25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. I ask whether it can be assumed from the courtmartial acquittal of Major Tedder on the ground that his offence had been condoned that the kind of punishment inflicted on Gunner O’Neill will in the future be inflicted on others. If this is hot to be assumed from the finding of the courtmartial, will the Minister say whether instructions have been or will be issued to prevent any further infliction of such punishment?
– The honorable member’s assumption is not correct. Copies of the court-martial proceedings, which deal in some detail with the legal aspects of the case in question are, as the honorable member knows, in the Library and available for members to read if they wish to do so.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Does the Government accept as a fact that scientists of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation led by Dr. Bowen have succeeded in making rain fall in economic quantities when suitable cloud conditions have existed? Was proof of this shown in the drought-stricken west during the past few months? Has Dr. Bowen expressed the view that the time for experiments is over and that the urgent need is for the application of tested rain making methods on an immense scale? Have other countries, including the United States of America, Canada and Israel, embarked on huge programmes to produce rain when and where it is needed? In view of the great economic advantages to be gained from such a course, will the Government indicate its proposals for the future in regard to this matter and say what action is being taken by the States on their own initiative or in collaboration with the Commonwealth?
– I understand that the C.S.I.R.O. does hold the view that it has been fairly conclusively established that rain making can be achieved by suitably stimulating clouds by means of seeding operations. I understand also that Dr. Bowen made some comment to the effect that in his view the process could be practically applied, but I do not recall him saying that the time for experiments had passed. I think it is generally accepted that there is still room for a great deal of experimentation in this field. I understand that in the countries referred to by the honorable member a great deal of money is still being spent on experimentation. I believe there is a bill before the United States Congress at present providing for the expenditure of about $30 million on rain making. In Australia, the Commonwealth makes available to the States the full facilities and technical advice of the C.S.I.R.O. It is for the States to decide when actual cloud seeding operations should take place, and the State Governments in the main provide the aircraft for this purpose. In New South Wales, for instance, an aircraft has been operating continuously and it recently succeeded in producing rain in the west of the State. In the other States, aircraft, some of which have been provided by the CS.I.R.O. and some by the State Governments, are operating more or less on an experimental basis.
– I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister a question concerning his suggestion for the establishment of a national investment corporation for the purpose of regulating the flow of investment funds from overseas and from Australia and channelling them into the industrial and business activities of this country. Has he seen this suggestion referred to as “ the barbaric cry from Bendigo “? As this is undoubtedly the first shot in a campaign to prevent any Government action to restrain the wholesale takeover of Australian resources, will the right honorable gentleman make a statement to this House on his suggestion with the object of initiating a debate on the subject?
– There are ample opportunities which the Parliament itself can create for producing debate on this or any other subject. I have seen the headline to which the honorable member refers. The Parliament knows that I have certain views about the desirability of Australia’s owning as much as possible of its own natural resources and industrial enterprises. I have been articulate on this subject over a long period. I point out that the Treasurer, the Prime Minister - indeed, the Government generally - the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia and the trading banks all have co-operated, as was recently revealed in an announcement by the Treasurer, with the object of establishing a fund under an arrangement designed to achieve the general objective on which f offered some views at Bendigo.
– I address to the Minister for Air a question relating to reports from the United States of America about the Fill aircraft. I ask: Why exactly does the United States congressional committee in reports question the use of the FBI 11 for strategic bombing? Will the Minister make plain the difference between strategic and tactical bombing, or should these terms apply to targets? Will the intended use of the aircraft by the Royal Australian Air Force for tactical bombing purposes be impaired if the congressional committee’s comments on the FBI 11 prove correct?
– lt may help if 1 make clear to the House the fact that there are four different versions of the Fill aircraft. The Royal Australian Air Force has ordered the Fill A for use in the tactical strike role against heavily defended targets of a nature that can be particularly important in the course of a battle. The FU IB is being ordered by the United States Navy. The version that has been referred to in recent reports is the FBI 11 - an aircraft different from the FU IB. The FBI 11 is being ordered by the Strategic Air Command in the United States as a strategic bomber for strikes against targets in the heart of enemy territory. Therefore, it will operate in a role different from that In which we intend to use the FI IIA. I believe that the reason why particular points arose before the congressional committee is that a number of people in the United States think that there are various lobbies pressing for an aircraft other than the FBI 11 to replace the B52 in the Strategic Air Command. All 1 would like to say regarding the aircraft we have ordered, the Fill A, is that recent tests have proved it to be still just as effective as we expected it to be when we ordered it. lt is already flying at more than Mach 2.3 - that is 2.3 times the speed of sound. It is flying higher than 59,000 feet. It can carry at least 50 bombs weighing 750 lb. each and its range is 10 per cent, more than originally estimated.
– What is the price?
– I have already made clear to the House on more than one occasion what the price will be and that it was more than estimated. But as 1 have said so many times in the past, if we want a good aircraft we have to pay for it. We are paying a good price for an extremely good aircraft.
– I ask a supplementary question of the Minister for Air. Has the United States Defence Department offered a new contract to cover Australia’s purchase of the 24 F111A fighter bombers? Has this offer resulted from concern felt by the Government, and certainly by the Opposition, about the rising cost of these aircraft? If so, what is the present situation? How can the Minister justify his previous statement that we are getting the aircraft at a “ dam fair price “ when he, and apparently no-one else, knows what the aircraft will cost? Finally, is the best assurance we have that we will not pay more than Great Britain for the aircraft, and if so what advantage did we gain by ordering these aircraft years before Great Britain?
– I have already answered most of these questions in the House. I think I made quite clear when I referred to the new estimated price of the Fill A that a mission was going to Washington in April. That mission is in Washington at the present time. When it returns to Australia I will be in a better position to make a full statement. What the mission is dealing with at the moment is the logistic arrangement and the method of paying for these aircraft. 1 also have made it quite clear that we know the price of the aircraft but what is still unknown is the price of the ground handling equipment and other associated features. The price of the aircraft is one thing; the equipment that goes with it is another. The mission is in Washington to deal with these matters and also the method of payment. When it returns to Australia I will make a further statement to the House.
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Army a question. He will recall that I recently drew attention to an anomaly in the application of the National Service Act whereby young men living in remote country areas are deprived of the opportunity to fulfil their national service commitments with the Citizen Military Forces. Can the Minister say whether or not action has been taken to correct this situation?
– This matter has been under active investigation by the Army for quite some time, not only from the point of view which the honorable member raises but from the point of view of best meeting the needs of the Citizen Military Forces and the expansion of those forces. The honorable member will appreciate that the policy up till now has been one whereby new units or sub-units are established in certain areas when it appears that there will be sufficient volunteers and personnel to conduct a unit or sub-unit efficiently. But this arrangement does not cover the whole country. It does not make the C.M.F. available to people throughout the country or the C.M.F. option available throughout the country. These matters are under very active consideration.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service and relates not only to his own Department but also to the activities of the Minister for Housing. Is the Minister aware of the following current official statements on membership unemployment in New South Wales by building trade unions? From li per cent, to 10 per cent, of Building Workers Industrial Union members are unable to obtain employment and in the southcoast Wollongong area unemployed carpenters and bricklayers are leaving the industry; 6 per cent, of members of the Carpenters and Joiners Association are unemployed; and 12 per cent, of members of the Plasterers and Plaster Workers Federation are unemployed. Will the Minister urgently review the adequacy for maintaining employment of the funds recently released for the building industry? Will he also inquire into the serious deterrent effect of such unemployment on the intake of apprentices into that industry? Will he consider an adequate national housing plan to provide proper housing for the people of Australia?
– Overall, the problem on a national basis is a shortage of skilled building tradesmen. This does not necessarily mean that tradesmen in the building industry are not surplus in some places from time to time. On the whole, however, the major problem, especially in the last 12 months, has been the big shortage of skilled building tradesmen and my Department is doing what it can to improve the supply. I am not quite conversant with the position as it now exists at Port Kembla, but, if the facts are as the honorable member represents, a wonderful opportunity is presented to get more building done. Certainly, the number of housing approvals has already risen and the rate of house building will improve. One of the drags on it has been the tremendous volume of construction of other forms of building and certainly any slackness that appears will provide an opportunity, of which advantage will be taken, to build more houses.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Defence, relates to the integration of national servicemen with members of the Australian Regular Army in units serving abroad. I refer to persistent assertions made by Opposition spokesmen that national service trainees in South Vietnam should be withdrawn. I ask the Minister: Has his Department made an assessment of the difficulties, both in physical terms and in terms of morale, of breaking up Australian Army units serving abroad and, if so, with what results?
– It has been known for some time - indeed, for 18 months - that national servicemen called into the Services will be completely integrated, after training, with the Australian Regular Army. This is being done in the two battalions presently going to Vietnam. Something like one-third of the number are national servicemen. I think it stands without further question that if the national servicemen were to be withdrawn arbitrarily at any stage it would need the complete withdrawal of the entire force for regrouping and perhaps retraining.
– Why not?
– We will answer that question at some length on a more appropriate occasion. I think the honorable gentleman will see the seriousness of the situation that would be promoted if the Australian Labour Party, on being elected to office, were to recall national servicemen, as it has said it would. This would undoubtedly disorganise completely the whole of Australia’s contribution to South Vietnam, destroy the morale of the remaining troops and ruin Australia’s reputation internationally, certainly with our allies in South East Asia and with the United States of America. If would poorly serve the cause of this country’s contribution to peace.
– I ask the
Minister for National Development a question. Is his Department prepared to make available to any of the State Governments that may seek this assistance, the services of engineers and other qualified officers now employed by the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority to examine the economics, feasibility and cost of programmes for water reticulation and water conservation in the various States?
– Some of the States, particularly Queensland, have requested investigational work and we have been able to make available to them engineers from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority to do it. However, whether this should be done on any broader scale would depend on the request received by the Commonwealth from the various States. When a request is made, we will look at it.
– My question to the Treasurer is supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member for Scullin.
As it has been reported that the trading banks proposed, some months ago, that an investment corporation be set up to finance large-scale projects in Australia, can the Treasurer say how far this proposal has been considered by the Government, and whether the subscribers to the institution will include the Government as well as the trading banks?
– Some time ago I was informed by the Reserve Bank and by the Treasury that there were under consideration proposals to establish a corporation to finance development activities in this country. I have had a minimum of three discussions with the Governor of the Reserve Bank on this subject. On Friday I had another discussion with him and six of his senior officials. The proposals were, roughly, that a corporation should be established with Commonwealth, Reserve Bank and trading bank finance. There were discussed various other clauses and conditions which have been submitted to the Treasury. The Treasury does not at the moment feel inclined to recommend the submission to the Government because the position is that fundamentally the Commonwealth itself would be, to a large extent, underwriting the finances of the institution. I have told the Governor of the Reserve Bank that I will arrange for discussions between the Treasury, himself, his officials and myself in the near future, and that shortly after that I shall also have discussions with the trading banks and with the Reserve Bank to see whether we can come to some finality on this scheme.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Is it a fact that advertising rates in the pink pages of the telephone directory have been raised by 50 per cent.? In view of the fact that the pink pages are a public medium, will the PostmasterGeneral please see to it that the publishers, Edward H. O’Brien Pty. Ltd., are prevented from making exorbitant profits by such a sudden, huge rise in rates? Also, since other advertisers are allowed a reasonable time to pay for their advertisements, and since up to last year the motor schools were allowed the same privilege, will the Postmaster-General please instruct
Edward H. O’Brien Pty. Ltd. that it must cease victimising and discriminating against motor school advertisers simply because The Motor Schools Association of N.S.W. (Inc.) took legal action, which it was entitled to do?
– There is no victimisation of any group of people who advertise in the pink pages of telephone directories. As to the first question asked by the honorable member, I point out to the House that it was in 1957, I think, that the last rise in advertising rates for the pink pages took place. Having regard to the increase in costs between 1957 and 1966 the PostmasterGeneral’s Department believes that the present increase of rates is justified. Such increases are made on a periodic basis rather than on a basis which would create embarrassment and difficulty of administration if an annual review of advertising rates were made. If the honorable member were to consult charges for advertising by newspapers and other periodicals he would find that they also have increased their charges over the period. The Postmaster-General’s Department believes that its method is the fairest way and that during the period of eight or nine years, the public has had more than a good spin having regard to charges for other forms of advertising.
– Has the Minister for External Affairs had his attention directed to the statement made by the Mansfield Committee which in its report of 6th January 1966 to the Foreign Relations Committee of the American Congress stated that the war in Vietnam was open ended, and that how open ended depended on the extent to which North Vietnam and its supporters are willing to meet increased force by increased force and that this could involve the whole of South East Asia? Was it also drawn to his attention that Air ViceMarshal Cao Ky recently said that the war could last 20 years? I ask the Minister whether he is taking into account statements of this type in anticipating Australia’s involvement in the war. If not, why is this not being done?
– In formulating Australia’s policy or in submitting recommendations to Cabinet in respect of Australia’s policy, naturally my Department and myself take into account all sources of information. Happily, we have more authoritative and better informed sources than those which the honorable gentleman has quoted.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service, refers to fines imposed on unions for breaches of decisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in respect of strikes, contempt, and so on. Are these fines paid promptly? Are any fines at present outstanding over long periods? When collected, is the money paid to the Consolidated Revenue Fund or credited in some other way?
– The money collected from fines is certainly credited to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Some fines certainly are being paid in instalments, for which arrangements have been made. When I looked at this matter about a month ago, some fines had been outstanding for a while, but action is being taken to remedy the situation.
– I ask the Minister for Defence: Are the re-employment, rehabilitation and repatriation rights of members of the Citizen Military Forces who offer for overseas service commensurate with and equal in all respects to those rights available to national servicemen?
– In opening my reply 1 think I should point out that there are only a few C.M.F. volunteers engaged in Vietnam. At my last look at the figures - which is certainly a few weeks ago - only 10 CM.F. volunteers were in Vietnam and another 15 had been accepted. As to re-employment rights, the age of C.M.F. volunteers ranges from 22 years to 35 years. Members of that age group must be presumed to be in rather settled occupations, therefore requiring only minimum, if any, retraining and re-establishment rights. In terms of their re-employment entitlements, it is considered quite appropriate that there should be compulsory reemployment for national servicemen, because they are young men who have been arbitrarily separated from their employment. However, it is thought that this would not be appropriate for C.M.F. volunteers and that the question of their re-employment is one for private negotiation between the volunteer and his employer. Repatriation rights, of course, depend on the nature and location of service as set out in the appropriate legislation.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. Is it true that there is unrest in the Army Design Branch, Maribyrnong, and in other branches of the Army due to delay in paying tea money and overtime money? ls it true that money due on 30th March last has not been paid at present and will not be paid until 28th April? If this is the position, is the holdup of wages due to shortage of staff, is the Sub-Treasury to blame as stated by the Department of the Army, or is inefficiency the cause? Would not this holdup which necessitates men being paid in bulk make extra taxation for employees? Would not this wage delay cause men to seek employment with private enterprise where complete wages are paid on specified paydays?
– I do not think it is correct to say that there is general discontent in any of the Army establishments in Victoria or elsewhere. I do not believe that there was an implication of that kind in the honorable member’s question. I am aware that there were delays in paying overtime over the Easter period. 1 had thought that any delay had been rectified now and that the payments had been made. I will check that point for the honorable member. The delay was caused principally by two factors: First, because of the substantial number of holidays in the Easter period; and, secondly, because for some time now Army pay has been organised through a new centralised system. The honorable member will appreciate that any new system can cause some difficulties in the relatively early stages. I hope that this one will not be the cause of further delays at any time in the future.
– I address a question to the Minister for the Army. Does the honorable gentleman know whether a liberal allocation of Australian dried vine fruits is being made for the consumption of Army personnel at home and abroad? If such an allocation is not being made, will the Minister move to rectify this omission from the diet of our service men and women?
– Honorable members will know the vigour with which the honorable member for Mallee pursues the interests of this industry. They will also know from their own experience in the Parliamentary refreshment rooms how beneficial the items of diet to which he refers can be. 1 am pleased to inform the honorable member that the Army is one of the largest purchasers of Australian dried vine fruits.
– 1. ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he has been advised by the Prime Minister, who, as we all know, is at present overseas, that he has had a conversation with Marshal Ky in Saigon in which this self advertised admirer of Hitler said that the War in Vietnam would last for another 20 years. If so. will he say what plans, if any, the Government has developed for Australian participation in the proposed 20 years’ war?
– I have had no communication from the Prime Minister along the lines suggested by the Leader of the Opposition. As everyone knows, the Prime Minister will be back in Australia within a few days. He will then be able to report to his Cabinet colleagues, to the Parliament and to the country any outcome of his mission. I might observe at this stage that Australia is fighting in conjunction with South Vietnam and I think it is quite inappropriate and quite unnecessary to be offensive to the Prime Minister of that country.
– In view of the announcement in the Treasurer’s recent statement that applications for loans for farm development purposes must be made to the trading banks, I ask the Treasurer: What provision has he made or what action has he taken that will cause trading bank managers to give more liberal decisions to applicants than those given before the Government announced its extended farm development loan policy?
– Already the Prime Minister and I have made statements in this House about the Farm Development Loan Fund. We have stated that most of the money will be made available from the statutory reserve deposits to the trading banks to permit them to make advances. I have also made it clear that loans from the fund will be made available at concessional rates of interest. We think, therefore, that it is in the interests, not only of the banks but also of the farmers, that the money should be made available by the trading banks fairly quickly.
(Dr. Patterson having addressed a question to the Minister for National Development) -
– Order! If that is so, the question is out of order.
– My question to the Minister for Defence is supplementary to a question asked earlier by the honorable member for Lilley. In view of the fact that rehabilitation, re-employment and repatriation benefits are not the same for Citizen Military Forces volunteers as they are for national servicemen, will the Minister state whether it is his opinion that this will encourage volunteers from the C.M.F.? Can he tell me how it is fair for a C.M.F. volunteer aged 20 years to be placed on a different basis from a national serviceman?
– As I pointed out in my earlier answer, the volunteer aged 20 from the C.M.F. is not accepted. The age limits are 22 io 35 years. I thought I had rather covered the general text of the matter adequately in my answer to the earlier question.
– I ask a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Dawson and in respect of which the Minister for National Development stated that-
– Order! The honorable member is out of order. The question is on the notice paper.
– I want to ask, regarding this matter-
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat.
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I want to know why I have been ruled out of order. Why cannot I ask the Minister when I can get an answer to this question?
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat. There is no substance in his point of order. He should have framed his question differently.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister. Is it a fact that the Kennedy Round tariff negotiations are not proving as successful as was hoped for earlier? In view of this does the Acting Prime Minister think it desirable that the Commonwealth Government should open negotiations for a trade treaty with the United States of America?
– It is true that the Kennedy Round negotiations have been disappointing, but I think the general explanation lies in the fact that the differences between the member countries of the European Common Market placed this one entity for negotiating purposes within the Kennedy Round in a situation where it was unable to negotiate. This has stultified the whole proceedings. My understanding is that the factors which put the European Economic Community into a situation where it was unable to negotiate have now been overcome, and it is expected that negotiations will proceed from now on. They must come to a point of some substance in the fairly near future, because the United States legislation which authorises the United States Administration to reduce duties expires next year, and this is critical to the whole Kennedy Round negotiations.
– I ask the Minister for
National Development: When can I get an answer to question 1593 which has been on the notice paper since 16th March, dealing with the investigation into transport costs in northern Australia?
– I can assure the honorable member that as soon as 1 am in a position to answer his question I will do so. I hope that will be in the not too distant future.
Mr. MORTIMER__ 1 ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question. Sir William Gunn is reported to have stated that the ban on the export of merino rams may be reviewed if South American countries agree to pay a levy to the International Wool Secretariat. Have any representations been made recently to the Government seeking removal of the ban on the export of Australian merino rams? If so, by whom have they been made? What likely short or long term effect would the lifting of the ban have On the Australian wool industry?
– No representations of the kind referred to have been made to the Government. My understanding of the situation is that neither the Wool Industry Conference nor the Australian Wool Board has even discussed the matter in this form.
– I ask the Minister for Defence a question. Notwithstanding the difference in the ages of volunteers from the Citizen Military Forces and national service trainees, why should there be any difference in the repatriation benefits available to the two kinds of serviceman?
– There is no difference in repatriation benefits. There are differences in terms of re-establishment, for reasons which I adequately covered in my answer to an earlier question. The two classes of serviceman fall into different categories. National servicemen are men who have been arbitrarily separated from their employment. Therefore they are entitled to reestablishment rights. Citizen Military Forces volunteers, on the other hand, are well aware of conditions applying to their enlistment. They either accept them or not.
Opposition members. - Oh.
– I thought members of the Opposition did not want to see recruits anyhow.
– Do not make them second class citizens.
– They are not second class citizens. These are two different classications of military personnel. It has been thought proper to apply compulsory reemployment provisions in the case of national servicemen but completely inappropriatefor these same conditions to be applied in respect of C.M.F. volunteers.
– I ask the Minister for National Development a question. In view of the outstanding voluntary work done in the past 10 years by 1,000 people for the Water Research Foundation in vital research on all aspects of water resources, uses and storage and in view of the fact that the Foundation has spent $253,000 of private money in research in that time, will the Government consider providing in the coming Budget a grant to the Foundation for water research in Australia, which is a subject of tremendous importance in the battle to beat drought, erosion and waste and to increase our production?
– The question relates to a matter of policy, which will be considered during preparation of the Budget. I agree that the Water Research Foundation has undertaken excellent work and has in certain fields improved our knowledge of water quite considerably. A meeting of the Water Resources Council will be held in Adelaide on Friday next, and the matter of a donation to the Water Research Foundation is listed for discussion.
– I ask the Treasurer whether General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. earned$2 1,626,000 in foreign exchange last year. Did that firm disburse only $20 million in dividends, leaving an excess of $1,626,000? Do these figures reflect a picture of this company quite different from that normally presented by members of the Opposition?
– Other figures could be cited to support the case that General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. is engaged, not only in providing employment for large numbers of Australians, but in introducing technical knowhow and development projects into this country which could not be developed unless corporations such as General Motors were prepared to take the risk. I point out also that General Motors has become heavily involved in exports from Australia. The amount that it earns by its exports more than covers the amount that is required to pay dividends remitted overseas.
– The Deputy Prime Minister does not agree with the Minister.
– He does agree with this. I state, and state positively, on behalf of the Government that if we can encourage the entry into Australia of companies that will earn export income large enough to pay their overseas dividends then we should do so, because those are the companies that we want to see established in Australia.
– I address a question to the Minister for Health. I refer to national service trainees who were members of a friendly society or pharmaceutical benefits fund prior to 24th April 1964 but who decided to allow their membership to lapse while they remained in the Army. Will those trainees be entitled, on completion of their service, to rejoin the society or fund and be eligible for the pharmaceutical benefits to which they were previously entitled, or must they be registered as new members and so be denied the 5s. rebate on pharmaceutical dispensing fees? If they must, in accordance with the Act as if now stands, be registered as new members, will the Minister have the Act amended to ensure that these trainees and other servicemen will not, upon return to civilian life, lose any of the health benefits to which they were entitled before their call-up?
– I will be only too glad to inquire into the precise situation. I know that quite a number of the largest medical and hospital benefits organisations have already, on their own initiative and without any prompting from the Government, decided to allow national servicemen who complete their periods of service to renew their membership and be entitled to benefits as though there had been no break in their contributions. However, I will have a look at the situation and do anything necessary to achieve the result suggested by the honorable member.
– I wish to make a personal explanation Mr. Speaker. Earlier today, I asked the Acting Prime Minister a question about Marshal Ky, who said in London some time ago that he was an admirer of Hitler and that he was sorry there were not six Hitlers in his country. I asked whether our Prime Minister had had a conversation with Marshal Ky, and the Acting Prime Minister said: “ Why insult the Prime Minister?” 1 had no intention of insulting the Prime Minister. I have never insulted him in regard to his office or in regard to his person. He is a good friend of mine. What I asked was whether the Prime Minister had had a conversation with this queer character who is the Prime Minister of Saigon, and whether the Prime Minister of Saigon had said there would be a 20 years war. I asked the Acting Prime Minister whether the Government had prepared any plans with regard to that 20 years war. I think my question was framed in accordance with all the laws of syntax which 1 learned from Nesfield’s grammar. I still read Nesfield’s grammar because I still think I have not a sufficient knowledge of the English language. I wish some of my political opponents who are trying to interject would read Nesfield every now and then. I think many of them have never read Nesfield in any case.
– Order! I point out that the Leader of the Opposition is not allowed to debate the subject matter of his personal explanation.
– 1 admit I was a little carried away, Mr. Speaker. I ask the Acting Prime Minister to withdraw his observation that I should not insult the Prime Minister.
– I am glad the Leader of the Opposition has spoken because clearly there is a misunderstanding of what I said. This may be due to my own inadequacy. In answering the honorable member I referred to his reference to the Prime Minister of South Vietnam, a country alongside which we are fighting. I said I thought it was unnecessary to be offensive to the Prime Minister of that country.
– You did not use those words.
– That is what I said, but I realised when I said it that my voice had dropped. I was referring to the Prime Minister of South Vietnam. I hope this has now cleared the matter up.
– I am satisfied.
– by leave - I am pleased to be able to inform the House that the Governments of Australia and Yugoslavia have agreed to establish diplomatic relations and to exchange ambassadors. Yugoslavia occupies a significant place in the world because of its special relations and contacts with other countries in eastern Europe and because of the role it plays in many of the meetings and activities of uncommitted countries. It is also a country with which Australia has developed a number of practical contacts, particularly in the field of migration. We want to see the contacts between the two countries develop further.
The Australian embassy in Belgrade will be opened by a charge d’affaires, who is expected to arrive there with some staff in the latter part of next month. An ambassador, resident in Belgrade, will be appointed later. We look forward also to the establishment in Canberra of an embassy of Yugoslavia.
– I have received a letter from the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -
The failure of the Government to recognise the critical shortage of qualified teachers and classroom accommodation in schools throughout Australia and its Territories and its refusal to implement important recommendations of the Martin Committee, recent Premiers’ Conferences and the Australian Education Council designed to alleviate these conditions.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
.- Despite the massive weight of evidence provided by State Governments and Ministers for Education, high-ranking educationists, professional education bodies, parent and citizen organisations, teach-ins and student organisations, the Federal Government still pretends that there is nothing seriously wrong with the state of education in Australia. Indeed, its spokesman, Senator Gorton, Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education, spends much of his time on public platforms these days repeatedly denying that there is a Crist’; in education. When, in the face of a barrage of criticism of this viewpoint, he can sometimes be persuaded to acknowledge that perhaps there are some problems and 1 ;111.culties, he offers the defence, as he did recently at a Melbourne teach-in. that the position is slowly improving anyway.
The Australian Labour Party says that there is a crisis in education in Australia today. It is concerned principally and immediately with an acute shortage of qualified teachers and suitable classrooms. The crisis has been looming for some time. The Government has been given strong and highly authoritative warnings about it over a period of at least 10 years. The result of the Government’s neglect is that from an economic viewpoint alone the educational drought that has been self-inflicted will be vastly more costly, more pervasive and more enduring than all the unhappy accumulated losses caused by the unfortunate weather drought. In respect of all the other aspects of our children’s development, including personality, character, social, cultural, spiritual, aesthetic and physical development, the costs of the nation’s stunted educational provisions will be incalculable.
Mr. Speaker, I spoke of highly authoritative warnings to the Government. In 1961, again in 1963 and yet again in 1965 the Australian Education Council, composed of the Ministers and Directors of Education of each of the six States, compiled a comprehensive report of the current needs of education for the whole of the Commonwealth. This document has been titled “ Some Needs of Australian Education “. Its findings were presented to Premiers’ Conferences in 1961 and 1964 by the New South Wales Labour Government on behalf of all the Premiers, and the three major political parties were represented. Regarding classroom accommodation, the 1965 report of the Council complained of widespread use of makeshift and unsatisfactory accommodation such as corridors, shelter sheds, rented halls, houses and staff rooms. Apart from the requirements of new enrolments, more than 1,000 classroom units were needed, it stated, to replace (his unsatisfactory accommodation. To accommodate additional classes that would be formed by reducing oversized classes an additional 3,600 classrooms would be necessary.
From 1961 on, the Council reiterated that insufficient provision was being made for gymnasiums, school halls, shelter facilities, libraries, school grounds and ovals. It laid special emphasis on the fact that’ the rate of increase in enrolments in secondaryschools had been much higher than the rate of increase in enrolments generally. This pointed up the urgent need for more classroom accommodation in secondary schools, particularly in the senior years. I interpolate here that the cost of maintaining students at that level can be up to four times that for pupils in primary schools. This responsible Council estimated that for the whole of the Commonwealth an additional capital expenditure of $196 million would be needed in addition to current levels of expenditure over the next four years reasonably to meet accommodation requirements. By and large, the Commonwealth has failed to respond to the challenge, lt largely disowns responsibility for primary and secondary education and for teacher training.
So what is the position today? My colleagues will be speaking for their own States. My remarks at this point refer mainly to my own State, New South Wales. Plans for the building of 27 new high schools and 1 1 primary schools in New South Wales by 1967 to meet urgent needs have been deferred. For how long? Nobody is able to tell us. The State Minister for Education, Mr. Cutler, was reported on 18th April of this year as seeking a special loan from the Commonwealth to end what has been called the critical lag in the New South Wales school building programme. Information from the Minister and other sources indicates that there will be acute problems in high schools next year when 13,000 students are expected to be enrolled in the new sixth form under the Wyndham scheme. These 13,000 senior students alone, 1 suggest, could necessitate the provision of at least 520 extra classrooms. Moreover, these would be classrooms of a particular kind, having regard to the fact that these will be very senior students doing work almost at university first year level. Indeed, the whole intention is to prepare them better for university and other forms of tertiary education. To this, of course, must be added the fact that very many more students who formerly would have left school after the old third year Intermediate Certificate examination will now stay on at least until the fourth form School Certificate examination under the Wyndham scheme.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, in my opinion the full implementation of the very laudable Wyndham scheme will be seriously impeded by the acute shortage of proper classroom accommodation and equipment almost as much as by the dearth of qualified teachers. This could make a farce of all our fervent hopes of cutting down costly failure rates at the universities and other tertiary institutions by the better preparation of students at secondary school level. It highlights the tragic shortsightedness of the Commonwealth’s piecemeal education policy of aiding higher education but substantially denying help to the lower levels on which ultimate success must be built. In New South Wales, in both public and private schools, surveys show that thousands of pupils are still being taught in makeshift premises and in ugly school buildings that should have been demolished 20 years ago.
Yet Senator Gorton says that there is no crisis in education. The Minister for Education in New South Wales, who is a member of the Australian Country Party, within the last few months gave to the New South Wales Teachers Federation this statement of the position -
The demands of the rapidly expanding school population have created a situation which has forced me to defer almost entirely the construction of facilities other than normal classrooms.
Those are the Minister’s very words. This means that there will be no assembly halls, no gymnasiums, no new libraries, no new clinics, no counselling offices and no additional staff rooms, shelter sheds or playing fields. None of these things can be provided for the indefinite future. To cap it all, the Minister said -
Although there is a considerable number of projects listed for teachers’ college capital works, at this stage it is not possible to give any indication when these will bc included in a particular financial year’s programme.
What a shocking statement for any Minister to have to make.
The other dimension of the crisis, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is the acute shortage of qualified teachers. The report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia, which is often termed the Martin Committee, after its distinguished Chairman, Sir Leslie Martin, was compiled at the request of the Commonwealth Government. The relevant volume - volume I - was presented to the Government in August 1964 after three years of searching inquiry. In my view, the heart of that report was its recommendations on teacher education. It was a bitter and tragic blow to all levels of Australian education and to all professional educationists when Sir Robert Menzies, the former Prime Minister, on 24th March 1965, referring to these important recommendations on teacher education, announced in the Parliament -
Important as this field is, the Commonwealth is not prepared to enter it.
At least, he conceded that it is important. Today, time will permit me to mention only a few of the now well known recommendations of the Martin Committee on this subject. In terms similar to those used in 1957 by the Committee on Australian Universities, shortly known as the Murray Committee, the Martin Committee empha sised the importance of teacher supply in these words -
The Committee is convinced that both the increase in the supply of teachers and the improvement in the quality of their professional preparation are matters of urgency in the interests not only of the schools concerned but of the whole of the nation’s educational structure.
Catch this additional remark -
It is equally convinced that this dual demand cannot be met without a special endeavour involving both the States and the Commonwealth.
The proposed autonomous Boards of Teacher Education suggested by the Martin Committee could have revolutionised the professional preparation of teachers in Australia to the very great benefit of both the public and the private sectors of education. These proposals, I must say, have the complete support of the Australian Labour Party. Conferences of educationists and other persons interested in education all over Australia have since called for the implementation of them.
Despite the strong suggestions by the former Prime Minister that the States would be opposed to these proposals, I know of no Premier and no State Minister for Education who has said so. Indeed, the situation is quite the contrary. Addressing the New South Wales Teachers Federation Conference on 20th December 1965, Mr. Cutler, the State Minister for Education, said that the period of teacher training had to be increased. He added -
Its implementation is going to be beyond the financial scope of the State itself to meet this new challenge and new demand which is being made in the field of teacher training.
I emphasise that the Minister is a member of the Country Party. He went on -
And I very sincerely hope again, in the very immediate future, that the Commonwealth Government will have a little bit of rethinking on their acceptance of the Martin Committee report.
Speaking after the Minister at the same conference, the Director-General of Education, Dr. Wyndham, himself a distinguished and, I believe, very active member of the Martin Committee, referring to the teacher education proposals, said very pointedly -
In respect of primary and infants’ school teachers alone, if all the Martin Committee proposals were adopted, the number of places in teachers’ colleges throughout Australia would need to be more than trebled between 1964 and 1973. Thanks io the unco-operative attitude of the Commonwealth, two years of the proposed ten year programme have gone by with virtually nothing being done to meet the challenge of our existing, let alone future, urgent needs for more and better qualified teachers.
What are- some of the results of this disastrous policy? It was stated in the 1965 Report of the Australian Education Council that there were “ marked deficiencies “ in the number of qualified teachers at the higher levels of secondary schooling. As I said earlier, there is now clear evidence that the new Wyndham Scheme in New South Wales is going to be seriously, possibly critically, hampered by the unavailability of qualified teachers. Bad as the situation is in State Schools, a personal survey which I have conducted in private schools throughout Australia indicates that their position will be even more desperate. A recent survey in N.S.W. State Schools shows that only 46 per cent, of secondary school teachers are graduates. The number of teachers trained for two years who are teaching secondary classes, even senior classes, is increasing. Many classes in infant, primary and secondary departments are still overcrowded. As a result of this, thousands of children have no hope of individual help from their teacher. Another result of this is that private coaching colleges are mushrooming to meet the needs of those who can afford their services. Inequality breeds inequality. Only the economically fit can survive in this rat race. No wonder that the 33 per cent, of Australian fathers who are unskilled or semi-skilled provide only 1.1 per cent, of university entrants and that 14 per cent, of Australian fathers who are farmers provide only 2.3 per cent, of such entrants. From fathers who are in professional and high administrative positions come children who are 10 and 20 times more likely to enter university.
The evidence clearly shows that we are wasting talent - mostly in the underprivileged ranks of our society. Despite the acute shortage of teachers at all levels, well qualified applicants for teachers college scholarships are being rejected each year in their thousands. This is a shocking and disgraceful position.
The N.S.W. Premier, Mr. Askin, is reported as having said that education standards in N.S.W. were being prevented from moving with the times by the limit placed by the Australian Loan Council on the money State Governments could raise. He is quoted as having said: “The Commonwealth Government controls the purse strings today”. The Labour Party believes that the Martin Committee recommendations on teacher education must be implemented for the benefit of both State 5>nd non-State schools. It believes that emergency financial grants must be made immediately to the States so that some realistic attempt can be made to tackle accommodation, teacher supply, research and other problems in education which threaten our children’s welfare and the nation’s progress. It also believes that a national inquiry should be made into the long term needs of primary, secondary and technical education, in both public and private sectors. I leave Senator Gorton and his supporters with this quotation from a British Broadcasting Commission lecture by Sir Leon Bagrit in 1964 - i would not trust the management of the nation’s affairs to a man who had no first hand knowledge of what was happening in this quickly changing world.
– The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) and the Australian Labour Party have been squeaking away about educational crises ever since I have been in this House. I have said one or two things about the motives of the honorable member and his colleagues who are the representatives in this House of a militant and highly organised pressure group. I will not refer to that fact this afternoon. I will adopt a high minded and statesmanlike attitude.
– That will be a change.
– It is something which the honorable member for Yarra is unlikely to do. While the honorable member for Barton and his colleagues have been calling for the discussion of matters of urgency, crying crisis, and howling calamity generally, in the 10 years that I have been in this Parliament we have seen the most spectacular improvement in educational services in the nation’s history. While honorable members opposite have been howling crisis our educational system has been progressively improving as fast, if not faster than that of any other country in the world. While honorable members opposite have been manufacturing crises, the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments between them have been increasing the proportion of our national resources flowing into the educational system at a rate faster than in any other sphere of Government responsibility. No one has to take my word for this statement. The figures are available for anyone who wants to find them. In 1950-51, expenditure by the States on education was £38 million which was 21 per cent, of State budgets. In 1958-59 the States spent, not £38 million, but £112 million; not 21 per cent, of State budgets but 25 per cent. In 1965-66, the current financial year, expenditure by the States rose from £112 million to no less than £230 million. This was not 25 per cent, but 28 per cent, of State budgets.
This is a spectacular increase, in any man’s language, and it is a good guide to the priority the States have given to education. As every honorable member will be aware, however well intentioned the States may be, they cannot just wave a wand and conjure money out of the air. More than half of State revenues are supplied by the Commonwealth by way of reimbursement grants. It is no coincidence, therefore, that at the same time as this spectacular increase in spending on education took place there was a large increase in Commonwealth reimbursement grants to the States. In 1950-51, the figure was £103 million; in 1958-59 it was £226 million; and in 1964-65 it was £398 million- nearly £400 million. There is no mention of this by the Opposition, for obvious reasons.
In evaluating expenditure on education in Australia, I have pointed only to expenditure by the States which, of course, have the primary responsibility in this field. But if the increase in expenditure by the States has been spectacular the increase in direct spending by the Commonwealth has been even more spectacular. I have only to say that in 1960-61 the Commonwealth spent S50 million and that this year, five years later, the figure is $130 million in order to make my point. I do not want to bore the House with figures but what they mean is that in each of the ten years I have been a member of this Parliament, just to take that as a bench mark, there has been an increase in spending on education in Australia of at least 12 per cent. There was no year within that 10 year period in which the increase over the previous year was not at least 12 per cent.
– What about enrolments?
Dr. FORBES__ That increase is remarkable. An increase of that order must more than take account of cost increases. To answer the honorable member for Barton, it would more than account for increases in school population. It would do more than provide a surplus to effect desirable improvements such as that in the pupilteacher ratio about which the Opposition has had so much to say in the past but on which it is strangely silent this afternoon. There has been a substantial improvement in the pupil-teacher ratio. Indeed, it is true to say that this annual increase of 12 per cent, has done more than meet the target necessary to achieve the objects laid down by the Australian Education Council in every one of the years in which the Council has been forecasting the expenditure necessary, not only to hold the existing situation, but to meet desirable improvements.
I mention this because it is a central point in the matter which the Opposition has raised for discussion as one of public importance. Every forecast of requirements made by the Council, not only to meet the existing situation but to reach desirable improvements, has been achieved in the year in which it stated they were necessary. Yet the Opposition has quoted the Council in putting its case against the Government today. The Council sees deficiencies. That is enough for the Opposition to make a noise about it. The Council quotes annual targets to remedy these deficiencies. These targets are met. The Opposition is strangely silent.
– Does the Minister ever go around to the schools?
– Yes, I do, and I will say this to the honorable member: There is hardly a centre in the large country electorate in South Australia that I represent in which a brand new school has not been built in the last five years. The best way that I. can describe the attitude of members of the Opposition to education is to say that they are like a mob of screaming urchins, constantly trying to climb aboard a bandwagon - the education bandwagon - but they never quite succeed because, while they jump up and down on the one spot screaming the same old slogans, the wagon moves on at the cracking pace of about 12 per cent, per annum, which represents the increase in expenditure by the Commonwealth and State Governments. I said they were screaming the same old slogans. That is not quite correct. Some of these slogans have been dropped because not even honorable gentlemen opposite, who habitually regard the public as infinitely gullible, believe they will hold water. To make the point, they used to quote highly dubious comparisons of percentages of gross national product spent on education in various countries. This was characteristically designed, of course, to show their own country in the worst possible light. Recently, they have been strangely silent about the percentage of the gross national product spent on education. Why? Because not even they can deny that the percentage of the gross national product spent on education in this country at about 4 per cent, and rising places us among the top half dozen countries in the world.
As the old slogans become more untenable, as the bandwagon moves on, Opposition members are forced to elevate to a major argument the central point of the matter they have raised today. The crisis in education, they say, arises from the Commonwealth’s rejection of one of the recommendations of the Martin Committee - that relating to teacher training. They fail to add that the Commonwealth Government accepted most of the other recommendations of that Committee, with the considerable financial consequences involved, amounting to about £28 million in the current triennium. Nevertheless, they would have us believe that the whole of the Australian educational system is about to break down because we rejected one of the recommendations. We rejected a recommendation that the Commonwealth should assist in the capital and recurrent costs of teachers’ colleges for two reasons. The first is that teacher training is such an integral part of State educational policy that it would be difficult for the Commonwealth to enter the field without striking a blow at the autonomy of the States. The second is that, although teacher training is vitally important, the financial commitment asked of the Commonwealth was so relatively small - £10 million over four years - that the Government felt it would be reasonably easy for the States to find the money themselves. We were encouraged in this view by the fact that, first, in accepting the other recommendations of the Martin Committee, we would be relieving the States directly of what would have been a substantial burden on their budgets and, secondly, that the new financial arrangements made with the States for the next five years would provide large and regular subventions to their overall budgets, and therefore assist them to meet the expense of teacher training.
I remind the House that the States are spending £230 million on education this year, that the Commonwealth has increased its expenditure on education this year by £9 million over last year and that taxation reimbursements will increase by 10 per cent, this year and probably by at least an equal amount in each of the next five years. Yet Opposition members seriously try to suggest that the inability of the Commonwealth to contribute £10 million for teacher training over four years has of itself created a crisis in the Australian education system. Can we take them seriously? Just how much sincerity can we attach to their case when they howl “ Crisis “ on such an unsubstantial point? Equally, how much weight can we attach to their protestations of interest in the educational welfare of Australian children when they confine their interests to children at Government schools. They profess the highest motives, the highest ideals. This educational torch that they hold aloft clothes them in virtue and they say that the Government must be flailed, arraigned, and brought to the bar of public opinion for its alleged neglect. Yet so deep are their convictions, so sincere their protestations and so pure their motives that the 20 to 25 per cent, of Australian children who attend non-Government schools can go to hell, if I may employ a phrase used in a circular sent around by a man who has held high office in the Australian Labour Party. All I will say is: Who is kidding whom, when such a proposal as this is raised in the House as a matter of public importance?
It is not my purpose to suggest this afternoon that education is not important. It is not my purpose to suggest that there are not deficiences. There are, and they can and must be remedied. It is my purpose to suggest, however, that the vital importance of education is clearly recognised by the priorities accorded to it by both Commonwealth and State Governments. In no other sphere of Government activity in Australia have such large increases in expenditure been sustained for such a long period as there have been in the education field. It is also my purpose to suggest that a proposal raised as a matter of public importance which has as its central thesis that there is a crisis in Australian education because the Commonwealth does not find £10 million over four years for teacher training - a proposal moreover raised by a Party whose policy on education is confined to only three-quarters of Australia’s children - is not worthy of the consideration of the Parliament.
.- This is not the first time that the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) has demonstrated in this House that he does not know what the debate is about. The discussion this afternoon relates to the critical shortage of qualified teachers in the Australian education system. Any man in public life, whether he is a Minister of the Crown or a Doctor of Philosophy, or whatever other rank or status he may have achieved by great and distinguished efforts in his field, who does not realise that this is one of the facts of education life must walk around with his eyes shut. The Minister gave figures related to the cost of needs in teacher training. I think he gave a figure of £10 million over four years. The Australian Education Council estimated that the cost was about £25 million. That is a substantial sum in anybody’s money and it is certainly a substantial sum to be found in the education system of Australia.
We are not debating the inadequacies of Departments of Education; we are trying to get the Parliament to face the problems in one of the most critical fields of governmental activity - that is, education. We on this side of the House believe, and we are sup ported by innumerable commentators at all levels in the education field, that most difficulty is now to be found in teacher training. We assert, and we are supported by the report of the Martin Committee, which was the result of a survey conducted by a Committee appointed by the Government, that the field of teacher training is a legitimate field for Commonwealth assistance and that the failure of the Commonwealth to implement the recommendations of the Martin Committee and to expand this whole field has been detrimental to the Australian education system. We have become accustomed to the statistical smokescreens behind which honorable members opposite retire when we discuss education. When will they face the problems that really matter? When will they realise the quality of the problems in education, their characteristics and their needs?
The Minister said that this is a manufactured crisis and that there has been spectacular improvement in education. He said that the improvement in education is as fast as, if not faster than, the improvement in any other field of Commonwealth activity. This has nothing to do with the case. We are concerned with what goes on in the schools. The Minister said that he goes round his vast country electorate and sees new schools rising all the time. Does he ever go inside to see what goes on? Has he had a close study made to see whether inadequacies may exist even in new buildings? Does he have a look at the schools which are not new buildings in which the great majority of school children of Australia are being taught? I believe his speech was unworthy of a member of a Government.
The Opposition is concerned about a number of features of teacher education. First, it is concerned about the length of training; secondly, about the quality of training; and thirdly about the difficulties in each of the levels of education. There are specialist fields such as kindergarten, the teaching of deaf and disabled people and so on, but in the major fields of primary, secondary and tertiary education there are lamentable inadequacies in the training of the teachers and in the quality of the education that is at the end of it all. There is also an inadequacy of planning in the whole field of education. This criticism is valid, of course, and relates to an urgent problem. As we have said so often in this House, the children who pass through the education system today cannot come back. It is no good in 10 years’ time doing something for the wave of young children who are going through the schools today. The Government is given a lengthy notice of the arrival of children in schools. Children are six years old by the time they reach the primary school, 12 years old by the time they reach secondary school and 18, 19 and 20 by the time they go to university. At each of these levels there is - from birth rate statistics and statistics of the growth of popular demand for education - substantial evidence of the need for action; but this Government continually ignores the evidence.
The resources of the nation are at the disposal of this Government more than any other. This is the only Government which can take effective action. The Minister for Health has had something to say this afternoon and he will be supported by other honorable members opposite. We hear from the Minister in charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research the same old story. I will say, however, for that Minister that he pays us a greater compliment than does the Minister for Health. He does acknowledge that we have a motive for saying what we do.
What is the teacher position? Let me examine the position in my own electorate. I have with me a copy of a letter sent by the Newlands High School Staff Association to parents of the Newlands High School. lt is as follows -
DO YOU KNOW: -
Of the 33 full-time and 11 part-time members of staff, 18 teachers do not possess the minimum requirement for permanent employment in secondary schools.
Of these there are eight who are attempting teaching for the first time and without the benefit of even one day’s teacher training.
Fifteen classes at this school have been without a regular teacher for an average of seven weeks during term one, including a matriculation mathematics form which has been eight weeks without a regular teacher.
Even qualified teachers are sometimes compelled to take subjects for which they are not qualified.
In the key subject of English, 73 per cent, of the periods in forms I, II, and III are taken by teachers unqualified to teach the subject. In forms IV and V 13 periods out of a total of 46 periods are taken by persons unqualified to teach English.
There are a few more paragraphs to the letter. That is a school with which I am closely identified and which I know very well. I know that the pattern is repeated from school to school throughout Victoria and, as far as I can determine, throughout Australia. Any person in public life who denies that the position is critical needs to change the whole system of his observation. So, from personal observation, from inquiries and from every field of review, we can say that the teacher position in Australia is desperate and needs immediate action.
The Labour Party is concerned also with the training of teachers. The Martin Committee’s report had something to say about the length of training of teachers. At the moment the period in most Australian States is two years. In some it is even less than that. In Britain in 1961, battered as it had been throughout the war, a crowded island and all the rest of it, the standard period of training was increased to three years. It is beyond the financial capacity of the States to do this. A national plan is needed. We need to produce some kind of equality of opportunity throughout the States.
Then there is the question of how the teachers are to be trained. It has become established educational thinking in this country that the training of teachers ought to be done free from the department in which the teachers are eventually to be employed. It is not sound educational practice to continue an educational system in which teachers are trained by their final employers. The Martin Committee was of the opinion - and, as I said, this opinion is substantially supported throughout the educational world in Australia at the moment - that teacher education should be removed from the State systems and given an autonomy so that teacher education can acquire a dynamic of its own. Only the Commonwealth can do this. The Commonwealth Government can encourage, its supporters can make speeches but definite action has to be taken and something initiated. This, we believe, is the Commonwealth’s role.
In the field of planning, all the evidence shows that from about 1971 there will be a greater crisis, if one can use that word. Whether one can use the word “ crisis “ when a condition continues for generation after generation, is perhaps a question of semantics. But, in fact, for each individual as he or she passes through the system the question is critical. I. believe, and the Labour Party believes, that there are a number of fields that call for Commonwealth action. The Commonwealth must implement the recommendations of the Martin Committee for the establishment of boards for teacher education. The Commonwealth should initiate research in education techniques at all levels - that is the pedagogical side of the profession in the educational field. There ought to be a great deal more effort from the Commonwealth to equalise the opportunity, the training and the emolument of teachers. The schedule of allowances paid to students shows a substantial variation from Slate to State. A teachers training college should be established in Canberra, not only to support Commonwealth activities but also to establish fields of new endeavour and venturous attitudes in the fields of pedagogy.
Lastly, I suggest that in certain fields the Commonwealth is the only authority that can launch new projects such as the teaching of Asian languages, which is one of the most neglected fields in Australian education. It is because of these things that this proposal for discussion has been placed before the Parliament. What really matters in the educational system is not how many votes go to which party at the next election, but the quality of education given under our system and the quality of thinking that is developed in the minds of the children who pass through this system. No stage of education in the Australian governmental system should lack the full capacity of Australia’s great resources, and Australia is one of the wealthiest nations of the world.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- There is one respect, and only one, in which I sometimes envy the Opposition its role in this Parliament; that is that it can treat individual themes or problems in a glorious isolation remote from the overall pattern of responsibility which the Government bears for the entire functioning and developing of the nation. When it comes to social services, for instance, we should all like to see the means test abolished overnight. We would all like to say “ yes “ to so many valuable ideas. We would also, of course, like to decrease taxation at the same time, to give more aid to drought victims, to strengthen our defence equipment, put more money into northern development and into housing, to mention only a few things besides education. High up on the list is the need for more to be spent on education, fine though the record now is.
Some of what the Opposition has been saying in this debate is reasonably true. Some of the things it aims at have a degree of verity about them. Some of the ways in which members of the Opposition have presented their views have been wrong headed. Let us face the fact, however, that there are appalling conditions in some schools today. I recently inspected the boys high school in Ashfield. I was accompanied by members of the Parents and Citizens Association and the staff. I was frankly dismayed at the overcrowding and the totally unsuitable conditions. I admit at the same time that there is a large and increasing number of wonderful schools with exciting facilities. In these spheres education is something that every Australian should be proud to witness. But in New South Wales there is an added burden. The valuable Wyndham plan has recently been introduced. However, it has been introduced in a manner which has reproduced what I can only describe as an educational opera house bungle, lt was brought in in haste and without adequate safeguards. As a result, much of its value is being lost, and it will take years for the new New South Wales Government to sort out its predecessor’s mistakes. The same can be said of teacher education. I do not intend to dwell on the figure cited by the Minister which was printed in the document “ Some Needs of Australian Education “. The Minister referred to its estimate of needed expenditure of £10 million over four or five years. I leave that estimate aside as inadequate thinking. I do not need to be reminded by anyone of the need in this field. On the very day that Mr. Harold Holt was elected to lead my Party, I delivered to him a letter of four foolscap pages on this theme. I came to Canberra during the last recess especially to confer with Senator Gorton on points arising from my submission. I have had innumberable talks with interested parties.
This afternoon I wish to say two things. First, I wish the Opposition good luck in its role of piecemeal pursuer of the Government on this kind of issue. I say: Keep it up on all such issues, but do not try to blame the Government for being responsible and for relating education to other fields of demand and other emergencies. Secondly, in respect of teacher training the report of the Martin Committee is a far from adequate document, as it recognises itself. We must have a lot more constructive and creative thinking - unifying thinking - by professional and amateur educationists everywhere, even from the Opposition. The period of ten minutes I am allowed in this debate is a hopelessly short time in which to tackle the theme of teacher training, so I shall concentrate on the Martin Committee’s report. It was brought down in August 1964 and asked for sweeping action - almost in retrospect - even for emergency action with regard to teacher training. For example, it makes a vital proposal for transition from a two year course to a three year course in teacher’s colleges to be implemented during the period from 1964 to 1971. The report states-
The limiting factor in such transition will be the rate at which extra buildings and staff can be provided in the colleges.
Yet this precipitate - indeed, impossibly hasty - action must be taken in the light of three previously noted factors in the report, none of which has been referred to this afternoon by honorable members opposite. The first factor is the evident disunity in the field of education across the nation. In paragraph 4.44 the report states -
There can be few professional fields in Australia about which there has been so much debate during recent years.
Again and again the report refers to confusion and lack of unity among would be planners. There has been no mention of State responsibilities and sovereignties in this field. At paragraph 4.65 the report states -
The Committee considers that it will be (be responsibility of each State to determine the method by which the transition . . . is to be effected, and the speed with which it is to be accomplished.
At paragraph 4.89 the report states - the answer to the question of the graduate status of young teachers, and the answers to the other related questions, can only be arrived at State by State. . . .
The third point, which obviously bedevils any precipitate or emergency action by the Commonwealth, is one which attracted particular recognition by the Committee. The Committee’s report states at paragraph 4.59-
Other steps call for less complex action, though they are certain to raise problems of finance, and can be taken only if authorities are prepared, in some measure, to disregard the current demand for more teachers.
These three aspects underline a proposal which is made for implementing emergency measures, beginning in the very year that the Martin Committee’s report was brought down. No doubt the Opposition would dispose of the problem involved in State powers and sovereignties simply by abolishing or totally subordinating all State Government departments and responsibilities to the Commonwealth. That is an important plank in the Opposition’s platform, and one which Australians must continue to ponder in its various facets every time they go to the ballot boxes. No doubt State departments would be abolished overnight by the Opposition.
I wish to state my own beliefs in regard to teacher training in principle. It is a problem of tremendous importance and of the most vital concern for the future of Australia. As our teachers are, so will future generations be. To pupils, teachers are more important than equipment, buildings, playgrounds, or anything else other than parents. The cost of ensuring the highest calibre and quality of teachers for our children should be of minimal concern. There are few fields in which money could be better spent. Three major facets must be developed in our teachers. I refer to academic proficiency, either as general practitioners or as specialists; professional skills in understanding, caring for and handling young people; and the ability to convey personal commitment and dedication to purposeful living. Teachers should be as well trained and as highly regarded as members of any other profession. For the most part they should have the same professional qualifications - a university degree - though often it should be a degree of a specially suitable kind. They need breadth as well as depth. I can see many advantages in having all student teachers, for both private and public schools, obtain their basic education together, thus breaking down potential barriers and contributing a healthy diversity of outlook. I think there should be vastly greater expenditure in this field. Some of it should be in the form of incentives to attract our brightest young men into the teaching profession. We do not do so badly with regard to young women.
Therefore, in one respect I agree with the Opposition; that is, in the urgency of these measures. However, I suggest that in the immediate future we will be hearing from the Australian College of Education on its review of the situation of teacher training. In the light of its report, additional valuable information, new and more forward thinking can be developed. I address the urgency underlined in the debate this afternoon not only to the Commonwealth Government, but also to the Opposition, the State Governments, the teaching profession, the parents of children and, indeed, to the entire nation, whose future depends on our willingness to face this challenge. Money will be needed in large quantities if we are to meet the challenge which confronts us today.
.- I support the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) in raising this matter of public importance. The honorable member made several points. In the first instance, he referred to the critical shortage of trained and qualified teachers. I believe that his contention has been borne out by what has been said by the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay). The honorable member for Barton also referred to obsolete class rooms and other school equipment that is to be found in every State. I shall address some remarks to that subject in a few moments. The honorable member for Barton also referred to the rejection of important recommendations made by the Martin Committee in its report. One such recommendation was in respect of teacher training. The views expressed by the honorable member for Barton were supported at the Premiers’ Conference in 1963, and by the Australian Education Council. Earlier this afternoon the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes), in reply to the honorable member for Barton, implied that this matter is raised consistently by the Opposition purely and simply for political purposes. The honorable member for Evans was much more generous in his assessment. He stated that he believed that the Opposition has a case to put before this Parliament. Many of the matters referred to this afternoon by the honorable member for Barton were supported by the honorable member for Evans.
The Minister for Health does not believe that there is a crisis in education in Australia. He is completely out of step with parents’ and citizens’ organisations throughout the Commonwealth. He certainly is out of step with teachers’ organisations and with all those people who take a direct or indirect interest in educational matters. The Minister said that more money has been spent on education and therefore there is no crisis in education. We had hoped that more money would have been spent on education in recent years. I submit that if more money has been spent for educational purposes then it is because such expenditure has been recommended by a number of the committees which were appointed by the Commonwealth Government. The Commonwealth Government has set up a number of committees of inquiry. I mention first the Murray Committee. Then there was the Martin Committee and, thirdly, the Currie Committee which reported on education in Papua and New Guinea.
Surely no member of the Government would believe that the States were in a position to supply all the information that was collated in the reports which those committees presented to this Parliament. The States themselves did not believe that they would be able to provide this information readily. Much valuable work has resulted from the findings of the committees and the Opposition concedes that the Government is entitled to take some credit for the improvements that have been effected in education at the tertiary level. I point out, too, that not one of the committees suggested in its report that the States were in a position themselves to rectify the anomalies that existed at the tertiary level.
The Minister for Health has referred to the amount of money being spend on education each year in this country. He did not go on to point out that although we might be spending slightly more than such countries as Egypt and Turkey we are certainly spending less than is being spent each year in the United States of America, Soviet Russia, the United Kingdom, Canada and many other countries that have a standard of living comparable with ours. The amount of money now being spent on education in this country would compare only with that being spent in such countries as Portugal and Spain. Lack of expenditure on education at the primary, secondary and technical levels is, therefore, the first cause of the present crisis in this country.
For years honorable members on this side of the House have advocated in this Parliament the need for the establishment of a special committee to inquire into the educational requirements of every State of the Commonwealth at the primary, secondary and technical levels. This Government has resisted not only the Opposition’s point of view but also the efforts that were made by the Premiers at the Premiers’ Conferences in 1961 and 1963. It has also resisted the attempts made by the teachers’ organisations in every State to induce the Commonwealth to set up a competent committee to examine educational requirements at the primary secondary and technical levels.
Because the Government has refused to accept its responsibilities in this respect, and because of its reluctance to do anything about teacher training, education at all levels is now faced with a serious threat, as has been pointed out by the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds). The honorable member told us that despite the recommendations of the Martin Committee that a board be established to deal with teacher training, the Government still refuses to accept its responsibility in this field. After giving very careful consideration to this matter, the Martin Committee recommended that the Australian Universities Commission should be replaced by an Australian tertiary education commission which would be vested with the responsibility of dealing not only with university education but also with technological education and training. This recommendation was supported by the Australian Education Council which comprises the State Ministers of Education and the State Directors of Education.
This Australian Education Council first met in Hobart in 1960 and presented its report to the Government in 1961. In 1962, the report was supported by the Premiers at the Premiers Conference held in that year. In 1963, the Council furnished a revised report which was also presented to this Government for its consideration. When dealing with the Martin Committee’s report on teacher training, the then Prime Minister said that, important as this field was, the Government did not intend to enter into it. The Government ignored the warning given by the Australian Education Council in 1963 when it stated that even in that year 6,000 additional teachers were required. The Martin Committee said that between 1964 and 1975 it would be necessary to increase the number of teachers in this country by 72 per cent.; that is, it stated that 47,000 additional teachers would be required by nine years from now. The Government paid no attention whatever to all this evidence. It dismissed out of hand the recommendations of the Martin Committee.
A serious situation has developed through lack of proper school facilities. The honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) referred to this situation early this afternoon and pointed out that there was over crowding in some schools even in his electorate. Let me say that a similar situation exists in Tasmania and that it is beyond the financial resources of that State to correct it. This applies to every State in the Commonwealth. I have before me a report published by the Teachers Federation of New South Wales, which carried out a survey in 1965. In that report the Federation refers to the makeshift accommodation such as rented halls, rooms in other schools, locker rooms, corridors, hat rooms, staff rooms and store rooms. In all, 182 cases of such makeshift accommodation were reported. A similar situation exists in every State. Yet, earlier this afternoon, the Minister for Health suggested in all seriousness to this House that there was no crisis in education in this country.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– In raising this matter, honorable members opposite have laid much emphasis on the claim that there is a crisis in the educational situation in the Australian community today. They claim that my colleague, the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) refused to acknowledge the changing pattern of education and the changing demands of education. They say that he failed to explain to the House that there were changing problems and changing needs. It is true that statistics relating to the number of persons receiving education in Australia today show a changing pattern of education - a widening concept of education within the Australian community and a recognition of the need for all children to receive the maximum education of which they are capable. But this changing pattern has been recognised by governments, which are allocating an ever-increasing percentage of their budgets to educational purposes. Figures show that whereas since 1947 the number of enrolments in primary schools has doubled, enrolments in secondary schools have trebled. This same pattern is repeated at the tertiary level. The whole concept of education has changed, as have the educational requirements for many jobs.
The purposes of education should receive wider acknowledgement by the community. It is not sufficient merely that examinations be passed by students. Too often, I think, the minds of Australians are diverted by cries of “ wolf “ about the physical facilities for education as distinct from the actual advantages to be gained from an education that extends beyond the mere passing of examinations.
Let me hark back to the basis of the Opposition’s case. First I point out that the extent to which the State and Commonwealth Government’s have increased their allocations of funds over the past 10 years is quite remarkable. In each year there has been an increase of not less than 10 per cent, in the annual allocation of the Commonwealth Budget. Overall there has been an average increase of 12 per cent. Whereas in 1964-65 2.49 per cent, of the total Commonwealth Budget was allocated to education, in the current year an estimated 2.6 per cent, is allocated. Not only in the quantity of funds allocated has there been a change in Commonwealth policy; there has been a notable extension of the nature of the educational facilities provided by the Commonwealth. If we hark back to the range and nature of expenditure of the Commonwealth Government when the last
Labour Administration was in power we see that it was restricted to a narrower field. Today the Commonwealth participates at the tertiary level of education, in assistance to Australian students, in capital grants in technical schools, in science facilities in secondary schools, in research grants, in assisting education in the Territories and in supplying educational aid to people from other countries. There are direct educational assistance grants that did not exist in 1949-50. The range within each individual State has been extended also.
The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) said that within New South Wales a critical situation existed in the educational system. If we compare the New South Wales Budgets for 1964-65 and 1965-66 we see that in 1964-65 there was an allocation from loan funds of £15 million or $30 million and from revenue funds £57 million or $114 million for education. In 1965-66 the allocations have been increased respectively to £21 million or $42 million and to £71 million or $142 million. In other words there has been an increase of $12 million or 40 per cent, in the allocation from loan funds and of $28 million or 25 per cent, in the allocation from revenue funds. The total increase is $40 million, which represents approximately a 28 per cent increase in one year. The number of teachers now available for the students in the community shows that there has been a notable improvement in the ratio of teachers to students. So there has been a recognition by the Commonwealth Government and by the New South Wales Government of the changing requirements of education in the Australian community.
There are problems beyond this which are at the crux of our educational system. We have the problem of whether or not the facilities should be utilised more than they are today. We have the problem whether at the senior level of secondary schooling there should be some alteration to the present hours. For instance, in some countries there is a feeling that education should not be at only one period of the day. In other words, it might be feasible to alter the hours so that perhaps senior students instead of working a basic five hour education day could work a period approximating the hours of an average working man. There is no reason why if a student can leave school at the age of 15 years and enter the work force he should not be able when at school to work for longer hours. These may be fields within which there can be some variation of our existing pattern.
I think that the Labour Party this afternoon has once again demonstrated its neglect of one sector of the Australian community in that the plans it has put forward relate only to secular education. Honorable members opposite have ignored the fact that there are two streams of education in Australia. There are not only State run schools but also independent schools, and it is within this dual stream of responsibility for education that the Government has provided notable expansions of facilities to cater for the changing patterns of education. To my mind the future of the Australian educational system depends not on just one sector of the educational stream but also on the other. If we are to continue to foster our young people and to give to them the advantages of the changed patterns of education each one of these sectors must share in the allocation of Commonwealth funds. After all, about one third of the student body at present attend independent schools. It is for this reason and in recognition of this need that the Commonwealth Government has provided assistance towards the construction of science faciliti’es in secondary schools. It is only by the provision of adequate facilities in both kinds of school that we can hope to fulfil the future needs. The crux of the Opposition motion is not that the pattern of education or the needs of education are evolving, but that they are critically changing. The Opposition claims that the Commonwealth Government has failed to meet the changing need, but the considerable increase each year in the allocation of Commonwealth funds shows the appreciation of this Government for this changing pattern and changing need.
Any suggestion that the situation today is deteriorating is unrealistic. It is impossible in 10 minutes to cover the whole range and purport of the educational system and what should be attained in the future, but to my mind intrinsic in our Federal system is the principle that the States themselves must be responsible for their internal education systems. The Commonwealth Government has a responsibility to assist in this field and it is in that respect that the loan funds have been and are being increased. The Commonwealth is providing additional assistance, particularly at the tertiary level, so that the students of today may be better citizens of tomorrow.
.- The debate this afternoon is on a simple question - whether members of this House and, of course, the community outside, consider there is any urgency about education and whether or not there is anything that could be described as a crisis in education in Australia. It is clear that there is a marked difference of view between the Opposition and the Government. The Opposition’s motion has been moved to demonstrate its belief that there is a serious degree of urgency in respect of education in Australia. The spokesman for the Government, the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes), dismissed this completely as not being relevant to the state of education in Australia today. The only member on the Government side from the back benches who has spoken so far was inclined to agree with the Australian Labour Party about the degree of urgency. I approve of most of what he had to say, and I am sure the great majority of the Australian people do so. I will examine that in detail presently. Another spokesman from the Government, a Minister this time, joined the debate. One must contrast what the Ministers have said not only with what the Opposition has said but with what the Government’s own back bencher - the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) - has said. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair), from whom we would expect some sympathy on this subject, began by saying: “ It appears to the Opposition that there is some crisis in education “. It appears to the Opposition; apparently it does not appear to him or to the rest of the Ministers in the Government. Not only does it appear to the Opposition, but it appears to Ministers in State Parliaments, even Liberal Party Ministers, that there is a crisis in education.
I have heard debates between the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton) and members of the Liberal Party in the State Parliaments, and they have disagreed about the urgency there is in respect of education. The Liberal members of the State Parliaments have made out a strong case on the urgency, but the Government’s representative, the Minister responsible for education, has replied that there is no such thing as a crisis. The Minister for Social Services presented statistics about the changing pattern and changing progress of education and he referred to many of the things that have been done during the time this Government has been in office. He said that since 1947 the number of students in primary schools has doubled and that the number in secondary schools has trebled. He said that this situation was true also of tertiary education. I remind the Minister of a couple of things. First the Martin Committee, which was appointed by this Government, dealing with secondary education, reported -
There is evidence that many able boys and girls do not complete their secondary schooling.
Perhaps the number of secondary students has trebled but the facilities available are not nearly adequate to meet the requirements of those who, as the Martin Committee found, do not complete their secondary schooling. Perhaps it is true that the number of students in tertiary education has trebled since 1947, but increasingly in universities there are quotas in almost every faculty. It is clear that in these circumstances universities are not yet big enough. There are not enough places available to meet the needs of the Australian community for places in education. Also, it is more difficult now to obtain those places than it was before. It is more difficult to pass some of the examinations, particularly for young people who do not have the advantage of accessto books or assistance outside their own overcrowded classrooms. It is more difficult for these young people to make their way through secondary and tertiary education because there may not be a depreciation in standards generally but there are not nearly enough facilities to meet their requirements.
It is of no use the Minister or any Minister referring to figures of increased expenditure. We are spending more on education today than we were in 1949, 1954 or 1960 but we know also that since 1949 we have experienced the most rapid inflation of costs in our history. We know that in this time our population has increased from 7 million to 1 1 million. These inflated costs and increased numbers are factors to be taken into account. Yet Ministers speak only in terms of money, giving no definite indication of how much real improvement there has been in the resources available for education in this country. One has only to turn to the teachers, the parents, the Stat; Premiers and every committee appointed by the Government to learn of the deficiencies, and in some cases, the increasing deficiencies in real terms, in the number of qualified teachers, the size of classes and the adequacy of schools. In answer to these claims the Minister for Health - the spokesman for the Government - speaks of the Opposition as “ squeaking away “ about an education crisis. I think the Australian people would expect the Opposition to tell the Government that it believes there is serious urgency about education. They would expect us to tell the Government that despite the progress that has been made - we concede the progress where it has been made - the problem is still urgent.
The Minister for Social Services referred to the percentage of the gross national product devoted to education and pointed out that in the past the Labour Party had relied heavily on this figure. He said that now Australia, instead of being at the end of the list with Portugal and Greece, as it was four or five years ago, was in the top six of the countries which spent the greatest percentage of their gross national product on education. Of course the Labour Party has not referred to this matter in the debate. One reason is that we have emphasised Australia’s situation so much in the last ten years that we are satisfied that almost every Australian citizen who is interested in education knows the position. Is it not shocking that up till four or five years ago Australia’s record as regards the percentage of gross national product devoted to education was little better than those of most backward countries? It is true that the percentage Australia spends has increased since that time, but so, too, have the relevant percentages of other countries and when the latest figures are to hand it will be seen that those countries whose company we shared four or five years ago also devote 4 per cent. - the figure now claimed for Australia - of their gross national product to education.
– Many factors must be taken into account when dealing with these figures.
– That is not a valid criticism. Of course there are differences but it still is not true that Australia is one of the top six countries in this regard. I have seen the figures and I do not think Australia is any closer to the top than eighth or tenth. We know that factors may be taken into account to explain differences in expenditure, but these factors have been taken into account in the kind of estimates Professor Karmel used, and he was making valid comparisons. 1 concede that there has been some improvement, but why are Government supporters continually prepared to emphasise the improvement and dismiss any suggestion of urgency in the matter when some back bench Government supporters, such as the honorable member for Evans, are prepared to say that there is urgency? He began his speech by saying that some of what the Opposition says is reasonably true. He agreed that there is some urgency about the education situation, but the Government - the men responsible for making decisions for the honorable member and everybody else in Australia - does not agree with this. The honorable member for Evans said that conditions in schools, including those in his electorate, varied. He said that he had found shocking conditions of overcrowding in Ashfield. He said also that he had found schools elsewhere with adequate and full resources. Of course there are, and this is one of the things that is wrong with Australia’s education. There is astonishing inequality in Australian education today. One will find overcrowded schools in Ashfield. One will find them in Richmond and in Collingwood in my electorate. It ill behoves people to seek to make comparisons between the private system of education and the public system, because there is probably greater inequality in education in Australia today than in any other field. So if he looks at all the reports, the honorable member for Evans will see that there arc some difficulties in the way. There are differences between the States. There is lack of unity among planners. Of course there are differences. A way to overcome them is to offer to the States, as the Commonwealth should, all the funds necessary to train teachers in any quantity in which it can train them for its own purposes and other purposes without a bond or with a modified bond. There is no necessity to allow the difficulties and differences that exist between the States to stand in the way of providing more funds. The States can be offered funds by the Commonwealth. Contrary to what the honorable member for Evans said, it is not the intention of the Labour Party to sweep away the State departments. We would use them as the proper means for channelling funds for education.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I can agree with the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) on the importance of education, but I regret that I cannot accept the arguments that have been advanced by honorable members opposite this afternoon. The Labour Party seeks to give the impression that its members alone are interested in education.
– That is true.
– I point out (o the House, particularly the honorable member for Wills, that I have here a letter dated 6th April from the Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Associations of New South Wales, addressed to me as Secretary of the Government Members’ Education Committee. It reads -
My colleagues of the deputation received by your Committee on the 31st March last wish me lo express our sincere appreciation of that opportunity of discussing the problems of Australian Education wilh you, and for the interest shown in our submissions.
So much for the oft repeated claim that the Opposition alone is interested in education. What do Opposition arguments boil down to? Upon analysis it will be seen that the Opposition alleges that the Government has refused to implement important recommendations of the Martin Committee, recent Premiers’ Conferences and the Australian Education Council. This, in essence, is a complaint by the State Ministers for Education that they are not being given enough money by the Commonwealth, because the Australian Education Council is composed of none other than the State Ministers for Education and, of course, at
Premiers’ Conferences they would be pushing their respective Premiers to seek more money for education.
Last week, the Tasmanian Director of Education, Mr. V. R. Long, retired. The report in the “ Mercury “ of 22nd April of his valedictory address reads -
Mr. Long said that the lack of modern teaching colleges in Tasmania was the biggest task facing his successor.
He said current teacher training facilities were very unsatisfactory. “ The Government cannot afford to do anything about it, and I just hope the Commonwealth will come to our assistance,” he said.
I do not accept the cry by some Tasmanian people, through their State Education Minister and their Director of Education, that the Tasmanian Labour Government, which has been in power long enough - Tasmania has had the same Minister for Education, regrettably, for the last 10 years - is unable to do anything about what their own retiring Director of Education admits are very bad teacher training facilities. 1 have before me some figures supplied to me today by the Prime Minister’s Department on expenditure on education from consolidated revenue. It appears that for 1964-65 the Australian average expenditure on education, expressed as a proportion of total expenditure from consolidated revenue, was 28.4 per cent. The figure for Tasmania was the lowest of all the States at 22.1 per cent., compared with 32.5 per cent, for Victoria. I made this point in a statement which appeared in the Hobart “ Mercury “ on Saturday 23rd April. I ended the statement by saying that the Reece Government has to establish its own order of priority; at present it is placing hydro-electric power before education.
To fill in the picture let me give figures also for capital expenditure. The Australian average expenditure for 1964-65, expressed as a percentage of total expenditure from loan funds, was 20.8 per cent. The figure for Tasmania was the second lowest, 12.7 p?r cent., as compared with 25 per sent. for Victoria. Yet the only reply that the allegedly responsible Minister for Education in Tasmania can make to me is an argument ad hominem, and, as you know, Mr. Speaker, an argument ad hominem is the argument of a person who is bereft of any other type of argument. He accused me of gross distortion and said that Tasmania, far from being the lowest spender on education, was in fact consistently the highest. Yet he did not seek to deny the figures I had given publicly, nor could he. He sought refuge in a subterfuge - the usual camouflage adopted by this type of man. He said that his statements had been substantiated by reports of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Well, if this Minister for Education listened to the expert advice of his departmental officers he would know that the Commonwealth Grants Commission deals in its reports with expenditure per head of population and not with expenditure expressed in terms of a percentage of revenue funds. That is the position of the Tasmanian Minister for Education.
The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) who proposed this discussion is a matter of urgent public importance, made great play on, and was very vocal about - as was the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) - the failure of the Commonwealth to accept recommendations as to teacher training. It should be noted that both these honorable members had nothing to say as to the rejection of another recommendation of the Martin Committee, namely the recommendation that the Commonwealth stop providing finance for part time and external studies at universities. I note that the honorable member for Barton has worded his letter proposing this discussion so that it speaks in terms of important recommendations. Apparently he did not regard this latter recommendation of the Martin Committee as being an important one. Well, I do, and I feel that the Government was justified in its approach to both recommendations.
Let us just analyse the costs of teacher training in the States. The Tasmanian Minister, Mr. Neilsen, ended his Press statement with some gratituous advice to me that I should try to obtain a proper inquiry into the needs of the Australian education system. This comes ill from the mouth of a man who is a member of the Australian Education Council and who apparently had some hand in the preparation of the first and second editions of “ A Statement of Some Needs of Australian Education “, which is the best that the State Education Ministers throughout Australia can do in the way of a survey of the needs of education. Apparently this State Minister was not prepared to accept the work in which he himself participated because in the second edition, the 1965 edition, we find on page 5, under the heading “ Summary of Financial Implications”, a statement that over a four year period additional annual expenditure on teacher training would amount to £3.7 million a year, or £14.8 million for the four year period. To that must be added the capital expenditure for teacher training assessed by the State Ministers at £10 million. This gives a total of £24.8 million or $49.6 million, for four years for all six States.
Just to get the matter in perspective, we see that the total State Government expenditure on education for 1963-64 was £480 million. Yet these State Ministers for Education are always coming to the Commonwealth wilh the cry: “ We are too poor. We cannot afford to do the job.” When one looks at the Constitution one finds that the responsibility for education is purely that of the States. Tasmania has had the benefit - 1 use. the word for want of a better - of a Labour Government since the thirties and has had the same Minister for Education for the last 10 years. He alone can take responsibility for the state of teacher training in Tasmania.
There is at present circulating in my electorate a Labour Party pamphlet put out by a teacher, my endorsed opponent in Denison. He uses the same comparison as that used by the honorable member for Bass and the honorable member for Yarra, a comparison of Australia with other countries on the basis of expenditure on education expressed as a proportion of gross national product. It is interesting to note that the honorable member for Bass still uses the 1958 figures, as does this gentleman in Tasmania. Perhaps they both suffer from the same defect. Yet in fairness to the honorable member for Yarra it must be noted that in his speech this afternoon he brought himself up to date and said that Australia now ranks eighth or tenth, although the honorable member for Bass and this gentleman in Tasmania said that Australia ranked below 13 other countries.
As to the comparison itself I would say that it is extremely difficult to obtain a valid comparison. I think I heard an inter jection this afternoon which drew attention to the fact that in this kind of comparison there is a lack of uniform definition and there are serious discrepancies because of differing social and economic conditions. Many such statements made in Australia today are made for the express purpose of attempting to substantiate a claim that our education effort is worse than that of any other advanced country with the exception of places like Portugal, Spain and Turkey.
All this arises from an analysis made by Professor Karmel in the Buntine Oration in 1962. lt is interesting to note that Professor Karmel based his assessments on international comparisons made by Svennilson, Edding and Elvin, who used the 1958 figures for Australia. In other words, people like the honorable member for Bass are still quoting the 1958 situation and in so doing are in fact misquoting Professor Karmel. In the time available 1 cannot go deeper into this subject, but it is interesting to see that Professor Karmel placed Australia J 5th, with 22 per cent., among 18 countries. On this aspect one could go further and show that in respect of expenditure on education expressed as a proportion of gross national product Professor Karmel places Australia 15th out of 23, while uptodate and well-informed calculations place Australia between fourth and ninth in the list. In fairness to the honourable member for Yarra I must say that he placed Australia about eighth. lt is also alleged that whilst other countries have planned education expenditure until 1970 Australia has no plans at all. This is not so. Both State and Commonwealth offices have definite analyses of needs until 1970.
– Order! This discussion is now concluded.
Debate resumed from 9th March (vide page 68), on motion by Mr. Fairbairn -
That the House take note of the following paper - Softwood Planting in Australia - Ministerial Statement, 9th March 1966.
.- On 9th March the Minister for National
Development (Mr. Fairbairn) made a statement in this House of great significance to the nation. It was one of the most valuable statements made to the Parliament in recent times. In it he outlined the structure of the Australian Forestry Council and the standing committee established under it and he indicated the steps that the Commonwealth would take in assisting the States by providing finance and knowhow for softwood plantings in this country. The statement acknowledged a problem that exists in this country, a problem known to members of this Parliament and other thoughtful Australians and which has been referred to over a number of years. The Minister intimated that the Commonwealth accepts its responsibility to make a contribution to the solution of a problem that is principally national in character. The financial provisions outlined are of importance. To me, they are a great disappointment. The Minister posed a problem, outlined difficulties facing the nation and indicated the challenge to this Parliament and the Parliaments of the respective States, but all that was promised in his earlier words seemed to wither on the vine as he went into a discussion about whose responsibility it is to deal with reafforestation and the growth of softwoods, which are so necessary to the economic life of this country.
One would think, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the States were not units of a nation, that they were separate dependencies, because from time to time one hears the the Minister for National Development and other Ministers in this place speaking of States as if they were foreign entities acting independently and as if the Commonwealth were making grants to them in the way in which it might give aid to another country under the Colombo Plan. This appears to me to be unrealistic and I believe that the financial provision being made by the Commonwealth is disappointing to the States.
The progress that has been made by establishing the Australian Forestry Council is to be commended, and I congratulate the Government on this progressive step. In many respects, the Council is akin to the Australian Agricultural Council. It is a continuing ministerial body and its adjunct, the Standing Committee on Forestry, is composed of experts. The Council will be of great value in dealing with this most important subject. Its establishment is a step in the right direction, for it indicates that the Commonwealth and the States can come together on some matters. For years in this Parliament, I have asked that the Commonwealth take similar action with respect to the decentralisation of industry. It is heartening to see the formation of a body that enables the Minister for National Development and the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) to discuss forestry matters with the responsible Ministers of the States so that all may better understand the challenge that lies before us - a challenge that was implied in the statement made to the House by the Minister for National Development. The Standing Committee on Forestry is an extremely valuable body. It is composed of the forestry experts of the Commonwealth and the leaders m forestry administration in the States, who meet regularly to discuss matters in detail. May I say also that I believe that the first issue of the “ Forest Resources Newsletter “ is a commendable publication. I congratulate those who are responsible for the wealth of information presented in it. I can only hope that it will be circulated widely among those people interested in the topic of forestry, because it is necessary that we have a greater understanding of this subject throughout Australia.
One can find few complaints with the structure proposed for the consideration of forestry matters, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but when one considers the main problems and the way in which the Commonwealth Government proposes to deal with them, one is shocked, disillusioned and saddened. The Commonwealth’s proposals provide for S20 million to be made available to the States in long term loans over the next five years. These loans will be free of interest and of repayment obligations for the first 10 years. At the end of five years, the financial position will be re-examined. In view of the extended growth period of softwoods and the urgent need to take action, I consider that the Commonwealth has let the States and especially the nation down. This is basically a national matter. The need to provide employment is a national question on which forestry has a bearing. The need to provide timber for the development of Australia is a national matter. In every sense, the need to deal with the balance of payments problem by means of fiscal policy is primarily a responsibility of the Commonwealth, not directly of the States.
The Commonwealth will not look for repayments of principal for 10 years. But we have to think of the difficulties encountered in growing timber. Land has to be cleared, young plants have to be germinated and planted out and then they have to be cultivated. Many expenses are entailed. In no circumstances will softwoods forests yield any kind of income for 15 years, though it is known definitely that substantial income will be available from these forests after 35 years and that the life of a tree is something like 40 years. Yet the States will be called on to make repayments after 10 years. The Commonwealth has adopted the attitude that it is being exceedingly generous, but this view is not shared by all those who have participated in discussions on forestry matters. J have here reports of some views expressed by the Hon. J. G. Beale, New South Wales Minister for Conservation, who at recent meetings of the Australian Forestry Council has advocated financial contributions $1 for $1 by the Commonwealth and the States. 1 believe that this is a reasonable proposition. In any plan for the development of softwoods plantings in Australia, the Commonwealth should have made grants to the States outright to enable them to begin their operations. Loans could have followed.
The New South Wales Minister advocated a Federal and State softwoods programme involving the expenditure of $124 million over 15 years, with the States providing half of this sum. The Commonwealth has undertaken to provide, by means of loans, $20 million over five years. This proposal seems to beg the question. One is obliged to respect the views of the New South Wales Minister. The Commonwealth, as the national organisation, will benefit most from a proper programme. I regret very much that Mr. Beale’s proposals were not accepted. He pointed out that it was essential to take action now to provide for the demands of the future. That goes without saying. I have with me a number of press clippings on the subject, taken mainly from the “ Western Advocate “ of Bathurst, which described the proposals made by the Commonwealth as disappointing and outlined the views expressed by the New South Wales Minister for Conservation. I promised that I would bring this matter up in the Parliament, and I am grateful to the Minister for National Development for having provided an opportunity for me to make these comments.
I believe that the views of Mr. Beale are widely respected, and 1 ask the Minister for National Development and the Commonwealth Government to look at tha matter again. Mr. Beale’s views, as expressed at a meeting of the Australian Forestry Council on 18th February, were shared by Ministers from the other States. He made it quite clear that action ought to be taken speedily as a matter of urgency. For years Australia has wasted a great and wonderful asset. We all know the words of Dorothea Mackellar, the passionate, Australian writer of great quality, who referred to this country as a wilful lavish land. It is true that we have destroyed great areas of timber in Australia. People have had little or no regard for the great eucalypt forests throughout Australia. This is to be regretted, along with the destruction of the wonderful stands of cedar on the coastline of N.S.W. This is one of the great tragedies which has affected this country and we are paying very dearly for it at the present time.
The need to get on with work of this kind must be admitted when one looks at the need for the production of softwoods. We have an unlimited capacity to produce softwoods. We know of the forests of pinus radiata. We know how that tree was brought to Australia from the Monterey Peninsula in California and how it has prospered and grown more quickly in Australia than in any other country in the world. Here is an opportunity for Australia to overcome the lag that exists in the provision of the necessary softwoods. It gives us an opportunity to become selfsufficient, coupled with the timber that will come from year to year from our sister Commonwealth country, New Zealand.
I suggest we ought to look to our responsibilities in the trust territory of Papua and New Guinea and see what can be done to build up our softwood stands in that area as well. Plantation areas in Australia at the present time are interesting to consider. One has to pay tribute to the Government of South Australia for the vigour with which it has gone forward with its reafforestation programmes. According to the latest figures available, New South Wales has 124,636 acres of forest, Victoria has 138,160 acres, Queensland has 115,919 acres, South Australia has 170,706 acres, Western Australia has 40,319 acres, Tasmania has 25,456 acres and the Australian Capital Territory has 27,000 acres. It is to be regretted that in the Northern Territory, which is the exclusive responsibility of this Parliament, there are only 670 acres of softwood forests.
There is a need for this Parliament to proceed with this matter with the greatest expedition. Figures made available by the Bureau of Census and Statistics and from the forestry organisations indicate just what a challenge it is. The area of forest reservations in Australia is not nearly as big as it ought to be. Up to 1964, there were almost 25 million acres of forest reserves. That is hoplessly and totally inadequate. The area devoted to .plantations, coniferous and broad leaved, was 642,856 acres. Again that is inadequate to meet the needs of this country. We ought to remember that we are spending $200 million annually on timber and forest products. It is estimated that by 1975 we will be spending $280 million annually and by the year 2000 we will be spending $600 million annually. This is the challenge facing this Parliament. This is the reason why I emphasise the need for this Parliament to face up to its obligations and responsibilities in order to try to bridge this gap.
– That is what this measure will do.
– I regret to inform the honorable member for Robertson that this measure will not do so. It is a step in the right direction but it is hopelessly inadequate. It is unrealistic. It does not meet the need. The Minister for Conservation in New South Wales clearly emphasised this when he pointed out the acreage which will be required to meet this challenge. Yet the Commonwealth Government is prepared only to offer $20 million to the States over the next five years. By the year 2000 at least we ought to have self sufficiency with our sister Commonwealth country New
Zealand. This measure does not meet those needs. Perhaps the Government has a weather eye on customs and excise duties paid to the Treasury on imports of timbers, plywood, pulp and paper which in 1961-62 amounted to $8,203,000 and in 1963-64 to $10,637,000. That is an increase of $2,434,000 in two years. This is the sort of thing that is happening. The experts have told us that we are using forest products quicker than we are growing the trees to meet our need. While this measure makes a contribution and while it sets out to bridge the gap, let us be honest about it. The Government has wasted 17 years since it came into office before taking any steps at all in this direction. From 1949 to 1966, this Government failed to take any steps whatever to deal with this matter.
I think I have been generous in acknowledging the work of the Minister for National Development and in acknowledging the structure of his organisation. But the inadequacy of this measure deserves the condemnation of this Parliament because the problem is not being faced in the fashion in which it ought to be faced. I only hope, now that steps have been taken in this direction, that further steps will follow and that the Government will accept its responsibilities; that it will not pass this question on to be dealt with in a small and piecemeal fashion by the States. The States are limited, of course, by finance. What are the Sates trying to do to meet the problem? They are using prison labour quite frequently to establish plantations and to do other forestry work. We all know that those who are in prison can render a service to society by doing some useful work. But when there are law abiding people in many districts who are in search of work, opportunities ought to be presented to them to obtain employment. In the Lithgow area, in my own electorate, I find that 80 of 100 prisoners are to be engaged on a forestry project but only 10 people other than prisoners will be on the staff. I would like to see that position altered dramatically. It can be altered and the States and the Commonwealth, through their various departments, can go forward in a constructive manner, acknowledging that what is being done at the moment does not meet the case and that further steps will be required for Australia to gain self-sufficiency in the production of softwoods.
.- i was interested to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti). He started off in fine glowing form and, if 1 may say so. congratulated just the right people. I might do that now also and extend my congratulations to the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn), the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) and, indeed, the State Ministers in charge of forestry. Up to this point 1 had no argument with the honorable member for Macquarie. But I felt that he denigrated his argument a little when he got onto the subject of Commonwealth control in this field. I was a little lost completely to pick up the point he tried to make. I think he felt that the Commonwealth should exercise control in the field of forestry. If this is so, he is being quite consistent with the attitude of his Party. However, the various State Governments would not be impressed if he suggested to them that the Commonwealth take complete control of forestry.
– I have not suggested that. I have suggested that the Commonwealth provide more money.
– If that is so, I apologise. 1 said that I had difficulty following the remarks of the honorable member, but I thought I was giving an accurate representation of the points he made. However, I will complete my argument. Obviously in the field of afforestation, the State Governments have very good local knowledge and they know how to proceed in the best interests of the State. I shall refer here to South Australia. 1 will deal with this point more fully as I develop my argument. Certainly the Government of South Australia does not want to be told how to effect its forestry planning. It has been engaged in this activity for many years and, from memory, 170,000 acres in South Australia are already planted with softwoods The honorable member for Macquarie said that he thought the loan over five years was not sufficient. I shall show in a few moments that the Commonwealth has made a generous contribution and that it is closely allied to the activities of other planning authorities.
The honorable member said that the plan was not national in scope. Of course it is national. It is national from the point of view of several authorities, including the Vernon Committee. I intend to quote state ments of these authorities. The honorable member also said that the New South Wales Minister, I think Mr. Beale, evidently asked for more funds. Of course, all State Ministers and Premiers asked for more funds but there is a limit to the funds available, even from Commonwealth sources, and every request cannot be granted. However, the honorable member’s argument can be completely refuted by pointing out that he probably ignored a passage in the statement of the Minister for National Development, who said -
Consequently, the first recommendation of the Forestry Council was that the rate of establishment of softwood plantations should be stepped up from the present 40,000 acres per annum to 75,000 acres per annum for the next 35 years.
That is the rate of annual planting. I think that this is the point the honorable member for Macquarie either ignored or missed. On this subject, the Vernon Committee in its report said -
To overcome the predicted deficiency without resort to substitutes, the Forestry Bureau suggests that the programme for establishing coniferous plantations should be stepped up from the present rate of about 40,000 acres annually to a minimum of 60,000 acres. . . .
The Opposition cannot have this both ways. The Government has acted to bring the rate of planting up to 75,000 acres a year and that is considerably ahead of the minimum recommended by the Vernon Committee. So much for the contention of the honorable member that this is a parsimonious contribution or, to use his phrase, an irresponsible action by the Government. On the contrary, the aim of this whole concept is to improve the supplies of softwood for the national good of Australia. However, I shall forgive the honorable member for Macquarie. He tried very hard to make a good case against the Government. That is his job and we on this side of the House appreciated his efforts.
I should like to put matters into perspective. About seven months ago I wrote to the Minister for National Development when I was aware of the huge volume of softwood imports. The extent of the imports was growing and I asked him whether it was possible to bring supplies of softwoods from Papua and New Guinea, particularly from the Bulolo Valley area. I received a reply pointing out that the potential of the vast forests of klinkii and hoop pine in this area was fully absorbed by the plywood industry. Perhaps I should mention that, as the trees are cut in these forests, a very good programme of reafforestation is carried out. The Minister pointed out that, as the potential of the area was absorbed, it was not possible to bring supplies of timber to Australia except in the form of plywood. He also informed me that imports into Australia were running at the rate of $200 million at that time. The Minister, in his wisdom, has looked at the sources of supply of softwood. He has looked at the future of the New Zealand softwood industry. He said in his statement to the House that imports from New Zealand represent about 10 per cent, of our total imports and that it is unlikely that we will be able to obtain any greater percentage of our requirements from New Zealand. In other words, with the increased demand and increased imports over the next decade or two, New Zealand probably will not be able physically to export to Australia much more than 10 per cent, of our total imports of this product. The honorable member for Macquarie suggested that we should look to this source for supplies. As far as I know, the Minister’s outline of the prospects of imports from New Zealand is properly documented and is an answer to the honorable member’s suggestion.
The position is roughly this: Four per cent, of the land area of Australia is capable of supporting tree growth as a dominant vegetation: 84 per cent, of this area produces mainly hardwoods and eucalypts, which, of course, indirectly supply some of the tanning factories in my electorate such as Mount Barker and in other electorates. Of the total area, 16 per cent, is identifiable as softwood plantations. We can ignore for the sake of this debate the naturally occurring softwood forests of Australia, although in the past they have played a very important part in providing materials for the building industry. They are very resistant to attacks by termites.
We can see already that tubular steel and aluminium are being used in many places where hardwoods were previously used. This is evident in minor constructions. We see the use of these materials in shed construction in country areas and in small factory sheds in metropolitan areas. In many countries, cement railway sleepers are replacing hard wood railway sleepers. Similarly, in the future we will see a tendency to use other materials instead of softwoods. No doubt, types of plastics, fibre glass and so on will be used instead of softwoods, but at present the demand for the products of softwood forests is growing. Australia still imports pulp and various types of paper that cannot yet be manufactured here. No doubt, this trend will change, but, if it is to change and if we are to take advantage of modern technology to produce these items, we need a greater supply of softwood. Government softwood plantations comprise approximately 65 per cent, of Australia’s plantation areas today, and private forests comprise the remainder, a point that I wish to deal with later.
From annual consumption per capita figures it is easily ascertainable that there is a strong correlation between the consumption per capita on the one hand and the distribution of temperate forests on the other. I hope the figures that I. have are up to date enough to be significant. They were the latest that I could find, but they are fairly ancient. They show Finland, Sweden, Alaska and Canada as the top countries in terms of annual consumption per capita and usage. Australia is comparatively high on the list, which I presume means that in the days to which these figures apply Australia was a developing country. Supplies of timber were handy and were used in early construction. The same principle applies when we compare one State of Australia with another. In Victoria many of the houses in country towns - and indeed much surburban housing - were built of weatherboards, or with wooden scantlings, uprights and so on. However, in South Australia, where there never has been a supply of softwoods - and, in fact, where there never has been much timber of any quality - a wooden house is a great rarity. South Australia many years ago looked further ahead, perhaps, than other States did and planted softwood forests. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) suggested that we look at this problem from a national point of view. I trust that he would not for one minute suggest that we should favour the States that have not helped themselves in the matter of softwood planting to the detriment of the States that have. If we were to do that it would be grossly unfair.
I move on to what the Vernon Committee had to say about the mean annual consumption per capita of forest products. With the concurrence of honorable members I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following table -
The table shows, in terms of cubic feet, the mean annual consumption. The second last figure of 48.0 cubic feet is important because it is the figure that the Minister used in his statement to work out the factor on which his calculations are based. We have two variables; namely the projection suggesting approximately 48 cubic feet per head - which is the highest in recent years, and it is rising - and an increasing population. In terms of demand these are the two factors which have been used. I point out in passing that this is another instance of projections being used in the Vernon report. We have heard a lot about projections being used in that report. I do not think it is wrong to use statistical projections. The error comes about when one believes that such projections are exact, or are Bible truth, and is hoodwinked because of that. Projections are not accurate. We have had many examples in the Vernon report of projections in relation to the value of mineral exports, education and so on, where frankly I do not think the Vernon report has been accurate. That is just by the way.
I point out that this projection has been made and that in relation to forward planting it is a projection of which the Government has taken advantage. This section of the Vernon Committee’s report also deals with the balance of payments problem and the fact that this action is hoped to overcome a high deficit in this field in years to come. I point out in passing also that I think we must qualify this projection a little. It takes 25 years before pinus radiata can be cut and probably 40 years before the timber is fully grown. It is now 1966. We will not feel the full impact of this piece of legislation until after the year 2000. That again is just said in passing.
The Committee mentioned another important facet of the timber industry, namely regional development. In South Australia we have towns such as Mount Gambier, Nangwarry, Millicent, Tantanoola and Mount Burr - all in the electorate of the Minister for Health - which owe their existence entirely to the timber industry. No doubt after this legislation comes into force we will see more cases of regional development brought about as a result of this enlightened measure that the Government has introduced. I would be erring if I did not take up the cudgels for one section of the timber industry that is not catered for by the Opposition. I desire to put in a word or two for farmers who have planted softwoods on their own land. There are several reasons why we should look carefully at this problem. I believe that the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) has had discussions with other departments about this matter, but the point I wish to make is that in any area in which timber mills or pulp mills are established one of the important economic facts of life that makes the situation a viable one is that the density of the softwoods planted within the operating radius of the mills must be as high as possible. This cannot be refuted as an economic fact. I have looked at figures on this matter in the past. If the point I make is correct there is no doubt at all in my mind that we must have a careful look at income tax and estate duty legislation in order to fully encourage private growers of softwoods to play their part in the private sector of the economy. I think that the estate duty aspect is probably more important than the income tax aspect. It is just a little unfair if a man dies and his 19 year old pine forest is valued at a high figure for probate purposes. At the 19 year mark the income gained from thinnings has already disappeared and there is a wait of six years - and probably 10 to 12 years - before anything could be recouped from this type of investment. 1 ask the Minister to look carefully at this aspect of the matter, because 1 think it is very important.
Finally, might I say that the Government and the Minister are to be congratulated on their foresight, and in particular on their establishment of the Australian Forestry Council. I hope that in five years time we will see further results flowing from this legislation.
.- The Government has signified its intention to offer to the States about $20 million in long term loans over the next five years to help lift the planting rate in government softwood plantations. 1 was very pleased to hear the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Giles) put in a word for the private sector in this very important industry. The loans are to be free of interest and repayment of principal for the first 10 years. The motive for this measure has already been referred to by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti). It stems from a desire to cut the high import bill that Australia pays through having to import timber, especially softwood. We can develop softwoods quite well in this country. We have done some remarkable work in this field over the years. It has been estimated that we are spending $200 million each year on timber imports and that, calculated on present day costs, this import bill will increaseto$280 million by 1975, andto about$600 million by 2000. We must advance in this field faster than we have done because there is a greater usage of softwoods overseas now. There is every indication that increasing populations overseas will draw more heaviiy on the supplies we have been able to import to supplement our supplies of local timbers. Eventually, if that source does not dry up altogether, it will certainly offer diminished quantities. Hence it is necessary to make an all out attemptto increase our softwood plantings.
Two sources are available to us as a nation; one is State Government instrumentalities and the other is the private sector. The Minister in his statement to the House on this matter referred to the Australian Forestry Council. He said -
The Council estimated that private forest owners will contribute on the average at least 10,000 acres a year to the programme. This left 65,000 acres a year to be planted by the govern ment forest services. At present the Governments are planting at the rate of about 30,000 acres a year so that the programme envisages an increase by then of about 35,000 acres a year or more than doubling their present rate of plantings.
As to Government plantings, my friend and colleague, the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), has directed attention to certain views of the Opposition, including the need for more finance for Government instrumentalities in this field.
I wish to refer to the position of private forest owners. 1 seek a piece of the cake for them, if any is about. The Minister underestimates the contribution made by private forest owners. He intimated in his speech that their present contribution to the annual softwood planting total is 10,000 acres.I direct his attention to the annual report of Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd. for 1965 in which it is stated that that company planted out 7.300 acres in 1965. Softwood Holdings Ltd. in South Australia planted out 2,000 acres. Similar companies which also plant to ensure supplies for processing in their own factories are Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd., G. N. Raymond Timber Ltd. and Tasboard Ltd. They bring the total of plantings to well over 10,000 acres a year. At the same time, the bond selling companies must provide a fair total. South Australian Perpetual Forests planted 3.300 acres last year, and Tea Gardens. Radiata Development and Cathedral Valley should bring their total to more than 5.000 acres. If the few hundred acres to be expected from private farmers is added, the total must exceed 20.000 acres annually. In Victoria the farmers planting softwoods are assisted by the State Government. As one honorable member has pointed out, there is certainly no provision for assistance by the Commonwealth Government in the measurebeing debated at present.
The bond selling companies are in the industry for direct profit from bond sales and I shall deal with that aspect later. The timber and paper companies to which I have referred - Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd., Tasboard Ltd., and G. N. Raymond Ltd. - and others have been planting to ensure their own supplies. They do an excellent job. It is a great pleasure for me each year to visit the properties of Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd. at
Burnie and south of Guildford Junction and to study the work they do in that area in reafforestation and the planting of radiata pine. We must give due credit to these people because they fill an important and integrated part of the Australian forest economy. They pay rates and taxes on their undertakings and insure their forests. These expenses are not incurred in respect of Government forests. These companies have the staff, the plant and the technique necessary for the maintenance of a regular plantation programme. Up to date they have provided healthy rivalry for the State forestry authorities. They must also find long term money to finance their operations. If we provide cheap money for the fostering of State plantations and provide nothing for these companies, we are in fact encouraging private owners to curtail their activities and to rely on government forests for their supplies.
May they not say that they have done their job at considerable risk and expense and can now rest assured of cheaper supplies? Would they not have some justification in future to use their capital elsewhere in their businesses? They are already amongst the biggest customers of State forests. They have been ensuring their supplies by supplemental planting at great cos’. There will now be no need for them to continue that planting. It may well be that some private owners do not want to curtail their activities, but we can create the position in which Government instrumentalities emerge into open competition with private enterprise and at least some of the private forest owners may eventually be so placed that they cannot compete because of the various costs which I have outlined. Under the terms of this proposal certainly much more attractive money is being made available to State forests in competition with private forest owners. In short, we may be discouraging their useful activities and defeating our own ends by adopting this scheme.
The work of the private companies is good. They have established nurseries, staff and techniques. They could expand with very little trouble. Their biggest hurdle in moving towards active expansion or even in maintenance of their present programme is the provision of long term finance for plantation establishment. The only money market open to them is that which is common to all industries. At best, it will cost them interest at 7 per cent. The major portion of a forest stands for up to 40 years. This means that each dollar provided for this purpose at 7 per cent, compound interest must return over $13 to break even. This is far too much for the industry to stand. There is an obvious temptation to channel the money at their disposal in other direction in their enterprises which yield quicker and better returns. We could help to ensure the provision of our future timber needs more quickly and with more certainty by encouraging private forest owners to maintain their present planting rates, and even to expand their activities. The initiative they have shown in ensuring their own supplies must be encouraged. There is little doubt that provided they have a chance to break square with the government instrumentalities, they will help considerably towards balancing our imports.
The best method of assistance is to ensure their long term plantation finance by seeing that money is made available to them for their plantation work on lines similar to those on which we now plan for the States. An indication of the value of the work done by the forest companies is given in the annual reports of the Australian Forestry and Timber Bureau for the period from 1959 to 1964, the year of the latest report available to me. Private companies expanded their plantations at the rate of 63 per cent., whilst State government instrumentalities expanded at the rate of 26 per cent. This surely indicates the capacity of these people to expand their planting activities with money of their own or money which they can get from various sources. On their behalf I make the plea that they could have been included in any plan to increase plantations in this country. 1 must point out, however, that any arrangements to increase softwood plantings by government instrumentalities is of great value to private enterprise, inasmuch as private sawmillers draw a large proportion of their softwood logs from Government Departments. But it would be of tremendous assistance to the softwood industry if some part of the funds which the Commonwealth Government proposes to provide were made available to it. I should like to point out the costs with which the industry is faced. 1 do so in the hope that the Minister or the Forestry Council will take some heed of this at some time in the future.
At present, with the cost of land at approximately £30 an acre - this amount is most variable and can range between £10 and £50 an acre - the cost of establishing a radiata pine forest is approximately £75 an acre. The first thinnings from a forest are usually obtained after 15 years unless pulp is to be extracted in which case some thinnings may be taken as early as 12 years after planting, depending on the growth of the forest. The maintenance cost of radiata pine forests varies according to the locality but may be taken as approximately £3 an acre annually. Thus, at the age of 15 years, when the first return is obtained, a forest has cost the owner approximately £120 an acre for establishment and maintenance.
This represents a tremendous burden on private forestry undertakings - a burden which may be undertaken only by very financially sound organisations if they are to retain for themselves and their shareholders the advantages of growing exotic softwoods. This expenditure must bc financed out of revenue or through debentures or other borrowings bearing a compound interest rate over 15 years and is therefore a major factor in the economics of the proposition. Debenture or note finance is difficult to obtain over a long period. It is almost certainly not obtainable by the timber industry over a period of 15 years. The Commonwealth Development Bank and the trading banks acting as its agents are quite helpful in providing finance for forestry, but they are only permitted to lend over a period of 10 years and, for the most part, they require repayment of the loan in equal annual instalments, with perhaps no repayment for the first two years. As I have said, being unable to reduce their debentures over the first 15 years, private organisations are not able to offer much inducement to the Commonwealth Development Bank to grant them loans.
The House will thus see that the establishment of radiata pine forests requires considerable capital investment and is out of the question for any but the strongest enterprises. A number of radiata pine forests have been established on the basis of the owner selling bonds or covenants over the forests and undertaking to maintain the forests over a long period and to account to the covenant holders for the proceeds when the trees are harvested. A number of companies have been successful in financing forests in this way, and some of them have very good reputations for honest dealing. It is, however, a field in which there are many doubtful operators who have given their covenant holders a very poor return on their investment.
I point out again that private forest owners, unlike government instrumentalities, are subject to land tax and council rates on their forest properties. When the forests are harvested - usually commencing when the forests are 15 years of age and continuing at five yearly intervals until the trees are approximately 35 years of agc - the forest owner pays income tax on the profits made on his plantations. In determining his taxable income he is able to apply against his revenue only a proportion of the cost of his forests. He may not write off the total revenue over the capital asset of the forests. The tax rate for public companies, apart from the first £5,000, is 8s. 6d. in the’ £1. Therefore, the forest owner has a 42 per cent, greater burden to bear than have the government afforestation schemes as the States do not pay any income tax.
The use of radiata pine is increasing continuously and the demand will be very much greater in the years to come. Our indigenous hardwoods are being cut out very rapidly and the cost of obtaining logs from these forests is increasing each year. Each day one hears of sawmills being closed down in various parts of Australia on account of the forests becoming exhausted. Truckers have to go further afield for their logs. Some are carting logs for as far as 90 and 100 miles. This all tends to make the industry more uneconomic. The use of radiata pine is increasing all the time, and this timber will gradually take over from the hardwoods.
With the use of impregnation processes, radiata pine is now taking the place of hardwoods for fence posts, telephone and electricity poles and external housing timbers. Because of the greater use of radiata pine, no imported flooring is used in Victoria now whereas large quantities were imported from Sweden not many years ago. Less and less is being imported into New South Wales, South Australia and the other
States. The same position is developing with regard to imported wheatherboards. In Victoria and South Australia, radiata pine is taking the place of scantling timbers. This has been almost the exclusive preserve of the indigenous hardwoods. The only limiting factor in the development of this trend is the quantity of radiata pine available.
Those of us who have studied the subject know that Australian radiata pine forests are predominantly young and do not yield the quality of timber required so far as stability is concerned. Nor do they yield the variety of products desired. In particular, they do not yield the width of boards required. Radiata pine sells for approximately 20 per cent, to 25 per cent, less than do indigenous hardwoods, and its cost is considerably lower than that of imported timbers. It is a timber with an enormous future. Approximately 40 per cent, of our radiata pine is used today for crating by our export industries. The only limiting factor here again is the quantity of timber available. Accordingly, any move that the Minister and the Australian Forestry Council can instigate to make the development of softwood forests less expensive for private enterprise would be of great service to the industry and, I believe, to the Commonwealth economy.
I do plead with the Minister and with the Council, which was established recently, to see what can be done, at least on the next occasion if not now, to make funds available to the private forest holders who have done such a tremendous amount of work in this field. I suggest that the time is ripe for making the money available now. I commend to those who are interested in the subject a treatise published recently by Mr. G. J. Rodger, Bachelor of Science, in which he points out the need in Australia for forest finance, particularly for private enterprise. It is an excellent treatise which is deserving of close study by those who are interested in the subject.
I add my plea to that of the honorable member for Macquarie for more money for Government instrumentalities. I make a plea also for funds for private forest holders in recognition of the great work they are doing. They need funds to enable them to expand and so bear their share of the task of limiting our dependence upon imports from overseas and of estab lishing on a firm basis a wonderful industry in this country which provides great opportunities for decentralisation and a tremendous avenue of employment for people in the outback areas.
.- Those of us who have been in the House this afternoon to listen to the debate have enjoyed a rare pleasure. We have seen a change of heart on the part of the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) who has championed the cause of free enterprise. I do not think that during my time in this Parliament I have heard a speech of such quality from the honorable member for Braddon. I have heard very few members of the Opposition supporting free enterprise at any time. The speech by the honorable member for Braddon was in sharp contrast to that made by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) who led the debate for the Labour Party. I take it that the honorable member foi Macquarie was expounding the view of the Party. I must say that, like many other people in Australia, I am a bit concerned to know just what is the view of the Labour Party, or how many views are held by the various sections of that Party. On this occasion we have still another instance of the number of splits that there seems to be iti the ranks of the Labour Party on many issues. In his criticism the honorable member for Macquarie hit at the Government for not providing enough money for Government enterprise. This was his main criticism. He did not think that the Government had gone far enough. Contrast his attitude as the leader of the Labour Party in this debate with that of the rebel back bencher, the honorable member for Braddon, who came out strongly in favour of private enterprise. The time has come for the honorable member for Braddon to examine his politics and perhaps to consider coming over to this side of the House.
The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) said that $20 million would be made available for new softwood plantings through the agency of the State Governments. The constitutional position is that we are unable as a Government to go directly in to the States and plant trees, but through the co-operation of the States v/e are able to get the necessary trees planted to meet our recognised future needs. At present there are about 30 million acres of native forests in Australia and about 700,000 acres of softwoods. In the past the softwood plantings have been undertaken mainly by Government enterprise. In the last year about 27,000 acres were planted by government enterprise and about 16,000 acres by private enterprise. The demand for limber has been increasing steadily over the years. For soft timber alone it is about 1,800 million super feet a year at present, of which about 400 million super feet is imported. This, of course, adds substantially to our import bill. The importations are worth about £100 million or $200 million. To this must be added the demand for pulp and paper byproducts. This totals about 500 million cubic feet a year. This should not be confused with super feet. One must talk in terms of cubic feet in relation to paper and pulp products. It is estimated that by the year 2000 the requirement will be 700 million cubic feet - in other words an increase of 40 per cent.
– Who estimated that?
– The Minister for National Development suggested this in his statement on 9th March. He has the resources of an excellent Department behind him to work out these statistics. It is quite obvious that on present timber plantings the States and the Territories - in other words the States and the Commonwealth - will not be able to produce the timber required for the year 2000.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– When the silting was suspendedI was making the point that by the year 2000 the demand for sawn limber and pulp will have increased by 40 per cent, and that present resources will not be able to meet this demand unless considerable assistance is forthcoming from governments to encourage softwood plantings. Representing as I do a timber producing electorate, one of my first thoughts is why natural stands of timber cannot be cultivated to increase their productivity, but a cursory examination will show that, economically, natural stands of timber cannot compare with stands of pinus radiata or some other pine. Let us take, for example, a good stand of ash. After 80 years one acre of ash will produce 120,000 super, feet of timber. After 80 or 100 years you will get only 60,000 super, feet of timber from an acre of various types of gum. But a stand of pine will produce 120,000 super, feet of timber after only 40 years. This is no: the only point. The recovery rate of sawn timber from pine is four to five times as great as in the case of ash or gum. Pine has less flaws than the other timbers I have mentioned and it has a better form factor.
Looking at the overall situation, one would have thought that New Zealand would have been able to supply a great deal more timber than it has, particularly in view of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement, in order to meet demand in Australia, but New Zealand is able to supply only 10 per cent, of present requirements and by the year 2000 still will be able to supply only 10 per cent, of our requirements. So, obviously, we have had to step up our plantings of pine from 40.000 acres a year to 75,000 acres a year. I congratulate the Government on taking this step. This is national development in the fullest sense.
I have one small criticism to make, and that is that this is government enterprise and not free enterprise. It is a pitythat we cannot encourage private enterprise to grow these trees, particularly as this is a free enterprise government. I am joined in this view by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Giles) and, much to my surprise, the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies), who, for his own political reasons, has seen fit to change his political philosophy and become suddenly a supporter of free enterprise. it is not expected that private tree farming will be able to do much to meet Australia’s demand for timber. Last year, private planters planted 16,000 acres of pine. It is apparently the judgment of the Minister for National Development or his departmental officers that private planters will be able to plant only 10,000 acres a year in the future. This state of affairs has been caused, in my opinion, by the lack of encouragement offered to farmers and to commercial tree planters such as Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd. and Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd. Without doubt, there are many area’s of country, particularly in the higher rainfall areas of Victoria and certainly in Gippsland and the western district, where land could be put to more profitable use by growing pine trees if only there were some encouragement to do so. It is interesting to note that only one State encourages tree farming. That is Victoria, which has enacted legislation patterned on the New Zealand legislation providing for forest loans. I do not think the Victorian Government has been as generous to its farmers as has the New Zealand Government but nevertheless there is no encouragement to farmers in other States. But despite its legislation, the Victorian Government has not been very successful m obtaining results. This is a matter that should be studied by the Commonwealth. It should endeavour to ascertain why ordinary farmers are not growing trees. One of the reasons certainly lies at the door of the Commonwealth and the States. In this context I speak of Victoria because there a farmer may grow 100 acres of pine on borrowed capital which is not returnable until the trees have almost reached maturity. But if he dies before this happens his estate becomes subject to State and Federal probate duties. Now, it takes 40 years for a stand of pine to reach maturity so it is quite conceivable that in that time both the original planter of the trees and his successors may have passed on. By ;his time the payment of probate duties would have seriously diminished the profitability of the crop. I believe that New Zealand has overcome this problem by not counting trees as a crop in the assessment of probate. 1 join with the honorable member for Angas in asking the Government to look further into this aspect.
The taxation position also is somewhat worrying. During the 40 years in which the trees are growing, the farmer has no return from them apart from sale of thinnings. The best that he can do is to sell his crop over one or two years. In this way he may be able to reduce the tax factor a little. However, the maximum amount to which the averaging principle may be applied is £4,000 so it is easy to see that the return from 100 acres of pine could embarrass a farmer so far as taxes are concerned and minimise the profitability of his crop. If it is sincere in its wish to encourage tree farming which is a national need the Government should look into this problem because with the taxation and probate laws as they now stand farmers are not encouraged to make better use of their land by turning to tree farming.
In 1964 there were 27,000 acres planted by government enterprise in Australia and 16,000 acres planted by private planters which represented about 40 per cent, of the total. It is important, as the honorable member for Braddon pointed out, that we encourage large planters, such as Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd., to plant more trees. Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd., which has about 55,000 acres of pine trees in Gippsland, plans to plant another 100,000 acres. That is one organisation with the skill and ability to grow more trees. These large organisations co-operate with the Department of National Development in research into pine growing. They are well equipped to plant trees. They have the men who know the job and who can do it thoroughly and efficiently. All they lack is money. They need more money. I urge the Government to consider lending money to recognised tree planters on the same terms as it is lent to the Slates. The Australian Agricultural Council could judge who are responsible tree planters in Australia. There are probably fewer than half a dozen. The Government should encourage them to plant more trees by lending money to them on the same terms as it lends money to the States. Tree planting, I believe, would be a proper undertaking for joint operation by government and private enterprise, and it is one that I would certainly encourage. Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd. planted 9,200 acres last year and representatives of that organisation have said that they could step up their plantings if they had sufficient resources. This is a matter that the Government should seriously consider.
I am very happy to support the Government’s proposal but I hope the Minister will take into account the points that I have made and see that some action is taken on them.
.- Honorable members may look askance at a member representing an industrial area who presumes to participate in a debate of this nature. The district that I represent was pioneered by timber getters, notably cedar cutters, the men who went to the Illawarra district 150 years ago to fell the softwood timbers in the sub-tropical rain forests. I have always had an interest in silviculture, in the planting, management and harvesting of trees.
Quite a lot has been said by other speakers in this debate of the economics of softwood planting and the assistance that should be given in this field. With the broad projections of the Ministers proposals I agree, although I consider that even more assistance should be given along the lines mentioned by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti). But let me say that there are broader aspects of this subject that should be given attention. Most of the debate has been confined to exotics, trees which are not natives of Australia, and
I propose to state the case in some small detail for the propagation of many of the trees that have been largely eliminated from our rain forests.
Australia is the most arid of all the continents. We have a country with a continental climate. By that I mean that the prevailing winds are of such a nature that most of the water vapour that they take up from the oceans is precipitated around the coastal fringe before it has a chance to reach the vast inland areas. It is of interest to note that 39 per cent, of Australia has a rainfall of less than 10 inches a year. Another 20 per cent, has more than 10 inches but less than 15, while a further
I I per cent, has a rainfall between 1 5 and 20 inches a year. In other words, 70 per cent, of Australia has a rainfall of less than 20 inches a year. This severely limits the possibilities of silviculture over vast areas of Australia.
Even before the arrival of the white man this country was sparsely timbered. Today, according to the latest figures I can obtain, little more than 4 per cent, of our total land surface is covered by forests. For purposes of comparison, even the United Kingdom with its remarkable density of population has a forest coverage of 6.3 per cent., while France has a 21 per cent, forest coverage with a population of nearly 45 million. For Finland the proportion of forest coverage is of the order of 70 per cent., for Sweden a little less. Even Germany has more than 30 per cent, of its area covered by forests. There is much to be done even within the area in which our sparse rainfall can be utilised. lt has been truly said that forests precede man and deserts follow him. We of the
English-speaking race, being notably animal husbandmen have sought two things wherever we have gone, pastures for the flocks and land for the plough. In the process of securing these we have, by axe and fire stick, devastated the forests and the land of every continent we have touched. The proposal in this Bill is merely to help reverse the devastation caused by 160 years of white man’s occupation of Australia.
Let us look at the wealth obtained from wood products in other countries. Let us profit from the example of such countries as Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, Canada and Germany. Let us take to heart the lesson of Hitler himself, who embarked on world conquest when all that he had was good black coal, iron ore of some 12 per cent, metallic content and Germany’s pine forests on which to base his plan for world domination.
The projections outlined by the Minister of our consumption of timber in the year 2000 need not necessarily be correct because the use to which we put timber will change. I believe, although I am subject to correction, that by the year 2000 sawn timber will not be used for the purpose of cladding. Sawn timber will be used solely for the framework of a home. With the advance of wood technology and other forms of science it is quite conceivable that timber, which after all is essentially cellulose and lignin, will be applied to uses other than the cladding of homes. Even the vast quantities now consumed in the paper pulp industry may be diverted to other uses. In this regard 1 suggest that there could be a very useful alliance in Australia with what is at present our largest source of timber and is located below ground surface. I am referring to our coal deposits which themselves are the relics of another age, the carboniferous age. Our coal deposits are, by weight and volume, our largest existing asset of vegetable origin. When the same amount of interest and research and technology is applied to coal as a source of raw material as has been applied in the petrochemical industry, I have no doubt that synthetics from our coal deposits will be recognised as a very valuable supplement to our timber resources.
On the subject of exotic softwoods lel us consider first the pinus insignis. commonly known in the United States of America as
Monterey pine. Another of its synonyms is, of course, pinus radiata. While our pine forests have, in the main, been well established and well husbanded, the fact remains that we have not planted them in precisely the same conditions of climate, temperature and periods of rain precipitation that they experience in their native countries. From what I have seen of our radiata pine that is produced today and used for scantlings - timber framework, in other words - the number of knots in it does not endear it to the average carpenter. At best it is a poor substitute for other materials, but nevertheless it can be very valuable as a source of raw material, particularly for the pulp industry. However, it will need to be much more mature growth before it can ever become a reasonable substitute for oregon pine, which is the timber par excellence, the timber most sought after and used by the carpenters of Australia.
As to our native softwoods, I consider that some of the money being applied to the promotion of Australian forests today could be well applied to the regeneration of the cedar forests. Cedrus australis is one of our most magnificent timbers. Although some forestry experts may suggest that it is slow growing and needs to grow in particular areas within a rain forest where it is protected from the wind and has plenty of sun, nevertheless it could be of very substantial value for the production of veneer. The day of solid cedar timber is past, but cedar will still have a very important role in the future in the manufacture of veneers. Another timber that could be well considered for regeneration is coachwood, originally called leatherjacket. Its botanical name is ceratopetalum apetalum. It is used to a considerable extent as a substitute for maple. Many of the proud possessors of a supposedly maple dining room suite or bedroom suite would find, if they had the furniture inspected by a timber expert, that it was really made of coachwood.
– I have been taken down.
– The honorable member probably has been. In another field sassafras is a timber worthy of regeneration.
Let us leave the tropical rain forests and pass to the inland ridges, the areas of gravel and sand where the annual rainfall is 15 or 20 inches. What is being done by this Government to assist or to make sure that the State Governments concentrate on the regeneration of the Callitris, which is commonly known as the cypress pine? Callitris calcarata and Callitris glauca both are excellent timbers for the cladding of houses and for flooring. In the postwar building boom, certain speculators mopped up most of the available cypress stands in New South Wales. These were cut and absolutely nothing was done by way of regeneration.
We in Australia have a very great love of trees, Sir, although the area covered by our forests is small. We can take the eucalypts as a particular case in point. According to Sir Russell Grimwade, whose “ An Anthology of the Eucalypts “ is the standard work, there are more than 450 different species. They include the largest trees in the world. No crop can field more per acre than the tree, and particularly the eucalypt. Eucalypts are the giants of them all. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) will agree with me in tha’. Even the Sequoia - the Californian redwood - runs second in terms of volume and height to the eucalypt. The eucalypts are not only the biggest but also the fastest growing. The Tasmanian blue gum is really the fastest growing of all our eucalypts. It has been transferred to other countries with very great success. Mussolini helped to drain the Pontine Marshes by introducing plantings of the Tasmanian blue gum or, perhaps I should say, Eucalyptus globulus. There are wonderful stands of this tree in northern Africa. In South Africa, it is used for pit timber.
Throughout the world today, Sir, you will find tremendous disparity. Wherever man has been, you will find the desert. Wherever man has congregated in numbers, he has cut down the trees and destroyed the vegetation cover. But we have come to a time when, as a matter of national policy, we must consider not only overall production in the development of softwoods plantations. We should also introduce the requirement laid down in Sweden that wherever one tree is cut down three shall be planted in its place. If this were done, the forests of Australia could expand. There is a further notable contribution, apart from direct cash profits, that cm be made by trees. I refer to consolidation and binding of the soil, the provision of wind breaks and the provision of a mat of humus which can act as a sponge and hold water as it falls in rain and which can release that water gradually. If we want to talk in terms of a vast system of dams and weirs as the New South Wales Minister for Conservation does, we shall need firstly to stabilise the soil in the catchment areas of many of the inland rivers in New South Wales. Unless and until we do. there will be nothing but problems of siltation of dams. I believe that one of the classic illustrations of this is presented by the Hunter River.
In the time that is left to me, Sir, I want to make a few more comments on other matters, one of which is overseas trade in timber. Much has been said about our adverse balance of trade in timber, lt is true that in the interests of reciprocal trade we buy from New Zealand much timber - Pinus insignis - of a better type than we can produce ourselves. But, right across the frigid zone of the northern hemisphere, there is an unbroken band of conifers, which extends from Norway through Sweden, Finland and Russia to Siberia. It jumps the Behring Strait and runs down the coast of North America into Canada and the United States of America. There are infinite possibilities for the further expansion of our overseas export trade by purchasing our requirements of Oregon pine from some of the countries that I have just mentioned. I believe that there is a strong case for the establishment of a national tree consciousness. Arbor Day, Which has been celebrated in the schools of New South Wales for many years, should be made a day of national significance and every child should be taught the importance of trees for the future welfare and development of Australia.
– Mr. Speaker, I support the statement made by the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) and the Government’s proposals to increase financial assistance for softwoods plantings by the States. I am sure that the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Connor) is very pleased that the Minister covered much of the ground that the honorable member traversed in his very learned remarks about Australia’s native hardwoods. The Minister indicated that he was aware of the problem and that the Australian Forestry Council was examining the matter, when he said -
If we are to avoid dependence on substantial imports in the future it will also be necessary to concentrate our attention on increased production of timber and forest products from our native forests. This can be achieved by better management of the natural hardwood resources that we have and this is another avenue to which the Forestry Council has been turning its attention.
The proposal presented to us in the statement that we are discussing is for the Commonwealth to lend the States $20 million over the next five years free of interest and without capital repayments in the first ten years. The length of term of the loans has not yet been announced, but it is important to note that the States have agreed not to reduce their present allocation of funds. On the adoption of this proposal, I congratulate not only the Minister for National Development, who is Chairman of the Australian Forestry Council, but also the other members of the Council, who are the State Ministers responsible for forestry matters, as well as the Standing Committee on Forestry, which is composed of the Director-General of the Forestry and Timber Bureau, the heads of the State departments concerned with forestry and the Chief of the Division of Forest Products of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
This proposal is an example of federalism working at its best. The Commonwealth and the States have combined, as the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) pointed out, to examine a national problem in a national way and to work out a long term solution. The States have undertaken to use the additional finance to plant some 35,000 acres per annum more than they are now planting. It is expected that this will increase softwoods plantings to some 75,000 acres per annum for the next 35 years. One imagines that the present proposal is the first of a series designed to continue these increased plantings so that by the year 2000 we shall be fairly self sufficient in softwoods and be able to reduce our present large import bill for timber which amounts to about $200 million per annum. We should also be able to prevent our import bill for timber rising to approximately $600 million a year, the estimate of the figure that our imports would reach without the proposals now before us.
At present, there are in Australia about 650.000 acres of softwoods planted and growing. Just under 500.000 acres are government plantings and the balance is private. Native forests total some 30 million acres, of which only 500,000 acres are softwoods. Consequently, the present proposals to increase the production of softwoods greatly by the end of the century are of tremendous importance. They not only will solve a problem and overcome a shortage that we can see but also will bring the States and the Commonwealth closer together in forestry matters and do much to avoid a very serious financial problem that we would otherwise face.
Australia now needs some 500 million cubic feet of timber a year and about one third of this is imported - about 166 million cubic feet. As I said before, this is worth some S200 million in imports. This measure is designed to make available to Australia, ready for use in the year 2000, 3 million acres of softwoods, out of an estimated total of about 4.2 million acres or 4.3 million acres that could be used. The point has been raised by other honorable members, including the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) - and I congratulate him on his speech - that this measure is designed to assist only the development of government plantings and not those of the private sector of the forest industry. But I point out, as the Minister said in his statement, that this is only the first recommendation of the Australian Forestry Council. There will undoubtedly be other recommendations from that body. One can only presume and hope that the Council is at present examining the points raised by other honorable members concerning the development of the private sector of the industry.
At present it is estimated that private forest owners will contribute an average of 10,000 acres of new forest plantings each year over the next 35 years to the turn of the century. As was pointed out by the honorable member for Braddon and the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon), some 16,000 acres of forest were planted by private enterprise last year. But it is estimated that the rate will average out at about 10,000 acres a year to the turn of the century. I believe that this is an area in which the Government can assist. There should be increased production and increased growth in this area. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations estimated at a recent symposium that the needs of the world at the turn of the century would be more than twice what they are today. As the Minister pointed out in his statement, there will be a world shortage of timber by the year 2000, particularly of softwoods. He estimated that there is going to be a shortage not only in the Americas, where the United States of America could well take the whole of the Canadian supply, but also in the regions mentioned by the honorable member for Cunningham such as northern Europe, Asia Africa and the Pacific areas. There will be a world shortage of timber at the turn of the century.
This indicates to me why we could well go further than the present measure in respect of the government forests. We could also assist in the private sector of this industry because it would be a valuable export industry for Australia by the year 2000. Timber is a long term crop, as has been pointed out in the debate in this House and in the excellent debate on this subject a few weeks ago in the Senate, In that debate, and in this debate, there has been a consensus between the two sides of the Parliament. We are planning a long way ahead because it takes about 40 years for a tree to come to maturity. At the end of this century it is estimated that Australia will have a population of about 22.4 million people. This has been stated as an estimate by Mr. A. G. Hanson in Leaflet No. 85 issued by the Forestry and Timber Bureau. It is a conservative estimate and it depends on what our migration policy and programme will be in the period from 1975 onwards. It is estimated that our population will be approximately double what it is today. Our timber requirement could well be higher than expected at that stage. By means of this measure, the Government has taken steps to develop government plantings with the objective of meeting our needs at the turn of the century, when the world will be feeling a shortage of timber, according to all estimates. However, I think we also must look at the private sector of the industry, as other honorable members have pointed out.
At the moment, there are three types of concerns interested in planting softwoods privately outside government interest and control. There are the industrial concerns which plant softwoods for pulp or sawmills. There are those concerns which do so as an investment or as a speculation. The third group comprises private farmers. The difficulty faced by the private sector is that this is a long term crop. There is a long wait before there is a financial return. A fairly large amount of money has to be put into the crop in the intervening years without a return. There are also problems and difficulties caused by income tax. The very real difficulties so far as private farmers are concerned are those associated with probate or estate duties and the problem of fire and pest infestation. There is the risk of those things wiping out the total investment.
The industrial concerns feel these difficulties less than the private individual. They have available to them financial resources which are not available to trie individual. They do not face the probate problem. They do, however, face a taxation problem as has been pointed out. But as far as management and control of their forests are concerned, they are undoubtedly in a better position because they have in their service trained and highly efficient foresters. I congratulate the Department of National Development on its work in training foresters in Australia and in assisting other countries in this field. We do have some highly trained professional men. Undoubtedly, as this present programme gets under way so will our need for highly trained men increase. The second group I mentioned in regard to private plantings, the investment companies, has run into trouble in the past. At present there are a number of such companies in New South Wales. I believe that they are doing a good job but they do have a problem in raising, and in continuing to raise, the necessary finance. Earlier this century, in New Zealand, a number of such companies had financial problems. I believe that they prepared the ground work for the forests in that country which the New Zealand Government later took over.
But it is in the farm level of production that I am particularly interested at the moment because undoubtedly there are many areas throughout Australia where 5, 10 or 100 acres could be planted with trees as an investment by individuals. As the honorable member for Gippsland pointed out, it is in this area that the Commonwealth and State Governments could give greater assistance by amending taxation laws and possibly, as has happened in New Zealand, by eliminating forests from death duties. I say that because, as the Minister has pointed out, forests are a national need. I commend the scheme established in Victoria last year or the year before whereby money is lent to private investors so that softwoods can be grown on their properties. I also believe that the Victorians have taken a step in the right direction with their endeavours to make available to companies interested in forestry Crown land which those companies can purchase after a number of years if they develop it effectively.
I beli’eve that we should adopt a number of other measures. We will need to increase the amount of research that is done on softwoods, especially on the nutrition of trees. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Forestry and Timber Bureau of the Department of National Development and the State instrumentalities are doing much effective work. I was fortunate to be able to discuss with officers of the C.S.I.R.O. in Perth recently the problems they are facing and the work they are doing on soils and the nutrition of softwoods. I hope that this work will continue and expand, because we will need to get the best value we can out of the forests that will be established as a result of the action the Government is now taking. We will need a greater knowledge of the types of trees that can be grown in various areas of Australia and the proper way to manage the forests. In addition, as honorable members on both sides have suggested, incentives should be given to the private sector.
The Government’s action will have a considerable effect on the decentralisation of Australian industry. Over the next 20 or 30 years, a change will take place in the utilisation of timber and an increasing quantity of softwoods will be used. As the change takes place, a number of sawmills now existing will go out of business and others will be established to cater for the new plantations that will be developed. Further, towards the end of the century we will need to develop additional pulp mills to cater for the vast increase of pulp that will be produced. The Australian Timber Industry Stabilisation Conference in Hobart last month was told that the production of the pulp section of the industry will increase tenfold towards the end of the century when the full effect of the Government’s action is felt.
The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) said that the Government’s action was inadequate, unrealistic and irresponsible. He used several other terms to describe it. He said that the Commonwealth had let the States down and that we should make a straightout grant of funds to the States. I think this suggestion is unrealistic. I would like to see the interest free term extended to 15 years, when the forests will first start to show some income, but even the 10 year term means that the States will get very cheap money. This is a loan on an investment that will earn income for the States. If the money were given as a grant, at some time in the future the States would receive income at the expense of the Commonwealth. I believe that the Commonwealth has chosen the right course. It is giving cheap money to the States. The Commonwealth must repay the money it borrows from the public to lend to the States. If the money were given as a grant, it would have to come out of revenue. As the honorable member for Macquarie said, this is a national effort to solve a long term problem, and I think the Government’s action will be effective. I should like to see the interest free term of the loan increased at least to 12i years. This is what the Victorian Government does with private investment on farms. I congratulate the Minister, the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments. The action announced by the Minister proves that federalism does work in Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Debate resumed form 19th April (vide page 927), on motion by Mr. Hasluck-
That the House take note of the following paper -
Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 10th March 1966.
.- This debate arises from a statement made to the House by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) some time ago. Clearly the aspect that is of most importance is the war in Vietnam. This is a subject that mainly influences and determines the attitude at the moment of the Australian people and the Parliament to external affairs. I want to discuss for a little time some aspects of the war in South Vietnam. The Government has committed Australia to involvement in .this war at a cost that may grow considerably. The Premier of South Vietnam recently stated that the war may well last for 20 years. In the United States the Mansfield Committee, returning from South Vietnam recently, said that the war is open ended. How open ended will be determined by the extent to which North Vietnam and its supporters respond to the increased pressures that are being exerted in South Vietnam from the American side, and the war may involve the whole of South East Asia. The war, therefore, is of great significance. Conscription and other aspects of our external relations today depend completely upon this war.
The Australian Government says it is involved in the war because it has been invited to assist the Government of South Vietnam. I want, first, to ask the question: What is the basis of the right of that Government? There is not a government at all in South Vietnam in any legal, constitutional or democratic sense. At the Conference in Geneva in 1954, six great nations of the world assembled and by agreement gave some semblance - a considerable semblance - of legality to a settlement of the troubles in Vietnam. The settlement had a number of significant features. First, there was only a temporary separation of Vietnam into two parts, north and south. This was never regarded in any way as a permanent settlement; it was a temporary settlement for the purpose of reaching a basis for the formation of government in both parts, and therefore in all the country. The second proposition was that the European power that had controlled the greater part of Vietnam for years, France, was to remain in control in the south. The Geneva Agreement did not in any way envisage the formation of a separate group of people claiming to be the Government in South Vietnam. The Geneva Agreement envisaged that the French would remain there in control until effect could be given to a third feature of the Agreement - that is, an election to be held in July 1956.
– That was no part of the Agreement.
– It was part of the Agreement and Anthony Eden, in his book “ The Full Circle “, pointed out how significant this was in promoting agreement between those concerned.
– There was a note-
– Men like the Minister for the Army (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) want to try to split off the substantial parts of this Agreement in order to justify the completely illegal position they support. The election was fundamental in the signing of the Agreement by the parties concerned and Eden makes that very clear in his book. I should imagine that the honorable member for Parkes does no more reading on this subject than he has done on any other. He has shown himself to be completely unaware of the important factors involved, and he does so again by his interjection. The election was not held. It was not held, not because anyone in North Vietnam or in South Vietnam objected to it, but because objection to it was raised by a group of people, called the Government’, who were brought in from outside - most of them are northerners anyway, even today - to exercise the role of a government in South Vietnam at Saigon.
We must next consider these questions: What kind of Government was brought into existence in South Vietnam in this way? Had the group of people who comprised the Diem Government a suitable basis in democracy or in constitutional practice to be regarded as a government? At the end of that government’s period of office in 1963 the Embassy of South Vietnam here in Canberra issued a statement containing a proposition which has been put as follows -
For nine years the Ngo Dinh Diem Government had pursued a dictatorial and tyrannical policy. Power was concentrated in the hands of the Ngo family and those of a number of close, incompetent and interested collaborators. The natural and necessary outcome was to be tho overthrow of the Ngo regime.
This group of people, which had no basis in the Geneva Agreement to claim to be a government, which had no legal basis at all and which had merely been introduced in contradiction of the requirements of that Agreement, at the end of 10 years was described by its own embassy in Canberra in the terms that I have just used.
– What book is the honorable member quoting from?
– I am quoting from a very important book, as the honorable member for Hindmarsh would realise - a book called “ Living with Asia “.
– Who wrote it?
– I did. It will be obtainable very soon in the second edition. I. have quoted the statement made by the Embassy of South Vietnam in Canberra in November 1963. That Government, which I have shown had no basis in law, no constitutional practice, no claim in democracy, and which was described at the end of 10 years by its own embassy in the terms I have just used, was succeeded by a number of others. In “ Vietnam No. 1 “, in the Read-In Series edited by Robin Murray in 1965, there are a number of points to which I should like to direct the attention of the House. This publication said, speaking of the time just before Diem fell -
Diem’s newspaper accuses the CLA. of plotting against him; President Kennedy criticises Diem as having “ gotten out of touch with the people “.
This Government, which is the basis for everything that the Australian Government has claimed to do in Vietnam since then, accused the American Central Intelligence Agency of plotting to overthrow it, and President Kennedy had criticised it as having “ gotten out of touch with the people “.
On 1st and 2nd November 1963 that government was overthrown and Diem and his brother Nhu were at first said to have committed “ accidental suicide “. They were succeeded by General Duong Van Minh, or “ Big Minh “, as he was known. He became the new ruler and he headed a revolutionary committee. Is it not strange that this conservative Government in Australia bases its claim to be acting in Vietnam on the basis of a revolutionary committee in the chain of eight governments that came into office in that country? A revolutionary committee would in some way, one would imagine, break the chain of continuity that a conservative government such as that in Australia would require; but that was just the first step from Diem - a revolutionary committee led by “ Big Minh “. The second step was only a little more than two months later. “ Big Minh “ was overthrown by his colleagues, Nguyen Khanh and Tran Van Khiem, having been denounced for having conducted a flirtation with the French and for neutralism. At any rate “ Big Minh “, who was held responsible for this kind of thing within his revolutionary commit.ee, was overthrown, and in August that year, we arc told, a military revolutionary council approved quasi-dictatorial constitutional powers for Khanh, the first President. So here in the chain you have a military revolutionary council approving quasi-dictatorial constitutional powers. A few days later Khanh, Khiem and Minh established a provisional leadership committee and Khanh was retained, we are told, at United States request.
On 29th August there was another change of government when Nguyen Xuan Oanh became acting Prime Minister. This, I understand, is the gentleman who made some request through his ambassador to the Australian Government for some assistance. Within a fortnight there was an attempted coup, led by Generals Duong Van Duc and Lam Van Phat, which did not succeed, but a few days later these people were held to be in control of affairs in South Vietnam. On 24th October Phan Khac Suu became chief of State. Where Khanh was we do not know, but on 26th November he emerged as Premier and a high council was convened. This lasted until 11th June 1964 when Cao Ky became Prime Minister. Cao Ky is notable as the man whom “ Le Monde “, the French news paper, said caused a controversy recently by saying: “ I have only one hero - Adolf Hitler “.
This is the long chain of democracy and constitutional practice that the Australian Government seeks to claim as its basis for being invited to take part in South Vietnam. It is no good honorable members opposite saying: “ What about North Vietnam? There is no democracy there.” Of course there is no democracy there; but we are not being asked to intervene by the Government of North Vietnam. We are being asked to intervene by this chain of dictatorships about which I have just been talking. Therefore we have a responsibility in respect of the people we are supposed to be associated with, and it is quite irrelevant to the point for honorable members opposite, who never take a point if they can possibly avoid it, to speak about the lack of democracy in the North.
The next point I wish to deal with is the claim by the Government that we are in South Vietnam in order to honour our treaty obligations with our allies against the threat of aggression. The Government, of course does not mean by this the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty because no one has suggested that A.N.Z.U.S. is in any way associated with what has happened It means the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. But the Government has never at any stage said that it is taking action under S.E.A.T.O. I challenge Government supporters, and particularly the Minister for the Army (Mr. Malcolm Fraser), who is at the table now, to say unequivocally whether the Government is taking action under S.E.A.T.O. or not. The Minister responsible for these matters in the Senate today, Senator Gorton, in answer to a question, refrained from saying whether this was so or not. I want a straight answer to this question: Is the Government acting under S.E.A.T.O. or is it just broadly claiming that it is taking action to honour its treaty obligations. S.E.A.T.O. represents a treaty and an agreement. It is an agreement between a number of powers - Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Great Britain, France and the United States. These eight nations have agreed to act together. What is the good of the Treaty if they are not going to act together? What is the good of a treaty if some of the parties to it are going to take unilateral action? The Government has entered into a treaty with seven other nations, but it does not act with those nations; it acts unilaterally. So what does it want a treaty for? How can it claim that it has a treaty when it takes a position of this kind? The nations have not acted together in respect of a number of things; they have acted separately. At most, the United States, New Zealand and Australia might claim that they have acted in some way together, but that cannot be said of the other nations.
Let us have a look at a number of articles of the Treaty. Article II, which is available for any honorable member who wishes to read it, provides -
Will act jointly in respect of particular issues. In respect of South Vietnam I challenge the Government to say whether it has ever acted with any of the other S.E.A.T.O. powers separately and jointly in respect of the action that has been taken. Has a resolution ever been put to S.E.A.T.O. so that the powers could say whether they are acting separately and jointly with respect to military intervention in South Vietnam? It has never been put to them at all.
Article IV also is available for any honorable member opposite to read. Paragraph 1 provides -
Each Party recognizes that aggression by means of armed attack in the treaty area against any of the Parties or against any State or territory which the Parties by unanimous agreement may hereafter designate,-
Has there been any unanimous agreement by the S.E.A.T.O. powers designating aggression in South Vietnam? There has never been and no-one has ever claimed there has been, but Article IV requires unanimous agreement designating aggression. Unless there is unanimous agreement designating aggression the S.E.A.T.O. pact cannot be invoked. It is not enough to say that one or two of the S.E.A.T.O. powers have said that there is aggression in South Vietnam and that therefore you have invoked the Treaty. If you do that, you do not need a treaty, so you can act independently in any case, or with the United States and New Zealand.
– Can the honorable member tell us why we are there?
– That is the Government’s job. The ex-Minister for the Army wants me to tell him why we are there. Our troops are there simply to create a moral obligation upon the United States to assist Australia in case of need. The Government is not honouring its treaty obligations at all, because it has not invoked S.E.A.T.O. Article IV of the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty requires the signatories to meet and make decisions. It states that measures taken under paragraph 1 shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations. On 1st October 1965 an answer to a question I had put on notice was given to me. If action is taken under S.E.A.T.O. by a country, it is required to notify the Security Council that it has taken that action under S.E.A.T.O. I shall quote what was said by this Government to the Security Council -
I have the honour to inform you that the Australian Government has decided to despatch forces to South Vietnam in order to assist in securing its defence against the hostile activities, including armed attacks, which have been supported, organised and directed by North Vietnam.
This decision has been made at the request of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam and it is in accordance with Australia’s International obligations.
Nowhere did the Government inform the Security Council that it was taking action under S.E.A.T.O. Nowhere was reference made to S.E.A.T.O. in that letter. If the Government was taking action under S.E.A.T.O., it was required to inform the Security Council that it was taking that action. It failed to so inform the Security Council because it was not acting under S.E.A.T.O. Those persons who know the legal position know very well that the Government was not so acting.
It is not just a matter of the Government deciding what it wants to do, because Article 53 of the United Nations Charter, which this Government has accepted and has incorporated into the law of this land, requires -
The Security Council shall, where appropriate, utilise such regional arrangements or agencies for enforcement action under its authority. But no enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorisation of the Security Council…..
This Government has signed the United Nations Charter and included it in the law of this land. Article 53 of the United Nations Charter requires that the Security Council shall, where appropriate, utilise regional arrangements or agencies for enforcement action under its authority, but no enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authority of the Security Council. If a government is taking action under the regional arrangement of S.E.A.T.O., as this Government claims it is doing, where is the authority of the Security Council justifying that action to be taken? The authority is not there because the Government has not even informed the Security Council that it is acting under S.E.A.T.O. Therefore the Security Council has never been asked at any stage to give authority for that action.
The next point I wish to make is that where there is a conflict between the requirements of the United Nations Charter and the requirements of some other arrangement like S.E.A.T.O., some honorable members might say in that position: “We choose to give effect to the regional arrangement of S.E.A.T.O.”. But that is in direct contradiction of Article 103 of the United Nations Charter, which states -
In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail.
So I say that this Government has dodged its obligations under the United Nations Charter. It has avoided informing the Security Council of the action that it has taken under S.E.A.T.O., if it claims that it has been taken under S.E.A.T.O. It has therefore avoided and has not obtained the authority of the United Nations Security Council as it is required to do by the United Nations Charter. S.E.A.T.O. has never been mentioned specifically in any request for aid by the Government in South Vietnam. When the arrangement was made between the Government in South Vietnam - whatever it was - and the Australian Government, we were not given any documents or papers to examine, if any existed. On the other hand, the Government of New Zealand did have a request made to it and tabled the papers. We were able to examine them. In those documents tabled by the
New Zealand Government we found that no request for aid under S.E.A.T.O. had been made to the New Zealand Government. The Government of New Zealand was quite frank, as distinct from this Government, in saying that it was not acting under S.E.A.T.O.
The agreed procedure is laid down and I challenge this Government to say in plain and unequivocal terms whether or not it is acting under S.E.A.T.O. There is no basis for the Government’s claim that it is acting on the invitation of the Government of South Vietnam. There is no Government of South Vietnam. There is no legal, constitutional or democratic right to claim that it is a government. Honorable members have only to look at the series of events I have outlined to the House tonight to realise how inadequate that basis is for any claim. The Government cannot claim that it is honouring its obligations under treaty undertakings, because it has never invoked those obligations. It has never stated or tried to seek the proper definition or authority for its undertaking either directly as a member of S.E.A.T.O. or as part oi its obligations as a member of the United Nations. There is no basis in law or constitutional practice for the position the Government claims to have taken.
.- We are debating a ministerial statement submitted to the House by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) on 10th March last. It is a conservative but explicit appreciation of Australian foreign policy and the foreign policy of this Government, well presented by the Minister. I compliment him on its presentation. There is no question in my mind that in the context of our foreign policy Australia will look back on the period of operation of this Government - particularly the last six or seven years - with a great deal of interest and satisfaction because of the progress that we have made in foreign relations. The record will show the gradual emergence of our people to a state of awareness and responsibility in respect of foreign affairs, particularly in South East Asia. This awareness is emerging by virtue of the policies, both national and foreign, of this Government. Those policies have been realistically self evaluated in the light of Australia’s position in world politics, geographically, industrially and with due respect to manpower, and to financial and economic resources. lt is a regrettable fact that the Australian Labour Party’s contribution to this situation is not marked with a positive notation. No doubt its comments and criticisms have sharpened the Government’s defence and initiative, but the records show that Labour’s confusion of mind on such subjects as Manus Island, Korea, Malaya, Malaysia, Borneo. Indonesia, West New Guinea, North West Cape, Vietnam, the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and treaty arrangements under A.N.Z.A.M. and A.N.Z.U.S., and its pursuit and patronage of nuclear free zones, bogus peace fronts and the like add up to a foreign policy which would have had Australia in a disastrous position by this year if it had been occupying the Treasury bench. At the very best. Labour’s opposition appears to have been a collection of paltry exercises based on party and political expediency for the day. Tonight the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) has provided a classic case of the continuation of Labour’s policy. Some of his remarks are just not worth repeating on the record of the Parliament. He said that there was an agreement in 1954. Later in his speech he said that there was some semblance of an agreement. At all events, I suppose it was some semplance of an agreement such as emerged in the cases of East and West Germany or North and South Korea. Not once during the honorable member’s speech did he voice any criticism of North Vietnam. He qualified his remarks by saying that we have no right to criticise the lack of a democratic regime in North Vietnam.
I invite those people who are participating in the strengthening of citizenship and national character in Australia and, indeed, every Australian, to examine Australia’s foreign policy and evaluate it for their own satisfaction. It might best be done by dividing the period since the last world war into three periods: From 1945 to 1950, from early in the I950’s to the late 1950’s, and from the late 1950’s to the present, lt would be over-simplifying to claim that such a period could be covered adequately in the short time of 20 minutes. However, let us study a few of the outstanding facts. I believe it is fair to say that after World War II Australia put aside any thoughts or feelings of international worries in an emergency sense and set about the task of improving our international standards of living; of making up the leeway in things that, of necessity, had been set aside as nonessential or less important in six years of war. A genera] international outlook certainly began to develop, very slowly at first, and was probably based on the need or desire to maintain contact with world affairs in trade, politics and culture. But the Government had the responsibility of participating in world affairs and moulding our Australian attitude or foreign policy. It was patently aware of the almost epidemic proportions of the rush for independence by nations in the world, particularly in Asia. The Japanese had broken the myth of the white man’s infallibility, and no force of reason or arms could have altered the onrush for political independence that swept the Asian area. The Government resolutely supported the United Nations Organisation and its ancillary arms to its prudent economic limit. We joined forces with many other nations under the United Nations banner to counter the Communist Chinese in Korea. We were embroiled and were helpful in the Indonesian move for independence. The Colombo Plan got under way.
This was a period of cautious manoeuvring for Australian foreign policy, through the shoals of mass international realignments and shifts of power. It was also a period which has now been pinpointed as the time of emergence of Communist doctrine in the East, at that time identified only as a grab for territory by a power drunk, fresh from victory, totalitarian rule.
The second phase, from the early to the late 1950’s, was significantly different for Australia only in that it emphasised and confirmed many of the trends that had commenced to emerge during the latter part of the previous period and threw into greater relief the impending path or role for Australia if it was to be a country of any consequence in the international scene. This Government resolved that it would act independently of the British in the Pacific and negotiated its alliances accordingly - A.N.Z.U.S., A.N.Z.A.M. and S.E.A.T.O. which even Churchill criticised. But what is the result of this foresight by this Government? Here in 1966, over 10 years after the decision was taken, the United Kingdom has decided to limit its participation in South East Asia, and one can see a final withdrawal. Where would we be today without that decision? Would we have to go cap in hand to the United States and say we had made a mistake?
Our critics sneered that A.N.Z.U.S., A.N.Z.A.M. and S.E.A.T.O. were only pieces of paper. Now that they mean something, it has become convenient to sneer that our foreign policy is a repeat of the United States policy. One cannot win an argument against political opportunism such as this. Let me ask: Would any critics say that our policy within the Commonwealth has been a prototype of United States policy? And what of Indonesia’s feelings? Was ours a United States policy there? 1 challenge the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) to stand and say our policy on Indonesia has been wrong. He twisted the question of trade with China into a sinister act and dramatised it with his amateurish comment about “ hands dripping with the blood of our boys in Vietnam “. In the face of its aggressive policies, we continued to trade with and even aid Indonesia, confident of a more reasonable policy. Again our foresight appears to have paid off.
We have maintained trade contacts with China in the same manner. She wants our goods, so she comes to the conference table. She will not come to the peace table because she does not want peace. At all events, the second of the periods to which I referred ended with Australia realising, first, that her era of isolation and colonial protection had gone, secondly that there had been many shifts of power in the 15 years since the war, and, thirdly, that a great and positive threat to her way of life was obvious with the Communist activity in Malaya, Vietnam and Indonesia. This last point was driven home to the Australian people with great emphasis in the dispute between Indonesia and the Netherlands over West New Guinea and with the emergence of Communist influence in the Indonesian political scene. Since that time, this Government’s foreign policy has been marked by the awareness and support of the Australian people. They have endorsed our actions in standing beside Malaysia in its dispute with Indonesia, our expanded efforts in the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, the
Colombo Plan and, now, the Asian Bank. The infamous behaviour of China towards India, her genocide in Tibet, scheming in Africa and South America, and mischief making in the conflict between Pakistan and India have not gone unnoticed by the more politically enlightened of the Australian people. They, too, have appreciated the Government’s foresight in establishing A.N.Z.U.S., S.E.A.T.O. and A.N.Z.A.M. I believe they have endorsed the continuance of these solid, forthright policies as this Government is applying them in Vietnam today.
What has been done by this Government in the field of foreign policy constitutes outstanding contributions to world peace, order and progress when taken in relation to the size of our population and our immense task of national development. So the third period ends with the country and the people more mature than ever on the broad and big issues of life, with their national and international outlook expanded significantly, appreciative of how delicately the political scales have been balanced in the Indonesian theatre and appreciative of the resurgence of a favorable climate - a climate which would have exploded in our faces if the Government had accepted the advice of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) at a delicate stage of the West New Guinea negotiations and gone charging in with gunpowder blazing.
So we enter the new stage with two subjects paramount in our thinking - Vietnam and conscription. If is the things that have not been written of Indo-China and Vietnam up to 1954, and the succeeding four or five years, that tell the real story. When the Geneva discussions were on, the world took very little notice of this controversial subject. It had been just another one of France’s problems, and to most countries Indo-China was far away. If we were frank, we would admit that the French colonial policy was not renowned for its indulgence towards the bearers of its yoke. Vice, corruption and a feudal system of land holdings were the orders of the day before the Second World War, and not long after the expulsion of the Japanese and the return of the French it became obvious that the French had learned nothing during their absence from the administration. When the French showed no signs of flexibility the Viet Minh quickly indicated to France that they intended to fight to a finish, and the finish came with the French humiliation at Dienbienphu. The French administration had a sorry record in Indo-China. That is one thing that needs to be said.
The next thing that needs saying is that the Indo-China Communist Party, dormant for many years in the Vietminh, asserted itself and took control in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. It is factual that apart from responsible Vietnamese, only the Uni ed States of America in the western world recognised and was prepared to address itself to this situation, and it is a regrettable segment of this argument that, in order to confront Chinese expansionist tactics, the United States was forced to lend weight to the French campaign. But, because the French failed to find a satisfactory solution for the Indo-Chinese, is this a valid reason to abandon these unfortunate people to a totalitarian system which, since it was first propounded over 100 years previously, has never won a country through the ballot box but only through terror and tyranny? That is another thing that needs to be aired and noted.
The next and probably most important of these points that are left unsaid on both sides is that the world at large took very little notice of the significance of the Geneva cease-fire and its associated documents. Mendes-France. the Premier of France, had made a dramatic political flourish one month earlier, promising tj obtain a settlement by 2400 hours on 20th July 1954 or resign. Come what may, he was determined to achieve this objective and, despite the protests of the State of Vietnam, led by the present Foreign Minister, Tran Van Do and the United States, he just got there, in the last minute of the last hour of the last day.
The euphemistic term of “ Geneva Accords “ is misleading. One of the Accords was clearly the armistice between the French High Command and the Viet Minh while the others were merely statements of attitudes in which the South Vietnamese and the United States clearly stated their positions. Nothing was signed. The world was glad to dispose of the Vietnamese affair and to accept anything that looked like an agreement or, as the honorable member for Yarra just said, something that had some semblance of an agreement. The world is now paying for this political expedient of Mendes-France and for the failure to heed the warnings of the United States of America on Red Chinese expansionist tactics that had been rebuked in Korea but which were still proceeding in Vietnam, Malaya, Indonesia, Tibet and Africa.
The events that have occurred in the decade since these happenings have been widely canvassed in this House and do not require repeating, unless members opposite would like me to repeat Mao Tse-tung’s comment: “ Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun “; or the words of General Giap, the North Vietnamese commanderinchief, as recorded in the North Vietnam newspaper “ Nhan-Dan “, that they had killed too many landowners, civil servants, teachers and policemen and should have another look at their system. The honorable member for Yarra claims that we have no right to look for any democratic evidence in North Vietnam. Perhaps he would like me to recall that Lin Piao, as recently as September 1965, said that Vietnam is the commencement of the great move to conquer Asia, Africa and Latin America and then to overwhelm the United States of America and her Western allies. During this time every effort has been made by a variety of representatives and representative groups to obtain a peaceful settlement, but as the British Foreign Secretary, Michael Stewart - a Labour man - so aptly said: “ Hanoi wants unconditional withdrawal - the West wants unconditional negotiation “.
Australia has had the international courage to identify herself with the right of the Vietnamese people to determine their own future and at the same time reject Red Chinese plans for Asian and world domination. This is where we stand today. We are a young country with tremendous but exciting responsibilities of self development. We are well respected in international affairs and we have an extensive record of armed support against oppression and of aid to economically underdeveloped countries. We are a country prepared to honour its moral responsibilities to mankind.
Let me now refer to conscription. The expurgation from our national way of life of our anathema to overseas conscription has been a pending process of our development to maturity. The time has now come for us to precipitate the process if we are to preserve the areas in which we hope to achieve nationhood and international identification of the finest order. The people of Australia will accept national service overseas when they are allowed to weigh the fundamental facts in an objective light, but first it appears that it will be necessary for them gradually to pare away the confusion that has been forced upon them by the irresponsible section of the demonstrators, the bogus peace fronts and the less responsible sector of the Labour Party who are embarrassing the sincere critics of the policy with their patronage.
I offer this proposition to the House - that Australia has made substantial progress and consolidation in its foreign policy over the last 21 years in the light of its size, population, financial resources and its geographical and ethnical relationship with the world and South East Asia, lt now stands poised to enter another phase - not on a precipice, as some would have us believe, but on the shore. We may wet our feet a little in getting the message of Vietnam and conscription over to the people, but we will get through the spray and the fume of the propaganda of the peace movements and of the political expediency of some members of the Labour Party. We will get through and the Australian people will accept our proposition that we should do battle in Vietnam to contain the Red Chinese. I believe the people will accept the proposition that it is necessary for national servicemen to serve where they are required, be it Australia, New Guinea or elsewhere. They will learn the methods of the Communist world to undermine democracy and, further, they will learn how to resist them. They will perceive that the greatest requirement will be obtaining and retaining the will to fight, knowing that the West has the power to resist this manifestation of a disease of the mind called Communism. All that is required is the will. I invite the people of Australia to enlighten themselves on the fundamental facts of what has been achieved thus far in Australian foreign policy and in our world standing and, secondly, to throw their weight confidently behind this Government in ensuring the continuation of these policies to their satisfaction and to bring standing peace and security to our national way of life.
.- It is a good job that we have an Opposition in Australia that can keep a watch on the Government’s policies in relation to economics, defence and international affairs. The gentleman from Lithuania who was in Canberra last week used words that would sum up the attitude of members opposite on this issue. He was upset at the demonstrations against him outside this House the week before last and he said: “ This would not happen in Moscow.”
– Of course it would not.
– Yes, because the enemies of the Soviet are in Siberia, in gaol or in the cemetery. Members opposite would like to silence us. That is their attitude. If they had their way we would not be allowed to criticise their policy in respect of Vietnam. They regard it as dreadful that we should criticise. Let us be honest about this. We challenge the Government on every point of its policies when we feel its policies are detrimental to the good of this country. We have the right to stand in this Parliament, thank God, in a free country, thank God, and say these things, and we do not care what members opposite think about it. We are responsible people and we represent thousands of electors. I refuse to believe that all of the intelligence and knowhow in this House is on the Liberal benches.
Under this Government’s foreign policy Australia is losing a large slice of its sovereignty. Australia is losing its independence of thought in foreign affairs. In the world councils no longer is our voice a wholly Australian voice; it has a strong American inflection. Our foreign policy and our economic policy are married to the foreign policy and the economic policy of the United States of America. Australia has become the echo of American war policy. We have only to read the remarks of our Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) and our Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) when they were in Washington to know how they fall in line with American policy.
– What is wrong with that?
– Just a minute. This is a serious surrender of a big slice of our economy. Economically this Government has come to lean heavily on American invest- ment, American loans and American knowhow. In saying these things I am fully conscious that a Labour Government invited the Americans on to our soil in 1942 when General MacArthur made Australia his Pacific headquarters, but this was three years after the commencement of World War JJ, which was a war for the survival of all free peoples and a war in which all our resources - men, money and materials - were in action and were placed at the nation’s disposal. In other words that was a total war. Who in his right mind would stand here or elsewhere and say that the war in Vietnam is total war? Some members opposite have the nerve to compare the situation in 1942 with the situation in Vietnam today. What utter rubbish that is. What utter rubbish members opposite try to stuff down the throats of Australian people. Members opposite surely do not claim that this is total war. Our survival and America’s survival hinged on this gigantic unity of the United States and Australia in J 942. Let us not forget that it was not all one sided. The Americans may have been invited by Mr. Curtin to come to Australia, but they did not lose two minutes in saying that they would come here. Why did they come? They came because they wanted Australia as a Pacific base of operations. They had been pushed out of all the islands north of the equator. Pearl Harbour had been bombed. Hardly an island had been left to the Americans on which to build an aerodrome. Australia became their great base of operations. From 1942 onwards, one million American troops came here. Australia was the great American base. Australia’s contribution represented only a small part of the gigantic base in this country. It was not just that we invited the Americans here to save our skins. They came to save their own as well as ours.
The situation today is completely different from that of 1942. The war in Vietnam is an illegal unilateral war. The Americans are in Vietnam without any right. They are not there under any treaty or commitment. They decided to go in of their own volition. They were not asked or told to go in by the United Nations or by any nation. Of course, we are united with the Americans. Let us not be anti-American. Honorable members opposite may laugh their heads off. The fact that I criticise America’s policy in Vietnam does not mean that I am anti-American, notwithstanding what the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) may say. We are united in many ways with the United States of America. Our two countries have strong ties of basic outlook, basic ideals, basic standards of living, basic political beliefs and basic democratic principles. We can respect the American way of life and America’s defence aims. We can respect America’s military and economic power. But does this mean that we must slavishly follow America in South East Asia or into any war in which America wishes to become involved? The Americans took over in Vietnam where the French were defeated in 1954. Must our basic aims converge with America’s in the deadly jungle battlefields of Vietnam, even to the extent of sending 20 year old conscripts into this jungle morass? Australia is in Asia. Geographically Australia is an Asian country. We will be in Asia for ever. America will never be an Asian country and certainly will not be in Asia for ever. Some day America will leave Vietnam. Probably, by then, Vietnam will be a shambles. Australia must stay in Asia and try to go on living with Asia and Asians, after having helped Asians to kill Asians, guilty and innocent alike. That is what the future holds. We have to live with Asians. We must learn to co-operate with them and work with them to build up their social standards. Yet now we are killing Asians. America can walk out of Asia at any time but Australia can never walk out. We are in Asia for all eternity - the only white nation in Asia.
In 1964 the Australian Labour Party opposed the legislation which introduced national service training. Men trained under this scheme are now being sent to Vietnam. We still oppose national service training. The present scheme is not national service as we knew it in the early 1950’s. In those days we had the barrel ballot and young men called up did three months training in national service camps set up for them alone. There were no veteran soldiers in the camps others than instructors. The camps were for the 18 year old national service trainees. As I have said, we opposed the scheme. We said: “ Take all the 1 8 year olds or none “. That was our policy, clear as crystal. After conducting barrel or marble ballots for national service trainees for several years the Government abandoned its policy-
– And after spending £150 million.
– Yes. The Government abandoned its policy and introduced a policy whereby all men 18 years of age had to go into national service camps. There is no similarity between the present so-called national service scheme and the former scheme, which was a true national service scheme. The people of Australia were fooled deliberately by this Government in 1964. The legislation was not national service legislation at all. The Minister in charge of the legislation knew that the boys would go into camps where veterans also were training. He knew that these young boys would join veterans in active units and be sent overseas with them. But he did not mention these things when he brought down the Bill in 1964. That is the difference between the present national service scheme and the former scheme. The present scheme is not a true national service scheme. It is a scheme to conscript young fellows for Regular Army service. Within a few months they are veterans. Under the true national service scheme thousands of 1 8 year old Australians were trained and, having been trained, they went back to their employment.
Never before in time of peace have we sent conscripted soldiers overseas, but this Government is doing it now. We are not at war officially even now, notwithstanding 12 months of military involvement in Asia. Nobody has declared war. What a farcical situation. If the Government were to declare war, it would have to stop trading with China because as soon as you declare war you declare an enemy. Until you declare war anybody can be your enemy. It is not official. So we go on trading with the enemy. The Government’s policy is to avoid declaring war so that it may continue to trade with the enemy. The Government has behaved in a hypocritical fashion over Vietnam. Many of our boys are already in Vietnam. Many more will be there by Christmas. Some will have paid the supreme sacrifice by then in a war that will solve very little and which will grind on for at least 10 years and perhaps 20 years. It is our enslavement to American policy in
Asia that has precipitated conscription in Australia. This is the only reason why we have conscription. There has never been a war like the war in Vietnam, simply because there has never been a war in this type of terrain. Let us recall what happened in the fight against the Communists in Malaysia. Britain took on the job, and we helped her.
– Did Britain declare war?
– No. She continued to trade with the enemy, just as Australia is doing now. There were 8,000 Communists in Malaysia. Britain put in 250,000 men to track down 8,000 Communists. In 12 years Britain spent £500 million to defeat those 8,000 Communists. This is the kind of war you have in jungles. A mere 8,000 Communists cost Britain £500 million and, on and off, tied down a total of 250,000 men over 12 years. I invite honorable members to work out for themselves how long we will be in Vietnam, where there are estimated to be thousands upon thousands of Communists.
The United States has said, in effect, to South Vietnam: “We will stay and fight here, and, if necessary, die here, until you set up a government of which we approve “. There have been nine governments in South Vietnam in the past two years and the Americans have approved all of them. Not one of those governments has been elected. America wants a government of which it can approve. Is this not the kind of blatant interference in the internal affairs of another state which we criticise if engaged in by China or Russia? Of course it is. The United States has been in Vietnam since 1947. At that time it was giving military and economic aid to the French. By 1954, when the French were defeated, that aid amounted to SUS3 billion. The Americans have been there ever since. Now they are increasing their military might as each month goes by. The United States has backed every government set up in South Vietnam, and even military dictatorships. On 17th November 1954, just a month after Diem was installed as America’s choice in South Vietnam, General Collins, who at the time was President Eisenhower’s special representative in South Vietnam, issued an ultimatum. He said that the South Vietnamese Army would receive no more
American aid unless it supported Diem. This can be verified by a reference to “ Keesing’s Contemporary Archives “ 1 955, page 14849. With American funds Diem opened an academy to train a new army with the slogan “ We will march to the North “.
This and other actions by Diem were open violations of the Geneva Agreements which not only received American support but were in effect an extension of American policy in Vietnam. The reasons for American opposition to a national election are spelled out in the memoirs of General Elsenhower. He stated that every expert whom he consulted agreed that if an election were held possibly 80 per cent, of the people of both North and South would vote for the coalition of parties under Ho Chi Minh. There has been no Government in South Vietnam to the people’s liking since that time, and the Americans will stay in that country until there is a stable government of which America approves. Have you ever heard of such blatant interference in the internal affairs of another state?I never have.
– Who said that?
– Who said what?
– Who said they would stay in Vietnam until there is a government of which they approve?
– I say so, and I am not the only one. Let me read what Senator Fulbright of the United States Senate had to say about this matter. An article which appeared in the Canberra “ Times “ of 22nd April gave Senator Fulbright’s views on this subject. It read in part -
What right, he asks, have Americans to say that Vietnam should adopt one type of government or another? What right has it to be involved so deeply in the latest political mess between Premier Ky and the northern provinces and the Buddhists?
He and others in America are criticising their government for maintaining American forces in South Vietnam until that country establishes a government to America’s liking. Just listen to what Senator Morse said in Oregon on 23rd April 1965 -
We do not intend to let the Vietnam people choose anything contrary to American interests.
So it is not just my idea that the Americans will stay in South Vietnam until a government to their liking is established there. This proposition is borne out by the statements of prominent Americans themselves. Diem’s Government was an American creation. Seventy-five per cent, of its budget came from American sources, and economic and military aid poured in at the rate of nearly $2 million a day. Still there was corruption, poverty, unemployment and misery in the country because the money was not being spent as the Americans had intended it should be spent. If the South Vietnamese elect a government in the coming election will the United States approve it? That is the 64-dollar question and on the answer to it depends how long the war will last. Will the Americans agree to the Government that will be elected in a few months’ time in South Vietnam by the people of that country? I will be very interested to find out.
Another important question is this: How can the United States beat the Vietcong without subduing North Vietnam, and how can the United States subdue North Vietnam without fighting China? If the United States starts a war with China where will it end? This is the crucial and critical question. It is a frightening question for all of us at present because the policies at present being followed are bringing the war nearer and nearer to China. Western diplomacy should aim at keeping Moscow and Peking apart, not bringing them together. They both belong to the Communist world but there are deep differences between them. Chinese nationalism will shape Chinese Communism, which will always differ on many points from its Russian counterpart. Why, therefore, force Moscow and Peking into a single worldshattering nuclear force to confront the rest of the world? American policy, which is swallowing Australian policy, is bringing about just this result by forcing the Vietnam war further and further to the North. God help the world if a nuclear war should ever come out of this conflict.
There have been two contributions to this debate from Opposition speakers tonight, one by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) and one by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). The honorable member for Yarra waxed extremely theoretical tonight. Apparently he has been thrown back on a theoretical argument concerning a certain interpretation of S.E.A.T.O. and the validity and extensiveness of Article 53 of the United Nations Charter. Here we have a practical man in politics who bases the national security of the country on extremely theoretical arguments. If he had his way, conditions which have never been argued would supply the essentials for the continued security of the country.
I hope I misunderstood the assessment of the honorable member for Wilmot of the importance of the Malayan campaign. There we had people devoted to freedom and fighting for their freedom, and the honorable member seemed to regret that the British Government spent so much money in securing that freedom.
– I did not say anything like that.
– That was the whole tenor of the honorable member’s argument, and if he cannot sec the logic of extension of his case I can only feel sorry for him.
– I. was merely showing how long we might have to be fighting in Vietnam.
– We may be fighting there for a long time if we are to make this country secure. We may have to fight for a long time, together with the Americans. The honorable member for Wilmot based his whole argument on another premise - that there is a real division of opinion between Moscow and Peking. There is no division in terms of actual physical contact. In fact the letter from the Central Commi.tee of the Chinese Communist Party to the recent Moscow Congress made it very clear that China would stand with Russia in any imperialistic war waged against either nation. If honorable members opposite base the whole of their foreign policy on a division of opinion between these two countries they will be so incorrect that the result will be tragic. But of course the Opposition has for 10 years been basing its foreign policies and the approach to the security of this country on a wrong premise.
Its opposition to our Vietnam commitment is in a way only the top-dressing on 10 years of strategically incorrect and wrong policies.
– Who saved us when Menzies walked out?
– The Australian people saved us, and the American alliance saved us. Let us go over these 10 years of Labour policies. The unstated premise, and the stated premise, of the Government’s policy in Asia has been the over-riding influence of Communist China in the area. This has been clear since the Indo-China war and it has certainly been clear since the Korean campaign, lt was against this political background that we negotiated the trade treaty with Japan. We did not want Japan to fall into the orbit of Communist China. It was because of this main consideration that we opposed the diplomatic recognition of Peking. It was because of this that we had troops fighting Communist terrorists in Malaya. It was because of this that we supported the establishment of the American base at North West Cape and opposed a nuclear free zone in the Southern hemisphere. As a logical extension of all these policies we are now militarily involved in Vietnam.
On each of these policies the Labour Party since 1955 has opposed this Government. Its opposition has been more specific since the 1955 Hobart conference. The errors the Labour Party made then have become tragically clear. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Deputy Leader (Mr. Whitlam) have opposed us on the whole series of policies I have outlined, and the Australian public would do well to consider what would have happened if they had been free to implement their opposition to these policies. All these policies have hung on the proposition that Communist China is the overriding danger and on the proposition that the American alliance above all secures our continued freedom and preserves our security.
I think it is also worth looking at the political reasons why a Communist power wages war in a territory across its borders, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is valuable to see in what way the political fabric of the control of the North over the South in Vietnam and the political fabric of the control of Peking over Hanoi is being torn at the present time. We know that in Communist theory and practice political control has primacy over military and social control. Unless we accept this, we can never explain why Stalin, for example, was victorious over Trotsky and we can never explain why Ho Chi Minh extended his influence over the whole of the Indo-China Peninsula. Unless we look at the political fabric of control from Hanoi and look not at General Giap, who is a militarist, or at Ho Chi Minh, who is a titular head, but at the writings and the recent observations of the Secretary of the Political Cadres of the Communist Party in Hanoi, we cannot determine whether we can win or whether there will be peace.
There is at present abundant evidence that the political fabric of control is weakening. Le Duc Tho, who is a more significant figure than either Ho Chi Minh or General Giap, is Secretary of the’ Political Cadres of the North Vietnamese Communist Party, or Lao Dong Party. Writing in “ Nhan-Dan “ and particularly in “ Hoc Tap “, which is the Party journal, during January and February of this year, he made several points, all of which are extremely important. He made the point that there has been economic distress in the North, that there has been a considerable cutback in the rice crop there and that this has resulted in the planting of what are known as subsidiary crops. He has made it clear that the administrative control of the Communist Party in South Vietnam at the provincial level is being subjected to disputation. He has made this clear in several statements in these two journals, and these statements are worth examining for what they mean. They are most significant. Writing in the Party journal during January and February of this year, a time when, we must bear in mind, political control has had primacy, he stated -
A small number of comrades have developed erroneous thoughts and views. Concerning the combat task they have made an incorrect assessment of the balance of power between the enemy and ourselves, and of the enemy tricks.
This is the essential point -
Now they entertain subjectivism and pacifism, slacken their vigilance, and fail to get ideologically ready for combat.
I emphasise the statement that they fail fo get ideologically ready for combat. There is nothing that would weaken the authority of Communist control more than lessening ideological preparedness. Yet this is what is happening. Le Duc Tho went on to declare -
Now they see only difficulties and do not see opportunities . . .
They do not understand why the progression from stage 2 to stage 3 of a revolutionary war has not resulted in victory. So, at the precise time when this linchpin in the political control of the North is being torn away, we have the Opposition in this Parliament saying: “ Do not bomb the North. Relax your military pressure. Give them a breathing space “. We heard objections when bombing of the North was resumed after the Americans had allowed a considerable breathing space. I do not understand this reasoning. The Opposition wants pressure slackened at the precise time when there is evidence of the collapse of the influence of the North in the South. Added to this, we saw in an interesting little article in the “ Canberra Times “ that there is now considerable opposition in the South to the increased numbers migrating from North Vietnam in order to escape military and political control. It is at this precise time that Australia has decided to support the Americans in their commitment so as to increase the pressure and tear apart the political fabric of control from the North.
We have made a decision to send 4,500 troops to Vietnam. That is a very modest number. In the first place, the Opposition opposed the sending of volunteers. Opposition members have now shifted their ground, of course. They now say: “We shall go along with the sending of volunteers “. In a television interview in Brisbane on 3rd April, Mr. Cyril Wyndham said: “ Leave the volunteers there but pull out the national servicemen “. He made no qualification. He is not a witless man. He is very important in the Australian Labour Party’s councils. He suggested that we pull out the national servicemen and leave the volunteers there. The Opposition would leave the volunteers in Vietnam now, but with what support in the field? It is presumed that the Labour Party is a patriotic party. With what support in the field would Opposition members leave the volunteers in Vietnam now? The South Korean Government decided to send first 15,000 and now 41,000 troops to assist our forces and the Americans in South Vietnam. South Korea, another Asian nation, decided to send troops to assist our boys in Vietnam. We know that the chances of success increase according to the support they receive. But what does the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party say? Decision No. 12 arrived at by the Federal Executive, which is not in dispute, protests at the sending of 15,000 South Korean troops to assist our troops in South Vietnam. This is a policy infinitely more dangerous than any policy concerned with education. The Opposition Party protests when the Government of another country sends troops to back up and assist our troops in the field. I hope that honorable members opposite appreciate the enormity of the Federal Executive’s decision.
– That was not a decision of the Federal Conference.
– It was a decision of the Federal Executive. The honorable member has not had the courage or the wit to dispute it. lt has not been called into dispute by any member of his Party, and certainly not by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The Federal Executive of the Labour Party has made this decision. I hope that at the forthcoming conference in July, which is to consider an education policy - a policy that is important enough but not as important as the policy involved here - the Labour Party will consider reversing its opposition to the support being given by South Korea to our forces. I hope that it will reverse its opposition to other Asian nations supporting our troops in the field. This is an important matter for the consideration of honorable members opposite and especially for their consciences.
There are opportunities for Opposition members to consider what they should do about these matters. Perhaps one of them will present itself in a meeting that is to take place in the Opposition caucus room tomorrow. We shall come to this in a moment. It provides a fruitful opportunity for various kinds of comment. The whole premise of the Opposition’s policy is based on the proposition enunciated by my friend, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray), in a debate last Sunday when he said that Communist China is not an ex pansionist power if she were, he would give her all of South East Asia
Mr. Irwin__ Who said that?
– lt was said by the honorable member for Capricornia last Sunday in a debate at Alexandra Headlands in Queensland. He said that he would no; care if Communist China got all of South East Asia. He would not worry about that. That is his policy. Australia is involved in this issue and it cannot be ignored. We are the only nation of our type that has been stated by Communist China to lie within her area of influence. This has been declared four times since 1961. It was stated only four weeks ago, again by Kuo Mo Jo. In Djakarta in 1961 when he was asked how he saw the future of Australia, he said: “ We see the future of Australia as a neutralist in the pattern of the neutralist Afro-Asian nations “. Yet Opposition members sit supinely and say: “ Let us not worry. Let us hope that the Americans will come and defend us to the last American draftee “. What tremendous courage they have. One can only reflect that their courage - or lack of it - in this respect is not related to the courage displayed in the real tradition of Socialist parties. It is not related to the attitude of former Labour Prime Ministers such as Watson to national service or conscription. Those men saw these things as being for the protection of working men. But the position of the Labour Party today may be expressed in the words: “ Let us fight under A.N.Z.U.S. or any other pact to the last American draftee “. Honorable members opposite have a socialist view of international affairs, which is understandable enough, but it might lead them into error. Sometimes it might lead them to correct decisions. Keir Hardie had something to say about socialist aspirations on which he remarked some years ago, and this might be applied to a certain caucus meeting tomorrow. When asked to define Socialism Keir Hardie said - lt is the return to that kindly phase of life in which there is no selfish lust for gold, wilh every man trampling down his neighbour in his mad rush to get more.
We do not want Gough trampling down anybody in his great rush to become Leader of the Opposition. Keir Hardie had this gentle and delightful comment to make, and it could apply to the caucus room tomorrow -
Socialism is the reign of human love in the room of hate. . . .
So. tomorrow, honorable members opposite will embrace one another in this room of love. Government supporters think - and I think this view can be substantiated - that at least since 1955 the Opposition has based its attitude towards national security and foreign policy on a mythology - the mythology that Communist China is not an expansionist power. The Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and every honorable member opposite accept this proposal. They base their attitude on this proposition that Communist China is not an expansionist power. The tragedy of this is that it would be laughable were it not so dangerous.
We hope on this side of the House that tomorrow, or maybe in July when the Labour Party has its conference, honorable members opposite will reconsider the assumptions on which they have based their foreign policy. There is nothing desired more in Australia than to have no perceptible and clear differences between the major parties on matters of national security. National security is not the kind of thing upon which people ought to have real differences of opinion and upon which we hope they would have no real differences of opinion.
– It seems a long time since this debate began as a result of a speech made in this House on 10th March by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck). I suppose that no sooner will this debate be finished than the House will face another statement from the Minister consequent upon his more recent trip abroad. I would like to direct some attention to one or two of the things that the Minister said in his speech some six or eight weeks ago. He began by saying -
I would agree at least with the first thing that the Minister mentioned. That was that we cannot change Australia’s geographical situation. I suppose we can all agree about that. The Minister went on to say -
Again, we might agree that there are great forces bringing massive changes in South East Asia. But there seems to be some difference of opinion as to what those massive changes are and how Australia in particular is to approach them.
It seems that if any objection is raised whatever to the situation in South Vietnam and to the presence of the Americans in that country one is in danger of being called anti-American by honorable members on the Government side of the House. I must confess, for my part, to having a distinct liking for such Americans as I have had the good fortune to meet - and I have had the opportunity on two occasions of travelling through the United States of America. I would say that most Americans are like most Australians. They are reasonably decent people who want to live the best way they can in peace in their particular part of the world. But it seems that what distinguishes those who are in favour of the way events are being handled in Vietnam from those who are opposed to them is the opinion as to whether or not Communist China is an expansionist power. In a moment I will quote the words used by the Minister in this connection. The honorable member who preceded me, the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns), said that Communist China was an expansionist power and that we on this side of the House had suggested that she is not an expansionist power.
I listened the other evening, as I suppose did many thousands of people, to something called a “ talkathon “ or a long distance television debate about the question of conscription and about Vietnam. One speaker from this side of the House said that there was no evidence that there was a single Chinese in North Vietnam. I do not know whether that statement is accepted on the Government side of the House or not. But at least there is no doubt that there are many thousands of Americans in South Vietnam. I had the pleasure today of having a discussion with some people from the United States Embassy on this matter and I said that it seemed to me that it narrows down to the proposition that there are some 200,000 Americans obviously present in South Vietnam and apparently, but not so obviously, the presence of Chinese can be doubted at least, lt may be that some other type of help is being given to North Vietnam. But if the question is being discussed in terms of polemics - and 1 think that sometimes there is too much polemics and not enough getting down to fundamentals - at least it is easier to argue the non-presence of Chinese than it is to argue whether or not the Americans should be there. The Americans are there in considerable numbers.
The Minister went on in his speech - and 1 think this seems to indicate the broad difference between our approach and that of the Government - to say -
A more direct danger is presented to us by the active and belligerent fact of Asian Communist imperialism.
After all, what is Asian Communist imperialism? lt is a very nice sounding phrase but I suggest there is some need to define the evident existence of what is rather grandly called “ active and belligerent Asian Communist imperialism “. ft seems in this debate that there has been very little concrete evidence of this belligerency, or any attempt to define what was described in rather broad terms by the previous speaker, the honorable member for Lilley, when he said that Communist China was an expansionist power. Surely it can be asked: Where is the practical example of Communist expansion?
– How about Tibet?
– 1 suppose it is all right for honorable members to talk about Tibet, but 1 think we ought to be talking about the situation in Vietnam in 1966 - the present situation. We can profit from history, but. despite what some people say, history is not inclined to repeat itself. 1 should think that each circumstance should bc looked at as it occurs. Most people are saying that there are two “ cannots “ in the war in Vietnam. The first is that this is a war that cannot be won by either side, except in the sense, I suppose, that annihilation of one side or the other can be called victory. The second is, tragically for those who are involved, that it seems also to be a war that cannot be stopped.
I had the good fortune two weeks ago to attend as a delegate from this side of the House the meetings here of the InterParliamentary Union. 1 found it a very interesting experience. 1 suppose never before have so many parliamentarians been gathered together in Australia. Some people are disposed to sneer at certain parliaments. This again is an instance of the way in which our thinking tends to be stratified. We imagine somehow or other that our parliamentary system is so much more democratic than other parliamentary systems. We have reservations about the existence of democracy in Australian States where the body that is supposed to be democratically elected in the popular sense can have ils will frustrated by a limited franchise upper House. The delegates to the meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union are regarded as parliamentarians and, despite the sneers, it is worthwhile for people from various institutions that call themselves parliaments to come together for discussions. This was possibly the most representative, and certainly the most extensive, gathering of parliamentarians ever assembled in Australia.
When the issues in Vietnam arose for discussion at the meetings of the Interparliamentary Union, the great United Slates of America sought to have a resolution adopted. Czechoslovakia, 1 think, submitted a resolution that may have been impelled by the Russians. In the end, neither resolution was adopted. The resolution that was adopted came from a majority of much smaller blocs of powers. They were inclined to say: “ A plague on both your houses “. I suggest with all respect that that is the feeling of many people throughout the world on this question of Vietnam. It is all very well to say that certain events happened in 1954 and others happened in 1960 and so on, but surely we ought to be calculating the effect on Vietnam from 1954 to 1966. Surely at this stage the war is in dan.aer of being escalated, if I may use that lovely term. As far as I can understand, “ escalated “ simply means that more people arc killed more quickly than before. Whether this is a legitimate technique in warfare can be left to the imagination, but J think decent people want a halt to be called to this so-called dirty war. I suppose all wars are dirty; certainly none has ever been clean and none seems to be consummated without some loss of life.
We in Australia are debating this issue of Vietnam and debating it principally around the unfortunate circumstances that have existed in Vietnam. At least in this Parliament we are all Australians, but we have quite considerable differences about who is right and who is wrong in this situation. It seems to me that the Minister for External Affairs ought to have done more than he did to explain the Australian situation. In his statement he said -
This struggle to save freedom in Asia is the struggle of the whole of the free world.
People sneer at some of the parliaments that were represented here a fortnight ago. But I suggest it is very difficult to define a free country in the context of South East Asia. For instance, is Thailand a free country?
– Spain is not free.
– I am confining myself at this stage to South East Asia. The Minister said that this is a bid for freedom in South East Asia. Who is free and who is not free in Vietnam? Is the South a free nation under the Ky Administration? Is it suggested that the North is net free? For my part, I am not arguing that either is free, but the Minister should make his meaning clear when he says that this is a struggle to save freedom. He also said -
On our own side-
That is, Australia’s side - we have done what we can to bring Hanoi to the conference table.
I have some doubt in my mind about what the Government has done to bring Hanoi to the conference table. What attempt has it made to do so, other than to follow palely behind the American lead? Has Australia attempted to make any independent approach to find a solution to the problems of Hanoi? I would hope, on the other hand, that the Russians might use their influence with Hanoi a little more than they have. But surely the important factor is that here we have a war of attrition. I do not claim to be a military strategist or an expert on South Vietnam. I am like most other honorable members of the House. I suppose three out of four of the honorable members who have participated in this debate have not been to the area, but I do not think it is any test of an assessment of a situation to say: “ You have not been there “. Possibly one’s assessment would be a little better after having been there, but many people who have been there do not seem to have a very clear assessment of the issues.
The so-called guerrilla warfare in Vietnam seems to be carefully avoiding the cities and confining itself to the jungles. On that basis, it seems that the war can go on for a very long time. Recently Ky said that it could go on for 20 years. I have heard Americans suggest that it does not matter whether the war takes 5, 10, 15 or 20 years. I would suggest that every day it lasts matters, if we think of it in terms of the human lives that are being endangered, as we should. I sometimes think that if the world devoted to the task of bringing peaceful advantages to some countries some of the attention that it seems to devote to taking destruction to them, we would get closer to a solution of what must be still the big problem that perplexes the world. In another day or two we will discuss a bill dealing with the establishment of a development bank in South East Asia. That is a practical approach. A delegate from Indonesia to the Inter-Parliamentary Union meetings said a fortnight ago that, of Indonesia’s population of 106 million people, 70 million live on the one island of Java. Java is about half the size of Victoria, with an area of about 40,000 square miles. He went on to suggest that the annual increase in that country was of the order of li million people per year and he pointed to the difficulty. There is no doubt that the island of Java is overcrowded. He said: “ Have you ever conceived of the magnitude of the problem of shifting 1 i million people from one place to another, in this case not from one side of the world to another but from one island to another, namely from Java to Kalimantan “. Unfortunately many of the people would not want to go and possibly the island to which they were to be transferred would not want to have them. He said that if you were to put 1,000 in one ship you would need 1,500 ships in the course of a year to shift the increase of population alone. It seems an almost impossible task; but on the other hand what has happened so far as South Vietnam is concerned? There have been, or there will be, 250,000 Americans shifted from homes which most of them, I presume, never wanted to leave. They have been shifted right into the heart of the jungle of Vietnam. This shows that if people have the will to do things those things can be done. 1 hope that the situation in Vietnam is settled sooner rather than later, and that when it is settled that the theories on the other side of the House will be disproved. I hope that when the war in Vietnam is finished war in Thailand, Cambodia or somewhere else will not begin. I hope that what will begin will be an attempt to shift some of the people from parts that are overcrowded to other parts. Given the same sort of willingness to assist them, it can be done. I suppose that the average salary of an American soldier in Vietnam is possibly in the region of S4.000 per annum. Apart from the value of any equipment that he has, the expenditure in Vietnam is probably well over one thousand million American dollars a year. When all is said and cone, I suppose the fighting in Vietnam originally arose out of economic, social and class discontent. I hope that at least a little more reason and a little less polemics is brought to bear upon this really tragic situation - the war that cannot be won, the war that is not being stopped but which ought to be stopped.
.- I hope to follow the note that has just been sounded and display a little less polemics and perhaps a little more reason by continuing to take a close look at the issues in Vietnam which I suggest hinge entirely on the nature and purpose of Communism and its declared objectives in South East Asia and elsewhere. I suggest that it is completely false to suggest to the people of Australia that their choice is between staying as they are and as they have been for so many years and going to a bitter war - as though they had a choice which could determine which way they will go in the future. 1 believe that the action that this side of the House supports simply does not make sense unless one sees clearly the things in the lives of people and nations which are certain to be destroyed in the event of Communist victory in South East Asia.
Just think of some of the things which the Western world holds dear in a particular sense. There is the freedom of the indi vidual. There are, happily, still vast numbers of people who believe that freedom is one of the most valuable things in the world - freedom to seek and to know the truth, freedom to speak to and to associate with other people in that search, to bring up one’s children without fear of their minds being taken over and trained to strive against you and everything you hold dear, freedom to protest against injustice and inefficiency, and freedom to choose our own way of life as a people. Take these things out of life, and there are millions in the world today, thank God, who believe that life has very little else to offer.
We refute the propaganda that this is a local or civil quarrel taking place inside Vietnam between two rival groups who would institute just a different political idea for within their own nation, implying that it has very little significance for the rest of South East Asia. An attempt is made continually to show that this and that regime in South Vietnam - the rule of Bao Dar or Ngo Dinh Diem, or the present Ky regime - were the result of bad rule in various ways. Maybe they were; but we must not forget that these are local situations rooted and grounded in the local history of the place, like thousands of others in the flux of history, involving rulers exercising thei’r little authorities, and open to their petty tyrannies, but still open to change. But they are not part of a massive plan to destroy freedom as I have described it. to destroy it on a supra national scale down to the last bastions of resistance in men’s minds and philosophies. This latter force is the one we fight. The danger confronting Australia is the greater because the nature and strategies of that warfare are subtle, are camouflaged and thrive on confusion. They most certainly cannot be delineated by the old conventional forms of drawing a battle line.
Australia today is made weaker because there is a growing number of people who unthinkingly accept truth and freedom as the normal, natural and almost inevitable attributes of life in Australia. They forget that these things have been bought dearly and are the result of continuing search and struggle. They forget that men have had to sacrifice in order that we should possess these things. But today there is a difference. In the past century or so there has come about, not just one more of the world’s many oppressions or tyrannies, not just an attack on human or national conditions or institutions at one level or another; but in the world today there is alive a deliberate, purposeful, massive movement bent on destroying and reversing the whole direction that human history has taken. Communism sets out to remove and replace existing philosophies - our painfully developed systems of values and the freedom to know, discuss and apply them. Communism’s objective is to destroy every other idea and to eradicate every other way of life.
In the “ Communist Manifesto “ Marx and Engels tell how it is the aim of Communists to eliminate not only private property but to destroy - and I quote - bourgeois notions of freedom, culture, law and the rest.
Even the family is to be destroyed, for they go on to say -
Bourgeois marriage is in reality a system of wives in common.
Nationality has no place. The working man has no country. These things are to go. Marx has written -
The Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional property relations. No wonder its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.
Australians should never forget that the self confessed war seekers of today are the Communists. Here is the essence of their belief. They believe, first, that the dictatorship of the proletariat is inevitable. There is no need to ask how. It will come out of the ashes of the present order as surely as night follows day. Their second belief is that its coming is hastened by the destruction of the present situation. Out of clash that they hope to augment comes the birth of the brave new Communist Utopia. So good Communists are exhorted to exploit every area of strife, of clash, of hatred, of class and race tension. Show me a trouble spot in the world today, a place of major differences of opinion, and there you will see the Communists at work, wrecking without thought for the morrow. Violence is inevitable and essential on the road to the peace of an era free from every other idea, from every other philosophy and every other viewpoint, where the only values remaining are the will of the Party. If anyone tries to deny that that is the essential fundamental nature of Communist doctrine he is trying to anaesthetise you until you can no longer resist the full treatment.
In Australia today there is a fertile field among those who have never been pacifists or leftists but who revolt against war in the second half of this twentieth century. They are fed up with all war’s brutalising and degrading aspects. They shrink back into themselves in the midst of all the doubt and discussion and simply say: “ Let us just live in peace where we are at all costs “. What these people are really saying is this: “ The price of the continuation of the struggle for truth and freedom which is as old as history is now getting too high. What does it matter if those who want Communism take over for a time? It probably will not last.” That is the issue for Australia to decide today.
We, as a Government, will not shrink from our concept of what should be the decision. There can be no turning back for us from our decision to halt Communist aggression in South East Asia now at the 17th parallel in Vietnam. We are under no illusion about the forces arrayed against us, or about how deep the enemy’s propaganda and our own national remoteness from reality have gone into our national willpower. We will win no votes by the terrible decision we have made to send young men to fight in Vietnam. We will soon have to ask a great deal more of the nation as a whole because this issue will not be finished when the issue in Vietnam is concluded. This is a battle which is continuing across the entire world.
The most subtle approach goes something like this: “Why worry so much about Communism in Asia? It may even do a better job in those backward places to our north. It need not last very long. After all, they are already getting more sense in Russia. So why fight against it, especially by sending our best young men to face death in those backward places? “ This, too, is an unreasoning appeal to wishful thinking. The disintegration of Communism may well occur, but truth and freedom will not emerge as a result. We do not hold the same blind faith that truth and freedom will emerge unless they are fought for, delineated and expressed in some way or other, sooner or later.
Meanwhile, of course, the local soothsayers do not actually say the other thing that their viewpoint demands. They do not wish to discuss the fate of the millions to our north who choose not to go under and not to submit to untold generations of slavery. These people seem to be regarded as simply expendable by the persons who adopt such arguments; to be written off as before their time or unlucky to be born in such backward places. The poor, blind people who argue thus for non involvement fail to see that they must inevitably subscribe to the destruction of the forces prepared to oppose Communism there and here. This is a simple and direct way of destroying Australia from within, without anything more than a political struggle.
We who talk of freedom already have many things to be ashamed of. We went on our careless way while the people of Hungary rose and fought tanks with their bare hands. We barely paid attention as Tibet was destroyed as a nation - eradicated and emasculated. After all, both countries were a long way off. But the West did call a halt in Cuba, Korea, Berlin, Greece, Malaya, Borneo and now in Vietnam. The result has been a containment and suppression of naked aggression before it could flare into a world war.
That is what we are doing today. With all the West’s resources to wage global war and with the future of mankind in the balance, the problem today is not to fight a conventional war as of old. Twice in our lifetime we have seen a declaration of war race into world conflicts. The problem today is to use just enough of our power to prevent the forcible overthrow of free nations or of those nations which are still moving in the direction of freedom along the line of history as we have known it, before this drastic reversal of everything we believe in comes about. We may not have declared war, but we are at war. We are not at war with any nation; not with North Vietnam, Russia, China or Indonesia. In the case of Indonesia, we hope desperately for her friendship at an early date, even though we fight on the Borneo border. We are not at war with nations, but with a supra-national idea. In some cases, nations have already fallen into its power. Other nations, like our own, are in varying stages of submission to or expulsion of its influence. It would be easy if we could identify the enemy so nicely that war could be declared. But we can still win the battle of ideas, the struggle for friendship. We are seeing it won in the many places that I have already quoted, and I believe that the tide is turning today in Indonesia. The stand we have made in Malaysia and the stand we have made in Vietnam have reinforced these people in Indonesia who have stood out against the increasing pressure that Red China was bringing to bear on their country.
I believe that now, at this time in Australia’s history, all of us, Opposition and Government members alike, must at least agree on one thing - that we should be rethinking the position of Indonesia in our whole foreign policy. The situation has changed very greatly from the days when we committed ourselves to Malaysia and even more recently when we committed ourselves to Vietnam. At that time we feared that Indonesia, a country behind our defence perimeter was moving swiftly into the Chinese Communist camp. That now appears to be a different story and, without diminishing in any way our responsibilities and commitments in Vietnam, Australia should do everything in her power to see that a free, strong and prosperous neighbour shares her common border.
During my visit to Indonesia last year, one of the great positive things I noticed was the number of young students everywhere being prepared in the schools of Indonesia for the future, but without any kind of guarantee of a place in the sun because of the economic and political state of the nation. With the civil service in disrepair and with private enterprise frustrated there was very little opportunity for these young people to move ahead. In private talks with General Nasution, he admitted that the Army was doing its best to . take the cream of these young people and provide them with some outlet for their abilities. Yet I came home convinced that the really explosive power, the revolutionary power, the dynamic power in that country for the future lay in the youth. I believe that our Government could make a tremendous and winning move at this new point of development in Indonesian affairs. We in Australia should consider making a massive effort to send suitable teachers to Indonesia and offer scholarships in our schools and universities. This will call for national sacrifice on our part, but it is infinitely better than the kind of sacrifice we will have to make if we fail to build real friendships in Asia. “ Business as usual “ is not a good enough philosophy in these days. 1 believe the time has come when we must call upon the whole nation to bear a greater degree of sacrifice in the light of events to our north.
I would like to see even our Prime Minister himself go to Indonesia in the near future. I would like to see him visit not merely Djakarta but also other great cities such as Jogjakarta, the great student city. He could there meet with the leaders of the student bodies which are so important in Indonesian affairs. He could discuss with them their needs. He could offer them, say, one hundred tertiary scholarships in Australia. He could also offer them the aid of visiting professors from this country who could go up there during our long university vacation and make their services available in an effort to raise the standard of tertiary education in Indonesia. These things, sinking into the students’ minds in those places, would reap a harvest of goodwill for decades to come. This is the war of ideas in which we are engaged. We are out to show these people we. have no axe to grind; that all we want is friendship and goodwill.
In addition to education, there is a vast need for economic and technical aid for Indonesia. 1 am glad to see that we have come quickly into the disastrous situation caused by the recent floods. Australia has a unique standing in the eyes of most Indonesian people who are capable of thinking about international affairs. Australia therefore should seek to be the catalyst that is able to bring together the differing forces around Indonesia. Australia perhaps could be the channel for making Western aid of this type acceptable to the Indonesian people, who are a proud people. I spoke to officials in the Indonesian foreign office and they made what I believe was a valid point. They said that one of the reasons behind the confrontation of Malaysia was a sense of hurt pride on the part of the Indonesians that the thinking of the West had left them out as one of the great forces withstanding the onward aggressive movement of Communism in Asia. If this is only partly true I believe that, through our own good relations, we could be one of the nations best fitted to act as a spearhead in an approach to Indonesia.
Australians should understand what a valuable ally Indonesia could be. Admittedly, there is a long, long way to go before we get to that point. A tremendous change in thinking is needed in Australia, but I believe we could build and see a major force developing in South East Asia, with a new kind of defence arrangement, and a new treaty binding together the off-shore Asian and Australasian countries. This is the kind of vision we could have for our future with Indonesia. Indonesia is a great, rich and important country with which we can and must be friends. Already we like each other. I have observed Australians and Indonesians at the student level at first hand and I have seen that they get along together admirably. This augurs well for the future and this understanding could rapidly be strengthened if we took the trouble.
Indonesians have observed the massive efforts of Communism to destroy the freedom of their country. They rose in revolt under their religious, political and Army leaders. Among them were men like General Nasution. Anybody who meets him finds that he is a man of upright integrity and goodwill with a simple and generous nature. This kind of person has been given a new opportunity because the Indonesians themselves have thrown off the Communist yoke. But something more is needed and Australians must do some hard thinking and not stint their sacrifice to bring about an era of friendship which will lead to the rewriting of the whole situation in South East Asia in regard to defence, security, prosperity and relations between nations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.42 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
Telecommunications. (Question No. 1558.)
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
I refer the honorable member to my reply to question No. 585 (2nd December 1965, Senate “ Hansard “, page 1980). Relevant Commonwealth Departments are looking into various shipping matters including the feasibility of using Australian flag vessels in the bulk trades and also the question of container ship services. No doubt there will be aspects which the Government will wish to consider in due course.
Courts Martial in Vietnam. (Question No. 1603.)
y asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Milk. (Question No. 1611.)
n asked the Minister for
Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
The mean of the number of cows in milk and dry and house cows at 31st March of a year and at 31st March of the previous year is used by the Commonwealth Statistician as the average number of cows in milk at any time during a year in calculations of average yield per cow.
In addition to the difficulty in arriving at a reasonably accurate figure for cow numbers there are many further difficulties attending the collection of particulars of the total quantity of milk obtained during the same period.
The average yields per cow published by the Commonwealth Statistician may however be accepted as sufficiently reliable to show the general trend.
Average annual milk production per dairy cow for each of the States and the Commonwealth for the periods 1943-45, 1953-55 and 1963-65 are shown in the following table. These figures are the simple averages of the Commonwealth Statistician’s calculations for the two year periods shown.
It should be noted that because of the revised classification of cattle at 31st March 1964, adopted by the Commonwealth Statistician the annual yields per cow for 1963-64 and 1964-65 may not be comparable with the calculations made for the previous years.
In his statement to Parliament on 8th March 1966 on Government Policy, the Prime Minister referred to some proposals the Government had under consideration for new and extended farm loan facilities to provide primary producers with greater access to medium and long-term finance through the banking system for farm development purposes, including measures for drought recovery and mitigation of future droughts.
Details of the proposals were announced in Par.liament on 31st March 1966 by the honorable the Treasurer.
The attention of the honorable member is also drawn to a statement I released on 8t’h February 1966 in which I announced the decision of the Government to materially step-up its expenditure on agricultural extension services.
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
The figures representing per capita consumption of table margarine prior to 1964-65 do not include quantities manufactured in excess of the quotas imposed under State legislation. However if such excess quantities could be identified and taken into consideration,actual per capita consumption figures in recent years would no doubt be more closely related to the 4.5 lb. recorded for 1964-65 which included the excess production.
Price is a highly important determining factor. Other influences are a decrease in per capita consumption of bread, changing meal and dietary habits, changing teenage consumption habits, the belief that butter is fattening, margarine advertising, the question of taste and trends in home baking.
Margarine. (Question No. 1613.)
n asked the Minister for
Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
The actual quantities of margarine produced in Australia in each of the last ten years as recorded by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics were as follows -
Excepting in respect of 1964-65 the figures relating to table margarine do not include any quantities manufactured in excess of the quotas.
n asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
b asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What action is proposed in support of the appeal of the National Radiation Advisory Committee for prompt action to reduce the dose of radiation used in mass X-ray surveys.
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
In its Report, the National Radiation Advisory Committee emphasised that no-one should be exposed to radiation needlessly. To this end and after discussion with the Commonwealth DirectorGenera] of Health, and the Commonwealth Director of Tuberculosis it had been agreed that certain recommendations should be applied to all tuberculosis control programmes.
These recommendations made by the National Radiation Advisory Committee with a view to limiting the radiation exposure of the population from X-ray chest surveys, have been reported to the States at meetings of the National Tuberculosis Advisory Council and in correspondence to the Tuberculosis Divisions in the States.
The Commonwealth X-ray and Radium Laboratory maintains a constant vigilance for new technical developments which may be used to reduce the dose of radiation in mass “ miniature X-ray “ surveys. The frequency of surveys in each community is reduced and the minimum age is raised as the incidence of disease in that community declines. In respect of persons under 21 years of age, there is no compulsory survey unless special circumstances prevail. Diagnostic procedures other than radiological examination are used where possible in children.
t asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the member’s questions -
The subsidy scheme is based on wholesale prices and as, in the main, retail margins in country areas throughout Australia are much the same as capital city margins, the Government’s objective in lowering prices of petroleum products to not more than 3.3c over capital city prices has been achieved.
However, prior to the commencement of the scheme the Government recognised that for a number of reasons retail margins in some remote areas exceeded capital city margins.
It was not found possible to evolve a scheme which would take into account all the factors influencing these excess margins and the rates of subsidy therefore were related to established oil industry wholesale prices.
Nevertheless, although it was accepted that the then existing excess margins would continue to operate after the introduction of the scheme it is required that resellers pass on the full benefit of the subsidised wholesale price to the consumer. Officers of the Department of Customs and Excise have conducted extensive surveys in remote areas, including the Eyre Highway, where excess margins are known to operate and I am satisfied the full benefit of the subsidy is being passed on even though, because of the incidence of excess margins, retail prices in a few remote areas are more than 3.3c above capital city prices.
Officers of the Department of Customs and Excise will continue to conduct surveys in order to see that the full benefit of the subsidy is correctly passed on and I would be grateful to have brought to my attention any specific case where it would appear this is not being done so that appropriate action may be taken.
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
m asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
Which of the decisions taken by the International Maritime Consultative Organisation at its meeting in London in March and April call for (a) administrative and (b) legislative action by (i) the Commonwealth, (ii) the States and (iii) the Territories?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The International Conference on Load Lines 1966, convened by the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation ended on 5th April but no formal documents showing decisions made have yet been received. As soon as the necessary documents come to hand they will be studied and the necessary administrative and legislative action determined.
t. - On 17th March, in reply to a question from the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard), I undertook to obtain some further information concerning the interdepartmental committee on decentralisation.
At a Premiers’ Conference in July 1964 there was a discussion of various aspects of the subject of decentralisation and it was agreed that Commonwealth and State officials should undertake a joint pooling of knowledge about and study of the many issues involved. The interdepartmental group referred to last year by my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry, comprises the Commonwealth Departments which are represented on this Commonwealth/State committee. It will be through the consultations of the Commonwealth/ State committee that the interdepartmental group will make its contribution.
Meetings to date of Commonwealth and State officials have confirmed that the studies which need to be undertaken cannot be completed quickly, in view of the complexity of the subject and the variety of the problems posed for the respective Governments on which information needs to be collected and analysed. When findings of value emerge they will be considered by the Government.
Film on Changi Prisoner of War Camp.
– On 9th March the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) asked me a question about the film “King Rat” currently being screened in Australia-
In reply I undertook to secure information as to whether the film purports to be an accurate and factual account of conditions in Changi Prison Camp.
I am informed that the film is based on a work of fiction. Apparently the screening of the film in Australia is preceded by a foreword from Brigadier F. G. Galleghan, D.S.O., O.B.E., I.S.O., E.D., saying that as officer in command of Changi Prison Camp he takes the opportunity of pointing out that the film is based on a work of fiction and this being so it portrays a situation, incidents and characters created by the author for the purpose of dramatic impact.
Brigadier Galleghan’s foreword goes on to stress that it was the discipline, mateship and splendid morale of the men of all nations and ranks in Changi that alone allowed them to survive 3i years of deprivation and brutality.
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 April 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1966/19660426_reps_25_hor51/>.