25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. A week has elapsed since the right honorable gentleman was asked a question about Rhodesia. In that time, the Prime Ministers of Britain and Rhodesia are reported to have referred to the role that the right honorable gentleman might play in settling the differences between those countries. Will the Prime Minister state the Government’s attitude on this matter, which can affect not only the peace of Rhodesia and the major African States but also the standing in the world of the entire British Commonwealth?
– The honorable member may take it that this is a problem that we have approached with a proper realisation of its very grave importance. Some days ago the Prime Minister of Great Britain, his discussions in London having failed to produce an agreement, rang me and promoted to me an idea that there might be a Commonwealth mission to Rhodesia which, if it were to be useful, should include, say, two of the African leaders, one from Asia and myself. This presented me with a very difficult problem. Mr. Wilson followed up his call that night with a cable repeating his request. I do not need to tell the honorable member that this presented me with some political difficulties but I gave the matter a lot of thought. I concluded that I ought not to stand in the way of sending a Commonwealth mission because, slight though the hope might be, there might be some hope of arriving at a composition. So, after great and anxious thought I said that I would be willing to go. I showed to the Leader of the Opposition, for his information, my cable and my reasons.
In the result, as we now know, the Prime Minister of Rhodesia has rejected the mission idea. He has said that he does not want a mission and- that he will not receive it. This means that the whole position goes back into a state of deadlock. It looks as though - one cannot be positive, however - this deadlock is to be resolved by the Government of Southern Rhodesia declaring its independence unilaterally; in other words, illegally. That may not be the situation but at the present moment this seems to be the case. Messages have, been exchanged, I gather, between Mr. Wilson and Mr. Smith. I have not seen the text of those messages. I have had no further communications. Even at the last moment, we all hope that better counsels will prevail and, to say nothing else, that there may be some process of delay in which heat can go down and in which people can accommodate themselves to new ideas. I do not think there are many people, even among African leaders who have strong views on this matter, who would demand an instantaneous creation of adult suffrage in Rhodesia. I think most people looking at the situation hope to see steady progress - a phasing in of the ultimate majority rights of the native people. That has been my own view. It is a view I advocated in London and which indeed I pressed on Mr. Smith in a long letter to him when he was in London for these discussions. This view appears to be unacceptable to the Government of Rhodesia and it looks as if we will have some extremely difficult problems presented to us. Of course, none of us would fail to understand something of the position of the European settlers, if I may so call them, chiefly the British settlers, in Southern Rhodesia. They have made an enormous contribution to the country. They have rights which everybody would want to protect. So the matter is not utterly simple.
What will be done in the event of a unilateral declaration of independence will be decided in the first place, I have no doubt, by the Government of Great Britain, which is the colonial power and which, by common agreement amongst all of us, has the responsibility for dealing with the Government of Rhodesia. This is a matter between the two of them. In due course, we will learn what the Government of Great Britain proposes and we will, as a Government, have to give earnest thought to what we will present to the Parliament as the policy of the Government. That is as far as I want to go at present. But one thing is certain: If there is a unilateral declaration of independence, there can be no diplomatic recognition by the Australian Government of a government so formed.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Supply. Can he give details of the negotiations he has had with the United States Secretary of State for the supply of Australian produced Army clothing, equipment and ammunition? What progress has been made with the supply to British forces in South-East Asia of similar commodities?
– During the course of my visit to Washington, it was reported that the United States was considering off-shore procurement of certain items, principally of consumable stores, from Japan. I took the opportunity of calling on some officers of the United States Department of Defence. I pointed out that Australia had placed considerable orders for defence equipment in the United States and that any opportunity that might present itself to redress this balance, no matter how small, would be welcomed. Later, I had the opportunity of repeating this to Mr. Robert McNamara. He invited me to set out a catalogue of items, principally, as I said, of consumable stores and perhaps small arms ammunition, which might be provided from Australian sources for the United States forces in Vietnam. This might also include the matter raised by the honorable gentleman of lightweight tents and sleeping equipment which were developed in fact by the Government Clothing Factory in association with the Army and of which considerable quantities, I think approaching £1 million worth, have been supplied to the British forces operating in the South-East Asia area.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question. Is it a fact that the consumer index figures for the September quarter issued yesterday exclude cost of living rises resulting from the Budget? If this is so, does it not mean that in fact the actual price rises for the September quarter have been considerably understated in yesterday’s figures?
– The normal procedures and timetable have been followed in this matter. It is, I understand, a fact that the increases on various consumer items imposed in the Budget would not have been reflected, or at least not fully reflected, in the figure that has just appeared. It is therefore to be expected that these will make some impact on the index, subject to any fluctuations that may occur in other directions, when the figures for the next quarter are revealed. It will be noted that three-quarters of the increase disclosed for the quarter now under review was attributable to a rise in meat prices. This almost certainly is a direct consequence of drought conditions in some of the States.
– I wish to ask the Minister for the Army a question. Concern is felt in certain sections of the community that servicemen returning from Vietnam could be quite accidentally carrying infections such as foot and mouth disease. Can the Minister inform the House what precautions are taken against such an occurrence?
– I appreciate the great importance of the matter raised by the honorable member. Therefore, I am glad to be able to tell him that the same rigorous requirements and standards which are laid down in the Quarantine Act and which apply to civilians are applied to servicemen. Consequently, I believe that there is little risk.
– I wish to ask the Minister for the Navy a question. Have tests revealed that the Tartar missile with which the Charles F. Adams class destroyers are armed is 25 per cent, accurate and that the British Seaslug missile is 80 per cent accurate? Was the type of missile with which these vessels should be armed considered or have we just taken the missiles that come with the ships?
– As to whether we have just taken the equipment that comes with the ships, I remind the honorable gentleman that the guided missile destroyers or D.D.G.’s, in the United States of America were originally fitted with Asroc missiles, whereas the Australian D.D.G.’s will be fitted with the Australian designed and built Ikara. This is being done because it is believed that the Ikara is an anti-submarine weapon superior to the Asroc missile. As to the merits of the Tartar guided missile compared to the Seaslug, I am not aware that the Tartar is only 25 per cent, accurate. I understood that the percentage of accuracy achieved in tests carried out by the Americans was much higher than this. However, I shall look into the matter. I can assure the honorable gentleman that the Tartar has been chosen because at the time when it was decided on it was considered to be the superior anti-aircraft missile.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for the Interior, concerns the terms of reference of Distribution Commissioners and the need to get uniformity of approach to redistributions of electoral boundaries by the Commissioners. I ask: With a view to settling doubts about the regard to be had for the purpose of consultations among commissioners, will the Minister affirm that the comment in his second reading speech on the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 1) 1965 about discussions among the Commissioners - namely, that they are “ to ensure the proper interpretation of the law by the Commissioners” - is to be regarded as envisaging a search by the Commissioners for a common and uniform approach?
– Relying on recollection, I would say that it is true that the word “ proper “ was used in my second reading speech on the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 1) 1965. This may not have been quite the correct word, but it was used in the context that it meant a common and uniform interpretation of the proceedings and of the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. 1 ask: Will the conference over which Mr. Woodward is to preside have authority to discuss sanctions against registered stevedoring companies such as fines without appeals, inquiries on the Minister’s application to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission instead of trial by the Commonwealth Industrial Court, and deregistration by the Minister, similar to sanctions that have been enacted against the Waterside Workers Federation?
– When the Government agreed to the recommendation by the Australian Council of Trade Unions for an all-in conference, it was pointed out to the Council that there would be three restrictions on the terms of reference of the, conference. They were that the existing provisions of the Stevedoring Industry Act were to be observed; in other words, that the terms of reference would not include recruitment, the provisions of the Act relating to the right of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to suspend people or the conditions under which they could be suspended. The second condition was that during the course of the conference there would be no strikes and, thirdly, that matters which were of a greatly long term interest, such as port mechanisation and matters of that kind, would not be subject to the terms of reference.
– What are they going to talk about?
– They have enough to talk about to keep them going for up to a year. I am hoping that they will issue interim reports. I should like to say as to the concluding part of the honorable gentleman’s question that I am glad to see that, in the main ports at least, the branches of the Waterside Workers Federation have agreed to the terms and conditions that have been laid down by the Government and have agreed to participate in the all-in conference with Mr. Woodward as Chairman.
– Can the Treasurer tell the House why one of the major trading nations - Australia - appears to be left out in the cold in respect of matters associated with discussions with the International Monetary Fund? Did the right honorable gentleman’s protest have an impact on the top ten representatives of the Fund and is there a chance that other countries, perhaps from Asia, Latin America and Africa, may be admitted to these discussions so that world liquidity problems are not considered in isolation?
– I could not agree that Australia is left out of discussions so far as the International Monetary Fund itself is concerned. I have every reason to believe that the views that Australia expresses to the International Monetary Fund, both from the services of its executive director, Mr. J. M. Garland, and from the contributions which, as Governor of the Fund, I am able to make year by year at the annual meetings of the Fund, are received with every consideration by the Fund and do have some influence on its thinking. However, the honorable gentleman does point to a problem in respect of such issues as international monetary liquidity and various other important international economic questions arising from the existence of the so called Group of Ten. I do not know that I would describe them as the top countries, as the honorable gentleman has. Among them are countries which have no more claim to be so described than others which are not part of the ten. It so happens that this was a group of countries that came together in a general arrangement on borrowings. The group includes France, West Germany, Italy, Holland, Sweden, Belgium, the United Kingdom, The United States of America, Canada and Japan. Actually it is not a group of ten because it includes Switzerland also for the purposes of its activities. If strictly considered it is actually a group of eleven.
It will be seen from this recital of the membership that the group includes only one country from the whole of Asia; that is, Japan. It includes no country from South America or from Africa. Indeed, it includes no country from the whole of the Southern Hemisphere. The point that I was at some pains to make in the recent discussions of the Fund was that although it may be convenient for this small, compact body which is composed of some of the leading industrial countries to have discussions among themselves on international monetary liquidity, it had no claim to be representative of more than ten members of the Internationa] Monetary Fund, nor could it be said to speak for all of us on matters in which our interests did not necessarily run along parallel lines. I did make the point that more than half of the total foreign exchange reserves held by the
Fund’s members were held by countries outside of the Group of Ten. So we had a very real stake in decisions taken there. I think I can fairly claim that what I said on this matter did have an impact at the meeting. It represented the views which Australia had put on this subject at the meeting of Commonwealth Finance Ministers in the previous week in Jamaica, and which were accepted by those Ministers. These views received very considerable support, including that of the Managing Director of the Fund, Mr. Pierre-Paul Schweitzer, at the annual meetings in Washington. From comments we received subsequently from various members of the ten I am sure it had some impact upon the. thinking of the ten.
I would say finally that while Australia has been assured that its views will have consideration, there is as well a member of the Fund in attendance at meetings of the ten regularly conveying the views of the Fund and reporting back to it. But we certainly hope that there will be further opportunities for consultation among all Fund members before any final decisions are taken on these important matters.
– I direct to the Minister for Labour and National Service a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Grey. While appreciating that the conference over which Mr. Woodward is to preside will not be authorised to discuss the sanctions imposed on the Waterside Workers Federation by the recent legislation, I am anxious to know, as the honorable member for Grey was, whether the conference will be authorised to discuss comparable legislation concerning the registered stevedoring companies. In other words, I wish to ask the Minister whether the stevedoring companies are to be taken out of the purview of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and made subject to action by the Executive before and after the inquiry by the Arbitration Commission as has hitherto happened, alone among the registered industrial organisations, to the Waterside Workers Federation.
– I am very sorry. I do not understand what the honorable gentleman is putting to me, and I doubt whether he does. I shall have a talk with him immediately after question time, and as soon as I can clarify his thinking I will get an answer for him.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether he will give an assurance that his Department’s procedures for the movement to Australia of migrants make adequate provision for the developing State of Western Australia. Why is it that nearly all migrants travelling by ship are channelled to Melbourne, with consequent difficulties regarding transport costs if return to Perth is required for employment purposes? Will the honorable gentleman endeavour to meet the needs of industry in Western Australia by allotting groups of incoming migrants to be disembarked at Fremantle?
– Having been to Western Australia on a number of occasions, and knowing the need for employees in that developing State, I can understand why the honorable gentleman is putting this question. There are various aspects of migration. First, there are the personal nominees for whom accommodation and employment are guaranteed. Then there are the Commonwealth nominees who apply to Australia House, and who select the State to which they will go. We cannot demand that Commonwealth nominated migrants go to any particular State. I have been discussing this question with the Secretary of my Department who is visiting Western Australia this week. I can assure the honorable member that every consideration that can be given to the Western Australian problem will be given to it, but I think he will understand that if Western Australia received special treatment five other States that need employees would be making a bid for similar treatment. Western Australia will be given every possible consideration under the immigration scheme.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. When at some future time the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority seeks to recruit more labour for the waterfront will consideration be given to the likely special circumstances of this industry so that no form of pressure or coercion will be used by his Department’s employment services to influence men to accept employment that they would otherwise be disinclined to accept for reasons of conscience or union principles? Could it be arranged that refusal to accept such employment would not be held to the detriment of such men?
– I do not think it would be the wish or the inclination of the Stevedoring Industry Authority to compel men to accept employment of a kind that their conscience or deeper feelings dictated that they should not accept. I should point out to the honorable member first of all that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority is an independent and highly responsible authority. I think we must accept the fact that it will act responsibly and certainly will never attempt to coerce the men. Secondly, I point out that while the power of recruitment has been transferred from the Waterside Workers Federation to the Stevedoring Industry Authority - and the Federation has accepted an invitation to be present at the conference on that basis - a conference will be held with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Waterside Workers Federation, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and my own Department as to the methods by which the recruitment programme can be put into effect, I hope, with the agreement of all parties.
– I ask a question of the Minister for the Interior. May I preface it by saying that in South Australia Commonwealth Government departments are scattered all over the city and are housed in 1 1 different buildings that I can think of while standing here. The Commonwealth does own a property in Currie Street that it purchased many years ago on which to erect a building to house all or most of the Commonwealth departments in Adelaide.
– It was purchased in 1948.
– Yes. It is an ideal site. In view of the inconvenience caused to South Australian people by their having to go all over the city to the various Government departments when they have to transact business with those departments, and as Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney all have Commonwealth buildings for Commonwealth departments, and, further, as the Public Works Committee has recently been to Perth to inquire into the cost of constructing a Commonwealth building for Commonwealth departments in that city, will the Minister earnestly consider referring the question of a Commonwealth building for Commonwealth departments in Adelaide to the Public Works Committee for investigation?
– I should like to inform the honorable member that there is nothing unusual about Commonwealth departments occupying several different offices in Adelaide. The Postmaster-General’s Department in Melbourne is occupying about 20 different office buildings. Indeed, there is a problem of insufficient accommodation for Commonwealth departments in all capital cities. We try to arrange a system of priorities to build offices where the demand is greatest and where facilities are least adequate. This is why new Commonwealth offices were built in Melbourne, Sydney, and in Western Australia. The next programme under way is in Brisbane. I know that in South Australia the Commonwealth leases a nice office block, the Da Costa building, which is occupied mainly by Commonwealth departments. As far as using the block of land in Currie Street is concerned, this is a matter which will be examined and no doubt it will come up on the list of priorities as the demands in other centres are met.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. It has been reported that the United Kingdom Government is having a re-think of its east of Suez commitments. Can the Prime Minister inform the House whether or not the Australian Government is being kept informed of possible developments? Will the Prime Minister advise the Government of the United Kingdom that its presence in South East Asia is a stabilising influence in these troubled times?
– We are in close and regular contact with the Government of Great Britain on this matter to which we do attach very great importance.
-My question is to the Minister for the Army. Was the Minister consulted before the recent operations carried out by the Australian troops in South Vietnam were embarked upon? If so, what were his reasons for giving his approval? Who was in command and who planned the operations? What results were achieved commensurate with the casualties we suffered? Is it not true that in both the First World War and the Second World War Australian troops committed under non-Australian commanders suffered casualties greater than those committed under Australian commanders? Will he establish some system whereby Australian troops are not committed at the whim of local foreign commanders?
- Mr. Speaker, the assumption on which the honorable member’s whole question rests is his last statement which is completely and utterly incorrect. Australian troops are not committed at the whim, as he describes it, of foreign commanders. The Australian Government is aware in advance of every operation undertaken by our troops. The directive laid down for the Commander, Australian Army Forces, Vietnam, and the Commanding Officer of the Battalion gives them a complete right to refer any matter in relation to an operation on which they may have doubts to the Australian Government, if necessary. So it is untrue that the Australian Government and the Australian military authorities have no say in relation to an operation. So far as the particular operation was concerned, the normal procedure applied. We were aware of it in advance. We believed it to be a well planned and well conceived operation, an operation within the charter for which we have Australian troops in Vietnam, and one which contributed to the overall objectives for which we are there. That is the defeat of the Vietcong.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. I refer to the conference to be held next week between the Reserve Bank of Australia and the trading banks. As the Treasurer indicated yesterday, the overall liquidity position is to be discussed, especially in view of general business activity and the drought. Could the Treasurer see that the free liquidity position of each of the banks is discussed, especially as the Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia continues to have nearly 12 per cent, of its deposits available as free liquid resources compared with only 3 per cent, for the other banks? Does this mean that applications for accommodation are not being made to the Commonwealth Bank or that its conditions for lending are so much more stringent?
– The honorable member has read, I think, a little more into what I said yesterday than a close study of my remarks would have justified. What I did say specifically - and this is a matter which was discussed directly by me with the Governor of the Reserve Bank - is that the experience of the trading banks in relation to loan requests arising from drought conditions would be a matter of special discussion at the meeting which is to be held. It is the practice of the Reserve Bank to have meetings periodically with representatives of the trading banks. It may very well be that the overall liquidity position of individual banks is considered at those meetings, but the matter about which I was primarily concerned to have discussions was the one that I had mentioned.
As to the liquidity position of the individual banks, it is a well-established practice of the Commonwealth Trading Bank to hold a rather higher proportion of liquidity than that of the other trading banks, amongst which the position varies. My advice is that the liquidity position of all the banks has eased to some degree as we are entering into the flush export period, and that there should not therefore be inhibitions arising from lack of liquidity.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Navy. Are the 14 gunboats ordered for the Navy to be an adaptation of an existing class or have they been designed by our own naval architects? As the speed of these gunboats will equal only that of many modern freighters, will not this lack of speed affect their efficiency? Why are our gunboats to have such a low speed when some countries are building vessels of this type with speeds ranging from 40 to 50 knots? Will the Minister reconsider this matter with the object of increasing the speed of these vessels and thereby increasing their overall efficiency?
– In the first place the 14 vessels referred to will not be gunboats. They will be patrol boats and the speed of which they will be capable is considered sufficient for patrol boat purposes. They will be powered by two diesel engines and will be able to attain any speed that is necessary for them. They are being built to an Australian design prepared by Australian naval architects for a particularly Australian job.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. I refer to the report that a Conservative member of the House of Commons, Rear Admiral Morgan Giles, claims to have impersonated the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr. Shann, at a recent function in Djakarta at which President Sukarno was present. Has any diplomatic inquiry been made into this matter? If there is any truth in the report will the Government express its stern disapproval of the action taken and its concern about the offence committed?
– Admiral Giles has explained publicly that his remark was a jocular one. Apparently the idea of a sailor making a joke was so unfamiliar that the Press did not recognise the remark as a joke. Admiral Giles has also explained that what happened was that he wished to attend a function at which President Sukarno was to be present. The Australian Embassy gave him a ticket and to his surprise - perhaps because Australia’s standing in Indonesia is so high - he was ushered to a very good seat, and he made a jocular remark to the effect that because the seat he was given was so good he must have been impersonating the Australian Ambassador. It was a purely jocular remark and no action is required.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration: When is a decision to be made concerning the elimination of the oath of renunciation from naturalisation ceremonies? Does the Minister remember that this action was recommended by the last Australian Citizenship Convention as well as by other organisations, particularly those representing new Australians, which have from time to time requested the elimination of the oath?
– I remember the recommendation quite well. This is a matter that is under consideration by the Government.
– My question to the Minister for the Army refers to Lieutenant Raynor of the Australian Regular Army who, I think, has put in nine applications for his retirement. What is the present position in respect of this officer? Is it a fact that his engineering degree was obtained as a result of the Army paying for his course? Is it not good medical policy that if you have a boil on the neck it is much better to get rid of the boil than to have the whole neck infected?
– I think that the officer to whom the honorable gentleman is referring is Captain Nickols. Lieutenant Raynor has already left the Army. It is true that Captain Nickols has made a repeated number of attempts to resign. His application has been rejected in each case in accordance with a clear policy which lays down that an Army officer who undertakes a university course at public expense must, unless he produces very good compassionate reasons, serve for five years after the completion of the university course. In the case of this officer that period has not elapsed, and Captain Nickols will be expected to meet the obligations which he undertook when he was originally provided with a university course at public expense.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that the September quarter consumer price index figures show that there has been an increase in the cost of living for that quarter equivalent to a loss of real purchasing power in the basic wage ranging from ls. 6d. in Perth to 5s. 9d. in Brisbane? As his Government proposes to increase judges’ salaries, including those of judges in the Arbitration Court, by something like £2,000 per year-
– Order! That matter will be coming up for discussion at a later stage.
– Will the Prime Minister consider making an application to the Arbitration Court for an increase in the basic wage to offset rising high living costs, just as in the past the Government has been prepared to oppose in the Court applications by unions for basic wage increases?
– The answer is: “ No “.
– Following a question regarding nomenclature directed to the Prime Minister yesterday by the honorable member for Ryan, I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he has observed a practice on the part of some newspapers in recent times - presumably with a view to saving printer’s ink - of referring indiscriminately to members of this House and of State lower houses as M.P.’s, so adding a further confounding to the degree of confusion already existing among many people. Would he say whether he prefers the practice of referring to members of this House as M.P.’s or M.H.R.’s? Further, would he be prepared to lay down a practice for official use, to be followed where practicable, as far as this House is concerned?
– I have never taken exception to the use of M.P., on various grounds, including the ground of economy, because it has two letters instead of three. I really do not take any exception to the fact that State members of Parliament are sometimes referred to as “ Mr. So and So M.P.”. I was one myself and was frequently referred to in that fashion - one of the more polite expressions used about me.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. The Minister for Civil Aviation has denied that Tullamarine ultimately will become Australia’s premier international airport. But will the Minister agree that the acquisition of 5,300 acres of land and the completion by 1969 at Government cost of the international and domestic terminals at Tullamarine serve to confirm what is in the minds of many people - that Tullamarine is destined to become our No. 1 airport? Will the Minister say whether the Government intends to adopt towards Mascot the policy that it has adopted in relation to Tullamarine and meet the whole of the construction costs of the international and domestic terminals and bring into operation the new domestic terminal at about the same time as the terminal at Tullamarine is brought into operation? This must be done if Mascot is to retain the status attributed to it by the Minister.
– Only a couple of nights ago I pointed out, during the discussion on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation, that Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport is and always will be Australia’s No. 1 airport. This is proved by the fact that almost twice as much money is being spent in bringing it up to standard as is being spent on Tullamarine. Sydney airport is being designed to cope with almost 50 per cent, more aircraft movements and about 33J per cent, more travelling passengers than Tullamarine. It is obvious that the actions of the Department of Civil Aviation are designed to retain Mascot as the No. 1 international airport of Australia.
Report of Public Works Committee. Mr. BRIMBLECOMBE (Maranoa).- Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913- 1960 I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work -
Provision of buildings and services for the international terminal complex and associated aircraft pavements in the north-west building area at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.
I seek leave to make a short statement in connection with the report.
– Order! There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The development of Sydney Airport since the early post war years has involved a number of major works, including the diversion of Cook’s River. The present installations represent a considerable public investment. The work in the present reference is, however, the largest single project undertaken. The area in the Airport boundary is 1,420 acres and the two runways, orientated roughly northsouth and east-west, are 5,500 feet and 8,300 feet long respectively. The north-south runway is at present being extended to 8,500 feet. The site of the proposed terminal buildings is in the area north-west of the junction of the runway system.
The work in this reference includes the international terminal building which has a total floor area of 330,000 square feet and which will be capable of handling arriving and departing pasengers and visitors at the rate of 7,000 an hour. It also includes passenger loading concourses and aircraft apron parking position for twelve large international aircraft simultaneously, taxiways to the terminal area, a building to house the engineering plant serving the building, hydraulic and electrical services, access roads and a car park.
The new international terminal building is the first stage of a plan to rebuild completely all passenger terminal facilities at Sydney Airport in the north-west area. I would remind the House that the Committee, in a report tabled last month on the site preparation of the north-west building area, drew attention to the urgent need for a new international terminal and stressed the need to expedite the erection of the new domestic terminals as well. Both of the present domestic terminals meet current requirements but neither will be adequate in three or four years’ time unless costly and uneconomic expansion programmes are undertaken. The Committee recommends that the international terminal proposed in the present reference be erected as quickly as possible but it would again like to emphasise that the need has been demonstrated for the new domestic terminals to be erected simultaneously.
The area at the airport on which the terminals are to be built is not an ideal building site. Originally, Cook’s River flowed through this low lying area, but the river was diverted about IS years ago when the present runway system was being developed. The site thus comprises large areas which have been reclaimed. This factor, combined with the existing sub-soil conditions, will mean that the foundations will be more costly than with similar buildings of this type.
The Committee considered the scale of the facilities proposed in the new international terminal in relation to the airline traffic peaks which occur at various times during the day and the congestion in passenger terminals caused by these peaks. We concluded that whatever is the cause of these traffic peaks, the fact is that, not only in the present reference but in the case of other passenger terminals provided by the Commonwealth, large sums of public money are being spent on facilities which lie partly idle for considerable periods during the day. The provision of terminal, navigational and other airport facilities assist the operators but do not represent an economic investment to the Commonwealth. The Committee agreed that it is proper to build the international terminal at Sydney to the scale proposed but did conclude that if the use of terminals is spread more evenly during the day, the time in the future when extensions would be required could be deferred.
The Committee believes that there is strong evidence of the need for a searching inquiry into the possibility of planning commercial airline operations in Australia to reduce the peak load of airport facilities and to produce more economic utilisation of installations and staff. I move -
That the report be printed.
– I move -
At the end of the motion add the following words: “and that the Public Works Committee report forthwith to the House on the overall development of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.”.
– Order! The amendment is out of order. It is not relevant to the subject matter before the Chair.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee -
Seventy-third Report - Department of Social Services.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Mr. Speaker, your Committee’s inquiry into the accounts and operations of the Department of Social Services under section 8 of the Public Accounts Committee Act 1951 constitutes the first comprehensive inquiry into that Department by a parliamentary committee. The decision of your Committee to undertake this inquiry was made, not because the Department had been the subject of censure, but because the volume and variety of social services provided by the Commonwealth in recent years have expanded substantially and because, in the discharge of their responsibilities, many senators and members find themselves engaged with the Department on behalf of their constituents.
Your Committee believes that this report, which covers the detailed administrative operations of the Department, will provide a useful source of information for honorable members and for the public. In the course of its inquiry, your Committee was impressed with the general level of efficiency found to exist in the operations of the Department. Nevertheless, there are certain matters arising from our inquiry to which your Committee would invite attention. The evidence taken by your Committee shows that urgent action is required by the parties concerned to resolve the problems arising from the. proposed introduction of automatic data processing by the Department of Social Services and that there is a need for the Department of Social Services and the Treasury to consider whether the Department should be reimbursed for services it provides for the Repatriation Department in the processing of repatriation pensions.
The evidence also shows that the Department of Social Services requires a greater number of qualified officers engaged in internal audit work and in this regard your Committee would emphasise that the decision by the Public Service Board to defer consideration of proposals made by the Department for a re-organisation of its internal audit staff pending an extensive review by the Board of the accounting and audit work in the Commonwealth Service may result in a serious delay in improving the efficiency of the Department’s internal audit programme. Your Committee believes that the problems confronting beneficiaries in the more sparsely populated areas should be taken fully into account in any reformulation of the Department’s criteria for establishing regional offices. Your Committee also considers that the Department should, in the interest of economy and efficiency, adopt a uniform method of payment of social service benefits by cheque. Mr. Speaker, I commend the report to honorable members.
That the report be printed.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) proposed -
That Order of the Day No. 1 - Government Business - be postponed until a later hour this day.
.- This is another interference with the rights of private members in this Parliament. In the last week or so, the whole of this House and the Press of Australia have interested themselves in this very problem. This is Grievance Day, but it is being adjourned to the point of no return. This is the procedure that the Ministry is inflicting on the Parliament and I believe that all honorable members should assert their rights and ensure that our privileges as private members are protected. As the honorable member for Wills, I have as much right to speak in this place as has the honorable member for Higgins (Mr. Harold Holt), the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Menzies) or the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). If the honorable member for Mallee wishes to talk, I am willing to stay here and work with him.
The Parliament has met for 51 days this year. We have had a Grievance Day debate on four occasions. Every other Parliament of the world that claims to be a people’s Parliament, such as this Parliament is, shows much more respect for private members and gives them more opportunities to speak, without trying to deprive them of their rights. The House of Commons, from which we claim to take most of our procedures and which is so often cited in this House as an example for us, has, since 1946, allotted 20 Fridays a year for private business. Private members’ bills are much easier to introduce in the House of Commons than they are in this Parliament. The House of Commons in Canada allots 40 one hour periods every year for the discussion of private members’ bills. The Legislative Assembly of Maharasthra at Bombay devotes the last two and a half hours of every Friday to private members’ business, and it meets on Friday of every week. If k so happens that there is no meeting on a Friday, some other time during the week is given to private members. 1 believe that the Government’s action on this Thursday is another instance of the way it is trespassing on the rights of private members. At question time today, we heard several very important questions asked. The Prime Minister gave a lengthy, but I thought important, answer. The Treasurer, having returned from his geo-political gyrations, stepped into the House and tried to make up for the time he had lost by taking the greater part of question time to answer questions asked by honorable members on the other side. Usually his answers were given in such a way that we on this side of the House could not hear them effectively. Some honorable members opposite try to get themselves into the Press. They do everything for their own publicity. They pose as fire eaters of the first order. They should in this Parliament assert their rights as private members. I am sure that not one of them will support the Opposition’s protest at the Government’s action on this occasion. It is time they cast aside their spineless attitude in the House and showed us in this place some of the full scale freedom fighting beliefs to which they like to give tongue when they are on the public forum.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 20th October (vide page 2039).
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
Proposed expenditure, £12,800,000.
Department of National Development.
Proposed expenditure, £14,479,000.
– 1 refer to the need to establish a national resources authority and I would wrestle with the Government a little further on the future of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. On both sides of the House, we are in agreement that the Authority is a highly competent organisation carrying through a great project, which the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) recently described as one of the great engineering wonders of the world. On that point of satisfaction with the way in which the Authority operates, agreement between the Government and the Opposition ends. We want to see the organisation live and be incorporated in a national resources authority to carry out further great national development tasks. The Government, as represented by the Minister for National Development, does not wish to see this. The Minister is prepared to let the Authority die when it has completed its present task, except that he envisages the maintenance of a small consultative secretariat.
The arguments that I have heard from the Minister on this matter are most astonishing to me. He holds the title of Minister for National Development, but he appears to speak more as the Minister for No National Development. In fact, each of the arguments that he has adduced on this matter has been a negative argument; he has produced no positive argument at all. On a study of his utterances, his attitude appears to be: “ What is the use. Nothing is worth doing. Australia has no future.” Perhaps I do him an injustice and it may be fairer to say his attitude is: “ I can see no future for Australia, but, if it has a future, let the States attend to it.” The Minister has shown no vision. He does not see “ the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended “, and he does not recognise that where there is no vision the people perish. The Minister speaks for the Government, but the position to which he has now committed the Government is an impossible one for any Government in Australia to adopt today. I suggest that sooner or later, and preferably sooner, the Government must alter that attitude. In Australia today, the national Government cannot divorce itself from national development. If Australia’s future is to depend solely upon increasing the metropolitan sprawl, then Australia has no future.
The Minister has argued, and rightly, that other organisations are capable of doing construction work such as the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority has done. That is so, but this Authority is the only organisation of the kind that the Federal Government possesses. It is the only Federal organisation available to carry out tasks of this kind. Would the existence of other organisations be of itself a reason for destroying this one? We contemplate a series of great national developmental works in Australia. Can we afford to destroy any existing organisation which is highly expert, as the Minister has proclaimed this one to be, and which is ready and has an experienced team able to undertake any task allotted to it in co-operation or partnership with the State Governments? If the Federal Government is to take part in any further great national developmental works, the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority’s team must not be dispersed. It must be kept together.
It is quite beside the point for the Minister to drag the Tasmanian Hydro-electric Commission across the trail. That is a very useful body, but it has its own task to perform. The Minister would be the last to claim that that organisation is now available to carry out other great national developmental tasks elsewhere in Australia. The Minister’s assertion that there are other existing organisations that could undertake this kind of work is true, of course, in general terms but these organisations are fully employed. In some respects, too, his assertion needs qualification. Even if such organisations could be made available on a national basis - it is obvious that they could not - it would be necessary to consider the increasing scale and complexity of modern engineering. The individual engineers of those other organisations are doubtless of competence equal to that of the engineers of the Snowy Mountains Authority, but by reason of their respective activities they have tended to specialise in different direc- lions. Of course, any good engineering body can enter new fields with preparation by reading, research and study tours. However, an organisation not experienced in the particular field would take longer to complete a task and the project would cost more than if the job were done by a body with appropriate experience already behind it and with a smooth running organisation based on a staff experienced in both design and construction supervision, as is the Snowy Mountains Authority.
The Minister said that it would be unreasonable to form a national conservation authority first and then look about to see whether there was any further task that it could perform. That would be extraordinarily unreasonable. But no search whatever has to be made in this continent to discover whether there are any great water conservation works that require to be undertaken. There is no part of the world where the need for further water conservation projects is more apparent than it is in Australia. In this continent in recent days the drought has emphasised the need to conserve waters now running to waste. We have not an over-supply of water. We cannot afford to allow these waters to run to waste. Many splendid projects are waiting to be tackled. The problem would not be to find a job to be undertaken. The problem would be to decide which one should have first priority. The decision as to which project should next be tackled should be made now. Blueprints should be prepared at this stage. The investigation and design work should be put in hand now so that everything would be ready for the construction force to go ahead. Investigation work on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme is virtually completed, design work will be completed in another three years and the main construction force now available will be free for another national task by 1972 or 1973.
I was amazed to hear the Minister argue that the Commonwealth possesses no constitutional power to employ a national resources authority or to carry out great construction works within a State. The Bourbons learnt nothing and they forgot nothing. The very existence of the Snowy Mountains Scheme contradicted the Minister as be spoke. It is a great construction project that is being carried out by the Commonwealth within a
State under the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers. Does the Minister forget that the Snowy Mountains Authority was created and has carried out its work under the defence powers given to the Commonwealth in the Constitution? I admit that the Minister gave some further answer on this point. He agreed that this was so, but he doubted whether we could use the Commonwealth’s defence powers now, so long after the war. The only suggestion there was that the danger to Australia had so receded since the last war as to make the defence powers in the Constitution no longer applicable. He will probably be caned by somebody else for making this suggestion, and I might almost forbear from reminding him that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has told us only recently that we are at war now.
I remind the Minister also of two facts which, I suggest, blow his argument sky high. The first is that the construction of the Snowy Mountains project under the Commonwealth’s defence powers has never been legally challenged over the years. Does he argue that the Snowy Mountains works that are being carried out under his direction are being undertaken illegally? Would he be party to illegal use of Commonwealth powers? Of course not. He believes that this task has been carried on legally under the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth ever since 1949. The second fact to which I direct the Minister’s attention is that Australia’s defence needs are far greater and more urgent today than they were in 1949. There is evidence of this in a hundred ways. But the evidence comes particularly from Ministers themselves, who constantly proclaim the danger in which we stand and the imperative need to strengthen our defences. I urge the Minister for National Development not to be fainthearted about the constitutional aspect. If we had the defence power in 1949, we certainly have it today. Development is an essential of defence. No matter how we ring Australia with armaments, we shall not long hold this country unless we develop and populate it and spread the population through the empty spaces. We simply cannot afford to keep 60 per cent, of our population in the few square miles that constitute the metropolitan areas of this continent.
The negative character of the Minister’s attitude was revealed in one question that he raised. He asked: Is there anything in the way of a developmental task which we can afford to do in Australia and which we ‘are not doing? Having asked that question, he proceeded to answer it by stating that there is nothing in the way of a further developmental task that we can afford to do in Australia. If that view had prevailed 20 years ago, the Snowy Mountains Authority would never have been established and it would not have accomplished the task that it has accomplished so far. The Snowy Mountains scheme was initiated by great Australians who were men of vision - Ben Chifley and Nelson Lemmon among them. They did not contemplate that the Authority’s task would cease when this project had been completed. They had plans prepared for £700 million worth of national developmental works of which the Snowy Mountains project was to be simply the first. Now, if the Minister does not reconsider his attitude, this project is to be not only the first but also the last of such great national developmental works. I hope that he will reconsider his attitude. I shall certainly do my utmost in this Parliament to help him to do so. His present utterly negative attitude is simply not good enough for a Minister in a national government with the whole of a continent to develop.
One by one, the Minister went through the products that we could grow in the north. He dealt with them one by one. He dealt with cotton, with sugar, with rice and with beef. These were, to his mind, the only products which we could successfully develop in the north by the use of a conservation project and, one by one, having gone through the list of products, he damned them all. He said that there was no future in any of them. His conclusion was that it would be useless and hopeless to attempt to increase the production of any of them in present circumstances. If we adopted his view - I hope that the House will never do that - we would abandon the north altogether. But that is impossible. There must be northern development and the Minister must not be permitted to stand in the way.
We on this side of the chamber have contended that a national conservation authority should function somewhat as the Bureau of Reclamation does in the United States of America. The Minister has replied by saying that the Bureau in the United
States has to deal with a far larger number of States and a far larger number of rivers running through those States. I suggest that these arguments advanced by the Minister are, by themselves, completely irrelevant. The point is simply this: In the United States the Bureau has played an important role in raising Federal funds to assist and stimulate such development in the United States. Can we in Australia, where development is much less advanced, afford to disband an organisation which could play an important similar role in conjunction with the Australian States and their departments and organisations?
.- I should like first of all to thank the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs) for allowing me to speak at this time instead of in my allotted place this afternoon. I should like then to go on to say how astonished anyone listening to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) must have been to compare the things that he said or that he alleged against the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) with this Government’s attitude to development and the obvious facts which are available and of which the majority of people in Australia are all too excitingly aware. At the present moment, although he speaks about the Snowy Mountain Authority and says that he believes that its powers should be extended and developed as the basis of national development policy, this obviously has reference to his own electorate. One cannot blame him for talking in those terms’. Nevertheless, we are not, as he said, in a situation where the Minister says that nothing is worth doing and Australia has no future. This has been said in the light of the kind of situation where Australia has just recently contracted to export iron ore to the tune of £587 million income to Australia. In the next 20 years this enormous sum of money from the greatest iron ore deposits in the greatest iron ore area of development known anywhere in the world will come to Australia under the developmental policy of this Government.
The honorable member spoke about the Snowy Mountains Authority and the enormous importance of the Authority. We all know something of its size and significance. But I watched the Minister’s face yester- day as he was discussing with one expert the fact that one 20-inch gas pipeline from Mereenie to Adelaide will carry considerably more power than the whole output of the hydro potential of the Snowy scheme. There is enormous and exciting development taking place, the like of which this country and very few other countries have ever had to contemplate. Between 1965 and 1990 - in the next 25 years - the kind of production that will take place in Australia and the kind of consumption of power which is an index of development of any country bear some kind of examination.
It is estimated on the most conservative figures produced by the Department of National Development that 5,000 million barrels of crude oil will be consumed in Australia in the next 25 years, that is, £7,000 million worth of power from that source. During the same time it is estimated by computation that the demand for natural gas will be 11.7 trillion cubic feet, that is 11.7 million million, and at the very ordinary and nominal price of 4d. delivered at the city gates this will be another bill to the tune of £2,100 million. This kind of money is being developed within Australia. At a price of 7d. delivered and reticulated through the various systems to industry and to homes throughout Australia this amount of gas used in the next 25 years will mean an income from this power production output of £3,900 million. These staggering figures stand against the ridiculous call of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro that there is no vision and that where there is no vision the people perish. In the light of the facts, that statement is absolute claptrap. Australia and its demand for energy continue to grow. It is estimated that during the next 25 years the demand for power in this country will treble.
I want to direct my remarks this morning in the few minutes available to me to indicate something of the exciting prospect of power development, particularly with regard to petroleum. In the United States petroleum supplies 72 per cent, of the nation’s total energy requirements and natural gas is its principal source of nontraction fuel, being responsible for 40 per cent, as compared with coal at 29 per cent, and crude oil at 26 per cent. Crude oil and natural gas are the lifeblood of the United States industrial strength and it would appear that this will also be the case in Australia. This much is almost certain from development that has already taken place. However, we must approach this in a realistic manner. The oil industry in the United States is 100 years old and more than one million wells have been drilled. The United States is now drilling some 43,000 wells a year just to keep up with domestic demand. After looking at our own situation in 1964 we can become more than interested - even excited - by the fact that our discovery rate per foot, of hole drilled in exploration of natural resources in this field exceeded the rate of discovery in the United States by 20 to 25 per cent.
In the United States, during the year 1964, 750 cubic feet of gas was discovered for every foot of exploratory hole drilled. In Australia 1,000 cubic feet was discovered for every foot drilled. The success in Australia was about 20 to 25 per cent, greater than the success in the United States. Looking ahead we see the demand for production and consumption in Australia. The most conservative source indicates that in the year 1980, to take a time only 15 years ahead, the value of natural gas to be delivered at the city gates of the great cities that are now preparing for it will be £80 million to the producers in one year at the figure of 40 cents a thousand cubic feet or £150 million worth of production delivered to industry at 70 cents. This will represent in that year 14 per cent, of Australia’s estimated energy requirements. That will be five times the total of hydro-electric production in Australia at present.
Looking at the kind of reserves that will be needed, the amount of gas known to exist in reservoirs in the ground and the amount that will be required 15 years from now adds up to at least nine trillion cubic feet. Looking also at the figures where exploration and production have already taken place and where reserves have been calculated, we can say that, being optimistic, the total known reserves already in Australia add up to about 3.5 trillion cubic feet. These reserves are made up from figures like central Australia with a little over one trillion, Gidgealpa in South Australia with about half a trillion, Gilmore in Queensland with about half a trillion, offshore in Gippsland with less than a trillion but more than half a trillion, and in Western Australia about three-quarters of a trillion cubic feet. We are already well on the way to producing this astonishing and exciting new prospect of cheap power in a developing country in which we have unlimited resources developing around us in terms of minerals and mineral development. We have the world’s greatest aluminium prospects, the world’s greatest iron deposits in Western Australia and we have copper and other elements being discovered in all directions. This is part of the Government’s policy of national development. It is extremely exciting and offers great expectations for the kind of situation that economists are already depicting - a changeover from an economy which is to a large degree dependent upon wool as a source of export earnings to one which will depend upon mineral resources.
With this background, however, there are some warnings that need to be sounded. I refer in particular to the Australian content or equity in the development of this enormously rich future for power production. One of the things that have disturbed me is that the figures relating to oil search subsidy indicate that the amount of government subsidy paid to Australian companies searching for oil and gas is diminishing rapidly. At the same time, the number of idle rigs in Australia is increasing. Since January of this year, there has been a marked and steady decline in the number of active rigs from about 30 to under 20. This means that, correspondingly, the number of idle rigs has increased from just over 10 to well over 20. 1 realise that the pattern of drilling has changed from shallow drilling to deep drilling in many areas and it may well be that the total number of feet drilled in a year will not show a decrease at all. Nevertheless, with only a few hundred holes being drilled in a year, we cannot afford to have idle rigs. I believe that the Government must address itself to this problem. We must remember that the only source of real capital income for the Australian exploration companies is investment by stockholders in Australia. When one examines the position of the stock market at the present moment, one realises that the Australian people have, to a large degree, become somewhat sceptical and perhaps indifferent to the kind of picture that I have just been painting. There is very little realisation of the enormous amount of profit return which there will be to an industry which is already becoming established. We must remember that Sir Rohan Delacombe, the Governor of Victoria, said recently, when speaking of the off-shore discoveries on the Gippsland shelf, that in his book the discovery of gas could be equally as important to the development of the State as was the discovery of gold.
So the situation which confronts the Government is one in which a great stimulus is required, particularly to the Australian aspect of development and exploration in the petroleum field. I believe there are several measures which should be considered as remedies for the present situation. First, I believe that there should be a review of the situation relating to subsidies. I congratulate the Government on the wise and statesmanlike decision it has made in connection with crude oil prices. That was a magnificent and far-sighted step. The Government must also feel very proud indeed of its decision with relation to the payment of subsidy on drilling for oil. But, because the amount of money available for this purpose, is limited the scope within which subsidies will be payable has had to be limited. Unfortunately, this means that those Australian companies which have small capital resources to devote to the exploration for oil and gas will receive no subsidy for activities in areas where second and subsequent discoveries are most likely. Therefore if, when these companies announce their discoveries the stock market does not react favorably, they are not able to get more funds to continue their development. It is obvious that something has to be done and I am certain the Government is already considering various measures by which it can come to the assistance of the Australian companies engaged in exploration.
It must be remembered, however, that an enormous amount of money is required for the carrying out of drilling and exploration programmes. To drill 44,000 wells annually as is done in the United States of America would cost something far beyond our means. Therefore, we have had to look increasingly to overseas companies to come here and spend that kind of money for us. But, unfortunately, our most promising areas are in the hands of those who have the least incentive to discover oil at this juncture when it is needed desperately for national development and balance of payments reasons.
In conclusion, let me say that I believe it is wrong that overseas companies should have untrammelled and unchallenged access to enormous areas of exploration in Western Australia and other parts of the Commonwealth. These areas are being held without any form of redress being available to the Commonwealth Government in particular. The Government does not even get information about the drilling of holes although it is vitally interested in such information. Often it is unable to obtain from the States vital information to enable it to sum up and corrolate the kind of geological information that will give us a clearer picture for the future. I could address myself to many other matters if time permitted but, on the whole, I believe that, far from being faced with a dismal outlook, we stand at the threshold of the most exciting period of development this nation has even seen.
.- As is only to be expected, to me and to most people in North Queensland national development means the development of that part of the State as well as the northern part of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Unfortunately, as the developing of northern Australia requires the expenditure of large sums of money, it is never a good proposition from the political point of view. The reasons for that are obvious. The main one is that very few people ate affected by the expenditure. This means that fewer voters are influenced, and this is not what governments like to see when they are faced with the expenditure of large sums of money. For example, the spending of £5 million on beef roads or some other project would affect very few people directly whereas, the expenditure of £5 million recently on homes savings grants affected 50,000 people. So far, 25,000 applications for these grants have been approved and this is quite a consideration at election time, even though the 50,000 people affected are spread over the whole of Australia. So long as the spending of money is looked at mainly from the point of view of politics, I feel that the development of the undeveloped areas will be very slow.
I entered this Parliament just after the credit squeeze. At that time, the hobby horse of this Parliament, as I have said before, was national development, and northern development in particular. The pages of “ Hansard “ for those days are filled with speeches of members who were then experts on northern development. We frequently heard such slogans as “populate or perish “. Undoubtedly one of the main reasons for the attitude adopted at that time was the electoral setback that this Government had received in Queensland. I feel, too, that the stand taken by Queensland at that time was the reason why moneys were made available for the clearing of the Brigalow lands and the construction of beef roads. But times have changed. Men who were then experts on northern development have become experts on defence or foreign affairs. Only a few of those who are directly concerned with northern areas, men such as myself, the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton), the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) and one or two others, ever say much about northern development these days.
I believe that Queensland’s attitude towards the Government is hardening once again as a result of the Government’s apparent disinterest in the northern area and its habit of leaving everything to private enterprise.
As an example of this hardening of attitude, I mention a statement by the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Nicklin, when opening the State Country Party conference in Queensland. The following report of that statement was published in the Brisbane “ Courier Mail “ of Wednesday, 28th April of this year -
Commonwealth delays plans for North.
The Premier (Mr. Nicklin) last night referred to frustrating delays by the Commonwealth in reaching decisions on developmental projects submitted by Queensland.
Opening the State Country Party conference, Mr. Nicklin said that some of these projects were vital to northern development.
Most would foster exports and increase overseas earnings. As such they were important to the national and Queensland’s economy.
The Government valued the help the Federal Government had given with a number of developmental projects, but it was disappointed that no decision had been given on a large number of important submissions.
Mr. Nicklin also said
Decisions were also awaited on requests for surveys of potential storage sites on the Gilbert River and in the Gulf Country by the Snowy Mountains Authority, and of the Burdekin River basin.
Queensland had received splendid co-operation from the Commonwealth departments concerned with these applications, but it could ask for speed on the part of the Federal Cabinet in coming to decisions.
I emphasise that this was a statement by the Premier of Queensland. There are some things which, because they do not return a profit immediately, or almost immediately, will never be done by private enterprise. If they are done at all, they will have to be done eventually by governments. I think we all know this.
Another factor, in my opinion, is rating the value of everything in accordance with its cost in money. Consider an enterprise like the building of the Tinaroo Dam outside Cairns, which has brought into production about 100 farms and absolutely transformed the rundown town of Mareeba into a modern thriving town. Its advantages cannot be weighed in terms of money. The benefit to the hundreds of families that have come to the area cannot be evaluated in money alone. The people should be valued for what they are, namely, people living where no people were living before. There are other aspects of development that can be regarded in the light of economics but which, strangely, are not so regarded. Let us take as an example the proposed dam on the Burdekin River near Ayr in northern Queensland. This scheme was never completed. It was planned in four phases, the first being under construction in 1949 when the present Government took office. The then Commonwealth Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden, examined the scheme and said it was uneconomic. Commonwealth aid to the Queensland Government was stopped. The Queensland Government completed the first, and very small part of the scheme, alone. From memory, this cost about ?7 million. It consisted of building a coffer dam prior to constructing the main dam and completing the irrigation channels. The area had by then been laid out as a soldier settlement area for tobacco growing. Of course, as is well known, this scheme was sabotaged and finally sunk by the tobacco buyers, as has happened with other schemes in other States. It is now a pleasant experience to observe the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) taking on the tobacco buyers.
However, as I said, the dam was never finished. There is no doubt that had it been completed the lives of many of the sheep and cattle lost in the nearby areas would have been saved. Sheep are being agisted in the Townsville area at present, which is something I have never seen before. The saving of sheep and cattle during the recent drought would have meant millions of pounds in actual value. The present farms are situated where it was considered there was limitless underground water. However, as a result of seven dry years the farmers are in real trouble. It must be realised that up to 100 million gallons a day are used at certain times, primarily when cane is growing during the hot weather and when water is necessary to accelerate growth. Had the dam been built it would have been quite simple to replenish the underground basin by gravitation, whereas now an attempt is being made to pump water into the basin from the bed of the Burdekin River. Unfortunately, the river has stopped flowing and there is now no water to pump. This area produces sugar to the value of ?12 million a year. Since 1949 the sugar production would have been worth no less than ?160 million, quite apart from the excise revenue that would have been received from the tobacco production had the scheme been completed. The dam also envisaged the generation of hydro-electric power and it was planned that it could assist in the development of cattle fattening.
It is expected that Townsville could achieve a population of 80,000 within ten years. Water is already scarce in Townsville. It has been scarce for most of my life there. With the projected location of the Army task force and associated services in Townsville water will become even scarcer, notwithstanding the measures in hand to cope with normal growth. Sooner or later - and not much later - Townsville must look to one of the nearby rivers for its water supply - either the Burdekin or the Herbert. The case for the establishment of a dam on the Burdekin River still exists, despite the fact that it was rejected in 1949 by the Government.
I cannot understand why the Government will not set up a properly organised section to plan the development of the whole of northern Australia. This is definitely needed. At present people have no idea what is happening and they are not happy with the efforts of the Government so far. I know that the Government will point to the expenditure by the State Government and by private enterprise, but the whole question of development should have some definite pattern or plan. The failure of the Northern Division of the Department is significant in this regard. This Division, of course, was established as an election stunt, along with other provisions, but after two years it has not got off the ground in its own right. This is the general opinion throughout northern Queensland, and I should imagine is the opinion of most Australians, particularly those living in northern parts. When 1 note that annually about £30 million is allocated for expenditure in New Guinea I almost cry when 1 think of what such an expenditure could do for northern Queensland.
If we are ever to get heavy industries in northern Queensland there must be capital expenditure by the Government. It was proposed to construct a steel works in the area when Mr. E. G. Theodore was Premier of Queensland. His efforts to get French capital were sabotaged by the conservative members in the Opposition party, who followed him to Europe and put paid to his plans. Apart from planning the area, some move from the Treasury in the form of tax deductions and allowances, or subsidies on money spent for developmental purposes, would help. However, we all know how keen is that section of the administration on ideas like this.
Too much money is spent in the capital cities on tearing down perfectly good buildings and erecting new ones that after all are designed to serve the same purpose. This expenditure is to the detriment of Australia’s undeveloped areas. In northern Queensland today there are fewer people than there were 50 years ago. Were it not for Townsville and Mr Isa we would be even worse off. The mining towns of Charters Towers, Ravenswood, Cooktown and Ironbark - to name but a few - at one time had populations ranging from 10,000 to 25,000, but today their population is about 10 per cent, of what it was formerly. Of course, Mr Isa will continue to prosper for a long time, but the huge industrial complexes like Newcastle will exist for much longer, as would similar areas in northern Queensland had they been established. All we see in the old mining towns of northern Queensland are mullock heaps and holes in the ground. I hope that the Government will regard the Department of National Development a little more seriously in future.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is one of the most useful bodies we have in Australia. The results it achieves can never be assessed in money values. We are fortunate in Townsville in having the Tropical Pastures Laboratory situated alongside what will be the University of North Queensland and in conjunction with which much more will be achieved. Already the value of what was regarded as marginal land has doubled. Land that was worth 30s. an acre is now worth £3 an acre. With a breakthrough in the spear grass country not far distant, a lot more money will go into the pockets of those holding that land. The value of beef production must increase as a result of the development of new strains of grass and legumes and we will be in a position to capitalise on the world shortage of meat. This area, good as it is, will be much better for cattle fattening purposes. The C.S.I.R.O. laboratory in Townsville is staffed by dedicated and brilliant men, one of whom, Mr. Tony Johnstone, a Bachelor of Science, has achieved notable success in dealing with tick fever. The whole staff, led by Mr. Les Edye - himself dedicated to his work - is making a valuable contribution to the development of northern Queensland and to the city of Townsville itself.
.- I, too, should like to devote my time in this debate to the estimates relating to the Department of National Development. A quick look at the Appropriation Bill, reveals that some £6,504,000 is being spent by the Department on administration of the Bureau of Mineral Resources alone and £1,691,000 on field operations for this section. Whatever else the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) may say about the Department, it certainly has a lot of personnel associated with the development of Australia tied up in the Department itself in organising the development of this country.
Before getting into the main body of my speech, I should like to correct one or two statements - well intentioned no doubt - made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) in his contribution to the Budget debate on 31st August, some seven weeks ago. No doubt the honorable member was well intentioned but he certainly was badly informed about these matters. I quote his words which appear at page 626 of “ Hansard “ -
Let me be specific on these northern projects. There has been £114 million spent on the beef roads project which began in 1961-62. Only onequarter of a million pounds remains to be spent on the project. In a few months time not another penny will be available for beef roads in the States.
That is what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said on 31st August. The facts are contrary to his statements. For his information, expenditure to date is £8.697 million and £2.75 million is yet to be spent this year. In addition, another £2,680,000 is to be spent on beef roads in the Northern Territory. It seems to me that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition should have made this speech on 31st August 1966 and not on 31st August 1965. The same honorable member made another slip. No doubt he was well intentioned but he said -
In Western Australia, work on the Ord River project and the Broome and Wyndham jetties began back in the 19S8-S9 financial year. On these projects the Commonwealth has spent £8) million. Only £300,000 remains to be spent. That means that all the Commonwealth assistance for northern projects in Western Australia will peter out in the course of the next few months.
Again the facts are contrary to the information given by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, on 31st August, because during 1965-66 there is a further £1,133,000 remaining to be spent on this project in Western Australia. If one looks at the “ Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for year 1965-66” it will be found in Table No. 5, that the proposed expenditure this year under the Western Australia (Northern Development) Act is £1,133,000. It is possible, of course, that the information given to the honorable member was wrong or else he misread the year 1965 as 1966. Another slip by the same honorable member appeared on that same page of “ Hansard “. He said -
There are two projects which will continue to receive Commonwealth help throughout the year, to wit the Brigalow project and the Weipa development. They will both peter out next financial year. Such projects require planning. They require some time to get under way, but the Government has undertaken no plans to extend such projects. The Government has made no appropriations for any new projects to get under way.
The facts again are contrary to the information given by the honorable member at page 626 of “ Hansard “. The Estimate documents to which I have just referred show that under the Queensland (Brigalow Lands Development) Act the amount to be expended this year is £1 million. If the honorable member had a look at the details supplied by the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) from time to time he would see that another £4,150,000 is to be allocated up to the end of 1967 for brigalow projects.
As the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) has said, the Government has initiated many projects in the north, but being a free enterprise government we believe that private enterprise should do most of the work because when it is done by the Government the Australian taxpayer is the one who is made to pay. We believe that the tremendous work being done in the northwest of Western Australia and the northern part of Queensland should be done by private enterprise; if possible, with Australian pounds, shillings and pence, but if that is not possible and if the Australian people are unable to save enough money to invest in these mammoth projects, then the money must come from overseas. People overseas see the future of Australia a good deal better in perspective than honorable members opposite. In the next 20 years in the northwest of Western Australia in the Pilbara area some £200 million will be spent on wharfage facilities, on railroads, roads, on the dredging of harbours and on all the things that make up big enterprise. This sum of £200 million will be spent by private enterprise, .by State Governments and by the Federal Government. As a result, within the next 20 years, the export income which will become available to Australia will be £1,200 million.
These are tremendous figures and are contrary to the information given to honorable members by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro who indicated that some form of Government control should be set up over development in Australia. This is unnecessary. Each day that the Minister rises to answer a question on the development of iron ore deposits, and other developments in Australia, it is evident that the country is expanding so fast that the only limitation is that of labour. Men and materials are what we need to ensure that this country goes ahead at a fast and still faster rate. The Minister, this Government and members on this side of the chamber do have vision, but combined with it is a sense of practicability in relation to what can be done in a given time. Yesterday the Minister told the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Gibson) that £60 million worth of pelletised iron ore will be conveyed by special means from the Savage River area in Tasmania to the coast for export. There is development in the south, the west and the north-
– The east?
– The honorable member for Bowman has mentioned the east. I know that around the Gippsland Lakes area in Victoria there are tremendous prospects for oil and gas finds. There is nothing wrong with the way in which Australia is developing. It is the attitude of members of the Labour Party that seems to create - or they endeavour to create - gloom and discontent in the minds of the people of the country. I want to refer to some information about the petroleum companies. They plan to spend during 1965-66 more than they have ever spent before on oil search and on seismic operations in all parts of Australia. In fact 28 drilling rigs and 36 seismic crews will be in operation this year. That is an increase on the 20 drilling rigs and 27 seismic crews which were operating last year. To match this increased effort by private enterprise the Government has done what it should do in cases such as this and has increased the subsidy to oil search and drilling companies from £5 million to £5.7 million in 1965-66. The search for oil and gas in Australia is expanding in the west, the north, the south and even in the south east. Oil was discovered last year at Alton in Queensland and at Barrow Island in
Western Australia. Gas was discovered last year in all States of Australia with the exception of Tasmania and New South Wales. All honorable members have heard of Gidgealpa in South Australia, Mereenie in the Northern Territory, Yardarino in Western Australia and the areas off Gippsland and near Sale in Victoria. The discoveries in the Gilmore area in Queensland were mentioned only about 30 minutes ago by the honorable member for Evans. These are the wonderful things that are happening in respect of development in Australia. When honorable members opposite criticise the Minister for National Development and his Department and the work that they have done and will continue to do, they should contain themselves and do a little more reading and research into the things that are happening and will happen in Australia. This country has already involved itself in contracts for developmental works in Western Australia to the extent of over £200 million for the extraction, transportation and sale of iron ore, which will be sold overseas during the next 20 years for at least £1,200 million. More than 500 miles of standard gauge railway will be constructed as a result of these developmental undertakings and the resulting sales that will be made to the Japanese and other people.
Whilst talking about national development I think I should say that the State Governments also have a part to play. My attention has been directed to certain information in connection with standardisation of certain railways in Western Australia, in a part of Australia that needs development. The standardisation of the railway from Koolyanobbing to Kwinana is a job that should be completed on time, but I find that in the last three years this project has been underspent to the extent of more than £6 million. I believe that the States, particularly those that are underpopulated, should make a greater effort to ensure that money allocated by the Commonwealth Government is spent on the appropriate projects.
A similar situation applies in South Australia. Work on the standardisation of rail gauges in that State in the last two years has been underspent by £1,700,000. These are large amounts of money which the Commonwealth Government includes in its Budget year after year, and I believe that it is the responsibility of the States receiv- ing this money to ensure that every effort is made to spend it under the agreements reached between them and the Commonwealth. It is a sad thing when we are trying to develop this nation in the west and the north, when the people of Australia are prepared to contribute large amounts of money but the States, because of having over-reached themselves in other directions, cannot spend the money provided for various developmental projects.
The Department of National Development is an excellent Department for Australia. The Minister in the two or three years that he has been administering the Department has done a wonderful job for the Department, for this Parliament and for Australia itself.
.- The apology tendered by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn) for the failure of the Commonwealth Government to deal with problems in national development will not be accepted by the Opposition and, I feel sure, will not be accepted by the Australian people. The Department of National Development is suffering from two principal maladies, one being a lack of objectives and the other a lack of finance to carry out a vigorous plan of development. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn), speaking for the Government, has repeatedly made it clear that the Government has no time for plans and planners. It was in this spirit that the Australian Government refused to cooperate with the Governments of Western Australia and Queensland in setting up a northern Australian authority. In the same spirit the Government has refused to take action which would preserve the work force, with all its skilled leaders, which, with great credit to itself and this country, is building the Snowy Mountains project which has won world wide acclaim. The Minister has dismissed the need for a national fuel policy and has been content to allow our arrangements for the provision of fuels to develop in an uncoordinated fashion. For these reasons an academic discussion on details of the Estimates for the Department will not suffice.
As pointed out in the Vernon Report, national targets and objectives are essential and the will to achieve them is imperative if this nation is to go forward. It is little wonder that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has so contemptuously rejected the report of the Vernon Committee, because in that rejection he maintained the attitude of the anti-Labour parties in this Parliament of opposing plans and planners, even though the planners on this occasion where leading business executives of this nation and professors whose knowledge could not be questioned.
It is true that there is industrial activity in northern Australia, but this is mainly the work of companies engaged in excavating our mineral resources and exporting them to world markets. This ls what the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) has condemned, describing the process as making Australia a quarry for overseas companies. If anyone believes that this is the way to national development he is fooling himself. There is no future in this any more than there is a future for the people of the Island of Nauru in excavating the materials that have given them economic life in the past. ‘
What the Labour Party stands for is the development of our rich reserves of metals and minerals and the building of industry to attract population and people the empty north of Australia. The Labour Party believes in the effective occupation of Australia and the building of communities on a permanent basis. The attitude of the Minister in expressing Government policy is one of defeatism and despair. He has already asked: What is the use of production? He has said that we have no need for it and that the world will not buy our produce.
– Do not put words into my mouth.
– Such an attitude is hardly likely to inspire confidence and encourage development. During the debate on 12th October 1965 following the proposal to discuss, as a matter of urgency, the establishment of a National Conservation Authority, the Minister made the remarks to which I have just alluded. I will give his exact words, and perhaps he will then be content. He said -
When we look at the possibilities of tropical irrigation we find there is very little indeed which can be grown in northern Australia which can be exported and sold on the world market. The local market would not be sufficient to justify any major expansion of tropical irrigation such as would be envisaged by a national conservation authority of the type suggested by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro.
The Minister made it clear that there will be no development because there is no need for the produce that the land would yield. Why then the evasion of inquiry and investigation into the Ord River scheme, or any other scheme for that matter, when the Minister declares that there is no need for production and that no purpose could be served by conducting such inquiries? Despite what the Minister has said there is an unsatisfied demand in Australia for the goods that could be produced in northern Australia. Statistics of overseas trade confirm this statement. In the year ended 30th June 1965 we imported more than £8 million worth of raw cotton. Would it not have been better to produce that cotton on the Ord or somewhere else in north Australia, in Queensland or elsewhere, thus helping to expand population and build the nation. We also imported £39,807,000 worth of cotton and linen textiles. I find that we imported large quantities of various oils, such as olive oil, peanut oil and linseed oil, which are all essential for the development of the country. The importation of these goods seems to provide a reply to the Minister.
In any case, surely we have a responsibility to the rest of the world. The Minister has ignored the fact that we live in a world in which many millions of people are hungry and ill-clad. He also has ignored our geographic position. The failure to use our land, to people it and to produce, deserves the censure of this Parliament. Other nations less endowed with resources and technical capacity will undoubtedly have little respect for us. It is surely a compelling thought today that, although we satisfy our own needs, while the needs of others remain to be satisfied we are content to allow our land to remain idle. We should not refuse to develop it merely because we say that there is no-one to buy the produce from it. Food is required elsewhere in the world. There are millions of hungry people at present. We can grow an abundant supply of food and we have the responsibility to occupy and develop this country effectively. It is not much use our declaring to the agencies of the United Nations what we would like to do if we fail to do all the things we are capable of doing.
I intend now to deal with another subject. Two statements of national importance were recently made, one by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), the other by the Minister for National Development. The Prime Minister said -
We are at war. Make no mistake about it.
That is a very serious declaration. No more serious declaration could be made. The grave consequences of war call for, among other things, the marshalling of our resources. The Minister for National Development said in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) that we had 10 weeks supply of petrol in this country. The gravity of that position requires no emphasis by me. Such a perilous situation demands immediate action. Not only to meet the event of war, but for peace and development, an adequate supply of petrol is essential. A lack of petroleum products is probably one of the most serious gaps in our supply position. We are engaged in a national gamble to which we ought not to be committed, but the Government has been prepared to commit us. Let it be remembered that we gamble on the political stability and friendship of countries from whence we obtain our supplies. These countries could be overrun, their installations could be destroyed. We gamble on supplies reaching our shores, and this desperate situation demands immediate and positive action.
Oil search in its present form is unsatisfactory. Despite what the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn) has said about the search for oil, more must be done. Our oil search is also a gamble. We probe the earth for flow oil and we depend mainly on overseas companies with vested interests to drill the holes. We subsidise and finance these companies. Mr. Chairman, we ought to remember that we obtain our petroleum supplies from very chancy sources. We obtain our second largest supply of petrol from Indonesia which provides 22.6 per cent, of the world’s supply of petroleum products. Kuwait has 16.7 per cent, and Saudi Arabia 25.7 per cent, of world supply making a total of 65 per cent, of petroleum products from three sources of supply. Indonesia is the world’s eleventh largest producer of petroleum products and the second largest supplier to Australia. No one can doubt that it is an uncertain source of supply because of the lack of stability and the difficulties in Indonesia at the present time. We cannot measure with certainty what might happen in the future. So something ought to be done speedily to assure our supplies, not only in time of war but also in time of peace for the development of Australia. Oil search should be accelerated by the Australian Government through the Bureau of Mineral Resources. This division of the Department of National Development should extend its organisation and actively engage in the search for flow oil.
We have been dismayed by the thought that technicians and experts of the Bureau of Mineral Resources have left that organisation. They ought to be retained at all costs, because they are necessary to this country. To leave the field open to the domination of overseas companies is indefensible. Basically the latent wealth of this nation belongs to the people of Australia and the Government has a duty to search for oil in the national interest. In an emergency chaos must occur in our transport industries unless action is taken speedily. The Prime Minister said that we are at war. The Minister for National Development said that we have ten weeks supply of petroleum. Day by day and month by month industry after industry is converting to the use of petroleum products. Chaos must follow if there is any interruption to the supply. There is need, therefore, to take a new look at this question of petrol supplies and to do something about it. A lead needs to be given speedily to the Bureau of Mineral Resources.
A national fuel policy is required despite the Minister’s doubts about the constitutionality or the legality of such a policy. The Commonwealth Government is responsible for co-ordinating all the resources of energy in Australia. I pay a tribute to the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) who in a very thoughtful speech to the Parliament last evening directed attention to the need to use nuclear power both for generating energy and in the physical development of this country. His suggestion is a good one. It is necessary in considering a national fuel policy that we consider the roles of coal, oil, hydro power, the utilisation of the tides of Western Australia and all of the other sources of power available. We ought to see that our power is distributed efficiently and effectively for the overall good of Australia.
To assure continuity of essential services action should be taken without delay. Australia is fortunate in that it possesses rich oil shales - the very best in the world - capable of producing 100 gallons of crude oil to the ton of shale. I ask that action be taken without further delay to do something about this. Oil from coal and shale could help to supplement Australia’s supplies. Combined with oil from Moonie it could help to meet our defence requirements. The Prime Minister, in replying to a question asked by the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa), talked about rationing petroleum products in the case of disaster or of war. That is not good enough. We ought to act now and make sure that our future is assured.
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.15 p.m.
.- I wish to comment on two major issues arising out of the estimates for the Department of National Development and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I wish first to turn to the work of the C.S.I. R.O. [Quorum formed.] 1 thank the honorable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr. Curtin) for calling attention to the state of the Committee. I wish only that his colleagues would observe his call in the same manner as did Government supporters.
The report of the C.S.I.R.O. gives comprehensive details of the work carried out by this remarkable Australian Organisation. I look forward to the Organisation’s annual reports and I make sure that copies get into the hands of people who are associated with or interested in the scientific advancement of Australia, particularly in the rural field. The report discloses that in the last financial year more than £15 million was spent on investigations. Of this amount 39 per cent, was spent on agricultural research, 2.3 per cent, on fisheries, 8.7 per cent, on investigations into the processing of agricultural products. 9.7 per cent, on chemical research of industrial interest, 5.6 per cent. on investigations into the processing, recovery and use of minerals and coal, 7.6 per cent, on physical research of industrial interest, 6.2 per cent, on general physical research, 3.8 per cent, on general industrial research, 4.9 per cent, on wool textile research, 4.8 per cent, on research services and 7.4 per cent, on administration. Over the years the stature of the C.S.I.R.O. has continued to grow until now the Organisation holds an honoured position in the scientific field not only in Australia but in the whole world.
The Australian sugar industry has always placed great emphasis on scientific research, both in the field and on the manufacturing side. Research into the field problems of the sugar industry has for many years been capably handled by the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations with enormous benefits to the cane growers of Queensland, but for many years industry leaders have sought to improve facilities for research into milling problems. At a meeting in 1949 representatives of 26 sugar milling interests in Queensland enthusiastically adopted articles of association which led to the formation of Sugar Research Ltd. The company was incorporated and registered under the Queensland Companies Act on 22nd February 1949 as a company limited by guarantee. Sugar Research Ltd. is thus wholly supported by the sugar industry. It receives its income by annual levy of the 26 member mills in Queensland. Control of the organisation is completely in the hands of the Queensland industry and the board of directors, which is elected by the member mills. I have the honour to be a member of the board. The C.S.I.R.O. has a sugar research laboratory headed by Dr. Hatt, a well known scientist. The laboratory is situated at the University of Melbourne. In the main, the laboratory has been doing research work into the use of sugar other than the traditional manner. However, this work appears to have been taken to the limit of the resources available and there is a suggestion that further research will not be proceeded with. I have no argument with this approach but I think it is important for the C.S.I.R.O. to maintain its association with such a major export industry, particularly during the present period of low prices and when the industry is facing new technical problems. The industry requires all the scientific aid it’ can possibly get. There is no better way of obtaining this aid than through the well established Sugar Research Institute. I firmly believe that financial assistance should be provided for the Sugar Research Institute through the C.S.I.R.O. I am sure that not only honorable members but all Australians are proud of the C.S.I.R.O.
I turn now to the subject of national development. A lot has been said recently here and in another place about northern development, but I do not like the term “ northern development “. I prefer to refer to national development, because it is difficult to define just what is our north. When I am in Mackay 1 am told that I am in the north, but the people of Townsville tell me that their city, not Mackay, is the north, just as the people of Cairns tell me that their city and not Townsville is the north. This is why I would rather speak about national development than about northern development. In the debate on the Budget I said that in my opinion the greatest emphasis on national development in Queensland should be on irrigation. I now intend to elaborate on that statement. I might add that I am indebted to Mr. Harry Moore, Editor of the “ Australian Sugar Journal “ for a great deal of information with which he has been able to provide me after a considerable amount of research. As is well known to honorable members, Queensland is passing through one of its worst droughts. In many parts of the State the really serious drought has lasted for more than two years. The great loss to national income caused by the drought, apart from the serious losses caused to farming and pastoral communities, demands a national attitude towards this problem.
In many parts of Australia large schemes for the control of water courses have long been major projects. I look forward to their continuation in Queensland. In New South Wales, for instance, the Murrumbidgee irrigation scheme has brought enormous tracts of land into production. This area now produces substantial quantities of wool, rice, livestock, fruit and vegetables for the Commonwealth. New South Wales also has extensive irrigation projects at Coomealla, Tullakool, Buronga, Mallee Cliffs, Hay, Curlwaa and Coleambally with installations similar to those in the Murrumbidgee area.
The disastrous drought in Victoria in 1902 brought a new look to the water problems of that State. Now numerous water schemes are operating there. One of the best known schemes - it is world famous - is the Mildura irrigation area. Large reservoirs are located at Eildon, Waranga, Cairn Curran, Glenmaggie and many more places. In the Wimmera and Mallee, the irrigation system serves 7,000 farmers in an area of 11,000 square miles. This is approximately oneeighth of the total area of the State of Victoria. Without the supply of water, development in this area would be sparse and hazardous. In addition, about 300 farmers to the north of the system are provided with domestic and irrigation water directly from the Murray River. This is an example of the irrigation schemes that have been developed particularly in New South Wales and Victoria, which States had the foresight many years ago to see what would happen in a drought. In Victoria, the net capital liability of the Irrigation and Water Commission is now £115 million. Of this amount, approximately £78 million has been expended on irrigation and £8 million on domestic and stock systems.
Queensland has embarked on the construction of large reservoirs for irrigation and other purposes. The outstanding example is the Tinaroo Dam, which many honorable members have seen. But we need much more. Quite a number of farmers in Queensland provide their own irrigation, operating under licence to pump from streams and underground sources. It has been estimated that two-thirds of the total irrigated area in Queensland is supplied from underground sources. But we need more supplies of surface water. We have in the Clare, Millaroo and Dalberg areas in the Burdekin district an irrigation system that was provided originally for a tobacco scheme. This scheme failed and the area has now been converted to sugar cane growing. I have no doubt that the expense of irrigation in that area will be recouped from the proceeds of cane growing.
Irrigation is always a sound investment in the long run and this has been proved all over the world. Many honorable members will know of the spectacular Everglades scheme in America. It was thought out by a late president of the United States, who was in Australia at one time. I refer to Herbert
Hoover, who was one of the great engineers of all times. The people in Florida today can thank Herbert Hoover and the Everglades scheme for the vast production of sugar and other commodities in their area. In Australia, many of the Riverina settlements were established by irrigation. Queensland is playing its part in national development with its long railway transport systems for the conveyance of rural products, beef roads, electricity, port facilities and oil pipelines, and the use of natural gas is just around the corner. Queensland has also been playing its part in water conservation in no small way in schemes such as Tinaroo in north Queensland and other schemes in central and southern Queensland. But Queensland needs help and I think it can expect to receive help from the Commonwealth Government. However, irrigation is our most important challenge and should be given first priority in the great and growing State of Queensland. With the help of the Commonwealth Government, which not only has the financial resources but also has the technical know-how to make a successful attack on this vast problem, we in Queensland can play a big part in the development of Australia.
Mr. COLLARD (Kalgoorlie) [2.291. - The estimated expenditure of the Department of National Development for 1965-66 is £14,479,000. This is an increase over the provision for last year of only slightly more than £1,750,000. The Department of National Development is, or should be. one of the more important departments, for it covers a very wide field. The money I have mentioned must finance not only the administrative side of the Department itself, but must also pay the salaries, the administrative expenses and other services of the Northern Division, the Division of National Mapping, the Bureau of Mineral Resources, the Forestry and Timber Bureau, the Joint Coal Board and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Of the total amount that the Department expects to spend this year- that is, £14,479,000- £8,195,000 is earmarked for the Bureau of Mineral Resources. Of this, £5,700,000 is set aside for the subsidy that will be paid in the search for oil. It is also noted that of the increase of £1,755,532 this year, £1,421,538 will go to the Bureau of Mineral Resources. This means that, in round figures, we have only £334,000 more this year than we had last year to spread over all the divisions other than the Bureau of Mineral Resources. This clearly shows that we are not likely to see any major steps forward in national development during this financial year.
The Northern Division of the Department will receive a total of only £174,000, of which £73,500 will go to salaries, £35,500 to administration expenses and £65,000 to other services. These other services are the Kimberley Research Station and the gauging of the Ord River. Nothing is shown under the heading of the Northern Division as expenditure for last year and it could perhaps be thought that the £174,000 provided this year is really an additional amount that will be used by the Northern Division. Unfortunately, that is not so. A large part, if not all, of the £174,000 appeared last year under the Administrative Division of the Department and payments were made out of that vote for the Northern Division. For instance, the £65,000 for other services of the Northern Division was shown last year in the Administrative Division. Actually, no additional finance is provided this year for either the gauging of the Ord River or the Kimberley Research Station. Actually this year the Northern Division of the Department will receive very little more than it had last year. Taking into account the present higher costs and keeping in mind that costs will be increased further when the full effect of the Government’s action in increasing taxes and excise is felt, I suggest that the Government in making such a small amount of finance available to the Northern Division is deliberately restricting its activities.
When speaking in this House recently, the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) referred to problems that were facing the Government in relation to development and water conservation. He said that objections could be raised by some States if the Commonwealth entered those States to undertake major work. He also said that there may not be sufficient finance to carry out work beyond that being done at present. He said that the. first thing that has to be done is to decide what water we have available, what land we have available and what we can grow in the area that we can sell. He said that the last problem is the most serious of all. If the Government and the Minister are really interested - I am sure the Minister is genuinely interested - in tackling a water conservation and irrigation project in one of the States, they have the opportunity to do so right now in an area and in a State where the problems posed by the Minister do not actually exist. I refer to the damming of the Gascoyne River at Carnarvon in Western Australia. This is very important and necessary for this area.
On 18th August of this year, the State member for Gascoyne, Mr. Norton, moved this motion -
That the damming of the Gascoyne River for the stabilising, developing, and expanding of intensive agriculture on the Gascoyne Delta and along the Gascoyne River is of such State and national importance as to require urgent action by the State Government to proceed at an early date with the construction of the necessary head works.
For the information of honorable members, I point out that Carnarvon is noted for its production of bananas and vegetables. Only the lack of sufficient water storage causes the industry to be so much smaller than it actually should be. Carnarvon has everything else that makes it so suitable for growing produce of a tropical nature. It has the added attraction of being only 600 miles by bitumen road from the capital city and in addition it is one of the northwest ports. I am told that records will prove that Carnarvon has produced vegetables to the average value of about £765 an acre. It has produced up to 830 bushels of bananas an acre and has an average of about 600 bushels an acre, which, I understand, is far in advance of the other States. I am told also that the plantation area at Carnarvon at present is 4,500 acres of freehold land, but because of lack of water only about one third of this is productive. I understand that with sufficient water a further 250,000 acres could be put into production. I also wish to point out that an economic survey of irrigation on the Gascoyne River was carried out in 1962 by Messrs. Parker and Nalson. Unfortunately I have not time to quote much from the report on the survey. At one point, it states -
In the absence of measures to stabilise or develop the agricultural industry at Carnarvon, the situation is likely to deteriorate still further and a severe drought could force many of the newly established producers to leave the area.
Later it adds -
There are strong economic grounds for stabilising the industry.
It goes on to give the reasons, and it also outlines with what it describes as economic forces favoring the expansion of irrigated agriculture at Carnarvon and deals extensively with what could be produced if sufficient water were available.
One of the fears about the Ord River project that was expressed by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) concerned the possibility that the ground would not stand up to continual cropping. This would certainly not apply at Carnarvon, for it has been well proved that crops can be grown continuously for as long as 16 years without any indication of a breakdown in soil value. I would be very much surprised if anyone who has even a slight knowledge of what can be produced agriculturally at Carnarvon and of the quality of what is produced would suggest that any difficulties would be experienced in relation to marketing. In fact, the report that I have just mentioned dealt with potential demand and pointed out that by 1975 an additional 1,100 acres of vegetables and between 900 and 1,200 more acres of bananas, as well as several acres of citrus and tropical fruits and a much larger acreage of date palms will be required.
There is certainly no shortage of water available for storage, though the Minister tor National Development suggested otherwise. There are several sites at which dams could be constructed at very reasonable cost according to what I have been able to learn. The figure given for the cost of a dam at one site is approximately £H million, with £1 million more for associated works such as irrigation channels, &c. That was the estimate two or three years ago, and the cost could be slightly higher by this time. Surely this is not beyond the capacity of the Commonwealth considering the value of what could be achieved.
The only other possible problem raised by the Minister with which I have not dealt is the possibility that a State Government might object to the Commonwealth’s moving in and undertaking the planning, surveying and actual construction work for a project. To prove that no objection would be raised in this case, I wish to quote what the Minister for the North-West in the Western Australian Government said when speaking in the debate on the motion moved by the member for Gascoyne in the State House of Assembly. The State Minister said -
If the House passes such a motion it will only be a pious move, because there is not the sort of money available to undertake that project. Obviously when it is undertaken it will have to be with funds we receive at the national level.
He then proposed an amendment designed to make the motion read as follows -
That the damming of the Gascoyne River for the stabilising, developing, and expanding of intensive agriculture on the Gascoyne Delta and along the Gascoyne River may be feasible and the Stats Government is requested to continue the research into both the engineering and agricultural problems and potential in conjunction with the Northern Division of the Commonwealth Department of National Development; and make further approaches to the Commonwealth Government for any proposal proved desirable to be accepted as a Commonwealth-State Northern Development project.
I suggest that the way is now wide open to the Commonwealth to move in immediately and give attention to this very worthy and necessary project. This Government need have no fear that any obstacles will be placed in the way. As I said earlier, here is an opportunity for the Government to show whether it is genuinely interested in northern development and really wants the Northern Division of the Department of National Development to prove itself in this direction.
On every occasion when we on this side of the Parliament have challenged the Government on its lack of interest in the north, water conservation or decentralisation, we have found it falling back for its defence on what it was committed to doing several years ago. It never seems to have any plans for the future. It describes the Northern Division as the planning body for the north and claims that it provides the solution to all the problems. But because nothing has been done and nothing new is contemplated, people are now saying that the Division only represents an attempt to smother up - that it is something for the Government to hide behind. The general view is that the Government does not expect the Division to plan anything, to solve anything or to start anything. If it should look like becoming over-enthusiastic and putting forward suggestions that the Government finds difficult to reject, the Government quickly takes action to damp down the issue. So, even though the staff of the Division is very keen to do a job and would do it if given a free rein, this Administration makes sure that it has not a chance to do anything. As I said earlier, here is an opportunity for the Government to dispel some of the public criticism, announce immediately that the Gascoyne River project will be immediately investigated and send the necessary team of experts to the area to ascertain the best means of getting the project under way.
Earlier today, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn) endeavoured to argue away the facts placed before honorable members by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) in the Budget debate. The honorable member claimed that this Government was pushing ahead with development in the north of Western Australia and that it was wrong for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to suggest otherwise. The fact is that the Budget documents show that in 1965-66 £151,000 less than was spent last financial year will be spent on development in the north of Western Australia. The Budget documents show also that during the current financial year payments under the Northern Development Agreement will be completed. There is no suggestion of anything for the future under that heading. This proves that no projects are planned and that the criticisms of the Government made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition were justified. The people of Australia are becoming heartily sick and tired of hearing Government suporters express interest in the north and then do nothing about it. Millions of pounds are spent by way of comments by Government supporters in this chamber, but when the acid test is put on them and they are asked to stand and deliver some of the funds promised, they run for cover. It is time they came out in the open and declared themselves by action instead of by idle words.
In conclusion, Sir, I want to say that it is amazing to see the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Shaw) now becoming a little active in this chamber on the issue of northern development. This has happened only since Dr. Patterson decided to throw bis hat into the ring in the Dawson electorate in the next Federal general election. It is obvious that something has been achieved and that the people of Dawson can perhaps expect a little more activity on the part of their member. It may be that he has become very disturbed also by the number of opponents putting up against him for preselection. Whatever may be the reason, he is now becoming a little concerned because he can see that Dr. Patterson obviously is a formidable opponent who is likely to knock him out at the next election.
.- Mr.Temporary Chairman, I wish first to deal with a couple of points that have arisen as a result of the speech just made by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard). He stated that this Government had neglected its duty with respect to the development of water resources. That claim is completely wrong. This Government instituted the Australian Water Resources Council, which is engaged in an active and exhaustive study of a problem in respect of which conclusive results will not be seen for many years. The country is vast and the rainfall is variable and therefore we can arrive at accurate conclusions as to the amount of water available only after many years. Had the Australian Labour Party, when it was in office, shown the slightest interest in this problem and then instituted a body similar to the Water Resources Council, we would more than likely have had reliable data available to us by now. The honorable member took issue also with the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn) in relation to his analysis of the very misleading statements made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). I invite honorable members to read the two speeches objectively and to judge for themselves who is on the side of truth. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition made many very misleading statements. He said recently, for example, that all work has now ceased on the Mount Isa railway line, quite clearly implying that the Commonwealth Government had put a stopper to any further development. The simple fact is that the Mr Isa railway line has now been completed and there is no need for any further work to be done on the line because the job has already been done so very well.
At present we are considering estimates for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Department of National Development. I propose to consider both organisations together because, in my view, they are inextricably united. For instance, the C.S.I.R.O. investigations for the year 1965-66 are grouped into 18 categories. It would be too tedious to list all the work being undertaken, but it is a fact that much of the work in each of these categories has a fundamental bearing upon the development of our great country. I should like to pay my small tribute to the magnificent way in which this great body, the C.S.I.R.O., is carrying out this essential work. The only responsible way in which one can set about this problem is to institute exhaustive investigations by experts.
Ours is a reluctant country. Throughout our entire history we see a pattern of initial failure, followed by success only after thought, study and repeated experiment. Even the first fleet had this experience, and failure and despair have been repeated right up to this very decade among those who have ventured too far and too fast before making a full appreciation of the problems to be faced. It is not just by chance that Australia was inhabited by only a handful of very primitive people before the coming of the white man. The Melanesians and Malays, at least, knew a great deal about this country. In fact, they knew enough about it to make only sporadic visits to its shores and not any attempt at colonisation.
The Government has for years been embarked on a steady assessment of problems of development and a search for those hidden difficulties which have a habit of revealing themselves too late to be overcome. The next man in benefits, but only at the price of his predecessor’s failure. For the most part these have been small private tragedies, although a number have been on a grander scale. The Northern Territory, for example, has witnessed countless small disasters, but several major ones. The two best known are Horatio Bottomley’s scheme and the very recent Humpty Doo rice project which lost millions of pounds. Rice can almost certainly be grown successfully in the Northern Territory and I am sure that it soon will be. But the C.S.I.R.O. is still carrying out its investigations. No doubt the coastal plains east of Darwin will one day be transformed into a successful rice growing area. The time is at hand, but not just yet. An irresponsible government could easily curry favour with the electorate by embarking upon some spectacular and high sounding scheme for our north. I am proud and thankful that the Government has resisted this temptation. We owe a responsibility to the taxpayer, who is already contributing handsomely to our national development. We owe a responsibility also to those people in the field who would uproot themselves and risk their families and fortunes in inhospitable country.
We should bear in mind that the failure of a scheme tends to discourage further development in that area, and I think that this is a very important point to remember. There is another aspect to this problem which merits serious consideration: Who might properly carry out this important task? I believe that ultimately only private enterprise can successfully be entrusted with this work. We have some data from which we can make comparisons. The Australian Mutual Provident Society and, more recently, another private organisation, have made worthless, unproductive sandy desert in South Australia blossom like the rose. The same is being done at Esperance in Western Australia. But only people with a personal stake in the country have the necessary incentive to accept completely, and therefore successfully, the iron discipline which is vital in difficult areas.
Queensland began its life as an independent State only a century ago and began it with great vitality and quite spectacular development. In 1915 a Labour government seized the reins and, being full of crusading socialist zeal, tried to nationalise everything in sight. Every single socialised project failed, but the one I want to mention especially is the government cattle station at Rewan. Rewan is now a very successful private undertaking, but as a government controlled property it was a hopeless shambles, to put the best complexion on it, which cost the taxpayer a great deal of money. Nothing about it was well organised and businesslike. Even the cattle dip was badly designed and would not hold water. This is not unique because we know of repeated failures in socialised primary production in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and in China. It might be of interest to learn that before Labour’s long rule in Queensland, per capita productivity was the highest in Australia. But the pace of progress slowed down to utter stagnation under Labour and it is only now that under an Australian Country Party and Liberal Party coalition Government the Queen of the North is steadily but surely rising to her rightful place of pre-eminence.
But now, if miraculously we could overcome all the problems involved in embarking upon tropical agriculture in semi-arid country which has never been cultivated before, and if the associated irrigation schemes, which would have to be instituted before we would know how much water was available, all worked, what would we grow? We must grow either food or such fibre producing plants as cotton. We do not want any new cotton growing areas because existing areas in Australia will soon produce all our domestic needs. To export successfully we must compete with low cost countries and with the heavily subsidised produce of the United States of America. 1 am sure that the taxpayer would hardly want this. What food, then, shall we grow? We supply all of our own domestic needs, as will be seen from a perusal of Overseas Trade Bulletin No. 61 which takes us up to the end of the year 1963-64. Here we see that we import surprisingly little essential food. Most of our imports are luxury foods. We do, however, import more than £11 million worth of fish each year. Apart from tea to the value of £11.8 million which we could not grow in the north anyway, this is by far the biggest item. I do not think the outer Barcoo can help us out with fish production. However, it is interesting to note that the Federal Government through the C.S.I.R.O. and the Department of Primary Industry is making a substantial contribution to fish production, as are the State Governments. The State Government in Queensland has been investigating the problems of increasing fish production, with great success, as will be seen in the near future.
What food could we grow in this area? I think that we are inexorably brought to one item of foodstuffs and that is meat. Meal is an item with an ever-increasing world demand. New avenues for the export of this product are arising almost every month and the price is being well maintained. Therefore, I believe that Australia, if it is going to be responsible in this matter, can properly turn its attention to meat. Grain foodstuffs admittedly can be grown there, but the economy of them is very dubious. I think it would be very nice for Australia to be the food bowl of Asia and, in a saner world, I have no doubt that that would be the case. But the simple fact remains that under some of the inefficient governments that we see in these so-called emerging countries, even the gifts of foodstuffs which we send to them very often just rot upon the wharves and are not used by the starving people. As it stands we just cannot afford to give our food away. We are only a small country of a few million people, and, with the best will in the world, our economy just cannot afford to allow us to make gifts of the food that we can undoubtedly grow. So we are faced with this problem and the answer is to produce meat. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Harding) has paid tribute to the magnificent work done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in the Townsville district where the problems associated with the breeding and even fattening of cattle in the dry north have almost all been overcome. In the very near future production of meat in this area will probably be expanded beyond our wildest dreams simply by the introduction of Townsville lucerne and the use of very small quantities of superphosphate. This in itself is going to set the pattern for an enormous upsurge of food production in this country.
I hope 1 have not created a wrong impression by what I have said previously. The fact is that this country is developing with great rapidity. Areas thought to be completely uninhabitable only a few years ago have begun a fantastic expansion. As I have said before, I was privileged to be a medical officer in the North not so long ago. I left there in 1949. 1 returned recently, and I can assure this Committee that the whole area has been completely transformed.
– The sign of good government.
– The result of good government. There is a definite aura of confidence there which is soundly based. Ports, railway lines, towns and mines are. being established in a veritable wilderness. Our water resources there are being actively estimated. The minerals to be mined have been discovered as a result of the combined effort of the Government and private enterprise over the last years.
This has been the pattern of development of this country from the beginning. Minerals have attracted settlement and consolidation has ensued. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) made some gloomy prognostications and said that as soon as mining activities lessened the population would go away. That has not been our experience. I simply point without comment, because 1 have not the time, to Gympie, Mr lsa, Broken Hill, Whyalla and Mount Morgan - all towns established as mining ventures which have expanded in other directions and which are major centres of population today.
– Ballarat, too.
– Yes, Ballarat, as the honorable member for Riverina says. This country is progressing steadily at an ever increasing rate. This is due to responsible government and to the magnificent work done by the members of the Government, especially by the responsible Ministers, to whom tribute must be paid for the skill and sense of responsibility they have brought to bear on the problem. The Government has a grave responsibility.It can do nothing without spending the taxpayers’ money. It must therefore subject every Government sponsored project to careful scrutiny before authorising payment. All of us here love our country. We want to see it prosper. We want to see it grow to greatness. We want to ensure that it has adequate protection “ against the envy of less happy lands.” At least, we on this side do. But we must not allow these wishes and aspirations to translate themselves into precipitate activity based upon hope rather than upon hard fact, or into an excuse for socialist experimentation. There is no doubt that the Opposition has begun to look at national development through rose coloured spectacles. Here, so honorable members opposite think, is a golden opportunity to bring two birds to a premature demise with one stone. The first bird is the elector who they hope will possibly be at least stunned into thinking that this Government has neglected its duty in this field.
– But not for long.
– Not for long. The second bird is the old socialist crow. Make no mistake, a crash programme of northern development instituted at this stage would not only be a national disaster but would also involve such economic stringencies and hamstringing of the economy and of the taxpayers that socialism would be inevitable. But this stone will not frighten the bird off the ground. In fact, the bird has lost so many feathers that I doubt whether the Socialist fowl will ever fly again.
Bolshie bird, when will you soar? Quoth the raven, “Never more”.
.- I wish to address my remarks to the estimates for the Department of National Development and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. But, firstly, I feel I ought to reply to some of the arguments adduced by the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs). Again today, as on previous occasions, the honorable member has given us a dissertation on socialism. Socialism, of course, means many things to many people. The Australian Labour Party believes in Socialism. But we do not visualise that nothern development or national development will be carried out purely under a Socialist system. What we say is that some element of Socialism is needed in the development of Northern Australia if we are to create that economic climate in which private enterprise can prosper.
I throw out a challenge to the honorable member for Bowman. If he studies the advances which have been taking place in the north over more recent times, he will find that they have resulted from the investment of large amounts of government money. One project that he should examine is the construction of Tinaroo Dam. That was attacked by his colleagues in the State Parliament, but having been built, it has done much for the generation of hydroelectric power and it has contributed greatly in placing people on the land in the Mareeba-Dimbulah tobacco growing area.
It is one of the finest examples of how the Socialist concept is helping individual Australians.
The Australian Labour Party has no intention of seeing the North covered by collective farms. There are plenty of the crows to which the honorable member referred still flying round up there, I will agree, but if the north of this country is to be developed it will be developed by a combination of socialist enterprise and private enterprise. The very existence of the Department of National Development - a government Department which is interested in preparing the field for economic development - is an indication that this Government believes in Socialism in some measure. I think it was King Edward VH who said: “We are all socialists now.” I would not think that anything that has happened in the past 60 years would have reversed this process. It is merely a question of degree.
The honorable member for Bowman concentrated largely on agriculture. We of the Labour Party think that when these matters arc being discussed too much emphasis is placed on agriculture and the pastoral industry as means of developing the north. The unfortunate part of it all is that, apart from the exploitive development of mineral resources, we do not know what the other resources of the north are or what their capacity for development is. So I would like to address my remarks to the estimates for the two Departments concerned and to some general questions of scientific research as applied to the development of Australia.
Firstly, it is unfortunate that the Government does not bring down a document summarising all the money it is spending on scientific research under various departmental headings. In the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department, we find provision for subsidies paid to the Australian Academy of Science. We note also that provision is made for medical research in various other fields. There is room, I think, for some comprehensive document setting out particulars of the scientific research done in Australia similar to the document we received recently which set out details of medical research that had been carried out with the assistance of Commonwealth funds.
I should like here to pay tribute to the work done by the Department of National Development and by C.S.I.R.O. Both these organisations have done good work within the restrictive frameworks within which they operate today. The estimates for the current year provide for only a moderate increase in expenditure by the Department of National Development and this is due mainly to an increased provision for subsidy on oil exploration paid through the Bureau of Mineral Resources. There is an increase provided to the C.S.I.R.O. for investigation, but there is to be a decrease in capital expenditure.
It seems to me that there are numerous problems in the fields covered by both these organisations and by the various State departments which are not being adequately looked at today. For example, there is the problem of co-ordination of scientific investigation to prevent overlapping in research. I say that because in the north there are some excellent research stations operated by the C.S.I.R.O. and there are some equally excellent research stations operated by the State through the Queensland Department of Primary Industries as it is known now. A good case can be made for the integration and co-ordination of the research programmes of some of these stations. This is a question that could be well looked at by the Department of National Development. I think that any proper research programme requires flexibility in its budget allocation, and I suggest that the argument that has been applied to long term capital development - that we ought in this country to have a capital expenditure budget extending over a number of years - could quite well be applied to research budgeting. I think we ought to be able to say to an organisation like C.S.I.R.O.: “ We guarantee you a certain amount of money each year for the next five years” and we ought to allow the organisation some flexibility in the way it spends the money. Many important fields are neglected today because the States have no resources and the Commonwealth reveals no interest. One of the items that occurs to me is the compilation of an up to date work on Australian flora. In Queensland, botanists are working on Frederick Manson Bailey’s “ The Queensland Flora “, which was published in either the late 1890’s or the early years of this century. For Australia as a whole we have Bentham’s “ Flora Aus.traliensis “ which, I think, was published in 1878. It is well known that we should have done something in Australia years ago in the field of systematic botany. No State by itself has the resources, and the Commonwealth has shown no interest to this stage, although submissions have been made from various meetings of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science over a number of years. I put it to the Minister that this is the sort of field in which his Department ought to be interested.
– Is the honorable member suggesting that the Department of National Development take over the C.S.I.R.O.?
– Not at all. What I am saying is that the C.S.I.R.O., the Department of National Development and other instrumentalities that I propose to talk about soon should look at the question of this work that is not being done in Australia but which is needed and which is too much for the States, financially and in terms of the area involved. There are many aspects of State responsibility that affect the nation and on which more work should be done by way of co-ordination. One of these fields is related to forestry. State Governments are notoriously loath to spend loan money on forestry and irrigation because long term investment is involved. One can spend loan money on schools, roads and other projects and get an almost immediate return, but if money is put into forestry it is 30, 40 or 50 years before the timber can be milled and, consequently, the pressure of keeping the electorate happy and other factors being what they are State Governments generally tend to neglect expenditure in some important fields. The Commonwealth Government should examine some of these aspects. I agree that forestry is a State responsibility. At present, because of over afforestation in softwoods in New Zealand some years ago and because we have been able to draw on softwood supplies from New Guinea, we are being lulled into a state of unrealism. We do not know what the future holds - perhaps an independent New Guinea. We do not know what the future holds for forestry in New Zealand. I am informed that much of the timber that was overplanted is now deteriorating through age. This is the sort of question we should be looking at in this country, even though it is a State responsibility. Sooner or later it will be a national burden if our forestry plans do not keep pace with Australia’s requirements.
The fifth problem that occurs to me is that we ought to be doing more research into areas occupied by existing industries in order to ascertain what other potentials some of these areas have. For example, let us consider the tobacco industry. Near Mareeba there is an excellent C.S.I.R.O. tobacco research station. This area is being developed for tobacco growing. However, we should also be in the position to indicate to people what else can be done with this land if it is not usable for tobacco growing. I do not know the future of the tobacco industry, but responsible Ministries of Health in other parts of the world have seen fit to put a damper on television advertising encouraging young people to smoke. We ought also to look at some of the areas at present under sugar. I do not think there can be any doubt that we will be lucky in future if we can hold the same amount of land in Queensland under sugar as we do now. With the very good prices for sugar that prevailed until recently a lot of marginal land was brought under the plough. Perhaps a future independent New Guinea will elect to go in for sugar production. This would place the economy of Queensland and the Australian sugar industry in a very difficult position. In those circumstances we would have to do something else with the land. The Queensland Government has been thinking in terms of fat cattle raising. That is all right but, as my friend and colleague the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Harding) and others have said today, it does not retain population on the land. The same number of people would not be required to look after fat cattle as are employed in the sugar industry. This was a problem on the Burdekin River. The area on the Burdekin was originally designed for tobacco growing. Because of bad scientific investigation and bad mapping of soils - a high proportion of the Barratta and Oakey soils in the area were unsuitable for agriculture - many soldier settlers who went on the land lost all of their investment. In addition, of course, they were not able to receive a sufficient advance under the war service land settlement scheme to enable them to establish the industry properly. Most of these areas are now growing sugar. After having gone through a bad patch with tobacco, the farmers have had a few years of prosperity with sugar but now the future of sugar appears uncertain. 1 think we need research that can be flexible enough to look at these questions ahead of the need. The fact is that the Department of National Development is able to provide certain services in a very restricted and narrow field. It has officers who are able to assess submissions for assistance made by the various State Governments. I should like to see introduced into this Department a new concept giving it some flexibility in research to enable it to co-ordinate all forms of research in the north of Australia. This can be done only by the Commonwealth or one of its instrumentalities. Somebody could well argue that we have not the constitutional power to do this. In the first place we did not have the constitutional power to build the Snowy Mountains scheme. But when the States are convinced that something is to their advantage they are always particularly anxious to come to the conference table. 1 should like to draw the Committee’s attention to a few aspects of the policy of the Australian Labour Party as it relates to science and technology. I read from the Federal platform produced by the recent Commonwealth conference of the Labour Party on relation to science and technology, as follows -
Labour therefore proposes -
Science and Technology, charged with reviewing policy on science and technology, and the scientific aspects of general governmental policy.
I should think that this is a Socialist concept. Perhaps it would not endear itself to the heart of the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs), but certainly if applied - and it will be applied by a future Labour Government - it would encourage in Australia a degree of national development quite unknown under the present Government.
.- There is perhaps no more important subject than that of development today. I believe that Australia is entering upon a phase of its history that will be more important than anything we have seen. We must develop this country if we are to hold it, or be entitled to hold it. Many of us have seen tremendous advances in the last few years. Situated as we are in this part of the world we must not only develop our trade with the countless millions to our north but we must also give a lead to many of the people who are looking to us in a way that they have never looked to any European nation in the past.
Closely tied up with our development of course is the Department of National Development. The major work carried out recently, and one which is of world standard, is that being done by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority under the supervision and direction of that very great Australian, Sir William Hudson. He is a man of courage and vision, not a theorist or economist. He is a man with scientific knowledge backed by sound practical experience and practical sense. What he has done in this country has been an example to many other countries in the world. Water is our most valuable commodity and the Snowy Mountains Authority has shown what it is possible to do, with determination and imagination, to conserve vast quantities of water. We have seen what can be done to generate tremendous quantities of power while we are storing water.
Tied up with the work in the Snowy Mountains is the Blowering Dam which is actually a State project. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), in his usual loose manner of handling the truth, suggested in this chamber the other day that I had had very little to do or say about the Blowering Dam. I do not know whether he was merely mishandling the truth or whether he is completely ignorant of what has been done about the Blowering Dam. The story of that dam is that the State Labour Government promised it on three electoral occasions but obviously had no intention whatever of building it. As chairman of the local electoral council, I was responsible for bringing to that area a number of Commonwealth and State parliamentarians and Commonwealth Ministers to try to get some action. Whether it was a result of that visit I do not know, but it was soon after that time that the Commonwealth Government moved in and made available to the State money free of interest with which to build that dam. So the work was started and today we see that it is progressing. This is a project about which I know a good deal. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would like to make himself better informed I suggest that he talk with members of the Blowering Settlers’ Association and they will tell him the story.
I want to refer, now, to the development in the irrigation areas as a result of the storage of this vast quantity of water. Tremendous settlement and increases in food production have taken place. There has been a rise in population and a decentralisation of our population away from the big centres, following the course of the rivers and the spread of irrigation. But still I think a great deal more must be done and can be done. Sometimes we are carried away with the image of irrigation. Sometimes we forget that we could make even better use of water. I am mindful of what can be done in many areas of providing reticulated stock water and domestic water. I believe that even greater production could be obtained from the use of existing quantities of water if they were reticulated for stock and domestic supplies over the better areas of the State. Nothing restricts the development of a property more - and the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) would know this as well as I do - and nothing is more costly than the lack of good stock water. The potential of the areas close . to the irrigation area could be lifted tremendously if stock water were available. The people in Western Australia, perhaps, have a little more imagination. I am mindful of a scheme in that State where an area of over nine million acres was improved with water reticulated to thousands of farms and production was lifted tremendously over a period.
This sort of thing is an economic proposition and it can be done. We are told by economists that it is not economical. We were told recently in my own area that it was not economical to provide sufficient water to the towns to eliminate water rationing. We were told that people in country towns could expect rationing for at least three months of every year whether there was a drought or not. This was the story told to the people of that area by the former Labour Government of New South Wales. We find that already the new Government in New South Wales is moving ahead with the supply of water to country towns. Without water being available in country towns what is the use of talking about decentralisation or development? Abattoirs, particularly, need vast quantities of water. These are projects which we can develop and are developing in our country towns. But we must have plentiful supplies. The economists have tried to prove all along the line that the Snowy Mountains scheme itself was not an economic proposition. They are still trying to prove that that is so.
The Ord River scheme undoubtedly has a tremendous future. We have seen there the development that can be accomplished by holding water close to where it is required. We have seen what can be done to develop these vast areas of our north by using foresight and vision and storing water close to where it can be used economically on what is very fertile land. Economists seldom have vision, seldom look to the future and seldom see the possibilities. What we need in this country more than anything else is men of courage, imagination and vision who are prepared to take the calculated risks that our forefathers took. I sometimes wonder how many economists came to Australia with the first fleet and how many went to the United States of America with the first settlers. Our early settlers founded this nation. They were the people who, with vision, determination and know-how, got busy while the economists were telling them that such propositions were uneconomical.
I believe Australia is neglecting, perhaps, the greatest asset that any country could possibly have. I refer to the thousands of young men in Australia. I have spoken on this theme before. There are thousands of young men in Australia who, because of our present banking set-up, have not the finance to set themselves up on a property. They would be prepared to give the best part of their lives to carve out and develop a property on some of our unimproved country. As I have said often before, these people are not asking for high wages and short hours or for special consideration. They just want the chance to do something for themselves. I have met many young men who, because they were frustrated and could not get finance, went into deadend jobs; yet they had the ability and know-how to develop this country. What greater asset can any nation have than young men who are prepared to go out and work strenuously for long hours to develop it?
I briefly want to touch on the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Perhaps no organisation has done more for Australia. I think of all the work that it has done from the time it developed myxomatosis. The Organisation’s work in that field did more to help production in Australia than any other single development for which it has been responsible. 1 also think of the development of new pastures, better breeding techniques, and other development in our north which was fostered by the C.S.I.R.O. When travelling in our northern areas we see what can be done in vast areas of country which have a particularly high rainfall and tremendous potential. We realise then just how much we owe to this Organisation that has given us this knowledge. In a recent tour of the north, wc saw properties which in their natural state were carrying only a beast to 10 or 20 acres, and not carrying it very well. We saw country which would fatten a beast only until it was five or six years old and we saw how, when this country had been treated with phosphate and by the spread of the new tropical legume, it was carrying up to a beast to two acres. We saw breeding stock in wonderful condition on areas carrying a beast to two acres. We saw young cattle being fattened at 18 months and breeding herds in which the calving percentage had jumped from under 50 per cent, to over 90 per cent.
When we realise the hundreds of thousands of acres that are available for such development we realise and appreciate the value of the scientists attached to C.S.I.R.O. At Townsville we visited one of the most modern laboratories built for very many years. There we listened to a group of young scientists - keen vigorous men with vision for the future. These men are nation builders. They are doing practical things by taking the experiments which they have conducted in the laboratories out into the fields and proving them in a practical way in the broad acres. It is said in the north - I believe with some justification - that it is possible that the sale of beef could earn greater export income for Australia in the foreseeable future than wheat. But do not think that the production of meat is confined to the north. When visiting my home State of Victoria recently I was told that Victoria produces more cattle than Queensland. I am not sure that this is correct, and in fact I challenged it, but apparently it is widely believed. The tremendous increase in beef cattle production in Victoria, even on comparatively small farms, is something that has to be seen to be believed.
This is the kind of activity that earns export income and enables the country to develop and build up its industries. Industries we must have if we are to give employment to large numbers of people, and the C.S.I.R.O. has done tremendous work in the development of secondary industries, particularly in fields such as the processing of textiles. This country is running no risk at all in spending vast sums on an organisation that has done such magnificent work as the C.S.I.R.O. has. Undoubtedly the greatest proportion of its work has been in the pastoral and agricultural fields. About 36.6 per cent, of the total expenditure, or nearly £4 million is spent on the development of rural industries. I need mention only what has been done in the improvement of woollen fabrics. A tremendous amount of work has been carried out in this field, is still being carried out and will be continued for a long time to come. We have seen what the C.S.I.R.O. has done in solving nutritional problems and many other problems. Today we can say that the two organisations, the Department of National Development and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, have perhaps contributed more to the progress and development of this country than any other two organisations have for many years past.
.- I wish to refer to the Estimates for the Department of National Development. I regret that the Minister has made no plans for the completion of what would be to Newcastle a very important project, the Sandy Hollow to Maryvale railway. If this line were completed it would make a major contribution to the development of the port and city of Newcastle. Recently exercises were carried out by units of the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal New Zealand Air Force together with aircraft from the United States Air Force. In these exercises the obsolete Canberra bombers of the R.A.A.F. were able to break through the defences which used what is allegedly the best and most modern fighter-intercepter aircraft in the world, the Mirage, which has been put into service by the R.A.A.F. as our No. 1 front line defence aircraft. The obsolete Canberras were able to get through and notionally destroy a number of bridges, seriously affecting transport between Sydney and Newcastle. The Hawkesbury River Bridge, the Dora Creek Bridge, and the bridge at Swansea were all notionally destroyed. This being so - and when asked a question last Thursday the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) did not deny the truth of Press reports on the matter - a very serious problem arises in connection with the future defences of Australia. One of the most important north-south lines of communication in New South Wales could easily be cut, and the general defence plans of Australia could be thrown into complete chaos. Therefore I say that the completion of the Sandy Hollow to Maryvale railway not only will confer very definite and positive benefits on this country from a developmental point of view, but also should be considered from the defence angle.
Until now the Government has continually refused to consider the completion of this railway as a defence project, but I suggest that it should review its thinking on the matter and seriously consider making finance available to the New South Wales Government to complete the project, either by way of direct grant or by way of special loan allocation outside the general State allocation, similar to the allocation that was made for the renovation and increase of carrying capacity of the Townsville-Mount Isa railway and for rail gauge standardisation projects in recent years.
This proposed railway is an important one. It has had the complete support of all political parties. Country Party, Liberal Party and Labour Party Governments have all contributed something towards the initial work on the project. Unfortunately the war broke out during the construction of the line and pressure of other requirements and commitments necessitated the closing down of the job. After the war, when work was resumed, we unfortunately experienced a shortage of labour and materials and the job was again stopped.
From the point of view of those who administer the Department of Railways in New South Wales it does not matter a damn whether this line is completed or not. Goods from the central west and south-west of New South Wales now flow through Lithgow to Sydney, and the completion of another east-west line would not mean any great increase in revenue for the Department of Railways. I suppose the Commissioner for Railways is entitled to say: “ Why should I extend my financial obligations by completing this line when I will not get any additional revenue from it? “ However, we must look at this project from the defence angle and from the point of view of national development and decentralisation of transport facilities.
At present there is only one main connecting line from the west of New South Wales over the mountains, to the coast. The proposed Sandy Hollow-Maryvale line will, if completed, provide a much better and cheaper route from the west of New South Wales to the coast. There is very little difference in the distance between Sydney and Dubbo, which is close to the place at which the new line would branch from the old, and between Dubbo and Newcastle. I think the difference is about 33 miles, and this is not of very great importance. What is important is the defence and national development of the State of New South Wales.
Let me give the committee some information about the work that has so far been undertaken on this project. The earthworks are 95 per cent, complete. There are five tunnels on the line, of which four have already been completed. Admittedly those four- are the shortest, being 13, 19, 23 and 16 chains in length. The one still to be completed is of 97 chains, but of this a total length of 48 chains has been completed and only the middle section remains to be completed. Having in mind the experience gained in tunnel construction on the Snowy Mountains project the completion of the remaining 49 chains would be chicken feed to the men and the engineers responsible for driving tunnels through the Snowy Mountains.
Sixteen major bridges have been completed and 95 per cent, of the earthwork drains have been completed. Most of the 60 large steel spans required for crossings have been completed; 3 of 20 feet and 6 of 24 feet have been completed. Then there are 36 of 40 feet required, of which 29 are already on the piers waiting to be riveted, while the remaining 7 are stored and waiting to be transported to the site, erected and riveted. In addition there are 15 spans of 80 ft. in length to be provided and most have been completed. Unfortunately because of requirements for bridges on the north coast line the Department of Railways has dismantled a number of those 80 ft. spans and transferred them to the north coast line. The fencing throughout the route is 75 per cent, complete. All level crossing gates and wing fences are complete for 60 miles between Sandy Hollow and Gulgong. The earthwork for the platforms of 7 stations is 85 per cent, complete.
It can be seen that most of the work involved in the project has already been completed. That work would represent, on present day costs, a value of between £11 million and £12 million. Nobody can give a firm estimate of the cost of completing the line, but it would be between £9 million and £10 million. As I stated earlier the western line through Lithgow is most unsuitable compared with the line whose completion I am advocating. The absence of steep grades on the Sandy Hollow-Maryvale line is most important. The highest point, 879 feet, is at Myambat, and the next highest is 597 feet, at Grasstree. Let us compare them with the existing grades on the western line from Dubbo to Sydney. From Dubbo to Bathurst the highest point is 3,072 feet at Athol near Blayney. The line then goes in a sawtooth fashion to 2,000 feet at Bathurst. It then climbs to 3,500 feet at Newnes and from there to 3,424 at Mr Victoria. This is the only railway route between Sydney and the west.
The New South Wales Government is doing a good job in deepening the Newcastle Harbour. Within the next 12 to 18 months the harbour depth in Newcastle will have been increased to 36 feet at low water, plus an increase of approximately 4 feet at high water. As honorable members know, the high tides vary from about 4 feet to 6 feet 6 inches. This deepening of the harbour will permit ships of 47,000 tons to use the port of Newcastle for the export of coal, steel products and the like. Also, it will enable bulk carriers to take wheat out of Newcastle, and wheat is one of the most important products of the west and central west of New South Wales. I shall give the Committee recent figures of the wool and wheat shipped from Newcastle. They are last year’s figures. The amount of wheat shipped from Newcastle was 653,700 tons, the amount of wool 119,300 tons and the amount of frozen meat 6,865 tons. I am referring only to primary products exported through the port of Newcastle. Most of these come from the Hunter Valley and the north and north-west of New South Wales. At present, products of the central and central-western area go through Sydney. I am not foolish enough to believe for one second that in the event of the completion of this railway all of the wool and wheat from the central and western sections of New South Wales will go through Newcastle. Established contacts have been made in Sydney by wool growers and wheat growers, and people will continue to sell through agents in Sydney. I believe, however, that a large percentage of these products will go through Newcastle, and this will help in decentralising the loading of wool and wheat for export and should assist considerably in reducing costs.
I have some figures from various companies in Newcastle showing the use that can be expected to be made of this line. The Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. intends to transport over this line approximately 65,000 tons of ore each year. The Masonite Corporation in Newcastle at present distributes most of its goods through metropolitan distributors. In the event of not having to send to Sydney all its goods for distribution through the central and western sections of New South Wales it will send them direct across this proposed line. The same thing applies to the Commonwealth Steel Co. Ltd., Australian Wire Industries Pty. Ltd., Stewarts and Lloyds Pty. Ltd. and John Lysaghts (Aust.) Ltd. These companies manufacture masonite, wire, fence posts and netting which are most important to primary producers. At present this material has to go through Sydney. When the Sandy
Hollow-Maryvale line is completed this material can go direct and this will mean a considerable saving in transport costs. It will reduce the distance by approximately 120 to 150 miles. Sulphide Corporation Pty. Ltd. is in the course of building a large fertiliser plant in an area that has been made available through the island reclamation scheme in the port of Newcastle. It is believed that by 1968 200,000 tons of its products, which at present have to go through Sydney, would be transported over this line.
I have no need to tell honorable members of the congestion of transport in Sydney today. It is chaotic; it is a complete shambles. The western line from Sydney, as the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) can possibly tell honorable members, is at present completely congested and overcrowded. As a result of this centralisation in Sydney and Melbourne, approximately 40 per cent, of the population of Australia live in those two cities. We are pouring in more industries, causing the expansion of these two cities. Something is needed to bring about the decentralisation of industry. The building of this line is a practical way of getting round the problem.
The New South Wales Government is talking about spending millions of pounds on an eastern suburbs railway in Sydney, on roadways and on new transport systems for the North Shore area of Sydney. All this will do will be to add to the cost of transport. Sir Alan Westerman, in a speech he delivered recently, said that the congestion on Australian wharves today is chaotic. This is because the wharves are in the centre of the cities, which means that dock transport can move only very slowly through the city traffic, with the result that costs are continually rising. What we want is a reasonable grant from the Australian Government as its shares of the cost of the Sandy Hollow-Maryvale railway. A long term loan allocation is necessary to assist in decentralising transport and developing a port other than Sydney. Unless we can relieve the serious and catastrophic congestion in Sydney we will have a national tragedy in time of war. The Government continually talks about the need to defend this country. When we talk about defence we must not forget that we need the means to transport not only troops but equipment throughout Australia. It is important that we do not have a bottleneck such as exists in Sydney today. The completion of this railway is one means of overcoming that congestion and of providing some form of decentralisation. Any government which seriously believes in this need will support the proposition.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Last night the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) had something to say about nuclear energy. I, for one, found his remarks to be constructive and I hope that that is an indication that the Government can accept that the policy which he advocated would have the support of both sides of the Parliament. I would think that it is now essential that the Government go ahead with plans to construct a large nuclear power reactor in Australia. Even if the Government were to make the decision now it would probably be five or six years before the reactor could operate. So we are thinking in terms, not of the present generation of reactors that are in operation but of the next generation, which would be available in later years if they were ordered now.
I believe that the honorable member for Kingston was right in two respects. He was right in pointing out, first, that although nuclear power plants are perhaps not yet competitive with conventional power plants they are very nearly, competitive in terms of power costs, and secondly that there is likely to be a continuous improvement in nuclear power plants and therefore a continuing reduction in cost. If we are looking ahead five or six years the comparison might be more favorable than it looks at first glance. I believe also that the honorable member was right in suggesting that unless Australia engages in this new technique reasonably soon we might find ourselves left for dead by other industrial countries. Here are the facts: New South Wales and Victoria are blessed with cheap and abundant fossil fuels in the form of black and brown coal.
– And Queensland, too.
– Queensland also has coal, but unfortunately the Queensland coal is not adjacent to the main centres of population, so the cost of coal, in Brisbane for example, is fairly expensive at the present time. He is right when he points out that the Callide and other fields in Queensland - Blair Athol for instance - are capable of giving cheap coal. In spite of this it does not look as though we could get power at crossbar for much less than 35d. When you remember that the cheap power generated near the coal fields must bear transportation costs to the city it does not look as if the big consuming centres could expect power from conventional sources, delivered at city gate, for much less than .35d. I am speaking now of a base load station. This is a figure which is already within reach of a large nuclear plant, taking into account all interest and depreciation charges and all fixed charges. So there would not be much loss, if any, in ordering a nuclear power plant now in substitution for one - not all - of the conventional plants that must be built in the near future, because our electricity grid is expanding.
It is necessary now to think in terms of an extra 600 megawatts a year to carry the load of the New South Wales-Victorian grid. Since we have to consider the addition of this amount of new power every year, there is surely a place in the programme, if it is properly phased in now, for a nuclear plant of perhaps 300 or 400 megawatts, electrically. A plant of this kind has one or two important characteristics. First, it must be worked at a high load factor. With nuclear plants the capital cost is relatively high and the operating cost relatively low. The balanced figure 1 have given for the cost of nuclear power is a compound of the fixed charges of high capital cost and low operating cost. It would seem, therefore, that there is a good economic case to be made out for a nuclear power plant to be ordered now.
Now the second consideration must be dealt with. Such a plant must be fairly big. A small nuclear plant is not really competitive. If we are to get the kind of cost figure I have referred to we must think in terms of 300 megawatts electrically or even bigger. Such a plant, can be absorbed in the near future only on the main grid. It must have its connections with the main electricity supply, because if we had an isolated plant, notwithstanding that we operated it at a high load factor, it would require the extra duplication of stand-by, because no plant, nuclear or conventional, is 100 per cent, reliable. Since we are talking about a big unit, a big unit can be really economical only if absorbed in a big grid.
Where should we put this plant? I think there are two reasonable possibilities. The first is to put it somewhere between Adelaide and Melbourne. Honorable members will know that fuel in Adelaide is still relatively expensive. Even if the projected gas supply comes in it will not be cheap. Even residual oil from the refinery there will not be really cheap. A plant situated between Melbourne and Adelaide, sending power westwards to Adelaide and eastwards to Melbourne, would be a completely economic proposition as of this moment. You have the added advantage that it would enable the electric grid between Adelaide and Melbourne to achieve full connection. The provision of a facility of this kind increases the overall efficiency of both electricity systems. So that is the first suggestion - that a nuclear plant be built somewhere between Adelaide and Melbourne; probably nearer to Adelaide than to Melbourne.
The second possible location is one which fits in with something said earlier in the debate by the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser). A good case could be made out for building a nuclear plant in conjunction with the Snowy Mountains scheme. I do not know whether it would be most economic to put the plant in the Snowy area at some place between Melbourne and the Snowy or between Sydney and the Snowy. Its precise location would not matter very much because the connecting grids already exist and, wherever we placed it, it could form part of that network. A base load plant of this character could be used in conjunction with the pump storage proposals which are being made for the Snowy scheme. It could operate at a very high load factor and it would form a quite desirable addition to the entire Snowy scheme. In fact, it would be a good deal more economic than most of the Snowy scheme now is. So there is a case to be made out for using the present organisation of the Snowy scheme, which must tail off as construction proceeds towards completion. Such a plant could be used for base load purposes and for use in pump storage in connection with the whole of the Snowy scheme. These are things well worth investigation.
I do not want to go into .technical details. Indeed, there is no opportunity to do so here. But I assert that the country which does not get its familiarity with nuclear energy and does not train its scientists and technicians in the use of nuclear energy will be left behind in the industrial race. In the near future nuclear energy will be much cheaper than other forms of energy. As the honorable member for Kingston rightly pointed out, the use of nuclear energy can produce some by-products which are of special significance to Australia. I do not think it is likely in the foreseeable future that we will obtain fresh water from sea water by conventional means at a price that will enable it to compete with natural water for agricultural purposes, but I think it is quite likely than in the next couple of decades fresh water will be produced from sea water by nuclear energy at a price which will make it an economical source for industry and for town supplies. This is something that is of particular significance for Australia. I agree with the honorable member for Kingston that we would be well advised to get into this field as soon as possible.
There could be other by-products from the use of nuclear energy. None of us can say quite what the limits of these are likely to be. I think of radio isotopes and things of that kind. I suggest to the Government that the time is overdue for it to make a decision to build somewhere in Australia the first of the big nuclear power plants to form part of the normal electricity supply. This would be in substitution for one of the conventional plants which would otherwise have to be built. We may put it between Melbourne and Adelaide, which may be the most economical place to put it, or we may put it somewhere in conjunction with the Snowy scheme. Erection in conjunction with the Snowy scheme would have the advantage that the scheme is already under Commonwealth control and does not involve any of the legal or negotiating difficulties which may be inherent in linking up between Melbourne and Adelaide. Whichever choice is made, let it be no longer delayed. The Government can at least have the assurance now that this will be a bi-partisan policy.
The Opposition has - I say this with great appreciation - shown that it has a bipartisan outlook on this important matter.
– This debate on the estimates for the Department of National Development and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has been most interesting and informative. I want to thank all those who have spoken, especially those who have paid a tribute to the work of the Department. As the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) said, we are on the threshold of a very exciting period of development. I suppose this has been triggered off more than anything else by the amazing discoveries of minerals, oil and natural gas. Tremendous quantities of iron ore have been discovered. There have also been discoveries of bauxite, manganese, copper, lead and zinc and discoveries of smaller deposits of other minerals. The honorable member for Evans pointed out that the gas discoveries are now becoming very significant and that we have possibly proved the existence of about one-third of the quantity of gas that we would require. He also pointed out that a 20 inch pipeline from Mereenie to Adelaide would carry sufficient natural gas to generate power equivalent to the power that will be generated by the Snowy Mountains scheme when it is completed. This shows the tremendous potential and the enormous development that is proceeding today.
It would be impossible for me to follow all the avenues of debate that have been revealed in the last four and a half or five hours during which my Department has been discussed. All that I will do is to pick out one or two highlights and make some comment on them. I will first deal with the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), who made some complaint about the Bureau of Mineral Resources. He said that the Bureau does not have a full staff of geologists and geophysicists. This is so, but of course these are very highly trained and highly skilled people and it is not always easy to obtain their services. One reason why we are having trouble in the Bureau at present is the tremendous development and exploitation of mineral resources that I have just mentioned. This has increased the demand for geologists and geophysicists and there is just not enough of these people to go around. Some of the big mineral companies are able to offer salaries and conditions of employment that attract some of these officers away from the Bureau of Mineral Resources.
Another problem arises at present from the fact that we are facing a move of the Geophysical Branch from Melbourne to Canberra. I think that everyone would agree that the home of the Bureau of Mineral Resources must be in Canberra and that this move is necessary. But when we make such a move as this we find that some employees, for family reasons, are not eager to leave Melbourne, where they have been residing for a long time. We have had a number of resignations and it will take some time to build up the staff again. Some people join the Bureau for what I would call really a post graduate course. They finish the university course and go into the Bureau probably for a few years, knowing that eventually they will leave to take a job with one of the big mining companies. In the meantime, they obtain first class information and improve their quality as geologists before they enter industry. I think it is a good policy for a Government instrumentality to provide this service for the community. We regard it, in a way, as a service. We do not like to lose our top geologists, but we know that we are training these people and teaching them skills that they will later use for the benefit of the country as a whole when they turn to the development of our mineral resources.
Another reason for the shortage of staff in the Bureau of Mineral Resources is the very high standard that we have set. We accept only honours graduates and not pass graduates. Honours graduates are not very easy to come by, but I do not think that anyone would want the Bureau to lower its standards. We are doing everything we can to encourage people to join the Bureau. We are actively recruiting not only in the Australian universities but throughout the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Holland and very many other places. One of the products of full or over full employment is the tremendous demand for people of this type. Of course, they are very skilled scientists. They specialise and they cannot be suddenly switched from one area to another.
Let me quickly mention one or two points that were raised by various members during the discussion of these estimates. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) took me to task a little for producing a pamphlet showing what was being undertaken in the development of the north. He said that he would not regard one or two of these projects as northern development. His view of northern development is that it should bring increased population into the area. He especially mentioned the Shoalhaven Army base, which I had said was a development in the north. He said that it would not attract many people and added: “Here is an area that used to have ‘about 20 scattered landholders and a bit of forestry. Now it will be turned into a base for Army manoeuvres, but this will not develop the area.” It is true that there will not be a great deal of development, but the forestry people have been allowed to remain for at least five years. Their position will be reviewed and I think almost certainly they will be allowed to continue to cut timber at this base. The honorable member evidently did not realise the use that will be made of the base by the Army. I am informed by my colleague, the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes), that it is proposed to hold an exercise next year extending over a period all told of some three months and that up to 7,000 people in the Army will use the base during that time. This is only one exercise. Constant use will be made of the area. The nearby town of Rockhampton undoubtedly must benefit from the presence of these members of the Army in the area. The demand for tradesmen, food, transport and other services will be increased and this will assist in bringing additional people to the north and in opening it up for development.
The honorable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) made a very thoughtful contribution last night on the priorities in national development. His line was that, if State priorities were applied, certain projects could be commenced though they had a lower priority in the national scene. I am afraid that this is so in a Federation. The States have their own quite considerable funds and they decide how their funds will be spent. But I do think we have come a very long way in quite a short time in establishing closer co-operation between the States. I can recall the pre-war days when a person travelling by car from one State to another had first to obtain a visiting motorist’s pass. It was almost like going into a foreign country. Today we have the closest co-operation with the States, and this has happened in a matter of a few years. We have set up the Northern Division and we have very close co-operation with the Governments of Queensland and Western Australia. We have meetings with the relevant Ministers, who came to Canberra not very long ago. Co-ordinators have been appointed by the two States and there is constant and very close co-operation on the setting of priorities and in deciding what should be done in this Division.
I believe that that is a very long step forward. But it is only one of a number of steps that have been taken in getting closer co-operation and co-ordination between the Commonwealth and the States. We now have the Australian Water Resources Council, which co-ordinates activities of the six States, the Territories and the Commonwealth. We have also the Australian Forestry Council, which does the same thing in the forestry field. We have recently come to an agreement with the States on offshore oil. These developments are typical of the co-ordination and co-operation that the Commonwealth is getting with the States. In this Federation, it will never be possible for the Commonwealth to set an order of priorities for all developmental works. The States have their own funds and they have the right to say how those will be used. However, I believe that we have gone a very long way indeed.
The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) again took me to task earlier today over the future, of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. I do not want to traverse again the debate on this subject that took place in this chamber on Tuesday of last week. The honorable member said today that I had damned all the products that could be grown in the north because I had said that we have no chance of exporting them. He was not correct when he said that. One has only to examine the *’ Hansard “ report of what I said to understand this. I stated that there are undoubtedly products that we can grow and export but that a lot of work has yet to be done to assess whether they can. be grown economically and what the demand for them is. I said that the greatest problem facing us in the development of the north in terms of irrigated tropical agriculture is that of ascertaining the commodities that can be grown and sold overseas at competitive prices.
I mentioned cotton in particular and pointed out that we are growing it very efficiently and very effectively in Australia. However, one of the problems that we face in relation to the sale of cotton is the fact that the United States of America, for example, pays an export subsidy on cotton produced in that country. It has a large cotton crop and a large surplus, and it pays an export subsidy in order to enable producers to get rid of the surplus. If we are to break into the market for cotton, we must be able to grow it not just at the same cost as in the United States but at a much lower cost. I believe that there are good prospects of our being able to do so. In addition to cotton, I mentioned beef. I believe that there is a very great future for the production and sale of beef throughout the world, because there will be an enormous and increasing demand for it. But we do not yet understand completely the economics of growing beef on irrigated pastures and it may be that this is not an economic proposition.
I said that the first thing that we have to do is to study the problems of land usage rather than those of building dams. The problem of constructing dams is probably the easiest solved of all those that face us in the development of the north. We do not yet know whether the production of electricity from hydro power in the north has a future, because so many other forms of power are available. One is atomic energy, which, as my colleague, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), has said, is becoming more and more competitive with conventional power. Another source of power is fuel oil, which ‘s being produced very cheaply in this country now that we have so many oil refineries here, and which will probably be produced even more cheaply if we discover large quantities of oil in Australia. Another potential source of power is natural gas. All these matters have to be considered very carefully before we decide what we are to do about development and whether we shall continue to use the Snowy Mountains Authority elsewhere when its present project is completed.
I see that the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) is now in the chamber. He raised the subject of the production of oil from coal and mentioned that we have not great reserves of petroleum products on hand in Australia at any given time. Indeed, we would have to spend some millions of pounds to increase our storage capacity and to buy more of these products if we were to have on hand any larger quantity than we store now. For some time he and some of his colleagues have been pressing the Government to look into the question of producing oil from either coal or shale.
– What about establishing a pilot plant to undertake a test?
– I think it would be a good idea if I were to read to the honorable member part of a letter that I sent recently to one of his colleagues, for it gives some interesting information concerning “ Project Gasoline “ in the United States, which is undertaking research in the production of oil from coal under a programme being financed by the Office of Coal Research. The letter states -
The only process for the manufacture of oil from coal operating commercially on a large scale today is that at the SASOL plant, not far from Johannesburg in South Africa. This process differs technically from the method being investigated in “ Project Gasoline “. The economic conditions in the Sasolburg area are significantly different from those obtaining either in the United States or at the major centres of population in Australia. The SASOL plant has a form of natural protection, since imported petroleum products must be freighted inland some 400 miles from the coast at an added cost of about 9d. (Aust.) per gallon. There is in addition a fiscal protection for the products of the plant, which at the latest information amounted to approximately 7d. (Aust.) per gallon for motor spirit . . . There is also in South Africa a significant market for the disposal of byproducts which would not be so readily found in Australia.
The Coal Utilisation Research Advisory Committee presented its report to Sir William Spooner in March, 1962. This report embodied the results of an economic study of the potential applicability of the SASOL process in the vicinities of five (elected Australian coalfields, including one in the Hunter Valley. The broad conclusions were as follows:
So it is obvious that there is no great prospect of producing oil from coal in this country, particularly at a time when we are finding quite large quantities of oil. Only this week, a new strike was made 30 miles north of Roma and the eleventh well on Barrow Island brought in oil. I believe that the prospects of discovering oil in very large quantities in the foreseeable future are very bright indeed.
I should like to conclude by mentioning quickly one or two other points. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) discussed the Gascoyne River proposal at Carnarvon and suggested that the Commonwealth should contribute to this project. All I can say to him is that there has been no approach. The Western Australian Government may approach the Commonwealth on this matter, but so far there has been no approach and so, naturally, we have not considered the proposal. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cross) spoke on forestry and mentioned that this is a field that is not particularly attractive to the States because they have to wait sometimes for up to 50 years from the time they plant a tree until it is harvested. Dr. Jacobs, who is the head of the Australian Forestry and Timber Bureau, told me that when he was studying forestry in Germany before the war he witnessed the felling for timber of some oak trees which had been planted 360 years previously. So in some countries they certainly plant for future generations.
The newly formed Australian Forestry Council is very well aware that we need to step up production of forestry quickly in Australia if we are to become self sufficient. In the past year we have spent about £100 million in importing timber and timber products into Australia. We are carrying out discussions now with Treasury officials to see what steps can be taken to encourage increased planting in the States by the paper mills and similar interests and planting by private people on farms. I hope that we will be able to arrive at some means of encouraging increased plantings because it has been assessed that we need to plant about 75,000 acres per annum of soft woods in Australia if we are to become self sufficient by the turn of the century. At present we are planting about 40,000 acres a year, so we have to step up our plantings considerably. I thank the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Pettitt) for his very kind remarks about Sir William Hudson. There is only one matter that I would point out to him. He said that Sir William is a great Australian. He is really a great New Zealander, although he has been in Australia for a long time. In conclusion I wish to thank once again those people who have paid a tribute to my Department for what it is doing. All of us in this country want to see national development at the greatest possible rate, but we must realise that ours is a relatively small country with a large area to develop and that there are limits to the rate at which we can go forward.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Department of External Affairs.
Proposed expenditure, £16,726,000.
.- I want to draw to the attention of the Committee an aspect of Australia’s alliance with the United States of America which I believe the Government has neglected and which, if left neglected, could threaten the security of this country. Let me make it clear from the outset that I am not criticising the Australia-United States alliance. The Opposition supports the alliance. Labour policy reads -
Co-operation with the United States in the areas of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans is of crucial importance and must be maintained.
The Government and Opposition do differ, however, on what constitutes an alliance. The Government, if one can judge from its actions - I presume that is how it wants to be judged- believes that the alliance demands that the weaker partner, in this case Australia, should follow the line of the more powerful partner, the United States, in all circumstances and irrespective of whether or not Australia considers that line to be right or wrong. The Opposition, on the other hand, believes that the closer the alliance - and we want it to be a close alliance - the more it places Australia, though junior in strength, in a privileged position to use its influence to persuade the stronger partner that it is following wrong policies when we think that such policies are wrong or harmful for our joint cause.
Having said that I point out that we live in a most troubled part of the world. There was the recent unhappy dispute between India and Pakistan. There is confrontation by Indonesia in Malaysia. There is war in South Vietnam. Shootings are taking place and people are being killed in our near neighbourhood, and in two of those three disputes Australia is directly involved. We have men who, if not at war, are at least engaged in what the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has described as “operations of war”. Australia is in Malaysia because of its Commonwealth links. The Opposition has not opposed sending Australian forces to Malaysia, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has” made clear on several occasions. What we have said is that these forces should not be there except subject to a clear and public treaty under which both sides know their commitments and obligations. The Opposition has said that the Government made a mistake in sending Australian forces to South Vietnam. This is still our belief. We believe that the action of the Government in sending troops into South Vietnam may have put us out on a limb in South East Asia, a limb which, if the United States ever decides to pull out of South East Asia - and isolationism is still a strong force with powerful adherents in the United States - could be chopped off underneath us. This brings me to the point that I want to make.
The Opposition believes that the United States alliance is of crucial importance. The Government believes that it is of such crucial importance to justify putting Australia way out on a dangerous limb in South East Asia with its decision to send troops to South Vietnam. I believe that the Australian people fully appreciate the importance of the American alliance. But, and this is the jackpot question: How does the United States regard its alliance with Australia? Does it regard the alliance as important? Is it aware of the risks that Australia is prepared to take in this part of the world in support of the United States and its policies? Recently Mr. Richard Nixon was in Australia. Honorable members can have their own views of Mr. Nixon’s politics and whether they like or dislike them, but he is a man who came within a handful of votes, comparatively speaking, of entering the White House in place of the late President Kennedy. While Mr. Nixon was here he told us that he is now engaged in touring the United States making speeches and trying to form a political climate which will enable the rebuilding of the Republican Party. He has been a Vice-President. At 52 he is politically a young man. If the Republicans regain strength he could easily enough be a future occupant of the White House. But even if he does not ever make the White House he must be regarded as one of those who are important on the United States political scene as an opinion maker.
While Mr. Nixon was in Canberra he spoke at the National Press Club. He said some quite important things. But 1 was much more interested in what he did not say. He said that if things went wrong in Vietnam the “cork would be out of the bottle “. Cambodia and Laos would go. Thailand would be under tremendous pressures and Burma would be lost. Indonesia could be pushed over the brink and Malaysia and Singapore threatened. But, he said, the United States would be prepared to fight a war - a big war, if necessary - to save the Philippines. What interested me was what he did not say. He did not automatically include Australia with the Philippines as a country for which the United States would be prepared to risk a war. I have no doubt that if one of the Australians present had interjected “ Would not America fight for Australia?”, he would have replied “ Yes “. Politeness and a good public relations sense would have seen to that. But what strikes me as being of importance is that Australia was not automatically - I emphasise not automatically - coupled with the Philippines, by a man who might one day occupy the White House and who is a major opinion shaper in the United States, as a country for which the United States would make a stand involving the risk of a major war.
The Government may argue that I expect too much, that Mr. Nixon is a private citizen, that in the United States it is the Administration that is important and that it is the present Administration which is aware of the risks that Australia has taken and undoubtedly will take in this part of the world in supporting United States policies. But I do not think that that is good enough. Administrations change. United States Administrations are particularly susceptible to public opinion, and to powerful lobbies operating through public opinion. Because of the pressure of public opinion, or public indifference, United States Administrations have been known before today to hesitate about following policies they would prefer to follow. 1 do not think it is sufficient to have the United States Administration appreciative of the Australian alliance, or even prepared, as I hope it would be, to include Australia with the Philippines as a country on whose behalf the United States would expose itself to the risk of a major war. We want the people of the United States to be appreciative of the Australian alliance and, as apparently is the case with the Philippines, to be prepared to accept as something already decided and not something to be argued about the fact that here is a country on whose behalf the United States is prepared to accept the risk of a major war.
I believe that Australia should set up in the United States - obviously it would have to be based at Washington - an agency to see that opinion formers such as Mr. Nixon are made aware personally - I emphasise “ personally “ - of the value of the Australian alliance and of the risks Australia is exposing herself to in adhering to the United States alliance in South East Asia; risks which may prove to be very real if the United States should ever decide to withdraw from South East Asia.
I do not just mean that we need someone to feed propaganda out to newspapers. The newspapers are not likely to be interested in Australia in a worthwhile way until after we are involved in a crisis. We want United States attitudes formed before we are in a crisis so that when a crisis does come the reaction of the United States will be automatically our way. The only way we can do that is through the opinion makers, the individual senators and congressmen, and through people like Mr. Nixon who play a major part in shaping American public opinion. These are the people we need to reach and influence.
Our Embassy in Washington, I think, would be unsuited for the task. So would be the normal public servant. This would be a job for a man with very special qualifications, a man who was not only dedicated to Australia’s interests but who also had the capacity to identify the United States opinion makers and - let us not mince words - the capacity to conduct a lobby to keep United States opinion makers informed of the value of the Australia-United States alliance and of the reasons why Australia, like the Philippines, should secure United States acceptance as a country in whose support the United States would be prepared to risk a major war.
We might have to register such an agency as a lobby. I understand that the legislation in the United States might make this necessary. All right. But let us do it honestly and above board. I would not feel ashamed of registering an agency whose object was stated as, say, to explain to American legislators and opinion formers the value of the United States alliance with Australia and the dangers to which Australia exposes herself in adhering to the alliance. Such an agency probably would not cost us much. It might turn out that all that was necessary was to have, basically, a one-man operation. Even in the United States the number of major opinion makers in the context in which we would be interested cannot be great. But even if the cost were larger than I anticipate, it would be money well spent. What price would any of us not pay for a situation in which Americans generally said automatically that Australia, like the Philippines, was one of the countries in this area of the world on whose behalf they were prepared to risk a major war? Would it not be worth more than even an aircraft carrier?
Such an agency - call it a lobby if you will; I do not mind the name if we achieve the purpose - would, in my view, be valuable to a future Labour government. Whereas the present Government, and consequently Australia, needs a lobby to explain why its complete subservience to the United States viewpoint leaves it in a position where it is perilously dependent upon recognition by the people of the United States as well as by the United States Administration of how its support of United States policy has imperilled Australia’s future in South East Asia, a future Labour government would need such a lobby to make the opinion formers understand and appreciate why we do not follow United States policies which we judge to be against the interests of both the United States and Australia. I hope that the Government will examine this suggestion and adopt it.
In conclusion, I pay tribute to the officers of the Department of External Affairs. The Minister and the nation can be proud of these dedicated public servants, not only those who serve at home, but particularly those who serve abroad, many of whom are as much exposed to the perils of war and as much a part of the defence forces of Australia as are any of our decorated soldiers. The Minister should be proud of the people who serve under him.
.- I was intrigued at the remarks of the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin). Without wishing to be critical, I should like to make some comment on what he said. I admire the honorable member for Kingston. In my opinion, his punches always pack power. He started off by saying that the Australia-United States alliance was of great value to the Labour Party and, indeed, of great value to our security. He then said that we should ask what constitutes an alliance. I think most people are fairly clear as to what constitutes an alliance.
The honorable member for Kingston then said: “ This does not mean that we should follow the line automatically, that we should accept everything in its entirety, or that we should never express a view “. Perhaps this kind of thinking comes readily to the mind of one who has been a member of the
Labour Party for some years. Does the honorable member suggest that when we disagree with our allies, we should go to the local newspapers, prance up and down and publish to the world the fact that we disagree entirely? Or does he believe that we should express our disagreement in conference and, in conference, endeavour to seek a solution which would be to our mutual advantage. How can we cement an alliance with anybody if, every time we do not agree, we start criticising and go running to the newspapers all over the world? That seems to me to be most extraordinary thinking. But the Labour Party has its own methods.
The honorable member then went on to say that if the United States were to withdraw, Australia would be isolated in South East Asia; therefore we are running a great risk. The Labour Party thinks we should not do this. This Government has the exact opposite opinion to that held by the Labour Party on this matter. Indeed, I think the majority of the people of Australia take the opposite view to that taken by the Labour Party. When I was in South East Asia and in the United States of America three months ago, people there were asking us whether we were fair dinkum; whether Australian forces would stay in South East Asia or whether they would be pulled out in the event, say, of a Labour government being elected here.
It seems to me that the problem is one of assessing which course offers the most advantage. Should we be in Vietnam, supporting the United States, and Asian and other Western countries, thus demonstrating that we are prepared to accept our responsibilities? Or is it better not to be there and to say: “We are not there because it is dangerous to us, but you must certainly come and protect us because we are great chaps”? I cannot work out the Labour Party’s thinking and I am sure the people of Australia cannot work it out.
The honorable member then referred to Mr. Nixon’s visit. He said that he proposed to speak not of what Mr. Nixon had said but of what he had not said. So help me, it is hard enough for honorable members on this side to work out what the Opposition is saying on this subject without worrying about what somebody else has not said. The honorable member said that Mr. Nixon did not automatically include Australia although he did include the Philippines. Surely the honorable member knows what our relationship with the United States is under the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty. It has been explained time and time again that in the event of an attack on Australia or the Territories of Australia the United States states that she is committed to our defence.
The honorable member also suggested that we should have a lobbyist in America explaining the value of Australia’s alliance with the United States. I would say, judging by the Labour Parry’s utterances, that we should have 100 lobbyists in Australia telling honorable members opposite and the people of Australia of the value of the United States alliance with Australia. I know how the honorable members feels, but I do wish he would confer with the members of his party to see whether he can get some unity. However, I should like to endorse his remarks in congratulating those officers of the Department of External Affairs who are posted at various places throughout the world. As one who taas had the opportunity of seeing them at work in many areas, I can say they are outstanding men. The high regard in which they are held in South East Asia, South America and other areas is amazing. Much of this is the responsibility of our diplomatic representatives in these posts. If I made some criticism, it would be that some of our representatives abroad do not enjoy proper amenities and adequate facilities to enable them to live as reasonably as they should be able to live in the local circumstances. From what I have seen, it seems that those on the second and third secretary level are expected to make do on allowances that are far from adequate and that do not enable them to perform their tasks as effectively as they should. There is no doubt that when people say that we are staining our reputation in South East Asia, or affecting our reputation elsewhere in the world, that is not the position. Indeed, the position is exactly the opposite. The world realises that we are a small nation, that we have never been a threat to anybody and that we never intend to be a threat to anybody. We have stood on our feet and we have backed up our friends and allies when they have been in danger. We are a large continent and we have done things that many of the younger emerging developing nations hope to do. They feel that Australia can help them to succeed.
However, our diplomats abroad must experience great difficulty when they are confronted with the conflicting views of the parties in this Parliament. It comes back to what I said earlier. Our diplomats in Cambodia, Indonesia and elsewhere may know the Government’s policy and they may be able to assess what the majority of Australians would endorse, but they are confused utterly as to what a Labour Government would do if it came into power. They do not know what section of it would be likely to dominate, what section would determine policy. We, as a parliament and the Australian people, must make up our minds where we stand on these issues so that we can, to a greater extent than in the past, speak with one voice. The United Kingdom does, as do other countries, and they are as affected by politics ‘as Australia. If some honorable members opposite realised the confusion that is experienced abroad concerning Australia’s position in certain circumstances I think they would hesitate.
I believe that peace congresses and other movements tend to confuse the issue not only internally but also abroad. In my book, they encourage the people who are the enemies of Australia abroad. They give great publicity about Australia not supporting action in Vietnam and elsewhere, and the only group they are encouraging is the enemy, and the only countries where they will get a good Press are those that are opposed to us and the countries of what I call the free world. This may well encourage those people to continue their activities. Our enemies may say: “The pressures are growing in Australia. Our second front is being effective, and if we can hold out the people opposed to us may pull out and we may be the victors.” Is this what we want in Australia? I think it most certainly is not.
Let us consider some of the other areas with which we are concerned. The Minister made a statement on foreign affairs. I think hie treated the situation most fairly and covered it most adequately in view of existing circumstances. We do not know what may eventuate in Indonesia. We wish the people of Indonesia nothing but good. We have been, and are, prepared to give
Indonesia encouragement to tackle its problems and to succeed in its endeavours to become a nation of stability in both government and economy. The coup that failed in Indonesia could well have been the result of allied successes in Vietnam. It could well have been that the Chinese decided that as things were not going well in Vietnam another pressure point elsewhere could give Australia and her allies in South Vietnam reason for concern. We might well ponder the situation. Was it that the Communists could not take the risk of the war improving for Australia and her allies in South Vietnam so they sought to overthrow the Indonesian Government, unstable as it is, and install a new Communist power close to the borders of Australia?
I am not an expert on the Rhodesian situation, which is one of the most confusing situations confronting the world. It is a situation on which the people of Australia have different thoughts. The decisions we make today may well be changed, by sentiment or other factors, within six months, lt is evident that Australia should have someone in Rhodesia to report to the Government and the Department of External Affairs in Australia. There are two sides to the question - the United Kingdom Government side and the Rhodesian side. We have to assess what is right and what is wrong and what the issues are, and we have to seek a solution of the problems. As 1 understand it, we have no ambassador in Rhodesia. I do not think we have a trade commissioner either. We are dependent for our advice on the United Kingdom. This brings me to the general question of diplomatic representation abroad. Recently 1 was a member of a parliamentary delegation that visited several South American countries where Australia’s standing was high. People there could not understand why Australia did not have ambassadors in their countries. I, too, fail to see why we have not ambassadors there. It is not realistic to say that we have not sufficient trained diplomats to fill the posts. In my book an ambassador, even if not a professional, is better than no ambassador at all. Our lack of ambassadors was referred to frequently by the United Kingdom ambassadors and other Commonwealth ambassadors in those countries. It was suggested that if we, as a small nation, and as a nation concerned in the issues of Malaysia and Vietnam, had ambassadors in those areas we could more effectively support the United Kingdom and the United States of America. It was felt that the United Kingdom, as a former colonial power, and the United States, as a great world power, were concerned only with self, but that if Australia were represented in those countries she could add her voice most effectively by putting the point of view of a small country concerned with the problems of the area. Let us remember that South America has a potential of 400 million people. Like Australia, the South American countries have great problems. The time for us to move into these areas is now, if we wish to befriend them and if we wish to put our point on matters that come before the United Nations. I suggest that our Army attaches, or even our trade commissioners who have been successful, could well fill diplomatic posts until we have the requisite numbers in the Department to fill them. I think it is one of the most important things indeed from Australia’s point of view that in every country possible we should have somebody today to put our point of view.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In the few minutes available to me this afternoon in this debate on the estimates for the Department of External Affairs I want to deal with our international development and relief programme. During the decade of development of the United Nations, in the light of the acceptance of proposals made by the Secretary-General of that great organisation, this programme leaves much to be desired. Australia, as an affluent and well-to-do country by world standards, can hardly be proud of its contribution to international aid. In the estimates that I have in front of me 1 notice that expenditure under the heading of International Development and Relief for the year 1964-65 was £13.7 million. It would be difficult for any honorable member to make out a case for the reduction of that amount in the face of the suffering and privation that prevails in the world, the increasing tension, and the fact that there is a desperate need for us to do more to establish the bonds of friendship with countries in our own environment. Yet even by the most cursory glance at these estimates, we are able to see that expenditure under this heading has fallen. The sum expended last year was £13.7 million and this year £10.8 million is listed in the estimates.
It is interesting to note that no new features are introduced in regard to international aid. Sums allocated under the Colombo Plan for economic development and technical assistance have varied only slightly, but advantageously to a minor degree. The sum allocated for the United Nations Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance is the same this year as for last year. The contribution to the United Nations Special Fund is the same - an amount of £250,000. The amount for the United Nations International Children’s Fund stays at £240,000.
So it seems to me that the Government has something to explain when, in this affluent age - and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) used a great number of adjectives in describing the Budget to indicate that Australia was enjoying a period of prosperity - its concern for our neighbours has deteriorated, in terms of economic aid, if nothing else. There is good reason for the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) to explain this to the Parliament and to the people of the nation. Even in Vietnam, a divided country of 30 million people where Australia has committed the First Battalion, our concern and our benevolence is not extended to any great degree so far as international aid is concerned.
My colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), put some questions to the Minister about military assistance to South Vietnam to which the Minister replied on 11th May. The Minister pointed out that a civil engineering team had been provided with a two-fold object of developing the water supply system of the provincial capital of Bien Hoa, some 30 miles north of Saigon, and that technical assistance was being provided for road construction and maintenance in the same area. This was one of the most important forms of economic aid we had rendered to South Vietnam. It does not appear to be assistance of any enormous consequence by any means. Also there was a shipment of 3,000 tons of galvanised corrugated iron to be used for housing, not for the people of Vietnam, or the villagers, but for the dependants of Vietnamese servicemen. That was the second form of assistance given to South Vietnam. The third form of assistance was the printing in Australia in the Vietnamese language of about 1 million copies of some text books for village primary schools in South Vietnam.
The engineering team to which I referred was not a great organisation with capacity to transform the countryside. According to the answer given by the Minister the engineering team of five members and two visiting experts is established in Saigon. So this is the extent to which Vietnam, a country for which Australian servicemen are now laying down their lives, has been assisted in economic terms by this Government.
It is interesting to consider the aid that has been provided over the years and to establish some kind of comparison between what Australia has done and what other countries have done in this important field. Professor Arndt dealt with this matter extensively in the Fisher Lecture in 1964. He said -
Australia’s international aid amounts at present-
And this was in 1963-64 -
To about £A45m., about two-thirds of 1 per cent, of national income.
This might indicate to honorable members that we are going close to meeting the standard recommended by the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations when he advocated that 1 per cent, of national income should be expended for these purposes. The important thing to note is that this figure of two-thirds of 1 per cent, includes Australia’s assistance to Papua and New Guinea. The Professor said -
Of this over £A25m. is in the form of grants to Papua/New Guinea Administration, other payments making the total up to nearly £A30m. to Papua/New Guinea.
Substracting that sum leaves £15 million for all other international aid purposes in that year. The Professor continued -
The Colombo Plan grant is about £A5m., going almost equally to technical assistance, that is sending Australian experts or training students in Australia, etc., and economic development, mainly sending Australian goods as asked for by the recipient country. Nearly £A10m. goes to U.N. multi-lateral aid agencies, more than half to the World Bank and I.D.A.
It is interesting to see how this compares with other countries because the figure falls very short of the 1 per cent, of national income. It is also a smaller proportion than that given by a number of other countries, many of which are less affluent than Australia. We give less, proportionately, than Belgium or the Netherlands. Our contribution is also far below that of France, the United States of America, West Germany and the United Kingdom. I am not referring to the total sum but the proportion of national income represented by our aid.
The United Nations has laid heavy emphasis for a long time on its advocacy of international aid. I was interested to see that on 7th July the Secretary-General of the United Nations suggested that young people should work for one or two years in a depressed or underdeveloped area as part of their education. I strongly advocate that the Government give earnest consideration to this proposal. After all, in the last few days the Government has announced that, in order to improve the relationship between Australia and New Zealand, parliamentarians are to be encouraged to make an occasional visit to that country. It is the declared objective of the Government that this proposal should succeed in attracting New Zealand parliamentarians so that the bond of friendship will be more firmly established. If the principle involved is a valid one - and I concede that it is - how much more beneficial would it be if Australia decided, in terms of the suggestion of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to encourage young people to participate in a peace corps with a view to aiding our Asian neighbours. U Thant said -
I am looking forward to the time when the average youngster, and parent or employer, will consider that one or two years of work for the cause of development, either in a faraway country or in a depressed area of his own community, is a normal part of education.
I believe that Australia should set out to provide a force at least equal to the force of 8,000 odd 20-year-olds whom we are recruiting for overseas service. We should recruit this force to participate in assisting the people of Asia with their development.
I believe that Australia should be identified as having an interest in her Asian neighbours, quite outside of defence considerations. There is a feeling in Asia that we tend to concern ourselves with the welfare of the Asian peoples only when such concern will convey some direct advantage to Australia. There is a feeling in Asian countries, and indeed among many peoples of the world, that we have a tendency to use Asian peoples as a shield for the defence of Australia, that we have a tendency to use Asian countries as fighting grounds in order that Australia shall not be used in this way.
It is tremendously important for us to take steps to increase the amount of aid that we give in financial terms and also by the provision of a peace corps, as has been done by the United States of America. One of the research workers in the Library provided me a short time ago with a paper prepared by Nan Han-chen, Chairman of The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade. The paper is headed “ On Economic Development in Afro-Asian Countries “. Nan Han-chen voiced the attitude of probably a number of Asian people when he spoke of a reaction to the tied forms of aid, the kind of aid designed to derive benefit for the nation granting it. This is a reaction that is felt extensively around the world and I believe it should be given due consideration. I do not agree with all the points made by Nan Han-chen by any means, but it is important for us to recognise that there are such reactions, and we should do what we can to eliminate them. This gentleman was referring to the aid given by what he calls the colonial countries. He said -
The following points go to prove that the imperialists and old and new colonialists are still continuing their economic control and exploitation in Asia and Africa:
Under various forms and in various degrees, they still maintain various kinds of privileges, military, political, economic and cultural, which encroach upon the sovereignty and independence of many countries.
The so-called “ economic aid “ provided by the imperialists, particularly by the U.S. imperialists, is a typical instrument through which the neo-colonialists attempt to extend their control and exploitation, and interfere in the internal affairs of or subvert the recipient countries.
This is the view of Nan Han-chen. It is an extreme view but to some extent it is the view of the people in the Asian countries. It is the view of people whom very often we, in a lazy sort of way, when we cannot understand their points of view or their concern about the lack of opportunities for democratic rights and education and opportunities to overcome high rates of illiteracy, tend to classify as either black or white, communist or capitalist. We tend all the time to disregard the fact that there are many shades of attitudes throughout Asia and that it is seldom a simple case of one extreme or the other. We tend to ignore the fact that there are various degrees of communalism, nationalism or socialism permeating these countries. It is a very frequent inclination of the Australian Government to attribute an understanding of communism to the people of Asia, many of whom suffer from illiteracy and cannot read or write. We should have greater concern for the finesse with which they view the various problems connected with aid. I think it is tremendously important for <us to provide increased aid, but it should be without strings, and designed to benefit the recipients rather than the country from which it comes.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) has given us his views on aid and I do not want to take him to task about this matter. This country has done a really magnificent job in the matter of the provision of aid. It was, indeed, the initiator of many forms of aid in South East Asia. It has always been the policy of the Government to play its part in providing aid, particularly for the South East Asian countries which have most needed material aid.
I join this debate because I have been thinking recently, particularly in the last fe.w weeks, of the ever-changing scene in foreign affairs. As the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) knows, probably better than I do, not a week passes without some new crisis arising, something new to worry about. In recent years, ever since the rise of international communism, there has been turmoil in this world in the field of foreign affairs.
Each week or every few weeks a new crisis arises. During recent years the people of the world have been living in a continual state of fear, to such an extent that we have almost become immune to fear. This in my opinion is having a serious effect not only upon the world in general but also upon the individual mental and psychological stability of the peoples of the world. One hears a great deal about the increasing consumption of pills in the various countries and one wonders whether the changing scene in foreign affairs has not been a contributing factor to this need for people all over the world to quieten their nerves with pills.
Apart from this, of course, there is the practical issue which I mentioned in another speech, the cost to the various countries of this turmoil in foreign affairs throughout the world. ‘We have to be represented in every nook and cranny of the globe in order to keep in touch with events, and this means considerable extra cost to Australian taxpayers. Only this week we have become bet up by the events in Indonesia and Rhodesia. Indonesia, of course, is right on our doorstep. The Minister issued a statement only yesterday on this matter which was very well set out, and I merely say that the events in Indonesia are of tremendous importance to Australia. A very ticklish problem has arisen in connection with Rhodesia. This is not entirely within our field of responsibility but it concerns us to a great extent. Only a week or two ago we were horrified by the spectacle of fighting between our brothers in India and Pakistan. Thank God that the situation in that part of the world has quietened down for the moment because we did not want a continuation of bloodshed amongst our own brothers. Some weeks previously things looked very black in Vietnam, with progress being made by the Vietcong in the rainy season. That position too appears to have changed for the better, Prior to that we had the events in Malaysia which were worrying us, especially the shock of Singapore breaking away from Malaysia. It is interesting to note that a few of these recent events concerned difficulties within our own brotherhood of the Commonwealth of Nations, so to speak. What is happening to the Commonwealth of Nations must concern people all over the world, when brothers are fighting each other and turmoil exists in these various countries.
In recent years there has been a continual demand for independence. The last speaker, the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), referred to this matter. Communist propaganda, national jealousies, and even influences in the United Nations itself have branded colonialism as a crime in the minds of men. One could talk for some time about colonialism, because I think the word is loosely used, particularly in Communist propaganda. In the field of colonialism the United Kingdom has expended itself all over the world in an attempt to guide backward countries and assist them to reach the stage of independence. As honorable members realise, all through Asia, Africa and other parts of the world, countries are obtaining their independence without a clue, in many cases, of what to do with it once having received it. It is not wrong for me to speak like this in view of the propaganda that is being spread at a very early stage in the growth of one of our own territories. It is quite wrong. Certainly this Territory will get its independence. It is Australia’s objective to lead it to independence, but it must first reach the stage where it will know what to do with independence when it gets it.
Many of these countries remind me of an innocent young country girl, full of ambition, charm, initiative and hope, striving for independence from her family ties and coming to live in a big city with all its attractions and opportunities, but also its vice, depravity and temptation. In my view, to say the least, it is a risky adventure. A parallel can be found in some of these countries seeking their independence. There is always someone to give advice; there is always someone with whom to make a deal. Independence can often be shortlived and the country can find itself irrevocably tied up with, and dependent on, some other country, and perhaps that country is not the type of country to which the newly independent country wants to be tied.
Realising all this, there is one thing that remains constant in our present world. It is the drive of Communism for world domination. This is something we must never forget. Every deceit and subterfuge that one can imagine is practised to prevent our recognition of this, and activities are engaged in to try to make us feel immune to Communism, but Communism still re- mains and is still the great challenge to freedom and independence everywhere. I hope that the people of Australia will never forget this. It is interesting to note that wherever you find trouble in the world today you will find that either Communism is at the root of the trouble, and organising it, or alternatively is feeding like a vulture on the troubles of other people and fanning them into a flame to bring about chaotic destruction. No-one can deny that. The great tragedy is that internally in most countries - this applies as much to Australia as other countries - great damage is being done by many types of people. This is happening in the United States of America and in this country. This damage is being done by malcontents who are “ agin the Government” under any circumstances, lt is being done too by a bunch of crackpots who play on subnormal people. Then you have, of course - this is very evident even in this place - the fellow travellers who do not realise, or seem not to realise - although I think they do in many cases - the danger. They are just fellow travellers who have not the courage to go right over to Communism. They go along and do not seem to realise the danger into which they are leading. Then you have the political opportunists who know better in many instances but who seek power for themselves. It is, to my way of thinking, a tragedy in a democratic country like Australia that we should have these political opportunists who are still doing things to prevent this country from preserving its freedom, and, of course damaging other countries which are fighting to preserve their freedom. Then there are the intellectuals, particularly of some of the churches and universities. It is difficult to understand the mentality of some of these people who do great damage to Australia and to the free countries of the world which are seeking to preserve their democracy. But there they are. We all know them. They exert a great influence upon other people and do great damage to the efforts we make to preserve the freedom of this country.
We must realise - and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) speaking on behalf of the Government has said this on many occasions - that in this young country with only 12 million people and limited resources in both manpower and other necessary things, we should apply the whole of our effort in the future to our defence in South East Asia. We must realise that South East Asia and its final future mean life or death to us. All our efforts must be concentrated in this area. There is a great need to get closer to the people of South East Asia than we are at present. We all realise the difficulties which arise from the fact that in this area so many countries in recent years have received their independence. I refer to countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. They are very jealous of their independence, but all of these countries are being infiltrated by Communism from Communist China. Sitting to the north of us is half of the world’s population and only in this year in which we live these countries are sorting out their way of life and fighting a desperate battle to preserve their independence. There are more than 700 million people in Communist China. This great nation is infiltrating into these newly independent countries and great danger exists. If these countries turn to Communism, as they very well could, it will be a pretty poor lookout for the future of Australia and its development into the great nation we expect it to be. Some people do not realise this danger.
The stand the Government has taken in Vietnam is one of “ Here and no further “. Surely we should realise that this stand is for our own protection and the preservation of the freedom we love so much. Yet vw have people in this very place who will stand on their feet and deny the commonsense action of the Government in joining with the United States of America in trying to prevent Communism from coming any further south than North Vietnam. In my opinion, this is extremely foolish thinking, to say the least. One could very easily attribute more serious motives to these people. So I say to the Minister for External Affairs, who is doing a first class job, that our concentration must be on South East Asia. At one time I suggested to him that perhaps the Government should appoint in this area an ambassador at large, who could help us to overcome some of the difficulties that confront us.
.- We have just listened to an honorable member who, as is characteristic of quite a number of honorable members on his side, chooses to dismiss all those who disagree with him as fools, crackpots, fellow travellers and intellectuals. He advances no support for those people who seek to govern themselves before, as he would put it, their time - before they reach the high standards that the honorable member demonstrates - and he attributes to those who disagree with him “serious motives”. No doubt he is thinking of sedition or treason as the characteristics of those who have the effrontery to disagree with him. I say seriously that nothing the honorable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) has done outside this Parliament or within it justifies his adopting such a narrow and self-righteous attitude.
I desire to discuss, to the extent that time will permit, two subjects. The first is the war in Vietnam and the second is the conflict between India and Pakistan. I believe that the war in Vietnam should, and probably could, be brought to an end without delay. Recently the Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, said -
I am sure that the great American people, if they only knew the true facts and the background to the developments in South Vietnam, will agree with me that further bloodshed is unnecessary.
Can we ignore this statement by the Secretary-General of the United Nations? Can we conclude that the task of putting an end to the war is insuperable? I say that we cannot. We cannot ignore U Thant’s message. We cannot conclude that the task is insuperable. Further bloodshed in South Vietnam is unnecessary. First, the war is not in the interests of the people of South Vietnam or of North Vietnam, and for this reason there is no justification for a continuation of it. Secondly, what is happening there does not represent a threat to Australia. We cannot properly claim to be fighting in our own defence or in the interests of the people of South Vietnam. The Australian people are not united in support of this War. There are doubts everywhere in the country and there are good reasons for those doubts. It is essential that freedom of discussion prevail in respect of this matter. It is essential for people to be unwilling to be intimidated by men like the honorable member for Bennelong, who dismisses as a crackpot everybody who is anxious to discuss this vital matter and who implies that such people are guilty of sedition or treason.
It is not easy to make up one’s mind to ascertain the facts surrounding the situation in Vietnam. I do not think it is possible to do so unless we are willing to examine conclusions reached by those who have devoted their full time to the subject. It is not enough to be satisfied with newspaper headlines. I direct the attention of honorable members to a statement made by a couple of authorities who are invariably quoted with approval by advocates of the war in South Vietnam. I refer first to Brian Grazier’s article “ South East Asia “, published recently in a book entitled “ The Cold War. A Reappraisal”. The book is edited by Evan Luard. Brian Crozier is usually quoted as an authority by those who take a position very different from that taken by me. Let me direct the attention of honorable members to some of the conclusions reached by Mr. Crozier. He states -
In Vietnam, however, the Communists won a major victory, partly because they secured the leadership of a genuine Nationalist movement, and partly because the French Fourth Republic was unwilling to concede the substance of independence.
I ask the honorable member for Bennelong to heed that statement. Mr. Crozier continues -
In the 1960s the Americans have been undergoing, to their surprise, the unpleasant experiences the French had had ten years earlier. Despite the superiority of the South Vietnamese forces in numbers and equipment, and the presence of 16,000 United States troops-
Trie number is now 140,000 -
The Communists controlled about two-thirds of the countryside and were still gaining strength in mid-1964. The fundamental reasons for Vietcong successes were simple: The Diem regime had been repressive and unpopular; and the military regime that succeeded it lacked cohesion. Moreover, the allies of both regimes were foreign and easy to label as “imperialists”, whereas the Vietcong, whatever their politics, were undeniably Vietnamese.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) shows no sign of ever being aware of these propositions. Nor does his Department. He produces the one sided version that has characterised the attitude not only of the Government but of some officers of the Minister’s Department. But I understand that some officers of the Department are dissatisfied with prevailing tendencies in the Department. Mr. Crozier’s analysis continues -
The overall situation was thus fraught with dangers and one thing only seemed clear; that success was likely to belong to the side that succeeded in identifying itself most closely with the real interests of the peoples of South-East Asia, which were not those of the great powers on either side of the cold war.
The military support of an unpopular regime, as in South Vietnam, is probably counter productive - in the ideological sense certainly, and probably in the military sense as well; though if the United States decides to makes its presence in South Vietnam permanent, it is hard to see who would dislodge them.
In the long run, healthy nationalism allied to steady economic progress is the best barrier against the spread of doctrines the adoption of which could means a switch from one side to the other in the cold war. There is still no sign that effective ways of creating such a barrier have been worked out in Washington, Despite the overwhelming military power of the Western allies in South-East Asia, therefore, the long-term outcome of the struggle in that area remains open.
How long are we to be silent and to refrain from urging the United States to find an effective way of creating this barrier so clearly identified by Crozier, as by others? 1 refer honorable members to another set of conclusions reached by Bernard Fall in his book “Street without Joy”. He is the kind of writer normally quoted with approval by advocates of the Government’s policy. In pages 372 to 375 of that book are to be found conclusions similar to those referred to by Crozier.
Finally, if more satisfactory proof is needed of the importance of the support of the people and of the probability that the other side involved in this war has won it, 1 refer to a report which appeared on 1st September in the Melbourne “Herald”. Surely it is necessary for honorable members to recognise these facts and not to blind themselves to them continuously as do those who are interjecting. The unwillingness of the Government and those who form national policy to recognise the facts has led to a continuation of serious mistakes. The Melbourne “ Herald “ report refers to statements by Marshal Cao Ky, Prime Minister of South Vietnam. He has the characteristic of being probably more realistic and having more commonsense than most of his predecessors and, I think, most of his advisers. The report reads -
The Prime Minister said the Communists were closer to the people’s yearnings for social justice and an independent national life than his own Government.
The report continues -
He said his Government was not yet ready to face the threat of Communist political agitation after a negotiated cease fire, because it had not had time to tackle what he called the many social injustices in South Vietnam.
That is after 20 years of French and American influence. How many more years will be allowed to pass in Vietnam and elsewhere before something is done by a government, such as our own, which has so long failed to take initiative. The Minister has refused to do so in respect of Thailand and he raises some platitudinous objection that to take any initiative would amount to interfering in the internal affairs of Thailand. How many more years will be allowed to pass before this situation is corrected?
I suggest it is foolish not to recognise the fact that what is happening in these countries is substantially a nationalist revolution and not just a Communist conspiracy. It is foolish not to recognise that what is happening is predominantly a civil war and not an expeditionary invasion from China or anywhere else. I suggest that it is necessary to recognise that popular support is needed to win a struggle of this kind. This is hardly ever mentioned by the Minister, by the Government or by any of its supporters, except to dismiss these points as insignificant. What are the alternatives in Vietnam? I do not think the war there can be won by fire power and air power. A long, indecisive ground war with many casualties on both sides and a long and very intensive occupation of Vietnam afterwards would be the only way the war could be “ won “. I do not think that this is in the interests of Vietnam or of any other nation. The alternative is a cease fire and negotiation. This may be possible and it is much to be preferred, I think, as an alternative to the continuation of the war. I think we should realise from the public positions taken by both sides that there is good reason to assume that negotiations are possible. But the public and the private positions are not the same. I have studied the reports very carefully and have had inquiries made to ascertain the discoveries made, for example, by Davies and Fenner Brockway on their visits to those concerned. It has been clear now for six weeks, and at last this has been recognised by Dean Rusk, that the other side does not require a withdrawal of American and other troops from Vietnam before negotiations can take place. Negotiations can take place, but I do not think that either side is clear about the conditions it would accept. They must soon become clear. I think it is reprehensible not to seek to bring this war to an end by putting the alternative of negotiation far ahead of anything else in terms of priority. I believe that the Government, its supporters and the United States and the other side are morally reprehensible for not making negotiation their first priority.
I now want to say a few words about India and Pakistan. The Government has taken a position of neutrality in what in fact is a great moral question. India and Pakistan are not merely fighting about the physical possession of Kashmir. This is a struggle between a secular democracy in India, far from perfect, and an increasingly fanatical religious State in Pakistan. I believe that there cannot be neutrality on this issue in the mind of any man who values freedom. Those who value freedom must come down on the side of India. It is in the interests of Australia to support the vast and great attempts to establish and maintain secular, free democracy in India, lt is under threat not only from China but also from Pakistan. The holy war, which may spread in the Indian sub-continent from Pakistan, may spread far more rapidly and it may burn much more quickly than Communist infiltration from China. Some may think that Pakistan’s fanaticism is an acceptable answer to China, and that alternative may have been accepted in high and influential places in this country and in other countries. There is only one answer to Communism and I believe that answer is contained in the quotation from Crozier. I want to refer to it again. It is -
In the long run, healthy nationalism allied to steady economic progress is the best barrier against the spread of doctrines the adoption of which could mean a switch from one side to the other in the cold war. There is still no sign that effective ways of creating such a barrier have been worked out in Washington. Despite the overwhelming military power of the Western allies in South-East Asia, therefore, the long-term outcome of the struggle in that area remains open.
I believe that in healthy nationalism there must be a very strong element of democracy. There is only one answer to Communism, but there is only one answer in the context of principle as well. They are the same, and unless we choose an answer that accords with principle, free democracy and economic progress, we will not find an answer to Communism. When this test is applied, Australia must not be neutral where these great issues, such as the issues between Pakistan and India, are involved.
I approve of the position taken this morning by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in relation to Rhodesia. He said that he would not recognise a government set up by this white supremacist movement in Rhodesia. I ask that this kind of principle be applied to all the other issues with which we are concerned. The Government should give up the unjustified expediency that in the main has characterised its attitude to international affairs over the last few years.
– The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), who has never been to South East Asia, makes the critical statement that the war in Vietnam could and should be brought to a close. Does the honorable member forget the attempt made by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference to send a mission to North Vietnam? The mission was refused admission to thai country. Does he forget the attempt by U Thant to bring about negotiation with the Communist countries? What the honorable member is asking is that the forces fighting Communism withdraw so that the Communists can take over. That is not the policy of this Government. The honorable, member proceeded to quote some remarks of U Thant, taking the words completely out of their context. Then he helped the Communists in Australia by saying that doubts were expressed in Australia about the wisdom of our troops being in South Vietnam. Such doubts as there are are being whipped up by the Communists and the left wing members of the Australian Labour Party who are the friends of the Communists. Of course there will be doubts while these people in this free country go into the highways and byways, make misquotations and mis-statements and create doubts about what is happening in relation to the Communist aggression from North Vietnam, supported by Communist China, against the people of South Vietnam.
In the few minutes that I have, I want to state what I believe to be the foreign policy of this country. I believe that our policy is aimed, as it should be, at protecting this country against aggression from outside so that we will be able, in a condition of freedom, to develop our great resources and give progress, advancement and happiness to the people of Australia. In the world as it is today, composed of vastly different ideologies, it would be futile for us to imagine that we can impose our way of life on other countries. Equally, we are entitled to expect that other countries will not attempt to impose their ideology and their way of life on us. I believe that all thinking people in the world appreciate the futility of war as a means of settling international disputes. Great efforts have and are being made to provide the machinery to enable nations to settle their differences by negotiation. What do we do if an aggressor country like North Vietnam refuses to negotiate?
Our first aim in foreign policy must be to maintain an adequate defence force so that we can protect ourselves against external aggression. The second aim of our foreign policy must be to secure powerful friends and to enter into pacts with them, as we have done in the Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America, which is known as the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact, and the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, so as to ensure that if we are attacked those friends will come to our aid. Thirdly, Sir, we must be a member of the United Nations so that we shall have access to an organisation to which we can put our claims if we are attacked or threatened with attack. But there is always the possibility that if we apply to the United Nations it may be unwilling to act or that, even if it were willing to act, a member country might use the veto in the Security Council and thereby prevent the organisation from acting. Therefore, it would be very unwise for Australia or any other country to rely entirely upon the United Nations as the basis of its foreign policy and for its defence. I believe that Australia, like any other country, neglects its defences or fails to make pacts with powerful friends or to play its part in the United Nations only at its peril. All these aspects are complementary to one another. The present Government has adopted the correct policy in building up Australia’s defences over the years, arranging pacts with friendly nations and playing a full part in the deliberations of the United Nations.
I now want to pass to the consideration of the causes of war. I believe that one of the main causes of war is attempted interference with the domestic affairs of other countries. I hate Communism and I hate apartheid. But I suggest that we have no right to go to war with Russia simply because we dislike its kind of government. Similarly, we have no right to interfere in South Africa because it has adopted apartheid or in Southern Rhodesia because it has a voting system of which perhaps we do not approve. In the main, Mr. Temporary Chairman, the world is divided between the Communist section and the free world. Neither can reconcile itself to the kind of government adopted by the other. However, after much thought and a great deal of consideration, a tremendous step forward was made when all the countries in the United Nations agreed to the policy of peaceful co-existence. In other words, in effect, we said to Soviet Russia: “We do not like Communism. We do not like your form of government. But we shall not interfere with you if you do not interfere with us.” So, until the emergence of the aggressive Communism of the Chinese the world was getting along quite nicely by adopting the policy of peaceful co-existence. Now, unfortunately, Communist China is disregarding that great principle of co-existence and trying to impose its form of government and its type of Communism on South Vietnam and to extend its influence to many countries in Africa and Asia.
Why are Australian forces in South Vietnam, Sir? They are there because the Government of that country asked Australia to go to its aid as South Vietnam had been subjected to unprovoked aggression oy Communist North Vietnam and Communist China. Why are Australian forces in Malaysia? They are there because the Government of Malaysia asked for our help and we, being a friendly power, gave it. Our forces are in Malaysia because that country was subjected to unprovoked attack by Indonesia, a country with which we had the most friendly relations. However, we are not prepared to stand by and see our friend, Malaysia, attacked by parachute troops and other forces of aggression however large, and however friendly we may have been, may be or may hope to be with Indonesia. Our troops must remain in South Vietnam so long as aggression continues. The Communists can end the war there tomorrow ‘if they will get out of that country and give an undertaking not to interfere in the internal, domestic affairs of South Vietnam. Australian forces can be withdrawn from Malaysia tomorrow if Indonesia will end its policy of aggression and confrontation and give an undertaking not to interfere in the domestic affairs of Malaysia.
I now turn to Southern Rhodesia, Sir. I believe that we have no right whatever to interfere in the domestic affairs of that country no matter how much we dislike its system of government or its franchise. What would we say if an African country took aggressive action against us because we do not give the right to vote to people under 21? The domestic problems of Southern Rhodesia are solely for the Government of the United Kingdom as the protecting power and the Government of Southern Rhodesia. We have no more right to interfere in any way in Southern Rhodesia than we have to say to Soviet Russia: “We insist that you give every person a vote, that you adopt the secret ballot and that you adhere to the two party system “. We in this country believe that the secret ballot and the two party system are correct. We believe that democracy such as we have in Australia is the proper way of life. But we have’ no right to interfere in the domestic affairs of Soviet Russia simply because that country’s system of autocracy - or tyranny, or whatever one may like to call it - does not coincide with our views. So I trust that the Australian Government, though we do not approve of the present system of government in Southern Rhodesia, will not take any step that would amount to a breach of the policy of peaceful co-existence and that we shall not interfere in any way in the domestic affairs of that country.
After all, Sir, what do we in Australia know about Southern Rhodesia? How many honorable members have been there? Do we know their problems? Do we realise that a large percentage of the people of Southern Rhodesia are totally illiterate? It would be just as silly to say that these people who cannot read or write and who do not know what they are doing in voting matters should have a vote as it would be for the Southern Rhodesians to say that they are going to interfere in Australia unless we give every person of the age of six years and upwards a vote. Our children of six years of age can read and write, but a large percentage of the people in Southern Rhodesia at the age of 40, 50 or 60 cannot read or write. Therefore, are we to interfere with the voting in Southern Rhodesia, which is a domestic affair, and are we to believe in this great world principle of peaceful coexistence or are we not? I believe in peaceful co-existence. I believe that it is our duty to look after our own affairs, to help world organisations to bring about international peace and not to interfere in the affairs of other countries.
.- I should like to refer to Division 165 of the estimates of the Department of External Affairs which shows that for 1965-66 the estimated expenditure in respect of international development and relief is £10,870,000, whereas the expenditure for 1964-65 was £13,781,956. This year the Department proposes to spend about £3 million less under that heading.
– That is because the supply of wheat relief to India does not occur this year.
– I am glad to hear that from the Minister because I could find no’ explanation in the estimates for that discrepancy.
– Last year we spent £3.8 million on wheat relief to India and that amount will not be spent this year.
– I thank the Minister for that explanation. I believe that all honorable members will agree with me that figures are confusing and are somewhat hard to follow. To enlarge on this subject, I have taken some figures at random. What I am about to say is not in criticism of the Department of External Affairs. This Department is one of which I, as a member of the Opposition, am very proud. I know that some things cannot be helped, but I should like some explanation of the differences in salaries paid to various Ambassadors. I found on looking through the Estimates that our highest paid overseas representatives are stationed in India and Japan. The Ambassador to Japan, who receives a salary of £8,750, is expected during the next twelve months to need £189,830 whereas our High Commissioner in Malaysia, who receives a salary of £5,205, will be responsible for an expenditure of £279,000. It appears to me that our High Commissioner in Malaysia receives a salary which is in no way comparable with that paid to our Ambassador in Japan. I should think that our High Commissioner in Malaysia would have much more to do than our Ambassador in Japan. Our Ambassador in Indonesia, according to the Estimates, will receive a salary of £5,206 and the estimated expenditure by the Department in that country will be increased by £42,000 this year to £198,000.
There is also a discrepancy between the salaries paid to our representatives in Pakistan and India. I know that it has nothing to do with the salary of our High Commissioner in each of the two countries, but India is bigger than Pakistan and yet it is intended that we should spend more in Pakistan than in India. The High Commissioner in Pakistan receives a salary of £4,785 and he will be allocated £135,300 this year, which is an increase of £31,000 on last year. The High Commissioner to India will receive a salary of £8,750 and will be responsible for an expenditure of £130,700, Which is an increase of £12,000 on last year. So the estimated expenditure for India is lower than that for Pakistan. I know that there will be some reason for that and I know also that the Minister for External Affairs will explain that to us.
Some other figures which appear in the Estimates are also interesting. They show that our Ambassador to the United States of America receives a salary of £5,625 and that he will be responsible for an expenditure of £490,400. Our Ambassador to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics receives a salary of £4,365 and the estimated expenditure for which he will be responsible is £123,300. Our Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland - God bless him - will receive £5,264 and he will be responsible for the small expenditure of only £37,800.
– I should explain that the salary of the ambassador attaches to the individual. If a person who is of a more senior rank occupies a post his salary will be higher.
– I understand that, but I should like to hear some explanation which will link up the responsibility. I know that these people are capable of serving in all areas of the world. The country to which I refer next is Vietnam. The Ambassador to Vietnam receives £4,365, yet I suppose that that is the hottest spot in the world at present. He would be quite a busy person. It is expected that expenditure for which he will be responsible will be £135,400. 1 know that there are reasons for the differences in the salaries paid and I know that our Ambassadors are so capable that they can be sent anywhere, but it does appear to me that some who ‘are in the quieter spots are receiving higher salaries than others in hot spots. It may even be that they have already served in hot spots and are being sent to posts where they can have a little rest. I dare say that that will be explained to us. 1 noticed also in the Estimates that the Antarctic Division for this year will be allotted £981,000, which is less than £1 million. From this amount we will pay in ship charter fees £193,500. As honorable members will realise, every year the Government engages a Danish ship to come to Australia and to do our fetching and carrying to and from the Antarctic. I make the plea to the Minister that some thought be given to getting our own ships so that our own people who go to that area can get the benefit of navigation in ice, because we will be in that area for a long time and we have much to learn about it. I pay a tribute to the Department of External Affairs, to all ambassadors and high commissioners and to the people who go to make up this very efficient Department. Most of us in this place have had some contact with these people in other parts of the world and I am sure that all honorable members have found them to be people of great standing in the countries where they are in residence. They are, in my opinion, a great credit to Australia. I have always found them most willing to help and to give good and sound advice to make one’s stay in a country a pleasant one.
This evening I make a plea to the Government to support a plan for the completion of the national park in North Borneo. When I was in North Borneo I was given a booklet entitled, “ A Tragedy of Borneo “. I understand that the Australian Government has made a small donation. But an amount of about £30,000 is needed to finish the work on the memorial park. This book tells the tragic tale of the march of the Allied forces from Sandakan to the other side of the island, and I propose to quote a short extract from it. I shall not read it all because it does not make very good reading. I know that we have memorials here, but if we could leave in Borneo a memorial which the people could use, future generations would know of the part that the Australians played in that area. This is part of what is written in the book “ A Tragedy in Borneo “ -
But worst of all was the death march_ of military prisoners of war which took place in North Borneo between September 1944 and August 1945.
After the fall of Singapore in 1942 some 2,750 prisoners of war comprising 2,000 Australians of the 8th Division, and 750 remnants of various British Units including Royal Air Force, and Royal Artillery, Argyll and Sutherlands, Gordon Highlanders, 29th Anti-Aircraft, Royal Army Service Corps, Loyals and Royals, together with some of the Malayan Volunteers, were moved to a prison camp at Sandakan. By September 1944, some having already perished or been transferred to other camps, there remained in Sandakan 1,800 Australians and 600 Englishmen, 2,400 men in all. By August 1945, six only pitiable relics of this flower of Australian and United Kingdom manhood survived to tell a tale of horror certainly without parallel in the annals of Australian, if not British national history. Of the 600 Englishmen there were no survivors. More Australians had died on the death march route between Sandakan and Ranau than were lost during the building of the infamous Burma-Siam railway.
The book then goes on to outline what took place, but I do not wish to refer to that. A plea is being made in North Borneo for something to be. done to establish this national park which would be a tribute to the men who gave all they had for our benefit. I do not know how many of the six Australian survivors are still living. I know that one of them is - a Mr. Nelson Short of King Street, Enfield, South Australia. I hope the Minister will give some thought to this book. It was given to all of us who were fortunate enough to visit the area. I spoke to the Australian army engineers who were working just near the area. They are not in a position to do anything but they said that if they could they would go along voluntarily with their equipment and put this place in order so that a lasting tribute might be left to the gallant men who gave their lives. If the Minister has not seen a copy of the literature I have, I shall be only too happy to leave it with him. No doubt he has copies of it all.
Sitting suspended from S.59 to 8 p.m.
.- In directing my attention to the estimates for the Department of External Affairs I wish specifically to refer to sub-division 5 of Division 165 which deals with international development and relief. [Quorum formed.] We see here that the Government has allocated £7,480,700, which compares extremely favourably with last year’s original estimate of £6,959,600 which was subsequently increased to about £10,500,000. This, of course, was caused primarily by our very generous gift of almost £4 million worth of wheat to India.
It is fair to say that Australian foreign policy has revolved around the principle of extending to the countries of South East Asia and, to a lesser extent, of Africa, aid and technical assistance in various forms. I believe that this has been well appreciated. Many of us would like to see an increase in the amount of assistance. However, we must remember that in the early stages of assisting some countries the Government learned many lessons through the failure of aid schemes to achieve a reasonable effectiveness. Now when aid is sought the Government supplies it when it believes the time is right and the facilities are available to ensure success. Unfortunately, a number of countries in South East Asia have been influenced and intimidated by doctrines and forces from outside their boundaries. These influences have sought to upset the equilibrium and gradual development of these countries.
Frequently the Australian people, through the Government, have been requested to supply other forms of aid, principally military assistance. The Government, well supported by the general public, has readily extended this aid after a full appreciation of the facts. I instance Korea in the 1950’s, the Malayan emergency in the 1950’s, later the unfortunate confrontation of Malaysia, and now more specifically South Vietnam. This form of aid has been well received in the free world parts of South East Asia and Australia has gained in stature because of its effort’s. In recent months tariff relief on certain products coming from South East Asian countries has constituted another form of assistance. There are, in fact, many types of Government aid that have been provided to these areas.
I draw attention to another area of assistance given by Australia that at times does not receive adequate publicity or the approbration it deserves. I refer to aid that is forthcoming from civilian sources in the community. The sporting fraternity and cultural societies have made big contributions, but I should like to comment more particularly on those voluntary organisations that give up time, effort and money to render practical aid that illustrates their attitude to the people of South East Asia and, to a lesser degree of certain parts of Africa. It may not surprise some honorable members, but I am sure it will surprise others, to learn that in recent years approximately £3 million has passed through these voluntary organisations in the form of aid for these countries. Of course, in the forefront are the churches, which have undertaken this form of aid for many years. Other organisations which participate include the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Freedom from Hunger Campaign, Civilian Aid Abroad, Australian Volunteers Abroad, the Lions Club, the United Nations Organisation in Australia, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, Apex and Rotary.
It was extremely satisfying last year to note that under the initiative of Sir John Crawford of the Australian National University a meeting was called in Canberra with the object of investigating the possibility of co-ordinating the activities of these organisations so that they might be streamlined and make a greater impact. Subsequent meetings were held late in 1964, and in April 1965 the stage was reached where a constitution was accepted. A new organisation is now in the embryo stages. I understand that early next month, on 6th November, members of the organisation known as the Australian Council for Overseas Aid will be conducting what they term two commissions. Other people might regard these commissions as seminars or even committee meetings, but the organisation prefers this terminology. The first commission will be related to a development and relief service and the second to a refugee migrant service. Early in the New Year the members hope to have determined their strategy and ascertained the extent of the organisation’s activities. They will get together and create a much more streamlined organisation which, in turn, will have a greater impact on their activities in South East Asia in particular. One of the valuable things about this exercise is the indication that the Department of External Affairs and the Department of Immigration have shown great interest in it right from the commencement. It would not be right to say that the Departments sponsored it but it is very satisfying to think that these two Departments have shown a remarkable interest in its activities. I believe that co-operation is progressing satisfactorily. I have no doubt there is a little sparring or a weighing up of one another’s merits or demerits. But there is an appreciation of one another’s motives and an apparent readiness to co-operate. This could well be the focal point upon which this council will either progress or go back to the organisations in their individual forms.
I wonder if honorable members who are conversant or who are becoming conversant with this activity appreciate the fields of endeavour to which the organisation may be able to apply itself. They are almost limitless. Reverting to the aid offered through governmental circles I think we would agree that aid of this type is accepted in its practical form. But I wonder whether it has a real impact on the people we are trying to contact in these parts of the world. I doubt it very much. I may not have complete doubt but I believe that per medium of such a council as this one, which is in its formative stages, there is a possibility of gaining greater access to .these people and giving them an appreciation of our thinking and our way of life. Even more importantly, it will provide an opportunity to Australian people to come in contact with these people in these parts of South East Asia and other parts of the world so Australians may gain an appreciation of their cultures, religions and backgrounds and their outlook on life.
There are many steps to be taken yet but I believe the Department of External Affairs may well contribute materially to the objectives of this council. The Department of Immigration and other Departments - one that readily comes to mind is the Treasury - might also help. Perhaps modest assistance can be rendered to such a council per medium of an acknowledgement through tax relief to those persons in the community who are prepared voluntarily to make generous contributions towards such a project. Relief could also be given in relation to freight and by streamlining customs clearing arrangements. Above all, I believe that the principal necessity at the moment is for those people in the proposed council to realise that it is necessary for them to indicate their confidence and ability to handle this project not only now but in the future. I say that because I believe it will grow into something quite substantial. I hope that the Department of External Affairs, the Department of Immigration and the Treasury and other Departments which may be interested in this project will retain a subtlety of mind and flexibility of thought to allow room for movement and the shortcomings and human feelings that may occur in such a body. In this way they could render outstanding assistance to this project.
.- In late May of this year the Government, under its foreign and defence policies, committed 800 men of the Australian Regular Army to the war in South Vietnam. In the short time since then, 7 members have been killed, 66 wounded and 39 withdrawn from the area as a result of sickness and accidents. That is a total of 1 12 casualties, or about 14 per cent, of the force sent to the area. This means that the chance of being maimed or wounded is better than one in 10. When we realise that out of this 800 men there are certain personnel who are members of service groups, this reduces the number of men in the actual front line below that figure of 800. So the possibility of being wounded is much higher than the figure I have just quoted.
The reason I raise this is that this high rate of casualty means that reserves are going to be called into the front line. Obviously they will have to be from this country. The Government has indicated that the compulsory military trainees, the national servicemen, upon completion of basic and corps training will be drafted to Regular Army units and thenceforth will be treated as members of those units. The first group of conscripts which went into the Army to undertake training will terminate their basic and corps training about the end of December this year. I think it is significant that the Army refuses to give any guarantee that national service trainees will not be committed to the war in South Vietnam and refuses to give any guarantees extending beyond the end of December. Obviously from January onwards these young men who, in very many cases, did not desire to become members of the military services, are going to be committed to a war in a distant place; a war about which they know nothing. Some of them are going to be wounded and others are going to lose their lives in the jungles of Vietnam.
What grieves me greatly is that this war is such an unjust and unnecessary thing. In the first place, it commenced as a civil revolt against the oppressive, despotic administration which was then imposing itself upon the people of South Vietnam. I think it valuable to point out that there has never been an administration in South Vietnam up till now that could make any claim that it was representative of the people and the choice of the people. This is an important point. The people in South Vietnam initially were quite justified, in my assessment of the situation, in revolting. I believe that people are justified in revolting if they are subjected to oppressive, despotic, corrupt administrations. In that country we have seen a succession of such administrations under which life was treated cheaply and nothing was done for centuries to improve the lot of the people. Not only are people justified in revolting to change such an administration, but they are justified in resorting to a bloody revolt.
Of course the argument is put up from honorable members opposite that Australia is represented in South Vietnam to defend freedom. What is this freedom? The freedom that those members speak of is completely different to the concepts of freedom of the people of under-privileged countries such as South Vietnam. It is a completely different type of freedom to the freedom I believe in which w an egalitarian, democratic freedom in a socialist state. That is different to the monolithic, omnipresent, glorified type of state which some members opposite would embrace as the ideal type of state under which to live. But at least we in this country, when speaking of freedom, have one common starting point. V are talking of living conditions in a fairly affluent age where we do not have to worry about low life expectancy or high infant mortality. We have an abundance of recreational facilities, good beaches, a good countryside in which to relax and, generally, a high living standard. When we talk of freedom we talk of these things and the right to enjoy them. But when I hear honorable members opposite who are interjecting say: “We are in South Vietnam io defend freedom,” I wonder what they conceive. Do they conceive for one minute that the people in South Vietnam enjoy the same type of things that we enjoy in this country? Are our troops in South Vietnam to perpetuate the long standing oppression which has been the lot of the people of that country, where death has been the cold companion of far too many families, where no matter how hard the people work they are not getting anywhere, although they are running faster and faster on a treadmill as it were? It does not matter how high they aspire or how assiduously they apply themselves to the task of improving themselves, they never seem to progress. Is this the sort of freedom we tell these people we stand for? We must make some more material contribution to their welfare. This is the challenge that faces us with the emerging countries of the Afro-Asian bloc.
As to the development of the war in Vietnam the undeniable fact is, of course, that North Vietnam has now become wholeheartedly committed. But this development has arisen from the short-sighted way in which we have confronted the problem of the social and economic inequalities of South Vietnam. We have the problem in South Vietnam now and we will have to face it in a lot of other countries in the world. Our short-sighted policy in Vietnam - replying with military means to social and economic problems - will result in the North being driven further and further into the arms of Communist China. So I think it is worthwhile at this time, when the lives of young 20-year-olds are going to be committed to the war in Vietnam, to reflect on the foreign policy of the Government - that is if we can really discover the foreign policy of the Government. It seems to involve a prostration to whatever is decreed at a given time by the United States Administration. If President Johnson were, through some unforeseen circumstances, to leave office and Hubert Humphrey to take over as President, I have no doubt in my mind, having looked at the record of Vice-
President Humphrey, that we would see a much more liberal and flexible approach to international problems than we see at present. Yet this Government, which has wholeheartedly endorsed the virtues of current United States policies, will be prepared in such an event to somersault overnight and follow the change in policy. Why does it not develop its own policy?
Let me deal with the attitude of the Government to foreign policy. We know of recent happenings in Indonesia. We have had another flaring up of the Kashmiri dispute between Pakistan and India. These are fairly serious matters with grave implications for Australia. But was any Press conference on these important subjects called by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies)? Did we get any statements in the House within a relatively short time after these happenings? Not at all. The Prime Minister, however, wasted no time in calling a Press conference to discuss his appointment as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. This indicates a serious state of affairs on the part of the Prime Minister in assessing national priorities.
Let us have a look at our foreign relations. What do we have in this field? We have some military pacts, but not many of them, and the ones that we have are certainly fairly weak things. There is very little in the way of aid to under-developed countries. But let us look at the military pacts first. We have a letter of affiliation, I suppose one would call it, or of commitment to the United Kingdom and Malaya treaty. We have some sort of letter of affiliation or commitment to the Federation of Malaysia. What else do we have? First there is the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty, but in Article 4 of that Treaty the clear indication is that the Treaty is not worth the paper it is written on. It says amongst other things that each party recognises that an armed attack in the Pacific area on any of the other 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.
Here again is the glaring weakness of this Treaty. We saw just how inadequate and almost non-existent it was during the recent Pakistan-India conflagration. Here was Pakistan, a subscribing nation to the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty. I know, of course, that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) says there is an understanding that we are not committed to any confrontation between Pakistan and India over Kashmir. However, I was rather interested to see a statement by the High Commissioner of Pakistan, Dr. A. M. Malik, which was reported in the Queensland “Times” of I 10th September 1965. It was reported that Dr. Malik had said that Pakistan differed from Australia in the interpretation of the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty and that there was a very definite commitment for Australia to support Pakistan.
Of course this brings out the way in which this Government resorts to a string of slogans loosely knitted together for its foreign policy. The type of comment that we get from the Government is this: “ We cannot be neutral in the face of aggression.” Well, here was aggression. Someone committed aggression, surely, yet we remained neutral. Is this statement that we cannot be neutral in the face of aggression merely a slogan or is it a principle? This is a pertinent question and the Government, on behalf and for the benefit of the people of this country, ought to make a declaration of just what such statements mean. It ought to make a declaration of just what its foreign policy is. If the Government says that it means such things only in circumstances in which Communist influence is present then it has a. clear choice in this case, because we have Pakistan getting aid from Communist China and India getting aid from the United Soviet Republics. This, of course, clearly exposes the glib way in which the Government deals with slogans instead of facing the facts of international relations.
So far as S.E.A.T.O. and the war in Vietnam are concerned we are assured that our commitment is an unavoidable one under S.E.A.T.O., but in actual fact - and I had this placed on record by way of a question I asked of the Minister for External Affairs - outside of the United States, Australia and New Zealand none of the other signatory nations to this S.E.A.T.O. Treaty has committed troops to the war in Vietnam.
Let me move on from S.E.A.T.O. We have the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty, of course, which seems to be a little stronger but still has this escape hatch of member nations being committed according to their constitutional processes. But this is about all we do have in our international relations, military pacts. I suggest that situated as we are, strategically, geographically, tradewise or any other way you care to look at it, our main interest surely should be in the economic and social welfare of the developing countries of the Afro-Asian bloc. Surely we should be looking towards nonaggression pacts with these countries - friendship pacts, trade pacts, development pacts. Of course we have the Colombo Plan, but when one looks at the aid contribution that we make under that plan it seems a rather small and scanty contribution from this country when compared with what we are capable of doing.
But when we do bring Colombo Plan students to our country do we teach them an appreciation of the democratic freedoms that we espouse as being our ideal and as being what we desire to introduce into the under-privileged countries? Well, these students are allowed to watch but they are not allowed to involve themselves in democratic freedoms. I have a letter from a Dr. D’Arcy Ryan of the Department of Anthropology in the University of Western Australia which was published in the “Australian” on 14th September 1965. I will quote just an extract from it which shows the general trend. Apparently after the Australian Labour Party changed its policy on White Australia some Asian students in this country, here under the Colombo Plan, were asked to comment and they made some rather mild comments. What was the reaction of the Government? Let me quote from this letter -
Not only are students forbidden to show any active interest in Australian politics, even at a student level; they are even warned not to express any public opinion on the subject.
When the Labour Party recently deleted White Australia from its platform, several Asian students in Perth were contacted by the local Press and were quoted as expressing mild approval of the change.
Soon after this, they were visited in their lodgings by a representative of External Affairs who reprimanded them for this “ political activity “ and reminded them that they could be deported and their scholarships withdrawn if there was any more of it.
Was the Minister responsible for this? I wonder. Is this the type of freedom or democracy that we stand for?
I want to make a point in relation to aid to under-developed countries. Although we are so keen on helping these unfortunate countries the Government proposes to place an excise duty of 6d. on each 10s. box of U.N.I.C.E.F. Christmas cards which are so much in demand because of the very high quality of their presentation and the commendable purpose for which the funds are used to help in under-developed countries. The expenditure of 10s. on just one box of these cards could do the following things: It could protect 50 children against tuberculosis or provide enough penicillin to cure 20 children of yaws, or give 40 children a large drink of milk every day for a week. The purchase of two boxes would enable enough antibiotics to be bought to cure eight children of trachoma. The purchase of five boxes would protect 35 children against malaria for a year and of 10 boxes would give intensive treatment for seven children suffering from leprosy. But it is more important for the Government to get 6d. excise duty on each 10s. box than it is to promote aid to these under-developed countries.
The clear fact is that we must encourage social and economic reform, and obviously the democratic socialist movement is going to be the most effective instrument with which to do this. I quote in support of this view the statement in support of it by the Governor-General, Lord Casey, published in the “ Australian “ on 4th August of this year.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In debating the estimates for the Department of External Affairs last year I referred to the small amount which was being appropriated for international development and relief, and in particular To the fact that the amount for the United Nations Special Fund in last year’s Budget was very much smaller than the amount in the Budget of the previous year. Looking at the department’s estimates for this year one would have still greater misgivings, because whereas last year we expended £10,607,507 on international development and relief this year we are appropriating £7,480,700. Accordingly I wish to refer to another section of the Estimates, those for the Department of the Treasury, but since they are relevant to the estimates of the Department of External Affairs, I take it that I may refer to them. They disclose an admirable increase in the amount of our appropriation for the International Development Association from £1,272,972 last year to £3,340,000 this year. The estimates for the Department of External Affairs disclose an admirable increase in the amount for Colombo Plan economic development from £2,818,562 to £3.5 million. Overall we will be spending slightly less this year than last year on all forms of international aid, £14,059,000 instead of £14,604,500. As the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Bosman) pointed out tonight .there was a special amount of £3.8 million for wheat to India last year.
Although we are spending slightly less this year, I believe that there is a trend in this year’s estimates which we should applaud. We are giving more to the International Development Association and the Colombo Plan. We are giving more for multilateral aid than ever before and we are decreasing the amount for bilateral aid. Multilateral aid this year is estimated to cost £4.47 million, last year it cost £2.47 million. In bilateral aid we are spending £9.58 million this year whereas last year we spent £12.1 million. I therefore applaud the general trend which the estimates reveal towards multilateral aid.
In discussing the effort made to channel economic aid to the developing countries it is important to keep firmly in mind the desirable criteria for allocating this aid, the differing effects of different kinds of aid, and the international trends in the form this aid is taking. Aid can be given for three basic reasons, namely to promote certain political purposes favoured by donor countries, to obtain a return on capital, and to promote greater equality in the world distribution of income. The Labour Party believes that it is the third criterion that needs to be increasingly stressed. It is the most just, and it is to the eventual benefit of all countries since it increases the general dynamism of the world economy. The days when foreign aid was received with political strings attached are passing, while aid with economic strings, often wrapped up in financial forms that are not easily discernible, is also becoming unpopular and inappropriate.
The kind of aid which fulfils the most just criteria and is most appropriate is multilateral international aid, provided that it is substantial and can be quickly mobilised. Hitherto this kind of aid has played second fiddle to bilateral aid agreements. But valuable experience has been accumulated within international agencies in the granting of multilateral aid. Especially noteworthy has been the work of the Technical Assistance Office, the International Development Association and the United Nations Special Fund which have helped to promote valuable and sometimes unspectacular work which lays the groundwork for a genuine economic development - resource surveys, the training of technicians and the like. This experience will probably be needed in the very near future. It is increasingly clear that certain projects by their very nature go beyond bil.lateralism in aid or are too expensive to be handled this way. The Lower Mekong project and the proposed Asian Highway are obvious examples.
Until recently the Australia Government has concentrated on bilateral forms of aid. The ratio of multilateral aid to bilateral aid has been rather a low one. As I have said, in the estimates for the coming year there has been something of a welcome improvement in this ratio due entirely to the increased grant to the International Development Association. Even so, the ratio of multilateral air to bilateral aid will remain the same as that prevailing in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 1961 and 1962. This ratio has been described in the Organisation’s 1963 annual review as unsatisfactory and as arising from the circumstance that the O.E.C.D. institutions had “only just begun their activities “. The report noted also that multilateralism in aid was becoming increasingly important in view of “ the need for closer and more systematic co-ordination of aid efforts arising from the great variety of sources of external assistance “.
The Labour Party would like to see a stepping up of funds to other United Nations agencies, especially to the United Nations Special Fund. The Labour Party believes that this kind of aid, involving as it does low interest charges, straight out grants and supply of technicians, helps to keep down the financial hangover of debt redemption involved in servicing the debts incurred by developing countries. It is alarming to note that whereas in the early 1950’s the servicing of debts absorbed only 4 per cent, of the value of exports of the underdeveloped countries, the figure last year had risen to 12.1 per cent. This was noted in the World Bank’s report last year, and the trend is a growing one. True multilateral aid is not qualitatively different in this respect from the more generous bilateral grants. But the more multilateral aid is available the less the developing countries will have to depend on the inflow of more expensive capital supplies. Multilateral aid is the closest equivalent to an improvement in the terms of trade since it allows all foreign assistance to be mobilised by governments of receiving countries for additional purchases essential to development.
The whole impact of aid must be kept in perspective. It is a tragedy to realise that every time there is a recession in the highly developed industrial countries their cutback in purchases from underdeveloped areas involves huge losses of foreign exchange for those areas. During -the recession of 1957-58 developing countries lost more in this way than they had received in loans from the World Bank in the previous six years. Multilateral aid, together with generous forms of bilateral aid, can help to strengthen and diversify the economies of the underdeveloped “Third World” of Asia, Africa and Latin America so that these effects will be less disastrous in the future. By increasing import capacity they provide the sine qua non for genuine economic progress.
The Government’s increased contribution to the International Development Association provides expanded resources for a body which in outlook and purpose represents one of the most fruitful channels of aid that has yet been proposed. But the Labour Party would like to see Australia giving a lead to other developed countries by an allround stepping up of its contribution other international bodies handling multilateral aid. We desire to see this increasing emphasis for three reasons. Multilateral aid allows economic growth without the feeling that strings are attached; it allows the underdeveloped countries to avoid the heavy debt servicing on commercial loans and it allows an increase in the capacity to import of the underdeveloped countries. Bilateral aid should continue, of course, hut we have often seen in the past that the interest rates on bilateral aid agreements have been higher than would have been involved in multilateral aid. Sometimes they have involved agreements to pay back grants and loans in exports at fixed prices - prices often below those which eventually ruled on the world market. A certain cost was therefore involved. An increasing international acceptance of the multilateral principle can ensure that this kind of thing does not happen. The Labour Party wants to see the propo tion of our national income devoted to aid rise to 1 per cent. That task has been set by the United Nations Development Decade Plan. But within that figure the Labour Party would like to see a continuing and substantial shift of emphasis towards the multilateral form. Under today’s conditions this is best performed by more generous contributions to the International Development Association, the United Nations Special Fund and like bodies.
The Labour Party believes that the policy I have been expressing falls within the general scope of the United Nations Development Decade Plan and also within tfr general principles which we espouse the every nation must share in the skills of mankind and the resources of the world according to its needs, and must contribute to those skills and resources according to its capacity. On this point the Labour Party at its conference this year expressed the following principles -
Australia should contribute one per cent, of her national income to less developed countries and should encourage and match increasing contributions by other more developed nations.
Australia should aim, and should encourage other nations, to channel international aid as much as possible to international agencies.
The Government still proclaims preference to bilateral aid. Only last year an intergovernmental committee inquired into this subject. The Government’s attitude was expressed somewhat belatedly in answer to a questionnaire circulated by the United Nations Economic and Social Council following a resolution in December 1963 at the General Assembly, which proposed an international programme on the application of science and technology to the development of the developing countries. I refer honorable gentlemen to the reply which the Government sent in March of this year.
The Government struck a positive note at first, saying that it applauded affiliations between universities, laboratories and research institutes in developed and developing countries. For various reasons - shortage of staff and the desire for short visits only - the Government then expressed a preference for bilateral arrangements rather than the multilateral arrangements which the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly had proposed.
The Economic and Social Council had proposed an impressive list of areas of scientific and technological research where progress would be relevant to developing nations. Some of those areas of research were location of new sources of water; prevention of water loss from storage areas; development of drought resistant varieties of plants; desalination of water supplies; improvement of weather forecasting; control and modification of weather; utilisation of solar, wind and tidal energy; road building, rural feeder roads and soil stabilisation; rapid turnround of shipping at ports; and improved teaching of science. Every one of those areas of research is of vital interest to the development of Australia. If we are not already undertaking research in these fields, we should be. The Government proclaims at international conferences that Australia occupies a unique position as a country which is in some ways developed and in other ways underdeveloped. If the Government really believes this, why did it not take the opportunity to point out Australia’s deep interest in these fields of research? Why did the Government fail to offer to developing countries the opportunity to participate in these research activities which are so much of interest to them as well as to us?
Since the first questionnaire the Economic and Social Council has sent further questionnaires to the member countries. It would be interesting to know whether the Minister has answered them. The Council asked for details of affiliations between universities, research institutes and laboratories. One wonders whether the Government has provided this information, since in the absence of a science policy there is no organisation in Australia charged with keeping track of such arrangements. The Economic and Social Council has also asked member states to provide its working groups with specialised papers on matters which concern the recommendations I have listed. Has the Government requested Australian scientists to prepare such papers? It seems obvious from the list I have given that some Australian scientists should be able to make valuable contributions in this way. If the Government proposes to slant Australia’s aid on bilateral lines I would ask what facilities does the Minister fo External Affairs have to advise him on the implementation of a bilateral aid policy and, further, what organisational arrangements does his Department have to assess requests for aid in order to determine whether the projects suggested are feasible and are the best way of spending money in the recipient countries.
I can only hope that the Government pursues the une revealed by the changes in the estimates rather than that revealed in the statements of policy which it gave last March to the Economic and Social Council on the subject of international aid and relief.
.- The estimates before the Committee tonight are extremely important not only to Australia but to other parts of the world. I would like to acknowledge the wonderful work being done by Australia’s many representatives all over the globe. In many cases they are working under difficult conditions and in strange surroundings. We owe a debt to our representatives in the world’s trouble spots. There are great problems in South East Asia and Australia is doing all that it can in fine area to salve them.
This evening I propose to refer to development and technical assistance being provided by Australia under the Colombo Plan. The Colombo Plan is very important to our friends in South East Asia. I was fortunate to be able to visit this area only last year and I discovered that Australia was held in high regard in every country that I visited. This is important. It has been said that Australia’s contribution in the way of aid for developing countries is not very large. I think more important than the size of a country’s contribution are the way it is spent and the avenues into which it is channelled. Many countries that need assistance do not require handouts. In some cases they may be glad of a direct handout, but generally speaking these are proud people. They want to help themselves and they want us to help them in certain directions. These are things that we can do and are doing, especially in the field of technical assistance, research and .the other programmes which are being carried out in many countries.
I spent a considerable time in Pakistan. Here is a nation struggling to get its feet after some very difficult years. Its problems are mainly the problems of age, whereas our problems are mainly the problems of youth. Australia is helping Pakistan in its development programme. Pakistan has plans for tremendous works and those plans are being put into effect. Education presents a big problem, but it is a problem that Pakistan is tackling in no uncertain manner. When I tell honorable members that 80 per cent, of Pakistan’s population has never been to school they will readily understand the magnitude of the problem. We are providing nations such as Pakistan with assistance under the Colombo Plan. A number of Asian students are studying in this country under the auspices of the plan. This is important.
Another problem is that of housing. We think that we in Australia have a housing problem. Perhaps we have, having regard to our standard of living, but nobody can appreciate the magnitude of the housing problem in some developing countries of South East Asia unless he has visited those countries. When we provide assistance to tackle this problem we are doing a worthwhile job. These countries are not sitting down and doing nothing for themselves. Despite their tremendous economic difficulties and balance of payments difficulties they are tackling their problems in no uncertain way. They are building factories. We recently passed legislation in the Parliament designed to assist us to absorb some of the products of their factories. Assisting these countries in their trading is an important part of our foreign policy. They want to trade with us. They want to work for themselves and become trading partners with as many other countries as possible. Some very large factories have been built under difficult conditions in these countries and they employ many people. We buy the products of one of these factories, a jute factory, in the town of Dacca in East Pakistan. It employs some 30,000 people on a three shift basis and a six day week.
This is a tremendous project. The raw material is grown in Pakistan and the factory converts it into the product we use. It is sent to Australia and to other countries. We use it for wool bales. This is important to them and it is important to us, and we should continue with this sort of programme.
This is one of the main ways in which we can give help to these countries. Their first requirement is food. This is important. We know of some situations that have arisen, for instance, in India. Wheat production is unable to keep pace with population growth. In 1963-64, wheat production increased by a little over 4 per cent., but the population increased by 5 per cent, and consumption by 6 per cent. The increase in consumption was the result of more and more people changing over to the finer grains. The short fall was of the order of 7 million or 8 million tons. Previous estimates for the Department of External Affairs contained an amount of several million pounds, which was the cost of a gift of wheat to India last year. A similar provision does not appear in the estimates for this year, but I have not the slightest doubt that, if the need were to arise, the Government would again come to the assistance of these people and supply wheat, if we were fortunate enough to have a supply ourselves. We expect to be somewhat short of wheat this year, but we have the capacity to produce great quantities of it. This is the way we can assist these people. We can engage in trade with them and let them have these products. However, if the people in other countries are in necessitous circumstances, as they were in India quite recently, I have no doubt that the Government would sympathetically consider making a gift of wheat to them.
I believe that Australia, with its knowledge, research capacity and extension services can provide material assistance to other countries. People in the developing countries have been using the same farming methods for some 2,000 years. Some small changes, mainly related to the use of fertilisers, have been made in recent years. Here again, these countries are building huge factories to produce fertilisers. But they have problems, just as we do, in persuading the farmers to use the fertilisers. I believe that it is quite vital for the people in South East Asia to change their methods of production, and this is a field in which we can provide assistance. Unless they look to research, the use of fertilisers and modern techniques in farming, they cannot hope to increase production to the point where they will be able to feed their people. When I have discussed the problems with people in these countries, they have always come back to the point that they require Australia’s assistance, in the main, in research so that they can increase their production. The provision of research assistance would not cost Australia a great deal of money. But the gain to these countries would be tremendous. I would say that, if we trained people from these countries in Australia and assisted them in their own countries, we would be doing a good job.
Australia and other countries are providing assistance in many practical ways. For instance, a contract for some 400 million dollars has been let for an irrigation and hydro scheme in parts of West Pakistan. Australian engineers are engaged on this project, but this, of course, is not the only project on which assistance is being given. Some 10,000 Pakistanis are working on the project. The people in the engineering section, which employs 600 engineers, have been drawn from all over the world. Some, of course, come from Pakistan. In fact, the chief engineer is a Pakistani. This is the way in which we can help and this is the way in which I believe the more advanced countries of the world should continue to help the less fortunate countries to develop. If we continue with this extremely important assistance, we will be following one of the main avenues by which I believe we can bring peace to the world. We cannot expect the world to be content and to be at peace if so many of our fellow human beings are hungry or have no place in which to live. I think in Calcutta about 1 million people have no place in which to live at all, and this situation is quite common in countries in this area.
I believe that Australia can be of tremendous assistance, not so much with direct assistance in the way that I have mentioned but more with the provision of know how. Australia has advanced at a tremendous pace. We have advanced perhaps as rapidly as any other country has for the relatively short time that we have been developing. Other countries have been populated for considerably longer than Australia has. We should take more of our know how to these countries. They have the ability to undertake projects if they know how, and indeed their projects would be much bigger than ours. This development will not happen overnight or in a few days or a few years. It can grow only over many years, but we must continue with this exercise and increase the assistance wherever we can. In .this way, we as Australians will be making a contribution to the peace of the world.
There are many avenues through which we can provide assistance. Having built some of these dams or some of these hydro plants, we should not then stop. Let us move on and assist these people to build factories. Let us assist them with their techniques and machinery. Australia has a tremendous problem because 80 per cent, of its imports consist of raw materials, machine tools and so on that we need to build factories here. Other countries with large populations face a tremendous problem in raising the money that is required to develop their factories and their ports. In some countries, there is a shortage of port facilities, and these must be developed if we are to have any chance of feeding the people. The ports in India are congested and money is needed to develop them. I understand that the World Bank is coming to the rescue of the port of Bombay. It is essential that the .ports be developed and perhaps mechanised. For us to grow the wheat but not to be able to transport it to the people is not good enough. We should assist by providing techniques and engineers. We can spare some engineers and we have the techniques. We must proceed to give the assistance.
.- First, let me direct the attention of the Committee to the fact that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), has so little regard for the discussions that are taking place here that he is absent from the chamber. He cannot spare even the few, poor, miserable hours to which the Committee is entitled when it is discussing these estimates. This is the partem of parliamentary practice that we can expect from this Ministry. Honorable members opposite are interjecting. 1 ds not mind. The honorable members in the paddock, can bark as loud and as long as they like. They are used to being sneered at and being treated as satellites. After all, they are the puppets of Australian politics. They do not need to worry about whether Ministers are here or not. That is the first point. The Minister for External Affairs should be present during this debate. I do not mind him going away to have a cup of tea or taking a few moments off to do whatever is required. He ought to be in the House when we are discussing the estimates for his Department, but what is the use of talking to him.
That brings me to the point that I rose to discuss. When I turned to the estimates for the Department of External Affairs, I found that this financial year we are to spend £703,500 on salaries for an administrative complex of 401 officers. Let me show how this Parliament is treated by the Minister. On 12th October, he answered a question that had been placed on notice earlier by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), who asked for information on Thailand that could be obtained only by specialists on the spot. Thailand is associated with Australia in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, and accordingly is committed to our support. The honorable member for Newcastle asked whether that country had a parliament, whether it had a system of trial by jury, whether it had a free Press, for example. These questions could be answered only by the obtaining of information by somebody who was on the spot.
The Minister’s reply was to the effect that the system of government is based on the provisions of the Constitution of Thailand, a copy of which is available in the Parliamentary Library, and that information concerning Thailand’s legal and administrative systems is contained in the Thailand annual “ Year Book “, a copy of which would be placed in the Library. In other words, he said: “ Look it up for yourself “. If this were the only answer by the Minister to the effect that the information sought could be found in a year book, it might be fair enough, but this sort of answer has been given on other occasions.
The Ministry treats departments as their own proprietary interest. The 401 officers who are involved in the administration of the Department of External Affairs operate under a charter from this Parliament. The Minister for External Affairs operates under a charter from this Parliament. Any honorable member who places a question on the notice paper is entitled to a full and thoughtful answer. I would not ordinarily have worried about a single instance of this kind of answer in “ Hansard “. But I found earlier in the year that questions that I asked were treated in this way. This is not the way to treat members of the Parliament. We have to keep a grip of the situation. The departmental estimates are our province. We place our imprimatur on them. The Minister is answerable to us and he should be present in the chamber when the estimates for his Department are being considered. Departmental officers should prepare answers to questions placed on the notice paper by members as if they were answering questions asked by the Minister himself. Departments are not a proprietary interest of the Ministry. The consideration of departmental estimates is a proper function of the Parliament. So I voice my protest at the way in which the Parliament is treated.
Now I come to my second point. We find in the estimates of this Department some important indications of Australian foreign policy. I want to deal particularly with the Government’s attitude to Australian representation overseas and to our recognition of other countries, as revealed by an examination of the departmental estimates. We recognise most countries. We are represented in some 20, 1 think, at embassy level, some 10 at high commission level and 3 or 4 at consulate general level. In a sense, this is not perhaps bad representation overseas for what used to be a small nation. But Australia is not a small and insignificant nation today. There are some 120 members of the United Nations. About 80 of them have a population smaller than that of Australia. Many of them have nowhere near as much wealth as we have and very few have anything like Australia’s political and economic stability. We have a particular duty in the world, and the least we ought to do is recognise and be represented in those countries that are represented in Australia.
I turn in particular to Eastern Europe. That part of the world has been especially affected by the pattern of the cold war. It has been part of the pattern of the cold war that the countries of Eastern Europe that were occupied by Russia at the end of the war have been considered beyond the pale. It was said that they were behind the iron curtain. However, there has been a dramatic change in the politics of Europe in the last 10 years, and especially in the last 3 or 4 years. But despite this we still have no representation in Poland, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Bulgaria or Roumania. This amounts to non-recognition of our own cultural heritage, for countless thousands of Australians have come here from those countries. I believe that at present there are in Australia something like 40,000 people of Yugoslav descent. Yugoslavia represents a window of freedom in Europe. It is a nation that placed its independence in jeopardy yearly between 1947 and 1952 or 1953 in standing off Russia during the Stalinist regime. The least we can do is to be represented in Yugoslavia and to sponsor that kind of independent spirit.
Poland is a particular case. Nobody can tell me that that country is overrun by Communists and that every person involved in the administration and .government there is under Communist dominion along with every other Pole. Poland has a long and proud heritage and an independent culture. It is not the kind of country that can be overrun and made to adopt a Communist ideology overnight. I do not suggest that it has the kind of parliamentary government that we in Australia have adopted, but I believe that it is moving slowly towards it. Poland is a very important fragment of Eastern Europe and Australia ought to be represented there. There is another point in all this. An Australian travelling in Eastern Europe has to throw himself or herself on the mercy and the generosity of British consuls and ambassadors. It is to the great credit of Britain that it has set the standard in these matters. I visited Eastern Europe last year. I have had dealings with people of those countries, hundreds of whom live in my electorate. They are constantly in contact with Eastern Europe and people are continually coming here from that part of the world. If there is any hold-up in arrivals or in the issue of passports, visas or anything else, is there any Australian official in Eastern Europe to whom a person intending to travel to Australia can turn? Of course there is not, because Australia is not represented in Eastern European countries. British consulates and embassies do our work for us in those countries. The least we can do as an independent, sovereign, wealthy and stable nation is to have ourselves represented in those countries. We can no longer hitchhike, as it were, and rely on British diplomatic experience. So I believe that we ought to be represented in Poland and in Yugoslavia in particular.
Last year in Belgrade I discussed this question with officials and with members of the Yugoslav parliament. That country is putting up a gallant struggle to achieve and maintain stability and is moving towards parliamentary democracy. It may well have a long way to go, but parliamentary democracies do not develop overnight. I believe that Yugoslavia, despite the fact that it has a Communist regime, is moving towards a more liberal spirit than is exhibited by many countries that are non-Communist. For example, a person can pass across the borders between Greece and Yugoslavia without let or hindrance. All he needs are simple documents and there he is, free to cross the border. I saw peasants driving sheep across it freely.
We have to recognise the facts of the last three or four years. The countries of the world are not isolated into groups and blocs any more. The barriers between nations are falling down, and we are one of the last nations trying to preserve these barriers or exhibiting signs of a neurosis or complex about them. One can now buy a motor car in London and drive it across Europe through Vienna to Moscow. Most of the barriers that have been inhibiting movement between countries for the last 20 years are falling down. Yet the Australian Government seems to want to perpetuate them. In the next financial year’s estimates for the Department of External Affairs I want to see provision for Australian representation in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Turkey and Iran, to give a few examples.
I make a particular appeal for Australian representation in Iran, which is descended from the ancient country of Persia. It, too, is struggling to raise itself out of the neglect of generations. It stands at the head of the Persian Gulf. A person on the other side of that Gulf, of course, would describe it as the Arabian Gulf. Ships cross the Indian
Ocean from Australia and travel up the Persian Gulf carrying Australian goods and opening up Australian trade. We need dynamic representation in countries like Iran if we are to assert our right to be considered an important and integral part of the trading complex of the new Asia. I am sure that there is a great market for steel in Iran.
I have outlined some of the fallacies of Australian foreign policy. If honorable members look down the list of countries in which we are represented, they will find that we are represented in South Korea and in Spain, for instance. We have a much closer affinity with Poland than with Spain. We have a much closer geographical affinity with Iran than with Spain. But I do not mind our being represented in Spain, for I believe that Australia should be represented as widely as possible throughout the world. I do not believe that our representation abroad should be inhibited by a shortage of staff in the Department. When a senior Yugoslav official asked me why we were not represented in Yugoslavia when most other nations of the British Commonwealth of Nations were, I replied that we were a new, young nacion developing our administrative services and that we were not over-burdened with people who could become diplomats and official representatives in other capacities. His reply, based on his own experience, was: “ If you throw a person into the water, he will find a way to swim “. We have to do these things to build up our representation throughout the world. This is one of the challenges to Australia.
Another matter on which Australian policy is indicated by the estimates for the Department of External Affairs is the nonrecognition of other countries, notably China, East Germany and Mongolia. Let me disregard the first two for a moment and consider Mongolia. I am one of the people who have visited that country. I did so because I met Mongolian delegates at a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Like most Australians and, indeed, most people throughout the world, the bulk of my knowledge of Mongolia was related to the times of Genghis Khan. This is a new nation. I believe it to be as independent as any nation such as this can be, sandwiched as it is between the two giants, China and Russia. I consider that it is to our perma- nent and continuing interest to sponsor independent nations in the United Nations and elsewhere. Mongolia is the only nation in the United Nations that we do not recognise. I hope that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) will take this case up among honorable members on the other side of the chamber. Places such as Mongolia have votes in the United Nations and they are members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. I believe that it is flying in the face of the facts of politics to refuse to recognise such countries.
– I interrupt my friend to mention the Malthus Islands which have the same voting strength at the United Nations.
– If the honorable member wants to discuss voting strength at the United Nations I will go with him all the way; but that policy does not apply in this place. The Government is gerrymandering the electorate to give, votes to spinnifex and sandhills. I believe that we are in error with our policy of non-recognition. I believe also that we are compounding the errors of the past in the divisions of the cold war. The generals can put dotted lines across the map in Korea, Vietnam and Germany. I visited East Germany. Now we have a furore around the country because we are not going to let into Australia people who want to participate in pentathlon, decathlon or table tennis championships because they come from East Germany.
What is wrong with East Germans that is not wrong with West Germans? Why should we visit the sins of all Germans of all history upon the 17 million people of East Germany? Is it because they have a Communist government? Of course, it is not, because we recognise the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. We recognise Yugoslavia, although we are not represented there, and we recognise Poland and other countries. This is one of the fallacies of the cold war, and I believe that we do ourselves no service whatever by continuing the idiocies of European cold war politics. We ought to take steps to do something about it. I can see no difference between the citizens of North Vietnam and those of South Vietnam, or between those of North Korea and South Korea. They are all people. In my view and from my experience, ours is a friendly world. About the only things wrong with it are the governments throughout the world. If they could only start to recognise the fact that humanity has very much the same kind of consistent needs, consistent fears, consistent desires and requirements we would get somewhere. This is where I believe Australia comes in. We ought to be the catalyst of world democracy. We are one of the 30 to 35 democracies of the world which operate on a parliamentary system.
I believe that the challenge of this time and the decision that the peoples of the world have to make is a decision between parliamentary democracies as developed over the seven centuries of British democracy and now spreading throughout the world and the continuing systems of authoritarian dictatorship, whether they be Communist, or one party states such as Ghana. We are one people who can supply the machinery of decision and assistance and stability to the rest of the world. This is what we have failed to do. This is what the Estimates demonstrate. We have not taken our part in the world with anything like the duty and obligation that falls upon one of the richest, most stable, most secure and most fortunate nations of the world. I hope that as a result of decisions of the Parliament in the near future we will demonstrate an independence of spirit worthy of our nation and take into the councils of the world an independence of spirit which has been lacking for the last 10 or 15 years, so that we can do our duty for the future and pay tribute to the system of parliamentary democracy and freedom which we have inherited from the experience of seven centuries of parliamentary government.
– I commend the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) for his very worthwhile contribution. May I take up from where he left off when he said that we need an Australia that is capable of developing an independence of spirit. I like that expression. I think that every Australian likes it. We should be independent. We should be capable of forming our own opinions, making up our own minds and deciding our own policy, particularly in matters affecting external affairs. We should not be mere “Yes” men for the State Department of the United States of America by taking the line that, right or wrong, America is always right. No matter how irresponsible the President of the United States might be, apparently our Government would be prepared to support the United States foreign policy. I do not believe that we should willy nilly always accept United States policy in matters of foreign affairs. Sometimes we should try to develop an independent view, an Australian view, and we should be prepared, if we think the Americans are wrong, to tell them that they are wrong.
– They would admire us more for it.
– I agree that they would admire us more for it. The Americans do not want us to be mere “Yes” men, surely. If we accept that the Americans expect us to be “Yes” men it shows that we believe that they treat us as their slaves and their creatures. This, surely, is not true. I do not think that any of us would have much admiration for the Americans if we had reason to believe that they regarded us as their servile slaves. We are not; we are an independent nation and we have a perfect right to stand up and speak for the Australian people and to say what is in the best interests of the Australian people, irrespective of what the Americans think about the matter. This is what we need, but we have not had it since the days of Chifley when Dr. Evatt was able to stand up in the councils of the world and declare fearlessly and courageously the Australian point of view, irrespective of whether it ran counter to or was approved by the United States, the United Kingdom or any of the other great powers.
It is worthwhile remembering that the great Dr. Evatt, on behalf of Australia, voted against the veto in the United Nations when both the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were clamouring for it. It ill becomes America to criticise Russia for the use of the veto and it ill becomes Russia to criticise America for the use of the veto because both countries wanted it. Australia was one of the few nations, through the lone voice of Dr. Evatt on behalf of the Australian people, which spoke up and declared that the use of a veto could never be conducive to a really representative United Nations. We want more Dr. Evatts. We want a government that will stand up in the councils of the world and express an independent, proud Australian view. We do not get enough of that. But there are some people who are so servile to the Americans today that they take the view that if one says anything at all against American foreign policy he must be anti-American and to be anti-American means to be anti-Australian and unpatriotic. Nothing could be more absurd. Does United States Senator Mansfield worry about expressing views contrary to American foreign policy when he believes that policy is wrong? Of course he does not. Does United States Senator Fulbright hesitate to tell the State Department that he believes it is wrong? Of course, he does not: But does anybody say that Senator Mansfield or Senator Fulbright is anti-American, proCommunist or anti-democratic? Of course, they do not, because they cannot. It seems that American columnists like Joseph Alsop and Walter Lippmann can write articles condemning American policy, which they believe to be wrong, yet a member of the Australian National Parliament cannot say one word against any point of American policy without being declared to be proCommunist or anti-Australian or antiAmerican. The whole thing is revolting, disgusting and nauseating to anybody who has a speck of red blood in his veins.
I believe that it is about time that Australians remembered that they belong to a proud race of people, a nation that has a proud record in defending the rights of its people and other people. We ought not to be servile slaves to any other country. It is not the role that a proud Australian nation should be prepared to assume. This does not mean, of course, that we should not co-operate with the United States. The Australian Labour Party believes in cooperation with the United States particularly in the areas of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans because we believe that these areas are of crucial importance to our defence and to our welfare. Co-operation with the United States in these areas must be maintained, but subject at all time to the understanding, do not forget, that Australia must remain completely free to order the policies of the Australian Government and of the Australian people in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. No Australian government has a right to accept any association or alliance with America or any other country which contains within it elements that run counter to the Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Charter.
I believe the Americans were completely wrong in their intervention in Guatemala. They tried to fasten on to the people of Guatemala a military dictatorship which was being used for the benefit of the American Fruit Company. I believe that America was completely wrong in its attempt to subvert the Government of Singapore - an attempted subversion which the Americans first of all denied but which they were later on compelled to admit. I believe the Americans were completely wrong in supporting the rotten, dictatorial, fascist-like Government of Batista in Cuba. It was the rotten corrupt Government that Batista fastened upon the people of Cuba which led to his overthrow and to the advent of Castro. Therefore the people who should be blamed for the advent of Castro and all he stands for are the American forces who supported the military dictatorship of Batista. I believe that the Americans were wrong in what they did to try to subvert the Government of Cambodia. I believe the Americans are completely wrong in their intervention in the Dominican Republic.
– What about Vietnam?
– I will come to that in a minute. It is well for the people to know where the Australian Labour Party stands in relation to some of these matters. Let me read what the Party’s conference declared relative to the American intervention in the Dominican Republic. It was this -
Conference expresses its deep concern at United States intervention in the recent revolution in the Dominican Republic. To act contrary to the published aims of the Western Alliance by intervening to protect dictatorships against democratic movements exposes America and her allies to charges that they are guilty of the same kind of action as the Party-
That is, the Australian Labour Party - has properly condemned on the part of Russia in Hungary, and China in Tibet.
We condemned the intervention of Russia in Hungary. We were right in condemning it. We condemned the intervention of China in Tibet. The Labour Party was correct in its condemnation. Similarly, we have condemned the same kind of intervention by the Americans in the Dominican Republic.
I turn now to the position in South Vietnam. The present Government of South Vietnam is the backlash of years of French colonial rule. The Vietnamese people rose up against French colonialism. They threw off French colonialism only to find themselves dominated by another power, America.
– What about Diem?
– Diem was a puppet brought from America to take over control of South Vietnam, and his Government was so despotic and corrupt, so bad for the people, that the Americans themselves conspired with a military junta to overthrow the puppet they themselves had established in office a few years earlier. There was only one way to settle the problem in Vietnam. That was for both America and the rest of the world to accept the Geneva Accords which provided for the temporary partition of the country until such time as a plebescite of the whole of Vietnam could be held to determine by free election who should govern a re-united Vietnam. We know that the plebiscite was prevented by the Government of Diem with the backing of the Americans who did not want to see the plebiscite taken because they were afraid that the wrong side would win.
The war in Vietnam has developed into a dirty war. I choose the word used by President Johnson because that is the one way to be certain of not being called un-Australian. It is a dirty war. It sickens me. It saddens me to see pictures in the newspapers and on the television of these poor creatures in Vietnam from both sides, Vietcong and nonVietcong alike, being subjected to all kinds of tortures and atrocities. The war in Vietnam must sicken the heart of any decent Australian and everyone who claims to be a Christian. I should like to know how on earth it is possible for South Vietnamese troops to take pictures of Vietcong people e being disembowelled alive in an effort to get information from them. These pictures are being published in our newspapers. Therefore, we cannot say that these things are not going on on both sides.
We read also of how two Vietcong prisoners are taken up in a helicopter and how one is pushed out without a parachute to make the remaining one give information. These are things which we cannot tolerate. Nobody can say that any decent Christian, any self-respecting person who has any regard for human life and human decencies or for the. feelings of his fellow human beings, can sit back and take no notice of what is going on in Vietnam. It is such a filthy, dirty war- as President Johnson has properly described it - that it ought to be brought to an end as quickly as possible. No government has any right to sit back and not bend every possible effort to bring the war in Vietnam to an end.
We of the Australian Labour Party are completely opposed to the despatch of Australian troops to participate in this dirty war. We are opposed to the conscription of Australian troops for overseas service in times of peace. That declaration has not only been made by us in this Parliament but it has been endorsed by the highest authority in the Australian Labour Party - the Federal Conference of the Australian Labour Party.
– Does the honorable member say the Americans should leave Vietnam?
– I say that unless we are prepared to recognise common decency in the relationships between human beings, unless we are prepared to give to the people of Vietnam the same right as we demand for ourselves - the democratic right to elect their own government - we have no right to claim that we are either democrats or Christians. We are neither if we carry on in this fashion.
What we need in Vietnam is a broadly based government and such a government ought to be established as soon as possible. The Australian Labour Party demands immediate mediation in Vietnam by the United Nations for a permanent settlement that will place economic rehabilitation above fruitless war and establish a United Nations peace keeping force in Vietnam. Labour is all in favour of a peace keeping force in Vietnam. We believe that that is the role that the United Nations ought to be playing. We ought to get peace as soon as we can. We ought to get a cease fire as soon as we can. Foreign troops from all countries ought to be removed from Vietnam as speedily as possible and a peace keeping force ought to be established there in their place so that the people of this tragic, unhappy State, these people who have been made so miserable by the intervention of foreign powers, can sit down at the conference table in an honest endeavour to obtain a peaceful settlement.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I want to comment on three things related to the Department of External Affairs and the foreign policy of the Government. The first is the reply given by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to a question asked by the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Nicholls) this morning about Southern Rhodesia. I do not want to canvass the merits and demerits of the situation in Southern Rhodesia; but the Prime Minister revealed that he had shown to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) a cable on an international affairs issue so that the Leader of the Opposition could know what was going on.
If this means a restoration of what was one of the normal parliamentary decencies of the past, I am very grateful for it. A study of the minutes of the Labour Party shows that this was absolutely normal practice between Mr. Curtin and Mr. Lyons. When a crisis such as that over Abyssinia or that over Munich, or a situation such as the one that led up to the war arose, although Mr. Curtin did not disclose anything confidential to Caucus, he was able to give advice about policy decisions because he was informed. The custom has disappeared in this Parliament and our practice in this regard is so far behind other Parliaments in the British Commonwealth of Nations that if what was revealed this morning is indicative of the restoration of a sound practice I am sure we will welcome it.
The second matter to which I wish to refer is the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) that if Indo.nesia ceases confrontation Australia will give economic aid to Indonesia. I am not sure that we are not giving economic aid to Indonesia at the present time, in view of the fact that we are erecting in Indonesia radio direction finding air stations. I think that that statement was a diplomatic gaffe, and if it shows the way that the Department of External Affairs is thinking I think it is quite tragic. I believe that economic aid achieves much in the world, depending on the motive from which it is given, and provided the motivation gets across to the recipient. The Marshall Plan was a successful exercise of economic aid, basically because it began with the determination of Marshall and Eisenhower, when the Americans were reoccupying France, if necessary to set aside certain of the ships that might have taken supplies for the war to take supplies to salvage from tuberculosis and from death French children and French adolescents. I found in certain circles in France that were most anti-American that they nevertheless tremendously appreciated the beginnings of that aid, because they felt it was motivated by a genuine desire for the survival of the French people. That sentiment of the heart going over with the aid set what later became known as the Marshall Plan off on an entirely different footing from what has often been regarded as a kind of anti-Communist prop- a hope that if a monetary grant is made to a country, its policy can be bought.
The Minister says that if Indonesia ceases confrontation we will increase our financial aid to Indonesia. Precedents for this are very depressing. The United States gave Indonesia 1,000 million dollars and from it she got a burnt American embassy, a burnt American Information Service library, the confiscation of American estates and a policy that was generally hostile to the United States. The Soviet Union also gave Indonesia 1,000 million dollars and out of that it got a Peking orientation of policy until the recent coup d’etat in Indonesia, so its financial policy towards Indonesia was a failure. Sukarno and a good many others in Indonesia, although they used this aid, gave almost a counter-insult by suggesting it was an attempt to buy Indonesia’s policy. Then Communist China, out of its relatively scanty dollars, gave Indonesia 10 million dollars worth of aid for the second Bandung Conference, and it was spent, much to the annoyance of China, on limousines and bunting to receive the delegates. I was going to say that China at least did not draw a blank, but I am not sure that she did not, because at present there does not seem to be such a Peking orientation in Indonesian policy.
If we think that we. can divert Indonesia policy by monetary grants we are making a very grave mistake. If there is some genuine concern about the Indonesian people, and that is genuinely our motive and it can be got across, then I think we may secure good relationships in association with economic aid. However, I think we underestimate the genuineness of ways of thinking that I think are very wrong but which are passionate convictions in those areas. When they talk of neo-colonialism and so on, this seems very mistaken from our point of view. We have never really been on the receiving end of colonialism. I am not entirely sure whether any race has ever ruled another race justly. We need only look at the situation of our Aborigines, for instance, and the way we make decisions without consulting them, whether at Yirrkala, Gove or elsewhere. Where this has been done to other nations they absolutely hate it, and the countries at the giving end of colonialism have never appreciated how the people on the receiving end feel.
I think confrontation is utterly irrational. I think it was a product of the Indonesian Communist Party. I think the policy of the Indonesian Communist Party in working for confrontation was because there was a highly dangerous development from the point of view of Communism in South East Asia. Tunku Abdul Rahman and others and, at one stage Sukarno, believed in Maphilindo. If the Philippines, Malaya and Indonesia formed a federation which would have the chance of being prosperous and also outside the field of Chinese Communist influence it was, from the point of view of the Indonesian Communist Party, dangerous. What happened was exactly the same as the way Russia promptly slammed down on Tito and the leaders of the Communists in Bulgaria and Rumania. A veto was applied the moment they attempted to form a federation among themselves. At that stage Stalin did not desire a large federation outside of Russia, even if it were Communist, because it was much better for his control that these countries should stay separate.
The Maphilindo ideal seems to have disappeared for a long while. Confrontation does not make sense if ultimately both Malaysia and Indonesia are to be in a federation, but nevertheless it makes psychological sense in that it appeared to be a great anti-colonial gesture because Indonesia was not consulted over the formation of Malaysia. 1 do not think for one moment that an offer of economic aid conditional upon Indonesia ceasing confrontation will cause any change in Indonesia’s confrontation policy. If there, is a change in the confrontation policy it will be because there is a restoration of the objective of Maphilindo which may come with the rise to power of other elements in Indonesia.
My third comment relates to the reply the Minister gave to a Country Party member who asked him whether the Commonwealth Government intended to comply with the request of India for buffer stocks of wheat. He said that it did not. I do not want to be a bote on this question of aid to India - and by India I mean the whole Indian subcontinent, which includes Pakistan - but I do think that it ought to be the objective of this country to restore the idea that was being put forward in the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations for the establishment in countries liable to famine of what is called the ever-normal granary, which India today calls buffer stocks. This is only the policy that Joseph adopted in Egypt, except that he had seven years’ reserves. That is beyond possibility now, J think. A one-year reserve of grain established in the Indian sub-continent by the grain surplus countries would be a sensible policy. India could disintegrate for many reasons, but Lieutenant-General James M. Gavin of the United States Air Force made a very intelligent statement when he said that the form of warfare we are facing in Asia is the slow and almost imperceptible transition of a bad economic, social and political condition into chaos. This could well happen in the Indian sub-continent. I believe that we ought to be prepared to make sacrifices in establishing grain reserves there. I do not suggest we should do it alone, but with others. I believe that we have the technical knowledge and the technical skill that could establish in India and in Pakistan factories for the production of fertilisers. Today, Japan, using fertilisers, gets 35 cwt. of rice to the acre. India, without them, gets 81 cwt. of rice to the acre. It is perfectly possible for the Indian level to come up to the Japanese level by the use of fertilisers supplied with Australian assistance. A factory established at a com of 10 million dollars could produce the 40 million dollars worth of fertilisers that India imports. She probably needs 200 million dollars worth of fertiliser but has not the exchange necessary to import it. The construction of factories to produce this amount would cost only 50 million dollars. About £25 million of this sum we could contribute jointly with some other country. Then the Indian and Pakistan countrysides would have the fertilisers that they need.
I think that this would lead to a great advance in food production. The Minister’s answer was a policy of despair. He said that it was no use doing anything because the Indian population would merely increase and eat up all the surplus. This has not been true of Japan. The Japanese birthrate has halved. The postponement of the age of marriage from 11 years, as it often was, to 20 years has helped. This is a social transformation that could occur anywhere. It has happened in other countries and it could lead to a drastic reduction in the birthrate. But if the answer of the West, with our technical advantages and superiority, is to say: “ Go and die. We are not going to enter into a policy of building up your grain reserves because you have too many children. It is no use giving you anything”, I do not see any reason at all why anybody should support us or worry about us. 1 think we have great technical advantages which we can use to create conditions of sanity throughout Asia. One of the tragic things about this starvation map, as one sees it, is that it covers the tropical areas. Overwhelmingly, agricultural research has been in the temperate zones. Australia is one of the exceptions to this. The research done in Queensland has a very important bearing all over the world. What is needed in many of these countries is the same kind of massive attack on research problems of tropical agriculture as has been made with temperate agriculture. I believe that Australia could take the initiative in this work. I do not believe that the nerveless reply of the Minister for External Affairs was his final thinking. I certainly hope it is not. He is likely to be the Minister for External Affairs at least all next year. It is quite important that we should take the initiative to try to so’.ve the food problem of the Indian sub-continent and not be overwhelmed by the thought that there are population problems in that area. Those trends can be reversed in Asian countries as they have been in countries such as Japan.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman-
– You called me, Mr. Temporary Chairman.
– Order! I called the honorable member for Wannon.
– The honorable member for Fremantle-
– I rise to order, Mr. Temporary Chairman. You called the honorable member for Hunter.
Order! I corrected myself. Under the Standing Orders, I can decide who has the call.
– The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), as he normally does, has made a thoughtful and constructive speech. We know that it is not the first time that he has devoted his attention to this severe and difficult problem of food supplies in the vast subcontinent of India. I am sure that honorable members on this side of the chamber and on his own side wish that more could be done and was being done about this particular matter. But when a speech such as that of the honorable member for Fremantle is compared with the remarks of the honorable members for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) or Oxley (Mr. Hayden) it shows, I think, the great divergence of view among members of the Opposition. I sometimes wonder how members such as the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson), the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart), even the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds), the honorable member for Fremantle, whom I have already mentioned, and the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Harding) can sit in silence and listen to some of the things which their colleagues say repeatedly inside and outside this chamber.
My only reason for speaking tonight is that if it is true that a lie repeated will be believed, it should be equally true that the truth repeated will be recognised and accepted. Arguments put forward by the honorable members for Yarra, Oxley and others who think in the same way should be answered, I believe, wherever they are voiced. I want to say at the outset that Australia’s own independent sources of information in relation to the difficult problems in South East Asia, and South Vietnam in particular, are quite considerable. We have had not only our own diplomatic resources and intelligence information and the exchanges of information with other countries with whom we are allied, but we have had, in particular, the extremely valuable knowledge and information received from a hundred military advisers who have been in all parts of South Vietnam giving great assistance to the local communities, in many fields and in many directions. These people have been able to send very direct knowledge and their own direct views about what is happening. This knowledge, and advice has been accepted by the Government. The analysis of what has happened in this area, as we understand it, is accepted by the British Labour Government, by all parties in the Canadian Houses of Parliament and, I believe, by the people in Thailand and Malaysia. It is certainly accepted in New Zealand and in the United States of America. But when the honorable member for Yarra puts his views forward and uses his very carefully selected quotations he ignores a vast area of knowledge in this particular field. He has done it so consistently and over such a period of time that one can only be forced to the conclusion that he has done it deliberately. But what he has said, and what members such as he have said, in relation to South Vietnam, indicates a consistent trend in Labour Party policy in these matters which goes completely against the facts of the situation and completely against the course of history.
We only have to consider the attitude of the Labour Party to Malaya when that country was facing her own internal Com- munist problems in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. There is an example to be found in “ Hansard “ in the words of the honorable member for Hindmarsh. He said -
It is about time that we stopped talking all this balderdash about the great British justice that is exercised in Malaya, in Malaya today there is a form of tyranny that is almost indistinguishable from that of a Communist dictatorship.
This was a description of a democratic ally - a member of the Commonwealth which is a shining light in South East Asia compared with other countries in that region. At conference after conference we saw the Australian Labour Party passing resolutions calling for the withdrawal of our troops from this particular area.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member for Lalor is at least consistent because he is on record as having said that we do not need any defence forces in Australia unless we are to supply them to the United Nations. His own words were -
All we need to have at our disposal is something in the nature of a police force to meet that form of attack pending the arrival of assistance from the United Nations.
But what did the United Nations do to help Malaysia when under attack from Indonesia? What could it do to help South Vietnam when under attack from North Vietnam and Communist China? Of course it could do nothing. Sometimes it seems difficult to describe accurately the attitudes and allegiances of one or two members of the Opposition without transgressing the limits and privileges of parliamentary language. But the honorable member for Yarra has almost described himself in his own writings when, in a document which has been cited before in this Parliament but which is worth recalling to the notice of honorable members, he said -
We are situated in the political spectrum next to the communists and they will stand for many things for which we also stand. We cannot therefore oppose those things. Because of our position in the political spectrum we will find ourselves in the same places as communists on some occasions, doing the same things for the same ends.
Some considerable time after that document was published, the independent Labour journal published in Melbourne, “Spotlight”, had something to say in its issue of 15th September 1965 about the nature of the honorable member for Yarra and the policies that he pursues. It said this:
Cairns vehemently argues that there is no aggression from the North. The Communist propagandists argue exactly the same way.
Cairns claims that the war in Vietnam is a civil war. The Communist parties share the same feeling.
Cairns calls for the removal of all troops from Vietnam, including the Americans. The Communist parties and their stooges have pursued the same argument.
Cairns opposed the Government’s decision to send troops to Vietnam to help the courageous South Vietnamese live in peace and freedom. The Communists likewise opposed the decision.
Cairns does not support the argument that Communist China is intent on engulfing all of South East Asia (the downward thrust thesis). The Communist propagandists go out of their way to berate anyone who suggests this to be true.
Cairns believes that Australia need not fear any downward thrust from Communist China. The Communist story in this connection is exactly the same as that advanced by the great man.
The story could be continued because this is not by any means the limit of the similarity between policies. This afternoon the honorable member for Yarra said that the war in South Vietnam was not in the interests of the people of Vietnam, North or South, and he has said on other occasions that if there was an American withdrawal he believes that most, if not’ all, of South Vietnam would go Communist. Is this what he wants when he suggests that we and the Americans and others should withdraw? Does he not realise that North and South Vietnam are two countries as much as East and West Germany are two countries, that they are two countries is much as North and South Korea are two countries, that an attack from one is an aggression against the other and that there is no civil war? He cannot name any influential power group, whether it be a religious group, a military group or a political group in South Vietnam that wants the war to end. The Buddhists, who certainly have their difficulties in South Vietnam, have been vehement and outspoken in wanting the war to be prosecuted against the Communists. In a communique issued in April 1965 the Buddhists said that the danger to Buddhism was the danger of Communist dictatorship. The communique went on - la rural areas, the communists have occupied pagodas, confiscated lands, forbidden religious activities, forced Buddhist priests to enter the
Army, indulged in savage damage demonstrations and arrested and killed loyal Buddhist faithful of the Buddhist Association.
The Buddhist Association sincerely praises the noble sacrifices of Buddhist priests and faithful in the defence of faith and religion and praise at the same time for the liberation of the nation and the religion from control and subversion by the communists.
This, I suggest, is typical of the attitude of the groups that have some influence in South Vietnam. But this is the kind of evidence that the honorable member for Yarra ignores and as he has ignored it for go long that I can only suggest that he does so wilfully and deliberately. He again wilfully, and I believe deliberately, ignores the analysis made by the British Foreign Secretary, Mr. Michael Stewart, which quite brilliantly describes the nature and origins of the war and what is happening in this area. This afternoon the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) said that the United States was morally reprehensible for not pursuing negotiations more vigorously. He uttered not a word of condemnation of North Vietnam nor of Communist China, the two countries that have consistently and over a period of probably nearly a year now but certainly several months made it quite impossible for any negotiations to begin.
The honorable member ignores the fact that President Johnson made an offer of unconditional discussions. He ignores the fact that U Thant tried to go to North Vietnam and Peking but was not allowed to go by the rulers of those countries. He ignores the fact that there was an appeal by 17 non-aligned countries, and that there were appeals by Prime Minister Shastri of India and President Tito of Yugoslavia, and that President Tito, who has never been a particular ally of the West, was called, for his pains, the stooge of American imperialism. The honorable member for Yarra ignores this course of events and blames the friends and allies and the United States. Does he do this for the same reason that led him to write the article in “ Dissent “? Was it for the same reason that he said that Australia’s defensive line and America’s defensive line in the Western Pacific should be a line running from Kamchatka to Darwin? Had the honorable member looked at a map before he made this statement of policy for the Australian Labour Party? I remind the Committee that a line from
Kamchatka to Darwin, with everything west of it being given to the Chinese, places not only the whole of South East Asia and Malaysia but also the Philippines in Chinese hands. Was this a deliberate statement of policy or again a statement made completely in ignorance?
The honorable member again almost described himself in a statement he made which was recorded in “ Hansard “ of 23rd March 1965. He quoted the following remarks of the Minister for External Affairs -
There is a campaign in Australia at the present time among a section of our population that might be summed up in the words “Yankee go home “.
The honorable member for Yarra then said -
What section of the population was the Minister describing? Presumably he meant the Communist Party because, as far as I know, that would be the only section in Australia which thinks that way.
But what has the honorable member for Yarra been doing every week and every month, in this Parliament and outside it, on every forum that he can reach? He has been saying “ Yankee go home “. Does this mean that the honorable member for Yarra is completely condemned by his own words and his own recorded statements?
The honorable member is completely at odds with his own Leader in this matter. In May 1965 the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) was recorded in “ Hansard “ as admitting that there has long been and still is aggression from the North and subversion inspired from the North. In this same speech he also said’ -
T agree that the pace of North Vietnam aggression - and that is the only term for it - has increased.
He said in the same speech that the downward thrust of China must be stopped and he implied that only the United States could do this. In the statement issued in February this year by the Australian Labour Party Federal Executive these statements appeared -
The demand of the Soviet Government for the immediate departure of all American and other foreign forces from South Vietnam would be in the interests neither of the people of South Vietnam nor the people of Australia. Its immediate consequence must be a communist takeover of South Vietnam snuffing out the hope of freedom and of democratic independence in that country and extending the area of communist control closer to this country. The presence of those forces is necessary and justified.
The honorable member for Yarra clearly does not support these statements, and if he now represents the Opposition one thing should be made quite clear. Are the members of the Opposition saying that Americans should withdraw and that we should also withdraw from this area, or are they saying that it is all right for Americans to be there and that we should hide behind the Americans? I ask this question because the statement by the Federal Executive recognises the importance of this conflict not only for the people of South Vietnam but also for the security of Australia.
There is, I believe, only one answer of the honorable member for Yarra to the philosophy and thrust and aggression of communism, and that may perhaps be described as an answer that would accept communism.
Mr. Clyde Cameron. - I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr. Temporary Chairman, because I claim to have been misrepresented. A moment ago the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) claimed that I had made a statement in which I criticised Malaysia and described the situation there as being equal to the worst form of tyranny in the area. This was a misrepresentation. The statement referred to was made many years before Malaysia was formed, and in any case the honorable member did not state in full what I had said. I went on to point out on that occasion a few other facts, and if the honorable member had been fair enough and decent enough he should, if he wanted to quote me at all, have quoted me in full. I went on to direct attention to the fact that in Malaya at that time - if it is not true today at any rate it was true then, and that is the time I was talking about - arrest without warrant was the order of the day and was permitted by law, and trade unions were subject to savage suppression and workers to repressive laws. Honorable members opposite are interjecting. I have been misrepresented, and unless what I said is quoted in full, what was said about it by the honorable member amounts to gross misrepresentation. I said that wages and working conditions were arbitrarily fixed by employers. I went on to say in that speech that the right to vote in Malaya at that time was confined to a small minority representing the very wealthy ruling class and that the ordinary people in Malaya had no right to vote at all. If that is not tyranny, I do not know what is.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I have been misrepresented. I did not misrepresent the honorable member for Hindmarsh. I referred to his remarks in relation to Malaya. As he knows, Malaya was in existence long before Malaysia was formed. Our commitment to help Malaya against Communist activities was a very real one at a time of crisis for Malaya. That was the occasion on which the honorable member made his remarks, and it was the occasion I was describing.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask you. Sir, whether it is permissible, when a person has risen in his place to make a personal explanation on the ground that he had been misrepresented, for the person whom he alleges to have misrepresented him to make a further misrepresentation by continuing to quote something to support his misrepresentation?
– Order! There is no substance in that point of order.
.- I am inspired to speak in this debate by the very forthright, frank and sincere speech made a short time ago by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) on the subject matter before the House, which is one of the most important matters that has been discussed in this Parliament for some time. It is a matter of life or death to Australian servicemen and a matter of whether the war in South Vietnam will be escalated into a full scale thermonuclear war and destroy the fabric of the world and the world’s people. I believe that Government supporters are not fully cognisant of the seriousness of the international situation, particularly in South Vietnam. It is true, as the honorable member for Hindmarsh said tonight, that to express either inside or outside this Parliament, a view adverse to the Government, is to be immediately tarnished by members of the Government and their cohorts with accusations of being a Communist or a fellow traveller; but never will
I succumb to a temptation to refrain from telling the truth through fear of being tarnished as a Communist or a fellow traveller because of something I want to say in the interests of the Australian people.
The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) spoke in this debate a short time ago. During his speech he made about eight adverse references to the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). I want to tell the honorable member for Wannon that there are, in effect, many honorable members for Yarra on this side of the Parliament. Their views are identical with those of the honorable member for Yarra. I understand that the honorable member for Wannon is a grazier who takes great pride in selling his product to Communist China in order to clothe the Chinese Communist troops who, the honorable member for Wannon and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) are constantly telling the people of this country in statements made inside and outside of the Parliament, if not stopped in Vietnam - our boys’ enemies, the communists - will eventually have to be stopped on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. If my recollection serves me correctly, those were the words used by the honorable member for Moreton one night in this Parliament when I spoke on this subject. It is the most complete and utter rot, Mr. Chairman, that I have ever heard, but unfortunately it is filtering through to our 20-year old boys in South Vietnam who believe that they are there to protect the shores of their own country. As a result of the poisonous propaganda of political plutocrats on the other side of the Parliament, aided by the powerful propaganda of the Press, radio and television, the boys in Vietnam honestly and sincerely think that they are protecting their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers from invasion of Australia. They sincerely believe this as a result of the propaganda being poured out by honorable members such as the honorable member for Moreton. Members on this side of the Parliament have not been, and never will be, prepared to sacrifice truth in order to gain the Government benches. We will never sacrifice truth for expediency.
The overwhelming majority of the people of the world know that the Vietnam war is a civil war, that it is a dirty, filthy war that will go down in the history books which the children of today will read in ten or fifteen years’ time and regret the type of government that was able to get away with what is going on now. We have heard bitter criticism of the People’s Republic of China. We on this side of the Committee do not agree with the political ideology of that country, but I have never heard one honorable member on the Government side tell us that before the present government came into power in China the average life span in China was 25 to 27 years. They have never told us that women virtually had to sell their babies on the street by the pound soon after birth. These things have never flowed from the mouths of Government supporters, but the information is in the Library, and well they know it. It is in the Library in Felix Greene’s book “The War has Two Sides “. It is also in Edgar Snow’s book “ The Other Side of the River “. These English writers pointed out that if the people of China had elections similar to ours in Australia, not one in ten Chinese would vote for a change in government. I do not want to propound the cause of Communism, but I want to put the record straight. I want the people of Australia to realise that there is another side to the debauchery, another side to the case that the men on the Government side propound.
I think it is Felix Greene’s book that gives a verbatim interview the author had with Chou En-lai. Felix Greene said to Chou En-lai: “ Is it true that you are arming your country as fast as you can? “ Mr. Chou En-lai said: “Yes, it is.” Felix Greene said: “ Don’t you realise that you have great economic problems such as lack of schools and hospitals and the wherewithal to lift the standards of your people which are needed before armaments? “ Mr. Chou En-lai said: “ Yes, we realise that, but we are virtually surrounded by United States nuclear bases.” He went on to say that the United States had nuclear bases in Taiwan, Okinawa, Japan and in the offshore islands of Matsu and Quemoy. Look at the clown over there. The honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) reminds me of a tick-tacker on a racecourse.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN__
Order! The Committee will come to order. The honorable member for Hunter will address the Chair.
– Felix Greene was told that the United States had nuclear bases on the offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu and on Taiwan. He was further told that the United States had nuclear bases in the Philippines and in Thailand. I challenge any honorable member opposite to refute these allegations, which were made in 1962. Many political students honestly believe that the United States Government - not the United States people - hopes that it can provoke the Chinese to such an extent that an invasion of mainland China seems justified.
I sometimes think how true it is that trade is the forerunner of all war. The July 8th edition of the “ Far Eastern Economic Review “, published in Hong Kong, pointed out that 50 per cent, of all imports into South Korea come from our friend and ally, the United States; that 41 per cent, of all imports into South Vietnam come from the United States; that 40 per cent, of all imports into the Philippines come from the United States; and that a large percentage of imports into Thailand comes from the United States. But in open, free Hong Kong, where there are no tariff barriers and preferential treatment, only 11 per cent, of imports come from the United States I do not care what percentage of a country’s imports came from the United States but if the blood of the cream of Australian youth has to be spilled in the streets of Ben Cat and Saigon to preserve these markets, then the Australian community should know about these shocking things so that it may discharge its public duty in the proper manner at the ballot box at the next Federal elections.
– Where did the Timor pony kick the honorable member?
– If it had kicked the honorable member for Moreton where it kicked me the honorable member would be more insane than he is. If he had to take an intelligence test to get into this Parliament he would not be here. The estimated population of the world is 2,000 million. It is increasing by 60 million a year. In 38 years the world’-s population will double. This is a world of comparative darkness in terms of communications. In 1962 I had the fortune to visit Latin America. The causes of Communism are well known to every member of
Parliament. The major cause of Communism in Cuba was ruthless capitalism. About H per cent, of the population held 40 per cent, of the richest land in Cuba. The farmers were contributing 30 per cent, of the gross profits of the land owners. Rents and telephone charges were among the highest in the world. In a population of 6i million, about 650,000 people were permanently unemployed. When 150,000 Australians were unemployed due to the credit squeeze, this Tory Government was almost dislodged from office, but in Cuba, due to the corrupt elections held by the the Fascist dictator Batista, referred to by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), it was impossible for the people to change the Government. The people were convinced that they could change the situation in Cuba by only one means - bloody revolution.
While in Brazil I ascertained with a degree of certainty that 65 per cent, of the population is illiterate. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Bridges-Maxwell) is laughing like a hyena. He is what is known as a oncer. He will not be here after the next elections. He should conduct himself in this place with the manly air that he assumes when in his electorate, because I am quite prepared to blow the gaff on him.
We know that in Brazil and other parts of Latin America the trade union movement has never been strong. True Australians should be forever grateful for what the trade union movement has achieved for the people of Australia in the maintenance of a reasonable standard of living. Where the trade union movement is of little consequence in Latin America the average worker gets £5 a month, if he is fortunate enough to have work. Latin America is on the verge of revolution. I hope that it does not occur. The late President Kennedy said that the people of Latin America desire and urgently need some of the privileges that the people of North America have enjoyed for many years. We should see that they get them.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of Housing.
Proposed expenditure, £1,988,000.
.- I would like to congratulate the officers of the Department of Housing who have been responsible for the booklet dealing with the homes savings grant scheme. The booklet presents in plain language details of the scheme. I would like to express to the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) my appreciation of the way he has dealt with innumerable queries raised by me and by other members of the Opposition regarding the scheme. The scheme has not been easy to understand. The difficulties associated with processing applications for grants under the scheme are best illustrated by the fact that as at 30th June 1965 about 20 per cent, of applications still had not been processed. The difficulties associated with the setting up of a new department became apparent notwithstanding that the Minister had the benefit of the experience of officers of the War Service Homes Division. I cannot speak too highly of the co-operation I have received in Queensland from Mr. Sayer, who is the Director of Housing in Queensland. He was formerly the Director of the War Service Homes Division in Queensland. Officers of the Department have experienced difficulties in processing applications for a grant. I understand that many applications have been referred back for further information. The applicants are never sure of how much information they must tender with their applications, although quite an amount of literature is available to them. Ordinary people seem to have some difficulty in understanding the literature and do not know what is required of them when they lodge their application. I think this is the reason why 8,095 out of 35,283 applications were outstanding at 30th June 1965.
Although the scheme did not commence to operate until just over 12 months ago, applications have really been building up for almost two years. The total amount paid by the Government is only £5,674,611. This seems to suggest that the Government could have been a little more lenient and could have extended this scheme to those people whom the Opposition sought to have included - that is, widows and widowers, who are now excluded. In many instances, these people are more in need of assistance than married couples are. This is especially so with a widow who, possibly only through the payment of compensation for the loss of the breadwinner of the family, may have been able to raise money for the purchase of the first home in her life.
The next point I raise is regarded with concern by the Australian Labour Party. Later we will move an amendment as a mark of our concern. I am referring now to the need for additional finance to be made available for housing. The Commonwealth allocation to the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement this year is £350,000 less than the amount allocated last year. This amount would have provided at least 150 homes. The allocation will be further reduced, because the money, I understand, is not for civilian homes alone. Homes for the Defence Forces will also come out of this allocation.
– No, 5 per cent, of it. That is matched by the Commonwealth.
– Out of the allocation, £280,000 will be used for the Navy, £2,253,000 for the Army and £942,000 for the Air Force. I am not saying that Defence personnel should be denied homes. They also have families and need homes in the areas to which they are posted. One field that has been neglected is home building in rural areas. Low interest money is not made available for the construction of homes in rural areas. This matter was dealt with in a question asked in the Senate. The Minister representing the Minister for Housing (Senator Paltridge) said -
As all houses built by State housing authorities from money advanced by the Commonwealth under the agreements may only be erected on land owned by them, these authorities do not build any dwellings on privately owned farms.
It seems strange to me that a Government which includes members of the Australian Country Party, who should interest themselves in the affairs of people on the land, has never required that some of this long term low interest money be made available to people who want to build homes on farms. A farm is separate from the residence, although in some instances they are tied up together. If an ex-serviceman or a young lad acquires a piece of land and wants to build a home on it, he has to go to a trading bank or to some other lending authority and borrow money at a higher rate of interest and over a shorter term. The Australian Labour Party had this aspect in mind when it framed the policy adopted at its last conference. It agreed that it will, as a government, provide special aid for housing in rural and decentralised areas by indemnifying lending authorities against loss.
A very important matter is the association between housing and immigration. This was mentioned in a report from Queensland’s Agent-General, Dr. Summerville, which was tabled in the Queensland Parliament on 12th September last. A newspaper contained this item -
The importance of housing to Queensland’s migration programme could not be overstressed Queensland’s Agent-General (Dr. W. A. T. Summerville) said in his annual report tabled in Parliament yesterday.
He was commenting on the increase in the number of migrants from Britain to Queensland in the year to June 30.
Dr. Summerville said that the type of stable, responsible citizen offering for migration and who would make the best contribution to the State’s resources after his arrival looked for some assurance that a home could be obtained under reasonable conditions in his new country.
He said that over-population and housing difficulties were frequently mentioned as reasons for contemplating migration.
I know that some work has been done by the various building societies. Here I add a word of praise to another public authority set up by the Queensland Labour Government. Over the years, this authority has kept the premiums on insurance down in Queensland. A compliment is paid to the State Government Insurance Office in the “ Newsletter “ of the Federation of Housing and Building Societies of Queensland. The “Newsletter” states-
Up to the 13th January, 1965, that office has provided a total” of £2,552,000 for the financing of 47 Co-operative Housing Societies of which no less than £902,000 has been made available during this financial year. This makes the S.G.I.O. -second only to the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia as the greatest institutional lender to societies in this State.
The State Housing Commission has concentrated on the construction of homes for sale rather than the construction of homes for rental. The Commonwealth has sought to keep out of this and not to encourage the building of homes for rental. One of the first things a migrant looks for is a home to rent. Before he purchases a home or decides where he will reside permanently, he looks for a home to rent. The fact that the State Housing Commission is selling homes as fast as they can be built and making fewer homes available for rental is brought out in a report in yesterday’s “ Courier-Mail “. It reported that, according to the annual report of the Housing Commissioner, which was presented to Parliament, of the 1,744 house units completed in 1964-65, 1,039 were for home ownership and 184 houses erected in previous years also were bought.
To prove that people who want homes for rental at a reasonable rate approach the Housing Commission, I refer to figures provided by the Minister for Housing to the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson). The Minister indicated clearly the number of applications for homes received by the State housing authorities in each year from 1945-46 to 1963-64. In every State without exception the majority of applications was for rental homes. In Queensland even today there are 3,696 outstanding applications for rental homes. This is a slight drop compared to the previous year, but the demand is still mainly for homes for rental. There is a falling off in the availability of finance, and this is of concern to the Australian Labour Party and to those people whom it represents. It is of concern also to those people who are engaged on building programmes. Not so long ago, the Queensland representative of L. J. Hooker Ltd. mentioned this, and the Minister also mentioned it. We look to him to do something in the very near future about this falling off in the availability of finance, which, I believe, to some extent is related to the level of deposits in the savings banks.
As I have said, this falling off in the availability of finance is of concern not only to the Labour Party but also to those who are associated with the building industry. This industry experiences either feast or famine. It is one of the first hit in times of depression or recession. Because of this, there is instability in the industry and this tends to cause prices to boom in times of flush. At other times there is a decline in the number of lads available for apprenticeship in the various trades associated with home building. So we look to the Government to do something about the matter. We have previously moved for an inquiry into housing to see whether stability can be achieved in the building industry.
We are indebted to the Housing Industry Research Committee, which operates mainly in Victoria and which seems to be one of the few associations that concern themselves with home building generally. The Committee, in its “ Newsletter “ for March last, stated that in the December “ Newsletter “ it had issued a warning that housing finance from savings banks was below the expected figure and that this would be watched. The July issue stated -
In the past six months there has been a marked change in the housing market that is causing wide concern to some sections of the industry.
It mentioned the number of flats being constructed. The September issue of the “ Newsletter” contained this statement -
In the June quarter the savings banks throughout Australia approved loans to the value of £35.2 million for new and existing housing. This was £5.6 million less than the previous quarter and is the fourth successive fall in loans approved.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, a few weeks ago the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury), in the Budget debate, sympathised with what he described as my pathetic plight in dealing with such complex matters as the Government’s homes savings grants legislation and then quickly tried to assure the Parliament that the scheme was the last word in perfection. His self assurance and confidence in his administration of the Department of Housing prompts me to join issue with him tonight during the consideration of the estimates for that Department. I welcome his taunting statement that Labour’s leading speakers were unable to drag up anything controversial in the Budget debate. I assure him that his contribution to housing is far from being satisfactory. His handling of the homes savings grants legislation is no better than could be expected of a child. His booklet entitled “ A Grant for your Home” is a classic example of confusion.
Perhaps it was deliberately designed for that purpose. Proof of what I say can be found in almost every speech or statement the Minister makes. A few weeks ago he illustrated his lack of sympathy for low wage home seekers when, in answer to a question that I had asked concerning anomalies in the administration of the Homes Savings Grant Act. he said -
The honorable member must appreciate that this scheme is a reward for saving; it is not a Socialist boondoggle available to both the worthy and the thriftless alike.
Perhaps the Minister will tell us what a Socialist boondoggle is. I could not find any definition of “ boondoggle “ in either Webster’s Dictionary or the Oxford Dictionary. Does it mean the giving something for nothing? If it does, the Minister will take good care to see that workers and their wives and families do not get something for nothing.
– That is not fair.
– It is true. The homes savings grant legislation as it stands will take care of that, at any rate. The Minister is a past master in the art of mouthing pious, meaningless platitudes. A lot of people are now waking up to this. For instance, on 5th May last year, in his second reading speech on the Homes Savings Grant Bill 1964, the Minister said -
Housing is vital to the welfare and happiness of individuals . . . Without proper housing, the process of marriage and family formation . . must be seriously impaired. The Government seeks … to foster a healthy property owning democracy of sturdy . . . individuals and regards home ownership as a basic ingredient. It is a linchpin of family life.
Towards the end of his speech, he said -
However, as honorable members will understand, it will be impracticable to determine the amount of acceptable savings and of the grant payable to an eligible person in advance of entry into a contract to buy or build the home or the commencement of its construction.
. it is my intention that the scheme should be administered as sympathetically as the Bill permits … the Bill . . . has been drafted to give substantial discretionary powers to the Secretary of my Department and his delegates in administering the scheme.
The Minister must have known that he spoke with his tongue in his cheek, because already printed in the Bill that he had just presented in this chamber were clauses that shut the door to hundreds of prospective applicants for grants. These clauses related to eligibility, acceptable savings, the signing of contracts, the end of the savings period and the three year minimum savings period. All these provisions have prevented dozens of young people from obtaining grants.
As I see the situation, the Minister, having now entrenched himself in the Housing portfolio, is not even considering the housing of the millions of wage earners who earn less than £20 a week, Apparently those people represent the thriftless members of the nation in his eyes. It would seem that rearing families, educating them, maintaining their health, clothing them and providing them with sufficient food in an era of high costs only amount to being thriftless. Today I received a letter from a constituent who has been refused a grant on technical grounds. The letter, which is dated 18th October, reads -
I wish to lodge a protest against a recent decision of the Commonwealth Department of Housing concerning the granting of a housing subsidy to mc. . . in August or September of 1964 I commenced construction of a home as an ownerbuilder and have completed building operations with the exception of external painting.
At the commencement of building operations I had no intention of applying for a subsidy as my agc excluded me, and my wife, who is eligible, had approximately £100 in a savings account.
After reading in the Press of the Government’s desire to assist couples to obtain a home, I reconsidered this decision and partially completed an application, but not having any legal knowledge, which appears to be essential to comprehend the contents of the booklet issued by the Minister for Housing, I sought assistance from the local bank manager. He informed me that eligibility requirements had been changed to the extent that he could not assist me except by suggesting I contact the Department of Housing.
I subsequently followed his advice only to be informed that I was not eligible as I had stated I poured the footings in August 1964 and my letter was dated 9th September 196S.
I protested to the Department, stating the reason for my delayed application, but received a similar reply.
I feel that this decision is unjust as I am to be penalised because there were inadequate information facilities available to me, a fact which was substantiated by a visit of a departmental officer to Newcastle on the 13th and 14th October to lecture to bank and building society officers and be available for interviews.
I have some justification for a certain amount of pride in my efforts to provide a home for my family but this could not have been accomplished without the invaluable assistance of my wife and children and it is principally because of their sacrifices that I must strongly protest against this unjust decision.
One simple amendment to the existing legislation could have helped this man and hundreds of others. Instead of a savings period ending on the date that a contract has been signed, it should end when a dwelling has been completed and made ready for occupancy when the grant would be paid. Scores and scores of people sign contracts but pay only a nominal deposit. As the Act stands, if their savings have not at that date been transferred to accounts acceptable to the Department, any claim that they make is not recognised.
The estimates for the Department of Housing show that there has been a rapid increase of the expenditure of the Department since the Ministry of Housing was created by the Government a little more than 20 months ago. In the light of the service that the Department is rendering, only time will tell whether or not the expenditure by the Department is justified, but up to the moment, so far as I can see, the increased expenditure has not been warranted. In my view housing grants should be uniform to all young folk who are procuring homes and the payment of grants could have been administered direct by the Commonwealth Bank through the Treasury. In the estimates of this Department it can be seen that expenditure for War Service Homes purposes and for housing grant subsidies from now on are to be lumped together. I suppose that that is only natural seeing that we now have a Minister for Housing. Prior to 1964-65, expenditure for housing was clearly shown under two headings - Administration, which was Division No. 260, and War Service Homes, which was Division No. 265. In 1963-64 the expenditure incurred under Division No. 260, which I understand would be for the central administration, was £43,065. In 1964-65 it had risen to £303,000, and for 1965-66 it is expected to exceed half a million pounds at £529,500, with another £51,500 appropriated for other services. In 1964-65 the staff in Division No. 260 numbered 83 and there were 838 in Division No. 265. This year, with the figures being taken together, the staff totals 975, which is 54 more than were employed in 1964-65 and 149 more than were employed in 1963-64.
The creation of a Ministry of Housing has been something of a bonanza for the Minister and those lucky enough to have obtained employment in the Department. However, the picture is somewhat different for the young folk who are seeking a home savings grant. Scores of applicants have been unable to have their savings accepted for the purpose, simply because of the impossible conditions that the Government has applied to qualification for a -grant. The number of cases in which the Minister and the Department have refused to accept savings for qualification is terrific. As I said before, the Minister cured one evil and created another. A young man named Jarvie applied for acceptance of his savings for the purpose of qualification for a grant. In the initial stages the money had been held in a trust account maintained by the applicant and his mother. The Department wrote a letter to the applicant which stated -
Your application for a grant under the Homes Savings’ Grant Act 1964 has been considered and I regret to inform you that, on the basis of the information disclosed in the application and supporting documents, the Act does not permit the payment of a grant in your case.
Later on, as a result of my representations, the Minister was prepared to have another look at the matter. At one stage, when trust accounts were not acceptable, the young man had gone to the Commonwealth Bank and rebanked his money in an account held jointly by his mother and himself. The bank book was clearly marked “home savings account “, in order that the account might qualify for a home savings grant. But the Minister said, in effect: “ No. Bad luck, Mate, we have changed the Act now, so your money is still not acceptable as qualifying savings “. The amazing thing is that the Department finally wrote in these terms -
Your application for a Home Savings Grant has been reviewed in the light of amendments to the Homes Savings Grant Act that have recently been approved by the Commonwealth Parliament.
You are to receive an amount of £145 which will be paid by cheque within the next few days.
I’n determining this amount, we found it necessary to make certain adjustments, in accordance with the provisions- of die Act, to the amount of savings shown in your application. Details of these adjustments are: -
Can you imagine it, Mr. Temporary Chairman? At first, the money in the account was not acceptable. Finally, £435 of that money was acceptable, but the rest was not.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– At the very outset, I want to register a protest at the indifference with which the great problem of housing is being treated by this Government. As I stand in this chamber, I see sitting in the Government benches, apart from the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) one Government supporter - a member of the Australian Country Party - and not one member of the Liberal Party. The Government Whip has suddenly made an emergence and he alone, apart from the Minister, represents the involvement and interest of the Government in housing as it affects thousands of young Australian couples. Let me tell the Whip, who is now going out to rally his numbers, that this is an absolute disgrace. It is an indictment of the Government, which claims to represent the Australian people. Why, in order to ensure a continuation of this debate, four Opposition members are called on consecutively to speak.
– I rise to order. Has this anything to do with the debate before the Committee?
Order! There is no substance in the point raised by the honorable member.
– The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) raised that point in an endeavour to deter me from exposing this Government’s indifference to the housing problems of the Australian people. I am pleased to see that at last one other Government member has entered the Chamber. This is no laughing matter. I can tell the honorable member for Mallee that there are thousands of young Australian couples who are desperately feeling the shortage of funds, a shortage about which the Government has shown great indifference and neglect in the one and a half months which have passed since the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) gave some warning of the crisis ahead when delivering his Budget speech in this House.
– Get on with the job.
– I want to get on with the job but in order to do so must resort to the only recourse at our disposal - the form of the House - and move an amendment. On behalf of the Opposition, I move -
That the proposed expenditure for the Department of Housing be reduced by £1 -
I do so as a mark of concern at the Government’s failure to ensure an adequate flow of finance for housing. On 2nd September of this year, when speaking in this House, the Minister for Housing, who is now at the table, was frank enough to make the candid admission that finance for housing would become tighter. He confessed that savings bank lending for housing had fallen progressively in the past IS months and that a further decline would occur. One and a half months have now passed without any remedial action being taken by this Government, and already there are signs that certain industries, particularly those connected with the production of housing appliances and equipment, have felt the effect of this serious downturn in the availability of housing finance.
This indifference on the part of the Government represents a threat to the stability of industry and a threat to the continued employment of many hundreds, if not many thousands of Australian workers. It also represents a threat to the housing prospects of thousands of young families. The Opposition demands to know what action is contemplated to curtail the deterioration in Australia’s housing output.
There are all kinds of figures and all kinds of Press headlines available to stimulate Government members into showing a bit more interest than the three or four members sitting on the Government side at the moment have displayed. On 9th October 1965, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ published an item under the headline “Home Funds Fall More Noticeable “. On about the same date, the “ Australian “ published the headline “ Home Loans Fall By £1 Million Over Three Months”. One could go on quoting dramatic headlines relating to this serious problem which affects the lives of young Australian couples.
Let me give some indication of the seriousness of the position. The figures available to us disclose a serious fall in the number of loans approved. For example, there has been a steady decline from a peak of 10,128 approvals for the September quarter of 1963 to 8,286 for the June quarter of 1965. Those figures relate to quarters and to thousands of approvals, but over a full year they would amount to a very large number of houses affecting a very large number of people. I repeat that the number of approvals has fallen from a peak of 10,128 for the September quarter of 1963 to 8,286 for the June quarter of 1965. It is the lowest number of housing approvals on a monthly basis for two years.
The loan money being made available has fallen from a peak of £31.5 million for the September quarter of 1963 to £26.9 million for the June quarter of 1965. The experts who write for the Reserve Bank and the statistical experts who write for the Sydney “Financial Review” and other authoritative bulletins indicate that the September quarter of this year will show an even worse fall. I repeat that one and a half months have gone by since the Minister first drew attention to this undesirable trend. We are aware of the diversionary tactics and techniques employed by this Government and of the election gimmicks such as the housing grants scheme and the establishment of the Housing Loan Insurance Corporation, which, such a long time after the last Federal elections, is still not off the ground. It is still not serving any real purpose to assist the housing needs of the Australian community.
In the face of all these gimmicks, this Government has denied its fundamental responsibility in the important field of housing. What is more important to the welfare of the Australian community than housing? In the last few days, we have heard some rumblings that Cabinet is to meet - one and a half months after the crisis was identified and declared by the Minister. Approvals are running down. Figures for the June quarter of this year indicate that approvals are running at the rate of £140 million for the year, compared with £155 million for 1963-64 and £149 million for 1964-65. Analysis shows that the fall is about 14 per cent. This represents a fall in bank loans.
Banking policy is very important because this Government has allowed insurance companies to disregard their obligation to employ the people’s money for the important purpose of housing. Insurance companies support for housing in this country has been dramatically reduced. In fact, I believe that at present housing loans are being deliberately withheld because of the policy of the Reserve Bank. Even though less money is being made available for housing, the amount which is being made available is hardly a measurement of the production of new houses, because an increasing proportion is being used for the purpose of existing homes. I think the Minister, who is at the table, would readily concede in fairness that this trend is apparent not only in the general housing field, but also in the more restricted field of war service homes finance. The net effect is that less houses are being built and more of the money available is being used to purchase existing homes. Meanwhile, the people are languishing without houses. The proportion of houses per thousand of population is not increasing to the extent that we would expect. There are good reasons why the Opposition should demand from the Government some kind of explanation for this situation. We know, of course, that it is related to the general deterioration of the Australian economy. We know, too, that it is related to the fall in bank deposits. I do not know whether the Minister wants to enter into an argument about why bank deposits are falling at present. However, for housing purposes, banks are able to lend up to a prescribed maximum of 35 per cent, of their deposits. It is clear, on a statistical basis, that the banks have never fulfilled their obligation to the extent that would have been possible on the basis of that formula; but even if they had utilised the permissible maximum amount of 35 per cent, of their deposits one could readily recognise that, in the face of the great housing shortage, the Government would have the responsibility of ensuring that that limit should be increased.
Wherever we look in the housing field we see deterioration. If we examine the Commonwealth and State Housing Agree> ment we can ascertain without any difficulty that the important humane considerations which first motivated the introduction of that policy by the Chifley Government have been eroded away. The old rent rebate system, which had regard for the paying capacity of working families, pensioners and others, has been changed so that people in the low income group in this community are finding it difficult even to maintain repayments on housing commission homes. If we look at the provision for such matters as slum clearance we see a deficiency of funds. If we consider the question of homes for aged persons we. can appreciate that the housing commissions are experiencing tremendous difficulty in keeping up a flow of low rental and low purchase housing, and that there is an ever-growing waiting list of aged people in Australia. We are concerned not only with the question of finance for housing - and the private sector of the housing industry is, according to the figures I have indicated, deteriorating alarmingly - but also with the new Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. I think the Parliament is entitled to have from the Minister, during the course of this debate, some account of his stewardship, and of the progress he is making in negotiating the new agreement.
The important points that I have enunciated need to be accommodated in the Commonwealth and State Housing agreement. The denial in that Agreement of the welfare of aged persons requires to be remedied as quickly as possible. The urgent and apparent need for funds for slum clearance obviously needs to be overtaken, as does the need to re-institute the rental rebate system. I understand that the New South Wales Government intends to impose a means test on its Housing Commission homes. One wonders what kind of exclusion will result from this new provision which fundamentally has regard for the fact that there is a limit on the number of houses being made available through the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement for people on low incomes.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Bury) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- The matter that I wish to raise tonight is one from which I was diverted last night and which has received considerable publicity in recent months but which more or less has died on the vine. I refer to the erection some time ago within the precincts of Parliament House of squash courts valued at £13,000. At the time they were erected considerable criticism was levelled by my colleague, the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser). I believe there was considerable justification for his criticism. I am not averse to the erection of these courts as part of the amenities that are provided for members of the Parliament, but I propose to show that they have been erected at the expense of the great majority of members of the Parliament.
I thought that, before I proceeded with my criticism, I should trace the history of the game of squash. I have learned from Chambers’s Encyclopaedia that squash is a development of the old game of rackets. The earliest courts were built at Harrow School, where boys started playing baby rackets and graduated later to the faster game of rackets. Later it became known as squash rackets from the soft, hollow ball that was used, and about 1886 it was recognised as a new ball game. I have discovered the following definition in Chambers’s Encyclopaedia -
Rackets is first mentioned in “ The Complayn “, written by Sir David Lindsay in 1529. It appears that in its early days it was played against one wall of a tennis court, probably with few welldefined rules. It was first popularized by the debtors of the old Fleet prison and the later Fleet prison, which was built in 1781-82 and made famous by Dickens and Rowlandson. Outside the prisons there were a few courts adjoining taverns; however up to the middle of the 19th century all the rackets champions were born or bred in one of the debtors’ prisons.
That definition reveals a rather interesting background to the game of squash.
When Parliament House was extended recently, by some remarkable procedure there was included in the tender the cost of squash courts, which we were told subsequently amounted to £13,000. No-one seemed to know that the courts were to be erected. As a matter of fact, I did not know what they were until they were pointed out to me. I am all in favour of providing facilities to enable members to keep themselves fit. But not more than 20 per cent, of the members of this Parliament - that is an extremely liberal view - can use these squash courts. Everybody knows that if anybody over the age of 35 or 40 years plays the game too extensively he will find himself on his way to the grave. That applies to most of the members at whom I am now looking, and indeed to the vast majority of the members of the Parliament.
I have seen the results of older men playing this game. For instance, on one night recently the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), who is a constant player of squash, was so weary in this chamber that he was falling off to sleep. He had been out on the squash court trying to keep fit. I do not blame him for doing so, but I am trying to show the toll that this game takes on the energy of men, unlike the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon), who are not young. We saw the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) when we were dealing with the Stevedoring Industry Bill. I understand he is very attached to this game. He has become cranky and irritable and unable to concentrate on great issues in this Parliament because of the stress imposed by games of this nature. To summarise the position, it is like a lot of old men playing schoolboy games in an endeavour to keep fit. If they want to do these things that is their business. A former Davis Cup tennis player told me on one occasion that this was a very strenuous game which men over 40 should not play if they wanted to retain their physical fitness.
What I would like to know is why £13,000 was spent for the exclusive use of some members of the Parliament. I once asked the Minister for the Interior (Mr.
Anthony) for a filing cabinet for my office in Sydney. It would have cost about £10 but he told me I could not have it. Why should there not be within the precincts of this Parliament facilities for members to take physical exercise in keeping with their age? It is impossible for members who do not use the squash courts or the tennis courts to get any form of physical recreation. Let me make it quite clear that I am not averse to sport. If the Government can justify the expenditure of £13,000 on squash courts then good luck to it. But why should not a reasonable proportion of that amount be made available for amenities for other members who wish to keep fit? The Minister for the Interior was accused by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory of doing this surreptitiously. The Minister is a young man and, in an article in the “ Canberra Times “ he is reported as having said -
If anyone should set an example to the community of fitness through exercise it was the younger members of Parliament.
That means that if you are not a younger man you can die on the vine, according to the Minister for the Interior. Why should not the honorable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) and other members be entitled to some recreational facilities within the Parliament?
– There is a bowling green.
– Yes. But why was not a portion of that sum spent to provide rooms for massage, for instance, for members after spending the long dreary nights in this Parliament which the Government forces us to put up with? I do not reflect on anybody’s age but is it not taking things to the very extreme to build a squash court at a cost of £13,000 for no more than 15 members of this House? To arrive at that number I checked the records of the Parliament. More than 120 members would be entitled to use those courts if it were not for their age and physical condition.
The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory said that the squash courts were sneaked in. The Minister tried to answer him, but no satisfactory explanation was given. It was not explained that this huge amount was to be spent on the construction of the courts. I am sorry that the
Minister, who I presume likes the game himself, has seen fit merely to cater for a very small section of the Parliament. 1 am told that in Canberra there is a demand for heated swimming pools for the school children and others, but that it is impossible to get them. The Government says, in effect, that 80 per cent, of the members of this Parliament who are entitled to be kept fit - and that includes you, Mr. Speaker, and me - shall be deprived of that opportunity. It is the concern of the Government that we keep fit, but a small coterie of members, probably from both sides of the House, are to have these courts made available to them exclusively.
I ask the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) to ask the Minister for the Interior whether he will provide in this Parliament steam rooms, a gymnasium and other facilities for ordinary members. Anyone who has visited the Congress of the United States of America will know that all facilities are provided to give every member, irrespective of age, the opportunity to keep in a reasonable state of health. The Government decided to spend £13,000 for the benefit of 20 per cent, of the members of this Parliament. Why should it not spend a few thousand more for the other members?
Time does not permit me to deal more fully with this matter, Mr. Speaker, but without doubt this work was sneaked in in the course of construction of the new parliamentary wing. Frankly, some of the money spent on the squash courts could have been used to improve the acoustics in the new wing. I do not know whether the squash players can hear each other speaking all over the squash courts but this is the situation in the new building. A little of the money could have been spent to keep the secrets that are necessary in parliamentary parties confined to the members occupying the rooms. That idea may have been disregarded in order that there might be squash courts for 20 per cent, of members. I place on record not complete opposition to the courts but regret that the Government sneaked them in as it did and made no provision for 80 per cent, of the members to keep fit. The younger members are to have the opportunity to play this glamour game which is too strenuous for anybody over 35 or 40 years of age.
.- Last night during the debate on the adjournment 1 made some remarks about the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Gibson) after an interjection by him. I now wish to apologise to him for my statements. The situation which called for my apology arose out of the answer given by the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) to the remarks made by the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) concerning complaints he bad received from relatives of Australian troops in South Vietnam. I took umbrage at the tenor of the remarks of the Minister for the Army and I still do. The honorable member for Barton had asked for information on postal delays, postal charges, pay delays, lack of reading material and lack of entertainment for our Australian troops in South Vietnam. He spoke in very moderate terms. He was careful to say that his information had not been checked and that some of the complaints he had found difficult to understand.
The Minister, in his answer and in a collective insult to all members of the Opposition, implied that the honorable member for Barton had an ideological motivation in raising the matter. The Minister further said that prior to the South Vietnam war the Australian Labour Party was not interested in Australian troops overseas. In the answer to the honorable member for Barton, the Minister failed to say anything about pay delays or the lack of entertainment. He did mention the postal arrangements but apparently little effort has been made either by him or the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) to see that the officers of the Postal Department throughout Australia are informed of these arrangements because the relatives of the soldiers who had spoken to the honorable member for Barton had been unable to obtain accurate information from the Post Office.
If nothing else comes out of the remarks made by the honorable member for Barton but the fact that all officers in the Post Office will be informed of the postal arrangements applicable to letters and parcels being sent to our troops overseas, then the honorable member for Barton is to be congratulated and thanked rather than vilified and insulted as he was last night by the Minister and also by the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) who followed the Minister in the debate.
The honorable member for La Trobe went even further than the Minister had gone and said that the honorable member for Barton was endeavouring to lower the morale of the troops and cause disquiet among the parents and relatives of our troops in South Vietnam. Both the Minister and the honorable member for La Trobe knew that one of the most active members in this House on matters affecting exservicemen and repatriation is the honorable member for Barton whose honorable war record is equal to that of any other member of this Parliament. By no stretch of imagination could it ever be suggested or thought that the honorable member for Barton is anything but a loyal and true Australian who is opposed to all foreign ideologies; yet both the Minister for the Army and the honorable member for La Trobe insulted him, and all members of the Opposition, because he was doing his public duty and raising matters in this Parliament that had been brought before his notice by constituents. The honorable member for Barton raised matters that were of personal but very minor importance such as pay, postage and the lack of entertainment for our troops in South Vietnam. Because he raised these matters he was accused, virtually, of being subversive. I would like the Minister for the Army, whom I endeavoured to contact in order to tell him that I was going to speak tonight, and the honorable member for La Trobe to say why neither of them made any complaints at all about a speech made in this Parliament by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) on 26th August of this year during the Budget debate. I shall quote two portions of the speech of the honorable member for Chisholm. At page 521 of “ Hansard “ the following remarks appear -
While I am on this point, I should like to met*. tion one or two matters which, although they are small in the shape of things at the present time, are of great importance to the troops in the field,’ because as a result of some of them the troops feel they are being forgotten by the people home in Australia.
Later in his speech he said -
These things annoy the troops in the front line, naturally, and I hope that they will be corrected very quickly.
What were the things that the honorable member for Chisholm raised in the Budget debate? He questioned whether the Government was right in purchasing TFX aircraft when all the troops in South Vietnam had told him that the Phantom aircraft was much more suitable for the conditions in that area. He complained about the shortage of sandbags and that some of the sandbags that had been supplied had come from Communist Chinese. He further complained about unsatisfactory rations. He raised questions of ribbons and awards and wanted to know why no ribbon had been designed for the troops serving in Vietnam. He asked why a decision had been made that foreign decorations should not be accepted by our troops in that area. He suggested, as did the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) last night - and the honorable member for Grayndler was taken to task for doing so - that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) or the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) should visit our troops in these areas in order to boost their morale.
If the honorable member for Barton and the members of the Opposition in this House are accused of being mischievous and subversive for raising such matters, and are told that their attitude is ideologically motivated, what description would the Minister for the Army and the honorable member for La Trobe give to the remarks of the honorable member for Chisholm? The Minister and the honorable member for La Trobe owe apologies to the honorable member for Barton and to every member of the Opposition. Their remarks were insulting, unfounded and untrue. In conclusion, I would like to say that when I am speaking and there is an interjection, I hold unto myself the right to reply to that interjection in accordance with the spirit in which I believe the interjection was made.
.- The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) has offered an apology to me. I accept his apology, but the remarks he made last night under the cover of parliamentary privilege were offensive not only to me but also to my fiancee, her family and my own family. As the honorable member has apologised to me I ask that he make it clear that he is also apologising to those people, who do not have the opportunity that I have of replying to the honorable member.
.- I am grateful for the remarks made by my colleague the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart). I am also grateful to persons who for obvious reasons, I must leave unnamed, members of the Government Parties who, for obvious reasons, I must leave unby the behaviour of the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) last night. I am not here to indulge in criticism and get into a dogfight with the Minister. I felt sorry for him rather than angered by his remarks. My only regret is that he made the remarks he did about my Party and its alleged disinterest in the general welfare of exservicemen. It is well known to every member of this House that the Australian Labour Party doss not take second place to any other party in its fight for improvements in exservicemen’s conditions. Our activities in the recent debate on the Repatriation Bill 1965 is evidence enough of that fact.
All I want to say in the few minutes I intend to take is that I have had a further opportunity of checking some of the points that I made last night. I have found that, in the matter of the cost of sending parcels by air mail to our troops in Vietnam, it costs 3s. 6d. per half pound for parcels to be delivered in Vietnam. I checked with my informant who rang me fairly late last night before I spoke on the adjournment debate. She told me that it cost £1 18s. 6d. to send a cake to Vietnam. I understood that it was a 4 lb. cake. That information was slightly incorrect. The rate is 3s. 6d. a half lb. which, on a 4 lb. cake, would work out at £1 8s. and not £1 18s. 6d. As it so happens, the cake weighed more than 4 lb. and it cost £1 18s. 6d. to send air mail to Vietnam. These matters cannot be regarded as small fry. Those honorable members who have served in the armed forces and who have been isolated know how appreciative a serviceman is to receive these comforts and amenities. Our servicemen in Vietnam have not all the amenities that the Minister apparently thinks they have, following his visit to them. He was inclined to redicule this matter. I think somebody else was inclined to ridicule the fact that I said a serviceman had asked his parents to send him soap. That soap was supposed to be readily available in Vietnam. Soap is readily available to our servicemen in Vietnam, but I find they have been advised to ask their relatives in Australia to send up a particular kind of germicidal soap which is not obtainable in their area at all, so, these matters are not as superficial as the Minister might have us believe.
On the matter of other amenities, it appears that not much organisational attention has been given to providing entertainment to our troops. By way of contrast, what the Americans do for their troops is pretty well known. Naturally, these young men are very interested in obtaining news about their homeland. They feel lonely. Many of them are away from their wives and others are away from their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and other relatives. I know that in the theatres of war where honorable members have served bulletins were issued giving pretty current information about the homeland. This is not happening in Vietnam as far as I am able to ascertain. The only news these servicemen hear is obtained by listening to Radio America broadcasts. These make very little reference, or no reference at all, to Australia.
Allied with this matter is another matter which may seem to be trivial, but it is important to our servicemen in Vietnam. This is the matter of newspapers and, particularly, books and general reading material. I have been able to check on this point with the Red Cross Society in Sydney. I confirmed the information which was given to me last night by my informant. The Red Cross Society, in the words of that organisation, has been inundated with complaints by relatives of servicemen who say that the troops have written to them that they have no reading matter, or very little reading matter, available in Vietnam. I understand from the Red Cross Society that it would be prepared to help even although it has other pressures upon it if the Australian Army would arrange for plane space to take the material to Vietnam. I find that these complaints are not isolated. An honorable member has given me today’s edition of the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “. There is an article in this newspaper under the heading “ Attack on army over ‘ comforts ‘ “. The article reads -
A mother of 1J children last night accused Australian Army authorities of refusing to send books, newspapers, and personal articles to troops in Vietnam.
Mrs. Kathleen Newbery, of Balsa Street, Inala, said “ It’s a fantastic situation. Our boys in Vietnam are crying out for these things - yet the Army says it cannot help.”
She claims that senior officers at Victoria Barracks had told her that there was no aircraft space available to transport “comforts” to Vietnam.
Mrs. Newbery, who has a 27 year old son with the Australian forces, founded the Inala Good Cobbers Association last July.
She said it was officially registered as a charitable organisation, but because they had received no help from the Army, the association had to send gifts through The Salvation Army.
Brigadier Peter Lucas of the Salvation Army said last night that goods were being sent through them “probably because we are the only organisation represented in Vietnam.”
Under the sub-heading “ June promise “, the article continues -
Mrs. Newbery, a widow, and mother of five sons and six daughters said that as far back as June, the Army had promised they would “look into the matter of providing air transport for Vietnambound gifts for troops.”
She said: “We have no axe to grind. We are a non-religious organisation and all we want is a fair deal for the boys fighting in Vietnam.”
I can only say in all honesty that that is the same sentiment as my own. I had no ideological motive. I am not one of those who engage in this ideological conflict about sending troops to Vietnam. I think that that is another question altogether. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said at the time this announcement was made that whatever we might think about the decision to send troops to Vietnam, once they have been sent we will do all we can to look after their welfare, while they are there and when they come back. Those are war sentiments. They are honestly held and I do not think they deserved the disparaging remarks of the Minister last night.
.- My main remarks will be addressed to the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart), but first I should like to say to the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) that if he reads “ Hansard “ he will be able to judge whether there was any reason for the comments that the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) made. They were certainly intensified by the remarks of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly). The honorable member for Grayndler, it will be remembered, did not talk about soap and toothpaste, he talked about shoddy equipment and a wide range of matters which, in my opinion, had to do with the morale of the troops in the field.
Let me comment on what the honorable member for Barton said. He referred to some letter in a newspaper. If he refers again to “ Hansard “ he will see that what I put to him was that, when he received the letter, it would have been in accordance with normal procedure for him to take it up with the Minister in order to find out whether the statements contained in it were, accurate or not. The point I led on to, in reference to the honorable member for Grayndler’s remarks, was that these things do nothing but cause upset to parents and to the people concerned with our troops in Vietnam if a member has not checked them before he raises them in this House. I still stick to that remark. I do not care what the motive of the honorable member for Barton was. I do not care what he quoted from a newspaper. The point is: Had he checked it? I ask him whether he did. I think the answer is: “ No.”
In relation to the honorable member for Lang, let me say that one of the easiest things members of the Opposition can do is to make a remark and, when confronted with it, apologise. That does not cut the remark out of “ Hansard “. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Gibson) has been embarrassed because the remarks made by the honorable member for Lang were spread
Tight over the front page of his local newspaper. The honorable members know that is so. Recently the Deputy Leader of the Opposition threw a glass of water at somebody. He apologised and said that it was an act of pure petulance or something or other. Does that wipe out the fact that the act was done?
The night I was thrown out of this House I would not withdraw what I said because 1 believed it to be true. If the honorable member for Lang believed more accurately in what he has* perhaps, stood for in the past, I think it would be a better thing. Most honorable members on this side of the House considered that the honorable member for Lang and other members of the Labour Party stood for certain things but now we understand that a little change has taken place. Now they have to be manly lads. They now have to say: “ We are with you. We are rough, tough Labour members.” That is all I can say to the honorable member for Lang. It is time that he made up his mind where he stood in the Labour Party. Thirty pieces of silver may have been taken by some. I never included him amongst those who accepted them.
The honorable member talked about my having made a collective insult to the Labour Party. I did not make a collective insult to the Labour Party.
– The honorable member did.
– If the honorable member is intelligent enough to read “ Hansard “, or if he had listened to what I said, he should know that I said that there were many members of the Labour Party who did not agree with what was being done, perhaps by some sections and perhaps by some movements who had endorsement and support from those who oppose what I think the average Australian - and I will include the average on both sides of the House - believes is for the benefit of Australia.
It is time the Labour Party decided where it stands. Members of the Labour Party have attacked me. They have said that I attacked the honorable member for Barton. Indeed I did not. But the honorable member for Barton surely cannot think for one moment that there will not be some effect when he rises in this place and states that our troops in Vietnam are being neglected - intentionally, as the honorable member for Lang has said - in the matter of postal charges, in the delivery of mail, in the supply of reading material, in entertainment and so on. He made that statement without reference to the Ministers concerned and without making any endeavour to find out the truth, knowing, I presume - if he did not, then I excuse him - that what he said would be blazoned in all the newspapers of Australia.
It would be wise for honorable members opposite to forget the attitude of the Labour Government when it was in office and when members of this House and their relatives were serving in various theatres of war. Let me tell my loquacious friend, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Devine), who is interjecting, that I know how many of the men who were involved. I assure him that I, like most members of this House, have the highest regard for them. But I think it is disgusting when honorable members, for no other reason than political advantage, exercise their rights in this House to undermine the morale of people who naturally are concerned because their sons are fighting in Vietnam, by saying that our troops are being neglected. I do not apologise to the honorable member for Lang. To the honorable member for Barton, I say that I thought I made clear in my speech that I was critical not of his remarks but perhaps of the carelessness of the method that he adopted.
The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope), that great man, is interjecting. He has to follow the line. He says, in effect, “ I have to do this, otherwise I will not get my party endorsement”. Are honorable members opposite men or mice? It is time that they took a stand. The Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and others have said that things are not right. I am sick to death of this. If I never return to this House again, let me say that I admired some of the members of the Opposition once but by their silence they are condemning themselves. If they feel genuinely on these matters, let them get up and fight. Let us have an Opposition that will do the things that are necessary to be done in this country. J, and I am sure the majority of Australians, find it completely nauseating that some honorable members opposite come into this place and squeak before a caucus election is to be held and try to make men of themselves. Ex-service members of the Labour Party are strangely silent, and I admire them for it. I once admired the honorable member for Watson. I once had a great regard for the Labour Party. I thought it stood for all the important things in this country, but at this moment, without wishing to be provocative, I say that honorable members opposite are a pack of squeakers who have not the guts to get up and say what they believe in.
– I ask that the honorable member withdraw that remark.
– Order! The honorable member for La Trobe will withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw it.
– The honorable member is just an arrogant cur.
– Order! The honorable member for Watson will withdraw that remark.
– I will not withdraw it.
– I name the honorable member.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) put -
That the honorable member for Watson be suspended from the service of the House. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– Order! The honorable member for Watson is suspended from the service of the House for 24 hours. (The honorable member for Watson thereupon withdrew from the chamber.)
– I would certainly fear for the future of this country if I were to feel that there were many members on the Government side with the same mentality as that of the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess), whose speech tonight was disgraceful and certainly gave him no credit. He cast aspersions on honorable members on this side of the House. His absence from this Parliament after the next election would be no loss.
The Australian Labour Party has a proud and great record. We only have to go back to World War II to find that it was the Labour Government, headed by the late John Curtin, which marshalled the full resources of this country to save it from disaster and defeat. Of course, the honorable member for La Trobe would not be here tonight had the Japanese invaded Australia at that time. It was a magnificent Australian effort in which all Australians, regardless of their political or other beliefs, took part. For the honorable member to try to pose as the great supporter of the soldier and the great defender of Australia and to asperse the honour and reputations of honorable members on this side of the House is about the worst thing I have ever heard in this Parliament. One million people, including 68,000 brave women, wore one or other of the uniforms of our three Services during World War II. None of them had to go without anything - clothes, boots, food or anything else. We gave them everything we could. The Government that was in power during the war and at the conclusion of it had 366,000 men and women still in the Services when the war ended. We repatriated them all; we rehabilitated them all. This was the work of the Chifley Government, of which I was a member. I am one of the last surviving members and the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) are others.
The Chifley Government established a committee, with the honorable member for Lalor as the chairman and the late and highly respected honorable member for Corangamite as the deputy chairman. It brought into this Parliament a report which was the basis for the best Repatriation Act that has ever been passed by any parliament in the world. Yet the honorable member says that we are not in favour of the soldier, that we do not want to do anything for him. We gave the returned soldiers of World War II their due. They received more than the men from World War I did. We gave them better gratuity payments and we enabled them to have a university education. Every member of the Parliament of that day supported the legislation. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) was there. He supported it. But it is completely disgraceful to have members rising in their places in this Parliament and attacking Opposition members because of the protests they have made about certain inadequacies in the treatment of people who are serving in Vietnam.
We are told today that it is 127 days since the question of the pay for soldiers serving in Vietnam was first raised; but it is not yet settled. This is the question as to whether the men in Vietnam should receive the same rate of pay as the men serving in Borneo do. I have been very patient and tolerant about this. I know the difficulties of the Government. But any honorable member is entitled to raise the issue if he wants to do so. On 12th July of this year it was said that the Department of the Army had started a top-level investigation into the issue of 20-year-old boots to Australian combat troops in Vietnam. Is no honorable member entitled to raise that issue in the Parliament and ask for an explanation? As the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) has said, the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) has as good a war record as anybody here. Does he not have the right to complain about delays in postal deliveries?
– Or to inquire.
– To protest or to inquire, as the honorable member for Macquarie says. We are discharging our public duty in doing what we are doing. But to have every member of the Opposition and every member of the Government parties who may agree with us insulted by a man who came here through some fortuitous circumstance-
– Which one?
– Which fortuitous circumstance?
– I do not know, but you did not get here on your merits. However he got here and whenever he got here, he has added no lustre to the Parliament. He has lowered the standards of the House and the sooner he disappears from political life the better.
.- Nobody in this House likes to see any honorable member dismissed from the service of the House, but I regret very much that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has indulged in such a bitter attack upon the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess). It is all very fine for honorable members opposite to jeer and to sneer, but I invite them, if they have any sense of fairness, to look at the argument that was put by the honorable member for La Trobe. I think this is a very fair point. Referring to the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart), all that he said was: “I do not think this is a fair go, that you should apologise in the way you did. It does not meet the circumstances.” He turned from that and said: “ Look at the charge that has been made. Have you been prepared to follow it up? “ I believe that no honorable member in this House would approve, in any shape or form, the stinting of any service to any serviceman in Vietnam, If the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) has any evidence of any falling down of postal facilities or the delivering of messages to servicemen, or shortcomings of equipment, I think he will agree that the first requirement is to produce that evidence. It is all very fine to make charges. I ask my friend the honorable member for Barton, who is interjecting, to hear me out. It is overwhelmingly tempting to make a charge and then sit back and say: “It is up to the establishment to deny it “. The honorable member did not produce one scintilla of evidence in support of his charges. I ask honorable members opposite to bear in mind that the honorable member for La Trobe did not insult the Opposition or other members of this House-
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for La Trobe was grossly offensive.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– All the honorable member for La Trobe said was: “It is easy enough to make these charges, but where is the evidence? Are you prepared to follow the charges through?” He turned to the honorable member for Barton and said: “ Have you taken this up with the Minister for the Army? “ That was all the honorable member for La Trobe said this evening. I say to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), with the utmost goodwill, that I do not think it was a fair crack of the whip for him to indulge in the language he used this evening.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in tha affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.3 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
Housing of Army Personnel. (Question No. 1326.)
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Canberra. (Question No. 1386.)
ser asked the Minister for the Interior -
What is the total cost of (a) the proposed road works in Stuart and Barker Streets, (b) remaking the school driveway, (c) re-locating the parking area for the teachers’ vehicles, (d) remaking of normal drainages (e) re-siting of special flood drainage installed under present driveways, shortly after floodings, soon after the opening of the school, (f) removing more than 20 well established trees, some with special name plaques and (g) re-planting trees and shrubs around the service station?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are. as follows -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answers to the honorable member’s questions -
General rate 40 per cent, plus 5 per cent.
Preferential rate 171/2 per cent.
on asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
I understand that certain restrictions have been placed by service authorities on operations by military jet aircraft at Bankstown and I have therefore referred the question to my colleagues, the Ministers for Air and the Navy.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 October 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19651021_reps_25_hor48/>.