House of Representatives
23 August 1967

26th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

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-I have to inform the House that I have this day issued the writ in connection with the by-election for the Capricornia Electoral Division and that the dates fixed were those announced to the House yesterday.

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Mr CURTIN presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Government implement Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by providing increased social service and housing benefits for the aged, the invalid, .llc widowed and their dependants.

Petition received and read.

Similar petitions were presented by Dr Mackay, Mr O’Connor and Mr Costa.

Petitions severally received.

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– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister in the absence of the Minister for Trade and Industry. In view of the crisis facing Australian wheat growers through failure of the Government to complete a wheat agreement guaranteeing a minimum price for this year’s wheat crop, what action does the Government now propose to take to prevent the bottom falling out of the wheat market?

Mr Harold Holt:

– The Minister assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry will answer the question.

Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry · NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– As the honourable member will be aware, the Minister for Trade and Industry made a statement yesterday to the effect that negotiations had just been completed in Rome to finalise the technical writing in of the new International Grains Arrangement. The agreement will come into effect from 1st July 1968 and will be in accord with decisions taken in the Kennedy Round negotiations, which were held within the framework of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The Minister for Trade and Industry attended these discussions in Geneva this year. The fall in the world price of wheat seems to result from the good seasons that have been enjoyed by many of the major wheat producing countries. I understand that in particular this means that the Soviet Union is not likely to purchase additional wheat during this year. North America has also, on the whole, had a good wheat season. Soft wheats in particular are now abundantly available and Australia principally produces soft wheats. If anything, there has been some excess production. The present level of wheat prices reflects the occurrence of some of the contingencies against which the Minister for Trade and Industry was trying to negotiate a price for the future on behalf of Australia. One of the achievements of the Kennedy Round is the stability that will ensue from 1st July 1968, when the new international agreement on wheat will take effect.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the rapid development and consequent growth of population of Whyalla, can the Minister inform me whether the extension of the Commonwealth railway line from Port Augusta to Whyalla has been given a higher priority?

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

– Some time ago the previous Government of South Australia, under Sir Thomas Playford, raised with the Commonwealth the possibility of extending the railway line from Port Augusta to Whyalla. A study was undertaken by the Commonwealth Railways of the economics and general feasibility of this project, lt is quite apparent that at some time in the future a standard gauge railway line will be constructed from Port Augusta to Whyalla. The rapid industrial growth of Whyalla makes this a more economic proposition from day to day, but I do not expect that the project will be undertaken before the standard gauge railway is extended from Port Pirie to Adelaide. As the honourable member will be aware, this again is a project that will be undertaken at some time in the future. The Commonwealth is committed to it as a standardisation project, but its commencement depends

OA many considerations, not the least of which are the Commonwealth’s budgetary problems and, as a first requisite, I should think, the satisfactory completion of the current standard gauge project which is under construction from Broken Hill to Port Pirie. This does not exclude the possibility of some preliminary planning being done, but the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie would need to be much closer to completion than it is before we could undertake other projects.

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– I ask the Minister for Health a question. The honourable gentleman will be aware of the existence of a new strain of a social disease which is deemed to be incurable and which is prevalent in parts of South East Asia. What steps have been taken to ensure that this disease is not introduced into Australia by servicemen on leave in this country? I might add that this disease was introduced into the Philippines by servicemen on leave there, much to the concern of the Philippines Government.

Minister for Health · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– I would be glad to answer the question, but one of the honourable member’s colleagues has a question in the same terms on the notice paper.

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– Has the Minister for Health seen a statement in which it is claimed that his Department is concerned over the increasing cost of subsidising drugs under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, which it is claimed by the Press is due to high profits made by international drug companies? Is this an accurate assessment of the position or does his Department in fact maintain effective control over excessive profit taking?


– I have seen the article referred to. It is inaccurate in almost every particular. Regarding the specific claim in the article, exactly the contrary is true. Despite the addition of new and costly drugs to the pharmaceutical benefits list, the trend in prices of drugs on the list has been downwards until we have a situation today in which the average cost per prescription under the scheme is lower than it was in 1962. This is due to the extremely successful negotiations carried out by my Department with the drug companies and which last year, for example, saved the taxpayers $3.7m. Any increase in the cost of the scheme is due, not to increases in the prices of drugs, but to an increase in the number of prescriptions written per head. This presents an entirely different problem - the problem of over-prescribing, if if is over-prescribing. This is an extremely complex problem which my Department has under continuous review.

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– I ask the Minister for National Development a question. Since the Treasurer made no specific reference in the Budget Speech to national development, will the Minister indicate when he expects to announce the Government’s approval of schemes for the development of our water resources, particularly in Queensland? Will these details be announced prior to the Capricornia by-election?

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

– I am sorry that the honourable member has seen fit to impute political motives in respect of a matter of this kind. We have already been in touch with the various States. Officers of my Department have visited every State and have briefed State officials in the necessary requirements. We have received replies from three States, briefly setting out a list of their priorities and the costs of and reasons for the various projects which they would like to have accepted. All States have indicated that they would like to be in the scheme but that it may be a little while before they are able to give a full list of priorities. The moment these lists are received they will be dealt with as expeditiously as possible by the Commonwealth Government, which has made a commitment over the next 5 years to spend on water conservation not less than $50m over and above what is spent by the States.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. As foot and mouth disease can be so readily transmitted on clothing and personal belongings and by other means, and in view of the devastation that this disease could cause among our livestock population, can the Minister give an assurance that the maximum possible precautions will be taken to prevent the disease from entering Australia when troops return from Asian areas or visit Australia on recreational leave?


– Yes, I can give such an assurance. Exactly the same precautions are taken in relation to servicemen as are taken in relation to civilians. The Services issue orders on these matters, not only in relation to prohibited imports but also in relation to the cleanliness of clothing, footwear, equipment, vehicles and the like. I am glad to say that the experience of my Department is that these orders are carried out in exemplary fashion.

I may add for the honourable gentleman’s information that quarantine officers board all troop ships by helicopter 24 hours before arrival and ensure that these precautions are carried out. They meet all Service aircraft arriving at Richmond, and Service personnel arriving in civilian aircraft are treated in the same way as civilians. Exactly the same precautions will apply to United States servicemen as apply to Australians.

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– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Is the Government equally as enthusiastic about the growing of grain sorghum in the Ord River area as it is about the Tipperary scheme in the Northern Territory? If not, what advantages or disadvantages, as the case may be, does the Government see as between the two areas? If the Government is equally as enthusiastic about the Ord project, has it accepted sorghum as a satisfactory alternative to cotton as a crop? If so, does the Government now intend to make finance available to permit the construction of the main Ord River dam to proceed without delay? If not, what excuse is now offered for not doing so?


– The honourable gentleman has couched his question in terms that invite either a policy statement or a somewhat tendentious reply. My understanding of the Northern Territory project that he has mentioned is that it is being undertaken by private enterprise with private resources and without capital assistance from this Government. I am not aware of any similar proposal in contemplation for the Ord River project. The honourable gentleman knows that the Ord project has been before us at various times. When a statement of policy is to be made, it will be made in the usual way.

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– I should like to ask the Treasurer a question. Can he let the House know whether any funds have been remitted to the National Liberation Front for South Vietnam in recent weeks and whether action has been taken to prevent the movement of funds to that body or its supporting organisations?


– As the Prime Minister has already informed the House, Cabinet has had under consideration a problem relating to the movement of goods, materials and finance to North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front for South Vietnam. My colleague, the Attorney-General, will shortly advise the House what decision the Government has made. Consequently, I do not want in any way to create an impression that I am traversing the area that he will cover in great detail when he makes his statement. Since the matter of the movement of funds has been raised in the House, I can assure the honourable gentleman that the Reserve Bank of Australia requires the trading banks and other banks to forward to it applications for the remitting of funds to the National Liberation Front. In the meantime, these applications are not being approved.

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– I direct a question to the Treasurer. I refer to the announcement in the Budget Speech of the provision of a further $10m to Queensland to assist the sugar industry. Is this to be a fully repayable interest-bearing loan? Will it have to be repaid by the individual cane farmers, many of whom will have sold their farms by the time repayment is required? Most importantly, will this extra finance cover No. 2 pool sugar? If it will not, what are the reasons for the exclusion of No. 2 pool sugar?


– If the honourable member reads the Budget Speech carefully he will see that we have agreed to make money available to the Queensland Government, and it will be the obligation of that Government to repay the money to the Commonwealth Government. Those are the only details that I can give the honourable member at the moment. There will be no direct relationship between individual sugar growers and the Commonwealth Government: the relationship will be between the sugar growers and the State Government.

Dr Patterson:

– What about No. 2 pool sugar?


– I cannot give the honourable member details as to that because they will have to be worked out by the Queensland Government. Our agreement is with that Government. At the moment I cannot give the honourable member any more information than I gave in the Budget Speech and have given in reply to his question.

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– My question is directed to you, Mr Speaker. It refers to the fact, which is now fairly obvious, that the procedures of this House are becoming a Utile obsolete and are not suitable for the proper discharge of the business of the House. I ask you, Sir, as Chairman of the Standing Orders Committee, whether that Committee has received far-reaching proposals from a number of honourable members in relation to such matters as times of sitting, the use of committees and the length of speeches in this House, proposals which, I understand, are far beyond the normal range of consideration of the Standing Orders Committee. Will that Committee hold open hearings at which honourable members may discuss these matters with members of the Committee, or would it be preferable to appoint a select committee of this House for a special and far-reaching revision of the Standing Orders? If you consider the latter course preferable, do you intend to take the initiative personally of suggesting such a committee, or do you think a motion to this effect should come from a member on the floor of the House?


-I will look into the matters raised by the honourable member for Mackellar. Honourable members have received a communication advising them that the Standing Orders Committee will be meeting shortly and requesting them to put before the Committee any suggestions they may have for improving the working of the Parliament as a whole. The matters referred to by the honourable member for Mackellar will be raised at the meeting of the Standing Orders Committee and I will advise him further after that meeting.

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– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Is it a fact that approximately 82% of the working population of Australia, including many employees of Commonwealth Departments, enjoy the benefit of a five-day working week? If so, can the Minister tell the House why his Government grossly discriminated against Post Office employees when they sought to negotiate by peaceful means in an endeavour to procure this benefit?

Postmaster-General · PETRIE, QUEENSLAND · LP

– There have been discussions between representatives of the Government, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Postal Workers Union of Australia, the Clerical Officers and Telegraphists Union and the Postmasters Association. I am unable to say what proportion of the work force enjoys a five-day week, but statistics in the possession of the Post Office show that there is a very substantial use by the public of postal facilities on Saturday mornings. There has been a good deal of discussion and communication particularly between my colleague the Minister for Labour and National Service .and the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. These matters are still under discussion but the Government has made it quite clear to the ACTU and to the unions concerned that what are or are not essential services of the Post Office will be determined by the Government. This is an acceptance of the responsibility which the people impose upon a government to make decisions of this nature.

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– I desire to ask you, Mr Speaker, a question relating to the monstrous intrusion of portable lecterns into this chamber encouraging honourable members to read their speeches. Is it not true that lecterns are indelibly associated with the reading of scriptures and the delivering of sermons - a matter in which some honourable members are more practised than others - and the purveying of academic learning? Is it further a fact that, edifying as these things are, their rating from the point of view of appeal to hearers is rather low? Is this not also true of speeches which are read? In the laudable endeavour to assist lame ducks, may it not be that the Parliament itself will become a dead duck because all interest in its proceedings will be killed? In saying this, I hasten to add that I am directing this question to you, not as a sitting duck, but because I believe that, as a servant and leader of this House, your influence might well be directed, if you thought fit, to limiting the extent to which members read their speeches with disastrous consequences to the liveliness of debate.


– Standing Orders provide that a member may read his speech if he so desires. The use of lecterns, which are made available, rests with the individual member.

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– I direct a question without notice to the Prime Minister. In answer to my question yesterday regarding the loss, destruction, substitution, shelving or misplacement of documents as disclosed in evidence before the ‘Voyager’ Royal Commission, the right honourable gentleman summarised the evidence relating to the destruction of one document only - a signal from Dr Tiller - and he quoted a question by the Chairman and the reply by the Secretary for the Department of the Navy. I ask the right honourable gentleman has he noted the evidence on the handling or mishandling of other documents by the Secretary and also the Chairman’s comment on Monday which was:

We are not inquiring into any allegation that material was withheld from the Parliament. That is not within the terms of reference.

Since there is certain to be debate in the House in due course on this very question of whether material was withheld by or from Ministers and their advisers during the ‘Voyager’ debate last May, I ask the right honourable gentleman whether consideration has been given to extending tha terms of reference so that the royal commissioners can inquire into this very question and report upon it.


– We gave a good deal of thought to the terms of reference and indicated subsequently that if the commissioners felt that any extension of the terms would be desirable in order to enable them to carry out satisfactorily the task which the Parliament had assigned to the Royal Commission then, of course, we would consider very carefully any such proposal which might reach us. 1 am not aware that the Commission has felt it is so constricted by the terms of reference. However, when the matters come back to this Parliament for debate the Parliament will have the widest opportunity, so far as its own range of reference is concerned, to deal with the matters which have arisen either before the Royal Commission or which were previously before the Parliament.

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– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the Minister seen reports of the action taken in Broken Hill by trade unions under the auspices of the Barrier Council to prevent married women working, save in very exceptional cases? What is the policy of the Commonwealth Government in these matters?

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

– The firm policy of this Government is to promote the right to employment of individuals in occupations of their own choosing and for which they are fitted. It is further our policy, of course, to give married women more opportunities for working and to remove the obstacles in the way of their being employed. Above all, we are particularly concerned with the freedom of individuals. It is highly repugnant to see citizens of this country whether male or female denied a living and pushed around by stand over men and bully boy types who are now finding a large echo in the benches opposite. I would hope that not only would the Government deplore this kind of action designed to deny married women the right to earn a living but that it would also be condemned by the Leader of the Opposition, and condemned particularly by the honourable member for Darling.

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– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether he has given any consideration to the extension of the standard gauge rail link from New South Wales to Geelong. Would the Minister agree that such an extension would be of great benefit to the Geelong area and also to the Riverina? Has either the Government of Victoria or the Government of New South Wales requested such an extension at any stage?


– This railway from Melbourne to Geelong would be entirely within the jurisdiction of the Government of Victoria. When standardisation projects are undertaken by the Commonwealth they are undertaken at the request of a State government after a clear demonstration of their economics. We have had no request from the Government of Victoria. I personally doubt whether there would be any great economic advantage in this project. If it were thought desirable, for the sake of argument, to carry wheat over that railway, it could well be done by a bogie exchange system without the cost of a standard gauge project.

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– I address a question to the Minister for Social Services. Last night, the Leader of the Opposition alleged that the Minister had told him that, compared with average weekly earnings, the basic age pension had never been worth less than in mid-1966. Did the Minister make this statement, and could he say how the comparison stands today?


– In form, it seems to be typical of the Leader of the Opposition in this House. He has put into my mouth words that I certainly did not expressly utter to him. During the last session I did reply to a written question from the Leader of the Opposition and pointed out that the figures at the middle of 1966 were lower than they had been in some years, but on at least six previous occasions they had in fact been equal or lower. As to a comparison between the rate then and the rate in previous years, I point out that last year the Government increased the pension by $1 a week shortly after figures quoted in the question put by the Leader of the Opposition.

Beyond that, if we make a comparison between the present base rate pension and the average weekly earnings, we see that the base rate pension stands at a higher point now than it did at any time during the previous eighteen years. In fact, if one considers the base pension at the time when Labor was last in government, it will be found, taking into account progressive increases based on the consumer price index, that the base pension now is nearly $4 above what the adjusted rate would be in relation to the last pension rate paid by the Labor Government.

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Mr J R Fraser:

– I ask the Minister for Health: Has he announced that the Board of the Canberra Community Hospital will be abolished? Were the members of that Board constitutionally elected under the provisions of the Canberra Community Hospital Ordinance and are they entitled under the provisions of that ordinance to hold office until 1st October this year? Has the Minister, in making his decision, complied with the requirements of the Canberra Community Hospital Ordinance, the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council Ordinance and the regulations made under those two pieces of legislation? Has the Minister introduced an amending ordinance in Parliament or has he any intention of introducing one within the foreseeable future? Would the Minister give us the benefit of his knowledge on this question, because there is concern in the community that the Board is being abolished, or as has been stated is about to be abolished, without all the necessary steps having been taken.


– An amending ordinance will be introduced covering the new position in relation to what will be called the management board of the Canberra Community Hospital prior to the expiry of the term of office of the present members of the Board. I therefore conclude that what will happen will be perfectly legal and that the members of the community of Canberra can set their minds at rest.

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Mr Andrew Jones:

– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Can the Minister advise this House what action has been taken concerning the modification of the Adelaide Airport? If a final decision has been made concerning construction, can the Minister advise when work will begin, and at approximately what cost?

Minister for Civil Aviation · DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · LP

– Arrangements are being made to extend the main runway at the Adelaide Airport, and an announcement will be made in the near future regarding this. As the honourable member is aware, when I appeared on a television programme with him in Adelaide recently I had the opportunity to show a plan and also a photograph of a model of the extensions which are to be made to the Adelaide Airport terminal building, and indicated at the time that the estimates and planning have now been finalised. My understanding at the present time is that my colleague the Minister for Works will be making a submission to Parliament shortly requesting authority for reference of this work to the Public Works Committee. I cannot at the moment give any indication of the actual cost, but that will be announced by my colleague when he makes the submission. My understanding regarding time of commencement is that the tenders for the work should be called about the end of this financial year.

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– Will the Prime Minister say whether a request has been made by the New South Wales Government for financial and technical assistance to complete the Eastern Suburbs Railway in Sydney? If the answer is yes, could the right honourable gentleman give the House details of what assistance the Government will give?


– I did have a request from the New South Wales Govern ment and I have replied to the Premier. I shall examine the practicability of making known the contents of the Government’s reply. I think it will be necessary for me to consult with the Premier before I will be in a position to do that, but I shall follow the matter up as soon as practicable.

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– Will the Minister for Social Services confer with his colleague the Minister for Repatriation as to what method can be adopted to inform all war widows over 60 years of age that many of them may be eligible for payments of up to $6 a fortnight under the means test provisions ot the Social Services Act, as many of them may be unaware of this?


– As a result of the implementation of the Government’s policy speech it is true that all service pensioners are entitled to increased permissible earnings before their entitlement to service pensions or social service pensions is reduced. Consequently, as the honourable member has suggested, war widows may well be entitled to an additional supplement to their war pension. I will be happy to confer with my colleague, the Minister for Repatriation, on this matter. One of the difficulties that the Government is faced with is ensuring that all people in the pension community do fully understand their entitlement to the benefits which the Government now provides. The Government endeavours to keep them up to date through the requirement that each year a pensioner must complete an annual income statement. There are some supplementary benefits, such as that to which the honourable member for Perth has referred, which may well escape the knowledge of an individual pensioner. I feel sure that as a result of the honourable member’s efforts some more widows may become aware of their full entitlement.

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Dr J F Cairns:

– The Minister for Health will recall that last week he was asked what action he had taken to consult with the Australian Medical Association about the extension of medical services to the 41,000 pensioners who became eligible for this service as a result of the relaxation of the means test in March. He gave an answer to the House which did not indicate what action he was going to take. 1 now ask the Minister: What action is he taking, and when does he consider that an arrangement will be made to make this medical service available to pensioners? Will he give the House a definite undertaking about what action is going to be taken and when results will be achieved?


– All I can do is to reiterate, in answer to the honourable gentleman’s question, what I said last week. That is that the Australian Medical Association had informed me that it had deferred a decision pending an examination of questions of principle involved. When I met representatives of. the Association they were not in a position to discuss policies based on those principles because they had not yet come to conclusions about them. T also told the House that they had indicated to me that they expected to frame policies which they could discuss with me and which I could put to the Government in the reasonably near future. Until such time as the AMA has framed its policies I am not in a position to say with any precision when the matter will be finalised.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of what is. in my opinion, the unfounded anxiety of certain charter airline companies in relation to the possibility of private planes being used for unauthorised charter flying, will the Minister clarify the position?


– I think the honourable member’s question relates to a statement that has been made by the Association of Commercial Flying Organisations of Australia which, I understand, is at present holding a conference in Queensland. I did make the claim the some people holding private pilot’s licences were carrying passengers for profit. The position is that a private pilot’s licence does not entitle anyone to carry passengers and charge them. That operation can be performed only in the case of light aircraft operations by a charter operator who operates under a separate licence with a higher classification which has a commercial rating. This problem is the result of some of the growing pains caused by the tremendous expansion that is taking place in general aviation throughout Australia today.

At the moment, I think, we have about 2,800 aircraft on the Australian register. Most of them are light aircraft associated with general aviation activities and most would be operated by people holding private pilots’ licences. The point is that if a person does break the law he is subject to the penalty of the law. My Department can proceed against him. That will be done if evidence is produced to show that this does occur. So far, there have been very few instances of this breach actually occurring or evidence of it being produced. I merely indicate this: A person with a private pilot’s licence is not entitled to carry passengers for profit. In general aviation this is the province of a person operating under a chaner licence.

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Ministerial Statement

Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

– by leave - Mr Speaker, in response to an invitation from the Government of Japan, Australia has indicated its decision in principle to participate in a world exposition with the theme ‘Progress And Harmony For Mankind’ to be held at Osaka from March to September 1970. This will be the first exposition of this kind to be held in Asia, and the Government’s decision has regard to Australia’s increasingly close relationships with Asia and with Japan in particular. The exposition is to be similar in character and concept to Expo ‘67 at Montreal, at which Australia has a highly successful presentation. It offers the opportunity for us further to portray to our friends in Asia and indeed to the world at large Australia’s way of life, our achievements and aspirations. The Government has not yet reached any decision on the nature or scale of Australian participation at Osaka. These aspects will be studied in the light of the experience of our participation in Expo ‘67.

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Mail Exchange Building, Perth


– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, I present the report relating to the following proposed works:

Erection of a Mail Exchange Building at Perth, Western Australia.

Ordered that the report be printed.

Commonwealth Offices, Lismore


– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, I present the report relating to the following proposed works:

Erection of Commonwealth Offices at Lismore, New South Wales.

Ordered that the report be printed.

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Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:

That the honourable member for Watson be appointed a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts in the place of Mr Gray, deceased.

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Discharge of Motions

Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:

That the following Orders of the Day Government Business, be discharged:

No. 16 - Off-shore Petroleum, Uniform Legislation - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the House take note of the Paper.

No. 17 - Sydney and Melbourne Airports - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the House take note of the Paper.

No. 18 - Medical Evacuation from Vietnam - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the House take note of the Paper.

No. 19 - Aircraft Accident near Winton, Queensland - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the House take note of the Paper.

No. 20 - Visit to Japan by Minister for External Affairs - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion. That the House take note of the Paper.

No. 21 - Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the House take note of the Paper.

No. 22 - Withholding Tax - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion. That the House take note of the Paper.

No. 23 - Northern Territory - Form of Government - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the House take note of the Paper.

No. 24 - Cyprus - United Nations ForceMinisterial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion. That the Mouse take note of the Paper.

No. 25 - Cost of F111 Aircraft Programme - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the House take note of the Paper.

No. 26 - Television Services - Extension to Additional Areas - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate uponthe motion, That the House takenote of the Paper.

No. 27 - Papua and New Guinea- Proposed Agreement for Mining Copper on Bougainville Island - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debateupon the motion. That the Housetake note oft he Paper.

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Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreedto:

That Government business shall take precedence over general business tomorrow.

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

Second Reading

Minister for Social Services · New England · CP

– I move:

A Bill in the same form was introduced on 5th April of this year and passed by this House. The Bill was amended by the Senate and despite the fact that this House disagreed with the amendment the Senate has insisted on it. For reasons given by me in some detail previously and to which I shall again later refer, the Senate amendment has not been acceptable to the House. Accordingly the Government has decided to introduce a new Bill in the original form.

The purpose of the Bill is to put into effect the undertaking given by the Prime

Minister (Mr Harold Holt) in his policy speech on 8th November 1966. The Prime Minister then said:

We will widen the scope of assistance by including local governing bodies in the organisations eligible under the Act and accepting contributions by them towards aged persons homes as qualified for Commonwealth matching subsidy.

With advancing age many people are faced with increasing problems arising from loneliness, insecurity, need for greater personal care and lack of suitable accommodation. The Commonwealth Government has taken the view that it can effectively contribute towards the alleviation of these problems through partnership with the churches and other voluntary organisations many of whom have, over the years, maintained a close interest in the care of the elderly. To this end, the Government some twelve years ago introduced the Aged Persons Homes Act. This offered subsidies towards the establishment and extension of accommodation and care for the aged, while avoiding any suggestion of government controlled institutions. Eligible organisations are specified in section 5 (1) (b) of the principal Act as:

  1. a religious organisation;

    1. an organisation the principal objects or purposes of which are charitable or benevolent;
    2. an organisation of former members of the Defence Force established in every State or a State branch of such an organisation; or
    3. an organisation approved by the Governor-General for the purposes of this Act.

This Bill is designed to include as designated eligible organisations the local governing bodies to which the Prime Minister referred in his policy speech. In recent years, a growing interest in homes for the aged has been shown by municipal and shire councils. A number of these have already assisted aged persons homes organisations by grants of land and in other ways. After considering proposals for local government bodies to be brought within the aged persons homes scheme the Government reached the conclusion that this could be done without endangering the general character of the scheme as a partnership between the Commonwealth and community bodies.

Municipalities and shires are well situated to assist the needs of their particular regions. Often they are able to encourage the establishment of community bodies to resolve particular problems. In recognition of the interest of local authorities in housing elderly citizens and as a further means of increasing accommodation for aged persons, this Bill provides for the extension of the Aged Persons Homes Act to enable local government bodies to participate more directly in the subsidy scheme. Trade unions which the Senate has suggested should be included are in quite a different position. Already they may be approved under section 5 (1) (b) (iv) which I read to the House a moment ago and receive the aged persons homes subsidy. Any project submitted by a trade union would be examined sympathetically by the Department of Social Services in the same way as proposals from religious or charitable bodies and, subject only to meeting the other requirements of the Act, the organisation would be submitted to the Governor-General for approval.

This is the position with many other groups in the Australian community. Friendly Societies, Country Womens’ Associations, Rotary and other service clubs to name a few are in an identical position. Approval has already been given and subsidy paid to a number of projects in this category. Section 5 (3) however at present expressly excludes ‘local governing bodies’ from assistance under the Act. An amendment to the principal Act in the way this Bill proposes is therefore necessary to implement the Prime Minister’s policy undertaking.

Participation by local governing bodies will be effected in two ways. In the principal Act a local governing body is not included in the organisations which can obtain financial assistance. Under an amendment included in .the Bill local governing bodies will become eligible organisations in the same way as religious, charitable and the other bodies to which I have referred.

The second provision is in respect of the funds which can attract the Commonwealth subsidy of $2 for $1. At present funds received from a local governing body are expressly excluded from attracting subsidy. This section of the Act will be amended so that both the funds raised by a local governing body towards the establishment of a home of its own and contributions of money or property by such bodies to another eligible organisation will be able to attract subsidy. There will remain one restriction. Where the local government moneys are received from the Commonwealth or State governments they will continue to be ineligible. This is in keeping with the policy applied to other organisations and will ensure that the subsidy under the Act is attracted to moneys raised in the particular local government area. The Bill provides for the amendments in respect of funds received from local governing bodies and homes established by these bodies to be operative as from 28 th November 1966, the first working day after the re-election of the Government.

There is one other provision in the Bill. This is of a machinery nature and is in relation to the method of payment of instalments of approved grants. Instalments of grants are made available progressively as work on an approved project proceeds. As the Act now stands each individual payment must be approved personally by the Director-General of Social Services.

The very success of the Aged Persons Homes Act has resulted in a great deal of routine work being required in approving of the payment of instalments of grants. The opportunity has therefore been taken to reduce the time and work involved in these routine payments by providing for the Director-General to authorise appropriate officers to approve the payment of instalments. A general power of delegation is not being sought and there will be no change in the present requirement that all grants must be approved by the DirectorGeneral.

Mr Speaker, this further action by the Government to increase the effectiveness of the Aged Persons Homes Act and expand the scope of assistance under it has already been endorsed by the Australian electorate. The unqualified success of the Act and the progress already achieved are widely known. Since 1954 subsidies totalling more than $70m have been approved enabling the provision of accommodation for over 26,600 aged persons. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.

page 341


Second Reading (Budget Debate)

Debate resumed from 22 August (vide page 325), on motion by Mr McMahon:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Upon which Mr Whitlam had moved by way of amendment:

That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘this House condemns the Budget because -

  1. it places defence costs on those least able to pay them;
  2. it fails to curb administrative waste and extravagance;
  3. it defers and retrenches development pro jects; and
  4. it allows social services and war pensioners to fall still further behind their fellow citizens’.

- Mr Speaker, I would like to deal in this debate with the attitude of the Labor Party towards the conflict in Vietnam. Labor’s attitude is doing a good deal of damage to the resolution of the Australian people to support their fighting men in Vietnam. But’ first I would like to go through the history of what has been happening in South East Asia - a history which has been much changed by interested people. Honourable members will recall that about twenty years ago in the Korean conflict the Communist forces from China suffered heavy casualties because they tried to fight a pitched battle. In Vietnam, the Communists decided to resort to aggression, infiltration of arms and a peasant based guerilla war. The strategists in North Vietnam - General Giap is one - said that if they could win this struggle and defeat the Americans, who went into South Vietnam first with civil aid provided by President Eisenhower, and then with troops to protect the civil aid workers, they could win South East Asia, Australia and the world. At first, they were successful.

I see that the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) laughs at this. I am very interested to see that behaviour by the honourable member, who made a record for himself in the Second World War and who had Australian troops under his command. He ought to know what Australian troops in South Vietnam think. When they go there and see the real position, they ask what is wrong with people like the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine), who is attempting to interject now, and the honourable member for Wills. Australian troops in Vietnam ask what is wrong with people like this who are peddling a party line merely in an attempt to win office in this Parliament. This is a miserable attempt, of course. These are the men on the other side of the Parliament who are deliberately trying to soften our resolution and by so doing to assist the people of North Vietnam.

In 1954, Eisenhower decided to extend

Aid to South Vietnam. This effort was extremely successful. Thousands of new schools and more than 3,500 village health stations were built. Rail transportation was restored and roads were repaired and improved. South Vietnam not only fed itself but also resumed rice exports. Production of rubber and sugar rose sharply. New industries were started and the per capita income rose by 20%. By contrast, North Vietnam suffered a drop of 10% in food production and bad great disappointments in industrial production. In 1954, Hanoi had expected to take over South Vietnam within a few years. But its hopes withered, for the South was far outstripping the much heralded Communist paradise. So the guerilla warfare was begun about 1960 and in South Vietnam in that year alone more than 3,000 local officials, military personnel and civilians were assassinated or kidnapped by the guerillas supported by North Vietnam. The activities of the guerillas took the form of armed attacks against isolated garrisons, attacks on newly established townships, ambushes on roads and canals, the destruction of bridges and well planned sabotage of public works and communication lines. Because of Communist guerilla activity, 200 elementary schools had to be closed at various times, affecting more than 25,000 students and 800 teachers.

May I say at this point that the main resistance to the guerilla activity came from the leaders of the various religious groups. The principal religion is Buddhism, the directing body of which is the Association of Buddhist Churches in South Vietnam. There is also a considerable number of Catholics in that country. Because of the atheistic nature of Com munism, many of the adherents of the various religions, and certainly their leaders, would sooner suffer death than give in to the Communists.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– Particularly the Christian leaders.


– And especially the Christian leaders. There is a large number of Buddhist sects in South East Asia, and the Buddhists, too, will not give in to the Communists. We on this side of the chamber and the Australian troops in South Vietnam in particular cannot understand the activities of the Australian Labor Party and of another group that is said not to be Labor - the Monash University Labor Club. The troops cannot understand the activities of certain people back home in Australia. I cannot help talking about the Opposition in this connection, because it is involved. Why the encouragement for the North Vietnamese? Over the 20 years or so since the Second World War ended, we have noticed that when the Soviet Union, for example, took certain action in Hungary, there was no protest, and when the Chinese Communists slaughtered the religious leaders and many others in Tibet, there were no protests.

Mr Bryant:

– By whom?


– There is always a protest by the honourable member for Wills if something that is anathema to the people who are known in Peking and Moscow is done, but there was never any protest from him about the atrocities in Hungary and he made no protest about the atrocities in Tibet.

Mr Bryant:

– I rise to order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The honourable member for Macarthur is completely inaccurate. Can the record be corrected?


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

Mr Bryant:

– Is the honourable member in order when he is inaccurate?


-Order! The honourable member for Macarthur will proceed.


– If we could get copies of any protests made by the honourable member for Wills about the atrocities that I have mentioned, Mr Deputy

Speaker, such records would give us great comfort. The honourable member always rises in this chamber if anybody says something that is not acceptable to the left wing of the Labor Party. We all know where the left wing of that Party stands. I have here a copy of an article that was published by the journal ‘Dissent’ in its issue for the spring of 1964. 1 understand that a particular organisation has been financing this journal, and this is rather distasteful. Not knowing who was financing it, a gentleman by the name of J. F. Cairns wrote for it an article entitled ‘Labor Defending Liberties’. I do not know whether this gentleman will deny what he wrote, though he signed the article, for he is in the habit of denying statements that are attributed to him. Let us see whether he will deny the statements made in this article that was published over his name. In the article he stated:

We ure situated in the political spectrum next to the Communists and they will stand for many things for which we also stand . . . Because of our position in the political spectrum we will And ourselves in the same places as Communists on some occasions, doing the same things for the same ends.

I admit that I have taken this out of context. Honourable members can read the whole article if they wish. The writer of this article made a remarkable statement. He asked how the Labor Party was to win power and stated that many people did not understand this. He can count me among those, for I do not understand. The whole of this article is aimed at winning power for the Labor Party, lt is aimed not at doing something for Australia but at winning power for the mcn on the opposite side of the Parliament - men who have not been used to power but would like to have it. The article states:

Those who do not understand us and are therefore opposed to us consist of two types. The first type puts it all down to communism. To win their support we would have to become an anti.Communist Parly.

Would not that be shocking for the honourable member for Wills? Now we come to the delightful part that we have to try to understand. The writer of this article was crying about not being understood. J ask honourable members to listen now to the further words that were written by this gentleman, J. F. Cairns. He was concerned not about whether it would be proper to be anti-Communist but about whether it would be expedient to become anti-Communist in order to win power. Perhaps just for the short period necessary to achieve that, he was prepared to consider the question: Should we become an anti-Communist party?’. The article continues:

But to do this we would have to give up our concern for civil liberty . . .

Listen to these words:

We would have to give up our concern for the advancement of the individual and for socialisation. Would we not have to tame our unions?

Then listen to this:

Would we not have to censor books?

He was contending that in order to become an anti-Communist party they would have to do all the things that he seems to imply are not done in Russia. He says: ‘We would have to censor books’. Has he not heard of what happened to Boris Pasternak in Russia because he wrote a book? And that happened, of course, in a Communist country. The honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) says: ‘We would have to censor books in order to become an antiCommunist party’, but of course one can censor books and still be a Communist. It is being done in Russia. Then he says:

Would we not have to accept most of the Crimes Act?

Well, no Labor Government ever took any part of the Crimes Act off the statute book.

Mr Bryant:

– J raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am wondering whether the honourable member is aware that this is a Budget debate.


-Order! There is no foundation for the point of order, and I remind the honourable member for Wills that there are certain standing orders that he would be well advised to comply with.


– How would a colleague of the man who writes this kind of stuff know whether there was a point of order or not? [Quorum formed]

I think I should repeat this for the benefit of the House. I have been reading from an article written by the honourable member for Yarra and published in a piece of paper called ‘Dissent’, which has been paid for by some curious people overseas called the CLA. The honourable member said in the article that to win power ‘we would have to become an anti-Communist party’. Then he goes through all the things that he thinks they would have to do to become an anti-Communist party. He says:

Would we not have to censor books?

I think he got a bit mixed up there, because books are censored in the Communist countries. He is completely mixed up. Then he says that they would have to accept most of the Crimes Act, which of course they have done in the past, because they never moved to take that Act off the statute book. He says they would have to ‘tap telephones and accept the universal bureaucracy presided over by the secret police’. What a beauty that is. In other words, he says that to become an anti-Communist party they would have to accept the secret police.

Mr Robinson:

– Who said this?


– This was written by the honourable member for Yarra. He said that in order to win power they must become an anti-Communist party and therefore they would have to ‘accept the universal bureaucracy presided over by the secret police and the National Civic Council’. Ah! Now we know. He went on:

These anti-Communist people are a permanent part of the Australian political spectrum but they are on the far side of the orthodox conservatives and opposite to that of Labor.

Of course, that is the great thing they have done; they have become opposite to Labor.

The leaders of the Labor Party received some remarkable publicity immediately before the last Federal election. First of all we read of the then Leader of the Opposition (Mr Calwell) saying that there was no split at all in the Party, that they were completely united. Then we had some statements from the then Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who is the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I think he said, first, on television: ‘We will get the troops out by March’, and one of the young chaps there - he looked almost like a Monash Labor Club chap - said: ‘Yes, Mr Whitlam, but what would happen to the civil aid workers if you withdrew the troops?’ Well, I can assure the House that he was not seen to the best advantage at that moment, but the fact is that he said: “We will withdraw the troops by March’, and this was a month before the elections. Like other members of the Opposition he was not caring about Australia or South East Asia but caring only about gaining power. He suddenly realised - someone must have told him, as a friend might tell a man that he had a slight attack of halitosis - that he had been unwise, and he then said: ‘We might leave the troops there provided the Americans do a number of things’, and he listed about six different things which, of course, the Americans could not do. He said: ‘If the Americans do these things we may be persuaded’. This was on 23rd November, three days before the election death knock. Next day the then Leader of the Opposition was asked what he thought about Mr Whitlam’s statement that a Labor government might leave the troops there and he said: ‘Nothing will alter our determination. We will bring them back’. Then he was asked: ‘Are you having a split in the Party?’ He replied: ‘Oh, no, we are completely united. We are not having a fight as the Country Party and the Liberal Party, the members of the coalition Government, are’. So we had this remarkable spectacle of men not even understanding the meaning of plain English.

Let me prove my point by referring to the great man’s visit to England. There were some interesting headlines at that time. Many prominent people in Britain saw the Leader of the Opposition. They were quite excited about this character who was giving a new meaning to the English language. They asked him: ‘Will you please spell out the policy of the Australian Labor Party on Vietnam?’ He met Mr Wilson and he met the Minister of Defence. He met all the leaders and he met the youth groups - all of the lunatic fringe - and they all said: ‘Please spell out for us the ALP policy on Vietnam’, and of course he had very great difficulty. The newspaper extract I have before me does not tell us what he did say, but it says:

The Leader of the Australian Labor Parry, Mi Whitlam, has repeatedly been asked to spell out his Party’s policy on Vietnam since he arrived in Britain four days ago. Questions about ALP policy have come from Cabinet ministers, members of the Socialist International and the trade union movement. The question of where Australian Socialists stand on Vietnam has been a dominating theme of his talks. Mr Whitlam has had access to the top people in Government and the trade unions during his stay.

Then the Leader of the Opposition came back here and said that the British people were very strongly in favour of the Labor Party’s stand on Vietnam. Perhaps they will not be quite so strongly in favour after what happened in Peking yesterday, when the British Embassy was burnt down and there was serious concern about the safety of the British Charge d’Affaires - and of course the Chinese emissaries in London have had their movements restricted because of what the Chinese are doing.

Then some members of the Labor Party visited Vietnam. After one group returned the honorable member for Batman (Mr Benson) said: ‘I am certain that we are doing the right thing and that Australia is correct in Vietnam.’ So he was expelled from the Labor Party because the Victorian left wing did not like it. Then he went before the electorate and was brought into this place with a good majority. It is very interesting to go to Vietnam because the people of that country are a little sensitive abou; this. <n that country there are people who go around at night with long knives and who would disembowel a person on sight. It is therefore little wonder that the people of Veitnam are a little sensitive about a group who visit their country and who have been sponsoring and encouraging the kind of talk that is going on in Australia. So, it is a great deal of relief to the people of South East Asia when the Labor Socialist members of Parliament from Australia leave their country.

We saw an extraordinary thing a few weeks ago when the new Deputy Leader of the Opposition visited South East Asia. In Thailand he said that Australia has not worked hard enough for peace. This was his criticism there. In Saigon he made a fair statement when he said: ‘I am sure the Australian Labor Party will have to recast its policy on Vietnam’. This was after a number of visits to Vietnam. This man is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and I suppose he is listening to the broadcast of this debate. He should come into the chamber. This man said that the Labour Party would have to recast its policy on Vietnam and throughout Australia there was a feeling of relief that at last this Party had got some sanity. Instead of sitting in Parliament some of its members had had the guts to have a look at Vietnam themselves.

The Leader of the Opposition and his deputy went off to the Federal Conference of the Labor Party with a scheme for rejuvenating the Party. They were very sensitive about the question of the thirtysi:; faceless men who decided what the Labor Party would do without being answerable to the electorate. The Leader and the Deputy Leader had a new scheme brought out by a man called Wyndham to alter the present structure so that it would be viable and could work. We saw headline after headline in the newspapers and the people of Australia had their hopes high. They thought that this was the millenium. People thought, from the words of the Leader and the Deputy Leader, that the Labor Party had some sense about Vietnam at last. Then what happened? We ought to have known what the result was going to be on form.

In the past the Leader of the Opposition has defied the executive openly. However, months before the last conference he had written a crawling letter promising to carry out all of its wishes. Although the Leader of the Opposition has been defiant on a number of occasions, on this occasion he gave in like a jellyback with no guts. The Leader of the Opposition went to this supreme body in Adelaide - the Federal Conference - with this great scheme for altering the Party structure. He proposed that there would be forty-five or sixty-seven or some terrific number of members on the Federal Executive. Members of Parliament elected by the people were going to have a say in this old body which had been made up of thirty-six faceless men. But what happened. As a kind of sop and a face saver they let him come in with his deputy together with two leaders from the Senate and somebody else.

It was reported in the newspapers that whilst this was going on and the left wing was still in control more firmly than ever the Leader of the Opposition sat silent for two hours. What about this for courage? What about this for a man to lead a country that is sending troops to Vietnam to make sure that we do not have to defend Australia here and that we keep this kind of struggle outside Australia? This man is the Leader of the Opposition who trumpets because it is very easy in your office to give pressmen a cup of tea. Then there are so many headlines that people begin to believe that such a man might have something - that he might have some stamina or a little bit of courage. However, he went into the august body and we have seen the sorry result.

The honourable member for Yarra was the leader of those who made the decision at the conference. The honourable member is the great denier of all time. He denies whatever he is charged with, be it related to the Yugoslav Communist Party or something else. He denied an assertion by the ex-member for Corio, when he was here, that he had said that the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition would not have any say in this mattter. He is the man who wrote this material stating that the Labor Party stood in the same position, at some time, as the Communist Party. This is the man who controls the final decisions in the august body of the Labor Party which will not meet again for two years. For twenty-four months the Labor Party is stuck with this stigma.

Mr Cope:

– Put a bit of ginger in it.


– The funny man who interjects is from the electorate that smells a bit. He is trying to make a joke out of this. In the last election the honourable member kept all of his Party’s propaganda about Vietnam out of his election campaign because if he had not done so he would have joined the South Australians from his Party who were defeated. The shrewd Labor member kept this matter out of his election material so as he could come back here.

I repeat that the honourable member for Yarra said that members of the Labor Party find themselves in the same places as Communists on some occasions, doing the same things for the same ends. The honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) left the Labor Party with the aid of a pretty good hard shove because he said that the Government was doing the correct thing in Vietnam. We see a connection with the Monash Labor Club raising funds to send encouragement and help to North Vietnam. Interjections are, of course, coming from the other side of the chamber. Every man here is sorry for the dreadful things that have to be done to prevent the

North Vietnamese intrusion and to try to preserve what little vestige of liberty is left in South East Asia. We are there to make sure that we stand as people who are to be trusted in this kind of international atmosphere. Anyone who has been to Asia will be struck with the tremendous respect that the people of those countries have for Australia, whether it is troops, diplomatic people or commercial people or surgical teams - Australians who are willing to go into South East Asia and take their coats off and roll up their sleeves and do a difficult job for these people and do it with courage.

Tremendous moral courage was displayed by the people on this side of the chamber who, for the first time in our history, accepted conscription. We knew that such a dreadful decision was not a decision for the young men of Australia to make. It was a decision for the men who sit here and who know the facts. This was a tremendous breakthrough. Young men in this country are called upon to give at least one year of their lives for the community. We made the decision and it was seized upon by the Opposition who used prejudice and every other dreadful device that they could think of to get power and to satisfy their lust for power. This Party will always stand in history as being the people who had the courage and the commonsense and the nous to do this thing. I am proud to be a supporter of this Government and this Budget.

Melbourne Ports

– I hope I may be excused for talking on the Budget and not on foreign affairs. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has indicated in his speech that the central objective of this Budget is to promote conditions favourable to sound and efficient growth with consumer spending and private capital outlays rising steadily. I find no quarrel with that as an objective but in a moment I want to indicate that it falls short of achieving what the Treasurer claims to be the objective. In many respects, this is a callous Budget. It is a cynical Budget. It is also a coldly calculated Budget. I hope to be able to prove these things in a moment.

The Treasurer has said that one of the reasons the Budget is structured in the way in which it is was the large amount of defence expenditure. It is true that the amount is larger in financial terms than the earlier physical programme contemplated because some of the things that were estimated to cost $100m are now inflated to at least S200m. The Treasurer also said:

  1. . the private sector has a major part to play in growth. I add that it has also a major role to play in national security since basically defence must be built upon the growth of our manpower, our industrial capacity and our ability to pay our way abroad.

It is in relation to each of these assumptions - growth of our manpower, our industrial capacity and our ability to pay our way abroad - that I want to look at the situation in Australia as it seems to be revealed at the moment. This time last year, when the Budget was being considered, 1 said that it looked as if what is called the gross national product of Australia would be running in the region of $23 billion, or $23,000m by 30th June of this year. Someone on the Government side of the House said in a subsequent speech that if that were the case then Australia would have one of the best years on record in terms of economic growth.

Let me point out first that the current White Paper on National Income and Expenditure shows that the gross national product was within quite a short distance of my estimated $23,000m. It was $22,729m. I suggest that by the time it is corrected in the next White Paper the figure for this last year will be at least $23 billion.

How is that growth, expansion or increase made up? I suggest that was what the critic on the other side estimated it would be. In fact, that increase of almost $2,000m in the twelve months was made up by price increases of over 3%, by an increase of slightly over 2% in the number of people in the work force and what was left over, by something called productivity or expansion which was and which included an increment of something like % in farm productivity because farm productivity increased by approximately $250m over the drought levels of the previous year.

There is another point that I wish to note at this stage because 1 think it relates to my charge that this Budget is so callous, so cynical and so cold in its calculation. In the course of his speech, when referring to the estimated defence expenditure of $1,1 18m for this year, the Treasurer went on record as saying:

  1. . estimated defence costs this year will be equivalent to 5% of what we think the gross national product is likely to be calculated at factor cost

In other words, the Government has made an estimate itself as to what it thinks the gross national product, at factor cost, is going to be this year. As those who are familiar with statistics know, the gross national product is the gross national product at factor cost plus another item - indirect taxes. If $1,1 18m is 5% of the gross national product at factor cost, then at least the gross national product at factor cost will be $22, 3 60m.

To get what we call the gross national product, it is necessary to add approximately $2,600m as the level of indirect taxes. In other words, in the eyes of the Government, the estimated gross national product will be near enough to $25 billion by 30th June 1968. This is $2 billion or $2,000m more in money values than it is now. In the light of that increase of $2,000m, the Government callously goes on record as saying, just as the Treasurer did in a television interview the other evening, that this economy cannot increase pensions by 50c a week. To increase pensions by 50c a week would be to grant an increase of $26 a year to each of 750,000 people, In round figures, that represents an initial consumption of $20m out of what is supposed to be an increase of $2, 000m. Yet the Treasurer says coldly, cynically and in a carefully calculated fashion that this cannot be done. I would like any honourable member on the Government side of the House to try to justify that performance.

In a moment 1 shall be throwing out some challenges as to the premises on which the Government bases its performance. How is this $2,000m going to be made up? Is it going to be made up by inflation? Is it going to be made up by more people working? Or is it going to be made up by increased productivity? When an estimate is made, it is incumbent upon the Government to give some indication of the way in which the increment is to be made up.

This Budget is claimed to be expansionary. As well as being expansionary, a budget should also act as an engine of redistribution. It should act as a means of redistribution from those who may have too much of a given total to those who perhaps have too little. But in this case, the effects on the redistributive side are really in the wrong direction because such increases in revenue as are expected are in fields such as postal charges, which the Treasurer is careful not to call taxes, but which will come out of the people’s pockets without any adjustment to their income and which therefore represent an additional burden upon some sections only of the community.

Another direction in which a redistribution of an adverse kind is proposed is in the field of income tax concessions. There are to be two kinds of concessions. One is an increase of $26 in the basic amount allowed for dependants irrespective of whether the taxpayer earns $1,000 a year or $20,000 a year and irrespective of whether the marginal rate of tax is 10c in the $ or 66c in the $. The other magnificent piece of callousness is the proposed increase from $800 a year or $16 a week to $1,200 a year or $23 a week in the allowable deductions for insurance premiums. How many people are there in the Australian community at the moment who are able to save $800 a year by way of insurance premiums? If they can, why should they be given, as they are being given by this concession, a special bonus for doing so? I calculate that this additional concession of $400 will mean a reduction of nearly $200 a year on my marginal rate of tax, as I pay insurance premiums of more than $1,200 at the moment. The obscenity, almost, of the approach is that in one line of the Budget the Treasurer says that this will cost the Government an estimated $150,000 this financial year. It should not cost anything this financial year because it will not be assessed until taxation returns are lodged on and after 1st July 1968. The Treasurer should have said what it would cost in a full year. In the absence of any other assessment I have attempted a computation, which is that some 50,000 people will share a benefit of between $5m and $10m by reason of this alteration. Is that an equitable redistribution as against a cost of $20m for another 50 cents a week on pensions? It is not my idea of equality, and I doubt whether anybody would think it equality if they looked at the matter honestly. It is expected that there will be $2,000m more in income circulating in the economy in the next twelve months, yet we cannot afford the small sum of $20m to raise age and invalid pensions, which would merely increase their value to what it was last year, because prices have risen, and are rising, at about 5% per annum. People on fixed incomes cannot rely on wage increases to increase their standard of living.

I want to discuss now the fundamentals of growth. I was astonished the other day when I read that the annual figures for employment in Australia in the last twelve months - in an economy that the Government brags about as a private enterprise economy and says that the basic unit in the community is the family unit - show that during the last twelve months, despite the fact that the Government claims we have such a splendid record of economic expansion, employment in Australia rose by only 73,000. Honourable members would have to go back to the slump of 1961 to find another year anywhere near as bad as the last financial year, because between 1961 and 1962 employment in Australia rose by 80,000 people. This last year, I repeat, it rose by only 73,000. The astonishing thing about those figures is that of that 73,000 the increase in the female part of the labour force was 43,000 and in the male labour force it was 29,900. That figure showing that 29,900 more jobs were found for men in the last twelve months is somewhat akin to the total number of unemployed males at the moment. Anybody that suggests that the unemployment problem at the moment is not serious is not looking at the matter honestly. I have heard discussions in the House in the last couple of days designed to take the eyes of the Australian community off our own problem by looking at the situation in Great Britain, for which no one here is answerable, and which has explanations, although I have not the time to canvass those here. But to say the proportion of unemployment is higher in South Australia and Tasmania because those States have Labor Governments is nothing but taking cheap political advantage of the situation. Does any honourable member think that the level of unemployment in Adelaide today is due to the Dunstan Labor Government? Is it not due to the chronic condition of the motor car industry, which is one of the basic industries-

Mr Giles:

– A bit of both.


– A bit of both. At least that is a concession of some kind. Would not the drastic bushfires that occurred some months ago have some effect on certain industries in Tasmania? Where would the employees of the Cascade Brewery be at the moment? Is that situation due to the Labor Government in Tasmania? I suggest it is by that kind of approach designed to take the public’s eyes off the essential problem that this Government is so recreant to the trust that the Australian people apparently continue to put in it. Surely the fact that in Australia, with almost the lowest increment in the labour force on record in modern times, we get a higher increase in productivity than in some other years points at least to the additional fact that there was a great deal of unused capacity in Australian industry. I have plenty of quotations here to buttress that point if I had the time. Surveys conducted by the various chambers of manufactures point to the uncertainty in growth and the lack of continuity. For those interested in the situation I will read some comments made in the most recent issue of the ‘Economic Record’ by Mr D. S. Ironmonger of the University of Melbourne in May 1967. He said:

We have certainly come a long way from the times when we had no growth, and 30% of our work force was unemployed, and from the times when we had inflation of prices at rates as high as 25% a year. Viewed from the perspective of our own history, our economic management has made great strides. But viewed from the perspective of the world around us, there are others who are ahead of us in the task. In some directions we may have something to teach the rest of the world; in others, I suspect, we have still much to learn.

He commented further that we must conclude that the reason for our low average trend in the rate of increase of 3% lies not so much in our inability to achieve high rates of growth but in our inability to maintain high rates for more than about three years in a tow. He points out that at some periods in Australia’s economic destiny over the last ten or twelve years there have been quarters where the growth rate was as high as plus 13% and in other periods was as low as minus 7%. Surely everybody would agree it would be better to have continuity of growth. If we can grow at 5% in real terms per capita, as we have occasionally, but not often, in one year, why cannot we maintain the performance? I suggest that that is the sort of problem with which this Government is not grappling. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr E. James Harrison) was discussing the serious situation of the labour force last night. Surely we face a critical situation in Australia when the figures show that much of that employment is not of old unemployable people but of females particularly and people under the age of twenty-one years. What makes a person of twenty-one years of age unemployable or not unable to find employment? I suggest that what makes that possible is that there is something wrong with the aptitudes taught in schools at the moment as against the aptitudes that are really required by industry.

I suggest that we sometimes talk about automation as though it does not matter, but a clear reading of the trends of the last year or two shows that the impact of automation is already in our midst. One of the reasons why the motor car industry does not pick up in terms of total employment is that nowadays more motor cars can be produced per person than previously. This is the pattern in other industries. It is not a pattern that anybody should resent, but it is a pattern that ought to be resented if the person put out of work is not given some new occupation elsewhere. If he is not wanted in terms of his old technique, something should be done to give him a new technique and a new potential for the future. I agree with the Minister when he said, rather glibly, that expansion basically depends on the growth of our manpower. But it depends also upon the sensible application of that growth to the places where it is best needed.

Last year I said that when the motor car industry sneezed Australia’s economy got pneumonia. I suggest that condition is still built into our economy. There is not enough forward planning. If we do not want more than 400,000 motor cars a year but the industry is geared up to 450,000, ought there not be some sensible consultation between the Government and those in industry? Should not industry be told: ‘Go a little slower. The skilled people you are using could be better devoted to some other purpose’? I suggest this kind of thing has to be done, whether we call it some nasty word such as ‘planning’ or anything else. An aspect of the Australian economy as revealed in figures and statistics has been that last year there was an improvement in production per capita of about 3i%. This is not good by comparison with some other countries. Surely in our economy, when our population is increasing as it is increasing, if economic growth in the sense of productivity means anything production per head per annum should rise year by year. The year before last this was not the position in Australia. On a per capita basis in 1965-66 we actually slipped back and in 1966-67 our performance represented an increase of only 31%. Averaging the two years out, it was less than 2% per head which is not a very good performance by any sort of reckoning in an economy that claims to be modern and mechanised.

Mr Kelly:

– There was a drought.


– I agree, but the drought was not as bad last year as it was the previous year. All I am saying is that the Government should not take gratification to itself for a splendid improvement when it has been an improvement from a low level - an improvement out of the trough on to the sink, as it were. It is still not a high level of attainment, and it is not something with which we ought to be satisfied.

On the question of our industrial capacity, it was shown in the White Paper last year that despite the total expansion there was less going into private investment in Australia last year than in the previous year. This seems to point to the unused capacity that there is in the Australian economy. Surely something ought to be done to rationalise the use of the capacities that do exist. We are on the verge of great things in the mineral world. Wc are on the verge of great things in relation to certain extractive industries and in respect of the processing of iron ore, aluminium and the like. This all involves capital expenditures of very large sums. At least there is something to be said for trying to mobilise our capital resources.

I want finally to refer to our ability to pay our way abroad. Is the Australian community satisfied with the performances in respect of international accounts? I received the 1967 ‘Reserve Bank of Australia Report and Financial Statements’ only last night and I have not had much time to look at this document, but I did notice that the Governor of the Bank in his report said:

The level of Australian international reserves is not a matter for immediate concern but clearly a continuation of the downward trend of the past year would give rise to misgivings before too long.

How long have we to wait to face up to the question of Australia’s international reserves? We have only got what we have accumulated not because of any great capacity in our trading sphere but because of the vast inflow of foreign capital to Australia. Some of it has come in very usefully; some of it has come in rather indiscriminately. But whether useful or indiscriminate the tol] of it year by year is getting greater, as anybody who reads the figures in the structure of the White Paper can see. The quantity of exports we have to sell merely to pay for the interest, profits and undistributed amounts that have been accumulated in the past is getting to the order of over $300m per annum.

Mr Graham:

– How else can we develop the country unless this happens?


– Whatever the impact of foreign investment, it is marginal so far as the total investment is concerned. If the honourable member looks at the documents he will find that in terms of capital expansion, both private and public, well over 90% is found internally. The other onetenth - quite useful, I concede- ought to have some conditions or restraints put upon its entry. I would suggest that the whole question in the Budget tends to be one rather of margins. We should stop for a minute and comtemplate that in terms of a gross national product of $23,000m, 1% represents $230m. Most of the arguments in this House are about whether $230m should be shifted in the private direction rather than in the public direction, and whether sums of $100m should be devoted to expanding defence activity or to social welfare. That is the kind of magnitude that basically we argue upon and that is why I think the honourable member ought to contemplate what it would mean to the Australian economy if, instead of having a stop and go growth going from nought to six, we had a steady per capita growth, which is within our capacity, of 5%. This would mean an increment each year of $50Om which could be permanent. This is the kind of approach we ought to be looking at now. Why do we have this reckless escalation and de-escalation? Why one year do we have a slump and the next year a boom? Why, when an increase is granted in wages is most of it taken away by inflation? It is because we are not managing our economy properly and the sins for mismanagement at the moment are in the hands of members opposite. They will not correct the sins until they look at the damage that has been done.


- Mr Deputy Speaker, perhaps no questions are of more vital importance to this nation than those that are being debated currently by this House. These of course are the questions of foreign affairs and the great Budget. If they are of paramount significance to Australia as a whole, may 1 state with deep conviction and with a sense of desperate appeal and urgency that both matters critically affect the future of our northern frontiers and the security of that part of the world. As I do so I am not moved by a parochial emotionalising and not as an academic studying the question with his books a thousand miles away and from time to time, as academics have done in the past, contemptuously wondering how people of non-European descent could live in such places.

I do so without political bitterness. We have seen enough of this engendered regarding northern development. We have seen northern development reduced to a sheer political catch cry. This has been completely resented by the people who have common sense to recognise it as such. I know from living in these areas, from experiencing the particular difficulties for a lifetime, from being associated with just about every move and every agitation which has screamed to high heaven for something to be done in these areas, and from all this practical experience that all governments without the slightest doubt have perpetrated a grave error. They have watched, without noticing perhaps, this ugly thing of centralisation creeping up and almost encompassing and stifling the great characteristics of this nation.

Because of this, we have seen what is of international import and what is the most cherished thing that we ever had slowly dissipated away. This is our Australianism. I ask this: Were these characteristics born, produced and nourished in the more favoured areas of our coast? Or were they bom in the frontier country? Were they bom 100 years ago when men went to live in the outback of this nation and accepted the challenge - and what a challenge it was - of having to clear, cultivate and produce under conditions which people who have never been into these areas could not with their theorising possibly evaluate?

Now, unfortunately, this attitude of centralisation has permeated almost every aspect of our national life. I appeal today not to every member of this House only, because I have discovered something. Perhaps it is only a minor example compared with the national considerations that are at stake. But I have discovered that if one puts one’s case to the average Australian and if the average Australian realises what is at stake and, finally, that his own interests, his own future and that of his family are at stake, he is a pretty fair minded sort of bloke. I will give the House an example.

The Flying Doctor Service was born in my town of Cloncurry. Now, Cloncurry has lost many things. They were transferred quite logically for the most part to the greater city of Mount Isa. But no-one agreed that there was very much logic behind removing the Flying Doctor Service to that great inland city. The feeling was current and was accepted almost unanimously by the people of Mount Isa that this action was just going a bit too far. I think that very same principle, if presented with fairness and with the fundamental considerations that are involved to the people of Australia and the people in the very cities that I am discussing, would gain their support. My remarks in the next fifteen or so minutes will deal with truly national matters.

The people in inland and northern areas of Australia live a comparatively simple life. Because of the unadorned type of life that they live, they reduce most propositions to a fairly simplified form. In other words, they are realists. They get beyond theory. They are much more concerned with what can be done and what will be done. Hence they have got to the point where they resent theorising and constant screaming of ‘develop the north’ without any specific proposals. Look, the era of something must be done’ is over. This has been proved conclusively in the northern parts of Queensland and other northern parts of Australia. The people of these areas realise now that it is no good going to any government for assistance without a case. Let us be sensible about this matter. A government has so much to spend. It has many pressures on it. It has many considerations which cannot be avoided as much as the government would care to do so. Hence, the people in the northern areas realise now that, if they are to convince a government that it must pour government funds into their particular part of the world, they must have a case to present to that government. I can assure the House that we have an absolutely undeniable case supported by facts and figures.

Mr Deputy Speaker, we come down once more to Canberra and to the offices of this great city where people know just about everything that is to be known. They read books about it. They present reports. They present statistics. This is all very well. It plays its part. It is essential. It is vital, perhaps. But I am much more convinced by the arguments of those who are living the particular problems of the particular way of life to which I am referring. I have come to this conclusion: If one is to get something, then one has to present a case in support of one’s objective. I am not convinced, and we are not terribly impressed, by the finances that are being made available to the northern parts of Australia and to my State of Queensland. These finances are very considerable. They are enormous compared with what we were given in the past. But they are not nearly a drop in the ocean compared with what is required. If it was said: ‘Well, Queensland is getting finance out of all proportion to what other States are getting, what other parts of Australia are getting or the more southern States are receiving’, I would answer: We are starting a long way behind scratch because for many years we have received precisely nothing.

Up to the mid-1950s, the Federal Government rarely gave any consideration to making any particular grants - under section 96 of the Constitution if honourable members like - to Queensland and especially to the northern parts of that State. There is a very interesting reason why the Commonwealth Government did not do so. It is that the Commonwealth Government was not asked to do this because the State Government had a complete sense of centralisation. If what I say is incorrect, it would be very interesting to examine the books of the various Australian Labor Party branches which are spread throughout inland and northern Queensland. It was heartbreaking to those branches as time and time again they went to their State Ministers who admitted quite frankly that it was quite impossible for them to get any allocations of any consequence for their parts of the inland because the Government was concerned just with the city and the coastal areas. If I am wrong in saying that, my remarks can easily be disproved.

Let us deal now with the defence position. I repeat, as I will do on numerous occasions as long as I am in this House, an actual experience that I had whilst I was overseas. I have told of this experience before. I will tell of it again. I am going to tell of it now. To me, this incident is of paramount importance. To me it wipes off any allegation of Communist can kicking and eliminates any necessity for me to be brain washed regarding the threat from Red China. It is this: In approximately July 1964, Mr Khrushchev, the then Soviet Premier, was being interviewed by a British Broadcasting Commission commentator. It was a broadcast of an actual interview of the type that the BBC can do brilliantly. He was asked this specific question: ‘Do you think that the present bitterness between Communist China and Russia has been stimulated by the feeling that Russia has that there will be a population explosion some day and that this will bring hordes of Chinese across into Red Russia?’ Mr Khrushchev replied without any hesitation: No, that is not so’. He was asked: ‘Do you concede that the extent of the population in China is such that there will eventually be a population explosion?’ He replied: Inevitably*. He was asked: ‘Where do you think the Chinese will go?’ He did not hesitate. He did not say that they would go to Vietnam, to the south or to Malaysia. He said: They will go into Australia’. Anyone who thinks that I am wrong can check my version with the script of the broadcast from the BBC, which took place in June or July 1964.

Why would this attitude have changed? Does anyone suggest that these people now have a more kindly attitude towards Australians? Have they for some reason decided that our great empty north is not worth occupying? Not for one moment. Only recently we saw the vicious, animal hatred they have for us and for the people of the United States. We who live in the northern part of Australia would suffer the initial onslaught of an invasion that would be like Armageddon. The people who live in the southern parts of Australia would undoubtedly be concerned about such an invasion. They would be vitally concerned, because before long the whole nation would be under the domination of these people. But those who live in the north would take the initial impact and we believe that, for this reason alone, there should be a realistic evaluation of what must be done, and done with great urgency, to develop northern Australia and to fill its empty spaces.

Dr Brian Davidson came into this argument rather decisively in February 1965 when a discussion was held at the University of New South Wales. It was televised by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. He argued, as economists will argue, that empty spaces no longer attract invasion and that the talk of populate or perish is a fallacy. He was opposed by me and by people of far more brilliance, such as Professor Munro. We pointed out that invasions of this nature had always occurred in areas similar to our north and that an interesting historical documentation supported our view. So we have reasons of defence and other more important, more fundamental and more material reasons for asserting that the needs of the inland parts of northern Australia must be carefully evaluated.

When we speak about decentralisation we can use nebulous terms. We may even wonder how we would go about implementing an effective policy of decentralisa tion. In my view, local government authorities should be encouraged, as a first move. I speak as one who has been associated with local government for nearly a quarter of a century. Perhaps I should give my qualifications. I served on the Queensland Executive of the Local Government Association and was Secretary of the Western Local Government Association. Over a period of more than twenty years it is possible to learn a thing or two about the supremely important functions of local government in our great nation. The first move to encourage decentralisation - it would be very effective - would be to give greater powers and more finance to local government authorities. It may be argued that this is a State responsibility. I would again refer to section 96 of the Constitution and say that specific grants should be made to local government authorities to assist them in certain fundamental developmental works.

Let us get down to tin tacks on this matter. Again I must refer to my own area, because I can speak of it with authority. I can rely on my own knowledge and not depend on books to find out what is happening. Many towns in inland Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia depend almost entirely on work created by local government authorities. If the Government had not made drought assistance available over the last few years many of these small inland towns would have faced a serious problem. The drift to coastal and metropolitan areas continues at a terrifying rate. Unless it is halted it is doubtful whether the nation can survive. When the strong rural vitality of a nation is taken away, what is left? Disaster. If I am wrong, then history is wrong. The drift to the large centres was probably the strongest element leading to the downfall of the Carthaginian Empire, the Roman Empire and the Greek Empire and any other empire that can be mentioned. We have been told that paganism and other factors led to the destruction of these empires, but the fundamental element was the centralisation of the population in the great cities of Rome, Carthage, Greece and Egypt. Sometimes people imagine that they can change the course of history, but they cannot do so. This Government and all governments will be indicted unless an effective policy of decentralisation is adopted.

I should like to deal for a moment with the effects of the great drought that swept, primarily, across the eastern half of Australia. Most affected areas have now been relieved of the drought, but some are in an even worse state than they were two years ago. I propose to tell the House briefly of a segment of our great grazing industry that is dying on its feet. I include all the factors that are involved in the grazing industry. Let me give an example. The population of Charleville has been reduced by about 1,000 and about 105 houses in the town are for sale. This story, to a greater or lesser degree, applies to many of the areas of Queensland that were critically affected by drought. It is a story of tragedy. The shearing industry is involved. The shearers lived with their families in the outback and were part of the Australian tradition. I rather think that within five years, if the present trend continues, it will be as difficult to get a shearer as it is to get a windmill expert. If my comments become known to the people who live in the cities I hope that they will get behind us in our efforts to encourage decentralisation. If they love this nation they must realise that there is only one way to preserve it, and that is to ensure that the vital rural areas are stimulated and that people are encouraged to live in them.

That brings me to some specific details of the drought. I will tell the House of one property. I could name thirty or forty similar cases in this Stonehenge-Jundah area of Queensland. I will relate the experience of one family. Is this a big grazier with a straight-8 Buick? Does he have a home in the south, play polocrosse and engage in the various activities that are decent and desirable activities but are, for some reason, associated with the more privileged grazing fraternity? Is the man to whom I am referring one of these? Not one bit of it. His father and mother lived in a humpy. His father used to work on a station. One would draw a block years ago - or however you got land in those days. This man came by a piece of land. He got together a few sheep - not many at any stage; perhaps 10,000 or 12,000. Three years ago he and his family celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of that property. There was great jubilation. There had been three gener ations on that property, which they had developed and fenced. Their’s is still a humble home. I was out there. I will read from a letter which this man received from one of the financial houses. The letter, written on 27th July this year, reads:

Dear Sir, We acknowledge receipt of your letter of 22nd instant enclosing weigh bills for 34 bales of wool- lt was a magnificent wool clip - and note that a further 17 bales has been forwarded to. . . . This wool you state was from 2,190 sheep. We assume this would be the total sheep on hand and that the 994 old ewes which have been sold would now reduce your stock numbers to about 1,100.

As far as restocking is concerned we regret it would be impossible for our company to release any funds for this purpose.

The letter concludes:

This position must be adjusted without any further delay.

Repeat that story hundreds of times and you have a vital part of this industry dying. It is claimed that this is a matter for the States but I hold a letter from the Federal Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in which he says that he will give unlimited funds, and continue to give them, to help to rehabilitate this industry. The funds are provided subject to certain conditions, which have been met. The funds have been made available and have been used. These people have used all their reserves of finance. They then went to their stock and station agent, only to be met with the kind of letter that I have just read. Where do we go from here? The choice is simple: Either we write off an area as important as perhaps any grazing area in the nation - perhaps it does not have a great carrying capacity, but it is a fairly reliable area - or we do something dramatic, such as go to the World Bank and say that we have an industry dying on its feet. Only yesterday we heard that the price of wool had been reduced to an almost all-time low. It is not the grazier alone that I have in mind but also the towns and all that go with them. Once this industry is lost to the small towns of inland Queensland and other northern parts of Australia the entire town is written off. The business people can no longer extend credit to the people involved in the industry. The revenue of the councils <s reduced and so they retrench employees. What happens to those employees? They drift to the coastal are&s where they can watch as many as four channels on television.

On the subject of television, might 1 say that we appreciate the announcement that television is coming to Mt Lsa. This is good news, but I wonder what sort of transmission station will be erected in Mt Isa because we have been told by four experts who visited the area recently - I did not know they had been there until they had come and gone - that television would not be received in Cloncurry 75 miles away. It was also said that it may be difficult to get reception in certain sections of the city of Mount Isa itself. Needless to say I will confer with the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) on this matter and use every endeavour at my disposal to see that the most powerful of all transmission stations is built in the area.

Is it suggested that this area owes anything to the nation? Rather I would suggest that the fantastic mineral deposits of the area and the fantastic grazing lands which extend across the northern frontiers of this nation have contributed fabulous fortunes to the coffers of this country. We see emerging almost unbelievable mineral deposits. I have in mind the deposits at Gove, Groote Eylandt and the McArthur River. I think of the fantastic phosphate deposits of the Cloncurry area.

Mr Donald Cameron:

– And Weipa.


– Yes, and Weipa. I could go on and on referring to the fantastic wealth from these areas. We owe nothing. We have a tremendous credit in the national treasury and it is on this credit that we now wish to draw. There is much more I would, would say on this subject, but it will keep.

On the matter of water conservation schemes, here again everything depends on the approaches made by the States. As I said before, it is no good asserting that something must be done. Let me again give a classical example of how you begin to make some headway when your case is properly documented and properly presented in a normal and reasonable fashion - not presented with an eye to some political gain. The Nogoa Gap scheme was prepared with infinite care by many people over a number of years and here I pay particular tribute to the Rockhampton Regional District Bureau. It did a fantastic job of preparing the case. I pay a tribute also to the Emerald Shire Council, the Emerald Chamber of Commerce and the cotton board. There is a saying that you do not get much milk out of a cow by kicking her in the guts, if you will pardon the expression. This is very true. On the other hand, you do not kiss the cow on her cold and shiny nose. You agitate and present your case with all the strength, conviction, logic and documentation of which you are capable and soon the sincerity seeps through. I would say that there is not a Minister who must not eventually accept a substantial case made out in respect of any project.

Let me get back to the Nogoa Gap scheme. This case has been presented and submitted to the State Government. The presentation has been so effective that the scheme now has No. 1 priority in Queensland. This was announced only six or ten weeks ago by the Premier of Queensland. We now have to fight hard to see that the scheme is approved by the Commonwealth and that the Commonwealth assists financially. This is our No. 1 project and we will sink our teeth into it and hang on like a mad and hungry dog until we get somewhere.

I turn now to deal briefly with airport facilities. The contribution of aviation to the development of inland Queensland and other northern parts of Australia has been magnificent. The development of the Townsville airport and the expenditure of $816,000 on Mount Isa airport and $60,000 on Longreach airport have been of tremendous benefit to Queensland, but - and there are some buts. For example, it was announced only yesterday that the Alpha airport would not now be served by AnsettANA. 1 am waiting to present my views on this matter to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) as soon as I can. I will also present to the responsible Minister some views concerning the expected announcement that the Jericho post office will be reduced in classification. This may sound parochial, but this is an important matter to the area involved. I have not yet been able to confirm the report that Alpha will lose its air service. These things are important to the people who live in the inland.

May I again take the broader view and say that we must decentralise. Perhaps Mr Khrushchev was not kidding when he said that the great red flood from China would pour into Australia. If we do not act, by the laws of God and man it might be Kismet for Australia; this might be our destiny. Unless we do something the Lord in His wisdom up there might say: ‘I do not think you deserve to hold this country’.


-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


- Mr Deputy Speaker, the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) has just made a speech that appeared to be one for all seasons. However, he forgets one fact. He forgets that people of the political persuasion to which he adheres have been in office in Queensland for the past ten years and at the Federal level uninterruptedly for the past eighteen years almost. So whatever shortcomings may be apparent in the north, particularly in relation to decentralisation, people of his own political philosophy must in some way have contributed to them. Furthermore, one cannot be in the least impressed by his view of the relationship of China to this country. I do not intend to try to dispute the validity of his claim that the Chinese may at some time in the future try to spread their influence down to this part of the world. However, if we accept his hypothesis, we see that his own attitude and that of the Government becomes all the more contradictory, since the Government is supplying to China commodities such as wool and wheat, which in their way are of just as much strategic importance as any other material. When Government supporters talk in this House about the possible menace of China, we, as I have said before, knowing the relations of this Government with China, particularly at the commercial and trade level, are not impressed.

I propose this afternoon to devote most of my time to the Budget that was presented to the House on Tuesday evening of last week. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon), in presenting it, claimed that its purpose was to maintain the expansionary trend that had been set in the 1966-67 Budget, which provided for a deficit of £535m. This year, the deficit principle is maintained. The deficit now budgeted for is to surpass that of last year and to rise to $596m. On the basis of these figures, I think it is fair to say that this Government has become an ardent advocate of deficit finance. This has not always been its policy, however, and it reverts very easily and quickly to a more sober approach when that suits its immediate need, and follows a course of advocating what it terms sane and sound financing by declaring the need for a balanced budget. I believe that we could apply another description to the present Budget and call it a borrower’s budget, because the expected deficit of $596m is to be met by borrowing both in and outside Australia.

This financial year, expenditure will rise 9.5% above that of last year. At a quick glance we can see that the total of the expenditure budgeted for this year and last year will amount to S 12,405m. For the two years, receipts will fall short of expenditure by a total of $ 1,131m. This combined deficit for two successive Budgets will be met by borrowings. In other words, for every $12 that we shall spend over the two years, we shall have to look about for a lender and borrow $1. How long this method of financing can continue is a matter not only for conjecture but also for great concern. If the Treasurer’s claim that our economy is buoyant and expansionary is correct, it is correct also to say, on the basis of the illustrations that I have given, that this situation in the economy is being achieved only by irresponsible and prodigious borrowing. The Treasurer makes the prediction that in real terms the increase in the gross national product will be 6%. I do not question this prediction, but I recall that when, not a year ago, the Opposition stated a policy that relied on a rate of growth of this magnitude, the Treasurer and other members of the Cabinet ridiculed our view. What the Government claimed yesterday was impossible now becomes the basis for the whole of its Budget predictions.

Defence spending looms very large in the present Budget It is being increased by $168m to a total of $1,1 18m- an increase of 18% compared to last financial year. The rate of increase in defence spending has averaged 22% over the last four years. The year 1963 must surely be the year of Nemesis for the Government in the field of defence expenditure. Then, with an election in the offing, the Prime Minister of the day, Sir Robert Menzies, in his own inimitable manner, told the nation of his ideas and plans and assured the Australian public that the deals that he had set in train were tha best deals of their kind ever entered into by this country.

It is now quite obvious that these defence deals have led this country into what is quickly becoming a rather sordid and humiliating experience and that the Government is involved in a situation that is having a disastrous effect on our economy. Experience in relation to defence commitments has clearly shown that little or no reliance can be placed on answers given or statements made by Ministers on the question of costs. This is clearly proved in respect of the FI IIA aircraft and the Charles F. Adams class destroyers. The former Prime Minister told as that he had made a package deal for this aircraft at a cost of $100m. The cost has now risen to $237m and we still do not know what the final purchase price will be. For the destroyers, the cost has risen from $3m to $9m for equipment and accessories, and the final figure for this commitment has yet to be announced. The enormity of the possible costs must seriously affect us in the not too far distant future.

Perusal of the Auditor-General’s report for the financial year 1966-67 leave no-one in any doubt about the seriousness of this situation. The blandishments of the Government satisfy no-one. They cannot allay the justifiable fears that are abroad as a result of its failure properly to assess or protect its own position in this matter. The state of confusion and in some respects the contradictions that are revealed in the AuditorGeneral’s report suggest that perhaps our Public Service is not as reliable or as efficient as some Ministers would have the Parliament believe. If one accepts the opinions of the Public Service Board and departmental heads, everything is in order and they are very efficient. However, we should not be compelled to accept their opinions of their own efficiency. In my view, a long time ago we reached a stage at which their claims about their own capabilities should have been tested.

Never in our history has there been an independent inquiry into the workings of the Public Service. I do not regard an inquiry by the Public Service Board into its own functioning or efficiency as a worthwhile exercise. In other countries periodic inquiries are conducted by independent persons or tribunals. A royal commission inquired into the workings and efficiency of the Public Service in the United Kingdom. I believe that in this country such an inquiry should be carried out without delay. It is long overdue, and the AuditorGeneral’s report lends strength to my suggestion that an inquiry be held. It is difficult to understand the rather strange reluctance on the part of the Government to take some positive action, and while it remains obdurate it will also remain inexplicably bound up with the shortcomings and blunders that are becoming more frequent on the managerial side of the affairs of our nation.

I now wish to say something about what must be regarded by all as the most indefensible omission on the part of the Government. I refer to its failure to provide an increase in social service and war pensions. This deliberate act on the part of Government surpasses all understanding. Increases could have been granted for a cost of only about $50m, if that. When one considers the increased expenditure on other items the Government’s action appears all the more reprehensible. The Government can find an additional $168m for defence, but nothing extra for the pensioners. The Treasurer stated that the weekly wage rate rose by 7% during the last year, and it would be hard to convince anyone that a similar, if not a greater, increase had not taken place in the cost of living. It is a fair assumption that during the next 12 months there will be further increases in the cost of living. It is hard to believe that the Government is not aware of this, yet it condemns the unfortunate people involved to live in these worsening conditions while it remains unmoved by their plight.

In this country at least 1 6% of our population, if not more, live at a level below the bread line. This is an appalling fact which becomes even more appalling when it is obvious that such a state of affairs should never exist, and should never have been permitted to develop. This Government has controlled the country for 18 years. When it took over in 1949 Australia ranked seventh among the nations of the world in the field of social services. We have now been relegated to seventeenth position. Many countries leave Australia far behind in their approach to this question. Canada pays its social service recipients $75 a month and imposes no means test. Norway, Sweden and Denmark have no means test, but Australia still has one. The Government always claims that it cannot find the money to abolish the means test, but such a difficulty apparently does not apply to defence expenditure, because on the Government’s own figures it has found an additional amount of $700m for this purpose over the last 4 years. When we realise that the underprivileged section of our people will have additional burdens placed upon them by the action of this Government it is difficult to understand how anyone cun be satisfied with the Budget.

Although the Government cannot see its way clear to do anything to assist the needy it can still go out of its way to help those who do not stand in need of assistance. 1 refer now to the action of the Government in raising from $800 to $1,200 the maximum taxation allowance for life insurance and superannuation payments. Who asked for this to be done? It would be interesting to know, and it would be interesting to discover why it was done. Only those in the higher income group will benefit. It would also be of interest to know how many individuals will benefit and what will be the cost of this provision. The action of the Government in this matter is most reprehensible. There are only two words that can describe it - ‘disgraceful’ and ‘sickening’.

The Government’s decision to reduce drastically the allocation for war service homes is disturbing. I find it difficult to believe that a reduction of the magnitude proposed will not severely effect home building in this sphere.

I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.


– 1 rise to congratulate the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) on producing a Budget that has been better accepted by the people of Australia than

Budgets have been, in my short memory, for some years. I believe this is a Budget which, in contradiction of remarks made by honourable members opposite, is designed primarily to encourage thrift and - and this is an aspect of it that interests me very much - not to disadvantage those who attempt to save. There are many other aspects of the Budget, but this is one that appeals to me a great deal.

Before getting on to the Budget itself I would like to comment on one or two points that have already been made in the debate. The first of these appeared in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) yesterday, when he made some comments on the subject of health. Honourable members will recall that the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) spent some weeks overseas during the recent recess. A great many interesting facts and opinions were picked up by him and in his usual meticulous fashion he proceeded to delve fully and deeply into many matters affecting public health. The Leader of the Opposition made some rather personal and, I think, not very fair comments on the Minister. He said, as reported at page 300 of Hansard:

The Minister for Health has now checked his facts and has told me that in the last year for which figures are available total expenditure on health in Australia was $7 16m, or 4.9% of our gross national product, more than in the United Kingdom, which at least has a national health system.

If we analyse these so-called facts what do we come up with? To start off with, we cannot assume that the same assessments of background detail are ‘accepted in the United Kingdom when working out the gross national product as are accepted in Australia. So the honourable gentleman’s argument falls to the ground in that initial stage. Then he went on to say:

Australia spends more of its national income on medicines than any other comparable country does.

Surely the two remarks I have quoted appear on the surface to be inconsistent. On which side does the Leader of the Opposition want his bread buttered? The straight fact of the case is that it does not matter how much money governments obtain by taxation or by other methods, they must still get value for their money when they spend it. And as I think the honourable member for Bowman (Dr Gibbs) has said in this House on more than one occasion, no matter which country of the world we may go to we will find a responsible section of government leaders who believe that Australia has as good a national health scheme as any other country has. Further, who would believe that we do not get better value for our money than other countries? This is a very important factor and I invite honourable members opposite and, indeed, the Leader of the Opposition, to study the various editions of the London ‘Evening Standard’ over the last week, because 1 think they will find them quite edifying. What has happened in England over the last fortnight and particularly during the last week is that there has been a great debate regarding their health services. The debate is on whether the people of England today wish to pay half of their medical fees in order to have some right to go to a doctor of their own choosing. The result of inquiries, according to the London ‘Evening Standard’, has been a poll that suggests that one-third of the people of the United Kingdom at least wish to pay half of their fees in order to have a doctor of their own choosing. I think before we carry on with too much nonsense in regard to Australia’s capability and what it is doing in the field of health we should get back to some basic thinking.

We should consider what does happen in countries that allow a great deal of their annual receipts from taxation or their capital funds to become permanently committed. What has broken the United Kingdom economy today? I will be kind and leave out the Socialist angle. The main reason why the United Kingdom is in financial trouble today is that too much of her government funds have become committed annually without enough elasticity in the use of government funds to put them into productive enterprises. If there is one thing I hope I learned in the five and one-half years I was a member of the South Australian Parliament under, might I say, the thumb of the Leader of that State at that time, it was the necessity to put governmental funds into productive enterprises. Money from the governmental sector of the economy, in those days, was used for governmental business activities that would produce some growth in the State’s economy.

Such action would produce further revenue for the Government and its effect would snowball. It is easy enough just to sit here and talk as a lot of academics about what we should or should not do. However, if we look at the priority of proper governmental expenditure and the need in a growing economy to stimulate the private sector then, I suggest to the House, that this Government has a record which is quite unrivalled in this field.

I do not think it is worth while considering increases of gross national product from one year to the next under both the Menzies and Holt Governments. I think these facts are well known and I do not wish to elaborate on them. However, in terms of health I make the point once again that I believe that this Government has probably the best health scheme in the world today. As the Minister has said more than once, I do not believe it is a perfect scheme. I concede that members opposite might not agree that it is the best in the world. I suggest, whether they do or not, that there is room for improvement. As government receipts rise and as the economy becomes stronger and stronger, as undoubtedly it will over many years, I hope that in small ways we can adjust this scheme to make sure that it keeps up with the times and with our idea of how those who are not so fortunate as others should get proper and efficient service in the field of health.

I was interested in the remarks of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) because if there is anyone I have a great regard for in this place it is that member. He always tries to put a strong, balanced and objective argument when he gets to his feet. It was because of this very fact that I was interested-

Mr Killen:

– The honourable member is too lavish.


– I do not think so. I was most interested to hear that the honourable member talked of the necessity to get down to figures that were accurate rather than chuck figures around at random. He referred, for instance, to the field of motor registrations and the importance of the motor industry to South Australia. He said that no-one in his right mind would suggest that the appalling state of the economy of

South Australia is entirely due to the Dunstan Government. He pointed out that to be objective one must have a look at the importance of the motor vehicle industry to that State. I agreed. I thought it was a bit of each. The point I make is that the honourable member is such a good, unemotional, honest character that he has not disagreed with me in any form. I think this is very good because som where between these two lines of thought lies the truth. One can hardly condemn the Dunstan Government when Dunstan has not been long enough in office to do much harm. It was mainly done by the previous Premier and this was responsible for the landslide election figures of last November. If the honourable member for Melbourne Ports would agree with me that the fault lies, on the one hand, with the motor vehicle industry and, on the other hand, with the South Australian Labor Government, then what we have to do is to have a look at the figures concerning the motor vehicle industry. I have had great trouble in the last half-hour because the figures I wanted were not available. I have not managed to obtain assessed figures for the total sales of vehicles, other than motor bikes, up to the year ended 30th June 1967. It seems to me at this early stage that we are certainly up on figures for manufactured vehicles, minus motor bikes. If this is so, I presume the honourable member for Melbourne Ports would agree with me that one could discount during the last 12 months - to a pretty fair percentage at any rate - the importance of the motor vehicle industry to South Australia. On my mundane level of thinking I consider that this is a reasonable assumption of the facts. If this is so then I presume that the suggested ratio of blame for the economic position of South Australia of SO : SO no longer applies as much as it might have in the honourable member’s mind when he was thinking of figures for the year 1965-66. I think it is fair to suggest that an estimate of 60 : 40 would be the proportion of the degree of blame. I do not know. This is the state of affairs that exists in South Australia at present. The economy of South Australia is in a very weakened state. If anyone were to ask me the reason for this I would say that the prime reason is that the people of that State and investors from outside have lost confidence in the degree of economic growth of South Australia. I do not wish to harangue this point. I spent 10 minutes on it last Thursday and produced a lot of facts and figures which I have no intention of going over again tonight.

Because 1 believe it may be some weeks before the motion of which I have given notice concerning the Chowilla Dam will be discussed and because I may or may not have the opportunity of debating the Minister’s statement on this dam, I would like to spend a few minutes dealing with one side of this problem.

Mr Duthie:

– This is a preview.


– That is right. I reserve my right to extend these remarks al % later date. I intend, in an introductory fashion, to point out one or two of the problems about which South Australia is tremendously concerned at present. I think it is fair to state - and we have heard it said many times - that South Australia is the driest state in Australia. I say this with due regard to the Chair. I also point out that we have a record in that State which I think is quite unrivalled in any other State or country in the world as regards the utilisation of very meagre water resources. I would point out that due, perhaps, to the thrift and industry, or perhaps good government - I do not know -

Mr Kelly:

– The quality of the people in South Australia.


– Yes, but not the water, which I shall touch on in a minute. The latest figures I can obtain disclose that, due to those facts, we have approximately 97% of the people of South Australia hooked on to the government tap. In other words, there is government water reticlated to 97% of the people of South Australia. In days gone by the people used to say that government owned pipes in South Australia would stretch from Adelaide to Mesopotamia. Where they would stretch today I do not know but I presume that the rate of flow has dropped off.

It is in this perspective that I wish to make some remarks in connection with the Chowilla Dam. It is unquestioned that, in a State that is as dry as South Australia, it is necessary to watch far more closely than in other areas in Australia the future needs and requirements of water not only for the few irrigation settlements we have but also to support the development of the State and its industries, and, indirectly, as has been pointed out by the honourable member for Grey (Mr Jessop), the rapid and vital ‘growth of places like Whyalla. I remind honourable members that the South Australian Government pipes water some hundreds of miles from the River Murray to Whyalla, and the town depends on this water for its existence and industrial growth.

Let me state another fact that might be of interest to the House. During the last 12 months 31% of the water utilised in Adelaide itself came from a pumped source. When I first saw this figure I thought it referred to water pumped from underground supplies and from the River Murray. I now find that I am somewhat out of date, and that the authorities gave up pumping from underground water years ago. I repeat that 31% of the water used in Adelaide during the last year was pumped from the River Murray, that river being the only source of extra water on which we can depend in that State to sustain our growth.

In South Australia, we have three sources of water, as probably other States have. Firstly, we have the River Murray, the only river of any consequence in the State. Secondly, we have underground waters of very limited extent, and thirdly we have the catchment areas in the semicircle of the Mount Lofty Ranges which extend roughly around two sides of Adelaide. We have exploited the catchment areas in the Adelaide Hills almost to the maximum. Any further catchment areas that can be exploited there are of minor consequence and the construction of walls to catch the water in them is questionable economically. This should emphasise once again to honourable members the great importance of the River Murray to the very existence of South Australia. It should also enable them to absorb the fact that, due to its poor water supplies, South Australia has done everything possible to utilise what it has got and, indeed, to make provision for the future.

A former Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, spent a great deal of his time looking carefully into the question of future water supplies for South Australia. One can understand, therefore, the horror of the people of South Australia when, some 10 days ago, they heard the news that the South Australian member of the River Murray Commission, Mr Beaney, had recommended to the State Government that there should be a deferment of the letting of tenders and the undertaking of consequential expenditure on the dam site at Chowilla.

I shall not canvass the notice of motion standing in my name on the notice paper but I would like at this stage to spend a few minutes in telling the House of some of the problems associated with one of the reasons why this dam will not go ahead at this point of time. I refer to the problem of salinity. Basically, salinity can come from many sources. We have even subterranean difficulties in terms of salinity. This problem exists even in the proposed Chowilla dam site. In that area, due to the old geography changing, and due to the fact that the nonpermeable layer had silted or eroded away over a period of time, there has arisen a salinity problem even underground that can rear its head, as it were, in connection with constructions such as the Chowilla dam.

The second cause of salinity relates to evaporation. We have some experience of vast areas of water and the salinity problem arising from evaporation. In these cases, a pan test is made and a fraction or index figure is arrived at. This index figure is applied to the overall level - in the case of Chowilla it is nearly 6 feet per annum - of evaporation, to get a true measurement. The logical reasoning behind this question is that over an expanse of water the extent of evaporation is less than it would be with a pan experiment on an arid section of ground next door. As a result of this, the index figure for Chowilla has been increased from 8 to .9 in the latest tests. Of itself, this increase of approximately .1 does not make a great difference where the evaporation level is 6 feet, but it does mean quite a bit when taken in conjunction with certain other figures which I believe are River Murray Commission figures which’ were taken from the report of that Commission for 1962. Since that report was written, the area of Chowilla has been increased by 20%.

Logically, an increase of 20% in the size of an enormous project like this, which will impound twelve times the volume of water in Sydney Harbour, means that there is a good deal of shallow water. The two factors - the increase in area on the earlier assessed figures and the movement in the index figure for evaporation - have, I gather, given an increased evaporation component in excess of 30%, and this is one logical reason why I must think there is a certain amount of wisdom in the Federal Government’s action in deferring work on this project until further inquiries are made into alternative sites.

Mr Kelly:

– The Commission’s action, not the Federal Government’s action.


– Yes. That is a nice point. It was the action of the River Murray Commission. The South Australian member of the Commission reported to the State Government. He made the first announcement that this project should be deferred.

Mr Beaton:

– How can this be done when legislation has been passed through this Parliament?


– I refer the honourable member to the Sixth Schedule of the River Murray Waters Agreement. There he will find the complete answer. I refer in particular to section 20 (2.) where a total sum of money is made available for expenditure on the whole of the works of the River Murray Commission; but if we look at section 32 we will see the maximum amount available for the construction of the Chowilla Dam is only $28m. The honourable member will be aware that the latest estimated cost of this work is $70m, and one would presume that the agreement would hardly stand up to the light of day on that basis.

Further, the cost of an alternative scheme which may or may not impound 1.5 million acre feet of water would not be a great deal less than the cost of the Chowilla Dam, and the sum available for this work is still insufficient to finance or permit of arriving at a realistic agreement in connection with the construction even if the alternative scheme were to go ahead. 1 have only one or two minutes left to say exactly what I think about the action of the Victorian Government in putting refuse, effluent and high salinity water into the River Murray. This has been, and remains, a problem for settlers all along the River Murray, and I include those at Mildura and other places in Victoria as well.

Mr Peters:

– Would that be Sir Henry Bolte the honourable member is going to talk about?


– The honourable member can draw his own conclusions. I am only giving a lesson in geography now. The main problem starts when the water leaves the Hume Reservoir at approximately 7 grains per million, and after going downstream it arrives in an almost pure state in the area close to Echuca. From there on the problem really starts.

Up to December 1965 I had no trouble in obtaining figures on saline disposal. In fact, 1 could pick them up quite easily when wandering through these towns, even at an unofficial level. However, from the beginning of 1966 it has been singularly hard to get figures from the Victorian Government about the saline disposal into the main stream of the River Murray, so 1 apologise for the figures I now intend to quote, which are unusual in that they are parts per million per total dissolved solids. If honourable members want to get the usual figures they can get it by dividing by 1.4.3.

On 3rd December 1965, after a thunderstorm, which one would suppose would dilute the saline content by flow into a creek such as Barr Creek, which I am now going to refer to, the count was 7,050 parts per million of total dissolved solids with a flow into the creek of 227 cusecs. Similar figures two days later were 6,700 parts per million at 176 flow of cusecs and the day after the figures were 9,460 parts per million at 129 flow of cusecs and the day after that they were 9,920 parts per million at 129 flow of cusecs. From the Loddon River at that time the saline flow was 3,600 parts per million with a flow of 528 cusecs. lt is alleged that at the present time from Barr Creek, near Kerang, there are 1,000 parts per million of salt coming into the main stream of the Murray River through that area, it is also alleged that this is a flow of such extent that it has put up the count in the River Murray below that point to 750 grains per million. When one considers it is not safe to irrigate citrus at anything around, say, 200 grains, one begins to assess the danger not only to the people downstream in South Australia but, as I have said before, to blockers in the Sunraysia area of Victoria.

Secondly, along the bank below Swan Hill there are four or five pumping stations. These pumping stations are pulling drainage water high in salinity into the Murray River now, some of it of up to 500 grains salinity. The effluent at Robinvale is not so bad. There is an attempt at Robinvale - one of the few by the Victorian Government - to discharge into billabongs and creeks. This saline then only reaches the River Murray in time of flood, when it is not so consequential. In the Sunraysia area some of the drainage from Red Cliffs goes directly into the Murray River and some does not. At Lake Hawthorn the outflow from drains is at the rate of five to six cusecs, which is considerable from a drain, and this highly saline water is concentrated in an evaporation pan. The only catch is that the evaporation pans contents leak back or are put back into the River Murray. It would be considerably better to put the saline straight into the River Murray rather than to allow evaporation to occur at that particular point. The next example is the two gypsum washing plants opposite Mildura. They pump water and wash CCP crystals. This water then goes back into the Murray at one cusec per drainage component at approximately 200 grains per million. There is also a problem of silting up of the river at that point due to other foreign minerals. At Curlwa all the drainage goes back into the River Murray. At Coomealla there are some pans and some is put directly back into the Murray. From Wentworth to Mannum, which is the main area in South Australia for irrigation, there is no direct return into the Murray at all. I can say the same for New South Wales. In the Mumimbidgee Irrigation Area all the drainage water is put back into the drainage pans or is put back for stock water usage. The problem exists purely in the Victorian stretch of the river.

I hope I have made that one point out of the several concerned with the Chowilla Dam. Whether the Chowilla Dam is constructed or not there is a grave problem to growers in South Australia and in the Mildura area, and I hope others will give force to the argument that this disposal of high saline effluent into the main stream of the River Murray should be far better controlled in the future.


– I want to speak tonight on aspects of the Budget, on defence and the Vietnam war and, if there is time, on a blind spot in the immigration programme. I agree with the remarks of my colleagues on this side of the House on the Budget. It would seem that one’s attitude depends on which side of the House one sits. I agree with my colleagues that this is a careful, callous, smooth, status quo and deceiving Budget. It was unfolded the other night as a generous Budget, and the next day it was called a family man’s Budget. A closer analysis of the Budget has revealed it is a family man’s Budget all right - but a rich family man’s Budget. The Budget provides increased child endowment payments for all children beyond the fourth. The average Australian family has two children, so there will not be many who will benefit from that increase, probably about 25% of the existing families. The Budget also increases tax deductions for a wife and children by a measly $26 each. Even now, with this increase to $312, our wives are not regarded as very valuable.

I want to read an analysis of how this is going to affect the individual taxpayer, and I am quoting an article by Alan Ramsey in the ‘Australian’ on 18th August 1967:

The dependants’ allowances go up by $26 a year - the first change in the scale in ten years.

What it means in hard specifics to a man on the basic wage ($1,700 a year) with wife and three children is a saving of $11.51 - or 22c a week.

For a family man on an income on $60 a week - the accepted Australian average wage - with a wife and three children the savings go up to $23.3 - or 44c a week.

And if you earn say $7,500 a yew, or round about what most Federal backbench MPs would get, then Mr McMahon’s gratitous handout is worth $46.70 with four dependants.

That is the extent of the benefit on this aspect of the Budget.

The concession for insurance payments is increased from $800 to $1,200. This will benefit only those with very high insurance coverages, and that is certainly only a small percentage in the top salary bracket in Australia. There are also fringe benefits for primary producers that are so ‘fringelike’ that they are almost invisible. In my opinion the Budget is too conservative and is a limitation on public sector spending, which is a dangerous practice at a time of national expansion. There is no reference in the Budget Speech to development which is vital for our northern areas and for other parts of Australia, especially as it relates to water conservation and irrigation. I thought that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) may have mentioned these aspects, but he did not do so. A huge increase in costs for our postal services was mentioned in the Budget speech, but these increased costs will be included in a special Bill. It is intended to increase Post Office income by S64m a year.

In the Budget there is a paucity of international aid. In his speech the Treasurer said:

The scale of our economic aid to developing countries is not as well known as it should be. Unlike other aid-giving countries, we give all our official aid in grants not in repayable, interestbearing loans, tied or untied. Our official aid this year, estimated at $142m, will probably represent about 0.75% of our estimated national income.

The Treasurer takes pride in the fact that this is better than what most other countries do, but it still is not good enough in the opinion of the Opposition. Had this Government been spending more on aid in Asia in the years since the Second World War, the war in Vietnam might have been greatly scaled down. Indeed, it might not even have begun, because the seed bed of Communism is poverty, insecurity, instability of a country’s economy, and injustice, both political and otherwise. I claim that international aid is one of the greatest weapons we have against the rise of Communism. We should build up these underdeveloped countries until they can stand on their own feet and resist the temptation to fall for the Communist ideology. Communists come to these countries and promise them something better than we can give. On the question of international aid, this Government stands absolutely condemned in my opinion. It devotes 0.75% of our national income to international aid and spends 5% of our national income on defence. I think that economic aid overseas is part of any country’s defence programme. We should be building up friends instead of enemies in the countries to our north.

The Budget proposes no increase in the pensions of our 800,000 pensioners. Many other speakers have mentioned this matter, so I do not intend to deal with it, but it was a flagrant omission from the Budget. The Budget contained no statement of priorities or planning. It proposed an excessive increase in sales taxation - the thief in the night tax that hits the poor and the rich, the pensioner and the big company manager equally. Receipts from sales tax will be increased from $379,270,000 to $414,260,000, a rise of almost $35m in the coming year. This indirect and vicious taxation hits everybody - superannuitants, pensioners, wage earners and others on fixed incomes as well as the big men who can well afford to pay it. Those on low subsistence incomes cannot afford to pay this vicious tax.

The Government has failed to give serious consideration to a national road plan. It has given lip service to the question of road building in Australia for many years and it finally got around to creating the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. It took years to convince the Government that this matter was important.


– The Bureau is the silent service.


– Yes. It is the silent service of the Government departments. It has very little power, no authority, and little executive action. The Australian Road Federation Ltd, which has done a tremendous amount of work in trying to keep us informed on the important road problems of Australia, placed before members prior to the last election a plan to create a federal ministry of transport patterned partially on the new American ministry to which I will refer presently. The main point of the submission to the Government and the Opposition was that roads, the main sector of the national transport system, cany 80% of Australia’s passenger traffic and 75% of its freight, yet they are submerged in a federal department whose prime responsibility is ship building and shipping. The Australian Transport Advisory Council, a subsidiary of the Department of Shipping and Transport, which presumably tenders advice to the Minister is, at the State level, composed entirely of railway ministers. Of the four transport media, air alone enjoys the benefit of a sole Minister, yet the Department of Civil Aviation is concerned with less than 1% of the national traffic task.

The creation of the Bureau of Roads was a constructive, though minor, step. Its potential would be enhanced if it were allied to a distinct ministry of transport. These suggestions were put to us by the Australian Road Federation which also pointed out to us that America had recently passed through Congress a Department of Transportation Act, consolidating various transportation functions but excluding maritime activities. The law was signed last October by President’ Johnson who said that it was a major step in bringing his Government up to date with the times. He said that it brought thirty-one agencies and bureaux into a single Department of Transportation. He predicted it would help to hasten the day in America when people and freight moved within America speedily, efficiently, safely and dependably. The American scheme has a lot to commend it, and we should examine the possibility of creating a ministry of transport that would have as its prime task the development of the road system of Australia which is sorely in need of a lot more help and money. Years ago I suggested a national roads plan whereby the Commonwealth would actively finance the construction of highways in Australia from federal revenue and would release all the subsidiary road systems to the States and municipalities. Only in this way can we get an efficient and modern interstate and intrastate transport system in Australia.

Mr Peters:

– That is right.


– I thank the honourable member for his support. In the Budget, scant attention was given to primary industry, especially to the dairying industry which is in trouble in certain geographic areas. The Government has failed to tackle rising prices and costs which are hitting pensioners, superannuitants, wage earners and primary producers equally hard. These are people who cannot pass on costs. It is all very well to introduce a total wage system, which has virtually pegged wages in Australia for twelve months. No-one has pegged prices for these twelve months. This, to me, is the great weakness in this Government’s attitude to economics. There is no price control, yet there is wage control. This is why salaries, wages and pensions lose their meaning and purchasing power. The Opposition believes that there should be a referendum on this matter. When we become a government we shall hold a referendum to ask the people to give the Commonwealth power over prices and costs.

Mr Pearsall:

– They cannot get price control in Tasmania, where there is a Labor Government.


– The Tasmanian Government could not get its legislation through the Upper House - that is the situation. In a gallup poll prior to the last election 67% of Australia’s people said that they wanted price control.

Mr Pearsall:

– The Tasmanian Labor Government will not give them price control.


– The honourable member can get up and make his speech later. He should let me have a go now. Who speaks for the consumer in the Federal Government? This is another question. Defence expenditure is to be increased by $168m this year to $1,1 18m.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.


– We on this side of the House believe that the Government and its advisers made a callous calculation to meet the added defence costs of $168m by denying to the 800,000 pensioners of Australia a base rate rise which would have cost approximately $55m. These are the people least able to bear the cost of the war in Vietnam. But the juggling of the Treasurer has led to this section of the community bearing the cost of that war. The increase in the defence vote without an increase in direct income tax was possible only by cutting down expenditure on some other essential facets of our economy. This is also the opinion of Mr Kenneth Davidson who is the economist for the ‘Australian’. In the issue of Friday, 18th August 1967 Mr Davidson wrote:

One possible explanation of the way in which defence expenditure has been able to grow without the need to raise tax rates, is that the Government baa applied a squeeze to the proportion of resources devoted to other areas of budgetary responsibility.

The Opposition claims that it is the pensioners who have been marked out for this sort of treatment. If the Government believes that the war in Vietnam, which I will speak about in a moment, is absolutely vital to our very survival, why did the Government not increase taxation and raise the extra money needed in a business-like, courageous way, instead of forcing the folk least able in our community to afford k to go without their essential requirements?

Yesterday, when I spoke in the debate on foreign affairs, I did not finish what I wanted to say about Vietnam. I take this opportunity during the Budget debate to do so as defence and foreign affairs are well and truly intermingled in this discussion. The constant reiteration by the Government that China is a threat to the security of South East Asia, Indonesia or Australia has been exaggerated in order to justify the war. It is interesting to note that only three out of the forty nations that are in some way involved in the Vietnam struggle have sent troops to this conflict. Apart from a handful of troops from Thailand, none of the other South East Asian countries is assisting with troops. But they are, according to the Government, under direct threat. This is a very strange phenomenom if the threat of Chinese Communism is as great as the American advisers would have us believe.

Cambodia, for instance, has successfully become a neutralist country on the very fringe of the war. Burma, with China along 1,000 miles of its border, is still free from Communist domination. In fact, the Communist Party in Burma has been underground for nearly eighteen years. Why has not China, if it is supposed to be such a menace and so expansion happy, taken over Burma long ago? In fact, Communism has had two recent severe setbacks in the Pacific region. I do not think many are conscious of that fact. China has been defeated militarily and politically in Indonesia. Just recently, North Korea has declared its independence from China. Please note that both these happenings have taken place without United States intervention.

Observers supporting the American intervention in Vietnam completely overlook the fact that the insurgent movement in South Vietnam was primarily nationalist in content. As I said yesterday, it grew under Ho Chi Minh into a tightly united movement fighting the oppressive, suppressive and dictatorial Diem military regime. In fact, this was a civil war. AH historians and observers close to the scene have agreed on this fact. It was a nationalist movement of the common people who were trying to get control of their own affairs which, in all the long history of Vietnam, they have never been able to do.

United States Secretary of Defence, Robert McNamara, is quoted at page 78 of Arthur Schlesinger’s new book ‘The Bitter Heritage’. The passage reads:

It would be a gross over-simplification’, Secretary McNamara has reminded us, ‘lo regard Communism as the central factor in every conflict throughout the under-developed world. Of the 149 serious insurgencies in the past eight years, Communists have been involved in only fiftyeight of them - 38 per cent of the total - and this includes seven in which a Communist regime itself was the target of the uprising.’

It is interesting to note also that Arthur Schlesinger points out in his book that many countries in recent years have undergone drastic upheavals and their action took aggressive forms, but they were not Communistic, nor did they go Communist, even though there were individual Communists within the nationalist movement. He says that the striking fact of the post-war years is surely the failure of the Communists to ride to power on internal upheavals. He cites Burma, Cambodia, many states of Africa, Bolivia, Egypt, Algeria and Indonesia as examples of nationalist movements bringing into being non-Communist governments. Therefore, he says, Communism in past years has singularly failed to win out in any wars of national liberation. The two exceptions are China and North Vietnam where Communism has succeeded because its leaders became the heads of movements during the Second World War and went on to win the revolutions that followed.

As 1 said yesterday, China has made no pronouncements that it desires to take over by force, or to impose its will upon, the countries of South East Asia such as Burma, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam or Australia. May I again stress that this disruptive and wasteful war in Vietnam is largely fighting a shadow if it is trying to contain the Chinese brand of Communism. I refer now to ‘Vietnam - Myth and Reality’ by Harold Levien which was published in June of this year in Australia. At page 15 we read:

All the troops fighting on the side of the Vietcong are Vietnamese. There are no Chinese or nationalists of other countries in South Vietnam on the side of the Vietcong.

During Marshal Ky’s visit to Australia he said-

This is very important. I want the House to take note of these remarks that came from Marshal Ky:

  1. . that China was unlikely to send troops to Vietnam as this would unite the people of the north and the south’ so great was the hostility to any threat of Chinese occupation. Yet, the Liberal Government election policy in November, 1966, said the Vietnam war was being fought to block the downward thrust of Chinese Communism.

Yet, this small country, Vietnam, could be one of the best bastions against the advance of the Chinese.

Mr Cope:

– Just look at this advertisement that was put out during the election.


– Yes. The advertisement which my friend from Watson is showing to the House presents a completely misleading situation if one understands the history of these areas and the nature of what has happened there recently.

The subject of the National Liberation Front has been brought into this debate. I want to say how much I deprecate the attempt by Liberal Party speakers to ally the Australian Labor Party with the Monash Labor Club and other university labor clubs. These clubs are not affiliated with the Australian Labor Party. They never have been. The first man to deny any link between these clubs and the Australian Labor Party was the Secretary of the Victorian Branch of the ALP, Mr Hartley. He did so only a few days after the announcement was made that these clubs were to raise money for the NLF. At page 17 of this booklet ‘Vietnam - Myth and Reality’ we read this:

  1. The National Liberation Front (normally referred to as the Vietcong) is wholly indigenous to Vietnam and is composed mainly of South Vietnamese. Until the US intervention in Vietnam was accelerated in 1963 the support it received from other Communist countries was moral and ideological - not military.
  2. Many leading members of the NLF are not Communist. The President of the NLF was formerly a non-Communist Saigon lawyer. ‘The

General Secretary is a Communist former Professor of History. The Central Committee includes representatives of the Buddhists, the Catholics, ffg* tribes people, professional people and other nonCommunists.*

In effect the National Liberation Front is the political voice of the people of South Vietnam and we on this side of the House, as well as hundreds of other competent observers all over the world, claim that at any peace conference this group must be represented.

Senator Robert Kennedy was the first to say that the NLF must be represented at any talks designed to end the war. He knows what he is saying. He would not say such a thing if he did not believe it.

The conscience of the world is hardening against this war. Does America really think that it can defeat Communist ideology with bombs? Surely we recognise that winning the minds and hearts of the Vietnamese people must have priority in such a struggle if lasting victory is to be won. We could eventually win the war on the battlefield by mass slaughter through saturation bombing, hut we could lose the war on the ideological, economic and political battlefields. The Vietcong, as represented in the NLF, in spite of incidents of terror which it has perpetrated, is obviously supported by thousands of Vietnamese who are not Communists and thousands of these people, who are not Communists, are joining the Vietcong army. They have been won over on the ideological and psychological battlefields and as a consequence give their support to the Vietcong in defence of their way of life and of their country and in support of their struggle for self government.

The Pope. has spoken against this war. Rochester’s Catholic Bishop Fulton Sheen has suggested ways to bring the war to an end. He is probably one of the strongest anti-Communists we know of. He has visited Australia. He is a great speaker and a great church leader. In a recent sermon he said:

May I speak only as a Christian and humbly ask the President to announce, ‘In the name of God, who bade us love our neighbour with our whole heart and soul and mind, for the sake of reconciliation I shall withdraw our forces immediately from Southern Vietnam.’

Retired United States Army General James M. Gavin, a former American Ambassador to France, who earlier this year recommended consolidating United States positions in strategic enclaves in Vietnam, last week resigned from the Massachusetts Democratic Advisory Council to protest against the Administration’s handling of the war. He said:

It is having disastrous consequences on the national economy.

He gave other reasons as well. U Thant has made strong pronouncements about the war, and he is in a position to know what is going on behind the scenes. In a leading article on 17th August last under the heading ‘Vietnam decision’ the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ wrote:

Our own view is that neither of these courses is right but that the Allies should try to deescalate the war by restricting the bombing in North Vietnam and by holding and securing areas already won in South Vietnam on the lines suggested by General Gavin. The war has already reached a point where the forces employed and the suffering caused no longer seem commensurate with the official war aims of the Allies.

These are not the words of the Labor Party, these are the words of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. Honourable members opposite seem to have the crazy notion that the only people speaking against this war are members of the Australian Labor Party. We are supported in our view all around the world by thousands of people who know what is going on better than we do. It is honourable members opposite who are being isolated by world opinion, not us.

Finally I want to refer to an exchange of letters between President Johnson and Ho Chi Minh. On 22nd March this year the North Vietnamese Foreign Ministry released an exchange of letters between President Johnson and Ho Chi Minh which took place during February. The letters were published in the Press on 23rd March. President Johnson wrote asking for a cease fire and an end of the struggle so as to get around the table and talk the matter over. His letter was lengthy. In part he said:

I am prepared to order a cessation of bombing against your country and the stopping of further augmentation of US Forces in South Vietnam as soon as I am assured that infiltration into South Vietnam by land and sea has stopped.

He suggested that the representatives of America and North Vietnam could meet in Moscow. In reply Ho Chi Minh wrote:

In your message you suggested direct talks between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States. If the US Government really wants these talks it must first of nil stop unconditionally its bombing raids and all other acts of war against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. It is only after the unconditional cessation of the US bombing raids and all other acts of war against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam that the two countries could enter into talks. The Vietnamese people will never submit to force; they will never accept talks under the threat of bombs.

Ho Chi Minh did not rule out the possibility of talks. He said that the bombing must stop first. That is what we and thousands of other people all over the world seek. If this could be done within the next few months, before the war escalates into conflict with Red China, we would save years of struggle, agony and suffering, not to mention thousands of lives.


– I am pleased to be given the opportunity to reply to the address of the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie), the last fifteen minutes of which was a regurgitation of his address last night. Honourable members will recall that yesterday he told us that in the last two years he had read more about Vietnam than about any other subject and that he was so well armed and his intellect such that he could place before us sources of information of great weight. But after he said that he quoted from the ‘Daily Mirror’. I am sure that this is a responsible newspaper, but it is hardly a source of unimpeachable quality. Again tonight he has backed his arguments with quotations from newspapers.

Mr Duthie:

– Why does the honourable member exaggerate?


– If the honourable member could speak with as much intellect as he chants cliches he would not perform with such mediocrity. He tried to dismiss China as a threat and after holding himself out as a leading authority, backed by quotations from newspapers, he conveniently neglected to read newspapers of today’s date to show what is happening in China at the present moment, not only to the British embassies but to their personnel. He unfortunately held up Cambodia as a magnificent example of neutrality but in the same breath implied that we were losing friends in South East Asia. He conveniently forgot to mention that not only do we represent Cambodia in South Vietnam but also that we represent the United States in Cambodia. This must surely be one of the most fascinating diplomatic relationships in foreign affairs today.

The honourable member described the conflict in Vietnam as a civil war. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) when in Vietnam recently said that it was not civil war. The honourable member spoke of the present war in Vietnam as if it were still the first Vietnam war. This reflected the outmoded view that pervades the thinking of Opposition members today on foreign affairs. It is time, therefore, that we recall why we are in Vietnam. In my opinion we are there to maintain our alliance with the United States. We are there to support our treaty obligations under SEATO and ANZUS. We are there because this is a strategically vital area. Finally, and this is most important - this will test whether honourable members opposite are sincere about relations with Vietnam - we are there because we genuinely believe that the Vietnamese people have a right to choose their future uncoerced by any form of terror; a type of terror that honourable members opposite do not like to mention.

The honourable member for Wilmot likes to talk about napalm bombing. It is terribly easy - it is the easiest thing of all in Australia today - not only for him but also for anybody else to walk down the streets carrying photographs of Ho Chi Minh and be anti-American because at present nothing will happen to anyone who does that, and the honourable member knows it. Those who wish to do that sort of thing can protest about America, come hell or high water, and nothing will happen to them. But let some of these protesters make some sacrifice in their dissent and there might be some weight behind what they have to say. I have just heard an interjection to the effect that I could be there if I wanted to. I went to South Vietnam, and had a look, and that is a bit more than some others are prepared to do.

The question of the genuine desire of the Australian Government to see that the Vietnamese people have the right to choose their own future is most important. Indeed, it is the most important reason why we should be there. The military aspect at present is absolutely necessary. We recognise this. Nevertheless, I have to say that military endeavours only buy time. It is what we do with the time that is bought that really counts, and this will determine the future of our nation and the world. There is no doubt in the mind of anyone who goes to Vietnam that with all the complexities, confusions and difficulties of understanding and comprehending the interwoven governmental and administrative structures, it is extremely difficult to gauge such things as success and whether one’s programmes are working out.

It may be difficult but it is not impossible to measure success. One can measure success in the military sphere by contrasting the areas that are now held and controlled with the areas that were held 2 years ago and seeing the advances that have been made in the rehabilitation of those areas. One can see the success of the Chieu Hoi or Open Arms programme. I believe that at present the number of deserters from the Vietcong ranks for this year is more than 20,000. At this time last year, it was approximately 11,500. There has been a steady doubling of the numbers who have deserted from the Vietcong ranks in the past 2 years. The total doubled from 1965 to 1966 and it will double again from 1966 to 1967. One can see the success of the pacification programmes, which are starting to take effect. The way has been long and difficult, but one can see the revolutionary development cadres at work and witness the success that they are having. Above all, there are the factors that the Opposition refuses to mention. One cai, see the success of our civil aid programmes in Vietnam, not only those conducted by our Department of External Affairs but particularly, and more movingly, those conducted by the Army. That is the sort of thing that one does not stand up on a public platform to talk about because one might get too emotional about it and be dismissed as emotional. Nevertheless, these things strike one pretty deeply as one goes through the villages south of Nui Dat and sees the work that our fellows have put in throughout those areas. So, difficult and intangible though it may be, one can see the success that is attending some of the efforts being made in South Vietnam.

I am convinced, Sir, that this Government is right in being committed in South Vietnam both militarily and in the field of economic aid, and I am glad that I have had an opportunity to state these views tonight in reply to the honourable member for Wilmot. In doing so, I would like also to mention some other matters. The honourable member spent some time alleging that the Government’s actions have been wrong. Let us, however, look at some of the activities of the Opposition in relation to our role’ in Vietnam and its approach to the elections there. Let us see whether we can draw any simple and rational line of thought as the basis of its actions and whether we can find a genuine desire to build up friendly relations in South East Asia or whether we shall have to come to the conclusion that we detect a hypocritical approach by the divided party. Let us consider the Federal Conference decision that has been talked about so much.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– It is the bible of Opposition members.


– Yes, it is their bible, as the honourable member says. 1 shall not go into the points that have been discussed in great detail over the past week. We know that the effect of the decision made by the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party was to promise to deliver an ultimatum to the United States of America and declare that if it does not subscribe to the points laid down by the Australian Labor Party a Labor Government will withdraw Australian forces from South Vietnam. Yet, in the same breath, members of the Labor Party talk about the need for a strong American alliance. How can we possibly benefit from any rights under an alliance if we do not carry out the corresponding duties? We must discharge those duties if we are to benefit from any rights flowing from any agreement. It is blatantly hypocritical for members of the Labor Party to say in one breath that they will go along with the American alliance and in the next breath to say that they will deliver an ultimatum to the Americans.

Let us then look at the second phase which shows how the Australian Labor Party approaches the question of Vietnam. We have seen that the decision by the Federal Conference is hypocritical. Let us consider what was said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) on the television programme ‘Four Corners’ on 5th August. I have a copy of the transcript of that programme and also a copy of the Melbourne ‘Age’ in which it was reported. The Leader of the Opposition is reported as having said:

Since I have become leader, I have stressed that we should strive to end this war, and since we are America’s only respectable ally, we could be very effective in bringing this about

We have all heard the Leader of the Opposition speak about his desire to establish friendly relations with South East Asia and with nations with which we now have cordial relationships. Yet he describes us as America’s only respectable ally. What about the other nations that are contributing military aid in South Vietnam - New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines? Are they lacking respect and decency? They are by implication according to what the Leader of the Opposition says. What about other Asian countries such as Malaysia and Japan? They are not supplying military aid but they are certainly giving general support both by policy statements and through assistance short of direct military contributions. Again, we see a hypocritical approach by the Australian Labor Party. Then what about the matters mentioned again by the honourable member for Wilmot, particularly the question of the firm resolution by the Labor Party regarding the university Labor Clubs? ft is very easy to pass a resolution. That is only a matter of putting up hands or saying Yea’ or ‘Ave’, depending on the . manner of voting. But honourable members opposite still associate with the individuals concerned on a personal basis, and they cannot deny that. The allegations have been made and they have not been denied. Again there is a hypocritical approach.

Honourable members opposite talk about an undeclared war and accuse us on this side of the Parliament of being hypocritical because the Government will not declare war. And this is supposed to bring about a cessation of the war in Vietnam! I have never heard anything more ridiculous. Since the Second World War, there have been 164 internationally significant outbreaks of violence without a declaration of war being made. Honourable members opposite do not take any account of the constitutional’ movements within Australia. Nor do they take account of the problems posed by international law and the problems concerning free ports that would no longer be open to our ships if we declared war. What will this technicality of declaring war do for our troops in South Vietnam? Will it make their bullets more effective? Will it provide them with shield and armour to protect them from the terrorism of the Vietcong? Of course not. And honourable members opposite know that it will not. Again, they have adopted a hypocritical approach.

They allege that they stand for freedom of action, and they associate with demonstrators who glorify the Vietcong, burn flags and draft cards and urge the world to make love not war, and thereby indulge in dissent for dissent’s sake, reworking the old adage about the right to dissent so that it becomes: ‘Any dissent becomes right*. Dissent is empty without the suggestion of practical alternatives, Sir. But none has been offered by the Opposition. Its members indulged in the cheapest luxury in Australia today - anti-Americanism. The Opposition has engaged in this tonight through the honourable member foi Wilmot. I believe that by his description of the war in Vietnam as a civil war he revealed once again that the Opposition is devoid of understanding of the situation there and of the Vietnamese people. When he and other Opposition members talk about the dubious nature of the elections in South Vietnam, they continue to judge Vietnam by Western standards. Surely they realise that that country has been involved in wars for centuries, that it has had dictatorial and conspiratorial groups in government, that they have been part and parcel of the daily life of government and there has been no liaison between the Government and the people.

Surely honourable members opposite realise that we are asking the people of Vietnam at present to do one of the most difficult things of all - to hold an election in the middle of a war in a country that probably knows more about the theory of democracy than about the practice of it. Honourable members opposite say that they are genuinely interested in the Vietnamese people. Yet they cast aspersions on the sincerity of those who are trying to conduct the elections in South Vietnam. If Opposition members were really sincere they would be doing what they could to ensure that the people of Vietnam receive all the assistance possible instead of being abused. As I have said, at this stage they probably know more about the theory of democracy than the practice of it. But they are steadily trying to adopt and put into practice the ideals that we hold to.

I am convinced that we can win this war militarily, and I am certainly convinced that the United States can do 10. But the ultimate decision in Vietnam will not rest merely on the military gains that are made; the ultimate decision, whether we like it or not, will be a political one. lt will be the decision of the people of Australia and of the people of the United States. It does not matter whether we talk about Vietnam or any other nation in South East Asia, the fact remains that the development of relations between Australia and any of those countries is going to require infinite patience and tolerance. Vietnam in particular desperately needs stability. It desperately needs leadership and it is quietly and slowly getting it. But from our point of view it needs an understanding, a patience and a tolerance which are not forthcoming from people like the honourable member for Wilmot, if one may judge from his remarks tonight.

The basic issue, as I said before, is that the people of South Vietnam should ultimately be allowed to live in relative freedom and security, to pursue prosperity in their own way. How do the members of the Opposition want them to achieve this? By allowing the South Vietnamese to be taken over by the Vietcong with their tactics of terror, assassination, ghastly brutality and kidnapping? Regrettably, it appears that this is so. 1 have given the House an outline of the aspects of this situation which cause me most concern. Rather regrettably I omitted - because the remarks of the honourable member for Wilmot made me somewhat irate - to express my sincere thanks to the Minister for the Army (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Minister for

External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) for the assistance that they gave me during my private tour through South East Asia. The help that was given me by them and all their officers, both within Australia and in the various countries I visited, was much appreciated. One would be dishonest if one claimed that after a single visit to Vietnam one becomes an expert on the situation in that country. Such a visit as I undertook tends to pose more questions rather than to provide answers. It does, however, give one an appreciation of the place which cannot be obtained without actually going there and witnessing events at first hand. But my gravest conclusion was evidently akin to that reached by the editor of the Melbourne ‘Age’, who published recently in that newspaper a series of four articles on his visit to Vietnam. He actually began with his conclusion. He said:

Let us begin with a conclusion. The gravest risks that we at present face in Vietnam is that this wai could become or may have become a paralysing bore to everyone except those being shot at.

I went a little further in my mind before I read that, and I thought of the patience and tolerance that would be needed. But boredom of course does breed impatience and intolerance, and I only hope and pray that the people of Australia will have the patience and tolerance to stick this commitment out. As I have said, it is with the people of Australia that the ultimate decision lies and rests. It is of the utmost importance that the need for Australia’s commitment be properly explained by the Government, as it has been, and that the Opposition should show a re-awakening to their role in this sphere, which is so important for the future of South East Asia and so important for the future of Australia.

What is being achieved is quite magnificent and strikes one in a remarkable way. I have already spoken briefly of the revolutionary development teams whose efforts are starting to take effect. The revolutionary development cadres were among the most impressive things that I saw in certain areas. I must say also that one of the most ghastly sights I witnessed consisted of the remains of one of the members of a cadre who had been decapitated and spliced by a member of the Vietcong. This is the kind of brutality that honourable members opposite do not wish to refer to although they hasten to put forward their views on the tragedies of alleged naplam bombing. The development cadres, however, are essential. They are probably the basic criteria of the success of the pacification programme in Vietnam, and it is pleasing that the United States now regards them as such and that they are playing such a successful role in the organisation of the permanent civil aid programme. I might mention briefly our three surgical teams at Long Xuyen, Vung Tao and Bien Hoa. They are doing a magnificent job. lt costs $650,000 per annum to keep them there. They are performing 12,000 surgical operations a year. At Bien Hoa I was informed that they are doing 600 operations a month and delivering 300 babies a month. If one reflects for a moment on the number of surgical operations and childbirths at any leading public hospital in Australia one realises the outstanding work that is being carried out by these voluntary surgical teams in Vietnam. We must pay great tribute to the tenacity and purpose of the men who are assisting the commitment in this way.

There is very little else I wished to say tonight. I was moved to speak on this subject because of the remarks of the honourable member for Wilmot. I do not retract anything that I said in opposition to him. I wish the Opposition would recognise that they are not talking about a conflict in Vietnam in any way akin to the conflict that took place before 1954. They are talking about an entirely different conflict, and until they adjust their minds to the fact and to Australia’s role in, and relationship with, South East Asia, they will be making a very dubious contribution to the formulation of foreign policy in Australia.

East Sydney

– There is no doubt that in this Budget debate the Government has attempted to divert attention from many aspects of the Budget by trying to place emphasis on foreign affairs. In doing so it is trying to mislead the people and to keep out of their minds the problems facing them in Australia at the present time. Domestic problems in this country today are of great magnitude and I intend tonight to speak about some of them because I think they are nearer to the hearts of the Australian people than other matters that have been discussed. I think that great numbers of people in Australia understand their own situation better than they will ever understand the situation in Vietnam at the present time.

We have listened to the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) telling us about the wonderful trip that he had around Vietnam and thanking the Minister for the Army (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) for all the privileges he was given and for everything that was made available to him. He told us what a wonderful job the Australians were doing in Vietnam. I do not think that we on this side of the House would offer any criticism of the people who are providing civil aid for the Vietnamese people. I. am pretty sure also that the Labor Party would support any proposal for civil aid to this or any other country in the region. But what I do object to is the manner in which Government supporters rise in this Parliament and attack members of the Opposition because we get up and speak our minds. At least we are entitled to say what we think, but honourable members on the other side, of course, have not minds of their own. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) or somebody outside the Parliament does their thinking for them. They are given their riding instructions and they come into the House and attack the Labor Party on foreign affairs in an attempt to take all attention away from the domestic scene. Any one of us who has undertaken a tour such as that which the honourable member for Kooyong has told us about knows that during such a tour we find ourselves in the hands of the professional soldiers. What is the duty of a professional soldier? If there is a bit of a conflict in any part of the world, that is where one always finds the professional soldier. And he is usually to be found at the good end of the wicket, sitting in the base camp while the kids are going out into the jungle to do the fighting. This is what is going on in Vietnam at the present time. All of the permanent soldiers are sitting around in the camp bases and the twenty-year old and twenty-one-year old kids are going out and doing their fighting for them. If honourable members look up the records they will see how many national servicemen stay in the Army permanently. Of the last 2,000 who recently came up for release we would find only about twelve who would stay in the Army. It must be a great life.

Mr Giles:

– Tell the truth.


– The honourable member should check this for himself, because this is the situation. He should talk to the kids who have come back from Vietnam. They will tell him the same. However none of the members opposite is prepared to do this. We know that the honourable member for Kooyong who preceded me in this debate went over to Vietnam as a civilian in civilian clothes. He went and came back again. If he were fair dinkum and sincere about the war he would have put a uniform on and stayed over there. I am sure that the Army would have a uniform to fit him but I doubt whether it could get a hat to fit him. Members opposite get up in this place and talk about the wonderful job that we are doing in Vietnam. However, they are not prepared to go over there themselves. We know that the Liberals at the present time are speaking on foreign affairs because it suits them. But, what about the Australian Country Party? We do not hear a word from them on foreign affairs. This is because we trade with Communist China. They are happy because we are selling wheat. Even the Meat Board wants to sell its products to Red China. Is this the sort of thing that the Liberal Party supports? Is this what honourable members opposite want? This situation has existed for some time. One section on the other side of the House is critical of trading with Red China and another section cannot sell enough to that country because the part of the community they represent is benefitting from the trade. How fair dinkum are members opposite when they get up in this place and have the hide to attack the Labor Party because of something someone wants to do in the university labor clubs. Honourable members opposite never get up in the House and criticise the selling of wheat or wool to Communist China. They might do so in the party room but how far do they get? They do not reach first base. This is the situation that exists at the present time. Members opposite talk about unity. There is terrific unity between them. I have here a Liberal Party unity ticket for the recent by-election for Corio which the Government lost. A Country Part;;’ man has said that the loss would be a blessing. This is reported in the Geelong ‘Advertiser’ of 28th July 1967. The article states:

The loss of Corio to the Government would be a blessing if it did nothing more than restrain some of the ‘rat-bag’ members of the Federal Liberal Party, New South Wales Federal Country Party member (Mr Ian Pettitt) said today.

That is what a Liberal Party member said about Country Party members.

Another instance of disunity between the Government Parties was the Bathurst byelection. Before the by-election took place the Liberal Party candidate went along to the Country Party and asked members of the Party to take him around the electorate and introduce him because he did not know many people there. The members of the Country Party agreed to do this and they took him around and introduced him. It took the Liberal Party candidate two days to realise that they had been showing him around places outside the electorate. That demonstrates the sort of unity that exists between the Liberal Party and the Country Party.

I want to get back to the domestic issues of the Budget because I feel that they are the most important aspects to my electorate. If I were to line up all the people of East Sydney who were going to benefit from the Budget I do not think I would get enough signatures from them to fill a grain of wheat to sell to Red China. The Treasurer in his television programme said that this was a budget for investors. Of course it is. However, who do honourable members think are going to benefit most out of the Budget? The Treasurer himself is going to benefit because he will be able to come into all categories where benefits occur.

As a result of the Budget there is going to be an increase in child endowment for anyone who has more than four children. We know that the Treasurer has one child at the present time. From what he said in the House the other day he has ambitions. The limit on tax deductions in respect of insurance and superannuation has been increased to $1,200. Here again we find the Treasurer, being a Minister and on to all of those perks, is going to benefit out of this. The next benefit which I want to refer to concerns benefits for people over 65 years of age who work. There is no doubt that the Treasurer will sit in this House as long as he can. If his Party is defeated he could finish up on the back benches. However, he is going to stay here as long as he can, in which case he will benefit from the age allowance. There is a great section of the community that is not going to benefit from it. They are the people I am greatly concerned about because they are the ones, in my opinion, who should have got something out of the Budget I refer, of course, to the age pensioners because I have a lot of them in my electorate. Since the Budget was introduced I have had numerous deputations from many of these people. A great many pensioners have come to me and told me of their troubles. After dealing with these people year after year one gets to know of their needs and wants. I know there are members on the Government side who consider it is below their dignity to talk to anyone when it comes to an age pension. These members would not even know how the other half existed and what was required to live a decent life. 1 do not think members of the Country Party would be worried about that. It can be seen in the Budget that Liberal Party members are not worried about it.

The majority of people in my electorate are suffering hardships as a result of this Government’s policy. In Sydney, especially in the eastern suburbs, at present the rents of many people are being increased. Many of these people are aged pensioners. Some of their rents have been doubled. In some cases they are paying half of their pensions in rent alone and they are expected to live for a fortnight on the rest of their pension. New South Wales at present has a Liberal Government. The New South Wales Housing Commission has been increasing rents. The New South Wales Government has not introduced legislation to increase rents. Instead, it is working through rent tribunals in New South Wales. I think that the rent tribunals are riding under instructions from the Government to increase rents. In effect, the Government is legislating through them. I think everyone here should be greatly concerned about these people. I am personally. I have spoken on numerous occasions in this Parliament about this matter. No-one can deny that the cost of living has not increased over the past 12 months. Recently there was a decision in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to give an increase of $1 a week to the workers of Australia. Since that increase was given there has been a further increase in the cost of living of over 5%. The pensioners do not get any concessions in purchasing food. Consequently, they are really battling. Many of these people are starving. For all the Government cares they might as well be put in an oven like Hitler did with the Jews. Most probably that is what it is leading up to. The Government is certainly leaving them to starvation and these people urgently need some help. To give some indication of what is going on, let me refer to the practices being engaged in by the retail section of the community. The journal ‘Retail World’ contains an article that states that some fruit canners have reduced the size ot their cans without telling their customers but have made no reduction in prices. The facts are that the fruit canners reduced the size of their cans from 16 oz to 15 oz without telling even the retail merchants who continued to sell them to the public at the prices which they had been charging for the 16 oz cans. It was not until the unfortunate members of the public noticed the reduction in the size of the can that they realised they were being ‘touched’ by the manufacturer who was benefiting to the extent of one can for every 15 cans of fruit, lt is significant to mention here that the fruit canners organisation happens to be one of the organisations excluded from the provisions of restrictive trade practices legislation. I do not know why it should be excluded. It would appear that once again the Country Party has put something over the Liberal Party in order that the primary producers might gain some benefit.

My reason for mentioning these things is to emphasise that a great many pensioners have not enough money. Many of them are sick and should be on special diets. Because they cannot afford these diets their health will deteriorate still further. They have not the money to buy the extra milk, eggs or other things that go to constitute a special diet that might be ordered for them by their doctors. That is what is happening under this Government which can spend millions upon millions of dollars on sending young conscripts to war but which cannot find the $50m which the Treasurer said it would cost to give a hand-out to the unfortunate pensioners.

Let me mention another example of how some of these unfortunate people are living. It is referred to in an article written by a well known journalist in New South Wales, Mr Ron Saw, who, as everybody knows, writes a special feature for the Sydney Daily Mirror’. In one of his articles he refers to an occasion when he wanted to buy fish heads to make soup. He was told by the proprietor of one fish shop that he had sold the last of his fish heads to an old chap who had just walked out of the shop and gone down the road. He suggested that the journalist might be able to catch the old chap up. The journalist did catch up with the old chap and asked whether he would sell some of the fish heads. The old man refused to sell any. When asked what he proposed to do with the fish heads, the old chap said that he was going to make some soup out of them and use them in preparing his diet. He was a pensioner 76 years of age. The journalist went along with him and found that he lived in one room for which he was paying a rental of $6 a week. The old pensioner said that his landlady gave him a cup of tea and a piece of toast for breakfast He pointed out to the journalist that all he had to exist on was SI a day. This old man was expected to feed and clothe himself on $1 a day. I think everybody who spends any money knows how far Si goes these days.

The journalist states that the old man put the fish heads in a pot with a few onions and a little salt and cooked them. After the soup was made he took out the fish heads and pulled the flesh from them. In all, he got a fistful of meat from them. When asked what he did with the flesh from these heads the old pensioner said that he mixed it with some mashed potatoe then fried the mixture to make about a dozen fish rissoles. His comment at this achievement was: ‘That is not bad for four bob.’ Out of the ‘rest of the dollar a day he paid for half a pint of milk a day and two loaves of bread a week. That was his diet for one day. But there was another day on which he enjoyed a feast. Because he dearly loved lamb, the old chap occasionally buys himself a lamb chop. Some days he buys himself 20 cents worth of cat’s meat. He had even created an imaginary cat which he called Blackie in order to hide his shame from the butcher. Honourable members opposite may laugh, but I do not think it is a laughing matter.

Mr Arthur:

– It is not true.


– It is true. If the honourable member does not believe it he can take the matter up with the writer of the article to which I have referred, who is a reliable journalist. I do not challenge his statement. The old pensioner .said to the journalist: There is nothing wrong with the cat’s meat really. It is just as good as a lot of other meat. It is a bit fatty, but it makes stew. But you can’t have people knowing you eat cat’s meat’ We should not expect people to eat cat’s meat.

Mr Cope:

– We get that in the dining room.


– I would not say that. I know of other people in the community who are eating dog’s meat. They buy a can of Pal with all the proteins and so on that it is said to contain for from 11 cents to 15 cents. A big can does them for a couple of meals. We speak of old Mother Hubbard who went to the cupboard to get her poor dog a bone. Here is a case of the poor old pensioner going to the cupboard to get a can of dog’s meat. These things are actually happening. Half the honourable members on the Government side do not know what is going on.

I mention these matters here because the only way in which we of the Opposition can do anything for our constituents is by trying to embarrass the Government. But, all we get for our trouble is a lot of heckle and jeckle from Government supporters, who are not fair dinkum. Why, they are not sincere even when they present petitions in this House. No doubt when they sit down after presenting the petitions they say: Thank God that’s over.’

Let me refer to another case. It relates to a blind woman who receives a pension for her blindness and whose husband receives an invalid pension. She has a mentally retarded daughter for whom she receives $1.50 a week from the Government. This girl has to have specially made shoes. She also has to be sent to an opportunity class, which costs $3.15 a week. This poor unfortunate woman has to bear the cost of all these things out of the miserable handout she receives from the Government. In addition to all this, she has a mentally retarded son who has suffered a mental breakdown. He has been having psychiatric treatment. He is allowed to come home at the weekend. This blind pensioner has to find the cost of his fare home and in addition bear the expense of feeding him at home over the weekend. She has to meet the cost of all these things out of the paltry $23.50 a fortnight which this Government pays to her and her husband. I think it is high time that, instead of paying university professors to conduct surveys of poverty in the country, the Government conducted a survey itself so that it would have some appreciation of the needs of these people. It then might be persuaded to do something for them. Whenever one asks a question about what the Government is doing in this direction one is referred to the survey being conducted by the university professors. That is not good enough for us or for the Australian people, and we should jack up against the Government. There is no doubt in my mind that after 1969 the people will change the Government. Members opposite are aware of this.

Mr Arthur:

– The honourable member has been saying this for years.


– I am saying it now. The honourable member is only a one night stand. I am glad if I am getting under the skins of the honourable members opposite. They have to be told the truth and die truth hurts. I know the needs of these unfortunate people in our community. I have letters, and honourable members have similar letters, telling of poverty. Unfortunately I do not have time to read them all, but if members opposite move to grant me an extension of time I will gladly read them out. I want members opposite to know the needs of the people. I raise these matters because I feel they concern just complaints and I believe they ought to be brought to the notice of the Government which should do something to relieve the financial burden it is creating for many people.

I should like to discuss several other matters, some of which may be close to members’ hearts. I refer again to civil aviation. I am opposed to the increase in air fares that the Government intends to authorise. We all object to the manner in which Government instrumentalities are used to raise taxes. The latest move to increase air fares by imposing a surcharge on air travellers is a retrograde step which the Government cannot justify. After all, there have been two increases in air fares recently - one of 5% last October and another, more recently, of 10%. Yet there is to be a further 10% increase in fares. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) claims that the reason for the proposed increase is the demand for money for civil aviation. I do not know whether there is the great demand to which the Minister refers. I know that money has to be spent on civil aviation, but the public should be provided with a service. Any air passenger would object to having to pay a 10% surcharge to use the glorified barn that serves as a terminal at the Canberra Airport. The domestic terminal in Sydney has been the cause of much animosity among members of the Liberal Party. The Treasurer himself, when addressing a meeting of the Liberal Party, said that the Sydney airport would not be neglected. Anyone who has been to the’ domestic passenger terminal is aware of the great neglect in Sydney. On a bad day mothers with children and nappy bags must move out to the aircraft carrying umbrellas. There are no adequate facilities for passengers at that airport. I cannot see why there should- be an increase in fares when the travelling public is getting nothing in return. Instead of seeking to increase taxation revenue by this means why does not the Government try to reduce fares and induce more people to travel by air? This could be done by relieving the airlines of the necessity to pay duty on aviation spirit.

I should like now to refer to an aeroplane disaster that occurred last, year at Tennant Creek. I raise this matter because repeatedly over a long period I have been critical of the Department of Civil Aviation for its neglect in checking on the maintenance requirements of aircraft flying in Australia. I refer to this particular accident because a father has expressed his concern at his son’s being killed in this disaster. To indi cate to honourable members that officials of the Department of Civil Aviation have not been carrying out the checks that they should have been doing, I refer to a letter written by a boy who was killed in the Lockheed Hudson at Tennant Creek. He wrote to his mother saying: ‘Mum, the prop has fallen off again. Will you say a prayer for us?’

I am led to believe that this was the fourth occasion on which the propeller had come off this aircraft. The boy was a former member of the Royal Australian Air Force. He had been a navigator so knew a little about flying. He told his mother that permission was going to be given by DCA to fly the aircraft from Tennant Creek to Sydney. He wrote: ‘We are supposed to go to Albury, but this is as far as they will allow us to fly’. The Department was prepared to give permission for this aircraft to be flown to Sydney when it knew full well that the plane was not sufficiently airworthy. Five people were killed when this aircraft crashed.

Mr James:

– It was a flying coffin.


– There is no doubt about that because of the number of people who were killed in the disaster. I know that since I first raised this matter in the Parliament there has been a tightening up in maintenance procedures in the airline industry.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– Might I say to the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine), who said that no member of the Australian Country Party had spoken on an external affairs matter, that at a later stage I hope to say a few words on the subject. I point out to him that last week my colleague, the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon), spoke on this topic. If the honourable member examines Hansard records he will find’ that members of my Party, in support of their colleagues in the Liberal Party, have not been backward in speaking on foreign affairs. The honourable member for East Sydney said that members of the Government spent their time attacking the -Australian Labor Party. He said that we are told what to say by the Government and that that is why we attack members of the Labor Party. I point out to him that there are urgent matters concerning the sphere of domestic activity in Australia and I will have more to say about this later. We are making progress in developing this country. Members of the coalition Government do not attack members of the Opposition in respect of external affairs because we are frightened of criticism on domestic matters. An examination of Hansard will reveal that there have been occasions when members on the Government side of the House have criticised decisions taken by the Executive. The main reason why we attack members of the Opposition on the matter of external affairs is that we are concerned lest Australia should suffer on the international scene. We are concerned for the safety and security of Australia. We do not want our land endangered. We do not want our domestic achievements to go by the board. Those of us who belong to the Government Parties say emphatically to the people of Australia that any criticism whatever which may be coming from members of the Opposition pales into insignificance when compared with the Opposition’s inability to look after the safety and security of Australia and to maintain progress in developing Australia concurrently with maintaining our role in international affairs. That is the reason why many members of this Government stress these facts in relation to international affairs. Unfortunately an attitude is developing in Australia that it is only at election time that this Government raises the matter of external affairs. I myself have been in something like seven elections in the fifteen and a half years I have been in this House, and over this period I have found that the subject of external affairs is one of the things of vital importance to the people of this country.

I refer now to some of the general matters in the Budget. In Australia we are facing a critical time as far as our economy is concerned. This country is developing at a remarkable rate, and with this development comes the problem of rising costs, which is a problem parallel with the development of any country today. The Budget reveals an increasing responsibility in the Commonwealth sphere, and this in itself emphasises the factor of the increasing costs confronting the Commonwealth. When

I first came into this House in 1952 the Budget, if I remember correctly, was for something like £1 ,000m. Today that figure has been increased to over $6,000m. There are many industries in our land that can absorb rising costs and still progress. There are other industries that find rising costs an increasing problem. These industries are mainly primary industries. I» spoke about the continuing and increasing responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. I think that there are spheres in which this Government can participate, but I have always said, and will continue to say, that if the Commonwealth takes over control of too many matters there is a danger of having a centralised control in Canberra that could be detrimental to the progress and development of Australia. In view of the Socialistic policies of the Labor Party there is a greater and ever-increasing danger, because with this centralised control a Labor government would have far greater scope for the implementation of policies that are dangerous and detrimental to the development of Australia. Whilst I believe that the Commonwealth Government can participate to a greater degree in many activities in development I think we must be careful to ensure that the major control and direction of operations shall be the responsibility of the State Governments. I hope we will never see the day when the over-control comes from Canberra.

We can see in the domestic sphere a tremendous growth in expenditure. This is understandable. We can see an expansion in international, technical and economic assistance. Such things are important to most countries, but more so to Australia because of our geographical position.

May I mention one matter regarding the Government’s association with the States. Much has been done about the water resources of Australia. Still more can and should be done. I see the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) is in the House. I congratulate him and his Department for what they have achieved in recent years in this regard. This is an important factor in Australia as we are so dependent upon water. In recent years we have experienced difficulties with drought in New South Wales and in Victoria. The Riverina area of New South Wales is experiencing that problem now. This is one of the problems confronting our country and I think more Commonwealth participation should be evidenced in relation to it.

We also have the problem of flood mitigation, particularly in the coastal areas where many, many times we see a great volume of water literally rushing out to sea and being wasted. We know the damage floods can cause. Flood mitigation should be related to conservation of our water resources I believe this is a sphere of activity in which the Commonwealth should have greater participation.

I spoke earlier of increasing costs. Unfortunately there are some sections of our community where this increased cost is not a great burden because the people in those sections can increase charges. A great deal has been spoken in this debate about pensions. One must always appreciate that here is a peculiar problem affecting a particular section of the community. I still feel, and I have said this on quite a number of occasions, that perhaps it would be of greater advantage to sectionalise pensions. We have taken steps towards this in particular circumstances, such as financial assistance where a pensioner is paying rent. This is a step in the right direction, but I think we should have a further review of this matter and see what can be done to give financial assistance where it will be most beneficial. A blanket increase in the pension does not necessarily answer the problem.

We have spoken about problems that confront local governments and the task they have ahead of them in running the services and amenities in their areas. I feel that one way we can help is to concentrate to a greater degree upon the holding of costs. I know that that is easy to say and that the problem is difficult and complex, but I do feel that we should give greater attention to it.

I want to say a few words about the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I am most disappointed with some of the programmes that have been featured on the ABC. I read with a great deal of regret - and I say this quite sincerely - a statement in the Press today by the new Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. 1 feel that in many instances the Australian

Broadcasting Commission has a particular and a peculiar responsibility and should therefore set a standard far higher than the commercial organisations. By that I do not mean to imply that the commercial radio and television stations are not setting a standard, but I think the ABC has a certain responsibility and should be extremely careful to see that it sets a high standard and maintains it. I believe that in some of its political broadcasts the ABC has not given a fair picture of both sides, and I would say there have been times when there has been literally a danger of misrepresentation.

I now wish to refer to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. I should not think anyone is happy about an increase in prices or charges, particularly when one has an appreciation of the vital role the telephone plays in country areas, where it is the main means of communication. In the country areas, too, the posting of letters and articles is a vital part of life, as it is in metropolitan areas, although in a different way. In many instances, the telephone is the only means of communication that these people have for miles around. I hope that the increase in charges will enable the installation of new telephones and trunk lines to be greatly accelerated. A great deal has been done and is being done by the Postmaster-General’s Department in this regard. But a great deal more could be done. I hope that the provision of additional finance will enable greater progress to be made. I know that one of the problems is to find skilled labour to undertake the work. I have spoken to many of the engineers regarding this matter, and I hope that with mechanisation and modern methods, these problems will be overcome.

May I say something now about trade. One of the problems in a developing country is increasing costs that aggravate the difficulties of some industries compared with others. Some of the industries so -affected are the primary industries of this land. I have said in this House before - and I think that any person who has given any thought to the progress and development of this land appreciates this point - that there must be Australian secondary industries. We must do everything that we can to assist the secondary industry sector. 1 have said always that I have no objection to the imposition of tariffs on imported articles so that we may sustain secondary industries in our country. But I think that we must look at this matter with extreme caution. We must not sustain an uneconomic industry. We must assist industries that are economic and also assist industries to become economic. This takes me to a wider sphere regarding the matter of trade.

I feel that, among the many problems that confront us in this world, there must be a greater appreciation in the sphere of international trade of the need for assistance to be given by the major industrial nations. My leader, the Minister for Trade and Industry, the right honourable John McEwen, has said that the United States of America and the United Kingdom must realise that they must give more than economic assistance to other nations. They must give assistance not only in the economic sphere but also to production and development in other nations. This is one of the major needs. Not only mere handouts should be given to these countries. They should be given the opportunity also to produce things themselves and to stabilise their own economies.

All of these things are of vital importance. To give some of these smaller countries their independence has been the great achievement by Great Britain over many years. That these countries have taken their place in the world shows that what the United Kingdom has done in many instances has been to train them to do so. But what will happen unless these countries have economic stability? There will be difficulties, complexities and troubles. But economic stability is not all that is required. Political stability is needed also. This is one of the things that we have been stressing in respect of many countries. It is one of the basic factors that we have been mentioning in relation to Vietnam. I would ask those people, who say without having given any consideration and any thought to the matter that we have not done this or that and ask why we do not give certain countries their independence or stop interfering with certain countries, to have a look at Nigeria which, I suppose, is the country used most frequently to illustrate this point. We hoped that Nigeria would be able to lead, and set an example to, the rest of the African Continent. Yet, because of tribal jealousies and economic factors there is now a bloody revolution in progress in Nigeria. The economic factor became a serious consideration, because Eastern Nigeria had the financial ability. A dispute occurred and, unfortunately, it has led the people into revolution. What has happened in Nigeria is surely a lesson to the woolly headed thinkers who come out with many phrases and words without any real thought of the significance behind them. To my mind, this applies also to the situation in which we find ourselves in Vietnam.

The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), in the speech that he made on international affairs last Thursday, said:

Australia is a member of the Asian and Pacific Council - ASPAC - which was largely promoted by South Korea and included Taiwan. Its ideological stance and composition do not inspire great confidence. Its virtue, of course, is that is an association of which Australia is a member.

The Leader of the Opposition went on to ridicule some of these bodies. The honourable member for Wilmot made exactly the same mistake in the speech that he made in the House tonight. He said that the only countries which were supporting Australia in this war were countries that were of no value to Australia.

I had the privilege of attending a conference in September of last year and a council meeting in March of this year of the Asian Parliamentarians Union. At that conference and council meeting were members from Japan, Thailand, Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and mainland China. Indonesia was an observer and the member countries that were not present were India, Ceylon and Pakistan. I think that we can do a great deal in regard to Indonesia. If I may say so, this matter rather worries me to a degree because, for once, I agree with the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). I must confess that I wonder, therefore, whether I am right. But I think that we must assist Indonesia. It is one of the countries in which we can make a tremendous contribution.

But let me follow the matter through. The honourable member for Wilmot asked: Why has not China taken over?’ The honourable member answered his own question when he said that China had suffered a setback in Indonesia. This was one of the major events in this area that gave us a sign of hope. One of the contributing factors to the setback that China suffered in Indonesia was our action in Vietnam. Our action in Vietnam gave the Indonesians courage, faith and the belief that there were people who believed in them.

Let us face the situation as we see it today. People are fighting in Vietnam for their lives. The Australian Labor Party has dissociated itself from the action that has been taken by the Labor Club at Monash University. I would not for one moment accuse the Labor Party of being behind this move in any way. But let me say, Sir, in all sincerity, that the Australian Labor Party must accept some share of the responsibility for the action that has been taken by the Labor Club at Monash University and by some other people in Australia because of some of the things that it has said relating to the problem of Vietnam, the situation of the Vietcong and the position in that country generally. The Australian Labor Party has said literally that the Vietcong are people who are more sinned against than sinning. It is because of these remarks that these things have taken place.

The honourable member for Wilmot also said that Robert Kennedy was opposed to what was happening in Vietnam and was critical of the Government in South Vietnam. 1 point out to the House that the same Robert Kennedy went to South Africa and said that the South Africans did not know how to run their own country. I ask honourable members to look at the situation in the United States of America at the present time and ask Robert Kennedy whether he is doing a good job there. I have all the sympathy in the world for the United States because of the present situation in which it finds itself. But there are people who glibly make statements with no thought for the complexity of the problems that confront countries such as Vietnam. That is why I say in this regard that we need to be extremely careful when we criticise in this regard. This does not mean that we should not criticise. We can be critical, but let us be critical in a constructive manner and let us face reality. Those who oppose the Government’s policy in Vietnam have consistently claimed literally that the Government is not concerned with peace. How many times have President Johnson and the Australian Government said that they are prepared to talk peace and to see what can be arranged to have peace, but that they are not prepared to engage in talks that give away everything for which men have given their lives?

Let me refer to the bombing of North Vietnam. As I have said on another occasion in the House, I spoke to a high ranking Royal Australian Air Force officer who served in Korea. He said that when flying in Korea the Chinese would come up over the other side of the Yalu River, gain height, come down and shoot up the United Nations aircraft, then fly back over the Yalu and the United Nations aircraft could not take action against them. The moment the Chinese decide to come to war they will come to war notwithstanding what we do.

President de Gaulle has made many statements about the United States and other things. I think the United Kingdom is doing the wrong thing for itself in seeking to enter the Common Market, but we may remind General de Gaulle that had it not been for some of the countries of which he has been over critical, he may not be here today. In saying that I acknowledge all that the Free French and the French partisans did during the Second World War. but General de Gaulle wants to remember what the fighting forces of other countries did towards the liberation of France. Let him remember also that many of the things he is saying today and the points he is emphasising are the very things that created the situation that brought about the two World Wars in Europe. In the closing stages of his life let him not say anything that might be responsible for such a situation occurring again.

We are in Vietnam with all the complexities that go with being there, including the bombing of the North. During the forty-eight hours lull in the bombing equipment was brought up by the Vietcong sufficient to overcome what had been lost by its forces over a period of three months. If we cease to bomb strategic places we endanger further the safety and security of our men who are fighting for freedom in that land. The critics say that the bombing of North Vietnam will cause China to come to war. I have said that when China is ready it will move. It will not be deterred in any way unless it is because it realises that the forces that oppose it are stronger. What are some of the headlines in this afternoon’s newspapers? They include such headlines as ‘Red Guards Raze UK Embassy’, ‘Peking Mobs Burn Legation’ and ‘Reds Turn on Britain’. I ask honourable members and the people of Australia to realise that for many years past the United Kingdom has bent over backwards to placate the Chinese. Has it been successful? Have kind words and friendly actions been successful?

Today the safety and security of Australia depends on the courage and tenacity of its people, as it did in the country’s early days when we were progressing and developing. The heritage we enjoy today is a heritage we will hand on to those who follow us only if we show some courage, tenacity and devotion towards the duty of making this land progress. This does not mean that we want war. Those of us who have had any experience of war hate war, but in the twentieth century, in the dangers that face this land, we need a courage and tenacity of purpose. This Liberal-Country Party coalition Government shows this courage and tenacity of purpose and I hope that the nation will continue to show it in the months that lie ahead.


– The only courage and resolution that this Government is showing is the courage to get on with business as usual while it sacrifices a handful of young men in Vietnam for its mischievous foreign policy. I cannot express in words sufficiently strong the contempt that I feel for people who call up other folk to go to wars to which they themselves are qualified to go. The conscription of young men to fight in Vietnam is one of the most disgraceful episodes of Australia’s history. The Government has turned the young men of Australia into functions of its own conscience. There are men opposite who clap and cheer when the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) indulges in McCarthyism and every other piece of gutter tactics of which he is capable and which are a disgrace to his high office. If those men had the courage and tenacity of purpose of which they talk they would join the Army and go. There are men of little more than 20 years of age busy calling up other people of 20 years of age to go and fight their wars. They stand in this place and talk about conscience. I know that whether you go or do not go to war is often not a matter of your own choice, as was the case with many people during the last war. For people to consciously and continuously describe this war in Vietnam as our battle, and at the same time to get on with business as usual - spear fishing as usual - is a national disgrace. If the Government was sincere about this war in Vietnam it would mobilise all the resources of Australia and get on with the job. It would put one million men into Vietnam. It would stop all this nonsense about so-called national development. It would stop doing things to sponsor industry and would get on with the job and finish it off. But the Government does not do that, lt is business as usual for this Government, with 4,500 young mcn - mere boys - being sacrificed in Vietnam. I could say a lot of nasty things about honourable members opposite and I have nearly reached the stage when I will start to make attacks on them in their own electorates. In this instance I have no respect for them whatever, although in many other ways I respect and like them. For some reason the conscience of Australia seems to have seeped away over this business of Vietnam.

I commence my speech with those remarks because the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) finished his speech with such glowing comments about the Government. There are many other things I could say on this subject, and I will do so directly. The honourable member for Lyne referred to Indonesia. The methods by which we become friendly and convivial, you might say, with the people of Indonesia represent one of the great challenges of our time. 1 am surprised to hear anybody claim that Australia’s commitment in Vietnam steeled the resolution of the Indonesians to deal with their own problems. When some of us asked the Indonesians about this matter while we were in their country a few weeks ago they regarded our questions as insulting. Firstly, none of us would want to steel the resolution of people to the great massacres that took place in Indonesia. The Indonesians have had four lots of internal trouble- two right wing revolutions and two left wing revolutions - and they have managed to control all of them. Their attitude to Vietnam is: If we were able to control our own affairs in this way, why are not the South Vietnamese?

I make those initial remarks on what purports to be a budget of the Australian Parliament. What is a budget? In this country a budget is a social, economic and developmental document. It has become traditional to regard it as these things and to wait eagerly for the first few weeks in August to see what the Government plans in the year ahead. In this instance it does not plan much of anything for anybody. This is completely a do-nothing budget. What does it not do? It does not do anything for the Aboriginals. It does not do anything effective for education. It does not do anything effective in the social services system, which, in one of the wealthiest countries, is not the best social services system. It is not difficult to look at countries such as Sweden, Britain, America, Canada and New Zealand and find plenty of examples of bow our social services system lags.

I would like to raise my voice in protest at the continual bleating that Australia needs to get on with its developmental tasks; that it cannot help here and cannot do this or that It is true that we must continue with our developmental tasks, but this is already a highly developed nation. Only four or five nations have anything like our standard of living. Only nine or ten nations have anything like our industrial capacity. It is nonsense for us to be whingeing around the world and crying poverty. There is nothing within the limits of our reasonable aspirations which we could not do given the necessary will and wit on the Government benches.

There are some things this Budget does do. It gives income tax concessions to the people who need them least. Reference has already been made to the increase in the amount allowable as a deduction for life assurance premiums and superannuation contributions.

One might say that this is a Sukarno budget: If one has four wives, one does not do too badly. This is also an indirect taxation budget in which a number of areas of indirect taxation arise. Post Office financing is one. I do not believe that any mature society - any people with a proper concept of economics - can support indirect taxation of this sort. Australia is a pretty mature nation. Most Australians, given a challenge, will accept it. This Government, however, does not believe that people will face up to their responsibilities in this way. So it conceals taxation by adopting indirect taxes. I believe also that there is a strategic folly in our defence concepts. This is highlighted by recent developments in this Government’s handling of defence matters, which indicate that it lacks a proper appreciation of what is really happening, both historically and strategically, in this part of the world.

Then there is another point that stems from my opening remarks: What do Government supporters do? I would like to place on record the fact that they are indulging in the continual development of an atmosphere of McCarthyism. This is a disgrace to the Parliament We saw the performance given this afternoon by the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate). He is not a bad fellow in his own way, though his contributions to the debates in this place are not notable for imaginative thought. He spent most of his time, as did the Prime Minister in the foreign affairs debate the other night, vilifying the Australian Labor Party and presuming that its members are the tools and stooges of the Communist Party of Australia - the microscopic Communist Party of Australia - and that we dredge our policies from the books of the Communist Party. I suppose that there is not much that one can do about that sort of attack except place on record the contempt that one feels for a Prime Minister of this country who demeans bis high office in this fashion. If honourable members opposite cannot do better than that, they ought to sit quietly.

This sort of thing, however, has been the continuing theme of Government supporters. It has been their theme in every election that they have fought for nearly the last twenty years. It is my belief, based on observation, that Australia is probably the only country outside the United States of America that remains a stronghold of McCarthyism of this kind. This country is one of the last places in which this sort of atmosphere is built up to demean and besmirch the Opposition. This kind of activity only lowers the prestige of Australian politics. We recall that back in 1949 the Australian Country Party and the Menzies-Fadden combination used every tactic they could think of in an election campaign in an effort to besmirch the Labor Party. One Country Party political advertisement pictured Stalin and Chifley together smoking their pipes, showing two pipes with but a single wisp of smoke. ‘Whether we speak of Socialism or Joecialisation, it is the same thing in the long run. All Communists begin as Socialists; the rest follows.’ This was the theme of the Country Party twenty years ago, and it has not improved much. This sort of thing is a disgrace to Australian politics. If it is the sort of thing that brings honourable members opposite into this Parliament, it is not of much credit to them.

Let me turn now to some of the fields that the Government has seriously neglected in this Budget. I shall deal first with the needs of the Aboriginal people. In May, 93% of the voters in Victoria and 89% of the voters throughout Australia voted in support of action on the Aboriginal question. This was a popular demand for action in the field of greatest social neglect in this country - the needs of the Aboriginal people of Australia. Our Aboriginals are perhaps the most neglected Aboriginal group in the whole world. There are others who perhaps live in worse conditions, but relative to the rest of the community in which they live their standards are not so low as are those of the Australian Aboriginals compared to other Australians, with particular reference to housing, education facilities, land development and the other factors that go to make up a social group. I believe that in this Budget the neglect of the Aboriginals is enough to warrant its rejection by the House. Indeed, the Budget represents a slap in the face for the people of Australia, who have demanded by the normal democratic process that this Government do something better than it is doing for our Aboriginals.

The average voter at the time of the referendum in May may not have known very much about the Aboriginal question and probably had the idea, based on a good Australian tradition, that the Aboriginal people of this country had not had a fair go. Most voters probably had vague ideas that the Aboriginals had not full citizenship rights and might not be able to vote. Doubtless some voters were misinformed on many matters, but most were directed by their consciences and sense of social justice to take the view that something ought to be done to better the lot of the Aboriginal people. This country’s Budget runs into thousands of millions of dollars and we are wealthy beyond the dreams of the people of most other countries. In this situation, at the present time the needs of the 100,000 or so Aboriginal people in Australia demand better than the few words that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon), offered them in his Budget Speech. In practical terms, they were offered not even a roof for one house. I would say from my own observation that the most immediate and most urgent need of the Aboriginal people is housing. This is the most visible need and it is probably the one that we are best able to satisfy from the resources at present available to the Ministry.

Failing action initiated by the Government, I, like the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), would like to see a select committee of this Parliament appointed to go into the matter and examine the situation of our Aboriginals. We have to get the whole Parliament and the whole of our governmental structure committed to this objective. Therefore, I hope that the House will give immediate and earnest attention to the needs of Australia’s Aboriginals. As I have said, housing is probably the most important factor. There are literally thousands of families throughout Australia living in conditions that are a disgrace to this nation - conditions out of which they cannot hope to lift themselves and conditions in which it is difficult for the organisations helping them to give assistance. Many of these people cannot even fill in a form to apply for housing assistance. I know men who served in the forces during the war who are qualified to receive assistance under the provisions of the War Service Homes Act, but because they cannot raise the required deposit or have not enough financial stability, they are unable to take advantage of the provisions of the Act, This sort of thing must be stopped forthwith. It is not too late, even at this stage, to make some special financial provision for the Aboriginal people. I would have thought that in a House and a Parliament such as this, on an issue like this most of us would be in complete agreement and that the Government could be cajoled, driven, persuaded or whatever else one has to do to it to get it to take action immediately for the benefit of the Aboriginals.

I go on now to questions of defence and foreign Polciy. I believe that our defence concepts are based on a false view of the situation. I believe that the men whom we have committed to Vietnam are not there to terrify the Chinese or to stimulate the Indonesians. They are not there to protect Australia now. They are merely part of the premium that this Government has chosen to pay on an insurance policy against events at some time in the future when our American allies will come to our aid and save us from I know not what. This commitment in Vietnam, I think, is an act of some immorality. I do not believe that it can be justified in any way, for it is based on a false strategic concept. I think it is based on the thin red line concept of trench warfare in the First World War and that the idea is that somewhere along the line Australia will dob in a division, two divisions or a corps, with somebody else running the war. I believe that this concept is based on a false view of what Australia’s needs are.

The Australian Labor Party is quite firm about defence. It has always been Australia’s defence party. About 1910, the Labor Party introduced national service training, or universal military service, as it was known in those days. It founded the Royal Australian Naval College and the Royal Military College, acquired a fleet and mobilised our resources in both the world wars. It was the Labor Government after the Second World War that created the Australian Regular Army and built up the air arm and various other services that make up our present defence system. The Labor Party has always been Australia’s defence party. We have always believed in Australia’s self reliance and our capacity to do something for ourselves perhaps more than members of the present Government parties and many others in the Australian community have done. The foreign policy and defence policy of this Government in recent years have created a national inferiority complex and have led the people to believe that Australia is defenceless - that we are just a small group of people cowering in the south eastern corner of the continent waiting for somebody to save us. I believe that there is no basis whatever in strategic tactics or anything else for this belief. Yet this is the driving force, the dynamic of the Government’s policy or lack of it Let me assert, first of all, that this country is defendable. It is defendable, and I would say - and this is agreed to by most of the authorities I have consulted and read, and various people and various Ministers have said so on numerous occasions and in different places - Australia is unassailable in the foreseeable future. There is no power in Asia with the kind of shipping and logistic support which would be necessary to put ashore in Australia the forces required to defeat Australia mobilised, even Australia mobilised at its present strength.

We have reached the stage at which we overrate the capacity of other people and underrate our own capacity. We have a mobilisation capacity of a million and a half. We have one of the world’s largest industrial capacities. I think we have the ninth largest automotive industry in the world. Of the 120 nations of the United Nations we turn out more motor vehicles than 111. We are thirteenth or fourteenth among the countries of the world in steel production. We are the most powerful nation in South East Asia. Yet we talk all the time as if we counted for nought. This, I believe is the tragedy of our defence policy and our foreign policy. We have written ourselves out of the history of this part of the world and we have abdicated our proper duty in this part of the world.

I want to see, and the Labor Party wants to see, a defence system based upon extreme mobility of the Australian forces. Our men in Vietnam are probably the best in the business. I do not think I am being unduly patriotic or in any way Chauvinistic in saying so. It is generally conceded that their training in jungle warfare has made them second to none in this kind, of combat. But they are fighting on their feet in the jungles. Despite the fact that there are eleven or twelve million of us, Australians should not be fighting on their feet. I am not suggesting that we should suddenly send off our tanks and the like to the jungles; what I am saying is that our men ought not to fight in the jungle. It is a piece of folly to commit limited manpower to the jungle. If you have a great technology and industrial skill and administrative support what you should do is mobilise all that to support the soldier in the field. But the essence of jungle warfare is man to man fighting. There is not much more one can say about it.

We could bring in all the helicopters we like, fly in the napalm and so on, but the fact would remain that down in the jungle the fighting would still be man to man. In this kind of conflict it is the man’s skill that counts. If there are 100 men on the other side we will need 100 to deal with them, or more. But if we concentrate on the other aspects of warfare and our defence system we will mobilise our mechanics, our machines, our technology. We will mechanise our people. They will not walk, they will not use the Army boot that has been used for centuries; they will use tanks and mechanised equipment. We have, I believe, committed ourselves to Vietnam - even if no moral or any other kind of overtones are involved - to the sort of warfare to which Australia should not commit itself. It is not a question of our men being most skilled at it, it is a question of the relative value of Australian lives and what our men are there for. We have to build a selfreliant defence system. Whether we buy this kind of equipment or that is a question that will always be in dispute. I personally think that the decision to buy the Fill bombers, or whatever they are called when they are finally delivered, was probaly a false strategic concept.

Let us assume that these dreadful enemies of ours to the north, who can be named or nameless, decide now to mobilise. By the time they get their steel industry going five, six or seven years will have passed, and by the time they get their ships built a similar period will have elapsed. I suppose that if China decided to follow up the raids on the British Embassy in Peking by an assault on Australia it would be fifteen or twenty years before it could mobilise itself to do. Are these aircraft for which we are paying such fabulous sums going to be the items of equipment that will prevail at that time? Will twentyfour of them prevail, or three destroyers?

What I am saying to the honourable member for Robertson (Mr BridgesMaxwell), who is trying to interject, is this: I admit that on many subjects he does apply a good deal of common sense to the problems of the nation, but I say to him that we are not looking at this matter from a proper, common sense standpoint. We have adopted other people’s strategy. Australia with its three million square miles of county set in six or seven million square miles of water, with its closest foreign base at least 200 miles away and the one from which one would logically expect an enemy to assault this country 3,000 or 4,000 miles away, has a completely different strategic need from that of Americans or Europeans from whom we have derived our strategy.

There is no evidence that I can see of what I would call an Australian strategic theory. There is no evidence that I can see of Australian thinking to produce Australian equipment for Australian needs. It would seem to me that in the matter of armour, for instance, our automotive industry ought to be turning our whatever we require. It seems to me that in the matter of aircraft it is absolutely essential that we develop our aircraft industry.

Mr Bridges-Maxwell:

– What about the Mirage?


– We did not develop the Mirage. I suppose our production of that aircraft is a credit to Australian industry, but let us look at the background. One of the most important needs is to develop the technical skills and intellectual capacity to produce these items of equipment. One of the challenges to the scientific designer is the capacity to develop and keep developing. If we are always buying things off the hook, if our intellectual capacity is devoted not to designing from the drawing board up but to the modification of other people’s ideas, then we will not gain the kind of intellectual bonus that is available to us.

This is my principal criticism of the purchase of overseas equipment. I do not foresee that in the immediate future we will need this equipment, and I believe that most people would agree with me. But we must have it because young Australians must have the best that the wit and will of the world can supply them with in order to defend this country or to fight wherever they may be fighting. But behind all this is the fact that unless we develop selfreliance in our scientific, technical and intellectual resources and our application of them we will, in the moment of crisis, be sold down the river. We must develop selfreliance not only in the attitude of mind of the Australian people but also in the industrial, technical and scientific concept behind our defence. If we do not do so we will be selling out our heritage.

The pathetic aspect of all this, to my mind, is the way in which my colleagues in this House and people outside the House continually decry Australia’s capacity to do things. They say: ‘We cannot do this, we will have to get somebody else to do that.’ Dear Harold, do not take your troops home.’ We see all kinds of miserable, sycophantic attitudes adopted because people have no faith in the nation, or no faith in themselves - and that may be justifiable enough. Many Australians are relying absolutely on other people’s views, on other people’s equipment and on other people’s strategy. Their whole approach is based upon a false analysis of this region. I found this document in my archives the other day, a product of the Liberal Party for use in the last election campaign: ‘It is your choice. Where do you draw the line against aggression? Then there are red arrows flowing down from China through Laos, Vietnam and other places in which, as far as one can determine at the moment, there are no Chinese. Of course, as I am reminded, China is the country to which we are selling wheat, the country from which the Country Party’s bounties flow.

We have chosen the people of North Vietnam to be sacrificed. We could bomb North Vietnam off the map. We could use every hydrogen bomb in our ally’s armoury and destroy the whole 60,000 square miles and 14 or 15 million people, and the war would still go on. The translation of the problems of South Vietnam into a battle between it and North Vietnam is a piece of nonsense. It is based on strategic folly on the part of everybody concerned. No solution have I seen. I do not know what it is. But I have seen no evidence of even any deep thinking about the problem of supplying South Vietnam with a viable - if that is the correct term - government.

What do we do about Saigon? I think that clearly we must find some way of stabilising Saigon and the other areas that are held. But we will not do this by military action. This is a false concept that flows from the past. It is associated with a false view of China. Of course China is a trouble to its neighbours, to itself and to everybody else. China is supposed to be a great monolithic tyrant where everybody slopes arms and moves off sharply, but this is by no means so. It it pretty obvious from any analysis of the position in China that a great deal of the civil and central administration has collapsed, that China has great internal problems. There is no evidence that China could assault anybody in the near future with any great effect, but there is every evidence that if we get too close to the borders of China - and this is borne out by our experience with Korea - we are inviting real trouble with the people of China. The latest operations of the American forces in which they have been actually shot down over China I think are matters of great mischief. No matter what honourable members think about the war in Vietnam - and I know that they all toe the party line as duty bound and not having ideas of their own - if they do not try to stop this they are flying in the face of their duty to the whole of humanity. Most of the policy of honourable members opposite is based on humbug and hypocrisy. Members opposite have no standards of their own. They have a double standard. I will give some examples. Members of the Government talk about the free world and honouring agreements and so on.

Mr Turnbull:

– Why be insulting?


– The honourable member is a great freedom fighter. For ten years the Israelis had reason to believe that they had been guaranteed access to the Suez Canal as a result of a decision of the United Nations ten years ago in which we concurred, the Russians concurred, the Americans concurred and the British concurred. However, not one of the members opposite have raised their voice or finger to guarantee Israeli access to the canal. Government supporters have no principles whatsoever. If it was votes or oil they would be concerned. Government supporters have double standards. They will not apply to international affairs the common morality they apply to national affairs. There might be a lot of disputes about who started what in this last fracas in the Middle East. However, the facts are that ten years ago Israel Was guaranteed by a majority of nations of the United Nations including those famous freedom fighters to whom we are now bound, access to the Suez Canal. Not one member opposite has raised a finger about it. As far as I can determine this Government did not do anything. As far as I know Qantas, the Australian Airline never landed in Israel because this might have offended the Arabs. Honourable members opposite have wonderful freedom fighting friends.

In Thailand for instance this country did not do anything when the International Court of Justice awarded Cambodia a piece of their territory. The Government of Greece consists of a wonderful military junta. This must be dear to the hearts of the militarists opposite. Members opposite probably support the view that the Israelis ought to go home. Perhaps they should. I think 1 might vote that way myself. But when is the Government going to tell the Americans to get out of Ryukus? They are still there and the Japanese do not want them there. When is the Government going to tell the Russians to get out of the Kuriles and the Indians to get out of Goa? Of course the Government will not do this. It has got to be someone small and democratic before they kick them around with their high and mighty attitudes. I would like to see these high and mighty attitudes as an extension of Australian foreign policy. I would like to see Australia develop its foreign policy attitudes by herself. I think the way we handled the general demand in Nauru for independence is a credit to Australia. Around the world we have the Formosans demanding China and Mongolia and Tibet. We have the Chinese demanding Formosa. We have Indonesia wanting West Irian. At least, in our own operations - 1 hope this does not reflect too much credit on the Government - with the people of Nauru and Papua and New Guinea it seems that we do set standards for the rest of the world. Why do we tolerate different standards from other people?

Why do we abdicate our duty in relation to diplomatic initiative in the world? Why do not we stand up as a free and independent nation? Why do not we insist that the Americans operate, if they are going to operate in a war in which we are involved, upon terms with which we can concur. What is wrong in demanding that the National Liberation Front -who are principals in battles in South Vietnam should be involved in negotiations? Why do not we insist these things be done? That is the way we operate in our own affairs. That is the general tradition in which Australians persist. The Labor Party says that we should lay down the lines on which we shall participate in wars. As far as I am concerned - I think I would be supported by most thinking Australians - no Australians should be committed to other peoples’ wars on other peoples’ terms. From our history it can be seen that there is only one way for Australians to fight - in wars in which they have a good say themselves and control their own commanders.

As far as most of us are concerned the bombing of Vietnam is an act of unlimited barbarism. The nonsense of refusing to negotiate with the principals in battle whether you like them or not means more humbug, more hypocrisy and no demands for peace. I hope that honourable members opposite will take a good sharp look at their own consciences next time they have to take the marbles out of the barrel. I said at the beginning of my speech, and I say now that I believe the sacrifice of this small group of young Australians to salve the consciences of the rest of members opposite is a national disgrace.


– This Budget debate seems to be an extension of the recently concluded debate on foreign affairs. I wish to plead guilty at once of proposing to follow the pattern that has been set by other speakers tonight. To follow the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) is always a somewhat diverting experience. If I may say so, without being rude to him - we get on well outside the chamber - to hear a speech from the honourable gentleman is like listening to air escaping from a punctured bag of wind. We heard the hiss, the cough and the explosion. I listened tonight for one constructive or even coherent thought to issue from the mouth of the honourable gentleman. However, this was a vain and rather long wait. Insofar as he said anything at alt he said such things as there is no evidence of an Australian strategic theory worked out by this Government. He poured the usual heap of scorn we are so used to hearing on the other side of the House upon the activities, or what he chose to call the ‘viability’ of the South Vietnamese government. He described the bombing of North Vietnam as a piece of unmitigated barbarism. To deal with the last point first, I take it that the honourable member has always felt that way. The honourable member nods in acquiescence. I am glad he does this.

I would like to refer to the recent history of the Australian Labor Party. Perhaps I should call it the recent agonies of the Australian Labor Party. I remind the honourable gentleman that if he thinks and has always thought that the bombing of North Vietnam was a piece of unmitigated barbarism, he is out of step with the official leadership of his own party in the light of what they said two years ago when the bombing of North Vietnam started. The House will remember that in February 1965 the parliamentary executive of the Australian Labor Party met just after the United States had reported to the Security Council that it had commenced to bomb North Vietnam, explaining the reasons. The parliamentary executive of the honourable member’s Party in February 1965 said that the statement of American purposes in bombing North Vietnam as announced to the Security Council of the United Nations was unexceptionable and that the case for the American action of recent days, based on the aim of shortening the war and achieving a negotiated settlement which would establish and maintain the rights of the South Vietnam people deserved sympathetic Australian understanding.

How does the honourable member square the statement made by his leaders, whom he presumably follows in his own peculiar way, with what he has said in the House tonight - that he has always thought that the bombing of North Vietnam was an act of unmitigated barbarism? Apparently the honourable member thinks - and I do not blame him but I would have other reasons for forming this view - that his parliamentary leaders are unmitigated bar barians. Before I come to the main theme of my speech I want to deal with a statement made by the honourable member for Wills in his just concluded speech. He said that there is no possible solution to the problem of South Vietnam and there is no prospect of a viable government in that country. I understand that to have been the sentiment expressed by the honourable gentleman in one part of his speech. He always delights me. He comes in and confirms what I say. This is a most extraordinary attitude, but it is typical of the sort of thing we hear from the other side of the House. Honourable members opposite are always prepared to criticise the South Vietnamese Government. They are always prepared to criticise the Thais, the South Koreans and the Americans because they are our allies. They do not like allies. They do not want allies. They do everything, so it seems to me, to make contracting and maintaining an alliance an almost impossible task, lt would be an impossible task in any event if ever the Opposition came to the Treasury bench.

It savours almost of the ridiculous for the honourable member for Wills to say at this hour that there is no prospect of a viable government in South Vietnam. He and all those who think like him seem to overlook the fact that in a country that is torn by war there is about to be held a presidential election in which, if experience is any guide, the vast majority of the South Vietnamese population will vote. He overlooks the fact, as I believe all honourable members opposite overlook it, that not only is there going to be a presidential election in early September, but in the third week of October - I think the precise date is 22nd October - there will be an election for the lower house of a constituent assembly. All of this is being carried out in a country that is torn by war, by externally mounted aggression. It is an achievement which in the United Kingdom, in the Second World War, could not be paralleled because, as the House will remember, the last election in the United Kingdom prior to the outbreak of the Second World War was 1935. They did not have another election there until the war was nearly over in 1945.

The honourable member for Wills, with the blindness that is endemic in his Party, overlooks all the great efforts - admittedly there are failures and setbacks from time to lime - that are being made by these people, who are being subjected to aggression, to establish, with the help of their allies, viable democratic institutions.

Mr Curtin:

– Do not be so naive.


– The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith accuses me of naivety. 1 think that even he, making all due allowances for him, should know that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. And the glass around his Party is very thin indeed. I do not think the honourable member knows anything about Vietnam. I do not think he has even begun to understand anything about Vietnam. I do not know whether he has ever been there. I do not think he has.

Mr Curtin:

– Do not be unkind.


– I can never be too unkind for too long. Let me come to something else that seemed to thread its way insistently through the speech of the honourable member for Wills. It is what 1 describe as a Pharisaical attitude towards our friends, and our allies in South East Asia. He scoffs at the South Vietnamese and says that they are hopeless, that you cannot expect them to establish a viable government. He laughs the Thais and the South Koreans to scorn. At the same time, we hear nothing from him by way of criticism of or complaint about the activities of the North Vietnamese. It is a strange contrast. But, of course, you can get an infinite mutation of views in the ranks of the Labor Party on any one subject to do with foreign affairs because, unlike the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), the honourable member for Wills cannot see his way clear to utter one word of criticism, even faint criticism, of the North Vietnamese or the Vietcong. It is to be said in favour of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the other night during the debate on international affairs he went so far - and in doing so went much further than most members of his Party would have gone - as to make this statement, which is recorded on page 246 of Hansard of 17th August: ll is undeniable that North Vietnam played a major part in inciting the original formation of the National Liberation Front, and it is now heavily supporting the Front and is carrying much of the barden of. the war.

He went on to say in another part of his speech:

Despite substantial North Vietnamese backing the Front is still the overwhelming Communist force in South Vietnam and it cannot be ignored.

That was a very handsome concession from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. But my main purpose in referring to what he said the other night is to draw a distinction between it and what the honourable member for Wills said. The honourable member for Wills would be the last to admit that the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam is a Communist dominated. Communist inspired and Communist established organisation. So I say that in the field of foreign affairs the slogan of the Labor Party seems to. be: ‘You name it, we have it’. Theirs is a policy of any view, as is evidenced by the disparate, dissenting views that are often expressed on the benches opposite. External affairs is a very important topic on which one would expect any respectable political party to have a united attitude.

I referred to the endemic Pharisaical attitude which exhibits itself so frequently iri the serried ranks on the other side of the chamber. I think it was very pointedly exhibited by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) himself some days ago when he was speaking on a television programme in Adelaide following the conclusion of that strange meeting called the ALP Federal Conference. It was held in the electorate of the honourable member for Adelaide. That would probably be the only good thing about the conference.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition - I am sorry, the Leader of the Opposition; I must remember he is now the Leader, that the knife work has been done and he is there for the time being at least, although one wonders for how long - said, rather pontifically I thought, during a television interview, when talking about Australia: ‘We are America’s only respectable ally in South Vietnam’. I call that a Pharisaical attitude, because my recollection of the New Testament is that the Pharisees went around with their noses in the air saying: ‘We are much better than other people, we are a cut above these other poor mortals. We think we are rather good and we will act accordingly.’ The Pharisees saw nothing wrong in being slighting and superior to those who should have been their friends. I emphasise that this statement was made by the Leader of the Opposition. What a gross impertinence it is for an Australian politician in a leading position to categorise these very nations as lacking respectability with which we have alliances which he says we want to preserve.

Mr Duthie:

– He did not mean that at all.


– The talkative member from Wilmot jumps in again. ‘He did not mean that at all’ says the member for Wilmot. I am glad to see that somebody sitting behind the Leader of the Opposition is prepared to defend him. I wonder how much longer that will remain the case. Anyhow, much as one may criticise the quality of the defence, the honourable member for Wilmot chips in like a little bird and says: He did not mean that at all’. To me the word ‘respectable’ has a very clear connotation.

Mr Duthie:

– Smart alec.


– The honourable member should not get worked up because when people get worked up it rather indicates that the shoe is beginning to pinch, and I think that the honourable member for Wilmot is wearing a very tight shoe at the moment. What did the Leader of the Opposition mean when he said that we were America’s only respectable ally? He meant that our other allies - the Thais, South Koreans and New Zealanders whom we must .not forget would be included in this impertinent piece of criticism - who are helping in South Vietnam are a cut below us. This was said by the man who leads the Labor Party and who, on behalf of his Party, less than a week ago in this House said that it was vitally important that we should encourage regional co-operation among the nations of South Asia and South East Asia. I am entirely in agreement with that proposition. I do not hesitate to say that we must encourage, foster and promote regional co-operation economically, culturally and, with those people who want to enter into such additional relationships with us, militarily in the way of mutual defence pacts. But what a way to encourage regional co-operation and regional friendship when the Leader of the Opposition gets up on the soap box and talks like an arrogant Pharisee.

Mr Nixon:

– Shame.


– I think it is a shame. I hope that at some stage early in the proceedings of this session some more responsible person - if there is one on the other side of the House - than the Leader of the Opposition will get up and correct the serious impression that may have been created among our allies many of whom, I suppose in their embassies and official offices, read Hansard, by saying that that sort of view is not the real view of the Opposition. Although it is very unlikely that the gentlemen sitting opposite will in the future constitute an alternative government, it would be just as well perhaps if our allies were to know that the only possible alternative government would not think as its leader presently seems to think. Let us look at some vital matters of principle which seem to have escaped the Opposition members in what I might describe as their rather labyrinthine peregrinations through the maze of trying to create a policy.

Mr Curtin:

– Will the honourable member say that again?


– No, because it would be lost on the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith, as all things are lost. The fundamental question of principle that emerges at the present time is this: What are our objectives on the border or periphery of the area in which we live? Do we want to see established in South East Asia viable healthy states with real progress being made, according to their wishes, towards democratic institutions, or do we want to see a situation of chaos developing and getting worse? Do we want to see nation states with proud national heritages in this part of the world being overcome by Communist subversion and aggression? There can be only one answer. What do we do about it? We should help those who need to be helped, and we should give our help, as we are now giving it, unsparingly and unstintingly. If that means military assistance then our obligation is clear. It is an obligation founded, not only on good humanitarian considerations, but on self-interest, because it is trite to say, as speaker after speaker on the Opposition side of the House is wont to say, that there is no immediate military threat to Australia at present in South East Asia. As a narrow proposition that has quite a lot to commend it, but is the Opposition so purblind that it will not look ahead to the future? Is it so blind to the realities and probabilities that it cannot realise that South East Asia, subverted by aggressive Communism. can only be a threat to our long term future and long term security?

If the fundamental question of principle is answered in the sense in which it must be answered then it seems to me that it is about time the Australian Labor Party faced up to reality and realised that there is an overwhelmingly strong case for what I shall describe as unstinting and unconditional military assistance in support of our South Vietnamese ally. It is no use saying: ‘Yes, we will help you but if we become the government we are going to tell you what to do and if you don’t do it we will get out’. That is not the attitude of realism; that is doctrinaire. It is a confidence trick, because in substance the policy - and I think I have distilled it accurately enough - that came out of the Federal Conference of the Australian Labour Party held recently in Adelaide is no different from the policy of scuttle and run upon which the Opposition Party went to the polls in the last general election. I say it is no different in substance because the Opposition has, through its official policy making body, imposed conditions upon a continuance of Australianmilitary assistance in South Vietnam which it knows full well to be utterly unacceptable to our allies. So I say that this is a confidence trick. The policy of the Australian Labor Party still remains a policy of scuttle and run. and I do not think the Australian people will ever fall for it.

I believe that our traditions are sufficiently strong and sufficiently high to say that no electorate in this country would return to power a government whose first official act. in effect, would be to renegue on our obligations. It is as well that these matters should remain very much to the forefront in our discussions in this Parliament because while members opposite may pose as tradesmen-like paper hangers, the Australian Labor Party has lost its principles and has lost sight of the fact that Australians, as a nation, have a proud heritage, one of the strongest principles of which is that we do not desert our friends.

Debate (on motion by Mr Webb) adjourned.

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Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.

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Social Services

Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:

That the House do now adjourn.

Wide Bay

– I wish to address the House on a statement made by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in the Budget Speech that the Government is prepared to act with the various State Governments to see what can be done to make mutual arrangements for the assistance of deserted wives and wives of prisoners. He followed that statement by saying that the cost will be$7m in the current year. There is a section of the community that has been neglected more than the deserted wives and the wives of prisoners. I refer to women who have been deserted and who have children from out of what is commonly termed a de facto relationship. I do not know whether that group is included in this proposed assistance. Children of a de facto relationship are not recognised by the Department of Social Services as being dependants of the mother even when all steps have been taken to try to make the father of the children responsible for their maintenance. I think all honourable members have experience of cases where the husband of a deserted wife has left and as soon as he is located the father leaves his job and goes somewhere else. It is difficult to make a deserting father pay for the maintenance of his natural children, but it is even more difficult where there is no moral obligation on the father to support the children. I am sure most honourable members have experience of cases where a woman has been left with children of a de facto relationship. I know of one particular instance recently where a woman had two children of a marriage and was deserted, and thinking she was doing the right thing she eventually set up a relationship with a second man. That relationship lasted for nine years and resultedin the birth of three more children. Eventually she was forced to leave this man because of his attitude and his habits, and after six months she applied for social services. Because of the age of the youngest child she was not able to take a job. She was granted a widows pension - which is the rate of pension granted to deserted wives - with allowances for the childrenof the marriage under sixteen years of age. As soon as the youngest child turned sixteen years of age she was told that she was no longer eligible for assistance. This woman had to register for employment and had to say she was prepared to take a job. I do not know what sort of job she would have had to get so that she would not have to take the children to work or make arrangements for someone to look after them. It is not always easy to find someone to look after a child, particularly if the mother happens to be a stranger to the. district. This woman was faced with this problem. She had three children under the age of eight years, the youngest being three years. She took out a summons on the father for maintenance of the children but it was not known where he lived and it was not possible to find him. It is all right to say that these people know what they are going into when they commence a de facto relationship, but I do not believe it is the prerogative of any of us to determine whether or not they have done wrong. However, this much is certain: If this woman has done wrong she is certainly paying for it, and she is being made to pay for it because the Department of Social Services refuses to recognise her children as dependants.

I know of two cases where the mothers are not wanton and are trying to do the right thing by their children. I think that they are certainly doing the right thing by Australia by rearing their children to be worthwhile citizens. If we continue with the Vietnam war these children might even be called upon tolay down their lives for the people of Australia. It costs money to bring migrants to Australia and it costs money to encourage people to migrate to Australia, yet there are Australians - some born out of wedlock and some born within the bonds of matrimony - whose mothers are being asked to live under conditions even worse than those appertaining to deserted wives. I do not believe that recognition of such children as dependants will encourage wanton or loose living. Rather than that, I think the refusal to acknowledge them causes the mothers to look round for someone to assist them. In some cases they have been fortunate in finding people who will do this, but I think there are very few men prepared to undertake the support of a woman and five children.

I know that the Minister for Social Services is aware of the plight of these people and I hope that in the proposals he puts forward to the States they will get some recognition. The States give some assistance, but we know that the assistance given by the States is not comparable even with the assistance given by the Department of Social Services. As the Treasurer said, there is a difference between the amounts paid in the various States to these people by way of assistance. I should think it would be better all round if there were a general agreement on the amount to be paid. The fact is that people in these particular circumstances, who are neither deserted wives in the true sense nor wives of prisoners, are being penalised and are being asked to rear families in conditions inferior to those under which a deserted wife or widow is being asked to rear a family. These people do not look for pity; all they look for is an opportunity to raise their children and to give them clothing, food and the opportunity for an education. I do hope they will be covered by the legislation that the Minister for Social Services will bring down a little later on.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 10.39 p.m.

page 394


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:

Postal Department: Aboriginal Employees in Northern Territory (Question No. 110)

Mr Webb:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. Is it a fact that until 9th February 1966 Aboriginals employed by the Postmaster-General’s Department in the Northern Territory were denied their entitlements as prescribed in Public Service Regulations 49 and 101?
  2. Had some of these Aboriginals been employed by the department since 7th August 1959?
  3. Is it a fact that any discrimination against Aboriginals for the period 7th August 1959 to 9th. February 1966 was contrary to the Public Service Act and Regulations?
  4. If so, will he arrange for the Aboriginals concerned to be paid their entitlements retrospective to 7th August 1959?

Mr Harold Holt:’ The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:

The terms and conditions of employment of Aborigines employed by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in the Northern Territory between 7th August 1959 and 9th February 1966 were determined, by agreement between that Department and the Northern Territory Administration, having regard to the terms and conditions of the Wards’ Employment Ordinance and not the Public Service Act and Regulations. The current position is that all Aborigines employed by Government departments in the Northern Territory are, with the exceptions of certain forestry workers (whose conditions are still under examination), paid full award rates and receive full award conditions.

Commonwealth Electoral Office (Question No. 161)

Mr Uren:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice: ls it normal procedure for interviewing officers when selecting permanent staff for the Commonwealth Electoral Office to ask an applicant if he is a member of a political party and if he is such a member, what executive position he holds with the party?

Mr Harold Holt: The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

It would not be a matter of practice for interviewing officers to ask applicants for appointment to the staff of a Commonwealth Electoral Office whether they are member* of or hold executive positions with a political party.

Land Settlement of Ex-servicemen

Mr Harold Holt:

– On 17th May the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton) asked me a question without notice concerning war service land settlement and loans under the Defence (Re-establishment) Act 1965-1966.

The Government has given very careful consideration to the question of introducing a scheme on similar lines to the War Service Land Settlement Scheme which was introduced following the 1914-18 War and reconstituted after the 1939-45 War. As far as national servicemen are concerned these are re-establishment benefits which already apply to them. However, in relation to the current conditions of both national servicemen and members of the regular forces it is important to note that the peridos of service are fixed - there is none of the indefiniteness of a ‘for the duration’ enlistment. Against this background and bearing in mind the very small numbers of national servicemen and members of the regular forces who would be suitably qualified for land settlement, the Government has decided not to re-introduce a scheme along the lines of the War Service Land Settlement Scheme.

The honourable member has also referred to the amount of finance available under re-establishment loans. The general purpose of a re-establishment loan is to enable a discharged national serviceman, where it is necessary, to re-establish himself in a business, profession or occupation, including farming, in which he was engaged prior to call up or which he was prevented from entering because of call up. Where the loan is for agricultural purposes the limit is $6,000; for other purposes the limit is $3,000. In the light of the Government's decision not to re-introduce a war service land settlement scheme it can be seen that the amount of the loan, as far as agricultural occupations are concerned, is clearly not intended to cover the purchase price of a farm or property of the type envisaged under such a scheme. The loans, of course may be used for the purchase or lease of land but they also may be granted for the purpose of improving land, purchasing tools, equipment or livestock or reducing a debt on a property and in view of the general purposes of the loans, the low interest rate on them and the fact that national service is for a fixed period of time it is not considered that a review of the amount of the re-establishment loan is called for. Employment of Epileptics {: #subdebate-33-1-s2 .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr Harold Holt:
LP -- On 16th May, the honourable member for Reid **(Mr Uren)** asked me a question without notice about the employment of epileptics and also the conditions under which these persons are accepted by assurance companies for life policies. The problems associated with the employment in the Commonwealth Service of persons who have a history of epilepsy are fully appreciated and are kept under continual review by the Public Service Board. The medical standards currently laid down for permanent appointment of persons in this category, like those in other areas, have only been arrived at after close consultation with the Commonwealth's medical officers in the Department of Health. In advising the board, these officers take into account developments in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions which might affect acceptability for appointment and, in this respect, the board must have regard to the need for maintaining the overall efficiency of the service. The board must also take account of the long established principle that all staff accepted for permanent appointment should be covered by a scheme providing retirement, invalidity and death benefits. Eligibility for contribution under the Superannuation Act must, therefore, also be taken into account. With particular reference to epilepsy it should be mentioned that this disability could constitute grounds for the payment of invalidity benefits and that any adjustment of standards requires consideration of this aspect. In the course of review over the years, the medical requirements in respect of persons who have suffered from epilepsy have been relaxed and, while it is not possible to predict the outcome of future review action, new medical developments in the control and treatment of epilepsy will not be overlooked as and when these occur. I might also mention that a person suffering from this complaint is not necessarily precluded from permanent appointment to the Commonwealth Public Service provided his condition is properly stabilised and this is proved to the satisfaction of the Public Service Board. In the case of temporary employment, no restriction is placed on the employment of epileptics, provided a suitable vacancy exists, and the duties of the position do not involve risk to the employees themselves or to other persons. The Government also recognises that some epileptics do find some difficulty in obtaining private employment, and has for many years assisted them in two ways. For epileptics and other persons whose disabilities present employment problems, the Commonwealth Employment Service provides a specialised service whereby trained officers in each of its 1 36 district offices throughout the Commonwealth, and in each of its regional offices in the capital cities, assist them to obtain suitable employment. Secondly, the Department of Labour and National Service seeks to overcome the reluctance of those employers who, for any reason, are not anxious to employ people suffering from this affliction. Such efforts are made to acquaint employers with the true nature of the disability in order to remove doubts which are often present because of inadequate knowledge of the effects of epilepsy on employment suitability. One measure of success of that department's active promotion of the employment of epileptics is shown in the number of placements made by the Commonwealth Employment Service in recent years. In the five years between 1956 and 1960, 1,250 epileptics were placed in employment and between 1961 and 1966, 2,053 such placements were made. As regards the statement that assurance companies discriminate against epileptics, I am informed by the Commonwealth's Insurance Commissioner that *the* practice adopted by a life insurance company in relation to each proposal for insurance which it receives depends upon the assessment made by its medical and actuarial advisers and all the relevant factors stated in the proposal, the personal statement made by the person whose life is proposed for insurance and any medical examiner's report which may affect the risk the company is being asked to assume.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 August 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.