26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr HANSEN presented a petition from certain citizens of Queensland praying that this House will make a survey of the full requirements of pensioners of all types and adopt a policy for the progressive liberalisation of the means test resulting in its removal within three years.
Mr GRIFFITHS 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.
-I desire to direct the attention of honourable members to the presence in the gallery of an Indonesian delegation of six representatives led by Major-General Doctor Thajeb, VicePresident of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Indonesia. The delegation is visiting Australia at the invitation of the Presiding Officers of this Parliament. On behalf of all honourable members I extend to our visitors a warm welcome.
– Will the Prime Minister say by whose authority and for what reason Australian troops have been transferred from Nui Dat to the Bien Hoa province where serious losses have been sustained? Will the Prime Minister say under whose command were the Australian forces in Bien Hoa, what was achieved by this action, and what will be the future role and command of Australian forces in Vietnam?
– The Australian forces since they first arrived in Vietnam have had certain areas of operation in which they were to serve. This involved particular descriptions of areas which, at the moment, I cannot call to mind and give to the honourable member. But I remember on previous occasions questions being raised by people who think as the honourable member thinks when, in fact, Australian troops were operating inside the areas for which their services were made available. On the particular question raised, I think it would be as well if the Minister for the Army were to add to what I have said.
– The general situation is simply that whilst primarily the tactical area of responsibility for the Australian Task Force is geographically one-third of the province of Phuoc Tuy, it has always been understood that the Task Force was available for deployment anywhere in the III Corps Zone and also in Binh Thuan in the neighbouring II Corps zone. The honourable member has referred to the fact that we are currently operating in Bien Hoa. This is not the first time the Task Force has been operative in Bien Hoa. It is not the first time the Task Force has been out of its tactical area of responsibility. In fact, I recall some three earlier occasions on which we have been operative outside Phuoc Tuy. The situation under which we are operative is entirely a matter of the operational requirements of the area. These are matters for discussion and decision between the commander of the Task Force and the senior United States military commander in the area concerned. All I can say with regard to the forward pattern is that as far as we are concerned it is a situation of business as usual. Our troops are there doing a very fine job. Their morale is extremely high.
– Answer my question.
-Order! The honourable member for Reid has already asked bis question.
– What about-
Mr SPEAKER -Order!The honourable member will cease interjecting.
– It is about time the Minister answered my question.
-Order! I warn the honourable member for Reid.
– As far as we are concerned, it is business as usual. Our troops are in fine trim and good spirit. Their morale is high. We are pressing on to seek to conquer the aggression to which we are opposed in that part of the world.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question regarding Australia’s relations with Great Britain and the British Commonwealth. Have Australian troops fought alongside British troops in three wars, two of which were for Britain’s survival? Has Britain had maximum advantage from her trading relations with Australia? Are Australian troops now in Vietnam fighting for Australia’s survival at a time when Great Britain is pulling out of Asia? If so, is the majority sentiment in Australia nevertheless one of maximum cooperation with Great Britain? If it is, does the Prime Minister support a move made last Saturday at a conference with which I was associated to have the Union Jack removed from the Australian flag and further to have the Southern Cross placed on the Union Jack?
– It is perfectly true that Australian troops have fought in at least three wars - rather more than three I think - side by side with Great Britain’s troops, not only for the survival of Great Britain but also for the survival of freedom in the world and the right of people to choose their own form of government. Indeed, one has only to walk not far from this Parliament House to see engraved in letters of bronze on the walls of the Australian War Memorial that which Australia has done to advance this concept. It is also true - I think I should point this out - that for close to 200 years Australia has existed very largely under the protection of Great Britain and that what has been done has been by no means one-sided. I have not had the benefit of reading the motion presented to the conference to which the honourable member has referred but speaking for myself I feel that the Australian flag, as it stands, is a flag which is covered with sufficient honour for it- to remain the way it is.
– 1 ask the Prime Minister a question. I point out that it is now well over 6 months since the right honourable gentleman’s predecessor announced the establishment of the Australian Council for the Arts but that so far only the Chairman, Dr Coombs, has been appointed to the Council. How much longer does the Prime Minister expect it to be before the full Council can be appointed and its operations commence?
– The answer is: Not much longer.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. I recognise that the honourable gentleman has no direct control over the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Nevertheless,, will he investigate the allegation that the ABC is the only, news media in Australia to require its reporters to have their reports of Australian Labor Party meetings which they attend in Western Australia checked and cleared by officers of the Western Australian Executive of the Party prior to broadcast? After his investigation, will he report to the House so that honourable members can make up their minds as to whether or not this is a form of political censorship?
– I shall have a look at the question asked by the honourable member and consult with him.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service by stating that a substantial sector of my electorate, namely, Elizabeth, is approximately 20 miles from Adelaide. Residents of Elizabeth receiving unemployment benefit are required to travel this distance at their own expense on all occasions when they seek employment in Adelaide. In view of the inadequate unemployment benefit, will the Minister consider issuing travel vouchers to residents of Elizabeth who, at the direction of officials of the Department of Labour and National Service, seek employment in Adelaide?
– Now that the honourable has brought this matter to my attention, I will make a detailed investigation of the physical arrangements in this area and form my own conclusions. In due course, I will let the honourable member know whether anything different can be done in the future.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Who appoints the members of committees of review for migrant hostels? If the Minister is responsible for such appointments, will he give consideration to the appointment of suitable women to such committees?
– Committees of review are appointed by the Minister for Labour and National Service. Two of these committees have been in operation for about 2 years and on each is a lady member. My intention is to appoint a suitable lady to the South Australian committee once it is functioning.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether his notice has been drawn to a report on the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s news this morning to the effect that the National Liberation Front had taken the unprecedented step of calling a Press conference in Moscow to deny emphatically that it had been responsible for the recent killing of four Australian pressmen near Saigon and to assert that the deaths were due to actions of the Saigon Government.
Government supporters - Oh!
– Will the Prime Minister have inquiries made to ascertain whether this report is correct?
– I think this is a rather odd question. Let us examine and analyse the implications. Here is an admitted National Liberation Front armed Communist insurgent movement - I believe all members of the House will agree that this is so - calling a Press conference in Moscow which is the capital of the largest Communist country in the world.
– China has left the camp has it?
– I do not- want to get mixed up in arguments between Chinese Communists and Russian Communists. Russia is one of the largest Communist countries in the world. It is suggested that the Government should make an inquiry to see whether statements made at a Press conference held in Moscow by an armed Communist insurgent front are truthful or not truthful, when the reports which have been received here and throughout the world were certainly not from any source aligned against that front, but were from a Press coverage in Vietnam which, if anything, very largely does not support as much as it might the efforts of Australians and others in that area. The short answer to the honourable member’s question is no.
– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Trade. Is he aware of a report that a New South Wales butcher has been advertising for sale New Zealand lamb exclusively? Is he also aware that it has been alleged that a Victorian wholesale butcher is similarly advertising for sale New Zealand lamb exclusively?’ As these reports are causing concern amongst fat lamb breeders, can the Minister tell us the actual position with regard to the importation of New Zealand lamb?
– It is true, as the honourable member has suggested, that a number of butchers throughout Australia have in recent months been advertising New Zealand lamb for sale. There are various reasons why New Zealand lamb has been imported. Not the least pf . them is that because of the drought the standard and quality of Australian Iamb has probably declined. Now, of course, as a result of the recent’ rains it is likely that the supply of lambs to the abattoirs, and consequently to the butchers, will be reduced. But I think it is important to realise that, there are only relatively small numbers of lamb carcasses doming into Australia under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. I am told that iri 1967 a total of 121 tons came here. In the first 3 month’s of this year I think about 62 tons have been imported. When these amounts are related to the total average annual production of 220,000 tons it can be seen that the relative importance of the current sales of New Zealand lamb’ by Australian butchers can well be overestimated. At the same time I assure’ the honourable member that there are safeguard provisions within the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement which can be implemented if it can be demonstrated that an Australian industry is adversely affected as a result of the importation into Australia of a particular New Zealand product which comes within the terms of the Agreement, as in fact New Zealand lamb does. But I think that basically the situation at this stage does not require the implementation of these protective provisions.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether subsidies are paid to New South Wales airlines. Does the Government take into consideration the profits made on lucrative services as a set-off against losses incurred on non-paying services? If this practice is followed, how does the Government obtain the necessary information in the case of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd if that organisation does not keep separate accounts for its airline and other activities?
– The policy of payment of subsidies is applied to essential- developmental and rural services, and for some years now allocations have been made in our annual budgets to cover these subsidies. We pay subsidies to a number of airlines operating in the various States. In New South Wales they are paid to Airlines of New South Wales Pty Ltd and East-West Airlines Ltd. We have a fairly involved type of formula for working out the method of payment and the amounts to be allocated to each airline. Airlines of New South Wales is a subsidiary company of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd, and we have complete access to all Ansett Transport Industries records. We know exactly the figures relating to all the routes operated by that company. The formula which we apply to Airlines of New South Wales is the same as that which we apply to the Ansett Transport Industries company in Queensland, to MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd in Western Australia and to other airlines that receive the subsidy. I can give a definite assurance that we have complete access not only to the records of Airlines of New South Wales but also at present to the whole of the financial records of ATI throughout Australia.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Health. I remind him that a little more than 12 months ago I asked him a question about the increasing prevalence of venereal disease in Australia. I asked him to have the situation examined with a view to ascertaining whether it would be desirable to have this disease treated as a national rather than as a State problem, as has been successfully done with tuberculosis. I ask the Minister whether he has made any progress in this matter.
– When the honourable gentleman last asked me his question I said that I believed the appropriate body to consider the matter was the National Health and Medical Research Council and I undertook to refer it to the Council. I did that. The matter went to the Public Health Advisory Committee in October of last year. That Committee considered it and decided to await a report by the New South Wales representative, who is also Chairman of the Australian Medical Association’s Federal Co-ordinating Committee on Venereal Disease in Australia. The Public Health Advisory Committee intends to consider the matter at its next meeting on the 27th or 28th of this month, when it expects to have the report before it. When the Committee has met I will be in a position to give the honourable gentleman further details.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. By what set of values did the Government, in its first news release about action in Vietnam, refer to the loss of eleven Australians who were killed in action as light casualties and so give the impression in the first news release of brushing this off? How can we believe anything that the Government says about the war in Vietnam when it takes what appear to be such deliberate steps to mislead the Australian public? Will the Prime Minister consider sending Young Liberals of military age to take their place in Vietnam instead of sacrificing other young Australians in this irresponsible operation?
-Order! That is a matter of policy and that part of the honourable member’s question is out of order.
– I withdraw any reference to those Young Liberals of this House-
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I will reply to that portion of the question which you, Mr Speaker, have ruled to be in order, lt is quite impossible for me to understand, and I believe it would be impossible for the people of this nation to understand, how a casualty list, which has been published as this has been, with the figures given as they have been given, can be described as misleading the Australian people.
– You said they were light casualties.
-Order! I warn the honourable member for Wills. He has been continually interjecting during question time.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Yesterday, when replying to a question which suggested the payment of a reward for information identifying those responsible for the damaging or destruction of public telephones, the Minister stated that the people should always be willing and alert to protect public property without the inducement of a reward. Does he think that this is sufficient in the existing circumstances? In view of the serious drift in juvenile delinquency and the obvious lawlessness of many people, will the Minister reconsider the question of a reward and will he at the same time consult with his colleague, the Attorney-General, so that heavy penalties, which may act as a deterrent, may be imposed on those responsible?
– I would be quite happy to review this matter, which was referred to in the Parliament yesterday. Nevertheless I must say that I cannot quite understand the attitude of the Australian public if it is necessary at all times to provide a reward for information that would help to prevent lawlessness. It is a matter of protecting assets owned not by the Post Office or the
Government but by the people themselves. Honourable members will appreciate that the Post and Telegraph Act provides for minimum and maximum penalties but that the actual penalty is determined by the courts. Honourable members may have varying views on whether the minimum or the maximum penalty is sufficient. This matter can be reviewed upon representation. I should be happy to consult with the Attorney-General in relation to this matter but in addition to the penalties provided under the Post and Telegraph Act we have the application of the Crimes Act. I must mention that as most of these incidents occur within the States and apprehensions are by State police officers, action is usually taken under the State law rather than under Commonwealth law as this appears to expedite I he hearing of the. case. In addition, many of these crimes unfortunately are committed by juveniles who are dealt with in the Children’s Court rather than in the other courts.
– 1 ask the Minister for the Interior whether, before the House rises for the winter recess, the commissioners who are drawing up’ the electoral boundaries for the various States will have their drawings ready for exhibition for the required 28 days. If not, will the Minister give the approximate date when he expects the new boundaries to be available for public inspection?
– I cannot say exactly when the commissioners will have the maps available in the post offices for public exhibition. The commissioners certainly will not have the opportunity to exhibit the maps before the Parliament goes into recess for the winter, but I expect this will be done some time between the middle of July and the middle of August. 1 can offer only that broad time-table until the Chief Electoral Officer can give me better information when the commissioners get closer to finalising the position.
– 1 ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether, as the present Commonwealth Aid Roads Act is due to expire on 30th June 1969, consideration is being given to renewing the legislation for a further 5 years. Does the Minister know that the method of providing a definite amount for 5 years was adopted so that road building and maintenance could be planned for at least 12 months ahead by the authorities that receive grants under the Act? Is the Minister aware that an early announcement about the future of the legislation is highly desirable?
– It is true that the current Commonwealth Aids Road Agreement will expire on 30th June 1969. Because it is due to expire at this time the Australian Bureau of Roads, in association with the National Association of State Roads Authorities, has been pursuing an investigation into road needs throughout Australia. It is a little early to lay down the nature of the next extended period of operation of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement, butI well understand the concern that the honourable member has for the substance of the agreement and consequentlyI shall have the point of view that he has expressed examined by the Government during its consideration of future policy on Commonwealth aid for roads.
– I ask the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry whether his attention has been invited to a statement last week by a leading Tasmanian sawmiller to the effect that the reduction of tariff on imported New Zealand timber was killing the Tasmanian timber industry and that many Tasmanian timber concerns were just managing to keep their heads above water but could not hold out much longer. Is the Minister aware that the Tasmanian exporters suffer most because the New Zealand undressed indigenous timbers are now undercutting our products in Tasmania’s traditional markets in Victoria where they are used for the same purposes as our timbers? Is he aware also that New Zealanders anticipate increased salesin Australia worth $lm per annum now that the duties have been lifted? Finally, will the Government take action now under the provisions of the
New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement to protect the Tasmanian sawmilling industry before irreparable damage is done to this important industry and, consequently, to the economy of Tasmania?
– It is true that as a result of recent talks between the New Zealand and Australian Governments the continuing duty on the entry into Australia of undressed timber has been removed. Prior to this change being implemented an examination was made of the circumstances of the Australian timber industry and the demand in Australia, and an overall assessment was made of the importance in the future of developing closer links with New Zealand. I can well appreciate the honourable member’s concern for that part of the industry which, producing in Tasmania, as it does, timber which is similar in nature to that which can now be imported from New Zealand, can be said to be competitive with the New Zealand industry, but at the same time I assure him that the whole situation of the Australian industry was examined closely. There are available within the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement devices which enable a position such as that to which he has referred to be examined to ascertain whether a situation which is currently considered to be disastrous to an industry will continue to be so. I point out to the honourable member that the whole purpose of the Trade Agreement is to try to ensure that there will be expanded opportunities, not only for New Zealand producers but also for Australian producers, so that together, by adding to the Australian population the population of New Zealand we thereby provide greater market opportunities for producers in each country to sell in the other country. The honourable member can be assured that the concern which he has expressed on behalf of the sawmillers in Tasmania has not gone unnoticed. However, at this stage, although there is concern,I do not believe that the situation is so critical to the industry as perhaps he has suggested.
– I address to the Minister for External Affairs a question which relates to the scope of the five-power defence meeting to be held in Kuala
Lumpur next month. I ask the right honourable gentleman: Are these talks to be restricted to a consideration of the future role, if any, of the United Kingdom in the South East Asian area or will they, heeding the desire of all countries in the South East Asian area and the growth of the influence of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in the Indian Ocean region, extend to a strategic appreciation of all the problems presented?
– These talks which are to be held in Kuala Lumpur in June will be between ministerial representatives of Malaysia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. The scope of the talks is related to the situation brought about by the new defence policy of the United Kingdom east of Suez. Although undoubtedly each of the participants may have broad strategical considerations in mind, I would not imagine that during the course of the talks it will be the business of the representatives to embark on a fivepower assessment of the strategical situation. Rather, the purpose of the talks will be to exchange views on the situation that has been created by the declaration of British policy, to exchange views on the continuing contribution that will be made for the defence of the countries concerned and for the security of the region in which the participating nations are interested. I hope that outline gives a broad indication of the scope of the talks, which, I do not think, will go so far as the honourable member’s question seems to suggest.
– I address my question to the Minister for Education and Science. I ask: Was the Australian College of Education told yesterday that there is a conspiracy of mediocrity in the training of secondary school teachers and that teacher training should not be in the hands of the employing authority? Did the report of the Martin Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia recommend that teacher training should be removed from the control of State Departments of Education and vested in independent boards of teacher education? In the view of that Committee, was this reform basic to the welfare of teacher training? Why did the Government fail to make its S24m grant for the building and equipment of new teacher colleges conditional upon the establishment of boards of teacher education? Does not the Government, through this omission, carry a heavy share of responsibility for the current state of teacher training?
– If the Government had at that time tried to impose conditions of the kind that the honourable member has indicated I have no doubt that, since they could have involved substantial changes within State policy, they might well have caused a very considerable delay in the Government coming to agreement with the States. One of the prime objectives of this grant is to have new colleges built and better facilities provided for the training of teachers. I believe that the unmatched grant of $24m that is being made available by the Commonwealth represents a substantial contribution towards that objective. Although one or two of the States are discussing the possibility of following the recommendations of the Martin Committee to some extent, I can only reiterate that this is a matter which is within the power of the States and upon which they, knowing their own conditions and situations, will make their decisions.
– I ask the Minister for National Development whether there’ is any intention on the part of the Government to remove the headquarters of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority from Cooma within the foreseeable future?
– The Government has not considered the matter to which the honourable gentleman referred. At the present moment work is. proceeding in the Snowy Mountains area at a high rate. I imagine that while this continues the headquarters of the Authority will remain where they are at present.
– I ask the Leader of the House a ‘ question concerning the National Service Bill 1968, which is the first order of the day and which, from the business sheet, appears to be the only matter for debate today. During question time the honourable gentleman will have received, as have all honourable members, a list of seven amendments to this Bill in the name of the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask: Is it still proposed to proceed at such short notice with the debate on a Bill which is to be considerably altered from the form in which it was presented in this House 14 days ago? Would it not be better for the House to proceed with other matters on the notice paper, amendments of which, as far as we know, are not contemplated so far?
– Mr Speaker,- the honourable gentleman has said that the Bill is to be considerably amended; that there are seven proposed amendments. I have just read the first amendment and I find that it deals with one portion of one clause of a Bill which, from recollection, contains something like 30 clauses. A quick examination of amendments 2 to 7 indicates that the first is the main amendment and the others are consequential. There are, in effect, two amendments. Let me draw attention to the amendments without at this stage anticipating the debate on the Bill. The fact is that the Bill is not to be considerably amended. It is to be amended to the extent that the Minister wishes to meet points about which he has been satisfied. The major substance of the Bill remains unaltered. It ought to be proceeded with because it is a matter of high policy. The Bill will be proceeded with today in accordance with the blue sheet and the Notice Paper.
– My question, directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, is supplementary to the one posed by the honourable member for Mallee in relation to the termination of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement. Will the Minister draw the attention of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads to the urgent heed for an adequate unsealed road link between Port Augusta and Alice Springs, with the object of providing finance to the South Australian Government to assist in the construction of this road?
– I well appreciate the concern of the honourable member for Grey and also the honourable member for the Northern Territory in relation to this particular road link which . comes so close to their areas of responsibility. However, I can assure the honourable member that the matter is not one which comes principally within the responsibility of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. It will be taken into account during consideration by the Government of assistance, to the States in the next quinquennial period. -
– As the Minister for Civil Aviation, knows, there was a disastrous air accident in the Northern Territory recently in which a number of young men lost their lives.. Are people who travel in aeroplanes, under the conditions in which those young men travelled, covered by third party insurance of any description or do their dependants - and in this case there were a number - receive any compensation whatsoever?
– Recently my Department printed a report covering this unfortunate accident in the Northern Territory. Yesterday I read in the Press some comments following th’e coroner’s court hearing into the case. The question of compensation is a matter outside the particular reports which have been published already. Compensation is payable under certain conditions to personnel who travel on regular public transport - that is transport operated by airlines - and there is a form of cover taken out by the commercial airlines, which is paid, under certain circumstances, where death or injury is sustained. In the case of people travelling on charter flights or flying privately, it is up to the charter operator or the private individual who is operating the aircraft to take out any form of cover that they so desire. Many forms of cover are available through a variety of insurance organisations and, indeed, are used very widely by people who fly privately and charter operators. In the case of this particular aircraft accident in the Northern Territory, I do not know whether any personnel who were flying were covered by any form of insurance or whether the operator of the aircraft had any form of cover taken out in relation to the passengers. However, in view of the question having been raised, although it is not a matter which comes within the jurisdiction of my Department, I will obtain some information for the honourable member and let him know the position.
– I ask the Postmaster-General a question about telephone booths. I understand that the Postal Department is spending nearly $500,000 a year on repairing vandalised’ telephone facilities in Victoria alone. The situation is so bad that some public telephones have been constantly out of order and have been withdrawn altogether. Will the Minister consider implementing a pilot scheme of re-locating these booths on private property where there is some degree of supervision?I have in mind a scheme whereby householders would be recompensed for the use of a small part of their allotments.
– Order! The honourable member will ask his question.
– Will the Minister consider a scheme to place telephone booths on private property so that there may be some degree of supervision?
– It has been the policy of the Post Office to place public telephones in public places so that they are available 24 hours a day to the public. There may be exceptions in isolated country areas or in relation to non-official post offices. I would be happy to look at the suggestion the honourable member has made but I feel that in some areas there would be some doubt about its value and some inconvenience to private property owners if we were to use their properties for this particular purpose.
– by leave - I table a copy of the trade agreement between Australia and Hungary, signed by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) on behalf of the Government on 5th December 1967.
As with the other agreements between Australia and some of the countries of East Europe, this agreement formally confirms the reciprocal most favoured nation tariff treatment which has, in fact, applied between the two countries in the past. In a practical sense, however, it draws the attention of both Hungarian and Australian trading establishments to the existence of each other’s markets, a factor of some significance in the context of a state trading economy such as Hungary.
Trade between Australia and Hungary, although at present not large has been increasing steadily in recent years. In 1964-65 the total trade in both directions was $2,208,000 and in 1966-67. it was $3,581,000. The Hungarian economy is expanding steadily and the potential for an increase in Australia’s trade with Hungary is real. Prospects exist in Hungary for many Australian goods, both manufactured and primary, in addition to wool, hides and skins, and ores and metals which are already . established on the market.
Practical expression to the growing trade interest between our two countries was given at the time of signing the agreement, when Australia accepted an invitation to participate in the 1968 Budapest Trade Fair. The fair is being held from 17th to 27th May and twenty-nine Australian firms are participating. Among the Australian products on display will be irrigation equipment, timber driers, radio telephones, aluminium products, specialised laboratory equipment and primary products such as canned fruit, grains and tropical products of Papua and New Guinea. In addition to Australian exporters, importers will also be represented at the Budapest Fair, and I am confident that a basis for future mutually advantageous business will be established.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966 I present the report relating to the following proposed new work:
Ordered that the report be printed.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Defence (Re-establishment) Bill 1968.
Northern Territory Representation Bill 1968.
State Grants (Science Laboratories) Bill 1968.
Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill 1968.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Nixon, and read a first time.
[3.21] - I move:
The purpose of this amendment is to give the Australian Canned Fruits Board power to borrow money from the Reserve Bank under a Commonwealth guarantee of repayment. This power is already enjoyed by certain other statutory marketing authorities.
The Australian Canned Fruits Board, under section 18(3) of the Canned Fruits Export Marketing Act 1963 already has authority to borrow under a Commonwealth guarantee but this power is restricted to the matters specified in section 18 relating to the purchase and sale of canned fruits by the Board. The Board has not exercised these powers. The amendment now proposed will widen the Board’s borrowing powers so that they will apply to the general powers and functions of the Board. The Board has an assured income from collections of excise tax on the sales of canned fruit in the domestic market. The Board could, therefore, use its anticipated income as security against any borrowing it might wish to undertake. The excise tax -receipts are received by the Board on a monthly basis, but the production of canned fruit and to a large extent the export of canned fruit are highly seasonal and the Board considers that its operations in assisting and promoting the export of canned fruits to overseas markets could be a good deal more flexible if it were given the power to borrow.
Production of canned fruit in Australia has increased rapidly in recent years and the task of disposing of more than 70% of the pack in overseas markets is becoming more difficult each year. Recent developments have convinced the Board that it is essential for it to have the power to borrow if it is to be able to meet its commitments to canners promptly. This would assist the canners to make early payments to growers for fruit delivered.
In regard to the general problem in the industry of an approaching stage of overproduction from trees already in the ground, industry leaders, both canners and growers, are working on a scheme for rationalisation of the industry. This scheme is expected to be submitted to the Government in the next few months. Until this scheme is received and considered the Government wishes the Board to be able to receive the maximum assistance from the banking system to enable it to provide the maximum assistance in promoting Australian exports abroad. The Board, before borrowing, will be required to obtain permission from the Minister for Primary Industry, whose approval must have the concurrence of the Treasurer. This arrangement is intended to ensure that any borrowings by the Board are well within the Board’s capacity to repay from its regular income.
Debate (on motion by Mr Beaton) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 1 May (vide page 1000), on motion by Mr Bury:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Opposition members oppose this Bill. We do so, firstly, because we are strongly opposed in principle to the existing national service scheme. Labor’s policy, which has been stated repeatedly in this Parliament, is opposed to conscription for Vietnam or anywhere else outside Australian territory except in time of declared war. This is the policy enunciated in the resolution adopted by the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party in Adelaide last year. Furthermore, the Opposition is opposed to the selective ballot system and we have taken every opportunity in this Parliament to condemn this unconscionable and unjust system of conscription. These are our basic policies.
I turn now to this piece of legislation, which the Opposition considers is unnecessarily harsh. In opening the Opposition’s case against this Bill, 1 want to follow three broad lines of approach. Firstly, I want to indicate broadly the principles of conscientious objection and point up anomalies in the existing law in Australia - anomalies which this legislation does nothing to remove. Secondly, I want to foreshadow amendments which the Opposition will move at the Committee stage. Thirdly, I want to outline our attitude towards certain clauses which the Opposition will oppose at the Committee stage.
There has been considerable emphasis on the principles of conscientious objection in all countries where some form of conscription has applied in recent years. The trend has been to a broader and more flexible attitude towards conscientious objection to military service and towards the treatment of conscientious objection in the courts. In the United States of America where the basis of recognised objection is confined to religious belief, and there are no recognised grounds for objection on the basis of political, philosophical and sociological beliefs, this has been reflected in massive resistance to the draft legislation. Australian provisions for conscientious objection are certainly more liberal than those in the United States. However, they fall considerably short of the principles enunciated in the now defunct British national service legislation. Procedures in New Zealand and in the Netherlands also are rather more enlightened than those in Australia.
The Labor Party, in accordance with its civil liberties platform, also demands a much more enlightened approach to the administration of the laws regarding conscientious objectors in Australia. We feel there is far too much discrimination against conscientious objectors and far too much variation in the application of the law regarding objectors, lt is completely unfair to describe conscientious objectors as ‘self styled objectors’ or ‘draft dodgers’, as the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) did in his second reading speech. There will always be some people who want to dodge conscriptive laws, probably through cowardice or for other reasons, but the overwhelming number of those who seek exemption from national service as conscientious objectors are completely sincere in their beliefs. These people are confronted with a considerable ordeal in revealing and justifying in public the dictates of their conscience. The law places the onus of proving these principles squarely on them. This is in complete opposition to the criminal law, which places the onus of proof on the prosecution. In these circumstances a person claiming exemption because of a conscientious opposition to military service has to submit himself to the intense scrutiny of a court. He is compelled to reveal his most deeply held beliefs and convictions, the manifestations of his conscience, to the scrutiny of a magistrate who has no special grounding in this area of examination. The examination of conscience is an immensely delicate operation. Under the National Service Act, if a claimant’s religion prohibits him from taking part in military activities or if he is a known member of a pacifist organisation, he is in an immeasurably better position than an individual whose beliefs are formed in isolation.
Questions of conscience arc immensely personal questions. People may have deeply held objections to military service but may not be able to express or defend their convictions rationally or logically. Their objections may be completely sincere and any form of military service may be abhorrent to their conscience but under the present provisions they may be incapable of convincing a court of their sincerity. For these reasons the Opposition insists that there should be the utmost consistency in the hearing of conscientious objection cases in this country.
Principles of conscientious objection to military service have been expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Second Vatican Council, and in Australia most notably by the Australian Council of Churches which established a special committee to examine conscientious objection.
There have been many definitions of conscientious objection. In Australia the principle became part of the law of the Commonwealth shortly after federation, when section 61 of the Defence Act (1903) exempted from the general obligation of service in time of war ‘persons whom the doctrines of their religion forbid to bear arms or perform military service’. This was broadened in 1910 when the reference to religion was abandoned and persons were exempted who satisfied the prescribed authority that their conscientious beliefs did not allow them to bear arms. In World War II exemption for persons whose conscientious beliefs did not allow them to bear arms was the only principle applied. This exemption was still only from combatant duties.
The parent National Service Act of 1951 adopted the principle of total exemption for conscientious objection if proved to the satisfaction of the court. Although the scope of this Act has broadened immensely in recent years with the introduction of compulsory selective service there has been no comparable liberalisation of the law relating to conscientious objection. These provisions have remained unaltered since 1951.
There has been considerable argument in the courts on what constitutes a conscientious belief. The most generally accepted definition was given by Mr Justice Windeyer in the case of the Queen versus the District Court of Sydney and others, ex parte, White. The learned judge described a conscientious belief as an individual’s inward conviction of what is morally right or morally wrong, and it is a conviction that is genuinely reached and held after some process of thinking about the subject. Speaking further on the subject of conscientious objection he said:
It reaches a conclusion that is uninfluenced by any consideration of personal advantage or disadvantage either to oneself or others, and perhaps when put to the test should be ordinarily combined with a willingness to act according to the particular conviction reached although this may involve personal discomfort or suffering or material loss.
This is the sort of belief that is tested in the courts under this Act. Bearing this principle in mind the variation that has occurred in interpretation of these provisions is incredible. There is an absolute lack of consistency in the application of the provisions of section 29 of the National Service Act which lays down procedures for registration of conscientious objectors. The section prescribes that a person whose conscientious beliefs do not allow him to engage in any form of military service is, so long as he holds these beliefs, exempt from liability to render service. A person may seek total exemption; alternatively he may seek exemption from military duties of a combatant nature but be required to serve as a non-combatant. A conscientious belief may be held whether it is of a religious character or not. The Act provides for initial hearing in a court of summary jurisdiction with right of appeal to a higher court.
There has been an extraordinary variation in the application of these principles by the courts; in particular there are marked differences in the administration of the law between the States. It is quite notorious that it is easier to gain total - exemption as a conscientious objector in some States than in others. For example, in the period from the introduction of selective national service up to the 19th September last year, only nineteen out of seventy-nine applications for total exemption were granted at first instance in New South Wales. This is a ratio of approximately one in four successful applications. In Victoria 51 were granted out of 124 - that - is, a ratio of approximately 1 in 2.4 - a decidedly better average than in New South Wales. In Queensland 39 were granted out of 58, in South Australia 28 out . of 41, in Western Australia 22 out of 31, and in Tasmania 3 out of 6. Quite obviously, it is much harder to gain total exemption in New South Wales than in any other State pf Australia. Although there is more consistency in the ratios of exemptions to applications in the other States there is enough variation to raise strong presumptions that different magistrates are applying different tests and standards.
There are other examples of inconsistency in the application of the law regarding conscientious objectors. I point to one example reported in the January edition of The Peacemaker’, a journal published by the Federal Pacifist Council, of Australia, involving two brothers who were members of a Western Australian non-denominational Christian group numbering some 600 members. One applied on two occasions for total exemption in Western Australia and was ordered to undertake non-combatant duties. His brother, a member pf the same denomination with the same beliefs, was granted total exemption on appeal in Victoria. This is an example of how anomalies are arising in the application of the law in different States.
Another example of the maladministration of the law is the widespread confusion which exists over objectors who base their case on specific objections to the Vietnam war. Higher judicial authority has interpreted the Act to preclude objection to. participation only in a particular war or in operations against a particular enemy. According to Mr Justice Windeyer in White’s case which I have cited, conscientious objection cannot be confined to a particular war. Section 29 (a), sub-section (1) of the Act defines as liable for exemption a person whose conscientious beliefs do not allow him to engage in any form of naval, military or air force service. Mr Jusitce Windeyer has held the words ‘any form’ to mean ‘service at any time, anywhere, in any army, corps or unit’. Others have interpreted these words to mean service in a particular war. According to this interpretation, if the exemption were universal the section would read: ‘A person whose conscientious beliefs do not allow him to engage in any naval, military or air force service’.
The interpretation that the conscientious objection can be confined to a particular war has been accepted by some magistrates, although the weight of superior court opinion is against this interpretation. It is completely unsatisfactory that some persons can apply with a case based solely on objection to the Vietnam war and gain exemption in some courts but not in others.
I have tried broadly to give some idea of the gradual trend to less rigorous attitudes to conscientious objection. This trend was apparent in Australia up to the introduction of the national service legislation in 1951. Unfortunately, the progressive liberalisation of attitudes to conscientious objection has not persisted in the past 16 years, particularly since the introduction of compulsory selective service in 1964. The Opposition believes that there is far too much inconsistency in the application of the conscientious objection provisions by the courts. These are inconsistencies that this amending legislation should have sought to eliminate. This could have been done by establishing tribunals in each State to deal solely with cases of conscientious objection. In this way a consistent body of law relating to conscientious objection cases could be built up and consistent principles applied. Tribunal members would have complete familiarity with conscientious objection and its implications - matters which are often completely unfamiliar to magistrates not accustomed to dealing with delicate questions of conscience. This was the sort of system which operated effectively in the United Kingdom and is still used in New Zealand.
I turn now from the broad principles of conscientious objection and the administration of the law affecting it to indicate the amendments the Opposition will move to this legislation. We will move an amendment that an applicant for exemption as a conscientious objector be immediately registered as a provisional conscientious objector pending the hearing of his application. This amendment will provide that such an objector is not listed on the national service register as a person liable to be required to submit himself to a medical examination or to be called up to render military service until his status has been determined.
This amendment is in line with the procedures of the United Kingdom National Service Act of 1948 which provided for a register of conscientious objectors. In the first place an objector could apply for provisional registration until his application was heard by a local tribunal which dealt only with cases of conscientious objection. The United Kingdom legislation provided for the right of appeal from this tribunal to an appellate tribunal. It is the Opposition’s belief that more and more young men conscripted for military service will object to the Australian commitment in Vietnam. lt is unfair that conscientious objection should be founded on universal objection to all wars and to all forms of service and, as
I have pointed out earlier, this has produced anomalies in the interpretation of the law. It should be remembered that many of the conscientious objectors in World War
II were men who served in the trenches in World War I. In Nazi Germany there were conscientious objectors to service in the German army during World War II. Accordingly the Opposition says that the principle of objection to a specific war should be recognised and incorporated in legislation on conscientious objection.
The next amendments we will seek relate to applicants for exemption as conscientious objectors after commencement of service.
The present Act provides that a person who seeks exemption in these circumstances must have formed his conscientious beliefs after he commenced service. The Opposition believes that the formulation of conscientious beliefs is a continuous process which can increase in intensity over time. For example, it is possible for a person to have firm objections to military service but to suppress them in accordance with what he believes to be his national duty. These objections may later be intensified and reinforced.
The Opposition wants to prevent such situations by omitting the sections which require that the objection be formed only after commencement of service. The present measures are designed to account for the possibility of a man’s conscientious conversion to, or adoption of, new beliefs after he has commenced service. Mr Justice Windeyer has pointed out in the case of Collett v. Loane that it is possible for a man’s conscientious belief genuinely to change and develop, to clarify and intensify and become for him more dominating and compelling. Such a process is conceivable over a considerable period - for example a period covering a serviceman’s registration, his induction into the Army, and a period of actual service. We want to bring servicemen who form sincere conscientious objections over such a period within the scope of the legislation.
A further amendment will provide that where a person who has commenced service claims exemption as a conscientious objector he shall not be required to serve further pending the hearing and determination of his application. The Opposition believes it is unfair to require such a person to continue service and possibly even engage in active warfare when he may be exempted as a conscientious objector. This would be a gross infringement of his conscience and his beliefs. Such a person should be excused service until his status is determined.
The Opposition will move an amendment that a non-military alternative be acceptable for persons liable to render national service. At present there is no recognised alternative’ of non-military * humanitarian national service and the Opposition believes that one should “ be provided in the Act.
These are broad amendments which will be moved by the Opposition in the Committee stage. I now draw attention to a number of more specific alterations the Opposition will urge to this legislation. The first objection is to clause 20 of the amending legislation. The effect of the legislation is to transfer persons who fail to comply with call-up provisions from the military to the civil jurisdiction. In effect the offender will be transferred to a civil court and be liable to a sentence of two years. The Opposition accepts that this is preferable to a system where such an offender is liable to repeated sentence under military law. However, we insist that such a person should have the option of trial by jury. The Opposition in this Parliament has consistently pressed that an individual is entitled to a trial by jury for serious offences. The usual yardstick for a serious offence is that it be an offence involving a term of imprisonment of more than a year.
In the Senate, the Opposition has successfully moved amendments tq two Bills - the Narcotic Drugs Bill and the Wireless Telegraphy Bill - to incorporate these principles. The case for trial by jury in these Acts was argued with great legal skill by. the leaders of the Opposition in the Senate. They were supported in their legal arguments by the eminent barrister who is now the Minister for. Works (Senator Wright). I would like to quote briefly from the comments by Senator Wright on these two Bills and on this principle. In the Narcotics Drugs Bill on 11th May last year the Minister for Works stated his adherence to the principle that for serious crimes the individual, is entitled to trial by jury of his peers. Senator Wright said further:
The criterion should be that since 1215, in cases of serious crimes involving a ; major term of imprisonment and putting a. citizen’s liberty in jeopardy, the citizen has been entitled and, J say, still is entitled to trial by jury. ;
Having seen the web of officialdom in this place gradually growing in confusion and in weight in the years I have been here, my -respect increases for the progenitors of our laws who provided, as one of the fundamental safeguards of the freedom of the individual, trial by jury as distinct from trial by officials.
The Minister for Works also supported this principle when the Opposition moved a similar amendment to the Wireless Telegraphy Bill on 24th August last year. I quote again from the learned senator who said:
We are grateful to Senator Cohen and to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) for bringing up for discussion this important principle which needs to be safeguarded in this area of jurisdiction more closely than in most areas, because encroachment upon it in this sphere of government is intensifying. .
I would like to emphasise the words ‘because encroachment upon it in this sphere of government is intensifying’. Senator Wright went on to refer to section 12a of the Crimes Act which states that any proceeding in respect of an offence against the Act although declared indictable may, with the consent of the defendant,- be heard and determined by a court of summary jurisdiction, I quote in full Senator Wright’s comment’ upon this clause of the Crimes Act which is not a model of enlightened legislation but does at least provide an option of trial by jury. Senator Wright said:
I repeat that the Crimes Act makes it quite clear that the right to elect whether or not the trial shall be in a court of summary jurisdiction is the right of the defendant except in cases of petty offences involving property not exceeding $50 in value. I seek to know why, in substance, the advisers of the Crown, if they allowed that right to stand in section 12a of the Crimes Act, resist it in individual statutes in specific sections dealing with the same subject
He went on to say that his watermark for the option of trial by. jury was twelve months imprisonment or perhaps a fine of $1,000. There can be no. doubt where the Minister for Works -stands on the application of this great principle of English law to Commonwealth statutes. Perhaps the Minister for Labour .and National Service (Mr Bury) cao enlighten the House as to whether he had the advice of the Minister for Works before introducing this clause which fails to provide for trial by jury. The Opposition hopes that the elevation of Senator Wright to the Ministry will not dull his sense of legal principle and propriety. I am sure it will not.
We will move also that no person be imprisoned for more than two years for any offence under the amending legislation. The Opposition will oppose clause 21, which the Minister has indicated outside the House he is prepared to reconsider. Only a few minutes before the Opposition had the opportunity to reply to the Minister’s second reading speech a number of amendments were circulated. One would have thought that the Minister would have had the courtesy - I normally receive this courtesy from the Leader of the House - to make this information available to the Opposition to permit it to consider any changes that are to be made. I repeat that only a few moments before we were to continue the debate on the Bill we were handed a number of amendments which seek to remove from the measure some of its more objectionable features. The Minister’s former clear intention, to which the Opposition strongly objected, have been changed. No hint was given in the Minister’s speech that he intended to introduce a number of amendments, particularly to amend section 21, which the Minister indicated outside the House he was prepared to reconsider.
Much of what the Minister said in his second reading speech will not be altered as a result of his decision to amend the Bill. The implications of clause 21 were completely glossed over in the Minister’s sketchy and often misleading second reading speech. Clause 21 seeks to amend section 52 of the principal Act to provide that persons be compelled to answer questions and furnish information about the liability of a person to serve, or the address of the place of employment of a person believed liable to serve. A penalty of $200 is stipulated for breaches of the requirements of the section as amended.
There was not the slightest hint in the Minister’s speech that this new section could be used to coerce parents into informing against their sons. Nothing was said about what was intended in the amendments proposed in the Bill, but when this fact was discovered and publicised the Minister blandly stated that it was put forward merely to test opinion, that it was a rather broad requirement and it could easily be relaxed. If that was the Minister’s opinion, he should have circulated his amendments not today but at least 2 weeks ago. The plain fact is that the -Minister now knows that he will not be able to force this obnoxious provision through the Parliament. He now acknowledges this fact and for pure political expediency has decided to withdraw the provisions in question. Such a requirement should never have been presented to the Parliament or to the Australian people. It is symptomatic of the malaise underlying the whole of this legislation that such a provision should have been inserted in the first place. The Opposition intended to oppose this requirement but there would have been considerable opposition from people outside the Parliament who are interested in this matter and who now obviously have stated their views to the Minister.
The Opposition is opposed also to clause 22 which seeks to insert proposed section 52aa. This section will require principal executive officers of educational and other institutions to give information and to permit access to records. The effect of this section will be to give statutory recognition on an unparalleled scale to common informing. I have searched the statutes of other countries which have national service without finding anything remotely comparable to this incredible section. The Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) has stated that some universities are already giving information of this sort to the Department of Labour and National Service. Other universities, to their credit, have declined to give information which should be confidential. They are now to be coerced into giving this information, and principal executive officers are threatenned with a penalty of $400 if they refuse to divulge information.
The implications of the wording of this section are even more sweeping. It states that the principal executive officers of educational and other institutions may be required to furnish information and shall permit access to records. The Minister has now limited the class of other institutions under the Act. This was done obviously, as I have already stated, under great pressure. Quite clearly the class may be as broad in definition as the Department of Labour and National Service required. The Minister belatedly removed organisations such as trade unions, hire purchase companies, banks, church groups, youth clubs, libraries, retail stores and a host of other agencies which service young people. All these organisations were intended to supply the kind of information that the Minister for Labour and National Service thought ought to be made available to the Department. It was conceivable that the principal of a church fellowship or youth club might bc compelled to give confidential information about his members. This reinforces the effect of the previous clause which, as I have said, is designed to give statutory recognition to informers and to coerce, with stringent penalties for failure to comply, when this information is not readily given. Registrars and other responsible executive officers of universities or other educational institutions should not be put in the position where they are required to divulge confidential information. Certainly principal executive officers of so-called other institutions should not be coerced into informing on their members.
The Opposition will also oppose clauses 24 and 25 of the amending legislation. These clauses amend sections 54 and 54a of the principal Act. Section 54 states that a parent or guardian of a person required to register or render service under the Act shall not prevent that person from registering or complying with the Act. Section 54a imposes a similar requirement on an employer with regard to an employee. The amending legislation provides that parents, guardians and employers shall not prevent or hinder registration or complience with the Act. The Opposition feels this amendment unduly harshens the terms of the principal Act.
For a parent or employer to prevent registration or compliance would involve an outright prohibition or some specific act designed to stop registration or compliance. However, the imposition of the same penalty for hindering a person from registering or complying with the Act seems extremely harsh. How is ‘hinder’ to be defined? If a parent with sincere objections to war or to conscription attempts to influence his son with his views is he guilty of hindrance in the terms of the Act? Is he liable to penalty under the Act? An employer may find himself in a similar situation. The Opposition believes there is a vast difference between prevention and hindrance; we say these terms should not be lumped together and made subject to the same penalty. We oppose these amendments, as sincere and conscientious people may be placed in jeopardy because they give advice in accordance with their beliefs.
Finally, the Opposition will oppose those parts of clause 26 which are designed to insert new sections 55 and 56a in the principal Act. Proposed new section 55 is one of the most incredible provisions in this incredible Bill. The Minister pointed out in his second reading speech that the existing legislation provides that a person shall not employ or retain in his employment for more than 7 days a person who is required to register and has not registered or who has been called up for service and has failed to render service. The Minister has charitably considered objections made to this stringent provision and has come up with what he deems a more acceptable interpretation. Instead of dismissing such a person an employer is now obliged to notify the Department of Labour and National Service of any person in his employ whom he has reason to suspect is a defaulter. An employer who fails to notify the registrar of such an employee is liable to a harsh penalty of $400. This is another example of a statutory recognition of informers. By the imposition of such a strict penalty the Government goes to extreme lengths in coercing employers to inform on persons who may not have committed an offence. By any standards this is an infringement of common law rights.
Proposed section 56a is another remarkable legislative proposal, lt is intended to prevent persons liable for service from leaving Australia by ship or aircraft. In the first place, the owner or charterer of a ship or aircraft, or an employee of such an owner or charterer, is required to refuse authority for travel overseas to a person suspected of liability to register and render service. If an authority is given contravening this provision an owner or charterer is liable to a maximum fine of $400. A similar provision applies to agents of aviation and shipping companies and to the employees of these agents. Again, an agent is liable to a maximum fine of $400 for contravention of this provision.
The Minister appears to have some doubts about how this legislation will affect the airline and shipping companies. I believe his reservations are justified. If the legislation is accepted it will have ramifications extending through the whole structure of the transport and tourist industries in Australia.
It will place an intolerable burden on shipping and aircraft companies, on the agents of these companies, and on the employees of these companies and agents. Excessive responsibility will be placed on shipping companies, aviation companies, tourist bureaus, banks, and many other agencies and their employees. Furthermore, employers will be made responsible for acts and omissions of their employees of which they know nothing. Again this is contrary to basic principles of the common law. It will mean a proliferation of unnecessary checks and counter checks on procedures for clearing overseas travellers and -an only hamper the interna] administration of shipping and aviation companies and their agents. For these reasons we oppose this clause. These provisions give rise to the principal changes the Opposition will seek to make in this legislation.
I would like to summarise briefly the Opposition’s attitude to this Bill. It does nothing to liberalise requirements for conscientious objection to military service which have remained the same since the Act was introduced in 1951, despite the subsequent introduction of selective compulsory service. It does nothing to remove the confusion and the wide variety of interpretations of the conscientious objection provisions in the courts. It does nothing to bring the conscientious objection requirements up to standards accepted in comparable countries. It denies the right of trial by jury for serious offences punishable by imprisonment for 2 years. It introduces a number of extremely coercive requirements designed to incite informing and pimping.
– Will the Opposition accept the amendments that have been circulated?
– As 1 have said already, the Minister has now belatedly circulated a series of amendments which one can accept as an indication that he intends to correct his attitude in relation to some of these matters. The net effect of the legislation as it stands can only be to disrupt relations between parent and child, employer and employee, company and agent, and company and employee. It infringes accepted principles of civil liberties and continues the gradual erosion of these principles evident in recent years.
For these reasons we will oppose the Bill and at the Committee stage we will move the amendments that I have foreshadowed.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) set sail this afternoon on a completely predictable course. He and the Australian Labor Party are opposed to national service and, for that reason, they are opposed to the Bill and particularly to some provisions of it, but they fail to tell us why they are opposed to them, except within the limited confines of the Deputy Leader’s speech. His statement, indeed, was certainly limited. But this is characteristic of the approach of his Party to our commitment in Vietnam, to defence commitments generally and particularly to the defence of this country. The. whole attitude of the Labour Party to the original measure and, now, to this amending legislation, has been one of evasion - evasion of our defence needs, evasion of the national issues involved and evasion of the simple and proper principle that where responsibilities for national defence in specific fields have to be shared they should be shared equally by all those required to do so, subject only to the most deliberately considered exemptions.
Let us consider what the honourable gentleman has said. He spent 25 minutes talking about conscientious objectors. I should like to make it clear that a man who holds a genuine conscientious objection should be exempted from service. A man who holds a genuine conscientious objection to participating in battle should be put on non-combatant duties. About that there can be no argument. So far there have been 300,000 registrants for national service and about 750 applications for exemption. Of that number 454 have been determined. Of these. 197 have been granted totally and 171 partially. So 25 minutes of the Opposition’s time in this debate has been spent in talking about only 86 men whose applications for exemption have been wholly rejected. This matter should be put in its correct perspective.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the Opposition opposed the Bill for two reasons. Firstly, it opposed conscription for military service out of Australia except in time of war. The Government understands that reason. However, there is a need to put Australia in a defence posture where it can defend itself and where it has the build-up available to be called upon at the earliest opportunity. The second reason given for opposing the Bill was that the Opposition opposed the selective system of call-up. I do not know a fairer method than the selective system, but I will not argue that now as it is a separate matter. We are dealing with the need to make sure that the responsibility is shared equally among all those of the same age group who have a common need to ensure the development and defence of our country.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition then went on to discuss conscientious objectors for about 25 minutes. He said that tribunals should be set up to hear conscientious objectors. But magistrates do this now and an appeal can be made from a magistrate’s court to a Supreme Court. Indeed, the honourable member himself quoted from a decision of the full High Court of Australia. What better continuity and regularity of consideration could there be? This afternoon the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) criticised the Government for lack of courtesy because amendments circulated in the name of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) were not distributed until just before question time began. I want to make it clear that those amendments did not arrive from the Government Printer until just before question time and they were circulated immediately.
– The Minister should have told us that.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition himself said that the Minister had announced that he was considering changes. As soon as the amendments arrived they were circulated. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the Opposition accepted the amendments, so what are we having a fuss about? The Opposition wanted the Bill amended and it will be amended. So we can put the whole question of clause 21 aside. Clause 22 can be put aside also because the amendments to it are acceptable to the Opposition.
– The Minister dealt . very extensively with clauses 21 and 22 in his second reading speech.
– He did deal with them in his second reading speech but as the Opposition objected to them they are to be amended.
– He did not intend to amend them until he was pressured to do so.
– Well, they are to be amended. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition evaded talking about national service and the reasons for it. Nobody will contradict me when I say that national service has been an unqualified success in achieving its major purpose, which was the urgently needed expansion of our forces. Three years ago national service was accepted as necessary by a majority of the people of Australia and it is a matter of history that this decision by the Government, along with others, was underwritten in 1966 when the electors of Australia gave this Government the greatest victory it has had. I would like to quote the words of the Leader of the Opposition - whom I see sitting in the House - spoken when the chamber was mourning the death of the late Prime Minister, Mr Harolt Holt. Referring to the 1966 elections and the platform upon which the Government had campaigned, he said that the Australian Labor Party had suffered ‘its greatest defeat in history’. It is no wonder that Opposition members want to avoid talking about that. It is not a very happy recollection for them.
The response by the public and by the young men of the nation to the principle and the practice of national service has been outstanding. The young men who have served have done so with very great distinction and those who are following them are doing so in the same keen, loyal and courageous way. Nobody could avoid the feeling of warmth of heart upon the return to Australia of national servicemen as battle veterans. It is reassuring to us all to see the manner in which public figures in the sporting world and in the entertainment world have accepted their responsibility to render service to the country which they claim as their own.
The great majority of young men have responded willingly to the discipline of national service call-up. I think it is fair to say that most of those who were perhaps not specially keen about it at the outset quickly found value in it and a new sense of pride in serving their country. But there have been some loopholes in the scheme which have enabled a minority - a small minority - to seek constantly to evade their obligations and, in terms of the National Service Act, deliberately and dishonestly to flout the law. It is to deal with these loopholes that this measure is before the House. In overhauling the original provisions the Government has taken note of some constructive suggestions from responsible bodies such as the Returned Services League and the Australian Council of Churches.
There is no change in basic principles; there is no covert or overt intrusion into the proper civil liberties of the young men of our country; there is nothing that will deny to any young man the full protection of the law and the fullest right to be heard in his own defence on matters arising from the obligation to undergo national service. The Bill takes into account the Government’s experience of the last 3 years with the original Act and it provides amendments which will strengthen and not weaken the safeguards that any legislation of this kind must have. It is not therefore a punitive piece of legislation; it is a measure designed to make a widely accepted and generally respected law more effective in the public interest and in the interests of young Australians involved in national service.
The Bill is concerned with self-styled draft dodgers at the various stages of the national service induction and with the draft dodgers when the act of serving has begun. The Government would be less than fair and it would in fact be letting down those young men who have accepted the interruption to their careers and their privileges to take on willingly the responsibilities of national service if it allowed a few to get away with it. The purpose of this legislation is to share the burden among all those of the same age group. Most Australians do not like the idea that some people may be getting away with not accepting their responsibilities. The people expect the Government to ensure that the few dodgers are not allowed to break the law and to throw back the odium of a refusal to serve onto their generation as a whole. The Government would be remiss if, in the light of the experience it has gained in the operation of the national service scheme, it allowed a few young men to live without and beyond the law and thereby encourage others to do the same.
National service is a high matter of Government policy upon which the Government must take a decision to discharge the responsibility it owes to those who elect it. It has done so. We are a nation of 12 million people. We are certainly not a super power; not even a front line power; but we are significant in our region of the world. It is the Government’s determination to preserve our liberty and bur freedom to grow our crops, to develop our factories and to make our land productive. We want to retain our liberty and our freedom. The central point in the concept’ of liberty and freedom is the equality before the law of all men, and this Bill ensures equality before the law of all men.
In 1951 there was compulsory military service but in due course that ceased. However, the statutory provision for it remained and is the trunk upon which subsequent amendments have grown. On 10th November 1964 the Prime Minister of the day, Sir Robert Menzies, made a defence review in this chamber. It constituted a complete reassessment of our Defence needs and our programme at that time. It announced that national service was to be reintroduced from January 1965. The Regular Army was to be built up as rapidly as possible to a level that would be adequate to meet our foreseeable operational requirements and form a basis for rapid expansion in time of war. On military advice and on the Government’s own carefully formed judgments, it was clear that a build up in Army strength of the order required and to the timing necessary could not be expected by voluntary enlistment. At that time Sir Robert Menzies said:
We are living in a period of unsurpassed prosperity and more than full employment; the attractions of civilian employment are very great indeed.
That statement is incontestably as true today as it then was. Therefore the Government decided that there was no alternative to the introduction of selective compulsory service. To enable the Regular Army to achieve the required degree of operational readiness national servicemen must serve in Regular units on a full time basis. If the scheme is to be effective, those called up therefore must be under an obligation to serve overseas as necessary and must be available to go with the Regular unit in which they are serving. The period of 2 years full time service is required in order to permit a period of at least 12 months effective service in a unit. An average of 6 months must be allowed for recruit and corps training. Provision must be made also for leave, movement and acclimatisation when the national servicemen are sent overseas. It was decided also, as part of the total plan, that the Citizen Military Forces should assume greater importance and the national service scheme should be used as a means of encouraging men to enlist in the Citizen Military Forces. National service was introduced against a background of affairs overseas, particularly in and around the South East Asia area, but prior to the acceptance of the commitments in Vietnam on the present scale. At that point of time we were making a small contribution.
Before dealing in detail with the honourable gentleman’s few points of opposition, I recapitulate the major points of the Bill. To listen to the honourable gentleman one would be excused for thinking that the Opposition is assuming that the Bill is designed for a different purpose to that for which it is designed. The Bil] has been represented by the Opposition and others as essentially a penal piece of legislation. In fact the Opposition accepts the transference of the penalty to a civilian gaol. So that is not an issue to be raised in the debate. But while experience of national service over the past 3 years has indicated the need to enable more effective action to deal with those who are seeking to evade or default in their obligations - action which is demanded on the grounds of justice and equity to the overwhelming majority of young men and their families who accept the obligations imposed by national service - the legislation makes a number of important changes which must be considered as desirable upon examination. I believe that when I recall the changes to the mind of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition he will nod his head in agreement as I go through them. The first change is the making of failure to obey a call-up notice a civil offence. Representations on this have been made by diverse groups such as the Returned Services League, the Australian Council of Churches, the Australian Quaker Peace Committee and Federal Pacifist Council of Australia. No doubt the honourable gentleman will regard that change as an improvement. The second change removes the requirement that an employer cannot continue to employ a man who has failed to register or who has been called up and has failed to render service. Representations on this have been made by a number of honourable members and most recently by the Australian Council of Churches. The honourable gentleman agrees with that change, but goes further and says that the employer should not be bound to notify the Registrar if the employer has reason to believe that he is employing somebody who is a draft dodger.
The third change concerns the provisions for the discharge from the Army of men who have been granted leave without pay on the grounds of exceptional hardship for not less than 2 years and the granting of indefinite deferrment to men who have not yet been called up but who have been granted not less than 2 years temporary deferment, where the circumstances relating to the hardship have not changed and are unlikely to change. The honourable gentleman would agree with that, I am sure. Then there is recognition of Defence service performed overseas, on the same basis as that now accorded to men who are now serving in the Australian Permanent Forces. 1 am sure the Opposition would agree to that. Next there is removal of the requirement of an oath for nonBritish national service registrants to ensure that they are free to exercise the same option as British subjects to serve in the CMF. I am sure the honourable gentleman would agree with that. Then, continued refusal to register following prosecutions for failure to do so will no longer leave a man legally liable to further prosecution because the Registrar can now register him from the information that the Registrar possesses. Because there is no wish to compound the man’s offence, he may be deemed to be registered. The Opposition would agree with that. There is also a change designed to ensure that the provisions protecting workers from being penalised by their employer by reason of their national service obligations will extend to apprentices, cadets and those employed in an industry such as casual waterside workers and allied waterfront workers. There would’ be no opposition to that, I am sure. There is provision for the payment of compensation to an employee whose employer is convicted of having penalised or prejudiced him in his employment by reason of his national service obligations and to facilitate the enforcement of an order for compensation. I am sure there would be no objection to that.
The honourable gentleman .spent, as I pointed out, a very considerable period talking about conscientious objectors. It seemed to me that what the honourable gentleman was largely saying was that there are . not enough people who are accepted as conscientious objectors and that this was because of variations in the attitudes of magistrates and because the Act is not beneficial enough. I point out that there are only 86 persons involved out of 300,000 registrants. The honourable, gentleman spoke about the onus of proof and said that it was unfair for the onus of proof to be on the conscientious objector. The honourable gentleman then went on to give examples which would illustrate to the House just why the onus is placed as it is. The honourable gentleman said that a man is compelled to reveal the deepest point of conscience and that conscience ‘ is immensely personal. If the onus of proof is placed upon the Department of Labour and National Service how can it go to the deepest point of conscience or into this immensely personal conscience? How can it penetrate that in order to present to a court the evidence required so that it can discharge the onus of proof? Simply because a belief is so personal and because it does go to the deepest point of conscience it must be for the objector himself to come to the court and satisfy the court. The honourable gentleman said that tribunals should be established. For my part I prefer, where possible, to have the judicial process instead of the tribunal process. For that reason I think I need say very little more about it. I am sure that all honourable members would agree with me on that. If there is inconsistency now there would be greater inconsistency with tribunals because there would be no centralising point.
– As there is in the United States of America.
– As there is in the United States of America, as I am reminded by my colleague from Parkes. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition made a couple of other points.
– What about the trial by jury?
– I am about to come to that now. The other point that the honourable gentleman made concerned trial by jury. He quoted my colleague, the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), in extensio. Let us not at this point, of time open up the’ argument as’ to whether or not it was proper to insert such a provision in the Narcotic Drugs Bill or in the Wireless Telegraphy Bill. Let us accept that. That provision was inserted. Under the provisions of this Bill a person can be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 2 years, but the magistrate has no power whatever to exercise discretion as to the period of imprisonment. It is determined by mathematical formula - it will be 2 years or such less time as has been given by way of service in the Regular Army Supplement through national service. The magistrate has only the judicial function to convict or. to acquit. If’ he convicts, the penalty follows by force of statute. It will, of course, be seen as a significantly different provision to one in which a magistrate, upon conviction, says: ‘What penalty shall . I. impose between no imprisonment and imprisonment up to 2 years?’ It is a very different provision’ and I think it ought to be accepted on that basis. The magistrate does not have the final say because the Commonwealth takes the Court as it finds it and if there is an appeal from the magistrate, as there is in the Australian States, then the matter goes to a judge. So honourable members should think of the case, not as being before a magistrate, but as being before a judge on appeal.
The next point I make about jury trial is that it is a nice, attractive appeal to emotion to speak of a jury trial. But remember this: Under a jury trial’ system, which we all agree with for important matters of personal liberty-
– Is this not important?
– Please let me develop my point. We all agree in a jury trial system for all important matters of personal liberty and we has-e twelve men good and true sworn to render their verdict according to the evidence. The overwhelming majority of the Australian community - 99.9% - would take their jury service as a matter of deep conscience, to borrow the honourable member’s term, and would return a verdict according to law and the evidence; but unless all twelve of them can agree then there can be no acquittal and no conviction. If there is a disagreement by the jury, the trial has to carry on again. This means that if one person of the variety of which the honourable member assures its there is plenty - although the election results do not show there to be as many as he would like to believe - gets on the jury, he can frustrate the trial completely. The honourable member said that Vietnam is a matter of conscience and that a person ought to be able to advise anybody to acf as he wishes to advise them, but the same thing could apply here. What is certainly very important is that these provisions must work. The honourable member does hot object to failure to comply with a. call-up notice being made a civil offence. The ‘ Opposition does not object to this. It does not object to the provision relating to gaoling in a civil gaol. The obvious progression from that is not to object to a system whereby a judicial decision is reached. This is what I would say to the honourable member regarding his point about jury trials. 1 think we can fairly dispose of clauses 21 and 22, as we have established our reasons for their inclusion. We come now to clauses 24 and 25. At present in the legislation there are provisions which make it an offence for a person to prevent another person from registering. Section 54 of the principal Act relates to parents or guardians of a person required to register, and section 54a makes it an offence for an employer to prevent a person from registering. Clauses 24 and 25 amend those sections by inserting the words ‘hinder or’ in relation to preventing a person from registering. This is being done simply because some persons can coerce others without arriving at the point of actually preventing their doing something. To remove registrants from the coercive influence of another person’ or an employer it was found necessary to include the words ‘or hinder’. These words are consistent with the wording in the Defence (Re-establishment) Act which was approved by the Parliament without objection by the Opposition - words that relate to not hindering or preventing a person volunteering for service. The proposed amendments to the National Service Act make its provisions consistent and make it an offence to hinder or prevent a person registering for service. The consistency will become apparent at once to the Opposition.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, if I paraphrase him correctly, that this is a piece of legislation which gives statutory authority for informing. That was a colourful phrase without any justification. I was surprised to hear it from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, because he knows that the position is the reverse. There was criticism of the Minister for Labour and National Service for not giving notice of these amendments earlier. I point out that clause 21 amends section 52 of the principal Act which has been in the legislation since 1951. That provision was not objected to by the Opposition in 1951, nor was it objected to by the Opposition in 1964. Indeed, only one honourable member opposite mentioned it in 1964 and that was the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). The provision was not opposed. It will be apparent that what has happened is that my colleague has responded to a request now revealed by public examination to make the provision safer. This is what he is doing and I am glad he is doing it because it narrows the issues that separate us and it makes the debate more manageable within the area and confines that it ought to occupy.
– The second reading speech of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) covers the general provisions of the National Service Bill, summarises them and then gives reasons for the proposed amendments. One of the things he mentioned was that the person who does not choose to go into the Citizen Military Forces before he is called up has one chance in four of being selected by ballot. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) made much of the aims of this legislation to equalise the liability of everybody for national service but not once did he refer to the ballot, a process which represents the opposite of equalising.
In bis second reading speech the Minister for Labour and National Service said that standards of fitness for national service were identical with those applying for the Australian Regular Army. He said that they are high and most exacting. The standards for the Australian Regular Army have been laid down and there have been very few changes for many years. They are well known to the doctors who are examining these young men. There are some conditions which any medical opinion inside the forces or outside them would regard as conditions that would permanently bar a young man from military service.
The Minister and his officials in the Department of Labour and National Service have had correspondence, extending over several months, on this subject. I am glad to see that the Minister is in the House and I hope that he will reply to this point. There has been correspondence from Dr Murray Williams, who is the Director of the Student Health Service in the Queensland University, with the State and Federal authorities and with the Minister. I will quote from the correspondence. On 13th May 1966 Dr Williams wrote:
I am receiving queries from students about medical problems and disabilities which may influence their selection for national service training in the event of their being chosen in the ballot. The length of deferment for students can be considerable and any uncertainty over the likelihood of call-up’ can be quite disturbing to those wishing to plan for further study, travel, marriage and other future commitments; could 1 therefore offer the suggestion that students chosen in the ballot might be allowed to have their preliminary medical screening at an early date to obviate delay for those with definite handicaps precluding enlistment?
I appreciate that temporary unfitness is a different problem; my suggestion chiefly concerns those disabilities which would not really be covered by Question (9) on the National Service registration form, e.g., moderate asthma, peptic ulcer symptoms, eczema, or certain nervous or personality disorders. These will presumably be detected at an initial medical examination, and considerable suspense and uncertainty would be avoided by settling such problems soon after notification of ballot results.
Six days later, on 19th May 1966, the Regional Director of the Department of Labour and National Service wrote:
I have received your letter of. the 13th May, 1966, ‘ in which you suggest that students be medically examined by a National Service medical board soon after their liability for service has been decided by the ballot, so that any uncertainty about the likelihood of call-up may be resolved.
Such a variation of existing procedures would need to be implemented’ in all States and I have therefore referred, your suggestion to the Department’s Central Office for consideration.
Three months later, on 19th August, Dr Williams received a reply from the Department in these terms: . . medical fitness for service can be determined only at the time of call-up action in accordance with the standards then applicable. . . . With the extended periods of deferment for which some students will be. eligible, several years can elapse between balloting in and the commencement of call-up action.
On 30th August Dr Williams again wrote to the Regional Director of the Department in these terms: it is my own conviction that there has been a misunderstanding of the nature of the original request. … 1 wonder if you would consider passing on this ° second suggestion, i.e. that registrants for national service be more definitely encouraged to document fully any major and relevant medical handicaps referable to the appropriate section . of their registration paper (Section 9). 1 will be pleased to urge students to do so, publicly if necessary, and to provide those concerned with a competent medical document to append to their registration. There are, after all, some types of problems which are not subject to change, and which one cannot imagine the standards for Army acceptance ever being lowered sufficient to include . . .
After a delay of a further 2 months, on 25th October the Regional Director replied to Dr Williams in these terms: . . your further suggestion about’ the medical examination of national service registrants was submitted to my Central Office. I am now advised that your suggestion has been carefully considered, but it has been decided not to vary the present policy and procedure for determining medical fitness.
On 10th May 1968 Dr Williams decided to go higher authority. He wrote to me and to the Minister for Labour and National Service. In his letter to the Minister he said: 1 consider it feasible that a young man may have a handicap which would definitely disqualify him - the article in the Medical Journal of Australia for 6th April, 1968, indicates the nature of these conditions - and which is not subject to change, lt therefore seems reasonable in such circumstances to allow him the opportunity to have his doubts resolved at an early date; perhaps this could be implemented only at the request of a medical practitioner familiar with his case, and it may even be reasonable to consider asking the applicant to bear the cost of such a special medical examination.
We have seen the expedition with which the Minister can respond in amending this legislation at the eleventh hour in response to what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) has described as a political confrontation which the Minister was not prepared to undergo. I refer to the fact that certain amendments would have been forced upon the Minister in another place. After correspondence extending over many months, the Minister apparently is not prepared to accept the views of a responsible person concerned with the welfare of students who, I submit, are contributing far more to the welfare of this country than are those unfortunate chaps who are being sent to this stupid war in Vietnam. The Minister is not prepared to consider a submission from a medical director and adviser of students whose lives may be dislocated by this inhuman National Service Act.
The Minister for Immigration stated, as did the Minister for Labour and National Service, that the overwhelming majority of young men and their families accept the obligations of national service imposed upon them. The Minister said that only relatively few young men are seeking to evade their obligations or to default. I submit that they do not have much option. Ours is a law abiding community. If the law is unjust and he objects to it, the average law abiding citizen grits his teeth, grins, takes it and obeys the law.
The Minister for Immigration said that only eighty-six young men of 300,000 who have registered were claiming exemption. In other words, about one in every 3,500 of the population is opposed to this war; the others are for it. That is the Minister’s claim. This is nonsense, as we know. Not only did 43% of Australians vote for the Australian Labor Party at the last election but also another 2% voted, where they had the option, for the Liberal Reform Group, which was specifically set up to oppose this one item of policy of one Party in the Government. I submit that many people who voted for the Australian Labor Party at the last election did so because we on this side of the House are opposed to this concept of national defence which has been foisted on us by the Government. I submit further that all those who voted at the last election for the Liberal Reform Group did so for the same reason. I venture to suggest that many more people would have voted for the Liberal Reform Group if they had thought it was capable of forming a government. If the Liberal Reform Group had been capable of forming a government I think that some people who voted for the Labor Party and others who voted for the Liberal Party or some other party may have been persuaded to cast their votes for the Liberal Reform Group. So it is quite unrealistic to claim that only eighty-six of 300,000 registrants objected to national service. We on this side of the House represent 45% of the electorate of Australia, and it is our job to object. To the Minister’s number of eightysix objectors out of 300,000 must be added 45% of the population.
This situation does not exist only in Australia. We are often told that we are in this war for the defence of freedom and that we are following that great champion and bastion of freedom, the United States of America. It may be news to Government supporters - they do not seem to have realised this - that in America the percentage of the population opposed to the Government’s Vietnam war policy is much higher than the percentage in Australia as indicated at our last election. When this Government was voted into power 55% of Australians voted for the Goldwater policy of escalation, which was then being carried out and which until very recently has been carried out by President Johnson. But at the last United States Presidential election more than 70% of the American people voted against the policy of escalation. Over 70% of the Americans who voted for President Johnson voted against his escalation policy. The great American people have far more freedom of the Press and freedom of speech than we have. I am not blaming our friends in the Press gallery for this, because they are gagged in the same way that the average citizen is gagged. They do not have access to all the information that should be freely available to the citizens of this country. We heard last night of the censorship that goes on with respect to our Press. If any honourable member did not hear the speech that was made last night he can read about it on the front page of this morning’s ‘Canberra Times’.
We do not have freedom of speech in relation to decisions about what is good for the defence of this country.
The Minister for Immigration spoke about the involvement of conscripts in Vietnam as a defence duty. However, let him point to anything that the Australians in Vietnam have achieved for the defence of Australia. The Minister talks of the outstanding contribution of these young men. I do not want to belittle their efforts, spirit, morale or loyalty. I feel as much for them as, no doubt, does any member on the Government side of the chamber, because my father served in another war and he is still paying for it. It is not that I belittle any one of these men or that I do not admire them for their efforts. The Minister for Immigration then went on to talk about the need to have warmth of heart for the veterans who come back. 1 have the same warmth of heart for a man who is prepared to stand up in public and say that this is a dirty, cruel, immoral and illegal war. It is illegal under international law. It is illegal under the terms of the United Nations Charter, which should have precedence over any of the National Service Bills by which we claim to defend this country. A man who is prepared to be marked with the unpopular label ‘conscientious objector’ because he believes that killing in war is illegal and wrong often is subjected to far more trials than is the man who takes the risks of warfare. I am not being cynical about the casualties in Vietnam. At present they are not much heavier than those on the roads suffered by the same age group, the members of which are addicted to hot rods. The dangers on the road are just as deadly as those that young men face in Vietnam. When any man goes to war he takes the risk that he may lose his life, or be crippled for life and thus be a burden on his family and his country. But the risk a man takes when he is a conscientious objector, although not of a physical kind, imposes a great moral strain. The conscientious objectors about whom we are talking now try to exert a moral influence on governments to stop the killing in Vietnam. 1 admire such people, because I believe they are doing more for the defence of this country than the men who quietly accept the law as it stands.
In his second reading speech, the Minister for Labour and National Service, as reported at page 996 of Hansard of 1st May, said: . . men have refused to register, generally on the grounds of their complete opposition to national service and notwithstanding the advice to these men that following their registration they may apply for exemption as conscientious objectors if they so wish.
The Minister then went on to state:
My Department has no alternative but to prosecute in these cases.
Of course the Department has no alternative; it helped in making the law which provides that such people must be prosecuted. But surely a man can have a conscientious objection to registration as well. I will tell the House the story of one such man. Honourable members have probably heard of Chis Campbell, who was convicted of failure to register for national service. He was in open confrontation with the Government’s moral right to conscript for military service. He explained in his statement to the Minister for Labour and National Service that as a natural outcome of his belief and conviction he has pursued a course of non-violent action and of noncooperation with the Government and its law enforcement authorities in this matter.
– Does the honourable member agree with that?
Or EVERINGHAM- This is a matter for his conscience and insofar as it applies to the war in Vietnam I very much agree with him. One of the things that the Australian Labor Party has asserted is that a man should be able to object conscientiously to a particular war. To this end, Chris Campbell informed the Minister of his inability to register and of his change of address. He attended court as a member of the public when summonsed on 26th February for failure to register. When his case was called, he commuted contempt of court by quietly calling out for 5 minutes from the public gallery that the defendant did not intend to appear as a defendant, that he did not recognise the authority of the court to prosecute him under an immoral Act. In so doing, he laid himself open to a fine or imprisonment for contempt of court, in addition to a fine of up to $100 for failure to register, or imprisonment for non-payment of such fine. The official court record of 26th February reads:
Mr Vincent (for the Department): I have reason to believe that the defendant is in court but refuses to plead the matter.
Unidentified person speaks from the rear of the court.
Bench warns unidentified person that he may be dealt with for contempt of court.
Affidavit of summons tendered as Exhibit 1. Adjourned to 12 noon 12.3.68 (Not reached).
No action was taken by the court and Chris sailed for England on 3rd March. He was convicted on 12th March. After sailing for England, he wrote on 5th March to the magistrate:
Dear Mr Rodgers, Re: National Service Act 1951-66
I wrote to the Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Bury, on February 23, 1967, that: I believe the National Service Act to be immoral and I cannot comply with any aspect of it’.
My non-co-operation with your Court on February 26, 1968 (when summonsed for failing to register for national service) was in accordance with these beliefs. No disrespect was intended for the officers of the Court as persons.
I sailed for home (England) on March 3 (instead of April 18 as originally planned) and must leave to others the task of urging the repeal of the National Service Act.
The letter was signed by Chris Campbell. I quote this as one example of what a conscientious objector faces. I have other examples but I do not have the time to present them. These cases show that the Minister for Immigration is wrong when he says that these people are only self styled draft dodgers. Chris Campbell certainly is not. He has a reason why he refuses to register, and he did not dodge detection. He informed the authorities that he would not register. There is no need for this inquisitorial amending measure that we are asked to pass today.
The Minister for Immigration opposed our suggestion that there should be the option of a jury trial. He said that if only one of the members of a jury opposed the conscription of a defendant there would have to be a new trial. What a terrible thing. What are juries for? Why is there provision in British law that when there is a ‘hung’ jury the defendant must be given the benefit of the doubt? The Minister also spoke of the difficulty of seeing into a man’s mind and finding out what his conscience is. If this is so difficult, how is it made easy by refusing trial by jury, thus eliminating the possibility of a dissentient voice on a jury? This measure will put the responsibility on one man - a judge. It would be a terrible thing if he, taking the place of a jury, was unsure that a defendant was really conscientiously opposed to this war, and found it against his own conscience to convict a man whose mind be could not read
Suppose the judge decides to be difficult and give the man the benefit of the doubt. After all, this would be in consonance with the principles of British justice, which we are told presupposes that a man is innocent until he is proved guilty. What will the Government do about such a judge? Will it prevent him from hearing these cases? will it order a re-trial? I suggest that this would pose the same problems that the Government suggests would be attendant upon a system of jury trials. The Government has said that if provision is made for a jury trial, there may be one out of twelve jurors in a particular case who will disagree with the other eleven, and this would necessitate a new trial. I suggest it would become the Government a little more if it decided that after two trials, or three trials, or whatever number it decided on, the man concerned shall be given the benefit cf the doubt, on the ground that he has convinced a substantial proportion of the people who make up these juries that he is genuine in his beliefs.
But of course there would be no need for any of these provisions about conscientious objection if there were no call-up - if no marbles were being drawn out of the barrel. Why are we having these call-ups and these ballots? The Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) told us that when Sir Robert Menzies was Prime Minister it was found that the attractions of civil life were so great that people could not be induced to join the Army. This is the same Minister who tells us that only eighty-six people out of 300,000 are objecting to being called up. He says that the attractions of civil life are so great that the Government has to force people to come into the Army. Did this happen in World War 1? Were the attractions of civil life so great that insufficient men could be obtained to man our defence forces in France and in the Middle East, many miles further from Australia than Vietnam is? We are told, of course, that Vietnam is on our doorstep and that the conflict there is threatening the heart of our country. Was it necessary to force people to join the Army in World War I? I remind the House that Australia had a larger proportion of its male population enlisted and under arms than had any of the European countries engaged in the conflict. I suggest, therefore, that we can wipe this argument that the Government puts forward. The only person I know who found the attractions of civil’ life too great in World War I was Lieutenant Robert Gordon Menzies, who resigned his commission because of what he called family commitments, family reasons or private reasons.
– He had four brothers who fought in the war.
– His reasons may have been very good ones. I am not objecting to his refusal to go overseas. I say good luck to him, because I do not believe in conscription. But he is the man who said the attractions of civil life were so great that he had to introduce compulsion, in an undeclared war, when Australia was not being attacked. It was being attacked in World War II, and at that time we had no conscription except for defence forces inside Australia and in the islands immediately adjoining.
The Government may say that in cases of exceptional hardship it will grant exemption from call-up. I just wonder how exceptional was the hardship suffered by Lieutenant Robert Gordon Menzies when he resigned his commission. How exceptional is the hardship of certain honourable members who sit opposite? How exceptional is the hardship of some of their supporters among the Young Liberals whose marbles were not drawn out in the ballot and who are supporting this call-up policy? How exceptional is the hardship which prevents them from volunteering and so eliminating the need for all this inquisitorial business - this business of looking into a man’s conscience?
My predecessor as member for Capricornia, Mr George Gray, was a man who could never be accused of dodging his responsibilities. He was in the Army for many years, including wartime. He has a son in the Regular Army. He had a great admiration for Australia’s forces. He believed they had made the best contribution they could make in the service of their country. He told me that questions had been asked from time to time in this House as to why it was necessary to introduce compulsion, and as to why sufficient inducements had not been held out to obtain volunteers for the Army. We know that only a relatively small proportion of the Australian Army in Vietnam is made up of conscripts. Questions have been asked as to what steps the Government was taking to increase the inducements to men to volunteer. Such inducements could take the form of providing better security for a man’s family, increasing the benefits that he might obtain on completion of his service, increasing his pay while serving. The Government could mount a strenuous recruiting campaign if it considered this was necessary.
The Government has been asked many times why it has not done these things. It has also been asked why there has been such a high failure rate amongst volunteers. It appears that more than half of those who volunteer for the Army are rejected. It took a long time and many questions had to be asked before the reasons for this high failure rate were ascertained. A proportion of failures was due to medical unfitness. Another cause was inability to meet educational requirements. Then there was a hard core of failures - I think the figure was 17% - attributable to what were called ‘other causes’. When these other causes were eventually defined we found that these men were in excess of requirements. If we have volunteers in excess of requirements why must we have conscription? This has never been explained, and my predecessor believed, as I believe, that the real reason for conscription in this country is to prove to the United States of America that we mean business. In effect the Government says to the United States Government: ‘If you can have the draft in your great and powerful country, which is so many thousands of miles further from Asia than Australia is, then to show that we need you here and to prove that we mean business and will stay with you and that we have just as big a stake in this situation, we will also have conscription.’ Only a quarter of those who register are called up, but this is enough to establish a conscription policy.
The Australian Labor Party argues for the right to perform civil service rather than military service in the case of those who have a conscientious objection to doing military service. There are other kinds of national service and there is international service, too. This Government could use these people to build up the defence of Australia by building friendship with countries and people overseas.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– 1 may be reflecting the views of most honourable members on this side, perhaps all of them, if I say that we have just passed through a very long half bour. This is fast becoming a debate that never was, because the Opposition, judging from the speakers it has so far put up - and I say this with respect to them - has shown that the attack on this Bill is lacking in vivacity, is lacking in a sense of purpose and is utterly lifeless. It is hardly surprising that the Opposition’s case against this Bill and the manner of its presentation should be lifeless. I suppose we cannot expect much life from what is fast becoming a political corpse. The life-blood of the Labor Party is seeping out fast. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that it is flowing out. This is amply demonstrated by the weak and disconnected arguments that have been advanced in this debate by honourable members opposite.
The honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) will pardon me if I say, as I now do, that I found it very difficult to follow the thread of his argument, if he had one. I doubt that I am being uncharitable when I say that he had no argument at all. He said only one thing of any significance, and it was something of very startling significance. He said it in reply to an interjection that I politely addressed to him. He said unequivocally that he, a member of this Parliament, supports people who commit infractions of the national service legislation as it affects the war in Vietnam. The honourable member sits silent as I summarise what he has said. He therefore agrees that I have not misstated his position.
– I am not silent now.
– A member of the parliamentary Opposition has in this House this afternoon openly counselled people to break the law because of political opposition to the war in Vietnam. I would have thought that that brings the Australian Labor Party to an even lower ebb than that which we have become accustomed to believing it1 has reached. Every member of the Parliament owes a bounden duty to support the rule of law, even though he for political reasons may think it is an unjust law. No man in this country, least of all a member of this Parliament, should regard himself as being at liberty to counsel people to break the law or to support people who break the law for political reasons, as the honourable member for Capricornia has done this afternoon. We have come to know that the honourable member is pretty zany in a political sense, and he continues to astonish. The honourable member for that reason put up a pretty poor performance this afternoon. I do not hear much dissent being uttered from the other parts of the Labor benches when I say that.
The matters raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) can be summarised in this way: He said firstly that the legislation should be amended so as to permit people to claim exemption from service on the ground that they have st conscientious objection founded on political grounds to a particular war. We know that there are several forms of conscientious objection. I suppose that my honourable and learned friend, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), could be said to have a conscientious objection to certain rules or to certain bodies of the Australian Labor Party. It is a conscientious political objection. He is entitled to voice his objection. Anybody is entitled to voice political objections to legislation and to try to change the law, but if one allowed conscientious objection to military service on purely political grounds one would be lending one’s aid to the subversion of the rule of law. Conscientious objection to military service should be allowed on religious or philosophical grounds. As my honourable friend, the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden), said this afternoon, nobody can seriously contend to the contrary of the proposition that conscientious objection to military service on religious or philosophical grounds is proper and good and should be recognised. If one were to accede to the principal proposition put by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition this afternoon, if one were to accede to the idea that a person should be allowed to claim exemption from military service because he objects to a particular war, one would be recognising not religious or philosophical conscientious objection but purely political conscientious objection.
It’ is fundamental to the working of our parliamentary democracy or any parliamentary democracy that once the lawgiving authority has made the law the subject owes a duty to obey the law and cannot be permitted to set himself up in opposition, to the law on purely political grounds. Political objection is not a passport to infractions of the law. Therein lies the fundamental fallacy of the Opposition’s case against this Bill. If a person opposes a particular war and says: ‘I object to fighting in the war in Vietnam’, he is doing no more than express purely political opposition. I understand and fully recognise that this is a view that is conscientiously held. I do not agree with it, but many people hold it. They are not by any means the majority, as we know from the results of several elections. However, if there are people, as we know there are, who conscientiously hold political objections to the war in Vietnam and if they are of call-up age, their duty is clear. Their remedy lies through the ballot box and not through any other means. It is, therefore, disgraceful - a strong word to use but I use it - for a member of the Parliament such as the honourable member for Capricornia to counsel people to break the law and to infringe against the national service legislation on purely political grounds.
– It is almost seditious.
– I do not dissent from that view. The honourable member for Capricornia may not have intended to convey the meaning that he did. One sometimes wonders whether he really intends or understands the full significance of what he says on political issues and we should perhaps temper our criticism with a little charity. That is my attempt, and I suggest it is an attempt well found in principle, to answer the main argument advanced against this measure by the Opposition this afternoon.
We have heard something about trial by jury in the course of this debate. The suggestion is that in the future a person who commits an offence against section 51a, as it will be when the legislation is enacted, will be entitled to a trial by jury. I want to examine this proposition to demonstrate how utterly threadbare it is. Let me remind the House, if I may, that sub-section (1.) of proposed new section 51a says this:
Where a notice has, whether before or after the commencement of the National Service Act 1968, been served on a person under section 26 of this Act-
I interpolate to say that that is a call-up notice: and the person fails to render the service that he is liable to render under this Act in the Regular Army Supplement, the person is guilty of an offence and, upon conviction, shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a period equal to the period of service that he is so liable to render.
Sub-section (3.) of the proposed new section says:
An offence against this section is punishable on summary conviction and not otherwise.
Honourable members will see, when they bear in mind that the maximum period of national service is 2 years, that the effect of this provision will be to render a person who fails to obey a call-up notice liable to imprisonment for a period of up to 2 years upon conviction by a court of summary jurisdiction, there being no right to trial by jury. The great catch cry of the Australian Labor Party on this part of the Bill at the moment is that people charged with such an offence should be entitled to have their trial before a jury.
– Why not?
– The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith, inquisitively and attractively as always, interjects and asks: *Why not?’ Let me tell him why not.
– I would like to get the information.
– We know that the honourable member is much in need of information. The simple inescapable fact is that a person charged with this offence will have to answer a case in which the Crown’s proof consists of three simple matters. First, the Crown will have to prove that a notice under section 26 of the Act has been served. In 19 years experience of the law I have never found it difficult or controversial to prove service of a notice. It is the simplest matter of proof. Even the learned Leader of the Opposition would not dissent from that statement. The next matter to be proved will be that the accused person is liable to render service. This is a simple matter of proving the age of the person concerned. The third matter requiring-proof will be that he has failed to render service. I should have thought that this would be easy of proof; but more importantly, it would be virtually non-controversial.
These are simple issues of fact which would arise in the prosecution of a charge under the proposed new section and in relation to which no sharp issue of credit or credibility would be likely to emerge. Therefore, for the Opposition to talk in that context of the necessity for trial by jury is, with all respect, just so much rubbish. If I may speak metaphorically, the Opposition is seeking to bring in a sledge hammer to crack a nut. I am one who strongly believes in the retention of the jury system but I do not believe that if one advocates the retention of the jury system one must advance the proposition that every criminal case, however trivial and however simple the issues may be, should be tried by jury if justice is to be done. In short, I say that the provisions of proposed new section 51a, introduced by clause 20 of the Bill, are not of such a character as to make it necessary in the interests of justice that a trial by jury should be available to a person charged.
The next matter is the onus of proof. That subject was dealt with by the Minister, for Immigration (Mr Snedden). It is idle, indeed pointless, for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) to contend that the onus of proving that a person has a conscientious objection to military service should, as it were, lie upon the Crown. The questions and issues of fact involved in such an issue are matters known only to the person who claims to have the objection. He speaks of what is in his mind and in his soul. To contend, as did the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that it is unfair to provide that the onus of proof should be on the applicant or contender is not realistic. In the main, the Bill enacts a number of provisions which have been shown to be desirable and necessary in the light of practical experience in the operation of the national service scheme. Some of the provisions - indeed most of them - are provisions to which the Opposition does not object at all or, if it does, it does not argue seriously about them. The Minister for Immigration went through them one by one and as he did so it emerged that very few of them are controversial so far as the Opposition is concerned.
What the Opposition has done in this debate has been to use the occasion for a lukewarm, lifeless, lack lustre trotting out of Labor’s old slogans about being opposed to national service and the war in Vietnam. It is all very threadbare and unenlightening. Whether one likes it or not, the defence of this country and where that defence should be carried out depends upon the availability of an efficient Regular Army and Regular Army Supplement which in turn depends integrally for their efficiency and fighting force upon the national service system.
– The honourable member for Capricornia wakes up for a moment to ask why. If he knew - I would have thought that any reasonably lively political person would know this - the position in relation to recruitment for the Regular Army in 1964 when the decision to introduce national service had to be taken, he would not be so silly as to ask that question. I repeat that as far as the Opposition is concerned this is a debate that never was, and I suspect that the Opposition in its present disarray will continue to perform on this subject in the same sorry way as have its members who so far have spoken in this debate. I support the principles of the measure before the House.
[5.28)- I waited until now to speak on the Bill so that I should have the opportunity of hearing the honourable and learned member for Parkes (Mr Hughes) and the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden), who formerly , was the AttorneyGeneral and who opened the debate for the Government this afternoon.
On Tuesday of last week I asked the Minister, as the Acting Attorney-General, a question which both he and the honourable member for Parkes have now discussed. I asked the Minister whether he could cite any other Commonwealth statute under which a person could be sentenced to 2 years imprisonment without having the option of trial by jury. Neither of the two honourable and learned gentlemen has yet quoted such a case. The Minister for Immigration today gave an explanation for not having trial by jury for these offences. He said that if a single juror had a conscientious objection to conscription for Vietnam, the jury could disagree and the law would be frustrated. I have yet to learn that because many jurors - and probably most jurors - are conscientiously opposed to capital punishment we should therefore abolish jury trials for capital crimes. The honourable member for Parkes advanced the argument that in cases under this legislation the matter for determination would be simple and noncontroversial. He implied that failure to accept service of a notice would be an automatic offence and that there could be only one verdict. In no other legislation, however, do we impose automatic 2-year sentences for automatic offences. I repeat that we are left with the situation in which a quite unprecedented amendment to Commonwealth legislation is being sought. There is no other statute of this Parliament under which people are liable to a normal 2-year prison sentence on the determination of a magistrate and not a jury.
I asked the Minister for Immigration another relevant question. He did not answer it, when I put it to him, nor did he answer it today, and the honourable member for Parkes failed to answer it today. Some amendments were circulated 2 hours ago. I therefore make two small amendments to the question which I asked on this point 13 days ago. The question, in its amended form, reads:
The National Service Bill proposes to impose obligations on the principals of universities, colleges and schools to furnish the names, addresses and dates of birth of present or former students and to require similar information about 20-year-olds, named or unnamed, from persons or officials of organisations of which 20-year-olds are likely to be clients or members - presumably from hospitals, unions, ^porting clubs, churches, banks and hire purchase companies. Will the honourable gentleman give or prepare references to any similar wide ranging inquisitorial legislation of this Parliament?
The honourable gentleman did not do so then and he has not done so this afternoon. The honourable member for Parkes has not given any such references either. The only two qualified persons on the Government side of the chamber who are listed to speak on this Bill have to admit that in these two respects this legislation is completely without parallel. I shall come back in greater detail to four particularly obnoxious clauses, but first I propose to make some general remarks about the Bill to put it in the proper perspective of parliamentary democracy and jurisprudence in this country.
Few bills have been brought to this Parliament with so many objectionable provisions. Few bills have been introduced with so little explanation or justification. This legislation seriously curtails the right to trial by jury; it imposes a range of new and stringent penalties; it further limits the rights and expands the liabilities of conscientious objectors; in its present form, it involves parents, teachers, churches, clubs, youth organisations, commercial undertakings and employers in a whole new network of interrogation and inquisition; it compels employers to act as informers; it gives to departmental officers new powers of interrogation and inquisition, summons and hearing; it restricts rights of travel, and imposes unprecedented obligations on travel companies, travel agents and their employees. There cannot have been many Bills introduced into this Parliament which have attempted to curtail so many established rights or conventions. In the Englishspeaking legislatures, only those of South Africa and Rhodesia attempt such legislation today. Yet all this is to be done after only a perfunctory attempt to explain the need for it to be done.
The Government has reviewed the legislation again within the last fortnight. We have been told by the Press that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has given some attention to the measure. A Minister and a distinguished lawyer on the Government side have spoken this afternoon, but we have been given no justification or explanation additional to that which we heard a fortnight ago from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury). As the
Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) has explained, we oppose this Bill and will seek to secure its amendment. We oppose not only the substantial provisions of the Bill; we oppose its whole spirit, its harsh, intolerant, inquisitorial spirit. It represents a drastic departure from the spirit of our laws and the traditions of our country and all the rest of the English speaking world. Nothing that the Minister has said could possibly justify such a departure.
Ostensibly the Bill is designed to close loopholes in the existing Act, to prevent what the Minister describes as ‘draft dodging’. lt is also aimed at penalising those whom the Minister cynically calls ‘selfstyled conscientious objectors’. The Minister says: ‘A small number are seeking to evade or are defaulting in their obligations’. The Parliament and the people will not condone law breaking. If the people do not like a particular law they change the law makers. - But in a measure of such serious implications as this one, Parliament and people are . certainly entitled to have some idea of the actual extent of the law breaking that may be going on. It is not enough for the Minister to refer loftily to a small handful. We are entitled to have some idea of the actual size of this ‘handful’. Is it numbered in scores or hundreds or thousands? The number is not impossible to estimate. The Minister knows the number who have registered. He gives the figure as 326,000. His Department presumably has some general idea of the number of youths in the relevant age groups. This surely is central to the Government’s case.
Unless there is very great law breaking, an amending measure such as this cannot be justified. Only by proving that evasion is on a really large and serious scale would it be possible to justify such serious departures from traditional practices as this Bill contains. I repeat and emphasise that this Bill is not just a tightening up of existing laws. It introduces an altogether new spirit and meaning into the law. If this law aimed simply at tightening up some loopholes in the existing Act. one or all of three procedures would be open to the Government: Better administrative methods; minor amendments to the Act; or increased penalties to cover especially obvious or glaring breaches. But this is not what the Government proposes. Nor does it explain why these, or a combination of all or any of these, would not be sufficient for all reasonable purposes. Instead, it brings down revolutionary legislation with the minimum of explanation.
I said that I would deal with four clauses in particular. The first one to which I refer is clause 20, which relates to juries. It has already been pointed out by the Press and interested persons that the Minister, in his second reading speech, avoided mentioning many of the basic and worst features of the Bill. It is incredible but true that no-one reading or hearing the speech would realise without referring to the Bill that a penalty of up to 2 years imprisonment could be imposed without right of trial by jury. Yet this is what is proposed under proposed new sections 51. (4.) and 51a (3.) in clause 20 of the Bill. No other legislation of the Commonwealth imposes imprisonment for 2 years, on a summary conviction, without right of trial by jury. The Australian Labor Party has again and again successfully asserted the principle that trials involving what could be called political or loyalty offences should take place before a judge and jury. As long ago as 1960 the Crimes Act was amended to conform with this principle. One would have thought that the example of the Crimes Act was particularly relevant as it applied in the 1960 amendment to offences involving what we may call political or loyalty offences. The Government would have us believe that offences under the National Service Act involve the same kind of behaviour. The Crimes Act was aimed at offences involving treason, treachery, sabotage, espionage, communicating or retaining or receiving official secrets. The Government also accepted the principle last May in relation to the Narcotic Drugs Act and the Customs Act, and last August in relation to the Wireless Telegraphy Act and the Defence Force Protection Act. During the debate on the Defence Force Protection Bill on 31st August last year the Attorney-General established what I would have thought was a commanding precedent. In rejecting an amendment of mine, but moving one of his own, he said:
The amendment which has just been moved by the Leader of the Opposition would give an option of trial by jury in not only the case presently provided for - summary conviction punishable by 12 months imprisonment, with which we would be inclined to agree- but also in the case of summary conviction where the penalty is 6 months imprisonment. The cases cited by the Leader of the Opposition-
That is, those under the Narcotic Drugs Act, the Customs Act and the Wireless Telegraphy Act - were cases in which, on summary conviction, the magistrate might have been able to impose a sentence of imprisonment for 12 months.
Clearly, then, in the debate on that Defence Force Protection Bill last August the Attorney-General was stating as a principle that offences for which the penalty had to be less than 12 months could be dealt with summarily but that offences attracting a penalty of 12 months or more should properly be heard by a jury if the defendant required. Yet this Bill provides that the two offences of failure to comply with a call-up notice and failure to render service are punishable on summary conviction and not otherwise. Here is a clear departure from a clear principle, clearly stated by the Government’s principal legal officer. Yet the Minister offers no justification. He does not even mention such a departure in his second reading speech. One has to go to the Bill to see the import and to note this gross omission.
A conviction and gaol sentence under this legislation would affect the whole subsequent career and life of the offender, lt could seriously affect his eligibility for a profession. It could preclude him forever from a whole range of appointments. When such consequences are involved, surely the case for jury trial is overwhelming.
Sitting suspended from 5.42 to 8 p.m.
– I now come to the infamous clauses 21 and 22. Five hours ago amendments, which the Minister proposes to move in Committee, were circulated. Public opinion has compelled him already to make some modifications to these clauses. However the clauses still remain unacceptable and obnoxious. Clause 21 requires individuals to give information. Clause 22 requires educational institutions to give information. It is true that the individuals who have to give information no longer are to be members of the family, ministers of religion, lawyers or doctors.
But the position still remains that other individuals, including office bearers of any organisation, are required to give information in an unprecedented way. This is the only Act whereby suspected law breakers have to be informed on or detected by these methods.
I shall illustrate what can happen. Educational institutions have to give information about persons, not only who are students now, but who have been students. Persons who are now twenty years of age would have been students at some educational institutions as far back as 5 or 6 years ago. All their records can be disclosed now. Furthermore it is possible for individuals who are office bearers of organisations to be required to give all this- information. They can be officer bearers of hospitals, unions or sporting clubs; they can be officials of banks, hire purchase organisations, department stores operating credit facilities, political organisations, scouting organisations and even social organisations such as the Young Liberals Movement. A very large number of organisations in the community keep special records for minors. Such organisations charge lower membership fees and require financial guarantees. Any such- minors, accordingly, would be ones about whom officers of a great variety of organisations would keep records. This Act requires the information in those records to be handed over. Some fears may be allayed by the fact that there are now safeguards for confidential communications to ministers of religion. A large number of religious organisations cater for young people, and records can be obtained from them without obtaining the records from ministers of religion.
Most honourable members will have received - certainly the Minister, to my knowledge, has received, as I have received -copies of resolutions passed by church youth organisations throughout Australia protesting against the restrictions on conscientious objection, or against the Bill or against conscription for the war in Vietnam. These petitions and resolutions have come not only from general bodies such as the Student Christian Movement, Pax, the Young Methodists Association and the Presbyterian Fellowship Association but from local and readily identifiable branches of these nationwide movements. In many cases they come from small groups in a suburb or provincial centre, with a membership of perhaps 20 or 30 young people. All the males who attended their meetings and passed the resolutions would be readily identifiable. Their names, dates of birth and places of residence would be well known to the secretary of the body concerned, who can be required to give information about such persons. It would be a most obvious course for an officer, acting under the powers given to the Department of Labour and National Service by the Bill, to require access to the records of such a church group. Similarly one can readily understand that in other organisations there are identifiable groups of young people about whom information can be required to be given.
The concluding clause I will mention is clause 26, which affords a glaring example of how the Minister has glossed over the true implications of the Bill. The Minister said:
The Bill recasts the present provision simply to require that an employer shall notify my Department of any person in his employ whom he has reason to believe is a defaulter.
The Minister even implies that the provision has been inserted at the request of the Australian Council of Churches. The Council is concerned only that conscientious objectors should not be deprived of their livelihood. It is not concerned that employers should act as informers. This, however, is the consequence of the new section 35. An employer will be bound, under a penalty of $400, to inform on any employee who he has reason to believe may’ be a defaulter. Clearly this must have an inhibiting effect on the employment of any youth in the relevant age group. Nor is it difficult to envisage a situation where a disgruntled employee will inform on an innocent employer simply to embarrass him.
All this is implicit in the whole spirit of the legislation. This is a truly modern provision, the true creature of the twentieth century, the century where pimping is erected into patriotism, where informing is a virtue, where ordinary group loyalty becomes a species of national disloyalty and where teachers and employers are dragged into one vast State apparatus of tittle-tattle under the law.
Many men commit offences against the State. Are we to suggest that their employers and the organisations to which they belong have to inform on them and make available records about them? In no other case do we do it, but here officers of the Department of Labour and National Service will be able to summons any individual officer of any organisation and get information. If there is an employer concerned he has to volunteer the information. He has to become a member of an investigation or intelligence organisation.
New section 56a, also being inserted by clause 26, imposes obligations and threatens penalties on travel companies, travel agencies and the employees of both. In practice the obligation will fall on employees of such agents - the people who, for the most part, actually handle the travel arrangements. Surely all that needs to be done is to make the issuing of a passport conditional on possession of the appropriate certificate. Why is it necessary to involve travel agents in this matter of detection, under threat of such unprecedented penalties?
Not the least disturbing feature of the Minister’s speech is his almost total failure to distinguish between draft dodgers and conscientious objectors. The Minister lumps them together. It is the very nature of the present system of national service which encourages draft dodging. It is a lottery. By its very nature it is unfair. The Minister gives figures which show spectacularly how unfairly the incidence of this system falls. The Minister said that 326,000 have registered and 23,000 have been enlisted, a ratio of 14 to 1. The whole thing is a gamble. The odds against an eligible person actually having to perform his national service are very high indeed. A system which depends on a lottery will never have very much moral compulsion or patriotic assent.
The impropriety of draft dodging is just one gross example of the impropriety of the whole system. The problem of genuine conscientious objection is quite different. The Government is attempting to close the door on all but the narrowest form of conscientious objection at a very time when public opinion and world events are forcing a broadening of our whole concept of conscientious objection. We are coming to accept that men who are neither pacifists nor believers may have a valid and allcompelling objection to a particular war. The general trend has been towards a greater acceptance of the claims of conscience and a greater sensibility for the conscientious beliefs of others. This Bill is an attempt to reverse that trend. Vet even at the height of the Second World War we did not find it necessary to impose the penalties or use the methods which this Bill seeks to introduce. Even the Liberal Party did not advocate these methods at that time.
Perhaps the whole clue to this legislation can be found in that paragraph of the Minister’s speech which deals with the burning of draft cards. He said:
Honourable members will recall the demonstrations against national service which were accompanied by deliberate burning or destroying of registration certificates; the certificate is the key document of a national service registrant. While these demonstrations have abated, the opportunity is being taken to cure deficiencies in the present legislation.
The penalty for destroying a card is now to be $200. The value of the card will be $200. No news editor at this time would bother to send a photographer or a reporter to report a draft card burning now, but when the card becomes worth $200 he will do so. What priceless publicity the Government and the draft dodgers, for their own various reasons, will get out of this value being put on the draft card. How nonsensical is the situation created by the Government. One can deface national monuments and flags without penalty, yet the draft card - this official form - is to be built up as the most valuable national symbol in our community.
This whole legislation is designed, and 1 believe deliberately designed, to increase dissent and destroy unity in the Australian community. If one seeks the true motivation of this extraordinary legislation, one has to seek it in the present situation of the Government. This is a Government desperately divided on all matters of defence. This is a Government whose whole defence and foreign policy lies in ruins. It cannot lay down a defence plan for the next year, let alone the next 3 years. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) has absolved himself of that responsibility. The Prime Minister has told his followers at their party meeting that he cannot determine the broad lines of Australia’s defence policy until he has been told what the various candidates for the American Presidency think that America’s role should be in the event of one or other of them being elected President. The Prime Minister has never made a speech in this House on defence, and he will not be speaking on this Bill. He will not take the public, or even the Parliament, into his confidence.
The Minister for Defence produced to the Cabinet some sort of plan to cover the situation over the next few years. The heart was tom out of bis speech and he brought into this House 2 days later a quite meaningless, empty, pointless document which can be regarded only as an apology for his failure to produce any plan at all. So the Government finds itself deeply divided about all aspects of defence and foreign policy. But there is one thing that will always unite its ranks, and that is an easy show of crude patriotism’ here at home. Fumbling abroad, the Government will be firm with our dissidents at home. The less able members opposite are to agree on what should be done for the security of this country, the more they will insist that total agreement with anything they choose to do within this country is the definition of patriotism and loyalty. Embarrassed by the prospects of peace in Vietnam, they will show their bitterness towards the youth who have had to fight their wars, and particularly to those who have dissented from this war. When, for the first time for a decade, the whole world sees a glimmer of hope for peace in Vietnam, the Government is legislating to crush dissent about the war in Vietnam. When, for the first time in 2 years, the people of Australia see some prospect of bringing our soldiers home from Vietnam, the Government chooses to show its determination to crush those who do not want to go there.
But this legislation should not be seen merely in terms of our present situation, neither in Vietnam nor in the disunity in the Government over defence, nor just in terms of our contemporary defence needs. It must be seen also in the terms of all that we want this country to be. We want it to be a country where tolerance, justice and democracy prevail. This legislation represents a new departure from well established principles of tolerance, justice and democracy as we have known them in
Australia, even in war time, and as we have known them in English speaking countries for generations. The plant of tolerance in Australia is a fairly fragile one. The pressures towards conformity are great. We should not lightly strike a blow at this plant of tolerance. We should not lightly legislate to increase pressures towards conformity. In particular, we should pause before legislating to add additional crimes in the name of patriotism. Democracy cannot be defended by limiting it. Patriotism cannot be compelled by law. National unity cannot be enacted.
Debate (on motion by Mr Killen) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Freeth, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament to the borrowing by the Commonwealth of 16.8m Deutsche marks - $A3.75m - from the Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, to assist in financing the purchase of four Fokker Friendship quick change aircraft by the Australian National Airlines Commission. These aircraft, which can be converted quickly for the carriage of passengers or freight, will replace DC3 and DCM freighters which are now obsolete and costly to maintain. Trans-Australia Airlines intends to sell the old aircraft as soon as possible.
The agreement is quite straightforward in principle and the general arrangements for the borrowing are similar to those approved by Parliament for other loans for Qantas Airways and TAA in recent years. One unusual feature is that the definitive text of the agreement is in German. This text is shown as the schedule to the Bill. Copies of an English translation of the text are available to honourable members and, at the conclusion of this speech, I will seek leave of the House to have the translation incorporated in Hansard in order to have a permanent record.
The Commonwealth will be the borrower in the first place, and the full proceeds of the loan will be made available to TAA on terms and conditions to be determined by the Treasurer pursuant to clause 7 of the Bill. These terms and conditions will bc the same as those under which the Commonwealth itself borrows the money. As the airline will be required to meet all charges under the loan agreement, the Commonwealth will, as usual, merely assume the function of an intermediary in these arrangements.
The amount outstanding under the loan will bear interest at a rate of 6f% per annum until 31st December 1970. From 1st January 1971 until 31st December 1973 interest on the reduced amounts then outstanding will be at a rate of 3 J% above the official discount rate of the German Central Bank, but, in any event, not less than 6i% or more than 71% per annum. The overall average interest cost of the borrowing will be a minimum of 6.65% per annum and a maximum of 7.04% per annum. Variable interest rates are becoming a normal feature in oversea borrowing operations now. The average interest rate will be high by historical standards but compares very favourably with rates being paid overseas by other borrowers in foreign capital markets.
The drawdown period for the loan extends to 31st December 1968, and a commitment fee of i% per annum is payable on the undrawn amount of the loan. Repayment of the loan will be made in ten equal half-yearly instalments from June 1969 to December 1973. The borrowing will be authorised under the 1967-68 programme approved for the Commonwealth at the Australian Loan Council meeting In June 1967 and will be additional to the Commonwealth’s approved programme of $!23m for State housing purposes. The terms and conditions of the loan have been approved by the Loan Council.
Where possible, it has been our policy to borrow overseas for the financing of foreign aircraft purchases by Qantas and TAA, and this is the eighth occasion on which parliamentary approval has been sought for a borrowing by the Commonwealth on behalf of TAA. The earlier loans provided the equivalent of S50m for the expansion of TAA’s aircraft fleet. The equivalent of $40m of this amount has been drawn and the equivalent of $10m has already been repaid.
While the present loan is for a comparatively small amount, it will make a further contribution towards financing an important step in the modernisation of TAA’s fleet. It would, of course, be much more convenient if we could borrow our requirements overseas in a small number of sizeable amounts. However, borrowing conditions overseas have been particularly difficult in the last few years and it has become a case of arranging a scries of borrowings each year, some of them comparatively small, which have in total been of considerable assistance to our balance of payments.
Another point is that, while the average interest rate is much higher than we would have contemplated a few years back, the interest we now earn overseas on the investment of our international reserves is also much higher than we would have believed possible some years ago. Indeed, the rate of interest we will be paying on the new loan is not particularly higher than the interest now available from some of the comparatively short term foreign investments we would have to forgo if we were to draw on our international reserves in order to pay cash for the aircraft. I commend the Bill to honourable members and seek leave of the House to incorporate in Hansard the English translation of the agreement.
– While not objecting to the incorporation in Hansard of the English translation of the agreement I point out that if the Schedule had been in English it would not be necessary to incorporate it in Hansard. The Schedule is part of the Bill, and the Bill is not incorporated in Hansard. 1 raised this point only recently in relation to the incorporation in Hansard of a memorandum. As I have said, 1 do not refuse leave on this occasion, but I do submit that a most irregular practice is being adopted. If the Schedule had been in English it would have been in the Bill in that form and it would not be necessary to incorporate it in Hansard. The Schedule, as translated into English, is now to be incorporated in Hansard because the Schedule appearing in the Bill is in German. The incorporation in Hansard of a Schedule to a
Bill does not seem to me to be consistent with the principles followed in incorporating matter in Hansard.
– There is a very simple explanation of this matter. I sought permission of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) to have the English translation incorporated in Hansard. That permission was given. I had not envisaged that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) would raise the points to which he has referred. If the honourable member examines the English translation of the agreement he will see why it is necessary mat the agreement which appears as the Schedule to the Bill should be in German. The simple fact is that the letter of offer from the Deutsche Bank, as translated into English, reads:
The enclosed English translation of this credit offer is given as a matter of courtesy only, the German version alone being the governing text of the contract.
It is obvious that for the purpose of the Bill we must annex the governing text of the contract. It is sought to have the English translation incorporated in Hansard so that honourable members may know what we are talking about.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Failes)Order! There being no objection, leave is granted.
– It was my intention to ask a question or to seek a ruling on this matter under the Standing Orders. I fully appreciate what the Minister for Air (Mr Freeth) has said. I appreciate also that the offer is in German. But I am concerned that here in a Bill we have a Schedule which some of us, whose knowledge of German may not be up to date, cannot follow.. We are looking at a piece of proposed legislation the Schedule to which is unintelligible to us. We should not be asked, when considering a Bill of this nature, to refer to the Hansard record.
-Order! I draw the honourable member’s attention to the fact that leave has been granted. The matter he now seeks to raise might more suitably be raised during the debate on the second reading of the Bill.
– The English translation of the Schedule to the Bill reads:
We refer to previous correspondence and are pleased to submit the following offer:
The enclosed English translation of this credit offer is given as a matter of courtesy only, the German version alone being the governing text of the contract.
To confirm the acceptence of this credit offer, please return the enclosed copy duly executed on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Freeth, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to introduce two separate provisions into the act which governs the conditions relating to most Australian loans raised overseas. The first provision, which is set out in clause 3 of the Bill, will clarify the Australian securities issued overseas. The second provision, in cause 4 of the Bill, will enable the introduction of new and simplified procedures for transferring Commonwealth stock already on issue in London.
Section 6b of the Loans Securities Act already provides that payments of interest and principal on Commonwealth securities issued overseas are to be exempt from Australian taxes when the Commonwealth gives such an undertaking at the time the securities are issued. The only exception is where the payments are made to residents of Australia or of the Territories of Papua or New Guinea. When that provision was introduced in1959, it was explained to the House that overseas loan agreements completed by the Commonwealth normally provide that repayment of principal and payments of interest will be exempt from Australian taxes except when beneficially made to residents of Australia or the Territories of Papua or New Guinea. Exemption from taxation of all payments to overseas lenders is in accordance with long established practices in foreign borrowing operations in overseas markets.
It is also a normal requirement that the Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department should provide an opinion, satisfactory to the lenders, to the effect that the loan agreement is a valid and legally binding obligation of the Commonwealth. This opinion customarily includes a specific reference to that portion of the agreement providing for exemption of interest and principal payments from Australian taxes, and mentions section 6b of the Loans Securities Act as a statutory provision that confirms the binding character of the Commonwealth’s undertaking in regard to tax exemption.
However, on some more recent occasions, the lenders have sought a specific undertaking in the Loan Agreement to the effect that the commitment fee payable on undrawn amounts of a loan will also be free from Australian taxes. Section 6b of the Loans Securities Act does not render effective such an undertaking if it is inconsistent with any relevant law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory. Consequently it has been found necessary several times in the past to make special arrangements to give effect to these undertakings, usually by incorporating a specific clause in any legislation relating to a loan. Clause 3 (a) of the Bill accordingly gives legal effect to an undertaking by the Commonwealth that payments, in addition to principal and interest, made in respect of Commonwealth securities issued overseas, will be exempt from Australian taxes.
The provision has been drawn to cover any payments including commitment fee in order to meet the possibility that a future agreement might require an undertaking concerning other payments. The remainder of clause 3 of the Bill is to amend the existing section 6b (2) to provide beyond any possible doubt that the effectiveness of section 6b is not limited by the recent amendment of the Income Tax Assessment Act whereby withholding tax was imposed on interest payments to non-residents. The references to the other taxes, such as estate and gift duties, are in the existing legislation.
Clause 4 of the Bill will allow the Registrar of Stock in London to introduce new procedures for transferring Commonwealth stock already on issue in the United Kingdom. Commonwealth stock now on issue in the United Kingdom is registered under the British Colonial Stock Acts of 1877 and 1892. While these Acts provide for a registrar to prescribe the procedure for transactions in stock, before any particular stock is issued, the transfers have to be effected by deed. This restriction was removed by the Colonial Stock Act of 1948, which permitted transfers of stock registered under the earlier Acts to be made by instrument in writing, provided that each dominion or colony concerned gave legislative authority for its registrar to implement the simplified form of transfer.
At the time, the Commonwealth did not introduce legislation to take advantage of the new provision because in practice there was little difference in the procedures to be followed for the transfer of stock. However, in 1963 the United Kingdom Government passed the Stock Transfer Act which prescribed much simpler transfer procedures for domestic issues. The authorities suggested that all issuers adopt the new procedure, which dispensed with the transferee’s signature on the transfer document and with the need for the transferor’s signature to be witnessed. The majority of foreign borrowers in the United Kingdom have now adopted the new procedure. Clause 4 of the Bill will empower the Registrar in London to take advantage of the authority in the Colonial Stock Act 1948 to have transfers of stock already on issue made by instrument in writing instead of deed. The instrument in writing could then follow the simplified arrangements regarding signatures adopted by the United Kingdom Government under The Stock Transfer Act of 1963. 1 commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Freeth, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill seeks Parliament’s approval of a supplemental agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland to permit additional financial assistance of up to $600,000 to be made available to the State in respect of the CollinsvilleTowns.villeMount lsa railway project.
Under the agreement approved by the Railway Agreement (Queensland) Act 1961, the Commonwealth undertook to provide the State with loan finance up to a limit of $40m to meet two-thirds of the cost of improving this railway. The project was completed in 1965 at a cost well below the original estimate of S60m, and the Commonwealth was called upon to provide $34.5m. In accordance with the terms of the agreement, repayment of the loan and the payment of interest commenced on 30th June 1965 and will continue over 20 years. Certain claims against the State by one of the contractors engaged on the project had not been settled by 30th June 1965. Because of the terms of the agreement, further assistance could not be provided to the State under the agreement after that date.
Following arbitration proceedings, the claims have since been settled and the State has requested a further advance from the Commonwealth of approximately $600,000 in respect of them. The claims related to expenditure on work which undoubtedly would have been admissible under the 1961 Agreement, and would therefore have qualified for Commonwealth assistance had settlement of the claims been possible by 30th June 1965. We consider that the delayed settlement of the claims should not deprive the State of Commonwealth financial assistance in respect of this expenditure. The supplemental agreement annexed to this Bill extends the original agreement to provide for a further advance of up to $600,000 to the State, and for the State to repay this advance by 31st December 1984, the date on which the repayment of amounts advanced under the original agreement will be completed. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Charles Jones) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Freeth, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to seek Parliament’s approval to the Commonwealth entering into an agreement with Tasmania for the provision of financial assistance to the State towards the cost of carrying out an accelerated programme of hydroelectric development based on the resources of the Gordon River area in the south-west region of the State. The works comprising the programme include the completion of works already under way in the lower Derwent and Mersey-Forth areas, the construction of a 120-megawatt thermal station in the vicinity of Bell Bay, and the carrying out of stage I of the multi-stage Gordon River power development.
In April last year the Tasmanian Premier asked the Commonwealth Government to provide financial assistance for the purpose of carrying out the undertaking. We were advised at that time that, on the basis of forward planning by the main industrial enterprises operating in Tasmania, an investment programme totalling $212m over the 5-year period ending on 30th June 1972 would be necessary to cater for the expanding electricity demand in the State. We were also advised, however, that the State faced a difficult financing problem in relation to the overall programme. The problem is essentially one of financing the abnormally heavy investment expenditures required during the early years of the construction programme, before any electricity can be produced from it. This is not an unusual feature in projects of this nature, and the Commonwealth Government accepted the Premier’s contention that, without some Commonwealth financial assistance, the State would be unable to finance the temporary hump in investment by the Hydro-Electric Commission which the overall programme would require.
The State Government calculated that it could find approximately §l65m towards the $212m 5-year programme. This left a gap of $47m, and it was in respect of this short-fall that the State approached the Commonwealth for assistance. In order to bridge this gap, which mainly occurs in the first 3 years of the programme, the Commonwealth indicated that it would be prepared to lend the State such amounts, up to an overall maximum of $47m, as may be necessary to complete the programme of development in accordance with the construction timetable. The Commonwealth’s offer was on the understanding that the State itself would take any steps which seemed appropriate to ensure that the amount to be contributed from its own resources would be as large as reasonably practicable.
In line with the nature of the State’s financing problem, the Commonwealth’s assistance will be of a temporary or bridging character, as indicated in the proposed agreement attached to the Bill. The loans made by the Commonwealth to the State will be repayable half-yearly over a period of 8 years, the first instalment to be repaid on 15th December 1972, and the last instalment on 15th June 1980. However, there is provision in the proposed agreement for the State to seek the deferment of any of the instalments falling due during the first 3 years of the repayment period, if a financing problem arises in this period. In this case, the repayment period would be extended beyond 15th June 1980 by the number of half-yearly instalments deferred.
The proposed agreement provides that interest on the Commonwealth loans to be made to the State will be payable halfyearly on 15th June and 15th December at the maximum rate authorised by the Australian Loan Council, at the date each loan is made, for private borrowings by semi-governmental authorities for a period of 8 years. This is the rate which the Hydro-Electric Commission would have to pay if it arranged the finance itself. Also included are the usual provisions relating to such matters as arrangements for making payments to the State, the supply of audited information about expenditure, and so on.
In conclusion, I should like to say that the Commonwealth is pleased to be able to assist Tasmania in bringing this programme to fruition. The State is convinced of the economic soundness of the project and, following an independent assessment carried out by the Snowy Mountains Authority last year with the concurrence of the State Government, we have- been advised that the State’s plans are well conceived and based on reasonable cost estimates. In these circumstances we have accepted the State’s views as to the contribution which the completion of the programme can be expected to make to the development of the State’s economy generally. I have pleasure in commending the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Fairbairn, and read a first time.
– I move: That the Bill be now read a second time.
Honourable members will recall a statement I made in this House in November 1967, in which I gave details of the Government’s decision to make available financial assistance to the State of Western Australia for stage 2 of the Ord irrigation project. I indicated at that time that details of the financial arrangements were to be discussed with the State. These discussions have now taken place and, as announced by my colleague, the Treasurer (Mr McMahon), agreement has been reached with the State on the arrangements to be adopted.
The purpose of the Bill before the House is to seek the approval of Parliament to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Western Australia relating to the provision of financial assistance to the State totalling $48.1 8m for the construction of that portion of stage 2 of the Ord irrigation project which lies within Western Australia. The financial assistance is to be provided on the basis of a nonrepayable grant for the construction of a dam, and an interest bearing loan in respect of irrigation works. Stage 2 of the Ord irrigation project comprises a major storage dam on the Ord River, about 30 miles upstream from the existing diversion dam, and associated irrigation works capable of supplying water for the development of a further 150,000 acres of the irrigable land of which about 100,000 acres lie within Western Australia. The storage capacity of the reservoir will be about 4.6 million acre feet.
The Ord is a large project in an isolated northern region, the first stage of which was completed in 1965. The Commonwealth Government has already contributed slightly more than $12m towards Stage 1 of the project as grants under the Western Australia Grant (Northern Development) Act 1958-1959 and the Western Australia (Northern Development) Agreement Act 1963. The State has also made a direct contribution of about $8m to the cost of developing the area associated with the project. Prior to its decision to make financial assistance available, the Commonwealth had before it, on several occasions, requests from the Western Australian Government for financial assistance to proceed with the second stage of the project. On these occasions the Government considered that, in view of a number of uncertainties which existed in regard to the future prospects of the scheme, the wisest course of action was to wait until further information came to hand and further experience had been gained from the pilot project comprising Stage 1 of the scheme.
As I indicated in my statement of November 1967, there have been favourable developments in regard to cotton growing. Satisfactory results have been achieved with a greatly increased area of stub cotton, which can be grown at a lower cost than normal plant cotton. Trials on the Kimberley Research Station and on private farms with a new cotton variety, Stoneville 7a, look promising and it, together with other new varieties, should enable farmers to obtain higher yields in the future. Cotton production in Australia has expanded rapidly in recent years reflecting both increased yields and acreages. The average yields in northern New South Wales and at the Ord have more than doubled since commercial production commenced several years ago. As better varieties are developed and as farmers gain experience and adopt improved cultural practices it is reasonable to expect that yields will continue to improve although not to the same extent as in the past.
In addition to cotton, the prospects for commercial production of grain sorghum appear promising. Sorghum is being grown on a small commercial scale this season and farmers are already planning to grow increased acreages. Large scale growing, however, will not be possible until additional water is available following completion of the main dam as all the present supply is now committed. In a recent examination of the market for grain sorghum in Japan, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics concluded that imports of feed grains by Japan could be expected to continue to rise sharply and Australia would have reasonable prospects of obtaining a share of this market
There are also prospects of developing commercial production of a high quality rice in the region, particularly with the advent of new varieties becoming available from the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines and with the recent successes with insecticides in the control of stem borer.
Development of alternative crops such as these will provide greater flexibility in farm programmes. Even though we now have more than 20 years of investigation and research behind us we would be the last to claim that we know all the answers.
We do feel, however, that enough is known to permit us confidently to press on with this project which is of great significance to the development of northern Australia.
Irrigation from the diversion dam commenced in 1963 when more than 1,400 acres were planted to cotton by the first five commercial growers. At the present time 30 farms of approximately 650 acres in area, in addition to the 2,400 acre former pilot farm, are in operation. About 12,000 acres are devoted to cotton this season and harvesting is due to commence about this time.
The commercial possibilities of a number of other crops and tropical pastures are being investigated at the Kimberley Research Station. The Research Station on the Ord River has been jointly financed and staffed by the Commonwealth and Western Australian Governments since its establishment in 1946. Currently the Commonwealth provides half of the expenditure of the Station up to a maximum of $130,000 per year. In addition the Commonwealth Government through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and the Western Australian Government through its Department of Agriculture, supply salaried officers to the Station without cost to the Station’s vote. The Station is concerned not only with providing scientific and technical information and undertaking research to establish successful irrigation farming in the Ord area, but also with the accumulation of information of value for the development of agriculture in other similar irrigable areas in northern Australia, and with the study of the possible benefits of irrigated agriculture to other forms of primary production, particularly the cattle industry.
The local cattle industry is expected to benefit from the irrigation development in two ways - through the development of a more intensive beef-producing industry in and adjacent to the irrigation settlement, and through the use of protein-rich byproducts, such as cotton seed, to reduce mortality in breeders and calves by selective supplementary feeding. The realisation of these developments will depend upon the response of the regional pastoral industry. With the upgrading of the Kimberley roads under the beef roads programme, the influence of relatively attractive beef prices in recent years, and the recent evidence that a significant number of cattle producers are interested in upgrading their herds and improving management standards it is reasonable to expect that integration will take place between the irrigation area and the cattle industry.
One other matter which has been raised in relation to the Ord project and on which I would like to comment is the possibility of siltation of the storage. The Ord River carries a high silt content estimated in 1964 at about 12,500 acre feet per annum, which if unchecked could affect the active storage capacity of the dam over a period of years. The problem of high silt content was largely due to severe erosion aggravated by overstocking in past years along the main water courses. However, regeneration measures costing $100,000 per year have been pursued during the last 7 years by the State authorities. The Ord River catchment above the dam site has an area of about 18,000 square miles. The most serious erosion hazard, however, is confined to an area of about 1,450 square miles of which about 1,200 square miles have been resumed from pastoral leases, and these areas have been cleared of stock, fenced and successfully reseeded 1 turn now to the Agreement which generally follows the pattern of measures granting financial assistance to the States. Clause 1 is a machinery clause covering definitions used throughout the Agreement. Clause 2 of the Agreement sets out details of the financial assistance to be provided while the nature and extent of the works is described in the Schedule to the Agreement. Part 1 of the Schedule describes the works for which a non-repayable grant is to be provided and Part II of the Schedule those works for which Commonwealth assistance is to be provided as a repayable loan.
Clauses 3 to 7 relate to the making of payments, advances and repayments in connection with the works and are generally of a machinery nature. In clause 6 provision is made for repayments to be spread over 15 years with repayments to commence 9 years and 6 months after the end of the financial year during which payment was made by the Commonwealth. Clauses 8 to 13 set out requirements in connection with the implementation of the project and cover the provision of information requested by the Commonwealth, ministerial approval of the works and variations thereof, and ministerial approval of contracts in excess of $500,000. Provision is also made for representation of the Commonwealth on the already established Ord Project Co-ordinating Committee.
The usual provisions covering the furnishing of statements to the Treasurer by the State Auditor-General relating to the works carried out under the Agreement are set out in clause 14. Clause 15 deals with the recognition of notices, requests and other communications given or made under this Agreement.
As I have already mentioned, the Commonwealth has been closely concerned with developments in the Ord area since 1946 when it established - jointly with the Government of Western Australia - the Kimberley Research Station. In addition the Commonwealth through its assistance over a number of years facilitated the successful implementation of Stage 1 of the project. The Ord scheme has pioneered one of our last frontiers. The Commonwealth Governments’ confidence in its future is measured in its financial support of the scheme. We can develop our remote areas given sound research and thorough investigation. In the Ord we see a catalyst for further development in the north. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Bury, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to vary the salaries for the holders of the statutory offices of Senior Commissioner, Commissioners and Conciliators of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. These salaries were last adjusted by amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in November 1964 whereby the salary for Senior Commissioner was fixed at $10,400, for Commissioner at $9,400 and for Conciliator at $8,400. In the past it had been the practice to review these salaries in association with the salaries of Second Division officers of the Commonwealth Public Service and certain statutory officers, the last such review resulting in salary increases effective as from 23rd December 1966. No adjustments were then made, however, to the salaries of the members of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to whom I have referred. This could not be done without legislation.
This Bill, therefore, provides, for the retrospective payment as from 23rd December 1966, of those salaries which would have been paid in line with the adjustments then made to officers of the Second Division of the Commonwealth Public Service and statutory officers covered by the review made at that time. The effect of this is to provide payment at the rate of $11,250 per year for the Senior Commissioner, $10,250 for the Commissioners, and $9,050 for the Conciliators. The Government, however, has given further consideration to the determination of salaries for these statutory offices because it had become increasingly evident that the responsibilities of the holders of these offices are of such a nature that an alignment with the generality of positions in the Second Division of the Commonwealth Public Service is no longer appropriate.
There is no need for me to stress the critical significance for the community and the economy as a whole of the decisions required of the Senior Commissioner and the Commissioners and the important part they, and the Conciliators, play in influencing the industrial relations climate in which industry operates. Clearly it must be possible to attract to the ranks of the Commission men with the necessary experience, maturity, integrity and established competence in what is a most complex and difficult field of work. It is for these reasons that the Bill now before the House proposes a salary of $12,850 for the Senior Commissioner, $11,850 for the Commissioners and $9,650 for the Conciliators, to become operative as from the date of assent of this Bill. I am confident that the provisions of this
Bill will be welcomed by all members of this House and all those with a concern for the operation of our conciliation and arbitration system. I comment the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Webb) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 1460).
– I must say that when my friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) sat down and I was not at liberty to follow him I felt a little put out. I suppose all of us in our own way get put out from time to time. I shall be quite frank and forthright in saying how I felt. I felt as we all feel when we are under a shower, all soaped up, and then someone turns the water off. The punctuation of the debate by the speeches of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury), my friend the Minister for Air (Mr Freeth), and the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) has served a wonderful purpose. When I rose merely to move the adjournment of the debate, mark you, I was greeted with friendly cheers. I looked in the eyes of honourable members opposite and the friendship was disguised somewhat; but there it was. The speeches at least have shown one thing.
– What a thing to say.
– The honourable member should not complain. I have not hurt him yet. The three speeches have shown one thing - that there are times when the Australian Labor Party, Her Majesty’s Opposition, can at least be swept into a sea of serenity and utter tranquility. For the past 5 or 10 minutes honourable members opposite have sat as quiet, as meek, as mild, as gentle and as tame as highly trained mice. I do not say that offensively, of course. I want to turn to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. I thought it was a most remarkable speech. I enjoyed it; I listened to every syllable of it. I thought: ‘Here he is, my friend, the Leader of Opposition. He has delivered himself of a remarkable speech.’
– Does the honourable member really like him?
– I cannot disguise my fondness for him.
– Can the honourable member say that the Leader of the Opposition feels the same?
– I do not ask for reciprocity. Here at last the Leader of the Opposition has found out what is the centre of all political activity. He spoke about unity - unity in the Government. He spoke with such fragrance of tone, at the same time looking around at the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) and the honourable member for Yarra (Dr Cairns). He had a look of supreme and utter charity sweeping over him. The mellifluousness of his tone was quite remarkable. Fancy the Leader of the Australian Labor Party in its present condition talking about unity. I shall put this political exchange to one side and shall get on with the honourable gentleman’s speech.
– Why did the honourable member not go to see Emperor Haile Selassie?
– When I look at the honourable member for Reid I begin to get a glimmer of understanding as to why it was that the ancient Egyptians worshipped a beetle. I come to my friend’s speech. The Leader of the Opposition spoke with vigour, great clarity and a sense of perception when he spoke to the Bill. He was not very relevant, but still there it is. I ask the House to note - I hope the country will note this as well - that all of my friend’s talents in those fields were expended this evening on behalf of the shirkers of Australia. Let us be under no illusion about that. If the honourable member who is interjecting were rubbed down with neats-foot oil we might be able to hear him. But I put it to my friend, the Leader of the Opposition, this evening that he should put the Bill to one side and answer this question, which I ask other honourable members sitting behind him to answer also: Has not the nation as a corporate body some claim on the loyalties and the allegiance of every person who lives in it? This may seem to some people to be futuristic and indeed a rather bizarre thought, but let me put it. Let me assume that my honourable friend, the Leader of the Opposition, led Her Majesty’s Government in this country.
– It will not be long now.
– Honourable members opposite have been saying that for 19 years to my knowledge and they are as far out as ever. Let us assume that this is the position and let us assume also, for the purpose of my argument, that he is propounding a policy for defence. Let me choose my honourable friend from Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) as the Minister for Labour and National Service who is introducing the Bill. Would not he as Minister and the Leader of the Opposition as the Leader of the Government have a responsibility in the matter of defence? Let us assume for the purpose of my argument that he rejects the concept of any involvement outside Australia and is dealing with, perhaps, the problem of defending fortress Australia. I do not subscribe to this doctrine - I come clean - but, still, it is a doctrine held by some. I want my friend, the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine), to listen to this, even if he is not able to understand it. What would be the policy of a government led by the present Leader of. the Opposition, the honourable member for Werriwa, if he were determined to introduce defence measures in this country and for that purpose he introduced conscription? Would he then take the view that this was, to use his own rather extravagant language, an inquisitorial Bill? Would he then take the view that this was a Bill which, to use his own language, in terms of jurisprudence went completely beyond anything that this country had ever known?
– That is right.
– I am delighted to hear my friend, the honourable member for Capricornia, say that the honourable member for Werriwa would hold that view. But” politics is the art of the possible, and the art of the possible, when it comes to maintaining the integrity of a state, is to go all out to do that. Governments often have to do things which at the time are unpopular and are ill received. But are we now to be put in the position where governments are going to say that they are not interested in our security? I ask my friends opposite - every one of them: In terms of assessing the merits or demerits of every provision in this Bill, what would they do if they were in government and they were faced with the peculiar defence problems of Australia?
– We would solve them straight away.
– Supposing they had this national service measure before them, what would be their reaction?
– We would-
– Order! The honourable member for Darebin will cease interjecting.
– I understand that the honourable member has an irresistible urge to bay at the moon. I merely ask him to try to put a bit of melody into his performance.
– It must be a full moon.
– Then that would wipe out the honourable member for East Sydney. The Leader of the Opposition said that the Minister for Labour and National Service had not explained the Bill and that for an explanation one had to go to the Bill. I thought that this was a most remarkable thing to say. Where would he expect to go for an explanation of the Bill - to the top of Red Hill? The Bill is clear and the language is simple. It is not cluttered. I should imagine that all of us could follow it. But if I may, before I turn to the peripheral matters of conscientious objectors, the question of summary proceedings and the rest of it, I should luce to deal with what is the central argument between members of the Opposition and the Government on this issue, that is, whether or not in the matter of defence the nation - the state, if that term is preferred - does not have some claim upon each and every one of us. I am talking about defence. I am not talking about starting price betting; I am talking about the nation’s security. Are my friends opposite seriously propounding the thesis that in the matter of national security the nation has no claim on us all? This is an extraordinary position. Admittedly this is a very ancient field of political inquiry, but it remains, surely, the most purposeful of them all.
This Bill deals with defence and I believe that the nation has every right to say to all those who live within it: ‘You must help to protect it’. The basic obligation upon every person living in this country is to defend it. I do not want to qualify that. I shall repeat it to avoid ambiguity: The basic obligation on every person living in this country is to defend it. There are those who sneer at the maxim: ‘Salus populi suprema lex’ - the safety of the state is the supreme law. This is perfectly true, but I ask honourable gentlemen opposite: What state has ever existed where that precept has not been followed? Every person who lives in this country, enjoys its advantages and shares in its benefits is under an obligation to the country and owes to the country a loyalty and an assurance of support. No state can survive if those within it run away from that essential obligation. I want to say to the Leader of the Opposition that he makes a great mistake in confusing liberty with licence. I remind him that national integrity should not be tainted with insolence. If we allow disorder to dominate our affairs in a democracy we forsake democracy for social anarchy. Men cannot live together unless they have some rules for living together. Those who prattle about civil liberty and separate it from civil responsibility do not do the cause of freedom any service. On the contrary, they corrupt it.
– I rise to order. I heard from the honourable member for East Sydney a most objectionable remark. He knows what it is and I ask him to withdraw it.
– One never wastes shot on grass birds and peewees
-Order! Is the honourable member for Maribymong insisting on his point of order?
– Yes, Mr Deputy Speaker.
-Order! Unfortunately I must rule that there is no substance in the point of order. The remark was inaudible to the Chair.
– Before this little interruption occurred I was about to put a simple proposition. I shall couch it in terms of extreme simplicity, hoping fondly that it may reach one or two in distant parts. Quite recently in this country we had an example of what I call the extreme in liberality. When I talk about an extreme in liberality I talk about the person who takes the view that he has no obligations whatever to the institution or to the country with which he is associated or in which he lives. This rootless liberality is the most pernicious of all doctrines that are preached, and those who take the view that their own personal conscience on all matters can transcend the corporate good, in my view, contribute nothing to the sum of human happiness. We have the examples of behaviour of Professor Alan Nunn May, Fuchs, Pontecorvo, Blake and the Rosenbergs - people who took the view that they owed no allegiance to the State and, in the matter of conscience, regarded themselves as being completely unattached. Why, bless my heart and soul, we have even had a reverend gentleman proclaiming that he did not believe in God. I wonder where this lack of loyalty is going to stop. We can almost imagine members of the Plumbers Union saying they are against piping. Where is-
– Never on your sweet life, brother.
-Order! The honourable member for Darebin will cease interjecting. The honourable member for Reid also will cease interjecting and the House will come to order.
– I will personally-
-Order! I will be forced to deal with the honourable member for Darebin if he continues interjecting.
– I was about to ask where this lack of allegiance is to end. I believe that no matter what government is in power, it has an entitlement and a right to expect those who live under its sovereignty and in its domain to make some contribution towards the security and defence of their country. If we are to have civil liberty in the extreme, unharnessed and unresponsive to the most fearsome of exigencies and circumstances, we will not long have our state or our democracy. This is the sombre lesson of our time. It may be a harsh philosophy to some, but it is a very sound one in my view. A contrary one is to express a doctrine of decay. I take the view that this country and those who live in it are in very substantial danger. I know it is very easy to exaggerate that danger, but it is also very tempting to dismiss it. If we take the view that we can dismiss it and live out our lives in sweetness, without any sorrow, then assuredly many generations to come will curse those who made that judgment. This is the central theme that is in dispute on this legislation. Are we, on matters of national security and defence, to say: ‘Well, it does not matter. We can all go our own way’? Having said that, I turn to some of the-
– The honourable member ought to join up.
– At least I heard the bugle last time; and at the age of 18, if it is of any conscience to the honourable gentleman. I want to turn to some of the more conspicuous arguments that were used by the Leader of the Opposition when discussing summary conviction. I thought the point was dealt with brilliantly by the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes) who showed that all that was involved was the question of a notice. Summary conviction, I may explain, means that the magistrate makes up his mind and there is no trial by jury. I will come to that in a moment. As I have said, this was brilliantly explained by the honourable member for Parkes. He said, in effect, that the only argument was whether the notice was delivered. But the Leader of the Opposition sought to impress upon our minds that this was a frightful infringement of a basic British liberty. I have no doubt that his argument made an impression upon some people. He said that it was shocking and outrageous that people should be sent to prison for 2 years without being tried by a jury. There was nothing like it anywhere in our statutes. But he did not say that whether a person is sent to prison or not because he treats the authority of the State in this matter with complete contempt depends on the amount of national service.
I propose to turn to some examples and then ask the Leader of the Opposition to compare these examples with what is before us and to assess the importance of this Bill accordingly. I have great respect for my Victorian colleagues on both sides of the House and I regard Victoria as being an enlightened State, but do you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, that under the Victorian Rogue and Vagabond Act a man or a woman may be sent to gaol summarily for up to 2 years for a second offence of consorting?
– Under a Liberal government.
– But introduced and maintained, I hasten to say, by a Labor government. Also, a man or woman may be sent to gaol summarily for up to 2 years for living on the earnings of a prostitute or for keeping a brothel. In the legislation now before the House we are asking the country to turn its attention to national security and defence; yet for all these offences that I have outlined a person may be sent to gaol summarily on conviction for 2 years. Most Australian States prescribe 2 years gaol on conviction under their narcotics Acts.
But let me move away from that matter. Broadly one can put those who object to national service into three categories and 1 shall recite them as 1 see them. First, there are those who consciously object. I have a profound respect for them if their objection is genuine, and I will come to that in a moment. Secondly, there are those who take the view that they do not want to have their lives disturbed; and, thirdly, there are those persons who, putting it bluntly, shirk responsibility. Every one of these three attitudes is a highly personal matter, lt is not the sort of thing that can be transferred from one person to another. People may have approximately the same views but they cannot say: ‘Look, I don’t like to be put out and as a consequence I am going to transfer to you*. These are personal views. The institution is not being asked about these people. The institution is being asked where these people live, their occupations and so forth. I think that is all that need be said on that particular objection. It was splendidly and lucidly covered by the honourable member for Parkes this afternoon.
I come now to the matter of the conscientious objector. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who led for the Opposition in this debate, said that the onus should be on the Government to show that a person has a conscientious objection. The honourable member referred to the criminal law and said that this Bill reverses the criminal law onus. In a sense it does, but I would remind the honourable gentleman that there are aspects of the criminal law itself where the onus of proof is upon the person who is charged. But in this matter, where a person has a belief or a conviction which is peculiarly known to him how could any other person enter his mind? One cannot do that. It is silly to suggest it can be done. It is quite reasonable to ask any person who has a conscientious objection to explain it. After all, not many people in this country are involved. That is not to dismiss the importance of this matter. When a person has a conscientious objection and holds it with great conviction, I admire him and I approve of his holding that conviction. He is entitled to hold it.
– What about those who are opposed to the barbaric war in Vietnam?
– The honourable member for Reid is trying to prevail upon me to deal with a particular matter - a particular war. At this particular point of time the
Australian Labor Party particularly misconceives what makes up a conscientious objection. If one says that one is not going to fight in a political war, that is a particular judgment and there is no semblance whatever of a display of conscience. This could be reduced to absurdities. If someone says that he will not take part in the war in South Vietnam, we are reaching the stage where someone will say that he will not take part in a particular battle. Where does this kind of thing finish? I can recall during the war we had a drill sergeant who scared me. We called him Fang. Was I then to be put in the position where I took objection to him? The honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) was an instructor of mine during the war. Everyone knows the honourable member for Perth. The honourable member said some rude things to me. I wonder if I had written home and said that I was terribly upset, would my mother have gone to the local member and told him that I wanted to get out? This is a very silly, juvenile attitude thai has been followed by the Australian Labor Party,
The last matter to which I refer is the proposition put forward by the Leader of the Opposition that there should be some non-military alternatives to national service. Some countries do have alternatives. Switzerland is one such country. But I remind the House that in Switzerland there is national service for all people between the ages of 19 and 55. Who knows, we might have the yodeler from Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), who is trying to interject, over there as a national service trainee. What a blessing that would, be, both for the honourable member for Hindmarsh and the Swiss. The difference between countries that have central .powers and Australia is quite distinct. This Parliament, in my submission, would have no power to say that in times of nominal peace the conscientious objector can go out and take part in civil construction. That is the difference between wartime, as the High Court has conceived it, and peace time as it nominally is now. The Australian defence power under the Constitution is an extensive power in times of war. But even in times of war it is not a complete power, as the industrial light regulations and the Jehovah’s Witness cases show.
I come back to where I started. The central issue involved in this whole debate is what comes first. Does the individual, who takes the view that he will completely dismiss his responsibility to his country and to those who live in it, come first? If that is to be the view all I can say is that those who adopt it are propounding the doctrine of social anarchy. It has been rejected by the overwhelming majority of people in Australia because their good sense, thensense of conviction and their sense of understanding of the problems of the world are so clear and so firm. That is one of the reasons why the Australian Labor Party will continue to stay in opposition.
– Members of the House have, as usual, been regaled by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) with a well assorted mixture of persiflage, coruscating syntax, verbal pyrotechnics and an assumed brilliance of repartee, but he and his Government still have failed to convince the Australian people and myself of the merits of the Bill or the Government’s sincerity in introducing it. The test of the measure is not the vivisection of it word by word or section by section but the circumstances under which it is introduced, the timing of it and above all the present international situation. We can forget the past and deal with the present. There is light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time, two combatant nations are being dragged, literally, by world opinion to the conference table. It is good that they are, and only good can come of it because the alternative is world holocaust.
The honourable gentleman suggested that Australia was in very substantial danger. Let us have a look at the motives of the Government in introducing the Bill. The Government has cried wolf in terms of national security. For years that has been its political stock in trade. Foreign policy and defence, on which there should be a consensus between the Government parties at all times, has been perverted for the Government’s own political survival. Sooner or later there comes a day of reckoning and a moment of truth and that has arrived for the Government at this precise moment. Does the honourable member for Moreton suggest that the people of Australia have forgotten the circumstances under which
President Johnson announced his intended resignation? Does the honourable member forget that in the country, which has been the prime mover in relation to the Vietnamese imbroglio, there is a measure of dissent even greater than in Australia? From time to time we see that people, not on the extreme left or the extreme right, but solid, sound, sensible, fair minded Australian people are having second thoughts and deep reservations about our commitment in Vietnam - how we can honourably extricate ourselves from it and how we can restore peace in South East Asia. The principal situation there today is the end of colonialism. It is not a question of the down thrust of China. We have chosen to associate ourselves with the two colonial powers that are in the process of gradually withdrawing themselves from commitments in Asia and particularly in South East Asia. That is the situation. The honourable member for Moreton’s leader, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), said very early after assuming office that the book was to be ruled off and that the commitment to be made was the maximum one. There is acute dissention between members of the Liberal Party. Let the honourable member for Moreton deny that if he can. Let any honourable member opposite deny that. It is there. I will name the members concerned. The Prime Minister, with a minority in his Cabinet, is in open conflict with the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall). The Government has its hawks who are insisting upon perpetual involvement in South East Asia. It is their permanent political stock in trade. As against these the Government has, for want of a better name, what we can dub ‘fortress Australians’ who want to look over the brink into South East Asia and have forces ready to intervene if and when necessary. The people of Australia can be led, but they can never be driven.
I am not going to stand here to hear my Party or the people who dissent in Australia calumniated because they choose to disagree with men of the kidney of the honourable member for Moreton. After all, his spiritual home is in another place with totalitarian methods and totalitarian outlook. Let him deny that if he can. The challenge was made, and the challenge has not been accepted, to indicate any part of the English speaking world that has comparable legislation to this in which every concept of liberty and of civil rights is being brutally crushed, deliberately and systematically, and for what? The Minister has yet to tell us how many people are to be involved in this legislation. He did say that there were only a few. What a method to be used to achieve the Government’s purpose, if the purpose were a genuine one, which it is not, because this legislation is nothing more than a smoke screen. It is intended as a diversionary tactic or, conversely, it could be intended, as far as the Prime Minister .s concerned, as a sop or a placebo to the ginger group within his own Party.
He intends to go over to the United States of America at a time when gradually the Americans are thinking in terms of withdrawal from South East Asia and at a period when they are prepared to deliberately off-load onto the Vietnamese people the main responsibility for the conduct of this struggle until such time as it is settled at the conference table. He is going over to interview - and 1 use the expression with respect, but it is an American term - a lame duck President whose term of office expires in January anil who cannot speak for the American people. At present there are no fewer than six candidates for the Presidency, all with differing versions of what they intend to do. Let him sort out if he can - and I do not mind whether he does it by some eclectic process - what the Americans* future policy is to be. Of one thing he can be certain: If he assesses correctly the temper of the American people he will find that somehow or other they want to get out of this commitment in South Vietnam. The Americans want to withdraw their forces. They want to preserve the unity of their nation. They realise that they have their own internal problems.
The Australian Government is bankrupt in terms of its foreign policy and of its defence policy. It is literally and absolutely bankrupt. The concatenation of events of the last 6 months have rendered this Government completely impotent in its thinking. Only a fool would deny that the defence statement made by the Minister for Defence last week was other than an emasculated one. It might have been the voice of the Minister, but the handiwork was undoubtedly the handiwork of the Prime Minister. The statement said literally nothing, and it took a lot of words to say it.
The Government is not capable of formulating a foreign policy. The best it can do is to go as a’ supplicant, as a sycophant, to the United States and ask for guidance.
The Australian Labor Party takes pride in the fact that it was the Party which first established an Australian Army and an Australian Navy. It was to the Australian Labor Party that Australia turned in the darkest days of World War II. We defended this country. We forged a respectable, alliance with the United States, and we paid our way in full under lend lease. We do not accept the calumnies and the vilification of the honourable member for Moreton or of any other honourable member in this House. We are proud to be Australians and we say that Australians can be led but they cannot be driven. We come of British stock and we have a tradition of complete personal independence. Show us the need for something and it will be done. The weakness of the Government’s case is proved by the extreme measures it proposes to take. The Government introduced conscription for overseas service long before it had fully tried the possibilities of the voluntary system. The result of one of the most divisive and unfair laws in our history has been to provide 23,000 national servicemen for our Army in a period of 2 years. It was at all times possible, and it is still possible, to raise 23,000 men for the Regular Army by voluntary means. These means have never been exploited because the Government of the day and a former Prime Minister wanted a khaki election to panic the people of Australia. Neither the Prime Minister who established the present system for the purposes of the 1964 Senate election, or bis successor who continued it for the purposes of providing additional troops for Vietnam, or the present Prime Minister, have ever made a single appeal to the young men of Australia to enlist in the service of their country. None of them have ever taken responsibility for reviewing the legislation affecting the wages, conditions and the service pension benefits and entitlements of servicemen.
At an immense cost the Government has secured 23,000 men. At the cost of unity, at the cost of the conscience of innumerable young men, at the cost of justice, at the cost of tolerance, at the cost of mutual understanding and mutual goodwill the Government has, over a period of 3 years, got 23,000 bodies for 2 years service. Does anyone believe that at a far lower cost and by all that is meaningful to a nation we could not have got the equivalent by voluntary means and an additional 10,000 to enlist for 5 years? The Australian people have paid a tremendous price for the decision made in November 1964 to permit Sir Robert Menzies to win the Senate election of that year, and we are still paying that price.
This legislation asks us to increase that price to even higher limits, and that is why we oppose it. On the question of voluntary military service, what is the position today? At a time when the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) has announced that for financial reasons the minimum number of yearly training days for the Citizen Military Forces soldier - the alternative to compulsory national service - is to be reduced from 53 to 33 days, we are confronted with an intensification of coercion. This totalitarian minded government is downgrading the functions of this volunteer force with its honoured traditions in defending Australia in World War II. Does the Government scorn this force? Is the principle of voluntary citizen military service repugnant to it? What is to be the future of the CMF? Does the Government realise that Citizen Forces are the backbone of defence? Let me list some countries which have voluntary services: Singapore, Malaysia, the Republic of India, Pakistan, Japan, Cambodia, New Zealand, Canada and, of course, Great Britain. Is there any stigma attaching to the armed forces of those countries? What is the stigma that the Government is attaching to our Citizen Military Forces? The CMF does not suit the Government. The CMF is the horrible alternative that it does not want, because the Government is totalitarian in thinking and it is totalitarian in performance.
In his second reading speech the Minister said that the majority of young men and their families accepted national service obligations. But there are very clear distinctions to be drawn. Most young men do accept it, but equally - and the figures of the public opinion polls have proved this very conclusively - they oppose being conscripted for overseas service in a war that is undeclared; a war that is not of their choosing; and a war in the intensification of which for its own political survival this Government has a vested interest. There are in this measure many obnoxious and offensive amendments which seek to misinterpret an electoral mandate by introducing bureaucratic authoritarianism into Australia to filch some of our most fundamental civil liberties. Claiming that national service is vital to the preservation of Australian democracy, the Government now seeks to subvert democracy itself. In other words, in the process of defending democracy the Government is prepared to destroy it. What a price to pay for a few undisclosed men whom the Government claims are still evading their obligations. To do the job of the Department of Labour and National Service in detecting and reporting these few defaulters the Government seeks additional powers to make kinsfolk, friends, neighbours and employers - in fact any conceivable person - provide information about any person thought to be liable to national service.
In the amendments which have been circulated today at a very late hour we see a death bed repentance on the part of this Government because already it has been hammered and bludgeoned by responsible major metropolitan newspapers and told in no uncertain terms in journals which are normally its perfervid supporters of the enormity of what it intends to do. Already the Government sees that it has overplayed its hand in seeking to have parents inform on their children and to have other persons inform on their near kinsfolk. I am referring to proposed section 52 of the Act.
I turn now to section 54. The trap may still exist. Under section 52 as amended any bureaucrat from the Department of Labour and National Service may issue a notice requiring a person or persons, including the parents, brothers, sisters or near relatives of the man under attack, to give certain information. Those kinsfolk can still be browbeaten and subjected to coercion by trained interrogators. They can still be asked: ‘Where is your son? What is his full name? Where was he born? Where is he living?’ Extreme pressure can still be applied. True, it is only moral pressure, but there is still another way open for the Government to catch these fellows in the net, and that is under the proposed amendment to section 54. At present the section imposes a penalty on parents who prevent their son from entering into national service. As amended the section will provide a penalty for parents who hinder or prevent their son from entering into national service. What is to stop any representative of the Department of Labour and National Service knocking at the door of the parent of a young man of 20 years and launching into his stock set of questions? To prevent is one thing; to impede is another. A parent who refuses to give evidence against his or her son would be guilty of a breach of section 54. Let the Government deny that assertion if it can. In other words, the dagger is still in this legislation, aimed at the integrity of the Australian family.
The provisions of section 54, coupled with those of section 52, are the most outrageous that any government has ever attempted to inflict on the Australian people. The Crimes Acts of the various States specifically prohibit a prosecution from calling an accused person to give evidence against himself. No Australian citizen may be called upon, even in respect of the most heinous offence of a capital nature, to convict himself out of his own mouth. Hence there is the traditional warning by an interrogating police officer to a person suspected of having committed an offence for which prosecution is contemplated. Even admissions obtained by a police officer by way of signed confession from a suspect person are subject to the closest scrutiny and are certain to be rejected in any court if there is any suggestion of coercion or promise of mitigation of penalty or other favourable treatment. By common law and/ or statute throughout the English speaking world, and in fact all other countries which have copied its principles of evidence, a wife or husband cannot be called upon, without his or her consent, to give evidence against the other marriage partner. The privilege of refusing to give information by evidence or otherwise applies also at common law as between lawyer and client. It was obviously the concentrated objections of the legal profession which were responsible for the Government’s climb down in the amendment that has been circulated.
Equally, in the case of medical practitioners the Government has had to climb down most ignominiously. Medical practitioners have always claimed the privilege of not being required to divulge information about their patients. Because of the sacrosanct nature of the relationship between doctor and patient, a medical practitioner is entitled to refuse to give evidence that would incriminate or lead to the conviction of his patient. As a further sop to the various religious persuasions the Government has granted a similar exemption in the case of ministers of religion, lt will grant more exemptions as this debate proceeds and the people of Australia realise, from the publicity that will attend the debate, exactly what the Government is attempting to do. If a husband and wife should have the privilege of not being required to give evidence against each other, how much more is a mother entitled to refuse to incriminate her own flesh and blood. But under section 54 - let the Government deny this if it can- she will be required to do just that.
This Government can be very tricky at times. In his second reading speech, the Minister for Labour .and National Service made not the slightest reference to the fact that there would be no trial by jury for an offence carrying a penalty of 2 years imprisonment. Having regard to the pressure of business in the lower courts and the fact that magistrates are overworked, particularly in the major metropolitan areas, it is not possible for magistrates to determine the true facts in many of these cases, nor is it fair to ask them to do so. What greater bulwark is there of our traditional liberty than the jury system? It has been evolved over a period of at least 1,100 years - certainly slowly. By public consent it is still the greatest bulwark of liberty in the English speaking world. Any government which attempts to destroy the jury system is signing its death warrant. Why should any man not be tried by twelve jurors, men who represent a true cross-section of public opinion, sworn to bring in a true verdict? This is a right which is being denied to people under this legislation. How many poor devils will not have a fair hearing of their application for exemption from national service? I know of many cases in this category. How many of these people have no remedy other than trial by jury? How many genuine conscientious objectors who have been dragooned into the Array have any protection other than the right of trial by jury?
The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) said that 2 years imprisonment was the penalty for consorting in Victoria and for certain drug peddling offences. Does he suggest that the youth of Australia is to be debased and degraded by being put in the same category as consorting criminals and drug pedlars? The maximum penalty that may be imposed upon summary conviction is 12 months imprisonment, no more. It could not be otherwise, because these men are to be. tried for their liberty. What alternative is there other than the jury system for men placed in such a predicament? Who is to defend them? What bastion have they to take refuge in other than the jury system? Why, even the Crown is reluctant at all times, when acting as prosecutor, to bring along a father, a sister or a brother to turn informer against his or her own kin. Need I remind honourable members that in the worst days of the Second World War the Gestapo divided families and pitted sons and daughters against their parents, and parents against their sons. Are we to tolerate such a situation in this country? Is this what the Government seeks to obtain general acceptance for with the object of putting out a dragnet to bring in a handful of people whom it claims are still evading the law? The Government has - or should have - the perfect machinery to do this. It has a department for this purpose. However, this is not good enough for the Government. It wants to intensify the issue and make it major. The Government wants to extract from the situation the maximum political mileage it can get, because it is floundering in doubt about where it is going in the future.
This much is certain: Under a Labor government, Australia will stand on its own feet. Labor will not deny the obligation of national service, but it will be national service designed to meet the true defence needs of Australia - a national service based on the true needs of Australia and supported by equipment produced in Australia and by an independent Australian foreign and defence policy. The alternative to this is the Bill in its present form, which is spurious, bogus, evil and vicious. What’ is the Government prepared to do about legitimate objections put forward by men who have reasons of conscience?
Plenty of men are in this category. What is the Government prepared to do for them? I suggest it is prepared to do nothing except rattle the sabre.
The Opposition will move an amendment which will provide for alternative forms of national service. After all, I believe as a matter of conscience, that every Australian deep in his heart regrets the devastation and damage which have taken place in Vietnam. We realise that we have a responsibility to help restore and rehabilitate both North and South Vietnam. There are plenty of young men who for reasons of conscience are not prepared to accept military service and who would be willing to join a peace corps or perform some other effective type of national service for the benefit of their country so as to expunge some of the guilt which is staining the hands of Australians. In this regard I would like to quote a letter which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald’ of 14th May. It was signed by Rev. Father C. Bowers; Rev. J. Burnheim. Rector, St John’s College, University of Sydney; Professor C. B. Martin, Professor of Philosophy, University of Sydney; Bishop Moyes; Rev. Pryke Rev. Alan Walker; and a number of other eminent gentlemen. Inter alia, these gentlemen in their letter to the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ stated:
The Australian Council of Churches has asked the Government to amend the Act so that ‘clear provision be made for the exemption of persons who conscientiously object to participating in a particular war, declared or undeclared*. There would be no greater difficulty in determining who are genuine conscientious objectors than there is now.
No State has the right to force an individual !o commit acts which he regards as wicked, nor has it the right to require a person to surrender his conscience into its hands. No Government can insist that all the wars which it undertakes are by definition ‘just’; nor does history support such a contention.
If I may interpolate, governments exist only by the consent of the governed and this Government is straining to the limit the credulity of the people of Australia when it pursues its present course of warmongering. The letter continues:
Since a Government has never admitted that a war which it is undertaking is unjust or immoral, it cannot be regarded as the sole authority on the ultimate Tightness of its actions. To suggest that it can is to imply that the Government is the source and the measure of right and wrong - which is a fallacious and impious doctrine.
Further on, the letter states:
This patently unsatisfactory situation has prompted further legislation under which parents are’ to be compelled to supply information about their sons, and universities and other educational institutions to inform upon their students. These Government proposals introduce entirely new principles into Australian society - principles which we find subversive of the rights of the family and the duties of the teacher.
If there is to be such a thing as an issue requiring a free ‘conscience’ vote in Parliament, then this must be it.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr HOLTEN (Indi) [10.6)- The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), particularly in the concluding part of his speech, was almost inviting a debate on the war in Vietnam and Australia’s overall defence policy, although the Bill before the House, of course, is concerned with amendments to the National Service Act. 1 want to comment briefly on some of the remarks made by the honourable member. He mentioned that the Government has never admitted that the war in Vietnam is an unjust one. Does the honourable member say that this war is unjust because it is 5,000 or 6,000 miles away from Australia or does he believe that in some small way this war is part of the planned and announced Communist takeover of the world by aggression? Does the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) call the war the Americans are fighting in Vietnam a dirty and cruel one just because it is 5,000 or 6,000 miles away? Does he say this because it is not the Japanese that we are fighting? The honourable member comes from Rockhampton, which is not very far from the Coral Sea where one of the great and decisive battles of the Second World War was fought and where the Americans stopped the Japanese thereby preventing them from coming into his home in Rockhampton and perhaps assaulting his mother or sister or some other female relative. Did the honourable member call the war that the Americans were fighting then a dirty, cruel war? Does the Opposition ignore the attempted Communist coup in Indonesia, in which the Communists shot eight out of ten generals and also shot General Nasution’s daughter? Is there any condemnation of this action which was carried out by people of the same beliefs that we are fighting against in Vietnam? There is no condemnation of this by the Opposition. Further, the honourable member for Cunningham said that daughters are pitted against mothers and sons against fathers when relatives are asked to inform on one another.
– So they are.
– It is a system based on just this sort of thing, I remind the honourable member for Cunningham, against which we are fighting in Vietnam. Informing is fundamental to the Communist system. The Opposition cannot have it both ways. This is one of the things we are fighting against. Several members of the Australian Labor Party, including the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), have talked about justice, freedom and democracy. How much freedom and democracy did the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) find in the Australian Labor Party when he joined the Defend Australia Committee?
– He did not join it.
– Yes, he did. Because he would not resign from it he was ‘expelled from the Labor Party and now sits in this House as an independent. Yet the Leader of the Opposition and other Opposition speakers talk about freedom and democracy. They are hypocrites. The honourable member for Cunningham spoke in dramatic if inaccurate terms about the Government wanting a khaki election in 1964 and introducing the national service scheme in that year to panic the people. All I can say is that the Australian people accepted the scheme. They showed this clearly by the way they voted in the 1966 election.
– You cried wolf too often.
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston)Order! The honourable member for Wills will cease interjecting.
– The honourable member for Cunningham said that the national service boys did not really support this scheme. Let me tell the House of a conversation I had at an army establishment at Bandiana in my electorate, where the Australian Army has the biggest military stores depot in the southern hemisphere. A Regular
Army soldier said to me on Armistice Day in 1966: “If Arthur Calwell thinks he will get support from these national service boys, of whom we have 600 here all the time, he will fall flat on his face.’ That is exactly what this soldier said to me. In my opinion the national service scheme boys have been absolutely marvellous. Australia can be proud of them and of the way they have accepted the scheme.
The honourable member for Cunningham spoke about jury trials. The honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes) proved conclusively that the proposed method of dealing with these matters leaves no cause for complaint at ali. He showed that there is no need for juries in such cases. All the Crown has to do is to prove that a notice has been served, which is merely proof of a physical happening, that the accused person is liable to render service - and that depends on his agc and physical fitness - and that he has failed to render service. Those are the three things that must be proved. Why have a jury of twelve people to decide whether a notice has been served on a man, whether that man is liable to render service and whether he has failed to render service? There is absolutely no need for a jury.
The honourable member for Capricornia made a few comments which constituted expressions of opinion. He may be entitled to hold such opinions, but I suggest that some of his statements were inaccurate in fact. He said that 45% of the people of Australia had voted against the national service scheme, and perhaps he might have added that they voted against the war in Vietnam. The position is, of course, that about 37% of the people voted for the Australian Labor Party in the 1966 election, not 45%, and there is no proof that all of them were opposed to the national service scheme. He went on to say that the people in the United States of America had voted against participation in Vietnam.
– No - against Goldwater’s policy.
– I do not know about that. The honourable member said that the majority of the American people were opposing the war in Vietnam. To my knowledge only one vote has been taken on this subject in the United States. That was in
San Francisco about 6 or 8 months ago, and the result showed 70Cc of voters for and 30% against. The honourable member went on to say that he has no admiration for our soldiers in Vietnam.
– 1 did not.
– The honourable member said he had no admiration for our soldiers in Vietnam. I will just let that remark speak for itself. He also spoke about censorship of the Press and said that people were afraid to write what they wanted to write. 1 can remember honourable members in this House holding up a newspaper in this chamber when the Labor Government was in office during World War H. That newspaper, the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’, had great holes cut in it as a result of the censorship imposed by the Labor Government. The honourable member should be the last one to talk about censorship. He also said that everyone should have the right to object conscientiously to a particular war. Acceptance of this idea, of course, would give a wonderful opportunity to any interested organisation to organise objections to a particular war. The honourable member made statements which were not only inaccurate but which were also totally out of touch with the feeling of the majority of the Australian people.
– At least I think about what I am going to say. 1 cannot say as much for the honourable member for Wills. As i said before, I am proud of the lads who are being called up for national service. Australia should be proud of them and the way they have conducted themselves in accepting the national service scheme and their duty to Australia. The main purpose of the amendments to the National Service Act is to catch the draft dodgers, the people who are deliberately evading their responsibility to the nation.
– The Young Liberals.
-Order! There have been far too many interjections. If the honourable member for Wills continues to interject I will deal with him.
– I apologise, Sir.
– The honourable member for Wills spoke about honourable members on this side of the House failing to enlist. The honourable member for Capricornia also made a remark which 1 thought was in poor taste. He talked about the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, not enlisting in the First World War. It is true that Sir Robert Menzies did not serve in the First World War, but his four brothers did. That is not a bad contribution from a family. As the former Prime Minister has explained, a family conference was held and a conscious decision was taken by the whole family. I put that on record for the honourable member’s information.
It has been found necessary to make these amendments to the National Service Act to catch up with the shirkers - the people who want to live in Australia but do not want to accept their responsibilities. The Bill deals with such offences as failing to register at all. This, of course, is a most serious offence and the penalty has been doubled.
It has also become evident that the extension of the existing powers for the detection of draft dodgers is necessary in order to make detection measures more effective. The officers of the Department can now ask questions about a persons liability to register or to render service under the Act. However, they have no authority to ask questions about a person’s place of living or place of employment so that he may be sought out and his national service liability clarified. The Department can ask questions only about a person of whose existence it is aware. It cannot legally make inquiries of persons or organisations that will reveal the existence of persons of whom it is unaware and who are liable to register or render service but have not done so.
The Government has decided that it needs to be able, under the Act, to seek from institutions of which 20-year-old men are likely to be clients or members such information as will enable it to satisfy itself that all those liable to register either currently or in the past have done so. Most institutions are already co-operating voluntarily, but some are not. The Government has found it necessary to have . the authority to ask for access to the records of institutions and organisations so that it may delect those 20-year-olds who are avoiding their responsibilities to Australia. There is also to be a tightening up in the medical field. When the amendments contained in the Bill are adopted, a person will be required by law to submit himself to a medical examination to determine his fitness for national service. If he continually refuses to undergo a medical examination, his call-up will proceed.
The Bill also clarifies two important aspects relating to people who have been deferred or who have been given leave without pay from the Army. I congratulate the Army and the Department of Labour and National Service on their reasonable and intelligent attitude in granting leave without pay to certain national servicemen. I have had some personal experience of this aspect and it has usually involved a widow whose only son has been called up. Very often the son has not. been aware of his right to apply for deferment and has been sent away from home. It has been impossible for the widow to earn a living. On at least two occasions to my knowledge the Army has been very co-operative and has granted leave without pay to the soldier so that he can help his mother. The second point that is clarified by the Bill relates to a person who has received two deferments, each of 12 months. If the Department believes that the reason for his deferment on two occasions is likely to continue indefinitely, his deferment will be continued indefinitely and he will not need to incur the expense and take the time and trouble to appear in court every 12 months. In my opinion that is a reasonable attitude for the Government to take.
The Leader of the Opposition implied that the Bill imposed harsh restrictions on the rights of people. He said that restrictions were placed on a person’s right to travel. What he did not say was that restrictions on the right to travel will be imposed only on 20-year-olds and others liable for national service who purchased overseas airline tickets. .Is it not correct to place restrictions on the rights of travel of people who are trying to leave the country to avoid national service training?
Many other amendments contained in the Bill have my support. However, they have been canvassed fairly freely by other honourable members and I do not intend to take up the time of the House by reiterating the arguments that have already been advanced in favour of them. Some Opposition members have tried to suggest to the Australian public that they are the only people who are worried about the reasons for introducing national service training and for our participation in the war in Vietnam. I assure the public that every honourable member on the Government side of the House is concerned about the circumstances that caused the Government to introduce national service, about the need to send these boys to Vietnam and about their losing their lives in Vietnam. Every honourable member on this side of the House is just as concerned about these matters as are the Opposition members and the Australian public generally.
I should like to mention another point about the national service training scheme that is often overlooked. There is really no need for anyone to be called up under the law of the land. If any young man does not wish to be called up, he has the alternative’ of joining the Citizen Military Forces or the special unit of the CMF. No-one can say that the Government .compels anyone to undertake national . service training. People who want to discharge their responsibilities by training themselves to defend the nation can join the CMF or the special unit of the CMF. No-one. is compelled to wait to be called up for national service training.
The provisions of the Bill are necessary and desirable. They will ensure that draft dodgers do not avoid national service and will make wider sources of information available to the Department of Labour and National Service. This will enable the Department, which is responsible to the Government for the proper administration of the National Service Act, to perform its duties in the most efficient manner possible. By tightening up the regulations and doing the things that I have just mentioned the Government is ensuring - in my opinion this is the vital point - that justice is being done. By making sure that we catch these draft dodgers we are ensuring that justice is done to the many thousands of Australian young men who have accepted their obligations under the National Service Act and having accepted those obligations have conscientiously undertaken their training to fit themselves to fight. If they have been sent away they have represented Australia in a manner of which we all can be very proud. We are ensuring that justice is done to these young men. I commend the Government upon the introduction of these amendments to the National Service Act and heartily support them.
– The honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) has said that this paternal Government is proud of our national servicemen. 1 was interested to note that before our servicemen were called up the Government made sure that they did not have the right to vote. That is all 1 wish to say about this paternal Government. It seems to me that all the members of the antiLabor parties try to impress the people with words about our defence. I ask the public to consider the defence record of antiLabor governments down the years. We had Billy Hughes, who iri World War I tried to press conscription . on the people by popular vote. The people resoundingly said “No’.
In World War 11 that great Australian, that doughty tighter for Australia, Sir Robert Menzies, walked out and left Australia to its fate when the Japanese were on our doorstep and were raining bombs on Darwin. I should like. to remind honourable members of that other great Australian, John Curtin, who took over in the midst of the confusion left, behind by Sir Robert Menzies. John. Curtin immediately took the people of Australia into his confidence, they rallied round him and agreed to conscription for home defence. I should like to emphasise that conscription for home defence is the policy of the Australian Labor Party, which has had to fight all the battles for the defence of Australia. The Liberal Party and the Austraiian Country Party have no record at all when it comes to the defence of Australia. I was interested to hear the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) criticise the defence policy of- the Australian Labor Party. When the Japanese were bombing Darwin and the former Prime Minister. Sir Robert Menzies, walked out and left us to our fate, it was the defence policy of the ALP that saved Australia.
During this debate vie have heard the legal luminaries on the Government side. They have regaled us with all their legal knowledge and have used all the legal cliches which they are used to mouthing in the courts from day to day. One finds it hard to believe that the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes), who is supposed to be in the top bracket of lawyers, should say that in the case of a conscientious objector there should be no trial by jury. It is impossible to believe that a man of his prestige in the legal world should voicesuch an opinion. We on this side firmly believe that a conscientious objector should have his case decided by a panel of jurymen. Without a panel of jurymen the unhappy conscientious objector would be in a serious plight. The Government thinks that a panel of jurymen might include a conscientious objector who might listen to the conscientious objector who is before the court and decide in his favour. The Government would prefer a conscientious objector to be dealt with summarily before a magistrate. That would leave one man to deal with the case. We would not know the background of that one man. A magistrate hearing the case of an objector on a Monday morning might have had a bad weekend. He might be irritable and cranky on the Monday morning. Any human being who has been through a rather wild weekend knows how he feels on Monday morning.
– Has the honourable member had that experience?
– Yes, I have had that experience and I have felt irritable. That is what prompts me to think that a magistrate might bc irritable and in a hurry to go somewhere else. The objector could not win, whichever way it goes. The Government claims- of course that he would have recourse to an appeal before a judge. The judge might be in the same predicament. We know that none of our judges does anything like that!
-Order! I remind the honourable gentleman that any reflection upon the judiciary is strictly out of order.
– I am not casting any reflection upon the judiciary.
-Order! I am only reminding the honourable member.
– 1 defer to you, Sir. I say it is possible that the honourable judge could have had a bad weekend. With all due respect to the judge, it might be his birthday and he may be of the same mind as the magistrate before whom the objector appeared. I thought I should mention these things. I have been through the mill in my time. I am of a fair age and I suppose I have been here, there and everywhere. I know what happens. With all due respect to you, Mr Speaker, I have known many a magistrate who has enjoyed himself at : a party just as much as I have.
One is at a loss to understand the reasons for the amendment to the national service legislation. The scheme came into operation at the beginning of 1965. Members of the Labor Opposition were at a loss to know why it was necessary in peacetime to conscript the youth of Australia. However, the Government had the numbers and for the first time in history conscription of Australian servicemen for overseas service became an accomplished fact. All residents, including non-British residents, are required to register for service in the half year in which they attain the age of 20 years. On the Minister’s own statement, 326,000 boys of that age have registered for service, of whom 24,000 were enlisted for national service and a further 10,000 have elected to serve in the Citizen Military Forces. That makes a total of 34,000 young men undergoing military training - about 1 in 12 of those who have registered.
The figures I have cited show that quite a large number of men who have registered have not yet been enlisted for service. Only about one in twelve has been enlisted foi service. But suddenly the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) panicked and believed that he should bring down this Bill to amend the National Service Act 1951-1966. However, he had to find a reason for introducing this very dangerous amending legislation which, if accepted by the Parliament, will seriously curtail the liberties of the average Australian as well as new Australians.
A glance through the clauses of the Bdi shows that the Minister proposes to set up an army of snoopers, pimps, top-offs and other miserable undesirables such as are generally found in the back alleys of ail large cities and towns. These horrible types will now gain the imprimatur of respectability by becoming secret agents of this discredited Government which now openly admits its failure to implement!) the power which it already has. But let us look at the amending Bill which we now have under consideration. The Minister said in his second reading speech:
The overwhelming majority of young men and their families a’ccept the obligations imposed by national service.
A little later he said:
A small number, however, are seeking to evade, or are defaulting in their obligations. . . . Amending legislation is necessary to enable more effective action to counter these efforts and ensure that such men do not escape their obligations. Legislation is also required to give effect to a number of the modifications of the national service scheme which the Government considers desirable.
Later he said:
Failure to register is, however, one of the most serious offences committed under the Act since it goes to the root of a person’s liability to render national service. Some technical difficulties have been experienced in the prosecution of those who fail to register and action is being taken to overcome them.
The Minister grimly added:
The penally for the offence is also being doubled. ls it supposed that the doubling of the penalty will force draft dodgers to come out into the open? Who would think that? Only the Minister can answer that. He went on to say:
The present provisions of the Act enable my Department to ask questions bearing on a person’s liability to register or to render service under the Act. There are two deficiencies in this. Firstly, there is no authority to ask questions about a person’s place of living or place of employment so that he may be sought out and hi* national service obligations and liability clarified. Secondly, my Department-
That probably means the Secretary of his Department, the public servant who is at the head of the Department - can ‘ ask questions only about a person of whose existence it is aware. It cannot legally make inquiries of persons or organisations which will reveal the existence of persons of whom it is unaware and who are liable to register or render service and have not done so. It needs to be able to seek from institutions- ‘-.
That is a very pointed word - of which 20-year-olds are likely to be clients or members. . . .
So the Minister has decided on a sinister course which, I believe, has more behind it than meets the eye. There is more involved in this than the conscription of a few 20- year-olds or a few draft dodgers as he called them. There is more behind this Bill than that, and I believe that the people of Australia should be aware of it. He continued :
A number of authorities are voluntarily cooperating with my Department in supplying names, addresses and dates of birth of men of national service agc. A small number, however-
It is interesting to note that the Minister prates on about this ‘small number’ - have not agreed to my Department having access to their records. It is, therefore, proposed to give access to these records insofar as it could be relevant to the detection of those who may be liable to register or render service. This will not only give legal authority to examine records to which my Department . . .
There he goes again with ‘my Department’; not the Government or the Minister but ‘my ‘ Department’. Honourable members will see that he proposes to authorise anyone in his Department to snoop about and find out all sorts of information about anyone - information to which the Department does not at present have access.
This power, if vested in the Government, will be unprecedented in the history of Australia. It will open up fields of secret investigation never before known here. No person or family will be safe from the prying eyes of the common informer. The very word informer’ makes a man shudder. Never before have we had legislation which proposed the imposition on the principals of universities, colleges and schools of obligations such as are proposed now. But we find all this in the Bill, which the Minister now proposes to amend. I shall deal with the circulated amendments later. It was proposed that information would be forthcoming also from executives of sporting clubs, hire purchase companies, trade unions and hospitals, and also doctors, solicitors and banks. People who have money in the bank or records of property or other documents in bank vaults have always been assured by the banks that their affairs would be dealt with in strict confidence, but it will now be open to the Minister or one of his underlings to walk into a bank and have access to those records. The banks are supposed to treat all these matters as confidential, but that will not be the situation in future. I mention this so that the people will understand what is involved. The effect of this legislation will reach even into religious organisations.
Since introducing, the Bill the Minister must have had a nudge from the Cabinet for making some provisions too hot to handle, or perhaps the Government has taken heed of the gathering storm in all sections of the community, because at this late stage it has decided to amend the Bill. It is proposed to amend clause 21 by adding the following sub-sections after proposed sub-section (3a) of section 52 of the principal Act: (3b.) Nothing in this section renders a person liable to be prosecuted for an offence for failing to answer truthfully any question, or failing to furnish any information, relating to another person if-
Those provisions were originally contained in the Bill but this afternoon the Minister for Labour and National Service, evidently in deference to the storm of criticism which has arisen all over Australia, foreshadowed an amendment modifying them. Even religious organisations will be under the control of this complete police state. It seems that this Government is about to launch a major and a dangerous attack on our civil liberties in order to search out what the Minister described in his second reading speech as a small number of draft dodgers - again the expression ‘a small number’ is used. This is, of course, a plausible excuse for the introduction of this Bill. I repeat that it is inconceivable that such legislation could be brought down in an Australian Parliament as it has a very strong flavour of Fascism and Nazism. It will set up an atmosphere of suspicion in family circles and will have the effect of turning one member of the family against the other. The Minister has not indicated what the Army standard of fitness is, but the existing provisions regarding medical examination are being recast to place beyond any doubt the power to call up those liable for service not only for medical examination but for other examinations, such as radiographic, specialist and psychological examinations, which may be required.
Australians should wake up before it is too late. Where is this measure going to lead us? It is the thin end of the wedge towards a complete police state. The Minister said: a very small but apparently growing number of self-styled objectors to national service - they are self-styled since they have not been successful in applications as conscientious objectors or have indicated that they are not prepared to submit applications - are refusing to attend medical examinations when called upon to do so. . . .
What is proposed is the adoption “of a provision under which a person who is convicted of failure to attend or submit to a medical examination may, without prejudice to any monetary penalty which may be imposed under the Act-
And these penalties are now being increased from $100 to $200- . . be required to enter into a recognizance to submit himself to a medical examination to determine his fitness for national service. If he is not prepared to enter into a recognizance the court shall require him to ‘ be detained in custody until that examination has been taken, provided that the detention does not exceed 7 days. If, at the end of that period, there is a continued refusal to undergo medical examination, call-up action will proceed. If the man fails to report as required he will, ‘ of course, be liable to prosecution for failure to obey a call-up notice.
A prosecution may be commenced at any time and is punishable on summary conviction. That is why I made reference earlier to the judge who could have been in any frame of mind. Of course, trial by jury is abandoned. The Government is certainly showing its claws. Although the Act provides for deferment of service in cases where exceptional hardship would be caused, no provision is made for complete exemption in such circumstances. No loophole is left far escape from call-up. This raises a very interesting point. If no-one is exempt from the provisions of this Bill, how will they apply to members of Parliament, bearing in mind that Parliament is an institution? Could the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) be required to forward to the Department of Labour and National Service the names and addresses of honourable members and also the dates of birth of those under the age of 26 years? When I look around this House I feel that there are quite a few very patriotic members who, I am sure, would be only too pleased readily to answer the call to arms, the call to service. I do not want to mention names, but I believe that those who vote so enthusiastically for the other bloke to be conscripted for national service should set a good example and see that the Prime Minister supplies to the Secretary of the Department all particulars of those in this House under 26 years of age, as is required by this Bill. Although they may be members of Parliament, they should not be exempt from the obligations that are imposed on the ordinary man in the street. They should forward all particulars as to their availability for service to the Secretary of the Department.’
– That is right:
– That is right, yes. I would love to see some of them, especially the enthusiastic voters for the other bloke to go, marching out Of the House after asking for leave of absence until such time as the war on the other side of the world is over.
– It would assist the defence effort.
– It would, lt will be interesting to see how they vote on this Bill. The Bill provides that a man who fails to comply with a call-up notice shall, upon conviction, be confined in a civil prison for a maximum period of 2 years. How grim that is. The Bill also provides that men liable for national service are required to have the permission of the Department if they wish to leave Australia before commencing national.’ service. This Government is prepared to go all the way in its determination to conscript Australian youth. It is finding ways through this Bill to conscript more members of the community. This is shown by the requirement imposed on employers not to prevent or hinder an employee from serving. The Minister, in his determination to tighten the screws, even provides in this Bill the power to deduct from a national serviceman’s pay the amount of any fine or cost imposed on the luckless individual.
Taking a broad view of this Bill, I think the proposals are most objectionable and I urge the Australian community to study them closely. Conscription is an ugly word; it is un-Australian and this Government must stand condemned for foisting it upon the Australian nation. The Minister for Labour and National Service and the Prime Minister must be completely naive to think that the Australian people will accept this insult to their intelligence, which means conscripting the youth of our nation at any time to send them to any part of the world at a moment’s notice. I repeat that to satisfy the Minister’s desire to catch a small number of draft dodgers, this legislation will set up a Commonwealth-wide network of pimps, informers and other miserable individuals snooping around day and night, prying into the activities of decent, honest, Australians, seeking information, false or otherwise, which . could even be used for the purpose of blackmail.
In conclusion, as a fifth generation Australian, I would like to say: Australia, wake up to what is going on before it is too late. This legislation is a blot on the fair name of the great Australian nation. Throw it out.
– I have a very high regard for the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Curtin), but he paints a very dark picture indeed of shady characters moving around in the dark. I cannot for one moment see that situation arising. Why should not the Government be given the necessary powers to ensure that all young men, not just the majority, meet their obligations under the law of the land? Nobody likes to be investigated. But we have to abide by the laws of the land. For instance if we do not make a taxation return an official from the Taxation Department is around to see us. If the PostmasterGeneral’s Department suspects that we do not have a radio or television licence we have an inspector at our door. I do not think the people of Australia resent this intrusion.
The National Service Act is working smoothly, except in the case of a small number of young . people who try to dodge their obligations under the law or who, for reasons of conscience, will not enlist. Such young people are aided by groups who support them because of genuine beliefs or merely because of a wish to upset the process of the law of the country. The present Act specifically provides for the rights of conscientious objectors, but I think the question of those who serve and those who do not will be an area of a good deal of controversy until we are able to provide some other form of national service for young people to perform, as distinct from military service, and so long as we need only 8,400 young men each year under the scheme while 100,000 become available. Yes, I would agree with the Opposition that there should be available some alternative service to service under war conditions. But at present there is no power in the Constitution for such service. If there were power, I think I would agree, and I would hope that perhaps the Government would agree, to establishing some other form of service which young people could give to their country - some form of sacrificial service. Unfortunately the Constitution does not provide for this. We need only 8,400 men each year, lt is difficult - perhaps impossible - to have equality of sacrifice under these conditions.
I well remember during World War II that many young men, some quite brilliant, accepted the call without hesitation but did not return. Others did not go at all and today they are in high positions in the Government and private enterprise, enjoying the fruits of the labours of those who did not return. But in war there is never equality of sacrifice. Some who go face little danger, whilst others seem to be constantly in the front line. If there is to be a disruption in the lives of young people, we can merely strive to see that the burden is borne as equally as possible.
Other countries have similar problems to our own. For instance France found that the annual call-up provided far more young men than were needed for the French Army and has scrapped the traditional obligation of every young Frenchman to serve in the. forces. This is a major break with a tradition which had endured since the founding of the Third Republic. Actually it was found that France had an intake of 400,000 men a year but only required 215,000. France now has a scheme requiring all men between the ages of 18 and 50, who are medically fit, to undertake some form of national service. Exemptions are granted to those whose relatives died as a result of service for their country and also in cases of proved hardship. This is not a purely military scheme. There are four alternatives. The first two are military service and defence service to meet the defence needs and to undertake the protection of the civilian population with the use of non-military personnel and equipment. Thirdly, there is service in rendering the technical aid which contributes to the development of government departments and the administration of territories overseas. Lastly, what is called a co-operation service contributes to development of foreign nations that have made a request for it. At the moment 10,000 young Frenchmen, under this later scheme, are serving overseas in under-developed and developing countries. Conscientious objectors have a special place in the French scheme of national service. In peacetime they join what is called a non-armed civil formation which performs what are called public services of general interest’. But in times of general mobilisation they may bc posted to a non-armed military or defence service to perform missions of service or rescue. This could include hospital or field work or administrative duties.
In recent weeks the West German Government has been reconsidering its conscription policy. According to a weekly review of the German Press dated 28th April last, a writer in the Christian Democratic Party’s Press agency suggests that general conscription should be extended to include civilian duty. Furthermore the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation referred to voluntary workers when introducing a bill recently concerning development aid workers in the Bundestag. According to the German bill, people liable for military service who have served at least 2 years as voluntary workers will no longer have to complete basic military training or serve in the reserve. Many of the nations are gradually getting around to this idea of offering young people some alternative form of service if the full number of young people becoming available is not needed for national service. Unfortunately that cannot be done in this country at the moment. In addition, according to my information, young people in France who have committed themselves to working in developing countries cannot be called up for military service or go on the reserves. All countries not requiring a universal callup are faced with the problem of who should serve and who should not.
I suppose there has been more comparison between our system and the American system of call up than there has been with the system in any other country. As far back as 1910 William James, in a pamphlet published by the Association of International Conciliation, first gave expression to the idea of a national training programme for youths. He envisaged, instead of military conscription, conscription of the whole youthful population to form a part of the Army enlisted against nature to redirect energies and talents away from military activities towards a war on poverty, ignorance and disease. I suppose he was labelled a dreamer in those days half a century ago. The idea of compulsory conscription on any other grounds than national defence is not a popular one in democratic thinking and such a system as James envisaged has never materialised in America or indeed Australia.
The two organisations which come nearest to embodying James’s ideas are International Voluntary Services and the Peace Corps. IVS was formed in 1953 as an effort to reorganise all American missionary programmes overseas. Though governed by a board consisting of Catholic and Protestant leaders, its aid programme is essentially non-religious in its concern with the grass root problems of technical assistance, refugee resettlement and agricultural projects. IVS volunteers are offered a 2-year contract, during which they are guaranteed all necessary expenses. IVS recruitment does not guarantee a blanket deferment of military service, but the United States Draft Board officials are sympathetic to the IVS scheme. What generally happens is that a list of the IVS volunteers is passed on to the local draft boards at the time at which they face conscription, and deferment is usually granted indefinitely, with no action being taken on the volunteer’s return to the United States. So that
TVS would not outbid the Army for talented people, it was decided to give volunteers the same pay as they get in the Army.
The Peace Corps is another organisation which was inaugurated under the Kennedy Administration. It works as an official government agency, within the Department of State. Recruitment is, of course, voluntary, but emphasis is placed on training and on the importance, in the volunteers, of specific skills which can be of direct use in the projects undertaken. Peace Corps volunteers are not sent abroad merely to supplement the unskilled labour force of the underdeveloped countries. Voluntary skilled manpower is employed on specific projects in five major areas, including school teaching, health projects, rural development programmes and industrial projects. Programmes undertaken are always at the specific request of the host country, and may be directly under the administration of the Peace Corps agency, or else are carried out in co-operation with private agencies, or under the auspices of the United Nations. Enlistment is for a minimum of 2 years and the maximum period of service is 5 years. As a result of early controversy centred around the Peace Corps and the question of whether it would provide a haven for draft dodgers, it was subsequently made quite clear that the Peace Corps was not a substitute for military service. Volunteers are not exempt from the draft; they are given a draft deferment until they return.
Both these organisations provide the opportunity for young Americans with positive convictions and definite priorities to choose to work in non-military service rather than the armed forces. While there is no official guarantee that an individual is free to choose voluntary service abroad instead of compulsory military training, nevertheless the situation is flexible enough in practice to ensure that overseas volunteers are highly unlikely to face subsequent military service on their return. I should not like it to be thought that I am looking for a scheme which would help draft dodgers. Persons should have a very good reason of conscience for not wishing to serve their country in the armed services when so many of our best young people are doing so.
I think I should try to compare the American system with the Australian system. In balance, our own system of the ballot is much better than the American system. While there is an excess of young men becoming available for national service we will always have difficulty in deciding which ones should go. In the United States the local draft board is the keystone of the selective service system. It becomes a very important body to every young man turning 18 years of age. The men on the board serve without compensation and are usually outstandingly responsible citizens, and often know the young men who come before them. It is claimed that a young man’s friends and neighbours should be able to understand his problems better than an organisation in a distant centre, but I should think that this system places far too much responsibility in the hands of certain citizens who would be the object of sonic influence and prejudice.
The local board consists of three or more men appointed for life by the President of the United States on the recommendation of the Governor of the particular State. These men usually meet in the evening. The board registers and classifies each man that is chosen and the men are then handed over for induction into the Services. The draft boards work within certain guide lines but are largely left alone when they get down to the business of selection. It is claimed that neighbouring draft boards have a different approach to selection. I understand that there are about 4,000 local draft boards throughout the United States. Each board has a full time or part time official to look after the paper work, such as registration and follow-up processes. This person is usually a woman. These people become very powerful by reason of the nature of their work. I can see that this is a dangerous situation. Such persons would possibly know some of the registrants and would have to deal with their cases. Some of these people have been criticised as being too powerful. The local boards have the benefit of the advice of an honorary government official agent and honorary officers.
The system provides that if a young man does not register he shall become subject to immediate induction into the armed Services. I would like to hear what members of the Labor Party would say if that were the case here in Australia. The normal process in the United States is for a young man to call at the office of the local draft board. There he fills in a card with his name, address, date of birth and certain personal details. Shortly afterwards he receives through the mail a questionnaire which he has to complete. A great deal of detail has to be given concerning his family, education and work. He is asked also whether he is a minister of religion, a student preparing for. the ministry or a conscientious objector. If there are any queries he goes back to the board’s clerk, who may refer him to the board’s adviser. If he is classified Al he receives, at the age of 19, a notice of induction into the armed Services and possibly at the age of 194 he could be on his way te Vietnam.
Before the days of the war in Vietnam there might have been some delay in being called up, and the years from 18 to 224 were years of rauch uncertainty because then not so many men were required. Many young men looking for work were at . a serious disadvantage and were told by employers to come back when their draft status had been settled. This was a most unsatisfactory state of affairs and- it could well recur if peace comes to Vietnam. I understand that there are fifty-six State headquarters of the selective service system in the United States’. These offices are responsible for the system and they coordinate the work of the local boards and appeal boards.
I believe that our system is a long way ahead of the American system. Many Americans have advocated the Australian system for their own country. Though our system is claimed to be imperfect, I believe it is the fairest scheme under existing conditions. It has been- criticised by the Opposition but I have yet to be told of a better system while we need only a limited number of men. I cannot see for a moment why the Government ‘should not be given full authority to make inquiries to see that those who wish to dodge the draft are not excluded. It seems quite unfair to me that those who wish to dodge their obligations to their country should not be searched out and brought before the courts. They would have ample opportunity, when brought before the courts to state their case if they had any conscientious objection to serving.
I have read the report of the special committee of the Australian Council of Churches regarding conscientious objection. Section 55 of the principal Act is to be repealed in line with the recommendation of that committee and is to be replaced by a provision which will oblige an employer to report to the Department of Labour and National Service those persons who have not fulfilled their obligations. The Government has virtually met the request that an applicant for exemption as a conscientious objector be immediately provisionally registered as such pending the hearing of his application. This is being done by dealing with a conscientious objector in the civil courts.
I believe that non-combatant duties should be more clearly defined. It would be wrong for a court to draft a conscientious objector to non-combatant duties, thinking he had to serve in, for instance, the medical corps, if as has been alleged the military authorities regard noncombatant duties as including the duties of clerks, storemen or stewards or any work associated with the active support of the campaign, apart from bearing arms, I think the Minister should ensure that there is no misunderstanding between the military and the courts in this regard.
There is a lot to be said for the request for provision of voluntary non-military humanitarian service as an alternative to military service. This has been provided in France and West Germany. But I cannot at this stage support the claims of the Labor Party, as we are limited by the’ Constitution and by resolutions of the International Labour Organisation. I think the suggestion put forward by the Labor Party arose out of the suggestion made by the World Council of Churches. However, the Council must be aware of the difficulties which the Government faces due to the limitations imposed upon it by the Constitution. Nevertheless, if all these problems can be resolved Australia should examine a . scheme which would enable all young people to render some service to their country. I do not see why all young people should not be prepared to give a couple of years sacrificial service to their country, not necessarily military service, between the time they leave school and the time they marry. If Australia is to be developed and to be secure, such service will be necessary. It would benefit a great many young people. Colonel George Walton of the United States has suggested in a recent book that work in hospitals and postal departments and social work in slums and in public works could be tackled on a civilian basis after 6 months preliminary military training. In a developing country such as Australia we could surely find many other spheres of activity, as well as projects in developing countries in our region. Deferments could be considered whenever there was a shortage of professional men.
In May 1966 Mr Robert McNamara made an interesting speech in the United States. He said:
With great respect to a ‘community of effort’ let me suggest a concrete proposal for our own present young generation in the United States. It is a committed and dedicated generation. It has proven that in its enormously impressive performance in the Peace Corps overseas; and in its willingness to volunteer for a final assault on such poverty and lack of opportunity that still remain in our country. As matters stand, our present selective system draws on only a minority of eligible young men. This is an inequity. It seems to me that we could move toward remedying that inequity by asking every young person in the United States to give 2 years of service to his country - whether in one of the military services, in the Peace Corps, or in some other volunteer developments at home or abroad. While this is not an ‘ entirely new suggestion’ it has been criticised as inappropriate while we are engaged in a shooting war. But 1 believe the opposite is the case. It is more appropriate now than ever. For it would underscore what our whole purpose is in Vietnam - and indeed anywhere in the world where coercion, or injustice, or lack of opportunity still holds sway.
That speech created a great deal of controversy in the United States but it is of interest that a gallup poll announced shortly afterwards showed that 72% favoured such service while only 21% were opposed to it. I believe that if the Australian Constitution permitted such service there would not be anywhere near as much difficulty in getting this minority of young people to go to Vietnam, the noise that is created would die down considerably and young people might even prefer to go to Vietnam rather than work on projects in some of the very difficult parts of the world.
Let me say in closing that 1 am concerned that some Australian families are bearing a very heavy burden of sacrifice and, in some cases, serious injury and death, while others are reaping the benefits of that sacrifice. I know that there are constitutional difficulties, but I believe that ways should be found for all young men to perform some form of sacrificial service after they leave school. We have a great country here and we wish to keep it great. I believe that a scheme such as I propose would be accepted readily by young people.. If necessary, we should consider amending the Constitution. I support the Bill. 1 agree that all young people, unless they have very good reasons of conscience, should be prepared to accept the law of the land. I also agree that the Government should have full powers in order to carry out the law as it stands.
– We sit here tonight and listen to old men saying what the young people of Australia should be doing. That is not good enough. Firstly, I wish to clarify the statement, that has been made by some speakers on the Government side of the chamber to the effect that the Australian Labor Party is deriding national servicemen. This Party’s attitude was made clear at the beginning when the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), then Leader of the Opposition, was summing up his attack on the National Service Bill that was introduced in 1965. He made it abundantly clear that the ALP had the utmost confidence in the young people who were being drafted or conscripted and would see that they did not ever suffer from a lack of support from our Party while they were serving overseas. For any honourable member on the Government side to suggest that the ALP has no faith in the youth of today is to misstate the ideals of the Party.
Let me get back to the responsibilities of young people. Members of the Australian Labor Party believe that conscription should be adopted only when it is necessary for the defence of Australia. We believe also that, if conscription of the youth of the nation is necessary, the wealth, resources and manpower of Australia also should be conscripted, so that all sections of the community- that stand to benefit, instead of only a few 20-year-olds who happen to be born- on certain days, will play some part in and make some contribution towards the defence of Australia. I am reminded that twins and triplets can be conscripted. In the case of triplets, three members of .the one family have been obligated to register for national service because their birthday happened to be on a date that coincided with a date on a marble drawn from a barrel and for no other reason, while others have gone free of the obligation to serve. I believe this has served the Government well since the introduction of the first National Service Bill. So few people are affected by conscription that people whose sons or relatives are not among those whose birthdays coincide with the dates on the marbles drawn, from the barrel immediately lose interest. They say: ‘Oh well, weren’t we lucky’. They consider that it is up to the other chaps to defend Australia and wish them good luck. That is about the limit of their gratitude to the’ young chaps who have been called up in this way.
Is it really necessary to conscript youths . for national service? History shows that Australians, among all the people of the world, have a remarkable record of volunteering. If the people of the nation were convinced that they, had a responsibility to enlist’ and go overseas we would never lack volunteers. We have never lacked volunteers in time of a declared war. The Opposition must point out once again that there is not a declared war in Vietnam. Perhaps the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) or some other legal adviser on the Government side might give us the reasons why there is not a declared war in Vietnam today. It is traditional that Australia has never lacked volunteers when the cause has been there.
On 2nd November last year I asked the then Minister for, the Army, by way of a question on notice, how many volunteers there were in the Australian Regular Army. I also asked him how much was spent on advertising. In his answer the Minister told me that $421,462 had been spent on newspaper advertising, $24,059 on radio advertising and $176,110 on television advertising. He also informed me that the Army had received applications from 11,484 males and 1,688 females of whom 2,911 males and 362 females were accepted. Therefore, on those figures,, one volunteer in five was selected. It seems that there is something wrong with the nation. I do not know the rejection rate in the other Services but we are told that medical requirements for national servicemen are exactly the same as they are for the Regular Army. We do not know the failure rate of national servicemen. The Attorney-General said that reasons for exemption from national service were failure to meet medical standards; failure to meet required aptitude levels; and failure to meet the required training potential. It surely is an indictment of the Parties which have formed the Government of Australia for almost 20 years that our medical standards and our educational and aptitude levels are so poor.
I recall comments that were made in 1964 when national service was reintroduced. People said that such a scheme would do some young men good and that they would have to get their hair cut. I think it is the experience of most honourable members that dirty, bearded young men with long hair who wear dirty clothes are not the ones who are accepted by the Army. The men who are accepted are those who come from country areas such as the area represented by yourself, Mr Deputy Speaker. They are clean, good living lads who are not frightened to work and who are ready to accept discipline. I think that the other types of young men are rejected because they are below the required level of training potential. These people are rejected by the Army as most employers would reject them as applicants for jobs. They do not want to be bothered with them because bringing them into line would involve too much humbug. So the employers take the lads who are most likely to come into line, and they are not in need of haircuts or of the type referred to in that context. The attitude of the Australian Labor Party towards conscription is that if a proportion of our manpower is to be conscripted, everybody should be conscripted who has an interest in the defence of Australia.
This Bill seeks to give powers that will coerce people into becoming informers. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) introduced this measure on 1st May last - May Day. Fourteen days later he has introduced an amendment to exclude from the provisions of this legislation to amend the National Service Act members of the families of lads liable for national service, ministers of religion, and legal and medical practitioners. It will not now bc necessary for such persons to answer questions or supply any information about a person liable for national service. Those people will not be asked to divulge information received in confidence in following their professions. But in that respect the legislation will include employers, members of institutions, universities and schools, and executive officers of clubs. Such persons are obliged to provide information under the threat of heavy penalties for failure to do so. At page 997 of Hansard the Minister is reported to have said:
A number of authorities are voluntarily cooperating with my Department in supplying names, addresses and dates of birth of men of national service age.
Tn the Australian way of life one of the most objectionable persons is a pimp - an informer. Originally the Minister sought to include in this legislation members of the families of persons liable for national service. People with whom they have daily contact were to be coerced to give information under threat of a heavy fine. I feel that such a provision would have been extreme. In this measure the Government is seeking powers which the police forces of the States have never sought for the detection of criminals, of persons suspected of committing most serious crimes including murder, rape and treason. The police forces have not sought powers to gain information under threat of a penalty of $200 for persons who fail to comply. The police forces, of course, have certain powers. I think it was the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) who said that this is not a measure dealing with starting price betting; it concerns the nation’s defence.
The nation’s defence concerns all Australians. All people eligible to serve should be affected by national service, but that is not the effect of the present National Service Act. It does not cover all eligible persons. It seeks to force people to give information about lads liable for national service. It seeks to introduce into the community a practice for which there has not previously been a need. I am darned sure that quite a number of Australians have been disturbed by references to secret police, security officers and their operations. Last night the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine) cited instances of such operations. It does not help to quieten the qualms of people who believe that we are approaching a police state. Are we to believe that the ends justify the means? The object of the measure is to seek out a few people who have not registered for national service and are seeking to dodge their responsibilities. Does the need to bring these people to bay warrant the introduction of the Bill? That is the question we must answer.
I come now to the matter of trial by jury. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) pointed out that nowhere else is provision made for the imposition of a sentence of 2 years imprisonment without the right of trial by jury being available. In recent times provisions that do not permit trial by jury seem to have crept into legislation in this Parliament. This is the third time within the last year that we have had legislation which imposes a gaol sentence and which deprives an accused person of the right to trial by jury. The first was the Narcotic Drugs Bill in May 1967. The Australian Labor Party was able to obtain support in the Senate for a provision that allowed for trial by jury and the Government agreed to the provision.
– Does the honourable member think that he will get support on this occasion?
– Yes. The Wireless Telegraphy Bill was another instance of our getting support for such a provision and we may get support even on this occasion. The Government may feel secure now that one of the two principal advocates of trial by . jury on the Government side is a Minister. It will be interesting to see what the Minister does on this occasion. The honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes) said that the trial of a person charged with an offence under this legislation would be simple. AH that was required was proof that notice had been served on the person, that he was that person and that he was born on a certain date. When these matters were proved, the person was guilty and nothing more need be considered. He said that such a trial did not require a jury. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) said that a trial by jury could be prejudiced if one of the jurymen happened to be a conscientious objector. But how much more would the case of a genuine conscientious objector be prejudiced if the magistrate hearing it were a militarist, if he had no time for conscientious objectors and if he believed that all persons should be conscripted. I am not a legal man, but it has become very apparent to me that laws are made by legal men in government and other legal men are earning their living by protecting people, from the laws, and they earn a very good living too. The Bill was introduced on 1st May. But 14 days later the Minister, on very short notice, seeks to introduce amendments. There can be only one reason for this. He seeks to obtain ‘the support of a splinter group in another place.
I find nothing to recommend the Bill. It is just as nauseating as the original National Service Act was. The Bill, which was introduced on May Day, will enable stand-over, Gestapo-like tactics to be used by officers of the Department of Labour and National Service to force people to become pimps, touts and top-offs and to inform on those with whom they have contact. For the reasons I have given, I join with my colleagues of the Australian Labor Party in opposing the measure.
Debate (on motion by Mr Jarman) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
House adjourned at 11.45 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
1967- 68 (to 24 April)- 424.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
When did he order the commentary on the Actuary’s report of May 1967 on the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund for 1959-64 and who is compiling the commentary?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I requested my department to prepare the commentary in June 1967. I have just received the commentary and am giving consideration to the recommendations contained in it. I hope to be able to make an announcement at an early date.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
When will action be taken to give effect to the recommendations of the Loder Committee in regard to taxation concessions designed to encourage the development of Northern Australia?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As my colleague, the Minister for National Development, pointed out in the statement which he madewhen he tabled the report of the Committee of Investigation into Transport Costs in Northern Australia on 19 May 1967, some of the Committee’s conclusions were not entirely clear cut, and ‘the feasibility and implications of some proposals were not fully explored in the report. However, the Government considered that attention to these matters would appropriately form part of its continuing examination of northern transport issues. This is still the case. Since the Committee’s report was tabled, legislation has been passed relating to the carry forward of losses for income tax purposes and the rates of sales tax on household electrical appliances, which were matters on which the Committee made recommendations.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Will he agree to ambulance transport expenses being included with medical expenses as an allowable tax deduction?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I have arranged for this matter to be considered during the preparation of the 1968-69 Budget.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice: -
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: l: The question of issuing radio and television receiving licences for less than 12 months, which is the period at present specified in the Broadcasting and Television Act, has been considered on a number of occasions. However, because of the large number of transactions and recording operations which would be involved in relation to the total number of over three million licences in force, the conclusion has been reached that’ any alteration of existing conditions of payment of fees could not be justified except in the case of hired receivers. In the case of the latter, the firm which hires out receivers pays fees on a pro rata basis calculated on monthly returns furnished to the Department indicating the number of receivers on hire.
Itinerant workers who have in their possession receivers capable of operation only from standard voltage power supplies and who reside in areas where such supply is unavailable would be eligible for refund of fees paid for radio, television, or combined receiving licences in respect of another address if the receiver or receivers were stored for the period in question :ind provided the licence still had more than three months to run. Merely residing outside the normal service areas of radio broadcasting or television stations, however, does not in itself constitute a valid reason for not holding an appropriate receiving licence if a receiver is installed and capable .of being used.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows: - Assuming that the question related to the costs incurred by telephone subscribers in the construction of lines to bridge gaps between their premises and the termination point of Departmental plant, it is usual for this work to be undertaken privately. If requested by the subscriber, the Department may agree to do the work in which case the actual cost is charged to the subscriber concerned, lt would noi be practicable to identify payments made to the ‘ Department for this purpose.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 May 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19680515_reps_26_hor59/>.