House of Representatives
7 May 1968

26th Parliament · 2nd Session

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

page 1109


Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

– 1 wish to inform the House that the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Anthony, left Australia on Sth May to take the place of Mr McEwen as leader of the Australian delegation at the International Sugar Conference in Geneva. After the Conference concludes, Mr Anthony will make short visits to several other countries and he intends to return to Australia at the beginning of July. During his absence the Minister for the Interior, Mr Nixon, will act as Minister for Primary Industry.

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– I ask the Acting AttorneyGeneral a question which concerns the clauses of the National Service Bill under which a person who faits to render national service is guilty of an offence which is punishable on summary conviction and not otherwise, and which carries a penalty of imprisonment for two years. I ask the honourable gentleman whether he can cite any other Commonwealth statute under which a person can be sentenced to two years’ imprisonment without having the option of trial by jury?

Minister for Immigration · BRUCE, VICTORIA · LP

– A question in relation to the same Bill was asked last week. On that occasion I gave an answer, which I repeat now, that the Government feels that this is a matter of high policy, that people should render their obligation according to the legislation. The honourable gentleman will no doubt get an opportunity to argue the matter when the debate is conducted.

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– Is the Treasurer aware of the critical situation facing the fruit industry as a result of the depressed market returns in the United Kingdom for Tasmanian apples and pears? Should this calamitous market trend continue, will the right honourable gentleman sympathetically reconsider the position, should the industry as a whole present a case for assistance from the Commonwealth Government?


– Some days ago the Premier of Tasmania submitted to the Prime Minister a recommendation that assistance should be given to the Tasmanian apple and pear industry. The Government considered the proposals and came to the conclusion that, on the facts as it knew them at the time, it required further evidence before a decision could be made. The Government felt that one of the difficulties might be the after-effects of the devaluation of the pound sterling. The Prime Minister has already sent a telegram to the Premier of Tasmania, and the Minister for Primary Industry has issued a statement about the matter. I cannot add anything to what they have said. What I can do is to assure the honourable gentleman that if the difficulties get worse the Government will be only too willing to look at the problem again.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Navy. Has he any further information about the accidental discharge of 6i tons of fuel oil from the Royal Australian Navy ship, HMAS ‘Supply’, into the waters surrounding Cockatoo Island, in Sydney Harbour with the subsequent pollution of the foreshores of Balmain and Drummoyne? What action, if any, is proposed to be taken to prevent a repetition of this incident? Is the Navy responsible for compensation arising from the damage that may have been done either to property or to the foreshores?

Minister for the Navy · WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– Yesterday, I think at 10 a.m., HMAS ‘Supply’ was scheduled to leave her berth to go to Garden Island. It was noticed at that time that there was a list in the ship and it was decided to pump oil from the No. 2 aft tank to the No. 6 forward tank to correct the list. During the process, which is a routine one, some 64 tons of oil escaped into the sea. The accident is, of course, very much regretted. The ship stayed at her berth for 4 hours more than the scheduled time to contain the spilt oil and also put out a floating boom to help achieve this objective. At the moment, a Naval Board inquiry into the incident is in progress and until the inquiry is concluded it would be improper for me to add further to the comments I have made.

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Mr Speaker, I direct this question to you. Do you agree that the present method of holding a division in this House is time consuming? Is it the least useful survival of the traditional forms used by the House and is it without any intrinsic significance? Will you take the necessary action to obtain technical information wilh a view to installing a suitable electronic method of recording the votes in divisions held in this chamber?


– This matter has bean the subject of discussions on previous occasions. As the honourable member will well know, the present method and other methods - have advantages and disadvantages. The method of voting has been discussed at meetings of the New and Permanent Parliament House Committee and the matter is being further considered. However, I will look into the question again.



– I ask the Treasurer: Have further arrangements been made for credits with the United States Government to cover the increase of $US95m in the cost of the Fill aircraft since the last loan of $US80m to cover increased costs was negotiated?


– When I was in the United States last year I was able to carry put negotiations with the then Secretary of Defence, Mr McNamara. It was agreed that the increased costs of toe Fill aircraft, or the F111A as it was then known, would be carried by the Australian Government but would be on credit terms. I discussed amounts with him, but as I was not certain at the time what the increased amount might be I did not fix a precise amount of the order mentioned by the honourable gentleman.

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– I direct my question to the Minister for Health. As the recent foot and mouth disease scare in New Zealand has focused attention on the disasters that this disease could bring to our livestock industry, although fortunately if appears to have been only a cheap scare, will the Minister consider the continued imposition of maximum precautions for travellers who come to Australia by air from other areas?

Minister for Health · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– I am sure that everybody shares the honourable gentleman’s pleasure at learning that this was not in fact an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. I take this opportunity to compliment the New Zealand authorities on their full and frank disclosure of the possible existence of the disease, on their notification to us and to other countries that might have been affected and on the precautions that they took. In answer to the main part of the honourable member’s question, the precautions that were put into operation immediately foot and mouth disease was suspected in New Zealand were, with one exception, exactly the same as those that have been applied for many years to any country or travellers from any country in which foot and mouth disease has been known to exist. That exception was the requirement for all passengers to have their footwear disinfected. The reason why this was done in this instance was that it was not possible in the time available to make the normal arrangements for declarations and so on in order to sort out the passengers, to see whether they were a risk as a result of having been associated with farms or animals. If the outbreak in New Zealand had turned out to be foot and mouth disease we would have quickly developed the same system that has been applied to other countries. However, the other precautions taken in relation to New Zealand were exactly the same as those applied to all countries where foot and mouth disease is known to exist.

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– I ask the Postmaster-General a question. I refer the Minister to reports that his Department will withdraw from service telephones recurrently damaged by vandals. I further refer him to reports that all public telephones are vulnerable to this type of damage. 1 ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he will agree that a majority of Australian households still depend upon public telephones to summon essential services in emergencies. Will the Minister say at what point he will call a halt to developments that threaten to isolate such households? - Mr HULME - I am sure that the Australian people are disappointed at the vandalism that takes place in our community, especially as it relates to public telephones, which are available especially to people who do not have private telephones, particularly for use in emergencies. It is to be regretted that the repair of damage caused by vandalism is costing the Post Office about S2m annually. The Post Office docs not intend to remove public telephones merely because of vandalism, but many public telephones have been damaged so frequently that the Department must look at this situation and take it into account when assessing the requirement of the community for additional public telephones. At present there is a backlog of 284 public telephones in Sydney and 66 in Melbourne. The supply of these new telephones can only be delayed if the Department is to repair the telephones that are being damaged frequently by vandalism. It is a case in some instances of offsetting the situation in one area against the wishes df. the public for public telephones in another area. As a result, policies will be developed, having regard to these particular facts.

Last Friday no fewer than 134 public telephones in New South Wales were found to be the subject qf vandalism, with instruments damaged or stolen. The rate of damage beyond repair to public telephone installations in Sydney is 90 per month. I would mention that in Victoria there are no fewer than 700 technician calls per day in relation to public telephones, most of the damage to which results from vandalism of one type or another. The Post Office is undertaking research continually. There is continuous consultation between the investigating officers of my Department and State police. In the last 3 years, 150 people have been charged with this type of offence. I make an appeal to the public of Australia to co-operate with the police and with the Post Office and that .where they see any evidence whatever which leads them to suspect vandalism to report it in the hope that wilh their co-operation we can reduce the vandalism, reduce this cost to the Department and perhaps finally remove the necessity for increasing charges for public telephones as these of course are part of the economic requirement within the Post Office.

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– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the reported statement in this morning’s Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ by Dr Neal Blewitt, senior lecturer in politics at the Adelaide University, describing Australia as a ‘joke nation’ and the ‘lap dog’ of the United States because of our involvement in Vietnam? Does the Prime Minister consider that this represents world opinion of Australia’s reputation or simply that portion of the world under Communist influence, including Dr Blewitt?


– Yes, Mx Speaker, mv attention has been drawn to the statement to which the honourable member refers. I would not regard it myself either as an expression of world opinion or, even as an expression of the opinion of that part of the world which is under Communist domination. I, of course, have long been interested by the glib way in which the words ‘world opinion’ are used by people in order to express views which are in accordance with their own. But I myself believe that world opinion would believe this: Aggression should not be allowed to succeed. I believe that that would be particularly so for citizens of small nations, and that if aggression is sought to be imposed by force it, needs to be resisted by force, just as has been done in the past in other instances. That is what Australia is assisting to do in this case. Therefore, I would not believe that this was at all an expression of world opinion.

As regards the second part of the question as to whether those sections of the world under Communist domination regard this as a joke, I would say to the House this: T do not believe that any nation whether it were Fascist or Communist, whether it came up against Australian resistance in the deserts of Libya or in Korea or in Malaya would ever have thought that resistance to have been in the nature of a joke. I would myself believe that the words read out by the honourable member were simply words put out by an individual, whether he believes them or not, simply in an attempt to denigrate and undermine action now being taken by Australia to assist a cause which, I believe, most citizens in the world would believe to be aproper one.

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– The Minister for Civil Aviation will be well aware of my keen interest in having an airstrip constructed on Lord Howe Island to serve the needs of its 400 permanent residents and the thousands of tourists who visit the island each year. Is the Minister aware that I regularly visit the island in my capacity as Federal member for the island and that I will do so again during the coming Parliamentary recess? Therefore, I ask the Minister if he will be good enough to prepare a statement giving details of the stage reached in the negotiations between his Department and the Liberal Government of New South Wales for the provision of an airstrip prior to the cancellation of the flying boat service in 1970, so that I can give up-to-date information to my constituents on this matter, which is of such vital concern to them and myself.

Minister for Civil Aviation · DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · LP

– Unfortunately 1 will probably not have the opportunity of joining the honourable member on his visit to Lord Howe Island next week. However, I am sure that he will quite capably represent the opinion which I will give now in relation to the problem he has posed. The air service to Lord Howe Island is still provided by flying boat and this will continue for some time in the future although, as I have said before in this House, the service has a terminal date. Quite recently my Department arranged for a very careful inspection of the island to be made. In fact, this inspection has taken place over the last few weeks. The inspection has been made in order to find an area suitable for an airstrip that would be adequate for the type of aircraft that would operate across the expanse of water between the island and the Australian mainland. I believe we will be able to achieve our objective and will be able to license the type of aircraft that can perform this service at the termination of the service being provided at the moment by the flying boats. But this matter is one for discussion between the Commonwealth and State authorities. New South Wales has an interest in this matter and has a responsibility for the construction of any airport facility. Next Thursday there will be a meeting between the Commonwealth and the State Departments concerned. This meeting will also be attended by representatives of the Lord Howe Island Board and of the airlines. I believe that at this meeting some form of decision will be made which should be satisfactory for the future of the island service.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. The Minister will have noted that in the Wahine’ disaster in a significant number of cases the design of the life-jackets resulted in people breaking their necks as they hit the water, or drowning through slipping out of their life-jackets. Can the Minister say whether, by direct action or through membership of any international organisations, it is possible to ensure that the design of life-jackets used on ships around the Australian coast is less lethal.

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

– Since the ‘Wahine’ disaster the Department of Shipping and Transport has taken close note of all the proceedings that have been published, and those which have not been published, to try to ascertain whether any extra precautions are necessary on vessels plying around the Australian coast. As a result of the disaster it was thought necessary that on each voyage an explanation of safety drill should be made by officers of the Australian National Line on ships’ intercommunication systems. A recommendation to do likewise has been made to private operators. In regard to the design of lifejackets to which the honourable member referred, currently an investigation is being undertaken by my Department to ascertain whether or not newspaper comments on this subject have been accurate and what design alterations may be necessary. In fact, at this stage the design and the necessary number of life-jackets and life-rafts are, of course, specified by regulations. If it should be found, as a result of the inquiry which is to be conducted into the ‘Wahine’ disaster and the investigations made by the Department, that there should be a necessary alteration to the regulations, then, of course, that will be announced in this House and the necessary alterations will be made.

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– I am sure that this House and the Australian people are saddened by the death of three Australian journalists in Vietnam, ls the Minister for External Affairs able to tell the House what happened and how these men were killed? Were they dressed as civilians or soldiers? Were they armed or were they killed, in reality, in cold blood? Are their dependants entitled to any compensation whatsoever from the Government, or is compensation a matter for the people who employed them?

Minister for External Affairs · CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– Some of the questions asked by the honourable member for Batman, particularly a question such as compensation, would require further inquiry and consultation with some of my colleagues. My understanding is that the journalists were not accredited war correspondents, so their status was that of civilians. Although T. cannot answer with certainty, because we have not got the full details yet, my understanding is that they were not only in the status of civilians but were unarmed and were in ordinary clothing, not in military uniform, when they were shot down.

I am sure that all members of the House would like to express sympathy to the bereaved, and if I may add one further comment, the sad death of these young men following their occupations as civilians is a reminder to us that the slaying of civilians is a feature of the Vietcong operations. Indeed, in the first 4 months of this calendar year, the figure of civilians killed in Vietnam by the Vietcong surpasses 6,500. The three Australian journalists and the two other journalists join with that company of over 6,500 civilians killed by Vietcong terrorism - direct action by Vietcong terrorists.

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– I address a question to the Minister for Education and Science. I refer to my previous representations on behalf of Mr C. W. Steel of Bega whose daughter was unable to use a New South Wales teaching scholarship at the Australian National University this year. Does the fact that she cannot use this scholarship at the Australian National University result from a decision of the New South

Wales Government or from a decision of this Government? Could the Minister outline the circumstances surrounding this case?

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

-The honourable member has spoken to me on a number of occasions about this particular case. The result flows from a decision of the New South Wales Government to restrict the enrolment of teacher trainees bonded to it, to universities in New South Wales with which the New South Wales Government has made special arrangements by which these universities - its own universities - do not charge fees to New South Wales Government bonded students. This question goes back a little further, however, because some considerable time ago some doubt was cast on the authority of the Australian National University, which up to last year did remit fees to teacher trainees from New South Wales. On examination it was found that the authority for this action was certainly not sound, and as I understand it, the law was amended.

The practice had flowed from an older agreement, going back to the 1930s, when a university college had been established in Canberra and when that college was struggling to get students from whatever sources were possible. That was the basis of the original arrangement with New South Wales. But this was an unofficial arrangement, as I understand it, without any Government sanction. On examination it was decided that the Australian National University should not have the authority to remit fees for teacher trainees and this has now been made clear in the statutes. But this is precisely the same position as in Commonwealth departments such as the Department of Supply, the Department of Health or my own Department, which may have bonded students going through a university course. The departments are responsible for the payment of the fees. The State Minister was advised of this, as I understand it, about February 1967. There was correspondence from the then Prime Minister on 25th May 1967. Mr Askin, the Premier, replied on 7th June. Throughout the correspondence no objections were raised to the course that the Commonwealth proposed to take. This situation is precisely the same as it would be for a student in the Riverina or at Albury who might want to go to Melbourne, that being the nearest university. If students were bonded to the New South Wales Government, they would be able to go to the University of Melbourne only if that Government were prepared to pay fees to the University of Melbourne. If the New South Wales Government were not prepared to do this they would have to go to a New South Wales university.

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– I address my question to the Minister for the Army. What is the present position of Captain Rule, the Citizen Military Forces officer who was the subject of the Minister’s statement to this House on 28th March? When Captain Rule was arrested, what was the offence with which he was charged? Was he placed under close arrest at that time? If not, what form of arrest was he placed, under? Is he now under any form of service restriction whatsoever? Under what authority is Captain Rule’s case held in such a state of abeyance as to create a strong presumption of injustice being done to him? Is it not a fact that a serious breach of the spirit of Service law protecting the rights and personal reputation of a serviceman has occurred?

Minister for the Army · FLINDERS, VICTORIA · LP

– I regard this matter as being sub judice and for this reason it is not proper or appropriate for me to comment.

Mr Bryant:

– He must be under a charge if the matter is sub judice, surely.


-Order! The honourable member has asked his question.


– For this reason it is not appropriate or proper for me to comment on a number of facets of the question which has just been posed. I refer to an answer that I gave in this place early last week when I indicated quite clearly that there had been delay. In fact there had been considerable delay. However, I made it very clear that it was my precise and explicit understanding that this delay had not occurred as a result of any action or lack of action by the Army; the delay had taken place only as the result of a written request by the officer concerned.

He bad sought time to consider his position and, I understand, also to have available to him legal counsel. I understand the counsel he required was not available during the period concerned.

Mr Bryant:

– Has he been charged?


– If the honourable gentleman would look at the- statement 1 made in this House on 28th March he would see that the officer was charged at that time and that delay had been experienced in the taking of a summary of evidence, lt is expected that the summary of evidence will be concluded tomorrow, lt is not proper from a military point of view to release to this House details of the charges. I am given to understand that there is no statutory inhibition to this effect but that for very sound legal reasons it would be quite improper for me to indicate what the charges were at the time of the officer’s arrest or what charges might or might not have been laid since that time. This arises because after the completion of a summary of evidence and the laying of charges, such charges could be amended, withdrawn, dealt- with in a summary fashion or referred to a court martial. The honourable member is quite wrong in his interpretation or inference concerning this matter. Can I suggest to him and to other honourable members, with great deference and respect, that the proliferation of questions abou this matter does not in fact serve the cause of military justice which is in process, nor the interests of any of . the parlies which are involved.

In summary, the precise situation is this: There has been some considerable delay. That delay has not ensued as a result of any action or inaction on the part of my advisers. 1 understand it is hoped that the summary of evidence will be completed tomorrow. It is not proper, for very sound reasons, in the interests of the parties concerned, for details of any charges to be released to the House at this time.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. When making provision for reestablishment loans to national servicemen, where this is necessary to enable a national serviceman to re-establish himself in a business, profession or occupation, including farming, was it the intention of the Government that before such loans were granted it would be necessary for the exserviceman to lodge with the Commonwealth negotiable securities or to execute a charge over real estate in favour of the Commonwealth to the full value of any such proposed loan?

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

– The question asked has a rural flavour about it, I would think from what the honourable member has said. I am not sure of the precise details of that aspect of the legislation because it is administered jointly by the Minister for Primary Industry and the Minister for Repatriation according to circumstances. However I shall look into the matter and inform the honourable member accordingly.

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– I ask the Treasurer a question. During the recess he authorised a regulation which permits the largest housing financier, the Commonwealth Savings Bank, to make housing loans up to $8,000 instead of the limit of $7,000 at which they had been pegged since March 1963. He commented that this increase ‘will offset increases in building costs since that time’. I ask the Treasurer if the cost of the average home has not increased by $2,000 rather than $1,000 in the last 5 years and if the average home builder will not still have to find a much larger proportion of the cost of his home - and I quote the Treasurer - from his own resources or from supplementary, borrowings than he did 5 years ago. Also, I ask if the present increase has been limited to $1,000 because the Government wishes to retain the limit of $7,000 which has been set by statute, not regulation, for war service home loans for 6 years, not 5 years, and which was so largely responsible for the total allocation for housing in his second budget being less than in his first budget.


– These are a series of very complicated questions dealing with a lot of policy matters. I am surprised that at a time like this the Leader of the Opposition saw fit to ask them. He might easily have put his questions on the notice paper and thus obtained a more specific answer.

Be that as it may, the request for the increased credit foncier loans from the Commonwealth Savings Bank came from the Commonwealth Banking Corporation itself and I approved of the limit going to $8,000. What the honourable member has to keep in mind is not only the increase that has taken place in the cost of buildings but also the fact that better quality buildings are required or are demanded today. Secondly, he must bear in mind that unless the Commonwealth exercises some influence over the total amount of money made available for housing there is a distinct possibility that some builders - not necessarily all - will exploit the position and will increase the price of houses.

As to the question relating to war service homes, I state categorically that the limit imposed in respect of war service homes had no influence on the decision to allow the Commonwealth Savings Bank to increase its advance limit. If the limitation in respect of war service loans had influenced the decision in respect of the Commonwealth Savings Bank, that decision would have been retained for the Budget. Finally, as to the amounts allocated for housing in the two budgets which I have introduced, the amount in the second budget was lower than that in the first for the good reason that more people are becoming satisfied in respect of their demand for war service housing and the demand for war service homes is nowhere near as great as it was a couple of years ago.

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– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Will the Commonwealth Government give sympathetic consideration to the request, which I understand will soon come from the Premier of Victoria, to assist Victoria with a loan of $40m, to be spread over 5 years, to meet half the cost of the construction of an urgently needed underground railway for Melbourne whose 2 million people constitute one-sixth of Australia’s total population and which is approaching a public transport crisis’ of major proportions? I ask the question ‘ as as one Victorian to another.


– Answering the question as one Victorian to another, I can say only that it clearly is very much involved with policy matters and therefore is not one suitable for question time. Secondly, the question appears to deal with a request which has not yet been received or even sent. So I can only leave the matter there.

Mr McMahon:

– It has been sent.


– Has the honourable member got it?

Mr McMahon:

– Yes.


– I beg his pardon. The request has not yet come to me.

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Mr Clyde Cameron:

– I ask a question of the honourable member for Adelaide.


-Order! Questions may be asked of members, in relation to a Bill of which they have charge or a motion which they have moved. I am afraid that the honourable member for Adelaide does not come within those categories.

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Mr J R Fraser:

– 1 ask the Minister for the Army: Will he have inquiries made into the conditions of employment and the alternatives being offered to members of the academic staff of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, during the period of the affiliation of the College with the University of New South Wales as a faculty of military studies? In particular, will he examine the position of academics who are permanent officers of the Commonwealth Public Service but who are being offered only temporary positions with the University of New South Wales, involving loss of superannuation rights as well as loss of credits for accumulated sick leave and furlough? Are members of the academic staff at the College being hoist by the Army’s petard to a position between the devil of the Public Service Board-


-Order! The honourable member’s question is far too long. He should come to the point.

Mr J R Fraser:

– Are they being hoist to a position between the devil of the Public Service Board and the deep blue sea of the University, with no security for advancement or promotion?


– I am aware generally of the matters to which the honourable gentleman has referred. Yes, 1 will have them examined.

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– I ask the Acting Attorney-General whether it has been possible to recruit additional staff in the bankruptcy administration to reduce the substantial delays occurring in bankruptcy matters. Will he look closely into the problem to see whether some relief can be afforded in cases of very long delay?


– This is a matter with which, of course, the Attorney-General would be quite au fait. I confess that I am not. I will make the inquiries and let the honourable member know. 1 do know that the bankruptcy administration is in the process of putting into operation the new bankruptcy legislation, of which the honourable member knows, and this will involve new staff arrangements.

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– I address my question to the Minister for National Development. To what extent will the continuance of the Government’s present pricing policy on Australian-produced crude oil increase petrol prices to Australian motorists? Will the increases scale upwards from 4c a gallon according to the proportion of total requirements represented by Australian production? Has heavy pressure been applied to the Government by producers to extend the consumer-paid subsidy beyond its statutory expiry in 1971? When can the Australian motorist expect any benefit by reduced prices resulting from discovery of a world-ranking Australian oil field?

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

– The Government made its decision on the price of crude oil in September 1965. At that time it appeared that there was a considerable need to ensure, firstly, that all Australianproduced crude oil was used in Australia before imports came in and, secondly, that a reasonable price was fixed to encourage the people who were searching for oil in Australia to continue a high rate of activity so that oil would be discovered. At the time the Government had before it a Tariff Board report, and my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry, at the time said that the Government accepted the Tariff Board report and that, firstly, Australian crude oil must be taken before duty-free entry was allowed from overseas.

But our second step went further than the Tariff Board had recommended. There was a recommendation by the Tariff Board for an incentive payment of 25c a barrel on Australian crude oil. The Government felt that this was insufficient and raised it to 75c, and said that this would apply for the next 5 years. We have been particularly fortunate in that the various incentives to oil search in Australia have led to certain discoveries. These have not been large by world standards. In actual fact the discovery on the Gippsland shelf will provide about 24% of the total Australian requirements for the next two decades, so it is obvious that we have to continue incentives and continue to discover oil. Nevertheless, in the light of the different position today from the position in 1965 the Government is at the present moment undertaking studies to see what the price should be after the present incentive price comes up for review in September 1970. There will undoubtedly be an effect upon the price of oil, but it will be fairly small.

The Gippsland shelf will not start to produce oil until April 1969, when it is expected that production from the Marlin field will commence. The next one, the Halibut field, will commence in September 1969, and the Kingfish field will start producing in about the fourth quarter of 1969. Over the period from April 1969 to September 1970, the increase in petrol price, if related to the price of crude oil, would be of the order of an average of about 1.7c a gallon over the 18 months period. The honourable member asks when the Australian motorist will benefit. Without confining my remarks to the Australian motorist, I can say that the Australian public will benefit because the discovery on the Gippsland shelf will mean that we will be spared the necessity to bring in from overseas crude oil valued at about $2,400m. I point out to the honourable member that in Australia the price of petrol is amongst the lowest petrol prices in industrial countries, and that the price of petrol is subsidised in remote areas, by quite a considerable amount, by the Government. The success of oil search in Australia shows that the lines of assistance to the search for oil in this country undertaken by the present Government have been remarkably good and have been successful.

page 1117


Ninety-fifth Report - Treasury minutes on Seventy-eighth, Eighty-first and Eighty-second Reports.

Ninety-sixth Report- Expenditure from Consolidated Revenue Fund for Year 1966-67.

I seek leave to make a short statement.


– As there is no objection, leave is granted.


– The Ninety-fifth Report relates to Treasury minutes on your Committee’s Seventy-eighth, Eighty-first and Eighty-second Reports which were concerned respectively with the report of the Auditor-General for 1964-65, the supplementary report of the Auditor-General for the same year and expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer for 1965-66. The Ninety-sixth Report relates to expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the financial year 1966-67 and covers the remaining items which were examined in a combined inquiry that related also to expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer and which were reported on in the Ninety-third Report of your Committee.

This report shows that there are explanations for expenditure variations from the Estimates which, due to unforeseen circumstances or other factors, are acceptable. It also shows, however, cases where departments have sought funds prematurely in the original appropriations, either because they have disregarded their own experience in the areas of activity where expenditure is to occur; or because they have applied for funds without a reasonably clear appreciation of the expenditure which might be involved or because they have accepted at face value, estimates supplied to them by other departments or authorities. For this reason your Committee has again set out in this report for the guidance of departments the principles relating to estimating which have been formulated by the Department of the Treasury and endorsed by your Committee over the years.

Your Committee would also direct attention to the incidence of clerical errors revealed in evidence and the frequent failure to detect them during the financial year concerned. We would emphasise that the consequences of these errors can be serious. As in our Eighty-fourth Report, we would reiterate the need for departments to pursue claims for settlement vigorously and we would, also draw particular attention to the responsibility which rests .with the central offices of departments to ensure that estimates formulated by. their regional offices and overseas posts are adequately scrutinised and are supported by such material as will enable the central offices to perform their review functions at a high standard.

Finally, your Committee would refer to the matter of recoverable expenditure. By its nature, expenditure of this type is cancelled out in the overall Budget to the extent that recoveries are made in the year of expenditure. Not all recoveries, however, can be achieved in the year of expenditure and therefore, in any’ given year, recoverable expenditure can ‘ affect . the Budget. Your Committee believes that departments have a responsibility to formulate estimates and pursue claims related to such items, with the same diligence that they are required to apply to other items under their administrative control. I commend the reports to honourable members. . .

Ordered to be printed.

page 1118


Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced..

Bill presented by Mr McMahon, and read a first time. - -

Second Reading

Treasurer · Lowe · LP

– 1 move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill and of the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1967-68 is to obtain parliamentary authority for expenditure for which provision was not made in the Appropriation Act (No. 1) 1967-68 and Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1967-68. The total appropriations sought in this Bill amount to $155,135,000. The various items included in this Bill can be considered in detail in Committee, and I propose at this stage to refer only to some of the major provisions.

The additional requirement for departmental salaries is $8.3m, mainly because of the increases in salary rates arising from arbitration determinations, reclassifications of offices and additional staff. Further appropriations totalling $ 10.7m are required for departmental administrative expenses, which cover a multiplicity of purposes. Additional appropriations amounting to $6.1m for departmental other services include $2m for cost of assisted passages for migrants, $547,000 for development of civil aviation, and $700,000 for grants to eligible organisations under the Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Act.

An additional amount of $22. lm is sought in the appropriations’ of the Service departments to carry out the current defence programme but, as there are shortfalls in some appropriations mainly due to rephasing of payments on aircraft purchases, lags in delivery of equipment and stores and in the provision of accommodation and facilities, the estimated total expenditure on defence Services from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the Loan Fund is not expected to exceed the original appropriation of $994.9m. Including drawings on defence credits, the total estimated expenditure for 1967-68 is not expected to exceed the original Budget estimate of $1,1 18.2m.

Under Business Undertakings an additional amount of $8m is sought, including $6.4m for. the Postmaster-General’s ‘Department, mainly to cover increases in salaries and wages; $800,000 for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and $600,000 for the Commonwealth Railways. The PaY: ment to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve is an internal machinery . transaction involving the transfer of moneys from one Commonwealth .fund within the public account to another and does not involve any actual expenditure by the Commonwealth. There is a distinct possibility that it might be necessary to make a payment to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve greater than the$288m appropriated in Appropriation Act (No. 1) 1967-68 and it is desirable that the additional appropriation should provide a margin of safety sufficient to meet all eventualities. To this end it is considered that the appropriation should be increased by $100m.

Leaving aside the additional expenditure for payment to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve, the additional appropriations being sought in this Bill amount to $55,135,000. This, however, is not to be taken as an indication that actual expenditure will exceed the appropriations in Appropriation Act (No. 1) 1967-68 to this extent. The greater part of the additional authority sought is expected to be offset by savings in expenditure under other appropriations in that Act. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.

page 1119


Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.

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

Second Reading

Treasurer · Lowe · LP

– I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to obtain Parliamentary authority for additional expenditure in 1967-68 amounting to $31,335,000 on various items relating to Capital Works and Services, Payments to or for the States and certain other Services. Although additional appropriations of $6.6m are sought for Capital Works and Services it is expected that after allowing for savings in other appropriations the total expenditure on Capital Works and Services will not exceed the Budget estimate of $515.8m. The major requirements are $500,000 for war service homes, $758,000 for acquisition of sites and buildings, $610,000 for expenditure of the National Capital Development Commission, $700,000 for construction of roads for the transport of beef cattle, $350,000 for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department for acquisition of sites and buildings and $442,000 for Broadcasting and Television Services. Additional appropriations of $3. 6m are sought for Payments to or for the States, including $3.4m for drought assistance in New South Wales. An additional amount of $21,143,000 is required for other services, the main item being $21 m for payment to industries in respect of losses arising from devaluation of sterling and other currencies. As I have mentioned this Bill provides for additional appropriations of $31,335,000. However, there will be savings in expenditure under other appropriations in Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1967-68 which will offset this to a considerable extent. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.

page 1119

SUPPLY BILL (No. 1) 1968-69

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation for proposed expenditure announced.

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

Second Reading

Treasurer · Lowe · LP

– I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill and the associated Supply Bill (No. 2) is to appropriate moneys to carry on the necessary normal services of the Government during the first 5 months of the financial year 1968-69. The total amount sought in this Bill is $1,119,110,000 comprising:

In general these amounts represent approximately five-twelfths of the 1967-68 appropriation and make no provision for new services. However, the amount of $460,382,000 for Defence Services makes provision for large contractual payments due in the first 5 months of the financial year. An amount of$20m is sought for an advanceto the Treasurer to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year, and to make moneys available to meet expenditure on services of the Government, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament.I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.

page 1120

SUPPLY BILL (No. 2) 1968-69

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation for proposed expenditure announced.

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

Second Reading

Mr McMahon:
Treasurer · Lowe · LP

[3.36] -I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate $250,268,000 for certain expenditures to carry on the necessary services of the Government for the first 5 months of 1968-69. The total amount sought comprises:

The amount for Capital Works and Services is required in general for the orderly continuation of works programmes. The amount of $20,000,000 sought for an Advance to the Treasurer is to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year, and to make moneys available to meet expenditures, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.

page 1120


Ministerial Statement

Minister for Immigration · Bruce · LP

– by leave - Mr Speaker, after exhaustive inquiry and discussion, the Immigration Advisory Council, which represents a broad cross section of the Australian community, recommended to me that some form of second assistance towards passage costs should be given to carefully selected migrants. The Governments considered this recommendation and decided that the serious human problems which confront many migrants who have returned to their homelands should be relieved by the provision of second passage assistance, where this is justified on the merits of the case. The decision is designed to meet human problems and not to add to the quantity of migrants in which respect we are already doing well. The decision follows the strong appeal on humanitarian grounds in letters written to myself and to the Department of Immigration and. the many inquiries made at our overseas posts from people who left Australia for compelling reasons beyond their control. These are not those who left because they were disgruntled or dissatisfied with this country, but people of quality who represent an asset to Australia.

Second assistance will be given only in carefully selected cases where migrants have demonstrated their potential to settle satisfactorily in Australia but who returned home in circumstances which are unlikely to recur. The assistance will, of course, be available only to those who do not have the financial resources to pay their own way back to Australia. It is expected that under the conditions which are to be applied many of those who would seek financial assistance from the Australian Government will not qualify for it. For example, a migrant who departed solely because of homesickness, the persuasion of relatives still living and similar factors, will not be eligible for second assistance, and people in the higher age groups, or who have been repatriated at Government expense, will be excluded. Academic studies and the experience of other governments indicate that in this age of international mobility many migrants who return home become successful settlers on second migration. These studies also indicate that many clearly desirable migrants who left Australia and wish to come here a second time are unable to do so because they cannot meet the full travel costs.

I believe that the availability of second assistance to carefully selected families will give us the opportunity to regain these people as valuable settlers. Appropriate safeguards will be applied, however, to ensure that these arrangements do not encourage departures from Australia for a visit In anticipation of second time assistance or result in abuses. People of the type we need here will not uproot their families on an unconfirmed expectation of some assistance to return in the future. Second assistance will be granted only to married couples and families. Single people, besides being more prone to use the original passage assistance for a working holiday, can reasonably be expected personally to finance second migration if they decide to come back.

Applications for second assistance will be approved only after investigation to establish: firstly, the reason for applicants returning to their country of origin; secondly, their experience since returning to that country; thirdly, their reason for seeking to re-migrate; fourthly, their individual prospects for employment and settlement generally if they were to return to Australia; fifthly, their need for financial assistance; sixthly, that there has been a demonstrable change in the conditions which prompted their departure from Australia.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– Could the Minister depart from the text to explain what is meant by the last point?


– Yes, 1 will explain it for the honourable member. A situation may exist in which a person who is perhaps an only child has married and has migrated with his family to Australia. Subsequently an elderly parent who remained in England may be widowed or left a widower and be in need of attention. There may be very compelling human reasons which require the son or daughter in Australia to return most reluctantly to his or her home country in order to look after that person. Then, after a period of time the aged person concerned may die and the person who was formerly here and was a happy citizen of Australia may very desperately wish to come back. This is the kind of situation described in many letters I have received. In dealing with these applications, more restrictive criteria than those which relate to first assisted passages will be applied strictly. I emphasise the word ‘strictly’.

Where second time passage assistance is approved the migrants will be required to pay more towards the passage costs than under the first assistance. Persons 19 years of age and over will contribute $180 each; family members under 19 years of age will, however, still make no contribution. Upon being granted second assistance, migrants will have to sign an undertaking to repay the amount of the passage assistance if they depart from Australia within 5 years of their arrival - compared with the 2 year period for those who receive first assistance.

In summary the Government has decided, for essentially human reasons, to give financial help to selected migrants who, although assisted previously, have shown that The are the kind of migrant Australia is anxious to have, that their success upon return here should be assured and that they intend to remain with us, given this second opportunity. We do not see this as a decision which will give us large numbers of returning migrants. Rather we expect only limited numbers, but those who do qualify should be people of undoubted quality at present confronted with problems of a very real human kind precipitated by circumstances over which they had very little control.

The Government has also recognised that the general case for granting second time assistance to migrants should also apply in certain instances to Australian families who in the past settled overseas and who would like to resume their lives in their home country but who cannot afford the fares to achieve this. Accordingly, in selected cases where otherwise these people would remain lost to Australia, passage assistance will be granted to them. This decision by the Government in respect of Australian citizens will also apply only to married couples and families. It will apply both to Australian born and to Australians by naturalisation or registration.

An example of the type of case in which we would be prepared to assist would be that of a young Australian who goes overseas, marries, has a family and is subject to the same influences and attractions to return to Australia as his neighbours in the community. He is no less entitled to the opportunity to do so.

Mr Daly:

– How long would he have to be away?


– I cannot say how long he would have to be away. This is the policy that will be adopted and it will be applied. It will be a case of whether or not the person has taken up permanent residence away from Australia and lives in a community in which his neighbour may be eligible for an assisted passage to Australia. At the moment because he is an Australian he is denied an assisted passage. That is the problem we are seeking to. solve. The criteria is whether he has taken up permanent residence in another country.

Factors to be taken into account in considering applications from Australians will include: whether their reasons for remaining away from Australia establish that they may otherwise be lost to Australia; their record abroad; their reasons for return to Australia and their bona fide intention to settle permanently; their need for financial assistance from official sources.

As in the case of migrants applying for second time assistance Australians will be required to contribute $180 if 19 years of age or over and family members under 19 will not be required to contribute towards passage costs. Special consideralion can be given, however to meet hardship cases. Australians granted this assistance will also be required to sign an undertaking to repay the. amount of assistance if they leave . Australia again within 5 years. People who come to Australia as assisted migrants, acquire Australian citizenship by naturalisation or registration, and then depart for permanent residence abroad, will come under the conditions applying to migrants who. receive a second assisted passage.

I emphasise that the special arrangement for Australians is only for people who need assistance to return and who. would otherwise be lost to Australia. I believe that the adoption of this policy will meet some of the very human problems which have been exposed to me by letters addressed to me by name from England and countries on the continent.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh)by leave - I congratulate the Government on the decision to give second assisted passages in the circumstances mentioned in the paper just presented by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden). During the 20 years I have been in this Parliament, the Ministry of Immigration has demonstrated its tremendous efficiency. What is more important, it has demonstrated its very deep understanding of the human problems which face people migrating from one side of the world to the other. I can never speak too highly of the officers of the Department of Immigration; nor have I ever been able to speak too highly of the Ministers for Immigration, whether they be the present Minister or his predecessors back to my former leader, the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell). The Ministers and the Department have always shown a very admirable understanding of the great human problems and tribulations that face some unfortunate people. This statement is a further example of such understanding. When I was overseas last year I had the opportunity, through the cooperation received from immigration officials, of seeing at first hand some of the problems which immigration officials have to contend with. One of the problems that I felt needed attention was the very one to. which, I am pleased to note, the Minister has attended; that is, that some proper consideration be given to people who, because they have been obliged to return to their homeland for special reasons, after the reasons forcing them to return have altered, desire to return to Australia.I know’ that money prevents us from being more lenient or more generous as to those who return to their homeland, and thus from including a greater number of people in the category of second passage assistance.

I am quite certain that in many cases the best migrant of all is the one who returns to bis homeland, gets his homesickness well out of his system and then, after 3, 4 or 6 months, is just as homesick for Australia as, before, he was homesick for the country of his birth. He comes here. He has fond memories of the place in which he was born and where he played as a child and went to school, and develops a terribly strong yearning to return to his homeland. Usually if he can return to his homeland and get a good eyeful of it and content himself, it is not long before he wants to get back to his other home - in this case, Australia.

Mr Snedden:

– If I may interrupt you, I am sure you understood from the statement that second assistance will not be available to such a person who is homesick.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

-I know. I was. saying that if we could afford it, it would be a good thing to extend our generosity to all such genuine cases. It is not possible yet, and probably it will not be possible, for us to give second assisted passages to people who return to their homeland through homesickness. This matter is particularly referred to in the statement. When I was in the Netherlands I had the good fortune to be able to discuss with the Minister for Emigration of that country this question of migrants returning to the Netherlands, not only from this country but from other countries. Some Dutch migrants find the pull back to their homeland so strong that in the end they succumb to it and return home. But in many cases - perhaps in 60% to 70% of cases - they want afterwards to return to their new homeland.

The Dutch Minister told me that bis Government would be willing to give serious consideration to making loans available to such people to return to the country from which they had come back, provided that some suitable arrangement could be entered into with, in our case, the Austral’ian Government for the collection of the cost of the second assisted passage, in instalments or by some other means. The Dutch Minister is an intelligent man and he realises that it is not an easy position. Once these people returned here it would be difficult for the Australian Government to deal with those who had defaulted. Nevertheless, I do not think the proposition ought to be dismissed out of hand as not being worthy of being followed up. I should like the Minister for Immigration to ask his departmental officers to give some thought to the possibility of accepting offers of this kind from countries which are willing to make them, so that people who wish to come to Australia a second time may borrow the cost of their fare from the host country or from the government of their native land. We could undertake, probably in some loose way, to be responsible for the collection and the refunding of the money to the other country.

However, that is an entirely different matter. It is not one that is dealt with in the statement. In fact, it is one that is especially excluded from the statement. I agree with the Minister that we cannot make this second passage assistance available to people who are just plain disgruntled and who probably would not be satisfied even during their second stay in Australia.

These are not the people we are out to help. I think it is proper that this type of person ought to be excluded from the provision of the assistance. The Minister covered this point when he said that the immigration authorities would have to establish, first of all, that a person seeking second passage assistance was not likely e-er to return permanently to the other country; that there was every likelihood, so far as it was possible for human inquiry to establish, that he would become a permanent resident of Australia.

Of course, it is not possible to lay down a cast iron rule in a case such as this, so the Minister has very properly given 5 years as the minimum time for which a recipient of second passage assistance must remain in Australia. If he left Australia before the end of the 5-year period he would be required to refund the money paid for his assisted return passage to Australia. 1 understand that that is the position, from a quick reading of the statement. It is a very proper provision. The cost of a first assisted passage is not refunded unless a person leaves within 2 years. A second assisted passage will have to be refunded if a recipient leaves within 5 years. No reasonable person could possibly quarrel with that provision. I think it is proper that appropriate safeguards should be taken.

I found that immigration officers abroad are not only extremely conscientious but also very sensible. They carry out Government policy almost to the letter. I say almost to the letter* because they depart from it - and it is not my intention to name the people or the places where I had the good fortune or pleasure to hear of these slight departures - when they feel that in special circumstances the justification for departure is so compelling that if it were discovered the Minister would be the first person to defend his officers for taking the initiative. The Minister for Immigration smiles, but I should like to think that he does not impose on his Department such a cast iron rule that a slight deviation from policy, where common sense demanded it, would not be justified. In other words, if we were to put a fine tooth comb through all the migrants who have come here, we would find that probably one or two of them have received second assisted passages. I say good luck to them. No-one would complain about it. If it was wrong, it is being rectified by what is contained in the statement now before the House.

Finally. 1 agree that it should not be left to departmental officers to judge willy-nilly and to interpret who should receive second assisted passages and who should not. There should be strict rules, and if these rules are to be departed from the Minister should be the one to authorise the departure. The Minister for Immigration has to exercise his ministerial discretion possibly more than most other Ministers. Providing strict rules or guide lines are laid down and that the officers abroad know that a borderline case can be sent to the Minister for personal consideration, then I think it it not necessary at this stage to dot every ‘i’ and cross every t’, because the Minister’s final power of discretion can always unravel a borderline case if it is felt that special circumstances justify that being done.

I am pleased to note that naturalised Australian citizens are to be treated in the same way as Australian citizens. As the Minister was reading the statement a particular case came to my mind. I should like to refer to it because it illustrates, I think, the point that the Minister has in mind. A naturalised Australian of Italian origin in my district was told by his doctor that his wife would have to return to Italy. She had been in a mental institution in South Australia for 3 or 4 years and she was craving to go back to her own part of southern Italy to see her friends. She was calling out for this all the time, until finally, on doctor’s advice, this man took his wife back to Italy. He gave way to what seemed to be a silly sort of proposition. This man took his wife back to Italy, and after 3 years I am pleased to say that the family has returned to Australia as a united, intact and completely healthy family. The unfortunate woman has regained her sanity and is now completely normal. Her husband and family are back in Australia and are very happy. However, the family was involved in a tremendous financial burden. This man has virtually been forced to start from scratch with a large family of six children in order to get over the financial shock involved in taking the trip back to bis home country and then back to Australia in order to cure his wife, the mother of his. children.

I say no more about the statement other than once- again to congratulate the Government on it. The statement shows that the Government recognises the great human problems of these people. All through the statement is a spirit of sympathy and complete understanding for these unfortunate people who, for certain reasons, find themselves drawn back to their original homeland and then, later, want to return to us. Everywhere in the statement one will see that special consideration is being given to cases involving hardship. The proposal outlined by the Minister is not drawn so tightly as” to be unworkable. Any special case can still be considered by the Minister, as happens with so many other migration matters. I compliment the Minister upon the proposal. It is to the credit of his Department that it has never waited until strong pressures from within Australia have built up in favour of reforms of this kind, because pressures within Australia on behalf of people outside Australia are not likely ever to reach the proportions necessary to achieve results. Here we have a department the officers of which act with a complete and thoroughly humane understanding of the problems of other people. I commend the officers of the Department. This Commonwealth is extremely lucky to have a department like the Department of Immigration. No other department in the Commonwealth acts so efficiently or with such great credit to its country as the Department of Immigration does. In my opinion this statement is further proof of that point.

Mr CHARLES JONES (Newcastle)by leave - I thank the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) and other honourable members for the opportunity to make a brief comment on this statement. I join with the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) in congratulating the Minister and the Government on having brought forward this scheme of second assisted passages. At this stage I issue a warning to the Minister. As he is aware, today many people overseas treat our assisted passages scheme as a means by which they can have a 2-year working holiday. They come to Australia, work for 2 years, and then pack up and. return home. Nevertheless, I believe that the scheme is worth a gamble because many people come to Australia, find that it is not such a bad place and decide to stay on. Although we may lose some migrants who. return to their homeland, at the same time we gain quite a number.

My reason for rising was to make a plea to the Minister to give further consideration to his decision to reject applications for a second assisted passage from people who have returned to their homeland because of homesickness. The honourable member for Hindmarsh cited what was obviously a pathetic case. I cannot mention a similar case, but from my own personal experience in industry and from my contact with people I am aware of numerous cases in which a man has brought his wife and family to Australia, the wife has had an urge to go back home to visit relatives and has disliked Australia and the husband, in order to preserve peace in the family, has agreed to return home. But after reaching their homeland the wife found that the people whom she believed to be her friends were the people whom she had left behind in Australia. She found that the people who had been her friends before coming to Australia had moved into new age groups and had made new friends. She felt that she was an outsider in her own country.

Mr Chaney:

– We could have an Australian wanting to come home if he is homesick in England.

Mr Charles Jones:

– England does not want migrants whereas Australia does. This is the point that I am trying to make. I have found that migrants who have came back into industry have become good citizens. They have blended in with Australians and have realised that this is the country that they want to live in. Consequently I make a strong appeal to the Minister to give further consideration to second assisted passages being made available to people who have returned to their homeland because of homesickness.If the Minister cannot or is not prepared to do something about my suggestion, I join with the honourable member for Hindmarsh in suggesting that interest-free loans or loans at a very low rate of interest be made available to persons seeking a second assisted passage in order to test their sincerity. The loans could involve some form of recompense or repayment and work in much the same way as do home savings grants. Perhaps if an applicant saved a certain sum he could be eligible for a certain loan. Surely the Government could devise a scheme whereby people could have loans rebated over a period of years. These matters are worth considering in the case of people who have returned to their homeland but who have since wanted to come back to Australia.

The honourable member for Hindmarsh referred to an Italian family. Recently I had experience of a Dutch family whose friends in Australia approached me. They wrote to me and asked whether there was some way in which they could get back to Australia on a second assisted passage. They wanted to know whether there was some way in which they could get the necessary money to come out to Australia again. Unfortunately they had to borrow money through the money sharks - the money lenders - and they are now repaying that money at a high rate of interest. These are some of the things that the Minister could look at. On their second attempt to settle in Australia these people invariably make better citizens than they did the first time.

page 1125


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 4 April (vide page 840), on motion by Mr Hulme:

That the Bill be now read a second time.


-I am very pleased to have the opportunity to say a few words about the proposed amendments to the Overseas Telecommunications Act 1946-66. The purpose of this Bill seems to be to bring the Act up to date. It deletes reference to the island of Nauru in the Overseas Telecommunications Commission’s charter, that island now having secured its independence. Clause 6 removes the restriction on the employment of married women and brings the legislation into line with the Public Service Act which was recently amended for that purpose. The period for which the Commission may enter into a lease of land without Government approval has been extended from 5 years to 10 years. There are other amendments about which I should like to say a word or two a little later.

In the debate on the Post and Telegraph Bill the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) spoke strongly against the Opposition’s amendment to appoint a select committee to inquire into the desirability and practicability of removing the Post Office from the administrative influence of the Public Service Board and establishing a public corporation to control the business of the Post Office. All that we proposed was that a select committee should be set up; our amendment had nothing to do with whether or not a corporation should be set up. Although the Postmaster-General is opposed even to a select committee being set up for this purpose, he has accepted the desirability of a commission being established to control telecommunications to and from Australia. That body is closely associated with the Post Office. The report of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission for the year ended 31st March 1967 contains a few references which in my opinion are very important. I propose to draw attention to them. On page 2 under a heading ‘About OTC the report states:

The Commission, a corporate body of the Commonwealth of Australia, created by the Overseas Telecommunications Act, 1946, is directed by five Commissioners appointed by the GovernorGeneral for three years with eligibility for reappointment.

It is responsible for the establishment, maintenance and operation of telecommunications services between Australia and other countries, with shipping to and between Australia’s external Territories.

In association with the Post Office within Australia and communication carriers in other Commonwealth and foreign countries, the Commission provides public message telegram services to 257, telephone to 172, telex to 106, phototelegram to 33 and leased circuit services to 21 countries and places throughout the world.

Through the Commission, Australia is one of the major international telecommunications countries and is a substantial owner of world-wide communications facilities. Net fixed assets exceed $42 million. The Commission has a 25 per cent share in the COMPAC Cable, a 28 per cent share in the SEACOM Cable and with a 2.5 per cent share is the sixth largest shareholder in the international Telecommunications Satellite Consortium (INTELSAT).

At March 3.1 , 1967, the Commission employed 1,421 people.

We know that the Post Office employs nearly 100,000:

It operated establishments, including an Overseas Telecommunications Terminal at Paddington, New South Wales . . .

And so on. Further on the Report states:

The Commission appoints its own staff with a General Manager as the Chief Executive Officer. It determines its own conditions of service.

I want to emphasise this statement because of the debate we had earlier in this session about a proposed select committee to investigate the Post Office. In another part of the Report, under the heading ‘The year in brief, the Commission refers to revenue and it states:

There was considerable growth in the Commission’s operations in 1966-1967 both in new facilities and in the means of communication, with the expansion of the international cable and radio networks, of the coastal radio system and with entry into the new medium of international communications by satellite.

Revenue increased by 24 per cent to $18.8 million and the net profit after all charges rose by 44 per cent to $5.8- million.

The Commission also refers to finance:

Total revenue increased by 24 per cent from $15.1 million to $18.8 million, expenditure by 17 per cent from $11 million to $12.9 million, and net profit by 44 per cent from $4 million to $5.8 million. The sharp rise in profit reflects the continuing growth in demand for telecommunications services and return on the substantial capital invested in recent years on modern telecommunications facilities.

The trend in modern telecommunications is toward large scale capital expenditure on broadband systems. Because of the need to develop such systems, mostly in partnership with other Commonwealth countries, it was necessary during the year for the Commission to draw a further $3.4 million in Treasury advances.

These funds, together with other internal funds and the profit of $5.8 million provided the capital necessary for system development. Re-investment of profits was made under the provisions of Section 48 of the Overseas Telecommunications Act in accordance with a direction by the PostmasterGeneral with the concurrence of the Treasurer.

All those points are very important in respect of the other debate we had on the Post Office. I come now to page 23 of the Report and what the Commission said about industrial relations:

Staff Rules, which prescribe the conditions of service were reviewed, a number of Rules revised, and new Rules added.

There were several salary increases following decisions by the Arbitration Commission, the Public Service Arbitrator and the Commission. All categories of employment within the Commission’s service were affected by the National Wage Cases.

Harmonious relations continued between Management and the Associations representing staff interests, making it possible for industrial problems to be resolved by negotiation.

I refer to this matter because, as the PostmasterGeneral knows, these are some of the arguments we used in the earlier debate in which we asked for the appointment of a select committee to report upon whether the Post Office should be controlled by a public corporation.

There are a few points I want to raise regarding some matters dealt with in the Bill and the effect that they could have on industrial relations. The Postmaster-General is aware that the Australian Council of Trade Unions is concerned with the effects of some of the clauses of the Bill. I propose to draw attention to them. For instance, clause 5 amends section 18 of the Act. It fixes the maximum salary payable to officers of the Commission, other than the general manager, at $7,500. The ACTU and the unions associated with the Overseas Telecommunications Commission consider this amount to be inadequate. They consider the figure should be about $15,000. They point out that the amount of $7,500 does not represent a proper assessment of the value to be placed on executive and senior executive positions within the service. As a matter of fact, having regard to the salaries now being paid and the claims of the Professional Radio Employees Institute, which are the subject of current negotiations, the ACTU feels that the figure of $7,500, if it is included in the legislation, may inhibit and restrict the area of negotiations and certain claims that may be made. It feels this provision could be used in subsequent arbitration proceedings. I feel certain that the Postmaster-General will be able to clear up this point to the satisfaction of the unions, judging by conversations I have had with him about it, and I ask him to do so.

Clause 7 of the Bill relates to another matter which has been raised by the ACTU. It proposes to omit these words from section 27 of the Act: (not being :in officer to whom sub-section (lj.) or (12.) of section eighteen of this Act applies).

The ACTU considers . that any rights affected by such proposed amendments, or any amendments which would remove any r ignis or benefits recognised in respect of any of the acquired officers whose previous service with Amalgamated Wireless Ltd or Cable and Wireless Ltd, would be strongly objected to by the trade unions. It wants these people to be protected. It feels the Unions would object to the discontinuance of such rights and benefits, or benefits becoming affected by the omission of these words. The ACTU feels this would be the result of the omission of these words. On behalf of the ACTU we of the Opposition seek assurances from the PostmasterGeneral that any officer of the Commission who had any right, entitlement or benefit accruing will not be disadvantaged as a result of the proposed amendment to section 27.

Clause 8 of the Bill affects section 33 of the Act and deals with the deletion of the word ‘appoint* and the substitution of the word “engage’. This has created some doubt. If it is intended by this proposed amendment to restrict or limit the obligations of the Commission to ‘appoint’ a person to the service and to ‘engage’ a person for an idenfinite period as a temporary or unappointed employee, then the trade unions and the ACTU strongly object to such insertion of a provision in the Act. The Professional Radio Employees Institute has advised that the PostmasterGeneral, in his second reading speech, gave no explanations of the reasons for the proposed amendments to sections 27 and 33. Therefore we seek from the PostmasterGeneral explanations and assurances as to the intention of the amendments to those two sections. We seek assurances that they will not operate to the detriment of any of the currently employed personnel. We seek assurances that the amendments will not restrict, limit or deny to any of the presently employed temporary staff prospects of appointment to the service of the Commission. I ask -the Minister to be good enough to refer to the matters that I have raised.

Clause 16 of the Bill deletes section 77 of the principal Act and inserts a new section 77. This clause requires some explanation. The Professional Radio Employees Institute raises no objection to sub-sections (1.), (2.), (3.) and (4.) of proposed new section 77; but it sees a danger in subsection (5.),- which could be construed, as a result of the amended terminology, as imposing upon the Commission, at the request of the Director of Posts and Telegraphs, an obligation for the Commission, its officers and employees to carry out work normally handled by personnel of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department for reasons other than a breakdown of facilities, disaster or circumstances of national emergency. What the Institute has in mind specifically is an industrial dispute. Tt is felt also that under sub-section (5.) of proposed new section 77, following an interruption to services under the control of the Postmaster-General’s Department, resulting from an industrial dispute between telegraphists and the Department, members of the Professional Radio Employees Institute employed by the Overseas Telecommunications Commission could be required to carry out work within the internal areas of the Commonwealth and thus be used to defeat the claims of other unions. Members of the Institute fear that they could be involved in a great deal of expense if disputes of this kind arose.. The Institute feels that the deletion of the words ‘landlines interruption’ and their replacement by the words ‘an interruption to services’ leaves the interpretation of what is an interruption to services open for the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs to define as he sees fit. I would like the Postmaster-General to clear up those matters. From conversations that we have had I think they could be cleared up satisfactorily

Clause 12 of the Bill increases from $40,000 to $100,000 the maximum value of property which the Commission may purchase or dispose of. At a later date that amount could be further increased by regulation. This clause has some bearing on a matter that I raised in this place last May. I refer to the purchase of 724 acres of land at Gnangara in Western Australia for a project being undertaken on behalf of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission. More than $108,800 of Commonwealth money was lost in regaining possession of the land for the Gnangara wireless project. This terriffic loss has created a lack of confidence in the Commonwealth department responsible for this bad deal. In saying that I do not refer necessarily to the Commission, but somebody was at fault. In an editorial on 10th May 1967 the ‘West Australian’ stated:

The excuse that the Gnangara land was not offered to the Commission, when the Army no longer needed it, because the OTC is a statutory body and not a Commonwealth department, shows an extraordinary lack of liaison at Canberra.

Land dealings giving a private person more than S60 per cent profit in just over 12 months and still held to be based on a fair valuation at the time show a lack of proper concern for the use of taxpayers’ funds.

However, the basis of Mr Hulme’s calculations is unsatisfactory. Public confidence, shaken by the OTC disclosures and by the scale of the unheralded increase in charges at a time of widespread service complaints, needs to be restored by a thorough inquiry into the whole system of Post Office finances.

I have raised this matter previously and still have not had a satisfactory reply. This is why I am raising it again. The Commonwealth lost $108,800 in a few months. The 320 acres involved are part of a 724-acre site near Gnangara Lake in Western Australia. The whole of this land was owned by the Commonwealth for 13 years before it was sold in 1966 for $19,200. The loss to which I have referred was incurred in regaining possession for the Overseas Telecommunications Commission. The Commonwealth originally acquired the 320 acres in 1952 for $3,200 from Michael Georgeff and a merchant named Korsunski. In January 1966 the Commonwealth sold the land to Dr Carl Georgeff for $19,200. In May 1966 the Commission paid $128,000 for the 320 acres. It also purchased the remainder of the 724 acres, which is in three separate titles. The total cost of the Gnangara project has been estimated at $2,225,000. I repeat that the PostmasterGeneral, has never satisfactorily explained this bad deal.

I ask him now to say how the price of the 320 acres of Gnangara land could increase by 566% in 151 months - from the time the Commonwealth sold it until it repurchased the land. Why was Mr Korsunski, one of the original owners of the land, overlooked when the Commonwealth sold the land early in 1966 to the son of his deceased partner? Those are two matters that should be answered. The Postmaster-General should know the answers because these matters were raised more than 12 months ago. Mr Korsunski was joint owner of the property with the late Michael Georgeff. After the Commonwealth acquired the land in 1952 and then found that it had no use for it, it contracted to sell the land for $19,200 to Dr Carl Georgeff, son of one of the original owners. The Commonwealth repurchased the land from him a few months later for S 1 28.000.

This House has not been told the full story about this deal. It is entitled to be fully informed on the matter. I do not want the Postmaster-General to say that he will not deal with a matter that should be raised in the debate on the Estimates, because I raised this matter last year during the debate on the Estimates and did not get a satisfactory reply. That is why I am taking the opportunity to raise it again now. I urge the Postmaster-General to deal with the matters I have raised, namely the purchase of land for the Gnangara project and the matters that have been referred to by the ACTU.


– The honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) said that the Overseas Telecommunications Commission was an example of a statutory corporation of the kind which could be set up to operate the Post Office. As he did in a debate last week, the honourable member advocated transforming the Post Office into a statutory body. There is no basis for comparing the Post Office with the Overseas Telecommunications Commission because the Commission is a strictly technical body having virtually no direct dealings with the public, whereas the Post Office deals directly with the public and has responsibilities covering a multitude of facets of service to the community. The success of the Commission indicates that the Government has been wise in selecting for it the present form of administration. The type of structure selected for the administration of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission is tailor made for the circumstances in which the Commission operates. Anyone who wishes to have first-hand evidence of the successful administration of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission and of just how efficient it is should pay a visit to Moree, where the first earth station in Australia for commercial communications from a satellite went into operation on 29th March last, when the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) opened this new service. Anyone who visits that station will be impressed not only by the efficiency of the Commission and its officers but also by the fact that with this step we have moved into a new era in communications. The earth station at Moree is, in relation to future developments with satellite communications, in very much the same position as skyrockets are to intercontinental ballistic missiles. We know that this is a new venture in a totally new field, and therefore that it is quite elementary, and that in the course of very little time indeed there will be some tremendous, quite radical developments in this field. Already we can see the trend of these developments.

In 1965 the chairman of the Radio Corporation of America, Brigadier General David Sarnoff, forecast that satellite communication would enable us to receive telephone communications, radio broadcast and television entertainment via satellite in our own homes, at small cost. This is the way in which we can expect developments to move in the next few years, and it is for us in Australia now to contemplate this prospect and to make our plans accordingly. We do not want to be caught as we were caught with the introduction of broadcasting in Australia. We do not want to repeat the mistakes which we made at that time and which subsequently have denied Australians the advantage of frequency modulation broadcasting, a benefit which is enjoyed by people in the United States of America and in Europe but has been prevented in Australia because we got off on the wrong foot with broadcasting. We do not want to make similar mistakes with this new form of satellite communications. We can see the trend and we should be planning now to meet the need when it arises, to provide Australia with the most efficient communications system possible.

The element of cost enters into this. We are a country of vast size and small population and we cannot afford, perhaps, the kind or scale of communications that the United States can afford. However, if we plan carefully, if we go into it thoroughly, I am sure we will be able to find adaptations to the system suitable for our needs in Australia. We must measure the costs - there will be costs - against the advantages that will accrue to us and also against those savings that will accrue by the elimination of land lines, perhaps, or the ground stations that we have at the present time.

Since General Sarnoff made his prediction in 1965 that we would have this type of direct satellite-to-domestic receiver communication, there has been quite a controversy in the United States. That country has an organisation equivalent to the Australian Overseas Telecommunications Commission. It is the Communications Satellite Corporation, commonly known as COMSAT, and it is geared to international communications and not to domestic communications. However, it has yielded to pressure and has put forward a plan to provide America with domestic communications via satellite. It is proposing to put up a satellite in 1969 to provide a number of expensive ground stations with signals. An argument is waging quite fiercely in the United States as to whether this is a useful step or whether in fact it is heading in a completely wrong direction. There are strong advocates for the proposal that General Sarnoff put forward, that instead of feeding signals back from a satellite to an expensive ground station and feeding them out from the ground station by microwave or landline or radiating them from a broadcasting station, satellites should be powered to enable them to broadcast direct from space to domestic receivers. It is estimated that the cost of adaptation of a domestic receiver would be about $100 if this system were put into effect.

However, there is strong resistance to this idea in the United States. COMSAT does not want it, evidently because the pressure groups in the United States which stem from the heavy investment that has already been made in land lines and in broadcasting stations favour the first proposal, that satellites should feed ground stations, which in turn should feed the existing network. But the Americans’ hand will be forced in this matter, and this is quite evident because the Russians and the Japanese, who are well advanced technically in this field, have no such local pressures to influence their judgment, and they are going flat out for direct satellitetodomestic receiver communication. If America stays out of this race, if it is sidetracked by COMSAT or by the pressure groups, it will be well behind and will be in the position of having signals transmitted from Russia, or from Japan for that matter, via satellite to domestic receivers within the United States. We in Australia will be in the same position, because these signals will be freely available to anybody who puts up the $100 to fit his set with the proper adaptors. Therefore, America will have to go in for this form of communication, and it will have to do this quite rapidly; it will have to move within the next couple of years. I quote from an article which appeared in ‘Fortune’ magazine of October last year. The words that General Sarnoff used in bis address in 1965, which I have referred to, were, according to the article, these:

Developments are too radical in their nature, and the pace at which they come is too swift, for the past to serve as an effective prelude to the communicating future. We must look for entirely new procedures, attuned to the realities of the spage agc.

Within a decade, and possibly less,’ said Sarnoff, ‘I believe it will be technically feasible to broadcast directly into the home from synchronous satellites. All of the basic components and technology already exist. . . .

That was a prediction made in 1965, and since then there has been quite substantial progress in the other countries, although for the reasons I have stated, there is some hitch in the United States. The article in Fortune’ which contains General Sarnoff’s words also says:

Canada is considering a $80m plan to build its own domestic satellite system without delay. . . .

Japan is actively weighing a satellite system of its own to link its sprawling, mountainous islands, more economically than expensive cable and microwave-relay lines. Its electronics industry, second only to that of the United States, is reported to be but a year or two away from having a direct-broadcasting satellite technically in hand.

Later the article states:

At the same time, the Soviet Union, which is not a party to Intelsat, has been busy. It launched its first communication satellite … in 1965.

It now has five communication satellites serving the domestic scene in Russia. The article continues:

The USSR meanwhile is also working on synchronous direct-broadcasting satellites, which are particularly applicable to its far flung territories and appealing to its totalitarian nature, for they would enable it eventually to reach directly into almost any region of the earth.

I will not quote any more of the article; I have said sufficient to show that we in Australia must reckon with the pace of change in satellite communication. We cannot sit back quietly and calmly, as we did with television, and watch developments in other countries.

We will be faced in the next few years with a situation in which we will be able to receive directly in our own homes signals transmitted from Japan or Russia and pos.sibly from other countries and to do so we will need to -make only a very small change to our present receiving sets. This will affect us quite closely. It is time that we looked at the total subject very carefully and made whatever preliminary arrangements we can. The use of satellites to provide communications by television or by broadcasting will mean entering the ultra high frequency range and using frequency modulation broadcasting. We have resisted this in Australia, but it may be wise for us to licence some frequency modulation stations operating in the ultra high frequencies. In that way we will be ready for the invasion of these signals from space in the next few years. This will apply, particularly to colour television. When we do introduce colour television in Australia, we could concentrate on ensuring that it uses the ultra high frequency bands. Similarly, with telephone communications and telex we should be preparing now for the invasion of satellite signals.

We should consider the, organisation that we must set up in Australia when we in our turn are in a position to put up a satellite for use with our own communications here. We should consider how such a satellite will be financed and how we can establish co-ordination between the various interests that will be Involved. I have in mind the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the commercial broadcasting stations. We must consider how this will tie in with the Overseas Telecommunications Commission, which deals with foreign communications. These matters should be considered now. 1 am amazed that so little has appeared in the Press on this subject. In fact, I have not read any authoritative article on this subject in the Australian Press. I am amazed that the subject has been neglected, because it is of vital significance to a country as vast as Australia is. Communications of all kinds here are of pressing importance. I trust that the Postmaster-General will give the matter his urgent consideration.

PostmasterGeneral · Petrie · LP

– in reply - The Opposition has referred to several clauses of the Bill and has sought an explanation of them. The first of these is clause 5, which increases a figure from $5,000 to $7,500. Salaries above this level must have the Minister’s approval. I do not quite understand the suggestion of the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) that the trade union movement has asked for this figure to be increased considerably to $15,000. This is getting very close to the salary range of the second level of permanent heads in the Commonwealth and would create an anomaly. In relation to all persons other than the head of the Department, there should be negotiation between the employer and the employee. We do not have the normal Public Service situation in the Overseas Telecommunications Commission. We have an unusual situation in that the Com? mission has the right to fix the salaries of the members of the staff. It could, therefore, except in relation to the General Manager, fix a level of salary that goes to the limit if there is not some point at which the Minister has authority.

What we are doing in the Bill is to create a situation similar to that in other areas. The Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies and the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation all require that, above a certain level of salary- I think it is $7,500- <the approval of the Minister is necessary. What we are doing in this situation is to throw responsibility for the salaries on to the person who has the final responsibility for the authority and that is the Minister. How: ever, we appreciate that most employees in any organisation are below this level and we leave the Public Service Board or, in this instance, the Commission to determine the level of salaries for these people. It is right that the Minister should be responsible1 for the higher salaries. We could pick any figure. Whether it be $7,000, $7,500 or $8,000 does not make a great deal of difference, but we have chosen $7,500 as a reasonable figure: We have also suggested that, as salaries generally rise over the years, we increase the amount by regulation.

The honourable member for Stirling also referred to clause 7 of the Bill. This relates to section 27 of the Act and provides:

Section 27 of the Principal Act is amended by - omitting the words ‘(not being an officer to whom sub-section (11.) or (12.) of section eighteen of this Act applies)’.

Clause 27 of the Act will then read:

Unless the Commission, in any particular case, otherwise directs, the appointment of every officer shall be on probation for a period not exceeding twelve months and the appointment may be terminated by the Commission at any time during that period. lt is sometimes well to be reminded of the manner in which an organisation such as the Overseas Telecommunications Commission commenced operations. In the early days Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd conducted all overseas wireless operations. Cable and Wireless Ltd, a private company, operated a cable system out of Australia. These were taken over many years ago by the Commonwealth. This was at the time when the Overseas Telecommunications Commission was set up. In this transition it was necessary to provide that the servants of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd or Cable and Wireless Ltd be protected as Commonwealth servants. I am sure the honourable member for Stirling will appreciate that there is now no need for that protection as there are no appointments of Cable and Wireless Ltd servants being made today and it is unlikely that we will take over, other than in the normal course of operations, any individuals from a private company. They would come to the Commission in the normal course of events and it would not be a matter of protecting the employment that they had at the time of take over. Therefore, these particular words, if left in the Act, would be redundant.

The honourable member referred also to clause 8, which is a small amendment proposed to section 33 of the Act by replacing the word ‘appoint’ with the word engage’. The section at present uses the word ‘appoint’ in relation to temporary employees, but this term is usually applied to permanent officers and not to temporary officers. Section 33 at present provides:

The Commission may appoint such temporary or casual employees as it thinks fit.

We believe that the word ‘engage’ is more appropriate when applied to temporary officials; that is the reason for the amendment.

Clause 12 proposes to raise from $40,000 to $100,000 the amount that can be spent on the purchase of property or the amount that can be received on the sale of property by members of the Commission without the necessity for the Minister’s approval. I am sure that .most honourable members will agree that the values of all types of property have increased tremendously over the past 10 or 20 years, and also that the Commission’s responsibilities have increased substantially. In these circumstances one can envisage that the amount of ordering, for instance, done by the Commission has increased considerably. It is believed that the value of $40,000 some years ago is comparable with about $100,000 today.

I believe it is unnecessary for me to comment further than I have in the past in relation to Gnangara in Western Australia. I merely say that the Overseas Telecommunications Commission owned a substantial block of land in Western Australia which was purchased about 50, 60 or 70 years ago for the purposes of the Commission. As years went by the city of Perth was built out towards this area and considerable interference to communications made it necessary for the Commission to move out further. The land in question was sold to the Western Australian Government for recreation purposes, and the Overseas Telecommunications Commission, in a normal commercial operation, purchased land at Gnangara, which is much further out from Perth, at a location where interruption is not expected for perhaps two or three centuries. The original purchase of the land near Perth, its sale, and the Gnangara purchase by the Overseas Telecommunications Commission has been a matter for the Minister for the Interior rather than myself. Although I was given some details, I do not have them with me at the moment. At the same time, I believe that what was done by the Overseas Telecommunications Commission - this is what I am concerned with and what the debate is about - was a norma] business transaction, and the Commission has benefited considerably from its earlier purchase. Whether it paid too much for the Gnangara land or not, the advice that the Commission received at the time of purchase was that this was the current market value of the land. Therefore, it was an appropriate and proper business transaction.

The honourable member for Stirling referred to sub-section (5) of proposed new section 77, which states:

Where the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs requests the Commission to do so by reason of an interruption to services under the control of the Postmaster-General’s Department, the Commission shall transmit telegrams from or receive telegrams at stations operated by the Commission, subject to payment of reasonable charges to the Commission by the Commonwealth.

The honourable member suggested that, if this provision were included in the Act, an alternative service would be available in the event of an industrial dispute. I assure the honourable member that nothing of the sort is contemplated, for I believe it would be impossible for the facilities of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission adequately to handle the normal telegram and telegraph traffic of the Post Office. This is neither a strike-breaking operation nor an operation to deal with an industrial dispute. This arrangement has been operating over a long period of years, and this provision in the Bill is merely to clarify the legislation.

I believe there is no need for me to comment on the other matters that have been raised. The honourable member for Gwydir again mentioned frequency modulation broadcasting. However, I have said that I would make a statement to the House during this session, and I believe I shall still make that statement, which will give an opportunity to all honourable members who are interested to offer their views on frequency modulation broadcasting.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Hulme) read a third time.

page 1133


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 4th April (vide page 842) on motion by Mr Hulme:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Melbourne Ports

– This is the third Bill of a series dealing with the Post Office and its allied undertakings, and in some respects many of the arguments were traversed in the debate last week. However, in the first place I intimate that the Opposition does not oppose the Bill. Like the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme), I believed many years ago when we were serving together on the Public Accounts Committee that it was a rather silly arrangement for the Budget to be inflated on both sides - on one side showing all the revenue of the Post Office from such things as postage and telephones, and on the other side showing the details of expenditure for the same services. We believed that, in essence, what should have been shown were the net profit and loss figures and the applications for capital. As I understand it, that is the purpose of the Bill with which we are now dealing. Indeed, when the Minister introduced the measure he gave us an example of how, in future, the items will appear - in what he called a single line item, with the appropriation in the Budget being the difference between expenditure on capital works and operating costs on the one hand and, on the other hand, 1 believe the Minister implied that this would not in any way lessen the ability of members to criticise the operations of the Post Office or to seek information upon its operations, either during finance debates or during question time.

It is rather peculiar how the finances of the Post Office have operated since the passage of the original Post and Telegraph Act in 1901, when the Post Office was one of the items of administration taken over from the States. It was recognised at that time that this was a branch of administration that would be better handled on a national, federal or Commonwealth basis, rather than having six separate State Post Offices.

The provision that seems to me to govern the finances of the Post Office is contained in the simple section 65 of the Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1966. The section reads:

All moneys collected on account of the sale of postage stamps commission charges fees penalties and other dues levied collected or received under this Act or the regulation shall be paid to the Treasurer of the Commonwealth and placed to the credit of the Consolidated Revenue Fund: Provided that fines inflicted upon officers of the Department under section ninety-five shall be disposed of in such a manner as the Governor-General shall direct.

Apparently there was some separation of the moneys in relation to disciplinary charges; otherwise everything went into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. It is interesting to see, from that section which apparently was adopted from section 132 of the Queensland Post arid Telegraph Act 1891,. how simple the Post Office was in those’ days. All that was referred to in that section was the sale of postage stamps, commission charges, fees, penalties and other dues. No mention was made in those days of the telephone and scarcely was mention made of the telegram. Certainly nothing whatever appeared about television and broadcasting. - Now, it is proposed to. insert a’ new -financial clause into the Post and Telegraph Act. I refer to. proposed new section 96a, which appears as ‘Part IVa.- Finance’. I commented the other evening that it is rather odd to find where this proposed new section will .be inserted. Section 96 of .the Act reads:

Any person employed under the authority of the Postmaster-General may refuse to receive ‘ or transmit a telegram containing blasphemous indecent obscene offensive or scandalous matter in its contents address or signature.

Immediately after section 96 will be inserted proposed new. section 96a in a new part of the Act entitled ‘Part IVa- Finance’. I think that in many respects it . is rather absurd that such an insertion needs to be made in this way. Some provision ought to be made for renumbering the sections of Acts or for allowing such provisions to be inserted in their own right, as it were, and in this case certainly elsewhere than between a section dealing with obscene telegrams and a section dealing with regulations in general.

Be that as it may, it seems to me that the interesting part of the amendment is proposed new section 96h. This section provides: (1.) In the administration of this Act in relation to the Post Office services, the Postmaster-General shall pursue .a policy directed towards achieving in respect pf each financial year, in respect of those Services, such financial results as the Postmaster-Genera], with the concurrence of the Treasurer, determines.

It is about this matter of the overall financial result of the Post Office that I wish to have something to say.

I remember that in the days when this matter was discussed by the Public Accounts Committee what is now the Se letter rate was 2id or 3d. I recall asking the question: Why was it thought that a letter should cost 2id or 3d? Why was it thought that so many ounces of airmail should go at one rate and that so many pounds of parcels should go at another rate? Why were concessions given on certain classes of mail, telegrams and so on? One was always forced back to the answer that this was a matter of government policy. I think that everybody realises that even though in a fine analysis it may be regarded as a matter of government policy nevertheless some attention was paid to what were called the overall results of the Post Office on a commercial basis. I think that the Post Office, like any other undertaking, hopes by virtue of all its transactions to have enough money from its revenues to meet its costs. Whilst actual charges were a matter of policy, apparently the matter of matching revenue and expenditure was what called for the exercise of ingenuity by the Post Office.

When the Minister introduced this measure, he seemed to suggest that what is being done will provide for the first time the Post Office with a business charter. I am quite sure that he did not mean in any sense by that statement that in earlier years the Post Office operated in an unbusinesslike fashion without what he calls a business charter. I am a great admirer of the Post Office and its efficiency. I am also one who does not believe that earning a profit should be the only criterion or determinant of efficiency. I think that there are other ways of measuring the efficiency of an organisation than by establishing whether or not it makes a profit. After all, making a profit simply means charging more for the services performed than those services cost. The argument whether that difference can be elevated to a virtue and then called efficiency seems to me to have a lot of undistributed middle term in it. I submit that there are other ways than making a profit to determine whether an undertaking is efficient.

I concede that what the Minister raid is that the new method will enable the Post Office to be somewhat more flexible within its financial arrangements. Again, flexible is a term that lends itself to a certain amount of elasticity, I suggest, but an organisation can be flexible wide or flexible narrow. I hope that the Post Office will be flexible narrow rather than flexible wide. 1 wish to relate my remarks to proposed new section 96h because the other evening the Minister took me to task when I suggested to him that he - not my side of the House - made a reference to the 8% net earning to which the British Post Office works. I notice that the latest broadsheet from the Department of Economic Affairs in Great Britain, No. 36 for January 1968, is devoted to the subject ‘Guidelines for the Nationalised Industries’. Whereas the Post Office is supposed to earn 8% net generally, the publication in a footnote points out:

New targets for the Post Office have recently been set: For postal services, 2% surplus on expenditure (after depreciation and interest), and for telecommunications, 8i% on net assets (after depreciation at historic cost).

What I had pointed out- -and this argument was raised during the debate upon whether the Post Office should be reconstituted not as a government department but as some new breed of animal called a corporation, to which the Minister suggested by implication that such a corporation might be expected to earn 8% net - was that already the Post Office was being forced to earn 5% net or, to be more precise, 4.983% net. In his reply - of course I do not have the right of reply in a debate as the Minister does - he suggested that this was not quite true because the Post Office had actually made a loss of about $21 m, and therefore, in essence, the Post Office had not earned the 5%. With all respect to the Postmaster-General, I suggest that this is really a bit of a quibble because after all he has already altered the charges pf the Post Office so that that $21m loss will be converted into at least a breakeven figure. The objective will still be to allow the Post Office in terms of capital employed in it to have a net return of about 5%.

I want to point out what might be called a certain amount of cross-financing which goes on in regard to Post Office charges.

During the current session my colleague, the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb), has asked questions 689 and 703 relating to the overall results of the Post Office. I think these questions were mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) the other evening. In reply to these questions the Postmaster-General said as reported at page 790 of Hansard of 4th April:

  1. The losses incurred in 1966-67 on the four domestic mail categories are estimated to be:

Letters . . . . $1 million

The Post Office almost broke even with revenue of about S70m and handling costs of S71m. The Postmaster-General continued that other losses were estimated as follows:

This made an aggregate loss of $20m. I think the latest accounts show that on a commercial basis these losses amount to §21 m. The Postmaster-General also stated in answer to the question asked by the honourable member for Stirling:

  1. The new postal rates introduced on 1st October 1967 are estimated to increase annual revenue as follows:

It can be seen that this gives an increase in revenue of about $24m as against the losses of $2lm. Of course, there may have been some adjustments in costs, but that is not the point I wish to make at this stage. I am suggesting that the ordinary letter service of the Post Office that almost broke even is to cost the public another SI 6m. In my view, this indicates that this section of the undertaking will make a profit and that that profit will be used to subsidise some other activity of the Post Office. This is what is called cross-financing. I would like to say a few words about this subject. It seems to me that in statements issued from time to time by the PostmasterGeneral and the Government we should be given some information about this crossfinancing.

A colleague of mine from the Geelong district was disturbed the other day to find that some alterations that were being made in a kind of telephone exchange that was being installed in the district were to cost about $50,000. Although about sixty subscribers were not asked to pay any part of this $50,000, nine of the subscribers were asked to pay a bill of $15,000 between them. One subscriber was asked to pay $2,000. I would like to know something about the logic of this kind of system. A certain amount of cross-financing must have taken place because apparently $35,000 of the $50,000 was to be paid by all users of the Post Office, but nine unfortunate subscribers were asked to pay $15,000 between them. This is only one example of cross-financing. It may be that other honourable members know of further examples. I do not believe that the bulk of users of the Post Office services should subsidise these services of a particular section. However, I suggest that this practice is followed to a certain extent. It seems to me by implication that a fairly heavy dose of it will be financed by users of the ordinary letter service. . .

Mr Katter:

– It is a matter of developing the country.


– That is right. But I think if subsidies are paid to develop the country then the subsidies ought at least to be revealed so that we can know what is being paid.

I also believe that some sort of logic ought to be advanced as to why a person should be expected to pay additional costs simply because he lives a certain number of miles along a road. I am sure such a practice does not appeal to members of the Australian Country Party. I have listened at great lengths sometimes to the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) who I often think represents vacant miles and cows more than he represents people. Nevertheless there is quite a considerable distance between the people he represents. It is a little illogical and unfair that such people should have to carry heavier burdens than others for a telephone service. It would be interesting to hear some sort of explanation, perhaps not in this debate but at some other time. I suggest that the proposed White Paper be a little more discursive about the financing of the Post Office. Some observations in the report of a Public Accounts Committee inquiry of 10 or 12 years ago suggested that the governments would be happy, as I am sure the managers of the Post Office would be happy if, at the end of the year they found, like Micawber, that they had had £1 and spent 19s lid, rather than that they had had £1 and had spent £1 0s Id. They like their expenditure and revenue to balance as far as possible. It seems to me, without any doubt, that some profitable aspects of the postal services have subsidised other aspects that have been unprofitable.

I think one of the greatest beneficiaries from the losses incurred by the postal services are the members of the Press. They could send telegrams at a cheaper rate per word than anyone else in days when they did hot have their own teleprinters. They were able to make trunk-line telephone calls at cheaper rates.

Mr Hulme:

– The newspapers still do.


– Yes. This was said to be a necessary subsidy because the dissemination of the latest information was regarded as a public service. I do not quarrel with this. But if these accounts are to be presented in a new fashion and we are told that they are based on a commercial rather than cash basis, then I think some notes should be contained each year in the accounts of the Post Office drawing attention to the fact that certain operations of the Post Office can more than cover the costs incurred. I can see, as every economist knows, that assessments of joint costs are pretty arbitrary. If we pay one man to do. ten separate tasks, how do we allocate his total wages among the various tasks to give the true cost of every task? Nevertheless, tests and canons can be applied which would show that some forms of the service do more than pay for themselves and, if I can be excused for the term, make a profit. Others make a loss. In my view, attention should be drawn to this. We should have an explanation about how charges for telephone services are imposed on certain users depending on whether or not they live certain distances from the exchange. If this were done then a lot of people would not be so confused about the situation. As I say, I hope that we agree broadly that this legislation simplifies the present structure of the Post Office. I hope that it makes the Budget a truer picture of overall results, rather than just putting everything into it and then taking some items out. It is a net performance rather than a gross performance.

I hope too that the flexibility which is to be given to the Post Office will be of the narrower type rather than the wider type and that it will enable the Post Office to apply tests of efficiency that previously it was not able to apply. I hope that the tests will not be based purely on financial results. I still think that there are better ways of organisation and management, which are part of efficiency, than the confusion, sometimes, of a mere debit and credit transaction. I look forward to the White Paper as an additional document at the time of the presentation of the Budget. I trust that the Minister has noted some of my reservations as to what information should be included in the White Paper in order to achieve a new and intelligible presentation of the accounts.


– The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) is on rather dangerous ground when he speaks of costing country telephone services, because if one were to apply costing effectively throughout the economy people who live in very large cities would find that the cost of their services would rise heavily, lt has been proved, quite satisfactorily, by people who have gone into this question that there is an optimum size in the congregation of people. It is approximately 500,000. Anything above that figure starts to become a heavy drain on the total economy. I think that if the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, who lives in one of the large cities in Australia, applied his principle generally, he would be most uncomfortable with the outcome.

I am in favour of the Bill because I am in favour of anything that helps to clarify the information contained in the annual Budget. This Bill does precisely that. Thanks to the work of the Public Accounts Committee, to which the honourable member for Melbourne Ports has referred, we have seen the Budget progressively improved over the course of the years. It has now become far more comprehensible and intelligible to the layman than it ever was before. So this further step forward is something to be welcomed and encouraged. But in saying that, 1 must admit that in carrying this Bill we are signing a blank cheque, because we really do not know what type of information we will be furnished within the White Paper. We hope that it will be adequate and will give us answers to the questions at which we will be looking at Budget time. We support the legislation, as an act of faith, and rely upon the good judgment of the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) and his advisers.

Postmaster-General · Petrie · LP

– in reply - I do not want to delay the House. I have noted the comments made by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean). I will have regard to them, particularly those concerning the White Paper which in future will be produced at Budget time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Hulme) read a third time.

page 1137


Ministerial Statement

Debute resumed from 2 May (vide page 1106), on the following paper presented by Mr Fairhall:

Defence - Ministerial Statement, 2nd May 1968.

And on the motion by Mr Snedden:

That the House take note of the paper.


- Mr Speaker, it is my purpose this afternoon to follow the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) who was the closing speaker last Thursday evening in the debate on the defence statement. It is rather interesting that the speech of the honourable member for La Trobe excited a lot more comment in the Australian community than did the defence statement itself. This is because the honourable member showed some of the independence of thought for which he has become well known. We know that he, together with other honourable members on the Government side of the House, was responsible for the second ‘Voyager’ royal commission which raised very serious matters regarding the administration of the Royal Australian Navy. The honourable member for La Trobe said that there was very little in the statement of the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall). He said:

In view of the world situation I was amazed to find how little there was in it.

Later he said:

We have heard very little about thefuture, about what planning is necessary and about what is intended in the circumstances which surround us today.

He also said, referring to the United States of America:

If peace talksare arrangedand they are satisfactory, it couldwell be that the United States’ would remove herself from South East Asia. We have no alternative butto remain here, and we do riot know whattime is available to us to plan for defence.

All of these matters are very important. I agree with the honourable member for La Trobe. I, too, was rather amazed at how little information of any significant nature was conveyed to us in the defence statement. Indeed, I am amazed at what little significance the Government seems to place on a debate on such an important question as defence. If one peruses the list of speakers which has been conveyed to us, one sees no evidence at this point of time that the Minister for the Army. (Mr Lynch) or the Minister for the Navy. (Mr Kelly] proposes to speak in the debate. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has not indicatedhis intention to . speak in the debate.’ Indeed, this session is well under way but we have not heard the Prime Minister in this session speak in support of Government policy, except insofar as hehas defended some aspects of that policy in the ‘Voyager’ debate and in thedebate on the unfortunate incident of the questioning of a woman in Vietnam.

Mr Curtin:

– He has not spoken on any matters of Government policy since he became Prime Minister.


– That is exactly my point. I should like to canvass the present defence situation set out in the Minister’s statement in the light of the Australian Labor Party’s attitude and also in the light of the very sincere criticisms made by the honourable member for La Trobe and by speakers on this side of the House. The first question is the British withdrawal from east of Suez. I detect a change of emphasis in the Minister’s statement in this regard. There is no longer the shock and dismay which was reflected in earlier Government statements. It seems that the Government and its Ministers are now looking at the question of British withdrawal a little more realistically than they did. What that withdrawal means in the future we are not in any position to say. The defence statement does not tell us. It refers only to the fact that there is tobe a five-power conference in June. The remarkable thing is that the British have stayed so long. Having renounced colonial rule 20 years ago when withdrawal took place from India, Pakistan. Burma and other countries, the remarkable thing is that the British continue to maintain substantial forces right around the world. Now Britain because of financial and other problems, has decided to withdraw from cast of Suez.

I think it is timely to recall what Britain has done. The entire development of Aus- tralia prior to the Second World War occurred under what one might term the umbrella of the Royal Navy. In more recent times Britain has proved that she can still playan important role in this part of the world. Without any doubt, the substantial contribution made by Britain, both with land forces and the stationing of a Vulcan strike bomber force at Singapore in Malaysia, did a great deal to bring confrontation with Indonesia to an end. There are, of course, other factors in the British withdrawal. These factors will have to be explored at the five-power conference. One relates to the strategic reserve stationed in Malaysia under the ANZAM agreement which was brought into being by the Labor governments of Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia in 1948.

Britain has a nuclear capacity of some significance. When we think in terms of. the two super powers, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America, we tend to relegate Britain to a somewhat inferior status. We should not forget that Britain, with probably the greatest development of nuclear energy for peace time uses, has as a consequence of that development a substantial capacity for nuclear warfare. I believe, as I have said before, that the British withdrawal east of Suez was inevitable. The British have made their intentions quite clear in a White Paper. They have spelt out their intention not to renege the obligations that they have accepted under the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and their willingness to accept a continued obligation for the defence of Malaysia. Speakers on both sides of the Parliament in the House of Commons have pointed out that there is no doubt that Britain would accept a commitment to come to the defence of Australia and New Zealand if we were ever threatened; but there are a number of matters spelt out in the British White Paper on which we have had no comment from the Minister for Defence or the Government.

The British are prepared to co-operate in certain circumstances. They would require time; they would require in Australia, in Australian territories or in our immediate environs, facilities which were satisfactory and suitable for the equipment that they would use. These are the important questions to which we need an answer and to which we have not been given an answer so far. The statement made by the Minister was very disappointing. He seemed to leave the whole question as to where we go from here as something to be decided at the fivepower conference. I think the Minister could have indicated Australia’s interests in this area, what the Australian Government believes we ought to be doing and to which responsibilities Australia believes it should commit itself. In doing that we would be giving some leadership and making our views known. The details could be worked out when the five-power conference took place.

The Australian Labor Party believes that Australia has a continued interest in the whole region. It was a Labor Government which entered into the ANZAM arrangement. Labor’s belief was - the present Government has continued to think this way - :that the security of the Malay Peninsula was of vital importance to the security of the Commonwealth of Australia. I believe, and I do not think anyone in this place would contest, that if our neighbouring country, Indonesia, were threatened by invasion we would have to give very sympathetic consideration to assisting her in the problems that arose. No member of this Parliament disputes that we have a responsibility properly to defend the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. We have accepted responsibilities under the Australian, New Zealand and United States Defence Pact and under SEATO.

Having spelt out those general considerations, I believe that the Minister could well spell out just what Australia’s interests are in the area surrounding it. We want to see proper defence arrangements made to cover the Pacific and Indian Oceans adjacent to our shores and the seas to our immediate north. The obvious importance of sea power and air power has always been a consideration in Labor’s policy. The Australian Labor Party has always believed that Australia, with a small population quite evenly distributed over the area of this island continent and heavily concentrated in the south eastern corner, needs a very flexible defence force, which means a particular concentration on the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Australian Navy.

I was surprised that the Minister made no military assessment of the situation in Vietnam. This is the only place where Australian troops are engaged in a wartime occupation. He dealt with Vietnam in rather generalised terms, saying that the Government was in agreement with the Americans in their de-escalation of the bombing of North Vietnam and in expressing the hope that the peace talks would be pursued to a successful conclusion. I was disappointed that the Minister made no military assessment of the situation in Vietnam, using the Australian resources that are available to him. He and other speakers have said, and no-one in this House would dispute, that the Australians in Vietnam, in accordance with their training and leadership, are without any doubt carrying out their duties effectively and well. But we would like n know just what the success of this enterprise is and what is the result of more than 18 months of occupation of the Phuoc Tuy Province. We would like to know the success of the other responsibilities that have been accepted in Vietnam. We would like to know a little more of the war situation in which we are involved. It strikes me is rather an unusual statement on defence that makes no mention at all, or no significant mention, of the war in which we are actually engaged. There are a number of other matters. I, for one, would be interested to hear how the Centurian tanks are going and 1 should like to hear about a number of other matters to which passing reference has been made.

This brings, me to the Fill aircraft. I do not want to spend a great deal of time on the FI 1 1 because there has been already a great deal of discussion on this subject. In my view some of the discussion has not been particularly relevant. Whatever one thinks of the original decision to place an order for the FI 1 1 , the fact is that, based on a report by the technical staff of the RAAF, the Government decided to order that aircraft. That order has been placed and we are within a few months of taking delivery of the first of these aircraft. The Minister for Defence and also the Minister, for Air (Mr Freeth), who spoke on Thursday night last, made generalised statements that whilst there seemed to be some faults in the aircraft at present, they were quite sure and confident that it was not beyond the capacity of American technology to rectify these faults. I ask the Minister this question: Does that mean that wc will not be taking delivery of the Fill until, if I may use the term, these bugs have been ironed out? Are we in the position which applies when one buys a motor car, that is, if there are any faults one is not responsible for tidying them up in the running-in period? Does this mean that Australia will not take delivery of these aircraft until it is quite satisfied that it is getting a serviceable aircraft?

I read that when several of these aircraft were lost in Thailand recently the RAAF sent teams there so that we could make our own assessment of the position. The terms in which the Minister referred to the Fill would rather suggest that our assessment, if it has been completed, is that there is nothing basically wrong with the aircraft that cannot be straightened out. But there is a good deal of disquiet in the Australian community and I believe that the Government should be forthright in telling us whether these things are true. The greatest controversy in the community about the Fi Ils concerns the vast escalation of cost. It is quite spurious now to be arguing about the qualities of the aircraft, except insofar as we want to make sure that its anomalies are rectified. Obviously, in the future, the Government will have to come up with a much better story than it has come up with to this point of time in order to justify the cost escalating from $US120m to $US.300m.

There are other questions which I would like to ask, and which I would like to have answered, concerning the Fill. We are familiar with the enormous rebuilding programme taking place at the Amberley air base, the new hangars and new facilities that are being provided there. Am I to understand that the Fill needs all these facilities at a base from which it can operate? Is Amberley the only base in Australia from which it can operate? From what other bases can it operate in this region? Is Butterworth base capable of being developed into a station from which these aircraft can operate? Candidly, I do not know the answers to these questions. I think one of the faults of this Government is that it has not fostered proper discussion in this Parliament and in the Australian community about defence matters. One can argue that the Government should put a cloak over these things and keep them secret but obviously, if the people of Australia are to take a more intelligent interest in defence, and members of this Parliament, including myself, are to take a more intelligent attitude to defence than we may have done in the past, then a lot more information ought to be given to us. Is Amberley the best place for these aircraft to be stationed? What about fighter cover for these bombers? I do not know the answers to any of these technical questions but I believe there is a considerable amount of disquiet in the Australian community about them and it is up to the Government to give us some information.

There were a number of other matters raised in the speech by the Minister for Defence. He mentioned co-operation with New Zealand; the fact that defence was aiding Australia’s industrial development; that there had been forward steps in the establishment of a joint service college.

Again, J would like more information about the integration of the Services. We on the Opposition side of the House who have been studying developments in Canada and elsewhere are rather interested in centralising our Defence Services and cutting wasteful defence expenditure. We would like more information about how this joint service college is going to dovetail into the other colleges established by the individual Service Departments. We do not know about this at this point of time. 1 believe this information is not yet available but I would be grateful if it is made available to us as soon as possible.

I think it is very difficult to discuss, intelligently or adequately, defence matters in this Parliament. It seems to me that the present situation is that the Government has very substantially increased Defence expenditure and that this is a trend which will probably continue. The Australian Labor Party has never sought to cut down on Australia’s defence. Indeed, 1 believe that Labor has played a prominent role in the defence of Australia in two world wars. But we are concerned to see that the people of Australia get good value - the best possible value - for the money spent on defence. Irrespective of what may be decided at the five power conference, I believe that Australia has to be prepared in relation to some matters to stand on its own feet. The honourable member for La Trobe also made this point. The enormous cost of the Fill should not blind the Government to the need for forward planning in other defence areas. For example, it is obvious that some decision has to be made about a replacement carrier for HMAS ‘Melbourne’. Even though this vessel is now being refitted for specific antisubmarine work, we all recognise that the capital ship of today, and for the foreseeable future, is the aircraft carrier. It may be that action along these lines needs to be taken very shortly because one does not bring a modern aircraft carrier on stream in 18 months or so. We have no indication of the Government’s forward planning for the Royal Australian Navy or even for the Army.

I did refer earlier to the Centurion tanks and expressed my interest in learning how they were shaping up to the situation in


Vietnam. I think anyone concerned with our Army would know that there is a feeling within the Army that we need a light tank as a replacement for the Centurion more suitable for use in Australia and in vast areas adjacent to Australia where we have responsibilities. We should know what the Government is doing about some of these things.

The Australian Labor Party believes that Australia needs to increase and improve its defence preparedness. It believes that an essential part of this exercise is to eliminate wasteful expenditure and to develop proper co-ordination between the various arms of the Australian defence forces. It believes that there should be. proper co-operation with our neighbours and allies; that we should share common aims and problems and endeavour to effect economies of scale within the region. The Labor Part)’ believes that the statement by the Minister for Defence was a fairly poor one because of what it omitted rather than what it contained.


– Seven months have elapsed since the House last had a debate on defence. The subject was discussed during the Estimates debate last year. In that time two important decisions have been announced. Firstly, the British Government has decided to withdraw al’l its forces east of the Suez Canal, except those in Hong Kong, by the end of 1971. Secondly; President Johnson has announced moves to de-escalate the conflict in Vietnam. Both decisions, to my mind, will have a profound effect over a period of years on Australian Government policy for the defence of this country. I propose to deal with this later in my speech. My immediate purpose is to indicate how frequently changes of strategical situations occur in our part of the world.

Looking back over a longer period of years, say 3 or 4 years, I note that there have been many other important changes relating, for example, to West Irian, Indonesia and Malaysia. Bearing in mind these great changes in the strategical situation in those 4 years, we can see that it is almost impossible for Australia to forecast the strategical situation during the next 10 years.

Yet this is the situation which the Government must face when placing orders for defence equipment requiring a long lead time between the placing of the order and the date of delivery. For this reason I believe that there can be only one rule to govern Australia’s defence policy: That is, we should order the equipment that is required to provide an adequate and balanced force for the defence of Australia and the security of our near environment. For this is our own responsibility. It is the only situation in which we can even conceive of fighting on our own. In all other situations we would be fighting with allies. In such circumstances we could expect that our allies would provide items of equipment that are not in our own inventory. In such situations we would use those items in our own defence inventory which would contribute most effectively to the common effort.

But the lessons of the last few months raise questions as to the circumstances in which we can confidently rely on major allies and this, surely, must be the strategical situation which the House should now be considering and debating. It is in this context that we should be considering the need for the Fill aircraft, which has been referred to so much during the course of this debate.

The Fill was ordered in 1963. It is to be delivered in 1968 and it is likely to be a component of our defence forces at least until 1980. Surely, if we are to provide an adequate and balanced force for the defence of Australia and the security of our near environment, a deterrent capability must be one of the essential components of this defence inventory. One lesson that we learnt from the confrontation of 1964 was that the V bombers operating from Singapore and Darwin were a major factor in limiting the size of the conflict. But from 1971 onwards there will be no V bombers in Singapore.

Of equal importance to the deterrent role is the requirement for a reconnaissance capability. Until now the reconnaissance material obtained by the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force has been available to us. But after 1971 an Australian reconnaissance capability becomes much more vital for our own security. To my mind, therefore, the need for the Fill aircraft is imperative in the light of the strategic situation that is now developing in our part of the world.

At this stage the capability of this aircraft is being demonstrated in operational conditions over North Vietnam. Some people in Australia, particularly in this House, and overseas have appeared to rejoice at the loss of three of these aircraft and their crews in operational conditions, but let us remember that no aircraft has ever gone into service and not had losses in the early days of its operations. The loss of these aircraft is a cause for regret; but it is leading to technical adjustments being made to the aircraft to prevent similar losses. The loss of these aircraft is surely not a cause for abandoning the most sophisticated design anywhere in the world of a tactical strike aircraft.

Let us remember that there are four factors in the performance of this aircraft which set it ahead of any of its competitors. Firstly, the Fill, due to the efficiency of its terrain following radar, is able to fly at low level, in all weather and at night, and so can penetrate to targets that could not be reached in similar conditions by any other aircraft. Secondly, by penetrating to those targets at low level arid at high speed, it is able to avoid being picked up by enemy radar. Thirdly, the Fill can carry a conventional bomb load considerably in excess of that carried by any other tactical aircraft over a similar range. Its new bomb aiming devices enable it to deliver its weapons more accurately than can any other aircraft. Fourthly, it has a range capability in excess of other tactical aircraft. In comparison with, for instance, the Phantom, which has been mentioned in the debate, the Fill could carry out a mission without the need for in-flight refuelling, whereas the Phantom, even if it could carry out the task, would at least require a fleet of tanker aircraft to achieve the same range. In any comparison between these two aircraft, their refuelling capability and the cost of it must be taken into account.

The Fill has now completed a long period of operational training. Already 10,000 flying hours have been achieved. We must not forget that during this time there have been fewer aircraft accidents than in the case of any other comparable aircraft.

What is more, the experience that has been gained in operations and in operational training is now being transmitted for the benefit of the Royal Australian Air Force when we take delivery of our aircraft from July onwards. We now have it on record from the Air Staff that the Fill has demonstrated its capacity to fulfil the requirements laid down in the original Air Staff specifications. On no previous occasion can I remember the Air Force taking delivery of an aircraft at a time when there was no better aircraft available, either in operational service or even on the drawing board. So for these reasons 1 believe that we may confidently say that this aircraft will be in the forefront of world performance for years to come.

The Fill order has been one of the largest individual investments that Australia has made in its defence history. It is right therefore that we should examine the costs in some detail, as was done by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) last Thursday. We not only now have a price for each aircraft but also can state with some confidence the price for the complete project. I should emphasise that the price we are paying for the elements of: this project is comparable with that being paid by the United States Air Force. The price we were given in 1963 and the price that was mentioned therefore in this House was the then current price estimated by the United States Air Force. So although the price for Australia has escalated it has escalated no more and no less than has the price being paid by the United States Air Force. The team of Australian experts m the United States has kept, and is keeping, rigid control oyer the ordering of equipment and the price of each item. We ordered this aircraft at a time when honourable members on both sides of the House felt the country to be potentially in danger, lt was a time when they were demanding that Australia have a strike aircraft comparable with anything that the Soviet Union might supply to its friends and customers. The Government’s estimate - correct, as events have proved - was that we had sufficient time in hand to enable us to order the best strike aircraft being developed anywhere in the world. To get an aircraft of this performance and to ensure that we received h early in the production run and not 3 years later necessitated our paying a price for it. I believe that I have highlighted the strategic need for this aircraft. It has been demonstrated that the aircraft is capable of the performance laid down to meet Air Staff requirements. So I believe that in due course the nation will realise that it is getting the aircraft at a price that provides value for the money expended.

Last Thursday the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) asked how we could evaluate this aircraft. Let me tell him that one evaluates this aircraft in the same way as one examines any bill which one gets and has to pay. The first thing one does is make certain that the bill is the correct one, that there is no waste and that we are paying the market price. I say categorically to the honourable member that we have had experts in the United States who have watched to see that there has not been waste and that we are getting the aircraft at the market price - the price which the United States is paying for its aircraft. Secondly, one should examine whether substitutes would do the job as well or at better value. As J have tried to say briefly, the only comparable aircraft is the F4 - the Phantom - but when one compares the Phantom and takes into account the cost of tanker aircraft that would be required to enable the Phantom to do the job that is being done by the Fill, one may be certain that we are getting better value for our money in the Fill project than we would if we purchased substitute aircraft, such as the Phantom. Thirdly, one should examine the effect of cancelling our order for the Fill. I say again that in the deteriorating situation that is likely to face us to our north and our west, as I shall demonstrate shortly, to cancel the order for the Fill at this time would be an unacceptable danger to Australia. So, in evaluating this aircraft I submit that we must pay the bill and save in other fields of government activity in order to ensure the safety of Australia.

Sitting suspended from 5.S8 to 8 p.m.


– Before the suspension of the sitting I was dealing with the advantages and the implications of the Government’s policy in purchasing the Fill aircraft. Now I want to deal with some of the aspects that flow from this .decision. Some members of the Opposition, particularly the previous speaker, the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross), criticised the cost of the Fill project, but I believe that they should examine it in the context of their own defence policy. The implications of their foreign policy would surely involve a retreat to Fortress Australia. If that is the Australian Labor Party’s policy, it should endeavour to work out what that policy involves in defence equipment and how much it would cost. At times, for instance, members of the ALP have advocated that Australia adopt a policy similar to that of Sweden. Sweden’s area is only 6% of that of Australia, and yet it spends a higher proportion of its gross national product on defence than Australia does. What is more important, the proportion of the total defence vote spent in Sweden on the Royal Swedish Air Force is very much higher than the proportion of Australia’s defence vote spent on the Royal Australian Air Force. Without going into detail, we can be certain that a policy of Fortress Australia would involve the Australian taxpayer in a very much larger contribution to defence than has ever been asked of him in our peacetime history. Therefore, when members of the Australian Labor Party advocate some of the things that were advocated this evening by the honourable member for Brisbane, they should examine how much they would cost. ] return, however, to an examination of the new strategical situation that I believe will confront Australia as a result of recent decisions of the British and United States Governments. The defence umbrella which has been our shield for many years is in process of change. Let us look at the three important factors. British forces are likely to be leaving this area of the world by 1971. The US is de-escalating in Vietnam, and the long-term implications of this were set out very clearly by Denis Warner in an article in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ last night. The third important factor is that Russian naval strength in increasing in the Indian Ocean. These are profound long-term changes for Australia. I agree with the Government that it is too early to evolve detailed plans for Australian defence but it is clear that whatever happens Australia will have to stand on its own feet much more in the future than it has in the past, and this will require more money for defence.

The cost of the Fill programme is the first indication of the burdens we may have to carry in the future. We have been fortunate that we have had these past 5 years in which to strengthen our defence equipment. Our forward defence policy has en.abled us to re-equip our defence forces while we were protected by the defence umbrella of our allies. We can be thankful today that we have grown in strength over this period. At a time in the near future when we could become much more isolated, we will possess much stronger defence equipment than we had 5 years ago.

In the few minutes that remain I shall look at the defence requirements for the new strategical situation that could develop over the long-term in this part of the world. I suggest five defence requirements. First of all, 1 believe that we should order only the equipment that is required to provide a balanced and adequate force for the defence of the Australian mainland and its near environment, and for this purpose I believe that our defence budget will need to be at least 5% of our gross national product. Second, we shall need to strengthen our relations with manufacturing industry. We need a viable aircraft industry, for instance, and 1 believe it will be necessary to integrate and rationalise the aircraft industry, because in its present state I feel there exists excess capacity which leads to high cost of production. Third, we should examine ways in which research and development grants can be provided to industry to enable it to co-operate with the defence services to provide new defence requirements. Fourth, we should be prepared to increase the number of technical advisers that we can make available to those defence forces in South East Asia that request our aid. Fifth, and most important of all in the light of the strategical situation that I have outlined to the House, we should examine our lifeline across the Pacific Ocean. This could become vital to us in the future, as it was vital to us in 1942. To this end we should seek closer relations with New Zealand and compatability of defence equipment between the Services of our two countries. At the same time we should examine what facilities are likely to exist in the Pacific islands. We should ascertain from the British Government what plans it has for the islands that it now controls. Britain may decide in due course to withdraw from her Pacific Island dependencies, as she has from almost every other part of her former empire. If this does happen, then we should seek to participate in any discussions that might lead to a transfer of sovereignty. History surely demonstrates the need for defence facilities in that part of the world to ensure our own security.

Debate (on motion by Mr Scholes) adjourned.

page 1145


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

Second Reading

Treasurer · Lowe · LP

I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time. On 15th August 1967, in the Budget speech, I informed the House that the Government proposed to seek an amendment of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act to give common entitlements to members of the armed forces on continuous full-time duty for a period of 12 months or more by admitting to the scheme those now excluded by reason of the terms and conditions under which they serve. The defence forces retirement benefits scheme was inaugurated in 1948 to provide a common superannuation scheme for the three permanent arms of the defence force. In essence, the scheme was limited to regular officers of the three services and to other-rank members engaged for 6 years or more. Following the introduction of the national service scheme and the increase in the numbers of citizen, reserve and supplementary force members on fulltime service, there are now over 21,000 servicemen and women who, although serving for extended periods on the same basis and alongside members of the permanent forces, have not access to the scheme.

This Bill, which extends the membership of the fund to include members of the defence force aged 18 years or more who are engaged or appointed for a period of continuous full-time service of not less than 1 year, will bring the large majority of these persons into the fund. Though the new members will not contribute to the fund until after the Act is proclaimed, the Government has decided that eligibility for pension benefits will be extended retrospectively to or in respect of former members of the forces whose service was terminated by death or substantial incapacity on or after the date of the first national service intake, 28th June 1965, and before the commencing date, who would have been eligible to contribute to the fund had the membership provisions of this Bill then applied. Amounts of pension to be paid in respect of periods prior to the commencement of the Act will be determined by the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board.

In determining these retrospective payments, the Board will have regard to amounts of gratuity received at discharge and to payments that have been received by the member or his beneficiaries by way of Commonwealth social service benefits, weekly payments under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act or pension under the Superannuation Act. The amounts recovered from any of these sources will not in any case exceed the amount of the retrospective pension payment. One fortnight’s contribution at the rate appropriate to the former member’s rank will be deducted from the initial pension payment to establish contributor status in accordance with an existing principle of the principal Act.

By reason of fund membership the new members will become entitled to the generally more beneficialgratuity provisions of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. As appropriate, suitable transitional provisions will cover those serving members who are now entering the fund in respect of gratuity entitlements accrued under Service regulations in respect of their earlier non-contributory service. No member will suffer any loss of gratuity benefit simply as a result of Fund membership. However, certain medical and dental officers who are entitled to special benefits by way of bounty and gratuity will continue to receive these benefits under the Service regulations.

Since 1959 the Act has provided for payment of $600 to a male other rank “member who re-engages for a further period of not less than six years after completion of an initial period of service of six years. The Government has decided to extend this provision to provide from now on for payment of $200 after three years’ service if the member has agreed to serve for not less than a total of six years, and for payment of $800 after six years’ service, less any payment previously received, if the member has agreed to serve for not less than a total of 12 years. However, payment will not in any case exceed the amount that would be payable to the member by way of gratuity and refund of contributions if he were to be discharged at the point he becomes entitled to the advance. The existing arrangement that payment will be made as entitlement arises unless the member specifically elects not to receive it will continue. As hitherto, advance payments will not be recovered from the retirement benefits of the member should he die or be retired on invalidity grounds.

Amongst the members who will now be elibible to contribute to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund are considerable numbers of Commonwealth officers on leave from their employment who are contributing to the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. The Government has decided that these members, like their Service colleagues, should contribute to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund while members of the forces and their contributions to the Superannuation Fund will be deferred until they cease to be liable to contribute to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. On completion of defence service the deferred contributions to the Superannuation Fund will be met from the refund of contributions and gratuity, if any, payable from the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund.

In the event of a superannuation contributor being discharged on invalidity grounds from the defence force he will not be entitled to pension benefit from the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. Instead he will receive a refund of contributions and an invalidity gratuity if so entitled and will look to the Superannuation Fund for his pension which will be supplemented where the pension entitlement from the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund would have been greater. Similarly, should a superannuation contributor die while still a member of the forces, his widow and any children will receive a superannuation fund pension supplemented as appropriate. The member’s contributions to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund will be refunded. Later this day, when I introduce a Bill to amend the Superannuation Act I will explain these proposals in more detail.

Provision has been made in the Bill to meet the situation of a national serviceman who is granted extended leave without pay on grounds of exceptional hardship. Under the existing provisions of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act a member of the Fund is required to contribute during any period of leave without pay and continues to be entitled to benefits, including pension benefits, under the Act during the leave irrespective of its length. While this is appropriate for members of the regular forces the Government has decided that, in the case of a national serviceman, his contributions to the Fund will cease when the leave without pay extends beyond a period of 30 days and he will not be entitled to death or invalidity benefit while he continues to remain on leave. On eventual discharge the period during which he contributed to the Fund will be the period of his service for gratuity purposes.

The Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act at present does not make any provision against early payment of benefit from the Fund because of disabilities in existence before entry but not detected in a pre-entry medical examination. This is remedied in the Bill which provides that persons discharged within 3 months of entry into the forces because of a medical condition which existed prior to enlistment or appointment and which has not been materially aggravated by service will not be entitled to invalidity benefit under the Act. This provision will apply to all classes of members in the Fund and not only to the new categories of members being provided for in the legislation. The disqualification from benefit will not apply in the case of death during service.

Unlike the Superannuation Fund, the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund is not protected against abnormal liabilities arising from death and incapacity due to active service. The Government has decided that, with effect from 14th December 1959, the date from which the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund was placed on an actuarial basis, the Commonwealth will meet any excess charge against the Fund arising from the expected greater risk of death and retirement on invalidity grounds amongst members on active service, active service meaning service that is active service for the purposes of the Defence Act. -The Bill provides for the excess cost to be determined annually by the Treasurer after receiving a report from the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board which will consult with the Commonwealth Actuary. It is intended that at each quinquennium the Actuary should review the adequacy of the amounts paid into the Fund.

One of the effects of extending the scope of membership of the fund is that members of the permanent forces who reach the retiring age for their rank and transfer to a reserve or supplementary force with a higher retiring age will be able to continue their contributions to the Fund and qualify for higher pension. Similarly, members who retire on pension and later return to serve again on a full time basis will be eligible to contribute towards better pensions Because some complex issues are involved it has not been possible to incorporate in this Bill the provisions establishing the basis on which these persons will continue their contributions to the Fund. The Government proposes to introduce a second Bill to deal with these and related matters later in this session.

There are three other matters not dealt with in this Bill about which I want to comment. Because many of the new members will serve for comparatively short periods and then leave the service, receiving a refund of their contributions to the Fund on discharge, the question arises whether the earnings on these contributions while held by the Fund will be adequate to meet the cost of death and invalidity risk cover provided to these members during their service. The statistical information presently available has not been sufficient to determine whether the experience of new members will be similar to that of existing members and accordingly, it is the Government’s intention to have the Commonwealth Actuary review the position as at 30th June 1969 by which time reasonable statistical information should be available. Should the Actuary’s review show that the death and invalidity risk amongst these new categories of members is significantly higher than that of the present members of the Fund, and this is by no means certain, the Government will propose that the Fund be reimbursed for the added risk.

A similar approach will be adopted in respect of those persons who the Government proposes should now be admitted to the Fund although of a somewhat lower medical standard than present Fund members. Here again, insufficient statistical information is available to assess whether the invalidity and death risk in respect of these persons is higher than for other members of the Fund. In view of the relatively small numbers involved, the Government decided that these members should be subject to the same conditions as other members of the Fund. However, it would be the Government’s intention to review the position as at 30th June 1969, and to propose that the Fund be reimbursed should a significantly higher risk be disclosed.

The third matter concerns the younger members of the forces. Members aged 18 and 19 years at present contribute at the normal rate of 5% of pay but are covered only for death and invalidity benefits until age 20 years, when service commences to count towards an age pension. Accordingly, these members may pay up to 2 years contributions more for the same age pension as a person entering the forces at the age of 20 years. As well, over 3,000 members of the forces under the age of 18 years are not permitted to join the Fund although many are in receipt of adult rates of pay. For such non-contributory members a small invalidity pension only is payable, even though the disability might be such as to impair the member’s earning capacity for life.

The Government Members’ Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Committee, ably led by the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes), some time ago expressed its concern to the Government about the position of these younger members and submitted a number of proposals. Last November I informed the House that the Government was examining various alternatives and hoped to be in a position to determine the most appropriate solutions and to incorporate these in legislation during this session. The Government has now decided that the age limit of 18 years before which a member is not permitted to contribute to the fund should be removed. Provision will be made for members entering the Fund before age 20 to pay lower rates of contributions throughout their service. These lower rates also will apply to present members who have entered the Fund since 1959, when the contribution basis of the Fund was changed, and whose age on entry to the Fund was 18 or 19 years.

Because the invalidity pension entitlement of some younger members would be unduly low in the initial years of service if it were determined by the member’s rate of pay and level of contributions to the Fund, the Government proposes to establish a basic invalidity pension rate which will relate the invalidity pension of members on less than adult rates of pay to the pension category appropriate to a private group 1, the minimum adult pay grouping applying to age 17 entrants. The existing provision for small non-contributory pensions payable to members under the age of 18 years retired on invalidity grounds will be repealed. I hope to introduce the legislation to implement these proposals in the Budget session.

This Bill and the legislation I have foreshadowed represent a new and, I think, enlightened approach to the matter of retirement benefits for the armed forces. Some 24,000 or more servicemen and women, including the 3,000 under the age of 18 years previously excluded, will become eligible to enter the Fund. This will provide death, invalidity and retirement cover for the great majority of the members of the armed forces. The scheme if amended will give to members new opportunities to contribute over wider spans of service for better pensions as they move from force to force. The changes being made are both worth while and timely. 1 have had prepared for honourable members a statement which gives examples of DFRB benefits payable to, or in respect of, members who are killed or discharged from the forces as a result of active service in Vietnam. Examples of the appropriate repatriation benefits payable in addition to the DFRB pensions also are shown. With the concurrence of honourable members, I incorporate the statement in Hansard.

DFRB benefits are payable, in accordance with the examples in the table below, irrespective of whether the death or injury is suffered in Australia or on active service: In certain circumstances, benefits are also payable under the Commonwealth Employees' Compensation Act. {: type="A" start="B"} 0. EXAMPLES OF PENSION BENEFITS PAYABLE IN RESPECT OF INJURIES OR DEATH SUSTAINED ON ACTIVE SERVICE The following examples show the combined benefits payable, based on the above table of DFRB entitlements, when servicemen of the ranks shown suffer death or total and permanent incapacity in circumstances which also attract Repatriation benefits: I commend the Bill to honourable members. Debate (on motion by **Mr Clyde** Cameron) adjourned. {: .page-start } page 1149 {:#debate-30} ### SUPERANNUATION BILL 1968 Bill presented by **Mr McMahon,** and read a first time. {:#subdebate-30-0} #### Second Reading {: #subdebate-30-0-s0 .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMAHON:
Treasurer · Lowe · LP [8.25.1-1 move: That the Bill be now read a second time. This Bill is a companion measure to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill and makes provision for those contributors to the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund who become liable to contribute to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. The main provisions of the Bill are concerned with the deferment of contributions to the Superannuation Fund and the supplementation of pensions payable from that Fund in certain specific circumstances. The deferred contributions will become payable to the Fund when the member ceases to be liable to contribute to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill Fund or he ceases to be an employee for the purposes of the Superannuation Act, whichever first occurs. Benefits payable to these members from the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund will be limited to payment of gratuity and refund of contributions. Should a superannuation contributor be discharged from the forces on invalidity grounds and because of that invalidity is retired from his Public Services employment, all pension benefits will be paid from the Superanuation Fund and he will receive a refund of contributions and a gratuity comparable to the class C gratuity from the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. His deferred contributions to the Superannuation Fund will be met from these Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund payments. Where the pension entitlement under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act is greater than under the Superannuation Act an appropriate increment will be added to the superannuation pension to bring it up to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits entitlement. The member who is discharged unfit from the defence force but is able to return to his employment with the Commonwealth will also receive from the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund a refund of his contributions together with a gratuity at the Class C invalidity rate. His deferred contributions to the Superannuation Fund will be met from this benefit and thereafter his benefits will be from and subject to the provisions of the Superannuation Act. Should he subsequently be retired from the Public Service on invalidity grounds or die, and the Superannuation Board is satisfied that the cause of the invalidity retirement or death is related to the grounds on which he was discharged from the defence force, the superannuation pension will be supplemented, if it is less than the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits entitlement, at the time of discharge from the defence force. In relation to children's and widows' benefits, when a superannuation contributor dies while still a contributor to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund, pension benefits will be payable from the Superannuation Fund with an addition to pension to bring it to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits pension level should the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund pension entitlement be higher. There will be a refund of Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund contributions from which the deferred contributions to the Superannuation Fund will be met, any balance reverting to the beneficiaries. The additional cost of all these supplemented pensions will be met by the Commonweath under an existing provision of the Superannuation Act. I commend the Bill to honourable members. Debate (on motion by **Mr Crean)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 1150 {:#debate-31} ### SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY RESEARCH BILL (No. 2) 1968 Bill - toy leave - presented by **Mr Malcolm** Fraser, and read a first time. {:#subdebate-31-0} #### Second Reading {: #subdebate-31-0-s0 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP -- **Mr Deputy Speaker,** I move: >That the Bill be now read a' second time. The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Science and Industry Research Act 1949- 1966 to provide financial provisions appropriate to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and to make other minor amendments. During an examination of trust accounts the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Public Accounts considered the need for the continued existence of the. Science and Industry Trust Account established under section 25 of the Science and Industry Research Act. The Committee decided that this Trust Account no' longer served any useful purpose and recommended that the Account be closed. The changes now proposed as a consequence will permit the adoption, of financial arrangements for CSIRO similar to those of other Commonwealth statutory corporations. The principal features of this arrangement are that the funds to be provided out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the use of the CSIRO will appear as a one line entry in the Appropriation Acts and will be paid over to the CSIRO for use in accordance with approved estimates of expenditure* The corporation will operate its own bank accounts and be responsible for its own accounting arrangements subject to audit by the Auditor-General. The Science and Industry Research Act 1949-66 provides that CSIRO be a body corporate which exercises its powers and functions under the Act subject to the approval of the Minister. CSIRO is empowered by the Act to undertake scientific research in connection with and for the promotion of primary and secondary industries, the training of scientific workers, the making of grants in aid of pure scientific research and has a number of other functions incidental to these principal activities. The Executive is the governing body of CSIRO. In carrying out these complex operations the Executive has the responsibility, with the approval of the Minister, for the administration of CSIRO subject to such necessary safeguards as are required to recognise its responsibility to the Minister and to the Parliament. The Act gives to the Executive the responsibility of defining and carrying through the scientific programme and of making decisions subject to the Minister's authority that are required in this connection. The Act also provides the Executive with direct responsibility for making appointments of scientific and other staff to the Organisation. The success which CSIRO has achieved in serving the needs of Australia through scientific research can be attributed to the responsibility which the Executive has been given to exercise its scientific and practical judgment in the selection of a programme of work and in the appointment of scientific and other staff to carry through this programme. The financial provisions now proposed give the Executive and the Minister with necessary safeguards the same degree of responsibility and flexibility as are inherent in the other provisions of the Act. These proposals are consistent with the views expressed by the Joint Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts. That body, while not formulating any alternative arrangements to be adopted on the closure of the Trust Account, stated: >One of the main problems of a governmental research organisation is to retain a flexibility so vital to successful research while still obtaining the funds so necessary to the conduct of research. Your Committee sympathises fully with the desire of the Organisation to preserve this freedom of action insofar as research activities are concerned. In addition to these financial provisions, there are several other minor proposals. When the Act was amended in 1959 to increase the size of the Executive to nine members, no change was made in the size of the quorum of the Advisory Council, of which the Executive is part. It is desirable that the quorum of the Advisory Council should be enlarged and it is proposed that the number be twelve. The opportunity is taken to update the provision of the 1949 Act requiring the Executive to seek the approval of the Minister for the appointment of persons the maximum salary of whom exceeds £1,500. The present proposal raises this to $10,073. It is proposed to permit the Executive, with the approval of the Minister, to appoint in exceptional cases a senior scientist who does not meet the normal requirements of physical fitness. Finally the Bill clarifies the way in which the Organisation exercises its power of delegation under the Act. I commend the Bill to the House. Debate (on motion by **Mr Crean)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 1151 {:#debate-32} ### DEFENCE {:#subdebate-32-0} #### Ministerial Statement Debate resumed (vide page 1145). {: #subdebate-32-0-s0 .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr SCHOLES:
Corio **- Mr Deputy Speaker,** defence, no matter how we use the word or what we mean by it, is very important to every person in this country. It is so important that I think it would be of great value if, at some stage, the Government informed this Parliament what its defence policies are. Money spent does not necessarily mean defence. If we look through the figures over recent years we see that Australia has spent a considerable amount of money on defence. A great deal of the increase that has taken place in defence spending has gone to pay for an item of defence equipment ordered in 1963 and considered by the then Government to be necessary. The Prime Minister **(Mr Gorton)** is not quite so sure now whether it is necessary. But the fact is that a lol of our increased expenditure on defence has not given us one extra piece of defence equipment but has covered merely the cost of a piece of equipment which was considered desirable prior to the 1963 general election. The record of this Government and governments of a similar political colour concerning defence is not good when their policies have been put to the test. In the years immediately prior to World War II, Government spokesmen repeatedly made statements almost the same as those that we are hearing now. When we were put to the test it was found that our defence just did not exist. I would hope that, at the present time, we are in a better state of preparedness than we were at that time. But it is hard to assess just how effective our defence spending has been. We are buying four submarines. I take it that these are to patrol the Indian Ocean. We are purchasing twenty-four Fill aircraft. At this stage we do not really know what they are for. I think that, most likely, the best explanation that can be given for their purchase is that we bought them because they were fashionable. We have no indication from the Government of the type of armament that the Fill is to use. We have little or no indication from the Government whether or not it intends to arm these planes with nuclear weapons. If they are not to be armed with nuclear weapons, are they the most effective aircraft that can be purchased for the defence of Australia? This is a reasonable question. It is a question which, I think, if we consulted some of the people in other sections of our Services, other than the Air Force, we would most likely be given different answers. At the present time we are buying twenty-four aircraft which are possibly the best aircraft in the world. They are aircraft which would be capable of meeting in combat the best aircraft that the United States of America can put forward and the best aircraft that the Soviet Union can put forward. They are far superior to anything that we are likely to encounter. They may well be superior to what our actual defence needs are. We have not been told what the purpose of the FI 1 1 is. {: .speaker-JWV} ##### Mr Chaney: -- Has not the honourable member read the Defence Report 1967? {: .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr SCHOLES: -- Yes, I have read that. There is still nothing in that statement about the purpose of this aircraft. The Government has not even decided on its armament yet. So, obviously the Government does not know what the purpose of the aircraft is. If we were involved in the defence of Australia, would twenty-four aircraft be of great value, especially if we were engaged in the type of war either inside or outside Australia where the opposition had practically no air power whatsoever? The Canberra bomber is a very good plane in South Vietnam where it has nothing to fight against. It is sufficiently slow to give very good support' to our ground forces. The helicopter is a very good weapon where no air power to oppose it exists. What I want to know is: What is the policy of this Government on defence? Are we arming ourselves to fight wars continually outside Australia or are we arming ourselves in fact to defend Australia? If we are arming ourselves to defend Australia, I would like to see some explanation by the Government of how our defence forces are to be co-ordinated for this purpose? Also, it is reasonable to ask: Exactly who are we armed to defend ourselves against at this time? We purchased the Fill aircraft at a time when Indonesia was our potential enemy. At the moment I can only assume that the Government considers that China is our potential enemy. As far as I can see, there is no other country that could be classed as our potential enemy. {: .speaker-9F4} ##### Mr Donald Cameron:
GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND · LP -- Does the honourable member recognise China as an enemy? {: .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr SCHOLES: -- At the moment I think it is reasonable to assume that the Government considers China as our potential enemy. If there is a potential enemy in Asia then 1 think at this point of time it must be China just as it was Indonesia in 1963. The British withdrawal from the South East Asian area apparently has started a panic in the Government. In fact, I think the Government and its defence advisers were aware that Britain would withdraw some considerable time before the decision was announced. If the Australian Government was not so aware then I believe its sources of information are very poor indeed. I believe it would be proper to ask the Government what plans were made for Australia's defence before Britain actually announced its intention to withdraw. I also believe it is proper to ask the Government what stage of preparedness we have reached if we should be suddenly involved in the defence of Australia. Prior to the Second World War Government spokesmen had the same attitude on defence as they do now. They said we had plenty of time and that we would be ready when the enemy was ready. Unfortunately the enemy was ready a long time before we were and it was more by good luck than by good management that Australians were able to defend their shores. This leads me to another matter which I would like to emphasise in this debate and to which I think Government members should give serious consideration. For years the Australian people have been told, both directly and indirectly, that they are completely helpless. We are told we have no capacity to help ourselves and that if we are attacked we must depend on others. We are told that we must enter into agreements and honour such agreements and we must endeavour to obtain the best possible alliances that we can for our defence. Primarily Australia has a very great capacity to assist itself in this matter. To achieve this, a number of things are needed. Firstly, Australians should believe that they have the capacity to provide much of their own defence requirements. Some honourable members might be almost surprised to learn that it was the Australians who turned the Japanese in New Guinea. I admit the Americans won the battle of the Coral Sea but in the tend fighting m New Guinea it was the Australians who participated. 1 believe that very few of our children would even know about this. To read the type of literature the Government puts out at successive elections, the type of propaganda which is used purely to generate fear in the community in order to obtain a suitable climate for election propaganda, one might believe that Australians were sort of cowering curs who had no possible hope of defending themselves. {: .speaker-9F4} ##### Mr Donald Cameron:
GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND · LP -- Tripe. {: .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr SCHOLES: -- Australia had 700,000 men serving in the field during the Second World War. These men were of the same age as the honourable member who interjects. They were not called up for service; most of them were volunteers. These men fought valiantly in the last war. If we could put 700,000 well equipped and properly armed men into the field in Australia, no country in Asia including China could mount an invasion of Australia. In any event, they are not good enough swimmers to do so. The first necessity of defence is that the country concerned must believe it is capable of defending itself and its people must have the will to defence themselves. If we are to spend money on defence we should at least tell the Australian people that the money is being well spent and that what is being provided will be capable of providing them with a defence system. The Government should not tell the people simply that it is going to spend $ 1,000m on defence. It should not tell the people that if the Americans do not come to the assistance of Australia when we are attacked that we will be helpless. The facts are that Australians could put up a pretty good effort if they were attacked and if the Government of the day provided the ammunition and the necessary organisation for the defence of this country. However, I do not believe that the basis of defence is being adequately laid. I believe that too much of our defence expenditure is being used for showy equipment which may not necessarily be the best equipment. I do not profess to be an expert. {: .speaker-JR9} ##### Mr Bosman: -- We do not think you are. {: .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr SCHOLES: -- One fact from which I believe the honourable member may take heart is that before an enemy can invade this country he has to get here. At this point of time only the United States of America, Russia, Canada and possibly Norway have the necessary naval capacity to ship the number of troops required to combat the Australian forces. I am not saying that other countries could not provide the necessary naval strength in 10 or 15 years time. But at the present time only the countries I have mentioned have the capacity to bring troops to the shores of Australia. I think our defence policy should be largely based on what is possible and what will be possible. 1 do not think any nation in Asia should be dismissed from our consideration as a future possible enemy. We are not psychic; we cannot see into the future. We do not know who are going to be our friends tomorrow any more than the people of Asia or anywhere else know who are going to be their friends tomorrow. {: .speaker-9F4} ##### Mr Donald Cameron:
GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND · LP -- A bit like the Labor Party. {: .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr SCHOLES: -- We have friends and we sleep peacefully at night. The statement on defence which we are debating tells us absolutely .nothing about Australia's defence. The former Minister for Air, the honourable member for Fawkner **(Mr Howson),** who spoke before me, said that this was the first statement on defence for almost 7 months. It is about the twenty-fourth statement this Parliament has had on defence from the present Government. Over the years the Government has been very inconsistent on defence expenditures. Vietnam is pictured as a country which poses a serious worry for Australia's future. This has been said by Government spokesmen over a long period of time. The present stage of the conflict in Vietnam began in 1958. In the following years the proportion of Australia's Budget spent on defence declined in every year until 1966. The expenditure rose fractionally above the 1958 level as a proportion of the total budget in 1966. It is now some 4% above the 1958 proportion. If the Government has all this time felt that our interests were involved - our national interests and the security of future generations of Australians - then why has it continued to spend less on defence while this war has built up from what was almost a series of skirmishes in 1958 into a major confrontation in 1965-66? This is the confrontation which brought about conscription in 1964 and which was used very effectively in 1966 in an election campaign. But Australia spent less of its Budget on defence in those years than it had some 6 or 7 years earlier. It is strange that when the Government has said our security is most threatened it has reduced the amount we spend on defence. In actual money terms it grows. But as the value of money drops so rapidly, why would it not grow? In 1951 the then Prime Minister said that we had 3 years to prepare for a world war. The percentage of our gross national product which was spent on defence 2 years later was a fraction below one-half that which was spent in 1951. I am not sure whether Government supporters really believe in the defence of Australia. They talk about it a lot. The Government is spending a great deal of money on defence. 1 hope that Government supporters believe in the defence of Australia, and I sincerely hope that at some stage in the future a Minister will tell the Australian people exactly what our defence possibilities are and what is Australia's capacity for defence. At the present time, when we are, spending $US300m on purchasing aircraft, we are in fact running down our own aircraft establishments. The Government Aircraft Factory at Avalon is dismissing skilled employees because the factory has no work. Defence production is the life blood of defence. If we have to defend ourselves we have to depend on our own industries and supplies, and we have to have the capacity to do this. If we run down our own defence establishments and spend large sums of money overseas then we are not providing the best possible defence. We are providing something less than that. We are, as I said spending great sums on defence. Defence spending has become a serious drain on the Australian Budget. I think it is reasonable for the Australian people to ask that we should get something for this large expenditure. Finally, I want to deal with a matter relating to defence organisation. In his statement the Minister said it is the Government's intention to bring together the various Service colleges. But he said that at the present time the Government will not do anything about integration df the various Services. In this day it would seem that there is very little justification for having separate Service ministries and separate Services. The amount of integration which has taken place when we have been at war has been such that it would be sound for the Government very seriously to consider whether it would be practicable to copy policies which the Canadian Government and, to some extent, the British Government have adopted. These would make it possible for the best use to be made of the moneys we are spending on defence. If the Canadian example is good, it can reasonably be stated that we are spending at least $100m per year on unnecessary duplication of services. {: .speaker-JWV} ##### Mr Chaney: -- Are you sure that the Canadian experiment has been a success? {: .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr SCHOLES: -- -The Canadian Government claims that by integration of the Services it has saved $234m out of a defence budget of $ 1,600m. I do not know whether or not it is a success. I am not capable of assessing that. But the Canadian Government has saved a considerable sum of money and it does not consider that Canada is in any greater danger than it was when it was spending a greater amount on defence. The other country which is often quoted on this question of the integration of the Services is Sweden, which has a fairly extensive defence capacity. It is in a better position than we are to provide for defence capacity, because it is a much smaller country and does not have the problem of isolation that we have. But Sweden has been able to design military aircraft which, according to the experts, are very capable. They are designed and constructed in Sweden at far less cost than we are paying for aircraft which do not have a very much greater capacity. In Australia, on several occasions, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation has sought Government approval to proceed with the development of an aircraft. This is the basis of developing future defence potential in an industry which is vital to defence. As yet, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation has not received Government support for the development of an aircraft. Australia is capable of constructing the most sophisticated weapons. At the Salisbury establishment and at Woomera we are constructing rockets which we are able to export. We have constructed the Mirage aircraft. If it had been necessary we could have constructed the Fill aircraft. But we do not get the opportunity very often to use our own capacity and skills. I hope that the Government will give serious consideration to telling this House and the Australian people what we are getting for our money. {: #subdebate-32-0-s1 .speaker-KGP} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon W C Haworth:
ISAACS, VICTORIA -- Order! The honourable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-32-0-s2 .speaker-JOE} ##### Mr JEFF BATE:
Macarthur -- An honourable member opposite said that Labor governments had never reduced expenditure on defence. I have here a table of defence expenditure. I ask for leave to incorporate this table in Hansard so that we can get the actual figures. {: #subdebate-32-0-s3 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Is leave granted? {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr Clyde Cameron:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- No. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Leave is not granted. {: .speaker-JOE} ##### Mr JEFF BATE: -- -I can understand why honourable members opposite do not want this table incorporated in Hansard. Expenditure on defence under Labor governments has fallen every year. That is why the honourable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr Clyde Cameron)** would not agree to my incorporating this table in Hansard. I will give the figures. There was a peak in defence expenditure in the first year after the Labor Government took office at the outbreak of the 1939-45 war, but from 1942 onwards defence expenditure fell every year under a Labor Government. That is why honourable members opposite do not want this table incorporated in Hansard. In fact, between 1946-47 and 1949-50, when a Liberal-Country Party Government took office, defence expenditure fell from £I24m to £74m to £61m to £55m. An amount of £55m was spent on defence in the last year in which a Labor government was in office. Of course, the cautious front bencher on the Opposition side, the honourable member for Hindmarsh, would not want these figures incorporated in Hansard, and the fact that he does not want them incorporated is damning evidence that Labor fell down on defence. In fact, after the 1939-45 War the Labor Government tried to make a profit out of defence .by selling all our equipment for a very large amount of money. The sale of defence material by the Chifley Labor Government resulted in credits of £56m or SI 12m in 1945-46 and $116m in 1946-47. The Labor Government closed down the Jervis Bay naval college and it sent the cadets down to the mud flats of Flinders naval college, which is not quite the right place to bring up naval officers. The Labor Government also refused permission to the American Government to develop the Manus Island base. The American Government was prepared to spend an enormous amount of money on that base. In fact, Labor has been wrong on every matter connected with defence. Firstly, it reduced expenditure on defence. Secondly, it closed down Manus Island. Thirdly, when the Indonesian dictator said that he would annex West Irian, the then Leader of the Labor Party, the honourable member for Melbourne **(Mr Calwell),** said that we would fight to save West Irian. Honourable members must remember that statement. Of course, the then Leader of the Labor Party was wrong, because the Australian Minister for External Affairs said that it would be madness to do something which would make an enemy of Indonesia for ever, or at least for the next 100 years. He said that we must make friends with the Indonesians in this kind of situation. Of course, with the American intervention in the South West Pacific and in South East Asia, the Indonesians overthrew their dictator and the Australian Government was proved correct on Indonesia. The Australian Government was proved correct in relation to the North West Cape Naval Communication Station. All honourable members will remember the meeting at the Kingston Hotel in Canberra in May 1963 when the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party fought for 3 days over whether we should permit the Americans to put a signal station on Australian soil. The Labor Party proved itself to be wrong in its attitude to the North West Cape signal station. It was wrong in its views on the United States alliance. Consistently in this place the Labor Party has attacked alliances with the United States. Honourable members will have a recollection of what has been said in this House. The Labor Party was wrong about our intervention in South Vietnam. {: .speaker-JSU} ##### Mr Bryant: -- Tell that to the Young Liberals. {: .speaker-JOE} ##### Mr JEFF BATE: -- If honourable members want evidence of what happened, let them consider the Labor conference in Adelaide. On that occasion the Labor Executive said that we had already intervened in Vietnam, so there was nothing that Labor could do about it. This shows that they were wrong about Australia's intervention in Vietnam. They were wrong about conscription; in fact they were dead wrong about conscription. During the 1966 election campaign one honourable member who sat in this place for 24 years paid an enormous price for a full page advertisement bearing the words 'Vote against conscription'. But what happened? After 24 years in this place he lost his seat, because he advised people to vote against conscription. So the Labor Party was wrong again. Members of the Labor Party in this place were the ones who soft-pedalled the attack on conscription and defence. {: .speaker-JSU} ##### Mr Bryant: -- The honourable member knows that that is not true. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable member for Wills will cease interjecting. {: .speaker-K5L} ##### Mr Cope: -- I rise to order. The honourable member keeps' pointing his finger al me. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! There is no substance to the point of order. {: .speaker-JOE} ##### Mr JEFF BATE: -- If the honourable member for Watson takes these remarks as applying to him I have no objection. I have been told by honourable members opposite that they were not stupid enough to attack the Federal Executive's policy on defence and they soft-pedalled. I think the honourable member for Watson is honest and believes that I was pointing a finger at him. I was not really doing so but perhaps he thought I was. But if he wants it that way, that is all right with me. Members of the Labor Party who are in this place were the ones who soft-pedalled on the Labor Party's policy on defence. Labor has been dead wrong on everything concerned with defence. At the 1955 conference held in Hobart the Labor Party was wrong about withdrawing troops from Malaya. It was wrong about our intervention in Vietnam and it was wrong about conscription. Apparently orders have now gone forth from the commissars of the Labor Party to inform honourable members opposite that they do not have a policy on defence and that they have no foreign policy. Apparently they have been told that all they can do is to ask questions. The honourable member for Corio asked a number of questions about the Government's policy on defence. As the member for Macarthur, representing the 176,000 Australian souls in my electorate, 1 can say that so far as I am concerned the Government's policy on defence is quite clear, lt is that we will carry out the historic and traditional Australian policy to defend Australia outside Australia. We did this with the Sudan contingent, we did it in the Boer War, we did it in the 1914-18 war; we did it in the 1939-45 war, we did it in Korea and now we are doing it in Vietnam. What is the use of talking about something which might happen in Malaya? lt would be the same as if Churchill had said: 'We will keep all our forces in England in case there is an attack across the Channel. We will nol fight Hitler in the Middle East.' But he did fight Hitler in the Middle East and bled Germany white in the Middle East. He sent every nian, every tank and every round of ammunition possible to the Middle East and destroyed Germany in the Middle East. The same thing happened in the 1914-18 war when the Australian Light Horse Brigade captured two Turkish armies in Palestine, lt was all part of the same traditional and historic policy. Yet the moment all these things are mentioned, the Labor Party claims the credit. Members of the Labor Party say that they won the last war. The honourable member for Watson is laughing, but we have all heard Labor men claim that, they won the 1939-45 war when in fact they ran down Australia's defence expenditure. But our policy is to defend Australia where it is most important for us to do so. What would be the use of sending troops to Malaya if we were to lose in Vietnam? What would be the use of trying to contain Indonesia if we were to lose in Vietnam? What would be the use in trying to save Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma and India if we were to lose in Vietnam? The defence of Australia is going on in Vietnam. If we attempted to cut down on defence expenditure in Vietnam or to reduce expenditure by pulling out of Vietnam, or if the United States did so, we would find immediately that our expenditure on defence would be doubled because we would be in such frightful danger. Australia's record through her Navy, Army and Air Force has raised the image and reputation of Australia to a tremendous height. Our Army has the only troops who are trained in jungle warfare and it has gained great distinction in Vietnam. The Navy has performed the task allotted to it. The Air Force also has clone a magnificent job. We know that if members of the Royal Australian Air Force, who are bombing from Canberras - I think these are the aircraft we are using - do not land their bombs within 50 yards of the target there is an immediate inquiry. Bombing by Australians is very accurate. Our Australian jungle troops are superb. They are magnificent. If I could reiterate what I said earlier, they stand so high that they can be likened to the Greek heroes of hundreds of years ago. Everybody in this place and throughout Australia is proud of these troops. But this is all part of our defence policy to save Australia in Vietnam. The moment there is a withdrawal from Vietnam, the moment there is any attempt to get out of Vietnam, we will be in serious trouble. Some reference has been made to what will happen if Indonesia falls. Indonesia will fall because, although the Communist heads of the cadres have been destroyed by the fanatical Moslems, the cadres are still working. That country, with 120 million people, is balanced on a razor's edge. Nobody knows whether it will go away from an armed control back to a Communist dictatorship. What purpose would be served by having troops in Malaya? The Tunku has said that if the Chinese imperial aggressors come down into Malaysia his people would not fight because it would be useless to do so. He is the leader of the Malaysians. If that is his attitude, what would we gain by trying to defend Malaysia? Churchill's policy in the Middle East was correct. That policy meant that everything Britain could afford was sent to the Middle East because the lines of communication for the Germans and Italians were too long, stretching as they did across the island of Malta. The honourable member for Fawkner **(Mr Howson)** is well aware of that. Churchill's policy was correct. Australia's defence policy also is correct. It is to send our troops overseas, to have conscription and to allow young men to have the privilege of giving 2 years of their lives to the defence of their country. This Government was the one which took this courageous step. This Government had to introduce conscription. For this it was attacked by everybody; by the student demonstrators, by the Labor Party, by all the riff raff round the place. It was attacked for doing something which meant that we were a nation. This was the correct decision for the Government to make but the Labor Party has found that this is wrong. Speaking for the electorate I represent, I say we defend Australia. In my electorate I went to no fewer than seventeen meetings and said to the people at them: 'If you do not want conscription, get rid of me'. I gained the greatest majority on record. If the Labor Party members want any proof of this, they should look at and study their own propaganda which was sent out prior to the election. Every Labor member who valued his seat said: 'I am not going to attack the defence policy. I am not going to attack conscription.' The former honourable member for Eden-Monaro spoke otherwise and he. went out of office after holding Eden-Monaro for 24 years. This happened because he attacked conscription. lt does not matter what we read in the university journals or what actions are taken by the student demonstrators. None of these things matter because the heart of Australia is strong and determined to defend this land. The heart of Australia says that we will go into those countries, spend these enormous sums of money and deny ourselves many of the things that we want so that we can defend this country. Australia's defence policy and foreign policy are sound and right along the centre line. We will defend this country to the ultimate and defend it in a way that will bring to it a tremendous image and reputation and all those things which come to a country with a small population but a gallant and determined heart. This has been Australia's record throughout history. We will continue this. There will be no deterrent to this policy and we will come through. At the moment the Americans are in the throes of an election campaign. Their policy is in some doubt except that the Republicans, under Governor Rockefeller, have come out with the same policy as that of President Johnson. At the moment we are waiting for our leaders, the Minister for Defence **(Mr Fairhall)** and the Minister for External Affairs **(Mr Hasluck),** to go to the five power conference in Kuala Lumpur in June. That conference will make a decision about Malaysia. It will not be to our benefit to waste, to allow to wither away or to whittle away, our resources in Malaysia. The place to beat the aggressor is in Vietnam. Of course, what is happening in Vietnam represents traditional Chinese military policy over thousands of years. This was their policy when the Chinese Communists took Tibet. This was the policy of expansion adopted by Imperial China which happens at the moment to be clothed with Communism.I say to members of the left wing of the Labor Party that nobody would be more disappointed than they if they softened our resolution to defeat the Chinese, who happen to be. Communist at the moment, because their ideology happens to be acceptable to certain people at the back of the Labor Party. If this happened it would break the heart of the left wing of the Labor Party as it broke the heart of **Mr Nehru** when he believed what the Chinese were saying to him. Communist China not only took Tibet and murdered and destroyed the centre of the Buddhist religion; it even constructed a military road through India to connect Sinkiang and Tibet. **Mr Nehru** went to the grave with a broken heart because he had believed that the Communists would deal fairly with him. All that the Communists were doing, in fact, was to carry our China's 2,000 years old military expansion policy. Members of the left wing of the Labor Party would be the most sorry persons if the Communists took control of South East Asia. There are some people who believe that Australia would not be at risk when Indonesia, Singapore and India go to the Communists. They believe we would be saved because, as one honourable member said, the Chinese cannot swim. What absolute nonsense. Australia is completely isolated in the South West Pacific. Australia is without people for thousands of miles. Australia would definitely be at risk if those countries fell. Our policy is to continue the operations of the strike force in Vietnam in order to defend Australia in that area and nowhere else. {: #subdebate-32-0-s4 .speaker-JP5} ##### Mr BENSON:
Batman -- The honourable member for Macarthur **(Mr Jeff Bate)** said that **Mr Winston** Churchill, as he then was, sent most but not all of the British material to the Middle East during the Second World War. This is only partly true because at the same time he sent a lot of material and equipment to Russia. It is well to record that during that period some 75 convoys sailed, through all weathers, from the United Kingdom to Russia in order to maintain a base in that country. There are very few exact sciences in the world. For instance, navigation is not an exact science. It is impossible to fix a ship's position accurately by the sun, the stars or the planets. It is possible to get within a mile or a half mile. But navigation is not an exact science. It is true also to say that defence forecasting is not an exact science. If we look at what has happened over the last 2 years this is readily revealed. Two events of major importance have occurred since November 1967, namely, Britain's announcement that she will withdraw from South East Asia, except for Hong Kong, by 1971, and the American decision to de-escalate in South Vietnam and to seek negotiations to end the war there. Both these events will affect Australia more than any other country because Australia has fought in South East Asia with both Britain and America. Britain's announcement to withdraw from South East Asia is far more important than the American decision. Britain has been part of South East Asia for well over 200 years whereas America is a comparatively new arrival. Australia, like a lot of countries in Asia and South East Asia, has looked to Britain as a safeguard. This safeguard has now gone and Australia has to stand on her own feet and make her own decisions. To put it mildly, between 1965 and 1967 - and I am sorry to have to say this - Britain pulled the wool over our eyes. I do not say that this was done deliberately but it happened. This can be seen clearly if people like to read the various British White Papers on this subject. For instance, the British White Paper, No. 2901, published in February 1966, stated that after a far reaching examination of the nation's defence needs in the next decade' it was the Government's view that 'it is in the Far East and southern Asia that the greatest danger to peace may lie in the next decade ... We believe it is right that Britain should continue to maintain a military presence in this area.' We remember that in June 1967 the Prime Minister of Great Britain warned Labour members in that country that the world was too small for Britain to 'contract out and leave it to the Americans and Chinese, eyeball to eyeball, to face this thing out'. In the same month **Mr Healey** said publicly in London that Britain would stay east of Suez probably into the 1980s because the nation had a special problem there and a special opportunity to act as a power for stability. At the same time, **Mr Michael** Stewart, when here in Canberra, gave an assurance that 'we have neither the wish nor the intention to abandon the world east of Suez*. I think one of the most important things that was said in Britain by the Prime Minister, in the White Paper on Defence - and this was in June 1966 - was that it would be premature if Britain were to contract out of its east of Suez responsibilities. The British Prime Minister said that this would be the surest prescription for nuclear holocaust that he could think of. Yet only two months later Britain was making plans to get out. 1 will say more on that subject later. This is an important matter because, as the House knows, a good deal has been said lately about Australia's participation in a nuclear non-proliferation agreement. We are being asked to sign the agreement while two of our comparative neighbours - mainland China and France - are in the process of carrying out nuclear experiments. While such experiments continue Australia should never make herself defenceless. On other occasions I have expressed the hope that France will discontinue her experiments in the Pacific. I am on record as saying that when the French tests took place in the Pacific it was to the west of Australia that we would have to look for nuclear fallout. My predictions proved to be right. The fallout was caught up in the westerly wind drift. Following the explosions on Mururoa Atoll, some fallout has been located in Western Australia. Where the fallout occurs depends on the direction in which the wind blows. It would be wrong of us in this country to sit back and not bother about atomic knowhow while mainland China and France continue their nuclear experiments. I am not aware of anything to suggest that China will not continue her nuclear experiments. I would hope that these countries would cease such experiments, but China persists- {: .speaker-KCI} ##### Mr Devine: -- Under extreme provocation. {: .speaker-JP5} ##### Mr BENSON: -- I am not interested in her reasons; China is still carrying out tests. France is persisting with tests and is about to explode another nuclear device in the Pacific. What should Australia do now that Britain is getting out of the area and America is likely to get out of countries adjacent to us, bearing in mind that France's nearest territory, New Caledonia, is only a few thousand miles away? I would like the Government to consider carefully its decision to purchase the Fill aircraft. I want Australia to have the finest defences possible. If we must pay for our defences, that cannot be helped. We must ask ourselves whether we are getting value for money in purchasing 24 Fill aircraft when for the same expenditure we could purchase 100 Phantom aircraft. The former Minister for Air, the honourable member for Fawkner **(Mr Howson),** dealt with this matter late this afternoon. He said that one of the things against the Phantom is that it has to be refuelled in flight if it is to make long range sorties. This is true, but as 1 have said, defence planning is not an exact science. This kind of attitude towards the Phantom may have been all right 6 months ago, but the position in South East Asia has changed since then. What will happen now thai Britain has declared her intention to get out of the area? I suppose America will also get out eventually because when a peace treaty is signed some conditions will be imposed and I dare say that a time limit will be fixed for America's withdrawal from the area. What will Australia do then? Will it be better for us to have 100 Phantom aircraft or 24 Fill aircraft at a cost of $266m? I know a little about ships and a little about aircraft. If we have twenty-four aircraft not all of them will be front line aircraft. During the Battle of the Atlantic only one-third of the available ships were going to the battle area; one-third were returning from the area and another one-third were held in reserve. I do not know whether this is done with aircraft, but if it is we would have a potential of eight aircraft for the defence of this country. The number may be greater. In all the circumstances I think it would be better to consider the purchase of the Phantom. I know that this aircraft has been considered by the Air Staff. I asked a question in the House on this subject about 3 years ago after **Sir Valston** Hancock had spoken about the Phantom. He was of the opinion at that time that this would be the aircraft for Australia. I think it would be the aircraft for us today, although I do not have sufficient knowledge to be sure. There is not much difference between the performance of the Phantom and that of the FI 11. If we bought 100 Phantoms, after we had lost 24 of them - our total number of aircraft if we bought Fill's - we would still have more than 70 aircraft in operation. This is an aspect that must be considered. A perusal of 'Jane's All the World's Aircraft' in the Library reveals interesting, but obviously not secret, details of the performances of these aircraft. At sea level the Fill is capable of a speed of mach 1.2, compared with the Phantom's speed of mach 1.15. At altitude the Fill is capable of a speed of mach 2.5 compared with the Phantom's speed of mach 2.25. So there is not much difference in the speed of the two aircraft. Admittedly the Phantom does not have the range of the Fill, but we must pay regard to changing operational conditions. I have already said that defence planning is not an exact science. In the last 6 months the outlook has changed. We must keep pace with this change and plan accordingly. I would like to see a system of universal national service training introduced in Australia. This is not a revolutionary proposal. We had such a system, introduced by a Labor government in, I think, .1912. This gave us 2 years to get ready to fight a war in Europe. On the base that was laid in that scheme we were able to send five divisions overseas. As I see things, we will never again send men from one side of the world to fight on the other side. As Europeans we are in Asia to stay. As other Europeans get out of other parts of Asia, we will still be here. I hope that we will never have to defend Australia on our own soil, but it may happen and we must be ready -for any eventuality. This is why I say that we should have a national service training scheme under which everybody does his bit. I had to do my training under a scheme referred to as universal military training. It is not asking too much for Australia to have five divisions of militia, ft is absolutely necessary to build up our naval and air reserves in proportion to our military strength. I am glad that our military experts have had the good sense to include on the Military Board a militia general. We have had some very distinguished generals in the militia. General Risson, General MacarthurOnslow and General Vickery all have been men of great experience. But the other Services do not emulate the Army in this respect. I would like to see on the Naval Board a member of the Naval Reserve. He would bring to the Board's discussions his knowledge not only of the sea but also of commercial life. The highest rank that an officer may attain in the Naval Reserve is that of captain, which corresponds to the rank of colonel in the Army. The Naval Reserve has never had any officer of higher rank than captain. The Navy could say that this is because the Reserve has few members, but it is the Government's responsibility to investigate and to find out what has happened to our militia and reserve forces. 1 have taken out a few figures. In 1958 the Royal Australian Naval Reserve had a strength of 7,982; in 1967 the number was 3,931. This force has been cut by half. This cannot be allowed to continue; in time of war the reserves become five times greater than the permanent forces. The same development occurs in the Army. Something must be done to get our militia back to the strength that it should be. In 1967 the Army had a total force, including national servicemen, of 41,464, with a militia of 34,670, yet in 1956 the militia had a strength of 87,291. Something has happened, with the Naval Reserve being cut by half from 1958 to 1967, and the militia being similarly reduced. When a militia drops from 87,000 to 34,000 there is some reason. *1* do not want to say what I think the reason is; it is for the Government to look into these things and see that they are put right. I am glad to know that some patrol boats are being built to patrol our coast. The decision to build them was a correct one. We are very lucky in this country that the various senior officers in the Services are good, capable men. As 1 said, we are very fortunate that we have them, but something must be done to bring others into the picture, particularly in the Naval Reserve, of which I speak because it is a Service that I was with for some 30 years. The whole of the patrolling which must be done around this island continent could be carried out by the Naval Reserve, lt is absolutely necessary, and it is silly to say that the Naval Reserve could not do it and that it has limited capabilities. That is not true. The young man of today learns as quickly to use the new gadgets as the young men in my time. Though at one time it was said that, because of this, that and the other, it would take 2 years to train a soldier before he could go to Vietnam, our soldiers now go there after 9 months of national service training. I am glad that happens. Naval people will learn just as quickly. They proved it when electronics came to the fore in World War II, and naval reserves and the scientists who came into the service picked up the techniques quickly. However, there are several things that I should like to see done in our Navy. I should like the Navy to have a hospital ship in South-East Asia. Germany is sending a hospital ship there. It would be better to send a big passenger ship, converted into a hospital ship on which operations could be carried out and medical examinations could be made of people in the area. We should do that whether the people are suffering from war injuries or civil injuries, and thus show our goodwill towards the people of that area. It is time we sent our own ice breakers down to the Antarctic, ft is wrong for this country to call on a little country like Denmark to come out here and do a job which we should be doing for ourselves. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-32-0-s5 .speaker-KWR} ##### Mr TURNER:
Bradfield -- It is not my intention to fly with the honourable member for Batman **(Mr Benson)** among his Phantoms in the air, or to pursue him on to the Naval Board, or to march with him in the Citizen Military Forces, or to move with him amongst his ice breakers down to the South Pole. Let me, rather, develop my own concepts on this matter. The situation that Australia now faces is different from any it has ever faced before. We stand at a crossroads in our national history. The Dutch and the French have long since left the area to the north of Australia. The British are in process of withdrawal. The Americans may well be disengaging on the mainland of Asia. China is emerging as a nuclear power, and there are new and unstable nations in South East Asia. The Opposition has criticised the statement made by the Minister for Defence **(Mr Fairhall)** last Thursday night. It has called for a distinctive Australian policy, but what does the Opposition put forward? Most of us would agree that we should have a distinctive policy, but the Opposition has not assisted us in forming any opinion as to what this ought to be. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr Barnard),** as the Defence spokesman of the Opposition, put forward some vague generalisations and spent the greater part of his speech dealing with the increased cost of the Fill. This was hardly an alternative policy, let alone a distinctive Australian policy in respect of defence. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr Crean),** an economics spokesman for the Opposition, put forward some very sensible considerations from his point of view. The generalities were good. They were lacking in detail, perhaps for lack of information for which he could not be blamed, and they were not wholly convincing. He looked forward to there being a greater Australian content in the manufacture of equipment for the armed Services, but he did not tell us whether we could produce in Australia items such as the DDGs or the Fill. One suspects that we could not. Therefore, as I say, his contribution, though a sensible one, lacked the convincing nature that detail would have given it. The honourable member for Wills **(Mr Bryant),** who I understand holds no official position in the Labor Party but who seems unofficially to represent Red China and the peaceful intentions of that country, called for a plainer statement of policy. With this I agree, except that I do not agree that such a statement could be made at this time. He called for a reappraisal of our whole situation. This of course was right, but the question is, what kind of appreciation does one make? Here he fell down on the job in my opinion, because he considered that there was no danger confronting Australia from any source at all. In an area which is highly unstable, where China is developing nuclear weapons and where we have become familiar with a great power using smaller nations as proxies for its aggression, this was not convincing to me. I do not believe it was convincing to the House and I am quite certain it is not convincing to the Australian people. Although he saw no .danger from any source, he felt that there should be universal military training in Australia to produce a body like the National Guard in the United States, the members of which he said, could fly aircraft and do many things that we regard as being the particular province of professional forces. I do not believe that this is possible in our context. In any event it is inconsistent to say that there is no danger and then claim that we should protect ourselves by this means. When we come to analyse the proposition, the means suggested are not likely to achieve the purpose anyhow. The reasons for not delivering a definitive statement at this moment are perfectly clear to most honourable members. There are many ambiguities in the British position. We do not know yet whether the British will ever come back into this part of the world strategically. As far as the Americans are concerned, it would appear from a study of the speeches of the candidates in the presidential election that they are likely to withdraw from Vietnam and from the mainland of Asia as soon as they can. Nevertheless, this is still uncertain. Then next month we have the five-power conference in Kuala Lumpur between the British, Australians, New Zealanders, Malaysians and Singaporeans. One would hardly expect the Government to say precisely what line it will take at that conference in advance. If the Government did so, there would be no point in its going to the conference; it would already have stated its position and there could be no change from it. However, the Minister has given sufficient hints on this matter. He said: >To date we have taken no decisions. Then he states that certain options are open to us. We can station a garrison in Malaysia, as we have done with the British and New Zealanders there in the past. We can confine ourselves to a training role and provide a training cadre in that country. Or we can have a mobile force, I assume stationed in Australia, capable of swift deployment in Malaysia if need be and if this were desired by the Malaysians. This is a pretty plain hint that no decision has been taken and that these options are still open. Any assistance that we might render in that area could be, as the Minister said, 'a contribution directed to areas where the growing capability of the Malaysian and Singaporean forces most need help'. This would not necessarily be the form of help that we have provided in the past. This, I would understand, means air, naval and ancillary ground assistance, and possibly a training cadre. It does not mean the kind of garrison we have had there in the past. The hint is clear enough in the Minister's statement. Then we come to the treaties with those countries. This is the concept of the fivepower conference in Kuala Lumpur next month. The Minister said: >We look to regional co-operative arrangements. He could not have more clearly said that we no longer step into the shoes of the British to protect the Malaysians and Singaporeans against aggression from whatever quarter it may come. He could not have more clearly said that this is the Government's concept of our future role, that the Government's concept is rather of Australia as part of co-operative arrangements that would quite obviously include other States such as Indonesia and perhaps the Philippines. With all this we could agree. I pass over his reference to New Zealand, except to say that I rather doubt his statement, which was: >Australia and New Zealand have what approaches an identity of strategic interests. 1 wonder whether New Zealand would really regard an attack on New Guinea as if it were an attack on the north or south island of New Zealand? The Minister went on to speak about the achievements of the Government in the past. This is genuine and fair enough. The Air Force, the Navy and the Army have done reasonably well with manpower, although I understand there are shortages in the Navy and to some extent in the Air Force. These forces are better equipped than they have ever been before. Army equipment has improved and training is certainly excellent. The Navy has its DDGs, submarines and aeroplanes. The Air Force has its Mirages and the controversial Fil l aircraft are coming along. Our forces have probably never been so well equipped. Of course the DDGs, the submarines and the Fill aircraft are all imported. This places great strain on our overseas funds and there may be questions arising from this circumstance. The Minister referred to integration. The only comment I have to make is that integration of the forces in a moderate way through a joint college for cadets in all the Services and an Australian Services Staff College are good as far as they go. Perhaps they might have been started 10 years ago when there was some discussion of those matters in this place. I remember in particular the matter being raised by the late Air Vice-Marshal Bostock. Having said this and accepted that the Government is not in a position at this moment to make a proper assessment of our needs - I am thinking here in terms of the triennial review - I pass on nevertheless to some more critical comments. By critical I do not necessarily mean antagonistic. I mean comments that are not necessarily in line with what has been said on behalf of the Government. First of all I refer to the inadequacy of parliamentary debates on defence issues. This debate began on Thursday night without any notice as far as I know to other than those who took part in it on that occasion, unless perhaps we had 2 or 3 hours notice. The Opposition has no spokesman with recent experience in office of defence matters and this blunts the edge of criticism in this place. This is one of the unfortunate penalties of having an Opposition that is not a viable alternative government and that has been in the wilderness for a long time. Indeed, the Parliament itself lacks ex-service officers of experience and industrialists, people who in the House of Commons are able to bring a critical judgment to bear on defence issues in the Parliament. The Opposition is, of course, distracted by its own internal feuds and this prevents concentration on grave matters of this kind. So the parliamentary debates have been gravely defective in this field. The Government has made no promise about the date of the triennal review. I have said that it can well be excused for not giving the date of a final and definitive review at this point of time, but one would look forward to this kind of review in the not distant future lest, as I think the honourable member for Fawkner **(Mr Howson)** said, orders that ought to be placed now are not placed. We cannot get defence equipment off a hook as we might buy a ready made suit of clothes. The decisions have to be taken well in advance. Statements on defence, the triennial statements and indeed the annual statements, have in the past been mere catalogues of ironmongery rather than details filling in a strategic framework and the annual White Papers have suffered from the same defect. In fact, the Parliament and the public have been quite uninformed on the strategic basis of the Government's defence planning. We have merely had catalogues of ironmongery. This may pass in Australia but it would not pass in other countries. There has been no machinery in this Parliament, such as the 5 days devoted to the defence estimates in the House of Commons, for the debate of defence issues. Our debates on the defence estimates are, to say the least of it, uninformed and perfunctory. A paternalistic attitude still exists in this field as in others. Father is in the shape of the Brahmins of the Government and the Mandarins of the Public Service. Father knows best; let not the Parliament have any views on these matters. It may well be that the Parliament is stupid. But I believe the people must be informed. We cannot have any policy that under stress will be accepted and is viable unless the people understand what it is. They want to know where they are going, why they are going there and what is their part in the enterprise. If this information is not given to them, under stress morale breaks down. Let this be plainly understood. May I make some few comments on particular defence issues? Firstly 1 deal with the general situation. We cannot let down our guard in an unstable area where there is uncertain support from the United States and from Britain, our great and powerful friends. We might not be able to maintain a forward stance in relation to the actions of the British and Americans on the Asian mainland. In any event, our great and powerful friends might be committed in other areas, such as the Middle East. We found ourselves in a situation in about 1941 when the British and Americans were indeed committed - at a time when Winston Churchill, who has been greatly honoured in this country, regarded Australia as being expendable for the time being. This is something that we should not forget. This suggests the development of sea and air power, especially in view of the vulnerability of our capital cities, all of which are extremely vulnerable from the sea. If we cannot keep an enemy at arm's length in Asia, at least we should keep him at elbow's length across the sea. 1 have heard no suggestion that we should give consideration to the development of sea and air power, having in mind our changed strategic situation. The consequences of the general situation are these: So far as Malaysia and Singapore are concerned, I would opt for air and sea support rather than a garrison. The Minister mentioned certain options. I think that the Army should have a professional expeditionary force and should begin to develop the Citizen Military Forces, as various honourable members have suggested. Something has been said already about the Indian Ocean. I should imagine that the time is not far distant when we should do something about establishing a naval base in that ocean not only for our own ships but for the ships of our allies, in the event of the Indian Ocean becoming an important arena. Indeed, it could become an important arena when one considers the problems relating to Middle East oil and other problems that arise around the verge of the Indian Ocean. We should develop a base, perhaps, as suggested, at Cockburn Sound. In addition, we should establish an air base in the north west of Western Australia. Coming now to the problems of supply, I go back to what was said by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr Crean).** We are producing aircraft, such as the Mirage, under licence, but the Swedes are producing fighter planes of their own design. The significant point is that Sweden is a smaller country than Australia. Can we not do a little more in this particular field? Further, we have a number of shipyards, and maybe we could build more of our own ships. In addition, our motor industry and steel industry should enable us to build our own tanks. In the electronics field we have developed the Malkara and the Ikara weapons systems, which are now being used in our ships and elsewhere. We also have some repair facilities for electronic equipment. In view of these matters, surely we can do more towards providing our own supplies. Indeed, we must, both because we want to be sure of our supplies and to conserve our overseas funds. Perhaps a parliamentary committee could be established to keep the Opposition informed on these matters, because there is a great danger in having an Opposition that has been in the wilderness for a long time coming into office in complete ignorance of many of the matters that it could learn in such a committee. Of course, many of these things are secret, but by no means all of them are secret. Although I do not have the time to develop my argument on nuclear defence, as the Chinese are developing nuclear weapons surely it would be folly for us, a small population on the fringe of Asia, to give away the opportunity to develop weapons of this kind in the future if we should desire to do so. If we lack numbers, then we must have quality, and it may well be that we should not throw away our opportunity to develop this weapon defence merely to make a gesture to the United States of America. That would be futile and useless and could be an example to no-one. 1 have not time to develop the other matters (hat I should like to mention. I intended to say something about our aid strategy in Asia; that probably belongs to the sphere of external affairs, although in the broader sense it is a matter of defence. As to cost, must we throw away $10Om on useless dams in Queensland and Western Australia, and then claim that we do not have money for defence? Must we have an inefficient economy, with flaccid industries, through a tariff policy that results in feather bedding? I suggest that much is to be saved. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-32-0-s6 .speaker-KJO} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter -- In this important debate I wish to put some of the record straight. If one is afraid to tell some of the truth about China because he believes he risks being called a spokesman for Red China or People's China, I do not think he is worthy of being a member of this Parliament. The honourable member for Bradfield **(Mr Turner)** criticised my colleague the honourable member for Wills **(Mr Bryant),** but I wish that he had more of the sincerity, truthfulness and frank speaking of the honourable member for Wills. If he had, he would be a much more worthy member of this House. The honourable member for Mararthur **(Mr Jeff Bate)** launched rather strong criticism against members of the Opposition for some of their remarks during this debate. Of course, we do not always take these comments very seriously. However, he did mention our involvement in Vietnam, claiming that our policy of being in Vietnam is right. He also said, 'We will defend Australia to the ultimate'. It is with great regret that I have to say so, but everyone knows in his heart that we are not winning the war in Vietnam. I remember what was said to me by a man who was criticised in this Parliament tonight - a man for whom I have great admiration. I refer to the former member for Parkes, **Mr Leslie** Haylen, who at the otubreak of this war in Asia said to me: 'Bert James, they will never beat the Asians on the land. lt is a war between the elephant and the whale, the Asians being the elephant and the whale being the United States of America. The elephant cannot get into the water to kill the whale, and the whale cannot go on to the land to kill the elephant.' I realised the significance of those few words, and I regret to see how truly they are working out. I believe that the quicker we can get out of it, in the best way possible, the better. Without unnecessarily introducing mirth into this debate, the situation reminds me of what happened one night many years ago when I was sitting in the Sydney Stadium watching a preliminary bout. After about four rounds one of the contestants came back to his corner with both eyes bleeding, and with his nose, mouth and ears bleeding. I heard one of his seconds say, as he sponged him with iced water and fanned him with a towel: 'You will do him in this round. He has not laid a glove on you yet.' Through all the blood, the boxer replied, Then watch that bleeding referee, because someone is bashing hell out of me'. That is virtually what is happening to us in Asia. lt is a war in which we should not have been involved. I do not hide the fact that I visited China in 1962. I know that members of the Government also have visited there. Before proceeding to the comments I want to make on this subject, I remind the House that the Minister for Defence **(Mr Fairhall)** said during this debate on Thursday last Communist China has emerged as a major power with a developing nuclear capability. lt was with some degree of interest that we learned what the Chinese school children are being taught in the schools today. The Chinese children are being taught to be suspicious of Europeans. They are told You cannot trust white men, Europeans, because of what they have done to us down the ages'. We have only to take our minds back to what happened in the Opium War in the 1850s. The information is to be found in the Parliamentary Library if anyone cares to read it. Government members completely shut their minds and eyes to this sort of thing and continue to try to mislead the Australian electors. They have had a degree of success in this regard with the aid of newspapers, radio and television over the years. What happened in the 1850s in the Opium War? Practically the whole of the Chinese population was under the influence of the obnoxious and dangerous drug opium to such an extent that opium was being imported from Hong Kong by British merchants in China. The Government of China of the day appointed Commissioner Lin to go to Canton to clean up the racket. He went to Canton. He reported to his Government that he was unable to clean up the racket because all his officers were involved in it and had been involved in it for many years. The Government of China then decided to write to Queen Victoria in Great Britain. It did so. Copies of the letters are available in the Parliamentary Library. The Chinese Government pointed out to Queen Victoria that she had prevented the dangerous drug opium from entering Great Britain because it might affect the health of her subjects. The Chinese Government appealed to Queen Victoria to try to stop opium coming into Canton in British ships. The Chinese received no reply to their letters. This is the sort of thing that is being taught to Chinese children in Chinese schools today. Is it any wonder that the cultural revolution has reached the height that it has when the Chinese children are being taught such things? The Irish people are being taught still not to love and to admire the British because of the belting which the Black and Tans gave the Irish after 1918 and the treatment meted out to the Irish by the British in the 1820s. That hatred is still being engendered in the Irish people. The same kind of hatred is being engendered in the Chinese. Is it any wonder that the Chinese have developed a nuclear potential? I, like other honourable members in this House, hoped that China had not developed this potential. But is it any wonder that China has done so in view of the fact that it is virtually surrounded by United States nuclear bases. The United States has bases on Okinawa and in Japan and has powerful nuclear bases in the off-shore islands of Matsu and Quemoy, and on Taiwan. We are told that the United States is our great and powerful ally. I notice that the United States is referred to at least three times in the speech delivered by the previous speaker, the honourable member for Bradfield, as our great and powerful friend. Members of the Government when they repeat this set phrase which was introduced into this House by a former Prime Minister, **Sir Robert** Menzies, do not use the word honourable' to describe our great and powerful ally. No, the United States is not described as our honest, honourable, great, powerful friend and ally. Members of the Government condensed the phrase to the words 'our great and powerful friend'. The United States is great. It is powerful. But, to my mind, the Government always adopts the method of using phrases like this in order to leave the sliprail down so that it can skate backwards when our great and powerful ally meets - I hope it will not, but it will - greater humiliation than it is suffering in South Vietnam now. {: .speaker-KKB} ##### Mr Jess: -- Did the honourable member get them to love him in Uganda? {: .speaker-KJO} ##### Mr JAMES: -- I got them to believe me, and that is more than the honourable member for La Trobe can do in this House. Yes, I got them to believe me. The point I was making before the honourable member interjected was that China virtually is afraid of the nuclear umbrella that is so near it. I asked the Chinese whether they were setting too high a priority on military weapons. I said: 'Do you not need schools and a higher standard of living for your people?'. The Chinese told me: 'Yes, we do. But we have been invaded on a number of occasions in our history. We are in fear of another invasion.' They said: **'Mr James,** we are virtually encircled by United States military bases.' They referred to the United States military bases at Okinawa, the offshore islands that I have mentioned, the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan and South Korea. {: .speaker-JOA} ##### Mr Barnes: -- Russia? {: .speaker-KJO} ##### Mr JAMES: -- No, not Russia, **Sir, at** this point, ls this not a reason why China should develop a nuclear potential as soon as possible? When the honourable member for Batman **(Mr Benson)** referred to the development by China of nuclear weapons I said that the Chinese were under extreme provocation. 1 do not think that any man in this House who is truthful and honest with himself cannot say that China has been under extreme provocation to develop a nuclear potential. But we refrain from admitting that this is so. We refrain because we might be branded Communists or because we are afraid that the newspapers will censure us in our electorates and we will lose our seats in this Parliament. The time has come when more of these truths should be told and when men who claim to be honourable members should be honourable with the Australian community and tell the truth about what is going on in the world. The real reason why we fight to prevent countries going over to Communism is that if they do so they join the Communist: bloc and we then have no outlet for our goods. Country Party members to a marked extent refrain more than do Liberal Party members from criticising Communist China. They know that if they continued to criticise the Chinese as Liberal Party members do they would be in direct conflict with their consciences. They would have no outlet for their surplus wool and wheat and would be voted out of power by the cocky farmers' who would need to restrict production, put off labour and suffer a rauch lower income. This is why the Country Party does not join the Liberal Party in strong condemnation of Communist China. It is noticeable that no members of the Country Party in this House are speaking in this debate {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr Turnbull: -- That is not true. {: .speaker-KJO} ##### Mr JAMES: -- The honourable member for Mallee apparently intends to speak. {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr Turnbull: -- No. The Country Party has spoken already. {: .speaker-KJO} ##### Mr JAMES: -- I would like to hear the honourable member express his frank opinion as to whether he believes in sending wheat to Communist China and why he does not support China's admission to the United Nations. 1 wish to point out to the House how much China is a danger to other Asian countries, or is supposed to be. Malaysia, one of the world's largest rubber producing countries, sells approximately £stgl2m worth of raw rubber to Communist China each year. If raw rubber cannot be regarded as the kind of strategic material, which we refrain from sending to Communist China, I do not know what it is. If tyres for armoured vehicles cannot be made out of raw rubber, I will agree that it is not a strategic material. Also, Malaysia sells to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics approximately £stgl3m worth of raw rubber each year. So, the wool is being pulled over the eyes of the Australian electors. They are told that we must build up a mighty defence potential and to hell with the cost. They are told that we must have a fleet of Fill aircraft because the Chinese will invade us. China has a history of not invading other countries for over 400 years or 500 years. Every member on the Government side knows that if China were an aggressive country it could walk through Macao or Hong Kong tomorrow if it wished. But I have heard no Government member say anything about one of our Commonwealth countries, India, with a population of 500 million, which walked straight through Portuguese Goa a couple of years ago. The Portuguese Government protested. It raised its voice to Great Britain, lt said: If you do not raise your voice about this action, we will consider breaking the treaty we have had with you from the 17th century by which we allow- British warships to come into Portuguese ports.' No, India is not an aggressive country although it walked through Portuguese Goa! 1 wish to place this statement on record and I will accept responsibility for it: I have yet to be convinced that China was the aggressor in the border disputes with India. I have yet to be convinced because I have more faith in the statements of Lord Bertrand Russell than I have in statements from any members of the Government. I believe that he is closer to the truth than any member of this Government is. At this point of Australia's history I would say that we are one of the most hawkish nations in the western world. We are the most ridiculous. To prove my point, 70% of the American people voted against the hawks in the last presidential elections in which **Senator Goldwater** was defeated. In this election 70% of the American people voted for the doves. Yet, only 45% of the Australian people voted for the doves - the Australian Labor Party - in the last Federal election. Honourable members opposite know this is true. We are a hawkish country. The community has been misled by false propaganda put out by the LiberalCountry Party Government. - On 13th April of last year I asked the Minister for National Development **(Mr Fairbairn)** a question about uranium. On page 1214 of Hansard I am reported as saying: >My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. I ask: Did he say in answer to a question on 11th April that limitations were placed on the export of uranium because one of. the disadvantages of importing uranium was that our use of it would be restricted? Was h'e referring to the restrictions placed on the use of uranium to make atomic weapons? If not, what restrictions was he referring to which would prove an embarrassment to the Government? In reply to my question, the Minister for National Development, who is highly regarded on this side of the House as a man of truth and integrity, said: . **Mr Speaker,** the answer is yes. 1 was referring to those restrictions. So we are restricting the export of uranium for the purpose of making atomic weapons in the not too distant future. We are purchasing Fill bombers at a cost of S3 00m to the Australian taxpayer to carry these weapons. This plane is designed for such a purpose. As soon as the Australian people realise that the Australian Government on the one band is striving to become a nuclear power and is clapping its hands because of this, and on the other hand is advocating the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, the sooner the Government will be booted out for misleading the Australian people. President Johnson, when he visited Australia last year, stated that Vietnam was costing the United States of America $US4 billion a year. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell: -- The amount is $US4,000m. {: .speaker-KJO} ##### Mr JAMES: -- I am reminded by the honourable member for Melbourne **(Mr Calwell)** that the amount is $US4,00Om This is for a war of genocide and barbarism. If we eliminated the profit from the manufacture of the weapons of war we would eliminate war. The American Government set up a contracts board after the Second World War. They found the amount of excess profit made by war manufacturers amounted to millions and millions of dollars. These manufacturers had to be reimbursed by the United States Government. A similar situation arose in the Korean war. I do not know how much the Australian taxpayer has been bled by these warmongers from whom we are going to purchase the Fill aircraft. The Ferranti Company and the Hawker-Siddeley Company in Great Britain have had to pay £Stg5m to the British Government in excess profits that have been made out of the manufacture of weapons of war. I believe that if profit could be eliminated from the manufacture of weapons of war we would be well on the way to eliminating war and creating a lasting peace. Man has proved that he is able to control his own environment. He has virtually captured the cosmos. He is virtually able to end hunger, control disease, combat illiteracy and remove human misery. Man is capable of making this the best generation in his history or making it the last. **Mr St** JOHN (Warringah) [10.15]- In the short space of 20 minutes one cannot cover a great deal of ground. What I shall endeavour to do tonight is to state very concisely some of the basic principles I believe should be applied in the development of Australian defence policy, and then pass on to the Fill aircraft, both as being a matter of present and future importance and also as providing a touchstone of our defence policy and its past and present administration. I doubt whether the Australian Labor Party, for all its criticism, is ready, willing and able to provide the defence and foreign policy which this country needs. It is obvious, at any rate, that while it continues in its present state of disarray it is unlikely to be given the opportunity of doing so. In these circumstances the public looks to each one of us as parliamentarians to express our views openly and sincerely in this matter of transcendent public importance, particularly at this stage of our history when the British withdrawal and developments in Vietnam, to mention only two factors, compel us to an agonizing reappraisal of our future. First and foremostI wish to reject the heresy that anything is more important than our survival as a free nation. It is for this reason that our defence policy is and must remain a matter of first priority in our thinking and in our budgetary appropriations. What that means in concrete terms will depend on the circumstances as they exist from time to time. But until the needs of defence are met, all other matters must take second place. If we were living in a lotus land or the kind of fool's paradise painted for us in his usual style by the honourable member for Wills **(Mr Bryant)** in his speech last week, then we could afford the luxury of placing first our national development. But living as we do in a real world we must first ensure that we retain a country to be developed and remain as a nation to inhabit it. Next I say: Let us not underrate ourselves or our capacity for self-reliance in defence and foreign policy. The world has learned much from the Jews and from the State of Israel. I should like to draw on their recent experience. In about 750 B.C. the Kingdom of Israel, as it then was, was a rich and potentially powerful country. I quote: >She was obviously in danger from Assyria, but would not realise it. The wealth of her citizens bred an attitude of optimism - 'We've never had it so good'. They thought they could buy their way out of anything, that tributes and presents to foreign powers could secure their future. . . This was the State of Israel about 750 B.C. when the prophet Amos warned them. By 720 B.C. the nation which refused to listen to Amos had ceased to exist. Over two and a half thousand years later a new State of Israel arose. She found herself ringed by enemies bent on her destruction and the slaughter of her people. Early last year the threat again materialised. This time she was prepared. Her young men and women were trained for war, armed and ready to fight for their survival. In one of the most remarkable battles in history - the Six Day War - this small nation of about 21/2 million people repelled rapidly and decisively the assault of the far more numerous Arab forces which had been mobilised to destroy her. Some honourable members may have read in the Press this morning a statement by **Mr Hubert** Humphrey in which he said: >Israel is the evidence that man as a citizen - no less than man as a scientist - invents his future. From the ghastly ashes of a continent gone crazy, a new nation grew up in the Middle East that has shown mankind that a small nation can in a moment of time become a great nation, an independent nation, and a strong nation, no matter what the obstacles. This example is a cogent one. Australians do not want war, nor do they wish to contemplate abject surrender to the forces of aggression. Let us look to the example of Israel. Let us with all deliberate speed take the steps necessary to maintain our security. Not for the first time I find myself in agreement with the honourable member for La Trobe **(Mr Jess)** and with what he had to say to us in the House last week. I should like to declare myself in agreement also with what was said tonight by the honourable member for Fawkner **(Mr Howson).** The exception I make to this is on the subject of the F1ll. I will deal with this later on. I also agree with what was said by the honourable member for Macarthur **(Mr Jeff Bate)** and the honourable member for Bradfield **(Mr Turner).** This, the lucky country, will not - indeed must not - flinch from the truth, and it is our duty to proclaim it. The truth is that we are now in a position of possible danger. With a mighty continent of untold treasure as our endowment and our defence let us gird ourselves to the task - not of national development, important as that is - but of survival in an uncertain world, with all that that implies. Let us not make the mistake of retreating into isolationism. The words 'Fortress Australia' have to me a rather ominous ring, reminiscent of the Maginot Line or the last despairing days of Hitler's Germany. Let us be an outgoing, friendly people, generous with our aid, ready with our assistance, loyal to our friends and determined to preserve and further our system of defensive links and alliances with the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and, as opportunity offers, all or any of the countries of this great region which is now truly said to be the most dangerous quarter of the globe. In the days and years to come we shall need to call on all our resources - moral, intellectual, physical, economic, financial, educational and cultural - united under our best leadership. We shall need to do this if we are to survive and develop as the great prop and bastion of security in South East Asia which it lies in our power to become. Now I should like to turn to the matter of the FI 1 1. The Minister for Defence dealt at some length with this matter in his statement and the Minister for Air **(Mr Freeth)** devoted almost the whole of his speech to it. I shall not deal with the matters of cost or whether the aircraft should have been ordered as the plane of the future for Australia. These matters have been dealt with by other speakers. It may very well be that it is too late to withdraw from the contract even if we wished to do so. 1 do not say that we wish to do so or that we should do so. However, at this stage, before we have taken delivery of the aircraft, it is not too late to protect ourselves from the possibility that it may indeed be not quite what we ordered or expected. I shall deal with what I believe to be the vital questions, at this time, of delivery and acceptance. The terms of the agreement have not been made public. It is an agreement made between governments, not justiciable in the ordinary manner. Each party no doubt has an obligation to act in the spirit of the agreement, but each party is entitled to insist on what is necessary to protect its vital interests. So first, one may speculate: For what did we contract? Was it a plane which would meet certain performance tests? Was it a plane capable of filling a particular role or roles? Whatever the answer to that question may be, presumably some kind of clarification may be found in the contract. We may question whether we are to get the plane for which we contracted, either now or even if we wait for some time. The Press reports which we have all read must cause a certain amount of alarm, even dismay. The Minister for Defence has said nothing, and the Minister for Air has said little to allay that natural alarm which has been produced by the reports which have been published in recent weeks. I believe we are entitled to ask these questions: What guarantee have we that this plane is the plane for which we bargained? Is the Minister satisfied - can he be satisfied - to accept the plane at this stage in its testing and development? May it not be better not only for us but for the United States itself, which has a reputation to maintain, to delay delivery and acceptance until, as it is said, the bugs are ironed out. If we accept the aircraft before the bugs are ironed out, is it likely that the planes will be committed to combat in the near future? If not, then there is no hurry. But if they are to be committed to combat in the near future, one would like to ask: Will there be a risk of the kind of failures which have occurred in the Vietnam theatre during the last month? Who will accept responsibility for lost aircraft or the plane's possible failure to measure up to ils expected performance? The United States may fall back on the contractor but, once we have taken delivery, can we fall back on the United States? Will it accept responsibility? It is fair to ask these questions. Who is to meet the cost of the modifications necessary to ensure the safety of the aircraft which the Minister for Air told us may be affected by way of refit? These are problems which I believe have important implications for our future security, the security of our air crews and the state of our exchequer, which must bear the staggering cost of possible losses at $6m for each drop. We read in the Press that a certain Group Captain Dallywater is the Fill project chief for the Royal Australian Air Force in Washington. But surely it cannot be left to Group Captain Dallywater to decide whether or not we should accept this aircraft - of which the first deliveries are due as early as next July - in the next couple of months. Surely a team of our best brains from the Air Force should be over there as D day approaches to ensure that a correct judgment is made on the spot. And the men who make the recommendation as to whether or not we shall accept this aircraft now or later will not be representing this Government or this Liberal Part)'. They will be representing the Australian people. They will be responsible to them. They will not be there as diplomats or politicians. They will be there exercising their responsible judgment and, I trust, advising us in writing as to whether or not we are justified at this stage in accepting this aircraft. It is not merely to be compared with an ordinary commercial contract for the delivery of aircraft in which, of course, every care would be exercised as to the safety and profitability of the aircraft and to ensure that it met up with the specifications. It is something which will affect the safety of the crews, and the probability as to whether or not this plane will be of real use to us is something which will affect our national security. I have an extensive file here. I cannot refer to all of it tonight, but I point out that most of the people who seem to have declared themselves on this subject have proved themselves to be partisans either for or against the F111. That is not the spirit in which the matter should be debated. Surely it is a matter of ascertaining the facts and making a responsible judgment, free of prejudice for or against. On the one hand, for example, I have a publication free copies of which were distributed to all members tonight - at least, I received one and I presume that other members did - reprinted from a magazine known as Nation's Business' of March 1968. Whether this publication came to us by courtesy of General Dynamics or some other anonymous donor, I would not know. But it was placed on my table tonight. It is of a piece with an article written by the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal W. E. Townsend, in the 'RAAF News' of April 1968. I think it would be correct to say that these two articles are euphoric and ecstatic in their praise of the F111 . Scarcely a word of criticism emanates from either of the authors of these two articles. I hope that they are right.I would be the first to agree that this is a most remarkable aircraft, perhaps a most fantastic flying machine, as the magazine 'Nation's Business' describes it. I would be prepared to acknowledge that it is a triumph of American technology. But it is important to emphasise that these articles and the writing of them, judging by their dates and the dates of the three crashes of the F111 in the Vietnam theatre, preceded the crashes which occurred in Vietnam. Now that three out of six aircraft being combat tested in Vietnam have been lost, surely it is time to pause and to ask whether these articles could be written now with the same glow of ecstasy in which they were written only a few weeks or months ago. It was not entirely proper, perhaps, to distribute to members of this House an article written in these terms before the crashes in Vietnam which must, of course, cause a radical reassessment of the capabilities of the aircraft. Already the articles are out of date. The crashes occurred on 30th March, 3rd April and 22nd April. It is not surprising, in the circumstances, that we now begin to see, in Press reports, only in the last few weeks, an entirely different picture from that which was painted by these two articles. For example, in the Melbourne Herald' of 4th March there was a report from Peter Costigan who had just returned from the F111 project headquarters at Fort Worth, Texas. Although it was written before any of the losses occurred in Vietnam, it seems to me to be what I think the Air Force would call pretty good gen. It states: >Australia's 24 $10 million F111 fighterbombers will be delivered to the RAAF this year with two serious bugs unsolved. > >RAAF pilots will be under restrictions on every F111 flight they make until the problems are solved. The report referred to the stalling problem and the overheating problem which have since received a great deal of mention. On15th March Lieutenant Wolff of the United States Air Force told us that the main faults had been fixed, but that was before the first of the crashes. On 8th April, after two F111s had crashed, the 'Canberra Times' in a report from Australian Associated Press told us that the losses were due to still unexplained malfunctions in the complex terrain-following radar and other systems. Again, after the third crash we learned in the 'Australian' of 25th April that Australia was deeply concerned about the crash of a third F111 supersonic fighter bomber in the Vietnam war, which had caused all remaining F111s to be grounded for the second time in a month. The Federal Government, they said, might seek a safety guarantee from America as insurance against any one technical defect which possibly caused all three crashes. One wonders whether this is so. There is no trace of it in what we have been told in the ministerial statement. But it seems very probable that it is so. Indeed it would be, I dare say, crazy to go on without thinking very deeply about this purchase. But still we get no indication of it from the ministerial statement. Before the debate has concluded we should have some assurance on this matter. May I refer finally in this connection to what appeared in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' of 26th April when an anonymous Australian was quoted as having been asked whether the Royal Australian Air Force was worried about the performance record of the swing wing supersonic jet. His answer, as recorded, was in good Australian: 'My bloody oath we are'. What is the use of protesting that with this aircraft all is well in this the best of all possible worlds when this kind of statement is published in the Press and when in fact 50% of the machines in operation in Vietnam crash within 1 month? On 27th April leading articles in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' and the 'Canberra Times' expressed in very strong words the view that we should now seek a delay in the delivery of this aircraft. One must agree entirely with that view. The article in the Canberra Times' states: >If, as reported from Washington yesterday, Australia is not considering delaying acceptance . . . then it ought to be. The Cabinet would be irresponsible to accept delivery in July unless it were.' completely confident about the aircraft's capabilities and it is impossible to see how its confidence could remain unshaken after the events of the past month. They are strong words which I believe to be fully justified. Similar words appeared in the 'Sydney Morning Herald'. But still, to all outward appearances, we carry on with business as usual. I frankly do not believe that business as usual is being carried on behind the scenes. I will not and cannot believe that this matter is not causing grave concern. I think we are entitled to know a little more than we have been told during the course of this debate. On 28th April in the London 'Sunday Times' a caustic article was published with a table showing what the aircraft should have been and what in fact it is. The cost is compared; the top speed of 1,650 miles per hour is compared with the 1,200 miles per hour that is achieved; the weight of 70,000 lb is compared with the actual weight of 90,000 lb, and so on. These figures are contradicted by other statements, for example the article by Air Vice-Marshal Townsend. We should like to know where the truth lies, and if the truth is still uncertain then we should still be uncertain whether we will accept delivery in July. If I may borrow a phrase from my friend the honourable member for Moreton **(Mr Killen),** I say these things I hope without heat, but with very deep and grave concern which I feel will be shared by the Australian community. It is a justifiable concern. I do not know where the truth lies or who has the best of the arguments. I do not seek to be dogmatic, but when 50% of the aircraft are lost in Vietnam it is time for caution. 1 must say that I think that the anonymous Australian who said that we were certainly worried spoke very good sense. Of course we are worried. I believe that we are fully justified, morally, legally and as a matter of commonsense, in stalling until we know whether this aircraft meets its specifications, whether it is the kind of aircraft that we ordered, whether it is in fact capable of fulfilling the role for which t was intended. We should not buy a pig in a poke, and that is very much what it looks to be at this moment, lt is quite apparent that the plane is being combat tested in Vietnam before it has been fully tested in the United States. I respectfully express the hope that we shall receive full and complete answers to these worrying questions when the Minister concludes this debate. {: #subdebate-32-0-s7 .speaker-K0O} ##### Mr CONNOR:
Cunningham -- Let me first put the record straight. In answer to the honourable member for Warringah **(Mr St John),** who expressed some doubts as to the ability of the Australian Labor Party as a government to formulate a proper defence policy for this nation, may I say that it was a Labor Government which, in the early part of this century, was responsible for the establishment of an Australian Navy and an Australian Army. May I remind him also that in the gravest crisis that Australia has ever had to face - in World War II - it was a Labour Government to which this nation turned to guide it through the darkest days of our history. It did this most successfully and it is still capable of so doing. We have reached a watershed in our history. Today in the world - these are the stark facts of international life - there are two world powers, two super powers, which are capable of maintaining peace and order in the world. One is the United States of America and the other is the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. But the defence statement which has been inflicted on us is, to say the best, a disappointing and disturbing document. Those were the words of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr Barnard).** No government has been more humiliated, frustrated and bewildered than our present Government by the events of the last 6 or 7 months. In the words of the 'Daily Mirror', we have seen that: >The fact is that our defence and foreign policies are now in the melting pot. The old MenziesHolt formulas have been brutally devalued by events like the British withdrawal, the collapse of Indonesian confrontation and President Johnson's personal peace offensive. What do we receive from a floundering government which is bankrupt of foreign policy, whose foreign policy is in ruins, a government which is devoid of ideas and one whose leader has been subjected to the most abject humiliation by the President of the United States who chose to make his pronouncement, on his peace moves in Vietnam without ever consulting him? We receive a damming indictment of the Government's lack of competence and its indicision in a statement which is full of carefully phrased waffle. A real defence statement would obtain positive and integrated political, strategic and economic analyses. This statement has nothing of the sort. It is remarkable for what it omits. There is not the slightest reference by name to Indonesia and there is no reference whatever to Japan. May I remind honourable members that not so very long ago Indonesia, or its leader, was engaged in an exercise in confrontation as a means of distracting the attention of its people from their economic plight. May I remind the House also that in 1970 the defence treaty between Japan and the United States will expire. We have yet to see what the Japanese will do. So far they have decided that they will follow the path of peace, that they will minimise their expenditure on defence and concentrate on the development of their industry, particularly their' technology. As for what the future may hold, if they can achieve what they want by peaceful trade they v. ill do so. There is not the slightest reference in the statement made by the Minister for Defence **(Mr Fairhall)** either to the Indian Ocean or the vacuum which exists there. There is no reference to the Middle East or the fact that one of our economic lifelines, the Suez Canal, is likely to be closed indefinitely. There is no reference either to the USSR vis-a-vis mainland China. May 1 remind honourable members also that there are still quite a number of unsettled claims between those two countries. Yet this Government shuns like the plague any reference to the breach which exists between those two powers. It is not customary for the Press in this country to mention that on the frontier along the Amur River there are generally some 2 million Russian troops and that there are several unresolved demands between those two countries, in particular for the restoration of certain areas which were taken from China by the Russian Czars and which they still aspire to have returned. In the statement there is no reference whatever to the real position in South East Asia or in Asia generally where there are more people today than ever before in terms of numbers, where they have less to eat, where they are less well housed and certainly less educated than ever before. This is possibly the most inflammable material in the world's history. Vietnam, of course, which has been the political stock-in-trade of this Government, is merely one facet of the whole of the problems of South East Asia. As for the defence statement itself, it is remarkable for what it does not contain. Obviously, when we look behind the scenes and read between the lines we can understand that it is a product of Cabinet dissension. It is notorious that there are divisions, deep cleavages, within the Cabinet. It is notorious also that the Prime Minister **(Mr Gorton)** has minority support both within his Cabinet and within his Ministry. It is quite certain that there has been a major battle between the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence as to the appropriation of this country's resources for peace, for development and for defence. Naturally, in the battle which has gone on, for some weeks - and a bitter and vicious battle at that - there has been so much withdrawn from the defence statement that very little remains. The Prime Minister and the Treasury won out and for once a miniPrime Minister was able to secure his own way with his own Ministry. The statement, in its present form, is nothing more than a smother up until something better turns up. The Government, in fact, is playing for time. It is embarrassed financially. It has made vast commitments utterly unsuitable to our legitimate defence needs and now finds itself in a financial imbroglio and does not know how to get out of it. The statement is a bridging operation. The Government is awaiting, in fact, the result of the forthcoming American election. It is waiting until it can get its financial second wind and then it will proceed to see what it can do in the way of buying some more defence equipment from overseas. Until then Australia is to be in strategic and defence limbo. The speech of the Minister for Defence reeks of indecision. He referred to a rapidly changing situation and said that the colonial era had gone. Indeed, that is true enough. He conveniently used the coming five power talks as an excuse for indecision and procrastination. But he carefully covered up by saying that of course there was no certainty that final decisions would emerge from those talks. Of course they will not; other conferences will follow and talks will continue because this Government is continually embarrassed by the extent of its commitments in the purchase of defence equipment from overseas and their impact on Australian overseas reserves. The Minister laid great stress on the problems of payment. He mentioned that overseas defence expenditure this year would be some $350m; that next year it would probably be higher. He referred to the possibility of a fall in capital inflow or to a downturn in exports and then, for something to cling to, he turned to the defence credits which are available. Finally, in his confused process of rationalising, he said that sooner or later cash from earnings abroad would have to be used to meet Australia's commitments. By way of cold comfort to his own party he said that in the next financial year the commitments would be even higher. The hard truth is this: Australia's defence policy and foreign policy have been prostituted to electoral expediency and the political survival of this Government. A defence and foreign affairs crisis has been contrived before each election as a sure election winner. It was the celebrated German Clausewitz who said that war was an extension of diplomacy by other means. There is no rationale for the defence policy of this Government. Its defence and foreign policies are now in the melting pot. The Government, behind the scenes, is in a state of panic and is incapable of independent thought. A massive reconsideration is needed as to what Australia's strategic commitments are and the defence measures that need to be taken to meet them. What will emerge from the Gorton think-tank in this regard remains to be seen. It will possibly be one of the wonders of the world when it does finally emerge. Our present position, of course, is a legacy of the regime of a former Prime Minister, **Sir Robert** Menzies, who was, undoubtedly, Australia's greatest handicap to accommodation with the new world of free Asia. Under him Australia made a choice to sink or swim with the old south eastern Asia colonial powers, Britain and the United States, and no decision could have been fraught with more danger. Today, as the honourable member for Bradfield **(Mr Turner)** mentioned - and I fully agree with him - both Britain and the United States are in all probability withdrawing from mainland Asia. As for the United States, we have seen, in the last announcement of limited reinforcements to Vietnam, special emphasis being laid on the offloading of responsibilities for the future conduct of the war onto the Vietnamese people and the Vietnamese Government. Special stress was laid by the United States President on the $30 billion annual cost of the war and its impact on the economy of the United States. Today, in any defence debate, we must think in terms of limited war because with the use of atomic weapons we come to a point where the classical great power role has been made almost impossible by the relative ineffectiveness of any weapons capable of sane use in the implementation of normal national policy. It was General Macarthur who once said: 'Never fight a land war on the continent of Asia'. It was another great American, Admiral Mahan, who said, in his remarkable work, that the influence of sea power on history was decisive and literally moulded the destiny of the human race. Our future, as I see it in terms of defence, lies in a continuing presence of sea and air power off the coast of mainland Asia. Australia's real defence and foreign policies must work along those lines, and we cannot have a defence policy until we have a correct and viable foreign policy. Firstly, we must avoid entanglement on the land in South East Asia and within South East Asia I would not necessarily exclude the Malay peninsula because after all it is connected by a narrow isthmus to the rest of mainland Asia. Singapore, of course, is the cross road of the Indian and Pacific Oceans and it is in Australia's best interests that it always be held by a friendly power. We must come to accommodation with the newly emerging Asian nations and establish good relations with them. We must draw our defence line at sea. The honourable member for Hunter **(Mr James)** referred to the story of the elephant and the whale. I would advise honourable members to read a remarkable article by Walter Lippman which appeared in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' on 8th August 1964. There is no doubt that Australia can be best defended by the combined use of sea and air power. We must step up genuine civil economic assistance to the people of Asia. We must help Asians to help themselves. We must, of course, enter into regional defence cooperation with adjoining countries but in this regard it is particularly significant that the Government is most silent on the attitude of the Indonesian powers that be. They are exhibiting a marked reluctance to enter into any form of regional arrangement. The reasons for this will be made clear in the very near future. The United States alliance, which is and has been part of the Federal policy of my Party for many years, must be maintained but with Australia as an equal ally. Our defence forces must be based on Australia's technology and its productive capacity. For many years we have been obsessed by a numbers complex. Somehow the people of Australia have believed that numbers counted. They have failed to assess the impact of technology on the world of today because although technology is of decisive importance in economic penetration it is of equal importance in the field of defence. When we look at the potential of Australia - I have the honour to represent its major steel producing area - it is obvious that our strength is tremendous in relation to our population. Compared with any Asiatic country with the exception of Japan, and excluding the Soviet Union, we produce more steel; we have a bigger and better motor industry; in terms of horsepower the output of our factories is greater; we have greater natural resources; we produce more food; we have a bigger merchant marine. In so many respects we now exceed and will exceed in the foreseeable future the capacity of any other Asiatic country, with the exception of Japan. For many years the people of Australia have been seriously misled by this Government which, for its own purposes, has led us to believe that we were incapable of defending ourselves. If there is an example we should follow it is that set by Sweden. Sweden maintains a thriving defence industry, feeding one of the toughest and most efficient fighting forces in Europe. Sweden has 7.S million people; we have a population of 12 million people. Sweden's main industry, like Australia's, is the production of iron and steel- our major secondary industry. What Sweden can do, we can do. The Swedish Air Force is rated fourth in the world and it flies Swedish aircraft only. The Swedish Navy has one cruiser; we have none. Sweden has 8 destroyers; we have 5. Sweden has 24 coastal minesweepers; we have 6. Sweden has 12 fast anti-submarine frigates; we have 4. In addition we have one light aircraft carrier for anti-submarine work and another aircraft carrier for use as a troop transport. The Institute of Strategic Studies lists 21 other ships in Australia's Navy, including a couple of submarines. To match these ships, Sweden has 22 submarines, 13 heavy torpedo boats, 25 motor torpedo boats and 24 inshore minesweepers. Yet Sweden manages to finance this vastly better fighting force for $209m a year less than the Australian defence budget. The Swedish Air Force flies Swedish aircraft. The Swedish Navy sails Swedish ships. Electronics systems are supplied by Swedish companies. The aircraft flown by the Swedish Air Force are extremely interesting. The Swedish Lansen strike fighter bomber is rated alongside the United States Navy Crusader. The Swedish Draken interceptor is more than a match for the MIG21. The new Viggen, which in English means thunderbolt, will come into service in 1970. It is rated as the equal of the American Phantom. An article in the Air Force Magazine' of March 1968 reads: >In the European aviation world, Sweden's aerospace industry holds an enviable reputation for offering, at both the right price and the right time, aerial weapon systems that fill the requirements of its major customer - the Royal Swedish Air Force. > >For instance, long before the advent of the F86 Sweden's Air Force possessed a jet fighter which could out-perform the MIG IS in every respect. The article outlines the progress which Sweden has made in aircraft design. At present Sweden is offering the Draken lighter, which has a speed of mach 2. Towards the middle of the next decade the Draken and Lansen will be replaced by the Viggen. {: #subdebate-32-0-s8 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable member's time has expired. Debate (on motion by **Mr Erwin)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 1176 {:#debate-33} ### PRIVY COUNCIL (LIMITATION OF APPEALS) BILL 1968 Bill returned from the Senate without amendment. {: .page-start } page 1176 {:#debate-34} ### CUSTOMS BILL 1968 Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time. {: .page-start } page 1176 {:#debate-35} ### EXCISE BILL 1968 Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time. {: .page-start } page 1176 {:#debate-36} ### DISTILLATION BILL 1968 Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time. {: .page-start } page 1176 {:#debate-37} ### CANNED FRUIT EXCISE BILL 1968 Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time. {: .page-start } page 1176 {:#debate-38} ### COAL EXCISE BILL 1968 Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time. {: .page-start } page 1176 {:#debate-39} ### BEER EXCISE BILL 1968 Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time. House adjourned at 10.59 p.m. {: .page-start } page 1177 {:#debate-40} ### ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS UPON NOTICE The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated: {:#subdebate-40-0} #### Kangaroos (Question No. 43) {: #subdebate-40-0-s0 .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr Scholes: asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has any count of the number of kangaroos of various species been made in Commonwealth territories? 1. What is the current rate of decline in kangaroo numbers? 2. Have any species become so rare as to become in danger of extinction? 3. Does the Commonwealth assist directly or indirectly in the destruction of kangaroos? 4. Are there any limitations on the killing of these animals in Commonwealth territories? {: #subdebate-40-0-s1 .speaker-009OD} ##### Mr Nixon:
Minister for the Interior · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · CP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: 1. (a) Counts of the numbers of kangaroos and wallabiesin the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay territory have not been made. There are still substantial areas of suitable habitat for these animals. They are still plentiful and in no danger of being exterminated. {: type="a" start="b"} 0. The mamor macropod species in the Northern Territory are red kangaroo, Euro and agile wallaby. Counts of red kangaroos have been made in some areas of central Australia and studies on agile wallabies are at present taking place. 2. (a) For the Australian Capital Territory and the territory of Jervis Bay no estimate can be given for the current rate of decline of these animals but it is closely linked to land use and the clearing or modifying of scrub and forest lands. 1. In the Northern Territory spot surveys suggest that red kangaroos are probably on the increase and other species are not thought to be declining. 3. (a) All kangaroos and wallabies and in fact all native fauna except a few harmful species are absolutely protected in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Jervis Bay territory and a special permit is needed for the taking of any of these animals. Such permits are issued only for scientific purposes. The brush-tailed rock wallaby was once relatively common in eastern New South Wales. It is now absent from the Australian Capital Territory and in much of the rest of New South Wales. {: type="a" start="b"} 0. For the Northern Territory total red kangaroo numbers are low and in 1966 they were designated 'partly protected animals' under the Wildlife Ordinance. Other species are plentiful. 4. (a) No assistance whatever is given by the Commonwealth in the Australian Capital Territory and the territory of Jervis Bay. 1. In the Northern Territory the Commonwealth does not assist in the destruction of red kangaroos or Euros but agile wallabies in the area north of the15th parallel of south latitude, excluding the Arnhem Land aboriginal reserve are declared 'pests' under the Wildlife Ordinance. 5. (a) All kangaroos and wallabies are absolutely protected in the Australian Capital Territory and the territory of Jervis Bay. 2. In the Northern Territory Euros are totally protected. Red kangaroos are partly protected animals and can only be killed after a permit has been issued by the Chief Inspector of Wildlife. There are no limitations on the killing of agile wallabies in the area north of the 15th parallel of south latitude excluding the Arnhem Land aboriginal reserve. {:#subdebate-40-1} #### Health and Medical Services (Question No. 54) {: #subdebate-40-1-s0 .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr Stewart:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES asked the Minister for Health, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Will he outline in detail the procedure to be followed by a medical practitioner who is desirous of obtaining permission to prescribe an increased quantity of a particular drug for a patient considered to warrant special treatment? 1. Is this procedure considered necessary or can it be streamlined in any way? 2. How many medical practitioners in each State have applied for permission to prescribe an increased maximum quantity of a drug in the last twelve months? 3. Is this number above or below the anticipated average? {: #subdebate-40-1-s1 .speaker-KFH} ##### Dr Forbes:
LP -- The answer is as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The medical practitioner applies to the Commonwealth Department of Health in the State in which he is practising for authority to prescribe the increased quantity. A simple form of application designed to minimise the work involved is supplied by my Department for this purpose. Applications are dealt with in the Department as received and authorities to prescribe are usually forwarded to doctors by return mail. The form of authority contains a space in which the doctor may write his prescription for the patient to present to the chemist in the normal way. In urgent cases it is possible for a doctor to obtain an authority by telephone, with formal confirmation following by mail. 1. The procedure is considered necessary in view of the quantitites involved and is not unduly complex for doctors to follow. 2. While applications are filed in my Department, statistics are not extracted of the number of individual medical practitioners who have applied for authorities to prescribe increased quantities. Records are maintained of the total number of forms of authority issued for all purposes, which include increased numbers of repeats and restricted drugs as well as increased quantities. The total number of forms of authority issued in the twelve months ended 29th February 1968 was as follows: {: type="1" start="4"} 0. This number was neither above nor below expectations. It represents on the average little more man eight applications for the year from each doctor in private practice. {:#subdebate-40-2} #### Pharmaceutical Benefits (Question No. 94) {: #subdebate-40-2-s0 .speaker-KDP} ##### Dr Everingham:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND asked the Minister for Health, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is he able to say in which countries the list of pharmaceutical benefits available to most of the population at less than half retail market price corresponds more to the list of items available to (a) service pensioners than to (b) nonpensioners in Australia? 1. If so, in each of those countries, how does the annual cost of prescriptions, as a percentage of the gross national product, compare with similar costs for (a) service pensioners and (b) nonpensioners in Australia, (i) including all items prescribed and (ii) including only prescriptions for which the patient pays less than half the retail cost, or no charge? 2. What proportion of Australians are included as (a) service pensioners and (b) non-pensioners for the purposes of these questions? 3. In the case of pharmaceutical benefits prescribable as such on each occasion only on specific written departmental authority, can he say what is the Australian retail price, including recording, labelling and dispensing charges, as a percentage of (a) the retail price in the country of manufacture and (b) the manufacturer's price in the country of manufacture to the major wholesale supplier for Australia? {: #subdebate-40-2-s1 .speaker-KFH} ##### Dr Forbes:
LP -- The answers to the honourable member's questions are as follow: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 2. 3. and 4. Information which would enable me to answer the honourable member's question is not held by my Department {:#subdebate-40-3} #### National Servicemen (Question No. 160) {: #subdebate-40-3-s0 .speaker-KRK} ##### Mr McIvor:
GELLIBRAND, VICTORIA asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What is the percentage of national servicemen serving in infantry battalions in Vietnam? 1. Are national servicemen serving in any other arms of our defence forces in Vietnam, such as the Navy or the Air Force? 2. If so, what is the percentage of national servicemen serving in each of these servces in that country? {: #subdebate-40-3-s1 .speaker-KEN} ##### Mr Fairhall:
Minister for Defence · PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP -- The answers to the honourable member's questions are as follow: >As at 26th March 1968: > >National servicemen comprised 44% of the strength of infantry battalions in Vietnam. > >and 3. National servicemen are not serving with the Royal Australian Navy or the Royal Australian Air Force. {:#subdebate-40-4} #### National Service Training (Question No. 105) {: #subdebate-40-4-s0 .speaker-YF4} ##### Mr Cross: asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What numbers of young men have enrolled for each registration period since national service was reintroduced? 1. What numbers from each registration (a) actually commenced national service training, (b) were deferred as conscientious objectors, (c) were deferred on account of studies and (d) were discharged because of inability to adjust to service life? 2. Of Australian casualties in Vietnam who were (a) killed and (b) wounded, what proportion were national servicemen? 3. What number of national servicemen from each intake enlisted for a term in the permanent forces? {: #subdebate-40-4-s1 .speaker-JTP} ##### Mr Bury:
LP -- The answers to the honourable member's questions are as follows: >Comparable information relating to national service registrants is available only at the 30th June each year in respect of the total numbers at that date. The information below is, therefore, based on the position at the 30th June 1967. My colleague the Minister for the Army has provided the information in relation to questions 2 (d), 3 and 4. > >Total number registered, 229,207. 2(a), 2(d) and 4. 17,364 men had been called up and enlisted in the Regular Army Supplement Of these men, to date 281 have been discharged on the ground that they are unsuitable for further service, whether for disciplinary or nondisciplinary reasons; 315 have enlisted in the Australian Regular Army; and 11 men have been discharged from the Army to enlist in the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force. > >The majority of the national servicemen are, of course, still undergoing national service, including 282 who have voluntarily extended their period of service. 2. (b) 226 men have been exempted from liability to render service or their eligibility for exemption was under consideration on the ground of conscientious beliefs, (c) 13,978 men were under deferment or were being considered for deferment as students or apprentices. > >Of the total Army casualties in Vietnam as at the 29th March 1968, national servicemen comprised: (a) 33.6% of fatal casualties; and (b) 31.8% of non-fatal casualties. {:#subdebate-40-5} #### National Service Training (Question No. 118) {: #subdebate-40-5-s0 .speaker-1V4} ##### Dr J F Cairns:
YARRA, VICTORIA · ALP ns asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. How many intakes for national service have been made since the present scheme began? 1. How many marbles have been drawn at each selection? 2. How many deferments at each drawing have been granted? 3. How many marbles were drawn at the latest drawing on 15th March? 4. How many deferments are likely to be granted for the latest drawing? 5. Is it a fact that the number of marbles drawn this time will result in the numbers eligible exceeding the numbers required in view of the fact that past deferments have over the last year become eligible for the call-up? 6. Are persons who were previously granted deferments being called up as their deferments expire or are only some occupational groups, for example, doctors, being called up? 7. If all those granted deferments are being called up, does una mean an increase in the number of conscripts or does it mean a decrease In the number of new 20-year old recruits at each intake? 8. Are South Australian national servicemen being trained in Victoria for South Australian requirements? 9. Is it a fact that the 9th Battalion is being raised in South Australia to go to Vietnam? 10. How much corp training and jungle training will the South Australians undergoing basic training at Puckapunyal receive before being posted to the 9th Battalion? 11. Will this corp training and jungle training be less than normal? {: #subdebate-40-5-s1 .speaker-JTP} ##### Mr Bury:
LP -- The answers to the honourable member's questions are as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. There have been 7 registrations for national service, one each half year since January 1965. 2, 4, 6 and 8. The numbers of marbles drawn have been (in order) 96, 67, 48, 38, 45, 39, 46. In determining the numbers of marbles to be drawn in a particular ballot allowance is made for the number of registrants from previous ballots likely to be available for the Army intakes to be filled from the ballot. Variations in the number of marbles drawn are due primarily to the varying numbers in the age group liable to register, the proportions of students and other registrants eligible for deferment and the durations of their deferment in different registrations. 1. Separate figures for each registration are not available but at 30th June 1967 a total of 15,085 were currently deferred or under consideration for deferment as students or apprentices, deferment on the ground of exceptional hardship, and as migrants deferred in accordance with the Government's policy that migrants should not be called up until after completing two years of residence in Australia and, in the case of nonBritish subjects, attaining the age of 21 years. 2. Approximately 4,500 registrants are eligible for deferment for the reasons given in 3. 3. All registrants granted tempory deferment are processed for call-up when their deferments expire as they remain liable for service irrespective of profession or occupation. My colleague the Minister for the Army has provided me with the following information in relation to questions 9-12: {: type="1" start="9"} 0. There are three basic training centres - Puckapunyal in Victoria and Kapooka and Singleton in New South Wales. The majority of South Australian national servicemen undergo their recruit training at Puckapunyal, although in certain circumstances some may be trained at Kapooka. Any selected for officer training are transferred to Scheyville, New South Wales. 1. The 9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, was raised at Woodside, South Australia. It may be anticipated that in due course the battalion will take its turn for service in Veitnam. An announcement on the future activities of the battalion will be made at the appropriate time. 2. After completion of the 10 weeks basic training, national servicemen destined for 9th Battalion will either undertake corps training with 3rd Training Battalion at Singleton comprising 357 periods or with 9th Battalion for 516 periods. The difference between the courses is made up of administrative periods, ceremonial training and duties required in a training battalion but not required in a battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment. Jungle training (Battle Efficiency training) is carried out at Canungra subsequent to corps training and after posting to units. The training is done in company groups each of which from 9th Battalion will spend 3 weeks at the Jungle Training Centre. {: type="1" start="12"} 0. The periods of training vary slightly from unit to unit. For example companies of 4 RAR had 3 weeks Battle Efficiency training as is intended to 9 RAR, whilst companies of other battalions have had 31/2 or 4 weeks. These variations can arise through a number of factors, including the manner in which the earlier training of the battalion has been arranged. The aim of all training prior to movement overseas is to ensure attainment of a proper standard. For this reason the nature and duration of Corps and Jungle training is under constant review as a result of past experience and variations are made as appropriate. {:#subdebate-40-6} #### National Service Training (Qestion No. 139) {: #subdebate-40-6-s0 .speaker-KXV} ##### Dr Patterson:
DAWSON, QUEENSLAND asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice: >How many national servicemen in each Federal electoral division have been granted deferment in excess of one year on the grounds of exceptional hardship? {: #subdebate-40-6-s1 .speaker-JTP} ##### Mr Bury:
LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: >Statistics in relation to Federal electoral divisions are not available. However, the following table shows, by States, the number of national service registrants granted deferment for periods in excess of one year on the grounds of exceptional hardship up to 30th April 1968: {:#subdebate-40-7} #### HMAS 'Voyager' (Question No. 192) {: #subdebate-40-7-s0 .speaker-KXV} ##### Dr Patterson: asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. How many official files or official reports in connection with the 'Voyager' case have been lost or have disappeared? 1. What was their security classification? 2. What are the names of the persons to whom these files or reports were last officially marked? 3. What action has been taken to recover these files? {: #subdebate-40-7-s1 .speaker-009MM} ##### Mr Kelly:
LP -- The answers to the honourable member's questions are as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. One- the Report of Proceedings for HMAS Voyager' of March 1963. 1. Not known, but probably Restricted, since the March Report of Proceedings of HMAS Vampire', the ship - accompanying 'Voyager' at the time, was Restricted. 3 and 4. These matters 'were fully investigated by the royal commission; see for example -the transcript of proceedings, pages 1633 to 1636 and 4322 to 4328. {:#subdebate-40-8} #### Civil Aviation (Question No. 125) {: #subdebate-40-8-s0 .speaker-JOO} ##### Mr Beaton:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What was the total cost of (a) maintenance and (b) capital improvements at all aerodromes under the control of the Department during the year 1966-67? 1. What contributions to aerodrome (a) maintenance and (b) improvements were made during that year by the operators of air services? 2. What was the cost of (a) maintenance and (b) improvements at each capital city aerodrome during that year? 3. What contributions were made to aerodrome (a) maintenance and (b) improvements by Local Government Authorities in capital cities during that year? 4. What was the cost of (a) aerodrome maintenance (b) aerodrome improvements and (c) newly constructed aerodromes in country centres during the last three financial years? 5. What contributions to these costs were made by Local Government Authorities in those centres? {: #subdebate-40-8-s1 .speaker-KVR} ##### Mr Swartz:
LP -- The answers to the honourable member's questions are as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The total cost of maintenance of all aerodromes under control of DCA during 1966-67 was $6.266m. The total cost of capital improvements of all aerodromes under control of DCA during 1966-67 was $23.281m. 1. No direct contributions are made by operators of air services to airport maintenance and development as specific items. The operators pay Air Navigation Charges towards the total cost of operation of ground facilities and services which includes airports, as well as such other facilities and services as navigational aids and air traffic control. In 1966-67 aircraft operators paid air navigation charges totalling $8. 14m to the Commonwealth. 3. {: type="1" start="4"} 0. Maintenance and capital improvements of capital city aerodromes were carried out as a Commonwealth responsibility, with no contributions from Local Authorities.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 May 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.