House of Representatives
19 April 1966

25th Parliament · 1st Session

The Clerk. - I desire to inform the House of the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker on a visit connected with the recent meeting in Canberra of the Council of the InterParliamentary Union. He will be returning to Canberra later in the day. In accordance with Standing Order No. 14, the Chairman of Committees will take the chair as Acting Speaker.

Mr. ACTING SPEAKER (Mr. Lucock) thereupon took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

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– I have received from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral a commission authorising me during any absence of Mr. Speaker to administer to members of the House the oath or the affirmation of allegiance. I now lay the commission on the table.

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Return to Writ - New Member Sworn


– I have received a return to the writ issued by Mr. Speaker on 3rd March lor the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Kooyong in the State of Victoria to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Sir Robert Menzies. By the endorsement on the writ, it is certified that Andrew Sharp Peacock has been elected.

Mr. Andrew Sharp Peacock was introduced and made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the division of Kooyong.

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Mr. LUCHETTI 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.

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Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

Mr. Acting Speaker, I would like to inform the House of some ministerial arrangements that are in contemplation. Towards the end of this week, the Minister for Supply (Senator Henty), the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) and I shall leave lor short visits overseas on government business. I shall be absent from this House for three sitting days carrying out my stated intention of visiting Australian forces serving in areas of South East Asia. I shall leave for Singapore on Thursday and shall be absent from Australia for about 10 days. In my absence, my colleague, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), will be Acting Prime Minister.

Honorable members will recall my previous statements that the primary purpose of my going to South East Asia at this time is to visit Australian servicemen in the field. I shall, of course, make the most of the opportunity provided to meet with the leaders of Governments in the respective countries. As indicated earlier, I shall be visiting Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia - including Sarawak - and Vietnam. I shall be accompanied by the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir John Wilton, who, as honorable members well know, is the Chairman-designate of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. The party will also include senior representatives of my own Department, the Department of External Affairs and the Department of Defence. It is my intention to spend Anzac Day with Australian servicemen in operational areas. I look forward to meeting and talking with the Australian servicemen who have been serving in difficult areas with courage and distinction, and I will report to the House on my visit upon my return.

The Minister for Supply is to lead the Australian delegation at the European Launcher Development Organisation conference in Paris, which takes place from 26th April to 29th April. The Minister will remain in Paris for two days after the conference for talks relating primarily to the Mirage aircraft and then will visit London to meet his counterpart in the new British Cabinet. He plans to return on 7th May. During Senator Henry’s absence, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) will act as Minister for Supply, anc Senator Gorton will lead the Government in the Senate. Arrangements for representation in the Senate of Ministers in this House will be as follows: Senator Gorton will represent in all matters concerning my portfolio and the Treasurer’s; Senator Anderson will represent the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Acting Minister for Supply; Senator McKellar will represent the Minister for National Development.

The Attorney-General will represent Australia at the London Conference of Commonwealth Law Ministers which commences on 26th April. During his absence, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) will act as Attorney-General

Mr Calwell:

– May I at this stage ask the Prime Minister a question about his visit to South East Asia? Will he give some regard to the rights of private members of the Parliament so that they too may visit this area during the recess and so that they too can inform themselves of the conditions obtaining in the area in order to be better informed when matters relating to Vietnam are debated after the House resumes for the Budget session? Will he consider the possibility of a joint delegation of members of both Houses visiting Vietnam even before we go into recess? I would prefer that this bc done.


– lt has been the Government’s practice over the last few years to arrange for two delegations of members of the Parliament to go to countries of special interest to Australia. The definition would, of course, include the areas mentioned by the honorable gentleman and they would have the highest priority. It is the intention of the Government to continue this arrangement in the course of the recess and my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), has already given some thought to the areas that the two delegations might visit. One of the proposed visits would be to Vietnam and to Malaysia, Singapore and, I think, part of Borneo. That is our general intention, but I shall be glad to discuss the details with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). T think T will be in a better position to inform the House of the feasibility of these arrangements after my return.

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– I ask the Prime Minister: Does he recollect receiving a letter dated 14th April 1966 from the editor of the Brisbane Sunday “ Truth “ advising him of a State-wide referendum conducted by that newspaper on the controversial question “ Are you in favour of sending national service conscripts to fight in Vietnam? “. Has the Prime Minister also received from the editor more than 10,383 signed papers by those who voted in that referendum? Did the results show that 9,241 were against conscription and 1,142 in favour of it? Does the Prime Minister regard such a vote as inconclusive? If so, will he hold a referendum or arrange for an early election so that the voice of the people shall be heard and shall be made to prevail on the question of sending voteless 20 year old conscripts to fight and perhaps die in Vietnam?


– The letter to which the honorable gentleman refers appeared on my desk for the first time just before I came into the House. I see that it was received in my office earlier so I am not attaching any criticism to anybody connected with the newspaper; I merely say that I saw it for the first time just before coming into the House. There is attached to this letter another one which says -

For your information and use as you see fit. lt is known in Brisbane that several left wing organisations organised a No vote by buying copies of the “ Truth “ in great quantities and by getting their members and supporters to exercise multiple votes. In this regard a feature of the Vietnam Action Rally in Centenary Park, Brisbane, on the afternoon of Sunday 27th March was the presence of a V.A.C. supporter with a barrowload of “ Truth “ newspapers which were handed out to No voters to ensure that such votes were recorded.

Mr Webb:

– Who wrote the second letter?


– That is what I am interested to find out.

Mr Calwell:

– It was not the editor.


– I am not suggesting that it was. All I am saying-


– Order! The Leader of the Opposition asked the Prime Minister a question. In accordance with the usual practice courtesy was extended to the Leader of the Opposition to enable him to put his question to the Prime Minister before other honorable members directed questions. The Prime Minister is now replying to the question and I suggest that the House listen to that reply.


– I merely read those remarks to the House in support of my reply to the Leader of the Opposition that I am not prepared to accept as representing an authentic reaction of the Australian people the result of any poll conducted in such a way that no-one has any control over the manner in which votes are obtained or recorded. We, as a government, rely upon the good sense and the spirit of responsibility of the Australian people and their recognition of the strength of the cause in which Australia is involved in Vietnam. As we have said before, the issue has seemed of sufficient importance to command the support not only of this Australian Government but also of three Presidents of the United States of America and their Administrations.

Mr Calwell:

– No, they never did.


– Well, the honorable gentleman can deny the facts if he wishes. The fact is that the Eisenhower Administration, the Kennedy Administration and the Johnson Administration have all supported by word and by deed resistance to Communist aggression in South Vietnam. The honorable gentleman wishes to convert every possible occasion in this House into a debate on the issue. For our part, we will deal with it according to the proportion of time for which it should occupy the attention of the House. It is a matter of great importance and it is so regarded and treated by the Government. There are papers before the House which enable the processes of debate to proceed. I suggest to the honorable gentleman that that is the proper way in which to deal with it.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– I raise a point of order. I ask that, in accordance with Standing Order No. 321, the last letter quoted by the Prime Minister be tabled.


– In accordance with the Standing Orders, the Prime Minister and other Ministers may answer questions as they desire.

Mr Calwell:

– No. You are wrong.


– Order! It is for the Prime Minister to say whether he desires to table the letter.

Mr Harold Holt:

– I am quite willing to show the document to the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Calwell:

– Table it.

Mr Harold Holt:

– It contains the names of several people.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– Table it. Why not?

Mr Harold Holt:

– I made it quite clear that this letter reached me at the same time as I received the other one.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– The Prime Minister tried to make it clear that it came from the editor of “ Truth “.

Mr Harold Holt:

– I did not at any stage seek to draw any such conclusion. Indeed, the dates are different. The letter from the editor of the Sunday “ Truth “ is dated 14th April and the other one is dated 12th April.

Mr Calwell:

– I rise to order. Under the Standing Orders, the Prime Minister is protected in refusing to table a document only if he claims that it is of a confidential nature. I ask you, Mr. Acting Speaker, to ask the Prime Minister whether he claims it to be confidential. If he does not claim that it is confidential, then under the Standing Orders he is bound to table it.


– Order! The Prime Minister gave certain reasons why he did not intend to table the letter.

Mr L R Johnson:

– Do not protect him.


– Order! The honorable member for Hughes will cease interjecting. The Prime Minister is quite within his rights in taking the action that he intends to take. It is within his province to do so under the Standing Order that has been cited by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. The Standing Order reads -

A document relating to public affairs quoted from by a Minister, unless stated to be of a confidential nature or such as should more properly be obtained by address, shall, if required by any Member, be laid on the Table.

I rule that the comments of the Prime Minister fall within the scope of the Standing Order. It is within the province of the Prime Minister to say whether he will table the document.

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Leader of the Opposition · Melbourne

– I move -

That the ruling be dissented from.

Mr Whitlam:

– The honorable gentleman requires the document to be tabled?


– I do. You have ruled, Sir, in a way which I and my colleagues believe to be quite at variance with the Standing Orders. We say, too, that you have ruled that way in order to protect the Prime Minister. You have no right to protect the right honorable gentleman. The writer of the letter said that the Prime Minister could use it as he saw fit. When the Prime Minister quotes a letter, particularly when the writer says that the Prime Minister may use it in any way he sees fit, every member of this House has the right to ask him to table it. It was your bounden duty, Mr. Acting Speaker, to ask the Prime Minister: “ Do you plead that this document is confidential?” Not having done that, you rightly stand open to the charge - it can successfully be laid against you - that, you were abusing your office in protecting the Prime Minister. You had no right to do that sort of thing. Every member of this House has the same rights. No Minister has more rights than any other person in the House. So, although we have had to fight on this issue before, although Ministers in other governments have pleaded confidence when I do not think they had any right to do so, and thereby disgracefully abused their authority, today the Prime Minister has not even claimed that this letter is confidential. He did quote the letter in such a way as to suggest and insinuate that it came to him from the editor of “ Truth “ in Brisbane, but debate on the matter revealed that the letter was not written by the editor; it was written by somebody else.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– lt was probably written by the Postmaster-General.


– It was possibly written by the Postmaster-General or somebody else belonging to the Liberal Party in Queensland - written by a spy, stooge or some other person who attended the meeting and who bought up and gave out copies of “Truth” in order to be able to say that the result of the poll was not a genuine one. The poll in Queensland was a Statewide poll. It was not a poll taken only at a rally; it was taken throughout the whole of Queensland. It was taken over a fortnight, according to the letter. It is completely wrong of the Prime Minister to suggest that the editor of the “ Truth “ gave him a way out. I would concede that possibly the Prime Minister was a little confused, or bemused, by the prospect of going to Vietnam and meeting the people in that area, but there was no reason or justification for his not saying to the House, immediately his attempted delusion or subterfuge was discovered: “ Well, it was not the editor of ‘ Truth ‘ who wrote this letter to me; it was so and so.” Then we would have the right to know who so and so is. He is probably a fictitious personality anyhow. Sir, I think your ruling is completely wrong and I hope that the House will uphold the motion of dissent.

Mr Harold Holt:

Mr. Acting Speaker-


– Order! Before I call the Prime Minister I remind the House that the motion must be handed in and seconded.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– I second it.

Mr Harold Holt:

- Mr. Acting Speaker-

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– Do I not get the right to speak?

Mr Harold Holt:

– The honorable member for Hindmarsh may not find it necessary to speak after hearing what I. have to say.

Mr Calwell:

– The Prime Minister might gag the honorable member. The honorable member should insist on his rights.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– I think I will.


– I call the honorable member for Hindmarsh.


Sir, I think you have made an error here. I do not think you did so maliciously. I think you did it more by accident than design, but having accidentally slipped into error you felt that you should stand by your ruling rather than admit that you were wrong. This is a very dangerous thing, because the rights and privileges of honorable members and the upholding of the Standing Orders of the Parliament are very important. The Standing Orders belong not only to you, Sir, but to each and every one of us here. They are as much mine as they are yours. It is your duty to uphold the Standing Orders and to uphold my rights as defined in the Standing Orders. Standing Order No. 321 reads -

A document relating to public affairs quoted from by a Minister, unless stated to be of a confidential nature or such as should more properly be obtained by address, shall, if required by any Member, be laid on the Table.

Let us recall what happened in this case and compare it with what the Standing Orders say I have a right to demand. It will be seen that the demand I made was properly made in accordance with my rights as an elected member of this Parliament and in accordance with the rights of the people who sent me here. A document relating to public affairs was read by the Prime Minister, who at first pretended that it was a letter from the editor of Brisbane “ Truth “. The Prime Minister did not say: “ This is a letter from the editor of Brisbane Truth ‘ “ but he read it in such a way as to give the clear impression that it was a letter from the editor of the Brisbane “ Truth “. It was only the sharpness of mind of members of the Opposition that led to the Prime Minister being tripped on this point.


– Order! I suggest that the honorable member make his remarks relevant to the motion. The subject matter of the honorable member’s remarks has no relevance to the motion before the Chair.


– Do you want me to direct my remarks to your action rather than to the Prime Minister’s action?


– Yes.


– I will do that. When you saw the Prime Minister quote from a document, and when you heard the Prime Minister say, in effect: “This is not a confidential document because the writer of it told me that I might use it in any way I considered fit,” you must have seen that the Prime Minister himself admitted that this document was not confidential. He admitted that it was not confidential by the fact that he said that the writer of the letter gave him authority to use it in whatever manner he thought fit. The very fact that he did use it and publicly stated its contents, in itself, proves that it was not a confidential document or, if it were, that the Prime Minister was breaking the confidence of the person who wrote to him. When you are faced with a Minister reading from a document and a member gets up and, in accordance with Standing Order No. 321, says: “ I want that document tabled because he only read portion of it and he will not say who wrote it,” I believe you have a perfect right to uphold that member’s demand that the document be tabled so that he can have a look at it, see who wrote it and see whether it is possible to find out what evil genius tried to pretend that a genuine poll of the people of Queensland was a thing cooked up by a left wing organisation.

The Prime Minister could have escaped tabling the document if he had got up and said: “ I claim that this is a confidential document and, therefore, in accordance with my right as Prime Minister, refuse to table it under Standing Order No. 321 “. But he is not claiming it is a confidential document. Indeed, he could not. I suggest, therefore, that you had no alternative but to uphold my demand. Instead of that, you upheld the Prime Minister’s right to disregard my demand.

Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

Mr. Acting Speaker, to the extent that honorable gentlemen opposite are trying to confuse the facts on this matter, let me state them quite simply. In the first place, the Leader of the Opposition asked a question as to whether I had received a letter from the editor of the Sunday “ Truth “ in Brisbane. He quoted some figures which indicated an overwhelming support for a point of view expressed in relation to conscription. I am just putting the substance of what he put to me, but he asked me whether I accepted this as a valid expression of the viewpoint of the people of Queensland. I told him that I had not received the letter personally until just before I came into the House, when I had a glance through it. 1 also said that 1 had another letter. 1 did not at any point of time attempt to convey the impression that it was from the editor of the Sunday “Truth”. One only has to refer to the text that I quoted to the House to see how absurd such a proposition would be. 1 have since made it clear that the date on one letter is different from the date on the other. The material set out in the letter was of such an order that I felt that it had the marks of authenticity upon it. I thought it had a valid bearing upon what had been put to me by the honorable gentleman. My only point at the time in quoting from it was to indicate to him that there were reasons why 1 was not prepared to accept at face value the voting strength recorded in this particular poll. This document reached me with an intimation in it that it was for my information and use as 1 saw fit. To me it is only a confidential document in the sense that it includes the names of a number of people. I do not think that, in fairness to them, this House should ask me to quote now the names of people who are described as-

  1. . the following well known Communist Party and Eureka Youth League members whose names were given on further “ Yes “ votes.

I told the Leader of the Opposition that he could have the whole document so far as I was concerned. There may be an opportunity to put this matter to a practical test, because included in the body of the letter is this statement - lt is also known that another person not connected in any way wilh left wing bodies decided to lest the authenticity and the conduct of the poll. He obtained 200 copies of “ Truth “ and submitted “ Yes “ votes in the following manner: He extracted and used the names, without their consent, of electors whose names appear at the top of pages 1 to 30 of the 1964 Brisbane Federal electoral roll, pages 31 to 60 of the Bowman roll, pages 61 to 90 of the Petrie roll, pages 91 to 120 of the Ryan roll, pages 121 to 150 of the Griffith roll, pages 151 to 170 of the Moreton roll and pages 71 to 90 of the Lilley roll.

Mr Calwell:

– You are not saying that Security gave this to you.


– I am not saying that Security gave it to me. What I am saying is that here is a document which bears a Brisbane address and is dated 12th April 1966. The final comment is -

For obvious reasons I regret that I am unable to append my own signature.


– Order! Honorable members will come to order.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– An anonymous letter. From how high can you fall?


– Go on; have your fun.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– He presents an anonymous letter and-


– Order! The honorable member for Eden-Monaro will remain silent.

Mr Calwell:

– All right. I think the Prime Minister could table it now.


– No; I am not going to disclose names. The honorable gentleman is having a great deal of fun, but he clearly recognises, as do his supporters, how foolish it is to put to the head of the Australian Government the proposition that the vote recorded in this Brisbane newspaper is a faithful expression of the views of the Australian people when, in the last week, to the great chagrin of the Opposition, bishops of the Anglican Church, the leading figure of the Roman Catholic Church and seven former moderators of the Presbyterian Church have all supported the view of the Government in relation to resistance to Communist aggression in Vietnam. I prefer to regard those as faithful expressions.

Mr Beaton:

– I rise to a point of order. I understand that we are discussing a motion of dissent. I fail to comprehend how the matter which the Prime Minister is discussing has anything to do with that motion of dissent.


– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.


– What I am saying is entirely relevant to the issue raised by the Leader of the Opposition. I believe that in the circumstances, Sir, you have ruled accurately and that your ruling should be supported. Mv sole purpose in replying to a question to which the Leader of the Opposition had attached so much apparent significance was to demonstrate that there could be reasons for questioning both the validity and the bona fides of votes alleged to have been cast in this particular operation.

Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) put -

That the question be now put.

The House divided. (Mr. Acting Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)

AYES: 56

NOES: 43

Majority .. ..13



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

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– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Works. I draw the Minister’s attention to the recent statement by the Ministerfor Works in another place in respect of the financial arrangements for restoration work on the foreshore of Botany Bay. Were these arrangements satisfactory to the Rockdale Municipal Council and the New South Wales Government? Are there any points of contention at this stage?

Minister for Shipping and Transport · FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– I understand that discussions took place between the Commonwealth Department of Works and the Rockdale Municipal Council which were concluded satisfactorily, so far as is known, to all concerned, on or about 6th April. As recently as yesterday my colleague, the Minister for Works, received a letter from the Rockdale Municipal Council expressing appreciation of the action taken by the Commonwealth Government.

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– Is the Prime Minister aware that Mr. Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, on behalf of his Government, has expressed to the United States Government opposition to escalation of the war in Vietnam bythe mining of Haiphong harbour or the bombing of Hanoi or Haiphong? Has the Australian Government had any discussions with the United States Government in this regard? If discussions have taken place, what were the views expressed by the Australian Government? If discussions have not been held, would the right honorable gentleman support Great Britain’s opposition to rhe escalation of the Vietnam war by the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong or the mining of Haiphong harbour?


– The Commonwealth Government is in frequent consultation with our ally, the United States of America, concerning military operations in the South Vietnam area. The United Kingdom is not a participant in military activities there; we are. It is not, therefore, on this occasion and in those circumstances appropriate for the Australian Government to indicate the substance of communications

On matters of this character.


– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Army. In the context of certain statements about service by Austraiian conscripts in South Vietnam and Malaysia made recently by the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, can the Minister give to the House any factual information regarding the proportion of conscripts serving in the American forces in Vietnam, Korea and

Other parts of the world during the period of peace that has prevailed since the end of World War II?

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– It is a standing part of the policy of the United States of America to use national servicemen where it is believed that the general interest of the Western World - and of maintaining, if possible, an uneasy peace in the world - can be best advantaged by doing so. In Korea 1,800,000 of the 2,500,000 United States servicemen who served in that area were, in fact, United States draftees. In Vietnam at the present time more than 30 per cent, of all the United States forces are United States national servicemen. It is not possible to indicate to what extent the figure would exceed 30 per cent., for the simple reason that many United States national servicemen move over to a longer engagement after some period in the services and then the fact that they were originally drafted to the American services is lost in the records. But the figure would be substantially more than one third.

The honorable member for Bradfield referred to remarks by the Leader of the Opposition, in which he said that ail Australian national servicemen would be withdrawn from Vietnam immediately if a Labour government were returned to office. I think it only needs saying to show that this would involve a betrayal of the volunteers who are serving in the area for the defence of Australia and would leave them without the support that is required from Australia - from this Government and from this people, lt would also involve a complete repudiation of the joint planning with the United States of America and the United Kingdom in the South East’ Asia and Malaysia region. This would gravely weaken whatever defensive arrangements we may have with them and would leave Australia without the forces necessary for our own security.

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– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Is it his intention, during his forthcoming visit to Vietnam, to inform the troops, including conscript national service trainees, that whilst they are expected to fight and die for their country the Government’s slogan for those at home is: “ Business as usual “? Will he also inform them that Australia is not at war and that the Government does not intend to conscript wealth and control prices and profits, but intends to confine the sacrifices and suffering to conscripts unfortunate enought to have their names drawn out of a barrel or to those who have volunteered for Army service? If not, why nol?


– What the honorable gentleman opposite consistently refuses to acknowledge is that the system of national service relates to Australia’s Regular Army as a whole and, not to any particular theatre of operations or to any particular activities going on there. The national service scheme is designed to form part of the Regular Army establishment of this country, so that Australian troops can be made available where required, as determined by the Government upon ‘he advice, primarily, of its Service advisers. As to the conscription of wealth and the regimentation of the community in a situation of total war, as we have known it in the past, that, of course, is not the situation today. We are in South Vietnam in a very limited capacity, for purposes which have been clearly staged. lt would be the height of absurdity to convert the whole of Australia - to which so many of these young men will return after a twelve months tour of duty in South Vietnam, expecting to resume their normal occupations or community life - into an armed camp in order, apparently, to satisfy some emotional hysteria on the part of honorable gentlemen opposite. This Government will deal with the problems of the country in a responsible and practical way. 7t will be guided by good sense, not by the hysterical emotion which seems to have taken control of honorable gentlemen opposite.

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– I direct my question to the Treasurer. Has he received a request from the Government of Victoria for financial assistance in meeting any capital cost that may be incurred by that State in the development of the offshore gas finds in the vicinity of Gippsland? Will he assure the House of the Commonwealth’s cooperation in this matter?


– I have not sighted a letter from the Victorian Government relating to the offshore finds of gas. lt may be at present in the pipeline or have been placed on my table since I came into the House. I will look for it when I return to my office and if I can then convey any sensible information to the honorable gentleman 1 will do so.

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– Will the Prime Minister indicate where he and the Government stand on any project for the bombing of Hanoi?


– Order! That is a question of policy.

Question not answered.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration, lt is alleged that the Minister has refused an application by a Mr. Ram Lal. at present in Hobart, for permission to remain in Australia. If this is true, will the Minister give the reasons for his decision?

Minister for Immigration · CORIO, VICTORIA · LP

– It is a fact that I have refused permission for Mr. Ram Lal to remain in Australia. He came here in February 1962 on leave from the Department of Education in Fiji to sit for an examination. He sat for the examination this year and graduated as Bachelor of Arts. Having done that, he applied to remain in Australia, claiming that the climate in Fiji was not as satisfactory for a particular eye ailment that he has as is the climate in Tasmania. Naturally, every consideration was given to his application. Consultation with the Commonwealth medical authorities revealed that there would be no detriment to his sight if he returned to Fiji.

As I have said, he came to Australia on leave as a student. It was expected that he would pass his examinations in two years. In fact, this took four years. The Fijian Department of Education needs his services in his own country and it is only fair and equitable that people who come from other countries to Australia for an education which will be of benefit to their countries should return to their own countries when they have received that education. That factor was emphasised in recent statements on our immigration policy. Having taken into account all these circumstances and having given every sympathetic consideration to his claim - 1 emphasise that - it was decided that he should return to Fiji when his visa expires at the end of May.

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– In directing my question to the Prime Minister I remind him that both he and his predecessor on a number of occasions have stated as an important principle associated with our military commitment in Vietnam that we are there because we are discharging obligations under our treaties, and specifically under the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty. They have developed this statement by saying that this Government is a government which makes a virtue of discharging its obligations under international treaties. In view of the fact that Australia is a signatory to the United Nations Charter, I ask the Prime Minister whether Article 103 of the Charter provides for the supremacy of that Charter over other treaties and whether this is in fact acknowledged in the preamble of Article 1 of the S.E.A.T.O. pact. T ask the Prime Minister also whether Article 53, in Chapter VW of the United Nations Charter, provides that no enforcement action will be taken under the conditions and circumstances in which we are taking it in Vietnam, except with the authorisation of the Security Council. Has he made any endeavour to discharge Australia’s obligations under the United Nations Charter as acknowledged under S.E.A.T.O. and refer this matter, or seek its referral, to the Security Council? If not, why has he not done so? Finally, will he make a statement to the House-


– Order! I remind the honorable member that his question is far too long.


– Finally, will the Prime Minister make a statement to the House to explain this contradiction which completely destroys the argument of virtue which he has been making in relation to treaty obligations?


– It would be quite inappropriate for me to attempt to engage in detailed discussion or debate with the honorable gentleman on the matter that he has raised. His argument is that there is no provision in the United Nations arrangements for regional pacts. Of course, that is not so. They are clearly contemplated.

Mr Hayden:

– I did not say that at all.


– Well, we have said that the S.E.A.T.O. arrangement provides a basis for our action in South Vietnam, but we have made it clear also that we and the United States of America have the goal of peace, and of peace through negotiations if those with whom we are contesting the issues now are prepared to join in peaceful discussions. The object of the United Nations is to secure peaceful discussions of issues in dispute. For our part, we hold ourselves receptive to any genuine offer of negotiations. The United States has made it abundantly clear that it is seeking every possible means in order to bring about such a negotiation.

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– I refer to the Prime Minister’s recent statement of agreement between the Commonwealth and the Western Australian Governments regarding additional funds for the development of the town site of Exmouth. I ask whether he is in a position to inform the House of the formula approved for these additional funds and whether the special amenities about which I wrote to him have been included in the construction programme to assist both the local residents and the Western Australian Government.


– I am sure the honorable gentleman welcomed the announcement that satisfactory arrangements had been concluded between the two Governments. I shall give him a detailed statement covering the points which he has raised in his question.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. In view of the heavy increase in the cost of living due to several factors, including the changeover to decimal currency, can the Minister advise the House and the community in general whether it is the intention of the Government, as rumoured, to make a general increase of $2 per week in pensions in the forthcoming Budget? Can the Minister confirm this rumour?

Minister for Social Services · NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– As the honorable member is aware, the contentions that he has put forward are, I am afraid, something of pure conjecture. As my colleague the Treasurer has previously explained in this House, it is very difficult to see any causal relationship between the introduction of decimal currency and the actual variation in prices that might have occurred in some cases. It is true that in some instances prices have varied but, in most instances, and in every instance brought to my knowledge, this can be related, not to the introduction of decimal currency, but to factors within the control of the organisation selling the particular goods and quite outside the control of the Government. Any variation of the social services legislation will be a matter that will come under consideration shortly in the determination of the Budget for the next year.

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– I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry and refer to recent public statements by margarine manufacturers who advocate an increase in the margarine quotas fixed by State Governments. I ask: Has the attention of the Commonwealth Government been drawn to the vast production in excess of these quotas? Will the Commonwealth, through the Australian Agricultural Council, press for the limiting of margarine manufacture to the existing legal quotas? Further, will the Commonwealth press for stronger action to control margarine, which is already making inroads into butter consumption in Australia and causing further deterioration of the economy of the depressed dairy industry?

Minister for Primary Industry · FISHER, QUEENSLAND · CP

– Dealing w h ;he portion of the honorable member’s question relating to the Australian Agricultural Council and the action it should take. I want to make it quite clear that there is an understanding between the State Ministers and the Commonwealth that there will be no alteration of the quotas that were determined some years ago without the Minister representing a State that might be interested in making an alteration advising all other Ministers. No State is suggesting any alteration, so the quotas will remain. The honorable member asked whether the Commonwealth Government was aware of over production of margarine, lt is general public knowledge that there has been over production. Evidence of this was given in a recent court case, initialed by the previous New South Wales Government and continued by the present Government, which resulted in a conviction being recorded against the company concerned.

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Assent to the following Bills reported -

Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Bill 1966.

Sulphate of Ammonia Bounty Bill 1966.

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Ministerial Statement

Debate resumed from 31st March (vide page 875), on motion by Mr. Hasluck -

That the House take note of the following paper -

Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 10th March 1966.


.- In all of the debates that have taken place in this House concerning the war in South Vietnam - this was evident also during question time today - Government speakers have invariably claimed that the Government has sent our regular troops and is now sending conscripted 20 year old youths to fight in South Vietnam to defeat Communist aggression against that country. The Government claims its action is a crusade to help the United States of America rid South Vietnam of Communists and Communism - nothing else. However, what Government supporters do not tell us is that this sort of crusade has been going on for 25 years. If the words of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) can be taken literally - he says that this war could go on for another 10 years - 10 year old bays of today can expect to celebrate their 21st birthdays fighting in the jungles and swamps of South Vietnam. But strangely enough, those who support this so-called crusade to exterminate Communists and Communism never, by raising their voices or in any other way, make an effort to exterminate the causes of Communism. They make no mention of the fact that the world in which we live today, despite all its marvellous achievements, is still a world in which life’s experience for most people is. one of prolonged suffering. They make no mention of the fact that the size and strength of America’s military power has not been able to win the most important battle of all, that is, the battle to win the hearts and the minds of the peasant people of South Vietnam. Recent events have proved beyond doubt the abject failure in this regard. No mention either is made of the fact that more than one third of the world’s population suffers chronic hunger and many of these unfortunate people are in South Vietnam.

The fact that every day more than 10,000 people throughout the world die “of starvation means nothing to the crusaders against Communism. No doubt quite a few South Vietnamese peasants are among those 1.0,000. Speakers on the Government side overlook entirely the fact that in the next ten years 10,000,000 children will die of starvation in India alone, lt means nothing to Government supporters that their family dogs get more to eat than the average Indian worker gets. I ask: Are not these conditions the cause of Communism, root, branch and tree? What are these great crusaders against Communism and the Communists doing about dispelling the causes of Communism? No doubt their answer would be: “ We are selling wheat and wool to Communist China and trading with North Vietnam “.

Can hunger, poverty, disease and human misery be overcome by bombs, torture and destruction? It has been proved beyond a shadow of doubt, in South Vietnam perhaps more than in any other country, that war can only destroy; it cannot create. Lord Bertrand Russell said that by the middle of 1963 160,000 people had been killed in this war and that 60 per cent, of them were peasants who were not involved in military actions. He also said that 700,000 had been tortured and maimed, 31,000 had been raped, 3,000 had been disembowelled and gutted while still living, 4,000 had been burned alive, 1,000 temples had been destroyed and 46 villages had been attacked by chemical warfare. I wonder what the figures are in April 1966.

Whilst nearly 1 million people have been rendered homeless in South Vietnam due to the war, whilst thousands have died and thousands more will die in the bottomless pit of death and misery, whilst poverty, hunger and disease stalk the world, and whilst 4 million people in India face death by starvation due to famine, no less than 1 million dollars a day is being spent on a civil war in South Vietnam to support and uphold the corrupt rulers of that unfortunate country. Events in South Vietnam, Korea, China and other countries that have thrown off the shackles of colonial oppression will go down in history, not as achievements by the Western world for the betterment of mankind, but as achievements of corruption never before equalled in the history of the world. The least one can say about the war in Korea is that it was a war we did not lose and we did not win; but at least we had the sense to quit. I am of the opinion that that will be the final outcome of the war in South Vietnam.

The facts that I have just related present a challenge to our Western way of life. Vietnam is just another facet of the challenge which Communism presents to the Western democracies. The war in South Vietnam will not give to the people of that stricken country a solution to their problems. It will not raise their living standards or keep starvation, poverty, misery and disease from their doors. The “ Hong Kong Standard “ of 30th June 1 965 reveals how corrupt are the rulers of South Vietnam. It reveals that these so-called rulers place their political and personal welfare before that of their country or of their people. The newspaper, under the heading “ Missing on the Political Front - 20 Saigon generals out and not 1 killed in battle”, states -

More than 20 generals have been knocked out of military life in the political struggle in South Vietnam, but not one has been killed in five years of war against the Communist Vietcong.

This pattern of attrition among general officers explains why many of the country’s top military leaders are more pre-occupied today with internal politics than with winning the war.

Once again a military government, including the 10 top generals, is ruling South Vietnam and the perennial question is being asked: “ Who is running the war?”

Just before the military National Leadership Committee took control of the country away from the civilians recently, senior generals were so busy dealing with the political crisis that they scarcely could give attention to the biggest battle of the war at Dong Xoai. The better part of three battalions was lost in beating off a Vietcong assault on that district town 60 miles north of Saigon.

The article goes on further to say -

Of the some 60 South Vietnamese generals, about one-third are out of jobs or in diplomatic exile with the rank of ambassador.

Mr. Acting Speaker, this is the sort of patriotism that Australian troops and 20 year old conscripts are expected to fight and die for. This is the type of leadership that has caused thousands of South Vietnamese troops to desert the army and join the Vietcong. This is the sort of leadership that has brought death, destruction and misery to thousands of peasants not involved in any conflict. Is it any wonder that the people of South Vietnam have risen in revolt against these leaders, these political generals?

Exploitation and oppression of these people have earned us their distrust in the past. Our actions in South Vietnam have caused them to distrust us in the present. Our actions will cause them to distrust us more completely in the future. In fact, the net result of the bloodshed, death, misery and torture in South Vietnam has been to drive these people further and further into the hands of those from whom we pretend we are trying to save them. Yet, our participation in South Vietnam means little to the thousands of homeless, grief stricken people of that unfortunate country. The fact that impresses them more than all the others is that most of the dreadful travail and misery of this war has been inflicted upon them. They know, too, that they have to go on living in South Vietnam until they die irrespective of what the ruling regime may be - Communist or anti-Communist - or how corrupt that regime may be. For them, there is no escape from the tragedy and horror which are referred to as the price that they must pay for their freedom from Communist aggression. To these unfortunates, politics means nothing. Their greatest struggle is to exist. Their support and friendship can be won only by giving them the chance to exist.

I have here an article containing the remarks made by Mr. Callaghan, the Managing Director of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, in an address he gave. This article emphasises what I have just said. It is headed: “ Asia Hunger ‘ Danger to Australia ‘ “. The article reads -

Australia would reap the whirlwind of Asia’s poverty unless wider, intensive action was taken to combat it.

Continuing his remarks. Mr. Callaghan is reported as saying - the willingness of underdeveloped countries to help themselves was an important facet of foreign aid. “ The greatest problem of underdeveloped countries is the shortage of human capital - people wilh enough skills to use efficiently the. resources available,” he said. “ We need much greater knowledge and understanding than in the past and a realisation of a particular area’s basic needs.”

Mr. Callaghan said the peasant was still the core of most Asian societies.

Mr. Callaghan goes further. He is reported to have said - “ If, through aid, you can improve a peasant’s skill and method, then you materially contribute to his country’s development,” he said.

In the past, aid has often never reached the peasantry. “ The aid, or the effect of the aid, has been channelled into the pockets of corrupt officials or the landlord. “ This has helped spark resentment among the peasantry. “ lt has undoubtedly helped the propaganda of Communism.”

So, millions of dollars are being spent to achieve destruction, loss of life and misery. However, this sort of action does nothing to combat the whirlwind of Asia’s poverty, as Mr. Callaghan describes it. The tide of Communist aggression, as the Prime Minister said today, must be stopped. But America makes no such charge. It says nothing about Communist aggression. America says that Chinese intervention is a future danger, not a present threat. Is the future danger that America referred to revealed in a report, which appeared in the “ Australian “ of 8th April? It stated -

The Soviet has begun a huge civil defence drive to bring home to Russians the horrors of nuclear catastrophe … It was not immediately clear whether China’s emergence as a nuclear power has provided the stimulus to the new thinking on civil defence.

Can it be that this is the reason for the war in South Vietnam? Is South Vietnam to be made another Formosa or another Korea? I think that, as we are learning now, this will prove to be the case. But here is another side to the story. In 1950 the “ New York Times “ had this to say -

Indo-China is a prize worth a large gamble. In the north are exportable tin, tungsten, zinc, manganese, coal, lumber and rice; and in the south are rice, rubber, tea, pepper, cattle and hides.

Is it the fact that China is becoming a nuclear power, or can it be that these are the reasons that make America so interested in saving this country from Communism? Or can it be that Thailand and South Vietnam, in particular, are to be made buffer zones to contain China? If this is so, let me point out that the same system, by reason of its threat and provocation, made Russia the world’s greatest military power.

I ask again: Are these the reasons that keep the United States throwing thousands of men and billions of dollars into a war to keep the freedom of South Vietnam? If in 1950 it was reckoned that Indo-China was worth a large gamble, it can be truly said that South Vietnam has been a costly gamble in both lives and money up to the present date. This gamble is becoming even more costly and more dangerous to world peace, due to the use of air bases in Thailand by United States aircraft engaged in bombing raids on North Vietnam. It is true to say that about 50,000 American military personnel are already in Thailand, and 1 think it is time to ask the Prime Minister to make a statement on the reason for and purpose of the presence of Australian troops in Thailand. This is something that has been featured in the “ Reporter “. It has been featured in American newspapers, but, strangely, our Government has not told us anything about the presence of Australian troops in Thailand.

Whatever excuse the Government may give for the war in South Vietnam, the stark fact remains that China is a great world power and must be treated as such. Russia admits this. China’s admission to the United Nations is an absolute necessity for the peace of the world. We are given the impression that China knows little of the Western world. The truth is that the Western world knows little of China. It is all too easy to fix on China the blame for the presence of our troops in South Vietnam, but that excuse will not bear a great deal of scrutiny because of events in Thailand. The Western world must find a formula for living with China. This applies to Australia more than to all others. This is necessary for the future peace of the world.

I say that those - and there are many - who, in their madness and hatred, advocate nuclear war on China, really advocate universal destruction, for that is precisely what it would bring. As each year goes by, China becomes a greater power, militarily, socially, economically and industrially. Projecting a policy of nuclear war against China becomes more dangerous every day. However, whatever the argument that may be advanced, it is clear that China is neither the attacker nor the attacked. It is hard, therefore, to understand the philosophy that the war in Vietnam is a direct resistance to China. The only way in which this argument can be justified is to say that the war is intended to be an example to China of our determination to resist Communist expansion wherever it occurs and at whatever cost. It does not seem so long ago that we were saying the same thing to Soviet Russia, but Russia is a much more powerful nation today.

If the South Vietnam conflict is just a tryout before China is attacked, let those who advocate this course reflect on the fact that even if this were to occur and 300 million Chinese were killed in consequence, there would still be 400 million left. That fact highlights the absurdity of the whole affair in South Vietnam. I give credit to the Sydney “ Daily Mirror” of 10th March for an article on this matter. Most probably the Prime Minister and his supporters would get some unsigned letter concerning the author of this article. Under the heading “ Aussies in Vietnam “, it states -

It doesn’t really matter whether there are 4500 or 1500 Austraiian troops in Vietnam, except that casualties will increase with the size of our commitment.

The Government’s decision to send a “ task force “ - a term that sounds good but means nothing - to Vietnam will not have the slightest effect on the course of the war.

And it could not be more ill-timed. In the UN yesterday the Secretary-General, U Thant . . . called for a down-scaling of the war, including cessation of bombing of North Vietnam.

This is a reflection of responsible world opinion and also of an important section of opinion in the United States where American action in Vietnam is the subject of massive continuing debate.

In Canberra there is no debate. The Government ignores the complexities of Vietnam in the assumption that there is only one solution - the military one.

Mr. Holt’s case for going all the way with LBJ, disregarding the damage we are doing in our relations with South-East Asian neighbors, is that we are helping to stem the tide of Chinese Communist aggression.

At the same time Australia is trying desperately to sell more and more wheat and wool to feed and clothe the Chinese.

These two policies are in direct conflict. One makes nonsense of the other.

We don’t have a simple answer to the tragic problem of Vietnam. But we do know this - Australia would do better sending medical teams and practical aid to the people of this mutilated country rather than throwing in yet another handful of troops.

Those are the sentiments of the Australian Labour Party, Mr. Acting Speaker, and of the majority of the people of Australia. I do not believe that the Prime Minister would be prepared to call the writer of that article a Communist. Such descriptions are reserved for members of the Australian Labour Party and others who disagree with the Government’s action in sending regular troops and conscripted 20 year old boys - the cream of the manhood of our nation - to fight and die in the swamps and jungles of South Vietnam in a war that was lost before it was started. Indeed, as each day goes by it becomes more obvious that the question for Australia is not how to make or continue this conflict but how to pacify; how to reconstruct; and how to win friendship, not destroy it.


.- Mr. Acting Speaker, in this debate on foreign affairs speakers have ranged over a wide variety of subjects. Sales of Australian wheat to China have been the subject of some criticism. Let me say that on this subject

I fully support the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), who said -

We have made it clear that we hove considered this matter fully. We have come to the conclusion that, these commodities are in free supply on world markets arid could be secured by Communist China from those markets, Australia, which has its own economic problems in providing for its defence and its development, on a balance of national advantage, is able to go forward with this policy. lt would indeed be difficult to find a subject that has been discussed against a background of emotionalism and prejudice to a greater extent than sales of wheat to the People’s Republic of China by the Australian Wheat Board. An objective discussion and dispassionate analysis of this subject should be preceded by a recognition of the early history of the circumstances under which this trade began and a recognition of the problems that at the time faced an important and basic export industry. That the basic elements of those problems are still with the Australian wheat industry will readily be recognised by any person with an understanding of the ramifications of the industry and an appreciation of its vital role in the internal development of Australia and of the need to earn export income.

The first wheat sale to the People’s Republic of China was made in December 1960. The contract was for a relatively small sale of 300,000 tons for cash. This sale was quickly followed by another cash sale of 750,000 tons. The next contract, which was signed in Peking in May 1961, was the first of the many contracts on deferred payment terms that have now taken total sales to China to 1 1 .75 million tons. On 1st December 1960, the Australian Wheat Board had a carry over of old season’s wheat in excess of 60 million bushels and there was in process of being harvested a crop deliveries from which eventually exceeded 251 million bushels. This meant that marketable stocks at the beginning of the wheat year commencing on 1st December 1960 had reached the then all time record of 312 million bushels. This was the picture facing the Board when the first sale was made to China in December 1960. The background to the picture was one of disinterested and resentful customers overseas and vast stocks of carry over grain in the systems of State handling authorities being devastated by weevils to an extent fully appreciated only by those whose responsibility it was ultimately to find export markets for this grain. Import restrictions designed to protect manufacturing industries and overseas balances had done little to create goodwill and the sort of climate conducive to export wheat contracts. The tariff wall, which was designed to protect secondary industry, had always generated hostility to Austraiian primary products in export markets. The balance of payments position, owing to excessive imports, was already disturbing those whose responsibility it was to maintain overseas funds at safe levels, and Australia was rapidly approaching the situation that brought about what history has recorded as the credit squeeze of 1961.

Carry over stocks at 1st December I960 and receivals from the crop being harvested at that time created a problem that had to be considered against the background of the experience gained in 1954 when the Australian Wheat Board had a carry over of 93.5 million bushels and an incoming crop of 152.7 million bushels. The storage crisis created by this situation led to the need for the Loan (Emergency Wheat Storage) Act 1955 under which the Commonwealth Government found it necessary to guarantee to the Commonwealth Bank the repayment of a loan of $7 million for the construction of emergency storages. The next crisis in the wheat industry occurred in 1957, when Sir John Teasdale, who was then Chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, was prompted to issue a Press statement recommending the reduction of acreages to limit the annual crop to 150 million bushels. It is interesting to look back and see the views stated by Sir John on that occasion. They were reported in one newspaper in these terms -

Australia’s wheat industry faced a crisis unequalled since the depression of the 1930’s, the Chairman of the Australian Wheat Board (Sir John Teasdale) said today.

Wheat growers should turn to stock raising more than they had previously, he added.

World overproduction of wheat had restricted markets for Australian wheat and flour, Sir John said.

The factors affecting immediate overseas marketing prospects for Australian wheat were:

Large surpluses in most producing countries. “ Bargain “ prices offered by the United States.

The possibility of a 2i million tons exportable surplus in France.

Sir John went on

The crisis is no passing phase.

The only remedy is to reduce Australian wheat production. . . .

He was supported by the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, which in a leading article, in its issue of 26th April 1957, stated-

The advice given by the Chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, Sir John Teasdale, to Australian growers to limit annual production to about 150 million bushels, to meet both home and export needs, is grave but not surprising.

To continue Australian wheat production on a scale which would build up still bigger hard to quit stocks is clearly foolish.

It is not surprising, of course, to find that Sir John’s advice was deeply resented in other quarters. The “ West Australian “, for instance, declared that his fears could be unfounded but it would be foolish to ignore them, and that any idea or bureaucratic control of wheat acreages would be repugnant. The “ West Australian “ had to admit that there is no point in growing appreciably more wheat than we can sell abroad competitively.

It was the large carry over stocks of this period in the history of the wheat industry that led to the successful negotiation of the Japanese Trade Agreement in July 1957, an Agreement that was bitterly opposed by manufacturing and trade union circles and, of course, by many others. The sale of wheat by the Australian Wheat Board to China has always been, from the Board’s point of view, strictly a commercial undertaking and political considerations have not been permitted to interfere in any way. It is true, of course, that politics and commerce simply do not mix. Although the legislation supporting the Board provides for the Minister to have the power to direct the Board, this is a power that no Minister has yet seen the need to exercise and it is to the credit of the Board that in all its activities it has been particularly careful to avoid any action that would be likely to give rise to a necessity for the Minister to use this arbitrary power.

The wheat trade with China has expanded as a result of the Board’s promotional activities and the necessity for the Board to continue to find markets for expanding wheat acreages and a rapidly expanding industry. The prices paid by the Chinese have been world parity prices at the time the contracts were made. China has purchased vast quantities of off grade wheat, which has been sold by the Board at a discount on the f.a.q. price. The discount offered by the Board has been arrived at after a careful analysis and scientific testing of the wheat in order to determine precisely its value relative to the f.a.q. wheat of that season. The Chinese, being regular buyers of Australian wheat, will naturally purchase their requirements from Australia at a time that they calculate to be a buyer’s market. The Board’s transactions with China have always been on normal business trading bases and have, in the case of contracts on deferred payment, provided for interest to be paid on the outstanding amounts. The Chinese have meticulously met their commitments either on or before the due date. There is every reason to believe that China will continue to be a major customer for Australian wheat for many years to come, and there has never at any time been any suggestion by the Chinese to the Australian Wheat Board that the continuation of the trade will in any way be conditional on some form of diplomatic recognition.

Some efforts have been made, mainly for party political purposes, to create the impression that the sale of Australian wheat to China is making an important contribution to the Chinese economy and is assisting China to engage in foreign adventures to the detriment of Australian security. In examining this question it should be remembered that Australia has two major competitors in the Chinese market - France and Canada. Without a doubt, any withdrawal by Australia from the Chinese market would be hailed by these two competitors, and it is significant that neither France nor Canada is involved in any way in any of the conflicts presently taking place in South East Asia. An Australian withdrawal from the market would, therefore not reduce the Chinese importations of wheat by a single ton.

An assessment of just what the Australian sales have contributed to the availability of food to China reveals an interesting situation. From 1st December 1960 to 30th June 1966, Australia will have sold and shipped to China 11.75 million tons of wheat or wheat equivalent in the form of flour. A ton of wheat will make approximately 2,200 1 lb. loaves of bread. A 1 lb. loaf of bread, when thinly sliced will give approximately 14 slices, including crusts. On 1st December 1960, the Chinese claimed a population of 715 million people, rising at a rate of 15 million per annum. Any person with a leaning towards mathematics can calculate just how much bread Australia has provided for each Chinese person since 1st December 1960. My guess at the answer to this interesting exercise is that it is something less than 2 thin slices of a 1 lb. loaf per person per week. One of these slices could well be a crust.

So much for. the contribution that sales of Australian wheat have made to the ability of China to feed her people. To suggest that this is any real, significant contribution to the solution of the food problem is, therefore, quite ridiculous and, as wheat is a highly perishable commodity, to suggest that it has made any significant contribution to the ability of China to engage in foreign adventures is equally fallacious. But against this assessment of benefit to China must be measured the importance of this trade to Australia and the contribution it has made to our development and to the maintenance of our vigorous migration programme. The sale of wheat to China has avoided the need for acreage control and the restriction of production of wheat. It has enabled the development of millions of acres of virgin country, amounting to about one million acres a year in Western Australia alone. It is quite illogical to suggest that this land could and would have been developed in the face of production controls and acreage restrictions. Any suggestion that alternative markets could have been found in non-Communist countries is contrary to all the experience of the Australian Wheat Board and, at best, these markets could have been secured only on the basis of reciprocal trade agreements. The hostile reaction to the Japanese Trade Agreement alone shows how unrealistic this approach would be. This being so, it is important to ensure that the commercial relationships between the Australian Wheat Board and the People’s Republic of China are kept in their proper perspective.

Let us recognise that we are a race of people of fundamentally European origin and background, 11 million in number, residing in an island continent which, even if it is not considered to be a part of Asia, must be accepted as being part of the Asian complex. In Asia today many people of European and American origin are endeavouring to bring order and stability to many millions of Asian people and to assist them in their progress towards a better life. But it is important for us to remember that all these people of European and American origin can leave Asia at any time and go home. Australia, however, with its relatively small population and its vast island continent, must remain a part of the Asian complex forever. If at any time in the years ahead Australia were in immediate danger from the vast masses to our near north, we could reasonably expect that powerful friends and allies would come to our aid, provided, of course, that we had done all we could to live in peace with our neighbours, had not irresponsibly excited their hostility and enmity and had tried to develop, populate and strengthen our own country. It has already been explained that our wheat trade with China is a valuable adjunct to our developmental and migration programme. Should we say to the Chinese that, because we do not approve of the political medium that the Chinese people are using in an effort to raise their standards, we will not sell them some of our surplus wheat? Should we say this not withstanding their proven ability to pay for it and the absolute integrity they have displayed in all their commercial relationships with the Australian Wheat Board? Should we do this and it led to a need to slow down our developmental and migration programmes, would this be consistent with our responsibilities to strengthen our country and to try to live in peaceful co-existence with our neighbours?

As the living standards of the Asian people improve and their standards of health and hygiene advance, the population of our Asian neighbours must continue to rise rapidly. Even an effective system of birth control will not offset population increase due to longer life expectancy. Because of the increasing demands for food in this transitional period by these emerging people, there must be increasing opportunities for Australia to assist its own development programme and at the same time earn goodwill by a readiness to trade with Asia. The adoption of the opposite attitude and a refusal to trade could well mean that we would have to restrict food production and the development of food producing land and, because of the effect this would have on our economy, slow down migration. In effect we would be adopting a dog in the manger attitude. In this sort of situation, if eventually a powerful Asian neighbour decided to come and take a slice of this lightly developed country and produce its own food, would Australia have either the moral right to object or the moral right to call on European or American friends for help? Mr. Acting Speaker, my answer is: 1 think not.


.- The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) dealt primarily with matters affecting Australia and South East Asian countries. This was not unexpected. There were, however, some matters to which he failed to refer and which, if time permits, I hope to deal with. I refer to such matters as the proposed French atomic tests to be carried out in the Pacific area.

If one accepts the proposition of the German military authority Clausewitz that the military art is merely an extension of the art of politics, one should have a ready made solution to all the problems that beset the world today. The struggle for power is not confined to individuals; it involves nations as well. Struggles between nations have frequently resulted from colonial aspirations or from differing economic circumstances between “ haves “ and “ have nots “. In recent years, ideological considerations have resulted in conflicts in the South East Asian area. It is apparent, however, that the international conflicts of today, whatever the reasons given for them, are basically the result of the continuing struggle for power.

Colonialism has almost vanished. The South East Asian region and the continent of Africa are no longer the exploited areas Hut they were 25 years ago, and nationali:m in many forms has appeared in the emer t;ing nations of these regions. As Australia is in the South East Asian area, its destiny is bound up with happenings in this part of the world. Nations such as Great Britain and France which formerly had in their colonial empires some of the South East Asian countries, and which relied on those countries for many of their basic needs, have been compelled to grant them independence. Great Britain and France are now primarily concerned with the struggle for the balance of power in Europe, because it is in Europe that their destinies lie. No country can now take refuge in isolation. The winds of change have subsidised and have been replaced by the winds of challenge.

Interference in the affairs of a nation is a grave matter, whether it be in the form of military action or of the application of economic sanctions. Such interference is a most serious matter, even when it follows a conventional declaration of war, but for a government to commit itself militarily in the way the Australian Government has in Vietnam is very bad indeed. The reason given by the Australian Government for its intervention in Vietnam is that it received a request for military support from the Vietnam Government. On this point the Government has not been as frank with the Parliament as it might have been, because all requests for the production of correspondence with the Vietnam Government on its request for military assistance have been summarily rejected. By contrast, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, in response to requests from the Opposition in that country, laid all relevant correspondence on the table of the New Zealand Parliament. If this can be done in New Zealand why cannot similar action be taken here? The procedure thus followed in our sister dominion places the Australian Government in a very unfavourable light. It reflects very little credit on the Government and merely demonstrates the supreme contempt in which it holds this Parliament.

The Government lays great emphasis on the military happenings in South East Asia but attempts to find shelter in silence on economic happenings. The two aspects of the situation cannot be separated and treated as two opposing forms of policy, as the Government has tried to do. The United States Government at least displays some consistency in this matter, unlike the Australian Government. Armies must be supported in the field with items other than armaments, and the Australian Government through its economic policy has been supplying many of these items to other countries. Since 1960 it has given economic aid to the value of more than $700 million to countries in the Asian area, principally to China. The Minister for External Affairs told us that China is the real threat in this area and he expressed concern at that country’s expansionist policy. When one hears the Minister make such a statement and then examines the Government’s economic policy one is justified in concluding that its economic policy is laughing at its defence policy. The situation is not without irony. When Government members speak of the military threat in the area they speak of Communist China; when they speak of economic matters they speak of mainland China. A person not well acquainted with the situation might be pardoned for thinking that they were referring to two different countries.

Much has been written and spoken about Vietnam and its people. I propose to give my personal opinions. Vietnam is a nation of some 30 million people and it is at present divided into two parts by the Geneva Convention of 1954. During its long history it has frequently been defeated but never conquered. It is a miracle that it has survived such a long and unhappy history of oppression. In past centuries when China was powerful it successfully invaded Vietnam but never vanquished the indigenous people. The French made Vietnam a part of their colonial empire from about 1860, when the three countries of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam made up what was then called Indo-China. Following the outbreak of World War II, the Japanese took over. After 1945 the French returned and finally withdrew following their defeat at the battle of Dienbienphu. Since 1954 the North has been controlled by a Communist Government and the South by a succession of governments, all having been of varying authoritarian character. During all this time the flame of patriotism has continued to burn. Occasionally it has flickered dangerously low, but it has never been extinguished. The patriotic front was always a viable organisation during the days of occupation by foreign powers. Down the years during the time of the French occupation, and in the early part of this century, this organisation sent its members clan destinely to military academies in China and Japan.

The Communist Party entered this field only in 1925. The present head of government in North Vietnam was its leader. The history of Ho Chi Minh and the Communist Party in their dealings with the national liberation movement of the time has been extremely sordid. Many a genuine nationalist who was returning to his country to assist in the liberation movement was betrayed to the French authorities by Ho Chi Minh and the Communist Party. This was done to strengthen the Communist movement. Today Ho Chi Minh is a head of State. His participation in the government of the country and the part that he played in the overthrow of the French colonial rule have pushed his past under the mat, but there are still many Vietnamese who remember his acts and there are thousands who still desire peace.

That is why it is imperative that there should be no relaxing of our efforts to bring about an end of the sufferings of these people. In my opinion, Vietnam is a pawn in the game of power politics. All the major powers should have impressed upon them the necessity and obligation to negotiate and to bring to an end this frightful holocaust which is consuming endless thousands of human beings. Neither the North nor the South has carried out the terms of the Geneva Agreement. Diem’s reasons for not accepting them was that South Vietnam was not properly represented and that it was a representative of France who signed for South Vietnam. He claimed that the Agreement was opposed to the national interests of the country as a whole. In recent years Ho Chi Minh has made a similar claim.

No free elections, as we understand them, have been held by either North Vietnam or South Vietnam. South Vietnam has made a pretence of having such elections; the North has never deigned to hold such an election. There have been uprisings in both parts. In 1956 in the province where Ho Chi Minh was born there was an uprising of 20,000 peasants. They were armed with only picks and shovels, but they were so determined that the uprising was put down only after a division of the North Vietnam Regular Army was called in. In 1960 the Government of North Vietnam admitted that what it called an error of policy, that is ils agrarian policy, had resulted in the unnecessary liquidation of 15,000 persons. If this Government has made such an admission, it is reasonable to assume that the number of persons killed was considerably higher, as some other sources claim. Due to the form of government in the North, it is exceedingly difficult to obtain any balanced picture. Entry to the country is rigidly controlled and criticism is permitted only periodically at the party level. In the South, restrictions are not nearly as controlled or rigid and most of our knowledge of what is taking place there comes from what may be termed our own sources. There are numerous authorities to confirm this statement. Massive material aid has been poured into this area. Up to 1960. America had made grants to the South totalling 1,000 million dollars, while the Eastern bloc, particularly China and Russia, had matched this with similar grants to the North. The preponderance of this aid came from China.

Whilst the Government of North Vietnam has remained unchanged since 1954, South Vietnam has changed its Government nine times. Following the fall of the Diem Government there have been no fewer than eight governments. The present Government of South Vietnam has only just survived after promising that free elections will be held in August of this year. Whether such elections will be held remains to be seen. If elections are held, it is reasonable to assume that a Buddhist form of government will be elected, lt is to be hoped that such elections will be successful in bringing a measure of tolerance and stability to the country. Until now such governments as have been elected in other parts of South East Asia have not been marked by such attributes. Unfortunately. <hey have been marked by a total absence of such traits.

With the major powers, strategic considerations are the dominant force and, as always, they are present in Vietnam in her unsettled state. Today China is a unified country with a strong Government, and her influence cannot be disregarded or her presence discounted. It is the height of folly to continue to pursue a policy that attempts to conceal this fact by refusing her entry to the United Nations or according her recognition. China’s Government presents itself to the world as an ideological one, but this does not conceal China’s nationalist aspirations, notwithstanding the terms that aTe applied. She is intent on expanding her spheres of influence and on consolidating her outer frontiers. It is the latter policy that has caused the rift with Russia and which at the same time has given rise to feelings of disquiet, not only in America, but in Russia as well. China is now an atomic power. One difference between ourselves and China can be stated quite simply. China has the bomb; we do not want the bomb. We have the pill; China - or Asia for that matter - does not want the pill. This is not said facetiously. Our falling birth rate in recent years has given rise to grave doubts on the part of many thinking people. This is evidenced by a provocative article that appeared in a recent issue of the Australian Medical Association’s journal.

The division of Vietnam was a tragic mistake. The most urgent and most pressing problem in this unhappy country is to stop the slaughter of human beings. This can be achieved only by a negotiated peace and by permitting the division to remain. This may appear to be a contradiction, but it is far more preferable than allowing the war to continue. It would bring an end to the horror and bloodshed that are now occurring. lt would grant a reprieve to the long suffering people of Vietnam. It would not be a permanent solution and undoubtedly it would leave many matters unresolved, but surely after so many years of war this country is entitled to some respite. The division of a country is not a permanent solution, but I believe that at this time even a temporary peace would be acceptable to the people of Vietnam. There have been divisions of other countries. The division of Vietnam, in itself, must contain the seeds of future strife, but a negotiated peace that allowed the division to remain would at least grant some kind of respite to the war weary inhabitants. The pressing and overriding need of Vietnam at the moment is for the cessation of hostilities and for some kind of respite that would bring to an end the ever increasing atrocities, suffering and horror that have permeated the country’s national existence for a long time.

La Trobe

.- The debate on foreign affairs has extended over a number of weeks. Many different viewpoints have been expressed. On the Opposition side there have been various colourations or dis.colourations of Labour policy, as it is called these days, and there has been a divergence of views, although perhaps only in degree. I do not think anybody could disagree with much of what was said by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor). A substantial part of what he said in his resume of the situation as it has developed in Vietnam over the years is in accord with the facts. But just because there has been a lull in the debate today and because everything has been peaceful I do not think we can suggest that the debate should continue in this way. Many statements have been made in the last two weeks by members of the Opposition that call for comment before this debate concludes. Honorable members opposite have said little about moves by the United States and other countries, irrespective of whether they support South Vietnam, to bring North Vietnam and Communist China to the conference table. In the attacks that many honorable members opposite - not all - make on the United States they never refer to the efforts of the 17 uncommitted nations, of the Premier of India, of the United Kingdom Government, of the United States Government and of many other countries to get North Vietnam and Communist China to the conference table.

Let it be remembered also, because this matter is not mentioned by some honorable members opposite, that the Labour Government of the United Kingdom, through its spokesmen the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, supports the action being taken in South Vietnam by the United States and Australia. The United Kingdom realises that we have a case for being there and that there is a need to take the defensive against Communism in this area of South East Asia. Lest anybody needs to be convinced further on this point let me quote from the recent United Kingdom White Paper on Defence, which reads in part -

It is in the Far East and South Asia that the greatest danger to peace may lie in the next decade and some of our partners in the Commonwealth may be directly threatened.

Those partners in the Commonwealth are Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. This danger to us is admitted in the United Kingdom, but listening to some members of the Opposition one could be excused for thinking that we had nothing to fear, that we had nothing to prepare for and that all we had to do was sit back, be quiet and accept no responsibility, allowing the tide to rise over us. This is a very convenient debating point which the Opposition takes but it may not be one which the Australian people will accept without being given further information by the Opposition.

I propose to quote the remarks of Mr. Gaitskell the former leader of the British Labour Party with regard to the situation in Berlin. Most people will realise that the Soviet was checked in Europe only when it was shown that the free nations were prepared to stand by West Berlin; when it was shown that they were prepared to overcome the blockade by the use of aircraft even if it meant war. The free nations were prepared at all costs to stand by the people of West Berlin. The stand taken against the Soviet has obtained a type of peace in Europe for some considerable period. The same issue is involved in Vietnam today. I will quote from a speech delivered by Mr. Gaitskell in Blackpool in 1961 when he spoke about unilateral disarmament and West Berlin. At the time he was under pressure from left wingers in the Labour Party regarding what he should do about compromising with the Communists and coming to some arrangement with those people who wished to put an end to democracy. Let the Opposition ponder his words. Let too the Australian people ponder them. Mr. Gaitskell said -

Can the United Nations today guarantee the security of its members? The answer is “ No “. It has not the power, and if it had the power it is by no means certain it would have the united will. I hope and pray the time will come when the power exists; when there is a world authority and when people accept it, but it is not there yet. That is why nations, wherever they may be, are bound to rely on themselves ultimately for their own protection, either by such defences as they decide to erect or by alliances or by both. Our answer to the proposal that Britain should become neutral and give up her alliances is simple. We passionately believe that if Britain were to do this it would be profoundly dangerous for the peace of the world. If Britain walked out on the American people they would regard it as a terrible betrayal by their closest ally. What would the Russians think? One of the dangers of the Berlin situation is that they, thinking that the west is weak and divided - and if we walked out - would take their chance and seize Berlin. Let no-one regard that lightly, whether he cares for Berlin or for the peace of the world.

In that statement, for Berlin substitute Vietnam. For the Soviet let us substitute Communist China. For America substitute the United States and the free nations remaining in South East Asia. How many of the countries of South East Asia would trust us if we took the advice of the left wing members of the Labour Party who say to us: “ Repudiate your treaties. Whatever the United States is doing is wrong. The United States is the aggressor. Australia should not be there. Australia should not play its part. We should get out as fast as we can and sit on our island in isolation.”? If in place of America as referred to by Mr. Gaitskell we substitute the small nations of South East Asia, how many of them would trust us? The sole purpose of the Communist bloc and of those people in this Parliament who may be purveying the Communist line is to force the United States out of South Vietnam and out of South East Asia altogether. If this happened the countries of South East Asia would fall. Who then would protect Australia? This is a question which the Australian people have a right to ask the Opposition. Who then would believe our word? Who would ever again respect us? Who, we may ask, would eventually liberate us if the tide did engulf us, as some people experienced in international affairs and South East Asian affairs think at the present time could happen?

We are in South Vietnam not for territorial gains or colonial power. Being on the perimeter of South East Asia, Australia must play her part in stopping Communist aggression wherever it breaks out. To do this we must employ all the military and economic means at our disposal. We are providing economic and defence aid for the people of the free nations which wish to remain free, for we more than any other western nation in this area have the most to lose. Indeed, the Americans could go home. They could live within the borders of their own country. America is not under direct threat. The Americans could get out of South East Asia tomorrow. The United Kingdom could retire to Europe. It has been suggested that the United Kingdom would like to reduce its defence commitments in Malaysia and South East Asia. There is nothing to stop the United Kingdom from going back to Europe. There has been peace in Europe for a long time and it looks as if Europe will remain peaceful for some time. All the threats to peace are now on Australia’s doorstep. It is the Australian people who must be prepared and the Australian Government which must be responsible. We must have strong allies if we wish to stand against the tides that may flow towards us at short notice. Let then the Opposition, which appears so close in the spectrum with the Communist Party, clearly spell out to the Australian people what its plans are for defence, because at no time in this debate has the Opposition proposed the alternative that it would give the Australian people.

The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) has said that it does not matter if South East Asia goes to the Communists. “ Let them take it “, he says. He says: “ I, the strategist who has never been to South East Asia - who has never set foot in the area - can tell you how to defend it.” He says: “ AH you need is a fleet to sail in the waters to the north of Australia. He does not say whether he is referring to “ Melbourne “ that can do 22 knots, or to a fleet of about four destroyers. I fake it that he is referring to the United States Fleet. I say to the honorable member for Yarra, other members of the left wing of the Opposition, and also the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who say that they would withdraw our troops from Vietnam, that these statements may be designed to impress tine United States Government, but if I were the United States Government, I would tell them to go to hell very quickly and I would assure them that they had no right to make any claim on the United States for help to protect Australia. The members of the Labour Party should not just play on the emotions of people and endeavour to confuse the issue for political gain. Let them say how they intend to save not only the 20 year old national servicemen but every man, woman and child in this country if the situation should deteriorate further and we should come under attack. To say that this cannot happen is to ignore reality. For honourable members opposite to act as they are at present is merely to play the part of mouthpieces for Communism, and this will mean the eventual selling out of this country and its people.

Our foreign policy and our defence policy are based on a proper concern for the security of our nation and its people. The war threats are no longer in Europe and the Mediterranean, or on any other far flung battle line; they are here in South East Asia, and time is not on our side. If the Labour Party has a policy, then let it state it. If some religious leaders feel they have the divine power to save this country without our doing anything for our own protection, and that this power is invulnerable, let them say so. Let the academics who are so knowledgeable as to the future safety and protection of Australia get up and say that they will guarantee the safety of Australia and of our wives and our children if anything should go wrong and the Communists come down to confront us in Australia.

The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) put the Communist line in opposition to the Government’s policy at the recent conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Let us remember that, although he earned the applause of the Communist delegates, there were no representatives of Communist oppositions present at that conference because the Iron Curtain countries do not have oppositions. Let it be remembered, too, that when there was a demonstration outside Parliament House against one of the leaders of the Soviet delegation that leader said that he was surprised that this sort of thing was allowed to happen in Australia because no demonstrations of that type were allowed to happen in Poland, the Soviet Union or other Iron Curtain countries. Let those who rise in this House and seek to place responsibility on America and the other free nations of the West spend some of their time telling us about the things that go on in the Iron Curtain countries which they seem to adore and admire. The Australian people want to know these things. Let the members of the Labour Party tell us also why they altered section XXIII of the Party’s platform. That section originally read -

Labour will honour and support Australia’s treaties and defence alliances. lt now reads -

Australia must periodically review its defence treaties and alliances to meet new circumstances as they arise.

The Australian people should be taken into the confidence of the Australian Labour

Party. The Australian people may be emotionally involved in conscription and all that it means, but it is up to the Labour Party to tell them what measures it would introduce to ensure the safety of this country. If the Labour Party’s policy is to repudiate everything American, to repudiate America and all our alliances and treaties, then the members of the Labour Party must tell the Australian people whom they would substitute for the United States of America.

I am sure that the Australian people have accepted and are now accepting the fact that the phoney protests which are organised and arranged by the Communists in this country have only one objective - to deprive the Australian people of the power to resist the threats with which they may be faced. In fact, a great number of those who speak so much about freedom would be the very ones who would do most to see that we in Australia had little freedom indeed to enjoy.

Let me conclude by saying that, so far as I can see into the future, I believe that Australia must have conscription and that it must have forces and be able to plan for the best use of those forces. Australia must be certain also that these forces can be maintained. Those members of the forces to whom I have spoken after their return from Vietnam accept their responsibility. The representatives of the South East Asian nations to whom I have spoken also accept the fact that they have a part to play. They realise that they will be under a threat and that what is happening now in South Vietnam could happen also in Thailand, Malaysia and other parts of the world. It is only by demonstrating our genuine concern for their freedom that we can ensure that the people of these nations will cooperate with us and stay with us.

I give all credit to the United States of America for having been prepared to put its troops into this war not for gain but to protect the peace of the world. In doing this, the United States has taken over the role which was formerly filled by the United Kingdom v/hen it was the premier nation of the world. Instead of belittling the United States of America as some members of the Opposition and some people in this country are so fond of doing, I suggest they should get down on their knees and thank God that we have an ally which has power and which is prepared to use it against Communism in support and defence of the things which most of the Australian people hold very dear.


.- The House is debating a statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) to this Parliament on 10th March last. The people of Australia are now more concerned with foreign affairs and our relations with other countries than they have been for many years. Australia’s good name in the nations of the world has slumped to an all time low as a result of this Government’s policy. This is particularly so in the Asian countries. It can truly be said that we have virtually severed the bridge to Asia and lost the high respect that we earned in the Asian countries in particular when the foreign affairs policy of this country was under the guidance of a former member for Hunter, the late Dr. Evatt.

Mr Turnbull:

– That is not true, of course.


– It certainly is true. If the honorable member wishes to stand up and contradict me afterwards, he may. Frequently we hear from speakers on the Government side of the House about the imminent threat to Australia from the people of China. To my mind, such statements are utter poppycock. The people of Australia are beginning to realise this because the truth is gradually filtering through to them.

I have made references on previous occasions in this Parliament to an article published in an American magazine called Newsweek” on 15th March 1965. That article contains information provided by a high authority in the American War Office. Amongst other things, the article points out that the defence force of the people of China is geared entirely for defence, not for offence. It points out that China’s Air Force is suffering severely from lack of jet fuel and spare parts. It also states that China’s army, the largest army in the world, is well equipped with light automatic weapons and that half of her army is poised near the Russian border on the north of China. We all know, as men of common sense, that light weapons are designed more for defence and are not designed for the firing of long range missiles.

The article to which I refer also states that China’s Navy is comprised of shallow draught vessels and that she has only sufficient amphibious craft to move two battalions. I have not heard from any honorable member on the Government side, nor have I read in any newspaper in this country any denial of the evidence published in “ Newsweek” magazine on 15th March. Further, no honorable member on the Government side has referred to any of the books on China which are available in the Parliamentary Library. I have with me such books as “ The Wall has Two Sides It is written by Felix Green. I believe he is an Englishman and a non-Communist. Then there are “The Other Side of the River” written by Edgar Snow and the latest book out, “ The Curtain of Ignorance “ by Felix Green. I recall reading a verbatim report of a question and answer interview by Felix Green some time ago with Chou En-lai. Felix Green, as I recall it, said to Chou En-lai: “ Is it true that you are rearming your country?” This interview look place prior to 1962. Chou En-lai replied: “Certainly. As fast as we can “. Felix Green said: “ Is it true that you have great economic problems that should take priority over armaments in your country?”. Chou En-lai replied: “ That is so, but you should know, as a historian, that our country has been invaded on many occasions, and we fear invasion again “. This interview took place long before the Vietnam war escalated to the extent that it has today, when United States bombs are dropping, we learn, within 15 miles of the border of People’s China. Chou En-lai went on to point out that the United States had bases which virtually encircled his country. He pointed out also that the United States had nuclear bases in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu and in the Philippines.

Mr Kelly:

– What do the Indians have?


– The honorable member should know. He is more like an Indian than anyone in this House. The United States has nuclear bases in Taiwan and in the Philippines. Any man of commonsense who is prepared to speak up for justice and truth must point out that the Chinese expression of fear of invasion must be genuine if it is true that the United States has these bases virtually surrounding People’s China. No one in this Parliament has denied that People’s China has not one single troop outside its own borders.

Mr Hughes:

– When the honorable member talks of People’s China does he mean Communist China?


– I mean Communist China or People’s China, whatever is the truth.

Mr Hayden:

– It is the country with which the Government trades.


– As the honorable member for Oxley reminds us, it is the country with which the Government trades and also the country to which Malaysia is selling in the vicinity of 15 million tons of rubber a year. A British Commonwealth country is selling 15 million tons of rubber a year to a country which is alleged to be such a dire threat to Australia. I believe that, now that the Australian people are being enlightened by members of the Labour Party and its followers throughout this nation, they will reject this Government in a manner in which it has not been rejected since 1929. They will do so because of the falsehoods the Government has been telling about the imminent threat to Australia from People’s China. If People’s China is not a threat I do not consider that there is any threat from any other country in Asia.

Mr Cockle:

– The honorable member is kidding himself.


– I am not. Is there any threat from India? Certainly not. Is there any threat from the Philippines? Certainly not. Is there any threat from Thailand? Certainly not. Is there any threat from Pakistan? Certainly not. Supporters of the Government have been trying to convince the Australian community that Australia faces a dire threat of invasion from China. To justify its actions the Government has now conscripted to the bottomless pit of jungle warfare in Vietnam the 20 year old youths of this country who have to go, without a choice, without a voice and without a vote. Due to pressure from the community the Government has decided to give th”. 20 year old conscripts a vote. I consider that it should give every 20 year old a vote and not just those who are conscripted. This is another half hearted measure by the Government to try to extricate itself from the grievous embarrassment in which it finds itself.

Much has been said in this Parliament about the Vietnam war, but I do not consider that enough has been said about the basic cause of the war. We know that the basic cause of this war was the breach of the 1954 Geneva Agreements. Those Agreements brought peace to Indo-China, and particularly to Vietnam. When the ceasefire was achieved the forces of Ho Chi Minh were induced to go to North Vietnam and the opposing forces were induced to stay in South Vietnam until such time - and the time specified was two years - that free elections were held for the whole of Vietnam. Why were not those elections held? Ex-President Eisenhower in his memoirs has pointed out that the elections were not held because if they had been 80 per cent, of the people would have voted for Ho Chi Minh. What a disgraceful thing it is not to hold elections because a government of which we do not approve may be elected. In other words we say, in effect: “ You can have a government of your choice, but it must be a government that we like “. What hypocrisy. What hypocrites we are as the upholders of freedom and democracy in the western world. We say in effect that the government elected must be one that we want but that the people of Vietnam can have a free choice. How utterly ridiculous.

Mr Jess:

– Which Communist country has free elections?


– 1 am very doubtful that the Senator McCarthy of the Government benches, the honorable member for La Trobe, will be returned to this Parliament after the next general election because I am thinking seriously of going down to his electorate. The people of the Hunter electorate want me to go down to the electorate of La Trobe and tell the people there the truth about this man’s performances in the Parliament. I suggest to the honorable member for La Trobe that he start to practise Gracie Fields’ most popular song: “ Wish mc luck as you wave me good-bye “; because he will be waving this Parliament goodbye. He will be going out in disgrace for misleading the people of La Trobe and the Australian community in connection wi:h Australia’s involvement in the war in Vietnam.

Mr Jess:

– The honorable member said that last time.


– The honorable member should learn that song because he will need to know it. Overwhelming evidence exists to support the Labour Party’s policy that our boys should not be conscripted to go to a filthy war which the world’s leading learned people have condemned. They have condemned the United States for bringing about an escalation of this war and the manner in which the war is being carried on.

I should like to make reference to a volume of evidence that I have in front of me on my desk. I refer to a statement made by Senator Stephen M. Young, the Democrat Member from .Oregon, United States of America. He comes from that great State that returned Senator Wayne Morse with a very large majority to the United States Senate. Senator Young is on record as saying that he was told by a member of the Central Intelligence Agency in Vietnam that the CLA. committed atrocities there to discredit the Vietcong. Young said that he was told that the CLA. disguised some people as Vietcong who then committed atrocities, including killing some men and raping some of the women. Young told newsmen that the CLA. had a force of several hundred in Vietnam. The Australian community has become more enlightened about the activities of the American CLA. which is referred to in the book “The Invisible Government.” Mr. McCone who I understand has the political views of the extreme right, similar to those of most of the Liberal Party and particularly the honorable member for La Trobe, is, or was recently, a director of the CLA. He was responsible for the organisation of the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba. He played an important part in the invasion of Guatemala and Honduras which, to my mind, has not reflected any great credit on our great friend and ally, the United States of America. At page 193 of the book “The Invisible Go vernment “ there is a reference to Mr. McCone which states -

Outside the scientific community, many were disturbed by McCone’s big wartime profits in the ship-building business. Ralph E. Casey of the General Accounting Office, a watchdog arm of the Congress, testified in 1946 that McCone and his associates in the California Shipbuilding Company made $44,000,000 on an investment of $100,000.

If that article be true - and I see no reason to doubt it - Mr. McCone could be described as one of the leading warmongers in the United States. Warmongers do not care whose blood is spilt as long as their profits are allowed to accumulate. Money got by evil, to my mind, is no good to anyone, but that is not the view of warmongers in the United States of the McCone type. Information filters through to us that the Vietnamese people are determined to fight and resist foreign aggressors in that country to the last person, and we know that it is a war that cannot possibly be won by military means.

Mr Chipp:

– Who are the aggressors?


– If the honorable member for Higinbotham will listen, he will learn. The position is that Hanoi will not go to the peace table until the United States withdraws its forces. I believe that it is the view of most, if not all, members of the Labour Party that agreement cannot be achieved, and there cannot be a peaceful settlement of the Vietnam war in the face of those demands from Hanoi. On the same ground, the United States has refused to have the National Liberation Front represented at the peace negotiations. Therefore there is a deadlock. I believe it is the opinion of most honorable members on this side of the House that the enemy with which peace is being sought has to be represented at negotiations. It is just hypocrisy to seek peace negotiations without the other combatant being represented. We know that the United States has said that it does not mind members of the National Liberation Front being represented in the Hanoi delegation. But if the people who are to sit at the negotiation table represent the United States, the Saigon Government and the Hanoi Government the numbers will be in favour of one side - the Hanoi Government - and no agreement for peace could be achieved under those circumstances. To settle this dispute in Vietnam and to save any more loss of Australian blood we have to get back to the Geneva Agreement and hold a conference under the co-chairmanship of Great Britain and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. To my mind, the principles of the Geneva Conference have to be put into effect. There has to be another cease fire. The American troops, if necessary, have to be used merely as a peacekeeping force until such time as free elections are held as was promised under the 1954 Geneva Agreement. To my mind, that is the only way in which a peaceful settlement in Vietnam could be achieved at this juncture.

As I come to the end of my remarks I want to remind the Government of the words of Alexander Pope, uttered many years ago. He said -

She saw her sons with purple death expire, Her sacred domes involved in rolling fire, A dreadful series of intestine wars, Inglorious triumphs, and dishonest scars.

That is what is occurring in South Vietnam today. This Government has not done everything within its power to bring peace to Vietnam and to return the cream of the Australian youth lo its native land.

Minister for Air · Fawkner · LP

– Despite the remarks of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) we are debating the statement on foreign affairs made six weeks ago by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck). While the statement surveyed many aspects of the world scene, the subsequent debate has concentrated on the situation in South Vietnam. There has also been introduced into the debate another important issue - that of national service. I think, therefore, that it is important that these two subjects be considered, but they should be considered separately because they are in fact separate issues. The first issue concerns the rights and wrongs of the conflict now taking place in South Vietnam, lt is not a simple issue. There are many complex and difficult reasons, all of which have to be considered. I suggest that they must be considered -under three headings: First, the issues involved within South Vietnam itself; secondly, the context in which this situation within Vietnam can be related to other events that have taken place in other countries since 1945; and, thirdly, the implications of this examination as it affects Australia’s own security.

Dealing first with the situation in South Vietnam, we must remember the origin of the struggle which started soon after the Geneva Agreement was signed in 1954. We remember the reign of terror initiated by the Vietcong in the countryside and in the villages, the training of guerrilla leaders in Hanoi, the gradual build up of logistical support along the Ho Chi Minh trail and the gradual escalation of the conflict. While we know that there has been a succession of governments in South Vietnam, the essential feature which must always be kept in mind is that every government has adopted as its major objective the defeat of the Vietcong and the determination to avoid the domination of their country by Hanoi. During the whole of this time, every government that has been in power has been able to maintain an army of over 400,000 South Vietnamese soldiers in the battle areas. Quite clearly, therefore, there is ample evidence, unlike that put forward by the honorable member for Hunter, to demonstrate the will of the majority of people in South Vietnam at the present time.

It is also important for us to know the aims of the Vietcong and the National Liberation Front which is now operating in South Vietnam. These were clearly stated in a party training manual dated October 1965, captured recently from the Vietcong and referred to in an article in the “ Reporter “ by Douglas Pike dated 24th February 1966. Referring to the Vietcong and the National Liberation Front, the article stated -

The Party’s objective is to overthrow imperialism, colonialism, and feudalism, to smash the United States and to liberate South Vietnam. Once independence is obtained the next step is unification of the two Vietnams. Then will come social re-organisation work, along socialistcommunist principles; land without demarcations, re-education of individuals, nationalisation of private property, and finally the aim of helping other small weak countries to struggle against imperialism.

Quite clearly the society envisaged by the Vietcong and its puppet, the National Liberation Front, for South Vietnam is a Communist one. However great the difficulties that exist between Buddhist and Catholics in South Vietnam, they are all united in one aim which is to defeat the Vietcong and to avoid domination by Communist governments in Hanoi. 1 shall again quote from the same article for the benefit of those honorable members opposite who persist in stating that it is a civil war in Vietnam in which the mass of the people are united against the government in Saigon. The article states -

The Vietcong, from 1958 to the present time, has assassinated or executed an estimated 61,000 Vietnamese village leaders and government representatives and yet even today, after a reign of terror which has been going on in parts of the countryside for nearly 10 years, reliable estimates show that the Vietcong could only count for certain on gaining 10 per cent, of the votes in South Vietnam at a free election. Nothing at the moment indicates that the Vietcong leadership is willing to take its chance at the polls. The Vietcong has not now, and has never had, the majority of the people behind it. The aim of the Government of South Vietnam, supported by the forces of the United States and of Australia, is to eliminate the reign of terror that has existed in these parts of South Vietnam, and to establish a situation wherein a proper free election can be held in order to determine the true will of the people of that country.

We must also look at the pattern of the aggression that has occurred throughout many parts of the world since 1945. This pattern was referred to very ably by the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) in his speech two weeks ago. In this pattern we can see a series of probes along the lines that separate Russian and Chinese influence from the rest of the world. A study of pre-war history shows that a similar series of probes, when allowed to go unchecked in the 1930’s, resulted in the explosion of the second world war. Since then, determined resistance in Berlin, Korea and Cuba has prevented further aggression in Europe and has led there to a period of peaceful co-existence in which each new nation can work out its own destiny and way of life in its own way. New nations in Asia are now trying to work out their own destiny and their own way of life, but there has been a common pattern of covert aggression that now can be seen to be designed to prevent this process. We can see it in Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and India. The pattern in South Vietnam differs only in degree from that in the other countries.

Before we judge the issue in South Vietnam we must answer two questions: First, would the people of Laos, Thailand, Malaysia or India really be happier under the tutelage or vassalage of China or her allies than they are at present? Secondly, if such a situation developed, Gould we then feel that our own security was not endangered? Quite clearly, we believe that the majority of the citizens of South Vietnam prefer to live in their present state than to be governed from Hanoi. History shows that in Vietnam there is little affinity between the people of the South and the people of the North. This relationship provided the basis for the start of the conflict to which I have already referred, but it was only the match that set alight the wider conflict which is operating today. From this conflict we cannot stand aside as onlookers. We resist aggression on the shores of Vietnam or we resist it on our own shores. In my opinion, there is no intermediate course.

The Government believes, therefore, that the events in South Vietnam are endangering the eventual security of Australia just as much as the security of the people of Western Europe was endangered by aggression against Berlin in 1948. We have a clear duty. Originally this was to help the people of South Vietnam to resist undercover violation of their frontiers by people wishing to change the established order of government. Now that the situation has escalated into open conflict, our aim is to aid the established Government of South Vietnam and our allies in this conflict in order to protect them and, at the same time, to protect ourselves.

I want now to turn to the other important matter in this debate and to stress once again the reasons that have led the Government to call up some Australian citizens for national service. For many years after Federation, the immediate security of our nation was never directly threatened. We could rely on the protection of the British Navy when wars took place, as they did from time to time. In South Africa and later in Europe we took part in conflicts on the basis that we could rely on volunteers to play their part. We could again rely on this basis in 1940 and 1941, but when our own security became directly threatened in 1943 we realised that the moment had been reached at which every citizen had to become liable to take his place in the defence of the nation against outside aggression.

The pattern of danger to our own security is now in the process of being repeated. The Government believes that the nation’s security could in time be threatened. In this situation, the Government believes that everyone should be liable for service and that the security of the nation should not be left only to those who volunteer. The task of defence has changed very much in the last few years. It has become more complex and involves much more training than was required in the past. Consequently, we cannot afford to wait until the conflict starts before we commence a period of training. Again it is necessary to introduce a period of national service in a peacetime situation.

A further reason for the action we have taken is that the pattern of defence is such that the need is for a few. highly trained men rather than for a large mass of partially trained citizens. It is not possible with the funds available to train every youth reaching the age of 20 years. Therefore, the fairest, alternative - selection by ballot - has been adopted by the Government. Those people who still maintain that we should rely on the voluntary system need to be reminded that for a long period, particularly in 1963-64, we endeavoured to recruit soldiers by every available means of persuasion. Today the Australian soldier receives higher pay and allowance than any other private soldier in the world. Even with these benefits, we failed to obtain sufficient volunteers.

I think it is a terrible omission in this debate that members of the Opposition have not had the courage to inform Parliament of exactly what course of action they would propose if they were responsible for the Government of this country. Therefore, we have to infer from a variety of utterances some of the policies they apparently advocate at present. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has stated that it is his policy to seek the return to Australia of all national servicemen. Apparently he means that he is prepared to carry on the conflict with Australian regular servicemen and to support the policy of the United States and the use of conscripted men in the United States forces in Vietnam. On other occasions he has stated that it is his opinion that it is an unwinnable war in Vietnam and that Australia should not take part in it. Why then does he lack the courage to say unequivocally that he will withdraw all Australian servicemen and desert our ally, the United States, in this theatre?

That would be the practical result of the withdrawal of national servicemen.

The Leader of the Opposition should go on to answer the next question: If Communist infiltration into Thailand escalates and the Thai Government asks for our aid to protect its northern boundaries, would the Leader of the Opposition heed that request? Does he advocate his policy of withdrawal from . Vietnam for political or military reasons? One suspects that it is purely for political reasons and, therefore, that the argument he uses for Vietnam would be used elsewhere for the countries of South East Asia.

Unlike the Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) has been much more explicit as to the policy that he advocates at present. In his speech in this House on 21st October 1964 he put forward the proposition that Australia should abandon all involvement on the shores of Asia and should adopt a policy of containment based on the line from Kamchatka to Darwin and thence on a line running westward into the Indian ocean. I think this Parliament should again examine the implications of this defence policy. What does it mean? It certainly means that we would lose the benefit of defence establishments on the Asian mainland. We would lose the friendship of nations such as Thailand and Malaysia. We would certainly lose the respect of our allies and probably the help that we can expect through our defence treaties with the United States of America and Great Britain. In such a situation Australia’s security could certainly be threatened. The policy of containment along the line advocated by the honorable member for Yarra would certainly involve a tremendous increase in our requirement for air power and also an increase in the size of our Navy, let alone an overall increase in the size of the Army. Has the honorable member for Yarra, in framing his policy statements on this matter, considered what is involved, not only from the political point of view, which has been referred to so often in the course of this debate, but also from the purely military point of view? Two things would be certain to follow. The manpower that would be required for such an increase in our defences could only be obtained by a scheme of national service considerably greater than the present scheme. Has the honorable member for Yarra thought these things through or does he believe that we should leave ourselves defenceless, in the policy of containment that he advocates? We certainly cannot contain aggression by forces from the mainland of Asia unless we have forces with which to repel them. Apparently no member of the Opposition has ever taken this question a stage further and tried to think how the Labour Party would set about implementing such a defence policy. The second point is that the cost of our defence forces would be much greater and so the economic growth of our country would be considerably curtailed.

Apart, therefore, from the many reasons which have been advanced by this Government for supplying aid to Vietnam at the present time there are, to my mind, overwhelming reasons, involving Australia’s own security, that compel us to take the action we have taken. I believe that there is much force in the argument referred to generally as the domino theory. If we fail to meet the challenge in Vietnam we shall find the challenge transferred, in the course of years, to our own shores and the risks to our security at that time will be very much greater than the risks we face now. Meeting the challenge at that time will be vastly more expensive than the cost we face at present.

The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) drew a comparison between the present situation and that which existed in Europe in the late 1930’s. He pointed out that if we had met the challenge in 1936 we would have avoided the much more terrible challenge that we had to face in 1939. I agree entirely with the honorable member for Bradfield that the situation we face today has many characteristics similar to that which existed in 1936. It is, therefore, quite clear to me that the Government is entirely right in following the course of action that it has decided to adopt in the present situation.


.- Before I press on to the points I want to make in this address I wish to refer briefly to the remarks of the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson). The Minister quoted from a periodical in such a way as to convey that the quotation would establish the point he was making. But he could have obtained an equally objective statement from “ News Weekly “, the National Civic Council’s newspaper. The Minister referred to a lack of affinity between North Vietnam and South Vietnam, historically or ethnically. What always amazes me is how honorable members opposite can adapt arguments to suit their own convenience. When Vietnam was a French colonial possession one never heard any arguments in favour of partition. In reply to the contention that Vietnam is really not one country I want now to quote from an article from “The Minority of One “, an American publication. The article stated -

The United States Government, through iti Under Secretory of State, Walter Bedell Smith, made its own unilateral declaration on July 21, 1954.

This was in connection with the Geneva Accords. The article continued -

In this declaration, the United States took note of the Geneva Agreements and declared that the United States would “ refrain from threats or the use of force to disturb them, in accordance with Article 2 (4) of the Charter of the United Nations dealing with the obligations of members to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force . . .”

Referring to free elections in Vietnam the United States’ declaration stated:

In the case of nations now divided against their will, we shall continue to seek to achieve unity through elections supervised by the United Nations to insure that they are conducted fairly.

The Minister claimed that there was no affinity between North and South Vietnam, but here we have evidence that the United States at the time recognised that there is this affinity and that the separation of North and South is an artificial division carried out against the will of the people of those two areas. Implicit in that unilateral declaration made on behalf of the United States Government by Walter Bedell Smith was a guarantee to recognise the Geneva Accords. This is tremendously important because honorable members of the Government side of the House now argue that America did not sign the Geneva Accords and therefore has no obligation under them. But she has, as she conceded in the quotation I have just given. But then, having said that America does not have this obligation, honorable members opposite argue that we should return to the situation that existed at the time of the Geneva Accords. The history of events in Vietnam clearly shows that we departed from the spirit of the Geneva Accords not because of so-called aggression from the North, but rather because of the complete denial of the guarantees written into the Accords - to hold elections by 1956, not to decide whether the separations should continue but to choose one government for the whole of Vietnam.

It has been pointed out on numerous occasions that General Eisenhower, in his memoirs, said that the only reason why America did not allow free elections to the people of Vietnam was that 80 per cent, of the people wanted a Communist government. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has said - he has been quoted publicly - if the people of Vietnam want a Communist Government surely they are entitled to it and we have no more right to deny it to them than has a Communist government to deny a democratic administration to a country in which a majority of the people want such an administration.

I turn now to the current issues of the Vietnam situation. I am not a traditionalist in opposition to conscription. The history of the Australian Labour Party shows that during World War II it showed a responsible attitude in introducing conscription to defend the shores of Australia. I would support such a system if I thought there was some imminent threat to the security of this country, but I refuse to accept that the situation in Vietnam poses such a threat. I believe, talking in military or strategic terms, that if the whole of the Western forces were pulled out of Vietnam there would be no greater threat to the security of Australia or to the rest of South East Asia. That is a point which I shall elaborate later.

At this point I am concerned about the situation that the Government is trying to develop in this country, an atmosphere of “ my country right or wrong “, a super jingoistic situation. The Government is trying to establish a kind of veneration for the State, to elevate it above us instead of, as should be the case in a democracy, it being on a plane with the people in the community who appoint their representatives, the representatives themselves being only ordinary people and having no Godlike characteristic . of infallibility. I am distressed at the way in which the Government is handing on decrees which are a loyalty test for the population. Those who disagree have their character impugned and their loyalty questioned.

Part and parcel of this attitude is the way in which the Government conducts the campaign with slogans, slogans of convenience which suggest something without defining anything. They are dishonest because they explain nothing. Let us look at some of these slogans. One of them is that we are in South Vietnam to defend freedom. I have mentioned before just how wonderful freedom was under the Diem Administration and the particular case of Dr. Dan who was prevented from accepting his seat in the local authority assembly of Saigon after he had won an election even though Diem had poured thousands of troops into the electorate overnight to vote against the man. I have mentioned also the thousands of men who had become political prisoners because they had criticised or opposed the Administration but were not necessarily Communists. In most cases they were not Communists. In fact, Dr. Dan had a well earned reputation for being antiCommunist. If we are in South Vietnam to fight for these freedoms and if these freedoms are so extremely desirable to the people of South Vietnam, perhaps the Government can explain why there were 113,000 desertions from the ranks of the South Vietnamese Government forces last year.

We could take many instances of people in South Vietnam who, as distinct from the National Liberation Front, or the Vietcong or whatever you like to call it, have expressed their opposition to our presence in South Vietnam and have opposed the governments which we - when I say “ we “ I am speaking in the sense of the West - have propped up by military means. We had an example a few weeks ago when the Ky Government encountered a revolt against it. The Ky Government suggested this revolt was the work of Communists so we immediately had to attack Communist China.

I should like to read to the House some extracts from an article appearing in the 18th April 1966 edition of “Newsweek”, an American international news publication. The article had this to say -

Iti the ancient imperial capital of Hue, 400 miles north-east of Saigon, 1,000 national policemen and some 3,000 soldiers of South Vietnam’s crack First Division, led by their own officers, defiantly paraded with anti-government banners.

It went on -

And in the openly rebellious city of Da Nang, thousands of dissident troops barricaded themselves behind machine-gun nests and faced down a regiment of 1,500 loyal Vietnamese marines dressed in full battle gear.

While an incredulous Washington looked on with mounting concern, the protests suddenly turned blatantly anti-American.

There was a protest by students against United States imperialism and by Buddhists and the people generally who joined in the chant: “ Down with Cao Ky “. This was the situation in South Vietnam, not a Communist situation as the daily Press indicated to us but an expression of general dissatisfaction throughout the community because although there were social, economic and political problems to be solved we poured billions of dollars worth of military aid into the country to answer the problems in a military manner. In terms of civil assistance for the development of the country, our aid is a molehill beside the mountain of military might.

Another slogan we have heard is: “ We need powerful allies”. Of course we do. No-one denies that we need friends and the friendship of all people in the world, but the point that strikes me is that in this sector of the world our nearest neighbours are Asian countries. They will still be there long after European influences have moved away because European countries are furthest removed from us. In any case, surely this slogan does not mean that we must become completely mute or that we must become yes men. Yes men are a danger in any organisation. They are a positive threat in the delicate field of international affairs. Anyway, just what kind of guarantees do we have if we become mute followers of these so-called powerful friends? I recollect the time when Indonesia received West Irian with the United States virtually presiding over the transfer of that country from the Dutch. We were not involved in that situation although we were expressing our interest in it. So much for these strong and powerful friends and the consideration that they extend to us.

Then there was the recent Honolulu conference, hurriedly called for reasons which are obvious to anyone who has followed the situation in Vietnam. It was called for reasons associated with a searching inquiry directed at the administration of the United States. The conference was tremendously important. It involved important considerations for this country because, after all, the Government has made it clear that we are totally in support of the United States in this war. Yet we were not advised of the conference or of its proceedings although it involved the top leaders of the United States and of the puppet government in South Vietnam. We were not told about it until some time later. Between the time of the conference and the time when we were finally advised about it I heard on an Australian Broadcasting Commission station a report from some A. B.C. reporter in Saigon in which he stated what Australia was going to do. At this time, honorable members will recollect, the newspapers were talking about a stepped up involvement of something like 1,500 or 2,000 men. No-one thought we would send 4,500 troops to South Vietnam. I heard this reporter mention not only that we would send about 5,000 troops but also the composition of the military complex we intended to dispatch. It seems that the people in South Vietnam, even the Vietcong - the National Liberation Front - knew before the Australian Government what we were expected to do and what we would do.

Then there is the bombing of Hanoi to which the British Government has objected as a matter of principle. A question relating to this matter was asked of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) today. He was obviously flabbergasted and embarrassed by it and he was only saved by Mr. Acting Speaker’s ruling that the question was out of order.

We have heard another slogan that we must fight this war in someone else’s backyard. That is a disgusting argument. What we are saying virtually is that we want to spill blood on someone else’s soil but we want to keep our own country clean. This is resented by a lot of Asian nations. It certainly is resented in several of the magazines I have read which come from Asian countries. When we talk about having to fight the war in someone else’s backyard the matter seems to involve a mysterious undefined “ them “. We hear that we must stop “ them “ somewhere. No-one ever knows who this “ them “ is. One might ask: “ Who are these people you are talking about?” There is some vague concept of Communists, whether it be Chinese Communists or international Communism as a whole. There are many of these handy cliches but the people who use them are not quite clear about the matter. In fact they are confused, so the argument never develops. But it is a handy slogan because it is emotional even if it lacks a factual basis.

Then we get to the domino theory and the threat of China. The Minister for Air said there were some powerful arguments involved in the domino theory. I said before and I still say that, in terms of military strategy, the whole of the Western forces could pull out of Vietnam and there would be no threat to Australia or the rest of South East Asia. Why should Vietnam be a threat? In fact, Vietnam is the weak point in the defensive armour of American military strategy. America, first, has her tremendous Seventh Fleet, the biggest armada the world has ever known, and, secondly, her ring of air and military bases which come right down from Japan and put a ring around Asia, to contain and isolate Communist China.

Let us talk about Communist China and the fearful spectre of this huge country of 700 million people all of whom are going to flood down onto Australia and take us over overnight. This attitude seems to be a hangover in this conception of our fear of the coloured hordes which goes back to the early days of the white Australia policy. Let us look at China which has 2.7 million men under arms. They are poorly equipped; they are equipped for a defensive role; and they consist almost exclusively of infantry. It has extremely poor mobility as an army. Let us look at its navy. Surely if it is going to be a threat to us it must have ships to transport its power and resources of power. It has 4 destroyers and 4 destroyer escorts of World War II vintage. It has 700 patrol boats, but I understand that they are coastal patrol boats of very short range. What sort of threat is this? What sort of transportation could these vessels undertake? It has 30 submarines which would not be capable of carrying many troops. I have heard the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), an ex-serviceman who was involved in military front line landings in the last war, point out out that it takes a tremendous amount of shipping to move an attacking force. Let us look at China’s air force. It has Korean War vintage MIG 15s and 17s, obsolete Soviet bombers and a fairly large number of assorted propeller driven aircraft. This is the structure of the Chinese military might. It is largely a defensive one.

From my reading of magazines from Britain and America, and some from Australia, of course, it seems to me - the Americans are now prepared to concede this - that China is tremendously fearful that America is going to make an attack against it on Chinese soil. This fear conditions its whole concept of military arrangement. It is not an attacking arrangement in terms of conquering the whole of South East Asia but is rather a defensive arrangement. Again, China having such a tremendously weak industrial base, how could it marshal or mobilise a major attack or assault as would be necessary against a developed country like Australia, with our industrial base so far away from other countries? One other point for the Country Party - we have heard this often before - concerns the way we trade with Communist China.

Mr Nixon:

– Stop apologising for Communism.


– So far as I am concerned I would trade much more with Communist China than the Government does. But if the Government supporters are so virtuous on the threat of China, why do the members of the Country Party allow the subsidisation of wheat sales to Communist China? Under the wheat stabilisation plan, when the world price for wheat is lower than the domestic price the difference is made up from internal revenue. The Australian taxpayers are subsidising wheat sales to Communist China. Let us face the fact that Communist influence in Vietnam or any other of the Asian countries is a home grown thing, an internal thing which has grown out of the deprivation, the exploitation and the suffering of the people, and out of our refusal to face up to these problems. I do not raise the subject of trade with Communist China to suggest it should be halted. On the contrary I feel there is much to be achieved by increasing trade with this country. I merely raise the point to question the sincerity of the assumptions upon which the Government bases its arguments.

Now let me move on to the treaties. There is the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty and the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty. The S.E.A.T.O. Treaty is not worth the paper it is written on. We arc told that we are in Vietnam honouring our obligations, but Britain, France, the Philippines, Thailand and Pakistan are not there, even though Vietnam is a protocol State. The Philippines, of course, is going to send troops in, but it is an awfully belated decision and comes only because of a change of administration. This is an important point. Decisions under S.E.A.T.O. and under A.N.Z.U.S. also are subject to any alteration in administrative outlook on foreign policy. Finally - unfortunately I must end here - what about our obligations under the United Nations Charter about which I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) today and about which he obviously was embarrassed and at sea? Our obligations under the United Nations Charter are superior in their demands to our obligations under S.E.A.T.O.- and S.E.A.T.O. acknowledges this - and, it is agreed, to our obligations under A.N.Z.U.S. I cannot understand, therefore, why we have not carried out these obligations under the United Nations treaty. The United States observed these requirements in Korea in 1950 and insisted on Great Britain observing them in Suez in 1956 and the United Nations maintaining them in the Congo in 1960. It conveniently forgot them in 1964 in South East Asia. Let us negotiate and let us involve Moscow. Peking, Hanoi, the Vietcong, the National Liberation Front or anybody else who is involved in this war. If there are to be conditional negotiations, let them be in fact conditional negotiations.


.- The defence of Australia is the paramount issue in the present controversy on the participation of Australian troops in Vietnam. It is undeniable that this is the real issue, yet the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) declares that he would bring home all the national servicemen serving overseas. That is a remarkable statement when one thinks of the background of the Australian Labour Party in respect of the defence of Australia. The Leader of the Opposition makes it clear that he would sell out our defence if, God forbid, he had the chance to tlo so. lt is therefore reasonable that the defence issue should be put squarely to the Australian people. [Quorum formed.] The Australian Labour Party has taken a strong isolationist line on this issue. I shall say more about that at a later stage, but first 1 want to speak about the reasons for Australia’s participation and the question of the direct defence aspect which arises in this issue. The honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) was very critical of the Government. He referred to the policy of his Party - the Australian Labour Party - and claimed in particular that there was no real defence threat and that we could withdraw from Vietnam. He said there would be no difference at all so far as the defence of Australia was concerned. He referred in an airy fairy way to a ring of air bases which he claimed surrounded Communist China. He then went on to say that Communist China does not possess a Navy and that it could not take any real offensive action against Australia. I want to say very directly that this shows a complete and utter disregard for the facts.

One of the first things that we have to get straight on this issue is that South Vietnam lies very close to Australian shores. I think we tend to overlook this aspect, lt is patently clear that South Vietnam, geographically located as it is, no more than 1,600 air miles from Australia, could become a real threat to Australia should it fall under Communist domination. This is so for a number of reasons. Let me refer in particular to the proximity of South Vietnam to Australia - 1,600 air miles, which is 150 miles less than the distance from Melbourne to Perth. Let us think for a moment of what it would mean if Communist control eventually were to be the order of the day in South Vietnam. There would be a quick fall of Cambodia and Laos and then the Communist line would move further south. Then, of course, we would be in the perilous position where there were in Asia, within easy range of Australia, locations for air bases. Let no-one be under any illusions as to the possible strength of the Communist controlled equipment for waging war. Communist China is building aircraft. Communist China undoubtedly has the opportunity to call upon friends in order to obtain additional equipment beyond that which she may construct herself. This is a situation that spells out clearly the problems of defence for Australia. We are participating in the war because of the proximity of Vietnam.

The domination of Vietnam by Communist China would mean the quick fall of the adjoining countries of Laos and Cambodia. The threat to Thailand would be extremely grave. Even today there is clear evidence of the existence of Communist infiltration in the northern sections of Thailand. This is a threat that worries the Thai Government. If we examine the geographic location of Malaya and Borneo we find that if we permit the forward movement of the Communist front we will be in the perilous position of having only one country lying between that Communist front and our own shores, and that country is our nearest neighbour - Indonesia. Can we think comfortably of Indonesia as the possible line separating Australia from the Communist bloc? It is complete hypocrisy for honorable members like the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) to come into this House and say that there would be no threat if we were to leave our responsibilities to others - if we were to vacate South Vietnam and if the Americans and the other countries who are supporting the cause of freedom there were to vacate South Vietnam.

This raises other issues. The Asian scene must be looked at realistically. If we were to withdraw from South Vietnam our action would leave a nasty taste in the mouths of the Japanese, the Filipinos, the Indians and the others who live in countries skirting this area. They regard the action we are taking today as action directed to the security of South East Asia. Of course there is another serious reason why the Communist front must be kept away from Australian shores. Equally important with our defence role is our need to develop Australia. If there is a Communist front close to our shores how can we develop this country in a way to give lasting security to the citizens of this Commonwealth? This is a point in which the Opposition shows little interest. The Opposition is content to be critical the whole way along the line but offers no realistic proposals for our defence.

Let me turn now to the question of national service. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has said that he will place his political future in the hands of the people of Australia at the next election, on this issue. If he looks back over his own record in this field he should feel ashamed of saying what he has said. I have no doubt that the electors will deal with this issue in due course. Let me refer to the past attitude of the Leader of the Opposition on this issue. In 1961, in his policy speech, he said - . . the Labour Party wishes to see the replanning of S.E.A.T.O. on a cultural, educational, medical and technical assistance basis and not on a military basis, and believes that it should include all the peoples of South East Asia.

Now that Malaya has said that the Singapore base is no longer welcome because of Britain’s commitment to S.E.A.T.O. Australian troops should be withdrawn from Malaya.

If we look at a whole series of not dissimilar statements we find that the situation on this issue is historical and is being adhered to in a way that does not evidence an interest in the security of Australia. In the really dark days of 1943 the present Leader of the Opposition opposed conscription and he then said -

I believe that ultimately the Labour Party will become anti-conscriptionist. … I am hopeful that, even if this Bill be passed, the Government will not put it into operation. I trust that if it reaches the Statute Book it will become a dead letter.

They were his words in 1943. Let us turn now to something said by the honorable member opposite who frequently is loud in his challenge to the Government on this issue. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said -

Personally I would not spend threepence on armament works or defence works of any kind in Australia.

This was said just before the last war, so clearly the present attitude is a longstanding attitude of the Labour Party. Of course many matters arise today that change the scene. We have a direct responsibility and one that we cannot neglect. It is our responsibility to see that the people of Australia have a true account of the situation and not a misguided one. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later hour.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.

page 928


Ministerial Statement

Debate resumed from 31st March (vide page 865), on motion by Mr. McMahon -

That the House lake note of the following paper-

State of the Economy - Ministerial Statement, 31st March 1966.

Mr. PETERS (Scullin) r8.0].- Mr. Speaker, everything in the garden is lovely. Or is it? The Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) in his speech on the economy of this country set out to assess the situation in its internal and external aspects and to indicate the lines of policy the Government is taking. He said that the employment position was satisfactory and that in recent years a rate of growth in activity had been sustained such as would take up the increase in the work force. He said that this had been done without causing inflation or balance of payments difficulties. The women of Australia would not admit that increases in prices of all commodities and rents - in some cases of over 100 per cent. - would not constitute inflation.

Generally, the statement of the Treasurer is designed to give the impression that although Australia is experiencing a drought, the full effects of which have not yet been felt, and although production of all kinds of essentials has been reduced, there is noting to worry about. The views of the Treasurer are not shared by some supporters of the Liberal Party and the spokesmen of big business. As late as 21st March - less than one month ago - Mr. Staniforth Ricketson, who is Chairman of Directors of Capel Court Investment Co. (Aust.) Ltd.. said -

Even when allowance is made for the effect of drought and other factors on rural income and production it is obvious that many of the non rural sectors of the community have experienced a significant downturn in their rale of progress. It is of course impossible to divorce entirely one section of the community from another or to expect that the repercussions of a severe and continuing drought will not be felt throughout the economy.


– This is what Mr. Staniforth Ricketson said. He continued -

Interim reports from some of Australia’s leading companies, issued during recent weeks, have re ferred to signs of a weakening in demand and struck a cautionary note in respect of business con*ditions during the remainder of 1965-66. One cannot ignore the comments of so prominent a retailer as Sir Edgar Coles when he describes current conditions as amounting to “ almost a recession in retailing”. Even the great Myer Emporium group in its recent interim report forecast the continuance of highly competitive conditions accompanied by some decline in earnings.

I am still quoting Staniforth Ricketson. He went on -

Forecasts of a levelling ofl in dwelling construction and sales of motor vehicles made in the last Budget speech have been followed by a decline in the rate of home building and motor vehicle production.

At the present there is a widespread lessening of business confidence generally as statistical evidence tends to reinforce.

Mr Kelly:

– Is the honorable member still quoting?


– I am still quoting Mr. Ricketson. He then suggests a remedy to declining sales. He continues - lt could well suit the Government’s purposes should it consider some economic stimulation advisable, to seek an immediate interim increase in the basic wage pending completion of the hearings now in progress. in this way a prompt increase in the spending power available to a large section of the community could be achieved. Such an increase would appear to be appropriate to immediate circumstances, especially in view of the fact that over the past couple of months reduced overtime in several industries has led lo a marked decline in the take home pay of many employees. It might reasonably bc expected that a larger take home pay would lead to some strengthening of consumer expenditure and provide what appears to be a needed stimulus in this direction.

As has been frequently pointed out, a high rale of economic growth is essential to our national security and is not merely desirable because ‘ the advantages which Bow from our growth. There is therefore some urgency behind our need lo develop this nation of ours as rapidly as possible. We cannot face the prospect of avoidable fluctuations in the level of economic activity wilh the same equanimity as countries whose national security is less dependent on economic expansion. Our main efforts should be directed towards avoiding wastage of our resources - we should not tolerate either manpower or machinery lying idle.

Mr Nixon:

– Who said that?


Mr. Staniforth Ricketson said that. Honorable members opposite should take notice, at least, of these men whom they acclaim as leaders in business in this community, but, of course, they do not do so. So much for the conditions in trading in Australia generally.

I now wish to refer to what the “ Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics” of January 1966 said on farm produce. It estimates that farm income for 1965-66 will be $948 million, or 30 per cent, down on the income for the previous year. This would be the lowest farm income figure in eight years. The drought is the main cause of the drop. A decrease of 7 per cent, in the total acreage sown to major crops and major stock losses in a number of drought affected areas are expected to result in a fall of 10 per cent, in the total volume of farm production from its level of 1964-65. The gross value of rural production is estimated at $3,039 million, or $357 million or 10 per cent, lower than the value for the previous year. It is also estimated that a drop of 6 per cent, will occur in the volume of rural exports. The value of rural exports is also expected to be down by as much as 10 per cent.

So much for the internal position. That, of course, is not a very rosy picture of the economy of this country. It is not nearly as rosy as the Treasurer appears to think it is. In fact, prices have risen and are continuing to rise rapidly. The sale of goods is slowing down. Social service payments are continuing to lose purchasing power. Housing and other social facilities are not keeping pace with increasing population. So much for the internal position of our nation. Urgent measures, as yet undefined by the Government, are essential to progress.

The Treasurer in his speech said that he would like to speak briefly about our external balance of payments. He said that, on the whole, the position looked a good deal better now than it did earlier in this financial year. He went on to say that the drought had cut back the volume of rural production, which might be down some 10 per cent, in 1965-66. The “ Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics”, as I pointed out earlier, estimates the reduction in farm incomes at 30 per cent., not 10 per cent. What is the external balance of payments position? The excess of imports over exports in the last six months was about $100 million more than in the same period last year. Australia failed to meet its obligations overseas, not to the extent of $100 million, but to the extent of $100 million more than the failure during the sams period of last year. We must remember that last year our balance of payments showed a deficit of $784 million. This was the second highest deficit in our history. The deficit must be met, and it is being met by the inflow of capital. This means that it is being met by the sale of -Australian farms, factories and mines to foreign investors.

The Treasurer said that the inflow of capital for the first half of 1965-66 was a record, and he spoke as though this was some-thing of which to be proud. He said that in the first half of 1965-66 the apparent private capital inflow totalled $396 million, or approximately $112 million more than the amount for the corresponding period of last year - which, of course, was then a record year in respect of the inflow of capital. The Treasurer said that for the full year overseas investment in Australia appeared certain to be greater than in the previous year, in which overseas investment represented an all time record. It will be over $500 million. The Vernon Committee has warned us that Australia should import annually no more than $300 million capital, and I think the Committee gave even that figure reluctantly.

The Treasurer made the peculiar statement that, with the balance of trade improving and with capital inflow remaining high, Australia’s international reserves have recently been holding up well and we will end this financial year with a level of reserves high by world standards. Our reserves are maintained with the money of other countries, paid for by the sale of our tools of trade - our farms, factories and mines. The Government should remember that if it sells these things once it cannot sell them a second time, whatever its difficulties may be. If they are sold, the income from them does not come to the Australian people, to be taxed as it passes from hand to hand. It goes overseas to meet the requirements of exploiters and capitalists in other countries. Internally and externally, our economy is not so good as the Treasurer would lead us to believe it is.

Real difficulties lie ahead in connection with our economic position internally. This Government is not increasing the production of rural commodities, upon which so much of our economy depends and upon which we depend so greatly for the purchase of goods and for meeting our commitments overseas. The Government is not embarking upon the construction or purchase of an Australian overseas shipping line so that we will not be at the mercy of the shipping combines. The Government is not doing any of the things which are essential to increase production at home and to prevent the necessity for increased imports. Simply stated, the economic difficulty facing Australia today is a lack of home produced commodities. The production of the Australian people is inadequate to enable them to meet their overseas obligations. The Government gives permission for an inflow of foreign capital in order, as it says, to increase the production of Australia, but that capital comes to this country in one way only - as an inflow of imports.

I have often heard Government members proclaim that we do not now need to rely, as we have done in the past, upon imports. They say that all kinds of commodities should be manufactured within this country. Let me again quote Staniforth Ricketson, who says that the productive potential that is lying idle in the factories and the fields of this country should be exploited in order to meet our own requirements. Members of the Government have said that, but then, like the Treasurer, they pretend that they can restrict imports and at the same time increase the inflow of foreign capital to this country. This is an absolute impossibility. Overseas capital comes in the form of imports. Restrict imports, eliminate unnecessary imports, and you automatically reduce the flow of capital from other countries - you automatically prevent the mines, factories and industries of this country from becoming the property of overseas exploiters who otherwise ultimately would use those things to dominate not merely the Australian economy but governments that came into power in Australia.

I remember that the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), who is the Minister for Trade and Industry and also the Leader of the Australian Country Party, said that the independence of our people was at the mercy of people in other countries to the extent to which foreign capital controlled our industries, mines, farms and fields. Although the Deputy Prime Minister is not always right, he was right then.

The statement by the Treasurer on the Australian economy only has to be carefully read for it to be seen that it is merely a kind of smokescreen, containing a lot of vague generalities, a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. In reality, the fundamental issues that this country must tackle if it is to become, as it should become, a greater and nobler country, are not to be tackled by the new Australian Treasurer.

Minister for National Development · Farrer · LP

– The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) began his speech by saying: “ Everything in the garden is lovely. Or is it? “ 1 do not know whether the speech that followed was the honorable member’s speech or a speech by Staniforth Ricketson. At least in part it was Staniforth Ricketson’s speech. The honorable member for Scullin said that there was need for an economic stimulus. Where has he been for the last few weeks? Was he here when the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) made his speech in which he detailed four specific areas in which there were soft spots, as he called them? Those areas were housing, motor vehicles, employment and drought relief. He detailed the steps that the Government has taken in order to see that more finance is available and that assistance is given in those areas.

The honorable member ought to know that this stimulus was given by an alteration in the statutory reserve deposit ratio, which will free $125 million; that a new trading bank Farm Development Loan Fund, which will make available another $50 million, was set up; that housing was granted $15 million; and that we have underwritten the drought expenditure of Queensland and New South Wales to the extent of perhaps another $20 million this year. Already there are signs that this action is having the desired effect. One sees a stiffening in all of these areas and particularly in employment. The number of people seeking work is dropping quite steadily. I am convinced that, although there always will be some soft spots in any economy, this action is having the desired effect. The honorable member for Scullin then went on to say - again I think this wat part of Staniforth Ricketson’s address - that there is an urgency behind the need to develop our nation as quickly as possible.

I agree with that entirely. But I believe that, unfortunately, the way in which the honorable member would tackle this problem would have the very opposite effect.

I have sat here in this House for very nearly 17 years and listened to the honorable member ranting and railing against this dreadful thing that he calls foreign capital. I still do not know whether he regards capital from Great Britain as foreign capital. I thought that Australia was part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Our country has been developed in the past by British capital. The United States of America was developed by British capital until the Second World War, when the British had to sell their capital in that country in order to pay for the war. Only in the last two years has the United States, for the first time, provided Australia with a little more capital than Great Britain has provided. However, we have not done too badly. Do honorable members know that 90 per cent, of our development has bean financed by Australian capital? That is not too bad when we remember that we invest 25 per cent, of our gross national product in development. I believe that only one country invests a greater percentage of its gross national product in development, and that is Japan.

We have done pretty well. But Australia is a small nation. We have to bring in capital and knowhow. There are many aspects of industrialisation in which we in Australia are not fully equipped. I take as an example the search for oil. Ten years ago very few people in Australia had the technical knowledge to carry out seismic work. No one had had experience in drilling from a platform at sea. Our development in fields such as this has been carried out by a combination of overseas capital and Australian capital and overseas knowhow and Australian skills. Then there is the size of the investment. Does the honorable member for Scullin realise the amount of money that is needed? I speak only of some of the new mineral finds. The amount of capital required in the next two years to capitalise these discoveries is more than $500 million. That is only for minerals, let alone industry and many other aspects.

So we can do one of two things: We can go ahead at a very slow speed and do the job ourselves. Of course, that would mean that we would have less employment and we would have to reduce our immigration programme because there would not be work for the men when they came here. On the other hand we can have the importation of capital and develop this country in the fantastic way in which it is being developed at the present time. In the field of mineral development we have not done too badly. Even among the iron ore companies there is every type from, on the one hand, companies with 100 per cent. Australian ownership to, on the other hand, companies with 100 per cent, overseas ownership at the present moment. However, the State acts under which these companies operate say that they must make a portion of their equity available to Australians when they get into production.

If anyone is to be blamed for the fact that Australia has not taken a greater share in development, particularly in mining but also in some other fields that overseas people are entering, surely it is we ourselves. What are we doing to provide more money? I have said that we have not done badly; but if we are to go ahead at the same speed, as the honorable member for Scullin wants us to do, we have to do better. How many honorable members hold shares in oil search companies? I believe that it is the duty of every Australian to take up some shares - it may be only a few - in oil search companies. But every time I say that, someone says: “ I bought some shares, but I lost money on them “. Yet people go out to the races and lose money and never complain about it. Only last week I saw that the turnover of the Totalisator Agency Board in Victoria exceeded S2 million in one week for the first time. The Board was proud of that. Goodness knows why. Australians gamble on horses, dogs, poker machines and lotteries for the Sydney Opera House, all of which contribute nothing, or practically nothing, to the development of the country.

Mr James:

– You must have culture.


– I know that some honorable members need their culture improved but I do not think that such gambling is the way to go about it. People who complain about not enough money going into development should look at the tragic sight of good oil search shares being offered for sale at 3d. each and not even attracting a bid. Yet people have the gall to come into this chamber and say. “ Look at this dreadful thing called foreign capital “. Overseas investors are taking the opportunities that we ought to take.

I have said that we are not doing too badly. As for our being exploited by people from overseas, I was interested enough to take out certain figures. Last year the income payable on investment from overseas represented about 5 per cent, on that investment. But, in fact, a considerable amount of this was retained in Australia. The amount that went overseas was far less than that figure. It is interesting to note that the percentage of Australian industry owned overseas is actually dropping. The latest figures available to the Treasury show that the percentage is slightly smaller today than it was a year or two ago. Surely we have achieved much as a result of this overseas investment. We are going through one of the most interesting and exciting periods in the whole history of Australia. I believe that it is far more exciting than even the gold rush days. Let me just mention some of the mineral discoveries to show the fantastic way in which Australia has increased its mineral development and its knowledge of the resources it possesses.

In 1953 known bauxite reserves in Australia were 10,000 tons. That would not fill one modern ship. Today we know that we have at least 1,500 million tons of high grade bauxite. I have heard it said that we probably have something like one-third of the world’s known deposits. Our mineral deposits have been discovered partly through overseas investment; partly by Australians working in co-operation with overseas investors; and partly as a result of work done by the Bureau of Mineral Resources. I have mentioned a figure of 1.500 million tons of high grade bauxite. But we all know that recently a company has discovered another very large deposit of bauxite in the northwest of Western Australia. The company has not yet had time to evaluate that deposit fully. However, it appears to be of higher grade than either the Weipa or Gove deposits and is of the order of those two deposits - perhaps larger than one and smaller than the other. I am sure that we shall see further discoveries not only of bauxite but also of many other minerals.

Let us look at the iron ore scene. In 1960, the known deposits in Australia were 259 million tons. This was considered to be just enough for Australia’s own use during our lifetimes and as a result an embargo on the export of iron ore from Australia had been imposed in 1938. This was eased after work by the Bureau of Mineral Resources at Constance Range and Savage River had shown that larger reserves were available and that we could safely partially lift the export ban and still have sufficient iron ore for our own industry. As we all know, fantastic discoveries have been made since. At one stage, it was said that there were reserves of 15,000 million tons of iron ore, but now the geologists have given up even trying to assess the available reserves. We have already sold for delivery to the Japanese 330 million tons of iron ore to a total value of £1,500 million.

Mr Pollard:

– Was it sold by English or American companies?


– It has been sold by all sorts of companies.

Mr Pollard:

– Why was it not sold by Australian companies?


– Evidently, the honorable member has not been listening. I stated that the volume of capital needed for the development of projects on this scale was so great that it was impossible for it to be provided wholly by Australian companies. As a matter of fact, some of the companies are wholly Australian. Some, such as Mr Newman Iron Ore Co. Ltd., have 50 per cent, of Australian equity and others have large proportions of Australian equity. Not one of the companies operating in Western Australia will not at some time have Australian equity, because the law under which they were given leases requires them to throw open the gates to Australian investment if Australian capital is available.

Mr Pollard:

– Why do they not-


– I ask the honorable member to keep quiet for a moment.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir John McLeay:

– Order! The Minister has the floor.


– Let me now turn to copper. Large discoveries of copper have been made. Apart from the re-opening of the old Cobar workings which are starting to produce copper again, the Mr Isa mine has been extended. Very large deposits of copper have been discovered at Bougainville and there are indications (hat further deposits are available elsewhere in the islands to the north. In recent years, enormous deposits of lead and zinc have been discovered, one at the McArthur River. This is likely to prove to be very large although undoubtedly there are many metallurgical problems to be solved before it is developed. There is also a large reserve of relatively low grade lead ore at Rum Jungle. This will eventually be worked to the benefit of Australia.

Let me also mention oil, which is probably one of the most interesting and exciting fields of mineral discovery in Australia. We all know that overseas companies, in combination with Australian interests, began to take an interest in the search for oil in this country about 1953. Indeed, one company was interested as far back as 1948. But, unfortunately, at that time the Australian Labour Party, which was then in office, had decided on bank nationalisation. The head of the company concerned immediately declared that as certain of its oil interests elsewhere had been confiscated-

Mr Pollard:

– Rubbish.


– I can show the honorable member the quotation if he does not believe me. The head of the company concerned stated that because nationalisation had lost the company a number of its wells in another country it would not take part in the search for oil in Australia since it believed that the same thing would happen here. For a time, drilling for oil in Australia was very slow and haphazard. In 1957, only five wells were drilled. So the Government took active steps to speed up the search, first, by introducing the oil search subsidy scheme under which it subsidises to 30 per cent, or 40 per cent, the cost of drilling. We have also granted all sorts of tax concessions and given practical assistance through the Bureau of Mineral Resources. What has happened as a result? We are now producing oil at Moonie and Alton at the rate of some 10,000 barrels a day. This is a relatively small output, of course. Wells at Barrow Island are on test now and we hope than next month we shall hear announced a decision to bring this field into operation as a producer of oil. The Esso and Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. interests, between them, have discovered enormous gas reserves in Victoria, and also what could be substantial oil reserves. Here, let me quote briefly from the Report on the Orderly Development of Petroleum in Victoria, Australia, which is known as the Hetherington report, so that the House may see the magnitude that these developments could attain. I realise, of course, that one swallow does not make a summer. Nor, for that matter, does one well make an oil field. Hetherington, a fairly conservative man, stated in his report -

The most prospective areas of Victoria for oil and gas are offshore and along a belt onshore within 25 to 50 miles of the coast in the Gippsland, Otway and Bass sedimentary basins. These basins are about 5 per cent, as large as the Western Canada sedimentary basin and if they are as productive as Western Canada an ultimate reserve of 15 trillion cubic feet of gas and 2.5 billion barrels of oil would be expected. There arc reasons to believe that offshore Victoria will be more productive than Western Canada and that ultimate reserves could be up to four times as large as the above figures.

This kind of development is being realised because we have induced overseas knowhow and capital to assist Australian knowhow and capital in developing areas such as this.

I see that my time is nearly up, but perhaps I may run quickly through a few of the other mineral discoveries. The honorable member for Scullin will surely be happy to note that the Western Mining Corporation Ltd., an Australian company, has discovered nickel, one of the very few metals in which Australia was deficient. The company has only just recently intersected a deposit of quite high grade ore, but it believes that the find will turn out to be a good proposition, though it is too early to say much. Here at least is another example of the way in which we are developing the mineral resources of this country to an unparalleled degree. This in turn must increase our exports and the standard of living of Australians. Manganese deposits have recently been discovered. We used to import this metal, but we now have an enormous deposit of our own. No-one will yet say exactly how big it is, but there is no doubt that within a short time we shall be exporting manganese and processed ferro-manganese products. We want to see minerals processed as much as possible in Australia. We do not believe in just exporting raw materials. We believe that processing should be taken as far as possible in this country before the products are exported. It is believed that as much as $4 million a year may come to Australia from the export of manganese, quite apart from the value of the output used in this country.

Let us consider the situation with respect to coal. I recall the day, as I am sure do most other honorable members, when we had to import coal. What a fantastic farce it was for Australia to import coal because of the state of the mines in this country. Today, we are exporting £7 million worth of coal annually and it looks as though, in the not too distant future, we shall earn something like £12 annually from coal exports without in any way depleting our reserves, which look adequate for a very long time to come. Lastly, may I mention uranium. Some time ago, this was a glamour metal, but it then went into the discard completely. It is interesting to note now that the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, which operates the mine at Rum Jungle, has been stockpiling uranium oxide and has some tens of millions of pounds worth available there. The market for uranium is coming back again and I hope that before long there will be a ready sale for uranium oxide again and that perhaps the Mary Kathleen mine may be re-opened at some time in the future. I believe that I have sufficiently demonstrated that it pays us in this country to develop as fast as we can-


– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.


.- I listened with interest but with complete disagreement to the paean of praise to overseas investment delivered by the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn). I grant that certain types of overseas investment can make a valuable contribution to the development of Australia, but I remind the House and the Minister of the projection made by the Vernon Committee in its report that somewhere about 1974 or 1975 the dividends, royalties and other remittances from Australia to overseas will exceed the inflow of capital for Australia’s development. It is true, as the Minister said, that 90 per cent, of Australia’s investment capital is generated within this coun try but I submit that the other 10 per cent, can very well be generated here too and in fact is readily available. Right at this time a matter of £300 million or $600 million is available for investment from statutory reserve deposits. At present, there is an astounding cash inflow into life assurance companies and superannuation funds. No less a person than Sir Maurice Mawby, the Chairman of Directors of Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd., speaking on behalf of Comalco Industries Pty. Ltd., took to task in no uncertain terms Australian financial institutions for their notable reluctance to invest in their own patrimony. In addition, we are paying unnecessarily £200 million or $400 million a year to overseas combines for shipping freight on our exports.

I think the real test in terms of foreign investment can be found in another field, and it is this: We are the last of the Mohicans; we are one of the countries that have failed to impose any control or restriction on overseas investment. Even a country such as India, desperate though it may be for overseas investment, imposes the condition that at least 51 per cent, of the capital of an enterprise will be under native Indian control. That is the test and that is where this Government falls down. This Government will finally be called to task by the electors of Australia because it has shown that it is deficient in a true national consciousness. Australia should be for the Australians and for the people who are prepared to migrate to this country to help in developing it. Why should we dissipate our resources? I venture to say - I speak subject to correction, but I think my figures are right - that nearly 90 per cent, of our iron ore deposits are under the control of overseas companies. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) recently had to come into the field and check certain sales because in terms of unit cost the iron ore was being literally given away, on the basis of current world market figures. The position is even worse that that. When it comes to a little bit of gentle chiselling, these people are selling their Australian production to themselves at cost. This goes for the Japanese in particular. It has been necessary for the Government to fix a figure arbitrarily, a hypothetical profit on which tax could be levied. That is the sort of treatment that we are receiving from these overseas benefactors. We want to sell our products, but we do not want to sell our birthright. Australia is the most notable storehouse or treasure house of mineral wealth in the world today. We should make no mistake about that.

I rose tonight particularly to refer to a matter that is causing concern to the people of New South Wales and of other States. I refer to the special needs of the education system. Australia is only 14th amongst the major democracies - and a dismal 14th at that - in terms of its national expenditure on education. We are a large country with a small population and we must use our manpower to the utmost. The formula for our development is manpower multiplied by brainpower and further multiplied by horsepower. Nothing less than the best education will satisfy the requirements of the ordinary Australian family and the ordinary Australian child. Australia faces tremendous problems. We have problems of development and problems arising from vast distances. We have scarcely takenphysical possession of this huge continent. Therefore, every person must be developed to the absolute limit of his mental capacity.

I had the privilege of being a member of a Labour Government of New South Wales and our record in education was a proud one. The record of the present Askin Government is already dismal and a stark disgrace. It is not merely a disgrace to New South Wales; it is a disgrace to Australia I shall quote from a letter written by Mr. D. Broadfoot of the New South Wales Teachers’ Federation.It was published in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ on 30th March last. Mr. Broadfoot said -

Lack of accommodation, the decision not to proceed with new schools for 1967, and the lack of any indication that the decision will soon be changed pose a threat to the whole structure of our system of secondary education. . . .

He went on to say -

To blame a previous Administration -

He was referring, of course, to the Renshaw Administration and before that the Heffron and other Labour Administrations - for an existing situation is rather like crying over spilt milk. Indeed it may honestly be said that for many years past successive Governments in N.S.W. have conscientiously applied themselves to tie problems of education spending as generously as possible from the funds available to them.

The dilemma that faces Mr. Cutler is not a legacy from the previous Labour Administration. Rather it it one thatis the result of continued refusal by the Commonwealth Treasury to recognise the State’s needs in education.

The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ in an editorial on 11th April, continued in the same vein. It referred, first, to a conference in 1963 between the Ministers and Director of Education from each of the six States, which sent a report to the former Prime Minister. The editorial referred to the terms of the report and in particular to the statement that there was a shortage of school buildings, an insufficient number of adequately trained teachers and limitation in the provision of equipment and supplies. Referring to the present Minister for Education in New South Wales, the editorial said -

The Minister will never solve the problem by making out it does not exist. He will certainly not help to forward his case with the Loan Council in Canberra.

It also said -

Only a vigorous building plan launched immediately can save some of our biggest and best High schools.

Within my own constituency I have seven high schools and more than 35 primary schools. I am particularly alarmed at current developments within theCity of Greater Wollongong. The Minister for Education repeats, like some magical cantrip: “ We have never spent more on education “. The hard truth is that present expenditure is utterly and completely inadequate. I know from my previous experience in the State Parliament that we were able to keep one jump, and no more, ahead of the growing educational needs of the children of New South Wales by carefully planned annual construction programmes. But last year the Askin Government chose deliberately to abandon a planned system of school construction for one whole year. The result will be cumulative. It will repeat itself from year to year and the end result can only be the destruction of a system of education of which New South Wales had reason to be moderately proud. I shall quote from certain papers that have been given to me by people within my constituency who are members of the Parents and Citizens Associations of two major high schools, one at Berkeley and the other at Port Kembla. Each of these high schools serves a very large proportion of the migrant population. Approximately 60 per cent, of the students of Berkeley High School are children of migrants, while about 40 per cent of the students at the Port Kembla High School have migrant parents. This Government therefore has a special responsibility because the particular problem is essentially one of its creation.

The effect of immigration on those two schools beggars the imagination. I have before me some statistics prepared by members of the Parents and Citizens Association at Port Kembla. It appears that at the Port Kembla High School there are now 18 actual classrooms although 32 classes are enrolled. To cope with the situation classes are accommodated in such places as a library annexe, a staff room, a storeroom, a girls’ change room, a group study room, a converted locker room and an assembly hall. To make the staff room available it was necessary to transfer staff members to the girls’ supervisor’s office. These facts reveal an appalling situation. It is not possible at the present time to allocate a home room to any class in the school, and I have the assurance of this Association that the expected enrolment for 1967 cannot possibly be accommodated.

At Berkeley High School a more direct approach was made, a resolution being adopted by the staff of the school. At this

Stage I would like to pay a tribute to the staff of both schools. They are competent, interested and industrious and they work under outstanding headmasters. The situation at Berkeley High School is that in a school designed for 800 pupils there is a current enrolment of 1,020. There are 14 floating classes with no permanent rooms. Some science classes are being taught in preparation rooms. Specialist rooms, urgently needed for the proper implementation of the Wyndham proposals, are being used as ordinary classrooms. A further enrolment of 300 is expected next year, which will make proper teaching almost impossible. This is the final note in a letter I received from a representative of the teaching staff at this school -

Since the proper education of the children of the community is a prime responsibility of Government, we ask that the matters referred to be given the right priority, and that the funds necessary to provide and maintain the extensions be made available.

What is the attitude of the present Government? We know of the obvious and well publicised interest of the former Prime

Minister in education and we might assume from it that certain forms of education were given a pretty high priority in the planning and thinking of this Government. Let me quote an article which appeared in today’s issue of the “ Canberra Times “. The hero of the piece is Senator Gorton, whose portfolio is well known to all. He spoke at a public meeting on education in Melbourne on Sunday. The newspaper article said -

A reduction in the Australian standard of living was necessary to devote adequate funds to education, Senator Gorton said last night. Speaking at a public meeting on education, the Senator - Minister in charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education - qualified this by saying, “This is the Australian standard of living apart from education, which I consider a part of the standard of living. “ This money might have to come out of that spent on liquor or cigarettes,” he added. “ We must bear in mind here that money alone is not necessarily the answer in providing facilities which money alone can buy.”

Commonwealth finance for education grew year by year, but the Commonwealth could not step into education in the way some people called for, because of constitutional stress on education as a State function.

We receive cold comfort too from the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon), Mr. Speaker. Problems arising from migration are not confined solely to education. They intrude also into the field of local government in my constituency, in which there are three major migrant hostels with more than 2,000 migrants, although no contribution whatever is made by the Commonwealth towards solving problems of local government finance created by this remarkable influx of people. The Treasurer said in repiy to my representations on behalf of the Council of the City of Greater Wollongong for a grant in aid -

While fully appreciating the problems which are encountered by local authorities in areas which are growing as rapidly as Wollongong, I must again point out that these authorities are the constitutional responsibility of the State Governments concerned. While it is true that the Commonwealth Government has provided financial assistance for certain special projects within the States, this assistance has been provided direct to a State Government in response to a request from the Government concerned.

So much for the immediate situation, but that will not be the final one, because the position is becoming nothing short of a major scandal. Let us consider the situation in other parts of New South Wales. Wa have it on the assurance of the New South Wales Teachers Federation that no fewer than 27 additional high schools, which have been planned and the construction of which has been abandoned, will be needed when the secondary schools re-open in 1967. I refer again to the pamphlet entitled “ 1965 Survey of Secondary Schools “ prepared by the Teachers Federation of New South Wales-

The teacher shortage is manifest in the following aspects of secondary staffing:

The proportion of 4-year trained teachers is still below half - approximately 46 per cent.

The number of 2-year trained teachers taking 4th form and Sth year classes is increasing - approximately 1,450 this year compared wilh 1,200 last year.

Returning to my home territory 1 find that the following information is contained in a document prepared by the Illawarra and North Illawarra Teachers Associations -

In Primary and Infants Schools there are: - over 5850 pupils in classes of 38 or more; over 3650 pupils in classes of 40 or more; over 1200 pupils in composite classes of 31 or more.

In len High Schools there are: - over 280 subject classes of 38 or more pupils; over 135 subject classes of 40 or more pupils; in the senior grades (i.e. forms 4, 5, 6) over 100 subject classes of 26 or more pupils.

That information gives the situation in Greater Wollongong. Of particular importance to New South Wales and of great interest to education in Australia is the Wyndham system of education which provides for a six year term of secondary education. The Wyndham scheme started off with this notable premise: “ Some form of secondary education is the birthright of every Australian child.” There could not be. Sir, a finer sentiment. Formerly fewer than 20 per cent, of the students who were enrolled in first year at New South Wales High Schools completed the full course. Latterly, because of the importance of the Wyndham plan and because parents are quickly appreciating its merits, the proportion has risen to 30 per cent. Of course the proportion will be even greater in the years to come. The increase will not simply follow the normal growth of population but will also reflect the cumulative effect of the extra number of pupils staying at school for the extra 6th year. This will lead to an impossible situation unless an urgent approach to the matter is made by the New

South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Government.

It was correctly stated by Alfred Deakin that ultimately the States would be tied to the financial chariot wheels of the Federal Government, The system of uniform taxation has proved the accuracy of that prophecy. The money that is collected by the Commonwealth Government belongs to the people of Australia. They are entitled to their fair share of it, and the Opposition in this Parliament and the Australian Labour Party generally will continue to agitate to ensure that the children of Australia receive their birthright and a fair deal.


.- I rise to make reference to what I believe to be quite forward developments as far as the economy is concerned in the rural sector. The decision of the Government recently to establish a Farm Development Loan Fund for primary producers will make a valuable contribution to the advancement of Australian farmers. It is, I believe, a great break through at a time when primary industry needs help in order to maintain and expand economic production. The Government believes it is desirable to provide the farmers with greater access to immediate and long term capital for development purposes through private banks and Government trading banks. Under the Farm Development Loan Fund scheme the trading hanks will set up accounts with the Reserve Bank containing a total of $50 million as an initial amount for this special purpose.

In addition, of course, $21 million was added to the existing Term Loan Funds recently for the purpose of assisting, in particular, primary industry. I want to speak about the drought aspect before dealing in some detail with the Farm Development Loan Fund. There seems to be in New South Wales and, I understand, in Queensland, some misunderstanding concerning the provision of special funds for farmers in necessitous circumstances. In this House from time to time there have been very clear statements - statements made as far back as last October by the Prime Minister of the day - announcing progressive and forward steps to look after the interests of drought victims. Unfortunately, we find that there is a good deal of misunderstanding in this field.

The statement on the economy made by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) in this House a fortnight ago made particular reference to schemes which will look after the interests of primary producers who cannot obtain bank finance because of their particular position from an equity point of view. These schemes are being administered by the States of New South Wales and Queensland, and the action taken is quite revolutionary. There is no precedent for it. The provision of funds through this channel will enable primary producers in drought areas, where there was a declared drought within Pastures Protection Board districts at any time since 1st January 1965, to obtain loans of up to £10,000 at a concessional rate of interest as low as 3 per cent., with repayment over 10 years and no repayments in the first two years.

There has been a good deal of criticism of the Government’s attention to the effects of the drought on primary industry. The House will recall that the Opposition was very critical of the initial announcements by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) regarding this matter. I believe that action taken provides primary producers with the means of moderating the drought problem. There is no question but that a great deal more will have to be done if the drought continues, and the vast problem of restocking is something that cannot be solved overnight. But it is important that primary industry should have a clear understanding of what is being done.

I now return to the subject of the special Farm Development Loan Fund which has been set up. Primary producers will welcome this new credit facility, which inevitably must lead to higher productivity and a situation in which farmers are able to meet more effectively future drought problems. Some of the praiseworthy aspects of the new Farm Development Loan Fund scheme are that advances will be available for long terms - 15 years, and in some cases more than 15 years. This will greatly assist farmers and particularly, young farmers. It will enable a reorganisation of many properties where it is deemed necessary that there should be an amalgamation of farms and that sort of thine. The rate of interest is the special concessional rate applied to primary producers. This, too, is a commendable move.

The trading banks have complied with the Government’s wishes to provide this special facility and I have no doubt that within the next few weeks every trading bank in the rural areas of Australia wi’l have a clear knowledge of this new scheme and will be able to advise interested primary producers about it. There was some suggestion that this special measure was related directly to the drought. This, of course, is not true. The scheme will be applicable equally to the ordinary everyday aspects of primary industry. Naturally, special consideration will be given in drought areas, but it is intended to serve the interests of primary industries on a broad scale.

One of the heartening things about this new scheme is the fact that young farmers who are anxious to make their own way on the land will have the chance of approaching banks to obtain finance for the purchase of land, the development of the land, and the whole range of aspects that are involved in developing a farm property. This, of course, is much more practicable when they are able to obtain loans of this kind over a long term. For many years there has been a demand for this kind of arrangement to assist young farmers. I am sure that the young men who qualify through agricultural colleges, through the junior farmers’ movement and through many other spheres, will take great advantage of this opportunity.

I believe that it is timely for us to think in terms of the importance of the primary industry sector when we review the economy. Primary industry has done a remarkable job in the past 15 years. In fact, there has been an increase of something like two thirds over that period in total output, and the rate of increase per year has averaged about 4.3 per cent. If we assess this and relate it to the position of other countries, we find that the Australian scene is a very heartening one indeed. In Europe the rate of increase has ranged up to 6 per cent, and in the United States it has ranged up to 7.3 per cent., but of course conditions in Australia are very different from those experienced in those countries. The effect of this, of course, is to give primary industry a greater overall economic strength. But the great disability confronting the primary producers is that this has barely arrested the cost rises that primary producers face year by year. A very substantial proportion of this improvement over the 1 5 years has been offset by domestic cost rises, and there is, of course, no way in which the primary producers are able to pass on these increasing costs because their returns are determined very largely by world market prices and by other factors which are well beyond the control of an Australian Government and well beyond the control of the farmers themselves.

I believe that it is timely for us to look at this problem in a practical way. lt is reasonable to assume that a similar trend in the next 15 years would present the rural sector with a very great problem indeed. There are undoubtedly many avenues that can provide means of cushioning the effect of this trend, but it is not a simple matter. It is one, I believe, that is worthy of very special attention by the Government. When we think in terms of farm development, of course, we must relate it not only to the world pattern of trading but also to the advances being made scientifically and in other directions. All of this gets back to the fact that economic viability is a vital consideration. Farming enterprises can succeed only if there is sufficient capital and sufficient incentive. Good management comes from the opportunity to do a job of work in a way that produces a profitable result. This can only be achieved if action is taken along the lines that the Government recently announced. That is, by ensuring that the farming sector does have enough capital to do a worthwhile job.

I should like to refer to some other important factors which I believe are worthy of special mention. In recent times the employment situation has improved tremendously. This is very heartening, lt is a complete answer to the pessimists and the critics who for a long time have challenged the Government in regard to its overall approach to budgeting and the like. While we have a developing economy and have the responsibility of meeting a huge defence commitment we will have the problem of finding sufficient finance for our needs. Because of the remarkable upsurge in production, particularly in regard to minerals, Australia’s future is very heartening indeed. This Government must be given credit for very good management, particularly during the last two and a half years.

The undertakings that were given by the Government at the last election have been honoured and have proved to be a very sound approach to the management of the nation’s economy.

While we have progress at the economic level and as we meet our commitments in various directions, there are sections of the community that face problems. 1 say quite clearly that the position of the pensioners is not an enviable one. Undoubtedly this is a sector at which the Government will have to look very carefully as soon as possible. Likewise, persons who are on fixed incomes, such as the recipients of superannuation benefits, face a problem. The problem is not dissimilar from that which confronts the primary producer and which I mentioned a little earlier. All these people find themselves in a marketing, income or wages situation which shows no rise even though there is norma] growth within the economy.

On the other hand, there are matters that we in Australia tend to take for granted a little too much. One is the fact that in regard to taxation the people of Australia are placed in a very favourable position when compared with the people of other countries. The Government has been able to hold taxation at a level which compares more than favourably with that of most other countries. This is a tremendous accomplishment. In 1963-64 taxation per capita in Australia was approximately .£ 1 80. During the same period the corresponding figure in Canada was the equivalent of £A230, in Great Britain $A210, and in the United States of America £A383. lt is clear from these figures I have quoted that the position in Australia is quite favourable.

One of the great problems to which we should pay more attention is that of rural development and decentralisation. The word “ decentralisation “ is worn out. lt has been overworked, particularly in the Commonwealth and State Parliaments and in provincial centres where there is a great clamour for more to be done in this direction. It is reasonable to assume that unless we can produce an answer to the tremendous growth of the cities we will not see the balanced development that this nation deserves. Figures disclose that the growth of Sydney every 10 years produces the equal of another Adelaide. Growth in the city of Sydney each year is at least equal to the size of any of our provincial cities. If this development in metropolitan areas continues without relative growth in other regions, ultimately we will be faced wim a great economic problem in the servicing of the metropolitan areas and there will be a still wider gap in the ability of the nation to provide funds for roads, water, electricity and the like. So many views have been expressed under the heading of decentralisation that people are sick and tired of hearing the word.

However, we cannot leave the matter there simply because we have failed to produce an answer. The Opposition might ask: “ Why does not the Government do something about it? “ I remind honorable members that Australian governments of all political colours have attempted to tackle this problem but thus far have failed to produce a conclusive answer. I believe that the fundamental need is to find a new approach to Commonwealth anu State relations. A little later this year the State Premiers and the Treasurers will visit Canberra to seek loan funds and tax reimbursements to continue the major public works programmes. Most of the public works that are financed by loan funds are within the jurisdiction of the States. As I mentioned earlier, these embrace the provision of roads, bridges, electricity and ports. Unless we are able to produce a new formula, not in respect of the allocation of funds, but in respect of the relative importance of works programmes, we will run into serious difficulty within the next decade. That certainly would be a tremendous blow to the progress of the nation. Whilst on the one hand there is excellent management of the economy, if on the other hand the very precious funds that we have at our disposal are channelled in directions which do not become revenue producing and are not developmental in character, we will not achieve a proper result in the long run. This is a field that requires a lot of special attention. I urge not only the Commonwealth Government but also the State Governments to adopt a more realistic approach to the balanced development of the nation.

I compliment the Treasurer upon his exposition on the economy. The pattern unfolded in the Minister’s statement gives us great confidence for both the immediate and the more distant future. We are a fortunate nation indeed. I believe that Australia is destined to go a long way towards attaining a standard of living for our people that will be the envy of many other nations. We can take a great deal of pride in the fact that good management has laid a sound foundation for the situation that we enjoy today.


– The honorable member for Cowper (Mr. Robinson) said that the word “ decentralisation “ had virtually outlived its usefulness. He said that no government had tackled this problem realistically. The honorable member has not been in this House for very long. Apparently he has not studied the work of the Labour Government that went out of office in 1949. Otherwise, he would have been aware of the calling together of the ministries of each State by the Labour Government led by Ben Chifley to deal with this problem, as a result of which a plan was evolved. The Labour Government that was defeated in 1949 made it quite clear to the States that decentralisation was a matter that had to be faced on a joint Federal and State basis with the Federal Government being prepared to provide the necessary finance if the burden of cost on the States became too great. It was due to the effort of the Labour Government that the woolen mills at Wangaratta and the big Email factory at Orange, which now employs between 1,600 and 1,800 people, were established. If the Menzies Government had continued me policies of the Labour Government instead of shelving them we would not now be faced with the problems that confront us. These problems are very real and they will become more acute as each year passes.

I was interested in the remarks tonight of the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn). Honorable members opposite who have taken part in the debate referred repeatedly to what they call the four weak spots in the economy. I do not agree that these are the weak spots and I join issue first with the Minister. As his first weak spot in the economy he selected the motor car industry. This claim would be amusing if it did not indicate the tragic nature of this Government’s planning. Back in 1960- 61 when the credit squeeze was imposed we were told that the motor car industry was a luxury industry. We were told that activity in tie industry would have to be restricted. As a result we saw the number of new car registrations drop from 224,000 in 1959-60 to 215;000 in 1961-62. Tonight the Minister told us that this industry is one of the soft spots in the economy, notwithstanding that about 430,000 new vehicles are being registered annually. It is amusing to try to appreciate the way this Government arranges matters. It is following the pattern it has followed ever since it came to office. It never makes up its mind about a matter until the exigency is upon it. That is why when the history of this Government is written it will prove to be the blackest history of any Commonwealth Government that has enjoyed a long term of office. Not one plan indicating advanced thinking has ever emanated from this Government. In the paper presented on 31st March the Treasurer, dealing with this important matter of the economic situation, said -

The rate of growth in demand did in fact ease during 1965.

But he did not say why this was so. Under this Government there has been a tapering off of everything planned by the former Labour Government. This has meant that the standard of living of Australian workers has been reduced. What concerns me most about the planning of this Government is the fact that, whether the Government recognises it or not, we are developing in this country a two unit wage system. Either the wife goes out to work in order to supplement her husband’s income or overtime is worked by the husband. In many instances men are trying to do two jobs. All these things reduce the productivity standard in the community. Once the two unit system of employment becomes general, the standard of living is reduced. The report for 196-3 of the Department of Labour and National Service shows that 32.9 per cent, of married women between the ages of 20 and 44 are working. Also, 23.5 per cent, of married women between the ages of 45 and 64 are working. As far back as 1961 married women accounted for 43 per cent, of the female work force. So, under this Government the situation has developed that in order merely to retain present living standards, let alone improve them, a man must work overtime or have a second job or else his wife must work in order to’ supplement his income.

Why is this happening? Let us briefly trace the history of what has happened since this Government came to office. In 1953 the present Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), who was then Minister for Labour and National Service, argued strongly against retaining the C series index, which for 30 years had been the standard used in fixing the basic wage. A new system of basic wage fixation was introduced with the setting up of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I am not attacking the Commission. It was given a job to do. In 1953 the Commission increased the basic wage by 5s. Od. a week. In 1956 the basic wage was increased by a further 10s. Od. a week, which was an amount about equivalent to the amount that would have been granted had the C series index been used. In 1957 the basic wage was increased by 10s. Od. a week. In 1958 it was increased by 5s. Od. a week and in 1959 by 15s. Od. a week. The 1959 increase of 15s. Od. included only about 2s. Od. to take care of the upward trend in prices year by year. In 1960 following a review by the Commission no increase was granted. In the 1961 hearing the Commission laid down certain principles. I think it is well to remind ourselves occasionally of the findings of this Commission that deals with the living standards of the people. One of the things that the Commission said in 1961 has been lost sight of by this Government. In its judgment the Commission said -

A suggestion has been made that had costs in Australia been lower the export of manufactured goods may have been greater. It is, of course, riot possible to reach any Arm conclusion on this proposition. If there were any truth in this suggestion it would be a matter of balancing the desire of this community to maintain a just and reasonable standard of living for employees against a need to increase the export of manufactures. Taken to its extreme it might be postulated that a severe reduction of wages might lead to a reduction of costs and therefore an ability to export more. On the other hand, such a reduction would have such a devastating effect on our internal consumption that unit costs would inevitably go up and it is highly speculative whether exports would increase.

Here is the relevant feature which this Government loses sight of -

All in all, we agree with the view that the more important thing is for secondary industry lo have a buoyant internal market in order that unit costs may be reduced and thereby make it possible for our manufactures to be sold more cheaply, lt is also, incidentally, by no means clear to what extent our export of manufactures may not be inhibited or controlled by international cartels.

This Government has never paid any attention to that judgment. Our best market is our internal market. Gradually over the years our internal market has been reduced so far as purchasing power is concerned. All that the 1961 decision of the Commission achieved was to restore purchasing power to the May 1960 level by adding 12s. a week to the basic wage. In its 1961 judgment the Commission said -

Having therefore considered the standards of the seven basic wages of the last decade-

Between 1950 and 1961- we regard as most appropriate for present adoption and for future maintenance the standard of 1960. lt follows from what we have said on the subjects of capacity, standards, and productivity that the new basic wage-

The judges were dealing wilh the productivity basic wage - the standard of which will in our expectation and hope be maintained for some time, combines in the result our conclusions on fundamental factors in a three-fold way in that firstly it is fixed at the highest amount the capacity of the economy allows, secondly it adopts as a standard that set by the basic wage of 1960 and thirdly it takes account of productivity increases up to and including I9S9-60.

In other words, it was up to June 1960. Honorable members will recall that at that point of time the economy of this country was at its most buoyant level. In fact, the economy was so buoyant that this Government believed that it had to be cut back. The working people, the Government considered, were getting into too strong a financial position and so, from 1961 onwards, the drought set in so far as wages were concerned.

As I have said, the basic wage was fixed at £13 16s., and 12s. was added to take it up to £14 8s. in order to restore its value to the level at which it was in June 1960. Surely there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that the consumer price index was introduced into this country with all the support that the Government could give to the move. The Government wanted to get rid of the C series index which had been used as the measuring stick for assessing what the basic wage should be from the middle 1930’s until 1953. But the Government knew that the trade union movement would continue to use the C series index as a measuring stick for assessing what the basic wage should be from year to year. The Government also knew that over the years until 1959 the Commission did in point of fact use the C series index as a measuring stick when assessing the amount by which the basic wage should be increased. The Government then decided to eliminate this measuring stick and lo introduce in its stead the consumer price index. As a result, the Commission said this in paragraph 5 of its 1961 decision -

For the specific reasons set out in the judgment we consider that in February next the only issue in regard to the basic wage should be why the money wages fixed as a result of our decision should not be adjusted in accordance with any change in the Consumer Price Index and for the purpose of deciding that issue the order giving effect to the decisions hereby announced will also provide for the adjournment of the application of the unions for increase of the basic wages under the Metal Trades Award to Tuesday, 20th February 1962, in Melbourne, when such subsubmissions thereon as are desired lo be made will be heard.

As from the publication of that decision until 1965, the Commission placed the onus upon the employers to show each February that the basic wage should not be increased at least by an amount equal to any increase that had taken place in the consumer price index. What happened? For two long years prices did not rise by as much as 2s. That was the result of shifting from the unions the responsibility of fighting for improvements and placing on the employers the onus of defending and justifying their actions if they allowed prices to rise. This Government stood by and watched all this. I believe it applauded the 1965 decision which set aside the 1961 decision. In my view, this was the commencement of the complete breaking down of wage standards in Australia. The present Treasurer was Minister for Labour and National Service during the years about which I am speaking. He was the Minister in charge of the Department which presented the Government’s case to the Commission yet, at 31st March this year, when the basic wage case was before the Commission, the Treasurer said not one word about his hopes concerning the state of the workers pay envelope during the next 12 months.

By its majority decision of 1965, this same Commission laid down new principles. It refused the unions’ claim for an increase in the basic wage based upon the increase in the consumer price index. And I remind the House that as far back as June 1965 the consumer price index was at a level which justified the payment of a basic wage of £16 3s. in the six capital cities. The Government wonders why it has troubles in the Post Office and in all Commonwealth departments. The reason is that the wages of all Commonwealth employees are pegged to a base of £15 8s. a week when the consumer price index suggests that the base should be £16 12s. The Government wonders why we are getting what the Treasurer has described as this weak spot in the economy so far as purchasing power is concerned. This weak spot is developing because the Government is extracting from the pay envelopes of the workers an amount which would enable them to live at the comfortable standard which was set in 1961. That is the result of the tapering off about which the Minister talks and about which the Government proposes to do just nothing at this stage.

It is of little use for the Minister for National Development to talk in the way he did tonight about the production of iron ore, bauxite or any other metal. What counts is the amount of the right type of metal into the pay envelopes of the workers - the type of metal that will allow them again to live at the standard which they enjoyed in May 1960. Meanwhile, what has happened regarding margins? In 1954, the economy could stand an increase to 2i times the 1937 margin. By 1959, it could stand an increase of only 28 per cent. By 1963, the increase granted was only 10 per cent. In 1965, we got the real insult - an increase of li per cent. That is the evidence of the tapering off in wage standards during the lifetime of this Government. It has completely destroyed wage standards.

Of course, the Government is faced with a serious situation due to the action of the employers in granting over award payments. These are being given because the employers no longer regard the Commission as a proper wage fixing authority. They go outside the wage fixing authority set up by the Government and are now giving workers wage justice in the form of huge over award pay ments. This situation represents a blot on the industrial legislation passed by this Government. If the Government does not overhaul its industrial legislation, the weak spot about which it is now talking will become a wet spot which will grow larger and larger in the years that lie ahead.

The continual reduction of wage standards cannot go on. As I have said, the first increase was equal to two and a half times the 1937 margin. On the second occasion, it was only 28 per cent, of the margin. By 1963, the increase dropped to 10 per cent, of the margin. Then there was a further drop to only li per cent., and the basic wage was not varied, even though the President of the Commission said that there should be an increase of at least 16s. quite apart from any increase of margins that might have been due.

If the Treasurer could only understand, he would realise that the weak spot about which he talks is due entirely to the fact that for the last 12 months the Government has reduced by £1 a week the wages of all workers other than those to whom the employers have made over award payments. In other words, the Government has reduced the living standards of the workers by the equivalent of £1 a week ever since the 1965 decision was published. I ask the Government to mark my words. If it does not stop the drift the employers themselves will destroy the authority set up by the Government because, irrespective of what the Commission has to say, the employers will make over award payments and in the long run the economy will suffer. The Minister has spoken about a dampening down. It is not a question of housing. The difficulty arises from the reduction of the amount that goes into the pay envelope of the worker each week.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

.- It is worth while reflecting for a few moments upon the statement that was made by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon). The proposal he outlined was designed basically to give a short term quick stimulus to an economy which has suffered from the severe general effects of a most debilitating drought. Before commenting in detail upon the Treasurer’s statement, let us examine a few of the facts concerning the average weekly earnings of the employed male unit in Australia, to which the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) has referred. It is always worth while to have a look at the picture as it is and not as honorable members opposite would attempt to paint it. The actual situation can be discerned very clearly from looking at the publication “ Wage Rates and Earnings “ put out by the Bureau of Census and Statistics. If we look at Table 3 on page 14 of that publication we find the average weekly earnings per employed male unit. The statistics for the employed male unit, of course, take into account the proportion of females employed in each State. If we consider the figures shown in this table and the movements in the average weekly earnings over the last few years we see that the rise in the average weekly earnings, for example from December 1964 to December 1965, has been about $3 per unit. In the previous year it was something of the same order - $3.10. In the year previous to that it was $3. What the honorable member for Blaxland forgets is that this rise in the average weekly earnings per employed male unit has shown little relationship to judgments concerned with basic wage rises. Therefore, a case concerned with wages and the basic wage standard does not have as much relationship to the take home pay of each worker as the honorable member would like to imply. That is the actual situation.

Furthermore - and this is the remarkable thing about this factor - this rise of $3 per employed male unit has occurred in a year in which we have gone through a most debilitating and far reaching drought which has had greater secondary effects than almost any other drought this country has had to sustain. The secondary effects of the drought are the principal matters which induced the Treasurer to make his statement. The secondary effects became clear last year in the general level of business and economic activity in the two States of New South Wales and Queensland. The Treasurer’s techniques for applying a short term stimulus to this down turn have been most flexible. I think they have been more flexible than those which have been employed previously. There has been a sectorial approach particularly to those States and areas suffering the effects of the drought.

In considering the situation I think we have also to bear in mind that while the down turn has been intercepted much more quickly and much more effectively than ever before, out sights in this regard have themselves been raised. We have shown that we are not willing to sustain a level of unemployment that was sustained previously in the Australian economy. Let me give honorable members an example. This Government intercepted a rise in the level of unemployment before unemployment had reached 3 per cent, of the work force. In fact, the maximum it had attained was about 2.8 per cent, of the work force. In other words, this a the bottom of the situation which we intend to improve. A few years ago it would have been the height to which we would have tried to climb. The Government’s measures through the new savings bank arrangements for housing, the new loan arrangement for housing in certain States, drought relief to cure unemployment and the new arrangements for long term lending with respect to the rural sector, have intercepted the down turn earlier than ever before in the history of this country, and the down turn has been intercepted more effectively than ever before. The Treasurer and the Government that have done this deserve some credit.

What has in fact happened? We learned last year that housing was declining. I am not going to talk in terms of the levels of housing or the numbers of houses being built; I shall talk in terms of the changes in the amount of the loans which were approved for housing in the various Stales. If we look at the Reserve Bank data, which gives a fair indication of the amount of money available for housing and of loans approved for new housing, we find that a decline began to set in around October or September last year. There was a variation in some States, the decline occurring in either the public sector or the private sector, but in general terms the decline did occur at about this period. The Government intercepted this decline to such an extent that by December last year the loans approved for new housing had already begun to climb beyond those approved in previous years. In other words the down turn began to be intercepted before the end of the last calendar year.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– Why did noi the

Government act earlier?

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– There are variations in an economy. Planners may not realise this, but an economy does not move in a straight line. It should be clear that it does have variations. There are such things as seasonal factors. In my own State the seasonal factors are larger than in any other State in Australia. We know this and we also know that the seasonal factors which cause these variations have themselves been decreasing in number.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– The honorable member must admit that the Liberal Party has a stop and go policy.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– lt has not a stop and go policy. It has a flexible policy which applies variations where they need to be applied. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) comes from a State that has a low level of seasonal employment, in which there is little variation in seasonal activity and where there are not great variations in personal income due to changes in rural conditions. If the honorable member does not understand that the changes in conditions due to rural down turn are quite massive in both New South Wales and Queensland, we can only be thankful that he is on the Opposition benches and does not have the responsibility for intercepting these situations.

We have considered changes in housing. They are significant because the housing industry is a great employer of labour in the economy. If a man has the problem of being out of work for a short period a new housing programme is a very effective way of placing him quickly in employment. It is a method of building up the general level of economic activity in certain provincial areas and in rural towns and cities which depend indirectly upon these areas. This, in fact, is what has been done. However, there is one factor which worries me a little. It concerns the $15 million loan for housing.

Mr Cope:

– It is only peanuts.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– It is appropriate to the conditions. If we do not want to cause excessive inflation and hurt people on lower incomes this is the correct thing to do. It will be found that the decline was greatest in the public sector of housing. That was the sector which seemed to decline more in New South Wales than in most of the other States. There is one thing about the allocation of this S15 million which rather worries me. It may be that I do not understand the position. I should have thought that about $6 million of the $15 million would have been applied to New South Wales. There may be sound reasons for this not being done. The Treasurer obviously has data available to him which is not available to me. But on the figures which are available showing the variation in housing approvals for each State, I should have thought that New South Wales would have gained a larger proportion of that money. I know that in my own State of Queensland we had a down turn in the economy which appeared to be due not to housing problems but to other factors. Nevertheless one of the ways in which the economy was stimulated was by assisting housing activities, and the economy is in fact now being stimulated in that way. Of course this means that men are being placed in employment. It is in this sense that I think the Government’s policy in this regard ought to be considered. It is true also, as some have written, that the general level of consumer demand has been a little patchy. One cannot judge this very precisely because the data available to measure variations in consumer demand is a little late. It is not available for as many areas as one would desire. However, from details which one can obtain from retail trader associations in the various capital cities, consumer demand seems to have been a little patchy. When we bear in mind the measures which the Government has brought into operation, which will apply in the short term, and that there will be a basic wage adjustment not very long distant, both of which factors become stimulants to consumer demand, we see that there should be a significant rise in consumer demand in the near future. What the Government is doing now is designed to create a stimulant in the short term. The basic wage adjustment will stimulate it further in the long term.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– Are you forecasting an increase in the basic wage?

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– I would expect there would be.

Mr Cope:

– Would the honorable member repeat that?

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– Could the honorable member for Watson not understand what I said, or was he a little surprised? The Opposition likes to pose always as the only party concerned with raising standards of living and raising wages. It might be a little surprised to learn that there are people on this side of the chamber who are more sensitive to the rights of the working man and to ordinary wage levels. All the forces of movement in Australian politics do not reside on the reactionary Opposition benches. It is we who have caused wages to rise more quickly and higher than ever before in the Australian economy. We are proud of this and hope that they will rise even further.

There is one further thing that ought to be considered. I refer to the general attitude of the Treasurer to the economy which has been portrayed in his statement. The Treasurer indicated a very flexible attitude and said that he would have a sectoral approach to the economy. I hope that in the Budget to come down later this year there will be movements in the level of social services. One would expect that there would be. Some States depend more on movements in social services than others. The States represented by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) depend less on social services than some of the other States, such as my own. They may not understand this. This is an interesting facet. It is an interesting reflection on the structure of populations in various States. This is quite important. If we look at Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, the smaller States, and consider the general level of income which the people in those States have to spend, in other words the general level of disposable income, we find that they depend more upon social services to simulate demand than do the other States.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– That is not right.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– I will lend the honorable member my slide rule if he wishes and he can see what he can do about it. I will refer to a couple of figures which the honorable member may dispute. They reflect the situation which has obtained over a number of years. For example, in 1963-64, of the disposable income avail able to create demand in New South Wales, 8 per cent, came from cash social services. In Victoria the figure was a little over 7 per cent. In South Australia it was a little over 8 per cent. For the three other States the figures were 9.8 per cent, in Queensland, 10.2 per cent, in Western Australia and 9.75 per cent, in Tasmania.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– What do you mean by disposable income?

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– Disposable income is income which is available to spend as one wishes.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– This is a new term.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– The honorable member should ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) to explain it to him. lt is a very simple term. It is quite an important term to understand in relation to raising the level of the standard of living of ordinary people. But that might be for the honorable member a new way of looking at things. So we have this situation in which Queensland depends more upon these factors than do some other States.

There is another way in which this matter can be viewed. The contribution by the Commonwealth Government by way of cash social services to the disposable income in each State has been increasing. The Opposition tries to portray the Government and its supporters as being rather hard hearted people who are insensitive to social justice, but when such statements are measured there is no meaning to them. In fact they are incorrect. For example, consider the year 1958-59 - and it is not a year I pick just because it is a suitable year - we find that the contribution of social services to the disposable income in New South Wales was 8 per cent. It has not changed much since then. In Victoria the figure was down to 6.9 per cent, and now it is something over 7 per cent. In Queensland it was 8.6 per cent, and it has now risen to nearly 10 per cent. In fact, Queensland has benefited more from this contribution than has any other State.

Mr Cope:

– That is because of the unemployment in Queensland.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– Not in 1958-59.

Mr Cope:

– I think it has a good deal to do with it.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– I think the honorable member for Watson is wrong. If he checked the data he would find that he is a year or two out. The high levels of unemployment in Queensland occurred a year or two after that time. In South Australia the contribution of social services to the disposable income was 7.8 per cent.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– What point is the honorable member trying to make?

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– That the overall level of demand and the amount of money which consumers have available to spend are dependent very largely on the Commonwealth Government’s contribution by way of social services. Later on if there is a temporary lull in the level of consumer demand this will be the kind of thing which will be cured by increases in the contribution, one would expect, at Budget time later this year. It also means that people are dependent more and more upon consideration by the Government of these matters. I think I have dwelt long enough on this point. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has distracted me. Let me make this point overall: All the indicators are that after the shortest down turn which we have ever had the economy is moving to a rather level position. It is improving at the moment. Current levels of unemployment have decreased in real terms. For example, the amount of bank debits available to individual customers’ accounts have increased and bank advances have increased. The Government’s approach to a massive drought, during which there has been a down turn in the economy, has been more flexible than ever before. Its approach has been quicker than ever before. We have sustained lower levels of unemployment than ever before. Consumer demand has not dropped to the extent to which it had before during massive droughts. The Government and the Treasury which foresaw these situations, and have corrected them deserve every credit.


.- The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) has made a good effort at an apology for the Treasurer (Mr.. McMahon). Those of use who have watched the progression of the Treasurer through ministry after ministry, prophecy after prophecy, complacency after complacency, would feel that the honorable member for Lilley would probably follow in the same abstract and erratic footsteps except for the unfortunate or fortunate fact that he will not be here long enough. The honorable member for Lilley gives us the impression that the Government thinks we are in the grip of objective forces and that there are some things about which we can do nothing. In fact, he says, Governments should not direct matters, but should wait until something breaks and then try to use what the honorable member chooses to term a flexible approach in order to find an answer. The presumption is that some things such as droughts, the attitude of the public and consumer demand which, to quote one of the more telling phrases used by the honorable member, is a little patchy place prophecy, prediction and planning beyond possibility.

I suggest that the honorable member for Lilley and a lot of other people should study the situation in the tiny country of Israel, where two million people are turning what is, after all, a rather miserable piece of terrain into a thriving and prosperous community. Israel is beset with enemies and has very few natural advantages, yet its people are able to achieve good results. The standard of living there is not, of course, as high as that of the people of Australia, but the results obtained are an indication of what a government with drive and dynamic socialist approach can do with most unpromising material. Such an approach might even achieve progress for some members of the Government. It is an interesting reflection of the vitality of the average Australian that we have been able to progress and produce a rather remarkable nation, in many ways, despite the inadequacies of the Government u,id its approach.

To what do we refer when we speak on occasions such as this? We use the inevitable abstractions which have very little to do with human beings but which look good when they are put down on paper. I refer, for example, to unemployment. It is said that it is comparatively low. I wonder for whom it is comparatively low. Undoubtedly it is comparatively low for the statisticians.

But what about those people who are out of work? We use the term “ in the main “. Exactly what do we mean by that expression? These terms are all relative. We are concerned with people. It is time that the nation laced the question: What is a reasonable standard of living in modern times?

We should be asking the Government why no plans were made to combat the effects of drought. For the last ten or twelve months the theme under discussion has been the drought and the difficulties it has caused. It would not have taken a terribly good meteorological observer to have predicted that there would be a drought at some time in this period of Australian history. Logically, the records are not good enough. They do not go back far enough into history to provide a basis for predicting a drought or a change in the general level, year by year, as can be done already with seasons. This is a field of human knowledge which still has to be developed, but no Australian Government ought to occupy the Treasury bench for 16 or 17 years without presuming that at some stage in the near future the nation would be faced with a serious lack of water.

We should have a national conservation plan for the nation, the State and the farmer. No farmer with a large area of land in this country ought to be permitted to exploit every inch of his property for present gain without any preparations for the future. I believe that, to a large extent, while drought is a natural calamity, failure to plan for it is the logical development when the Government in office fails to realise that humanity can plan some of its own development.

There is, of course, a great difference between the philosophies held by the Government and the Opposition. Honorable members opposite have the materialist view. Ours is the socialist approach, based upon humanity. T suppose that nothing demonstrates better the materialist approach of the Government than the Government’s economic policy as outlined to the Vernon Committee. A high rate of economic and population growth and full employment, no doubt, are laudable objectives. So too are increasing productivity, rising standards of living, external viability and stability of costs and prices. A careful study of the Government’s economic policy will show that it is mostly concerned with figures and the abstractions of statistics and economics. We are concerned with people and that is where we differ from the folk opposite and on occasions such as this offer such criticisms of the Government. I think it is important that the nation should realise this situation.

Proof that the Australian Liberal Party’s philosophy is materialistic is to be found in the measures applied by the Government to the community. Generally, the Government’s statements are based on figures and are not about people as such. Attempts are continually made to change the direction of the nation’s development by financial measures such as raising or lowering interest rates or alterations to taxation rates, while avoiding wherever possible any definite governmental action. This is most apparent, perhaps, in the field of housing. We tinker with something here, we raise an interest rate there, or tell a bank to take certain action. If 120,000 houses are needed and this requires an additional £30,000 then that amount should be made available through some kind of Government agency. Th. same applies to education. We on this side of the House believe that the way in which human beings live and the way in which their family life develops are very important elements of public policy. This involves the necessity for a dynamic approach to housing finance and house building, to education and to the development of schools and all the things that go with them. There must be an attitude of self-sufficiency on the part of the nation. Perhaps my most severe criticism of this Government - and of the Liberal Party and the Country Party- - relates to the failure to develop Australian self-sufficiency.

This failure is demonstrated in the fields of investment and development, and perhaps most of all in the field of shipping. We hawk ourselves around the world, asking: “ Will you. build a port in the north west of Australia so that we can ship iron ore to Japan and later buy it back in the form of steel?” We ask: “ Will someone develop our bauxite deposits? Will someone lend us the money to build a new railway or a new road?” These are examples of what I would call national self-insufficiency under this Government. Nothing demonstrates this better than does the shipping industry. Our failure to develop a national shipping

Industry is a disgrace to a dynamic nation. I recommend to honorable members that they look at some the shipping companies in Sweden. One of these companies - for the purposes of this debate I will avoid mentioning its name - has five or six ships engaged exclusively in the Australian-Asian trade. They are all fine ships. I know, from my own experience of them, that the accommodation provided foi both the crews and those who travel in them is better than the general run of first class accommodation. They are engaged exclusively in Australian trade. The company to which I refer has no other ships. It operates out of the port of Halsingborg. southern Sweden, where it has its headquarters.

Here is a nation, 12,000 miles away, with 7 million people and with few of the natural advantages which Australia has, yet it is able to do something which we continually say is uneconomic and impossible for us. I believe that any Australian Government worthy of the name ought to attempt to shake off the shackles of overseas control and reliance on other people and try to develop an Australian consciousness. Ours is not an insignificant nation, lt is the custom to think of us as a tiny group of people down in the south, but what is the position? If we consult the year books we will find that of the approximately 120 nations listed only about 40 have greater populations than Australia. We have about the same number of people as Belgium or Holland, more than Sweden and two or three times more than Switzerland or Denmark, but these countries have developed attitudes and dynamic approaches which are seriously lacking here. The Swiss, for example, are coming to the Northern Territory to develop our bauxite deposits

We have tremendous advantages. We have 1 1 million people - not an insignificant number. We have more space per human being than most other nations. I think we are first among the world’s producers of wool and sixth or seventh among the producers of wheat. In the production of motor cars we rank about ninth, and in steel, fourth. Only a handful of nations produce more steel per head of population than we do. They are Belgium, Canada. Czechoslovakia, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The latter two countries run about level, al though I think the United States of America has a slight edge. There are no excuses for the deficiencies which this Government continually brings to our notice and which it cannot remedy. This is a nation with tremendous advantages. First of all, it has geographical security. It is no accident that our expenditure on defence preparations runs at a lower level than in almost any other country. That is logical enough. Australia is oceans away from potential invaders; it is not begirt by enemies as are Sweden, Israel, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, India and other countries. We do not have to man every inch of our frontier with troops. We do not need mobilised armies ready to roll at a moment’s notice. We start with tremendous natural advantages but this Government seems to ignore them.

When we look at the statistics we can see the tremendous dynamics that lie in the average Australian. I live in a street in which almost every person built his own home. This was a product of the post-war world when you had to do it yourself. We have a nation of people of enormous selfreliance and independence of spirit and action, but unfortunately when it comes to the cumulative action of governments at the municipal, State and Federal levels we seem to be pussy-footers in the extreme. We are living on the borrowed time or the borrowed inheritance of our grandparents. This is a nation which during the First World War put the Trans-Continental Railway line across 1,000 miles of desert; a nation which only 10 years after Burke and Wills perished in the centre of Australia put out the overland telegraph line. It would be an interesting exercise for the statisticians opposite, such as the honorable member for Lilley, to go and look at some of the works done in their own States at a time when the population was only a tithe of what it is now and consider the things we say we cannot do such as standardising the railway gauges or extending the railway system.

Honorable members have mentioned the areas of crisis in the community. 1 suppose the most compelling one is in the field of education. This is a field of continuous public debate. It is the custom of people from the opposite side of politics, including Ministers of the Crown in this Parliament and Ministers in State Parliaments, to say that there is no crisis in education. I suppose there is no crisis if you use the word in the ordinary semantic sense of something which has bubbled up now and will be gone in a moment, but this is a continuing thing and for the individuals involved the position is indeed critical. There are simply not enough resources at the disposal of the education authorities of Australia.

Compare the magnificent schools which have been built in Canberra with schools which have been built in Victoria. Of course, the schools which have been built in New South Wales are the evidence of the high priority which the previous Labour Governments of that State gave to education for 20 years or more. But compare the schools which have been built in Canberra with the schools which are being built in Victoria and Queensland. A few weeks ago I visited the high school being built in Darwin by the Commonwealth and tha high schools being built in Queensland by the State Government. I know of others being built in Victoria. The differences in resources that are being placed at the disposal of the authorities are evident. Australians should be approaching this matter as Australians. Australia needs an education plan. That is something which still has to be developed. There still has to be coordination, integration and co-operation across the continent.

There are still tremendous inequalities in education which produce serious wastage in the community. One of these relates to women. Last year there were something like 56.000 men in the universities of Australia but only some 19,000 women. What happened to the other 37,000 women? All the evidence shows that the intellectual capacity of the female of the species is just as high as that of the male. In fact, anyone with any experience of teaching or anyone who cares to look at the statistics relating to education at the matriculation level will see that in ordinary academic attainment the young woman does as well as the y-jung man or, in some instances, has the edge on the man. Yet some 37,000 women who had the same intellectual capacity as men, had dropped out of the race. This is partly a social problem and .partly evidence of the attitude of the nation. This has been a man-developed economy and, therefore, the women have fallen behind.

There are serious inequalities resulting from economics. That can be seen from the Martin report. There are still serious inequalities as a result of race. According to statistics, the Aboriginal people of Australia still have only one-hundredth the chance of attending ‘ a university that the white Australians have. We still have to face up to the challenge of Papua and New Guinea and the need to do something dramatic about the education system there. There are still differences of geography across the continent. Until the Askin Government has been longer in office the young people in New South Wales will have greater advantages in education than have other young people in Australia. This is a simple fact of educational history. Honorable members can look that up for themselves.

The housing position is critical for every young person in Australia. I believe the most criminal act of this Government in the field of economic policy has been the edging up of interest rates over the last 17 years. Interest has risen from about 4 per cent, to 7 per cent., so the average person who buys a house may pay £3,500 for the bricks, the mortar, the glass, the plaster, the switches and everything else, but will have paid at the end of 22 years £4,500 or thereabouts in interest to the userers. There is no excuse for this at all. The war service homes system operates successfully on 3£ per cent. We see in the Minister’s statement that we are able to lend, in certain circumstances, at 3 per cent. I believe that three problems face the home owner. The first is the interest rate, which will be a continuing millstone around his neck for the next 20, 30, or perhaps 40 years. The second is the failure to do anything about land for housing. One knows that this is a difficult problem. In a freehold society, as it is in most of the States, in which people are able to exploit capital gains from land, possibly it is difficult for a government to challenge the situation, but until it has been challenged we will have a tremendous difficulty about home ownership. The deposit gap poses an additional problem.

I know of no stage since the war at which housing has been easy for anyone. It is all right for honorable members opposite to quote the vital statistics and to refer to the erection of 100.000 houses in a year, but if 120.000 people need houses and we build only 100,000, 20,000 people face urgent domestic crises. Literally hundreds of thousands of Australians have faced the tensions of life and the difficulties of parenthood and domestic growth inhibited, frustrated and often smashed by the housing problem. Until this is challenged by governments we will not develop a wholesome, healthy society. I believe that the logical objective of economic policy is the fulfilment of political aims and this, I consider, means the quality of life.

What is the quality of life? 1 think simple criteria can be applied to it. Comfort is one criterion, and this, of course, includes housing. Security is another, and this, of course, includes social policy such as full employment, the continuance of employment and the retraining of people in adult life if their earlier usefulness has disappeared because of the introduction of automation or some other process. I believe it means also an accessibility to the advances of modern society - to travel, to rest during long service leave and to enjoy it, to take one’s family across the continent without great stress or strain. These are not impossibilities in one of the wealthiest and most fortunate nations in all the world. The only thing with which we are now endowed is an attitude of national self-reliance. This should stem from a government and from this Parliament. I hope that the people realise that it is time that the long, slow and tortuous path that this Government has pursued has come to an end and that Australians have much to offer in the world in the way of their own internal dynamics and the development of a stable and prosperous nation. But until we have removed this Government from office, I am afraid we will not achieve that state.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Cockle) adjourned.

House adjourned at 10.19 p.m.

page 952


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -

Education. (Question No. 1344.)

Mr Hayden:

n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Is he able to supply the following statistics with respect to education in England, Russia, the United States of America, Japan, Italy and Australia, respectively: -

    1. What percentage of the gross national product is spent on education by (i) Governments and (ii) private schools?
    2. What is the wage for fully qualified teachers in their. first teaching year, and how does this in each case compare with the basic wage, if such exists?
    3. What percentage of the population is receiving education, including university education, at the various age levels?
    4. What is the total number of graduates each year, and what is the percentage of science graduates in each case?
  2. What sum is expended annually by the Commonwealth Government on education?
  3. What sum is expended annually on education in each State by (a) the State Government and (b) private education institutions?
Mr Harold Holt:

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

  1. International comparisons on the lines suggested by the honorable member are subject to limitations because of restricted availability of statistics, differences in the definitions according to which statistics are compiled and significant variations in the economic, social and educational structures of countries.

    1. Some data on Australian expenditure on education can be obtained from the Commonwealth Statistician’s publications “ Australian National Accounts “ and “ Quarterly Bulletins of Building Statistics”, as follows -

Information available for oversea countries is as follows -

Source: I. Svennilson, F. Edding and L. Elvin - “ Policy Conference on Economic Growth and Investment in Education “, Washington, 16th-20th October, 1961.

Source: “ Committee on Higher Education (Great Britain) - Appendix 5 to the Report of the Committee appointed by the Prime Minister under the Chairmanship of Lord Robbins, 1961-63, Higher Education in other Countries.”

  1. Information is not available about wages for fully qualified teachers in their first teaching year in the countries listed, other than Australia.
  2. The following table shows, for selected countries, the percentage of the population receiving education at various age levels -
  1. The numbers of graduates from Australian universities in each year 1958 to 1964 are shown in the following table -

Comparable information for oversea countries ls not available. However, the “ 1963 UNESCO Statistical Yearbook “ shows the following figures -

The figures consist of the following items (any receipts have been deducted): expenditure on current goods and services (e.g.. Office of Education, current grants to the Australian National University and current expenditure on primary, secondary, and technical education in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory), cash benefits to persons (e.g., scholarships), grants to other countries, current and capital grants to the States for secondary, to finical and university education, capital grants for science laboratories at non -government schools, expenditure on new capital assets (e.g., school buildings in the Australian Capital Territory), and capital grants to the Australian National University.

Source: Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics: Commonwealth Finance, 1964-65, Bulletin No. 3. 3. (a) The Commonwealth Statistician has supplied the following information -

  1. The Commonwealth Statistician cannot supply this information. Independent schools cater for approximately 25 per cent, of rhe total school population.

Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act. (Question No. 1451.)

Mr Whitlam:

m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

Has consideration been given to amending the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act to permit payments, in accordance with the long service leave decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission on the 11th May 1964, to employees with not less than fifteen years’ service even if they have been discharged on account of unsatisfactory service?

Mr McMahon:

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

On 19th November 1965, in reply to a somewhat similar question concerning officers dismissed from the Commonwealth Public Service, the then Prime Minister indicated that consideration was being given to a possible amendment of the furlough provisions relating to such officers and that proposals would be placed before the Parliament as soon as practicable(“ Hansard “, p. 3036). The Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act 1943-1959 provides furlough benefits for those employed in a temporary capacity in the Public Service and for officers and employees of Commonwealth Statutory Authorities and the relevant provisions of that Act will be reviewed in the light of proposals for amendment of the Public Service Act 1922-1964.

External Affairs. (Question No. 1523.)

Mr Hayden:

n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

Will he consider the appointment of a “Minister for Disarmament and Development Assistance to Underdeveloped Nations”, whose duties would be to specialise in exploring methods of achieving world peace, to encourage disarmament and to promote greater interest and practical participation in international schemes for the development of undeveloped nations in which the advanced economies of the world would take part?

Mr Harold Holt:

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

The activities envisaged for the holder of the suggested portfolio are already actively pursued by the Minister for External Affairs. There are, of course, many new portfolios of a specialist variety which have been or could be the subject of similar proposals, but I see no reason for altering the present arrangement of responsibilities.

External Affairs. (Question No. 1525.)

Mr Hayden:

n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

Will he consider appointing a “ Minister for South-East Asian Affairs” to specialise in the development of social, cultural and economic ties with the countries of the South-East Asian area through co-operation and peaceful assistance?

Mr Harold Holt:

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

The activities envisaged for the holder of the suggested portfolio are already actively pursued by the Minister for External Affairs. There are, of course, many new portfolios of a specialist variety which have been or could be the subject of similar proposals, but I sec no reason for altering the present arrangement of responsibilities.

The Parliament: Roll Call System. (Question No. 1561.)

Mr L R Johnson:

son asked the Prime

Minister, upon notice -

  1. What is the estimated cost of installing an electric roll call or voting system in (a) the House of Representatives and (b) the Senate?
  2. What overseas legislatures are known to have electric roll call systems in operation?
  3. Can he say whether more than 30 State Houses in the United States of America are equipped in this way?
  4. What time has been devoted to divisions over each of the past five years in (a) the House of Representatives and (b) the Senate?
  5. What (a) advantages and (b) disadvantages could be expected to result from the installation of electric roll call systems?
Mr Harold Holt:

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

  1. In 1962, the cost for the equipment and its installation was estimated at £17,500 for the Senate and £20,000 for the House of Representatives. No further estimate has been made since that time.
  2. An exhaustive list is not available but it is known that electrical voting systems are installed in the Lok Sabha (India), West Bengal State Assembly, many of the American State Legislatures and the Parliaments of Belgium, Sweden and Finland.
  3. In the United States of America, 31 State Houses of Representatives and 7 Senates are equipped with electric roll call or voting devices.
  4. The number of divisions in the House of Representatives and the Senate during the past five years is shown in the following table -

The time taken for a division includes the statutory period of two minutes during which the bells are rung, and a further period while the question is put and the votes are told. This latter process takes no fixed period but, assuming an average period of 5 minutes in the House of Representatives and 3 minutes in the Senate, and using the number of divisions noted above, the approximate total time taken by divisions in both Houses in each year since 1961 would be as follows -

  1. (a) Advantages -
  1. There would be some saving in the time taken to determine the result of any particular division.
  2. Members can cast their votes without moving from their seats.
  3. The appointment of tellers is eliminated,

    1. Disadvantages -
  4. The greater convenience provided by mechanical system might lead to more frequent calling of divisions, thereby reducing or eliminating the overall saving in time.
  5. The manner in which divisions are at present taken means that they serve purposes additional to that of recording a vote on a particular subject (see, for example the Select Committee on Procedure of the House of Commons - Session 1958-59). These would to a large extent be lost by the adoption of an electrical system of recording votes.

Public Service: Employment of Married Women. (Question No. 1572.)

Mr Hayden:

n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. What progress has been made on the proposal, announced to the House on 2nd December last, that a special committee would be set up to inquire into and report on married women’s rights in the Commonwealth Public Service?
  2. Who will be the members of the committee and what will be its terms of reference?
Mr Harold Holt:

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

An interdepartmental committee is examining this matter and I expect that its report will shortly be submitted for consideration by Cabinet.

Civil Aviation. (Question No. 1590.)

Mr Coutts:

s asked the Minister for Civil

Aviation, upon notice -

Whatsums have been paid to (a) Ansett-A.N.A., (b) Connellan Airlines, (c) East-West Airlines, (d) MacRobertson Miller Airlines and (e) TransAustralia Airlines for the supply of services during the last five years?

Mr Swartz:
Minister for Civil Aviation · DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · LP

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

In answering this question I have assumed that the “supply of services” refers to the amount of subsidies paid for the operation of developmental and essential rural services by the companies concerned. These are as follows -

Commonwealth Literary Fund. (Question No. 1636.)

Mr L R Johnson:

son asked the Prime

Minister, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Literary Fund contributed financial assistance to the publication Poetry Australia to the extent of $33.34 per issue?
  2. Can he say whether the printing costs of this publication, apart from postage, promotion costs and payments to poets, amount to $800 per issue?
  3. Will he raise with the Commonwealth Literary Fund the apparent need to increase the financial assistance being given so that the important cultural work undertaken by way of this publication can receive the encouragement it deserves?
Mr Harold Holt:

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

  1. The Committee of the Commonwealth Literary Fund at its meeting on 13th May 1965, approved a grant at the rate of $200 for one year from 1st July 1965, to assist publication of Poetry Australia, the first issue of which appeared in December 1964, and agreed to review the matter at the end of this period.
  2. The Committee has not yet received a statement of income and expenditure covering the period of the grant, but the editor has undertaken to supply this information by the end of April 1966.
  3. As stated in (1) the Committee of the Fund will review the matter in May/June next.

Taxation. (Question No. 1211.)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

When is he going to implement the recommendation of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation that friendly societies’ dispensaries should not be subject to taxation on business conducted with their own members?

Mr McMahon:

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

I have given very careful consideration to the possibility of revising the present basis on which the income of friendly society dispensaries is taxed. The question is complicated by practical difficulties arising in part from the fact that the dispensaries make sales not only to the members of friendly societies but also to the public in competition with private pharmacists. After considering various alternatives, I have come to the conclusion that the present basis of taxation of friendly society dispensaries is not unreasonable and that no change need be made in the existing legislation on this matter.

Overseas Ownership of Australian Real Estate. (Question No. 1570.)

Mr Peters:

s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. What is the (a) value and (b) area of the rural lands of Australia owned overseas?
  2. What is the (a) value and (b) area of leaseholds of Australian lands held by overseas interests?
  3. What is the value of real estate in towns and cities of Australia owned overseas?
Mr McMahon:

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

I am informed by the Commonwealth Statistician that it has not been practicable to compile reliable comprehensive statistics relating specifically to overseas investment in Australian real estate. The scope of the survey of overseas investments in Australia conducted regularly by the Statistician includes investment in real estate by investors who register branch offices or incorporate subsidiary companies in Australia. Such branches or subsidiary companies would account for the bulk of oversea investment in Australian real estate. However, because of the diversity of the activities of many of these companies it is not practicable to isolate investment in real estate.

Investment in Australian real estate by individual residents of oversea countries who do not incorporate companies to manage their affairs in Australia is not covered by the Statistician’s survey. It would be extremely difficult to cover such investment by normal statistical methods. However, inquiries made from time to time by the Statistician indicate that this type of investment would be much smaller than corporate investment.

Gove Bauxite Deposits. (Question No. 1575.)


n asked the Minister for Terri tories, upon notice -

  1. Has the consortium which has contracted to develop the Gove bauxite deposits undertaken to provide a primary aluminium smelter?
  2. If so, what will be its capacity, and when is it expected to come into operation?
Mr Barnes:
Minister for Territories · MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND · CP

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

  1. The proposal from Nabalco Pty. Ltd. accepted by the Commonwealth Government includes a firm commitment to examine and report on the economic feasibility of aluminium smelting in the Northern Territory. The company has given an assurance that it will build a smelter if an adequate supply of continuous low cost electricity is available.
  2. See answer to 1.

Bankruptcy. (Question No. 1587.)

Mr Whitlam:

m asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -

What percentage of matters under the Bankruptcy Act is heard in each State by a Federal judge or official?

Mr Snedden:
Attorney-General · BRUCE, VICTORIA · LP

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

The percentages set out hereunder are calculated from the number of matters dealt with in the year ending 30th June 1965, and represent an average year.

New South Wales-

Judicial matters by a Federal judge- 100 per cent.

Examinations under sections 68 and 80 of the Bankruptcy Act by a Federal official - 89 per cent.


Judicial matters by a Federal judge - 100 per cent.

Examinations under sections 68 and 80 of the Bankruptcy Act by a Federal official - 100 per cent. Queensland -

Judicial matters by a Federal judge - Nil. Examinations under sections 68 and 80 of the Bankruptcy Act by a Federal official - 70 per cent.

South Australia -

Judicial matters by a Federal judge - Nil. Examinations under sections 68 and 80 of the Bankruptcy Act by a Federal official - 87 per cent.

Western Australia -

Judicial matters by a Federal judge - Nil. Examinations under sections 68 and 80 of the Bankruptcy Act by a Federal official- 100 per cent.

Tasmania -

Judicial matters by a Federal judge - Nil. Examinations under sections 68 and 80 of the Bankruptcy Act by a Federal official - 67 per cent.

Naturalisations. (Question No. 1595.)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Minister for

Immigration, upon notice -

  1. How many persons who were eligible for naturalisation at the 31st December 1965 were unnaturalised?
  2. How many persons were naturalised during the twelve months ended on the 31st December 1965?
Mr Opperman:

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

  1. It is estimated that as at 31st December 1965, 213,750 persons over the age of sixteen years were eligible to apply for naturalisation but had not lodged applications.
  2. During the twelve months ended 31st December 1965, 33,186 persons were naturalised.

Army Cadet Corps. (Question No. 1624.)

Mr Cockle:

e asked the Minister for the

Army, upon notice -

  1. Is it the intention of the Army to lift the numerical ceiling of the Cadet Corps to 47,000?
  2. Has his attention been drawn to a report that the Woodlawn College at Lismore has disbanded its 200 strong cadet unit?
  3. What significance does he see in this action?
  4. Is there any evidence that this disbandment is likely to be the forerunner of similar action by other schools?
  5. Is there any obligation on schools to maintain and develop the Cadet Corps?
  6. What action will be taken by the Army to prevent any further disbandments and ensure the build-up of the number of cadets under training to the stated ceiling?
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

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

  1. The current three year programme will bring the ceiling of the Cadet Corps to 45,000 in 1967-68. This is an increase of 5,000 for the period. It is hoped that it will be found practicable to increase the ceiling in the next programme.
  2. I am aware that Woodlawn College has requested the disbandment of their cadet unit.
  3. I see nothing of great significance in this action which was taken by the board of directors and the Rector of the college for the reason that a transfer of teachers has left the college with no suitable personnel to administer and control the unit.
  4. No. To the contrary, the honorable member will be interested to know that, since the commencement of the current three years programme, twelve new units have been raised and only one disbanded.
  5. There is no legal obligation for schools to maintain and develop the Cadet Corps.
  6. At present there arc many schools awaiting the formation of cadet units and many schools are desirous of increasing the size of their present units, and there is no difficulty in attaining the present authorised ceiling.

Supply of Power to Sydney International Air Terminal. (Question No. 1628.)

Mr Reynolds:

s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice -

  1. Has his attention been drawn to the strong dissatisfaction expressed by the St. George County Council, its constituent municipal councils of Rockdale, Kogarah and Hurstville, and local Federal and State Members of Parliament, both Labor and Liberal, regarding the Commonwealth’s rejection of the rights of St. George County Council to supply power to the proposed new Kingsford-Smith Airport International Terminal, the control tower and the operations building, each of which will be cither wholly or substantially within the Council’s franchise area?
  2. Have the franchise rights of the St. George County Council been supported by the New South Wales State Government, and has that Government proposed a conference between the Department of Civil Aviation, the St. George County Council and the Sydney County Council as a means of reviewing the Commonwealth’s decision?
  3. Has he received a request in these terms? If so, what is his reaction to it?
Mr Freeth:

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

  1. My attention has been drawn to objections, expressed by the St. George County Council, to the Commonwealth’s intention to purchase electricity for Kingsford-Smith Airport from the Sydney County Council. I do not agree that this decision infringes any rights of the St. George County Council.
  2. The Premier of New South Wales has written to the Prime Minister suggesting a conference might be held to discuss the matter.
  3. The decision to buy electricity from the Sydney County Council was taken because it is more economical to do so and because it therefore saves taxpayers funds. If a conference were to be held it would be necessary for the State or local authorities to be prepared to submit proposals which would make it economical to vary the decision already taken. 1 have received no such proposals.

Sugar. (Question No. 1647.)

Dr Patterson:

n asked the Minister for Primary Industry upon notice -

  1. What was the average cost of production of sugar produced in Queensland compared wilh the average price received for sugar for the No. 1 pool for each pf the years 1964 and 1965?
  2. What arc the estimated figures for 1966?
Mr Adermann:

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

  1. Information on the average cost of production of sugar in Queensland in 1964 and 1965 has not been published. The average prices paid to Queensland producers for No. 1 pool sugar in 1964 and 1965 seasons were $98.20 and $85.25 respectively per ton 94 net titre.
  2. In regard to the average price to he paid for 1966 season’s sugar, it is as yet loo early for any official estimate to have been made. Cane crushing will not commence until late May and sales cannot be expected to be completed until early 1967.

Convention on Discrimination in Education. (Question No. 1661.)

Mr Reynolds:

s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. When does he expect to answer Question No. 1252 which I placed on the notice paper on the 15th September 1965?
  2. Have the State Governments been asked to state their attitude to the Convention referred to in the question? If so, when?
  3. What Slates have replied?
Mr Harold Holt:

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

In December 1965, the States were all asked whether they agreed with the Commonwealth’s suggestion that it should ratify the U.N.E.S.C.O. Convention against Discrimination on Education. This proposal was put to the States on the basis of the final text of the Convention; there had been earlier exchanges of views on the basis of draft texts. Final replies from two Stales are awaited. As soon as the attitudes of all the States are known it will be practicable to give a complete answer to Question No. 1252.

National Service Training. (Question No. 1537.)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact thai national service call upu are affecting certain shortages of labour in Western Australia?
  2. Are the building and metal trades industries and therailway and education services being affected in this way?
  3. Will he consider exempting or deferring national service call-ups in industries where a shortage of labour exists?
Mr Bury:
Minister for Labour and National Service · WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1 and 2. The total numbers so far called up for national service in Western Australia and included in the three Army intakes in June and September 1965 and February 1966 represent about one-fifth of one per cent, of the Western Australian work force. It is fair to assume that call-ups will affect each vocational and industrial group in much the same ratio. It is evident that the effect is minimal.

  1. No.

Immigration. (Question No. 1549.)

Mr Collard:

d asked the Minister for

Labour and National Service, upon notice -

  1. Does the department ensure that satisfactory accomodation is available for migrants who are directed, or who elect to go, to jobs outside the metropolitan area?
  2. If so, what means are used by the department to ascertain what type of accommodation is available?
  3. Is he satisfied with the type of accommoda tion provided, particularly in outback areas and along the Trans-Continental Line?
Mr Bury:

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

My department has no powers of direction of workers, migrants or others. It brings job opportunities, including vacancies outside the metropolitan areas, to the attention of persons seeking employment. Where accommodation is available in association with the employment offering, all the information at the department’s disposal at the time is given to the applicant who himself decides whether he wishes to continue with his application. Actual engagement is a matter of mutual agreement between employer and applicant, having regard to the provisions of relevant awards and legislation. The department’s arbitration inspectorate investigates any complaints of breaches of Commonwealth awards and relevant Commonwealth legislation. The department continually advises employers that the availability of a good standard of accommodation appropriate to the type of employment offered, particularly in outback areas, is an important factor in retaining employees.

Government Appointments. (Question No- 1306.)

Mr Jones:

s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

What members or ex-members of (a) Government parties and (b) the Opposition have since 1950 been appointed to (i) diplomatic posts, (ii) the judiciary, (iii) executive administrative positions and (iv) other important positions?

Mr Harold Holt:

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

The following appointments of members and exmembers of the Commonwealth Parliament have been made by the Government in the categories mentioned since 1950.

Appointments to Diplomatic Posts -

Sir Howard Beale

A. Cameron

Sir Alexander Downer

B. S. Gullett

Sir Eric Harrison

S. Roberton

Sir Percy Spender

Sir Thomas White

Appointments to the Judiciary -

Sir Garfield Barwick

Mr. Justice Percy Joske

Sir John Spicer

and (iv) Executive, Administrative and other important positions -

Full-time appointments -

Lord Casey - Governor-General R. L. Dean - Administrator, Northern Territory

Part-time appointments -

Lord Casey - Executive of C.S.I. R.O. (resigned following appointment as GovernorGeneral).

The Honorable Dame Enid Lyons - Commissioner, Australian Broadcasting Commission.

The Honorable J. I. Armstrong - Member, Immigration Planning Council.

N. Drury, M.P. - Chairman, Immigration Planning Council.

The Honorable D. E. Fairbairn, M.P. - Chairman, Immigration Planning Council.

Mr. Justice Percy Joske Chairman, Immigration Planning Council.

The Honorable A. S. Hulme, M.P. - Chairman, Immigration Planning Council.

Sir Keith Wilson, M.P. Chairman, Immigration Advisory Council.

The Honorable G. Freeth, M.P. - Chairman, Immigration Advisory Council.

W. Brown - Chairman, Immigration Advisory Council.

S. Ryan - Member, Immigration Advisory Council.

Buttfield - Member, Immigration Advisory Council.

Senator I. A. Wood Member, Immigration Advisory Council.

H. Barnard, M.P.- Member, Immigration Advisory Council.

R. Kelly, M.P.- Co-opted member, C.S.I.R.O. Advisory Council.

E. Beazley, M. P.- Co-opted member, C.S.I. R.O. Advisory Council.

V. Gilmore - Member of Tobacco Advisory Committee.

B. S. Gullett- Trustee, Australian War Memorial (leave of absence for duration of appointment as Ambassador to Greece).

B. Howse - Trustee. Australian War Memorial.

National Health and Medical Research Council. (Question No. 1588.)

Mr Whitlam:

m asked the Minister for Health-

  1. What recommendations has the National Health and Medical Research Council made in the last five years which would require Commonwealth initiative or action?
  2. What action has been taken on these recommendations, and when was it taken?
Dr Forbes:
Minister for Health · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

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

The recommendations made by the National Health and Medical Research Council fall into three main categories -

those relating to research grants;

those relating to the public health legis lation of the States and Territories; and

those relating to Commonwealth activities.

With regard to category (a), there have been well over SOO recommendations made by the Council over the last five years, all of which, with only one or two exceptions, have been acted on by the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth’s responsibilities in relation to category (b) are confined to its Territories. A number of recommendations by the Council are under active consideration for inclusion in the law reform programme for the Australian Capital Territory, announced by the Government last year. Corresponding action, where appropriate, will be taken as soon as practicable with regard to incorporating the recommended provisions in the Northern Territory legislation in conjunction with the planned Northern Territory law reform programme.

With regard to category (c), the honorable member is assured that all recommendations made by the Council involving purely Commonwealth activities are closely examined in the light of Government policy and, wherever possible, are acted upon.

As many hundreds of recommendations have emanated from the Council over the last five years, it would clearly not be practicable for me to give the honorable member, in this reply, details of the action taken in relation to each one. However, if he is interested in any particular sphere of the Council’s activities or in any particular recommendations, I shall be pleased to supply him with information by letter, on request.

Medical and Hospital Benefits Organisations. (Question No. 1609.)

Mr Collard:

d asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. What was the number of medical and hospital benefit organisations registered under the National Health Act during (a) each of the first two years after the benefit scheme came into operation and (b) each of the past two years -
  2. During each of the years referred to above what were the (a) total receipts of the funds,

    1. total amounts paid out in fund benefits,
    2. total operating costs of the funds and (d) total reserves of the funds?
Dr Forbes:

s. - The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -

The Commonwealth Hospital Benefits Scheme commenced operation on 1st January 1952 and the Medical Benefits Scheme on 1st July 1953. The following information in reply to the honorable member’s question is in respect of the first two full financial years of operation in each case; that is, for 1952-53 and 1953-54 in the case of the registered hospital benefit organisations and 1953-54 and 1954-55 in the case of the registered medical benefit organisations. For both schemes, the last two full years of operation are 1963-64 and 1964-65; however, the figures for 1964-65 are subject to final revision.

Hepatitis. (Question No. 1610.)

Mr Collard:

d asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. How many cases of hepatitis were reported in each State, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory during each of the past eight years?

    1. What was the percentage in each case in each year in relation to population?
Dr Forbes:

s. - The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -

The number of cases of infectious hepatitis and the incidence per 1000 of the population for each State and Territory for the last eight years were as follows -

Unemployment Benefits. (Question No. 1545.)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that an ex-serviceman on a 100 per cent, rate of war pension can also receive unemployment benefit?
  2. If the ex-serviceman is placed on the intermediate rate of pension, does he then become ineligible to receive unemployment benefit?
  3. If so, does this mean that a war pensioner is in a better financial position if he is on the 100 per cent, rate than if his pension is increased to the intermediate rate?
Mr Sinclair:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.
  3. No. A war pensioner on a 100 per cent, rate receives a continuing weekly pension of $12.00. If his pension is increased to the intermediate rate he receives a continuing pension of $20.25 a week. This latter rate is $8.25 more than the 100 per cent. rate. $8.25 is also the rate of unemployment or sickness benefit temporarily payable to a single person.

Pensions. (Question No. 1634.)

Mr Daly:

y asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -

  1. Is a person who is certified to be an alcoholic considered to be 85 per cent, incapacitated and eligible for an invalid pension in accordance with the Social Services Act?
  2. If not, what forms of occupation have been determined as suitable to be satisfactorily carried out by such a person?
Mr Sinclair:

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

Any person who is certified to be permanently incapacitated for work to the extent of at least 85 per cent, is eligible on medical grounds to receive an invalid pension. The factors taken into account in determining the degree of incapacity are the prerogatives of the medical practitioner.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 April 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.