25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. ACTING SPEAKER (Mr. Lucock) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question and wish to preface it by reading a telegram which I have received this morning from Sir William Yeo, President of the New South Wales Branch of the Returned Services League.
– In answer to the Leader of the Opposition’s telegram?
– In answer to my telegram, yes. The telegram is as follows -
N.S.W. Branch wholeheartedly supports action taken by national headquarters seeking support of all Government members in the House of Representatives for repatriation hospitalisation for World War I men. Appreciate efforts you are making to have this benefit introduced.
I ask the Prime Minister: Has he received a similar telegram from Sir William Yeo or from any other president or secretary of any State branch of the Returned Services League? Whether or not he has received any communications, will he now take notice of this request of Sir William Yeo that hospitalisation for World War I veterans be included in the Bill before the House? Better still, will he withdraw that Bill and let the House pass the Bill which has come with amendments from the Senate?
– I have had no telegram of which I am aware. One may have been received but as yet it has not been placed before me. However, let me say this: I am quite certain that throughout Australia there are very many responsible members of ex-servicemen’s organisations who are disgusted by the shabby, shoddy tactics that the Opposition has adopted in relation to this matter. They want their claims dealt with in a responsible manner by a responsible democratically elected Parliament. They know that in this Parliament there are more men proportionately in the ranks of the Government’s supporters than in any other Parliament in the world who have seen active service themselves and who know the circumstances of ex-servicemen.
I do not think honorable gentlemen opposite will contest a statement that Australia has the most liberal repatriation scheme to be found in any part of the world. If they try to argue against that, they may do so. These are the facts. It is well known that before every Budget a committee of the Cabinet confers with the Returned Services League and considers the requests that the League makes in that particular area. The Cabinet, in my experience in every Budget discussion in which I have participated, has carefully examined these requests. I can hardly recall a Budget in which there was not some new provision, an increase in or expansion of an existing provision or something of that kind in relation to the returned servicemen of this country. So I use the words “ shabby “ and “ shoddy “ deliberately because the Opposition is trying to claim some monopoly of regard for Australian servicemen.
Amidst the host of claims which come to this Government and which have to be dealt with through its Budget, claims from the invalid, the aged, the widowed, and those who have given service to Australia in time of war enjoy the highest priority in our consideration. The facts speak for themselves. There is no question of the growth in the provision of social welfare and repatriation benefits. All the political manoeuvring of honorable gentlemen opposite will not obscure in the minds of ex-servicemen or their organisations who follow these matters closely the fact that this Government has dealt with their requests as generously and as liberally as a responsible government has been competent to do.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister in his capacity as Acting Treasurer. In view of the increasing demand for capital investment funds in many Australian industries and also the general belief that there should be greater Australian participation in the equity capital of Australian offshoots of overseas companies, will the right honorable gentleman have an examination made of the practicability of allowing, as a taxation deduction, interest on convertible note issues with a currency period up to, say, five years so that this very useful method of raising capital can be restored to meet a growing need?
– The matter raised by the honorable gentleman has come under the consideration of the Government at various times. It may be that circumstances which have now arisen call for some further review. I shall look for an opportunity to discuss the matter further with my colleague, the Treasurer, on his return and I shall have in mind the comments which the honorable gentleman has made.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Has the Queensland Government, past or present, ever approached the Commonwealth Government for a special grant or loan, or a special grant and loan, for the servicing and administration of the islands in Torres Strait? Alternatively, owing to the State Government’s limited resources will the Commonwealth Government take over the servicing and administration of these islands if requested to do so by the State Goverment?
– I shall examine the facts to see how far it would be proper and appropriate to disclose publicly communications which have been received by the Commonwealth Government from the Queensland Government. But apart from this aspect there is an element of the honorable gentleman’s question which would appear to permit of a direct answer from the Commonwealth Government and I shall have the question studied with a view to supplying him with a considered reply.
– Has the Minister for Territories received representations from the Corporation of the City of Darwin regarding the disposal of sewage? If so, what measures does he propose to take to meet the situation?
Jr. BARNES. - I have no doubt that most honorable members have received a letter which the Corporation of the City of Darwin has circulated on this matter. I believe that we must look at this question in its full context. The system of sewage disposal in Darwin has been in operation for almost 20 years. Records reveal that the health situation at Darwin compares very favourably with that in all capital cities of Australia. Darwin is in exactly the same situation as the city of Sydney with regard to sewage disposal.
– Is this a Dorothy Dix-er?
– It certainly is not a Dorothy Dix-er. No responsible administration would treat the matter of health lightly in a city which is expanding as quickly as Darwin. Darwin is expanding very rapidly. Only one city in the whole of the Commonwealth is growing at a faster rate and that is Canberra. The Northern Territory. Administration, together with my Department, over the last 12 months has been studying an overall system which will serve the community in future. When our plans are fully completed we expect to have a system which will serve a population of about 200,000 people. Of course, this is looking some years ahead.
In the current Budget $200,000 has been provided for modifications of the present system to bring it more into keeping with Darwin’s present rapid expansion. As early as last May the Administration instituted a survey of the present sewerage scheme, particularly in relation to the health situation in Darwin, and an interdepartmental report has flowed from this. Since receiving the communication from the Corporation of the City of Darwin I have taken up the matter with my colleagues, the Minister for Health and the Minister for Works, to ascertain what the situation is because I believe that the present very satisfactory health situation in the city of Darwin should be continued.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Does the right honorable gentleman approve of the Minister for the Army using on the adjournment last night security or intelligence files to discredit a IS year old school cadet and to distract attention from his account of cadet training methods? Does he know and agree that dossiers are compiled with similar speed and revealed with similar recklessness concerning the mothers and other relatives of all critics of Government policies and Army indoctrination on Vietnam?
– Dealing with last part of the question first, I do not personally know of the detailed manner in which the security organisation secures the material which it places before the Prime Minister in its discharge of the responsibility which this Parliament and the Government have placed upon it. So far as I am aware the methods correspond with those adopted during the period when honorable gentlemen opposite were in office several years ago. In the first part of his question the Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked whether I approved - 1 think that was the substance of his question - of the action of my colleague in publicly disclosing material which related to the matter brought before the Parliament by the honorable member for Grayndler.
The Minister for the Army did see me early this morning about this matter, and he brought to my notice the material on which his reply had been based. I say by way of comment that the Minister for the Army has a general responsibility, when the policies of his Department or of the Government come under attack, to defend those policies. When he has reason, on the basis of information coming to him, to question the bona fides of action taken, then that responsibility is enhanced. In this particular case, as I understand the facts, the episode in which this young man was involved was highly publicised and the Minister for the Army therefore had good cause to make a careful examination of the episode itself and the surrounding circumstances. I do not know whether all members of the Parliament know the circumstances of the case, but the fact of the matter is that the lad’s mother - and he is-
– The Prime Minister is compounding the offence.
– The place where the training was done was known as “ Vietcong Village “.
– The honorable member for Grayndler last night made an attack on the Government on the basis of this episode.
– The Minister for the Army attacked the mother, and now the Prime Minister is repeating the attack.
– I do not attack the mother. The mother is a citizen of Australia.
– With the rights of a citizen.
– Of course she has the rights of a citizen, and this Parliament has the right to question an attack on the policy of the Government and the methods adopted to implement that policy. She is a committee member of the Association for International Co-operation and Disarmament, New South Wales. I ask the Leader of the Opposition: Is this an organisation which is acceptable to and endorsed by the Australian Labour Party?
– I have never heard of it before.
– Or is it an offence for a member of the Australian Labour Party to belong to this organisation? I ask him to reply to that question.
– Tt is not.
– This organisation superseded the New South Wales Peace Committee for International Cooperation and Disarmament, also known as the New South Wales Peace Committee, which was, as was generally recognised, a Communist-inspired peace organisation.
– She is a very dangerous woman!
– No, she is not a dangerous woman, but I think the Parliament
– She is a peace lover. That is a sin in the eyes of the Prime Minister.
– Order! I suggest that honorable members study the Standing Orders. This House can proceed with its business only if the Standing Orders are observed. There is no personal satisfaction to me in having to name any honorable member, and I suggest-
– Spare us the lecture.
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor says he does not want to be lectured. If that is the case 1 suggest that he and other honorable members study and obey the Standing Orders. If the Standing Orders are completely ignored this House must fall into a state of chaos and the business of the House cannot proceed. I suggest that honorable members consider that.
– Mr. Acting Speaker, I raise a point of order. You have taken an attitude towards the Opposition over the last couple of days which has involved pretty severe criticism. I suggest that you have a responsibility to see that Ministers, and particularly the Prime Minister, do not misuse question time, and unfairly and improperly provoke honorable members on this side of the House by making improper accusations. This has been happening during the time the Prime Minister has been answering this question.
– On the point of order raised by the honorable member for Yarra: I suggested that the House come to order. I made no reference to any one side of the House. I have pointed out before that Ministers answer questions as they so desire. This has been the practice of the House. I call the Prime Minister.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask you, Mr. Acting Speaker: Is it your duty to ask members to obey the Standing Orders, or is it your duly to deliver a lecture about them?
– The honorable member for Lalor is out of order. I call the Prime Minister.
– The other piece of information which I believe to be relevant is that on 14th April a large advertisement appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ by authority of the Association of International Co-operation and Disarmament opposing the dispatch of national servicemen to Vietnam. A number of organisations were alleged to be in support of the protest, and these organisations were listed. One of these organisations was given as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Australian Section, New South Wales Branch, the secretary of which was named as Mrs. Michaelis of Redan Street, Mosman This is the street address of Mrs. A. M. Michaelis, mother of Robert Michaelis
I put these facts before the Parliament, as my colleague did, because when an episode of this sort is given wide publicity - as this episode was - the Minister has a responsibility to test the good faith involved in, and the genuineness of, the episode itself. He has the task - as do other members of the Government, but the Minister for the Army particularly - of defending the policies of the Army. It was in meeting that responsibility that he brought to the attention of the Parliament information which the Parliament was entitled to have in order that it could make its own unfettered judgment on the matter in question.
– 1 rise to order, Mr. Acting Speaker. I ask that the document read by the Prime Minister be tabled. I say that he is obliged to table it unless he claims that it is confidential. Having read out the whole of the document he cannot claim that it is of a confidential nature. I would like to examine the document from which he quoted.
– Mr. Acting Speaker, in regard to the matter that the Leader of the Opposition has raised: These documents are confidential.
Opposition members. - Oh!
– Just a moment. When I am asked a question I hope to have the opportunity to answer it. I have quoted from these documents every matter which is relevant to the subject before the House. I am quite agreeable to having the Leader of the Opposition examine these documents. But he knows it has never been the practice in this country - when he was in office or when we have been in office - for communications from the Security Service to the Government to be made publicly available.
– The Labour Party never misused such information, as the Government has.
– Oh no; of course not!
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. Is it a fact that Japan has recently proposed additional imports by it of iron ore pellets from the Hamersley mines in Western Australia? Are these proposals in addition to the 16 million tons to be exported over 10 years as from 1968? Is the suggested price of US18.5 cents per ton for ore of 1 per cent, of iron content correct? Can the Minister indicate what tonnage is involved in the new proposals?
– I am afraid that the only information I have at the present moment is what I have read in the Press and as this is rather speculative, I think it would be better if I treated the honorable member’s question as being on notice. I shall give him a full reply at a later stage.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. I point out by way of explanation that the recent decision of the Commonwealth Government to provide interest bearing loans to cane farmers with an initial interest free rest period, although providing greater liquidity, does not improve the overall ability of the farmer to service his mounting debts, unless, of course, prices rise. Will the right honorable gentleman’s Government give consideration to taking immediate action which will alleviate the inability of large sections of the sugar industry to secure urgently required credit for essential farming operations, and will his Government give urgent consideration to taking steps which will stop the panic spreading, nefarious and disgraceful practice of some banking institutions of instructing or advising farmers who arc heavily in debt through no fault of their own to dispose of their cane farms and get out of the sugar industry?
– The Government has dealt in a quite unprecedented way and, 1 am sure most honorable members will agree, in a very considerate way with the difficult problems of this industry. What we have done has been in the direction sought by the official spokesmen for this industry, and after a great deal of consideration by Cabinet. I am glad to be able to report that I had a letter from Mr. Pearce, who is well known to all connected with the industry, expressing deep appreciation for what the Government had done in relation to this matter.
– I address to the Prime Minister a question supplementary to that asked by the Leader of the Opposition relating to the telegram from Sir William Yeo. Will the Prime Minister send a telegram to Sir William Yeo reminding him of certain statements made some time ago by leading members of the Labour Party such as the honorable member for Yarra, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Wills, particu larly one to the effect that one of the greatest menaces to the security of Australia was the pressure group in the Returned Services League?
– I rise to order. I had occasion two days ago to ask that a questioner be asked to verify a newspaper report on which he had based a question concerning me. On the following day the newspaper apologised for having given an incorrect report of what I had said. On this occasion I ask that the honorable member for La Trobe be required to verify a report of a statement which he attributes to me and which I have never made in any circumstances.
– I think the question asked by the honorable member for La Trobe rather extends the responsibility of the Prime Minister beyond its normal boundaries.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for La Trobe has just attributed a statement to honorable members on this side of the House. I was one of those whom he mentioned. I support the request made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the honorable member for La Trobe be asked to prove his statement. Unless he is prepared to do that, and unless the House is prepared to insist that he do so, we shall deny to honorable members the rights and privileges under which they work.
– Order! This is not a responsibility of the Chair.
– I address a question to you, Mr. Acting Speaker. In today’s “ Daily Telegraph “ there is published what deliberately has the appearance of being a factual report of a discussion of Labour’s immigration policy that took place in yesterday’s meeting of the Labour caucus. The Press was excluded from the meeting and the report could only have been the result of scavenging or the product of imagination. The whole is a gross distortion and in part it amounts to unmitigated lies. I. ask whether you, Sir. have power to exclude from the precincts of this House the representatives of newspapers which indulge in reporting of this type and whether you can insist that a statement of the sources of alleged reports such as these accompany the reports. If you have such power, will you exercise it to protect the public from misleading and lying reports?
– The forms of the House are available. I shall discuss this matter with Mr Speaker on his return.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask: Has he seen a statement in which his counterpart in Queensland expressed concern at the appearance and dissemination of cattle ticks that resist existing methods of control? These pests already cost the country more than $20 million annually. Will the right honorable gentleman consult with experts and the appropriate Ministers of all the States infested wim cattle ticks with a view to formulating a plan to eliminate these pests from Australia altogether before the problem gets out of hand and costs the country even more?
– The matter raised by the honorable gentleman is causing considerable concern to both the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and my own Department. A conference was held.” It was attended by the senior officer of my Department who is concerned with these matters. So I am well acquainted with what has happened. Unfortunately, a sufficiently effective dipping compound cannot be found, except perhaps for D.D.T., which is not acceptable under the regulations governing meat export requirements. Every aspect of the matter is being considered seriously. Another conference will be held as soon as further information is available. All the authorities concerned regard the situation as being very serious.
– 1 preface my question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, by stating that the right honorable gentleman is reported as having said, on his departure from Australia on his recent overseas trip, that this country was likely to be engaged in many more wars in Asia in the next few years. If the report is correct, when does he intend to issue a detailed statement revealing where and when these wars are to be fought? How many thousands of young Australians are to be conscripted to serve in these Asian wars?
– The report was not correct. I would certainly hope that no Australian has to serve in any future war, but we would be flying in the face of the lessons of history if we were to adopt policies based on the acceptance of this as the likely consequence of the policies of others in our neighbourhood in the years ahead. I shall see whether I can obtain for the honorable gentleman a detailed statement which was made recently - I am not sure that it was not made by Mr. Dean Rusk - and which recorded the number of conflicts that had broken out in the world over a limited period. We live in a turbulent and rapidly changing part of the world. Australia has never tried to build up a military structure or organisation that would enable it even to be self reliant in defending itself if it were ever attacked. We have always believed that to do so would be to place on the economy a burden such as would deprive us of any reasonable prospect of achieving our goal of national growth and development. So we have linked ourselves with others in this area of the world for our mutual security, lt is in that spirit that our defence policy has been framed.
– My question to the Prime Minister is along the lines of an earlier question about the Government’s recent proposals for the provision of aid to sugar growers. Will the Prime Minister confirm that sugar growers in New South Wales will share the benefit of the SI 9 million loan made by the Government to the Queensland Sugar Board and that the loan is of a magnitude designed to ensure that sugar growers retain their economic viability?
– I am able to assure the honorable gentleman that sugar growers in New South Wales will be included in the scheme. As he rightly points out, the principal objective of the assistance which has been provided is to enable this great Australian industry to continue in a condition of health during a period in which it is facing internationally some of the most complex difficulties in its history.
I assure the honorable member that the
Government will continue to watch closely developments in the industry with the objective of ensuring its continued stability and strength.
– Has the Prime Minister noted the report of a speech made to the United Nations by the Minister for External Affairs in which the Minister is reported to have said that the war in Vietnam “ could not be stopped by surrender or by victory for either side”? Can the Prime Minister say whether the statement was, in fact, made? If it was made, is this the considered position of the Australian Government? Does the statement mean or imply that in a settlement in Vietnam there must be a recognition of representation and of conditions on each side? If so, what representation or conditions does his Government accept as necessary for a settlement?
– I think my answer to a question asked today by the honorable member for Stirling sets out in fairly detailed terms the information sought in the question asked by the honorable member for Yarra. The honorable member has quoted a passage from my colleague’s speech. When I saw the statement as a whole made by the Minister for External Affairs I thought it was an admirable statement of the Australian position. It recognises that, having regard to the situation in Vietnam, a military solution of itself is not the complete answer. This is why the Government has accepted that there must be some flexibility of approach once negotiations are put in train. I think the Government’s position on this matter has been stated sufficiently clearly. If I find that it has not I shall supply a more detailed reply to the honorable gentleman. I assure him that when the Goverments which are to meet in Manila in the middle of October come together the overriding consideration will be to see whether by our joint efforts we can do something to promote the possibilities of a peaceful negotiation.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. I refer to a statement by President Marcos of the Philippines, made in New York recently, in which he said that he regarded the fight against Communist aggression in Vietnam as a defence of the people of the Philippines. W1H’ the Prime Minister assure President Marcos in his forthcoming visit to Manila that the great majority of Australian people similarly support the view that our commitment in Vietnam represents a defence of the Australian people?
– President Marcos did make a statement, which I applauded. He set out a recognition by the Philippines of the general protection afforded this area from the menace of Communist aggression by what I think he described as the “ umbrella of United States power”. In that sense, he was expressing views identical with those which have been held by this Government.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Army. He will recall having recently provided me with information on behalf of the parents of the late Private Moncrieff as to the circumstances in which their son and a Lieutenant Hudson lost their lives in Sarawak last March. I now ask the Minister: Are investigations still proceeding to ascertain whether in fact the two bodies found by Indonesian troops were those of the two Australian servicemen and, if so, will the Minister in due course inform Mr. and Mrs. Moncrieff where their son is interred and whether there is any likelihood of the parents being able to obtain the permission of the Indonesian authorities to visit the place of burial of their son?.
– The honorable member will recall the circumstances of this incident, which I related to him in some detail in the letter to which he referred. It has been somewhat difficult to get precise information beyond what I told him in the letter, but I will make some further inquiries to ascertain whether there is any possibility of acceding to his request.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service seen a report of the resolution of the Interstate Executive of the Austraiian Council of Trade Unions expressing concern about the arbitration system and containing the suggestion that Unions might revert to collective bargaining if they do not achieve their aims? What effect will this resolution have on the conciliation and arbitration system?
– I have not as yet been able to study the precise text of the resolution, but I have seen a number of reports of it which seem to conform to a pretty close pattern. My initial reaction is one of some astonishment that this body should pass a resolution of this kind. It is certainly not consistent with the attitude expressed to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission by many union advocates. If it is designed to intimidate the Commission, it will not succeed. It is noteworthy that in the recent cases about which complaint is made - the General Motors-Holden’s case, the Post Office case and others - it was the unions that went to the tribunal and the decision of the tribunal went against them. In other cases, union representatives have criticised employers who in their turn complained when the Commission’s decisions went against them. The basic attitude displayed in this kind of resolution seems to be: “ Heads I win, tails you lose “.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Will he inquire into the practice of copper scrap from his Department being cast into wire drawing bars at such refineries as the Electrolytic Refining and Smelting Co. of Australia Pty. Ltd. of Port Kembla, such wire bars being exported to Japan where they are drawn into rods and wire by Japanese labour and then returned to Australia for use by his Department? Will he prevent the repetition of this practice in view of the availability of suitable skilled manpower and machinery in Australia and the commendable efforts of Australian copper fabricating companies, such as Metal Manufactures Ltd. of Port Kembla, to maintain full employment and production?
– I have very grave doubt whether the statements made by the honorable member are correct in all details. My understanding is that the scrap from the Post Office is, in fact, reprocessed within Australia and used in Australia by the Department. However I will make inquiries.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Army. Is it a fact that certain recommendations have been made to the Government regarding improvements in the mail service between Vietnam and Australia? What progress has been made in this matter, which is so vitally important to our troops serving in Vietnam?
– Because there had been some recurring difficulties with the mail services, a short while ago the Director of Postal Services was sent to Vietnam to check each handling point for Australian mail to and from Vietnam. He did this over a period of several days. He has made several recommendations, many of them of a very minor nature, and they will all lead to a more effective, quicker and more reliable service. In particular he has made recommendations concerning the greater use in Vietnam of the Royal Australian Air Force and with changed closing times in Vietnam the likelihood is that this will save one day in all outgoing mail. His report confirmed that the method being used to despatch first and second class mail to Vietnam is still the best available.
I remind honorable members that first class mail goes daily by air mail to Honolulu and then directly by American military aircraft to Saigon. There has been some suggestion that we should use an alternative route through Singapore, but while it is true that there is a daily service to Singapore there is a reliable service from Singapore to Saigon on only three days a week. The other service, provided the difficulties we have experienced can be overcome, will give a reliable daily service which we believe will be preferable. There are one or two matters which Major Ditchfield has recommended which are still under examination. I expect to be in a position to make a decision on them today or perhaps tomorrow, but there is no harm in saying that the point of this particular part of his recommendation is that a few and only a few people should be detailed to watch the mail at every point at which it is handled from one vehicle to another or from one aircraft to another, because this would avoid, for example, the possibility of confusion between Australian and American mail bags.
- Mr. Acting Speaker I have been misrepresented, and I wish to make a personal explanation. During question time the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) in reply to a question by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) concerning Mrs. Michaelis said that Mrs. Michaelis was a committee member of the Association of International Co-operation and Disarmament, New South Wales Branch, and that this organisation was proscribed by the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labour Party. I am a member of this Association.
– I made no such statement. I asked whether it was proscribed by the Australian Labour Party.
– I want to clear the position. It is not a proscribed organisation. The New South Wales Branch of the A.L.P. is extremely vigilant about Branch members being members of any organisation which may be a front for or which may be used by any other political party. The Branch has made a complete investigation into this Association. It has not endorsed the organisation but at the same time it allows Branch members to associate with it.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I was asked during question time to quote my authority for details of a question I asked the Prime Minister. Mr. Acting Speaker, you will remember that I referred to views expressed by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) and supported by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). I quote an article from the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 22nd November 1965 which to the best of my knowledge, has never been denied. The article is headed “ Archbishop’s War Views Attacked “ and states -
Dr. J. F. Cairns, M.P. (Lab., Yarra) criticised the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. H. R. Gough, for his statement on the Vietnam war.
He said: “Freedom in Australia is not endangered by Communists or their friends - they are not strong enough to endanger anything.”
Those who really threaten freedom in Australia were “the leaders of the R.S.L., more than half the Liberal Party and men like Archbishop Gough in Sydney”.
– The honorable member needs leave to make a statement on this.
– Order! The honorable member for La Trobe has made his point concerning the source of his authority.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for La Trobe had not completed his personal explanation.
– I too rise to order, Mr. Acting Speaker. The honorable member for La Trobe has pretended that he is able to prove what he said at question time. He has not done so as yet and I suggest that you permit him to read in full the newspaper extract.
– I am game.
– Leave is granted.
– With the concurrence of the House I shall read two newspaper articles in full. The article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ continued -
Dr. Cairns was speaking at a Vietnam protest rally, organised by the Victorian Central Executive of the A.L.P., in Coburg Town Hall.
Dr. Gough, Primate of Australia, said in Sydney on Saturday the defeat of the Vietcong was just a question of time.
He said that a little while ago it might have been touch and go, but the situation had changed in the last couple of months.
Not all members of the R.S.L. or the Liberal Party were involved, said Dr. Cairns. “ But if they allow those who are involved to set the standard for them all, then they will become responsible. “They will be guilty of failing to halt a dangerous trend - a trend towards the stifling of all public discussion on the Vietnam war by damning it as the work of traitors.”
Dr. Cairns said it was no longer possible to shorten the war in Vietnam.
Australia had to realise that it was committed to a long and costly war - which was likely, sooner or later, to involve China.
The Australian Government’s position was based on the lie that what was happening in Vietnam threatened Australia.
At this point the print is obliterated, but the article continues - “What is happening there does not threaten Australia and nothing the Americans can now do will help Vietnam towards self-Government,” said Dr. Cairns.
He had staked his political life on a correct interpretation of the nature of the wars in Southeast Asia. “ 1 have done this because I believe it is vital for Australia’s future that the truth should prevail.” he said.
That concludes the first article, Mr. Acting Speaker, but in the Melbourne “ Age “ of 23rd November 1965, under the heading “MP’S Attack on R.S.L. ‘irresponsible’”, the following appears -
The attack by Dr. Cairns, MP, on the Returned Services League was completely irresponsible and quite extraordinary coming from a man in his position, the league’s national president (Mr. A. J. Lee) said yesterday.
– I rise to order, Mr. Acting Speaker.
– Order! The honorable member for Yarra suggested to the House that the honorable member for La Trobe be permitted to read the article in full. I treated that as, in effect, a grant of leave to the honorable member for La Trobe to do so, and that is the situation at the moment.
– The article continues -
Speaking at a Vietnam protest rally in Melbourne, Dr. Cairns said the Communists posed no threat to Australia.
The RSL and other reactionary sections of the Australian community posed the real threat to Australia’s freedom, he said.
Mr. Lee said few people would take such a statement seriously. “ The fact is that the RSL is made up of exservice mcn and women, many of whom have sacrificed a great deal to keep Australia free and secure.” he said. “ All its national policies are designed to ensure that these things are preserved.”
Mr. Lee said Dr. Cairns’s assertion that the policies of the RSL were formulated entirely by the leaders of the organisation was incorrect.
RSL policy emanated from the sub-branches of the organisation. “ In the case of Vietnam, it was sponsored by at least two State branches, and was subsequently carried unanimously by delegates to the national congress,” Mr. Lee said. “This result is all the more interesting when it is remembered that the RSL is the most representative organisation in Australia. “ In our ranks we have men and women of every creed, every social and economic background, and every political persuasion. “ They are united not only by their experiences but by their determination to ensure that Australia’s best interests are served in those matters affecting her security and future progress.”
I ask for leave to make a statement.
– Leave is granted.
– I thank you for your ruling, Mr. Acting Speaker, and I thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) for granting permission for me to make a statement. I wish to make an important point in respect of the matters raised by the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) at question time and again in the reports he has just read from the “ Sydney Morning Herald “.
– At your request-
– Will you keep quiet?
– Order! The honorable member for Yarra has been given leave to make a statement. I suggest that he be heard. I call the honorable member for Yarra.
– In his question the honorable member for La Trobe said that I had attacked the Returned Services League. He has just now quoted from a newspaper report to the effect that I had criticised or attacked not the R.S.L., but some of its members. The newspaper report of my remarks was accurate, and it is clear from those remarks that what I did was criticise or attack some of the leaders of the R.S.L., not the R.S.L. itself. There is a significant difference. In the main, the members of the R.S.L. are ordinary Australians like the rest of us and I would say that perhaps the majority of them - or at feast 50 per cent. - strongly support me in my own electorate and the Party I represent. I have not sought to criticise or attack the R.S.L. as a whole but I have criticised the leaders of the R.S.L. for the attitude they have adopted on a number of public questions, and I propose to continue to do that if I consider they are wrong.
– The honorable member attacked Sir William Yeo.
– Yes, I have done that by criticism. The honorable member’s quote of my speech was an accurate quote but I ask the honorable member for La Trobe and his friends who sit near him to be a little more accurate. They make allegations in this House without any attempt having been made to verify those allegations. The honorable member for La Trobe rose to his feet very hurriedly today and said that I had attacked the R.S.L. He had apparently some evidence of this which does not support that statement. He has not even begun to prove what he said at question time. If he had said that I had criticised and attacked the leaders of the R.S.L. I would have no objection, but what he said was that I attacked the R.S.L. as a menace to Australia.
– The honorable gentleman is splitting straws.
– I am not splitting straws. If I attack the Government of this country it does not mean that I am attacking Australia. If I attack the leaders of the R.S.L. it does not mean that I am attacking the R.S.L. There is a very important distinction. If the Prime Minister wants to follow the standard of the honorable member for La Trobe and say that this is splitting straws, I think he should reconsider his position. If that is the degree of accuracy he brings to bear upon matters in this Parliament, I think the Prime Minister himself becomes subject to criticism. The honorable member for La Trobe went on to say-
– The honorable gentleman adopts a curious thesis. Leadership of an organisation is representative of the organisation, otherwise it would not be the leadership.
– If one desires at this point to discuss the internal organisation of the R.S.L. and the method by which it arrives at its decisions, perhaps we might be able to do that with benefit to the House and everyone else. I am merely asking that honorable members on the other side of the House be a little more accurate in the accusations they are prepared to make against honorable members on this side of the House. Having made the accusations in the manner in which they do, those accusations very often are offensive. When such remarks are offensive it is not necessary for an honorable member on this side of the House to ask that action be taken. Standing Order No. 79, Mr. Acting Speaker, indicates that when any offensive remark is made Mr. Speaker himself should intervene.
I think it is time we tried to achieve a little higher standard of accuracy in the accusations that are made by honorable members on the other side of the House and this is a responsibility of the Chair. If this were done the business and conduct of the House would proceed much more smoothly and there would not be the disorderly scenes which have been tending to characterise this place in recent times.
– Organised disorder.
– On the contrary, much of what has happened has been originated and provoked by improper and inaccurate accusations of the kind which have just been made by the honorable member for La Trobe.
– I rise to order, Mr. Acting Speaker. The honorable member for Yarra said that the newspaper reports were correct. Therefore the following extract indicates his attitude -
The R.S.L. and other reactionary sections of the Australian community posed the real threat to Australia’s freedom, he said.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Mr. Acting Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation because I claim to have been misrepresented. During question time the honorable member for La Trobe - I use the definition as a courtesy title only - chose to use my name in his question. The Opposition gave him the opportunity to place before the House the facts of the case as they apply to myself, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Yarra. He has produced nothing whatever to support his contention that I was associated in any way with the statements that he read. I do not want to debate them-
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Acting Speaker. Is it proper, within the normal procedures of this House, for an honorable member to refer to another honorable member in the terms just used by the honorable member for Wills, namely, that he gave the honorable member for La Trobe the title of honorable member only as a courtesy title? .1 take this as a personal reflection and something which is dangerous to the whole spirit and standing of the Parliament.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– I am grateful for his reverence’s guidance. If we are seeking to produce this spirit which is so commendable, I will be aH for it but 1 suggest that the House demand that the honorable member for La Trobe prove his statement or withdraw it. If he does not, the House should take action against him.
– by leave - The Government has decided that legislative provision should be made to enable national servicemen to be discharged to contest Federal elections. I welcome this opportunity to foreshadow the provisions in view of the difficulties of having the legislation ready for presentation before the House resumes its sittings on 1 1 th October.
– Does that mean that any member of the Forces can resign to contest an electorate?
– Let me continue. Existing legislation enables members of the permanent forces to be discharged for the purpose of contesting elections. The new legislation will put bona fide candidates among national servicemen in the same position. The Military Board will need to be satisfied that the application of a national serviceman for discharge to contest elections is bona fide and will retain its responsibility to approve that discharge. The Board will also determine the place of discharge. It is envisaged that this would normally be the place of enlistment. This policy will also apply to national servicemen serving overseas.
Provision will be made in the legislation for unsuccessful candidates to be liable for re-enlistment and completion of their period of national service. The time occupied during elections will not be counted as effective service. Applications for discharge can now be submitted through commanding officers. The Government welcomes the undertaking given by the Leader of the Opposition that the legislation will have speedy passage through the House.
– I wish to advise honorable members that in view of the number of bills already on the notice paper awaiting debate by the House and also the amount of essential legislation which requires completion before the House rises, we expect at this stage that it will be necessary for the House to meet on Fridays later in these sittings. We therefore intend to programme for Friday sittings on 14’.h October. 21st October and 28th October in order to complete the essential legislative programme ahead of us. I take this opportunity to give honorable members this early prior notice of these prospective Friday sittings so that they can plan ahead to avoid any unnecessary disruption in their future commitments.
– by leave - 1 move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1930-1965. it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to this
House - The erection of a new main laboratory and ancillary buildings for the Chemical Engineering Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation at Clayton, Victoria.
The proposal involves the construction of a two-storey main laboratory and four singlestorey brick buildings to accommodate a light technical laboratory, heavy technical laboratory, process bay, workshop and stores. The estimated cost is $1,400,000. The Committee has reported favorably on the proposal and, on the concurrence of this House with this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr. Hulme, and read a first time.
.- I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Broadcasting and Television Act so that concessional broadcast listener’s and television viewer’s licences may be granted to certain persons in receipt of an allowance under section 9 of the Tuberculosis Act. The Bill also takes the opportunity to delineate more clearly the conditions under which concessional licences may be granted to pensioners generally and, in addition, formally converts all money references to their decimal equivalents.
Allowances under the Tuberculosis Act are available to persons suffering from infectious tuberculosis as an inducement to them to cease work and undergo treatment, thereby minimising the spread of the disease and promoting its better treatment. In some cases, these allowances are the same as pensions under the Social Services Act and the Repatriation Acts, but in most cases they are higher. In the case of Social Services Act pensioners, should they contract tuberculosis and accept an allowance under the Tuberculosis Act, they must, by specific provision in the Social Services Act, forego their normal pension. In doing so they also forego concessions available to Social Services Act pensioners. While there is no compulsion on a pensioner to forego his pension and accept a tuberculosis allowance, it is most desirable that he should, both for the sake of his own treatment and for the control of the disease.
The Bill seeks to provide that any person in receipt of a tuberculosis allowance who, but for that allowance, would be eligible for a pension under the Social Services Act, should be eligible for concessional broadcast listener’s and television viewer’s licences. Such action is made possible by including this class of person in the definition of “ pensioner “ in sub-section (4) of section 128. The Bill also contemplates the amendment of sub-section (3) of section 128 with a view to specifying more clearly the conditions under which a pensioner may be granted a concessional licence. This action involves no change in principle but has become necessary in the light of changes introduced in social services legislation since the original provision was made. I commend the Bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Snedden, and read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill will make certain minor amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The purpose of the Bill is to increase to seven the number of judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. The Court at present consists of a chief judge and four other judges. Judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court also hold appointments as additional judges of the Supreme Courts of the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory, Norfolk Island, Cocos (Keeling) Island and Christmas Island. The volume of judicial work of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory in particular has grown to such an extent that an additional judge is required to discharge it. A judge of this Court was appointed recently, but it would be more convenient and make for greater flexibility to follow the practice that has become established of having judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court discharge the judicial work of this Court.
The Chief Judge has also undertaken additional duties and has, since 1961, been appointed under the Navigation Act to conduct marine inquiries. He was the royal commissioner who inquired into the collision between H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “ and H.M.A.S. “Voyager”. He has also conducted inquiries under the Air Navigation Regulations into accidents involving aircraft. The general jurisdiction of the Industrial Court must be exercised by not Jess than two judges and in practice the court is usually convened with three judges sitting, it being thought desirable so to do. lt is necessary to have available a sufficient number of judges to enable the court to be convened at any time it might become necessary, lt is in these circumstances that the need for one additional judge arises. The second additional appointment to the Commonwealth Industrial Court will become necessary when the Trade Practices Tribunal, which was established under the Trade Practices Act, begins to function. Mr. Justice Eggleston of the Commonwealth Industrial Court has been appointed President of the Trade Practices Tribunal. He will remain a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, but I expect that his duties as President of the Tribunal will eventually engage the whole of his attention, lt will consequently be necessary to enable another judge to be appointed to the Commonwealth Industrial Court to replace him.
The remaining provisions of the Bill are related to the Trade Practices Act. In addition to the appointment of a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court as President of the Trade Practices Tribunal, other members of the court and presidential members of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission may be appointed as presidential members of the Tribunal. The Bill provides that, in such a case, service as President or Deputy President of the Trade Practices Tribunal will not constitute an interruption of the service of such President or Deputy President as a judge of the
Commonwealth Industrial Court or as a presidential member of the Commission, as the case may be. This is necessary to ensure that the pension rights of the holders of those offices will be preserved.
The Bill finally disqualifies a member of the Trade Practices Tribunal who is a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court from sitting as a member of that Court on any matter arising under the Trade Practices Act. This provision is made necessary to avoid the possibility of a constitutional objection arising that the Trade Practices Tribunal, which is a nonjudicial body, could become involved in the exercise of judicial power in relation to its own orders.
I commend the Bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Snedden, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable members will, I think, be aware of remarks I have made from time to time in this House regarding the discussions that have taken place in the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General on the subject of uniform maintenance laws in Australia. A model maintenance bill has been drafted, and the States and Territories are in the process of introducing legislation based on the model bill.
The model bill included provisions for attachment of earnings as a means of enforcement of maintenance orders. These provisions follow, with some comparatively minor alterations, the scheme for attachment of earnings in the Third Schedule to the Matrimonial Causes Act 1959-1965. I shall explain briefly the nature and effect of an attachment of earnings order.
Maintenance orders are generally made against husbands or ex-husbands for the support of wives or ex-wives, as the case may he. and children, although it is now possible for a husband or ex-husband in certain circumstances to obtain a maintenance order against his wife or ex-wife. When the court makes a maintenance order, it endeavours to make an order that is reasonable in the circumstances, having regard in particular to the financial means of the parties. If the husband fails to comply wilh the maintenance order, the wife may take proceedings for its enforcement and the usual method pf enforcement is proceedings for committal to gaol. The attachment of earnings procedure is a suitable method of enforcement where the husband is in regular employment. An attachment of earnings order made by a court is directed to the employer of the person who is liable to make payments under the maintenance order. The order sets out an amount which the employer must deduct from his employee’s earnings on each pay day, and pay for the benefit of the person entitled to receive payment of maintenance. The attachment of earnings order also specifies what are called “protected earnings “, this being an amount of earnings below which the actual pay received by the employee personally shall not be allowed to fall as the result of the operation of an attachment of earnings order. An attachment of earnings order continues to operate so long as the employee remains with the same employer, or until the attachment of earnings order is discharged or ceases to operate for one reason or another.
The State legislation binds the Crown in right of the State as employer as well as private employers in the State, but it cannot give a State court power to make an attachment of earnings order against the Commonwealth as employer. With so many Commonwealth employees residing in the various States, this meant a serious gap in the legislative scheme. The purpose of this Bill is to close this gap.
The scheme of the Bill before the House is very simple. It consists in the main merely of a declaration that provisions in a State or Territory law relating to attachment of earnings shall apply in respect of the Commonwealth as an employer, as if the reference to an employer in the State or Territory law includes a reference to the Com monwealth. The Bill also extends to cover Commonwealth authorities, such as the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
To give an example of how the proposed legislation will operate, let us suppose a wife residing in Perth has a maintenance order against her husband v/ho v. employed by a Commonwealth Department in Brisbane. The wife may apply to a court in Perth for an attachment of earnings order as a means of enforcing her maintenance order. The court in Perth may make an attachment of earnings order directed to the Commonwealth department in Brisbane, which pays the husband. The department will thereupon deduct the stipulated amount from the husband’s salary and send it to Perth for the benefit of the wife.
There is a consequential provision dealing with priorities in those cases where the Commonwealth may have directed to it two or more attachment of earnings orders in respect of the same employee. This may happen, for instance, where he has divorced his first wife and is separated from his second wife. Briefly, the effect of the provision is that the attachment of earnings order coming into force first in point of time shall have priority over an order coming into force later in time. This is to be the case whether the attachment of earnings order is made under the Third Schedule to the Commonwealth Matrimonial Causes Act 1959-1965, or under a State Maintenance Act as complemented by this Bill. I would say to the House that this is in accordance with a provision that was agreed to by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General when that Committee was considering uniform maintenance legislation.
Finally, as this Bill adopts the State law in the form that it is in at the present time, it is necessary for the Commonwealth to retain control of the position should the Stale law change at some future time. Provision is made for the making of regulations, if necessary, to exclude or modify the operation of the State law as applied to Commonwealth employees.
I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Snedden, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The main amendments effected by this Bill are to the Third Schedule of the Matrimonial Causes Act, which deals with attachment of earnings as a means of enforcement of maintenance orders made in proceedings under the Act.
In my second reading speech on the Maintenance Orders (Commonwealth Officers) Bill, I have explained the nature and effect of attachment of earnings orders, and I have referred to the fact that, in the course of including the provisions in the model Maintenance Bill, some minor, but desirable, alterations were made. It is felt that these improvements should be incorporated in the Third Schedule to the Matrimonial Causes Act. The amendments are quite numerous, and it was found desirable to re-make the whole of the Third Schedule rather than amend it. A desirable result will be that all attachment of earnings legislation relating to maintenance enforcement will be fairly urii,orm. A paper setting out the principal amendments to the present Schedule is being circulated Of these I mention one or two of the more important amendments.
The earnings that may be attached have been altered slightly. Workmen’s compensation payments were originally excluded, but are now to be liable to attachment. Certain servicemen’s pensions, not previously excluded from attachment, are excluded by this Bill. At present, life insurance premiums are among items deducted from gross earnings in calculating net earnings for the purposes of attachment. Under the Bill, only life insurance premiums payable under a superannuation or retirement benefit scheme will be taken into account. Payments made to medical and hospital benefit schemes mav also be taken into account when calculating net earnings. The pay of servicemen is not salary or wages, and is therefore not covered in the definition of “ earnings “, but the opportunity has been taken to write this into the Schedule. The Services have their own schemes for making deductions from pay to meet maintenance orders.
A new provision has been inserted dealing with priorities where an employer may have two or more orders directed to him in respect of the one employee. This provision takes into account the possibility of one or more of these orders being made under State law, and sets out how priorities are to be determined. The Bill has been drafted to dovetail in this respect with the Maintenance Orders (Commonwealth Officers) Bill 1966.
I commend the Bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 28th September (vide page 1351), on motion by Mr. Swartz -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Acting Speaker, might I suggest to the Minister in charge of this measure, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz), who represents, in this chamber, the Minister for Repatriation, that this Bill the Repatriation Bill 1966 [No. 2] be considered in conjunction with Repatriation Bill 1966. I see that the Minister for Civil Aviation is not present at the moment. However, there is a Minister present who appears to be in charge of the measure, so I will proceed. There are two orders on the notice paper concerning repatriation bills. Order No. 2 refers to Repatriation Bill 1966 [No. 2]- The Bill now before us - and Order No. 24 relates to the Repatriation Bill 1966. I suggest to the Minister for Civil Aviation, who is now present, that it would facilitate business if he would agree to having these two Bills considered together.
– There is only one Bill before the House at the moment and that is Repatriation Bill 1966 [No. 2].
– The suggestion is not agreed to.
– The Minister for Civil Aviation delivered a second reading speech on the Repatriation Bill 1966 - which is
No. 24 on the notice paper - on Tuesday last. I may have to move that this Bill and the Repatriation Bill 1966 be considered together.
– I point out to the honorable member for Lalor that these are the same circumstances on which I ruled yesterday that a private member cannot take out of the hands of the Government the business of the House; therefore, to that degree the motion is not in order.
– Much as I deplore the necessity of doing so, I will have to move that your ruling be dissented from because I think it is essentia] that these two Bills be considered together. I move -
That the ruling be dissented from.
– Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion.
– The question is -
That the ruling be dissented from.
.- Mr. Acting Speaker, the Opposition has no other recourse but to dissent from your ruling because we asked the Minister in charge of the Bill, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) whether he would be prepared to allow discussion on this Bill, the Repatriation Bill 1966 [No. 2] - which is No. 2 on the notice paper - in conjunction with the Repatriation Bill 1966, which is No. 24 on the notice paper. The Repatriation Bill 1.966 was received in this House from the Senate last Tuesday at 3.40 p.m. At that stage arrangements had been made with the Government to continue the debate on the Repatriation Bill 1966 immediately the Government was prepared to go on with it. The House then went on to debate the Social Services Bill 1966. That debate finished at 9 o’clock that night. The Opposition was prepared to debate the Repatriation Bill 1966 which had been received from the Senate. In that Bill was a particular amendment moved in the Senate by the Labour Opposition there, giving certain benefits to ex-servicemen of the Boer
War and the 1914-18 War. For reasons certainly not given to this House the Minister and his advisers decided to bring down a completely new Repatriation Bill - the Bill now before us - the Repatriation Bill 1966 [No. 2]- superseding the Bill discussed in the Senate, passed by the Senate and handed over to this House. The only reason that the Government can have for taking this unprecedented action is that it does not want the Opposition to debate the original-
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority .. ..18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- For a great number of years now it has been my privilege to lead for the Opposition in debating repatriation measures. I have always held the view that, as far as is practicable, members of this Parliament should endeavour to discuss the repatriation proposals dispassionately and in a non-party manner. However, from time to time allegations are made, debates become heated and we frequently end up with a fairly bitter wrangle. I hope that will not happen today.
The title of the measure we are discussing is: “A Bill for an Act Relating to Repatriation Benefits for Members of the Defence Force”. This measure was introduced in the Senate. For the benefit of those outside who do not know the procedure, let me explain that it was introduced in the Senate because the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) is a member of that House. Consequently, the Government saw fit to introduce the original measure in the Senate. Normally, members of an opposition look on an upper house as a slaughter house. Indeed, the upper House in the Victorian Parliament was generally known as the abattoir. Terms such as these are applied to upper houses because frequently those places seriously mangle, distort or reject measures sent to them. This has happened so much that the people have become sick of upper houses. In the main, the Australian Labour Party strongly advocates their abolition.
However, there was a change of heart in the Senate over the repatriation measure that was introduced there on 15th September. Members of the Labour Party proposed a series of amendments. Senators were so impressed with the justification given for the amendments proposed that on two occasions voting was even. Therefore, by virtue of the Senate Standing Orders, there being no majority, the situation remained as it was before the question voted on was put. In another instance, a majority of senators supported an amendment that was proposed. This dealt with what is considered by branches and sub-branches of the
Returned Services League throughout Australia to be one of the most essential features of repatriation benefits - provision of medical and hospital treatment in repatriation hospitals for men who served in the Boer War or World War I, regardless of whether the condition requiring treatment is due to war causes. The Senate showed good sense and by a majority of one - a narrow majority, it is true - accepted the amendment.
– For the second year in succession, it accepted an amendment in these terms.
– For the second year in succession this has happened. Every member of the Parliament knows that the Federal body and the State branches of the Returned Services League have from time to time communicated with members of the Parliament and Ministers of the Government indicating that the League considers that this proposal ought to have very high priority. The Senate was impressed by the arguments advanced, and accepted the proposition by a majority of one. The matter then came to th is House. What I believe is an almost unprecedented situation has arisen. When the measure that was amended by the Senate came to this House, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz), who represents in this place the Minister for Repatriation, in his second reading speech made on Tuesday of this week said that the Government was not prepared to accept the amendment. He was fully conscious of the fact that the vote of every member of the Senate - I believe that we are really supposed to refer to it as “ the other place “ - voting on every amendment proposed during the consideration of the original measure was on record and that any member of the public or of any returned servicemen’s organisation, by looking at “ Hansard “, could see exactly how any senator had voted.
When the Minister for Civil Aviation had stated in this House that the Government would reject the Senate’s amendment, the second reading debate in this place was adjourned. Then, lo and behold, we were presented yesterday with a new measure on to which is tacked an appropriation clause. Those who are familiar with parliamentary procedure know that no member of the Parliament, whether a Government supporter or an Opposition member, has any prospect of having accepted an amendment that would increase the appropriation for the purposes of a measure. Indeed, such an amendment may not be proposed. The Government has adopted a devious and highly questionable procedure which, though undoubtedly legal, appears to bc a rather dirty tactical move, lt has don: this to shelter those numerous members in its ranks who, it boasts from time to time are members of the Returned Services League. This course has been adopted so that they will not be put in the rather difficult position of having to record a vote which would reject the amendment made in the Senate and which would be distasteful to the League, to returned servicemen themselves and to a large number of Australians. Because this action has been taken, returned servicemen in the Government’s ranks will not have to be counted as were senators, who, give them their due, were willing and honest enough to be counted in the vote on this issue. That is the situation with which we are confronted today.
I recently received from the Returned Services League by letter a copy of an appeal, which has been sent to every member of the Parliament, to support the proposal that was embodied in the amendment made in the Senate so as to ensure that hospital and medical treatment would be provided in repatriation institutions for men who served in the Boer War or World War I. I recognise that the Minister for Repatriation is a pleasant and capable man. Unfortunately, in the Senate, he lined himself up with that element in the community which always resents any alleviation of the trials and tribulations of mankind and which, throughout the ages, has been noted for its opposition to reform. The Minister, speaking in the Senate on 22nd September, referred to Senator Mattner, who had discussed medical benefits, and said -
I think he said it was the duty of all thora people who are outside medical and hospital benefit schemes to join them. 1 go along wilh that opinion. I think that is so. Let us not forget the position we are faced with today. I have said this before. We are becoming a spoon fed nation. We want help from the time we are born until the time we die, and even until we are buried. This is not the spirit that made Australia. I suppose it is only natural that we all like to get assistance and that we look for it if it is not there.
Those words indicate a state of mind. They indicate an attitude that whenever any advance in social progress is made we are deteriorating or degenerating and becoming spoon led. I am reminded of a famous occasion when the late Sir William Angliss, one of the great meat barons of Australia, gave evidence before a tribunal that was considering wages in the meat industry and said: “ If a 48 hour week is introduced, I shall have to shut my works “. Those who believe in reform believe that the members of the human race should have more time free from the performance of their various tasks in industry and more time available to spend with their families and in doing those things which the individual likes to do and for which he has a natural bent. Time went on. The 48 hours week became a reality and, notwithstanding, Sir William Angliss became at least a millionaire and probably a multi-millionaire. Similar fears to those expressed by Sir William Angliss have been voiced in the parliaments of this country regarding proposals to alleviate most of the burdens under which the human race suffers. This indicates a conservative reactionary state of mind. This is the real reason why, just prior to an election, Government supporters do not want to be placed in the embarrassing position of having to vote against a provision which would provide hospital and medical treatment for veterans of the Boer War and the First World War. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) even apologised in his opening remarks when introducing the Bill, saying -
As honorable members know, this year the Government has again provided for greatly enlarged expenditure in the defence area and has had to meet other substantial commitments over the very wide range of Commonwealth activity.
He then outlined the benefits to be provided in the Bill and apologised for the Government’s failure to provide more benefits. If the Government reduced its expenditure on the wicked Vietnam adventure it might be able to do more for returned soldiers who have already fought for their country in the Boer War and World War I.
Let us examine the parsimonious increases handed out by the Government in this measure. The special, or totally and permanently incapacitated rate will be increased by a miserly $2 a week from $28.50 to $30.50. The new rate will be £15 5s. a week but the basic wage is £16 8s. To give to the T.P.I, pensioner only £15 5s. a week when the basic wage is £16 8s. a week is miserliness personified.
– What about other allowances?
– I will refer to them. I never attempt to hide anything, not even from the eagle eye of the honorable member for Maribyrnong. A T.P.I, pensioner will receive an allowance of $4.05 a week for his wife and an allowance of $1.38 for each child. But what have these allowances to do with the pensioner himself? There is no differentiation between the rates paid to a single man and a married man.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong does not take his child endowment into account in calculating his income.
– Of course he does not include his child endowment as income. The allowances are something paid for the wife. If she did not have to care for her T.P.I, pensioner husband she would probably, because of economic necessity or perhaps personal desire, go out into industry, as is the general custom today, and earn in her own right £15 or £20 a week. But having a T.P.I, pensioner husband she has to remain at home to provide assistance for him. I know that there will be considerable argument in the House, involving great analytical exercises, by members of all parties, demonstrating that over many years the pension rates have been, perhaps, ls. over the basic wage, 5s. above, or 5s. below, the basic wage; or have represented 103 per cent., 98 per cent., or 101 per cent, of the basic wage. I do not propose to embark on such exercises.
I am not dodging the fact that in some cases honorable members opposite may be able to say that the rate was not as high under Labour as it has been at times under this Government. Such arguments do not get us anywhere. What is important is what we can do in this affluent society for the ex-serviceman, his wife and dependants. Last night a Minister stated that Australia was one of the most prosperous countries. The time has long since passed when these pension rates should be tied to the basic wage. It is a waste of time to claim that one government has been more generous than another. The only thing that is of importance is to consider what the pensioner might have been if he had not been rendered totally and permanently incapacitated. He might have been a member of this Parliament, like the honorable member for Maribyrnong, receiving what is considered by many taxpayers to be a handsome emolument. But because of his injuries this avenue of activity is closed to him. He might have been a qualified architect or a brilliant engineer, receiving a substantial salary, but perhaps not too high in the eyes of those who now receive it. Instead these people have been wrecked physically for life. The Government hands them $30.50 a week and $4 a week as a wife’s allowance. Why, $4 a week would be hardly enough to pay for a daily tram ride from an outer suburb to the city of Melbourne. In addition the pensioner receives $1.38 for his children. These are miserable amounts.
I wish to associate myself with other criticisms that have been levelled at this Government’s attitude towards repatriation pensioners. I am not trying to be party political, but the Labour Government recognised the problem in the middle of a war. In 1943 the Labour Government recognised that the Repatriation Act was outmoded. We appointed an all party committee to inquire into the Act in the light of circumstances that had arisen since it was first introduced. As a result of the findings of that Committee, pension payments were increased by 23 per cent. That was a big increase. I bear in mind the marvellous tribute paid last night by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) to the state of wealth and affluence achieved by this country under Liberal-Country Party Governments. But if the position is all that good - it is good over all - the Government should pay something more than it is paying now to repatriation pensioners.
I have dealt with some phases of this matter. Other phases would be more competently dealt with in the Committee stage. It is ridiculous to suggest that the country cannot afford to provide hospital and medical treatment for the veterans of the Boer War and the First World War. Wc are a dying race, of course, but it is said that there are still about 107,000 World War I veterans on deck. A great many of them must have made good provision for hospital and medical treatment. Many have insured themselves against hospital and medical expenses. I do not think that more than 25 per cent, of World War I veterans would seek free medical and hospital attention. I know ex-servicemen who have paid into friendly societies for more than 50 years and have subsequently transferred their contributions to medical and hospital benefits societies. They are well covered for their medical and hospital needs and would not seek to exercise their right to hospitalisation under the Repatriation Act. The whole matter is exaggerated. Members of every Party in the Senate supported the benefit, and it is regrettable that this large number of ex-servicemen on the Government side of the Parliament will probably avoid having their names recorded as ex-servicemen who voted against granting this small benefit to these people.
– It is a mean manoeuvre.
– It is a very mean, manoeuvre.
– Do you agree with the other benefits in the Bill?
– I agree with everything that is better than the previous provision. But I emphatically say that this is not enough, and I hope I have made that quite clear. If the Minister had thought it was enough he would not have engaged in this adroit manoeuvre to shelter the people who sit behind him from the need to cast their votes against this additional benefit. I move -
That all words after “ That “ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ whilst not opposing the benefit provisions of the Bill, the House regrets that the measure does not provide for -
the automatic acceptance of cancer as a war caused disability;
the granting of free medical and hospital treatment for the wives of special rate pensioners; and
the provision of free medical and hospital treatment for all returned servicemen of the 1914-18 War and the Boer War”.
I could say much more, but I will keep my further comments until the Committee stage
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak later.
.- I listened to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) with a great deal of interest. I was especially fascinated by his lyrical praise of another place. My fascination heightened when I recalled that he, as a member of the Australian Labour Party, is pledged to the abolition of the other place. I was intrigued by his generous reference to the Returned Services League. In particular was I struck when I reflected that not all members of his Party join with him in taking that view of the League.
The honorable gentleman has taken it upon himself today to describe, 1 think in rather extravagant language, the attitude of honorable members who sit on the Government side of the House. But I thought the honorable gentleman was completely astray when he not merely suggested but charged that Government supporters wanted to hide something - to hide the way in which they voted, to hide their sentiments and to disguise their convictions. I want to say one thing to the honorable gentleman and I hope he will understand it. For my part, and I am certain I speak for all my colleagues, when it comes to a consideration of repatriation benefits and the Government’s attitude towards them, we have nothing to hide at all. 1 want to put to the honorable gentlemen and to all those who may take part in the debate that what is at issue at this time is not the merits of the amendment that came into the Bill in another place. That, I suggest, is not the substance of the debate.
– It was carried in the Senate.
– If the honorable gentleman will try to restrain himself and listen to an argument, he may be able to understand the point I am coming to. The merits of the amendment are not at stake at all. There would not be one person on this side of the House who would not be prepared to give answer and to support all the invitations extended to the Government to amend the Repatriation Act to make it the very ecstasy of perfection. But that is not the question at all. The question involved in this debate, I suggest is the whole approach to the authority of the Parliament and to the authority of the Government.
– Oh no.
– The honorable member says: “ Oh no “. This, of course, is his attitude. The honorable member for Wills, as a member of the Australian Labour Party, does not believe in the Parliament; he is all for the supreme economic council. This is the policy of Labour, but the honorable member for Lalor, speaking this morning from his vast experience - I acknowledge that, at least - admitted that no private member of the Parliament can amend any money bill - that is, any appropriation bill. The honorable gentleman will agree with that.
– We had a bill that was not a money bill.
– The honorable gentleman had his say and I am treating him. at the present at any rate, with manifest courtesy. Whether I continue to do so will depend upon how matters shape. The honorable gentleman put to the House this morning that no private member of the Parliament can amend a money bill. This, of course, is long established in parliamentary traditions. It is expressed in the most explicit of language in Standing Order No. 292, which spells out that no appropriation of any public moneys can be amended. What I put to the Opposition is that what happened in another place was a complete failure to characterise the measure that was introduced as an appropriation bill in fact. This is the argument I put to honorable gentlemen opposite. The Bill that was introduced originally in the Senate sought to amend the Repatriation Act in certain particulars. Standing in that form, it represented part of the total Budget provision. Does any honorable gentleman opposite argue the point that the Bill introduced by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) in another place was part of the total Budget provision? There is no argument about that at all.
What is to be the proposition? Do honorable gentlemen seriously say that any private member, from caprice, in the suddenness of the moment, or out of a particular interest or a particular conviction should be at liberty to disturb the entire Budget? This to me, with very great respect, is complete nonsense and completely misunderstands and misconceives the entire function of the Parliament. What would be the position if, when a bill to amend the social services legislation in respect of child endowment or pensions was being debated, a private member were at liberty to say: “ I believe the pension should be increased by another$5 or $10 a week.”? If the amendment were carried, the Government would have to find the money.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was putting the view that what is involved in this debate is not the merits of whether the particular benefits sought by an amendment put into a Bill in another place should be accepted. [Quorum formed.] The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who led for the Opposition in this debate, admitted that it was not open to any private member of the Parliament, on either side, to move to amend any money measure. The honorable gentleman cannot have it both ways. Does he retract that proposition, or does he not? That was the argument he put to the House this morning. For once in his life he is in good company because this, of course, is the sound traditional parliamentary view. This is the view as spelt out by “ Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice “. I will cite if I may, with the indulgence of the House, the following short view expressed by May -
The guiding principle in determining the effect of an amendment upon the financial initiative of the Crown is that the communication, to which the royal demand or recommendation is attached, must be treated as laying down once for all not only the amount of a charge, but also its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications. In relation to the standard thereby fixed, an amendment infringes the financial initiative of the Crown, not only if it increases the amount, but also if it extends the objects and purposes, or relaxes the conditions and qualifications expressed in the communication by which the Crown has demanded or recommended a charge.
This was the view which was completely endorsed by a House of Commons Select Committee which, in reporting on the procedure relating to money resolutions, stated -
The sole right of the Crown to initiate expenditure has been described as one of the sheet anchors of good government, and though your Committee are in any event precluded from interfering with this principle they are of an opinion that its wisdom is generally recognised.
There we have the report of a House of Commons Select Committee and the opinions of Sir Erskine May and of the honorable member for Lalor. This is the triumvirate; all in agreement that no money measure can be amended on motion by a private member. Let us consider the amendment that was carried in another place. What was the effect of the amendment? Is any honorable member opposite going to argue that the effect of that amendment was to reduce an appropriation? The mere fact that the amendment was carried, calls upon the Government, if not explicitly certainly by implication, to increase an appropriation.
The honorable member for Lalor cannot have it both ways. If he stands on the principle that no money measure can be so amended he is not at liberty to turn round and, for the sake of sheer political convenience, say: “Oh, well, this amendment is a good idea; it will certainly help to boost our dwindling electoral stocks”. I put it to honorable gentlemen opposite that far from any devious means being used by the Government, on this occasion it is the Labour Party that is resorting to a shabby, miserable manoeuvre in the hope of winning some electoral support. I say to the honorable member that he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself for having adopted this attitude this morning.
– I think he is.
-I should not be surprised if the honorable member is right. I have not the perception of the honorable member, but I think the honorable member for Lalor is blushing.
– Does the honorable member for Moreton agree with the amendment?
– It is not a case of the merits or demerits of the amendment. If that were the case I would i.invite the honorable member to consider that it may well be that there are other measures demanding a higher priority than this one. This is my view. I put it to the honorable member that the Budget is based on a deficit of $277 million and by resorting to this stratagem in another place the Opposition is saying to the Government: “We want that deficit raised to $300 million “.
I turn now to a most extraordinary situation, namely, that concerning the Austraiian Labour Party and the Returned Services League. Really and truly. I could hardly believe my ears when 1 listened to the honorable member for Lalor this morning saying, in effect: “ The R.S.L. says this, therefore we must accept it “. This morning we also heard from the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), who is the George Orwell of Austraiian politics. Did honorable members ever hear such doublespeak, such a display of Marxist semantics, as came from the honorable member for Yarra? T’.is morning the honorable for Lalor said that the R.S.L. is absolutely wonderful. How can he reconcile his remarks with what 1 would describe as an attack on the R.S.L. by the honorable member for Yarra? 1 do not have recourse to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ or to the “ Melbourne Age “, but J do refer the honorable gentleman to the view of the honorable member for Yarra as reported in the Brisbane “ Courier Mail “. The honorable member for Yarra referred to the Communists and said -
Freedom in Australia is not endangered by Communists or their friends - they are not strong enough to endanger anything.
– Hear, hear!
– The Leader of the Opposition agrees with that. I am delighted to get an admission from the honorable gentleman that Communists in Australia do not endanger anything. The honorable member for Yarra continued - and I shall see whether the Leader of the Opposition agrees with him - by saying -
Those who really threaten freedom in Australia are the leaders of the R.S.L.-
Does the Leader of the Opposition agree with that view, which was expressed by his colleague the honorable member for Yarra? No; he is stricken suddenly by a remarkable silence. Does the Leader of the Opposition agree that more than half the Liberal Party and men like Archbishop Gough represent the danger to the people of Australia, which is what the honorable member for Yarra said?
– I rise to order, Mr. Acting Speaker. Can you explain to me what relevance this subject has to the Bill? If it has no relevance, will you tell the honorable member to change over?
– Order! 1 point out to the honorable member for Scullin that it has as much relevance as many of the other points that are made in a second reading debate.
– The proposition I am putting to the House is that the Labour Opposition is using the R.S.L. as un authority for the purposes of bolstering ils own case. If honorable gentlemen opposite want to do that on one count why do they not do it on other counts? One can turn to the 50th Annual Report of the National Executive of the R.S.L. and find support for the proposition that is represented by the amendment put into the Bill in another place. But does this mean that the Labour Party, the Opposition, will now automatically support everything that appears in the 50th annual report of the R.S.L.? If that is the case I invite honorable gentlemen opposite to say so explicitly.
– The Leader of the Opposition reminds me of a bower bird. He wants to pick up every little thing that glitters and put it into his playground but he is not interested in anything else that does not have a meritricious appearance. As long as it glitters, he is after it. The 50th annual report of the R.S.L. has this to say -
The League believes that a policy of appeasement and withdrawal in the face of aggression would have no greater chu ncc of success now than it had at Munich.
Does the Leader of the Opposition-
– What has this to do with the Bill?
– I know that honorable members opposite do not like this. The honorable member for Lalor used the authority of the R.S.L. when it suited him to do so, but when the R.S.L. embarrassed him he did not support it. J put to the House that what is involved in this debate is not the merits of the issue but rather whether any private member of Parliament has a parliamentary right to amend any monetary measure. I have put to the House that the effect of the amendment moved by members in another place amounts to a summons upon the Government to find additional expenditure.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable gentleman agrees that is the case. I am delighted that we can agree on some occasion, if that is the case and it amounts to a summons upon the Government to find additional expenditure, 1 put to the Leader of the Opposition that, upon the authority of the honorable member for Lalor, upon the authority of May and upon the authority of a select committee which reported on money bills in the House of Commons, he cannot possibly do it. The honorable gentleman is merely resorting to this hoping to wring a vote or two somewhere along the line to support him on 26th November. 1 say to the Leader of the Opposition that he will need to find something a little more substantial than this.
By way of conclusion may I direct the attention of the House to the following statement -
At the present time inefficiency persists through every stage in the handling of pension claims even up to appeals to this Tribunal. . . . The Tribunal recommends that a general inquiry into the administration of the Repatriation Act, including an investigation into the matters raised in this report, be conducted by a competent authority having no association with the Repatriation Department.
When was that written? It was written in 1948 by the members of the No. 1 Repatriation Tribunal. Their report represented a staggering indictment of the Labour Government of the day. From 1949 to 1966 there has been a remarkable transformation in the whole of the repatriation services in Australia. No honorable member on the Government side would deny for one moment that there is not both scope and opportunity, and indeed challenge, for further advances to be made, but those advances can and will only be made within the context of a Budget and it is neither competent nor proper for any private member, let alone the Opposition, to resort to a form of parliamentary behaviour which has as its end result the disturbance of the Budget which was presented earlier this year. So I say that the people who are on trial in this debate are not those who make up the Government nor those who support the Government. The people who are on trial in this debate are the Leader of the Opposition and those who follow him, including those who follow him in a very half-hearted fashion.
.- We have listened to a remarkable speech from the constitutional authority from Moreton who spoke for 20 minutes and never once referred to the Bill before us. If the honorable member wants to deal with the matter of constitutional authority in this House, or in another place, let me remind him that earlier this year when the Opposition had to take the opportunity to move an amendment to another Bill which had been introduced in this chamber by the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, it was pointed out that the Government was neglecting to give full cover to servicemen who were being transported from this country, for service overseas, to what was then designated as a special area.
On one occasion the Act was amended in another place following an amendment which had been proposed by Opposition senators and accepted by the Senate. But at that time the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) did not rise in his place and criticise the action of the Senate. Perhaps I should point out that the Government accepted the amendment only after a revolt by its own supporters in another place. What did the honorable member for Moreton have to say about that amendment? Surely it sought to increase the appropriation. After all, if you grant additional cover for servicemen travelling overseas to a special area of service you must inevitably increase the appropriation. But what did the honorable member for Moreton have to say about it? Nothing. Knowing the honorable member as I do, I have no doubt that he actively supported those who rebelled against the Government on that occasion. So it ill behoves him to stand up in this House today and attack members of his own Party in another place who believe that the Bill should be amended to provide certain benefits for those who served this country during the 1914-18 War and the Boer War. What did the honorable member for Moreton say about the principle of. the amendment? Not a thing. Does he disagree with it? If he disagrees with it he should stand in his place and say so. But he did not have the courage to do that. He merely took shelter behind .some constitutional reference that someone else had made concerning the rights of the Senate to amend monetary legislation.
If the honorable member for Moreton disagrees with the Opposition’s attitude on these matters, let me point out to him that an amendment in these terms, as well as various other amendments, has been moved not only this year or last year but consistently both in this chamber and in the other place since 1957. On every occasion the honorable member for Moreton has had the opportunity to state his opinion concerning those amendments but he has never been here to listen to the debate although he has just as consistently come into the chamber to vote against the Opposition’s proposal. So let me put the record straight on this matter. This is not the first occasion that this amendment has been moved in this chamber. It has been moved at the appropriate time for a number of years. The honorable member for Moreton knows this is so.
Wc are now debating the second Repatriation Bill to be introduced into this chamber within one ‘ week. Rarely has a government adopted the tactics that this Government had adopted on this occasion to defeat the purposes of the members of another place. Everyone understands fully why this Bill has been introduced in its present form. It makes two alterations. In the first instance, it removes the clause that was inserted as a result of discussions in another place and the acceptance of the amendment concerning medical treatment for ex-servicemen of the 1 91.4-1 8 War and the Boer War. The Government has taken the opportunity to remove that clause from the Bill which has been presented to us. Secondly, it adds a clause dealing with the appropriation of funds. The Minister knows, as does every honorable member, that as a result of this action it will not be possible for honorable members on this side of the chamber to debate the amendments which have consistently been moved in this place by members of the Opposition. Honorable senators in another place accepted an amendment which had been prepared and which, as I have already indicated, has been moved not only this year but also on other occasions.
We believe that there is some merit in this proposition - not merely because it has been suggested and requested by the Returned Services League of Australia to provide free medical and hospital treatment for those who served this country in the First World War and in the Boer War. As was pointed out by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) earlier in the debate, there are now only about 106,000 servicemen who served in those wars. No doubt more than half of them are already receiving medical benefits of one kind or another. Many of them would be in receipt of either an age pension or a service pension through the Repatriation Department. As a result of previous legislation introduced into the Parliament some servicemen were immediately entitled to full medical and hospital treatment. All that we on this side of the chamber now request is that the Government consider the small percentage of ex-servicemen remaining in this country who are not receiving free medical and hospital treatment.
Every honorable member on the Government side fully understands how difficult it is at a time more than 40 years after the conclusion of the First World War for an ex-serviceman to be able to establish that the disabilities from which he is suffering are due to his war service. It is almost impossible to prove their claim in circumstances which exist today. Consequently we merely suggest that the Government should recognise their disability, whether it is war caused or not, and extend to them he advantages which apply to so many other members of the community by granting free medical and hospital treatment. This is a reasonable proposition which the Opposition has stated in this chamber for a number of years. However, the Government has consistently refused to recognise the merit of this claim and so the Minister adopts tactics of this kind to deny to ex-servicemen the right which has already been approved in another place. If honorable members opposite do not believe that the Senate is a House of Review which has a right to move and to carry amendments, why do they not stand up and say so? On this occasion the amendment was carried. The amendment is acceptable to honorable members on this side of the chamber and I have no doubt that it is acceptable also to some honorable members opposite. Yet they are prepared to accept this kind of attitude from the Minister and those who exercise influence on the Government side.
The Opposition supports the criticism which has been levelled at the Government and, in particular, at the measure which is now before us. This criticism has come not only from the Returned Services League but also from other organisations which have some interest in the affairs of our ex-servicemen. It is true that some increased benefits have been granted, but they are below the standard that the Opposition and, obviously, returned servicemen believe should apply in these circumstances. In the light of previous promises, why has the value of the repatriation benefits been allowed to decline to the extent that it has? Figures submitted to every honorable member by the Returned Services League reveal that some benefits have declined drastically. In the face of all these representations, in my opinion the Government’s attitude is indefensible. Any amendment which has been submitted by an Opposition member has normally been debated in past years in the early hours of the morning. We have always resumed the debate on the Repatriation Bill when the proceedings of this chamber are not being broadcast. So the Opposition has taken the opportunity on this occasion to express its feeling and to point out to the Government that we believe it has not been as generous towards claims by the Returned Services League as it could have been.
Criticism of the legislation which is now before us has not come only from honorable members on this side of the House; a number of reports on this subject have appeared in the daily Press. Indeed, the “Daily Mirror” of 18th August reported that at the annual congress in New South Wales held on that date, Mr. Whitelaw, a member of the Returned Services League in New South Wales, said that the Commonwealth Government with its 1966 Budget had deliberately insulted every Australian serviceman. This is the position. The Government has deliberately ignored the claims of returned servicemen’s organisations. It has been the practice of exservicemen’s organisations in Australia each year to make representations to the Cabinet sub-committee on ex-service matters. We are told that that sub-committee is composed of ex-servicemen. But what has happened to the claims which were submitted by the Federal Executive of the Returned Services League earlier this year? The League submitted its 1966 pension plan to the subcommittee, but it is obvious from the legislation which is now before us that the suggestions were completely ignored. Therefore I believe there is some merit in the proposition advanced by the Federal President of the R.S.L., Sir Arthur Lee, who, in a public statement, criticised the actions of the Government in relation to this matter. He said that the Government had deliberately insulted the Returned Services League.
In 1960 the League submitted a plan which I believe was very reasonable, lt contained three major points. First, the League asked that the special rate pension be not less than the Commonwealth basic wage. For some years now the Opposition has advocated - indeed, it has been part of our policy - that the special rate pension granted to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen should not be less than the basic wage. That was the first point in the League’s submission. Secondly, it requested that the 100 per cent, or general rate pension should not be less than SO per cent, of the Commonwealth basic wage. In addition it suggested that all other pensions and dependants’ rates should be increased proportionately. The League based its claims on a well documented and reasonable case. Surely honorable members opposite should understand that the Returned Services League in Australia has leaned towards the Government Parties. We have never criticised the League’s action in this respect, but over the years the League has consistently given its support to the Government Parties. Nevertheless, we are prepared to accept that the Federal Executive of the League represents the rank and file members of the League. We also speak for the rank and file members of the Returned Services League. Despite the fact that the Federal Executive has leaned towards this Government, has given it support and, in many instances, has endorsed its policies, in 1966 the Government deliberately ignored the League’s 1 966 pension plan.
The Minister made no attempt to explain why the Government has chosen on this occasion, as it did last year, to ignore completely the representatives of returned servicemen. I believe that the Returned Services League presented a well documented case for the increases that it suggested, lt pointed out that in 1920 the Commonwealth basic wage was £3 18s. a week, while the totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner received £4 a week. His pension rate was 103 per cent, of the basic wage. I acknowledge that there are honorable members who do not believe it is correct or advisable to compare pension rates with the basic wage, but if there has been a decline in the value of repatriation pensions - as there undoubtedly has - then the Federal Executive of the R.S.L. has every right, in my opinion, to direct the Government’s attention to that decline. In doing so it has chosen to make comparisons between pension rates and basic wage rates.
J have already pointed out that in 1920 the special rate pension was .103 per cent, of the basic wage. The Commonwealth basic wage is now $32.80 per week while the T.P.I, pension rate will be $30.50 a week after this legislation has been passed. It will still be $2.30 less than the basic wage, lt will represent only 92 per cent, of the basic wage. So the position is that since ] 920 the T.P.I, pension rate, considered as a proportion of the basic wage, has declined by 1 1 per cent. The T.P.I, rate is paid for total incapacity. It is paid to ex-servicemen whose disabilities, having been accepted as due to war service, prevent them from earning more than a negligible wage. We should consider the implications of the special rate pension that is now being paid, lt is less than the basic wage and it is paid to an ex-serviceman who is not in a position to earn more than a very moderate wage. Yet this Government, in its generosity, says that the special rate pension shall remain below the basic wage.
Not all T.P.L ex-servicemen will receive the full S2 a week increase. T.P.I, pensioners whose income is supplemented by the service pension are subject to a ceiling limit applied by this Government, and they can receive no more than the amount of age pension that may be paid to a married couple when both members are of pensionable age. The total pension income of such a couple is $37.50. It was previously $36. If a special rate pensioner also receives the service pension the increase that he will be granted will be only Si. 50 a week and not $2 as was suggested by the Minister.
The general repatriation pension rate now stands at $12 a week. It was $12 last year and it was $12 the year before. There has been no increase in this rate during the last three years. How does the Government justify its failure to increase the general rate? I remind the House that as far back as 1949 spokesmen for the Liberal Party, which was then in Opposition, promised that if the Party was returned to power it would ensure that pension values would be maintained. Having this in mind it might be advisable for me to review the position of the general rate pensioner of today and compare it with the position of such pensioners in 1920. This comparison was also made by the Federal Executive of the Returned Services League in its submission to the Government. It suggested, first of all, that the general rate pension should be not less than 50 per cent, of the basic wage. If the Government accepted that proposition it would have to increase the general rate to $16.40 a week, and I believe there is some justification for doing so. In 1920 the general rate pension represented 54 per cent, of the basic wage, but today it is only 36 per cent, of the basic wage. Its value in comparison to the basic wage has therefor declined to the extent of 18 per cent, since 1920.
The war widow’s pension will be improved by $1 a week. That pension will rise to SI 3 a week. It is true, us the Minister has pointed out on other occasions, that a proportion of war widows - perhaps more than half of them- are receiving a domestic allowance of $7 a week in addition to their base pension. This gives a war widow a combined weekly rate of $20. Surely the Government does not suggest that this is a generous payment. If any other woman in the community lost her husband as a result of an industrial accident she would, under our compensation laws, receive a lump sum payment far in excess of what a war widow can expect to receive from this Government after her husband has lost his life in the service of his country. We believe that the rate for a war widow should be substantially higher than it is. The Government has decided to increase the rate by SI a week, but having regard to all the circumstances this increase is far less than it should be, especially when one takes account of increases that have occurred in costs.
The Government has also decided to grant an increase to service pensioners. Their pensions will increase by the amounts announced in the social services legislation, and any criticisms offered by honorable members on this side of the inadequacy of the increases granted to recipients of social service benefits apply with equal force to the increases in the service pension.
The increases will cost this Government no more than $5,600,000 in 1966-67, or $7,500,000 in a full year. This represents between 4 and 5 per cent, of the combined total expenditure on social services and repatriation. Obviously the Government has lost interest in the welfare of exservicemen. The Opposition believes that the criticism which has been levelled at this legislation by those who represent the exservicemen in Australia is justified. I hope that honorable members on the Government side will stand up and try to justify what is being done under this legislation.
A great deal is said in this Parliament about the number of ex-servicemen on the Government side; but year after year these ex-servicemen have been prepared to come into the Parliament and not only oppose in debate, but actually vote against, amendments moved by the Opposition adoption of which would most certainly improve the situation of ex-servicemen. Those honorable members never justify their action in voting against these measures. They prefer merely to record their vote. I hope that on this occasion there will be honorable members on the Government side, apart from the honorable member for Moreton - who did not refer once to the Bill - who will be prepared to say why they believe that a war widow in Australia should receive a weekly income of SI 3, or no more than $20 a week if she happens to be in receipt of the wife’s allowance. We believe that the Government has been parsimonious in its attitude. These payments ought to be improved. The Federal Executive of the Returned Services League requested the Government to give consideration to the decline in pension values that has taken place in recent years, to which I have already referred. The Government ignored those requests.
There are other matters that the Opposition has always taken the opportunity to raise when repatriation bills are being debated. We have suggested that the Government ought to consider the establishment of a committee of inquiry into repatriation matters. We have made this suggestion by moving amendments to bills. This is one matter that was referred to by the honorable member for Moreton. He talked about a report that was made to this Parliament by the No. 1 War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal as far back as 1948. The Government ought to be reminded - it has been reminded in the past, and 1 will remind it again - that in 1946 the Labour Party, which was then in office, set up a committee of members of the Parliament which made recommendations which were ultimately incorporated in the Repatriation Act. But the present Government has consistently refused to agree to the appointment of a select committee, and no doubt the Minister has led the opposition against this move. What does the Government have to hide in respect of these matters? I am sure that some honorable members on the Government side appreciate that there is a need to revise the Repatriation Act, in view of the fact that 20 years have elapsed since the last review was made.
– The honorable member for Lalor was the chairman of it.
– Yes, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) was the very capable chairman of the committee established to review the Repatriation Act in 1946.
I will conclude my remarks in the way I began - by pointing out that we believe that the Government has perpetrated a very shabby trick in respect of this measure. It has taken the step - the almost unprecedented step - of introducing in this House two bills on repatriation in one week. Everybody clearly understands the reason for the actions of the Government; it is trying to defeat the purpose of the Senate when it carried an amendment to a repatriation bill in another place, and to deny to those who served Australia in the Boer War and the
First World War the right to free medical and hospital treatment. At no stage has the Minister been able to explain adequately to this House why these benefits should not be given. The proposition to grant them is acceptable to the Opposition. The proposition has been advocated by the R.S.L. but the Government ignores the justice of it.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- Once again the Australian Labour Party has attacked the Government’s repatriation benefits proposals. We are told by the Opposition that these benefits have lost their value. If Government supporters refer to the fact that this Government is devoting a far greater proportion of the Budget to repatriation benefits than did Labour, Opposition members object. If we point out that the individual pension rates are very much higher than those paid by Labour, again Opposition members object. They refer to the change in the value of money. I have countered this argument by the Opposition by relating the value of the pensions to the basic wage in order to show that the benefits granted by this Government have more value than those granted by the Labour Party. But spokesmen for the Opposition say that pensioners cannot live on percentages. They say that it is no use relating the pension to the basic wage because few people receive the basic wage today. The Opposition says we ought to make the comparison with average weekly male earnings, yet the Labour Party uses the basic wage for comparison purposes whenever that suits its purpose. 1 am always prepared to oblige and cooperate with members of the Opposition, so I have gone to the trouble of consulting a publication called “Labour Report 1962-63, No. 50”, which is issued by the Commonwealth Statistician, and which is a publication of the Bureau of Census and Statistics. This report is available in the Library. If honorable members opposite are not prepared to accept the figures I am going to quote, then the publication is available to them for reference. I want to emphasise these figures in order to prove to members of the Returned Services League that the record of this Government in the field of repatriation is unsurpassed. If they reflect on the record of this Liberal-Country Party Government they will find it is far better than the record produced by Labour. This conclusion is inevitable no matter what measuring stick or standard we use.
The present Government came into office in December 1949. The basic wage then was the equivalent of $12.90 a week. The average mate weekly earnings at that time were £9.99 a week, according to the Commonwealth Statistician. I am using these figures because I was requested to do so by members of the Opposition. To all intents and purposes that was $20 a week. Today the basic wage is $32.80 and average male weekly earnings are $54.50 a week. In other words, during the period that this Government has been in office the basic wage has risen by 154 per cent, and average male weekly earnings have risen by 172 per cent.
I want to refer now to some of the repatriation benefit rates. The rates paid to totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners by this Liberal-Country Party Government have increased by nearly 188 per cent. The rate of increase for a married T.P.I, pensioner, when one takes into account the pension also paid to his wife, has increased by only 166 per cent. But we must allow for the fact that it was this Government which removed a bar placed on the T.P.I, pensioner and his wife by the Labour Party that prevented them from receiving some proportion of the social service pension, which is subject to a means test. Incidentally, the T.P.I, pension is not subject to a means test. As a result of this move by this Liberal-Country Party Government, today most married T.P.I, pensioners receive, in addition to the T.P.I, pension and wife’s allowance, $3.95 a week in Service pension. This gives them a total of $38.50 a week. This is an increase of 196 per cent. on the rate paid by Labour. I want Honorable members to remember that in this period the basic wage has increased by 154 per cent, and the average weekly male earnings by 172 per cent. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said that when this Government pays a T.P.I, pensioner $30.50 a week while the basic wage is $32.80 a week, this is miserliness personified. What they do not say, or what they do not realise is that when Labour went out of office in 1949 the basic wage was $12.90.
In other words, the difference between what the T.P.I, pensioner was paid and the basic wage was exactly the same - $2.30. _ Since then the basic wage has increased by 154 per cent., but the T.P.I, pensioner is still paid only S2.30 a week less than the basic wage. This is a clear illustration that the Labour Party has two policies - one for when it is in office and another for when it is in opposition. T.P.I, pensions have increased by 188 per cent, for single pensioners and by 196 per cent, for most married T.P.f. pensioners.
I want to look now at the pensions paid to war widows. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) said that war widows’ pensions ought to be considerably greater than they are at present. He referred to what he called the parsimonious attitude of this Government. Let us have a look at the rates and see how they compare. Labour paid the war widow $6 a week and a domestic allowance of 75 cents. This Liberal-Country Party Government pays the war widow not $6 but $13 a week. In addition, it pays her a domestic allowance of not 75 cents but $7 a week. In other words, the war widow now receives almost three times as much as she was paid by the Labour Government - an increase of 196 per cent. And she is paid this in spite of the fact that the basic wage has increased by only 154 per cent, and average male earnings by 172 per cent.
Let me look now at the position of the Service pensioner. Labour paid him $4.75 a week. Today the single Service pensioner receives $13 a week, an increase of 206 per cent, over the rate paid by Labour. We also say to certain Service pensioners: “ We will pay you a rent allowance of up to $2 a week “. The Service pensioner who receives that enjoys an increase of 216 per cent, over what Labour paid him. We also introduced a guardian’s allowance which is paid to certain Service pensioners who have children in their care. For those pensioners the amount paid is $17 a week, which brings the payment to the Service pensioner to an amount 300 per cent, higher than that which was paid by Labour. If the Service pensioner receives the guardian’s allowance and the rent allowance, as many of them do, he is paid $19 a week, which represents an increase of 335 per cent, on Labour’s figure. I emphasise again that in the meantime the basic wage has increased by 154 per cent, and the factor which Labour requests us to use as the measuring standard - average male weekly earnings - has increased by only 172 per cent. I repeat that we have increased some of the rates by as much as 335 per cent. We have also increased the rates paid to the wife of a Service pensioner by 186 per cent, and those paid to the children of a pensioner by 187 per cent.
I want to have a look now at the 100 per cent, rate war pension which is the only field in which Labour can claim to have some sort of partial victory. If we examine the average rate paid to the 100 per cent, war pensioner we find that during the period for which this Government has been in office the rate has increased by only 119 per cent.; but this completely overlooks the fact that this Liberal Country Party Government introduced an intermediate rate pension for the exserviceman who cannot be classed as totally and permanently incapacitated but who can work only part time. Under Labour, this man was paid $8 a week. This LiberalCountry Party Government pays him $21.25, an increase of nearly 166 per cent.
Here I want to remind the members of the Returned Services League of some of the additional benefits which have been provided for ex-servicemen by this LiberalCountry Party Government. I shall mention only some of them - perhaps fewer than half. In the first place, we removed the restrictions which debarred a wife married to, or a child born to an ex-serviceman of the 1914-18 war after 30th June 1938 from receiving a war pension in respect of his incapacity, or a service pension. We also removed the time limits which restricted the eligibility of step children and adopted children of all ex-servicemen. We introduced a widows’ remarriage gratuity. If a war widow remarries she is given a gratuity equal to one year’s payment of the pension she was receiving at the time of remarriage.
We also introduced a system under which gift cars are provided for certain disabled ex-servicemen. Already 202 cars have been provided. Some ex-servicemen have had their second car under this scheme. These cars, fitted with suitably modified driving controls, are provided to ex-servicemen whose disability is either double amputation of the legs above the knees or complete paraplegia. In addition to providing them with cars, we gave them $240 a year for registration, insurance and general running costs. Recently we amended the legislation to provide these ex-servicemen with cars with automatic transmission if they wish them. Such servicemen can also have fitted two safety belts conforming to the specification of the Standards Association of Australia. We also introduced a system of paying travelling expenses to war widows to enable them to travel to and from hospital to visit their next of kin. In 1959 we extended this benefit to enable them to travel to other places of treatment. We also introduced a benefit which provides the next of kin with air travel to enable them to visit seriously ill relatives.
We established a disabled members’ and widows’ training scheme in 1952 to provide rehabilitation training for ex-servicemen of the 1939-45 war who are substantially handicapped through war caused incapacity, to enable them to be satisfactorily reestablished in civil life. We extended that benefit to the widows of ex-servicemen of the 1939-45 war if training is necessary to enable them to follow a suitable remunerative occupation. We extended the benefit paid to the children of Service ‘ pensioners by increasing the age of eligible children from 16 to 18 years. Later we extended the age to 21 years for’ children undergoing full training. These are just some of the benefits which we introduced. We also eased the means test and in this way made a number of ex-servicemen eligible for Service pension for the first time. We greatly improved the medical assistance granted to ex-servicemen. In 1954, we removed the qualification which had been imposed by Labour that if an employer paid sick pay to an ex-serviceman this was to be taken into account when assessing his income. We introduced a clothing allowance to certain disabled servicemen. As I have already mentioned, we have increased the domestic allowance from 75 cents to $7 - a terrific increase of almost 10 times.
I shall say something about hospitalisation later. In 1958 we extended the eligibility for hospital treatment to all nurses of the 1914-18 war irrespective of whether they are receiving a pension. In 1960, we ex tended this benefit to all “ member “ Service pensioners. I want to refer now to a recent improvement. A couple of years ago we introduced a guardian’s allowance of $4 for unmaried Service pensioners who have the custody, care and control of one child or more. We also extended the medical treatment benefits for children of Service pensioners to include children up to 21 years of age.
All this ought to cause the critics of the Government’s repatriation policies to reflect on their assertion that the value has gone out of repatriation benefits generally, because this certainly is not supported by the facts.
I want to say something about the proposal to provide free hospitalisation to persons who served in the Boer War and those who served in World War I. In order to support its argument the Labour Party says that this has been requested by the R.S.L. Presumably the Labour Party regards the R.S.L. as a body which speaks with some authority on repatriation matters. T want to go even a little further than the honorable member for Moreton and say that honorable members opposite are opportunists; that they take the R.S.L. as an authority only when it suits them. Let me read three or four extracts from the 50th annual report of the Returned Services League. It is the latest report published and I draw attention first to what the League has to say about defence. Amongst other things, the report says -
The League accepts the view that Australian Forces are presently engaged in Vietnam at the request of the South Vietnamese Government and in response to our obligations under SEATO.
Does the Labour Party support that? The report goes on -
The League believes that if we withdraw from Vietnam, then we will subsequently be called upon to meet the same type of aggression in other countries of South East Asia.
Does the Labour Party support that view which is stated by the League? The report continues -
The League believes that fundamentally there is no difference between the aggression that is occurring in Vietnam and the aggression that occurred in Korea.
Does the Labour Party support that statement? Is that Party prepared to accept the Returned Services League as an authority on these matters and is it in accord with these strongly expressed sentiments of the League? I want to give one further quotation from this report, as follows -
It is worthy of note that Communists, both at home and abroad, are campaigning for an allied withdrawal from South Vietnam. This fact alone indicates the need for questioning the wisdom of such a move. It would be a rare event indeed if the best course of action from our point of view was the one advocated by our enemies.
Whom does the Labour Party support here? Does it support the League or the Communists? J shall leave that for you to judge, Sir. lt gives me no pleasure, as an exserviceman, to oppose the proposal that men who served in the Boer War or the First World War should receive free hospital treatment in repatriation hospitals.
– The honorable member either supports it or opposes it.
– I think that the proposal has a great deal to commend it. I shall tell the honorable member opposite why 1 oppose it. The annual report of the Repatriation Commission for 1965-66, referring to war pensions, states -
The purpose of a war pension is to compensate ex-service men and women who have suffered incapacity as a result of their war service, their eligible dependants and the dependants of those who have died as a result of war service. 1 accept this, Mr. Deputy Speaker. 1 also accept the fact that the Government has budgeted for a substantial deficit in the current financial year. This indicates that we have not sufficient money to do all that we would like to do. Therefore, it seems logical to me that we should give the most assistance where the need is greatest. Indeed, if we consult the requests made by the Returned Services League in recent years, we find that although free hospital treatment for the categories of exservicemen concerned in this instance has always been sought, the League has not given this request particularly high priority. The means test imposed by the Department of Social Services is not a severe one. An cx-serviceman who can meet it to a degree sufficient to entitle him to a social services benefit of as little as 20c a week is entitled to free hospital treatment in a repatriation hospital for all disabilities whether or not they are war caused. And as I have said this is not by any means a harsh means test.
At this point, I want to remind honorable members that we are arguing not about free hospital treatment for war caused disabilities but about free hospital treatment for disabilities that are not war caused. I believe that ex-servicemen have to ask themselves whether they are entitled to this benefit, whether or not they are in need, when some dependants of deceased ex-servicemen obviously are in need of help. Much as I would like to see the request by the Returned Services League for free hospital treatment acceded to in this instance, 1 am prepared to accept the Government’s decision to spend the available money on those who, it believes, are in the greatest need.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, all Opposition members deplore the doubtful parliamentary procedure adopted by the Government in its attempt to prevent the Opposition from arguing fully its case on behalf of all exservicemen. I personally deplore the dubious legal arguments that were advanced by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) who took the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) to task for saying that the Government had adopted doubtful tactics in introducing the Bill that is now before us. The honorable member for Moreton took the attitude that all of us knew that money bills could not be amended in either House in such a manner as to increase the appropriation provided for. The honorable member for Lalor specifically admitted that this was the Opposition’s complaint. We are complaining that on this occasion the Government has adopted a very doubtful parliamentary procedure that has never previously been adopted in relation to repatriation legislation. On Tuesday last, at 3.40 p.m., a bill that had been considered and amended in the Senate was brought into this House and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz), who !n this chamber represents the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), made a second reading speech. With the agreement of Opposition members, that bill was to be debated later on Tuesday evening.
– I was given the adjournment of the debate.
– The debate was adjourned on the motion of the honorable member for Lalor who, at the time, specifically asked the Minister for Civil Aviation whether the Government proposed to accept the amendment that had been made in the Senate. I was sitting at the table beside the honorable member when he asked that question. The Minister replied: “ I did not say that. That refers solely to the Budget proposals.” In the “ Hansard “ report, the words “ I did not say that “ have not been recorded. But I was sitting at the table and I heard the Minister say them. Realising that the Opposition intended to argue in support of the amendment that had been adopted by the Senate, the Minister for Repatriation, his Cabinet colleagues and his advisers decided that they would have to take some step to prevent the Opposition from arguing in support of the proposal which had been adopted by the Senate and which had been supported by the Australian Labour Party for a number of years and included in the Party’s policy speeches in 1961 and 1963 and which had been requested by the Returned Services League of Australia for a number of years also. The honorable member for Moreton spent a considerable amount of time saying that Opposition members were adopting the wrong attitude. He had not even bothered to look at the Repatriation Act. If he had, be would have found in it a section - section 113 - that specifically provides for the appropriation of funds for repatriation purposes.
I believe that this is the first occasion on which a repatriation measure containing an appropriation clause has ever been brought into this House. The original measure introduced in the Senate by the Minister for Repatriation contained no appropriation clause. The same measure was brought into this House by the Minister for Civil Aviation, still containing no appropriation clause. The Government, because it realised that many ex-service members in its own ranks would be embarrassed at having to vote against the proposition embodied in the Senate’s amendment and at having to oppose the submissions of the Returned Services League, immediately set out to curtail debate on the issue and to stop the Opposition from supporting the amendment and proposing others. This was a snide and dishonest trick. I only hope that exservicemen’s organisations throughout Australia appreciate what the Government has done on this occasion. The Senate adopted an amendment giving effect to a request made by the Returned Services League. The Government brought the amended measure into this House hoping that the resumed debate would take place on Wednesday, when the proceedings of this House were not being broadcast, and believing that Government supporters would be able to vote against the amendment and remove it from the Bill without undue publicity being given to the whole business. However, when it became apparent that the Opposition was prepared to proceed with the debase on Tuesday and to dispose of the matter, the Government took action to prevent this from being done.
Down through the years, this Government has failed to honour many of the promises that it has made on repatriation matters. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) spent a good deal of his time enumerating, one after another, small benefits that this Government has granted to ex-service men and women. This Administration has been in office since 1949. Any government that has been in office for so long must be able to enumerate certain benefits that it has granted to certain sections of the community. I remind the House that in the general election campaign in 1949, the right honorable gentleman who was at that time leader of the LiberalAustralian Country Party Opposition and who later became Prime Minister, in bis policy speech, specifically promised to look after the welfare of ex-servicemen and their dependants. I see that the honorable member for Henty is leaving the chamber. I wish he would not, because I intend to quote the remarks of Mr. Osborne. Minister for Repatriation in 1961, to show that the Government has again broken its promise to ex-servicemen, particularly as regards the provision of medical and hospital treatment for elderly ex-servicemen. In his second reading speech on the Repatriation Bill in 1961 Mr. Osborne said -
From the nature of our responsibilities and the passage of time, we have had to deal mainly with an ageing group in the community, so special attention will be given to the care and treatment of elderly people. With this in mind, a new type of hospital is being developed within the Department.
The Minister continued -
High among the things that move us should be a determination to keep the system human, lt is my responsibility to ensure that it continues to be administered with sympathy, with generosity and with understanding . . .
In 1961 the then Minister for Repatriation promised to provide hospitals for the care and treatment of elderly ex-servicemen. It was in 1960 that hospital and medical treatment for non-war caused disabilities was provided to service pensioners of the 1914-18 War. So that benefit was already in existence when the Minister for Repatriation promised in 1961 to give special consideration to the care and treatment of elderly ex-servicemen. The Government said in 1961 that it would provide a special type of hospital to care for these people. It has not done so. It has not properly cared for these elderly ex-servicemen.
In another place, the Opposition succeeded in amending the Bill to provide this treatment for the elderly. Surely there could be no more elderly ex-serviceman than a Boer War veteran. Surely men who served in the 1914-18 War are in the category of elderly ex-servicemen. The Government has failed in its responsibility towards these people. Before he was promoted, the Minister for Civil Aviation was Minister for Repatriation. In two or three speeches to the National Congress of the Returned Services League he referred specifically to the need for sympathy and understanding in dealing with elderly ex-servicemen and to the need to care for them and their dependants. He made special mention of the close co-operation between the Government and the R.S.L. All the promises that he made have been broken and forgotten. The Government’s 1949 election promises have been broken and forgotten. Its 1961 promises have been broken and forgotten.
The thing we are arguing about most in this Bill is the need to provide veterans of the Boer War and the 1914-18 War with medical and hospital treatment for nonwar caused disabilities. The annual report of the Repatriation Commission shows that there are only 106,000 remaining survivors of the First World War. No details are given of the number of remaining survivors of the Boer War but surely the youngest Boer War veteran would now be about 80 years of age.
– Probably 86 years of age.
– Well, the Boer War finished 66 years ago. Suppose a lad joined at 14 years of age. He would now be 80 years of age. There cannot be too many of them left. The Commission’s report shows that 49,767 ex-servicemen are in receipt of service pensions. Of that number, some would be veterans of the Second World War receiving a service pension because they are permanently unemployable. So even on the most extravagant estimate there would be no more than 66,000 veterans of the First World War left who are not in receipt of a service pension. The report shows further that medical and hospital treatment accounts for 19c in each SI spent by the Commission. In the last year the total cost of such treatment was $51 million. So even if every one of the 66,000 veterans from the First World War were granted this free hospital and medical treatment, not a particularly large sum would be involved. I know that some people will say that extra beds and extra doctors’ services would be required. Let us look at some of the figures provided in the report of the Public Works Committee on the Repatriation General Hospital at Concord. New South Wales.
– Tell us what the R.S.L. has said about Vietnam.
– 1. will come to that matter later. I hope that the honorable member will still be around, because I intend to devote some time to the arguments and snide interjections that emanate from the other side of the chamber. If the honorable member waits to hear what I have to say I am sure he will be more than satisfied and more than chastened after I have finished with him.
The report of the Public Works Committee shows that in 1965 the average daily bed occupancy rate at Concord Repatriation Hospital was 1,276 and that at present the hospital can accommodate 1,504 in-patients. In its report on the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital in Victoria the Committee says that the average daily bed occupancy rate in 1965-66 was 693 and that the hospital has a peak capacity of 790 inpatients. In its report on the Springbank Repatriation Hospital, South Australia, the Committee states that the average daily bed occupancy rate is 299 and that the hospital has a capacity of 352 in-patients. So I do not think the provision of medical and hospital treatment for all veterans of the
Boer War and the First World War would place an undue strain on the facilities of our repatriation hospitals. Not a great deal is said about future bed requirements in the reports of the Public Works Committee, which investigated the four year plan for providing additional facilities in the various repatriation hospitals. Certainly reference is made in the reports to pathological services and other in-patient services, but no great emphasis is laid on in-patient requirements generally. But in 1961 the Government promised to provide extra hospital beds and a special hospital for the care of elderly veterans of the Boer War and the First World War. It has taken the Repatriation Commission a long time to get around to doing something about this matter.
In answer to a question placed on the notice paper by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) the Minister for Civil Aviation’ said that it would cost about $10 million a year to provide accommodation for Boer War and 1914-18 War veterans. I think that figure is grossly exaggerated. Having regard to the fact that only 19c in every $1 spent by the Repatriation Commission is devoted to medical and hospital treatment and that there are surpluses of beds in the repatriation hospitals in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, I think it is fair to say that the figure of $10 million is a guesstimate rather than an estimate.
I am certain that arguments stronger than those I have advanced could be put forward to show that this benefit should be introduced for ex-servicemen of the Boer War and World War I. The R.S.L. has certainly submitted the proposal on a number of occasions. Nobody in this House has ever suggested that the R.S.L. has made extravagant claims in its pensions plan. A number of people have remarked how moderate the League’s claims are. A few moments ago the honorable member for Henty said that because the R.S.L. had not put this request very high on its list, it could not have thought much of it. But the honorable member has overlooked that, on every occasion the pension plan has been submitted to the Government, the deputation from the Returned Services League has specified that only the most urgent requests have been included. The annual reports of the League show that a dozen or more additional requests could have been made, but the Government has been asked to provide only those benefits that the League considers to be the most urgent. The requests are listed in order, but a start has to be made somewhere. A certain emphasis is placed on each one, but I would say that the emphasis on each is about the same. However, the Government has always refused to take much notice of the League’s pension plan. In the League’s last four annual reports, critical statements are made by its leaders. They express their disappointment at the benefits not having been granted to ex-servicemen.
I want to come back to the Opposition’s main bone of contention and that is that the Government has refused to allow us to debate the original Repatriation Bill that was brought down in the Senate, argued in the Senate and amended in the Senate, through the efforts of the Labour Opposition, to include hospital and medical treatment for veterans of the 1914-18 and Boer Wars. When the Minister for Civil Aviation introduced the Bill in this House, he said -
The Bill also contains a clause inserted following an amendment in another place, the effect of which is that medical, hospital and related treatment may be provided for ex-servicemen of the Boer WaT and the 1914-18 war for disabilities which are not war caused.
I ask honorable members to take particular note of the following passage -
In accordance with usual practice the Budget proposals which I have outlined will, where applicable, be extended to those eligible by amendment to the Native Members of the Forces (Torres Strait Islands) Benefits Regulations. The amendments will come into force from the date on which the Act receives the royal assent. . . .
Again this year, these repatriation Budget measures confer valuable benefits on repatriation pensioners and I commend the Bill to the House.
The only intimation in the speech that the amendment made in the Senate would not be adopted was the use of the word “Budget” on two occasions. The Minister was not honest enough to answer the honorable member for Lalor, who asked at the conclusion of the Minister’s second reading speech whether this meant that the amendment in the Senate had been accepted by the Government.
By using the words “ Budget proposals”, the Minister tried to mislead not only his own supporters but also the members of the
Opposition and members of the ex-service organisations. He relied on the word “ Budget “, because provision for this amendment had not been made in the Budget. The Labour Opposition in the Senate was entitled to move the amendment. It did so, and the amendment was carried. 1 believe that some members on the Government side of this House would have supported an amendment along the lines we suggested or would have supported the retention in the Bill of the clause providing treatment for veterans of the 1914-18 and Boer Wars. But the Minister and his Cabinet colleagues, and perhaps even his advisers on this occasion, decided that they were in some difficulty and would not allow the provision to be debated in this House. So they introduced a bill, Repatriation Bill (No. 2), that prevents the Opposition from moving the specific amendment that was included in the original bill, because now this has been made an appropriation measure. I would like the Minister for Civil Aviation, who represents the Minister for Repatriation, to tell the House whether this procedure has ever been followed before with repatriation legislation. If he cannot do this, will he kindly explain to the House and to the ex-servicemen of Australia why the Government will not grant this very meagre concession to the elderly ex-servicemen?
The Returned Services League, through the executive officers of the Victorian Branch, the executive officers of the New South Wales Branch and even the National Secretary, has written to most honorable members. The National Secretary wrote as late as 26th September, and I understand that honorable members on the Government side received a copy of the letter. He said - lt is perhaps opportune to convey to you our hope that you will lend your support to the introduction of this most necessary benefit- meaning the hospital treatment - whenever the opportunity arises.
The Secretary of the New South Wales Branch of the League wrote to all honorable members from New South Wales on behalf of 113,000 ex-servicemen in that State. He said -
Your support is also sought for the granting of medical and hospital treatment entitlement to veterans of the First World War and it is a matter of grave concern that the repeated requests made in this field have still not been acceded to.
Mr. Hall, the State President in Victoria, wrote - lt is also a matter of extreme disappointment that the Government had not acceded to the request for repatriation hospitalisation for men of the First World War and Boer War. This was a section of the community that had rendered outstanding service to Australia. In their advancing years they urgently needed the help that hospital benefits would provide.
This benefit has been requested by the Returned Services League.
The red herring that is usually used against the Australian Labour Party, and certainly will be used in the eight weeks or so before the election, has already been thrown into the debate by some honorable members, including the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes). They accuse the Australian Labour Party of inclining towards Communism and anti-Americanism, but they use this red herring in an attempt to hide their deficiencies and their failure to keep value in repatriation and social service benefits, to keep prices stable, to develop our nation and to preserve our natural resources. Many ex-servicemen throughout Australia do not agree with the Government’s policy on conscription. Many of them say that, if the Government had tried to recruit a volunteer force for Vietnam, it would have obtained more volunteers than it required. This happened in 1914 and again in 1939, when volunteer forces were recruited. But this time the Government did not try to raise a volunteer force, because it wanted to have conscription. Conscription was introduced for a political reason only and not for a military reason. When the honorable member for Parkes and other honorable members on the other side throw in the red herring of Communism or anti-Americanism, I hope that the ex-servicemen will realise that they are only trying to hide their own deficiencies.
I want now to deal quickly with some of the proposals that the Government has failed to include in its repatriation legislation. The Totally and Permanently Disabled Soldiers Association of Australia presented its plan to the Cabinet earlier this year, ft contained five points. The first asked for an increase in the total and permanent incapacity rate from S28.50 to $31. The Government granted an increase of $2, bringing the rate to $30.50. The next point was that the wife’s pension be increased, but that was rejected. The third point was for the provision of medical benefits to wives, but that was rejected. The fourth point was for an increase in the funeral grant from $50 to $100, but that was rejected. The final point was that the recreational transport allowance be increased from $10 to $20, and that was rejected.
– Did they get anything?
– They received a rise in the special rate of pension. They asked for a $2.50 increase, so they received almost what they asked for. However, all other requests were rejected. The Returned Services League put forward a plan for increases in certain benefits granted to repatriation recipients. One of its requests was that the funeral grant be increased from $50 to $100, but that was rejected. It asked for a general review of pension rates and suggested that the special rate T.P.I, pension should be increased to an amount equal to the existing level of the basic wage, which at present is $32.80. The T.P.I, rate is now $30.50, so the League’s request was not granted. It asked for hospital benefits for the returned men from the Boer War and from the First World War. That was rejected by the Government. However, this request was carried in an amendment through the efforts of the Labour Opposition in the Senate. The amendment was to be brought before the Committee of this House so that we could vote upon it. but the Government, by a snide and dishonest trick, has prevented us from discussing and voting on the amendment to that Repatriation Bill. I think that the speakers on this side of the House have more than demonstrated that the Government has broken its promises to ex-service men and women, particularly in relation to the provision of proper medical and hospital treatment of elderly ex-servicemen, which was promised in 1961 by a former Minister of Repatriation whose remarks can be seen in a second reading speech appearing on page 801 of “Hansard” for 5th December 1961.
When the Minister for Civil Aviation was Minister for Repatriation he gave a specific promise about close liaison with the Returned Services League and other ex- servicemen’s organisations and said that it was the desire of the Government to keep on increasing repatriation benefits. Specific promises were made as far back as 1949, but very few of those promises have been kept. Honorable members from New South Wales will appreciate that the promises of Liberals are not to be trusted. The New South Wales Government in its Budget introduced only two nights ago has increased fares and taxation, has not provided sufficient for education and has broken six or seven specific promises that were given in its policy speech about six to eight months ago. No Liberal promises can be trusted. Red herrings will be used against the Labour Party, but I want all ex-servicemen in the community to appreciate that in this House they have some ardent supporters in the Opposition, and we look forward to their support in the coming election.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Sinclair) adjourned.
– I move -
Customs Tariff Proposals (No. 13) (1966).
Customs Tariff Proposals (No. 14) (1966).
Customs Tariff Proposals Nos.1 3 and 14, which I have just tabled, relate to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariff 1966. The tariff changes incorporated in Proposals No. 13 result from consideration of reports made by the Tariff Board on coffee and clothes pegs. The Tariff Board’s report on coffee covers the question of assistance to the production of coffee in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and the effect of imports of coffee and coffee products on the sale in Australia of coffee produced in the Territory.
Honorable members will recall that in a report in 1962 the Tariff Board found that the coffee industry in Papua and New Guinea materially aided economic advancement and assisted the Commonwealth in the discharge of its responsibilities in the Territory. The Board has found that the industry’s contribution is even greater now, measured in terms of capital invested, income, employment and the contribution it makes to the Territory’s export earnings. One of the methods by which assistance is now given to Territory coffee is that persons who obtain at least 30 per cent, of their total requirements of raw coffee from Papua and New Guinea can obtain refunds of all the duty paid on imports of raw coffee from other sources. Acting upon the Board’s recommendation it is proposed to continue this arrangement. A concessional rate of duty of 2.5c per lb. which previously applied to those persons who obtained between 25 per cent, and 30 per cent, of their raw coffee requirements from the Territory will be discontinued. The Tariff Board reported that, in practice, few manufacturers have difficulty in meeting the higher quota.
As before, the arrangement will be based on payment of duty and subsequent refund when it has been established that 30 per cent, of requirements have been obtained from Papua and New Guinea. The Board has recommended that steps be taken to reduce the delay in making these refunds. To this end existing methods have been examined and a revised procedure will be introduced. This will minimise the time required to verify the usage of New Guinea coffee and to process refund of duty claims when submitted by the persons taking advantage of this scheme. The demand for coffee products in Australia has been rising. The main product of the industry is instant coffee and local manufacturers have obtained a large and increasing share of this market. The Government has adopted the Board’s recommendation that the duty on instant coffee - that is dry coffee - be reduced to 40c per lb.
The Government also has accepted the Tariff Board’s recommendations on clothes pegs. The Board found that increased assistance for wooden pegs was not justified, and that there were no grounds for the present tariff distinction between spring type clothes pegs and other pegs. It recommended that the rate at present applicable to spring type clothes pegs be applied to all pegs. Proposals No. 14 provides a simpler method of expression for certain duties appearing in the Customs Tariffs 1966 which vary on a sliding scale depending on factors such as the free on board price, horsepower rating, weight or value of machines. Experience has shown that the mathematical formula for determining sliding scale duties as presently expressed causes some confusion at the working level and a simpler method has been devised. In addition the new formula provides an incidence of duty closer to that applying at 30th June 1965. I commend the Proposals to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Reports on Items.
– I present reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects -
Ordered that the reports be printed.
REPATRIATION BILL 1966 [No. 2]. Second Reading.
Debate resumed (vide page 1450).
– I speak on behalf of the Australian Country Party in supporting the Bill and in commending the ambit of repatriation benefits provided by the Liberal-Country Party Government since it came into office in 1949. The substance of this debate has been, first, as to whether or not the budgetary allocations for the Repatriation Department should be varied as a result of certain amendments which were introduced in another place or, secondly, whether the Government should be allowed to continue its regular increases in repatriation benefits as provided systematically since it first came into office in 1949. I thought my colleague, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), dealt very effectively with the legal reasons why the Government in the budgetary context must necessarily allocate its funds according to the priorities as it sees them. Each year prior to the bringing down of the Budget quite a number of submissions are presented to the Government not only within the field of repatriation, not only within the scope of my own Department, also within every field for which the Government is responsible. As a result, certain suggestions are accepted and certain suggestions are rejected. It is never possible to do all the things it is desired to do within the ambit of the National Welfare Fund.
I think that within the field of social welfare more than in any other field the demands come at a personal level. Because of the very personal nature of repatriation benefits this Government, since it came into office, has established a particularly close liaison with the Returned Services League and with members of returned servicemen’s organisations throughout Australia. This liaison exists, first of all, at the Government level. A sub-committee of Cabinet each year considers proposals advanced by the R.S.L., discusses them with individual members and then presents firm recommendations to the Government. Beyond that, each member of this House, and particularly members of the Liberal and Country Parties, has a great deal of liaison with sub-branches of the R.S.L. I know that within the Liberal and Country Parties there is a very high proportion of members who are themselves returned servicemen. Many of these members are office bearers in local branches of the R.S.L. Each one of us, as a member of the Commonwealth Parliament maintains close contact with our own returned servicemen. The result is that each year we are told something of the aims and objectives of the returned servicemen’s organisations and their ideas of the additional repatriation benefits they would like to see included in the ensuing Budget.
But it is not only in the field of repatriation that recommendations are brought forward. To my mind, one of the most wonderful attributes of the R.S.L. is that it represents one of the stronger, more forcible and more responsible sections of the Australian community. As such it presents recommendations which cover the whole field of Government responsibility. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) this afternoon quoted from the 50th annual report of the R.S.L. which contains recommendations on future Government foreign policy. There are firm suggestions as to the participation of Australian forces in South Vietnam and the continuing responsibility of the Australian Government and the Australian people to play a part in the defence of Australia against the expansion of Communism. All of this represents the broad spectrum of the kind of recommendations that the R.S.L. puts before the Government.
In this debate the Labour Opposition has suggested that within the whole context of these recommendations is one in particular which should receive priority, namely, that which was pushed through in the other place. As a result of this the debate this afternoon has, to some extent, centred on the question whether hospital treatment should be extended to returned servicemen of the First World War and the Boer War. Each one of us has a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for these men and a great deal of personal sympathy for their problems, but I can assure members of the R.S.L. and honorable members of this House that within my own Department, the Department of Social Services, many occasions arise on which one would like to provide assistance and it is not always possible so to do.
This Government has adopted a responsible attitude. When these recommendations come forward we do not take one out of context and say: “ We will deal only with this one “. We have in fact provided an extended range of benefits. Last year I was fortunate to be able to present to this House the Repatriation Bill 1965 which introduced for the first time an intermediate rate pension. This intermediate rate pension met a very vital need so far as returned servicemen are concerned. This year the legislation provides for an increase in pensions paid to totally and permanently incapacitated persons, an increase in the intermediate rate pension and a number of other benefits which relate specifically to the needs of the returned service community. Beyond this, of course, they also receive the benefits available through the service pension. Increasing benefits cost money and you try to ensure that the available finance is used to extend the increased benefits to as many people as possible. Within this budgetary context the Commonwealth Government decided that it was possible to do a certain number of things. While we acknowledge that there are very good arguments not only for the extension of hospital treatment but also for broadening the scope of other benefits, we also acknowledge that a responsible government cannot accede to every request for financial assistance that it receives. It must determine an order of priorities and, within those priorities, determine its ability to meet specific areas of need. Because the Government, since it came into office, has consistently adopted a policy of allocating the available funds to the areas of need, returned servicemen in Australia have received a broader range of benefits and a comparatively larger amount of pension than do ex-servicemen in any other country in the world.
Opposition members today are trying to suggest that this Government has not shown the concern for returned servicemen that they would have shown had they been in office. The honorable member for Henty, 1 thought in a very forceful and effective way, compared some of the benefits available prior to 1949 with those available today. As he demonstrated, each successive year since this Government has been in office there has been this consistent broadening of entitlement and increases in the pensions granted to returned servicemen. All of this has been done in a responsible fashion. Certainly it has not always been possible to accede to every request that has been put to the Government by the returned servicemen’s organisations, but those which have been accepted after consultation between the organisations and the Government have provided the advantage first to the most needy. Those most in need have been given first consideration by the Government when any broadening of benefits has been proposed.
Looking back over the years since the Government has been in office we see a remarkable extension in the range of benefits. I do not want to enumerate all of them; I will mention only a few. In 1950 the Repatriation Act was extended to cover ex-servicemen who participated in the Korea and Malaya operations. All pension rates were reviewed and increased, and so on. In 1952 the disabled members and service training scheme was introduced. In 1953 travelling expenses covering forward and return journeys when treatment is sought was provided, as well as other benefits. Turning to more recent years, in 1960 full medical treatment facilities were made available to ex-servicemen receiving service pensions. I shall return to that benefit because, in the context of the debate which has been carried on in this House today, it is worthwhile to consider it in somewhat more detail. In 1961 there was an extension of the special rate sustenance allowance. In 1962 pensions were granted to Torres Strait islanders and an additional benefit was granted in relation to the operative da-e of an appeal to a tribunal.
In 1963 the Repatriation Act was amended to provide a uniform commencing date for the payment of pensions, service pensions were granted to Torres Strait islanders and a funeral benefit of £10 was granted to service pensioners. In 1964 service pensioners temporarily absent overseas were granted a continuance of their pension. In 1965 the intermediate rate war pension was instituted and eligibility for medical sustenance was extended. Now in 1966 we are discussing the range of benefits which will be provided this year. My colleague the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) who represents in this place the Minister for Repatriation, Senator McKellar has now introduced into this House a bill providing for an extension of the range and amount of benefits available to returned servicemen. Here we have a physical example of what this Liberal and Country Party Government has done and is doing to provide very real benefits to returned service personnel. All these things have meant that the returned servicemen in the Australian community are being given, as they justly deserve, some added cornpension for their war service.
Being responsible for social services, I see quite a number of people who for various reasons, in most instances quite without fault of their own, have a particular need. I quite agree that people who have given beyond the normal amount towards the nation’s good should be given some additional compensation. If we look at the range of benefits, we see at once the immediate range of added benefits which are available to returned servicemen. This, of course, has been the basis of the Government’s policy on social services and repatriation, that there should be initially a range of social service benefits available for all people in the community according to need, but that beyond this there should be an additional range of benefits available for returned servicemen. These additional benefits are substantially greater than those for social service benefit recipients. They are available in the case of a service pension at a younger age and, with medical facilities, where the injury has been war caused, they are available as they should be for all returned men.
Beyond that, and this is whatI mentioned a while ago, part of the substance of the debate this afternoon was the medical treatment facilities available to exservicemen who have Service pensions. So far as the area of need within the Australian community is concerned, these are the people who, through no fault of their own, have a financial comparative disability with other people in the Australian community. Ex-servicemen who are in this position are already entitled to full free hospitalisation and medical treatment without any suggestion that this treatment is available only for war caused injury. This category includes those who are already entitled to receive the benefit. The only field within which the particular submission of the Opposition has had bearing this afternoon is that field beyond this area of need, the area of those who, if the means test is to be taken as assessing financial need, have less need than the others. I feel that within the policies of this Government there has been shown very forcibly the advantages of providing greater financial assistance to people according to need. This is one of the reasons why in 1960, when these full medical treatment facilities were extended to ex-servicemen receiving pensions, the means test provision was retained. I believe that this extension has really provided the facility needed for the most deserving of the returned personnel.
But, asI explained, there are many fields within which the returned service organisations and members of this House would like to see benefits extended. However, the point at issue here this afternoon is whether or not the measures which are now being provided through the Repatriation Bill will benefit the most deserving or whether the Government is to have taken out of its hands through the irresponsible attitude of members of the Opposition the direction in which money should be spent. In terms of the actual contributions made by the Government, the point at issue, as I see it, is that over the years this Government has tried to work in very close harmony with individuals and with representative groups of returned servicemen. It has done this, taking into account the fact that it feels that returned servicemen have a prior claim to benefits within our social service structure. It recognises that repatriation is some thing given by way of compensation lor war service, and in doing all this it has brought out benefits which recognise the compensation element for service rendered. It provides beyond this added benefits where there is a particular area of need.
The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) this afternoon gave us a percentage comparison of the statistics to show the improvement in rates since this Government came into office. There have been substantial increases in war pensions and all other benefits since that time. For example, the total and permanent incapacity rate pension has risen from £5 6s. or $10.60 in 1949 to $30.50 in 1966, a total increase of $19.90. The 100 per cent. general rate pension has increased from £2 15s. or $5.50 to $12 per week, a total increase of $6.50 in the same period. War widows’ pensions have increased from £3 or $6 to $13, an increase of $7. There have been increases in allowances paid to ex-servicemen, for example, attendance allowances and allowances payable in respect of children under the soldier settlers’ children’s education scheme, the domestic allowance for a war widow and medical treatment for Service pensioners. All these things I have mentioned are very worthy additions to the range of repatriation benefits which have been granted by the Government.
The basis of the repatriation system has been that not only should there be a recognition of the peculiar needs of returned servicemen and a recognition that for war caused injuries there should be full and adequate medical treatment and hospital facilities available, but that also, because of the particular nature of war service, there should be some added financial and general assistance available to returned servicemen. I suggest that the Government has done all these things. Accordingly, in the Bill now before the House the Government has once again selected a number of specific measures which it feels provide an extension, but they are provided for returned servicemen according to need. In the Social Services Bill I provided one other additional extension, namely, that where a person receiving the sustenance allowance under the Repatriation Regulations transferred to normal employment but was unable to obtain employment, he became entitled immediately to receive the unemployment benefit. But this is additional to the other benefits which have been provided in the Bill.
All these things have been provided according to the needs as the Government saw them within the whole budgetary context. The suggestion made by the Opposition that one measure should be taken out of this context and an added benefit should be given in another region is, in my view, quite irresponsible. I can see no justification for taking one particular extension from the range of added benefits and saying that this one, and this one only, we are going to grant. I commend the Bill as it is to the House. I feel that it provides a continuance of the broadening of the range of benefits and the amounts of benefits which have consistently been provided by the Government to returned servicemen. I regard the Bill as being a realistic extension within the whole budgetary context. With my colleagues of the Country Party, I feel that this is a reasonable extension within the many repatriation demands which were before the Government in framing the Budget this year.
To the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) who has been telling us something of how he feels these issues should appear in the eyes of ex-servicemen. 1 would explain, as my colleague the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) has explained to some of his returned servicemen in a letter which I understand he regularly writes to them, that if returned servicemen look not only at their whole range of benefits but also at the general progress of Australia, at our defence and at the record of the Government, they will know for whom they should cast their votes when election day comes. They will know for whom the Liberal and Country Party Government has been working. I feel that representatives of the returned servicemen’s organisations throughout Australia have consistently recognised this responsible attitude of the Government. They have consistently shown that they appreciate this broadening range, and while they not unnaturally still feel that there are benefits that should be extended, and while there are some new benefits they would like to see granted, they are appreciative of the fact that in the future they will get more realistic consideration from this Government than they could ever hope to get if - heaven forbid - there should ever be a Labour government again in Australia.
.- The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) is very plausible in dealing with his own Department, but he has no understanding whatsoever of the concept of repatriation. It is not realism we want in this matter, it is humanity and understanding, particularly of the position of the First World War soldier. The Minister says that people such as honorable members on this side who are advocating the extension of hospital and medical benefits to ex-servicemen of the First World War are irresponsible. Apparently he can include among those irresponsibles a large number of other people. I shall read to the House a telegram that has just been received by Senator Keeffe. This refers to the gimmickry in which the Government is indulging in an effort to avoid a proper vote on this matter. The telegram says -
In reply to your telegram. You have our full measure of support concerning amendment carried Senate. Regards, Lachlan, Secretary, Incapacitated Branch, Returned Services League, Queensland.
I have no doubt that that would express the sentiments of most members of the Returned Services League throughout Australia.
Perhaps it would be appropriate if I addressed most of my remarks to the Minister for Social Services, who seems to suffer from some error in his conceptual attitude and approach to this matter. The basis of the repatriation system is not that of need; it is one of entitlement. It has nothing to do with needs, means or anything of that kind. The repatriation system is based on a recognition of a particular kind of service and a particular sort of duty that the community owes to the former servicemen in return for the services and sacrifices he may have made.
– That is what I said.
– The Minister did not say that at all. He talked all the time about needs. He steeped himself in history. He is living in the past. He hides behind statistics and tries to defend the continuation of a system that is basically not much different from what it was 23 years ago, in 1943, when radical amendments were made.
The Minister went through the whole range of benefits. All very good. If you live for another 20 years and you are a Boer War veteran you can look forward to something because the Government is going to sneak a little bit more in each year. But of course there are thousands of ex-servicemen passing from our midst every year. If something is not done now it may as we’ll never be done so far as many ex-servicemen are concerned. We are asking for a completely different approach to two or three matters. The first thing we ask for is the automatic acceptance of cancer as a war-caused disability. Secondly we ask for the granting of free medical and hospital treatment to wives of special rate pensioners. Thirdly - and this is the matter with which I always feel particularly concerned - we ask for the provision of free medical and hospital treatment for all returned servicemen of the 1914-18 War and the Boer War.
Let me put this to the House: It is fair enough to say that our repatriation system is one of the best in the world. It is fair enough to say that it is better than it was 17 or 18 years ago. Well, it ought to be. This is one of the richest nations in the world. It has almost unlimited capacity to do anything it likes - given a decent government. I think Australia is about ninth in the list of manufacturers of automobiles, lt is the tenth largest trading nation in the world. Whereas in 1920 when the basic wage was about £3 8s. it was a country of some five million people, not industrialised, isolated from the rest of the world, in 1966 it has more than eleven million people with resources at their disposal that are denied to most of the rest of humanity on this planet. I do not want to apply the tests of 1949 to anything. I do not want to apply the tests of other people. I want to apply a sense of duty and responsibility of Australians operating in the context of 1966.
I notice that the Minister for Social Services has taken his leave of the House, as indeed have most honorable members on the other side. Let me deal with the parliamentary position. The honorable member or Moreton (Mr. Killen) made great play of the protection of the dignity and the rights and sovereignty of this House in certain matters. I do not think this has any relevance whatsoever. While this House exists and while the Senate exists they are both part and parcel of the legislative structure of Australia. They have equal responsibilities. They are elected by the same sort of people. In large measure the Senate is perhaps more directly representative of the will of the people of Australia than this House is, particularly when the boundaries of electorates get out of focus as they are at the present time. Therefore I do not regard what the honorable member for Moreton said as a valid argument at all. It was a good piece of abstract debating, and the honorable member for Moreton always does that kind of thing very well. But from this side of the House I can say - and I believe I speak according to the general concept which Australians bring to this matter - it is not legalistic argument that we want; it is not realism that we want; it is the practical application through legislation of Australian humanity and a sense of responsibility to other Australians.
As I have listened to debate after debate in this Parliament during the 11 years I have been here, I have found four or five different attitudes expressed by honorable members on the other side. First there is the statistical approach. One does not have to know anything about returned soldiers; one does not have to know anything about the repatriation system. One can go to the statistical department of the Library or one can do some arithmetic for oneself, work out a few percentages and then make a speech. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) may be good at statistics, but we are not concerned with percentages; we are concerned with people.
Then we have the defensive role taken by the apologists like the Minister for Social Services - “ We did this last year, we did that the year before, and five years ago we did so and so.” In each case the Government was probably driven to do whatever it did as a result of demands from people who sit on the Government side of the House. I pay proper respect to them, but unfortunately when these matters come before the Parliament they will speak with one voice and vote with another. They are always on the defensive with regard to the repatriation scheme.
I do not suppose there is any perfect scheme. I suppose that when one is dealing with one and a half million people, including about a million who served in the Second World War and about 400,000 who served in the First World War, as well as the cumulative responsibilities of Korea and Vietnam, one is not going to produce a system free of anomalies. That is why the system is under constant examination. No part of our social service system, if I may refer to it in that way, has had more constant examination, more continual scrutiny or more effort to make it better. One has only to look at the schedule of amendments on the front of the printed copy of the Repatriation Act to see that this is so. There is a constant endeavour by the Parliament and by interested organisations to bring the system more into line with the needs of those concerned.
Another characteristic displayed by honorable members opposite is complacency: “ We have always done so well; we are the people who, as everybody knows, have the greatest care and regard for exservicemen “. This, of course, colours the way in which they approach the subject. It is why honorable members opposite vote against the interests of ex-servicemen,- as they will today when the House divides on the Opposition’s amendment to the Bill now before us. Then there is the smugness that flows through ministerial speeches and which is also related to the complacent attitude of which I have spoken.
Finally there is the attitude which is most miserable in this context, the one of parsimony - “ Look how much it will cost “. The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) referred to this. There are perhaps 60.000 ex-servicemen from the First World War to whom the advantages we seek would be extended if the House accepted our amendment or if we adopted the amendment to the Bill that was passed in the other place. There are 60,000 men who during the year will make perhaps one visit to a doctor, or who over a period of two or three years will perhaps make none. Some of them might require hospitalisation. We can estimate the numbers and the costs only by an examination of the figures relating to other people and by looking at the costs of other benefits. But it is significant that in recent years whenever this matter has been debated the Government has raised the ante, as one might say; the estimated cost has gone higher and higher.
I do not think parsimony should be tolerated in this connection. If this is a country which can spend $40 million on airports and $60 million on destroyers, it will not be placed in penury if it accepts the kind of responsibility that we are suggesting. So we place before the House the proposition that cancer should be accepted as a repatriation disability whether it is warcaused or not. We have debated this question of cancer quite often. I . looked up the subject in Chambers Encyclopaedia and this is what I found -
In the overwhelming majority of cases of cancer in the human subject the cause is quite unknown or obscure.
This is the point we make. We do not know what causes Cancer. It may or may not be accelerated or aggravated by war service. But we believe that this is one of the cases in which we should give the benefit of doubt. We could probably give a great deal of comfort to certainly a small number - at least one hopes it would be a small number - of citizens in the community by accepting this proposition. They could thus avoid the constant heartache of trying to battle through the repatriation system from the Department to the Commission, from the Commission to an Entitlement Tribunal, to an Assessment Appeal Tribunal, and so on. While such bodies are all commendable efforts on the part of the Parliament to correct by legislation a system which will supply the answer, in fact in these instances it does not. So the Opposition believes that all the evidence shows that cancer, being an unknown quantity caused by we know not what, should be accepted as a warcaused disability and that it is the duty of the Government to so accept it. This would cost the Government very little but would give great comfort to some people.
Then there are the wives of totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners. Years ago some wives of T.P.I, pensioners received medical benefits. Then that was amended, and thus the Government created an anomaly. We believe that giving the wives this benefit would not cost a great deal. The Government might even receive a bonus, because a wife receiving this benefit will look after the husband at home, thus keeping him out of the repatriation hospital. In fact, we owe to the wives of T.P.I, pensioners much the same kind of debt that we owe to the pensioners. In many cases a wife has looked after an invalid man for a long time, sometimes for 30 or 40 years. After returning from service that man may have been able to work for some time, but for years after that may not have been able to work, and the wife has accepted the responsibility. In most cases the dedication and devotion to their husbands of such wives has kept the men concerned out of hospital. To give these wives free medical and hospital treatment would be little enough indeed. With the great number of them who pass on year after year it does little good to come into this House and say that in five years time, according to the scale of progress we have been making in the last five years, these people can look forward to some acceptance by the Government of this responsibility.
I want to remind honorable members of the position of ex-servicemen from the 1914-18 war and the Boer War. I have debated this subject before. The Australian Labour Party took up this issue many years ago. I looked up the “ Hansard “ of the debate on this legislation in 1956, the first year in which I participated in a repatriation debate. Honorable members, if they look up the record, will find that I raised the question of the First World War man. Statistically - if we must deal with statistics - the First World War man’s chances of receiving’ assistance from the Repatriation Department are much less than those of the man who served in the Second World War. We on this side of the House have been campaigning on this subject for years, although not precisely in the present terms. I have no doubt that “Hansard” would show that people were saying all this long before I and some others arrived in this House. In the policy speech of the Australian Labour Party delivered on 15th October 1958, at the Assembly Hall, Margaret Street, Sydney, the Right Honorable Dr. Evatt had this to say -
The time has come when medical and repatriation hospital attendance and treatment should be available to all returned servicemen and nurses of the First World War irrespective of whether war entitlement is established.
That has been the policy of the Labour Party for the last eight years. We have pressed it in this House as often as we could. We have obtained increasing support throughout the community. We have received increasing support in the Senate. And now the Government has arrived at this point of embarrassment where it has to indulge in what might be called gimmickry or sharp parliamentary practice in order to avoid extending these benefits.
What is the position of the ex-servicemen from the First World War? The First World War was one of tremendous hardship. No person who cares to read the record of the First World War would doubt that it was a war of extreme hardship, great danger and almost terrifying cost in life and limb. Honorable members have only to walk into the Library and pick up a book on the history of that war, as I did a short time ago in preparation for this debate, drop it on the desk and read forward from the page at which it opens and they will find page after page describing the terrible conditions under which the First World War was fought. I will read this section. It relates to the third battle of Ypres, 31 July 1917. It states-
During the morning German airmen flew over, and from 2 until 6 p.m. the new positions, till then free from shell-lire, were heavily bombarded. To lessen the casualties, the working parties were temporarily withdrawn. Rain fell steadily. At dusk, when the tired 42nd and 43rd were about to be relieved by the 41st, the bombardment became intense.
And so it goes on, page after page. One can find that kind of thing in the history of the Second World War but it did not go on day after day, week after week and year after year as it did in the First World War. as revealed in the record. Reading on, you can find things like this about the “ Tragedy of August “. That is the sub-heading. The record states -
Yet in two respects the situation was not favourable.
The generals, of course, said it was favourable -
First, the rain continued to pour beyond all reasonable expectation. Even in the drained country far behind the battlefield the farmers’ carts had in places to splash for half-a-mile through shallow lakes of water on their way to the market towns. The battlefield became a bog; in every depression the flooded craters lay brim to brim like the footprints of monstrous animals in the slimy margin of some primeval waterhole. Streams and drains, their courses damned by the tearing up of the ground, were no more than a string of waterfilled mud-holes, in many places impassable. Elsewhere men could walk, but with effort.
Those were the conditions in which men fought in the First World War. Of course those conditions arc reflected in the casualties. The Australian casualties were the highest in the British armies. The general casualty rate was very high, but in sheer battle casualties Britain had 50.71 per cent., Canada 49.74 per cent., Australia 64.98 per cent., New Zealand 59.01 per cent, and India 12.77 per cent. 1 place these things on record for the benefit of those people who are young like, perhaps, the Minister for Social Services, in order to remind them that we are not dealing with something out of context when we try to give special consideration to the ex-servicemen from World War 1 - because the whole operation was out of context. There was nothing quite like it. There was nothing quite like it in the Second World War. We hope that nothing like it will happen again. Of the 330,000 Australians who sailed to take part in the First World War some 314,000 became casualties. They were not all battle casualties. A large number were sickness casualties. Tn fact, 416,809 enlisted, 330,000 of them sailed, I think, and 314,000 became casualties. About 180,000 of them were battle casualties, including 59,258 killed. This war was terribly destructive. Honorable members can see this for themselves when they look at the war memorials throughout Australia. You can bet that if there are 20 names on one of these memorials there will be four or five with crosses against them. When the figures are totalled we find that the number of men missing, wounded, sick or killed comes to almost 95 per cent, of those engaged.
In the Second World War Australia put about 993,000 into service. Total battle casualties from that war were about 1 80,000. I do not have the exact figures with me. I quoted them some 10 or 11 years ago. Honorable members opposite can turn to the record to find out what they were. It might do some of the younger members some good to see the figures for the Second World War. I think the total num ber of casualties was 180,000, including about 33,000 killed. I quote these statistics in order to put before the House, particularly young people like the Minister for Social Services, just how difficult it is, statistically, for the First World War men to establish repatriation benefit entitlements. If honorable members look at a graph of the figures they will find that in the First World War 330,000 men sailed away and that there were 180,000 casualties. In the Second World War 993,000 enlisted and 180,000, or thereabouts, were casualties. In the First World War 59,000 were killed and in the Second World War 33,000 were killed.
Considering the usual theme of honorable members opposite one might expect that ex-servicemen from the First World War would have a pretty high pension rate. Honorable members should turn to Table 5 of the annual report of the Repatriation Commission for 1965-66 and examine the statistical possibility or probability of World War I ex-servicemen obtaining a pension as against the chances of exservicemen from the Second World War. In the period from 1936 to 1940 76,462 incapacitated ex-servicemen were receiving pensions. This was one of the peak periods for ex-servicemen from World War I. That was the number of men receiving pensions at that time out of the total casualty estimate of somewhere between 180,000 and 200,000. Twenty years after the Second World War, 1965-66, 180,874 incapacitated ex-servicemen were receiving pensions. Twenty years after the First World War 76,462 ex-servicemen were receiving pensions - and there were nearly twice as many battle casualties in that war. Yet the Second World War figures reveal that nearly twice as many from that war are receiving war pensions. I am not saying that this was done with any conscious or direct discrimination against the First World War people.
It was not until 1943 that the repatriation system was amended by a committee chaired by the present member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who was then the honorable member for Ballaarat. He has a long and distinguished career in this House. That committee completely liberalised the system. If it were not for it the system would not have been changed yet, considering the record of the present Government, which never admits that anything needs amending. It was that committee which recommended the change in the onus of proof, lt was because of its work that under section 47 of the Repatriation Act the onus of proof was made to lie with the Commission in respect of all claims and appeals coming before it. There were some other illiberal provisions in it at the time. That is why we are stressing the position of the ex-serviceman from World War I. This is something different. It is not a question of need as such; it is not a question of comparison with what happens in Britain, Tibet, America, or anywhere else, nor is it a matter of what somebody else did in 1949. This is something different. For 50 years or more, the ex-servicemen from World War I have suffered difficulty in trying to prove their case before the repatriation authorities. Now this difficulty is being visited upon the wives. For perhaps 20 years or more many World War I ex-servicemen paid scant regard to their future repatriation needs. Therefore, the whole system is different. One has only to turn to the records to see that. Is there anyone in this House who can stand up and tell me why it is that the statistical probability of the exserviceman from the Second World War is so much more favorable than that of the ex-serviceman from World War I. 1 have been talking in this way for the last 10 or 11 years. The R.S.L. has been talking in this fashion for seven or eight years and the Australian Labour Party has been doing it for eight years. Probably other people said these things long before I began saying them. All I ask is that there be a reasoned approach to this matter by honorable members on the Government side. 1 want somebody to show where the error lies. That is why we place this matter before the House - particularly before every honorable member opposite who talks in a smug and complacent way about what he will do for the exserviceman, about his duty, and all the rest of it. Now is the time, to face the issue. If honorable members opposite vote with the Government on this issue, they will be denying the facts of history; they will be denying all the proof that I believe exists in the records.
This is not a question of irresponsibility; it is a plain question of acceptance of a different concept of social services and the entitlement of ex-servicemen from World War I. If the Government’s present approach is to linger for another 50 years, what is to happen to the men now serving in Vietnam. In the whole course of that conflict, perhaps 5,000, 6,000, 10,000 or 15,000 will be involved. They will be but a tiny drop in the community. They will not have any large pressure groups working for them. In 30 years’ time they will be forgotten. They are almost forgotten now by honorable members opposite when it comes to a question of entitlements.
Let me put this further point for the consideration of the Government: Young people of 20 are taken into the Army - young men who perhaps have never worked or who, if they have worked for two or three years, certainly would have been on a minimum salary. They serve for a couple of years. Something may happen to them which cripples them for the rest of their lives. I emphasise that they have never had full employment and they have never earned the full rate of pay. They are to be turned out on a T.P.I, pension which is less than the basic wage. I admit that there would be only a handful of them, but it must also be admitted that if the present principles are to be applied, these men are being conscripted into a lifetime of poverty.
We have to face this problem in a different way. We have to look at it in the light of circumstances in 1966, and as one of the richest nations in the world. We have to accept a commitment to exservicemen that has not always existed in the past. I have said here time and again, as have others, that the serviceman is in a completely different position in the community from anybody else. The final price of his service may be total sacrifice - something that cannot be measured in pounds, shillings and pence or dollars and cents. It must be measured as a plain straightforward duty. The community has to accept the same sort of commitment to the serviceman after his service is completed as the serviceman accepted during his service.
I am still hopeful that honorable members opposite will have second thoughts about this. I know that the First World War men in particular feel a great deal of satisfaction at being admitted to repatriation benefits, lt is not a question of money; to them it is almost a badge of honour. The position is slightly different with the Second World War servicemen because the scheme as applied to him is a little more generous.
The First World War men are a fairly closely knit group in the Australian community. There are several regiments and other units that meet monthly, year after year - and this after nearly half a century. To them the repatriation system, or the repatriation hospital when they are in need of medical attention ion, is a badge of service. lt is little enough for this community to do, and it is little enough for this Parliament to do. I only hope that honorable members opposite will take a close look at their consciences, that they will forget about statistics and realism and, just for once, vote for humanity.
– Mr. Acting Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to clarify a matter that was adumbrated in the House yesterday and which, to some extent, was dealt with by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) this afternoon. What we have before us at the moment is a Repatriation Bill that is similar to another Bill on the notice paper, except for two points. It is those two points that I would ask the House to note. I suggest that honorable members read the message on the front of the Bill that came down from the Senate, lt is a public Bill which originated in the Senate. In other words, it was regarded as a bill which it was within the province of the Senate to originate. I think the honorable member for Moreton will agree that, apart from what are known as money bills, the rights of the Senate to originate legislation are identical with those of this House. The Senate can debate and pass or reject bills which are not classed as money bills.
The Bill before us at the moment has been made into a money bill. It is different from the Bill which came down from the Senate in that clause 9 has been deleted and it has had added to it a clause 14, which makes it a money bill. It has an appropriation clause. I point out that section I 13 of the principal Act that we are seeking to amend - the Repatriation Act - provides for the appropriation procedure. Again, if the honorable member will examine pages 77, 78 and 79 of the Estimates he will see that the aggregate appropriation of $260,680,000 for the Department of Repatriation includes provision for all the pensions that are payable under both the existing legislation and the projected legislation.
I agree that if clause 9 of the earlier Repatriation Bill had been retained in this measure a greater cost would be involved, but it has been deleted, so no commitment additional to that covered by the Estimates is involved. There is no need for this Bill to be made into a money bill if the clause which was inserted by the Senate and which the Government regards as offensive is deleted. Hitherto, repatriation legislation has not been regarded as money legislation. I know that a certain procedure has been followed historically in some other Parliament - a procedure under which, at a certain stage, steps are taken to stop what were regarded as unethical processes. This was called tacking. If the honorable member for Moreton reads the provisions of the Australian Constitution, particularly those concerning relations between the two Houses of the Parliament, he will find that for particular reasons certain measures may not have various provisions tacked on to them. Provisions relating to the principles of taxation, for example, may not be combined in the same measure with provisions prescribing rates of tax. The two have to be dealt with in separate measures. Section 53 of the Constitution provides -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate.
I again make the point that the Repatriation Bill 1965 originated in the Senate and therefore, presumably, was not a proposed law appropriating revenue or moneys or imposing taxation. Why has the animal suddenly become transmuted into a totally different sort of animal - a money bill - merely because one clause is omitted and another added? 1 hope that the Senate will stand up for ils own rights. Far be it from me at this juncture to defend the rights of the Senate or to give away any of the rights of this House. As honorable members will know, on other occasions I have argued for the essentiality of the paramountcy, if one so likes to describe it, of this House in relation to money measures. But have we in Australia reached a stage in constitutional government at which, if the Government finds that a provision that it does not like is inserted in a measure in another place, the right of that House to debate certain measures effectively can be limited by the clever device of inserting in a measure introduced in this House what is a bogus appropriation clause? As I see it, that is what has been done in this instance. Why have the Repatriation Minister in the Senate if he is to be little less than a figurehead when it comes to debating repatriation measures?
The general practice with respect to repatriation legislation is different historically from that with respect to social services legislation. No doubt there are good reasons for this historical difference. If the honorable member for Moreton were to look, for instance, at the estimates for the Department of Social Services, he would find no provision in them for social service benefits. However, as I have pointed out, provision for repatriation benefits is made in the estimates for the Repatriation Department. What is the reason for the difference? I suggest that one of the reasons has been the desirability of allowing each House fully to debate the merits of repatriation legislation whenever it comes along. The Government has now adopted a tactical device. Honorable members opposite did not like the word “ subterfuge “ when I used it in this place yesterday. By a tactical device, the Government is converting what is essentially not a money bill into a money bill. Certain practices in the procedure of this House differ from those of the House of Commons. Honorable members opposite quote “ May’s Parliamentary Practice” with approval when it suits them. If the Speaker of the House of Commons attaches to a measure a certificate stating that it is a money bill, that is sufficient for the House of Lords. So far as I know we in Australia have never adopted a similar practice. There has always been some doubt about what is a money bill. But there has never seemed to be any doubt at all with respect to repatriation legislation. The mere fact that it has originated in the Senate has shown that it has in no sense been regarded as appropriation legislation.
The honorable member for Moreton seemed to me this afternoon to base his argument on the assumption that the amendment adopted by the Senate would increase the charge on revenue. The provision inserted in the Senate does not appear in the Bill now before us. Because that provision is not contained in this measure, there is no need for the appropriation clause. The only reason for the inclusion of that clause is to convert the original measure, which originated in the Senate, into one that the Senate may not amend. I believe that the trick is as simple as that.
– If I may interrupt the honorable member, I would like to say that my view was that the effect of the amendment was to convert what was not a money bill into a money bill.
– But that provision has been omitted from the Bill that we are now discussing. So the Government is back to precisely where it was and the appropriation clause is not needed. All I am suggesting is that there is only one reason for the addition of that clause. After all, this Bill has not yet been before the Senate. What the Government is now doing is ensuring that the Senate cannot insert in this Bill an amendment similar to that inserted in the original measure. Apparently the Government was a bit slow in waking up to this device. On Tuesday afternoon we received the original measure passed by the Senate. Apparently the Government had not thought that there would have been any inhibitions about it. Then there were frenzied comings and goings and now we have received what purports to be an entirely new bill, though this is not so in fact. It is different in two respects. One clause has been omitted and another has been added. The clause omitted is the one that was added by the Senate to the original measure that originated there. The clause added to the Bill that is now before us is one that will prevent the Senate from inserting in this Bill an amendment similar to that inserted in the original measure. As I have said, I hope that the Senate will assert its rights and say: “We will not treat with this bogus Bill. What is wrong with the Bill that we transmitted to the House of Representatives? Why has not the other House of Her Majesty’s Parliament given its concurrence? The measure now foisted on us is one from which certain words have been omitted and to which certain other words have been added. The words added limit our rights “. I hope that the Senate will see this measure for what it is.
Perhaps there are not many occasions, Mr. Acting Speaker, when the question of the respective rights of the two Houses comes up. I believe that each House should respect the constitutional rights of the other. I certainly respect the rights of the Senate and 1 shall fight to the finish to preserve the rights of this House in respect of what are legitimately regarded as money bills. The measure at present before us I would describe as merely a contrivance designed to thwart the will of the Senate. The honorable member for Moreton is a lawyer, though perhaps not yet one of distinction. That is something he has not had an opportunity to acquire in the legal field. He may have an opportunity in a few months’ time to begin to acquire that distinction. I am sure that he fully appreciates the point that I am making here. Certain bills ought legitimately to be regarded as money bills. The Senate can never amend them, though sometimes it transmits to this House a request for an amendment. In fact, it is difficult to know what is the difference between a request, if it is insisted on, and an amendment. However, the difference is there. The Senate may not amend a money bill, though it may reject it in its entirety. I suggest that it can do that with the Bill that we are now discussing. I have no doubt that, if it did, the honorable member for Moreton would immediately say that it was denying the poor old diggers the right to receive their pension increases on a certain date
There is no doubt that the effect ot omitting the provision that the Senate, in its wisdom, chose to insert in the original measure is to deny a right that a majority of senators considered should be accorded to the oldest of the diggers in Australia - those who served in the Boer War, noi many of whom are left, and the dwindling number of veterans of the First World War. It seems to me that the provision inserted by the Senate in the original measure is fairly permissive rather than mandatory, as the honorable member for Moreton would see if he were to read it carefully. It is in these terms -
The Commission may, subject to such conditions as it from time to time determines, provide medical and hospital treatment for a member of the Forces as defined in section twenty-three of the Act and for a person to which section one hundred and twenty of this Act applies.
According to the side note that means members of the forces of the 1914-18 war and the South African War. The amendment seemed to me to be quite flexible as regards the rate at which the benefit could be introduced. I think it was felt in the other place that if everybody tomorrow could avail himself of these services there would be an immediate strain on resources, but the proposed section need not have such an effect. It leaves it to the Commission to move as slowly as it likes but at least it recognises that part of the Parliament felt that these classifications of ex-servicemen were deserving of an extension of benefits. As for the procedures of the Parliament, apparently it was quite legitimate to insert that clause into the Bill in the other place, where the Bill originated. In view of the flexibility in the rate at which this benefit could be introduced, I wonder whether the Minister is prepared to indicate just what this benefit would cost. I think the cost would be very slight in the remaining part of this financial year. Certainly it would not be beyond the resources of this Commonwealth to provide. No estimate has been given of the cost of providing this benefit. Rather has the Government tended to panic. I think the Government has behaved incredibly stupidly over this matter. I am surprised that the honorable member for Moreton should have allowed himself to be the vehicle for explaining constitutionally what is really a rather unethical way of superseding the accepted rights of the Senate as far as repatriation legislation is concerned.
– Speaking to the amendment, the question immediately before the House is why the Government is not prepared to accept a proposal emanating from another place that certain additional treatment be provided under the repatriation system. There are two specific reasons why this Bill has been introduced. The first reason was given to the House by the former Prime Minister when a similar question arose in 1965. On that occasion Sir Robert Menzies said -
If we look at the matter in point of substance - and the Government looks at it in point of substance - it is quite clear that if the Government were to accept an amendment which was carried against its will in the Senate, and which involved substantial expenditure, what would have happened would have been that the Senate would have amended the law and the effect of the amendment in fact, whether or not in law, would have been to increase the burden on the people. This is so because if carried on into the Estimates it would add to the expenditure side of the Budget by £2 million, £3 million, £4 million, or, I have been told, up to £5 million. Without attempting to discuss the merits of the particular proposal I just want to say that no government can accept a position in which the other place can, in effect, dictate what is to be spent on the annual accounts of the Government.
That is an answer in substantial degree to the points that have been raised by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean). The honorable member referred to the original Bill which had been introduced into the Senate by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar). What the honorable member must appreciate also is that this Bill gives effect to part of the Budget. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and other honorable members have during the debate explained that this is a budgetary measure. For about 12 years, the Minister for Repatriation was in the Senate. I refer to Senator Sir Walter Cooper. During that time it became customary for repatriation legislation to be introduced in the Senate, although such legislation was equally at that time a budget matter. In addition to the penetrating analysis of the constitutional and procedural position given to us by the honorable member for Moreton we have had the matter examined carefully by all the authorities concerned and the consensus is that the measure now before us is completely in accordance with the procedures of both Houses and in accordance with the Standing Orders of this chamber. So from that point of view we are quite within our rights in introducing the Bill in this form.
The second point I wish to refer to is the urgency of this measure. The Government feels that it has a serious and binding obligation to keep faith with those pension ers for whom increased rates of pension were foreshadowed in the Budget Speech and who reasonably expect to receive their first payment at about this time. The Government therefore wishes to conclude the consideration of this budget Bill so that payments at the increased rate may be made without delay on Thursday of next week.
Two points were raised yesterday by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) to which I did not have the opportunity to reply. He stated categorically that the second reading speech I was attempting to make on this new budget Bill was in the same terms as the speech I had made in introducing the previous Bill, which appears on the notice paper. Apparently the honorable gentleman had not studied very carefully the copy of my speech that I have given to him. If he had he would have seen that there was a substantial difference between the two speeches. That is the first point on which he was wrong. The honorable gentleman said also that in my speech, up till the time I was prevented from continuing, I had not referred to the fact that this was an appropriation measure. Again the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was entirely incorrect. He had been sitting at the table listening to me. The “ Hansard “ report for yesterday at page 1344 shows that I said that the Bill appropriated the amount necessary from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. I referred to the clause which is in the new Bill. So again the Deputy Leader of the Opposition either had not carefully studied my speech or had deliberately tried to mislead the House.
In my second speech which I was prevented from concluding yesterday I was setting out a number of points of substance in relation to the Bill. I had intended to introduce a point relating to the Social Services Bill. The normal practice for many years has been that the Social Services Bill giving effect to budget proposals has always been an appropriation measure. I think it is significant to realise that our repatriation system, despite the criticism levelled at it during this debate, is still one of the best in the world. From comparisons that I had taken out some years ago it was obvious according to our records that at the time our system was the best. I think the same situation applies today.
There have been extensive changes in the system since 1949. When this Government came to office early in 1950 there was a complete review of our repatriation system. To support the claims I have made, let me refer to some of the increases that have been made in rates of pension. In 1949 the special, or totally and permanently incapacitated, pension rate was equal to $10.60. Today is has gone up to $30.50- an increase of $19.90. A new intermediate rate was introduced last year for the first time, and is now $21.25. The old intermediate rate for class B tuberculosis patients was $8 in 1949. It has been increased to $21.25, an increase of $13.25 in that time. The general rate has increased from the equivalent of $5.50 in 1949 to $12 at present, an increase of $6.50. The war widows’ pension similarly has increased from $6 in 1949 to $13 at present, an increase of $7. In addition, service pensions have increased from $4.25 to $13 in the same period, an increase of $8.75. I refer to these increases merely to show that, despite the Opposition’s criticism, very substantial increases have been made in the pension rates and many additional benefits have been provided, thus substantially broadening the scope of the scheme.
In debating the measure now before the House, honorable members have concentrated on the Senate’s amendment relating to hospital treatment. But the Opposition entirely overlooked that the legislation confers a range of other benefits. In this Bill the total and permanent incapacity rate will be increased from $28.50 to $30.50. The rate payable to certain double amputees will also be increased. The intermediate rate of war pension will be increased. The war widows’ pension and the full range of service pensions will also be increased by this measure. Those are the payments I had in mind a moment ago when I said it is necessary for this Bill to be passed as an urgent Budget measure so that the payments can be made to pensioners at the first possible date, in accordance with the promise we gave to them in the Budget and to coincide with the date of payment of the increased social services. I do stress to the House that this Bill is an urgent Budget measure and must be treated in that way.
I have referred to a number of matters that are of importance, but I want also to deal now with one point that was raised by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard). He said that a Repatriation Bill had been amended in the Senate earlier this year and that the amendment in a certain form had been accepted by this House at the time. Of course, that is quite correct. However, he did not say that the Bill being dealt with then was not a Budget measure. It was not introduced in the context of the Budget at the time. The Bill before us is a Budget measure. It was announced by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) in his Budget speech, and is part of the overall Budget proposals before the House at the present time. Mr. Acting Speaker, I referred to urgency. To conform to my reference, I will not deal with quite a number of other matters that I had intended to deal with at the outset. I will conclude by saying again that this is an important Budget matter. It conforms completely to the Standing Orders of the House and to the forms of the House. I ask that it be given a speedy passage, through both this House and another place, so that, in accordance with the undertaking we gave, payment can be made to the pensioners on Thursday of next week.
is an urgent Bill.
Question put -
That the Bill be considered an urgent Bill.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the time allotted in connection with the Bill be as follows -
For the second reading, until 5.25 p.m., this day;
For the Committee stage, until 9 p.m., this day;
For the remaining stages, until 9.10 p.m., this day.
.- Mr. Acting Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the time allotted for the Bill be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority .. .. 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
-Order! The time allotted for the second reading has now expired. The question is: “ That this Bill be now read a second time “, to which the honorable member for Lalor has moved as an amendment that all words after “ That “ be omitted with a view to inserting other words in place thereof. The immediate question is: “ That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question “.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Acting Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority .. .. 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Proposed new clause 2a.
– I move-
That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill:- “ 2a. After section 21 of the Principal Act the following Part is inserted: -
Partiia. - Joint Committee on Repatriation.
– (1.) As soon as practicable after the commencement of this Part, and as soon as practicable after the commencement of the first session of each Parliament, a joint committee of nine members of the Parliament, to be called the Joint Committee on Repatriation, shall be appointed according to the practice of the Parliament with reference to the appointment of members to serve on joint committees of both Houses of the Parliament. (2.) Three members of the Committee shall be members of, and shall be appointed by, the Senate. and six members of the Committee shall be members of, and shall be appointed by, the House of Representatives. 22a. The members of the Committee shall hold office as a Joint Committee until the House of Representatives for the time being expires by dissolution or effluxion of time. 22B. - (I.) Any member of the Committee may resign his seat on the Committee by writing under his hand addressed to the President of the Senate if he be a Senator, or to the Speaker of the House of Representatives if he be a member of the House of Representatives. (2.) The scat of any member of the Committee shall be deemed to have become vacant if he ceases to be a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives, as the case may be. 22c. Where the seat of any member of the Committee becomes vacant, it shall be filled by appointment according to the practice referred to in section twenty-two of this Act within fifteen sitting days after the happening of the vacancy if the House of the Parliament of which he is a member is then silting, or, if not. then within fifteen sitting days after the next meeting of that House. 22D. There shall be a Chairman and a ViceChairman of the Committee, who shall be elected by the members of the Committee at their first meeting, or as soon thereafter as is practicable. 22e. At any meeting of the Committee -
five members shall form a quorum;
the Chairman or, in his absence, the Vice-Chairman or, in the absence of both the Chairman and the ViceChairman, a member elected by the members present, shall preside;
all questions shall be decided by a majority of the votes of the members present; and
the Chairman or other member presiding shall have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of votes, shall also have a casting vote. 22f. The Committee may sit and transact business during any adjournment or recess as well as during the session, and may sit at such times (including times while either House of the Parliament is actually sitting) and in such places, and conduct their proceedings in such manner, as they deem proper. 22c. The Committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records. 22h. The powers, privileges and immunities of the Committee and of its members shall be those of each of the Houses of the Parliament and of its members and its committees. 22j. The Committee shall examine the Repatriation Act and regulations and, in a report to the Parliament, recommend amendments necessary to be made in the Act and regulations to remove existing anomalies and improve their provisions.’.”.
This amendment provides for the establishment of a joint committee on repatriation. I direct the attention of the Committee to what I consider to be the relevant part of the amendment. I refer to proposed section 22J which states -
The Committee shall examine the Repatriation Act and regulations and, in a report to the Parliament, recommend amendments necessary to be made in the Act and regulations to remove existing anomalies and improve their provisions.
This amendment to the Repatriation Bill has been proposed in other years and the Opposition makes no apology for bringing this amendment forward again. We believe that this is a matter to which the Government should give very serious consideration. We believe the amendment should be accepted by the Committee and I submit it on behalf of the Opposition. The last Committee which was established by the Parliament to consider the Repatriation Act was appointed in 1943 - 23 years ago - and the Opposition believes that in the intervening period there have arisen, as a result of alterations to the Act, many anomalies which should be removed. Noone on this side of the House suggests that the Opposition wants to take out of the hands of the Government the question of policy in regard to the Repatriation Act.
Nor is this suggested in the amendment. The amendment merely proposes that a committee be established for the purpose of reviewing an Act which has not been examined carefully since 1943. 1 remind honorable members that in 1943 the Curtin Government appointed a committee for this purpose. Its chairman was the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). That committee carefully considered the Repatriation Act. It is true that its consideration was in the light of contingencies which might have arisen as a result of ex-servicemen being discharged at the conclusion of the Second World War. Having deliberated very carefully on this matter the committee came back to this House with some very serious proposals for consideration of Parliament. One proposal was for an amendment to section 47 of. the Act relating to onus of proof. The Parliament considered the proposals recommended on that occasion by the Joint Committee and accepted without qualification the recommendations made. In addition to recommending an amendment to the . onus of proof provision, the committee recommended also the automatic acceptance of tuberculosis as a war caused disability. Nobody questioned the competency of the committee to make this recommendation which has since been included in the Act and has remained there for 23 years. No government has taken action to remove that provision from the Repatriation Act. I propose merely to remind the Committee of at least two recommendations made by the repatriation committee which have since been incorporated in the Repatriation Act.
Surely no honorable member would seriously suggest that there is not an urgent need to review the Repatriation Act. The Act has been amended from time to time by legislation introduced into this Parliament, but much of the work which flows from the Act is authorised by regulation. The Opposition believes that this situation should not apply. It considers that there exist a number of anomalies which should be removed from the Act and that a number of new provisions should be incorporated in the Act. Surely a competent committee of inquiry would be in a position to make these recommendations.
May I suggest one or two of the matters that a committee of this kind should be able to investigate and report on. If the previous committee was able to make very sound recommendations on two matters that I have already referred to, surely another committee would be able to assess the merit or otherwise of one of the propositions we have discussed in this Parliament this afternoon, that is whether ex-servicemen of the First World War or the Boer War should be entitled to full medical treatment, whether their disabilities are warcaused or not. The committee could also investigate the question of the automatic acceptance of cancer as a war-caused disability. This is another proposition that has frequently been put to the Government by the Returned Services League, and I suggest that a committee of inquiry such as I am suggesting could make a thorough investigation of this proposition.
But quite apart from these considerations there is the fact that the Repatriation Act has been amended many times over a very long period, and it is our considered opinion that a review of the legislation should now be made. What has the Government got to hide? Why is it not prepared to appoint this committee? The Government has not hesitated to appoint other committees. It appointed the Constitutional Review Committee to investigate certain matters relating to the Constitution. It was an all-party committee and although the members in many instances held widely divergent views on matters affecting the Constitution, the Committee was able to produce a unanimous report. The fact that the Government has chosen to ignore the report is beside the point. The Government has appointed many other committees. It has now appointed one, for instance, to consider the question of a new Parliament House. But the Government has consistently refused to recognise the need for a committee to investigate the Repatriation Act.
Even if the Committee made no worthwhile suggestions, what harm would it have done by investigating the present system? I believe that such a committee could help to remove many existing anomalies. We all remember the difficulty that the Government faced earlier this year when it attempted to amend the Repatriation Act to make provision for servicemen proceeding to what the Government then termed special areas. Every member of this Parliament realised the difficulties that confronted the Government on that occasion. This is the kind of anomaly that we believe the suggested committee would help to remove. The Government should never have been in the position of having to accept an amendment moved in another place to make provisions for servicemen travelling overseas. We believe that the proposed committee would be of great help, but the fact is that the Government has consistently refused to accept suggestions for its appointment. On this occasion as on others-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Mackinnon). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I gladly support the amendment proposed by my colleague, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard). There are many provisions in the Repatriation Act that could well be investigated by a committee such as that suggested. It is all too long since we had a review of our repatriation system. I remind the Committee that it is 23 years since a thorough investigation was made. There are some matters that would be obvious fields of inquiry. One matter is that of the present pension rates. The Government ought at least to be impressed by the spokesman for the Returned Services League. When we find Sir Arthur Lee, the President of the League, making statements such as that which he made on 23rd August of this year, it is time the Government took some notice. Sir Arthur Lee said -
The executive stated that pension values when compared with the Commonwealth basic wage were at an all-time low, being less than in 1949 when the Government carried out a general review and approved an increase in every pension category
There is not only the matter of the rates of pensions and their relationship to each other and to various indexes that are used in the community; there are many people who would suggest that with this matter of what is called the war pension but should be called war compensation it is about time we adopted the notion of relating the pension rate to some steady measure of the nation’s ability to pay or of the cost of living at a particular time. We should not have to come into the House and debate pension rates year after year. They should be related to some index commonly used in the community, whether it be the cost of living or the basic wage or the average adult male earnings or some other such criterion. This is a matter that ought to be investigated.
I would particularly like to see the whole matter of service pensions and the means test applying to them subjected to such an inquiry. In the last few weeks we have frequently seen honorable members opposite posturing and declaring their interest in the abolition of the means lest. Well, a good place to start is with the service pension that is given to the old digger or the invalid digger who has not been able to prove that his disabilities were war-caused. We all know what kind of difficulty some old diggers have faced in their attempts to do so. They have had to appear before boards, commissions and tribunals, and still have been unsuccessful. If we want to start easing or abolishing the means test this is the area in which to do so. There has been a good deal of discussion in this debate about free hospital treatment for all ex-servicemen of the First World War and the Boer War. This proposition, if honorable members will only recognise the fact, involves the means test, because if we did not have the means test all these men who served in those two wars would automatically be entitled to the service pension or part of it and presumably would automatically be entitled to the medical and hospital benefits that go with it. So all the posturing of honorable members opposite about abolishing the means test is very pertinent to this question of setting up a joint committee of inquiry.
The Returned Services League has indicated to various honorable members, at least those of the Opposition, its very great concern about what the Government is not doing at the moment. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has just handed me a telegram that he has received from Mr. W. H. Hall, State President of the Victorian Branch of the Returned Services League. It is in these terms -
Your help appreciated by the Victorian Branch members who support action of national R.S.L. seeking concurrence of Government members in House of Representatives to grant free hospital benefits to Boer and First World War men.
A similar telegram was received from the President of the South Australian Branch, Mr. Eastick.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! The honorable member is getting a bit wide of the amendment.
– This will all become part of an inquiry, I suggest. Mr. Eastick said -
Whilst appreciating your support for hospitalisation for World War 1 men we in South Australia arc solidly behind our national body in its submission and appeal to all members of the House of Representatives for some positive action to see justice done. 1 suggest that Mr. Eastick is not biased in favour of the Labour Party. 1 understand that he is a vice-president of the Liberal Party in South Australia. But he is trying to jog the Government into some recognition of the out of date character of provisions of the Repatriation Act, whether in respect of hospitalisation; pensions or the relaxation of the means test that applies. All these things are deserving of consideration.
There is an added feature existing now to justify the setting up of another committee of inquiry. We now have men fighting in another war. This is a new situation, and here again the R.S.L. has tried to prod the conscience of the Government and make the Government remember that there are men now being conscripted to serve overseas in foreign wars. It is quite on the cards that some of them are going to be injured to such an extent that they will be maimed for the rest of their lives, that they will become totally and permanently incapacitated. That is not a stretch of the imagination and it is not meant to frighten people. The simple fact is that some of them already have died in these wars abroad.
We know what a struggle, it has been for ex-servicemen to get recognition from this Government. It was a battle even to get the Government to bring home the bodies of those killed in the present war. We not only have to fight for ex-servicemen of past wars, we have to fight for members of the Services currently engaged in new military activities on behalf of this country. These are things which are very much in need of investigation. There is the present position, also justifying inquiry, regarding the number of pensioners now being looked after. We have now reached the stage, fortunately in one way, where the number of people receiving a war pension is static. The annual report of the Repatriation Commission for 1965-66 says that in 1964-65 there were, in round figures, 223,000 exservicemen receiving a war pension. In 1965-66, the figure was still 223,000. The number of dependants of incapacitated ex-servicemen was 379,000 in 1964-65. The figure was down to 365,000 in 1965-66. The same thing applies in respect of service pensions. In round figures they are static at 45,000. In the number of dependants of deceased ex-servicemen there was a slight reduction. And so I could go on referring to these matters. This is a new situation. The country is more affluent than it was 23 years ago, surely, so there ought to be a new concept of compensation. We should not be asking people who are totally and permanently incapacitated to live on less than the basic wage. The Government is quick enough-
– I cannot hear the honorable member.
– The honorable member will hear me, and I think every R.S.L. sub-branch member will hear me. I do not think that the honorable member for Gippsland will be too willing to visit the next sub-branch meeting in his area and account for his attitude in relation to the Government’s indecent hurry in pushing this measure through, and the disgraceful procedures it has used to deny ex-servicemen rights the recognition of which the R.S.L. says is now becoming more and more urgent.
The Government is quick enough to tell us that there are not many adults who have to exist on the basic wage these days. The shame of it is that people who have served this country in time of war, even permanently and totally incapacitated exservicemen, have to live on something substantially less than the basic wage. What is more, the Government denies many of their wives repatriation benefits and hospital benefits. It denies to ex-servicemen who have served abroad automatic acceptance of a heart condition, a cancer condition or a psychiatric condition as being war caused. These are all fields which might well be thoroughly investigated by the committee of inquiry recommended by the honorable member for Bass.
There are many other features of the Repatriation Act that should be looked at, for example, hospitalisation of service pensioners. Every honorable member knows that a service pensioner is limited to a period of three months in a repatriation hospital within any 12 months period. What happens to such a man when he finishes his three months period? He then has to go into a private convalescent home and his sorely tried wife - in terms of pension allowances - has to meet the very heavy commitment of hospitalisation in such a home. These are just some of the features which I suggest demand urgent attention by the Parliament.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 6.1. to 8 p.m.
The DEPU’IY CHAIRMAN (Hon. W. C. Haworth). - The question is, “ That the clause proposed to be inserted be so inserted “.
Question resolved in the negative. [Quorum formed.]
Clauses 3 to 8 agreed to.
Proposed new clause 8a.
.- I move-
Thai [he following new clause be inserted in the Bill- “ 8a Section 100 of the Principal Act is amended by inserting after paragraph (b) of the definition of ‘ member of the forces ‘ the following paragraph -
a representative of the Salvation Army
– I rule that the proposed new clause would not be in order as its effect would be to increase the amount of the appropriation required.
– I move-
Thai the ruling be dissented from. (Mr. Barnard having submitted his objec tion in writing) -
Question put. The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Hon. W. C. Haworth.)
Majority .. .. 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause 8b.
.- Mr. Deputy Chairman, I move -
That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill- “8b. After section 123 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - 123a. The Commission may, subject to such conditions as it from timeto lime determines, provide for the wife of a person in receipt of the Special Kate of pension under the Second Scheduleto this Act such medical benefits as she would receive if she were the wife of a person eligible for medical benefits under the Pensioner Medical Service.’ “.
You can see, Sir, that the purpose of the amendment-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! I rule that the proposed amendment is not in order as its effect would be to increase the amount of the appropriation required.
– The proposed new clause is designed to extend benefits to wives.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! I have given the ruling of the Chair.
– I wish to move that your ruling be dissented from, Mr. Deputy Chairman.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - If the honorable member wishes to do that, he will have to submit his motion in writing.
(Mr. Reynolds having submitted his objection to the ruling in writing) -
Motion (by Mr. Reynolds) put -
That the ruling be dissented from.
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Hon. W. C. Haworth.)
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause 8c.
.- I move-
That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill:- “ 8c. After section 123 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - 123b. The Commission may, subject to such conditions as it from time to time determines, provide medical and hospital treatment for a member of the Forces as defined in section twentythree of this Act and for a person to whom section one hundred and twenty of this Act applies.’.”.
I must be apparent to anybody who has studied our repatriation system that the provision embodied in the amendment is a simple act of justice-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! I direct the honorable member’s attention to the fact that I have ruled that a new clause cannot be inserted in the Bill if its effect will be to increase the amount of appropriation required. I rule therefore that the honorable member’s proposed amendment is out of order.
.- I move -
That the ruling be dissented from. (Mr. Pollard having submitted his objection in writing) -
– Mr. Deputy Chairman, I rise to order-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! The honorable member for Lalor has moved dissent from my ruling. That is the only matter before the Chair.
– I think I am entitled to-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! No point of order may be taken while a motion is before the Chair.
– Surely I can raise a point of order at this stage.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! The honorable member for Lalor has moved dissent from my ruling. That matter must be dealt with first.
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Hon. W. C. Haworth.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clauses 9 to 1 3 agreed to.
Clause 14 (Appropriation).
– This clause could be called the burden of complaint by the Opposition.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! There is far too much conversation in the chamber.
– The clause states-
The Consolidated Revenue Fund is appropriated to the extent necessary for the purpose of making any payment of pension or other benefit in pursuance of the Principal Act as amended by this Act.
I would direct the attention of the Committee to two matters that I raised during the second reading debate. The principal Act - the Repatriation Act 1920-1965- provides in section 113 for what is virtually a permanent appropriation for repatriation. The section states -
All sums of money granted in pursuance of this Act, other than moneys raised under section one hundred and ten or contributed under section one hundred and fourteen, shall be payable out of moneys from time to time appropriated by Parliament for the purpose.
I said during my speech in the second reading debate that the full amount of pensions currently payable, plus the sum necessary to meet the pensions projected when the Budget was framed, is already contained in the estimates for the Repatriation Department. I think the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) will concede that as the contentious clause, which would have imposed an additional impost on the revenues of the Commonwealth, has been withdrawn, no additional appropriation is required to meet repatriation payments. Therefore, the only reason for including clause 14 in the Bill is to deny to the Senate the opportunity
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! There is far too much conversation.
– I can understand the indifference of the Government on this matter.
– What about the noise behind the honorable member?
– I remind the Committee of the enthusiasm shown during the Estimates debate by one or two honorable members on the other side for the rights of Parliament, and their comments about Parliament becoming a rubber stamp. I point out to all honorable members that, rightly or wrongly, the Parliament consists of two Houses. I hope that some day we will have a unicameral system, but until we do, certain rights are inherent in this place and certain rights are inherent in another place. One of the accepted rights of what has been called the other place is the right to initiate repatriation legislation. Except for a very few of the last 15 years, Ministers for Repatriation in this Government have come from the Senate. The present Minister for Civil Aviation for a very short time was Minister for Repatriation in this House and a former member for Evans was Minister for Repatriation for a short time. However, most repatriation bills have been initiated in the Senate. As I said earlier, the original Bill, which still stands on the notice paper and which is identical with this Bill except for one clause that is omitted and one clause that is inserted, was introduced in the Senate in the full belief that the Senate had the capacity to initiate the legislation. Now, by what is nothing else but a tactical device, the Government is denying rights to the Senate, because it knows that the numbers in the Senate are against it-
– You have been stonewalling all afternoon. That is a device, too.
– You were conspicuous by your absence for most of the afternoon.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! The Committee will come to order.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong is entitled to talk about stonewalling, if he wants to do so. All I say is that what he calls stonewalling we call giving some rights to some people. When it suits honorable members opposite, as it will in the next few weeks, they go along to smoke nights with these people and claim that they are all for the diggers. But they are prepared to take away from two sections of diggers the rights that they need more than any other section does. I point out to honorable members that this amendment is quietly constructive. It does not give any final decision but simply leaves the decision to the Commission, in its discretion, according to the capacity of various hospitals to take Boer War veterans. How old would a Boer War veteran be in 1966? If the honorable member is so clever, let him calculate how many Boer War veterans are left and justify, if he can, why they should not be brought within the provisions of this clause. Then we should consider the veterans of the First World War.
As I see it, the amendment is eminently desirable but because it was initiated by members of the Australian Labour Party with the chance adhesion of some other people - but nevertheless with the 51 per cent, or more that is required in the Senate to secure a certain decision - honorable members opposite have gone around all the established precedents relating to parliamentary government in Australia. As I pointed out this afternoon, there are only certain bills in respect of which the Senate has not the same rights as the House of Representatives, and those are money bills. By a trick, and it is nothing more than a trick - and out of respect for the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) who is sitting at the table I will not use the word “ subterfuge “ - or by a constitutional contrivance or a tactical device the Government has turned what was never a money bill into a money bill in order to deny the Senate the right that has been allowed to it, at least for the whole term of the present Government.
I ask honorable members on the Government side to look at the Repatriation Bills that have been introduced from 1951 to 1966 - and I remind them that in only two years was there a Minister for Repatriation in this House - and see the procedures that were followed. The present procedure is being followed in defiance of 13 years out of 15 when a different procedure was followed, and it is being done simply because of a chance majority in the Senate. But surely every member of the Senate is entitled to the same honest expression of his opinion as is anybody here. With all respect to the honorable member for Maribyrnong I should like him to give an honest expression of his views and to say whether he thinks there is any merit in the amendment introduced in the other House. The amendment that was inserted in the Senate is now deleted and I suggest that because it is now deleted there is no need for extra appropriation by this chamber. The full appropriation is contained in the Estimates. The clause that I am moving to have deleted is purely a contrivance - and I use that word deliberately. If the Minister takes exception to it perhaps he will look in the dictionary .to see what “ contrivance “ means. All I say is that this is a contrivance taken for political advantage to deny the rights of the Senate.
As I said earlier, I am not here to maintain the rights of the Senate. I hope that the Senate will maintain its own rights when this Bill goes back to it and I hope it will say: “The only bill we are going to treat upon is the one that we had ‘the right :o initiate in our House two or three weeks ago and which is left undebated on the notice paper of the House of Representatives “. Therefore, I ask the Committee in the interests of the relative rights of the two parts of this Parliament - and if there is any sort of dispassionate approach on the other side perhaps an odd one or two members, including the honorable member for Maribyrnong, will cross the floor to vote with us - and in the interests of constitutional propriety, to support the amendment.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
-Parting Downs- Minister for Civil Aviation) [8.45]. - One or two points arising from the comments of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) should be clarified. First, he referred to the introduction of bills in the Senate on previous occasions. I explained earlier in debating this measure that one of the principal reasons for the procedure was that for a period of 12 years the Minister for Repatriation was in the Senate, then, for a brief period only, the Minister was in the House of Representatives, and now the Minister is in the Senate. The Minister normally wishes to introduce his own particular legislation, but we have not had a situation like this arise before - except on one occasion - where the Senate has disallowed what is virtually a Budget measure. I stress this point. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports did not refer to it. He has dealt with this as a measure in isolation, but I must draw his attention to the fact that it is part of the Budget and the Government cannot have the Senate taking the financial control out of the hands of the Government. In fact, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports did admit this particular philosophy in his speech, but then he referred to the situation critically. He referred to all precedents being “ gone around” - that was the term he used - to overcome this particular problem. That, to some degree, is a reflection on the forms of the House and on the Standing Orders of the House, because this particular measure conforms exactly to the forms of the House and to Standing Order No. 292.
He referred to the clause that he seeks to disallow but he did not say that if the clause is disallowed and the Bill passes without it the people who are to receive the benefits included in the legislation -
And the very reason why this is an urgent bill is that we hope to pay them next week - will not receive the benefit as soon as intended. I should like those who perhaps do not understand this situation and who perhaps have had information given to them only in relation to the Senate amendment, to realise that the people who are concerned in this Bill and who will receive increases - those receiving the totally and permanently incapacitated rate of war pension, those who are to receive an increase in the intermediate rate of war pension, the war widows and, under other legislation, the service pensioners; but principally the first three categories I have mentioned - will not receive the benefits until later than intended if the honorable member succeeds in his intention to delete this particular clause from the Bill and the Bill goes through without this particular appropriation aspect. I should like to make that quite clear to the Committee. This is the problem that is involved. I draw attention again to the fact that this is a Budget measure implementing proposals that were approved by the House of Representatives in the Budget, and we are asking now for it to be passed urgently so that next week payments can be made to the people concerned.
Mr. FULTON (Leichhardt) [8.491.- 1 support the Opposition amendment. I do not think that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) has been really fair dinkum in commenting on the Opposition’s attitude. First, the Bill itself does not deprive persons from receiving increased benefits, because they can be backdated or made to apply from any date. This Bill, however, replaces the Bill introduced by the Minister for Repatriation in the Upper House and which a majority of members in that House approved. This is a substitute bill. If the other Bill had come into this House we would have been discussing the Senate’s recommendations. After all, this Bill relates to First World War and Boer War veterans and we must remember that their medical histories were not as up to date or comprehensive as were those of servicemen in the Second World War. Many of the veterans of the First World War and the Boer War are receiving only a service pension, not a war pension. Many of them should be receiving a war disability pension, but owing to the lack of medical records it has not been possible to determine whether their ailments were war caused. Therefore, they receive only a service pension which is the equivalent of the age pension.
The previous Bill sought to give these people the right to medical treatment. After all, there are not so many of them left now. The expenditure incurred would not be continuing. Instead, it would diminish as the years passed. To grant them this concession would not add to the burden on the taxpayers. Honorable members on the Government side should consider that aspect. Even the Minister, who has taken an active part in the affairs of the Returned Services League, should know that this matter has been thrashed out by the R.S.L. over the years. As I have said, they should be granted this small concession because the tribunals and medical boards, owing to the inaccuracy and even lack of medical records, cannot determine whether the ailments suffered by these veterans have bees war caused. I submit that in normal circumstances many of their complaints would be accepted by the Repatriation Department as being war caused. Many of these old diggers served in areas where they were affected by gas but this fact was never entered in their medical histories and thenclaim will not be believed unless they can get evidence from men who served with them to substantiate it. But after all these years it is very difficult to obtain that evidence.
In my own electorate - I suppose this applies also to many other honorable members - are many old diggers who served in battalions which were affected by gas but they cannot obtain the evidence necessary to satisfy the young doctors on the tribunals which determine their claim for a war pension. Therefore, they must be content with the meagre service pension which is no better than the age pension. These people who served this country and gave the best years of their lives for it should be treated better than they are. They should be given the benefit of medical attention in repatriation hospitals. This would not add much to the cost of running the hospitals. I have informed many of my colleagues that evidence presented to the Public Works Committee, of which I am a member, and the Committee’s investigations into repatriation hospitals, reveal that plenty of accommodation is available for these people. Many beds are vacant and there would not be any increased costs involved in relation to staffing. The only additional expenditure would be in the provision of food, and a man 60 or 70 years of age does not eat that much. In any case, the point is that there are not many of these old diggers left. The Minister knows that the treatment of veterans of the First World War and the Boer War would not place a strain on the resources of the Repatriation Department. I appeal to the Minister and honorable members on the Government side to consider these aspects.
The Bill now before us is a substitute for the Bill which has already been passed by the other place in which the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) resides. Because the Bill was amended there the Government has now introduced this Bill which will take the right from this Parliament to discuss money matters and, in particular, will take the right from the other House to discuss problems relating to the provision of additional funds. This is not right or democratic and I do not think it should be tolerated. Honorable members on the Government side who are sympathetic towards returned soldiers organisations and old diggers should realise this and not allow their minds to be clouded by policy. They should leave their minds open. Let us discuss whether these people should have the privileges that are due to them. As I have explained before, many of these old diggers have not even received their just desserts. Many of the First World War diggers are fighting to get the Repatriation Department to recognise that their disabilities are due to the war in which they served but they are having extreme difficulty owing to the lack of records and medical evidence to support their claims. The old system was rectified during the Second World War. Anyone who went to a regimental aid post or a medical centre had the relevant particulars entered on his medical history and the records were kept up to date but, as I have said, diggers from the First World War were not so fortunate. Some were attached to foreign units and some were even attached to units of another nation. These units never bothered to send medical records to the British or Australian headquarters. Many old soldiers cannot substantiate their claims because their comrades have since passed away.
The Minister knows these cases just as well as I do. He has met many of the old diggers on his travels and I say sincerely that when he was Minister for
Repatriation he visited all the areas under his jurisdiction and knew the problems of the old diggers. But whether he can convince Cabinet is another matter. The problems of the First World War diggers are far greater than those of the Second World War diggers. I appeal to the Minister and members on the Government side to consider the facts I have mentioned so that we can include in the Bill before us a clause which, by a majority of votes - in fact, some Government senators voted for it - was included in the other Bill by the other place. Let us give these old diggers a fair go in their declining years. That is all they are asking and that is something to which they are entitled. Diggers from the First World War were miserably treated - it does not matter whether a Liberal Government or a Labour Government was responsible for it - so now in their declining years let us give them all that is due to them. Let us give them treatment in repatriation hospitals rather than have them to go to public hospitals which are overcrowded, overworked and understaffed. Repatriation hospitals can do more for them than can general hospitals. Let us give them all that is due to them. Let us accept the other Bill and do away with the substitute Bill before the Committee by which the Government is trying to get off the hook and forget the veterans of the First World War and the Boer War. Incidentally, the substitute Bill will not be discussed by the other place because it is a money Bill.
.- It is high time the Labour Party stopped this fooling and its delaying tactics and allowed this Bill to go through. [Quorum formed.]
– Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the Committee stage has expired. The question before the Committee is that clause 14 be agreed to.
Question put -
That the clause be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman- Hon. W. C. Haworth.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Swartz) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
.- I have only a few comments to make. Never in the long history of repatriation debates in this Parliament, either in this chamber or in another place, has any device other than the application of the gag been used to curtail debate. A time limit was put on speeches on this occasion because two as- pects of the Australian Labour Party’s attitude to repatriation were not popular with the Government. For this reason the Government used a device which historically has never been used in this way in the Parliament for as long as I can recollect. Honorable members opposite can yelp like a lot of dogs if they want to, but they will not shut me up.
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor will come to order. The time allotted for the third reading has now expired.
– If you want an example of a lot of puppets obeying the command of the faceless men in the Cabinet, here it is.
– There is not a man among them with guts enough to stick up for the old diggers.
– Order! I suggest that the House come to order. I have already reminded the honorable member for Lalor that the time allotted for the third reading has expired.
– If you would stop the noise on the other side of the House, Mr. Acting Speaker, I might be able to hear you.
– If the honorable member for Lalor will cease speaking he will then be able to hear what I am saying to him. I have reminded him again that the time allotted for the third reading has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment -
Social Services Bill 1966. Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill
– I have the honour to bring up the fifteenth Report from the Printing Committee sitting in conference with the Printing Committee of the Senate, and move -
That the report be read.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The report having been read by the Acting Clerk) -
Report - by leave - adopted.
Consideration resumed from 28th September (vide page 1395).
Department of External Affairs.
Proposed expenditure, $38,060,000.
.- In addressing myself to the estimates for the Department of External Affairs and the operations of the Department throughout tha world I want the Committee to take a new look at the way in which Australia conducts its foreign policy, the basis upon which this policy operates, and this country’s function in the world at large. During recent months I visited South East Asia. I went to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Macao. One has hardly to visit these places to realise that the attitudes and atmospherics produced by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) in this House, and supported by the Government, give a completely false impression of the situation in South East Asia.
In the first place we are told that this area of the world is under continual stress and strain; that there is a continual threat of insurgency in large areas of it and that it cannot be protected except by military action. This, I believe, is a false picture. What is the position, for instance, in Thailand, which is constantly in the news? Thailand is a country of 30 million people. It is one of the largest countries in the Asian area outside the major countries of India, Pakistan, China and so on. It is in a state of political inertia. One can say with truth that there are almost no politics in Thailand. For long periods, amounting to 2,000 years of more. Thailand had absolutist governments. In the first instance there was an absolutist monarchy which existed until 1932, and during the last 30-odd years there has been military government of various sorts. At one time, 10 or 15 years ago, there were efforts to introduce some kind of parliamentary democracy with an elective system, but so far this scheme has not got off the ground. The Thai Government at the moment is a selfperpetuating military junta in which of the 21 members of the Ministry 10 are highranking members of the Services. The general body of the community has no politics as such at all. This is not to say that in future years the position will not change, but as far as one can determine from reading, from brief visits and from speaking to people who know the country, it is unlikely that a situation of wide political awareness will be produced in the near future.
The Government has shown very little respect for the needs of the people. Fundamentally the community is not in great need or want. It is a rich area. It has been one of the rice bowls of Asia and the great poverty, degradation and misery that one may find in places like Pakistan and India are not to be found in Thailand. I think it is important that the people of Australia and honorable members of this Parliament give deep consideration to this because I am afraid the Thai Government is operating on the assumption that Communism is a good investment; that the louder you cry Communism the more support you will get from outside. They believe that if they say they need military support the manna will fall from the American heaven. One can describe this philosophy as a kind of anti-Communist cargo cult. As I say, the belief seems to be that the louder they cry Communism the more support they will get.
We spent some days in Laos, across the Mekong. We were advised that the people operating in what you might call the field of banditry in north east Thailand included between 60 and 100, who had fled from Laos to Thailand after one of their abortive coups. One of the Australians said to us: “They call them Communists: we just call them so and so bandits”. When we examined the position further by calling on people who should know and people whose reputation for integrity was of the highest order, we found that the numbers involved in this insurgency - call it what you will - were minute in the extreme. When I say minute I remind the Committee that I am talking of a Country of 30 million people - a population three-quarters that of pre-war France, not an insignificant group of people at all. But we were advised that only 600 were known to be operating there. A proportion had been trained in North Vietnam as cadres and therefore I suppose it is fair to say that they are insurgent cadres, but they would have no field of operation at all if there were anything like a reasonable police force, a proper administration, or anything like normal authority operating in Thailand. Yet this is being built up currently into a great thing in South East Asia. There are about 40,000 American troops in that country. The whole area is being built up to us as being the next one to fall in the line of the domino theory. That theory is now regarded as being invalid by practically every commentator throughout the world. So I believe that Thailand is living off anti-Communism. The Thai Government is refusing to face its responsibilities to its people. It is taking the Americans for a ride, if one may use that colloquialism in this context. The Australian people are being fooled into believing that South East Asia is in such a state that young Australians have to be sent to places like South Vietnam to shed their blood to prevent the further collapse of democratic Asia or the free world. One of the fantasies of this period of history - one which will be laughed at by historians in the future - is the definition of some of our allies as being part of the free world. Thailand is not free. Neither, I suppose, is it subject to police state tyranny. But it is certainly not a free community in the sense that we know that term. A free community is one in which the citizens themselves have every opportunity to change the government. This seems to me an impossibility in Thailand.
This is one of the factors in South East Asia which is being concealed from the people of Australia more by the operations of the Minister for External Affairs than by anything associated with his Department. The officers of the Department, as I found them recently, and in a previous tour overseas, were of a high order and a credit to Australia. Some of them felt, perhaps, that Australia could not play a very influential role in the world. But I believe they are incorrect in that view.
Other aspects of Thai diplomacy are being concealed from us. Are honorable members aware that the Thai Government, at least by default, is giving aid and comfort to the internal subversion, or external sabotage, of the Government of Cambodia? One cannot tell whether or not it is being done in a positive way. Are we aware that the Rhymer Serei which is what one might term a phoney insurgent or liberation movement from Cambodia, is being fostered by the Saigon Government. People are being trained apparently in American forces camps and used in Thailand with the concurrence of the Thai Government to sabotage the borders of Cambodia. In fact the borders of Cambodia have been closed on this account. Do honorable members recall having been told that Cambodia, three years ago, was awarded by the World Court an area containing some temples which had been in dispute? Although the award was in favour of Cambodia, Thailand has refused to hand it over. This is surely a breach of Thailand’s international obligations. But that country’s international obligations are also included in the treaty known as S.E.A.T.O. Under S.E.A.T.O. Australia seems to accept commitments but no other country seems to accept the absolute commitments under their foreign treaties. It is important that somehow this Parliament establish a closer line of communication throughout the world and free ourselves of the arbitrary control of the Ministry. Officers of the Department of External Affairs are in effect officers of this Parliament. Their charter for functioning arises from the authority of this Parliament. 1 believe it is time the Parliament had factual, first hand and objective reports coming direct to it from overseas officers of the Department. Honorable members may say that this would be an interference with Cabinet responsibility, but I believe it is essential.
I found what has been described as instability or inertia, but certainly not unrest, in the rest of the South East Asian area. I believe the people of Australia have to grasp this situation firmly and see a new function for Australia in this part of the world. We are an offshoot of Europe. We are geographically in Asia. This is so often said that it will not be long before people will wake up that it is time we did something about it. But most of the mystiques behind our foreign policy and our attitudes flows from our European past. They have become anachronisms. In my opinion S.E.A.T.O. is an anachronism. I do not believe that it can perform any useful function at this stage because large areas are excluded from it. Who are the influential people in this part of the world? I would think that India is. India is the corner stone upon which the new Asia will be built. It is a parliamentary democracy. It is one of the miracles of recent history that it remained united and in one piece. With 14 major languages and a large number of other languages it has had tremendous problems on its hands, but I do not recall this Government or Australia generally giving India the kind of support it should have. Then there is Ceylon, a parliamentary democracy. It has achieved a great deal of success with its parliamentary system. There are a lot of problems there. They have riots and internal discord of various sorts. But measuring it in terms of parliamentary democracy, and when you see that they have been successfully able to change their government from a right wing government to a left wing government and back again and carry out what might be called dramatic changes within the parliamentary system, they have achieved a great deal of success.
The other parliamentary democracies in that area include Malaysia and Singapore. Singapore has adult suffrage, it has compulsory voting. I think it must be one of the few nations other than Australia which has this. Malaysia, of course, is ruled by a Conservative government but it generally accepts the parliamentary principle. I see the future life of what I would call the parliamentary democracies - using that term in its broadest sense - in this area in Ceylon, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and perhaps the Philippines. I would think at this stage one almost could bring Cambodia into this because I think it has reached pretty close to what one would term a parliamentary democracy. I believe this is where the diplomatic initiative lies. I believe sincerely that the diplomatic initiative will lie with Australia only if we realise that a military commitment prejudices our capacity to do anything in this line. Our military commitment in South Vietnam is of a small order as far as the whole operation is concerned. We have 4,500 men there out of a total operational force of the order of almost one million. Therefore our commitment cannot be decisive in the military sense. It can only be sacrificial - something which has been described as paying the premium for future protection from America, an attitude which I would certainly regard as being invalid from a free thinking independent and strong minded Australia.
In the civil aid field we cannot be decisive but we can be helpful and useful. There are other areas of greater need than South Vietnam. I would think Pakistan and India are the places where there is the greatest need and where the greatest good can be achieved by the expenditure of the kind of effort that Australia is able to produce. This does not deny that the people of Vietnam are entitled to any sort of assistance one can give them to alleviate thenmisery. I applaud the Red Cross for its efforts to assist the people of both South and North Vietnam, because I look upon the victims of war as people. They cannot always be subjected to misery just because we disapprove of their government or because their governments are good or bad governments or have made serious errors. Therefore we must look for some alternative way in which Australia can take action to help and I believe it is in the diplomatic field that we can be influential. For long enough we have cried that we are a small nation and acted as if we were still in the year 1914 with five million people, an offshoot of Europe with no industrial capacity and no diplomatic experience. But in the last 20-odd years we have established quite a reputation in the diplomatic field. It has been my privilege to attend some three or four international conferences, several interparliamentary union meetings and one at the socialist international. I found to my surprise - because I had been told that we did not rate much in the world at large - that people came to me and said: “What is Australia going to do? What leadership can you supply?” I would remind the House of the very successful diplomatic leadership and initiative shown between 1945 and 1949 under Dr. Evatt in the establishment of Indonesia and in getting Israel off the ground and in other matters. But in this part of the world we have a unique opportunity which is prejudiced by our military commitment to Thailand. The Government must withdraw all the troops, otherwise it will prejudice our future and we will be regarded as suspect. The Government has committed the unpardonable offence. It has taken the field but it still wants to be the umpire. It is important, therefore, that we withdraw our troops, that we realise that the exercise of diplomatic initiative, development of the diplomatic strength and all those things that flow from a prosperous democratic community such as ours are the most effective ways in which Australia can expend its energies in the near future. I hope that we will seek to extend our efforts towards the establishment of some bloc, treaty, or alliance - call it what you like - amongst those communities which have Parliamentary democracies such as we have, to replace what I believe is an anachronism, the South East Asia Treaty Organisation.
.- We hear far too much criticism of what we should be doing and far too little about what we have done in the past and what we are doing today. I think I should refer to those matters tonight. I suggest that the aid given by Australia under the Colombo Plan has been magnificent. Wherever the recent mission of which I was a member went in Singapore, Ceylon, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal, it found nothing but good will towards Australia mainly because of what we were doing under this great Colombo Plan.
I think we should look at the history of this plan. We have just heard a speech to the effect that Australia has not given a lead in the past. I suggest that this is one direction in which Australia has given a very definite lead. The Colombo Plan for Co-operative Economic Development of South East Asia - to give it its full name - has been in formal operation for 16 years now. The development programmes of the Asian countries that combined to form the first blueprint of the Plan all ran from 1st July 1951. But the beginnings of the Colombo Plan, the first unformed ideas that led to its foundation, date back to 1950 when the Foreign Ministers of the independent countries within the British Commonwealth - Australia, Canada, Ceylon,
India, New Zealand, Pakistan and the United Kingdom - were preparing for their first meeting since the Second World War. The Colombo meeting of the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers in January of 1950 was momentous for a number of reasons. It was the first in which the newly independent Asian members participated to express their own sovereign views and policies on international affairs.
I do not suggest that the Colombo Plan idea came by accident but it was not on the agenda for the Foreign Ministers whose brief it was to range broadly over the conditions of a worried world in general and of an anxious Asia in particular. But the yearnings for both political stability and economic uplift in the post-war Asia were in everyone’s mind and they took shape in two concrete proposals that were put to the meeting by different participants, quite independently of one another. At that time, the famous Marshall Plan had guaranteed American help in the economic recovery of war-torn Europe, and in 1949 President Truman’s Point Four Programme gave an assurance that the emergent countries of other continents would also benefit from the generous post-war American mood. Sir Percy Spender, as he later became, the then Australian Minister for External Affairs, recognised that the need of South and South East Asian countries was great, far greater perhaps than that of any other part of the world. He brought to Colombo, therefore, a suggestion that the Commonwealth countries take the initiative in launching a programme of technical assistance to the region. This is something that we should not forget, and I can assure honorable members that it is not being forgotten by the countries of Central and South East Asia. They recognise the tremendous part that Australia has played in this great Colombo Plan.
When we think of the Colombo Plan and aid to the Central and South East Asian countries, we all too often forget the tremendous amount of aid that we give to our very near neighbours in Papua and New Guinea. By far the greatest amount of our aid is given to this country. There is no doubt in my mind that the amount of aid that has been given in Papua and New Guinea represents a most creditable performance by Australia. Of course, this has all come from the Australian taxpayers. The total expenditure in Papua and New Guinea up to 30th June 1965 amounted to $A446 million of which SA394 million was in outright grants. That is nothing to run away from; it is, as I have said, a creditable performance.
On a per capita basis, Australia ranks with the first four or five aid giving countries. All of Australia’s aid is in the form of outright grants which impose no repayment burden on recipients. Australian aid is mainly directed to Papua and New Guinea where we have a special responsibility, and to the countries of South and South East Asia where our political interests are greatest. By means of the Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan and the Australian South Pacific Technical Assistance Programme, smaller amounts of aid are extended to the African and Pacific areas. Aid given under our bi-lateral programmes is of a type which will contribute to economic development. In addition, however, Australia offers relief aid in emergency situations. For example, the Government has given India $15.6 million in emergency food aid during the past two years. Australia is largely dependent on exports of primary products for its foreign exchange earnings, and these gifts therefore constituted a direct drain on our balance of payments.
We are concerned at food shortages occurring in some of the less developed countries, but we believe that gifts of food are no more than a palliative. Although we have, in emergency conditions, given large quantities of food aid, the important agricultural component in our normal aid programmes is directed towards increasing agricultural production in the recipient countries. On the occasions when a large scale international effort in food aid is called for, we believe that the burden should be borne by all the developed countries, not only net exporters of food who often rely heavily, as does Australia, on exports of food products for their international solvency. We believe, too, that the only long term solution lies in these countries placing a greater emphasis, as many are doing, in their economic development plans, on the need to increase agricultural output. Australian aid to agri culture has included expert services, training in Australia and the provision of technical equipment.
The Communist military threat has increased the need for aid in a number of the less developed countries. Cases in point are Vietnam, Laos and the Republic of Korea, all of which have had to divert to military purposes substantial resources which would otherwise have been used for economic development. Projects are carefully planned and kept under continuing review, supervised both by the relevant authorities in Australia and by the Australian missions in the recipient countries. By this means it is possible to make some assessment of effectiveness, and there is ample evidence that recipients are well satisfied. It is possible to point to projects such as the feeder roads scheme in north east Thailand, which have achieved great economic and social benefits to the area in which they are situated. Projects such as the feeder roads scheme involve not only the provision of Australian experts and equipment, but also the training of Thai personnel in Australia. In the last 12 months, some 14 Thai engineers, foremen and operators have been trained by the Snowy Mountains Authority. Australian training is highly valued by the developing countries. More than 6,500 Asians and 300 Africans have been trained in Australia under the various aid schemes. The growth of the demand for training here is in itself evidence of the value attached to Australian training. Australia is second only to the United States of America in the number of training places that it provides under the Colombo Plan. Some former trainees who were educated in Australia in the early days of the Plan have since become prominent in the administration of government of their own countries. It can safely be said that the recipient countries are satisfied with the quality of Australian aid.
Mr. Deputy Chairman, I believe that in future Australia’s programmes should be more specific than they have been. They should be directed to more specific purposes. Nature has provided ample food for the people to eat in many of the countries of Central and South East Asia. I am now speaking not of countries like India and Pakistan, but of countries like Ceylon,
Afghanistan and Nepal, where there is ample food for everyone. In these countries, however, education in nutrition and the right kinds of food to eat is lacking. This is one respect in which we could do more. A small amount spent on aid in nutritional or dietetic training would go much further than the same sum spent on other kinds of aid. In Afghanistan and Nepal, babies are still weaned on rice water, though there are thousands of goats that could be milked to supply them with milk.
I have had the pleasure of submitting to the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs a proposal that students who will be graduating at the end of this year from the university at Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, be brought to Australia for training in dietetics after graduation. Six young ladies who are graduating there would be very suitable for this training. One wishes to go to the United States, I know, but the other five could come to Australia. I know that the Secretary of the Department intends to put this proposal to the Government of Afghanistan. A request for this kind of aid must come from the recipient country. I hope that this proposal will bear fruit. There is no doubt in my mind that what we have looked on in the past as a consequence of poverty in many of these countries is due merely to lack of education in proper nutritional standards. Up to the present, this kind of training has been lacking and proper nutritional standards therefore have not been attained. I believe that this idea of bringing to Australia for training graduates of the universities in countries like Afghanistan and Nepal would be of great value to those countries. Not many persons would be involved and the training that they would receive would go a long way towards assisting their countries in the future.
In other countries, such as Ceylon, we have given a great deal of aid. Under the Colombo Plan we have provided funds for the Central Agricultural Research Institute in Ceylon. This Institute is doing a tremendous job that is quite in harmony with the purposes for which Freedom from Hunger Campaign funds have been provided by Australians. A great deal of money provided by this campaign is being spent in Ceylon. Admittedly, the people there do not go hungry, because nature provides ample food for them. However, the economy of Ceylon is weak. I believe that this work of aiding countries like Ceylon can be strengthened by education, the development of better varieties of grain, training in the better application of superphosphate and trace elements, and the like. I saw some excellent programmes being undertaken there. Although Ceylon is at present able to grow only 47 per cent, of its total requirements of rice, I believe that the funds that it is receiving from Australia through the Freedom from Hunger Campaign, in conjunction with the work of the Central Agricultural Research Institute, will enable that country, probably within the next five years, to have an exportable surplus of rice. This prospect is wonderful to see. For the first time, I see a glimmer of light ahead and a better future for these Asian countries.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Mackinnon). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Unfortunately, the Minister for External Affairs of the day has not usually been present when the estimates of this Department have been considered. I do not know whether this is by accident or by design. It is true that last year the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) was in attendance when the estimates of the Department were before us. I realise that he is now undertaking important work at the United Nations. One cannot quibble about his representing the nation at such an important gathering as the United Nations General Assembly. However, I think that the order of consideration of the estimates for the various departments could have been rearranged and the estimates of this Department held over until the Minister’s return. The Ministers in charge of the Defence departments, for example, are available and the estimates of those departments could have been considered at this time.
I believe that we are drifting back into old customs. Sir Garfield Barwick seemed to make a habit of not being present on these occasions. The former Prime Minister, who was for a time also Minister for External Affairs, never appeared in this chamber when the estimates of the Department were before us. A still earlier Minister, Mr. Casey as he then was, seemed always to be overseas when the Department’s estimates were being considered. I hope that in future years the Minister, if he has to go overseas but is to return before the consideration of the Estimates is due to be completed, will try to have the order of consideration rearranged so that he can be present when the estimates of this Department are before us. I do not really expect that the present Minister will be sitting on the opposite side of the chamber when next year’s Estimates are being considered. But I trust that, if by some mischance he is, he will do as I have suggested.
During the consideration of the estimates of the Department last year, I stated that I believed that congressmen, including members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and other opinion makers in the United States of America were not aware of the extent of the commitment that the Australian Government had made in the conflict in Vietnam. I pointed out that this Government, by committing Australian troops to fight there, had placed Australia out on a limb. I said that if by some chance a change of government came about in the United States a change in policy critical for Australia’s future could easily result. I based .those observations on a statement made by Mr. Richard Nixon, a former Vice-President of the United States. In answer to a question that was asked at a gathering that he addressed during a visit to Australia, he intimated that this country, in his estimation, did not rank as one that America might support in a major war. Last year, I suggested that an Australian opinion maker should be appointed to Washington. I make no bones about it. We should have an Australian opinion maker in the United States to lobby senators and congressman there and let them know exactly the commitment to which this Government has committed Australian troops. We should keep America’s politicans fully informed of what is being done. I suggested that this was not a job for officers of the Department of External Affairs but was a job for specialists. A few weeks after I made the suggestion proof of how little was known by the American opinion makers about Australia’s commitment became apparent when Senator Fulbright, Chairman of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visited Australia. When he was asked what he thought of Australia’s commitment in Vietnam he said that he was unaware of our commitment. Surely that was proof that the opinion makers in the United States were completely unaware of the sacrifice to which the Menzies and Holt Governments have committed Australia. If by any chance there is a change of Government in the United States it could prove critical for Australia.
Recently our Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) said in the United States that he was going all the way with L.B.J. I suppose that statement made some impact on the people of the United States but I think most members of the United States Congress and Senate would recognise it as a political statement for consumption in the United States rather than anything else. We still need somebody in the United States to point out that the Australian Government has committed the Australian people out on a limb that could easily snap if the isolationists should come to power in America, as they might in the future. This Government is prepared to go all the way with L.B.J. in most things except the vital matter of trade. It is prepared to go all the way with America except in the matter of trading with what this Government describes as the enemy - China and North Vietnam.
Some time ago the Australian Labour Party suggested that the United States should cease bombing North Vietnam. We suggested that if peace talks were held nothing should be done to prevent the Vietcong being present at the talks. A few weeks ago the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Goldman, said that the United States was prepared to stop the bombing of North Vietnam and to withdraw its forces from Vietnam. He said that if it meant getting together for peace talks there was no objection to the Vietcong being represented if it demanded representation. To be fair, these things had been said earlier by the President of the United States. The proposal has not been received readily in Hanoi or Peking, although there seems to be some softening of the attitude in those quarters towards peace talks. One of the first political leaders in Australia to say that he applauded the appeal in the United Nations of the United States representative was the Leader of the Australian Labour Party, Mr. Arthur Calwell. The Labour Party applauds any move for peace negotiations. In my view, people who will not negotiate or come to the conference table must want the conflict to continue. I hope that the Vietcong and the Governments of Hanoi and Peking will be prepared to come together at the conference table and start negotiations. It has been said many times by people from North Vietnam, South Vietnam, the United States, China and Russia that there can be only a political solution to this conflict. The hand has once again been extended by the United States. I hope that this will lead to a coming together of the interested parties and that we may see some hope of settlement in this distressed and war torn country.
I said earlier that the Government waa prepared to go all the way with L.B.J. except in the matter of trade. In the matter of trade, the Government runs on a different line. It is more concerned with the dollars it can obtain from China by selling to that country the products of our primary and secondary industries than with attempting to restrict China’s supplying of what this Government describes as the enemy with strategic exports. I understand that certain officers of the Department of External Affairs make decisions as to which goods cannot be sold to China, not officers of the Department of Trade and Industry. The Department of Trade and Industry knows how to talk to the Chinese. The Department is able to sell wheat to China. I would say that it is able to negotiate trade deals which the Australian people subsidise. But while the Department of Trade and Industry is able to talk with China and arrange trade deals, the Department of External Affairs is unable to break through and make any impact so far as a settlement of the dispute in Vietnam is concerned.
For some time, we were selling rutile to China. It cannot be argued that rutile is not a vital element in the production of aircraft. Suddenly, after criticism from the Opposition, the export of rutile to China was stopped. Later the Opposition raised the matter of the Government trading directly with North Vietnam and selling tallow to that country. The Government said that its sales of tallow to North Vietnam were not very important, but we pointed out that tallow could be most important in the manufacture of glycerine. We pointed out that it was a component of high explosives. I understand that the export of tallow to North Vietnam has now ceased. But we still sell large amounts of tallow to China. The Government claims that China is the enemy. If this is so and if it were wrong to sell tallow to North Vietnam, why do we still export it to China?
Among the many things we sell to China are iron and steel scrap, plate steel, tinned plate waste, iron and steel plate, zinc bars, meters, gauges, electrical appliances, petrol engine parts, scientific instruments and other metal manufactures. Who decides what these things will eventually be used for? Who in the Department of External Affairs makes these decisions? Do we know what eventually happens with them? Remember that Marshal Chen, the Chinese Foreign Minister, said that China was providing clothing and ammunition to North Vietnam and the Vietcong. Who is to say that the goods China supplies to North Vietnam and the Vietcong are not the very goods that we sell to China, a country which the Government describes as the enemy?
The Country Party, of course, sees great benefit in this trade with China. What do we get for the wheat that we sell to China? The cost of production of wheat is $1.51 a bushel. The home consumption price is $1.53. The price to non-Communist countries is $1.42. The average price to China is $1.35. It is estimated that between 1960 and 1965 the Australian people have subsidised wheat purchases by China to the extent of $150 million. We are selling wheat to China, which the Government describes as the enemy of Australia, at a reduced price, but in many instances the Government refuses to help Commonwealth countries until sheer shame compels it to do so. I believe that the members of the Australian Country Party are mainly responsible for this situation. They are the modern day Judas Iscariots - the people who want their pieces of silver, the people who are more concerned with dollars than perhaps with the lives of people. They sell goods to the enemy, thus providing the enemy with uniforms and food, and putting the munitions of war in the hands of the enemy.
Before concluding, let me say that Australia should be proud of its officers in the Department of External Affairs at home and abroad. Many of them serving abroad in such places as Vietnam are in as much danger as are those in the Services in these areas. We should be forever grateful that we have men of this high calibre, and some of our diplomats are equal to any in the world.
.- The tendency in this debate seems to be to ignore the detailed items of the estimates and to range over matters of policy and philosophy in our external affairs. I for one am very happy to follow that pattern. But I would like to make a few comments at the outset on the speech we have just heard from the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin). There is a curious inconsistency in the stance he takes in relation to the Government’s attitude on trading with China. In one breath he says: “The Government is entirely subservient to trie United States, because it is supporting the efforts of the United States in South Vietnam.” In the next breath he says: “ The Government is being far too independent, because unlike the United States it is trading in certain materials with Communist China.” There is a fundamental inconsistency in this which nobody on the Labour side has ever tried to explain. Opposition members have never tried to face up to this because they know very well that they cannot.
The plain facts that should be stated in answer to the honorable gentleman are these: Contrary to his assertion that we are trading with Communist China in what he chooses to call strategic materials, we are observing, and strictly observing, an embargo list that was drawn up by the Western powers so that strategic materials would not be sent to Communist China. In addition, when he talks about the sale of wheat to Communist China, he knows as well as anyone in the Committee knows, that, if we were not to sell the wheat that we do sell - by selling it, we increase our foreign reserves - any number of other countries would sell their wheat to Communist China and replace us in the market.
It is no more than cant, hypocrisy and humbug for anyone on the Opposition side to criticise the Government for its sensible and commonsense attitude towards trade with China. I defy anyone on the other side to explain the fundamental inconsistency in Labour’s attitude.
Coming to questions of broader policy and philosophy, I would like to spend 3 little time in examining, and in asking the Committee to examine, some of the recent statements on foreign affairs made by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). I do not pretend for one moment that anything the honorable member says about foreign affairs has either depth or commonsense. But the unfortunate fact - I am sure my honorable and learned friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), would agree that it is an unfortunate fact - is that the honorable member for Yarra happens to be one of the principal makers of the foreign policy of the Australian Labour Party. I hear no dissent from my honorable and learned friend. The honorable member is one of a very homogeneous gaggle of birds of left wing feather. He is one of a group that consists of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), whom I see over there, Senator Wheeldon, Senator Cohen and Senator Cavanagh. That little group is, as I understand its position, the Federal Executive Foreign Affairs Committee, with the addition to its distinguished number - but rather disastrous number for the Opposition - of, I think, Mr. Oliver from New South Wales and Senator Mulvihill. Those two moderates are rather submerged amidst the five extremists, when it comes to any voice on policy. Though no very valuable or deep thought on external affairs comes from the honorable member for Yarra, it is, nonetheless, worthwhile to examine some of his recent gyrations and convolutions - and twistings and turnings there certainly have been. [Quorum formed.]
I come back to the honorable member for Yarra. In a recent speech in this chamber, he admitted for the very first time in his life, in the teeth of earlier statements he had made, that significant aggressive activity by North Vietnam against South Vietnam had been undertaken, in his words, since 1964. This was a great discovery for the honorable gentleman. The relevant text of his speech is as follows -
During 1964 …. the war in South Vietnam was stepped up, first by the National Liberation Front and then by Hanoi.
He also said -
During 1965 and 1966 what we can call “ total Vietnamese war plans “ were put into operation. These plans had at least two features. The first was maximum integration and build up of North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese forces in a manner appropriate to the conditions of a war which was now a war in one country.
It is interesting to compare those statements with the comments he published in August 1965 in a document that would be best described as a sixpenny tract, and overpriced at sixpence. At page 19 of the tract, he said -
The evidence shows that arms, men, directions and controls, support and encouragement given by the North is no more than of marginal significance.
The war effort in the South is not maintained by the North.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Falkinder) - Order! I ask the honorable member for Parkes to resume his seat. There is far too much audible conversation. The honorable member will be heard in silence.
– It is rather notable that whenever-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.-Order! I repeat the admonition that there is too much audible conversation.
-It is an interesting and notable thing, Sir, that whenever the albatross flapping around the neck of the Labour Party, the honorable member for Yarra, is referred to, the other side is discomfited and tries to interrupt. I will go back to repeating, from the sixpenny tract, what the honorable member for Yarra said. In relation to what is going on in South Vietnam he said -
It is not the result of aggression from the North.
It is interesting to recall-
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Deputy Chairman. Despite your injunctions, Government members are continuing to engage in loud and audible conversation and are not listening to their colleague.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - The honorable member’s point of order has a relevance, but that matter is for the Chair to determine.
– It is interesting to recall that in a speech in this House on 22nd March 1966 the honorable member for Yarra put a very interesting proposition. He said -
The Minister himself-
He was referring to the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) - has returned partly to the proposition that what is happening in South Vietnam is a threat to Australia because, as he has put it before, it is aggression from the North. Of course, if in answering this question this propostion was satisfactorily proved, then the Australian people could be expected to say that intervention in South Vietnam would be justified.
An honorable member opposite asked me who wrote that. For all I know it may have been written in Peking or Hanoi, but the words were those of the honorable member for Yarra. These words have a particular point, because what the honorable member for Yarra was saying in March 1966 was that if the Australian people could be convinced that the mainspring of the war in South Vietnam was aggression from North Vietnam then the people of Australia could be fully expected to follow Government policy of commitment in the war. He has now agreed - as I have shown the Committee by quoting from his recent speech in the House - that since 1964 there has been significant North Vietnamese aggression in South Vietnam. If he possessed what one would hope that any politician worthy of his salt did possess - some candour, some sense of reality and some sense of responsibility - one would assume that he would now say: “ Well, Government policy is right. I said in March it would be right if the Australian people could be convinced that what is going on in South Vietnam is aggression from the North “. But, oh no, he does not do that at all. He does the twist - the political twist - and he invents, without any reasoning to support it, a new theory to fit his Marxistdeterminist conclusion that he has made a long time ago. What he now says in effect is that there is a thing called an inverted domino theory. I think that is the description he would give to it. He does a sidestep and a twist. He tries to rationalise his steadfast Marxist adherence to his old conclusion despite the fact that events have invalidated his conclusion and despite the fact that he admits that factors have changed. He said, and I quote from “ Hansard”
I would think it is probable that the defeat of Communism in South Vietnam would cause China to take far stronger action in North Vietnam, Laos and Thailand than she would otherwise take . . . If . . . Communism would quickly spread as a result of its success in South Vietnam, can we not assume that it would spread even more quickly by Chinese action as a result of the defeat of Communism in South Vietnam and North Vietnam?
This is a very peculiar theory and it seems to me to ignore a few relevant facts. First, it seems to ignore the fact that if, as the honorable member for Yarra says, China is prepared, and steadfastly prepared, to wage war by proxy against South Vietnam
– He did not say that at all.
– The honorable member would not know if a clock dropped on him. Why does he not keep quiet? The honorable member for Yarra did say that. He said that behind the effort in South Vietnam lies China. If that is the position, as the honorable member conceded, and China is quite determined to wage war by proxy in South Vietnam, using North Vietnam as a pawn, it would seem to all commonsense people that if we demonstrate to the principal proxy at the present time that aggression will not pay, it might serve to discourage other prospective proxies from taking on the same role. The honorable member for Yarra also seems to ignore another fundamental consideration, namely, that while the Americans, ourselves and other countries are contributing to the military effort to resist aggression in South Vietnam, the other countries of South East Asia are using the screen of our efforts to create conditions in which further aggressive activity by China against other South East Asian countries is less likely to be successful or to happen at all. The honorable member for Yarra is the greatest political twister of this century.
– The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes), in the extraordinary remarks we have just heard from him, deliberately used arguments to promote the interests of Communist China. The honorable member went further and used in this Committee arguments designed to advance and assist North Vietnamese Communist attacks on Australian troops. For all I know the statements at the beginning of his speech may well have been written by some Chinese Communist propagandist in Peking. All I know is that the honorable member mouthed the words, no matter who originally composed them for him or what interests he set out to serve when he used them. But he set out, as you will know, Mr. Deputy Chairman, to champion Australian trade with Communist China in materials that can be used for war purposes. He championed the sale of Australian products to Communist China, although he knows perfectly well that Communist China is supplying textiles, foodstuffs and other materials to be used for war purposes, to the armies of North Vietnam.
– Would the honorable member stop the trade with China?
– Would the honorable member ask his colleague-
– I am asking the honorable member a question.
– I ask the honorable member to look to his own side of the chamber.
– I have asked the honorable member a question.
– I am simply pointing to the facts. I can understand how this galls the honorable member for Chisholm because I know he is opposed to the present situation, although he will not rise in his place and say so. He will have the opportunity tonight to rise and denounce what the honorable member for Parkes said, but he will not do so. He has been in this place for very many years and we have come to know his form. He holds his views but when it comes to a question of opposing the Government he weakens. Even though he knows in his own mind that what the Government is doing is wrong and even though he has proclaimed outside this Parliament his opposition to the
Government’s actions I do not believe, although he interjects now, that he will rise in his place tonight and express his utter opposition, which I know he feels, to the views expressed tonight by the honorable member for Parkes. Look at the cynical argument that the honorable member for Parkes used.
– When will the honorable member say something about external affairs?
– Surely this is external affairs. The honorable member for Parkes admitted that the Government is enabling the sale of Australian materials to China. He knows that the materials which Australia has sold to China have been used against Australian forces in Vietnam. His argument in justification of this is: “ If we did not sell these things to Communist China many other countries would do so, so why should we not take advantage of the opportunity? “ Is that the view of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen)? / do not hear him expressing any view.
– I am following the honorable member later in the debate.
– -I do not heat the honorable member expressing any opposition to that view. Did he say that he will be speaking later?
– Immediately after the honorable member.
– Then 1 hope he will take the opportunity to express his view on what this Government is doing in trading with China while it brands China as the implacable aggressive enemy of this country.
– Is the honorable member against this trade with China?
– I will ask the honorable member again to deal with his colleagues on his own side of the chamber. I am dealing with them at the moment and I ask the honorable member to have sufficient political respect for himself, knowing his strong views, not to sit there and interject in a quibbling manner about someone else’s views. The honorable member should stand in this place and express his own views.
– I want to know the honorable member’s views.
– The honorable member will have the opportunity to express his own views. Now I want to proceed-
– About time too.
– I want to proceed to deal with the views expressed by the honorable member for Parkes who has just interjected. His view is that if we do not sell these things to China, even though we know they will be used against our own lads, some other country will do so, so we might as well make the profit.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for Parkes.
– Why not sell China ammunition while we are at it?
– That is exactly the point to which I proceed. Why not sell China ammunition? Other countries will do it so why should not we make a profit? That apparently is the attitude of the honorable member for Parkes. Why not sell China bombs? Why not sell her guns? The argument the honorable member produced to this Committee is utterly shameful and cynical.
– The honorable member has told us what the honorable member for Parkes said. Now let him give us his own views.
– I will say quite a few things. The honorable member for La Trobe should stay quiet and listen. All 1 say is that there is an utter contradiction between (he statement of this Government to the Australian people that China is an implacable and aggressive enemy and that we are really now fighting China for the safety of the men, women and children of this country, and the Government’s action in endorsing, supporting and carrying through the sale of goods to China. The analogy is with 1939 when the predecessor of the present Prime Minister sold pig iron to Japan.
– What was his name?
– Robert Menzies was the Prime Minister. The waterside workers refused to load the pig iron. Looking back in history we can see that they were the true patriots who were then truly protecting the interests of Australia. It is historical fact now that the weapons of war which were sold to Japan were subsequently used against Australian troops. But that was before the war broke out and the Menzies Government used its powers to compel the waterside workers, against their will, to load these materials of war for Japan. At least the Menzies Government had the excuse that we were not then engaged in operations of war with Japan. This Government is actually engaged in trade with a country which it proclaims to be the enemy while the fighting is actually going on, while our men are being killed and wounded and while casualty lists are appearing from time to time in the Australian Press.
– I agree with the honorable member but what are his views?
– I am glad to hear that the honorable member agrees with me. That is all it is necessary for him to say. I shall proceed to another aspect. Although we are considering the estimates for the Department of External Affairs for the financial year 1966-67, we have not yet resolved the issue or decided on what grounds and for what objective we are fighting in Vietnam today. It is, of course, incorrect to say that the war is a war to prevent the people of one country invading another country. That is not true. The war is being waged by America with the complete support of this Government for one purpose only - to prevent South Vietnam being taken over by a Communist government.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member says “ Hear, hear “. Therefore, he agrees this is the only purpose for which this war is being waged.
– To prevent South Vietnam being taken over by subversion, intimidation and aggression, yes.
– For whatever purpose, that is the reason this war is being waged. I think everyone in the House can agree that the objective of the American Government, to which we are giving complete support, is to prevent South Viet nam being taken over by Communist China. The Americans stepped up the war in February 1965 when they began the bombing of North Vietnam. Since then they have increased their military ground forces in South Vietnam to a total of several hundred thousand men. During the same period, it will be agreed, the area of South Vietnam controlled by the Vietcong has actually increased and the military invasion of South Vietnam from North Vietnam has been stepped up. The dilemma which America faces today, and which everyone supporting the war for this purpose faces, is that the objectives are not achievable by the means so far used. If we proceed with the objective of preventing by military means the taking over of South Vietnam by Communist forces we will be committed, as America will be committed, to the almost total annihilation of those people in South Vietnam who support the Communist forces.
On the present evidence it is undeniable that the overwhelming majority of people in South Vietnam give at least passive acquiescence to the regime of the Vietcong. Further, it is undeniable that military convoys of the Saigon Government proceeding through these areas of South Vietnam controlled by the Vietcong actually have to pay tribute and road tolls to the Vietcong authorities, ft is undeniable also that the Vietcong have established a formal government which extends over many provinces and, indeed, have appointed diplomatic representatives abroad. To proceed to the objective, the logical steps must be an annihilation of those people in South Vietnam, amounting almost to the extent of genocide, and the complete destruction of the military force of North Vietnam to the point at which we will be face to face in warlike operations with China and with Soviet Russia.
The price involved in following this path is unquestionable and the people of Australia on 26th November will have to face the question whether we can be certain that this is the only path that can be taken, whether we can be certain that Australia must be increasingly pushed along the path of increasing casualties and increasing suffering and, finally, involvement in World War. Unless the voters - to whom the responsibility will be transferred from the
Government on election day - can be certain that this is the only course for Australia, they dare not say “Yes” to the Government’s proposals for the increased conscription of Australian 20 year olds, the increasing engagement of this country in such a war, the increasing sacrifices which will be involved and the increasing casualty lists for which every voter who votes for this policy will have to take the final responsibility.
.- 1 should like to say at the outset that I thought my friend, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), finished on a thoroughly contemptible note. He said that every voter who supports the Government on 26th November will have to accept the responsibility for the casualty list. I wonder how my friend would have felt if the proposition had been put to him in 1942 or 1943 that every person who voted for the Labour Party on that occasion would have to accept responsibility for the casualty list. I wonder whether the honorable member could have found the wherewithal to have told that to our Royal Australian Air Force squadrons in the United Kingdom in 1943. I wonder whether he could have been persuaded to put that view to those who were rotting out an existence in various prison camps. But here, tonight, the honorable gentleman has been putting to the Australian people - one can only assume with a measure of sincerity - that those who vote for the Government on 26th November must accept responsibility for the casualty lists. When the honorable gentleman began his speech he invited me to give him my views on one or two things. I assure him that before I sit down I will whelk his hide with spurs.
– 1 know that the very thought of this is unpleasant to the honorable gentleman, but there it is. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro began by making an attack on my honorable and learned friend, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes), on the question of trade with Communist China. There is no need for me, of all people in this place, to say where I stand on that subject. So far as I am concerned not 1 lb. of wool or 1 lb. of anything would go to Communist China.
– Then why support the Government which does that?
– I listened to the honorable gentleman in, I hope, exemplary silence. If the honorable member needs a little sedation we will get the doctor, but I ask him to please sit there and try take it. I am putting my view which is a stark view. I know that my view is not shared by some of my colleagues on this side of the chamber, but at least those on this side who disagree are not driven out into the wilderness like the honorable and gallant member for Batman (Mr. Benson). That is the whole difference and this distinguishes our side of politics from the honorable member’s side of politics. This is the great distinction. I assure the honorable member for Eden-Monaro that on 26th November the people will be seised of this distinction and I have no doubt that the majority of people in Eden-Monaro itself will understand and that we will have a new member for Eden-Monaro. But what does amaze me about the honorable gentleman’s arguments about trade with Communist China is that he did not venture to say where he stood or where his Party stood. He turned round, not towards the Opposition Whip, the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), but towards some other person in that part of the chamber, and asked in a rhetorical way: “ Why do we not sell them ammunition? “ Is that a serious proposition? Does the honorable member for Eden-Monaro suggest seriously that the Government should sell ammunition to Communist China? Not only did he fail to say where he and the Labour Party stand on the question of trade with Communist China; I thought his argument on this subject was an astonishing admission at long last that Communist China was involved in South Vietnam.
– Of course it is involved, in the provision of supplies.
– 1 am prepared to interrupt any form of choir practice to get that admission from him. Does the honorable member say that it is involved?
– Of course, it is involved, in the provision of supplies to North Vietnam from Australia.
– May I tell my honorable friend that the first teach-in held in Australia was at the Queensland University. I know that this will dampen his spirit, but I was there and the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) was there. It was, as it were, a meeting of friends and supporters. This occasion was some two and a half years ago. But to this moment the honorable member for Yarra has, in season and out of season, through Christmases and New Years, persisted in the view that Communist China is in no way involved in South Vietnam. Here, yet again, is another conflict within the remnants of the Australian Labour Party. We know that Marxist philosophy rests upon the proposition that one makes .progress through conflict. All I can say, with all charily, is that the Labour Party is striving mightily to emulate that policy.
But the honorable member for EdenMonaro, having dealt in what I thought was a most discourteous way with the argument put by my honorable friend from Parkes, said that war is being waged by America to prevent South Vietnam from being taken over by a Communist Government. The honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) asked him, again I thought with characteristic courtesy: “ Well, what does the honorable member say about that? “ The honorable member for Eden-Monaro seemed to get a little stirred and then went on to say that South Vietnam is gradually being taken over by the Communists. I do not know what sort of fairy tales the honorable gentleman is more immediately susceptible to, but of the 43 provinces in South Vietnam not one today is under Communist control. But this, according to the honorable gentleman, represents a notable Communist victory. Honorable members will have noticed that not one syllable came from the honorable gentleman about the recent elections in South Vietnam. He did not advert to the fact that, of the population of South Vietnam approximately 7,500,000 would have been what could be described as within the voting age, 5 million registered and 4 million voted. Bearing in mind that all these people are exposed to tyranny, to threats and, indeed, to the danger of murder, the fact that 4 million of them went along and voted to elect a constituent assembly represents a notable and singular advance in the establishment of a sound political and social base in South Vietnam. But the honorable gentleman dismisses this as though it had not happened. I remind him, and, if I may, I also remind people outside this place, that on polling day in South Vietnam there were 128 acts of sabotage, 30 people were killed and 166 people wounded. Those of us who live in democratic countries do not do our cause or our traditions any service by forgetting to acknowledge the tremendous efforts that have been made by people less fortunately placed than we. But tonight we heard the honorable member for EdenMonaro telling us that in South Vietnam things are deteriorating. I should have thought that the honorable gentleman could at least have acknowledged the tremendous gesture by the people of South Vietnam in electing a constituent assembly a short time ago.
I invite the members of the Labour Party to say at this point of time where they stand on the question of South Vietnam. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) a few weeks ago said - and I think I give the effect of what he said: “ We will fight the next Federal election on the question of South Vietnam “. But what is the policy of the Labour Party on South Vietnam? It is very difficult to distil a single policy from all the views put forward. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro has put forward a view tonight, and several of his colleagues have given their views. The only consistent thing about the views they have expressed is their inconsistency.
– Oh, come! That remark is a bit platitudinous.
– It might have been thought a mild piece of exaggeration, but I have made the charge and I will endeavour to prove it. First, take the view put forward by my friend’s Leader. I presume you do follow him, do you? Possibly you do, if not with alacrity then in silence. Speaking in this place in May 1965 the Leader of the Opposition said -
On behalf of all my colleagues of Her Majesty’s Opposition-
Note the imperial tone of “ Her Majesty’s Opposition “ -
I say that we oppose the Government’s decision to send 800 men to fight in Vietnam. We oppose it firmly and completely.
There is view No. 1. View No. 2 was put by the Federal Secretary of the Australian Labour Party, Mr. Cyril Wyndham, and was reported in the Brisbane “ CourierMail “ of 4th April 1966. I am delighted to find, by the way, that members of the Labour Party are now acknowledging the fact that Australian newspapers do report accurately. The newspaper article said -
The Australian Labour Party general secretary (Mr. Cyril Wyndham) said in Brisbane last night that if Labour were in power, it would call the “ conscripts “ home from Vietnam as quickly as it could.
View No. 3 appeared in the publication called “ Fact “ published by the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labour Party. In the issue of 22nd April 1966 the following appeared -
The Leader of the Federal Opposition, Mr. Arthur Calwell, has declared that he will “live or perish, politically “ on the issue of conscription.
– Is that all that is wrong with him?
– No, that is not all that is wrong with him. He has many problems and this is indeed one of them. View No. 4 was given when my friend, the honorable and learned Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) appeared on a television programme on 23rd April 1966 and said, in reply to a question concerning the position of national servicemen in Vietnam - f would think, if the facts are the same as they are now, that any conscripts who were there would be given the free opportunity of withdrawing from active service. The other question is, about volunteers in Vietnam. We are stuck in Vietnam as long as the Americans are there. We should, however, be talcing some initiative, and 1 have not been able to discover any initiative that the Government has taken to get the Americans off the hook.
I put it to the honorable member for EdenMonaro that there are three plainly identifiable but nevertheless distinctly different views in those statements that I have quoted.
– Well, I am charitable and I always believe in erring on the side of sheer conservatism. First there is the view that immediately upon its election a Labour government would give the national servicemen the free opportunity of withdrawing. This, if I may so describe it with respect, is the Whitlam view. The second is that im mediately upon its election a Labour government would bring home all national servicemen serving overseas. This is the Calwellian and Wyndham view. The third is that immediately upon its election a Labour government would bring home all troops from South Vietnam. This is the Ho Chi Jim view - I beg your pardon, the Cairns and Hartley view.
I think the people of this country are entitled to know where the Labour Party stands on the question of Australian involvement in South Vietnam. If we arc to approach the people of this country on 26th November and say to them, in the language of the honorable member for EdenMonaro: “Do you approve or disapprove of where we stand? “, at least the people are entitled to know where the Labour Party stands. Speaking for myself - and 1 hesitate to put a partisan view - as I see the Labour Party, it is standing on the sands of utter uncertainty.
.- I have listened to the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) through 15 minutes of theatricals. He uttered a great number of untruths about statements supposed to have been made. I wish to challenge him first on his statement about the policy of the Labour Party with regard to the Vietnam war, Australia’s participation in that war, and the withdrawal of our troops, and I seek the permission of the Committee to have a statement of our pOliCy incorporated in “ Hansard “.
Government supporters. - No.
– There they go, Mr. Deputy Chairman. Immediately I seek to have our policy incorporated in “ Hansard “ the honorable member for Moreton, showing utter hypocrisy, refuses to allow this to be done. The honorable member gave us another untruth when he said that the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) said at a teach-in in Brisbane about two and a half years ago, and has continued to say in and out of season, that Communist China is in no way involved in South Vietnam. This is a complete untruth. The honorable member for Yarra at all times has given the facts and figures concerning foreign involvement in South Vietnam. When he said about two and a half or three years ago the involvement was at the level of only about 6 per cent., he was giving the official figure from the American White Paper. He thrashed the Government to such effect that never do we hear a government supporter mention the American White Paper. “ Aggression from the North “.
The honorable member for Moreton took to task the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) with regard 10 a parallel between the Vietnam civil war and Australia’s peril in 1942. I wish to quote the words of a distinguished American newspaper editor, Everett G. Martin, head of the Saigon bureau of “ Newsweek “. In the issue of that publication for 12th September 1966, under the heading “Vietnam: Correcting the Crucial Error”, the following remarks of Mr. Martin appear -
Although the U.S. has put heavy emphasis on the need to win the support of peasants living -:n areas contested by the Viet Cong, we have yet to convince even those Vietnamese dwelling in the most secure areas of the country that there ,s a cause worth fighting for.
This is what the American editor had to say. He went on -
Perhaps even more disturbing than the state ot the Vietnamese Army, however, is the fact that the greatest indifference to the war effort is found among Vietnam’s young people. The Communist menace simply does not worry many of them. “At least the Viet Cong are Vietnamese,” shrugged one young girl.
This is the view of an American editor, expressing in turn the views of the young Vietnamese who are not prepared to fight for their own so-called government. Yet this Government undertakes the conscription of the youth of Australia and involves them in a civil war and the internal affairs of another country.
Members of the Country Party are selling their wheat to China. At least the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) is opposed to sales of wheat to China. He said that the money received was bloodstained in the pockets, of the Country Party. So there is a division in the coalition. The honorable member for Moreton said he was opposed to the sale of wheat to China. The honorable member has been consistent on this, and this also shows the great division in the Government forces.
Members of the Opposition have said -(insistently and without hypocrisy that we believe that trade with all countries should be expanded because we believe sincerely that trade is a means of breaking down barriers. Trade is the first line of any country’s defence. We believe that trade can be built up and bring good will to the world. We have said this so many times before. Trade is important, very important. We support trade with China and with all countries. I want to refer to these members of the Country Party in the back benches who are laughing. They are full of jungle juice; they seem to need it. It seems to give them courage. The honorable member for Moreton did not speak about peace negotiations. He did not speak about trying to settle the war in Vietnam by peaceful means. He is an adherent of the holy war. So, of course, is his colleague the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes). The honorable member for Parkes also is an advocate of the holy war. Did he say at any time that he stands for peaceful negotiation in order to try to bring peace to this troubled country? No. He wanted to attack the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns).
The honorable member for Parkes attacked the five members of the Labour Party who were elected to the party’s Foreign Affairs Committee at our Federal Executive. The election of the five members concerned was endorsed by the special Federal Conference at Surfer’s Paradise recently. The Labour Party is a broad Party and represents a wide section of the Australian community. It is a truly Australian Party, and no section can try to force its point of view down the throat of the Australian Labour Party. If a loaded committee report went to the Federal Conference it would finish up in the garbage can. Honorable members should not be misled by the utterances of the honorable member for Parkes. He made no mention of negotiations for peace in Vietnam.
I briefly want to say something in regard to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Malcolm Fraser). Last night during the adjournment debate the Minister for the Army disclosed what he considered to be the sinister background of Mrs. A. Michaelis. the mother of Robert Michaelis, the lad who refused to wear an Army cadet -uniform at a school recently. The Minister disclosed that Mrs. Michaelis was a committee member of the
Association of Internationa! Co-operation and Disarmament and was also a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. It seems that to be a member of these organisations is a terribly sinister thing. But the fact remains that there are members of the Liberal Party on the committee of the Association of International Co-operation and Disarmament. There is also a wide section of the Australian community connected with it. Representatives of a wide section of the community sponsored the conference of that Association that was heid in Sydney in 1964. It was sponsored by such distinguished people as Sir Walter Murdoch, Bishop Moyes and other distinguished Australians. This distinguished group of women - I repeat, distinguished group of women - for Whom I have the highest respect, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, was founded in 1917. It is a pacifist organisation. It is associated with the United Nations and it is a very fine body of women for whomI have the utmost respect.
In the last few minutes remaining to me 1 want to return to the subject of Vietnam because we have to be concerned about the problems of that country. What has the Labour Party said? We have consistently said that we call for a cease fire. We have consistently said that there cannot be a military victory for either side in Vietnam. We have called for both parties to make compromises, to make concessions and to return to a Geneva-like conference. The Labour Party has stated these objectives consistently. We have asked that concessions be made on both sides. I want to quote from a speech I made this year on Vietnam. 1 made three speeches in the last session relating to Vietnam, but on10th May 1966 I said-
Labour believes thata conference similar to the Geneva Conference of 1954 should be convened. We believe that compromises should be made on both sides. We believe that the Vietcong should be recognised as one of the negotiating parties at the conference table. We believe that the bombing of North Vietnam should cease. On the other hand, we do not support the proposition that United States forces and installations should be withdrawn before negotiations commence.
That is what I said. Now what is the position? Mr. Goldberg. Ambassador for the U.S. at the United Nations, has said, for the first time for the United States, that there is going to be no bar to accepting the Vietcong as one of the negotiating parties at the conference table. This is the view of the United States representative at the United Nations, and this is the first time that the United States has compromised to this extent. He also said that if certain undertakings were carried out that the bombing of North Vietnam would cease. Now, what is the position as reported in today’s Press? I quote from a reputable conservative newspaper the “ Canberra Times “. The headline is “ Viet Cong Puts Three Steps To Peace.” Then the article states -
The three conditions were outlined today by Radio Hanoi, and appear to be close enough to the stated goals of the United States as not to preclude negotiations.
In brief, the list issued by the Viet Cong demands: Withdrawal of U.S. troops; Respect forSouth Vietnam’s sovereignty; A decisive role for the N.L.F. in any settlement.
The newspaper goes on to state -
Unlike previous Lsts it contained no demand for prior withdrawal of U.S. troops or for a settlement based exclusively on the Communist political programme.
This is a further compromise by the National Liberation Front. The Labour Party has stressed over and over again that we want to see compromises made on both sides. It seems to me that both sides are moving towards this position. On the one hand the United States is compromising and on the other the National Liberation Front is also making certain concessions. Surely both sides of this Parliament should come together. We have young men dying in Vietnam. Surely every member of the Australian Parliament should try to bring about a ceasefire and to bring the parties to the negotiation table so that more Australians will not be killed in this useless, bloody, stupid war.
– Tell that to the Vietcong.
– “ Tell that to the Vietcong,” says this man of holy war; this man who wants to press the trigger of hopelessness; this man who really wants to escalate the war, who wants to move into North Vietnam, who wants to move into Cambodia, who wants to move into Laos, and who wants to denuclearise China. I am speaking of the honorable member for Parkes, this follower and supporter of the holy war who, during the IS minutes he was speaking, did not once suggest sitting down at the conference table and endeavouring to conduct peaceful negotiations.
The Labour Party, on the other hand, stands for peaceful negotiations. We want to settle this dispute because we do not want to see our young men suffer and perish in the jungles of Vietnam. I remind the honorable member for Parkes that I, too, visited Saigon last October and saw the hell our men are living in. I also lived in that area for three and a half years during the last war. I know the hell they have to go through. I know what jungle is. 1 know the conditions under which they have to live and I want to see that these young men are not maimed for life but are given an opportunity to return to this country.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Stewart). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- 1 am sure we have all been carried away by the impassioned speech of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren). Unfortunately, it bore a great similarity to all the other speeches he has made over the years on matters related to Communism and Communist affairs. He referred consistently to a holy war against Communism. Let me read to him this extract from a statement made by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Organisation -
Mr. President, it is because of the attempt to upset by violence the situation in Viet Nam, and its far-reaching implications elsewhere, that the United States and other countries have responded to appeals from South Viet Nam for military assistance. Our aims in giving this assistance are strictly limited. We are not engaged in a “holy war “ against communism. We do not seek to establish an American empire or a “ Sphere of influence “ in Asia. We seek no permanent military bases, no permanent establishment of troops, no permanent alliances, no permanent American “ presence “ of any kind in South Viet Nam. We do not seek to impose a policy of alignment on South Viet Nam. We do not seek the. overthrow of the Government of North Viet Nam. We do not seek to do any injury to Mainland China nor to threaten any of its legitimate interests. We do not ask of North Viet Nam an unconditional surrender or indeed the surrender of anything that belongs to it; nor do we seek to exclude any segment of the South Viet Namese people from peaceful participation in their country’s future.
This continual reference to a holy war has now become part of the Communist technique. Anyone who suggests that we should hold our military position while conducting negotiations is now considered to be a warmonger. I always think it is worthwhile to quote Labour members back to Labour members. The honorable member for Reid is an Opposition back bencher of a certain ideology. Let me quote to him what was said by an elected member of the Labour Executive - the shadow Cabinet of the Labour Party. In the “ Australian “ of Thursday, 15th September, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) is reported as having said -
How do you explain a strong defence policy while abolishing national service?
He was referring to the Labour Party’s quandary over its confused policy. He continued -
How do you explain respect for an alliance while withdrawing troops from the side of your allies? These are genuinely difficult concepts for the electorate.
He went on further -
Communism in Australia works for the withdrawal of the United States military presence in South East Asia so that Communism abroad can occupy the vacuum. The Labour Party frankly does not attempt to answer this strategy.
The honorable member took every point which has been put forward by the honorable member for Reid. He explained thai this was the confusion within the Labour Party - the great similarity of its policy to Communist policy and to the aims of the Communist Party in Vietnam. 1 come now to the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) whom we, and even the Press, thought had experienced a change of heart while he was in South East Asia. We thought that at last this disciple who had never before left the fold and who previously had only written about South East Asia, had changed his views when he saw conditions there at first hand. But apparently when he returned home to safety and security, he felt that he could revert to his old self. In an article published in the Melbourne “ Herald “ of 14th September, he set himself up as a military strategist. He told the United States, the Austraiian military advisers and indeed the world what he considered would solve the problem. He said’ -
The military escalation is unnecessary and unjustified. … It may be justified if it was genuinely in defence of Australia or America, or if it was in the interests of the people of Vietnam. But it is not.
This, I remind honorable members, is the opinion of the honorable member for Yarra. He continued -
The war in Vietnam is not in defence of Australia or America because it does not involve a threat to us. It is not aggression from the North.
As the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) have pointed out, he has contradicted himself on a number of occasions now. I do not know what the honorable member for Reid or the honorable member for Yarra think they are. What value can be put on their views? Throughout his article, the honorable member for Yarra quoted Prince Souvanna Phouma, the Prime Minister of Laos, and Professor H. Morgenthan of America, but he selected only those parts of their comments which supported his case. For example, he did not quote what Prince Souvanna Phouma had to say on Sth December 1964 in a foreword to the booklet “ North Vietnamese Interference in Laos “ published by the Laotian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ruler of Laos said this -
The situation in Laos is not just an internal affair. It is but one aspect of the ideological war being waged by the Democratic Republics of Vietnam in accordance with their policy of Communist expansion in South East Asia.
He continued -
The Geneva Agreements of 1954 and 1962 would have succeeded long ago had Communist interference ceased completely and had the Democratic Republic of North Vietnam been content to set its own house in order. As it is, the Free World will continue the struggle to prevent the area from falling into the Communist camp, a struggle which always finds support in Laos.
I also have a statement made in Vien.tianne by an official spokesman on the 16th March 1966. It says exactly the same thing, but we hear no mention of these opinions from honorable members opposite. 1 repeat that they pick out statements which support their case. If any of the leaders of the free countries in Asia say anything to suggest that there is a need for the free world to stand together to ensure the right of the small young nations of the area to retain their democracy their statements are never quoted by honorable members opposite.
That is the trouble with some of the academics, theorists and generalisers whom we hear at the present time. They talk about the long term. We never hear from them anything savouring of a sense of urgency and immediacy about the situation. The actuality is that the problems are dynamic and pressing now. The Communists must be resisted now. The thrust of Communism in Asia is designed to exercise continuous pressure and not to permit a rest. The thrust is to eliminate noncommunist regimes. We are dealing with men and movements who do not believe in . peaceful change and peaceful coexistence, and who are brought up to violence, intolerance and faith in interminable struggle. They are men who believe that armed struggle buds from political struggle and that the highest form of struggle is people’s war, with all its licence for barbarity and the overturning of human values.
In virtually every South East Asian country, any dissident movement, whether fully developed or only in embryo, attracts Communist attention. Communist pressure is directed towards the overthrow of the existing economic, social and political systems. The countering of this challenge requires the adoption of a whole spectrum of measures ranging from economic and defence support aid to military commitment. Where are the capacity and resources to come from if not from the United States of America and other developed countries? To take one example alone, no country in South East Asia has a significant domestic defence industry. Budget support might be required where a government’s capacity has been eroded or the costs of its indigenous defence forces are beyond it. A ravaged administration may need a whole complex of aid in the form of skills, equipment and resources of all kinds. The issue of South East Asia today is whether it is to become a region dominated by China and progressively to become Communist or whether it is to be a region of independent, secure, sovereign states. The final answer may not be found now. But there is not much doubt about what the eventual answer will be if an effort is not made now.
The need is to construct now the framework of a structure of peace and stability that will carry into the future as China grows in strength and power - to construct now some balance of stability that China will respect out of self interest as an industrialising and nuclear power. This is to be done by establishing the rights of the peripheral countries to sovereignty and national independence. The Vietnamese, the Burmese, the Laotians, the Cambodians, the Thais and the Malaysians do not want Chinese hegemony. It is not an anti-Chinese policy to create for China’s neighbours conditions in which they can maintain their own national aspirations and historical identity and enjoy national sovereignty. Consistent with national sovereignty, of course, various international understandings and guarantees that protect the security interests of all concerned can exist.
With respect to Vietnam, the countries in the region do not regard themselves as innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire of conflict between China on the one hand and the United States and its South East Asia Treaty Organisation allies on the other. The countries in the region are very deeply concerned at the prospect that their future also is at issue. Anyone who listens carefully to what they have to say on the subject knows that they do not want the United States to be humiliated. They do not want South Vietnam to go Communist. Lee Kuan Yew, the Prime Minister of Singapore, has said -
We know that if the Communists are able to advance their frontiers to envelop South Vietnam it will only be a matter of time before the same process of emasculation by military and political techniques will overtake the neighbouring countries. As democratic Socialists, we must insist that the South Vietnamese have the right not to be pressured through armed might and organised terror and finally overwhelmed by Communism.
The Malayian emergency showed how much is required in terms of resources and time to crush a minority terrorist movement that is dedicated to revolutionary struggle. Remnants of Communist terrorists in Malaya exist and wait, and well organised Peking Communist organisations exist and plot in Sarawak and Thailand. They are waiting for mounting strains and tensions between Malays and Chinese, for other kinds of internal political crises or for favorable international developments. What makes them an enduring threat is the fact that, although they know that they cannot expect to capture these states by planned revolt, they are prepared, when they think the time is ripe, to try to plunge the whole area into turbulence and disruption in order to produce the conditions for what they call “ protracted struggle “, which would eventually produce Communism.
– Why does not the honorable member write a speech for himself?
– Stability, if it can take root, gives confidence, assurance and scope for rational policy making. The Communists seek disruption, demoralisation and the creation of revolutionary situations. I can understand the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) not liking this, because he does not like much that is done by anybody who acts in the interests of his country. Australian participation in South East Asia is for the purpose of helping to create stability. Where stability can be created, Communist revolutionary forces become weaker. Malaya and Singapore have succeeded in limiting and reducing Communist strength and influence by creating stability and healthier societies and by developing strong and sophisticated internal security systems. One needed years of considerable military support and the other had that kind of support in the background. It is. of course, natural for Australia to emphasise its own values of political stability and material development. Stability is vital for the countries of the region if they are to make a peaceful transition to effective nationhood. 1 repeat that stability, if it can take root, gives confidence, assurance and scope for rational policy making. I repeat also that the Communists seek disruption, demoralisation and the creation of revolutionary situations.
For these reasons, the Australian Government believes that it has a part to play in South East Asia, together with other free nations, in seeing that the small nations of that region are at least accorded the right to choose sovereignty and independence. This right should be given to them and they should not be subverted. As the honorable member for Fremantle has said, the Communists should not be able to move into those countries and work against governments and the aspirations and hopes of the people. I conclude by saying that the only thing that the honorable member for Grayndler seems to be able to do consistently is to yap about what we should nol do and to complain about the effort thai Australia is making to defend not only its own freedom but also the freedom of the other small countries in this region of the world. If this is the best that he can do after the 444 years - at least, that is how long he makes it seem - for which he has been in this Parliament, making no effort at any time to secure the freedom of the Australian people or of the people in the countries nearby, I suggest that he should get out.
.- 1 wish to discuss our representation in the United Arab Republic. Before doing so, I want to comment on the remarks made by the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin). I agree with him that if the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) is to return to this place before we adjourn for the general election, the consideration of the estimates of this Department could surely have been postponed until the Minister was able to be present. When members have made their contributions to the discussion, it is good to see the Minister make his comments in reply. On this occasion, the Minister is not present, and I regret that he is not here.
– He is at work in New York.
– I know that he has a job to do there. But I would have liked him to be here during the consideration of the estimates of his Department if possible. The honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin) discussed aid given by Australia under the Colombo Plan. I just want to say bow pleased I am that Australia is going ahead with this splendid Plan. I believe that the young people who come here from nearby countries to study should be made aware of the fact that they are here not for the good of Australia but for the good of their own countries. We bring them here to train them so that they can go back to their own countries after learning modern ways and teach their own people to live what, I hope, will be a better way of life. They are welcome in this country and we are all glad to see them here. Locals have to give up places at our universities to make room for those young Asians who are given university training here. This is a big sacrifice that many Australians are making for the sake of young people who come from neighbouring Asian countries for training here.
On looking through the estimates of the Department, I notice the various salaries that are paid to our ambassadors throughout the world. To me they seem a little odd and unreal. Our Ambassador to the Philippines receives $8,860 a year. Our Ambassador to Sweden receives $9,714. Our Ambassador to Japan receives $17,500. That is rather odd. What amazes me is that our Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland receives $10,686. I would have liked to hear the Minister for External Affairs comment on these varying salaries. Our Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland gets more than our Ambassador to the Philippines. He also gets more than our Ambassador to Indonesia, who receives $9,714. Our Ambassador to the United States of America receives $11,418 but our Ambassador to Vietnam receives only $9,714, which is less than is paid to our Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland. I would think that our Ambassador to Vietnam would be in a hotter seat than would be our Ambassador to Ireland.
– I would not say that, not when the Irish blew up Nelson’s monument.
– Well, that is the way I see it, notwithstanding the views of the honorable member for Watson. Good luck to the Ambassador to Ireland for doing so well.
– He is a good man.
– I do not know how they are chosen for the various posts, but I am appreciative of the job they are doing for Australia. Division No. 201 deals with the estimates for our Embassy in the United Arab Republic. I would like to see a greater realisation in Australia of the importance of the United Arab Republic. This is a country which was virtually unknown until
World War II. After the discovery of oil there it became one of the richest countries in the world. The annual income of the United Arab Republic is £1,000 million sterling a year. It now produces 63 per cent, of the world’s oil supplies. It is a bigger supplier of oil than is the United States. I give these facts because it has been suggested to me that we should have an embassy in Saudi Arabia. At present, we have an embassy in Cairo but businessmen have told me that this is not good enough. We must have an embassy where the business is. We must get to know the people of the United Arab Republic better. They do not need economic aid but they want our goods. They want to exchange things with us. I hope that the Government will consider establishing an embassy in Saudi Arabia. This country is a very important area. It is an area to which some 315 million Moslems hope one day to go - to Mecca. As the world becomes more affluent more people will visit Saudi Arabia. Australia has a great opportunity to become better known in this part of the world by setting up an embassy in Saudi Arabia.
I would like to say something about the assistance that is being given to South Vietnam. Many people are not aware of the many countries which are presently giving assistance to South Vietnam. Last year in another place a question was asked regarding the aid being given to South Vietnam and the countries contributing. I know that the provision of aid to South Vietnam is a complex matter.
Great Britain, a member of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, has no troops in South Vietnam. Some people ask why Australia has sent troops there when Britain has not, because Britain, like us, is a member of S.E.A.T.O. But everybody knows that the S.E.A.T.O. pact does not prescribe that troops should be sent to South Vietnam. This is a matter which is is left to individual countries. They may give whatever aid they see fit. Britain has said that as she is a co-chairman of the Geneva Conference she finds it better, not to have troops in South Vietnam, but to give material aid.
Let me list some of the countries which are giving aid to South Vietnam. Brazil sends medical supplies and coffee. Canada provides economic aid, technical assistance and experts in civil and field training facilities. She also has a big team in the country giving advice on flood relief. The Republic of China is giving economic aid, technical assistance and providing experts in civil and military fields and in training facilities. She is also providing flood relief. Ecuador is sending medical supplies. Franki, is giving economic aid and technical assistance and providing experts in civil and field training facilities and flood relief. Germany is providing economic aid, technical assistance and experts in civil and field training facilities and flood relief. Greece is sending medical assistance. Guatemala is providing medical assistance. Iran is sending petroleum products. Israel is providing medical assistance and training facilities. Italy is sending experts in the medical field and is providing training facilities. Japan is giving economic aid and providing technical assistance and experts in civil and field training facilities and flood relief. South Korea has soldiers in Vietnam, of course, and in addition is sending trained experts into the high mountains. Malaysia is providing technical assistance and training facilities. The Netherlands has a medical team in the country and experts in flood relief. New Zealand is doing a job similar to that being done by Australia but on a smaller scale. The Philippines has men in the field and also is sending medical assistance. Spain is sending medical supplies. Sweden is providing civil relief. Switzerland is providing science equipment. Thailand is sending men and is providing medical aid and training facilities. Turkey is sending medical supplies. The United States, of course, has big military forces in South Vietnam. Many countries are helping South Vietnam. I think these facts should be recorded.
I want to say how pleased I am to know that next month President Marcos of the Philippines has called a conference in Manila. I hope that the conference will be successful. I am sure we all hope it will be successful. I am sure that we all hope that the war in South Vietnam will cease as a result of the conference in the Philippines. Great steps have been made even at this late stage towards getting people together around the table in Manila. As
I have said before, I hope that the days that pass before there is a cease fire will be few.
Since 1948, people have been worried about the trend of events in South East Asia. But no adverse comments were made about the role played by British forces in Malaysia between 1948 and 1960 in stopping the spread of Communism or about the role Australian forces played in Korea in 1953 under United Nations command. I first went back to Singapore in 1963 and I visited there again last year. I was just looking at some of the notes I made at the time. In 1963, Lord Selkirk was the High Commissioner for Great Britain in Singapore. He said that the Commonwealth would be expected to play a bigger part in the area, and that, as Australia was adjacent to the area and, no matter what happened in Singapore, would have a greater responsibility than any of the other countries, he felt that we should do all in our power to help in the area. He added that Britain would have to get out of the area, and events have proved him to be right. This was three years ago. He told our delegation that Britain would have to withdraw and he suggested to us that, as Britain withdrew, we should take her place and make the area stable.
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew said to me that he was pleased to see Australian forces in Malaysia. He said that all that worried him when Australian forces were in Singapore was that, when there was talk of Singapore breaking away from Malaysia, the Australian forces may have been used against him. That was the thought he passed on to me, but it did not come about. He is very glad that our forces are in Malaysia. He told me that they would be needed in the area for a long time. I hope that our forces will be in the area for a long time and that they will be there as ambassadors for Australia, doing all they can to build up a great friendship between us and our near neighbours.
– It is a great honour to follow the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) in this debate tonight. Two features of his speech are worth recalling. It is a great honour to follow him, first, because be has brought a rare sincerity and courage to this place in the expression of his views. This provides a lesson for many other honorable members. The second part of his speech had a quality that is also worth recalling. It was based upon the supposition and the clear acknowledgement that there is Communist expansion in this part of the world and that we should at least have some kind of reaction to it.
As has been said before, we are not considering the details of the estimates that are before us, but we are looking at the whole gamit and the whole philosophy that underlies our foreign policy. If we review our foreign policy over the past 11 or 12 years, we can see that the Government has pursued a line of action that is consistently logical. It has been consistently opposed by the Opposition. Let me go over five points of delineation between the attitude of the Government and that of the Opposition since 1954 or 1955. In the first place, we had the Japanese Trade Treaty. This was an economic document. It was designed on the face of it to raise the standards of living of two countries in Asia - Australia and Japan. It was to have advantages for both countries. But there was a philosophy behind the Japanese Trade Treaty, and the philosophy was simple. We did not want Japan to fall increasingly into the orbit of influence of China. It had already been demonstrated in 1956 that Peking had specific intentions and aims in its black coal trade with Japan. This was the philosophy that lay behind our negotiation of the Treaty.
We developed an attitude towards Peking in the diplomatic recognition of Peking. This was opposed by the Opposition; it was supported by the Government. It was supported by the Government because we recognised, as the honorable member for Batman has, that there is a necessary Communist Chinese expansionism in this area to which we must react. We were emboldened in this view by the views of such people as Paul-Henri Spaak, who intimated that to extend diplomatic recognition to Peking would only enable her better to ferment revolution in Africa. As a Belgian Socialist, he was concerned with Africa; but as Australians living where we are, we ought not to do anything that will better raise Peking’s prestige and enable her to ferment revolution in Asia.
Again, in our attitude towards Taiwan, we had that infamous rider in the 1959 Conference of the Party opposite, in which it was said that no doubt suitable arrangements would be made with respect to Taiwan. Of course, the suitable arrangements are not ones that would guarantee the freedom of the people. Then we had our policy on troops in Malaysia. All these policies were based on the supposition and the knowledge that China wished to expand her influence in this part of the world. In each of these, a difference existed between ourselves and the Party opposite. It was a clear and precise difference. It was a chasm that was widening considerably. We had our policy towards the radio communications station in the north west of Western Australia. We knew that we had to invite the United States to participate in this area, again because China overhangs both the Indian Ocean and a large part of the South West Pacific area.
In a logical extension of these policies, Australia now has troops fighting in Vietnam. Of course, we are opposed in this by the Opposition, as we have been opposed in each of the previous policies by the Opposition over the past 12 years. We have kept to a logical path, and I would suggest that at least since 1954 and 1955 the Opposition has kept to a tragically logical path and has failed to recognise China for what she is and what she has professed herself to be. Some presumptions underly our policy on China. China has a capacity to dominate Asia culturally, industrially and militarily. This could hardly be denied, and we must react to it. We are reacting at present in Vietnam.
Let us have a look at the attitudes of honorable members opposite. One can discern three distinct types of attitude towards these events. First, we have the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), and I presume he is supported by the honorable members for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) and Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who are attempting to interject. The Leader of the Opposition was upset by a change in the power structure in his organisation some years ago. I feel that, quite sincerely, he does not like the views he must propose. They are contrary to the views he had to propose in the years immediately preceding this period. Then we come to the honor able member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). There is something logical about his views, and he has not varied a great deal from them except for peripheral matters. He has a determinist view of history in this part of the world and it is simply this: China is going to dominate Asia, she is going to dominate South East Asia and we necessarily have to live with this. We do not alter this; we do not oppose it; but we have to live with it. Of course honorable members, such as the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray), support this kind of view. In a debate with me recently at Alexandra Headland - and he will acknowledge this - he said: “I do not care if all of South East Asia falls to Communist China “.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for Capricornia quite clearly and explicitly said: “ I do not care if all of South East Asia falls to Communist China “. Then we have the third view - the view of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). One could class it as a boy scout policy - a simple boy scout policy. I do not think he has passed all his examinations, and I do not think he could win a paper chase, but one thing is clear, namely, that people should not move around in their policies like a person chasing a piece of paper. One must have principles to get respect, and in matters of national security and of foreign policy the type of attitude I have referred to is not good enough. It will not receive the support of the people of this country.
It might be said that we are taking an unnecessarily alarmist view of events. We have always related the security of Australia to events both as they emanate from Peking and as they are reflected from Hanoi. We take this simple view, and it may be over simplified. It might be said that other leaders in Asia do not take this view of events. It might be said that other leaders in Asia are supported by the view that China is not a maritime power, therefore we ought not to be concerned. Let us examine some of the views expressed by President Marcos of the Philippines in February and March of this year, because they are worth considering. That nation is not contiguous to the Asian mainland, it is separated by a deal of water from China. President Marcos said -
If the Reds win in Vietnam that victory will signal the reactivation of Communist insurgency all over South East Asia, including the Philippines. Almost certainly it will mean renewed Communist activity in the Philippines. There should be no misunderstanding on this point. Philippines assistance to Vietnam is based on a hard headed assessment of our national interests.
He went further and said -
We feel, therefore, that assistance to Vietnam today constitutes one form of guarantee that Communist activity does not arise in our country again.
He acknowledged the clear connection between concern for the safety of his own country and the events that are taking place in Vietnam and China today. He could not be ignorant of it. It might be said that this is not so important because, after all, the great bulk of the Australian people are not greatly moved by it. The great bulk of the Australian people will not accept halfbaked, boy scout, academic interpretations of events in Asia which will not guarantee their own security and their own freedom. Of course, there are very old and very respected union and Labour journals which also take this view. The Queensland “ Worker “ of a fortnight ago in reviewing attitudes on foreign policy said -
The last two weeks has seen the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party sink to its lowest ebb since its formation early this century.
After writing a long editorial on foreign policy it said -
As we said before, while the Federal A.L.P. heels hard Left, it will continue to sail political reef infested seas. Unfortunately for the mass of decent workers of this country who will not have a bar of far-out left policies, the Grand Old Party of Curtin and Chifley is doomed to eternal opposition while it steers its present course.
– That is Santamaria stuff.
– The honorable member has the wrong organisation. This was written by Edgar Williams in the Queensland “Worker”, which used to be an influence in the Australian Labour Party back in the days when the Labour Party used to win elections. When the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) attends his conference in Brisbane over the weekend he might call on his fellow colleague of the Australian Labour Party,
Edgar Williams, and have a discussion about the slight and gentle differences they have in these policy matters. While he is running counter to the old tradition of his Party, he will not receive support from the mass of Australian people, both men and women. They will reject the Labour Party and will continue to reject it while it pursues far out left policies. Will the honorable member for Wills call on Edgar Williams and ask him what he thinks about these matters and try to come to some rationalisation of his policy with the policy of his own people? Unless he does so he will get a clear warning from one of the oldest trade union journals in Australia, and one of the most respected, that his present attitudes will not receive support from the men and women of this country. The Opposition will not receive support in either the northern or the southern States.
.- I suppose one of the greatest phoneys in this Parliament would be the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns). He is one of those fellows who prays all day on Sunday against the Communists and does nothing to defeat them for the other six days of the week. Tonight we heard a tirade against the Labour Party on the question of Communism. We heard stories from him about how the Labour Party is right with the Communists, but nothing at all about how he supports silently, and without any protest, trade with the people he says are destroying the very welfare and security of the Australian people. If the honorable member for Lilley is fair, and if he is sincere, why does he not protest against trade with Communist China? Wheat has been sent to China to feed the Communist armies, wool to clothe them and leather to provide their boots. In addition, animal substances, tin plate, steel sheet and tallow have been sent to China. Why does not the hypocritical member for Lilley stand in his place and protest against Liberal Party policy that wallows in the blood of Australian servicemen and hears the gold of Communist China jingling in the pockets of the Australian Country Party? The phoney, nohoper, hypocritical member for Lilley on Sunday prays in accordance with the traditions of his faith against the onward march of Communism but every day of the week dismisses the principles he espouses on Sunday and attacks members of the Australian Labour Party in this Parliament. Where does the honorable member stand on Vietnam? What is the real cause behind Vietnam? What is the Government afraid of in its policy as expounded in the estimates we are discussing? What is the Government afraid of in respect of Vietnam? Are Government supporters ashamed of their policies? If they are not, why do they not get up and support the policies they espouse? Why do they support policies of hate against those who seek to speak against suppression of the things that are necessary in this country?
If the honorable member believes in the conscription of Australian servicemen to fight in Vietnam why does he not believe in the conscription of wealth and the placing of this country on a war footing? Why does he not believe that the B.H.P. company, General Motors-Holden’s and others should be conscripted for their wealth? Why should not the man who enjoys his club life, the man who enjoys his bowls on Saturday, the farmers and others make some contribution to protecting us in Vietnam as well as those 20 year olds whose names are pulled out of a barrel by a Liberal member of Parliament - executioners without masks? Why, it is sickening when you think of the way boys are dying in Vietnam today for a policy which this Government knows is wrong but which it has inflicted on the Australian people because it wants more trade with the United States and a greater return for the efforts that bring money to this country.
This country is becoming a police State under this Government. Did not honorable members see the Minister for the Army (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) today produce in this Parliament security files to defend his action against a 15 year old school boy and to support the policy of this Government? What more monstrous thing has ever been seen in this Parliament than we saw today when the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), in an endeavour to defend the indefensible policy of his Government on Vietnam, quoted from a confidential security police document and refused to table it when asked to do so by the Leader of the
Opposition (Mr. Calwell)? What else can happen in this country?
Look at the proposed visit of President Johnson. Why is he being brought here in this year? Here is a man to whom this country wants to pay homage and tribute as the leader of a great nation to which Australia owes much. But what is the Holt Government doing? It is bringing him here to use him as a political pawn to bolster up its failing fortunes in the community. Honorable members opposite are desperate. They have boys dying in Vietnam for a policy that they know is wrong. They see the bodies of these boys being brought back to Australia at a time when they will not conscript wealth and the other resources of this country. Now to bolster up their failing fortunes they are content to use one of the greatest men in the world today - President Johnson - so that he may help to win a seat or two for this falling, failing, decadent Government we have in Australia today, ls there anything more contemptible?
If President Johnson will take any notice of me I say this to him: “ Do not be used as a pawn by the discredited government which sits opposite “. Why should a great man like President Johnson, who leads a great nation, be used by the Prime Minister who has little support in this country and goes into hysterics in this Parliament every time his policy on Vietnam is challenged or anything associated with Australian servicemen there is mentioned? 1 will be a very bad judge if the mighty President of the United States allows himself to be used by this Prime Minister, and the weird members -sitting behind him, as a pawn in a political game to try to get them back to office despite the fact they have shown their incompetence and that they are prepared to sacrifice the lives of Australian servicemen in a conflict in which we should .never be engaged at this period nf our history.
No one is safe from this Government. Let us look at Sydney Grammar School, one of the greatest schools in New South Wales, the State from which I come, and the school to which Prince Charles would probably have been sent had he chosen one in New South Wales to attend. What has happened? This Government ran a security police check over the family of one of the pupils of that school. Why? This good lady, the pupil’s mother, protested against the policy of the Liberal-Country Party Government in respect of the commitment of troops to Vietnam. What a monstrous crime, to protest against the policy of the Government. Then the Minister for the Army (old us: This lady is a member of the Disarmament Congress “ or something else, “ and the honorable member for Grayndler in defending her is travelling in strange circles “. If the best salesman in the land came into this Parliament I do not think he could convince anyone that 1 was a Communist or a Communist supporter. But the Minister lined me up with those people. Why, we saw members of the Country Party and the Liberal Party line up with members of the Communist Party on the referendum relating to the reserve price scheme for wool. Mr. St. John, who has been selected to represent the Liberal Party in the electorate of the late Mr. Cockle, was listed as one allied with a South African organisation. He was, it is said, maligned by association. But here is a Liberal Government which has put the security police on to the parents of one of the pupils in the Sydney Grammar School.
– How low can a government get?
– How low can a government get in this country? Does the Government’s action mean that every person who protests against the war in Vietnam will have his parents, brothers and sisters investigated? And if any person puts his name to certain documents the Government pounces on him and says: “This person is subversive. We will stop this criticism of the Vietnam war. We will malign him in the House under privilege,” just as the Minister for the Army did today.
I wonder whether Geelong Grammar School, which has produced several honorable members on the Government side, has been investigated by the Government. Let us look at some of the school’s former pupils. Are they suspect? The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) is a former pupil of Geelong Grammar School. Mr. Minister, how would you like your parents to be maligned in this Parliament as subversive because you signed some document or other, good as it might be? The
Hon. “ Joe “ Gullett, our Ambassador to Greece, is a former pupil of Geelong Grammar School. Why should he not be suspect? After all, “ Joe “ was on the fringe once or twice, not in respect to Communist activities, but he gave extremism a go here and there. Then we have the Minister for the Army, Malcolm Fraser, also a former pupil of Geelong Grammar School.
– He is not. That is wrong.
– You are, anyway. There is a former pupil of Geelong Grammar School.
– Mr. Deputy Chairman, I rise to order. The honorable member for Grayndler is speaking completely without any authority. He does not know what he is talking about.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Peters). - Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– My information is that the honorable member for Corangamite is a former pupil of Geelong Grammar School, and not a very good one either. The point I make is this - why should we not put the security police on to him because everyone knows that although he is not a Communist he has displayed Fascist tendencies? I only point out tonight the dangers of conduct of this kind in a school like Sydney Grammar. Geoffrey 0’Halloran Giles - what a nice honest Irish name so utterly destroyed by association with the Liberal Party - is a former pupil of Geelong Grammar School. If the security police could investigate this boy who went to Sydney Grammar, these people may be investigated also.
John Gorton, Minister for Works and Minister-in-charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research, is a former pupil of Geelong Grammar School. Will he be investigated, if some poor boy whose widowed mother is trying to give him a good education is suspect because he objects to a policy of this Government which half the people of Australia do not support? 1 understand from my colleague, the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin), that His Honour Mr. Justice Kerr’s son goes to Sydney Grammar School. Many people in Sydney have sons going to Sydney Grammar School. How many parents know that the security police are on to them and that they become suspect the minute they sign any document of protest against this Government’s policies? The Minister for the Army or the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) will then stand in this place and say that these people are subversive and their children should not be allowed there.
Why, Mr. John Howse, a former Liberal member for Calare, a director of the P. & O.-Orient company and a very notable citizen, was a pupil of Geelong Grammar School. The fact that his father won the V.C. would not make him safe from the security police if he was a pupil of Sydney Grammar School. What about Dr. James Darling, formerly of Geelong Grammar School and now Head of the Australian Broadcasting Commission? Is he to be trusted? Why, he may be challenged if pupils of Sydney Grammar School are to be challenged. On what ground does the Government claim that one school is suspect and another school is not suspect? Every person in this country and every pupil in these schools is subject to the kind of intimidation which is being exercised today. Rupert Murdoch junior is a product of the Geelong Grammar School. If he were attend* ing the Sydney Grammar School, the Government would put the security police on to him and would have a file on him. The very least I can say to the parents of this country is: “For heaven’s sake, remember if you send your kids to the Sydney Grammar School, the Minister for the Army may have a security file on you, simply because this Government wants to stifle criticism in respect of Vietnam”. Honorable members opposite are ashamed of their policy. The Government will have a security file and a dossier on every child and every parent who signs anything against its policy or makes any form of protest.
Today the Minister for the Army said that I was wrong in saying that the cadets had practised Vietcong tactics in this case. I have evidence from a pupil who was at the camp that one section of the camp was labelled as a Vietcong village, and that ls what the cadets had to attack. I also have here a statement by a spokesman for the Army, as published in the “Australian” - a newspaper which is not exactly favorable to the Labor Party. This is how his statement was reported - “There is no suggestion that we are trying to indoctrinate the boys,” the spokesman said. “ It is just being realistic to use the Vietcong as the enemy in training exercises. After all Vietnam is what the Australian Army is presently concerned with.”
Training procedures given to cadets today varied little from pre-Vietnam training, said the spokesman.
Destruction of the enemy and other duties of a soldier had always been taught to cadets. “It is realistic to talk of the Vietcong as the enemy and to teach cadets on lines that would have to be faced hi Vietnam.”.
That is the report of an Army spokesman’s statement. I say to the Minister for the Army: Last night you misled this House when you said that the cadets were not practising Vietcong tactics. You produced a security file against a defenceless woman. I know of no more contemptible action by a Minister in this country than your action last night. If you are going to investigate the Sydney Grammar School, St. Joseph’s College and the Geelong Grammar School, too may be investigated. Let every parent in this country know that today no child is safe and no parent is safe who protests against the infamous policy that is being followed by this Government in respect of the conscription of Australian boys for Vietnam.
Friday, 30th September 1966.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 11th October, at 2.30 p.m.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to bring a matter before the House tonight. Some time ago I mentioned to the Government Whip that I would particularly like to have the honorable member for Lilley (Mt. Kevin Cairns) present in the
House. But he is not present now. Apparently he has been forewarned of the allegations that I intend to make against him. I have never been one to make allegations of a personal nature against a member of the Parliament. I did not think the occasion to do so would ever arise. But if members of the Parliament involve themselves in affairs of the type to which I intend to refer and in which I believe the honorable member for Lilley is implicated, 1 believe that I have a bounden duty to members of my Party to raise the matter on the floor of the National Parliament.
The Labour Party candidate for the electorate of Lilley at the forthcoming Federal elections is a man named Frank Melit. He is a high school teacher, a prominent Rugby League footballer, a Christian and a highly respected citizen of the State of Queensland. He is in his early thirties. His political supporters put up about 70 signs over the weekend of the 10th and 11th of this month.
– How many?
– They put up about 70 signs in support of his candidature. All the signs were stolen. As a result of the theft of the signs, a complaint was made by the supporters of this great Australian, this outstanding Labour man, Mr. Melit. Undoubtedly he will be the member for Lilley after the elections.
– What did they do with the signs for the honorable member for Lilley?
– Did the Labour Party supporters pull down those signs, too?
– Order! The honorable member for Mitchell will remain silent.
– It was a little bit of tit for tat.
– Order! I warn the honorable member for Mitchell.
– The Labour Party supporters, not being given to violence, reported the theft of these signs to the Criminal Investigation Branch. On Monday, 19th instant, further signs were erected and a watch was kept by Mr. Melit’s supporters in an endeavour to detect who were the persons who were stealing the signs. On the night of the 19th, Frank Me lit himself saw three men removing further signs in a utility truck. The utility truck, on being approached, moved away at high speed. Mr. Mel it was unable to overtake the utility truck, but he took the number of it, which was NYC-934.
– ls that the truck of the honorable member for Lilley?
– No; its number would have the letters NCC.
– It should have. Mr. Melit reported this incident to the police. Two of the three men concerned were arrested. One man ran away. One of the two men arrested was named Michael Francis Gaynor and the other was named Damien Robert Gaynor. Their address is 47 Cleveland Street, Stones Corner.
– Are they his brothers-in-law?
– I am reliably informed that these two men are brothers-in-law of the honorable member for Lilley. They reside in a house in which he previously resided. One of them owns the utility truck. These men confessed to stealing the signs and dumping them in the Brisbane River at Hamilton. As a result of the confessions, police divers operating from a police launch removed some stolen signs. I have photographs of them here. The brothers-in-law of the honorable member for Lilley admitted to being members of the so called Democratic Labour Party. They declined to name the third man.
The honorable member for Lilley is generally recognised as a member of the National Civic Council. He has frequently appeared on the platform of that Council at public meetings in Brisbane. He has been commended in recent public statements by the D.L.P. He intervened, I am reliably informed, in the selection ballot for the D.L.P. candidate for Lilley in order to have selected the weakest candidate and one whose name would occupy a position on the ballot paper below his own name. He has recently made statements to the Press to the effect that he and his wife were threatened. I and many others believe thai he was the third man who escaped from the utility truck on the night in question. I ask him to deny that. I make the allegation and I ask him to stand up in this place and deny it. I ask him to respect the Parliament and not to tell it lies. He knows what happened to Profumo in Great Britain. He has not shown sufficient courage to come into the Parliament tonight, despite the fact that he was advised by the Government Whip that I intended to raise a matter in which he would be vitally interested.
He recently made a Press statement that he and his wife were being threatened. Yet his two brothers-in-law and, I believe, he himself, were out after midnight pulling down Labour’s signs. Is that action indicative of a man who fears violence? Who would want to mete out violence to the honorable member for Lilley? Why, a 15 year old boy could beat him with a good felt hat. That is what I think of him. I do not think he is worthy. I ask the honorable member to reject my allegations. I believe that he has stooped to the lowest depths to which a member of Parliament could sink in resorting to what he has done. If he were not present, he was aware of what his brothers-in-law were doing.
– He is sheltering behind them.
– He is letting them cop the blue, as is commonly said in criminal circles. If he is so low that he is prepared to allow others to take the consequences of his actions, he is unworthy to be called an Australian and a member of this Parliament. He was recently at Mascot Airport - I saw him myself - and he was parting from Bob Santamaria. He was heard to say: “ Goodbye Bob “. Bob Santamaria said: “ Goodbye Kevin. Keep up the good work.” This is a man who has infiltrated the ranks of the Government, a man who is known to have stooped to the lowest depths by using religion to assure his re-entry to the Parliament. But he will go out of this Parliament hated and despised, just as Senator McCarthy went out of politics in the United States. If ever there was an occasion when the people of Lilley should see that the lily withers and the wattle blooms it is on 26th November next. That is all I have to say about the honorable member. I should like to say more to him. He is a slimy ventriloquist-
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw that remark and say that many people believe that he is the ventriloquist of Bob Santamaria. He is un-Australian in every respect and he has deceived many members of this Parliament.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I cannot conjure up the fervour of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), but I want to draw attention to an alteration which has been made to the “ Hansard “ report of a speech made by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly). On Tuesday -this week the honorable member for Grayndler opened the debate for the Opposition on the Social Services Bill and, very early in his speech, referred to increases in the rates of certain pensions and to certain relaxations in the means test. As honorable members are aware, prior to the introduction of the debate on the Social Services Bill this week, a class A widow was permitted to earn, in addition to $7 per week for herself, only $1 per week for each child without her pension being reduced. The Bill that was passed this week increased to $3 per week the amount of her permissible income with respect to each child without her pension being reduced. This was a very great improvement but the honorable member for Grayndler set out to ridicule this great liberalisation by airily dismissing it and claiming it benefited only about 250 pensioners. This is what the honorable member actually said in referring to this increase in permissible earnings -
The lastnamed increase means an increase of from $1 to $3 in respect of each child before that income is taken into account for pension purposes. From figures given to me last year I think that proposal will not affect more than about 250 pensioners. By this proposal a widow with two children will be able to earn $6 a week for her children as well as, subject to her property and other income, $7 a week for herself.
That is what he actually said. I naturally picked him up on this by reminding him that as there are over 30,000 A class widows it is ridiculous to suggest that only 250 pensioners will benefit. When I checked the “ Hansard “ record of the speech of the honorable member for Grayndler I found that the word “ age “ had been inserted after the figures 250 and before the word “ pensioners “. This means that the whole sense of the honorable member’s remarks has been changed and this affects the relevance of what I had to say about his remarks later. It is useless for the honorable member to claim that this was a slip of the tongue and that he meant to say “ age pensioners “. If he had said “ age pensioner “ he would have had no weight in his argument, because no-one expects age pensioners, who must be at least 60 years of age to qualify for an age pension, to have young children in their care. But one does expect 31,691 A class widows to have quite a number of children in their care. This was the whole purpose of the relaxation of the means test. It was designed to assist A class widows.
As private members are not allowed to inspect the green manucript copies of speeches made by other honorable members I went to the Acting Speaker (Mr. Lucock) and reported what I believed to be an alteration. I asked the Acting Speaker to check it for me. He has confirmed that the word “ age “ was inserted after the speech was made. I want to direct attention to this fact and put the record straight.
– Having heard the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) one realises why they say around police headquarters: “ Things have not been the same since Bert left us”. In point of fact, he is known affectionately as “the sergeant of the parking meters “.
The matter I want to raise which concerns the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) is a serious matter and I let him know I was going to raise it. It is something which I think requires an answer.
The reports record things which happen in this House. We sometimes forget that things that do not happen in the House can also be extremely significant. One of the things that has not happened in this House is that the honorable member for EdenMonaro has not offered an apology for having made himself on Tuesday last the mouthpiece of Communist lying propaganda.
I refer to “Hansard” of Tuesday last at page 1257. It will be recalled that the
Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) was speaking and he said -
As everybody in this House knows, over a long period now any civic aid that has gone to Vietnam has been deliberately destroyed by the Communists. I recall that when we put a whole dairy farm in Bien Cat the Communists destroyed the cattle and wrecked the dairy.
This was too much for the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who then burst out, according to the “ Hansard “ report: “ That is false.” The report then goes on -
– The Americans bombed the dairy farm.
– Order! I warn the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro will keep quiet.
– I am merely staling the facts.
Then he was so moved that he allowed himself to be suspended from the service of this House. He would not withdraw, and as he was going out of the House he said - lt is necessary for me to make a protest against the falsehoods continually being-
Then the “ Hansard “ report cuts off. This fact stands on the record. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro said these things. He was moved to say them and he went to the length, 1 would say, of deliberately provoking his suspension from the service of this House.
But what are the real facts? The facts are that this dairy farm, as was shown by the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Armstrong) in this House last night, was not bombed by the Americans but was destroyed over a long period by the Communists. In another place a senator also made these things clear. I have had conversations tonight with my friend, the sometime Minister for the Army, the honorable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer), who of his own personal knowledge tells me that these things are true.
It is not the first time that this Bien Cat affair has been mentioned. It is one of the matters that have been mentioned frequently in connection with the propaganda put out by the Communists to the effect that they were not preventing the giving of civil aid to the Vietnamese. It was important for the Communists to lie about this matter and we find the honorable member for Eden-Monaro coming into this House and repeating a Communist lie. If he did not know at the time that it was a Communist lie, he should have got up in this House at this late stage today and apologised for having acted as the mouthpiece for Communist lies.
– The honorable member should say “ falsehoods “.
– No, I say “ lies “, not “ falsehoods “. This was a deliberate Communist lie, a part of Communist propaganda, and we find the honorable member for Eden-Monaro identifying himself with it and then failing to get up in the House and apologise. He is here now. What is he going to do? Is he going to apologise or is he not?
Let me say this to the House - and I do not intend to follow it up at the present moment although I will follow it up at the appropriate time: This is not the first occasion by any means on which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has made himself the mouthpiece of Communist propaganda. I shall give chapter and verse for this charge at an appropriate time, when we have more time to debate it. But there is no doubt at all that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has been leading a double life politically over a long period, posing as a moderate man politically in regard to local policy. You could call him, if you like, the snake of Eden-Monaro.
– Order! I suggest to the honorable member for Mackellar that he withdraw that remark and also restrain himself.
– 1 withdraw the remark. I would say that he has been leading politically a double life. He has been trying to exhibit himself to the electors as a moderate when his real views, particularly in regard to foreign policy, are apparently much more extreme. When we look at his history in this House in regard to foreign affairs, we find that as far back as 1950 he was making himself the mouthpiece for views which were subsequently shown to be Communist views. I cannot remember the date, but a long time ago he was a vicepresident of a civil liberties league which the Labour Party itself prescribed as being a Communist front. We find that he has tried to put to this House the proposition that it did not matter - those were his words - if China turned Communist. As long ago as 1948 in this House he was asking smearing questions in an effort to inhibit free speech at meetings of the Returned Services League, funnily enough. Even his own Party was ashamed of him at that stage. I can give chapter and verse for these things.
The point I want to make is that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who made a rather peculiar speech on Vietnam during the foreign affairs debate in this House a couple of weeks ago, has identified himself with the Communist viewpoint on foreign affairs for a long time, lt is not altogether surprising that he should come into this House, as he did on Tuesday, and make himself the mouthpiece for the Communist lie.
.- I do not really want to comment on the aberrations of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) except to say that one is astonished at the lack of humanity that prevails in his mind and in the minds of people on the other side of the House. I happen to hold very strong views about bombing of all sorts. It is probably true to say that in the case in question there are some doubts about who bombed what. That is one of the elements we must consider. I have sat in this House for a long while listening to people on the other side say that, as long as the customers on the receiving end can have Communist sympathies attributed to them, or as long as doubts can be expressed about their political sympathies, it does not matter how many people are slaughtered, murdered, robbed or anything else. The honorable member for Mackellar has not mentioned the people who, by mistake or otherwise, are slaughtered in Vietnam.
Recently the Americans bombed a Cambodian village. They said at first that the village was not in Cambodia. They said that there were Vietcong - members of the National Liberation Front - in it and so they bombed it. They destroyed the village and they killed people. At first there were denials about the bombing. No words were uttered on the other side of the House to the effect that this ought to be stopped. As I said, the Americans denied that the village was in
Cambodia. A week or so later investigation teams went to the area. They were there on the day when the bombers came over again. This is a very sophisticated operation. I am told that the Americans and the other people who are conducting these air operations in Vietnam are obviously the most skilled air force in the world. First, a light aircraft comes over and plants a smoke canister on the target area. As soon as the smoke has risen high enough to be identified, the rockets and the bombs come down. They are spot on the target. On this occasion the bombers destroyed nine houses. Nobody was killed directly. However, a Cambodian woman with two babies in her arms jumped into an empty trench in the bottom of which was water. In the panic the babies were dropped into the water and drowned.
No tears were shed by the honorable member for Mackellar or any other honorable member on the other side over these innocent victims. No tears are shed by honorable members opposite over this kind of thing that is going on in the world. No criticism of this kind of operation is offered. The interesting thing is that this village was supposed to be occupied by the National Liberation Front, or the Vietcong, and it was supposed to be in South Vietnam. In both cases grievous errors were made. But still no tears were shed by honorable members opposite. No reference to the matter was made. When will supporters of the Government wake up and say that the war has reached a stage where humanity no longer counts, that the military operations are the transcendent consideration, and that, no matter what is hit, all that matters is that some target is blown up? Australia has a bounden duty to step into the field and stop all this. But this sort of thing is going on all over the place amongst our allies. I mentioned earlier tonight the occasion on which the South Vietnamese Government gave support to sabotage operations on the Cambodian border with Thailand. There is cooperation between South Vietnam and Thailand. These are all matters of great mischief, all matters associated with murder. But there are no tears about these things from honorable members on the other side of the House. Honorable members on this side of the House are concerned about people. Honorable members on the Government side seem to have no concern whatever for them.
I rose tonight simply to place this on the record and to show that the honorable member for McKellar and all his colleagues are bereft of every shred of humanity when they consider foreign policy and the protection of their political interests. This is true. During the coming election campaign I am confident that there will be no policies from honorable members on the other side. There will be a developing of the wave of McCarthyism which has been sullying Australian politics for 17 or 18 years.
This weekend I am going to Brisbane to speak at a seminar on South East Asia. Some of the things I will say there will not be palatable to the Liberal Party and some will not be palatable to the Communist Party. I have adopted the policy - and I have been supported in this by honorable members on my side of the House and by various branches of the Labour Party - that it is appropriate to go and put your case wherever somebody will stop and listen to you. I only hope that those members on the Government side of the House who have some shreds of decency left in them will realise that policies are important, that people are important and that the Australian democracy - based, I believe, on a tolerant and dignified consideration of the right to differ and to dissent - will only prosper if we face this problem on the issues. The Australian Communist Party has its aberrations, as indeed has any political party. But the Australian Communist Party currently is of very little political significance. I believe some honorable members opposite do a serious disservice to Australian politics by making it appear to look 12 ft. tall, but, of course, they will carry on in this way because they are bereft of the conscience of democracy and the ordinary decencies of human considerations. I hope that honorable members opposite will take aside the half dozen people who are talking like this on their side of the House - I will not bother to name them tonight but it is pretty apparent from a study of the record who they are - and say to them: “ For God’s sake shut up. Make this an Australian political scene based upon the policies and principles of which the nation usually has been proud “.
Before I sit down I would like to say something about my colleague, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser). On this side of the House we are a Party of dissent; we often agree and we often disagree. When the Labour Party stops disagreeing, I believe that the nation will stop progressing, because it is from the free discussion of free men and the final acceptance of the decision of a majority that progress comes. Long before I came to this Parliament he had established in my mind the picture of a libertarian, a man of stout heart and clear conscience, with greater political courage than almost anybody in Australian political life. I do not think it will matter what the honorable member for Mackellar says about him. I think the honorable member for Mackellar could say anything he liked of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro in that electorate but nobody would take any notice. It is generally considered - I hope that this is not an unparliamentary expression - that politically the honorable member for Mackellar is weak to the point of rattiness while on some other matters he is quite sound. Why does he not stick to those matters?
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 24
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.40 a.m. (Friday) until Tuesday, 11th October,, at 2.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
b asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows -
y asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
n asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are set out in the following table -
y asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
The daily rates for treatment in the public wards of public hospitals in the individual States as at 1st September 1966 were -
New South Wales: Charges increased from $4.40 a day to $6.00 a day as from 1st May 1963. An announcement has been made that the charge will be increased to $8.20 a day from October 1966.
Victoria: Charges increased from $6.00 to $8.00 a day as from 1st November 1964 and to $10.00 a day as from 1st September 1966.
Queensland: No charge is made for public ward treatment.
South Australia: General ward charges increased from $6.00 a day to $6.50 a day from 10th August 1964 and to $7.50 as from 1st April 1966. (Maternity ward charges are 50c a day higher in each instance.)
Western Australia: Charges increased from $5.60 a day to $6.00 a day as from 1st November 1963 and to $7.00 a day as from 1st July 1965. An announcement has been made that the charge will be increased to $10.00 a day from 1st November 1966.
Tasmania: Charges rose from $6.00 a day to $7.00 a day as from 2nd November 1964 and to $8.00 a day as from 1st August 1965. (Prior to 1st August 1965 patients under 12 years of age were charged $2.00 a day less than patients over 12 years of age.)
t asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
A number of other treatments are in common use in Australia.
The choice of treatment is determined according to the severity of the disease in the individual patient.
In (i) and (ii) above, the effect is not upon the diseased main artery, but upon surrounding small arteries enabling the blood to bypass the blocked artery. There is a further method of producing such a bypass, which has been known for a number of years but has not been widely used because the effects are transient and apparently less effective than the other treatments available. This method consists of passing minute bubbles of oxygen into the blood flow to the limb. There are at the present time two very important research projects being carried out in Australia into the use of this treatment over a period. Results will not be available for some time.
It is not possible to say how many persons have been successfully treated by Dr. Moller, because he has not produced an analysis of his cases which is capable of proper scientific evaluation. 6 and 7. A very senior and highly qualified physician from my Department’s Central Office visited Dr. Moller’s clinic in Kassel in July 1965, with the Department’s senior medical officer stationed in Germany, to study his methods of treatment. After undertaking a thorough investigation, including personal discussions with Dr. Moller, these officers were of the opinion that the efficacy of Dr. Moller’s oxygen injection therapy for peripheral arteriosclerosis was not proven.
t.- On 22nd September, in reply to a question without notice from the honorable member for Stirling (Mr.
Webb), I said that I would make available a considered statement concerning the Government’s attitude to a ceasefire in Vietnam, under United Nations supervision.
The Government wants a just and peaceful settlement of the Vietnam conflict through negotiations. We want to limit the war and to end the fighting at the earliest moment possible. We want a political solution, not a military victory over North Vietnam. We want a situation in which the people of South Vietnam can decide their own political destiny, free from coercion of any kind - a situation in which North and South can co-exist in peace and from that point work out their relationship with each other on the basis of self-determination.
All proposals or efforts which appear to offer a reasonable chance of moving towards these objectives have our strong support. We have said repeatedly that a return to the basic provisions of the 1954 Geneva Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam, and compliance by North Vietnam with the 1962 Geneva Agreement on Laos, could provide a starting point for the attainment of a settlement which would accord with the legitimate interests of all the powers concerned. There may be other hopeful approaches. We do not want to close any doors. Our position has been clearly and openly stated in this House and elsewhere, including the United Nations. lt follows that we welcome any developments at the United Nations, within the United Nations or with the assistance of the United Nations, which would help towards a just and durable peace in Vietnam. We value and support the role of the United Nations in helping to resolve international conflicts. But we must recognize that the prospects for a constructive and useful United Nations role in the Vietnam conflict depend on the co-operation of those concerned. Both Peking and Hanoi have repeatedly rejected the right of the United Nations to concern itself in any way with the Vietnam problem. Only last week the United States Permanent Representative at the United Nations told the General Assembly, in the course of an admirably clear and forward-looking statement of policy, that the United States remains ready to withdraw its forces as others withdraw theirs, and that it favours international machinery - either of the United Nations or some other kind - to supervise such withdrawals. Hanoi and Peking immediately condemned this statement as a “ trick to hoodwink world public opinion “. It is this attitude which has thus far frustrated all United Nations consideration of Vietnam, as it has other attempts to bring peace in Vietnam.
Earlier this month the Secretary-General of the United Nations himself said publicly that for the time being at least the United Nations could not involve itself in the search for a peaceful solution, though he hoped that at some stage this might come about. We share U Thant’s hope for progress towards a settlement and we will continue to do what we can both within and outside the United Nations to encourage movement in this direction. This was made clear this week by the Minister for External Affairs when he restated Australia’s views before the General Assembly of the United Nations.
n asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
What was the gross overseas surplus (exports minus imports) or gross overseas loss (imports minus exports) pertaining to (a) Western Australia, (b) Queensland, (c) New South Wales and (d) Victoria during each of the last 15 years?
– The Commonwealth Statistician has advised as follows -
Particulars of overseas exports, imports, and the excess of exports over imports, through ports located in each of the four States referred to are shown in the table below. These statistics do not make any allowance for transit trade passing through the States (i.e., goods which are imported or exported through a port in one State but whose destination or origin is in another State). Such transit trade could have a significant influence on the value of trade passing through ports in some States. Furthermore, no information is available on the extent to which exports originating in one State may include components produced in other States, nor on the extent to which imports whose destination is in one State may be used to produce goods for use in other States. Values of exports and imports are shown as recorded in oversea trade statistics; data required for adjustment to a balance of payments basis (e.g. to allow for the excess of the “ value for duty “ of imports over their transaction value) are not available for individual States.
y asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Restrictive Trade Practices. (Questran No. 1994.)
n asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
I have seen Press reports to the effect that each of the distributors through whom the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. markets its products now operates under a separate agreement with the company. The question whether this company has arrangements with its distributors which are examinable in the light of the public interest under the Trade Practices Act 1965-1966 will be a matter for consideration by the Commissioner of Trade Practices when the Act is brought into operation.
m asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
ser asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
On how many occasions in each of the past eight years, and for what duration on each occasion, was the Canberra Airport closed to air traffic because of fog?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The number of occasions on which Canberra Airport was closed to air traffic because of fog in each of the past eight years, and the average duration of these closures, was -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 September 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1966/19660929_reps_25_hor53/>.