24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Normally these remarks would be left until the time for making ministerial statements, but I think all honorable members ought to be told now that the date proposed for the dissolution of the House of Representatives is 1st November, on which day the writs will be issued, and that the date for nominations will bc 8th November, following the statutory requirement. I mention this matter at this stage because it may well be that some State members of Parliament will desire to nominate. Looking at the Electoral Act, and on the advice I have had from the law authorities, any such State members would need to resign, in order to contest the federal election, by 24th October - in other words, by Thursday.
Mr. MONAGHAN presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that the Government remove section 127, and the words discriminating against aborigines in section 51, of the Commonwealth Constitution, by the holding of a referendum at an early date.
A similar petition was presented by Mr. McGuren.
Petitions severally received.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister this question: Does he recall saying in March, 1956, that the Commonwealth Government lacked sufficient powers to deal with Australia’s economic problems, particularly inflation? Was this not one of the reasons for his appointment of the joint committee of both Houses to consider the question of constitutional review? Did the Government still lack sufficient economic instruments in November, 1960, and as a consequence did not the Government impose a disastrous credit squeeze from which it has taken three years for the economy to recover? Is it not a fact that the Commonwealth is no better equipped now than it was in 1956 or 1960 to deal with the economic problems that will face this nation in the future?
– It is most unfair of the Leader of the Opposition to invite me offhand to remember some words that somebody is supposed to have said in 1956. All I can say is that whenever I recall what the Leader of the Opposition and his party were saying in 1956 about foreign affairs, defence and other things, I am fascinated beyond words.
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service give details of the special scholarships granted by the Commonwealth Development Bank? Is it a fact that the bank has established a policy to assist supervisors, technicians and research workers each year to ensure that Australia’s technological processes will continue to be able to compete with overseas processes?
– The Commonwealth Banking Corporation has established a number of scholarships, not for research workers but for, among others, technicians, supervisors and designers. Since 1960, 150 scholarships have been granted. This is only a beginning. I hope that other banking organizations and our great companies will be inspired by this action to give similar help. The idea behind the system of scholarships is that particularly skilled young people will have an opportunity to spend a year or two acquiring the higher skills of technical training, which will enable them to fit readily into the technical age. I do not know that I can give the honorable member any more information on this subject, but I will have inquiries made, and if I can add any useful information to that which I have already given I will submit it by letter.
– I ask a question of the Attorney-General. While the honorable gentleman was out of the country the Prime Minister, in addressing a meeting of the Chamber of Manufactures of New
South Wales, said that the submissions to the Government by the Manufacturing Industries Advisory Council on restrictive practices were “the most balanced, sensible and impressive ideas” that he bad heard. In view of the importance attached by the Prime Minister to those submissions, and in view of the fact that the public has available the detailed legislative proposals of the Attorney-General on restrictive practices, will the honorable gentleman make available the submissions of the Manufacturing Industries Advisory Council and, before the end of the sessional period, make a statement setting out the Government’s intentions on restrictive practices?
– I have received a great many suggestions in the course of time. The suggestions referred to by the honorable member were useful. I do not propose to treat them any differently from the others that I have received. All of the suggestions have been confidential to me.
– I ask the Minister for Trade: Has the Japanese Trade Agreement been of outstanding benefit to Australia? Is the Minister aware that the Opposition is on record in “Hansard “ as stating that if Labour becomes the government it will rescind the agreement? Is this still Labour’s policy?
– I can say without fear of contradiction that experience has shown the Japanese Trade Agreement to have been of immense value to the Australian economy. I recall that the Labour Party in both Houses opposed the original agreement. I do not know what the present position is as far as the Labour Party is concerned.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that yesterday the clerical staff at the Alexandria, Sydney, branch of the Commonwealth Department of Works had considerable difficulty in getting through a crowd of people who were blocking the doorway and stairs of the building? The people were present in response to an advertisement for carpenters and painters. The advertisement appeared in an obscure section of the “Sydney
Morning Herald” last Saturday. To what does the Minister ascribe the presence of so many building tradesmen seeking jobs? Would it be the potency of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ as an advertising medium or have the unemployment figures supplied by the Minister been falsified?
– I was not aware of the matters mentioned by the honorable gentleman. I think that he would know the position, and that he ought to be rebuked for using the word “ falsified “. That means that he has no trust in the Commonwealth Public Service. The figures arc collected by civil servants and are presented to me from about 150 different offices. His accusation of falsification is directed against the Public Service as a whole. I say that the figures are accurate; they cannot be falsified. The truth of the matter is that today we have a shortage of skilled building tradesmen throughout Australia. It is true that we can, on occasions, pick up skilled building tradesmen because when some work ends they come onto the market and when another job begins we quickly place them in employment. I will let the honorable gentleman have a copy of my latest return and if he cares to read it diligently I am sure tha’t, being a somewhat responsible person, he will be delighted with the employment position which exists in Australia to-day.
– I wish to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. Does he intend to make, or has he given consideration to making, a statement to the House on his recent visit overseas?
– I understand that the time of the House will be fairly well engaged, but I will give consideration to the honorable gentleman’s suggestion.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Has his attention been drawn to a report from Djakarta this morning that it had been authoritatively stated that Indonesian fighter planes would continue to inspect closely all aircraft travelling over Indonesian territory and that such inspections would include commercial passenger aircraft? In view of the repeated buzzing of Qantas planes by Indonesian fighters, will he inform the House what, if any, protest has been made to the Indonesian Government and what, if any, assurances have been given by the Indonesian Government?
– I do not know that it is right to talk about repeated buzzings. There was a buzzing of an aircraft and we did immediately seek assurances from the Indonesian Government. Our Ambassador in Djakarta was assured that proper steps would be taken to safeguard the safety of Australian aircraft. As to the more recent report, to which the honorable member first referred in his question, I have already sent to Djakarta for certain information connected with it and as soon as I have received that information I will let the honorable gentleman know the result of my inquiry.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. As the shortage of doctors in our rural areas persists I ask: What success has attended the scheme of sponsorship of rural residents in bringing doctors from overseas to practise , in country districts? Can this scheme be extended to advantage?
– My department and I are very well aware, as the honorable member for Mallee has suggested, of the shortage of doctors in quite a number of rural areas in various parts of Australia. I can assure my honorable friend that we are continuing to do everything we can to overcome this deficiency and to bring doctors here so that they can cater for the needs of country people.
– I wish to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. Does his information confirm the accuracy of radio reports in Australia to the effect that Doctor Subandrio said that either Malaysia would destroy Indonesia by its existence or Indonesia would destroy Malaysia? If the terms that Doctor Subandrio has used are as strong as that, has this statement been evaluated in the Department of External Affairs, and if so, with what result?
– I do not know that 1 have seen a departmental corroboration of that press report, which I saw. The honorable member will have noticed that I have stated that the making of these assertions, irrespective of whether they are followed up, must cause a serious difference in the relationships between Australia and Indonesia. I am sure that Dr. Subandrio knows by now exactly what I said on my return to Australia.
– Has the Minister for Air seen a report, allegedly originating from Indonesia, that Royal Australian Air Force planes have been making reconnaissance flights up to within two miles of the border of Indonesian-controlled West New Guinea and claiming that this has justified patrols in the same area by Russian-built bombers and jet fighters? Is there any truth in the report?
– I have heard rumours of reports in Indonesian newspapers that the R.A.A.F. has been carrying out patrols to within two miles of West Irian. Of course, we would be perfectly justified in carrying out such patrols because we would be over Australian territory. However, I can assure the honorable member that there have been no patrols of any kind by R.A.A.F. planes in this area of New Guinea. In fact, no aircraft of the R.A.A.F. is stationed permanently in New Guinea; the nearest bases are in Australia. The planes concerned, if there were any, could not possibly have been Australian.
– Is the Treasurer aware that the Industrial Acceptance Corporation Limited, which is heavily subsidized by one of the private banks, is borrowing money at 61 per cent, and that this money will be used to finance hire-purchase transactions upon which a profit of 20 per cent, to 30 per cent, will be made? In other words, the profit upon the 6) per cent, will be anything up to-
– Order! The honorable member is now giving information. I suggest that he ask his question.
– The profit upon the 6i per cent, will be anything up to 700 per cent.
– Order! The honorable member will ask his question without giving any more information.
– Will the right honorable gentleman direct the Commonwealth Bank to act in this field in the interests of the people of Australia?
– I have noted that the Industrial Acceptance Corporation was raising money at a somewhat reduced rate of interest. This is not the first reduction of interest rates that it has made in recent times. This is a highly competitive field, in which many companies are engaged. Recently the Commonwealth Savings Bank has offered personal loans to clients on specified terms. I gather that this practice is now obtaining in some of the private savings banks as well. Indeed, I think in some instances the private savings banks anticipated the Commonwealth Savings Bank’s proposal. I do not quite know what is implicit in the honorable gentleman’s question, but I can say that the Government does not propose to make any change in current policy on this matter.
– Early this year the Attorney-General assisted honorable members by distributing copies of the report of the Bankruptcy Law Review Committee, together with a draft bill. The honorable gentleman then indicated that it was hoped that the bill would be presented to the House later in this year. Can he now inform the House what’ stage has been reached in this matter?
– After circulating the report and the draft bill I asked interested bodies to comment upon it and criticize it. I have received a number of suggestions. These have been receiving my consideration - consideration interrupted by a trip abroad. If the Parliament were going to run its full time there might have been a chance for me to put this bill through, but with the foreshortened sessional period I am quite sure the legislation cannot now be presented.
– I wish to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. On the last day on which the honorable gentleman was in the House he heard the Prime Minister say, in speaking of Malaysia, “ I hoped that the Minister for External Affairs would be able to make this statement because the matter is in his bailiwick, but, his departure for the United Stales of America having already been postponed, it is really necessary for him to leave at a later hour to-day”. I therefore ask the Minister why he was not in the House when the statement was made, as his plane for the United States did not leave until three and one-half hours after the Prime Minister spoke.
– The honorable member has not had the experience of administering a portfolio, and he certainly has not had the experience of administering two. I can assure him that there was a great deal of work involved in cleaning the desks of the ministries before I left. I devoted myself to that task on the Wednesday before I left in the evening. I did not have much time, incidentally, for my own personal business on that day. So far as the statement is concerned, the honorable member well knows, from what the Prime Minister said, that the right honorable gentleman and I were in communication with each other on the morning of that day settling the precise terms of the statement. Later in the day, as I have already said, I attended to the tasks of the ministries.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Has any proposal been put forward by the. Governments of New South Wales and Queensland for Commonwealth participation in a scheme to construct dams on the BarwonDumaresq river system which lies on either side of the border between those two States?
– I do not recall any such proposal, but I will find out whether there has, in fact, been some proposal made in the last few hours or days. .
– I address a question to the Minister for Air. I preface it by referring to an answer given on 16th October by the Minister to the honorable member for La Trobe, in which the Minister said - 1 have no hesitation in saying that, plane for plane, the equipment of the Royal Australian Air Force to-day is equal or superior to the equipment of any air force in the world, with the exception of the United States Air Force and possibly the Soviet Air Force.
Was the Minister speaking seriously when he made this amazing statement? If so, does he really believe and intend to convey the impression that the Royal Australian Air Force is actually the second or third air force in the world? If this is the case, will he state in full the strength of the R.A.A.F. in man-power, planes and equipment, and give comparative information about the air forces of the United States and the Soviet Union, in order that the people may have a permanent and official record of the inaccuracy of the Minister’s statement?
– Although the honorable member read part of my answer he evidently did not understand it, because I used the phrase “ plane for plane “.
– He knows that, but he twisted the statement.
– Yes. I say again that, plane for plane, we are as well equipped as any air force in the world.
– All the planes have wheels.
– It is amazing how many experts there are here. I pointed out that we are just taking delivery of a new fighter aircraft which is superior to anything flying in Europe and equal to anything flying anywhere in the world.
– Tell us about the bomber.
– I mentioned that with the exception of the one aircraft, a replacement for which is being considered by the Government at the present time, the Royal Australian Air Force is very well equipped with every type of aircraft. We have a first-class transport aircraft which compares more than favorably with anything operating in Europe. Our aircraft for naval reconnaissance and anti-submarine work is superior to any aircraft that is operating in Europe. There is only one possible superior to it. That aircraft has a slightly longer range, but is no better at submarine detection. If the honorable member for Grayndler even knows what some of these aircraft are, I will be surprised. I also pointed out that we have the best utility helicopters of all the helicopters operating anywhere in the world. Early in January we will be taking delivery of an aircraft, which is being used by the United States Air Force for army support in large numbers. That is the Caribou. It has no equal or superior in any army close support. So, if the honorable member will read my answer again and look at it closely, he will see that what I said was perfectly correct. The Royal Australian Air Force, plane for plane, is superior to almost every other air force in the world.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister for Trade, by saying that I have heard that certain arrangements were made for the export of considerable quantities of bananas from north Queensland to Canada. Can the Minister say whether there is any substance in that information concerning such exports? Have the Canadians shown any interest in obtaining Australian bananas? If they have, what are the prospects of exporting bananas to Canada?
– My information is that in July last a trial shipment of bananas from north Queensland was sent to Canada. My advice is that there is a Canadian interest in Queensland bananas. Canada normally imports about 160,000 tons of bananas a year, principally from the central American republics. Those people who have concerned themselves with this trade say that, if the Australian bananas are graded and packaged to suit the Canadian market and if the handling and shipping are satisfactory, there is every reason to believe that we can get in for our share of this very big market.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. I preface it by referring to a question that I asked the right honorable gentleman on 16th October. I asked him the date on which the Reserve Bank of Australia advised the Rural Bank of New South Wales that it should bc more selective or restrictive in its lending. I also asked what were the general terms of the Reserve Bank’s advice to the Rural Bank, what was the reason for it, and whether a similar request had been made to any other bank. As the right honorable gentleman said that he was unable to answer the question at that time but he would make inquiries, can he now give an answer to the question that 1 addressed to him?
– I regret that 1 am not yet in a position to supply a reply to the honorable gentleman. In fact, I would need to satisfy myself about the past practice in these matters of communications passing between the Governor of the Reserve Bank and the representatives of the trading banks. I would very much question whether they would not be regarded as confidential communications between the governor and the bank concerned. However, I am looking into the past practice in these matters. As I indicated to the honorable gentleman, I shall see how far I can go appropriately in supplying to him the information for which he has asked.
– When will we have it?
– Before the House rises.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service seen the announcement that the trade unions have been asked by the Australian Labour Party not to hold strikes during election time? Can he state whether the announcement means that strikes are encouraged by the Australian Labour Party as pre-election propaganda in preference to going to the arbitration tribunals? Can he state also whether the strike at the works of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is an example of bow little the trade unions think of the Opposition?
– I am aware that the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council asked the unions not to indulge in strikes prior to the election date.
– How do you know that?
– You told me.
– I did not tell you. That is not true. Do not tell untruths.
– The extraordinary thing is that since the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council asked the unions not to indulge in strikes there has been a rash of strikes, obviously pulled, in some cases, by the left wing. A strike has been pulled on at the naval dockyard in Sydney. The complaint is that the Australian Council of Trade Unions has not acted on claims made by workers at the dockyard. As yet a log of claims has not been filed so the matter in dispute has not been identified.
So, too, there has been a threat of a strike at the Lucas Heights atomic energy centre. No one yet has been able to find out what is causing the threat of a strike; a log of claims has not been lodged. As to the strike at the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, it is obvious again, as the honorable member points out, that no notice at all has been taken of the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council. Some left-wing elements have taken control and have pulled the men out without true justification. However, this matter will shortly be referred to the New South Wales Industrial Commission and I am hopeful that a settlement will be quickly arranged. In summary, some unions, including some left-wing inspired unions, take no notice of the Trades and Labour Council. For that reason, the council cannot join with the Opposition in attempting to confront the Government.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Trade. Does he recall the emergency Tariff Board inquiry into the timber industry, hearings in which began in Canberra in September, 1962, and concluded in November, 1962? Is it a fact that the report of that inquiry is now in the hands of the Department of Trade? When will the timber industry be given the findings of the inquiry, for which it has now waited for eleven months? The honorable member for Braddon is also interested in this question.
– If I have correctly understood the honorable member’s question, there must be some confusion. I think he said that an emergency tariff reference was made in November, 1962, and that the report is now awaited. If that was the question, it obviously cannot be based on fact, because it is a requirement of the law that a reference to the Special Advisory Authority must produce a recommendation within 30 days. I think the honorable member is confusing this procedure with a normal reference to the Tariff Board made consequent upon the Government receiving a recommendation of the Special Advisory Authority. I will ascertain the position and inform the honorable member.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Interior. It refers to the operations of the Commonwealth Electoral Act and, in particular, to the present method of listing the names of candidates in alphabetical order on the ballotpapers. Does the Minister consider that the fact that 50 per cent, of the surnames of Opposition members commence with letters from A to G indicates that some planned reliance is placed upon what is popularly known as the “ donkey “ vote?
– It is not for me to comment on the Opposition’s view of the intelligence of the electorate. I have no doubt that the members of the public will be able to make an assessment of the qualities of candidates, and will not be influenced by the position of names on the ballot-papers.
– I preface a question addressed to the Treasurer by referring to a matter raised last week by the honorable member for East Sydney and myself with relation to a circular distributed to all clubs in New South Wales by the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in Sydney. Now that the Treasurer has had time to examine that circular, I ask whether it was sent to clubs in States other than New South Wales. Is the Treasurer aware that no clubs have submitted returns relating to the profits earned by them from visitors or non-members? Does the Government intend to enforce this section of the act, which has not been enforced hitherto?
Mr. HAROLD HOLT__ I have already explained that the action being taken by the Commissioner of Taxation is being taken by him under legislation passed by this Parliament. It is not being taken as the result of any special instruction issued by myself. As I said last week, I shall see what information I can secure for the honorable gentleman, but I point out that the Commissioner of Taxation acts entirely independently of any intervention or pressure from the Treasurer, individual members of the Government or members of the Parliament. That is the status that this Parliament has accorded to him, and he administers the legislation which is passed by the Parliament. It is pursuant to that legislation that he has taken the action to which the honorable gentleman refers.
– What about the other States?
– I will see whether I can get that information for the honorable member.
– In addressing a question to the Minister for Immigration, 1 refer to Australia’s co-operation with the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration and the specific allocation of Dr. Jensen to report on the hard core cases remaining in refugee camps in Europe. Is it not a fact that the work of Dr. Jensen was quite outstanding? Did he not indicate a number of cases in which perhaps Australia could assist the inter-governmental committee by accepting the refugees for migration even at this late stage? I further ask whether Australia has been able to accept many of those cases. Are there more cases still under consideration?
– For some ti- le now, we have been trying, in co-operation with the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration, to accept a number of what my honorable friend calls hard core cases in accordance with an attempt on our own behalf, and an amelioration of our immigration policy, to play our part in helping the resettlement of refugees in most necessitous circumstances. So far, some of those cases have arrived in Australia, but the work is still proceeding, and I am hopeful that within the course of the next year or so we shall be able to make further progress in this respect.
– In addressing a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, I refer to the proposed withdrawal of the drug amesec from the free drug list as from 1st November next. Is the Minister aware that tens of thousands of Australians rely upon this drug to counter their allergy-caused asthma? Can he say when the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee last met, when it decided that this valuable asthma-relieving drug should bc omitted, and for what reason it should be omitted? Did the committee seek the advice of the Austraiian Council of Allergists, a body of experts in this field? Will the Minister seek an immediate review of this decision which has caused much alarm among doctors and asthma sufferers?
– I shall refer the question to my colleague in another place and obtain a suitable repiy for the honorable member.
– I address a question to the Minister for Social Services. What amount has the Government contributed towards the building of homes for the aged under the Aged Persons Homes Act? Is finance still available to organizations which desire to take part in this work? Is there a ceiling on the total aggregate amount of contribution by the Commonwealth?
– I regret that I cannot give the honorable member precise figures. The latest information that I have is that grants totalling approximately £18,500,000 have been approved under the Aged Persons Homes Act. There are no limitations on the number of applications that may be made or the total of the grants. I am happy to say that applications are coming in with a degree of enthusiasm that gives the Government cause for great satisfaction.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Is it a fact that the acceptance by the
Government of the report of the Australian Universities Commission that determined the allocation of funds for universities for the period 1961-66 has meant that the Chemical Engineering Department in the University of Melbourne will have to be closed down, despite the fact that the demand for graduates of this department is easily ten times in excess of the number being produced? If this is a fact, will the Prime Minister explain why this department should be closed down? If he docs not know whether or not this department is to be closed, will he say that he is sure that this will not apply also to a number of other departments in other universities in Australia?
– The honorable member knows very well that 1 cannot be familiar with all the details of everything that goes on in all the universities. We have the Australian Universities Commission, which examines these matters wilh great care over a considerable period on each occasion. It is in constant contact with the universities themselves and with the State governments. Speaking for myself, I say that I have received no complaint from the University of Melbourne about the prospective closing down of some faculty. I am sure that if any such complaint had been made in the official way, it would have reached me or would have been mentioned by the Universities Commission. Therefore, I shall await some further evidence that the commission, in a very careful and elaborate report, has made some error such as the honorable member suggests.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. 1 ask: When the Government’s contribution to wool promotion becomes operative, will the amount contributed by growers remain a tax deduction?
– I treat the question as being on notice and shall give the honorable member an authoritative answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. The right honorable gentleman, in a statement at the week-end, said that the Minister for the Interior had attacked him in a letter published in a newspaper. In view of the promptness with which the former Minister for Air was sacked, does not the Minister for Trade believe that the Minister for the Interior should resign from the Ministry, or has he something else in store for him? [Question not answered.]
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Will he consider issuing passes for free travel on the Canberra omnibus service to all age, invalid and widow pensioners residing in the Australian Capital Territory? If he is not able to extend this facility to all pensioners in these categories, will he provide free travel for those who are the holders of pensioner medical cards, which indicate that their income, apart from pension, is limited to £2 a week?
– The proposition that the honorable member puts has been examined by the Department of the Interior on numerous occasions. Previously, we have not been able to agree to do what he asks, but I undertake to have another look at the matter and to see whether the finances of the Transport Section of the Australian Capital Territory Services Branch of the department will stand the implementation of such a proposal.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Will he arrange to show members of the Parliament the Australian Broadcasting Commission film telecast made on Sunday night, in which the Minister for External Affairs appeared to be having a violent argument with members of the press? Was this film shown without sound because the Minister’s comments were unsuitable for television? Will the Postmaster-General - privately, if necessary - tell members precisely what the Minister did say?
– I know nothing of the film referred to by the honorable member for Hughes, but possibly my colleague does.
– Keep within the rules of parliamentary practice.
– I will indeed. I was asked by representatives of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and other television stations to give a television interview. I asked, “ How long will it be? “ I was told it would be 2½ minutes. I said: “Very well. Do I make a statement and do you ask questions? “ They said, “Yes”. I said: “If I make a statement, do you publish it or do you cut itto suit yourselves? As far as I am concerned, if you care to publish my statement as I say it, it is all right by me “. They said, “ On those terms we would rather not take the pictures “. They then left.
– by leave - I may have misrepresented the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) the otherday, quite unwittingly. In the course of a debate on the question of the dissolution of the House, I referred to a statement made against him by the “ Sunday Telegraph “. I gave a very liberal interpretation of the press report. It was a grave reflection on him, but it was a political reflection. I said that the “ Sunday Telegraph “ had said that he was a no-hoper. That unfortunate word has a connotation that spills over beyond politics and on to him as a citizen. I did not intend to reflect on him in any way as a citizen. If I have done him any harm or hurt him in any way, I am sorry.
.-In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, I present the report relating to the following proposed Work: -
Construction of the Top Springs-Wave Hill Road, Northern Territory.
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Mr. Dean) - by leave - agreed to-
That the Public Works Committeebegranted leave to sit during sittings of the House for the remainder ofthe session.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
International Organizations (Privileges and
Immunities) Bill 1963.
International Development Association Bill 1963.
International Finance Corporation Bill 1963.
International Monetary Agreements Bill 1963.
World Health Organization Bill 1963.
Loan (War Service Land Settlement) Bill 1963.
Motion (by Mr. Davidson) agreed to -
That Standing Order No. 103-11 o’clock rule - be suspended for the remainder of the session.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 17th October (vide page 2019).
Department of National Development.
Proposed expenditure, £12,652,000.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
Proposed expenditure, £10,600,000.
.- I want to address myself to the subject of national development and in particular to the way that the Ministry is handling national development. In view of the way that some of Australia’s resources are being handled, it will be essential after the election to appoint a Ministry for Post-Spooner Re-development. I want to refer to the bauxite deposits of Australia, to the aluminium industry and its ramifications and to the way in which our future and our potential are being alienated from Australian hands.
There are three large bauxite deposits in Australia. They are in Western Australia near Perth, in the Northern Territory on the Gove peninsula and in the Weipa area on the Cape York peninsula. It is significant that in the world to-day there are some 10,000,000,000 tons of proved bauxite deposits and of these some 3,000,000,000 tons are in Australia. Australia is in a pre-eminent position in the control of the world’s supply of the basic raw material for aluminium. It is tragic for the future of this nation that we have alienated our resources, principally to overseas countries, and that in this alienation we are practically giving away our resources. Basically, the aluminium indus try was a French industry. A French scientist developed it. The Pechiney Company of France is amongst the most technically advanced companies in the world. But the giant of the aluminium industry is the Aluminium Company of America, which has ramifications throughout the world in such companies as Alcan of Canada and Alcoa of Australia.
The major industrial nations of the world - France, Great Britain, Canada and the United States of America - have almost an absolute control of the aluminium industry in what might be termed the free world, but they are sending out their tentacles into the under-developed parts of the world to gain control of bauxite. Bauxite is the basic material from which we get aluminium. On the average, 4 tons of bauxite produce 2 tons of alumina and 2 tons of alumina produce 1 ton of aluminium. The current rates are something like £2 12s. for a ton of bauxite, £30 for a ton of alumina and between £200 and £225 for a ton of aluminium. We are speaking of an asset that is almost priceless. We must remember that 80,000,000 tons of bauxite, certainly after a great deal of skilled work and after the material has been through chemical and electrical processes, produce 20,000,000 tons of aluminium.
I want to lodge an emphatic protest at the alienation of Australia’s mineral resources. France and America have resources of bauxite, but the Americans are gaining control of bauxite deposits in Venezuela and the French are gaining control of bauxite deposits in the north of Australia and in the Cameroons in Africa. Both of these countries have ample bauxite for their immediate needs. I think the resources of France are something like 190,000,000 tons. Of course, it is cheaper for these people to dig the bauxite out from underneath the peasants in Venezuela and the aborigines in Australia than from underneath their own farmers in France or America. It is eminently foolish to allow this to be done in Australia. It is nonsense to say that mineral deposits have an unlimited potential. Mineral deposits have an absolute limit. Once minerals have been dug out of the ground they are gone for ever. Throughout the ages development of humanity has been associated with mineral development. Man passed out of the stone age and learned in turn to use iron, bronze, steel and aluminium. It is absolute folly for a nation to alienate its mineral resources. We want planned development of our bauxite deposits. We should bring them under Australian control so that they are used to the best advantage in the interests of Australia. At present the three large companies engaged in mining bauxite in Australia are Alcoa, in which America has a 51 per cent, interest; Comalco, in which America has a 50 per cent, interest; and the Pechiney company, whose Australian subsidiary, which is working the bauxite deposits at Gove, is totally owned by France. So Australia has a fragmentary control over its aluminium industry and its bauxite deposits.
I want to refer to (he way in which the bauxite deposits of the Northern Territory have been mishandled. In the Northern Territory are bauxite deposits of great value. When we consider the bauxite we must bear in mind not only its value as a raw material but also its potential. I will not at this stage deal with the position of the aboriginal people on whose territory I consider the bauxite deposits to bc, but let us consider the bauxite as part of Australia’s priceless inheritance and one which, once exploited, is irrecoverable. The leases granted this year cover 80,000,000 tons of bauxite as far as can be determined. That quantity is worth upwards of £200,000,000 at £2 12s. a ton. The 40,000,000 tons of alumina that can be produced from 80,000,000 tons of bauxite is worth the astronomical amount of £1,200,000,000, but the final 20,000,000 tons of aluminium which can be produced is worth, at current rates, between £4,000,000,000 and £5,000,000,000. This is an almost priceless asset but what are we charging for it? A ridiculous rate of royalty prevails in Australia on this mineral deposit. I cannot ascertain exactly what amount is being charged for the bauxite mined at Weipa or in Western Australia. Both places are under the control of Liberal governments which, having surrendered to some doctrinaire developmental ideal, are content to see holes in the ground. The bauxite of the Northern Territory is this Parliament’s responsibility. I understand that in the long run Australia will receive in royalties about £4,000,000 for the bauxite mined in the
Northern Territory. That amount will be paid over about 100 years. What will happen? The ships will come here from France. The bauxite will be dug out of the ground and carried, certainly in the first seven years, because the terms of the lease provide for this to be done, to Japan, France or some other country and a royalty of ( d. a ton will be paid to us. If that rate of royalty was the international standard perhaps one could forgive even a government such as this one.
– What will be the production costs?
– For the first seven years Australia will get nothing but a hole in the ground. It will be a quarrying process. I suggest that the honorable member for McPherson go back to his books. The first operation is to quarry the bauxite. It will be dug out of the ground in a major earthmoving operation. It can be carried away in bulk carriers. No Australian ships will be used. The bauxite will probably go to markets in Japan. Who will be paid to carry the bauxite in ships? Certainly Australian ships will not be used because this Government has seen to it that Australia does not have suitable ships for this trade. We have alienated to the French our right to exploit these bauxite deposits, for which we will receive a royalty of 6d. a ton. That rate of royalty may be satisfactory if it were the international standard, but let us see what the position is in other parts of the world.
There are tremendous deposits of bauxite in Jamaica. In 1957 the mining regulations in Jamaica were amended so that mining leases could be granted independent of the ownership of the land. At the same time the royalties were re-negotiated so as to require companies to pay 4s. a ton when production was less than 1,000,000 tons. Jamaica charges 4s. sterling a ton as royalties on its bauxite. We charge between 6d. and ls. a ton. In Jamaica royalties are charged on a sliding scale. Not only are royalties paid but also an acreage rate, a special tax and other assessments. If the bauxite is converted into alumina in Jamaica a royalty of 2s. 6d. a ton is paid on it.
At this late hour in the life of this Parliament I lodge a protest at the pillaging of Australia’s inheritance and of the deprivation of posterity of the right to develop it free and untrammelled by other considerations. Our three major bauxite deposits are being alienated to foreign companies. The deposit in Western Australia is being developed by a company 50 per cent, of which is controlled by American interests. The deposit in the Northern Territory is being developed by a company 100 per cent, of which is controlled by French interests. The deposit at Weipa is being developed by a company 51 per cent, of which is controlled by American interests. In the next six or seven years Australia’s home consumption of aluminium will amount to perhaps 100,000 tons.- We are making sure that the control of this production is in the hands of foreign companies.
This afternoon I want to ensure that the people of Australia as well as this Parliament realize what is going on. Too much mystery surrounds the development of this country’s resources. Too often are attempts made to sell us down the river. In respect of the bauxite deposits in the Northern Territory the lease is for 42 years. At Weipa the lease is for 99 years. The duration of those leases should cause every person in Australia a great deal of concern. In Western Australia our mineral deposits are being developed by the Japanese. The search for oil in this country is mainly in the hands of American companies. Our mineral deposits are the inalienable right of the Australian people. They must be handled with great care. It is possible for the deposits to stay in the ground for a long time without withering or decaying, but once they are alienated they are gone for ever. I lodge my protest at this priceless asset, worth £4,000,000,000 when converted into aluminium, being sold for £4,000,000 in royalties to be paid over perhaps 100 years. Once the deposits are exhausted we will have lost the opportunity to develop the technical skills associated with the manufacture of aluminium. Aluminium is the up and coming metal. Its significance in industry is increasing at a rate faster than that of any other metal. This Parliament should take steps to preserve for Australia the ownership and control of our mineral resources. We should sell our resources only in an orderly way. Why is it that the people of Jamaica can get seven, eight or ten times as much for their bauxite as we are asking? The guilty man in this situation is the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner), but every honorable member opposite will have to answer to posterity for the way this nation’s resources have been mishandled.
.- I do not wish to direct my remarks in the debate on the estimates now before us to national development but I cannot refrain from making some comment on the remarks passed by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) concerning bauxite deposits. The honorable member’s remarks were typical of the attitude of his colleagues in general to overseas investment in Australia. Their arguments follow the same pattern, no matter what excuse they use for raising them. Let us analyse briefly some of the comments of the honorable member for Wills concerning bauxite. He referred to Alcoa. I think the honorable member used the expression “ digging out bauxite from under the aborigines”. For the benefit o£ the honorable member I point out that the bauxite deposits in Western Australia are being mined, or quarried if he prefers the term, within 30 miles of Perth. They are not being dug out from under the aborigines. They are mainly in the forest country-
– I did not say they were being dug out from under the aborigines.
– You generalized, as the committee will remember. When asked by the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) what was the value of production, the honorable member answered by saying that for the first seven years Australia would get nothing but a hole in the ground. Perhaps he has not been to Kwinana in recent months. If he had been there he would know what a magnificent industry this is in Western Australia, which has been brought into existence as a result of the enterprise of the Liberal Government in Western Australia, of which the honorable member spoke disparagingly. Both the industry and the bauxite deposits are well safeguarded, as the honorable member knows. Both the bauxite industry and the Alcoa factory are situated in the Canning electorate and the factory has been estimated to cost in the vicinity of £30,000,000. It is a magnificent concern, which is already in operation. The very existence of that plant is of great value to Australia. If the honorable member wants to be critical, he should bear in mind the enormous value of the labour opportunities which have resulted from the establishment of this Alcoa plant. 1 do not want to dwell too long on this subject but I think it is remarkable that the Opposition, which has been in opposition for fourteen years and during that time has not been entrusted with responsibility for national development, should feel itself in a position to bc critical of this Government which has done so much for the progress of Australia.
The proposed expenditures now before the committee have been referred to previously, and it is not my intention to itemize them. I ask the committee to reflect on the enormous development that has taken place as the result of the activities of the Bureau of Mineral Resources. The honorable member for Wills was critical with regard to oil exploration and exploration for minerals, including iron ore and bauxite. Developments in those fields have been due largely to the enterprise of the Bureau of Mineral Resources. Countless millions of pounds have been expended on oil exploration, and this money has been spent in Australia. If that has not been to the benefit of Australia I will bc prepared to stand correction by the honorable member for Wills.
I wish now to deal with the vote for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which provides for a sum of £10,600,000. This shows the interest of the present Government in the development of Australian industry. We know that the C.S.I.R.O. devotes itself largely to the agricultural and pastoral interests but it also carries out research of value to very wide fields of industries. In these estimates prepared by the organization with the authority of the Minister, there is an appropriation of £10,600,000 of Treasury funds and in addition to this there is an amount contributed by industry. The greatest contribution by industry is something over £2,000,000 from the Wool Research Trust Account. This gives a total sum for expenditure by the C.S.I.R.O. for investigational and other purposes of approximately £12,500,000. That compares with the 1962-63 figure of £10,500,000 and represents an increase of about £2,000,000 over last year’s expenditure. The C.S.I.R.O. handles not only this appropriation from the Treasury, but also additional funds provided by the Government in order to assist other industries. A sum of £272,000 is allocated for research into agricultural industries or those having a bearing on agriculture and this money will be spent on such things as tobacco research, wine research and bread research. Funds are provided also for the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau, the National Association of Testing Authorities, the Institute of Oceanography and other international associations and organizations.
This year an amount of £272,000 is administered by the C.S.I.R.O. and is made available directly by the Commonwealth for the benefit of these industries. The organization is concerned mainly with research and it has oft times been said in the scientific world that research has not necessarily kept pace with development. If this is so, surely it has a bearing on my earlier comments in regard to national development. The development of. Australia is proceeding at such a pace that, with our limited manpower and resources it is virtually impossible to keep pace with the scientific development that is going on and a more intensive approach is necessary in both the agricultural and industrial fields.
On examining the circumstances we find that there are paradoxes galore. In agriculture, particularly, there arc many instances where a great deal of money and time are being wasted because insufficient is known of the most appropriate techniques which may be applied, particularly in the farming of arable land. A case in point might well be the use of superphosphate, which will be discussed later in the week in this House in connexion with the granting of a bounty of £3 per ton, which has been so widely acclaimed in Australia. It is freely admitted by scientists - plant nutritionists and others - that there is a lot to be learned, and this we accept. It is true that the more one knows, the more one realizes how much there is yet to know. This has application as much and possibly even more to the C.S.I.R.O. than elsewhere. In my view, this cannot be regarded as an indication of any failure on the part of research to keep pace with developments. But it illustrates that there is an everincreasing need for recognition of the demands that are being made on our research facilities.
It is obvious that there is an enormous amount of information which has been uncovered by research - and particularly by the C.S.I.R.O.- which has not yet seeped through to the practising farmer or industrialist. This is referred to on page 1 of the annual report of the C.S.I.R.O., where it is pointed out that, in order to take full value from the available information it must be used. I would here draw a parallel with what the honorable member for Wills said about minerals in the ground. Minerals in the ground have no value until they are put to use. So it is with this information. The information is useless until it is put to practical use and yields results. Perhaps one of the physical processes involved in this information not being utilized fully is that to which I referred last week during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry and to which I do not intend to refer again. Perhaps there is a need also for a more highly developed liaison system. One of the most useful departures made by the C.S.I.R.O. was its venture into liaison work as a result of which certain publications and films have become available and, possibly more importantly, very close ties and liaison have been developed with universities, departments of agriculture and similar agencies.
Another factor which undoubtedly has very great bearing on the rate at which research is undertaken is the flow of information from farmers, pastoralists and industrialists reporting the existence of problems. The theoretical sequence of events is that first there is an investigation by the Department of Agriculture to determine whether a problem really exists. If it is decided that a problem exists an attempt is then made to solve it. If the attempt fails, the problem is referred to the C.S.I.R.O. This is followed by an evaluation of the nature and degree of the problem, the allocation of priorities, the apportionment of funds, the appointment of staff and the determination of techniques. Obviously this process must occupy years. No blame for this attaches to any one, nor should this process be regarded as bureaucracy at work. It is just the process involved in the determination of these problems. In these fields the State committees of the C.S.I.R.O., the standing committee which has been set up to function with the Australian Agricultural Council and similar organizations have served a very useful purpose in assisting in liaison work and in preventing or obviating some of the delays which can arise in solving these problems. In fact, a measure of the effectiveness of the various forms of liaison is the fact that the C.S.I.R.O. has been led into some of its present difficulties by the allocation of funds for the appointment of professional staff to conduct investigational work without corresponding provision for facilities and buildings.
There appears to be a pressing need for more research work. Surely this is a very healthy sign. There have been ventures into new fields. The major share of the finance which has been allocated has been devoted to staff appointments, so that the already over-taxed accommodation in the C.S.I.R.O. now has become a limiting factor in its expansion. As an illustration of this expansion, according to the estimates staff engaged in the C.S.I.R.O. has increased by over 400 between 1962-63 and 1963-64. In my view it is to the considerable credit of the Minister that in these estimates funds have been allocated for particular investigational projects in which buildings and facilities are grouped as part of the actual project. The tropical pasture station at Townsville is a case in point. Funds have been set aside not only for investigational work but also for the buildings and facilities that go with it. This new system will be far more satisfactory for the C.S.I.R.O. and for all engaged in investigational work in these most important fields.
I pay a great tribute to the work of the C.S.I.R.O. and its officers. I have seen the result of its work in my electorate and I would like to make a fleeting reference to the work that the organization is doing with the introduction of legumes into dry land farming in Western Australia.
.- The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) very rightly directed the committee’s attention to the circumstances in which our bauxite deposits are being exploited. The financial contribution made to the development of this country from that source will be very small. The honorable member for Canning (Mr. McNeill) has said that a mineral has no value while it is in the ground. In the circumstances in which our bauxite deposits are being exploited, that mineral does not have very much value out of the ground. The investors who have been given the right to exploit our bauxite deposits and to remove the mineral from Australia already have ample resources of it in their own countries. The only conclusion to which we can come is that they want to use our deposits first and to keep their own in reserve so that when our deposits are exhausted they will be able to exploit the market without any opposition. We are not creating an aluminium industry by allowing the raw material to be removed from our country.
Admittedly in some instances employment is created for local people. For this we are very grateful, but we are fully aware that a great deal more employment would be created were the mineral processed as well as mined in Australia. The mineral is not even being removed from Australia in Australian ships. We do not possess a single overseas ship.
– Thank God for that.
– That may bc the honorable member’s opinion.
– What about the alumina?
– The production of alumina is only one stage in the production of aluminium. Let these other countries build in Australia not only their alumina plants but also their smelters and refineries. Let Australia at least get all the employment that is available from the treatment of its raw materials.
– Would you apply that principle to wool too?
– Why no!? I see no reason why wool should not be processed here. In examining the effect of the principle of the import of capital and the export of assets, let us consider the case of the island of Nauru. The people of that island lived there happily and could have gone on doing so for a thousand years or more, but it was decided that they needed the assistance of foreign capital and that their assets should be exploited.
– Do you think they are worse off now?
– Of course, they are worse off. Not only have they gained very little from the exploitation of their raw material but also every square yard of the surface of their island has been literally exported, with the result that the whole population soon will be moved to Australia and, incidentally, into my electorate. That is the good fortune of the people of Nauru - the only good thing about the whole affair. Who will pay the cost of resettlement? Not the companies which have been exploiting the phosphate deposits on Nauru. The Australian taxpayer will have to foot the bill.
– Have we not made a lot of money out of their phosphate deposits?
– The Australian people have made nothing out of it. The companies which have exploited the deposits have made the profit. Because we have shared in the exploitation of the island the United Nations expects us now to foot the bill to resettle the islanders in Australia. If the islanders are not very careful, when they settle on Curtis Island some one will decide that the mineral sands there need exploitation and they may have to move again. If the Government had taken any steps to use the royalties received for the exploitation of the deposits on Nauru to create a trust fund to be used for our development there might be some justification, but there is none. We were told what a grand thing it was for Queensland and for Australia when Mary Kathleen was discovered and exploited. The company put £14,000,000 into the undertaking. It built houses; it built a dam. It installed plant. It put in £14,000,000 and it took out £40,000,000 and then closed the project down. Now the only value of the place, so far as I can see, is that it will probably provide a fairly good Christmas dinner for all the white ants in the vicinity. This kind of thing is not permanent development, and unless we take steps to see that the royalties from these operations are adequate and are used to develop the country, Australia will gain little or nothing from them.
In central Queensland we have coal resources being developed, in the main, by foreign investors, the Americans and lately, of course, the Japanese, people whom, a few years ago, we were going to remove from the scene, people whom we were chasing around the jungle or, alternatively, by whom we were being chased around. Now they can come here and invest their capital. They were going to build a railway from Moura to Gladstone, which would have been an asset. It has not been heard of for a couple of years, and it is not likely to be heard of. It would cost these people £9,000,000 or £10,000,000, and they would then have to try to get that back by way of additional profits from the working of the Moura coal mine. Instead of building the railway, they get preferential treatment in respect of freight rates on the railways, and what they pay would not even cover depreciation.
– Who is going to use the coal?
– The coal might in the future, and in the present, be used in this country. It is just a possibility that the day will come when we will need some of these assets, when we will want to build industries on them. Probably a petrochemical industry could be created and expanded on the basis of the coal deposits of central Queensland. There are other things to do with your assets than dig them out of the ground and give them to somebody else. In the past this country has achieved permanent development by the exploitation of minerals. One of the reasons for the first big rush of migrants to this country was the discovery of gold, and you will find to-day that in most of the areas where gold was extracted we have developed rural industries which are permanent. But there is no permanent development around Mary Kathleen, and do not let anybody tell you that it is not possible to have permanent development there. If you have a look at that place you will find that a good water supply has been conserved, and when the full popula tion was there it was found that allthe necessary vegetables and fruit could be grown to provide for the needs of the local people.
– Where would you sell that produce?
– Where would you sell anything? If you are going to ask where we would sell primary produce, I will simply reply by asking where you would sell your wool or where you would sell anything else. First of all, let us get the population into the country. The best market that this country can ever get will be provided by migrants, additional population. It will be a market that nobody can take from us. Let us use these royalties to create conditions in which we can put people on the land. Bring people here and put them into the industries that our minerals can establish. Our bauxite ore is not being dug out of the ground to be sold in its original form. It will eventually be marketed as aluminium. It is not true to-day that the cost of labour in Australia precludes us from developing our own industries. Scientific processes are available now which make the cost of labour one of the minor factors in industry. If you go to Mary Kathleen and look at the open cut you will see that a great deal of work was being done by a very few people. I asked one of the engineers, when we were there, what number of people they would have to employ if they were not using the mechanical’ methods that were in operation. There were 400 people employed in the whole of the mining operations, and I was informed that in the open cut alone 1,800 men would have been employed if it were not for mechanization.
– Do you not want that mechanization?
– Yes, we want the mechanization. We appreciate it, and we appreciate it for this reason: It makes it possible for us here in Australia to exploit those assets, not only to extract the minerals from the ground but also to process them and export them as finished products. It has been said time and time again in this country, and in this House, that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited at Newcastle is able to put the best and cheapest steel in the world on the wharf. Here is an example of what Australian industry employing Australian workers can do. But what happens after you get the steel on the wharf? You cannot sell it even in New Zealand at a competitive price, because these same foreign investors control all the available shipping. They control the freight rates, so that steel can be brought from America and Japan to undersell us on the nearest market available to us.
This is what is going on in this country in respect of development, and it is high time that the exploitation of Australia’s assets was carried on entirely for the benefit of Australia’s population. It is quite possible for this to be done. I do not doubt that what applies in the case of steel could apply in the case of aluminium. I believe it would be possible for Australia to produce an aluminium product at least as good as that produced by any other country, and as cheaply. If it can be done with steel, why not with other minerals? In any case, in the final analysis it is the country itself that we wish to develop, and if we are going to send these mineral assets out of the country let us at least use what profits we can get from them to develop the country itself permanently.
The honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) wants to know what we are going to do with the things that we produce. Well, if we are going to adopt the attitude that there is nothing we can do with them, nowhere that we can sell them, because nobody wants them, then I ask: Where is our development anyway? Where will the future of this country lie if we have not markets? Admittedly we have competition in obtaining markets, but we on this side of the House believe that markets can be created here by building up the population of Australia as it needs to be built. We are only 11,000,000 people. We are small in numbers but we are not small in potential. We have the room and the raw material to build an ever greater nation than we have now. If we are going to produce food and clothing and mineral products for half the world, or a large portion of it, the very best we can do is to bring those people here, so that they can get the food and clothing more cheaply than if we have to export it to them. After all, we would then have a market that no one could cut us out of, which we would control entirely.
So in stepping up development let us step up our immigration programme. Let us bring more people here, but not in exactly the circumstances in which they now come to this country. People come here now and find that there is nowhere for them to live. One of our methods of developing Australia should be by building homes for our expanding population, so putting more of our people to work. We will then make it a country that people will not only want to come to but in which they will also want to stay. There is nothing the matter with the country; there is something the matter with the method by which the country is administered.
– Well, keep the Labour Party out.
– If you want to improve the position, put the Labour Party in - and I can assure you that in about five or six weeks the public of this country will do just that. We are not concerned with the profits that can be made from exploitation. We do not intend to adopt the attitude that we will develop the country if some one else will pay for it. This Government should be paying for it. We should be doing it for and on behalf of the people that own the country, and for and on behalf of the people who will inherit it from us, our own decendants and people like us who will come here in the future, and who would then have a country not merely as good as we have now but, I am quite sure, much better, because it would have been exploited and developed for and on behalf of the people who own it.
– The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray), in his speech, expressed great concern about the development of our natural resources, particularly in his home State of Queensland, which is also my home State. I assure him that every honorable member on the Government side is just as anxious to see our natural resources developed as is any member of the Opposition. I ask the honorable member, for Capricornia why Queensland’s natural resources were not developed while a Labour government was in power in that State. That is the crux of the question. We have known for years that all these natural resources - bauxite, iron ore and other minerals - were there; but no encouragement was ever given to anybody to develop them. It is only since the Country PartyLiberal Party Government has been in power in Queensland that encouragement and security have been given to people to develop those resources. They are being developed to-day to an extent which has never been known in the history of Queensland.
What is the inference to be drawn from the remarks of the honorable member for Capricornia and the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) - the two members of the Opposition who have spoken in this debate this afternoon? They have said that the resources should be retained for the benefit of Australia. We agree to a certain extent. The inference to be drawn from their remarks is that if the Labour Party gains office it will repudiate the agreements that have been entered into and the work that has been done. The result will be that the rate of progress in the development of Queensland’s natural resources will go back to what it was in the past’ under a Labour government.
The honorable member for Capricornia mentioned Nauru. He referred to the destruction of that island by exporting phosphate and so putting money into the pockets of foreign nations. He asked, “ Who has paid for that action? “ I ask him, “ Who has received benefit from it?” I should like the honorable member to tell me what would have happened to our great wheat industry if we had not been able to get superphosphate. We must remember that the wheat industry earns a considerable amount of export income which enables this country to pay for the imports that keep Australians in employment. Every man, woman and child1 in this country has an obligation to rc-settle the Nauruans in a convenient and decent place, because Australia has received benefit from the exploitation of the phosphate deposits on Nauru.
I shall confine my remarks on the estimates of the Department of National Development to the natural gas that is being exploited in Queensland and the results that could flow from its exploitation. I have in my hand a sample of oil from the latest well drilled near Roma in my electorate, which produced 750 barrels of oil a day. Anybody who wants to do so can see that this is the good oil. An internal combustion engine can be run on this oil, almost exactly as it comes out of the well. All that is needed is a simple filtration process. This sample came from a well about 100 miles away from the Moonie oil field, where oil was first found in commercial quantities in Queensland. We all know that oil will be flowing from two oil fields down to the coast by the end of this - year, and that two refineries are being built on the coast. That is what the discovery of oil has done for the development of Queensland. Nobody knows exactly what Queensland’s industrial future will be as a result of the discovery of oil.
I turn now to natural gas. Not much is said to-day about the natural gas potential of the Roma field. The estimated capacity of the natural gas wells that are flowing at present in the electorate of Maranoa is about 20,000,000 cubic feet a day. People are continuing to drill for gas. If this potential can be exploited to the extent to which it should be exploited - through the Queensland Government, with the assistance of the Commonwealth Government - there will be a great opportunity for the decentralization of industries in country areas. Components of natural gas provide the raw materials for plastics, resins, detergents, rubber, fibres and fertilizers. Chemical products from natural gas include ammonia, nitric acid, ammonium nitrate, urea and carbon black. Here is an opportunity to establish industries to produce those products on the field where the natural gas has been found. Here is an opportunity to provide employment for people in decentralized industries.
I should like more people to consider this question more seriously than it has been considered in the past. In the United States about 200,000 miles of pipelines carry natural gas to 31,000,000 homes and 100,000 industrial plants for purposes of power, heating and cooling. I could quote examples from various other countries. In France 2,800 miles of pipelines spreadeagle the country, carrying natural gas from the giant Lacq field. The proprietors of that field are partners with the Associated Group of companies in one lease in
Queensland and two leases in the Northern Territory.
It has been proved that natural gas, if a sufficient supply is available and industries use it in sufficient quantities, can be reticulated more cheaply than electricity. The indications in Queensland are that, as future wells are sunk and more gas becomes available, it will be possible to pipe gas to industries on the coast as well as using it in country areas. It has been proved that natural gas can be used in our power stations. One power station in Roma is using natural gas from the Pickanjinnie and Hospital Hill wells. The pressure at the bore heads at present is just as strong as it was when the wells were first used two years ago. The result is that consumers have been able to get a cheaper supply of power. That has been done on a full scale at Roma.
I know that the Department of National Development is very interested in natural gas. The Queensland Government also is very interested in it. In building thermal power stations near the coast, the Queensland Government has ensured that it will be an easy matter to transfer the power stations to natural gas when it is piped to the areas in which -they have been built. I could say much more about the potential of natural gas. I ask that the exploitation of the Roma field for industrial purposes be investigated much more thoroughly by the Commonwealth Government, in co-operation with the Queensland Government to enable us to exploit this power potential that is right at our door.
I want now to refer to recent criticism of the development of the beef cattle industry in Queensland through the provision of beef cattle roads in certain areas, We have discussed here for a number of years the transportation of beef cattle from the inland and remote areas. The provision of beef cattle roads is one of the finest projects that has ever been taken on by this Government, in conjunction with the Queensland Government, for the development of the cattle industry. About 80 per cent, of our export earnings from beef comes from Queensland cattle. About £20,000,000 is to be spent over a period of years on the construction of beef roads. I want to try to prove to the committee that this will make a wonder ful contribution to our economy because the beef roads will result in the saving of cattle which otherwise would die during dry times and droughts. In times of drought it will be possible to get stock out of the stricken areas quickly by motor transport. Millions of pounds will be saved. The provision of roads will mean the saving of aged female cattle which otherwise would die on the properties. There is at present no method of getting them out. There is some controversy regarding the provision of beef cattle roads in the Northern Territory, but I think everybody is agreed that the plan generally will be a good one for the development of the beef cattle industry in Queensland. Since I came to this Parliament in 1951 it has always been the policy of this Government to develop the inland and northern areas of Australia. It is only in recent years that this topic has become popular and has been used by some people as a political hobby horse. I do nol think it is right that politics should enter into these matters. We will never get anywhere in matters of national development if we introduce politics into them.
I have referred previously to the development of the Northern Territory. It is my belief - and I believe it is the belief of other honorable members - that the quickest way to develop the Northern Territory and northern Australia is to make Darwin a free port for all goods, but not for immigrants. The development of the north in recent years has gone on at a reasonably rapid rate, but in view of the circumstances which have arisen in the near north, something more must be done, and done quickly. Let us take a gamble. I know that if Darwin was made a free port, we would probably have black markets to a certain degree. But Darwin is 2,000 miles from the nearest big city and it would not pay people to conduct a black market in goods other than very small trinkets, where a black market probably already exists. I think it is worth while looking at this matter and investigating the possibilities if Darwin was made a free port. It lies within the power of the Commonwealth to do this, and I think it would be in the interests of northern Australia. It would give rise to far quicker development than is occurring now. The north would be the cheapest place in Australia to live in. This would entice people and industries to go there. In view of the technological advances made in recent years, I believe that the possibilities of the quicker development of the north are really worth while.
.- I was rather intrigued by the statement of the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) that politics should not be allowed to enter into the subject of national development.
– I did not say national development. I was referring to beef cattle roads.
– All right. The provision of beef cattle roads in Queensland is due completely to what happened in that State at the last election, when the Government was nearly put out of office. That is the only reason why money was made available for beef cattle roads. Furthermore, it was said only last week by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that a certain amount of money would be invested in flood control work on the northern coast and the southern coast of New South Wales. The Prime Minister stated that investigations had shown that the expenditure of about £5,000,000 in those areas would increase the ‘ net annual return by £9,000,000. Having in mind an early election, members of the Country Party were ready to hop on the bandwagon and gain what they could from this expenditure. That was national development, but members of the Country Party chose to play politics in relation to it.
– Tell us about the port of Iluka.
– The honorable member mentions the port of Iluka. I am referring to a matter raised by the honorable member for Maranoa, who has some “ hifalutin “ idea that politics do not enter into these things. Of course they do. I can assure honorable . members that if it were not for pressure from the people, we* would not have seen anything like the last Budget. We would have had a budget similar to the budgets produced by the Government in the past when it had a majority of 34 and thought it was riding high.
– You admit it is a good Budget?
– It is a carbon copy of Labour’s policy. The point is that we have a big country to develop. The matter of mineral wealth has been mentioned this afternoon. The policy of the present Government is to allow other countries to exploit the God-given mineral wealth of this country. It is not the policy of the Government to allow Australia to develop its minerals to the point at which they are usable by the people. It is prepared to allow our minerals to be exported for processing in Japan and other countries. We are already paying, on our exports, about £300,000,000 in freights to overseas shipping companies. The great wool industry has had to face up to the burden of increased shipping rates. The honorable member for Maranoa talks about development, but the Government that he supports is prepared to allow overseas interests to make a rabbit warren out of our country by taking out its wealth. There is an old saying about killing the goose that lays the golden egg. The Government is taking the gold and leaving the dead bird.
– Do you say that about Mount lsa?
– The honorable member might be all right when it comes to producing a few old hayburners! Some of them go to the knackeries and a few to race-courses.
The TEMPORARY Cif AIRMAN (Hon. W. C. Haworth).- Order! If the honorable member for Cowper were to address the Chair we would progress much more quickly.
– I am speaking about the exploitation of our country. I have never believed that Australians should be treated like people working in the cotton fields, picking cotton for somebody else. T believe we should reap the benefit of our resources. The question, was raised this afternoon, as to why we should hot produce secondary products from wool and sell them as other countries do. Not even in his wildest dreams would any one argue that America does not occupy the strong position she does to-day because of the fact that she made the fullest possible use of her own natural resources to exploit the markets of other countries. Although the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) said in answer to a question addressed to him by me the other day that, so far as he was aware, no rural industries had been taken over by foreign interests, he did go on to say -
However, in recent years there have been a number of take-overs in the food processing industries and some of these have involved manufacturing plants in the country. The following list gives a selection of some of the take-overs which have occurred in the food processing industries in recent years . . .
Upon perusing that list I find that no fewer than 32 Australian companies have been taken over by overseas interests. I find from the list that Streets Ice Cream Proprietary Limited, McNiven Brothers Proprietary Limited and J. P. Sennitt and Sons Proprietary Limited have been taken over by Unilever Limited of the United Kingdom. I find, too, that the Campbell Soup Company, an American company, has taken over KiaOra Industries. We are not even allowed to make our own corn flakes and other foods. As J have said, a total of 32 companies engaged in processing our primary products have been taken over by overseas interests.
– Is Peters mentioned?
– As far as I can see, Peters is not mentioned in the list, but I remind the honorable member that the list was furnished to me by the leader of his party, and if it is inaccurate I am not surprised. My point is that these companies were owned originally by Australians, that they were developed into going concerns by Australians, but now they have been taken over by overseas interests and no doubt the profits derived from them are not being used for the benefit of Australia.
We hear much about national development. Let me emphasize that national development does not mean development in a few central areas along the east coast of Australia or around the big cities. We also hear much about our immigration policy, about the need for populating this country. I could not agree more with the need to do that because if we do not increase our population, and quickly, other peoples might populate’ Australia for us. We can never hope to progress so long as we neglect to develop our mineral resources, so long as we simply ship our mineral sands, our gold and other natural resources overseas, and so long as we ship pig iron and coal overseas only to buy back the steel manufactured from those raw materials. Already we have seen the spectacle of this Government sending pig iron and coal to Japan and buying steel from that country despite the fact that Australia is reputed to be able to make the cheapest steel in the world. We have the resources and the ability to develop these deposits ourselves. If we have not got the knowledge needed to convert our primary products into the secondary products necessary for this country, we could soon obtain it. We should have learned by now from history that those countries which have remained completely rural have never gone ahead and succeeded in the way that the countries which have developed secondary industries have done. So long as we continue to allow our minerals to be taken out of the country we can never hope to progress.
Geographically, I suppose there is no country more Asian than is Australia. We have potential markets much closer to home than we ever dreamed of having a few years ago, and the people in the countries close to us are now’ beginning to exploit our natural resources. I do not blame them for doing so if we provide the opportunities for them. If this Government or any other government is prepared to see Australia white-anted by overseas organizations simply in order that it might live for to-day, without any thought of to-morrow, then we cannot blame others for seeking to exploit the opportunity we offer to them. Such a government would be merely adopting the philosophy of the Australian aboriginal that if he has a wallaby to-day he must eat it to-day and let to-morrow look after itself. That seems to be the policy of this Government, as is demonstrated by the fact that it allowed an overseas company which spent £14,000,000 to exploit our uranium deposits at Mary Kathleen to take out at least £40,000,000 from that venture, and then to shut it down until such time as it suits the overseas interests to open it up again. Another example is to be found in the exploitation of our mineral sands along the east coast from Port Macquarie to’ the Gold Coast of Queensland. We all know that there the leases were gradually taken over by American companies under various names and, when enough material was stockpiled, the workings were closed down, and as a result this natural resource is worthless to-day. I put it to you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that if proper supervision had been exercised over the development of our mineral sands those undertakings along the coast would have still been in operation and giving a great deal of employment to the people in the various areas.
– Does the New South Wales Government not control mining royalties?
– A moment ago I spoke about honorable members opposite hopping on the bandwaggon. I notice that the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has returned to the chamber and is interjecting. All I can say to him is that flood mitigation work must be of great benefit to the nation. It is of extreme importance to every Australia. I remind the honorable member of the story from the Bible - perhaps he docs not remember it - of the gentleman named Judas Iscariot who had the decency to hang himself after he had sold out his master. That fate should befall the honorable member for Richmond, who has sought to gain political capital out of the flood mitigation problem.
.- It is a pity that the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren), who has been advocating that our minerals and other primary products should be processed in this country and that the profits made from the processing should be retained in Australia, did not make himself aware of the fact that one section of the Labour Party is pursuing one policy and another section of the Labour Party - the Labour Government of New South Wales - is pursuing another policy. I remind him of the actions of the New South Wales Labour Government in connexion with the cotton-growing project at Wee Waa. I remind him of the fact that when a number of returned servicemen wanted to establish small farms to grow cotton there the Labour Government of New South Wales handed over the whole area to an American company which was financed entirely by American money. That company did not engage these returned men to grow cotton and almost the whole of the profits derived from the undertaking were remitted overseas. That project probably did help fo develop that part of New South Wales, but I believe that if honorable members opposite advocate a certain policy they must see to it that both the governments which they control advocate the same course. Honorable members opposite should bc quite clear on what constitutes the policy of their party in the States before they advocate certain actions in this Parliament.
It will be remembered that when I was discussing the estimates for the Department of National Development last year I spoke of the need for the Materials Handling Division and the expansion of that division. I am very pleased to note that this year the Government is making provision in the Budget for a considerable expansion of this division, and has realized the tremendous job that it is doing in furthering the progress of the nation. I congratulate the division on its work.
I hope that when this Government is returned on 30th November next it will take heed of what I am about to say about the’ development of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The subject to which I wish to turn my attention to-day relates to research and the expansion of research and development in the industrial field. This matter is reviewed very ably by the C.S.I.R.O. in its annual report for the year 1962-63, which contains the following interesting passage: - . . if the community is to benefit it must itself respond to the challenge of opportunity which science presents. The new knowledge must penetrate deeply and widely throughout industry. The goal of full industrial development can be attained only if industrial leaders have the vision and ability to turn the knowledge which science provides into activities of economic consequence.
Later the report states -
The increasing interest in research and its practical use by those industries concerned with tha processing of minerals or of the products of the land is encouraging. There is, however, much room for improvement - the extent of this research is not great if assessed in terms of its potential value to overseas trade and to the economy in general.
The Australian manufacturing industries, which have expanded so remarkably under the stimulus of overseas and local investment and through the ready availability of overseas technology, face particular difficulties in using Australian discoveries as sources of new processes and products. There is a growing awareness that, if Australia is to compete in world markets in terms of price, novelty, and quality, research by industry itself with such objectives is essential.
I believe that the results of the expenditure by the organization in the past few years have been extremely valuable. As the annual report of the organization states, this expenditure has borne fruit particularly in the fields of primary industry and mineral development. However, I think that there are certainly other fields in which manufacturing industry can make greater use of the results of the research work of this body. 1 believe that, as a nation, we should be doing much more to encourage the work of research and development in manufacturing industry.
As I have shown, the problem has been outlined in the annual report of the C.S.I.R.O. The matter was taken up also by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) when the committee was considering the estimates for the Department of Trade last Tuesday. He said -
Clearly, the Government in Australia must make up some of the deficiencies of private research. Because so many of our companies have beer financed from overseas, or are affiliated with overseas companies, foreign investors believe that they do not have to pay for so much research in Australia. They do not carry out research for Australia’s needs or for the needs and potential of Australia’s export markets. Therefore, the Government in Australia must undertake to make up the shortcomings of private investors and private industrialists who have come increasingly in recent years from overseas or have been tied to overseas principals.
I believe that that is the wrong approach to this vital problem. As always, we have the Opposition saying: “If there is a problem to be solved, the job must be done by the Government. We must increase research. We must take all these things out of the hands of private enterprise and do the job ourselves.” Is this really the solution to the problem?
This problem has been exercising the minds of governments not only in Australia but also in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The “Economist” of 5th October contains an interesting article that deals with this problem. Mr. Wilson, the Leader of the Opposition in the United Kingdom, it seems, also has come out with a similar policy on the development of science and the. encouragement of research and development in manufacturing industry. I presume that this is why the Deputy Leader of the Opposition here has suddenly decided to jump on the band-wagon. Apparently, Mr. Wilson has suggested that the right answer is to create a super science ministry under the control of a Labour government. The “ Economist “ poses the question: Is this the right answer? It goes on to state -
Science at government level consists of a group of private empires with sometimes a frighteningly high degree of autonomy.
I think that we have only to see the tremendous growth in the private empire of the Atomic Energy Authority in the United Kingdom to see how science, sponsored by a government and with very few reins on its expansion, can expand with a frighteningly high degree of autonomy and absorb a very high proportion of the few scientists that are available in any country. If we allow governments to have a completely free rein with science, we are likely to find the whole field of science becoming completely unbalanced. I notice that this was mentioned in a report presented to the United Kingdom Government recently by the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy which, as the “ Economist “ states - reported sadly at the beginning of the year that the sharp rise in research spending in Britain, from 1.7 to 2.7 per cent of gross national product in five years, “might be held, at least in part, to reflect a failure of production to respond to increasing investment in research and development “. And this covered a period when the proportion spent on military research was falling, and that on civil research was rising.
The answer, I believe, is not to be found in increased governmental expenditure on research and the building of private empires with little rein on their expansion. I believe that the answer is more likely to be found in another observation in this article in the “ Economist “ to the effect that the need is for schooling and industrial training to be recast to produce a new generation of managers and men who are conditioned to adapt themselves to rapid technical change.
The Labour Party in the United Kingdom has set out to deal with this problem by greater governmental control. A much more interesting means of tackling the whole problem is to be found in the report on economic growth made to Congress earlier this year by President Kennedy. I should like to quote from this report, which appears in the report of congressional proceedings for the week ended 25th January of this year. In this report, President Kennedy proceeded to elaborate the problem and to advocate certain proposals, as follows: -
The Government has for many years recognized its obligation to support research in fields other than defense. Federal support of medical and agricultural research has been and continues to be particularly important. My proposal for adding to our current efforts new support of science and technology that directly affect industries serving civilian markets represents a rounding out of Federal programs across the full spectrum of science.
Since rising productivity is a major source of economic growth, and research and development arc essential sources of productivity growth, I believe that the Federal Government must now begin to redress the balance in the use of scientific skills. To this end I shall propose a number of measures to encourage civilian research and development and to make the byproducts of military and space research easily accessible to civilian industry. These measures will include:
Development of a Federal-State Engineer ing Extension Service;
New means of facilitating the use by civilian industry of the results of Governmentfinanced research;
Selected support of industrial research and development and technical information services;
Support of industry research associa tions;-
The next proposal, I think, is perhaps the most important one -
Together, these measures would encourage a growing number of scientists and’ engineers to work more intensively to improve the technology of civilian industry, and a growing number of firms and industries to take greater advantage of modern technology.
Mr. Temporary Chairman, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has attempted to lay the blame for the lack of research and development in Australian manufacturing industry in the wrong quarter. There may be some overseas-owned firms lagging in research in Australia, though others, such as Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited, are well in the van. Nor do I believe that the answer is to extend governmental organizations. I believe that the immediate solution to this problem is to be found in measures such as those proposed by the United States President, and particularly the adjustment of income tax laws to give business firms an additional stimulus to invest in research and development.
I think that all of us, on both sides of the chamber, agree on the need for the expansion of research and development in industry and for further development of the basic research that has been done by bodies such as the C.S.I.R.O. We must take it from there by means of pilot schemes and developmental projects and apply this research to the actual production of new goods by Australian industry, especially for export. However, we on this side of the committee differ from the Opposition on the way in which this research should be encouraged. I believe that this will bc a major topic for debate in the future. Let us be quite certain of the pitfalls that lie ahead if we attempt to follow Labour’s policy. If there is one field in which individual initiative must be allowed to flourish, it is the field of industrial research and development in Australian manufacturing industry. Let us hope that Australian manufacturing industry will be given all the encouragement that it needs to expand its research and development activities in the years to come.
– There is a good deal, of merit in the speech just made by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson), but I am afraid that he is rather inclined to look at manufacturing without paying attention to what seems to me and to most other honorable members to be the real need of national development. It is true that we must develop our secondary industries and that research is needed if manufacturing costs are to be kept at a level that will enable our products to compete successfully on the world’s markets. I suppose it could be said that the economic future of Australia depends to an extent on the development of secondary industries, if Australia is to become the kind of nation that we all hope it will. Some of us think in terms of a future America. I again say that there is a lot of merit and wisdom in the thought that our secondary industries cannot hope to succeed unless our manufacturing industries can compete with other countries.
Although I am vitally interested in the development of secondary industries, I am inclined to believe that, with world affairs as they are, our first and major effort should be directed to developing our empty north. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) was somewhat disturbed in another debate a short time ago because of the kind of reference I made about an exploration party of members from the Government side that he had taken into the north. I think he misunderstood the point I was trying to make. No reference to the need for transport was made in the report that I saw of the exploratory tour of the north of these Government supporters. Not to consider transport is to run against the advice that the Government received from its own authority at least len years ago. 1 have often marvelled at the ease with which the Government has been able to forget the report of the Australian Meat Board of 1953.
I was looking to-day at some records relating to the construction of the Commonwealth Railway for 1,000 miles from Kalgoorlie to the South Australian end. I saw some photographs of camels, which were used to carry sleepers for the construction of the line. At the time when camels were used, a railway of 1,000 miles was constructed in a little over five years. As I recalled this, I thought again of the 1953 report of the Australian Meat Board. If the Government had studied the 1953 report, had heeded the warnings and acceded to the call for progress contained in it, Australia would have been much better able to fit into the pattern of world affairs as they are to-day.
I want to read a few short paragraphs from the report, which was presented to this Government, so that honorable members will know how the board felt about the development of the north. I again express my surprise that, a decade after the report was presented, we can look back and find that nothing was done about it. Dealing with transport facilities, at page 33 of the report the board said -
During the year the Board continued to press for improvements in transport facilities throughout
Australia. It felt that in many areas live-stock wagons and refrigerator trucks were inadequate to cope wilh heavy demands which would be made in the event of an emergency such as a drought, and it considered that the condition of existing trucks, in many instances, was below the desired standards.
The board went on to say - lt is the considered opinion of the Board that a prerequisite for proper development of the remote areas of Australia is the extension of railway facilities on a strict priority basis.
This report was not prepared idly. In recent times, I have had cause to check the basis of it. It can be accepted by the committee that the report was prepared only after the chairman of the board, who still holds that office, a highly skilled technical officer, Mr. Robertson, and another officer who knows the part played by the meat industry in the development of Australia in the past, Mr. Harry Tancred, had travelled over the area from Bourke to Darwin to see the technical difficulties that were associated with rail construction in the area. When the board prepared this report, it had before it all the data that these officers had collected. After dealing with priorities, the board said -
The importance to the beef cattle industry in Northern Australia and indeed to the national economy as a whole of these projects is set out herein, together with the basis reasons and justification for constructing such lines. lt is requested-
This is a request made to this Government by the Australian Meat Board a decade ago - that the construction of the top priority line from Dajarra-North West in the Barkly Tablelands be commenced as soon as possible.
Quite apart from economic considerations the Board understands that Australian Government policy requires the population of Northern Australia to be increased for strategic reasons. In the opinion of the Board the only way in which population can be increased in the first instance is through the development of the beef industry. For this development to take place on a significant scale it is essential that adequate transport facilities bc provided for this area.
I propose to refer to one or two other important sections of the report. 1 thought that the honorable member for Macarthur has these matters in mind when, together with other Government supporters, he loured the northern areas in a chartered aircraft. I was disappointed to find that he and his colleagues did not refer to transport in their subsequent reports. The Australian Meat Board’s report continues -
Railway extensions to serve the cattle breeding and fattening areas of Western Queensland and the Northern Territory have been advocated by various national and local groups so as to increase the quality and number of cattle turned off from these areas which represent a great undeveloped beef potential.
The report states further -
Mr. A. L. Rose, Chief Veterinary Officer, Northern Territory Administration, has made a close study of the potentialities and requirements of the Northern Territory and at conference last year -
That was 1952 - of the Australian Veterinarian Association held in Brisbane, Mr. Rose inter alia made the following statement. “ Although the Northern Territory comprises about 500,000 square miles, nevertheless it is safer and surer in regard to rainfall than any large or small district throughout the length and breadth of this continent. Advanced progress iri production of beef in the Northern Territory could not be expected unless or until adequate basic transport facilities were provided, and only an efficient railway system would be adequate to discharge such a task. Queensland’s hunger for Northern Territory store cattle would be appeased if we could project the railway line from Dajarra into the Northern Territory as far only as Soudan, a distance of some 230 miles, and for every 50 miles of extension beyond Dajarra the greater would be the return in production to the Northern Territory, to Queensland and to Australia in general. …”
The report went on to deal with the importance of railway transportation in opening up and improving cattle areas in the north. At that time diesel locomotives were not operating. The use of diesels has revolutionized rail construction in Australia. If this Government had listened in 1953 and even if the rate of construction had been in keeping with the days when camels were used in rail construction, we would to-day have a standard-gauge railway feeding cattle from the Northern Territory to Townsville and Rockhampton. This would have led to an increase in the population of those areas of Queensland. There would have been an inflow of stock and an extension of the killing season. In addition, for an outlay of less than £100,000,000 spread over ten years we would have had a uniform rail gauge extending from Darwin through Townsville, Rockhampton, Brisbane and Melbourne to Adelaide, which would have been of immense value for defence purposes. Here we are in 1963 talking about national development but a clear decade ago one of our own authorities laid down a pattern of development and described it as most essential for the north if the north was to succeed.
This Government, which is nearing the end of its days, has not taken one step to implement the policy of national development laid down by the Australian Meat Board. If the Government had undertaken to spend £100,000,000 over ten years - £10,000,000 a year - on rail construction the population of Capricornia would have increased instead of decreased, as it has, at the rate of 1,000 a year, because full-time employment would have been available for all those people who want to work in northern Queensland and help to develop that area of Australia. This Government stands indicted for its failure to pay any attention to one of the most comprehensive reports ever presented to this Parliament on the subject of national development. On 30th November next there will be a change of government in Australia. Before the next decade is over the incoming Labour government will have implemented the suggestions of the Australian Meat Board in the interests of national development.
– I do not propose to become involved in an argument with the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) about the desirability of a railway through the areas to which he referred. I have looked into this very matter for many years. I certainly would not suggest that the idea of such a railway is silly but I would suggest that it is silly for the honorable member to base his argument on a 1953 report. The justification for the Dajarra extension is to take store cattle from the Barkly Tableland district and also from the Victoria River district. The honorable member should know that the natural outlet for those cattle is through the new meat works at Katherine and at Darwin.
– I had only fifteen minutes in which to speak.
– The honorable member could have referred to this aspect because it destroys to a large extent the economic reason for the extension of the railway.
Even at election time we should exercise some discretion in making statements and I propose to refer to those made by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) who said that in his opinion the phosphate industry had mined Nauru to the detriment of the Nauruans. He stated that private
Industry had taken the phosphate rock from the island and had put nothing back. He implied that private industry had done an evil thing. Nobody should make such statements without a full knowledge of the facts and I do not think the honorable member was fully aware of the facts. Phosphates produced from Nauru are allotted in the proportions of 42 per cent, to the United Kingdom Government, 42 per cent, to the Australian Government and 16 per cent, to the New Zealand Government. Australia gets 42 per cent, of the phosphate mined on the island. The honorable member for Capricornia claimed that we pay nothing in return. Australia pays 2s. 1 Id. a ton to the island on the phosphate allotted to her. Of that sum 7d. goes to the Nauru Royalty Trust Fund for the welfare of native inhabitants. In addition ls. 4d. goes to the land owner, who happens to bc the Australian taxpayer. Most of the revenue so earned goes towards helping the Administration of Nauru. The sum of ls. goes to the Nauruan Community Long Term Investment Fund. I do not think there was any vicious motive behind the remarks of the honorable member for Capricornia. I presume - I am being as charitable as I can - that the only excuse for making such a statement was ignorance.
J rise mainly to deal with the estimates for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. As Australians we are almost fanatically proud of the organization. Over the years I have had close contact with the work of the organization in many fields. I give way to no one in my admiration of the work the C.S.I.R.O. has done and in ray appreciation of the work it has yet to do. It would take a long time to analyse the annual report of this organization, so I will not deal with it in detail, but I am glad to see that the dairy research section has been made a division. When I was in Great Britain, in 1961, I was interested to find with what high regard the head of this section, Dr. Loftus Hill, was regarded. He was recognized in Britain as one of the foremost scientists in dairy research. I am glad to see that the excellent work this section has done has now been recognized by making it a division.
It would bc invidious for me to attempt to go through this report in a quarter of an hour and pick out any particular section to discuss. However, I want to pay tribute to the scientists who work in outlying places. I have had a great deal to do with them over the years in Katherine, in the Coastal Plains Research Station, in the Kimberley Research Station and so on. I do not say that the scientists in the outlying places have any more virtue than have the men who work in the less remote parts of the country, but their work is often done under uncomfortable conditions. It is pleasing to note that the new variety of rice which the Coastal Plains Research Station has developed looks promising. That is the kind of thing we will need before we make any large step forward in rice production in the north.
Enough of praise! Let us now look at some of the difficulties which face the C.S.I.R.O. in its future development. First of all, let us ask what has made it so successful. I think there are two reasons for its success and the first of them is the charter under which it works. As honorable members know, the C.S.I.R.O. is not subject to the usual Public Service Board control. It has a one-line budget and has freedom to make up its mind and come to decisions in a way which other arms of government cannot. That freedom has been of great help to it. The second factor which has helped the organization is the leadership under which it has worked. Running briefly down the list we find the names of Richardson, Rivett, Ross and now Sir Frederick White. They are a group which any country would be proud to recognize as being in the forefront not only of scientific research but also of scientific administration. What does this mean for the future of the C.S.I.R.O.? I think, for reasons which I will give, that size will bring its own problems in an overwhelming degree.
Last year, the taxpayers put into the organization funds amounting to about £13,000,000, £9,900,000 as a direct appropriation and £1,800,000 from government payments into research funds. I think the report would have been even better if it had made that point clear. This gave a total government contribution of £11,766,000. The funds made available to the C.S.I.R.O. are increasing every, year, and should increase as a measure of the amount of work which the organization has yet to do. However, if the vote increases each year as it has in the past, that will bring its own problems.
First, there will be the problems of size. The charter under which the organization works, making it free from Treasury control in a narrow sense, means that it is able to make quick decisions, but that advantage will be watered down as the organization grows bigger, and its arteries will harden as its size increases. The problems of size and of bureaucracy will become increasingly important and more formidable as the organization grows. The second advantage which this organization had - and still has - in the quality of its leadership will be less important as growth increases. It is a source of perpetual wonder to me how the executive of the C.S.I.R.O. can now control such a vast organization, composed of scientists who are not always particularly easy to administer. I am not saying that this has happened yet, but if the organization is to continue to give the tremendous service to Australia that it has given in the past, particular attention will have to be paid to how it is to be administered efficiently and enthusiastically in future as it expands.
What are we going to do about it? How must we meet this problem? Many people say that we should split off the secondary industry research functions and the primary industry research functions. I am not in a position to give a firm opinion on that view, but it is not easy to delineate where the division between secondary industry and primary industry should lie, because science can spread over boundaries drawn in that way. However, it is a possible solution of the difficulty. The other suggestion I put forward, with more confidence, is that the universities ought to be given a bigger place and a more clear recognition of the part they can play. I foresee that there will have to be closer liaison between the universities and the C.S.I.R.O. The liaison is not bad now, but it will have to be made better. One of the greatest problems which the organization faces is that, because of its past successes, it has attracted unto itself a glamour - almost an air of infallibility - and an ability to get money, which the universities do not always get, with which to pay high salaries. This works to the disadvantage of the universities, in some sections, and leads to an increase in the size of the C.S.I.R.O. which, in my opinion, could be dangerous.
– You advocate more money for research in universities?
– Yes. The rather easy criticism is made that the State departments of agriculture, in particular, should be whittled down and that the C.S.I.R.O. should now do much of their work. But that is not so. The honorable member for Canning (Mr. McNeill), with his expert knowledge, dealt very effectively with this question. The State departments of agriculture have a great part to play and it would be a tragedy for Australian agriculture if their functions were whittled down in order to let the C.S.I.R.O. do their work. This is a particular challenge as far as agricultural extension services go. The honorable member for Canning paid a tribute to the liaison section - as I do also - because it is excellent, but we should not give it the job of extension services to the farmer.
All State departments of agriculture are not of the quality of that in South Australia, particularly with regard to extension services. I think South Australia leads the Commonwealth in the quality of its work in this field. But even realizing that the other States have not the advantages which South Australia has in this regard, I believe it would be a fatal mistake to take away their responsibility and whittle down their resources. They must have facilities for applied research even though they perhaps need not do fundamental research. Unless they are given the facilities and encouragement to do applied research, the best men will not be attracted into those departments and, the wells of enthusiasm will dry up. These are the problems that face us in this field. I repeat that I yield place to no one in my admiration of the C.S.I.R.O., but from now on we must begin to examine what will be the position in the future.
No one will deny that there are problems to be solved, but let me say quite clearly that if they are sought to be solved by an enlarged C.S.I.R.O. I see a danger of hardening of the arteries - of spending more time in co-ordinating research than in carrying out research - and of Parkinson’s law taking over. This is a challenge to us. We all know the scope for future research in the fields of primary and secondary industries. Do not let us drop all the problems into the ample lap of the C.S.I.R.O. and say, “ You carry on from there “. This matter must be tackled with a great deal more thought than most of us have given it so far.
.- This afternoon we were given a remarkable illustration of the Government’s failure to plan national development. It will be remembered that in 1961 the House passed bills to revive the States Grants (Encouragement of Meat Production) Act, sponsored by the Chifley Government in 1949. Separate acts were passed then to make grants to Western Australia and Queensland for the construction of beef cattle roads. In 1962 an amending act was passed in respect of Queensland. In July of 1962 the Cabinet approved an estimated total expenditure of £4,570,000 on a beef roads scheme in the Northern Territory. None of these schemes was co-ordinated. The Parliament was given no report on the investigations which had been made into the necessity for these schemes. The Parliament has since been given no report on the work that has been carried out or on the effect of the work. This afternoon, however, the Public Works Committee presented a report concerning the beef roads scheme in the Northern Territory. Rather, I should say it presented a report concerning one-fifth of the beef roads scheme in the Northern Territory. Most of the scheme in the Northern Territory was withheld from consideration by the committee because work had already started on the roads. The committee, however, protested in strong terms, saying that ail the work should have been subject to its investigation. Accordingly, it was allowed to investigate a proposed beef road from Top Springs to Wave Hill. The committee has submitted a majority recommendation - a Government member voted, with the Labour members of the committee - that it is inexpedient to proceed with that work as proposed.
I might be forgiven for recalling that I made a reference to this matter in my speech on the Budget. Two days later the chairman of the committee, the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean), said that my statements were untrue. It is very grave for an honorable member to make a personal explanation which is not true. The statement of the honorable member for Robertson may have been true in a quibbling sense, but it certainly was not the whole truth. Any honorable member who reads the committee’s report will see that the honorable member for Robertson was not frank with the House when he made his personal explanation. The quibble that he made was that the committee was not already making an adverse report, as I had said. He said that the committee had not commenced its report. That may be true, but there had been discussions and votes in the committee before I spoke, and I gave the House correctly the tenor of those discussions and votes.
– You are pretty good.
– I was truthful. I claim to be no more than that. But the honorable member for Robertson did not tell the House the whole truth. He tried to put the House off the track. If honorable members read the report of the Public Works Committee they will see how he attempted to mislead them. On 29th August he said that the committee had decided to call for more evidence before starting to draft the report. The report shows that fresh evidence was given to the committee on 19th September. This was additional evidence by a witness who had already twice given evidence before the committee in June and July. Honorable members will pardon me for recounting the facts because the honorable member for Robertson did not tell the truth in the personal explanation that he made to the House. However, the important thing is that the committee’s report shows very clearly that beef roads in the Northern Territory should be co-ordinated one with another and also with the beef roads which this Parliament is financing in Western Australia and in Queensland.
Honorable members on this side of the chamber have shown considerable interest in this subject and, in particular, in the need to create a northern development authority to co-ordinate the public works - the developmental, communications and conservation works - in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. In 1959 and 1960 the Queensland Government made many requests and submitted many proposals to the Commonwealth for assistance in constructing beef roads. In fact, in November of I960, the Department of National Development, whose estimates we are now debating, issued a map, through its Resources Information and Development Branch, showing the routes of the roads which the Queensland Government had suggested as subjects for Commonwealth grants. The routes of those roads are mentioned in a question which I put on the notice-paper and which was answered on 16th May last. In 1961 the Commonwealth made grants for only some of those roads. In 1962 it made further grants to black-top those roads, but at no time has it entered into a commitment to construct all the beef roads which the Queensland Government sought in 1959 and 1960 and which the Australian Meat Board and Bureau of Agricultural Economics had recommended. As a consequence there is no overall plan to link the breeding and the fattening areas in Queensland or in the Northern Territory and Queensland.
– Yes, there is.
– If you look at the question I asked you will see the request that the Queensland Government made to the Commonwealth. If you look at the act you will see what the Commonwealth undertook to do. The Commonwealth has entered into no commitment for an overall plan. It has rejected the specific request made by the Queensland Government. If the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) - one of the few surviving Ministers from Queensland - looks at the department’s map, he will see in black, white and red the roads which were sought by Queensland and rejected by the Commonwealth.
– The Commonwealth has agreed to construct some of them.
– The Commonwealth has agreed to construct some of them but there is no overall plan and no linking of the breeding and the fattening areas. There is an extension, like an outspread hand, from some of the railheads. That is all that has been done. There is no link between the roads in the Northern Territory. This afternoon the Public Works Com mittee reported to that effect. There is no co-ordination between the Western Australian and the Northern Territory beef roads schemes. In fact, one of the roads in the Northern Territory which was withheld from the committee’s consideration runs to the Western Australian border. It is clear that we need a northern development authority to investigate the developmental, communications and conservation works in the tropical parts of Western Australia and Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Another instance of the absence of planning is in respect of the Ord River. It will be remembered that when presenting this year’s Budget the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) announced that he was making further provision for expenditure in Western Australia during the next three years. Tha amount provided was to be for various projects, including further supply and drainage channels and associated works within the first stage of the Ord River irrigation project. It is quite plain from the objectives stated by the Treasurer, and from the amounts that he has sought from the Parliament, that there is no commitment to complete the Ord River project. In fact there is a promise that if this Government has its own way, for another three years there will be no possibility of completing the Ord River project.
– Do you mean the main dam?
– Yes. The main dam has been fully investigated by the relevant departments in Western Australia. They have investigated its siting, its construction and all matters concerning conservation, flooding and erosion caused by such a dam.
– Have you read Dr. Davidson’s report?
– No, I was in consultation with the engineers and scientists from the Western Australian departments who were on the job, who had made the reports in the Kimberleys themselves. They could go ahead this financial year with the main dam. The plans have been made, the type of construction has been settled, and all the investigations of the earth and the rock and the river have been completed. One of the features of the main Ord River dam is that at least 30 per cent., and as much as 40 per cent., of the water that will be impounded by it will flood into the Northern Territory, or will be at such a level that it can be used for conservation only in the Northern Territory. On 28th March of this year I received a reply to a question that I had asked, upon notice, of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck). I had asked -
What negotiations have been held or arrangements made with Western Australia concerning inundation and irrigation in the Northern Territory in consequence of the Ord River scheme?
The Minister replied -
No negotiations have been held or arrangements made on this matter but discussions are to be held with a view to making an arrangement . . . regarding cattle stocking . . . and . . . siltation in the Ord River dam.
No plans whatever have been made for using the water in the Northern Territory. The main dam will be, and the present barrage is, quite close to the Northern Territory. Could one have a better example of short-sightedness than in the Government’s going ahead with a project to this extent, without having any plans as to how the water from it will be used, and announcing, when the physical factors are in readiness for constructing the main dam, that for three more financial years no steps will be taken to complete the job?
Now I come to the general overall position on the development of the north. We clearly need some northern development authority in this connexion. The Government has, over the years, adopted the attitude that it will not appoint such an authority. The present Minister’s attitude has been that the Government should get behind individual projects as they arise, or that it should back specific propositions. The Minister for Labour and National Service, when he represented the Minister for National Development in this House, categorically stated, “I do not think it is the function of the Commonwealth Government to develop an overall plan “. Admittedly he said that three years ago, but the Minister for Territories was asked, at a press conference last July -
Has the Government given any consideration to the appointment of a national commission or alternatively to transferring the Snowy Mountains Authority to the large-scale development of North Australia?
To this question the Minister replied, and later circulated a roneoed copy of his reply, so he was apparently well satisfied with it: -
No consideration has been given to the particular question of the future of lbc Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. The general question of the appointment of a commission for the development of Northern Australia has been previously considered. The view taken by the Government is that a commission is suitable for the carrying-out of a definite project involving large-scale engineering or developmental works. A commission is not suitable for exercising general governmental responsibility in a particular region.
At least the Minister for Territories was consistent and stubborn in this matter. The Minister for the North-West in the Western Australian Government, the Honorable Charles Court, in a “Four Corners” telecast in July last - this was under the former management of “ Four Corners “ - said that the Western Australian Government had been very enthusiastic about a northern development authority since 1959, but that the Commonwealth was not very keen on the idea. The Western Australian Government, therefore, has been promoting this idea for four years. The Opposition in this Parliament has been promoting it for certainly longer than that. When Mr. Hanlon and Mr. Wise were the Premiers in Queensland and Western Australia the Chifley Labour Government set up a northern development committee. Some commission must be set up again. It is necessary to retain the skills and equipment of (he Snowy Mountains Authority. Most fruitful conservation work has been carried out in Australia under federal auspices by the River Murray Commission and the Snowy Mountains Authority and in the United States by the Bureau of Reclamation. Such authorities provide a constitutional, political and financial basis for co-ordinating the development of our two tropical States and of the Northern Territory.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I do not intend to take up much time in replying to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). I am afraid I cannot accept his statements about some matters, particularly about the Ord River scheme. I think we all realize that in connexion with this project in northern Australia there is a great deal of experimentation to be carried out before we proceed to the second stage. I would like to quote from an article by Mr. E. J. Underwood, Director of the Institute of Agriculture of the University of Western Australia, appearing in the “West Australian” of 21st October, 1963. He said-
In no country in the world is this more apparent than in Australia but the findings of scientists and engineers, as well as the view of political leaders, must be subject to continual economic scrutiny if we are to make the best use of our great resources and make our greatest contribution to a hungry world.
Obviously a considerable amount of work has to be done in this area. We would be very foolish to rush in and build the main dam until we know something more about the position.
I am also unable to accept the honorable member’s statement regarding Queensland beef roads. We have accepted the fact that there must bc priorities in Queensland. We have never rejected, to my knowledge, the Queensland Government’s plan in relation to these beef roads. They are being constructed in accordance with a list of priorities, and I have no doubt that when it is necessary, and when the projects on the list of priorities are completed, further development will take place.
I had intended to speak about a matter that I think we should take a good deal more interest in. I refer to the conservation of wild life and native flora throughout Australia. We have been very haphazard in our attitude to this matter in the past. Our early settlers gave no thought to it. This was reasonable when one considers the other problems that they had to deal with, but to-day we are thinking more and more along the lines of conservation. Unless something is done we will lose many valuable indigenous specimens of both flora and fauna. To-day we have at least 229 species of Australian, mammals and 600 species of birds. Some species have already become extinct. Quite a few others are tending in that direction. The birds are of very great value to us. I am speaking from an agricultural point of view. In recent years in Australia, pests have become troublesome, whereas years ago they never worried us. I refer to various insects, caterpillars and grasshoppers. I believe that the present position has been brought about by the indiscriminate slaughter of birds and animals in the past. Obviously, it was not the intention of our forebears to bring about this position. They took that action more or less for self -preservation.
We were unfortunate enough to introduce rabbits to this continent. They have always caused considerable damage in the pastoral and agricultural industries. I recollect that during the First World War and just after it, a drive to destroy rabbits by poisoning was introduced in Australia. People who know something about this matter will remember that baits were laid over miles and miles of pastoral country. Those baits certainly took their toll of the rabbits and to that extent had an effect on the plague, but at the same time they poisoned tens of thousands of our birds, such as magpies, which in their turn had taken a great toll of the various insects which have since become troublesome. In a sense, that drive broke up the whole ecology of that section of the natural order. In 1927 a Queensland government licensed 10,000 trappers to trap koalas. In a period of one year 600,000 koala skins were checked by the government authorities.
– What government did that?
– I did not intend to bring politics into this speech, but in reply to the interjection I inform the honorable member that it happened to be a Labour government. Destruction on such a scale was no credit to that government. To-day, the koala population is increasing in some areas of Queensland, although it is nowhere near the size it was before 1927.
Fortunately, people are interesting themselves in the preservation of wild life. More and more Australians are thinking along those lines to-day. In my electorate Mr. David Fleay, who was connected with the Healesville sanctuary in Victoria, has established a very interesting sanctuary or reserve on the Queensland Gold Coast. It is a tremendous attraction to overseas tourists. But he is not receiving very much help. He is in the same position as every one else; he pays tax on his income, although I do not think he makes very much, and he has to pay land tax and council rates. He is putting up a very good fight not only to preserve animals but also to find out something about them. No doubt some honorable members have read his very interesting articles.
Unfortunately, the States and the Commonwealth are approaching this problem from various directions. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is probably making the greatest contribution. Unfortunately, too, we in this Parliament do not hear very much about this aspect of the work of the organization. It is doing excellent work in trying to find out the breeding and feeding habits of birds and animals. As I said, all the States have their own laws, and there does not seem to be very much co-ordination. I hope the Commonwealth Government will give a lead by endeavouring to co-ordinate some of these activities.
Many problems are arising in relation to the control of the waters of Australia. I have particularly in mind the Snowy Mountains scheme, which will limit the flow of water into the MurrayDarlingMurrumbidgee area. That area is a great breeding area for the water fowl of south-eastern Australia. Unless we can conserve the water which normally flows down those streams, floods the swamps and enables the birds to reproduce in very large numbers, the scheme will have repercussions all over Australia.
As a farmer, I have a particular regard for the ibis. In my part of the world those birds appear in thousands at times. They are tremendous workers in destroying pests which trouble agriculturists. I believe that great value - not only agricultural value but also aesthetic value - can come from seeing birds and animals. I refer to a C.S.I.R.O. article which quoted the following comment of an Australian psychiatrist from the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 24th October, 1957:-
A city child probably needs three months a year in the country to balance the effects of the “ concrete jungles “ on his mental stability. . . . It is hard to imagine that mature minds can develop in city children who have been denied these influences of nature.
It will be very unfortunate if Australian children have to go to zoos to see Australian birds and animals.
In the few minutes that remain to me I wish to refer to another matter which concerns the C.S.I.R.O., namely, tick eradication. The policy of the organization was bent on eventual tick eradication. It determined to begin in north-eastern New South Wales and to extend its operations north through Queensland. It appears to me that there has been a change in the policy from eradicating the tick to breeding a tickresistant animal. That idea sounds attractive until you give it some thought. It means that we have to change our attitudes and our methods of breeding.
– What are you talking about?
– The honorable member would not know anything about this matter. As he comes from Queensland, one would think that he would be interested in it, because ticks cost Queensland £10,000,000 a year. But he represents a city electorate and this is no concern of his. The C.S.I.R.O. ‘s change of policy means that we will have to disrupt our breeding programme. I suppose it has taken hundreds of years to produce the breeds of animals that we have to-day. If we follow the new policy, we will have to produce a new breed of animal. I cannot see a very profitable future in that. That is one factor.
This is another factor: If we are to produce these tick-resistant animals, will we remove the restrictions on the flow of cattle into New South Wales, where there will still be cattle which are not resistant to ticks? We will not overcome this problem by proceeding along those lines.
– There is plenty of tick in my area.
– Let us hope that the honorable member will take a little more intelligent interest in this matter than he has taken so far. After all, an election is coming up. I understand that he represents quite a large section of our rural people. I am sure they would be interested in my remarks. This is a very serious matter, particularly for Queensland. I hope that there will be a great deal more research into tick eradication. It is very disappointing to the Federal Government, and particularly to the Department of National Development, that better results have not been obtained. It has been a very costly process. About £500,000 a year has been made available for tick eradication in north-eastern New South Wales. Tick has been eradicated in certain areas, but the scheme has not been completely successful. A committee has been formed to find out what went wrong. Let us hope that the work of the committee will be pushed ahead with a great deal of vigour. Tick eradication is very important to the cattle areas in north-eastern New South Wales, and is particularly important to the great cattle-producing State of Queensland, where, as I have said before, the cattle industry loses £10,000,000 a year because of cattle tick.
– The Department of National Development plays a very important role in development within Australia. However, I do not think that it is playing nearly as important a role as it should be playing. That is not because of a lack of projects to work upon, but purely and simply because of the inadequacy of the funds provided by the Government. 1 was very interested in the last report - or the last one that 1 could find - put out by the department on major developmental projects in Australia. It is dated June, 1962. I was very surprised to see that so few undertakings were being pursued by the Commonwealth Government. Most of the work described in the publication was started by and is being carried out by State governments. It is a pity that the Commonwealth Government is not more active in national works. In the case of State works, the Commonwealth Government provides some of the funds, and in some instances it provides most of the funds. If a State Government starts a project, it benefits that State.
The Commonwealth has direct responsibilities for some areas within Australia which should lead it to set about doing more developmental work. Looking at the department’s publication, I could see very little evidence of real development at work in Australia to-day. It is certain that very little is going on within the area with which I am chiefly concerned - northern Australia. In four-fifths of the area of Australia nothing is being done about water conservation. Some water conservation schemes are proceeding - the Kununurra scheme on the Ord River, the Camballin scheme in the east Kimberleys, and the Mareeba-Dimbulah project in north Queensland - but in most of the area of Australia nothing is being done in this field.
In the Northern Territory we have an interest in the Ord River scheme. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr.
Whitlam) has referred to information he has been seeking from the Government as to the share of the waters of that project which will accrue to the Northern Territory. I have asked questions on the subject and have not been able to get an answer. The Northern Territory contains a considerable area of the watershed of the Ord River. When the scheme is completed, a lot of the water will spill back into the Northern Territory. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has pointed out that the Commonwealth Government has no understanding or agreement with the Western Australian Government on how the water from the scheme is to be shared or who is to receive the major portion of it. No water conservation scheme of the type of that on the Ord River is going on within the Northern Territory or, as far as I know, on any other river system in northern Australia. This is the position despite the fact that the rivers in northern Australia hold over twothirds of the fresh water on the Australian continent. Nothing is being done to conserve their waters, except through the Ord River scheme and the one or two smaller schemes which I have mentioned. If you conserve water, you can do a lot of things with it. We know of the agricultural potential of northern Australia and of the possibilities of pasture improvement. The honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) said that we must hasten very slowly because of the difficulties associated with development. We have been hastening very slowly for 40 or 50 years in northern Australia.
– We have come to a stop.
– I think that virtually we have stopped. It is time that somebody had an injection of electricity or something of that sort and got on with the job.
In the latest report of the department there is no reference to hydro-electric projects in northern Australia. There are few water conservation schemes and no hydro-electric schemes. There are no gas projects there similar to those found in other parts of Australia. There is no railway construction proceeding in northern Australia as there is in other parts of Australia. The careful planning of the Government in relation to railway construction is remarkable, it brings schemes to light every three years, just before ah election.
Programmes for railway construction in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, by a remarkable coincidence, have been brought to light just before an election.
There is a bridge in the Kimberleys area, over the Ord River. There are beef cattle roads schemes in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia, but I do not know of any road in these areas - with the possible exception of Queensland - that has been sealed. The roads are formed out of dirt, to a reasonable standard, but the logical step of putting a hard top on the roads is not taken. In these days of heavy traffic, with motor transports hauling huge loads of cattle, the roads pack up in no time. As soon as they are formed they start to deteriorate. They are affected by floods, and by the hammering of heavy traffic in hot weather. It is not long before they almost cease to exist as roads. In most of the areas of northern Australia it is futile to construct roads without sealing them. If we are to be involved in large expenditure on road construction to the standards laid down at present, then, to preserve our initial investment, we ought to finish the job completely by sealing the roads.
No port facilities are being built except at Wyndham, Weipa and Koolan Island off Western Australia. The maps printed in the department’s publication are remarkable for the blank spaces shown around the northern coastline - from Rockhampton in Queensland to Fremantle in Western Australia. All these things add up to the fact that this Government is not seriously tackling the problem of national development. The Labour Party has in its policy the setting up of an authority similar to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, as outlined to-day by our Deputy Leader. As one means of tackling national development we started the huge Snowy Mountains scheme. We did not tackle it on a daylabour basis or by the normal governmental processes of construction. The magnitude of the scheme called for special steps to be taken. The first special step was the setting up of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. So far, £300,000,000 has been spent on the scheme and additional expenditure is to be incurred later on. This scheme is over half completed now. What is to happen when it is finished? We feel that an adjunct of this authority should be established in the north in order to preserve the nucleus of scientific workers and to attract other skilled men. I know that the argument put forward in government circles is that the setting up of authorities to implement these schemes represents a delegation of parliamentary authority. I do not agree that it does. I think that the setting up of such authorities merely represents the implementation of policies that have been laid down and approved by this Parliament. These authorities are the contracting bodies which do the work that is proposed initially by the Parliament and that is approved finally by it.
Nor can it be argued that the setting up of the authority I advocate would mean the imposition of another civil service upon an existing civil service because within our Commonwealth departments and possibly the departments of some of the States there are already officers capable of forming the basis of the organization I propose. Again, we have scattered over the north from Western Australia, through the Northern Territory into Queensland men who have gained a lifetime of experience of the conditions under which such an authority would work. They all could be brought in to work with this body. The authority should do the planning, and this Parliament should then approve of the plans and provide the finance on a long-term basis. Ordinary day-to-day budgetary provisions would be absolutely useless in a project such as this. We all have had experience of how projects have failed in the past. We all know how, after hundreds of thousands of pounds and sometimes millions of pounds have been set aside for a specific project those allocations have been merely a flash in the pan because they have not been followed up with further moneys, with the result that the projects have failed and the moneys originally provided have in effect merely been poured down the drain. If a project such as the one I envisage is undertaken we must make sure that it will be carried through to completion. The only way to ensure that it will be completed is to set up a commission or authority competent to do the work. It is of no use to entrust the work to ordinary government instrumentalities, because in the ordinary civil service there are often too many aggravating, wasteful and futile delays which retard progress. This fact was realized when the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority was established. There can be no short cuts in the ordinary civil service.
I have said that the establishment of a developmental authority for the Northern Territory has been a plank of the Labour Party’s policy since 1949. It was a plank of my policy when I first entered this Parliament. The anti-Labour governments of Queensland and Western Australia agree wholeheartedly with it. They have not the resources to do these jobs on their own, nor have they the technical knowledge necessary to carry them out. Therefore, it is a matter for co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth. It will be necessary to establish an authority to work in co-ordination and co-operation with the Commonwealth Government in order to carry out in the coastal areas of the northern parts of Western Australia and Queensland those projects which the State governments are unable to do on their own. This will mean the provisionof Commonwealth finance to assist in the work and the establishment of an authority to carry it out.
We shall be facing another election in a few weeks’ time. Once again the Labour Party will go out with this proposal in the forefront of its platform. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) has stated that the development of northern Australia has been made a political football. I agree with him that it has been, but I suggest that unless you make it a political football you will have no chance of kicking it between the goals. We are eager to make this question a political football because it is the only way of making people sit up and eventually take note of the needs of the north. Men who understand what is required in the north, men such as Professor Sir Douglas Copland, and Mr. Warren McDonald of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, all agree with our proposal. The Australian press also supports it. The people of Australia wholeheartedly agree with and will endorse our policy for the development of the north of Australia by an authority such as the one I have suggested.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Sitting suspended front 6 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. Chairman, I suggest that it may suit the convenience of the committee to consider next the proposed expenditures for the defence services and to consider those expenditures together.
– -Order! Is it the wish of the committee to consider the proposed expenditures for the defence services as suggested by the Minister?
– That course will be adopted.
Department of Defence.
Proposed expenditure, £2,007,000.
Department of the Navy.
Proposed expenditure, £54,509,000.
Department of the Army.
Proposed expenditure, £78,317,000.
Department of Air.
Proposed expenditure, £80,518,000.
Department of Supply.
Proposed expenditure, £30,539,000.
Proposed expenditure, £2,756,000.
– Mr. Chairman, the record of this Government on defence has been one of procrastination, confusion and waste. The waste is the inevitable result of the confusion and procrastination that characterized the Government’s attitude towards defence. What the Government proposes to do always rests on paper and, with airy words, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) summons non-existent battalions out of the purer realms of make-believe in which he and his Government move.
– The Defence vote is the vote that you kept on wanting to cut.
– We never at any time wanted to cut this vote. I challenge the Treasurer to find one occasion over the last fourteen years on which the Australian Labour Party has voted against one item of defence expenditure Let him find one if he can.
– You put it in your policy speech.
– I did not say anything in my policy speech about cutting defence expenditure by one penny. All we want to do is cut the Treasurer out of his job. All we want to do is remove this Government from the treasury bench. I think we have a case on the issue of defence that is as good in 1963 as was the case that we had in 1941.
Sir, we all know the sorry story of the national service training scheme. In 1956, Sir Philip McBride, who was then Minister for Defence, could bring himself to say -
I believe that National Service Training has been one of the greatest achievements of this Government.
Yet the Government later abandoned the scheme! I think that Sir Philip was right in the circumstances. But what an achievement for the Government! The military experts - and even the Government’s own supporters - know what a mess, what confusion, the defence policies of this Government have been at every stage of its history over the last fourteen years. Let me quote the late Lieutenant-General Gordon Bennett, who said - lt is ridiculous to talk of an Australian Army at all. Our Army is neither equipped nor trained to defend the vast open spaces of our continent. The whole thing is too silly for words. Our first line of defence, the Air Force, is very weak.
– When was that said?
– In May, 1962. Let me quote the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) - a distinguished soldier, a man who, year in and year out, has tried to serve his country by his warnings, according to his lights, and who has not hesitated to state his views frankly and forcefully. He has become the Cassandra of this Government - doomed never to have his warnings heard. In a signed article published in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ - my favorite newspaper - on 29th January, 1963, he stated -
If Australia is worth living in, it is surely worth defending . . . Australians will not be satisfied with the first faltering steps represented by the purchase of one extra guided-missile destroyer, and four submarines to be used largely for anti-submarine training, and which will be delivered in 1966 and outmoded by 1970, if not before.
And let me tell this story: In February, 1963, a meeting in Sydney of representatives of the New .South Wales branch of the Liberal Party of Australia discussed defence. - The following statement is taken from the March issue of the “ Liberal “, the official organ of the New South Wales branch of the party. I do not know how respectable the New South Wales branch of the Liberal Party is, but, at least, it has an organ of its own, and this is what that organ stated -
This Government has been in office for thirteen years and is now caught with its pants down. We are not spending per head one-half of what Britain is spending or one-sixth of what the United States is spending.
I believe I heard somebody say, “ Who said that?” It was said by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). In reply to the honorable member, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) said -
Even if I were given £50,000,000 more now, I would not have the people to spend it on.
That is the state of our defences. What an admission for the Minister to make! Let him rise this evening and defend himself if he can.
Let me quote the Minister in charge of another department. Senator Gorton, who is Minister for the Navy, as reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 30th January, 1963 - almost nine months ago - said -
The Navy has been allowed to slip, and has been allowed to get into the doldrums and to slip from the level at which it should have Deen kept.
The Minister who said that is still in the Government. He admits what we have said - that the Navy is not in the state of preparedness at which it ought to be maintained!
– After this Government had been more than thirteen years in office!
– That was after this Government had been more than thirteen years in office, as the honorable member so sagely remarked.
As a final indication of the attitude that passes for defence thinking in this Government, I refer to views expressed by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson). He was a fine soldier, but what has happened to him since the Menzies miasma settled on him like a blight? Speaking in this chamber on 3rd April, 1963, on a proposal that this Government should do something to develop northern Queensland, he said -
If you want to provide a really good communications system of railways and roads for pui enemies to’ get right to our heart, that is the best thing you can do. As a man who has had some experience in these matters, I can think of nothing more dangerous than to provide an efficient transport system for our enemy to use to get to our heart without having a proper defence force to ensure that we can use that transport system.
– Who said that?
– lt was said by the Postmaster-General. ] now turn from the world of fantasy in which Ministers seem to move, and I shall give some noteworthy facts, Sir. In 1951-52, Australia spent 4.3 per cent, of the gross national product on defence. That was at the time of the Korean War, when the Prime Minister said that we must be prepared for war that might occur within three years. In 1962-63, we spent 2.7 per cent, of the gross national product on defence. In this year of grace, 1963, we are spending on defence at the rate of only 2.7 per cent, of our gross national product! If Australia were to restore her defence spending to the scale of four years ago, we would now be spending about £350,000,000 a year on defence - over £100,000,000 more than is provided for in the estimates that we are now considering. Yet the Government says that it is defenceminded. The Prime Minister in May last presented what he called a new, expanded and revised programme for defence. My time does not permit me, unfortunately, to go through the whole question, but I have colleagues here who will expose the nonsense that honorable members opposite have talked about defence. If defence is to bc an issue in the coming election, scarcely one honorable member opposite should be allowed to come back into this Parliament. If this is to be the issue, all members of the Government parties who have supported the Government and its rake’s progress over the past fourteen years ought to be defeated. 1 hate to see so many of my friends opposite looking so glum as I say that.
Let me ask a simple question: Is the threat to Australia’s security greater now than it was tcn years ago? If so, why are we not spending as much as we were spending proportionately len years ago? If the threat is not as great, then what is the basis of all the talk we get from the Prime Minister? On Australia Day this year, 1 said on television that ‘ Australia °- had virtually no defences and that the Government alone was culpable. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) attacked me on the cheap and absurd ground that 1 was, if I may use his own elegant language, “ rubbishing “ the men of our forces. His reply was surely one of the most extraordinary statements ever made by a senior Minister. The Minister for Defence, who is now absent from Australia on an important mission overseas, maintained that what [ had said was a criticism of the way in which the Government had mishandled a major national problem. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 30th January, speaking of the Minister, said -
He needs to be reminded that the Opposition Leader has not only the right but the duly to do so. If Mr. Calwell failed in this duty the charge of irresponsibility could be fairly levelled al him.
The next day, the Minister returned to the attack and made this astonishing remark -
Perhaps we could or should spend more on defence than we do.
The present Minister for Defence said this as recently as 31st January last. But we are allocating no more for defence in this Budget at this critical time than we were spending on 31st January last.
Let mc give the most complete, because it is the most recent, example of the Government’s hypocrisy on defence matters. On 24th October, 1962, the present Minister for Defence announced a so-called three-year programme. Justifying his programme, the Minister said -
The Government realises that the greatest wisdom and judgment must be brought lo bear on defence expenditure these days. Many extravagant views are canvassed. From many points come demands for larger expenditure. I emphasise that this programme has been formulated on the basis of strategic requirements and up-to-date intelligence assessments of the threat. We have nothing in Australia to-day with which to defend ourselves. There is no anti-aircraft protection for Melbourne or Brisbane and very little for Sydney. There is no radar protection for any capital city outside Sydney, and in Sydney it ceases at 5 o’clock every night and nobody works over the week-end. That is the state of our defences. If this Government is left in power and war comes, all that Australia will have with which to defend itself are boomerangs and broomsticks, the same as it had in 1941 and early 1942. If we are going to have a proper defence force, then let ‘tis face up to the issue.
We did not raise this question. We have been attacked for having no defence policy. When the election issues are finally joined and when we go on to the hustings, we will prove that we have a far better defence policy than this Government has ever been capable of devising. If defence is the issue, we will win, as we did in 1943 and 1946. As far as defence is concerned, all I can think to remind the Government of are the words of Alexander Pope, who said -
Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be, blest.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to-night has been befuddled, as always, with words. For the first time - we are delighted to hear it - the honorable gentleman suddenly becomes interested in the defence of this country. To-night the Leader of the Opposition is eating some of his own words and some of the words of his supporters. A change of heart by the Opposition is very welcome, but this kind of repentance does not entitle the Leader of the Opposition to come down with the kind of criticisms of the defence performance of this Government that he has hinted at to-night. He will plead that he has not had time to develop them. If he did have time to develop them, I would hope that he would go to less dubious sources for his anecdotes than he did. I should like him to go over the history of his own party, to go back to the days only a few years ago when Dr. Evatt, speaking for the Australian Labour Party, wanted to cut £50,000,000 out of this country’s defence vote. In this sort of situation, can the Leader of the Opposition first accuse us of waste and then accuse us of not spending enough money?
The honorable gentleman in a speech some little time ago, I chink on the Budget, charged that this Government had produced no defences. It is sufficient to show the steady development of this country’s defences over the entire period of fourteen years that the Liberal and Australian Country Parties have been in office, to have regard to the fact that we have kept every defence commitment and to note to-day’s advanced level of defence equipment, which certainly would never have been achieved if plans had not been followed to fruition. Under this Government, Australia’s defence has progressed by a series of threeyear plans, each leading to development and expansion and each flexible enough to phase in new equipment where that should be necessary and to be expanded, as in recent months, in the face of a change in the strategic position.
The honorable gentleman may care to look at some figures. A little later in the evening I propose to have distributed to honorable members a defence report for 1963. Of course, honorable members do not have to wait for this document to know the facts of defence expenditure and how it is allocated. When honorable gentlemen opposite read these statistics, no doubt for the first time, they will find that, depending on the service, some 32 per cent. to 48 per cent. of the entire defence vote is taken up in pay and civilian support. Opposition members say that we have nothing to show for our defence expenditure. It would be a poor business indeed if this money were not appreciated as having bought for this country an enormous corps of skilled, dedicated and experienced fighting manpower. That is the result of this section of the expenditure.
If it is true that this country does not have any defence, how is it that we have been able to stand up to every defence commitment over the years that this Government has been in office? Do we overlook the fact that the Royal Australian Air Force and all arms of the services were busy in Malaya supporting the British Commonwealth Strategic Reserve? Do we forget that the 78th Fighter Wing went to Malta in the ‘fifties to assist in guaranteeing the stability of the Middle East? Do we forget that Australia was first in the Korean affair, where some 17,000 good Australian servicemen of all arms fought against Communist aggression? This is history. In more recent times we have sent lighter squadrons to Ubon at the invitation of the Thailand Government to assist in maintaining the stability of that area. We have an army training group in Viet Nam, once again at the invitation of the Government of that country.
If we have no defence, as the Australian Labour Party charges, how have we been able to take men from the standing army and the. standing services to fulfil these commitments to our allies in the trouble spots of the world? Sir, here is the best evidence that during this Government’s term of office Australia has been at any time in a position to defend itself. But in more recent times there has been an enormous change, not only in the strategic situation with which we need to cope but also in the methods of warfare and indeed in the equipment of warfare. It is not a bad idea to keep these things in mind when one ‘tas regard to the size of the armed forces and the standard of their equipment. Back in the days when the Labour Party was in office there were weapons for the defence services. These days there are no longer any simple weapons; we have weapons systems of the most extensive, most complicated and most advanced kind. Our need for trained man-power has doubled. The cost of defence services has more (ban doubled. The long period of planning necessary before equipment may bc bought and phased into service with the defence forces has more than doubled.
Let us look at what has been spent on defence in past years. In the past ten or twelve years about £760,000,000 has been spent on equipment. That sum has provided about 600 aircraft of more than six types for use by the Royal Australian Air Force. Fortunately some of those aircraft have come from our defence factories. All this has helped to up-grade Australia’s capacity to defend herself. For the Navy we modified our carriers to increase the mobility of our Army. We have produced destroyers, frigates, minesweepers and support vessels. We have built shore installations of every kind and adequate for the task to be done. Soon the Charles F. Adams class guided missile destroyers will come into operation. This is the picture of upgrading our naval strength, which gives new heart to this country should there be a defence emergency.
When one looks at the Army one sees that there has been a tremendous change, not only in the numbers of men in training and in permanent service, but also in the standard of their equipment. The FN rifle has been introduced to the Army. Its production in this country has contributed enormously to Australia’s continuing security. We have the 9-mm. machine carbine, the M60 heavy machine gun. the 105-mm. pack howitzer, the 106-mm. recoilless rifle, the 81-mm. mortar, armoured fighting vehicles, heavy earth-moving equipment and dredging equipment. We had none of this equipment in the last war, but in the kind of war in which we would move if there were a crisis we would need a most extraordinary array of heavy engineering equipment. If we are to provide for the mobility of our Army we must have, as we have in Australia to-day, landing ships, water craft, amphibious equipment, long-range heavy transport and short takeoff and landing aircraft for close support. When we look at the way this country’s defences have developed in the last few years we become aware of the enormous number of firsts that have taken place during this Government’s terms of office. The first jet aircraft came into service in the last few years. We have jet fighters, jet trainers and jet bombers. Our first supersonic aircraft and the first of the modern short takeoff and landing aircraft are about to come into service. We have moved into the guided weapon age and have developed enormous competence and some fine equipment in this field. We are about to produce a. guided anti-submarine system - a product of Australian research. I may tell honorable members, if they do not already know - they should - that this weapon bids fair to be the envy of the rest of the world and, I would think, is being adopted by many of the world’s navies. This is the kind of weapon that is coming from defence research. These weapons are going into use with our services and strengthening the armies and navies of the free world. Australia in this way is making a vast contribution to the defence of the free world but particularly to the defence of the area of Australia’s influence.
I freely admit that all of these things were not available when the Labour Party was last in office, but nothing alters the fact that these things have been put into service by this Government. It ill behoves the Leader of the Opposition to denigrate Australia’s defence protection at a time when a lack of due appreciation of Australia’s defence capacity in other countries in this neighbourhood would be dangerous to Australia’s best interests. I have pointed out that what the Labour Party is prepared to promise at the present moment - it is a kind of death-bed promise - this Government has been doing for fourteen years. This indicates that this Government has always been many years ahead of the Labour Party in its thinking about the need for defence in this country. It is not so many years since certain honorable members opposite, including the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and others whose names I cannot recall - their remarks are recorded in “ Hansard “ - advocated that all we need is a police force, and that we should be spending our defence allocations on roads and railways because we do not need any other kind of defence. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) was one who spoke in that vein. Other honorable members opposite have suggested that we do not need more than token defence because in the event of trouble we could sit and wait for the United Nations to rescue us. Some chance of that! As far as this country is concerned we will strengthen our own right arm for our own defence. This the Government is doing in honest and straightforward measure.
Behind all these efforts at upgrading of defence and improving the general level of our equipment - increasing the number of men in our forces, giving them the best training systems in the world and improving their accommodation and standards to weld together a solid fighting force of all arms in this country - my department has contributed a fine scientific effort. There has been growing technical and scientific competence. Modern war is nothing if not scientific and the possession of modern technology is in itself an enormous asset of defence.
I do not want to take up the time of other honorable members on this side of the chamber who, I assure the committee, have adequate defence for anything that may be brought against this Government from the Opposition to-night, but I do wish to say that if defence is to be a feature of the next two months of politics in this country, then the Government is confident that the public will understand fully what has been done in the last ten years in modernizing, expanding and building a powerful foundation for this country’s defence efforts. I have pointed out that a document titled “ Defence Report 1963 “ is being circulated to honorable members.
That report sets out to tell the whole story of the defence position - the strategic position as a background - and goes on to deal with each of the forces. Happily the report is illustrated. Some honorable gentlemen opposite who have never bothered to find out what defence equipment is operating in this country will be able to see at first hand the modern equipment that has flooded into every arm of this country’s defence. The report sets out the strategic background to policy, the major objectives in the development of the forces and the financial provision for the defence programme. The separate sections describe how the defence services and the Department of Supply respectively are giving effect to the approved objectives of policy. The report is complete with statistics and is amply illustrated. For the sake of Australia’s future I hope that honorable gentlemen opposite will study the report well, because if they do so they will be forced to admit that at this stage Australia’s defence competence is adequate for this time but is still facing the kind of developments that have been foreshadowed in recent amendments of the defence plan.
– I wish to take my second period in speaking to the estimates now before the committee. I have taken advantage of every opportunity afforded me by various Ministers for Supply in the Menzies Government to see what can be seen. I was at Maralinga on one occasion together with honorable members from both sides of the Parliament when an atom bomb was exploded. Most honorable members are interested in what is happening in relation to defence and the provision of defence equipment. I wish more was being provided. That is our aim. We say that the Government’s programme is inadequate - that the so-called new revised and expanded programme announced by the. Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in May of this year is insufficient. It does not do what it proposes to do. What does it mean? It means that in the next five years defence expenditure is estimated by this Government to increase to £269,000,000 a year. That is all, according to the documents circulated by the Prime Minister when he made his statement.
– That is not correct.
– The Treasurer says it is not correct.
– It leaves out the replacement for the Canberra bomber.
– We will not have the replacement bomber in the next five years if this Government remains in power. It has been going to replace the Canberra bomber for the last ten or twelve years. It sent a big mission abroad and I met some its members in Paris. It was a very competent mission, led by the highest experts in the Royal Australian Air Force. The mission returned to Australia and made its report and the Government either was unable to read the report or was dissatisfied with the recommendations it contained because it decided to discard what the experts recommended. The Government has now sent the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) to America .to see what he can do and whether he can improve on what the experts did. If that is the way in which this Government runs its defence programme it is no wonder we are defenceless.
In October, 1962, the Government’s programme allowed for expenditure on defence rising from £212,200,000 in 1962-63 to £222,000,000 a year in 1967-68, five years later. This was the Menzies Government’s last word on defence expenditure exactly one year ago, but then it thought it would revise the programme. That programme of twelve months ago envisaged “on the basis of strategic requirements and uptodate intelligence assessments “, an increase of £8,000,000 annually in five years’ time. In other words, the increase in expenditure envisaged a year ‘ ago would barely have kept pace with cost adjustments, let alone the increase in national production through rising population. Expenditure on the defence forces was to remain stationary, no matter what happened around it.
– Remember what you provided in 1949.
– The Treasurer harks back to 1949 all the time. We will leave him with 1949 and his dreams after the election in 1963. He can hug his dreams to his heart’s content for the rest of his life then. If we cut away the verbiage from all the Government’s statements, the new revised and expanded defence programme means that in five years the Navy’s strength will be increased from about 11,000 to 14,300 men; the Army will go from 21,000 men to 28,000 men; and the Air Force will increase from 16,000 to 18,300. That is what the Government calls a new revised and expanded defence force.
Despite the Government’s new and expanded five year’s programme announced last May, the percentage of our gross national product spent on defence is likely to remain much the same at the end of the programme as it is at the beginning - that is, if there is no change of government. The £270,000,000 which the Government proposes to expend in 1967-68 will be about 2.7 per cent, of the gross national product - the same as at present. The Government’s programme tails off rapidly in its later years. Defence expenditure will increase by 12 per cent, in the first year, 7 per cent, in the second year and 6 per cent, in the third year and decrease by 3 per cent, in the fourth and fifth years. Even if we raised expenditure to the level of ten years ago it would still be small compared with 7 per cent, of the gross national product spent on defence in the United Kingdom and the 11 per cent, spent in the United States of America.
Nobody wants to spend money unnecessarily on defence, but when this Government claims that it is defence-minded and talks about its vast expenditure on defence, let me put the facts right by a comparison of amounts of expenditure. The Government’s effort is small; it is insignificant, and the Government has no right to talk about what it is doing in defence because its effort is paltry. It is miserable and is not worthy of consideration at all. This is what we of the Labour Party will do when we become the government.
I do not mind giving Government supporters, who are interjecting, instalments of the Labour Party’s policy on defence. All honorable members can attack it if they like and see what impact they can make on the public mind by their criticisms of it. We will order a replacement for the obsolete Canberra bomber immediately, because it was obsolete in 1949. In May this year, the Prime Minister said the Canberra bomber was still operational in Europe, but the experts who went abroad recommended, so I am told, the American Vigilante. Some one else told me that the United Kingdom Minister for Air came out here to try to sell us the TSR 2 and that there was difficulty in persuading Ministers what plane we should order. We will have no difficulty in making up our minds once we get expert advice.
The Curtin Government in the war period, after the Menzies and Fadden Governments fell down on the job, had no difficulty in leading Australia out of danger, because it relied on the advice of its experts. This Government has rejected the official advice of its experts. It rejected the advice of the late General Sir Leslie Morshead, when he brought out the Morshead report. It adopted only the part that suited it and rejected the rest. The Government has appointed expert committees time and time again and it has rejected most of their recommendations. It has appointed committees only in order to get over the difficulties of the time being and has never faced up to the facts of any situation. I am glad to see the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) smiling benignly as I am saying this.
The Government, at ils very best, has been unable for at least eight years to make up its mind as to the replacement for the Canberra bomber, even though a mission was sent abroad not only in 1963 but also in 1955 and even though in 1960 the then Minister for Defence, that famous gentleman who is High Panjandrum of the Liberal Party, Sir Philip McBride, said that the bomber replacement was the most urgent task facing the Air Force. That was three years ago, and the Government still has not made up its mind. We will accept the advice of our defence advisers in respect of the Navy. If their advice is that our security demands that we have a modern aircraft carrier, we will accept that advice and will not mess around as this Government is messing around in connexion with the Navy as well as the Air Force.
We will not leave Western Australia defenceless. 1 hate to make the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) look so gloomy, but there is absolutely no defence force for that State operational in Western Australia.
– That is not true, and you know it.
– I know there is the Pearce Air Force station, but there is no unit of the Army or Air Force of any great capacity stationed in Western Australia which could defend that State. Let me tell honorable members what we will do in respect of Western Australia. We will establish a naval base on the Western Australian coast and we will gear the Australian shipbuilding industry to provide the needs of the Australian Navy, to the best of our ability. We will not go shopping abroad. We will not be buying ships in other parts of the world and leaving Australian tradesmen unemployed.
We will establish three new army battle groupings of 6,000 men each - one armoured group and two mechanized groups. One of these will be centred on Queensland and another on Western Australia. We estimate that this and other proposals for the expansion of the Australian military forces will require an additional 14,000 men. This scheme has been worked out by the Labour Party’s defence committee, which comprises men with distinguished records. They will all participate in this debate and will tell Government supporters what they think about our defences. I remind honorable members opposite who are interjecting that Opposition members have as much right as any one else to be heard.
We will raise the strength of the Pacific Islands Regiment in New Guinea, which the Government estimates to be only 700 strong. I have been asking the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) for the last tcn years to raise the strength of this regiment to at least two battalions. We will raise it to brigade strength and later to a battle group of 6,000 men. We will guarantee the territorial integrity of Papua and New Guinea with something more than words. If we sent a brigade of the Australian Regular Army in Australia to New Guinea we just would not have reserves for it. That is how defenceless we are to-day. That is how this Government has left our defences. It is a sorry situation for Australia. Last Tuesday night the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said a lot about the defence of Malaysia. He said nothing about the defence of Australia. We are interested in the defence of Malaysia. We arc more interested in the defence of Australia.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has now had his second go. He said on television the other night, “ We have absolutely nothing with which to defend ourselves. “ Tonight he added to that statement by saying that Australia has nothing but boomerangs and broomsticks - I think that was the expression he used - with which to defend herself. For sheer irresponsibility in a person who aspires to be the next Prime Minister of Australia - I emphasize “ aspires “, because after this performance I think he has lost what chance he might have had of becoming the Prime Minister of Australia - such a statement can seldom have been equalled in Australian history. In fact, I doubt whether it has ever been equalled. One would think that a person who made such a grave charge - a charge which obviously could be of great comfort to our enemies if it «were true - would at least back up his statement with chapter and verse. But what did he do? He made funny remarks and juggled with statistics, which incidentally were inaccurate.
The Leader of the Opposition based his remarks on an earlier statement by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). He omitted to refer to the fact that the estimates we are now debating provide for an increase of more than £30,000,000 in defence expenditure this year as a result of adjustments since the Prime Minister made his statement. That was the only contribution that the Leader of the Opposition could make to support his wild charges, except perhaps to say that the Labour Party will produce three battle groups. But we already have three battle groups. If the Opposition wants to throw down the gauntlet on defence, let it. If the Opposition wants it that way, we on this side of the chamber will accept the challenge willingly. Let the Opposition remember that it started this. Have not Opposition members made it the cornerstone of their claim - they made it one of the cornerstones during the last election campaign - that they can administer the defences of this country better than the Government can? The Leader of the Opposition repeated that claim tonight. Has not the air been filled and made hideous with banal cries on television that the nation turns to the Labour Party in times of crisis, that the Labour Party established the Royal Australian
Navy and so on? If they take this stand Opposition members must expect to be shot at and hear the facts, which, to say the least, blur the image that they have attempted to create. If they bring history to their aid so can we. No doubt my colleagues will join me in doing so tonight.
Opposition members have made much of Labour’s record in time of war. The Leader of the Opposition to-night referred to it. All I say about that is that, as the Government of Australia with the Japanese threatening our country, the Labour Party had no option but to continue the mobilization of our resources for war on a foundation which had been well and truly laid, as was admitted by the late Mr. Curtin, by the first Menzies Government. It is not that which I remember, because after all it was the plain unvarnished duty of any government in office at that time. What I, my colleagues on this side of the chamber and, I suggest, the Australian people remember are the warts on this glamorous picture which the Labour Party historians have been painting so skilfully through the media of public communication.
I remember that the Labour movement only threw its full weight behind the war effort when the Soviet Union was attacked by Germany. I remember that so hungry were Labour Party members for office that they refused, at the time of the nation’s greatest peril, to form a national government, even under a Labour Prime Minister. In this, as in everything else, they put position, prestige and power above all. I remember the blind panic which actuated so many of the policies of the Curtin Government. I remember the servile, disgusting grovelling to the Americans, and to General MacArthur in particular, which at that time made me and many other people ashamed to be Australian. I remember, too, that after the danger had receded and the Labour Ministers were no longer worried about their precious hides they stopped being servile. On the contrary, they were active in asserting our rights as equal partners with the Americans - quite a different picture - until finally, when the danger was over, they bit the hand that had fed us by refusing the United States access to Manus Island on reasonable terms.
I remember that at a time when Labour members of this Parliament were urging the Australian people to shoulder increasingly heavy burdens and asking those young Australians who had volunteered to fight overseas to carry even more of the responsibility, they were not prepared to introduce conscription on any reasonable basis so that the burden would be shared. Why? Because to do so would have been unpopular in the Labour movement and they might have lost their jobs. 1 remember that the key men in the unit to which I belonged - this happened in many other units - were, because they were jockeys or professional footballers, suddenly discharged by direction from above so that the war-weary workers of Sydney could have some relief from the rigours of their existence. I remember the racket in discharges in general which was part and parcel of the Labour Government’s administration. I remember the arrival of a ship laden to the gunwales with beer at a time when we were desperately short of ammunition, because the then Minister for the Army thought it would be politically popular to send beer to Australia’s fighting men. He even defended his actions on that ground. I could go on but I have said enough to show that the Labour Party’s attempts to paint a picture of itself as a party which can be entrusted with this nation’s defence in war-time are utterly false. However, it is not the Labour Party’s attitude to defence in wartime which I wish to emphasize. Its attitude to defence in peace-time seems to be very much more important. It is more important for two reasons.
First, as I have already mentioned, there is a certain compulsion on a government in war-time to do something about defence. If it did not do something about defence it would be torn to pieces by the electors. But there is no such compulsion in peace-time. Secondly, the main purpose of defence in peace-time is not to prepare for the eventuality of war - although that is one purpose - but, above all, to deter a potential aggressor from starting a war by demonstrating that it will be met with speedy and effective retribution. It is this overwhelmingly important aspect of our defence effort in peacetime which the Labour Parly, both historically and at the present time, has been demonstrably incapable of appreciating.
It is not without significance that while emphasizing their role in war, members of the Opposition have been silent on their record in peace. This is not surprising, because their record has been appalling. I well remember, Sir, as a boy living in a Service household, the ferocity with which the Scullin Government set out to destroy the Australian Regular Army. I can remember the months of anxious waiting for the axe to fall, with people not knowing whether they would be shot out on their necks without notice, thanks or compensation. That in fact happened to many. Others stayed on with a pay cut which in some cases was as great as 50 per cent. The morale of the Australian Regular Army did not recover from this until the present Government came to office in 1949.
With the coming of peace in 1 945 Labour once again set out to destroy our peace-time defence capacity. Brigadier Meredith, writing to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, put the general view of informed observers when he referred to “ the Chifley Government’s barely disguised attempts to destroy the services by the introduction of the interim forces after World War II. Certainly when I returned to Australia in 1947, prepared to make a career in the Army, I found people leaving the Army in droves. They were disgusted and dispirited by the decline in standards, by the obvious lack of priority given to defence by a Labour government and by the lack of a future - and 1 left too.
This will happen again, Sir - make no mistake about it - if Labour should come to power. It will happen again because it is in the nature of the Labour Party itself, in its traditions and in its organization. In Labour eyes, except in times of panic, the defence forces arc not things to be honoured, built up and improved in efficiency, they are things to be denigrated or to be used to provide employment, as the Leader of the Opposition told us today, or to increase a member’s prestige in his own electorate by staging an air pageant or something of the kind. The stream of pacifism and what is known as anti-militarism, ideologically based, has flowed strongly in the Labour, Party since it came Into existence.
Who can doubt that it still does, when we study the patchwork compromises worked out over the American base in Western Australia, Malaysia and the nuclear-free zone? When one studies the statements of many honorable members opposite, as referred to by the Minister earlier this evening, who can believe that they have even begun to realize that effective forces in peacetime are necessary if you want to avoid war? Who can doubt that whatever they may say in the forthcoming election campaign, the currents flowing strongly inside the Labour Party will lead them to strike down our defence forces as surely in the future as they have in the past?
We have fashioned in our defence forces during the lifetime of this Government, as the Leader of the Opposition would have found out if he had bothered to take a minute or two to have a look at them, a highly efficient instrument of deterrence. Our defence forces are capable of deterrence because they are well equipped and armed, highly mobile and readily available. In other words, they are combat-ready, ready for war. I want to keep them that way because that way they, together with the forces of our allies, will deter, whereas large numbers of divisions of ill-equipped, immobile, partly-trained men - as seems to be the objective of many of our critics - will not deter.
It is common for certain people to ridicule, as the Leader of the Opposition does, the size of our defence services, particularly the Army. I wonder how many of the critics realize that when the new battle group is formed next year we will have four-fifths of a combat-ready division with all its logistic support.
– That will rock them.
– The honorable member says, “ That will rock them “. Let me tell him that on a comparative population basis this is equal to the effort of the United States, with sixteen combat-ready divisions - and they are probably not quite as ready as our force is - and more than half as good again as Canada’s effort with two brigades. This juggling of statistics, this suggestion that so much of the national product or so much per head of population should be spent on defence has ^serious weaknesses. For instance, Canadian servicemen are paid twice as much as ours are. That explains in one stroke the difference between our expenditure and Canada’s particularly when we remember that in our case, and presumably in the case of Canada too, more than 70 per cent, of our defence vote is spent on pay, allowances and maintenance.
I repeat, Sir, that the Australian Army has become an instrument of deterrence of which we can be proud. The Australian services as a whole have become instruments of deterrence of which we can be proud. I want to have forces of this kind available so that a war will not occur. I do hot want to have Australia prepare itself to fight an inevitable war. I shudder to think of what would happen if the Labour Party, judged on its record, got its destructive paws on this instrument of deterrence. I am sure the Australian people will not let it do so.
.- We have just heard the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) speak on defence, followed by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes). The Minister has not taken it upon himself to answer the charges levelled at the Government by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). The Leader of the Opposition quoted what the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) said about letting the Navy run down. Did the Minister for Supply stand up and refute that? Of course be did not, because he knows very well that what the Leader of the Opposition said is true. We see the Minister sitting back and revelling in the glory of his Department of Supply, which was formed by a Labour government. Did he give the Labour government any credit? Of course not, because he is not big enough to give praise where praise is due. He knows very well that if it had not been for the Labour Party we would not have the organization that we have at the present time at Woomera. The next time you get up, Mr. Minister, give a little praise where it is due.
Now I want to refer to some of the remarks made by the honorable member for Barker. He said it was the Labour Party that threw down the gauntlet. Did he read the speech of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in the House? Did he see him on television the other night? Has he read the Liberal Parly’s propaganda? Has he seen the party’s campaign officers running around the electorates saying to their paid organizers, “Hammer defence. Hammer defence. Hammer defence. That is what wins elections.” Why do not honorable members opposite be honest about this? Did only Liberals fight in the war? I am disgusted to sit here and listen to the remarks that flow from the other side of the House.
We did not throw down the gauntlet on defence. It was you who started it and it is up to you to prove your own statements. You talk about Mr. Curtin. What did the troops in the Middle East think of him? When it looked as though Mr. Curtin was going to be defeated it was the votes that came in from the fighting men in the Middle East that returned him to office. When you people stand here and say that members of the Labour Party grovelled to the Americans, I say thank God they did, and I am proud they did. I am proud that they did not take up the line that Mr. Winston Churchill, as he then was, took up when he said, “ Let us get the war over in Europe “. What would have happened to this country if we had taken his advice? It would have been invaded and we would have had the job of getting the invaders out of it.
I know what happened in Europe. I was only a junior officer at the time. I thought it was wrong when I was brought home; but in my heart I was glad to have a quick look at my wife before I was sent up to New Guinea, where I spent another three years. It is wrong - I take grave objection to this - for honorable members opposite to stand up and say, in effect, “ We are the ones and we are the only ones who are fit to look after this country “. In fact, they arc the most unfitted people to look after this country. The Prime Minister, in making his defence review on 22nd May of this year, said -
We have now completed a further comprehensive review of developments in South-East Asia. We have noted the uncertainties in Laos, the acute problems in South Viet Nam, the conflicts which exist over the creation of the new Federation of Malaysia . . . and events in and concerning West New Guinea. It certainly cannot be said that we have entered a period of .stability in the area of immediate strategic Concern to Australia. We have made this recent review in the light of our treaty arrangements-
We do well to remember those words -
The Prime Minister talked about “ our treaty arrangements “. What are “ our treaty arrangements”? I believe that the speaker who will follow me in this debate will bc the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess), who comes from a proud fighting family. I am glad to know that that is true.
I want honorable members to know that at one time in my life I had the confidence of Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blarney and Sir Stanley Savige. They told me certain things. We used to meet at a certain place and discuss certain things. As honorable members well know, when the Australian forces went to the Middle East, if the field marshal had not had the strength of character that he had, on the advice of the Prime Minister those forces would not have been under Australian command. That is why we say that we must have public treaties drawn up so that when human life is at stake we will know and the people will know just what is involved. Sir Thomas Blarney fought and fought bitterly. He made it quite clear that, as far as he was concerned, Australian troops would be under the command of an Australian.
My father served with him as an officer and it was because of the events which took place on 19th July, 1916, that Blarney, as a staff officer, said, “If I should have any say in the matter, I will always advocate that Australians should be under Australian command “. In 1916 the newly formed Fifth Australian Division arrived in France from Egypt, lt had been in France for about six weeks when an English general said: “ These men are getting restless. We must give them something to do.” They were given something to do. On the night of 19th July, 1916, the 31st, 32nd, 53rd, 54th, 59th and 60th battalions attacked and 5,553 men were killed. Blarney said with great feeling: “That is why we must have treaties. We are never going to have a mistake like that again, as long as I live.” Every Australian commanding general has been of the same opinion. If any honorable member opposite believes that that is not correct, for God’s sake, let him stand up and say so. Yet because we on this side of the chamber say that we want something similar, what do honorable members opposite say about us? They say that we are not capable of leading the country.
I did not rise to speak on those matters, although they are very dear to me. I rose to speak on the estimates for the Department of the Navy. The Government is making provision for £54,509,000 to be set aside for the requirements of the Navy. This year the Government wants to put aside £5,100,000 more than it did last year. It wants to put aside this miserable amount after the Prime Minister has been frightening the Australian people in regard to what is happening to the north of us, to the east of us and all over the place. We are told that the French intend to explode an atomic bomb in the Pacific. We have made our protest about it. But can we protest about it? We cannot protest because we are getting our fighters from the people who are going to let off the bomb.
While I am talking about aircraft, let us remember the disappointing effort of the the Government after what the Labour Party did. When the Second World War finished we had started in Australia a very efficient aircraft industry. We were building a fighter. It was coming on to the production lines towards the end of the war. It was known as the Boomerang. It was not much of a fighter; I will give you that in.
– It certainly was not.
– It was a poor fighter; I know that. But it was our first attempt. The pilot had to keep his mind on his job. It was a slow fighter. Had we persevered with that, we might now have been on the same plane as other countries, such as Sweden and Canada, which can offer us aircraft. We are not in a satisfactory position. Had we continued on from the Boomerang, we would not have been in the position in which we nearly bought a fighter from Sweden, which has a population of 7,000,000, and we would not be in the position in which we are to-day, where the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn) stands up in this chamber and says that we are getting the Caribou aircraft from Canada. Would not the people of Australia like to hear the Minister say, “We are building our own aircraft in Australia “? Why do we have to run all round the world? Where will we get our equipment when trouble strikes this country? Will we go to Canada and France for it and have it torpedoed on the way out to Australia? Did we not learn those lessons in the last war? Do we go on from miserable mistake to miserable mistake? When will the Government have a look at what has happened? It is time the Government woke up.
At the present time the country is troubled and disturbed by happenings on the Great Barrier Reef. I do not intend to dwell on this matter. I wish to express my sympathy and my regret that this tragedy happened. I am very sorry that those very able and capable young men are not with us to-day. I dare say that when the inquiry is held we will find out the reason for this happening. But I hope that modern equipment will be put into our ships and that young men will not be sent away in boats of the class that these young men were in. To put young men in that type of craft is ~-well, I will not say it. The type of boat in which these young men went out is not a boat of sea-going quality, and I am sorry that they went. We will find out why they did, I dare say, when the inquiry is held.
Let us have a look at what has happened to our defence forces. There has been one tragedy after another. There was the fiasco in Stockton Bight, and again when commandos tried to cross the Rip. Expert airmen have flown only a few feet above the ground at Sale, looping the loop and going to their death. I am not calling the Minister to account for this, but when is it going to stop? Can we afford this sort of thing, when brave young men of this country are wiped out? I did not rise to speak of these things, although I feel greatly troubled about them. I wanted to make a constructive speech on what has been happening in defence, but when honorable members opposite get up and talk a lot of poppycock about throwing down the gauntlet, I am forced to reply. The Prime Minister started it ~ with his talk of the 36 faceless men. I do not care whether you call them 36 faceless men. To return to the subject of war, honorable members will recall that Lord Haw Haw called our troops in the desert by a name which stuck - the Rats of Tobruk. How proud they are of the name! Let us have 36 faceless men. I would rather have them than the headless men on the opposite side of the chamber - the men who had their political heads cut off because they had enough guts to speak against the Prime Minister. I feel very sorry for them. Our 36 faceless men arc democratically elected, and I am proud to know them.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) referred to what he described as the niggardly amount which the Government is spending on defence. He made a statement which, if I have interpreted it correctly, rather surprises me. He said that Australia is spending no more now on defence than it was in January of this year, the time of a ministerial statement. In the estimates of the defence departments before us now, the amount to be provided for defence is £251,671,000. This represents an increase of £30,300,000 over the expenditure for last year. I think that those figures give the lie to both statements of the Leader of the Opposition. It is interesting to note that the present estimated expenditure is about five times the amount spent on defence in 1949-50.
I listened to the speech of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson). Great battles have been fought and won, but I am more interested in the present situation and future situations than in past history. In considering the defence estimates, we should have clearly in our minds what we are likely to have to combat. It is quite impossible to prepare ourselves for every conceivable eventuality, because of the physical and economic problems raised by the terrific length of Australia’s coastline, its great area and its limited population. There are two basic strategic concepts involved here. One is the concept of total war and the other is the concept of limited or local war. I agree with the Government in accepting that local wars are much more likely to be encountered than is a global war. The
Government is well aware that Australia has obligations under the Anzus treaty and the Seato pact. We are also involved in obligations which arise out of the Prime Minister’s recent statement on our relations with Malaysia. These factors govern our very large defence expenditure and the character and composition of the armed forces and civil defence services we are required to keep.
In keeping with the concept of limited war and in order to be in the best position to honour our treaty obligations and our understanding with Malaysia, all branches of our first-line forces should have certain characteristics. They should be fully trained, not partly trained. They should be mobile to a high degree and very well equipped. They should be available on call and should * be available for service anywhere. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) and other speakers have pointed out that the 1963 defence report bears out that these requirements are fulfilled. With the increased speed and range of modern aircraft, with the increased range and striking power of modern weapons and with a constantly changing international situation which brings unrest closer to our shores, these requirements are imperative for our defence. There is very little scope in our first-line forces for partly-trained servicemen or servicewomen. In saying that, I still maintain that the citizen forces of all arms of the services and the corps of school cadets have very important parts to play in our defence situation. They should be encouraged. The Government is to be commended for its handling of our first-line forces. It is also to be commended for the reasoned expansion, programme which it has announced. However, I suggest that additional effort could be directed towards building up the strength of the Citizen Military Forces and the school cadets.
We have heard to-night a criticism of the Government’s defence policy which has been repeated for some time - that we have not yet replaced our first-line bomber. It is particularly difficult to select a replacement for the Canberra bomber because we must choose a plane suitable for the conditions under which our bombers will have to operate. It is therefore necessary to assess accurately the conditions of operation. The great expense involved is another consideration. We who have charge of the expenditure of the taxpayers’ money must exercise great care in making this decision. I am sure it is not generally realized how much expense is involved in replacing aircraft. Each Mirage fighter will cost £1,250,000. The cost of each replacement bomber is between £3,000,000 and £5,000,000. We cannot cover our aircraft with insurance policies. On its first flight, an aircraft could bc wiped off. 1 believe that the Government should continue to study the available aircraft very closely. Let it make its decision not from panic but from prudence. I hope that it will not bc unduly influenced by electoral pressure and that it will make its choice as the result of hard, cold thought. While this decision is being arrived at I would say that Australia is not without a striking force. The Canberra bomber has many important uses. It does not necessarily matter if it is outranged so long as il is within range of the target that it is most likely to be called upon to attack. If its bomb load is exceeded that means more sorties. It is interesting to note in this connexion that in its action against the Communist guerillas in Malaya the Royal Australian Air Force discovered from experience that the best aircraft to use was not the Canberra but the Lincoln bomber which was able to place the largest bombload most accurately at the point required.
Members of the Parliament are very fortunate indeed in that they have so many opportunities to meet the senior officers of the various services. I should like to tell the people in my electorate - and I think the people of Australia should know this - that one cannot help being impressed by the ability, competence and devotion to the Australian cause displayed by the senior officers who are in charge of our services. Tn moving around amongst them, one sees plenty of evidence to support the claim of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) that the standard of liaison between the various forces under such pacts as Seato and Anzus is on a particularly high level. In moving round amongst the various sections of the forces, one sees ample evidence to support the Minister’s assertion that the decisions we make are arrived at after consultation with our allies. For instance, one secs ample evidence to support his claim that the decisions to purchase minesweepers, the Charles F. Adams class guided missile cruisers and the new submarines were arrived at only after close consultation and collaboration with the allies with whom we are most likely to be operating.
If I were to criticize the Government’s defence policy at all, I would direct attention to the decline in the strength of the Citizen Military Forces whose numbers have fallen during the year to about 27,000. 1 am very concerned at the diminishing opportunity for our young men, especially those in country areas, to train themselves in the service of their country. Looking in from outside - and I admit I am on the outside - one cannot see too far into the system, and one cannot altogether see the reason for (his state of affairs, but I know from experience that Australians have never been backward in accepting the opportunity to shoulder responsibility and undertake a task. It is disappointing to me to see this drop in the number of members of the Citizen Military Forces.
A moment ago I mentioned the first-line forces. 1 think the need for reserves of partly trained men and women must be kept in mind constantly, and at the moment it is impossible except in the larger of the country centres, for the Citizen Military Forces to take part in military exercises. I am sure there are many young men in the country who would really welcome an announcement from the Government that more emphasis is to be placed on the encouragement of enlistment in the C.M.F.
Finally, I should like to say a word about school cadets. I notice from the report that there are about 39,000 on the establishment. The number has been increased during the last couple of years that I have been a member of this Parliament, but I believe that it is not high enough. There are many schools ready and anxious to form cadet units and I think we all agree that there is very real value in the training the boys get in such units. Any one who has had the opportunity of attending passing out parades knows that the conduct of the boys reflects great credit on their officers, on themselves and on the auxiliaries that work with them. It reflects great credit also on their mothers who, I am sure, are responsible for their turn-out. The training the boys receive has an important bearing on the development of their character. It teaches them the principles of loyalty to their comrades and it instructs them in the fundamentals of leadership. It also gives them an opportunity to prepare themselves to face an emergency, and I am very strongly in favour of it. The school cadet corps prepares these boys to stand up for the things they believe in. It gives them training in the fundamentals of military science. I direct attention to the fact that the greater percentage of the boys entering the Royal Military College have had some experience in the school cadets. The value of the seeds of interest sown in the minds of those young men during their initial training in the school cadets must be well worth the £28 a year which it costs to train a school cadet. After having given the matter a great deal of thought, I maintain that the final establishment of the corps of school cadets should be fixed at a level which will include all schools that are able to satisfy the basic requirements set down by the department.
In conclusion, I commend the Government on its treatment of our first-line forces in the Navy, the Army and the Air Force and I advocate a greater emphasis on the importance of the Citizen Military Forces and the school cadets.
.- It is interesting to note that the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall), who is sitting at the table, took exception to the statement by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that Australia has nothing to show for the money that has been spent on “defence during the lifetime of this Government. What the Leader of the Opposition has said is perfectly true. We were told to-day by the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn) that the aircraft possessed by Australia compared favorably with those possessed by any other country in the world, and he named the United States of America and the Soviet Union. This may be perfectly true, but how many of these aircraft have we compared with what other countries have? One might just as well argue that a city the size of Sydney or Melbourne has a police force which compares more than favorably in efficiency with that of any other country iri the world. Of what use would such a police force be if it numbered only 50 or 100? That is only begging the question.
This country has to have not only efficiency but quantity and numbers.
We have been told that we are able to provide enough men to meet our obligations in South Viet Nam, in Thailand and in Malaysia. Why, in South Viet Nam we have only 30 men! In Thailand we have about 87 - a slight improvement - and in Malaysia we have one battalion group and some personnel of the Royal Australia Air Force. There is nothing in the world the matter with the standard of efficiency of our men, or of the equipment they possess, but the latter is insufficient. Of the field brigade of three battalions which this country possesses in its regular army, one-third is abroad and two-thirds are here, and it is probable that at most relevant times one battalion would be under strength.
In the past, we have been able to mobilize, train and send abroad forces to assist in defending the principles for which we stand. In the Kaiser’s war we had six or twelve months in which to prepare, and half of Europe stood between us and our enemies. The same circumstances occurred in Hitler’s war. Other people fought the battles while we got ready to fight them, and the Menzies Government was in power when Hitler’s war broke out. I have some idea of how long it takes to train and prepare mien because I was chief instructor at an infantry training school at the beginning of that war. At that time we had to train half of our men in arms drill and the other half in some other military exercise because we did not have enough rifles with which to train the whole unit at the one time.
– Who opposed the defence votes in 1938 and 1939?
– I was not here then, and neither were you. You would not know any more about what happened then than I would. I know that we had in this country defence forces training with wooden rifles. Most honorable members will remember the popular skit about the sentry in the night, armed with a wooden rifle, who, detecting an intruder, challenged him, brought his rifle to the ready and said, “ Halt or I will fill you full of white ants “. That sort of thing is no good. This country has to be able to arm itself. The purchase of our equipment abroad is not good enough. There is nothing the matter with the Mirage fighter, but you have not received them yet. If trouble that involved France broke out in Europe, you would never get them. Do honorable members opposite think that the French would send Mirage fighters here if the French thought they would need the machines themselves? They would not be likely to do so. You would not get the destroyers from the United States of America if that country became involved in hostilities. Furthermore, even when we do get the Mirage fighters, we cannot produce 100 per cent, of our requirement of replacement parts in this country. We have to re-establish our aircraft industry so that we can manufacture these things ourselves.
The Minister for Supply has told us that wc shall have one battle group of troops next year. The Leader of the Opposition has told honorable members that we propose to establish three field forces each of 6,000 permanent troops, and if we are elected to office at the general election, wc most certainly will.
– Where will you get them?
– They can be recruited. I do not doubt for one minute that this country can and will recruit them. We should be in a very sad state if we ever reached a stage at which we could not recruit them. If we offer proper terms and conditions of service, we shall get the men. However, one of the reasons why this Government cannot get the men that are needed is that, for one thing, it does not provide them with proper housing. Honorable members opposite know as well as I do that one of the main reasons for the present turn-over in the armed forces is lack of housing for the personnel. Let us remedy these difficulties. Let us make the terms and conditions of service acceptable and we shall get all the recruits we need.
The Leader of the Opposition stated where the troops will be stationed - in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland. I think that most honorable members will agree with me that there is a big possibility that if hostilities break out again there will be nobody to stand between us and the enemy and fight the battle while we get ready to take part. Preparations must be made, and we propose to make them. The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that we should now be spending on defence £350,000,000 per annum and that we should be building our own ships. He has told the committee that Labour will consider the construction of a new aircraft carrier, among other things.
Can anybody give Australia to-day a reasonable guarantee that we shall receive warning of any attack? Remember that in modern times the tendency is not to go in for any ceremony of sending telegrams to tell other countries that one is about to declare war on them. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour set the standard for this age in which no warning at all will he given. If Australia were attacked tomorrow, what could we do about it? We could at least raise plenty of mcn then for our armed forces.
I am satisfied that it is probably correct to say that we have the equipment to service men in the field, but you cannot send them out at 24 hours’ notice, no matter how good the equipment is, without adequate training. I saw men going to battle in the Owen Stanley Range. I was at the time chief ordnance officer, in charge of ammunition, and I know that men who were issued with hand grenades as they were about to go into the jungle said: “ What about showing me how they work? I have never seen one before. “ That could happen again, of course, but it gets very close to murder. Not only must our men be given the equipment that they need, and guaranteed replacement equipment as necessary, but they must be trained in the use of that equipment. For the sake of this country and its security, we must train men in sufficient numbers. A soldier is like anybody else. The man who is a professional is a better tradesman than (he man who is not, if only for no reason other than the training that he has had. There is nothing the matter with the quality of the people that we have. That has been proved on many occasions. There is nothing the matter with their ability to use the equipment when it is provided for them, always supposing that they have had an opportunity to be adequately trained in its use.
If we have no potential enemy - if we are not in danger of being called on to face an enemy - what are we talking about, and why is the Government itself increasing the defence vote? The general view is that the international atmosphere in which we live to-day poses international danger. There are more peace-time troops under arms to-day than the world has ever seen before. Countries with territory adjacent to the Pacific Ocean have under arms in their permanent armies millions of men who are fully trained and who could go into action at 24 hours’ notice, but we could not put one field brigade into action. We need to be given three months without pressure to accomplish this. If we woke to-morrow and found that an enemy had invaded our northern coast, what would the Government do about the situation? The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who has just left the chamber, could move his Centurion tanks from Victoria to the Northern Territory in about three months!
– From where will this enemy come?
– You tell us. You are the people who have issued this booklet, “ Defence Report 1963 “, not us. You are the people who told us, in the first instance, that we had to increase the defence vote, and you yourselves have increased it. So you should be able to answer the question: Where will the enemy come from? That is a question that can be posed at any time.
– You seem to suggest that there will be a landing in northern Australia to-morrow.
– Surely the honorable member does not expect that we shall be invaded by the penguins from the south. If an enemy came from anywhere, he would come from the north. There is nobody to the south, the east or the west, but the major part of the world’s population is to our north. It is only common sense to believe that, if we are to be invaded, the enemy will come from the north. He will be a first-class mug if he makes a 3,000-mile trip to the south to land somewhere else. He will land in the first place that is convenient to him. So, for geographical reasons, we have to look to the north. We need not name the enemy.
Defence is a matter of national insurance, as honorable members on the Government side of the chamber have said. If you are able and willing to defend your country, there is much less chance that you will have to do so. Leaving a country wide open and defenceless as Australia is merely invites somebody to attack it. We hear all this rot about powerful and influential allies, but do not forget that your powerful and influential allies have powerful and influential enemies of their own.
– We shall not have any allies if your policy is adopted.
– If our policy is adopted, at least we shall be able to stand with our powerful and influential allies and say: “ We are prepared to do as much for our common defence as you are. We are prepared to do it, equipped to do it and trained to do it.” This Government cannot say that to-day. If the Government’s money is going into equipment, well and good. But it certainly is noi going into the provision of trained personnel, because they just do not exist on the scale that would be necessary for us to be able to defend this country if we had to do so at the drop of a hat.
Somebody told me that the United States of America sent troops here during the last war. They were refugees. I was on hand when they arrived. They had been halfway between the United States and the Philippines when the Japanese attacked on both sides. So the American troops came here. We gave them a refuge. Next time, we may not have even the advantage of being reinforced by refugees. If we may have to fight our own battles on our own shores, let us at least be prepared to do so. There is no doubt about the fact that, if we had to defend ourselves now, we would have a very poor chance of winning out.
If the situation that I have described does exist - in the minds of many people in this Country it does - what has the Government done about it?
We have been given this very nice little book called *’ Defence Report 1963 “. If we took serious notice of some of the illustrations in it, it would amount to a confidence trick. It contains pictures of the Mirage III. and the Bloodhound missile. If the missiles now ready were fired from their present sites, the probability is that there could not be another three firings. The number of replacement rockets is not sufficient to enable that to be done. We should ask, also, whether these rockets could be fired from more than the one place. Every potential enemy this side of the North Pole would know where they are. This is not good enough.
The Leader of the Opposition has told us to-night of the basis of Labour’s defence policy. This is the minimum that this country must have. We must have the three field forces of permanent troops. We must have an extra field brigade, from which we could draw troops to meet any obligation to the United Nations, Seato or any other similar organization. The people of this country are entitled to know that their money is being spent in a way that will enable us to meet any crisis, should it arise. It is not good enough to go shopping for a defence force. We must be able to produce it here, to maintain it here and to replace it here. Above all, our force must bc sufficiently large. We must have men trained to use our defences effectively.
.– This is one of the most exhilarating experiences, I think, that we have ever had. The Opposition has shown a complete reversal of form. Apparently it has suddenly found out about defence. We have had the words of generals quoted and we have been told that they are intimate friends of Opposition members. I do not decry this, but I may say that I received a letter from a retired general who was in New Guinea. Referring to the last debate on defence, he said that he oft time sat and thought of Labour Ministers hanging from eucalypts. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) referred to General Blarney. When General Blarney retired from his office he was asked what reward he wanted from a grateful Labour government. He said: “ I do not want anything. Ali I want to do after I leave the barracks is to attack your Government. I will do it at every opportunity.”
We have heard honorable member opposite tell us what they will do when they come into office. The Australian Labour Parly has made a quick flip on a number of points. Let us take the Malaysia situation. Labour now says: “ We will stand by Malaysia after all. We are all happy together. Labour is with you; all is safe in the world.” The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 1 2th March last reported -
The Leader of the Opposition Mr. A. A. Calwell said tonight that the Labour Parly would oppose any Australian commitment to defend Malaya or the Malaysian Federation.
What has happened since then? Has the Opposition heard that there will be an election? We have heard other warriors on the other side of the committee say what they will do. They have also boasted that they have never reduced a defence vote. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) on 5th October, 1961, said -
We on this side of the chamber are assailed for saying that our troops ought to get out of Malaya. What has Malaya to do with us? Our troops are there only because of old-fashioned thinking.
In the Senate, Senator Cavanagh said -
I am enunciating Labour policy . . . Whether we like it or not, Communism reigns over a large portion of the globe … If we spend more on international co-operation with all countries of the world we would do more to defend Australia than by purchasing extra armament and munitions.
I could quote the words of many other Opposition members; their remarks are equally as interesting. I believe that the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) will speak later. He is the chairman of the Opposition’s defence committee, I believe, and is also, I understand, an office bearer in the A. and N.Z. Peace Corps. The honorable member, who no doubt will speak with valour and vigour of what Labour will do, said this -
Honorable members opposite are the scaremongers. We are not the ones who say we must defend ourselves against the surging hordes from the north. In fact, we say those hordes will never come. 1 agree in principle with quite a lot of what the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) has said, but when he paints the picture of the hordes coming down tomorrow, I think he knows himself that the immediate threat is not perhaps as great as he would like to make out it is.
The Government has the advice of its advisers, both of the Department of Defence and the Department of External Affairs, as to the requirements of the strategic situation and of our alliances before making a decision as to the size and shape of our armed forces. Have events in South-East Asia today produced a situation different from that which existed two years ago? We have now a common border with a neighbouring nation, which at times appears, to say the least, to behave in a most irrational manner. We do not ourselves pose any threat to any nation. We in Australia, require only to live in peace with our neighbours, but we have made it clear that we have responsibilities to our friends and allies and that we are prepared to honour our defence agreements.
Australia’s contribution to the allied strategy has been the provision of a highlytrained force, well armed with the most up-to-date weapons and equipment. The emphasis has not been so much on numbers as on mobility, equipment and fire power. It was interesting to hear the General Officer Commanding Eastern Command, in Sydney, when he retired, say that the Army had never been in a better state of readiness. Our forces are self-contained, in that they have their own logistic support and they have effective close air and naval support. The most important feature, however, is that they are ready to move into any theatre when required at short notice.
The concept that in any attack on Australia an enemy would suffer the disadvantage that its navy and air force would have to operate from remote bases and would have difficulty in establishing the superiority necessary as a preliminary for a land invasion has always meant that top priority has been given to the maintenance of the Royal Australian Regiment and the Royal Australian Air Force in Malaya and that our forces should be ready to move at short notice from Australia so that the gap between the Communist advance in SouthEast Asia and Australia should be maintained. It enables us to play our part wherever required with allied countries in deterring and resisting aggression should it occur. The Australian Labour Party over the last years does not seem to have agreed with this policy.
The aim has been, and I think rightly so, to provide well-equipped forces sufficient to carry out these duties. No greater demands on man-power, money and other national resources are made than are absolutely necessary, bearing in mind that, as a young country, industry and resources must bc developed, for in the event of any war these have a most important part to play. Man-power must to-day be backed by industrial power and armaments, supported in turn by a developed economy. Experience over the last year has shown that the fluctuations in the international situation in regard to South-East Asia particularly make the accurate foreseeing of military requirements very difficult. Nevertheless, an attempt must be made to establish a broad framework within which long-term planning can proceed. This the Government has undertaken.
It should be noted that about 65 per cent, of our total defence expenditure goes on man-power - on pay, clothing, feeding and accommodation. Therefore, it is just as important to exercise proper planning in terms of economy of man-power as it is in planning the purchase of new weapons and so on. Surely good defence planning must always strike a balance between men and weapons, and ensure that there are enough men and no more than enough to employ efficiently the greatest weapon power we can buy with the remaining money. If too much is spent on men, there must be an equivalent reduction in the amount to be spent on equipment. .
– Talk to the committee!
– The Prime Minister made this point when he introduced the increased defence vote in May. I did not hear the interjection of the honorable member for Fremantle, but I suggest he go and have a further hour’s meditation.
– He asked you to speak to the committee, instead of reading to it.
– I am sorry; I apologize. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in his statement on defence on 22nd May, 1963, announced an increased expenditure of about £205,800,000. These figures do not include the cost of the replacement bomber, which is expected to be in the vicinity of £100,000,000. The figures do not preclude further expenditure should it be considered necessary. However, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) made the point, and it is worth remembering in reference to the re-equipment programme, that naval vessels have to be designed, laid down, built and equipped over a considerable period of time and that aircraft cannot be bought out of existing stocks. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) seems to think that they can be provided at a moment’s notice. In peace-time the Army cannot suddenly be strengthened quickly numerically and in terms of equipment and training. Because of the time factor, particularly in buyin, the most suitable and modern equipment, defence increases are smaller in the earlier part than in the later part of the programme. No government should announce a dramatic defence expenditure for 1963-64 just for the sake of doing so or for election purposes. The grand gesture of a large increase which is expected from the Opposition’s policy speech should be accompanied by details of what it expects to spend the increase on. Let it be understood that from the time a decision is made to buy most intricate defence equipment a period of at least three or four years passes before delivery can be expected.
It is essential to consider what is the threat of the present and of the future. In the event of attack to-day would we expect to be alone? The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Cray) intimated that he thought this could happen. I suggested that in view of Labour’s policy perhaps he knows more than I know. In the event of attack to-day could we expect to be alone? The facts of the situation at present suggest that we could not. The United States has confirmed that any attack on Papua and New Guinea and the Australian mainland would be answered by American force. The British in Malaysia equally would be committed to us as wc are to them. Aircraft of the Royal Air Force Bomber Command and the United States Tactical Air Force are available in the close vicinity. Could an enemy support and maintain an effective force in any major engagement with little shipping, little, if any, essential supporting industry and a bankrupt economy? On Sunday last the Leader of the Opposition stated that the Indonesian Air Force could give 24 hours notice and annihilate any Australian capital city. Does the honorable gentleman know what he is talking about? His statement is an insult to the Royal Australian Air Force. It is based on ignorance. It is not becoming to the dignity of a man such as the Leader of the Opposition to make such a statement.
I do not think that at present there is a great threat but I do consider that in a few years that threat could develop. The real threat for South-East Asia and for the South-East Asia Treaty Organization is the eroding of the overall position of security in the small countries of South-East Asia by the actions of subversive para-military and para-diplomatic agencies. We must plan to see that if our allies are committed elsewhere in the future we can hold against any threat that may confront us. We must be prepared to co-operate with our allies in planning for the future threats that may confront us. If we are not prepared to co-operate we cannot wonder if our allies decide to ignore us. We must show that we are genuinely doing our utmost to meet our commitments. This the Government has undertaken. But where does the Labour Party stand? The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) said: “There is no threat from the north. In fact wc say that the hordes will never come.” The honorable member for Parkes said, “ I believe the best defence measure we could take would be to ensure that we have a railway system of uniform gauge throughout the entire continent”. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) said: “What have wc to fear from China? I have said that wc need have no fear whatever of the People’s Republic of China. China is concerned only with her own development for peaceful purposes.” On 12th March, 1.963, the Leader of the Opposition, in a statement published in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, said that in no circumstances could the Labour Party support a defence commitment to Malaya or the Malaysian federation. How much hypocrisy is coming from the other side of this issue? This is something the people of Australia must know. They must know the Opposition’s attitude to Malaysia and the communication station at North West Cape. They must know many other things before honorable members opposite go out and ask the people to place their confidence in the Labour Party.
.- Until recently the Government assumed that our allies would always be fighting alongside us and that they would hold the line until we could mobilize our forces. The Government has been blind to all but cold war considerations. We are now being forced to examine this exclusive approach - an approach which has caused such confusion and waste in our defence expenditure over the last ten years. The situation has changed dramatically in our area in recent years and requires a new appreciation. In the long run our greatest threats come from Communist China, but there are dangers distinct from and additional to China. There is also the possibility of Russian involvement in our area. Australians do not want to become involved in an arms race in our part of the world, but we must step up our preparedness. We now know that our allies expect more of us. We now know that circumstances may sometimes prevent them from aiding us to the full or at once. Sometimes United States of America’s overriding objective - the containment of Communism - may divert its attention from developments which greatly concern Australia. Britain’s other commitments may on occasions limit what she can do in SouthEast Asia.
The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) recently committed this country to the defence of Malaysia. But Australia lacks the defence forces to give his words real meaning. This is not surprising in view of our declining expenditure on defence. In 1952-53-
– Who said this?
– You can get this from the Budget. In 1952-53 we spent 4.8 per cent, of our gross national product on defence. Last year we spent 2.7 per cent. If we were to restore our defence expenditure to the earlier ratio we would be spending about £350,000,000 a year on defence. Docs the Government suggest that the risks to-day in areas near our shores arc less than they were tcn years ago or is the economy so impoverished that we cannot afford to spend as much as we did ten years ago?
Despite the Government’s new and expanded five-year programme, announced last May, the percentage of our gross national product spent on defence is likely to remain much the same at the end of the programme as it was before the programme commenced unless new equipment is purchased. The £270,000,000 which the Government proposes to spend in 1967-68 will still be only about 2.7 per cent, of the gross national product - the same percentage as is spent at present. The Government’s programme tails off rapidly in its later years. Defence expenditure over the next five years will increase by 12 per cent., 7 per cent., 6 per cent, and 3 per cent., annually and then decrease by 3 per cent, in the last year. Even if we increased expenditure to the level of ten years ago it would still be small compared wilh amounts spent by our principal allies.
The recent increases and improvements in our military forces introduced no new strategic principles. They merely contributed further to the defensive aspects of military power. The increases and improvements included a new escort maintenance ship and further anti-submarine capacity for the navy; a third battle group for the Army; and additional transport, improved transport support and 100 Mirage fighters for the Air Force.
We lack an effective reconnaissance strike force which could reach out and attack an enemy’s air strength, thus preventing him from reinforcing or supporting his ground troops while providing our ground forces with the essential cover that wc would need against superior numbers. The chief threats to Australia come at the moment from non-nuclear countries with very large conventional forces. The establishment of a strategic force is the alternative, and in our position the most sensible alternative, to spending large sums of money on a considerable army of jungle fighters performing the kind of role once preferred for our forces by our British and American allies. The establishment of such a non-nuclear strike force is also an alternative to us acquiring nuclear weapons, the acquisition of which would make us a greater target and encourage other countries in our area to acquire nuclear weapons as well. A modern air force is of paramount importance for a country like Australia, which is very sparsely populated and technically advanced. An air force economizes on manpower and allows us to take advantage of our technical and industrial prowess, ft enables us to anticipate and repel an invading force by sca or an attacking force in the air, on the sca or under the sca.
There has been gross delay in re-equipping the Royal Australian Air Force with both fighters and bombers. In September. 1955, the then Minister for Defence said that a mission had visited the United Kingdom and the United States of America for replacement types of aircraft. In 1957, the Prime Minister said-
We are planning to re-arm with fighter aircraft of a performance equivalent to the Lockheed F104.
In 1959, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) said -
A suitable replacement for the Sabre remains an important objective.
In 1962, the decision was finally made to purchase the Mirage. It will, be operational ten years after the decision to replace the Sabre was made. That the Government could finally make a decision is praiseworthy. However, the decision itself is open to several reservations. Firstly, a bomber replacement should have been made before or at the same time as the fighter replacement. The major function of fighter aircraft to-day is to defend bomber bases. Secondly, do we get the best value from 100 Mirage fighters by themselves? In his most recent statement, the Prime Minister said that the Government proposed to take up the option on a further 40, making 100 in all. If we had limitless funds this would be well and good, but to have 100 fighters and no supersonic bombers is stupidity itself.., Within the terms of the Government’s defence budget, we would have got better value for our money by reducing the number of fighters and buying bombers. There is no balance in our Air Force to-day. Thirdly, fighters rely on very modern control equipment and can only operate within a very limited area.
– If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition thinks there is no balance in our Air Force to-day-
– You were grounded a year ago. Fighters can only operate within a very limited area. They are only as mobile as their control centres. In May this year, the Prime Minister said -
Since the effective employment of fighter aircraft depends more than ever on adequate ground control of their movements and operations, we have approved the purchase of two new control and reporting units. One of them is to be at Brookvale in New South Wales and the other is to bc mobile.
These new control and reporting units will replace existing units at Sydney and Butterworth. Thus the new fighters will only be able to operate at peak efficiency at Butterworth and Sydney, and to a lesser extent at Darwin, where at present there is a control and reporting unit. We will have first-class fighter protection in a very limited area around Butterworth, Sydney and Darwin, for the reason that there are bomber bases at those places to protect. In 1957, the Prime Minister said -
Mobile control and reporting units will be set up at Darwin and Perth.
He has not fulfilled his promise for Perth which, along with all other Australian centres, apart from Darwin and Sydney, remains unprotected from air attack. The undefended centres will not be able to have even Sabre protection, for the Royal Australian Air Force simply has not got the men or the organization to keep both Mirages and Sabres flying together. Surface-to-air guided weapons are located at Williamtown. They are said to be mobile, but to all intents and purposes they would be immobile in war time. (/ The main force which could deter i’ attacks on Australia is a modern bomber strike force, which would have a greater chance of getting through to its targets and particularly the enemy’s bomber bases., But, as with fighters, the Government has delayed time and time again. In 1955 a replacement for the Canberra was under consideration. In March, 1960, the former Minister for Air said that the replacement of the bomber was - probably the most important task facing the air force.
In his defence statement last May, the Prime Minister said that a team of experts was considering the problem. That team has now returned and fairly obviously made a recommendation for the Vigilante, but still no decision has been announced. The Minister for Defence has flown post-haste to America to try to clear up the matter before the election. The Labour Party believes that the Canberra should be replaced immediately. We have already missed one generation of bombers. Does the Government intend that we should miss another? We would acquire a small number of replacements, possibly the Vigilante or the Phantom, to fill the bill until the TFX of some other suitable plane is available in four or five years time. A small number of strike reconnaissance bombers could meet our needs for several years, whilst retaining in operation trained flying and ground crews.
Tn replacing the Canberras we cannot afford to wait until the TSR-2 or the TFX is available in 1968 or 1970. Both the Vigilante and the Phantom are now in service in America. There have been replacements available for the Canberra all along, despite the Government’s denials. In support of a bomber strike force, alternative air fields should bc available in northern Australia to disperse and regroup squadrons in the event of attack. This would require also the development of rail and road communications to service these bomber bases.
The naval position is even more unsatisfactory than that of the Air Force. We have a most efficient but extremely small navy. The Navy has suffered more than any other service from hesitation and policy changes. The Government is not sure whether it wants a fleet air arm or not. The five year programme initiated in 1.947 provided for two modern aircraft carriers. The Government is still living on that legacy, lt should not be the primary function of the Navy to carry out anti-submarine patrols and escort tasks within Seato, valuable as this is. lt should bc to defend Australia, and without support, if necessary. In 1959 the Government announced it was abandoning the Fleet Air Arm as a strike force. The Minister for Defence then said -
Cabinet has reached the decision that the Fleet Air Arm will noi be re-equipped when the present aircraft reach (he end of their service life in 1963.
This was followed by a complete volte face. In May this year the Prime Minister said -
We have reviewed our 1959 decision that fixedwing naval aviation should cease in 1963. After recent re-appraisals of the wing fatigue life of the Venoms and Gannets, and reports of the very low wastage and accident rate, wc have decided that fixed-wing flying is to continue until the Venoms and Gannets reach the end of their service life. This will be about 1967, when the position can bc reviewed.
There was a quite miraculous increase of four years in the service life of these planes. In 1959 it was said they would be worn out by 1963 and now they are to be operational until 1967. The Prime Minister said the position would be reviewed in four years and thus we get the worst of both worlds. We continue for four years with a situation which is already unsatisfactory.
If, at the end of that period, we decide to arrange replacements, four years will have been lost and it may be 1972 before we have the replacements then decided upon at last in operation.
A modern attack aircraft carrier would materially improve our defence capability. Such a carrier carries its own sea and air protection, although at present it would face problems against nuclear powered submarines. It is a capital ship with its own strike aircraft and, being mobile, gives those aircraft greater time over their targets. It would be a valuable adjunct to a land based bomber strike force.
In January, 1963, the Government announced that it intended to acquire four Oberon class submarines, four years after announcing that it was looking at the matter. Submarines can be a very effective deterrent force as well as a useful antisubmarine force. They also serve a very useful role in the training of other antisubmarine forces. They will become a key branch of the Royal Australian Navy in the future. The Labour Party believes that the strike capacity of the Navy should bc increased. The technical advice we receive from naval experts, when in Government, will determine what form that development should take. We give this undertaking: We will not defer decisions on the re-equipment of the Navy.
We will not prejudice our naval defences as this Government is doing. We will not shrink from the costs necessary for the proper defence of Australia.
– I must apologize for having missed some of the earlier parts of the speech by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). I was listening to him and I kept asking, “ What are you reading? “ It was not until a few moments ago that I realized he was reading his speech and not extracts from “ Hansard “ or some other document. The first time I realized that he was really speaking about our defence needs was when he said that Labour believed we should have a modern Air Force. I want to take him up on that. I want to know what he thinks we should have, and I shall tell him and honorable members what we do have.
In the first place, he said there had been gross delay in re-equipping the Royal Australian Air Force with fighters and bombers to replace the Sabres and Canberras. I shall deal first with Canberras. To begin with, until fairly recently there really has been no suitable replacement for the Canberra bomber. If there had been, obviously the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force would not still have the Canberra in service. The plain fact of the matter is that the Canberra was and, within certain limits, is a very useful aircraft. Any plane which was built after the Canberra, particularly by the United States, was built with the idea of carrying nuclear weapons, not with the idea of carrying a small load of conventional bombs for a considerable distance. It is all very well to say that we should replace the Canberra. I do not think there is a person in Australia who would not like to replace it, but the question is: How do we replace it? Because the R.A.A.F. and the Government realized that we need to replace the Canberra bomber, we sent an evaluation team abroad early this year which looked at five aircraft that the members of the team thought might be suitable replacements. They made a very long, detailed and exacting assessment of what was available. Of course, this is not something into which you rush blindly. When you intend to spend between £75,000,000 and £100,000,000 or even more of the taxpayers’ money you do not rush in and say, “ This aircraft is very nice so we will place an order for it “.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that we should first order something like the Phantom or the Vigilante and then later buy the TFX and the TSR-2. Does he realize that it would cost £75,000,000 for just two squadrons of Phantoms or Vigilantes. Then in four years another £75,000,000 would be required for the newer aircraft, not to mention the problems of converting pilots and ground crews to one type and then reconverting them later to the other. Do you throw away the first aircraft, on which you have spent £75,000,000 or more?
– Trade them in.
– Who would want them? It is all very well to say that we should trade them in, but obviously every air force wants the latest and best aircraft available. Because the Opposition seems to hold the view that we have no defence forces, I shall give honorable members and the public an idea of what we have in our Air Force and what we are doing to re-equip it. I was glad that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not indulge in flights of imagination, as his leader did earlier. The Leader of the Opposition let his tongue run wild. He said that we were equipped with boomerangs and broomsticks. Can you imagine a man who is supposed to be the responsible leader of a party and the alternate leader of a government using language of that kind?
– You realize that your colleagues were roaring at us, “Who are you preparing against? “ It is only fair that we should ask the same of you.
– I am sorry, but 1 do not grasp what you are getting at. The Leader of the Opposition said that we had nothing with which to defend ourselves. Let me deal with the Air Force. I shall point out what a modern air force requires and what we have to match it. You need a strike reconnaissance element; you need a fighter element; you need a transport element; you need a maritime or antisubmarine element; you need close ground support for the Army; you need logistic support for moving ammunition and equipment to the Army; and finally you need a search and rescue element. I shall take each category, indicate the way in which we are equipped and then mention the plans that we have in mind for replacement and re-equipment. In the fighter element, honorable members know that we have received the first of our new aircraft. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that we should not have delayed as long as we have and that we should have taken the F1040 Starfighter. I am very glad that we did not take the Starfighter because from an Australian point of view the aircraft that we are getting is far superior to the Starfighter and is undoubtedly the best fighter aircraft that is flying in Europe. I would say that it is one of the two best fighter aircraft in the world. The Mirages are just coming into service. Only last week we sent a transport aircraft to France to pick up the first one for the R.A.A.F. We hope to see the first
Australian-manufactured aircraft flying cither at the end of November or early in December.
– Before 30th November?
Mr. FAIRBAIRN__ I think it would be a very good boost. It might mean that we would win even more than the eight or ten additional seats which we expect to win. It will be some time before these aircraft will be fully operational. In the meantime we have a first-class fighter in the Sabre. Any one who knows anything about fighter aircraft will realize this, lt is all very well for Opposition members to say that we have nothing and that we are fighting with broomsticks. What a futile way to speak! Our Sabres are superior to those in operation with the Tactical Air Command of the United States Air Force because they are equipped with the . Rolls-Royce engine whereas those flying with the United States Air Force have an engine of slightly less power. If the United States Air Force is still using the Sabre and is likely to use it for some time, obviously the Sabre will be useful to us for a long time. Honorable members know that our Sabres are equipped with the Sidewinder air-to-air homing missile, which has improved their capabilities very considerably.
– Have we any night fighters?
– No. Why do we need night fighters? The honorable member will be happy to know that some night fighters fere stationed at Singapore and the Mirage is an all-weather fighter.
Now I come to the strike reconnaissance element. Wc have an aircraft which is also in operation with the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force. It has given very good service and undoubtedly will continue to give very good service with us. On the maritime side we have 23 P2V7’s and P2V5’s. Honorable members know that there are no better aircraft for searching for and finding submarines, with the possible exception of the Orion which is in service with the United States Air Force. That aircraft has exactly the same equipment as have our P2V7’s, but it has a slightly longer range.
– Are they Neptunes?
– Yes. Once again we find that the air force is very well equipped in respect of this aspect of its operations. This is also true with regard to the transport function. We have our Hercules C130’s, than which there would be nothing better operating anywhere in the world. The Americans ( may have some planes with slightly larger capacity, but as a general purpose aircraft, whether for dropping paratroopers or carrying equipment for the Army or the Air Force itself, you would not find a better aircraft operating anywhere in the world.
– The Americans have given ten of them to Indonesia.
– That shows that they must consider them good aircraft. On the search and rescue and logistic side, for the Army, we have the Iroquois helicopters. We have some of them in service, and we are increasing the number to 24. We are also getting the Caribou, a first-class short takeoff and landing aircraft, which can take off in 1,000 feet and carry a bomb-load of 4 tons.
– You will have more planes than you have pilots.
– I would be very happy if we were in that position. We have a very considerable number of pilots. I can assure the honorable member that we have some 800 or 900 pilots in the Air Force, and these are more than enough to man all the aircraft we have at the present time, or are likely to have.
Look at what has been achieved during the last year. I think this is a really good defence record from the point of view of the Royal Australian Air Force. First, the Mirage III. 0 has come into service and is starting to roll off the assembly line. We have increased our order from 60 to 100. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said he thinks we do not need as many as 100 fighters, but what he does not realize is that these are not only fighters-
– I said that in the absence of any bombers there is a lack of balance.
– And I am explaining that these aircraft not only have a capability as interceptors; they also have a capability as bombers. They are well equipped, with good range and good bomb-load capacity. We will have 94 Sabres and 100 Mirages. Each of them could carry 2,000 lb. of bombload and go quite a considerable distance. So you will have a fighter-bomber of firstclass capability.
I was running through what has been achieved in the last year. For tactical support we have added another eight Iroquois helicopters and we are now up to 24 of these. They can carry over 4,000 lb. of load or nine fully equipped troops. Any honorable members who went out and watched the demonstration given at the Air Force unit here knows what a good job they can do. We have our Caribous coming into service. We have airfield works at Darwin, Amberley and Williamtown. We have undertaken to build a new aerodrome at Tindall in the Northern Territory, which will increase our ability to operate in the north. Wc are spending about £5,000,000 on new base buildings. We are increasing the number of personnel from 16,440 to 18,300. Lastly, of course, we sent our evaluation team abroad, and its report is being considered by the Government at the present time.
I am speaking only from the point of view of the Air Force, but I feel that in respect of defence in all its aspects, whether Army, Navy, Air Force or Supply, the Government has done a remarkable amount. It is interesting to see the new look in the Labour Party on defence. It is quite obvious what has happened; an election is coming “up and the Opposition is playing for Democratic Labour Party preferences. Honorable members opposite are now trying to interject, but is it not obvious that they have said, “ The only way we can get D.L.P. preferences is by showing that we have altered our view on defence “? Is it not obvious that this is one of their tactics? Are they not saying: “ We have a new look. It is perfectly true that we spent £54,000,000 on defence in the year when we went out of office, but put us back now and we will spend a fantastic amount on defence.”?
– Are they the same pounds as those of to-day?
– No, they are not. That £54,000,000 would be worth to-day just under £100,000,000, and we are spending £250,000,000.
– The basic wage is two and a half times as much as it was in those days.
– No, it is not. We are spending £250,000,000 on defence and the amount will be increased again next year. It is quite obvious that we are seeing a sudden change of heart from people who have been constantly isolationist. We do not know what their policy is on having our troops abroad. Even if we were to get the aircraft that they speak of we do not know whether a Labour government would station them abroad. The present Government is doing and has done a good job on defence, and you certainly could not trust the Opposition if it ever came to power.
.- The Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn) was all at. sea. His politics, his arithmetic and his history were all in error. He made a few passing references to the efforts of the Government to establish an all-round defence force. He admits that the Government has no solution to such problems as that of a night fighter. We know that this is not a very easy subject to handle. Are we to presume that the enemy will come only in daylight? Of course it will not. One of the sins, of which this Minister in particular is guilty is that of complacency. We heard him only last week telling us that we have probably the best air force in the the world.
– Better than any in Europe, he said.
– Yes, second to none in most things and better than most in all things. This attitude on the part of the Minister is surely inadmissible. I look at the figures and I find that during its term of office this Government has spent £2,300,000,000 on defence. That is a fantastic sum. It is four or five times the total cost of the Snowy Mountains scheme. It is three times the total cost of all Australian railway systems established since the first sleeper was laid over 100 years ago. So the people of Australia are entitled to ask: What is the guarantee of Australia’s security that we have gained from this expenditure? Looking at the present, state of world .affairs we nrc not at all sure that we have the insurance for which we are paying the premiums. lt is the Labour Party’s determination to defend this country and to see that it is defensible, to see that any potential enemy will realize this and to see that the people of Australia will have proper confidence in our defence. The Government is running five or six years behind in its thinking on this question. It is completely out of touch with the requirements of the situation. It docs not realize that Australia has to depend principally, perhaps, upon itself. I think it is reasonable to suggest, in to-day’s world, that we stand on our own feet wherever possible.
Australia has particular difficulties, of course. There are only 11,000,000 of us, but we would have a great mobilization capacity if the basis of organization was established. There are 1,000,000 or 1,500,000 men of military age in this country. That is the reservoir from which wc will draw the recruits for our Services. Consider the numbers in the Services. One honorable member opposite pointed out that the citizen forces had declined in the last twelve months or so. What is wrong wilh the Government’s recruiting programme? What is wrong with the Services that there arc 33,000 in the citizen forces at this time, while there were 78,000,. I think, in 1938, when the population was about 7,000,000? Either the message has not got through to the people or the organization cannot cater for more recruits. We on this side of the House are convinced that Australia can defend itself against any possible aggressor. In answer to the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess), who spoke about the surging hordes and so on, I say that I still do not think they will come; but, as in anything else in life, we need insurance. We insure brick houses in suburban streets. We do not think there will be a fire, but we still take out an insurance policy.
It is a mark of confidence in ourselves that we should place less reliance on people overseas. Apart from the sin of complacency and extravagance with which this Government has beset us in its defence programme, there is a lack of confidence in itself at every stage. I refer particularly to the “ equipment by shopping “ programme.
We buy our aircraft overseas. The Govern, ment inherited an expanding aircraft industry, but that industry has been frustrated at every turn. We buy aircraft principally from the United States. Now we are buying some from France. We buy our ships from overseas. We buy them from wherever we can get them.
We buy our weapons overseas. When we look at the booklet “ Defence Report 1963 “ that has been issued, we see a picture of the Eniac missile which, I understand, is made in France. What is wrong with Australian industry? What is wrong with Australian scientists? Why have we no confidence in ourselves in these matters? I believe that in organization we are imitators. 1 do not believe that the current organization of the Citizen Military Forces and the Australian Regular Army is the one which will provide the answer to the defence needs of Australia. We face unique prom.len,s. Australia has 3,000,000 square miles, 11,000,000 people, 12,000 miles of coastline and a completely inadequate internal transport system, and is isolated from overseas countries. I do not believe that the answers are to be found in imitative organization. We propose certain increases in the strength of the services and a reorganization programme to overcome the disabilities.
I thought the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) reached a new low to-night in his approach to this question. It is reasonable to expect honorable members opposite to oppose our policies and attack them; but, although the honorable member for Barker came into this Parliament after a good deal of academic distinction had been showered upon him, he seems to be a little weak in history, like the Minister for Air. Who established the Royal Naval College and the Royal Military College? Although we would not introduce it now, who introduced universal service before the 1914-18 war? Who founded the Australian Regular Army? Who established the Fleet Air Arm? What about the Woomera rocket range, which the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) talks about with a great deal of pride? What about the aircraft industry which was established during and after the Second World War?
– And the aircraft carriers.
– Yes, what about the aircraft carriers? What about the planning for the purchase of the Canberras and Sabres with which apparently we are still being defended? That is the history of the Labour Party. It is nonsense for honorable members opposite to try to cloud the issue with untruths and half-truths. We challenge them on these questions: Whether we are concerned about the defence of this country, whether we are capable of defending it and whether or not history supports us. The answer to each of those questions is “ Yes “.
Let us consider the errors that this Government has made in its expenditure of £2,300,000,000. National service training cost us £150,000,000. It drained the services of their best resources for years on end and it was abandoned because it was proved to be what we said it was in the first place. What about the re-equipment of the “Hobart”? It was outfitted twice and then towed away with hardly ever a sea-going sailor treading its decks. Apparently the Morshead report has been ignored, because there is no integration of the services, so far as we can see. There is a collapse in the shipping industry.
Looking at the defence needs of this country from this side of the chamber, we see what is needed. We want mobility. We want our man-power accessible and expandable. We want fire power for our services. We want an industrial backing. We look at the situation as the Government has prepared for it. How do we stand to-day? Has the internal mobility of the nation changed at all over the last thirteen or fourteen years? We have standardized a few hundred miles of railway line. But would it be any easier to move thousands of people from the south of Australia to the north of Australia now than it was twenty years ago? It would not be a great deal easier. In respect of the integration of the national transport system with the defence of the nation, I agree with the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) that it is logical that the north would be the part of Australia to which we would have to turn, and how could we shift our major defence forces to places in the north? Could we mobilize any better now than we could about twenty years ago?
Then we look at the man-power component of the Australian services. As I pointed out earlier, the Citizen Military Forces, which have always been the background to the expansion of Australian services, have been reduced in size and are declining even under the present programme. We believe that the citizen forces is the logical base from which to expand the Australian defence services. We do not necessarily envisage great armies. I believe - I think this is part of the pattern of history - that unless you have all the staff and the basic unit structure you cannot expand your services. How would we take the eight or twelve combatant service units and expand them to cater for 100,000 men? We believe that the citizen forces has become the Cinderella of the services system. Success will be achieved only by an expansion of those forces and an integration of them into the community generally. A completely different concept from the one that we used to train men before the Second World War is probably necessary. There are great skills and resources in the community which ought to be on tap. The airmen who fly commercial aircraft ought to be members of the reserve. The people who work in the airline industry at the airports ought to be members of the reserve. All these things ought to be integrated. All of us ought to know what we would do.
Let us look at the industrial backing. The two principal components, which this Government has neglected, are the aircraft industry and the shipping industry. They are basic to any defence system. We challenge the Government on those matters. It is quite obvious that there has been no attempt to improve those industries and to put Australia in a position of self-sufficiency. Whilst we challenge the Government on these matters, we believe that it is time a national plan was produced. To-night the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) set out the way in which we would go about doing that. We are prepared to face up to the responsibility of expanded expenditure. We believe that the Australian community is prepared to face up to these responsibilities when it is challenged with them.
We believe that the bomber question is one of great urgency. It is now too late for the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) to go overseas a few short weeks before the election in an attempt to give a flurry of urgency to what in the past has been a lack of planning. The Minister for Air tells us that this is a difficult question and that we arc unable to do this sort of shopping. He says that we just cannot buy aircraft off the hook; that it is not as easy as he would wish. It is time for more imagination to be shown and for greater development of Australia’s services to take place. How much are we co-operating with Great Britain in these matters?
The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that we believe that there should be some stretegic replacement of Australian bases and that Western Australia should not be treated as if it were not part of the federation. Apart from air force establishments, there is room in Western Australia for naval and army establishments. That would be part of the re-structuring of the services. The Pacific Islands Regiment is basic to the development of a sense of national selfsufficiency among the people of Papua. It is a pity that the Government - I suppose the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) is principally responsible for this - has not yet found an opportunity to introduce any Papuans to the commissioned ranks. I understand that some Papuans are in training.
This is a late hour in the last few weeks of this Parliament; but for some years now we on this side of the chamber have been challenging the Government on all of these points. Although the Government has brought down its new plans and new programmes from time to time, we have searched in vain for any consistent policy to make Australia self-sufficient. We say that industrial self-sufficiency, which can only be based on the development of Australian scientific achievement and the development of our scientific services, will place us in a position where we will be able to play our part in our defence and will be ready to help the United Nations, if called upon to do so - it is many years now since we have been able to do that - and will place Australia in an inviolable position. Those are the points on which we challenge the Government’s record on defence services over the last fourteen years. We did not choose this battle-ground for the coming action. The Prime Minister has said that he needs a greater majority so that he can produce a better defence policy and a better policy on external affairs. The right honorable gentleman has not announced what has been wrong in these matters, but it is quite clear that if there is anything wrong with the defence of Australia, this Government, which has been in office for fourteen years and has spent astronomical sums on the defence services, is the guilty party.
– It is good to find the spokesmen of the Labour Party so eager for an expanded defence vote, but I am afraid that this attitude can be greeted only with modified rapture, because this is a new-found zeal. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) spoke of a flurry of urgency on the Government side in the matter of defence, but this is a new flurry of urgency on his side. Time after time in this Parliament we have heard members of the Opposition deprecating any increase in the defence vote. Now they agree with the Government. Both sides agree that an expanded defence vote is necessary - and indeed it is. The new circumstances which are emerging in our quarter of the globe and throughout the world call for a much increased defence vote. Both the Government and the Opposition say this, but which will best carry out its promises? Perhaps the Government has been slow in moving forward. If so, it has been slow because it has been taking too much notice of the criticisms which from year to year have been advanced from the other side against the defence programme. We are moving forward. Much cannot be achieved overnight. Perhaps we started late, but we are moving forward. Labour has altogether a new-found zeal in this cause, which cannot be trusted because it is trotted out just before an election.
The Deputy Leader of the Oppostion (Mr. Whitlam) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) have called witness from their party’s historical past. How much validity has their claim? They say that it was Labour, in the years from 1941 onwards, which mobilized the Australian defence effort. Let me say again what I have said here on many previous occasions: The truth is that the infected sections of the Labour Party in 1939, 1940 and the first half of 1941 worked very hard to sabotage the Australian defence effort. This is not by any means true of all members of the Labour Party. It is true of the infected sections of the Labour Party, which, unfortunately, is still very much connected with the Communist Party. In 1939 and 1940 the Communists and the Nazis were on side against us. They were on the same side. During that time the prosecution of the effort by Australia was deliberately impeded by Communist conspirators, who found allies in the Labour Party. During the early part of the war Australia was tripped up in its war effort because some sections of the Labour Party were on side against us.
– Who is “ us “?
– “ Us “ is Australia. Some elements of the Labour Party co-operated with the Communists, who, because of Russia’s alliance with Hitler’s Germany, were endeavouring to sabotage the war effort. Let us get the dates right. In June of 1941 Hitler turned on his ally Stalin and attacked Russia. It was then that the Communists, who had been endeavouring to sabotage the war effort and had been the active allies of the Nazis when France was falling and in the worst days of the Battle of Britain, suddenly turned around, and the war became a just war. Two or three months later the Labour Party came to power. At this time the Communists were on side, not with Hitler, but with us. We were fighting with Russia as allies. There was no conflict between the Communist Party and the interests of the Australian nation, so far as the prosecution of the war was concerned. Labour was therefore able to mobilize the war effort, free of the impediments which the allies of Labour had put in the way of the Menzies Government in the earlier times.
It is true, therefore, that Labour had a much easier task. The historical parallel which has been called into witness by the Labour Party has a fatal flaw in that Labour did not come to power until the Communists were our allies. This means quite clearly that in the present situation, when our potential enemies are Communists, we cannot have an effective defence policy with Labour in power because, unfortunately, Labour is still infected with communism. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) only a few minutes ago made the considered statement -.that ‘.China and Russia are potentially our main enemies. The Labour Party is particularly infected with communism through its controlling body, its conference. I do not want to level this charge indiscriminately against members of the Labour Party. I know that the majority of them are loyal to Australia. Unhappily, the organization of the Labour Party is of such a character that communism has a considerable influence upon its policy. It is unfortunately true that communism has a great influence upon the Labour conference, which decides its policy on defence and other matters, even down to detail.
Earlier this evening the honorable mcmmer for Batman (Mr. Benson) said that he is not ashamed of doing what the 36 faceless men ask him to do. He will do it because he is pledged to do it. He has shown by his actions that he will do what he is told to do by the 36 men. Even in matters of detail concerning the United States naval communication station at North West Cape the Leader of the Opposition could not move without the permission of the 36 men. I am not going into the details of personalities. They are on record in “ Hansard “. Is it to be denied that there is a Communist influence at work in the conference of the 36?
That conference was for some time deadlocked on the vote - I think it was eighteen each way - as to whether the Communist policy should be adopted or not, whether the North West Cape project should be sabotaged or not and whether it would run the way that the Communists “ Tribune “ asked that it should run or not. How futile it is to pretend that this Communist influence nc longer exists in the Labour Party! Of course it exists, and while it exists the Labour Party can never be trusted to carry out a defence policy for the security of Australia in any circumstances where the Communists are likely to be our enemies. ls it said to be but a paper tiger that the Communists are coming down against us? That is one of the unhappy realities of the situation, and, glad though I am to hear the Labour Party coming out and saying that it will support our defence programme, glad though I am to know that the Leader of the Opposition is perfectly sincere in what he says - I do give him credit for that - my rapture must be modified by the fact that I know that the Leader of the Opposition himself acknowledges, and his party acknowledges that from time to time they carry out the policies decided by an outside body, and that that outside body is elected in ways which give the Communist Party a very considerable influence on iti policies. Knowing the way in which a small section of the Labour Party - I will grant that it was no more than a small section - infected by communism, was able in 1939 and 1940 to involve the Labour Party in what was virtually sabotage of our defence effort in the early days of the war, I can only draw from this history the inevitable conclusion that Labour cannot be trusted to carry out any defence policy in any circumstances where our enemies are likely to be Communists.
I do not propose going into details of what has been suggested by honorable members opposite. I thought some of their suggestions were admirable and some not so admirable. I will agree that we should be as self-sufficient as possible in our provision of defensive material, but this policy can be carried to absurd lengths because, in this world of quickening technological changes, a small country relying entirely on its own resources will always be fighting with obsolescent weapons I agree that wherever possible our weapons and our equipment should be provided locally, and this is possible with most of our base equipment, but when it comes to the technological equipment, the scientific equipment, and perhaps the more sophisticated weapons and the vehicles that carry them, then, if we are to have them efficient, we have got to go overseas. Unfortunately that is the position. I believe that in these circumstances our Australian defence cannot be carried out without a quite painful effort to ourselves. This will not be a.policy that can be applied without effort. It will not be something that can be shrugged off or made a political issue. I hope that it will not be. I believe that, perhaps tardily, the Government is now facing up to its responsibilities in this matter. Unhappily, although I know that many members of the Opposition are quite sincere, and although I believe the Leader of the Opposition to be sincere in this matter, I do not believe that the Opposition could with sincerity face up to and meet the great defence problems which lie in front of us.
.- To a slight extent, this debate has been a debate on foreign policy in relation to Malaysia; to a slight extent it has been a debate on the technicalities of defence; and for the rest of the time it has been a good oldfashioned slang whang of mutual abuse preparatory to an election which people fondly imagine impresses the electors outside and which I am prepared to bet has turned 1,000,000 knobs if 1,000,000 radio sets were tuned to this debate. I must say that I admire the belief of honorable members on the Government side in their capacity to make this an election issue because the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said it was. I shudder at the idea of trying to stand on a street corner and explain to women who are rushing past shopping, all these technical questions of night fighters, bomber replacements and expenditure which apparently it is believed will be the great issues of the election. Whichever party sits on the treasury bench, there are intractable problems in foreign policy and intractable problems in defence that will not yield to the kind of nonsense that has been talked by some of the people who have been directing abuse at the Opposition.’
Whether you are prepared to have troops in Malaysia or not is supposed to be the most paralysing issue in Australia. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) says that the preparation is against communism. I know of no immediate enemy in the mind of the Government except Indonesia, and the whole point is that the rug is likely to be pulled from underneath the feet of the Government of Indonesia precisely because the United States of America will press Malaysia, as she pressed Holland, into yielding positions to Indonesia because she feels that the alternative might be the collapse of the Indonesian Government and rule by communism in Indonesia.
The Government has given us exhibitions of very firm policies. It gave us a firm policy on Suez. John Foster Dulles would not support it, so it collapsed. Spender and Casey gave us firm policies on West New Guinea, and the Prime Minister told us that the basis of our policy was Dutch sovereignty. The United States would not support that, and it collapsed. Now’,’ very wishfully, with no public statement from any American political figure, the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) has come back from the United States of America and suggested that the United States might support our policy in Malaysia. If Subandrio was correctly quoted as saying the existence of Malaysia was a dissolving threat to Indonesia - and I think it is, for if Malaysia is efficiently governed it will attract parts of Indonesia like Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo to join it - then it is just as likely that if the United States comes to believe that the alternative to the policy now being pursued is that Indonesia will be dissolved and will be taken over by the Indonesian Communist Party and be subordinate to Communist China, the tenor of American foreign policy will be against what the Government wants. You may make all the propaganda in the world about your troops in Malaysia, but 700 soldiers in Malaysia will mean very little in those circumstances. Heavens above, if the presence of a handful of troops in Malaysia is supposed to be the most paralysing political issue before the Australian people to-day, I think a lot of people are pathetically misjudging the Australian people!
I hope that those troops are in a secure position. Indonesia lies between them and us, and if war breaks out in Indonesia their position, if there is any efficiency in Indonesian forces, is somewhat precarious. I put that with a question mark, because some have maintained that the Indonesians are not technically capable of maintaining ships and aircraft. I confess ignorance on that subject. I do not know whether they would be able to maintain their forces.
Ministers have spoken about the cost of bombers as being between £3,000,000 and £5,000,000 each. This means that 27 of them would cost between £81,000,000 and £135,000,000. How long will they last if war breaks out? Will they be expended within a week or two weeks? The problems of replacement appear to me, then, to be insuperable, if you have not a bomber industry. And I am not suggesting that you could have a bomber industry to make aircraft of this quality in Australia. At least, you ought to recognize that this is an intractable problem of defence that will not yield to political propaganda and that we have not any magic formula by which we could maintain supplies or produce the money that would -buy vast numbers of these aircraft. The Indonesian air force ought to be discussed in this context.
Honorable members opposite, and especially the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess), who was very aggressive towards the Opposition, wanted to know whom we envisaged war against. I suppose that that is a logical question. But nobody on the Government side has answered it, except, I suppose, to the extent that when honorable members opposite discuss Malaysia they envisage the possibility of war against Indonesia. Then we had the extraordinary line of criticism that no one on the Opposition side was entitled to say that defence was not adequate, because that would encourage an enemy to attack. This was a novel approach to the debate.
The Indonesian air force is in the unique position of obtaining military aircraft from both the United States of America and the Soviet Union. In 1961, it was given by the United States 35 piston-engine Mustang fighter-bombers and 15 piston-engine Invader bombers. The Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn) has told us about our Hercules transport aircraft. Indonesia was given 10 Lockheed C130 Hercules transports by the United States. It was given by the Soviet Union 100 MIG- 17 fighters, 20 TU-16 twin-jet strategic bombers, 40 Ilyushin 38’s and various transport aircraft such as AN-12’s and Ilyushin I4’s. The British evaluated this as a fairly powerful combat force. The only question is whether the Indonesian technicians can keep it flying. That, I understand, is a matter about which there is some doubt.
What is the sort of war that we envisage? If we envisage a nuclear war, Australia, with the kind of forces that wc have, is not in the picture. If we envisage the kind of war that could break out in South-East Asia, perhaps Australia is in the picture. While all these claims about the wonders of our defence forces are being made, 1 just invite honorable members opposite, when they talk about the Navy, to go into the Parliamentary Library and ask for “Jane’s Fighting Ships” of 1948, which is now a long time out of date. What will they see listed there for the Australian Navy? They will see the ‘Sydney” and the “Melbourne “ - the aircraft carriers that we have to-day. They will see that the Daring class destroyers were projected, and they will see pictures of them. They will see the “Anzac” and the “Tobruk”, too. I am hanged if I could find the “ Queenborough “ and the “ Quickmatch “. Indeed, I am hanged if I could find very much in the Royal Australian Navy to-day that represents anything new or anything different from what it had before the change of government in 1949. I know that the Navy has new radar installed and that an angled deck has been fitted to one of the aircraft carriers. These are the changes of time. The plain fact is that the Government has flinched from the enormous costs of defence. I do not stand here and sneer at that. A 44,000-ton aircraft carrier costs £60,000,000 without any aircraft on it. I suppose that good aircraft for a carrier would cost £500,000 each, and 80 of them might be wanted. This represents an enormous sum.
Probably, we do not get any clear statements on defence. We get a list of what the Minister for Air has in the Air Force and a list of what somebody else has in the Navy. But precisely what role is envisaged for these forces I can only guess. The Government’s Charles F. Adams class guided-missile destroyers, I presume, are intended primarily as escorts for aircraft carriers. I understand that their missiles have a range of some ten miles. I can infer from that only that the Government intends at some stage to buy an aircraft carrier. This defence question is being discussed with so much emotional rant that anything like clear information on these problems simply is not forthcoming. I think that clear information would be a very good thing.
I want to close by making one or two comments on civil defence, which seems to have been pressed out of consideration. I believe that civil defence is a Commonwealth consideration and that we should clearly say so to the States. This business of trying to pass half the buck to the States seems to me to be producing not even the skeleton of an organization. I believe that civil defence expenditure on a very large scale could be thoroughly justified in peacetime if the organization were given a dual character of being also a civil emergency service. I think that a civil defence organization ought to be equipped with helicopters, for instance. How many times have honorable members who represent electorates in the north of New South Wales known their unfortunate constituents to be sitting on roofs in the midst of raging floods? The helicopter has proved itself as a civil emergency aid in rescuing people in these circumstances. I believe that a civil defence organization which can be used in civil crises like bush fires and floods, recruited professionally in part perhaps from the Army, but, at any rate, paid and organized by the Commonwealth Government, is justified.
– Does not the honorable member think that the State police forces are the logical spearheads for the organizing of the kind of service that he suggests?
– No, I do not think so. In point of fact, in flood crises where helicopters have been needed and people have had to be fed from the air, the Air Force and the naval air arm have been pressed into service. I believe that a civil defence emergency service equipped in this way - I do not say that this is the most important aspect of it - would be valuable and would maintain its own morale by serving the community in peace-time in these ways as well as being prepared to serve in war-time emergencies.
If we decided really to develop a civil defence organization, probably the most important thing that we could do in establishing it would be to develop its communications and to have the whole structure of civil defence emergency communications established in preparation for the day when there may be an attack on this country. The service would have other uses also, I believe, in peace-time, and the expenditure on this kind of service would be sensible expenditure for the Commonwealth to undertake. A good many people past military age, I think, would be interested in serving in some capacity in such a service, and recruitment of the people needed to serve the Commonwealth in civil defence would not be difficult.
I do not think that the Government will make a great deal of propaganda of benefit to itself out of defence if the debate that has taken place this evening is a sample- of what is to come. If it is, all that will come out of the debate will be a thoroughlyconfused electorate. We are not preparing defence in this country on the basis that we expect a nuclear war that will start without warning. Apparently, we are preparing for a conventional war. The hardware that we are trying to acquire is enormously expensive, and it is very difficult to envisage the war that is being prepared for lasting very long without all this equipment having gone. Replacement will entail the utmost difficulty. So, if the matter is to be seriously and responsibly discussed with the public, although it may be great fun to talk about what Curtin did, and even greater fun to go further back, this will not be very relevant to the problems the Australian community will face if irrational policies triumph in Indonesia or if Chinese power extends farther in SouthEast Asia by infiltration.
– A few moments ago, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) said that there had been too much, to use bis phrase, emotional rant in this debate. This would almost lead one to think that the honorable member was not in the chamber when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) spoke in the debate this evening, because that brief phrase characterizes and accurately describes the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. The honorable member for Fremantle, in the opening few minutes of his speech, showed a greater degree of irresponsibility than he usually does. He said that in his view there could be only one possible enemy against whom Australia could be arming, and he named Indonesia. This disagrees with the conclusion in the prepared and read speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), who earlier named Communist China and Russia as possible enemies.
The honorable member’s greatest irresponsibility came when he said that the United States of America would force Malaysia to yield to Indonesia as it forced the Dutch to yield to Indonesia. For a front bench member of the Opposition to make a statement of this kind is, I believe, evidence of complete and utter irresponsibility. Alternatively, it is evidence of complete ignorance of what is happening in the area to our north. The statement is plainly untrue. It reveals an ignorance of the circumstances that arose over West New Guinea or what is now called West Irian. lt reveals a complete ignorance of statements that have been made by prominent and leading officials of the United States and by the President of the United States himself in regard to the difficulties between Malaysia and Indonesia. If it does not reveal ignorance of these circumstances, it reveals a complete lack of faith in the statements that have been made from time to time by spokesmen of the United States, which is our great ally, and a consequent lack of faith in the treaties that this country has made with the United States. I say quite frankly that the honorable member should be ashamed of the remarks he- has made.
On 6th March of this year, a statement was issued by the federal secretary of the Australian Labour Party to politicians, directing them not to make statements on foreign affairs or defence policies, lt is quite clear that since this time the leading exponents of the left wing of the Australian Labour Party have been much quieter than they normally are. In this debate, unlike other debates on foreign affairs or in the debate on the radio base at North West Cape, we have not heard from members of the left wing of the Australian Labour Party. It is plain that they have accepted their orders from the federal secretary of their party, who is the spokesman for the executive of the conference, as indeed the Leader of the Opposition did at the time that Labour’s policy on the radio base was decided.
I think it is pertinent for honorable members to recall that the reason for issuing this directive to the left wing members of the Australian Labour Party was that the statements of these members were jeopardizing the party’s chances at any election that might be held. This does not mean that the influence of these left wing members is any less now than it was. Indeed, the debates that have been held at the conferences of the Australian Labour Party would lead one to think that the influence of the left wing is as strong as it ever was. The resolutions that have been passed from lime to time in this year,are,purposely ambiguous and could be interpreted to suit the needs of which ever group is in the ascendancy at any one point of time.
Earlier this evening the Leader of the Opposition played a little carelessly with -the truth. He said that in 19S2 4.3 per cent, of our national income was spent on defence and that in this financial year 2.7 per cent, will be spent on defence. This overlooks entirely the average increase in expenditure that was announced by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in May last. I remind honorable members that the average increase runs at the rate of £41,000,000 a year. For the Leader of the Opposition to try to deceive the committee into believing that the threat to the security of this country can be measured in terms of a percentage of the national income is, I believe, naive and foolish. The national income and the resources of Australia have been built up so very greatly over the last ten or twelve years that quite clearly a smaller percentage of our national income devoted to defence would give us a far greater defence effort than would a much larger percentage ten or twelve years ago. So in quoting these percentages the Leader of the Opposition attempted to deceive the committee.
The Leader of the Opposition said also that in the last fourteen years the Opposition had never voted for a reduction of the defence vote. In the strict and perhaps legal interpretation, he could claim that this statement is correct. But if we look at the record of the Australian Labour Party when it was in office from 1945 to 1949, we will find that it consistently voted for a reduced defence vote, and adopted the reduced defence vote because it was then the Government. How better can we judge Opposition members than by their actions when they were in office? When the Government in the years before the last war was attempting to build up the Australian forces, Opposition members - some of them are still members of the Parliament - opposed the increased defence expenditure for the years 1937 and 1938.
To come much closer to the present time, as I think the honorable member for Fremantle would like me to do, we need look only at the statements of the previous
Leader of the Opposition. In 1954, he said -
Here (in the’ north) defence links up with develop, ment to prove that expenditure on transport is partly preferable to defence.
In his 1955 policy speech, he said -
Labour would not require the huge annual expenditure at present appropriated . . . We shall review the defence vote so as to exclude wasteful and extravagant projects like St. Marys.
That was one of the most important projects ever put into operation by this Government. He estimated that the savings from the defence vote, if Labour were returned, would be £40,000,000 a year. Is this not in complete contradiction in fact of what the present Leader of the Opposition said a little earlier to-day? The Leader of the Opposition in 1957 said -
It would have been far better if some of the defence grant had been spent on universities and secondary and technical schools, instead of being figuratively poured down the drain.
Is it then correct for the present Leader of the Opposition to come into this Parliament and say that the Opposition has not opposed the defence vote in the last ten, twelve or fourteen years? It is true that the Opposition has not voted against it, but it has done everything it possibly could to oppose our defence effort. I understand that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) is not speaking in this debate. He is one of the Opposition members who have been silenced by the executive of the party. He said -
This Government should reduce its expenditure on armaments and use the money it is now wasting on expenditure for war to work for peace, lt should devote the money to peaceful uses.
The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) said -
I firmly believe that the best defence measure we could take would be to ensure that we had a railway system of uniform gauge throughout the entire continent.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), echoing views he expressed 20 or 30 years earlier, said -
All we need to have at our disposal is something in the nature of a police force to meet that form of attack pending the arrival of assistance from the United Nations.
The United Nations was of great assistance to India and to other nations that have been subject to aggression! If Australia were left iri a position where it was dependent on support from the United Nations and nothing else, Australia would be vulnerable indeed.
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), who did speak to-night, although his remarks were in a strictly edited form, on 11th October, 1960, said -
Honorable members opposite are the scaremongers. We are not the ones who say we must defend ourselves against the surging hordes from the north. In fact, wc say those hordes will never come.
On that occasion the honorable member wanted the defence vote reduced considerably. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) has said that all we need is a small police force pending the arrival of assistance from the United Nations. On 12th October, 1960, he said that our only justification for having troops is to support United Nations action. On 12th October, I960, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) said -
What have we to fear from China? I have said that we need have no fear whatever of the People’s Republic of China. China is concerned only with her own development for peaceful purposes.
India found that out! The record could bc continued indefinitely, lt is significant that most of the honorable members to whose remarks 1 have referred have not taken part in the debate to-day. They have been silenced, so far as matters of defence and foreign policy are concerned, at the direction of their organization outside the Parliament, which tells Labour politicians what to do. Clearly some honorable members opposite have been silenced because the Labour Party organization knows that the policies that are supported by this particular group in the Opposition, which has a large support outside the Parliament, would gravely damage any election prospects the Australian Labour Party may have.
At the moment wc have in Malaysia troops which arc part of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve. A few weeks ago in this Parliament the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that if a clear and open treaty could not be negotiated with Malaysia, a Labour government would withdraw those troops. The federal president of the Australian Labour Party has said the same thing more than once in recent weeks. We know that it has been long-standing Labour Party policy to withdraw those troops but now, while the old resolution banning the use of troops, particularly in Malaysia, still stands, we have a new resolution that the troops shall be withdrawn unless there is a clear and open treaty with Malaysia. What will happen if a future Labour government cannot get a clear and open treaty with Malaysia? Will it withdraw our troops even though Malaysia wants support? Would a Labour government bring those troops back to Australia and leave Malaysia defenceless or would it stand with the rest of the British Commonwealth and the United Kingdom in particular alongside Malaysia, which is a member of the British Commonwealth? That question has not been answered and I venture to suggest that the Opposition will not answer it.
The Labour Party states that if it becomes the government it will negotiate with the United States for joint control over the radio base at North West Cape. What will happen if Labour te unable to negotiate for joint control - if the United States insists on sole control of the base? Would a Labour government force the United States to vacate the base? On these questions so vital to our security it is important for Australia to know where she would stand if a Labour government were in office. In votes in the Labour Party’s federal conference the left wing and the right wing Iki ve sometimes been evenly divided eighteen to eighteen, lt would require only a small move for the left wing to gain complete control.
Let us look into the past and see what Labour did when it was in power and was able to negotiate with the United States on matters of this kind. A Labour government negotiated with the United States for joint control over Manus Island. It negotiated very well with the United States Government over Manus Island - so well that the United States decided that it could not co-operate with such people and that it would abandon Manus Island and establish a base on Guam. That was how the Australian Labour Party operated in a sphere that was vital to Australia’s defence. It alienated our greatest ally - the country upon which our security may ultimately depend. I think wc may bc assured that Labour would act again as it did over Manus Island. Labour’s resolutions and policies concerning Australian troops in Malaysia and the radio base at North West Cape are too vague and could be interpreted in a way different from the way in which they are now interpreted. If the left wing of the Labour Party were to gain complete control, as it easily could through the federal conference of the party, the seeking of an open and formal treaty with Malaysia governing the use of Australian troops there and the re-negotiation of an agreement with the United States governing the use of the North West Cape base would leave Australia without friends in Asia or Malaysia and would destroy our agreement with the United States governing the base at North West Cape.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) seems to have fallen into the error into which the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) fell. His speech to-night was completely lacking in balance and contributed very little towards overcoming the basic problems which confront Australia so far as defence is concerned. I think there is a genuine desire on the part of the great body of honorable members to tackle this problem effectively. Little is done to solve the problem by adopting the attitudes and using the catch phrases and slogans that were adopted and used by the honorable members for Wannon and Mackellar. To-night the honorable member for Mackellar said that Labour was in a flurry of urgency in suddenly looking at this question of the need for improved defence. I recollect that last year, when the estimates for the Department of Defence were being discussed, the Opposition stated that all aspects of defence in this country should be strengthened as soon as possible. I particularly recall that at that time we strongly attacked the Government over its procrastination in selecting a replacement for the Canberra bomber. That was twelve months ago. Even at that stage it had been apparent for years that a replacement for the Canberra bomber was needed. Yet the honorable member for Mackellar accuses the Opposition of entering into this debate in a flurry of urgency. We on this side of the chamber were raising these matters last year and earlier. The Government stands indicted for its procrastination in announcing a replacement for the Canberra bomber.
Australia is a friendly nation. We do not want war. 1 think 1 can say that Australian would never be the aggressor, but if neighbouring countries are arming, then it is the height of stupidity for Australia not to insure itself against possible aggression. To arm is not an offence to other countries. The Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) seems very sensitive on this subject of offence. If other countries are arming it is not an offence for us also to arm. It is only common sense that we should take all steps necessary to look after our interests as a nation. But what we are concerned about is the procrastination inc equivocation of the Government on this very important issue. I pay a sincere tribute to the dedication of the men in the services. They deserve and should bc given the very best equipment available. They should not be asked to repeat the performances that occurred in the early days of the last war when men were sent into action with equipment that was not up to standard.
It is important that we should consider the history and the record of the first Menzies Government, which abdicated its responsibility and abandoned the defence of Australia at the time of our greatest peril. The Prime Minister at that time resigned his position as caretaker of Australia’s interests. Thus the great wartime Curtin and Chifley governments were ushered in. Surely these are matters to which we must pay regard at all times. Surely when dealing with defence it is appropriate to look at the record of the Prime Minister during the early days of the last war. It is very important that we should look at this matter and we should also consider the statements made by the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn) in this House to-night. Once again, he was equivocating on the replacement of the Canberra bomber. Once again, he gave the usual round of excuses as to why it was so difficult to find a replacement. I cannot help wondering whether he was possibly preparing the ground for further indecision and equivocation on this question. Sitting here tonight and listening to him, one could not help wondering whether that was the case.
There is no doubt that speaker after speaker on the Opposition side has very forcefully put the case relating to the need for an air force and the fact that the main basis pf our defence must be centred on the air force. Australia is a large continent with a small population and countries to the north of it have very large populations. Accordingly, it is only a matter of common sense to say that we must utilize, with our small population but great industrial and technical ability, the services of an air force as the most effective method of building a defence system. Therefore, our defence must centre at all times on the building up of the air force. That is the paramount question, to which we must give emphasis.
We must also have a well-balanced air force, and I think we could submit a sound case to show that our present air force is out of balance. We are to have 100 Mirage fighters some time in the future, but we still have no modern bombers. It is only logical that an efficient air force must be centred on a strong force of strike reconnaissance bombers, which can move out far from Australia’s shores to protect this country. Fighter aircraft have their uses, but those uses are limited, whereas if we put in the field strike reconnaissance bombers up to the best standards available in the world to-day, we would have something which would be useful far from our shores.
We point, particularly, to the procrastination of the Government in finding a replacement for the Sabre fighter. A period of ten years will have elapsed between the decision to replace the Sabres and the time when the Mirage fighters will actually be in operation. We are very concerned indeed that another decade may pass before the replacement of the Canberra is in operation. That is by no means beyond imagination, in the light of the history and activity of this Government so far.
I should like to refer to the statement of the Minister for Air in answer to questions by me and other honorable members in this House. Well over a year ago, he said the Canberra bomber was not obsolete, as we had ‘ suggested, but only obsolescent.
That was a rather extraordinary statement, particularly as he went on to say that it had plenty of life ahead of it. He said -
There are new techniques for fuelling and therefore we believe it has plenty of use still in the Royal Australian Air Force and the need for replacement is not urgent.
Yet to-day, with an election coming on, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) suddenly is sent hurrying - this is where the flurry of urgency comes in - to the United States of America to see whether a replacement for the Canberra can be obtained. I believe we could be excused if we thought that his mission was possibly an election stunt and that the decision to send him to America was made because the Government realized how weak its record was in regard to defence, particularly with respect to the replacement of the Canberras, and felt that accordingly it should take some sort of action to try to arrange a good front window for the public to see at election time. I think we could be excused for believing that such was the attitude of the Government, as it has been so long in taking any action.
We all respect the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent. Hughes) for his attitude and sincerity on this question. He has pointed out on a number of occasions how weak the Government’s defence policy is. Unfortunately, he is now silent and it seems that he does not intend to take part in this debate. He was very active in the defence debate last year, but for some reason he has not entered the debate this year, possibly because he does not wish to embarrass the Government. His attitude towards this Government’s defence record is well known. I think he believes that the Government cannot afford to fight an election with defence as an issue.
In 1951-52, the Government spent 4.3 per cent, of the gross national product on defence and that was the base. In 1952-53, the figure was 4.8 per cent, and this year the figure is 2.7 per cent. If the Government were to spend 4.3 per cent, of the gross national product this year on defence, the amount involved would be approximately £350,000,000. The Labour Party will spend more on defence and will build up Australia’s defence forces to protect this country against aggression.
– It would spend more on everything.
– I gather from the Treasurer’s interjection that he is opposed to our proposal. Is he going to suggest that we should not spend more on defence at this stage of Australia’s history? One could place no other interpretation on the remark he made a few moments ago.
It is essential that we look very carefully at the question of technical training. We should ensure that sufficient emphasis is placed on apprenticeship training and technical training as they form a very important part of our defence structure. In Australia - a vast continent with a small population - we are most dependent on our technical ability. Therefore, the question of technical and apprenticeship training must receive far greater emphasis than it is receiving to-day. This also applies in the matter of roads and communications. The Commonwealth Government should be adopting the initiative on such an important matter. The country is practically denuded of scientific equipment, radar and so on. Surely we cannot face our responsibilities if we are to continue with a policy of having very little scientific and radar equipment! Labour welcomes the possibility of defence being an issue in the coming election. We believe that this will serve two purposes. First, it will help to ensure an effective defence of this country, and secondly, it will help to ensure that a Labour government is returned to office. Our history shows that the people turn to the Australian Labour Party in time of crisis. As we are now concerned about our defence preparedness, I am sure that on 30th November the people will again turn to the Australian Labour Party for succour.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of this bill is to authorize the payment in 1963-64 of special grants totalling £11,450,000 to the States of Western Australia and Tasmania. The payment of these grants has been recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission in its thirtieth report, which has already been tabled. The bill also authorizes the payment of advances to Western Australia and Tasmania in the earlier months of 1964-65 pending the authorization by Parliament of the special grants for that year. A similar provision has been included in the legislation authorizing payments of grants for a number of years.
Under the procedures currently employed by the commission the special grants recommended for payment each year consist of two parts. One part is based on the commission’s assessment of a claimant State’s financial needs for the year in which the grant is to be paid, and is regarded by the commission as an advance payment subject to final adjustment two years later when the commission has completed its examination of the audited results of the States for that year. The other part of the grant represents the final adjustment of the advance payment made two years earlier.
In accordance with its usual practice, the commission has arrived at its recommendations by making a detailed comparison of the budgets of each of the claimant States with those of the standard States, particular account being taken of differences in levels of expenditures and efforts to raise revenue. As in the two preceding years, the commission has taken the States of New South Wales and Victoria as the standard States for the purpose of these comparisons, the special grants which the commission has recommended for paymentin 1963-64 and the special grants paid in 1962-63 are set out in a table which, with the concurrence of honorable members, I incorporate in “ Hansard “.
In arriving at the adjustments to the advance payments made to the claimant States in 1961-62, the commission examined the budget results of the standard States of New South Wales and Victoria and concluded that it would be appropriate, if comparability were to be preserved between the financial positions of the claimant and the standard States, to adopt a deficit standard of 2s. per capita in respect of 1961-62 The adjustments and the advance payments made to the claimant States have been calculated on this basis so that each of these States is thus left with a deficit to fund in respect of the budget for that year.
In arriving at its recommendations as to the amount of the advance payments which should be made to the claimant States in a financial year, the commission makes an assessment of the prospective budget results of the standard States and then recommends the advance payments which it considers would place the claimant States in a comparable financial position, subject of course to a review of these advance payments two years later. In considering the budget prospects for 1963-64 of the two standard States, New South Wales and Victoria, the commission came to the conclusion that, unless they made use of their shares of the £20,000,000 additional assistance grants for 1963-64 to assist their budgets, they would incur substantial deficits.
The manner in which the commission should treat additional assistance grants for the purpose of placing the budgets of the standard and claimant States on a comparable basis was considered at some length by the commission during the year. This matter is discussed in chapters 4 and 7 of its report. In deciding to adopt a deficit budget standard of 30s. per head for thepurpose of determining the advanced payments, the commission took the view that unless the standard States made use of their shares of the additional assistance grants for 1963-64 to assist their budgets, they might well be left with deficits of much the same amounts. It, therefore, decided that the appropriate course was to leave open to the claimant States the same choice as to the use of the additional assistance grants as appeared to be available to the non-claimant States. It recognized, of course, that special grants paid on this basis in 1963-64 would be subject to review in 1965-66 when the actual results for the current financial year are known. In total the special grants recommended for payment in 1963-64 are £199,000 greater than those paid in 1962- 63.
The effect of adopting the Commission’s recommendations would be to increase the total general revenue grants, that is, the financial assistance grants plus the special grants, payable to the two claimant States by £2,394,000 this financial year, using for this purpose the Statistician’s latest estimates of the financial assistance grants. For Western Australia the increase would be approximately £1,474,000 and for Tasmania approximately £920,000. In addition, Western Australia will receive £1,882,000 and Tasmania £1,408,000 from the additional assistance grant of £20,000,000 being provided in 1963-64 for employment-giving activites. The Grants Commission’s recommendations have been adopted without amendment in every year since the commission was established in 1933. The Government considers that the commission’s recomendations regarding special grants for Western Australia and Tasmania in 1963-64 should be adopted. I, therefore, commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill will declare the rates of income tax and social services contribution for the current financial year 1963-64. The rates of tax proposed arc the same as those that applied for the last financial year 1962-63, and I should make it clear that the 5 per cent, rebate of tax then provided for persons, other than companies, will be continued.
With three exceptions, which I shall mention, the provisions of the present bill correspond with the act that imposed the rates of tax levied last year. In these circumstances, comments on each of the provisions of the bill would be redundant. The first of the provisions that differs from its 1962 equivalent concerns the minimum amount of taxable income upon which tax is payable by individuals, trustees of estates and non-profit companies. For many years, tax has been payable by these persons where the taxable income exceeded £104. The Government decided that this amount should be doubled and, for the current year 1963-64, the persons mentioned will have no liability for tax unless the taxable income is £209 or more. This proposal will not only provide a measure of tax relief but, since there will be a reduction in the number of persons paying tax, some savings in the cost of administering the income tax law will be effected.
A second provision to which I would draw the attention of honorable members is one providing that, where taxable income is in the range from £209 to £214, the tax payable is not to exceed one half of the excess of the taxable income over £208. This shading-in provision will prevent anomalies that might otherwise have occurred in this small range of incomes.
The third difference from the act of last year concerns provisions that authorize a special basis of taxation that may apply in the case of men aged 65 or over and women not under 60 years of age, if resident in Australia. At present a person of pensionable age and in receipt of a net income of up to £455 is not required to pay tax. In conformity with the increase of 10s. a week in the age pension for single persons, the bill proposes to increase the exemption point by £26 to £481.
A measure of tax relief is also proposed where a person qualified by age is in receipt of a net income somewhat in excess of the new exemption level of £481. This relief was available last year if the net income of the person was not greater than £520. For the current year, the maximum net income to which this relief may apply will be £556. For the 1962-63 year, exemption was provided in the case of married couples if the combined net income of the couple did not exceed £910 and both husband and wife were qualified by age. Marginal relief was also authorized if the combined net income of the couple did not exceed £1,293.
Turning to the present bill, it will be seen that for the 1963-64 year, the application of this relief will not be conditional on both husband and wife being of pensionable agc. The married couple provisions will apply to a taxpayer qualified by age even though the spouse of the taxpayer is not of pensionable age. This extension of the allowance will, I am sure, be of assistance in many cases in which an aged person has a spouse not of the specified agc.
A memorandum explanatory of the proposals I have mentioned and of other taxation measures will be circulated for the information of honorable members and it is not necessary for me to go into further detail at this stage. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time,’
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In my Budget speech for 1963-64 I outlined proposals the Government had for amending the income tax law to give effect to a considerable number of recommendations made by the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation, and for introducing other important measures providing tax relief that the Government had decided on in the course of preparing the budget. The primary purpose of this bill is to give effect to these Budget proposals. Another important matter dealt with in the bill arises from the Government’s review of the deductions to be available for the cost of oil exploration and other taxation questions associated with the production of petroleum in Australia. On 12th June last I made a statement outlining the Government’s proposals on these matters. Formal provisions associated with our agreements with the Government of the United States of America concerning the status of the armed forces of that Government in Australia and its establisihment of a naval communication station at North West Cape are also contained in the bill.
Foremost amongst the measures announced in the Budget speech I would place the investment allowance on new primary production plant. I made a press statement on this measure on 12th September, 1963, and I think it necessary to refer to it now only briefly. The investment allowance for primary producers is a companion measure to the allowance introduced by this Government last year for manufacturers and it has the same broad purpose, namely, to encourage capital investment that will increase operating efficiency in an important sector of Australian industry. As I have explained on previous occasions, the allowance is. designed to give an impetus to capital investment in up-to-date primary production plant additional to that already provided by the special depreciation provisions for primary producers introduced by this government in 1952. Where plant qualifies for the allowance, the result will be that 40 per cent. of its cost - 20 per cent. as depreciation and 20 per cent. as an investment allowance - will be an income tax deduction in the year in which the plant is first used or installed ready for use in producing assessable income. A deduction of 20 per cent. of the cost will continue to be available as depreciation in each of the four succeeding years, so that the total amount deductible over five income years will be 120 per cent. of the cost of the plant.
It is proposed that the allowance will apply over the whole broad range of primary production as defined in our income tax law. All agricultural and pastoral pursuits, including such activities as poultry farming, qualify as primary production for income tax purposes. So do fishing, pearling and forest operations. I shall be referring at greater length to forest operations later in this speech. As is the case with the existing allowance for manufacturers, it is proposed that some categories of plant used in primary production be excluded from the scope of the allowance for primary producers. Plant that will not qualify for the allowance includes road vehicles of the kinds ordinarily used for the transport of persons or goods, second-hand or used plant, loose tools, hand tools and equipment and plant not acquired wholly and exclusively for use in primary production. Structural improvements such as buildings, fences and wharves will also be ineligible. The allowance will be available in respect of expenditure on new primary production plant incurred in consequence of a contract entered into on or after 14th August, 1963.
Before leaving primary production I should mention two other proposals which, while not of so far-reaching application or importance as the investment allowance, will nevertheless, I am sure, be welcomed by many primary producers, particularly those living in more remote areas. The first of these is a decision to allow the cost of extending telephone services to a property used in a business of primary production. The cost of the extension lines will be allowed in ten equal instalments over ten years, commencing in the year in which the expenditure on constructing the lines is incurred. The other proposal affecting primary producers is to allow an outright deduction in the year of expenditure for the full cost of constructing or altering fences to protect land from the ravages of animal pests, or to control the adverse effects of naturally occurring mineral salt.
The bill also gives effect to a proposal which will be of benefit to private companies and which the Government expects will bear importantly on the rate of expansion of the wide range of businesses conducted under this convenient form of organization. The proposal is that a private company will be allowed to retain free of undistributed income tax 50 per cent, of the first £5,000 of its distributable income - other than income from property - 45 per cent, of the next £5,000 of that income and 40 per cent, of the balance. In broad terms, the distributable income of a private company is its taxable income less the primary company tax on that income. At present a private company may plough its profits back free of undistributed income tax only to the extent of 50 per cent, of the first £1,000 of distributable income- other than property income - 40 per cent, of the next £1,000 and 35 per cent, of the balance. The increase in the permitted retention of profits is therefore quite substantial. The increased retention allowance will be available to private companies in relation to their distributable income of the income year 1962-63.
Another proposal included in the bill and affecting private companies provides, in effect, for an extension, at the discretion of the Commissioner of Taxation, of the period during which a private company may. make a sufficient distribution of its distributable income in order to avoid undistributed income tax. Broadly speaking, the commissioner will be permitted to grant a further period for the making of distributions where a company has made a full disclosure of facts necessary for assessment, and the issue of an original primary tax assessment is delayed or an amended primary tax assessment is issued increasing the taxable income previously calculated.
The bill also gives effect to a number of proposals to increase concessional deductions in respect of a taxpayer and his dependants. The maximum deduction for education expenses of a dependent child is to be raised from £100 to £150, and the ceiling of £150 per person on deductions for medical expenses is to be removed altogether.
Other proposals in the concessional deduction field will remove anomalies and inconsistencies that the Commonwealth committee noted in its examination of our income tax law. These proposals are broadly outlined in an addendum :o statement No. 3 attached to the Budget speech which was tabled on 13th August, 1963, along with other Budget Papers, and are explained in an explanatory memorandum prepared for the information of honorable members. However, I would like to refer to some of them now. Mention has already been made of the proposed increase in the deduction for education expenses. Another proposal based on the Government’s policy of assisting education generally is the adoption of the recommendation of the Commonwealth committee that government assistance granted for the purposes of educating a child, and taking the form of payments for the child’s school or university fees or similar expenses, should not be taken into account in determining the deduction available for the maintenance of a student child or of any other dependent child who, because he has not reached the age of sixteen years, is not classed as a student child.
The bill also provides that other government assistance, such as living allowances, will in future be regarded as separate net income of a child, and will not, as happens at present, be subtracted in full from the maintenance deduction otherwise available to a parent in the case of a student child. Following the proposed adoption of another Commonwealth committee recommendation, separate net income may be as much as £65 in a year before it affects the deduction available for the maintenance of any class of dependant. Where the separate net income of a dependant exceeds £65 the maintenance deduction otherwise allowable will be reduced by £1 for every £1 by which the separate net income exceeds £65.
Among the remaining proposals concerning concessional deductions are those that will increase the maximum allowable deduction for funeral expenses to £50 in respect of each bereavement, and make provision for the deduction of medical expenses of a deceased taxpayer paid by his trustee or executor. The latter will now be deductible against the taxpayer’s income of the year in which he dies: v
I turn now to forest operations, to which I made a reference earlier in this speech. Plant for use in timber milling was brought within the scope of the investment allowance for manufacturers introduced last year, but up to now persons engaged in a business of extracting timber from a plantation or forest for milling have not generally been regarded as primary producers for the purposes of, among other things, the accelerated depreciation allowances available to that class of taxpayer.
Following a recommendation of the Commonwealth committee, it is proposed by this bill that persons engaged in the planting or tending of trees for felling or in felling trees for milling or other processing be regarded as primary producers. It is further proposed, again following a recommendation of the Commonwealth committee, that expenditure on certain mill buildings and housing for employees be deductible on the same basis as expenditure on timber access roads. Broadly speaking, this means that the cost of eligible buildings and housing may be deducted over the period of years they are used for the purposes for which they were constructed or purchased. In the calculation of the deductions a maximum usage period of 25 years will be applied.
Other recommendations of the Commonwealth committee proposed to be implemented by the bill mainly affect businessmen and investors. They are nil outlined in the Budget Papers and explained in the explanatory memorandum prepared for honorable members. One of these that will be of particular interest to businessmen is a measure that will permit the Commissioner of Taxation to approve an additional basis of valuing certain trading stock, bringing the number of methods of valuation available to taxpayers up to four.
Both businessmen and investors will approve, I feel sure, measures contained in the bill which will exempt from income tax dividends distributed out of realized capital profits and satisfied by the issue of bonus shares, and also exclude these dividends, together with bonus issues made out of unrealized capital profits, from exempt income for the purposes of calculating losses that a taxpayer is permitted to carry forward for deduction against the income of succeeding years. A number of the committee’s other recommendations given effect to by the bill will permit taxpayers to deduct business expenses, generally speaking of a minor nature, which might not otherwise be deductible because they are of a capital nature.
Two other matters I would mention are rates paid by the owners of own-your-own flats and gifts. In the past, due to various own-your-own flat company arrangements, some flat owners have not been able to obtain a deduction for rates effectively paid by them because they are not personally liable for those rates. A provision of this bill will remedy this situation. It is also proposed that income tax deductions be allowed for gifts of £1 and upwards to three institutions. These are the Australian Institute of International Affairs, the National Safety Council of Australia and the Australian National Travel Association. As honorable members will be aware, the last-mentioned of these is a national agency working in association with the Government in the promotion of overseas tourism, to the benefit of the balance-of-payments position. A deduction will also be authorized for gifts to certain funds that provide money or other benefits for institutions referred to in the provisions permitting deductions for gifts.
It remains for me now only to mention the provisions of the bill associated with the Government’s review of the oil search taxation provisions and with our agreements with the Government of the United States of America relating to the establishment of the naval communication station in Western Australia. It is convenient to discuss the agreements with the United States first. Honorable members will recall that these agreements were tabled on 9th May, 1963, and have already been debated in this House. Speaking in a general way, as far as income tax is concerned, the agreements bind us to exempt from our income tax the income of American civilians and military personnel derived here solely as a result of their connexion with the establishment or maintenance of the communication station. The exemptions will operate only so long as the United States Government imposes tax on the income. The essence of the agreements in the income tax sphere is that the relative position of each country lo American personnel will not be altered, lor income tax purposes, by the presence of these people in Australia in connexion with the establishment of the communication station. No exemptions are proposed for people connected with the establishment or maintenance of the station who are citizens of Australia or ordinarily resident here. Similarly, the income of a company incorporated in Australia and carrying out a contract for the construction or maintenance of the station will not be exempt.
Finally I would like to outline, in broad terms, the more important of the amendments contained in the bill that are consequential upon the Government’s review of the oil search taxation provisions. As honorable members are aware, the Commonwealth has been paying subsidies for oil search operations in Australia since 1957. The Government has been advised that the probable effect of the existing provisions of the income tax law is that the subsidies are liable to taxation in the hands of the recipients. This result was not intended and it is proposed by this bill to ensure that oil search subsidies, both past and future, are not taxable. As a corollary, it is also being provided that deductions will not be available for capital expenditure incurred in prospecting for petroleum where such expenditure is reimbursed by the payment of the Commonwealth subsidies.
The income tax law at present authorizes deductions from income derived from the production of petroleum in Australia or the Territory of Papua and New Guinea for capital expenditure incurred in petroleum prospecting and mining operations. It is proposed to extend these deductions to expenses associated with the raising of capital for petroleum prospecting and mining operations and to expenditure on residential accommodation and amenities provided for mining employees or their dependants at or near the mining site.
Subject to limitations specified in the amending legislation, expenditure on the purchase of rights to prospect or mine for petroleum and of technical information relating to a particular area will also be brought within the scope of the capital expenditure that may qualify for deduction.
It is also proposed that pipe lines used to transport petroleum from a well in Australia or the Territory to a refinery or ,a terminal will be eligible for special depreciation allowances. The cost of constructing the pipe line will be deductible in equal annual instalments over a period of five years unless the owner elects that the cost be allowed as deductions over a longer period.
The special depreciation allowances will be available in respect of a pipe line, the construction of which is commenced on or before 30th June, 1968, and completed not later than 31st December, 1969. Ancillary plant for use primarily, principally and directly in operating such a pipe line will also be eligible for the special depreciation deductions if completed on or before 31st December, 1969.
Provision is also being made in relation to income earned by petroleum mining enterprises under “farm-out” or joint venture type of arrangements; disposals of property that has been used in petroleum prospecting or mining operations; property that ceases to be used in these operations, and other matters of a technical nature associated with the search for oil.
Honorable members will find each clause of the bill explained in the explanatory memorandum I have already mentioned, and I do not propose to go into further detail of the bill at this stage. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Wednesday, 23rd October 1963.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is supplementary to the income tax assessment bill about which I have already spoken. Its purpose is to amend the Income Tax (International Agreements) Act to bring it into line with the broad concept, so far as income tax matters are involved, of our recent agreement with the Government of the United States of America concerning the establishment of the naval communication station at North-West Cape.
The broad concept of the agreement, so far as it applies in the taxation field, is that the presence in Australia of United States contractors and other personnel in connexion with the North West Cape project should not, of itself, render them subject to Australian income tax, or to more Australian income tax than they would otherwise pay.
This bill is designed to ensure that United States contractors who come to Australia for the purpose of establishing the North West Cape station will not, for the reason only that they arc carrying on business here for this purpose, become liable to a higher rate of Australian tax than would otherwise apply to dividends that they may receive from Australian companies.
A memorandum explaining technical features of the bill has been prepared for the information of honorable members and I do not propose to speak on the bill at great length at this stage. I therefore now commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purposes of this bill are two-fold. The one of more general interest is a proposal to double the existing maximum exemptions from estate duty. In my Budget speech I referred to various representations that the Government had received concerning estate duty. The representations were all considered very carefully and the Government reached the conclusion that, from the point of view of equity between the various classes of taxpayer, the best course would be to raise the existing exemption levels. It was also decided to shade the new exemption amounts out more slowly than in the past.
Under the present law, estate duty is not payable on an estate of £5,000 or less that passes wholly to a deceased’s widow, widower, children or grandchildren:’ It is proposed by this bill that in future this exemption will apply to estates of £10,000 or less. At present, where the value of an estate exceeds £5,000 the exemption diminishes at the rate of £1 for every £3 of the excess of the estate over £5,000, and thus vanishes when the value of an estate is £20,000 or more. In future the exemption will diminish by £1 for every £4 and will not fully shade out unless the value of an estate is £50,000 or more.
The level of exemption for estates that do not pass to a deceased’s widow, widower, children or grandchildren is to be increased from £2,500 to £5,000. As with estates passing wholly to the widow or other specified relatives, the increased exemption will diminish by £1 for every £4 by which the value of the estate exceeds £5,000, and will ultimately vanish when the value of an estate reaches £25,000, in lieu of £10,000 as at present.
The other purpose of the bill is to give effect to certain terms of our agreements with the United States Government concerning the North West Cape station and the status in Australia of American forces.’ Broadly speaking, Australia has agreed to exempt from estate duty certain personal property of American personnel who are here for the purposes prescribed by one or other of the agreements. The exemption is only to apply to property subject to the estate tax of the Government of the United States.
A memorandum explaining all the clauses of the bill has been prepared for honorable members and I do not think I need to elaborate further at this stage. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean)’ adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is a further measure arising from our agreements with the Government of the United States covering the North West Cape projectandthe status of United States forces in Australia. Broadly stated, Australia has, under those agreements, agreed to exempt from Commonwealth gift duty gifts of certain personal property that may be made by United States contractors and personnel while they are in Australia solely for purposes prescribed by one or other of the agreements. The exemption will not apply to a gift that is exempt from gift duty under United States law.
The bill gives effect to this undertaking. A memorandum explaining the clauses of the bill has been prepared for honorable members, and I do not think I need go into further details at this stage. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. Swartz, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill relates to one part, and one part only, of the National Health Act. As stated in the short title, it is a bill to amend the provisions of the act relating to the special accounts of hospital benefits organizations.
Honorable members will no doubt be familiar with the general purposes of the special account system. It will, however, assist our consideration of the bill if I refer briefly to the origin of this system and the more important developments during its growth. The special account system came into operation on 1st January, 1959. Prior to that time a very substantial number of claims for hospital fund benefit had been disallowed by application of the hospital funds’ rules relating to pre-existing ailments, chronic illness and maximum annual benefits. In the year ended 30th June, 1958, for example, 8.3 per cent, of hospital fund benefit claims were disallowed by the funds’ preexisting ailments rule; 1.3 per cent, of claims were disallowed by the chronic illness rule and 2.6 per cent, of claims because the contributor’s claims exceeded the funds’ maximum annual limit. In that year, hospital fund contributors were disqualified. from hospital fund benefit for more than 1,179,000 days by rules of this sort.
The funds were not in a position to remove these restrictions without Government assistance, as the payment of benefits in all these cases would have made them insolvent. Consequently the former Minister for Health, Dr. D. A. Cameron, sponsored legislation which brought the special account system into being to remedy the deficiency in the hospital benefits system brought about by these necessary but restrictive fund rules. The special account system has met with criticism from time to time and indeed it has had some defects which this bill proposes to remove. But it is well to remember the great benefits this system has brought to contributors. As I have mentioned, five years ago the position was that over 12 per cent, of claims for hospital fund benefit, representing more than 1,100,000 hospital days in a year, were being disallowed by the funds. To-day, fund benefit at least up to the standard rate, is being paid for these claims, virtually without exception. This is a great improvement in the scheme brought about by practical cooperation between the Commonwealth Government and the hospital insurance organizations in the operation of the special account plan.
The total hospital benefits paid from the special accounts from the date they came into operation until 30th June, 1963, amounted to over £12,000,000. An appreciable part of this total represents benefits which the contributors would not have received if this special account system were not in operation. The 365,000 contributors who are at present in special accounts as well as the 2,800,000 members of the ordinary accounts have an assured benefit coverage up to the standard rate of benefit. The Commonwealth Government’s guarantee enables them to be paid benefits even if their claims fall within the fund’s preexisting ailment, chronic illness or maximum annual benefit rules. In each of four years since the special account system became properly developed the Commonwealth payments towards the special account deficits of the organizations have been in the vicinity of £2,000,000 per year. These figures indicate how valuable the special account plan has been in making the hospital benefits scheme so comprehensive,
Successful as thc special accounts have been, the Government has nevertheless been aware of some deficiencies in the plan and, after consultation with the hospital benefits funds, it has evolved the proposals in this bill to make good those defects.
The most important provision in the bill is clause 4 which provides for the removal from the act of the requirement that contributors must be transferred to the special account at the age of 65 years. This means that contributors aged 65 years or over will receive exactly the same benefit entitlements as other contributors and that a contributor’s age will have no bearing at all on his eligibility for hospital fund benefit. Where funds’ rules provide that contributors’ claims are not to bc limited to the amount of the hospital charges, persons over 65 years will receive the advantage of this equally with other contributors. Persons aged 65 years or more who are transferred back to ordinary accounts and who wish to be members of more than one organization will have this right on the same basis as other contributors.
A further important amendment is the removal from the act of the requirement that special account contributors may not be paid benefits in excess of the hospital’s charges. This rule has caused criticism, particularly where it has applied to claims for hospital benefit for a dependant of a special account contributor and the dependant’s claim has not been the subject of a pre-existing ailment, chronic illness or similar restrictive rule. As a result of the amendment, special account contributors’ benefits will no longer be limited by the act to the amount of the hospital’s charges and they will be entitled to the same benefits as ordinary contributors, in accordance with the rules of the funds. In cases where the funds’ rules provide that contributors’ claims are not to be limited to the amount of the hospital’s charges, that rule will apply equally to special account and ordinary contributors. In cases where funds’ rules do limit a contributor’s benefit to the amount of the hospital’s charges that position will also apply equally to special account and ordinary contributors.
The other important provisions in the bill do not effect the rights of contributors at all, but they alter the arrangements between the Commonwealth and the hospital insurance funds for the debiting of benefits to the special account. Hospital funds pay benefits from their ordinary accounts for a maximum number of days, generally 84 or 91 days a year. The present position is that contributors who are in hospital for more than the maximum period are transferred to special accounts at the end of the maximum period and receive standard rate benefits from then on. The new provision in clause 5 will enable funds to transfer the liability for these contributors to the special account 21 days before the maximum period terminates. This will be financially helpful to the funds and it will not affect contributors at all, because they will continue to be entitled to their full insured rate of benefit for the full maximum period in a year and standard rale of benefit thereafter.
Clause 6 provides that where benefits are paid to contributors in excess of the hospital charges the amounts in excess of the hospital charges will be debited to the funds’ ordinary accounts. As I mentioned earner, the position as far as the contributor is concerned will not be affected as contributors’ entitlements will be the same whether they are ordinary or special account contributors. The remaining provisions in the bill arc of a machinery nature only and do not affect the substance of the existing arrangements. In particular they do not affect the basic part of the plan that special account contributors are entitled to benefits amounting to £12 12s. a week for hospital treatment for pre-existing ailments, chronic illnesses and all days in excess of (he fund’s maximum annual limits. I am pleased to inform the House that the amendments proposed in this bill will meet with the approval of the hospital benefit insurance organizations. A special committee comprising representatives of the insurance organizations has been consulted in regard to the amendments, and it has endorsed them as being constructive steps to remove anomalies from the scheme. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Daly) adjourned.
House adjourned at 12.29 a.m. (Wednesday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The following information has been supplied in reply to the honorable member’s questions: -
Negotiations between the Australian and French authorities on the matter of traffic rights for Qantas at Tahiti have taken place since 1959, namely in 1960 and 1963. The Treasurer’s stopoff in Tahiti in 1959 had no connexion with these negotiations.
h asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
What was the maximum electrical demand satisfied by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority to (a) the Australian Capital Territory, (b) the Electricity Commission of New South Wales and (c) the State Electricity Commission of Victoria in each year since the inception of the supply of Snowy Mountains Authority power?
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: -
The maximum power demand on the Snowy Mountains system year by year was as follows: -
Prior to May, 1959, when Tumut 1 power station was commissioned the only power station on the system was Guthega (60 megawatts), which output was fed into the New South Wales network at Cooma. Therefore the figures of demand up to and including 1958 apply to the Electricity Commission of New South Wales. The CommonwealthStates’ Agreement of 1957 provides for the Electricity Commission of New South Wales to be notified of the electricity requirements of the Australian Capital Territory in respect of supply from the Snowy scheme. The agreement also lays down that New South Wales’ and Victoria’s entitlements to available Snowy energy and power will be -
Energy: New South Wales’ entitlement is the sum of (a) the equivalent of the Commonwealth’s reservation of energy for the Australian Capital Territory (i.e., exchange energy) and (b) two-thirds of the remaining available Snowy energy. Victoria’s entitlement is the remainder of the available Snowy energy.
Power: New South Wales’ entitlement is that proportion of the available power represented by the ratio -
New South Wales energy entitlement (i.e.,
Victoria’s entitlement is the remainder of the available Snowy power.
With regard to the actual distribution (as distinct from entitlements) between New South Wales and Victoria it is pointed out that output from the Snowy Mountains power sources is fed into the interconnected systems of the two States. Under these circumstances the day-to-day distribution of Snowy power is not controlled by the Snowy Mountains Council, the organization established under the agreement to operate the completed Snowy works. Consequently it is of no immediate significance to the council or the Snowy Mountains Authority is not recorded. Similarly, in regard to New South Wales’ total entitlement to Snowy power, any assessment of the day-to-day distribution between New South Wales on the one hand and, on the other hand, exchange power for the Australian Capital Territory is not practical. For the reasons given above, it is not possible to give maximum power demands separately for the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria. This, however, does not affectpaymentstothe authority for electricity. Charges are based on entitlements to energy as laid down in the agreement. It is understood that from time to time a reconciliation of the actual distribution is made between the two State electricity commissions.
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
t asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
r asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
As has been indicated in answers to earlier questions, inquiries are being made into the alleged activities of Croation nationalists. At the moment there is no conclusive information available.
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following information: -
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Prices for cattle hides sold at auction in Australia have declined more or less steadily since 19S9, when, as a result of a world-wide shortage, prices were at very high levels. The decline in the last twelve months has been more marked. Australian auction prices reflect the world market situation and the price decline in Australia since 1959 has been characteristic of the world market. Whilst the level of hide prices is of direct concern to cattle-producers, there has not, as far as I am aware, been any serious concern expressed on the matter by producer organizations. Auction prices at Flemington (Sydney) for light cattle hides have declined by approximately 37 per cent, in the last year. Heavy cattle hide prices have declined by about 22 per cent. Although present hide prices are low relative to the high levels obtaining in 1959 and I960, the decline, relative to the levels obtaining before 1959, is less marked.
t asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Will he re-examine his answer to Question No. 216 appearing in “Hansard” of 8th October, 1963 (page 1575), with a view to providing a precis* statement of the intentions of the department al to whether it proposes to extend the Langwarrin Military Camp by the acquisition of more land?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
As I replied in answer to the previous question, Langwarrin is currently under consideration for possible use by Regular Army units. There u nothing 1 can add to this at present.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 October 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1963/19631022_reps_24_hor40/>.