26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– 1 have received a return to the writ that I issued on 14th March for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Curtin in the State of Western Australia to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of the Right Honourable Sir Paul Hasluck, G.C.M.G. By the endorsement on the writ it is certified that Ransley Victor Garland has been elected.
Mr Ransley Victor Garland was introduced and made and subscribed the Oath of Allegiance as member for the Division of Curtin. Western Australia.
Mr BOWEN presented from certain electors of the Commonwealth a petition showing that because of the increased cost of educating children attending independent schools relief is urgently required.
The petitioners humbly pray that the House will use its best endeavours to ensure that a subsidy is granted to independent schools on a per capita basis to the extent of half the amount spent per child in the State schools in the previous years and that in this regard there be concerted action with the governments of the several States.
Petition received and read.
Mr MUNRO presented from certain electors of the Division of Eden-Monaro a petition showing that the decision of the Government to lift the 40-year old ban on the export of merino rams will do irreparable harm to the present and future merino wool industry of Australia; that the initial quota of 300 rams will be sufficient to make any future protest worthless; and that the production of fine medium quality merino wool in cheap labour countries will put the Australian merino wool grower and all connected with this industry out of business.
The petitioners pray that the Government will cause to be held a referendum of wool growers to determine this issue.
– 1 wish to inform the House that I shall be leaving for the United States of America on Thursday. 1st May, for the official talks in Washington which were postponed because of General Eisenhower’s death last month. Discussions with President Nixon and senior members of his Administration will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, 6th and 7th May. During my absence my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), will be Acting Prime Minister.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Does he know that many aged and infirm citizens of our country are existing on sub-standard living incomes because of the steep increase in the cost of necessary commodities? Will the Prime Minister confer with the Minister for Social Services with the object of making an immediate substantial increase in pension payments? Finally, T ask the Prime Minister to agree to the appointment of a select committee of the Parliament to inquire into the living standards of pensioners and also into the tragedy of poverty in Australia.
– The requirements of those members of the Australian population who need assistance from social services in many directions will all be taken into account as is normal in the discussions which lead to the presentation of the next Budget. As for the second part of the question asked by the honourable member, I would regard the question of deciding on needs and deciding on what can be provided towards needs as a matter for governmental decision to be then presented to Parliament for acceptance or rejection.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Did the New South Wales transport workers refuse to co-operate and take part in a strike ordered by the Federal Secretary of the Transport Workers Union but not agreed to by union members at all? Are we seeing the public interest jeopardised by internecine strife in this and other unions which has happened to the detriment of the public in the past? Are unions using the strike weapon to intimidate the Commonwealth Industrial Court? If so, what redress has the public for the inconvenience to which it is subjected when this type of wildcat strike is called on?
– It is true that there was a disagreement between the branch of the Transport Workers Union in New South Wales and the Federal Executive of that Union over a recent strike which started with the ban on containers in Sydney. This union, both inside New South Wales and, T think, in the Federal sphere, is in a state of considerable internal disputation on a number of issues. The public was inconvenienced greatly. In fact, this dispute first broke out because the union concerned utterly refused to co-operate with the Australian Council of Trade Unions at the time the ACTU endeavoured to call together all the unions concerned with work on the waterfront to work out amongst themselves a reasonable system of demarcation which was clearly required in the very changed circumstances arising.
The fact that this union did not participate in this exercise has resulted in great damage to itself, to the country and to the costs of exports. A great number of other disabilities arise from this fact. The public, as the unionists and as almost everybody concerned uniformly, did suffer damage as a result of this dispute. The Commonwealth Industrial Court is there and so are the industrial procedures and the conciliation and arbitration system which naturally take some time to operate. They are there to be availed of. Nothing in itself can prevent men striking if they are so minded. Regrettable as this is, these and similar incidents can lead only to almost universal damage to those participating and to everybody else. The incidents are to be deplored. But angels cannot be made by Act of Parliament.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. In view of the possible devaluation of sterling and other currencies what action does the Government propose to take, or what action has it already taken, to avoid substantial loss in Australia’s overseas funds?
– The question is a hypothetical one. I have grave doubts as to whether there is a danger to sterling at the moment. Nonetheless I would not like to express a strong opinion about it. The United Kingdom Government is taking all the action that is practicable to ward off the possibility of any further danger to sterling. As to the second part of the honourable gentleman’s question, rather less than half of our funds are held in sterling, and 80% of our sterling carries a dollar guarantee. The remainder of our funds is held in the form of U.S. dollars, deutsch marks and gold. If there were a devaluation by one of the continental countries it would not have a big impact upon Australia’s reserves overseas.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service in regard to the most recent announcement by bishops of the Roman Catholic Church about national service, one’s duty to the country and conscientious objection. I note from reports in the mass media that the Minister is aware of this announcement.
-Order! The honourable member will ask his question.
– Has the Minister any comment to make now on the points that have been put forward by the bishops?
– Why did he not ask me the question?
– I take it there are authorities in the Roman Catholic Church other than the right honourable member for Melbourne. I did see the reported statements referred to by the honourable member for St George. I have not yet seen the official text but the statement published was long and carefully considered, and from a personal point of view I thought it was excellent. It dealt with a large number of social and international issues. I think one can say that in this statement there was nothing which was at variance with the Government’s defence policy or with the embodiment of that policy in the National Service Act.
– I have seen comments by other people who cannot read or write correctly. From what I have seen of the published statement - there may be more to it - in one respect the comments did go beyond the current national service legislation, and that was in regard to persons who established conscientious objection as distinct from selfstyled conscientious objectors. That is a fundamental difference which is not always recognised by organs of publicity. The bishops did suggest, in regard to persons who established conscientious objection, that alternative forms of civilian service should be open. What was not clear was whether the bishops intended that it should be compulsory or voluntary civilian service. On many occasions the Government and 1 have pointed out the very large practical difficulties associated with compulsory alternative civilian service. Nevertheless I am convinced that there are in the community large numbers of young men and women, who are not necessarily required for national service and who for idealistic reasons would like to undergo a period of service in underdeveloped countries or to do social work or work with Aboriginals. There are many avenues in this field. I am not at all convinced - in fact experience suggests this - that, many of these people readily find a proper outlet. On the other hand, I am conscious that there are large numbers of bodies, religious and otherwise, such as Australian Volunteers Abroad, which do want young able people, and T have asked my Department to try to make administrative arrangements so that we can bring together more effectively those who seek to render voluntary service and the various institutions which organise this service. This would not in any way be overlapping or getting in the way of existing organisations. We would simply act as a clearing house. I hope to be able to make this arrangement effective in the near future.
– J direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. In his second reading speech on the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Bill over 5 months ago the honourable gentleman stated that the Government would give urgent attention to preparing proclamations and notices under the Act. I ask him why no such proclamations or notices have yet been made and when he expects that the Act will at last take effect. The honourable gentleman also stated last November that close attention was being given to the companion Bill dealing with the non-living resources of the Great Barrier Reef, and 1 ask him whether he expects to introduce this Bill in this autumn sessional period.
– In rotation to nonliving matter on the Great Barrier Reef, this is not a matter that comes within my jurisdiction. lt is, I believe, one for the Minister for National Development. Tn relation to the first part of the question which referred to precise details on when proclamation is likely to take place, I suggest that the honourable member put that question on the notice paper and I will then deal with it.
– ] direct my question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Australian sugar exports to the United States market are additional1 to our export quota under the new International Sugar Agreement. As United States sugar quotas are adjusted periodically, can the Minister inform me what is Australia’s current quota entitlement in that market?
– It is true that exports of sugar by Australia to the United States, like the export of sugar under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement to the United Kingdom, have, by negotiation, been kept outside the International Sugar Agreement. Therefore the quantities involved are in addition to the quantities stated in the International Sugar Agreement. We have a basic quota for sugar exports to the United States of 162,000 short tons. This quota is reviewed from time to time according to estimates of United States production and consumption and taking into account, on occasions, the shortfall in supply by other countries which export sugar to the United States under a quota system. A review along these fines has recently taken place and I am able to say that for 1 969 we have a quota of exports to the United States of 193,000 short tons.
The f.o.b. price is extremely favourable at about US6.5c per lb. This is a very good price and rather better than the price we get for the 335,000 tons of sugar exported to the United Kingdom under the separate agreement we have with that country. Indeed, the price received from the United States is equivalent to about £Stg65 a ton on the London market, compared with the present free world market price of £Stg38 a ton and the average price over the last few years of about £Stg20 a ton. However, while our quota of exports to the United States is higher than the quantity we first negotiated, I do not think, and never have thought, that our quota is as high as we are entitled to as an efficient producer, a very large exporter of sugar and a reliable supplier. In addition to these quota quantities we have negotiated with the United States to supply the whole of the allied forces in South Vietnam with their refined sugar requirements, which amount to about 20,000 tons a year.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to recent Press reports that only 48% of Australians support conscription and Australia’s involvement in Vietnam? Has his attention been drawn also to reports that the United States Government hopes to withdraw 50,000 troops from Vietnam by the end of this year and to do away with conscription as soon as possible? Is the right honourable gentleman aware that 38 Australian Roman Catholic bishops have expressed opposition to our conscription laws? In view of these circumstances will the Prime Minister consider making an early review of the Government’s conscription laws with a view to abolishing them?
– I have not seen the figures to which the honourable member refers, nor, of course, have I any indication of the sources from which they came or what reliability could be placed upon them. But I have seen Press reports - I emphasise that they are Press reports - suggesting that some United States forces may be withdrawn from Vietnam. These are, so far as I am aware at this stage, no more than Press reports, dependent upon various other things happening. In relation to the last part of his question, it was not my impression that 38 Roman Catholic bishops in Australia had expressed opposition to conscription laws. Rather did I believe that they were addressing themselves towards certain aspects of conscientious objections rather than expressing opposition to conscription laws. In fact, the law already provides that any conscientious objector who is accepted by the court as being a conscientious objector is excluded from the present requirement for national service. In reply to the very last part of the honourable member’s question, I believe that Australia will need to continue some forms of national service for her own defence while the Vietnam war is on and afterwards.
– 1 ask the AttorneyGeneral a question about the report of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General, which is composed of himself and the Attorneys-General of the States. The report deals with the age of majority, with its important implications - direct, indirect and inferential - regarding the appropriate voting age for parliamentary elections. Will the honourable gentleman seek the permission of the Committee to table in the Parliament or in the Parliamentary Library a copy of the report, together, if possible, with the submissions made to the Attorneys-General? Alternatively will he seek permission of the Committee to make the text of the report available to honourable members so that they may make up their minds on these matters if and when legislation is introduced into this place or by way of ordinance into the Australian Capital Territory?
– As I stated in reply to a question asked on the 23rd of this month, at this stage the report is an oral report to the Standing Committee of AttorneysGeneral and therefore not one capable of being tabled in the House. However, the Attorney-General for New South Wales, who is obtaining the report from the New South Wales Law Reform Commission, has said that he hopes to have the report in writing in the coming months and expects to table it in the New South Wales Parliament in the sittings commencing in August. When the report is available I shall endeavour to obtain a copy of it and sec whether it may be tabled in this House.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Territories. Will the honourable gentleman outline to the House his reasons for excluding the Russian writer Semenov from the Territory of Papua and New Guinea?
– After considering all the facts relating to this situation I decided to exclude Mr Semenov from the Territory and I am not going to add to that.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question and say by way of introduction that, in reply to my previous question concerning Polish ships entering Australian ports to pick up cut Tate back loading after delivering at Haiphong arms, equipment and supplies for troops with whom we are at war, the Minister said that under the International Navigation Treaty the Government had no power to stop these ships. Can the Minister confirm the result of my researches, namely, that Poland has never signed this Treaty? Does he still hold, therefore, that the (Government has no power to stop these Polish ships entering Australian ports? If the Government does not stop them, does he not consider that the Ministry and the shipping agents who serve these ships are betraying Australian servicemen in Vietnam7
– lt is true that Poland is not a signatory to the Treaty to which the honourable gentleman referred. It is also true that a number of other eastern European countries are not signatories to that Treaty. The reason for no country being excluded from Australian ports is not based entirely on the terms of that particular agreement. If any country were to be excluded we would have to take into account the effect of such exclusion upon Australia’s trading relations with that country and the capacity of Australia to sell goods which necessarily form such an important part of our export trade. At this stage it has also been established that there is no regular trade run being maintained by any one of the ships that at some stage on their voyage have called at Haiphong or ports near to South Vietnam.
A number of these vessels have called at North Vietnam ports and it would appear that the Polish vessels to which the honourable gentleman referred have called more frequently than others. But it has not been established that this is a part of a regular shipping service. It would appear that these calls have been on a normal casual tramp basis which, of course, involves a vessel calling not at regular ports but a number of ports between the original point of departure and the point of reloading. In these circumstances it does not appear practical to the Australian Government to exclude these ships from Australia at this time.
At the same time it is of concern to every member of the House that these ships or any ships should be permitted to establish a regular pattern of trading with North Vietnam. If any ship, be it of Polish nationality or any other nationality, were to establish a regular pattern and this appeared in any way to be related to the provision of war supplies to North Vietnam, it would necesarily mean that the matter would have to come under closer and more critical examination by the Government.
– I ask the Treasurer: Is it a fact that an investment and stock broking firm, Capel Court of Melbourne, proposes to combine with a London merchant banking firm called Samuel Montague & Co. to establish what is called a merchant trading bank in Australia? If so, what is a merchant trading bank? In what way, if any, does a merchant trading bank differ from Australian banks registered under Australian law? For instance, is a merchant trading bank a bank of deposit, reserve and exchange, or something else? Finally, can the establishment of merchant trading banks with overseas interests enable American and Japanese companies to become established in Australia as banking institutions and thus undermine the present Government’s completely justifiable policy of protection of Australian banking institutions from greedy, unjustifiable takeover bids by undesirable foreign interests?
– 1 have heard that the Capel Court group is attempting to associate with Samuel Montague and Co. in order to establish a finance house in Australia.
– What is that?
– It certainly is not a bank. If the honourable member will wait a moment he will receive an answer. Secondly, the right honourable gentleman asked what is a merchant trading bank. The truth is that under the Banking Acts the word ‘bank’ or ‘banking’ cannot be used without the approval of the Treasurer. We would not be prepared to permit either this group or any of the other four overseas corporations that have become associated with prominent stockbrokers in Australia - as, for example, Ian Potter and Co. with the Morgan Guaranty Trust Co. or Ord, Minnett, T. J. Thompson and Partners with the Bankers Trust Corporation or the recent association of the Development Finance Corporation Ltd with the Manufacturers Hanover of New York - to use the word ‘bank’. The third question was whether the group will be entitled to engage in banking operations, such as the receipt of deposits, operating cheque accounts and the other normal operations of a bank. No, it cannot do so. The last question was: Would overseas corporations, particularly overseas banks, be able to associate with the group and to take part in branch banking activities? The answer is again no. If I felt there was any weakness in the law I would immediately take it to Cabinet and get the law changed.
– Has the Minister for Shipping and Transport seen a report that an eminent Victorian psychologist, having made a study of the factors involved in traffic accidents, considers that many accidents are caused by people who are psychologically unfit to drive motor vehicles? Will the Minister request the Australian Road Safety Council to investigate this matter with a view to recommending the implementation of the suggestions by the Victorian psychologist, which include longer probationary periods and the psychological testing of people who aspire to a driving licence?
– No, I have not seen the report to which the honourable gentleman has referred, but 1 wm certainly be happy to take up with the Australian Road Safety Council the recommendations which the psychologist has put forward. As the honourable gentleman will know, the control of the terms and conditions of issuing motor vehicle licences is predominantly the responsibility of the individual States, not of the Commonwealth other than in respect of its Territories. Of course, each of the States as well1 as the Commonwealth is equally represented on the Australian Road Safety Council, and for this reason it would seem that that would be the appropriate body to consider the problems which the Victorian psychologist has raised.
I would add that the whole basis of assessing the capacity of a person to drive has been under close and critical examination for some time by the Australian Transport Advisory Council and its subsidiary agencies. The appalling incidence of motor vehicle accidents is unfortunately a matter which is difficult to overcome. It is also difficult to ascertain exactly the requirements for a person who is to drive a motor vehicle or the reasons for the increase in the number of motor vehicle accidents. But I think that both these matters are very much related and that it is necessary that there be a general awareness in the Australian community of the fact that as the number of motor vehicles increases the standard of driving competence of persons who drive motor vehicles must also be improved.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that moneys which are received by bushfire victims from insurance which they have taken out to cover properties are taxed as income and that moneys which are received as relief through State instrumentalities are not taxed as income? Does this mean that persons who have not insured themselves are obtaining relief whereas people who have been prudent and have carried out proper business practice are being penalised?
– I doubt the accuracy of the statement contained in the honourable gentleman’s question. It does seem to be an anomaly. As a question of law is involved I will check with officers of my Department and let the honourable member know the result.
– Can the Minister for Health say what is the present position as to the availability of further supplies of influenza vaccine? Does the Minister expect that sufficient quantities will be available to the medical profession to enable all persons needing immunisation to receive the requisite two injections by the end of May as planned originally?
– The present position, according to my latest information, is that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories have manufactured and distributed 2.8 million doses. They expect to have another 470,000 doses by 2nd May and will continue to produce at the rate of 250,000 doses a week as long as the demand remains. Whether or not sufficient will be produced to meet the demand depends on a lot of factors over which I and my Department have no control. Provided medical practitioners and the public generally have regard to the priorities which are laid down by authoritative public health bodies in relation to the use of this vaccine, and provided priority is given to people in the categories stipulated, there should be sufficient to meet the needs of those people who are in the risk groups.
– Does the Minister for National Development expect to introduce during this autumn session the Bill to deal with the non-living resources of the Great Barrier Reef which his colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, assured honourable members last November was receiving the Government’s close attention?
– The legal and constitutional position concerning the Great Barrier Reef is far from clear. Work is being done on it by my colleague, the Attorney-General, by my Department and by others. As I understand the position, any land which is above low water mark is Queensland property. This would probably mean that it would be subject to the 3-mile territorial limit. At the present moment it is very difficult to delineate what is the Queensland Government’s responsibility and what is the Commonwealth’s responsibility, but I can assure the honourable gentleman that work is proceeding on this very difficult question. Recently an officer of my Department has been at the United Nations which has had under study the question as to where the responsibility for and ownership of off-shore areas lie. However, I cannot believe that there will be an early resolution of this matter. In the meantime the Queensland Government has made it quite clear that it does not intend to allow mining on the Barrier Reef and it has refused the two applications that it has received.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service been drawn to the recent violent demonstration in Adelaide when more than fifty students and other professional agitators were arrested actually inside the building in which the South Australian branch of his Department is housed? Has the Minister considered the position of Commonwealth employees working in this building and the persona) danger and inconvenience caused to them and other tenants by these near riot activities? As the responsibility for the protection of its citizens is a State governments responsibility and as the officers of this Department and of several other Commonwealth departments are not designed to withstand an organised siege, will the Minister consider the desirability of providing adequate protection for Commonwealth employees in future demonstrations and ultimately of housing all Commonwealth Government departments in a Commonwealth building with adequate security? Is the Minister aware that the demonstration was controlled by the same two Communist Party officials who subsequently were arrested in a similar demonstration in the Attorney-General’s office in Sydney?
– I did hear about this disgraceful demonstration.
– What about your disgraceful laws?
– We even have disgraceful members, some of whom are putting themselves at the very head of the lawless movement.
– I rise to order. Is a Minister entitled to say that in this House there are disgraceful members?
-Order! The right honourable member is debating the matter. He has not raised a valid point of order.
– A few caps fit and seem to be very familiar. In this demonstration the officers of my Department, as was the case with the employees of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department in Sydney in a recent demonstration, were subjected to the kinds of things which normally have happened in the past only in very lawless, somewhat primitive countries.
– Are you talking about the Czechs?
– The honourable member might care to put on another cap to avoid the point. This siege is part of a pattern, as was the Sydney incident. The hard core of people who infiltrate the demonstrators now have a set policy of increasing gradually the degree of violence which occurs on each occasion, lt is quite deliberate.
-Order! I remind honourable members that all interjections are out of order.
– The honourable gentleman in his question referred to two Communist gentlemen. Of course, the Communist Party is the stable from which a great deal of the trouble comes. These people do no believe in the ballot box. in democracy or in the rule of law. These demonstrations have given them a field in which they can give vent to their creed, which quite frankly and openly aims at the overthrow of government, law and order and their replacement by something more to their heart’s desire, with which even some honourable members seem to have a flirtation, if not more. This situation presents any administration and any country which believes in law and order with considerable problems. As for having all Commonwealth officers in a kind of siege atmosphere, I hope that every member at least would deplore such a possibility. If the tempo, the volume and the scope of lawless action increase, naturally we as a community will no longer be able to enjoy the same kind of civilised conditions and friendly personal’ human relations that we have in the past. This does pose a problem, as the Attorney-General has mentioned. Actually it is his specific responsibility to provide for the protection of our public servants in Government departments pursuing their ordinary functions. The Government will be obliged naturally to tailor its measures according to the unfolding scene.
– Was the Minister for Health correctly reported when he denied the statement of the Commonwealth Department of Health that the Government had repurchased 150,000 doses of the Hong Kong influenza vaccine which had been sold originally to a company in the United Kingdom? If the Minister is reported correctly, what was the charge for the vaccine sold to the company and at what cost was the vaccine repurchased?
– Yes, Sir, the Government did not purchase the vacine. The vaccine was imported by the company that bought it originally, the pharmaceutical firm Burroughs Wellcome. The only part played by the Government was to give permission for its importation and to meet the request of the company (hat it be listed as a pharmaceutical benefit for pensioners. As far as the cost is concerned, I am not in a position to know, or I do not know but I will find out for the honourable gentleman, at what cost the company bought the vaccine originally. What I do know is that the vaccine is being made available in Australia at the same price as the current vaccine being manufactured by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories.
– I address my question to the Postmaster-General. Is it correct that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has gone into partnership with a public company as the joint proprietors of the magazine ‘TV Times’ under an agreement whereby the parties share profits and losses equally? Is it correct that these profits include substantial revenue from the sale of advertising space for such varied products as ‘Tinaderm’ - for athlete’s foot - the Shoestring’ bikini and ‘Dream Dew Skin Rejuvenator’? ls the Minister aware that the Commission now televises commercials advertising the magazine? Does he consider the trading and advertising activities of the Commission to be in direct contravention of the Broadcasting and Television Act?
– I cannot give a detailed reply to the questions asked by the honourable member. The Australian Broadcasting Commission sees, as part of its service to the public, the need to advertise in the broad area the programmes of not only the national stations but also the commercial stations. For this purpose it does produce, I think, in regard to radio and certainly in regard to television a weekly magazine which indicates what those programmes are. It may be that, in this magazine, a certain amount of advertising material appears to assist in covering the cost of production. To the best of my knowledge and belief, receipts from the sale of the magazine approximately cover the actual cost of producing it. As to whether there is a partnership between commercial interests and the ABC,I will make inquiries and let the honourable member have an answer.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Public Service Arbitration Bill 1969.
Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Bill 1969.
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1969.
Officers’ Rights Declaration Bill 1969.
Superannuation Bill 1969.
Conciliation am) Arbitration Bill (No. 2) 1969.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Discussion of Matter of Public Importance
-I have received a letter from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The Government’s refusal to inform the Par liament and public of the general purposes and possible consequences of joint defence installations and facilities in Australia.
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.)
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Mr Erwin) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent a discussion on a muttero f public importance being continued until 9.20 p.m.
, who was back to his old form, intemperate, irrational, incoherent. Then, 2 minutes before the House adjourned for the long weekend - that is, at 10 minutes before 5 o’clock, not, as is usual, at the end of question time, and not at the special time of 8 p.m. - without any warning to honourable members except myself the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) made a seven sentence statement on the joint United States-Australian defence space communications facility at Woomera.
The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) held an immediate Press conference. On petrol, on shipping, on the Cape Keraudren caper and on Vietnam we have had perfunctory and incomplete statements from the Prime Minister followed immediately by Press conferences with him or with other Ministers more directly responsible and presumably more knowledgeable about the details. If the Minister for Defence had come to this Press conference, which he himself invited, clear in his mind, clear on his brief and clear on his intentions, it might have had some point. The transcript of the Press conference shows that he was none of these things, even though he had Sir Henry Bland by his side. Any new facts he gave should have been given in the House. There was one fact which is quite fundamental in assessing the importance of the project - that is. that Australia will havefull and equal access to the data available in the operation of the station and access to its services. For the rest, the Minister’s statements were confusing and contradictory.
The Minister for Defence was asked what was the defence significance of this project. He said:
The functioning of the station will make a contribution to free world defence, but I wish you would not ask me how.
Then followed this question:
Does the station have a defensive or offensive capability, or both?
The Minister replied:
No offensive capability.
He was then asked:
When you said that mis had no offensive capability, did you mean in the same way as North West Cape?
No, I just meant no comment.
He was then asked: 1 thought you said ‘no’ to the question whether this had an offensive capability?
The Minister said:
Withdraw what I said before. Make it no comment.
He was then asked:
Was this discussed by the Prime Minister when he was in Washington?
The answer was:
The next question was:
With the President?
To which he replied:
Yes. I think he mentioned that, didn’t he, in his statement?
Sir Henry Bland said:
The next question was: ls the tenure for 5 or 10 years?
The Minister said to Sir Henry Bland:
Do you remember what we had in mind?
Sir Henry Bland replied:
The Minister then said: 1 don’t think I would like to comment on that but there will be a definite term specified.
What kind of picture of competence, efficiency and clear headedness does this convey? This is the Minister who, when he speaks in this debate, will assume an air of omniscience and will pity the ignorance and irresponsibility of the Press and the House. The manner of this announcement is as significant as its matter. There has not been a ministerial statement or a Press conference on any previous space and communication agreement. Why was this particular agreement singled out in this way? Alternatively, why did not the Prime Minister announce it in his preliminary report on his visit to the United States, or leave it until his final report? At his Press conference the Minister for Defence was asked:
Will the agreement itself be tabled?
He was further asked:
Will it be published?
To which he replied:
Sir Henry reminds me that we will register this wilh the United Nations. It doesn’t require any other parliamentary action.
In fact, over the last 5 years eight Australian-United States space and communication agreements and five European Launcher Development Organisation agreements have been tabled in the House. They have to be, following the practice laid down by Sir Robert Menzies in May 1961. The United States has used at least two of the Woomera facilities since 1957.
Agreements covering United States use of four facilities at Woomera have been published in the Treaty Series for nine years. If one treats this simply as a request from the United States Government for facilities for a space communications centre on Australian soil, it would be inconceivable that this or any future Australian Government would not be prepared to negotiate such an agreement or, to put it another way, there is no possibility that any future Australian Government would abrogate these arrangements in principle any more than that any future government would abrogate or forfeit the ANZUS Treaty, lt is right to co-operate with the United States in using the advantages of our size and site for communications and research in the space age. It is right to allow Australians to acquire and expand their skills which are basic in the new age that we are entering. It is right to seek a new lease of life for Woomera. It is right that this should have been made a joint project. But it is utterly wrong to withhold from Parliament and the public the general purposes of this and the whole dozen facilities we are making available. lt is wrong and absurd that the Government should make the secret appear sinister. It is not enough for the Government to justify decisions which may have farreaching consequences for the people and far-reaching consequences for the whole future development of our defence policy simply by some meaningless mumble about the free world. It is not even a sufficient explanation to say that such installations are a necessary consequence of the ANZUS Treaty.
ANZUS should not be debased into a general cover-all for any military project that the scientists or soldiers of any of the signatories might choose to dream up. ANZUS is neither a cover-all nor a coverup. New Zealand, presumably as loyal and rather more dependent a partner in ANZUS, has not thought it obligatory to become host even to the Omega submarine communications project without analysis and public debate encouraged and sponsored by the conservative government of that country. The Minister invites the most lurid and sometimes lucridous explanations for projected and existing installations. He concluded his fatuous briefing last Wednesday by saying:
Well, gentlemen. I am awfully sorry 1 can’t tell you any more. You will do your own conjecturing - which we will neither affirm nor deny - but you have got the raw material for a good clean story.
Earlier he had said about Woomera:
Of course, the more way-out will immediately brand this a nuclear target.
Next day speculation varied widely, and in some cases wildly, from paper to paper. Even that way-out gentleman, Mr E. H. Cox, O.B.E., of the Melbourne ‘Herald’, listed the Australian nuclear targets resulting from this policy as Woomera, North West Cape, Canberra, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Newcastle, Port Kembla, Broken Hill, Alice Springs, the Snowy Mountains, the Latrobe Valley, and the Bass Strait oilfields, three times as many as the Minister at last admitted as possibilities. This was the page 1 story of the largest evening newspaper in Australia. It was written by the doyen of the National Press Gallery. Such is the result of the
Government’s puerile and futile approach to these important matters. Equally puerile and offensive is the Government’s altitude to visits to these establishments by members of Parliament. It is offensive because it casts aspersions on the loyalty and integrity of the whole body. It is puerile because it is so absolutely unnecessary and pointless. The Minister stated that the new Woomera facility will be completely closed to members of Parliament. This follows the new line he took twice last month on Pine Gap when he said in answer to my Deputy: There will be no facilities provided for inspection’ by members. Last Wednesday in a prepared answer to the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) he stated:
Only Ministers directly concerned with the operation of the facility will be permitted to visit Pine Gap.
Presumably even the Prime Minister himself would not be allowed to visit Pine Gap. A fortnight ago in another written reply the Minister listed the names of nine Ministers and members who had visited Pine Gap. I had done so last May, and the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) last July. The Minister for Defence was at pains to point out that these visits had taken place at an early stage of the construction of the facility, the implication being, presumably, that had we sought to go at a later stage it would have been off limits to us.
The agreement relating to Pine Gap provides:
The authorities of the Australian Government shall prescribe appropriate measures to control access to the land and the facility, and security measures within the area shall be arranged between the Australian and US Departments of Defence.
Thus there is no requirement in the agreement that members of Parliament should be excluded. This was a gloss tolerated or obtruded by the Minister’s Department, not only since the agreement was tabled in March 1967 but apparently since members last visited the facility in July. The Harold Holt base, of course, has been inspected by dozens of honourable members and scores of journalists, in practice it is not by visits on location to places like Pine Gap or Woomera that laymen like ourselves are likely to discover much of significance about them. We will learn in the course of time a great deal from American technical journals and magazines. We will learn in the course of time what any member of the United
States Congress can learn by right through Congressional committee hearings. Mr McNamara was twice examined by the Senate Appropriations Committee concerning the budget of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, which covers Pine Gap. And while sections of the hearing were held in camera and the record deletes a considerable amount of confidential material, the general nature and purpose of such installations is on record for all to read.
Do Australians believe that the Russians are so busy suborning members of the Australian Parliament that they cannot get around to reading American magazines and Congressional records? No American administration would treat Congress and the American people in this fashion. Right now the United States is engaged in a far reaching and far ranging debate on its nuclear defence system - anti-ballistic missiles and their sites. Imagine what would happen to an American Secretary for Defence who said: ‘The Administration’s proposals are a contribution to the defence of the free world, but I. wish you would not ask me how’.
The Australian people want to know where we are heading, and they are entitled to know. Whether we like it or not, we are living in a nuclear age - in the space age. Australians are entitled to know what their government proposes to do to minimise the risks - the terrible risks - of life in the nuclear age and to maximise the opportunities of rife in the space age. The Chifley Labor Government took Austrafia boldly and frankly into the nuclear age. This Government wants to creep into the space age. I accept as valid today what Dr Evatt said in June 1947. Referring to Woomera he said:
Australia, Great Britain and the United States are taking an active part in an attempt to establish an effective method of suppressing atomic weapons and other weapons of mass destruction such as those which will probably be tested in central Australia. Until suppression of atomic weapons is effected internationally, vital defence projects must be gone on with provided they are approved by the Australian Government and the Parliament.
At this very moment the United States and Britain are again sponsors of an important move to prevent the spread and the use of nuclear weapons. The United States requests Australia to adhere to the Nuclear
Non-proliferation Treaty. The Treaty is altogether more fundamental to America’s long term nuclear policy than peripheral arrangements which might be made about experimental stations and space communications stations. This Government is willing to grant one request but will not entertain the other. The people are entitled to a clear statement of the actual benefits and risks involved in ANZUS. They are entitled to realise that there is a price for protection. They are entitled to know the extent to which hosting these various installations makes hostages of us all. They are entitled to know whether we receive any guarantees at all under these arrangements and if, as is more likely, we receive none, why such guarantees are not feasible or credible. If the Government believes that our cooperation with the United States increases nuclear risks in Australia it has a duty to devise improved civil defence arrangements to meet those increased risks.
We are not the only people involved. We owe it to our neighbours to state the purpose of these facilities. Our neighbours have a right to know what this Government’s policy is, if it has one. They have a right to know whether the risks to the region are increased as a result of that policy. Bombast about the free world will cut no more ice with them than it should with Australians.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has this afternoon given us the usual Leader of the Opposition slick dissertation on a case that should be treated with seriousness. He has also, of course, quoted out of context a quite goodhumoured and good-natured Press conference, arranged rather hurriedly. If he is in any doubt about what I meant 1 will be able to clarify those matters for him now. The Opposition is trying to have a bit each way on what is really a tremendously important argument. First of all I deplore the excursion of the honourable gentleman into a little cheap political byplay. This is a matter of national and - begging the honourable gentleman’s pardon - free world defence, whether he likes that expression or not, as I hope to show. I would want to keep the discussion on that kind of plane.
The honourable gentleman finds that everything about this proposal is first-class - we should be in it; it should be there; we should be co-operating. The one thing he does not want is a little secrecy, but secrecy is the only thing that renders this proposal of any value at this time. 1 will come to that matter later. The honourable gentleman wants to deny me the possibility of linking this proposal with free world defence. Let me remind him and his Party - apparently bis followers need this kind of reminder - that it is the United States of America which today is underwriting the security - again begging the honourable gentleman’s pardon - of the free world, and Australia is part of the free world. Getting a little closer to home I would point out that under the ANZUS treaty all the advantage is our way. This is an instrument by which we in Australia are able to call on the United States for a good measure of our own security. Both of these things are intimately bound up in the proposals we are talking about this afternoon. Does anybody forget that we were involved in two wars in Europe? We had an interest then, ls our interest in Europe any less now? Should we not be grateful to the United States for so heavily underwriting NATO? Are we no longer interested in the outcome in Korea, where things are sizzling and where the United States stands in defence? Are we no longer interested in South East Asia, where the United States has deployed in the general area about 600,000 men and stands between Communism and control of the entire South East Asian peninsula? The honourable gentleman does not want to talk about these things.
If we in this country find ourselves in the position of being able to make some contribution to ease America’s burden in defending the free world and defending Australia under ANZUS, and refuse to do so, where do we stand in the future if, having refused this facility, we seek some guarantee from the United States in this particular situation? I submit firstly that we have an obligation to make a contribution to United States defence capability of the kind which I will come to in a moment, and no amount of words will deny that obligation. The honourable gentleman must consider carefully whether the people of this country will accept his frivolous summing up of the situation. Let me, if I must, again remind honourable members opposite of the terms of the ANZUS agreement - terms which appear in the preamble of all of these agreements. The honourable gentleman referred to the ANZUS agreement, article II of which reads:
In order more effectively to achieve the objective of this Treaty the parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self help and mutual aid. will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.
There, Sir, is the statement of our obligation under ANZUS and we can deny that obligation at our future peril.
The honourable gentleman has referred to a number of American installations that are on Australian soil. He talked about the North West Cape. Everyone knows quite clearly that this is a naval communications facility and nothing else. This station is reasonably easy to inspect because there is nothing tremendously secret about the station. What is secret is the traffic it carries. No amount of inspection would indicate the traffic and therefore this would not affect the security of the matters dealt with by that station.
The two stations to which the honourable member refers and about which he appears to have some complaint are Pine Gap and the proposed station at Woomera. Both these stations, as I have clearly indicated, are to work in the field of space and therefore are to be concerned with satellites, lt will be understood by anyone who has the kind of intelligence that heretofor I have always credited to the Leader of the Opposition that there is a great geographical component in the location of a station which is working with satellites.
If we are to deny co-operation with the United States in locating this facility in Australia the end product must be to degrade the United States defensive capability. The honourable gentleman does not argue about putting the station in Australia. He argues about the conditions which alone will make it worth while for the United States to put the station on Australian soil. T have disclosed to the House and to honourable members on a number of occasions what the station at Pine Gap is. It is now and always has been what I said it was - a defence space research facility. It is nothing more. But honourable members would not ask me to disclose the direction of its research. Do we disclose to our potential enemies in wartime or our potential enemies in so-called times of peace the performance of our defensive weapons, or the direction of our research?
The Government will not disclose the direction of the research that goes on at Pine Gap. I know that people constantly conjecture about Pine Gap as they are already conjecturing about the proposed station at Woomera. But the Government will not - and for very good reason - by recital, affirmation or denial disclose the purpose of these two stations beyond what I have already said.
Woomera, of course, is a communication facility. Communications, as anyone will know, can be applied in a number of contexts. Let me emphasise, and if I must, repeat, that it is the nature and purpose of the station at Woomera, as with the direction of research at Pine Gap, which constitute the essential military secret. If we are not to disclose an essential military secret and if we are not to destroy the confidential nature of this project it remains quite impossible to disclose the nature and purpose of the station. I do not believe for a moment that the people of this country will not trust the judgment of their Government and the good intentions of the United States in permitting a station of this kind to be established on Australian soil as our contribution to, first of all, our own defence and secondly the joint defence of the free world. I do not believe that the Australian people would want us to destroy the viability of one of these stations by disclosing to a potential enemy exactly what it is and inviting him to produce a counter for it.
Let the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), if he wishes, be completely and fully informed. I, and members of my Department who have a right to know, are completely informed as to what the proposal constitutes, as to what the functions of the stations are to be and about the techniques that will be employed. So let him not play round with the words given in facetious style at a Press conference. The honourable gentleman ought to know very well, as certainly he does, because I deny that he is unintelligent. He ought to know when I said that ‘It will contribute to the free world defence, but please do not ask me how’ it was simply because I would be embarrassed with a bunch of Press people to say ‘I am sorry, I cannot tell you’. Regardless of what the Opposition may say, we have always sought, within the bounds of reasonable security, to disclose what these matters are about to the Australian Press, to the Parliament and to the people.
– You must be able to do better than this.
– The honourable member will have his opportunity to speak later. The real fact is that we do retain this defensive obligation under the ANZUS Treaty. Advantages will accrue to Australia under this arrangement. We will have complete access to data coming from the station. Also, we will share in the use of the service of the station and we will have access to the modern technology which backs the station. Further, we will share in its operation. These are the conditions generally written into the whole of the arrangements we have with the United States about the establishment in Australia of facilities concerned with the space programme and certainly facilities in connection with defensive arrangements. These are not arrangements to be made lightly. They are not arrangements to be undervalued.
Once again, as in the case of the ANZUS agreement, the benefits, I assure the House, are all our way. Secrets involved in a project of this kind are of the very essence of the free world and of our own defence. Just as we do not give our enemies access to our intelligence, so we cannot afford to give to a potential enemy access to this kind of proposal. The Government has given sober and careful thought to all that is involved in a project of this kind. Having given sober consideration to it, we see no alternative in reason, in decency or in terms of mutual assistance under the terms of the ANZUS Pact other than that we should accept the United States proposal because we are full partners under the ANZUS Treaty. If the honourable gentleman is a little concerned about the defensive nature of this proposal - and I know this has been causing concern to someone - I deliberately sought a statement from the
United States Department of State on this matter. The answer is quite clear. The statement was made in the following terms: lt-
Meaning the joint project - cannot be used to initiate aggression and it threatens no-one. To the contrary, its function is to support collective self defense. Thus it is purely defensive.
The Leader of the Opposition demanded that we should not only disclose what this is all about to the Australian people but that we should warn them about the risks, and I think about the advantages. I have been at some pains to try to point out what 1 believe to be the very sizeable advantages that will be made to the defence and perhaps ultimately to the survival of this nation. It is one thing to look at the strategic situation at the moment from a point where there is no visible threat against this country’s security, but does anyone in this House, particularly honourable members on the Opposition side, believe that this situation could not change dramatically and for the worse at any time in the future?
The Government is looking into the future as well as at the present when it takes a move of this kind in co-operation with our ally for our own protection. Something has been said about these projects becoming a nuclear target. The honourable gentleman is quoting an old friend of mine, Mr E. H. Cox, O.B.E., of the Melbourne Herald’ who cheerfully lists 20 or 30 nuclear targets. But does anyone in his right senses really believe that any individual target in Australia would be singled out for nuclear attack in anything short of a global nuclear war? Under those conditions the future is so horrendous that an attack of this kind really would not be noticed. Of course it is quite true that at a time like this every installation in the major cities of this country would also be under nuclear attack. I can visualise in these circumstances no reason why this station would be singled out for nuclear attack. This is the immediate risk. Are we in this country so irresponsible and so unmindful of our future that we are to be bluffed out of taking reasonable defensive measures for our own future security because someone has the quaint idea that something might become a nuclear target.
I point out in the concluding stages of my speech that this is of the very essence of Australia’s defensive arrangements for the future. We have our obligations under ANZUS. We would disclose the nature and functions of the station if thereby we did not completely destroy it. In closing, I point out to the Leader of the Opposition that if the Opposition wants to force these conditions on the United States, it is tantamount to saying: ‘We reject your proposal.’ If the Opposition wants to reject a proposal of this kind, it must have some thought as to what it will do about the destruction of ANZUS and the ruination of the security which ANZUS brings to this country, and it had better start putting down some other credible defence proposals in the absence of United States assistance for Australia.
– The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) commenced his speech by saying that the subject we arc discussing is a matter of national importance which involves the question of the defence of the free world. The Opposition does not dispute the contention that it is a matter of national importance. Indeed, we accept this proposition. That is why this afternoon we have proposed that a full and frank discussion take place regarding this matter. But there is an obligation not only on the Minister but also on the Government to make the facts known to the Parliament and to the people of Australia. It is not good enough for the Minister merely to suggest that this matter involves the question of our alliance with the United States of America. The Government also has a responsibility towards the Australian people.
This afternoon the Minister has said nothing that adds to what he had to say at his famous Press conference last week. The Opposition brings before the House today a matter of very grave public significance - Australia’s role in the nuclear age. It is an issue which has been deliberately suppressed and evaded by the Government which has never attempted to outline a rational and coherent strategy for this country in the era of nuclear deterrence. Australia has been a potential nuclear target for some 6 or 7 years. The establishment of the United States naval communication station at North West Cape assured this. When this station was established the Australian Government accepted Australia’s entry to the international system of deterrence which operates today and which will operate in the foreseeable future. This commitment has been intensified by the establishment of subsequent defence facilities on the Australian mainland. However, these new facilities have not changed the basic fact that Australia became a factor in the international balance of power when the station at North West Cape was established.
At the time, the North West Cape station was justified under the ANZUS treaty, lt might once have been possible to justify ANZUS on the basis of conventional weapons. This is no longer possible, because now nuclear weapons cannot be separated from conventional weapons in such an alliance. If wc accept the ANZUS treaty - and the Australian Labor Party has always accepted it - it is not possible to dissociate Australia from the risks of nuclear war. It is in this context that the new facility at Woomera which was announced by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) last week must be considered. This facility was announced in a most extraordinary fashion. The Prime Minister gave the barest of details to the Parliament. These details were not amplified to any extent by the Press conference of the Minister for Defence, and they have not been amplified by the speech which the Minister made this afternoon.
What has this remarkable secrecy of the Government been used to conceal? it seems that the Government is deliberately determined lo foster speculation about the role of the Woomera facility. After the Prime Ministers announcement, one interpretation of the nature of the Woomera installation appeared in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ in an article by that journal’s defence writer. This interpretation has not been denied by the Government and, as far as I can discover from independent sources available to me, it gives a reasonable account of what the Government could intend for Woomera. Briefly, this is the use of the joint facility for a system of communication between units iri the field, using communication satellite networks. This sort of tactical communication would make it possible for units on land to contact ships at sea or other units 100 or 200 miles away. The benefits of such communication by satellite are obvious, and they would be of significant value to Australia’s forces, particularly with the increasing integration of the Services.
If this is what is intended for the facility, it would not seem to differ greatly from the research programme which has been undertaken at Woomera since its foundation by the Chifley Labor Government, lt could give appropriate stimulus to Woomera, which in the past has never been, but which possibly now is, in danger of running down, lt would also serve to give Australia access to technological knowhow, and in particular to aerospace technology. The arrangements for joint control and the retention of Australia sovereignly avoid the major objections which the Labor Party has always advanced towards the North West Cape radio station. If this is all the Government intends, it is impossible to understand the cloak and dagger atmosphere it has generated. The Government has only itself to blame if sinister overtones are attributed to the Woomera station. If something more is intended for Woomera - for example, the surveillance of satellite and missile systems - then it is the clear duty of the Government to outline the implications and dangers to the Australian people. The Government must initiate a national debate on what benefits and dangers will accrue to Australia from the presence of this facility at Woomera. It is completely irresponsible to stifle the sort of cool and rational assessment of Australia’s association with nuclear weapons that is required.
The doubts and anxieties about Government policy are. of course, intensified by the presence of the joint defence space research facility at Pine Gap. The Government has revealed nothing’ about Pine Gap, beyond the information that it is a joint facility for deep space research. This has led to a host of speculative stories about the nature and uses of this station. An article in the 21st April issue of the American journal “Newsweek’ states that Pine Gap may be used as a tracking station for United States military satellites. The article states further that Pine Gap has been the target of considerable Russian propaganda broadcasts and has made some Australians fear Pine Gap’s potential as a target for Soviet missiles. It seems that the Russians know more about what is going on at Pine Gap than do the people of this country. The Government has now imposed a complete prohibition on members of this
Parliament visiting Pine Gap. It has reinforced this absurdity with a ban on members of this Parliament going to the Woomera facility. There is not the slightest justification for this stringent secrecy, particularly as both bases will be open to American congressmen.
At bis Press conference last Thursday the Minister for Defence said that there were nuclear targets within Australia in the event of nuclear war. This opens up the Government’s complete irresponsibility in the area of civil defence. Civil defence authorities in Australia have made valiant efforts to publicise and plan for nuclear civil defence. They have been given only scanty funds from the defence budget. In view of what the Minister had to say last week at his Press conference, I believe it is important that the present very limited civil defence arrangements be reviewedand reassessed. This is particularly important with the growth of potential nuclear targets and the growth of the nuclear arms race. Such a review is an essential consequence of the Minister’s admission that Australia would have about half a dozen nuclear targets in the event of nuclear war. By consciously and deliberately making Australia a nuclear target, the Government has accepted the duty of protecting the people from nuclear attack. This must mean greater emphasis on civil defence.
In summary, the decision to establish the North West Cape base committed Australia to the era of nuclear war. The Government has never attempted to set out the policy implications of this momentous decision. Further, it has imposed a quite excessive curtain of secrecy on the operation of the Pine Gap facility and the new Woomera facility. This secrecy goes beyond the security restrictions of the United States where most defence research and development projects are announced in terms of functions, although technical detail may be withheld. Never at any stage has the Government described the broad functions of these projects and their implications for Australia. The significant defence decisions in the United States have always been accompanied by intensive analysis and public debate. The Australian Government has always acted to prevent any debate. It is essential that this extreme secrecy be lifted so that vital issues of nuclear warfare can be examined and assessed in this country.
– Order! The Deputy Leader’s time has expired.
– The united front has spoken; the short term unity ticket has been delivered. We have seen, in the past couple of days, the widely divergent views expressed by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) on the matter under discussion today and its implications. This is the primary reason why we saw the chicanery that occurred in the closing minutes of the statement last week. If one reads Hansard one sees that by leave the motion to take note of the paper was withdrawn.I refer also to art observer’s report in the ‘Australian’ - those of us who were here and witnessed what happened can corroborate it - which said:
But when it was made–
The article here was referring to the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) -
Mr Whitlam took no positive action. He just sat at his place, looking down at the desk in front of him.
Later the report stated:
Mr Whitlam said later that this was done without his agreement, but at the time he took no action - he remained staring at the desk in front of him. . . . There was a general air of puzzlement around the centre table, and slowly it was established that Mr Whitlam hadn’t wanted the opportunity for a debate on the statement. . . But those who witnessed it were completely dumbfounded at Mr Whitlam’s attitude, and at the way he left his deputy unaware of his thoughts.
The Government was not dumbfounded by this approach. We know how sensitive the Leader of the Opposition is to matters such as this. He does not talk with principle; he does not put forward his policy on this basis at all, but with expediency. This is why that approach was taken. The debate today occurs after a statement and a report by Mr Allan Barnes in yesterday’s ‘Age’ wherein he said:
Mr Whitlam is known to believe that the establishment of the base, as announced last Wednesday by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), is not in. conflict with the Labor platform. . . .
The article goes on to state:
Dr Cairns said last night that he believed the new installation at Woomera did not come within the terms of the ALP platform.
The Leader of the Opposition says it is not in conflict with Labor’s platform; the honourable member for Yarra says it is in direct conflict. There is a difference between the two.
– They cannot get approval or general acceptance.
– That is so, as in 1963 with the North West Cape project. It is reminiscent of the chicanery associated with Labor’s attitude at that period of time. Let us refer to the closing stages of the debate on the Bill that was introduced in 1963. The then Minister for External Affairs said:
The Australian Labor Party has made up its mind from the word go. I submit it does not want the base. It has undertaken all sorts of manoeuvres in order to fool the populace.
How similar that is to what is happening today and the manoeuvres that are now taking place! One day there is no debate; on another day there is a debate. In what a devious manner this is done! The Minister continued:
It has gone through all the emotional and hysterical moves possible, but all has been to no point. When one comes to analyse the situation, everything comes down to this amendment, which represents a vote against the base and not merely against the Bill.
How apt is that statement today.
I turn now to the vital matter of the American alliance. The Opposition would deny us the advantage of the American intelligence and weapons system. This is obvious from the manner in which the matter has been discussed not only today but over the past 4 days. By adopting the Government’s view we obtain the protection necessary; by adopting the Opposition’s attitude we would have little or no protection from nuclear attack. There is, of course, a price to pay. An alliance is a twoway agreement. We provide facilities such as Woomera, Pine Gap and North West Cape.
– What about the nuclear nonproliferation treaty?
– It is all very well for the honourable member for Reid to interject on the matter of the American alliance.
– What about-
– Order! The honourable member for Reid will have his opportunity to speak later this afternoon.
– We all know that, in relation to the American alliance, the honourable member for Reid is merely rearranging his prejudices. This is the sum total of his contribution on matters of this nature. As 1 was saying, there is a price to pay for an alliance, and the price we pay takes the form of the facilities provided at Woomera, Pine Gap and North West Cape. But what would be the result of not paying this price? That is the critical consideration. The major fear, if one can take cognisance of what has been said over the past few days and not merely this afternoon, seems to be that it could provoke retaliation against Australia in a major war. This was the point made by Dr T. B. Millar in his book Australia’s Defence’ when he was discussing the establishment at North West Cape. He wrote:
And if the station at North West Cape makes Australia so much the more a nuclear target, it also makes her so much the more a producer of security, a contributor to the credibility of a deterrent aimed at and so far apparently successful in preventing a nuclear war from the beginning.
Later, in discussing the sort of argument that I imagine the honourable member for Yarra will produce, he wrote:
To follow this argument to as conclusion would be to say that there is no point in defending anything.
We recognise that there can be no complete guarantee of American protection at any time, no matter how much we spend on our own defence. However, there is little or no likelihood that we would receive it if we did nothing for ourselves or gave nothing in return. This is the issue, and this is the question that the Opposition is not prepared to face. If we are to face a threat in the future, as is possible, only America has the capacity and the expressed intention of protecting us. If we do not face a threat - as the Opposition tells us - then we lose nothing through an alliance with America. But the Opposition is too inconsistent to agree with that.
We seek peace, but not at the cost of our own security. As the late President Kennedy said, the cost of freedom is always high. This
Government does not want peace at the expense of freedom. We want peace and freedom. However, the Opposition would abandon our defence actions because its members dislike and cower before the imperfect world in which we live. It is a matter of tragedy that the party that forms the Opposition - the alternative government of the nation - should have a defence policy of the nature that it has. Speaking as a lawyer, one is apt to recall that one is frequently requested to look for loopholes in a contract. In the Labor Parly’s so-called defence policy it is not a question of finding loopholes in the contract: ft is a question of finding the contract in the loopholes. I think that aptly sums up the remarks that have been put forward by both the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard).
I refer now to a report by Mr David Solomon in the ‘Australian’ of 28th April. He indicates in his article that the Russians will know, but the Parliament will not know, about Woomera. He talks about registration at the United Nations and how much information will be made available. I have respect for the writings of this gentleman; I read them regularly. But obviously no research was carried out on this matter at all. Those of us who watch closely the actions and activities of the United Nations, and those of us who have participated in various aspects of that body, realise that to register an agreement is not to set out the specific terms, functions and activities associated with whatever is contained in that agreement. Normally it is the registration of a title and maybe the preamble. As far as I am aware - my own knowledge and research should substantiate this statement - probably no more than, if as much as, the Prime Minister has already indicated to the Parliament will be put to the United Nations. It is farcical to see the length to which this writer went on that occasion and it is a matter for regret.
In the latter part of his speech the Deputy Leader of the Opposition raised the question of articles that appear in United States magazines and the information that is contained in them. We are used to conjecture being contained in articles in our own magazines and our own newspapers. Should the Minister be compelled to affirm or deny anything that is published in over seas magazines and to give away our security arrangements? Of course he should not. The whole question of this arrangement is a question of security and full discussion of matters of security ipso facto means that they are no longer matters of security. They are open to the public for full discussion. Where is the benefit of the security to us in a situation such as that?
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– In this debate it is the Government that is on trial. The honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) in endeavouring to divert the issue wants to make it appear as though the Opposition is on trial. Far too frequently that is the political technique that honourable members on the other side of the House choose. The Government is on trial and in this debate we have the opportunity, a rare enough one, to deal with the implications and consequences of the Government’s policy. It is wise to realise when we talk about secrecy that the enemy does not need to read United Nations documents, the Soviet Union does not need to study American magazines, to find out what North West Cape or Pine Gap will do. Any nation with advanced missile and nuclear technology, such as the Soviet Union has, knows exactly what North West Cape and Pine Gap can do because it has the same kind of stations. So let us brush aside this humbug that seems to hang like an aura over honourable members on the Government side, giving them an enormous respectability.
Any nation with advanced technology knows exactly what the other nation is doing. It is not a question of technical secrecy with which we are concerned in this debate; it is a question of the general purpose to which these bases are being put. I want to submit to the House in this debate that the communication stations already established in Australia or to be established, like North West Cape, Pine Gap, Woomera and perhaps the Omega system and others, mean that Australia will be attacked by nuclear weapons in the event of world war. The essential military or technical secret to do with these bases is not what we are criticising the Government for trying to keep secret, despite the fact that the Soviet Union, being an advanced technological nation, will know of these things. We are attacking the Government for introducing this system into Australia by stealth. We are attacking the Government for introducing this system into Australia without telling the Australian Parliament and the Australian people exactly why it is doing so and that these bases place Australia in the front line of nuclear war, and this is what the Government has not disclosed. We are not concerned with military secrets; we are concerned with the general purpose of this system.
The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) admitted this significant aspect at his Press conference of 23rd April - just last week. Let us look at what he said. At the bottom of page 7 of the transcript the following passage appears:
So this is an admission that Woomera and North West Cape in the event of nuclear war - how could anything be a nuclear target unless there was a nuclear war? - could become nuclear targets. Does the Minister admit this? Does he deny that he admitted it? Of course not. He is silent. This is the first time in the history of this nation that a responsible Minister has made this admission. These stations and similar ones are nuclear targets. Why? That is because of their significance in the nuclear missile system. They are part of the American nuclear missile system. They are not like power houses or the Minister’s office. He may be a nuclear target because of his importance, but these stations are nuclear targets because they are part of the American nuclear missile system.
– I said it was conjecture.
– Then let us debate the conjecture. These stations, I submit, are part of that system. In answer to the Minister’s interjection I invite him to look at North West Cape. We know that North West Cape is a radio communication station for communication with submarines in the
Indian Ocean carrying Polaris or Poseidon missiles. We know that the commanders of those submarines cannot give the order to fire. We know that the President of the United States is the only man who can. How can he convey the order to the commander of a submarine? Through a radio signal. How does the radio signal get there? Through North West Cape. This means that an enemy who wants to stop that signal from being sent will plan to drop a missile on that station at the very earliest moment. Is that not a part of the nuclear system? Again the Minister is silent.
My argument is that the significance of this is that these stations have become part of the American nuclear system, which I think the Minister now admits by his silence. This means that Australia may well become a target when otherwise Australia would not be a target. It means that Australia will be made a target as a result of the Government’s inclusion of Australia in this nuclear missile system. That is the gist of this debate. That is what the Government has been secret about. That is what it has been deceiving Australia about and that is why we raised this matter of public importance.
The significance of North West Cape, of Woomera, of Pine Gap and the others is that, unlike power stations, they are used directly in the nuclear missile system, as I have illustrated in the case of North West Cape. They cause nuclear attack when otherwise it might not come. All of them have mixed functions and I would be quite happy to debate those mixed functions with the Minister at any time. But as a result of the obvious nuclear missile use that I have just outlined, Australia is now that sort of target. What are the consequences and implications of this? The matter we have raised refers to them. The first consequence is that the Government has made Australia a nuclear target by stealth. It has given no word to the people, very often has given denials, has said nothing until 23rd April. The Minister probably made a slip at that Press conference, because on that very day I had a reply to a question on notice. The answer I received was a plain no, they did not involve Australia in nuclear attack. That was the considered position of the Department. But the Minister did not have a very good day on that day, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) showed, and he probably made a slip.
The first consequence is that the stealth and secretiveness over the introduction of this system without telling the Parliament and the Australian people has now at long last come to an end. This deception, this subversive role of the Government has been exposed, lt was satisfied to do all this because it thought it could put anything over; but Australia is now officially known to be the subject of nuclear attack. The second consequence is that the Australian Government and the Australian people have no longer any option as to whether we will come into a nuclear war. We have lost the power to decide whether we will become involved in nuclear war. That decision lies with the United States, with the Soviet Union or with China. Australia’s basic sovereignty has finally gone. The Government has given that away in so fully adopting this system. If it wants to do that, why does it not put the proposition before the people? Why not allow a debate on it? Why has it not told us of this? Does it lack confidence in its case? Why has the Government not given the Australian people the chance to know? Does it say that they know? Of course they do not know. lt has not been debated. In America these things have been put before the people. Congressional committees, the Senate and the House of Representatives have debated them, but that has not been done here. This is going all the way with foreign powers wilh u vengeance.
I have only 10 minutes, and I want to conclude on the point that Australia has on her soil vital pieces of mechanism of the United States nuclear missile system which differ radically from power houses or the like, and they are, on the admission of the Minister for Defence, likely targets for nuclear attack. But they are totally unprotected. In America similar bases have an efficient and highly costly anti-ballistic missile system around them, but not here. What does this mean? Does it mean that they will not be defended? If they are to be defended, who will pay the cost? Where is the ABM system coming from? Where is the money coming from if Australia has to provide it? Have any discussions been had with the United States about what that country is to do? The Government has put Australia out on the end of a limb. Australia has been put in the front line of nuclear war, and the Government has made no provision whatever to defend the bases which do that. This is the ultimate of irresponsibility in the record of Australian governments. No, it is not the Opposition that is on trial in this matter; it is the Government of Australia that is on trial. I hope that the people of Australia will demand answers to all these unanswered questions.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) deplored the security measures that the Government has instituted at Pine Gap and which it will institute at Woomera. He says that this security provision is irresponsible. The honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) has said that Australia is in the forefront of a nuclear war and that it has been put there by the Government. If nuclear weapons were to be fired, there are many places that would be attacked before these places in Australia. These establishments are research stations. They are not to be used in an aggressive way, despite the fact that the Opposition is trying to prove that that is their purpose. In speaking to this motion 1 point out that there is close co-operation between the United States and Australia in the construction of both the project at Laura Creek near Alice Springs, which is referred to as Pine Gap, and the project at Woomera. We have joined with the United States in the defence of the free nations around the world. I heard the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) say that this afternoon, and nothing could be truer. We are one of the free nations. We are interested in the defence of the free nations. lt wo u I’d appear that the Opposition is not.
– Whom are you defending?
– We are interested in defence at this level of the free world. We are associated wilh the United States in the ANZUS Treaty. The Americans have helped to build this base at Laura Creek, which is near my home town of Alice Springs.
– You do not think much of your women and children.
– All my children have been born and bred there. I spoke to the local member for Alice Springs on the telephone this morning. He said that none of the people in Alice Springs are worried about the base being there. There is no problem at all about the Laura Creek base. That is what he told me on the phone today. I am discussing the base at Laura Creek in particular because, as I say, it is in my home country. I live there; the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) lives a thousand miles away so I ask him to keep quiet. We do not discuss the performance of our aircraft, ships and radar. Why should we discuss the performance of a base like this? It is there to help us defend our country and our way of life Apparently the Opposition wants to defend some other way of life. The way of life it wants to declare is fairly obvious from what took place here last Wednesday afternoon. We do not want to shatter this security. We cannot do it.
The Americans have built this base at Laura Creek. When they first looked at the map, they saw 900 miles of railway and a quiet spot in between the hills in the Macdonnell Ranges. They said that this place should be secure, free from electrical interference and a first class location for a defence research facility, which is what it is. That is why it is at Alice Springs. The people of the town have benefited from its being there, despite the fact that at the time it was announced that it would be built a former Labor member of the Northern Territory Council made the fantastic statement that this base would bring Chinese rockets. He named where the rockets would come from. I suppose he had information from his mates, like some of the people here. He said that this base would draw Chinese rockets, to which I replied that there would be rockets falling on a lot of other places in Australia when they were falling on Laura Creek. My reply was shockingly misquoted by the then Labor Press. 1 was quoted as saying that it did not matter anyhow; that rockets would be falling everywhere. I want to let honourable members know that there is great co-operation in central Australia concerning, this base. Woomera is an obvious place to have a base. We must have security. I do not think that honourable members opposite or many honourable members on this side either would understand what they saw if they went to Laura Creek or through the base which will be built at Woomera. They would not know what it was all about, so why do honourable members opposite want to go there? They want to make political capital out of this, as did the former Labor member of the Council when they first started to build the base at Laura Creek. The development of the base has led to good things for Alice Springs, including quite a lot of new houses. New schools have been built. There is co-operation between the Americans and the Australians to a great extent in thcentre. So why keep on demanding that the information be given to the public? The approach of the Australian Labor Party is that everyone has to know the speed and range of all the defence armoury and all the hardware to do with the Air Force and the Navy; the Opposition must be free to discuss it in this place and it must be open to the Press. What is the point of having any security or any performance? Why do not honourable members opposite just write to the people who are opposed to their political views and say: “This is what we will do. If we go to war we have something that will travel at 200 knots under the sea’? Why do they not do that? It is exactly the same approach. The Americans expect us to cooperate with them, and we have to be with them in these projects. We cannot disclose their thinking in the matter. So to allow the places to be opened up to a whole lot of people who would not understand anyhow is completely and utterly ridiculous.
I say to you again, Mr Deputy Speaker, that the Opposition is demanding entry into these facilities purely for political purposes. I think that these facilities are helping us and that the Government has taken a step in the right direction. The Americans are with us. They are bearing the major part of the expense of these bases, and it is up to us to support them and to see that we help ourselves. The honourable member for Yarra said that it had put us in the forefront of a nuclear war. The more often people talk like that the more often we will be in the forefront. I do not know whether Opposition members want us to be in the forefront but, by the sound of them, they do. I support the statement made by the
Prime Minister. 1 only hope that the Opposition will see the error of its ways anil will support this proposal and not go against it the way that it did in the case of the North West Cape installation. That is all that I have to say on the matter.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, in a 141-word statement last Wednesday afternoon, the Prime Mini.ter (Mr Gorton) forged another link in the defence alliance between Australia and the United States of America - a link that perhaps will take us now into the American anti-ballistic missile system, lt is well recognised and has been stated on a number of occasions by Heads of State in the United States that the United States has developed an anti-ballistic missile system. As short a time ago as 21st April of this year, in an address to the annual luncheon of the Associated Press Editors of the United States of America, the Secretary of State, Mr William P. Rogers, said:
We would very much have preferred to avoid spending money on an anti-ballistic missile system but our analysis of Soviet forces and developing Chinese capability convinced us that this decision could not be postponed.
Mr Rogers went on to say:
We believe that with the safeguard system we re proceeding in a restrained and nonprovocative way - to meet our minimum security needs. We have deliberately built into this decision an annual review appraisal in which one of the principal factors will be the status of talks on the limitation of strategic arms.
So, at least, the Heads of State in the United States are much more open with the American people than are the Heads of State in Australia. The United States makes no secret of its efforts in the establishment of an anti-ballistic missile system, lt is reasonable to assume, with the Woomera, Pine Gap and the North West Cape installations, that if we are not already a part of that anti-ballistic missile system we readily can become a part of that antiballistic missile system.
In 141 words to this Parliament and to the Australian people, the Prime Minister gave us only two points of specific information. One was that the station would operate by 1970. There would be between 230 and 300 personnel in the joint staff. He admitted further that the United States had initiated the discussions on the proposals. There we have evidence that it was the United States that wanted to use our territory and our land in order that that might become part of its defence system. In the rest of his 141 -word statement, the Prime Minister made a usual typically vague statement when he said:
The construction of the station will be an important contribution to the defence of all free nations.
The Prime Minister did not attempt - neither did the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) in his Press conference shortly after the Prime Minister’s statement - to outline exactly how this station will contribute to the defence of all free nations.
The Australian Labor Party makes no complaint about the alliance between the United States of America and Australia. lt never has done so. But we do object to the attitude that is adopted by this Government and which allows Australia to appear to be treated as a very junior partner in any agreement between the United States and Australia. With these 141 words and with the conference that was held by the Minister for Defence in which no substantiation was given of any of the statements made by the Prime Minister, we find that no further information has been given to the Australian people. We are all expected to accept with absolute and utter faith the words of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence. This is not good enough. Both Ministers have made more than enough mistakes in judgment in the recent past. The Opposition is entitled to ask on behalf of the people and the mass media for a far fuller explanation of the purposes and consequences not only of this station but of all joint defence installations and facilities. The Opposition does not question the need for the Australian-American alliance, but it does question whether Australia is being treated as an equal partner. We want to know whether all the consequences of the establishment of the station have been openly and honestly explained to the Government.
In his speech earlier this afternoon, the Minister for Defence said that he and certain of his Departmental officers knew about this station and its purpose. If they know about exactly what is going to happen, why do we not get some extra information than has been given already? Is it true to assert that this station is or can be part of the anti-ballistic missile system that has been established and is being developed by the United States? Are the Government and particularly the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence entirely satisfied that all of Australia’s interests are safeguarded in the agreement which has been entered into. The arrogant manner in which the statement was made and the failure of the Minister for Defence to give any further information leave room for grave doubts in the minds of many people in the community. These fears and doubts are not groundless when an examination of the attitude of the Government on other matters of public moment is made. The credibility of the Government has been shown to be suspect on several matters in the past 3 years.
In the case of the purchase of the twentyfour Fill aircraft, the honesty of several Ministers has been shattered. The Minister for Defence took delivery of the first aircraft last year when he knew at the time of taking delivery that a new fault in the structure of the plane had been found. Only portion of the papers relating to the agreement to purchase these aircraft was tabled after the Opposition by strenuous efforts had forced the tabling of them. The debate on the use of the VIP aircraft showed up two or three deliberate - and I use the softest word - mis-statements on the part of Ministers. The two debates and the two royal commissions on the ‘Voyager’ disaster again demonstrated a lack of honesty and some very doubtful manoeuvres on the part of the Government. Agreements entered into with overseas controlled companies for the development of our coal, iron ore and oil resources also have left room for suspicion. Many people in a position to know have grave doubts whether the prices that we are obtaining for these precious resources are the best that Australia could negotiate. ls it any wonder that many newspaper editors and journalists are complaining about the lack of information which is being given about the Woomera station? It is an affront to the Parliament and the Opposition to be told that no members of Parliament except Ministers concerned will be allowed to inspect either the Pine Gap station or the new Woomera station. It seems to have been overlooked by the backbench members of the Government parties that it is not only members of the Opposition who are placed under this blanket ban. Members of the Government parties are covered, too. But they have become so used to being given no information on important matters by Cabinet and the Ministry that it takes a week or two for the significance of many announcements to sink in. They may accept the insult on this occasion as all their ideals on liberty, free speech and democracy fly through the door as soon as the AustralianAmerican alliance or Communism are mentioned.
The slogan of the Holt Government was: All the way with LBJ’ and unless fuller information is given to the Parliament and to the people on our joint agreements with the United States under the Gorton Government the slogan is likely to be: ‘Let us have a fix with Nix’. Other speakers from the Government side will take part in this debate. But the tenor of the argument by the Government has been set already. Government members will accuse the Opposition of being anti-American and pro-Communist. If honourable members opposite look at a few of the newspaper editorials in the last few days they will find that papers like the ‘Australian Financial Review’, the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ and the ‘Australian’ have said that the Government is treating this matter with scant consideration for the interests of Australia, the Parliament and the Australian people. The editorial in the Australian Financial Review’ of 28th April 1969 states:
The first thing Mr Gorton and his Government should recognise about the latest secret agreement wilh the United States for the establishment of a secret American defence installation on Australian soil is that this is not 1963 and that the conditions which made the North West Cape agreement politically attractive might not apply today.
In the ‘Australian’ of 26th April 1969 Mr Duffield commenced an article by saying:
You don’t have to be a left activist not to like it.
This applies to the Australian Labor Party. We do not like it because we no longer trust the Government. We no longer trust the Prime Minister or the Minister for Defence.
– Order! The honourable members time has expired.
– The honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) is to be congratulated upon his first speech made from the Opposition front bench. Having risen to this position, the honourable member will now have to speak on many more issues than be has been wont to in the past and will have to declare his own attitude on matters on which he has not been required to in the past. His effort this afternoon is probably the first display of the mantle he is now wearing. It might be my imagination, but I think Hansard will show that the reasons which the honourable member gave for doubting the legitimacy of the Government’s programme were much more similar to those put forward by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) than those presented by the speakers who preceded him. The honourable member for Lang was more concerned with the American worldwide nuclear system than the so-called stealth associated with the proposed base. I hope that this confluence of interest is a passing phase and that it will nol be a continuing characteristic of the honourable member for Lang while he is on the Opposition front bench.
We have heard this afternoon a number of reasons as to why the Opposition is unhappy about the Government”* statement. Lcl us forget about the 141 words; let us forget the frills. Let us look at the substance of the reasons for disliking the statement. There are two reasons. In the first place the Opposition dislikes the degree of secrecy surrounding this important space communications base. The second reason, which was aptly put by the honourable member for Yarra, is that the establishment of such a base will place Australia within the American worldwide nuclear system. Let us see whether these reasons are legitimate. Why should we worry about stealth? Why should we worry about secrecy? The honourable member for Yarra made this incredible statement: ‘Any nation with advanced technology knows what the others are doing’. They are his own words. In the years after the Second World War when the Russians were exceedingly keen to find out the atomic secrets of the West they used people such as the Rosenbergs, Fuchs, Nunn-May and Pontecorvo.. This is- an example of the fact that in our own recent history advanced technological nations were not aware of what their opponents in the free world were doing. Various means were employed to find out those secrets, and unhappily on those occasions they succeeded.
The lesson for Australia is a simple one. If we have an important base, if there is an important installation, it should not be such as to attract the maximum publicity, lt ought to be established knowing that there must be as full integration as possible between the nations concerned. The secrets which repose in this nation by virtue of its participation in the base at Woomera ought to repose in this nation and in no other nation. To accuse this Government of stealth in this matter is to accuse it of what amounts to a virtue in the administration of the base.
The second reason advanced by the Labor Party for its attitude is that such a base will place Australia within the American nuclear system. It is strange that gentlemen who since the 1955 Hobart convention of the Labor Party have taken every opportunity to affirm their devotion to the American alliance should, when there is an American interest in freedom throughout the world, take the opportunity to denigrate that interest. These gentlemen have done it once again with accusations about the American worldwide nuclear system. Reasons have been found to denigrate and to nullify the significance of every strategic decision which Australia has made in the last 12 or 13 years. Is it necessary to go through the reasons?
We all are aware of what happened with respect to Malaysia in 1955, and again in 1963 and 1969. A whole host of reasons, such as the absence of a clear treaty and the absence of a clear enemy, have been advanced for Labor’s attitude to the Government’s policy in relation to Malaysia. The substance of all the objections was to oppose the decision in total. Let us recall Labor’s decision wilh respect to the war in Vietnam and the use of troops there. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) said he was not opposed to the war in Vietnam but merely to the types of troops that were despatched there, if the Government were to satisfy that objection, the result would be that there would be no strategic decision at all. The 1963 decision in relation to the North West Cape communication station bears very close similarity to the decision made with respect to the base at Woomera. What were the reasons put forward by the Leader of the Opposition, who is in the House now, for opposing the setting up of the North West Cape communication station? They were twofold - the lack of control by Australia over the base and the fact that there was not a clear threat in this part of the world at that time. In a speech made on 21st May 1963 the Leader of the Opposition said:
The station is not necessary to cope with China, because China does not have nuclear weapons yet, although it may in the next year or so. Still less does China have a means of delivering nuclear weapons.
Those words were rendered null and void within a year or two. He said later on in the same speech that it would seem that joint control of the station would have to be at the political level for such a decision to attract, support. What an incredible situation. He said in effect: ‘I am not merely opposed to the North West Cape communication station. I am opposed to it only because China is not an identifiable enemy at this time and because there is not sufficient joint political control at the decision making level.’ These reasons, if adopted, would have effectively emasculated what was and what is proving to be a very important strategic part of Australia’s armoury, especially in the Indian Ocean.
This Government has made the decision because it has a certain strategic view of Asia, that is, that other great nations have expansionist policies in this part of the world. We know that the Russian admiral, Gorzchov, has a clear policy with respect to the Russian Navy, not only in the Mediterranean but also in the Indian Ocean. The Russians have expanded their fleet in the Indian Ocean. It was not our choice to be part of the nuclear world but we live in it and we have come to terms with it. The base at Woomera will be part of coming to terms with the reality of the world in which we happen to live.
Let us have a look at Communist China, the China which furnished the Australian Labor Party’s excuse for opposing the North West Cape centre in 1963. China now has all kinds of nuclear weapons. It will have this year the capacity to make its own inter continental ballistic missiles. These missiles will presumably be test fired in the Pacific Ocean area and such test firing will have a tremendous effect on the politics of the various nations of the Pacific region, including Australia. The Leader of the Opposition has consistently chosen to ignore the world in which we live. He has chosen not to come to terms with it but to live in a world of make-believe. He has proposed policies which, if implemented, would have effectively emasculated the bases to which this Government is giving support.
There are three questions that the Opposition has to answer with respect to the proposed base. Firstly, does it support the establishment of the base itself? Secondly, does it concede the strategic necessity for this base - which, concession, of course, would contradict the contention of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) that Australia’s strategic frontiers go no further than its own natural boundaries. The third question is quite a simple one: Does the Opposition accept the proposition that in order for the base to function effectively the information to be obtained from it must be quickly appreciated and unhindered in its application? Only when the Opposition can give satisfactory answers to each of these questions can it legitimately claim to be a loyal Opposition.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– As the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) has so wisely stated, there are two issues before us at this stage, one dealing with the security and the secrecy of the base which is due to be set up at Woomera and the other base at Pine Gap, and the other dealing with the wider implications of nuclear targets in Australia. Dealing with the need for secrecy and security at these two facilities, we must remember, first of all, that a request has been made of our Government by the Government of the United States, which has said: ‘We desire to erect this facility in Australia. It is the place most suitable for such a facility, in our opinion, and we ask you, in the terms of the ANZUS pact, to co-operate with us in setting up this facility and meeting our requests in this matter.’
The first question we have to ask ourselves is: ‘Do we honour our part of the ANZUS pact or do we say that we will not co-operate?’ The second point is that the United States Government says that there are items in these bases the secrecy of which needs to be preserved. As the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) said earlier, there arc research programmes going on at Pine Gap. This obviously indicates that there are programmes of research being carried out which are at the limits of knowledge in fields in which the Americans arc clearly in front of their competitors and therefore need security and secrecy. Are we to say now that we will not co-operate or that we shall co-operate only in part? Surely if we are asked to honour the ANZUS agreement with our allies we should say either: ‘Yes. we will co-operate and we will co-operate fully’, or: ‘No, we will have no part of it’. Surely there can be no half measures.
In addition, as has been made quite clear by the Minister for Defence, these bases are defensive installations which will be helpful to Australia. They are adding to our technical knowledge and those people who have a need to know what is going on have obtained and will obtain the knowledge that is required. The locations are ideal for this sort of activity. We are asked as friends and allies to play our part. We either say yes and co-operate fully, which means that we go ahead to ensure security, or we do nothing at all other than to say: ‘No, wc will have no part of it’. We cannot go half way.
What has the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) said? He said there will be conjectures. Of course, there will be conjectures in all the technical magazines both here and in the United States, but do we have to follow every hare that is started by these magazines and deny each speculation, so gradually eliminating all the alternatives, possibilities and eventually disclosing what is actually taking place? Do we necessarily have to agree with what the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) has said, that the Russians already know what is going on? If the research that is being undertaken is at the ultimate limit of knowledge I take issue with him and say that it is most unlikely that the Russians know what is going on. The question therefore is: Should we overdo security or should we degrade security? If we are asked to ensure security surely it is our bounden duly to see that we maintain the degree of security that is requested.
Those are the matters dealing with the security of the base. But wider issues were pointed out very clearly by the honourable member for Yarra. These issues deal with the old question of American bases on Australian soil and take us back once again to the issues that we faced in 1963 when the North West Cape station was being debated in the House. If we take our minds back to those debates that took place in May 1963 we remember what a divergence of opinion there was amongst the Opposition at that time. People like the former member for Kingston, Mr Galvin, said quite clearly that the Opposition realised that the installation of a base at North West Cape was necessary in the interests of Australia. The official Australian Labor Party federal conference decision affirmed that there should be a base but that no government other than the Australian Government should be given jurisdiction over any part thereof, whether for defence or for any other purpose. The conference sat on the fence, but the honourable member lor Yarra did not sit on the fence. When addressing the students at Monash University in Melbourne he said quite clearly as reported in the ‘News Weekly’ of 20th March 1963:
The forthcoming Federal Conference would endorse the Federal Executive’s October 1962 recommendation - support for a nuclear free /one and opposition to American bases - so thai we could tell the Yanks to go home.
He said it once again, by implication, in his speech this afternoon. We had an election on this issue in 1963. A gallop poll was conducted in May 1963 and 80c/r of the people interviewed said that they favoured the installation of the North West Cape radio station. Only 11% opposed it. If there were any doubts at the time the gallup poll disposed of them. The nation was behind what we were doing, and if it was behind what we were doing in 1963 it is still behind us today. There is surely no substantial difference between the North West Cape facility which was the subject of debate in 1963 and the installations at Pine Gap and Woomera. We made it quite clear that we fought the 1963 election on the issue. The people of Australia made it quite clear where they thought the Government should stand and that is where the Government does stand.
Despite all the frills and the red herrings that have been introduced into this argument, one main issue was stated clearly in 1963 and should be restated today: Do we believe that we should honour the ANZUS agreement and play our part when our friends ask us to stand up and be counted? Also, do we believe that our security is further endangered by the presence of these bases or do we realise that there is another side of the coin, that because they have facilities in Australia the Americans will be more likely to come to our aid in an emergency than they might be if those facilities were not here? Once again Australia is being asked to play its part in honouring the ANZUS agreement. We are honouring it today. We are carrying out requests made to us firstly regarding security or secrecy and secondly to provide the facilities that are required. In 1963 we realised that provision of the facility at North West Cape would enhance our security rather than degrade it. There can be no half measures. We on this side of the House claim that these facilities . are in the interest of Australia and of our allies and that in the kind of nuclear age into which we have entered it is necessary that we stand up and be counted. For years the Opposition has tried to sit on the fence. Some honourable members opposite have tried to have things both ways. Only the honourable member for Yarra has been courageous enough to state clearly where he stands - for complete isolationism and for telling the Yanks to go home.
– What utter rubbish.
-Order! The honourable member for Reid will cease interjecting.
– Will the honourable member
-Order! I warn the honourable member for Reid.
– It will be in Hansard now.
-Order! I remind the, honourable member for Reid that alt interjections are out of order. 1 understand that he is listed to speak later in the debate. The normal custom of this House is for a mem ber listed to participate later in a debate to refrain from interjecting when other honourable members are speaking.
– Let us make certain that at the elections later this year the people know where we stand.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Fawkner (Mr Howson) let the cat out of the bag: He will place every Australian on the nuclear target in order to preserve some electoral gimmickry. Government supporters are trying to create again the situation that existed in 1963. They do not give a darn about the people of Australia or their being placed on the nuclear target. I for one say that anybody who alienates the sovereignty of Australia over its own rights, its future and its soil is guilty of treachery. I believe that in accepting the conditions that seem to be implicit in the operation the subject of this debate the Government is betraying Australia and the trust that the people of Australia place in it.
What interests me is the apparent terror stricken attitude of people like the honourable member for Fawkner and the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). When 1 turn to the record I find that a quarter of a century ago the honourable member for Fawkner was a member of the Fleet Air Arm and was not afraid of anybody. He took up his aircraft and it did not matter whether the Messerschmitt was a few knots faster or could turn faster; he took it on. The honourable member for the Northern Territory is distinguished and decorated for his exploits in the air. During the war he was not afraid of anybody. But this afternoon, and constantly in debates such as this, we hear the honourable members and their colleagues talking of terror - of Australia’s great peril. They are frightened of somebody - always unnamed. As far as I am concerned this is the last exercise in political gimmickry.
Implicit in our attack on the Government is the demand that we should examine very carefully the reasons for this installation at Woomera and its possible consequences to Australia. It is interesting to note that honourable members opposite have avoided any consideration of the possible consequences to Australia. The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) and the honourable member for Fawkner were concerned only with the elections of 1963. There have been such great technical advances in recent years in methods of scrutiny and surveillance from satellites and by other forms of sensing devices - by the ultimate in photography and everything else - that apparently it is possible to keep every part of the planet under scrutiny. Apparently the proposed installation at Woomera will be part of the system for keeping under scrutiny Chinese and Russian installations. This is how we must view the establishment of the facility at Woomera. If we are correct we may consider the installation at Woomera as a trigger in any future operation. It must be in the sights of any potential enemy, whoever he may be. This is the undoubted consequence of placing these bases in Australia.
T do not believe that we should have foreign bases in Australia under foreign control, not answerable directly to Australia’s political control. I do not care who the allies are. I am sure that a number of us said these things long ago when we were debating the installation al North West Cape. If the honourable member for Fawkner was not listening at that time we can only be sorry for that. What are the possible consequences of establishing these installations? As the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) have pointed out, we are giving a blank cheque to American foreign policy. Is there anybody in this House or in Australia who would give a blank cheque to American foreign policy? What have been some of the exercises of American foreign policy in the last few years? We would not give a blank cheque to the foreign policy of this Government, and it would not give one to the foreign policy of a Labor government. You might say that this is the fundamental ethic of parliamentary democracy: Nobody gets blank cheques. Yet we are giving blank cheques to a foreign power. The Americans do not give blank cheques even to their own Government. They keep it under constant scrutiny. Congress keeps every operation of the American Government under constant scrutiny.
Would the honourable member for Fawkner give his imprimatur to the U2 spy flights of some years ago? Would he have given his approval to the Bay of Pigs exercise; to the invasion of the Dominican Republic; to the way the Americans handled the West Irian problem 6 or 7 years ago? Would he have given his approval to the operations of the ‘Pueblo’ and to the spy flights that are going on at present? Of course he would not, and most Americans would not. The great crime being perpetrated by this Government in the way it is handling these operations is in giving blank cheques to foreign policies over which we have no control. This Government is abdicating our position in the world. It is surrendering our sovereignty.
This afternoon the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) said that we refuse the American request at our future peril. Peril from whom - the Chinese or the Russians? Why would the Chinese or the Russians want to attack Australia? Would it bc to get our minerals? Of course not. Anybody can come and get them for 6d a ton. Would the Russians or the Chinese attack Australia because we are armed and on the march, bent on invading them? Of course not. The only time we will be brought into peril, in the near future anyhow, from the Chinese or Russians will be if we become part of the nuclear warfare system, and this is exactly what we are doing. Every Australian must be awakened to the fact that the Government’s action is a piece of political gimmickry. It is the last exercise in fear. In the hope of improving its chances at the elections the Government is prepared to place every Australian on the nuclear target. lt is time Australians woke up. We say that the essence of Australia’s sovereignty is to be able to control its destiny. We must have room to manoeuvre. We must be able to carry out all these operations. We must not give carteblanche or blank cheques to anybody, foreign or non-foreign, whether it be this Government or an alternative government, whether it be an American government or a British government. To do so is an abdication of the Australian spirit. Only a few days ago about 100,000 Australians marched to our various war memorials. In every community in Australia people talked about the Anzac spirit. If the Anzac spirit meant anything it meant self-reliance; standing on your own feet; standing for yourself and protecting the country against everybody. Yet this Government is prepared to surrender Australia in this way - at North West Cape, at Woomera and at Pine Gap. Each of those installations is part of the nuclear system.
What would honourable members opposite do if they were in charge of the Russian services? Would they not deploy their submarines in the Indian Ocean as soon as North West Cape was ready to operate? Of course they would. Probably one of the reasons why the Russians are apparently to operate so strongly in the Indian Ocean is to keep such installations on target. Does anybody doubt that as soon as this installation looks as if it is in business it will be in the sights of a nuclear submarine operating far away, or an inter-continental ballistic missile? What are the possible consequences of establishing these facilities in Australia? ls it not true that unless Australia can become an intermediary between the two great powers, at some stage of the operation the Russians might say to the Americans: *If you do this we will take out your installations in Australia’? I think take out’ is the current term for this kind of operation. Is it not possible that at some moment in history the Russians might say to the Australian Government: ‘Unless you destroy or immobilise those installations your major cities are the target’? Does any honourable member believe that an American government worth its salt would surrender American populations to nuclear warfare in order to protect Australian cities and Australian installations? Of course it would not. So I hope that this operation today is part of an eye opening process to the Australian people. I wish it were a little more eye opening for the people in this House.
As a final exercise we have the insult to the Parliament. The honourable member for Fawkner spoke before me. A few years back he was the Minister for Air. While he was Minister for Air he had some magic about him. He could be trusted. He could visit these installations. But now that he is a backbencher he has lost all his great honesty and sincerity and he cannot be trusted anymore. We can trust the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall). We can also trust the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson), I suppose. But we cannot trust anyone else. What utter nonsense. I am absolutely astonished that honourable members opposite who talk continuously of the protection of Parliament, the rights of Parliament and the integrity of Parliament sit down and take the implied insult from their own leaders that only the members of the Ministry are to be trusted. So, this afternoon, we are debating two or three things. Firstly, we are debating the right of the Australian Parliament to control its own destiny. Secondly, we are debating the right of Australia to be an equal partner. Would the American Government permit the Australian Government to establish an installation such as this in America? Thirdly, and possibly even more important in the long run than the others, we are debating the right of Parliament to keep under the closest possible scrutiny everything that affects the Australian people. Nothing could affect the Australian people more fundamentally or possibly more tragically than involvement in a nuclear war.
– -The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) tried very hard to make a good argument out of a seemingly impossible position. He is still living in the old days when he thinks of ideologies. I must acknowledge his ideals. I noticed, for instance, that he did not vote on a recent occasion and I acknowledge that he talks and acts on some occasions on principle. But it is no use the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) and the honourable member for Wills having these high ideals today when they talk as though we still had the option of a nuclear free situation in the southern hemisphere. Those days are not here; they are gone. I think it is about time some members of the Opposition put their feet on the ground. They should try to come back to earth. In a debate of this type there is no earthly use in trying to fragmentise or fractionalise arguments as to whether or not we believe in or intend to perform within the ambit of the ANZUS treaty. Honourable members opposite cannot have a bob each way on this.
Either we belong to the ANZUS treaty and look on it as a form of future protection for this country, or we do not.
The Opposition today is facing the almost impossible situation of attempting to fractionalise its argument. Honourable members opposite are trying to take bunks out of their thinking on this matter in order to debate this issue. They know it, the House knows it, and I hope the people of Australia can realise the unreal situation that this gives rise to. The honourable member for Wills spoke about the consequences of this action. He spoke about the technological advances of this day and age. He referred to the scrutiny of the world from satellites. He also spoke of sensers. I do not think he spoke about lasers although he may well have. In other words, the honourable member quoted to the House all the modern advances that represent changes from years ago. On the other hand, he denies, or seems to me to deny, Australia’s opportunity to participate in the same modern techniques. What will be the situation if this establishment, which is no different in principle from the establishment at Pine Gap, goes in at Woomera? As far as I can see the establishment is considerably less offensive in character than the installation at North West Cape, which is a matter about which the conference of the Australian Labor Party - quite reluctantly, I say - agreed, due to political expediency some time ago.
The honourable member for Wills also talked about scrutiny, and whether the American people and Congress scrutinise these activities. He quoted a list of names such as the Bay of Pigs, the ‘Pueblo’ affair and others. He completely forgot that these matters were ones of executive action and were not known to Congress in general. These matters were not debated by Congress.
– They have been.
-Order! The honourable member for Wills has already spoken in the debate and will refrain from interjecting.
– Yet the honourable member produced this as an argument to say that this nation and the Parliament should be doing something similar. There is no difference. If this Government were forced into a state of having to disclose detail of all these defence matters we would not have a feather to fly with and in fact we would not have any of the defence establishments based on Australian soil.
This debate should not be taking place today. The issue was over and done with in the early 1960s about the time we debated the North West Cape installation. Anyone who pretends today to get up on a matter of high principle and debate these things is playing with the defence of this country. When members of the Opposition speak as they do, they are speaking of something that has gone and is finished. We are now entering a new age and we have to be pragmatic and real in our attitudes towards it. From our own point of view, bearing in mind the importance of the ANZUS treaty, which I acknowledge and our obligation to the ANZUS treaty, 1 would sum up my feelings on this matter with a quotation that I heard once. The quotation did not come from a member on this side of the House; it came from a member on the other side. He said: ‘ I look on defence with all its implications as a form of national insurance that no country can do without’. I take the point because this quotation was a nice turn of phrase and sums up my own feelings on this matter. I say again, we cannot fractionalise this argument. We are either for ANZUS, for some form of defence with our No. 1 ally at the moment, the. United States, or we are against it. There is no half way house on this at all.
Following on from that, I suppose it is logical to say that from the way this debate has gone so far the Opposition wants no secrecy and a ton of disclosure on the one hand but acts as though it wants American aid in the field of defence on the other hand. These two things will not jell. This House knows that they will not jell. The question posed over and over again during this debate by the honourable member for Fawkner and the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns), in a good contribution, was: ‘Do we want the United States alliance or not and if we do, is ANZUS the form we want it in’? It seems to me that there is no possibility of debating this matter other than by directly arguing along those lines. I am not quite sure, frankly, whether Opposition members have committed themselves on their support for ANZUS. Have they? I do not know. I have listened to this debate now for 2 hours and I have not received a reply to my question. I do not know whether Opposition members are in favour of ANZUS or not. But if they are not, it is time they got up and told the people of Australia that they are not in favour of ANZUS. I have listened as carefully as I could during the afternoon and I have heard no mention of this fact. I would be very pleased if the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) or anyone else who is following me in this debate would elaborate on this matter and tell me for my information exactly where they stood.
There are many other matters that we could raise in this debate this afternoon. Most of them, however, have been debated already and I will not go back over ancient history.
– What did you get up for?
– I have got up to say what I have said and meant, contrary to the honourable member for Yarra whose speech did not agree with his past statements on defence in these matters. If anyone is going to wobble let him try again because I do not think I am.
– You have only a few minutes left.
– The honourable member for Yarra was in a similar position a while ago.
-Order! The honourable member for Yarra has already spoken in the debate and I suggest he refrain from interjecting.
– Finally, I would like to refer to my own State because this subject concerns it to a marked degree. I take the view that this move by America, in conjunction with the Australian Government, will give a very lively shot in the arm to South Australia.
– Oh, no. Is that what you are concerned about?
– The economy of South Australia, thanks to a Labor government which allowed immigration-
– Order! In spite of my warnings, the honourable member for Wills continues to interject. If he offends again I will deal with him.
– Because of Labor’s mismanagement of the economy in South Australia, which is the State from which I come, the inflow of migrants has suffered. It has dropped away to a trickle, and the present State Government is trying to correct the position. The establishment of this facility at Woomera will result in a great increase in the numbers of migrants coming to South Australia, which is well warranted. This facility is important for South Australia. It is also important for the electorate of Grey, and it is vitally important to Woomera, which has experienced hard times because of the vacillations regarding certain research programmes. This facility will be a wonderful backdrop to the work which is being carried out at Woomera. I think that this Government is to be congratulated by the people from my own State and indeed by all Australians for the action which it has taken in this instance.
– Before I comment on the reasons why I support the agreement between Australia and the United States of America for the establishment of a defence space communications facility at Woomera I want to refer to the remarks of the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) and the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns). There is no question that they have adopted exactly the same tactics and have used almost exactly the same words as they did in 1963 when they challenged the Government’s proposal to establish a communications station at North West Cape.
– You are well informed on that.
– I am. because I have the speeches which they made on that occasion in front of me, and I will quote from them.
– Order! I warn the honourable member for Reid. He has been continually interjecting throughout this debate. If he continues in this fashion I will deal with him.
– In 1963 the honourable member for Wills condemned the Government for its failure to consult the Australian people, and he has done the same thing today. In 1963 he said that Australia was losing its sovereignty, and he has repeated that statement today. In 1963 he challenged the Australian Government to hold an election on the issue of the establishment of the communications station at North West Cape, and he has made the same challenge today. He said that at the next Federal election the Australian people will not support the Government for entering into the intended agreement with the United States. He will get a chance to find that out. The honourable member for Yarra issued a similar challenge in 1963. They both found out whether the Australian Labor Party or this Government had the support of the Australian people in 1963. They got a clear cut and definite answer in 1963, when this Government was returned to office with a majority which was increased from 1 to 23 or 24. The remarks of the honourable member for Wills and the honourable member for Yarra indicate that they are still out of touch with the desires and interests of the Australian people. We are in this Parliament to represent the Australian people and to carry out what is in their best interests and what we believe are their desires regarding Australia’s security. This is what I believe the Government did in 1963 and what it is doing at the present time in implementing this agreement between Australia and the United States.
The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) said that a full’ scale debate took place in 1963 when the American Government established the North West Cape communications station in Western Australia. He also said that the construction of this station established a principle which the Australian Government supported to the hilt. The honourable member for Yarra, in his speech, adopting exactly the same tactics as he did in 1963, tried to induce a feeling of fear in the Australian people. The honourable member for Wills had the cheek to say that the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) and other honourable members were terror stricken. The tactic which he used to try to induce fear in the Australian people was to say that, because of this agreement between Australia and the United States, Australia would be subjected to a nuclear attack. To use his own words, he said it is inevitable that Australia will be in the front line of a nuclear war. He said exactly the same thing in 1963. He is trying to imply that the Government’s decision to enter into this agreement with the United States will put Australia in the front line, and that is what he said 5 or 6 years ago. I believe that the Australian people, instead of fearing this agreement, will support it as strongly as they supported in 1963 the agreement to establish a communications station at North West Cape. The Australian people will have the courage to accept the facts of life regarding the defence of this country in the modern and sophisticated world in which we live today.
Honourable members opposite have said that by agreeing to the establishment of this facility at Woomera we are losing our sovereignty. The fact is that Australia alone cannot defend itself in this sophisticated age of nuclear and space weapons. Apart from the offensive aspect of the facility at Woomera, it will be another deterrent to prevent people from attacking Australia and the free world. 1 repeat a statement which 1 have made on many occasions in this House: We people living in a democracy in Australia are mighty lucky to have standing behind the free world such a great nation as the United States of America, with its talent, ability and will power to resist the ever increasing aggressiveness of the Communists, and its preparedness to spend the money to keep our defence system at the top. We are lucky to have on our side a nation which has the capacity and the will to undertake the defence responsibilities of the free world. When we consider the question of defence, particularly global defence, we find that security and secrecy inevitably are involved. Often it is very vital to a nation’s safety and defence to maintain secrecy. This particularly applies in these days when remarkable scientific advances are being made and when mastery of space is being achieved. It is my opinion that the average Australian must have faith in the people in authority in the United States and Australia who make responsible decisions which are in the best interests of the defence of this country.
Several honourable members have referred to our obligations under the ANZUS treaty. Of course we have obligations under ANZUS. New Zealand and Australia cannot expect to shelter under the mighty armed forces of the United States and to have the protection and security which ANZUS provides if we are not prepared to undertake the obligations under the treaty. Over the years we have seen certain members of the Australian Labor Party continue to attempt to undermine respect for the United States. They have conducted a continual and persistent propaganda warfare campaign in an endeavour to undermine the respect which the Australian people have for the United States. In my opinion, the United States ought to enjoy this respect, because its record in the defence of the freedom of the world is there for all to see. This applies particularly to our own wonderful country of Australia.
The maintenance of secrecy by the Australian Government is not being employed to hold back from the Australian people the vital facts of which they ought to have knowledge but to carry out the Government’s responsibility as guardians of American security in Australia. If, perhaps, we are being over-secretive, which I do not think we are, is it not better to err on this side than on the other side and allow some vital information about these installations to be known to the enemy? We are to have fair and equal access to the data that is available through this installation. Woomera is obviously a suitable place for the installation because housing is available there and also we will have use of certain technical facilities already in existence there. I am sure that the Australian people as a whole - not every single Australian - will support the agreement.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– As the record shows, I am a firm supporter of the American alliance and I am implacably opposed to a Communist or any other totalitarian regime, but I do believe in democracy and the need for constant vigilance in its preservation. For these reasons I cannot support, even if I do not for lack of reliable information actually oppose, the increasing secrecy in which the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Government have shrouded, first Pine Gap, and now this proposed facility at Woomera. I know that I speak for many, perhaps millions of people in this country, when I say that we are becoming increasingly apprehensive of the trend towards a closed society in this so-called Australian parliamentary democracy. Decisions of incalculable importance to this country’s future are made behind closed doors. Divisive issues are concealed or smothered. In the name of security Parliament and parliamentarians are refused the information necessary to enable them to participate in meaningful debate. And when facts are withheld, rumour flies. Recent experience in Japan provides a warning of the dangers inherent in this kind of situation.
I do see a general identity of interest between Australia and the United States of America in the defence of the free world, but it is absurd to think that their interests could never diverge, or that what is good or right for America is or will be always good or right for Australia. There are benefits no doubt, probably very great benefits, to be derived from co-operation with the United States; but in this space and nuclear age there can be no doubt that there will also be risks - probably very grave and great risks. How are the Parliament and the nation to weigh these matters of such crucial importance to their future unless given at least an outline of the function of the proposed facilities? Obviously it is quite impossible for them to do so, and to that extent democracy is imperilled by the Government’s policy. And so once again in this case we are presented with a nondebatable fait accompli. This is serious enough in relation to matters such as shipping or the MLC; but how much more so in matters of vital importance, matters literally of life and death, matters of peace and war, matters of nuclear power and, possibly, nuclear destruction? It is difficult to believe, but it is a fact that here today in this debate, in a series of quite predictable 10-minute speeches, we are debating matters of such overwhelming gravity. But it is indeed so.
Let us see how far it goes. In relation to North West Cape, Parliament was told the purpose and the agreement was submitted to the House. In respect of Pine
Gap the treaty was tabled, but no information was given except that it was a defence space research facility - pure research, we were told, but still deadly secret. Now Woomera. This is admittedly not a research project. This is a defence space communications facility - in deadly earnest. And that, apparently, is all we are to be told. This is what the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) calls a little secrecy. The one thing, he said scornfully, that the Leader of the Opposition does not want is a little secrecy. When asked whether the agreement would be tabled, the Minister, true to the instincts of this Government under its present leadership, said no, only to be reminded by Sir Henry Bland a moment later that it would need to be registered with the United Nations. But we may be reasonably sure that if and when we see the agreement it will tell us virtually nothing - like the Pine Gap agreement.
We learn from written answers supplied to the honourable member for Yarra (Dr Cairns) on the same day by the same Minister that even most Ministers will never be allowed even to visit the so-called research facility at Pine Gap. The Minister for Defence and his officers apparently are allowed to visit the facility and to know all about it but only Ministers directly concerned with the operation of the facility will be permitted - if we please, in this free country, Australia - to visit Pine Gap. Woomera will be at least equally stringent. The Minister for Defence said at the Press conference: ‘It will be completely closed’. One begins to fear a completely closed society in this country in which the Americans, and probably the enemy, will know more about what is happening at Pine Gap and Woomera than we know ourselves. And we are supposed to place our complete trust and confidence in big brother. Mr Speaker, I no longer trust big brother, lt is our duty as parliamentarians not to trust him. It is our duty to probe, to investigate and to decide. But more than that, we now know for sure that we cannot trust big brother. 1 shall speak quite precisely. The Prime Minister has already quite deliberately deceived the Parliament and the people in relation to various matters, large and small, which I enumerated in a public speech the other day. This, of course, is the crux of the problem. The Press and the public no longer trust the Prime Minister, his credit-
-Order! I would remind the honourable member for Warringah that he is not in order in this House in casting imputations in respect of any honourable member’s reputation.
– 1 bow to your ruling, Mr Speaker, but 1 say this: The by-election results in Curtin are certainly some evidence of a growing disquiet, and 1 believe more such evidence will follow. What are the Prime Minister’s motives in hiding these things from us? ls it really just a question of security, or is he trying to make political capital out of it in some way? Or does he merely wish, as one of the newspapers has suggested, to avoid the inconvenience and embarrassment of debate and questioning in relation to Pine Gap, Woomera and the numerous other facilities established, or to be established, by the United States in Australia and its territories? Who can say?
I listened carefully to the Minister for Defence this afternoon, hoping for reassurance. 1 personally welcome and accept the assurance he quoted from United States authorities to the effect that the proposed base could not be used to initiate aggression and was designed for self defence only. But in other respects, I am sorry to say, I remain unconvinced. It was possible to tell us the purpose of the base at North West Cape; it was for use in offensive operations. Why then cannot we be told of the general nature at least of the pure research, so called, at Pine Gap? We know that in the United States, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has reminded us, every step taken in the process of preparation for defence is the subject of open debate and discussion or at least, in appropriate cases, the subject of secret congressional sub-committee hearings. If it can be done there, why cannot it be done here in relation to Pine Gap, Woomera and whatever else the morrow brings? Let us make no mistake; unless our democracy is able to work out a means of allowing these things to be disclosed, at least in broad terms so that they can be discussed and debated, there will be an end to real parliamentary democracy in Australia and we might just as well pack up and go and become another State of the Union. For what it really means is this: Parliament will be deprived of the opportunity to debate in a meaningful way matters of supreme importance to us all, beside which all other matters of debate in this House pale to insignificance and seem the merest toys and baubles of a meaningless parliament. What would this democracy be?
How much of a democracy could it be without the Press and other news media? They have shown far more courage and initiative in opening up these matters than the so-called Opposition in this Parliament. The great newspapers have been almost unanimous in their condemnation of the methods used in keeping from us the basic facts in these things. With infinitely more resources available to them in ascertaining the facts than are available to mere members of the Australian Parliament, they have openly challenged the accuracy of what the Government has told us. Who is right and who is wrong? I very much fear that the position has been reached where we can place more reliance on what is said in Australia by a responsible newspaper than on what is said by the Government and its Prime Minister, from whom we hear statements that are only perhaps partially true or sometimes false, or the plea is given that security will not permit the truth to be spoken.
– I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. I refer to the ruling you gave earlier. What has just been said offends more than did the statement that brought forth your earlier ruling.
-The honourable member is well aware that he is transgressing the Standing Orders. I have warned him previously about such a statement. He is not allowed to impugn the character of any honourable member by imputation or in any other way in a debate. This can be done only by using other forms of the House. I suggest to the honourable member that he desist immediately from the practice that he is pursuing.
– I apologise. I thought that I had heard similar things said by other honourable members, but 1 certainly withdraw.
– You are entitled to say so, too.
-Order! The honourable member for Darling will not .reflect upon the Chair’s ruling.
– Mr Speaker, as the honourable member has lost considerable time, 1 move:
That the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St. John) be granted an extension ‘pf time.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. j. Aston)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I came in here to speak on the subject of defence and the matter of public importance raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I find, having listened to the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St. John), that little desire or little opportunity will be left to me to discuss a matter that is of vital importance to Australia and the people of Australia. An event has occurred which I had hoped would never occur. I have listened to a man who supported me on an issue which I considered important. I had the highest regard for that man’s ability and courage. But although it may matter little to him, he has lost entirely the great respect in which I held him until 10 minutes ago. I say this for one reason, not because a man attacks something that he does not believe in.
– Is this a hatchet job?
– If the honourable member thinks he sees a hatchet, I hope he will show some courage one day and pick it up.
– I raise a point of order. The honourable member has cast a reflection on the honourable member for Warringah, who just a moment ago was stopped from casting reflections on the Prime Minister. I suggest that the same ruling should apply now.
-I suggest to the honourable member for La Trobe that he watch his verbiage in the debate. There is no substance in the point of order at this stage.
– What 1 said was that I had lost my former respect for the honourable member. I can appreciate that members of the Australian Labor Party may not understand that. When a man uses a debate on a matter as important as this for an attack on somebody for whom he may not have a personal liking, not only his standing but also his record will be judged by the people of Australia. I never thought that I would say this, but when a man spends the majority of his speech talking of big brother and about how the Prime Minister has lost the confidence of the people - I am not considered to be one of the courtiers of this Government - one can only regard his remarks as being vindictive and without balance.
-Order! I remind the honourable gentleman of what 1 said on two previous occasions when I informed the honourable member for Warringah that imputations regarding the conduct and character of any member of this House are out of order.
– Thank you for your guidance, Mr Speaker. May I say that there are no forms of this House whereby I can show my contempt. Therefore, let me speak on the matter before the House. Last Wednesday afternoon the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) made a ministerial statement concerning the establishment of a defence space communications facility at Woomera. As 1 understand the forms of the House, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) could have sought the adjournment of the debate. This would have allowed the debate on the statement to continue, and each member would have had 20 minutes in which to speak instead of the 10 minutes we have today. Indeed, that would have allowed a fuller debate on this most important subject. But we all remember what happened. The Prime Minister made his speech and the Leader of the Opposition sat silent. Then we read in the Press that there was to be a caucus meeting of the Opposition this morning.
– There was not one.
– That does not cause me any wonder at all. I think the Opposition was very wise not to have had the meeting, because it would have been in a slightly more disorganised situation than usual. The inference to be drawn from the newspaper accounts of the action of the Leader of the Opposition is that he agrees - and he said so today - that there should be a signal station, that there should be these research stations and that there should be co-operation with the United States. He said this and he implied that this was the policy of the Australian Labor Party. But the former Leader of the Opposition, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), stated on television on Thursday night that this was a deal cooked up in conjunction with the President of the United States for the federal elections of 1969.
– Hear, hear!
– The only realistic thing about the right honourable member for Melbourne is his admiration- for the Liberal Party because if the United States, with its great responsibilities and powers and with the great responsibilities of its President, is prepared to make this sort of agreement purely for election purposes, we in the Liberal Party have indeed arrived. I doubt whether that was the reason for the agreement, but if the right honourable member for Melbourne suggests it was I will go along with it. The honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) was immediately contacted by the whole Press of Melbourne. This leading member of the Australian Labor Party, as he is described, said with his usual courtesy that ballistic missiles will surround its. There Ls no doubt that the honourable member for Yarra said it. I admit that he is a great strategist, and i know that my sister, who served with him, admired him’ considerably. He said the same thing when the North West Cape facility was installed.
If one refers to a speech made by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) at the time, one will find that he said the North West Cape facility would be surrounded by ballistic missiles. That was in 1963. lt is now 1969, I have not seen a ballistic missile. If the honourable member for Reid and the honourable, member for Yarra have seen one they are being very secretive about it. The Opposition is not trying to please the Government by bringing in these discussions on matters of public importance in order to fill in time until the Government can bring in legislation. The important question is whether in these cases there should be security. I well remember the honourable member for Yarra, the right honourable member for Melbourne and others in 1963 challenging the Government to go to the people. They said: . ‘We will give you the opportunity of asking the electorate’. We did go to the electors and we gave them an opportunity to express their opinion. The Australian Labor Party came back with fewer members than it had had for a very great period.
The wording of the matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition is very tender. It cannot go too far in one direction without offending one side of the Party, and it can not go too far in the other direction without offending the other side. The matter is:
The’ Government’s refusal to inform the Parliament and public of the general purposes and possible consequences of joint defence installations and facilities in Australia.
If we revealed the general purposes of every defence establishment in Australia in this highly technical field, who would ever co-operate with us? It is a clever and a neat thing to say that we will read in the technical journals of the United States what it is about. Over the weekend various professors were asked a question and’ they had a guess at the answer. We would have great difficulties if the Government had to get up and say to questions about the purpose of an installation: ‘No, it is hot that, but you are getting hot’, or: ‘If you go a little further you might get it’. We have . a responsibility .in respect of . our defence and. we also have a responsibility in respect of our alliance with America. I for one accept this responsibility and I am sure that the Austraiian people will accept it. I am sure that the. people of Australia will be grateful for* what it means to our defence and the defence of the free world. We talk of parliamentarians going to Pine Gap. I do not know of. any security check that we undergo. I would not let some members of some parliaments. go anywhere near a security establishment.:..
– Order! The honourable members time has expired.
– The Govern^ ment is disintegrating: Government supporters are in public conflict. The honourable members opposite who formed an alliance to re-open the “Voyager’ inquiry are in public conflict ‘ and attacking one another. We see signs of disintegration when Government supporters get up in the House and attack one another. The matter that we are discussing is of public’ importance.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– The discussion before the Chair concerns a matter, of public importance, namely:
The Government’s refusal to inform the Parliament and public of the general purposes and possible consequences of joint defence installations and facilities in Australia.
The Government, not the Australian Labor Party, is on trial. Government members and Government supporters have thrown wild charges or, should I say, smears against members of the Australian Labor Party. We are not isolationists, as we have been charged with being. We are men who, as a part of mankind, are involved in mankind. We are opposed to isolationism because we feel for the human race and for the human family. It is for these reasons that the Australian Labor Party has brought before the House for discussion this matter of public importance.
Wc have the courage not to be used as rubber stamps as Government members and Government supporters have been. We have expressed admiration for our fellow legislators in the United States of America who have challenged the autocratic rule of their Government. How often have we heard the cry: ‘Trust your Government. We cannot give you the details, but you trust us. We have the information. Our judgment is right’? But we in the Opposition ask those in Government whether they be on Capitol Hill in Washington or near Capital Hill in Canberra how wrong they were regarding Vietnam. Imagine that! The United States Government kept saying: Look, you do not understand. We have all the facts.’ Of course, the same thing was said by the Australian Government. It repeated: ‘We have the facts’. But what are the facts? The facts are that the Opposition, through its agitation in Australia, and oppositions in other parts of the world including the Democratic Party and the Foreign Affairs Committee in the United States and many courageous newspaper men, have been showing those governments how wrong they have been.
Tonight, ail we seek are the facts. We want the facts. We have not been getting these facts. Again, we have heard the same story. I wish to quote from the transcript of the Press interview given on 23rd April by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall). The first question to the Minister about the Woomera proposal was:
What defence significance is it?
The Minister replied:
The functioning of the station will make a contribution to free-world defence but I wish you wouldn’t ask me how.
Those were the words used by the Minister for Defence. He used the old allegorical approach. He spoke of the free world. The term that he used was the ‘free world’. Consequently, if we challenge this proposal, the inference is that we are against the free world.
What does the Minister mean by the free world’? When the Minister and the Government use this jargonistic term, are they talking about the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, the modern Fascist States of Spain, Greece and Turkey? Do they term those countries part of the ‘free world’? In their analysis of the meaning of the words ‘free world’ do honourable members on the Government side include the three Fascist States of Spain, Greece and Turkey as part of the free world? Do they include Portugal as a part of the free world? Is South Africa classified as a part of the free world? Do Government members include Rhodesia in their analysis of the meaning of the free world? Are the Arab States included also? Do they call South Vietnam a part of the free world? Are the southern States of America described as a part of the free world?
Let us drop the hypocrisy that surrounds this jargon about the free world. It is a spurious term. No-one has a monopoly of freedom. Certainly we in Australia have no monopoly of freedom - we and the United States who are murdering young women and children in Vietnam. We cannot eulogise ourselves by describing ourselves as true proponents of the ideals of the free world. Our adversaries, the Russians, because of their domination of the people of Czechoslovakia cannot describe themselves in this way either. They do not have a monopoly of freedom. Let us stop using this spurious and jargonistic term - the ‘free world’. I am sick to death of hearing it. We live in a complex world. We are struggling for control of the minds of people. We must start trying to achieve our ends by decent methods and by fair play. We cannot do so by promoting fear and hysteria. We know the meaning of this jargonistic term and we know that it has been brought into this Parliament at this time because this is an election year. This is an example of the old jingoism policy. The Government has again reintroduced this term.
What worries me about the present position is: The Minister for Defence has admitted already that in a nuclear war this station at Woomera would be a target. At least, he admitted that at his Press conference. But in answer to a question by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) the Minister said that his Department had told him that this would not be the case. We know that already there are other establishments in Australia that would be targets in a nuclear war. Those remarks apply at least to the base at the North West Cape. We have strong suspicions about the Pine Gap installation and the proposed station at Woomera. These three bases would be targets because they are a part of the American system of intercontinental ballistic weaponry. We know from the data that came out at the time of the debate concerning the base at North West Cape that radio messages are sunt on a very high frequency from the United States to the communication station, and are transferred by a very low frequency to submerged submarines. The President of the United States of America is the only man who can give the order for the firing of a Polaris missile. Somewhere along the line, a message sent by the President would be transferred through the radio communication station at North West Cape.
If a war broke out, that station would be threatened. Not only would it be threatened but also the installations at Pine Gap and Woomera would be targets, according to the information available to this date and even on the admission of the Minister for Defence. I challenge this aspect. I query this aspect of what has been said. Surely if these stations are targets, they must be a part of the first strike weaponry. Woomera, Pine Gap and North West Cape must be included in the first strike weapon mechanism. If they were not in the first strike weapon mechanism, they would be defended by anti-ballistic missiles. In nuclear warfare, unless those installations struck first, they would not function at all. Everyone knows - even the people who are supposedly not advanced in science and technology and who are said to be our adversaries, the Russians - what the position is. The Russians know their position.
They know where they are situated. Surely in a nuclear war those bases would strike out first or else would be struck out first.
The other thing that worries me is: We know that the base at North West Cape is in radio communication with submarines carrying Polaris missiles. The Polaris missile is a deterrent because of the devastation it would cause if it was used to strike against areas of large population such as the cities of southern Russia and China. But if it is good enough for the goose, it is good enough for the gander. Because of my concern, I ask the Government why it does not drop this veil of secrecy. Why does it not tell the Australian people what the true position is? Unless it does-
– The honourable member is telling them.
– 1 am not telling them. I do not know what the purpose of Woomera is. I do not know because it is veiled in secrecy. I have no doubt about what the position is in the Soviet Union. As one of my honourable colleagues said, that country is advanced in science and technology. We are in a rat race, if I may use that term, to develop more and more nuclear arms. There is no security in nuclear warfare. First of all, the atomic bomb was developed. It was not big enough. The nuclear weapon evolved. The next development was a means of delivering nuclear weapons. Ballistic missiles serve this purpose. Ballistic missiles have been followed by intercontinental ballistic missiles. Now, because the countries concerned do not feel secure with those missiles, antiintercontinental ballistic missiles have been developed. Robert McNamara, former Secretary for Defence, said that it would cost $40,000m, but the wealthiest nation in the world, the United States, cannot afford its cost. Instead of using a blanket system they will use it only for defence establishments in the United States, not those in this country. The Opposition asks the Government to drop its veil of secrecy. It is time that the Australian people demanded to know what is going on. The electors of Australia cannot place blind trust in any government, be it a Labor government or a conservative government.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– We have just listened to a very interesting contribution to this debate by my friend the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren). His speech was interesting because it underlined the misgivings which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) must have had this afternoon when he led for his side. I can imagine that, when he did open this debate, he feared that the course of the debate would show that on any issue relating to foreign policy and defence the Australian Labor Party is still effectively led by the wild charioteers of the left wing.
Opposition members - Hear, hear!
– I doubt whether honourable members opposite will say ‘Hear, hear’ after the next Federal election, because the left wing members of the Labor Party have conclusively established in this debate that they are like the Bourbons; they forget nothing and they learn nothing. Tonight we heard an attack by the honourable member for Reid upon the Government - an attack which made much more reference to the North West Cape base than to the proposed new defence facility to be established at Woomera. This in itself is an interesting feature of the honourable member’s speech. As a leading spokesman for the left wing of his party, he wants to fight again the battle that was joined in 1963 over the proposal to establish a communication base at North West Cape. That battle was lost dismally at the 1963 election by the Party for whom he speaks. It is very interesting to see how history repeats itself. In 1963 the complaint made by the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), then the Leader of the Opposition, was that Australia should have no part in the establishment of a communication base at North West Cape because it was designed to complete the global coverage of the United States defence system. That was the objection then. What a curious objection!
– I still believe I was right.
– I know that you are. a Bourbon. You learn nothing and you forget nothing.
– You look like a Bourbon with your sideburns.
– I am one of the more sensible branch of the family. The issue then was whether Australia should lend its aid to establishing a component part of a global defence system which was underwritten by the United States. The issue today is the same - that is, whether we should take another step in the same direction. Notwithstanding that the 1969 proposal in relation to Woomera involves joint control and joint staffing of the base, the Labor Party still opposes it. In 1963 the Opposition took its stand upon the point that it could not agree unless there was joint control. It is easy to see the inconsistency to which I have just sought to draw attention. It stems from an underlying belief in the Labor Party - underwritten, I believe, by the left wing isolationists - that on no account should Australia participate in any steps to advance global defence, especially if such steps happen to be taken in conjunction with the United States of America. We have heard, in tones dripping with sententiousness, assertions by the honourable member for Reid that he is not an isolationist and that his Party is not an isolationist Party. It is curious that that can be said by an honourable member who has done nothing in this debate to recognise the part that is being played by the United States in global nuclear strategy for defence purposes. Every word uttered tonight by the honourable member for Reid was critical of the United States and everything that the United States is doing.
– He is anti-American.
– I think he is, but after giving the honourable member for Reid the benefit of the doubt - a very small doubt - one is forced to concede that he and the branch of his Party for which he speaks are basically anti-American.
– You have been asleep.
– The honourable member would not come into the race. We have heard him before; his performances have been miserable. With grave disquiet the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon led this debate on a side issue. He bantered; he was witty, as he can be; and he was light-hearted. There must have been an underlying disquiet, because he must have known that as the debate proceeded the basic anti-Americanism of some members of his Party would come to the fore, as it usually does. It is idle, unreal, and I believe bordering on the ridiculous for the Opposition to launch an attack upon the Prime Minister’s statement on the basis that it is clouded with secrecy and that it lacks proper disclosure of information that should be disclosed. I suppose that because the Labor Party has been out of office for so long it has failed to remember that in matters of defence effectiveness depends upon security, and if you are to have security you must have secrecy. I believe that in many material aspects we can assume that the United States of America is more advanced in space technology than a potential enemy is. In those circumstances is it not unreal - I -.believe it is completely unreal - for any party to criticise a government which after all has a responsibility to keep security in matters of defence, for not revealing details of the precise purposes of the establishment that it is proposed to found. The Labor Party executive met this morning, and I believe that this is what happened: The left wing members wanted in any circumstances and at all costs to have brought before this House a proposal which could be used for the purpose of peddling their puerile isolationism. Despite all the trappings of respectability which the Leader of the Opposition seeks to create for his Party, he himself is the captive of the left wing and he was probably overridden and forced into bringing before us a side issue which does not bear any reasonable examination.
As I said at the outset of my speech, the country and certainly the Government - and if the Government then certainly the country - owe a debt of gratitude to the Labor Party for once again exposing to the full its differences and the fundamental ideological gulf that exists on all matters that relate to foreign affairs and defence. We know that the Leader of the Opposition - although he is styled the leader, his is only a subordinate part - would like to believe and to press the view that the establishment of this proposed facility would not offend against Labor Party policy as declared in 1963. On the other hand the man who stands in the wings with his eyes upon the leadership in the future, the honourable member for Yarra (Dr I. F.
Cairns), has gone on record as saying that he believes that the proposal would offend against established Labor Party policy.
– Hear, hear! He is right, too.
– I am glad to hear the right honourable member say so. He does me a great service. He advances my argument. But quite apart from the corroboration that the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) has given me, the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), in his speech in this House this afternoon, did not controvert the accuracy pf the report in today’s newspapers to the effect that he believes that the very establishment of this base is contrary to Labor Party policy as declared in 1963. So the Labor Party has not learned very much. Six years have gone by since it took a licking in 1963 and Labor Party supporters are clinging to what they choose to regard as principles but what the country at large will regard as nothing but outworn shibboleths.
– The honourable and learned gentleman who has just addressed the House shares with me the privilege of being a member of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. Membership of this committee is a comparatively recent experience for members of the Opposition, and I must say it presents a very violent contrast to 23 years of debate on foreign affairs that I have heard in this House. This is the only Parliament which never discusses foreign affairs except by way of party propaganda. Never in the whole of 23 years can I recall more than one debate which was not a stream of denunciation of the Leader of the Opposition or somebody else. The one exception was the debate which occurred in this House before Australia joined in the Korean war. The approach of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs is that it must, first of all, find the facts. I am not interested in using ‘isolationist’ as a term of abuse. An isolationist policy is something that ought to be the subject of exact analysis, just as an interventionist policy should be, in the process of discovering the most intelligent policy for this country to pursue.
I want to know two things about this new base. I do not think we are entitled to know the technology of it, but as to secrecy the Government has not maintained a great deal of secrecy in disclosing to the Soviet Union that the base is at Woomera. There are in existence super-weapons which could obliterate the whole of Woomera - and there would be no necessity for the exact location or function of the base first to be pinpointed. So let us come back to sanity and recognise that we have a vested interest in having the Kremlin remain sane just as we have a vested interest in having Washington remain sane. If a thermonuclear war occurs we will not have military anniversary processions after it, commemorative or otherwise. We will have obliterated cities. Let us try to discuss this matter in that context. I repeat that I want to know two things about this base. Its secrecy is quite secondary. The first is: Is it likely to involve us in war without our being consulted? The whole of Australia is’ entitled to an answer to that - and that question does not involve secrecy. The second question is: Is it likely to involve us in nuclear retaliation?
Can we discuss the North West Cape base sanely? Its purpose is to control the Polaris submarine. Can we proceed with a few simple facts? Nobody will dispute that 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water. Nobody will deny that the Western world as. distinct from the Soviet bloc is characterised by its great centres of commerce being ports, right on the water’s edge. New York, London, Liverpool, Sydney, Melbourne, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras - they are all glorious concentrated targets right on the water’s edge. If a submarine of the Soviet Union stood off any one of those centres at a distance of 2 or 3 miles and pumped into it a thermo-nuclear missile travelling at 1,000 miles an hour there would be no chance whatever of intercepting or deflecting that weapon. I do not think anybody will dispute that. On the other hand, if we retaliate against the Soviet Union with thermo-nuclear weapons from such submarines our missile must travel thousands of miles, and, if it be true that an anti-missile can intercept it, obviously the Soviet Union has a particular advantage. All I want to say about the North West Cape base is that in coming into the field of Polaris submarines we have chosen the one field in which the Western world is most at a disadvantage. If I am wrong in that contention I want to hear a refutation of it. I do not want to hear somebody merely sneering at the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam).
As for this other matter, this new weapon, this new centre at Woomera, the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) did suggest that it was not worth a nuclear attack. If that is so it also cannot be a major weapon of offence and, therefore, of defence of this country. The question here is not one of being, pro-American or anti-American. I have been ip this Parliament long enough to have, heard very confident dogmatism from very, distinguished people.. I have read Sir Robert Menzies: Afternoon Light’, in which Sir Robert said he did not know that Anthony Eden, in collusion with the French,, leaders, had arranged for Israel to attack Egypt so that an excuse could be provided for Britain and France to rush into the Canal zone - as revealed by Anthony .Nutting in his memoirs. But I remember Sir Robert leaning across the table and raising his eyer brows at the Opposition while he made two contentions. The first was that the whole affair was a display of dastardliness on the part pf Egypt and the second was that the Suez Canal was a matter’ of life and death for Australia. The Suez Canal has been shut for 18 months arid we live on. If there has been any significance at all in the continued closure of the Suez Canal it is that it has shut the Soviet Union out of the Indian Ocean. If I am wrong in that statement tell me where I am wrong. We have lived for years with the kind of rubbish that we have heard this afternoon. It is evidently assumed’ that Australian electors look at foreign affairs like moo cows watching the passing traffic. This may very well be correct, for all 1 know, but if the statement I have just made is wrong please tell me where it is wrongs
I remember also the former Prime Minister leaning across the table during our discussion of the happenings in the Gulf of Tonkin, which became the casus belli for United States bombing of North Vietnam, lt was said that an attack had been made on American warships by North Vietnam’s patrol boats in the Gulf of Tonkin. I do not know whether an attack was or was npt made, but I do know that since then the Commander of the ‘Turner Joy’, one of the American destroyers, said before an American Senate committee that he and his officers afterwards found out that if they turned the helm hard over the echo of his ship’s own propeller resounding from the rudder gave a sound which they thought to be that of torpedoes coming at them. All 1 can say is that if the North Vietnamese with their miserable patrol boats took on the greatest navy the world has ever seen they must have been insane, lt seemed to me to be inherently unlikely that they would have done so, but at any rate the testimony of America’s own commanders has cast a doubt on this.
Government supporters cannot expect us, in the light of all this, to accept everything that the Government says as infallible. I can tell them one thing about their former Prime Minister and his Suez Canal policy. I know that before he adopted that policy the Arab world was a British field of influence, but after that policy had been implemented the) Arab world became a Soviet sphere of influence and it remains so to this day. I do not think that we can get away from our responsibility to seek an intelligent policy merely by picking up some slogan that we think will be good political propaganda with the electorate. I have not got any particular conviction for or against the base that we are discussing. I do not know anything about it.
– The honourable member is on the fence.
– I am not on the fence about this base. 1 am technologically ignorant and I think the honourable member is too. All I say is that I want to know the political background to this base. What we are discussing in this House is not the technology of the base but the politics of it. We are entitled to know the risks - whether this country faces the likelihood of war without our being consulted. There is a long history of this kind of thing. One fascinating thing about the Australian public is that they have a very proper cynicism about their own politicians and a very strong idea that any politician from overseas is a god. They would have got themselves involved in a very evil strategy of Lloyd George in 1922 if Lord Curzon had not thrown him out of office. We would have had a war with Turkey without provocation. I do not think that the last President of the United States was the greatest occupant of that office. I would hope to see in this Parliament and in the Australian public the same disposition of mind to analyse in terms of effect the policies of foreign potentates as those of our own.
– The honourable member for Fremantle may be quite sure that I will not be leaning across the table levelling accusations at him, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) or the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). What I shall be trying to do is approach this subject in something of the same spirit as the honourable member for Fremantle brought out in the speech he has just made. There are one or two points that I believe I should advert to before moving on to some of the questions raised by the honourable member for Fremantle. I do not refer to the Suez matter or those other matters but to the subject before the House, lt should be noted that in his speech the Leader of the Opposition said that there had never been a ministerial statement on any previous agreement for a space or communications station and that it was something unusual that a statement should have been made on this occasion. This is in the transcript of his speech. J am quite unable to follow the honourable gentleman’s claim, because previously in relation to the establishment of the station at Pine Gap a ministerial statement was made in this House in December 1966 by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall).
– Outside the House.
– It was made inside the House and subsequently repeated at a Press conference outside the House. At least that is my information. Another small point which I think should be cleared up relates to a suggestion that in some way or other this agreement which has been announced to the House does not fit in with the ANZUS treaty. He asks why it was not announced immediately upon my return from the United States - on 15th April I think that was the date which the honourable gentleman gave. Mr Speaker, in the first case,
Pine Gap, there was a statement made according to the information which I have and in the second case the final agreement by Cabinet on the terms of the announcement as made, the terms of the announcement having been agreed between the United States and ourselves and then approved by Cabinet, was not made until 23rd April and immediately it was made it was announced to this House, not without some little difficulty - difficulty stemming not from the Leader of the Opposition but, I gather, from his Deputy, who indicated that there would be some question as to whether leave would be granted to me to make such an important statement to the House. This difficulty was subsequently ironed out and the statement was made at the first opportunity.
Reverting to the ANZUS treaty I draw the attention of the House to article II, which reads:
In order more effectively to achieve the objective of this Treaty the parties-
That is. the United States and Australia: separately and jointly by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.
That is article II of the treaty which perhaps has more significance to Australia’s security than anything else at the present time. The House has already been informed by the Minister for Defence that this installation is not an offensive installation, lt is a defence facility. It cannot be used to initiate aggression, lt threatens no-one. Its function is to support collective self-help. Does this not jibe completely and utterly with article II of the ANZUS treaty - to maintain and develop their individual and collective- capacity to resist armed attack’? I suggest there could be no argument but that it does. Therefore I believe that the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition that the ANZUS treaty was being debased, if 1 use his words correctly, and I believe 1 do: that it was being used as a cover up and a cover all, cannot be in any way sustained because article II is specific and the installation, its purpose being defensive and not offensive, fits completely into the terms of that article. .
The questions to be resolved here are really comparatively simple. Do we believe that the ANZUS treaty is of the utmost significance to the future security of Australia? If we believe that, do we have a requirement - an obligation- to assist the defensive capacity of the United States, which is underwriting not only our security but the security of so many other countries? If we have that obligation, and a request is made to us to do something which fits the terms of the ANZUS treaty - something which furthers the Objectives of the ANZUS treaty - should we not accede to that request? 1 remind the House that the request relates to a defensive, not offensive, purpose. If this is not accepted as a proper course, what should be a proper course? Should we refuse a request made to us by the United States to help trie joint defences under the terms of the treaty? Should we say: ‘No, we reject your’ request to us. We turn it down completely’?
– We do if it earmarks us to be wiped out by a nuclear bomb.
– lt is suggested from the Opposition that we should reject a request of this kind.
– 1 said if it wipes us out with a nuclear bomb.
– Well, it is said it is a course we could follow, lt, is for this House and for the people of Australia to make up their minds whether the rejection of such a request would in the long run assist the future security of Australia of jeopardise it. The course which might be followed is one which flows from the interjection of the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) who sits on the Opposition front bench. He has suggested that in certain circumstances we should reject such a request. What this means is that we should approach the ANZUS treaty in the spirit that if some requirement for the defence of the United States and therefore of ourselves and therefore of other free countries may present us with some danger, we should refuse it - we should contract out into some kind of neutrality, because that is the ultimate and only logical conclusion from the honourable member’s suggestion. I do not believe that Australia’s security would be helped if we refused such a request. Indeed, I think our security would be placed in great jeopardy if we were to contract out - if we were not prepared to accept our obligations under a treaty into which we have entered but instead expected the United States to accept its obligations even though we did not accept ours. This is one really significant point to be resolved in this matter. Should we accept such obligations or should we not? If we do not accept such obligations can we expect the obligations of the United States to ourselves to be carried out? I have been asked by way of interjection - at least I think so because there were so many coming from so many places-
-Order! The right honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The right honourable gentleman has misrepresented me and I wish to correct this. The Prime Minister challenged the accuracy of my. statement this afternoon that there has not been a ministerial statement or a press conference on any previous space and communications agreement. He challenged the accuracy of this statement with respect to the joint defence space research facility at Pine Gap. The agreement for that facility was signed on 9th December 1966. The House had risen on 28th October 1966. The Minister for Defence issued a Press statement on 11th December 1966. The agreement was tabled in the House on 9th March 1967. I have not had time to check with the Votes and Proceedings of the House but the index of Hansard makes no reference to any ministerial statement on the Pine Gap agreement.
– The Leader of the Opposition has in turn misrepresented me. The words used by the Leader of the Opposition were: ‘There has not been a ministerial statement or a Press conference on any previous space and communications agreements.’ There has been a ministerial statement and it was issued to the Press on 11th December 1966. It was not made in this House but was a ministerial1 statement. 1 repeat that it was issued on 11th December 1966 and therefore there was a ministerial statement.
– In his statement on the United StatesAustralia
– The honourable member for Brisbane rose at the same time as the honourable member for Maranoa.
-Order! 1 have already called the honourable member for Maranoa. If the honourable member has a point of order 1 will listen to the case he puts forward.
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The honourable member for Brisbane, who is on his feet, rose to speak at the same time as the honourable member for Maranoa.
– I called the honourable member for Maranoa. Apparently the honourable member for Newcastle is not aware of the arrangements that have been made. I have in the handwriting of the Opposition Whip the list of speakers in the order in which they are to be called from the Opposition side. I called the . honourable member for Maranoa.
– I rise on a further point of order. Mr Speaker, it seems to me that the Standing Orders are clear in this, and that you have to call a member who rises to his feet. Any list that you might have is of no relevance.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– There was an arrangement made between the Leader of the Opposition and myself this afternoon that after the first four speakers had spoken there would be two Government speakers to every one Labor speaker.
Motion (by Mr Uren) put:
That the honourable member fi r K Brisbane be now heard.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon W. j. Aston)
Question so resolved in the negative.
I maintain, the next speaker should have been called from this side of the House. The honourable member for Brisbane had risen. The Prime Minister was not on the list, but he was called. Therefore, I believe that he should have been followed by the honourable member for Brisbane.
– The list of speakers in this debate has been in the hands of the Opposition for some time. The list shows that after the first three speakers there are two Government speakers to every Labor speaker. If honourable members opposite had wanted to rise-
– Order’!1 The honourable member is now canvassing the decision of the Chair. I suggest to him that he debate the question before the House.
– I do not want to waste much time on this matter, but 1 am going to say this: It is deplorable that so much time has already been wasted in this debate, because 1 believe it is a very important debate. I believe that the Opposition’s action is designed only to waste time.
-Order! There is no relevance between the. question being raised by the honourable member for Maranoa and the question before the Chair.
– I accept that, and 1 will move on to the matter being debated. In his statement on the United StatesAustralian defence space communications facility the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) said: the Government has accepted proposals which were made by the United States Government for the establishment in Australia of a joint United States-Australian defence space communications facility.
Does the Opposition think that this proposal would have been made if there was any doubt that the Australian Government would not maintain the strictest secrecy in relation to the activities of the space communications facility? Would the Opposition place such unacceptable conditions on the offer as would prevent the United States from establishing such a facility in Australia? Do honourable members opposite value the security of this country? Do they think that co-operation with the United States is not one of the best means of obtaining that security? Do they think that this country can stand alone against the might and the numbers which could be stacked against it? By their attitude in this debate I would say that they are not interested in getting the support of this great ally of ours, without which the position of this country would be very precarious.
The important point in this debate is: What is in the best interests of Australian security? Is the Australian Government’s acceptance of this proposal by the United States, with the conditions under which it is accepted and with the imposition of the necessary secrecy which must attach to the activities of the facility in this country, in the best interests of Australia? I suggest that the Government’s decision to accept the offer and to preserve at all costs the secrecy of the operation is the correct one. The United States has made a generous offer to Australia to provide this space communications facility. We have been asked to co-operate and to assist the United Slates in the defence of Australia. The free world has been criticised. The question has been asked: ‘What is the free world?’
– What is it?
– The people of the free world are those who are outside the domination of countries which have dictatorial governments, like Russia and China. If honourable members do not know yet what a tree world is, they never will know. We have been told that the people of Australia should be consulted, but the people clearly accept the principle of cooperation with the United States. This was obvious when the North West Cape base was established. This was proven beyond any shadow of doubt when the Government was returned with a record majority when that base was a major issue at an election. The fact of the matter is that the Labor Party does not have an effective policy in this regard. It is hopelessly divided on this matter as it is on many other policy matters. According to Hansard, on 16th May 1963, in referring to the North West Cape, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) said:
As the Leader of the’ Opposition has said, this matter was so important’ that the Australian Labor Party’s federal conference was called together for a special meeting . to determine the Party’s attitude to this agreement. The Labor Party represents a broad section of the Australian people. We of the Labor Party are Australian and we represent Australian thought. Indeed, some of us with strong sentiments of Australian nationalism were totally opposed to the base. Others believed that the establishment of the base should be supported in the best interests of Australia’s defence.
Could we get a greater, division of opinion acknowledged by the honourable member for Reid?. I should like to refer to a statement made on the same date by the honourable member for Bass- (Mr Barnard), the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He said:
If we talk about involving this country in nuclear warfare obviously we must be prepared to give greater consideration to our defences. It is ironical that we should now be discussing probably one of the greatest single defence projects ever contemplated in this’ country. I have already indicated that the communication base is in many respects considered by the Opposition, and certainly by this coalition Government, to be both necessary and desirable, but this Government has remained singularly inactive in regard to Australia’s defence.
This, in fact, was part of our defence programme, and so is this new defence space facility. The honourable member continued:
The Government’s inaction in this respect has convinced me that there is probably some justifica- tion for the joint decision of this Government and the Government of the United States of America to establish the base. We are moving to a stage where collective defence is necessary.
If, in 1963, we were moving to a stage where collective defence was necessary, it certainly is necessary in 1969. There is no question at all that the need for collective security is paramount in the defence of this country because we do not have the capacity to defend ourselves against the might that could be brought against us. We need the close assistance of our allies, and if we are to accept that assistance we have to give them our co-operation.
I note that back in 1963 the Opposition said that the North West Cape communication station would be a target for nuclear attack. In the case of a nuclear attack it will not be just a matter of attacking one or two isolated points in Australia. If it comes to a nuclear attack, the honourable member for Yarra (Dr Cairns) said that the United Stales bases would be protected by anti-ballistic missiles but that the Australian bases would not be so protected. If that is the case then this would be an important aspect in the overall defence of the free world. If the American bases remained protected this would enable the United States to retaliate very effectively, so it is obvious that the first attack would be on the United States itself. To put one or two Australian bases out of action in a world war would be of slight importance compared to putting out of action the great attack and defence capacity of the United States. In 1963 the Opposition said that nuclear missiles would be raining on Australia. I am sure that the countries that would be considering an attack or a world war would realise that there would be alternative channels through which messages could be sent. The fear that the establishment of bases in Australia is going to attract a nuclear attack is groundless.
The most important part of this defence space research facility is that we have secured close communication with the United States, which could more readily come to our aid if called upon. This will be the greatest deterrent to a nuclear war that we could have in Australia. The only thing that stops aggression is the existence of deterrents and if we had not had deterrents we would have bad war long ago. In accepting co-operation with the United States in having this defence space facility in Australia we are acting in the best interests of Australia’s defence.
– This debate has been wide ranging. The honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett), who has just resumed his seat, debated the ANZUS treaty. I agree wholeheartedly with the speech of the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), who criticised the poor standard of debate on matters of defence and foreign policy in this Parlia ment. In the time that I have been a member of the Parliament - that has not been as long as the membership of the honourable member for Fremantle - we have debated defence and foreign affairs so often in a petty, partisan, party political way. The criticisms of the Australian Labor Party of this agreement principally range around the fact that it is kept secret, not from the point of view of technical knowledge but at tha political level. The Labor Party is concerned with the sovereignty of Australia. The Australian Labor , Party is concerned with the maintenance . of parliamentary government in this country. The thing that disturbs rae about the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) - only about fourteen or fifteen lines - last week and the comments of the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) is that both are a clear affront to the Parliament and to the people of Australia. If the defence policies of this nation are to be properly based and supported by the nation they must be debated in a proper way in this Parliament by members who are properly informed. T put it to the House that the Prime Minister’s statement and the statement of the Minister for Defence - the latter statement was rather peculiar in that the Minister was dragging his coat for the Opposition - were made for the purposes of the election later this year. This is an issue which is far too important to be looked at purely from a party political point of view.
I should like to reaffirm that defence policies are not made by governments or by Cabinets alone. They do not stand unless they are backed up by properly informed public opinion. My first point is that any of these defence installations should be subjected to proper parliamentary scrutiny. When the Labor Party was in office in the Second World War we Had a War Cabinet because the Labor Party of that time believed that it was necessary to have political unity behind the defence policies of the Government. Indeed, Mr Deputy Speaker, you will recall that members of the present Government party - the United Australia Party as it then was - were expelled from that Party when, with party politics being introduced by that Party they declined to resign from the War Cabinet. When Labor was in office’ we endeavoured to maintain this political unity and this parliamentary unity in support of the defence policies of this nation.
I am concerned at statements that members of Parliament, including the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), will not be allowed to visit this facility. I know that a small number of Country Party members and the present Leader of the Opposition have been able to visit the facility at Pine Gap, but the Minister for Defence, amplifying the Prime Minister’s statement, said that they would not be allowed to go there again. The statement was quite clearly made that members of this Parliament Would not be allowed to visit the new installation at Woomera. . I can well understand why the Government would not want 184 members of the Parliament trailing through the place 7 days a week. But surely if these , installations are to be accepted by the people of Australia and by this Parliament, it is necessary that , the Leader of the Opposition and members of the Parliamentary Labor Party Executive, . especially those who have responsibilities for defence and foreign affairs, should have access to some of the installations. Indeed, I believe that people similarly situated on the Government side of the House, Ministers and the like, should have access to these installations.
I would like an answer to the next question. It is: Will American congressmen who come to this country have access to these installations? We are told about the need for secrecy. The honourable member for Maranoa has emphasised the need for secrecy. But this is no part of the American tradition. We all of us know that under the American system of government the Executive is subject to cross-examination by Congress and by. Senate committees on all aspects of foreign affairs and defence. At times these committees sit in camera, but the United States Secretary of Defence and Secretary of State are subject to the most detailed cross-examination on matters of this kind.’ This is because the United States has a more democratic and open society than wc have in this country under this Government. That democratic system recognises that if a defence policy or a foreign policy is to be a success it must have public support, and the basis of public support for any policy is parliamentary support.
I and the Australian Labor Party condemn this Government for the great disservice it is doing to the defence of this country by making defence a matter of partisan party politics. This is an important question that has not yet been answered and I would like an answer to it. The Government has said that members of this Parliament will not be allowed to visit these installations. I would like to know whether members of the American Congress will be allowed to visit them. 1 express the firm opinion that members of the American Congress, if told they could not visit the installations, would not take no- for an answer. When I joined this Parliament I was under the leadership of the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), and I have served under other leaders. I express my opinion that no member of the Parliamentary Labor Party Executive would be a security risk and could not be entrusted with information on any defence agreement into which the Government has entered. If there were an election at the end of the year and the Government were defeated, would its supporters like to be treated in the way that Opposition members are- being treated? Would members of the present Ministry all of a sudden, with a Labor government occupying the treasury bench, believe that they should be treated as irresponsible people who should not be entrusted with information essential to the defence of Australia? These are important matters to any person who believes in the integrity and the preservation of parliamentary democracy and the importance of the sovereignty of Australia.
I again emphasise that, although the honourable member for Fremantle was followed by the Prime Minister in this debate, the Prime Minister did not see fit to answer either of the honourable member’s two questions. The honourable member for Fremantle asked whether this installation will involve us in a war and whether it will involve us in the likelihood of nuclear retaliation. I did not put those questions; the honourable member for Fremantle did. They are important questions and they deserve an answer. If someone slept like Rip Van Winkle somewhere in the Australian wilds for a few years, came back now and listened to the broadcast of the Parliament, he would know that this is an election year, because once again we are back on these issues and there are allegations of disloyalty imperilling the American alliance and the ANZUS treaty. The
Australian Labor Party established the American alliance in time of war and has always stood by the ANZUS treaty at all times since then. A Labor government would see that in the future the obligations of Australia under the ANZUS treaty were carried out. In doing so it would see that the Parliament was properly informed and that the people of Australia were properly informed of the guidelines of its policy. A Labor government would also take action to protect Australian sovereignty within the framework of the American alliance. I am very disappointed at the way the statement has been debated and this matter has been handled by both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence.
– I ask for leave of the House to move a motion to enable the discussion of the matter of public importance to be continued until 10.45 p.m.
Is leave granted?
– No. They receivedall they asked for.
– Leave is not granted.
– It is your matter of public importance.
– You asked for 9.20 and we agreed.
– Order! Leave is not granted.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) proposed:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the discussion of the matter of public importance being continued until 10.45 p.m.
– The Minister for Air (Mr Erwin) suddenly wants to use this House for his own purposes. We have another important matter listed for debate. It is associated with Canberra, and the honourable member’ for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr J. R. Fraser) has been waiting all this time for it to be debated. It is true enough that this is a matter of public importance that we raised. It is also true enough that we made some arrangement by which-
Motion (by Mr Erwin) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the motion (Mr Erwin’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . 29
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– Mr Speaker, this is one of the most extraordinary debates that I have seen in Parliament for a very long time. First of all, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) did not want a debate on the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) last Wednesday. Accordingly, that statement was not placed on the notice paper as an item of business for discussion so that everyone could speak on it for 20 minutes when the debate was resumed. But, after the weekend, the Leader of the Opposition comes along and raises for urgent discussion this matter of public importance which apparently is not urgent because, when an extension of time is offered, the Opposition votes against the motion.
Furthermore, when the debate began, as on previous occasions when defence was debated, the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard), and the shadow Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) all took three different lines of attack. This is what they have done on three different occasions. Then, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) shook his shaggy grey locks and joined with the honourable member for Yarra and the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and tried to cause Australians to be fearful of the results of this particular installation and made grave prognostications about how this installation would leave us open to nuclear attack. The honourable member for Wills and some of his cohorts behind him seem to have forgotten that one enemy submarine off the coast of Australia could silence all of us in this Parliament with one nuclear missile in one lob.
– That is right. That is what we have been telling the honourable member.
– It would not silence the honourable member for Wills. The amazing part is that despite the objections of honourable members on the Opposition side of the House every one of them still has said that he approves of the ANZUS treaty. In other words, honourable members opposite are trying to curry the favour of somebody somewhere. But what is the use of approving of the ANZUS treaty when they say that Australia shall have no obligations and shall take no risks under this treaty but shall leave it all to America to make sacrifices and take the risks. What sort of one-eyed, cockeyed kind of reasoning is this?
Then the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St. John) came into the debate.
He was strongly supported by the Opposition. After Opposition members said that they supported the ANZUS treaty, the honourable member for Warringah wiped the ANZUS treaty in one sentence. He said: ‘I no longer trust Big Brother America’. After that, the honourable member forgot about the reason for this debate and concentrated on a rather vicious criticism of his béte noir, namely, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). It reminded me of one of the ‘Bab Ballads’ I think, to this effect:
We are the true selected few,
May all the rest be damned,
There is only room for you and me,
We can’t have Heaven crammed.
Anyway, the value of the extra chapter of the revelations of St. John - Mr St. John, the honourable member for Warringah - can be taken at its true value when almost in his opening sentence the honourable member said: ‘I am implacably opposed to Communism’. Yet, his political eyesight is so weak that he does not know a Communist when he sees one. The honourable member, or an organisation of which he is a prominent member in Australia, invited Mr Robert Reisha, a Communist member of the African National Congress, to Australia as his guest or the guest of that organisation. The honourable member for Warringah met Mr Reisha at Mascot Airport. He had an hour’s conversation with him. He said that Mr Reisha was not a Communist at all. Then, when Mr Reisha went to Melbourne he was taken around Melbourne by two self-confessed Communist trade union leaders and a fellow traveller.
However, this debate is and has been a very important one. When one looks down the corridors of time to 1942, one can see a Labor Prime Minister heading the Government in this Parliament and one can say to oneself: ‘How the mighty have fallen’. When the news of the fall of Singapore came through and when the news of that defeat was known to all, loud lamentations rose in Canberra’s halls. The then Labor Prime Minister uttered the cry across the Pacific to America: ‘Come over and help us’. The Americans had a great reception when they came to Australia, and rightly so. But now look how the mighty have fallen. Look at the criticism that has come from the Opposition with regard to
America. Did the Australian Labor Party take the same view as its members are taking today when Australia grew up under the might and protection of the British Navy and British naval vessels were entering our ports and being repaired in our dockyards? Was that something that should have frightened Australians?
So, today, under changed conditions, if we want America as an ally and protector once again, particularly when Britain departs from east of Suez, we must take some responsibility and must share all the risks that are involved. If Canada, Australia and other countries want America and American protection, we must play our several parts in the obligations that ensue therefrom in helping America to build up that protection which will act as a deterrent factor which, please God, will result in no nuclear war ever being undertaken. I recall that 100,000 Australians died in two world wars fighting for principles without which, they considered, life was not worth living. It is a very foolish fantasy for anybody to think that a policy of Fortress Australia or isolationism is the answer in the world of today especially when we look back at recent history. I mention Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Korea, India and Vietnam if honourable members want some instances. Neutrality may be an ideal but it is not a realism with regard to the security of a country in the world of today. The slogan ‘Better Red Than Dead’ is a cover up for cowards and appeals to the grosser side of human nature.
I congratulate the Government on tha action that it is taking and on the decision to have this space communication centre built at Woomera. If members of the Opposition do not know what a space communication centre involves, they have not been following what has been put into the upper atmosphere recently by other countries as well as America. I hope that we will go on helping America to build up that strong deterrent which is the one chance that the world has of being able to develop on moderately peaceful lines, and stopping those would-be aggressors who still exist in the world today and whose main weapon is to attack the will and the morale of citizens in the great democracies of the day. Instead of criticising the Government honourable members opposite ought to be congratulating it. May Australia long continue to play her part in the future as she has done in the past in stopping aggression, in trying to guarantee the security of herself and her allies and in building up a better world for which so many Anzacs gave their lives.
– Honourable members on the Government side have deliberately avoided debating the real object and purpose of the proposal before the House. The subject under discussion is the Government’s refusal to inform the public and the Parliament of the general purposes and possible consequences of joint defence installations and facilities in Australia. Government members have endeavoured to create an impression that we on this side of the House are opposed to such installations. That is a stupid attitude for them to adopt. They must imagine that the public is very gullible if they expect people to believe such rot. The public knows very well that because of the attitudes of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) we have not been given an opportunity to study what the proposed installations will be or what they will mean. The general public is wise enough and fair enough to realise that one cannot say with any degree of certainty whether one is for or against something if one has not been able to find out anything about it. Honourable members on the Government side are doing this Parliament and the people whom they represent a disservice by refusing or neglecting to join with us in calling upon the Prime Minister or the Minister for Defence to explain to this House and to the public generally the purposes and possible consequences of the installation.
Last Wednesday afternoon the members of this Parliament, representing the people of Australia, were treated to one of the greatest acts of contempt that anyone could imagine. The Prime Minister made a statement in this House which lasted for approximately 2 minutes and in which he told us that the Government had accepted proposals which were made by the Government of the United States for the establishment in Australia of a joint United States-Australia defence space communication facility. Beyond that all he said was that the facility would be situated at Woomera, its . construction would commence in September or October, and it should be ready for operation by late 1 970. He did not tell us what it would be used for, what it would cost or who was to pay for it. Shortly after that statement was announced members of the Press endeavoured by way of interview with the Minister for Defence to obtain further particulars, but they received no more information than the Prime Minister had already given to this House. As a matter of fact, it appeared from the answers of the Minister for Defence and from the meagre statement of the Prime Minister that they themselves were not absolutely sure of the exact nature of and what could happen in relation to this particular facility. They did not seem to know what the ultimate operation would be. Because of the reluctance or inability of the Prim© Minister and the Minister for Defence: to give any details about this facility the : Opposition is quite in order in bringing, this, matter before the House for discussion.
Quite naturally the people of Australia, particularly those people living within a few miles of the proposed facility, are interested to know what this project will consist of, what its function will be and how its installation : and use will affect them and Australia. It may be that the project will have a very -beneficial effect. It may be that it will have a very disastrous effect. How can anyone come to a conclusion on this unless he knows something about it? It could be that it will be the means of lessening the possibility of Australia’s being attacked, by any enemies it has now or may have in the future. On the other hand, perhaps it will increase the chances of Australia’s being attacked. We cannot arrive at any . conclusion if the Government refuses to offer any explanation of the function of the base. By refusing to give a clear and detailed picture of the whole purpose of the. function of the facility the Prime Minister has treated not only this Parliament but also the people of Australia with contempt. This afternoon the Minister for Defence said it surely could not be suggested that the people of Australia would not trust their Government. I do not know whether the people of Australia will or will not trust the Government. One thing is certain, and that is that the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence, and apparently all the Ministers of the Cabinet, do not trust the people of Australia. I do not know how anybody in Australia could trust the Prime Minister after his action tonight in coming into this chamber and to use an Australian term, ratting or. an agreement in relation to pairs.
I do not say that that applies to honourable members on the Government back benches. It is obvious from the remarks which they have made in this debate that they have no more knowledge of this proposed project than we on this side have. Government speakers have tried to put themselves on a pedestal on the score of security. They have plugged the line that in the interests of security it would be foolish and fatal to disclose the function of this facility. The fact is that they do not know anything about it at all and they are too lily livered to protest and demand to be told. They are too lily livered to demand their rights and the rights of the people that they are supposed to represent. Apparently they are prepared to accept this proposal without any argument irresective of what effect the facility may have. Why is it that we cannot be told more about this proposed base at Woomera? What is there about it that causes the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence to be so frightened that it could become common knowledge?
We have the base at North West Cape, which is in my electorate and which I have visited on numerous occasions. There is no suggestion of denying honourable members the opportunity of looking over that facility. There is no attempt to convey wrong ideas about its function; it is a defence naval communication station. The proposed base at Woomera, according to the Prime Minister, is a defence space communication station. There is not a lot of difference in the wording but apparently there is a great deal of difference not only in function but also in importance. We are not told what those differences are. Much has been said about the communication station at Exmouth, and everyone knows the cloak of secrecy which surrounded that project in its early stages. There was an agreement, and that agreement was debated in this House. Is there to be an agreement on this project at
Woomera? If so, will that agreement be tabled? Will it be a document that requires the approval of this Parliament? The Prime Minister has not told us any of these things. All he has said is that the Government has accepted the proposals of the United States and that the project will go ahead. In other words, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet do not care one iota what this Parliament thinks or what the people of Australia think. The Government, with its secrecy and behind the door tactics, has gone ahead regardless of the consequences. It could quite easily and unnecessarily - if we are to believe honourable members opposite - be creating a doubt or a fear in the minds of the people that the effects that could flow from this project are such as would cause consternation or turmoil.
The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) said that the project at Woomera is less, offensive than the one at North West Cape. The honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) told us that the establishment at North West Cape had established a principle and the proposed base at Woomera is only a carry-on. If that is so why have the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence refused to give any details of the Woomera project? As I said earlier, neither the honourable member for Angas nor the honourable member for Indi, nor any other honourable member on the other side for that matter, knows anything about the function of the proposed base or has the courage to demand to be told. The one thing that we can be certain of is that this will be a defence project and, even if it is concerned only with communications, as a defence project it will be a target for enemy offensive operations because of the great value and importance of communications in times of war. No doubt it would receive some priority for destruction even though Australia itself may not be involved in the actual war. We would be burying our heads in the sand like the ostrich if we were to believe that a country at war with America would leave such bases in Australia untouched if those bases were being used for communication purposes by America. Who is going to defend this base? Have we a guarantee that America will or will it be left to Australia? After all, we have a fairly large number of Australians at the North West Cape base and apparently we are going to have quite a number also at Woomera. The attitude of the Liberal Party was well illustrated by the Premier of Western Australia back in 1963 when he came back from America and said that he had details of the North West Cape project. He said that if there was a nuclear attack it would not matter anyway because there were only kangaroos and emus up there.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– As the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) has said, this is an important debate if only because it has shown the poorly thought out ideas put forward by members of the Opposition and how very often their reasoning has become clouded by their emotions. It is not surprising, when one considers the basis of the proposal to discuss this as a matter of urgent public importance, to find that it is one of the most absurd of such proposals ever to have been made in this House. Since a lot of debate has ensued since this matter was proposed for discussion we should clarify the situation in our minds. The position is that we in Australia have signed a treaty known as ANZUS which binds together Australia, New Zealand and the United States in a pact for mutual defence and support. This treaty is very favourable to Australia, especially as the powerful United States can guarantee our safety to a much greater degree than we could ever possibly guarantee the safety of the United States. I go further and say that it is utterly vital to Australia’s planning for the future, now that Britain is leaving the area, that we have powerful friends upon whom we can rely in any time of danger, though we hope that such danger will never eventuate. A quick look at history will show that any nation, wherever it may be, ceases to exist when it neglects its defences.
The present position is that the United States has asked Australia - as it is entitled to do because of the ANZUS Treaty- to establish a new defence centre at Woomera. All the experts agree completely - and for this we have also the word of the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) and tonight the assurance of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) - that this centre is not of an offensive nature but is of a defensive character.
Moreover, it is an integral part of a global defence scheme. These schemes are vital nowadays when weapon technology has reached its present state of sophistication. This new centre is obviously an extremely advanced one, probably the most advanced of its kind. It is obviously essential that the nature of such a station be kept completely secret and that no clue whatever be given as to its nature.
The centre will defend us as well as the rest of the free nations of the world. I have used this expression ‘the free nations of the world’ - it is the Prime Minister’s own expression - advisedly. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and quite a number of Opposition supporters have objected to this term. They say it is meaningless, but I am quite certain the people of Australia know just what it means. I agree that there are no absolutes here. There are many greys as well as blacks and whites, but I think we can point to some nations which have freely elected and independent parliaments such as Australia, New Zealand, Britain, the United States and others and say that these countries at least are relatively free. We can point to some other nations, the Communist nations, and say that the unfortunate people of those countries, oppressed by absolutist, doctrinaire, unrepresentative governments in the name of socialism, are not free. The governments of the largest of these nations, to wit, China and Russia, have by word and deed shown that they are irresponsible and aggressive imperialists and therefore a potential danger to peace and security. I understand the term free nations’ and I know the people of Australia understand it.
Secrecy is essential to the functioning of this defensive base which we have been discussing. Conversely, any indication of the general purposes - to use the term referred to in the proposal put forward by the Labor Party to discuss this matter - for which the base will bc used would clearly either be helpful to a potential enemy of Australia or it would certainly mean that the base would in fact never be established in Australia. In fact, it almost certainly would mean this. If the base was not established in Australia, because of a revelation or a threatened revelation of these matters, it is quite obvious that our relationship with
America would be weakened. The American nation would not trust us as much as it does and it would not be as ready to assist us should our time of need ever come. From these points of view it is obviously absurd that there should be a revelation of any characteristic of this base which might possibly reveal its true nature.
The Labor Party’s case is utterly weak and it is no wonder at all that the Leader of the Opposition, when launching his attack, resorted to invective and words like puerile’, ‘stupid’ and ‘fatuous’. When he was defending his case he had to resort to these words because invective is the only sort of attack available to use when one’s case is as weak as his case certainly is. We certainly could not expect a reasoned and dispassionate approach from his position of weakness. We heard tonight the Labor Party’s finest spokesman on foreign affairs, the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), who very often thrills the House with a magnificent discourse. Tonight his case was jejune and he resorted to a quick historical pastiche with a lot of analogies which were indeed false. This, T believe, highlights the weakness of the Labor Party’s case.
The people of this country can be reassured by this Government’s statements about this base. This Government and preceding governments have continued to raise Australia’s prestige in the world’s councils, and Australia is one of the countries whose word is trusted. The word of this Government can be trusted, as has been repeatedly shown. We take our stand on this basis and we are completely confident that the people of Australia will accept it, especially when we see that the only possible interpretation of the Labor Party’s standpoint on this matter is that we must not engage in any defensive activity because if we do we might upset a potential enemy. Of course this is fatal reasoning, but it is the reasoning of the Labor Party.
There are a number of points I would like to cover before closing, but I only have time for one, and that is the suggestion of danger to Australia in the event of a nuclear conflict, or that the fact that these bases exist might render us more likely to attack. I ask the House to consider the actuality of a possible nuclear attack, how it would be launched and the countries which would launch it. 1 put it to the House that the most likely eventuality would be an attack by a country devoid of reasoning in international affairs and blinded by hatred, lt is quite possible that in the near future such a country will have a capacity to launch a nuclear attack. I put it to the House that the presence of this base, which can only help to defend any nation which is the target of such a mad dog attack, could not render Australia more liable to attack. On the contrary it would render the defence of this country still more secure. For these reasons I completely commend the Government’s statement and completely endorse its stand. [Quorum formed.]
– As the honourable member for Bowman (Dr Gibbs) has no information upon which to base any assertions in this debate, apart from some very general information he may have picked up from the daily Press or similar news organs, I do not see how he can claim to speak with any authority on this subject. His effort tonight was a good example of the sort of performance we have seen in this debate. On the one hand we have the Opposition, which is complaining, quite legitimately, that there is a complete lack of information about the general purposes and possible consequences of joint defence installations and facilities in Australia. The Government has made it quite clear that, other than a few senior Ministers, nobody on the Government side has any information on the subject. Those few senior Ministers have no intention of divulging this information, not even in a general way. So we are deprived of the information and we are inspired to make this criticism in the House. At the same time we find honourable members opposite, such as the honourable member for Bowman, who epitomises the behaviour of back bench Government supporters, defending the Government’s policy, although they know no more about the Government’s policy - its involvement and its ramifications and the long term concept - than do we. Nevertheless the honourable member is prepared, as are all Government supporters who have spoken so far, blindly to endorse that policy. They bleat it like sheep, no doubt hopeful that they will benefit from the spillover of the pork and beans barrels of cronyism which is now the dynasty in control of the Government.
Tonight the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) contributed nothing which informed the House or the Australian community beyond what they already know on this subject, and they know nothing. His argument centred on the ANZUS treaty. Essentially his case was that we are committed under article II of the treaty to accede to America’s request to establish in Australia bases such as that proposed for Woomera and about which we know so little. This is humbug. The argument is completely in contradiction of the spirit and intent of the treaty and especially of article II. Of course we stand to gain much from our alliance with America. It is of crucial importance to the foreign policy of Australia and it should be an instrument of justice, peace and political, social and economic advancement. But this is not to say that We are obliged to make abject concessions every time the United States makes a request of us. This does not mean that we have to confess an abject yes to every query we receive from the United Slates. As a sovereign nation we are entitled to demand a full inquiry and full information on the implications of any request coming from any country. But one clearly gets the impression from what the Prime Minister said- I am sure that in the final analysis it is wrong - as well as from what the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) said, that the Government of this country is under an obligation to accede to any such request.
Those of us in the Australian communitywho are concerned about the way in which these space bases or tracking or communications bases are being established in this country are justified in feeling some concern and in asking for some information about the general implications of these arrangements. Australia is altogether too deeply involved in the chain of spy in the sky bases which the United States is operating. It is interesting to note that allocations in the United States budget for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have been declining in recent years whereas allocations for the space programme of the Department of Defence, which covers spy in the sky programmes, have been accelerating in greatly increasing amounts.
We are involved in this arrangement of bases which is part and parcel of the space programme of the United States Department of Defence.
At Honeysuckle Creek and Tidbinbilla near Canberra two bases are in operation ostensibly for peaceful civilian purposes, but they are being used also in connection with MILSAT control - control of military satellites. We have the base at North West Cape. A few years ago when this matter was debated in the House and members of the Opposition suggested that the base would make the area, and therefore Australia, a target for nuclear attack in time of nuclear war the suggestion was ridiculed.
In a Press statement on 23rd April the Minister for Defence confessed that in fact this is a very real probability - that in the event of nuclear war the North West Cape base would be a prime target. But this was denied a few years ago. We have in Tasmania a communications station used in conjunction with the Omega system. The station is used to provide positional fixes for Polaris carrying submarines and for spy aircraft, as they are called in the jargon of the time. We have the Pine Gap tracking station, which allegedly is for research purposes. But what are the implications of research? Does research equate with use of the atmosphere to develop spy probes through satellites? Does it involve this country as part of America’s ballistic missile warning defence arrangement? We do not know, and this is the point we make.
There is a complete lack of knowledge. The alarm and fear which this lack of knowledge encourages cause us to raise these matters in the Parliament and to ask for some general dissertation from the Government so that our alarm may be calmed. After all, if Australia is to be moved into the heartland of the world’s nuclear targets the Australian people have some justification for expecting some information on this subject. It is quite inappropriate for the Government to proceed under the shroud of secrecy in which it has wrapped itself. We are not prepared to accept the credibility of the Government as it would have us accept it, because our experience has indicated to us that this is a most unreliable credibility to have foisted upon us.
Quite obviously the tracking station at Pine Gap is being used in association with spy satellites. The two rad arms, each 150 feet long, plus the $200m electronics installation - highly complex, highly sensitive and extremely expensive - indicate that this installation is being used for highly developed work associated with satellite tracking and satellite warning. A lot of these satellites are designed to track across the Asian land mass - to track across China where, from 100 miles in space, they are able to discover what sort of crops are being sown, whether the crops are diseased arid the likely yield at the end of the season. They are able to track troop movements. They are able to report on all sorts of installations. They are able to report on shipping movements and a whole range of other activities. Clearly the latest addition to this range of stations - the one at Woomera - -will be a command centre communicating with satellites in the fractional orbital ballistic system - FOBS. No doubt in the long term this makes Australia a high priority target should there be a nuclear attack. In these circumstances, Australia and Australians are justified in being concerned. We in the Opposition are justified in expressing alarm on behalf of Australians and in demanding more inr formation on this subject.
– This debate has ranged over a wide area, but if I might in a few minutes, I would like to particularise a couple of points. What seem to be agitating the minds of members of the Opposition are, first, the idea expressed in the terms of their matter of public importance, which refers to the refusal by the Government to inform the Parliament and the public of the general purposes of the joint defence installation and facilities in Australia’. The other matter that seems to be causing the Opposition concern is that such an installation would provoke a nuclear attack. It is stated quite specifically that the space communication centre cannot be used to initiate aggression. The purpose of the centre is to support collective self-defence. It is purely defensive and is operated for passive action and for collective self-help.
Let us look at the proposition that has been put forward by the Opposition that the Government should inform Parliament and the general public. If we disclose the activities of these installations such information will be revealed to the enemy, or the prospective enemy - and there are enemies, taking them on their own written and stated words. These are countries that oppose the democratic systems of government. They have stated and re-stated that they mean to subject the rest of the world to their systems of government. If we disclose the direction of research the enemy will be able to implement measures to counter these installations. If we enter into conjecture over this matter and even if we contradict something, we can reveal points that will allow the enemy to isolate certain pieces of information and learn a great deal about these installations. If any advantage could be given away either deliberately or accidentally or by omission, we would be endangering the security of this country.
Non-disclosure of information in regard to these defence installations is a price which the United States quite rightly demands we should pay and expects us to pay as a partner in the ANZUS treaty. The Opposition professes support for our alliance with the United States but demands conditions concerning military installations in this country which are completely unacceptable to the only great powerful ally that we really have left in this area. Australia is the custodian of a vital link in the free world. Because of our geographical position Australia is a vital link. Is it wise for us to share the scientific and technical knowledge of the United States or is it not? Is it right and proper that we should accept this responsibility under the terms of our obligations of our alliance or is it not?
– You will drag us into war.
– There is no reason to suppose that we would be dragged into war at all. The position is quite the contrary because we are adequately prepared, and there is every reason to suggest that this would stop a nuclear power attacking us. Therefore, the object of a nuclear war would be neutralised.
It is utter nonsense to suggest that installations of this sort would provoke a war or that Australia would be attacked. If a war occurred, what would be attacked would be, tragically, our industrial complexes. The one sensible thing I have heard from the Opposition in this debate was a reference to civil defence. This is a very important matter. It is a well known and accepted fact around the world that Australia is one of the easiest targets to neutralise because this could be achieved with about three bombs. This is tragically true. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has said that information regarding these installations can be learned from American publications. He went on to say that the American Senate select committee had inquired into these things but had held a certain amount of its evidence in camera. Of course, it did. Naturally, a certain amount of information was deleted from its publications. We know and every sensible person realises that there are certain things within military spheres - naval, air and army - that are secrets and must be withheld by the people who control the country. These are the people who put these matters into operation.
The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) said that the construction of these installations has put Australia right into the heart of nuclear attacks. Let us not delude ourselves about this. If a nuclear war ever started - and God forbid it does not - an attack on Australia would not be judged on whether we had the installations to counteract such aggression. It would be judged on other things. It would be judged on our ability to assist the people who are resisting totalitarian countries. If we do not believe that there are dangers and if we do not believe we should be prepared for them, we are not fulfilling the obligation that we owe to succeeding generations. History is full of instances of countries which have not been prepared to fulfil their obligations and which have paid the price. Alliances under any circumstances demand preparedness and involve obligations. Undoubtedly they carry with them calculated risks. If we do not accept our obligations we cannot expect our allies to help fill their obligations.
Reference has been made to what was said in the past about North West Cape. It is interesting to note that certain members of the Opposition - not all - have repeated today in exactly the same terms what they said on those occasions. I believe that Australia, with its sister country New Zealand, must maintain and fulfil its alliances and its obligations, with the great United States of America. This is the only way in which we can maintain the security of this country. I wholeheartedly support what the Government has done on this occasion.
– On Anzac Day - a very hallowed and sacred day in the history of Australia - the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, in a leading article, had this to say:
Even the stoutest supporter of the alliance between Australia and the United States must ba perturbed by the proliferation of secret and semisecret American military bases in this country.
It went on to say:
It is impossible to believe that the purpose of these bases could not be explained in a way which would not reveal military secrets to the Russians and Chinese.
The article concluded in these lines:
No Australian Government should permit n secret station which could be used to initiate offensive action against another country without its knowledge and consent. This was the rule which Britain, for instance, quite rightly imposed on American nuclear bombers and missiles stationed in the United Kingdom. If we are really moving into an era of space weapons, of which there is absolutely no evidence as yet, then the Government should be very clear where it stands. Any other arrangement would plainly limit our independence and might, in certain circumstances, endanger the country without either the Government or the people of Australia having any opportunity to say no.
So arising out of fears so ably expressed by a journal permanently supporting this Government the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) moved today for a discussion of a matter of public importance on the Government’s refusal to inform the Parliament and publish all the general purposes and possible consequences of joint defence installations and facilities in Australia. If any proof were needed of the necessity to take such action, it was given tonight by the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St. John) who spoke in this Parliament so devastatingly against this project and so devastatingly against the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Government that the Government voted to prevent him from continuing his well justified attack on the very subject that we are discussing today. How long is it since a member of this Parliament who was elected on Government policy has stated that he no longer trusts Big Brother, as the honourable member described the Prime Minister, particularly on this issue? How long is it since we have seen such a devastating attack made on the integrity of the Government?
The honourable member for Warringah, in discussing this matter, accused the Government of hiding behind the badge of secrecy in order to hide its incompetence and its selling out of Australia’s interests in the interest of, as he said, nobody knows, but what is said to be for the purpose of defence. He stated that we in this Parliament are supposed to believe that what is good enough for America is good enough for Australia. Do honourable members opposite accuse the honourable member for Warringah of being anti-American? Do they accuse him of being pro-Communist? Indeed, to his eternal disgrace the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) almost did so tonight in this Parliament. Any smear is good enough to be levelled against honourable members on this side of the House if we question proposals brought in by this Government which challenge our birthright and our say over our people and in their welfare.
The proposal to establish this facility at Woomera is simply a result of a request made by the American authorities. The Prime Minister when he spoke in this Parliament on 23rd April said: . . I have to inform the House that the Government has accepted proposals which were made by the United States Government for the establishment in Australia of a joint United StatesAustralian defence space communication facility.
In other words, we are just blue-printing, endorsing and rubber-stamping policies which were presented to the Government by the United States of America which it will not explain and which it hides under the bond of secrecy. I am sick and tired of the fact that because we on this side of the Parliament are Australian and stand up for the Australian point of view, when we put the Australian attitude we are immediately accused of being antiAmerican. If being pro-Australian is being anti-American, then you can tar me with that brush, because I put this country above all other countries, including America. Immediately one doubts anything that the Government proposes, honourable members opposite say: ‘You are antiAmerican. You are opposed to our great allies.’ What a lot of rot that is. At the same time as one doubts the introduction of some United States proposal into Australia one can support the Americans as people and what they are doing for the free world. But that does . not mean that one has to deny his right to stand up for the things in which Australians believe and which are in the interests of the Australian people. This is the smear which is constantly levelled against us.
The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) asked: ‘What are you complaining about?’ He said: ‘Australia will retain full title to the land’. Is it not lovely to think that the Americans are setting up a secret base in Australia but that we can still retain the title to our land? What an awful proposal to bring before the people of this country under the guise of defence? As honourable members opposite know, we are now the centre of a nuclear area. In the event of a nuclear war this country will be the first target. When the Russians sought to set up certain missile bases in Cuba, that would have threatened America, the’ Americans did not hesitate to do something. They almost brought on a world war in order to prevent the setting up of these bases. Why should Russia adopt a different attitude if missile bases are established in this country and if we are spying on them and doing the things for doing which aircraft have been shot down and ships attacked in other parts of the world?
The point which the Opposition makes is quite clear. We do not object to allies being assisted. We do not object’ to playing our part in the defence of the free world. But we resent being involved in agreements which will involve us in a nuclear war and in which we will have no say. When we ask the Government of the day what is the position regarding this base, it says: ‘lt is secret. We can’t tell you anything about it’. The Leader of the Opposition today read out a quotation from a transcript of the interview which was given by the Minister for Defence on this important question, lt was more like a chapter from a Laurel and Hardy story than a transcript from a very important conference. I will not go over that interview, but the Leader of the Opposition quoted what were really silly and flippant answers on an important question which involves not only defence but ultimately the lives of thousands of people in this country. Who forgets Hiroshima and the tragedy that that was? Because of this Government’s policy, we are in the front line of a future nuclear war. I make no bones about that. The Labor Party’s policy is quite clear and definite on this point. Any fair thinking person will understand that policy, which reads:
Labor is opposed to the existence of foreignowned, controlled or operated bases in Australian territory, especially if such bases involve a derogation from Australian sovereignty.
Labor is not opposed to the use of Australian bases by Allies in war time, or in periods of international tension involving a threat to Australia, provided, .that Australian authority and sovereignty are unimpaired, and provided that Australia is not involved in hostilities without Australia’s consent.
Not one honourable member opposite at this stage can assure the Australian people that any of those conditions will be fulfilled. They do not know what will happen when this base is established in Australia. What a strange thing it is that the Government will not allow one member of this Parliament to view the base and. see what is going on. One honourable member opposite said that the establishment of this base at Woomera is good for industry in South Australia. So would a concentration camp be good for industry in South Australia, but. would we tolerate one in this country? No Minister and no member of the Opposition is to be allowed to inspect this base. As the honourable member for Warringah said; under the guise of secrecy the Government is hiding from the light of day the fact it is setting up in this country a number of missile bases which involve us as the. front line target in the event of conflict occurring in the future. Where will it all end? The Government started with the North West Cape communication station which it said was an innocuous proposition. But since then 10 or 12 stations have been established. Sooner or later some honourable members in this Parliament have to call a halt to the setting up of these bases. They have to ask: ‘Where does it stop?’ Unless they do, this country will be sold out by honourable members opposite, under the guise of defence. At the same time honourable members opposite will be betraying our birthright and giving away Australian territory. The Government will have no control over actions taken which might affect the welfare of countless thousands of people in this country. I am not antiAmerican. I am pro-Australian. If this is the basis of American support, it is nearly time that somebody in Government got up in this Parliament and said: ‘lt has to be on a better basis, more to our satisfaction and more in keeping with our traditions, otherwise it is not acceptable to the Australian people.’
– The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) has quoted the policy of the Australian Labor Party on this matter, and I think that I should repeat some portion of it. This statement of policy of the Labor Party on the question of bases is, as usual, unequivocal1 and unambiguous, and it is binding on all members of the Labor Party. lt was determined after the establishment of the base at North West Cape, around May 1963. It is as follows:
Labor is opposed to the existence of foreignowned, controlled or operated bases in Australian territory, especially if such bases involve a derogation from Australian sovereignty.
The North West Cape base does involve a derogation from Australian sovereignty, lt is American owned and American controlled. We have no say in anything that is done there. We could be involved in war because of what happens there. At that particular time in .1963 we were very apprehensive about what was happening. The Prime Minister of the day, Sir Robert Menzies, said that it was a communication base, and he spoke about submarines in the Pacific. But the base developed into something much more important than that. It was so important that I remember speaking about it to a very distinguished and one of the most brilliant scientists of the time, Sir John Cockcroft, Chancellor of the Australian National University. I asked him: Could not satellites do the work that the North West Cape base is supposed to do?’ He said: ‘In a few years time, yes.’ There is no need for the base at North West Cape to communicate with submarines because signals can be bounced off satellites and reach down into the depths of the ocean. But we have reached another situation. This Woomera base project goes much further than that. I have read some scientific journals and I find that the satellite through which signals are to be transmitted to Woomera is not something related to weather and is not something to inform the American authorities of some danger or other. Satellites containing nuclear weapons can be launched into space and they can be triggered to fire those weapons at any point or points at which it is desired to direct them. So Australia becomes involved in the possibility of another war, a nuclear war - a third world war. What have we to gain from it? We have no arrangements under the ANZUS treaty for this sort of thing. All that the ANZUS treaty says is that the participating nations shall consult on matters affecting their own security. Has New Zealand been involved in any discussion? There is no word from the New Zealand Prime Minister that New Zealand is involved.
I fear for this sort of thing. This is just another one of the bases that are being set up on Australian soil to which the Australian Labor Party is completely opposed. We will not agree to a derogation of Australian sovereignty even though it is suggested that this particular base will be jointly owned and jointly controlled. There is no need for it, and it should not exist at all As the honourable member for Grayndler said, our policy goes further and says tha: we would not be opposed to bases in time of war or in time of an imminent threat of war, but why should we be engaged in this sort of thing in peace time? The Government’s case is not based on any sound strategic factor. The Government is putting forward an argument which has no validity at all. This is an election year. In 1969 the Government wants the support of the Americans and it wants to frighten the Australian people into the belief that unless we go along with the Americans Australia will be in danger. The slogan of 1966 was All the way with LBJ’.
– Now it is ‘All the way with the USA’.
– No, it is not. The Government’s policy for 1969, another election year, can be crystallised into the slogan: Tick, tick with tricky Dick’. I am opposed to all this sort of thing. The late Dr Evatt. in his speech on the Security Treaty (Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America) Bill on 28th February 1952 supported the proposed pact but he argued that Britain should be admitted as a pa imer to the pact. Churchill demanded this, but the Americans ruled Churchill out. In later years I asked Dean Acheson why that had happened and he said: ‘Because America is not going to support the remnants of British colonialism in Malaya. Let the British look after themselves.’ Dr Evatt, in this chamber, supported the Churchill plea but the Menzies Government rejected it because it wanted to go along with the Americans at that particular time.
We have reached the stage where not only do we have American bases on our soil but we are serfs of the Americans. Whatever the Americans want to do, we have to do it too. We opposed the third reading of the United States Naval Communication Station Agreement Bill on 22nd May 1963 in the only way provided under the Standing Orders and that was by dividing the House on the question that the Bill be read in 6 months time. We failed in 1963 to stop the establishment of the North West Cape project, but some day a Labor government will be returned to power in this Parliament and on that occasion we will not be bound by anything that has happened before.
– Who will be the leader?
– I do not know who will be the leader, but I do know that General de Gaulle was toppled yesterday. He seemed to be impregnable and he had been in office for 11 years. This Government will go out of office some day. It will go but of office, of course, when that awful collection of sectarian bigots called the Democratic Labor Party passes out of existence. That is the only way by which this Government remains in office, lt gets the support of the mentally bovine people who are so afraid of a Communist rush from China, which will never eventuate, that they decide to maintain wooden headed Liberals in control of the government of this country. That situation will change, and when it does change there will be sweeping changes of the policy decided by the present Government and now in operation.
All foreign bases in Australia ought to go. I believe, as I have always believed, in a nuclear free Southern Hemisphere”. Wc have divided the House on that. 1 believe that Australia is too big a country with too small a population to be used or misused by foreign powers. Australia ought to get out of every filthy Asian war in which she is now involved - in Malaysia and in Vietnam. All our troops should be brought home right now and there ought to be no future involvement of Australia in any Asian war or any other war. Twelve million people would have great difficulty in holding 3 million square miles of this earth’s territory. In 50 years time we will have only 50 million people and even 50 million people will find it difficult to maintain the integrity of this country. Why should we fritter away our future? Why should we endanger the lives of our children and our children’s children by becoming involved in the projects which this Government puts forward and which it says wrongly, unfairly and unjustly, in an election year, must be implemented because it is for the security of this nation?
– Firstly, I want to mention what the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) spoke about in relation to the Omega system. He referred to this as an accomplished fact, but Omega is only an idea which is being studied by an American scientific group. No proposal has been made to Australia concerning this system. In any case it is only a navigational aid with no capacity for communications whatsoever. The honourable member also talked about Pine Gap being a S200m installation. This has been refuted time and time again by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall). The amount is only a figment of the honourable member’s imagination. If we traverse all the Opposition’s ideas on defence we will realise that there could not be a more negative defence policy. The Opposition says that we must sign the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons straight away. It has no regard for installations designed to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The Opposition says we should sign the Treaty and depend on the goodwill of other people.
When the Opposition discusses chemical and gas warfare it suggests that we should not conduct laboratory tests in respect of the use of such means of warfare. Apparently we should let the Australian populace be the dupes of a potential enemy who could use this method of warfare against us. Apparently we are not to make any scientific investigations of this matter in order to prevent the potential enemy that the Opposition has such kindly feelings for from attacking Australia. Within the last 5 years, China’s nuclear warfare potential has advanced materially. Only 5 years ago it did not have an atomic bomb; now it has a nuclear warhead and within 2 years from now it is predicted that it will have the means of propulsion. Yet we hear all this waffle and stupid talk because we are joining with our great, friendly ally that has made such sacrifices for the defence of the free world.
The free world was scathingly and comtemptuously referred to by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). He cynically asked: ‘What does that mean?’ This man speaks about regional planning. A potential enemy has a prime target contained in a rectangle extending 200 miles from Wollongong past Newcastle with a depth of 50 miles. An enemy would not need to allow a margin for error with such a target as that. But Opposition members say that we are inviting a nuclear attack by putting this installation at Woomera. How stupid can you get? The greatest industrial complex in Australia is contained in a rectangle of 200 miles by 50 miles. An enemy could take the coast line as a guide and any nuclear warhead that it sent towards Australia could not possibly miss its mark. But the Leader of the Opposition speaks about regional planning. He says nothing about decentralisation or opening the great harbours of the north coast of New South Wales. He believes in concentrating all the people in and around Sydney so that with one blast an enemy could account for them. That is his idea of preserving Australia.
The honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) criticised the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) for the shortness of his statement. He also criticised the Minister for Defence for the answers he gave at a Press conference. But the Minister for Defence did not give any secrets away and the enemy did not get any advantage from his remarks. If he confirmed or denied a suggestion, the enemy could, by deduction, rule out certain possible uses that could be made of this complex. The Minister for Defence was so astute that he gave away none of the secrets. When we see the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) commiserating with and speaking with the Third Secretary of the Russian Embassy in this very House four or five times over the past month, can we wonder why our American allies want this installation to be kept a secret and impose this secrecy upon us? Here we have a member of the Opposition fraternising with a potential enemy.
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston)Order! J remind the honourable member for Mitchell, as I reminded the House earlier this afternoon, that any imputation about a member’s conduct or character is strictly out of order.
– Mr Speaker,I am not hurt about it.
– He is very happy with the situation, and this shows up how careful we must be. Over the broad spectrum of the last 15 years.-
– Order! The extended time for the discussion of the matter of public importance has expired. The discussion is now concluded.
– I move:
Customs Ta riff Proposals (No. 7) (1969).
Mr Speaker, the customs Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled, relate to proposed amendments of the Customs Tariff 1966- 1969. The amendments, which will operate from tomorrow morning, incorporate changes consequent on the adoption by the Government of a report by the Special Advisory Authority on band saw blades. The Authority found that the Australian manufacturer is suffering from the severe competition from imports and has recommended that urgent protection be provided by means of a temporary duty of121/2% ad valorem on all band saw blades except for a welded type which is in a higher price bracket than the locally produced blades. The additional duty represents holding action pending inquiry and report by the Tariff Board.
Also included in the proposals are amendments in respect of certain stainless steel plate, sheet, hoop and strip, currently subject to temporary duties. The new duties are in accordance with the recommendations of the Tariff Board in a report covering a wider range of alloy steel products. The Board’s report is not being released at this stage pending international negotiations. Other changes incorporated in the proposals are of an administrative nature only. For example, following international consultations the preferential rate on rapeseed oil has been restored to its former level. A summary of all the changes made by the Proposals is being circulated to honourable members, I commend the Proposals to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Reports on Items
– Pursuant to statuteI present a report by the Special Advisory Authority on the following subject:
Bund saw blades.
I also present reports by the Tariff Board on:
Codeine and its salts (Dumping and Subsidies
Neither report calls for legislative action.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
– by leave -I move:
That Customs Tariff Proposals Nos 17 to 20 (1968) and Nos 1 to 4 (1969), constituting part of Order of the Day No. 38. Government Business, be discharged.
These proposals were incorporated in Customs Tariff Bill 1969, which has now been assented to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Business of the House
– I move:
That the House do now adjourn.
I have to explain to the House that earlier tonight a procedural point arose and I do not think it was quite understood by some honourable members. As we all know, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) raised a matter of public importance earlier today.I asked for leave to move that the time allowed for the debate be extended and that leave was not granted. I then moved that the Standing Orders be suspended and the Leader of the Opposition voted against my motion. He would not grant me an extension of the time allowed for the debate. Knowing that I needed an absolute majority - it is 62 in this House - for a motion to suspend the Standing Orders to be carried, I asked the Government Whip to bring in the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Opposition Whip to bring in the Leader of the Opposition. The Government Whip went for the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister came in. The Opposition Whip went out to bring the Leader of the Opposition in. I followed the Opposition Whip because I thought that perhaps it would be necessary for me to go and tell the Leader of the Opposition myself, but as the Opposition Whip went through the Leader of the Opposition’s door I knew that he would be asking the Leader of the Opposition to come into the House. When the Whip returned to this chamber I asked him whether he had told the Leader of the Opposition and he said that he had done so, but the Leader of the Opposition did not come into the House. I want to explain that it was at my request, first of all, that the Prime Minister came into the House. I took every opportunity that was available to me to bring the Leader of the Opposition into the House, but he refused to do so.
– Mr Speaker, this is the second occasion within an hour that the long established traditions of this House have been broken. The Leader of the House (Mr Erwin) has made a speech in which he has made reference to me. The etiquette, the sound practice, in the chamber is that if anybody is to be mentioned in the debate on the motion for the adjournment that member is advised that he will be mentioned. I was given no message by the Leader of the House, with whom I enjoy good personal relations nor was I given a message by my Whip or by any other person that the Leader of the House proposed to speak at this stage and to mention me in his speech. I happened to hear that he was speaking on this matter through the reproduction system which is in all our rooms. Accordingly, I have come in.
The other matter in which long established practice has been broken Involved the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) himself. I have been a member of this chamber for over 16 years. I have been
Deputy Leader or Leader of one of the parties for over 9 years. I can therefore with confidence assert that the position is that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have a standing pair. The only time when they vote is when they contact each other and agree that they will do so. This occurs, for instance, when either of them moves a motion and has to vote in support of it or when a motion is moved about either and he has to vote in vindication of himself. For instance, when the Leader of the Opposition moves a motion on the Budget Speech, it is the habit for him to vote in support of his motion and for the Prime Minister to vote against it, Again, if any person moves a motion of no confidence in the Government, the Prime Minster votes against that motion. This has been the practice, until tonight, under the three Prime Ministers and the three Leaders of the Opposition during the period that I have been a member of this House. For more than half that time I have been an office bearer in the House. The Prime Minister could have contacted me. He does it from time to time, and I have contacted him. There can never be any doubt that if a telephone call comes from the Prime Minister’s office I immediately go to the telephone. There has never been any hesitation ot difficulty in this regard.
On this occasion the Prime Minister departed from the proper procedure, apparently communicating with me through the Whips. This was never the means of communication followed by Mr Harold Holt or Sir Robert Menzies. It was never the form of communication adopted by Dr Evatt or the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell). The Prime Minister could have contacted me himself. This would have been the courteous and proper thing to do. Even if the Prime Minister is contemptuous of precedent and practice it would surely have been the proper way to contact me. He has never had any difficulty in doing it personally hitherto. It is my duty, I believe, to help in the workings of this chamber. The Prime Minister is now entering the House.
– My lord has come.
– It is better than lurching in as he last did on such an occasion. The Prime Minister broke an agreement in a fashion that neither of his immediate predecessors would have done. He broke it in a way that neither of my immediate predecessors would have accepted. I accept this unilateral repudiation of the standing pair between the Prime Minister and myself. I shall vote in every division until the election.If the Prime Minister wishes to reestablish the standing pair which he inherited and which I inherited, and which I have always honoured, he can contact me himself, not through the Whips. He can contact me in the way that his predecessors and mine hitherto have conducted their relations. Until further notice I shall vote in all divisions.
– I am perfectly happy to accept the suggestion by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) that both he and I should vote in all divisions if that is what he wishes to occur. But I find it a little difficult to follow the logic of the argument which he has tonight advanced.
– You usually find it difficult at this hour.
– 1 usually find it difficult to follow any logic, or alleged logic, that you advance because it is not logical. But on this particular occasion, Mr Speaker, it is, I think, not contested that a message was sent to the Leader of the Opposition through his own Whip, as I understand it, in time for him to enter the House, which he had just left.
– And there was time for you to contact me.
– The message was sent in time for me to enter the House and in time for both of us to vote. As far as I can understand from having listened to the Leader of the Opposition, everything would have been all right as far as he is concerned had I rung him up, but apparently it is wrong if a message is sent to him through his own Whip indicating that I intend to vote in a division.
If this is the basis on which he rests, that a telephone call is satisfactory but a message from his own Whip is not, then I can only repeat that that logic is very difficult to follow. But if on that basis he wishes to maintain what he has now said, that he will vote in every division, then so shall I. It will be quite ridiculous and unnecessary, and it will be time consuming for him and time consuming for me. But surely the major point in this is that when there is a standing pair, as there is on this occasion, then all that is necessary to see that that agreement of a standing pair is not broken is that prior information should be given either by him to me or by me to him.It does not seem to me that that necessarily has to be done by telephone; it could be done by my own Whip to him or by his own Whip to me, as was done on this occasion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
What quantities of timber and limber products were imported from New Zealand during the past 5 years?
Mr NIXON- The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The Commonwealth Statistician has supplied the attached tables showing imports from New Zealand of timber and timber products for the financial years 1963/64-1967/68. He has advised that the break-up for the first 2 years is based on the Statistical Classification of Exports and Imports while the information for the period 1965/66-1967/68 is compiled according to the Australian Import Commodity Classification which became operative on 1st July 1965 and which is based on the standard International Trade Classification (Revised).
Education: Government Schools - Full-time Teachers (Question No.1163)
asked the Minister for
Education and Science:
How many full-time teachers were employed in government (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in 1963, 1964, I965, 1966, 1967 and 1968?
Can he now give an amended form of Table 81 (Estimated Numbers of Teachers Required in Government Schools, 1964-75) of the Martin
Report in the light of predictions of enrolments subsequent to those upon which that table was originally based (Hansard, 26 November 1968, page 3284)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is contained in the following tables:
1-ull-time Teachers Employed in Government Schools
An Amended Form of Table 81 of the Martin Report
Estimated Numbers of Teachers Required in Government Schools 1969-1975
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer lo the honourable member’s question:
The Commonwealth Statistician has supplied the attached tables showing imports of cheese and other dairy products by country of origin for the years 1963-64 to 1967-68. He has advised that the classification for these commodities was changed on 1st July 1965 when the new Australian Import Commodity Classification was introduced. This, however, caused only minor changes in the descriptions of items and did not significantly affect the continuity of the figures.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
To what companies and for what amounts and purposes has the Australian Resources Development Bank made loans in excels of $1 million other than those he mentioned in his speech of 25 February (Hansard, page 19)7
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: 1 am advised that to 13 March 1969 the Australian Resources Development Brink had approved loans totalling $136.5 million. In most cases these represent the re-financing of loans Bade by the trading banks. The Resources Bank nas provided the following information in relation to loans where there has already been public disclosure -
In other cases, having regard to the longestablished principles governing banker/customer relationships, the Resources Bank is precluded from disclosing details of die loans without the authority of the customer concerned. However, the Bank has advised that the remaining loans totalling $15 million have been approved for companies engaged in the bauxite/alumina, coal, salt, forestry, mineral sands and tin industries.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
What would be the extra cost of making Commonwealth scholarships available at the maximum rate without means test?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Commonwealth scholarships whose benefits are subject to a means test are those provided under the Commonwealth University Scholarship Scheme and the Commonwealth Advanced Education Scholarship Scheme, and it is estimated that for the calendar year 1969 the total cost of benefits to be paid under these schemes will amount to $l7m, comprising $6.5ni on living allowance and $10.5m on fees. If the maximum rates of living allowance were paid to holders of these scholarships, without means test, an estimated $T2.3m would be added to this figure for 1969.
Costs of By-elections (Question No. 1337)
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Repatriation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
On what dates and aspects have Commonwealth and New South Wales Ministers and officials consulted about the suspension of work on the Sydney Technical College?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I assume that the question refers lo the development of the Broadway site of the New South Wales Institutes of Technology and Business Studies. 1 am aware of delays which have occurred in the construction of this building but I have not personally been involved in discussions. The Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education has had frequent discussions on progress in New South Wales during this triennium and on plans for development in the next triennium. The delay has been due to reconsideration by the State of its overall plans for this sector of education.
Tumbarumba Shire Council - Allocation of Aid Roads Funds (Question No. 1314)
asked the Minister for
Shipping and Transport upon notice:
Were Commonwealth Aid Road funds involved in the improper allocation of road funds for which the New South Wales Government dismissed the Tumbarumba Shire Council on 19th March 19697
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The full reasons for the dismissal are known only to the State Government. Commonwealth grants for roads are made available to State Governments which in turn allocate the funds to local authorities. So far as the Commonwealth is concerned, it accepts the certificate of the State Auditor General that such funds have been properly expended.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 April 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1969/19690429_reps_26_hor63/>.