25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Joint Address: Acknowledgment by Her Majesty the Queen.
– I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General the following reply by Her Majesty the Queen to the Joint Address presented in connexion with the presentation of a mace to the House of Assembly for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea: -
I thank you for the terms of your Address which has been transmitted to mc by the GovernorGeneral.
I am glad to learn of the forthcoming inauguration of the House of Assembly of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and I have pleasure in directing that a Mace be presented to that legislature by and on behalf of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia to mark this auspicious occasion and in recognition of the importance of our Parliamentary traditions.
Mr. LINDSAY presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Commonwealth Government immediately grant a basic pension rate of £8 10s. per week, formulate a national housing plan for low rental homes for pensioners and provide all pensioners within the permissible income with the medical entitlement card.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Housing been directed to a report that his new department is using many economists and other experts lent to it by private enterprise, including financial institutions and the Liberal Party? What is the nature of the arrangement between his department and these other bodies for the provision of staff or assistance?
– It is true that I have had the services, on varying terms, of a number of people from different institutions who are well versed in housing. The House will appreciate that my responsibilities represent a new Commonwealth function in many respects and involve specialized knowledge and know-how not readily available within the Public Service. For that reason, I have had people temporarily attached to my department from other institutions and Government departments; but on a much wider basis I have had consultations with and advice from various people throughout the community who are well versed in the problems involved. These arrangements, of course, are of a temporary nature. In due course an increasing proportion of the officers of my department will be on a permanent footing; but until I am able to staff it entirely from within Commonwealth resources I shall be obliged to make whatever ad hoc arrangements I can make.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy. He will be aware that a Russian whaling fleet has been active in and around southern Tasmanian waters in the past few days. I ask him whether he is aware that, according to reliable reports, the whaling chasers were conducting investigations of the potential of in-shore fishing in that area. In the event of any future occurrence of this kind, will the Minister consider requesting the Navy to provide a patrol vessel to protect the rights and livelihood of local fishermen?
– As well as my own administration, this question covers probably the fields of administration of my colleagues, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, who has some control over merchant shipping movements, and the Minister for Primary Industry who, I think, is directly concerned with in-shore fishing. I shall confer with them and if there is any necessity to do what the honorable gentleman has asked we shall give it our attention.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Army. As it is the Government’s intention to weaken Queensland’s defences further by moving the 7th
Field Squadron from Brisbane to Borneo, will the Minister state whether arrangements have been made to move to Brisbane the equivalent of the 7th Field Squadron in terms of strength and efficiency? If so, when will this move be made? If not, what action does the Government intend to take to strengthen Brisbane’s defences against an attack by any potential enemy?
– The sending of the 7th Field Squadron to Borneo is designed to strengthen Australia’s defences. This, of course, includes Queensland’s defences.
– I ask the Prime Minister why, in selecting the men to make up the committee to inquire into freights and charges in northern Australia, he decided that the Northern Territory should be represented by an absentee landholder and not by a resident of the Territory? Does he not think that a local person would have a deeper knowledge of the requirements of the area than would a person who numbers his pastoral interest there as only one of his many interests all over Australia? Can the right honorable gentleman give any reason why a man with experience in railways and railways construction, such as the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, was not included in the committee? Does this omission indicate a lack of interest on the Government’s part in railways and railway construction in its planning for the future?
– The honorable member must realize that when appointing a committee to investigate a problem of this kind, which concerns the whole of the north of Australia, the Government has many names to consider and many factors to take into account. If the honorable member looks again at the list of names I venture to say that he will see that a pretty wide and comprehensive experience will be concentrated on this inquiry.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service read the report of the Council of the Institution of Engineers, Australia? If he has, did he note that the members of the council expressed grave concern at the standard of training of the sub-professional or middle group of employees, which includes supervisors, foremen, draftsmen, clerks of works and technicians? Did he note also that the council expressed regret at the lack of recognized qualifications, especially in the radio and television industry? Has the institute passed on certain recommendations to the Government? If it has, what action does the Government propose to take?
– I have not read the report itself but I have read a newspaper commentary on the discussions that were held by the Institute of Engineers. The honorable gentleman is correct in saying that the institute directs attention to what is probably the greatest deficiency in this country, that is, in the training of workers from the supervisory level down through technicians to foremen. I look forward with a great deal of interest to receiving this report. Naturally, if I can make any comment on it I shall do so.
As to what the Commonwealth is doing, the honorable gentleman will know that, commencing on Wednesday or Thursday of this week, we shall be initiating discussions with the trade union movement, and subsequently with employer organizations. One purpose of this action is to try to improve the standards of the working man, in terms of his technical training, so as to permit him to work up into the higher income brackets by becoming a supervisor or a technician. If the honorable gentleman and others in the Labour Party are genuinely interested in this objective 1 hope that they will do their best to obtain the clear and undoubted support of the whole of the trade union movement for it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. By way of preface I remind him of the announcement he made in this House of the meat agreement between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America. I understand that subsequently the majority leader in the United States Senate, Senator Mansfield, introduced a bill to restrict the quota of Australian meat sent to the American market to an amount determined on the basis of Australia’s meat exports to the United States over the preceding five-year period. Can the right honorable gentleman explain to the House the situation with regard to the proposition made by Senator Mansfield?
– The basic fact is, as the honorable member says, that the United States of America Administration reached an agreement with Australia. The initiative was taken by the United States Administration, which proposed to the Australian Government that we might agree to a voluntary restriction on the quantity of meat to be sent to the United States. We accepted this in principle and negotiated and reached agreement on quantity. I was then able to announce to the House the terms of the agreement between the two governments. Subsequently, an amendment to certain legislation was proposed in the United States Congress that would have had the effect, had it been accepted, of requiring the United States Administration to apply quota limitations to Australian meat. That amendment was defeated. My understanding is that a number of other amendments with a similar purpose, to various other pieces of legislation, have been either moved or forecast. I cannot say what the final result of those amendments will be. As in the case of the first amendment, the United States Congress might be expected to accept the fact that its own administration had entered into an agreement with Australia, and that that agreement ought not to be nullified. Quite separately from these legislative amendments, an inquiry has been scheduled by the United States Tariff Commission into the necessity, if any, to protect the United States meat industry. That inquiry will proceed during this month. The Australian Meat Board has representatives - the chairman, Sir William Gunn, and, I think, two other members of the board - either in the United States or proceeding there, for the purpose of either giving evidence before the commission or instructing persons who will give evidence. I have confidence that, as the United States Government is so keen to make world trade freer, in the mutual interests of all international traders, there will be no important alteration of the arrangements already concluded.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. Was one of the terms of settlement of the dispute in the mail branch at the Sydney General Post Office that the roster for the intermediate shifts be reconstructed? Has a new roster been introduced? If so, was it discussed with representatives of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia? Is it acceptable to the employees in the Sydney mail branch or is there a likelihood of further industrial trouble?
– The intermediate roster being worked at the present time is the one which was referred to in the agreement. Clause 1 of the agreement indicated that it would be necessary to go to the court and for the court to agree that we would have the right to employ part-time labour, including female labour. A decision on that matter has not yet been given by the court. Until it is given it will be impossible for us to determine any new roster in relation to the mail room in Sydney.
– I address a question to the Minister for Housing. As the operation of the projected home savings grant scheme is of such great interest to many young people in Australia, I ask the Minister whether he is yet in a position to indicate to the House when the operative legislation will be introduced?
– If all goes well, I hope to introduce it shortly after the House resumes after the Anzac recess.
– I preface a question addressed to the Minister for Air by reminding him that recently, in reply to a question, he stated that the TFX fighter bomber would be able to carry a very heavy load of conventional bombs. As this aircraft is designed to fly at supersonic speeds in order to avoid radar detection and ground attack, I ask the Minister whether the aircraft will be able to carry this very heavy load at supersonic speeds or whether it will have to carry such a load externally, and therefore have to fly at subsonic speeds while doing so?
– I have already mentioned that most of the details concerned with the TFX are classified and, naturally, we are not able to inform members of the Opposition of them fully. However, I can assure the honorable member that heavy loads can be carried both internally and externally by the TFX fighter-bomber.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether it is a fact that in the last few days a circular telegram signed by Chinese Communist firms has been sent to firms in Sydney which engage in trade with Communist China, putting pressure upon them to protest against the treatment of Chinese Communists in Brazil. If this is so, would the Minister care to comment on the situation which has arisen?
Government has received no such telegram, nor has it received any other communication. I do understand that a number of trading firms in Australia have received a telegram which appears to be in the form of a circular telegram. In substance, it does seek their assistance in the respect mentioned by the honorable member.
In the first place, I would like to point out that the Federal Government has no standing in this matter at all, and I would hope that those firms that received the telegram urging them to take steps will understand that and draw the same conclusion. So far as the rest of the people in Brazil are concerned, this is a matter between the authorities in Peking and the Brazilian Government. No doubt the outcome of what happens in Brazil will be conditioned very much by the substance, if any, of the Brazilian charge that these people in Brazil were engaged in seditious enterprises and in attempting to bring about a Communist coup in Brazil.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he has studied the welldocumented proposals made by the Australian Council of Local Government Associations to the Commonwealth Government for the allocation to local governments of a specific and guaranteed proportion of income tax revenue. Does the Prime Minister appreciate the heavy burden being borne by ratepayers because of inflation and the increasing demands on local government by the whole community for expanding amenities and services? Further, does he agree that the present system of financing local government is outmoded, inadequate and unjust? Finally, if the right honorable gentleman has considered the proposals of the Australian Council of Local Government Associations, will he make a statement outlining the Federal Government’s intentions?
– I have not yet had an opportunity to read or study the proposals, but I shall certainly do so.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether the decision of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, given on 11th February last, that the port quotas of waterside workers in Sydney and Melbourne be increased, and requiring the registration of 600 additional men in Sydney and 300 in Melbourne has been implemented by the Waterside Workers Federation. If so, has the increased number of men working in the respective ports reduced the daily shortages of labour, thus expediting the turn-round of ships?
– Registration and rostering of the men on the waterfront is proceeding, but not nearly as quickly as the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority would wish. As to the Sydney waterfront, when I last saw the figures about 400 people had been accepted and, last Friday, of that number 200 were actually working on the waterfront. In Melbourne about 300 were accepted and of that number about 150 are now working on the Melbourne waterfront. As to the last part of the honorable gentleman’s question, as the additional number employed must have reduced the short fall in the number of waterside workers required, I have no doubt that this will have affected the turn-round of ships, and I hope that ships are now moving to other ports, interstate and international, more quickly than they were a few weeks ago.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Will the Minister say whether he has any specific assurance from the Government of the United States of America that if Australian forces are attacked in the combat area between Indonesia and Malaysia the United States will intervene to assist them? If he has this specific assurance, will he say who gave it and precisely what it is? Also, if he does have the assurance, will be say why he did not announce that fact instead of using a reference to the provisions of the Anzus Treaty to explain the obligation of the United States of America?
– On several occasions, the most recent of which I believe was in March in this House, I have pointed out the strength of the Anzus Treaty. I have pointed out that it covers the treaty area, which is broadly described as the Pacific, and that it covers not merely attacks on the Australian mainland and Australia’s island territories, but also attacks on Australian armed forces and public vessels and aircraft in the treaty area. Recently in answer to a press question I pointed out that Borneo was in the treaty area. As I said then, and as I say in answer to the honorable member now, this is not a question in doubt between ourselves and the Americans.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. As the Commonwealth Government, as well as the wool-growers, will be contributing to a fund for the promotion of the wool industry, I ask: Has the Government any control over the spending of the money so contributed? Is there any provision for the presentation to this Parliament of an audited statement covering details of expenditure from the fund?
– In my secondreading speech regarding amendments to the Wool Industry Act I said that the Australian Wool Board would be required to make a comprehensive annual report to the Government on the operations of the International Wool Secretariat and its promotional activities, together with a financial statement on those matters. That will enable the Government to review the position annually and assess the effectiveness of promotion. In the present act which it is proposed to amend there is already provision for an annual report and financial statement to be presented in a form determined by the Treasurer. The report and financial statement are presented to Parliament, and, in addition, all the board’s accounts are subject to Government audit. The Auditor-General is also required to make a report to the Minister and to direct attention to any irregularity or particular point which he believes warrants attention. A senior Government representative is a member of the Australian Wool Board and attends all meetings of the International Wool Secretariat.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. I ask: Is it correct that the Commonwealth Government has been requested by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to contribute a small number of trained police officers to serve in an international police force in Cyprus? Does the Government intend to comply with the request and, if so, how will the men to be despatched be chosen?
– Australia’s response to a request from the Secretary-General will be a matter of policy for detailed discussion by the Government. I answer the honorable member’s question by saying that the Government has certain matters under active consideration. In due course, no doubt, an announcement will be made.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Defence, concerns the recent decision of the Government to assist Malaysian freedom through the despatch of units of the Army and Navy to Malaysia. Does the Minister consider that our prompt assistance has in any way been impeded, delayed or rendered ineffective by the non-existence of a mutual defence treaty between Australia and Malaysia, bearing in mind that many Labour leaders in Australia have stated so often that no proper Australian effort could be made without such a treaty?
– The House will appreciate that the genesis of this matter is to be found in the announcement by the Prime Minister last September to the effect that because we regarded Malaysia as having been formed by a constitutional and democratic process, having been recognized by the United Nations and being a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, we were prepared to support Malaysia against the attempt to crush it. It is in pursuance of that obligation, and without the necessity for any treaty, that we are ready to send forces and, untrammelled by any other consideration, will be able to make our own judgment from time to time of the form in which We should give any further aid.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he has yet completed his inquiry into the trafficking of shares in the third Brisbane television licence which took place earlier this month. If so, when will he make public the results of his investigations? Does he intend to bring down any legislation to amend the Broadcasting and Television Act during this sessional period to prevent continued flouting of the act’s intentions?
– When I receive the Australian Broadcasting Control Board’s report in relation to the inquiry I will make a public statement. The question of the desirability or otherwise of legislation to amend the act is currently receiving attention.
– I address my question to the Minister for Immigration. 1 wish to refer to his recent announcement that Australian residents may now sponsor brothersinlaw, sons-in-law, nephews and nieces from Mediterranean countries. I ask: Will all such deferred applications held by his department now be processed automatically, or should sponsors in Australia lodge new applications?
– The announcement was made only last week-end. The matter is being examined at present. Previous experience leads me to suggest that those sponsors whose applications have been lodged for a considerable time should re-apply. However, I shall look into the matter to see whether a firm ruling can be given regarding the lodging of fresh applications.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral: Now that the chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission has been thoughtful enough to advise the Minister through a public medium on certain aspects, if not all aspects, of the secret formula used to allocate broadcasting time to political parties in Federal and State election campaigns, will he say whether he agrees or disagrees with the decision of the commission to refuse time to the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Country Party in the election campaign now proceeding? Will he state whether, in the light of the formula, the Communist Parly of Australia should be given free time in elections on the basis of votes cast for its candidates at previous elections? If the decision to refuse the Communist Party such time is the result of a Government decision, why cannot the Government act in a reverse way by directing the commission to grant lime to the Australian Country Party during the current election campaign?
– I indicated to the House last week that this is not a matter for ministerial or Government decision. This Parliament gave to the Australian Broadcasting Commission complete autonomy under section 116(1.) of the Broadcasting and Television Act to determine time available for political parties in election campaigns. Because the Parliament has given this authority to the commission I have no views whatsoever regarding the time that should be allocated to political parties.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs. In view of the importance of the discussions at the recent meeting in Manila of the Council of Ministers of the SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization, and the tremendously dangerous implications involved in the Minister’s recent statements and the general situation in South-East Asia, will he allow the forthcoming ministerial statement to be debated for at least the whole evening instead of confining the debate to a reply by the Leader of the Opposition? When Australia’s security is in danger, should not the Parliament be allowed a full-scale debate on the situation?
– I agree with the honorable gentleman about the great importance of international affairs and with his suggestion that there should be opportunity for discussion. I have spoken to the Leader of the House on the matter, and opportunity will be provided for debate this evening. I assure the honorable member that the debate will not be limited to a reply by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Will he ascertain why there is currently a delay of five months in the preparation of valuations, and offers to sell to tenants seeking to purchase governmentowned homes in Canberra? As the Department of the Interior has the figures on book cost for recently-constructed homes, and as valuers complete their examination of homes in approximately three-quarters of an hour, will the Minister ascertain whether the delay is caused in the Housing Branch of the Department of the Interior or in the office of the Department of the Treasury responsible for valuations? If he finds that the delay is caused by lack of staff in either of these departments, will he make appropriate recommendations? Will he, in any case, take whatever action he can to lessen the delay experienced by people who are anxious to purchase the houses in which they are tenants?
– The honorable member has asked a lot of questions that I can answer only after I have fully investigated the matters involved.
– I address a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. I ask: At the conference of Commonwealth Trade Ministers or Finance Ministers, which, I understand, took place before the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development at Geneva, was there any move to present what one may describe as a broad
Commonwealth front on trade and economic problems? Was the United Kingdom representative at the first conference in a position to intimate that the United Kingdom was willing to undertake a move to enhance the position of under-developed countries by ensuring that they had preference in the British market?
– There is a long history of Commonwealth Ministers, whether concerned with trade or with finance, having a meeting before some international conference, but never in my experience has such a meeting been held for the purpose of regimenting a view or ensuring that the Commonwealth Ministers would go to a conference as a bloc. Indeed, quite the contrary has happened. The practice has always been - it was adhered to on this occasion - to have an uninhibited exchange of views and to publish a communique that has never been notorious for what it has communicated. On this occasion, a very broad measure of agreement was revealed. I can certainly say that. This broad measure of agreement was revealed in the ministerial statements made publicly and at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development subsequently held at Geneva. From the outset, the United Kingdom has made it clear that it wishes to make an important contribution to the provision of better trading opportunities for the developing countries. This was made clear both at the conference in London and at the conference in Geneva.
– I ask a question of the Postmaster-General. No doubt he is aware that aircraft were diverted to Mangalore from Melbourne airport over the week-end. But is he aware that there is only one telephone line to Mangalore and that considerable difficulty is experienced by passengers diverted to Mangalore in communicating with their relatives? Will he confer with his colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation, to confirm that the need for extra telephone lines exists and take steps to improve communications so that, among others, the wives of members may be relieved of anxiety on occasions of bad weather in Victoria in the future?
– I would be pleased to consult with my colleague, the Minister for
Civil Aviation, on this matter. I remind the honorable member, however, that while many people are waiting for telephone connexions to their homes it is not my desire to install a large number of telephones at any aerodrome to meet a situation that arises only two or three times a year.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. Is the Minister aware that the failure of the Government to pay endowment of 15s. to all full-time students, as promised in its policy speech, has resulted in general confusion among, and dissatisfaction to, people with children attending teachers colleges? Is he also aware that some students attending training courses at teachers college arc being paid the endowment whilst others attending the same lectures and classes are refused payment? In view of these facts, will the Minister state clearly whether teachers college students are entitled to endowment or whether some form of discrimination is being used in deciding which trainees at teachers colleges shall receive the endowment?
– Student endowment is available to the parents or guardians of full-time students attending colleges, schools and universities who are nor receiving payment from an employer or a prospective employer to whom they are committed. Trainee teachers who are receiving payments from the State Departments of Education or from any other employer to whom they are committed are excluded from the new provisions for the payment of endowment.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question. Doei he know that many farmers in certain southern districts of Victoria are having great difficulty in obtaining the supplies of superphosphate that they require? Does he know that certain agents have had their weekly orders cut by at least 50 per cent, and that other agents have been struck off the books altogether? In view of what is being said, particularly in certain districts of which I know, will he give the House an assurance that this position is not due to the fact that the Treasury has under-estimated the amount of subsidy required and has asked superphosphate suppliers, if they can, to reduce the quantities going out before the end of the financial year?
– I assure the House that no limitation on the supply of superphosphate is imposed because of action taken by the Treasury. I am not aware of the circumstances referred to by the honorable member. A matter of this nature would be handled by the Minister for Customs and Excise. 1 will take up the matter with my colleague and see whether something can be done to make supplies available.
ANZUS TREATY. Mr. E. JAMES HARRISON.- I ask a question of the Minister for External Affairs. Was his statement this afternoon that the United States of America is bound under the Anzus Treaty to come to the aid of Australian forces in Borneo based on his interpretation of the treaty or did he have authority from the United States State Department to make that statement on behalf of the United States?
– The Anzus Treaty is quite explicit. The treaty does not depend on interpretations insofar as it says that an attack on the armed forces of one of the parties to the treaty shall be deemed to be an attack on the party within the meaning of the treaty. The treaty area is the Pacific area; it is called the Pacific. I said, and I repeat, that Borneo - Malaysia - is within the treaty area, and, as to that, there is no difference of opinion between Australia and America. As to the question of operation of the treaty, the treaty calls for action on the part of the parties. Action will be action which is appropriate in the then existing circumstances, whatever they may be, and will be in conformity with the constitutional processes of the parties. That is a perfectly clear and solid position.
– Did the Minister for Immigration recently announce a wider application of priority to those persons desiring to migrate to Australia and who already have relations resident here? Does this mean that applicants who previously were rejected may now be accepted? If so, will it be necessary for those persons to lodge fresh applications with the Department of Immigration?
– The question is in the same terms as the one asked a little while ago by the honorable member for Swan. The honorable member’s point is well taken. This matter should be clarified as soon as possible. I assure the honorable member that the matter will be dealt with immediately and a statement will be made about it.
– The Minister for External Affairs said that if Australian troops sent to North Borneo were attacked by Indonesian forces, America would come to Australia’s aid under the Anzus Treaty. Being an eminent lawyer the honorable gentleman will admit that different interpretations may be placed on laws and that different interpretations may be placed on a treaty. In making that statement did the honorable gentleman express his own opinion or the joint opinion of the governments of Australia and the United States? Is it a fact that the United States will come to Australia’s aid only after constitutional procedures, which may take several weeks, have been taken, if at all?
– I do not want to join issue with the honorable member as to whether I have any claims to legal talent. May I simply answer him without accepting, if he does not mind, his quotation of what I am said to have said. What I said is on record. As I said to the honorable member for Blaxland, the Anzus Treaty does not give rise to any ambiguity or question. An attack on armed forces of a party is within the treaty if the attack takes place in the treaty area. I affirm to the honorable member what I said in reply to the honorable member for Blaxland: Borneo is within the treaty area. On that point there is no difference whatever - I am not suggesting that there is a difference on other points - between the American view and our view.
– What about the constitutional procedures?
– Under any treaty, a government can only act according to its constitutional processes.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 16th April (vide page 1209).
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Definition).
– I move - That the clause be postponed.
As honorable members know, this clause is described as the “ definition clause “. We on this side of the chamber take the view that we should move this amendment in order to indicate our concern about the inadequacy of the definition and about the restrictions that are contained in clause 8. We believe that in respect of this legislation there is evidence of a marked failure to provide assistance to some institutions which provide accommodation for mentally ill and mentally defective persons. We are also concerned about the failure of the bill to give greater assistance for the care, training and employment of mentally retarded persons.
In other words, we believe that the Government has failed to comprehend the enormity of this problem. It certainly has failed to understand the problem as it is being understood in other parts of the world. In the second-reading debate reference was made to the United States’ total concept in this field. The late President Kennedy gave this matter his personal imprimatur and interest. We should like to see this Government showing such concern about this problem as to include many voluntary organizations which are doing a worth-while job but which have been rebuffed by this Government for a long time.
We believe that this definition clause is extremely restrictive. It perpetuates the denial of the voluntary bodies. There seems to be no provision at all for a voluntary body to become a beneficiary under the terms of this legislation. This clause, which I am seeking to have postponed, says, in part, that an institution must be carried on exclusively or principally for the care and treatment of mentally ill or mentally defective persons.
We point out that in many parts of Australia and the rest of the world the trend is not to isolate the treatment of mental illness, but to incorporate it in general hospitals. That is the position in Queensland, as many honorable members know. I quote a short extract from the report of a conference of State Ministers for Health which was held at Parliament House, Hobart, in 1963. Dr. Noble, who represented Queensland at that conference, said -
Inherent in this is that in Queensland our policy of treating mental illness is within the field of general hospitalization. You know we are building there at the present time wards within our general hospital level. We should not depart from that policy in the State whereby we would build more mental hospitals. We believe in getting people out of mental hospitals.
That is happening not only in Queensland but also in many other parts of Australia. In other words, psychiatric wards are in and the old institutional concept is out, as people say in the modern jargon.
The second leg of the definition contained in this clause is also important. It throws up a criterion, the effect of which is to exclude many worth-while organizations from benefiting from the legislation. I do not know whether honorable members know how many voluntary organizations are operating in this field. I hold in my hand at the moment the “Directory of Facilities for the Mentally Handicapped “ which has been prepared by the New South Wales Council for the Mentally Handicapped. It is interesting to look at the headings in the index. A number of establishments are listed under the heading “ Government Services and Assistance “. Then there is a heading “ Diagnostic and Advisory Facilities”. Thirteen bodies are listed under the heading “Workshops and Training Centres”. All of them appear to be excluded from the provisions of this bill. Under the heading “Residential and Hospital Facilities “ no fewer than 38 bodies are listed. Under the heading “ Schools for the Mildly Handicapped “ six voluntary bodies are listed. Under the heading “ Schools for the Moderately and Severely Handicapped “ no fewer than 137 organizations are listed. I have been referring to New South Wales only.
When one picks up the “ Directory of Educational and Training Centres for Mentally Handicapped Children in Australia “, one sees page after page of organizations’ names listed under various headings. At a rough glance, it seems to me that about 400 or 500 organizations are playing an important part in this endeavour to come to grips with the problem of mentally afflicted and mentally retarded people in Australia.
It is interesting to note that the second part of this clause refers to “ an institution conducted by, or in receipt of a grant for maintenance from, a State “. It might be intriguing for honorable members to contemplate that provision. What is “ a grant for maintenance”? What constitutes a grant? In New South Wales, for example, many of these organizations to which I have referred casually receive some kind of assistance from the State. I have in mind the New South Wales Handicapped Children’s Centre, which previously was known as the Sutherland Handicapped Children’s Centre. The New South Wales Government makes a worth-while contribution to that centre, first, by providing free milk. That Government also provides financial assistance so that teachers can be available to teach youngsters with I.Q.’s above a certain level. Does that assistance represent a grant under the terms of this bill?
I ask the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), who is sitting at the table and who so far has been notorious for his obvious failure to understand what this legislation is all about, whether he would be good enough to explain what constitutes a grant under this clause. Is the provision of free milk a grant? Is financial assistance to pay the salaries of teachers a grant? How much does the grant have to be? Does it need to be only a nominal grant to enable an institution to obtain assistance under this bill? All these matters are very vague. It seems to me that this bill will perpetuate the complete denial of the voluntary bodies which has existed ever since this Government introduced the States Grants (Mental Institutions) Act. Why does the Commonwealth require the States to make maintenance grants to voluntary organizations before it is prepared to give any consideration to assisting them.
In the second-reading debate members of the Opposition, including myself, had a lot to say about maintenance. We complained that this bill was extremely limited. We referred to clause 8, under which the relevant expenditure is limited to expenditure on the acquisition of a building, the erection of a building, the alteration of a building and the acquisition of equipment. We contended that clause 8 should have had a wider application. It should have covered maintenance expenditure of government institutions. We pointed out that in New South Wales alone the State Government is spending £7,000,000 on the maintenance of mental institutions every year. It would have been good for the Government to provide extra assistance to all of the States not only in respect of the capital cost of buildings but also in respect of maintenance, which casts such a heavy burden on the States. But that request has been denied, even in regard to State government institutions.
Why then does the Commonwealth suddenly become concerned about maintenance in respect of the voluntary bodies? That seems to be a peculiar reversal of attitude. It is necessary for the States to pay some maintenance grants to enable voluntary bodies to attract Commonwealth assistance. It seems to me that in time available to me I will not be able to make other points that I intended to make. Suppose a voluntary body receives a maintenance grant from the relevant State. What Commonwealth aid would that attract? I invite the Minister for Repatriation to answer that question. The fact is that if a voluntary body receives a maintenance grant from a State and nothing else, it will not receive any benefit at all under the provisions of this legislation. The only criterion for determining the assistance that a voluntary body or institution will receive is the capital cost of buildings.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) has raised a number of points which appear to indicate clearly that he does not understand the purpose of this bill. He made some rather disparaging comments about “ the Minister who is sitting at the table “, which I accept in all goodwill. He asked whether I would explain the purpose of the bill. He asked whether it covers the provision of free milk and a wide variety of other matters to which he referred. I suggest that he read my second-reading speech. Apparently he has not read it, because right at the outset I said -
The purpose of this bill is to give effect to the Government’s announced policy decision that it would continue for a further three years the Commonwealth assistance to the States fur capital expenditure in the field of mental health.
It is quite clear that the bill does not refer to any other matter. I am sure that the honorable member knows that and is trying to create some political illusion in relation to the bill.
He also referred to a statement by the former President of the United States of America. He tried to apply that statement to this legislation. Apparently he has no understanding of the difference between the constitutional situation in that country and the constitutional situation in Australia. In the United States the central government has direct responsibility for matters of national health. Under our system this is the direct responsibility of the State governments. The Commonwealth is trying to assist in this field in some way following a survey taken some years ago and the recommendations made as a result of that survey.
I was very surprised at the Opposition’s action in relation to this bill, because during the second-reading debate Opposition members stated, first, that they supported the measure, and then said that they disagreed with certain aspects of it and wanted its provisions extended in certain areas. They stated also that during the committee stage they would propose an amendment designed to obtain this objective. The Opposition has proposed that a clause of the bill be postponed. I know that this is a procedural method of introducing an amendment, but does the Opposition realize that if its proposal were accepted by the Government the bill would have to be withdrawn? I do not think that Opposition members appreciate that. If the bill were withdrawn the matter could not be reconsidered for perhaps a considerable time. In other words, this is just a political move by members of the Opposition. They know that the bill will not bc delayed because the Government will not accept the proposed amendment. They know that the Government will have the measure carried as it stands. 1 say quite clearly that the Government will not accept the Opposition’s proposal.
The proposed amendment, as stated by the honorable member for Hughes, is based on two grounds. It is just as’ well to remember, before considering the facts, that to delay this measure would be of great disadvantage to some States. Because, foi very obvious reasons, great play was made, during the second-reading debate, on Tasmania’s position, it will be interesting to see how Tasmanian members of the Opposition vote on this proposed amendment, if it goes to the vote. They were sponsoring very strongly Tasmania’s request for urgent assistance in the capital development of mental institutions. If now they reverse their stand and vote for the bill to be delayed, Tasmania will be put into the position of having to wait for the assistance, which this bill would otherwise provide for a much longer period than will be the case when the measure becomes law.
We ask Opposition members who represent electorates in Tasmania where they stand on the question, because during the earlier debate on the bill they made such a display of seeking support for Tasmania. Do they stand now behind the honorable member for Hughes in his request for this clause to be postponed? If they do, let them make their position clear to the Tasmanian Government and the Tasmanian people.
The first of the two points which have been stressed in relation to this proposed amendment is based on the request that accommodation should be provided for mentally ill and mentally defective persons in institutions other than those which were defined in the 1955 measure and reaffirmed in the bill now before the committee. It is strange that in 1955 the Opposition did not object to this definition and the extension of the provisions to cover those people. But now it is objecting. The definition in clause 4 relates to exactly the same conditions as applied in the 1955 measure. However, if it wishes to do so, the Opposition is quite within its rights in objecting to the legislation and in trying to extend its purposes. Let us examine the Opposition’s attitude a little more closely to see how sound is its foundation. The Commonwealth has not failed to provide assistance for mentally ill persons who are being treated in clinics which do not come within the present terms of the bill but which form part of hospitals and nursing homes. It has been stated quite clearly that some States - Queensland is one - have been fostering a system of treatment of certain mentally defective persons in clinics and wards associated with general hospitals, and also in nursing homes. The Commonwealth has been assisting to an enormous extent in this field. Under certain conditions the patients in these hospitals and nursing homes are eligible for the Commonwealth benefit of £1 a day, £7 a week. I repeat that this benefit has been extended to patients in nursing homes as well as to those in wards associated with general hospitals. The honorable member for Hughes has said that nothing has been done. I merely indicate that a very substantial degree of financial assistance in this field has been already provided by the Commonwealth.
I now turn to another field, the extension of financial assistance for the care and employment of the mentally retarded, which, of course, is a very laudable activity and one which has been advocated in this House on a number of occasions by the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson). I pointed out at the outset where the constitutional responsibility lies. The Commonwealth has no direct constitutional responsibility in this field, although it gives some form of assistance to the States. This bill enables some kind of assistance to be provided for capital expenditure in relation to institutions for the care and treatment of the mentally ill and mentally defective which are being conducted by a State or which are in receipt of a grant or maintenance payment from a State. In other words, there is a wide range of institutions that are covered by the bill. They have been covered by the legislation since 1955 and such cover is now extended. I should imagine that a significant proportion of the individual cases that the honorable member has in mind would already be covered directly, so far as grants are concerned, under this legislation, as under the previous legislation. We know the number of grants that have been made and the institutions that have been assisted.
As to activities in these fields that are outside the scope of the bill, I might remind honorable members that certain States treat a proportion of cases in institutions associated with their own general hospital systems and their nursing homes. In those cases they do have the assistance of the additional Commonwealth benefit that is now being provided. So in two fields we are extending assistance to the Stales which have direct constitutional responsibility.
But let us look a little closer at the matter and see how sincere the Opposition is, and how sincere it was when it was in power and there was a chance of testing its sincerity. The Labour Government in 1948 introduced the Mental Institution Benefits Act for the purpose of paying to the States a subsidy which worked out at about ls. a day per patient, and which, over the relevant period, amounted in total to about £500,000 a year. That may have sounded impressive enough, but when we came to office shortly afterwards and examined the position we found that the subsidy had not affected the total amount paid by the States. It was merely a substitution of ls. a day, paid by the Commonwealth, for ls. a day that would have been paid by the States. It was going to the States but was not increasing the amount allocated by the States for mental institutions. It was, in effect, a direct grant of about £500,000 to the States without increasing the total amount allocated for capital expenditure on or maintenance of mental institutions in the States.
We raised this matter with the States shortly after we came to office. We offered to cancel the agreement and institute some other form of assistance. However, the States decided not to take advantage of the offer at that time and so the arrangement continued tor the full five years. I merely mention this to show that when the previous Government was in office and had an opportunity to give some additional assistance it did not take advantage of that opportunity.
I think those are the principal points that needed to be covered in connexion with this amendment proposed by the Opposition. There are a number of important points in connexion with other fields which may be outside the scope of this measure but to which I should, perhaps, make a glancing reference. The Commonwealth has a direct responsibility in relation to mental health in connexion with repatriation and also in the Territories. This is, of course, quite apart from any assistance given to the States under this bill. A tremendous amount of work is being done at the present time in the Repatriation Department in the matter of mental health. A new survey was carried out some months ago, and as a result action is now being taken to give a total service in this field of mental health. Not only will we have complete hospitals with all facilities provided, but we will be moving into a new field and will provide half-way houses. We believe that the stigma that was previously associated with mental disabilities has now disappeared and that an enlightened community regards mental disabilities in the same light as many other disabilities. It is now felt that a person who has suffered mental illness should not be deprived of benefits during his future life in the community. I repeat, therefore, that the Commonwealth in its own field is providing extensive assistance towards overcoming what is indeed a very difficult problem. The amendment proposed would do nothing but delay the carrying out of the Government’s intention.
– What is the amendment?
– The amendment is to postpone clause 4. The postponement of the clause would delay the passage of the bill. The bill might even have to be withdrawn until we consider the proposals of the Opposition. The Government has no intention of delaying the bill. We want to get it through as quickly as possible so that the States will have the benefit of this additional assistance in respect of capital expenditure.
.- The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) has just said that the Government is most anxious to get this bill through at the earliest opportunity. This rings rather hollow when one recalls that Victoria has been pleading with this Government since 1961 to make more capital funds available to allow that State to continue its activities. The amounts provided for Victoria and Tasmania were exhausted years ago and, in all the intervening time, those States have been trying to induce the Commonwealth to renew the arrangement provided for in the 1955 act. Now, suddenly, when the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) moves a procedural motion that this clause be postponed so that we may have a reconsideration of this quite inadequate bill, the Minister pretends some great haste to get the bill through.
Throughout the whole of the Minister’s speech one was made aware of the grudging kind of help that is being provided in this bill. I heard several honorable members - and I said something about this myself - ask the Government whether this definition in clause 4 includes special types of mentally handicapped people. As far as I could ascertain from his speech, the Minister made no reference to this question whatsoever, although it is a most important one and was raised, not only by members of the Opposition but also, and to his credit, by the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson). Does this category of mentally defective persons include mentally retarded people? The honorable member for Sturt obviously suspected that it does not.
We all know of the recent unfortunate and very tragic case of Dr. Benn in Western Australia. Public consciousness of these problems has been greatly aroused, not only by the actual happening and the court case that followed, but also by the testimony that has been given in practically every newspaper of any importance in this country by parents or friends of parents who have mentally retarded youngsters and who have suffered all the trouble and travail that apparently was Dr. Benn’s lot. Yet the Minister has hesitated to indicate, indeed he has resisted indicating, to the committee where people of this type, who are estimated to number about 100,000 in the Australian community, are to be included under the provisions of this bill. Even this limited help by way of capital subsidy to the States would be of some assistance if it included this kind of people. During his second-reading speech, the Minister quite properly drew our attention to the fact that this bill does not place any limit on the amount to be made available by way of Commonwealth grants over the next three years. If we were to believe that, from now on, the States would be able to go ahead and make capital grants to institutions being run either by themselves or by voluntary bodies, knowing that, for every £2 they provide the Commonwealth Government will provide £1, this would be very helpful. But the Minister has given us no further light on the matter at all. It is estimated that in New South Wales alone there are 40,000 unfortunate boys and girls who, through no fault of their own, and through no fault of their parents, have been born with this kind of limitation. On every hand we are getting pathetic appeals for something to be done to help provide adequate and specialized schooling facilities for these people, and we have been getting the appeals more frequently in recent months. We have also been pleading for the setting up of sheltered workshops for those who can take advantage of them when they finish their schooling. These workshops could be either of the transitional or terminal kind. When I speak of transitional sheltered workshops I am referring to workshops for those mentally defective persons who are not so retarded that they will not benefit from special training in workshops somewhat similar to those into which they will go ultimately in the outside community. Such workshops would afford them some kind of protection and special training as a prelude to going into the wide world outside.
Appeals have also been made for the setting up of similar types of institutions for those who are more severely retarded. These would be institutions in which the more severely retarded people would spend the rest of their working lives. They would be protected workshops. Appeals have also been made for the setting up of some specialized residential schools to cater for youngsters coming from scattered rural communities where it would be impossible to maintain a school to cater for their particular needs because there are so few of them in the particular locality. I am well aquainted with one such school in Sydney - the Glenfield school. It is a pity that there cannot be many more such schools throughout the community. The Opposition believes that the Commonwealth should help and encourage the States to provide this kind of facility for people who are afflicted in this way; but the Minister still resists telling us whether the definition “ mentally defective “ includes the mentally retarded. This is a tremendously important matter. The community outside is waiting to hear an authoritative statement on it and 1 do appeal to the Minister to get up at the next opportunity and tell us quite frankly and openly whether or not “ mentally defective “ includes the mentally retarded.
Long before the Dr. Benn case arose, representations had been made - I think they were made to every member of Parliament - for an alteration of the act now under consideration. For instance, amongst the spastics are some who are mentally affected. Not so very long ago the spastic centre in Sydney wrote to members of Parliament indicating that it would be glad to accommodate hundreds more of these unfortunate people if only money could be made available to assist it in this work. As a matter of fact, on 1st October, 1963, the spastic centre at Mosman wrote, I understand, to all federal members of Parliament saying, in part -
We have contracts in hand for some £170,000 and daily we are being offered more work.
In other words, the centre is pointing out that the business community is prepared to co-operate by providing work contracts for voluntary bodies which are prepared to look after these spastic children. The letter continues -
Daily we are also being requested to train more and more Cerebral Palsied from the country and city. Some of these people have been placed in Mental Institutions on the death of one or both parents or when parents have been no longer able to physically care for them because there is no other place where they can be cared for.
Later on it says -
When we enlarge our facilities, as we have in starting Centre Industries, we find we are inundated with applications from Cerebral Palsied people whose need is urgent. Examination of our position indicates that we could double our production in two years and take another sixty Spastics for training if we had the £40,000 capital it would need to expand and equip our buildings. There is no lack of work available to us, but refusal of this work now could result in lack of h later.
This is the important part -
Surely somewhere in the Constitution, Acts and Laws of our Country there must be provision for financial assistance to organisations such as ours to enable this vital work to progress.
This and other voluntary agencies are prepared to do this noble work but they need assistance from both State and Federal Governments in order to do it. The Commonwealth would make a profit out of helping them. If it is able to save itself having to pay invalid pensions to many who could ultimately be rehabilitated into normal life, it will make a profit. Again, by helping to rehabilitate these people, the Commonwealth will be saved from having to pay hospital and medical benefits to many of them. So, apart from its humanitarian duty, the Commonwealth Government has a vested interest in making provision for these mentally retarded people. I hope the definition does include this category.
is no doubt imbued with a good deal of enthusiasm when he speaks of the use of psychiatric wards in the treatment of the mentally ill, and this is, of course, laudable. We on this side of the House are as fully aware as all other honorable members undoubtedly are of the very happy developments that are taking place in the treatment of the mentally ill, but it is a complete exaggeration to attempt to say that now that psychiatric wards are being developed in connexion with our general hospitals the attention that has been given and which this bill contemplates giving to special institutions is something which is misplaced, misguided and unnecessary. This is far from the true situation, and in order to spell it out even more clearly than 1 attempted to do during my second-reading speech, I propose to go through the various categories that are involved and to show - I hope conclusively - that while it is true that there is a large number of people who can be treated in the psychiatric wards, there are, unhappily, also large numbers of people who cannot be so treated and for whom special institutions are essential. I feel therefore, that this bill is most timely in giving assistance to the States to meet this essential requirement.
We are fully aware that there are developments in the general hospitals - and thank goodness there are - by which these patients who will benefit may be treated in a more normal environment than some of the environments provided in previous times, such as the gaol-like institutions of which much has been made. There are six major reasons why certain types of patients - a large spectrum of patients indeed - can be and should be treated in psychiatric wards attached to general hospitals. By the same token, I hope to be able to show in the few minutes at my disposal that all six of these reasons do not apply entirely in some cases and only slightly in others to those types of patients for whom there must be special and separate institutions.
The first reason concerns the different categories into which patients fall. Some patients are set back by being put aside into the specialized type of institution which is designated as a mental health institution. They are the kind of patients who are sufficiently high grade, or who are so slightly affected mentally, that they would be greatly benefited by the more normal atmosphere of a general hospital. But by the same token there are those who are chronically ill, those who have long-term and. indeed, incurable mental illnesses. There are geriatric cases of senility and congenital mental cases from childhood upwards. Such people are largely oblivious to their surroundings and would be something of a liability to the normal functioning of a general hospital. For those people a special institution is necessary.
The second reason has to do with relatives of patients. We know that psychiatric wards are especially necessary so that the relatives of these patients may go along, as any other visitor to a hospital, to see their relatives who are suffering from a mental illness. They can go along proudly and happily to visit them. But there are other people for whom a visit to their loved one, who is deformed mentally and who perhaps is suffering from senile decay, is cherished because it is an opportunity for them to see the patient in seclusion. They would not want to be mixed up with the great influx of visitors which occurs at a general hospital. It is true, therefore, that while psychiatric wards are in for some, special institutions are not out for others.
It is undoubtedly true that by having psychiatric wards in general hospitals our nurses and doctors benefit greatly from a wider spectrum of medical experience. The mental patients, too, are able to get more expert treatment at general hospitals because doctors with specialities in other fields are able to diagnose other medical conditions which may apply to them. Again, when general hospitals take in psychiatric patients they are able to direct their best students into this field. The hospitals are able to call upon new thinking for research purposes. Finally in terms of teaching, the instruction is facilitated by having certain types of mentally ill patients, and others who come within the categories provided for in this bill, treated in the psychiatric wards of general hospitals. We know this. But by the same token there are those categories that I have mentioned - the chronically ill, the geriatric cases and the congenital cases - which in no way can be fitted into this framework. That brings us to the situation where a person who is, in the geriatric sense, suffering from senile decay, who has reached the stage where he presents problems of behaviour and control, undoubtedly needs special institutional care.
During this debate honorable members opposite have tried to tell us that everything that comes within the orbit of mental illness should be covered by this bill, and they have suggested that even the schooling of subnormal children should be brought within its scope. I am one who has spent a good deal of time working for this objective through Rotary, and in other ways, and I have been responsible for getting help for places like Wingate in New South Wales and the home at Sutherland to which reference was made by the honorable member for Hughes. These institutions are doing a magnificent job, yet we heard the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) suggesting that the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), who is at the table, has disregarded the welfare of sub-normal children, who are in desperate need of help. I did not understand the Minister to mean that. I fail to see that the bill excludes direct aid being given to those mental health institutions which cater for sub-normal or mentally defective children, whatever the degree, so long as it is an institution which is carried on exclusively or principally for the care and treatment of mentally ill children, or mentally defective children, being an institution conducted by the State or in receipt of a grant for maintenance from a State.
I believe that I was approached by the persons concerned in the case mentioned by the honorable member for Hughes when I was compering a television discussion on this topic. Very shortly afterwards the New South Wales Government made a direct grant of £3,000 to institutions of this type. If these institutions are in receipt of a State grant, then every provision of this bill comes to their assistance.
– I would be glad to have that assurance from the Minister.
– 1 believe that the Minister has already given that assurance, and I will be glad if before this debate is concluded he will repeat it. May I reiterate in closing that this clause, clause 4, is the very crux of the situation. If this amendment to defer its consideration is not carried then any amendment to clause 8 will be stultified, to say the least.
I should like to point out again a few main points. The Opposition has exaggerated, because of misinformation or lack of sufficient information with regard to modern treatment of geriatric patients. If any proof of this is needed, the Minister has supplied it. The Commonwealth is fully aware of this situation - otherwise, why is it already acting in those areas which come within its direct care? Secondly, I am sure from my own understanding of the Minister’s statement that any institution that carries on exclusively or principally for the car*; of sub-normal children is eligible under the provisions of this bill, provided that it attracts a State endowment or grant.
.- I want to take just a few moments to restate the position of the Opposition in respect of this amendment. I do so because I feel that the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), who is in charge of this bill in this chamber, has unfairly endeavoured to confuse the situation. I want to make it perfectly clear that the purpose of the Opposition in moving to postpone this definition clause of the bill is to indicate its concern at the failure of the Government to make provision for the tremendous number of voluntary organizations which are doing such a big job for mentally afflicted people. The honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) spoke about his participation in a television programme. It may well be that he was elected to this Parliament because on his television programme he appeared to show some concern for these voluntary bodies. What an indictment of him it is that he comes into this chamber, probably as a consequence of his television programme about handicapped children and similarly afflicted people in our community and, when an opportunity is given to him to strike a blow on their behalf, denies their cause.
– That is a misrepresentation.
– Let us see if it is a misrepresentation. The specific purpose of this amendment is to broaden this legislation so that voluntary organizations can come under it. It is one thing to play party politics, but when you come to such a humane consideration as this one, which deals with the most under-privileged people in our community, there is good reason why the honorable member should start to be a bit fair dinkum. The Opposition moved this amendment with the greatest amount of sincerity and because we feel that something in the nature of a confidence trick is being perpetrated on this matter.
Let me tell the Minister for Repatriation, who is at the table, that it is not a good thing to start talking about Tasmania and what the Tasmanian members of the Opposition are going to do. Why has he singled out Tasmania for mention at the present time? Is it because a State election is in the offing? Does he intend to capitalize on the plight of handicapped people in this miserable way? I suggest to the Minister that if this Government were encouraged, as we are endeavouring to encourage it, to incorporate certain provisions in the bill which would enable voluntary organizations to benefit, the organizations in Tasmania would benefit. Does the Minister know anything about the worth-while activities of the Devonfield hospital at Devonport, which is an institution run by the Retarded Children’s Welfare Association? I suggest that he may be encouraged to see the need for assistance for the New Norfolk Helping Hand Centre in Tasmania, and for St. George’s School at Launceston. These places are doing a tremendous job for mentally retarded children. Numbers of these voluntary bodies could be assisted.
If the Minister wishes to make political capital out of this problem, let the people of Tasmania understand that the Opposition is endeavouring to give Commonwealth assistance to the voluntary bodies which are carrying the lion’s share of responsibility in this field. They are not receiving much assistance from the Minister or from the honorable member for Evans. There is not too much enthusiasm shown by Government supporters generally for a problem which is not confined to a State of any particular complexion politically. Queensland is facing a great problem in this regard. We have only to look at the total sum of £10,000,000 made available under the last legislation, and the fact that the States were able to spend only £8,400,000, in order to realize that they are incapable of giving assistance to the extent that it is needed. Queensland could have borrowed £1,400,000 from the Commonwealth under the provisions of the States Grants (Mental Institutions) Act but borrowed only £697,000.
– Just under half.
– Queensland could take less than half of the amount provided for. If seems to me that honorable members opposite - particularly the honorable member for Evans - tend to mix the terms in use in this debate. They tend to mix senility with insanity. Of course there is a need for geriatric centres. Perhaps the Commonwealth could initiate a subsidy scheme. In every State old people are having great difficulty in obtaining proper care and accommodation. That is only one aspect of the problem. lt concerns me greatly that Government supporters seem to lack compassion. In this regard I refer particularly to two hospitals in New South Wales - Eaton’s Children’s Hospital, Western Highway, Wentworth Falls, and Allowah Nursery for Babies at Artarmon. The New South Wales Minister for Health, Mr. Sheahan, has told me that these two hospitals arc to be closed as a result of the Commonwealth Government’s actions. It is interesting to examine the functions of the two establishments. The Allowah Nursery for Babies is a privately controlled hospitaltype residential for moderately and severely handicapped babies from birth to two or three years of age. The Directory of Facilities for the Mentally Handicapped issued by the New South Wales Council for the Mentally Handicapped describes the very worth-while activities of the establishment. Eaton’s Children’s Hospital caters for all types of mentally handicapped children from birth to two years of age. Accommodation is available for 23 patients. According to the New South Wales Minister for Health it is to be closed because the Commonwealth Government has taken away its approval of the establishment as a hospital. We are going to discriminate against the mentally handicapped children of New South Wales. They will not be treated like people who have other sicknesses and receive a certain degree of assistance from the Commonwealth. Because the establishments treat mental sickness the Commonwealth is saying in effect: “ We will not register these establishments as approved hospitals in terms of the Commonwealth legislation. We will call them approved nursing homes or approved rest homes.” As a result of this change the Commonwealth benefit payable to each patient drops from 36s. a day to 20s. a day and families who have mentally retarded children will be unable to keep them in these institutions. In keeping with the spirit of decent enlightened legislation the Commonwealth Government should be more intent on encouraging hospitals of the kind I have named, rather than on closing them.
I have mentioned these two hospitals, not on my own initiative but on the initiative of the New South Wales Minister for Health, who has written to the Commonwealth Minister for Health, hoping to discover some genuine concern and compassion, but without avail. In view of what is happening here to-day it is not inconsistent for the Commonwealth to take action which is tantamount to closing such institutions. It is an unfortunate fact that the benefits available under the provisions of this bill are not available to all organizations in need of governmental assistance. It concerned me to hear the Minister at the table, the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), speak derogatively of a former Labour government. I do not like speaking in retrospect. I prefer to look to the future. I should like to see emerge a new concept, a national plan to deal with the problems of mental health so that those afflicted could receive the same consideration that is given to healthy children. lt seems that at present mentally retarded and mentally afflicted children are the last consideration. The Minister chooses to speak of what was done in this field by the last Federal Labour Government. It should be remembered that the Labour Party came into office at the start of a war. It may be conceded that it was a difficult period, particularly as it followed a long period of Liberal and United Australia Party Governments which did not have a very good record in the field of mental health. At least the Labour Government recognized the need for maintenance and assistance for people in mental institutions. It is a matter of regret that the present Government failed to reintroduce the legislation of the last Labour government under which New South Wales and other States benefited considerably. The Minister would be well advised to consider reinstituting that legislation. If he did, he would be acceding to the requests of all the State Ministers for Health, because at their last conference they unanimously decided to prevail upon the Commonwealth Government to introduce legislation along those lines.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish very briefly to say a few words on this matter because I feel that the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) and the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) are trying to make political capital out of the bill before us. It seems to me that they are attempting to mislead people regarding the intention of the legislation. Honorable members on this side of the House, including the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), have indicated very clearly the type of institution covered by the provisions of the bill. Clause 4 states -
In this Act, “ mental health institution “ means an institution carried on exclusively or principally for the care and treatment of mentally ill or mentally defective persons, being an institution conducted by, or in receipt of a grant for maintenance from, a State.
The honorable member for Hughes has referred to numbers of clinics, homes and establishments where occupational therapy is carried out to assist mentally retarded children.
If the clinics or other institutions receive State grants they will be entitled to Commonwealth grants under this legislation. If they do not receive State grants, if they are not carrying out occupational therapy, or if are being run for profit by private individuals, they will not qualify for assistance under this bill. That position is stated clearly in the clause I have quoted; it is both plain and clear. It is not the intention of the Government to support clinics and institutions that are run for profit. It is only right that Government money should be used to obtain the very best of attention for the treatment of mentally handicapped persons in schools, clinics and homes, and that it should not be used wrongly. It is most important that the clause defines clearly what is a mental institution for the purposes of the legislation. If one examines the States Grants (Mental Institutions) Act of 1955 one sees that a mental institution is defined as a hospital for the insane, a mental hospital, a reception house or a receiving house. All those names have gone by the board, thank goodness. They do not mean anything to-day in defining mental institutions. We have progressed far enough to have forgotten those objectionable terms. I am very glad to see that the Government has expressed very clearly the definition of mental health institutions. Thank goodness we no longer think of them as hospitals for the insane, reception houses or receiving houses.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, the Opposition knows precisely where it stands on this measure. Let me make the position clear to the Government by reading the whole of the clause and pointing out the implications in it and the limitations that it imposes on expenditure under he t terms of the . bill. The clause provides -
In this Act, “ mental health institution “ means an institution carried on exclusively or principally for the care and treatment of mentally ill or mentally defective persons, being an institution conducted by, or in receipt of a grant for maintenance from, a Stale.
The crux of the clause is to be found in the words “ being an institution conducted by, or in receipt of a grant for maintenance from, a State”. That makes it necessary that the institution not only be conducted by a State or be in receipt of a grant for maintenance, but also that the grant for maintenance be received from a State. In other words, the clause is made as rigid as possible. The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) seeks to have the clause postponed. The honorable member clearly outlined the reasons for the amendment lt is proposed because the Government has failed to assist many institutions that provide accommodation for mentally ill and mentally defective persons. We also wish to express our dissatisfaction at the Government’s failure to give greater assistance in the care, training and employment of mentally retarded persons. In other words, we seek to extend the scope of this measure. The honorable member for Hughes and other Opposition speakers, especially the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds), have clearly shown that, far from wanting to delay the passage of this bill, we wish to have its provisions extended to a wider and very important section of our society which, to-day, is suffering and will continue to suffer because of the limitations imposed by this clause.
I believe that the honorable member for Barton replied forcibly and. very effectively to the arguments advanced by the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz). The procedures of this chamber and the limitations imposed on the discussion by the Government leave us no alternative but to propose that the clause be postponed. This procedure will afford us the opportunity to express our dissatisfaction, and, we know, the dissatisfaction of countless thousands of people who are interested in this problem, at the Government’s failure to extend the scope of the measure. The Minister has said that we would delay the passage of the bill. I point out to him that since 1960 Victoria and Tasmania have incurred expenditure for which they will not be reimbursed by this Government because it has been so dilatory in providing financial assistance for the care of severely mentally defective persons as well as for those who are really mentally ill. The kind of opposition that we have heard from the Minister does not. I think, really do him justice.
The Labour Government has been criticized on the score that the Chifley legislation of 1960-61 did not contain provisions so wide as that which we now seek. That criticism is quite unjustified. The Chifley Government’s measure of 1948 made provision not only for maintenance but also for capital expenditure. As the honorable member for Hughes has stated, every Stale Premier would be delighted to accept legislation based on the principle applied by the Labour Government.
This clause has a direct relation to clause 8, which sets out the purposes for which funds will be made available. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, showed that many States had not taken advantage of the full amount of assistance to which they were entitled. He said that New South Wales had received only £3,590,144 out of an entitlement of £3,830,000 and that Queensland and Western Australia each had received only about half of their entitlement and South Australia only about 80 per cent. He stated that about £1.500,000 of the States’ entitlement has not yet been obtained by them. The Government should ask itself why the money has remained unexpended. The reason is simply the imposition of limitations of the kind imposed in clause 4.
I say to the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay), with due respect, that the people mentioned by him would not be covered by the bill, under the terms of clause 4, because they require treatment, as the honorable member said, different from that given in mental institutions of the old type. In this modern society, they would be treated in different institutions altogether, and they would not be covered by the bill if the institutions in which they were treated were not “ conducted by, or in receipt of a grant for maintenance from, a State “. If treatment was given in an institution attached to a public hospital, for example, the terms of this bill would not apply. If the terms of the clause were widened in the way that we suggest, the States would be given greater scope and they would be able to take advantage of their full entitlement of assistance from the Commonwealth. As the situation is at present, the States provide much assistance for the mentally ill in respect of which they are denied any reimbursement from the Commonwealth. For these reasons, I believe that the Minister should look at the clause again and see whether the slack that is evident could not be taken up.
I wish now to make passing reference to clause 5, Mr. Temporary Chairman, which has a bearing on the clause that we are now considering. Obviously, under the terms of clause 5, the level of funds that can be provided in State Budgets for expenditure on mental health institutions limits the reimbursement that can be obtained from the Commonwealth. The clause is restrictive and regid and will result in some of the Commonwealth money that will be available not being expended. We on this side of the Parliament are entitled to ask: What is a grant for maintenance? Must it represent cash? What principle has to be adopted by a State? The pertinent questions that were asked by the honorable member for Hughes have not been answered by the Minister, who has contented himself with casting aspersions at the Opposition’s intentions. He should tell us clearly whether maintenance must be represented by the expendi;ture of cash and what is meant by the expression “ a grant for maintenance “. Those are the questions that have given rise to the amendment. We want to see what can be done to broaden the scope of this bill and to extend the application of the terms of clause 4. i There is another aspect of the problem that the Minister should consider. The honorable member for Barton has stated that about 100,000 persons throughout Australia are mentally retarded. Many organizations such as those mentioned by opposition speakers are doing their utmost to assist people who are mentally defective or mentally ill. As we have pointed out, those organizations w ill not cor.. within the scope of this bill. The Minister and his supporters say, in effect: “ We are walking completely out of this field. If private institutions cannot raise the necessary funds from public contributions, they are just unlucky.” Tragedies have occurred recently, and the general situation has been plainly exemplified in various television programmes and newspaper articles in recent times. Whatever may be one’s political attitude, one cannot be content just to turn his back on this great problem and say that the respvisibility rests with the States and with private organizations. That is why we appeal to the Government to accept the amendment and to consider the matter further. The proposal that the clause be postponed is merely a form of th” committee. The purpose is to get the Government to consider the arguments advanced by the Opposition in support of the proposition that the terms of clause 4 be extended. As the honorable member for Evans has stated, the operation of the entire measure depends on this clause. In effect, it states exactly the extent of operation of the bill.
The Opposition has not been motivated by political considerations in presenting this amendment. We seek to assist mentallyretarded people and to enable the States to obtain from the Commonwealth their full entitlement of funds. We want to make a major contribution to the improvement of Commonwealth legislation on this subject and to the welfare of the people. I know that w: all are vitally interested in this matter, and I suggest to t’-e Minister that he answer some of . propositions advanced by the Opposition. I appeal to him to forget for once political considers tions on this important issue. Whatever may be said to the contrary, we on this side of the chamber, at this stage and at the second-reading stage, have endeavoured to debate the bill keeping in mind always the real needs of suffering people and to give them the benefit of the provisions of this measure. I appeal to the Minister and the Government to do likewise and to consider the submissions that we have made.
– I rise to make a contribution at this stage not, as honorable members opposite suggest, to delay the passage of the bill but to put a point of view that ought to be considered by all honorable members irrespective of their political beliefs. In my view, the time has arrived when we should cease to build mental institutions as such. The use of tranquillizing drugs and the activities of social welfare groups have largely removed the need for these institutions. This applies not only to institutions for mentally defective children but also to institutions for adults. If we were to get away from the old idea of harsh mental institutions we would be bringing a new approach to this important health problem.
I do not propose to touch on the aspects relating to the use of the money which have been fluently dealt with by other honorable members on this side of the chamber, but 1 want to deal with another matter. Clause 8 lays down the machinery for determining the entitlement of a State to financial assistance. This provision makes it clear that the money can be used only for the building or equipping of mental health institutions. It is of no use for the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) to try to get around this provision. Its cold, hard terms are clear.
I was surprised at the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) harking back to 1949 and even 1955. Much progress has been made in the treatment of mental illness in the last five years and the consideration now given to a bill of this type should be completely different from the consideration that would have been given to it in 1955 or 1949. No one who has had anything at all to do with mental health could believe that we should now be building mental institutions such as we have built in the past. Mental illness is just as much an illness as tuberculosis is, and our approach to the treatment of mental illness should be just as enlightened. If we were determined on both the State and Federal levels not to spend any more money on mental institutions but to act realistically in dealing with the problem of mental health we would steadily reduce the incidence of mental illness. If we decided upon hospitalization of these patients rather than committal to a mental institution, after another nine years we would find that a bill of this type was not necessary.
In New South Wales the walls surrounding mental institutions are being torn down. The responsible Minister in that State has been criticized for this, but the purpose is to give the inmates of the institutions a new outlook on life. In the last three or four years many people who have been treated with tranquillizing drugs have been released from mental institutions. I know of at least one man who has received material benefit from the use of tranquillizers. At one time shock treatment was the only treatment available in mental institutions, but to-day it is almost unknown. With the departure of shock treatment goes the need for mental institutions. We have treatment in other hospitals now.
The activities of the Department of Health stretch right across the continent and I am surprised that the Government at this stage is not presenting a new type of legislation. This bill encourages the construction of mental institutions. What is the difference between a mental institution and Long Bay Gaol? The bars and the brick walls are the same in both places. What chance of recovery has an inmate of a mental institution when he is shut out from the world and not able to associate with people? The use of tranquillizing drugs has resulted in the release from the mental institution at Parramatta of a man who had been there for 21 years. He is able to continue with this treatment outside the institution. In addition, one of his mates, who was in the institution for many years, was released and was able to take his place in society again. He has been out of the institution for two years and there has been no suggestion that he should return.
The need for mental institutions as we knew them in 1949 and 1955 has gone, and we should accept our national responsibility to see that no more are built. The present-day treatment of mental health does not rely upon mental institutions. I say with all the sincerity I possess that a clause such as clause 4 of this bil) is obnoxious to me in 1964. Reference has been made to Tasmania. Mental illness in Tasmania is just the same as mental illness in New South Wales, and it is not cured merely by building high walls around mental institutions. Mental illness now can be cured if treatment is commenced at an early stage, and we should remember that it was early treatment that helped us to eliminate tuberculosis. Every tuberculosis hospital in New South Wales has now been closed and we no longer need hospitals for the treatment of this disease. If we adopted an equally enlightened approach to mental illness we could accomplish almost the same result. But this Government turns its back on any suggestion that we should change our approach to mental illness.
We cannot discuss the contributions made by this Government in the mental health field when we are debating the Budget. The only opportunity we have for such a discussion is when we are debating legislation of this type. Unless I were to raise the matter during an adjournment debate it could be another nine years before I would have an opportunity to deal with this subject. Therefore, I now make a plea for a change in thinking at all government levels. We should realize that mental illness is just as much an illness as any other illness is. and we should treat it only as an illness. Those suffering from mental illness should not bc shut up like animals but should be treated in hospitals. In this way they would be helped back to a normal life in society. We should not be providing money merely for the building or equipping of mental institutions. Such institutions are outmoded and we should not persist with them.
The Minister for Repatriation said that we did not oppose a similar provision in 1955. He ignores the fact that the situation has changed now. I have the greatest respect for the Minister because I know that his approach to repatriation problems was humane. That is why I cannot understand his approach to this problem. He had to face the issue of mental illness caused by service during wars and he adopted a reasonable approach. But now, at the behest of this Government, he adopts a completely different approach to mental illness among civilians. I am pleased to be associated with the motion moved by the Opposition and I ask the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) and every other Minister to attack mental illness in the way that the Chifley Government attacked tuberculosis. Let us plan to remove the need for mental institutions. If we do, we will be doing a service to society and to those who suffer from mental illness.
.- The effect of the Opposition’s amendment is to criticize the Government for its failure to give greater assistance in respect of the care, training and employment of mentally retarded persons. So far the Government has been significantly silent on the arguments advanced by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) and other Opposition speakers. I would like the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) to say how clause 4 of the bill will improve the measure of assistance that was given to the States under the act. Clause 4 states that in order to qualify for assistance the institution must be conducted by or in receipt of a grant for maintenance from a State. The New South Wales Minister for Health has focused attention on this matter in his State, but this is a problem that is not confined to any particular State. Dealing with that part of the act which we seek to cover by our amendment to clause 4, a press statement released by the New South Wales Minister for Health on 6th April last stated -
The Minister for Health. Hon. W. F. Sheahan, to-day stated that the Government was taking vigorous action to cope with the problem of the mentally handicapped person.
Mr. Sheahan said. “The Health Advisory Council recommendations for improving conditions and providing additional facilities impinge not only on the Health Department, but also on the Departments of Education and Child Welfare.”
In other words, as I pointed out in my speech on the second reading, this is a matter which affects not only the Department of Health but also several other departments which are concerned with the problem. Those other departments and organizations which are concerned with this problem of mental health are entitled to some form of assistance. The press statement continues - “ It can be assumed that one of my recommendations will embody the proposal of the Council to integrate the voluntary organizations with financial assistance.
The public must realise that these new approaches to these social problems cost money.
The Public Service Board has recently created the position of Director of the Mentally Handicapped and appointed Dr. A. Jennings who is a leading child psychiatrist and paediatrician.
The Health Department provides accommodation for some 4,000 mentally handicapped persons but there is still a waiting list of urgent cases which cannot be admitted because of a shortage of beds.”
To meet this situation Mr. Sheahan said that he had authorized the establishment of a Mental Retardation Training Centre at North Parramatta for which initial plans are almost completed.
This project will be further developed in stages and will eventually cost £1,250,000.
It is significant that the New South Wales Government realizes its responsibility in this field and provides accommodation for 4,000 mentally-handicapped persons. Nevertheless, there is still a waiting list of urgent cases. Those people cannot be admitted to institutions because there is a shortage of beds. The Minister for Repatriation should acknowledge that the Opposition’s amendment gives the Government an opportunity to provide some assistance for the cases to which Mr. Sheahan referred. Without wanting to bring politics into the debate, one cannot help but criticize the Government for its neglect of this subject of mental health. Apparently our amendment is unacceptable to the Government because the Government feels that in this regard it has no responsibility.
In answer to a question by Senator Fitzgerald about the establishment of a committee of inquiry into problems of mentally retarded children, the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) on 14th April last said -
The problems associated with mentally retarded children, whether they be of an educational or health nature, are the responsibility of the respective State governments.
Like Pontius Pilate, the Government washes its hands of the problem. The Minister continued -
Accordingly, no action will be taken by the Commonwealth to establish a federal committee of inquiry into all problems of mentally retarded children. All States have departments charged with responsibility to deal with the various problems of the mentally retarded, and the Commonwealth should not attempt to direct, dictate or interfere with any State administration.
That was a tragic utterance by the Minister for Health in relation to a great problem that is of concern to people from one end of the country to the other. We have moved for the postponement of clause 4 because we realize, as the Minister for Health has stated, that the Government does not intend to take any action in the matter, irrespective of how great the need may be.
– There is no constitutional barrier to the Commonwealth giving aid in this matter.
– That is right. In many ways in the field of health the Commonwealth is giving assistance to the States. The limited funds provided under this bill indicate that the Commonwealth has some responsibility in the matter. The fact that some States may not be interested in this problem should not be a reason why a section of Australian citizens should suffer. In view of what the Minister for Health said I would like to know whether the Government thinks this problem merits attention. The reports on this matter indicate that more people than you can number think this is a Commonwealth responsibility. I refer the Minister for Health to the report of the New South Wales Council for the Mentally Handicapped, which gives details of the incidence of mental retardation among the people of Australia. I do not intend to cite the figures: They have been cited over and over again. How can the Government ignore the fact that on a conservative estimate 100,000 people would benefit from the adoption of our amendment? Tn New South Wales alone between 40,000 and 50,000 people would benefit. lt is useless for the Government to say that this matter should be left to the States. The assistance that may be provided under clause 5 of the bill is limited to £1 for every £3 spent by the States. It must be remembered, however, that the States have other commitments. If they seek to spend more of their limited resources on mental health institutions, they must reduce expenditure on education and hospitals. Clause 5 is restrictive. The definition clause - clause 4 - restricts the operation of clause 5. The type of maintenance referred to in clause 4 is not clear. Despite what Opposition members have said, at no stage in the debate has the Minister for Repatriation indicated how this part of the legislation will add Id. to the amounts granted to the States, except under the very restricted interpretation to which I have referred. If the Government refuses to heed what the Opposition has said about this matter it will deserve to be condemned for its neglect of a very great problem.
I would like the Minister for Repatriation to give his views on this aspect of the matter, which is topical from one end of the country to the other. The problem of mentally retarded children was high-lighted recently in a great personal tragedy. Countless parents face the problem of rearing mentally retarded children. All honorable members know of such cases. Those people are entitled to some assistance from the Commonwealth. 1 would like the Minister to say in terms of capital expenditure what this bill means to that section of the community to which I have referred.
.- With some trepidation 1 rise to speak twice on the same clause. I listened carefully to the remarks of the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) and the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly). Although I have a good deal of sympathy with much of the material that they brought forward for our consideration, J find myself in a considerable quandary. The situation seems to me quite simple in terms of the broad approach. We have been treated to a good deal of argument - argument with which I can sympathize. I concede that in certain categories of mental illness - I cannot admit in all categories - tranquillizers and the wonder drugs have had remarkable results. 1 know that in certain cases of depression where once there was almost no cure and the patient was confined to an institution, it is now possible to effect treatment in general hospitals. I know that in cases of dementia praecox a cure is possible in 90 per cent, of cases. That is fine.
In another context under another approach, without relation to this bill, it would be highly proper to give a great deal of support to arguments brought forward to generalize the whole field of treatment in this type of case. But the Opposition is making an impassioned plea for the treatment of mentally ill people within a general hospital - within the normal environment of those who are sick in any way. If the Opposition would stick to that point everything would be fine, but under this legislation which deals specifically with mental institutions and the specialized treatment of the mentally ill the Opposition is seeking to have all mental health dealt with in a general hospital. The Opposition cannot have it both ways. If mental patients are to be put into general hospitals, surely the financing of their treatment must be on a par and on all fours with the financing of treatment for any other category of illness. If they are just one of the various categories of sick people, why should they be thus singled out and why should an attack be made on this legislation because it does not make provision for their treatment as a special little compartment within a nonspecial hospital? The proposition seems to me to be most illogical.
Of course, tremendous assistance is given to the general hospitals through the States, and the Commonwealth makes its contribution to maintenance through its contribution to patients’ fees. But the question that we are discussing is one of capital expenditure. Does the Opposition really and sincerely want mental illness to be regarded as an ordinary illness of no more remarkable, significance than a broken ankle, tonsillectomy or child-birth? If the Opposition wanted mental illness to be freed from all the emotional overtones that accompany references to cases in the law courts and the involvement of children - matters that touch all of our hearts - one could agree with their argument. But they want to have their cake and eat it too. They want mental patients to be treated in general hospitals and then they insist that members of the Government are not doing their duty to those patients because the provisions of this bill do not relate to a special section of a general hospital. I can see their attitude only as something of a subterfuge. The possibility emerges that within a very short time most other medical classifications of patients will become the subject of special pleas for Commonwealth grants.
The Opposition is seeking to postpone this clause in order to move in respect of a subsequent clause an amendment which we have not seen and which has not been printed. It is a pig in a poke. I for one find it extremely strange to be asked to vote to postpone a clause for the purposes of an Opposition amendment which may not be moved and which we do not know about. If that is the way the Opposition is making its attack on this bill, I am still waiting for enlightenment.
.- I did not intend to speak on this clause again, but after hearing the remarks that have just been made by the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay), it seems to me that it is still necessary for the Labour Party to tell him what it has in mind. All that we are asking is that the States be given greater latitude in the way they deal with this problem. Queensland has been mentioned a number of times, but I must refer to it again. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) acknowledged in his second reading speech that that State did not spend half of the amount that was allocated to it under the 1955 act, despite the fact that Victoria and Tasmania spent their allocations about three or more years ago. The reason for that is that Queensland, in its wisdom or otherwise, has decided to approach this problem in a different way. All we are asking is that Queensland’s approach to the problem be given Commonwealth endorsement.
Queensland has decided that, instead of setting up large institutions devoted exclusively to mentally ill patients, it will set up special psychiatric wards attached to general hospitals in various parts of the State. I thought that approach would commend itself to the honorable member for Evans. I always understood that, as a genuine federalist, he was prepared to allow the States as much freedom as our system of federation permits them. Admittedly the Commonwealth is providing the money. In its wisdom, it wants to impose certain conditions. However, there does not seem to be any reason - economically or medically - why the Commonwealth should insist that the only bodies that will receive this capital grant from it will be ones that are devoted exclusively or principally to the welfare of mentally ill or mentally defective people. It should not be difficult to see that a case can be made out for the establishment of a special ward at a general hospital and for an appropriate Commonwealth grant in respect of the capital cost of the construction of such a ward. That does not seem to me to offer any insuperable difficulties. I am sure that it should not do so to the honorable member for Evans.
He will recognize that, in addition to all the virtues that already have been claimed for the Queensland system - for instance, that it allows doctors, including specialists, to move among a variety of cases and enables nurses to come in contact with a wider range of patients - it permits decentralization of specialist hospital facilities. Mental institutions or psychiatric centres cannot be set up in various parts of a far-flung State like Queensland, or even in any other State, with the possible exception of Tasmania. The Queensland approach, as I understand it, is to take specialist facilities to the people. The State Government cannot provide numbers of institutions devoted exclusively to the mentally ill, so it is providing specialist wards attached to general hospitals. We are pointing out that the Commonwealth’s policy discourages a State from making such an approach. I do not think it is worthy of the Government to adopt that policy. I believe that it would be much more helpful if we allowed a State to choose the approach that it will make.
I hope that the Government will not interpret the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) as an attempt to stop the Government doing anything. We are trying to halt this legislation now so that certain people will not be left out of it. Some institutions that we think should be covered by the bill have not been covered. Wc are not trying to prevent those institutions that do come within the purview of the bill receiving what the bill provides, but we are most anxious to secure the approach that I have mentioned for those States which choose the alternate course.
It is not a straight-out question of one State using the decentralization approach and the other States using institutions exclusively for mental care. In New South Wales there is a combination of both approaches. Some institutions are dedicated exclusively to the care of mentally ill people. Other establishments consist of specialist psychiatric wards attached to general hospitals. While the Commonwealth Government insists that the capital grant will be paid only to institutions devoted principally to the mentally ill and the mentally defective, it will defeat the purposes of the other kind of institution to which I have referred.
My remarks are not intended to refer only to the hospital care of mentally ill people. I still press the point about children particularly who need specialist schooling and specialist workshop activity after they leave school. I am still not satisfied that the provisions of this bill cater for the kind of mentally retarded children to whom I and others on this side of the chamber have referred. Significantly, the Minister has given no unequivocal guarantee that these institutions and people will be catered for. It is very important that they be considered, because if we do not provide specialist schooling and specialist workshop facilities these unfortunate people will be put into mental institutions and, quite possibly, their parents may well end up the same way. In recent weeks we have seen the tragic testimony of what can happen to those who are compelled to look after such unfortunate children. The tension involved spreads through the whole family and can set up sickness, whether mental or physical, which will necessitate hospitalization. Then the Commonwealth will be compelled to aid those patients. A much saner approach would be to make sure that the provisions of the bill include mentally retarded as well as other mentally defective and mentally ill persons. Then it should be left to the discretion of the States to decide which approach they will adopt.
– I, too, am one of those who usually do not rise a second time during the committee stage, but I rise now to reply to the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay). This is the first time in the many years that I have been in this Parliament and have dealt with such an important humane question that my contribution to the debate has been referred to as a subterfuge. There is no subterfuge about my approach to this matter of mental health. The approach of the honorable member for Evans is indicated by his contribution. He said that the Opposition was attempting to treat this measure relating to mental illness in the same way as it would treat a measure relating to a broken ankle or to child-birth. To start with, I do not know what relationship a broken ankle has to child-birth, and I remind the honorable member that that kind of argument has nothing to do with the treatment of mental illness. Obviously he has not read the bill. If he has, he does not understand it. Unless there has been an accident you do not deal with child-birth in a mental institution and, if you are an ordinary citizen, you are unlucky if you have to go to a mental institution to get treatment for a broken ankle.
We are dealing with something quite different. Seemingly the honorable member for Evans cannot separate in his mind the reason why funds are being spent and the need to treat, on a national level, people who are mentally ill. He cannot see the difference between the two subjects. If we read clause 8 in conjunction with clause 4 we will see that the measure lays down distinctly that these funds can be spent only on building or equipping mental health institutions. Under clause 7 a certificate must be presented to the Commonwealth Government before it will reimburse a State on the basis of £1 for every £3 spent on the project. Whatever the reason for the Opposition’s attitude to the 1955 bill may have been, great advances have been made in the treatment of mental illness since then. You, Mr. Chairman, will know something of this, because not very far from your electorate is the Morisset mental institution. When, after treatment there, people reach the point at which they can be released, what happens to them? Where do they go? It is no use their looking for private employment. There is only one thing that they can do so far as this Government is concerned - they can roam round the country until they again become mentally ill and are returned to the institution. But what did the people of Newcastle do? They set up a sheltered workshop to try to help these people, who need help so much, get into industry. If this clause were extended to provide a grant for buildings or organizations treating inmates and guiding them back to civilian life - I do not want to deal with a situation which my colleagues have dealt with so capably - a great deal more could be done.
It is a blot on Australia that the people in Newcastle who are doing such excellent voluntary work in the sheltered workshops in an endeavour to help the mentally deficient are compelled to gather newspapers, bundle them up and send them to Singapore to be sold so that they can get a pound or two to buy the equipment necessary to help the mentally ill back to civilian life.
It has taken the committee associated with the Parramatta hospital at least seven years of hard work, both inside and outside the institution, to obtain sufficient finance to go ahead with its proposals. The
New South Wales Department of Education was good enough to give the committee a block of land on which to erect a building. After obtaining public assistance by raising funds in all kinds of ways, and by gathering newspapers and selling them, as was done in Newcastle, and by making use of every form of voluntary assistance, the money was finally raised to build the sheltered workshop. Now, after seven years’ work and after receiving assistance from the New South Wales Department of Education, Parramatta mental hospital has a sheltered workshop. The measure now before us prohibits the State Government, even though its Department of Education gives a block of land to an institution, spending one penny on a sheltered workshop to assist these people back to civilian life.
This is not a matter, as the honorable member for Evans has tried to put it, of looking at this question on the level of hospitalization. If we were doing that we would be proposing that this bill be withdrawn and redrafted. That is not our approach. I repeat what I said in my previous contribution - I cannot understand the Minister’s approach to this problem. I have seen some of the work done by the Repatriation Department in trying to help unfortunate returned servicemen who are mentally ill. The Minister knows what has been done in that regard by that department, but now he bases his case on the 1955 act which is nine years out of date. If the hundreds, and probably thousands, of mentally ill people concerned were properly treated with the modern methods that are available to-day they could be brought back into society after having been trained in sheltered workshops.
Surely if the Government can find the money to build the walls around an institution it can find the money to attach a sheltered workshop to that institution. Many private employers are ready and willing to take these poor unfortunates into their employ and help them back to civilian life. There are dozens of these employers in my electorate. This the only time when we can deal with a matter of this kind. We cannot raise it during the Budget debate, as the Minister and the Government well know.
It is not good enough for clause 4 to make £X available to be spent as described in clause 8 on building or equipping a mental health institution. Let us extend our field to cover sheltered workshops. These are the places from which the mentally ill can be brought into civilian life and enabled to associate with their fellows. I invite the Minister to come with me to Parramatta at any time he wishes. There he will see the new approach which the New South Wales Government has made to this problem. Although the New South Wales Government has spent millions of pounds in the field of mental health since 1955 it has not spent the whole of its allocation. If the Minister were to visit Parramatta and Newcastle and see the sheltered workshops there I am sure that his approach would be similar to mine. I am sure that he would bring this matter to Cabinet level so that in 1964 our approach to mental health would be different from our approach in 1955. Nine years have passed since then - ‘far too long for our approach to this problem to have remained unchanged.
I ask the Minister, as I did before, to look at mental health in the same way as the Chifley Government looked at tuberculosis. Mental illness is a greater scourge than tuberculosis.
– You are not making much impression.
– 1 know that I am not making much impression on the Minister, but I remind him of what he did in the Repatriation Department. He knows that if similar treatment were accorded to mental institutions we could treat mental disorders in an entirely different way. He knows that if mental illness were approached in the same way as so many repatriation cases are approached at the repatriation hopitals, and at every other level, we would make a much greater impact on this problem.
I invite the Minister, when he has time, to look at the case of an ex-town clerk of Auburn who suffered from mental illness. I bandied this matter, which was finally dealt with in the Repatriation Department at the top level. If the Minister has a look at this case he will find the key to what I have been saying. It was said then - I say it now - that in every case of mental illness there is a background to the illness if you can discern it, but you will never discern it in a mental institution as such.
– I appreciate the sincerity of the honorable member for Blaxland, and I appreciate his sentiments in this matter. I also appreciate the references he has made to repatriation, although I wish he would not use the past tense in referring to me as the Minister for Repatriation.
– My apologies.
– After all, I happen still to be the Minister for Repatriation and I can assure the honorable member that I am very proud of the work that the department is doing in this field. We are providing a total service in dealing with this problem, right from the stage of wards associated with our general hospitals, with a service working in co-operation with the State authorities, to the development of a new rehabilitation system. A survey was conducted recently and the results of it are now being closely studied. Following that survey I can assure honorable members that the service provided in this field in the future by the Department of Repatriation will be, not only the best in Australia, but also as good as any other anywhere else in the world.
Having made those remarks and having expressed my appreciation of the honorable member’s comments, let me remind him that in condemning the situation at the Parramatta institution and other such institutions, bc is directly condemning not the Commonwealth Government but his colleagues in the State Government of New South Wales who have, individually and collectively, responsibility in this field in their own State. Had the Commonwealth not been concerned about mental health it would never have instituted the survey which was carried out in 1954 to see how the Commonwealth could supplement the services being provided by the States. Had it not undertaken that task and displayed its interest in the matter, this measure might never have come before the Parliament, and there would then have been no opportunity for the honorable member for Blaxland to criticize the Government for doing something, not because it has any constitutional responsibility to do it, but because of its interest in assisting the States to overcome a very difficult and growing community problem.
Let me refer back to the 1955 legislation, which is the basis of the present measure. To appreciate the wisdom of this Government’s approach to the attack on the Australian mental disease problem involving a substantial contribution to expenditure on capital buildings and equipment, it is necessary to recapitulate the history of the attitude of governments to the treatment of mental illness. Early in our history it was recognized that mental treatment needed ample space, reasonable privacy for treatment and opportunities for occupational employment. The same three main features of successful treatment were as evident in those days as they are to-day. The first feature was the attempt at accurate diagnosis and investigation; the second was the relaxation of the patient by hospital treatment or sedatives and in this regard we must, of course, consider the advances that have been made in treatment by the use of new types of drugs; the third feature was occupational therapy. All three of these required ample space, both in hospital buildings and in grounds, as well as modern equipment.
The growth of population, especially the metropolitan population which involved intense congestion of urban areas, not only resulted in increased numbers of patients but also interfered with the three essential features of treatment to which I have referred. It was obvious, therefore, that the first and most important and indispensable step towards remedying the situation was to provide accommodation to eliminate the overcrowding. The provision of this accommodation would substantially help to reduce the maintenance costs of the hospitals; more importantly, it might enable the easy restoration to normal civil life of many patients who otherwise would simply be absorbed into the whirlpool of the permanently mentally disordered.
When the situation was examined on this basis in 1954 a report was prepared which has become known as the Stoller report. I think it would be helpful if I read some extracts from this report. At page 172 we find these conclusions which were arrived at after a very thorough investigation -
Any programme to remedy matters must take into consideration -
The remedy of overcrowding in mental hospitals.
Honorable members will note that this is placed first on the list. The conclusions continue -
It should be made quite clear that this was a once-and-for-all grant to overcome the immediate problem which had been disclosed by the Stoller report. The Commonwealth said, “Now we know the situation. There is a deficiency of 10,000 beds. We will help the States to overcome the problem by providing £10,000,000 which will be divided up amongst the States.” It was a once-and-for-all grant and not, as has been suggested, a continuing one. Since then the situation has been reviewed and it has been decided - the decision has now been embodied in the legislation before the Parliament - that this form of assistance will be of a continuing nature for the next three years. In this case there will be no limit on the amount which can be provided.
– But it will be reviewed in three years.
– Yes, it is to be reviewed in three years, but in the meantime those States that use more money than others will be able to obtain extra funds according to the formula of £1 for every £2 provided by the States. That was the basis of the earlier legislation which represented a very tangible form of interest shown by the Commonwealth in a matter of overriding importance in the community.
As I said at the outset, in fields in which the Commonwealth itself is responsible we are providing a service second to none. We are also trying to assist in the sphere of State responsibility by supplementing the normal financial allocations of the States. Remember that the money provided by the States for these institutions comes out of the ordinary tax reimbursements and loan provisions and from the States’ own tax raisings. They are responsible for the allocation of those amounts, and what the Commonwealth is now providing is a supplement to what is allocated by the States.
There is just one other point to which I should refer. I thought I cleared it up when I spoke earlier on this subject but it has been mentioned again. It refers to the question of capital expenditure for facilities provided for mentally retarded children. I did mention it before, but apparently honorable members opposite did not understand it for they have raised it several times since. The position is set out clearly in the bill but, in order that there will be no misunderstanding, I shall restate it. An institution conducted by a State, or in receipt of a grant for maintenance from a State, which is carried on exclusively or principally for the care and treatment of mentally retarded children is eligible for assistance under this legislation. That clearly sets out the position. As I have said, I stated it clearly before and I merely restate it now in order to make sure that it is fully understood.
I do ask the Opposition to treat this matter in its right perspective. The field with which we are dealing is not a responsibility of the Commonwealth. It is a direct responsibility of the States, but, as an earnest of our interest in the matter, we are now supplementing the normal finance provided by the States for this purpose. The States agree to this, and I am sure that members of the Opposition, in their hearts, agree to it also.
Question put -
That clause 4 be Johnson’s amendment). postponed (Mr. L. R.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. P. E. Lucock.) Ayes .. .. ..39
Question so resolved in the negative. Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Financial assistance for period from 1st July, 1964, to 30th June, 1967).
.- I wish to refer only briefly to this clause which limits the granting of financial assistance to the period between 1st July, 1964, and 30th June, 1967. The clause provides for the payment by the Commonwealth of onethird of the amounts expended by a State during the period commencing on 1st July, 1964, and ending on the 30th day of June, 1967, for or in connexion with the buildings or equipment of mental health institutions. It places no limit on the amount that will be paid to the States at the rate of £1 for every £2 expended by the States but it does provide that the money must be expended by the States within that given period. This appears, on the face of it, to be reasonable, but when it is considered that this clause again places a limitation on the amount that may be expended in an indirect way on buildings and equipment for mental health institutions it will be realized that the Government should take other factors into consideration. It should consider, first, that the States have to provide two-thirds of the money. In other words, the States have to use money that they might need for other purposes. Unless they can provide their share from their general allocation they will be obliged to rob the educational vote or hospital vote to provide the two-thirds necessary.
As honorable members on this side of the chamber said in their speeches on the second reading, it would be better if this clause were based on the relevant section of the Tuberculosis Act 1948. The clause makes no provision for maintenance, but relates only to the building or equipment of mental health institutions. Under the provisions of the Tuberculosis Act 1948, which I suggest the Government should consider, . the Commonwealth agreed to pay the whole of the capital expenditure for land and furnishings, equipment and plant incurred by a State after 1st July, 1948, in relation to the diagnosis, treatment and control of tuberculosis. In addition the Commonwealth agreed to meet so much of the net expenditure on maintenance incurred by a State after 1st July, 1948, as exceeded the State’s 1947-48 expenditure on tuberculosis. The Commonwealth agreed also to pay allowances to sufferers from tuberculosis and their dependants to encourage the sufferers to refrain from working and to undergo treatment, thereby minimizing the spread of tuberculosis and permitting the treatment, after-care and rehabilitation of sufferers. A similar provision could be incorporated in this bill.
That provision of the Tuberculosis Act covers the expansion of activities by providing for the maintenance of buildings and capital expenditure. Such a provision should be written into this bill. The scheme to which I referred was a truly national one and to give an example of the Commonwealth’s assistance in this field, in 1962-63 the Commonwealth paid to the States £492,000 for capital expenditure, and £4,869,000 for maintenance, and paid out £5,677,000 in tuberculosis allowances. For 1963-64 the Commonwealth provided under the Tuberculosis Act for a capital expenditure of £450,000, maintenance of £4,900,000 and allowances of £5,700,000. 1 ask the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), who is now at the table, to explain why the Government proposes to limit its assistance to a grant based on the amount provided by the State instead of making a provision similar to that in respect of tuberculosis. That would provide not only for the building and equipment of mental health institutions but also would make provision for maintenance, which we on this side of the chamber have insisted is essential. The omission of maintenance provisions from this bill limits the amount of expenditure that a State may incur. This clause has a direct bearing on that.
.- I am more than gratified that the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has directed the attention of the committee to’ the important fact that the whole of the provisions of this legislation depend upon the capacity of each State to raise money. This clause provides that one-third of the amount expended by a State shall be contributed by the Commonwealth in the form of a subsidy. There is adequate evidence to show that the States have had difficulty in raising money for this purpose. Similarly, there is plenty of evidence to show that this is a problem of some magnitude. I find it difficult to understand the Government’s thinking on this. Apparently it is along these lines: Regardless of the extent of the problem, we will assist the States only if they have money to spend. Is this sensible? This has no relation to the large number of people who need to be accommodated in decent establishments designed specifically to look after mentallyafflicted people.
One matter in particular has prompted me to speak on this clause, and it especially concerns Victoria. I have been concerned to note that no honorable member opposite who comes from Victoria has shown any interest in this problem. Victoria expended, very early in the period, the money available to it under the last legislation. Victoria’s allocation under the 1955 act was £2,740,000, and it has spent that amount. In fact, I think that, apart from Tasmania, Victoria was the only State to expend the funds which were made available under the States Grants (Mental Institutions) Act 1955. The situation now is that although Victoria has spent additional moneys since 1960, apparently the Commonwealth will not give any subsidy in respect of those amounts. This is a pretty serious state of affairs. I venture to say that every honorable member in this chamber received the same kind of letter as I received from the Mental Hospitals Auxiliaries of Victoria. In that letter, which is dated 1st August, 1962, the point is made that Victoria is in a dilemma and has been let down as a consequence of this Government’s attitude to the problem. The letter states -
That is, nine years ago - the Commonwealth gave ten million pounds amongst the various States towards capital works in mental hospitals on the basis of £2 being spent by the States for every £1 given by the Commonwealth.
Victoria spent its allocation by 1960 and great improvements have been made to the hospitals but as the Commonwealth failed to renew the grant, plans to relieve the waiting list for retarded children and the provision for early treatment of the mentally ill throughout the State have been postponed.
In fact it has put back the whole mental health programme for some years to come.
As one who for many years has been actively interested in the welfare of the mentally ill, I am most concerned about the shortage of accommodation and urge that the Commonwealth renew the grant immediately.
That letter, which was signed by the State president of the organization, was sent to all honorable members, but apparently there is not one honorable member opposite from Victoria who is prepared to give effect in this chamber to the views expressed in that letter. These views were to the effect that Victoria has gone on spending money for these purposes from the time that the amount made available under the previous legislation ran out. Is Victoria to be assisted in respect of that expenditure or is it not? I should like that point to be clarified, because it seems to me that whatever the extent of Victoria’s expenditure between I960 and July. 1964, when the provisions of this bill will come into force, it will receive no subsidy at all from the Commonwealth.
It is an unfortunate fact that when Victoria four years ago ran out of the money provided under the 1955 legislation the Government did not know what to do next. The Minister said something to this effect a short time ago, and I am sure that he would not want to change his mind so quickly that he would not still agree with what he said then. Not only the Minister for Repatriation has expressed certain views; the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) has done likewise in another place. A number of references have been made to the conference of State Ministers for Health which was held in Hobart in February, 1963. I should like to make one further reference to that conference. The Minister for Health said at that time - 1 have no need to remind you that as a result of the Stoller Report, the Commonwealth Government in collaboration with the States agreed to make a sum of ten million pounds available to the States to meet a crisis and the first point I want to make is this: 1 believe that the Government made that contribution believing that would be the first and last time it would be called upon to make a capital grant to meet a crisis.
The Government is showing evidence now of the manner in which it misjudged the situation, because it is introducing the same kind of legislation. Although the grant was meant to be a “oncer”, it has now become a “ twicer “. The Minister for Health continued -
Having said that, and made it as plain as I can to you that I believe the Commonwealth’s attitude will not be turned towards making capital grants - again . . .
It will not be turned towards making capital grants again, yet we find that this legislation is designed to make further capital grants. Can the States be expected to know what the Commonwealth has in mind? Can the States be expected to plan reasonably and sensibly when this kind of uncertainty is so vividly proclaimed by the Minister for Health? It is available for all honorable members to read. The Minister at the table, the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), comes from Queensland, a State which has experienced considerable neglect in respect of these matters. However, is it not true that Victoria will be denied a great deal of subsidy which might have been paid to it had the Commonwealth introduced legislation in an efficient and sensible way?
I am pleased to say that the Minister has co-operated in answering questions. I have a simple one for him. What will happen in respect of the amounts expended by States on mental institutions since 1960, when they exhausted the Commonwealth allocation? Victoria has incurred considerable expenditure on mental institutions. Will it attract a Commonwealth subsidy or will it be denied assistance in that respect under this legislation? The Liberal Government of Victoria would appreciate some elucidation on that point. I know that at least one other State - Tasmania - is similarly concerned. The problems of that State have been effectively outlined by the honorable members for Bass (Mr. Barnard), Braddon (Mr. Davies), and Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). Tasmania has also expended all its Commonwealth’ allocation. It was only £355,000, which was spent before the renewal date of July, 1964. In my view, expenditure by the States on mental institutions above the Commonwealth allocation should be the subject of retrospective consideration in this legislation. I ask the Minister to give earnest consideration to the matter so that the States which have incurred expenditure in this respect will not bc prejudiced because they have used all their allocations in a genuine desire to alleviate the problems of mentally afflicted people.
.- In summary, the Opposition has four main objections to the clause under discussion. First, it provides for conditional grants. 1 do not wish to weary the committee on that point. We have discussed it adequately and everybody knows our objection, namely, that if the States are not able to provide matching grants they will not attract Commonwealth grants. This seems to me to be an unfair approach to a great human problem.
The second objection, which is allied to the first objection, is that the Commonwealth grant is not equitable in proportion to the State grant. The bill provides that the States must meet not only the total or part of the maintenance costs of an institution but also must provide £2 towards capital costs for every £1 that is provided by the Commonwealth. I have yet to hear from any honorable member opposite, or from the Minister, why a £2 for £1 proportion has been included in the legislation. It does not follow previous conditional grants of the Commonwealth; for example, grants to universities. The Commonwealth says, “ Universities are clearly the responsibility of the States but we will come in and help “. The Commonwealth is providing £1 for every £1 provided by a State towards the capital cost of a university. Incidentally, the Commonwealth is providing £1 for every £1.83 provided by the States for the maintenance costs of universities. I am not suggesting that there is necessarily a close relationship between universities and mental institutions, although they may have some affinity.
Let us examine other recent legislation. The Commonwealth Aged Persons Homes Act provides for payment of £2 for every £1 raised by charitable organizations or other such private organizations within the community. But under this legislation provision is made for payment of £1 for every £2 raised by the States. I am wondering what is the purpose of the Commonwealth’s discrimination against mental institutions in the community. If it is good enough to make the kind of provision for other institutions that I have mentioned, why is it that something similar is not done in respect of the very urgent and still comparatively newly-accepted problem of mental health? The most recent Commonwealth legislation of this kind was in respect of hostel accommodation for disabled people working in sheltered workshops. Again the Commonwealth provides £2 towards capital costs for every £1 provided by organizations; in that case they are private organizations. I am waiting to hear from Government supporters validation of the Commonwealth’s niggardly contribution to the important human problem of mental health.
Our third objection to the clause is that it provides a Commonwealth subsidy only in respect of the capital costs of an institution. This objection has been mentioned quite frequently during the debate and I do not think that there is much point in labouring it further. Honorable members opposite ought to be aware not only of the Opposition’s objection in this respect but also of the universal objection of all State Governments, irrespective of their political colour. In order to ram home the point I shall quote from the report for the year ended 31st December, 1960, of the Mental Hygiene Authority of Victoria, a State which has a Liberal-Country Party Government. The report refers to a profit made by the Commonwealth out of the mental health problem. At page 5 it states -
However, considerable disappointment has been generally felt by the failure of the Commonwealth Government to renew its capital grant, or to assume any other financial responsibility for mental illness within the State. In fact, the Federal Government is actually making a profit from the mentally ill patients by taking away their old age pensions or invalid pensions whilst an inpatient of a mental hospital. Also, by not paying hospital benefits in such cases, a distinction is made between mental and physical illness and the State has to meet full maintenance costs.
Every Slate has objected to this unfair and inequitable treatment by the Commonwealth in respect of capital grants and its niggardly attitude in making no contribution towards the heavy and continuing maintenance costs of institutions. The Commonwealth’s niggardliness extends even to depriving those patients who have been entitled to age or invalid pensions of payment of their pensions while they are in mental institutions.
The whole burden of maintenance costs of mental institutions falls on the States. Everybody knows of the special expenses that are incurred by people in mental institutions, over and above the normal expenses of ordinary hospitals. The daily newspapers carry advertisements containing extra inducements “ by way of salary to attract medical specialists and nursing staff to look after these special patients with their special problems. Because of these factors the Commonwealth ought to be helping in respect of maintenance costs. I hope that the Government will get over the problem of payment of pensions to patients in mental institutions. Many of the problems of patients in mental institutions could be overcome if they were eligible for pensions in the same way as patients in State homes or general hospitals.
Another interesting aspect of the problem of mental health is alcoholism. The problems associated with alcoholism are increasing and are worthy of our notice. Nearly every State refers in reports on mental health to the abnormal growth of alcoholism and the number of sufferers in mental institutions. The report for 1960 of the Mental Hygiene Authority of Victoria states -
In the same way, a considerable proportion of the patients needing in-patient psychiatric treatment are suffering from the effects of alcoholism, but in spite of the very large sum gained by the Commonwealth Government in excise duty -
This is important to note - there is no return for the prevention of alcoholism or for the care of its sufferers.
In other words, the Commonwealth reaps all the benefits of alcoholism, if I may put it that way, but meets none of the burden of the costs of treatment of these people once they are in mental institutions. The Director of State Psychiatric Services in New South Wales, in his report for the year ended 30th June, 1962, stated that the admission rate of inebriate patients to mental hospitals had doubled over the previous six years. The care of inebriate patients represents a very important part of the problem faced by the States, as does the care of senile persons. Every Health Minister and every State health director has mentioned this problem of the accommodation in mental hospitals being taken up by people who should not be in mental institutions. A report made in New South
Wales in 1962 stated that 1,424 patients between the ages of 60 and 90 were in mental institutions in that State and that many of those patients would have been cared for outside mental hospitals if alternative accommodation were available for them in proper geriatric institutions. The Commonwealth could be of direct assistance to the States by giving much-needed relief in helping them to provide adequate hospital accommodation for senile and inebriate patients.
These things, as I have said, occur not only in New South Wales. The report of the Mental Hygiene Authority in Victoria for the year ended 31st December, 1960, pointed out that 23 per cent, of the persons admitted to mental institutions in that State were aged 65 or over. If we were providing Commonwealth assistance to enable alternative accommodation for senile people to be provided, such heavy demands would not. be made on mental institutions. Furthermore, if proper geriatric hospitals were available, the patients would still attract the age pension. This would be of great help to the States, the patients and their relatives, because it would help to pay for the upkeep of the patients in hospital.
It is very notable that the Stoller report strongly recommended that the Commonwealth establish a mental health research organization. There is no reference to such an organization in this bill, although that recommendation was made in 1954. It is all very well to make money available. We ought to know just what it is to be made available for.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, this bill is a very good one. There is not the slightest doubt that it is one of the best measures of its kind that we have ever considered in this Parliament. I listened very carefully to the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds). He must have been hard put to it to sustain his argument, for he brought in a reference to homes for the aged. The Australian Labour Party, of course, always wants more than it has. This Government does the best it can with the money available. The Labour Party, although it never thought about providing funds for certain purposes when it was in office, now demands that this Government provide more money for those purposes, which may or may not come within the scope of Commonwealth legislation in the future. I point out that the Labour Government never thought of introducing a scheme to provide homes for the aged. However, when the scheme introduced by the present Government provided for a Commonwealth subsidy of £1 for £1, the Labour Party wanted a subsidy of £3 for £1. The Government now provides a subsidy of £2 for £1.
The honorable member for Barton, in effect, addressed a question directly to the Minister and every other member on this side of the chamber. He asked, “ Why does the Government give £2 for £1 for homes for the aged and only £1 for £2 by way of grants to the States under the terms of this bill?” I suggest that the reason is that the subsidy for aged persons’ homes, is paid to charitable organizations that have to collect their funds from the public. State governments, on the other hand, obtain from taxes funds for expenditure on health services and other matters of State administration. The subsidy of £2 for £1 for aged persons’ homes is greatly appreciated by the charitable organizations that receive it. They are highly appreciative of the help that they receive from this Government. The honorable member for Barton has said that certain things are not mentioned in the bill. I could mention any number of matters relating to the subject of any measure brought into this Parliament that are not mentioned in the particular bill.
I shall deal very briefly with some observations made by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson). He said that Victoria and Tasmania had spent all the Commonwealth funds to which they were entitled from the previous mental health grant and that they would have been without funds for some time before the next grants were made. That may be so. But whose fault is it? If those States that had not spent the money allocated on the accommodation in mental hospitals had spent their allocation as quickly and effectively as Victoria, the second grant for which this bill provides would have been available much earlier. The honorable member suggested that Victoria should receive a subsidy for expenditure that it has made in the mean time. That is a very good political point, because, if that were done, the honorable member would immediately say that Victoria was getting more money proportionately than New South Wales was receiving and he would ask for more money for New South Wales.
I repeat that this is a very good bill. The points made by Opposition speakers are only political. I do not appreciate them very much and I do not think that anybody else who has looked into the ramifications of the bill appreciates them either. I give the measure my wholehearted support.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Swartz) - by leave - read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - The statement I am about to make relates to the recent meeting of the Council of Ministers of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization which was held in Manila in the first three days of last week. I have said on various occasions - most recently in my opening statement to the Council of Ministers last Monday - that the ultimate answer to communism must be found in the will of people for whom, by reason of their social or economic advancement, life has meaning and promise. But peace and stability are indispensable conditions for such advancement.
This the Communist in Asia so well understands that, by subversion and terror and, if need be, by armed intervention he seeks to promote instability and political and administrative chaos. Having done that, he condemns the regime which he is seeking to undermine for its failure to provide for the well-being and the progress of its people. I say the Communist in Asia. I am not talking about peaceful co-existence in which communism seeks to demonstrate its superiority and inevitability through economic competitiveness. 1 am talking about the Communist who believes that power grows out of the gun barrel. Well aware of the inevitable slowness of the tempo of economic development and growth among the under-developed regions of the world even in the best of conditions, these Communists are taking the long view, and, by forcefully denying the opportunity for steady progress, hope to cause the people to despair of the certainty of any amelioration of their condition by the new governments and administrations of the region. It is the work of a generation or more in these countries to introduce modern techniques and to create a broadly based administration devoted to the progress of the community at large. If we are to ensure the benefits of a free way of life, in underdeveloped countries, there must be peaceful and stable conditions of an enduring character; in short, freedom itself must be ensured. This is the task of collective security in South-East Asia, to halt aggression and subversion in order to secure peaceful stability and the climate for that economic and social progress of which free societies have shown themselves capable.
A current illustration of Communist technique is South Viet Nam. Here the Communists held their hand for five years from 1954 onwards, not expecting the Government to cope with its great internal residual problems. However, it became apparent that South Viet Nam was overcoming its problems and rapidly adding to its economic strength. For example, the annual rice production not only attained the pre-war average of 3,500,000 tons but advanced to 5,000,000 tons in 1 960. There followed the decision of the Communists to terrorise the population and subvert the country.
It is with these introductory remarks, valid for all our efforts, whether covering the fields of security, diplomacy or economic aid in South-East Asia, that I proceed to speak of the meeting of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization Council of Ministers.
The annual meeting of Ministers deals with the regular business of the organization and provides the occasion for a political and security review of the situation and of the problems of the South-East Asia
Treaty Organization area. This year no fewer than six of the eight member nations were represented by their Foreign Ministers and many hours of close and searching discussion were held, some in closed sessions of which a record was taken and some in restricted sessions with no record being taken.
The formal conclusions of the meeting are published in a communique. With the concurrence of honorable members I will incorporate the text of the communique in “ Hansard “ at the end of this statement. I shall not deal here with the decisions of the council about the continuing work of military planning, programmes of military exercises, or the civil projects for economic, medical and cultural co-operation. It is sufficient for me to say that this basic programme of work and activity is continuing satisfactorily.
Without in any way detracting from the importance of that work, I wish rather to address my remarks tonight to the great issues which were before the Council of Ministers, and which directly bear upon the peace and security of the region and upon the direction of vital national policies by the countries concerned; they are issues, indeed, which, before this meeting, gave rise to the expression in some public comment of doubts as to whether in face of them Seato could maintain its cohesion and its purpose.
I might say that there have been doubts in some people’s minds about Seato’s continued existence since the inception of the Manila Treaty. In some minds, these doubts arose because of a failure to recognize that a system of collective security was necessary for this region if orderly economic and social progress were to be possible; in others these doubts sprang, I think, from a despair that an answer could be found to Communist aggression, that it could be contained, and from a belief that it must be bought off by concessions; in others, the expressed doubts were but a cloak for a Communist will to destroy the organization.
In the light of these doubts, it is worth recalling that September next will see the tenth anniversary of the Manila Treaty; that none of the signatories to the treaty has been the object of Communist aggression during the existence of the treaty and none of the countries within its protocol, or for that matter within South-East Asia, has been subverted to Communist domination, even though as yet we may not have found the ideal methods for repelling subversion and terrorism and making them too costly for their designers.
My own view is that Seato has proved to be remarkedly successful. It has progressively gained in strength, both in terms of its own effectiveness and in terms of international acceptance and support. That this should bc so is a considerable achievement. The members are diverse in many respects; their historical and political backgrounds are widely different and they include both developed and under-developed countries. Moreover, the principles on which Seato is based, the principles of interdependence and of collective security, scarcely carried automatic conviction in the early post-war history of South-East Asia.
Bearing in mind these things I would suggest to the professional critics of Seato, if I may call them so, that it is time to take a fresh look at the position. I commend to them words President Macapagal used when he opened the recent meeting in Manila. He declared that Seato should be cherished as symbolizing the readiness of the sovereign nations of the Eastern and Western hemispheres to come to terms with each other for the purpose of mutual wellbeing, Seato, he said, could “ not now abdicate its primary responsibility towards its Asian members without creating a power vacuum in South-East Asia “.
The apprehensions to which I referred about the current meeting related to the French pronouncement as to neutralization in South-East Asia. It was thought that this attitude must lead to a fracture of the organization. But the meeting afforded the opportunity, of which Ministers fully availed themselves, to discuss frankly and to explore carefully French views concerning the situation in Viet Nam. These discussions led Ministers back to a review of the basis, the effectiveness and the purpose of Seato. This review resulted in an important reaffirmation of that basis and purpose and to the declaration in the communique, to which the French Foreign Minister subscribed, that “ Seato has had, and continues to have, a most important stabilizing influence in
South-East Asia “. Thus, whatever differences of approach on individual matters there might be, no member of Seato entertains a reservation as to the value of the organization.
Again, in paragraph 4 of the communique the Council re-affirmed that “material support and encouragement should be given by members of the treaty organization to those nations which, in defending themselves, need and request such support”. France subscribed to this important statement of principle, thereby demonstrating the unanimous view that aggression must be resisted and that the provision of assistance for self defence on request is a proper performance of the obligations of Seato members. It should be clearly understood that it is accepted within the Seato community countries that no one nation exercises a veto on what other members may do in discharge of the Seato obligations that they are prepared to undertake. It is essential that this point should be understood as it gives great flexibility and strength to Seato. Thus, whilst unanimity on all points was not attained at the meeting, the continued utility and significance of Seato was affirmed and its resilient strength, so far from being fractured, was demonstrated.
Members will recall that, on 14th March, 1963, I drew the attention of the House to a joint statement issued by the Thai and United States Governments. This stated plainly that responsibilities under the treaty could be carried out collectively or individually. The United States affirmed that its treaty obligation to Thailand did not depend upon the prior agreement of all the other parties to the treaty “ since this treaty obligation is individual as well as collective “. The Australian Government welcomed this declaration and stated that it placed the same interpretation upon the Manila Treaty. This flexibility extends still further into the area of collective responsibilities. Not only, as I have explained, does no member bold a veto over the actions of the other members pursuant to their discharge of their treaty obligations but no member can be coerced by the decision of the majority into collective action. For example, Australia alone decides what units of the Australian armed forces shall be offered for purposes of the preparation of Seato military plans and Australia reserves to itself the decision as to whether such forces would participate in action.
I have quoted the United States declaration in respect of its defence commitment to Thailand. It would be in point for me to refer to the practical achievements in Thailand under the joint and several efforts of Seato members in association with the Government of Thailand. Thailand is one of the critical land areas of the treaty area. Through the efforts of the Thai Government and the contributions of the Seato partners the security of Thailand and its defence capabilities have been greatly enhanced. Substantial allied forces can now be rapidly deployed into Thailand at a high level of operational readiness.
Behind this state of affairs lie years of painstaking and concrete work. Highways, bridges, fuel pipelines, modern communications and wharf and harbour facilities have been developed through a programme of logistic support which is based on the co-ordinated, bilateral contributions of Seato members. Australia supports this effort with its own substantial programme of aid for feeder roads. To give a precise example of work in the logistic field, Australian, New Zealand and British Army engineers - some 400 personnel in all - are at this time establishing a modern airfield in northern Thailand with all the complicated supporting equipment and stores that such an airfield requires in order to service modern aircraft.
The demonstrated capacity of all this infrastructure was proven in May, 1962, when a great air lift of 3,000 American marines was flown into Thailand in the space of 24 hours and rapidly deployed in defence of the Mekong frontier. Allied military exercises in Thailand have involved as many as 25,000 men at the one time. Australian, British and American squadrons have flown in on station at operational readiness. These defensive facilities, of great strategic significance, are not established to the detriment in any respect of the Thai economy or the Thai people. On the contrary, they are an important contribution to the capital structure of that country; they help to open up rural areas and to knit the country together administratively. Related training programmes are also helping to raise the limit of technical proficiency in the country. Through a system of on-the-job training under the feeder roads scheme and through the Australianequipped and staffed military technical training school in Bangkok, provided under Seato, Australia alone is helping to produce between 150 and 200 technicians, skilled tradesmen and operators each year.
Much of the Seato effort, as I have stated, contributes materially to the economic resources of Thailand. Indeed, the very existence of Seato, as well as its activities of the kind I have mentioned, helps to keep down the domestic military and budgetary costs of the members who are least able to afford a large defence establishment. Seato works from the principle that the main strength of the organization must derive from the industrial strength and resources of its economically developed members. Thailand in actual fact is experiencing a marked rate of economic growth. Throughout the last decade national income has increased at an average annual rate of 5.5 per cent. Electric power, a key indicator of economic advance, has increased by 400 per cent, over this period.
The situation in South Viet Nam commanded the most earnest attention of the Seato council which expressed its grave concern about continuing Communist agression, organized, directed, supplied and supported by the Communist regime in North Viet Nam. The council agreed that the members of Seato should remain prepared, if necessary, to take further concrete steps to support the Government and the people of South Viet Nam in their fight for their country. The continued independence of South Viet Nam is a matter of high importance to us all, on moral, political and strategic grounds alike. The efforts to form a domestically stable government have had their difficulties, but despite the years of struggle it has already endured, South Viet Nam retains the will and the resolve to resist Communist subversion.
The South Vietnamese are fighting their own war - a grim war of survival. Communist forces have mounted a campaign of widespread terrorism aimed to undermine the authority of the Vietnamese
Government at all possible levels - as I have said, to prevent that economic growth and social betterment which would follow stability and peace. Their tactics include kidnapping, coercion and blackmail, ambush and the cold assassination of picked leaders such as province and village chiefs and individual commanders. The extent of their civil outrage and treachery is that in 1960 and 1961 almost 3,000 civilians were assassinated and 2,500 kidnapped.
The representative of the United States, Mr. Dean Rusk, reaffirmed plainly that United States’ aims were to answer the call of the South Vietnamese to help them save their country for themselves; secondly, to help prevent the strategic danger which would exist if communism absorbed SouthEast Asia’s peoples and resources; and, thirdly, to meet the challenge of the Communist so-called wars of liberation, carefully scaled down to avoid the risk of a global conflict. On behalf of Australia I welcomed and supported this great statement of policy.
General Khanh, the Prime Minister, has not had long to reverse the trends of 1963, but it is heartening to see the way in which he is rebuilding the machinery of government and taking active steps to restore hope and confidence in the people. But there is no disguising the serious and critical nature of the task ahead. There are 20,000 to 25,000 “hard core” Viet Cong guerillas, ruthless and indoctrinated, with locallyrecruited part-time supporters about three times that number operating in difficult terrain often under the cover which intimidated people are driven to afford them.
The French delegation abstained on the Viet Nam paragraphs in the communique stating that “ under the present serious circumstances it was wise to abstain from any declaration “. The French Foreign Minister took the view that apart from the military effort there should be a concurrent attempt to reach a political settlement. The views of the other members, however, were that, apart from the serious effect on morale that such an attempt would produce, a sound political settlement could not be envisaged before every effort had been made to help the South Vietnamese Government to deal with and overcome Communist insurgency and South Viet Nam had achieved a position of security in relation to the north.
North Viet Nam, Communist China and the Soviet Union all urge the neutralization of Viet Nam in their propaganda. Honorable members, however, should clearly understand that they are referring only to South Viet Nam. What they mean by neutralization of the south I shall explain in a moment. So far as North Viet Nam is concerned, its neutralization would involve a tremendous ideological retreat within Communist doctrine. It has in fact been made clear by the Communists that North Viet Nam is a member of the “socialist camp “ and no other status could be entertained. There is no glimmer of a suggestion that North Viet Nam, within a reunified Viet Nam, would accept an internationally arranged and supervised status of neutralization. Nor is there reason to suppose that its huge Communist neighbour would be a party to such an arrangement. In this connexion it is as well to recall that Hungary’s aspirations towards neutrality were quickly extinguished by the Soviet Union.
This reduces the issue to that of the neutralization of South Viet Nam only; What the Chinese and the North Vietnamese mean by neutralization of the south is, first, the withdrawal of foreign military aid, that is the American forces, and, secondly, the replacement of the present anti-Communist Government by a neutral coalition government which would include elements of the present Communist insurgent movement at all levels - political, administrative and military. Politically and militarily the south would then be paralysed in the face of a determined Communist regime in the north which held overwhelming military preponderance. If it could be supposed that these steps were all accepted, what could Seato or for that matter any of its members do to prevent a neutralized South Viet Nam being rapidly absorbed into a Communist Viet Nam? It would be difficult indeed to visualize a practicable basis on which action could be taken to preserve the independence of South Viet Nam.
This leads me to speak generally, not only in relation to Viet Nam, about some of the implications of ideas of neutralization in South-East Asia. Some of these views were developed in my statement to the House on 11th March, but I here wish to relate those views specifically to Seato. Under Seato and other complementary arrangements there have been established forward bases and facilities and logistics which are a great part of the backbone of the security of South-East Asia. There is no room to think that the countries of the region can produce as of this time a stable, secure region on their own strength separately or collectively.
Modern warfare is increasingly dependent on an industrial base to support it. Aggressive countries which lack this base must move cautiously. They can indulge in subversion, infiltration, guerilla activities and various forms of limited war. They may even be able to pick off individual weak nations one by one if they are permitted to do so. But, if faced by a resolute alliance such as Seato represents, their freedom of manoeuvre becomes limited; and on the other hand the alliance brings the needed industrial strength to the support of the countries of the treaty area. On our side, the allied governments have ultimate deterrent power and, also, through the system of logistics and facilities now available, the means of deploying conventional forces in a controlled and graduated response, in full awareness of the heavy weight of responsibility that falls upon us to deal with aggression commensurately yet adequately while avoiding the risks of global conflict.
Events in the last few days in Laos have caused the Government much concern. The rapid deterioration of the situation, which at first seemed possible, has fortunately not taken place, but the episode - if it is no more than that - is another reminder of the fragile governmental structure of that small country. Australia fully supports the continuation in office of the neutralist Prime Minister, Prince Souvanna Phouma, and deplores attempts to undermine his position whether they come from Communist or right wing forces. We have conveyed these views vigorously and urgently in the last few days in Vientiane. Our policy - and it is the view expressed in the Seato communique - is to support the achievement of a neutral and independent government of Laos in accord with the Geneva Agreements of 1962.
The seriousness of the presence of Indonesian armed and directed groups in Malay sia was fully brought home to members of the council during its review of the international situation. This state of affairs not only could lead to a serious deterioration of military security, but could provoke further instability in the region if a neighbouring country could introduce troops into the territory of another and then demand political discussions and concessions.
Since my statement to the House on 11th March, there has been no concrete progress towards a settlement of the problems created by Indonesia’s hostility towards Malaysia. In diplomatic exchanges Indonesia has continued to maintain that any withdrawal of Indonesian-controlled forces from Malaysian territory should be linked with discussion of, and commensurate to progress on, the settlement of political questions. In addition, Indonesia has continued to intrude regulars and irregulars into Malaysian territory and is maintaining and strengthening in areas adjacent to the Malaysian borders its organization and training for guerrilla activity. The Malaysian Government has fully documented these matters in its communications to the United Nations Secretary-General. Malaysia has properly maintained its desire for a peaceful solution of the situation which has been created and has indicated its willingness to contribute to that end. Since my statement, my colleague, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Hasluck), has announced two important decisions of the Government arising from our pledge to come to the defence of Malaysia in certain defined contingencies, namely his statement on 17th March on Australian defence aid for Malaysia in the fields of equipment and training and his statement of 16th April on the commitment of certain military forces.
These necessary developments do not, of course, in any sense reduce our determination to support efforts for a peaceful settlement. But all the small and middle powers of South-East Asia have, with Australia, a vital interest in upholding the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of another country and the principle of respect for the political and territorial integrity of other nations.
The extent to which Australia is involved now and, in addition, such developments that may occur in the future, in fact depend entirely upon the courses of action which Indonesia chooses to adopt. Our view has been, and remains, that Indonesia cannot be permitted to crush Malaysia. Australia’s own decisions are governed by the principles to which I have referred and not by any intrinsic hostility to Indonesia or its peoples.
Finally, I should like to underline the immense indirect contribution which Seato makes to economic progress. It has been urged at times by some members of the Opposition that Seato should be primarily concerned with advancing the economic and social welfare of the people of Asia as the true foundation for peace in the area. So to state the matter, seems to me to overlook some basic considerations. The fact is that security and defence arrangements are indispensable in creating and guaranteeing the conditions of order and stability within which economic programmes, both domestic and international in character, can be formulated and brought to successful fruition. This cannot be done in conditions of chaos and fear. In turn, as life takes on more promise for the peoples of the area so will their resolve grow to maintain by their own efforts their freedom and independence. So, also, will their will and capacity grow to forge new and additional defensive links.
The past decade has already seen encouraging growth in some countries, despite the background of war devastation and internal Communist insurrection in the region. A continuing period of stability and constructive co-operation can carry this growth much further. We in Australia have our own evidence of what can be achieved under conditions of stability as compared with the long years of the depression and the war.
The concept of stability which I hold is not a concept which is resistant to change and progress. The countries of SouthEast Asia have in fact been through a period of sweeping change in the transition to independence and self-governing institutions, a process which Australia has consistently supported. But where is the real evidence of progress in South-East Asia to-day? Development, change, and modernization are strikingly apparent in those countries which have attained stability, which offer expanding opportunities to their people, and which have entered into co-operative relationships in a variety of fields with each other and with countries outside the region. None of this is incompatible with their national aspirations or the preservation of their own identity.
I should like to illustrate what I am saying by referring to the Philippines from which I have just returned. The Philippines has achieved its national independence and it enjoys stable institutions. Its leaders are conscious of the challenges which accompany national independence. President Macapagal, in his last Independence Day address, said that it is not enough to regard the achievements of national liberation and independence as an end in itself. He deplored situations - and I use his words -
Where the political power wrested from the hands of the alien ruler is merely transferred to native hands while it is not used to free the people from their continuing bondage, poverty, ignorance and disease. Until that power is so used, true freedom is denied to the people.
The Philippines is a country with a population touching on 30,000,000 people and with a rate of increase in the growth of .population of well over 3 per cent, a year, one of the highest in the world. . It has its serious economic problems, but it is grappling with them strenuously. Practical problems affecting the lives and the welfare of the people - economic development, employment and rural progress - are now in the foreground of Philippines national life. Impressive progress is being made. Significant elements of industrialization are entering the economy with manufacturing output now making up about 20 per cent, of the national income. Given the rising national income, the relatively high level of domestic capital formation and the prevalence of educational and modern technical training facilities, further economic development and growth are assured so long as international stability and security are preserved.
The Government firmly supports Seato as an effective instrument for collective security in South-East Asia. This does not mean of course that the Government rests exclusively on Seato nor that other valuable groupings of countries in the defence and security fields are not possible and should not be sought. The search for a valid and enduring system of security in South-East Asia has far from ended and I am convinced that successive Australian Governments have a significant part to play in exploring and promoting suitable arrangements. In the field of security Australia’s associations in the region are of proven value and worth. In economic, technical and social fields our contacts and links have multiplied rapidly.
In my view, genuine and lasting stability and, with it, economic and social advancement, will grow from this strengthening fabric of these interacting treaties and associations. Australia does not shrink from appropriate and constructive participation in them; and in these Seato is the instance to which 1 have particularly addressed myself.
Economic, Medical and Cultural Co-operation -
The Honourable Sir Garfield Barwick, Minister for External Affairs of Australia. H. E. Mr. Maurice Couvc de Murville, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France. The- Right Honourable Keith Holyoake, Prime Minister and Minister of External
Ambassador of Pakistan to the Philippines. The Honorable Salvador P. Lopez, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines. His Excellency Mr. Thanat Khoman, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand. The Right Honourable Lord Carrington, Minister without Portfolio, United Kingdom. The Honourable Dean Rusk, Secretary of State of the United States.
I present the following paper -
Seato Council of Ministers - Ninth Meeting - Ministerial Statement and communique - and move - That the House take note of the paper.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) - By leave - agreed to.
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) making his speech without limitation of time. - Mr. CALWELL (Melbourne- Leader of the Opposition) [8.39]. - In his survey of the situation in South-East Asia the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) has quite properly devoted much of his attention to the Seato conference in Manila from which he has just returned. The House will understand that in the time available to me I cannot traverse all the subject that he raised. I shall devote most of my time to the Malaysia dispute because, in the light of events and decisions by the Australian Government in the past few weeks, this is an appropriate time for me to re-state the attitude of the Australian Labour Party on the subject.
Equally important is the fact that what is happening between Malaysia and Indonesia is our primary concern. I find the Minister’s complacent statement that all is well with Seato rather disturbing. He said -
My own view is that Seato has proved to be remarkably successful.
The Minister ignores the three main criticisms that have been levelled against Seato. The first is that it is ineffective even in its primary aim - the containment of communism in the area by military means. This is the view of the highly responsible and influential journal, the “Washington Post “, which said in an editorial on Sunday last-
About the only saving grace of the Seato alliance is that militarily and politically it has demonstrated its uselessness so thoroughly that no one has any false confidence in it. lt now seems that the “ Washington Post “ should at least have excepted the Australian Minister for External Affairs from those who lack faith in the future usefulness of Seato. The second criticism of Seato is that its membership is unrepresentative of the nations of South-East Asia. It is significant in this context that Malaysia itself refuses to become a member although she of all Asian nations has been most successful in defeating communism. The third criticism, and, from the Labour Party’s point of view, by far the most weighty, is that the organization is not equipped to combat communism by economic, social and political means which, in the long run, are and must be the only successful means that can meet the challenge of communism in South- i East Asia.
As I said in my speech here on 25th March - and that is not so long ago - what is required in South-East Asia is an economic and social revolution. If we, the wealthy and advanced nations of the Pacific basin, do not actively assist that revolution, then the inevitable revolution will be a Communist one.
It is now seven months since the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) made his statement in this House on Australia’s commitment to Malaysia. That pronouncement was too vague and imprecise to stand, by itself, as a complete statement of policy. It was, at best, a first, faltering step towards the forming of a policy, or something that might pass for one. Of course, as we now know, it was made with as much regard to electoral strategy as to the realities of the international situation.
The Government has now had seven months in which to form a policy. Perhaps more to the point, four months have elapsed since the election, so the Government has had four months in which to frame a genuine policy, as opposed to its electiontime, ersatz substitute for one. Yet, if we are to judge by the Minister’s statements, such a policy has not yet emerged.
I am bound to say that if the Government really knows what it wants to do, what it might be called upon to do and what it intends to ask from the people of Australia in the way of service and sacrifice, then no Minister could have made a more inept - a more dangerously inept - statement than the Minister for External affairs made in Sydney last Friday. That statement showed that government policy on Malaysia is based on three assumptions, each of them false and inadequate to the point of potential disaster. A policy based on false assumptions is obviously fraught with danger; it is a house built upon sand.
First, I believe that the Government has placed itself in a completely false relationship with the Government of Malaysia. Secondly, it is acting on completely obsolete notions of the situation of Great Britain. Thirdly, it has a completely false understanding of the United States role and commitment in the Malaysia-Indonesian dispute.
First, I refer to the relationship between this Government and the Government of Malaysia. The Minister for External Affairs was reported by the British Broadcasting
Corporation last Friday as saying that Australia was committed to give Malaysia whatever assistance she asked for. Every action that the Government has taken, in terms of military or financial aid, has been explained on this ground, that Australia was merely acceding to the request of the Malaysian Government.
The requests themselves are reasonable enough, in view of our pledged commitments. But the principle which this Government has established is highly questionable. No government should publicly acknowledge and encourage the assumption that it will act automatically on the request of another government not bound to it by any treaty or specific agreement. A government which so acts loses its right to refuse the next request, if that request proves unreasonable. In other words, we are losing real independence of action and real control over our own policy. No other government in the world would place itself in such a position. This Government seems willing to do so.
If the principle that Australia must accede to every Malaysian request is allowed to persist, then not only do we lose our right of independent decision, but we lose the command of our own troops. We have, at this moment, Australian troops under a British command and Australian ships under Malaysian command. The Labour Party wants to know when the Australian forces will be under an Australian command.
The Minister explains the process by which we add to our commitment by degrees as one of graduated response. What does he mean by this? Is the Australian response graduated to an Australian appraisal of the situation, or to the Malaysian Government’s appraisal of its needs? If it is the former, then when will some Australian Minister have the courage to say, “We are doing this because we think it is right for Australia “, instead of putting the onus for our action on the Tunku? If the latter, then the Government is obviously making Australia a pawn in a dangerous game in which we have tremendous stakes, but no cards.
Each time President Sukarno fulminates about his determination to crush Malaysia the situation worsens. Each time the Tunku tells President Sukarno - and I quote him - “ to go to hell “, the situation worsens. But in such a situation is Australia to increase its commitment in men and equip ment potentially, in Australian blood and Australian treasure - each time the Tunku feels affronted, or petulant? If our sole basis for action is to await each new and additional request from the Malaysian Government, what other choice have we, in the light of our existing commitment?
This brings us to the kernel of the problem. The commitment is so vague that the Government has never been able to find a formula for action, except this dangerous one of acceding to whatever request the Government of Malaysia might make. If I am wrong in this respect I invite some Minister to show me when the Government has turned down any request from Malaysia. The proper basis for the relationship between Australia and Malaysia is a treaty, a clear and open agreement which sets out precisely our obligations and our responsibilities and - equally importantly - our rights. Just as it is seven months since the Government made our first vague commitment, it is seven months since I first demanded such a treaty on behalf of the Labour Party, and I believe, on behalf of the Australian people. Since then it has been argued that such an agreement is unnecessary or impossible. It is said that such an agreement is unnecessary because Malaysia is a member of the Commonwealth. It is said that such an agreement is impossible because Malaysia is non-aligned. But neither of these arguments, both of doubtful validity, explains why Britain has an agreement, and we have none.
Nothing could be more dangerous to Australia’s position in Asia, nothing could better substantiate Indonesia’s suspicions about our attitude, than that we should base the legality of our actions on a British agreement. It has been argued against the case of the Labour Party on this matter that the Malaysian High Commissioner here in Australia has said, “ Malaysia does not want such an agreement” - as if this closed the argument. But what the Labor Party is concerned about is what is right for Australia. It is a matter of what Australia wants. It is a matter of the conditions which an Australian government should seek before it asks Australian boys to shed their blood in a war with Indonesia over Malaysia.
The fallacy that no agreement with Malaysia is necessary because Malaysia is a member of the Commonwealth brings me to the second false assumption on which the Government’s policy appears to be based. That false assumption springs from an obsolete view of Britain’s role in South East Asia. Any policy based on the assumption that Britain is, or may be, or can be, or wishes still to be a military power in SouthEast Asia is bound to fall to the ground. If President Sukarno is foolish enough to believe otherwise, there is no reason why Australia should compound that folly. If the present British Government is foolish enough to believe otherwise, then powerful and persuasive supporters of that Government know differently. The most powerful Conservative organ in the world, the “ Times “ of London-
– 1 do.
– Do you, really?
– 1 do because it praises you. It must be very Conservative if it praises you every time you make a speech in London.
– It has reported me for years. It is the greatest antiConservative journal in England.
– I leave it to the Conservatives of England and the Conservatives of Australia to settle among themselves the argument as to how anti-Conservative the London “ Times “ is. But that journal has just published a series of articles that are so important that they have even introduced our own Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to quote Shakespeare in attempted refutation. The author of those articles, used the pen name “ A Conservative “. Of course, there are no Conservatives in Australia. They are ashamed of that title here. They call themselves Liberals. But (his writer calls himself “ A Conservative “, and he is suspected to be Mr. Enoch Powell, who served in the Macmillan Government but declined office under Sir Alec DouglasHome. He said this -
That British troops are deployed in Borneo in 1964 is as fantastic as it sounds; only a state of national hallucination could account for it. It came about because in the course of liquidating the inheritance of Rajah Brooke and the North Borneo Company we created something called “ Malaysia “ to be “ independent within the Commonwealth “. Then out of force of habit, because there used to be a British Empire in the
Far East until Japan poked an irreverent finger through it, we committed ourselves to the defence of this same Malaysia - something we are totally incapable of guaranteeing from the moment it is threatened.
The Conservative writer went on to say - “The independent development of these countries, socially and politically as well as economically, can be as much or more prejudiced by this neo-colonialism - which is not always more innocent on the non-communist than on the communist side - as by old-style imperialism.”
I suggest that the House should keep in mind the author of these statements, a highly-respected English Conservative, and the forum from which he spoke - a leader of British Conservative opinion writing by invitation in the most influential Conservative journal in the world. At least, that is how I regard the “ Times “. But whether it is Conservative or not, it is one of the most influential journals in the world. Nobody, not even the Prime Minister, will doubt that.
– I doubt it. I deny it.
– If you say it three times, I will ask the cock to crow. I suggest that any policy based on an assumption of actual British power, or likely British behaviour, in our area must bear closely in mind opinions such as those expressed in that article.
I resent the manner in which the British Government has used the British press in an effort to bully Australia into a certain course of action. I resent even more, the idea of a discredited Tory Government, which has lost all moral authority to speak for Great Britain, presuming to tell Australia what to do. And again I come back to my theme: Whatever we do in support of Malaysia, let us do it because it is best for Australia, not on any false proposition of what is best for British capital, or on any false assumption of British power or interest in this area.
Finally, I come to the last apparent false assumption - the Government’s misguided expectations as to the American commitment on this issue.
The Minister for External Affairs said in Sydney on Friday that an Indonesian attack on Australian servicemen in Malaysia would come within the terms of the Anzus Treaty. That is fair enough, but
If the Minister’s view is correct, then obviously the United States was committed as far back as 25th September last year, because on that day the Prime Minister gave an undertaking, which, if it meant anything, meant that Australian troops would be involved. If what the Minister said last Friday was true, it must have been true on 25th September, 1963.
ATe we now asked to believe that it has taken seven months for the Government to discover that there is an American obligation to the defence of Sarawak, and North Borneo under Anzus just because Australian troops are stationed in those areas or are to be stationed there? Or, has it taken America seven months to discover that it is so much more unequivocably committed in 1964 than it was in 1963 without any alteration to the Anzus Pact? Yet every action which the United States has taken in this matter makes it plain that the Administration does not wish to be involved directly, and does not believe that its obligation
So concerned was the American Administration to make clear beyond misunderstanding its views on just how far America would go that when ‘Mr. Robert Kennedy made his tour of South-East Asia recently, he did not include Canberra in his itinerary. And at the completion of his visits to all the other countries involved in this dispute - including Britain - he said, speaking for the Johnson Administration, “ The Malaysian dispute will be solved by Asia, in an Asian way “. To put it quite bluntly, the American Government just does not see the Malaysian dispute as coming under Anzus, or even involving it, even though two of the three signatories, ourselves and New Zealand, have given definite commitments to Malaysia. lt is most important to point out that America would not allow Britain into Anzus because the United States was not prepared to underwrite the stability of the remnants of British colonialism in SouthEast Asia. The Minister for External Affairs was told that in Washington, and so was the Prime Minister, just as I was. Churchill fumed about that refusal, and Dr. Evatt supported Churchill, but Mr. Spender, now Sir Percy Spender, signed up for Australia without Britain being included. America did not particularly want an Anzus pact, but agreed to join to secure Australia’s agreement to a soft peace treaty with Japan. The former Minister for Immigration, who resigned his portfolio and has also resigned from this Parliament, voted against the ratification of the Japanese peace treaty.
The Minister for External Affairs said on Friday -
The treaty says’ the United States and other members will take action.
Asked if this would happen automatically, he said -
There is nothing automatic. You can have an automatic obligation, and that attaches automatically, but the activities are not automatic in any treaty.
That is just so much jargon. It is true that under treaties you can have automatic obligations, but it is absurd to suggest that the United States has, under Anzus, the kind of obligation that the Minister is attempting
to impose upon it, and about which he is trying so desperately to mislead the Australian people.
To clinch the matter, let it be remembered that last year the Government saw fit to seek, and America saw fit to give, a specific assurance that an attack on New Guinea would be regarded as an attack upon Australia. If the Minister’s interpretation with regard to Borneo is correct, why on earth was it necessary to have such an assurance over New Guinea, where our rights and responsibilities are absolutely beyond question, and not have to require one for Borneo? The question arises: Whom was he trying to fool? Was it the Indonesians? Was it the Americans? On all the evidence available, he was trying to hoodwink the Indonesians and browbeat the Americans. The Indonesians are shrewd enough, and the Americans honorable enough, to understand the facts without the aid of an exercise in distortion from the Minister when he arrived last week-end on the tarmac at Mascot.
If the Minister was trying to fool the Australian people into believing that we will receive automatic support from the United States, then he has been guilty of trying to play an unpardonable confidence trick upon them. It amounts to pretending that our situation is much less dangerous than it actually is. But the most probable explanation is that he is merely fooling himself. And this is the most appalling idea of all, because it means that our actions are based on the assumption of automatic American assistance - a false assumption which, as I have already pointed out, must inevitably lead to dangerously false conclusions.
The Minister has much to explain. His new-found role of casuistical and evasive expression does not suit him. It may help him to the leadership of the Liberal Party, but it could lead Australia to defeat and humiliation before that. I have no objection to him sharing the vanity and ambition of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt); but he should not degrade a fine intellect by imitating the Treasurer’s folly. If I might give the Minister some advice, let me say that he should remember what must have been the first lesson he learnt at the bar which he has so greatly distinguished.
That lesson is: Learn your brief. The Minister has not learnt his brief; otherwise he could not have made such a statement as he did last Friday, when he returned to Australia from the Seato meeting.
The United States has a very important role to play in this international dispute. But its part is not specifically as a member of Anzus, or Seato, or as Britain’s closest ally. America’s role is to bring all her great power and influence to bear to secure the peaceful settlement of the dispute among our nearest neighbours. That power and influence is not enhanced, but rather is embarrassed, by such statements as the Minister has made and is still making.
Let me sum up: We Australians should regularize our commitment to Malaysia by a formal agreement. Pending such agreement, our commitment to Malaysia remains firm; but Australia must retain the right to grant aid as she sees fit. The Labour Party’s declaration of support remains unchanged since 25th September, when I first enunciated it. With the permission of honorable members I incorporate that declaration in “ Hansard “. It reads -
The Labour Party supports the concept of Malaysia and welcomes its creation. We believe that this experiment in nationhood should be given its chance, free from attack or interference from other nations, to prove itself.
I think it is worth while pointing out at the beginning that Malaysia is indeed an experiment. For the various States which form it, it is an attempt to secure economic and political stability, and to find some acceptable means of enabling the peoples to live together despite very difficult and complex internal tensions and problems. For Britain, it is an attempt to leave former colonies in such a condition that they possess some prospect of economic and political viability. Those who welcome the end of colonialism should welcome the beginning of this latest independent State.
We should re-appraise the situation in order to clear our minds of any false ideas about British power, interests or intentions in Malaysia. We should assist United States diplomacy in its present endeavours to secure a peaceful settlement of the dispute, preferably through the United Nations. We should refrain from fatuous, futile and embarrassing attempts to involve the United States of America directly under Anzus. We should match our military aid with a vigorous diplomatic endeavour. We should assist Malaysia’s efforts to bring the dispute to the United Nations. And above all, we must give our diplomacy the strength it must have if it is to possess any real meaning. We must give this country the adequate, efficient, effective defence forces it needs. It never has had, in the past fourteen years, and does not now have, such forces. We must make it plain beyond question to Indonesia not only have we the will to resist aggression but that we intend to acquire the power, which we lack to-day, to do so.
At this moment, Australia is united in its determination to resist aggression from Indonesia or from any other nation should it ever occur. But we have not the power, at present, to give effect to that national will. There is something inherently ridiculous in the spectacle of a nation sending two minesweepers to Borneo waters as part of a British command, and promising two more a month or so later, while the Royal Navy sends a destroyer across the seas to multiply our destroyer strength by 33 J per cent. It is all the more startling that this is happening at a time when Indonesia has announced that she will receive from Russia ten more naval vessels, including three destroyers and a tanker. There is no question of an arms race with Indonesia. We simply lack the defences that common prudence demands.
There has been much talk from Ministers about the need for national unity. Unity cannot be commanded; it must be worked for. A government which wavers, as this one does, between complacency and truculence, cannot hope to achieve unity. This Government will never lead Australia in unity, any more than the Menzies Government in 1941 was able to do so. That Government led Australia to disunity and nearly to disaster. A government which withholds from the people of Australia the frankness and trust which they deserve cannot expect to command unity. Above all, the Australian people will only unite behind government policies when they are certain that those policies have one overriding aim - the pursuit of Australia’s legitimate interests and the maintenance of Australia’s security. Convince them that that is your sole aim, and there is no sacrifice the Australian people will not make and there will be no limits to their loyalty.
This Government has not yet made that effort. Therefore, it has not yet gained the right to that national unity which it claims to seek. In the dark and terrible days of twenty years ago. a Labour government sought and achieved unity and sacrifice in abundant measure. The nature of our Australian people has not changed since then. But the character of the nation’s leaders has, 1 fear, changed profoundly.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) from making his speech without limitation of time.
– Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by apologizing to those members on my own side who have been preparing their ideas for this debate; but I think they will understand that, the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) having made a highly objective and informative statement and having been met by the most astonishing political farrago, it seems necessary for me to say just a little about it. I must say that as an historian - particularly in his history of the conversations that he said he had - the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is in the highest class of writers of fiction. I happen to know some of the people with whom be professed to have talked and whom he professed to quote, and 1 say without hesitation that the picture he has given to this House in those respects has been completely false. But the Leader of the Opposition is very hard to please. It was only in February, 1962, that, flushed with a near-success at the election at the end of 1961, he wanted to attack Indonesia. He secured great support in certain press quarters for his powerful statements against appeasement and for attacking Indonesia. At that time he described the President of Indonesia in very strong terms. He was all against Indonesia. He was in favour of some form of military action against Indonesia over West New Guinea; whatever the rest of Asia might say; and to-day he has gone all around the compass.
If what he has said to-night means anything, it means that he has rather a sneaking regard for Indonesia. When he refers to Tunku Abdul Rahman, one of the great free statesmen in South-East Asia, as being affronted or petulant - these are the very words he used about the Tunku - then ! can only come to the conclusion that he is not very favorably disposed to the head of the
Government of Malaysia. So far from encouraging the idea that this country ought to stand by the promise I made on its behalf not so long ago, the Leader of the Opposition appears to be suggesting that now we had better think again. He asks, “Why should we back up this petulant and affronted man? What is all this about? Why do you want to prop up decadent Britain in South-East Asia? Why do you want to rely on the United States of America, when I had a conversation with somebody which puts some limitation on it? “ Really, Sir, one must admire the honorable gentleman’s versatility. There he was, one way; here he is, in exactly the opposite way.
The honorable gentleman is very hard to please. This troubles me, because I have been at great pains for years to please him. It is very disappointing to me He - or some body who gave him the thought - even had to say to my distinguished colleague, whom he complimented for the express purpose of affronting the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) - we all are familiar with that technique - - “ You must learn your brief “. I am prepared to admit that the honorable gentleman had a brief, and I also am prepared to admit that if he did not learn it, he read it. But whether he ever understood it is a different matter. Whether he ever believed in it also is a different matter. Some day when we are both out of a job and I have a few quiet months. I will give him a little advice on these matters. I will tell him that, at any rate, even if you have a bad case you must try to sound as if you like it. To-night he had a bad case, but if I may say so with respect, he did not even try.
What did the honorable gentleman say? He said nothing about Seato that matters. He said nothing about the report of my distinguished colleague that would warrant my devoting five minutes to it. But he kept referring to the question of Malaysia, our relations with Malaysia and our relations with the United States, and he left all of us in such a jumbled state of mind that I will defy anybody in what I regard as the sane belt of the Opposition-
– Am I included in that?
– You are a capitalist now. You are now on my side. I will defy anybody in what I call the sane belt of the Opposition to tell me in a feu words hereafter what the point was. The Leader of the Opposition very courteously had me provided with the notes of his speech and so I am at some advantage - I acknowledge that - compared with other honorable members. It seemed to me that after a few picturesque remarks about a house built upon sand, which reminded me frightfully of the Labour Party, the honorable gentleman’s speech went on to concentrate its argument, if I may so dignify it, into three propositions. First, he said I believe that the Government has pledged itself in a completely false relationship with the Government of Malaysia “. That is a very interesting charge to make. It is not a charge that would be made in Malaysia. It is not a charge that emerges from Kuala Lumpur. It is not a charge that emerges from - what are the words? - the affronted and petulant Tunku, the great man who is the head of the Government of Malaysia. It emerges from somewhere on the other side. It is a very interesting matter.
I will take leave to remind all honorable members - perhaps some were not here when this occurred - of the precise terms of the statement I made, not in an idle moment but on the considered view of the Government of this country and, I would have thought, with the unanimous support of the then members of this Parliament. The words were these -
But for the benefit of all concerned, honorable members would not wish me to create or permit any ambiguity about Australia’s position in relation to Malaysia. I therefore, after close deliberation by the Cabinet, and on its behalf, inform the House that we are resolved, and have so informed the Government of Malaysia, and the Governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand and others concerned, that if, in the circumstances that now exist, and which may continue for a Jong time, there occurs, in relation to Malaysia or any of its constituent States, armed invasion or subversive activity - supported or directed or inspired from outside Malaysia - we shall to the best of our powers and by such means as shall be agreed upon with the Government of Malaysia, add our military assistance to the efforts of Malaysia and the United Kingdom in the defence of Malaysia’s territorial integrity and political independence.
I did not hear anybody say at the time that this was a loose or ambiguous statement. Of ali the statements that I have been called on to make as head of a government, I thought this the most precise. And it is precise. What has happened, of course, is that we have acted on the words “ by such means as shall be agreed upon with the Government of Malaysia “. I am happy to tell the House that we are in the closest contact with the Government of Malaysia, daily through our High Commissioner and regularly by other means, and that whatever we have announced - we have now made two announcements about this matter - has been done in response to a direct request from the Government of Malaysia after highly expert discussions between the Malaysian military and officials and our own military and officials. We have on each occasion, T am happy to say, been able to agree to provide what we were invited to provide. All this has been done under this publiclyaccepted obligation. Yet the Leader of the Opposition says that this Government has placed itself in a completely false relationship with the Government of Malaysia.
I have disposed of the idea that this means that there is some misunderstanding between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of Australia. Obviously, there is none. Perhaps what the honorable gentleman means is that we have entered into obligations that put us in a false position, or, in short, that we have entered into obligations that we should never have entered into. If what the Leader of the Opposition said does not mean that, what does it mean? I very frequently have a burning sense of inquisitiveness about what he means. If what he has said this evening does not mean that, what does it mean? If it means what I have described, it means that the honorable gentleman challenges the commitment to Malaysia made by this country. Indeed, there would be no novelty about that, because, though he stopped short of actually challenging our commitment during the last general election campaign, he went to some pains to demonstrate that he would not have done things in that way but would have had a treaty or done something or other that he well knew to be impossible. So much for that, Sir. I have disposed of the first proposition put by the Leader of the Opposition. I do not want to take up too much time on this.
– Hear, hear!
– If I were in the honorable member’s place, I too would say, “ Hear, hear! “
The Leader of the Opposition’s second proposition, which refers to the Government, is in these terms -
Secondly, it is acting on completely obsolete notions of the situation of Great Britain.
Funnily enough, every now and then I wonder whether the honorable gentleman cares very much for Great Britain. I do not know whether he does. He elaborated this point by saying -
Any policy based on the assumption that Britain is, or may be, or can be, or wishes still to be a military power in South-East Asia is bound to fall to the ground.
Who said that Great Britain had ambitions to become once more a great military power in South-East Asia? We all know the events that have occurred in history, and we know jolly well that Great Britain, when she gives independence and self-government to a country, as she did to Malaya in the most peaceful process in history, does not run away from the responsibility of protecting that new government against assault while it is still young. That fact of history cannot bc disposed of in the easy, airy-fairy way in which the Leader of the Opposition seeks to dispose of it.
What the honorable member said then is much worse for Australia. He went on -
If President Sukarno is foolish enough to believe otherwise, there is no reason why Australia should compound that folly.
What does that mean? It means that the honorable member is saying to Sukarno - who needs no encouragement to threaten and bluster: “ Pay no attention to the British, because they have no hope of being a military power here. Ignore any pretence by them that they are coming to the aid of Malaysia.” What kind of Australianism is this? I am happy to say that it is a new kind for most of us.
The third proposition that the Leader of the Opposition put - referring again to this Government - was stated in these terms - it has a completely false understanding of the United States role and commitment in the Malaysia-Indonesia dispute.
That is a pretty bold statement. The honorable gentleman professed to reinforce it by saying - with some boldness, I must add - 1 was informed by Governor Harriman, the United States Assistant Secretary of State, at
Kirribilli House . . . that America does believe that its commitment does include the protection of Australian troops already in Malaya.
What does that mean? What is that designed to convey to the public? It is designed to convey to them that the Anzus Pact will apply to the Australian troops already in Malaya at the time when the honorable gentleman saw Mr. Harriman last year but not to those who may go into Malaysia in future. This is a monstrosity, lt is utterly untrue. 1 say quite frankly, speaking as an old friend of Averell Harriman, and as a man who has discussed the Anzus Pact with him time after time, that I do not believe a word of this.
– Not even if the honorable member who interjects said it would I believe a word of it. I hope that honorable members will follow closely what I am saying. This means that the Leader of the Opposition is telling us that the United States of America, speaking through a responsible officer, at a meeting in Sydney, declared that it limited its assistance and obligations at a particular date to the people then in Malaya as members of the Australian forces. This is an insult to the intelligence of the representatives of the United States. It can be disposed of very simply, of course, as I now propose to dispose of it, but by reminding the honorable members of the sequence of events. From the public point of view in Australia, it is important that this be clearly understood.
What hase been the sequence of events? First of all, Malaysia was created. This federation was something new. It was composed of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and British North Borneo, or Sabah. At one time, it was hoped that Brunei would be in the federation. Malaysia was created primarily on the initiative of Tunku Abdul Rahman. He spoke to me about the idea of a Federation of Malaysia a couple of years before this happened. The federation was his conception, and it was created. Having been created, Sir, its validity , was challenged by Sukarno - by Indonesia. The Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed a mission to discover whether the proposed federation was in accordance with the will of the people of Sarawak and Sabah. The mission reported, after investigation, that it was.
Malaysia was recognized by the United Nations. It is recognized as a member of the Commonwealth. It has as much status in each of those communities as has the Commonwealth of Australia and it is our sister country in the Commonwealth. Malaysia was recognized in this way. It was then challenged by Indonesia in what is called a policy of confrontation. This is not merely making threatening noises but is a matter of infiltration along the borders and making trouble while the going is good.
It was in those circumstances that it became quite clear that something had to be done if Malaysia were not to be abandoned. Great Britain, having given Malaysia its freedom and having agreed to the creation of Malaysia, entered into an agreement with Malaysia by which it extended military defence to it. For this, Great Britain has been rewarded by being told that this is neo-colonialism. So it is neo-colonialism, is it, if a nation sets free a former colony, endows it with independence and assists it to set up its own constitution - Australia’ helped Malaya with its constitution - and then says “ We are old friends. If somebody challenges your existence, we are prepared to help you “?
We have, as I have pointed out - I do not need to repeat it - joined in on this matter. We are a fellow member of the Commonwealth. When the question arose as to whether Malaysia was to be threatened by somebody else, this was obviously and instantly a matter for discussion between the United States of America and ourselves, Great Britain and so on. The United States of America did not ever withdraw it3 support for Malaysia. It has approved of Malaysia and has recognized Malaysia, and it wants Malaysia to be maintained. But I very well remember America saying to us - I took no exception to it; I thought it was pretty sensible - that when it came to rae immediate defence of Malaysia this was perhaps primarily a Commonwealth responsibility, because we are all members of the Commonwealth together. I would not quarrel with that. The Government has not quarrelled with it.
When we get to the next step, which is what happens if in the course of this defence of Malaysia we face a genuine attack on the territorial integrity or political independence of Malaysia - a matter which invokes our promise - I want to remind the House and the people of the terms of the Anzus Treaty. My friend opposite has been at great pains to try to create some doubt about this and to sophisticate it in some way. The Anzus Treaty was made in the time of my own Government in 1952. I very well recall that it excited very little approval on the Opposition side of the House. It was thought to be too regional in its character. But it was agreed to and it was ratified in this Parliament and it was ratified in the Congress of the United States of America. May I, at the risk of wearying the House, read just two important operative provisions in it? The treaty is between the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Article IV reads -
Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on any of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.
Of course this should be in accordance with constitutional processes. Very few countries go automatically into a state of war. They all have certain procedures to go through but, subject to constitutional processes, which can operate here just as much as they can anywhere else, there is a clear statement that the parties will act to meet the common danger in accordance with their constitutional processes. The article goes on -
Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.
Article V reads -
For the purpose of Article IV, an armed attack on any of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of any of the Parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacfic or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.
Those words do not produce automatic hostilities, because reference is made to constitutional processes, but they contain in the clearest terms a high-level acceptance of responsibility. It is not for us to assume that any great ally of ours will avoid that any more than we will avoid it. It is a great mistake to talk dogmatically of what the United States of America will do. All I point out to the House is that this is the treaty, and never has one word been said to this Government or any member of it by any member of the American Administration, from the President down, to water down or weaken the force and significance of that treaty. Consequently, without conducting extravagant ideas as to when, how and what forces will be involved - 1 do not profess to engage myself in these matters - 1 merely point out to the House that if we want to have a sensible, balanced view of the international position of this country it is essential that we should understand the nature, terms and significance of the Anzus Treaty.
The Leader of the Opposition, seeking to whittle this down, rather incautiously, I thought, said that if this is the effect of the Anzus Treaty, as it clearly is, why do we have to ask the United States of America for a special guarantee about Australian Papua and New Guinea. The answer is that we do not. We have always assumed that, whatever else it applied to, it applied to our side of New Guinea. The United States of America, of course, has always said, “ We do not argue about it.” That is a perfectly clear case. Indeed, I think the last statement made on it was made in New Guinea, without any solicitation by us, by the distinguished Ambassador for the United States who, being up there, pointed out that this came within the covenant of the Anzus Treaty. I have no hesitations about this; I have no doubts about it. I am not going to have anybody in the United States of America think that we are trying to force the cards. We are not. 1 am not going to have anybody in the United States of America believe that we are trying in a rather cheap way to involve the United States in something. We have too much respect for the United States to resort to any such strategy. We have too much faith in its friendship for this country lo feel that it is necessary to involve it. All I do is point out, as I am sure any .member of the American Administration would, that there is a contract between Australia and America. It is a contract based on the utmost goodwill, the utmost good faith and unqualified friendship. Each of us will stand by it.
.- The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) commenced his speech by indulging in the same practice as he deplored on the part of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). That is, he quoted a statement by the Leader of the Opposition on Indonesia two years ago. I would have thought that anything that the Leader of the Opposition had said then or earlier on Indonesia would have borne favourable comparison with what the right honorable gentleman himself has said on Indonesia over the years.
The West New Guinea problem was a matter which arose and was concluded entirely during the term of the present Government. The right honorable gentleman spoke on it only a few times but on each occasion his proposals miscarried. Three years ago he said that Australia’s principal concern in West New Guinea was the matter of self-determination. Yet only a couple of years before that he had cut the ground from under that argument by saying that if Indonesia and the Netherlands were to refer their dispute to the International Court of Justice. Australia would be happy with the decision of the court. If Indonesia and the Netherlands came to a peaceful agreement on the disposal of West New Guinea, again Australia would be satisfied with that agreement. Neither in the case of a court decision nor in the case of an agreement would the principle of selfdetermination have been vindicated. The right honorable gentleman’s policies throughout the twelve years during which his Government had to deal with the problem of West New Guinea were neither consistent nor fruitful. Therefore, one can question his attitude on Indonesia now.
We must learn from the mistakes which the Australian Government - the Menzies Government - and British governments have made in their attitudes to Indonesia, the first issues in which Australia has had to take a direct interest and a leading role. Before the Prime Minister spoke three years ago the question of self-determination was always relegated to a subsidiary role. Lord Casey, as he is now, wrote a book called ’ Friends and Neighbours “. In the first edition he never mentioned the matter of self-determination for West New Guinea. The question of West New Guinea arose in the *United Nations on three occasions - in 1954, 1956 and 1957. At each session representatives of the Menzies Government took a leading part in preventing the twothirds majority which would have enabled the United Nations to deal with the problem. There was always a majority in the United Nations in favour of dealing with the problem but the necessary two-thirds majority was not obtained.
The right honorable gentleman and the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) placed constant and proper emphasis on our alliances - our relations with our allies and our Commonwealth associates, lt is well to recall that whenever the question of West New Guinea arose in the United Nations the Australian Government’s attitude was never supported by the United States Government. The United States Government always took an uncommitted attitude in relation to West New Guinea. The fact that the United States Government took an uncommitted attitude on the subject emerges quite plainly from the fact that America’s other allies, particularly at that time in Latin America, were equally divided on the issue. Not only did America appear to be non-committed; she was genuinely non-committed. Again, Australia’s Seato allies - Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines - always took a different attitude to Australia. Malaya, after it was admitted to the United Nations, always took a different attitude. Most Commonwealth countries - certainly all of those in Africa and Asia - took an attitude different to that adopted by Australia.
I have examined in some detail the history of this Government’s attitude to Indonesia to show that its judgment cannot be relied on. The right honorable gentleman’s judgment in this matter cannot be relied on. His Government’s alliances, his own and his Ministers’ close relations with allies and leading figures in other countries and all the name dropping to which he is prone never in fact availed our country one bit. His Government’s policies were fruitless and friendless. Can one say, therefore, that his attitude to Indonesia or any of our neighbours is now less fallible than his attitude in relation to West New Guinea? Any comparison between what the right honorable gentleman and the Leader of the Opposition have said about
Indonesia in the twelve years since the West Irian problem was before the world will prove to be to the disadvantage of the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister’s attitude to-night was a purely dialectic one. Australia finds itself in a position where hostilities are a possibility and where the continuation of tension is a very definite probability, but the right honorable gentleman treats the whole problem as if it was just an occasion to score debating points. He insinuated that the Leader of the Opposition referred to decadent Britain. The Leader of the Opposition used no such phrase; he used no phrases from which such a description could be derived. The right honorable gentleman queried whether the Leader of the Opposition still cared for Britain. There should be no doubt from anything that the Leader of the Opposition said on this occasion or on any previous occasion that he cares for Britain - that he admires her political, economic and international attitudes. But we in Australia must realize that Britain’s attitudes on Malaya and Malaysia are not necessarily infallible. Indeed, many of the features of the present Malaysian problem are due to Britain’s impatience and mistakes.
Can anybody justify now the attitude that Mr. Sandys took on the size of the observer teams and the facilities for the observer teams in Sarawak and Sabah? Are we being in any way anti-British if we question the wisdom or the dexterity of this British Conservative Minister in the last year? Again, can we condone the attitude that Britain adopted towards the claim of the Philippines to Sabah? The most superficial knowledge of Philippine affairs, and particularly of President Macapagal should have made it obvious that he took this matter seriously and that it was a matter which the Philippines was likely to take seriously.
– That is not necessarily a true statement.
– The honorable member for Chisholm knows that President Macapagal had taken a personal, professional and successful interest in the dispute between the Philippines and Britain over the Turtle Islands.
– He strongly supports Malaysia, without reservation.
– He has never said so.
– Are you sure that he has not, or is that another invention?
– The honorable gentleman should clean up the matters in his own bailiwick; there are plenty of things for him to explain. I answered the honorable member for Chisholm because he takes a close interest in these matters and takes the opportunity to investigate them on the spot. The plain fact is that the Philippines - particularly the Philippines President - took seriously the claim of the Sabah, and the British ignored it and brushed it off.
We live in the shadow of British attitudes to this problem. Australia aims to stay for ever in this area; Britain does not aim to stay for ever in this area. Britain very properly gave Malaya its independence. She thought it would be as easy to emancipate and federate her colonies in Borneo as in Africa. The fact that Britian sought a federal solution for the Borneo problem docs not make that automatically the correct solution. I am not saying that it is not the correct one. Faced with a choice between remaining British colonies and becoming part of the Malaysian Federation, the public men and citizens of Sabah and Sarawak made it plain that they wanted to join Malaysia. The United Nations recognizes Malaysia and found that it is properly constituted and that the test of public opinion was valid. Nevertheless, do not let us depend too much on the Government’s two arguments: First, that the Menzies Government’s relations with our allies have always been clear in this issue, for they have not been successful on the biggest issue that has arisen hitherto; and secondly, that Britain’s policies have always been sound, for Britain’s conduct on Malaysia has not been altogether wise or successful.
The big immediate issue about Malaysia is opposition to external subversion and to aggression. There should be no doubt that Australians will help in resisting that aggression. The other matter is the dispute between Malaysia and its neighbours. Here Australia can use its good offices. Outside countries can quell outbreaks of violence. It is in the interests of all countries that aggression should be deterred and prevented and that overt externally inspired subversion should be deterred and prevented. But we have to face the fact that disputes between nations can only be solved by thos; nations themselves. The world community can set rules and keep the peace; only individual nations can decide the nature of their mutual contacts and contracts. The prevention of aggression is of world concern; the settlement of disputes is of regional concern.
As long as we restrict the prevention of aggression and overt externally-inspired subversion to Britain, New Zealand and Australia, the position in Malaysia will appear to be a neo-colonialist one. 1 am not saying that it is a neo-colonialist position; but it will appear so to all too many countries. I myself do not think - 1 am sure my party does not - that the issue of self-determination in West Irian was just a neo-colonialist device; but a great number of countries thought it was. Those countries included our Commonwealth partners, our Seato allies in this area and Malaya itself. If there is to be a stop to aggression or overt externally-inspired subversion, that aggression or subversion must be resisted and exposed and understood on as wide a basis as possible.
Under the Anzus Treaty, which the Prime Minister quoted, if there is an armed attack on any of the parties, the parties have to act in accordance with their constitutional processes. I would not think that the United States Congress would repudiate any action taken by the President in such a case. If it did, the alliances of the United States around the world would collapse and its honour would be impugned. Under the Anzus Treaty an armed attack on any of the parties must be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations. Why cannot that be done in respect of Malaysia? Under the Seato Treaty, to which the Prime Minister referred but from which on relevant issues he did not quote, aggression against any of the parties must be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations. Again I ask: Why is not that done in respect oi Malaysia?
I believe that one of the reasons why Britain, Australia and, above all, the principal country concerned - Malaysia - decline to refer this matter to the Security Council is that hitherto the issue might have appeared to be a neo-colonialist one, and as long as it so appears support in the
United Nations for Malaysia’s position will be minimized instead of being maximized. We ought to be able to take some part in this matter. We have shown an interest in it. Australia and Malaysia are partners in the Commonwealth of Nations. Australia is the nearest Commonwealth country to Malaysia. We ought to do our best to see that our attitude on this matter is properly understood. Our attitude on West Irian was not properly understood. In that matter Australia had the prime responsibility. It was the fault of the Australian Government that Australia’s attitude was not understood. If Malaysia’s position is not understood properly in the United Nations, that is the responsibility of Australia and the Menzies Government as much as of any other country or government.
If one points out that our relations with Malaysia are not sufficiently understood and are not sufficiently public and that the ground has not been sufficiently prepared, that is not to criticize our commitment to Malaysia; it is merely to say that we should learn from our mistakes in the past and we should do better from now on. No treaty remains perfect, however perfect it was at its inception. Very few treaties are perfect at their inception, but presumably they are the best that can be achieved at the time. One ought to learn from experience.
I have very little time left to deal with the Seato Treaty. The operation of this treaty in its tenth year was really the pretext for this debate to-night. The Minister for External affairs devoted himself to that subject, even if the Prime Minister got well away from it. It is true that the Labour Party has criticized Seato over the years - and quite properly so. There is not one signatory to the Seato Treaty who has not criticized it over the years.
– You want to tear it up.
– We do not. We have said we would not withdraw from it. We have said that the Seato Treaty entails economic and social commitments as well as military ones. This Government has never laid proper emphasis on those economic and social commitments. I ask the honorable and learned gentleman to read the preamble and Article III, where he will sec those commitments spelt out. This Government ignores them. We ought to learn from experience. The history of Seato has varied over the years in the same way as our relations with Malaya and Malaysia have varied and will vary over the years.
Seato was formed to contain China. In this statement on the operation of the treaty in its tenth year, the Minister for External Affairs omitted to state that two of the protocol states - Cambodia and Laos - and two of the signatories - Britain and Pakistan - voted in the last United Nations General Assembly for the admission of mainland China and that at the next General Assembly France will vote with them. In other words, one-half of the partners in Seato adopt a different attitude from that of the other half. The Philippines adopts an attitude to its neighbour Malaysia different from that adopted by all the other countries in Seato.
– And Pakistan.
– Pakistan has adopted an attitude to the Sino-Indian . dispute which is different from that adopted by the other members. France wishes to sec a political solution to the problem of Viet Nam; it envisages not merely the neutralization of South Viet Nam but a political solution of the whole problem. The Prime Minister did not refer to those matters. Changes in Seato are inevitable and should be anticipated.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) was wise to devote only two minutes of his twenty minutes to the subject under debate to-night - the South-East Asia Treaty Organization - because I recollect that prior to the last election the Labour Party wanted to turn Seato into an aliance for cultural exchanges between Australia and the other partners to the treaty. It wanted to withdraw from Seato as a military partner. However, I congratulate the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on the way in which he has been able, in the twenty minutes of his speech - a speech which should have been devoted to foreign affairs - to illustrate the truth of a statement made recently by the celebrated seer, prophet and historian of the British Labour
Party, Anthony Crosland. In a recent lecture Anthony Crosland said -
It is almost invariably a mistake for a left wing party to fight elections on foreign affairs and defence.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition illustrated clearly to-night why it is a mistake for a left wing party to go to the people with a policy on foreign affairs and defence, because his remarks were utterly confused and scattered and contained no clear vision of Australia’s needs in relation to either defence or foreign policy.
I rose to-night not to criticize the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition but to express my pleasure at the way in which Australia is asserting itself in South-East Asian affairs, as instanced by the speech made earlier by the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick). It is essential that Australia assert itself in the political affairs of the South-East Asian region, because no other country can assert itself as effectively as can Australia. The United States of America is inhibited because of its enormous wealth and strength. Great Britain is prevented from exercising the influence that it should exercise in this area because of its associations - past associations now - with colonialism. It is left to Australia to show the flag of parliamentary democracy, human dignity and the rights of the individual in this part of the world. We can be leaders in South-East Asia if we continue to do what we have started to do under the guidance of the Minister for External Affairs and the Government - that is, to assert ourselves and give a lead to the newly emerging countries of Asia.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to-night cast doubt on the good faith of Great Britain and the United States of America in coming to Australia’s aid if hostilities developed in the islands and on the mainland to our north. Putting this at its lowest level - I too shall quote the London “Times”, as did the Leader of the Opposition, to support my remarks - Great Britain has an investment in South-East Asia and Australasia of about £3,000,000,000. The writer of this “ Times “ article states -
In Britain, it goes without saying that assets on thi’s scale would be worth defending. There is no reason why their equivalent in Australia should be much less worth defending by Britons.
There are many other reasons, as the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) pointed out, why Britain will keep faith with her friends and allies in this South-East Asian area. Britain is tied to us very closely by sentiment, by tradition and by the fact that we are leading partners in the Commonwealth of Nations. Britain is tied to Malaysia by treaty as well as by other, invisible ties. There is no doubt, in my mind at least, that we can count on the full support of Great Britain should hostilities develop in the countries to our north. As to the United States of America, of course the United States will not back out of her treaty with Australia. As the Prime Minister stated, the treaty covers the actual defence of the Australian Military Forces, whether on the sea or on the land, outside Australia.
When he visited Australia recently the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, Mr. Roger Hilsman, was interviewed on television. He is reported in this way - “ The United States is deeply committed to the Anzus Treaty “, he said. “ The treaty calls for crertain action by signatories if the territory of any cf the nations involved is attacked or if attacks are made cm any of thentroops in the treaty area.”
Those remarks dispose completely of the allegation made by the Leader of the Opposition to-night that there was a loophole and that the United States would not come to our assistance if our troops were attacked in Malaysia. His suggestion was that the United States regarded itself as having been committed to support the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve in Malaya but was not committed now to support Australian troops in the larger area of Malaysia. The United States Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs had disposed satisfactorily of that argument. The report of the interview with Mr. Hilsman goes on -
Mr. Hilsman, speaking on television, was asked whether he considered Australia’s guarantee to Malaysia impinged on the Anzus Treaty and whether America would come to Australia’s aid if, in honouring the Malaysian undertaking, any of Australia’s metropolitan or island appendages were attacked. “ If there is aggression on Australian troops in the treaty area, then the United States would be committed to Australia’s aid “, be said. ] rose to-night to make this one point: Australia is now asserting itself in a positive fashion in this Asian sector of the globe in which it is situated. I am satisfied that that should be so. I look forward to Australia developing further its political policies to bring about stability and prosperity in this region. I repeat that Australia can do this when no other country in the world can.
It is no use regarding Australia as a junior partner, in a political sense, in the western alliance. It is certainly a junior partner in an economic sense and perhaps also in a social sense, but it is certainly not a junior partner in a political sense. Therefore we take our place as a full partner with our older associates, Great Britain and the United States of America. We are starting to realize that we should do so, and I am very pleased to see this happen.
.- 1 have great pleasure in joining in this debate. The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) sought to take the Opposition to task, saying that what we are debating is a statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) on the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. The fact is, of course, that that statement contained a direct reference to the Indonesia-Malaysia dispute in which the Minister pointed out just bow serious this dispute is. In fact, I would say that all Australia has awaited with great interest the statement that the Minister has now made. I think most Australians will be greatly disappointed. The Minister has been reported as saying in statements to the press that the position is most serious and that if it develops the consequences could be grave. The newspapers of Australia have reported the Minister’s statements and given the impression that we are on the brink of war. We have seen headlines such as “ Barwick at the Brink “ and “ This Goes Too Far “. I think this Parliament, and the Australian people, should have been told to-night just what the Minister meant when he made these statements about Malaysia and Indonesia, and when he commented upon our armed forces and said that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Hasluck) had arranged to go to Malaysia. We should have been told what he meant when he said that the United States Government would come to our aid.
At question time to-day the Minister dodged these questions. I think we were entitled to expect from him a clear and concise answer. He should have informed us whether he had been -told anything by representatives of the United States Government or whether he was just guessing. Does he mean that if Australian troops are stationed in Borneo and in a local activity some guerillas sneak across the border and we lose a couple of army personnel, we can expect the United States Army to come in and rush to the defence of Australia?
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) a few moments ago urged that this matter should be referred to the United Nations. That is where the Opposition stands. We believe in the United Nations. Why has not this matter gone to that organization? I asked a question along these lines of the Minister for External Affairs some weeks ago and he said that you just do not do these things against your friends, and that you must be sure that the position is understood by all those who are going to assemble at the United Nations. He said that you do not go there unless you have the numbers. To me this seems a strange situation. When a Labour Government was in office in Australia many years ago and the original dispute in Indonesia occurred involving the Netherlands Government, the Australian Labour Government took the initiative and brought the case to the United Nations. People talked about it. National representatives got together and after talking about the situation a solution was found. Why does not the Australian Government take the initiative now, if Malaysia is not prepared to do so? We have been involved in this dispute for a long time because we have pledged aid. We have stated what we are prepared to do. The position has not improved. In fact there has been a deterioration all along the line. It seems common sense to me, if Malaysia will not act, for the Australian Government to act.
After a question on this matter had been put on the Minister for External Affairs at question time on 19th March, I asked the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), whether he would suggest a conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, because I do not believe that all Commonwealth Prime Ministers support Malaysia. I do not think they really understand the position. The Prime Minister said he did not think there was much chance of a Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference being held because preparations are being made for an election in the United Kingdom. But this matter must be talked about. This dispute has to be brought to a conference table, whether at the United Nations or, as a first step, at a conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers.
– From your remarks it would seem that no conferences have been held.
– I think that a conference that could solve this problem or at least make a valid attempt to do so would be at the United Nations. We have faith in that organization. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said, the Anzus Treaty lays it down that if a dispute breaks out it must eventually be taken to the United Nations.
What does the Minister mean when he talks about this United States aid? The Sydney “ Daily Mirror “ ran an editorial on 17th April headed, “This Goes Too Far “. lt was in these terms -
Suddenly, desperately, without any adequate public preparation, Australia is committing herself to the second line in Borneo - in the lamentable near-warfare between Malaysia and Indonesia.
I think the reference to “ near-warfare “ is an understatement. Men are being killed in that area. For a long time this has been going on, and if it is not war when you kill men I just do not know what it is. But we will accept the “ Daily Mirror “ term “ near-warfare “. The editorial continued -
The Minister for Defence gets up unexpectedly in Parliament and announces the dispatch of army engineers to Borneo, R.A.N, minesweepers to the Malaysian coasts, and helicopters to the Thai border to release British helicopters for Borneo.
This runs close enough to outright military commitment to the Malaysian cause, well beyond the technical assistance promised in earlier Government statements. It brings Australia, all of a sudden, to the brink of hostilities with Indonesia.
What has happened in the last few days to induce the Menzies Government to swing so markedly toward direct involvement? Why has the earlier Barwick policy of playing it quietly been so roughly discarded? Why has the meek Hasluck reached for his unaccustomed armor?
As the Government hasn’t had the grace or the guts to tell us, or even prepare us, we can only assume that British pressures have finally prevailed in getting Australia involved directly in this tail-end colonial shemozzle which, wherever the ultimate justice may lie, appears to many millions of Asians as a European plot
Why is it that America, suddenly, has been called in? Why are we saying, suddenly, that America will come to our aid? I wonder if it is because this country is unable to defend itself, let alone go to the aid of a country that we are pledged to support. We are pledged to go to the aid of Malaysia; but with what? We have not even an adequate bomber force in Australia to-day. We lost a third of our Navy the other day as a result of a collision. We have no adequate defences in Australia. As I look across the chamber to-night I see the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), and I am reminded of his statement recently in this Parliament that some people in South-East Asia were wondering if we were fair dinkum when we made certain statements. I wonder whether, having committed ourselves to go to the aid of Malaysia, we now realize that if we are involved in this predicament we will need somebody to pull the chestnuts out of the fire, and should try to embroil the United States in the dispute because that country has an adequate fighting force and adequate armaments. Some months ago, the late President Kennedy took a calculated risk when he tackled Castro over Cuba, and the world trembled for a short time. It was undoubtedly a gamble, but when President Kennedy gambled he had cards to match the stakes. Here we have the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) “gambling with Australia’s future at a time when we have little with which to back up our arguments. Therefore, at this time when we are committing ourselves, this Parliament is entitled to know just what the Minister for External Affairs means when he says that America will come to our aid if we are attacked. Who has told him? Does he believe that under the Anzus treaty an isolated attack on Australia’s forces would be sufficient to bring the Americans into the dispute? I readily admit that if one of our ships were sunk or some other major incident occurred it might be a different proposition; but this guerrilla warfare has been going on for a long while and, with no solution in sight, we could be embroiled very seriously, as the Minister has stated. Already there has been some reaction from the Government of Indonesia. It has pointed out that if we come into this dispute completely we should not think that it will continue to be merely a local war.
We are now paying the penalty for the Menzies Government’s inaction on defence, as I have said before in this Parliament. It took an election to get the Government to make up its mind to do something about obtaining a replacement for the obsolete Canberra bomber. It still has no replacement, and it still has not decided whether it will accept the interim bomber that was offered to it by the United States Government. We have no air defence. If we were embroiled in a fight with Indonesia, the Indonesian air force could pay us a visit and return very smartly with the machines they have at their disposal. Our Canberra bombers could certainly get to Indonesia but they would find it difficult to get back. And while we are in this position, we are pledging great support to Malaysia! We are throwing our weight around. I believe that the Minister ought to come clean. He ought to tell us how serious the position is. He ought to tell us whether America has undertaken any firm commitments in this matter.
I have stated repeatedly in this House that I deplore the invasion of Malaysia by Indonesia. I believe that Malaysia is of tremendous importance to Australia and that we should do everything possible to assist her; but, at the same time, I believe we should also be doing more to assist Indonesia. Of course, we are already doing something. Honorable members will remember that when the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) asked some pertinent questions about aid to Indonesia a few days ago it was revealed that Australia was playing more than her part in handing out economic aid to Indonesia, and in training students and so on. But I think that a lot more can be done. For instance, on the secondary industry level and on the primary industry level we should do something not only for Indonesia but for all these underdeveloped countries.
– Why not buy textiles from them?
– The honorable member for Wakefield interjects. He knows full well the plight of the people of Indonesia. It is not the appeal of the Communist ideology that will drive people to revolution in order to achieve a better way of life, whether they live in India, Ceylon or anywhere else; what will drive them to revolution will be the need for something to fill their stomachs, and if we do not act quickly, it might be too late. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) spoke disparagingly of the reference by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to the question of independence. He stated that the United Kingdom Government had pressed forward in granting former colonies their independence. We know that only too well because it was the Attlee Labour Government in Great Britain that started the move. In 1947, the Attlee Government realized that something had to be done and done quickly. It took action and granted India her independence. India is now struggling valiantly in a democratic manner against terrific odds to feed her people, and if those of us who enjoy a very high standard of living do not get on with the job of providing assistance I do not know what the future will hold.
I say that the statement by the Minister for External Affairs to-night was most disappointing. This Parliament expected to be told and should have been told just how serious the Indonesian threat is. I am sure all of us would have been pleased if we had learned that at long last we were going to take the initiative, not only by sending armed forces to Malaysia, but by taking the dispute to the United Nations. If that were done at least there would have been some hope; but we are blundering on. We blundered in connexion with West Irian. On that occasion Indonesian diplomacy left ours far behind. I believe that if Australia had raised her voice loudly enough in the early years of the dispute, if she had impressed upon Washington and London the importance of New Guinea to Australia, we might have been able to have West Irian made a trust territory of the United Nations. But we did not impress those things upon our allies with the result that Indonesia is our border neighbour in that area and to-day the Indonesians are outmanoeuvring us on every flank.
We will not win the battle by going up and facing Indonesia with arms. In fact, Indonesia has more aeroplanes, more ships and more of the ordinary weapons of war than we have. She is better equipped than we are. Perhaps she does not have enough officers, but, strangely enough, we are training Malaysians and we are also training Indonesians. We are training Indonesian officers so that they in turn will be able totrain Indonesian soldiers who, if the position is a serious as the Minister tells us, may shortly engage in conflict with us, attack us and seek to destroy us. How silly it all is! I sincerely trust that very soon action will be taken by this country, by Malaysia, or any other country that is likely to be involved in the dispute, to have the matter placed before the United Nations, where the parties can sit down together and talk it over. If that is done then at least we shall stop the massacre that is taking place now. As I said earlier, it is war when people are being killed, as they are now in this dispute between Indonesia and Malaysia.
.- The speeches of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and those honorable members opposite who have followed him have been very sad to anybody who looks to the interests and welfare of Australia. It was perfectly clear from what he has said, and from what his supporters have said, that his party has no policy. His attempt to pretend that it has a policy has been completely ineffectual. As an example of the technique that he used in trying to conceal that unhappy fact, I mention his brief references to Seato, although those formed only a small part of what he had to say. He condemned Seato on three grounds. First, he said it was ineffective in that it had not succeeded in the containment of aggression by military means. Secondly, he said that its membership was unrepresentative of South-East Asia. He said that Malaysia, for example, was not a member. Thirdly, he said it was not equipped to combat aggression by economic and social means. All this smokescreen conceals the basic fact that where you dp have military aggression there is only one way to meet it, and that is by military means.
I well recall that before 1939 the Labour Party was telling us that the best way to meet Hitler’s aggression was slum clearance. It was claimed that you needed to have the people with you, and that this was the best way to meet the threat of fascism. Of course, when military aggression begins, slum clearance and social improvement are of not much advantage; what matters then is how many divisions you have. I mention the approach made by the Leader of the Opposition to Seato simply as an example of the way in which, by emphasizing some points, you can completely and deliberately miss the main point. The main point here is that you must have military means to combat military aggression. The other things are desirable, and more should be done about them, but to ignore the essential thing and to concentrate upon a lot of minor matters has been the means that the Leader of the Opposition has used to conceal the fact that the Opposition does not have a policy. 1 do not propose to say any more about the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition in regard to Seato, except to use them by way of illustration. The greater part of his speech was concentrated upon the issue of Malaysia. Again, it was quite clear that he did not have a policy. The question really is, in plain, simple, blunt terms: Does the Labour Party support the Government’s view that we should back the integrity of Malaysia by whatever means, including military means, that may be necessary? The Leader of the Opposition said that we have no precise obligation in regard to Malaysia itself, ignoring the fact that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had made a very precise statement. The only inference to be drawn from this statement by the Leader of the Opposition is that if we have not precise treaty obligations we can pull out of any vague obligations that we have. This is consistent with his attitude in regard to the British presence in South-East Asia. The British, he says, are simply birds of passage. What is the inference to be drawn from this? It is that we should not enter into any arrangements that involve an alliance with the British. Surely the implication is that as they are birds of passage we should not depend upon them.
The honorable gentleman referred to our relations with the United States of America and said, quite plainly, that the Anzus Treaty does not cover the Malaysian situation at all. In other words, we have no precise obligations in regard to Malaysia, so we can easily squirm out of the vague ones that we do have. The inference is thai we should not rely upon the British in
South-East Asia because they have no interest there, and that the Americans are not bound to us anyway. The implication in all this is that we should not play our part in the defence of Malaysia because it is too dangerous - the Americans will not be with us, the British will not be with us - and that we can easily get out of our obligations to Malaysia. Is not this the plain and straightforward implication in the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition, that is, if the speech means anything at all and is not simply a string of irrelevancies designed to cover up the lack of any policy at all in the Labour Party on this matter?
There is not time to persevere with this matter at this time of night. 1 could quote what the Prime Minister said in his policy speech in regard to Malaysia. His statement was quite precise. I could quote what was said by the leader of the Labour Party. That was imprecise. I could quote also what the leader of the Labour Party said in the Address-in-Reply debate a few weeks ago. That, again, was imprecise. But that does not matter, and there is no time for it at this stage. What I prefer to do is to ask what Australia’s concern in this issue is. It was Australia which, during the struggle for independence by the Indonesians, took their part. We have several reasons for remaining friendly with the Indonesians, if it can be done. We should remain friendly because they are our neighbours for all time, and because they are potentially a great and powerful neighbour. We have every reason to be friendly with them if they will permit it. But where we find a country - any country - that pursues a policy of expansionism, we have the sinking feeling in our hearts that we have seen this before. Our ancestors saw the expansion of France under Napoleon, and we know from our history books what happened then. That finished at Waterloo.
– There has been British expansion, too.
– I leave that as the special preserve of the honorable member. We saw in our own lifetime the expansion of Prussia in World War I. That ended, of course, in the Treaty of Versailles. This was in the time of our fathers. Then we saw the expansion of Hitler’s Germany.
This resulted in something in which many of us were involved, and which many of us remember quite vividly. So we have a sinking feeling, when we see a country bent upon expansionist policies, that this will end in disaster for thousands and perhaps millions of people. It makes us rather sick at heart. So we have a feeling that, although we have every reason for friendship with the Indonesians, they will not permit it to be so.
I think that what I have said represents the view of the ordinary Australian citizen, and I feel that it is important that what I have said should be stated in the course of a debate of this kind, because what is said in this chamber is no doubt studied in the chancelleries around the world, particularly in those that are relevant in this case. We want friendship with the Indonesians, but if they will not permit it we must make it clear that, as a people, we are resolute. I do not speak for the Government. I speak for merely myself, but I believe that I am representing the attitude of the Australian people. I can well remember the outbreak of World War II. We had seen the expansion of Hitler’s Germany into Austria and into Czechoslovakia, and finally the attack on Poland, that country having been threatened and bullied by Hitler for years. When war came at last, when we were in the last ditch, I can well remember going down to the local hostelry with a friend and saying: “ Thank God; now we know where we are. It had to happen, and now it has happened.”
I simply say that the Indonesians should not underestimate the resolve of Australians if they are finally driven to the point. We want friendship, but if they will not permit it then our resolve should not be misunderstood. What are the principles involved in this matter that affect us? Indonesia is the successor state to Holland, which administered the Netherlands East Indies. When Indonesia seized West Irian under conditions that caused us a great deal of apprehension because of its manner-
– With your blessing.
– Many felt that, as it was part of the Netherlands East Indies, as a successor State Indonesia might well have some claim to it. We did not like it. We did not wish to have a common boundary with Indonesia, but we could see that there might be some logic in its claim. Some people saw this point. But when the claim is for an area that has never formed part of the Netherlands East Indies - Sarawak and Sabah - it is another matter altogether and there is imported a completely different principle. No longer does the principle apply that Indonesia is a successor State. The principle now is that because the area is in an archipelago which includes the Indonesian islands, Indonesia is entitled to it. A completely different proposition is raised. It involves us, for example, in New Guinea where we wish to give an opportunity to the people to develop in freedom, as the British have tried to give an opportunity to the people of Malaysia to develop in freedom.
So we are bound to oppose a principle of this kind. If it were applied, for example, in Africa, and if the aspect of the new independent States being successor States to European countries were ignored, what a glorious position would arise there. Nigeria, for example, is split into three pieces. In effect, there is already a war in Somalia. If we are to forget about the old traditional boundaries, we sow the seeds of war throughout Africa. The position would be intolerable. Aggression has to be contained, and that is Australia’s interest in this part of the world. It is our interest in the Malaysian dispute; it is precisely that and nothing else.
The question is whether the Labour Party accepts this position, or whether it simply yammers about irrelevancies. Does the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), who is seated at the table, want to go back over the wickedness of the British Empire in the past, or would he prefer to give some thought to the magnanimity of the British in giving liberty to more millions of people in the last few years than has ever been given in the whole history of Europe?
– I just want to understand the point you are trying to make.
– I am afraid that I cannot make it any clearer to the honorable gentleman. We have not heard from the Labour Party whether it accepts this principle or whether it does not. The Opposition has simply yammered around the point.
Let us move to the question of our relationships with Malaysia, with Britain and with the United States. There is no need for me to say very much about our relationship with Malaysia because the Prime Minister has made it admirably clear by quoting his extremely precise words that if there is no treaty the arrangement is so precise that it needs nothing more. I shall say no more about it. As to our relationship with the British, again the Prime Minister has pointed out that they honoured their obligation to Malaysia because it was a colony which they had set free and whose freedom they wished to safeguard.
I should like to say a few words about our relationship with the United States. There is no need for me to quote here the admirable paper of Sir Alan Watt, “Australia’s Defence Policy 1951-53, Major International Aspects”. As all honorable members will remember, Sir Alan Watt was a very distinguished Australian diplomat. He was ambassador in Eastern and Western countries. He served in Japan and in Germany. At one time he was permanent head of the Department of External Affairs. Anybody who wishes to read his very careful analysis of the meaning of the Anzus Treaty and its value to Australia will see that there is no question that the Americans must regard themselves as bound. This is mutually advantageous not only to Australia but to the United States as well. It is made perfectly clear and I merely say to the honorable member for Hindmarsh, who is attempting to interject, thai he would be well advised to read this paper.
I wish to quote from a report which appeared in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of 29th January, 1964. It is right to the point raised by the Leader of the Opposition. The report states -
America would come to Australia’s aid if Australia were attacked while honouring its undertaking to defend Malaysia, Mr. Roger Hilsman said last night. Mr. Hilsman is United Stales Assistant Secretary of State for the Far East.
He is a pretty high official and a spokesman whose words carry some weight.
– It still has to get through Congress.
– I hope that the honorable member will make a speech. The report states -
If there is aggression on Australian troops in the treaty area then the United States would be committed to Australia’s aid, he said.
That is a very precise statement by a leading spokesman and I think it disposes of the matter.
As I understood the concluding words of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, and also the speech of the Deputy Leader of (he Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), their idea is to escape from any obligation we might have to Malaysia because we cannot depend on the British and the Americans. The idea is to forget about any obligation to Malaysia and throw the matter into the United Nations. The attitude of Government supporters is, as I have stated, that this is a matter for the choice of the Malaysians themselves.
The United Nations is a peculiar place. Not all the nations represented there understand the details of the Malaysian dispute. A result could easily be achieved which would be a compromise arrived at by people who have no understanding and little interest in the Malaysian dispute and could be highly disadvantageous to our allies and friends, the Malaysians. Surely the choice should lie with the Malaysians whether they throw the dispute into the forum of the United Nations.
If I may be permitted to reminisce, at the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly last year I heard the Indonesian representative explaining the position of his country in relation to the dispute. He was heard in complete silence; there was no applause, no sign of agreement or disagreement with what he said from other Asian and African delegates. I thought this was fine and that it meant that the delegates did not approve of Indonesia’s attitude. Then I heard the British delegate explaining the position of Britain in relation to the dispute. He, of course, was also heard in silence, which I assumed was because he was a white man and one did not applaud a white man. However, when I inquired further about this extraordinary situation, those who knew more than I did about the workings of the Assembly assured me that the reason why the other Asian delegates and the African delegates had not applauded or shown any sign of approval was because they did not understand and could not care less.
When I came home via East Africa I visited various people in the political and diplomatic fields. In one capital city a clerk took down my few words about the dispute because the Department of External Affairs there did not understand the Malaysian dispute. If the dispute is to be thrown into the United Nations on Australia’s initiative it would be a sad thing for the Malaysians unless we knew in advance what would come out of that extraordinary machine. Therefore it is quite right that the Malaysians alone should decide when and how, and after properly sounding out the attitudes of delegates and informing their minds, the matter should be taken into that forum.
– By counting the votes before they are recorded.
– To put the matter into the United Nations - the matter of our own defence - is simply a means of washing our hands of the whole affair. This means washing our hands of the vital principle that if you have aggression on the basis that I have mentioned, then it must sooner or later be halted. We must stand for this. We want friendship but we cannot have friendship on the basis that aggression and expansion are to go unchecked, because this is a precedent that in the long run must destroy ourselves.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Clyde Cameron) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Research Station at Alice Springs. (Question No. 112.) Mr. L. R. Johnson asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has a decision been taken to close the Alice Springs station of the Division of Land Research and Regional Survey of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization?
What have been the principal projects undertaken by the station since its inception?
Has the station considerable experimental significance to arid zones in Australia and other parts of the world with similar climatic conditions?
Why is this station to be closed?
rns asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The honorable member’s question appears to refer to fares concessions made available to totally and permanently incapacitated war pensioners by State railways authorities. These concessions are not repatriation benefits administered by my department and are outside my jurisdiction. I am therefore not in a position to answer the honorable member’s question.
rns asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
March. The Department of External Affairs represented the matter to Head-quarters Operational Command, Royal Australian Air Force, Penrith, at 4.S p.m. on the same day.
b asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is: -
The Royal Australian Navy obtained Ton Class minesweepers from the Royal Navy in 1962 and these ships are equipped to the latest overseas standards. These minesweepers are capable of sweeping mines in all depths of water which are navigable to normal merchant ships.
Pay-roll Tax. (Question No. 174.)
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What was the amount of pay-roll tax paid by local government bodies for each of the last five years for which statistics arc available?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Statistics compiled from pay-roll tax returns do not indicate precisely the amounts of pay-roll tax paid by local government bodies. However, on the basis of such statistics as are available, it has been estimated that the amounts of pay-roll tax paid by local government bodies during the financial years 1958-59 to 1962-63 inclusive were approximately as follows: -
y asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice) -
What were the numbers of electors enrolled in each Commonwealth electoral division at the latest date for which figures are available?
– The number of persons enrolled for each Commonwealth electoral division as at 26th March, 1964, was as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
I have seen and followed recent reports in the press to the effect that the Australia Biscuit Company Proprietary Limited and Nabisco Proprietary Limited, an Australian subsidiary of a New York corporation, the National Biscuit Company, have been making competitive bids for the acquisition of the biscuit manufacturing company of Swallow and Ariell Limited. From the press reports, it would appear that if the Australian Biscuit Company Proprietary Limited is successful in its attempts to acquire Swallow & Ariell Limited, it will possess a substantial share of the Australian biscuit market. Whether the possession of this share of the Australian biscuit market would be contrary to the interests of the Australian community is a question which could not be satisfactorily answered without a full inquiry, which I have not undertaken. The proposed legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices that the Government intends to introduce as soon as possible will contain provisions for the control of monopolization. However, as was made clear by the statement in which the proposals for this legislation were outlined to Parliament, the emphasis will be “ on what an organization or business undertaking does in harming free enterprise, rather than upon its dimension “. Existing Commonwealth law does not enable action to be taken in respect of such acquisitions.
e asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Australian National Line. In addition a contract for supply of potatoes for PostmasterGeneral’s Department is arranged (see Annexures A, B and C for details).
General Grocery Items. - Lowest tender passed over in one instance only. The second lowest tender was accepted as the lowest tenderer did not offer several important items.
Individual Bulk Grocery Items. - Lower tenders were passed over in the case of the following seven items where products offered did not meet specification requirements: -
Instant powdered coffee (R.A.A.F.).
Tea (various service establishments).
Soup powders (Navy).
Lemon spread (Navy).
Powdered milk (Navy).
Peanut butter (Navy).
Coffee, pure (Navy, Air, Immigration and A.N.L.).
Fruit and vegetables. - In only one instance was it necessary to pass over a lower tender and this relates to the supply of potatoes to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. The lower of the two tenders was rejected because of previous unsatisfactory service.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 April 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1964/19640421_reps_25_hor42/>.