26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Lucock) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr FOX presented a petition from certain residents of Australia showing that present laws pertaining to the hunting of kangaroos and related species are inadequate and consequently many species will utimately be exterminated.
The petitioners pray that laws be established to ban the sale of the meat of kangaroos and related species in all States and Territories of Australia; that a ban be placed on the export of the products of such animals; that adequate laws based on scientific studies be established to regulate the hunting of kangaroos and related species and in particular that spotlight shooting and shooting from moving vehicles be prohibited; that a scientific study group be established to aid in establishing the necessary laws and restrictions outlined above.
Petition received and read.
Mr BENSON presented a petition from certain residents of the State of Victoria showing that Australia’s largest marsupial, the kangaroo, is near extinction, because of shooting for commercial purposes, throughout Australia. Laws to protect the kangaroo are inadequate. The number of men employed to enforce the law is inadequate to patrol the vast areas.
The petitioners pray that the exporting of all kangaroo meat be banned throughout Australia; the sale of all articles made of kangaroo hide or fur be banned throughout Australia; the number of men to enforce the laws on kangaroo shooting be increased throughout Australia; the shooting of all kangaroos bc banned throughout Australia; the Government establish a Commonwealth department to preserve wildlife on a national basis.
Petition received and read.
– 1 address a question to the Prime Minister. I refer to the feasibility study into the use of nuclear power in order to blast a harbour at Cape Keraudren in Western Australia. Have we the Prime Minister’s assurance that the report of the study will be debated in Parliament before any decision is taken? If so, would he expect to present the report before the winter recess?
– 1 am not sure of the stage at which we should expect to get the report on the feasibility study, although I think it should not be very long. I will take under consideration the other part of the question that the honourable member has asked and look into the matter of whether the report itself is a document of a proper kind to be presented - whether it is a public document or a confidential document. Certainly, the question of the carrying out of such an act, should it eventuate, is something which I believe the Parliament could well debate.
– 1 address a question to the Minister for External Affairs. My question concerns the Paris peace talks on Vietnam. I ask the honourable gentleman: Has the Government concluded that the recent increase in military activity by North Vietnamese and Vietcong in South Vietnam represents a breach of the agreement for the conduct of the Paris peace talks? Further will the honourable gentleman say whether the United States Government has indicated that there is any point of patience beyond which it is not prepared to go before it will respond in kind to the increase in military activity by the Vietcong?
– Mr Acting Speaker, the Australian Government has not reached a conclusion of the sort suggested by the honourable member. The former United States President, Mr Johnson, said that it was not possible to have productive talks, talks leading towards peace in an atmosphere where the shelling of cities was continuing and abuse of the demilitarised zone was going on. But there was no clear indication at what point this could lead to a breakdown in the talks. All that can be said at present is that this action does cast some doubt on the genuineness of the approach of the North Vietnamese to reaching negotiated arrangements for peace at the Paris talks. The present situation is being closely watched both by the Australian Government and by the American Government.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister as the Minister responsible for the Public Service. I ask: Is a public servant who has been dismissed and whose dismissal has been confirmed on appeal entitled as of right to resign?
– A public servant is not dismissed until the date on which his notice of dismissal comes into effect. The first thing that the honourable member should get clear in his mind is that there is a great difference between being under notice of dismissal for some future date and actually being dismissed when that notice takes effect.
In answer to the second part of the question asked by the honourable member, I have been making inquiries of the Public Service Board in this matter. I have been informed that the practice of the Public Service Board in fact has been that even when somebody is under notice of dismissal the Board would believe that it should accept his resignation, should it be tendered. If this is the fact, as I am told it is, I have asked the Public Service Board to consider the matter of whether, if this is the practice that it follows - and the Public Service Board is a statutory authority - this should not be made known in fact to all members of the Public Service.
– I address my question to the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs. Has the Minister seen a recent Press report which stated that three members of the Labor Party in this House, namely, the honourable member for Wills, the honourable member for Capricornia and the honourable member for Brisbane, had visited the Woorabinda Aboriginal Settlement some 125 miles west of Rockhampton and, in a public statement, had compared it with a 19th century convict settlement? Has the Minister also seen an article by Peter Hall, a journalist for the Melbourne Herald’, who, in response to the statements of the honourable gentlemen opposite, investigated conditions at Woorabinda and stated that he had found 387 well fed, generally content Aboriginals? Will the Minister please inform the House which of these vastly contradictory statements reflects the true position at Woorabinda?
– My attention has been directed to both of these statements. I have not yet had an opportunity to visit Woorabinda, although I hope to do so as soon as I can. There are a large number of Aboriginal settlements in Australia and I have not been able to visit them all. From what I have learned from my officers and from inquiries made it would appear that the truth lies midway between the two statements, but more towards the second - that is the statement of the journalist - than towards that of the visiting members. I do not think the visiting members did a great service to the Aboriginals by trying to exaggerate and distort conditions at Woorabinda. At Woorabinda, and indeed throughout Australia, the situation of the Aboriginals needs to be improved. This is why the Government has set up the Office of Aboriginal Affairs. We do not regard the situation as being ideal. We regard it as being one which is susceptible of improvement, and it is being improved faster now than it has ever been improved before in the history of Australia.
– As the result of a referendum.
– The honourable member does well to say that that is as the result of a referendum which was carried so magnificently by the people of Australia and as a result of the consequent action which this Government was empowered to take and took immediately the referendum was passed. Honourable members, particularly those who have had some scientific and medical training, should realise that this is not something that can be fixed overnight, but I think that they should gain some satisfaction from the fact that the rate of improvement in conditions is faster now than it ever has been before. The improvement is being effected at an accelerating pace and it will be carried through by the Government until Aboriginals are in the same position as other members of the community.
– When did the Prime Minister first learn that an officer of the Department of Customs and Excise had been dismissed from the Public Service last November and that the officer had resigned or might resign?
– I am not precisely sure of the date but it was either yesterday, the day before or, more correctly, within the last week.
– I address my question to the Minister for the Navy. In view of the importance of forward planning in the general development of the Cockburn area of Western Australia, can the Minister for the Navy say what progress has been made following the feasibility study to determine the suitability of Cockburn Sound for the establishment of naval facilities?
– The honourable member is well aware that the feasibility study has been completed and is receiving the attention of the Department of the Navy and Department of Defence. This consideration is still in progress and I am unable to give any direct information as to the programme for Cockburn Sound.
– 1 ask the Minister for the Interior a question. Can he give an assurance to the residents of the suburb of Curtin and other adjacent suburbs in the Woden Valley that their homes and living areas will be freed from the sickening, nauseating stench that comes from the sewage treatment works at Weston Creek? Can the Minister say why it is not possible for engineers and experts employed by the Commonwealth to devise sewage treatment works that are effective and that will not pollute the air and the rivers?
– I will have a look at the substance of what the honourable gentleman asks and give him a considered reply.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. Has he seen reports that the honourable member for Capricornia proposes surgical procedures to limit the birth rate amongst certain Aboriginals and other under-privileged families? As the honourable member is a physician and possibly a future Minister for Health, if Labor ever obtained power, will the Minister reiterate to the nation the gravity of the proposed offence against life and liberty and the seriousness of such a proposal being made by an educated person who must believe in totalitarian powers for any future Labor administration?
– My attention has been drawn to a letter on this subject which was written by the honourable member for Capricornia and which appeared in the Press. I think I can say in fairness to the honourable member that he did not, as far as I can understand, advocate compulsory sterilisation of Aboriginals.
– You have a squeaky voice yourself.
– I take the kettle’s rebuke. The honourable member did say in point of fact that he regarded Aboriginals as second-class citizens - as people, if I remember the phrase, whom the main stream of life had passed and who could not possibly catch up. He therefore thought that their birth rate should be reduced and in particular he advocated sterilisation for this purpose. He went so far as to suggest that the campaign for sterilisation should be backed by colour films and television campaigns so that there would be some measure, perhaps not of compulsion, but of moral compulsion put on Aboriginals to submit themselves to sterilisation. These are concepts which 1 think the Government would certainly reject and which I for one would consider to be rather in the totalitarian groove that the honourable member has mentioned.
I come to the second part of the question. The honourable member for Capricornia is, I would say from looking at him, in fairly good health and his expectation of life would be longer than mine. But I do not think it would be sufficiently long to justify the speculation that he would ever obtain office in a Labor administration. He is unlikely to live as long as that. But 1 do recognise that if this should occur at some time in the very distant future it would be likely that the Cabinet posts would go to members of the left wing of Labor of which, I understand, the honourable member for Capricornia is a distinguished adornment.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Education and Science been drawn to criticism of the tests designed by the Australian Council of Educational Research for Commonwealth secondary scholarships by two Victorian social workers, Judith O’Neill and Janet Patterson, in a publication The Cost of Free Education’ to the effect that these tests have a middle-class bias which prevents accurate testing of children from a low income environment? I might add that this criticism confirms my own impression of these tests. Will he arrange for his officers to confer with ACER to establish whether a test that more accurately reflects the ability of children from low income homes could be developed?
– My attention has not been drawn to the criticisms that the honourable member mentions. I will certainly obtain a copy of the publication and examine it and I will have my Department examine the nature of the criticisms. But I would remind the honourable member that the Commonwealth requirements in introducing this scheme were minimal, that the examination must be external to the school and generally competitive to every person in the State. As a result of this the States themselves have decided what sort of tests should be used in enabling a judgment to be made on who would be awarded a scholarship. All the States have in fact chosen the ACER test which is also coupled with a school assessment to give some general weight to the examination and academic progress of the student at the school. Having said that, I will certainly examine the criticisms that have been made and give the honourable gentleman a considered reply.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Has the right honourable gentleman’s attention been drawn to the attacks upon the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation by Opposition Senator J. L. Cavanagh last week? Is this the same J. L. Cavanagh who was refused permission by a former Labor Prime Minister
-Order! I suggest to the honourable member for Boothby that he reframe his question to the Prime Minister as it is out of order in its present form.
– In view of the attacks by members of this House and the other place, is the Prime Minister satisfied with the integrity and efficiency of the Organisation?
– Yes, I am satisfied with the integrity of the Organisation and I do not believe that it has exceeded its charter in any way. I do not know whether 1 can comment on what was suggested originally but I would, I think, like to say, if it is permitted, something perhaps out of fairness. I do understand that a particular person was refused permission by a Labor government to visit a defence establishment at Woomera. But I am not prepared to say that this was necessarily because he was regarded as a security risk in the full sense of the term. It may well have been that he was regarded by the government at that time as a person likely to stir up grave industrial unrest in a defence establishment.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Health. I preface it by saying that I have received complaints from chemists in my electorate that orders placed on the request of doctors for Hong Kong flu vaccine have not been met and that these rather large orders are for industrial establishments. Further, I ask the Minister whether it is true that further orders will not be met through commercial distributors until early in April and that no single doses will be available at all.
– The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, as is normal, based its production programme on the type of orders that it was likely to get and in relation to the normal progression of orders - that is, month by month. As a result, as it had firm orders from large establishments - organisations that vaccinated in bulk - it concentrated its attention in the early stages of the production of this vaccine on making it up in 50 and 10 dose containers. I think it is probably true that large quantities of single doses will not become available until about 1st April. As well as producing the vaccine the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories is also the reference centre for Australia under the World Health Organisation. I would remind the honourable gentleman that the Director of the Laboratories has recommended that vaccination take place in the period 1st March to 31st May. Therefore, if vaccine becomes available in single doses in the quantities required as from 1st April, on the statement of the Director of the Laboratories, this should meet the situation.
– 1 ask the Minister for Trade and Industry: Is Australia negotiating to charter two ships from Associated Container Transportation Ltd, one being for the European trade and one for the north American trade? Are any problems holding up these negotiations? If so, what are they?
– As was announced by the Prime Minister some time ago the Australian Government has arranged to charter two new container ships from Associated Container Transportation Ltd. One of the ships will run on the Australia-United Kingdom run and will become a member of that conference. The other one will operate in the trade between Australia and the east coast of North America and will become a member of that conference. In regard to the ship which we are to have on the United Kingdom run, a contract is being arranged to have the ship refitted to comply with Australian specifications for Australian seamen. I think I am wrong in using the word ‘refitted’. The specifications are being modified so that the ship will be able to conform to the specifications required for Australian seamen.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has checked the accuracy of a report that a spokesman of the Japanese Foreign Office had commented last week on the allegations that an Australian woman employed at the Japanese Embassy in Canberra had taken documents for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Have the Japanese and Australian governments communicated about these allegations? If they have, was the matter first raised in Canberra or in Tokyo? Was it an Australian or a Japanese Minister or diplomat who first raised it?
– Raised what?
– The allegations.
– I have not checked the accuracy of what I gather is a newspaper report of words attributed to somebody in Tokyo or the accuracy of a newspaper report of rather different words attributed to a Japanese ambassador out here, which seem to run counter to each other, and which in any case I do not believe it was necessary for me to check. If the Leader of the Opposition is in fact asking a question or seeking to ask a question in a roundabout way about whether there is any truth in the allegation that there was an Australian woman employed in the Japanese Embassy in Canberra who was carrying on any activities there on behalf of ASIO, then I am glad to be able to tell him, if he does not already know, that it is the invariable practice not to give either positive or negative information regarding any allegations of this kind which are made about the Security Service. This has been the policy of all governments, including those led by Mr Chifley, Sir Robert Menzies and Mr Holt. And this Government does not propose to depart from it, since the giving of either positive or negative information in one case could open the way to putting grave difficulties in the way of the Service established for the security of Australia in the carrying out of its work. I would merely add to that, as I said before, that I am satisfied that ASIO has not exceeded its charter.
– 1 ask the Minister for Defence a question. Is it proposed that in the interests of progress military establishments will be moved from the Sydney metropolitan area? If so will consideration be given to the suitability of large tracts of crown land on the north coast of New South Wales, particularly between the Graf ton-Casino area and Kempsey, for the siting of military establishments?
– In general terms it is not thought necessary to remove military installations in order to free certain lands in the metropolitan area of Sydney. In connection with an area at South Head, which the Government would hope shortly to make available to the New South Wales Government, it will be necessary to find a new home for the Army activities now being carried on there. But the Army activities at South Head are so closely integrated with Holsworthy and the rest of the military complex in Sydney that I do not think it would be possible to accede to the honourable gentleman’s request. However, I will have it well in mind and will direct the attention of officers of my Department and of the Service Departments to it. If anything can be done by way of investigation along the lines suggested it will be put in hand.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Did the Advsory Board of the Commonwealth Literary Fund, under the chairmanship of Sir Grenfell Price, recommend that Mr Frank Hardy receive a 6 months’ grant of $3,000? Did the Minister representing the Prime Minister on the Committee of the Fund veto that recommendation? If so, what were his reasons?
– The Minister for Immigration will answer the question.
– The Prime Minister is, under charter, Chairman of the Commonwealth Literary Fund Committee. He asks a Minister to attend in his stead, and I do that. At its last meeting the Advisory Board dealt with, I think, thirty-seven applications for literary scholarships. It made recommendations in relation to some of those applications and refrained from making recommendations in relation to others. Those whom the Board and the Committee agreed should be given either full scholarships or part scholarships were awarded such scholarships. Throughout its entire operations the Board’s deliberations have been kept confidential for the very good reason that to release them for general knowledge would greatly affect its freedom of discussion and freedom of proper judgment. It has been alleged that on a certain occasion certain things happened. Few people could have had access to knowledge of the deliberations and anybody who broke confidence in respect of them should not have done so. I refuse to confirm or deny the allegations and I never will do so.
– 1 ask the Minister for the Interior a question. I refer to the undemocratic voting irregularities which occur in every Federal election and in some State elections. The Minister will recall that in this House in 1967 and 1968 I requested that amendments be made to the Commonwealth Electoral Act. Having regard to the fact that a general election will probably be held this year, may we look forward to the existing loopholes being closed by legislation?
– The Government has bad before it for consideration proposed amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act. It has agreed to some and has referred others to me so that additional information may be obtained. I am unable to assure the honourable member that time will permit me to obtain the necessary information for the Government’s consideration and to have appropriate legislation drawn up and dealt with during this session. So I cannot give the honourable gentleman an assurance that the proposed legislation will be before the Parliament prior to the general election.
– 1 address my question to the Minister for the Navy. How many patrol vessels have been delivered to the Navy? Is the number twenty or more? How many are based north of the Tropic of Capricorn?
– The last of the twenty patrol boats was commissioned a week or two ago so we have twenty in operation. Three of this number are based at Darwin. They are the only boats based north of the Tropic of Capricorn in Australian waters.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. If agreement is reached for the building of the Dartmouth Dam as a River Murray Commission storage, will the Minister view favourably an application from the South Australian Government for Commonwealth support for the building of the Chowilla Dam as a South Australian storage? If South Australia built the dam would the Minister agree that South Australia would be entitled, in addition to its guaranteed allocation of River Murray water, to Chowilla’s entire yield in excess of such quantity of water as Lake Victoria might have held had Chowilla not been built? If so, would he support a proposal to amend the River Murray Waters Agreement should this be necessary?
– The question asked by the honourable member is hypothetical. I believe that in the immediate future the South Australian Government will have enough difficulty finding its one-quarter share of the cost of the Darmouth Dam without worrying about obtaining additional funds for building another dam which, under the assessment by the technical committee of the River Murray Commission, on which a South Australian stood, would have at present a very poor yield. However, as I have said, this is hypothetical. Any use by South Australia of water which might be in Chowilla Dam is limited by the River Murray Waters Agreement. It is not for the Commonwealth to say whether it should alter the agreement. The agreement can be altered only by the four governments concerned so we would have to look at the matter in this light of events if and when they occurred. I repeat, this is a hypothetical question.
– I refer the Minister for Defence to the statement he issued to the Press late on Thursday night about the equipment programme for the defence forces. I am sure the honourable gentleman will agree that the statement contains important information, particularly that major defence purchases would be announced during the Budget session. I ask the honourable gentleman: Does he subscribe to the principle stated frequently by successive Prime Ministers in this House that statements on important issues should be made to the House and not outside the House? Does he agree that his statement on defence equipment is an important one? If so, why did he issue it to the Press late on Thursday night and not make it to the House? Why was not this information incorporated in his speech during the defence debate on Thursday night so that it could be debated by the House?
– I agree that a statement on the defence programme will be, in itself, very important. The fact that the statement will not be available until later in this sessional period or early in the Budget session is not of the order of importance which demands an announcement to the House. I may tell the honourable gentleman that I have had notes relating to this matter in my hand for a week. No-one has bothered to ask a question on it. I had it in hand in case some matter was raised during the defence debate on Thursday night. No-one on the Opposition side was the slightest bit interested in it. The debate which was introduced by the Prime Minister-
– Mr Acting Speaker, I rise to order. The Minister knows full well that we cannot ask question unless we get the call.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– The honourable gentleman knows very well that the statement made by the Prime Minister on Tuesday night last introduced a defence debate and therefore it was competent for anyone on the Opposition side of the House the slightest bit interested in that subject to have raised it for debate, in which case it certainly would have been answered.
– Following on the statement by the Prime Minister concerning matters associated with the introduction of nuclear power into Australia, I refer to the fact that insurance companies are now adding endorsements to policies excluding liability from damage to property as a result of nuclear hazards. Whereas this is understandable in the case of damage caused by nuclear weapons of war, are not the generation of nuclear power and the manufacture of radio isotopes for the benefit of mankind here to stay? As the exclusion applies to all damage from radiation or contamination from any nuclear fuel or waste from such fuel, will the Prime Minister look to any avenue at his disposal to convince insurance companies that we live in an atomic age and that the incidence of damage from the peaceful use of the atom is small indeed?
– The question of the protection of property from any nuclear mishap, however unlikely it may be, is a matter which has received attention in Europe and amongst the countries of Europe on other than an insurance company level, lt is a subject to which we ourselves have been addressing our minds, and it is a subject which will need to be discussed between the Commonwealth and State Governments, amongst a number of other matters connected with the time which must surely be coming very close when atomic plants are used for the generation of electricity and no doubt, in time, for other peaceful purposes in Australia. This is, as I say, a matter which in both Europe and Australia has received the attention of governments and which will receive further attention here.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Are Ministers in his Government permitted or forbidden to own shares in oil or mineral companies which may have or seek subsidies or leases or other advantages from his Government or under Commonwealth-State arrangements?
– As has been, I believe, the practice with previous governments, there is no prohibition of which I know on Ministers in this Government holding shares in companies such as the Leader of the Opposition has mentioned. However, for example, in the case of the Minister for National Development who is closely connected with these matters, I believe and understand that he has, at great sacrifice, stripped himself of these various kinds of shares which he held at the time he became Minister and which, if he had continued to hold them, would have brought him great financial benefit, but which he felt it improper to hold in that situation.
– In view of the question asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition of the Minister for Defence, I direct my question to the Minister for Defence. Is it because the Australian Labor Party’s defence policy has not appeared in the newspapers that it is not the fault of the Press-
-Order! I point out to the honourable member for Adelaide that the Minister for Defence is not responsible for the policy of the Australian Labor Party.
– I refer to the statement of the Minister for Immigration of 1 2th February relating to the equivalence of professional qualifications. Is he able now to add to the hopes expressed regarding a rationale for the recognition of migrants possessing high qualifications from overseas? Has any undertaking regarding cooperation been forthcoming from the major professional institutions or associations?
– The progress of events is that there have been meetings with the State Ministers concerned with immigration. At our meeting in Sydney last month or perhaps it was in January - 1 have forgotten precisely - the State Ministers agreed that we should go ahead with my proposals. Those proposals, stripped down to their briefest form, are as follows: There would be a committee of people of very high repute - perhaps 4 or 5 people - and that committee would then be serviced by panels of the various professional1 bodies. The whole operation would be serviced by an executive function from within my own Department. The idea of this is to enable individual universities in Europe to be looked at to see whether - just to give an example out of my head - a 5-year full time degree from Uppsala in Sweden has an equivalence to a degree in Australia. Then, that information would be published and that would be available to State government and professional registration bodies.
So far as co-operation from the professional bodies is concerned, I am absolutely certain in my own mind - and I have indications to show me that this certainty ls justified - that the professional bodies will co-operate to the limit of the extent possible. One of the great difficulties that they have suffered up to now is an absence of knowledge as to what is an equivalent degree. I would hope that, as a result of this activity, we in fact will see opportunities for Australia to recruit here people with intellectual endowment and a skill and professional training which will be of great benefit to Australia both currently at their arrival and in the future.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. Is the right honourable gentleman aware of the serious drought which affects large areas of Queensland and many thousands of primary producers? Has he received recently a request from the Government of Queensland for assistance by way of drought relief? What assistance has been sought? Has sufficient information been supplied? Finally, when may we expect a decision from his Government?
- Mr Acting Speaker, either the honourable gentleman can put the question on notice, if he wants particular dates provided to him, or he can find out from the results of the considerations of the Treasury and of the Cabinet whether any action can be taken and, if so, what.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. It appears certain that the United States of America and 80 other nations will join together in constructing a single global satellite system. Has Australia participated in these original discussions, and is it Government policy to become a contributing partner in this ambitious project?
– The interim committee in relation to satellite communications was set up some 5 years ago, and Australia became a partner contributing 2.75%, I think, of the capital. Quite a substantial return has been realised in the last year or two from this investment. The original proposal was that this committee would continue as an interim committee for 5 years and, at the end of 5 years, it would try to take on a permanent status. At the moment a conference is being held in Washington at which Australia is represented by several people in a 64-nation discussion as to the basis on which a final arrangement could be made for the permanent consortium. Australia, I do not doubt, will be a shareholder and also, I would hope, will continue to be, on the permanent organisation, a member of the management committee as it has been on the interim committee. I think honourable members need have no fear that Australia, so dependent on communication with the outside world, will lose an opportunity of being associated closely with anything which is to our advantage.
– I ask a question of the Treasurer. Is it a fact that certain private banking institutions have made application to the Treasurer for permission to amalgamate? Is it a fact also that one of the reasons advanced in support of the mergers is that they will1 mean more efficiency and more competition? Is it a fact further that Government members and the banks com.paigned against the nationalisation of banking because it interfered with freedom of choice and said that more banks meant more competition? If so, do the proposed mergers indicate that these were false arguments advanced solely for political purposes and that in fact there has never been real competition between the so-called free enterprise banks? Wilt he also say whether the Government now favours the rationalisation of banking and, at the same time, explain how fewer banks mean more competition and wider freedom of choice for customers?
– In relation to the speech just made by the honourable gentleman, I will, at a time satisfactory to the Government, be making its intentions known. Then I hope that I will be able to make a speech that will answer all the arguments put by the honourable gentleman.
- Mr Acting Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. During question time the honourable member for Deakin asked a question about a statement which was alleged to have been made by me in conjunction with my colleagues from Capricornia, Brisbane and Oxley with reference to the Woorabinda Aboriginal settlement in Queensland. It was alleged that we said that the settlement was reminiscent of an earlier century prison settlement. We said no such thing. We said that the prison on the settlement was reminiscent of - I think I used the term myself - Port Arthur, and it is. It is a disgrace to the whole system. There are four-
– I was referring-
– Order! The honourable member, in a personal explanation, may explain where he has been misrepresented. He must not debate the subject.
– I am not debating the subject; I am simply saying-
– Order! The honourable member for Wills simply will not say anything except the personal explanation which, as I appreciate it, he has already given.
– I said that the prison itself was reminiscent of the earlier century settlement at Port Arthur. I was referring to the prison on the settlement and not to the settlement itself.
- Mr Acting Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. In this morning’s issue of the ‘West Australian’ two lies are printed about me which purport to have come from the Leader of the Opposition.I will quote from the article.
– I rise to order. It now appears that the honourable member is not making a statement by right on anything that arose in the House. Furthermore, I submit that if he continues in the terms that he is using, his statement would be out of order in any case.
– On the same point of order, Mr Acting Speaker, I would-
– Order! I point out to the Prime Minister that I have not given a ruling on the point of order raised by the Leader of the Opposition. It has been the practice of the House to permit a personal explanation regarding matters that have been reported in a newspaper about an honourable member. I suggest that the honourable member for Perth should pay some attention to the phraseology he uses in respect of the newspaper report.
– I will accede to your request, Mr Acting Speaker, and say that I was misrepresented in this article in the Press. It stated:
At a Labor Day Rally Federal Opposition Leader Whitlam said that Perth MHR, F. C. Chaney, was apprehensive about his own seat and had sought endorsement for Curtin. Mr Chaney was not available for comment.
At no time have I felt or expressed to anyone apprehension about my own seat of Perth, nor have I sought endorsement for Curtin, nor will any twisting of the truth by the Leader of the Opposition cause me, my supporters or helpers to alter the view that we have that Perth will remain with the Government and, furthermore, that we will add Stirling to the list of Government seats.
– Mr Acting Speaker, on the matter that the honourable member for Perth has raised-
– Order! Does the Leader of the Opposition claim that he has been misrepresented?
– I claim that I am entitled to comment on the matter in respect of which the honourable member said that he was misrepresented. Yes, I have been misrepresented. In the speech that I made in Perth yesterday, and to a report of which the honourable member for Perth referred, I myself referred to newspaper reports in the Perth ‘Daily News’ that the honourable member for Perth was considering seeking his Party’s selection for the vacant division of Curtin. Before this afternoon I had never heard of any denial by the honourable member for Perth of this story in the Perth ‘Daily News’. I had inquired whether he had denied the story and I was told that he had not.
– Did you endorse it?
– His apprehension about his present seat, yes.
-I wish to make a personal explanation. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) claimed that during question time I misquoted a statement by him. If I did, I apologise. I based my question on a report that appeared in the Melbourne ‘Herald’, which I have always considered to be a reputable and factual newspaper. It said:
Four Federal MPs compared Woorabinda with a 19th century convict settlement.
I have this in my hand. I did not on any subsequent occasion see a denial by any of the four members. It listed the four members.
-Order! I think the honourable member for Deakin has given a personal explanation of his own statement in reply to the statement by the honourable member for Wills. I point out to the House that a personal explanation does not entitle an honourable member to continue and debate the subject matter of his explanation.
– Mr Acting Speaker, I do not canvass your ruling, but how does it compare with the permission that was given to the Leader of the Opposition to say that he had not heard something denied and therefore had repeated it? Is a member of the Liberal! Party not able to make the same sort of explanation?
-Order! I suggest to the Prime Minister that the implication behind his thought is not justified. The honourable member for Deakin quoted a newspaper report. It was at that stage that he mentioned that it was the newspaper report from which he had quoted in commenting on the statement by the honourable member for Wills. If Hansard is studied tomorrow, I believe it will be seen that the honourable member for Deakin quoted from the newspaper. To that degree he has been allowed to make a statement along the same lines as that made by the Leader of the Opposition when he said also that he was quoting from a newspaper report which had not been denied. The honourable member for Deakin used some words which he said had not been denied by the honourable member for Wills. As I have already reminded the House, making a personal explanation does not allow the honourable member to proceed to debate the subject matter.
– I take a point of order. I rang the office of the Leader of the Opposition to check whether he did make the statement I mentioned and I gave him plenty of time to tell me whether be did or did not. I did not receive any reply.
– I also take a point of order related to the procedures that have been followed here this afternoon. In the past it has been held by the Chair that any honourable member quoting from a newspaper had to guarantee the correctness of the newspaper comment. Mr Acting Speaker, you did not require such an undertaking from the honourable member for Deakin. In fact the newspaper article is a wrong report of conditions at Woorabinda in that it is far too superficial and misrepresents the criticism of the members of Parliament who visited the reserve, and of whom I was one. I will welcome an opportunity later, at least during the Grievance Day debate, to set the record straight on this matter.
– I claim that I have been misrepresented. The honourable member for Evans implied that I had recommended compulsory sterilisation. This I deny and I have denied publicly. It was also alleged in the reply given by the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs that I had said Aboriginals had been passed by in the stream of life. What I did say was that cultural deprivation and economic deprivation could have racial factors; that there were some Aboriginals, in other words, that have been passed by. I do not refer to Aboriginals in those sweeping terms.
I also have not at any stage made sterilisation a main answer or even an important answer to the problems of cultural deprivation. I have made constructive suggestions with regard to education and rehabilitation which are far more important measures.
Thirdly, I did not say, as the Minister alleged, that there should be the use of television and coloured movies and other forms of high pressure propaganda to advocate sterilisation. What I did say was that these high pressure methods must be used to educate deprived people in hygienic measures, including the use of protective foods in the same way as they are now pressurised to use denatured, refined and processed foods, cigarettes, liquor and patent medicines. These were the things that I said should be done by these methods.
Finally, when the Labor Party comes to power, I will-
– Order! The honourable member for Capricornia has proceeded as far as practicable in his personal explanation.
– This was raised in the question of what I would do when I was in the Ministry.
– Order! The honourable member for Capricornia has given a personal explanation as to where be was misrepresented in regard to the question asked by the honourable member for Evans.
– Would I perhaps be allowed to say that my lack of memory has been misrepresented? 1 have in my hand the actual text-
– Order! I suggestto the Minister that personal explanations have proceeded far enough.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, ] present the report relating to the following proposed work:
Sound Broadcasting Studios for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Collinswood, South Australia.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) proposing that a matter of definite public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The failure of the Government to give a firm assurance that oil drilling and mining in the Great Barrier Reef areas will not be allowed.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. [More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places.]
– Last Wednesday I directed a question to the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) asking him whether he, on behalf of the Government, would give an unqualified assurance that the Commonwealth Government would refuse to proceed with the granting of oil permits in the areas contiguous to the Great Barrier Reef. I clarified this by giving the experiences of an oil well blow out in the Santa Barbara area as well as the natural gas blow out in Bass Strait. The Minister for National Development did not give any assurance, qualified or unqualified, regarding the decision of the Queensland Government to issue permits for oil drilling off the Queensland coast in areas which would include the waters and the reefs which are commonly known as the Great Barrier Reef. In other words, under existing technology, if the Queensland Government issued permits this, of course, would mean that the Federal Government had agreed to this issue. The refusal of the Government to give to the Australian public an unqualified assurance to limit oil drilling or mining on the Barrier Reef appears to be consistent with its policy of increasing the rate of foreign exploitation of Australian assets. Some people prefer to call this plundering.
The people of Queensland and indeed the people of Australia consider that the Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s most precious natural assets. In fact, it is the envy of all nations because of its unique nature, its complexities, its incredible beauty and great potential wealth as an earner of export income. Its geology is of importance to the shape and conformation of the coast line of Queensland. It is to Australia’s shame that the Government has refused to take the initiative.
The Federal Government has refused to disallow any oil drilling on the Great Barrier Reef. It would seem that the Government has succumbed to the pressures of the Queensland Government and the oil and mineral companies to allow oil exploration on the Barrier Reef. Both the State and Federal Governments have turned a cold shoulder to the mounting criticism and representations that have been made by responsible organisations such as the Great Barrier Reef Committee and the Queensland Littoral Society and highly respected scientists working in the fields of marine biology. The Federal Government has turned a cold shoulder to their pleas to tread this path very warily. It must be obvious that the underlying reason why the Government refuses to give a firm assurance that the Barrier Reef will be protected from oil drilling is one of monetary greed. One can understand the desire of companies, particularly foreign companies, to explore and exploit the Great Barrier Reef and off-shore areas. These organisations are interested only in the maximisation of profit and being able to receive a quick and lucrative return on their investments. This is business. One can understand their desire to exploit areas for gain. These companies are not concerned at all with the irreparable damage that could be caused in the event of a ruptured oil well, oil spillage or major blow outs.
Monetary rewards to the State and Federal Governments are great for no significant expenditure on their part. The two Governments would share in the royalties from oil found on off-shore leases. The Commonwealth would receive 40% and the State would receive 60%. In addition, of course, the Treasury is influenced by important balance of payment considerations with respect to the inflow of foreign capital and the earning of export income. All those factors add up to one thing - the motive underlying this is monetary greed. It is very noticeable that there is certainly an analogy here with the Santa Barbara case. ‘Time’ magazine of 14th February states that in 1967 the residents of Santa Barbara fearing oil spillage and fearing blow out had tried to persuade the Interior Department - that is of the United States of America - ‘to create a 2 mile buffer zone beyond the State’s demarcation line where no drilling could take place’.
When oil slicks appeared the residents of Santa Barbara appealed to the Secretary of the Interior for an extension of the buffer which would have included the area which caused the devastation to the coast. The Secretary of the Interior assured the town officials that the Federal Government would keep a close eye on drilling operations. This is exactly what the Australian Government is saying. A Santa Barbara County Supervisor, George Clyde, said:
That is the United States Interior - and oil officials led us to believe we had nothing to fear. . . .
That is, from the oil blow itself. Last year the United States Government profited from drilling. It made $1.6m in rentals, royalties and bonus payments from the Santa Barbara concession. The block that included the oil well rupture was good for S61m in bonus revenues to the Federal Government.
Then there was the rather remarkable position of newly appointed Secretary Hickel, who was found to have had very close monetary connections with some of the major oil companies operating off the coast. So great was the fury of Californian residents that the United States Government was forced to refuse to allow any more oil drilling in the Santa Barbara Channel. One would think that in view of the experience of the ‘Torrey Canyon’ disaster, this recent disaster off the Santa Barbara coast, and the blowout in Bass Strait this Government would be very careful with respect to the issue of oil permits. One would think that, in view of the developments in technology and the knowledge of existing resources in that area, under no circumstances would the Government contemplate, let alone allow, the granting of permits for oil exploration on the Great Barrier Reef.
I am amazed at the statement made by Mr Morley, the State Mining Engineer, as reported in the ‘Courier Mail’, that the Santa Barbara oil well blowout had not affected marine life in that area. He has been severely taken to task by the Queensland Littoral Society and, I understand, the Great Barrier Reef Committee. There is ample authentic evidence to show that damage was done to marine life in that area. There is also plenty of evidence of damage to the physical features of the Cali.fornian coast - so much so that a collective writ for $US 1,300m has been taken out against the Union Oil Company with respect to this blowout. It is of no use for the Australian Government to say that it has no right to interfere with the Queensland Government in its desire to proceed with oil exploration off the Queensland coast because clause II in Part III - Administration of the Common Mining Code, of the Agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, reads:
Except, in so far as the Commonwealth Government has informed the State Government that it is not necessary to do so, a State Government will consult the Commonwealth Government -
before a permit, licence, pipeline licence, access authority or special prospecting authority under the Common Mining Code in relation to the adjacent area of that State is granted, renewed or varied; . . .
The clause goes on to explain the spheres of influence of the Commonwealth Government.
What concerns the Opposition is that paragraphs (a) to (e) of clause 11 (2.) of the Agreement deal principally with the function of the Commonwealth Government in respect to Constitution, namely, trade, commerce, external affairs, taxation, defence, lighthouses, fisheries and communications. Nowhere is there any mention of the Commonwealth’s role in relation to the possible destruction of an area such as the Great Barrier Reef, or its marine life. I suppose that one could argue that the Commonwealth could come in under its fisheries powers. This is only beating around the bush. If the Federal Government wanted to do so, it could give an unqualified assurance to the people of Queensland and of Australia that mining and oil drilling will not be allowed on the Reef. It has been stated that permits for oil exploration off the Queensland coast will be issued in the first week of March, but up to the present time there has been no issue of permits. Under the Agreement it is clear that, if a permit is issued by the Queensland Government, the Federal Government will have given the State of Queensland its full blessing to proceed with oil exploration on the Reef.
There is no point in detailing why the Great Barrier Reef is different from other major reefs of basaltic or granitic conformation throughout the world. The Great Barrier Reef is composed of living cells, of coral polyps. It is a unique creature in itself. I suppose from time immemorial it has been undisturbed. It has built up over 1.200 miles of priceless asset off the coast of Queensland and no government, State or Federal, has the right to interfere with that priceless asset. Such interference is for one reason and one reason only - monetary greed, firstly, on the part of the principal international companies who want to get in there and drill holes without any concern for the damage that might result, and secondly, by the State and Federal governments to get royalties and other benefits such as balance of payment benefits.
One only has to read the very trenchant speeches made by one of Australia’s most eminent marine biologists, Professor Burdon Jones of the Townsville University College, to see how dangerous is this game of drilling for oil on the Reef. The fact that the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government have sent experts overseas does not alter the fact that regulations for the safeguard of the Reef are out of date. It has been admitted by Secretary Hickel of the United States Government that the regulations in this respect are IS years out of date. I submit that there should be an unqualified moratorium on all mining and drilling operations on the Reef. There should be no escape clauses unless it is clearly impossible for any damage to be occasioned to the Reef in the event of an oil well rupture, and the temptation of lucrative oil royalties for monetary gain must be resisted. Finally, I submit that the Federal Government should take the initiative to bring in a programme of intensive research to secure basic details and information on the geological and biological structure of the Great Barrier Reef.
– There is not really a great deal of difference between the attitude expressed by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and the attitude of the Commonwealth Government in this matter. The honourable member for Dawson has said that we have to be very careful in respect of future permits for oil exploration, and I agree entirely with what he said. The honourable member said that the Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s most precious assets and that it is unique. The Government agrees with this. The last thing the Government would want to see is any desecration of this quite unique world wonder. The Commonwealth Government has been in very close consultation with the Queensland Government on this matter. I want to ask whether there is any evidence to indicate that the Commonwealth Government or the Queensland State Government has acted irresponsibly in this case. I have had personal discussions on this subject with Mr Camm, the Queensland Minister for Mines, twice in the last two days. He understands the problems. In fact not so long ago be said:
I know that there has been a great deal of controversy about the damage that mining could cause to the Great Barrier Reef. No-one is more conscious than I am of the value of the Great Barrier Reef. 1 have spent a lifetime in the area, and my electorate takes in some of the best parts of the Great Barrier Reef.
This is the man who, in consultation and co-operation with the Commonwealth Government, is seeing that the Reef is not despoiled.
What has the Queensland Government done in the matter? Firstly applications were received to mine two areas of the Reef. One was the Elliston Reef and the other was Pentecost Island. The application in respect of Elliston Reef was refused by the Minister for Mines and an appeal was lodged with the Warden’s Court. The Warden’s Court ruled that a permit should not be issued to mine Elliston Reef. The Queensland Government upheld the decision and refused to issue a permit. Similarly, the Queensland Government refused to issue a licence for the mining of copper on Pentecost Island. In fact, the Queensland Government has let it be known that it does not intend to permit mining of any kind on the Great Barrier Reef. The Commonwealth is having discussions with Queensland about searching off-shore for other than oil.
The Queensland Government has brought Australia from overseas a person whom it believes will be able to give the best possible advice as to what action should be taken on the Great Barrier Reef. I know that it is always possible to find fault with a report and even with the person making the report. Nevertheless, Dr Ladd, whom the Queensland Government has brought to this country, is regarded as a world authority in this field. The Queensland Government has studied bis report and has made it available to us.
The Queensland Government is on the point of sending to Santa Barbara a senior officer of its Department of Mines, who will have discussions with authorities there.
An officer of the Department of National Development will leave Australia tomorrow to have discussions with authorities in Santa Barbara. Let us not get the tragedy of Santa Barbara out of perspective. We must remember that perhaps one-third of the world’s oil comes from beneath the sea. In recent years there have been three cases of off-shore wells leaking and taking some time to plug. We were fortunate that in the Bass Strait incident damage to marine life appears to have been negligible but I do not doubt that considerable damage has resulted from the incident at Santa Barbara. We are out to get the facts. Once we have all the facts we will ensure that future applications for mining permits anywhere in Australia are closely policed. There has been no drilling on the Great Barrier Reef itself. Three wells have been drilled but none of them is closer that 20 miles from the Reef. Some drilling is being done in the Gulf of Papua but not on the Reef.
We are concerned that any proposal might lead to damage or desecration of this magnificent wonder, but we cannot ignore the fact that it is not easy to determine where our powers lie in this matter. I am told on the best legal advice that any land above low water mark is the property of Queensland. A tremendous number of islands on the Reef are above low water mark and, therefore, are Queensland territory. If we accept that Queensland has authority over an area extending seaward for 3 miles from all its territory it would have authority for 3 miles ali around those islands. So it is not simply a matter of the Commonwealth making a decree, as has been suggested by the honourable member for Dawson, and saying to Queenslanders: To hell with you’. We must respect Queensland’s authority wherever it exists.
I reiterate that the Commonwealth is worried about the effects of mining on the Great Barrier Reef. The Commonwealth is unlikely to approve any future applications in this area until more is known of the possibility of causing damage. What would a Labor government do? It is interesting to note that the Queensland Central Executive of the Labor Party yesterday called together Queensland Federal members of Parliament.
– Not me.
– I do not know where the honourable member was, but perhaps the word has by now got through to him. An election is to be held in Queensland soon. Would this matter that has been raised in the House today have anything to do with Queensland politics? I wonder. It is obvious that, as the Queensland Parliament is not sitting, the only way to get into the newspapers matter supporting the Labor Party is to have a discussion in this House. What has Queensland done about the Great Barrier Reef? Mr Camm, Queensland Minister for Mines, has reminded me that it was a Labor government which issued the only dredging lease ever to have been issued in perpetuity. The lease was for the mining of mineral sands on the Queensland coast. That lease cannot be repudiated. The honourable member for Dawson spoke about monetary greed. The only instance we have of monetary greed is the action of a Labor government. There is no need for me to say more. This matter is being closely examined. I believe that basically all people are concerned to see that this great national asset is not desecrated. The Commonwealth will certainly do its utmost to see that the Great Barrier Reef is not despoiled.
– I support the remarks of the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). I was glad to hear the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) give certain assurances with respect to the Great Barrier Reef, but the people of the north are not so easily assured. They are worried about oil exploration and mining activities on the Reef. They fear the discovery on the Great Barrier Reef of deposits of oil and natural gas. If the chance of mining operations on the Reef proving dangerous is only one in a million we must not take that chance. The Reef is not only a great natural wonder; it is a barrier to the east coast of Queensland. If the Reef goes, all of the towns along the east coast will go with the first big blow from the sea. For countless years the Reef has been protecting Queensland’s east coast.
We know that attempts to stop the oil spreading from the damaged ‘Torrey Canyon’ by using detergent caused greater damage than the oil itself would have caused. If these measures were taken to deal with an oil leak on the Reef what would happen? Assurances are all very well, but we want something better. The Minister accused a Queensland Labor Government of seeking monetary gain in granting a licence to exploit mineral sands on the Queensland coast, but the exploitation of those sands did not interfere with the Great Barrier Reef. If there were a gas leak outside the Reef the leaking gas could drift on the wind and prove a menace to the Reef and to Queensland.
The Labor Party does not raise this matter for political purposes. The Minister will have had letters from the Queensland Chamber of Commerce on this subject. The People the North Committee has presented submissions on the matter to the Senate Select Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources. I trust that the Committee will take notice of those submissions. The people of the north are deeply concerned by the prospect of drilling and mining operations on the Reef, lt is too late to do anything once tragedy has struck. In 1922 part of the Reef off Bowen was affected by a cyclone. Today that part of the Reef is only just beginning to show life again. So honourable members can see how long the Reef takes to recover from damage. It could take a century for the Reef to recover from the damage caused by one oil slick. While the Reef is recovering from damage what will happen to coastal towns such as Mackay, Townsville and Cairns, some of which are only 10 feet or 12 feet above sea level? For many years now it has been a protection for those towns yet with one stroke of the pen and merely for monetary gain, as has been pointed out by the honourable member for Dawson, many towns and people will be affected and more money will be lost than will be gained from the oil.
I know that it is not easy to administer the law. I believe that the Federal Government has the right to ratify the proposal relating to off-shore oil drilling operations. If that is so, I appeal to the Government to exercise its right and not allow any offshore drilling along the Queensland coast because drilling anywhere along that coast could be detrimental to the Great Barrier Reef. The Reef is not only one of the wonders of the world. It has a potential for tourism. The tourist industry has not been developed fully; far from it. The Reef is a barrier for the whole coast. It has great fishing potential because the organisms living on the Reef feed the fish and so the fishing industry benefits.
I know that the Queensland Government has control over the islands which jut out of the water at low tide and I do not suppose there will be any difficulty in relation to them. The operators probably will go to the other side of the Reef. That is what concerns me. Even if drilling is allowed 100 miles out from the Reef, the Reef could be damaged. Experts will tell you that there is 1 chance in 1,000 that any damage win occur but we cannot take 1 chance in 1,000 or 1 chance in 10,000 or even 1 chance in a 100,000, because if the Reef is damaged it will be too late to do anything to save it. I have mentioned already that a portion of the Great Barrier Reef off Bowen which was devastated by a cyclone in 1922 is only now, in this year 1969, showing signs of recovery. If any part of the Reef is damaged the towns on the east coast of Queensland will suffer from the heavy cyclonic weather and tidal1 waves which have devastated other parts of the country. We do not want that to happen.
Recently I have received letters - I think the Minister has too - from local authorities along the coast. It cannot be claimed that there is anything political in the fact that they have written. They are concerned about the matter more than either the Federal Government or the Queensland Government is concerned. The local authorities do not all comprise Labor supporters. There are a lot of Government supporters among them but they do not agree with the Government in this regard and they have asked me to stress strongly - I cannot stress it strongly enough - that the Commonwealth Government should examine the position more carefully and, if possible, impose a complete ban on mining or drilling on the Great Barrier Reef. The Australian Government has not yet explored the whole of the Reef so we do not know the composition of the Reef and the life that it supports. The matter has not been tackled earnestly enough by the Government. I believe that the university at Townsville is setting up a group - I hope it will be financed by both Federal and State governments - to examine further the Great Barrier Reef so that we will know more about the Reef and the life on it which should be preserved.
We know too that humans are having an effect on the Reef. I asked a question this morning about the patrol boats that are available to patrol the area and I learned that the only boat available for the east coast of Queensland is in New Guinea. Others are at Darwin, too far away altogether. One patrol boat has a tremendous length of coastline to patrol. I only wish that I could measure it. Fishermen are doing enough damage already fishing for clams, without our worrying about oil slicks. We cannot take a chance, no matter how small the chance is, because once the Reef is destroyed it will never recover to what it is at the present time, even if we took precautions for the next 100 years.
I believe that the honourable member for Dawson had every right to raise this problem because we have learned that the Queensland Government intends to offer leases for mining and drilling along the east coast of the State. When the leases were offered we expected them to be taken up and the hue and cry started. I do not care who takes the credit for any action the Government may take. Recently the Mayor of Cairns tried to take credit for a law being introduced to protect Australia’s fishing rights. I do not care who gets the credit as long as action is taken. We have been assured that tenders will be let for oil drilling and mining but we have not been assured by the Commonwealth Government that the work will not be permitted to go on. If the Commonwealth has not the legislation already to give it power to do so, I suggest that it look into the question very carefully and try to have relevant legislation passed, or at least have an understanding with the Queensland Government, so that the State Government will not proceed with this foolish idea of drilling for oil for the sake of a few thousand dollars because drilling will cause millions of dollars worth of damage to the Queensland coast and it will cost even more to regenerate the Great Barrier Reef and return it to its present condition.
– Let me say at the outset that both the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton) know my feelings about the Great Barrier Reef and that I consider that the preservation and conservation of the Reef a matter of vital importance. Their interest and concern in this matter certainly is no greater than mine, but perhaps in looking at it we are getting things a little out of perspective. The honourable member for Leichhardt mentioned that people in the north are against the proposal. I have spoken to lots of them and when you mention drilling on the Reef they visualise thousands of off-shore rigs drilling away like mad all over the Reef. That is not true. That is why I feel we may be getting this a little out of perspective.
The honourable member for Dawson said that the Reef in its present state is a great income earner. It most certainly is. But if oil were found in payable quantities off the shores of Queensland could it be denied that the Queensland economy would not receive a tremendous boost? That is an aspect we must consider, as well as the preservation of the Reef. These things have not gone unnoticed. I have mentioned already my concern. I have spoken to State Ministers on this subject and they too realise that you just cannot walk in, start drilling, let things happen and hope for the best. I understand that at present information on these problems is being sought from overseas countries which have the technical know-how. Further, if I remember correctly, special conditions are set down for off-shore drilling on the Reef. One of the big firms which was thinking of tendering turned down the proposition because it said that the conditions were intolerable and the proposition would not be economic. Those conditions still apply. We have to look into what the Queensland Government wants before we become too heated in these debates.
I support the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) who said that there is no mining on the Reef and that the firms which applied for mining rights on the Reef were turn down promptly. I hope that the State Minister will continue to turn down any applications for mining on the Reef. If I remember correctly, at one stage two companies wanted to mine the dead coral. They were refused permission to do so. The honourable member for Dawson said that both Federal and State governments had turned a cold shoulder to pleas from various organisations to preserve and conserve the Reef. That is not so. The honourable member for Leichhardt mentioned a couple of the organisations concerned in this matter but there are lots of them. I am right in the thick of them and often receive representations. It is not right to say that we have turned a cold shoulder on those representations. The Minister for National Development said that he was concerned about this matter of drilling on the Reef. We are all concerned about it. I believe that it can be done if there is special, close scrutiny and if conditions are laid down to police it. I do not care how it is done, but there must be correct and close supervision of it. The people in Queensland inform me that they are not flying into this matter haphazardly - that these questions are being considered.
The honourable member for Leichhardt said that honourable members in this House who represent Queensland electorates are concerned about this matter. Of course they are concerned. This is what makes it all the better. When a sufficient number of people are concerned they will see that these conditions are enforced when offshore drilling is commenced. Because of the conditions that are applied to the first permit it may be uneconomical to continue drilling. Who knows? Let us see what happens. Again the Minister for National Development explained that Queensland and the other States have certain rights and that the Federal Government cannot ride roughshod over these rights. I think the Minister said that the Federal Government cannot say: ‘To hell with them. We will ride over the top of them.’ The States have certain rights. I believe that the Federal Government, with the technicians and other people whom it has at its command, can advise the State governments and assist them to apply conditions which will ensure safety in off-shore drilling operations on the Reef.
I have studied how the off-shore drilling will be conducted. I have had certain things explained to me but I have not received sufficient information. I am still seeking it and it is still coming through. I want to know how this off-shore drilling will be conducted. The more I hear of the conditions that are to be applied and the more I talk to the State Ministers and to the Ministers in this Government about this matter - and, as honourable members know, the Barrier Reef and fishing rights on the Barrier Reef are a bit of a thing with me - the more confident I am that the State authorities will not allow this drilling to get out of hand and that it will be correctly supervised.
– Australia comes eighteenth in the list of countries producing oil. One reason for this is the slow rate of prospecting. About oneeighth of the earth’s surface is sedimentary basins which produce oil. Two-thirds of these are on dry land, and Australia has a good share of them. The lack of strong topographical features make them hard to locate in Australia. There are 30-odd known basins in Australia and New Guinea, and most of these have been found only in the last 16 years or so. This basic survey work is done largely by the geology and geophysical branches of the Bureau of Mineral Resources. More off-shore basins may be discovered, but most of the dry land ones probably have been identified, as honourable members no doubt realise by the recent map display which we saw in King’s Hall.
To find oil traps in these basins requires very delicate and expensive measures, which have been refined in recent years. I refer to seismic, gravimetric and magnetic surveys. This work has been left mainly to private firms. The Government has subsidised and exempted private firms from taxation rather than set up its own oil detection branch of the Bureau of Mineral Resources, and it has no equity whatever in the oil holdings. This is a short-sighted policy which means that we pay twice - once for the survey and then for the profits earned by the foreign owners of our oilfields and drilling rigs. We give them free all our geological information from rock cuttings, drilling cores, mud samples and radioactive logs taken during drilling, which locate and measure the depths of basins and identify porous and impermeable layers and other information valuable to oil searchers. I believe that it is within the power of the Commonwealth to take over more initiative, more of the decision making and more of the control as to where surveys and development take place.
After the Rough Range strike in Western Australia in 1953 twenty wells were sunk until 1961 when Moonie was discovered. About 150 to 200 wells have been drilled each year ever since. There are still vast sedimentary areas which have not been intensely explored. Many of them are about as accessible as the Barrier Reef. This raises the strong suspicion that the present calling of tenders is a panic measure to get drilling started before public opposition has time to exert effective political pressure. I point out to the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) that this is the reason why we have again raised this question. He suggested that we raised it because it is an election year and that the question of oil is on the programme in the State elections. But we raised this matter repeatedly last year. We were prompted to introduce this urgency debate today because it has been mooted that tenders are to be called actually to commence drilling. We were bound to raise this matter, whether there was an election pending or not.
This panic measure which has been taken to get drilling commenced on the Reef also underlines the failure of the Commonwealth to incorporate in the offshore oil agreement some stronger Commonwealth control over off-shore exploration and the production of petroleum, whether it is inside or outside the 3-mile limit. I cannot accept the Minister’s gentlemanly inactivity when he says that we must respect State sovereignty on the land. He can use his authority to influence State policies. The generous subsidies are unparalleled in the world since West Germany has ceased to give direct subsidy for oil search, and the permit areas and durations of work requirements are unusually liberal, when compared with those applying in any other country. We are told that this liberality is to encourage overseas capital and know-how, but in fact it is doubtful whether. foreign firms are influenced much one way or the other by these concessions. These concessions should be largely reserved to encourage small Australian operators, in the same way as we use tariffs in other fields to protect local enterprise in its early stages against major foreign competition.
The total value of our known fields exceeds the $500m that has been spent on research and another estimated $500m that will be needed for development. The shares of the large foreign firms have not decreased in value when they have taken risks of the size that they have taken in this country. When we compare the position with other countries we find that in 1961 we had reached a drilling rate of 0.5 foot per square mile, compared with 2.8 feet in Algeria, 8 feet in Libya and 14.7 feet in Nigeria. All these rates were four times as great in 1966. In the case of Libya it was twelve times as great. So Australia is still lagging behind these larger producers.
One other matter of which we must be aware in opening up new fields in a hurry before we properly assess the position is the depleting of our reserves faster than they can be replaced. With our known reserves there is no urgency to plunge into this controversial field when international knowledge about handling leaks and blowouts is so incomplete. The honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) says that only one drilling will not hurt us. This is rather like the excuse of the nobleman’s son who was hauled over the coals for fathering the housemaid’s baby. He begged his father to overlook this one mistake as it was such a little one. One well can tragically ruin the Reef. I appeal to the Minister and to the Government to think twice about this matter and to bend their energies to achieve a sane and sensible delay in drilling and not to encourage the State Government to allow development in this controversial area which could destroy one of Australia’s most precious natural reserves. This natural reserve can never be replaced, whereas oil reserves can be replaced. We know for instance that in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics a huge artesian basin of water with a temperature above boiling point has been tapped. We know that other countries have developed gassification of coal measures. We know the work that is going on concerning atomic fuels and other substitutes for oil. Eventually, before we use all of our oil we probably will be getting most of our energy from the sun. With all of these new techniques there waiting to be developed, it is wrong to go all out for oil, which can be replaced as a fuel. This development is not necessary.
What is more important is the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef, which can never be replaced, whilst oil can be replaced.
- Mr Acting Speaker, on 15th October last, I supported certain comments made by the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton), my genial and very friendly associate from the north, when he expressed his alarm and his concern at the possibility of the Great Barrier Reef being despoiled. I have not had cause to alter my views on this matter. However, in the meantime, both the State Government and the Federal Government have indicated clearly their genuine concern in this matter and have acted to emphasise the fact that they intend to enforce legislation already existing for the protection of our Reef. I refer specifically to the State Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act of 1967 which gives the Queensland Minister for Mines, Main Roads and Electricity, Mr Ron Camm, wide powers to control oil drilling operations in the waters of the Reef.
What about this man, Ron Camm? If honourable members knew this fellow they would know first of all that be has pretty sound political nous. I suppose that, apart from the Federal electorate of Dawson and the electorate of the honourable member for Leichhardt, which is far more comprehensive than Mr Camm’s electorate, there is certainly no State electorate which is more concerned with matters affecting the Great Barrier Reef than the State electorate of Whitsunday represented by Mr Ron Camm. This man has been brought up in these areas. He has not only the political good sense to appreciate the necessity for his taking a stand but also the natural upbringing which causes him to take a genuine and sincere interest in these matters.
On 10th February last, the Premier of Queensland stated quite specifically that the Queensland Government appreciated the great need for the protection of this marine wonderland and its preservation for present and future generations. He stated that the Government has insisted that the most stringent conditions and regulations should be applied to ensure that no harm would come to the 1,200-mile Reef. On 30th October last, our own Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) gave a similar assurance. So, it would appear that the concern felt for the Great Barrier Reef has occupied the minds of people other than members of the Opposition. Further, let me state quite decisively that, if any risk at all exists to the Reef itself or if any possibility exists of an oil eruption which would result in the oil pollution of our shores, I say: ‘Hands off. No mining should be permitted.’
The Great Barrier Reef which extends from near the Fly River in Papua to Gladstone in Queensland, a distance of approximately 1,250 miles, involving an area of approximately 80,000 square miles, is something that Queenslanders hold dear and cherish. As was stated recently by Sir Garfield Barwick, 1 think, this is not only a Queensland possession but also something in which all Australian people take great pride. In those 80,000 square miles numerous atolls and small islands are to be found. Actually, about 350 of these islands and atolls are named.
Over the years, various threats to the Reef, including its despoiling, have arisen. The Great Barrier Reef is threatened by the action of tourists who break the coral and who collect shells. It is threatened by limestone mining and by the starfish called the Crown of Thorns or, if honourable members like to be technical, the Acanthaster Planci, which eats the coral. There is a predator of the starfish which is the triton shell. Here again, our tourists, in all inocence no doubt, collected these shells with great enthusiasm until the practice was banned by the Queensland Government which had spent not less than $30,000 on research into this subject. Unfortunately, by this time, the starfish had destroyed 85% of the coral at Green Island off Cairns. I might mention that a diver has been employed there. He collected 15.000 starfish in 3 months. Just the same, the damage was done. A further threat to the Great Barrier Reef is the digging on the Reef for giant clams. These clams can weigh from i ton to 1 ton. As honourable members will understand, these giant clams have been there for over 100 years and are deeply embedded in the coral. The digging out of these clems quite obviously has contributed very greatly to the despoiling of our Great Barrier Reef.
On the subject of this business of the Government taking no concern in what is happening and what could happen to the Great Barrier Reef, let us look at the recent operations there. These involve the Bureau of Mineral Resources which is controlled by our very likeable, highly respected and genial Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn), who is sitting at the table. The Bureau and the Department are cooperating closely with the Japanese in the operations of a deep sea submersible research vessel, the .V–:…:, and its mother ship, the V—-I-‘ The ‘Yomiuri’ is conducting prolonged scientific research into our adjacent waters generally but more specifically into the various elements affecting the Great Barrier Reef. The ship has been operating out of Townsville and Gladstone. lt has been agreed that the Australian and Japanese scientists involved in this operation shall exchange and publish jointly their findings. This co-operation, in what is obviously a genuine attempt, indicates the close, deep and genuine concern which our governments have for the Barrier Reef, lt is quite unconvincing for the Opposition to infer that the Commonwealth Government is not concerned at the despoiling of the Great Barrier Reef. ‘
You know, Mr Acting Speaker, I often become very depressed when I think of what has happened to the once great Australian Labor Party. I get depressed for this reason: Never mind about all the matters of being left wing and those sorts of things. I think that the old political nous is missing. I suppose that the Australian Labor Party still regards the public as being the kind of people who will jump when the political whip is cracked. Take for example, if I may, the Queensland Government and its operation at Gunyalia which involves hundreds of millions of dollars, which will employ thousands of people and which will see the building of a new town. What does the Australian Labor Party do? It says that this development is selling out the country to overseas interests. What did the miners at Ipswich say? The miners at Ipswich ask: What is going on with our Labor Party? We stayed underground recently because we objected to works being closed down and jobs being lost because no development was taking place’. Certainly, mines were being closed down.
Now, here is the opening up of a great new coal mining venture. Most of the coal mines to be developed will be in the electorate of Kennedy, I might mention. This concern will bring with it wonderful development including new towns and all those things that go with such development. I say to members of the Labor Party: You walk into one of these towns, start running down the Queensland Government and see how far you get These people are enjoying conditions that they never knew existed in the old days. In those times, if one travelled from Cloncurry to Mount Isa or from Townsville to Cloncurry, one would find railway employees living in hovels, cooking their meals over open fireplaces. These were the conditions that existed in those days. So, I worry about this absolute lack of political nous. Here we have it again. We have the wool being pulled over our eyes.
I would like to conclude on this note: If there is any danger whatsoever to the Great Barrier Reef, I go along every inch of the way with the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) and my good friend from Leichhardt. If there is any danger at all of the Great Barrier Reef being despoiled or any danger of the pollution of our shores by eruption of oil, let both the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government say: OK, we will abandon this additional prosperity. Hands off the Barrier Reef.
-Order! The discussion is now concluded.
Debate resumed from 27th February (vide page 307), on the following paper presented by Mr Gorton:
Defence - Ministerial Statement, 25th February 1969- and on the motion by Mr Erwin:
That the House take note of the paper.
for his rather weak reply to the defence statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). However, it must be remembered that if the Leader of the Opposition had made a speech giving any firm and realistic defence policy for the Australian Labor Party it would have resulted in violent denunciations from within his own Party. If anybody doubts that statement, a close study of the speeches made during this debate by members of the Opposition, and especially by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), will demonstrate its truth and will indicate just how thin was the ice on which the Leader of the Opposition was skating. In fact, on occasions the ice gave way or, rather, was broken for him by some members of his own Party. As is not unusual, the Opposition has been left floundering in this debate - a fact which will be apparent to the Australian electorate. For example, the honourable member for Yarra opened his speech by saying that he did not believe that the statement by the Prime Minister was a matter of great significance. That is how important he rates the problem of Australia’s defence; he says it is not of great significance.
Occasionally there is made in this Parliament a speech which is of truly historic importance for Australia - a speech which enunciates policies which will exert a profound influence on our position in the world and on the Australian people themselves. It is my firm opinion that the Prime Minister’s statement on defence was such a speech. It does not seem to have been appreciated by the Opposition that here, for the first time, was an acceptance by this country of a responsibility towards its neighbours, not merely as an adjunct, however valuable, to a major contribution by either of our principal allies, the United Kingdom or the United States of America, but mainly in association with other small countries of the region. Here was a clear indication that in the opinion of this Government our national security and future prosperity are intimately associated with the countries to our immediate north. Because we realise this, we are prepared to make a direct, visible and significant contribution to the joint security of the area.
What an extraordinary, probably unique, opportunity is presented by this proposed five-power agreement. The history of Asia is full of examples of disputes and distrust between neighbouring countries, and in these circumstances it is probably not surprising that it has not been possible to arrange a wide ranging military defence pact. But here we have a situation where five countries with a long historical association, basic common interests and a common political background, have agreed to get together for their own mutual protection and the long term stability and advancement of the area. At the express wish of the South East Asian countries concerned we have agreed to participate. We have not forced ourselves on these countries. We are there because we have been asked to make a contribution. These facts alone surely give the association a good chance of success.
But there is another factor, in my opinion, which is of equal importance, that is that the other countries of the area do not regard the proposed association as in any way threatening to their own sovereignty or interest. It is my belief that, if this fivepower agreement proves to be successful, as I am sure it will, the other countries eventually may be prepared to become associated with it to some degree. In other words, this action by Australia could well prove to be the initial movement towards a true regional defence agreement for South East Asia. And yet we have the extraordinary spectacle of this objective being attacked and derided by the Opposition. Speaker after speaker has implied that Australia’s policy is out of step with Asian opinion. But what has happened? Already Japan has said that she regards the Australian policy with approval, and so has our nearest neighbour, Indonesia. Obviously it is the Opposition which is out of step with Asian opinion, not the Government. Perhaps I should have said out of step with our Asian friends, because I have no doubt that the Australian policy will not meet with the approval of those countries which seem to have a vested interest in promoting instability in and threatening the security of the area. Not for the first time the Opposition, by its attitude in this debate, has given encouragement to those countries and their stated policies of subversion and aggression.
My faith in the sound common sense of the Australian public makes me confident that they will interpret the Opposition’s attack on the Prime Minister’s statement as a clear indication of a policy of withdrawal and isolationism, when everything points to the conclusion that such a policy would be not only extremely dangerous for Australia but a selfish refusal to assume a fair share of the responsibility for the security and stability of the area in which we live. By rejecting utterly - to use the Prime Minister’s phrase - such a policy Australia has taken the initiative, and from recent personal discussions with officers of the State Department in Washington I am certain that our action will act as an encouragement and an incentive to the United States to maintain an active role in South East Asia. It should also help to assure the United Kingdom that it, too, can still play a most useful, although no* longer dominant, part in an area where it has had historical associations going back many years. It is my hope that the United Kingdom will continue to make a contribution towards the security of this region. The psychological effect of such a contribution would be out of all proportion to the financial cost involved and I sincerely hope that this fact will be appreciated by the present government or, indeed, any future government of the United Kingdom. However, we must not look on the presence of United Kingdom forces as an excuse to do less for ourselves but as a valuable addition to our own efforts.
There could be no clearer proof of the success of the Australian policy as proposed by the Prime Minister than the withdrawal of our troops at some time in the future. If, by our presence in Malaysia-Singapore, the economics and security of these countries can be built up to the stage where they no longer feel the necessity for Australian assistance, then that will be the final vindication of our policy, because if there is one thing on which all members of the Parliament seem to agree it is that our future cannot be considered apart or divorced from the future of the region as a whole. The political stability of South East Asia, with a rising standard of living, is essential for the long term prosperity of Australia. But unfortunately certain powers have followed a deliberate policy of promoting instability by internal subversion and external aggression. It is no good shutting our eyes to this fact or voicing pious hopes that the Communists will abandon their stated objectives. We have to make it quite clear that, in association with and at the invitation of other countries of the area, we intend to give these countries a chance to determine their own destinies free from outside influence or pressure. The Prime Minister has outlined the steps that Australia is prepared to take in pursuit of these objectives.
There are two other matters to which I should like to refer briefly - and only briefly because I am sure that they will be developed by other speakers from this side of the House. One is the need for larger and better equipped Citizen Military Forces which, in my opinion, should have an important role in Australia’s future defence policy. The second is the need to fill specific gaps in our present defence equipment for our regular forces - for example, the need for greater fleet support capabilitiy in the Royal Australian Navy, an air transportable tank or armoured fighting vehicle for the Army and heavy lift helicopters for the Royal Australian Air Force.
Australia will have good reason to thank the Prime Minister for his defence statement - for its unequivocal stand and its acceptance of our share of responsibility which will stimulate the economic development and safeguard the territorial integrity of our near neighbours.
– I suppose it is a long while since the Parliament has heard such rubbish as has flowed from honourable members opposite in relation to the defence statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). I am absolutely astonished that in a community such as ours where so many people have had so much military experience - the Bureau of Census and Statistics tells us that some 800,000 people have served in our Services and some 600,000 of them have served overseas - we should be indulging, or at least members opposite should be indulging, in so much hyperbole, supported by so much tosh from Press leader writers about this socalled defence statement. The honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) said that this statement is of truly historic importance. Did anyone ever hear such nonsense?
What did the Prime Minister say? He said that he will put a few squadrons of aeroplanes and a battalion of troops 3,000 miles from the Australian mainland. But he has not said anywhere how he will support and sustain these forces. He has not said what guarantees we will have from our allies about supporting them or anything of this sort. The Government speaks about Australia’s responsibility to South East Asia. What sort of responsibility is this? The only interest that the Government seems to have is in military forces. But they are people up there. Does the Government honestly believe that by putting a battalion of troops in a place where only 20 years ago or so we lost a whole division we will keep the 1,000 million people of Asia stable politically, advanced economically and terrified militarily? What utter rubbish. I think the keynote of the speech of the honourable member for Corangamite was that, if we leave these forces in the area, we will encourage the Americans to come further into Asia. As far as I can see, this is the Government’s policy. In other words, it is prepared to sacrifice young Australians on a venture such as this as a bait to the Americans.
In passing I would say how deeply distressed I am at the current events in Vietnam. In the last few months some twenty-five young Australians have been killed in battles around Bien Hoa at a time where there is no possibility of our bringing the war to a conclusion militarily. They are being sacrificed to some mystique of military endeavour in an effort to keep the Americans satisfied. What the world wants at this time is for all military forces to return home and to stay at home. What we want internationally is an international guarantee of frontiers. I know that this may be an idealistic conception of world affairs, but we should be striving for some guarantee between ourselves and our neighbours that if any neighbouring nation is invaded by anybody we will all go to that nation’s aid, no matter what its politics may be. In these matters we cannot afford to draw value judgments. In fact I would say about our current exercise in this region that, apart from the social services provided by our troops, the local communities in the area would not notice that the troops had gone if they were withdrawn.
Part of the current opposition to Labor’s view on the political structure of the area, if I may use what might be called an emotional, abusive term, is that we are seeking to establish Fortress Australia. To my age group, this brings memories of Festung Europa of Hitler’s time. This expression is used, without thinking, as a kind of definition of a policy which my colleague, the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard), described adequately when he said that Australia’s strategic frontiers are its national boundaries and we ought to be thinking of that. It is not a question of a fortress or anything of the sort. Does anybody talk of Fortress Philippines, Forttress Cambodia, Fortress Japan, Fortress India, Fortress Ceylon or Fortress Italy? Of course these terms are never used. I do not mind honourable members opposite attacking our policies and our attitudes, but I wish they would start to do some thinking. They have held us too cheaply in the past, they have made a series of policy errors in the present, and it is time they woke up to themselves.
The current defence policy of the Government took a period of 12 months gestation and 1 month’s labour, and now we have a defence policy that was stillborn. If the Prime Minister has taken 1 month to prepare this policy, output is his big problem. All I find in it is a good deal of hyperbole. One expression he used was ‘substitution for the efforts of a major power’. What forces did Great Britain have in Singapore? Only a few years ago it bad in Singapore more than the total defence establishment of the Australian Services. It is also said that Australia’s effort will contribute to the stability of the whole area. I have the greatest respect for the Australian Army. History has proved that it is probably the best fighting force. But I think it is probably stretching it a little to say that one battalion of Australian troops - 1,200 good, strong men and true - will contribute to the stability of the whole of South East Asia. The Prime Minister also said that the troops would be available to oppose insurgency externally promoted. We know the sort of value judgments that the Government brings to any insurgency. A decent street meeting is an act of insurgency, in its view. He said further that we could not turn our backs on our neighbours. What does he mean by that? All I can see is hyperbole in the Prime Minister’s statement and sycophancy in the Press and honourable members opposite. But this has not produced a defence policy.
The Prime Minister’s statement does not contain a blueprint for the defence of Australia. It does not contain any signpost for the Services in their planning, training or equipment. As the honourable member for Corangamite said, what about the Citizen Military Forces? I does not contain any guarantee to the Australian community. It does not contain any reference to Indonesia, for instance, or West Irian. What kind of statement is it? The Prime Minister was at Geelong Grammar School the night before he delivered the statement. He probably asked one of the senior prefects in the 6th form to prepare it for him. It contains a series of generalities and assertions, but makes no reference at all to defence.
What I would like to see is an assurance about the kind of forces we will produce: That they will have the capacity to look after themselves - that they will be able to transport themselves in company with other Australian forces to do whatever is required of them within an ambit of 3,000 miles from the mainland. What we need is an appreciation of the situation in the terms we used to use in the Services, whether we were corporals or captains, field-marshals or generals. But we do not see any such appreciation. We are trying to fox the Australian community into sustaining the prejudices and fears of the last century. We are using that as an excuse for doing nothing. What does the Government intend to do about equipment? The Australian Army still marches much the same as it did 25 years ago. What does the Government intend to do about mechanising it? What does it intend to do about the Navy? A week or two ago I travelled, with some others, on the Navy’s patrol boats. These are formidable weapons. They have a speed of 25 knots and carry a 40mm gun. My children asked: ‘How fast do they go?’ I said: ‘They do 25 knots. They bounce a bit’. My children said: ‘You can do that with any outboard’. The fact is that we are completely unadventurous in our defence policy. We take equipment designed by other people, modify it a bit and fit it into some idea of economics.
A statement on defence should contain an appreciation of the situation in this part of the world. What is the strength of our opponents? What are we arming ourselves against? What are the diplomatic and military possibilities? To whom will we be talking? What are we doing about it? That is what I wanted to hear from the Prime Minister. Who are our opponents? Of whom in this area are we afraid? Is it
Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Japan, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or China? Or is it Cambodia, Ceylon or the Philippines? No mention is made of these matters. Diplomatically, it is difficult to deal with them on paper, but the fact is that we must decide something that will inevitably place a tremendous burden on our national budget, something that will demand from Australians perhaps the ultimate in sacrifices, whether we are right or wrong, and the Government should take the country into its confidence. The statement contributes nothing to a consideration of these factors. As far as I can see, it is an exercise in national ostrichism, if that is a word. We are ignoring the lessons of history. In fact, this is a piece of strategic folly.
I understand that the honourable member for Corangamite served in the last war. If he were asked to put some troops somewhere and he had a component of the Royal Australian Air Force and an infantry component, would he do what we are doing here? Would he put the Air Force at Penang or Butterworth and the infantry 300 or 400 miles away? Do all the lessons of history not show that Australians ought to make themselves self-contained and that we ought to have each component supporting the other? If this were just an exercise in strategic placement or the tactical use of troops, is not that what we would do? Of course we would. Of course it has nothing to do with military reality or defence or anything at all. We are placing our troops in an exposed and isolated position. I do not believe that this is ever justified. What happened in Singapore? In this House is the distinguished honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) who was taken in Singapore. In this place is the distinguished honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) who was captured in Timor. Down in the dungeons is our research man, Colonel Templeman who was captured in Java. Was this not the fate of thousands of Australians? There may be plenty more of such men in this House; I do not know all of their military histories. But is not this one of the facts of Australian military history? Is not it an act of strategic folly?
– What about the honourable member for Mallee?
– Yes, that is right. The honourable member for Mallee was captured in Singapore. Why was he captured there? It was because the men were in an exposed position. Was it through any act of military folly on his part that he was captured? Of course not. His military capacity was probably much greater than this political sagacity, but his capture was not his fault. He was captured there because we put Australian troops in such a position that we were unable to sustain them.
I, for my part, will not support anything that puts young Australians in such a position that the Australian homeland and the Australian home base forces cannot sustain them, no matter who turns up. I regard it as a piece of folly equivalent to the actions that let our people get caught in Greece, Crete, Java and elsewhere. We do not need to turn back to the last war. What happened to the Americans in Khe Sanh? It is one of the facts of military history that whenever we put troops in exposed and isolated positions we are likely to lose the lot. The Germans found that out. Of course the honourable member who interjects is practically ineducatable on politics. The Japanese found it out. The Japanese put their divisions into Papua and New Guinea and lost the lot. They had not established the machinery to sustain and supply them. So unless the Prime Minister turns up with the apparatus and the demonstration that he is creating a system - the logistic system and everything else - to sustain and supply these people, I say it is an act of strategic folly, otherwise it is just an exercise in military placement.
So the principles of the policy are what we challenge. We say that Asia is expendible; that in fact what we are prepared to do is to scrap around on the Asian mainland. But we are not prepared to do much else about it. But what would happen is that we would lose the lot. What do we lose by this? We would lose the freedom of manoeuvre. My friend the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) pointed out that when we wanted to shift troops from Malaysia to Vietnam, we were requested by the Malaysian Government not to do so because it did not want Malaysia to be involved in Vietnam. In fact, the Prime Minister made an assertion in his statement that bases such as this will give us better facilities for movement and supply. That may well be the case but when we put one-eighth of our regular Army and about one-third of our air component in that part of the world, we lose the right to use them as we think fit. This is evidenced by the history of the Vietnam commitment. I think it is evidenced from everything else in history. We get very little in return.
I am not going to ask the people of the north to give personal guarantees that they will do for us what we do for them. I agree with those honourable members who say that we are in effect, internationally speaking, our brothers’ keepers. I think, of course, that we have to be our brothers’ keepers diplomatically rather than militarily. We have to keep our military position in such a way that we can handle it ourselves.
What are the alternatives? 1 suppose we could have a mobilised Australia; that is if there is anyone to mobil’ise against. I believe, along with other honourable members of this House, that we ought to have a viable citizens force. 1 know that in the last 20 years the citizen forces have in fact run down. In some areas their members have better equipment than ever they had and in others men are the hewers of wood and the drawers of water. When I was out with the Navy the other week I was told that it was the first time in 20 years that the reservists had had their own ship. I know that no citizen airman flies supersonic aircraft. However, citizen airmen in the United States do fly these aircraft. I know that the men have been taken out of the major pieces of mobile military equipment. I think we should have a mobile force similar to the British one that was out here for the exercise Coral Sands. I went up and saw this exercise and was very impressed with it. This force had logistic ships, supply ships, landing ships, aircraft, hovercraft, carriers, command ships and all the rest of it. This was a most impressive stack of equipment. It seems to me that this is what we should be doing. If honourable members say that we will have this as well, I might go along with the isolation of people 3,000 miles away. But I would still have serious doubts militarily.
In this case the British put 3,000 people ashore up in the Rockhampton area. This was 12,000 mites from home and 3,000 miles from their base. We do not have equipment like that. I only wish that more honourable members had had the chance to see this exercise. This is what I looked for in the Prime Minister’s statement; this is what I looked for in vain. I think I speak with the train of thought held by my colleagues on this side of the House when I say that if the commitment is co-operative training and exercises with the people of Malaysia, we would be only too happy to co-operate. If it is co-operative development of their own skills, techniques and industry, we would be only too happy to participate. But as far as I am personally concerned, the Government is not going to throw the lives of young Australians away on what I call1 tactical errors and strategic folly. It would seem to me that this is only viable policy if perhaps we can put a division there - something like a division plus the forces that we had in Tobruk. Those forces were sustained because the British Navy controlled more or less the Mediterranean Sea at the time. But back home we would need another 2 or 3 divisions to sustain such a force. 1 think I am probably right in saying that the only instance in which an exposed force was able to sustain itself during the last war was at Tobruk. In that instance, of course, it was sustained because the British Navy was able to maintain the chains of supply along the Mediterranean shores. So an Australian force would have to be self supporting and would have to be under Australian command. We would have to be able to sustain such a force and supply it regardless. This has all been ignored. So I believe that the Prime Minister is leading us into grievous folly and that honourable members opposite are doing the country a great disservice by this sycophantic echoing of the things that he said.
Nearly 100 honourable members of the House have had military service of some kind or other. How many honourable members opposite who have served with great distinction and have shown that they can hold their own against the best can swallow the hyperbole of this statement and regard it as a contribution to the defence of Australia is beyond me. What guarantees have we been given? Is the United States going to turn up? Are the British or the French going to turn up? Of course they will not. Let us take it that we arc going to defend
Malaysia with 1,200 troops. What if the Chinese do attack? Do honourable members know how close this is to the closest part of the Chinese mainland?
– Of course we do.
– What is it? Come on, the honourable member does not know. It is about 1,200 miles.
– Order! The honourable member will address the Chair.
– I am just giving them some assistance and encouragement. It is about 1,200 miles.
-Order! The honourable member will have regard for the standing orders and address the Chair.
– You, Mr Deputy Speaker, of course, do not need this kind of encouragement. You are a man of great wisdom and understanding in these matters. It is 1,200 miles; a short flight for these people in their bombers to liquidate our RAAF component in the first wave. Then what do we do? We do not do anything. I have taken the Chinese. I do not think that the Chinese will attack anyone. They have fourteen neighbours. They attacked Tibet and I think that they were murderous about it. I have a strong opinion about people who use military authority in this way. But their last major invasion was against Korea in about 1710 or 1732. Let us assume that the Chinese do attack.
– What about the Russians in Hungary?
– Of course, we know full well that the honourable member will not go any more than he will go to Vietnam.
-Order! The honourable member will address the Chair. I have told him that all interjections are disorderly.
– I thought that honourable members opposite were just showing extreme interest. The facts are that the Government is prepared to sacrifice young Australians in a piece of political cowardice because for 20 years it has been telling the people of the country that they have to be afraid of the Asians; that we must have forward defences. The Government is prepared to put 1,200 men and a small contingent of the Air Force in this area to sustain the argument that it has used for so many years. All that the Government can contribute in any class of warfare is sacrifices unless, of course, the Government can support them with adequate forces at home and all the rest of it. I know full well that this will not be done.
– Towards the end of his speech the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) used the word hyperbole’. There is a much clearer and better understood Australian expression that could describe what honourable members have just listened to, and it does not necessarily describe a wedding present. The honourable member’s speech flowed and gushed. As I have said before, the honourable member went from bough to bough. My blotting paper is covered with headings about which the honourable member made some passing comment. He said that a battalion would be no good in Malaya but if a division were sent it would be a different matter. 1 do not think that he can convince anybody in this House that the Australian Labor Party, with its present tendency towards what is commonly called the left, would approve the sending of a division, if we had one available, to this particular area.
Early in his speech the honourable member talked about the tragedy of Singapore in the last war and mentioned distinguished gentlemen who had been prisoners of war in this area. Possibly - I say that with due respect - with the exception of the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) there is not one honourable member who was a POW who does not realise that if he had not been there together with the servicemen of the United Kingdom and all the other POWS, not only he but his wife and children may well have been in a POW compound in Australia. And the honourable member for Wills, who talks so much about freedom, may well have found himself living today in circumstances in which he was not able to speak so freely of freedom and yet pay it such scant attention.
The honourable member spoke also of other matters. He said that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) should take the country into his confidence and should tell us who may attack us at some future date. The honourable member knows that this is not possible. He knows that it would never be possible for this Government to say to another country: ‘Although we are now at peace we fear that in 2 years time, because of certain circumstances, you may threaten us and we are therefore arming ourselves’. This is a most extraordinary thing for the Labor Party to go on with. The Labor Party says: ‘Tell us the enemy. Tell us who it is.’ I assure the House that this is one reason why the Labor Party is in opposition. There is no need to tell the people of Australia, because they know.
– Who is it?
– There is no need to tell the Asian nations, because they know. From what I have read the only section of the community which supports Labor policy is the Labor Party itself. I have been unable to find any Asian leader who has criticised the policy propounded by the Prime Minister. I have been unable to find anybody who has cheered or who has said: Is not this policy of the Labor Party magnificent?’ When the honourable member for Wills returned from his tour around the Communist countries of Europe and other areas where he drank yak milk, to his dissatisfaction and mental upset ever since, he said that we in Australia could defend ourselves against all the hordes of Asia and that we should put one man to every 100 miles around the Australian coast. Such was his outlook on defence that be said we had nothing to fear. This is indicative of the thinking on the other side of the House. A report in the ‘Courier Mail’ on a Labor Party executive meeting indicated that the Party tugged three ways. The group embracing the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) and the honourable member for Reid said: ‘Pull out altogether because we do not want to impede anything that may take place and bring our Party to ultimate success in this part of the world.’ There were others who said: ‘We will leave aircraft in Malaysia, but we will not have any troops on the ground.’ This is the current policy. Others have said that we have an obligation in South East Asia.
Indeed, we are in this area. We live here. It is all right for the British to go home, because they are not in this area. It is all right for the Americans should they so decide, to go home. But Australia and New Zealand live in this part of the world and if we wish to live in security, if we wish to have friends, then in my opinion and I am sure in the opinion of the Australian public we have an obligation to accept some responsibility, not only for our own security but for the security of our friends. This is exactly what the Labor Party is not interested in; indeed, because of certain things that could have happened in recent years members of the Labor Party in some cases are actively working against it.
On Saturday night last I met quite a distinguished English gentleman - he was not a soldier or a politician - who said that he had arrived on Thursday. He told me that he tuned into the radio and he said: ‘I got on to your political station.’ He said: ‘There was some chap called Whitluck or Whitlack talking.’ I said: ‘That was Whitlam; he is the Leader of the Opposition.’ He said: ‘He spoke very well but I did not understand a word of what he was talking about; I could not get what he was trying to get at.’ He added: ‘Some chap followed after him and straightened him out fairly convincingly.’ That was the impression of an Englishman. What would be the impression of a Malaysian or a Singaporean who may have heard the Leader of the Opposition speaking? He used words such as ‘vestigial’. I presume that the majority of Asians have since looked up this word in the dictionary. Nowhere in his speech did he say what the Labor Party would do, except talk about this mythical mobile force the Labor Party would create. When the Leader of the Opposition gets up and pontificates as to what Asians require there are few, if any, Asians who agree with him. He says: ‘I, the almighty, with my authority and information in regard to South East Asian affairs, say that they do not require any troops on the ground. Maybe we do not want to but we will have to make a gesture to the Australian people and say that they need a few aircraft there. We will leave the Navy there, but we will not leave any troops on the ground.’
The Asian leaders are not fools. They know that if the Labor Party were in office the first move it would make would be to fly the aircraft out. That would take approximately half an hour or 1 hour. Then it would move the ships out of port. That would take not much more than an hour. So Australia’s token of playing a part together with our Asian friends would be negligible and not worth the paper it was written on. My outlook and that of the Australian Government is this: We live in this area. We have responsibilities. We are one of the most developed nations in this area. When you have advantage you also have responsibility. If we did not show that we were prepared to play a part with those people by providing ground troops, then neither I nor anybody else could blame them if they said: The British have pulled out; the Americans may pull out; the Australians are going to pull out and the New Zealanders also’. Who could blame them if they decided to make a compromise with friends of the other side or if they said: All right, if this is the movement, let us seek a compromise now’.
They were let down in the last war - if only the honourable member for Wills could understand it - by our unpreparedness and the unpreparedness of the Western world, the so-called democracies. They placed their confidence in the British Navy; they placed their confidence in the United States and in the Dutch and they were found wanting. These South East Asian countries were occupied. Every Australian should be grateful that this country was not occupied. Not everybody in Australia realises how close we came to being occupied. So I support the statement made by the Prime Minister. I agree that we should have two battalions of troops stationed in Malaya.
-Order! I hear the honourable member for Wilis interjecting.
– When I was speaking you did not give me much of a go.
– Will the honourable member for Wills repeat what be said?
– I said: ‘When I was speaking you did not give me much of a go’. I apologise for having said that.
– I repeat that the countries of South East Asia were let down and were occupied. We were not occupied. I have no doubt that if we wish to exert an influence in South East Asia we must show that we are prepared to play our part in the area.
The honourable member for Wills will be surprised to hear me say that in my opinion there was a certain amount of truth in what he said. I believe that the Prime Minister should have stated what Australia is prepared to do in order to provide a balanced defence force in this country. 1 agree with the honourable member for Wills that when you station a defence force abroad you must ensure that the lines of communication can be kept open. You must ensure that the material which that force will need if it goes into action will be available to it. Before long the Government must make a statement of its intentions in this regard. I do not think that the Prime Minister’s statement was a great one. I may be criticised in some quarters for saying that. The statement merely sets out what should have been set out very much earlier, namely that after the British withdrawal in 1971 we will be prepared to stay in South East Asia and to help as long as the nations of the area require our presence - not as a police force but as friends standing wilh friends to help them in what could be their hour of need if things went wrong. Statements made by Tunku Abdul Rahman of Malaya and Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore indicate that they appreciate that Australia cannot be expected to assume in its entirety the British role in Malaysia and Singapore, but they and their people draw strength and comfort from the knowledge that they have friends who are prepared to help them. This is a situation which greatly strengthens our diplomatic arm. If we had announced that we would pull out of South East Asia tomorrow or if we had dithered and not made this statement for another 12 months our standing in South East Asia may well have been nil.
It has been suggested by some people that Australia proposes to station forces in South East Asia only to maintain an American presence in the area. Naturally we want an American presence there. I am confident that the Americans realise that they have a part to play in South East Asia. That part may not be the role in which they have become involved in South Vietnam, but the Americans realise that they have a part to play. I am sure they are prepared to play their part as long as other nations are prepared to accept their responsibilities. The Australian nation, through its Prime Minister, has now said that it is prepared to do something. I concede that the military arm is not the sole or most important arm but, as the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) said, it is necessary to have the military arm in the area so that stability and the economy of the area may be maintained and improved. The military arm is necessary if the conditions of the people are to be improved. We have seen the technique of wrecking a country from within by means of overt propaganda, assistance, money and infiltration. This technique is not designed necessarily to hurt the individual; it is designed to ensure that the country can never maintain stability. It is a technique designed to ensure that those things about which honourable gentlemen opposite talk so glibly will never be maintained and that governments will be wrecked.
In my opinion we are right in maintaining a presence in South East Asia. We are in effect saying to the people of the area: ‘We are your friends. We are prepared to help.’ I do not think Australia has taken sufficient initiative up to date. We should take a greater initiative in these matters because we are a lucky nation. We must do much more than we have done in the past. Having announced our policy with regard to South East Asia we will now be able to say to the United States: ‘See what we are doing to assist South East Asia. We do not come to you first to ascertain what you are prepared to do. We have said what we will do without knowing what you will do.’ I am sure that the President of the United States and his colleagues in the Government will recognise that Australia has set an example in accepting responsibility not only for our safety but also for the safety of other nations.
I would like to say a few words about the Australian Labor Party’s so-called defence policy. This policy appears to be that Australia’s shores should be the frontier. All I can say with regard to that policy is that it will be a sorry day for Australia when we are forced to rely on ourselves alone for the defence of this country.
– Because looking at you and seeing some gentlemen opposite wearing the Hanoi emblem-
– I am looking at the honourable member for Wills.
-The honourable member will address the Chair.
– I was saying that when I look at the honourable member for Wilh, at other gentlemen opposite who are active in this country, at sections of the Labor Party’s policy, at questions raised in another place, at signatures on letters of protest - that of the honourable member for Yarra on all; that of the honourable member for Reid on most - and at the members of the Labor Party whose names appear on the same letterhead as those of members of the Communist Party - not an illegal party - 1 worry for the defence of this country should the Labor Party ever come to govern. No matter how horrible some people may regard the present Government to be, I am sure that the people of Australia could never accept the Labor Party as a government while it retains its present foreign policy and defence pol’icy. Labor’s policy is to leave our friends for dead; as long as we have a bob each way we may survive should the enemy get here.
– The statement made last Tuesday by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has been described by the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) as not a great statement. That was an understatement. What did the Prime Minister say? He said that we would maintain the status quo. He said that two squadrons of Mirage aircraft, totalling 42 aircraft, would be retained at Butterworth. He said that 1,200 troops would be left in Singapore and that we - that is, Australia and New Zealand - would keep one ship in the area. What a magnificent contribution. The Prime Minister said:
We could not turn our backs on our neighbours, refuse to help provide forces for their security, and wash our hands of the possible consequences to them and to ourselves.
I ask any honourable member who does not want to employ jingoistic election propaganda: What dangers do the people of Malaysia and Singapore face? The Prime Minister referred to subversion. Does he imagine that the 42 Mirage aircraft could be used to deal with subversion in Malaysia or Singapore? How effective would 1,200 troops be in handling subversion? The Government is indulging in hypocrisy in saying that in this election year it will defend Australia. Australia has been faced in its history with only two real crises - the 1914- 18 war and the 1939-45 war. On each occasion the people sacked the conservative government and put into power a Labor Government. Let Government members stop their hypocrisy in claiming that they are the only ones who are concerned about this matter. I want to make some positive comments on what we should do.
– Is this backed by your Party?
– I have never tried to exert my will, or to put a point of view in this House which is not in accordance with the policy of my Party. To enlighten honourable members opposite, I am a member of the seven-man committee which recommends policy to the Federal Conference of our Party so at least I can speak with some conviction and, as some might say, with some authority. What should be our policy for the future? Firstly, we should begin with the urge and the strong desire for Australian independence, the kind of thing Gorton knew was necessary but which he bad to give up for political expediency. Everyone knows that he gave it up because the Australian Democratic Labor Party put a gun at his head and said: Either you keep troops in South East Asia or at the next election we will split our preferences between selected Labor candidates and Government candidates’. He was pressured and Cabinet made the decision of expediency. Secondly, we need a mobile flexible defence power based on Australia, not to remain in Australia as a Fortress
Australia concept, if that means that we would never go out to meet the enemy, but a Fortress Australia concept if that means a powerful effective way of defending Australia. Our defence forces should be so equipped that they can go as far from Australia as it is scientifically possible to go without the need to depend on foreign bases.
No-one can guarantee now that our forces will not be forced to withdraw within a few years. What then? Do we begin only then to build an effective defence network in the north of Australia with bases for ships and aircraft? I cannot say. That is a task for the defence experts who must be required to say what ships and aircraft are best suited to give Australia the longest possible range for acting against an enemy. This is not a new concept. This is similar to the MacArthur concept which was put forward first in 1949. General MacArthur believed in the analogy of the whale and the elephant. He saw clearly that the strength of the United States lay in sea and air power whereas the strength of the Asians and the Chinese lay on the land. He wanted to use the Pacific as a huge moat. This was developed also by my colleague the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) as a defence requirement as far back as 1964. His thoughtful speech of 21st October 1964 is reported on page 2166 of Hansard.
It seems common sense to me that we should adapt our future defence strategy to that pattern. General MacArthur was not alone in his view. According to ‘Newsweek’ of 14th March 1966:
All the leading American military men - Eisenhower, MacArthur, Bradley and Ridgway - have warned again and again against being involved in a war on the mainland of Asia . . . General MacArthur told John Foster Dulles that any President who did commit American troops to a land war in Asia should have his bead examined.
Has not recent history shown that to be true? The United States with her wealth, manpower, technology and scientific resources has been forced to withdraw from the Asian mainland. The Asian involvement - the war in Vietnam - has torn the heart out of that nation. United States internal and external policies will never be the same. It is about time honourable members on the opposite side faced this issue realistically. Even the honourable member for La Trobe is aware of it because he said that Britain can go home, the United States can go home but we live here. Of course we live here. Geographically we are a part of Asia and we must commence to work intelligently. We are not working intelligently at the present time.
Never again will the United States Congress give a President an open cheque as President Johnson was given in the Gulf of Tonkin crisis. Not only has the heart been torn out of the United States; the bank book has been stolen as well, so much so that the Wall Street Journal’ of 23rd March 1968 had this to say:
We think the American people should be getting ready to accept the prospect that the whole Vietnam effort may be doomed, lt may be falling apart beneath our feet.
That is not the honourable member for Reid, the honourable member for Yarra or other honourable members on this side speaking, it is the ‘Wall Street Journal’, the journal of American capitalism. It is the wealthy people speaking because the pocket is being hurt. The wealthiest nation in the world is finding that it cannot continue the Asian involvement or to escalate the Vietnam war because it is in such economic straits. But the Australian Government could not learn from the experience of history. The Prime Minister interprets history in terms of blood and guts and, if I may say so, honourable members opposite support their Prime Minister. They glory in blood and guts in warfare. The Prime Minister sees only glory in Anzac. He sees only pride in the suffering of troops and the stupidity of trench warfare in France. He sees our historical role as one of further sacrifice of young men in the jungles of Asia.
In the Second World War we had nearly 16,000 troops in Malaya and Singapore; there were also 38,000 British and 67,000 other Commonwealth troops there. It was said that the Australian Eighth Division was the cream of our nation but its members rotted in goal for nearly 4 years. Now the Government wants to continue this historical role to prove ourselves once again to our wealthy allies. We do that by putting our hand once again in the fire. The honourable member for La Trobe said that we tell the United States: ‘We are prepared to put our forces in Asia. Therefore it is up to you to help us’. We have to prove to our big wealthy friends that we are tough almost to the point of stupidity. This i-> a scientific age. not an age of brutishness bravado and stupidity. The Prime Minister is putting the hands of 1,200 young men, a good many of them conscripts, in the fire. In his speech last Tuesday night the Prime Minister said:
It could be possible that a situation might arise when the scale of such a subversion and infiltration from outside - or some other organised threat to the region at present unforeseen-
I emphasise ‘at present unforeseen’ and say that it is about time he started seeing something- could be such that Australian resources alone would be insufficient to support successfully the forces of Malaysia and Singapore. If such a situation should arise we would have to look to the support of allies outside the region . . .
The honourable member for La Trobe has some doubt about help from our allies; outside the region. There are only two allies - the United States and Great Britain - which would be likely to come to our aid. Early in his speech when referring to Britain’s withdrawal by 1971 the Prime Minister said:
The circumstances under which they may return to assist in an emergency are unknown.
That is the Prime Minister talking. The Prime Minister said that the circumstances under which Britain may return to assist in an emergency are unknown. Who knows the conditions that may be prevailing at the time? Circumstances have a great bearing on this matter. We do not know whether Great Britain will recommit her troops to such a conflict. Britain is in economic difficulties and she would find it difficult to re-commit troops to such an area.
I personally have strong reservations about the guarantee of the United States of America again becoming involved in an Asian war on the mainland of Asia. I believe that the United States Congress would be opposed to further involvement in an Asian war. I ask honourable members to examine clause 4 of the ANZUS Treaty. I note that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Freeth) is in the chamber. Clause 4 of the Treaty says that the United States will come to our aid ‘in accordance with its constitutional processes’. That means that the
United States has to get the support of Congress before it again commits troops to Asia. If such a situation does arise we have to consider our historical experiences of the Tet offensive in Vietnam last year.
What happened in Vietnam last year? The Vietcong entered practically every major city in South Vietnam although stationed there were 500,000 American troops and 700,000 South Vietnamese Government forces. Surely our defence experts can envisage such a situation. All we are assured of is that we will call on our allies outside the region to come to our aid. I am concerned that we have 1,200 young men in the Malaya-Singapore area. If a revolutionary situation arises in the area the stationing of our forces there will aggravate that situation. Surely all honourable members should understand this.. The experience of South Vietnam should teach them this. If we want a stable, prosperous and secure area to the near north, this will not be achieved by the presence of foreign military forces. Historical experience of rising nationalism, whether it be in Vietnam, Czechoslovakia, Angola or Okinawa, is evidence of this.
This is no longer the era of Queen Victoria. It is a scientific era. We must use scientific ideas. It is against our long term geographical role to play the part of the policeman, as was depicted by the new Minister for External Affairs. This is not the day and age when we should play the role of the black and tans of Asia, either. We have sent a commitment of 1,200 young men into the quagmire of Asia - a bottomless pit for the wealthiest nation in the world, let alone a nation such as ours with limited manpower. We in Australia should be the scientific bowl of South East Asia, not the supplier of centurions.
There is another aspect which cannot be ignored. This Asian involvement is not only a quagmire for our limited manpower; it is also a quagmire for our limited economic resources. In Vietnam at first we had eighty military advisers. Then we had 800 fully equipped soldiers. Now we have 8,000 fully equipped soldiers committed to that conflict. If a revolutionary position were to escalate in Malaysia, would the 1,200 commitment remain static? Again I ask honourable members to examine our own experience in Vietnam. If things become tough in
Malaysia we will be very lonely indeed. We will not have the United States fire power and resources to support us, and the British forces will be well west of Suez. I said earlier that our defence forces should be so equipped that they can go as far out from Australia as it is scientifically possible to take them without their having to depend on foreign bases. Evidence as to the military equipment necessary to achieve this should be given by the defence experts.
Accepting the proposition that we need the advice of experts, and having a strong opposition to the foreign base concept, I have given some thought to our future defence requirements. I make it quite clear that. I see no threat or danger to Australia for the foreseeable future. Probably if we are ever to be endangered it can come only from China, Japan or Indonesia. I make a qualification. I refer to our being endangered militarily. We have already been invaded economically. In my view, Indonesia could only be a threat to this country if there were a drastic change in Japan itself and the militarists again took complete control. An alliance between the militarists of Japan and Indonesia would be of grave concern to this country. Without going into too much detail, I refer to Japan’s knowhow and to Indonesia’s natural resources. I personally see China as a lesser threat to this country, but one cannot rule out completely this eventuality. It seems to me that the Fil l aircraft, based in Australia, is not our answer. It could not penetrate far enough out for our purposes.
I have been drawn to the belief that Australia’s best defence capabilities lie in the use of aircraft carriers from our forward defence position. The ‘Australian Financial Review’ special survey on defence of 6th November 1967 entitled ‘Defence: The New Asian Era’ reported that opinion in the Royal1 Australian Navy was almost unanimous that a new attack aircraft carrier is needed. The article went on to say that a carrier can provide air defence within 300 miles of itself, launch ground attacks up to 600 miles inland, and provide strike capacity up to 900 miles inland, and also” provide a visible presence in an area.
The article then went on to say that a carrier could avoid the cost and political implications of stationing troops and aircraft in vulnerable overseas bases. It is evident that the United States is convinced of the usefulness of carriers, because its procurement programmes provide for fifteen more ships in the 1980s. An aircraft carrier is expensive. It costs in the vicinity of $50m. But in this regard we must consider the cost of building foreign bases from which we may have to withdraw or out of which we may be forced. If this happened the installations would be a complete write-off. On the other hand, carriers are mobile. They are continually on the move and they are much harder to locate. The carrier in the Pacific was such a successful warship that the United States has fifteen on Order for the 1980s. It seems to me that the corn.monsense role for Australia in Asia is the one 1 have suggested as well as one of trade. We should have a positive foreign policy. I is my view that at this time we should be giving economic, political, scientific and technical assistance to Asia. This is the role which I believe Australia should play.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is almost with tedious repetition that as I have started each speech I have made in this House over the last 4 or 5 years I have spoken about certain priorities. On every occasion I have said that defence is the No. 1 priority. I have gone on to say that water conservation is the No. 2 priority. I am very pleased to note that since the drought I have a lot more followers regarding water conservation. Defence is the No. 1 priority. I have often said: What is the use of having good farms, good motor cars, a sound economy and all those advantages that make for congenial living, success and. progress if we are not able to protect them - if we fall at the feet of the invader and become slaves of a foreign power? Therefore, we must be ever vigilant in the defence of this country. We must watch every move, as this Government has been doing. Now the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has brought forward a statement.
No-one can accuse me of having quoted a great deal from newspapers in the past because I have scarcely done so in this House. In fact, I have not read from anything when speaking. I have spoken on matters as I saw them. By the way, some people say: ‘What does Turnbull know about overseas when he has not been on one of the Government’s trips abroad?’ As a matter of fact, I suppose I have been in the area about which we are speaking longer than most honourable members in this House. If we exclude ten members, I have probably been in the area many times as long as all the other members put together, because I spent 4 years and 4 months in the area. Although I did not have the freedom of the city of Singapore all the time, I certainly had the freedom of endeavouring to find out what the people were thinking. I found out what people were thinking in that place. Even the honourable member for Reid will agree with me that people reveal their thoughts more in such places than they do in every day life. Therefore, I know one or two things that have been happening.
In my speeches, I do not quote much from the Press, but I will read one or two statements from the Press today, just to do the opposite of the actions of the Labor Party in this debate. Usually, Opposition members read headlines in newspapers, leading articles, paper after paper, member after member, when it suits them. They say that the Sydney ‘Daily Mirror, the Sydney Morning Herald’ or the Melbourne Herald’ had this, that or the other thing to say on a certain matter. Even the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) is a champion in this practice. But I have noticed that in this debate honourable members opposite have not quoted from the newspapers because the newspapers have given the Prime Minister great praise for the statement on defence that he made.
Let us have a look at one or two comments that have been stated. Let me start with our own newspaper, the ‘Canberra Times’, which said:
The Government’s decision to continue to maintain with New Zealand a military presence in Malaysia after the British withdrawal from South East Asia in 1971 is welcome. The decision to keep that force at much the same level as it is now is heartening. The rumoured concepts of fortress Australia’ and an ‘Israeli-type defence force’ arc dead. The uncertainty, hints, and offthecuff surprises of the past year are, in this field, a thing of the past and the Australian electorate, the nations of South East Asia, and our friends in the United Stales and Britain know we are prepared to contribute substantially towards the peace, progress, and prosperity of our region.
The decision is a good one.
Those are the words of the ‘Canberra Times’.
I move on to the Melbourne ‘Age’. We will see what it says. The ‘Age’ states:
The Prime Minister last night committed Australia to a course of action which is not only a contribution to the efforts of a more powerful ally, but a line of action - taken in partnership with New Zealand - which establishes our own interests in the region to which we are geographically tied.
The ‘Age’ goes on to say that since Britain’s hasty decision to withdraw from the area all sorts of rumours have arisen. It states that in his speech the Prime Minister has laid them all low. The ‘Age’ continues:
We will not retreat to our own coastline and hope for the best.
Having read those statements, I turn to what was said recently by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in his speech answering the Prime Minister. What I can gather from that statement and what I have heard in speeches from the Labor Party since the Leader of the Opposition spoke indicate to me that their idea is to keep our forces in Australia and then, if the necessity arises, we can, if we so desire at the time, send forces to help some countries. In this context, let me read one paragraph from the speech delivered by the Prime Minister. He said:
And, of course, it is much easier for a country which is to be assisted to believe that it will be assisted if forces from a country which may provide such help are there and are visible.
That is the important question, that the forces are visible. Someone has said that the Union Jack and the Australian flag, the outward and visible emblems of advancement and of liberty’s cause, should be seen. If they are not kept before the people but are kept for instance in a chest they will not make much impression. The point is that we, metaphorically speaking, are to show the flag continually in the East, particularly in Malaysia. We will show our flag to indicate that we are willing, able and ready to play our part.
The Prime Minister went on to say that if something happened that was too big altogether for our forces other great allies would need to be called in. It has been said by some honourable members opposite that these allies would not come in. If the whole future of civilisation in the world was at stake, would our allies come and fight or would they turn backward to the dark ages? Would the great and democratic nations like the United States of America not come to our shores or to the assistance of those democratic countries threatened? I have not the slightest doubt in the world that if such a thing happened our allies would render aid. America could not afford not to assist; nor could the United Kingdom afford to keep out. This talk about what would happen is trying to undermine what we are doing. I find as far as the Labor Party is concerned that it is trying always to undermine the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. The Labor Party is trying to find out things against ASIO all the time. If it does this with regard to local matters, it will do so in the international sphere. This is not in the best interests of Australia.
We have just heard the honourable member for Reid. I cannot understand the way he talks about some things because he spent a lot of time in Malaysia and Singapore. I do understand certain things that he said. I think it was the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) who said that an Englishman came out here and stated that the Leader of the Opposition was quite a good speaker but added that he could not understand what the Leader of the Opposition meant. He could not understand what the Leader of the Opposition was saying. Of course, it is not hard for us, knowing the circumstances here, to understand what the Leader of the Opposition was saying. He was making the best job of a bad case. He could not point to the future and say: ‘Labor will do this’. The honourable member for Reid has pretty well put it on the line. He disregarded his leader altogether. I took down in writing what he said. The honourable member for Reid stated: ‘I want to say what we should do’. Well, has not his leader said this? Was he not supporting his leader? Does he want to be leader of his Party? The honourable member for Reid said: ‘I am a member of our 7-man committee on defence and, on these things that matter, I suppose I could say that I have some authority’. Of course the honourable member has some authority - but only in the Australian Labor Party. This authority is what is harassing the leader of the Labor Party. When he rises to speak, he does not know what to say. No wonder people cannot understand him. I doubt that he would understand himself when he came up against this 7-man committee and it put up a certain strong case to do something and he found then that the other side of his Party was in favour of quite a different action altogether.
The honourable member for Reid asked: What should our policy be for the future?’ He went on to tell us. But because the Prime Minister has said something about the immediate future, the honourable member for Reid said: ‘How can the Prime Minister see into the future?’ Well, perhaps the power to read the crystal ball resides only with the honourable member for Reid. The Prime Minister did not try to predict what would happen too far ahead. He said: ‘If the commitments that I have already stated are beyond us we will have to get some aid’. The honourable member for Reid was prepared to look into the future and tell us what we should do - or, perhaps I should say, what we should not do.
What did the honourable member say? He said that we should remain in Australia. This is the old isolationist policy of the Australian Labor Party about which I heard so much when 1 first came into this Parliament. It seemed to pass away for a while but it is back with us now in full force. If it comes into operation, Australia in a conflict would be in very sore distress. We have sent our forces overseas in two great world wars. They have played their part in a magnificent way. If it is justifiable for our forces to help people overseas and to fight to save their countries being desecrated, it is justifiable and welcome also if we are able to fight the battles away from Australian shores. It has been said by members on both sides of the House that in these days of modern defence equipment we can hit heavily quickly. Of course we can. So can others. But I remind honourable members of what happened in Darwin when the Japanese bit that city. We did not know the aircraft were coming and, after all, the people in Darwin hardly knew that they had been there because they passed right over the city so quickly. A lot of people died and there was devastation. In fact, some of those stationed at Darwin were half way to Adelaide by the time that they found out what had happened. Such matters need to be looked at very, very carefully.
I wish to come back for a moment to my point that our forces must be visible. I have learnt this: The main thing that impresses the Asian mind is a show of strength. This is the main thing to impress these people. I know - I emphasise: I do not think but I know - that when the Japanese came into Singapore they had quite a lot of equipment, but so as to magnify the effect of the amount of equipment that they had, they went around the Cathay Theatre and Raffles Hotel about six times. The natives and the other people there thought that they were looking at fresh equipment all the time. But certain of us who were watching knew very well that the same tanks and other equipment had passed a certain point five times at least.
The natives in these countries do not hear anything about Australia. A person would think, to hear the Opposition speaking, that when a speech was made here the people in the kampongs knew all about it. They do not know anything about it at all. They have never heard the slightest mention of our policy. They hardly ever read the papers. Some honourable members may recall that during World War II a certain Malayan used to sit beneath a rain tree and read from a newspaper to hundreds of people, each of whom would pay him about a cent. When he thought that he had read sufficient news for the number of cents that he had received he would stop reading until the people paid him more. This was the only way of receiving news.
No-one has interjected during my speech so far, on wheat sales to China but 1 have heard honourable members opposite ask: What about the sale of wheat to Red China or mainland China?’ Labor speaks with two voices on this subject. When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) goes electioneering into the Wimmera - I have heard that he has reached the fringe of the Mallee - he sympathises with the wheat growers about the amount of wheat that is unsold. This is the attitude of Labor Party senators and other honourable members opposite. But in the House they say: We are against sales of wheat to China”. The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), who did so, in an adjournment debate recently, condemns everybody for selling wheat to China. I will not go further on this topic, but - let me tell honourable members definitely that if we did not sell wheat to China some other nation would. There would be a dual disadvantage in not selling wheat to China. The Labor Party would let the wheat rot in the silos and, secondly, Canada and other countries would supply China with all the wheat it wanted. Of course, when members of the Labor Party go electioneering in the Wimmera and the Mallee they do not seem to be against wheat sales to China. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition cannot deny this. Has he ever said one word in these electorates about the sale of wheat to China?
– As a matter of fact I have advocated it. The only thing is that we do not believe in being hypocritical about it.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition says that he has advocated such sales.
– Yes, and we have advocated the recognition of Red- China as well.
-Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will cease interjecting.
– What did the honourable member for Grayndler say recently? He condemned everybody on the Government side for selling wheat to Red China? This is only further evidence of the split in the Labor Party. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition says that he advocates selling wheat to China and the honourable member for Grayndler says that he condemns it. If a vote were taken on this subject within the Labor Party the vote would be straight down the middle. This is the sort of thing in the Labor Party to which I am referring. I urge honourable members to read Hansard to see what the honourable member for Grayndler said last week. He condemned everybody and spoke about bloodshed being the result of wheat sales. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who should be speaking for his Party and who should be followed by members of his Party, says the direct opposite.
Our men who have gone overseas have been Australia’s greatest ambassadors, yet the honourable member for Reid said: ‘AH you glory in is Anzac’. We celebrate Anzac Day but on that day we do not glorify war. Rather do we give thanks for the fact that in time of need we have had men who have been prepared to save this country - one of the finest countries in the world - from invaders to enable us to continue our peaceful occupancy of it. Our men who have gone overseas have not gone in search of gain or to invade and outrage weaker nationalities in lawless rage of conquest. Their mission has been as pure and as noble as any that soldiers have undertaken - to rid the world of would-be tyrants. This is what our mission is now - to give strength to these people against the threat of tyranny.
It is true that if we have forces in Malaysia-Singapore we can help them with the training of their men so that they may take their place in the field. Members opposite advocate withdrawing into our shell in Australia. Do honourable members opposite know what happens to women and children in an invasion? I was in Muar when the bombing of that city took place. I saw sights that I will never forget until the bell of time ceases to ring for me. The whole place was devastated by bombing. I saw a woman with two little children and leading a milking goat; I saw a woman with a baby and only a bottle of milk; I saw a man - only a small man- carrying on his back a very large crippled woman. All of them were fleeing from the bombing. The honourable member for Franklin (Mr Pearsall) knows about these scenes because he was there. But some Australians know nothing about them. The Labor Party ignores such happenings.
I have told the story before - it is worth repeating - of a young man who during the last war said: ‘I’m not going to enlist’. I said: ‘If Hitler’s men came here you wouldn’t have the job that you have in an office. You would be in some chain gang, if you lived at all’. Do honourable members know what he said to me? He said: ‘No. I wouldn’t be. The union wouldn’t stand for that’. This is the thinking of Labor - the boilermakers union and others. The unions would not stand for it! In great wars the unions are swept aside.
What about the strategic force that we sent to Malaya to try to rid the jungles of the Communist murderers? Labor was against that force; it did not approve of it. We debated this matter time- and time again and we advocated that the force should be sent. What a great success it was.
The Prime Minister has said that our forces will remain in the areas to which they are sent only while the leaders of those countries desire them. What more do honourable members opposite want than that? This is a peaceful move to help those countries achieve continuing peace and to give them confidence, to give them a chance of winning a conflict if it comes, and to create an atmosphere in which Australia does not just talk but acts in the best interests not only of herself but of her neighbours.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– During the course of the speech delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) last Tuesday night, I closed my eyes and listened to the contents of it. I could easily have been listening to a guest speaker at any luncheon club in Australia. The speech lacked drive, it lacked initiative, it lacked any new thoughts at all. The speech is labelled quite simply ‘Defence’, but it dealt with one topic only - our forces in Malaysia and Singapore. It made not one new pronouncement. Australia is to continue to do almost the same as it has been doing for a generation. The statement by the Prime Minister was long heralded. We were all waiting with great expectations. This was to be the first major policy statement that had been made by our year old Prime Minister. This was the man with the new Liberal image, a nationalistic Australian, a man with new ideas and different thoughts, with a grin that captured the heart of the African leaders. But he failed dismally in the statement he made last week. It took htm 25 minutes to deliver and he dealt with only one topic in our overall defence policy.
The initial reaction to the speech was good. Most of our experts of the Press, radio and television were reasonably satisfied. The Ministers and back bench members on the Government side were extravagant in their praise, and I could not help wondering whether some of them were not fiat out to become cronies of the Prime Minister. However, a closer analysis of the speech shows a number of grave omissions and certainly shows no change in policy or attitude from that followed by his predecessors, the late Harold Holt and Sir Robert Menzies. Perhaps I am being a little too critical. After all it was his first major policy speech since he assumed office over 12 months ago. I congratulate him on having made his first pronouncement to the Parliament on a major policy matter.
Nobody can be satisfied with the defence statement that was delivered here a week ago. Although it is entitled ‘Defence’, it deals with only one aspect of our overall defence policy and touches upon our relationship only with two countries in the South East Asian and the South Pacific areas. The statement arises from the pronouncement by the British Government that it would withdraw from East of Suez by the end of 1971. This announcement was made by the United Kingdom as early as July 1967. It has taken the Prime Minister and his Cabinet more than 12 months to make this one decision, and the decision that was taken was to continue doing what Australia has done in Malaysia and Singapore since 1948. There has been no increase in our forces in the area. No specific proposals were made to show how Australia is to encourage Malaysia and Singapore to develop - and I use the words of the Prime Minister - ‘policies promoting political stability and economic growth, promoting their own defence capabilities in association with our own forces and those of our allies and in promoting regional1 co-operation’. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) said:
The Government is clinging to the myths and slogans and shibboleths of the past. The Government is missing the whole point of what a fruitful, constructive policy should be.
It is apparent that the Government does not know where it is going. Its policies are planned on a hit or miss basis. It seems to me that the Prime Minister has come up with a completely new system foi deciding policies. At one stage he was talking of an Israeli type army, then of Fortress Australia and finally of the retention or withdrawal of our troops in the Malaysia-Singapore area. I ask you, Mr Acting Speaker: Could it be that the Prime Minister is using the new Gorton daisy policy planner, an idea that came to him in a romantic moment? It is based on the old custom of pulling the petals from a daisy one by one while intoning: ‘She loves me, she loves me not’. In the case of Malaysia and Singapore, the Prime Minister floated four choices. They were the Israeli type army, Fortress Australia and tho retention or the withdrawal of our troops. I can just imagine the right honourable gentleman sitting in his large office with a gaint daisy in his hand, with a few of his senior Cabinet Ministers around him, Sir Paul Hasluck, of course, being absent, and one by one pulling the petals off the daisy while he said: ‘Israeli, Fortress, withdrawal, retention’. It happened that the last petal to be left on the daisy was the one that retained the same number of troops in Malaysia and Singapore as we have had there since 1948.
The same type of defence and economic planning is evident in the attitude of some of the other Ministers. Look at what we have done about the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. We are now going through the process of ‘We will sign, we will not sign’ and heaven only knows which petal will be left on the daisy when the decision is taken. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) goes through the same process every time he is asked about the expected delivery date of the Fill aircraft. But he is going through the months of the year and saying: ‘May, September, October, November’. Whenever he is asked in the House when the aircraft are likely lo be delivered, he changes to a different month of the year. We have been expecting them now for 2 years and we look like expecting them for at least another 12 months.
We find in the policy statement on defence a definite statement that we now support the Malaysian control of Sabal against the Philippines. At one stage we were neutral; we would not interfere in the dispute at all. Again the daisy petal theory has been used by the Government in reaching a decision. Not one definite decision has been made by the Government since this new Prime Minister came into office. The withdrawal of British troop from Malaysia and Singapore and from the South Pacific areas has certainly brought new problems to Australia and the British protected countries in the area. There are four more countries in this area beside Malaysia and Singapore that were under British control. Two of them are Fiji and Tonga. With both of those nations we have had friendly, cordial and close relations for years. It must be important to Australia to see that those countries retain a friendly disposition towards us after the British withdrawal in 1971 and perhaps their early independence. But the Prime Minister demonstrated his lack of interest. I beg to say also that he had a lack of knowledge of the South Pacific islands when he came back from the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference. He landed in Fiji and spent a few hours in that country. He did not even make a social call on the Chief Minister of Fiji. The Prime Minister refused to answer any questions on Australia’s future relationship with that country. Also, he refused to be interviewed on any matter dealing with Australia’s relationship with the South Pacific islands.
It must be known to the Prime Minister and to all members of this House that 90% of Fiji’s economic structure is controlled by Australian corporations. We have seen countries gain independence. We have seen sometimes what happens to industries that have developed in those countries. There are Australian controlled industries in Fiji and unless our relationships with that country are firmly based on co-operation and friendship, we are likely to see some of our interests taken away from us. Not that I complain about this at all because I am one who believes that the interests and economic structure of a country should be retained within that country. But these things are taken by newly independent countries. Quite often we see a rundown in the efficiency of the industries that are being conducted.
I would now like to refer briefly to the kingdom of Tonga which is now close to independence. Only recently the King of Tonga asked Australia and New Zealand to sponsor hi; country’s application for admission to the Commonwealth after it became independent. But whilst the Prime Minister had an opportunity of meeting the King of Tonga in London and discussing the problem with him there he admitted that he did not even meet the King of Tonga while he was there. This is not good enough. The Prime Minister might think that our relations with South Seas islands are of little importance. But such is not the case. They are no more expendable than Malaysia and Singapore. The people of those islands have the right to expect some consideration from Australia. The Government says that we will go to the countries in the South East Asian area.
If the Prime Minister is concerned about political stability, economic growth, defence capabilities and regional co-operation in South East Asia he should be just as concerned that the same opportunities and encouragement are given to the British controlled islands in the South Pacific. Merely to place troops in a country does not solve any of these situations. To place troops in a country is not the be-all and end-all of co-operation and friendship. Fiji and Tonga perhaps will never need our troops but they do need our assistance. In the overall picture of defence those things should be taken into consideration.
It is so much idle talk for members on the Government side to speak about the Prime Minister’s statement as being something new and something which announces a courageous decision. Merely to put 1,200 troops and a couple of squadrons of planes in an area without giving financial assistance, technical assistance or training facilities is not what Australia and what the people of the countries concerned would expect. The Prime Minister, in the speech he delivered on this matter, said:
Our advice is that the greatest threat to stability and security arises from the possibility of insurgency in South East Asian countries which could ultimately expose us to threat by the spread of Communism in an insecure and unstable Asia. We have seen insurgency associated wilh direct military action in Vietnam and whilst the decision to employ our forces is, as it always has been, a matter to be determined by the Australian Government at the time, and in the circumstances of the time, these forces will be available to oppose any insurgency which is externally promoted, which is a threat to the security of the region and which is beyond the capacity of the forces of Malaysia and Singapore to handle.
It is clear however that at some time in the future it could be possible that a situation might arise when the scale of such subversion and infiltration from outside - or some other organised threat to the region at present unforeseen - could be such that Australian resources alone would be insufficient to support successfully the forces of Malaysia and Singapore.
Now the Prime Minister - this man of vision, this man of new ideas - is repeating almost word for word the statements we heard from the late Harold Holt or his predecessor, Sir Robert Menzies. The present Prime Minister has adopted exactly the same attitude: Bring up the subject of Communism; bring up the subject of the downward thrust of Communism from Asia. But the Prime Minister was careful not to mention the root causes of any insur gency which is likely to occur in South East Asian countries. Some of those root causes are the lack of employment, the lack of education, insufficient housing, no health services and very little food.
– And no land reform.
– As my friend the honourable member for Watson reminds me, there is no land reform. Also, the people in those countries have very little clothing. There are millions of poverty stricken people in South East Asian countries and therein lies the reason for the possible insurgency that the Prime Minister predicts.
Before the suspension of the sitting tonight the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) mentioned some of the scenes that he saw when he was in South East Asia during the war years. I too have been to some of those countries in the last few years. I have seen men, women and children, dogs and vultures picking over rubbish dumps in order to get something to eat. I have seen people sleeping in the streets. I have seen them with sores over their bodies and they had no medical attention. I have seen people without employment; I have seen poverty at its worst in those countries. This Government pats itself on its back because we are going to maintain nearly the same number of defence forces in Malaysia and Singapore as we have at present. If there is any insurgency in those countries it will come from the disgruntled people in the lower brackets, lt will come from people who are given some opportunity to obtain an education, perhaps here in Australia or in some other country, and who go back to their own country and find there is no work available for them. They might find that there is nothing to which they can put their skills. It is when this occurs that we have a disgruntled element. It is then we have the seeds of insurgency. These are the things in our overall defence policy that should be looked at. We should not be merely putting a few troops here and there. We should be looking at the things that go much deeper into the problem that the Government is not prepared to face.
In his statement the Prime Minister makes no attempt at all to define externaliy promoted aggression. What does this mean to him? Australia is entitled to know and our troops are entitled to know how the Government will decide the difference between the maintenance of internal civil law and order and externally promoted and inspired Communist infiltration. These are some of the questions still to be answered by this Government - by the Prime Minister and his supporters. Is our force in the Malaysian and Singapore area to be made up only of regular army troops or will our national servicemen be used there as they are being used in Vietnam? If, and I hope this will come about, there is a scaling down of the war in Vietnam and some of our troops can be moved from this country, will they automatically moye back into Malaysia and Singapore? We are in Malaysia and Singapore under an agreement that is almost defunct. It is an agreement to which the Leader of the Opposition has said we have signed a postscript and nothing more. This Government is supposed to be a government of vision. Its vision of this defence statement is almost nil. It has looked at one problem only - Malaysia and Singapore. It has allowed our troops to stay there. It has given no indication of the economic policies it will follow in the South East Asian area and the South Pacific area. By virtue of our position in the world Australia is part of the South East Asian region and the South Pacific area, and it is important for us and our children, and perhaps their children, to have close and friendly relationships with all countries in this part of the world.
(8.21] - The Government has announced a defence policy which involves a presence in South East Asia beyond 1971. This policy has the express approval of the Government of Malaysia. It has the express approval of the Government of Singapore. It has, furthermore, the full approval of the Government of New Zealand and the full approval of the Government of the United Kingdom. What is even more significant, it has the approval of the Opposition party in New Zealand - the alternative government there. I cannot imagine that it would not have the approval also of the alternative government in Britain. A statement by Mr Kirk, the
Leader of the Opposition in New Zealand, was reported in the Wellington ‘Dominion’ of 27th February in the following terms:
The Parliamentary Labor Party supported the announcement by the Prime Minister, Mr Holyoake, that New Zealand would maintain military forces in Malaysia and Singapore at their present strength after the British withdrawal towards the end of 1971.
The report goes on to say that Mr Kirk had said after a session of the Labor caucus on 26th February that the announcement ‘very largely confirms’ the position and attitude taken by his own party. As reported, Mr Kirk said further:
The Government is only doing what I advocated in January 1968.
Where does this leave the Australian Labor Party? Alone of all the groups interested in the South East Asian region which might be responsible for a policy, it has produced one which is not in accordance with the expressed views of all the governments concerned. It stands alone and isolated, with a policy of isolationism, when we should be moving more closely to co-operation and agreement. This is no new phenomenon. The hard line of Labor policy ever since the Malayan emergency has been to withdraw back to Australia the forces committed by this Government to South East Asia.
I want to emphasise two points. The Australian forces in the area could and should in no way be described as a garrison force in the sense that the British forces once constituted a garrison force. Our presence will be relatively small - forty-two aircraft, a naval element and 1,200 troops. This is not a garrison in the accepted sense of the term. The Australian Labor Party has completely failed to understand the nature of our involvement in the area. It has criticised the forces as being inadequate - as though there were an immediate operational need for them, which of course there is not. I repeat that Australian forces in the Malaysia/ Singapore region would not be and are not intended to be a garrison from outside the region, a protecting power replacing and in substitution for the British.
Our role - this must be strongly stessed - is that of a partner within the region. What is involved is the notion of an Australian contribution of strategic support to a common, regional co-operative effort. Our presence there is sought by the Malaysian and Singaporean governments for this reason, less because of its possible military application than as a tangible demonstration of regional co-operation for security. Our presence will be a valuable aid to confidence and stability. It was in this sense that a certain phrase was spoken to me in Asia last December: ‘A policeman on the beat’. 1 point out for the record that this was not my phrase. It is, of course, dangerous to talk in metaphors. The literal minded miss the point; the highly imaginative mind will seek to extend and embellish the image unnecessarily. But this metaphor was used as a symbol of security and stability familiar to Australians - of someone who gives reassurance, comfort and support. I repeat that it was used by an Asian to indicate Asia’s need, and Australia’s response has been found completely acceptable.
Our purpose in Asia, as a partner in common regional effort, extends beyond that. Our contribution is to be part of a five-power arrangement and in support of that arrangement. The detailed operational basis of that arrangement is in the process of being worked out between the governments of Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Britain. Australia will be helping to build the indigenous defence capacity of both Malaysia and Singapore, and our presence will provide additional security to both them and the region as a whole while that indigenous defence capacity is built up. The Opposition’s policies, so far as they are ascertainable, are, on the other hand, a curious hotchpotch, a patchwork of assorted, mutually incompatible elements. These elements are not put together with the object of formulating a coherent policy related specifically and objectively to what Australia needs now and in the future in this region for they have no relation whatsoever to the stated requirements of our regional friends and partners. They have been put together as something which is the minimum acceptable to the contending elements in a party clearly split three ways in its ideas of what an Australian response to the needs of regional security should be.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), in trying to reconcile these incompatible elements, subtracts from his already shaky credibility on these vital issues. On returning from his recent annual going to and fro in the earth and walking up and down in it - I am sure the Biblical allusion will not escape him - his first pronouncement was to the effect that Australian aircraft and naval elements could be stationed in South East Asia, but not ground troops. He felt impelled, however, almost immediately to modify this by stating that those other Services would be brought there for training purposes only. I believe the only real element of Labor policy in the speeches we have heard so far was in this remark by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard): lt is the declared policy of the Australian Labor Party that there is no place for small contingents of Australian land forces on the Asian mainland.
Later he said:
The Opposition believes, therefore, that all ground forces should be withdrawn from Malaysia and Singapore, and that Australia’s strategic frontiers should be established at its natural boundaries.
There is nothing unusual in this. This is the hard line that official Labor policy has taken consistently for many years now. It is a position that, wrong as I believe it to be, does find some support within the Australian Labor Party. It found support from the Leader of the Opposition when, speciously and, as usual, not altogether accurately, he put this forward as his basic thesis:
Britain has made the decision that commitments on the ground are no longer necessary.
This line finds support also with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who said:
In the light of history it may emerge as even more reprehensible that Australia enters the 1970s as the last white garrison in South East Asia . . . This is not a proud legacy.
What is represented in those quotations is a complete failure to understand the vital importance to Australia of regional cooperation and development, or the bases underlying that vital importance. We arc not, as I have already stated, about to constitute ourselves as a garrisoned colonial power in the far reaches of an alien empire. We are, on the contrary, positioning ourselves to make a contribution to a partnership at the express invitation of those of our partners who are inviting us and who are providing the host facilities. It is a matter of pride and honour that we have taken our place as partners - partners not only in defence but also in economic aid, in regional economic and social development and in realising common aspirations for peace. We are partners aiming at that basic stability which is a prerequisite of peaceful economic and social development. We are to make a contribution consistent with our capabilities.
Britain is not reducing her own role in the area because of any assessment that British forces on the ground are no longer necessary. Nothing could be further from the truth. To accuse Britain of this is a grotesque distortion of Britain’s defence policies and problems. Britain’s decision to depart was taken in Britain’s interests, not Malaysia’s or Australia’s, , for reasons which we all understand and appreciate and for which we have sympathy. But what strange irony it is to find the Labor Party using Britain’s departure from a region not her own as a basis for Australia to follow suit - as a basis for Australia to go where Britain has gone - when for years that Party has been urging us to follow an independent line in foreign policy, especially in regard to the affairs of our own region. Britain is not, even now, withdrawing into isolationism behind her natural boundaries. Britain has her own commitments of regional co-operation closer to home.
As an excuse for Labor’s policies the Leader of the Opposition suggested that the Anglo-Malaysian Defence Agreement is already a dead letter. He spoke as though the Agreement had already expired - as though British obligations towards Malaysia had already ended. Th fact there is nothing in the Agreement which makes it dependent upon the actual physical presence of British troops in Malaysia. The five-power communique issued in Kuala Lumpur last year noted that Britain intended to continue to train and exercise her forces in the area after 1971. The Leader of the Opposition had twisted the facts to suit his strange arguments and the strange inversions of his logic.
There are references also in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition to an American withdrawal from the Asian region once the war in Vietnam is over. But, as the honourable gentleman must surely know, the United States has never had any permanent military presence in Malaysia or Singapore. The United States has and will continue to have bilateral treaties of security with Korea, Japan and the Philippines among others. It has treaty commitments under SEATO. There has been no indication that these arrangements will be changed. True, there may be changes in the number of combat forces based on the Asian mainland or even withdrawals from there. But if this were done it would not reflect any basic change in America’s strategic policies in the region. It would mean only that the Americans were reverting to the specific strategic posture which they adopted prior to 1965. it would not mark a retreat from America’s interest and co-operation in the security and stability of the area. Indeed, America’s interest in continuing this cooperation in regional development and security has been clearly reaffirmed by the new Administration.
As a further rationalisation the Leader of the Opposition has queried the legal basis for the presence of Australian forces in Singapore. What the honourable gentleman overlooks is that notwithstanding the absence of implementing legislation in Singapore following its separation from Malaysia in 1965, the Government of Singapore has in practice continued fully to adhere to the arrangements made under the Anglo-Malaysian Defence Agreement. If it is judged necessary to spell out in more precise form any of the elements of our defence co-operation in South East Asia, this can be done before 1971. The flexible practical arrangements which have worked so harmoniously in the past can be developed and modified as circumstances require. The legalistic arguments put forward by the Leader of the Opposition are therefore, I repeat, merely an excuse for doing nothing in the area. They are not a reason for withdrawing Australian forces into some kind of Australian fortress.
Let us restate, with perhaps more precision, one or two of the carefully blurred and fuzzy proposals that have been introduced to placate factions in the Labor Party. Firstly we are to withdraw all of our ground forces within our natural boundaries. Secondly we are to have highly mobile armed forces rotating among the countries in the region, including Indonesia and the Philippines, although neither country has asked for them and the Philippines has a bilateral defence treaty with the
United States. Thirdly it is wrong to have, together with New Zealand, forces on the ground. It is wrong for us to have 1,200 men there but not wrong to have two squadrons of Mirage aircraft for training purposes, which require ground staff of more than 1,200 Australian personnel to maintain them and with corresponding equipment and facilities on the ground. Fourthly, the withdrawal of Australia’s forces will enable us to end national service training, implying, I take it, a reduction in numbers of the armed forces, when all the Government’s military advice is that even without commitments overseas we would require national service in order to keep the Army at required strength.
This feverish fast-talking on defence can, I suppose, be understood, for the Leader of the Opposition plans as one of his key proposals - this was not mentioned in his speech - to relegate defence to one-fifth of its present ministerial strength. In a moment of magnanimity the Leader of the Opposition has cried: ‘Lance, take five.” His unfortunate Deputy, insteading of having a rauch needed breathing space, will find himself expected to carry the five portfolios now related to Australia’s defence. When he lifted his head wearily above the paper which engulfed him, if he should ever manage to do so, he would find that he was Acting Prime Minister as well, while his Leader, as his own self-appointed Minister for External Affairs, was wandering about the world making policy statements far enough away from the vigilant eyes of his own executive to avoid immediate correction.
In the final analysis it is the Labor Party which is shackled to old-fashioned policies and old-fashioned concepts. It has failed completely to grasp that the South-East Asian region is moving forward to a new era of maturity and responsibility and that Australia must assist in easing the initial burden and in facilitating mutually desired regional objectives. We must show ourselves to be part of the region. We must face up to and willingly assume our proper responsibilities. The future security of this country surely deserves a better policy than the simple cut and run measures proposed by the Labor Party.
– After having heard the speech of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Freeth) one could welt say that talk is cheap. Only once in the history of this country have we been called on to defend ourselves and on that occasion the Government was not a government which had been talking about defence for some 10 or 15 years previously.
– What about the First World War?
– The honourable member for Adelaide may feel that Australia defended herself in the First World War. I believe that we went to the assistance of countries in Europe which were under attack, and the only shots that 1 can remember being fired in Australia in the First World War were fired from the fort at Queenscliff at a ship which was sailing up Port Phillip Bay. The statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) is a convenient one. It satisfies his immediate domestic political needs. Unfortunately, J think, it underestimates seriously the real situation which could develop. The Minister for External Affairs said in effect that Britain had not really withdrawn and that if anything happened she would be back. The Prime Minister said:
The withdrawal is to be completed by the end of the calendar year 1971 - and the circumstances under which they may return to assist in an emergency are unknown. 1 would hate to have to depend on a statement like that which has been made by our Prime Minister, not the British Prime Minister, as some sort of guarantee that in an emergency we would have British forces at our disposal. When you place forces in another country and indicate that they are there to assist in preventing externally or internally sponsored infiltration and subversion, how far do you go? Do you mean that you will fight against subversion until such time as the limit of your commitment is reached and then put your tail between your legs like a cur dog and run away? Or do you mean that if the infiltration is of such magnitude that 1,200 men, 42 Mirage aircraft and 1 ship cannot cope with it you will build up your forces until you can cope with it? That is what has happened in Vietnam. Forces were built up to cope with a situation but the situation worsened with every build up in forces until the United States, which I think is a little more capable economically of meeting this kind of cost than we are, found that it was unable economically to carry on. The pinch was being felt.
What is the present situation? We have committed ourselves to the defence of Malaysia and Singapore in the event of a build up of infiltration. I do not quarrel with committing ourselves to defend our neighbours but I do quarrel with the fact that by placing troops in those countries we are committing ourselves to something which we may not be able to carry out. That is dishonest policy. It is not aimed at helping Malaysia and Singapore; it is aimed at helping the Government at the next election, nothing more or less. The facts are that if major subversion broke out in Malaysia it could well be - we have had no guarantees in this debate along these lines - that the Government of Singapore would not wish Australian troops to go from Singapore to Malaysia because of the consequences that could flow to Singapore. That is a realistic thought and one which should be considered. Our troops in Malaya were not permitted by the Malayan Government to go direct to Vietnam. We had to bring them home first and then send them to Vietnam.
At this stage we are not in a position to carry out any activities of a major nature without the assistance of a major power, and at the present time we have no guarantee that such assistance would be forthcoming. Our aircraft industry, which would bc basic to the’ defence of any part of Asia or Australia, is in such a parlous condition that the conversion of 50 Mirage’s from interceptor to attack aircraft at the current rate of progress will take something like 25 years. The Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) said that the reason for this was the tack of floor space at the Government Aircraft Factory at Avalon. That is just plain utter rubbish. The factory does not have enough men to do urgent jobs because they have been retrenched. I suggest that they have been retrenched for one good reason, namely, that the Government has squandered so much money on the F1 1 1 aircraft that the Air Force budget cannot afford the speeding up of this project which, if we were under attack, would be vital.
Unfortunately, because of a change of arrangements, the Minister for External Affairs has spoken before me so I must direct my questions to other members of the Government. What is the limit of this particular commitment? Are we, as the Prime Minister has suggested, committed to take part and assist in putting down any insurgency irrespective of what external aid is forthcoming and irrespective of whether Britain comes back? More importantly, are we capable economically of meeting such a situation? 1 have grave doubts about whether we are. I believe that our economy is such that we are capable of defending ourselves if the basic planning is undertaken and if the Government shows that it is willing and wants to provide Australia with a defence force capable of being moved quickly to wherever it is needed, whether it be in Asia or in Australia, but I do not believe that we are capable of providing an adequate defence force in Australia and a second defence force somewhere else. “
If wc hang a map of Asia on the wall Asia . looks very threatening. If the paint came unstuck it would fall over Australia. But I doubt whether the world is built in that way. Malaysia is the most convenient location in which to place Australian forces. It is also one of the least likely sources of Communist infiltration in Asia at the present time. Whilst we may like to think - it is good for our own morale and for our policies to do so because it solves a difficulty - that Indonesia is now safe from any future Communist infiltration or subversion, I. would suggest that Indonesia is a far more vulnerable part of Asia than is Malaysia.
What are we doing or what do we intend to do about Indonesia? The Prime Minister’s statement indicates clearly that we will not do anything about it. The defence policy as set out in the statement could present us with a very undesirable situation. We could have 1,200 troops in Singapore, 42 Mirage aircraft in Malaya - the Minister has said that there will be in excess of 1,200 men at Butterworth and a company of servicemen to defend them - and a major war or outbreak of infiltration between the location of those troops and the Australian mainland. At present we have some 50 Mirage aircraft with attack capacity. We have the shadow, if not the substance, of an aircraft which is the greatest thing with wings since angels and, like angels, none of us except those who have been privileged to visit the United States have ever seen one of them fly. We have the promise that this aircraft will arrive in the future.
We have a fairly substantial armed force in Australia. It is somethingless than it was in 1958 when the then Prime Minister said, in his policy speech, that we had 120,000 men trained and ready for active service although my arithmetic does not add up to the 120,000 men to which the then Prime Minister referred. We have a considerably smaller number of trained men at the present time than we had in 1958. We have less capacity to produce the technical goods which are required for defence now than we had immediately following the Second World War. This is because of the Government’s policy to purchase everything at the cheapest and most convenient rate. From the defence point of view, this could well be a disastrous policy.
It may well be that it is cheaper to purchase goods overseas if we do not feel that we will ever have the need to use them in our defence. But in a defence emergency we would have to provide replacements for these goods ourselves. If we did not acquire the technical capacity to build the goods in the first place we would have to begin to build up this technical capacity after the outbreak of hostilities. If we take the most lenient view of the operations of the United Australia Party-Country Party Government in 1939 and we accept that it started planning for the production of war materials and supplies immediately it became evident that a defence emergency would arise, it took the Government at least 2 years to become capable of meeting some of the defence production requirements. In the present situation we would not have 2 years within which to reach such a position. To anybody who has any knowledge of the present position it is quite apparent that the Government is not interested in ensuring that the very backbone of any defence force is available, viable and capable of immediate action in Australia.
At the present time we cannot manufacture any of the parts which would be required to maintain and fly the F111 aircraft. We do not have the technically trained people to do this work because we took no part in the construction of the aircraft. We can do a lot of work on the Mirage aircraft because we took part in its construction. But at the present time people who were engaged in building this aircraft are looking for jobs in Geelong because they are not considered to be of sufficient importance to be retained in our defence forces. What a laughing stock the Government would be if, when it tied up the ‘Melbourne’ for 12 months for a refit, it discharged the ratings. It is extremely important to a defence force to have, in the defence industries, people who are trained in the skills required to maintain and produce the defence equipment which would be needed in an emergency. It takes years to train an aircraft engineer but, apparently, he is expendable.
I shall now make one other point which I think is of serious consequence. The Minister for External Affairs in his speech said that if Australia were to drop the national service scheme we would not be able to attract a sufficient number of men to maintain our armed forces at the levels which our military advisers consider to be desirable. This statement was made by a senior Minister of the Government. J suggest that the Government should look very seriously at this statement because to me it infers that the Government has not provided in the armed services conditions which will attract men to serve in them. We do not require great numbers of men. I think it has always been a known fact that Australians have a leaning towards the armed forces. If the Government believes that it cannot attract men in sufficient numbers into the armed forces then it should look at the conditions under which they are employed. It should try to make these conditions sufficiently attractive so that people will want to join our armed services in sufficient numbers to meet our national needs. The Government is not saying that conditions in the armed forces are pretty bad, but it is admitting it when it says that people will not join the Services. Rather than do something about this, the Government says that this is a very difficult position to overcome.
The Minister said that we cannot attract a sufficient number of recruits to fill the armed services at the levels which our defence advisers consider desirable. This means that the conditions are not sufficiently attractive to encourage young men to join the Services. If the conditions are such that young men cannot be attracted into the Services, it is about time that the Government did something seriously about the matter. People in the Army do not have democracy. They are not able to approach an arbitration commission or any other tribunal. If they complain to a member of Parliament they , are hauled over the coals, as I think every honourable member would be aware. So do not let us think that people in the Army can do much about their conditions. They have to depend on the Government to improve their conditions.
If Australia is to be committed to maintaining defence forces in Asia after 1971 - and the Government has said that we are - without guarantees from any major powers that they will assist in any emergency, I ask the Government to explain carefully to this House exactly what Australia will do if a major defence emergency arises in the area in which our troops are stationed and how we will finance any extension of the policy which the Government has announced. Defence means money - nothing more and nothing less. When we get down to the question of the pure defence capacity of Australia, it is a matter of how much money we are prepared to spend on defence and how much money we can spend. At the present time there is no indication that the Government even realises the consequence of the step that has been taken in the Prime Minister’s statement. We are going practically alone in Malaysia and Singapore. If our forces are ever used for the purpose for which the Prime Minister has stated they are required in this area, can we economically support them in all known and possible circumstances? Another Vietnam is a possible circumstance which must be considered.
– The statement by the Prime Minister has set the seal on the continuation of the major thesis of the defence policies of successive LiberalCountry Party governments. It was, for us, an inevitable and inescapable decision. We have no hope, no future, no place in the sun as an isolated outpost of Western Europeanism in South East Asia. We may one day have to fight a last ditch battle with the shores of Australia as the beginnings of no man’s land between us and our enemies. But if we do, then our friends around us will have been silenced. We will be alone and the adds will be in the order of 100 to 1. Of course, we have to stand with our friends, neighbours and allies. Everything that is worthwhile for our children depends on those relationships. We depend on each other, not on legal documents. The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) who has just spoken paid no heed to the existing arrangements of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and the ANZUS pact. We depend on mutual regard, reliance and responsibility which we have each to each.
The Prime Minister has also indicated clearly the name and purpose of the enemy. It is Communism. As we might have expected, his use of the word brought the inevitable sneering reaction from the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine). But far more vehement than their jeers were the repeated, cold, deadly serious words of the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) who said:
Within 5 years there will be no white armed combat troops inside Asia.
Those words were not the quick reaction of a person to a speech in Parliament. They came with the repetition of the confident assertion of an operations-room briefing.
Yet the Prime Minister, deliberately, set very narrow limits on his field of discussion. He spoke about the measures that we will take to aid our friends and neighbours to withstand incursion and Communist revolutionarywar tactics. He spoke for the majority of Australians. Even as he spoke however the inadequacy of the measures that he outlined was painfully clear. The leftists opposite could afford to be derisive, because they know that far more than ever before there are sections of the Australian people who have ‘gone soft’ on the basic issues, who feel that it is old hat to be antiCommunist and who are ignorant of Communism’s fundamental corruption or of its standard procedures for subverting its victims.
Today some of the most vital battles for our national security are being waged not only in Vietnam or in our trade unions but in our churches, our universities and our high schools. Two years ago the Communist Party of Australia produced three definitive booklets or documents of ideological policy for Australia, the first of which was ‘Towards a Coalition of the Left’. In it these words were prominent: . .the important growth of a radical left in the universities, academic and literary fields, and important trends in religious communities including the Catholic Church, are all seen as tipping the scales in favour of the Communist Party of Australia.
In 1963, Mr W. Gollan, who is a member of the National Executive of the Communist Party of Australia, stated bluntly:
It is, of course, obvious that large numbers of people who support the Movement for Peace do not realise that in backing peaceful co-existence and calling for disarmament they are, in fact, engaged in a political struggle against imperialism.
Those are not the words of a reactionary; they are the assertions of a top Communist. The Communists in other words are looking to the churches, and all too often they are not being disappointed.
If we really believe, as the Prime Minister declared, that Communism is the enemy, then let us study the role of the churches in preparing for Communist victory. Today there are increasingly vocal sections of the churches which have given up all pretence of impartiality in things political, and whose dedication is to the overthrow of democracy as we know it. The Associate General Secretary of the World Council of Churches was recently in Australia. He declared that Communism had been beneficial for China even though the Christian Church had been crushed in the process. He has since gone into Papua and New Guinea and has been trying to stir up greater nationalist activities among the Churches there, castigating his brethren for going too slowly in the direction of independence, and suggesting another Congo if they did not move faster. The World Council of Churches is increasingly in the grip of those who believe that the overthrow of free enterprise society by revolutionary means is the Christian duty.
– What rubbish!
– If the honourable member for Wilmot thinks it is rubbish, let me quote this example to him: Here in Sydney one of the leading delegates to the last General Assembly of the World Council of Churches has called on Christians to revolt, declaring that ‘the world revolution comes from the mind and heart of God’. He has urged us to open our eyes to the realities of the ‘Third World’, and in Sydney it was the ‘Third World’ Vietnam Action Committee bookshop which purveyed the seditious and scurrilous booklet, ‘How Not To Join The Army’. He avoids, of course, direct incitement to rejection of the rule of law, but he leaves his comment with the observation that ‘. . . for millions in America law and order means repression rather than justice’. With passionate, emotional tones he broadcast on the Australian Broadcasting Commission urging all to join in world revolution, adding . . . ‘And let us remember that only those who share in the struggle will win the right to have a place in the fashioning of the future’. He most certainly denounced violence, but he offered no other way than the vaguest references to a ‘new style of missionary endeavours’. In my book, he was like a man deliberately throwing matches in tinder dry grass during a summer drought, and at the same time urging support for the volunteer fire brigade. We in this debate have discussed sending troops to Korea, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam to fight Communists. We have also exported into Asia churchmen who have been fooled into supporting Communism. Let me illustrate what I mean.
Ten years ago I refused to accept statements by the late Archbishop Mowll on his return from China to the effect that religion and the churches were free in that country. As a result I was assailed by churchmen on all sides. The Archbishop’s words soothed wishful thinking parsons and Christians into acceptance of leftist peacefronts and collaborationist activities with the Communists. Now a top churchman goes to the ultimate statement, that Communism has really been beneficial for China, even if the Christian Church has been crushed in the process. By accepting this crushing he endorsed the most unspeakably foul murders and destruction of decency possible to be conceived by the mind of man, and he endorsed it in the name of the Christian Churches. There are many, many Churchmen in Australia today who talk and act as though they believed that Communism would also be good for Australia, even if the Church was crushed as a result.
How has all this come about? We cannot discuss the defence of Australia unless we are prepared to think about what is happening in this field. I believe that it has been one of the most deliberate and carefully planned exercises of the cold war. The churches have been progressively subverted from their centuries old values and standards. They have turned their backs more and more on their imperious Founder who insisted that the means could never be justified by the ends - that you cannot get good fruit from bad trees. The churches close their eyes to the truth about the nature, methods, and goal of Communism. They cannot and will not listen or heed the truth. In 1952, it was different. The Church of Scotland in 1952 brought down a report on Communism, which clearly described Communism as the enemy of Christianity and that it was the essential nature of Communism to try to destroy Christianity and the Church. The Report of the General Assembly - I listened to it in Edinburgh - contained these prophetic words:
It is important not to be deceived by the fact that, for reasons of expediency, Communism goes about the destruction of the Church in an indirect manner, and that where it conceives it to be worthwhile it even makes use of the Church for its own purposes.
The Church of Scotland said that in an official report; it is not just me speaking in this Parliament. Communism makes use of the Churches for its own purposes. Those words are terribly true of the churches in Australia today. More and more, Communism is making use of the churches here for its own purposes. Churchmen, wittingly or unwittingly, allow their names and presence to be used at meetings for the subversion of our people.
Some months ago I drew attention to the activities of one young cleric in Melbourne who. while publicising his own agnosticism, gave support to activities of a body which was called the Vietnam Action Committee. That committee convened a conference at which he was a chief speaker to plan, among other things, an underground antiwar newspaper in New South Wales nigh schools. Through that newspaper 500 high school children were claimed to have been enrolled in a seditious movement which led to a training school for young guerillas, openly in support of Australia’s enemies. The same committee played a key role in purveying the booklet ‘How Not To Join the Army’. I drew attention to those things in the House. As a result what happened? Did a shocked church seek to clean up the mess? Was there retraction of support of the Vietnam Action Committee by the individual concerned? No. Instead of that, there was a bitter and libellous attack on me personally by members of the Presbyterian Assembly of Victoria, and that body had the impertinence to apologise for my action to the young man concerned.
Since that time only one cleric who was present at that Assembly has contacted me to seek the basis of my charges. I later sought to defend myself against charges, such as of character assassination, before the church court in New South Wales responsible for me as a minister. Although there was general sympathy and a resolution to support, no action of any kind was taken, or has been taken, to discover more facts on the grave charges which I made there about the activities of some churchmen. It is unhappily true that the Church, far and wide, has been neutralised in this idealogical struggle. What a change of front from the first century. Today a lonely maty, dies in flames in the streets of Prague. He gives his body in sacrifice against the massive might of tyranny. I wonder if he might not have died if the Czech churches had not been mesmerised for 20 years by such voices as those of Professor Josef Hromadka, as Vice-president of the World Council of Churches, who urged collaboration between the Church and Communism - who indeed welcomed Communism in the name of the churches as ushering in a new, more just era. Can that happen here? Is this relevant to the defence of Australia? If honourable members opposite do not want to listen to me, they should listen to Lin Piao, because he has a programme.
I welcome the decision to stand firm in South East Asia in defence. Yet the decisive battle for Australia is already being waged. At its heart is the choice between two ways of change - the way of revolution or the way of evolution. Far too many people, and especially our young people today, are being stirred up to revolt by a senseless, unintelligent, undirected passion for change - but a passion which refuses the disciplines of thought, study and effort to bring about change within the structure of society which has been built so painfully and at such great cost through the past. ‘Give us our way or we will pull your house down - even pull our house down’ is the blindly inadequate slogan of so many.
To hear some of these people talk one would think that the world is hearing for the first lime a desire for change from injustice to justice, from war to peace, from poverty to sufficiency, from ignorance to knowledge, and the rest. The passion of the revolutionaries is unbounded, but their plans are so few. Their protests are so vociferous, but their knowledge is so slight. They fail to see the basic facts essential to true freedom and development. They refuse to accept the fundamental disciplines that are necessary to build a true edifice and lasting foundations. The protest movement is, knowingly or unknowingly, a priceless extension, of the Communist thesis of revolution. Communism has a blind quasireligious faith in progress arising out of revolution, lt refuses to come to terms with the non-Communist world. Its only plan is one of destruction of everything and everyone who stand in its path. The work of. a Charles Dickens, or a Wilberforce, or of a Kier Hardie would be dismissed as revisionist, bourgeois or liberalise Keir Hardie dared to say, as a member of the Labor Party, that he scorned the whole concept of the class struggle - that his appeal was to the moral conscience of the entire nation. Modern-day revolutionaries would dismiss him as a fool.
The danger to Australia from outside is apparent. Tt needs much clearer definition and resistance where it is at work inside the community. Plato was right when he said that democracy would degenerate into anarchy, and then it would need the strong hand of the dictator to restore order and enable the state to survive. He was right, unless there is another force at work in the community. Tt is the force that Communism does not understand. Tt ought to be the supreme concern of the Christian churches. Tt is the force which makes individual men and women prepared to be morally responsible persons, willing to admit and abide by the rules of law and the rules of behaviour both as individuals and as members of society. Directly as that sense and acceptance of moral responsibility decays, so the state will drift into anarchy and from anarchy into totalitarianism.
I have been working over recent months to compile a booklet which is called ‘The Deceivers’. It gives line, chapter and verse of the widespread activities of those who pervert and falsify evidence widely disseminated in Australia and which is aimed at destroying our resistance to Communism. This material almost always goes out under the aegis of some bishop, priest or cleric, or else some group of academics or other community leaders. I expect to be attacked for this work, and no pressure will be too much for the Communists to try to prevent its publication. I believe that the facts in this booklet are vital for Australia’s defence because we fight no conventional war, but a war of ideas, of propaganda, of subversion, of violence at home and attack from abroad. I believe that this other aspect of the attack on Australia is as vitally important as is the stationing of our troops inside South East Asia.
– As a fellow Presbyterian I should like to follow the previous speaker, the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay), down the path that he trod, but I have not the time as I want to talk about the matter that is before the House. Whilst Communism may be an enemy I, for one, do not believe thai Communism is the only enemy that faces civilised society. I would draw the attention of the honourable member to issues of ‘The Listener’ in about December of last year. They contained a series of lectures by Mr Lester Pearson, the former Prime Minister of Canada. I would have quoted from the lecture of 12th December 1968 later in my speech, but I will quote it now. This lecture was entitled ‘Co-operation Through Economies’. I repeat that until recently Mr Pearson was Prime Minister of our sister dominion, Canada, and the party that he led was returned with an even greater majority at the last election. His party bears the same name - the Liberal Party - as does the honourable member’s own Party. Among other things, Mr Pearson said:
We must accept the fact that in many countries where people live in misery and distress, revolution may seem to them to be the only way ou< - and that Communism has nothing to do with it.
This evening I want to talk about this rather inadequate statement that was presented to the House and which was described as a defence statement. It is vastly different from what the Australian nation thought was going to emerge from the statements that were made as far back as the last Budget session.
– What is your policy?
– The Attorney-General, who has been a member of the Government for several years, is asking rae what my policy is. My job here is to indicate the inadequacy of his policy, and I hope that I shall be able to do that. The Government said that in the financial year beginning on 1st July 1968, in which we are spending $1,2 17m on defence, we were to have a 3-year defence review. I can well understand that a government that has got in such an expensive mess with the Fill aircraft has not much at this stage on which to base a defence review. It does not know yet the purpose of the Fill - that is, if it gets the aircraft at all. We are talking about large sums of money. This statement, therefore, is very much remiss, for all it seems to be is another of the passing snapshots of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). He is a great one for taking snapshots of what are rapidly changing scenes. Perhaps in 10 years they may be of some historical interest, but for the most part they are currently irrelevant. What we have here is only a statement of the Government’s position. A lot of play seems to have been made about a great difference between the projected policy of the Australian Labor Party and the policy of the Government. I want to say first what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) did say:
-What did he say?
– The honourable member can have his cheap gibes if he likes. If he is one bright, monolithic group, that is fair enough; but that is not my interpretation of his situation. As I have said here before, there is something wrong with a party that does not have a degree of difference about some of the fundamental issues. It seems these days that people get hold of words like ‘credibility’. It seems, with the only meaning that is given to ‘credibility’, that there is no nuance between what is obviously incredible at one extreme and what may be credible at another.
I suggest that there is very little difference at the moment between the policies of the two Parties, in respect to SingaporeMalaysia when they are examined, but at least the Government can be judged on its performance or lack of it, and surely that is our job this evening. The Leader of the Labor Party said:
Labor is determined to do three things - to defend Australia, to build the defences in our region, and to build the economies and societies of the countries in our region.
On the other hand, the Prime Minister at the beginning of his statement said:
Any examination of our policy in relation to our neighbours of the north will show that we have encouraged them-
He lists three things - to develop policies promoting political stability and economic growth, promoting their own defence capabilities in association with our own forces and those of our allies and in promoting regional co-operation.
At first blush I do not find a great deal of difference between those objectives and those stated by the Leader of the Labor Party. On the other hand, in the narrow purview of this debate, what does the Prime Minister propose to meet the situation in Malaysia-Singapore? He proposes that we shall keep forty-two aeroplanes there. According to the Leader of my Party, some of them will remain there because we have nowhere else to keep them anyway. If that assertion is not correct, I would like to hear some attack on it. The second proposition is that we shall have one naval vessel in the area. This was called the elements of the Navy. The third proposition is that we shall keep there some 1,200 troops but they will be moved from where they are to Singapore. The only point of difference is that we say that elements of the Navy and the Air Force should remain there but the troops should be brought home. Again this is not a very wide difference. However, it would seem to me as a matter of practicality that the Navy and the Air Fore would be more useful to the Army than the Army would be to the Navy and the Air Force if certain events happened. As some people have suggested, the experience of leaving troops isolated in Singapore on previous occasions was not very good historically. Again this is the difference. 1 do not think anybody can talk about what he will do in certain contingencies if he does not have behind him a home base for support. It seems to me that that is what is wrong in Australia at the moment. We have such picturesque phrases as Fortress Australia, Fortress America or Fortress Singapore. If all nations adopted the fortress concept and left it at that, it may be a way of achieving peace by stealth. They could all have their armies but no-one would want to move out of his own fortress. This applies also to the Israeli type army, whatever that may mean. Again that is not a reality for 1969 and onwards. Sometimes I hope that we could have more discussions in this House in which we looked forward for 10 or 12 years instead of looking only to 1969, 1970 or 1971.
Occasionally, when those admirable lists, if I may so describe them, are issued by our Library, I get hold of what seem to me to be interesting publications in this and other fields. I am sorry that the reverend gentleman has departed. As I have said before, I do not think all the faults in this world are on one side rather than another. However, I commend this publication to honourable members, if they have overlooked it. It is an article called ‘Arms in the Developing World’ by John H. Hoagland. It is contained in a magazine called ‘Orb is’. It is based on a paper prepared for the Ninth Annual Conference of the Institute for Strategic Studies on the Implications of Military Technology in the 1970s held at Elsinore in Denmark. Again this is no rabid revolutionary. He pointed out that accurate information cannot be obtained but he estimated that in the last 10 years some 10 million to 50 million weapons of the small arms type had passed from developed nations to undeveloped nations - this includes both sides, the West and the East - that 8,000 aeroplanes of strategic use had also passed in the same period and that now ballistic missiles were beginning to be passed. He concluded his article by saying:
One suspects, for example, that weapons occasionally do precipitate conflicts; that the traffic in arms provides a tacit but clear major-power endorsement of military conflict and competition in the developing world; that the large scale import of military hardware or technology is producing, in the developing countries, effects of a social, political and economic nature that no-one really understands; and finally, that a tone is being set in the conduct of international relations that may some day react adversely on the major powers themselves.
I suggest that that is the situation in which the world finds itself now.
We describe Australia - I think accurately enough - as being a country at a higher stage of technical, economic, perhaps social but not cultural development than some other countries around us. Possibly it is through no great virtue of the Government that this situation has emerged. Nevertheless we have obligations of the kind that the Leader of the Opposition and I think implicitly the Prime Minister said we have and that is to build the economies and societies of the countries in our region. We cannot help to build the economies and societies in our region if we do not build soundly and properly at home. I submit that one of the great deficiencies in Australia at present - we had a debate on one aspect of this recently - is that we are not marshalling the potential resources of the country, either for peace or for defence.
Since we are discussing a defence debate this evening I just want to say one or two things. My colleague the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) mentioned one or two deficiencies in the industrial field. Australia, despite the fact that it is a great industrial nation, is becoming increasingly dependent on overseas suppliers for basic defence equipment. Is it in the role of what Mr Hoagland says, that is, a country among others receiving antiquated devices in the hope that we will sool on one another? I do not think that is quite true in the case of Australia. We are able to produce such things as small arms. Nevertheless, this increasing dependence on others for basic hardware - I use the term that is popular these days - at least affects our mobility. I do not mean ‘mobility’ in the physical sense. I mean mobility in the sense of political obligations somewhere else.
When we read again the Prime Minister’s speech we come to the conclusion that there would be some difficulty in shifting 1,200 troops from Singapore to somewhere in Malaysia. I doubt whether it would be a much more difficult task to fly the troops there from Darwin or somewhere else in
Australia. If it is not of concern to honourable members opposite it is of concern to this side of the House that we have this increasing dependence on overseas suppliers for our basic defence equipment. I do not mean by that statement that we can necessarily build in Australia everything that we require, but we can certainly make more than is being made here. We can come to some kind of deal about components; the Minister for Defence says such is being done now. But again there is still no performance. It is the sort of thing that he could have been doing for years.
We do have in this country some defence industries with a great potential. Unfortunately, as my colleague the honorable member for Corio said, these industries are being allowed to run down. Nowhere is this more evident than in the aircraft industry. In my electorate of Melbourne Ports are situated two of the most magnificently equipped factories that one could get anywhere. These factories have available a supply of skilled manpower proud of the abilities that they possess. But each of the factories has no orders for the future. The Government has no plan for them. I for one - Socialist and all as I may be called and in spite of whatever sort of overtone honourable members can apply to the term - would think it would be more satisfactory to have an amalgamation of two good factories doing something than to have nothing being done. If this were done we would be able to get on with the plan of rationalisation to meet the requirements of the future. Something of the same difficulty applies to shipbuilding.
A further situation that I think ought to be grappled with in this country and in which the Government should give a lead is the difficulty of securing co-ordination among local industries. All allied industries cannot always make the same product. Each one is not always willing to pool its knowledge because it seems to be frightened that someone might learn its top secret. I submit that in Australia, because of the limited size of our internal market, there may have to be some kind of internal arrangement. We might have to establish a committee similar to the War Organisation of Industry Committee which was set up at a time when, because a national purpose for survival was evident, the job was done. It can be said that this Government gives no sense of purpose of survival as far as Australia is concerned.
The final matter that I wish to mention - and I spoke about this recently during the consideration of the defence estimates - is the impossibility with the existing machinery of securing serious financial scrutiny of defence expenditure in Australia. This Government seems to be gratified by the fact that it is spending a certain percentage of the gross national product on defence. Of course as the sum gets higher, the more expensive the job is. I say categorically: Would the Fill aircraft ever have been ordered at the time it was being considered, in the light of arguments between Army, Navy and Air Force - and they were great enough - if it had been thought that the final price would exceed so greatly the estimated price? I do not think that the Government could say categorically, yes. This shows that it is not always right to rule out availability of supplies for Australia on the ground that the first cost in Australia is higher than it is outside the country. I submit that these are some matters that have not been answered in the defence statement.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Before I present my views to the House I would like to have the attention of the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes), who referred to Mirage modifications taking 25 years to complete. This is nonsense. The honourable member took the question only as it was asked by Senator Poyser and did not refer to the answer that was given by the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) on 27th February in the other place. The Minister said, in part:
The work will be completed in the shortest possible time … In fact the work is ready in hand and will be completed by 1971. So much for that.
Our opponents would have the Australian public believe that because we have decided on a forward presence on the Asian mainland we have abandoned the concept of a highly organised continental based defence and such exotica as an Israeli type defence force. Would anyone in his right senses have imagined that the Prime Minister (Mr
Gorton) was seriously advocating a neoisolationist policy? Surely it was obvious that the great problem John Gorton was grappling with was to decide on the perimeter of Australia’s forward responsibilities. He was not to be panicked into a premature attitude despite the incantations of the spirits who haunt the benches opposite - blithe spirits some of them - the creaky replicas of a once great Party. The Prime Minister eventually pronounced a policy that was in keeping, to use his own words: ‘A policy to encourage our neighbours in the north to develop’. Firstly these are policies promoting political1 stability and economic growth; secondly we are concerned with their own defence capabilities in association with their own forces and those of our allies located hi the area; and finally there is regional co-operation.
To indicate the wisdom of and vital necessity for such a policy, I now submit a few thoughts that I would like to feel present situations which, thought not very palatable, are genuinely realistic. The Indian Ocean stretches from Ceylon in the north to Antarctica in the south. It washes the coasts of Western Australia and northern Australia. Through its waters passes 45% of Australia’s total trade and 70% of our total oil imports. Whoever controls this ocean controls the western approaches to this country. At the moment acute tension due to the Middle East conflict is evident at the north eastern extremities of the Indian Ocean. A Communist controlled state - Kerala - lies on its northern part, while between Western Australia, with its vast new mineral wealth, and Japan, the main customer for this wealth, there is constant turmoil and the threat of political instability.
During the nineteenth century and almost to the middle of the present century the Indian Ocean was largely controlled by British naval power. India was the basis of Britain’s empire and British policy was shaped to its defence. Britain’s imminent withdrawal from South East Asia will change the whole power situation in the Indian Ocean. Unless Australia acts swiftly, this vacuum may well be largely filled by Communist naval power. Our Government, of course, is not prepared to allow Australia’s strategic and economic interests, served at present by unhindered use of the Indian Ocean, to depend on the goodwill of India, Russia or China.
In March of this year Admiral Chatterjee, an Indian, said that the Indian Navy - which is supplied, incidentally, by ships and equipment from the Soviet Union - would be in complete charge of the Indian Ocean after the British withdrawal in 1971. The Russians, during the past 2 years, have established growing influence in the Yemen, Aden and Somalia. In the latter country, they are building the port of Berbera. This could well mean the establishment of Soviet naval power at the head of the Indian Ocean. Richard Hughes reported in the London ‘Daily Mirror’ of 14th May last year that Admiral Amelko, Commander of the Russian Pacific fleet, had suggested that Indian naval vessels should join in combined manoeuvres with the Russian fleet in the Indian Ocean. Hughes went on to say:
Russia has already quietly become India’s number one source of military equipment and naval vessels. India has contracted to buy four submarines and three destroyer escorts from Russia. Russian naval engineers are also helping to construct facilities at Visakhapatnam, the new Indian Ocean naval base.
Red China, too, is rumoured to have asked Pakistan for the rights to build a naval base at Chittagong and to have approached the Ceylon Government for use of the former British base at Trincomalee. Also there have been repeated sightings of Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean.
A vacuum attracts, not repels, and it is impossible to imagine that the Indian Ocean will remain such a power vacuum for much longer. Curiously enough, Australians seem to regard the Pacific as their vital sea, even though it is controlled by the naval might of our United States allies. The Indian Ocean, strange to relate, is largely ignored. Australia has no Indian Ocean naval base nor any active component of her Navy there. The gravity of this situation would seem to require these immediate steps: The Government should declare the Indian Ocean to be a major defence responsibility, should secure United States involvement in the maintenance of a peaceful Indian Ocean, and should establish a naval base on our western seaboard.
Now let us look at a report from Singapore itself which deals with matters that inevitably generate further thoughts of a vacuum in these areas, particularly when one considers the decline of the United States presence and the dissipation of the United Kingdom forces. We note the arrival in Singapore recently of the first Russian Ambassador. Ambassador Safronov extended to the people of Singapore the greetings and goodwill of the Soviet Union, saying: ‘Now our two people will know each other better and this will make our contact fruitful and permanent’. Fruitful? It is tempting to consider the mass market of 250 million Russians with centralised procurement and easier quotas as the possible panacea for Singapore’s industrial take-off. Already large orders for Singapore products, such as shoes, have been secured from Bulgaria and Rumania. What Hong Kong is to the United States, Singapore could be to the Soviet Union - a source of low-cost high-skill production in return for food and heavy industrial products. Yet Singapore must proceed with care. Too often developing economies have taken the easiest way forward by accepting details which they have subsequently regretted. Cambodia forbade the import of all but Rumanian tractors, but later rescinded the decision and reverted to Canadian tractors. Indonesia accepted a Czechoslovakian tyre factory which now, 10 years later, is 30 years out of date.
Will the contact be permanent? In 1966, Lee indicated that Singapore could turn elsewhere if Britain failed to satisfy Singapore in negotiating terms for the British bases. A logical suitor might be Russia. Already Russian warships have been cruising the Indian Ocean, visiting ports and showing the flag. A footing in Singapore would certainly have its advantages. It might also be seen as determination to prevent a Peking takeover. The Russians are now negotiating with Jurong shipyard for a servicing contract for their trawlers. They also have plans to begin operating regular Black Sea-Singapore services to compete with the Far East freight conference. If these are not the facts, then I invite honourable members opposite to rise and refute them.
So it would not be natural in such conditions for the people of Singapore and adjacent areas to turn to Soviet Russia, not only because of this new trade situation but with the ever increasing animosity between Russia and Red China. They could perhaps see a new security against any possibility of imperialistic excursions which the power-hungry war lords of Peking may be exploring. To condemn the policy of the Government in its decision to retain its contact and therefore its influence in this zone, in my opinion, is to play politics on a dangerous basis - a basis which ignores the realities not only of defence but of survival.
Yet another consideration is the attitudes and reactions of the masses of our Asiatic neighbours. I have wandered through areas of Asia on two occasions and I have been tremendously impressed by the high regard of the people of these areas for our Australians. To a very great extent the image they have is the one projected by the Australian digger. Undoubtedly they prefer an Aussie in their country to any other national. Hence how let down they would feel if our people, soon after the United Kingdom withdrawal, abandoned all contact with them. This is unthinkable. Because the Prime Minister is as the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) so aptly described him, ‘Australian to the boot heels’, he does not walk out on bis males. These people are indeed our mates. Let us keep them that way.
Finally, let me say this: I have drawn attention to the grim possibilities of a protrusion of Russian and other Communist naval influence into the Indian Ocean - an influence that could become paramount to any other. We have had pointed out to us the determined efforts of the Soviet Union to make Singapore its Hong Kong. We have recognised the obvious need, despite any forward defence policy, for a home-based, hard-hitting, mobile Israeli type defence complex. Obviously our northern regions are those adjacent to trouble spots; they are easily the most vulnerable, the most accessible. An enemy, once established in these areas, may be very difficult to dislodge. Keeping all this in mind, let the accent in any defence thinking be in terms of northern commitment - northern defence.
– The Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives for 5th May 1955 show that, as an amendment to a motion proposed by the then Prime Minister, Mr Menzies, that a paper he presented on 20lh
April of that year be printed, the then honourable member for Parkes, Mr Haylen, moved:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘this House rejects the Government’s proposals to despatch Australian armed forces to Malaya as set out in the paper read by the Prime Minister’.
That was a declaration in support of the concept that is known today as Fortress Australia. Australia was not going to be mixed up in the affairs of Malaya - now called Malaysia - and we were not worried about the Tunku or any of the other sultans in that area or any of the feudal systems which they had maintained or desired to maintain.
We had a division on the question. Forty-three members of the Labor Party supported Mr Haylen’s amendment. Of those 43 only 17 are still members of this Parliament. A number of those who are not with us today were defeated at the polls and a number died. Among those who voted for the Fortress Australia concept were Mr Barnard, Mr Beazley, Mr Calwell, Mr Clyde Cameron, Mr Clark, Mr Coutts, Mr Crean, Mr Curtin, Mr Daly, Mr Duthie, Mr Griffiths, Mr Luchetti, Mr Minogue, Mr O’Connor, Mr Stewart, Mr Webb and Mr Whitlam.
On 10th November 1964 Sir Robert Menzies, who was Prime Minister, made a statement about defence and presented a paper on the defence review. He moved:
That the House take note of the paper.
On 12th November 1 had the privilege of speaking in reply to the Prime Minister. As an amendment to his motion I moved:
That the following words be added to the motion: ‘and opposes the Government’s proposals to conscript Australian youth for service overseas, regrets its failure to stimulate recruitment for the Regular Army and condemns its delay in securing Naval and Air Forces to safeguard Australia and its territories and communications.’
The amendment was not put to a vote because of a delay and in the following year the motion was discharged from the notice paper. But the Labor Party maintained its campaign against all of the Government’s proposals with regard to Vietnam and Australia’s participation in any wars in Asia. On two occasions the Opposition has gone on record against any participation by Australia in any wars in Asia and against the sending by Australia of any forces to Asian trouble spots. This is the only safe and proper policy for any Australian government with any sense of responsibility to adopt. Labor’s policy on this matter is very clear. The Party’s platform reads:
Australia’s national policy must be to ensure her territorial security, the security of her overseas trade and her development as an independent but co-operative nation.
The nation’s defence must be so arranged that the intention of Australia to defend herself to the limits of her ability is clear beyond all doubt to her own people, to her allies and to any potential aggressor.
Labor’s defence and foreign policies are based on the conviction that war can and must be prevented and Australia has a part to play in its prevention.
The platform states further:
Australian forces should not interfere in the internal affairs of any country, and should not be used to impose or enforce forms of government on any people.
From the very beginning we who have opposed the conscription of Australian troops or even the sending of regular forces to participate in the war in Vietnam, as earlier we opposed any participation in the so-called anti-Communist campaign in Malaya, have been firm, as representatives of the great mass of the Australian people, in wanting the war in Vietnam to end as soon as possible. We do not want to send anybody else to Vietnam. We want to bring back all who are there. We have no right to send men against their will to kill or be killed in the defence of a salvage operation for American monopoly capitalism. We have no right to send men to kill or be killed in protecting the interests of American monopoly capitalism in Vietnam.
Conference opposes conscription for Vietnam or anywhere outside Australian territory except in time of declared war.
The war in Vietnam is a filthy, immoral war. Worse, it is an undeclared war. We have no right to tell a section of our 20- year-old boys: ‘Go out and be prepared to be murdered in order that American interests might be protected, in order that Marshal Ky may be kept in power and in order that General Thieu might be kept in power’. We have no right to do that. Most wars, fought as they are today with napalm bombs, phosphorus bombs and other terrible methods of destruction, must offend and outrage the conscience of mankind. No theologian anywhere has ever defended the morality of modern war. The world is coming around to the conviction that all wars are immoral. The 1967 Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party resolved:
The Labor Party is opposed to the continuance of the war in Vietnam and to Australian participation in it. The Party will work to end the war and to end Australian participation in it. Civilised values are destroyed by the spectacle of Western forces attacking jungle villages with napalm, phosphorous and fragmentation bombs. No obligations under ANZUS, SEATO or the UN Charter are involved in this war. Labor rejects the Government’s thesis that what is really involved is the thrust of Chinese power.
We have heard a lot of drivel tonight about the so-called downward thrust from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. The Conference resolution continues:
This thesis is never pressed to its logical conclusion in terminating trade with China, so that trade with an alleged enemy becomes a major feature of Government policy.
The war is increasingly purposeless. The war is increasingly destroying the possibility of creating viable democratic institutions. The war is creating nothing but anarchy and suffering. The war is increasingly dangerous to world peace. It should stop.
Satisfied that the war in Vietnam does not involve any obligations for Australia under ANZUS, SEATO or the UN Charter, and does not assist the Vietnamese people to determine their own affairs, and that no threat to Australian security from China is involved, the ALP seeks primarily to bring (he war to a conclusion.
We state the conditions under which the war should be ended. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) stated the position very well in his address last week. Public opinion in this country is beginning to recognise the stupidity and criminality of Australia’s continued involvement in the war in Vietnam.
Two gallup polls were taken recently in Melbourne by the Roy Morgan organisation. The results are interesting. One poll ascertained the views of people on whether the Government was right in conscripting people for the war in Vietnam. Whereas In 1966 the percentage of people in favour of our participation in Vietnam was 63%, this year 65% were in favour of Australia’s participation. This seems to be paradoxical but it reflects the cowardice, stupidity and selfishness of those who have no sons to send or whose sons are over military age and who want to send other people’s sons to kill or be killed. That is no reflection on the rest of the people and many of those in Australia who have no sons to send but are worried about this war and its continuance.
The gallup poll taken on the question; In your opinion should Australia continue to fight in Vietnam, or bring our forces back to Australia now’, recorded the following answers: In 1967, 62% of the people interviewed said that we should continue our involvement; in February 1968, 59% favoured our continuation in the struggle and in December 1968 those favouring involvement dropped to 49%. In 1967, 24% of those interviewed favoured bringing back our troops; in February 1968, 24% felt the same way and in December 1968, 37% held that view.
I think that America is sick and tired of the war. I think that President Nixon would get out of it tomorrow if he could do so with dignity and honour. The American people are much more sophisticated and mature in their judgments than we in Australia are. We are still tagging along behind America as if that is the right thing to do and as if that is the thing which will save us. I have here a propaganda sheet produced by United States Senator Stephen M. Young in which he says:
Ky wants the war to go on to the last American. It is sad that we humiliate ourselves to this little Caesar who said that Adolf Hitler was his hero. He and his cronies in the Saigon regime have deposited millions of American taxpayers dollars in Swiss and Hong Kong banks.
Referring to the United States establishment the senator says:
Generals in our armed forces are - Air Force 442; Army 521; Marine Corps 76. Admirals of out Navy- 307. Total 1,346. Of this tremendous total 263 have individual offices and staffs in the Pentagon, and 215 have the same arduous service elsewhere in the Washington area. A grand total of 478, or approximately 40%, of all the generals and admirals of our far-flung armed services are enjoying armchair service and golf in Washington or in neighbouring Virginia close by the ArmyNavy Country Club.
It has been said that we are threatened by hostile forces around us but we never mention Indonesia. Indonesia is our nearest likely enemy, and then after Indonesia comes a reorganised, remilitarised Japan. We are worrying about Communist China. One of those talkers on the National Civic Council said 20 years ago the Chinese Communists were sweeping down on Australia. That gentleman is very consistent because he is still saying the same thing in regard to the next 20 years.
Lee Kuan Yew is a very shrewd man. He is a friend of mine and I tike him very much. He is not very greatly interested in our posturings. He has Russia, Japan and India to which he could offer that great Singapore base if he wanted to do so. What value would 1,200 Australian troops have in that particular area? He knows very well that Russia is in the Indian Ocean and that Russia is there to stay. The Indian Navy is growing too, and Japan will be coming into that area. These are the facts of life that we must realise and live with, and not with our myths, fantasies and dreams. We rate ourselves far too highly if we think that we matter one iota in world affairs or anywhere outside Australia. How can twelve million people living on 3 million square miles of territory convince themselves that they can even defend their own country? In 50 years time, please God, we will have fifty million people, but fifty million people would not be enough to hold this country against a hostile attack if we were left on our own, and we could be left on our own.
I believe that all our forces - naval, army and air - should be withdrawn immediately from Vietnam and Malaysia without any reservations or qualifications whatsoever. I believe that Australia must never again participate in any Asian war or station any units of our defence forces in any Asian trouble areas. I believe in Australia for the Australians and Asia for the Asians. I am opposed to war as a means of settlement of international1 disputes. I believe that modern war is horrible, brutal, immoral and unjust and outrages human dignity. I believe that John Zarb and all other young conscientious objectors to the war in Vietnam - their objection is to a particular war - ultimately will be vindicated. I admire their courage and hope that one day they will lead this nation as did another person who opposed conscription in 1916. 1 refer to John Curtin who was destined to lead this nation in its darkest and most difficult days.
I have always opposed conscription. I know, and everyone realises, that if it were not for conscription this Government would not have any troops anywhere outside Australia. It had to impose conscription to get the numbers required for the forces in Vietnam. We have 8,000 brave young men there whom we must support, while they are there, with everything we can give them, but they should be pulled out. Some 4,000 of them are conscripts. Of those 221 who have been killed, one-half were conscripts. The Americans have lost over 225,000 dead and wounded in a useless war, in a war that was unwinnable from the beginning. Now the United States Government is trying every means possible to settle the war. May it succeed. May the negotiations in Paris succeed. At present, however, the war looks to be unending. It is like the Korean war. The only way in which Australia can really help is by creating public opinion in Australia to influence the United States to get out of the war as soon as it can.
– To follow the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) in this debate is an interesting privilege because one could never say of him that in matters of defence and foreign policy in recent years he has ever been a deviate. He has had a simple and a single theme and upon that theme he has played very few variations. Tonight his speech was in the character of the theme and there was very little variation upon it. However I should like to traverse with him one or two of the points that he made. He quoted his great friend Lee Kuan Yew. I will not spend very long on this but perhaps it is worth recalling that Lee Kuan Yew has had another view of Asia than that which was quoted by his friend. Lee Kuan Yew has had a view of Asia which has been simple and rather direct. Referring to the Vietnam conflict and the future of South East Asia Lee Kuan Yew had this to say in London last year when he learned of the impending British withdrawal:
As to the future of South East Asia, 1 would say it will depend upon (1) the outcome of Vietnam with the National Liberation Army succeeding in which case I say that the whole of Asia will go Communist because, you know, it is bending with the bamboo.
The other series of events which I will be privileged to traverse with the former Leader of the Opposition are the events of 1955 and the attitudes over subsequent years. This debate is in many ways a repetition of the debate which occurred 14 years ago when the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, announced the decision that Australian troops would be stationed in Malaya. It is interesting in that debate to observe the attitude of the former Leader of the Opposition, the present right honourable member for Melbourne and the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). This was just after the split in the Labor Party. The former Leader of the Opposition, who was thought to be either right or left, failed to tell us that he did not participate in the debate itself. As Deputy Leader of the Opposition he thought it was rather wiser not to participate in the debate at that time. But one has to reflect on the extent to which in subsequent years his own foreign and defence policy has been drawn into the fog of left wing policies.
At the same time, let us traverse the history of this matter between 1955 and 1969 and examine the attitude of the present Leader of the Opposition. In those days, Dr Evatt was in the vanguard. The present Leader of the Opposition thought he was going to ride to power with the left wing ALP as the avant-garde of power. He was a strong supporter of Dr Evatt. He used his usual rhetoric and snide references about honourable members, such as the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock). He used references similar to those which in recent years he has directed towards the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay). But the difference between the two gentlemen is simply this: The right honourable member for Melbourne has been drawn into the fog of left wing policies. The present Leader of the Opposition has tried to escape them over recent years, but he has been unable to escape them because quite simply he has failed to appreciate the strategy of Australia’s position in Asia. The presence of troops in Malaysia is a part of that strategy. What is the beacon that the present Leader of the Opposition has missed? It is the beacon of a forward defence policy. Clearly honourable members opposite do not or will not understand it.
We might ask ourselves: Is this something so drastically new in this age? Is a forward defence policy an inappropriate policy for a country which is seeking to determine its own national identity? I shall give two illustrations from rather more recent history. They concern Czechoslovakia and they illustrate the need for a forward defence policy, which is a part of our strategic policy. Who could deny that in 1938, when Lord Runciman was despatched to Czechoslovakia in order to negotiate Great Britain and then France away from their commitment to Czechoslovakia, Britain at that time was abandoning her strategic sense of a forward defence policy? Who could deny that having abandoned that policy she did not suffer greatly in the Second World War? She nearly failed to achieve a national identity.
In more recent days the Communist imperialist powers also have a forward defence policy as part of their national identity. The invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw and Russian troops was nothing other than a forward defence policy as Warsaw Pact countries saw it. This kind of policy is to be judged for its value according to the sense of strategy which a country has. The sense of strategy which Australia has is a very simple one. It is simply this: We desire peace, and we desire peace in Asia. That peace is not to be won through rhetoric; it is not to be won through adjectives. It is to be won through a hard-headed assessment of our own strategic interests and the confluence of those interests with those of other powers. Troops in Malaysia are merely a part of that assessment.
Australia, in fact, has pursued that policy for a number of years. We seek a national identity devoted to peace. If we do not maintain that situation we might revert to the sense of strategy governing the disposition of troops which has been put forward by the great friend of the right honourable member for Melbourne, the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). I refer once again to the delightful little pamphlet which he has written and which I would think now he wishes his pen had not writ. He has a sense of strategy. We do not have to go to Lord Runciman for an example of this in the Australian context. We can refer to this pamphlet on Australian defence which was published by the Victorian Fabian Society. In it the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said:
The basic contention of the Labor Party is that Australia’s strategic frontiers are its natural boundaries.
What an incredible statement! It simply means this, if we take the example of the Dame Pattie’ in Sydney Harbour: It sails out into the ocean. When it is 3i miles out or 12 miles out, which ever measure is to be used as the territorial limit, it is beyond Australia’s strategic interests. That illustrates the Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s sense of strategic frontiers of the country. What an incredible statement! Yet honourable members opposite argue that the disposition of troops in Asia is to be guided by that kind of thinking. A little further on in this booklet there is another illustration. What is the assessment of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and of the Labor Party of Russian or Chinese forces in Asia? What is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s assessment of the Russian Navy in the Pacific or the Chinese capacity with nuclear weapons or the Chinese capacity with ballistic missiles next year? What is his assessment of these matters which concern a Communist conspiracy in Asia? This is what he said in this pamphlet:
The evidence for such a conspiracy is hard to find at the moment. Russia has lost the incentive; China has not acquired the means for such a policy . . .
I would presume that the firmness with which he has stated those matters is only a variation of his own ignorance of what has occurred within recent years. We derive some support for our policy from the leading front bench members of the Opposition. People in the north of Australia are more concerned about these matters than are people in the south, and that is quite understandable. The Opposition has a shadow minister for northern development. It is interesting to recall that that shadow Minister, having immersed himself in some technicalities concerning the sugar industry and other industries, has never yet sup ported or spoken upon the defence and foreign policy of the Opposition. He has not done this in public nor in this House. So we challenge him to participate in this debate when it is continued on another occasion.
It is perfectly obvious that a misunderstanding of the history of a forward defence policy has led so many members of the Opposition into their fault. Not knowing where it is, they are unable to find a way out. This is 1969. We have traversed the history with the right honourable member for Melbourne between 1955 and 1969. We can ask ourselves: Are the strategic forces which caused us to make the decision 14 years ago similar to those which would cause us to make decisions in this day? There is a vital difference. Great Britain will no longer be there. Events in Asia have changed greatly. There are positive and negative factors in events in Asia which have to change our present strategic assessment from what it was 14 years ago. The negative factors are a continued growth in the significance of Communist China, her capacity with atomic weapons and the capacity she will have with ballistic missiles next year or the year after that. Who can judge the tremor that will go through the politics of Taiwan or the Philippines when in 1970 or 1971 China test fires her own intercontinental ballistic missiles or medium range missiles in the Pacific Ocean? It is those tremors we have to cushion with the regional alliances that have been foreshadowed in the statement delivered by the Prime Minister.
There have been years of relative success in insurgency warfare. These do not make Australia a pacifist nation but only increase our problems. These problems are increased commensurate with the growing power of a growing nation. On the other hand, what have been the forces which worked in our favour in terms of the regional balance which we would desire? If Australia desires a regional balance in Asia - a balanced power position to which the United States of America is an addition and not a principal partner - we can ask: Are there positive factors which would help that situation to be developed? We would say yes. In the years from 1955 to 1969 among many of the free nations of Asia surprisingly high rates of economic growth have been demonstrated. I exclude Japan. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports will acknowledge this development very readily. The economic growth in Taiwan is notable. It is surprisingly high in the Philippines as well as in Thailand and in Malaysia and Singapore.
There has been developed also a significant military base upon which regional alliances can be built. The significant military base is this: Excluding Indonesia and excluding Japan, there are 1,400,000 men under arms among our direct and immediate free nations around the rim of Asia. Here we have the capacity to develop regional alliances even if only in the military sense. If we ask further: Have these countries demonstrated that they can place upon their people the economic burdens commensurate with the alliances that we would need to develop, the evidence supporting this is strong. The proportions of their national product that they devote to’ defence are very great. I will not bore the House with figures. We know that a very significant proportion of budget expenditure on defence is found in Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan as well as a growing proportion of budget expenditure on defence in Thailand. So, Australia can do something.
What we have to do in developing a balanced power position in Asia, one would suggest, is to look at what is available and to develop what is available against what has occurred in that part of the world over the last two decades. Then there is the greatest question that we must ask ourselves. This is: Are we to note the advice of the father of the American atomic weapon, Professor Teller? Are we to take notice of his advice that no United States administration would expose the west coast cities of the United States to atomic destruction because a nation in South East Asia was threatened itself with atomic destruction? He says no. If we answer that question in the negative, Australia has the biggest question of all to answer relative to our strategic position in this part of the world. The biggest question that we have to answer is simply: Do we debar ourselves from having our own nuclear defence capacity? There are many who say that we should not debar ourselves. I happen to fall into that category. If recent events in the United States are any example of what could occur, Australia would be unwise to debar itself from a capability in this field.
It has been my intention merely to traverse some of the history to which the right honourable member for Melbourne has referred. I think that he will recognise that he has not been quoted unfairly or unjustly. In traversing that history, we make an assessment of our own strategic position. Our own strategic position requires that we have a forward defence posture merely as part of the strategic position. It is not the position; it is only part of it. In fact, reinforcing our own position is the awareness of what may be an immediate problem in Asia. The immediate problem in Asia is to secure the economic growth of those countries with which we have strategic ties. Probably the greatest problem that we have here is to encourage private capital investment in those countries with which we have immediate economic regional ties.
So, one has to support then the statement by the Prime Minister concerning the disposition of our troops in Asia. It is a continuance of the policy that we have maintained since 1955. It is quite clearly a policy which has been supported by our principal Asian friends in the intervening years, lt is quite clearly a policy that has reaped its own positive benefits. As Australia grows greater in relation to the other nations of the region, we will have less room and less capacity to be uncertain and to dither in terms of the disposition of our own troops than we would in a nation that would not be as great or as powerful as Australia is. I am sure that this policy will be continued. I hope that it is continued. Our own sense of strategy requires it. The sense of strategy which the Opposition has proposed over a number of years, and which has been proposed most eloquently in recent days by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition causes most basic and greatest differences to lie between the Opposition and the Government.
Debate (on motion by Mr E. James Harrison) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.27 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Television (Question No. 831)
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: l. (a) 39, (b) 5. 2 and 3. Answers to these parts may be obtained from the Twentieth Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30th June 1968, as follows:
Established stations - AppendixD, Pages 108-110.
Proposed stations - Page 73.
With regard to the costs of the established stations I would refer to my answer to question No, 1473 by the honourable member which appeared in Hansard of 22nd March 1966. The estimated capital costs of the five proposed stations are as follows.
Mt Isa- $100,000
Darwin - $650,000 (including local studio facilities)
Kalgoorlie- $ 120,000
Geraldton- $250,000 5 and 6.It is not the normal practice to make available estimates of either population or area served by individual television stations because of the competitive nature of the commercial services established in the various areas. Whilst the coverage of a television station varies considerably according to the power used, the height of the transmitter site and the topography in the area concerned, as pointed out previously, in average conditions the reception from a 100 KW station is generally satisfactory in an area within a radius of about 60 miles from the station’s transmitter. National stations which are not yet established but are proposed at Mt Isa, Darwin, Kalgoorlie and Geraldton, will have an effective radiated power ofless than 100 KW and they will serve an area of lesser radius than the 100 KW stations.
The coverage aspect of television stations has been referred to previously in answer to two earlier questions asked by the honourable member. The Hansard reference to these earlier questions are:
Question 1473 - Hansard, page 473 of 22nd March 1966.
Question 84 - Hansard, page 1063 of 14th April 1964.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 2. The following table shows the countries which provided economic assistance to Indonesia in 1968. and the amount of that assistance. Donors pledged their contributions at the meeting of the Inter-Governmental Group on Indonesia at Rotterdam in April 1968, or subsequently made bilateral agreements with the Indonesian Government. As the major donors give some of their assistance through the Bonus Export system, pipelines of credit are generally available to the Indonesian Government.
3 and 4. At the meeting of the InterGovernmental Group on Indonesia, held at Scheveningen in October 1968, only three countries were able to pledge assistance to Indonesia towards meeting the estimated requirements in 1969. Belgium announced that it would make a loan of $US1.2m on the terms recommended by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The United Kingdom pledged that it would make interest-free loans of $US418m with repayment periods of 25 years, including a grace period of 7 years. An additional United Kingdom loan of $US2.4m. to be disbursed before the end of March 1969, was pledged.
The United States declared that it would provide in 1969 one third of Indonesia’s non-food aid requirements, subject to later agreement by Congress for the appropriation and on condition that other donors agree to provide the full amount of the remainder on satisfactory terms and that Indonesia continued to satisfy donors that it was effectively carrying out sound economic policies. The United States Government also announced its intention to provide a fair share of Indonesia’s food aid requirements as they develop throughout the year, subject to Congressional appropriations and the availability of rice. On 8th January 1969, the American Ambassador in Djakarta told the Press that he expected that American aid to Indonesia would amount to more than $US200m in 1969.
On 7th February 1969, a U.P.I. report stated that Japan had agreed to give Indonesia a total of$US110m economic aid in 1969. This will comprise$US65m for commodities, $US40m for development projects and$US5m for grain.
The same report also stated that the Netherlands had agreed to give$US26m and that Germany had pledged$ US 1 9m in 1969. There is no information available on the intentions of other possible donors such as France, Italy or Canada. It is expected that official statements by the Governments of those countries reported by the press as having pledged aid will further clarify the composition and terms of their aid. Australia is at present considering the future of its aid contributions to Indonesia. An announcement will be made in due course when decisions have been made.
asked the Minister for Ex ternal Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The Trusteeship Council,
Having examined at its thirty-fifth session the report of the United Nations Visiting Mission to the Trust Territory of New Guinea, 1968,
Having heard the oral observations made by the representatives of Australia concerning the report,
In December last year two resolutions concerning Papua and New Guinea were moved in the General Assembly Both were submitted to and adopted by theFourth Committee of the General Assembly, but only one was subsequently adopted by the necessary two-thirds majority in the plenary meeting of the General Assembly.
The first resolution moved in the Fourth Committee was sponsored by Liberia, whose representative was a member of last year’s United Nations Visiting Mission to the Trust Territory of New Guinea. The text of this resolution, which was not adoptedin the plenary, was as follows:
Recalling the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) of 14th December 1960.
Recalling further its resolution 2112 (XX) of 21st December 1965, 2227 (XXI) of 20th December 1966. and 2348 (XXII) of 19th December 1967,
Having considered the report of the Trusteeship Council covering the period from 1st July 1967, to 19th June 1968, and the relevant chapter of the report of the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples,
Having heard the statement of the representative of the Administering Power,
Taking into account the constitutional changes that were introduced in May 1968,
The second resolution moved in the Fourth Committee. and subsequently adopted by the plenary on 18th December as resolution 2427 (XXIII), was sponsored by 26 African and Arab states. The text of the resolution is as follows:
The General Assembly,
Having examined the report of the Trusteeship Council covering the period from 1st July 1967, to 19th June 1968, and the relevant chapter of the report of the Special Committee on the situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples,
Recalling the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) of 14th December 1960. containing the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples,
Recalling further itsresolutions 21 12 (XX) of 21st December 1965, 2227 (XXI) of 20th December 1966, and 2348 (XXII) of 19th December 1967,
Having heard the statement of the representative of the Administering Power,
Calls upon the Administering Power to implement fully Resolution 1514 (XV) and, to this end, to take the following measures in particular:
In favour: China, France, Liberia, the United Kingdom and the United Stales.
Against - The Soviet Union.
The Australian representative abstained on the customary grounds that as a representative of the Administering Authority he could not commit the Government to acceptance of all recommendations in the report.
The vote on the Liberian Draft in the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly was 41 in favour, 37 against and 17 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Liberia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States and Uruguay.
Against: Algeria, Bulgaria, Burundi, Byelorussia, Cameroon, Congo (Democratic Republic), Czechoslovakia, Dahomey, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Hungary, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Southern Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, the Soviet Union, the United Arab Republic, Tanzania, Upper Volta, Yemen and Zambia.
Abstention: Afghanistan, Ceylon, France, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Mauritius, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Togo, Venezuela and Yugoslavia.
In the plenary the vote on the Liberian motion was 61 in favour, 37 against, 17 abstentions and 11 absent. It failed to gain a two-thirds majority required for the adoption of resolutions concerning important questions’ (which Article 18 of the Charter defines as including questions relating to the operation of the trusteeship system). The vote was as follows:
In favour: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, Gabon, Greece, Haiti, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldive Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay.
Against: Algeria, Bulgaria, Burundi, Byelorussia, Cameroon, Congo (Democratic Republic), Czechoslovakia, Equatorial Guinea, Guyana, Hungary, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, Niger, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Southern Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Uganda, Ukraine, the Soviet Union, the United Arab Republic, Tanzania, Upper Volta, Yemen and Zambia.
Abstention: Afghanistan, Ceylon, Dahomey, France, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Laos, Nigeria, Paraguay, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Togo, Tunisia, Venezuela and Yugoslavia.
Absent: Albania, Burma, Cambodia, Congo (Brazzaville), Costa Rica, Cuba, Gambia, Kuwait, Malta, Nicaragua and Swaziland.
The vote on the Afro-Arab draft in the Fourth Committee was 65 in favour, 14 against and 17 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Afghanistan, Nigeria, Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burundi, Byelorussia, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Congo (Democratic Republic), Czechoslovakia, Dahomey, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Southern Yemen, Spain, Sudan, Syria, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, the Soviet Union, the United Arab Republic, Tanzania, Upper Volta, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen, Yugoslavia and Zambia.
Against: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Abstention: Barbados, Ceylon, China, France, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Panama, Singapore, Thailand and Trinidad and Tobago.
The vote on the Afro-Arab draft in the plenary, where it received a two-thirds majority, was 72 in favour, 19 against 24 abstentions and 11 absent, as follows:
In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burundi, Byelorussia, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Congo (Democratic Republic), Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Southern Yemen, Spain, Sudan, Syria, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, the Soviet Union, the United Arab Republic, Tanzania, Upper Volta, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen, Yugoslavia and Zambia.
Against: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Italy, Liberia, Luxembourg, Maldive Islands, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Abstention: Barbados, Bolivia, Botswana, Central African Republic, Ceylon, China, Dahomey, France, Greece, Haiti, Honduras, Ireland, Israel. Jamaica, Japan, Laos, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico. Panama, Singapore, Thailand, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Absent: Albania, Burma, Congo (Brazzaville), Costa Rica, Cuba, the Gambia, India, Kuwait, Malta, Nicaragua and Swaziland.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1. (a) The costs in 1967-68 of handling mail in each of the four categories are estimated to be:
Parcel figures now include letters and other articles over11b on which parcel rates apply.
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Professor N. S. Bayliss, C.B.E.,
Professor S. Sunderland, C.M.G.,
Professor A. D. Trendall, C.M.G., F.B.A.,
Sir James Vernon, C.B.E.,
Mr R. A. Simpson,
Dr W. L. Hughes,
Mr A. W. Knight, C.M.G.,
Mr E. W. Coates. 2, 3 and 4. Records are not kept of all visits made to all university campuses by all members of the Commission. To illustrate the difficulty of attempting to keep such records, I may explain that some members of the Commission are on the academic staffs of various universities and in addition to attending their own universities, visit other universities from time to time in the course of their academic responsibilities while others are members of the governing bodies of different universities or make visits to the universities in their home State from time to time. In addition the Chairman and officers of the Commission make frequent visits to the different universities. However, it is the practice of the Commission to make a formal visit to each university at least once in each triennium in the course of assessing the universities’ requests for the ensuing triennium and I presume that it is to these visits that the question is mainly directed. On these occasions, lengthy and separate discussions are held with the Vice-Chancellors and administrators, representatives of the governing body, representatives of senior and junior academic staff, representatives of students, representatives of affiliated colleges and representatives of university teaching hospital staffs about all aspects of the universities’ activities ranging from major academic and administrative policy down to the adequacy of student amenities and sporting facilities. In addition to these discussions, the Commission makes a tour of the campus and inspects those buildings and facilities about which there have been submissions or representations by the administration, academic staffs or students. During the course of these inspections the opportunity is taken of further on-the-spot discussions with staff and students. Inspections are also made of off-campus facilities such as teaching hospitals, residential colleges, etc. These triennial visits occupy on average from 2 to 3 very full working days at each university. I might add that, before embarking on the visits, Commissioners have studied the very comprehensive written submissions of the universities and have discussed those submissions in formal Commission meetings. The preliminary impressions thus gained are then weighed with the evidence obtained during the visits before any conclusions are reached.
Such a series of visits was conducted last year and, with the exception of Mr Coates who was only appointed to the Commission in November 1968, all members participated in the visits, most of them visiting all universities. Since those visits the Chairman and the Secretary of the Commission have had further discussions with the
Vice-Chancellors of all universities and in a number of instances have made further visits to the campuses for the purpose of eliciting further information sought by the Commission’s members.
I can assure the honourable member that members of the Universities Commission are fully aware of their responsibility to make a proper and careful assessment of the needs of all Australian universities and that they pursue their task most diligently. I would add that the combined experience of the members of the Commission is large and that a number of the members have given unbroken service on the Commission since its establishment in 19S9. I have every confidence in their ability to assess the needs of universities and in their judgment.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Has the Commonwealth ever received a request from the State Government of Victoria for assistance for the construction of a standard gauge rail line to connect Geelong with the line between Sydney and Melbourne.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
At which Commonwealth aerodromes in Queensland did passenger movements, as defined in the Aerodrome (Passenger Charges) Bill 1968, exceed (a) 35,000, (b) 30,000 and (c) 25,000 in (i) the last financial year and (ii) 5 years earlier?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The following table shows the Commonwealth aerodromes in Queensland having passenger movements in excess of (a) 35,000, (b) 30,000 and (c) 25,000 in 1967-68 and 1962-63:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 March 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1969/19690304_reps_26_hor62/>.