Australia yet propose to ratify the U.N.E.S.C.O. Convention, and accede to the Protocol, for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict done at The Hague on 14th May, 1954?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The Australian Government has not ratified the U.N.E.S.C.O. Convention, nor acceded to the Protocol, for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict because it is not satisfied that this Convention meets in every respect the criterion of practicality, given the objectives which it is designed to achieve.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government seek the signature of Indonesia to a treaty with Australia explicitly setting out the boundary between West New Guinea and the Australian Territory of Papua and New Guinea, and committing the two nations to a recognition and an honouring of the existence of that boundary?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The boundary between West New Guinea and the Territory of Papua-New Guinea is clearly defined by existing international agreements. It is also clearly marked on the ground at key points and is not in dispute. The question of the need for an approach to Indonesia on arrangements for further demarcation of the border on the ground is a matter of policy.
Australian Flora and Fauna.
s. - On 4th October the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox), in a question without notice, asked if the Commonwealth has power to legislate for the protection jo f Australian flora and fauna.
The Commonwealth Parliament has no general power to legislate with respect to the protection of Australian flora and fauna. Except in Commonwealth Territories this matter is one which falls within the authority of the States.
However, the Commonwealth possesses certain powers under the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations to prevent the export of animals and birds native to Australia, skins of animals native to Australia and plumage, skins, eggs and eggshells of birds native to Australia, and the basic policy operated in relation to these powers is a protective one. The powers are exercised in co-operation with State fauna protection authorities.
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has supplied the following information: -
on asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Repatriation Department. i*fr. Collard asked the Minister for
Repatriation, upon notice -
z. - The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
It is true that, in most instances the local sub-Branch of the R.S.L. makes accommodation available for these visits and this, I am informed, has proved a convenient arrangement to all concerned. It would in general be difficult to obtain suitable alternative accommodation for these periodic visits. However, if the honorable member has in mind particular instances where inconvenience has been experienced by an exserviceman or woman for the reasons he has indicated, I shall be pleased to examine the possibility of making an alternative arrangement to meet them.
g asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1, 2, 3 and 4. I am not able to answer this question without expressing opinions on questions of law, and, in particular, on the construction of both federal and State statutory provisions in addition to those of the Australian Capital Territory.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 October 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19621025_reps_24_hor37/>.