House of Representatives
24 March 1966

25th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

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Mr. WENTWORTH presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that action be taken, through Constitution alteration referendum proposals, to give the Commonwealth power to make laws for the advancement of the Aboriginal people and prevent the making of laws which would discriminate against any person born or naturalised in Australia.

Petition received and read.

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– Is the Minister for National Development aware of the statement recently made by an Australian nuclear physicist that Australia’s industrial and domestic needs for fresh water would justify the cost of nuclear desalination plants? Can the Minister say whether the Government has considered the installation of nuclear power plants to help provide for the nation’s future needs of electricity and water?

Minister for National Development · FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– A sub-committee of the Water Resources Council looked at the question of desalination very closely and arrived at a decision which will appear in a report by the Council which will be published very shortly. I will see that the honorable member gets a copy of it. The Council came to the conclusion that in the foreseeable future - within a period of about 20 years - it will be much cheaper to obtain water in Australia by conventional methods than by the use of giant nuclear plants. I think that basically all the authorities in the States who are associated with water problems would agree that this is correct. Perhaps there is a requirement for desalination on a very small scale but not on a scale which would involve the installation of giant nuclear plants. As to the use of nuclear power generally, Australia is in the fortunate position of having plentiful supplies of cheap conventional fuel. At the same time, however, atomic energy plants are becoming more competitive throughout the world. I think that at present about 60 plants in various countries are producing electricity by the use of nuclear power.

There is no doubt that in the foreseeable future there will be areas in Australia where nuclear power will be able to compete with conventional power. When that time comes, or at some earlier time, the Government will undoubtedly give consideration to this matter.

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– Has the Prime Minister yet been able to obtain a copy of the letter sent by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to all Communist parties which will be represented at next week’s Communist congress in Moscow and which states that Communist aid to North Vietnam in 1965 amounted to $1,000 million including aircraft, tanks and warships? Does this confirm the view that the war in South Vietnam is not a civil war but one conducted by Communists against the non-Communist state of South Vietnam?

Prime Minister · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– I have not been able to secure a copy of the letter to which the honorable gentleman has referred, so I am not able to comment as to its authenticity or existence. This further evidence, if it were forthcoming, would merely confirm what I would have thought would be already patent to any objective observer of the situation in South Vietnam. There is ample evidence, to which my colleague the Minister for External Affairs and other spokesmen for the Government have referred from time to time, clearly indicating that the Vietcong forces have been consistently supplied with arms and equipment from Communist sources, including Soviet Russia and, of course, Communist China. The so-called Sam missile sites, obviously supplied and equipped by the Soviet Union, provide another example of this direct assistance. There can be no doubt that the Communist forces in South Vietnam have been and are being regularly and amply supplied with assistance of various kinds, including munitions, arms and other means of conducting war, by Communist Governments in Russia and China.

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– I ask the Minister for the Army a question. In view of the serious shortage of land in the electorate of Kingsford-Smith for home building purposes, will the Minister seriously consider transferring to the New South Wales Government the 500 acres of vacant land known as the Long Bay Rifle Range so that it may be subdivided and used for the building of Housing Commission homes? The range is seldom used these days.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– As a general rule the Army always tries to meet the reasonable requests of local government and State bodies regarding property held by the Army. I will examine the matter raised by the honorable member, but I understand that more use is made of Long Bay Rifle Range than of any other range in Australia. The needs of the Army in this regard and at this particular time must be given proper consideration.

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– Has the attention of the Minister for the Navy been drawn to a recent Press report which implies that the operational capacity of the Skyhawk attack fighter bombers now on order by the Navy for use in H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “ will be more limited than was contemplated when the order was placed? Is there any truth in the report or in the additional claim that, as a consequence, pressure is being applied on the Government to acquire a carrier to replace the “ Melbourne “?

Minister for the Navy · PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– To answer the second question first: The Minister for Defence and I are not aware of any pressure on the Government for any replacement of “ Melbourne “. As honorable members know, the policy in respect of the carrier was recently announced. Part of the policy provided for re-equipment with Skyhawk aircraft to replace the Sea Venoms and also Trackers to replace the Gannets. It should be kept in mind that “ Melbourne “ has never been an attack carrier. It was a support carrier, and its primary role recently has been as an anti-submarine carrier, a role it has carried out most efficiently. The replacement of Sea Venoms by Skyhawks will give the carrier greater anti-submarine capacity, because the Skyhawk is a much better aircraft. The Government is fully aware of the carrier’s capabilities and so is the Navy. The Government is perfectly satisfied it will be able to perform all tasks under all conditions both in tropical and nontropical waters, lt seems to me that somebody has made up a story that has no foundation in truth.

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– Has the Prime Minister read a Press statement to the effect that two of our allies who are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - one of them West Germany - with, and in association with French, British and other partners have embarked upon a contract to supply Red China with a modern steel works capable of producing any armaments Red China may wish to produce?


– I have seen only the Press reports on this matter. We have been in touch with our posts in the United States of America and West Germany to see what further information can be secured. If I get any authoritative information I shall make it available to the House.

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– I address a question to the Treasurer. Has his attention been drawn to the marked similarity in the designs of the $10 and $2 notes which, when held together in certain positions, give the appearance of two $10 notes? As this is leading to fraud in many instances where money changes hands quickly, as in places of commerce and recreation - one of the latter places well known to me and, I have reason also to suggest, to the Prime Minister - could the attention of the authorities responsible for the designs of the notes be drawn to this confusing and undesirable situation?


– Unlike the very distinguished gentlemen whose names have been mentioned, I do not bet in $10 notes. The honorable member should know that the control of the note issue and the designs of the notes are in the hands of the Reserve Bank. I have not previously had my attention drawn to the fact that there is a similarity and that deceit can occur. I will direct the attention of the Governor of the Reserve Bank to this fact and I will advise the honorable member of the result.

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– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Is he aware of the Morshead report which, it is claimed, recommended a unified command of the Australian armed forces? Is it not a fact that the principle of a unified military command has been adopted by such countries as the United Kingdom and Canada? Is the Prime Minister aware that a recent report states that the adoption of a unified military command has been responsible for greater efficiency and, at the same time, a reduction of expenditure in the Canadian armed forces? Will the Prime Minister give further consideration to this matter, and will he send a competent observer overseas to ascertain the effects of this system with the object of applying it to our own Services?


– I shall consider what has been put to me by the honorable member, but I point out that the Service arrangements that apply in Australia are the result of advice which reaches the Government from the Defence Committee and from the Chiefs of Staffs Committee. We are acting, therefore, in accordance with the best military and Service advice that can be secured by us.

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– Can the Minister for the Navy inform the House whether a ship which, according to reports, has been in the Great Australian Bight for some days now and which has been reported to be using a Soviet radio call sign in transmitting weather details, has yet been identified? If so, what is the vessel’s nationality, and what reasons are given for her presence in Australian waters? Finally, is there any truth in the report that this is the same vessel as was seen in the same area off the Western Australian coast last week and reported to be a submarine?


– I think the presence of such a ship would have the interest of two of my colleagues - the Minister for Shipping and Transport and the Minister for Primary Industry. I understand that the position of this ship was given as some 120 miles south of Eucla. This would put it well into international waters because, as honorable members will know, apart from a narrow strip of three miles along the coast, the waters in the Great Australian Bight are international waters and any ship has a perfect right to be in any position there.

It is the normal practice for all ships to radio their own weather observations to shore stations because there is a very high degree of co-operation between ships and shore stations in connection with weather reporting. This is probably what has been happening. It is known that recently there has been a fleet of Russian fishing vessels in this area. I think that at the present time three of them are in Adelaide Harbour. As to the second part of the question relating to the reported sighting of a submarine, there has been no positive identification of the vessel. There was a positive identification of what was thought to be a freighter, and this could well be one of the Russian whaling vessels which have now finished their whaling operations and are proceeding home through the Great Australian Bight and round the west coast of Western Australia, The report of a submarine was investigated, but I have not yet received the result of that investigation.

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– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Can we in Australia rightly assume that the new Government in Indonesia may be more friendly disposed towards us? Is the Prime Minister aware that the new Indonesian Government has sought urgent economic aid - in particular, food for flood victims in Java - from Japan? Would this be an appropriate time for Australia to take the initiative in offering such aid as an extension of the hand of practical friendship? Will the Prime Minister indicate to Indonesia the desire of Australia to be friendly and eventually to cement that feeling with trade and friendship?


– Despite the difficulties which have developed between our two countries as a result of the policy of confrontation against Malayasia, Australia has persisted with gestures of friendship and has at all times sought to maintain a friendly relationship with Indonesia. As to the attitude to be displayed in relation to any new administration which emerges from the changes which have been occurring there, we believe it is too early to make any firm assessment of the nature of the administration which will be finally established, but, certainly, the general Australian attitude of friendship will be maintained by us.

Australia’s practical help and sympathy have been revealed in a variety of ways in the past. I was reminded only this morning that, for example, when Bali was seriously affected by a volcanic eruption in 1963, Australia very promptly provided aid on that occasion. There have been reports of the calamitous effects of flooding in Java and the Government is currently trying to secure information to enable us to determine what assistance could be given. I am sure that the sympathy of all sections of the House will go to the people of Indonesia, particularly those directly affected by this calamity. The honorable gentleman can be assured that Australia recognises that in the 100 million neighbours immediately to our north there is a geographical and historical reality with which Australia has to live. Australia wishes to live in cordiality with these people and hopes that there might be a growing trade and economic relationship and an improved international relationship as well.

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– I address a question to the Minister for Defence. In view of the many representations made over many years by honorable members and the petition submitted by me last year regarding the recognition of our Anzacs in a special way, will the Minister for Defence give consideration to what has been requested and let honorable members know of his final decision?

Minister for Defence · PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The Government has spent a good deal of time dealing with the suggestions that have been made to recognise the Anzacs, Approach has been made to the Commonwealth Relations Office to investigate the possibility of having a medal struck under Royal Warrant. This has been found to be impracticable largely because of the lapse of time since Gallipoli and, secondly, because it would tend to be unfair to the other military groups from Commonwealth countries which were involved with Australian and New Zealand forces in that campaign. However, the Government has decided that it would like to see Gallipoli recognised in some Australian way. lt now proposes that there should be developed a medallion of suitable proportion and per haps from that a miniature version struck for a lapel badge. The work of designing this medallion has been placed with a well known Australian sculptor. Solid drafts of the medallion are in the hand and are being assessed by the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board. I think that fairly soon we will be able to make some practical headway. Unfortunately, the medallion will not be available for the coming Anzac Day but I would hope that it would appear shortly after.

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– My question lo the Prime Minister deals with decentralisation and the balanced development of Australia which is causing very great interest and concern in country districts throughout Australia. I ask the Prime Minister: Has his Government a policy to decentralise industry, population and government administration throughout Australia? If his Government has such a policy, will he take the earliest opportunity to outline his programme to the Parliament? Will he tell the House the name of the Minister in charge of decentralisation acitivities at the present time? Is he the Minister for National Development? Is he the Minister for Trade and Industry? Just who is in charge of this important activity? Finally, will he convene a meeting of State and Commonwealth ministers to co-ordinate relations between the Commonwealth and the States respecting these important matters?


- Mr. Speaker, the Commonwealth Government, of course, does have a general policy of encouragement of decentralisation, although most of the practical measures which can be taken in this field reside with the Governments of the States. Decentralisation has to be viewed, not merely as an act of government, however, but as the creation of an economic climate favourable to such development as will have decentralisation consequences and will assist Australia. At this time perhaps the most spectacular illustration of decentralisation on a practical and growing scale is the development of our mineral resources. The Commonwealth Government has shown its recognition of the need for assistance in various ways. The equalisation of petrol tax is a recent illustration. The creation of a committee to deal with transport costs in the north of Australia, the report of which is currently under study, is another illustration. There are, as we all know, practical problems associated with the objective, but we are working in conjunction with the States.

Mr Luchetti:

– Will the Prime Minister call a ministerial meeting?


– There is a committee in existence, I understand.

Mr Luchetti:

– I am referring to a ministerial meeting, not a committee.


– The honorable gentleman’s suggestion could certainly be considered sympathetically. My colleague the Minister for Trade and Industry is, I believe, the appropriate Commonwealth Minister as to relationships in these matters. But our support of the objective is clear.

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– Has the Minister for Health seen a statement that a Victorian grazier is expecting some Charollais cattle semen from the United Kingdom to arrive in Australia shortly? Can the Minister say whether this potentially valuable semen has met the quarantine requirements necessary for the protection of the valuable pastoral industry in Australia?

Minister for Health · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– Cattle semen, including Charollais semen, can be imported into Australia, but only under the most stringent quarantine provisions. These include the delivery of the semen to the veterinary centre at Weybridge in the United Kingdom and the holding of it there for two years. They include also tests on the donor bull at the time the semen is collected and proof that blue tongue has not been present in the country of origin during the whole of the period. The semen - which can be ordered by any person, including the Victorian grazier mentioned by the honorable gentleman - must then be consigned to the Chief Quarantine Officer (Animals) in the State concerned, who must be satisfied that all these conditions have been met. If they have been met, the grazier concerned can collect and use the semen. I might add that more than 1,500 ampules of Charollais semen have been deposited at Weybridge and will no doubt eventually come to Australia.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Army. I ask him whether his predecessor, in August and October 1964, just prior to the introduction of national service training, stated that the unanimous advice of the Government’s military advisers was against the introduction of such a scheme on the grounds that it would interfere with the readiness, efficiency and availability of the Australian Regular Army and would not give value for the $494 million such a scheme would cost in the first five years of its operation. Has the first year’s operation of the national service training scheme shown this advice to be correct? If not, who were the Service personnel responsible for giving incorrect advice to the Government on such an important subject, and have all or any of them been removed from their positions of trust? If not, why not?

Mr. MALCOLM FRASER__ The first year’s operation of the national service scheme has shown it to be a remarkable success. The scheme has involved a great expansion of the Army. This has proceeded smoothly and national servicemen are being integrated throughout the Australian Regular Army in a fashion which indicates, I believe, extremely good management by the Army. I think the honorable member has not read my predecessor’s speech in full, or has not given a proper interpretation of it; and to redress the balance I should like to read one paragraph from the Minister’s speech. He said -

I think it is generally agreed that the ingredients of any workable scheme -

He was speaking of the national service scheme - must be, first, two years of continuous service with the A.R.A. followed by three years on the reserve; secondly, liability for compulsory service overseas; thirdly, while on the reserve, liability to call up for war service with either A.R.A. or C.M.F. units; and, fourthly, the age of call up to be at least 20 years, so that we will have an opportunity lo get into the Services at least some of the skills that we require. This view accords with those of our military -advisers.

This was in the honorable member’s speech of August 1964 and it is a part of the speech that the honorable member to Lang ignores.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. I refer to the vast potential of our native flora, particularly in northern New South Wales and Queensland, in the production of a wide variety of valuable drugs and medicines, and to the present exploitation and large scale export of the products of this flora in the raw state. Will the Minister confer with his colleagues who are responsible for Customs and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation to determine whether the original embargo on the export, which was lifted after 1945, should now be reimposed and whether refining of these drugs should be restricted to this country?


– The embargo mentioned by the honorable member was imposed to ensure sufficient supplies to Australian manufacturers and it was lifted when it became clear that adequate supplies were available. I will be only too glad to consult with the appropriate people involved in this matter and see whether there is any justification for changing the present policy.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Defence and is supplementary to a previous question about an Anzac Medal. When the Minister states that too long a time has elapsed to justify the issue of an Anzac medal, is he aware that the Government of Belgium has issued, 51 years after the event, a medal in connection with the defence of Antwerp and that British troops who took part in that campaign have been permitted to accept the medal? When the Minister states that the issue of an Anzac medal to Australians would be unfair to the troops of other nations who served on Gallipoli, does he consider that the action of France in awarding a Gallipoli medal to French troops is unfair to Australians who also served there?


– The honorable gentleman is getting the matter a little confused. I did point out that the time which had elapsed since Gallipoli was one of the factors that militated against the issue of a Gallipoli medal under Royal Warrant. The honorable member asks whether the issue of medals by other countries would be un fair to Australians who participated in the Gallipoli campaign. I should point out that Australia has always subscribed to the British system of medals and awards. It is thought that if we depart too far from that system we will simply down grade the value of British awards. For all of these reasons it has been decided that Australia would move suitably to commemorate Anzac but not in the form of a medal, which would be difficult to arrange under Royal Warrant.

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Mr Kevin Cairns:

– I ask the Treasurer a question. Has he seen reports which foreshadow that the meeting of the Reserve Bank Board tomorrow may recommend a lowering of interest rates? If this occurs and overseas investors increase their raisings on the increasingly attractive Australian market, will the Treasurer consider the matter of preserving Australian equity in these enterprises?


– I read in one of the newspapers some speculation that the Reserve Bank would tomorrow consider the problem of altering bank interest rates. I know of no reason for that speculation. I have not been informed that this matter is now before the Reserve Bank. If any reduction of interest rates is decided upon, I assure the honorable gentleman that I will look into the problem raised in the second part of his question.

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– I should like to ask the Prime Minister a question. Is it the intention of the Government to conscript an only son for service in Vietnam? If so, is it true that self supporting parents would have no repatriation entitlement in respect of an unmarried conscript killed in the jungles of Vietnam?


– Cannot the honorable gentleman make his question a little more harrowing than that?

Mr Bryant:

– It is harrowing to be killed in the jungle.

Mr Peters:

– It would be harrowing if the Prime Minister were there.


– Order! I ask the Prime Minister to resume his seat. I point out to honorable members that question time is for the purpose of obtaining information. There have been isolated cases of honorable members continually interjecting and interrupting a Minister in his reply and encouraging him to make a long reply. Interjections are out of order.


– There is no distinction in relation to the number of members in any family. The rules relating to the ballot apply according to the age group specified. There is provision for application for deferment in the case of exceptional hardship which can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of an examining magistrate.


– Is the Minister for the Army aware that many people consider that if an age group is to be called up for national service training, the whole of this age group should be called up? Is the shortage of competent instructors one of the major reasons for the limited call-up? If so, arc efforts being made to overcome this problem?

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– Basically the size of the call-up is fixed as a result of advice which has been given to the Government and which the Government has accepted concerning the size of the standing Army which it is believed we require in the present circumstances. That size, in present circumstances, is stated to be 40.000. Since we know the number of regular servicemen in the Australian Regular Army, this dictates the number of national servicemen required. Quite clearly - I think all honorable members know this - the fairly rapid expansion of the Army has placed some strain on the numbers of instructors, non-commissioned officers and junior officers.

Some steps are being undertaken to overcome any shortages that may exist in this field. One I would mention is that national servicemen, at the beginning of each intake, are carefully examined and all those who are thought to have officer potential go to Scheyville for officer training. At the end of six months, if they pass this fairly stiff course - most are passing it - they come out as second lieutenants in the Regular Army. This is one of the things being done to over come any shortages that may exist in this field. However, I emphasise that the prime matter that governs the numbers of servicemen to be selected in any one year is the assessment of the strategic situation and the size of the Army which we believe to be required as a result.

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– I ask the Prime Minister a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Sturt. The Prime Minister will recollect that the honorable member for Sturt asked a question based on the supply by major Communist powers of $1,000 million worth of planes, tanks and warships to the Hanoi regime. Are the Vietcong using planes, tanks and warships? Does the Commonwealth Government regard itself as being in a state of armed hostility with the Hanoi regime, with the Vietcong, or with both? Is the objective of the Government to restore the Geneva Accord partitioning Vietnam or does it aim to eliminate the Hanoi regime, or has it some other aim?


– The honorable gentleman’s question invites a considerable debate, but I do not propose to engage in that. The point that I brought out earlier was that the Vietcong undoubtedly is being materially assisted by supplies of a warlike kind from various Communist sources, including Soviet Russia, Communist China and, of course, the Hanoi regime itself. At present there are at least nine regular regiments of North Vietnamese troops inside South Vietnam equipped and supplied in considerable part from the sources that I have mentioned. As to the Geneva Accord and matters of that sort, I believe that an answer could more appropriately be given by way of a written reply. The honorable gentleman knows that the objective of this Government, in common with our allies, is a negotiated settlement of the issues in South Vietnam and an honorable observance of such a settlement.


– I address a question to the Minister for Defence. I ask: To enable the country better to understand our defence commitment in South Vietman and our resistance to Communist aggression there, can the honorable gentleman confirm that during the Communist insurrection in

Malaya, which began in 1948, the Attlee Labour Government in the United Kingdom provided for national servicemen to serve in Malaya and that that insurrection was styled by the Communists and their dupes as being a civil war?


– The points set out by the honorable gentleman are indeed facts. It will be found that throughout South East Asia, and especially in Malaya and in Vietnam with respect to our own and the United States commitment, all the units concerned have contained a big proportion of national servicemen or their equivalent. The other night in this chamber during the debate on the Prime Minister’s statement, it was pointed out pretty clearly, I think, that though the war in Vietnam may be termed a civil war it is not necessarily so merely because Vietnamese are on both sides of the firing line. We in this country must adjust ourselves to the fact that what is going on in South Vietnam and throughout South East Asia today is in fact an ideological war. lt is not a civil war simply because one finds nationals of any particular country opposed to one another. The battle is between Communism, which seeks to impose its philosophy on others, and those who seek equally firmly to reject it.

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– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Is he aware that at this very moment a ship named the “ Eastern Saga “ is lying in Newcastle Harbour with a deck cargo of 750 sheep on their way from Burnie in Tasmania to Communist China? Will the wool from the offspring of these sheep be used in the manufacture of uniforms for China’s armed forces, which could be used to attack Australia? Is the sale of these valuable breeding sheep to Communist China consistent with the Government’s basic assumption in foreign policy that China is out to dominate the world and that it threatens Australia?


– I am unable to say to what purpose wool will be put in Communist China. The general attitude of this Government in relation to the sale of wool has been made clearly known. If the honorable gentleman disapproves of that policy, no doubt he will state his reasons for doing so.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Does rationalisation necessitate both Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. cancelling the overnight service from Perth on Monday nights? Is it beyond the capacity of the authorities to draw up a formula which will be equitable to both airlines and which will still provide a regular and convenient service for businessmen and others wishing to travel from Western Australia to the eastern States so early in the week?

Minister for Civil Aviation · DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · LP

– This matter of the cancellation of a service on Monday nights has already been raised with me by some of the honorable member’s colleagues and investigations are being carried out at the present time. This matter is not directly concerned with the overall rationalisation situation although it has some bearing on it. 1 can give an assurance to the honorable member that the matter of schedules generally, and particularly the services usually patronised by parliamentarians from Western Australia, have caused a degree of concern. It is not a simple matter to rectify the situation because of obvious problems in relation to peak hours, but I hope in the near future to undertake a further investigation of the whole problem and to arrive at some solution of it. I have referred the specific problem of services on Monday nights to the two airline operators concerned and I hope to have some information in the near future.

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– Yesterday the honorable member for Isaacs asked whether there had been any difficulty in the unloading and handling of food aid for India, and whether there are ways of treating shipments more expeditiously so that the food will be delivered to the places where it is most needed. I understand that the first ship carrying wheat to India under our current emergency food programme was due to reach Calcutta on Tuesday last. 22nd March. We have, therefore, as yet had no experience of the unloading and handling of the food aid that we are now sending to India. While the Indian Government does face problems in handling and distributing the large quantity of wheat entering the country each week, it is tackling those problems in a positive and constructive way and our understanding is that it expects to be able, with some assistance from overseas, to handle all the emergency food aid that it is to receive. India has asked Australia to supply, as part of this country’s gift, port handling equipment in the form of bagging and stitching plants, fork lifts and grabs. The Government is examining the availability of this equipment with a view to providing it urgently.

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– As Chairman, I present the following reports of the Public Accounts Committee -

Seventy-eighth Report - Report of the AuditorGeneral - Financial year 1964-65;

Seventy-ninth Report - Treasury minutes on the Sixty-eighth, Seventieth and Seventy-second Reports together with summaries of those reports.

I ask for leave to make a short statement.


– There being no objection, leave is granted.


– The Seventy-eighth Report relates to the report of the AuditorGeneral for the financial year 1964-65. Your Committee’s inquiry into that report was somewhat more widespread than similar inquiries conducted in recent years and included an examination of taxes written off which had not been the subject of criticism by the Auditor-General but which provided an opportunity for a thorough examination to be made of an important aspect of financial administration.

Evidence taken by your Committee from the Prime Minister’s Department and the Departments of External Affairs, Trade and Industry and Treasury has reflected a continuing unsatisfactory state of affairs in the financial arrangements at overseas posts notwithstanding previous inquiries by your Committee in this area of administration.

In the case of the Department of the Interior, your Committee was concerned to find that although it had inquired into the Parks and Gardens Section of the Department in connection with the AuditorGeneral’s report for 1962-63, little real progress has been made to rectify the problems then discovered and the Department has continued to attract criticism from the Auditor-General.

Although the matters reported on by the Auditor-General in respect of the Department of the Army had been rectified when your Committee conducted its inquiry, the irregularities reported on were of such a nature as to raise doubts in your Committee’s mind as to whether there may have been a deterioration in normal Army peace-time discipline.

The Seventy-ninth Report relates to Treasury minutes on the Sixty-eighth, Seventieth and Seventy-second Reports of your Committee. This Report shows that your Committee has re-endorsed the procedures agreed to with the Treasurer in 1954 relating to Treasury minutes and has developed, in association with the Treasurer, a refinement of those procedures whereby exploratory discussions will be held with officers of the Department of the Treasury in the case of Treasury minutes which contain recommendations not fully dealt with or which are subject to a further Treasury minute. This Report contains, in its introductory chapter, a full statement of the current mutually agreed procedures for processing, through the Treasury minute arrangements, your Committee’s recommendations arising from inquiries it has made.

I commend the reports to honorable members.

Ordered that the reports be printed.

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.- I move -

That the Commonwealth should establish a planning and constructing authority in association with the States to regulate the flow of all major river systems in Australia including the Darling River and its tributaries in Queensland and New South Wales.


– Is the motion seconded?

Mr England:

– 1 second the motion and reserve my right to speak later.


– Perhaps I should begin by explaining the terms of this motion. I have used the word “ authority “ deliberately because it is my belief that only a statutory corporation would be empowered to resist the political pressures generated by a scheme of the magnitude envisaged by this motion. Furthermore, a statutory corporation is free from the restrictions of annual budgeting which are placed upon Government departments and so is able to plan for a number of years ahead. I have also used the words “all major river systems in Australia “ because it is not the duty or the right of parliamentarians to decide that a particular river system should have priority over another. This is a matter that can be determined only by the Government, which provides the finance for constructing and regulating works, on the best advice that its experts can provide.

I should also explain that I have used the expression “ major river systems “ because it is generally agreed by engineers that river systems or river basins should be treated as single units. It is completely wasteful of men, material and money to attack the problem of the regulation of river flows in a piecemeal fashion, as has been done so often in the past by the various States. Each river basin and system must be treated as a single entity and all irrigation projects properly co-ordinated after thorough cost analyses. That is why I have used the words that appear in this motion.

Mr. Speaker, the records of the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology show that the driest part of this continent during the last 16 months has been the area largely occupied by the Darling River basin. The Darling River basin starts north of Charleville in Queensland and runs south until the Darling joins the Murray at Wentworth in New South Wales. It drains a tract of country the size of New South Wales. This area of land -covers the whole of the temperate zone of eastern Australia within reach of the coast north of the Murray system. It is an area containing one-third of Australia’s sheep population and responsible for 28 per cent, of our wheat acreage. Perhaps even more importantly, the area contains more than 50 per cent, of the sheep population and 25 per cent, of the cattle population of New South Wales and Queensland and is responsible for more than 50 per cent, of the wheat acreages of those States. It therefore has a great contribution to make to the wealth of Australia, in particular to the two States so badly afflicted by the drought at the present time.

This is an area that is suffering from the most grievous drought we have ever encountered in Australia. Reports from the Bureau of Meteorology show that the last 16 months have been driest on record for areas within the Darling River basin. Other districts report that this is the driest period they have encountered since the great drought of 1901-02. The suffering and losses caused by the present drought are not yet over. Unfortunately, in the north of New South Wales and the south-west of Queensland we cannot yet see the end of the drought. Farmers are apprehensive about their prospects of getting in next season’s crop of wheat. Graziers are apprehensive about the prospects of further growth of pastures or herbage. If general widespread rains are delayed much longer - by that I mean a matter of two or three weeks - we will have no further growth of pastures and we can write off our next season’s harvest of wheat in this area. We have already lost, in the death of stock directly due to the drought, including losses from forced slaughter, and in the failure of last season’s wheat harvest, more than twice the amount of money that we have put into the much vaunted Snowy Mountains scheme. This is already an established figure.

Our losses will continue. They will not be confined to primary producers. They will extend, as they have extended, to secondary and tertiary industry. The losses are extending now to the cities. They will spread throughout the economy of Australia. This is something that cannot be laughed off. We cannot digest this fact easily in a country so short of capita] and growing so fast. This drought is the greatest tragedy that has happened to Australia since the great drought of 1901-02. In fact, taking into account our great ambitions for development and growth, one may say that the present drought is even more serious than was the drought in 1901-02.

This drought need not have happened. Although we could not have made rain fall, we could have done much more than we have done in the past to mitigate the effects of the present drought. We could have avoided the cost of hauling fodder nearly 1,000 miles from Victoria to northern New South Wales. Stock deaths could have been avoided. The forced slaughtering of stock could have been avoided. The loss of valuable and, in some cases, priceless breeding stock could have been avoided if a co-ordinated water scheme had been devised and put into operation before the drought started. It was calculated in 1879 - this has never been controverted - by the Government Astronomer of New South Wales that if all the rain that fell in the Darling catchment ran down the Darling, it would be running a banker throughout the year. At Bourke it would be running in a stream 200 feet deep and 200 feet wide at the rate of about three miles an hour. Obviously that water is going somewhere. lt is not all being evaporated. We have discovered only in recent times that that water is going along the old river beds very close to the surface in huge volumes.

This is where I turn to the prettier side of the picture, because it is not all a story of desolation and loss in the Darling River basin. The Darling River system traverses immensely rich tracts of country. The black soil plains in north-western New South Wales, with which 1 am so familiar, cover an area of about 20 million acres,’ all of which could be irrigated if we had sufficient water. The soil is deep, rich, self-mulching and black, akin to the soils of the Nile delta. In fact, the only difference is that in our system in north-western New South Wales and southern Queensland we do not have a Nile running above the surface. But despite this fact of nature we know that we have very large reservoirs of water just beneath the surface which can be tapped. These stores of water have not been tapped to any great extent for several reasons. The first is that the people who moved into the western area adopted a particular farming or pastoral philosophy. Knowing that the seasons were so variable, they budgeted from year to year, When they had a surplus they returned some of it to the banks or into improvements of their properties. There was no serious attempt at long range planning over any wide scale. Of course, the bank overdraft system that operated at that time favoured that particular type of land usage. Nor did governments help. Even today the underground river systems in north-western New South Wales have not been charted or mapped. Nobody knows their extent or where they are. It is due only to experiments by individuals that we know they are so high yielding and so vast in extent.

My proposal hinges on three main points. The first is that it is possible to droughtproof this large tract of Australia, inasmuch as droughtproofing can be made possible by engineering processes and by the application of capital. It would be possible to raise the wealth of production from this area to incredible heights through the application of science and more capital and through a better use of our water resources. A dam was built on the Namoi, one of the tributaries of the Darling. It took the State Government 20 years to build that dam. I do not blame the State Government entirely for that fact, because the war intervened, but the delay added to the cost of the dam. The Keepit Dam cost £15 million and it was opened in 1960. Immediately thereafter some cotton farmers from America, following on experiments with cotton in the area by an agronomist in the Narrabri-Wee Waa district, came out and established 65 acres of cotton. This district now accounts for 75 per cent, of Australia’s cotton production and 50 per cent, of our needs, and there is no reason why it could not supply all of Australia’s cotton requirements. This could be done if water were guaranteed, if more dams were built and if a proper use were made of the water conserved in the Keepit Dam.

I point out - without blaming anyone - that full use was not made of the waters of the Keepit Dam this year because a large volume of its storage was released immediately prior to the drought. However, this year this area, dependent on stored water from the Keepit Dam, will supply 75 per cent, of Australia’s cotton production. The quality of the cotton is fully comparable with the best that is produced in America, although we are using seed that is produced in Australia and have encountered all the handicaps and problems that one encounters in introducing and establishing a new industry into virgin country. However, when one compares the cost of the Keepit Dam with the yield in the last five years from this one industry one finds that the dam has already been paid for in increased wealth, in import savings and in the return to the cotton growers. To be quite fair, a proportion - perhaps as much as one third - of the money paid to the cotton growers has come from the Commonwealth bounty.

We can look at other industries that have been fostered as a result of the construction of this storage dam. Although at this stage it is impossible to calculate their worth in hard cash we can see a turnoff in fat stock, the maintenance of large flocks and the production of fodder. All along the Namoi below the Keepit Dam production has increased to such an extent that it fully compensates for the bounty that has been paid to the cotton growers. In total, the cost of the . Keepit Dam has been met in five years through diversified forms of production and through the monoculture of the cotton growers. I claim that exactly the same results or better would follow the construction of large regulating dams on the headwaters of all the other streams that feed the Darling system.

One must start with headwater works before proceeding with work further downstream. The construction of headwater dams enables water to be released to maintain a flow in the river. This in turn keeps the gravel beds of the aquifers full and enables farmers far removed from the river to draw water from shallow bores and to carry out small irrigation projects. There are instances in the pastoral industry where one acre of irrigated pasture surrounded by dry land and carrying a small amount of food has carried 100 sheep. As many as 4,000 sheep can be carried on 35 acres of irrigated pasture in dry land. The prospects that open before us from making an investment in controlling the waters that flow down the Darling River system are really fantastic. We could settle, on immensely productive small areas, men growing a variety of crops. The whole economy of the area would change. Instead of the year to year budgeting that we have had in the past we would have long term planning. We would have stability. We would bring security, comfort and added wealth to an increasing number of people living in the western parts of New South Wales and Queensland.

I have already mentioned droughtproofing and the heavy costs that droughts impose on us periodically in Australia - costs that could be avoided - and I have referred to the increased wealth that woud flow from a small investment in regulating dams and weirs, but I have yet to mention one other factor, namely, that throughout this area we already have heavy capital investment, both public and private. We have invested in railways, roads, electric power services and telephone services. We have, in embryo, at least, ali the secondary and tertiary industries that are needed to make this district grow, develop and progress. This investment is there now. We are not starting off in some foreign part of Australia where there is nothing and where we would be starting from scratch.

Mr Cross:

– Foreign?


– When I say “ foreign part of Australia “ I mean an area that is so remote from markets and from centres of industry that it is virtually foreign. In the Darling River basin we have an area that is the hinterland of the great population centres of Australia. It is close to markets ani it is already served by the facilities I have mentioned. All that we need to make this vision of additional wealth, additional population and more security come true is initiative and drive and the small additional amount of finance that would be required to regulate the river systems flowing into and down the Darling. This will never be done unless the Commonwealth Government acts - unless the Commonwealth takes the initiative. This will never be done unless we devise for this particular purpose a type of authority similar to those which we have put into operation in the past, such as those concerned with the Murray Valley, the Blowering Dam and the Menindee Lakes. We have a great deal of experience with statutory corporations dealing with the construction, maintenance and financing of water regulating systems. If we leave it to the States, or even if we provide money for the States to farm out for these projects, nothing will be done. Of this, I am quite certain. In 1945, the New South Wales Parliament passed an Act to provide for the construction of 40 weirs down the Darling system. Only four of those weirs have been constructed in over 20 years. In 1947, the Barwon-Dumaresque agreement was entered into between Queensland and New South Wales. Nothing was done by New South Wales. Only two weirs were built by Queensland, and that is all that will be done so long as we leave it to the States to handle the more remote reproductive works. The States are not interested in giving a high priority to reproductive investment of this nature.

The Commonwealth has an obligation to take the initiative in doing this job. Indeed, it has more than an obligation to do the job. If it has any sense of responsibility, if it has any sense of awareness of the growing needs of Australia for foodstuffs, it has an absolute duty to do it. With our rate of expansion in Australia, our demand for foodstuffs will increase by two-thirds within the next 30 years. We are obliged to undertake water conservation to meet our own needs, apart from the production of any surplus for export. At one time, the slogan was that Australia should populate or perish. Now that we are more aware of the true situation, now that we are more aware of the fact that, no matter how great our immigration intake may be, no matter how great our natural birthrate may be, the population of Australia will always be relatively small by comparison with that of other countries, we should adopt the slogan that Australia must produce or perish. We must increase the wealth of Australia. We must find new ways of creating wealth so that Australia may become stronger, so that she may maintain her independence and so that her voice may be more powerful in the affairs of the world. We must produce or perish, lt is this Government’s responsibility to set in motion the machinery that will stabilise, sustain and lay the foundation for the progress of Australia’s greatest industries - her primary industries - in the Darling River basin, an area which is most amenable to the application of technology and capital, and an area that will give us the greatest and surest return for our investment.


.- I move -

That the following words be added to the motion - “ and should incorporate the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority’s investigation, design and construction teams in the proposed Authority “.

I listened with some degree of satisfaction to the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) because apparently he and his colleagues in the Country Party agree that water conservation not only should have urgent priority but is a national responsibility. The only point on which I join issue with him is that the whole of his speech was devoted to the Darling River and its tributaries whereas I think the motion itself is directed in principle to all the major rivers in Australia. The honorable member will have to realise, I think, that he will have a tough row to hoe in getting his Government to agree to suggestions of this type. The Labour Party, of course, has been putting forward an identical proposal for years.

I shall refer to some of the problems confronting the honorable member in persuading his Government to agree. Firstly - I have mentioned this matter on previous occasions - I remind him of the most recent announcement to the public by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) with respect to Queensland’s potential and particularly as this includes the southern Queensland area which includes the area about which the honorable member has spoken. The Treasurer stated that the rural industries had a greater potential than the secondary industries. In particular, he mentioned brigalow and spear grass. The Government has backed the development of the brigalow lands. That is a very good project. We still do not know very much about the economics of developing the spear grass country, but there is no doubt in my mind that the Treasurer is right in his predictions about spear grass. I am certain that development of this land, too, will prove to be a very good project once we gain more knowledge of the economics of spreading fertiliser on it.

The Treasurer made no mention whatsoever of water. In other words, the Treasurer is of the opinion that northern New South Wales, and southern, central and northern Queensland have no potential in terms of the marriage of water and land resources. Let us contrast all this with the opinion of a man who I consider knows something about this subject. I refer to the late Director-General of Primary Industries in Queensland, Mr. Stuart Sloan, who presented a paper to the Water Symposium in Rockhampton last year. In that paper, he said -

Because of our limited water resources, I believe we will never regret building well located irrigation schemes, using suitable soils and good quality water, irrespective of what the economists may say. If this generation does nut find it economic to build large water storages, the next generation will have to do it for survival.

I think the honorable member for Gwydir will agree with that. I most certainly do. Let me also illustrate another reason why the honorable member is going to have a problem in convincing the Government of the need for this most urgent proposal. The Minister for National Development, in his speech yesterday, referred to the plight of the farmers in northern New South Wales. However, he then attempted to humiliate me by inferring that in my electorate it was green and lush. I wish to inform the Minister that the monsoons have failed for the seventh year in a row. Although the sugar cane might look green from the air, if he dug down six or seven inches he would find that now, in March, there is no subsoil moisture there.

If he goes into the electorate of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), Fisher, he will find a more serious situation in some areas than there is in Dawson. But despite the fact that if has been proven that water conservation has enabled the stable establishment of industries in similar areas, the Minister for National Development still refuses to accept the fact that’ a very large proportion of production could be saved if only the farmers in the areas which the honorable member for Gwydir mentioned could be given water. I can instance one of the most outstanding examples in this respect and that is the Wallavilie-Isis area near Bundaberg where because of the failure last year of adequate underground water and the inability to store surface water the sugar mill was bankrupted and had to be taken over by another company. This was due almost entirely to lack of water. The Minister said that it was no good putting dams on the coast if Bourke was so many’ miles away. I have never advocated such a system. In my first speech in this House, I clearly defined two areas. One was the arid and semi-arid regions where not much could be done with respect to large scale water conservation. There the problem is to provide small storages^ to regulate the flow of the tributaries, and to provide a practical system of credit and transport in order to be able to alleviate the hardships of producers. But it is in the semi-high or high rainfall areas that the greatest potential for increased production exists. These are tha areas about which I have been speaking mainly and these are the areas about which the honorable member for Gwydir mainly spoke.

The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), in a most remarkable .md characteristic speech, said that he was most disappointed with mine. Well, that is usual for a person such as the honorable member for Wakefield, who has the reputation of being the biggest knocker in this House in relation to developmental schemes. In fact, the honorable member is called “ Knocker Kelly “ in many places. He challenged me and said, for example, that it was all nonsense-

Mr Ian Allan:

– I rise to order. Is the honorable member in order in referring to a debate which has taken place previously? Are we debating yesterday’s motion again today?


– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The honorable member for Dawson is in order. He can refer to another debate to substantiate the point he makes in this debate.


– What I was trying to say was that the honorable member for Wakefield inferred that every dam in Australia is uneconomic. He challenged anybody to produce evidence to the contrary. But the honorable member for Gwydir produced such evidence with respect to the Keepit Dam. I suggest that the honorable member for Wakefield should look at his economics in the light of what the honorable member for Gwydir said.

Mr Robinson:

– The honorable member is twisting his facts.


– I am not twisting anything. This is what he said. Another point which the honorable member for Wakefield said was that it was nonsense to bring the investigational staff of the Snowy Mountains Authority into such areas as northern New South Wales and Queensland. The honorable member said that we had to have soil surveys and so forth. I agree with those remarks, but we were not speaking about that matter. We were talking about areas where there are serious losses facing established industries, as the honorable member for Gwydir said. All they need is water. This is what we were speaking about. The economics of the enterprises have been invesigated and soil surveys have been made. This was done 50 or 100 years ago. It is a question of providing water to these established areas and not to the new areas as the honorable member for Wakefield suggested. These are proven areas. I agree that it is important that there should be proper research and investigation, both economically and scientifically, before we go into new areas. I agree entirely with that and no person can ever point to any publication or statement that I have ever made in which I have said anything to the contrary. I am concerned with this problem as a matter of urgency. I am sure that the honorable member for Gwydir is also. I am speaking about these areas where have occurred high losses which we know could be saved if we had proper storages. These are the crucial problem areas today.

Similarly, with northern New South Wales and South Queensland. In the Esk and Eidsvold areas, there is a drought at the present time yet, three months ago, water was flowing down rivers on which exist practical dam sites. There would be dams there if the Queensland Government could get the funds to build them. I refer also to the Burnett River as far west as the Brigalow area, the Pioneer River, the Broken River, the Eungella, the Burdekin River and the Herbert River. These are the established areas in which these big losses have taken place or are taking place today. Then there is the underdeveloped areas of the Gulf country - the Flinders, the Mitchell, the Leichhardt, across into the Northern Territory to the Adelaide and Daly rivers, parts of the Ord and the Fitzroy. These are the underdeveloped areas where we have to carry out research. This is the type of work which a conservation authority would carry out in conjunction with construction teams. It would require engineers, geologists, hydrologists and surveyors - people trained to carry out investigations Ik association with the other physical scientists in the fields of soil, climate and economics. In turn, a system of priorities would be established.

But first and foremost I believe that we have to solve the problems in the areas today where the crises are developing. I agree entirely with the honorable member for Gwydir that a crisis has occurred in northern New South Wales. I listened carefully to the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes). It was obvious to me that he was embarrassed, being a member of the Country Party. I read his speech again this morning. There is really nothing in it to comment on because he did not talk about Queensland or the need for water conservation in that State. Certainly, he spoke of what had been done during the 39 years in which a Labour Government was in power in Queensland, but he did not attempt to justify anything which the Commonwealth Government had done in its period of reign. I want to say for the record that this Government has not given the Queensland Government one penny for water conservation - not one penny-despite the fact that Queensland is potentially, in terms of water and underdeveloped soils, the richest State of the Commonwealth.

As honorable members know, the Australian Labour Party feels very strongly about the Snowy Mountains Authority. I would say that a large number of people outside the Labour Party also feel strongly about that organisation. The Minister for National Development stated, when referring to the Snowy Mountains Authority, that he had never seen a more active death bed. I accept the point that with respect to the design and construction sections of the Authority it has work to do and will be fully occupied for a number of years to come. But I am concerned with this highly important investigational section which will be a vital part of a water conservation authority such as the honorable member for Gwydir has suggested. It comprises a team of people trained in this particular field of water development. They are experts in this field and they work as a fully co-ordinated team. It is no good having a civil engineer only go along to a dam site and make a decision. He must have his supporting staff - his surveyors and hydrologists, for example. They are the people who can add most to the scientific investigation from the practical point of view.

I should like the Minister for. National Development to review the position of the investigational section of the Snowy Mountains Authority to see whether it could in fact undertake a very large proportion of the urgent work that is needed in all these areas. I know he has said that he is already doing this; but despite the constitutional aspects governing the Snowy Mountains Authority I find it extremely difficult to understand why this Government will not give the Premier of Queensland and the Premier of New South Wales, if they want it, the assistance of the staff of the investigational section of the Snowy Mountains Authority to help the State departments in investigating water resources.

Mr Brimblecombe:

– If the Premier of New South Wales wants it.


– I am not quite sure who interjected, but I can assure him that the Premier of Queensland certainly wants this assistance. He has publicly stated on several occasions that he wants the assistance of the Snowy Mountains Authority. There are many areas, for example in the Fitzroy basin, that could profitably utilize the skills of the investigational staff of the Snowy Mountains Authority but the Queensland Government has no finance to pay for it. It is almost unbelieveable that at the height of the drought the Burnett area received the assistance of the investigational section of the Snowy Mountains Authority and the district was then asked to pay £10,000, despite the fact that the farmers were almost on their knees as a result of the drought. That seems to me to be a very poor way of looking at development.

On the question of whether the staff of the Snowy Mountains Authority is satisfied, 1 refer the Minister for National Development to a statement made by Mr. G. L. Walker, the General Secretary of the Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draftsmen of Australia, in which he made quite clear what the staff of the Snowy Mountains Authority thought of the delay in making a positive decision on its future. He listed fact after fact to prove his contention that this Government is deliberately adopting a policy of disintegration. I hope that statements of that sort are wrong. I have made similar statements and I hope that they are wrong also, because I think that this Authority should be given every opportunity and every en couragement to work in conjunction with the States, if the States want this, on water conservation in Australia.

I should like in the remaining few minutes to say one thing about some of the rivers which the honorable member for Gwydir mentioned. There are many rivers in Australia which, based on technical information, we can forget about for the time being. I do not agree with some engineers who, because they see a lot of water flowing down a river, say: “This is a good place to build a dam “. The most important thing is to make a proper overall physical and realistic economic assessment. For example areas like the north Kimberleys with the King Edward, Drysdale and Carson rivers areas have been thoroughly investigated from a land classification point of view. In these sandstone areas there will be limited scope for development unless technology is able to solve some of the inherent problems. So in considering what can be done with all rivers we certainly must adopt very sensible priorities based on a realistic approach to the economics of production.


– Is the amendment seconded?

Mr Whitlam:

– I second the amendment and I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.

Minister for National Development · Farrer · LP

– We owe a debt of gratitude to the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) for bringing this matter up for discussion in the House. He painted a picture of the tragedy of prolonged droughts, and made suggestions for overcoming some of the tragic losses. The honorable member for Gwydir mentioned the 1901-02 drought. I, of course, was not old enough to remember it, but I do have a vivid recollection of my grandfather telling me stories about this drought. At that time he held very large areas in central Queensland. I believe that before the drought commenced he had about H million sheep. Needless to say, at the end of the drought he did not have the same number. One point which I think is worth remembering on this aspect of droughts flows from something he said to me. Referring to the drought he said: “At least we did not do too badly because we were reasonably close to the railway and by droving sheep and getting them on to trucks we were able to send them down to Rockhampton where they were boiled down, and we got a few pence for them “.

I ask the House to excuse me if I digress and reminisce on this subject. I can remember when 1 first came into this House, the late William Morris Hughes came up to me and told me of one occasion when he undertook to drove some sheep for my grandfather. This was at an earlier period than the one I have just mentioned, but it was during a pretty dry period. He said that they set off with 60,900 sheep, which were duly counted. They were wethers. After travelling about 50 miles they came to the first fence. There were not too many gates or fences then. They counted the sheep through and found that they had lost 1,000. He said: “ It did not matter, because they bred up and I delivered the right number “. I must apologise for digressing. Unfortunately, droughts are one of the things that are always with us in the Australian economy. We must realise that we have had severe droughts in the past and that we are likely to have them again in the future and we have to do everything we can to try to minimise the damage which occurs through them.

There is one thing on which I will not say I disagree with the honorable member for Gwydir, but I do not place the same emphasis on it as he and the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) do. I refer to storage of water. I think that the most important way to combat droughts is not through large irrigation schemes. In some cases these schemes are completed for the purpose of increasing production, maybe, in some areas, of fruit for canning, or of dried fruits. In other areas the dams may be for the purpose of producing fat lambs. When a drought hits an area the farmers are anxious to conserve all the water they can for the stock they have on their irrigated farms and there is very little water left over for the production of fodder for sale in the enormous area that surrounds these relatively small irrigation centres. I do not think that water storage schemes make a major contribution to meeting the needs of a whole broad area. I see them more as a means of increasing national wealth, and from that point of view everyone here is anxious to see these schemes prosecuted to the utmost extent. When a drought occurs the major responsibility for action rests on the farmer himself. The Government is giving a considerable amount of help to farmers.

In areas where pasture improvement can be undertaken, there is no doubt that a certain amount of rain falling on the Land will produce four or five times as much good as the same amount of rain falling on unimproved land. However, I again qualify this by stressing that this effect is obtained only in areas where pasture improvement is possible and not in the dry, remote areas outback. There is obviously a need for individual farmers to undertake much of this work themselves. I was glad to hear yesterday from the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) that the Queensland Government offers assistance to farmers for farm water storage. The present New South Wales Government, which places a very much higher priority on water storage than its predecessor did, has a similar scheme. It recently increased the size of an advisory service that is available to farmers. This service offers instruction on the construction of dams. It recently opened five new centres - at Bega, Albury, Forbes, Taree and Bourke. The number of applications for assistance has trebled. In the past 9 months, 2,100 landowners have been given advice by the organisation. I speak as one who in the earlier days, after seeing the ravages of drought in my area, sought some assistance from this organisation. I have built a small farm water dam which holds some 17 million gallons and from which I can irrigate about 35 acres of lucerne. It may not be very much, but there are times when anything is more than was available before.

Mr Ian Allan:

– There was a delay of two years for this service before the present New South Wales Government came into office.


– That is correct. The State Minister has arranged for the experts to work overtime. I believe that they are now working six days a week, and very full days at that. They have been able to catch up on the applications that were previously languishing. Of course, hand in hand with this must go the availability of finance - finance for farm dam construction and for fodder conservation. The Government has already announced that, as well as trying to find finance for people who have been affected by drought, it is also setting up long term farm loans and term loans that will assist country people. One other way in which the effect of drought can be mitigated to a certain extent is, as I mentioned earlier, by good transport facilities. No government has done as much as this Government has to improve roads and transport facilities in Australia. When we came to office, the States were receiving £9 million a year under the Commonwealth aid roads arrangement. Today they are receiving £75 million a year. Above this, we have spent £23 million or £24 million on the construction of special beef cattle roads in the north.

Let me come back to the subject of water. Again I disagree slightly with the honorable member for Gwydir. He said that if the provision of water is left to the States nothing will ever be done. As I pointed out yesterday when we were discussing a similar subject, the capacity of major storages in Australia has increased from 6.8 million acre feet in 1939 to 25.5 million acre feet today and will be 36 million acre feet when storages now under construction are completed. Of course, people will say: “This is not enough. We ought to have more.” We arc used in this place to hearing people say: “ We ought to have more water. More money should be spent on roads. We ought to have more schools.” Of course, we would all like to have these things. But I would give a very high priority to water. I would like to see more money spent on water conservation. However, this does depend on the States. Constitutionally, they have the authority and what is done depends very much on the calibre of the State Government. We know the tragic history of the New South Wales Government, which could start an opera house, and, as I pointed out yesterday, could dig a hole at a cost of £300,000 and then spend another £600,000 to fill it in. It is tragic that money of this sort is wasted when so much could be done if a higher priority were given to water.

Let us look at what has happened. The Glenbawn Dam was started in 1946 and the estimated cost then was £1,500,000. It was eventually completed in 1958. Admit tedly, some alterations have been mailt and it is about double the original size, but it cost £13 million and not £1,500,000. Burrendong Dam was started in 1946 a: an estimated cost of £2 million. It has not been completed yet, but it has cost £18,500,000 and it is thought that when it’ is finished, which should be this year, 4, cost will be very close to £20 million. Keepit Dam was started in 1938 and finished 20 years later. The estimated cost when it was started was £1,340,000 but by the time it was finished 20 years later it had cost more than £11 million. It is tragi: to see what has happened in New South Wales. Either by bad luck or by bad management, or by a combination of the two, there have been three major failures of dams. In one, a bank washed away completely and two others had to be almost completely reconstructed. Of course, had it not been for this, water storage in New South Wales would have been a good deal larger than it is.

As I said yesterday, the Commonwealth gives considerable help in the provision of water storages in Australia. It helps through the River Murray Commission, where it finds a quarter of the money spent. In addition, it found the money for the share of the Chowilla Dam that was to be borne by New South Wales. The Commonwealth provided a loan repayable over a fairly long period so that this very necessary major project could go ahead. It will be the largest dam in Australia when it is completed. The Commonwealth has found half the cost to New South Wales of the Blowering Dam. It has found all the money for the Snowy Mountains scheme, on which £280 million has been spent so far. It is true that this scheme produces electricity, but it has also turned inland two million acre feet of water that was flowing out to the sea. One of the great actions of the Commonwealth was to set up the Water Resources Council. It has provided about £500,000 a year to enable the Council to assess the resources of the States so that they will know where the dams that are sought should be built. It is interesting to note that the previous New South Wales Government did not take up the full amount of matching grant that was available to it It did not provide sufficient money to attract the matching grant from the Commonwealth. I mention in passing the Western Australian comprehensive water scheme, flood mitigation in northern New South Wales and the Ord diversion dam. The Commonwealth has helped considerably by finding money for these projects.

Mr Cross:

– Has the Commonwealth done anything in Queensland?


– Of course, we have carried out investigations there at the request of the Queensland Government. I was interested to hear the honorable member for Dawson say today- I was not t-“>o clear that he said it yesterday - that he agreed that some investigation and some research should be undertaken before major projects were commenced. It is tragic to think of what often happens when people plunge into a project before full investigations of all the resources are completed. W; know what happened just before the Opposition went out of office. It made a great splash by firing a charge in the Snowy Mountains to show that it had started the Snowy Mountains scheme. What we do not hear so rauch about is the fact that they fired off the charge 4-) miles upstream from where the dam was eventually built. So there is no plaque where the charge was set off because it is now under water. Further, they started building the public works camp on the wrong site and it haJ to be moved at a later date. So we want to have full investigations.

Let me show what is happening in Queensland where one scheme, which was regarded quite highly by the State, was put to the Commonwealth which asked the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to carry out a survey. I refer to the Nogoa scheme in the Emerald area. After a considerable period of investigation the Bureau of Agricultural Economics said -

The inevitable conclusion from the analysis presented in this report is that, based on the relationship between estimated future benefits and costs, this project is not a payable proposition from the national point of view. It should be emphasised, however, that many assumptions made in this analysis are based on inadequate data. Although these assumptions are considered reasonable, it would be worthwhile to check them under conditions prevailing at Emerald: The Bureau therefore supports the establishment of a pilot farm in the area for this purpose.

Surely this is the right way to go about it. I was disappointed to hear the honorable member for Dawson attack my colleague, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), who yesterday, in a very reasoned speech, pointed out the need for a very full and thorough investigation before millions of pounds are thrown into various schemes. I agree with the honorable member for Dawson that in any irrigation scheme “/e should not make the farmer pay for the cost of the headworks, but to the best of my knowledge this has never occurred. I thoroughly agree with the honorable member for Wakefield that we should not rush into schemes of major importance such as this. It is not only a case of building a dam; that is probably the easiest aspect of it. What is required is a thorough investigation o! soils, of land usage and of the markets for what will be produced in the area. This is what is being undertaken with urgency at the present moment. Consequently, I welcome the opportunity that I have had of speaking on this motion today.


.- I compliment the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) on the idea behind his motion and the manner in which he put it. We on this side of the House support the whole of the idea that he has put. It would seem to me that the facts that he gave, both as to the potential of the Darling River and the way we harness it, are well founded. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) made some statements which I cannot applaud so wholeheartedly. I regret that he repeated some of the arguments that he gave yesterday. I will concede that he was more gracious today to the proposals made by the honorable member for Gwydir than he was yesterday to those made by the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson). Because the Minister has repeated the arguments I must direct some attention to them. New South Wales has more water conserved and available for rural pursuits than the rest of Australia. This has mainly come about during the regime of the McKell Government and subsequent Labour governments.

The Minister referred to some matters of history. Any impartial student of Australian history would concede that Mr.

McKell was the most conservation minded head of government in Australia since Alfred Deakin. He put in hand many practicable schemes for conserving water. One must also concede in the same connection that he has certainly been the most conservation minded head of a State government that Australia has ever had as regards soil. The Government that he headed was the first one which really put in train steps to curb erosion. Let me refer to the precise dams.


– Order! As it is now two hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the House, the debate is interrupted.

Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) agreed to -

That the time for discussion of notices be extended until 12.45 p.m.


– Before the First World War the only major dam commenced in New South Wales was Burrinjuck. Between the two wars the only major one was Wyangala. The Labour Government which came into office in 1941 enlarged both Burrinjuck and Wyangala and it commenced and completed dams at Keepit, Glenbawn, Burrendong and the Menindee Lakes. As I have said, more water is conserved for rural purposes in New South Wales than in the rest of Australia and Labour governments have been responsible for storing at least 80 per cent of the water so conserved. I refer merely to water for rural purposes; I completely leave out the construction of dams for the metropolitan water supply where the Sydney supply is twice that of all other metropolitan areas combined. Despite the great increase in industrial and domestic demand, the position there now is very much better than was the case a quarter of a century ago when the Labour Government was elected.

The Minister, with somewhat less relevance, referred once again to a large hole in the ground. Presumablyhe was referring to the extensions to the New South Wales underground railway system. Sydney has, due to Labour governments, a very good underground system. The next largest city in Australia, Melbourne, is only still considering the institution of these holes in the ground, by which term the Minister for National Development describes underground railway systems.

The Minister, much more faintly than used to be the case, referred to constitutional difficulties in conservation. It is only about five years ago that Country Party Ministers were stoutly asserting that it was impossible for the Commonwealth to do anything about water conservation and saying that it was an intrusion by the Federal Government to attempt to do anything in this regard. This was despite the fact that there had been, ever since 1915, River Murray Waters Acts, that there had been in 1948, under a Labour government, a Western Australia Grant (Water Supply) Act, and since 1949, again at the instigation of Labour governments, there had been successive Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Acts and Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority Acts. I recall that you, Mr. Speaker, had to put out the former Minister for Social Services, who is the present Ambassador to Ireland, for stoutly maintaining the proposition that the Commonwealth had no business in helping the States to conserve water. It was only three years ago that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), as he now is, was saying that the Commonwealth had no right to help in flood mitigation on coastal rivers in New South Wales.

The Labour Party has consistently asserted that the Commonwealth Government has the power and the obligation to help in water conservation, flood mitigation and the reticulation of water supplies in the country. It has been due to our pressure that in the last three years there have been the following Acts: the Blowering Water Storage Works Agreement Act, the Menindee Lakes Storage Agreement Act and the Chowilla Reservoir Agreement Act, all passed in 1963, and the New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Act and the States Grants (Water Resources) Act, both passed in 1964. There has never been any doubt that under sections 96, 98 or 100 of the Constitution it has been possible for the Commonwealth to take the initiative in water conservation. In the United States of America the direct Federal constitutional powers to regulate the flow and the use of water are greater than they are in this country. In the expenditure of money, however, the Australian Federal Government has much greater powers than the Federal Government in the United States of America,

Canada or West Germany - the other great Federal systems.

The honorable member for Gwydir very properly pointed out that it is not only physically possible to droughtproof most areas of Australia, particularly New South Wales and Queensland which are at present suffering from droughts, but also constitutionally possible, and that it can be done only if the Commonwealth takes the initiative. In the water reticulation scheme in Western Australia, in the proposals for the waters of the River Murray, the Snowy Mountains scheme, the Blowering and Chowilla Dams, the Menindee Lakes and the coastal rivers, the initiative has been taken by the Commonwealth. Nothing would have been done about any of these proposals, as the honorable member for Gwydir has rightly said, if the Commonwealth had not taken the responsibility.

The Commonwealth has taken the initiative, where desirable, after consultation with the States. In respect of the Blowering and Chowilla Dams, agreements were made between the Commonwealth and New South Wales and these were the basis of the specific enactments that were passed by this Parliament. Associated with the Chowilla Dam, there were the already existing ancillary arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia under the River Murray Waters Act. The same three States and the Commonwealth drew up the Menindee Lakes Storage Agreement. The acts relating to the Snowy Mountains Scheme passed in recent years have been passed after consultation with New South Wales and Victoria and, in one instance, after consultation also with South Australia. The States Grants (Water Resources) Act provides for grants to all six States - Tasmania as well as the five mainland ones. It is quite clear that if this droughtproofing, which is physically possible, is ever to be undertaken it will be undertaken on the Commonwealth’s initiative. One of the most valuable things that the honorable member for Gwydir did in his contribution today was to assert and prove this.

I deplore the parochial attitudes based on State rights and State jealousies that enter so often into debates such as this. The State boundaries were drawn up in

Britain more than 100 years ago, at a time when the courses of our rivers were not always known and when the flows of our streams were merely guessed at. The State boundaries have no relation whatever to Australia’s physical features, whether they be mountains or rivers, to any means of communication or to the inter-relation of population and of rural and industrial activities.

Mr Peters:

– Why should the Riverina not be part of Victoria?


– Some people say that it ought to be a separate State. I rather incline to that view. Water will not be conserved in the Riverina and road and railway access from there to the coast will not be improved unless the Commonwealth takes the initiative. As the Minister for National Development would know, the whole taxing scheme for the raising of revenue for roads has certainly changed since the years which he cited. The whole position was changed by decisions given by the High Court of Australia and the Privy Council in 1954 and 1955. So, as is the case with roads and railways, in water conservation nothing will now be done unless there is Commonwealth initiative.

Reference has been made to Queensland as well as New South Wales. The Darling River - our longest stream - has tributaries in Queensland as well as in New South Wales. Before the 1963 general election for the House of Representatives, the Premier and the Minister for Local Government and Conservation in Queensland and the Minister for Conservation in New South Wales were engaged with the Prime Minister of that time in considering proposals for a scheme for the border rivers planned on the lines of the Snowy Mountains Scheme. Once the election was safely over, the whole scheme was dumped and it seems now to have been forgotten. It is clear that in 1963 the State authorities wanted the scheme which the honorable member for Gwydir has made the subject of his motion today.

The great disappointment which most honorable members will find in the contribution to this debate made this morning by the Minister for National Development is that yet again he has avoided any commitment on the future of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. The

Australian Labour Party proposed the discussion of this subject as a matter oi public importance last October and again yesterday. Today, we have proposed as an amendment to the motion an addendum suggesting the use of Snowy Mountains Authority teams in the works proposed. Can anybody doubt that the skilled teams required to carry out these works are already in existence in the Authority? It is not sufficient to say that the skilled employees of the Authority will be used somewhere in Australia or, if an appropriate request to the Commonwealth Government is made, in Bougainville, Cambodia or Thailand, or in the service of Mount Isa Mines Ltd. The great value of the employees rests in their corporate capacity - in the work which they can do as teams. This is work which has never been done so well in Australia before. It is the kind of work for which nearly every State Government has sought assistance from the Authority. When this Authority was established, the Commonwealth had to pay the United States Federal Bureau of Reclamation to design the first dams. The investigation work of the Snowy Mountains Authority’s teams has now finished. The work of the design teams will finish in two years time. The work of the construction teams will end in nine years time.

Obviously, there is work to be done in Australia on the Darling and its tributaries in Queensland and New South Wales and certainly on all the rivers along the east coast of Australia. South Australia and Western Australia, except for the northern part of Western Australia, are more thirsty for water than are the eastern States. So there is work for the Snowy Mountains Authority’s teams. This is work which is done best by these teams. But the Minister for National Development has still made no disclosure about what is to happen to the Authority. I know that sometimes jealousy exists or is promoted in some of the State departments dealing with works and conservation. These departments in New South Wales and Victoria are more fully equipped and more expertly manned now than they were before the Snowy Mountains Authority was established. This Authority has convinced all Governments in Australia of how much can and should be done in investigation, design and construction by skilled teams. There is no doubt of the attitude of members of the Australian Labour Party concerning the future of the Snowy Mountains Authority and the skilled teams which it already has at its disposal. I am reassured that, except in its top echelons, there is now more faith reposed by the Australian Country Party in the future of the Authority. We are still in the dark about the attitude of the Liberal Party of Australia concerning the future of the Authority and its teams. Yesterday, the Minister for National Development received from the Commissioner of the Snowy Mountains Authority the latest proposals on the future of these teams.


– Order! The time allotted for the precedence of general business has expired. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed. The resumption of the debate will be an order of the day under general business for the next day of sitting.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.

page 574


Ministerial Statement

Debate resumed from 9th March (vide page 70), on motion by Mr. Opperman -

That the House take note of the following paper -

Immigration Policy Affecting Non-Europeans - Ministerial Statement, 9th March 1966.


.- It is a tribute to the efforts of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who was Australia’s first Minister for Immigration, that ever since its commencement our immigration programme has had the support of both sides of the Parliament. In the field of immigration, both of Europeans and non-Europeans, the honorable member’s knowledge, understanding and tolerance as Minister in the difficult early years deserve our commendation. Our established immigration policy with regard to non-Europeans has enjoyed united support, although there may from time to time have been different approaches to the administration of it. Against this background I shall deal today with the changes proposed and, time permitting, outline the attitude of the Opposition towards our established and accepted policy.

The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) has told the House that the Government undertook a review ot the operation of the immigration policy as it affects non-Europeans, based on experience and changing circumstances over recent years. The proposals provide, first, that nonEuropeans already here under a temporary permit but likely to remain indefinitely will be eligible to apply for resident status and Australian citizenship after five years, instead of after 15 years under present arrangements. Students, of course, are not covered by this proposal. The second proposal is that applications for entry by well-qualified people wishing to settle in Australia will be considered on the basis of their suitability !as settlers, their ability to integrate readily and their possession of qualification* which are, in fact, positively useful to Australia.

In addition to these two major proposals a third policy refinement is envisaged. In the case of non-Europeans accepted as students, greater effort is to be made to ensure that the courses they undertake will be of recognised value to their homelands. Their ability to undertake such courses successfully will be examined carefully at the time of application for entry, and their progress will be assessed annually. Examples of the categories of those who under the new proposals will be admitted in greater numbers were set out under a number of headings in the Minister’s speech. I note that the Minister specifically stated in introducing these proposals -

The Government has now decided upon two further measures which the House will recognise as important but as not departing from the fundamental principle of our immigration policy.

We consider this significant, appropriate and correct. The Opposition believes that the principles underlying our immigration policy should not be disturbed. I would like to outline to the House the present policy of the Labour Party on immigration -

Convinced that increased population is vital to the future development of Australia’,’ the Australian Labour Party will support and uphold a vigorous and expanding programme administered with sympathy, understanding and tolerance. The basis of such policy will be -

Australia’s national and economic security;

the welfare and integration of all its citizens;

the preservation of our democratic system and balanced development of our nation; and

the avoidance of the difficult social and economic problems which may follow from an influx of peoples having different standards of living, traditions and cultures.

This should be interpreted as a clear, concise and unobjectionable statement of our policy, free of any taint of racial discrimination or superiority, based on the principle and ideal that the composition of our population will be such as to ensure the integration of all people sharing our freedom, independence and way of life. This policy is not one of the “ open door “ or of the “ quota system “. It maintains the principle of Australia’s established immigration policy which has been endorsed by all governments since Federation. At the same time it recognises, as the Minister’s statement does, the need for administrative action, tolerance and understanding to meet changing circumstances and to avoid ill-founded criticisms, in the administration of policies having a bearing on a great human problem.

Let me now state our attitude to the proposals that the House is now discussing. The Opposition does not oppose the proposals, and we accept the assurance given by the Minister that there is to be no departure from the accepted and established principles of our immigration policy and that this policy will be administered with understanding and tolerance. This is in line with the policy of the Australian Labour Party that I have already outlined.

I now want to make a brief reference to what is proposed. First, the decision to reduce from 15 years to 5 the qualifying period for citizenship for persons here under temporary permit and likely to remain indefinitely is a wise one. The Minister has stated clearly that not every person admitted for temporary residence will be entitled to stay here indefinitely. Temporary entry and permanent settlement are entirely different matters, and we are pleased that the Government recognises this. We approve also the announcement by the Minister that the 12,000 Asian students undergoing courses of instruction in this country will not be covered by this new provision. If they were, the very purpose of their studying in this country would be defeated. They come here to qualify themselves in certain fields so that they may return to their own countries and assist in the development and advancement of those countries. They are, of course, eligible for citizenship if after giving five years service to their homeland after completion of their studies, they seek re-admission and apply. The reduction of the qualifying period to five years removes any suggestion of racial discrimination because the period will now be the same as that applying to Europeans. Citizenship will now be available to a non-European on the same basis as it is available to Europeans, if it is certain that the person concerned will be a permanent resident.

I now want to refer to a decision to admit certain well-qualified people wishing to settle in Australia and to grant them resident status and citizenship after five years. The decision of the Opposition to support this proposal carries with it certain qualifications. We require an assurance from the Minister and the Government that the principles underlying our policy will be maintained and that the possession of wealth will not be the basis for the admission to Australia of certain people such as wealthy Chinese and others from various parts of the world. We also require an assurance that the persons admitted under this category will be only those with qualifications not possessed by available Australians, and also that skilled personnel, professional men and others shall not be taken from underdeveloped countries which require their talents more than Australia does. We must also be assured beyond doubt that nonEuropeans will not be brought in to meet general labour shortages, and that there will be no large-scale admission of workers from Asia. This matter was referred to by the Minister and I see no reason why the assurances he has given should not be accepted.

We of the Opposition consider that we are entitled to ask for these assurances. We have no desire to see any breaking down of living and working conditions in this country, nor do we wish to fan the flames of racial hatred. The Minister stressed throughout his speech the principles that would guide him in the administration of this legislation. We find little to disagree with in the sentiments that he expressed, but the fact is that he may not always be the Minister and we believe that Government assurances are essential and that they must be fulfilled.

The categories of those who may be admitted, as set out in the Minister’s speech, are extremely wide. They are open to broad interpretation. On the face of it, only those whose services are in definite demand here for positions for which no local residents are available will be admitted. I understand that tradesmen do not come within this category.

The proposals are clear. They are evidently designed to help meet some of Australia’s special needs. That is as much as the Opposition is prepared to say about them, having received the necessary assurances from the Minister and the Government. We insist that the Government must carry out to the letter the sentiments expressed in the Minister’s statement with regard to the administration of our immigration policy. I repeat that we expect a firm assurance from the Minister and the Government regarding the protection of our established policy after these changes are implemented.

The categories of persons with special qualifications so clearly set out in the Minister’s speech require close examination. The persons admitted must meet the requirements. We have no desire to create a society of first and second class citizens, with all the hatred and bitterness that follows the creation of such a society, lt is correct to say that there has always been a degree of tolerance applied to the administration of our immigration policy, but because of certain isolated instances that have been given great prominence by certain sections of the Press, many people are not aware of that tolerance. The new definitions, the basis on which admittance will be made, the methods of selection and the fact that there is no quota should in every way help to overcome many of the administrative difficulties and criticisms involved in the present arrangement.

At the same time we, like other nations, must always maintain the right to decide the composition of our population. Our immigration policy, which has meant so much to Australia, should not be basically disturbed, although from time to time in order to meet changing conditions modifications may be necessary, as in the present case. I have the greatest sympathy for the Minister and his departmental officers in their difficult task of administering certain sections of the Immigration Act. The problems associated with administering the Act are probably the most human of all problems. I believe that over the years the Department and the various Ministers have, with tolerance and understanding, endeavoured to carry out justly the policy laid down. It is true that occasionally certain cases have been brought to public notice. In most cases the Department was in the right, but because certain sections of the Press in this country refused to print the full facts of the cases, particularly where non-Europeans were concerned, great injustice was done to the Minister, the officers of the Department and our image in Asia. If newspapers must give publicity to special cases, the least they can do is print all of the facts. This is rarely done. They prefer to deal emotionally with the problems rather than the facts of the case. It is significant that about the only time when Australia’s immigration policy receives publicity is when a non-European is asked to leave the country. Immediately racial discrimination is charged. However, we hear little of the cases where Europeans are asked to leave or are deported.

The figures in this regard are interesting. Between January and December 1965, 562 Europeans were deported. I doubt whether anybody heard about those deportations. In the same period only 57 non-Europeans were deported. Those figures have been provided by the Department of Immigration. The detailed figures of the numbers of various nationalities deported are interesting and, with the concurrence of honorable members I shall have incorporated in “ Hansard “ tables showing the number of Europeans and non-Europeans deported during 1965 and their nationality, together with extracts of the relevant sections of the Act relied upon for deportation orders.

The statement regarding Asian students is not before time. At present 11,045 Asian students are attending schools and colleges in this country. These young people who are using our educational facilities should be carefully selected. The education that they receive should benefit both themselves and their country. Their rate of progress should be assessed, as is the progress of Australian students. This is only fair when we consider that in some cases they are occupying space at colleges and universities at the expense of our own people. They have obligations to complete their courses and pass on to their own people the benefits of the things they have learned.

Time does not permit me to deal fully with this aspect of the changes, but I am pleased to see that action is being taken in this regard because in some cases bad publicity has followed requests for Asian students to return to their homelands because of failure in their studies or for other reasons. With the concurrence of honorable members I incorporate in “ Hansard “ tables showing details of non-European private students in Australia.

Having said so much about changes proposed in our immigration policy and because of the importance of immigration, I propose to deal briefly with the background to Labour’s present policy. I shall refer also to other aspects of our policy. The Australian Labour Party still adheres, quite rightly, to the basic principles of our established immigration policy. Criticism of this policy is directed in the main at what is popularly but wrongly described as the White Australia policy. In view of the importance of this aspect of our policy I propose to give a brief survey of its history.

The present immigration policy, quite wrongly referred to as a White Australia policy, is the outcome of experiences, particularly in the latter half of the 19th century. During that time, Asian labourers and other Asian migrants had been introduced to many activities, mainly the goldfields. Rioting, bloodshed and other events had been the unhappy consequences during that period and led to widespread demands for the adoption of such a policy. The introduction of Kanaka labour to the Queensland canefields with all the sordid consequences following the activities of the blackbirders made the demand for immigration reform unanswerable. The policy as such is not based in any sense on racial superiority but rather on the demands of those times to prevent exploitation and cheap labour. The policy recognises that successful assimilation is unlikely where there are great differences of race, creed, custom and habits of life. This has been the accepted policy of all Governments and all political parties with the exception of the Communist Party and the Australian Democratic Labour Party. There is a pretty good example of a unity ticket.

It would be correct to say that the basis of our immigration policy is humanitarianism - the recognition of human dignity and the avoidance of great cultural differences between peoples - rather than any feeling of racial superiority. The term “ White Australia “ is undoubtedly the major reason why objection is taken in some quarters rather than to the policy itself. That the term has no official basis is evidently not known or is overlooked. The term was invented about 40 years before Federation. It is a term that finds no place in any of our laws. It is a popular but not a legal term.

Mr Calwell:

– It is journalese


– As the Leader of the Opposition says, it is journalese. There has always been criticism of our policy by some people. In recent years they have become more vocal. The criticism has come from sections of the Press, clerics, certain academics and some citizens and organisations, many of whom may well have been prompted by the highest motives and ideals. In some cases their criticism was based on unfortunate events relating to nonEuropeans refused admittance to Australia or the right to stay here. In other cases the criticism related to non-Europeans ineligible for citizenship who gained admittance to the country on a tourist visa. Other cases involved overseas students - Chinese Malayan, Indian, Philippine and other nationals. These cases are known to most people. I do not have time to deal with them other than to mention them as reasons prompting some people to urge a change of policy.

Whatever the reasons behind any change in policy, the Opposition opposes the open door or quota system in this country. Those methods offer no solution to the problem. To those, no matter how well intentioned, who advocate a change of policy, a study of events in other parts of the world is worthy of consideration. We in Australia do not have any of the racial problems that confront Great Britain, the United States of America, Malaya, Singapore, the Philippines, Burma, South Africa or Indonesia. This condition has been achieved without any great friction with our Asian neighbours. If for no other reason - and there are many - the very fact of our freedom from racial hatreds and strife should be enough to convince people of the value of our policy and the need to maintain it in principle.

Let me take the example of Great Britain. This is a reasonable comparison for the purpose of this subject. When the Conservative Government of Great Britain, supported by the Labour Party, opened the immigration doors, Britain was flooded with non-European labour, most of it unskilled. This has resulted in a congregation of these people in certain areas, racial discrimination, riots, ugly scenes and examples of racial hatreds similar to those that exist in the United States of America. In the electorate the result was dramatic. One prominent Labour member of Parliament, who had held his seat for 20 years, lost it on the issue. Great Britain now has an imported racial problem with all the strife and bitterness that follows. The British Labour Party has learned the hard fact that people of different colour, cultures, ideologies and living standards cannot be integrated without passions and hatreds being aroused.

The British Labour Party has learned a lesson from the problems created by its idealism. Restrictive immigration laws have now been imposed by Britain. We should learn from the experiences of Great Britain. Australia has been saved from the problems imported into Great Britain by her immigration policy. We have none of the hatreds, riots, bitterness and discrimination that exist in Great Britain and in other countries. In the United States of America, South Africa, the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, Ceylon, Pakistan and India tragic and ugly events show the problems that arise in countries where racial hatreds are inflamed. We have an obligation to. our people to keep Australia free from such events and from the bitterness that follows. The Opposition believes that . we have no right to import or to create a problem that is non-existent here at present.

Some people try to create the impression that we are the only country with an immigration policy which maintains our right to keep certain people out. [Extension of time granted.] This is not the case. Every country exercises this right, and rightly so. This applies particularly to Asian countries. The right to exclude those whom we do not desire to come and live among us was a principle endorsed by the Asian Relations Conference in New Delhi in 1947. Honorable members may recall that recently the Philippines was in the news on this particular issue. If anyone suggests that that country’s immigration policy is not one of discrimination, I suggest that he study the situation, because the Filipinos purposely exclude certain people of their own kith and kin, as it were; so that there is not much basis for criticism of our policy from that nation-

Some say that our policy gives offence to Asian nations and to non-Europeans. This may be so for those who apologise for it or who do not understand it, particularly as it relates to those persons from Asia who enter the country temporarily, or even those who enter it permanently and are eligible for citizenship. Every Asian country has similar immigration laws, lt is not that our policy is objectionable, but rather that it is not explained. I well remember the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) explaining our immigration policy at a Commonwealth Parliamentary conference attended by many people of different colour. His speech was applauded and accepted because of the way it presented the policy. In fact, our immigration laws are much more liberal than those of other countries - the categories of non-Europeans who may settle in Australia are extensive - and are administered as favorably as possible to our Asian neighbours. At present there are almost 39,000 non-European people residing in Australia. In 1965 there were 12,400 Asian and non-European students; a further 10,000 are persons of mixed descent who have been admitted during the postwar period from Ceylon; 800 Asian evacuees have been permitted to remain in Australia; in the 10 years to 1965, 3,452 non-Europeans have been granted Australian citizenship and more than 22,000 visitors have come to Australia in the last five years for periods of 12 months or more. This proves that our tolerance and understanding have not been adequately explained and are not fully appreciated by many people.

I believe that criticism of our policy stems mainly from idealists, from ignorance and from apologists for our policy. The policy is not, and never has been, directed to the total exclusion of non-Europeans, nor is it based on any assumption of racial superiority. It is subject to ministerial discretion and each case is dealt with on its merits, with consideration being had for humanitarian factors and for the national interest. Our policy is highlighted, and comes under criticism now and again, when some person, in Australia perhaps for study purposes or on a visitor’s permit, is asked to leave in accordance with the terms on which his or her visa was granted or for some other reason. They may be seeking to establish residential qualifications for citizenship purposes. This is termed category hopping. No other country tolerates this as a basis for permanent admission. Sympathy is extended to people in this category if they happen to be nonEuropeans, but hardly a whimper is heard when a Greek, Italian or Briton is asked to leave Australia, perhaps after deserting a ship or for some other reason.

The Labour Party believes that Australia’s immigration policy gives effect to the principle accepted as the right of any nation to decide the composition of its population. The same test is applied to migrants by every nation. It has not, and never has had, a suggestion of racial superiority, lt began as an effective aspiration and from it has resulted a positive achievement. This achievement is a united race of freedom loving Australians who can intermarry and associate without the disadvantages and the inevitable results from the fusion of dissimilar races. We have a united people who share the same loyalties, the same outlook and the same traditions. We seek to ensure - and I do not doubt that the Government seeks this too - that our society is so composed that regardless of race all citizens, as well as thousands of Asians and nonEuropean students and visitors, are fully accepted and have equal rights.

Our nation is free of the racial frictions and hatreds that are so common in other parts of the world. The composition of our population ensures the integration of all people and the sharing of our freedom, independence and way of life. This glorious ideal can be maintained without offence to any nation, subject to our policy being administered with sympathy, understanding and tolerance. The Australian Labour Party seeks to keep it this way and that is why, while we support the proposals announced by the Minister, we seek assurances that the principles and the very basis of our immigration policy shall not be disturbed or destroyed.


.- I think that every honorable member will agree that the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), when he is discussing a matter free from party politics, is a great orator. He has shown today in his speech on this important subject that he can make a valuable contribution to the thinking of

Australia. When I spoke on this subject, when debating the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) on the nation’s affairs, I pointed out that following upon the proposed reform Australia now has the most liberal immigration policy of any country. From now on there will not be in any of our laws or in any of our regulations anything that discriminates against migrants on the grounds of colour or race. Australia exercises, as does every other country, the right to say who can come in and who can not. That great responsibility is entrusted in the Minister of Immigration (Mr. Opperman). I know that all honorable members will agree that the Minister is a man with a heart. He has understanding and he will exercise that discretion in the best interests of Australia.

In exercising his discretion the Minister has certain guide lines to follow. He has to satisfy himself that the applicant for migration can be successfully integrated into this community. In applying that test all manner of factors must be considered. It is obvious that a person who speaks the same language as we do can be more easily integrated into this community than a person who speaks only a foreign language. It is obvious that a person who has a standard of education equivalent to or better than the Australian standard is more likely to be successfully integrated than a person who is totally illiterate or a person who has little education. Similarly, a person whose religion is somewhat similar to the kinds of religions we have in Australia is more likely to be assimilated than is a person whose religion is entirely different. That does not mean that either education or religion is in itself a barrier or bar to an entry permit. All that it means is that all these things have to be taken into account before the Minister can carry out his responsibility of satisfying himself that the applicant is likely to be successfully integrated into this community.

In many African countries 90 per cent, of the people are totally illiterate. Could anybody say that those totally illiterate African people could be successfully integrated into this high standard country? Of course they could not. But that does not mean that every African is barred from entering this country. So, under the immigration policy established by the present

Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) when he was Minister for Immigration, and carried out since over a period of more than 15 years now by a Liberal Government, we have evolved this policy of placing entry into this country at the discretion of the Minister. He decides whether a person can be successfully integrated into this community. The only bar that has existed in relation to nationality or colour is that a European could become a citizen after five years’ residence in this country but for a non-European the period was 15 years. That discrimination is now being removed. From now on, there will be absolutely no discrimination on the ground of race or colour.

I do not think that will mean any substantial change in the numbers that are coming in from any country because 1 think the test that has been applied in the past - the test of ability to be successfully integrated into the community - will still, of itself, determine the priorities. Obviously, the overwhelming number will come from the United Kingdom because the people of the United Kingdom have a similar background to our own and similar ways of life. Above all, we speak a common language.

After them, the greatest majority, of course, will come from the countries from which they have been coming in the past. Northern Europeans, with their high standards of living and with their ability to learn English within the space of five years, will form the second largest group of our migrants. Southern Europeans, whose standard of education is not as high as that of the Northern Europeans, but who have proved themselves to be very successful migrants in this country will form the third largest group of those who are likely to be admitted. The numbers from other countries will vary according to the Minister’s decision after applying the test to which I have referred. We desire and intend to preserve the essential homogeneity of our population. As the honorable member for Grayndler so forcefully put it, we have not the slightest intention of buying for ourselves the problems and troubles that the United States or the United Kingdom have by adopting what I may describe as a very loose immigration policy.

To prove my earlier statement that we have the most liberal immigration policy in the world, and to prove how wrong it is to charge us with having an immigration policy based on race or colour, I want to put on record the policies of our near neighbours. Indonesia will not admit anyone as a permanent resident unless it is satisfied that an applicant has special qualities and techniques and can usefully contribute to national development. We admit to this country every year thousands of unskilled persons in addition to thousands of skilled persons. But Indonesia does not allow anyone to become a permanent resident unless, in the opinion of the authorities that person possesses special qualities and techniques which can usefully contribute to Indonesia’s national development.

Our great friend, Malaya, prohibits immigration altogether unless the intending migrant can contribute to the professions, commerce or industry, or unless he can provide specialised services not available locally in sufficient quantity. Nationals from Sino-Soviet countries and from Mainland China are absolutely prohibited. Therefore it is hardly fair that any Malayan should accuse us of having a policy based on colour or race. I do not quarrel with the policy of Malaya. I think Malaya is perfectly justified and right in applying the test that it does; but I suggest that it is completely wrong for any Malayan to criticize Australia’s immigration policy. Singapore has a policy identical with that of Malaya.

I come now to our great friend Thailand. The Thais have an annual quota of 200 from any country. We admit something like 15,000 from Italy and something like 15,000 from Greece in a year. What would the Greeks or the Italians say if we said that Australia’s immigration policy was to admit only 200 Greeks or 200 Italians in any one year? Again I am not quarrelling with the policy of Thailand, nor am I saying that the Thais are wrong in their immigration policy. That is what they deem to be necessary to retain the homogeneity of their own population. But I say that it would be very wrong for any Thai to criticise Australia on the ground that it has an immigration policy based upon race or colour.

In Burma immigration for permanent residence is discouraged altogether. In other words, Burma does not have migrants.

How wrong it would be for the Burmese to criticise Australia for its immigration policy when that country prohibits immigrants altogether. India has a restrictive practice as far as all non-Commonwealth citizens are concerned. It bans altogether white South Africans. It bans people from Pakistan except for a period of three years and it severely restricts or bans those from Ceylon. India is a country which is very friendly with Australia. We are anxious to do all we can for India. We admit a certain number of Indians to this country. How wrong it would be for India to criticise Australia for its immigration policy when India puts such restrictions upon entry to that country for permanent residence.

Pakistan has a policy which is similar to that of India. It bans all South Africans and allows Indians to reside there only for a period of three years. Ceylon - another country which is friendly to Australia - virtually bans all foreigners. I do not complain about Ceylon’s policy. Ceylon is a small island, heavily populated, if not over populated, and if the powers that be in that country say: “ We do not want any more citizens for permanent residence “, who are we to criticise it? But it would be wrong for any Singhalese to criticise Australia, which accepts 150,000 migrants a year from other countries, because of Australia’s policy of determining whom it shall admit and whom it shall not admit. The Philippines has an entry quota of 50 people from any one country. What would Italy, Greece, Germany or Holland say to us if we decided that we would take a maximum of 50 Germans or 50 Dutch? How silly this quota system can be. If we established our ceiling at about 150,000 a year, as it is now, and then divided that number up amongst the various countries of the world it would mean that many countries would have to be told: “ You can send ten migrants to Australia “. What would those countries say? It would be an absolute insult. Therefore these theoretical people who talk about a quota simply do not realise the monstrosity of what they are saying.

I was extremely pleased to hear the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) say that the Labour Party opposed both the coen door and the quota system. I think that we can say that Australia speaks with one voice on this matter of immigration. Both parties oppose the open door system and the quota system and both support a policy of immigration on the largest possible scale that our economy will stand, based upon the ability to integrate the migrants into our community. We do not want Australia to become a little Italy, a little Germany, a little Greece or a little any other country. We want our migrants to become Australians and our migration system is based on admitting people who, having come here, want to become Australians. We do not want people to come here just to make what money they can and then return to their own countries. We want them to be part of the Australian community.

The last country I mentioned was the Philippines. I now refer to Cambodia. Conditions of admittance to Cambodia do not provide for permanent residence. Therefore you can virtually say that Cambodia does not have migrants at all. In Vietnam, absolute power to admit or reject migrants is in the discretion of the Government. The Government sets out certain conditions upon which that discretion shall be exercised. Japan is not a migrant country and makes this perfectly clear. Requests for entry for permanent residence are few. ft exercises a discretion as we do and this discretion is given to the Minister of Justice. He is empowered to exercise it if he considers that the person is medically, socially and politically desirable for permanent residence and if admittance is in accord with the interests of Japan. If you summarise those things you can say that, apart from the fact that Australia is a migrant country and Japan is not, the discretion is very similar. As I have said, Japan says that discretion can be exercised only on the ground that the person is medically, socially and politically desirable.

Let us turn to Africa. No migrant is allowed to enter Ghana for the purpose of taking up employment unless there is a place for him on a firm’s immigration quota. In other words, migrants need to have an approved job in Ghana before they are allowed to enter that country for permanent residence. In Egypt labour permits are issued for new industries established with foreign capital. In other words, one can go to Egypt only if one takes an industry also or is in some way associated with a new industry which is considered desirable by the Egyptian Government. No foreigner may reside in Nigeria unless his presence is in the economic interests of the country.


– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.


.- I would like to restate the attitude of the Australian Labour Party to the statement of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) because I believe our attitude to the proposal should be very clear. It is that the proposal should not be opposed and that we should accept the assurance given by the Minister that there is to be no departure from the accepted and established principle of our immigration policy and that that policy will be administered with understanding and tolerance. I was delighted to hear the Minister say - and he has told me this privately as well as in his statement - that he does not intend, in any way, to break down the accepted Australian immigration policy. On that completeand clear understanding and assurance, I do not propose in any way to castigate or oppose anything contained in the Minister’s statement. I join with him in his decision to reduce the time for naturalisation from 15 to 5 years. Whilst I am opposed completely and unreservedly to any migration other than European migration- I am quite clear and positive on this - I believe that once we accept these people into our country there should not be any differentiation between them and other European people.

I am quite clear on that I am not prepared to import into Australia the troubles and problems that have been created in other countries. If honorable members like to go to the Library and go through the files of newspaper cuttings for thelast two years they will find a stack of references a foot high referring to incidents that have taken place in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and other countries in the world where this unfortunate situation does exist. Those people with airy fairy ideas about mixing large groups of people should have a look at the facts and not talk rot. I consider that they talk rot when advocating that type of system. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) who is trying to say something should be quiet.

He interrupts enough. I will not deal with him as kindly as honorable members of the Government do. Let us consider our own problems here in Australia. We have anything but an excellent record in our treatment of Aborigines. Consider the deplorable conditions of these people. Consider the great differentation between conditions applicable to them and those applicable to the new Australians - ourselves, the people who have come into this country since the landing by Governor Phillip many years ago. Before we start talking about bringing additional problems into this country let us first solve the ones we have here. I have no hatred or antagonism towards any person because of his colour. I have worked with people of other races and I am prepared to treat them as equals; but I am greatly afraid that if we indulge in a policy of bringing in large numbers of these people we are going to import into this country troubles and problems that we do not want.

I have taken the trouble to go through that foot high stack of Press cuttings in the Library and I want to read from some of them to honorable members who advocate bringing these problems into this country. Some excerpts read -

Some Negroes Fight on, But Order is ReturningDeath toll 33.

That was just in one riot in America. Another aritcle headed “ Investigator tells of Klan training programme “ reads -

Ku Klux Klan members in Georgia had been taught how to burn homes and cars, bomb integrated department stores and wage guerrilla warfare, a U.S. Congressional investigator said yesterday.

Do honorable members want that sort of thing? I do not. Here are other headings -

Riot terror spreads in California.

Supreme Court gives Negro voters a boost.

Negroes ready to hit back.

Negro Leaders Make Bitter Attack on Court’s Ruling.

Witness to Civil Rights Killings Claimed by F.B.I.

Acute Race Problem in U.S. Army.

Dr. King Makes Plea for Non Violence

Police Injure More Negroes in Harlem Riot. “ We’ll kill whites. . . . “

Negroes hit out at Malcolm. “ Malcolm “ pledges a race war.

Dogs Rout 300 Negroes in Street battle.

These are just a few of them. There are hundreds of others in the cuttings in the Library. Others read -

Malaysia, Racial crisis.

Uneasy Calm Prevails in Singapore.

Death Roll 19 in Singapore Communal Riots.

Macmillan Promises ‘ Utmost Strictness ‘ in

Quelling Race Riots.

Rase Riots give Britain a Shock.

Race Issue in Fiji Elections.

There is a beauty here about what happened in Harlem on one occasion, but I think it is just a bit too gory to read out here. Other headings are -

Racial hatred could yet sink Malaysia.

I think it did -

Black and white in Russia.

Even in Russia they have this problem of colour. In a Press article of recent origin is a heading “ Dawn Death has the Chinese Angry “. The item reads -

The case of Ta Vinh, the Chinese businessman who was executed on Monday for war profiteering, began as a simple economic trial and now has evolved into a controversial issue here and abroad.

Wherever you find this mixture, whether it be in India, Ceylon or anywhere else, you have these problems. We know of the antagonism that exists in Ceylon between the Ceylonese, the Indians and the Pakistanis. There is the problem of South Africa, the problem of the United States of America and of Fiji. It does not matter where you go you can find this clash when people of different racial groups are brought together. In New York they have Harlem and, in San Francisco, Chinatown. In New York they have the grouping together of Puerto Ricans. Wherever you have this grouping you have these unfortunate problems and this unfortunate trouble.

When people in Australia say to me that we have nothing to worry about if we indulge in an open door policy of immigration, all I ask them to do is to have a look at what happened in the United Kingdom when the British Government pursued an open door policy - and its open door policy applied only to people from the British Commonwealth. I have here a publication titled “Immigration from the Commonwealth “. It is dated August 1965 and is published by the British Government. It contains the following information -

From 19SS a rough count was kept of the number of Commonwealth citizens from the

Caribbean, Asia, East and West Africa and the Mediterranean entering and leaving the country.

The figures are as follows -

If the same rate had been maintained in 1962 the number could have hit the 200,000 mark. If honorable members want to see the way that this influx has been brought about in the United Kingdom, they should see a film called “The Strangers” which was shown in the Senate club room during the last sessional period. It was produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation and clearly sets out the problems associated with this large influx of people into the United Kingdom. I do not want to see any Little Rock in this country. I have no desire to see similar problems to those that have been created in the United Kingdom as a result of this influx.

I suggest that we look at the immigration policies of other countries. The United States claims to have no preferential policy in admitting people. It claims that there is no differentiation against anyone on the ground of colour or race. However, the United States very cleverly prepared its immigration rules. It took 1920 as the base year for striking the quotas to be admitted from each country. For example, in 1958 the quota for people from the United Kingdom was 65,361; from Germany 25,814; from Australia 100; from China 100; and so on for other countries. At the moment the quota for Ceylon is 100, for India 100, for Korea 100, for Japan 185, for China 100 and for Pakistan 100. It is stated that Asian quotas are hopelessly oversubscribed. In other words, the number of people trying to get into America make the quota system a complete farce. The quota for China is 100. It is 100 for Australia, but there are not 100 Australians trying to get into America. The quota system makes a complete farce of the claim by some people that there is no discrimination in the United States immigration policy.

France has laid down stringent conditions for people entering that country. They must be assured of employment and accommodation for at least six months. They may be naturalised after five years, but it is very difficult to obtain naturalisation. The same thing can be said about Germany, except that a 10 year minimum residential qualification is necessary in that country. People who are critical of Australia’s immigration policy should consider the immigration policies of countries adjacent to Australia. Indonesia practises a system of prior selection of those who, through special qualities and techniques, can usefully contribute to its national development. All Chinese from mainland China and nationals from other Sino-Soviet countries are refused entry for security reasons. A minimum salary of $500 per month is stipulated for employees of established businesses. Malaysia likewise has had its problems. We saw only recently the collapse of the original Federation of Malaysia with the expulsion of Singapore, brought about to a great extent because the Malaysian Government was endeavouring to make second class citizens of the Chinese. Even the Chinese and the Malays could not get along and live as one people.

Let me go through the immigration policies of the various countries. Thailand’s immigration policy is restrictive. There is an annual quota of 200 nationals from any country. There is also a quota of 200 stateless persons. A fee, which is equvalent to $A42, is charged for entry and a fee of $A8 for annual registration. This imposes certain restrictive conditions on the people who can enter. In addition, people seeking entry must have suitable employment, accommodation and sufficient funds to maintain themselves. Similarly, Burma has a very positive and restrictive immigration policy. Indians, Pakistanis and Chinese, who number more than 2 million in the population of the country, are completely excluded from entry, except on special occasions when they are able to assist in the development of Burma. India imposes restrictions on immigration. It excludes citizens of South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon. Ceylon reciprocates by excluding Indians, and Pakistan has a somewhat similar restrictive policy.

Let us look at the situation in the Philippines. The Press in Australia recently reported that people in the Philippines were most concerned because the Minister had refused permission for a business man from the Philippines to enter Australia. But what is the position? Regulations in the Philippines set a quota of 50 immigrants from any one country, but in practice quota systems are applied only where reciprocity pertains. Initial requirements for immigrants acceptable under the quota system are that the immigrant be in possession of capital of 5,000 pesos or have pre-arranged employment. An immigrant must have sufficient capital to establish a business or must be of independent means. Discrimination is practised against Japanese, Chinese and Indians. Chinese and Indians are allowed entry only for meritorious reasons. The entry of Japanese except for business purposes is totally prohibited.

These facts are available to honorable members. I could mention numerous other countries throughout Asia that indulge in a positive and restrictive form of immigration. This is also the position with Egypt, Nigeria and other African countries. Yet these are the people who are continually attacking our immigration policy. As I said earlier, I am completely and unreservedly opposed to any experiment that will bring into Australia people in such substantial numbers as to create a problem. I have figures relating to students of other countries who are in Australia. Whilst I would like to have them incorporated in “ Hansard “, I think I had better read them. The table contains a substantial number of figures, but I propose to deal only with the totals. I believe that Australia has adopted a very generous attitude towards the training of Asian and African students. It has tried to give them an adequate education at university, technical, secondary and primary levels and in accountancy, both privately and at technical colleges, in nursing and in other skills so that they can be of assistance in the development of their own countries. But I strongly object to one aspect of this scheme. After having been trained in Australia to be an engineer, economist, accountant, nurse, doctor or something of that nature, some of these students want to stay here. What type of people are they? What real interest have they in the development of their own country? On numerous occasions people have come to me and asked me to approach the Minister with a request that students who have been trained in Australia be allowed to stay here.

My invariable attitude is,: Let them go home to their own country. Their own country has more need of engineers, economists, nurses, doctors, technicians and people with other skills than Australia has. Why should we bring them here, train them and then pirate them? That is the only term that could be used for this activity.

I have the official figures of nonEuropean private students in Australia who were holders of temporary entry permits as at 31st March 1965. The figures are given in two groups. One shows the national groups and the other the country of origin. I propose to deal only with the country of origin. The following table sets out the number of students from each country -

Australia has accepted 11.045 students from non-European countries and has endeavoured to train them so that they will be of assistance to their own countries. In view of the cost and the overall shortage of universities, technical colleges and secondary schools, I think that Australia has been fair and reasonable to these people. We have given them training so that they will be of benefit to their own countries. But having trained them we should not try to hold them here. I believe that any effort to retain these students in Australia displays a most unfortunate attitude on the part of Australian companies, industries and organisations. The real place of these students is in their own country. They should return to the country from which they came and there help their own country to develop.

My time is almost exhausted and I must conclude. I reaffirm my attitude, very clearly and positively. We should not import into this country the problem that has beset other countries. Let us accept the experience gained by others and not indulge in the reckless experiment that some people would have us undertake.


.- I congratulate the Minister for Immigration (Mr, Opperman), as other honorable members have, on his excellant statement on the liberalisation of our policy on immigration. It is a happy circumstance that both sides of the Parliament are in complete agreement on this very important issue. The Minister outlined the various aspects of the changes, and I shall quote his words because I think it is useful to reiterate the two principal decisions. He said -

First, it has been decided that non-European people who are already here under temporary permit but are likely to be here indefinitely, should not have to wait IS years before applying for resident status and for Australian citizenship: but should be able to apply after five years residence, so ending a situation often criticised for its effect on individuals and families.

I believe that this decision is a very important and far reaching one and will help to create a better understanding and mutuality between Australia and the countries of South East Asia. The Minister also said -

The second decision is that applications for entry by well qualified people wishing to settle in Australia will be considered on the basis of their suitability as settlers, their ability to integrate readily, and their possession of qualifications which are in fact positively useful to Australia. They will be able after five years’ stay on temporary permits to apply for resident status and citizenship. They will be able to bring their immediate families with them on first arrival.

This shows once again the humanitarian approach of the Government to immigration. I too have great confidence in the Minister’s continued ability to use his discretion with wisdom and justice in the various cases that will arise in the future.

About the time that the Minister made his statement to the House, he issued to the Press some background notes on nonEuropeans in Australia. Unfortunately, in my view, these details did not receive sufficient publicity. I believe that it is very important that people in Australia and in Asian countries should know precisely what the facts are, because the facts are not publicised enough. The Minister pointed out in his background notes that about 38,400 non-Europeans are in Australia at present. These include 16,200 who are Australian citizens - 10,800 by birth and 5,400 by naturalisation or registration - and 4,200 others who already have resident status but have either not sought or qualified for citizenship. The Minister pointed out further that the remaining 18,000 comprised 4,200 non-Europeans, who have been admitted in some instances with their families, and a variety of categories with temporary residence status. While accurate figures cannot be forecast, a substantial proportion - perhaps half - of these will now be eligible for resident status and citizenship if they desire to apply and can meet requirements as to integration, knowledge of English, character, etc. In addition the Minister said that there are about 1,100 visitors and an Asian and other non-European student population of 12,600, comprising about 1, 600 government sponsored students and 11, 000 private students, these figures being based on the 1961 census, supplemented in part by more recent departmental records. They exclude some 5,000 Torres Strait Islanders as well as the indigenous Aborigines and part Aborigines. The Minister concluded with these words -

There are, in addition, more than 10,000 persons of mixed descent who have been admitted to Australia with resident status during the post war period from Ceylon, as well as some thousands from other countries in Asia and elsewhere.

I think it is fairly well known - it is certainly well known in this Parliament and I think it is known outside - that the regulation of immigration into Australia is set out in detail in the “ Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia “. No doubt a copy of this book is available in every public library in the country, but I rather feel that there is not sufficient understanding of the conditions of immigration and the countries from which settlers have come. I believe that the Press could do much to correct wrong impressions that have found their way abroad.

The basic aim of Australian immigration policy is to build a predominantly homogeneous population and it is fundamental to this policy that people coming to Australia for permanent residence should be capable, both economically and socially, of ready integration into the community. In fact, ready integration - I underline those words - is the very basis of our immigration policy. The Minister, under his discretionary power, authorises the entry each year of approximately 700 non-Europeans. This figure includes wives and children. This method of discretionary power, as opposed to a quota system, has worked very well in practice in the past. Like others, I am glad to know that there is no intention to depart from existing policy by considering a quota system. It is believed very firmly by the Government, and has been all along, that the present policy is much more satisfactory than a quota system could possibly be. It is no doubt true that the quota system is theoretically attractive to some people - it is supported by a small handful of people in the Australian community - but experience shows that there is a great deal to be said for continuing the present practice of leaving the wide discretionary power in the hands of the Minister of the day. It is a happy thing that both sides of the Parliament are in full agreement on this point. In a speech last August the Leader of the Australian Labour Party described the quota system as completely impracticable. At this point I should like to congratulate the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) on his very fine speech this afternoon on behalf of the Australian Labour Party. I am happy to feel that both sides of the Parliament agree with every word that was said.

Going back to the matter of a quota, it has been said before by successive Ministers for Immigration that a quota necessarily implies mathematical fixity. It has been asked time after time when this matter of a quota system has been raised: How would we apportion the numbers? How would we apportion between Ceylon and India? How would we apportion between Burma and Indonesia? How would we apportion between Cambodia and Vietnam? Would we base the quota system on numbers or would we base it on a percentage? Would we agree to admit a quota of Chinese Communists each year? Sir, if we decided to introduce a quota into Australia the first question that would have to be decided would be: How large is it to be?I think it is necessary in considering this problem to take note of the lessons derived from other countries. Both Canada and the United States of America adopted the quota system but, as has been pointed out by a previous Minister for Immigration, neither Canada nor the United States of America is better liked in Asia than is Australia. In any case, the quota offered by Canada and the United States was only a nominal figure. The United States has, within recent months, abandoned the quota system, having proved that it was unworkable and unsatisfactory. Surely that is a pointer for us to beware of ever adopting the quota system.

Many Asians accept the reasoning behind Australia’s immigration policy. It is quite wrong to imagine, as I believe a small handful of people do, that the peoples of Asia are aflame with indignation at Australia’s immigration policy. The honorable member for Grayndler made reference this afternoon to the Asian Relations Conference held at New Delhi in 1947 and pointed out that at this conference it was recognised that it was the right of every country to determine the nature of Ls population. This, of course, is the theme of our own policy in Australia. It should be remembered that almost every country of the world has a controlled immigration policy. Indeed, some Asian countries, as the honorable member for Sturt (Sir Keith Wilson) pointed out in some detail, have rigid restrictions against the entry of persons from other Asian countries. If honorable members analyse the situation they will see that there is no reason for criticism by anybody of anything in relation to immigration. A former Minister for Immigration, Sir Alexander Downer, summed up the situation very well in these words -

Our task is to build up our country’s population by the most suitable slock available and at a speed commensurate with opportunities for employment. In our immigration policy we have nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to apologise for. lt has more champions than critics abroad and is believed by both sides of politics to be in the best interests of the future of our country.

From time to time gallup polls have been taken in Australia to ascertain as nearly as possible the opinion of the Australian people in relation to admitting quotas or numbers from Asian countries. It has been consistently agreed by those people who have been approached by the gallup poll experts that we should be selective in our method of allowing entry. For example, a gallup poll taken in September 1963 - I have not time to give this in detail - shows clearly that public opinion in Australia at that time would not support a quota of more than 100 each year. That view was largely substantiated by another gallup poll taken between July and September 1964. At that time 8 out of 10 Australians would allow a few hundred migrants from Asia each year, which is about the number that we have been admitting each year at the discretion of the Minister. I read the other day an article by Mr. Denis Warner, a well known journalist and authority on Asian affairs. The article, which appeared in the Brisbane “Courier Mail” on 12th March, was in some respects critical, but I should like to quote a point made by Mr. Warner because he is a recognised authority who knows the Asian people and also knows our position and our needs. He stated -

It is clearly not in the interests of any society to accept more immigrants from any quarters than it can assimilate by marriage and employment.

Only a very few Australians - and certainly no responsible Asians of my acquaintance - have ever advocated the opening of any flood gates.

The Indonesians, the Filipinos, the Malaysians, the Thais, the Indians, the Burmese, and others have all suffered from lack of flood gates control. They understand the problem.

It is good to know this and to have that assurance by so eminent an authority as Mr. Denis Warner. Several speakers this afternoon have mentioned the difficulties encountered in other countries that have not watched carefully the flow of immigrants. The United Kingdom, for example, has been named. Referring to my records, I notice that in August last the present Minister for Immigration, speaking in Melbourne, said that we were naturalising 400 Asians a year. He went on to stress the homogeneous aspect of our policy and said that it was followed to avoid “ racial and social difficulties which have become a factor in other countries “.

Finally, Sir, I should like to quote for the record a few statistics in relation to the nationalities of persons granted Australian citizenship. I wish to do this for the express purpose of indicating for the record and for anyone outside the Parliament who is listening the wide range of countries from which we draw our immigrants. It may be said that the numbers drawn from some countries are very small. That is true, of course. I shall not go over again the various factors that are taken into account when the Minister is exercising his discretionary power to grant entry, but I particularly emphasise the wide range of countries from which he has admitted people to Australian citizenship. These are the official figures showing the number of persons of various nationalities granted Australian citizenship during the year ended 30th June 1965. They include the following -

In some instances, the numbers are not large, but those nationalities represent a very wide range. [ believe that they indicate the degree to which Australia’s immigration policy has been liberalised.


.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, it does not appear from the statement made by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) that the Government intends to make any change in Australia’s actual immigration policy. Nor does the statement appear to mean that there will be any drastic or really significant alteration in the administration of the policy. The statement seems to me to suggest only that there will be some easing of the restrictions at present placed on certain categories of non-Europeans who are prevented from becoming citizens of this country until they have been resident here for at least 15 years. It seems to me also that the Government proposes to ease the restrictions on the entry into Australia of certain qualified non-Europeans. So the Minister’s statement appears to propose only two changes. Indeed, perhaps it would be better to describe them not as changes but as extensions of existing provisions. The first will affect only a very small percentage of the total migrant population of Australia. The second seems to depend on several factors relating to ability and qualifications.

Perhaps I could use the Minister’s own words to describe, at least to some extent, what the proposed alterations mean. He said -

The Government has now decided upon two further measures which the House will recognise as important but as not departing from the fundamental principles of our immigration policy. First, it has been decided that non-European people who are already here under temporary permits but are likely to be here indefinitely should not have lo wait 15 years before applying for resident status and for Australian citizenship, but should be able to apply after five years residence, so ending a situation often criticised for its effect on individuals and families.

Dealing with the second proposal, the Minister went on -

The second decision is that applications for entry by well qualified people wishing to settle in Australia will be considered on the basis of their suitability as settlers, their ability to integrate readily, and their possession of qualifications which are in fact positively useful to Australia. They will be able after five years stay on temporary permits to apply for resident status and citizenship. They will be able to bring their immediate families with them on first arrival.

Parts of the Minister’s statement in my view require closer examination and further explanation. But I believe that before dealing with any matter or proposal relating to immigration policy it is as well to remember that the very first Minister for Immigration in Australia was the honorable gentleman who is now the Leader of the Opposition in this House, Mr. Calwell. As all honorable members are aware, he was Minister when the immigration scheme was begun in 1945 by the Labour Government. No-one, regardless of his political beliefs, could ever justly deny or, I believe, would ever want to deny that our immigration scheme was put on a very sound footing right from the beginning. This was largely due to the activities and sound judgment of the present Leader of the Australian Labour Party in this House.

I understand that when the immigration scheme began Australia’s population was about 7i million. It is something over 1 li million today. Of the increase of more than four million, about three million are migrants or the children of migrants. This indicates very clearly that without our policy of immigration our population growth would be very slight. I understand that the natural increase in our population - the excess of births over deaths - is now barely H per cent, a year. The net immigration rate is something like half the rate of natural increase. This, of course, becomes rather significant when measured over several years. However, we cannot just bring people into Australia haphazardly. Standards must be observed and’’ some control must be exercised, particularly in the early stages. In the beginning, naturally enough, it was realised that some of the early restrictions on entry and the granting of citizenship could be or might need to be eased as time went by. With the passage of time it has become possible to ease some of these restrictions. The Minister apparently considers that the restrictions imposed on non-European immigrants ought to be eased.

During the last two or three years particularly, the demand for drastic changes in our immigration policy to suit certain non-European countries has become stronger. The demand, however, has come not so much from the countries concerned as from certain sections of the Australian community or certain organisations which, though they may be genuine, have been mistakenly trying to create the impression that Australia is the only country that continues to exercise an immigration policy that does not allow the open gate system to apply. This, of course, is a contradiction of fact. But even if it were a fact, I would agree with the Minister, who said that a country has not only a right to its own immigration policy but also a heavy duty and a vital responsibility to administer such a policy in the interests of its own people. We all know, as does everyone who takes a real interest in these matters, that every country throughout the world exercises this right. So far as I am aware, no country adopts the open gate system. I am certain that no country can in this respect see much wrong with our policy. Nor would other countries expect us to alter our policy. Indeed, many of them realise, and doubtless would agree, that in many respects our policy and immigration laws are much easier than their own.

I understand that at this time there are between 38,000 and 39,000 non-Europeans in Australia, including about 16,000 who are Australian citizens, 11,000 of them being citizens by birth. There could be something like 4,500 who have been in Australia for at least 15 years and so have the necessary residential qualifications but have not applied for naturalisation or have been rejected for reasons other than an insufficient period of residence. If those 4,500 do not now qualify for citizenship it seems to me that the proposals of the Minister will not alter the position. There appears to be nothing in these proposals that will qualify for naturalisation a nonEuropean who has been here for five years, or even fifteen years, if he is now disqualified for reasons other than an insufficient period of residence. In this regard he will be in the same position as any other immigrant.

Between 1945 and June 1963 we received a total of 10,386 Chinese described as permanent and long term entries, and I notice from an answer given to the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) last year that 3,452 non-Europeans were naturalised in the 10 year period between 1955 and 1965. Of these, 2,428 were Chinese and 558 Japanese. If we take into consideration the 4,500 who have residential qualifications but have not applied for naturalisation or have been refused naturalisation for reasons other than an insufficient period of residence, and consider those numbers against our total intake I do not think it can be said that our policy with regard to naturalisation is as harsh as some people say it is.

As a result of the reduction of the required term of residence from 15 years to 5 years in certain circumstances there could be a fairly large increase in the numbers of non-Europeans naturalised, but I do not think a great deal of significance should be attached to this because the greatest increase would occur immediately after the easing of the residential qualifications. The numbers of naturalisations thereafter will depend on the rate of entry.

If we are happy at the present time to grant permits to non-Europeans who come here for five years, and then to extend those permits beyond five years, it must surely mean that we can see that these people will be of some benefit to Australia and can become reasonable citizens. In these circumstances there can surely be no good reason why such persons should not be granted citizenship on the same conditions as those applying to Europeans. If they did not measure up to the required standards in other directions they would, of course, be treated in the same way as others who are rejected, except that as they came here under a temporary permit the only action necessary would be to refuse to extend the permit.

It seems to me that the main decision that has been made, according to the Minister’s statement, is the one dealing with the actual entry of non-Europeans. Before moving on to that, however, I would like to ask the Minister whether the period in which a non-European was resident in Australia under a system of indentured labour would count as residence for naturalisation purposes, or whether the qualifying period would commence only from the time at which such a person’s contract or indenture period expired and he had elected and been given permission to stay in Australia. In this connection I am concerned mainly for people who have been employed in the pearling industry, for instance as divers. 1. know personally some of these chaps who have elected to stay in Australia. To the best of my knowledge they are decent fellows and enjoy the respect of the community in which they live. I believe they would make good citizens. I know one chap who is a particularly good type and who wants to bring his wife out here but cannot do so until he becomes naturalised. I believe it is less than four years since he received permission to remain here although he had several years in the pearling industry. 1 would appreciate an explanation from the Minister of the exact position of such persons.

The main proposal, as I said a few moments ago, is that which relates to initial entry. The Minister has said that applications for entry by well-qualified people wishing to settle in Australia will be considered, and I take it he means that, all other things being equal, they will be favourably considered. Then the Minister went on to say that no annual quota is contemplated, and with that I completely agree; but then he said further that the number of entries will be somewhat larger than usual - that is pretty vague - but will be controlled by a careful assessment of the individual qualifications. Finally the Minister said -

The changes are of course not intended to meet general labour shortages -

I am emphasising the word “ general “ - or to permit the large scale admission of workers from Asia, but the widening of the eligibility will help to fill some of Australia’s special needs.

As I said at the beginning, the statement did not appear to indicate any major changes in policy administration, but I am not completely satisfied about what could possibly flow from these changes. I do not doubt the word of the Minister for one moment, but I am more than a little disturbed. I would like some assurances with regard to what the Minister said about qualified people and about the large scale admission of workers from Asia. I would particularly like to know what is meant by the reference to filling Australia’s special needs and how far this requirement can be taken. I realise that the Minister gave some examples, but I would like some further clarification. When the Minister referred to special needs did he mean only professional needs, and was he talking of qualifications such as those of doctors, engineers, geologists, technicians and the like? It would not appear so, because he referred to workers. Did he mean qualifications such as those of fitters, turners and electricians? Or was he referring - and this is what I am particularly interested in - to qualifications possessed by people engaged in harbour dredging or construction projects or underground mining? I remind the Minister that only last year or the year before he gave permission for 20 Japanese to work on a dredge at Port Hedland - apparently they had some special qualifications - and also for two or three Japanese to work with some mining outfit. It would appear, therefore, that without any further easing of the administrative processes these special needs, or at least some of them, are already fairly well catered for or can be catered for.

The remarks about large scale admissions of workers could give rise to a suspicion - although I am personally convinced there is no ground for it - with regard to certain events of last year in connection with the entry of non-European workers whom a contractor or company wanted to bring out here to work on a particular project. It will be recalled that this suggestion was made and that it became a hot issue in Western Australia. Honorable members may also recall that last year a certain Japanese industrialist said that because of Japan’s interest in iron ore, some of the iron ore mines, ports and railways in Australia should really belong to Japan and that the companies should be permitted to employ Japanese labour. A little later it was said that if a Japanese company were given an opportunity to take on the job of deepening Geraldton harbour its decision to do so could easily depend on whether it was permitted to bring Gut Japanese labour. When this was reported in the “ West Australian “ newspaper the Liberal Premier of that State made certain comments which, as they were reported, seemed to suggest that he would offer no serious objection to such a proposition. I asked the former Prime Minister about this in the House some months ego. I asked him whether he agreed with the Premier of Western Australia. Although he said he would have a look at the report - he said he had not seen it but had certain views on the matter himself - he did not get around to doing so and I still do not know whether he and his Government were for or against the proposition. So I would like an assurance that this further easing of conditions of entry will not be the means by which entry under the conditions to which I have referred will be made easier or given an air of respectability.

I am disturbed about another situation. Let me give an illustration. A Japanese company bought or leased a copper mine in Western Australia and three or four Japanese were engaged there, supposedly in a supervisory capacity. Actually they were carrying out general work. The Mines Regulation Act of Western Australia does not permit Asians to be employed in mines. The matter of the copper mine at Whim Creek was raised in the Western Australian Parliament and the Liberal Government claimed that the employment of the Japanese was in order - that there was no infringement of the Act and that they should continue their work. Subsequently, however, a court ruled otherwise and the Japanese were obliged to cease their activities. What concerns me is the interpretation of special needs and qualifications. If Japanese with mining qualifications and experience seek to enter Australia, I am sure that a Liberal Government m Western Australia would claim that there was a need for them and would amend the Mines

Regulation Act. The illustrations I have given may not be looked upon as general labour shortages but may be considered to be specific labour shortages. I would like the Minister to assure me that there is no intention of easing entry under the conditions to which I have referred. I am sure that the Minister will appreciate my concern in this matter and the fact that this is a fairly hot subject in Western Australia. I would not want to see a continuation of what has happened in the past.


.- I agree with the remarks that other speakers in this debate have made about the speech we heard from the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly). So often have I said after listening to the honorable member, that I disagree wholeheartedly with everything he has said, but this afternoon is one of the few occasions when I can congratulate the honorable member on what I believe to be a worthwhile and important address to the House and to the nation. The subject of the statement by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) on 9th March is one of the most delicate subjects introduced into this Parliament for some time. Throughout Australia there are people who, irrespective of their political beliefs, support the Government’s migration policy. On the other hand, some who may normally support the Government oppose its immigration policy. In the main, most people support the changes of policy announced by the Minister. Certainly all three parties represented in this House support them. It is essential to have an immigration policy that is, in the long term, of advantage to Australia. Many of those who disagree with our policy unfortunately have a persona! grudge. So there are many differences of opinion as to how our immigration policy should be administered.

I and many other people believe in a chiefly homogeneous population. Others, un-. fortunately, do not. Some people believe that we discriminate to the extent of being too static in the administration of our policy. May I remind the House of alterations to our policy in recent years. In 1956, for the first time since Federation, we permitted non-Europeans to be naturalised and permitted relatives of permanent residents :n come to Australia. We also allowed highly qualified and experienced people to enter the country for indefinite periods. In 1957 we altered our policy to permit those admitted on a temporary permit to be naturalised after having been here for a qualifying period. This provision applied particularly to non-Europeans who had to be here for 15 years. In 1964 the rules governing the entry of persons of mixed descent were eased. This change in policy permitted the admission of people on compassionate grounds. It permitted the entry of relatives of people already here, people with experience useful to Australia and people able to contribute to Australia’s progress. Now the Government has announced more important changes. These in my opinion are not static. The first important change is the reduction of the qualifying period for nonEuropeans from 15 years to 5 years, thus removing a form of discrimination. In his statement the Minister said -

The second decision is that applications for entry by well qualified people wishing to settle in Australia will be considered on the basis of their suitability as settlers, their ability to integrate readily, and their possession of qualifications which are in fact positively useful to Australia. They will be able after five years stay on temporary permits to apply for resident status and citizenship. They will be able to bring their immediate families with them on first arrival.

The reduction of the qualifying period for non-Europeans, from 15 years to 5 years will be received extremely well. I welcome the fact that now all migrants will be equal. No longer will there be this particular form of discrimination. The Government’s decision does away with what was perhaps an unnecessary hardship. I. have known people who, due to the application of this rule, have been separated from their families for ten years - needlessly one might now claim. If this was not a form of discrimination I certainly do not know the meaning of the word.

The easing of conditions of entry for specialist migrants will be of some help to Australia in her shortage of skilled people, but I hope that it will not have an adverse effect on the countries from which these people may come because skilled labour is vitally important to many countries, particularly those of South East Asia. It is important, for example, that students who study in Australia under the Colombo Plan should return to their homelands and assist in their development. We must not bleed other countries of their skilled workers. After all, it is our aim to increase the educational standards of many overseas countries.

I was relieved to hear the Minister say that quotas would not be introduced. He said that annual quotas are not contemplated. May this always be so. 1 think the honorable member for Sturt (Sir Keith Wilson) or the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) referred to this matter. Quotas create an impossible situation. I know that some people believe in quotas and that pressure has been brought to bear from time to time for the introduction of quotas. To my mind it would be an impossible situation. If we introduced a quota system how would we determine the quotas? Would it be on a proportionate basis? Let me illustrate this point. New Guinea has a population of 2 million; Indonesia, 100 million; India, 400 million and China about 800 million. Under a quota system, for every two people we admit from New Guinea would we admit 100 from Indonesia, 400 from India and 800 from Communist China? This would not work. In no circumstances should the Minister consider introducing quotas. If he does he will not have my support, because I believe a quota, based on proportions, would be another form of discrimination, and we are trying to avoid discrimination. If we introduce quotas we must have regard to all people irrespective of their home country and of their colour.

Australia has a population of 11 million; the United States of America a population of 200 million. Geographically these countries are about the same size. Will Australia ever have a population of 200 million? I am sure the answer is in the negative. Australia is such a dry continent that it could not accommodate 200 million. Many parts of Australia would accommodate few people. I think that as a long range target we should aim for a population of 100 million. This must of necessity be an extremely long range target and not one to be reached in our time - and I certainly do not classify myself as old.

It has been said often that the eyes of the world are on Australia. This is true. Many people ask what we are doing in Australia about immigration, but they overlook the dryness of most of this continent. The American population is increasing. Can America absorb more people? Is America looking to Australia as a country to which Americans can migrate? Is this happening in the United Kingdom and in many European countries. I believe it is because of the density of population in’ other countries that so many people have an interest in Australia. All European countries have seasonal labour shortages but generally they must be approaching population saturation point. Is Australia the country to which people can migrate? Most Europeans look to Australia as a possible new home.

If we open the door, as it were, we will lose the homogeneity of our population. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) said that we do not want a Little Rock in Australia. I agree entirely. Nor do we want a Los Angeles, a South Africa or. for that matter, a London. Many of London’s problems today stem from the fact that the British immigration policy was not strengthened sufficiently early. The honorable member for Sturt (Sir Keith Wilson) referred to racial differences ki South East Asia. Ceylon will not accept Indians as immigrants, China will not accept Malayans or Indians; and so the story goes on in almost every South East Asian country. Australia is fortunate that it has had a firm immigration policy. I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has returned to the chamber. He was our first Minister for Immigration and I congratulate him for having put his feet under the table so early.

Our immigration policy must be administered with sympathy and understanding. It is important that the people in the countries to our north understand the policy. We should always remember the maxim, “ When in doubt, leave it out”, for if we amend our policy and open the door we will not be able to shut the door. It is so easy to open the door, but it is not so easy to close it. Every country naturally has the right to decide its own policy. I remember discussing immigration with a minister of religion. We could not agree. He felt that as a country wc were definitely discriminating unnecessarily against some people. Finally, after quite an argument, I said: “ Have you any definite ideas on what our policy should be? “ and he replied: “ Yes, an open door for all.” I said: “ Does this mean that you would allow every person on earth to migrate to Austrafia if he so desired? “ and he replied: “Yes.” I can assure honorable members that since then he and I have never discussed immigration with each other.

It is our prerogative to decide our policy. It is pleasant to be able to speak on immigration at naturalisation ceremonies and elsewhere knowing that the three political parties represented in this House are generally in agreement on the subject. It is nice to know that immigration is not a party political matter and that we can, for once, agree. We must make sure that we preserve the right to keep Australia’s population mostly homogeneous, so that in our children’s time Australia will still be a country in which people are happy to live and not, as the honorable member for Newcastle said, a Little Rock.


– Let me first take this opportunity to congratulate the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) who, by his very carefully considered statement and high principled attitude, set a very high standard for this debate. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King) has commented on the fact that this debate so far has been free from party politics. I believe that this has been so because of the example set by the honorable member for Grayndler, who, as “ Hansard “ will show, has directed himself over a long period of time to the search for the truth about this important matter.

Australia has somehow failed to project a fair image of its attitude to the immigration to Australia of non-Europeans. In a way, we have managed to do ourselves a great injustice. Australia has never been a seething hotbed of racialist reactionism. There have been, of course, occasions of fumbling indiscretion on the part of the Ministry with respect to particular incidents involving people from Asian countries. I am not trying to score here. I am talking of the whole range of bureaucratic indiscretions over the period of years for which various governments have been in office. Contemporaneously, this has certainly been the case. All Australians hope that that tendency which has been evidenced in the past will be minimised in the future, because the Minister’s statement indicates his awareness of this point.

Two aspects of Australia’s attitude, which seep out of this country and permeate Asia and other parts of the world, do us little credit and bring us no benefit. I refer first to our attitude to the Aboriginal people and secondly to the phrase “ white Australia “ as applied to our immigration policy. It is a good thing that efforts are being made to overcome these disabilities. The 1961 census figures disclosed that the non-European population of Australia was 41,500. 1 should imagine that this number would have increased considerably since then, yet if one goes to Asian countries, as I did a number of years ago, one discovers that a large number of people have the impression that we would not tolerate having Asians in this country for one solitary moment. This is due to the bureaucratic bumbling and other things to which I have referred.

The position is so bad that leaders of parliamentary delegations from here have become so embarrassed that they have found it desirable to side-step many questions asked during Press interviews or conferences. In fact, when I was a member of a Parliamentary delegation to Japan, so many questions relating to our so-called white Australia policy were directed to our spokesman that he could not say any more than “ No comment “, “ No comment “, “ No comment “. That was the reply to which he had to resort when questions relating to various facets of our immigration policy were shot at him like bullets from a machine gun. One could only feel embarrassed at our failure to account for ourselves.

I am pleased that the Minister has announced a modification of our immigration policy. Two specific objectives are mentioned. They concern non-European migrants. The proposal before us does not represent a complete overhaul of our immigration policy. The first change is that non-Europeans who are already here on temporary permits and who are likely to stay indefinitely can apply for resident status and Australian citizenship after five years instead of after 15 years as hitherto. I believe that this provision will remove what might be termed the principal cornerstone of concern and prejudice. People from almost any other part of the world who have been here for five years - an application for expeditious treatment can be lodged after 4i years - will be able to seek Australian citizenship. Hitherto nonEuropeans have had to wait for 15 years and this has given rise to the feeling that we have been prejudiced against nonEuropeans.

In passing, I should like to mention one particular matter which concerns an acquaintance of mine. The Minister referred in his speech to the relaxation of the 15 years rule with reference to Chinese who were admitted before 1956 and who, if they left Australia, could go back only to Communist China. In the case I have mentioned the person concerned was admitted to Australia before 1956. He has a temporary permit but he did not come from Communist China. He came from Hong Kong, so he does not have to go back to Communist China. I hope that he will not be subjected to prejudice as a result of the lack of clarity in the Minister’s statement about this modification of our policy. I mention the case because the change of policy may be a matter of significance to this family whose problem I intend to put before the Minister in the near future.

The second matter I wish to mention relates to applications for entry by well qualified people. It is stated that these will be considered on their merits. The applicants must establish their suitability as settlers and prove their ability to integrate readily and that they are in possession of certain qualifications. I hope that this statement does not represent merely a jumble of words which might militate against the prospect of ordinary down to earth working class people - I know that term is a little old fashioned now- coming to Australia. I hope that opportunities will be available for the non-academic, the non-rich, the ordinary decent fellow of the type that we are acquainted with in Australia, to participate in this enlightened immigration programme.

These are the generalities, the guide posts, not to detailed legislation, but to a new era of enlightenment in ministerial discretion, regardless of who may be the Minister at any particular time.

This afternoon, Sir Alan Watt, a former diplomat and Head of the Department of External Affairs was mentioned. For a number of years, he has had a good deal to say about these matters. At the Roy Milne lecture in Adelaide in 1964, he called for a public burial ceremony for the phrase “ white Australia “. He said -

The very phrase “ White Australia “, though in no sense official, haunts the Australian diplomat in Asia trying to build up goodwill.

He went on to say that world opinion would not permit Australia to allow the question of non-European immigration to lie or to be swept under the rug. I am sure that everybody participating or taking an interest in the debate this afternoon hopes that what is before us will not lead to merely sweeping the problem under the rug; that it is not merely a jumble of words, but is a manifestation of our realisation of the universal brotherhood of man.

Sir Alan Watt proposed two courses. One was the rejection of the phrase “ white Australia “ by the leaders of every Commonwealth political party and the strongest recommendation by leaders of those parties to all mass media of communication never to use the phrase in future; to bury it in the real sense. I have not had an opportunity to check the policies of all the political parties, but there has been rejuvenated thinking on this question by the Australian Labour Party. There is no mention of the phrase in Labour’s platform for the year 1966. From the standpoint of Labour, this is an era of enlightenment. I think our policy is worth placing on record because it agrees substantially with the spirit expressed by the Minister. It is -

Convinced that increased population is vital to the future development of Australia, the Australian Labour Party will support and uphold a vigorous and expanding immigration programme administered with sympathy, understanding and tolerance.

The basis of such policy will be -

Australia’s national and economic security.

The welfare and integration of all its citizens.

The preservation of our democratic sys tem and balanced development of our nation.

The avoidance of the difficult social and economic problems which may follow from an influx of peoples having different standards of living, traditions and cultures.

I am unable to say clearly what the Liberal Party’s policy is because one can find very little in its policy which applies directly to the subject of immigration. I made inquiries about the Country Party’s policy in relation to immigration. I might say that the Librarian told me he believed there had been a modification of the existing policy and that the new policy would be published in the near future. The only one available, according to the advice I have received, dates back to 1958. Under the heading “ Population and Migration “ the following appears -

Maintenance of the White Australia policy.

It will be a good thing when the policies of our major parties make no mention at all of this term, as Sir Alan Watt has said. We have never been overstrained in our efforts to accommodate non-European people who have wanted to come to this country, and I am not sure that the Minister’s statement represents anything like the radical departure which has caused at least one honorable member who participated in this debate to express consternation.

In December 1959 the former Minister for Immigration, then Mr. Downer, afforded some clarification of the Government’s policy. He had this to say -

May I refresh your minds in general terms of the categories of Asians who may settle in Australia. First of all, an Australian marrying an Asian may bring his wife or her husband, as the case may be, to live amongst us. This applies to naturalised Australians as well as natural born. Children can accompany their parents.

Secondly, an Asian lawfully admitted to Australia, for example, for trading purposes, who has lived here for IS years, who has abided by the conditions of his entry, who is of good character, who has a working knowledge of our language - both polite and impolite - and who has taken part in the normal Australian way of life, may remain in Australia indefinitely and become an Australian citizen.

Pausing there, it is obvious that we have improved on that because there is now not the need to have lived in Australia for 15 years before obtaining Australian citizenship. According to the Minister’s statement, Australian citizenship now can be obtained after five years residence. The statement by the former Minister continued - .

Thirdly, for the last three years the Government, desiring to bring about a better understanding of Asian culture and ideas, has provided specially for the entry of distinguished and highly qualified Asians to the Australian community. Thus, for example, an Indian philosopher, a Pakistani professor, a Ceylonese diplomat, a Malayan statesman, an Indonesian jurist, a Thai doctor of specialised knowledge, a Chinese internationalist, all would be freely accepted by my Department, and would, I know, be acclaimed in any Australian capital city. Nor do I speak in hypothetical terms. People in these categories are already here, and we are delighted to see them in our midst.

That was a clarification of the Government’s policy as far back as 1959. I am not sure that we are hastening very rapidly, or as rapidly as many people in Australia would like us to do in this matter.

Mr Peters:

– We are hastening rapidly enough.


– I know that the honorable member for Scullin is inclined to be less progressive in relation to this matter than are certain other honorable members from both sides of the House, but we all have demonstrated a commendable form of tolerance during the course of this debate. It is in a spirit of tolerance that we should consider the Minister’s statement, because no-one could possibly interpret it according to the letter of the law. Every one’s viewpoint is well and truly welcomed.

Sir Alan Watt’s position, which I outlined earlier, is substantially the same as my own. I think that we should shout from the roof tops that the term “white Australia “ is not a reasonable one to use. There is a great stack of figures to show the degree of acceptability which non-European people have in this country. It is true that their numbers, in terms of population, are nowhere near as large as those of people from European countries, but events and circumstances which gave rise to the old prejudices against non-Europeans, whilst understood, no longer apply. The issues which gave rise to the call for a white Australia policy emanated from the gold rushes in the middle nineteenth century. Back in that period the Chinese represented 7 per cent, of the population of Victoria. At that time separate colonies were taking action to exclude non-European people from Australia and the demand for a white Australia policy was part of a tide of fervent nationalism which led to Federation.

There was great concern because nonEuropeans were inclined to engage in cheap labour, and this could not be reconciled with demands for fair and reasonable wages. This was the time when industrial struggles were taking place and the time, unfortunately, when some of these people were used as strike breakers. Things have changed a great deal since, those days. We appreciate that industrial laws have been implemented and that there is no longer a likelihood that a situation of that kind will cause any great concern.

I believe there is a case for a real change in our policy, not merely in its words but also in the implementation of its words. Australia needs non-European migrants to enrich its own culture. This will not mean opening the flood gates any more than we have opened them to people from European countries. There is a need for us to permit the intake of non-European migrants so as to increase our understanding of our neighbours and to equip ourselves for participation in the international councils of the world. Of course, there is also the need to increase the intake in order to remedy what has been the fairly disastrous impact of our policy throughout Asia.

It is not good enough merely to drop the term “ white Australia “. We must recognise that colour is not the mark of any biological superiority. That conception is false in terms of science and it is false in terms of the experience which Australians have had in some measure. Racial arrogance is not prevalent in Australia. However, the view is often held that skin colour is the symbol of some differences. This is not the case in 1966 in regard to education. It is not the case in regard to religion. I understand that throughout Asia there are something like 10 million Protestants and 32 million Catholics, who have a compatibility with the Australian way of life. Skin colour is not the symbol of any difference in regard to politics. I am sure we could find throughout Asia every conceivable form of political attitude on prevailing controversies.

We can benefit from the experience of other countries - Canada, which introduced its quota system as far back as 1907, and the United States of America, which introduced its first quota law back in 1921. These countries have solved the problems to which such laws gave rise. Their experience should lead us to recognise that in Australia’s policy and in the interpretation of the policy recently enunciated by the Minister there is a need for flexibility and a great deal of commonsense. Having regard to the discussion in the Parliament this afternoon, which has been representative of the feeling of the Australian people generally, I believe that this will take place and that a better understanding will result between the Australian people on the one hand and their non-European friends and neighbours on the other hand.


.- Mr. Speaker, the statement on immigration by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) is a most significant one. J suggest that it reveals a mature assessment of the particular situation as we see it in Australia and the need for flexilibity according to changed circumstances in respect of our immigration policy. It so happens that policy statements on immigration have not been made very frequently. Perhaps we can suggest that we are the poorer for this because if policy statements had been available to us on more frequent occasions in the past it is quite probable that much of the misunderstanding both at home and abroad may have been removed. I say that because the Minister in his policy statements, no doubt, would have re-enunciated the principles and procedures which the country has embraced from time to time.

This Government has followed a restricted migration policy. I believe that within this charter it has embraced a wide range of nationalities, indeed, and that it has done so without departing from the principle of building a homogeneous population in Australia. The Government and the Opposition have not been widely divergent in this area of immigration and this very debate has demonstrated that this afternoon. There has been a unanimity of view from both sides of the House. As we look back upon previous discussion on immigration we have to recognise the tributes that flowed freely from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to successive Ministers for Immigration. I believe that the Government has been just as generous, if not more generous, towards the Leader of the Opposition who has been the subject of genuine praise from time to time because of the sound foundation which he laid in the early post-war years as Minister for Immigration. These were the formative years of the plan that this Government has embraced. I believe we have been generous. There has been a two-way traffic between the Government and the Opposition as the years have gone by.

But much of the misunderstanding of our country’s attitude was implanted on us by the Australian Labour Party platform which has carried down through the years. It was the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr.

Daly) who, with his associates, did some very sound work in this respect in the interests of his party and 1 have been most interested, not only in his speech of today, but in the very sound speech which he presented to his party’s federal conference last year, about the month of August, lt was the honorable member for Grayndler who said then that part one of the Labour Party’s platform commenced with the words -

Maintenance of a White Australia shall provide the basis for immigration policy.

He pointed out that the term “white Australia “ which was used in his party’s policy had no place in official vocabulary but that it had become a popular though not official way of describing Australia’s immigration policy. I believe that he said that it was shown in Labour’s platform in that way because of the difficulty in finding appropriate terms to fit the policy whilst maintaining the principle involved. He and his associates said that the term “ white Australia “ should be eliminated from their platform. Whilst it was removed it was considered that Australia’s immigration policy should be based on the principle of avoidance of different racial, economic and social problems. I believe that he and his colleagues were fully justified when they underlined that the term “ white Australia “ had become a major reason why objection is taken in some quarters to our immigration policy rather than the policy itself. The fact that the term has no official basis is evidently not known or is overlooked. He pointed out that the term was invented about 40 years before Federation and that it had found no place in any of Australia’s law. It was a popular, but not a legal, term. I pay tribute to the good work done by our friend the honorable member for Grayndler. Because of his strong presentation to his party’s conference, at long last it amended the wording of its policy and this term “ white Australia “ which has plagued the country for so many years has been dropped.

It is rather significant that the Press of Australia so presented this action by our friends of the Opposition that it was widely applauded. But what should not be overlooked, I suggest, is the fact that it was the policy of the Opposition party which down through the years brought to us some of this misunderstanding. We ought to place on record again and again that no Australian legislation has embraced this expression.

I turn now to the official record of recent naturalisations in this country. The return for 1964-65 was presented to the Parliament by the Minister for Immigration. The first section of the return deals with the number of naturalisation certificates presented in that 12 months period. My colleague the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) referred helpfully to some of these statistics this afternoon. Because they are so enlightening I would like to go back and deal with a few of the nationalities concerned, and then I have an additional reference to bring forward upon which my colleague did not touch. I believe that there are many people in Australia and abroad who are not aware that within a 12 months period Australia issued certificates of naturalisation to 299 people from Chinese background, 11 from Indonesia, 31 from Japan, 10 from the Philippines, two from Thailand, 29 from Tunisia and four from Vietnam. Regarding fellow member countries of the Commonwealth, we find that certificates of registration were issued to a very large number of people who also have come to Australia. I believe that you must add to the certificates of naturalisation these figures for they reflect a substantial number indeed. Citizens of Ceylon numbering 382 have obtained registration certificates. There have been 156 from India. There have been 61 from Malaysia in this same period of 12 months and 28 have come from Pakistan. Of the large number of 2,455 certificates issued to citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies, 43 related to people who were previously resident in Hong Kong and 23 to people from Fiji.

I believe that if many of the critics of the Government’s immigration policy were made aware of these figures they would perhaps drop their criticism. These figures are not only significant, they are most impressive. It would not be surprising if the number of critics were quickly and substantially reduced if they made a proper analysis of these figures and the additional figures available in the record to which I have referred. I believe that the Minister, his departmental officers and all of us who are supporters of this splendid immigration policy would be justified in giving these figures a wider publicity. I believe that the public relations of the Department of Immigration would be greatly enhanced if this were done over a period of time.

The concluding words of the Minister in the statement which is under debate were most acceptable to me and I should like to express my gratitude for the fundamental principles inherent in the final paragraph, which reads -

Our programmes and policies have likewise emerged from our history, our respect for law and order and our response to our special needs. Our primary aim in immigration is a generally integrated and predominantly homogeneous population. A positive element in the latest changes is that which will admit selected non-Europeans capable of becoming Australians and joining in our national development. Both the policy and the rules and procedures by which it is effected cannot remain static and must be constantly reviewed. Though redefined from time to time, they must be administered in accordance with the law, on principles decided by the Government, with justice to individuals and for the future welfare of the Australian people as a whole.

The Minister concluded his speech by saying -

These will continue to be the main elements in Australia’s immigration policy.

The whole of the statement reminds us that the policy on the admission of nonEuropeans was reviewed and liberalised in the years 1956, 1957 and 1964. Now in 1966, without departure from the Government’s basic principles to which we have been making reference, these two further measures are approved. Other speakers have dealt with the two major amendments but in relation to the ‘ fifteen years rule ‘ I should like to make my own few comments. 1 want to point out that this is an amendment that is somewhat overdue, because we have been concerned over its adverse effect on individuals and families. I put on record my own affection for a very fine friend who came to this country some years ago from the sub-continent of India. He came to us admittedly as a student, and he expected to do his studies here and then to return to India. But whilst in Australia he came under the influence of groups that appealed to him and he underwent a change of faith. When ho returned home on study leave it was only to find that his action had brought upon him excommunication by his family. He was ostracised, and he came back to complete his studies in

Australia, wondering what his future might be.

His contribution in church life and in the community was so outstanding and so appreciated that some of us did not hestitate to ask an understanding Minister for Immigration, backed by a government with a flexible policy when it comes to a point of humanity, to allow this man to stay in the country, perhaps indefinitely. He carried on his studies, he engaged in college tuition and in Christian leadership responsibilities, and the Mnister of the day agreed to allow him to stay in Australia, subject, of course, to the 15 years residence rule to which we have made reference. It so happens that the period of 15 years has almost elapsed, but had the current liberalisation been introduced earlier my friend would probably have been granted naturalisation and security, his service as a trained professional could have been stabilised, and the door could have been opened to him to establish his own home life in this country if he so desired.

Although I have given this illustration, do not for a moment let it be thought that I would be an advocate for a breakdown in our system of temporary permits for students, because I happen to be one who feels that it is morally sound for those thousands of young people who have been here and who are here at present as students under the Colombo Plan or as private students to return to their homelands. The very basis of the Colombo Plan student scheme and also our acceptance of so many other students - private students number about 11,000 - is that the benefits gained from our educational institutions should be taken back and employed in their own countries.

The Minister’s statement refers very soundly to the strain placed upon our educational facilities because of this helpful policy, and I express confidence that our friends in Asian countries from which we have been so pleased to accept students appreciate the help that Australia has offered and our policy that their young people should return home when their courses have been completed. We should, therefore, I suggest, be quite clear that the new decision by the Government to reduce the 15 years residence qualification to five years will apply only to non-Europeans who have resided here for a long time or who are for a variety of reasons likely to stay, as the Minister has put it, indefinitely. Separation of families will be rectified in many cases under this amendment, and this is wholly desirable.

The second point in the statement is that well qualified people, with their families right from the time of acceptance, will be considered for entry to Australia, subject to these essential and simple fundamental requirements: First, they must be considered to be suitable as settlers; secondly, they should demonstrate an ability to integrate readily; thirdly, their qualifications which we would be prepared to recognise should definitely be useful to our country. This should assist Australia, surely, by absorbing some talents in which our established communities have demonstrated deficiencies.

As the Minister brought his statement to a conclusion, he indicated again very wisely, in my assessment, that care should be taken, first, to engage in discussion with the governments of the countries from which people might be expected, to ensure that we do not impair our good relationships by accepting people in excess of the numbers that those friendly governments might indicate to be a fair thing. Secondly, because of the strain and the stress upon the educational institutions to which I have made reference, with some 12,000 students from Asia here, the Department will endeavour to see to it that students maintain a good standard in their educational programmes and that they do not unnecessarily extend their stay here, because naturally if this was allowed to continue the number of available places within the educational institutions would be lessened.

I like the reference by the Minister to the continuance of the handling of each individual case on the basis of understanding and humanity. It is perhaps important in these final minutes of my allotted time to point out that overall the officers of his Department have earned a very fine reputation for their co-operation, their kindliness, and their understanding of the cases brought to them.

The Government’s policy, therefore, is not based upon any thought of racial discrimination. The statistics which have been cited by some other speakers in the debate and which I underline surely indicate that in Australia there is no place for thought of racial discrimination. Under the Colombo Plan up to last year some 5,749 trainees had benefited and the Australian taxpayer had paid out willingly for this purpose some £55 million. In the last 10 years almost 3,500 non-Europeans have been granted Australian citizenship and in the past five years more than 22,000 visitors - nonEuropeans - have been in our country for varying periods of 12 months or more. We are always glad to welcome visitors of this kind. There is a place for them within our naturalisation programme. Without embracing a large number of them we can accept them under our restricted immigration policy.


.- The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) made a reference to the part that the Australian Labour Party played over the years in the formulation of the white Australia policy. We need to study carefully the first Parliament of the Commonwealth. It will be found. I think, that Barton, Deakin and Reid had a great deal to say on the subject of white Australia, more perhaps than did Watson, the first leader of the Labour Party. In fact, the first Prime Minister of our country, the Hon. Edmund Barton, posed this more clearly on racial grounds than did any Labour spokesman, because he made intermarriage his criterion whereas others had other aspects of what was called “ White Australia “ in mind.

The honorable member for Swan is right to note an evolving attitude in the Australian community, but wrong to compare this moment of policy with the policy of the previous Labour Governments in the way that he has. After all, the present Government has been in office for 16i years before it has introduced these modifications, and for most of those 16i years it pursued a policy substantially similar to that of its predecessors. It is rather outrageous to compare an attitude adopted after something approaching two decades with the attitudes of predecessors when the Government’s previous attitude was maintained for so long. There is no dishonour to a government in changing or evolving its policy after 16i years; but I do not think that a change made after so long a period can very well be made the basis of a claim to superiority over its predecessors.

The white Australia policy has been more unintelligently discussed by Australians than by almost anybody else. Many strange factors went into the formulation of the policy. The most difficult thing in historical research is to reconstruct the whole atmosphere of a period. It is necessary to find out really what people meant when they used the expression “ white Australia”. Barton used it, Deakin used it, Reid used it and Watson used it, but what did they mean by it? Fear, humanitarianism, the experience of neighbours, economic factors, foreign policy and naval influences underlay it. One myth that persists, and which underlies our foreign policy debates up to this moment, is that all Asia casts hungry eyes on Australia. This was never true. If Asians had had the aggression and the determination to migrate that Europeans had in the nineteenth century, this country would have been settled by Asians long before Europeans ever saw it. After all, we do subscribe to the myth that a country is discovered when it is seen by Europeans - preferably Englishmen - but in point of fact Australia had been seen by Asians for generations before any Englishman came here. The Malays traded with Australia. They were perfectly familiar with it, and they did not wish to migrate to it.

There is not a strong tradition of migration in Asia. 1 shall say one or two things about that in a minute; but first let us consider our immediate neighbour, Indonesia. Java is about one-quarter the size of Sumatra. Java has 90 million people, Sumatra has 7 million people. Neither Sukarno or the Dutch were ever able to persuade Javanese to migrate to Sumatra. The Mekong Delta has 2,000 people to the square mile. It has the most densely packed agricultural population in the world. So conservative are the settlers in that area that although there is good and almost empty land with a population of 10 to the square mile just a few miles away, people will not migrate from the Delta.

Japan, which developed a European outlook, became, we must say if we are honest, the country that we feared most, precisely because it had a European outlook. This adopted European expansionism is what we had to take into consideration. During the 19th century Japan was besought by the Government of South

Australia to provide labour to build the railways of the Northern Territory, which was then administered by South Australia. The South Australian delegation which went to Japan in 1877 was ordered out of the country, first for insulting Japan with the assumption that the Japanese would want to migrate to a place like Australia and secondly, for its assumption that if they did migrate they were fit only for coolie labour. Consequently, the South Australian delegation next besought the British colonial authorities in Hong Kong for labour, and the Chinese population of the Northern Territory today are the descendants of those Chinese who were brought out by the Government of South Australia from Hong Kong after the rejection by the Government of Japan of the request that Japanese should migrate to Australia. From 1788 to 1851 no colony of what is now this Commonwealth had any migration policy and in those 63 years no Asian migrated here. The gold rush in Victoria in 1851 brought large numbers of Chinese men intending to find gold, and also intending, when they had found it, to return to China.

All through our history there has been this unwarranted myth of Asian migration which I think has been one of the convictions which has helped keep us servile in international affairs. It is the myth that everybody is casting - to use the jargon expression - hungry eyes on our land. When large numbers of Australian people were campaigning for the white Australian policy many of them had in their minds something quite different from racial superiority. If honorable members were to go through the passage behind the Speaker’s Chair they will see a full length painting of the first Labour Speaker of this Parliament, the Honorable Charles McDonald, who was the member for Kennedy. McDonald was deeply convinced of the malice and the mischief of coloured migration because it was unwilling migration recklessly organised by irresponsible Europeans. We often say that we must not become like the United States. The Negro population of the United States are not the descendants of willing migrants. The migration of Negroes to the United States was organised by irresponsible, evil Europeans against the will of the people concerned. The consequences for the United States were deeply engraved on McDonald’s heart. He came from the north of Queensland. There the Pacific islands labourers were working in Queensland because of the blackbirding activities of European labour recruiters, as they were called, although actually they were labour abductors. A person could be dealing with the subject of “ White Australia “, as McDonald often was, because he was opposed to what was virtually slave labour. It would be a grave mistake to attribute to people 60 years ago a factor of racial superiority in their idea of what the white Australia policy was. They opposed slavery, they opposed a plantation economy, they opposed servile labour, they opposed abduction. They saw Fiji as an example of irresponsible migration organised by Europeans totally indifferent to the well being of the Fijians because it suited European plantation owners regardless of Fijians to introduce the Asian labour that they required. A similar thing happened in Natal. In actual fact, our first legislation took from Natal the dictation test which it was hoped would be the means of stopping this kind of migration without using racial terms that would have been offensive then to the United Kingdom Government. That Government was maintaining that all its subjects in the Empire were British subjects regardless of colour. If we are going to project back into the past the words “ white Australia “ we must see that this expression does not mean what the Asians believe it means today and does not mean what we would mean if we used that expression today. It meant in many cases opposition to the tragedy of abduction and Mr. McDonald always wanted the use of the word “ repatriation “ of Pacific island labourers rather than the concept that many of his colleagues had that they were deporting them. Some were hostile to Kanakas or Pacific island labourers, as if those people had ever wanted to be here.

The Admiralty was partly responsible for the policy. In the 19th century after the Napoleonic wars, the only career for a naval officer was in the suppression of the slave trade. Naval officers made their name in the Red Sea for the pursuit of slaving Arab dhows. The commanders of the British Pacific squadrons normally had graduated from that school. They were opponents of slavery and developed an instinct for recognising it. Constantly they were bombarding the Admiralty with complaints that the Queensland Government was conniving at a form of slave labour abducted from the Pacific islands. They asked the British Government to prevent it but as is often the case, the change really came because one set of enterprising businessmen cancelled out another. One set of enterprising businessmen in Sydney used ships to bring Pacific islands labourers to Australia and another set of enterprising businessmen decided that they could sell guns to the people of the Pacific islands. One morning in 1884, after a particular island had been well provided with guns, a labour recruiting ship came to the island. Its crew was wiped out by the native islanders and the ship was burnt to the water’s edge.

The blackbirders could understand that objection. So the “ recruiting “ was shifted to German New Guinea. The result of the recruiters’ activities was that in New Hanover, New Ireland and what we now call New Britain - they had other names as part of the German empire - a great antipathy of the white men was stirred up in certain areas with the result that German planters were killed. One morning Lord Carnarvon, the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs received a protest from Bismarck about the activities of what Bismarck called English - they were Australian - labour recruiters unwarrantably interfering in a German colony and stirring up racial hostility by their cruel activities. Bismarck was prepared to send out a German cruiser. This cut right into British pride because Great Britain in the 19th century was the scourge of slave traders. How appalling if a British ship had been fired on by a German cruiser when the British ship was engaged in something akin to the slave trade. Under the pressure of the Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs, Lord Carnarvon, the Government of Queensland was forced to make some real changes.

I do not think all Asia burns to come to Australia. I think we need to be sensible about this. The special antipathy we have always had to Asia as if it would be a special source of aggression does not square with our own history because we have been engaged in wars in the past which at least orginated in Europe and could not have spread to Asia unless all Europe had origi nally been involved. The statement the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) made in this debate ends the administrative practice of drawing the line at race. Everybody must welcome this. I do not say that we would always have welcomed such liberalism. Our thinking is in a state of evolution and if we try to say to Asians that we never had racial feelings we will be saying something that is untrue and we will never impress them. Nevertheless we have ceased to draw the line at race.

The statement also recognises that there are difficulties of absorption. There are special difficulties if we bring here illiterate, unskilled people of another culture. It is no use saying there are not difficulties; there are. These might really have nothing to do with colour but they relate to difficulties of absorption. I think the statement recognises that. It indicates that the policy will be that we will select those culturally most likely to fit into the Australian community. Insofar as it accelerates the processes of naturalisation from 15 years residence to five years, it ends some old injustices.

I think we do need to make clear to Asia that we denigrate no one on the ground of race. I think we also need to make clear that in common with Asian countries themselves we insist on our sovereign right to select permanent settlers who come to this country. The criterion that the Minister has laid down, as I see it, broadly is character, not colour, and that means character and qualifications in the widest senses. Migration is not a solution of the world population explosion. The production of foodstuffs and technical skills are the solution, and an efficient Australian community able to export large quantities of food is a fundamental Asian interest.

I think we still need to look at certain categories of people to whom we scarcely permit entry. I refer to the natives of Papua who are Australian citizens but normally speaking have not the right of residence in Australia. While we recognise that long term residence and study in Australia is of great assistance to many Asian countries, we need to recognise much more than we do that long term residence and studentship of natives of Papua and New Guinea in Australia is something we should allow. This should be permitted so that they thoroughly master the English language which we say is going to be the official language of their country when it is independent, and it will be so because of the multiplicity of languages there. It still is in India and many other countries of the world.

Here is a test of our sincerity. If we allow those from Papua and New Guinea who would meet the same criteria to reside here permanently, we will be saying that we are not acting towards the coloured people generously if they come from an area we fear and not generously if they come from our own Territory of Papua and New Guinea.


.-1 enjoyed immensely the discourse on history by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). I always do. He speaks extremely well on these subjects. But I wonder whether it was necessary at this stage when we are debating a simple statement by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) that he will remove discrimination against non-Europeans by reducing the qualifying period of residence in this country from 15 years to 5 years. I congratulate the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) on his contribution to the debate. He must be blushing to have compliments from this side of the House. He does not often get them but he deserves them today. One of the most important things we must consider in admitting to Australia people of non-European race is whether we can integrate them into the community. This must be a first principle. In Australia we are desperately short of three main things - men, money and water.

We cannot have the last two without men. Whether the change in our policy will make much difference to the number we will receive I question, but it will certainly help and it will certainly make it much easier for us to get men of ability and qualifications and men with the skills we desperately need if our development of this country is to proceed as we would like. But we do not want the problems that we see in the United States of America, South Africa and Rhodesia. Opposition members seem to agree almost unanimously that we should not encourage Colombo Plan students to stay here. I was interested to hear this, because quite recently at the Australian Citizenship Convention the Deputy Leader of the

Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) strongly advocated that any student who qualified should stay here. But then, he is noted for choosing horses for courses. Perhaps if he had been speaking today and had counted heads his approach would have been altogether different.

I think in choosing immigrants we should first accept those with the ability to help Australia grow and develop. We must set a standard of education and a standard of living. In the early days of our immigration programme, when we had a big influx of refugees and when possibly we were not able to screen intending immigrants as we would have liked and as we do now, we had a number of southern Europeans come here whose standard of hygiene and education left much to be desired. They would not be admitted today. It is true, as honorable members on both sides of the House have said, that almost every country has a restrictive immigration policy. I note here that there is no clause in the policy of the Australian Country Party that refers to the white Australia policy. There was, but that was an old policy which has long since been rewritten, although perhaps it has not yet been freely distributed.

I believe that Australia stands in a unique position in this part of the world. We are the only people of principally European origin in an area where we are surrounded by people of mainly non-European origin. We have a tremendous opportunity to do something really worth while. We can contribute much to the betterment of many people. We are not closely associated in the minds of Asians with the old colonial powers such as Great Britain and America and certainly they know that we are not a military threat. We are not a great financial colossus with the unfortunate knack that America seems to have of antagonising people by being over-generous. It is a basic fact of human nature that if one continually gives gifts to others and patronises them as the Americans often tend to do, a tremendous resentment is created. America has never been able to appreciate this. I am conscious of my experiences in the Middle East during the war. If we went into a shop in Palestine, in Jerusalem or Tei Aviv, asked the price of an article and agreed to pay the price that was first stated, the shopkeeper probably would not sell the article. But if we offered him half the price and engaged in the recognised bartering and bargaining, we would probably buy the article for very little more than we originally offered, the shopkeeper would offer us a cup of coffee and we would be friends.

We must realise that the approach of Asian people to many matters is different from ours. If we hope to exercise the influence that I believe we can in South East Asia, we must understand and appreciate the people of these countries The removal of discrimination from our immigration policy will help tremendously. We must remember that approximately twothirds of the world’s population lives not very far away from us. These people at present are underprivileged and many of them have never enjoyed a decent meal. They are not well clothed. They look to us not only for assistance but more for a partnership that will improve their conditions. They look to us for a guiding hand. They look to us because they are unhappy with their present way of life. The way they turn, whether to Communism or to democracy, will very largely be governed by our attitude to them. 1 do not think we will accomplish anything by opening the floodgates at any stage. I commend the Minister for not attempting to adopt a quota system that would be very difficult to apply. I suggest that, if we were to permit the entry of nonEuropean people whom we could not integrate into the community, we would destroy to a large extent our ability to do something worth while and to give a lead to the people in this region. I am sure that we would have difficulties and problems if we admitted a large section of people of non-European race who were not ready to accept our way of life fully. I am reminded very vividly of an experience I had not many years ago. My two boys were at boarding school in Sydney. Quite a few Chinese students from Singapore and Hong Kong were at the same boarding school. Their parents were allowed to come here to visit them, but for only a limited time. These people had European standards of living and, in their culture, were perhaps more European than non-European. They lived a good deal better than most of us were able to live. They had been British subjects for three generations. It is very difficult to tell them that we do not have a discriminatory policy. We should look carefully at people of this type. They have many millions of pounds that they would like to bring here and use in the development of Australia. But this is not easy. If they want to come here and to become Australians, surely there is a place for them here. But I say again that before admitting them we must be sure we can integrate them into the community.

I have much pleasure in congratulating the Minister on the move he has made. I believe he has done a tremendous job in a very difficult portfolio. He has not always had the sympathetic support from both sides of the House that he has had today. There have been occasions when, for purely political ends, some of the actions he has perforce had to carry out because of the existing law have been misunderstood and misrepresented. I commend the Minister for his sincerity and his wisdom in bringing forward this alteration to our immigration policy.


.- Let me say at the outset that I do not believe it is a sin to be coloured. I do not believe it is a sin for a coloured nation to want to retain a predominantly coloured population. But neither do I think it is a sin to be white or that it is a sin for a white nation to want to retain a predominantly white population. All I ask is that we in Australia should have the right to regulate the inflow of our immigrants in the same way as other nations regulate the inflow of their immigrants. Because Australia happens to be a white nation it does not follow, when some clamour to admit large numbers of non-Europeans is set up by people inside and outside Australia, that we must immediately bend our knee and give in to their wishes. Australia has every right to control her inflow of migrants. During this debate other speakers have given details of the restrictions that are applied by other countries under their immigration policies. Ours is a sensible policy. It has been designed to allow Australia to develop in peace without some of the problems that can be found in other nations and which are causing upheaval and bloodshed.

Some countries are now facing difficulties because of population differences. There is no need to mention those countries; most of them are well known. The progeny of immigrants are now controlling countries to the detriment of the indigenous people. People who have come to those countries from other lands are now telling the local people how they shall behave. They have control of the financial institutions and of the government, and the people to whom the countries rightly belong have no absolute say in how they shall be run. This situation may have taken years to develop, but it has developed because care was not taken originally to control the migrant inflow. We in Australia must remember that the decision we make today in regard to immigration must be studied in the light of the long term effects. We might be led to make decisions in haste just because somebody has complained that our policy is not humane or just but is racial in content. We might make popular figures of ourselves by altering our policy to meet those demands. Tt is easy to make such decisions, but it is not easy to study the problem now and to project it into the future to ensure that the difficulties that exist in other countries are not created in Australia.

Perhaps some will say that I am stretching the point in developing this argument. I point out that what I have mentioned has happened in other countries and that it could happen in Australia if we were not careful in making decisions. Throughout the years we have allowed a certain number of non-European people to come to Australia. On a couple of occasions we have altered our policy to increase the number of such people who may come to Australia and remain permanently. We have made those decisions in the light of previous experience. I hope that in the future the Australian Government, whatever its complexion, will look at immigration problems in the light of the experience we have gained and will look at our immigration policy from the standpoint of its long term effects. If we find that we can live with people of nonEuropean origin, then we can extend our policy and take in more of such people.

It is suggested from time to time that we should have an open door policy. Such a policy is supported by people inside and outside this Parliament and by people who write articles for newspapers and journals. These people say that until such time as we have such a policy we will be suspect among the non-European nations. It is easy to advance that argument. Such an argument can be advanced without giving any thought to the long term prospects and the bad effects that might accrue to Australia. There ate some inside and outside the Parliament who .support a quota system. As the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said a few moments ago, a quota system would not solve the economic or population problems of any of the Asian nations. The population of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, to mention only three Commonwealth countries, increases at the rate of approximately 100 every five minutes.

I ask those who suggest that we should have a quota system to consider what little effect the taking of even 2,000 people from India, Pakistan and Ceylon would have on those countries. I ask them to consider whether it would help them to attain a higher standard of living. I ask them to consider in particular what would be the effect upon the harmonious relations that at present exist between Australia and those countries. If we were to take 2,000 people, would we take the poverty stricken from the streets of Karachi, Colombo or Delhi, or would we look for professional men, tradesmen and technicians? Judging by what I have heard from those who have supported the quota system or have spoken to me about it, I am certain that they envisage our taking professional men, technicians and tradesmen. In all Asian countries there is a great shortage of professional mcn and tradesmen. Indeed, several Asian countries have appealed, and are appealing, to their compatriots to return from overseas. Professional men who have gone overseas have been asked to return to help with the development of their native country. We must beaT these things in mind. If we appeal to technicians and professional men to come from underdeveloped nations, we will be doing an injustice to those nations and later, perhaps, to ourselves. Australians have been complaining about the brain dram from Australia, but we can afford to lose more professional men and technicians than can most of the Asian countries.

I have travelled in several Asian countries within the last couple of years and in not one have I found the degree of hostility to our established immigration policy that a lot of people would have us believe exists. Generally the people who speak of hostility overseas are those who defend an open door policy or a quota system. Amongst our own people there are some, including people who work for newspapers and other journals, who foster ill feeling inside and outside Australia. Were it not for the publicity that they give to these matters and the deliberate intent on their part in some instances to write Australia down and to create ill feeling in other countries, 1 believe that our established immigration policy would be even less criticised than it is at present. I repeat that I have not found in Asian countries the degree of hostility to our policy that a lot of people would have us believe exists.

We read very little in Australian newspapers and journals about such matters as the deportation of European citizens. The figures I intend to quote have been mentioned before, but nevertheless I intend to repeat them. Between January and December 1965 a total of 562 Europeans and 57 non-Europeans were deported from Australia. There would be very few people inside or outside Australia who have heard any word of the deportation of Europeans from Australia, but a number of the cases where non-Europeans have been deported have been given wide publicity in our newspapers and in newspapers overseas. Our established immigration policy is not based on colour of skin. If it were based on the colour of skin, it would exclude thousands of southern Europeans who have come to Australia and whose skins are far darker than those of any Asian.

I believe that the steps that have been taken by the Minister and announced in his statement are steps that should have been taken. I believe in periodic reviews of our immigration policy, particularly on the entrance and permanent residence of nonEuropeans in Australia bearing in mind the experience that we have gained by concessions that we have granted up to this stage. If in the next few years no bad effects have developed from concessions that the Government has granted at that point of time - concessions, perhaps, which are a little overdue - then I believe that further concessions can be made. But at every step when we review our immigration policy, let us remember that not very many of us will be around should difficult situations develop. If we are not careful in the decisions that we make now, our sins could be visited upon our children or our children’s children. We have a peaceful nation in which all of our population has been able to live in peace and harmony. I believe that it will be kept this way. But, at the same time, I believe that we have a duty, humane and otherwise, to do what we can to give a better standard of living and assistance to other people in the world.

I know that Labour’s immigration policy was announced earlier today, but 1 feel that at this stage it should be restated. I read the policy again so that it might be clearly known to the people of Australia and to our Asian neighbours that there is no racial basis in our policy. The Australian Labour Party’s immigration policy states -

Convinced that increased population is vital to the future development of Australia, the Australian Labour Party will support and uphold a vigorous and expanding immigration programme administered with sympathy, understanding and tolerance.

The basis of such policy will be -

Australia’s national and economic security.

The welfare and integration of all its citizens.

The preservation of our democratic system and balanced development of our nation.

The avoidance of the difficult social and economic problems which may follow from an influx of peoples having different standards of living, traditions and cultures.

That means that any person from any country is entitled to apply to enter Australia as an immigrant and, providing that he can measure up to the standards which are laid down in our policy, we are prepared to welcome him. Again I congratulate the Minister on the concessions that have been granted and announced in the statement that he made regarding our immigration policy. I trust that reviews of our policy will continue so that Australians will always be able to say, as we have been able to say in the past, that we are proud to be associated with any person from any country.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Foa) adjourned.

page 614


Bill presented by Mr. Howson, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Minister for Air · Fawkner · LP

.- I move-

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to extend the operation of the Sulphate of Ammonia Bounty Act 1962-1964 for a further maximum period of six months to 30th September 1966 or such earlier date as proclaimed. Under the existing Act, bounty will cease to be payable in respect of sulphate of ammonia sold after 31st March 1966. The Tariff Board is reviewing the question of assistance to producers of sulphate of ammonia in the context of the Board’s inquiry into the Australian chemical industry generally. It is desired to continue assistance to producers in the interim period, pending receipt and examination of the Board’s report. Amendments to the Act with respect to the recent changeover to decimal currency have also been made. I commend the Bill to honorable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.

page 614


Ministerial Statement

Debate resumed (vide page 613).


.- So much has already been said during the course of this debate, and said so very well, that I think little of an original nature remains to be said. I wish to join with previous speakers in congratulating both the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) and the Government on a decision to put nonEuropeans on the same footing as Europeans with regard to naturalisation. I believe that this decision will remove long-standing resentment which exists in some Asian countries against our present policy. I believe that it is a very good change for two main reasons: First, on humanitarian grounds in that it will help to unite some families which have been separated for a considerable number of years; and secondly, because Australia, geographically, is situated in

Asia.I think that commonsense demands that we do what we can, where it is possible to do so without lowering our standards, to live in harmony with our Asian neighbours.

I am quite sure that in making this change the Government has gained in goodwill. Further, this subject is one on which I hold very strong personal views. Nearly four years ago in this House I asked the Government to give consideration to reducing the number of years set as the qualifying period for naturalisation of non-Europeans. I believe this change not only to be just and sensible but also to be logical because at naturalisation ceremonies speakers representing the Government are fond of pointing out to the candidates for naturalisation the advantages of Australian citizenship. They tell the applicants that Australian citizenship confers on them the right to the full protection of Australian laws and the right to permanent appointment in the Public Service, should they so desire it. We point out to them that they will have the right to vote. In other words, they will have a say in who shall govern this country. If they wish, they may even offer themselves as candidates for Parliament. We point out to them that Australian citizens of appropriate age - they must be 60 or 65 years of age and have been resident for 10 years in Australia - have a right to receive the age pension. Finally, we tell them that if they wish to travel abroad they are entitled to the privileges of an Australian passport. These are some of the tangible advantages of Australian citizenship.

I believe that some of the less obvious advantages are more important. For instance, there is the ability to grow up in a community knowing that one is really part of that community. All of these privileges have been denied to many people who have been residents of Australia for periods up to 14 years. This relaxation must result in these people becoming even better citizens as they will have a real and personal interest in seeing Australia develop and progress because it will now be their own country. I believe that their doubts and uncertainties will be removed.

Many non-Europeans have been really worried in the past not particularly for themselves but mainly for their children who will grow up as Australians. Their children may be different from other Australian children in appearance but certainly not in language and interests. These children will be able to contribute very greatly to Australia’s prosperity and future progress. I know that there are many people of nonEuropean origin who have been living in Australia for 10 years or 12 years and who have had very real fears that a change of government might result in a change of policy and that they might not have the opportunity, even at the end of 15 years’ residence, to apply for naturalisation, after working hard to establish themselves here. Many of them fear that, through change of policy, they might have to go back to the country from which they came. Many of these people are excellent citizens. I believe that they will be even better citizens now that they know that they are here to stay with the same rights and privileges as Australian born citizens.

Many previous speakers have pointed out that Australia’s immigration policy is nothing to be ashamed of or to apologise for. It is a great deal more generous than many people realise. I believe that the present Minister for Immigration has nothing to apologise for in regard to the manner in which he has administered the present immigration policy. At the same time, I congratulate both the Government and the Minister on the introduction of this humane, sensible and progressive measure.

In conclusion 1 ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to allow me sufficient latitude before I sit down to pay a tribute in this discussion on immigration to Australian immigration officers overseas. Unfortunately, I have been unable to participate in the last three or four immigration debates that have taken place. From personal experience, I have found these officers without exception to be efficient, courteous and helpful. I have found that invariably they are held in high regard by the people with whom they come in contact in the countries in which they reside. 1 feel that the people of Australia should know this. For that reason, I place this tribute on record.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Peters) adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 5.54 to 8 p.m.

page 615


Ministerial Statement

Debate resumed from 22nd March (vide page 472), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -

That the House take note of the following paper -

Statement of Policy by New Government - Ministerial Statement, 8th March 1966.

Upon which Mr. Calwell had moved by way of amendment -

That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof - “ this House records -

its most emphatic opposition to the despatch of conscripted youths for service in Vietnam and the increased military commitment in that country, and

its disapproval of and grave concern at the

Government’s failure -

to maintain the purchasing power of the Australian community;

to retain an adequate and proper

Australian share in the ownership and development of our national resources, particularly in Northern Australia;

to alleviate the effects of the drought and take steps to rehabilitate rural industries and conserve water resources;

lo make adequate provision for housing and associated community facilities; and

to submit to referendum the two

Bills to alter the Constitution in respect of Aborigines and the Parliament which were passed last year and, in connection with the latter Bill, to disclose the related distribution proposals “.

Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has proposed an amendment to the motion that the paper that I presented to the House on 8th March be printed, that motion providing an opportunity for honorable members to debate my statement. It is one of the major ironies of Australian politics that the amendment, which is claimed to be virtually a motion of no confidence, has been submitted by a leader who is unsure of his leadership of his party and, indeed, unsure of the deputy leadership of his party, to say nothing of his party’s policies. He is certain of only one thing - that each member of his party must toe the line of dictation from its outside organisation or face expulsion from the party. This, Sir, is the alternative government that the Australian Labour Party offers to the Australian people. However, I do not intend tonight to engage in a lengthy political argument with honorable gentlemen opposite. I have more important business to attend to in the limited time available to me and there will be other opportunities for these issues to be thrashed out between us.

The amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition challenges a major aspect of the Government’s foreign policy and military strategy. He has attacked a vital aspect of the measures designed to maintain our military forces at the desired level and at their highest degree of effectiveness. The gulf that lies between the Government and the Opposition in these matters has been clearly revealed and the Parliament has very properly been concentrating its attention on this division over what becomes for governments and parliaments the most important subject that they have to discuss - the security of the nation. There is a clear choice between what the Government has decided and what the Opposition proposes. These matters have been vigorously debated. The Government and its supporters hold firmly to their view of the necessities of the situation. Indeed, as recently as yesterday Government supporters in both Government parties and in both Houses of the Parliament requested me to say publicly on their behalf that they unanimously support the Government in its policies in relation to both South Vietnam and the use of national servicemen. The Opposition persists with its resistance to the point at which it describes these issues as being appropriate for determination at a general election. Sir, the Government accepts full and final responsibility for its decisions and will be answerable for them. It is confident that as the public becomes fully informed about what is involved in these issues the people will give strong backing to it.

One thing that should be noted is that the Government, while it has final responsibility, has acted after seeking the best advice available to it from its own defence advisers and on information that it has ob tained from allied and other friendly governments. This Government takes its decisions on defence against the background of advice from competent and experienced officers, both Service and civil. I should like to make it clear that the Government does not act in a vacuum or on impulse or for some political purpose. The first concern of any Australian government must be the security of this country, and procedures have been established to assist the Government in arriving at sound decisions in this vital area of policy. The Government works on the basis of long range strategic appreciations submitted to it by its professional advisers in the fields of external affairs and strategic, military and economic matters. This advice is channelled to the Government through two principal bodies. There is the Defence Committee under the chairmanship of the Secretary of the Department of Defence. It is composed of the Chiefs of Staff and the Permanent Heads of the Departments of Defence and External Affairs, the Prime Minister’s Department and the Treasury. This Committee deals with questions involving the widest issues of defence policy. For professional military advice, the Government looks to the Chiefs of Staff Committee, which is composed of the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff and the heads of the three Services.

The strategic appreciations placed before the Government take into account future trends in the international situation, the assessment of possible threats to our security, and contingency plans developed in consultation with our allies. A great range of information is available to the Government from our own and allied sources, though naturally this cannot all be made public. There is an analysis of this as it bears on the problems of Australia’s security, and conclusions are placed before the Government by men of experience and judgment. This is something which proceeds on a continuing basis, for we do not get our advice from a Federal executive outside this Parliament. We get ours from the Government’s official advisers. By a systematic process of discerning the fundamental issues that determine our security, we project our thinking forward as far as is reasonably possible. The decisions on defence, I repeat, are decisions of the Government. But in arriving at those decisions, the Government takes into account the considered conclusions of its professional advisers in all the relevant fields.

The fundamental difference between the attitude of the Government and its supporters and the attitude of Opposition members is that we see the events in South Vietnam against the historical background of postwar Communist aggression. It seems to us utterly lacking in realism to ignore the part that Russian and Chinese Communism has played in the encouragement of aggression in South Vietnam and the material assistance given by the Russian and Chinese Governments to the Communist Government of North Vietnam. The members of the Vietcong have taken their direction from Hanoi. It is only by ignoring the role of Communism in the postwar ideological contest that the Leader of the Opposition and his supporters can have come to the hopelessly unrealistic conclusion that this is merely a civil war and that we should let the Vietnamese, North and South, sort out the situation for themselves. It should be noted that of the four political parties represented in the National Parliament, three - the Liberal Party of Australia, the Australian Country Party and the Australian Democratic Labour Party - take the same view of events in South Vietnam and of their significance. The view of the Commonwealth Government is in accord with that held by three successive Presidents of the United States of America - first, President Eisenhower and President Kennedy and now President Johnson. On the benches opposite we have representatives of the one party that challenges the judgment of the country’s expert advisers and of these three friendly Presidents of our great ally, the United States.

South Korea, which was itself so recently threatened by Chinese Communist aggression, is supplying in South Vietnam forces which, proportionate to its population, represent the same scale of assistance as is being given by those of the United States. Australia is helping the free Government and people of the Republic of South Vietnam to defend their freedom and independence against an attack directed and in large part supplied from North Vietnam. We are helping to prevent the success of Communist aggression. If honorable members opposite want any further proof that this aggression is Communist directed, Sir, let them examine the findings of the Legal Committee of the International Commission for Supervision and Control which was established to supervise the observance of the Vietnam ceasefire of 1954. The Commission is composed of Indian, Polish and Canadian members. The Legal Committee, with Poland objecting, reported in 1962 -

There is evidence to show that arms, munitions and other supplies have been sent from the zone in the north to the zone in the south with the objective of supporting, organising and carrying out hostile activities, including armed attacks, against the armed forces and administration of the zone in the south.

One could quote at length the findings of this Committee firmly establishing intervention from the North. In the three year period from 1959 to 1961, the North Vietnam regime infiltrated 10,000 men into the South. In 1962, 13,000 additional personnel were infiltrated and by the end of 1964, North Vietnam may well have moved over 40,000 armed and unarmed guerrillas into South Vietnam. Most recently, Hanoi has begun to infiltrate elements of the North Vietnamese Army in increasingly large numbers. Up to the end of January 1966, there was evidence that nine regiments of regular North Vietnamese forces were fighting in organised units in the South. This is the civil war that honorable gentlemen opposite persist in proclaiming it to be.

In the long run, the threat to South Vietnam is a direct threat to Australia. That is the view of this Government. We are much more dangerously placed than is the United States of America. The previous Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, announcing in Parliament on 29th April 1965 the decision to send the 1st Battalion to Vietnam said -

The takeover of South Vietnam would be a direct military threat to Australia and to the countries of South and South East Asia. It must be seen as a part of a thrust by Communist China between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Yet honorable gentlemen opposite continue to deny that this is the situation in that part of the world.

Mr Calwell:

– We do.


– Order! A number of honorable members persist in loudly interjecting. I remind the House that the Prime Minister is limited to 20 minutes. The challenger was unlimited. I ask honorable members to observe the Standing Orders. If they do not do so, I shall have to deal with them.


– We cannot leave the containment of aggressive Communism in Asia to our allies and their national servicemen. The United States has made a sustained, firm and large commitment to the South Vietnamese Government and people. As leaders of our own Government have said previously our stake in preserving the security of South East Asia is at least as great as that of the United States. It would be outside the character of the Australian people to leave the fighting to the Americans in what we know are also our interests and our causes.

It is within our capacity to make the enlarged contribution which we have offered. The Army forces to be deployed to South Vietnam will constitute approximately 10 per cent., in terms of personnel numbers, of the strength of 40,000 to which it has been approved the Army is to rise by 1967. The Government’s enlarged contribution to South Vietnam has been measured against all our other commitments including those to Malaysia and Singapore. It has been of great value and reassurance to us to know of the United Kingdom’s declared intention to maintain a strong military presence in this area. The deployments to South Vietnam are also, of course, fully consistent with our obligations and requirements to retain adequate forces lor the defence of Australia and its Territories, including Papua and New Guinea.

Now, Sir, I turn to the question of the introduction of national service. The Menzies Government conducted a review of Australia’s defence position in 1964 against a background of an accelerated deterioration in the strategic situation in South East Asia. China had committed open aggression against India. North Vietnam, with the encouragement of China, had increased its terrorist and insurgency campaign against South Vietnam. Communist armed activity continued in Laos. There was a resurgence of Communist terrorism in northern Malaya, and Indonesia had stepped up its armed confrontation of Malaysia.

In his report to the Parliament on 10th November 1964, the then Prime Minister,

Sir Robert Menzies, pointed out that Indonesian attacks against Malaysia could create a real risk of war, and that Australia must prepare for all eventualities including the control and, if necessary, defence of the frontier between West New Guinea and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Our defence review showed clearly that the likely military situations Australia must be prepared to face had increased in number and complexity. Does anybody opposite deny that? It was apparent that the tasks already entered upon must be maintained and that a rapid buildup of ground forces would be required to enable this to be done and to prepare against further possible contingencies including an increase in cold war commitments; meeting agreed commitments under collective security agreements if called upon; providing bilateral assistance to our allies if required at short notice; increased provision for the defence of Australia and her Territories; and the development of forces against a further erosion of the strategic situation in South East Asia and as a basis for rapid expansion in the event of war.

The Regular Army strength at the time was 22,750. The assessment by the Chiefs of Staff Committee of the actual, foreseeable and contingency tasks showed that an effective Army strength of 33,000 was required by the end of 1966. All practicable steps were taken to attract an increase in volunteers for the Regular Army. Pay was increased, conditions of service were improved, quarters were modernised, the number of married quarters was increased, amenities were improved, the retirement benefits scheme was streamlined and an intensive recruiting campaign was undertaken. These measures produced some additional recruits. It became evident, however, that in a time of great prosperity with over full employment and intense competition for young men, it was not possible to obtain the necessary increase in effective strength within the time required. A survey of recruiting trends showed that some 3,000 volunteers would be recruited each year for the Army. Allowing for wastage as members completed their engagements and return to civil life, the net increase in strength would be only of the order of 750 a year. To obtain an increase of some 10,000 in strength in two years, there was no alternative to the introduction of selective national service.

No party in this place has a monopoly of concern for the young manhood of Australia and it is an unwarranted presumption on the part of any member of Parliament to claim it. But this Government has concern for the national security of Australia and when our security, on the advice of expert advisers, had to be supported in the way we have been told as to the numbers required, we faced quite realistically and firmly in the national interest the harsh decision which then lay ahead of us. We have an illustration of how the Opposition would have met that kind of challenge. Our national security produced the need for a national service scheme and, accepting that need, what fairer or more democratic method of selection could be devised?

Mr Calwell:

– The lottery of death.


– That is the way the Leader of the Opposition distorts the situation. He is running true to form because when his own former leader introduced in a time of national peril a scheme to call up young men in this country for national service, he opposed it. The honorable gentleman resisted it and he is running true to form again. The honorable gentleman cannot get his mind on economic matters away from the depression years of the 1930’s. On the defence matters, he cannot get his mind outside the conscription issues of 1916 and 1917. What Australia needs is a government which faces up to the reality that here we have a country which is expected to shoulder its own share of obligations. With maturing nationhood, it is proud to take its share of that responsibility. I say that, sure as I am that the young manhood of Australia will accept its obligations with pride and will serve Australia with credit.

I am glad to be able to tell the House that in the course of the next month, as I indicated in my statement, I shall be visiting our troops in a number of their stations abroad. I am quite certain that when I come back to this Parliament it will be with a heartening recognition that this young Australian battalion which has served us with such distinction in Vietnam, and our troops in Thailand, in Malaysia and in Borneo, are helping to discharge the national obligations of a country which can stand before the rest of the world proudly, knowing that it has faced up to the need to maintain the eternal vigilance that is necessary for the preservation of freedom throughout this troubled world.

We shall not be deterred from that course by the threats of the Opposition. We are confident that once the Australian people know the realities of the situation they have to face they will support this Government and they will support Australia’s young manhood in the testing time that lies ahead.


– Order! The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.


.- This debate is based on the report made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) to the nation on 8th March, the opening night of this sessional period. It was a much heralded statement. The Prime Minister spoke for approximately one and a quarter hours. He could have reduced this time considerably and yet told the House his story much better. 1 recall that after the first 30 minutes his statement sounded to me more like a policy speech than a report to the nation.

Let us advert briefly to the scene tonight. The Prime Minister has found it necessary to make two speeches during this debate - a most unusual procedure. He commenced his speech by lampooning the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). He made a personal attack on the Leader and his Deputy and tried to smear them with the aspersion that the Leader of the Opposition was unsure of his position and of his Deputy. Let me assure the Prime Minister that the Australian Labour Party will look after its own affairs without seeking his advice. Let me say further that there is a great deal of compassion within the framework of the Australian Labour movement. If, because of the human frailties to which we are all subject, mistakes are made from time to time, this compassion will have a very strong bearing on the decisions of the Labour movement. It ill becomes the Prime Minister to make a personal attack upon the Leader and Deputy Leader of a party which represents more than 50 per cent, of the Australian electors.

The main points contained in the Prime Minister’s report can be reduced to three. The first is that the Government will provide more money to try to lift the home building industry out of its depressed state. The second is that it will give some financial assistance for drought relief, and the third relates to the Government’s decision to send 4,500 combat troops to the war torn area of Vietnam. The last announcement has caused consternation in peaceful and peaceloving homes throughout Australia. Vietnam is a war area. A war is being waged there with all the ferocity and full blooded action of previous wars. It is equally as dangerous for the troops engaged in it as were any phases of our two world wars. It has been described as a cruel, dirty war. This emphasises the stark reality that our young conscripts who are being forced into this war jungle undertake a grave risk of never returning to our shores.

The Government has been challenged to say whether we are or are not at war. The former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, said that we are at war. The present Prime Minister states that we are not at war. The people of Australia have a clear right to know the truth and the Government has a clear duty to tell the truth and reveal to the nation the full story and implications of its military policies. An objective assessment reveals that we are at war. Therefore, the country should be geared to a war time regimen. All the forces necessary to prosecute a war should be mobilised and regimented. Our national resources should be harnessed so that no section can profit from the sacrifices of its fellow citizens. At the moment, only our 20 year old conscripts are regimented while manufacturers are demanding their pound of flesh for the provision of war materials and the necessities of war. The action of the Government in providing war medals and decorations for Vietnam soldiers is a clear indication that the statement by Sir Robert Menzies that we are at war is a statement of fact and that the nonadmission by the present Prime Minister that we are at war is a refusal to recognise the fact.

One of the sordid things about the whole business is that the Government continues to trade with the enemy. On the one hand the Government holds up mainland China as the enemy we are fighting, yet, despite this assertion, it continues to trade heavily with China - the enemy - and, in some cases, extends credit to this Communist enemy. Could anything be more heartless? Could anything be more disloyal to the men who are forced to risk their lives in an overseas war far from their own soil? Should we expect the young soldiers and their parents to be contented and satisfied when they know that the burdens of this war are not evenly shared; that they are being borne by one side only? A poignant reminder is the human story published in the Press yesterday. Mrs. Gwen Phillips, of Melbourne, whose husband was killed in Vietnam at the weekend, said -

I’d like to think that Tom’s death has achieved something, but I know in my heart that it hasn’t. I know that I am one of the thousands who are going to hear news like this. And when it’s all over there will be a truce and nothing will have been achieved. Everybody thinks that men like my Tom volunteer for Vietnam. Tom didn’t volunteer, he did not want to go. But they sent him anyway. Knowing that he died in a war that nobody seems to know anything about doesn’t help me and it doesn’t help the; children.

This is the thinking of a grieved war widow. How well it sums up the results of this Government’s policy of military compulsion. Similar thoughts are present in thousands of Australian homes. The great principle involved is that of conscription for war service without the consent of the people. Conscription for war service, even in war time, was rejected by the electors of Australia on the occasion when the people were given a referendum. The Government has no right to assume that the people have changed their minds. It has no moral right to conscript unless it first has the consent of the electors. In peacetime conscription without first consulting the people is a high-handed and completely unjustifiable action. It is significant that the Prime Minister has not accepted the challenge thrown down by the Leader of the Opposition to hold an election or a referendum on this vital issue. The Government is afraid of the results of an election or a referendum. Observers could not fail to notice the Prime Minister’s uneasiness in the past fortnight when asked questions in the House about the sending of conscripts to Vietnam. His attitude denotes uncertainty and fear. This uncertainty and fear are apparent throughout the Government’s ranks. Many Government supporters who have spoken loudly in this debate have left the impression that they are whistling to keep up their spirits.

The rights or wrongs of the war in Vietnam are not the subject of this debate. We are considering the Government’s action in conscripting the 20-year old men of this country to fight in a foreign land at a time when we are not officially engaged in war. This week a strong protest was made against the Government’s policy by an influential Melbourne weekly newspaper - the Catholic “ Advocate “. An article in that newspaper read -

The Government has no mandate whatever for the sending of conscripts into battle outside Australia, particularly since no war has been declared. Conscription is in itself an evil thing, justified only in an emergency, when other means for the defence of the country are inadequate. Military conscription without this necessity is a violation of a basic human freedom and leads to a militarisation of civil life and civil mentality, described by Pope Benedict XV as “for more than a century the true cause of countless evils”. A conscript state is, in effect, a Slave State; hence, it is something to be resisted unless in a last resort.

That article by such an influential newspaper as the Catholic “ Advocate “ reveals that bodies other than the Australian Labour Party are thinking along the same lines as we. I believe there is a powerful wave of opposition to the conscription of young Australians who, in the main, are at 20 years of age just reaching the threshold of their careers and laying the foundations for a full and useful life in our society. A leading Church of England dignitary has publicly opposed this Government’s conscription policy.

For a long time the Government has hidden behind the bogy of Communism, but it does precious little effectively to combat Communism. In fact, governments similar to this once ruled many of the countries that are now under the domination of the Soviet Union. Those free enterprise capitalistic governments were easy prey in the onrush of Communist takeovers. These are warnings that Australia may well note. I believe that Communism is an idea - a way of life - and the right way to stem Communism is to inject into society a better way of life than the Communist one. In Vietnam there is no stable government. There are no democratic procedures or freedoms.

There is just government by one junta after another. These governments are generally military juntas which, by intrigue, have organised an overnight military revolution. In many cases the attempted coups are successful. Corruption has a high priority in these ruling dictatorships. That is one good reason why there is no stable or democratic government in the area. This is one of the great handicaps that bedevil the United States action in Vietnam.

The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) referred to what President Johnson said to Prime Minister Ky at the recent Honolulu talks. But he did not and could not tell us that the Australian Government had urged the adoption of measures for a democratic and stable government in Vietnam as a prerequisite to action there. There should be democratic and free government by the people, rural and economic development and the provision of education and health services, as envisaged by President Johnson, but all these necessary measures have been missing under the corrupt military dictatorships which have ruled the country for years. Our Government is supporting the corrupt dictatorships that have assumed the government of Vietnam. There have been nine such regimes in the past five years. Is it any wonder that Communism has progressed under these circumstances?

I ask: Have our 20-year old conscripts been told the history of Vietnam? Do they know for what they are fighting? Do they know that if they killed every Vietcong soldier they still would not have solved the problem of Vietnam? Since they are conscripted to fight and, if necessary, die for a cause, they also should know that the cause is just and laudable. Today Australians are confused and divided on the Vietnam war. They do not understand the many contradictions inherent in the lack of leadership from our Government. They fear the new trend of dictatorship in our own free democracy. Conscription is abhorrent to the Australian outlook. There is a mounting wave of opposition to the body snatching of young men to fight in the cruel, dirty war of Vietnam.

The Prime Minister should have given a clear lead in his report to the nation on other matters of importance to Australia. He said nothing about the economy that will reassure us. We are going through a period of hesitancy, uncertainty and lack of confidence. It is well known that most industrial concerns have cut out overtime and are trying to hold their staffs with the business available. One business man said to me: “ Trade is very peaceful “. In other words, trade now is dormant and lacks the dynamic drive that is necessary for progress. Unemployment is again becoming more significant, with all its attendant hardships and frustrations. Costs of goods and services are steadily rising. There have been many claims of price increases brought about by the changeover to decimal currency. These all are matters that this Government has closed its eyes to.

It is becoming crystal clear that since the Liberal Party lost the leadership of Sir Robert Menzies it has been floundering in a sea of uncertainty. Our present Prime Minister has not shown the leadership that is necessary to keep the people united and determined to forge ahead. That is why tonight in the course of his address the Prime Minister had to resort to personal abuse of the leaders of the Labour Party. The absence in the Prime Minister’s report to the nation of any policy to overcome the poverty in our midst demonstrated another grave weakness in the Government’s planning. The only oblique reference to poverty in this debate was contained in the speech of the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair). He relied on the present social service provisions without going into the wider incidence of poverty. It is indeed tragic that the present Government will not face up to and accept responsibility in this great human probem. It washes its hands of the matter and asserts that it is better for private agencies to inquire into poverty. Whatever is done by private effort does not relieve the Government of the reponsibility of facing the issue. In our boasted affluent society, thousands of our citizens are suffering various degrees of poverty, whilst they look in vain for governmental action. Since the Government normally follows the United States line, we could reasonably expect it to interest itself in the war on poverty programme of the United States.

Mr Calwell:

– That is the only war worth fighting.


– Yes. There are many aspects of poverty in Australia including our social services recipients and there is an obligation on the Government to remedy the position. For these and many other reasons the Government should be censured and the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition provides an opportunity to do just that.

Minister for the Interior · Richmond · CP

– The issues in this debate, Mr. Deputy Speaker, are principally focussed on Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war and the need to send both Regular Army troops and national servicemen to that area. For this reason I intend to confine my remarks to the Vietnam aspects of the debate. Seldom have we seen an issue of this magnitude on which there have been so much confusion and foggy thinking. One of the reasons for this may be that this war has crept before the attention of the nation over a relatively long period and that people have tended to lose interest in it and have become complacent about its complexities. There has never been the traditional declaration of war to arouse our patriotism. It has been difficult to identify the enemy or, at least, to identify the enemy in large numbers until more recent times. We are fighting a new type of war, a technique of war evolved by the Communists to overcome the direct military barriers and deterrents that the western world has been forced to use to protect other countries. It is a technique of war which enables the Communists to thrust forward with their policy of world domination. All wars are horrible and this war in Vietnam, in addition to being horrible is a sneaky and poisonous war.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– I rise to order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for a member of this Parliament to challenge the Minister to enlist in the forces?


– There is no substance in the point of order. I suggest that the House come to order. I remind the honorable member for Hindmarsh, the honorable member for Hunter and other honorable members of the words of Mr. Speaker just before he vacated the Chair.


– It seems quite obvious that the greatest duty that I can perform for this country of mine is to put the facts honestly before the people of the country as a counter to the subversive elements which are trying to confuse the issues involved in Vietnam. As I said, this is a horrible war. It is a sneaky, poisonous war, with highly organised subversion and insurrection against the people of South Vietnam, with terror and sabotage carried on with the greatest stealth, lt began a number of years ago with a clandestine infiltration of innocent people by highly trained and disciplined Communist cadres trained in North Vietnam, whose duty it was by every means possible to bring about the overthrow of the existing form of government and replace it with a Communist one.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– Why does the Minister not join up?


-Order! 1 warn the honorable member for Hindmarsh.


– When this failed, regular troops from North Vietnam were sent to South Vietnam, where there are known to be at least nine regiments now operating. On the home front, we face new problems, too, with this type of war, partly because of the confused nature of the war and partly because there are people in Australia who are supporting Communist philosophy. Within our community, there is a well organised campaign to undermine Australia’s contribution to the war conducted by elements whose whole operation is one of deliberate subversion. There are others who have become fat and weak through living in our affluent society and who will not face the reality of the threat that Communism presents to this country and to the people of the countries of South East Asia. There are others with motives which I believe to be quite honest and highly principled, such as churchmen and some of our intellectuals, who have allowed their ideals and spiritual beliefs to woo their thinking away from the world of realism. AH of these people help to create an atmosphere of bewilderment. It is unfortunate that all of these categories of people seem to be present in varying degrees in the Opposition which seems to be doing everything possible to undermine Australia’s contribution in this war.

If we are to justify our military commitments to Vietnam I believe that the political issues of this war must be made clear to all Australians. To remain purblind to the political implications is to risk sacrificing our liberty. We have a fine heritage and we have noble traditions. Whenever this country has been asked to fight for the liberty of other people we have rallied to the call and in responding we have indirectly protected our own families. It is these principles that moved our forefathers to fight in two world wars and in Korea and Malaya and I believe that the Australian people will still, whenever called upon, live up to these traditions.

Members of Parliament are sometimes too close to the bone of this problem to appreciate that the average man in the street might not fully understand the implications of the many issues in this war. I therefore believe that there is an obligation on all of us to see that the public is better informed so that people can judge for themselves much of the subversive propaganda that is floating about. The Communists have deliberately cluttered up the vital issues in this war with a cobweb of cliches, inaccuracies, misrepresentations and half truths. Their cliches have perverted the very meaning of words in our English language - phrases like the “ people’s civil war of South Vietnam “. Can anybody truly interpret as a civil war one that is being directed by foreign powers in Hanoi and Peking? What greater prostitution of the meaning of democracy can there be than the Communists’ reference to what they call the “ People’s Democratic Republic of North Vietnam”, or their use of the prefix “ democratic “ for any other Communist State? Nothing is further from the truth. There is not one institution in any of these countries that falls within the meaning of “ democracy “. What free elections oan there possibly be when an Opposition is not allowed to exist; when the State cannot be criticised or censured in any shape or form? What a mockery of the use of the word “ democracy “ when the whole history of Communism is one of oppression, tyranny and gang like dictatorship! In the Communist lexicon- this play on words such as “National Liberation Front “ is only a camouflage for Communist aggression. What liberation does Communism offer? This ambiguity of words we know only too well, with our experience in Malaya, where the National Liberation

Front of Malaya was nothing more than a Communist organisation to overthrow the existing Government. The National Liberation Front in Vietnam is only a front for Communist aggression.

I feel that it is a tragedy that when many of these stark facts about Communism are known there can be people in our community who become more obsessed and concerned with exploiting our own shortcomings and minor weaknesses - for no nation is perfect - than with really facing up to the big issues that Communism presents. These people, as genuine as they may be in their intentions, if allowed to carry their emotions to extremes, are really risking and undermining the whole of our liberty and our steadfast willingness to meet the threat of Communism.

The Communist threat we are facing in Vietnam is not the first. Nations of the free world have had to meet the menace of Communism on many occasions. By their determination they have succeeded in proving that they will not idly stand by in the face of aggression. Immediately after the Second World War wc found the Communists, with the backing of the Red Army, taking over many countries in Europe. I refer to countries such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania and Bulgaria. In order to counter this challenge, the United States of America, along with the free European countries, had to establish the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and to give Marshall Aid to enable those countries to build up their strength to resist the encroachment of Communism.

We faced a challenge in Berlin. We stood up against Communism in Greece, where Russia was the power behind the alleged civil war. We went to the aid of South Korea when Communist North Korea attacked. We remember only too well what happened in Tibet, a small isolated nation overrun by Communist China. In India we saw Chinese aggression on the northern border. In each of these cases we have seen Communism manifesting itself in many different forms, but on each occasion we have recognised it and we have acted. So we recognise the menace of Communism in Asia and we must show the same determination to resist it there as we have in other areas.

The problem in Asia is more difficult than it is in Europe. After the Second World War we managed to contain the Communists long enough to allow European countries, with their sophisticated government and social institutions, to establish democracy. In Asia, however, there are few countries which know what self-government is, or which have the capacity to establish this type of government. For this reason our obligations, both military and economic, are even greater in this region. So we are in South Vietnam at the request of a Government and people who have sought the help of friendly nations in resisting a campaign of aggression and subversion aimed at destroying their independence and forcibly bringing them under Communist domination. We are there in fulfilment of our treaty obligations and responsibilities and to preserve and promote peace and stability in an area of direct and vital concern to Australia. Those are the reasons why, as the Prime Minister said tonight, three different American administrations - under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson - had given their full support to the struggle in South Vietnam.

During the last five years, in which the war in Vietnam has been slowly assuming greater significance, the Americans have repeatedly stated that they are prepared to talk and to negotiate for peace. Time and time again they have stated that they have no desire in this war other than to allow the people of South Vietnam to choose their own type of government. They want no military bases. They have no selfish economic objectives, nor do they want to overthrow the existing North Vietnamese Government.

The United States of America, and indeed many other countries, have taken the initiative to negotiate for peace talks, but on every occasion, without exception, the overtures have been rejected by Hanoi. Hanoi has insisted that its four conditions for settlement must be accepted as the sole basis for any peace talks. The first approaches for peace talks began with President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961. Since then many public moves have been made and many more private moves. I refer to the Geneva Conference on Laos; the United States reference of the Gulf of Tonkin matter to the United Nations Security Council in August 1964; the call of 17 non-aligned nations for negotiations without preconditions; attempts by U Thant to visit Hanoi and Peking; President Johnson’s call for unconditional discussions; the British Commonwealth Committee on Vietnam; and attempted or actual visits by Mr. Patrick Gordon Walker, Mr. Davies M.P. and a Ghanaian delegation.

It was suggested that the cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam might produce the necessary conditions for possible peace talks. The bombing ceased for 37 days and again there was no response. The Americans have done everything possible to seek an honorable peace. The contribution they are prepared to make to bring about peace is summarised in 14 points.

Mr James:

– Tell us what Senator Wayne Morse says.


– If the honorable member will listen he might become a little more enlightened. The points are as follows - 1. The Americans say that the Geneva Agreements of 1954 and 1961 are an adequate basis for peace in South East Asia. 2. They would welcome a conference on South East Asia or any part thereof. 3. They would welcome negotiations without preconditions, as the 17 nations put it. 4. They would welcome unconditional discussions, as President Johnson put it. 5. The Americans have said that a cessation of hostilities could be the first order of business at a conference, or could be the subject of preliminary discussions. 6. Hanoi’s four points could be discussed along with other points which others might wish to propose. 7. The Americans want no bases in South East Asia. 8. They do not desire to retain their troops in South Vietnam after peace is assured. 9. They support free elections in South Vietnam to give the South Vietnamese a government of their own choice. 10. The question of reunification of Vietnam should be determined by the Vietnamese through their own free decision. 11. The countries of South East Asia can be non-aligned or neutral if that is their option. 12. The Americans have said that they would much prefer to use their resources for the economic reconstruction of South East Asia than in war. If there was peace, North Vietnam could participate in a regional effort to which America would be prepared to contribute at least one billion dollars. 13. President Johnson has said: “ The Vietcong would not have difficulty in being represented and having their views represented if for a moment Hanoi decided she wanted to cease aggression. I do not think that would be an insurmountable problem”. 14. The Americans have said publicly and privately that they would stop the bombing of North Vietnam as a step towards peace, although there had not been up till that time the slightest hint or suggestion from the other side as to what it would do if the bombing stopped.

Those 14 points are on public record and they have been made known to the other side directly and indirectly, but both Hanoi and Peking have rejected the proposals for unconditional discussions. They have insisted that before any discussions can take place, our side must agree in advance to Hanoi’s four points. What are these four points? The first point calls for recognition of the fundamental rights of the Vietnamese people, sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity. It calls for the withdrawal of foreign forces and the dismantling of military bases. This point is accepted under the 14 American points I have mentioned.

The second point relates to the military clauses of the Geneva Agreements, and these have been agreed to. The fourth point provides that the issue of peaceful reunification should be settled by the Vietnamese people without foreign interference. This is clearly understood and accepted by the United States and by Australia.

It is the third point that is the crux of the Communist position. This point provides that the internal affairs of South Vietnam must be settled by the South Vietnamese people themselves in accordance with the programme of the National Liberation Front. The consequence of our acceptance of this point would be retreat and a handing over to the existing Communist organisation in South Vietnam; that is the National Liberation Front to which I have referred. The North Vietnamese are really saying that the internal affairs of South Vietnam must be settled in the way that the Communists want them to be settled - and that is that. What are we to say of the people who are continually uttering pleas for negotiation to end the war in Vietnam? What are we to say of the demonstrators who carry placards calling on the United States - never calling on the Communists, mark you - to negotiate a settlement? These demonstrators could one day lose their freedom to demonstrate if we followed the policies that they advocate. What are we to say to the academics, the clergymen, the members of the Opposition in this Parliament and others who publish advertisements in newspapers calling on, not the aggressors - the Communists - to negotiate, but demanding that we, Australia, the United States and New Zealand negotiate a settlement in Vietnam?

I think that what we should first do is to ask them: With whom do we negotiate? How do we negotiate with people who do not want to talk? How do we, who would rather talk than fight, negotiate with people who have made it abundantly clear that they would rather fight than talk? How do we negotiate with people who time after time reject outright our approaches aimed at peaceful negotiation? How do we, who have said that we would welcome negotiations without preconditions and would welcome unconditional discussions, negotiate with people who on their own initiative have done nothing to achieve peace talks and who, indeed, deny that they have ever put out any peace feelers?

This, then, is the political situation behind the war in Vietnam. The only alternatives are to retreat, to surrender to the Communists, or to be resolute and give our friends - the people of South Vietnam - and our allies the military support that is necessary to bring this war to an end.

Wide Bay

.- The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) gave us what he no doubt believes to be a stirring speech on why we should be involved in Vietnam. I should have preferred him at this stage to have told us why we should have to conscript young lads to go there in the force, which is to be trebled, that we have in Vietnam. Australians have always responded to the call when they have felt that this nation was endangered. I believe that the Government has not convinced the people of Australia that the nation is in danger. I take strong exception to the fact that 20 year old lads are to be sent to Vietnam.

A lot of people ask: Why should people in a certain age group be called on to make a contribution? I recall, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as no doubt you do, that when this national service scheme was first announced prior to the 1964 Senate election, there were all sorts of comments about it from various people. Some dear people said: “ It will do these lads good. Some of them will get a haircut. It will make men of them.” Little did these people realise that these lads were being consigned to a dirty war that was described tonight in very apt terms by the Minister for the Interior. I believe that public opinion is coming around to the belief that this is a dirty war. I wish to refer to an editorial which was published in today’s “ Courier-Mail “. This newspaper has never supported the Australian Labour Party. It has always been on the side of the Government. The editorial states -

The Commonwealth Government should loss no time in examining the system of calling up young men for compulsory Army service.

A strong feeling exists in Australia that one group of young Australians is bearing too much of the burden of service.

The Commonwealth Government will need to explain better to the people why compulsory service is confined to this small group.

If men were obliged to serve at a later age there would be no need for deferments of service because studies would then be concluded. It should be remembered that every deferment given to one 20-year-old means that another 20-year-old who otherwise would not be called up is required to replace the deferred man.

What system of call up has been adopted? The birth dates are drawn out of a barrel. We find that quite a number of the longhairs are not being called up. Hardship is involved in many cases where youths are called up. I should like to know how the word “ hardship “ is defined when an application is made for deferment. Of course, there are no exemptions. When an application is made for a deferment it is referred to the local stipendiary or police magistrate. No doubt he is a man who knows the local conditions, but I have seen magistrates in three different districts give different rulings] on similar cases. In rural electorates like my own there have been numerous applications made for deferment on account of hardship. An application might be made because a lad had to care for aged persons or because there was a considerable build up of work on the farm due to the drought. Some of these country lads work long hours, which one cannot expect an employee to work. When a case comes before a magistrate, one of the first questions that the applicant for deferment is asked is: “ Can’t you employ a replacement? Couldn’t your parents use your Army wages to employ somebody in your place? “ In most cases the parents would have to use their son’s Army wages if they wanted to employ additional help because they are getting no income from the farm. I suppose the view is that the Army will keep the boy and the parents can use his wages to employ someone in his place. I lodge my protest at this callous method of unjustifiably calling up voteless 20 year old youths. I would not oppose calling them up for service if there were an emergency, but the Government has not convinced the nation that an emergency exists. I object to this method of sending these youths overseas without any choice into the terrible war in Vietnam.

I shall now devote some of my time to another war which is a little closer at hand. I refer to the war that this nation must wage against drought. The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) in his statement referred to long term rural finance. He said that some $50 million will be released through the various banks for long term rural finance which, I understand, will be made available at the ruling preferential rates of interest of somewhere between 5 per cent and 7 per cent. Of course, this scheme is not designed for the sole purpose of assisting those who are facing difficulties because of the drought. I should like to see this money made available on interest free terms for a period up to five years.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, as you would know from living in a rural electorate, some farmers receive an income of only £100 a year. I heard last year of a farmer who had earned £3,000 gross but had only £100 net income for the year. He looks like facing a similar, if not worse, position this year. The people living on the land are not the only ones who are affected. I have a statement here by Massey-Ferguson (Holdings) Australia Ltd., which shows that that firm’s sales for the three months ended 31st January 1966 were 19 per cent, below the record first quarter of the previous year. Net income declined from $440,000 in the 1965 first quarter to $126,000 for the three months ended 31st January 1966.

Perhaps the greatest loser in the overall situation is the Commonwealth itself. It will collect less revenue from income tax, company tax, sales tax and customs and excise. I speak of districts that I know, but I know also that there are many similar areas of country in various parts of Australia. I speak of places in which incomes have been fairly constant over the years and have suddenly been reduced. This loss of income must have affected the Commonwealth, particularly because of a reduced volume of exports. The Prime Minister has said that primary industries are still predominant in the field of exports - I think his exact words were “rural exports still predominate and will do so for many a day to come “ - and we know that Queensland exports more primary products than other States.

We should also keep in mind the effect of losses of wages and consequent spending power, again resulting in a loss to the Commonwealth because of a reduction of revenue from indirect taxes. In the Lower Burnett area six sugar mills are operating. In 1964 the total turnover was £10.3 million, but the figure for the following year showed a reduction of 39 per cent. This area supports 1,530 farmers and their sons working on the various properties, as well as their families. It also supports 3,900 other workers in the various mills. The wages bill for 1965 for the six mills was £1.6 million less than it would have been if the peak had been achieved. This simply means that less revenue is available to the Government. The total amount of wages paid was a good deal less than in the previous year, and the total amount spent was correspondingly less. This resulted in a falling off in the number of motor cars and other items purchased. People postponed such purchases until a later time, and in the final result the total revenue available to the Government was reduced.

An interesting survey was carried out recently in the Isis district. A report was submitted to the Isis Central Sugar Mill by Mr. L. G. Vallance, and an article subsequently appeared in the “Australian

Sugar Journal “ for February 1966. The article read, in part -

The report states that over the past five seasons, 1961-65, the district has lost total crop revenue equivalent to £3 million due to inclement weather conditions, and it considers that such figures are of sufficient significance to warrant some urgent investigation into water storage and distribution possibilities. A probable water requirement of

H to 2 acre feet per annum is suggested.

Mr. Vallance suggests that this would improve the yield by at least 1 ton of sugar per acre, the present district average over the five year period 1960-64 being about 3.3 tons of sugar per harvested acre. Those acquainted with the Isis district know its rich red soils and how they require water, and also how profitable they can be in good seasons. But during two bad seasons many of the growers have not had any crop and in many cases have had lo replant at a cost of about £50 per acre. This continued loss has now amounted, as suggested in the report to which I have referred, to £3) million.

But the loss is a cumulative one. It has a snowballing effect which is felt not only by the people actually associated with the industry but also by those dependent upon them, such as implement manufacturers and salesmen and local storekeepers and their employees. So I suggest that it would be an economic proposition for the Commonwealth to implement schemes to bring some sort of stability to primary industries in proven areas. I am pleased to note that this view is held by no less an authority than the Snowy Mountains Commissioner, Sir William Hudson. He has said that the increase in State and Federal tax revenue is another factor that can be estimated fairly accurately, and of course this it true.

The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) has said that people should help themselves in these matters. The cane growers of Bundaberg and Isis contributed £10,000 to have an investigation carried out. They have had the officers of the Snowy Mountains Authority doing survey work on the Gregory River near Isis, on the Kolan River and on the Burnett River. But this work has not been paid for by any gift from the Commonwealth, and one of the officers concerned told me that they were carrying out their investigations on a very tight budget. As a result of the co-operation that was achieved and the establishment of a committee called the Bundaberg and District Irrigation Committee plans will shortly be drawn up for a project to cost about £7 million, with a further amount of £3.6 million to be spent for another dam on the Kolan River. The purpose is not only to store water from the Burnett River, but also to supplement the underground water with which much of the country around the Burnett is endowed. Even those who have this water are finding difficulty. One farmer told me that in the last five years he has had to drop his pump 50 feet. One can imagine the cost involved in lifting the water that extra distance. The amount of electric power required would be quite substantial.

Another point to keep in mind is that these growers are so placed that they try to produce a certain tonnage of cane in their particular mill areas. In a flush season they may produce an overabundance while in a poor season their tonnage is down. They want some sort of stability and they believe that stability can be achieved.

The Prime Minister paid a tribute to Commonwealth and State co-operation on the Australian Water Resources Council, which has now been operating for about four years. I point out, however, that the contribution by the Commonwealth to the costs of this Council is conditional upon a like contribution being made by the States. The States that have been affected by drought, and those with small populations, such as Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, have many commitments and are not in a position to spend as much money as they would like to spend. So I join with other honorable members on this side of the House who have suggested that the Commonwealth make greater use of the services of the Snowy Mountains Authority. I do not suggest that the authority should hire out its services. Those of us who have been to Cooma could not help but be impressed by the Hydraulics Laboratory there, m which tests are made of various kinds of dams and methods of controlling overflow and diversion. Over the years the officers of the Authority have become skilled in their work. No State has men of their ability. The Commonwealth can and should make their services available. Their services should not be paid for by the States or some local committee that raises funds. The Commonwealth shares in this loss. It probably can afford to lose more than any of the other authorities. I would say that it has suffered a greater loss in pounds, shillings and pence than the other authorities.

In the few minutes that remain at my disposal I wish to refer to the Prime Minister’s comment on the changeover to decimal currency. He stated that it had gone remarkably smoothly. That is so. But what about the people who took advantage of the changeover? Last September I suggested to the most honorable gentleman, who was then Treasurer, that some people would take advantage of the changeover to ensure better returns for themselves. The people who are suffering most are those whose wages are pegged or whose pensions are pegged. I believe that now - not next August or October - is the time for some adjustments to be made in the payments to these people whose incomes are fixed and who have been affected by increases in costs. I do not blame all the increases on the changeover to decimal currency, but there is no doubt that it has been responsible for a number of them.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir John McLeay:

– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

.- I can well understand why the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) should spend the first five minutes of his time in speaking about the really important issue in this debate and the subsequent IS minutes of his time in giving his own rather quaint interpretation of the drought. I realise that speaking on the real issue in this debate considerably embarrasses him. Not so many years ago, when he was a member of the shipwrights’ ‘union, he was a very strong anti-Communist. In fact, until Dr. Evatt first put pressure on various men in the Australian Labour Party, the honorable member for Wide Bay was one of those people who were known as very strong industrial groupers.

Mr Hansen:

Mr. Speaker, I regard that as an insult. The honorable member for Lilley has named me as an industrial grouper. I regard that as a direct insult to me as a member of the Labour Party.


– Order! The honorable member for Lilley will withdraw the remark that he made.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– Then I presume that the honorable member for Wide Bay denies-


– Order! The honorable member will withdraw his reflection on the honorable member for Wide Bay.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– If the honorable member for Wide Bay is offended, I withdraw it. I come now to the propositions put forward by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Sexton). I will come back to the honorable member for Wide Bay on some other occasion when the circumstances are more suitable. The honorable member for Adelaide waxed rather rhetorical on our commitment in Vietnam. Of course, he spoke a lot of sanctimonious nonsense, such as one would expect from a sweet-tempered proletarian.

What is the issue in regard to Vietnam? What are the feelings of members of the Opposition, not only with respect to the national servicemen who are going to Vietnam but also with respect to the regular soldiers who are there now? Running through their contributions to this debate is this thought or proposition: “We will support our regular soldiers there “. Let us see whether they would. Let us see how much real support they would give to our regular soldiers in Vietnam. I shall read from a much quoted report - the report of the proceedings of the last meeting of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party. [Quorum formed,] I thank the three or four members of the Opposition who are present for providing me with a larger audience. Let us look at one decision of the Federal Executive which has been supported by every member of the Opposition including the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and at the implications of that decision. This is one decision of the Federal Executive which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition - the leader leading from behind - supported without equivocation.

Item 12 states that the Federal Executive endorsed a request that a strong protest should be sent to the Government of South Korea for sending 15,000 men to fight in

South Vietnam. Let us consider the background against which that decision was made. I am delighted to know that one member of the Federal Executive is listening to me here tonight. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) have hinted on a number of occasions that they would leave our regular soldiers in South Vietnam. What would they do? They would leave them there with minimal support.

Mr Pollard:

– What rot.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– That is a fact. The honorable member should face a few facts occasionally. When another Asian nation decides to send first 15,000 men and now 41,000 men to back up our troops in South Vietnam, what do members of the Opposition do? They protest. But they say: “ We will leave in South Vietnam the 1,500 men that we have there now “. I am sure that every soldier who is or will be in South Vietnam would be delighted with the support that the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party and every member of the Opposition would give him. They would leave our troops there with minimal support and exposed to the greatest danger. They gloss over these things and I hope that they do not understand them.

I challenge the Federal Conferences of the Labour Party, which will meet tomorrow, to change that decision of the Federal Executive. But it will not have the wit, the will or the courage to do that. We should remember that a decision of that kind is infinitely more important than any decision on education. I have supported certain principles and State aid in respect of education for years, both when it was popular to do so and when it was unpopular to do so. But this decision to leave our troops in Vietnam and to sabotage our efforts by having the troops of other nations taken away from there is the most despicable thing that I can possibly imagine. Running through the debate - many matters have been running through this debate - is the proposition that Communist China may be concerned in North Vietnam. We know that the Vietnamese Communist Party is under strong Chinese influence. We know that Le Duan is strongly committed to Communist China. We know that he has gained significant power, in effect replacing

Ho Chi Minh. We know that China le exerting greater influence in North Vietnam. We have been challenged time and time again to demonstrate where this has any real significance to Australia. It is argued that we are a long way from Vietnam. The talented members of the Opposition should know that on at least three occasions Communist China has stated that Australia lies within her sphere of influence. Lin Piao has stated this, and Kuo Mo Jo has stated it twice. In August 1961, in Djakarta, Kuo Mo Jo was asked questions about Australia and he said quite clearly that they saw the future of Australia as lying within the Chinese sphere of influence over the neutralist Afro-Asian nations. This means, of course, that we lie within the sphere of neutral nations like South Vietnam, Ghana as it was, and Indonesia which China may yet influence. Subandrio has stated that the revolution in Indonesia has only been postponed for seven years. In 1 96 1 it was stated clearly that Communist China had intentions regarding Australia.

Last year Lin Piao very clearly stated Communist China’s plans for the world. We come into this scheme, not in a secondary way but in a primary way. He said -

Taking the entire globe, if North America and Western Europe can be called the cities of the world then Asia, Africa and Latin America constitute the rural areas.

Anyone who is familiar with recent Chinese history, at least since 1945 - the member of the Labour Party’s Federal Executive who is sitting opposite me should know this, and if he does not know it he should study it - realises that the rural areas are taken first. We are not relegated to the background to be influenced ultimately as are Europe and North America; we lie within the primary area of interest. People who look at the events in North Vietnam and ignore these facts are running away from the facts of life. The trouble is that in Australia the alternative government is running away from the facts of life.

Mr Webb:

– We are not supplying China with wheat, wool and metals.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– I will not try to explain the situation to the honorable member. Communist China has expressed precise aims for Australia, and the New

China News Agency did so again last weekend. We cannot ignore the position. It is before the eyes of honorable members opposite if they only dare to look at the facts. Some people say that it would be impossible for the Chinese to get to Australia.

Mr Hansen:

– Tell us why the Government is sending kids to Vietnam.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– I would not say too much if I were the honorable member for Wide Bay. We can learn a lesson from the Japanese war. We can read it in the recently published biography of Admiral Yamamoto. The reason why the Japanese did not come directly to Australia after Pearl Harbour was that the Japanese army staff vetoed the decision of the Japanese naval staff to do so. The Japanese had two alternatives. They could come directly to Australia or they could go around the southern part of Asia towards Ceylon and India. The navy wanted to come here, but the army vetoed that decision. Why? It vetoed it because Japan did not have 10 divisions to spare. The lack of 10 divisions stopped the Japanese from coming here quickly but would China ever be stopped because she did not have 10 divisions to spare? Would she ever be in the position where she did not have 50 or 100 divisions to spare? Any nation that can make an atomic bomb can supply the necessary naval and air power too. Honorable members opposite should try to learn a few of the facts of history. We are situated in this geographical area and we have to be aware of our position.

What do people in North Vietnam - people like General Giap, Lin Piao and Ho Chi Minh - think about this country? They know that this war is now being fought in the domain of public opinion in the democracies. I do not apologise for the French, but I am trying to learn a lesson from what happened with the French. The French war collapsed because of lack of political support. The United Front Marxist and socialist Parties in France quite clearly sabotaged the French war. Crossman stated the position about the Australian Labour Party. General Giap knew that Mendes France had put a time limit on the war. He knew that the collapse of political support in France secured his victory in Dien Bien Phu. What do members opposite have to say about this? General Giap himself said -

The enemy will pass slowly from the offensive to the defensive. The blitzkrieg will transform itself into a war of long duration. Thus, the enemy will be caught in a dilemma; he has to drag out the war in order to win it and does not possess, on the other hand, the psychological and political means to fight a long drawn out war.

I ask honorable members to note that. If the Chinese Communists look at the policies since 1955 of the alternative government in this country they will come to the conclusion that psychological and political support for national security has died in Australia. Every decision on external security that has been made by the Labour Party’s Federal Conference since 1955 has sabotaged our efforts at national security. The Opposition has some more decisions to make in a day or two, but let me recount some of the decisions it has made. This reads like a litany of approval for those who oppose us. What are the decisions since 1955 that have been supported by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition? There has been opposition to our troops serving in Malaya. There has been support for diplomatic recognition of Communist China, no matter what happens to Taiwan. There has always been a delightful little phrase used in connection with the security of Taiwan - “ No doubt suitable arrangements will be made in respect of the people of Taiwan “. This is how the Labour Party would secure the future of about 12 million people. There has been Labour Party opposition to the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. There has been opposition to the base at North West Cape, or support for it only on conditions that the Americans would never accept. At its conference in the next few days the Opposition can reverse these decisions and get back to the kind of Labour Party that the honorable member for Wide Bay was most vigorous in supporting, as a member of the Federated Shipwrights and Ship Constructors of Australia, until 1955.

Our commitment in Vietnam over the years has been part of our commitment to the American alliance that we have in the area. It must be viewed in this light. If we were to get out of Vietnam, could we blame an American mother or father for saying: “ Bring my boy back home “? I can imagine the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant; u< u.* Honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Sexton) making their stand on the banks of the Yarra, the Torrens or perhaps the Brisbane River. They would be terribly successful. I hope you are all willing to face up to these decisions. General Giap would only be encouraged by the psychological and political defeat which has been propounded by the Opposition for the last 10 years. Both Leaders of the Opposition and Deputy Leaders of the Opposition have sounded the trumpet of defeat. Whether they have been leading their men from the front or from behind, they can only give support to our opponents - those people who would seek to undermine this country, to isolate us, whether by a Locarno type of pact, physically or in any other way. These honorable members can do nothing else. Yet many members of the Opposition have not sufficient courage to uphold the principles which their Party tried to put into operation between 1943 and 1955. A strange set of schizophrenic attitudes has arisen in the Australian Labour Party since the period 1943 to 1955. How different has been the position between 1955 and 1965. Of course, Labour members must be guided by their conscience.

Mr James:

– The honorable member talks about conscience.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– I have been trying to discover the honorable member’s conscience for the last few years.


.- I thought the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) suggested that the Australian Labour Party and the Opposition in this Parliament would be prepared to remove Australian troops from Vietnam. I want to say to the honorable member that the Opposition in this Parliament, and indeed the Australian Labour Party generally, have made it perfectly clear that we opposed in 1965 the sending of Australian troops to Vietnam. On that occasion we made our position quite clear. We have not deviated from that policy in any way. We believe that in stating that policy and in advancing that point of view we have the support of the great majority of the people of Australia. We said in 1965 that we did not believe it was a wise decision on the part of the Government to send Australian troops to Vietnam. Circumstances have shown the point of view expressed by the Australian Labour Party to be the correct one.

The honorable member for Lilley, like most speakers on the Government side, spent some time criticising the attitude of the people of this country, and particularly the attitude of the Australian Labour Party, towards Red China. The Australian Labour Party again has made its attitude clear in relation to mainland China. We believe that the Australian Government should recognise mainland China. In this respect we do not stand alone. Our opinion is shared by the Governments, both Socialist and Conservative, which have been in office in Great Britain in recent years, by France and by a great many other countries. If we are to solve many of the problems which afflict Asia and if we are to get mainland China to a position in which we can negotiate with her, surely the correct and proper place to do so is at the United Nations. This Government has consistently opposed the recognition of Red China. Only a few nights ago, while listening to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), it seemed to me that even he, who is a senior Minister in the Government, was coming round to the point of view that sooner or later the countries of the western world have to recognise mainland China.

Did the honorable member for Lilley mention our trade with mainland China? Like most honorable members on the Government side of the House he completely ignored this aspect of the Government’s attitude towards mainland China. He did not mention for the benefit of honorable members and for the benefit of people outside who may be listening to the broadcast of proceedings this evening that for some years now this Government has been trading with mainland China. The honorable member knows only too well that in recent years our trade with mainland China has amounted to 31,000 million. In the last two years alone this trade has amounted to $500 million. We are supplying mainland China with wheat to feed her armies. We are supplying mainland China with wool to clothe her armies. Far worse than that, we are supplying mainland China with steel to provide weapons for her armies.

This Government has consistently opposed the entry of mainland China into the United Nations, yet for its own selfish political reasons it has been quite prepared to trade with mainland China. These matters have been pointed out to honorable members on the Government side for a long time but not one of them has been prepared to rise in his place and defend the Government’s attitude. They claim that it is completely wrong for mainland China to demand a voice in the affairs of Asia yet they believe there is nothing wrong in trading with mainland China. The facts which I have cited should be made known to the people of Australia who, I am sure, will soon demand an answer to the question why the Government is prepared, on the one hand, to oppose consistently the entry of mainland China into the United Nations while, on the other hand, consistently trading with that country for its own selfish political reasons.

I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). It is divided into two parts. In the first part, the Leader of the Opposition points out, on behalf of honorable members on this side of the House, that the Opposition and the Australian Labour Party are most emphatically opposed to the despatch of conscripted youths for service in Vietnam, and to the increased military commitment in that country. In the second part, the Leader of the Opposition expresses the Opposition’s disapproval and grave concern at the Government’s failure to maintain the purchasing power of the Australian community. I refer, of course, particularly to people who are living on fixed incomes - pensioners and others - who are fully aware of the decline in the purchasing power of their income in recent years since this Government has been in office.

The Leader of the Opposition also criticises the Government for its failure to retain an adequate and proper Australian share in the ownership and development of our natural resources, particularly in northern Australia. Further, he criticises the Government for its failure to alleviate the effects of the drought and to take steps to rehabilitate rural industries and conserve water resources. He also criticises the Government for its failure to make adequate provision for housing and associated community facilities, directing attention to the serious housing shortage in Australia. Finally, he criticises the Government for its failure to submit to referendum the two bills to alter the Constitution in respect of Aborigines and the Parliament which were passed last year and, in connection with the latter Bill, to disclose the related distribution proposals. So the Opposition believes that the Government deserves to be censured on these proposals.

I do not want to deal with the latter part of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. I am concerned tonight with the first part of the amendment which deals, as I have already indicated, with the question of the participation of this Government, and Australia, in Vietnam, and, more importantly, the decision of the Government to increase Australia’s force in Vietnam and to conscript Australian youths for service in that country. 1 have already indicated that, in the opinion of honorable members on this side of the House, this was not the right decision. We do not believe it was the correct decision and we certainly oppose the conscription of 20 year old youths who are denied by this Government a right to vote and to make any decision on the type of government that they would like to have in this country. These are the youths who are denied a right to vote but they are to be conscripted by this Government for service in Vietnam.

In April 1965 the Government committed this country to the conflict in Vietnam. It agreed on that occasion that the First Battalion of the Australian Regular Army would be sent for service in Vietnam. That unit comprised 800 troops. If I remember correctly, on that occasion the Leader of the Opposition prophesied that within 12 months this Government would increase the number of Australian forces serving in Vietnam and that in addition it would be necessary for it to conscript national service trainees for service with the Regular Army in that country. That is the situation at this stage. Now the Government has decided that the force serving in Vietnam will be increased from 800 Regular troops, the First Battalion, to 4,500 troops. The only way that it can secure sufficient servicemen to serve in Vietnam is by conscripting 20 year old youths in this country. I believe that this decision is wrong.

Honorable members on the Government side have argued that the Australian Labour

Party introduced conscription during the last war. I believe that honorable members on that side of the House know only too well the situation that existed during those years. Between 1939 and 1945 the Labour Government was able to provide four Australian divisions. In point of fact between 1939 and 1942 four Australian divisions were either serving overseas or had been enlisted for service in this country. But the members of those four Australian divisions were volunteers. Every member of them was a volunteer. They all volunteered for service in Australia or outside Australia. Yet today this Government must depend upon 20 year old youths and these youths must be conscripted into the service. This is completely wrong. Why is the Government not able to attract volunteers for service in Vietnam? ls it because the people of this country believe that this conflict is one in which Australia should have no part? I am sure that this is the decision of the Australian people. Why is it necessary for the Government to conscript the youths of this country? Surely if this decision of the Government were the correct one, surely if this conflict were one in which the Australian people should be involved, legally and morally, one would expect that it would be possible for the Government to attract all the volunteers that were required for service in Vietnam. But what is the situation today? The Government must depend upon the conscripts and each year 20 year old youths - 80,000 of them - are obliged to register for national service. From that 80,000 the Government will select approximately 8,500 each year for service in Australia or outside Australia.

We say that situation is wrong. These circumstances should not apply in peace time. We have been told consistently by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and responsible Government members that this country is not at war. If we are not at war surely it should not be necessary to send conscripted youths overseas. If the Government can convince the people that we have a legal and moral right to be in Vietnam, surely it is possible for the Government to secure all the men it requires to serve in that country. But the Government has not been able to secure sufficient numbers and now it must depend upon the 20 year old conscripts that it is able to secure each year.

I already indicated to the House that between 1939 and 1945, because this country was involved in a global conflict, it was possible for the government of the day to raise no fewer than four divisions. These were the Sixth Division, the Seventh Division, the Eighth Division and the Ninth Division and they all served inside Australia and outside Australia between 1939 and 1942. Those forces were raised in 1942 when Australia’s population was slightly more than 8 million. Because of the difficulties that Australia faced at that time, with the encroachment of the Imperial Japanese Army so close to Australia - it was in New Guinea - it became necessary to seek additional troops. The Labour Government, because this country was involved in a global conflict, did not hesitate to conscript youths for service, but only in Australia and the Australian Territories. No national serviceman in World War II served outside Australia or an Australian Territory. This was the situation that existed during the last war and Government supporters know that that was the position.

We believe that if this Government was prepared to let the people make a decision on this question it would find that they are completely opposed to the despatch of national service trainees to Vietnam. We challenge the Government to go to the people on this issue. I say that the people would give an emphatic answer on this question. They do not believe that the youth of this country should be obliged to fight in Vietnam or in any other country during peace time. If the Government is sincere on this matter, if it wants to be consistent on this issue, and if - as was suggested by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) earlier this evening - a state of emergency does exist in Australia, why does the Government not declare a state of emergency? It is not prepared to do so.

The Government says consistently that Australia is not at war. Well, what is the situation that exists in Vietnam? After all, the people of Vietnam have been involved in a civil or guerrilla war since 1945. Almost 20 years of conflict has been the lot of those unhappy people. As a result of the Geneva Conference in 1954 the country was divided at the seventeenth parallel and there was a promise of elections in 1956- two years later. Those elections have never been held. The fact remains that this is a civil war. Government members would have us believe that the situation in Vietnam has been brought about by an invasion of the south by troops from the north. This is not the situation. The Opposition does not deny that there has been some infiltration of South Vietnam by troops from North Vietnam and that probably some arms and supplies have been sent to the Vietcong from’. North Vietnam. But the fact remains that the people who live in South Vietnam today may be divided into three groups. There are those who are opposed to Communism and therefore support the Government of South Vietnam. There are those who are Communist and, therefore, they belong to the Vietcong and actively engage in guerrilla warfare in South Vietnam. But the third group, the great majority of the people who live in South Vietnam, has no interest in these matters at all. All those people want is to be left in peace in their own country. Yet we are told by the Government that there has been an invasion of South Vietnam from North Vietnam. That is not the situation at all. The fact remains that the people of Vietnam are today engaged in a civil conflict and this is a situation that has applied for the last 20 years.

In 1954, when the French were defeated in Vietnam, they had more than 200,000 troops in that country. They suffered approximately 100,000 casualties and they were not able to defeat the soldiers of Vietnam. Yet this Government will have us believe that this conflict in South Vietnam - this civil war - can be solved by military means. The Government must realise that this war cannot be won by military means. This opinion is held not only among the people of Vietnam. Among the peoples of the world there is a growing recognition that the problem of South Vietnam cannot be solved by military means. Military means, in my opinion, will prevent a solution of the problem in that country and there will be no victory now.

The war will end in Vietnam when this realisation penetrates those people who are at present intoxicated with hopes of an early military victory. Possibly the only condition in which there can be a military solution is if there should be an escalation of the war, and this is the real danger. A major war might provide a major solution in Vietnam, but it also might settle a lot of other problems - not least, of course, being the survival of the human race. So the Opposition has made its attitude quite clear on this question. It has continued its opposition to the participation of Australian troops in Vietnam since 1965.


– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.


.- I rise to support the motion and to oppose the amendment. 1 shall deal first with the national servicemen and their integration with the Regular Army, members of which volunteered as an honorable act. But this has never been fair, reasonable or just to those men who volunteered. Such men represented the cream of our land in two world wars. That was not fair because the volunteers were allowed to carry the brunt of service and to make sacrifices nol’ only of limb and body but also in loss of farms, businesses and experience in their trades and professions and thereby loss of seniority in the organisations in which they were employed. 1 know that many organisations endeavoured to correct that position and gave those men every assistance to make up for their years of service overseas. But no matter how fair and honourable an institution was, it was inevitable that the people who remained at home had an advantage that was difficult to adjust in fairness to the returned servicemen.

From observation 1 know that the families who made the sacrifices in the First World War were those who responded in &,e Second World War. Now compare those who failed their country in the First World War. They consolidated their positions in the professions, in business, in employment. Many who remained home selfishly and knowingly capitalised on the absence of their fellow Australians overseas. There was a sector of Australian manhood which did not volunteer. The attitude of these men, to a point, was valid. It was that they were not prepared to serve unless everyone was placed on the same footing, which meant conscription. It will be seen from what I have said that the only just, fair and reasonable thing is to include national servicemen with the Regular Army as this Government is doing. The method of call up is fair because of the limited number required to serve overseas, *<-nd there does not appear to be any fairer or better way than that which the Government has adopted.

It is easy for the Opposition to make cheap, soap-box jibes at the Government, but what is inexplicable to me is that members of the Opposition who, although we know that they are not Communists or fellow travellers, rush to defend the Communists when members on this side of the House attack them. I wonder why. Is it due to the left wing element? Are they intimidated? Is it that for self preservation they have to go along quietly in fear and trepidation of the judgment of, and eventual annihilation by, the 12 witless men and the 36 faceless men by whom their Deputy Leader is threatened now?

I state without reservation that the Government, through the Cabinet, with the advice of the Chiefs of Staff and the intelligence branch, is the only authority that can logically assess the position. Neither the Government nor the Parliament has the right - and the Government has never claimed the right - to conscript the youth of this country except in the extreme circumstances of self defence. In point of fact many of us are of the opinion that the Government gave the volunteer system too much time to prove itself. We believe that it delayed the call up of national service trainees far too long. When the Communists are challenged, within or without Australia, the Opposition says, in effect: “To hell with our powerful American friends. To hell with our treaties.” The honorable member for Yarra, Viet Cairns, has stated that Castro was right in murdering thousands of Cubans, but that it is wrong for the South Vietnamese, the Americans and the Australians, in defence of their women and children, their homes and their right to self determination, to defy and kill the Vietcong. What sort of cockeyed reasoning is this? The honorable member for Yarra would be the Minister for External Affairs if by some tragic circumstance the Opposition should ever succeed to the Treasury bench. Instead of castigating the Americans, the Opposition and all Australians should fervently and reverently thank God for America.

America has no economic stake in Vietnam. Actuated by the highest ideals it is in that country to protect the free world from the onward march of Chinese Communism. Vietnam is strategically placed in South East Asia and three American Presidents - Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson - have recognised that it is vital for the free world to prevent South Vietnam from coming under the domination of Peking and Hanoi. All Australians should ask themselves these questions: What would have been our position had not America acted as she did in going to the aid of South Vietnam? What would have been the position in Indonesia, in Malaya, in Thailand, in Cambodia, in Laos and in Australia? The answer is too terrifying to behold. There would have been an Australian liberation front long established by now with Viet Cairns as director, assisted by the left wing members of the Opposition and with the leaders of the Communist Party in full support. The time for sickly, sentimental sob stuff is over. We do not need such trite, ineffectual slogans as “ Save our sons “, “ Curry favour with international capitalism “ and “ When the Australian Labour Party ceases to be a nonconscription party, it ceases to be the Labour Party “. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is living in the dim, distant past. He cannot or will not keep abreast of the times. What about our wives and daughters? Do they not require our protection? According to the Leader of the Opposition, the Australian Labour Party ceased to be the Labour Party when it conscripted 18 years old youths in 1943.

We have entered the struggle. We dare not stumble. We dare not employ half measures. We must intensify our efforts. We must use all conventional weapons at our disposal. We trust that America will attack Haiphong. We should not allow the struggle to be drawn out one day longer than is necessary. Our choice is to act now and to prosecute this struggle with determination and the will to win. With the aid of our great and friendly ally, America, we will save the lives of thousands of Australians in the years to come and receive the praise, approbation, respect and esteem of all nations.

Mr Calwell:

– Who wrote that?


– 1 did. Now, Mr. Speaker, I desire to speak on the economic position. I believe that Australia economically is labouring under too many controls, that the Reserve Bank has too much power and that it was never envisaged, desired or intended that it should have huge idols of bricks and mortar and a staff of 3,100 employees. All dictators love power; most abuse it. The Reserve Bank has 2.000 staff employees, 500 wages staff and 600 wages staff employed in the Note Issue Department. The Reserve Bank makes a profit of $48 million a year. Of this, $34 million from the note issue goes to the Government. Of the remaining $14 million, $7 million goes to the Government and $7 million goes to reserves. I should like to know, where the money comes from to erect these colossal edifices. It is not apparent from the balance sheet. Does it come from the re-investment of the statutory reserve deposits of the trading banks? The Reserve Bank has hamstrung our economy. It acts too late and with too little. At present, our economy requires a sting and a boost. The old established ethical lending of the trading banks should be restored. Money in the statutory reserve deposit fund should be made available to the trading banks to assist in the great development of Australia’s untapped resources.

Bank borrowing is the cheapest and most flexible of all methods of borrowing. Because of many years of experience, the managements of the banks are the best judges of the direction and employment of these funds. If the trading banks had the use of the funds that are now held in the statutory reserve deposit fund the flow of overseas investments could, and should, bs amalgamated with an Australian content. It is idle and foolish to suppose that we can develop our resources with the capital that is available in Australia. By adopting the method I have suggested, we would have a stake in many of the companies that are now exploiting our pastoral land and mineral resources. How can Australians invest in these developing companies when money deposited with the Reserve Bank is frozen? We would do well to remember the parable of the pieces of silver.

Mr Calwell:

– How many were there?


– The honorable member would not know. Of every 100 dollars that are held by the trading banks 13 are in the special reserve deposit, 18 are in liquid government securities, 53 are in advances, and 16 are required for contingencies. The trading banks have $635 million in the statutory reserve deposits that are held by the Reserve Bank. I would like the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) to consider the proposals I am making. It costs the trading banks 2 per cent., in round figures, tor the deposits they hold. The Reserve Bank pays them three-quarters of 1 per cent, for the funds that are held in the statutory reserve deposit fund. There should be more bank lending. It would give a boost to our economy from now until 30th June. Bank lending is more flexible than any other form of leading and it is easy for the Government to control should it so desire. The private trading banks have done a great job for Australia. They went through two world- wars and a terrible depression without a Reserve Bank. Although the depression meant difficulty for Australia, its impact on this country was perhaps less than that on any other country. That was because of the great services that were rendered by the free, private enterprise banks. The masterly mind of Sir Alfred Davidson saved the wheatgrowers from annihilation.

Mr Calwell:

– Rubbish.


– Overnight he sent the rate of exchange on Australian currency to £130 to £100 sterling. The honorable member would not understand what that means. We were thus able to win contracts overseas for wheat and flour which otherwise we would have lost. Sir Alfred Davidson also established the currencies of Australia, Fiji ind New Zealand as indigenous currencies. Previously those countries were on sterling currency. In 1934 the trading banks rehabilitated the building industry and were responsible for the establishment of the building societies as we know them, as distinct from the old established permanent building societies. The trading banks made some millions of pounds available to the building societies. That marked emergence from the depression to gradual prosperity.

Mr Calwell:

– Who has been pulling the honorable member’s leg?


– 1 know all about it. Any time the Leader of the Opposition wants a little bit of advice, it would be better for him to come and see me.


.- On the first day on which this Parliament met this year the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) delivered a statement on Government policy. We are debating that statement tonight. A few days previously it had been referred to by several newspapers, on the say so of the Prime Minister of course, as being a stimulating report to the nation. Unfortunately it failed to measure up to those expectations, as the Press was very quick to point out the following day. Instead of having a stimulating effect, it has brought about a greater feeling of uncertainty.

It is with great pleasure that I rise tonight to support the amendment which was moved and spoken to so forcibly by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). It is an amendment which should be carried and one which certainly would be carried if it were determined by a vote of the electors of Australia. During the early part of his statement, the Prime Minister continually referred to the Government as being a new government. It seemed that he was trying to create an impression that it was a newly elected Government with at least several new members and several new Ministers. I cannot blame him for wanting to create that impression, but the fact is that it is not a new government. It is practically the same old gang with the same old crowd who are known so well for their stop and go policies. There are only two new faces in the Ministry and that is only because they became necessary because of the retirement of the former Prime Minister and the untimely death of another Minister. Of course, those places had to be filled. But the Ministry is certainly no improvement on what we had previously. Honorable members will recall that the Leader of the Opposition had to lend his assistance by naming, through the newspapers, a certain Senator as being a reasonably good choice from what other newspapers had referred to as an offering of very poor material.

As to the back bench members, the Government has one less than last year because of the mauling it received at the by-election in Dawson when the people in that electorate decided in no uncertain fashion that they wanted Labour policy and also wanted Labour representation for that part of Australia. There is no doubt in my mind that the majority of people in very many more electorates will have the same ideas and will express them when they get the opportunity to do so at the next general election. Then we will have a new government in the true sense of the word. We will have a Labour government. While speaking of the electorate of Dawson I should like to place on record my congratulations to the new member. We have already heard some very fine speeches from him. We look forward to very many more valuable contributions, particularly on northern development and water conservation. I look forward with pleasure to joining with him to make northern development, water conservation and irrigation realities instead of matters which receive only lip service as is the case from the present Government. I wish the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) well and I feel sure that he will continue to represent that electorate in this place for many years to come.

I now wish to refer to the Government’s decision to send national service trainees to Vietnam. This, in my opinion, is a shocking and shameful thing to do because they are simply very young men - twenty year old boys - who have been selected from a large number of other lads of almost the same age to carry out military training. They are selected, or will be selected, by a method which is often condemned, even when the loss only of money is involved. I refer to the barrel and marble lottery system. In the case of the trainees, the loss of life could be involved, so how much more must such a system be condemned? The Government must stand condemned for allowing such a system to operate. Many of those selected could be lads who, according to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, are not old enough or responsible enough to warrant an adult rate of pay at their place of employment. It is well known that many awards of the Commission contain a junior workers’ clause wherein it is laid down that certain workers should receive only a certain percentage of the basic wage at various ages. It is not until these workers reach the age of 21 that the

Commission provides that they should receive the full basic wage payment.

Many of these lads at the time they are called up will be receiving from their employers only approximately 85 per cent, of the basic wage. This Government of course supports that proposition. The Government is in favour of the situation that workers should not receive the full rate of pay until such time as they reach the age of 21. Government members apparently agree with the Commission that until such time as a worker reaches the age of 21 he is not old enough nor responsible enough nor even competent to receive a full rate of pay. Yet, despite this fact, the Government claims that it is justified in sending these lads of 20 years of age - this action may or may not be against their own wishes - to a possible, in fact quite likely, death. Government members rest their claim on previous statements by the Government that the obligation to discharge national service with the Army includes an obligation to serve overseas. There is no justification at all for this claim. The boys concerned are not being given the chance to volunteer. They are either in or out on the roll of a barrel or the drop of a marble. Under those circumstances and methods, the Government has never been justified in making overseas service obligatory upon national service trainees.

Mr Freeth:

– They can volunteer. The honorable member knows that. He is not speaking the truth.


– How many members of this House who are returned soldiers and who volunteered and served their country in a time of war would like to be referred to as conscripts or as being forced to serve their country? Not one of them, I guarantee. So, why not give the young men of today the same privilege and honour?

Mr Freeth:

– They have it.


– Why not give them the same privilege? The whole system adopted by this Government in relation to the matter of national service training is a disgrace and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), who is interjecting from the table, knows that it is a disgrace. When a lottery system is extended to include lads for overseas service in war zones where they are likely to lose their lives, the system is more than disgraceful. I am unable to find words strong enough to describe this action - at any rate, words that I can use in this House.

It is as well to remember that this decision by the Government is not one which may simply affect the pockets of these young men or their dinner plates. It is certainly not a decision where the wrong done can be remedied later by an amendment to an Act. The dreadful results which will undoubtedly flow from the decision will be for keeps and nothing the Government might do later will bring back a lad who has lost his life as so many of these lads will. This decision by the Government to conscript boys to fight in Vietnam must be stopped now.

I suggest to Government members that they should give very serious consideration to the implication of this decision and support the motion put forward by the Leader of the Opposition. It is wicked enough when a soldier who has volunteered for service loses his life in a senseless war. Of course, this situaiton in Vietnam is senseless. War - and this applies to the situation in Vietnam - is always senseless and always unclean. It is without scruple. It can never be anything else because the very first aim or object between opposing forces is to destroy anything and everything which may be of value or which may be of some assistance to the opposing side. The object is to destroy it all whether it be food, pasture, stock, houses, roads or other forms of communication. But most important of all is the destruction of the human beings who are offering assistance to the opposing side or obstruction to your own side. The soldiers, the sailors and the airmen are always the priority target.

The destruction and the killing of the servicemen of the enemy in large numbers have a really weakening effect on the opposing forces generally. As many as possible of them must be destroyed. That, of course, is what is happening in Vietnam today. The object is for the forces to kill as many as they can. That is always the main object in war because not only is the resistance or the striking power of the enemy weakened but also the morale at the front and also at home is weakened too. This is what happens in any war. I repeat that this is what is happening today in Vietnam. So, how can it be otherwise than senseless and unclean and, surely in these circumstances then, unnecessary? The indisputable fact is that a soldier or a serviceman must always expect to be a target for destruction. This being the case, surely it is only right, proper and fair then that the person concerned should have the sole right to determine whether or not he will become such a target. Did not the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, say that this was so when he was defending his own decision not to serve in the First World War? Surely it cannot be otherwise when there is a situation of critical and extreme emergency - a situation of total war - and the source of volunteers has been completely exhausted. Then, and then only, can there be any justification for a government’s conscripting the youth of the country. When that stage had been reached, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the situation would be such as to require not only conscription of manpower for military purposes. There would have to be conscription also of labour and money and complete control to prevent profiteering. This Liberal PartyAustralian Country Party Government is offering the youth of Australia for destruction at a time when there is certainly no emergency and when, in fact, the Prime Minister has told us that we are not at war.

Let us now look at this question of volunteers, Sir. During 1963 and 1964 more than 52,000 men volunteered to serve in one or other of the Services. Of these, 22,000 volunteered for the Army. Of the total of 52,000, only about 14,000 were accepted. Of the 22,000 who offered for the Army, only slightly more than 5,700 were accepted. So how can it be suggested that volunteers are not available if they are really wanted and are satisfied that they are needed? At this stage, of course, the young people of Australia are not satisfied that they are being rightfully called on. There is an average of 26,000 volunteers each year, and this at a time when the Prime Minister tells us that we are not at war and when there is no suggestion of an emergency. Yet the Government now claims that it is necessary to conscript young men of 20 years of age, not simply for military service in Australia but also to serve in

Vietnam. Mr. Deputy Speaker, we need never have any fear that the young men and women of this country will be lacking in enthusiasm if they are really required to serve the country and are called on to do so. Indeed, we are more likely to find that the position would be the reverse and that we would be embarrassed by their insistence on serving. This would apply equally to many who are not so young and not so agile.

It seems that the Government has panicked, as the previous Government panicked in August of 1964, when the present Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes), who was then Minister for the Army, said that national service training would be against the advice of the military advisers and that as the Army was only about 4,000 short of its target the situation did not call for herculean efforts to formulate expedients and need not give rise to undue panic. We must agree that the present situation is not one in which there should be any panic. The total of the stream of volunteers either still untapped or already rejected for service is something like 30,000. Honorable members will also recall that in October of 1964 the same Minister told the National Congress of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia in Hobart that conscription was not the most effective way to create an army. On that occasion he went on to make what he apparently considered was a pretty strong point about the reasons why conscription should not be adopted, for he said that an army composed entirely of volunteers who had offered for long terms was much better than one composed of a mixture of volunteers and conscripts. Those remarks by the former Minister for the Army are well worth bearing in mind.

On 11th November 1964, only a fortnight after the Minister for the Army of that time had said so very definitely that national service training could not serve any good purpose and in fact could worsen the position because conscripts would not mix with volunteers to make a good army, the present Treasurer (Mr. McMahon), who was then Minister for Labour and National Service, introduced the National Service Bill 1964, which provided for the conscription into the Army of 20-year-old youths. He told us then that the young men called up not only would be called on to train in Australia but also could be sent overseas. Towards the end of his second reading speech, he told us that the Government believed that the decision to reintroduce national service training would have a useful effect on the Army. That was a complete repudiation of what his colleague had said a few days earlier and also a complete contradiction of what had been, so the former Minister for the Army had said, the advice of his military advisers, lt seems that the decision to conscript had already been made when the Minister was so busily telling the Hobart congress that consideration of the reintroduction of national service training would bc stupid.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, there can be little doubt, and in fact it is almost certain, that some of these lads who are to be conscripted and sent to fight in Vietnam will go against their own wishes and those of their parents. Also it is almost certain - in fact we should say that it is certain - that some of these lads will lose their lives as a result of their being sent overseas. I simply ask honorable members on the Government side whether in these circumstances they feel completely justified in supporting conscription, particularly at a time when, according to the Prime Minister, we are not at war, when there is no emergency and when the decision to increase our forces in Vietnam is largely the result of a request from the Government of South Vietnam. If honorable members opposite do feel justified in supporting conscription, I ask them whether they also feel justified in supporting a system under which the conscripts will be selected by way of a lottery. Do they feel justified in gambling with the lives of young men?

Mr Turnbull:

– Suggest a better way.


– If they have any doubts, and if the honorable member for Mallee has any doubts, about either conscription or the system used for selecting those to be conscripted, then they should support the Opposition’s amendment, because it will be too late to do anything about the matter after these lads go overseas and after many of them lose their lives. 1 would also like to point out that of the numbers of volunteers rejected in 1963 and 1964 more than 10,000 were rejected because of being insufficiently educated. When challenged on this aspect oi the matter the then Minister for the Army said -

These standards of education were forged out of the experiences of war which proved conclusively that a man who did not reach these standards was an administrative liability, a danger to the lives of his comrades and a risk to morale.

The Minister then went on to say that the education test was such that a recruit with a mental age of no more than 11 years and 9 months would be intelligent enough to learn basic military skills. This means that 10,000 men out of 52,000 could not meet even this standard. This fact in itself is an indictment of the Government for its education system. After the Government was 16 years in office a fifth of our young men were apparently so poorly educated that they could not reach even the low standard described by the Minister.

The present Minister for the Army (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) made the position appear even worse when he said the other day - I think during this very debate - that the standard oi education for recruits is about the standard reached by a child of nine or ten years. Despite this we find that a substantial number still fail to reach the required educational standard. This is a shameful thing and highlights the need for the Government to take some action in relation to its primary education system.

Not one member on the Government side, Mr. Deputy Speaker, has devoted any length of time to the most controversial question in this debate. Not one has made any attempt to justify the Government’s action on conscription. Some of them have rushed up to the subject with a great blast about the situation in Vietnam, but they have all hesitated, shied off like mettlesome ponies and then rushed away in some other direction. Not one of them has taken up the challenge of the Opposition. This applies to the Prime Minister himself who even when taking his second turn at the crease rushed up to the question of conscription and then adroitly turned the subject to leg.

The fact is that the members of the Government are a lot of phonies. If they were not, and if the position is as they tell us it is, they would proclaim a state of emergency. They would conscript not only our youths but also the wealth of the country and the people whom the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin) so frequently talks about who control our banking system, and they would put everything on a proper war footing.

Minister for Shipping and Transport · Forrest · LP

– I can assure the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) that I shall say a few words about conscription. But, first of all, he said that the by-election in the Dawson electorate showed that the people wanted Labour policy. In one respect at least the present honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson), who won that by-election, did not produce Labour policy, because he is on public record as saying during the campaign that he believed that Australian troops should be in Vietnam. That is not Labour policy. But that statement did help him to get elected.

A contemptible phrase has been used during this debate. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) talks about “ voteless kids “. I believe that he should stop and think what he really means by these emotional phrases that he is so fond of coining for purely political purposes. What was the age of the pilots who won the Battle of Britain? Many of them started training at the age of 17 years and were veteran pilots at the age of 18 or 19 years, and certainly at the age of 20 years. What about the young Australians who fought so valiantly in the New Guinea campaign? They fought as well as or better than anyone else. They were men in every sense of the word. Are 20 year olds today to be insulted by this kind of phrase that is coined by the Leader of the Opposition?

He uses the word “ voteless “ to arouse more passion than sense. Great Britain went without an election during the whole of World War II. Yet nobody thought that democracy had died. What silly nonsense it is to make this an issue when we have elections once every three years and a national serviceman can be called up and serve a full two year period without once having an opportunity to vote, whether or not he turns 21 in that period. But is it not a completely academic point? Does the soldier who is being shot at by the

Vietcong stop to think how much better he would feel if he had a vote? Did the militiaman of 20 years ago, when he was being shot at by the Japanese from cocount palms, say: “This is all right; I have a vote”?

The Opposition uses this emotional approach for two reasons: First, because its leader has not moved from a fifty year old attitude on conscription and secondly, because he is violently opposed to any Australian troops being in Vietnam at all and, if he can mix that up with the question of conscription, that suits his purpose. I believe that the Australian people must decide the issues in a larger way. I ask the House, first, where Australia is to be defended and, secondly, when and how we should defend Australia. If honest answers to those questions are given in the light of all that has occurred since World War II, I am certain that the policy of the Government is justified.

Let us consider where Australia is to be defended. It is a matter of history that we have always sought to defend Australia before an enemy has landed on Australian soil. The concept of an outer screen for defence was adopted by Australia’s wartime Labour Government. I need only quote the words of the then Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, to remind the House of government policy at that time. In February 1943 Mr. Curtin said, as reported in “ Hansard “ -

Tee defence of Australia is not confined to its territorial limits. Provided adequate forces are available, it can best be secured by denying to the enemy the outer screen of islands from which attacks can be launched on the mainland.

If it makes sense to take any steps at all outside Australia to strengthen our defences, and if proper steps can be taken only by some degree of conscription, then what kind of obstinate idiocy is it to say: “We stick by a tradition and a principle - conscription only inside Australia and not a step outside “? That is the stubborn attitude of the Leader of the Opposition, as I shall show. On 10th December 1942 this man, who aspires to lead a government in this country, speaking with magnificent irresponsibility, said - and I quote his exact words -

To me it does not matter where a man goes after he leaves Australian territory on compulsory service. To me geography does not matter.

In other words, in 1942 he rejected the concept of defending Australia from afar. The conscripts then, according to him, had to sit within the three mile limit and wait. Why? Not because of any military reason, but because of a referendum that was held in 1916 and the emotional involvement of the Leader of the Opposition in it.

If one reads the debate of that time and sees the five reasons given by John Curtin for introducing conscription to Australia, and if one substitutes for “ South West Pacific area “ the words “ South East Asian area “, one sees there is little difference between the strategic concepts of today’s situation and those governing the situation which confronted John Curtin. The reasons given by him for introducing conscription were, first, the strategical setup in the South West Pacific area - and substitute for that “ South East Asian area “; secondly, the objectives of global strategy in their particular relation to the South West Pacific area; thirdly, the nature of the forces required for operations in the Pacific areas; fourthly, the strength of the Australian naval, land and air forces available for commitments and for co-operation, not only in the South West Pacific area, but also in other threatres as well; and fifthly, Australia’s manpower resources and the maximum forces they were capable of maintaining in the field. As I have said, if we substitute “South East Asia” for “South West Pacific “ this exactly describes the situation which compels the Australian Government, no matter how little it likes having to do so, to have limited numbers of national service trainees incorporated with the Regular Army units serving overseas.

I ask: Where do we defend Australia? I think the obvious answer is: As far away as possible from our own territory. Our duty as a Government is to spare, as far as is humanly possible, the horrors of war being inflicted on our people. When and how do we defend Australia? To answer this question I turn again to the late John Curtin who, in 1943, said -

It is an axiom of military planning that one does not prepare for war in general, but for a particular war which represents one’s greatest risk.

This brings us back to the South East Asia Treaty Organisation Agreement of 1954, because this involvement in Vietnam is not an excursion that the Government under took at a moment’s notice. It is in fulfilment of contractual obligations signed and undertaken in 1954. Communist aggression was foreseen and expected as part of a continuing pattern. That was the war against which we were planning.

One would think from its attitude to present events that the Australian Labour Party is opposed to the S.E.A.T.O. Agreement. The plain truth is that under the leadership of the late Dr. Evatt the Labour Party supported the S.E.A.T.O. Agreement when it was brought into this House in 1954. The threat posed by Communist aggression has been seen clearly, and our defence preparations have been continually geared to meet it since shortly after the end of World War II. This was the threat in Malaya. It was certainly the threat in Korea, and more particularly -in relation to S.E.A.T.O. In describing regional pacts in relation to the United Nations Dr. Evatt said -

The second way of enabling disputes to be dealt with irrespective of the veto of the Security Council-

And this is why we have to invoke the S.E.A.T.O. Agreement- is by regional arrangements. I believe that regional arrangements have come to stay.

He then went on to say that, subject to two amendments which he would propose, the Labour Party would support the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty. In the result, although his amendments were not accepted, there was no dissident voice from the Labour Party when the question was put to the vote.

Where does this leave the Labour Party today? Having supported the treaty when it came into this House as a document, do members of the Labour Party now wish to abandon it when it is translated into real action? Were they willing in 1954 to contain the spread of Communist aggression in theory and to lend their names to the proposition that they were willing to take up arms against it, and now do they say that this was only for effect and they did not ever intend to carry it out?

In 1954 this Government, as did the American Government, saw clearly the kind of risk that lay ahead. The protocol States declared under the S.E.A.T.O. agreement were Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam. I emphasise South Vietnam, not Vietnam as a whole. Part of the deliberate confusion spread about the question of whether there is aggression or a civil war is the entirely spurious proposition that North Vietnam and South Vietnam are two parts of one State. South Vietnam is a sovereign State, a member nation of the United Nations. As one of the protocol States it has appealed to us for help, as it has appealed to the other members of S.E.A.T.O. for help.

When we ask ourselves when and where and how do we defend Australia against our greatest risk - Communist aggression - surely it is a peculiar notion that we start answering this question by dishonouring the very obligations we undertook, with Labour’s approval, to insure against that very risk. Yet that is what Labour now argues. Here was the situation: The S.E.A.T.O. nations agreed that aggression should be stopped; that the main danger for all of them, including Australia, was Communism, and South Vietnam was one of the States particularly named as being liable to Communist aggression. Ten years later the situation arises which the treaty was designed to cover.

Was there aggression? The Leader of the Opposition said so in February 1965 when he supported American action in Vietnam but said that Australia should not be in it. On 4th May he said in this House -

That there has long been, and still is, aggression from the North cannot be denied.

Yet the other day he said it is a civil war.

Mr Kelly:

– The same man?


– The same man. His Party’s present attitude, then, is one without shame, without conscience and without any sense of direction. He and his colleagues change their views and their arguments almost daily. They pay no regard to the march of events and they pay no regard to global strategy or any of the brutal facts of strategic geography. In other words, theirs is the kind of hopeless policy which one would expect from a man who simply said: “To me geography does not matter.” The Leader of the Opposition is like a goldfish in a bowl. He watches the world go by and does not realise that he is removed and remote and is living in an entirely different element.

Because of this attitude, Labour now asks the Australian nation, because it has thrown down this election challenge, to brand itself as a nation which defaults. The whole issue of Australian involvement in Vietnam is clouded by the military and political issue of conscription, and we have to examine that. Our military planning since the S.E.A.T.O. agreement was entered into has been based on possible involvement. The precise degree of involvement is always a matter of expert military judgment before it becomes a political question. I need only point to the fact that military judgment means to the Americans involving 300,000 men as compared with Australia’s 4,500.

The question of judgment to the Republic of Korea means involving 40,000 troops as against Australia’s 4,500. The Republic of Korea, as I need hardly remind this House, has a population some two and a half times that of Australia and a living standard probably about one-tenth of that of Australia, and it is making a contribution nearly 10 times that of Australia. The Americans, without any territorial interests, are committing 300,000 men. In proportion to our contribution, the American contribution would be nearer the size of the Korean contribution. While we are on the question of judgment, let us look at the kind of judgment we can expect from the Leader of the Opposition. 1 have quoted at some length, and with approval, the judgment applied by John Curtin in 1943. What did the Leader of the Opposition say at that very time? He said -

There has never been any need for conscription, and the conscriptionists are the worst enemies which Australia has at the moment.

That was in 1943, when the Japanese were killing our troops. I need only mention the agony this nation went through while it waited on the Labour Conference of 36 faceless men in 1942 and 1943 to make up its mind about conscription.

In December 1941 the Japanese entered the war. They attacked Pearl Harbour. They bombed Darwin and the north west of Australia. A submarine fired on Sydney. They were in possession of all of the northern part of New Guinea and many of the Pacific islands. At that time the Australian Labour Party policy was against conscription for service outside Australia. It was well known that the military advisers in 1942 considered that conscription was necessary. John Curtin, as Prime Minister, had to conduct a vigorous personal canvass round the State executives of the A.L.P. to get permission in November 1942 to propose a resolution at the A.L.P. conference in January 1943 to change A.L.P. policy, and the nation waited while these men decided outside the Parliament. Here was the Australian Parliament, the Australian Government and the Australian nation waiting on these 36 men - not elected - to make a decision affecting the safety of this nation.

When the Bill was finally before the House, the Leader of the Opposition said -

I hope that this Bill will be defeated. As I have already said, if it does become lawI hope it will be a dead letter. If it does not become a dead letter,I hope that in a few months the Labour Party of Australia in conference assembled will revert to the attitude which it formerly adopted in regard to conscription.

He was not leaving the decision to the Parliament. He wanted to take it back to the 36 faceless men. Can we wonder that the men he leads in this House have different and confused views of conscription at this time? If the present Leader of the Opposition could bring himself to utter words like those when the Japanese were at the very gates of Australia, how can we expect any judgment from him at the present time? The kind of hysteria and emotionalism with which he invests the current issues can only be explained by the fact that he is at least consistent. He has not changed in over 20 years, and he showed the same hysteria in World War II.

I only ask the Australian people to face reality and to answer honestly the questions I have asked: Where do we defend Australia? When do we defend Australia and how will we do it? I believe their answers in the light of the facts I have stated tonight will endorse the steps taken year by year steadily and with a sense of full responsibility by this Government.

Question put -

That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Calwell’s amendment) stand part of the question.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)

AYES: 60

NOES: 47

Majority .. ..12



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

page 645


The Parliament - National Service Training

Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

Dr J F Cairns:

.- On Wednesday, 16th March of this year, the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) deliberately chose to include in a speech that he was making a statement that I had been asked at a meeting whether I was against guerrilla warfare and that I had answered: “What is wrong with guerrilla warfare? “ On Thursday, 17th March of this year, I said in the House that I had never been asked whether I was against guerrilla warfare and I had never said: “What is wrong with guerrilla warfare? “ The honorable member for Chisholm had wanted to insinuate by these statements that I favoured guerrilla warfare and that in particular I supported the Vietcong in all their extreme and terrorist activities. He said that these statements were true and accurately recorded in shorthand notes taken at the time, which, of course, he has never produced. On 23rd March of this year, the honorable member for Chisholm produced a tape recorder, claiming that it confirmed the shorthand notes and proved I was a liar.

Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes:

– I did not use that word.

Dr J F Cairns:

– That is what the honorable member was seeking to prove. He should not try to have it both ways. The honorable member for Chisholm has not been able to produce from his tape recorder even one of the words he claims were in the shorthand notes and upon which he based his allegations. He has not been able to produce from the tape recorder one of the words that he alleges were in the shorthand notes. He did not find any of the words asking whether I was against guerrilla warfare and he was not able to find any of the words that he quoted in saying that I had said: “ What is wrong with guerrilla warfare? “

The tape recorder does not confirm his shorthand notes in any way. What is more, he was unable to tell the House that he had found in his tape recording even words that had a similar meaning to those that he had used before. What he alleges he found in the tape recording was the statement: “ Is there something particularly sinful about a guerrilla?”, and the words - my words: “I have said already, and I don’t want to be misquoted about this, I have said already that I deplore force and violence used by anybody”. In the very speech in which the honorable member for Chisholm alleges that I said I favoured guerrilla warfare he has found a statement that I deplore force and violence used by anybody. In the very speech that he produced to try to sub stantiate his claim he has found a statement that contradicts his own allegations. These statements do not mean that I favour guerrilla warfare. Indeed, they mean that I deplore guerrilla warfare. These statements that he has quoted from his tape recording - the only evidence that he has ever produced - prove that my position is as I stated it to be. These statements that he produced from his tape recording show that I said that guerrilla warfare is no more sinful than any other form of warfare. To me they are all bad. These statements prove that I deplore all forms of warfare including guerrilla warfare. That is the position with regard to these empty and baseless charges that the honorable member for Chisholm chooses to make on the basis of shorthand notes taken by some pimp of whom we have no knowledge, supplemented by a tape recording made by some other pimp or spy of whom we have no knowledge. I wonder just how much of this would have happened had the Bill that his Party tried to pass in 1951 become law? How many more of these pimps would have been running around with shorthand notes and tape recorders trying to take-

Mr Turner:

– A pimp at a public meeting?

Dr J F Cairns:

– I do not mind. The bigger the crowd the better. And if the honorable member for Bradfield would do something about coming out and debating these subjects I would be very pleased to accommodate him too. I say that, taken together, the statements that were produced in the tape recording by the honorable member for Chisholm when he was trying to prove the opposite, prove that I said that guerrilla warfare is no more sinful than any other form of warfare - to me they are all bad - and secondly, that I deplore all forms of warfare, including guerrilla warfare.

The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) - we have not heard very much from him recently on this subject except by snide interjection - and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes), amongst other Government members, joined in the low level and unsupported charges last night and implied that I lacked courage. The honorable gentlemen might be right. 1 might lack courage. But I will say this: Any unwillingness on my part to join in the nightly smear campaign until I have had the opportunity to check the accusations in “ Hansard “, is no evidence of a lack of courage, It is merely evidence of a desire to keep away from the stupid and petty accusations that the honorable member for Chisholm and the honorable member for Mackellar are becoming noted for in this House. I will also say this: I challenge those members singly and collectively to test, my courage, physical or moral, in any way they choose. My courage might not pass all the tests which will be imposed upon it in the next few years in politics, but I shall do my best and try to pass those tests. If I fail, I will not complain.

Mr Gibson:

– Are you a man of destiny?

Dr J F Cairns:

– The honorable member has achieved his destiny already. I thought it was a most appropriate one for him. I think he is well fitted for it. The only other thing I ask is that the ‘Melbourne “Age” and the Sydney “Daily Telegraph “, whose reporters, I think, went out of their way to spread the smears about lies and lack of courage, in the guise of news, will now do something about reporting accurately what they find in “ Hansard “ and what I have said this evening.

Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes:

– I must confess, after listening to the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), that he does look a somewhat mixed up member. He said in the first place that I had not been able to produce one of the words which I said he had uttered. I produced the words last night after I had, through the Opposition Whip, warned him that I was going to talk further on this particular subject. May I mention just in passing that I did not receive the same courtesy from him tonight.

I do not mind whether it is a question of courage or not, but what actually happened last night when the honorable member did not appear was that I quoted verbatim what he had said. May I repeat it? I quoted what he said about the Vietcong - that they were fighting mainly for national reasons. Then I said that there were interjections of “guerrillas”. I mentioned that the honorable member for Yarra had said -

They are fighting also-

He was interrupted again by loud interjections of “ guerrillas “. The honorable member immediately replied - he apparently got a bit heated about it - Well, what is wrong with it?

Mr Beaton:

– That is only the honorable member’s version. He was not even there.

Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes:

– The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) came and listened to the tape in King’s Hall afterwards. He cannot deny what he heard on the tape.

Mr Uren:

– Of course I deny it. Mr. Speaker, I have been misrepresented. The honorable member for Chisholm said that 1 was there and that I cannot deny that I heard it. When I arrived there-


– Order! The honorable member cannot debate the matter.

Mr Uren:

– Well, I deny it.

Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes:

– The honorable member is obviously stone deaf as well as not very good in the brain if he denies that he heard it. There were about six or eight other persons there who could act as witnesses as to what was on the tape and whether the honorable member heard it or not. Another accusation which amuses me was made by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) and now again by the honorable member for Yarra. It was that this was reported to me by some spy or pimp or somebody else who was at the Mosman meeting. The honorable member for Yarra advertised the meeting. It was a public meeting; anybody was entitled to go there. How can you have a spy or a pimp at a public meeting? How ridiculous it is. It is as ridiculous as the rest of the honorable member’s argument. The honorable member for Wills reminds me of that old musicale “ The Desert Song “. He seems to be the red shadow for the honorable member for Yarra in the deserters’ song.

The honorable member for Yarra invited the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) to come out on the platform and debate this matter with him. Recently I received a request - it was supposed to be in the name of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council - to a teach-in in the lower Town Hall. I started to make inquiries and I received a very interesting letter which shows the kind of debate that the honorable member for Yarra wants on this question. The letter is addressed to trade unions and to trade union executives and officials. It states -

Dear Friends,

We, individually trade union officials, are deeply concerned at the continued escalation of the Vietnam war and the deepening involvement of Australia. As trade unionists with responsibility for the protection and development of working people we are concerned to see so many of our youngsters being conscripted to fight wars in foreign lands. Further we take very seriously the trade union slogan, “ Peace is trade union business “.

The letter continues to say that they proposed to invite one member from the Government side - that was me - and I was informed that the member from the Opposition who would be invited was the honorable member for Yarra. The letter continues -

We sincerely ask that your union executive study the «on tents of this letter and assure us, as soon as possible, of the co-operation we will need to ensure a successful meeting. For convenience sake replies can be forwarded to. . . .

The next step will be the calling together of a planning committee to cope with the practical details. We would hope that your union in considering your support will also be prepared to delegate an official to help with the preparation of the “ Teach In “.

The letter was signed by George Crawford, Roy Cameron, Bert Nolan, Neville Hill, Tommy Doyle, Felix Martin, Stan Williams, Kevin Doherty, Percy Johnson, Don McSween, Jim Ralston, Albert McNolty and Bill O’Brien. It sounded to me like a good unity ticket show. Although I was brought up in the early days of street corners on Friday nights and have been accustomed to that atmosphere, I have no intention of playing the fly to be asked into the web of the honorable member for Yarra. These teach-ins are not really teach-ins at all; they are merely attempts to get publicity and to drag moderates into the audience. The honorable member for Yarra can get an audience for himself. The honorable member knows that at these meetings he sometimes gets a bit hot under the collar and then comes along and denies what he has said. Even when he is given proof he gets up in this House and says that he has not said what he did say. That is absolutely sheer nonsense. I was fair to the honorable member for Yarra. I did not quote his remarks out of context. I quoted the sentence that he used. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I leave it to the people who have been listening to this debate or who read it to judge who is right and who is wrong in this context.


– I call the honorable member for Barton.

Mr Uren:

Mr Speaker-


– Order! I have called the honorable member for Bar; on. The name of the honorable member for Reid is not shown on the list of speakers.

Mr Reynolds:

– I rise to order. Mr. Speaker. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) wishes to make a personal explanation. I think he should be allowed to do so.


– If the honorable member makes it clear to the Chair that he wishes to make a personal explanation and the Chair understands his request, he will have that right.

Mr Uren:

– 1 desire to speak, but I shall wait until it is my turn.


– Tonight and over recent days we have heard a fine flurry of patriotic fervour from the Government regarding the threat lo Australia. The nation has been told of the definite need to conscript men and to send them to fight in South Vietnam. We have been told that conscription is absolutely necessary because the voluntary system is supposed to have been tried and has failed. But when we strip the Government’s case of its synthetic patriotism and look at the Government’s action, what do we find to be the real consideration for the men called upon to fight? The matter to which I am about to refer concerns one of my constituents. Every recent expression of the Government’s concern is denied by action more indicative of the Government’s true disposition. The question has arisen concerning the salary that is to be paid to members of the Public Service who are called up for national service training. I am indebted to my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), for providing me with a copy of a question that he put on notice to the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) quite recently. I shall quote the question and the answer the Deputy Leader of the Opposition received to it. It is Question No. 1512 and it is under the heading: “ Government Employees: Payment while on Military Service”. It is to be found on page 201 of “ Hansard “. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked -

  1. In what circumstances and to what extent do the Government and Commonwealth statutory authorities (a) pay or make up the salaries of employees who are on military service and (b) require them to maintain their superannuation contributions?
  2. On what dates, by what means and with what results has the Government communicated with State Governments concerning the salaries and superannuation contributions of the employees of those Governments and their statutory authorities while on military service?

The answer provided by the present Prime Minister on 10th March 1966 is in the same terms as the answer to a previous question asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition of the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, which was answered in January of this year. The present Prime Minister answered in this way - 1. (a) Officers and employees employed under the Public Service Acts who are called up for military service are subject to the following conditions in relation to salaries during military service -

  1. as a member of the Defence Forces in time of war or as a member of the Defence Forces allotted for duty in an area in which the Forces of the United Nations are engaged in warlike operations, full salary is paid for the first 14 days of military service.

I want to remind the House again of the answer. If these officers and employees are engaged in war or in operations involving United Nations Forces, then the Commonwealth Public Service benevolently pays them their full salary for the first 14 days of their service. The Prime Minister added -

  1. Contributors under the Superannuation Act 1922-1965 are required to pay contributions at the normal rates while on leave of absence for military service.

Further, the Prime Minister said -

  1. Such correspondence as had passed between the Commonwealth and State Governments in relation to National Servicemen has not touched on the subject of salaries and superannuation contributions of employees of State Governments and Sta’.” statutory authorities.

Let us come to the crux of the whole matter. I have found out the position and had it confirmed today. The Government will make up the salaries of national servicemen who at the time of being called up were employees of the Commonwealth Public Service for only the first 14 days of their military service; it will not pay a whit more to them. The New South Wales Public Service and all New South Wales statutory authorities, I understand, make up the full salary of all their officers while they are in the national service training scheme. That is the difference. The Commonwealth Government should be setting the example. This is the new Government which believes, in the words of the Prime Minister tonight, that everything had been done to induce men to volunteer for the Services. A young officer of a Commonwealth Department, which I will not name here tonight, has indicated to me that he is to be called up and will begin national service training next month. For the next two years while he is in the national service scheme, instead of receiving the full adult rate of $48.20 per week to which he is entitled, he will be paid the national service rate of $33.60 a week. 1 have confirmed this position today with the New South Wales Public Service and also the Commonwealth Public Service. This is the difference between the two Public Services. If the young man was employed in the New South Wales Public Service he would receive his full civilian salary during his national service training. Admittedly, this decision was made by the previous Labour Government; but all Government employees in New South Wales - whether they be in the State Public Service or are officers of statutory authorities - will receive their full salaries while undergoing national service training. From this Government and from the Liberal-Country Party Government in Victoria, which takes the same attitude as is taken by this Government, public servants will receive no subsidy to make up their pay.

This attitude is in line with other actions of the Commonwealth Government. We all recall how long servicemen in Vietnam had to wait to get the special allowance that was eventually paid to them. We all recall how long it was before we got anything resembling decent amenities for the troops serving in Vietnam. I was one who spoke up in this Parliament about that. We all recall how long it took and how much badgering went on in this Parliament before the Government agreed even to pay the cost of returning to Australia for burial the bodies of soldiers killed in Vietnam. We all recall the trouble over equipment, especially boots, in the early stages of the service of Australian forces in Vietnam.

Mr Benson:

– There is also the matter of repatriation.


– Yes. We all recall the Government’s hesitancy on that. It is asking young men to come forward and serve. But they have every reason not to volunteer and we cannot get volunteers. So we have to draft men into the Army. We have to conscript them. This is indicative of the real attitude of the Government. It is more preoccupied with gaining for big business enterprises in this country large defence contracts for the supply of munitions and equipment than it is concerned about the welfare of ordinary service men and women. It is more concerned about big business than it is about the welfare

Df its own servants in the Public Service. This is a scandalous situation. The constituent whom I have mentioned, instead of receiving $48.20 a week, will receive $33.60. He will be $14.60 a week, or in our old currency £7 6s. a week, worse off. Yet this Government not only asks him to risk his life in Vietnam but also penalises him to the tune of $14.60 a week in loss of salary. This indicates the Government’s real attitude. This sort of action is typical of it and in sharp contrast to the attitudes that are professed in this House by Government supporters.

As I have said, tonight we heard from the Prime Minister that the Government had increased the pay of servicemen, that it had provided them with better benefits under the defence forces retirement benefits scheme, that it had done this and that it had done that. None of us really believes that the Government has made a sincere and honest attempt to do the right thing by those who are prepared voluntarily to serve our country in the forces. As I said before, the Government has shown itself to be much more willing to obtain defence contracts for private enterprise and big business than to do the right thing by its own servants in the Commonwealth Public Service and make up their pay while they are serving in the forces. Commonwealth officers not only will be under a disability because their pay will not be made up. They also will be required still to meet their normal superannuation contributions. Labour’s attitude, on the other hand, is typified by what was done in New South Wales when a Labour Government was in office. What was done by a Labour government in that State is in sharp contrast to what the present Commonwealth Government is prepared to do. as I have pointed out tonight.


Mr. Speaker, earlier this evening the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), when discussing his wish to play a tape recording in the chamber, said that he had played it in King’s Hall and that I had heard it and would vouch for what was on it. I saw a group of people standing in King’s Hall and I walked up to them. 1 was present for about 10 or 15 seconds and during that time I heard what was to me an unintelligible recording being played. I could not understand what was on the recording. I heard Mr. Reid of the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ say: “ Play it back again, Bill “. I asked what was actually said on the tape, but nobody gave me any explanation of it. The honorable member for Chisholm knows full well that I said to him: “What did the tape say?” And he knows that he did not give me any information about what the tape had said. I did not hear any understandable words at all on that tape and, as 1 say, I stayed no more than 10 or 15 seconds after I walked up to the group of people.

I attended the meeting that was held in the Mosman Town Hall and I would like to give some of the facts concerning it. It was organised by the Mosman Branch of the Australian Labour Party to explain the Labour Party’s opposition to the policy of the Holt Government - or the Menzies Government as it was then - of sending Australian forces and conscripts to Vietnam. There were two speakers, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) and Senator Murphy. Both of them, of course, are members of the Australian Labour Party and the chairman of the meeting was the President of the Mosman Branch of the Australian Labour Party. It was an overflow meeting attended by 700 or 800 people. I do not think the Mosman Town Hall had ever before had a crowd like it. There was a very disruptive element in the audience, a group of people who were out to stifle freedom of speech. There were Young Liberals present and there was another section headed by Michael Darby. There was also a group belonging to the Australian Fascist Party. In all fairness I must say that when the Young Liberals found that the members of the Australian Fascist Party were there and were trying to stifle freedom of speech they endeavoured to dissociate themselves from the Fascist Party group.

As I have said, the members of the Fascist Party were there with the intention of stifling freedom of speech. They had placed stickers on the doors and around the walls. I have one of the stickers here. It says: “ White people of the world unite and fight. Join hands with your racial brothers and sisters all over the earth for white survival. World Union of National Socialists, International Headquarters. 928 North Randolph Street, Arlington, Virginia, U.S.A.” On the left hand side of the sticker is the Nazi insignia, the swastika. These are the people who were disrupting the audience. During the first three quarters of an hour of the discussion we saw a disgraceful exhibition of people trying to stifle freedom of speech. I understand that they were not all Nazi Party people; some of them were in a group under the leadership of Michael Darby. I understand that Michael Darby is not a member of the Liberal Party.

I wanted to give some idea of the atmosphere prevailing at this meeting at which certain elements tried to stifle discussion. The Labour Party wants to organise meetings because it is. after all. difficult for the Labour Party to have its view on the Vietnam war publicised. The only way is to organise public meetings. I have attended many such meetings. The purpose of this meeting was to explain to the people of Australia what is really happening in Vietnam. Both the honorable member for Yarra and Senator Murphy expressed the views of the Labour Party as laid down in our policy which is very clear and precise. Then there were many questions that were sent up in writing and also, of course, there were interjections from the floor. Apart from the first three-quarters of an hour, this meeting was quite an orderly one. For the first threequarters of an hour there was a disgraceful exhibition. If any member of the Liberal

Party associates with this disruptive. antiAustralian element, he should be ashamed of himself. I wanted to explain to honorable members some of the happenings at this public meeting which was held at the Mosman Town Hall and which was organised by the Australian Labour Party to express its views and policy on Vietnam.


, - At the rebroadcast in King’s Hall I noticed the presence of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren). I did not notice his presence very closely. I am not prepared to say how long he was there. I do not know that of my own knowledge. The question has arisen as to what is on this tape. That could be settled very easily and quickly. The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) has offered to replay the tape in King’s Hall as you, Mr. Speaker, have ruled that it cannot be played in this chamber. So if the honorable member for Reid did not have a chance to hear it, he can hear it tonight in King’s Hall.

But I make another suggestion. I know that this tape was recorded at a public meeting. It may not have the quality of a proper recording, but I believe that it is of sufficient interest for the public to hear it. I suggest to the honorable member for Chisholm that he might care to make it available to a broadcasting station so that everybody could hear exactly what is on it and we would then know something more about the attitude of the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns).

I should like to say a couple of other things. A few minutes ago the honorable member for Reid was waxing eloquent about the alleged Fascist suppression of free speech. He does not wax so eloquent about the real Communist suppression of free speech. I can say this from my own personal knowledge. A few weeks ago, at the Paddington Town Hall, I participated in a debate. The honorable member for Yarra was also present. A Communist clique in the hall scarcely allowed me to get a word out. As soon as I stood up and started to tell some of the truth about Vietnam, organised interruption made my words inaudible. This was continued deliberately, with the approving glances and sniggers of the honorable member for Yarra, during the whole time that 1 was endeavouring to speak.

Earlier this evening the honorable member for Chisholm gave documentary evidence of the way in which these Communist sons and their Labour allies endeavour to organise meetings and stop free speech. Tonight we have seen the honorable member for Reid, who is in this up to his neck, standing up in this House and pretending to be indignant about somebody trying to stop free speech when he wanted to speak. I am in favour of free speech. I am in favour of free and unstacked meetings. But I know - the honorable member for Chisholm has provided documentary evidence of this to the House tonight - how the Communist Party and the Labour Party, in alliance, are stacking these meetings to prevent free speech. It is the height of hypocracy for a member of the Labour Party to stand up and pretend to be indignant when he himself and his hangers-on are participating fully in a plot to prevent free speech. As I have said, the documentary evidence of this was produced tonight. The honorable member for Yarra has shown in this House in the past - and “ Hansard “ can prove it - that his word cannot always be taken at its face value. May I remind him that some time ago in this House, repeating what he had said on a broadcast, he first said he would be willing to meet me in debate anywhere. Subsequently, also in this House - and this is also in the record in “ Hansard “ - he withdrew that offer - ran away from it - and said he would noi meet me in debate. These things are in “ Hansard “. These are the reasons why, I am afraid, he has earned the soubriquet of “ the Yarra crayfish “.

Mr Gibson:

– Where is he now?


– Is he in the

House now? I do not see him, although a few moments ago, through the Labour Whip, I said I was going to mention him and suggested that if he had courage he should be present in the House to hear what I had to say. He wants to go out, as I am reminded, to prepare a fabricated defence - to prepare it very carefully.

I am reminded also of the occasion on 14th October 1964 when I laid on the table of this House - I have here a further copy of it in case anybody wants it - evidence that the honorable member for Yarra had, in this House involved himself in a web of deceit in a manner which was to the interests of the Communist Party. Here is the evidence. It has been laid on the table of the House, and I do not intend to go through it in detail now. It is all set down in writing and I have copies for any honorable member opposite who might like to see it.

The honorable member for Yarra also makes a great play of being a man of peace. He is all against violence. May I remind him that I sat opposite him at a television interview in which the conduct of butcher Castro was being discussed, and that the honorable member made the remark that Castro had behaved only like a good Labour man would behave. I heard this with my own ears. I was there, and it was heard and seen by many people, because the incident was on television. I think 1 can leave it at that. The honorable member for Yarra does himself no credit when he comes in here and makes fabrication after fabrication to try to cover up something that he wants covered up.

The honorable member for Reid shows himself as worthy only of contempt when he endeavours to accuse other organisations - whether justly or unjustly I do not know - of the very thing that the Communist Party does in full association with the Labour Party.


.- The discussion tonight deserves some explanation. I think -that the explanation is that the Government parties are very conscious of the fact that they are being indicted for conscripting young men of 18 to 20 years to fight in the dirtiest and most stinking war that perhaps has ever been known. This accusation against the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) amounts to this - that he is alleged to have said: “ What is wrong with guerrilla warfare? “. Let us have a look at what this Government is doing. Today young men are being compulsorily removed from their homes, taken to the jungles of Queensland and trained to be efficient in the practice of guerrilla warfare. People all over the world are saying that this is a dirty war. So Australia comes into a dirty war and trains men in jungle warfare which is, in other words, guerrilla warfare. These young men sail away as conscripts and land on the shores of a country where there ia undoubtedly, on the admission of the most reliable authorities, a very large section of trained South Vietnamese who rightly or wrongly consider they are defending the integrity and the shores of their own country. They, on their part, have been trained in the art of jungle warfare. They are South Vietnamese. On the other hand, there are those in Vietnam, North and South, who are dedicated members of the Vietcong or, in other words, the local Communist Party. But in both instances they are natives of Vietnam, North and South. They have had a prolonged quarrel amongst themselves since they unloaded the French. They have given no indication at any stage of this filthy fight that they ever have endeavoured or even have wanted to do anything to the detriment of this country we all love so much.

Because someone in this party says: “ What is wrong with guerrilla warfare? “, the Government gets very heated, and attempts to smother the fact that it is responsible for training young men to leave the shores of Australia - young mcn adequately trained in guerrilla warfare - lo land on the shores of another country whose inhabitants wish no ill will towards Australia, to meet the guerrillas of that country.

Someone has asked: “ What is wrong with guerrilla warfare? “ There is everything wrong with it, and this Government which is responsible for training young Australians compulsorily to go overseas and engage in guerrilla warfare in other people’s territory is, in my opinion, engaged in a very evil act. ls it any wonder someone has asked: “ What is wrong with guerrilla warfare? “ We are engaging in it and so are the people on whose soil we are landing our forces. The obvious answer to the question: “What is wrong with guerrilla warfare? “, is that it is evil, but primarily evil is this Government which has plunged this Australia of ours into a filthy conflict among people of a country who have never done anything to harm us and who want to live in peace with the rest of the world. On both sides of the dirty quarrel, the people of Vietnam are more interested in the integrity of their own country than in anything else.

I learned a few dirty tactics while being trained for a war in which we had something to fight for but in this case honorable members opposite should be ashamed of themselves. They are so ashamed that they have had to dig up their champion muckraker - I do not apply these remarks to the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) - to deliver a phoney attack on the Opposition. To honorable members opposite I say: “ You should be ashamed of yourselves.”


.- 1 want to say something about what the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) said a few minutes ago. He gave the House to understand that when he came into Kings Hall last night to hear the tape he was not able to find out what was said. It is quite true that he was there for only a few seconds and it is quite true that he was not in a position to hear what was on the tape, but he gave the House to understand that he could not find out from anyone what had come over on the tape. I want to say this: The honorable member for Reid asked mc: “ What did he say? “. [ said, in reply to the honorable member for Reid: “ I heard your friend’s voice say, ‘ There is nothing particularly sinful about being a guerrilla’.” The honorable member for Reid then turned away from me, saying: “ If he said that, it is bulldust “. He did not use the word “ bulldust “. I will not repeat the word that he did use, but honorable members will be in little doubt as to what was said. I merely say this to put the record straight, so as to indicate to the House that the honorable member for Reid was being a little careless with the truth.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 11.56 p.m.

page 654


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -

Employment. (Question No. 1564.)

Mr Bury:
Minister for Labour and National Service · WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -

The numbers of applicants registered for employment in each State and at the District Offices of the Commonwealth Employment Service at 25th February 1966, were -

The foregoing statistics relate to persons who, when registering, claimed that they were not employed and who were recorded as unplaced at 25th February. The figures include persons who, since registering, may have obtained employment without notifying the Commonwealth Employment Service; persons who had been referred to employers with a view to engagement but whose placement was not confirmed at the date mentioned; and persons receiving unemployment benefit

Shipping: Cargoes to Vietnam. (Question No. 1589.)

Mr Killen:

n asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -

  1. Can he say what ships flying the British flag have discharged cargo in the port of Haiphong, Vietnam, in the two years ended February 1966?
  2. What has been the (a) nature and (b) quantity of the cargo discharged?
  3. From what sources does the information come to provide answers to these questions?
Mr Harold Holt:

– The Acting Minister for External Affairs has provided me with the following answers to the honorable member’s questions -

  1. There are no precise statistics on the extent ships under British registration are engaged in trading with North Vietnam, but it appears that from 20 to 30 such vessels visit North Vietnam from time to time, most of them in ballast, to pick up coal, fresh fruit and vegetables. Most of these ships are on the Hong Kong register and many are under time charter to foreign agencies which cannot be controlled. The President of the United Kingdom Chamber of Shipping, Mr. F. Bolton, announced at the beginning of this month that steps were being taken to exclude North Vietnam from such charters or not to renew them on expiry and that all current contracts were believed to expire shortly.
  2. There is no precise information on the cargo discharged, but no British ships are known to have carried strategic goods which could have helped the North Vietnam war effort.
  3. Except where otherwise indicated, this information conies from official United Kingdom sources.

Northern Territory: Salaries of Teachers in Welfare Branch. (Question No. 1484.)

Mr Nelson:

n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -

  1. When was the new organisation structure and when were the new rates of salaries of teachers employed in the Welfare Branch of the Northern Territory Administration first drawn up?
  2. What time elapsed between the finalisation of the new organisation and Executive Council approval of the structure?
  3. Is it a fact that payment under this structure has not yet been made to the teachers?
  4. If so, when will the payment be made?
  5. In view of the delay, what arrangements are in hand to make the payment retrospective?
  6. To what date will the payment be made retrospective?
  7. Were the salaries of teachers employed by the Welfare Branch of the Northern Territory Administration adjusted following the marginal increases handed down in May 1963 and July 1965?
  8. If so, how were the adjustments effected?
  9. If the marginal increases were not applied, what was the reason for withholding them?
Mr Barnes:
Minister for Territories · MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND · CP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -

  1. 12th January 1965.
  2. Executive Council approved the inclusion of the new designations and salaries in the Fourth Schedule to the Public Service Regulations on 19th February 1965.
  3. At the time of the question - yes; action to complete full payment at the new rates is proceeding.
  4. See answer to 3. above.
  5. Payment at the higher rate is effective on and from 19th February 1965.
  6. See answer to 5. above.
  7. The rates of pay of teachers employed in the Welfare Branch of the Northern Territory Administration were not adjusted following the general salary adjustments granted in May 1963 and July 1965, as on both of these occasions the rates of pay of teachers had only recently been reviewed and increased. In this respect teachers were not treated any differently to a number of other employment groups within the Public Service who had similarly received separate pay increases and were therefore also excluded from the (then) general salary adjustments.
  8. See answer to 7. above.
  9. See answer to 7. above.

Housing. (Question No. 1532.)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. What was the increase in Australia’s population for the twelve months ended on 31st December 1965?
  2. Was there a serious slump in home building during this period?
  3. Was this caused by the Reserve Bank and the Treasury restricting bank lending?
  4. Will he consider liberalising credit for housing and providing increased financial aid to the States for home building?
Mr McMahon:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -

  1. Estimates of population as at 31st December 1965 are not yet available. The estimated increase in population during the year ended 30th September 1965 was 226,201.
  2. No. Commencements of houses and Hats exceeded 110,000 in both 1964 and 1965. All previous annual totals were below 100,000.
  3. See answer to 2.
  4. The measures which have been taken to support dwelling construction at the highest practicable level were outlined in my Statement to the House on 16th March 1966.

Civil Aviation. (Question No. 1541.)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that MacRobertson-Miller Airlines Ltd. has a complete monopoly of all intrastate flights within Western Australia?
  2. Has the Ansett group a 70 per cent, controlling interest in this company?
  3. Does this company also control all flights between Darwin and Perth
  4. Is it a fact that, with the exception of the flight between Darwin and Perth, passengers flying between .ill other capital cities have the choice of travelling by either Trans-Australia Airlines or Ansett-A.N.A.?
  5. Has T.A.A. applied for a licence to operate between Darwin and Perth; if so, what is the attitude of the Department to granting this licence?
Mr Swartz:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -

  1. If the question refers to scheduled airline flights the answer is yes.
  2. I believe so.
  3. MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. is the only airline operating scheduled services between Darwin and Perth.
  4. Yes.
  5. Yes - the application was refused.

Aerodromes in Western Australia. (Question No. 1550.)

Mr Collard:

d asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -

  1. How many local governing authorities in Western Australia are parties to the local ownership plan in relation to aerodromes?
  2. Are those authorities, in some cases, required to finance or partly finance (without refund) certain work on the aerodrome?
  3. If so, does this apply where work has to be carried oUt to meet safety requirements?
  4. What is the position in relation to the aerodrome if the local authority is not in a position to finance the work?
  5. Can the authorities withdraw from the local ownership plan; if so, what length of notice is required?
Mr Swartz:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -

  1. There are twenty aerodromes in Western Australia participating in the aerodrome local ownership plan. All of these are eligible for 50 per cent, maintenance and 11 of them being owned by local authorities are also eligible for 50 per cent, of their development costs.
  2. Local authorities under the aerodrome local ownership plan are required to finance 50 per cent, of the development work which they themselves propose, if these works are mutually agreeable to the local authority and the Commonwealth. In this case the Commonwealth makes a grant to cover the remaining 50 per cent. The Commonwealth and the local authority share the maintenance on a 50/50 basis, lt is usual in the case of both maintenance and development works for the council to carry out the works and make progress claims on the Commonwealth for payment.
  3. Safety requirements would be associated wilh maintenance of an existing facility; it would not be associated with development since aircraft would not be permitted to operate at an aerodrome which did not already have the level of facilities required for its safe operation. The local authority and the Commonwealth would share this maintenance cost on a 50/50 basis. The provision and maintenance of airways facilities required for the safe operation of aircraft such as navigational aids, air traffic control and communications facilities and aerodrome lighting are carried out by the Commonwealth and financed fully by the Commonwealth.
  4. The local ownership plan provides for the 50/50 sharing of both maintenance and development costs by the Commonwealth and the local authority. There are no cases of which my department is aware where a local authority has been unable financially to meet the cost of works necessary to maintain an aerodrome in a safe and usable condition. There have been a few cases where an aerodrome has been temporarily closed to aircraft due to a temporary lack of maintenance effort on the part of the local authority or has been due to local factors such as poor natural surface materials or prolonged drought.
  5. Yes. It is for the local authority itself to say whether its aerodrome and the benefit which it derives from it are such as to justify the continuation of operations of the aerodrome, with the help of the 50 per cent, contribution from the Commonwealth towards the cost of the operation. If the local authority does not consider these benefits to be worth the cost to them, the aerodrome could be closed. We have not had any examples of this. The length of notice required would vary from place to place and would be directly concerned with schedules and frequency of airline operation or other civil aviation operations which take place at the aerodrome.

Taxation. (Question No. 1591.)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that an anomaly exists in the income tax law concerning entitlement for an allowance in respect of earnings in the area north of the 26th parallel?
  2. Does this allowance apply only to workers who have completed six months of a financial year in that zone?
  3. Does this mean that a worker who has worked five and a half months in each of the two consecutive financial years (eleven months continuously) would be ineligible for the allowance?
  4. If so, will he consider removing this anomaly?
Mr McMahon:

– The answers to .ne honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1 and 2. Under the existing provisions of the income tax law, a zone allowance is available to a taxpayer who resides in a prescribed area for not less than one-half of an income year.

  1. Notwithstanding the fact that a taxpayer may have resided continuously in a prescribed area for a period of eleven months, if that period should fall evenly between two income years, there would be no entitlement, as the law now stands, to zone allowance for either of the income years in question.
  2. A good deal of study has been given lo this matter, but none of the alternative courses so far examined has proved to be altogether satisfactory. The matter is being kept under review.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 March 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.