26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 3.5 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr BEATON presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Government implement Article 25 of the Universal. Declaration of Human Rights by providing increased social service and housing benefits for the aged, the invalid, the widowed and their dependants.
Petition received and read.
Similar petitions were presented by Mr Wentworth and Mr Wilson.
Petitions severally received.
Sir WILFRID KENT HUGHES presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the wellbeing of the aged, the infirm, the widowed, the deserted wives and dependent children, and the service pensioner be improved to parity with the national general living standard of the Australian people.
Dr J. F. CAIRNS presented a petition from certain Australian students praying that this House will take appropriate action to assist in stopping the war in Vietnam.
Petition received and read.
Similar petitions were presented by Mr Crean, Mr Scholes, Mr James, Mr Uren, Mr Hayden and Mr Bryant.
Petitions severally received.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister and refer to the problems which have arisen, and which continue to arise, in certain areas of this country as a result of technological developments in industry resulting in labour layoffs. This is especially applicable to coal mining areas and large railway centres, but not exclusively so. Will the Prime Minister arrange an urgent meeting between representatives of the States and the Commonwealth to establish which areas are already affected, are being affected or are likely to be affected by this trend, and the form of policy which should be developed to offset the social and economic loss to people and community centres because of this trend? Will the right honourable gentleman take early action to implement this policy? Finally, will he, in doing this, ensure that retraining programmes for workers, the development of alternative industries and so on will be adequately and quickly funded by Commonwealth financial grants to the States?
– I will bring the question to the notice of the Minister for Labour and National Service, in whose purview I think it lies more than in any other, and will discuss with hint the matters raised.
– Has the Minister for Social Services seen Press reports that he was unwilling to receive a deputation from the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation? Does he agree that this attitude is not in keeping with his earlier Press statements about helping the age pensioner?
– I have indeed seen such Press reports which are, I understand, based on some misconception of the events. Unfortunately, the deputation coincided with a students’ demonstration and a deputation from the Aboriginals which was in my office at the time. The members of the pensioners’ deputation saw me briefly; they had to leave to meet the Minister for Health. I understood they would be coming back later that night. I set aside time for them, but by some misunderstanding, for which either I am, or they are. responsible, they did not turn up. In the morning, when they did come, I did see them, but unhappily I had to leave to attend question time in this House. The matters raised were taken down by my secretary. A full note was taken of what they had in mind, and already departmental action is in train to examine the points which they raised, some of which were relevant points. 1 think the House knows that I would not willingly slight any pensioner organisation, or indeed any pensioner, because I am endeavouring to do my best for them, but unhappily I find that there are only 24 hours in the day, and I cannot get more time out of a day than that.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education and Science. Is it a fact that only one-half as many girls as boys persist at school to the highest grade, and that only one-half as many enrol at universities and other institutions of higher education? Do comparable American figures reveal a much greater retention rate for girls? Does the discrepancy represent a serious and avoidable drain on Australia’s human resources? What plans has the Minister for encouraging Australian girls to persist with their education?
– 1 cannot be precise, in answering the honourable member, as to the actual proportion of the difference between the numbers of boys and girls remaining at school to the highest levels of secondary school or going from secondary schools to universities or colleges of advanced education, but the honourable member is right when he suggests that the proportion of boys who go from school to university is higher than it is for girls. I would have to find out what the proportions are in the United States of America in order to see what the difference may be. 1 will obtain this information and let the honourable member know.
I think there would be a number of reasons why the proportion of boys seeking to continue their education is greater than that of girls. Many families regard it as much more important to get higher education for their sons than for their daughters. I am not saying that this is the correct attitude, but I believe that many parents have this attitude. Also, there are other reasons why girls sometimes can drop out along the wayside and not pursue their education as long as people might want. I will see what precise information I can get in comparison with what happens in the United States of America.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether he is aware that no provision has been made for the erection of a chapel at the Lavarack Army base in Townsville. Is he also aware that this is causing some concern among various religious organisations in the Townsville area? Finally, will the Minister take the necessary action to ensure that the religious requirements of serving personnel are adequately catered for?
– The policy of Commonwealth assistance in the erection of chapels in particular locations has been in operation for some lime but Townsville was not included in the list of places where chapels were to be erected under that policy. However, I can tell the honourable member for Herbert that a wider policy is now under consideration. If and when there are any changes in this policy, then certainly he will be informed.
I must say that the Army is most conscious of the obligation it has for the moral welfare of its troops. It is because of this fact that over the years the chaplaincy service has developed as an integral and very vital part of the modern Australian Army. At present there are some fourteen chapels located in major Army establishments throughout Australia and a further three are in the course of completion.
At Lavarack barracks although there is no specific chapel, there certainly are facilities available in the form of training rooms which are being used for religious services. There is one full time chaplain at Lavarack base and the base is also serviced by two part time Citizen Military Forces officers. In addition, church services are available for those of the major religious persuasions as close as 4 miles from the camp. As soon as there is any change of policy, if in fact this happens - and it is under consideration - I will so inform the honourable member.
– 1 direct my question to the Minister for the Interior. He has announced that due to the ill health of the Director of Social Services in Victoria that gentleman would be replaced as a distribution commissioner for the State by his Senior Assistant Director. I ask the Minister why did he not take the opportunity to appoint the Chief Electoral Officer for the
State of Victoria to serve with the continuing commissioners, namely the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State and the Surveyor-General for the State, since in the 19SS distribution and in the abortive 1962 distribution the three commissioners for Victoria were the Commonwealth Electoral Officer, the SurveyorGeneral and the Chief Electoral Officer for the State. I also ask whether the substitute commissioner’s name was on the list which the Chief Electoral Officer originally submitted or on the supplementary list which he subsequently submitted. If it was on the supplementary list, how many other names were also on that list?
– The Leader of the Opposition would know that it is not the usual practice to make public the names that are included in Cabinet submissions. In respect of this particular replacement, the simple fact is that a list of names was given to me by the Chief Electoral Officer, as has always been the practice in the past, and this was submitted to Cabinet for consideration and a decision taken.
– I wish to preface my question, which is addressed to the Prime Minister, by reminding him of a statement last week, attributed to the Premier of Victoria, criticising the Commonwealth over its drought relief policy in not assisting those slaughtermen displaced because of a lack of stock available following the very good opening rains. The Prime Minister no doubt fully appreciates the fact that confidence has been restored because of these rains but that there are still many people unable to secure employment in their normal occupations. I ask: Can the Prime Minister give me an assurance that all projects to which money has been allotted will continue as planned and that if unemployment in the recognised drought areas continues the Commonwealth will still make finance available on the same terms until business returns to normal?
– The arrangement made with Victoria - indeed, with the States generally - regarding the provision of Commonwealth finance for drought assistance was that it should be provided in order to give employment in drought affected areas to those who had lost their employment because of the drought. The arrangements made with Victoria and other States were that the sums allocated for this purpose would continue until the end of this financial year. Consequently, unless it subsequently appears that there is no need for this assistance to continue for the rest of this financial year, the situation referred to by the honourable member is covered. As to what might happen in the next financial year, that is a matter of policy upon which I would not now wish to comment.
– I ask the Minister for Education and Science a question. Did Professor Burton, Secretary of the Social Science Research Council of Australia, say yesterday, in regard to Commonwealth scholarships: The opportunity for students to do tertiary education through the scholarships has steadily dwindled’? Was the Minister’s predecessor advised by the Martin Committee in 1964 that the Australian Council for Educational Research had studied the representation in tertiary education of Australian families with different parental and occupational backgrounds? Was the honourable gentleman advised that whereas 35.9% of the sons of professional families entered university, only 1.5% of the sons of unskilled or semi-skilled workers did so? Does the Minister regard the situation revealed by those figures as being satisfactory? Does he believe that in allowing scholarship opportunities to dwindle he enhances the prospects of improvement taking place?
– I think it is generally accepted that the Government supports the principle that everybody who goes through the school system should have an equal opportunity to continue his or her education at an institution of higher learning. Equality of opportunity does not mean that any person should be able to go to a university or to a college of advanced education without proper and adequate qualifications. This is another subject not directly related to the honourable member’s question. I did see in this morning’s Press the statement to which the honourable member has drawn attention. It compared the position that existed in 1950 and 1951 with the position that exists today. When examining Commonwealth assistance for students it is important to look at the whole field of scholarships and not just at one facet. In 1950 and 1951 the Commonwealth spent about $1.5m a year - perhaps a little less - in providing assistance to students; this year it will spend almost $29m in assistance to students. Today the Commonwealth makes available additional scholarships for advanced education, none of which existed in 1950 and 1951. I refer to such scholarships as later year awards and secondary and technical scholarships. The newspaper article referred also to living allowances. Since 1950 and 1951 the maximum living allowance has been increased from $390 to more than $900.
The Martin Committee suggested that 60% of university students should be able to get through universities in the minimum time. The honourable member will appreciate how great savings would be in many directions if a high proportion of students got through universities in the minimum time. Only 55% of scholars studying under Commonwealth scholarships - by and large these are, or should be, in the upper strata of university students - get through their studies in the minimum time. This indicates that Commonwealth scholars do not reach the standard which the Martin Committee recommended should be reached by university students as a whole. I say this only to indicate that I do not believe the standards set for the award of a Commonwealth scholarship can be all that high.
– I direct my question to the Treasurer, ls he in a position to advise how many Australians are now employed by the Asian Development Bank and under what general terms and conditions they are employed?
– Apart from the Executive Director and his alternate, four Australians are in senior positions with the Asian Development Bank. The most important Australian employed by the Bank is Mr Farrelly, who is the Chief Projects Officer. Under Mr Watanabe, who is the President of the Bank, Mr Farrelly has the executive responsibility for vetting loans and for ensuring that they are properly allocated once feasibility surveys have been carried out. He is also responsible, under the President of the Bank, for liaison between the various countries which participate in the operations of the Bank. I will not mention the other three Australians in detail except to say that they also are senior officers in the organisation. In regard to the second part of the honourable member’s question, the desire of the Asian Development Bank is to recruit staff on the basis of efficiency and talent. But subject to this, there is a desire to spread the postings as widely as possible. As one who was at the last meeting of the governors of the Bank, I realise how important this policy is, because the Bank is a true international agency. The Bank has a marked disposition to favour the employment of Asians. Wages are fixed in relation to the going rates in the market, and particularly in the light of rates paid by the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Similar considerations apply to terms and conditions of employment.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether the Australian representative at the Third Committee of the United Nations on 16th October last said:
Did the Minister subsequently initiate an appeal to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission against Commissioner Clarkson’s equal pay award of 18th January? Does the Minister find this action compatible with the undertaking given by our delegate to the Third Committee?
– Yes, 1 find it perfectly compatible. Of course, the case mentioned has features of its own. It was brought by Commonwealth Hostels Ltd against a particular award. There are certain features of this case which do not lend themselves easily to a general situation. In any case, an issue so far reaching as is the general level of payment as between men and women would in the normal course be decided by the presidential members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. They will hear the case later in the year and will then pronounce their verdict. But the statement that was allegedly made - I have not seen the actual statement - would be in line with our policy and compatible with our obligations.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. 1 do so particularly on behalf of the parents of teenage young people. Is the Minister aware of the alarming number of rape and carnal knowledge oases being dealt with in the courts which have occurred in outer suburban areas of the larger cities and which are causing serious concern to many families? ls he aware that many cases do not reach the courts? Does he feel that there is a link between this situation and the relaxation of controls over magazines and films? Finally, is the reported decision to allow uncut films to be shown at the Australian Film Festival likely to lead to pressure by minority groups for suggestive and pornographic films to be shown commercially in Australia?
– From reading Press reports 1 have become conscious of the social problem referred to by the honourable member, and I share, as he does, the concern felt by parents. A recent Press report in the ‘Canberra Times’ apprised me of the fact that a rape had occurred in a park in Canberra. After that attack some further information was gathered which showed that there have been other attacks upon girls which have not been reported to officials. This is a matter of some concern to the authorities not only in the ACT but also, I should imagine, in all the States. There is little evidence available, however, on which the Department of Customs and Excise can conclude that these cases of rape and carnal knowledge result in any way from the release of the films to which the honourable member has referred. The Department decided to permit the limited showing of these films at film festivals. For the information of the honourable member who has just interjected to ask why. I can say that it is because academics throughout the nation have been requesting the degree of freedom that their counterparts in other countries enjoy. This relaxation has been decided on for a trial period only, lt has also been decided that these films will in no circumstances be released on a commercial basis. The Department has also decided that if films are brought into the country in the name of art and they are found to be loaded with pornography and not suitable for cutting, requests for registration of such films will be rejected.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. 1 refer to the recent sacking of a number of pilots by MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. Can the Minister say whether a further reduction in both aircrew and ground staff is expected to be made by this company in ‘he near future? Can the Minister give an assurance that air services to the north and other parts of Western Australia will not suffer, or be reduced, as a result of the recent dismissals or any future ones? Finally, is it correct that before sacking the pilots MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd received an assurance from the Minister that any attempt by Trans-Australia Airlines Ltd to operate in the area would be resisted? If not, can we now expect that an application to operate by Trans Australia Airlines would receive favourable consideration? If it would not be favourably considered, can the Minister say why?
– The answer to the latter part of the honourable member’s question is no. No assurance has been given by me, and certainly no approach has been made to me regarding such an assurance. As the honourable member is, I think, fully aware, there is in existence an agreement under which MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd conducts the intrastate services in Western Australia and also certain services to and from the Northern Territory. That agreement still has a couple of years to run. When it is being reviewed any application made by Trans-Australia Airlines Ltd will receive consideration. As to any reduction in the number of pilots employed, this matter has been brought to my notice only by newspaper reports. 1 am not aware of any large scale reduction. This is a matter which is purely within the commercial competence of the airline concerned and does not come directly within my jurisdiction.
My understanding is that certain problems involving numbers of pilots arise from time to time because new types of aircraft with greater capacity come into operation and the airlines find they can provide satisfactory services with fewer aircraft. I understand that such a situation has arisen in the west. But there is a very substantial development in Western Australia in general aviation involving the use of light aircraft, particularly in the charter field. These activities have increased at a far greater rate in Western Australia than in any other State. There is no doubt that the demand for general aviation pilots will be greater in Western Australia than in any other State for some time to come, so I would not be greatly concerned regarding the availability of positions for pilots in Western Australia. However, I will make some inquiry regarding the matter to see what the future policy in relation to this subject is and whether any other consideration is being given to changes as far as pilots are concerned in the future.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. Last Thursday, 1 asked the Acting Attorney-General, the Minister for Immigration, a question concerning demonstrations which bad been arranged to take place in Canberra this week. The honourable gentleman gave some information to the House and indicated that he would discuss this matter with the Attorney-General when the AttorneyGeneral returned from overseas and that the Attorney-General might be prepared to make a statement to the House. Has this discussion taken place? Will the AttorneyGeneral make a statement on the manipulation of children by Communist elements?
– Since my return, the Minister for Immigration has discussed this matter with me. I hope to be able to make a statement on the subject during the course of today’s sitting, perhaps at 8 o’clock tonight, provided of course I am successful to obtaining leave from the House to do so.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question supplementary u> that asked of him by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie. The Minister referred to an agreement between his Department and MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd which precludes for another 2 years any other airline operating interstate from Western Australia to Darwin. I ask the honourable gentleman whether this agreement has been published and, if so, where. If not, will he make it available?
– I referred to the agreement which covers principally the intrastate operations. It covers also what we could classify as interstate operations between Western Australia and the Northern Territory. In other words, I think the Leader of the Opposition is referring to the route between Perth and Darwin which has been the subject of an application by TransAustralia Airlines and which is the one that has caused some concern from time to time. This application’ has been renewed over recent months. But the agreement to which I refer has been in operation for some years now. If the Leader of the Opposition wishes to see the agreement, I certainly will make it available to him or, for that matter, if the House wishes to view the agreement, a copy could be tabled. But the agreement has been within the knowledge of the House for some years. I certainly will make it available to the Leader of the Opposition for perusal.
– In view of the reported damage to telephone installations throughout Australia by vandals, has the Postmaster-General given consideration to offering a reward to people who may be able to provide information leading to the conviction of vandals who damage telephone installations? I ask this question particularly because of a news report which stated that New South Wales offers a very small reward - an inadequate reward - for people providing this information.
– I did indicate to the House last week that vandalism has spread over a very substantial area of Post Office activity. I have very grave doubt whether a small reward would in fact be attractive to people to give Information either to the police or to the Post Office. I myself would believe that people have sufficient civic pride and appreciation of why a public telephone is installed in a public street and is available 24 hours a day to the public that they regard themselves as custodians of public property and out of a sense of duty would report incidents if in fact they are aware of them.
– I refer the Minister for Education and Science to the crisis which has arisen in Queensland as a result of the attempt by the State Government there to devalue professional standards among teachers. I refer the Minister also to a statement made yesterday by the principal of the Melbourne Secondary Teachers’ College that:
The present system for the training of secondary teachers is not meeting the needs of the schools.
Were not these difficulties foreseen by the Martin Committee in its report to the Minister’s predecessor 4 years ago? Would they not have been averted if the Government had acted to implement the Committee’s recommendations at that time?
-The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is reviving some of the points he made in a debate last week. At that time, when replying to him, I said that a number of the recommendations of the Martin Committee related quite specifically to matters for which the States were responsible in the training of their own teachers and that a majority of the States would not appreciate the Commonwealth’s telling them what to do or suggesting what they should do in matters that are their own special concern. I also pointed out that if the initial recommendations of the Martin Committee had been accepted they would have required a capital expenditure by the Commonwealth of $2.5m which would be matched by $2.5m from the States as an initial grant for the building of additional teacher training facilities. I find it difficult to understand why the honourable member continues to criticise the Commonwealth for having done so very much more than that in making available $24m in unmatched grants for teacher training. Some of the other aspects of the honourable member’s question are matters that the State Minister for Education would be able to answer adequately.
– My question is also addressed to the Minister for Education and Science. Did he see a report this morning that he had issued an instruction to the Australian Research Grants Committee to take account of national interest when it makes future grants for research in universities? Is this report correct? If it is, will the Minister outline to the House the reasons behind the instructions?
-The report is not quite correct. No direction or instruction has been given to the Australian Research Grants Committee. Perhaps I should explain that the Committee in deciding which applicants will receive support for research within the universities bases its judgment on the excellence of the project and the capacity of the research workers. However, I have been holding discussions with Professor Robertson to see whether it would be possible not only to base the judgment on the excellence of the project but also on some element of national interest. Within the brevity of question time I would like to define such a project as one that would not only result in the advance of pure science but also result in some material advantage for Australia within a foreseeable period. Of course, many projects are already within this category. Difficulties of definition and of selection are involved in this. Meanwhile, Professor Robertson has undertaken to indicate any areas in which he thinks there are gaps in research in the universities. These are areas in which Professor Robertson has special and intimate knowledge. It may well be that these gaps are being covered by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or some other institution, but that would be a matter for investigation. If the Professor reported gaps to me I would investigate the matter further to ascertain whether some additional effort were needed in one direction or another.
– My question to the Minister for Social Services refers to a statement he made in an answer to a question on Thursday in which he intimated that the remission of rates or other charges by local governing bodies was a responsibility of State governments and of the local governing bodies themselves. I ask the Minister: Does he know that in the Australian Capital Territory, where the Commonwealth has complete and unfettered power, this Government makes no concession at all to pensioner home owners, who are required to pay rates and water charges to the Government? Does he know also that pensioners here are required to pay land rent to this Government and that this has recently increased by amounts up to 700%? Will the Minister use his good offices to ensure that pensioners in the Australian Capital Territory are given at least the concessions and remissions that are available to pensioners in the States and in local governing areas?
– I am sorry; I did not hear the question. Will the honourable member repeat it?
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member should put the question on the notice paper.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question following upon those asked by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie and the Leader of the Opposition in respect of an application by TransAustralia Airlines to operate in Western Australia. Is it not a fact that MacRobertson Miller Airways Ltd, which is subsidised by the Commonwealth Government, is able to maintain profitable operations within the State and to offer services to people who are isolated by distance and lack of other transport facilities? Is it not a fact that TAA has made no request except to operate on the main trunk route, which could endanger the operations of MacRobertson Miller Airways Ltd? Would not the State Government have to be consulted in regard to the application by TAA, as it has the right to grant licences for airline operations within Western Australia?
– The honourable member has raised some important points. I shall deal with the last one first. All States have a constitutional right to grant licences. Some States exercise that right in conjunction with the Commonwealth; others leave it entirely to the Commonwealth. Western Australia exercise*! its responsibility. As indicated by the honourable member MacRobertson Miller Airways services are substantially subsidised by the Commonwealth. Indeed, we pay a very big amount to the airline each year to maintain essential developmental and rural services in Western Australia. The route which does retain some form of profit is the one between Perth and Darwin. If we handed to TransAustralia Airlines, in addition to MMA, a licence to operate between Perth and Darwin, it would become fairly obvious that the Commonwealth, under the agreement with MMA, would have to pay some additional subsidy to meet the additional deficit. This is a matter that has to be taken into consideration. Despite all that, when the agreement with MMA comes up for review we shall consider very carefully, with a consciousness of all the problems involved, the application submitted by TAA.
– Is the Prime Minister, aware of the sudden and critical deteriora-tion of apple exports from Australia, especially from Tasmania, as a result of the massive cancellation of the shipment of more than 1 million cases, including 850,000 cases from Tasmania, involving five fruit ships? Is not this withholding of fruit by the grower due to his fear about the depressed market in England and Europe and the effects of devaluation in England? Will the Government again review the application of the Tasmanian Government for Federal guarantees and try to speed up payments promised to cover losses from devaluation?
– I ask the Acting Minister for Primary Industry to answer the question.
– From the information that 1 have it appears that within the past few weeks fruit exporters have cancelled shipments of more than 1 million bushels of apples and pears. The industry claims that this is because of the general lack of confidence, at the grower level, in getting a satisfactory return from the United Kingdom market. A very sharp slump in United Kingdom prices last week contributed to the lack of confidence. The latest forecast for the export of apples is that there will be 7i million bushels, or about 1 million bushels less than the December forecast. As to whether the Government will examine the situation, I will treat that part of the question as being on notice and will give the honourable member a considered reply.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Immigration, relates to the recent policy statement which indicated that the Government will provide a second assisted passage for persons who have left Australia because of family illness or other circumstances requiring their departure from Australia, and who apply to return here. Will the date of commencement of the scheme coincide with the date of the announcement of this new policy?
– The answer to the honourable gentleman’s question is yes, but I should not like him to assume therefrom that a number of people will be coming to Australia in the immediate future. As the honourable gentleman will remember, conditions are attached to eligibility and it will take some time for applications to be made and processed. I am bound to say that over the last month or two I have asked the Department to put aside letters received by me from people in England so that the writers could be informed of the possibility of the scheme and would be able to make applications which will be processed under this scheme.
– The AttorneyGeneral has already told the House that he intends to make a statement about the visit to Canberra of a number of students. 1 ask him whether it is a fact that both he and the Minister for Immigration declined to see these students. If this is so, was the object to avoid any possibility of the students at first hand contradicting any of the rumours or speculations upon which the Attorney-General’s statement might be based? Will he or the Minister for Immigration now undertake to see these students to give them an adequate opportunity of explaining how and why their very praiseworthy visit to Canberra has taken place?
– A telegram was sent to the Minister for Immigration asking whether he would see a representative of these students. He passed the request to me, but I had no time available today to see them.
– You are to make a statement though.
-I will be making a statement, I expect at 8 o’clock tonight, with the leave of the House.
– Is it not relevant to talk to them?
-Order! The honourable member will cease interjecting. He has asked his question.
– If they like to approach me and request that I see a representative tomorrow, I will consider whether time will be available then.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs not agree that the political situation in Czechoslovakia is a classic example of the many fallacies of the Communist state? Does he intend to give the House an opportunity to debate this subject in order that the Australian people may be more fully informed of the disastrous implications of 20 years, or even 2 years, of Communist rule, and also the possible consequences of Communist united front efforts in Czechoslovakia, Australia or any other country?
– The Government has, of course, been following very closely the recent events in Czechoslovakia, as, indeed, it follows closely and tries to understand events and changes that take place in many countries. I do not propose to make a statement to the House solely on the question of Czechoslovakia, but there would be other opportunities, under the forms of the House, for any honourable member to express an opinion on this matter. I assume that, subject to what the Leader of the House says, the earliest such opportunity will occur tonight on the motion to adjourn the House.
– by leave - I wish to announce the appointment of Mr Richard Hugh Caiger Watson as a commissioner of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, and of Mr Edward George Deverall as a conciliator.
The appointment of Mr Watson will fill one of the two offices of commissioner left vacant with the retirement of Commissioner Donovan and the death of Commissioner Findlay. The appointment of Mr Deverall will increase the number of conciliators to four, as recommended in the annual report of the President of the Commission, Sir Richard Kirby.
– I move:
The customs tariff proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments of the Customs Tariff 1966-1967. The amendments, which will operate . from tomorrow morning, incorporate changes consequent on the adoption by the Government of four reports by the Tariff Board on glucose and glucose syrup; sheepskin and hogskin leathers; tinsmiths’ snips and shears; and gas-fired water heaters.
I shall deal firstly with the Tariff Board report on glucose and glucose syrup. The Board considers that the production in Australia of glucose and dextrose, which is only a particular kind of glucose, is a worthwhile use of resources. The industry is based upon locally produced wheaten flour and production is undertaken in association with gluten which has substantial export and domestic markets and with starches which also have a large domestic market. In recent years the industry has reduced its costs as a result of the rising demand and now only needs a moderate level of assistance against imported goods. The Board recommends rates of lie per ib (General) and lc per lb (Preferential) on dextrose, glucose and glucose syrup. Expressed in ad valorem terms this represents duty rates of 35% (General) and 10% (Preferential) on glucose and 25% (General) and 8% (Preferential) on dextrose. These rates maintain the existing tariff level for dextrose and reduce the existing level on other forms of glucose. The duty proposed on glucose and glucose syrup contains an element of protection against reductions in the landed costs of British exports that may result from devaluation.
The second report included in the proposals concerns sheepskin and hogskin leathers. It deals with the effect of imports of hogskin leather on Australian production of sheepskin leather. These two products, when used as linings for footwear, are directly competitive, although they have many other applications in which they are not competitive. Hogskin leathers, due to price advantage, are being increasingly used for the linings of children’s shoes and lower quality shoes for men. In the Board’s view, protection against the importation of hogskin leathers will effectively assist in the production of sheepskin leathers for this purpose. It has recommended rates of 224 % (General) and 174% (Preferential), both rates to be reduced by the amount by which the free on board value exceeds 15c per square foot. Under these duties hogskin leather with a free on board value of about 194c per square foot or higher would be free of duty under the General tariff.
The third Tariff Board report relates to tinsmiths’ snips and shears. The present duties on these goods, 324% ad valorem (General) and 25% ad valorem (Preferential), were imposed following a report in 1964. In the 1964 report, the Board expected that the tariff protection would enable the Australian manufacturer to gain a reasonable share of the market and put its production on a profitable basis. The Tariff Board has now found that the local manufacturer has made sufficient progress since 1964 to warrant continued assistance. Although significant improvements in efficiency have been achieved, the company’s market penetration has not been as great as the Board had anticipated and the Board has now recommended duty rates up to the level applicable to a number of related tools. The proposed rates of 35% ad valorem (General) and 274% ad valorem (Preferential) represent an increase of 24%.
The remaining Tariff Board report covered by the proposals concerns gas-fired water heaters, which have not been reviewed by the Board for 30 years. After calculating the local industry’s present price disadvantages against producers in the main supplying countries the Board has recommended rates of 35% (General) and 25% (Preferential) on gas-fired water heaters. The recommendations, which are based on import competition at non-dumped prices, decrease the General rate by 174% and increase the Preferential rate by 74%.
Other amendments are included in these proposals. They are drafting changes only of departmental origin and do not affect levels of tariff protection. I commend the proposals to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Reports on Items
– 1 present reports from the Tariff Board on the following subjects:
Gas-fired water beaters.
Glucose and glucose syrup.
Sheepskin and hogskin leathers.
Tinsmiths’ snips and shears.
Ordered to be printed.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 3) 1967-68 Second Reading
Debate resumed from 7 May (vide page 1 1 19), on motion by Mr McMahon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation. Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I should like to suggest that it would suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering the two Appropriation Bills and the two Supply Bills. Separate questions will, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest therefore, Mr Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of the four Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the four financial measures? As there is agreement, I will allow this course to be followed.
Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) 14.8J- The four measures now before us deal with what are called the supplementary estimates. These are the amounts which departments require over and above what they anticipated when the Budget was written. In addition, there is legislation for the normal supply that is necessary once this House rises at the end of the session to enable departments to carry on after 30th June until we resume in August and finally pass the Budget at the end of September or early in October. On this occasion, supply is sought from 1st July to the end of November, a period of 5 months. These Bills afford the House an opportunity to look at the custodianship of the Government of the finances of the nation. They give us the opportunity to point to certain trends that seem to be evident; to praise, occasionally, though not very often; and to criticise where possible in regard to the circumstances of Australia.
There are a number of matters to which I want to draw attention. The situation that Australia is in at the moment is being described as a buoyant economy. The front page of today’s ‘Australian Financial Review’, for instance, describes Australia as having an ‘exuberant economy poised for take-off. In these days financial writers too often resort to journalese rather than to facts, and with all due respect to the learned author of that piece of journalese, I prefer to suggest that at the moment the Australian economy is a hesitant economy.
– What does the honourable member call journalese?
– Journalese is the extravagant attempt to describe sometimes what are normal transitions. In the words of this gentleman, those transitions are takeoffs. Suddenly, from one quarter to another, the Australian economy is supposed to take-off. That is what I describe as journalese. It is a disposition, if one would prefer it to be expressed in this way, on the part of the reporter to describe something which is fairly ordinary as being something extraordinary. After all, as I understand it, this is more or less what makes newspapers sell. I sometimes wonder what would have been printed on the front pages of Australian newspapers in recent weeks if certain things were not supposed to have been taking place within the Australian Labor Party. What would have been the news of the day? I suggest with all respect to these gentlemen that yesterday when they received the figures of employment and bank trends, which anybody looking at these matters a quarter before could almost have suggested, they merely chose to describe the economy as exuberant and they used the word takeoff.
As I understand the word takeoff, it is what one would suggest in respect of an undeveloped economy which is about to go from subsistence to industrial, somewhere between the two processes. What is meant by takeoff in the Australian context I am not quite sure.
There are a number of factors in the Australian economy that we ought to examine. With all respect to the learned writer in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ I think there was a much more sober account of what was taking place - in Australia in the ‘Quarterly Survey’ of the Australia and New Zealand Bank Limited for April 1968. This article appeared some weeks before this euphoria in today’s Australian Financial Review’. The article in ‘Quarterly Survey’ was headed ‘Banking and National Policy’ and the author was not named. I think that in Australia sometimes it is far better that the journalist is unnamed rather than named. The unnamed author of the article said:
The preceding issue of ‘Quarterly Survey’ forecast an unusually large bank liquidity drain during the June 1968 quarter.
The author went on to point out the reasons for why he thought this unusually large fall in liquidity drain would occur. He said:
The main reasons were stated to be: The effect of the drought on rural income, particularly of wheatgrowers; the rising trend in advances for drought relief and general economic expansion; and the seasonal liquidity strains associated with the normal ebb and flow of government revenue and spending.
This is what he had said in the January issue. He went on in the April issue to suggest: lt now appears, however, that while bank Liquidity will still decline during the months ahead, the strain may not prove to be as severe as earlier anticipated. This is due mainly to the relatively high rate of capital inflow which has unexpectedly occurred in recent months - through February. It showed some signs of easing in early March.
Professor Henderson, whose opinion as an economist I respect more than those of some who write on this subject in Australia, spoke at a seminar in Melbourne on Friday, 10th May last. Above its article dealing with Professor Henderson’s statement the Melbourne ‘Age’ carried the headline: ‘Higher Taxation Needed to Dampen the Economy’. I draw attention again to the rather coloured words that are used in newspaper headlines to describe the state of the economy.
I ask: In what fields is it suggested that the economy needs dampening? I do not think there is sufficient appreciation of the fine margins to which we work in a total economy, lt is said, rightly I think, that the Australian economy has one of the highest rates of investment, in terms of gross national product, of any country. What is meant by our high rate of investment is that of a given total available we devote relatively less to consumption and rather more to investment. There is no ideal percentage in any country that should be devoted to consumption or to investment. The percentage varies with the pattern of economic development in different counties. Australia is fortunate in being able to devote such a high percentage of its gross national product to investment. I think that sometimes we fail to realise how fortunate we are or even to make allowances for the reasons for our good fortune. We devote about 25% of our gross national product to investment and about 63% to consumption. The Government absorbs a certain part of the total. I think that what is meant by the rather colourful phrase ‘higher taxation is needed to dampen the economy’ is that less money should be available to individuals for consumer purposes. But if you use taxation you can always transfer consumption from one section of the community to another. In all these arguments I think we beg the question. Do we mean that consumption as a whole should be reduced and investment increased? Do we mean primarily that there should be an easing off of public investment compared with private investment? These are questions that should occasionally be asked.
One reason why the Australian economy is as exuberant as our friend of the Financial Review’ suggests is that the factor that made us sick seems to have improved.
I refer to the sale of motor cars. The official statistics showing personal consumption expenditure in the December quarter 1967 are very interesting. These appear in Quarterly Estimates of National Income and’ Expenditure, No. 30. They show that food consumption increased by *li% compared with the previous quarter and consumption of cigarettes, tobacco and alcoholic drinks decreased by 0.5%. I do not know whether that decrease was because people were frightened of lung cancer or had become more temperate. Consumption of clothing, footwear and drapery increased by 0.5%. Consumption of household durables increased by 2%. The purchase of motor vehicles increased by 13%. With all respect to our learned writers, in my opinion the thing that makes the economy exuberant in the long run is an upsurge in consumer spending. 1 know that when consumer expenditure rises it is difficult to know where it might go.
Something else that increased in the December quarter of 1967 was the amount of money devoted to hire purchase. As most of us know, a large percentage of hire purchase finance is connected with the motor car industry. At the moment we are in a rather peculiar dilemma in relation to the motor car industry. There have been many statements in the House in the last week or two about imports of Japanese vehicles. With all due respect to the local producers, there is little doubt that in aggregate they are doing fairly well out of the present situation. I think sales of motor vehicles in the last quarter were running at the rate of between 420,000 and 450,000 vehicles a year. I think the non-local component represents one-tenth or one-ninth of that figure. I do not for a moment contend that if motor vehicles - goods of any description for that matter - are supposed to be imported under certain terms, those terms should not be adhered to. It is a bad thing when there is collusion between those who export and those who import to invoice or to record falsely some details about the goods. As I understood the statements, this seemed to be the allegation implied in respect of recent imports of motor vehicles, although the allegation was not made as precisely as I have stated. We now have a gentleman’s agreement that motor vehicles imported from Japan will sell at between $100 and $400 more than previously, depending upon the model. What difference this will make to final import figures I do not know.
The situation that led to the recent agreement at least highlights certain aspects of our economy. These are aspects to which I do not think the Government pays sufficient regard. In 1960 or 1961 it was thought that the economy was too exuberant. The recipe adopted to cure the exuberance was to increase the selling price of motor cars by increasing sales tax. That step certainly stopped the economy being exuberant, but at the expense of producing about 100,000 unemployed where formerly we had had almost no unemployed. The Government now realises that if it thinks too many motor cars are being produced, any action taken in the matter should be more sophisticated than the action taken in 1960 or 1961. Having decided that too many motor cars are being sold, it is stupid suddenly to apply the brakes, only to find that you are selling virtually none. When considering the claim that the economy is exuberant and that higher taxation is needed to dampen it, we should occasionally ask ourselves who will be dampened in the process, what is to be the nature of the dampening process and might it not have effects much more catastrophic than the condition we are trying to cure. Professor Henderson’s worry seems to be that it is likely that in the next few months the gross national product in Australia will rise about 9% and that in the same period prices are likely to rise between 4% and 5%. He suggested that something has to be done to stop the development of what is called an inflationary situation. With all due respect to Professor Henderson, I would suggest, having in mind the way statistics have been running both this year and last year, that we have been experiencing inflation at the rate of about 3% to 4%. I also believe that if we at some time reach a point at which we think that 3% is satisfactory, 4% is dangerous and 5% is catastrophic, we need to be fairly careful about what we are doing.
I believe that there are large sections of the Australian community whose consumption should not be cut down, but in fact should be augmented. One such section that conies readily to my mind is the group on fixed incomes, particularly people on age and invalid pensions. Of course, if the Government believes that higher taxation should be levied on some sections in order to make higher incomes available to others, we ought to contemplate such a procedure. However, if it is suggested that we should somehow use taxation to draw off - that is a fairly flexible term - surplus consuming power, we have to be careful that we do not repeat in 1968-69 what occurred in 1961-62. We have to be careful, as I have said before in this House, that the Australian economy is not so based that it gets pneumonia if the motor car industry sneezes. This sort of occurrence indicates that we can sometimes have a lack of proper planning and a lack of proper priorities. The word ‘priority’ is one that has been bandied about this place in debates in recent days. As I understand the use of the word, some things are always more important than others. For instance, if we have to choose, as any country has to choose occasionally, between ten requirements when we can provide only six or seven, we have to adopt some sort of scale to determine which requirements are to have priority.
At the moment a lot of financial writers are critical about what they call the upsurge in public expenditure. Again, of course, the biggest upsurge in public expenditure in Australia in recent times has been related to defence. It seems to me that people in this country occasionally take great comfort from the fact that we are spending 5% rather than 4% of our gross national product upon defence. We should occasionally ask ourselves whether the country is better defended in 1968 because the Fill aircraft is now to cost three times as much as we thought it would cost. The fact that the aircraft is to cost three times as much as was envisaged does not make it three times as good. We ought to have some regard not merely for total expenditure but also for what we really get for the expenditure that is made. This is where I believe the present arguments to the effect that public expenditure is rising too rapidly in relation to private expenditure need careful examination.
In all seriousness, I suggest that if we were to ask the people what are the most significant lags in Australia in 1968, they would not suggest that there ought to be more insurance companies, more bank buildings or more oil company headquarters buildings built in Collins Street or Bourke Street, in the heart of Melbourne, or in Pitt Street or Castlereagh Street, in the heart of Sydney. I believe that the people would suggest that there is a lack of quality and quantity in regard to the provision of education, water conservation, public transport and so on. These needs can be met only if more rather than less is devoted to public expenditure as against private expenditure. I admit that in any economy there can be a lot of argument about priorities.
Earlier in my speech I mentioned the question of whether the proper relationship of consumption to investment was 75% to 25%. Even if this ratio is accepted, quite distinct arguments about consumption can arise with respect to bow much results from income directly earned and how much from income transferred to recipients by the tax process. Equally, there can be arguments about the percentage of the total income that is devoted to investment. As I have suggested, in Australia the ratio of investment to consumption is one of the highest in the world. But oddly enough Australia has also one of the poorest rates of performance with respect to the fruits of investment. I believe that this sort of situation occasionally calls for some sort of examination. We should determine why Australia, with an investment rate of about 25% per annum, has a growth rate of not much more than 4% per annum, which, when we allow for a population increase of 2%, means a per capita improvement of little more than 2%. Some other countries which devote a smaller proportion of gross national product to investment have a better growth rate than we have. I believe that we should occasionally ask questions about what happens to the resources invested. With all due respect to secondary industry, I say that though it can point to investment figures it cannot point to figures showing the fruits of the investment.
In many respects it seems that Australia has too many plants dispersed in too many places. A lot of writing has been done about this in recent times. We have not made the most effective possible use of the plant that is available. I do not want to argue this proposition in great detail at this stage of the debate. I merely point out, as a fairly salutary observation, that figures that were given 12 months ago in a Treasury Information Bulletin, indicated that in this country a relatively high proportion of the gross national product is devoted to investment. The late lamented Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, used to point with pride to this fact. When figures were taken out to show the fruits of that investment they did not indicate a very satisfactory result. 1 know that there are various possible answers that can be given to this kind of question. It can be said, for example, that Australia is still rather dependent on exports of primary products for its sustenance, or that this is a country in which transport costs form a disproportionate part of total component costs, or that we are moving towards the stage in which tertiary activity becomes more significant than primary production and manufacturing industry have been in the past, and that the fruits of such tertiary activity are not as great as those of other activities. After all, we do not think we are more productive in school teaching if a teacher has 40 students to teach instead of 20; we rather incline to the view that what we should be aiming at is a class of 20 rather than a class of 40. This merely highlights the fact that indices based on manpower and output are not necessarily transferable across the whole globe of economic activity.
I know that it is rather difficult in April or May to predict what the outcome of the Budget presented in August or September is likely to be, but there was an interesting item in Treasury Information Bulletin No. 50 of 1968, which was issued a few days ago, dealing with gross loan proceeds for the first 9 months of the current financial year as against those for the same 9 months of the previous year. On page 11 the following appears:
In Australia gross loan proceeds amounted to $468m during the first 9 months of 1967-68. Cash proceeds of public loans were $412m and sales of Special Bonds amounted to $56m. Redemptions of special bonds were $37m and other redemptions reached $147m so that net public loan raisings in Australia in the first 9 months of 1967-68 amounted to $284m. In the corresponding period of 1966-67 gross loan proceeds amounted to $546m and redemptions to $194m so that net loan proceeds in Australia were $3 52m.
What can be gleaned from that is that in the 9 months to the end of March 1968 we had raised some $70m less on the public loan market - and the public loan market is a pretty amorphous sort of thing, despite the fact that an attempt has been made with these statistics to suggest that it is the same thing year by year. It is made up, of course, of official buyings and sellings by the Reserve Bank; it is made up of investments from the short term loan market; it is made up of investments by the insurance companies; to a very little extent indeed is it made up of investments by individuals. So that when we say that the loan market this year has raised $284m whereas previously it raised $352m, presumably the main reason for the reduction is that about ,$70m more in total has gone into private expenditure than was expected. I suggest that this is where the differences come in, and this is the fringe of what the writer calls greater exuberance in the economy now than there was formerly.
These sums are pretty marginal in the totality of things and it seems to me that what we still do not get in Australia, with all respect both to private writers and to public compilers of statistics, are forecasts of what the economic situation is likely to be. I was interested to read a review that has recently been published by the Institute of Applied Economic Research, which has been courageous enough - and I applaud it for its courage - to make a prediction. In the ‘Australian Economic Review, 1st Quarter 1968’ the Institute has been prepared to venture its arm, as it were, to forecast what the situation in Australia is likely to be to the end of June 1969. I think this is a brave enough venture, of the kind of which more is required in Australia. One can, of course, be wrong, and certainly nobody has been more wrong than the Australian Government over the last 4 or 5 years, as can be amply demonstrated by comparing the economic outcome at the end of each financial year with the result expected by the Government 12 months earlier. One sees that there has been an oscillation from year to year. In some years the Government has been proved wrong in its forecast of private expenditure and it has made the position good by pumping in public expenditure - which seems to me to be a sensible enough exercise. It appears that this year is going to be eventful because private enterprise has accepted more initiative than it has done previously. The economy is therefore described as more exuberant than in the previous year. I hope that these will not continue to be the measures of the degree of exuberance or success in the totality of the economy.
I do think that what are grossly underestimated by the Australian Government at present are its external financial problems, rather than its internal financial problems. In this respect I suppose nothing has been more quaint - than the decision made by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) over the weekend to allow what he calls the free sale of gold in Australia. With all due respect to my colleague from Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) and to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck), who comes from Western Australia and happens to be sitting at the table, I am one who believes that if people are willing to buy gold and a person has gold to sell to them, then good luck to the seller if he can gel a good price for it. To suggest in 1968- and looking forward to 1978 - that the fate of the world’s expansion in trade depends on maintaining the price of gold at this level rather than that seems to me to be the height of absurdity.
I am not quite sure what the views of the Australian Government arc about this. This rather quaint decision in the last few days to let local dealers engage in buying and selling gold for other than monetary purposes work things out as best they can is, I suppose, fair enough. 1 do not mind that. But Australia is, 1 think, the third largest gold producing country in the world, or certainly the fourth. Everyone is always doubtful about the level of production in Soviet Russia, but I think that if we leave South Africa aside, Canada, Australia and the United States of America are on much the same level. We produce, 1 understand, about 1 million ounces per annum of gold, which at the current United States price gives us an income of S35m. This is pretty small in terms of Australia’s total export earnings. Our exports are running at a rate of about $3,000m per annum, so that our gold exports represent, at best, about 7o of the total. 1 am not suggesting that it is insignificant, but I am not quite sure what the Australian Government is getting at when it allows a free market, as it calls it, for local sales. I do not think it matters enough for the Government to be serious about it. What it should he serious about - and it is about time a good deal more information was given in this House about it - is ils attitude towards what are called reforms in international monetary relationships. The introduction of such reforms is not, 1 admit, an easy process. This is something that is rather difficult to’ encompass in a short space of time. It is also a matter that is fraught with a great deal of difficulty. I was intrigued the other evening to read an article in what I always find a very interesting publication. I refer to the Monthly Economic Letter’ of the First National City Bank of New York. In theissue of April 1968, which is the latest issue available, there is an article headed ‘New Perspectives on Gold’. The article states:
In the light of data now becoming available, private demand absorbed last year not only the $1.4 billion worth of output, bin also Sl.fi billion out of official monetary gold Mocks. Of this $1.6 billion decline, S!.4 billion look place during the last quarter of 1967, immediately prior to and in the wake of the sterling devaluation. Between January and mid-March 1 968. judging from recorded changes in official slocks, further amounts totalling well in excess of %1 billion went into private hands. Thus, during the five and a half months ended in mid-March, the monetary authorities sold more than S.H billion to support the $35 price.
Since the time that article was written, an attempt has been made to divide the gold market into two markets or what is called the ‘two-tier’ system. This article sums it up rather well. The article describes this system as: . . a fixed official price for monetary transactions among governments and a floating price for private transactions in the international market.
With all respect to the Australian situation, I do not think that the Australian Government quite knows which market it thinks it is supporting.
In my view nothing was more tragic at a lime when this country claimed that its troops in the jungles of Vietnam were fighting for the preservation of the Western way of living - I know that it is not the purpose of the debate to discuss that subject - than to see that way of living destroyed along with the Western monetary system by monetary manipulation. This was through the buying and selling of gold as against dollars and vice versa that occurred mainly between France as one go-getter and a recipient at the other end which I do not know. This led at last to the devaluation of sterling, lt led, as the supplementary estimates show us. to a loss of approximately SI 13m in Australian reserves. It has led to a substantial provision, in the additional estimates that are now before us, of approximately $21m to compensate Australians who were injured in the process of the devaluation of sterling. Yet, somehow we seem to think that it is a good thing if somebody else can get a little marginal sustenance by selling gold for $39 per oz or something like that rather than for $35 per oz.
I do not want to argue in depth at the moment the Australian gold industry. If the gold industry in Australia is worth preserving, it should be preserved on its own merits. It ought not to be preserved by threatening the security of what is still the underpinning of the Western monetary system. I am afraid that the Australian Government has not given serious enough consideration to this matter. I know that our own commitment in the International Monetary Fund prevents us from giving subsidies beyond a certain amount to the Australian gold industry. But, after all, the International Monetary Fund also is supposed to have set out to stabilise currencies and at least in the last 6 months in particular nobody can suggest that the currencies in which we dct! arc stable. lt is suggested sometimes that the only losses that the Australian Government sustained were due to the devaluation of sterling. As the supplementary and additional estimates set out, Australia suffered some loss - the amount is not mentioned - due (o the devaluation of New Zealand currency, lt may well be in the future that we shall suffer some other losses by reason of the devaluation of other currencies. I suppose that our whole interest, and certainly the interests of sterling areas and Commonwealth countries, is in the stability of currencies rather than in their instability. Although, in my view, the decision of a few days ago about the free sale of gold for industrial purposes does not amount to a great deal, 1 hope that at a very early date the Treasurer will prepare a White Paper on the position of Australia, collecting ail the documentation of the last 3 years or 4 years - I refer to the Stockholm meeting, the group of ten meeting and the Rio conference - and above all indicate what the attitude of the Australian Government is to international monetary reform. In my view - and I have always maintained this view - the prosperity of the world depends more upon the successful exchange of goods and services than it does upon anything else.
A still most significant thing in the world is the redressing of the balances economically between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. So far, most of the suggestions that have been made for monetary and economic reform have tended to strengthen the needs of those who have against the aspirations of those who have not. I hope that Australia will realise sometime that it stands between both areas. We appear to be a have’ at the moment, but we have no great margin of safety for the future if there is instability economically in the world.
Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) [4.53.1- Mr Deputy Speaker, the Bills before us at the present time provide for supply to be granted from 1st July to 30th November 1968, a period of 5 months. Without this supply, of course, we would exhaust our finance to run this country from 1st July next. The debate on these Bills is like the Budget debate in that an honourable member can talk on pretty well any subject. First of all, f desire to say a few words regarding Parliament.
The first thing about which I wish to speak is something which happens here very often. This is the presentation of petitions. In my view - and I think that many honourable members will agree with me - this is a complete waste of time. The time that is wasted is not just the time of the honourable member who presents a petition. Sometimes petitions contain hundreds of signatures. In fact, one petition which contained thousands of signatures was so large that it had to be carried into this House by five attendants, I think, when it was presented. What happens when a petition is presented? From what I can see - and I have watched this matter closely for 22 years - when a petition is presented no-one takes much notice. Then it disappears, probably down into the dungeons. This happened when a Labor government was in office and it has happened during the term of office of the present Government. The position has never changed.
It appears to me that people think when they sign a petition that the petition will carry weight and strength in promoting the objectives of the people, but this is not so. I make the suggestion that, if people desire to have petitions presented, the petitions should be presented to the appropriate Minister. Then they will be sure of getting a reply. Does any honourable member in this House know of any reply that has ever come from the presentation of a petition? Has any Minister explained what has been happening as regards the subject matter of a petition? Of course not. Nothing really happens. Honourable members on both sides of the House will agree that this is the situation, no matter which Party is in office.
I want to refer next to the late sittings of the House. The position has improved. During the last debate on the Supply Bills, several honourable members spoke about late sittings. If we sit until 2 o’clock in the morning honourable members are not in a suitable condition to legislate on the expenditure of millions of dollars. When I entered the Parliament my best opportunities to speak came about 4.30 a.m. No one else wanted to speak then and I received the call. This is not just fantasy; it is shown in Hansard. I was given the call at 2 o’clock or 3 o’clock in the morning. If the debate were held at an earlier hour, honourable members with much more experience in the Parliament would speak. Of course, it can be shown that the honourable members on each side who have the most experience can add most to the debates. Late sittings are not in the best interest of good legislation. I mention this subject now for two reasons. I want to say firstly that the earlier rising each day is appreciated by all honourable members and secondly that I hope this arrangement continues. Indeed, we, as members of the Parliament, should ensure that debates are adjourned at a reasonable hour. No one worries about a sitting that continues until 11 p.m., although most people who start their work at the time we do knock off about 5 p.m. No one worries about a sitting that continues until 11.30 p.m. or even midnight. But a sitting that goes after midnight is too long altogether, and we should not have it in any circumstances.
The next matter is the number of days on which the House meets. I have heard Opposition members say that the House meets for only so many days a year and that at some previous period the House met for many more days during a year. This may be so. But what is. the answer? This Government has been in office for more than 19 years. If it needed to call the Parliament together for longer sessional- periods this could only mean that the Government had not done its job properly over the long time that it has been in office. If by some chance the Opposition became the Government, we would immediately have much longer sittings each year. That would not be because the Opposition, having become the Government, wanted to sit for longer periods; it would be because the new Government wanted to throw to one side the basic legislation that this Government had enacted and to bring in new legislation, and this would take time. Therefore, no argument of any worth about the number of days in a year that we sit can be advanced. The Government has certain legislation to enact. It must continue its stabilisation plans and improve social services, repatriation and so on. But legislation to give effect to the Government’s proposals now does not take as long to deal with as would legislation introduced by a government that took office after being in Opposition for 19 years. Such a government would want to change the whole basic structure established by its predecessor.
Someone has said that civilisation is based upon the confidence that men have in each other, in their honesty, in their integrity, in their sincerity and in their ability. How do we apply this idea to the Government? It has been in office for 19 years and is in a stronger position to-day than it has ever been. I do- not think that anybody would argue with me when I say that if the Government went to the people now it would be returned with a substantial majority. Over all these years the people have shown their confidence in the Government. I listened very closely to the speech of a man I regard as a friend. If labor became the Government, I believe he would be the Treasurer. I refer to the honourable mem.ber for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean). His speech was very quiet and did not make a ripple on the surface. He did not point forcefully to any action of the Government that was opposed to the genera] welfare of the people. He spoke about many matters, but his speech was not a condemnation of the Government and I do not think he intended it to be a condemnation. He is a sincere and honest man who meets obstacles as he comes to them. Not being able to advance arguments that would condemn the Government, he made the speech that we heard this afternoon. Most of it was appreciated not only by the Opposition but also by the Government.
The function of the Government is to foster the general manufacture and growth of products for which we have a ready market. To ensure that we have a ready market, we have trade commissioners alt around the world. They are officers of the Department of Trade and Industry. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) is the leader of the Australian Country Party. The trade commissioners report back to Canberra and in this way we ensure that trade goes on between Australia and many countries. I have suggested to the leader of our Party, the Minister for Trade and Industry, that he should appoint a roving representative of the Department to travel round the world. The expense involved would not be great, but he could visit the trade missions in various countries and could bring together the ideas of the trade commissioners. In addition, if it became apparent to the Australian Government at any time that there was a chance of promoting trade with some country where there was not a trade post, the roving representative, who might be in any part of the world, could be sent immediately to the country in which there was a prospect of trade.
This development is necessary. Many departmental stores, stock and station agents and others use this system. They have men going from one branch to another to build up business. They see what each branch is doing. The system has proved itself in private enterprise, and the Government should at least give it a trial. When I put the suggestion to the Minister he said that we already have trade commissioners around the world and an officer can go from one centre to another to deal with anything that may arise. In my view, a trade commissioner in some far flung part of the world could hardly know what is happening on the other side of the globe. We should bring them together. For a start, we should have one man - more may be needed later - who could travel around to consolidate the ideas of all the trade commissioners.
No nation can hope always to sell and never to buy. I have heard Opposition members say that the Government is buying goods that we do not need in Australia, that it is buying canned crabs, crayfish and chicken, for instance, that we do not need in Australia. That may be so. But we buy these goods from countries that buy our goods. We must have reciprocal trade and the trade balance is nearly always in our favour. Some countries have only a limited range of goods to sell and these are the goods that we must buy from them. This is very good business and must be continued. If we adopt an isolationist policy and say that we will sell to other countries but not buy from them goods that we already have in Australia, before very long we will not have any overseas trade at all. This would not be in our interests.
The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) mentioned, among other things, transport difficulties in Australia. He nods to indicate that this is so. I agree with him. We have great transport difficulties, especially as this is a very large country. I did not realise that until I went across it in a slow train. Then one realises what a large country Australia is and how immense are our transport difficulties. Everywhere we hear about them. I have been interested lately to note that the end of the next financial year, that is at 30 June 1969, the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act will cease to operate. I am asking the Government at this stage to let the people know what it intends to do. The Act operates for a period of 5 years and sets out rising figures for each year. For this year the sum is $160m, for next year it is $170m.
The S-year period, with a fixed sum for each year, was set so that local governing authorities, shire and metropolitan councils and other bodies which receive grants under this Act would know what money would be coming to them over that period. Now that we are getting towards the end of the 5-year period, we want to know whether the Government intends to carry on the scheme as it has for some years. If the answer is yes, local authorities will know that they can depend on certain money being available under the Act to assist in building roads which are vitally necessary to improve our transport system which, as the honourable member for Melbourne Ports has said, is growing very difficult. 1 agree wholeheartedly with the honourable member’s comment.
I believe that a greater amount of money could be made available over the 5-year period beginning on 1st July 1969. Though the finance provided under this legislation is not at all associated with petrol tax, or the petrol excise as it is now, the revenue from petrol excise has grown to such great proportions that more money should be made available for the roads on which the motor cars that use the petrol run. There has been quite a number of discussions regarding certain provisions of this legislation. Some people say that the section of the Act which provides for 40% to be spent on rural roads should be abandoned and the State governments which get the grant should decide what money they will allocate to rural roads. The Australian Country Party, of which I am a member, has always opposed this contention. It was the Country Party that first brought this scheme forward; I believe Sir Earle Page was the man responsible. The percentage worked up to 35% and it has now reached 40%. As roads in rural areas are not good, the figure of 40% should be increased. After all, the carrying of grains and other crops and wool over good roads saves so much in transport costs that both the primary producer and the city man benefit. Good roads have a dual advantage - for the city man who travels in the country and for the primary producer as well.
Before the present 5-year scheme started I organised at Canberra a meeting of members of councils and other accredited organisations from all over Australia. We met the Minister for Air (Mr Freeth), who was then the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Certain accredited local government representatives attended. Let me read what one or two said. Councillor Behan
Vice-President of the Australian Council of Local Government Associations and President of the Queensland Local Government Association said:
One of the greatest things that ever happened with the Commonwealth aid roads money and various grants that Parliament has made to US is the fact that we are helping to develop Australia by getting 40% allocated. I think it is a great feather in the cap of the Government that it has seen fit to have this legislation and sincerely trust they will see fit to continue it
Mr A. Mainerd, secretary of the Australian Council of Local Government Associations said:
Al the moment the Australian Council and all local government bodies throughout the Commonwealth, speaking through the Australian Council, have expressed their judgment that this 40% which was allocated for rural roads should be continued.
He also said: 1 am sure that 70% of all the roads in Australia are the direct responsibility of local governments and that means, of course, that of the total of 530,000 miles in the Commonwealth, 376,000 or 70% are the direct financial responsibility of local governments. It is the responsibility of local governments to finance that. Of course, the contribution under the CAR legislation which provided 40% of the grants to the States is chiefly for this purpose.
The Honourable J. Heitman, MLC, President of the Country Shires Association of Western Australia, spoke in the same terms of praise for the 40% allocation. Councillor J. Smith, President of the Shires Association of New South Wales spoke in these terms:
I represent the Shires Association in New South Wales. We have 133 shires. Apart from that we have the local government association, which represents the municipalities and the country cities more or less.
I then went on to point out that unless an honourable member puts forward something novel, he gets no mention in the city Press if he advocates decentralisation which may lead people and industries away from the cities. Councillor Smith went on to make this interesting observation:
The vast increase in production that has taken place in wheat, in wool and in meat over the last 10 or 15 years has not by any means been accidental. In a very, very large measure the wealth and prosperity that has been added to this country was due to several factors, I know, but largely to the improvement in rural roads, lt is the greatest thing that has happened since the advent of railways into country areas. I know it is hard to prove that. I have a specific case of my own. I put om 1,000 ions of superphosphate on my property last year. The cost would have been an extra £1 per ton had not the road position been remedied. We bad a 35-mile trip, as against an 8-mile trip now, to bring the super to the property.
Everyone has benefited by the 40% allocation. Therefore 1 say that when this measure is enacted the Government should consider increasing the figure of 40%. Australia is becoming increasingly dependent on its primary industries and its country districts. Only last Thursday I referred to the fact that honourable members from the metropolitan areas and smaller provincial cities such as Geelong have referred in this House to the unemployment that the drought has caused. Although some have been saying that Australia is less dependent on primary industry, 1 repeat that the reverse is the case. We may have great and exciting discoveries of minerals in certain parts of Australia but these finds do not lead to much employment. Many products of primary industry are processed to the stage of being sold with the consequent expansion of employment opportunities. Without primary industry this country would never have been built in the first place and it cannot be sustained in the future at its present level of stability unless we foster the main factors in our national wealth - the clipping of the golden fleece, the harvesting of the golden grain and the cultivation of countless other products of the soil.
I have read in the Melbourne newspapers that an honourable member has been advocating that the Commonwealth Government should make a loan of $40m to the Victorian Government for the underground railway in Melbourne. Quite a few honourable members have indicated that they favour such a provision. I have no doubt that traffic congestion is an acute problem in Melbourne, but there are other ways of dealing with it. I do not see the need for people who work in Melbourne to drive their vehicles into the city. Public transport is available and more people could do what others are doing already by driving to suburban railway stations or suburban bus terminals, leaving their cars there and travelling to work on the public transport systems. What type of priority should a Commonwealth Government loan for the Melbourne underground railway system have. I have often said that there are two important priorities in Australia - first, defence; secondly, water conservation. I place water conservation second because what ever benefits can be gained from water conservation will be worthless if we cannot defend and hold Australia. Where would the Melbourne underground railway come on a normal, practical and reasonable list of priorities? The honourable member who has interjected: ‘Last’, is from New South Wales so I must regard him as a hostile witness. I ask for a reasonable answer, not a biased opinion. I think such a project would be well down the list. I do not say this because 1 am opposed to an underground railway in Melbourne, which is the capital of the State in which I live, but because other projects are more important.
Perhaps it would not be inappropriate for me to tell a joke. Many years ago an Australian who was in America went to see a stage show on Broadway in which Will Rogers was starring. Will Rogers later became u star of motion pictures. He had a stooge with him on stage. At the time New York was suffering from traffic congestion, just as we are suffering at present. Will Rogers said to his stooge: ‘If the city fathers would only adopt my plan the whole trouble would be over tomorrow morning’. Of course, the stooge said: What’s your plan, Will?’ Will Rogers replied: ‘Only let on the road those cars that are paid for’. Of course, that was only a joke, we could not keep such cars off the road because a lot of people would not have cars unless they secured financial help to enable their purchase and the economy would be disrupted. I do not think we need do anything as drastic to overcome the problem, but we could keep more cars out of the city. We could keep tramcars out of the heart of the city, too. They could travel from the suburbs to the edge of the city centre without entering it. lt was interesting to hear the shadow Treasurer of the Opposition conclude his remarks by referring to the war in Vietnam. 1 shall not discuss the arguments for or against our involvement in Vietnam but I remind the House, as I have done before - and I was the first to do so - that Australians are fighting in Vietnam and that the war there must not be regarded as different from other wars. Our men are there not on a quest for gain but to rid the world of would be tyrants. The honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) is interjecting. I know that he is opposed to the Vietnam war, but surely he is not against the Australians who are fighting there. I plead with all honourable members, including the honourable member for Melbourne, to stand strong in support of our men who are serving Australia in Vietnam. Everybody knows what I think about the war in Vietnam. We have to fight there, and we have to be associated with the Americans there to stop the surge of Communism in Asia. We must honour our men in Vietnam, and when they return to Australia we must give them satisfactory repatriation benefits.
This is the time to advocate better social service payments. Last year I said to pensioners who were visiting Canberra: ‘You should come here when the Supply Bill is being discussed, not when the Budget is to be presented’. Pensioners were here last week and one man came to me and said: We are here now to put our case’. They did so to the best of their ability. I believe that there should be a good increase in repatriation pensions, especially in the pension payable to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen, particularly as they cannot work. They have suffered in serving Australia. I urge the Government to increase social service and repatriation benefits. I am sure it will heed the plea. I am sure it is considering the situation at present and that it has in mind providing adequate pensions in line with the strength of the Australian economy.
– It was nice to hear the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) urging an increase in pensions generally. Of course, it is getting close to Budget time and evidently the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has nodded to the honourable member to let him know that there is every likelihood that there will be a slight increase in pensions. However, after almost 19 years of LiberalCountry Party governments we find that there has been a steady deterioration in the standards of living and in the value of the wages earned by the average Australian. We have reached crisis point. This is proved by the incessant complaints received by individual members of the Parliament from their constituents. This has been the experience of the honourable member for Mallee, too. People say they are finding it difficult to maintain their families in keeping with normal standards necessary to ensure their personal welfare. Fathers find it most difficult to maintain their families because of the low purchasing power of wages. Many find it necessary to work long hours of overtime to acquire even the bare necessities of life. How true this is. Overtime tends to depress real wages but in the search for employment the father of an average family demands to know, before he takes a job, how much regular overtime is available. Many are forced to take second jobs, and many trade unions find among their members numerous men who are working at two jobs. One union reports that it has bank officers, clerical workers and retail trade employees by the score on its list as cleaners, and many of the employees in the hotel and catering trades are working double jobs. Statistics have shown that as far back as 1966 there were 148,000 employees officially working second jobs. Noone knows what the real figures are, because most people work their second jobs under assumed names for obvious reasons. The figures also show that there were 1,096,400 women working, comprising approximately one-third of the national work force. These figures show that Australia is not much of the lotus land that it was described as by a former Prime Minister of this anti-Labor Government, when women have to go back to work in industry to keep up with prices which are increasing rapidly and are out of all control. This Government should concern itself with the welfare of these people generally.
One would never have thought that conditions in Australia could have deteriorated to such a low level. We remember the famous advocacy of a former anti-Labor Prime Minister of Australia in his election speech as far back as 1949, when he said that he would put value back into the £1. Unfortunately, the Australian people fell for his false promises. After 19 years of antiLabor government we find that prices are beyond control. Any housewife will tell you this. In September last, statistics showed a 4% increase in the cost of living in Sydney under a State anti-Labor government. That is equivalent to 85c per week. It followed on increases in food prices and housing costs. Food prices rose at a higher than average rate of 2.8%, whilst the rise in the other capital cities was 75c in Melbourne, $1.02 in Brisbane, 54c in Canberra, 75c in Adelaide, SI. 02 in Perth and S1.62 in Hobart. One finds that the high cost of living is the result of anti-Labor governments and the lack of price control which has allowed prices to rise in essential areas of family needs. The honourable member for Mallee supports an anti-Labor government.
Further increases are expected in petrol prices which will finally be paid by the general public. Last year Ampol Petroleum Ltd achieved a 33.8% profit increase on 1966, and a record profit of $6,750,154. Factors which contributed to this record profit were taxation concessions granted by this Government to this huge monopoly and to other companies, and higher motor spirit prices. The Federal conference of the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of Australia decided in April 1967 to examine price movement in the December quarter of 1967 and to request the support of the Australian Council of Trade Unions to lodge wage claims to compensate for wage increases. The Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society and the Amalgamated Engineering Union requested the ACTU conference in 1967 to make a claim for a minimum family rate of at least $48 per week. The accuracy of this level is confirmed by the latest figures and the report of an Australia-wide gallup poll which showed that the cost of keeping a family rose by 5%, from $44.60 to $46.60 in the past year, 1967.
The total wage decision defers any application for wage increases to help offset the rise in cost before August 1968. Considering rates of price increase in 1967 this decision cannot be accepted, and steps will have to be taken to find a way to increase wages to retain purchasing power which has deteriorated to an all time low. Then, of course, there is the question of bousing. Who will deny that rents are at an all time high? Families are being asked to pay up to $25 per week for very mediocre accommodation by rapacious land and estate agents battling on the unfortunate misery of poverty stricken people. These estate agents operating in our community are most enthusiastic supporters and financial contributors to Liberal-Country Party election funds. Why is this? I believe the answer is obvious to the average man on the street.
Recently we have seen the spectacle of the wave of hysteria created by the daily Press in all parts of Australia around the election of the Liberal Party Leader who in due course has become Prime Minister of Australia. Before his election the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), on 7th January 1968, said:
If I am elected Prime Minister I have no doubt we will continue in this country as we should, as to the goals we should seek. If I were able to frame the functions of future policies I would aim at a society which would remove burdens from those in dire need.
All members of the Labor Party Opposition in this House are looking forward to the implementation of this policy of a wide increase in the value of all social services, especially a substantial increase in the miserable pittances now paid as age, invalid and widow pensions. This will help to lift the burdens from the shoulders of the old pioneers who, after all, were responsible in the first place for creating the conditions which made it possible for the new Prime Minister to be elected. We hear quite a lot in this House from the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) whom I have accused before of being a colossal humbug.
-Order! The honourable member will moderate his statements.
– Hardly a week goes by without the Minister’s voice being heard on the sad plight of the graziers due to weather, drought or devaluation. This so-called eloquent champion, the Deputy Prime Minister, forcefully pleads their case for more Government aid. We read in the ‘Daily Mirror’ of 12th December 1967 of a 32- year old grazier who spent more than $100,000 on six racehorses. He staggered seasoned buyers when he paid $30,000 for an untried New Zealand colt. Amongst those he staggered were countless thousands of factory workers whose working day is spent in noisy, smelly, sunless tin sheds and whose taxes will eventually provide the relief that these tall, sunburnt pioneers from the west of the Blue Mountains demand. The same pioneers will not allow the Government to give the workers an extra hour of daylight which they could enjoy in the garden. How true that is of our everyday life. The article in the ‘Daily Mirror’ went on to say that the Deputy Prime Minister’s pleas for those orphans from the outback sounded like a lot of cant and humbug, a statement to which I heartily subscribe. That comment also applies to the speech of the honourable member for Mallee. Let the Prime Minister’s first and most important job be to increase the welfare of our aged, invalid and widowed people who are in the direst need.
I should like to voice my views on the comic opera methods adopted by both the Liberal-Country Party hierarchy and the daily Press in the election of our present Prime Minister, and especially to the insulting remarks by the colossal humbug, the Leader of the Australian Country Party, about the honourable member for Lowe.
– I rise to order, Mr Speaker. Is the word ‘humbug’ a parliamentary term?
– In the context used by the honourable member for KingsfordSmith I do not think the word could be described as unparliamentary.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. I take it that the honourable member for Mallee gives humbugs to his grandchildren to eat on Saturdays. The Prime Minister’s first and most important job ought to be to increase the welfare of the aged, the invalid and the widowed people who are in the direst need.
Of course, we see political history repeating itself. During the years of World War II the then Leader of the Country Party, Sir Arthur Fadden, claimed that the then Prime Minister, Mr Menzies, had stabbed him in the back. All honourable members remember this. Now we witness the opposite. We are faced with the spectacle of the Deputy Prime Minister claiming that the Treasurer, an aspirant to the Prime Ministership, had stabbed him in the back. There is a lot of stabbing in the back going on among the Liberals and Country Party members. The Leader of the Country Party said that he and his Country Party colleagues would withdraw - he was starting to sulk - from the coalition Government in the event of the Treasurer being elected
Prime Minister. So what are veiled threat* really worth? Seemingly the Deputy Prime Minister has not forgotten what happened previously. For many years, of course, k has been obvious to the most casual observer that relations in the so-called unified coalition in this Parliament have not been very happy at all. The daily Press, noting this, has worked overtime in keeping up the pretence of unity to the public by seemingly sensational untruthful editorials in its organs. But the truth had to emerge and this happened during the recent bitter campaign for the Liberal Party leadership when we witnessed the infamous standover tactics of the Leader of the Country Party, Mr McEwen, in co-operation with the organs of the putrid Press, creating the hysterical climate which surrounded the candidature of the Treasurer for leadership of the Liberal Party. They were out to kill the Treasurer at all costs. This will go down in political history as the most degrading public spectacle of all times. I ask the genera] electors of Australia why they cast their votes for parties such as the Liberal Party and the Country Party and thereby assist the parties to stoop to such gutter tactics. Let us pause a moment and see what the financial editor of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ said in an article on 13th December last. This man would not be a Labor supporter. He said:
The Leader of the Country Party is ever and always the actor. One who does not shine so much in dialogue but gets his effects by specialising in exits and entrances.
This seems to be a similar case to the old electoral hedging instinct that took the Deputy Prime Minister out of Australia while the decision had to be taken on Australia’s reaction to the devaluation of sterling. Where was the Deputy Prime Minister then? We also saw that instinct at work a year previously during the general election campaign for the House of Representatives. The Deputy Prime Minister campaigned especially in Western Australia - and this may be news to the honourable member for Mallee - at least as much against the Liberal Party as against the Labor Party. Listen to this. He appealed to Labor voters to give the Country Party, above all, their second preferences.
– 1 did not go to Western Australia.
– I never said that the honourable member for Mallee went to Western Australia. He is a nonentity; he is only a backbencher. Following the same line this year, the Deputy Prime Minister, perhaps after taking a wind check, conspicuously decided to abstain from taking part in the Corio by-election campaign in his own State. Why? A few months later he announced that he would not be taking part in the Senate election campaign in November. Why? His reason was that he had to attend a meeting of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade countries in order to resist the wave of protectionist pressures which had occurred in the United States of America. The Deputy Leader of the Australian Government, the Leader of the Country Party, always has to be in America.
Further, adding more fuel to the fire which was raging between the members of the coalition, the Liberal member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) circulated a letter to all Liberal and Country Party members accusing the Leader of the Country Party of one of the most dastardly acts of treachery in Australian politics. These were strong words indeed. What is becoming of the greatly publicised unity of this Government? The honourable member for Mitchell, a Government supporter, said that the Leader of the Country Party fastened on the unfortunate death of Mr Harold Holt to destroy the Treasurer, which he failed to do when Mr Holt was Prime Minister. The honourable member for Mitchell, a New South Wales electorate, stated in his letter: i am of the opinion that the three main contestants for the leadership of our Party could not demand or expect more loyalty and support than they had shown their leader, Mr W. McMahon, who became leader of the Party on the demise of Mr Harold Holt.
Further in his letter the honourable member for Mitchell said that as this incident occurred during the arrival of overseas dignatories for a memorial service for the Prime Minister the statement by Mr McEwen would be recorded as one of the most dastardly acts of treachery in Australian politics. He went on to say that appeasement did not pay; that no outsider should be allowed to dictate to Liberal Party members of Parliament or Liberal Party senators. He said that if they succumbed now they would be under constant threat of a recurrence of similar demands in the future.
Another Liberal Minister, the former Minister for Shipping and Transport. Mr Freeth, defended the right of the Leader of the Country Party.It was a case of a fellow Liberal Party Minister attacking his colleague in preference to the Deputy Prime Minister. This Minister said that it was quite wrong to explain the issues question as being due to the personal antipathy between the two men. He said that Mr McEwen had said that the reasons were known to several Ministers before Mr Holt’s death. Not to be outdone, the Leader of the Labor rats in the Senate, the Democratic Labor Party, threw his weight into the attack on the Leader of the Country Party.
-Order! The honourable member for Kingsford Smith has used the word ‘rats’.
– CouldI say ‘vermin’, Sir?
-I ask the honourable member to withdraw the word ‘rats’.
– Rats? You ask me to withdraw the word ‘rats’.I may prefer the word vermin’.
-Order! The honourable member cannot reflect upon another member in the chamber or in another place. I ask him to withdraw the words’vermin’ and ‘rats’.
-I withdraw the words vermin’ and ‘rats’, Mr Speaker. J was not referring to any man. I was referring lo a party.I do not think my words should be objected to.
-I think that reflection on any member in another place is objectionable to the House.
– I withdraw, Sir, in deference to you.
-The honourable member will withdraw the words but not in deference to me.
– I will withdraw, Sir. The DLP members threw their weight into the attack on the Leader of the Country Party.
This Leader of the Country Party is not much good. He has a lot of questions to answer. The Leader of the DLP said he believed that the attack on the Treasurer was both unfortunate and ill-timed and the announcement by the Leader of the Country Party of apparent antipathy towards a member of Cabinet showed that the coalition was on very weak grounds. A senator of years gone by, ex-senator Foll - a red hot conservative Liberal - is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald’ to have said that he was at a loss to understand why a busy man like the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Australian Country Party spends so much time attacking the Basic Industries Group. It is easy to see in these attacks veiled attacks on certain Liberal Party Ministers and members. After all, the Australian Country Party is itself a splinter party. It came into existence after 1917 - there was a strike in 1917 - because a few members of Parliament were disgruntled at not being able to secure portfolios in the Billy Hughes Nationalist Government.
On 8th January 1968 the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ returned to the attack on the Treasurer, stating that charges so far published were open to quite different interpretations. The newspaper said that at their worst the charges might be considered to disqualify Mt McMahon, not only from being Prime Minister but also from being Treasurer, but were capable also of a more innocent interpretation. The newspaper said: The new Prime Minister, whoever he may be, should not include him in his Cabinet until this business has been decided. Perhaps Mr McMahon can now save the Liberal Party from acute embarrassment by withdrawing from the positions of Deputy Leader of the Party and Treasurer until the charges have been discussed and he has had a chance to clear himself.’ How the dogs bark! In an editorial on 2nd January 1 968 the ‘Daily Mirror’ stated that the Leader of the Country Party was the right man for Prime Minister. What a strange statement, that is coming from the ‘Daily Mirror’. How the Press can somersault from day to day. All these statements in the Press are a clear indication of the hostility and hatred that have been boiling up within the so-called unified Liberal-Country Party coalition Government I make that remark, for what it is worth, to the electors of Australia.
In summing up my remarks on this comic opera situation I would like to quote the words of a gentleman who is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald’ of 12th January this year to have said: The adulation heaped upon the new Prime Minister by certain newspapers would lead one to believe that Alexander the Great had risen from the grave. Actually the ease with which he won the post points out the deplorable lack of talent among the Liberals sitting in the House of Representatives. It seems that we are going to have a dose of the great new society shoved down our throats, which means, of course, more taxes and more men for Vietnam. I sigh for the days of old Ming, the great white father who promised us nothing and made sure that we got it. At least he ignored us with great dignity and spared us all the gaff about glorious destinies and exciting tomorrows. The gentleman whose remarks I have just referred to stated: ‘If Senator Gorton or his advisers think that a photograph showing him clad in shorts and leaning on a shovel will endear him to any section of the public they have another think coming. Australians do not want to be led by a man leaning on a shovel.’
Seeing a photograph of our Prime Minister leaning on a shovel reminded me of crude remarks made by daily newspapers during the depression, when I and many others were engaged on dole work. The Press said that all dole workers did, loafers that they were, was to lean on their shovels day and night. We got £3 17s a week, 1 week in 7, on which to keep our families. This was under a Liberal Party government, of course. Our Prime Minister should bear in mind those comments about people who lean on shovels.
In a feature article on 12th January last the ‘Daily Mirror’ served up more drivel and Yankee blah when it said that the American ‘Washington Post’ in commenting on the election of our Prime Minister had remarked rather wistfully that Senator Gorton would have made a fine candidate for the American presidency. That is the type of blah we get from the putrid Press. It was softening the Prime Minister up, leading him on to sell Australia, as he and past Liberal Prime Ministers have done.
Why can the average Australian not be protected from this baloney at 5c a time? I suggest, for the benefit of all Australians, that we endeavour to entice our Prime Minister to leave for America as soon as possible, since an opening presents itself for him to nominate for the American presidency. Australia and Australians would be well rid of him.
– I am told that when the proceedings of Parliament are being broadcast about 10,000 people at any one time listen to the broadcast. I would like to inform those 10,000 people, whoever they may be, that we on this side of the House accept it as a very healthy sign when honourable members opposite rise and attack what they describe as this fragile coalition Government. In my opinion such action is one of the healthiest signs we can have in Parliament. It shows that members of the Opposition are very concerned about the factions within their own Party - so concerned that they try to persuade the public that there is great disorder and trouble on this side of the House.
Let us look at the facts of the situation. For 19 years a coalition has governed in this country. At election after election the public has returned that coalition, sometimes reducing its majority a little and at other times increasing it. At all times the public makes its decision as it is entitled to do under our democratic system. The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Curtin) has tried to stir a possum - I think that is the phrase. Well, as members of the Liberal Party we retain the right to express our views, just as members of the Country Party retain the right to express theirs. I am convinced that this coalition will continue to go from strength to strength. I believe that rather than elect a Labor government the Australian public will continue to prefer this coalition, knowing that its supporters in this place are free to express their personal views.
It is interesting to observe the reactions of the Australian public to the difficulties which the honourable member for KingsfordSmith now observes within his own party. The Press of Australia, having suddenly realised that its boy idol has feet of clay and is no longer an odds on winner for the next Federal election, has entered into opposition against this Government and because it does not have any stories to print, it creates them. It creates stories for someone to deny. There are references in the Press to wonderful things going on in the lobbies of Parliament House. I stayed in Canberra over the weekend. I read reports in the newspapers about the lobbies buzzing with this and that. The lobbies were completely deserted over the weekend. The only thing that might have been buzzing would have been a trapped blowfly and I did not see even one of those.
I am trying to explain to the 10,000 listeners to this broadcast that they have little to fear. The signs are very good. When we are attacked for our alleged weaknesses it indicates that we have some great strength which the Opposition fears. It fears the election in 1969.
Several times recently it has been stated that Labor Party members are talking about a snap election being held this year. I do not know whether it is. I suppose that most of the election talk we hear originates from a columnist who finds he has nothing to write about one week and says that his subject for that week will be a snap election.
– Creative journalism.
– That is right. T!ie journalist writes a story about a snap election. When the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) is subsequently asked at a Press conference whether he believes there will be a snap election, he says: ‘I have not even considered if. So there is a deep, dark mystery about the Prime Minister denying something he has been credited with making a statement about, when in all probability he has said nothing about it. To me this attack by the Opposition is a good and healthy sign. Of course there will be differences in the coalition; it is impossible not to have these differences. But we will settle the differences in our own way. It is very encouraging to me to see that the coalition is the subject of attack by the Opposition because this indicates that we on this side of the Parliament are moving from strength to strength.
Debate (on motion by Mr Collard) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - The Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden), in answer to a question in this House on 9th May, which was addressed to him in his capacity as Acting Attorney-General, referred to three demonstrations planned to be held in Canberra, a trade union lobby day in Canberra, a students’ peace ride to Canberra, and a non-violent sit-in outside the Prime Minister’s Lodge. The Minister said:
Quite clearly there is no spontaneity about these demonstrations. They are all part of a planned operation.
He said also that he would consult me on my return to Australia about making a full statement. Since my return I have had discussions with the Minister and I now make the statement which was foreshadowed.
The House will recall that a statement . was made in this House by Mr Snedden on 3rd September 1964, which dealt with the Australian Congress for International Cooperation and Disarmament, generally referred to as the ACICD, which was organised by the New South Wales Peace Committee for International Co-operation and Disarmament. This Congress was held in Sydney in October 1964. The Minister’s statement showed the close relationship between the Congress and the World Peace Council and the Communist Party of Australia. In the course of his statement, the Minister - as reported in Hansard of 3rd September 1964, at page 969 - said:
The organisation known as the World Peace Council was formed in 1948 on the initiative of the Soviet Union as an instrument of Sonet policy. Its aim is to reduce the resistance and capacity for resistance of the Western countries so that peace in the form of Communist domination could ensue.
The Minister was reiterating a point made by Sir Garfield Barwick as AttorneyGeneral in an answer which he gave in 1959 to a question on notice. I refer to Hansard of 10th November 1959, at page 2524. In 1959 and in 1964 the World Peace Council was, and in 1968 it still is, the leading Communist ‘front’ organisation to carry out the policy of reducing the resistance and capacity for resistance of the Western countries.
The decisions of the Australian Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament resulted in the Peace Committee setting up in March 1965 the Association for International Co-operation and Disarmament, New South Wales, known by the initials AICD. Leading members of the Peace Committee became members of the AICD. In April 1965 there was a meeting of peace organisations convened by the World Peace Council in Brussels to discuss the World Peace Congress in July 1965. This Brussels meeting was attended by delegates from the Association for International Co-operation and Disarmament, New South Wales. A communique issued by the meeting and published in Australia by the AICD in its journal stated:
The discussion brought out that the urgent task facing the peace forces during the period of preparation for the Congress is to strengthen action to end all armed attacks on the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on the basis of the real recognition of right of the people of South Vietnam to genuine national independence and self determination in accordance with the Geneva Agreements.
The immediately preceding guide- to action for the World Peace Council was laid down at a Consultative Meeting of Representatives of Communist and Workers Parties held in Moscow during March 1965. The Communist Party of Australia sent a delegation and the meeting issued a statement on Vietnam emphasising the need for ‘International solidarity with the heroic people of Vietnam in their war of national liberation from United States imperialist domination and aggression*. Readers of the Tribune’ would have become aware of this statement when it appeared in the issue of that paper of 10th March 1965.
The AICD has subsequently sponsored and supported the growth of Vietnam war protest organisations. The AICD possesses direct links with the World Peace Council. The AICD delegates attend meetings of the World Peace Council. The AICD feeds out to peace and protest bodies in Australia, World Peace Council decisions on policy, programmes of action and propaganda lines to be followed, through a monthly newsletter and by other means. The AICD was directly involved during 1965 and 1966 in the formation of the leading protest organisations, for example, the Vietnam Action
Committee, the Youth Campaign against Conscription bodies and the Save our Sons groups.
After the general election in November 1966, when the public approved the Government’s Vietnam policy, a meeting was convened in Sydney in December 1966, on the initiative of the leaders of the Sydney Vietnam Action Committee, to discuss all the issues facing the anti-war movement in the post-election situation. They set up a Project Vietnam Committee to handle the meeting, as a co-ordinating committee, including representatives of the leading organisations involved in the campaign against the Vietnam war, including the AICD, the Vietnam Action Committee and the Youth Campaign against Conscription. This Committee agreed to sponsor a conference of activists in the anti-Vietnam war and anti-conscription movements, to be held in Sydney over the Australia Day weekend, 27th to 29th January 1967. This conference was held and what purports to be a report of the conference was subsequently published. I shall table a copy of this report and, therefore, will not refer in any detail to its contents. It might be convenient to table it now, but the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has borrowed it from me and I will table it at the conclusion of my statement. It is worth noting the work done, according to the report, by various seminar groups of this meeting dealing with particular topics. For example, the seminar group dealing with ‘Special Topic III: Demonstrations and Civil Disobedience’ is recorded, inter alia, as passing a resolution: That this group recommends to the general committee of this conference the setting up of groups to train for and discuss civil disobedience’. It is hardly necessary to emphasise the lack of spontaneity in the resulting activity.
Of the three demonstrations proposed for this week in Canberra, one appears to be a trade union activity, one a secondary students’ activity and one - the non-violent sit in - principally a university student activity. In view of this I should perhaps refer to the reports of the seminar groups, which are included in the document which I have tabled, on how these three classes of people were to be organised.
Special Topic V was ‘Trade Union Activity’. The seminar group’s report recommended twelve suggested ways of involving trade unions. Without going through these items in detail, it may be noted that method 10 states: ‘Clearly identify trade union sections in demonstrations, marches, etc.’. The demonstration planned for this week may be said to be an example of this method of organising which is recommended in the report. Special Topic IX was Young People and Secondary School Students’. The seminar group, according to the report, discussed ways of involving these children. In the report it is stated: It was considered that, particularly in New South Wales, with the introduction of the Wyndham scheme, and the sixth year, that the existence of older, more mature high school students would make for greater possibility of organisation in high schools. Obviously, the attitude of teachers is very important, sympathetic teachers make a great deal of difference, on the other hand the hostility of teachers or headmasters makes organising in high schools extremely difficult.’ As the Minister for Immigration said, it is planned and organised - from the outside. It is not a spontaneous action of school children. We have seen an example of this planning and organisation today.
Special Topic X was ‘University Students and the Anti-war Movement’. The report stated: This session discussed the involvement and organisation of students in the anti-war movement’. Anyone who thinks Australian university students have spontaneously risen to support North Vietnam in its struggle against the so called United States imperialist domination and aggression might well read this section of the report. Simultaneous action in universities in the United States in itself evidences the international initiative in this matter. The extent to which these people are prepared to manipulate students is reflected in a later section of the report, where it is stated: There was a wide divergence of opinion and emphasis on how university students could best be involved. However, general agreement emerged that this involvement could best be carried out by establishing a conscious link between students’ resentment of authority, their demands for more say in the administration of university affairs at a more basic level, questions of student welfare, sexual freedom, etc., and a progressive social philosophy embodying opposition to the war in Vietnam, opposition to conscription and an understanding of problems facing the Third World.’ The involvement of university students in the non violent sit in, which is promised for next Sunday, is the latest example of this organisation and planning.
No doubt, Mr Deputy Speaker, sincere people of goodwill become involved in these activities. This is part of the plan. Mr W. Gollan, who, I am informed, is currently a member of the National Executive of the Communist Party of Australia, a member of the AICD Committee and a member of the World Peace Council, in his article ‘The Peace Movement in Australia’, which was published in the July 1963 issue of the international Communist journal ‘Peace, Freedom and Socialism’, at page 26 said:
It is, of course, obvious that large numbers of people who support the movement for peace do not realise that in backing peaceful co-existence and in calling for disarmament they are, in fact, engaged in a political struggle against imperialism.
I believe this House and the Australian people should be made aware of the organisation and planning behind these demonstrations and activities so that they may better be able to judge them. We may expect that in the future there will continue to be action taken to manipulate these and the other sections of the community referred to in the report, which I propose to table. I now table the report.
– I refuse leave to table the report.
– I do not require leave.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! I point out to the honourable member for Melbourne Ports that a Minister can table a report or a paper at any time.
– What has he asked for leave for?
-Order! A Minister does not need leave or permission at any stage to table a paper in this House.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, with all respect, I can understand the position where the Minister makes a statement, but he has produced a document of 20-odd pages which has not been read in the House. The Minister claims that he has the right to present it as part of his speech. Now, I submit that-
– I am not asking that it be incorporated in Hansard.
-Order! The Minister has not asked for the incorporation in Hansard of the paper. The Minister, by leave, has made a statement and tabled a paper. He is within his rights in doing so. There is no discussion, and no business is before the House in that regard.
– As long as I am under no misapprehension that it means that the document is to be incorporated in Hansard-
– It will be tabled and circulated.
– 1 am told it is to be tabled and circulated. I have no doubt that if it were not circulated inside this House by the methods of this Government, it would be circulated outside. That is the way it does these things.
– Order! I suggest to the honourable member for Melbourne Ports that there is no question before the Chair in this regard.
– May I ask you, Mr Deputy Speaker, whether the Minister is moving that the paper be printed?
– No, I was not so moving.
– Will the Minister so move?
– If the honourable member for Hindmarsh desires it, 1 will so move. I think there has been some discussion - it was arranged.
– We were informed that-
-Order! 1 point out to the honourable member for Hindmarsh that, strictly speaking, no question is before the Chair :.t this moment. The Minister asked for leave and was granted leave to make a statement. At this given moment, the Minister having completed his statement, there is no business before the House.
– I rise to a point of order.
-I call the honourable member for Wills.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, are you ordering that this paper be tabled? 1 ask for your guidance. Which standing order allows a Minister to do this without the matter in some formal way being subject to debate or order by you?
-Order! 1 point out to the honourable member for Wills that it is not the place or the task of the Chair to order a Minister to do anything whatsoever. The Minister has made a statement. Leave was granted by the House for the Minister to make that statement. At the completion of his statement, the Minister tabled a paper. It is there that the matter rests. At this given moment, no business is before the House.
– Mr Deputy Speaker–
– Is the honourable member for Wills taking a point of order?
– No.I was going to ask for leave to make a statement.
-The honourable member has the right to ask for leave at any stage to make a statement.
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
– What about?
-Is leave granted?
– The honourable member for Wills has not been given leave. He has not told us what his statement is about.
– Order! Perhaps the honourable member for Wills will state the subject upon which he wishes to make a statement.
– I have been given permission to make a statement. There is no provision in the Standing Orders that I know of-
-Order! I point out to the honourable member for Wills that he was asked by an honourable member, prior to his being given leave, to state the subject on which he wished to speak. I suggest that the honourable member for Wills intimate the subject on which he wishes to speak.
– On the Minister’s statement
– Leave is granted.
– I take it I have leave.
– by leave- Tonight we listened for 20 minutes to the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) using all the authority of his office, though giving very little new information and, in fact, no information that has not been readily available to everybody, in an attempt to prejudice the right of Australian citizens to indulge in legitimate political activity. I do not want to debate this subject tonight, although it ought to have been made a subject for debate. The Attorney-General received the courtesy of the House and was given the right to table a statement. He has used the Standing Orders to the fullest possible extent to table a document that none of us has ever seen. It would have been well for us to have made this an issue for debate. He has accepted the courtesy of the House and has used the forms of the House and the authority of his high office to stifle legitimate political activity by Australian citizens.
I will give one instance of this. This afternoon a number of young students from Sydney were here. All the male members of the group shortly will be the subject of conscription and the national service system that this Government has inflicted upon them. They knew that the Attorney-General was to make this statement. He has used the Press to ensure that his intention to make the statement would be known to the public, although he did not show honourable members the courtesy of telling them. The young students came to my office and they went to the offices of other honourable members. They were treated with proper courtesy, because they are young people aged 18 or 19 years. I rang the office of the Attorney-General and the office of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden), because statements have been issued in their names, one in this House and one in the Press. I hoped that they would discuss this matter with the students. The Attorney-General did not have time to discuss it with them. But he has time to come into this House and in a lengthy prepared statement to traduce these students, to vilify them and to try to prejudice their right to legitimate political activity. He tried to intimidate them. But he did not have time to see them face to face. 1 could make many comments and 1 could continue this discussion for some time, but I simply place the issue before the Australian people. The Attorney-General, who occupies one of the highest legal offices in the land, backed by all the prestige, status and tradition of his office, has used his position to prejudice and to traduce ordinary, innocent young Australian citizens. He said that these demonstrations are not spontaneous. They are much more spontaneous than is the way in which young Liberals in this House go off to join the colours and to take their place in Vietnam. I usually refrain from giving their names personally in this place. Let me express as forcibly as I can the contempt I feel for the action that has been taken here tonight. Not one single passage in the statement has not been public knowledge. The information in it has been known to everybody concerned with public affairs who takes the time and trouble to see what is happening.
All I am doing tonight is to raise whatever voice I have on behalf of those Australian citizens who wish to demonstrate in public and to show their political attitudes in public on any issue they choose, i for one will associate with them when 1 approve and will protect them in their rights, even in those matters of which I strongly disapprove. I believe that that is the Australian democratic tradition. I have taken part in a lot of these demonstrations. I have seen spontaneous demonstrations and I have seen organised demonstrations. Last week a number of university students came to this place to give encouragement to the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth), lt was not spontaneous; of course it was organised. Arrangements had to be made with the police and so on. I have organised spontaneous demonstrations, if I can put it that way, in my own electorate, and I use the two terms advisably. I have some respect for the English language; the Attorney-General has no respect for it whatever. Last year I organised a very large demonstration in my electorate by simply announcing in the newspapers that we proposed to march to Pentridge Prison before the execution of
Ronald Ryan. Thousands of people turned up. The only ones who were organised were the three or four people closely associated with me.
The Attorney-General is paying a very poor tribute to the spirit of the Australian citizenry. He is using this House in an attempt to employ the political gimmickry of the last 20 years to prejudice the political activities of the next generation. 1 do not think he will succeed. I say to the honourable members opposite, to the Young Liberals and to the members of the Democratic Labor Party that when the day comes that they spontaneously go to the closest recruiting office and offer to go to Vietnam they will be in a position to traduce the young Australians who were here this afternoon. As for the Attorney-General, he has today demeaned not only his office and his portfolio but also himself.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
– He wants to enlist.
-Order! The honourable member for Hunter will cease interjecting.
– I may have done that more often than the honourable member has. I seek leave to make a statement.
-Order! I ask the House to come to order. I call the honourable member for Evans.
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
– I am asking for leave to make a statement on the same subject.
-Is leave granted?
– We are willing to grant leave provided we know what the statement is about. Surely we have before the House a statement from the Attorney-General. As I understood the argument, it was about incorporating in Hansard a document of about 18 pages that has not been read to the House. That was the purport of the argument when I rose. I am not quite sure what the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) is seeking leave to do. I am seeking leave at this stage to speak about the
Attorney-General’s request to have a document incorporated in Hansard. In his statement he said:
I shall table a copy of this report and therefore will not refer in any detail to its contents.
With all respect, I raised a point the other day about a document that was, to my mind, significant in our consideration of a Bill before the House. I was told that, without the leave of the House, it was not possible to incorporate that document in Hansard. Now we are arguing about whether a document of some 16 or IS pages, which nobody had seen until this afternoon, should be tabled in the House. I understand the technical differences between tabling a document in the House and incorporating it in Hansard. Tabling in the House means that it has the fullest publicity. We had here a simple enough statement. In the normal course of events we could have asked that the debate be adjourned. The Minister chose to add to his statement material that is in my view contentious. Nobody can vouch for its authenticity, but the Government knows that in some respect it damages the reputation of the Australian Labor Party. It wants to have the document tabled in the House and I object.
– As I have already explained, when the AttorneyGeneral resumed his seat the subject matter before the House was a statement he had made. He had asked for leave to make a statement and that leave was granted. The Attorney-General tabled a paper.
– Without leave.
-Order! The honourable member for Scullin will cease interjecting.
– The Attorney-General asked for leave.
– No. The Attorney-General tabled a paper. No leave was sought for that to be incorporated in Hansard. There is a complete difference between the Attorney-General tabling a paper and matter being incorporated in Hansard. Therefore when the AttorneyGeneral had finished, the honourable member for Wills and some other honourable members, including the honourable member for Hindmarsh, pursued the question and sought leave to make a statement, as I understood it, on the subject matter of the Attorney-General’s statement. The House gave leave and the honourable member for Wills made his statement. When the honourable member for Evans sought the leave of the House to make a statement, I assumed that he meant a statement on the subject matter raised by the AttorneyGeneral. At this stage a cry of ‘No’ came from the Opposition. The position now is that leave has not been granted to the honourable member for Evans. This is the only subject matter that has been considered, and the report tabled by the Minister has no relation to the discussion before the Chair.
– The honourable member for Melbourne Ports has suggested that I have presented a 16-page or 18-page document without having given notice. This is not so. This document was shown to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) and considered by him. The course that I have taken has been taken with his approval. 1 think I should draw the attention of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) to that fact. It is unfortunate that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is not here. I repeat that this was not something just produced in the House tonight for the first time.
– I rise to order. It is true that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) are not here. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton.) and his deputy are not here either. My leaders left me in charge of this side of the House this evening. They told me that a document would be produced and said that it was within my judgment as to whether it should be accepted by this side of the House. I submit with all respect that when the Minister said: ‘I shall table a copy of this report and therefore will not refer in any detail to its contents’, I raised an objection as to whether or not he would be able to do so. This is the point I am now arguing: When a speech is supported by any sort of documentation, are we bound to accept that documentation? This is germane to the whole process of parliamentary procedure. When we look at this report, what is it but a set of secret documents?
– lt is public.
– They are not secret.
– I do not mind whether it is public or not public. I suggest that the moment these documents are allowed to be tabled in this House they will be made public out of all proportion to their importance. I submit that this is the gravamen of the case.
-Order! I have already pointed out that a Minister may table a paper at any stage, particularly when there is no other business before the House. To have it or any other matter incorporated in Hansard, the leave of the House is required. As I have already explained, the Attorney-General tabled the paper. If I may use this expression, that is it.
– Again I rise to order. If that is it, the position is most unsatisfactory.
-Order! I am sorry, but there is no substance to the point of order. The honourable member may express his opinion.
– May 1 have leave to make a statement?
– That is not in my hands; it is in the hands of the House.
– We will give him leave if the Opposition first gives leave to the honourable member for Evans to make a statement.
– I understood the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, who is leading for his side at the moment, to say that he would consent to the honourable member for Evans making a statement provided he knew what the honourable member would be talking about.
– Put the question again.
-Order! As I understood the position, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, without prejudice shall I say, asked what the honourable member for Evans intended to say, and there was no comment about that. The honourable member for Evans sought leave to make a statement, at which point voices from the Opposition said ‘No’. That is the position as far as the Chair is concerned. I am in the hands of the House. The question is: That leave be granted for the honourable member for Evans to make a statement. Is leave granted?
Opposition members - No.
– Leave is not granted.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 3) 1967-68 Second Reading
Debate resumed (vide page 1385).
– On 2nd May I asked the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) a question in these terms: . . does the Minister, having described Aboriginals as being children in many respects, intend to take any action to ensure their protection, as far as possible, against any undue influence or offers of bribes at future elections?
The Minister replied:
The law in respect of Commonwealth elections is substantially the same for Aboriginals and for other Australians. Aboriginals are subject to the law which covers the acceptance of a bribe, just as anybody who attempts to bribe an Aboriginal is subject to the law. I am not aware of any particular circumstances which the honourable member may have in mind, but if there is any specific matter which he would like to bring to my notice, either publicly in this House or privately, I shall be most pleased to look into it, because I want to ensure that there is no abuse of the freedom of Aboriginals to exercise a vote in the proper manner and in accordance with the law, just as any other Australian citizen is free to do.
I applaud the Minister for that attitude. I take this opportunity to bring to the notice of the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs and also the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon), who is charged with the administration of the Electoral Act, a few accusations which leave no doubt that, for the protection of those Aboriginals and to obtain this purity of election to which the Act refers, a thorough investigation of what has taken place and can continue to take place should be undertaken. First, however, I want to refer to the relevant parts of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. Under Part XVII, Electoral Offences, section 154 provides:
To secure the due execution of this Act and the purity of elections the following acts are hereby prohibited and penalised:
Breach or neglect of official duty;
I am not concerned about that -
Illegal practices, including-
Section 156 provides:
Any person who-
promises, or offers, or suggests any valuable consideration, advantage, recompense, reward, or benefit for or on account of or to induce any candidature, or withdrawal of candidature, or any vote or omission to vote, or any support of, or opposition to any candidate, or any promise of any such vote, omission, support, or opposition; (aa) promises, offers or suggests any valuable consideration, advantage, recompense, reward or benefit for or on account of, or to induce -
CO any enrolment, or refraining from enrolment, as an elector by an aboriginal native of Australia; or
any promise of any such enrolment or refraining from any such enrolment;
gives or takes any valuable consideration, advantage, recompense, reward, or benefit for, or on account of any such candidature, withdrawal, vote, omission, support, opposition, enrolment or refraining from enrolment referred to in either of the last two preceding paragraphs; or
promises, offers, or suggests any valuable consideration, advantage, recompense, reward, or benefit for bribery, or gives or takes any valuable consideration, advantage, recompense, reward, or benefit for bribery, shall be guilty of bribery.
Section 157 reads:
Without limiting the effect of the general words in the preceding section, ‘bribery’ particularly includes the supply of meat, drink, or entertainment after the nominations have been officially declared, or horse or carriage hire for any voter whilst going to or returning from the poll, with a view to influence the vote of an elector or the supply of meat, drink, entertainment or transport with a view to influencing enrolment, or refraining from enrolment, as an elector by an Aboriginal native of Australia.
Section 162 states:
Any illegal practice shall be punishable as follows:
Bribery or undue influence, by a penalty not exceeding Two hundred pounds, or by imprisonment not exceeding one year;
any other illegal practice, by a penalty not exceeding One hundred pounds, or by imprisonment not exceeding 6 months.
As honourable members can see, it is an offence for anyone, including an Aboriginal, as the Minister correctly pointed out, to accept any sort of bribe which could influence his vote one way or another. My main concern is that these offences can occur without the voter - in this case an Aboriginal - being aware of the real situation. As the Minister has said, many Aboriginals are like children in many respects and they could quite innocently accept a bribe without knowing that it was an offence that could subject them to a fine or imprisonment as laid down in the Act. It is all right for the Minister to suggest that he will be given specific instances either publicly or privately so that he may take whatever action is necessary to bring the offenders to book but if that specific information were given it could mean only that not only the offeror but also the acceptor - in this case the Aboriginal - would be guilty of an offence and liable for punishment. I should not imagine that any honourable member would wish deliberately to be the cause of bringing to book a poor, innocent Aboriginal who knew no better and who was being exploited by some dishonourable person, perhaps a person who did not care one iota for the Aboriginal and was concerned only with achieving his own particular ends. I should have thought that since the Commonwealth Electoral Act was amended to give voting rights to Aboriginals the results of the Federal elections in all those areas where a large number of Aboriginals are enrolled would have been sufficient to cause the Minister for the Interior and his officers to become rather disturbed at what could, and certainly would, appear to be happening. I should have thought that certain evidence given in those areas to the Select Committee on Voting Rights of Aboriginals would have caused the Minister for the Interior and his Department to watch the situation closely to ensure as far as they possibly could that what witnesses said could occur did not actually occur. I suggest that what the witnesses said could occur has, in fact, occurred and will continue to occur unless the Minister for the Interior and the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs are prepared to take some positive action.
I want now to quote what some witnesses who appeared before the Select Committee said, because this should have alerted the Ministers as to what could happen. At page 257 of the report of that Select Committee appears the evidence of Mr Edward Herron McLarty, of Lulugui Station in the Kimberleys in Western Australia. I think he is a brother of a former Liberal Premier of Western Australia, Mr Ross McLarty. The following report of the evidence appears:
Do you have a polling booth on your property? -No.
Do you vote by postal vote?- Yes, generally.
Would your natives be able to fill in postal vote forms? - No.
Are your natives subject to the leadership or domination of one or more white persons? - Very much so.
The answer to the next question is important. The report continues:
If, on a large property, the right to vote was given to them, would it be possible for one person to influence them? - I have voted one ticket all my life and I think I could get sixty votes for that party without the slightest worry.
That is interesting, and it is indicative of the sort of thing that can happen. The honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) then questioned him about education and the following appears in the report:
You have expressed the view that the Aboriginals should be educated before they get the vote. Are you happy with the progress being made in that regard on your own property or that which you manage? - There is no progress being made there.
In other words no progress was being made in educating the Aboriginals to enable them to vote in the way they would wish to vote. At page 263 of the report, in the evidence of the superintendent of a mission who was being questioned about the threat of duress being exercised over Aboriginals, the following appears:
What about the threat of duress being held over them or one man having an opportunity to use duress in order to get a number of votes? - Do you mean if I brought pressure to bear upon them?
Not you, but anyone outside the mission? - They would certainly not take any notice of anyone outside the mission employees.
If a person apart from yourself, as superintendent of the mission, had strong political beliefs himself, could he influence the natives his way? - I doubt it, because, as I have said, our method is to offer suggestions to these people.
At page 275 of the report, in the evidence of a police constable the following appears:
Have you ever thought about voting rights for Aboriginals? - Yes, I have given a bit of thought to it. My opinion is that among the present class of native here there is not a great number who understand voting. I have never actually struck one who has approached me with regard to voting. The majority of them would not even know what they were voting for. They would have to be shown how to vote and told who to vote for. They could not vote on any party line. Half of them would not be able to read it.
Have you in your area many stations which employ natives? - Yes, quite a few of them employ natives.
One point has been raised and it rather concerns us. As you know, every voter should be able to vote without duress and without intimidation. In your area around here, or in your general experience, could the natives be subjected to intimidation or direction by a station manager, for example? - It would be the only way they could vote, I think.
They would vote as he tells them to vote?Yes. They would have to be directed how to vote. It would be an absolute minority who would know how to vote themselves or know which party to vote for.
I suggest that those replies of witnesses at the inquiry show clearly what could happen with Aboriginal electors. I want now to give figures of voting results prior to and subsequent to Aboriginals being given voting rights. I ask honourable members to bear in mind what the witnesses said and also to appreciate that a large number of Aboriginals can neither read nor write. They cannot read the newspapers or dodgers to learn the policy of the various parties, nor can they read how to vote cards. In many instances they would not know who the candidates were or what they stood for; yet the results of the voting in the areas I will refer to where a substantial number of Aboriginals live show a remarkable performance. They show in most cases that the number of informal votes was no more than the average in other electorates. The results are worth studying and I will give figures upon which honourable members can ponder. I am sure that honourable members will agree with my views about them. Let us look first at the 1961 election results. This was before all Aboriginals bad the right to enrol. Some were eligible - those with citizen rights - and some, but by no means all, of them exercised their rights. But others who were on the roll apparently were not interested.
The figures I am about to give refer to the subdivision of Kimberley. In 1961, which was before Aboriginals had the right to vote, a total of 1,005 votes were cast, of which 40 were informal. By the time of the 1963 election Aboriginals had the right to enrol and a large number had enrolled. In the 1963 election a total of 1,613 votes were cast, that is, 608 more than in 1961. A very large majority of the increase in the number of votes consisted of Aboriginal votes. The informal vote rose from 40 in 1961 to 46 in 1963. There were the same number of candidates - four. Of the increase of 600 votes we can say that a very large number consisted of Aboriginal votes. But there were only 6 informal votes among the increase of 600 votes. At one particular booth where by far the majority of voters would have been Aboriginals, 174 votes were cast and not one was informal. At another place where, I would think, at least 100 of the 127 votes cast were cast by Aboriginals, there were only 7 informal votes. At that particular place, I should think, a large number of the Aboriginals would not be able to read or write. I suggest that’ these results alone should have been sufficient for the Minister and the Government, if they were really interested in Aboriginal affairs, to institute an inquiry aimed particularly at protecting Aboriginal rights. It seems pretty idle to give Aboriginals a vote if they are prevented from exercising that vote as they see fit by intimidation or by some other action which makes them vote along the lines that somebody else wants.
A further reason why some inquiry should have been made - and this may be the reason why it was not made - is that of the total Kimberley vote that year I, as a candidate, received 670 votes and the Liberal candidate received 739 votes. That is not a big difference over the whole subdivision, but in those places where the Aboriginal votes were so numerous I received 28 votes to the Liberal candidate’s 199 votes. In fact, in one place I received four votes to the Liberal candidate’s 114 votes. There again, if any interest were taken in this matter by the Government it would be obvious to it that it was not a dinkum vote. Surely, on the first occasion on which Aboriginals exercised the right to vote, we could expect much the same number to vote each way.
In 1966 the Labor Party decided to put a scrutineer at the place where in 1963 there were only seven informal votes. A scrutiny of the rolls showed that practically all of the names which appeared in 1963 also appeared in 1966. But whereas in 1963, when there was no scrutineer, there were only seven informal votes out of the 127 votes, in 1966, when a scrutineer was on the job, the number of informal votes rose to 57 out of 138 votes. As I said previously, almost the same people voted on that occasion as voted a couple of years previously. But that is not all. At the Senate election of 1967 - that is, the year after - at the place where fifty-seven informal votes were cast at the previous election when we deliberately refrained from having a scrutineer, out of a count of 207 votes, which included votes at a couple of other places where Aboriginals were in the majority, only ten were informal when we did have a scrutiwere informal. Surely this shows that there is something going on in these areas and that the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs, who is supposed to be protecting Aboriginals, to some extent, should be taking an inteerst in these matters.
Recently there was a State election in Western Australia. From information I have gathered there is reason for me to believe that advantages were taken of Aboriginals which, I would imagine, would certainly be an offence under the Commonwealth Electoral Act. Whilst I know that the State Electoral Act is of no concern to the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs, I would think that any exploitation of the Aboriginal, whether it takes place in the Federal field or in the State field, should cause him to do something to try to ensure protection of the Aboriginal. The Federal Act makes it an offence to suggest any valuable consideration, advantage, recompense, reward or benefit. Also, it is an offence to take any valuable consideration, advantage, recompense, reward or benefit. So it seems to me that if an Aboriginal allowed his vote to be influenced by a promise or even a suggestion that by so doing he would receive a licence for his motor car which otherwise would not be available to him or would receive a taxi licence which would not come his way otherwise, surely the person who offered the bribe and the Aboriginal himself would be guilty of an offence. Of course, that would apply, as the Minister has stated, not only to Aboriginals but also to anybody else. But I suggest that the Aboriginal would be more susceptible to a bribe of that nature than would other people.
I would also imagine that under the Commonwealth Electoral Act it would also be an offence to suggest, unless it was public or party policy, that the support of one candidate or the rejection of another candidate would mean an immediate increase in wages, much more food and in fact that little, if any, work would have to be done to gain these things. Above all, it would be an offence to suggest - and this would be very important to the Aboriginal - that a good motor car would be given to all the leaders of the Aboriginal community. There can be no doubt that the supply of drink to the Aboriginal for the purpose of influencing his vote would be an offence against the Commonwealth Electoral Act, because the Act is quite specific in that regard. Certainly the giving of money to an Aboriginal would also be an offence. Prom what I can gather, either drink or money or both were supplied in one particular area during the recent State elections. I also have reason to believe, as I said previously, that all those things that I have mentioned have happened. 1 hope that the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) and the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs, who is sitting at the table, will take necessary action, in the interests of Aboriginals and also to prevent further mockery of that section of the Electoral Act which refers to the purity of elections, to ensure that the Electoral Act is observed.
Another matter I wish to draw attention to in this regard is that it would seem that some presiding officers at polling places may not be properly aware of what their duties actually are in relation to taking a vote. This could easily happen in the Federal field as it has happened in the State field. I am informed - and quite authoritatively - that at one place on the day of the Western Australian State election Aboriginals were entering a booth with voting cards on the back of each of which a name had been written, and this was being accepted by the presiding officer as being that particular person’s name, and he was allowed to vote. This happened on several occasions. At last a scrutineer asked the presiding officer whether he was quite certain that the man who had the card in each case was actually the man whose name appeared on the roll and on the back of the card. A question asked of an Aboriginal brought to light the fact that he was a different person to the one whose name appeared on the roll and on the back of the card, and that he was not even on the roll. Obviously someone had done this deliberately; someone had given the Aboriginal a card with a name on it and told him to go and exercise his right to vote. The Aboriginal himself or herself would not be aware that he or she would be committing an offence against the Act by voting under these circumstances. I would think, by the same token, that the presiding officer would not be expecting such low tactics to be used. Here again we find that it is perhaps necessary to be more alert with regard to Aboriginal voters than in respect to other voters.
In conclusion I want to point out again that giving the Minister or anyone else specific names and specific instances - even though I have both - would not appeal to me, for two reasons: First, I abhor informers; and secondly, I would not be the cause of booking a poor unfortunate Aboriginal. This must almost certainly happen if specific names and cases are brought out. But if some action is not taken by the Ministers to wipe out these cases of bribery and corruption someone may be forced to name people. In that event 1 hope that the Aboriginal concerned will receive some sympathetic consideration from the magistrate or whoever happens to hear the case. I certainly would not be a party to naming anyone but I know that feeling is growing in the areas where these Aboriginals live. There is injurious feeling. If something is not done to try to correct this situation then someone undoubtedly will take some action. I ask the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs to give this matter some consideration in the interests of the Aboriginals. He should try to ensure their protection from exploitation in this regard. I ask the Minister for the Interior also to look at this situation so as to prevent any further mockery of that section which refers to duress.
– I was a little disappointed to hear what the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) just said. I do not think he quite did himself or his case justice. I agree with him, as I think every honourable member would agree with him, that the Aboriginal people should be given the full right to exercise their vote in the freest possible way. I know, as every honourable member knows, that political pressures are used not only in regard to Aboriginals. They are used in every election and these are things which are the substance of an election.
But I do not take kindly to the idea that the Aboriginal is unfitted in a way to exercise his vote. I am not quite clear as to what the honourable member for Kalgoorlie was getting at. It almost seemed to me that he was saying that the Aboriginals should not be allowed to vote. This seems to me the only logica] conclusion from the kind of material he brought forward. This is not the way that I feel about the matter and I hope it is not the way that other honourable members feel. What did the honourable member for Kalgoorlie say? He could give no specific instances.
– I said that I could give instances.
– Well, the honourable member did not give specific instances for some alleged reason; that he was frightened of being - as he said - an informer. Now, if these malpractices are happening - and I for one do not follow the reasoning of the honourable member and I do not see any reason to believe that they have gone on, although I could be wrong as the facts in detail are not known to me - then in the interests of the Aboriginals they should be named. These things cannot be corrected without specific instances being given. It is no use taking refuge in some kind of vague generality. One cannot prove or disprove anything by doing that. The honourable member said: Look, there is a block vote one way or the other’. I think be was worried about the fact that in his area the block vote was not on his side and well he might be worried.
If one looks at the situation one will see what happens in these cases. Aboriginals do vote, in point of fact, in a block. What happens is that they get together among themselves. There is a strong group and community feeling among them. They do talk things over and they generally, in an area, vote more or less in the same way. But they do not always vote the same way in one area as against another. For example, if the honourable member for Kalgoorlie looks at the returns for the
Northern Territory at the last election and examines the figures for Hermannsburg, a predominantly Aboriginal area, he will see that the vote was almost unanimous for a Labor candidate. Is this any evidence of malpractice? Is this evidence that somebody from the Labor Party brought improper pressures to bear? I do not think for one moment that this is so. I think the Aboriginals in that place talked the matter over among themselves and came to a conclusion. Because there is this group and community feeling among them they voted more or less, although not entirely 100%, for the same candidate.
In other areas the same thing would happen. Sometimes the block vote would go one way and sometimes the other. It is not possible to segregate the figures because when a vote is cast we do not make any notation to say whether it was an Aboriginal who cast the vote. So it is not possible to be quite certain about any of these figures. When one looks at the pattern as a whole it would appear likely, on the best analysis, that the Aboriginals in the Northern Territory, for example, were about evenly divided. Half of them voted one way and half the other. But when one looks at the various areas one finds that in each area there was more or less a block vote. This is not evidence of any malpractice.
I think the honourable member for Kalgoorlie does somewhat less than justice to the acumen and shrewdness of the Aboriginals. It is perfectly true that in many ways these people are uneducated but they are very shrewd judges of men. This is one of their predominant capacities. They will make up their minds. Let them make up their minds freely. Let them do so with the greatest freedom. This is what I want. I know that every honourable member on this side of the House also wants this. I hope that every honourable member on the other side of the House wants this and is not just trying to make way for improper pressures to be brought to bear from his side of the House.
I mentioned the evidence about the figures insofar as there can be an analysis of them. As I said, it is not possible to be absolutely accurate because the electoral roll is not endorsed to show that a voter is an Aboriginal. The evidence available from the figures is that there is about a 50-50 split in the vote. That does not seem to me to show evidence of malpractice either way. I hope that honourable members opposite do not mean what they mean often in organising Labor politics in their electorates and in their unions, where they do bring these improper pressures to bear and where they do try to dragoon and organise voters. Are honourable members opposite just trying to make their alley good and import into the Aboriginal voters the kind of malpractices - perhaps these are strong words - political malpractices, the rather improper pressures, which they bring to bear in regard to what they call the solidarity of vote in the electorates?
– The Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs-
-Is the honourable member for Wills taking a point of order?
– No, I am asking for the withdrawal of a statement. The Minister said that members of the Labor Party used improper practices and pressures in producing votes in their electorates. This statement is a reflection on all honourable members and on the House and I ask for it to be withdrawn.
– If the
Minister used the words referred to by the honourable member for Wills I ask him to withdraw them.
– If you remember, Mr Deputy Speaker, I qualified the words politically improper’. I was very careful. I did qualify the phrase. Perhaps honourable members opposite are a little indignant because the Aboriginal voter shows a little shrewdness and because he does make a choice and will not be dragooned by either party. This may not be a bad thing.
The honourable member for Kalgoorlie did not refer to any specific instances. What he has said certainly is not enough on which to found any action. My colleague the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon), who is charged with administering the Commonwealth Electoral Act, is in the House and I have no doubt that in his own time he will deal with the points raised concerning the administration of the legislation. The charges that were made were vague. They were not substantiated. If details were given, action would be possible. I assure the House that it will be my objective and the objective of the Government to see that the Aboriginal voter has maximum freedom of choice and that he is able to exercise his vote in a democratic way. I reject the suggestion that the Aboriginal is, by his very nature, incapable of exercising a vote in our democracy. We do not believe this. It was this side of the House which decided to give the Aboriginal a vote. We believe that he is capable of exercising that right and that he should be allowed to do so. I would defend him from the kind of indirect slur of incapacity which seems to me to underlie the remarks made against him by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie.
-I think the House will be extremely disappointed in the remarks made by the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth). They did not add to the well deserved reputation which he has attained in matters affecting the welfare of Aboriginals. The Minister suggested that Opposition members were guilty of malpractices in elections. He said that he qualified his statement, but I do not know how you qualify an accusation of malpractice on the part of your political opponents. I do not think his allegation was necessary. The establishment of some system whereby pre-election knowledge may be imparted to Aboriginals could prove valuable to them. Perhaps consideration could be given to the appointment of special returning officers on the lines of the system adopted in New Guinea. I do not suggest that these things are necessary in all cases, but there may be some people in Australia who could be misled because they have not had the advantages of education. I do not for a moment suggest that Aboriginals should not have the right to vote. If literacy were a qualification determining the right to vote in this Commonwealth, we would not be a democratic society. 1 wish to refer particularly tonight to the failure of Australian governments, State and Federal, to deal with the continual drift of population into the capital cities. The problem has no ready solution. I do not think the problem will be easily solved, but it is one that should be tackled now.
Procrastination or passing the buck from a State government to the Federal Government and from the Federal Government to a State government does not solve anything. I do not suggest that I have the answers to this problem, but I think it is from this House, which has control of the finances of the Commonwealth - the States have come very close to being subservient financially to the Commonwealth - that some initiative should come with a view to arresting the drift of population from country centres and establishing centres of population outside the capital cities. If, as is often claimed by honourable members opposite, we are under threat of nuclear attack at some time in the future, it is akin to premeditated national suicide to have something like two-thirds of our population and almost all of our major industrial complexes located in about half a dozen centres of population.
In the period between the 1961 census and that of 1966 the population of Australia increased by slightly more than 1,036,000 persons. Of that number 902,000 were resident in the eight capital cities. A further 100,000 were resident in the six next biggest areas of growth. The total increase in population of country areas other than some fourteen provincial cities was of the order of 32,000. Those figures indicate the existence of a grave problem. It is not a problem confined to Australia, but it is a problem to which there must be a solution - a solution which this House should seek.
Many reasons could be advanced for the continual drift away from country areas, not the least, of which is lack of educational facilities. Facilities for education are improving in most country centres, but in many cases they are still faT from satisfactory. Children not able to receive education at the level to which they are entitled and at which they are capable of being educated must move to the capital cities. Quite often, where possible, the whole family moves rather than send the children to live alone in the capital cities while being educated. A second reason for people moving out of country areas is that when young people have finished .heir education, jobs are rarely available for them in those areas. Recently in Geelong diplomas were conferred on more than 100 graduates from the Gordon Institute of Technology. The majority of those graduates came from schools within the Geelong area. Only twenty-four of those people were able to find employment within the Geelong area in the professions for which they had been educated. This same situation most likely exists in all provincial cities in Australia. Employment is a major contributing factor in the drift of population from country areas. It is quite the regular pattern for major industries to establish parts of their plants in a provincial city but it is not the regular pattern for them to establish their administrative offices in those areas. So whilst the bread winner in a family may find good and continuing employment in a provincial city, his children, particularly his daughters, are unable to find any employment at all. When a vacancy is advertised in Geelong for a female worker, particularly an office job, it is not unusual for 100 girls to answer the advertisement. I have no doubt that the same situation exists in Rockhampton and, with very few exceptions, in all other provincial cities. Girls who cannot find work in provincial cities go to the capital cities to obtain work. They marry there and they do not return to the country. Young men who reach the higher education standards are forced to go to the capital cities to find suitable employment. They, also, do not return. I believe this continual drift is very serious and something which should be tackled very quickly.
Another problem in attracting and holding industries in country areas is poor and costly communications. Much has been done in recent years to improve services given to country areas, especially by telephones, teleprinters and similar means. But the cost factor is very important. I give one instance from the area in which I live. Subscriber trunk dialling telephone services are now practically Australia wide. If an executive of a firm operating in Frankston, which is a suburb of Melbourne, wishes to ring a business colleague in Newport, which also is in Melbourne, about 35 miles away, he pays 4c for the call. For this charge he can talk all day. On the other hand, if an executive of the Shell Company of Australia Ltd, operating at Corio, in Geelong, wishes to ring the same business bouse at Newport, about 32 miles away, he has to pay 3.4c for every 45 seconds for which he talks. If the executive at Frankston and the executive at Geelong both talked for 12 minutes, it would cost the one at Geelong, who was the closer, twenty times as much as it would cost the one at Frankston. This sort of arrangement is a serious disability for country industry. However, it is not the only one.
Transport is limited and in many cases not altogether efficient in country areas. Much has been done to improve the standards of rail transport between the capital cities, but far less has been done to improve the services between the provincial cities and the capital cities. Provincial ports are regarded as of secondary importance even though in many cases their use would be of economic advantage, even to some industries in outlying parts of the capital cities. The problems of attracting and holding industry in country centres are serious. Because most provincial centres are based on one or two major industries, they have not the diversity which a capital city has, and it is fairly regular to find considerable seasonal fluctuations in the numbers in employment in provincial areas. It is usual, in the months of July to September, for a comparatively high level of unemployment to exist in Geelong. Similar situations exist in other areas at other times of the year. If more diverse industrial complexes were developed in these areas, the population would be greatly stabilised and this would help to prevent the drift to the capital cities.
Geelong, like other provincial centres, has two real employment problems. Firstly, it has the problem of finding employment for women. I have already dealt with the problems caused by industries establishing their offices in capital cities and plants in country areas, thus not providing office employment for women in country centres. Another serious problem, of which honourable members from provincial areas will know, is that of the physically handicapped. Every day, people who are physically handicapped and quite capable of doing work come into the offices of honourable members, and more particularly into the offices of the Commonwealth Employment Service, to find whether suitable work can be found for them. They present themselves and plead for something to do. The lack of work offering for them must have a serious effect on their mental outlook. These people feel they could work but remain idle purely because there is absolutely no employment offered to them. The Commonwealth Employment Service has on its books people who are not sufficiently handicapped to receive the invalid pension but who are practically unemployable in country centres, where there is no light employment of any sort.
A further problem concerns communications again. Last week in this House I drew the attention of the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) to complaints about irregular and unsatisfactory deliveries of mail between Melbourne and Geelong. I was told by the. Minister then that representatives of the Geelong Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures, who bad raised the matter, were talking through their hats. He suggested that, before acting, I should investigate such matters that were brought to me by similar people in the future. I do not think it is proper for the Postmaster-General to suggest that I should not take the word of responsible citizens who are leaders of commerce and industry in the area I represent. If I cannot take their word and put their case before this House, whose word can be taken, Mr Deputy Speaker? I believe these people hold positions of sufficient responsibility for a member to believe, as I believe, that they would not irresponsibly raise this kind of charge. They would not bring these matters to public notice if they did not seriously believe such action was warranted. The Postmaster-General asked me to give him evidence of delays of mail. On Friday one of my constituents, quite unsolicited, brought to my office an envelope which I now show to the House. The envelope is postmarked ‘Melbourne, 3.15, 1st May 1968’. It was delivered in East Geelong and it bears the signature of the person who received it and the date on which he received it at his residence - 9th May 1968. This is an exceptional case. But the fact is that this letter took eight days to travel about 45 miles. I have been informed by my secretary that other people have been to my office today with similar evidence. But I do not think this is really needed, because I believe that officers of the Department have already interviewed people who, contrary to what the Minister said in this House, have legitimate complaints. At least one industry in my area has been operating a dispatch service between its office in Melbourne and its plant in Geelong in order that its correspondence can reach its destination soon enough to be dealt with properly.
Finally, I would like to deal with something which is far more recent than the matters which I have been discussing so far. The employment figures throughout Australia for April were published today. According to a report prepared by the Geelong Promotion Committee, April is considered to be the most buoyant month for employment in the Geelong district. I have spoken in this House previously of the problems faced by provincial cities, especially those dependent on secondary industry, over long periods of drought. The employment figures for Geelong for April show that the number of people receiving the unemployment benefit, which normally would be about one-third of those actually registered for employment, though these figures are never made available, has risen from 699 in March to 971 last month. This is a rise of about 40%. It has taken place in a month which is normally considered to be one in which the numbers registered are lowest. Contrast this with the situation in the other two major provincial cities on the western side of Melbourne: Ballarat had a rise in unemployment figures of one and Bendigo an increase of three.
The automotive industry in Geelong is at present booming and is therefore helping to keep the unemployment figures down to their present level, although it seems to me that the number of unemployed is still excessively high. But besides that industry there are also two phosphate plants, a large meatworks and the International Harvester Company’s enterprise in the Geelong area. Last Thursday night I directed attention to the fact that some SOO men have been dismissed by the meat works in the Geelong area because restocking by farmers has increased prices to such an extent that it is no longer economical to kill for freezing. These 500 men have had their employment terminated as a result of the drought conditions. I do not think anybody would argue about that. They are out of work because rain has arrived and farmers are now endeavouring to restock. This has increased prices to such an extent that there is no killing being done at the meatworks.
Any of these people who live in the cities of Geelong, Geelong West and Newtown are ineligible for employment on jobs financed from drought relief funds. Others who live in the shires of Corio, South Barwon, Bellarine and Barrabool, portions of all of which are within the urban area of Geelong, may be employed on such jobs. This seems to me a ridiculous situation. Because an area has a particular standing in the municipal register persons living in it are not entitled to employment paid for with drought relief funds even when their usual source of employment has been taken away through natural causes, and when other people in the same position but living in a different area can obtain assistance. I raise this matter because 1 think it is important.
There is one other matter which also is important. The legislation before the House provides for an increase in the amount of money appropriated for defence. I do not quarrel with this at all, but I do quarrel with the attitude that the Government seems to take that no defence money should be spent in Australia if it can be spent outside Australia. I make another point also which I suggest is quite a valid one. If we believe that defence is important in this country, one of our prime needs is to have ready the basic industries, the skills and the materials to enable us to support the people whom we expect to defend us. I refer particularly to the aircraft industry, from which skilled personnel are again being dismissed at a time when we are told that defence is our most important requirement. Some 120 or 130 persons have been dismissed from the Government Aircraft Factories at Fisherman’s Bend and Avalon. These people were capable of building 100 Mirage fighter planes in Australia under licence and doing an excellent job of it. Previously they and others had constructed the Sabre and the Canberra aircraft. They have serviced Australian aircraft with great skill over a long period. Yet at a time when we are told that we must be better prepared to defend ourselves than at any previous time since the Second World War we are cutting down vital supply lines for our defences to such an extent that if a defence emergency arose we would have to go running around the countryside trying to kid people to come back into an industry from which they are thrown out every 5 or 6 years. I remind the House that this is not the first time this sort of thing has happened in the aircraft industry, and if present policies continue it will not be the last.
In a question that I asked the Minister for Defence on 21st September last I made the point that the Mirage project was practically finished and that no orders of any importance had been placed to keep people employed in production at Avalon and Fishermen’s Bend. The Minister said then that the needs of the Air Force would be reviewed and the matter would be looked into. It has been looked into and it has been decided that there is no further use for the productive skill of these people in the aircraft industry and that they will be told to look elsewhere for employment. This is being done at a time when in the very area in which these people are being dismissed there has been a 40% rise in unemployment, in a month in which there should have been a fall.
The employment situation in the Geelong area has been aggravated by the closure of the Morley knitting mills, the company having been taken over by a large foreign firm which no longer finds it necessary to maintain a plant in the Geelong area. The situation has been further aggravated by the closing down of a slipper factory which was employing about 100 women. There is just no market for the products of that factory. It has been alleged, although not officially, that the difficulties of that company have been brought about by imports which have made it very difficult to sell Australian made slippers. Whether this is correct or not I cannot say, but it appears to me that the Government is showing a degree of irresponsibility in putting people off when it should be doing everything possible to find employment for them.
I have written to three Prime Ministers about this. I received a reply to my last letter. The Prime Minister to whom I wrote previously was unfortunately not in a position to answer. I referred in my letters to the problems which would arise as a result of the effect of drought on employment in the Geelong area. I first wrote as early as October of last year. I was told that it was not thought that any problems really existed, or that there was no evidence of them. The employment figures issued yesterday give ample evidence, and I urge the Government to take some action on the evidence that it now has. If 1,000 people are out of work in the Geelong area the traders in that area are losing no less than $40,000 for every week those people are unemployed. I have already been told by leading traders in the area that their over-? the-counter take is down by as much as 20%.
Local areas of recession may not embarrass governments but certainly many people living in those areas must suffer. Those who suffer are not only the unemployed themselves. Business and professional men and everyone else depending on the money these people earn must also suffer.’ I ask the Government to look closely at the possibility of placing government orders with industries in the area, or of carrying out any building construction that it may have in mind for the Geelong area. In this way money can be injected into the economy of Geelong. No effort should be spared to make sure that the effects of drought in the area are minimised. There will be problems in the future also resulting from the drought. There will not be a very big wool clip next year, so there will not be much work in the wool stores for the people employed there.
Finally I return to what I said at the beginning of my speech. I ask the Government seriously to examine means by which the drift of population to the capital cities can be slowed, halted or reversed. I suggest that as a primary move it may well be reasonable for this House itself to make a study of the problems involved. It may well be a good idea for us to appoint a select committee of members of this House. We have members from every State, from all sections of the community, representing all areas of the Commonwealth, and a select committee could profitably look into the problems of population drift. I note that in the terms of reference of the Vernon Committee there was a mention of the geographical location of industry and population, but I have not been able to find any reference to these matters in the Committee’s report.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) seemed to be concerned, from the beginning of his speech, about the continued drift of population from country areas to city areas. This is a real problem. May I suggest to the honourable member that more positive thinking is needed if this trend is to be arrested in the future. Perhaps one of the things to do would be to give us support in the forthcoming redistribution so that representation of areas beyond city boundaries will not be depleted. If this drift continues and all the representation in parliament is taken from country areas and given to the cities of Australia the effect will be calamatous.
In the balance of his speech, the honourable member indicated the effect on Geelong that the drought had had. This is very true. It is only an extension of what might happen and what could happen if we do not safeguard the industries within our country areas. Those industries should be safeguarded. It is obvious from the drought situation which we have been experiencing that industry is affected by the conditions. Drought will continue to affect industries for some time to come. Thank goodness the rain that we have known in the last week or so has come. But this rain is not the end of the drought. The country must recuperate from the present state of affairs. We must rebuild and our industries must come back into production again. It will be some time before production increases and this revival is felt by city areas in the production lines. This is a real problem. I endorse the remarks that the honourable member for Corio has made. This is one problem about which we must think seriously and adopt appropriate remedies.
On the last occasion when a Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill was before this House, we had an influx of mayors from, I think, all cities of Australia. The mayors came to Canberra to bring pressure to bear on the Government to give their cities a greater proportion of the financial cake. Here again we see evidence of the application of pressures from our cities to take from country areas money that is meant to build roads on a national basis right across the face of this country and is not intended to build so many monstrosities such as the steel and concrete overways, underways and what-have-you within our city areas. That kind of work really does not get us anywhere. One has only to look at some of the leading cities in the world to find examples of what I mean. Just how high these overways will go, I do not know. They are rising many stories high at the moment. Obviously, this state of affairs cannot continue. We must spread out and use some of the 3 million square miles that we have. I hope that when the Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill next comes before the House it will receive the support of the honourable member for Corio.
Mr Deputy Speaker, the four Bills before the House make provision for the future. Tremendous pressures are always put on any Government for many things. One of the matters to be considered for the next Budget will be social services. I think that Australia, even though it has suffered the ravages of drought, is a country that enjoys a high standard of living and can afford t’o look after its elderly folk. I do believe that serious consideration must be given to helping to some greater extent many of the people in our community - for instance, invalids - who have no support other than their pension. I hope that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and the Government as a whole will sympathetically consider their plight. The Government does assist them in many ways. The homes for the aged scheme, I believe, has been a tremendous success. It is meeting with support all over Australia. It represents a real effort to make a better world for some of our aged people. We can afford to do this. I really believe that. I feel that we should be looking at the subject of social services somewhat more closely in the next Budget.
Before I move on to other matters, may 1 refer to the tremendous growth rate that we have seen in the last few years in my State, Western Australia. With this growth, of course, come some problems. It is just as well that we have seen this growth rate. The repercussions of it have been borne not in a large measure by government expenditure but more particularly by private expenditure. Private money has gone into this tremendous development in primary industries and secondary industries, but mainly in primary industries. I refer to agricutlure in the true sense and also to mining development. But this growth has brought pressures to bear on the economy of Western Australia. Those pressures have been felt in one field mainly. This is the housing field which, I think, needs attention.
The State Government itself cannot handle the problem although it is endeavouring to do so. Indeed, this matter does need attention from the Commonwealth. I believe that a case exists - I understand it has been proposed now by Western Australia - for additional assistance. I feel, and I think the Government of Western Australia also feels, that we require and can absorb many more migrants in our State. But the limiting factor in this regard is housing. If Western Australia is to continue this development and if it is to continue the export’ drive which, when looked at, is seen to be of tremendous importance to Australia as a whole, which will need more of this development in the next few years in view of its balance of payments situation, I feel that the Commonwealth must look to Western Australia and assist it to a greater extent than it has so far. It must assist Western Australia to house the migrants and provide associated requirements, such as schools and hospitals.
This assistance is not being asked for without some real purpose. We can see the achievements which have been accomplished. But no State, I believe, can expand on its own resources at the rate that Western Australia has been expanding. Western Australia has been doing this very effectively but the time has come, I think, when we must look seriously at the situation there. The price of homes and the price of land that is offering are moving up. The price of land certainly is rising far too rapidly in some areas. I do feel that it is a State responsibility to do something about this matter, but having done something about it, the State still must build the homes that are required, whether they be in the country or in the industrial areas adjacent to the city of Perth. This problem is to be found in my own electorate. A very important machinery industry has developed in my electorate from the ground upwards. It began in a small way. The limiting factor in its development now is housing. This, I think, is the subject about which the honourable member for Corio was talking. Decentralisation is necessary. In the case I have just quoted decentralisation is operating but housing is a limiting factor. This is the reason why tonight I bring this matter forward in the House in the hope that the Commonwealth Government will give consideration to it.
The main matter that I wish to mention tonight is a problem that we find in the primary industries. In many areas this problem is becoming rather serious. The problem can be staved off for some time by improvements in production techniques and all sorts of things, but a point in time comes when pressures become great. The Government has a policy of protection for secondary industry. I am not going to argue about the wisdom of this policy. It has assisted to develop Australia. We have developed Australia in no uncertain fashion. Secondary industry needs protection. But once a manufactured article comes off the production line it is subject to pressures from outside. This situation is not unusual in the world. It is not unique to Australia. Protection is offered in various countries to their industries. In many cases the degree of protection is far greater than it is in Australia.
We have had recently the episode concerning motor cars imported from Japan into Australia. Here, protection is offered to the Australian motor car industry. But let us try to reverse this situation by exporting motor cars to Japan and see how far we get. I do not believe that we are able to do this. I do not believe that with all the protection in the world - protection that we need - we would be in a position to export cars to Japan. This is understandable. It is Japan’s business. We cannot argue about it. This is the type of protection that some countries give to their industries.
We also have in the Australian scene, shall I say, the protection of wage and salary earners. In other words, we have the arbitration system which is machinery set up to protect wage and salary earners and to see they get a fair return for their labour. This is fair enough, too. Although our arbitration system may have its ups and downs and need some adjustments from time to time, as an independent authority it does listen to both sides of an argument and make the adjustments that it considers to be necessary. When we get to the primary industries we see a different picture altogether. In this modern age we must look very seriously at the situation. On the one hand costs are forced up because of the policies I have mentioned. The Government has from time to time introduced legislation to protect the primary industries against rising costs. We have, for instance, taxation concessions, fertiliser subsidies and fuel equalisation measures which reduce the cost of fuel to certain people in country areas. But this assistance is not keeping pace with the general increase of costs.
The price of many commodities has deteriorated. This has been most evident with the commodities that are sold overseas. Sugar and wool are in real trouble. Perhaps we could argue about the method of marketing wool, but it is not my intention to do so tonight. The basic fact is that the wool industry is in real trouble. I should like to quote a passage from the Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics. It states the position fairly well in these terms:
The combined effect of the various changes in production and prices is an expected reduction of between 11% and 12% in the gross value of rural production to $3, 373m from $3,821m in the previous year. Farm costs, on the other hand, have continued upwards, rising by an estimated $100m with the result that farm income is expected to fall from $ 1,401m in 1966-67 to $853m, the lowest for a decade.
The volume of exports of rural origin in 1967- 68 will probably fall by no more than 2%, despite the effects of the adverse seasonal conditions on the volume of rural production.
So actual total production has not dropped by a great amount. However, the cost-price squeeze has placed the farm industries in a predicament. The Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics also stated:
Prices for farm inputs rose relatively slowly during the early years of the 1960s, but since 1963-64 the index of prices paid by farmers has increased by amounts ranging from 21% to 5% a year, and this trend is expected to continue through 1967-68 with a rise of nearly 4%.
The principal increases are in wages (5i%), local government rates (91%), fuel (9%) and fertiliser (5%), with smaller increases in machinery and spares, building materials and freight.
When these percentage rises are related to falling income, it is obvious that something will bust if we do not look at these points much more closely than we have.
We must protect the secondary industries to provide employment for our people and to keep our immigration programme going.
But if we continue to protect our secondary industries and our wage and salary earners, surely we must balance this by protecting our primary industries. This is the only way that the primary industries will be able to stay solvent. Surely these great industries which have held Australia together for so long will still maintain their position as our greatest export earners. This is very important, especially when we consider our balance of payments. If we neglect these industries and if we let the farmers and the young people who are trained in farming drift to the cities, as the honourable member for Corio said, we will lose the best of our stockmen, the best of our engineers, who do the work in this mechanised age, and others engaged in the primary industries. Then we will see a rapid fall in production. Nothing is surer, unless we protect the primary industries.
I mentioned some of the measures that have been adopted to assist primary industries. The cost of fertiliser has risen by 5%. The present subsidy on fertilisers is assisting primary industries and is the means of increasing production. It helps to keep down costs. But the subsidy was given some years ago and has not been increased since. These are the matters at which we should be looking when we seek to protect primary industries against rising costs. The primary industries cannot possibly absorb all the increases and I cannot stand by and see them decay. If we are not careful we will not really be farming but we will start to mine our soil. Surely we have seen enough evidence of this in other countries, which have permitted the soil to be mined and have finished with a dust bowl. This can happen in Australia, because the only way a farmer here can meet his commitments is to get more and more from his soil. He crops more often, and so on. What we want to do is to build our soils and to protect them. We can do this only if we have a sound economy on which our agricultural industries are based.
– I intend to confine my remarks to a discussion of Vietnam, the peace negotiations and the future of the people of Vietnam. When we think of the problems that have faced Vietnam, particularly since 1946, and the horror and suffering inflicted on its people, we all hope that peace will come to that troubled land.
The Government lacks a policy on Vietnam and is in a dilemma. Now the Government has brought out the old Red bogey in speaking about demonstrations. Today, tomorrow and Thursday demonstrations will be held in Canberra. Today young students demonstrated against the war in Vietnam. They have been troubled not only about the problem of Vietnam but also about the possibility that the war there could have escalated into another world war that could have annihilated all mankind. These young people have been thinking also of the suffering in Vietnam. The trade unions will be here tomorrow and on Thursday. They will demonstrate in a non-violent way and will demonstrate outside the Prime Minister’s Lodge. The Government thinks that this is sinister because it is organised.
I want to quote a few of the words of a great citizen of this generation. He was assassinated only a few weeks ago in the United States of America. He was one of the greatest citizens not only of this generation but of the whole of this 20th century. He was a great non-violent demonstrator, as we all know. I have no doubt that on all occasions he organised his demonstrations, because if demonstrations are to be successful they must be organised. Martin Luther King was sitting in a gaol in Birmingham, Alabama, when he read a letter from some of his fellow clergymen. They were concerned about the untimely and unwise demonstrations that had caused him to be confined to the gaol. He replied in a letter and said, in part:
I cannot sit idly, by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an escapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.
Those were the words of Dr Martin Luther King in 1963. In 1964, because of that letter and his work of non-violent demonstration he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He organised and agitated for the rights of Negroes; he said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. He demonstrated in the United States of America against the Vietnam war. He organised, demonstrated and called for the removal of President Johnston, who, for the benefit of the Negro people of America, introduced the Civil Rights Bill. Yet because of the action that President Johnston had taken in Vietnam this citizen called for the removal of the President from office.
Martin Luther King demonstrated against the war in Vietnam in the same way as young people have demonstrated in Canberra today and as our trade union men will demonstrate tomorrow and on Thursday. Non-violent demonstrates will sit outside the Prime Minister’s Lodge. There is a conscience in this country and in the United States of America. There is a conscience and worry throughout the world. The Red bogey that has been brought forward by the Attorney-General is disgusting. He is mouthing the words of the Government. They are not his words; he is far more liberal than that, but he has been forced into this situation by the Government and has had to read this splurge about a threat to freedom. Apparently it is a threat to freedom of the people of Australia to talk of the terrible sin that the Government has committed in getting the Australian people into this quagmire of Vietnam. We on this side make it perfectly clear that we are grateful that at last we see a glimmer of light at the end of the long dark tunnel - that we can see the glimmer of light in peace negotiations in Vietnam. We welcome this development. We on this side have always agitated for and advocated peace negotiations. This has not been the role of the Government.
The Australian Labor Party opposes the involvement of either Australian regular troops or conscripts in Vietnam. The Government has involved us in Vietnam, first with regular forces and then by conscripting our young men to send them to Vietnam. It has taken sides with history, determining who are the goodies and who are the baddies; it has supported corrupt generals when in fact government after government in Vietnam has fallen. Only by the tyranny and force of arms have those governments been able to keep control of that country. The Australian Government has never had any understanding or thought of history. It has involved itself in a war on the mainland of Asia.
The Labor Party has always said that it was a grave mistake to involve Australian or American troops in a land war on the mainland of Asia. Our view has been supported by the greatest military minds. Walter Lippman, in ‘Newsweek’ of 14th March 1966, said:
All the leading American military men - Eisenhower, MacArthur, Bradley and Ridgway - have warned again and again against being involved in war on the Asian mainland. General MacArthur told John Foster Dulles that any President who did commit American troops to a land war in Asia should have his head examined.
I suggest that President Johnson should have his head examined. It was President Johnson who escalated the war and increased the American participation from 16,000 military advisers in 1963 to over half a million land forces in 1968, leaving aside another 100,000 men attached to the Seventh Fleet in the South China Sea or to the Air Force bombing bases in Guam and Thailand.
We have said that a realistic approach to defence in this country is not to become involved in a land war in Asia but to adopt General MacArthur’s analogy of the whale and the elephant. He claimed that the strength of the USA is in sea and air power. The strength of the Asian and Chinese power is on the land. On the one hand we have the Chinese and other Asians in the guise of the elephant and on the other hand, as MacArthur puts it, the whale depicts the USA. General MacArthur said that the United States could use the Pacific Ocean as a large moat to prevent any invasion of the United States. This is the strategy that the Government must accept. The Government has only one mania - more and more escalation and more and more bombing. The Commonwealth Government has supported the barbaric - I use the word advisedly - action of the United States in allowing 100,000 tons of napalm to be dropped on the people of Vietnam since 1963. Napalm melts steel in the engines of motor vehicles and burns the skin on the faces and bodies of human beings, lt melts the bone structure of the face and the body. This is a most barbaric weapon, and the Governments supports its use in Vietnam.
The Government has supported the United States Government in its highexplosive bombing. More bombs have been dropped on little Vietnam than were dropped on northern Europe in the Second World War. Imagine that happening in a little country like Vietnam, with a peasant economy. One United States general said that America would bomb the Vietnamese back to the stone age. The truth is that Vietnam is very little out of the stone age. Some of the people are still much in the positions of the peasant. This barbarity has gone on and the Government has had this mania about Vietnam. What happened at the last election? The Government used the mass media of television and it published various pamphlets. What appeared on the television programmes and in those pamphlets? The Government referred to China with its 700 million or 800 million people and then had red arrows coming down towards Australia. Then these words appeared:
It’s your choice. Where do you draw the line against Communist aggression? Do we draw the line against Communist aggression in Vietnam now or do we wait until the Red advance comes down to our own shores?’
This is the hysterical fear that is displayed in regard to Vietnam. What are the thoughts of the Government? Let me quote the views of the honourable member for Higinbotham (Mr Chipp), a former Minister for the Navy, as published in ‘The Australian’ of 10th March 1968. Speaking to the Prime Minister, he said at his party meeting on Wednesday last:
Would [, Prime Minister, be overstating the situation to say that as late as 5 months ago there was a unanimous view in this room that victory was on the way in Vietnam?
That displays the stupidity of the Government, the mania, the lack of knowledge of what was happening in Vietnam. The Government refused to study facts presented by eminent writers such as those mentioned by Emmet John Hughes in ‘Newsweek’ of 29th March 1967. Who is Emmet John Hughes? Is he a Socialist who is writing for this American conservative journal? No. He is to be the campaign director for Governor Rockefeller. Rockefeller is a Republican and a representative of the Mecca of capitalism in the United States. Emmet John Hughes resigned from ‘Newsweek’ to be his campaign director. Hughes said:
The combined strength of the Vietcong and North Vietnamese regulars exceeds 520,000, of whom less than 115,000 are currently committed to battle. Thus a little more than 20% of enemy forces has sufficed to have U.S. generals clamouring for reinforcement of their army of 440,000.
This was said in May 1967. Later 1 will mention the mania of the Americans for more troops after the Tet offensive. If honourable members opposite want further information about what informed American newspaper men think, I refer them to an article by James Reston in the ‘Canberra Times’ of 19 October 1967. He wrote:
Moscow is determined that Washington will not win a military victory in Vietnam - but it does not provide the long range rockets and bombers or torpedoes that could attack our airfields at Saigon or Da Nang or hit our aircraft carriers in the South China Sea. It is not that the Soviet do not have these weapons.
Of course we all know that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has these weapons and as the war has escalated, the Russians have made available their weapons to the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese forces. Surely the Australian Government must have been concerned that the leader of the majority party in the United States Senate, Senator Mike Mansfield, who was responsible for getting through the Senate all the legislation of President Johnson, was appalled at and opposed to his Government’s policy on Vietnam. One could name dozens of senators from both sides of that chamber who are opposed to the war. The Vietnam war has been the cause of great division among intellectuals and others in the United States. The people there are divided. However, for some reason or other, there has been this monolithic unanimity of thought expressed in these words: ‘Victory in Vietnam will be our victory*. In the ‘Wall Street Journal’ of 23rd March 1968 appeared the following:
We think the American people should be getting ready to accept the prospect that whole Vietnam effort may be doomed. It may be falling apart beneath our feet.
Of course, the ‘Wall Street Journal’ speaks for the citadel of wealth in the United States. The war has escalated and disaster has followed disaster; yet up to 5 months ago the former Minister for the Navy was saying that the Government thought it would have victory ultimately in Vietnam. The Government has made no study of, and gained no understanding of, the United States’ internal or external situation.
The bubble burst with the Tet offensive. The North Vietnamese and the Vietcong were able to infiltrate 30 provincial capitals in South Vietnam. They were able to move into the heart of Saigon and into Hue, the old imperial capital in the north of South
Vietnam. To build up morale again, General Westmoreland asked for 215,000 more United States troops. One must ask why President Johnson has requested peace negotiations with North Vietnam. I challenge honourable members opposite to answer this question. When Westmoreland asked for 215,000 additional troops he freightened hell out of the financial world. The war in Vietnam has been costing the United States more than S3 5, 000m a year. An additional 215,000 troops would cost another $ 12,000m to $ 13,000m a year. Fnancial experts knew that America could not meet that expenditure. In international markets there was a run on gold and on the United States dollar. Johnson sacked Westmoreland - or ‘Westie’ as he called him - from his command and promoted him upstairs. Two prices were set for gold. This was an admission that the United States could not meet the price of $35 an ounce for gold. For many years the United States balance of payments had been draining the gold reserves at Fort Knox. Because of United States military commitments in Europe and elsewhere there had been deficit budgeting in the United States of America. Johnson was aware not only of the run on gold but also of internal trouble. He bad to face the long hot summer with negro problems and slum problems. His great society programme was crumbling. He surprised the world when he called for a limited cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam. He put forward peace proposals, and so that they would sound sincere he announced that he would not be a candidate for the Presidency of the United States at the end of 1968. Immediately the United States dollar firmed. Hanoi agreed next day to the United States proposals and following that the value of shares rose fantastically on the New York Stock Exchange. It is interesting to note that whenever there was talk of peace negotiations about a year before, instead of share values increasing on American stock exchanges they dropped, because it was thought that the United States economy was geared to war. United States financiers were aware that the United States economy was weak.
When Johnson started to escalate the Vietnamese war in 1964 he thought that he could build his great society and fight the war in Vietnam simultaneously. He, like the Australian Government, underestimated the enemy he was fighting in Vietnam. This brought about a deterioration of the internal economic situation in the United States and Johnson sought peace negotiations. These negotiations possibly will be long and drawn out and probably people will die in great numbers. This is hurtful because one could say, as did John Donne:
Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.
Whenever anyone suffers from tyranny or whenever blood is shed, we suffer, too. We can be grateful at least that the war in Vietnam will not escalate into a third world war, that there will not be a nuclear holocaust and that this universe will not be set back centuries, or possibly thousands of years.
President Johnson still has his problems of the 10% surcharge tax. At present his Budget - and imagine this in the citadel of capitalism, the United States - is faced with an estimated deficit of $20,000m. The financial writers in the United States say that some undertaking by the United States Treasury to take some economic remedial action internally must have been given to the International Monetary Fund financiers to induce them to accept the principle of having two prices for gold. The next meeting of the International Monetary Fund is in September, and some action will have to be taken. When the 10% surcharge tax was brought before the United States Congress last August it was rejected by the Congress. Now, of course, because of a fear of a run on gold the United States Congress is in the process of passing a 10% surcharge tax on condition that President Johnson will cut government spending by up to $6,000m annually. President Johnson has agreed to allow the 10% surcharge tax only if Congress cuts spending by $4,000m this year. The parties are still bickering over this question. In the next 5 years it is expected that government expenditure in the United States will be cut by approximately $20,000m.
With the great expenditure that is facing the United States there is little hope of any escalation of the Vietnam war. In fact, what will happen is what the Labor Party has said will happen. As Dennis Warner wrote recently in both the Melbourne Herald’ and the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, the Vietnam war will now be a holding war. What is the Labor Party’s policy? It is that if we are to bring peace to Vietnam first of all we have to stop bombing the North, we must recognise the people with whom we will negotiate and against whom we are fighting - the National Liberation Front - and we must retain a holding position until such time as peace negotiations are entered into and arrangements can be made so that there can be a withdrawal not only of United States forces but also of all other foreign forces and installations. This seems to me to be a policy of sanity.
In the few minutes remaining I shall point out what we have to do in the future. We have to make sure that there are tolerance and understanding and there is no name calling. In fact, the Government should face the problem of guilt that confronts it. The Government is fearful that the United States will withdraw from Vietnam and from mainland Asia. Where will that leave Australia? Where is this alliance with the United States? I can do no better than to quote what my colleague, the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) said in a very thoughtful speech on 21st October 1964. It is reported in Hansard at page 2166. I ask in particular the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) to consider these remarks because it seems that now he has the same thoughts as had the honourable member for Yarra then. The honourable member for Yarra said:
I think the general policy of containment is a sound policy, but the question is: Where? I think here is where serious mistakes have been made. I do not think proper consideration has been given to where is the best strategic point to make this containment. I think as far as the Pacific is concerned it is clear that it is somewhere along the 5,500 mile line from Kamchatka, north of Japan, to say Darwin in the south and then to the east and west. This is, I believe the first line of defence in this policy of containment. Its features are that it is essentially an air and sea line of defence. It is not a land defence like South Vietnam. I believe that the predominant and proper consideration by, for instance, American generals over the last 20 years has been that it is fatal to become involved on the land, that essentially the strategic line of defence is where General MacArthur said it was in 1949 - something like the line I have defined. I think Australia should take part in defence on this line. I think this means that we have to have fast and manoeuvrable air and sea weapons on that line. I think continental defence of Australia is a second line of defence, but necessary anyhow. Here again I think we need to think in terms of fast and manoeuvrable equipment, primarily air and sea weapons, and secondly land weapons. I think so far as Australia is concerned the system needs to be regional, it needs to be on a citizen basis as far as possible.It needs to draw for its uses on those regional areas that are suitable to the requirements of that system.
Those views were expressed by the honourable member for Yarra in this place 4 years ago. But combined with that policy we should be using our economic strength to give economic aid to these areas. We should not fear them. We should assist them by economic, medical and educational means to lift up their standards of living. This is what we should be doing instead of interfering by force of arms in their internal affairs. Therefore I think that this House should realise that it is about time that this Government took a look at itself instead of putting the. Red smearing on young men who are concerned about this war and about the human suffering of which the late Or Martin Luther King spoke.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I should like to take the opportunity in this debate to speak briefly on a problem which has developed or is developing into a serious and major problem in Queensland with regard to land development. I am glad that the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is sitting at the table, because this problem is one in which I hope he will become interested. It is causing grave concern to the Queensland Government. Many people in the cattle industry have asked me to bring it to the notice of the Government, through the Minister. I refer to the spread of Harrisia cactus in Queensland and the inability of the cattle industry and the scientific and technical personnel of the Queensland Government to halt the frightening growth of Harrisia cactus throughout some of the best land in central and northern Queensland. It has reached the point where it must be described as a serious situation.
With present technologcial knowhow I believe that one cannot be accused of being an alarmist or a pessimist as far as Harrisia cactus is concerned. It is, in fact, the gravest problem facing land development in Queensland today because it is a problem that cannot be solved biologically. Up to the present time, all efforts to control it or to eradicate it by biological means have failed. Up to the present time all efforts to control or to eradicate it by spraying have been only partially successful. It seems that the only way in which some success can be achieved is by deep ploughing and sowing down to crops and pastures. Already Harrisia cactus is sweeping into AreaIII of the brigalow land. The Federal Government did not take this matter into account when it passed legislation in respect of the brigalow scheme. The area concerned covers approximately 5 million acres. This is some of the best brigalow land in the Mackenzie-Isaac area. The performance of this land is being threatened by the potential spread of Harrisia cactus. It resembles, in its thickest form an octopus whose tentacles are forever creeping forward. It breeds profusely. It has tentacles of up to 2 to 3 feet long. It is covered with spikes. It has been commonly referred to as snake cactus. It is even perhaps more serious than the Queensland Government realises. 1 doubt it, but that could be so, because many landholders are a little dubious about whether they should report the presence of Harrisia cactus on their land because if they report it, under the present leasehold conditions they run the risk of forfeiting some of their best land.
The Harrisia Cactus, or moonlight cactus as it is called, is proving to be a far greater menace than the dreaded prickly pear because, as I said before, there is no biological means of controlling it. Cactoblastis was effective in controlling prickly pear, which invaded and devastated millions of acres of some of the best land in the Darling Downs and Maranoa areas, but it is completely useless against Harrisia Cactus. To give honourable members some idea of the danger of this plant, I mention that an important meeting of graziers was held recently in Queensland at which it was suggested that a $500,000 reward be offered to any scientist who could produce a means of controlling or eradicating this scourge. That will give honourable members an idea of what it means to the industry and the gravity of this problem not only to Queensland but to the rest of Australia.
The Federal Government cannot afford to stand off and offer various excuses, such as that such problems are State responsibilities and that constitutional difficulties prevent it entering into the sphere of the States. The Commonwealth must throw its scientific and financial resources behind the Queensland Government and the livestock industry in a concentrated scientific attempt to control and eradicate this creeping menace. The brains of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation should be marshalled against it. The Government must consider granting financial help to the Queensland Government for more research or more positive action about land clearing. Land holders should be helped to clear more land and thus control this pest. There is no reason why the Income Tax Act, for example, could not be amended to allow greater expenditure to be diverted to the control and eradication of Harrisia Cactus.
All efforts to date have failed to find a biological means of controlling this cactus. This is very serious. It has spread in the short space of 33 years since it was first reported to be growing in the bush at Collinsville. Plantings have been reported as far as Goondiwindi, Charleville, Cunnnamulla and northern New South Wales. Its greatest intensification is in the central and northern Queensland areas. One do-:s not need to be a mathematician to know that its rate of germination and spread, in terms of acres annually, is now something like the population explosion. Its growth is frightening and is almost uncontrollable. It is frightening to the State Government and to the land holders on which this creeping menace has been found.
The point is that no-one can afford to be complacent about this. Honourable members who represent electorates in New South Wales and even Victoria cannot afford to be complacent simply because Harrisia Cactus is at present confined to Queensland and has its greatest growth in northern and central Queensland. They should not be complacent because it has simply spread from a pot plant imported from Argentina. The pot plant was thrown into the bush in Queensland and the cactus has spread in the softwood scrub and Brigalow lands. As I said earlier, it has been sighted at Goondiwindi, Charleville, Cullamulla and in northern New South Wales. Only isolated plants have been found in northern New South Wales but elsewhere there are areas of tremendous growth, areas as big as this Parliament House.
I doubt whether there is a more frightening scene than to see Harrisia Cactus take over the land. The area represents a giant mass of green creeping jungle with spikes. It is rendering thousands of acres of the best brigalow and softwood scrub soils useless. Studies to date indicate that the cactus is moving south. Studies overseas by Doctor Mann and others have shown that the ideal breeding and growth conditions in Australia could be around the 25th parallel. This means around the Darling Downs area of Queensland. There is no certainty that it will not spread farther south. Many areas with a temperature above 30 degrees fahrenheit must be classified as areas that potentially may be highly susceptible to this cactus in future. The rapidity of growth of this cactus can be gauged by the fact that it is moving into areas through the brigalow and has been sighted in southern areas of Queensland. Isolated plants are moving into New South Wales. Because of the intensity of the Harrisia Cactus or moonlight cactus, because of the areas that it is now infesting, it stands to reason that as we get more floods in the Burdekin and the Fitzroy Basin they will bring the cactus further south.
Experience so far suggests that the most successful measure of eradication is land clearing, repeated deep ploughing and the sowing of improved pastures or summer and winter crops. Of course, only a relatively small portion of land can be cleared and sown for pasture and crops. The Harrisia cactus likes the better land, naturally, where there is a greater supply of plant food. However, it is no respecter of land class; it moves into the poorer areas - the elevated areas where the land cannot be ploughed.
I bring this matter to the notice of the Minister and the House because it is a serious problem. Its gravity can be gauged by the fact that the graziers are now seeking a sponsor who will offer a reward of $500,000 to a scientist who can bring forward a method to eradicate this menace. This once again brings home the lesson of the introduction of exotic plants by enthusiastic gardeners. In this case the noxious plant was released from a pot plant that was brought into Collinsville in 1900. The enthusiastic housewife gave pieces of the plant away, and in the end some of it finished up being thrown into the bush. The first reported sighting in the bush was in 1935, and from then the plant has proliferated. Areas between Collinsville and Charters Towers and the Mackenzie-Isaac district, and the Belyando and Suttor areas, are now heavily infested with this cactus.
The gravity of this menace has been accepted by the Queensland Government, the present Minister for Lands, and the previous Minister for Lands who said that although large sums have already been expended by the Department of Lands and landholders in endeavouring to control the cactus by spraying with chemicals, clearing and cultivation, it is quite clear that control has not yet been achieved and it is indeed probable that the area infested is outstripping the area over which control is being obtained. The State Government has not admitted defeat; it is working hard on the problem. It is quite obvious that before the menace gets out of hand the Federal Government, through an agency such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, must come to the help of landholders and certainly the State Government in controlling this menace.
If money is needed, it should be provided. When one has no control, one worries. One would certainly worry if there were no control of an exotic disease such as foot-and-mouth disease and animals had to be shot when they contracted it. As there is no biological control of Harrisia cactus, the Government must worry about it. When a landowner sees it, the only way for him to get rid of it is to dig it out and hope that it does not regerminate through its complicated root structure. Plenty of chemical research is going on to destroy this cactus. In the chemical field, arsenic pentoxide will destroy it to ground level but will not destroy the root system.
Various other work is proceeding. The important thing is that so far we have not discovered any biological control for the eradication of this cactus. The spread of this cactus is the greatest problem affecting land development in the area. Its march is east, west, north and south. The only thing that slows it down is a temperature of below 30 degrees. If we can benefit from the experience of Argentina, we know that given a temperature between 30 degrees and 114 degrees fahrenheit and provided there is sufficient moisture in the soil for part of the year, harrisia cactus will thrive.
– I want to refer to the system operating in Australia at present under which D notices are issued. These notices are issued by the Defence Press and Broadcasting Committee, which consists of representatives of the Defence departments and Press, radio and television interests. These people meet and issue D notices to, for example, the Press in respect of certain matters. The Press accepts this voluntary form of censorship. I refuse to concede that the Defence Press and Broadcasting Committee has the right to impose censorship on anybody. It is not responsible to any parliament. It is responsible only to itself. No organisation should be empowered to impose censorship in this country in relation to any matter unless it is responsible to this Parliament.
Attention was first directed to D notices as a result of certain things which happened in the United Kingdom, where D notices have been in existence since about 1912. Certain articles appeared in United Kingdom newspapers dealing with security checks on cables and telegrams. The matter was highlighted in some sections of the Press which refused to accept D notices. As a result of all this an inquiry was held, which recommended that the Government should have some control in the matter, preferably statutory control. I think this situation should apply in Australia. I do. not think that we as a Parliament should condone the issuing of D notices under the present system. Because so much publicity was given to this matter in the United Kingdom the Australian Defence Press and Broadcasting Committee, which has functioned since the early 1950s, sent a letter to the editors and managing directors of all newspapers in the country. So that honourable members may know how the Committee operates I will read the letter. It stated:
As D Notices have been in the UK news recently it may be opportune to remind editors and managers of newspapers and other news media that the system is also operating in Australia through the Defence Press and Broadcasting Committee, a list of whose members is attached for your information.
In brief the system is that when particular classified matters affecting Defence require special protection in the national interest a draft D Notice is submitted to the Defence Press and Broadcasting Committee, which may accept is as it stands or seek some amendment. When the D Notice has been accepted by the Committee it is then issued on a private and confidential basis to editors and managers of newspapers, radio and TV stations in the name of the Committee with the request that they observe the restrictions contained in it. Experience in this country is that the co-operation of the news media has been very good.
I think we all accept that. The letter continues:
But we are always a little concerned that as D notices are issued so infrequently they may bc lost sight of in the interevening periods or overlooked when changes in management or editorial responsibilities take place. It would assist us in ensuring that the cover provided by the D notice is fully effective if addressees could inform us when there are changes in editorial and management responsibilities so that we can keep our list of addresses up to date. For your information I have attached a list of current D notices and I will be glad to supply a copy of any D notices which you do not have.
There are nine notices on the list that was sent with this circular, I do not know how many of these are still operating. In reply to questions that I have put the Prime Minister, as head of the Department, has stated that the numbers are so small that he would not divulge them but I shall read the list I possess in the Parliament in any event. D notice No. 1 relates to the naval building programme and the publication of information upon it. D notice No. 5 relates to technical information regarding weapons and equipment. D notice No. 6 relates to air defences; it is doubtful whether there is anything to print on that matter. D notice No. 7 relates to photographs taken from the air and restrictions on their publication. D notice No. 11 relates to secret agents: With the way things are developing in this country at the present time we ought to be highlighting more of what these secret agents are doing. Today we listened to the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) raising the old issue about people who demonstrate.
The Government does not tell us about the tactics that secret agents use.
I want to mention just one incident to give an idea of how the civil rights of people are being affected by the work of security agents. It occurred at a demonstration at Holsworthy camp on behalf of conscientious objectors. A security officer came up to a person who was at this demonstration, tapped him on the shoulder and said: ‘Does your wife know that you have a blonde girl friend?’ Of course, the person ignored him. The agent touched him again and said: ‘Does your wife know that you have a blonde girl friend?’ The fellow still ignored the agent and went over to his wife, who was also at the demonstration. While he was telling his wife what the security man had said, the agent came up, arrested him and charged him with offensive behaviour. This gives clear indication of methods used by secret agents at the present time. A great many of us are aware of what is going on. This is a true story and I shall have more to say later on. We also know what is going on with reference to telephone tapping. If the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) were here he could probably give more information about this. Many other members of the Parliament are gravely concerned about the increase in the tapping of the telephones of decent people. Anybody who is opposed to the establishment is called a Com and his phone is tapped. We know that the phones of clergymen, including priests, are being tapped by security people.
– And the phones of newspaper men.
– I am reminded by the honourable member for Reid that the phones of newspaper men are being tapped. These are people who have been outspoken about the Government’s policy in Vietnam and have tried to bring about peace there. So these people’s telephones are being tapped by this Government. The Minister for Eudcation and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who is sitting at the table, on one occasion in this Parliament prior to Christmas quoted from a security document information about a young kid who had refused to join the cadets in the school he was attending. The Minister, who was at the time Minister for the Army, came into this
House with a security document to use as ammunition against the kid’s mother. I believe this was an injustice to the boy’s family.
Last Thursday, the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) quoted from files for political purposes. Tonight we saw another episode, when the Attorney-General made a statement. We are getting to the stage where we are becoming a police state because of the activities of security agents. The amount of money paid by taxpayers to run the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has risen to over $2m a year. So a lot of money is being ploughed into this field. We also know of cases in which members of the Commonwealth Public Service have openly stated that they have been approached by members of the Security Organisation to act as agents for them in universities. They have been asked to report the proceedings of clubs and different organisations that operate within the universities. People are openly stating that they have been approached by the Security Organisation to act as spies in these places. 1 believe we ought to be raising a lot of matters in the Parliament in regard to the Security Organisation. We should be querying some of their activities.
Another matter concerning D notice No. 12 is the Petrov inquiry. I asked a former Prime Minister about this in one of the first questions 1 asked in the Parliament. To give the House an idea of how this D notice system operates, I will describe what happened to a gentleman who wrote a book about Dr Evatt. This man tried for 18 months to have his book published. During this time he was put off by the publisher who said that he had not got round to printing the book because the reader had not finished it. The publisher requested that the author take out the chapter relating to Mrs Jessie Street, which he did. The author was also requested to remove the entire reference to the Petrov affair from his book. He refused to do so and was held off. The publishers kept mucking about until I raised the matter in Parliament. I let the author know there was a D notice on his book. As a result he made representations to the Press and the book was printed. But the matter did not stop there. Afterwards we found that the person who was the publisher’s reader was at the Petrov Royal
Commission. His name is not given, and I shall not mention it in Parliament. However, at present this man holds a responsible position on a Melbourne newspaper. I remind the House that this was the gentleman who wanted the chapter on Mrs Jessie Street and reference to the Petrov inquiry removed from the book. The publisher of the book also wanted removed references to matters relating to the appointment of judges who constituted the Petrov Royal Commission. This is a result of D notices that are issued as a result of action taken by this Government.
D notice No. 14 relates to official communications. I do not know what is meant by ‘official communications’. I do not know whether they are messages sent between the different embassies in Australia and their home countries. But it appears that it does not matter what is going out of the country. It is nice to see that the AttorneyGeneral has come into the House. It does not matter whether this information is being sent by cablegram or telegram. It appears to me that the Government is censoring everything that is leaving the country. An example of this is the petitions that were sent to the Governor of Hong Kong by certain trade unionists complaining about the treatment of strikers and demonstrators. Copies of these petitions were presented in this Parliament. Where did they come from? Was the mail censored and were photostat copies taken by the Security Service so that they could be produced in this Parliament for political purposes? This is the type of scrutiny that is occurring at present. Our civil liberties are being whittled away by the policies of this Government. I do not know to what extent present activities are being censored, but there is no doubt that a file is kept on most people, and probably every member of Parliament, by the Security Service.
D notice No. 16 relates to the publication of certain defence, radio and radar information. The secretary of the Committee has stated that other such notices have been issued. I would like to know what they cover. I do not accept this Committee because only the Government has control over its actions. If the Committee was responsible to the Parliament and there was a representative of the Opposition on it we could examine the matters that are placed before it and accept its actions. However, I maintain that we should not accept the Committee as it is at present constituted.
It is my intention to name the people who constitute this Committee because I feel that the Australian people should know the names of the people who are controlling the D notice system. There are representatives from the various newspapers. The Australian Newspapers Council representative is Sir John Williams, who is Chairman and Managing Director of Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, a very good conservative; there is Mr Angus Henry McLachlan, who is Managing Director of John Fairfax and Sons Ltd, publishers of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, the ‘Sun’ and the ‘Sun-Herald’, and an influential person in television: from Mirror Newspapers Ltd there is Mr Ian Patrick Smith, who is the executive editor of the ‘Daily Mirror’; and from the Australian Provincial Daily Press Ltd there is Charles Dudley Lanyon, a former Australian Country Party member of the Victorian Parliament. He comes from Mildura and is managing director of Elliott Provincial Newspapers Group Pty Ltd and also chairman of Sunraysia Television Ltd. From the Australian Federation of Commercial Broadcasting Stations there is Mr H. M. Goodsall, who is executive secretary of the Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters. From the Australian Broadcasting Commission there is Mr Arthur Noel Finlay, who . is the assistant general manager; and from the Federation of Commercial Television Stations there is Mr Arthur Cowan, who is the general manager of the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations and also executive officer of the. Australian Federation of Commercial Broadcasting Stations. Along with those gentlemen there are the Secretary of the Department of Defence, the Secretary of the Department of the Navy, the Secretary of the Department of Air, who, incidentally has just been promoted - I do not know why but honourable members may guess - and also the Secretary of the Department of Supply.
These are the people who constitute the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Committee. As honourable members can see, they include people who are most influential in the Australian newspaper world and who control the majority of the newspapers and radio stations. I should not think that they would be very favourable to the Australian Labor Party because we have seen enough of the matters that are raised by them at election time. It can be seen that all these gentlemen are Government sympathisers who will support anything that the Government throws up. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has informed me that these men receive no remuneration and no expenses and that they give their services voluntarily. Out of the goodness of their hearts they do this for the Australian people.
– And they need the money, of course.
– Yes, they need the money, but this is what they are doing, and the Prime Minister says they are doing it voluntarily. Well, I do not accept them. I refuse to accept them and I think the Parliament should refuse to accept them. If they are made responsible to us we will accept them.
In England the membership of a similar committee that operates there is well known. People are informed when a new secretary is appointed. A recent appointment was Sir Norman Denning, a brother of Lord Denning, Master of the Rolls in the United Kingdom. He evidently realises he has a responsible position. This is what he said when he was appointed to this Committee:
What 1 have got to look after is not only the interests of the country as regards security, but also the interest of the general public as regards their legitimate interest and right to know what is going on. I shall be an impartial adviser.
– Who appointed him?
– The Labour Government in the United Kingdom appointed him, but at least it let the people of that country know that it had appointed him. It let the people know that he did exist. I know, and probably a great many other members of the Parliament know, that the Conservative Government which was in office in the United Kingdom at the time of the Profumo affair tried to have a D notice placed on Christine Keeler’s memoirs, but the Press refused to accept this.
– I am telling the honourable member that this is what the Conservative Government tried to do, but the Press would not accept it. The Press also refused to accept a D notice in respect of the Philby affair. The newspaper people in England realised that these were matters of public interest and that the public should at least know about them.
Let me give the House some indication of the power of the Government of this country over the members of the Press. An article appeared recently in the Melbourne ‘Truth’ about a matter affecting the present Prime Minister. When the article appeared hot lines were opened between Canberra and the managing director of ‘Truth’ newspaper, and the poor editor of ‘Truth’ was fired because he had the audacity to publish this article. This shows the pressure that is applied by the Government on newspapers.
– What was the article about?
– lt referred to a court case involving some shares in a company of which the Prime Minister was chairman, lt concerned the transfer of these shares from a friend of the Prime Minister’s father to the Prime Minister himself. It was written up in the paper and as a result the poor old editor lost his job. I am mentioning this only to give an indication of the pressure that is applied to these people.
I bring this up because it seems to me that in this country at the present time our civil liberties are slowly dwindling away as a result of the policies of this Government. I am sick and tired of coming into this chamber and hearing members of the Australian Labor Party being castigated by honourable members opposite on the basis of information supplied to them by the security service. When it suits the political purposes of members of the Government they get the information and use it here. If they want to attack some individual who has not the right to say a word in reply, they use information here under the privilege of the Parliament The people I have referred to who comprise this committee have control over Press, radio and television. I am stating these things here tonight and they can be printed in the newspapers tomorrow, but I can tell the House that on the last occasion I asked a question in the Parliament on D notices only two newspapers in Australia even mentioned the fact that the question had been asked. Those newspapers were the Canberra ‘Times’ and the Hobart ‘Mercury’. No other newspaper in Australia mentioned it. They suppressed the information. They do not want the Australian people to know that they accept censorship restrictions.
The newspaper proprietors cry about the freedom of the Press when it suits them but at present they are imposing censorship on information coming out of Vietnam. One day last week an early morning edition of a Sydney newspaper carried a report that American aircraft had bombed certain suburbs of Saigon. In the later editions of that newspaper the report was withdrawn because the proprietors did not want the Australian people to know that the Americans were bombing Saigon’s suburbs in which live women and children who were suffering from the bombing.
I have said all I wish to say at present on the subject of censorship by the Press. Other honourable members are waiting to speak in this debate. I have spoken on censorship because I believe that the matter should be raised in the public interest to enlighten the Australian people who are not aware that the wool is being pulled over their eyes. I hope I have informed them of the action being taken at present by the Australian Press.
– The people of Australia have been told on many occasions by representatives of the Government that Australia is one of the world’s greatest trading nations - that it is the tenth or eleventh greatest trading nation in the world.
– It is the twelfth greatest.
– My friend says that it is now the twelfth greatest trading nation. In 1955-56 the amount spent upon the Department of Trade and Industry was about £945,000, or less than $2m. Last year over $18m was appropriated for that Department, so that the cost of the Department of Trade and Industry has increased ninefold in a period of about 12 years. That, of course, makes the Department great. Since 19SS-S6 the trading operations of Australia have also increased. T have the directors’ report issued by the Australian Industries Development Association in May 1968. This very recent document sets out the returns from exports and the actual landed cost of imports - that is the cost of goods plus freight and insurance - for the 10-year period from 1957 to 1967 and for the 8-month period from July 1967 to February 1968. The figures cited show that during that period Australia paid out about $27,531,000,000 for imports and received about $24,568,000,000 from exports. Therefore we paid about $2,963,000,000 more for goods and services than we received from our exports. In other words, we have spent abroad nearly $3, 000m more than we have received for goods and services sold abroad. A table is set out showing that exports during the period were valued at $24,568,235,000. Imports were valued at $24,534,070,000. The goods that we sold were greater in value than the imports that we received.
The point that I wish to make is this: During that period we were losing on our trading operations because of invisibles. These figures reveal that in 1961-62 the value of imports of merchandise only without invisibles was about $400m less than the value of exports. In 1962-63 the value of imports was $1Om greater than the value of material exports. In 1963-64, the value of exports was $400m more than the value of imports. But from then on imports to Australia became greater in value than our exports. In 1964-65 the value of our exports was $2,651,449,000 while the value of imports stood at $2,904,703,000. Our imports were valued at about $3 00m more than our exports. In the following year the value of imports was $200m greater than the value of our exports. In the next year the value of imports was $23m greater than the value of exports. This year the value of imports has been greater than the value of exports by $400m or $500m. The gap is becoming greater. This loss is made not. only upon invisibles but upon the very material goods that we are selling overseas.
As the time is late, I will content myself with reading what the Development Association of Australia has to say about this matter.
This Association is made up not of radicals but of businessmen in our community. This is what the publication says about the present state of affairs:
In normal circumstances, any person, business, or country acting in this way, would face inevitable bankruptcy. Australia has carried on successfully because of substantial capital inflow; we have, in fact, mortgaged a part of our future to pay for the present. Many of our resources - pastoral lands, mineral deposits, and a percentage of our equity in commerce and industry - have been drained for the profit of overseas interests. Australia must bear the inherent liability of this influx of capital; profits must be remitted overseas. Despite record capital inflow, our foreign reserves have fallen steadily during the past two or three years, and our increasing defence commitments will deplete them even more. It is imperative, therefore, that Australia use this capital inflow to build up overseas reserves, which should not be spent with thoughtless prodigality on frequently non-essential imports.
Recent emphasis on the need for balanced bilateral trading arrangements are in direct conflict with the terms of GATT. As a member, Australia has adhered to the basic principle of multi-lateral, not bi-lateral, trade. Japan fought strenuously to become a member nation and thereby accepted the rules and obligations of the Agreement. In the late ‘thirties and early ‘forties, Japan strove (militarily, economically, and politically) for the conquest of South-East Asia. Her military defeat in 1945 saw also the collapse of her economic goal - the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere. Today she is righting viciously to win economic suzerainty over East Asia, Australia and Oceania, and is prepared to use any expedient to achieve success in undermining the protective devices of other countries. Her actions with regard to Australia’s automotive industry (and possibly the chemical and textile industries) show this only too clearly.
In February 1968, some Japanese businessmen went even further. They advised Australia to confine her development efforts to farming and to turn away from manufacture. Japan, in fact, is asking us to repudiate a complex of manufacturing programmes that will ensure a stable and balanced prosperity for all Australians - we must never become the economic serfs of Japan.
I agree with that. I know that at the present time no action is being taken by our Government to prevent the operations of Japan. I am not anti-Japanese; I am proAustralian. I believe in the development of this nation. I also believe that when people, by devious means, by means which have been described in another place and in this House by representatives of the Government as conspiracy, violate the customs laws of this country, then, irrespective of who they are, they should be prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. The laws of this country should not be as a net made to catch the small fish but through which the big fish can smash their way. But that is what is happening with the connivance of this Government in connection with the trading activities of Japan. The Government is permitting this because it feels that it should not do anything that may endanger some kind of trade with Japan in Australian primary products.
Japan is trading with Australia only because the products that she acquires from us are essential to the development of her own economy. She is not trading with Australia or buying one ounce of our production, whether it be iron ore, whether it be wool, whether it be meat or hides, that she cannot utilise in her own economy with profit to herself. As has been pointed out in the article to which I have referred, this Government accepts in return for those things which are essential to build up the greatness of Japan, unnecessary articles and in some cases articles that damage the economy of this country - articles that prevent industries from being established here and that help to destroy or retard industries already in existence here. I agree with the concluding part of that article which reads:
Unfortunately, Australia has been attracted by the least troublesome trade arrangements, and has sold her wares to the easiest buyer; she has failed to realise that dependence on Japanese markets could become a liability. Currently through United States commitments and spending in South East Asia, Japan is earning, each year, approximately $US1 1/4 billion by direct American purchases, and indirectly, by the availability of purchasing power (made possible through American spending in those areas) in other South East Asian nations. The termination of American spending in these countries would have serious consequences for Australia. It could inhibit Japan’s economic expansion and her ability to buy Australian commodities. In addition, Australia’s export sales to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and other Asian areas would experience a serious setback. It is essential, therefore, that Australia should actively seek to broaden and diversify her export markets, and to effectively protect and encourage the steady growth of the home market.
Those are things with which I agree. I believe this country should direct its efforts to the building up of export industries and import replacement industries. But we are not doing that. As this article says, Australia is taking the easiest course possible. It is using whatever resources it can obtain from overseas in the form of capital inflow by direct investment, by portfolio investment or by some other means which it hopes will eliminate the need for the country to live on the products of its labour from year to year. In this way we are storing up grave difficulties for the future.
I was very anxious to see that the article published by the Australian Industries Development Association did not go unnoticed. The point it makes is consistent with the attitude of the Australian Labor Party towards the Japanese Trade Agreement right down through the years. We do not believe that trade is bilateral. We believe that our trading operations should be balanced not with one country but with all countries. If we have a deficit with the United States of America and with Great Britain and a favourable balance with Japan or with other countries, we should not try to reduce our favourable balance with Japan before we improve our unfavourable balance with countries such as the United States and Great Britain.
– That is a bit complicated.
– Our friend in the Australian Country Party says that is a bit complicated. Even the simplest of these matters would seem complicated to the honourable member for Mallee. But the point is quite clear. It is set out in the article, which I shall give to him after I have finished with it. We should balance our trading operations over all the countries with which we trade and we should not try to balance our trade with one country while our trade with other countries is in a state of imbalance. That is what Great Britain is trying to do now. She is trying to get rid of the disabilities that she is suffering from trading deficits, although her trading deficits per capita are not as great as Australia’s trading deficits are.
– Why does she not do as the honourable member says?
– That is exactly what she is doing. Recently, the President of the United States of America declared that that country would get rid of all freight and insurance charges. He said that in the future goods going from and to America must be carried under the American flag and must be insured by American companies. America decided that the big items of freight and insurance, which were previously a disability for her, as they have been for Australia, would no longer be allowed to be a disability and so she would be in a better position to balance her accounts with other nations. That is what we suggest for Australia. We say that Australia should have its own Commonwealth shipping line or, if this is not possible, it should subsidise a shipping line that is based within Australia and is Australian owned. We say that we should establish an insurance company to insure goods going abroad so that vast sums of millions of dollars will not go overseas every year in the payment of insurance.
– Let us have a Socialist state; that is all the honourable member is saying.
– The honourable member for Mallee is a member of the Country Party. There are two parties on the Government side of this Parliament: The Liberal Party, which stands for private enterprise, and the Country Party, which is an opportunist party. In opposition is the Labor Party which stands for socialistic enterprises and the socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange. The Country Party wants the best of two worlds. It has been said that it wants to socialise the losses of the primary producers of this country by subsidies. It also wants capitalism in other directions. It is an opportunist party; that is all it is. It is bereft of all political principle. It has no ideas or ideologies worth having. That is why its members are in the coalition Government. They will bend and they will sacrifice in order to gain some practical advantage for themselves. They have no ideology; they have no principles. They ave opportunists pure and simple. I know that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, in your wisdom, will agree with me.
Let me conclude on this note: The statements that I have put before the House tonight are the statements of an organisation which is representative of vast business interests in this country and which is not a socialistic organisation. The Australian Industries Development Association has nothing whatsoever to do with Socialism. Its aim is to promote the development of Australian industries. It is not prepared to see, for temporary expedient, the welfare of the people of today and the future of this nation sacrificed to the interests of any other nation.
– It is indicative of the way that this Parliament is conducted that at this stage we are discussing the disbursement of millions of dollars over the whole field of government administration and we have the contribution of a crushing silence from our friends opposite. They have nothing to say about education, Papua and New Guinea, defence, foreign policy, Aboriginal welfare, civil rights or anything else in the book. There is not a sound from them, I suppose because if they were to speak on any of these subjects and make any objective evaluation of the situation they would only have to be critical.
I wish to mention three or four fields of endeavour in which I believe the Government is singularly remiss. I take up the theme of my friend from Scullin (Mr Peters) for a few moments. He mentioned the motor car industry in Australia. One of the reasons why that industry is open to censure is the recent production by one of the largest manufacturers - I think it was General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd - of a new motor car capable of 125 miles per hour. This is part of a mad project of trying to get faster motor cars on to Australian roads, so accentuating the slaughter for which I believe the people who make motor cars are principally responsible. This is an act of public irresponsibility. It is our duty to try to do something about it.
But my real reason for rising tonight is to speak on the question of Aboriginal welfare. In the Supply Bill (No. 1) the rather insignificant amount of $36,000 is appropriated for the Office of Aboriginal Affairs - $23,000, which is not very much, for salaries and payments in the nature of salary, and $13,000, which again is not very much, for administrative expenses. When I look on the opposite page of the Schedule I see: ‘Division No. 432 - Conveyance of Governor-General, Ministers of State and others by RAAF aircraft, $150,000’. Only a week or two under 12 months ago the people of Australia gave the Commonwealth Government an emphatic instruction to do something about the situation of the Aboriginal people. There was no doubt about the ultimatum that the people issued to this Government. There was an overwhelming vote in every part of Australia - in every subdivision in every electorate in every city - in favour of action. In Victoria the vote in favour of action was 93%. Over the rest of Australia it was 89% in favour of action. In recent months the Minister for Social Services and Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) has come in for a good deal of public support. He has in fact come in for public acclaim. There has even been one of those operations, a demonstration, on his behalf and in his favour. In general, I have been in favour of this. The Minister has demonstrated - at least verbally so far - an intense interest in the Aboriginal people. As far as I can determine he is concerned to see that something is done. Why at this stage, after 12 months, has there been no effective action?
I suggest that there are some fields in which there is a visible need - for instance the housing of Aboriginal people who live in degrading and depressing conditions. Noone knows what the actual statistics aTe, but I suppose that the 100,000 Aborigines would make up 25,000 to 30,000 families and anything up to 20,000 of those families would be living in miserable and degrading conditions. One has only to go into areas around Fitzroy in Melbourne, Redfern in Sydney, the south side of Brisbane and similar parts of the other capital cities to see the type of housing in which so many Aboriginals live. Along the river banks hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Australian families are shivering in miserable conditions tonight because of this neglect. One would have thought that at this stage the Government would have taken some immediate and effective action to do something about this problem. This is the most urgent and practical step that the Government could take.
It will be a little more difficult - in the education field. Over large areas we are not too sure what exactly needs to be done in the field of education. At the present moment we have five or six Aboriginals in the universities and a handful in other tertiary institutions. A number of Aboriginals are creeping through to the top echelons of our secondary school system. The greatest area of our neglect has been in secondary education of the Aboriginal people. No effective action has been taken anywhere to undertake proper research into the way this problem should be tackled. Nothing will be done effectively over large areas of Australia unless something is done about future employment. What is the use of Aboriginal children in various parts of Australia going to school unless they will have some effective employment. The Government will have to step into areas completely alien to its other fields of activities and do something effective towards economic development. Most of these people are scattered across a part of the Commonwealth where no effective employment is available to them.
The current crying need - the psychological need - of the Aboriginal people is to have some proprietorship in the land of this continent. I do not quite know the technical way in which one will tackle this but I am absolutely certain that until there is some constitutional and statutory provision to ensure that the reserves on which they live are reserves for them to live on in perpetuity, the Aboriginal people will get no satisfaction. Land to the Aboriginal is just as important as a symbol as it is as a means of production. Perhaps it is more important as a symbol. I recall that in evidence given to the Select Committee on Grievances of Yirrkala Aboriginals some 3 or 4 years ago the Reverend Mr Wells told us that the Aboriginals received what might be called spiritual refreshment from the land across which they wandered. We must do something about land. No vested interest should be protected against the needs of the Aboriginals. It is in the Northern Territory that we have absolute and unchallenged authority and it is in the Northern Territory that we have great areas of land in the hands of overseas owners. The Vestey organisation owns 17, 18 or 19 stations and some, such as Wave Hill, are very large. As soon as the Minister raised this question of giving Aboriginals some proprietorship in this land the vested interests associated with the pastoral industry raised their voices in loud and long protest. They said that they had not been properly consulted. It was an interesting point, but I wonder how much consultation went on with the Aboriginal people before the land was taken in the first place. I think we should understand clearly that groups such as the Vestey organisation have received more than they have ever put into the country. I understand that Vestey’s is one of the world’s largest private companies. 1 believe that it is among the first five. It has owned shipping lines, pastoral interests and meat industries. It has been involved in just about everything that one could imagine. It seems, therefore, that that company deserves little sympathy. I am not advocating outright confiscation or anything of that nature. But we live in a comparatively wealthy nation in which we have money to burn in many fields. The Fill aircraft comes to mind as a current example. Therefore I expect some immediate action to be taken in the field to which I have referred. I am hopeful that the Minister will do something in a special way in this regard. My own view is that there should be a committee of this Parliament to keep the matter under close scrutiny and to mobilise the resources of this Parliament in the matter. There is no doubt that there are in this country very few ways of carrying out an investigation which are more effective in breaking down barriers than an inquiry by a parliamentary committee. I believe that this House and the Parliament as a whole has indicated its extreme sympathy for the cause of the Aboriginal people. It is possible to mobilise that sympathy on their behalf and to help them with their endeavours. I think the Minister might well give consideration to some continuing committee of the Parliament to bring the matter under scrutiny, to make continuous recommendations and to see what progress is being made. It is a fact that in the last 10 years in relation to Aboriginals the law in every State has been altered and the Constitution has been altered, but still the material conditions of the Aboriginal people should give us all a great deal of concern.
There are one or two other matters which I propose to bring before the House. First of all, I remind honourable members that it is now mid-May and we are meeting for only the 18th day this year. Because of this it is almost impossible to have effective consideration of anything which comes before the House. It is almost impossible to have an effective discussion on any matter. Everything is brought before the House under a great deal of pressure. As an example I mention the action of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) tonight in tabling a statement about the activities of people taking part in demonstrations in recent weeks and over the next week. This matter is brought into the House and is placed before us. There is no field of effective discussion. Nobody has the document beforehand. The Attorney-General tables some mysterious; document which can be seen down in the papers office. I suggest to honourable members that they go down to that room and read what it is that was so mysterious that it had to be tabled here and given an air of mystery. In fact, there is no mystery about it. As someone has pointed out, the document shows at the bottom that it is on sale for 10c a copy somewhere in Sydney. This is merely a standard document on how to carry out political action in any field. So far as I could see, there was nothing mysterious or subversive about it when 1 read it a while ago.
The most depressing feature of the Attorney-General’s statement, apart from what one might say is the collossal idiocy of the whole operation, the effrontery of the man and the way he went about it, is the amount of money which it costs to produce information which is so readily available, as 1 said here earlier this evening. If honourable members look at Division 433 of Supply Bill (No. 1) they will find that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation will cost, for the first 5 months of the next financial year, $1,147,000. If the kind of statement that the Attorney-General made before us tonight is a product of expenditure such as that $1,147,000, it is a scandalous waste of public money. Nearly all of the information contained in the Attorney-General’s statement could have been discovered by making three or four telephone calls. But this, of course, is part of the gimmickery of the situation. We have created this air of mystery about it all. We have built up to larger than life size the Communist Party of Australia which could hold most of its meetings in public telephone boxes because it is so fragmented and now so small in membership. In this Commonwealth it is an area of political nonsense which does no credit to the maturity of this nation.
This is one of the most homogeneous, loyal and stable nations on earth. Yet we go through all this nonsense which is a piece of political gimmickry. This always staggers me. But the misfortune of it is that it causes great hardship and injustice to a large number of people. In recent times I have met, as other honourable members must have met, a number of people who have been refused naturalisation because they are or have been Communists or because it is alleged that they are Communists. I think that this is a disgrace to Australian democracy. This country has had a proud record in the establishment of traditional, democratic forms. After all, this is the country of the Eureka Stockade and of voluntary services extending over large fields in peace and war. It is basically a loyal community which has never had a traitor. This is the standard that we want to perpetuate. We want to show the world that there is one free society and one place where freedom and the right to associate politically with whomsoever one wants prevail - a country where freedom of speech and freedom of association are precious and traditional attitudes. It is part of the tragedy of the last 20 years that this Government and the political parties that comprise it have continuously trespassed upon these attitudes.
I believe, from my observations, that a large number of honourable members opposite have now let these attitudes recede into the background of political gimmickry. It is time that some honourable members opposite realised that they have a duty to the future just as they have an inheritance from the past. Part of that inheritance is the right of freedom of association, freedom of speech and freedom of political action. This is the very essence of the Australian democracy which I hope we are setting up as a standard for the world but which for so many years has been prejudiced by this kind of nonsense. 1 come to the conduct of the Parliament itself. I believe that we are abdicating a lot of our public responsibilities by allowing the Parliament to proceed in this manner, by having so few people discuss this matter at this hour and by so little time being granted for this discussion. None of us gets any pleasure from standing up at this hour of the night talking about matters of public interest. It is no great pleasure to anybody to spend three days of the week pursuing the clock towards midnight and then engaging in some other pursuit over the weekend before returning here. It is a remarkable production of the airline system and everything else that we still continue in this eccentric way. I do not even know how we can get around it. It is terribly difficult for honourable members opposite to break the traditional attitudes of their parties, just as it is for members of my party. As far as I can determine the position there is a possibility of more democratic decisions and more majority decisions from our side of the House than from the other side. But I ask my friends opposite: What are we going to do to make this Parliament more an instrument of discussion and less an instrument to rubber stamp executive decisions?
– Stop talking.
– The honourable member says: . ‘Stop talking and we will get around to discussion’. 1 suppose that is one way whereby the honourable member can go into some sort of philosophical meditation on the wonders of the Australian Country Party. I know it is part of his political gimmickry to try to stop honourable members from talking. Well, he will be uphill if he thinks he can get away with that in this community, even with humble Socialist souls like me who do not like to offend him or to keep him out of bed at night. But our meeting times, the length of our meeting, the machinery of discussion and the way in which we conduct discussions - indeed the whole apparatus - are falling behind the needs of the community. It is time we did something about the matter. When are we to have a proper discussion on defence and foreign policy? When is the Parliament to be allowed to discuss these matters? When are we going to face up to the fact that we are living in a completely new world but are using the patterns of the past to dominate our thinking?
When are we to have an effective discussion of our role in Vietnam. When will the Minister come into the House and say exactly why Australian troops are being employed in Bien Hoa instead of being retained in Nui Dat in South Vietnam. How will he explain this to the Parliament and when will he give us the chance to have an effective discussion of what 1 regard as being a highly responsible operation in which Australian troops are now committed in Vietnam? Over the last 6 to 8 weeks our troops have been sent into new areas where they can contribute nothing but sacrifice. At this stage we ought to be bending all our efforts to preserve young Australian lives. There is no justification whatsoever for placing any of our young men in Vietnam in further danger. At this time, when efforts are being made towards peace, the recent use of Australian troops in Vietnam is an abdication of our responsibility, it is irresponsible to the point of being culpable and criminal. All that we can demand of these young men at this moment is sacrifice: They can produce no military decision. They can have no effective influence upon the course of events. J wish that honourable members opposite, who I know are humane and decent in their general dealings with people, could see the situation in its proper perspective. As the years roll by and we turn back to those last few years there will be a great deal of wonderment in Australia about how it all happened, as to how we allowed ourselves to be trapped into adopting the patterns of the past in Vietnam and in relation to our foreign policy, and about how we neglected the great opportunities which are open to this country at a time when we have passed a watershed of history and when, for the first time, military power will not be influential. But a stable, prosperous and forward looking society can have great influence on the world’s future. My great regret is that at this stage of history Australia has departed from what I think its proper role in this part of the world should be.
I make a final plea to honourable members opposite to do something about the conduct of the Parliament. The answer lies in the Party rooms of honourable members opposite if they have the wit and the will to take hold of the twenty-five people who are maladministering the country’s departmental affairs.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Sinclair) read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Orders of the Day Nos 2, 3 and 4 for the resumption of the debate on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1967-68. the Supply Bill (No. 1) 1968-69 and the Supply Bill (No. 2) 1968-69 being called on and read together and a motion being moved that the Bills be now passed.
Consideration resumed from 7th May (vide pages 1119 and 1120), on motions by Mr McMahon:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
Bills (on motion by Mr Sinclair) passed.
Death of the Honourable Victor Charles Thompson
– I move:
It is not the practice of the House to carry condolence motions in respect of all former members of the House, but on behalf of the Australian Country Party 1 would like to place on record the service to the Parliament and to the people of Australia of the Honourable Victor Charles Thompson, who died in Sydney last Saturday. In 1922 Victor Charles Thompson was elected to the House of Representatives as Country Party member for the electorate of New England and he was a member for 1 8 years. From 1926 to 1927 he was a member of the Joint Select Committee on Commonwealth Electoral Law and Procedure. From 1929 to 1930 he was Chairman of the Select Committee on the Tobacco Industry. From March 1932 to August 1934 he was a temporary chairman of committees. From
November 1934 to November 1937 he was Country Party Whip. From 1937 to 1938 he was Minister without portfolio assisting the Treasurer and Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation in this House. Subsequently he was Assistant Minister for the Interior and Assistant Minister for Commerce. Throughout his life the Honourable Victor Thompson served the people of Australia, and the people of rural Australia in particular, to the full extent of his capabilities. He was a founder of the Northern New State Movement and one of its principal driving forces even into the last few years of his life. He had a lifelong interest in journalism, having been actively associated with country newspapers in north western New South Wales for over 50 years. He joined the ‘Northern Daily Leader’ in January 1911, after having been a reporter at Narrabri, on the ‘Tweed Daily’, and on the ‘Albury Daily’. After a few months as senior reporter on the ‘Northern Daily Leader’ he was appointed editor, a position he held until the early 1950s. At the time of his death, Mr Thompson was still a director of the ‘Northern Daily Leader’ and was also the editorial writer for that paper. I am told that as an editorial writer he was regarded as having few equals in Australian journalism. Many journalists who trained under him have achieved top status. Throughout my part of New South Wales he was held in particularly high regard, and his journalistic work, I understand, was held in equally high regard by all those people with whom he came into contact. He is survived by one daughter, and to his family and to all of his friends and associates throughout the New England district his death will be a tragic loss.
I should like to place on the record of this House my own personal regard and respect for this pioneer of the Australian Country Party who served Australia so well and ably during his term of office here.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.51 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions’ are as follows:
2 and 3. Commonwealth Railways have agreements to transport the following quantities of iron ore to Darwin.
4 and 5. Up-grading of the 135 mile section of the North Australia Railway between Darwin and Pine Creek has been necessary and is largely completed. The estimated cost of repairs to this section will lie in. the vicinity of $5,000,000 and this amount will be borne by Commonwealth Railways. The spur line from Pine Creek to :he Frances Creek deposits is privately owned and its maintenance is not the responsibility of Com’monwealth Railways.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Will he take steps to prove or disprove to the House the reported statement (Question No. 91, Hansard, page 786) of a photographer who spent a year with our troops in action thai it is regarded by our troops as ‘politically wrong’ for an Australian to interfere with torture of alleged Vietcong captives by allied troops in the presence of Austraiian captors?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Arrangements are in force designed to ensure that prisoners captured by Australians are properly treated at all times. The procedures under which prisoners are transferred to prisoner of war camps under the control of allied troops are set out in instructions lo the forces and accord with the Geneva conventions for the protection of war victims. They provide for the transfer to luke place in an orderly and responsible fashion.
After the transfer of the prisoners, the camps and each prisoner captured by Australians arc subject to an inspection by an Australian Army officer each month and to periodical inspections by the internation :11 Red Cross.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I have received the list of names referred lo by the honourable member. I do nol propose to make the names public. But in the case of each State, in accordance with the usual practice, there was a number of names submitted, and, in respect of those from whom the third commissioner was to be selected, in no case was the number less than three.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
What are the names of the authorities whose accounts have been fully analysed and which arc classified as semi-government authorities for national accounts purposes (Hansard, 24 October 1967, page 2204)?
– The State authorities whose accounts have been separately analysed and which are classified as semigovernmental authorities for national accounts purposes are listed below for each State.
Board of Fire Commissioners of New South Wales.
Broken Hill Water Board.
Electricity Commission of New South Wales.
Grain Elevators Board of New South Wales.
Housing Commission of New South Wales.
Hunter District Water Board.
Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board.
Rural Bank of New South Wales (Government Agency Department).
Ballarat Sewerage Authority.
Ballarat Water Commissioners.
Country Fire Authority.
Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria.
Geelong Harbor Trust.
Grain Elevators Board.
Housing Commission of Victoria.
Melbourne Harbor Trust.
Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works.
Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board.
Metropolitan Fire Brigades Board.
Portland Harbor Trust.
Rural Finance and Settlement Commission.
State Electricity Commission of Victoria.
Victorian Inland Meat Authority.
Northern Electric Authority of Queensland.
Queensland Fire Brigades Boards.
Queensland Harbour Boards.
Queensland Housing Commission.
Queensland Hospitals Boards (Loan Funds).
Regional Electricity Boards:
Cairns Regional Electricity Board.
Capricornia Regional Electricity Board.
Mackay Regional Electricity Board.
Townsville Regional Electricity Board.
Wide-Bay-Burnett Regional Electricity Board.
Southern Electric Authority of Queensland.
Sugar Experiment Stations Board.
Electricity Trust of South Australia.
Fire Brigades Board.
Leigh Creek Coal Fund.
Municipal Tramways Trust.
Radium Hill Project.
South Australian Housing Trust.
Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and
State Electricity Commission of Western Australia.
State Housing Commission.
Western Australia Fire Brigades Board.
Closer Settlement Act 1957.
Closer Settlement Act 1957 (Soldiers’ Account).
Flood Relief Act 1960.
Homes Act 1935.
Prescribed Authority (Commonwealth) ReEstablishment and Employment Act.
Primary Producers’ Relief Act 1947.
Primary Producers’ Relief Act 1960.
Primary Producers’ Relief Act 1962.
State Advances Act 1935.
State Advances (Rural Credits) Act 1935.
War Service Land Settlement Act 1950 (State Funds).
War Service Land Settlement Act 1950 (Commonwealth Funds).
Animals and Birds Protection Board.
Burnie Marine Board.
Circular Head Marine Board.
Devonport Marine Board.
Fire Brigades Commission.
Flinders Island Abattoir Board.
Flinders Island Marine Board.
Government Printing Office.
Hobart Marine Board.
King Island Abattoir Board.
King Island Marine Board.
Launceston Marine Board.
Metropolitan Transport Trust.
Metropolitan Water Board.
North Esk Regional Water Supply.
Prosser River Water Supply.
Smithton Harbour Trust.
State Sinking Fund Commissioners’.
Strahan Marine Board.
Tasmanian Government Insurance Office
Tasmanian Grain Elevators Board.
Tasmanian Racing Commission.
West Tamar Water Supply.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs upon notice:
Mr Hasluck: The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The Commission on the Status of Women,
Having studied the report of the Special Rapporteur on slavery* as requested by the Economic and Social Council in resolution 1232 (XLII) which asks the Commission ‘to study the report of the Special Rapporteur on slavery and to formulate specific proposals for immediate and effective measures which the United Nations could adopt to eradicate all forms and practices of slavery and the slave trade affecting the status of women’,
Noting the report of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities at its twentieth session and its recommendations for the eradication of slavery.
Being unalterably opposed to the institution of slavery in all its manifestations.
Believing that the community of nations, and particularly all States Members of the United Nations and the specialised . agencies should take immediate and effective measures to eradicate this pernicious violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Believing further that the precepts set forth in the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women apply equally to all women without regard to social status,
United Nations publication, Sales No.: 67. xiv.2
Hoping that in the year 1968, the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, effective action will be taken to rid the world of the scourge of slavery,
Requests the Economic and Social Council to adopt the following resolution:
The Economic and Social Council,
Having considered the report of the Commission on the Status of Women at its twenty-first session, and particularly that part dealing with slavery,
Being concerned that slavery still exists in many places of the world,
Requests the Secretary-General:
Expresses thanks to those non-governmental organisations which have determinedly and consistently fought against the demeaning institution of slavery and all its manifestations, and requests them to pursue with more and renewed vigour their efforts to eradicate this practice;
The Commission on the Status of Women:
Having studied the report of the Special Rapporteur on Slavery as requested by the Economic and Social Council in resolution 1232 (XL1I) which asks the Commission ‘to study the report of the Special Rapporteur on Slavery and to formulate specific proposals for immediate and effective measures which the United Nations could adopt to eradicate all forms and practices of slavery and the slave trade affecting the status of women’.
Noting the report of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities at its twentieth session and its recommendations for eradicating slavery, including the slavery-like practices of apartheid and colonialism.
Condemning the institution of slavery and the slavery-like practices of apartheid and colonialism in all their manifestations.
Believing that the community of nations, and particularly ail States Members of the United Nations and of the specialised agencies, should take immediate and effective measures to eradicate these pernicious violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Noting that the question of slavery and the slave trade in all their practices and manifestations, including the slavery-like practices of apartheid and colonialism has been included on the provisional agenda for the International Conference on Human Rights - to be held in Teheran, Iran, in 1968, 68-03201.
Expressing the hope that the above-mentioned Conference will achieve meaningful results in this respect.
The Economic and Social Council,
Concerned that the report of the Special Rapporteur indicates that slavery and the slave trade and similar institutions and practices still exist in many parts of the world and that women especially are among the victims of such institutions and practices;
Notes with satisfaction the recommendations of the Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities in resolution 4 (XX), and requests the SecretaryGeneral:
Requests al) States Members’ of the United Nations and of the specialised agencies to give protection to all persons escaping from slavery and the slavery-like practices of apartheid and colonialism in any of their ‘ forms and for the receiving States to submit ‘ a report to the Secretary-General.
In favour: Botswana, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Chile, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Finland, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Arab Republic, United States of America. Against: Australia, France, Netherlands, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Abstaining: Japan.
In favour: Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Chile, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Finland, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Arab Republic, United States of America.
Abstaining: Australia, Botswana, France, Netherlands, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Republic, Chile, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Finland, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Liberia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United “ Arab Republic, United States of America.
Abstaining: Australia, Botswana, France, Netherlands, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
In favour: Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Chile, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Liberia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Spain, Turkey, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Arab Republic, United States of America.
Abstaining: Australia, Botswana, Poland, Tunisia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Against: Australia, Botswana, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Abstaining: Dominican Republic, France, Netherlands, United States of America.
In favour: Byelorussian. Soviet Socialist Republic, Guinea, Hungary, Japan, Mauritania, Poland, Tunisia, Turkey, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Arab Republic.
Against: Australia, Botswana, Dominican Republic, France, Ghana, Guatemala, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Spain, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America.
Abstaining: Chile, Cyprus, Finland, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, Madagascar, Malaysia.
The draft resolution as a whole, as amended, was adopted by 28 in favournone against-3 (Australia) abstentions.
Vietnam (Question No. 222)
asked the Minister for
External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The policies followed by the Australian Government in providing assistance to the Republic of Vietnam are in conformity with international law and are consistent with our obligations under the Charter of the United Nations. The Australian Government along with its allies is pledged to pursue every avenue which could lead to a just and enduring settlement which would guarantee the people of South Vietnam the right to choose their own future. In accordance with this undertaking it has welcomed the forthcoming preliminary contacts in Paris between North Vietnamese and United States representatives as a first step towards the attainment of such a settlement.
er asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourmember’s questions are as follows:
No. 5. (a) six
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 May 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19680514_reps_26_hor59/>.