25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Does the right honorable gentleman remember a recent statement by a group of seventeen visiting American newspaper publishers and editors that the hospitality of Australians was outstanding? Were these people critical of the Prime Minister for cancelling an interview that had been arranged with them so that he could attend a cricket match? Did the spokesman for this group say that while they loved Australians they did not like Australia’s Prime Minister? Finally, does the Prime Minister consider that it helps relationships between the two countries to offend needlessly such an important group of visitors?
– So far as I am concerned, this story is completely untrue. I have read no statement by seventeen visiting pressmen. I have certainly made no appointment with any group of visiting pressmen which I have subsequently cancelled for any reason whatever. I take it, therefore, that this is a flourish to celebrate a recent promotion.
– Will the Minister for Repatriation tell the House the present position in relation to the proposed new wards at the Repatriation General Hospital at Springbank?
– I am pleased to advise the honorable member that work has commenced on the two new wards which were approved for construction during this financial year. I had an opportunity to visit Adelaide a couple of weeks ago and I inspected the work at that time. The foundations have been laid and the work will be proceeded with as quickly as possible. When these wards are finished they will, of course, provide the additional hospital accommodation that is sourgently required in that city.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Navy. Is it a fact that following the tragic loss of five young naval officers from H.M.A.S. “ Sydney “ during exercises off Hayman Island some months ago, a full-scale public inquiry was held in order to ascertain the cause of the disaster? If this is a fact, will the Minister tell me whether a report of the findings has yet been received by him? Are the findings to be made public? If not, why not, since the inquiry has been of a public nature?
– There was such an inquiry. As the honorable member will recall, it was held in the presence of the public, as indeed were the subsequent courts-martial. The report of the inquiry was received by my predecessor and I have seen it. In accordance with normal practice in such matters, it is not intended to make the findings public.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. The right honorable gentleman would know that there has been considerable interest in, and some controversy concerning, the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. He may recall that I suggested that the act be overhauled because of its many complexities and numerous amendments. Can the Treasurer give an undertaking that he will consider the possible redrafting or at least a consolidation of the act so that eligible persons will be able to understand more clearly the benefits available to them and so that members of Parliament will be able to comprehend more readily the application of the act?
– Dealing first with the latter part of the honorable member’s question, I point out that he has referred to a complex piece of legislation, as I am sure those members of the House who have grappled with it will readily agree. I shall discuss with my colleague, the Attorney-General, the question of whether it can be expressed in simpler form with the amendments proposed consolidated into a fresh piece of legislation.
The honorable member referred to controversy surrounding the scheme itself. Those members who have closely studied the scheme will agree that as it now operates, following a very comprehensive review by a committee led by Sir John Allison, in respect of contributions made and benefits received it is very fair and liberal in comparison with other schemes of this type. Quite recently - at the time of the last Budget - a review was made and some liberalization occurred. My colleague, the honorable member for Maribyrnong, is chairman of the government members’ committee which has been closely studying the act over its period of operation. Therefore, we on the Government side can claim that there is a body of members well equipped to deal with its intricacies.
Members of the Opposition - particularly the honorable member for Wills, if I may single him out - also have given a good deal of attention to the act. We all wish to deal fairly, to the point of generosity, with those who have served us so well in the Services. It will be the Government’s endeavour from time to time to see that the scheme measures up to the requirements of the times.
– I ask the Treasurer whether the Government intends to use the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act to compel the parents of unmarried naval personnel who died in the “ Voyager “ disaster to prove dependency in order to gain entitlement to the lump sum payment of £3,000 for dependants of deceased employees, as specified in the act. If so, will the Government undertake to pay the full £3,000 to all parents who prove dependency instead of using the provision of the act which entitles the Treasury, in cases of partial dependency, to reduce the lump sum entitlement to a sum that is proportionate to the degree of dependency?
– I cannot give the honorable gentleman an answer offhand to his questions. I shall treat his questions as being on notice and see that he receives an authoritative reply.
– Before I direct my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport 1 wish to refer the honorable gentleman to the following announcement by the Prime Minister during the recent election campaign: -
Under the current legislation a total of £250,000,000 has been granted to the States for roads over a five-year period. We intend that over the next five years our contribution will be not less than £350,000,000.
I ask: As the present agreement states that at least 40 per cent, of the Commonwealth’s contribution must be spent on rural roads other than highways, trunk and main roads, will the Minister assure the House that any new agreement will guarantee that at least 40 per cent, of the new allocation of £350,000,000 will be so spent?
– The amount and the formula for distribution of Commonwealth funds for roads are at present under close examination. As far as I know, the formula has worked very well, but the Commonwealth Government has to take into account the views of the State Governments and various other interested bodies before finally arriving at a decision. At this stage I can only give an assurance that the requirements of rural roads will receive sympathetic consideration. Until the matter has been discussed with the State Premiers I cannot give any final assurance as to the figures.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. In view of the conjecture based on unofficial reports concerning the allocation of the third commercial television licences in Adelaide and Brisbane, will he inform the House when an official announcement will bc made relating to this matter?
– I hope that I will be in a position to-morrow to make a statement in this House.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Defence. Is there at present a shortage of commissioned officers in the three services? Is this preventing the implementation of an increase in the defence forces, particularly in regard to the Army?
Is the Government concerned at the number of requests from serving officers to resign and the effect this is having on morale in the services generally? Will the Government set up a committee to review the terms and conditions of service of officers of the three services, as was done in the United Kingdom and the United States of America recently?
– With all the respect due to the honorable member, I think the series of questions he has asked tends to create an impression that is perhaps not quite correct. Let me answer his questions seriatim as well as I am able. It is true that at all times we could usefully use more commissioned officers than we have at present. Various circumstances contribute to this position. The general situation of all ranks in the three armed services is receiving close consideration by interdepartmental study at the present time and I am hoping that in the course of the next few weeks I will be able to make a submission on this matter.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question, ls he aware that overseasowned and Australian-based oil refinery interests have offered uneconomic and seemingly unfair prices for oil produced at the new Moonie field? As this action by oil refinery interests threatens the future prospects of oil and oil search in Australia, I ask: What action, if any, has his Government taken or does it intend to take to protect this vital industry and the investments of countless Australians, along with the Commonwealth’s investment through oil search subsidy?
– The honorable member must surely have observed that the Minister in charge of this matter - the Minister for National Development - has made some statements on this matter in the last day or so. He is in very close touch with the problem. The Government is very closely interested in it. At the present time negotiations are going on between the vendors and at least one of the prospective purchasers. I do not think that any good would be achieved by intervening, in the course of these negotiations, with some argumentative statement made in this House. I thought it was very well known that the
Minister had been very active indeed in this matter and in almost daily contact with the people concerned.
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I draw his attention to section 17 of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act and ask whether, in view of the fact that there appears to be some doubt as to the schedule of the “ Empress of Australia “, he will use his authority under that section to direct the Australian National Line to at least prepare a schedule which will include three trips a month to Hobart.
– I know that this matter is one which is exciting the interest of the people of Hobart and, in particular, the people of the honorable member’s electorate. I therefore welcome the question. I congratulate the honorable member on going to the heart of the problem, which is whether I, as the Minister, should use the authority vested in me under the act to give a direction to the Australian National Line that this vessel should call at Hobart on a fixed number of trips per month. At present there is no announced programme for the “ Empress of Australia “.
I think perhaps if I take the time of the House to go into the background of this a little it will be clear that I should not at this stage issue a direction of the kind suggested by the honorable member. It was in 1961 that it was announced that the “Empress of Australia “ would be built to give a combined passenger and cargo service between Sydney, Hobart and Bell Bay. It was hoped at that stage to have a service based on three trips a month between the three ports. In February, 1962, the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand Limited announced that it would build two modern cargo vessels of the roll-on roll-off type to operate between Melbourne and Hobart and Sydney and Hobart. The previous considerations of the Australian National Line had been based on an analysis of the cargo offering for the modern roll-on roll-off type of vessel. The entry of these two new vessels, of course, altered the situation radically.
I should point out, too, that, although the people of Hobart have had their main interest excited by the possible resumption of a passenger service between Sydney and Hobart, the Australian National Line was mainly actuated by the thought of introducing a modern combined passenger and cargo as that available between Hobart and new ships would in fact have provided shipping space for more than twice as much cargo as that available between Hobart and Sydney. In these circumstances it would be rather odd if I were to reach the opinion that a service was needed, as I am required to do under the act before I issue any direction to the Australian National Line. I prefer to see what the line proposes in the way of a service and to ascertain whether that service will be adequate for the requirements and the business offering before I decide to give any direction to the line.
– 1 direct a question to the Prime Minister. Now that medical research in the United Kingdom and the United States of America has firmly established that cigarette smoking is a contributory cause to the development of lung cancer, will he consider conferring with the Commonwealth Minister for Health and the Postmaster-General on the possibility of conducting a nationwide campaign, over radio and television, specifically directed at teenagers and school children, warning them of the very grave dangers of commencing or continuing cigarette smoking? I remind the right honorable gentleman that the Commonwealth already spends a great deal of public money on road safety campaigns, with good effect. I believe that a similar campaign directed at cigarette smoking would do much to help safeguard the health of the young people of this nation.
– I know that my colleague, the Minister for Health, has been looking very closely at this matter and having discussions about it. I am looking forward to his advising me of the result of his investigation.
– I address a question to the Minister for Supply. Has his attention been directed to the recent dramatic suggestion of a spy sensation at the Woomera rocket range? Is he in a position to make an official statement on this matter?
– I vividly recall some 72-point headlines that appeared in one Western Australian newspaper a week or two ago in a report of an alleged spy sensation at the Woomera rocket range. This was a rather incredible story of the smuggling into Australia of a beautiful Russian spy who sought the hospitality of research officers at Woomera and apparently repaid their hospitality by drugging their drinks, hypnotizing them so that they told the whole story, and then prudently warning them, before she left, to say nothing about what had happened. As we are security conscious at Woomera, I had my officers look into this matter. I find that this article in the press was a reprint of chapter 4 of a book called “School for Spies”, published by a certain Mr. Bernard Hutton in 1961. He is a writer of spy stories and claims to be an ex-member of the central committee of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party. A name like “ Hutton “, of course, would hardly put him in that context. It is very difficult to find out whether Mr. Hutton writes fact or fact embroidered by fiction.
– We understand.
– I doubt whether you do. There is the story. I can tell the honorable member for Swan that our security stocks at Woomera are still extraordinarily high. The defence correspondent of the London “Times”, who recently visited Woomera with a party of journalists, said that there were more security officers than sheep there and that the security officers, despite the bewilderment of their guests, did not lower their guard at all. 1 think that the honorable member will be able to draw his own conclusions about whether this story was fact or fiction. The thing that concerns me is that an article like this, reprinted from an apparently fictional book, masquerades as fact three years after the general publication of the story.
– I should like to address a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. As a result of the tragic death of President Kennedy and the succession of President Johnson in the United States of America, does the Minister consider that there will be any significant changes in policy regarding trade with Australia?
– No. I have no reason whatever to believe that either the new president or his administration would modify the attitude of the previous administration towards trade with Australia or towards those world-wide trade policies in which we have reached a good deal of understanding with the United States administration.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. In commenting on the latest callup to statutory reserve deposit accounts the right honorable gentleman said that the gross national product had increased by more than 5 per cent, last financial year. He will recall, however, that, in his Budget speech last August and several times in the following months, he said that the gross national product had risen by almost 8 per cent, in that year. Can the right honorable gentleman explain how he or his advisers came to make this very large error and when he himself first discovered that he had been mistaken or misinformed?
– There is no question of an error having arisen. It is a matter of definition. What the honorable gentleman has omitted from his reference to my statement is the fact that I used the expression “growth of 5 per cent, at constant prices “. Normally, increases in gross national product are related around the world to price movements. In other words, an improvement in your terms of trade has a bearing on your gross national product. That is what happened in Australia last year. We received better prices for our primary commodities, our minerals and various other items.
In order to give a realistic picture to our people of what is happening within their country a figure is produced which relates the achievement to a set of constant prices. Other countries would have related their increases in gross national product to the movements in commodity prices and so forth that I have mentioned. The Government has given a figure which represents the increase in our gross national product. That figure is available for study.
The Commonwealth Statistician also, has produced a figure which in the long run will be, I think, more useful for our planning purposes and for our economic management by relating our achievement to the constant price situation. I shall supply the honorable gentleman with a more detailed account because rather more than the movement in prices comes into the picture, but I want to make it clear that as soon as the statistician produced the figure which bears on constant prices, it was made known by the Government. Details of the figure can be supplied to any honorable member who is interested.
(Mr. Cockle having addressed a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service) -
– The honorable member’s question is out of order.
– I rise to order. The second part of the honorable member’s question may be out of order but 1 do not think the first part is out of order.
-Order! I ask the Minister to resume his seat. A certain matter is now before the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The Chair is not in a position to know th~ f’ details of the matter. A point of order has been taken and I uphold the submission that portion of the question relates to a matter that is now the subject of a court hearing.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Some time ago, in response to representations, the Treasurer undertook to consider the matter of allowing as deductions for income tax purposes expenses incurred by country residents who are forced to travel long distances to capital cities, sometimes hundreds of miles from their homes, to seek medical attention for themselves or their children. Has the right honorable gentleman considered this matter and will he allow as income tax deductions expenses incurred by persons in seeking in capital cities medical attention that is not available to them in country centres?
– The item to which the honorable gentleman has referred was one of the many hundreds of requests for taxation relief which were analysed and considered by the Treasury and the Government prior to the formulation of the details of the last Budget. It was considered, but at that time it was decided not to include it in the items of taxation relief in the Budget. It will be listed from time to time and considered in conjunction with the other items. I recognize the point that the honorable gentleman makes, but he will appreciate that there must be limits to what we can concede in any particular year.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for the Army, concerns the Pacific Islands Regiment. One of the increases to be made in the defence forces, which were announced in the last defence statement made in the previous Parliament, involved the doubling of the strength of the Pacific Islands Regiment. Can the Minister inform the House of the progress that has been made in that direction?
– As the honorable member said in his question, last year the Government announced that it was intended to double the strength of the Pacific Islands Regiment to 1,400. Good progress is being made towards the achievement of that objective. However, we are determined to achieve that objective without departing in any way from the high standards which have been associated with the Pacific Islands Regiment for so many years. We expect that’ our target in this respect will be achieved in the reasonably near future.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the fact that the last inquiry into the cost of production in the dairy industry was conducted about ten years ago, will the Government, through the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, consider conducting a survey of present-day costs? Is the Minister aware of a widespread movement among dairymen which is aimed at securing an increase of ls. per lb. in the price of butter fat? Has the Minister any idea of what such an increase would cost, in addition to the present subsidy of £13,500,000 per annum?
– The Australian Dairy Farmers Federation submitted to me for consideration a request that the Bureau of Agricultural Economics undertake a survey of certain aspects of the industry. That request was discussed by the State Ministers for Agriculture at Hobart quite recently. It was decided that an economic survey would be made as soon as personnel of the bureau were available. They will not be available immediately because the bureau has a very full programme on hand. We will be looking at this matter as soon as the personnel are available. In regard to the latter part of the question, if the suggestion is that there should be an additional subsidy of ls. per lb., on the present tonnage produced the extra subsidy would amount to no less than about £23,000,000.
– I address a question to the Minister for the Army. Is it correct that the Australian Army has just concluded the trans-shipment of a squadron of Centurion tanks from Victoria to the northern part of Australia by inland rail links? Bearing in mind some adverse criticism of the choice of the Centurion tank because of difficulty of long-distance movement, will the Minister confirm that the Army now has demonstrated that these hard-hitting combat weapons can be moved long distances by sea, by tank transporter on roads and now by rail in times which can be considered to be satisfactory after the receipt of the strategic warning expected to be received?
– The honorable gentleman is referring to the recent movement of sixteen Centurion tanks from Puckapunyal in Victoria to Tin Can Bay in Queensland, where they will be carrying out exercises with both Citizen Military Forces and Australian Regular Army troops in the next few months. It was a highly successful movement. I agree entirely with the honorable gentleman that on this and other exercises in which tanks have been used it has been demonstrated beyond question that the Centurions can be moved long distances in Australia by road, by sea and by rail in times which are considered acceptable in relation to the strategic warning that we are likely to receive.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that some aspects of the security regulations are enforced against Australians and not against foreigners? Recently while visiting Williamstown naval dockyard area with other members of this House I was quite rightly not permitted to photograph the new naval vessel H.M.A.S. “ Derwent “, but officers of a Soviet merchant ship were permitted to use a motion picture camera to photograph from a vantage point not only the vessel but also most of the dockyard area. Does the Prime Minister think that an Australian would be permitted to use a camera in similar areas in Russia or any other country?
– The answer to the second part of the question is, I certainly do not think so. I had not heard about this matter, but I will make it my business to inquire into the circumstances.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Is he aware that the 26th parallel used as the southern boundary of Zone A under the existing taxation law, is now considered by many responsible bodies to be an unfair line of demarcation? Has he received representations which indicate that the problem is multiplied by the Western Australian Government adopting the same boundary for all State tax concessions? Will he ask the Commissioner of Taxation to review and report upon the use of this boundary with a view to advising the Government upon a more effective method of assisting the sparsely populated area of the north-west of Australia?
– I will ask the Commissioner of Taxation to comment upon the way in which this concession is operating at present, and then I will consider whether any policy change ought to be undertaken.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Defence by stating that a considerable sum of money is involved in the purchase of the TFX bombers which were ordered recently by the Government. Because of doubts expressed at the science seminar held in Canberra during January, and the press reports of a few days ago as to the capacity of these aircraft and also because the manufacturers are reported to be experiencing trouble in the design and construction of the TFX bombers, will the Government make a frank statement to the Parliament setting out the difficulties being encountered in the design and construction of these aircraft?
– The whole of this transaction is under the closest possible continuous examination and scrutiny by officers of the relevant services. So far as the Government is aware, nothing has developed which would cause us to believe that the order we placed for these bombers was not a wise one and one which will place in commission in the Royal Australian Air Force the best aircraft for the particular rote to be filled.
– My question to the Minister for Primary Industry relates to the stabilization plan for the Australian dried vine fruits industry which will shortly be submitted to a poll of growers. Will the contributions to the stabilization fund be used when necessary to build up the price of the product to the level of the guarantee and for no other purpose? At what stage will contributions, if not so required, be returned to the contributors?
– As to the first part of the honorable gentleman’s question, the sole purpose in collecting any levy under the act, if it is accepted by the growers, is as stated by the honorable member, to build up the price to the guarantee. As to the repayment of contributions, this will be done on a first in, first out basis. As soon as the stipulated ceilings are reached the excess will be repaid to the growers. Should there be funds to the credit of the growers at the end of any stabilization scheme and should the growers decide to seek to have the scheme renewed, it will be a matter then of negotiation between the Government and the industry. Should the scheme not be continued I presume that repayment of contributions will be made on the basis that I have already mentioned.
– Has the Treasurer noticed that the number of unemployed in Australia increased from 58,000 to 80,000 during December, 1963, and to 85,809 during January, 1964, and that the number is still increasing? Can the right honorable gentleman give the reason for this serious trend? Does he think that the action of the Reserve Bank in calling up £70,000,000 of bank deposits during the period to which I have referred has affected the employment position, or is it just coincidental that the number of unemployed during the period has increased by 17,000?
– The question is so full of error that it is not easy to give an effective reply to it. The amount mentioned as having been called up by the Reserve Bank is inaccurate, for a start. To refer to an increase in the number of unemployed of the order suggested by the honorable member is a gross distortion of the position. What happened was that in the period referred to a considerable number of young people who had left school registered for employment for the first time. Several thousands of them were promptly placed in employment. Seasonal movements in registrations at the time of the year in question follow a pattern which is, I think, well known to all honorable members, and to speak of what has happened in this period as a serious growth in unemployment shows, of course, a complete misconception of what is happening in the country.
As I view the situation - and this, I know, was the view of the spokesmen for industry who came to discuss these matters with the Government quite recently - what is building up in Australia is a shortage of suitable labour in many sections of the economy. I do not refer only to skilled labour or semi-skilled labour; some of the larger organizations are finding difficulty in getting unskilled labour. I have noticed that the Victorian tramways and railways organizations have found it necessary to send recruiting officers overseas to get labour for their utilities and services. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has also sent recruiting officers overseas to get additional labour. These are symptoms of a tightening labour situation in this country which is likely to become more acute as the year goes on. My colleague, the
Minister for Labour and National Service, pointed out in a recent statement that, for about the first time since we started to keep records, registrations actually fell in Queensland, whereas at this time of the year there is usually a quite considerable increase in Queensland registrations. The general picture of the economy is one of great buoyancy and considerable prosperity. It was in order to relieve pressures which might otherwise have got beyond control that the Reserve Bank, acting with the full concurrence of the Government, decided on the call-up of bank deposits that was announced quite recently.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Government has announced to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission that it will neither support nor oppose the application now before the commission by the Australian Council of Trade Unions for an increase of £2 1 2s. a week in the basic wage? If this is a fact, what are the reasons for this attitude on the part of the Commonwealth Government?
– As to the last part of the honorable member’s question, the Commonwealth Government is not a party to the dispute, and consequently it has adopted an independent approach to this problem in the interests of the nation. I would not like to give a plain “ Yes “ or “ No “ to the question whether we have decided not to support or oppose the application of either party in the dispute now before the commission. What we have done is this: We have informed the commission that we will give a complete review, as far as it is practicable to do so, of the current state of the finances and the economy of the country. We will produce the relevant information giving the various statistics prepared by the Commonwealth Statistician. We have also informed the commission that if it requires any additional evidence concerning the situation, either internally or externally, we will attempt to obtain it for the commission. Lastly, we have said that if any industrial issue or matter of principle is raised before the commission we reserve the right, in the nation’s interest, to argue that matter before the commission, whether the proposition involved supports one party or the other. So I think you can take it, Mr. Speaker, that the Government’s approach to this matter is that it should adopt an independent point of view in the interests of the nation. We neither support nor oppose either the employers or the employees’ log of claims.
Bill presented by Sir Robert Menzies, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to amend the Ministers of State Act to permit the appointment of three additional Ministers, making 25 in all, and to increase the annual sum provided for Ministers’ salaries to £73,350. The amendments proposed reflect the growing complexity of government and the increasing demands being made upon Ministers. The act was last amended to allow an increase in the number of ministerial appointments in 1956 and, during the past eight years the 24 Government departments and the statutory authorities have been administered by 22 Ministers. This has been possible only by appointing, in two cases, a single Minister to administer each of two departments. In the last Parliament, for example, Sir Garfield Barwick was responsible for the Department of External Affairs and the Attorney-General’s Department, and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth) took charge of the Department of Works and the Department of the Interior.
As honorable members know, the Government has, since the election returning it to office, established a new ministry, the Department of Housing, so that it will be in a position to give to the problems of housing the special attention which it undertook to give. Thus, the total situation is that in order to relieve the Ministers of the responsibility of conducting two departments and to provide for the new ministerial position, the creation of three additional Ministers is necessary. This bill is drawn for that purpose.
Pursuant to the increase in the number of Ministers, there will be necessary an increase in the annual sum set aside for
Ministers’ salaries. The sum currently authorized is £66,600. The amount now proposed to be set aside is £73,350. The degree of increase proposed, namely £6,750, is the minimum needed to meet the standards recommended by the 1959 committee of inquiry into the salaries and allowances of members of the Commonwealth Parliament. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Bill presented by Sir Robert Menzies, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Second and Third Schedules to the Public Service Act list, respectively, the departments which comprise the Commonwealth Service and the permanent heads of those departments. With the Government’s decision to establish a new Department of Housing and to vary the title of the Department of Trade to Department of Trade and Industry, it is obviously necessary to take action to amend the above schedules.
As honorable members will be aware, action has already been taken in accordance with the provisions of section 64 of the Constitution formally to establish the new Department of Housing and to introduce the new title of Department of Trade and Industry. It will be apparent to honorable members, therefore, that the amendments proposed by this bill are purely machinery ones. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
– I move -
That, in relation to the proceedings on any sales tax bills, so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent -
the introduction and the first readings of the bills together;
one motion being moved and one question being put in regard to, respectively, the second readings, the committee’s report stage, and the third readings, of all the bills together, and
the consideration of all the bills as a whole together in a committee of the” whole.
Consequent upon the amendment of the Standing Orders the need arises for some action to be taken in the House to clear the way for the introduction at any time of sales tax bills together in order to effect any proposed alterations of sales tax rates. Honorable members will recall that in the past the procedure was first to propose a resolution in the Committee of Ways and Means and subsequently to order that nine bills be brought in to carry out the resolution. In the meantime, by means of a contingent notice of motion, Standing Orders were suspended to enable nine bills to be brought in to pass through their remaining stages together. The House has followed this procedure for many years and has always found it convenient. Under the new financial procedures, the resolution will be dispensed with and the initiating action will be the introduction of nine bills.
Standing Order No. 291 permits these bills to be introduced without notice, but it will be necessary to suspend the Standing Orders to enable the bills to be brought in and dealt with together. The motion I have now proposed will cover the position for the remainder of this session. Hereafter I hope to submit a similar motion at the commencement of every session or at least at the commencement of those sessions during which I have the privilege to be Treasurer. By so doing we will avoid the speculation which could result if the motion were introduced later in the year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 25th February (vide page 36), on motion by Mr. Kevin Cairns -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreedto -
We, the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
.- I desire to congratulate the honorable member for
Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) and the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey) on their maiden speeches. It is not easy to make a maiden speech here and I can recall my feelings at the time I delivered mine. Probably the two honorable members to whom I have referred were similarly affected by the ordeal. Whilst I congratulate them on their speeches, I disagree with many points they made. However, in respect of clarity and delivery they acquitted themselves ably and I believe they are well fitted to take their places in the National Parliament.
In my opinion, one matter in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech worthy of much attention relates to the Commonwealth aid roads grants. Time will not permit me to say very much about this very important matter at present, but later in the session we will be debating it as a separate measure. I am also prevented by shortage of time from dealing with many other important matters included in the Governor-General’s Speech. It projects Government policy and legislation that the Government intends to bring down during the life of this Parliament, but I believe that the omissions from the Speech are more important than some of the matters that are included. Many of the points contained in the Governor-General’s Speech are good because they are copied from Labour policy.
I wish now to deal with the Commonwealth’s financial relationship with local government bodies, a matter which is closely related to Commonwealth aid roads grants. It is not mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. I believe it was wilfully avoided by the Prime Minister, even though it is such an important national matter. Local government bodies representing every municipal and shire council in Australia have been attempting to inform the Prime Minister of their needs but he has refused to meettheir deputations. In order to achieve proper representation, all local government bodies affiliated into a body known as the Commonwealth Local Government Association. It is not a political body, nor is it a small pressure group, for there is not one local government body in any part of Australia that is not affiliated with the association. They all support its objectives.
The land rating system of local government bodies has been in existence for 40 or 50 years, since the horse-and-buggy era. This method of financing local government does not meet present-day needs. It is not suited to the motor age. In order to demonstrate why it is important that deputations from local government bodies should be received I will quote some comparisons of facts and figures. An examination shows that the present method of financing the needs of local government bodies is inadequate. In the horse-and-buggy era, gravel roads - they were regarded as first-class roads - and scooped out ditches for drains were acceptable. A gutter near the roadside and a dirt drive were adequate to carry horse and buggy into the yard to be put away. When one compares those requirements with the needs of the motor age and other modern amenities, it will easily be seen that the present land rating system is out of date. As an example, we now require baby health centres. Many of these centres are to be found in the cities and municipalities. Then there are rest centres for mothers and small children, centres for senior citizens and centres for recreation and cultural purposes, as well as sports grounds, swimming pools and libraries. These and a multiplicity of other facilities now required were not required in the horse and buggy days. The home nursing services provided by local government are doing great service in the community, as are the health centres where local government authorities participate in the prevention of diphtheria, tuberculosis and poliomyelitis, and in the detection of cancer.
There are many other needs which have to be met by local government authorities. At one time there was enough room in streets and in paddocks to provide parking facilities, but now buildings often have to be erected to provide parking space. Comparing the costs of a few years ago with present-day costs, we find that a 20-foot two-lane gravel road now costs £4,000 a mile, while a tar-sealed road costs £6,000 a mile and a cement road £40,000. Twenty years ago these roads would have cost £1,000, £1,500 and £10,000 a mile respectively. The cost has increased by 400 per cent. To find the cost of the four-lane road now so often required you must double the figures I have given. Consider the cost of cement kerbing and guttering, which every one now requires. In 1950 the cost was 5s. a foot but to-day it is 20s. In the horse-and-buggy days cement kerbing and guttering were not required. Municipalities and shire councils are now responsible for 376,000 miles of road, or 75 per cent, of the total road length in Australia to-day.
To meet the cost of all these new community needs, local government rates have been increased by 550 per cent, in the last fifteen years. These rates have risen by so much in order to meet increased costs, but home owners and land owners to-day find it very difficult to pay the increased charges. In fact, many people are unable to pay their rates. Figures relating to uncollected rates have been published recently in the daily papers. I have not had time to go into the figures for the other States, but I think they would bc comparable with those for New South Wales, where there is a total of £6,000,000 owing in uncollected rates. The figure for Bankstown, in my electorate, was £103,000 for 1963, which brought the total, at the end of 1963, to £325,000. The outstanding rates in Blacktown, another Sydney suburban municipality, amount to £400,000. As I have said, the total figure for New South Wales is £6,000,000. This is because people canot afford to pay the increased charges. The Bankstown municipal authority has an overdraft of £830,000, and its total loan debt at present is £2,000,000. I have quoted Bankstown and Blacktown, not in a spirit of criticism, but to show the general pattern.
Looking at the overall picture in Australia to-day, we find that the loan debt of local government authorities amounts to £250,000,000. One can imagine the yearly interest charge on that sum. I believe it is about £12,000,000. The councils are paying out that sum in interest, apart from anything else. I believe that kind of finance for the local government authorities which provide national facilities is out of date. Some new way of financing these requirements should be found. If we compare local government debt with the total national debt of Australia, we see the predicament of local government. I will make a comparison of the years 1949 and 1959. In 1949 the Commonwealth debt was £1,843,000,000 and in 1959 it was £1,756,000,000- a decrease of 4.7 per cent. The debt of the States was £1,102,000,000 in 1949 and £2,495,000,000 in 1959 - a rise of 126 per cent. The Commonwealth debt has decreased, whilst the debt of the States has increased. In 1949 the debt of local government was £83,000,000 and in 1959 it was £231,000,000- an increase of 165 per cent in the ten-year period.
– Are those the figures for the whole of Australia?
– Yes. I return to the question of outstanding rates due to local government authorities. Under the Constitution the Commonwealth and the States are exempt from land rates, water rates and sewerage and other municipal rates. I know that the Commonwealth does make ex gratia payments in this regard, although it is not compelled to do so under the Constitution. The Commonwealth makes payments in respect of some services, but not in respect of land rates. The Commonwealth sets a precedent by paying rates in respect of some services, but it pays no rates in respect of unimproved capital land values. I will give some figures to show what this costs local government. If the Commonwealth did pay these rates to local government, that would make a great difference to the finance available. The unimproved capital value of Commonwealth properties in Sydney at 31st December, 1963, in respect of which no contribution in lieu of rates is paid by the Commonwealth, was £9,246,000. The States do not pay local authorities land rates in respect of schools and so on, and the figures here are very much higher than those in respect of the Commonwealth. The unimproved capital value of State government property in Sydney in respect of which no contribution in lieu of rates is received is £66,457,000. Revenue lost by the Sydney City Council in 1963 was £202,000 in respect of Commonwealth-owned property and £1,453,000 in respect of State-owned property. The local government authorities are expected to provide many services for the State and the Commonwealth without obtaining any return. They provide roads to Commonwealth properties and gutters around the buildings, but the Commonwealth does not pay anything for the services. If the Commonwealth agreed to pay rates on its properties the councils would be able to meet their obligations and their immense debt of £250,000,000 would not have accrued.
In the municipality of Bankstown, 15i per cent, of the land is not ratable because of the amount of Commonwealth property in the area. We have an aerodrome there and this takes many acres of land. If the Bankstown Council could collect rates on government-owned property it would be able to collect £80,000 in respect of Commonwealthowned property and £143,000 in respect of State-owned property. The Bankstown Council loses more than £200,000 each year because these properties are not ratable. The Commonwealth should take cognisance of the services provided to Commonwealth and State properties by local government authorities and should make ex gratia payments. If the Commonwealth paid all the rates applicable to government-owned property, the debts of the councils would not be as substantial as they are.
The local government authorities build most of the roads used by motor vehicle owners and the motor vehicle owners provide a substantial revenue for the Commonwealth. Tax on petrol and oil and similar products amounted to £71,000,000 last year, but the Commonwealth paid to the States only £54,000,000 in aid roads grants. If the Commonwealth paid to the States all the money it gathered from the use of motor vehicles, as was originally intended, the States and the local government authorities would not be in the financial predicament in which they find themselves to-day. Over a period of ten years the Commonwealth has retained many millions of pounds that it should be returning to the States and the local government authorities. Motor vehicle owners not only pay a tax on petrol but they also pay sales tax on the vehicle and on the parts that they buy. I understand that sales tax on motor vehicles and parts amounts to £79,000,000 a year. I think that last year the total revenue from petrol tax and sales tax amounted to £150,000,000. What did the Commonwealth do? It handed back to the States only £54,000,000.
I think it is time that the Commonwealth reviewed its attitude. It ill becomes the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to brush aside people who come to Canberra to put their views to him on these matters. The Prime Minister said he was prepared to see the authorities if the Ministers in charge of local government affairs in the six States all agreed that he should see them. It is easy for the Prime Minister to arrange for his friend Sir Thomas Playford or his friend Mr. Bolte not to agree, and that is the end of it. He said he would see the authorities only if the States unanimously agreed that he should see them. The Prime Minister should not use that kind of excuse for not seeing people. I think he should see the authorities on these very important matters.
I appeal to the Government and to the Prime Minister to look at the claims that are being made by the local government authorities throughout Australia. In my opinion, the local government authorities are closer to the people and more aware of their needs than the Commonwealth is, and they should receive more consideration than they have been receiving. It is quite obvious that the old land rating system that was first adopted when the system of local government was established many years ago, in the horse-and-buggy era, does not meet present-day needs. I believe that a new deal is necessary and I hope- that some time during the life of this Parliament the Commonwealth Government will seriously consider altering its present attitude on the payment of rates.
.- I hope that you, Mr. Speaker, will not consider it a mere conventional display of courtesy on my part or an attempt to seek some indulgence from you in the future when I congratulate you most sincerely on your re-election to the Speakership of this House. I am sure that I speak for all honorable members who have had the privilege of sitting under you when I say that we welcome you back into the Speaker’s chair. We know that you will show to us all the same tolerance and benignity that you have shown in the past.
I join with my friend, the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa), in congratulating the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply, the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) and the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey). All of the new members who have come to this Parliament come as the result of the clear expression of the will of the Australian people.
– A debacle!
– I thought you had had your knock-out on 30th November. Apparently you are in search of more.
The new members come to a remarkable place, a place in which there is a good deal of camaraderie. I wish honorable members on both sides well. I am bound to say with complete candour that I was sorry to see some former members go. One of the most remarkable features that I have found in the Parliament is that friendships extend beyond party and, even though there may be some fiery differences of opinion on occasions, those friendships seem to remain. But Parliament is hardly the best place in which to seek to perpetuate one’s ephemera. I know there are some people who despise Parliament, but as long as the majority of the people in the community never dismiss it they will always live in a free society.
It is useful to notice that the evolution of parliamentary democracy is the peculiar achievement of the British people of the Commonwealth of Nations, as we know it to-day. It is to the Commonwealth of Nations in the broad that I want to address myself to-day, not in the certain belief that everything I will say will be received with rapturous applause but in the hope that my views will at least be put without any ambiguity. In this connexion, I say candidly that I prefer to perish with the principles I hold on this subject rather than to prosper with some of those held by some of my acquaintances. I say at once that the Commonwealth of Nations in recent years has been terribly neglected. I will invite honorable gentlemen on either side of the House to point to any occasion in recent years when there has been a concerted and intelligent effort directed towards reviving or improving Commonwealth relations. One is driven reluctantly to the conclusion that the Commonwealth concept has indeed been abandoned by many people and that we have allowed what I describe as a conspicuous collection of defeatists and denigrators to peddle and to establish the view that the Commonwealth of Nations is finished and is supported only by the sentimentalists and the deluded.
I think it is time that this insidious attack on the Commonwealth was met head-on and without regard to those involved or to the consequences. I invite those who have any affection for the Commonwealth of Nations, and for what it has achieved and is trying to achieve, to say to those who have sought to undermine Commonwealth relations that it is time they stopped their activities and turned their minds and their hands to more useful and more acceptable work.
It is very difficult, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to find the starting point of the rot that has gone on. I suppose that the flash-point of the disintegration of the Commonwealth should fairly be taken as the European Common Market negotiations. I have no wish to take part in any exhumation of that controversy, but I suggest that it would be completely futile to believe, and to try to convey the impression, that nothing has happened. The negotiations that took place in Brussels were crucial to the whole pattern of Commonwealth relations. I say again - I hope with acceptable frankness - that those who were chiefly responsible for arguing the case that the United Kingdom, which is the centre of the Commonwealth, should go into Europe were so constant in their use of falsehood that it became their profession and not merely their instrument. As we look back in retrospect, we see that one of the most curious arguments that appeared out of that controversy was the argument: It is inevitable that the United Kingdom go in. The argument of inevitability, indeed, was pushed around the world with what one can describe as odious impiety. No longer was the will of people, the will of individuals, of any concern. Yet the singular and striking fact to be struck home, even to the dumbest in the community, is the fact that the inevitability argument has been completely desiccated.
When we look to-day at all the prophecies that were made, some of them seem almost ludicrous. I ask these questions: Has there been the crumbling in the United Kingdom that was prophesied by Mr. Heath and those who said, as he did, “If we do not go into Europe, the United Kingdom will assuredly crumble “? Have there been that crumpling and that crumbling? In what way has the economy of the United Kingdom collapsed? Indeed, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, only yesterday, expressed the view that conditions had never been more buoyant. Where is the complete disintegration that was prophesied with such confidence? Where is the physical annihilation that was expected. All these things and worse were prophesied by people in the United Kingdom and elsewhere throughout the Commonwealth. The whole episode serves to illustrate above all things one clear principle: Where there are an individual will and a purpose related to any matter, it is possible to shape and to condition events and to shape circumstances.
With regard to the Commonwealth, my view is that if there could be the same measure of will to rebuild the Commonwealth as there has been inattention given to it, the Commonwealth of Nations could again be recognized to-day as a powerful influence in a terribly distressed and anxious world. There is a tremendous amount of evidence to suggest that the Commonwealth has been neglected. For example, there is the fact that there has been no conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers since 1962, when so disastrous a conference was held. What did that conference show? It showed, above all things, one pathetic figure, with scant regard for the true character of the Commonwealth, with little respect for its capacity and, presumably, with no faith in its future. As that conference, charmless and depressing spectacle that it was, dragged towards its end, the servile supporters everywhere were to be seen practising with undignified enthusiasm some strange funeral rite concerning the Commonwealth. The incongruity of their antics was punctuated only by those who sought to bury the Commonwealth before its expected death had been announced.
I say, Sir, that the time has arrived for a new approach to the Commonwealth of Nations. I am bold enough to say that if there is not a new approach there will be no Commonwealth worth while within five years. Certainly, it will not be identifiable with any great issue that concerns the welfare of the world. What has been done, for example, regarding the new emergent nations that have come into the Commonwealth? Admittedly, tremendous patience has been shown to many of them. The diversity brought about by the new nations coming into the Commonwealth has created new strains. But there has been no proportionate effort to look after them and to see what can be done to accommodate the diversity and to take up the new strains. 1 hope that honorable members will believe me when I say that my proposition is not that the Commonwealth should be identified as a single economic unit like the European Economic Community. My proposition is not that all of us ought to embrace some dogmatic theory concerning the nature of the Commonwealth. My proposition, spelt out in simple terms, is that the machinery for Commonwealth consultation, as it exists to-day, is utterly inadequate. Holding as I do the firm conviction that that machinery can and should be improved, and holding also the conviction that the Commonwealth should not be destined for some tame and timid role in world affairs, I put forward certain proposals that J hope will interest people in this country and possibly elsewhere.
First, I propose the establishment of a Commonwealth economic development council to examine the promotion of increased trade and development within the Commonwealth. No person in the Commonwealth to-day knows, beyond a sort of broad view, what resources Commonwealth countries have. Does any person put up intelligible opposition to the making of a survey of raw material resources within the Commonwealth similar to the survey inaugurated some years ago by the President of the United States of America and culminating in the Paley report?
We have in existence - brought into being, I think, by the conference of Commonwealth finance ministers at Montreal in 1958 - what is known as the Commonwealth Economic Consultative Council. The key word is “ consultative “. This body is consultative only. It does nothing beyond meeting occasionally. It is a complete farce in the sense that it does nothing to give some point and character to Commonwealth relations.
What is the objection to a Commonwealth economic development council with a secretariat? Who is opposed to it and why? On a few occasions when such an idea has been canvassed, all sorts of reasons have been given to establish that we should not go beyond a certain point.
But I do not see why intelligent people should be worried about that sort of thinking. It is very easy to find people who can give you 1,000 reasons why something should not be done but it is far better to face up to the man who can give you one reason why something should be done. Today the Commonwealth of Nations offers absolutely fantastic potential in trade and development. Do you know that if the purchasing power of every person within the Commonwealth of Nations were to increase by Id. a day, trade throughout the Commonwealth of Nations would increase by more than £1,000,000,000 a year? Is that to be sneezed at? But what is done to try to give coherent expression to Commonwealth relationships in seeking to build up many oE the under-developed Commonwealth countries?
The trading positions of the older Commonwealth countries, such as Canada, New Zealand, Rhodesia and Australia, have not always been considered sympathetically by the United Kingdom. I do not know of anybody who has died from speaking frankly and I see no reason why one should not say that the position of the older Commonwealth countries has not always been considered sympathetically by the United Kingdom. Only a week or so ago the London “ Financial Times “ reported that Britain will consider proposals for tariff preferences to be given by all major industrialized countries to all the less-developed countries provided that the Commonwealth is prepared to give up its present exclusive preferences in the United Kingdom market. That is the view of the Establishment in the United Kingdom. No person should be under any illusion about that. I see nothing wrong in saying to the Establishment, “ You are letting down those countries in whose hands the keys of liberty were held for so many years “. What has been done about this situation? There has not been a Prime Ministers’ conference for three years, save the disastrous one held in 1962 and to which I have already referred. Throughout Establishment circles in the United Kingdom the trend is to whittle away in a psychological sense the importance of preference in the United Kingdom market. The Kennedy round is coming up. What attempt has been made to get something approaching a common front for Commonwealth countries? The Kennedy round is a round of negotiations of crucial importance to the Commonwealth, yet all we have is the Commonwealth Economic Consultative Council, which is consultative only. I suppose that council has done - in homely language - absolutely nothing towards trying to get a common approach to these problems.
Secondly, I suggest the establishment of a Commonwealth export council. 1 admit that that is not a new proposal; it has been put forward before. I have been interested to note that it was supported during his absence from the treasury bench by Mr. Selwyn Lloyd. I hope that it will be taken up again. I believe that we should exploit to the full the tremendous trading opportunities that exist in Commonwealth countries. As an example of those opportunities may I impose on the patience of the House to cite certain figures. In 1963 the United Kingdom exported 94,000 motor vehicles to Australia and New Zealand, whose populations total 13,000,000 persons. To the six Common Market countries, with a total population of 170,000,000 persons, the United Kingdom in the same year exported only 142,000 motor vehicles. The increase was in no way proportionate to the larger population.
Wherever you look at this problem you find most encouraging signs. The Commonwealth, above all other trading areas, offers almost illimitable opportunities to the United Kingdom and to other Commonwealth countries. All the cynics and sophisticates - the Establishment supporters; those who are prepared to fawn at the feet of the Establishment desperately seeking a C.B.E., a peerage or what-have-you - will trot out reasons why this should not or could not be done. I say that we should ignore them. They have never contributed anything worth while to the Commonwealth. All that they have done in recent years has been to seek to undermine the Commonwealth.
Thirdly, I believe that we should take advantage of the unique basis of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to establish a Commonwealth assembly. Tremendous impetus has been given to union in Europe by the Council of Europe at Strasbourg. Representatives from the parliaments of member countries meet together in the Council of Europe to exchange their views and gradually their views have crystallized into principles and ideas of action. I would support anything that would make for Commonwealth countries getting a little closer together and expressing a little more Commonwealth unity than has hitherto been the case. Most Commonwealth countries have a wealth of things in common. Wherever you go throughout the Commonwealth of Nations you find the same parliamentary traditions and the same habits of thinking in many respects. Yet these things are being ignored and neglected and because of that the intrinsic value of the great force that lies within them is not being used.
Fourthly, I would hope that a genuine effort would be made to increase on a vast scale the Commonwealth education scheme. The Montreal Education Conference is to be held this year, when I hope every effort will be made to see that the level of education in under-developed countries is investigated with a view to ascertaining what assistance may be given to those countries.
Fifthly, I suggest that some efforts should be made to promote a greater exchange of scientific and technical information among Commonwealth countries. These days there is a temptation to take the view that we must be suspicious of a sister Commonwealth country. I cannot understand that view. If you stand with your friends on some issues surely you must be prepared to trust them and to be frank with them. That, after all, is one of the distinguishing features of any form of friendship or companionship.
Sixthly, I would like to see a Commonwealth court established. The third Commonwealth Law Convention will be held in Sydney next year. I hope that convention will be given an opportunity to consider the establishment of a Commonwealth court. It is of no use denying that some countries have not treated the rule of law as it should be treated. We have witnessed social and political excesses in many Commonwealth countries. This is to be regretted. Possibly this situation may be described as one of the manifestations associated with the achievement of self-government - of taking up the strain and responsibilities of discharging self-government. This may be so, but I think that if there is respect for the rule of law many of these excesses can be controlled. Certainly they could be diminished. A Commonwealth court representative of Commonwealth countries would play, in my view, a tremendous part in seeing that the rule of law was properly observed.
Seventhly, I would hope that those who are in a position to engender interest in these matters would consider the establishment of a Commonwealth youth volunteer movement. Already in the United Kingdom the Duke of Edinburgh has undertakento be patron of a small United Kingdom youth volunteer movement which will go out into the under-developed Commonwealth countries and help them. What is wrong with expanding that scheme to put it on a Commonwealth basis? Why restrict the idea to the United Kingdom?
Perhaps my proposals have not been put, for a number of reasons, in precise form, but I hope they will interest some honorable members. As I have said, possibly they will interest some people in other Commonwealth countries - people who hold that the Commonwealth of Nations yet has a great role to play in world affairs. I hope that the Prime Ministers, particularly those of the older Commonwealth countries, will consider issuing a call to the people of the Commonwealth to remember their tremendous inheritance and their great heritage, to remember that we have so many traditions in common, that we have accomplished so much, and also that we have responsibilities and have accepted them in the past and are prepared to accept them in the future. That call should not be issued in any bombastic sense, but in a quiet, firm and clear sense. Finally it may be apposite to say, in the words of a great poet of years ago -
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength’ which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, since we were here last there have been some changes. We are still on this side of the House, but there are not so many of us. The same number of members have entered the Parliament, but they are in different places. It is a very sad sight for us. I congratulate all those who were successful, although the success of some honorable members means that I have lost some very loyal friends and wonderful members of this House. Politics is probably the greatest gamble of all. That is why we have a pensions scheme. We should always realize that when a man is elected to this Parliament under the processes of democracy as we know it, he has a very important part to play in the life of this nation and he becomes a parliamentary colleague of ours, although he may belong to another party and another philosophy. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) was on the right track when he expressed similar sentiments at the beginning of his speech to-day. I congratulate you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on your re-election without opposition. I congratulate Mr. Speaker, too. I believe that he has done a wonderful job in previous parliaments. The other officers also have our warm wishes for a successful three-year term.
In my opinion, the document that was read to us yesterday in the other place - the Government’s programme for this year - was anaemic. It was put together like a jerry-built house. It seemed as though it was slammed together loosely, as the Liberal Party’s election promises were slammed together at the last minute. Much work will be needed to carry out the sentiments expressed in that document. That applies to the election promises, too. Some of them may not be carried out in the next three years. The Speech lacked purpose and planning. It was sketchy and lacked real meat. It was an easy-going, slap-happy document. I have listened to many opening speeches - nine, I think - since I have been in this Parliament. This was one of the most anaemic opening speeches to which I have listened, because of its sketchiness, its carelessness and its carefree attitude.
I congratulate the two new members who spoke last night - the mover and seconder of this motion. Making one’s first speech in this Parliament is a very difficult job. I had the honour to be the mover of the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply in November, 1946, when the Labour
Party had been returned to office. I can still recall the feelings and emotions I had at that time. 1 have always had great sympathy for men making their maiden speeches. To those honorable members who have yet to make their maiden speeches, I say that we are looking forward to them and we will listen to them with great interest. They are new men. Perhaps they have new ideas. They probably have certain basic thoughts about the Commonwealth of Australia that they would like to let us have. The AddressinReply debate is the time to express those thoughts to the House. We will be listening with great interest to the maiden speeches. I do not say that we agree with the political philosophy of honorable members opposite - far from it - but they are entitled to theirs as much as we are entitled to ours.
The Menzies Government has been returned - worse luck - although the Australian Labour Party received 50,000 more votes in total than the Liberal Party and Australian Country Party together received. Such is the strangeness of our electoral system that that often - nearly always - has been the position since we went into opposition. The victory was achieved again with the subservient assistance of the Australian Democratic Labour Party - the lap-dog of the Liberal Party. In my opinion the Liberal election victory was due not so much to policy as to a person. That person is the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). Honorable members opposite can thank their lucky stars that they have the Prime Minister for their leader. God help them when he goes out of this place. Then they will have their troubles, just as we had our troubles some years ago.
Undoubtedly, the Prime Minister is the Liberal Party. The federal conference of the party sends up recommendations and they are knocked over with monotonous regularity by the Prime Minister. He can please himself whether he accepts them or does not accept them. Generally he does not accept them. He is a law unto himself. He has an element of dictatorship in him. He has that streak in him. And people love it. That is why he has had such phenomenal success over the years. He has an easy-going manner. He is a superb speaker. He is probably the best speaker in the world, in my opinion. He has a keen mind. He is a good strategist and an excellent tactician, and he has had phenomenal luck over the last fourteen years. All those are my personal opinions. We have to assess our political enemies as we would assess anything else. I am being quite honest when I say these things.
The Prime Minister has made it possible for honorable members opposite to be returned. Their return is due almost entirely to him. Only his prestige and status are capable of keeping the Libera] Party together in this place and throughout Australia. But for him there would have been a complete split between the Country Party and the Liberal Party in the last twelve months. That split may still come. The Prime Minister had much to do with keeping the two parties united enough to go to the polls together. He can rightly take much credit for the performance of his party in the recent election. I say these things though I oppose his political philosophy.
But he cannot govern in his own right. That is his Achilles heel. He had to have the support of the Country Party. He wishes that he could govern without it, but he cannot. Also he must have the support of the Democratic Labour Party. Therefore, he cannot govern in his own right. All the time that Labour has governed this country, we have governed in our own right - without the assistance of any other group - and that is how it will always be. When the Prime Minister steps down from the political stage the situation will change dramatically for the Liberal and Country parties.
We will analyse the reasons for our defeat; of course we will. We would be stupid not to do that. Where correction or change is deemed necessary, a party is foolish not to make such corrections and changes. Self-analysis is a healthy exercise, personally or politically. A fighter who went into the ring on eight occasions and was knocked out eight times would be a very foolish man if, before be went into the ring on the ninth occasion, he did not have a good look at himself, his methods, his tactics, his diet, the way in which he lived - everything. That is how I feel about this matter.
– Have you any comments to make about the Denison by-election?
– It is not necessary to comment. I tried to keep our friend out of this House but he was elected just the same. Good luck to him!
I am dealing with basic things. You cannot continue using the same tactics and presenting the same policies to the people year after year if the people will not accept them. The sensible thing to do is to change them. In this changing world a party must have some flexibility. I say that deliberately. Rigidity can be dangerous. Rigidity is often another name for pigheadedness, and political pig-headedness is stupidity of the worst kind. What was right in 1901 could be wrong in 1964. The Australian Constitution proves that. Many alterations are needed in the Constitution to make it truly effective in the changed and changing conditions of the mid-twentieth century. In its present form the Constitution is inadequate. It does not enable the Commonwealth to assume its rightful place and its rightful powers and to perform its rightful task in the nation. Political parties must also change their policies to meet changing conditions. Has the Labour Party’s programme become out-moded or out-dated? Is its policy unacceptable? I feel very strongly about this matter. Principles, ideologies and convictions are different from policies. I do not suggest that any party should throw these basic things overboard, because they last throughout a man’s lifetime, throughout a party’s lifetime and throughout a nation’s lifetime; but the way in which principles, convictions and ideologies are implemented must be changed to meet the challenge of the times.
I turn now to the tactics which were adopted by the Australian Democratic Labour Party during the last general election campaign. The most reprehensible and shocking things that I have ever seen were the television programmes presented to the people by the D.L.P. They should have been banned from the air. I had the opportunity to see two of the programmes and as I watched, and listened to the diatribe of lies, misrepresentation and filth, my stomach turned over. I did not see such programmes put on by the Liberal Party or the Australian Country Party.
Perhaps the D.L.P. was doing the work of the Government parties. I do not know, but. I hope there was no association between them. Fancy showing skulls and the bayoneting of men in China with a great arrow pointing down to Australia, and then having the commentator saying, “This will happen to us if the Labour Party is returned to office in Canberra, because the Labour Party collaborates with the Communists “! That is a wicked lie, so wicked that it staggers me to think that any one can believe it, but that lie was expressed in those television programmes. If any honorable members on the Government side of the House approve that method of electioneering they have sunk very low in my estimation. God help us in this country if we have to listen to that kind of thing during election campaigns. It was this rump party, this crowd of make-believe democratic fighters, who put it over the nation.
Who paid for these television programmes? I could not afford to appear on television even once, but the representatives of the D.L.P. occupied hours of television time and had their programmes relayed throughout Australia. Who was financing the D.L.P.? Who was paying the fabulous cost of these television programmes? Do you know what the D.L.P. was doing, Mr. Deputy Speaker? It was taking lies to the altar and baptizing them as truth. Only Hitler did it better. Those television programmes were an example of fascism in its worst form. Let the Australian people be warned. If that is the kind of programme that this party will present to the people it does not deserve one vote from a true democrat.
Let me mention now the duties of an opposition. We have been in opposition for fourteen years, so we are experts.
– And you will be in opposition for another fourteen years.
– No, we will not. That remark indicates the arrogance of honorable members opposite. It is sheer arrogance to say that we will be here for another fourteen years, but we like you to think like that, because arrogance has brought down many governments. We have been in opposition continuously for fourteen years.
– It is a wonder you have not woken up to yourselves.
– We will not change our beliefs because we are in opposition. Your turn will come, and you and your colleagues will be sitting on this side of the chamber. That is the way in which the political pendulum swings. We are now experts in the duties of an opposition. After the fourteen years that we have occupied these benches only six of us remain who served under the last Labour Government from 1946 to 1949, and about 50 of our colleagues have died while I have been here. Not all legislation is the result of the Government’s thinking. Much of Labour’s policy, especially as announced by Labour during election campaigns, has been purloined by the Government and implemented. Good luck to the Government. Even though we have not been in office our policies have been implemented. Labour has been in the vanguard in all worth-while Federal and State reforms since 1900, whether it has been in or out of office.
– Not in relation to the Japanese Trade Agreement.
– Maybe not. That may have been a mistake, but I was not here at that time. In the federal sphere we have been in office for only seventeen years in the last 63, but the number of Labour’s policies which have been placed on the statute-book in those years is remarkable. As I have said, although we have not always placed legislation on the statutebook, by vigorous representations in the House, we have had our policies implemented by other governments which at first even condemned, but later accepted them. During the next three years many of the proposals we announced during the last general election campaign will be adopted and implemented by the Government. Although we have been defeated again, let me say that we have no vested interest in being in opposition, despite what Government members may think.
In the time remaining to me let me mention certain aspects of local government. The honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) referred to this subject, and probably all honorable members oppo site could make a good speech on it. The 925 municipalities are the base of the pyramid, the State governments are the centre of the pyramid and the Commonwealth Government is the apex of the pyramid. I have no hesitation in saying that local government is the grass roots of government in Australia. It touches every one in the Commonwealth at the point of their primary needs - water, sewerage, drainage, roads, kerbing and guttering, health, sporting facilities and so on. That list of functions performed by local government could be added to. Local government is the Cinderella of government, and it deserves a better deal than it has been receiving. Instead of decreasing, its work is increasing rapidly as towns expand and new areas are opened up. I am not an advocate of new States. In fact, I am opposed to them. But I do believe in a vast extension of the power of local government, because it touches the people in their daybyday existence. Financially, local government is a beggar in tattered clothes. It deserves better than that. For decades it has had to take what is left over. The present antiquated system of providing finance is hopelessly inadequate to meet modern demands. Retaining this system in these times is like trying to propel a RollsRoyce car with a T-model Ford engine.
The system works in this way: The councils estimate their annual loan requirements and apply to the State treasuries for the various amounts. The State treasuries then work out the loan allocations for the various councils and inform them accordingly. The computations are made on the basis of allocations from the Australian Loan Council each year. The amount for one council may be £20,000, for another £50,000 and for a third £100,000. But we must remember that the amount of money is not granted as a loan to the particular council; it is merely the amount that the council is permitted to borrow. At this point the councils are cut adrift by Commonwealth and State governments. Now begins the long haul to obtain the £20,000 or £50,000 or whatever the amount may be in the particular case. A council must then approach every available source - banks, insurance companies and so on - in an endeavour to raise the amount that it is allowed to borrow. The warden of the council, as we call him in Tasmania - I understand that in councils on the mainland he is frequently called the president - then wanders, in company with the council clerk, from bank to bank, from insurance company to insurance company, cap in hand, begging for finance to the extent of the council’s loan allocation, to enable the council to carry on for the next twelve months. Sometimes they are successful, sometimes they .are not, in obtaining the amount of their allocation. How can councils really plan their works programmes when they are never sure of being able to obtain the amount they have been given approval to borrow? They cannot plan beyond one year, in any case. This is wasteful and frustrating, and I want to propose to the Government a new plan for financing local government authorities.
As honorable members know, councils have many ways of bringing money in, but what I am referring to now are the amounts they are authorized to borrow to supplement their direct incomes. I suggest the establishment of a central local government lending authority operating within the structure of the Commonwealth Bank, to handle the provision of supplementary finance for all local government authorities throughout Australia. Then when councils were informed by State treasuries of their loan allocations, they could make direct application to the central loan authority, either for the full amount of the allocation or for the amount they found it impossible to obtain from private lending authorities. They could obtain immediately the full amount of the allocation if it were necessary for them to do so, and they would get the money at a lower rate of interest than would be prescribed if they got it from private lending authorities. At least, this would be the case if a Labour government were handling the scheme. Councils would then know that they could be sure of obtaining the full amount of their annual loan allocations and they could plan accordingly. Long-term planning could replace the present haphazard methods.
There are 925 municipalities throughout Australia, 795 of them being rural. Suppose we began the scheme by making £25,000,000 available to the central local government lending authority. If the rate of interest was set at 5 per cent., an additional amount of £1,250,000 would be raised in interest payments each year, and this also would become available for lending to the councils. We could, of course, fix a lower rate of interest and so save the councils a good deal of money. The annual provision for the lending authority would come from Commonwealth sources, in the same way as finance is provided for the Commonwealth Development Bank. Why should this not be done? Why should local government authorities, doing a great national service at the grass roots of government, be forced to go to private financial institutions for loans for purely public works? Admittedly, Commonwealth and State authorities appeal to private sources to fill their loan requirements, but the Commonwealth and States have a prestige and an authority far greater than are found in the field of local government.
I want to see local government given the biggest shot in the arm it has ever had. The suggestion I have made could remove the uncertainties, humiliations and injustices that plague local government authorities at the present time. We cannot do without local government and we should give it all the assistance possible. Finance represents the Achilles heel of local government, and it is up to this Commonwealth Government to recognize the great work that local government is doing by introducing some new scheme for the provision of finance. The lending authority I have suggested could provide the full amount of a council’s allocation if necessary, or it might provide only a proportion of it, but at least a council woud know that it could obtain its full allocation each year.
Another matter that we will have to deal with is the provision of long-term credit for our primary producers. This is most desperately needed and I hope the Government will tackle the problem. The reserve floor price planned for the marketing of wool will also require a lot of thought and perhaps some action during the next three years. We will also need to implement a national roads plan. These are some of the matters that I put forward for the consideration of the Government during the next three years.
.- First, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should like to offer my congratulations, as some earlier speakers have offered theirs, to Mr. Speaker, the senior presiding officer of this House, and also to you, Sir, in your capacity as Chairman of Committees, on having been re-elected unanimously to your respective high offices. The fact that you have both been unanimously re-elected speaks for itself. It shows that every member of this House is confident that the destiny of this body is safe in your hands during the period of this 25th Parliament. We believe that Mr. Speaker and you will continue in the new Parliament to uphold, as you have done in the past, the dignity of your high offices and to maintain the best parliamentary traditions in this place.
I should also like to take the opportunity of congratulating the new Ministers of the Crown who have been appointed. I wish them well in their very responsible tasks of governing the nation in these difficult times. I also congratulate the new members on both sides of the House on their election to this National Parliament, and I wish them well in their parliamentary careers. In particular, I should like to congratulate my colleague, the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns), who moved the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply to His Excellency’s Speech, and also the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey), who seconded the motion. The speeches made by these gentlemen were very fine efforts.
In the time available to me I should like to say something about three closely related fields - defence, development and external affairs. Gone are the days when we could think of these as being in watertight compartments. First let me make some brief reference to defence. Honorable members will have noted from His Excellency’s Speech that defence expenditure has increased from £203,000,000 in 1961-62 to more than £260,000,000 in this financial year. Defence expenditure- will continue to rise substantially in future years. This, of course, will be well understood when considered in the context of other remarks made by His Excellency, with reference both to defence and external affairs.
The Royal Australian Navy has suffered a disastrous loss, but we can be thankful for the offer of a vessel - which offer I understand has been accepted - to replace H.M.A.S. “Voyager”. The Navy - very properly, I believe - is placing great importance in its training on anti-submarine warfare. We must always remind ourselves that Australia is an island continent and that our two major allies, Great Britain and the United States of America, are a long way from us, even in a shrinking world in which distances and lines of communication are, relatively speaking, shorter than they used to be. The strengths of the Army and the Navy are being increased. As is probably well known to most members, the past policy and continuing policy in relation to the Army is to develop an ever-increasingly efficient and hard-bitting mobile force so as to be able to provide adequate protection in case of need. The Air Force also is being extensively reequipped and strengthened.
I am sure that great interest will be shown in His Excellency’s remarks in relation to development, particularly the development of northern Australia. Already there has been set up a northern division of the Department of National Development in order to accelerate the development of our northern areas. We have great resources that have not yet been developed. His Excellency referred in particular to our water and mineral resources, which will play an increasingly important part in our development. We must think more and more in terms of balanced development. It is unfortunate that from the points of view of defence, development and security so great a part of Australia’s population is concentrated in and around our six capital cities. I appreciate that decentralization is a big problem. Primarily it is a problem for the States and I am sure that they are giving thought to it. However, I hope that in the years immediately ahead accelerated efforts will be made to decentralize our population. I will not take time to dilate on this theme because the difficult and important problem of decentralization has so many aspects.
Another important national problem is to establish a priority system in relation to public works. Over the years since my arrival here I have mentioned this point several times. Not yet, I believe, have we succeeded in establishing on a national basis a satisfactory priority system for public works. It could be done in the overall context of a balanced development of the whole continent. I hope that it might be felt opportune now to give some special thought to the matter. Perhaps it could be considered at the forthcoming Premiers’ Conference, especially as two of the States - Queensland and Western Australia - in conjunction with the Commonwealth no doubt will be discussing problems associated with the development of northern Australia.
I turn now to immigration. On one occasion the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said -
Immigration is the greatest single dynamic factor in our economy and in building and developing this country.
Two million people have come to Australia since the end of World War II. They are coming at an increasing rate. Last year’s target was exceeded substantially and I am sure there is general satisfaction with the announcement that the target for the current financial year has been increased by 10,000 in order to assist in the development of our country, which will become their country. Immigration has greatly strengthened the fabric of this nation. Certainly there are problems to be overcome in carrying out a policy of growth with stability. We can be proud of and satisfied with our achievements.
Turning to the economic side, I want to make only a passing reference to economic growth, prosperity and stability. Three or four weeks ago the London “Financial Times “, a leading journal in its field, described Australia as the top favoured nation for capital investment countries. That places us at No. 1 on the list, a position which we have not earned without there being some very good reasons. I believe those reasons to be the continuing stability of costs and prices, a stable economic policy and the general standard of development and progress we have maintained for a number of years. I am sure that success and progress will be projected into the future.
Early in his Speech His Excellency referred to international affairs, as fallows: -
In spite of great international efforts political tension is still high in some regions, notably in Australia’s near north. This is largely, as in the past, due to Communist pressures.
His Excellency then referred to the confrontation of Malaysia and its defence. There followed a reference to Indonesia. We are all aware of this problem and have lived with it for some time. It is a difficult problem, but I have faith that the Government and the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick), who is charged with the special responsibility of dealing with our neighbours to the north and elsewhere, will handle the problems involved diplomatically, tactfully and in friendly fashion. Thus he demonstrates that Australia has goodwill towards other countries and wishes to live in peace and harmony with them.
South Viet Nam is not referred to specifically in His Excellency’s Speech, but the situation in that country has worried many of us for some time. The Viet Cong Communist guerrillas have made substantial gains in recent times. The strategic hamlets, set up as a defensive measure against the onslaught of the Viet Cong, have not been as successful as was at first hoped and as they at first proved. A period of turbulence has prevailed in that unhappy country. Let us hope that stability will be restored there before much longer.
Britain has pledged full support for Malaysia and Australia’s position has been made very clear by the Prime Minister. I am sure that the decision to send an Australian mission to Malaysia to carry out first hand investigations and report to the authorities here will be welcomed as, at any rate, a first step. The main concern of us all is that peace should be preserved in our region of the world. It is most unfortunate that expressions such as “ confrontation “ and “ crush the new Federation of Malaysia “ have been used so freely. I believe their use has occurred mainly through Communist influence and pressure because in Indonesia is the third strongest Communist Party in the world. I have no doubt that it has brought considerable pressure to bear on the Indonesian Government. These terms are not in conformity with the spirit or the letter of the Charter of the United Nations. I submit that the terms “ colonialism “ and “ neocolonialism “, which have been used with equal frequency, similarly do not conform. The charge of colonialism or neocolonialism can certainly not be levelled against Australia. I am glad that the newly appointed Minister for Territories (Mr.
Barnes) is in the House, because I want to tell him how much we wish him well in his particularly responsible task, for which he is so well equipped, to continue the splendid work done by his predecessor in relation to Papua and New Guinea. There is a reference to Papua and New Guinea at page 3 of His Excellency’s Speech. There is no doubt that the momentum of the economic, social and political advancement of that region will continue during the term of this Parliament under the administration and direction of the new Minister for Territories.
Let us hope that, speaking in general and broad terms, wiser councils will prevail in relation to the problems that exist to the north of Australia. I hope and believe that will be so. I have said previously in this House that I believe that the fact that we in Australia are historically and culturally of the West but geographically of the East provides us with both an opportunity and a challenge - a special opportunity and a challenge which is peculiar to Australia. Of all the Western nations, this is the only one directly connected geographically with South-East Asia. We are, of course, much closer to South-East Asia than is our sister nation, New Zealand, a few hundred miles across the sea. I believe that if we keep in mind the idea of forming a bridge, as it were, between East and West, we can play a special part in contemporary affairs and that when the history of our time comes to be written many years hence it will record that the government and the people of Australia accepted their responsibility in this respect and were prepared to take up the challenge of their time and play their part temperately, sensibly and co-operatively in the building up of goodwill and friendship, at least in our portion of the globe. I believe we have already done this to a very great extent, particularly through the Colombo Plan.
I have recently obtained some very interesting figures in this respect. I want to make particular reference to Indonesia because, as has been pointed out, we are anxious to demonstrate to Indonesia, as well as to other countries to the north of Australia, that we have nothing but feelings of goodwill and friendship towards them and that that is the way we wish to live with them. I have a chart showing, under the heading “ Colombo Plan Technical Cooperation Scheme “, the extent of the aid given by Australia to individual countries, up to and including 30th June, 1963. Under this heading, Indonesia heads the list with the large total of £2,271,174, up to 30th June last. Then come a number of other countries, but, because of the time factor, I will not give the various sums involved. I point out that Indonesia is at the head of the list of recipients under this heading. Other countries assisted through this technical co-operation scheme have been Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Ceylon, India, Laos, Malaya, Nepal, North Borneo, Pakistan, Philippines, Sarawak, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. The total amount expended to 30th June, 1963, under this technical co-operation scheme is just under £12,000,000.
I would like to refer briefly, if I may, to other expenditure by Australia under the Colombo Plan, which, as honorable members will recall, was initiated by Australia in 1950. Under the heading “ Economic Development Programme “ are shown the figures up to 30th June, 1963. I would like to mention the countries concerned, as we want them to feel that we desire to help them. We do not offer or give any of these materials or aids in a spirit of patronage, but as one nation to a brother nation and a friend. The recipients to 30th June last under this heading were Burma, Cambodia, Ceylon, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaya, Nepal, North Borneo, Pakistan. Philippines, Sarawak, Thailand and Viet Nam. Burma has received approximately £670,000, Cambodia approximately £770,000, Ceylon approximately £3,500,000, India approximately £12,750,000, Indonesia a little over £3,000,000, Laos £273,000 odd and Malaya a little over £500,000. There are others, but in view of the time I will give only the grand total of assistance given by Australia under this heading. It is a magnificent total, in terms of our population and our immediate resources. It is £35,540,539, up to 30th June, 1963. I think we can all be proud of the part we have played in helping to consolidate friendship and build up goodwill over the thirteen and a half years since the Colombo Plan came into being. The plan has been extended from time to time and
I understand that the present extension will last until some time in 1966.
I would like to see a greater flow of students to Australia under the Colombo Plan, because I believe that students who come here from the various countries within the region of the Colombo Plan are the best ambassadors we can have for Australia. Without exception I have admired those I have met. 1 have met a great many and entertained a number of them in my own home. These students leave their homes in order to learn, and many of them must leave their families behind for a number of years in order to undertake a course at a university, agricultural college or some other institution in Australia. I hope the Government will give some thought to endeavouring to arrange for a greater flow of students to Australia under the Colombo Plan during the next three years. As I said before, I know that our immediate resources in this respect are relatively limited, but I believe that, if we stretch things somewhat, we can make an even better contribution under this heading.
At the Summer School of Political Science in Canberra last month somebody said that Australia lived on the fringe of a forest fire. This is a very striking and startling statement, but, when one thinks about it, it just about sums up our situation. We do live on the fringe of a forest fire. Much of the Asiatic continent and much of the European continent, for that matter, is now under the Communist yoke. I have not time now to deal with the spread of communism or the danger of communism to this country, both within and without, but I would like, on some other occasion, to express some thoughts on that. I believe that, in this present world of ours, which is so clearly divided into the Communist world and the free world, we find a faint glimmer of hope in the signing of the partial nuclear test ban treaty in August of 1963. I believe that I should strike a note of caution in this connexion, because the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has a long history of violating international agreements. Solemn international agreements under many headings and with many countries have been violated by the Soviet Government ever since 1917. I have at my disposal a complete list of the agreements that have been so violated. I trust and earnestly hope and pray that the Soviet Union will not violate this treaty because, although it may not represent the millennium in relation to easing tension in the cold war, it may, to borrow a phrase of the late President Kennedy, at least represent “a milestone along the track”.
Sitting suspended from 5.1 to 8 p.m.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, this afternoon the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) was asked a question about the transport of certain armoured fighting vehicles by rail from Victoria to what was described as northern Australia. Without doubt, the question and the answer were intended to indicate to the genera] public that Centurion tanks not only are good in their class but can be transported with reasonable ease to wherever they may be required. In fact, there was nothing in the recent military demonstration to suggest that there is any truth in that implication. First of all, these tanks were not transported by rail to northern Australia. For the information of the Minister and the honorable member who asked the question, I point out that we in Queensland would not describe Tin Can Bay as northern Australia. Their geographical knowledge is a little astray.
These tanks were not transported to Tin Can Bay by rail. They were taken to Brisbane on the wide-gauge railway. On arrival in Brisbane, no attempt was made to put them on Queensland’s railways with their gauge of only 3-ft. 6-in., because they could not have been transported on the narrowgauge lines. Even at Tin Can Bay, the tanks were still 1,500 miles from the northern coast of Australia. They had to be taken there from Brisbane by sea. I think every one in this House will agree with me that a tank is not much use at sea. It has to be got ashore again. Furthermore, this exercise in transportation postulates, first, that we shall have command of the sea. In an emergency, we may not have. Yet, obviously, these tanks could not be transported to northern Australia by any other means.
When the tanks had been taken ashore at Tin Can Bay, they were able to move only at the rather alarming rate of one mile a day. Some of them bogged in mud to a depth of four feet. An attempt was made to rescue (hem with recovery vehicles. However, the recovery vehicles themselves are only another version of the tanks that they were attempting to rescue, and the obvious happened: The recovery vehicles bogged, too.
The Department of the Army has claimed that valuable lessons were learned in this exercise. Let us hope that they were. The most valuable lesson that could be learned is that this armoured fighting vehicle is no good in that environment. In the Tin Can Bay area, these tanks bogged to a depth of four feet. Had any attempt been made to use them on the western black-soil plains in similar weather conditions, they would never have been found again.
The Centurion tanks are not even firstrate vehicles in their class. They were in the 1940’s but that is a long time ago. Centurion tanks were first brought to Australia about 1946. Those that we have are Mark I.*s, Mark II. ‘s and Mark III.’s at the best. They are armed with one 17-pounder gun each. The British, who originated this vehicle, took it to Mark X. before abandoning it and turning to the Conqueror tank. This was taken to Mark III. before being finally abandoned and replaced by the Chieftain tank, which is an armoured fighting vehicle of some consequence in the heavy class. It carries a 120-millimetre gun and has a travelling range about twice that of the Centurion. The Conqueror also has a lower silhouette than the Centurion.
The transport of Centurion tanks presented difficulties even in the south on the wide-gauge railways. In some instances there were only about 3 inches to spare in some of the tunnels. All I can say is that one would not want to take them through very fast. However, let us accept that they can get through the tunnels on the broad-gauge railways with considerable care. Another point that has not been considered at all is that the tanks could not be (taken off the rail trucks except at special loading and unloading points. We could, of course, create an armoured train by loading enough of these tanks on rail trucks. However, armoured trains went out with boomerangs. The Centurion tank is not an up-to-date fighting machine.
Even the Swiss have at least three armoured fighting vehicles that could blow our Whole squadron of Centurion tanks off the face of the earth. The Swiss have a tank that weighs only 8.7 tons yet carries a 90-millimetre gun, whereas the Centurion tank weighs 50 tons and carries a gun of only 76.2 millimetre calibre. I emphasize that the Centurion carries only one gun. The Swiss, however, have a tank in the same weight range that mounts, not one, but twenty rocket tubes, each of 145millimetre calibre. Is it beyond the realms of possibility for the Government to investigate the capabilities of the Swiss vehicle? The Swiss have another tank that carries two 80-millim’etTe Oerlikon automatic rocket launchers that can fire 500 projectiles a minute at a muzzle velocity of 2,300 feet a second. This is really something!
A tank weighing 8.7 tons can readily be carried by air. In fact, we could put two of them in some of the air transports that we have. If we could move our armoured fighting vehicles by air, we would not take three, weeks to get them from Victoria as far as Tin Can Bay. At the present rate of progress of the Centurion tanks by road, they would take a fortnight to travel sixteen miles by road to a firing range, as they had to do in the Tin Can Bay area. All these things ought to be kept in proper proportion. What have we in this House to gain by putting out this idiotic propaganda that Centurion tanks are modern weapons that can be moved speedily and effectively to counter an invasion? We would have to make very favorable arrangements with the invaders if we were effectively to use these tanks, and the making of such arrangements would not be very likely.
The northern press had reporters out to watch the armoured manoeuvres at Tin Can Bay. The reporters kept a daily score of the number of tanks that got ashore and the number that reached their final destination. Eventually, bitumen roads had to be used, and so that the tanks would not break up the bitumen on the main roads, planks had to be laid in front of them. One can imagine what would happen in time of hostilities if men had to keep retrieving planks from the rear of the tanks and running up to the front to lay the planks again if the tanks had to be taken along bitumen roads.
There is another arrangement that one might make with the enemy. I lived in Asia for some years a good many years ago, and I remember that the armies of the various local war lords in China used to arrange for no fighting to be done in the wet weather and for all the troops to be issued with umbrellas so that they would be less uncomfortable.
Reporting the exercise in the Tin Can Bay area, the northern press, on 22nd February, gave the following account: -
Six safe at their destination, the camp beadquarters.
Five safe at their destination, the gunnery range.
Five still out in the wallum.
Two recovery vehicles “ still out “.
The newspapers reported that an Army spokesman had said that the exercise had been a magnificent lesson. But he did not say in what. On the following day, there was another report in which it was stated that tanks still had not reached their destination. One newspaper reported -
Australia’s armed services continue to make an unfortunate display.
We sink a destroyer, wreck our only aircraft carrier, and now, bog down the Army’s tanks in wallum country near Tin Can Bay.
The tanks are in the area on an exercise designed to test and improve mobility.
In fact, the exercise did just the opposite of improving mobility, for there was no mobility at all. The tanks bogged down in four feet of mud. The newspaper report continued-
At last report, six are safe at camp headquarters. . . .
The major in charge of the operation says “ the boys “ are in good spirits . . .
Elsewhere, it was reported that the men were up to their waists in mud trying to dig out the recovery vehicles. The report continued - the Army says the whole thing has been a “ magnificent lesson “. In what?
We might ask the same question of ourselves here in this place. For many years the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has been trying to find a use for the wallum country in Queensland. Anybody who knows anything about that country will know that you could not move a wheelbarrow through it unless you carried it.
– That applies to both sides.
– Of course it does, but if an invader lands with tanks he will bring tank destroyers. Tank destroyers are light. They will move through mud more easily.
– Which country are you talking about now?
– Any country that has armoured vehicles and armoured regiments has armoured vehicle destroyers, which are lightly armoured vehicles carrying heavy calibre guns. They could move through this type of country more easily. I have already told honorable members that the Swiss have such a vehicle weighing 8.7 tons and mounting a 90 mm. gun. If your heavy vehicles become bogged and the enemy has light vehicles, it does not take a mathematician or a prophet to realize what will quickly happen.
– The Government knows. For a long time it has been bogged down.
– That is so, and it will get in due course the treatment that would be meted out to a bogged tank. Nothing is to be gained from a national point of view by withholding knowledge of the state of our military preparedness. Anybody sufficiently interested in this matter will know what the position is. Not long ago it was pointed out in this House that although we have 100 of these vehicles we do not have
SO drivers. On one occasion I asked the Minister for the Army whether he had made arrangements to put learner signs at the front and rear of these vehicles in the event of hostilities. What is the good of having these things if we do not have the men to use them? What is the use of sinking millions of pounds in equipment if that equipment is not effective?
These things have happened to us before. Anybody who was in New Guinea during the last war will remember that when the Japanese attacked Rabaul we had three Wirraways to defend the town. Those Wirraways went up and took on 100 Japanese Zeros. One thing we do have: We have good men to put into our fighting machines. Why not give them the best you can get if you are going to give them anything? These things have happened too often in the past. I saw them happen in New Guinea. On one occasion I saw a man issued with hand grenades and he had to ask one of our sergeants how they worked. He had never seen one before. Six hours later that man was fighting for his life. That state of affairs was not good enough but it is happening again here under different circumstances.
– What government was in office then?
– What does that matter? What matters is what government is in office now and the state of preparedness of
The equipment about which I have been speaking is twenty-odd years old. It is fourteen models behind what the British have. It is out-gunned1, out-ranged and out-paced by modern equipment. We do not have armoured column vehicles to support it if it had to be put into action. There is no armoured supply column in this country. The extraordinary state of development of our Army was demonstrated in the wallum country when one of the tanks ran out of fuel and a man had to be sent to fetch fuel in four-gallon drums. Imagine trying to do that in action. It is a wonder the Army did not look for a bowser.
– Were all these tanks protecting Capricornia?
– No, we do better than that in Capricornia, particularly from the political point of view. These incidents took place hundreds of miles south of Capricornia. The gentleman who raised this matter said that the tanks went to northern Australia, but he was only 1,000 miles out.
We must remember that our military equipment does not belong to any one political party or even to the Government; it belongs to the country. It will be the citizens of this country who will be called upon to use that equipment. Our present armoured vehicles would be of no more use than half a dozen wheelbarrows. At least you could get wheelbarrows through the wallum country. If we are to have these vehicles we must be able to use them under all circumstances.
– The Labour Government did not have them in 1942.
– The Labour Government bought them and it did not buy out-of-date equipment. When we buy military equipment let us keep in mind the foot soldier who will have to use the equipment. We should not ask him to use antiquated equipment. Other countries have converted Centurion tanks into bridge layers, mobile gun carriages and other useful military vehicles. If these tanks are not the best available for the type of country in which they may need to be used to defend us, why have them? They are not suited to the large areas over which we would have to fight. They have a range of only 30 miles. It was admitted during the last Parliament that it would probably take three months to shift an armoured regiment with all its support units to the Northern Territory. If these vehicles are to be of any use we will need notice of the necessity to use them but these days we could be confronted with another Pearl Harbour: If war came we would be lucky to get five minutes’ notice. With all due respect to the Minister for the Army, I think this House will agree that the question asked by the honorable member for Calare (Mr. England) was answered in a most inadequate manner. Let us admit our shortcomings. Let us tell the people that the Centurion tanks are quite useless. Then let us. get something that is useful. If we are not prepared to build tanks in this country let us buy modern tanks from other countries. At least let us have equipment that will match the equipment of our enemies if hostilities break out. Every honorable member hopes that we never need to use such equipment but if hostilities were to break out to-day, it is, in relation to the equipment of other countries, in the bow and arrow stage. The people of Australia are entitled to know that the equipment that we have is quite useless. They should be told that there is apparently no move to get any better equipment.
– Order! I call the honorable member for Hume and remind honorable members that this will be the honorable member’s maiden speech.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, this is an occasion of great responsibility. I have come into this federal Parliament at a most important time in the nation’s history. First, I would like to say that I have no intention of trying to better one of the records claimed by my predecessor. He claimed that he made three maiden speeches. He was a very sincere man. Secondly, I would be lacking if I did not say that one of the main reasons why I am here is another former representative of Hume, Colonel Charles Anderson, V.C., M.C. No finer man ever represented this country in peace or war. It is a challenge to follow in his footsteps.
I said that this is probably the most important time in Australia’s history. This nation is at the crossroads. We have an opportunity to give a lead to teeming millions of people in this part of the world. Australia is an outpost of western civilization and Christianity. We have an opportunity here and now to make friends with these people, to gain their confidence and so to make this country a leader in this part of the world and to make it safe. At the moment most of the eastern nations look to Australia as a friend. Their students who have been here have liked us and have gone back home with appreciation of our treatment of them. Now we have the opportunity to build on that foundation.
We, as a nation, are particularly fortunate in that we are situated right alongside possibly the greatest potential market that the world has ever seen.
– There is not only China but many other nations, including Japan, Malaysia and even Indonesia. Our attitude to those nations will determine whether we make friends with them. What better way to make friends with a man is there than to trade with him and to get to understand him? We have the opportunity to trade with millions of people with a rising standard of living. They want goods that we have and can produce in abundance and in ever-increasing quantities. As the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said in his policy speech and as the Leader of the Australian Country Party and Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) said, if we are to live we have to grow. We have to progress. We have to become strong. We have to do that quickly. We have not very much time. We have to be strong in defence because these eastern people respect nothing more than strength - strength of character, strength of trade and strength in defence. We have to be strong if we are to hold our place. We also have to have strong allies. That is most important. While we are making friends and trading with these people we can make Australia a very great nation.
I represent one of the most productive, fertile and versatile electorates in the Commonwealth. The Hume electorate is one of the wealthiest in primary goods. I know from practical experience what can be done in our better areas. Much can be done in the other areas and much is being done; but with very little extra effort we could do a great deal more in our better areas of safer rainfall and fertile land.
If we are to live and grow we have to export., “ Exports “ means to a very large extent primary exports. For many years to come we will be dependent mainly on them. If we cannot increase and develop our primary exports we cannot increase and develop our secondary industries. About 90 per cent, of our export income is derived from the sale of primary products. That includes the income from exported minerals and timber, but surely they are primary products. I am surprised at how many people have never realized that approximately 824 per cent, of our imports are raw materials, equipment, machinery and tools for secondary industry and that only 174 per cent, of our imports are direct consumer goods. The latter percentage includes all the motor cars that we import. Those figures have been issued by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics.
If we are to build up this country as quickly as we can, we must concentrate first on our primary exports so that we can build up our secondary industries and secondary exports and so give employment to the thousands of people to whom it is impossible to give employment in primary industry. We must have a balanced economy. We believe in a balanced economy. We believe in a broad national outlook under which every section of the community receives its fair share of the good things and of the results of its labour.
I am concentrating on primary production because my electorate is principally a primary producing area, lt may surprise even honorable members to know that the average Australian worker in primary production produces approximately twice as much in goods and value as his counterpart in the United States of America and three times as much as his counterpart in the United Kingdom. I know that in Australia we have very favorable conditions. But for our favorable climate and this remarkable country we would not have been able to continue to export our primary products across the world and to compete with other nations with low costs of production, low standards of living and low wage levels. I am not suggesting that our primary industries are yet 100 per cent, efficient by any means, but we have a very good reason to be proud of their record to date.
We could lift production very quickly in some of our better areas. In our country areas we have thousands of young men who are looking for an opportunity to develop new land. These fellows are not looking for any gifts or hand-outs. They are not looking for a 30-hour week, four weeks’ annual leave, or any of the other things for which so many workers in other industries are looking. These men are looking for the long-term finance which is so vital to the development of our country areas. We have the land and the men to double or treble the production from many of our properties, or to increase it to an even greater extent. That has been done in the Hume electorate and in many other areas.
Hand in hand with the development of production from our rural properties we must help the development of our country towns. This matter is very close to my heart. I have been quite active in such development in my own area for a number of years. It is not easy to develop country towns, but it is terribly important to do so. After the young people in country areas finish their high school or college education they cannot find jobs in the immediate vicinity, so we lose not only the best brains and the best types of young people but also, very often, the whole family, which pulls up its roots and moves to the great city. So another country town suffers.
Much has been said about decentralization but very little has really been done.
If we are to decentralize we must make a start by manufacturing certain goods in country areas or processing local products there. I have had experience of trying to introduce secondary industries to a country town and I have found that the cost beats them every time. Employers have told me that the type of labour offering in country towns is very often superior to that offering in the cities. For one thing, employees in country towns cannot throw away one job and walk across the street to another, so the job becomes important to them. There is also a closer personal touch and a belter relationship between management and labour.
Life in a country town to-day is not what it was a few years ago. Most of our country towns have amenities equal to, and sometimes better than, those offering in some suburbs in the cities. You can get to work within a few minutes travel and you have sporting facilities, modern swimming pools, electric power, water and sewerage, and kerbing and guttering which, incidentally, many Sydney suburbs have not got. Life in a country town to-day can be very pleasant. It is so very different from what it was in the past. In addition, although it is said that in a country town every one knows your business, at least every one is interested in you. When a person is in trouble some one is on the spot very quickly to help. Sometimes in a great city you could die and your next door neighbour would not even know about it. That sort of thing does not happen in a country town.
If we are to develop Australia we must develop our country areas. We could start with the obvious things. We could have meat-killing works in the country instead of transporting our stock to the seaboard, causing deterioration in quality and loss in quantity. Also, the offal could be used for fertilizer and stock feed in the area. If we had flour mills operating in the country many employment opportunities would become available. Most country dwellers know how many flour mills have been closed in the country for the benefit of the city mills. We in the country pay freight for the cartage of our wheat to the seaboard and for the return cartage of the flour to the areas where the wheat was grown. Consequently, we pay more for our bread than we should.
Steel and timber could be fabricated in the country. In my area we have a steel fabricating works. If the raw material could be purchased in country areas the steel could be fabricated on the spot thus enabling it to compete successfully with the big city industries. At present freight is our great difficulty. To carry goods from one coastal port to another in Australia costs only a fraction of what it costs to carry goods from the city to a town like Young, Cootamundra or any other town not very far from the coast.
The development of canneries offers tremendous scope. A cannery in a country town would not only give employment to vast numbers of men and women but it would also process the food at the ideal time, thus retaining all of its quality and flavour. When fruit has to be sent to the seaboard for processing it often has to be picked when it is immature, so the wastage is tremendous. Further, the cost of cartage is very high. If only for the national purpose of avoiding the wastage of food and deterioration in quality we should develop canneries in the country areas.
In the Hume electorate potato growing is quite a large industry. Every honorable member knows the potato story. Potatoes are either so dear that the housewife c.innot afford to buy them or they are so cheap that the growers do not bother to harvest them. That happens season after season. The practical thing to do would be to process the potatoes and so create a stabilized market. This is not a proposal that I am just pulling out of the air, because that has been done in Victoria quite successfully. At present fresh potatoes in Victoria are so dear that the ordinary housewife cannot afford them. In the past we had a similar position with peas and beans, but now very few people buy fresh peas and beans. They buy frozen peas and beans, which are processed when they are at the very peak of quality. I understand that in the United States of America three-quarters of all potatoes grown are processed. Not only potatoes but also many other vegetables and fruits are processed. Here is a tremendous opportunity for decentralization to develop and strengthen this nation.
Let me refer now to wheat. Wheat growing is a very big industry in the Hume electorate. Modern equipment, modern methods and the development of highly fertile subterranean pastures have had such an influence on production that our average crop has increased from eight or nine bags to the acre to fifteen or sixteen. But we have a tremendous problem in handling our wheat crop. If we have a yield of any size we have perhaps SO, 60, 100 and sometimes 200 trucks waiting at the silo. This is a terrific economic waste from a national point of view. To lay railway lines and to construct locomotives, rolling stock and the large dumps, silos and bulkheads necessary to handle a wheat crop is very costly. I think the practical solution to the problem would be to encourage the wheat-grower to store his own wheat, as is done in ether countries. It would be a profitable investment for this nation if the wheat-grower were given a concession in the form of a total tax deduction of the cost of constructing wheat storage facilities on his property. In the long run the nation would benefit, because this ever-increasingly important export commodity would be handled more economically on the grower’s property than in the vast railside dumps.
We have been told that the Asians will not eat anything but rice, but over the past few years we have learned that they will eat wheat and meat. A tremendous market is opening in Japan for best quality cheese, but we cannot even meet our local demand for this commodity. There is a wonderful opportunity to develop dairying on a really sound basis along the creeks in some of cur inland areas. There will be a tremendous opportunity, when the break-through comes with a legume suitable for growing on the north coast, to develop the dairying industry there. Asia desperately wan:s protein. She wants milk and meat. These are the products that will enable us to trade with Asian countries and to make friends with the people of those countries. These are the products that will enable us to make this country great in the minimum time, and which will give us a completely developed economy.
What I am suggesting is not something that is impossible. It ‘is something that has been proved to be practicable. But it requires courage and enterprise. Think back to the times when our forefathers, the pioneers, came across the ocean in sailing ships bringing their flocks and herds with them. They had the pioneering spirit. They did not listen to the conservative financiers who said, “It is too risky, you cannot do it.” They did not listen to the economists. They went out and did something worth while. Sometimes I think that the economists may constitute one of our greatest curses. You can get half a dozen economists together and you will never find two of them agreeing. It is the practical man, the man of enterprise, the pioneer, who has made this country, and it is the practical man, the man of courage, the man with the pioneering spirit, who is going to build this country and make it strong enough to take its place in this part of the world and remain secure.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Pettitt) on his maiden speech. We on this side of the House particularly appreciated his kind remarks about the former member for Hume, Mr. Arthur Fuller, who, I have no doubt, will bc back here in due course. I noted the keen spirit of social enterprise that the honorable member evidently wishes to be brought to this House. I wonder how long it will be before that keen spirit will be broken as he sees the Liberal Party’s domination of this place, with the conservative financial interests that he spoke of running the whole outfit, to the detriment of the nation and of the Country Party in particular. But while the honorable gentleman is here, and while he brings these sentiments with him, he will find that we on this side support the spirit of social enterprise that he has been applauding, and he will find, to his ultimate despair, no doubt, exactly what the Liberal Party stands for, if, indeed, it stands for anything.
As I listened yesterday to His Excellency’s Speech to the nation, planning the new era, I thought that there were three issues that I would want to raise when I rose to speak in this debate. The three matters are, first, education, secondly defence, and thirdly the aboriginal question. If one studies His Excellency’s Speech one can see a complete lack of spirit, enterprise and reliability on the part of honorable members opposite in regard to these three matters. In the field of education we find broken promises, in the field of defence we find complacent self-delusion, and on the question of the aborigines we find that these people have been completely ignored.
Let me examine, first, the matter of education. Education is this country’s largest enterprise. There are some 2,000,000 children in the schools. We have some 8,000 schools in all, perhaps more. We have 80,000 teachers and we spend £200,000,000 to £250,000,000 a year on education. The very future of the nation depends on our efforts in the field of education. Now let me take a document which gives a statement issued by the Liberal Party and the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) during the last election campaign. It is interesting to note that very few of these documents are still available. Evidently the Prime Minister does not want the broken promises to be too widely publicized. This is what he said when opening his campaign on 30th November. It may be worthwhile reading some of his remarks -
First, there are many good pupils in secondary schools who would benefit if they were helped to have the final two school years which they might otherwise miss, through family circumstances. Those two years will make them much better equipped, whatever they do thereafter. There arc many undergoing technical training. Any scheme which assists a student to carry through a course of technical study for an additional two years would have great national value in these times.
We propose to create special Commonwealth Scholarships, to be awarded competitively, at standards to be worked out with the States.
The question I want to ask, and which many thousands of people in this country are asking, is “ When?”. This is a statement issued by the Minister speaking on the Prime Minister’s behalf - no, I am wrong, I see that it was a speech delivered by the Prime Minister himself, the Right Honorable Sir Robert Menzies, K.T., C.H., Q.C., M.P. I do not know which of those sets of letters means “ broken promises “. In a press statement issued by the Prime Minister, numbered P.M. No. 2/1964, we find the following: -
It is not practicable, having regard to the fact that examinations for scholarships cannot be usefully organized when the school year is about to begin, to make the scholarship scheme effective until the 1965 year.
What utter rubbish! What an admission of incompetence and insufficiency! What is wrong with him and his team? He is increasing the size of his Ministry, and I say that most of the problems that he refers to could be resolved by a person spending a couple of hours with a telephone.
– That is utter rubbish, and you know it.
– If it is utter rubbish you will no doubt be competent to examine it. But what is the position, Mr. Speaker? Incidentally, I am pleased to see that you have returned to the chamber to hear these remarks. Last year in government schools in Australia there were some 19,000 pupils in the fifth year of their secondary schooling. That is the final year in most States, although in Victoria the final year is the sixth year. There were 14,000 in non-government schools, giving a total of 33,000 pupils in all. In the penultimate year there were about 37,000 in government schools and 21,000 in non-government schools, making a total of 58,000. There were last year, in round figures, 90,000 pupils in the last two years of secondary schooling. It is proposed to give 10,000 scholarships a year. Is there such a lack of system that the authorities cannot allocate one scholarship for every nine pupils?
What does the scholarship system involve? Let us have a look at the system in operation in Victoria. Perhaps it would be as well for the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) to take a look at the situation in that State. At the secondary school level a number of scholarships are given in the second year. This is how the system operates: The Government allots a certain number each year, and these are then allocated to the various schools according to the number of pupils in those schools. Let us assume there are 200 students in the second year in a school and that you have a dozen scholarships. I do not know what the proportion of scholarships to students is at the moment, but we will assume there are a dozen scholarships available. The school selects the dozen pupils to be given the scholarships. The selection is based on the end-of-year results, which are related to the year’s work. The headmaster of the school, in conjunction with the school advisory council, decides on the dozen who qualify for the scholarships, and they are awarded accordingly.
This system has been working successfully for years in Victoria. Would it be so difficult to introduce it at the top of the secondary school level? I know the Victorian system better than the systems in other States. In New South Wales there are external examinations at this level and in various other States the position is much the same. In Victoria there are internal examinations in many schools for the Leaving Certificate, lt would not matter much whether the examinations .were internal or external. I will consider the fifth year in Victoria, which in that State is the penultimate year but in other States is the last year. Suppose you wanted to select a number of pupils for scholarships in Victoria. There are 10,000 scholarships to be given, and no doubt they would be granted on a pro rata basis according to population. So we can presume that there would be more than 3,000 for Victoria. I have some figures here, and incidentally I would like to comment on the complete inadequacy of statistical information about education in this country. Some of these figures are not up to date. Some of the totals are not completely accurate, but that is the fault of the system, not of the Statistician here or anywhere else.”’ Last year there were in the fifth year in Victoria 9,000 pupils in government schools and 6,000 in non-government schools, making 15,000 in all. If there are 3,000 scholarships available it means that one pupil in five will get a scholarship. If there are 100 pupils in a school at the Leaving standard or whatever level you have chosen, then twenty of them will get scholarships.
In Victoria the internal examination system is working quite satisfactorily. It has worked quite well for the Leaving Certificate standard < and for the Intermediate Certificate which has now been abolished. These certificates have been granted on the internal examination system in A class schools. These have shown that in the final result, when they proceed to matriculation standard at the university, this selection system is as good as any other system. I understand that in New South Wales an external examination system is used. This may make it even easier because the whole area of examination is under centralized control. I have no doubt that by about the middle of January somebody with a computer and possessing the necessary skills and administrative know-how could have allotted 3,000 or 4,000 of the scholarships, if the Government had meant business. But it never did mean business. When the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) went to the polls, backed by his colleagues, apparently he did not mean business. He was misleading the people of Australia.
– What about the results?
– The results - they are for you and the people of Australia to examine, guided by your conscience. I am referring to part of your own policy. The honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp), who I think is interjecting, has proved his great skills in private enterprise, but as soon as he steps into public enterprise he backs up promises which are broken through economic insufficiency and everything else.
The scholarship system as envisaged by the Labour Party included every kind of student and the Labour Party-
– Which Labour Party?
– The honorable member can make his speech directly. I have no doubt he will offer an explanation on the points I have raised. The fact is that the system I have been outlining exists in Victoria. It goes on in the schools in the honorable member’s electorate and it would be a jolly good idea for him to go along sometimes and have a look at them. The system is applicable to government and non-government schools all over Australia. It is much the same everywhere. The Government stands condemned by its announcement about scholarships. It has broken its promise. It was a question which easily could have been resolved administratively. Had the Government meant business it would have carried out its promise. On behalf of the people of this country who are concerned with education I lodge my protest here. However, it is only what one would expect from a government such as this Government.
I turn now to another point about the scholarship system announced in the Governor-General’s Speech. I refer to its competitive nature and I draw the attention of honorable members to the Ramsay report on tertiary education. Although the report is on tertiary education, the principle it expresses applies also to secondary schools. At page 17 of the report it is stated -
The competitive system envisaged in the scholarship system announced by the Government is becoming foreign to educational thinking throughout the whole world. In Australia it is being rapidly abandoned. The education system is not a field for competition. On the figures of the last few years one in every nine students at the top of secondary schools is awarded a scholarship. This is against modern educational thinking. Fostering a competitive spirit is not the way in which to develop education. In the end it will produce a rat-race of competitive examinations through which a lot of the spirit of education at the top of the secondary system will be broken in government and non-government schools. The whole tendency will be to bend one’s efforts towards the scholarship system. As well, there is involved the fact that the competitive system will not pick up those people who really need assistance.
Looking again at the figures, I note that there were something like 56,000 students in government schools and 35,000 in nongovernment schools. Generally speaking, the students in the non-government schools come from the more economically privileged group in the community. You have a higher proportion in the non-government schools than in the government schools if you relate it to the earlier school level. In the general level of Australian education, about one in every four students is in nongovernment schools. But at the top of the secondary schools it is two in every five.
I presume that the scholarship system will be based on the scholarship system for universities. There will be a pro rata system. More scholarships will go to the nongovernment schools and thus to the more economically privileged group, generally speaking, in the community, than will go to government schools. We must bend our greatest efforts toward creating a system whereby the retention capacity of the State schools is raised.
– Are you against scholarships for non-government schools?
– -Mr. Speaker, I can explain, but I cannot give the honorable member the wit or the patience to understand. I have explained exactly where I stand. The honorable member can look up the policy of the Labour Party. The pamphlet does not cost much. I have no doubt that it will be made available free of charge to the honorable member. The Labour Party’s policy on scholarships is that they should be available to students in all schools. I have no doubt that the honorable member who has been interjecting is not the dullest person opposite, but perhaps 1 should explain my point again. This is the system that has prevailed in most States, whether administered by Labour or non-Labour governments. Scholarships have gone usually to government and non-government schools alike. As a nation we must face our duty to raise the retention capacity of secondary schools, particularly secondary schools under State governments because there is to be found the greatest wastage.
I represent an industrial area of Melbourne. In the past, I have quoted here figures to demonstrate the tremendous wastage of people who should be continuing to leaving or matriculation standard. This wastage will not be overcome by the competitive scholarship system which has been announced. They will go in higher proportion to non-government schools, generally speaking, because in those schools are the higher proportion of students at the top of the secondary level of education. It is a social fact, it is a statistical fact. 1 believe that if the scholarship system is to mean anything educationally the competitive element has to be removed and people who qualify for scholarships at a certain level should receive this kind of bursary, endowment, scholarship- call it what you like - so long as it overcomes the economic difficulties of retaining them at school when (hey become fifteen, sixteen and seventeen years of age. That is the major point of com plaint about the educational announcement made yesterday by the Government.
Another thing that we must face is the complete inadequacy of the university system. Despite the expenditure of many millions of Commonwealth money, the inadequacy continues, and increasingly so. I again refer honorable members opposite to the Ramsay report on tertiary education in Victoria. It covers all the points I have raised. There are innumerable statistics and recommendations, but the fact is that most predictions in relation to university enrolments in future years have understated the case. There will be a great jam in universities so that quotas must be applied all over the country. The cost of maintaining students at a university is high. I think that the average university student would cost his parents about £10 a week. The fees at Monash University in Victoria, for instance, are about £3 a week. To maintain a student costs £4 or £5 a week. Add a few pounds here and there and the annual cost of maintaining a university student is about £500. Countless thousands of Australian people cannot possibly face that burden. In many families the older child could easily be in the fourth year at a university when the second child is embarking upon the first year. To keep your children at school without adequate scholarship support would cost about £1,000 a year and not too many families can afford that outlay. The solution lies with the Government. Let it raise the level of Commonwealth scholarship assistance.
There are other matters in the field of education to which I wish to refer. There is mention of the sum of £5,000,000 annually to be paid to the States for education. The State Ministers for Education, in a report of last October, gave some figures which I will read. They estimate that for primary and secondary education an additional £15,000,000 a year is required for running costs, plus an overall capital expenditure in the next four years of £218,000.000. For teacher training an additional £3,700,000 a year is required for running costs, plus a total capital expenditure of £10,00,000 over the next four years. An additional £2,000,000 a year is required in the field of technical education for running costs, plus an overall increased capital expenditure of £30,000,000 over the next four years. Millions of pounds must be found. The capacity of State governments - Labour and non-Labour - to expand their educational systems is exhausted. They have to run as hard as they can to stay in the same place, as it were. It is only from this Parliament, this Government and the national resources that we can find assistance for the education system. This takes no account of the general quality of education or the general direction of higher education and all the other things to which we should be applying ourselves. Like many others, I was disappointed that the Prime Minister did not find education important enough to establish a Commonwealth Ministry of Education, which would have been in accordance with Labour policy. The only way in which education will be coordinated and the only way in which new fields and research will be developed is through a Commonwealth Minister directly responsible taking up the task. It is a disappointment to find that, in the expansion of the Ministry, a ministry of education was not considered to be at least as important as ministries responsible for works, housing or things such as those. Education is one of the largest fields of public enterprise and social endeavour in our community, and the Commonwealth is the authority which should take it up.
In the field of defence, I want to support the remarks of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray). The reference to defence in His Excellency’s Speech was I think, a piece of wishful thinking, but the question was raised. The Speech said that the Citizen Military Forces are being expanded. They are not being expanded. There were 80,000 volunteers or thereabouts in the C M.F. in Australia back in 1938 and 1939 when our population was some 7,000,000. At the moment I think the number is about 28,000. If anything has been happening to the C.M.F. in the last few years, it is not that its strength has been increasing. Its role, significance and strength have been diminishing. The staffs behind it have been diminishing and the number of units has, of course, been reduced catastrophically. Its whole basis has been changed and it seems to be in a completely deplorable condition as regards man-power.
I do not subscribe to the belief that this country is not capable of defending itself. I believe it has the industrial background, the man-power and the knowhow to be quite capable of mobilizing itself to a stage where it would be a very unprofitable endeavour for anyone to attack us. One of the unfortunate pre.delictions of this Government is that it seems to regard other countries as having a duty to defend this nation. So, in every field of defence to which one turns there are inadequacies and bad thinking. The whole question of army organization at the moment is under attack by people who have applied themselves to the question. Australia’s difficulties and needs in the field of defence are unique. There is no other country quite the same, with 3,000,000 square miles of mainland and hundreds of thousands of square miles of islands, territories and so on to defend, with meagre man-power. We have open spaces and great industrial capacity, and it seems to me that the procedures and organization worked out overseas, in Britain and in the United States of America, just cannot measure up to the needs of this country. If we look at the question of organization, we find we have been lagging. If we turn to the question of equipment, we find that we must go shopping.
What is wrong with Australian designers? If we go to “Janes’ All the World’s Aircraft “, we find that Sweden has been able to produce a fighter which would almost measure up to Australian needs. I am not suggesting that we should go to Sweden to buy aircraft, but I want to know how Sweden, with a population of 7,000,000 or thereabouts, can produce this kind of thing while this country, with a population of 11,000,000, cannot. The same applies to our shipbuilding. During the parliamentary recess several of my colleagues and I visited the naval dockyards and looked at “ Derwent “, which seems to me to be a very commendable piece of ship-building. Why is it that we were not able to build the Charles F. Adams class destroyers, or submarines? Why is it that the shipyards of Australia can be silent while the shipyards of America or Britain are clanging with hammers building ships for the Royal Australian Navy? It is not only a question of shipbuilding. If we take all the designing and scientific and technical development overseas we frustrate the whole background of our defence development. This takes away some of the intellectual stimulus which Australian construction could give.
There is one last point which I would like to bring to the notice of the House. Late last year there was an inquiry by a select committee of this House into the condition of people at Yirrkala in the Northern Territory. I hope those honorable members opposite who were with me on that committee will remember that it was a recommendation of the committee, adopted by this House, that a standing committee be appointed to keep an eye on this system. I was disappointed to find there was no mention of this in His Excellency’s Speech yesterday.
I was disappointed also to find that the Government is taking no steps to hold a referendum on constitutional change. Honorable members will have been interested in the report from the Northern Territory that the Director of Welfare there produced a bill before the Legislative Council to remove all discriminatory provisions from the legislation of the Northern Territory. This was a good step and a statesmanlike move. I am disappointed to hear that the Legislative Council appears to be referring the bill to a select committee, apparently in an attempt to delay the procedure. But even if the Northern Territory does make this kind of progress, the aboriginal people of Australia will retain a sense of frustration and inequality until, under the Constitution, they are given the same rights as everybody else. While the legal system remains as it is in Queensland and other States, it will produce social discrimination, deficiencies and frustration for the aboriginal people which ought not to bc tolerated for a day longer. 1 hope that before this Parliament has gone very far we will have taken steps to hold a referendum so that the people of Australia can change the Constitution in order to give responsibility for this problem to the Commonwealth Government, which is the only government by which it can be adequately handled.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- 1 am sorry that I cannot congratulate the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) on a maiden speech. We have heard him speak many times at some length and now we have heard him again. He devoted himself very largely to the question of education. I suppose that, as a former school teacher, that would be natura], but this question is, of course, of great importance to people other than school teachers. However, we shall in due course have in the House a bill dealing with this matter, and what I have to say about it can wait until that time. I would only remark now that the honorable member expressed some doubt as to whether it is a good thing that there is not to be a separate Minister for Education. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has decided to keep this matter within his own hands, and it is generally supposed in Australia - and particularly in this House - that the Prime Minister has considerable influence in the Government. This being so, I imagine that most people interested in education would be rather glad that they have an influential patron in the Government. I do not think that many people interested in this field will have the same regrets as the honorable member.
The honorable member went on to say a few words about defence. 1 could scarcely believe my ears when he suggested that Australia did not need any other country to assist it, but could defend itself. As he went on, I gathered that he meant that we could manufacture all we needed in the way of ships, weapons and so forth. Fortunately, the Government takes the view when dealing with defence that it is important to have the ships, aircraft, equipment and weapons that you need promptly. The activities of the Department of Supply and the manufacture of equipment for the armed forces are not to be regarded as matters of unemployment relief or of giving employment, or as having anything to do with the domestic economy. This is, above all, a matter of having the things you need when you need them. This may require you to go abroad to get them. I hope that as long as this Government remains in office it will say that defence is to stand on its own feet and is not to be the handmaiden of the requirements of employment or of the economy. However, I did not rise to address myself particularly to the matters which the honorable member raised.
We are debating the Governor-General’s Speech, which, as we all know, enunciates the legislative programme of the Government. We are concerned with what is good in that programme, with what is bad - I say that, even as a member of one of the Government parties - and with what we may consider to be the omissions from the programme or the items that could have been emphasized more. Indeed, at this point of time we look to the years ahead and ask, “ Are the proposals of the Government the proposals that Australia needs most and are they adequately catered for in the Government’s programme? “ We are considering that question here to-night.
The winds of change have blown rather boisterously around the world since the beginning of World War II. There is not a continent that has not been altered and not a familiar feature of the landscape that has not been eroded or changed by these winds, whether in Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, Central America, South America or our own part of the world, the south-west Pacific. The winds of change blew strongly also on the domestic scene in this country and two years ago almost capsized the Menzies-McEwen Government. I emphasize the “ McEwen “ in the Government because this is most vital. At the general election two years ago the Government was returned with a majority of one. The Prime Minister, with great perspicacity, observed the nature of the weather and the direction from which the winds were blowing. He trimmed his sails to the winds and brought his ship to haven within the last few months. But it is, of course, in the nature of ships that they must put to sea again and it is in the nature of the high sens that the winds are still blowing.
The point I am trying to make is that the Prime Minister, having observed the winds, having observed that the people were concerned about the insecurity of the country and about events to our north and in the world at large, having observed that the people wanted internal growth in the economy, having observed that the young people were not able to obtain the housing they needed and having observed that education was a great burden on people with young families, trimmed his sails and brought to haven the ship that must now put to sea again. We must not lose this new capacity for re-thinking. Two years ago, we were in a state of immobilism. The Government showed little capacity to change. The chant was, “ as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end “. But this situation did end two years ago when the Prime Minister observed that the winds were blowing. I believe that unless this attitude of mind prevails henceforth we shall fail the nation.
When the nation saw that the Prime Minister accepted the need for change, it embraced him, as it were, with open arms. I mention this not for the sake of speaking about past history but merely to emphasize that we must move on and still have open minds and minds that are receptive to radical changes in our thinking. I recall the words written by a poet 150 years ago at the dawn of a new era. We stand now at the dawn of a new era. He wrote -
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very Heaven!
A lot of young Ministers are in Heaven now. 1 am not a candidate for Heaven, but I can still rejoice at the new breeze that is blowing through the corridors and I can still, I hope, think radically.
I want to turn my mind to one or two matters that I believe are very important. I turn my mind to external affairs and defence. Hitherto, the attitude has been that these are rather esoteric studies and not for thecommon or garden member of Parliament. The Government does not take us much into its confidence on matters of external affairs and defence. These are arcana and are to be hidden in the breast of the Minister and his departmental officers. They are not for the common people or the Parliament. There is a tendency to think that diplomacy is a substitute for armed strength. It is not merely the handmaiden of armed strength, but something quite separate. We cannot make a treaty and leave it to our allies to defend us. It is wrong to believe that we do not need to do anything about defending ourselves. These are two fallacies in our thinking. Embracing the opportunity for some radical new thought, I ask the Government to consider that external affairs and defence are matters with which this Parliament and people are greatly concerned. We look to the winds of change blowing through the corridors of the Department of External Affairs and the Department of Defence.
I turn now to defence. What commitments have we to face? Of course, there is always the possibility of world war, of a central war. We may think that this is somewhat remote. We have an obligation to the United Nations. Some may say that this is not very important, but let us examine the obligation. There is a dispute in Cyprus, and the United Nations is looking to countries like Canada, Scandinavia, Ireland and, curiously enough, Australia for the kind of force that would be acceptable - that is, a force that would not be partisan. But Australia cannot do anything about Cyprus. We have not forces enough to police our own requirements. I mention that in passing not only because of our obligation in a central war but also because a little gesture such as this in the United Nations would make a big difference to little countries whose vote would be important to us in certain eventualities.
We have our obligation to the SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization, stretching from Pakistan to the Philippines and Thailand. We have our obligations under the Anzus pact with the Americans, which might run, say, to Viet Nam. We have our more precise obligation to Malaysia, including North Borneo. We have obligations closer to home in New Guinea. A front has been opened in North Borneo and it may be that in certain eventualities, Indonesia would open a front in East New Guinea. Finally, of course, we have an obligation for the defence of our homeland.
How are all these obligations to be met? Our Department of External Affairs very properly enters into treaties, but they all require armed force to sustain them. This seems to have been forgotten. What kind of force is needed? Of course, it must be properly organized. J do not intend to enter into a discussion of pentropic divisions. It must be properly trained, and I assume that would be done. lt must be equipped for its role. I do not enter into a consideration of questions of transport, because it is clear that it must be mobile. I want to deal with two matters. These are tha’, it must be numerically strong - strong enough for our purpose - and it must be immediately available. I do not intend to discuss technical matters, but I want to discuss numerical strength and immediate availability.
I have not the time to go into the arithmetic of all this, but quite competent people outside the Government, who are therefore able to speak, have come to the conclusion that, for example, the numbers in the Army - I am speaking about the full-time Army - ought to be doubled. I am not going into the arithmetic of all this, but there are straws in the wind that we all understand. A reply was given by the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) in the House in the last day or two. He admitted that recruitment for the Regular Army was not as good as he had hoped it would be. Those of us who have been in the Citizen Military Forces or who know anybody in them are aware that they are grossly under strength. We are concerned that a number of officers are seeking to retire from the Army. We know that there is seething discontent over the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act.
All this means that people are unwilling to join the armed services. Again, I have not the time to go into the question of what we should do about the defence forces retirement benefits or the terms and conditions of service, except to say that clearly something is gravely amiss and a committee of inquiry would appear to be necessary to find out what is amiss and how to make the services more attractive if we want to maintain them at full strength. In terms and conditions, they have to compete with private enterprise, except that the men and women who go into the services do so with a sense of dedication.
From these indications and from the conclusions reached by those who have been thinking about this matter, it would seem that we have to increase the strength of our armed forces very considerably. So what are we to do about it? I spoke earlier about the winds of change, and I say again that we cannot go along in the future as we have gone along in the past. We must have selective national service training. There is no other means of filling the ranks of the armed forces. However, this is a horrible thought! It is political dynamite. It is a frightful thing! But the winds of change are blowing strongly and we have to adapt our minds to them. Selective national service training, of course, would mean two years’ training for those who are selected for service. Those chosen would have to be selected on an equitable basis. There is no need or time now to discuss just how this would be done.
Those who were called up would have to be available not only for two years’ training but also to serve wherever they were required. No longer can we afford the luxury of saying that members of our forces should go overseas only if they choose to do so. The Russians have this form of service that I suggest. The Chinese have it. The Americans have it. The Indonesians have it. The New Zealanders have it. What happy breed of men are we in Australia that we can afford not to have what all our potential enemies and all our great friends require? Clearly, we are not such a happy breed. We are not immune from requirements that others see to be necessary.
This may be political dynamite. People do not want it. We have lived for years like this. It was jolly good of us to send a contingent to the Sudan and awfully nice of us to send some troops to Southhampton! Nobly, we came to the aid of the mother country in World War I., and we sent forces to the Middle East during World War II. That was jolly good of us! But it is not just a matter of this being a jolly good thing to do. We have now to stand on our own feet. Our European friends have departed from the north. The British, it is true, are still in Malaya for the time being. The French left the Far East after Dienbienphu. The Dutch, also, have left. We have no European friends to the north except for the Americans, who, fortunately, are still interested in this part of the world.
When the United States Secretary for Defence goes before a congressional committee and asks for the resources, the money to provide the means to carry out what are conceived to be American obligations in the Western Pacific, congressmen say, “ Americans are being conscripted to fight in Viet Nam. American ships and planes are involved. What are our allies doing? Are we Atlas that we should carry the burdens of the whole world? What are the Australians doing?” Unless some better answer than has been given in the past can now be given, the American Congress may become rather tired of the United States carrying the whole burden alone. I have a feeling that our thinking in the past has taken the line that because we cannot defend ourselves by our own unaided efforts, and because we need allies, we can say, “Let us depend entirely on our allies and do nothing ourselves “. That is not good enough in view of what happens in the United States Congress. If any one doubts this, I can assure him that it is true.
The Australian people may not be willing to accept selective national service training, Sir. But this is a matter for leadership. Australia is not run by gallup poll. You do not lead your regiment from behind. You have to lead from in front. If the view of the Australian people at this moment is opposed to this kind of national service training, that view has to be altered. How can it be altered except by leadership? We have Sir Robert Menzies standing at the apex of power at this time, at the pinnacle of his popularity. I say that the obligation rests squarely on the leader of the Government - on the Prime Minister. Winning elections is not enough. Being somewhat older than the young Ministers who have just stepped up to the front bench, I recall very well the days of Stanley Baldwin. We all thought he was a great man. We all supported him. Now, his name is never mentioned. He was a con.sumate political tactician and he won election after election. But he did not prepare his country for the calamity that befell in 1939, and his name is now forgotten. It is never mentioned. Here, then, is a task for leadership. I have no doubt that we shall not survive unless, on this matter, we take a view radically different from that which we have taken in the past.
I had hoped to say something about the economy and about the Parliament. But I have only six minutes left and I shall reserve those matters for another time. In conclusion, I should like to say a few words about the second last paragraph of the Governor-General’s speech, which relates to the redistribution of electoral boundaries. I have no objection to the proposal that where a State’s population leaves a remainder after being divided by the electoral quota, the fraction of a quota remaining should have representation by a member in this House. To me, it is absurd that, under the present Commonwealth Electoral Act, a State may have its representation reduced although its population is increasing. As to the rest of the proposal, Sir, in the words of Falstaff, “ I’ll none of it “.
I have compared carefully what has been said in the Governor-General’s speech, where the proposal in outlined, and what is laid down in the act. For the benefit andconvenience of those who read “ Hansard “, may I quote the provisions in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1962. Section 18 states -
For the purposes of this Act the Chief Electoral Officer shall, whenever necessary, ascertain a quota for each State as follows: -
The whole number of electors in each State, as nearly as can be ascertained, shall be divided by the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen for the State.
Section 19 provides -
In making any proposed distribution of a State into Divisions the Distribution Commissioners shall give due consideration to -
Community or diversity of interest,
Means of communication,
Existing boundaries of Divisions and Subdivisions,
State Electoral boundaries; and subject thereto the quota of electors shall be the basis for the distribution, and the Distribution Commissioners may adopt a margin of allowance, to be used whenever necessary, but in no case shall the quota be departed from to a greater extent than one-fifth more or one-fifth less.
One-fifth less is equivalent to a margin of 20 per cent. The relevant paragraph in the Governor-General’s Speech reads -
Regarding the Electoral Act, my Government will introduce amending legislation to make it clear that, in making any proposed distribution of a State into divisions for electoral purposes, the Distribution Commissioners shall take into account community of economic, social and regional interests, difficulties of communication, remoteness or distance, the trend of population changes, physical features, and the relevant areas of proposed divisions. No fixed quota differential is proposed.
– You noticed that, too, did you?
– I have noticed that anybody who reads the two together will see the significant differences. All this means is that there will be a differential. It means that the Distribution Commissioners will take into account a number of factors other than those taken into account in the past, and the differential of 20 per cent. will be used to give greater representation to rural areas. This is a gerrymander through the back door. It is nothing less. I cannot block this. I shall speak against it in the party room, I shall speak against it in this House and I shall vote against it in this House, because I believe it is nothing but a blatant gerrymander. Honorable gentlemen in the corner to my right may smile. I cannot stop this, it is true. But I can speak very clearly and very bluntly in this place and elsewhere. Most people understand what I say when I speak. I shall make it clear that this is nothing but a blatant gerrymander, and there will be no mistake about it by the time this matter comes to a vote in this House.
.- Mr. Speaker, first, I should like to congratulate you on your re-election as Speaker. This is a tribute to you by the parties onthe side of the House to which you belong. Also, the absence of opposition to your re-election from honorable members on this side of the House is a tribute to your fairmindedness and courtesy not only during the last session of the previous Parliament but also over many years.
Secondly, I congratulate the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) on his political courage in saying to-night quite a number of things that ought to be said in this. House - things that, were they said by honorable members on this side, would be blazoned across the newspapers of this country as indicating another split in the Australian Labour Party. The honorable member for Bradfield has had the courage to say some of the things that we on this side of the House have been saying for quite some time. The honorable member compared his present leader with Stanley Baldwin - one of the forgotten men of British politics. The honorable member pointed out quite truthfully and in a very reasoned and fair-minded way that Stanley Baldwin, although regarded by his followers in his day as a great political leader who had the capacity to win election after election on the issues that he was able to raise from time to time, now is one of the forgotten men in the political history of Great Britain because he failed his country in that he failed to prepare it for the crisis of the Second World War. I do not think the honorable member’s criticism is inapt. He pointed out that defence meant having the things that you need when and where you need them. Surely that is an indictment of this Government. If ever a country did not have the things it needed when and where it needed them, surely Australia is that country.
I did not hear the speech of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) but I understand that he referred to the exercise of Centurion tanks in Queensland. The truth is that Australia’s armed forces are well situated to defend Sydney and Melbourne, but very little training is carried out in the northern part of Australia and very little of our defence equipment is located there. This situation is an indictment of the Government. If we judge the defence policy of this Government on the criteria put forth by the honorable member for Bradfield - that defence means having the things you need when and where you need them - we must come to the conclusion that the Government has failed the people of Australia.
The honorable member stated that national service training should be re-introduced. That was his view, not mine. National service training in Australia meant only a few months in the services. Even the leaders of the armed services do not want to see that type of national service training again. It is not economically sound and it is not the kind of defence that we need. The only solution to the problem of staffing our defence forces is to make service in the forces more attractive and to provide members of our armed forces with a future when they retire. When I say that, I do not for a moment criticize their abilities. So often we see men enroll for a period of service in the forces and when they leave the forces they are fitted only for labouring work. The armed forces should bc able to encourage within their ranks some form of educational system which will enable members of the forces not only to have a rewarding living in the forces but also to acquire such skills and training as may fit them for civilian employment. If greater attention were paid to that aspect of service in the armed forces I am sure that we would have a better staffed Army, Navy and Air Force.
The honorable member for Bradfield finally referred to the gerrymandering of redistribution. Being a member of the Government parties he may have inside information on this subject. We on this side of the chamber as yet have no such information. We await the Government’s proposals with some interest. In the past it has never been possible to gerrymander a federal electorate and it will be something held against this Government for all time if its legislation is not fair and in the best interests of the people of Australia in all parts of Australia.
– One vote, one value.
– That is true. That is a sound principle to which we on this side of the House adhere. Unfortunately Liberal governments and Liberal-Country Party governments have become noted, in South Australia and more recently to my regret in my home State of Queensland, for gerrymandered boundaries. I hope I do not see in this Parliament this Government bring down legislation which will produce a gerrymander in the federal sphere.
I wish to turn now to some of the matters raised in the Governor-General’s Speech. I should like to associate the electors of Brisbane with the sentiments of loyalty expressed in the Speech and to place on record their regret th.it the Queen Mother is not able to visit us at this time. Many of the. matters touched on in the Speech afford some degree of pleasure to honorable members on this side of the House. Many of the proposals to which the Government intends to give effect have been taken from Labour’s policy. Prior to the last election the Government parties had the advantage of knowing Labour’s policy a week before they delivered their policy speech. The election results are past history. The Labour party is not complaining. We will live to fight again. The fight continues. In Queenland the party to which I have the honour to belong polled very well. True, it did not poll as well as at the high tide of 1961., when public resentment of the economic polices and ineptitude of the Government reached a level unprecedented in Queensland for many years. Nevertheless, on 30th November last, Labour candidates in Queensland polled extremely well. Although the Labour Party does not have the satisfaction of governing, at least it has the satisfaction of knowing that the policies that is has advocated in and out of office over the years are being implemented to some extent by our political opponents, who have been forced to accept enlightened policies as a means of winning votes. This has been the pattern of non-Labour and Labour governments in Australia over at least the last half century.
I should like to commend the Government’s statement on foreign affairs in the Governor-General’s Speech. Australia is fortunate to have a Minister for External Affairs who, regardless of the misrepresentation and dishonesty presented by the newspapers and pressure groups in this country, retains a great deal of balance on the question of our relations with Indonesia, We in Australia must have a great deal of patience. A few weeks ago I attended in Canberra a political science congress which debated Australia’s defence and foreign policy. A great many honorable members . from both sides of the House were present at that conference. There was a good deal of sabre rattling at the conference by certain people, some of whom advocated that we should immediately attack Indonesia. One retired naval officer advocated a blockade of Java as a means of starting a conflict with Indonesia. We are fortunate in having a Minister for External Affairs who realizes the need for patience, tolerance and understanding.
Nobody can say that there are not some dangers associated with an unstable foreign government but we should do all in our power to express our friendship to Indonesia. I subscribe to the views expressed elsewhere recently that Australia should endeavour to help in the food crisis which now exists in Indonesia so that we may impress upon the Indonesian people that although we are alert and prepared to take a stand on the principles of democracy to which we adhere and although we will defend our territorial integrity and that of New Guinea, we nevertheless extend friendship to Indonesia.
I should like to say a few words about employment. The Government is busy congratulating itself on the improved employment position. Honorable members on both sides of the House are pleased to note that the situation has greatly improved. But while it is congratulating itself I hope the Government does not overlook the fact that although the immediate problems of the credit squeeze have been overcome the long-term problems created by the introduction of automation into this country have not as yet been solved. We are all aware that the greatest employment problem concerns men in the 40 to 50 years age group, many of whom may have been process workers or factory workers and who have been displaced by automation. The only work available to them now is labouring work. We are well aware that automation - the increasing use of earth-moving machinery and the like - has reduced the call for labourers. It falls to us in this Parliament to look into this matter and to endeavour to provide some form of re-education under which many of these people, who may be still in their early 40’s, may be trained not as dilutees but in a trade or calling which will fit them for more gainful and more permanent employment. That is one of the great tasks that face us in Australia. Despite the pleasure that we all feel about the improved employment position, we should not say that the present position is good. As yet, it is not something about which we should be delighted. We can be pleased only about the improvement. Until these long-term questions, as well as the more immediate questions which were considered after the 1961 federal election, are considered, this employment problem will remain.
The Government is increasing British immigration. That is something which all people of British origin will welcome. I suggest that the Government give some attention to getting more of these people to go to the northern part of Australia. Many of the migrants to whom I have spoken have told me that interviewing officers of the Department of Immigration, sometimes on the vessels bringing them to Australia but more often overseas, have suggested to them that they would be better off if they settled in the colder parts of the Australian continent. That would be the reaction of people who have never been to the north of Australia. Life there is quite pleasant and quite healthy, as any one who likes to read the centenary history of Queensland, “ Triumph in the Tropics “, and the record of the settlement of the State will agree.
For example, the development of the sugar industry in Queensland is a tribute to the ability of the white man to work in the tropics. I suggest to the Government that in its immigration plans it should not only concentrate on bringing an increased number of people to Australia but also make every endeavour to get an increased number of people into the north of Australia. In more recent years the employment problem in Queensland has been used as an argument to discourage people from going to the north of Australia. Although that problem existed - at this time of the year it still exists to some degree - the long-term issue of whether it is possible for a white person to live in a state of good health and comfort in the north of Australia should never be in doubt. The immigration programme should cover not only bringing people to Australia but bringing people to the north of Australia as well as the southern parts of the continent.
It is true that the north of Australia suffers because a great number of the shipping services terminate at Sydney or Melbourne. That is all the more reason why our very capable immigration officers should encourage people to migrate to the north of Australia. I am pleased to see that the Governor-General’s Speech mentions that a northern division has been established in the Department of National Development. Perhaps that is a step towards the promise in the policy speech of the Labour Party for a separate department of northern development. Nevertheless, this is an occasion on which the Government has borrowed our policy to the advantage of the people of northern Australia. I hope that the results are as good as the phrase used in the Speech sounds.
We are also informed that the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act will be amended in the present session and that under the present act the Commonwealth will have paid £250,000,000 to the States over the five years to 30th June this year. I make a plea that when this legislation is being considered the Government copy a bit more of Labour policy and consider returning all of the revenue from the petrol tax to the States. The Country Party operates as a pressure group to obtain more money for rural roads. I do not complain about that. I do not want to see the expenditure on rural roads decreased. We on this side of the House realize that the prosperity of Australia depends on the prosperity of people in all parts of the nation.
I also acquiesce in the view expressed recently by the lord mayors of the capital cities that there is a special need for road construction in the capital cities, which are increasing at an enormous rate. As the Commonwealth Government is bringing migrants to Australia and imposing extra burdens in large measure on the local authorities in the capital cities, it is important for the Government to give special consideration to those important parts of each State which represent the markets on which so much of our primary production depends. Therefore, I make a plea that, without decreasing the expenditure on rural roads, the revenue from the petrol tax be passed over in toto to the State governments, to enable increased expenditure under the Commonwealth aid roads legislation.
The Governor-General mentioned television. I am sure that we all are pleased to see the way in which television has expanded throughout Australia. But over a number of years the previous Postmaster-General stated from time to time that his hope and intention was to increase the Australian content in the programmes. Now that a very large proportion of the Australian public - the figure is quite a praiseworthy one - are within the area covered by television transmitters, it is time the Postmaster-General’s Department, and particularly the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, gave a great deal more attention to increasing not only the quantity but also the quality of the Australian content in our television programmes.
Australia has a great number of actors, musicians and other capable people who are denied the right to achieve in this country what they are capable of achieving. Many of our great people in these fields have made their names in London, New York and other places overseas. The position is an indictment of all Australian governments. This Government, having been in office for so long and having had the opportunity and privilege of introducing television in Australia, should see that this medium is expanded to the advantage of not only the Australian viewing public but also Australian actors and musicians.
I refer now to the proposed increases in social services benefits, with which we all agree. In the budget session last year I had the privilege of speaking on social services generally. I made a plea for greater flexibility in the social services system. I make the same plea again. Within the last few weeks I dealt with the case of a woman whose husband has been for fifteen years in what used to be called a mental hospital but now, in these more enlightened times, is called a special hospital. On investigation, I find that this is one of many similar cases. This woman’s husband comes home every year at Christmas time for three weeks’ holiday with his wife and family. He is not a dangerously mentally deficient person. The only effect that his three weeks’ holiday has on his family, apart from giving them the privilege of his company for three weeks, is that his wife’s widow pension is cut out.
Whilst I agree that the proposed increases are commendable and regret that we are not able to give the more substantial and more effective increases that were promised in the Labour Party’s policy speech, I believe that this anomaly in the administration of social services, which is not uncommon, is worthy of sound investigation by the Government. More flexibility in the Department of Social Services would be as great an advantage to a large number of Australians as the proposed increases will be. 1 now wish to mention some questions associated with aborigines - a subject which is very dear to the heart of my colleague, the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). During the last week we have received a printed report of a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers administering aborigines, which was held in Darwin in July, 1963. It is an excellent report. I hope it will be read by all public servants, all people interested in aboriginal welfare problems, and perhaps by all the people of Australia. One of the matters that the Queensland Government will be bringing forward to the next Premiers’ Conference is the special need for the housing of aborigines.
In Queensland a select committee has been set up to produce a new act to replace the present Aboriginal Preservation and Protection Act. All of us who are interested in this matter are very pleased to see that the Queensland Government is having a new look at many of these questions, because there is a great need for improvement in the existing act and in the regulations made under it. I hope that the Commonwealth Government gives substantial assistance to the Queensland and other State governments in matters associated with the welfare of aborigines.
Recently I spent some time in the north of Queensland where many aborigines are not covered by the present legislation. In addition, no provision has been made for the astonishing number of 10,000 people of Melanesian and Polynesian descent who were brought to work in the sugar fields in Queensland and northern New South Wales who suffer from the same disabilities in terms of housing employment as do Australian aborigines. I regret that there was no mention in the Governor-General’s Speech of any great step forward to improve the conditions of aborigines, although I ‘am -heartened by the statement about recent developments in the Northern Territory. I hope that if, and when, the Premiers’ Conference makes some provision for the housing of aborigines, that provision will not be restricted to aborigines on government settlements and mission stations but will extend to fringe dwellers and others such as Torres Strait islanders and Melanesians who are caught between two worlds. They do not receive the benefits - sometimes the doubtful benefits - incorporated in State acts relating to aborigines and they do not receive any benefits from other legislation. This is an aspect that the Commonwealth Government should consider.
I regret also that there was no mention in the Governor-General’s Speech of the report of the Constitutional Review Committee, which was presented in 1959. This all-party committee made a number of recommendations which, if implemented, will modernize our horse and buggy Constitution and give us something appropriate to the 1960’s. This report is most valuable and should not be forgotten. The fact that nothing has been done about it since 1959 is no reason why the report should not receive attention during this sessional period. The sooner the Government gets down to considering the recommendations the sooner some of the anomalies which now exist will be rectified.
Now that the Government has achieved a reasonable majority in the House of
Representatives I hope it will not forget about Queensland and northern development. A great deal of loan finance and special assistance has been made available to Queensland in the last two years. I hope this was not done merely to improve the electoral prospects in that State of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party. The financial assistance has been of great benefit to local government authorities and much work has been done in the brigalow country and in other ways, but only the future will tell whether the Government has been permanently won over to assisting Queensland and the northern parts of Australia financially or whether it was motivated only by political expediency. I trust that it was motivated by worthwhile feelings.
Like the honorable member for Bradfield I believe that Australia needs leadership. The steps which have been taken to date in the fields of defence, education, social services and northern development were necessary. I am one of those who believe that the Australian people would not mind paying increased taxation to ensure that this country was better defended, that their children were better educated and that the north was better developed in the national interest. I am not inviting wildly increased expenditure by the Government, but I believe that the Government has certain responsibilities, as the honorable member for Bradfield said. I hope that in the coming sessional period those responsibilities will not be evaded.
.- Before coming to the main body of my speech let me congratulate you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on being re-elected Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker. I also congratulate the Speaker on his re-election to that high office. As was stated this afternoon, all honorable members believe that during the period in which the Speaker and yourself have occupied the chair they have received very fair treatment.
– Speak for yourself!
– Thank you. I will exclude you. I am sure that most honorable members realize the difficulties associated with occupancy of the chair and appreciate the fair treatment which has been meted out to them on all occasions. I should like to congratulate also the new members on both sides of the House.
– What about the old ones?
– I congratulate also the old ones, particularly on the Opposition side of the chamber because it is obvious now that the swords and knives are out and that any honorable member opposite who is over a certain age will have some difficulty in retaining his position. This I regret, in some cases.
This debate takes the form of a reply to the Speech which the Governor-General delivered to the Parliament and to the people of Australia. I join His Excellency in his expressions of deep regret that the visit of Her Majesty the Queen Mother has been deferred, but I welcome the news that it has been deferred only. 1 welcome also the news that Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent will be visiting Australia later.
His Excellency also mentioned the death of President Kennedy. Not only honorable members but indeed the Australian people were deeply affected when the news of the tragic event was received. I was amazed at the way in which the news was received in some centres, and I can only explain it by the deep sense of loss felt by the Australian people, the little people and, indeed, the world. By his example and courage President Kennedy gave the little people the feeling that some one in the big league, some one on the American scene, was deeply concerned about them. He was dedicated to high ideals and was prepared to stand by them. He was the kind of man that the little people of the world had been hoping for and wanting for a number of years. We in Australia have suffered a great loss. We have seen how the world situation can be changed rapidly by such a sad event. ft is indeed welcome news to the Australian people that President Johnson has stated that he will implement the policies enunciated by the late President Kennedy, particularly in relation to defence and foreign affairs. This is a matter of vital concern to the Australian people. In his Speech the Governor-General, when referring to foreign policy, stated -
In the field of foreign relations my Government will continue, through the United Nations and its agencies and by direct and sustained diplomatic effort, to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes, international stability, and rising standards of self-government and prosperity.
Australia has a great responsibility to assist the countries of South-East Asia. 1 am sure that honorable members on both sides of the House, particularly those who had the honour to visit South-East Asia with the parliamentary delegation last year, support me in the belief that we should be doing more in the provision of assistance, in the provision of advice when asked for, in the provision of technical advisers when asked for and in offering technical advice and assistance whenever we can. We are doing a great deal, but we should be doing more.
We should be entering further into the field of trade. Perhaps we should be taking risks in areas where it may bc said that there are risks. Unless we get in with the British, with the French, with the Dutch and, in some areas, with the Japanese, we can never hope ultimately to play much of a part in the fields of trade and diplomacy. It is most gratifying to see what the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) and his department, and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) and his department are doing. I give them credit for doing a very fine job in this area at the present time. I give credit particularly to our representatives in the countries concerned, who sometimes have to work in most trying conditions. We are being represented, I think, most admirably, and I would like to see greater encouragement and better facilities given to these people who have to live in what are at times very difficult conditions and in what could be dangerous conditions.
I believe that the South-East Asian countries appreciate the aid that Australia is giving them, particularly as it is given freely and without tags. When I was in the area I heard these sentiments expressed frequently, not only by those in government but also by people having jo connexion with government. They appreciated that Australia was genuinely trying to help the people of their countries, and that we were giving aid without saying, “ You have to buy Australian and you have to accept Australian policies”. They appreciated that it was aid given by a country which was offering goodwill to its neighbours in the South-East Asian area of which Australia is a part. We must understand 2nd realize that we are a part of this area. I would like some newspapers, which perhaps should remain nameless, to realize just what the Government is doing in the South-East Asian area at the moment and what the diplomatic corps is endeavouring to do. On 7th March last year the Minister for External Affairs said, before leaving for Manila for a meeting of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, that we were making a positive attempt to play our part as an Asian nation, not just a country outside. This is most important. We live in this area and we must ‘earn to live with and understand the people in it. I believe that perhaps we should have played a greater part in the initial discussions concerning the formation of Malaysia. This may not have been possible, of course. On the other hand, wc might even have participated significantly in those discussions, but if we did the members of this House do not know too much about it. We are vitally affected by the formation of Malaysia and we are rightly committed to it.
The Governor-General spoke of the political tension in countries to Australia’s north, which is largely due to Communist pressures. The fear of Communist China, and particularly of her intentions, is one that is shared by all the nations of SouthEast Asia. If you go to those countries and talk with the people there they will say, “ Do not talk about Communist China, but talk of mainland China “. They are worried, and it is a worry that I think they share with us. Rightly or wrongly, this worry is one of the reasons for Indonesia’s mistrust of Malaysia. The situation of Indonesia and Malaysia is one of great delicacy. We in Australia have explained that we wish to be friends of both countries. It is to our advantage to be friends of both countries. However, we have, as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, made it clear that we will protect the rights of Malaysia and both her political and territorial integrity. No people or persons should have the right to interfere in the affairs of other people, and I think it is right that it should be made clear that the Commonwealth of Australia will stand with the Commonwealth of Malaysia should anybody infringe the territorial or political integrity of that country.
We must not, however, allow incomplete press reports and scare headlines to panic this country at the present time into doing something which has not been thought out, or into taking a decision without the fullest advice. I feel sure that this is the policy that the Government is pursuing. We must try to achieve a solution to the problem, but we must definitely not allow our approach to be considered one of weakness, especially by a country that might be acting or might be encouraged to act in a foolhardy manner. This could be dangerous. I believe that brinkmanship is being played in the Asian field, and this is something that we must understand. But brinkmanship can go beyond the point of no return, and when that happens it is essential that he who took the risk should take the responsibility. It should be made clear that we will be ready to protect those who may suffer from such actions.
I would like to compliment again the Minister and the Department of External Affairs for the action they are taking at the moment. I repeat that we in Australia must realize that we are a part of South-East Asia, and that we should remember this in considering questions of diplomacy, trade and defence. The Governor-General naturally mentioned defence in his Speech. It is understood that foreign affairs and defence .must go hand in glove. You cannot say that you will do something unless you have the means to do it. The GovernorGeneral mentioned the recent tragedy which befell the Royal Australian Navy. This is a matter that is being investigated at the moment so I do not propose to go into it in detail. I believe that the Navy was being brought - perhaps some people may think not quickly enough but it may bc remembered that these things take time - to a state of efficiency to allow us to play a reasonable part in theatres in which we may be committed in the event of hostilities.
I would like to compliment the Government on what it is doing in connexion with all three of our armed services. It is realistically trying to bring our defence services to a reasonable standard of efficiency and give us strength to play a reasonable part. Defence expenditure has increased from £203,000,000 in 1961-62 to more than £260,000,000 in this financial year. It is not easy to spend increased amounts of money on defence in weeks, in months or even years. You have to look at equipment and then you have to order and buy it. You have to find recruits. You have to train officers. You cannot do these things overnight. The Government is being realistic in this matter. At the moment we have an effective Regular Army which could go abroad at short notice if necessary and play its part. But we have not, in my opinion, a force which could be maintained effectively, should it be necessary to do so, beyond a very short period. I think one of the big problems at the moment is the question of terms and conditions of service, particularly with respect to the officer content of the three services. But 1 think the Government accepts the fact that, overall, and in relation to all ranks, this is a problem which calls for review. You cannot ask a man to join a service, to make a career of the Army and to give up his former career, particularly if he has a wife and children, without making it worth his while. This is not a problem peculiar to Australia; it is one which has cropped up in all other countries. On 29th September, 1963, the United States Secretary of Defence. Mr. McNamara said that in fairness to the dedicated servicemen who served the country there would be a review of pay and conditions. He said it would be an annual review. On 2nd October President Kennedy expressed a good deal of pleasure in signing a law. He said -
The peace of this world and its security have depended in pood measure upon the members of the military of the United States.
The reference to military included the three services. He continued -
I think this bill will encourage men to stay in the services, increase their professional quality and, most importantly, make it easier for service personnel to sustain their families who must undergo considerable sacrifice themselves.
In the United States of America a shortage of officers occurred. They were tempted to go out into civilian occupations which were so much better paid. The President said -
As a government and as a country we ask our officers to forego better paid civilian occupations in order to stay in the services and serve their country. In the event of war, should it occur tomorrow, they would go out on the first ship.
In the United Kingdom this matter is also under consideration. In the Command Paper which came out two or three years ago, the following passage appeared: -
Her Majesty’s Government are most grateful io Sir James Grigg and other members of the advisory committee on recruiting for their valuable and most comprehensive report.
A review was conducted by the Government and many of the recommendations of the committee were accepted. One recommendation was that there should be an automatic biennial review of pay which would take into account movements in civilian earnings over a range of occupations to be determined. The Government’s recommendation was that service pay and conditions should be reviewed regularly at intervals of not more than two years. The problem was considered, a committee was set up and the Government accepted the recommendation (hat the rate of disturbance allowance for other ranks should be increased from £12 to £25 for those going into service accommodation and from £22 10s. to £50 for those going into private accommodation. It was decided also that the rate for officers should be increased. Higher rates of disturbance allowances were introduced on 1st April, 1959. It was established that there were anomalies in the services as to the housing of families, as to education because of moves from place to place, and upsets that people in other occupations did not have to accept.
It seems to me that the reviews conducted in Australia have not been frequent enough. Service pay seems to be reviewed when Public Service salaries are reviewed, or increases are made when Public Service salary increases are granted. In times when emergencies may arise I see very little similarity between the positions of the services and the civil service. I say that with due respect to the civil servants. It is time that the Government looked at the terms and conditions of service personnel. Whether or not you are successful in recruiting other ranks, you will never be successful in obtaining efficient services unless you have the right type of young officers coming into the services and unless you provide for other ranks the things they may be missing by joining the services. I suggest that the Government should conduct an inquiry into this matter, as I am sure it will.
As my time is running out, I shall deal only briefly with housing. I welcome the policy adopted by the Government. I am sure that honorable members on both sides of the House agree that our young people have been encouraged not only to spend on housing but to save for housing. In this field the Government has done a first rate job that has been willingly accepted by most of the States as an aid to their policies. It has also been accepted by the young people of Australia who now will be able to save and buy homes. There are many other things in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech which I am sure we all support and which we all feel should be done in the three years to come. However, this is not the time for me to raise them, and I express the hope that over the next three years we will have an opportunity to bring these matters before the Government.
Debate (on motion by Mr. E. James Harrison) adjourned.
– I desire to inform honorable members that on 6th February, the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, Mr. W. E. Dale, ended 38 years of service to the Commonwealth Parliament. This was a record term for any member of the “Hansard” staff since federation.
Mr. Dale was a public servant for 42 years. He entered the Department of Home and Territories in 1922 and became an officer of the Treasury in 1924. He began his association with “ Hansard “ in 1926 as clerk and accountant. This was before the transfer of the seat of government to Canberra and Mr. Dale was the last member of the “ Hansard “ staff to have served the Parliament in Melbourne. He transferred to the reporting side of “ Hansard “ work in 1934 and his progression through senior posts began at a time when “ Hansard “ was undergoing its greatest changes. He became Third Reporter in 1953 and in the ensuing eighteen months played a large part in organizing the daily publication of debates which commenced in 1955. He was promoted to Second Reporter in 1957 and to Principal Reporter in April of last year. Although his period of office as Principal was relatively short he served for a total of more than tes years in senior administrative positions.
As I have said, Mr. Dale’s career as a public servant began 42 years ago but he was in the service of his country long before that. He was for more than two years on active service overseas with the First A.I.F. He was wounded and spent some months in a German prison camp. During the Second World War he was seconded for four years to the Department of Defence, where he served on committees engaged on war organization.
I am sure all honorable members, particularly those who have had a close association with Mr. Dale, wish me to record our appreciation of his long and faithful service to the Parliament and to say that we wish him and his wife contentment and the best of health in his years of retirement.
I have to announce also that upon Mr. Dale’s retirement Mr. A. K. Healy was appointed Principal Parliamentary Reporter.
– Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the Government to express our appreciation of the long service that Mr. Dale has given to this Parliament and to wish’ him all hapiness, long life and health in his retirement. At the same time, we congratulate Mr. Healy on his succession to the important post of Principal Parliamentary Reporter.
Before proceeding further, I feel that I ought to express the regret of the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) that he is unable, through indisposition, to carry out his first intention to make this statement on behalf of the Government. I am sure that my colleague regrets very much, for many reasons, that he is not able personally to perform that duty.
It is a matter for sober reflection that any one should have been able to serve in such capacity as Mr. Dale served for so long a period as 38 years. Whet qualities of endurance that must represent. What immense patience and, above all, what unlimited charity is required in a man to carry out these duties and carry them out very well for so long a period. To those of us who have come into this Parliament more recently and perhaps to those who have joined the Parliament only in this session, Mr. Dale’s record must appear something like that of a recording angel. It was in 1926 when he first entered the service of the Parliament. If some one of the same age now joining “ Hansard “ is to serve for an equal period it will be close to the year 2000 before he ceases duty. It is extremely unlikely that any of us now present in the House will be here in the year 2000. Our ambitions have a brief duration and our opportunities to serve arc limited by time. Perhaps that is a reflection that ought to make us a little more humble in performing our duties than most of us are.
I was looking through a list of the members of this and the other chamber when Mr. Dale first entered the service of the Parliament. None of them is now in the Parliament. Some of them are still living and are enjoying their old age, but there is not one present member of the Parliament who was serving when Mr. Dale first came here. The last of them was the former member for Bonython, Mr. Norman Makin, who was a member of the Parliament in 1.926 and who only missed seeing the retirement of Mr. Dale by a matter of a few months.
Another thing which impressed me, Mr. Speaker, about the record of service which you read to us was the quick variety of experience which Mr. Dale had before he entered the service of the Parliament. I refer, Sir, to his war service in the first Australian Imperial Force, in which he enlisted at the age of eighteen years, to his two years of active service as a machinegunner and to his being taken prisoner of war. One of his colleagues has told me that, as a prisoner of war, Mr. Dale was put to work shovelling coal in the Berlin gasworks. I do not know whether that set him on a train of thought which eventually directed his ambition in this direction, but often, as he sat at this table, I am sure that the shovelling of coal must have seemed to be among the lighter of the labours in which mankind is engaged.
After returning to Australia Mr. Dale became a public servant. He was appointed to the Department of Home and Territories and served in the Weather Bureau. I suppose meteorological experience would be of some value in helping to endure the various quick changes which take place in any legislative body.
– You are not thinking of hot air, are you?
– No. I am thinking of cold fronts which move from place to place, one of which perhaps honorable members opposite have been experiencing recently. After leaving the Department of Home and Territories Mr. Dale joined the Department of the Treasury, and it was from there that he first come to “ Hansard “, in the capacity of an accountant. He was sent over, I am informed, simply to help out for a few hours when the position of accountant unexpectedly fell vacant. But, having come over in 1 926, he stayed with “ Hansard “ until the moment of his retirement 38 years later.
During the last war he was seconded to special service in the Department of Defence, and throughout the war he served as assistant secretary or secretary to various committees which were set up in the Department of Defence. It may be of interest if I read the names of some of those committees. He was associated with the Administrative Planning Committee, which was established under the chairmanship of a former member for New England, the Honorable J. P. Abbott. He was associated with the Works Priority Sub-committee, which considered Commonwealth works proposals and allotted priorities. He was also associated with the Works Review Committee and the Scientific Advisory Committee.
After the war, Mr. Dale returned to “Hansard”. As you have said, Sir, he became Second Reporter in 1957 and Principal Parliamentary Reporter in 1963. I think all honorable members have had occasion from time to time in this Parliament to appreciate the courtesy and consideration of Mr. Dale in our various problems and to appreciate the leadership that he gave to the “ Hansard “ staff during the time he was Principal Parliamentary Reporter. In expressing to him our appreciation and our good wishes we have in our minds the considerable service which the whole of “ Hansard “ performs for the Parliament. I am sure that all members of this House and, indeed, all members of the Parliament would like to join in this expression of good wishes to the retiring Principal Parliamentary Reporter and in welcoming the new one.
– Mr. Speaker, I support what you and the Minister for Defence (Mr.
Hasluck) have said about Mr. Dale. He did not occupy his- position for very long, but he occupied it very worthily. He began life as one of fortune’s children. He was born and educated in the State of Victoria, but his luck deserted him temporarily when, as the Minister for Defence has said, he went overseas in World War I. During his service then he was wounded. After the armistice, he took a course in secretarial and accounting work in London. Then he came back to Australia and eventually joined the “ Hansard “ staff of this Parliament.
He is a very nice man and was always very helpful. I knew him when I first- came here. He was well down the scale then, because there has been quite a succession of principal parliamentary reporters in recent years. He was always ready to help honorable members who wanted his help. He was here for a long time before I came. He came to the Parliament in 1926 and I came in 1940. But I soon got to know him and had discussions with him about the events of the past. Like the Minister for Defence, I have something of an historical bent, although my qualifications as an author are perhaps not as good as his are. The honorable gentleman is a journalist, and he knows just how important it is, when one comes into the Parliament, to meet the people who serve on “ Hansard “ and to hear a little of the past. Mr. Dale served in fourteen parliaments. He observed nine Prime Ministers in action and he worked under eight Speakers.
– His book will be interesting.
– I hope it is. It is a great pity for all of us that principal parliamentary reporters never publish their memoirs. I wish they would. I hope Mr. Dale will publish his, because he could tell - a great story. He was on the staff of this Parliament in 1926. He heard the debate on the Ottawa Agreement. I understand that, in his view, that was the greatest debate he ever listened to. But he was here before that, because the Ottawa Agreement was signed in 1932. He was here when ‘he late Mr. Scullin was Prime Minister, in the days when the Premiers’ Plan was debated in this Parliament and in the State parliaments. He was here in very hectic days. He witnessed not only the great struggle over the Premiers’ Plan but also, as I have said, the great debates of the 1930’s on international trade and constitutional reform. In the 1920’s he witnessed the debate on one of the two great alterations to our Constitution, that dealing with the debts of the States and the setting up of the Australian Loan Council.
He knew Sir Earle Page. He probably heard the debates on the financial agreement legislation, the Federal Aid Roads Agreement and the Science and Industry Act, which established the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. All of these are very important events in our lifetime. I hope that he will say all that he knew of the people who took part in those debates and of the part that individuals in the Parliament and outside the Parliament played in the events of that time. I have mentioned the debates on the Premiers’ Plan. They were very hectic days. I remember Mr. Scullin saying that he went white overnight. That probably was not literally true, but the worries and anxieties of that period certainly did age him very greatly. This also happened with other people. Mr. Dale was here when the great argument took place between the Commonwealth Government led by Mr. Scullin and the Lang Government in New South Wales over the control of financial matters. That, of course, did not help him at all.
Mr. Dale continued in the service of the Parliament right through that period, through the period of the war and through the post-war period. No man is better fitted to write a good, factual story of all that happened over the 40 years that he served in the Parliament than Mr. Dale is. There are others who were with him and who have gone into retirement before him.
They have not used their shorthand effectively to write their memoirs so that others could transcribe them later. Mr. Dale served in the Department of Defence. In peace and war he served in the defence of this country.
Perhaps his greatest achievement was after World War II. when he found time to undertake some missionary work. He helped to inaugurate a “ Hansard “ for the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory. That was in 1948. It is a pretty good “ Hansard “. I read it occasionally. Perhaps the Minister for Defence when he was Minister for Territories did not read it as often or as diligently as I did. The “ Hansard “ staff in the Northern Territory, like the “ Hansard “ staff here, is very good, very efficient and very helpful. Like members of the “ Hansard “ staff here, members of the “Hansard” staff there help honorable members to recover the verb they did not use, to find their way when they get lost in their parentheses, as they often do, and to put their speeches into good, moderate, simple English as they often need to be. The speeches then read best for those who follow “ Hansard “, and those who want to know precisely what the honorable member tried to say when he was on his feet are able to find out.
I wish Mr. Dale a long and happy retirement. I wish him not only many years in retirement, but healthy, happy years. Perhaps when he comes around to this House, we will have an opportunity to greet him as a friend who will not be reporting us any more but who will be watching us as a citizen of the Commonwealth and trying to keep us on a straight and narrow path in a different way.
House adjourned at 10.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 February 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1964/19640226_reps_25_hor41/>.