26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr DOBIE presented from certain citizens of the Commonwealth a petition showing that because of increased costs of educating children attending Catholic schools relief is urgently required.
The petitioners pray that, as a first step in 1969 towards relieving the immediate difficulties of Catholic schools in Australia, the Commonwealth Government make grants available equivalent to a capitation grant of $50 per primary and secondary pupil, per annum, for running costs, in whatever form the Government finds it is able to make the grant and that, subsequently, the combined Commonwealth and State subsidies for running costs should be progressively raised to at least half the cost of educating a primary and secondary child in the various State systems.
Petition received and read.
– Does the Minister for Social Services recall the many speeches he made during his long days as a backbench member of the Government in which he appealed to the Government to abolish the means test, increase the rate of pensions and grant greater justice to pensioners? Or has his memory become clouded and has he lost his enthusiasm?
-Order! The honourable gentleman will ask his question.
– If he can recall those statements will he inform the House when he intends to translate his words into actions and introduce legislation to grant an increase in pensions and abolish the means test? Has he made any attempt to convince the Cabinet of the urgent need for action or will the pensioners have to wait for the return of a Labor government at the next election before receiving justice?
– I suppose I could take the technical point that the Minister for Social Services is not ministerially responsible for the past utterances of the honourable member for Mackellar, but that is a point that 1 do not intend to take. I can assure the honourable member that 1 have not lost my enthusiasm for these causes. I can assure him that the matters he speaks of are before the Government. For the sake of the pensioners, I hope that they will not have to wait for these improvements until the very long future day when a Labor government might perhaps be in power.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Army. Considering the demands that are made on our present day infantrymen serving in a combat zone - for instance, we expect them to be diplomats, civil aid workers and public relations officers as well as soldiers; and, in fact, we expect them to be the greatest specialists of all - will the Minister consider issuing combat infantrymen with a special badge to indicate the people’s appreciation of the magnificent job they are doing?
– I can appreciate the honourable member’s interest in this matter having regard, of course, to his former service as an infantry officer. There is no doubt that the infantry men have given magnificent service in Vietnam. Whilst other corps have been involved, the infantry has in fact carried the brunt of the fighting and has discharged this responsibility in an exemplary manner. The concept of a combat infantryman’s badge is one that has been introduced in several armies throughout the world, including that of the United States of America, to lift the status of infantry and to recognise and identify those soldiers who are in fact involved in the sharp end of military operations. I can tell the honourable member that this proposal in fact is receiving the serious consideration at the present time of the Military Board. It is a proposal that has obvious merits, although the merits must be balanced against the tradition of the Australian Army and against the overornamentation of soldiers’ uniforms. Because the matter is before the Board it would be improper for me to canvass the pros and cons. However the honourable member can be assured that the matter is under close and continuing consideration and when I am in a position to advise faim of the decision that has been made I will do so.
– My question is addressed lo the Prime Minister. Has the Government considered taking the same action as its predecessor of 50 years ago in offering a prize for a Britain to Australia air race terminating in Adelaide, the home of the late Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith, who won the earlier prize?
– If the honourable member is talking about the air race which 1 think he is talking about, then the Government is prepared to make a contribution towards the prize money for that race. I am not quite sure which race he is talking of, but I dc remember agreeing that we would make a contribution for an air race from England to Australia.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. Has the Ministers attention been drawn to the articles written by the Honourable D. Dunstan in New York and circulated in South Australia last Monday? Has the Minister read the article headed ‘Open Our Doors’ in which Mr Dunstan referred to America’s ‘grave problems with its racial minorities’ and contended that ‘we must urgently do away with the white Australia policy and open our doors to balanced immigration from any country in the world’? Will the Minister comment on this statement from the viewpoint of the Governments policy?
-The comment would be out of order. The honourable member may ask the Minister for some information regarding the subject matter raised in this question, but to ask him for comment is out of order.
– The position is, Mr Speaker, that the gentleman to whom I referred is a former Premier of South Australia and is very interested in immigration. Is the State Government’s policy on this question the same as that of the Federal Government?
– The policy on this matter is a policy of the Australian Government and cannot be a policy of a State government. I did read the article the honourable member referred to. It was over the signature of Mr Dunstan. After I had read it, the aspect which struck me as the most remarkable was the article’s assumption that Australia could attract very large numbers of people of a different race, and, having done so, could escape the problems which other countries throughout the world have experienced as a result of large numbers of people of a different race coming into them. In fact, the policy of the Australian Government is to admit people of non-European race if they answer the criteria which we have established in policy. Numbers of people are coming into Australia pursuant to that pol’icy. The result therefore is that I should say that our policy is not an exclusionist policy. I think it is certainly not a policy which is directed towards the creation of a multi-racial society.
-Order! The honourable member for Wills is again interjecting. At almost every question time I have to ask him to restrain himself. I shall’ give him no further warning on this occasion.
– I had reached the point of saying that our policy, while not exclusionist, is certainly not directed to the creation of a multi-racial society in Australia. I think it is worth saying that as far as I am able to ascertain no country in the history of the world has ever aimed to have a multi-racial society. Many countries do have multi-racial societies, and where they do exist it requires effort to achieving the aspirations of the separate races, and that is not a position which the Australian Government would wish to encounter.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. The Minister will recall telling the House recently that the upgrading of the Royal Australian Air Force base at Learmonth was still under consideration. I ask: Was it not announced prior to the test election that the base was then scheduled for upgrading? Was it not also announced that arrangements were in hand to transfer a workforce from a base in the Northern Territory to Learmonth to do the work? If this is correct can the Minister now tell the House why the Government failed to proceed with the job, and can he say why further consideration became necessary? Can he also say when the next decision is likely to be made?
– I inform the honourable member in air force terminology that the base at Learmonth is referred to as a ‘bare’ base. It has at present limited capabilities for use in operational and navigational flying training exercises, but there is a programme under consideration at the moment to improve and extend the runways, taxiways and the hard standing surfaces as well as accommodation facilities at the airfield.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. In view of the constantly increasing urgency for the provision of legislation for the future of the Snowy Mountains HydroElectric Authority team can the Minister advise the House of the present stage reached in the preparation of that legislation and when it can be expected to come to the Parliament.
– The honourable member for Eden-Monaro has been a most persistent questioner of me on this matter, both in this House and in my office. I am sorry that I am not able to give him any further information on this at this stage. It had been my hope that I would be able to introduce legislation during this session but as there are still some ends to tidy up in this matter I am afraid that this will not be possible, but I do expect to introduce this legislation early in the next session.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. It relates to the present position in Malaysia. I understand from reports that parliamentary government has in fact been suspended. Will the Prime Minister give an undertaking that Australia will give no support by way of arms to that government until the parliamentary democracy is fully restored?
– In answer to a question, yesterday I pointed out to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that requests had been made to the Australian Government for equipment and assistance under the defence aid programme and that when the details of ali that was required had been received we would consider the matter as a government, and I do not propose to state beforehand what decision the Government would arrive at on such a policy matter.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Interior. No doubt he is aware of the demand in the Darwin Press for an inquiry into allegations made by a person known as Mrs X about the treatment she received at the hands of the Northern Territory police and about the condition and the standard of the Darwin police cells. Can the Minister advise me what is the present situation regarding an inquiry into these allegations? Can he assure the House that everything will be done to improve conditions for persons held in cells in the Northern Territory?
– The situation is that a woman known as Mrs X was in a cell in the Darwin gaol and made allegations that the cell lacked privacy and that both the Northern Territory police on duty and other prisoners could watch her going about her daily ablutions. Immediately I got this report I asked the Commissioner of Police in the Northern Territory to make a full report to me. That report has been made and it is on its way to me by Ansett Airlines of Australia or Trans-Australian Airlines. In the meantime the Legislative Council has passed a resolution that the Administrator’s Council should institute a board of inquiry into the allegations and also into the conditions of the Darwin police station generally and of police stations, police cells or gaols throughout the Northern Territory. This information has only reached me by telex, but I understand that that is what has been decided by the Legislative Council. Consequent upon that, I will be appointing a board of some sort to inquire into the situation.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of President Nixon’s recent speech indicating that the United States will accept a freely elected coalition government including Communists in Saigon, will he now make clear his Government’s attitude, since it has departed from the Waltzing Matilda policy, in not allowing Australian troops to hand over gradually to South Vietnamese as the allies are doing?
– I think the honourable member is under a misapprehension. I have not seen a speech made by President Nixon stating that he was in favour of or was prepared to accept a coalition government or not prepared to accept a coalition government. The speech I remember made by President Nixon was that he was prepared to have the South Vietnamese select a government of their own choosing and that people of all kinds and belief would be free to stand for election when that took place. Now, Mr Speaker, that provides for the people of South Vietnam, as long as such an election is held without the fear of terror or intimidation or murder, to select a government of their own choosing and not have one imposed upon them, and that has been the objective as far as Australia is concerned which we have sought.
– Has the attention of the Minister for National Development been drawn to a reported statement following a speech made by the Leader of the Opposition at a symposium on water resources in New South Wales recently? In this speech he mentioned that a water resources authority should be established and that it should be prepared to consider radical schemes including the proposal to turn Lake Eyre into an inland sea. Did the Leader of the Opposition discuss this proposal with the Minister or his Department before he advocated a national authority which should be prepared to investigate it? Does the Minister believe thai there is any merit in such a proposal?
– I rise to order. The Standing Orders require that an honourable member should authenticate any newspaper report on which he bases a question. The honourable member has not purported to do that. In fact, he could not. 1 do not recollect ever having endorsed or launched such a proposition.
-Does the honourable member vouch for the accuracy of the statement?
– The statement appeared in the Wagga ‘Daily Advertiser’-
– Order! I am asking the honourable gentleman: Does he vouch for the accuracy of the statement?
-The honourable member vouches for the accuracy of the statement. Therefore, the Minister is entitled to reply.
- Mr Speaker, 1 would be going only on a newspaper report in which T saw that the Leader of the Opposition had advocated that there should be a national water conservation authority and that one of the things that it might look into was the filling of Lake Eyre. All I can say is that I have looked at this matter on a number of occasions because 1 get a considerable number of letters from people, the bulk of whom I would regard as cranks or crackpots, who do advocate this similar scheme. I say that advisedly because when one looks at this particular scheme one finds that the evaporation that takes place in Lake Eyre annually is about 8 feet. If the lake were to be filled with a surface area of 3,000 square miles of water, this would require a flow of about 21,000 cusecs to maintain. This is probably slightly larger than the River Murray could take. This would mean cutting a channel of about 90 miles to a depth in some places of 200 feet.
In addition, there is no evidence whatsoever scientifically that this project would have the least effect on the climate to the east. In fact, I point out to the House that in the case of the Red Sea there is a large amount of water between two of the greatest deserts in the world. So, I believe that, all in all, there is not very much merit in the suggestion which is alleged to have been put forward by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I ask the Minister for National Development: Now that the Government supports the implementation of nuclear power stations in Australia, will he say when it is expected that the first nuclear power station will come into operation in New South Wales, and where is it likely to be located?
– Not in the honourable members electorate.
– I hope not. Is the cost of nuclear power expected to be cheaper than thermal power? Is the coal mining industry expected to suffer any economic setbacks, as a result of the introduction of nuclear power, similar to what it suffered 10 years or 12 years ago with the introduction of mechanisation in coal mines?
– The Commonwealth Government has stated consistently that the introduction of nuclear power in Australia is a matter for the electricity authorities concerned. When these authorities believe that they can generate power more cheaply through nuclear rather than through thermal, hydro or any other method of power generation, they will make a decision themselves. The Commonwealth Government has stated certain rules which it will see are applied when nuclear power is introduced. At the present moment in New South Wales there are ample supplies of very high grade coal and it is believed that probably at this time there is a slight bias in favour of thermal stations instead of nuclear stations.
This is a most difficult question to work out. It depends on certain assumptions which are made as to the cost of finance taking into account the interest rate which is paid. In the case of a nuclear power station, a greater capital cost initially is involved but very much cheaper fuel costs follow. A coal fired station is cheaper to build but more expensive to run. A great many other questions arise such as what sort of credit is given for the plutonium that is produced, which influence the cost at which power can be produced. So, it is not easy to say with any certainty which is the cheaper method. Nevertheless, I feel certain that if and when nuclear power is introduced in any of the States it will not supplant the normal thermal plants; there will still be a need for both. This is because the rate of consumption of power in Australia is increasing considerably each year. Even after the introduction of nuclear power stations it will be necessary for a considerable time to set up further coal fired stations.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Interior. ls the Minister aware of reports that the United States Government has provided shelter from nuclear attack for over 200 million people in that country? Is the Minister able to inform the House of the provision the Australian Government is making to protect the people living in capital cities and elsewhere from nuclear attack?
– I have not read the reports to which the honourable member refers. I would think that the direct responsibility for the shelter of people from a possible nuclear attack would lie with the civil defence authorities within the States. The Commonwealth civil defence authority has been informing people in the building trade in particular of the new methods available to protect people inside a building from the dangers of a nuclear fall-out. What is called a slanting technique has been developed. The civil defence authorities are informing the builders that by adopting this slanting technique, which lays down specifications regarding the thickness of walls, the materials that should be used and designs for windows, some protection will be afforded to the people within the buildings because they will not be in a direct line with the point of explosion. The Commonwealth Government will adopt this technique. It has not constructed a building along these lines so far, but the Government has agreed that the Commonwealth should set an example. This technique can be adopted at no extra cost or at little extra cost in the construction of the building.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. Has the position of Deputy High Commissioner in London been vacant for 6 months or more? Why has the position been allowed to remain vacant for so long? When can we expect that position to be filled?
– The question of Deputy High Commissioner in London and the question of the relative approach as far as the Department of External Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Department are concerned -at that level - are under consideration and have been under consideration by the Government. It may well be - I do not say that this is so - that there may be some alteration to what in the past has been the practice. This has required discussions with a number of people. This, I trust, will reach conclusion before very much longer.
– My question is directed to the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs. 1 refer to the report of an address by the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia in which he refers to the treatment of Aboriginals in Australia during the past 100 years and in particular to the recent treatment of Aboriginals in the Mount Giles area. Can the Minister advise the House whether the interests of the Aboriginals in the Mount Giles area are being safeguarded?
– Control of the Mount Giles reserve is a matter for the Western Australian Government rather than for this Government, but my attention was drawn to the statement made in London by Mr Dunstan. I think we could say with some satisfaction that his statement is a little out of date, although it is not without substance because in general the kind of things of which he was speaking are in the process of being changed. May I instance these things? For example, in the Bamaga reserve in Queensland agricultural development is being undertaken for the benefit of the Aboriginal people. This is being done with money approved for expenditure by this House. My colleague the Minister for the Interior has a scheme underway in the Roper River area. In the Yuendumu reserve my capital fund is financing a mining venture. Only today I have approved the establishment of a feasibility study for the Amata, or Musgrave Park reserve, as it used to be called, to investigate development of the crysopase deposits and the founding of a local industry. Only yesterday I was speaking to the Bishop of Broome. I have arranged for a feasibility study to be made of the Balgo Hills reserve. This is by no mean; an exhaustive list but 1 want to give the House some concrete instances of what we are doing. These things are happening because of the Government’s policy. They are being done with money voted by this House for the capital fund and in other respects for Aboriginal advancement. So although Mr Dunstan’s statement is not without historical justification, it relates to the past more than to the present and relates even less to the future. We are changing things; we have changed them.
– ] ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question. At the launching last Saturday week at the Newcastle State Dockyard of the dredge Victoria* the New South Wales Minister for Public Works, Mr Davis Hughes, M.L.A., announced that the New South Wales Government had called on the Commonwealth Government to give urgent and favourable consideration to making finance available for a new floating dock capable of docking vessels of up to 60,000 tons deadweight. Will the Minister indicate when a decision may be expected on this most important aspect of the Newcastle State Dockyard’s activities which provide employment for many people and which will provide an improved service for the docking and repairing of the new bulk carriers operating on the Australian coast which would otherwise have to be docked and serviced overseas?
– There has been correspondence between the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Government concerning the proposal that the Commonwealth should assist financially with the construction of a new floating dock. An assessment is being made of available docking facilities all along the east coast of Australia not only of a floating nature but also of a fixed nature. This assessment is being undertaken by my Department in association with my colleague, the Minister for the Navy. When it is completed and when the Commonwealth Government has had an opportunity to consider present docking facilities the Government will be in a position to consider in further detail the application by the New South Wales Government concerning the floating dock for Newcastle.
– Has the Minister for Health seen the recent report of an expert committee in the United States which presages action more effectively to emphasise and control the noxious effects of smoking? Will the Minister confer with the expert officers of his Department and his relevant ministerial colleagues with a view to having the noxious effects of cigarette smoking prominently advertised on cigarette packets and in all cigarette advertisements of all types?
– I have seen these reports from the United States of America about this matter. 1 think it very important that we keep in constant touch with overseas developments in matters of this sort. But I think it is also very important that we make very sure before we do anything that decisions that are made overseas or things that are done overseas are applicable to Australian conditions.
In this particular matter, as the honourable gentleman will be aware, the National Health and Medical Research Council, which exists as the premier body to advise both the Commonwealth Government and State governments in these matters, has given a good deal of attention to the subject. Regarding the point that the honourable member raised, it was decided, so that checks could be made on findings and so on that were made overseas, to institute an attitude survey in Australia as to why people took up smoking in the first place. This was done so that any decisions that were taken and any action that followed from those decisions would be based on sound grounds and facts that related to Australian conditions.
This survey has been completed. It was considered by the National Health and Medical Research Council at a meeting in Brisbane last week. The Council has made a report on the whole matter. This will be conveyed by me to State Ministers for Health and State governments. The whole matter will be considered at a meeting of Commonwealth and State Health Ministers in Adelaide in June. I would make the point, of course, that particularly in relation to labelling of cigarette packets, this is a matter for State and not Commonwealth legislation. The only Commonwealth legislation which would apply would be with respect to Commonwealth Territories.
Ma- WHITLAM - I ask the Prime Minister a question. The answer he has just given me prompts me to ask him, without notice, which other Commonwealth countries conduct relations with Britain through their Prime Minister instead of their foreign ministers? I hope the right honourable gentleman will know that I have had that question for him on the notice paper since 13th March last year.
– I will let the Leader of the Opposition know later in the day which other Commonwealth countries, if any, so conduct their business. But the Leader of the Opposition will know that due to historical circumstances, it has been the practice for Australian Governments to conduct their relations with Great Britain through the Prime Minister’s Department, and has been so ever since Lord Casey was, I think, the first representative of a Prime Minister accredited to the British Government. I would not like the Leader of the Opposition to assume from the answer 1 previously gave him that there is any question of doing other than is being done at present in regard to a High Commissioner or conducting our relations. I was directing my remarks to possible alterations in the position of Deputy High Commissioner or the positions of Deputy High Commissioner.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Has his attention been drawn to the This Day Tonight’ programme last night when the celebration of O’Shea’s release was highlighted and the Red International was sung? I ask: ls this not an affront to the Australian Workers Union and to unions such as those led by Mr Laurie Short? Is it not time that Sir Robert Madgwick was informed that the Australian Broadcasting Commission cease partisan activities in politics and support to Communism and extreme left wing, or resign?
– I think the PostmasterGenera] has on a number of occasions in this House indicated that the Australian Broadcasting Commission should not be subject to political control and that I speak of as political control and political direction. On the other hand, although I did not see the particular programme to which the honourable member refers, it has struck me as an individual as a little peculiar that when discussions are held on trade union matters it appears that those who are really moderate trade unionists are never called upon to debate the matter with those who are left wing trade unionists. I find it a little extraordinary that such unionists as Mr Short, Mr Waters or various other ones who are no doubt available are never requested to take part in these debates. I do not know what the reason for it is, but I think it would be presenting to the people of Australia a much more balanced picture if this were to take place.
– My question to the Minister for the Army relates to the accommodation provided for Army personnel in Canberra. I ask: Is the Army proposing to vary the basis it uses for the assessment of the rental to be paid by serving members who are .occupants of Government owned cottages or of married quarters in Canberra? If such variation is to be made, will it be to the advantage of noncommissioned officers and other ranks on lower rates of pay? Can the Minister say whether some NCOs and other ranks who should be provided with accommodation and fed by the Army are still being required to pay up to $14 a week to maintain themselves in one of the Government hostels in Canberra? Is the Army seeking to take over a hostel known as Barton House? Does the Minister recognise that this is the only hostel in Canberra providing accommodation for people other than public servants, and that if the Army takes it over the people presently residing in it will be without a place to live?
– The question is a particularly detailed one, and answers to some aspects of it I will need to provide to the honourable member in writing. So far as the question of rental for servicemen living in Canberra is concerned, a policy change has recently taken place so that in future servicemen living in Canberra will be on the same basis as servicemen elsewhere in Australia. That basis is the payment of 15% of salary or the assessed economic rental, whichever is the less. The policy has not been put into effect because there are certain difficulties in implementation which currently are receiving the study of my Department and of another department which is involved.
So far as the overall question of accommodation is concerned, according to my information there is no difficulty in providing quarters for married personnel, as a consequence of the close liaison which is maintained between my Department and that of my colleague the Minister for the Interior. I am, however, aware that there are difficulties in providing accommodation for single personnel!. The honourable member will be aware that last year, as a short term measure, the Army took over Avalon House which at present is providing good acommodation, I understand, for some forty single servicemen. It is also true, as the honourable member mentioned, that we are presently negotiating for other acommodation for 140 soldiers including Barton House, and I am hopeful that these negotiations will be completed during the course of the next couple of weeks.
In addition, the Army uses other hostels in Canberra. I might say that the long term project is to provide barrack accommodation in Canberra for single servicemen, but this will take time and is dependent upon the provision of basic engineering services for other planned development in Canberra. The answers to the other aspects of the honourable member’s question I will provide in writing.
– I address a question to the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs. I refer to the proposed alteration of the New South Wales law in respect of Aboriginal affairs and the cessation of the work of the Aboriginal Welfare Board. What will be done concerning the administration of Commonwealth assisted activities, such as housing and other important matters, now that there will be no staff to counsel Aboriginals about housing matters? Who will control the occupancy of houses in instances where more than one family occupies a house?
– Order! The honourable question is far too long. I ask him to ask his question.
– What will happen when the services which assist Aboriginals come to an end in New South Wales?
– This is primarily a matter for the New South Wales Government rather than the Commonwealth Government, but I have been in consultation with the New South Wales authorities in connection with this matter. As 1 understand it the legislation will take effect early next month and the authority will be transferred from the Chief Secretary, Mr Willis, to the Minister for Social Welfare, Mr Hewitt, who will undertake the new responsibilities.I have had consultations with Mr Hewitt and he has assured me that these matters will be satisfactorily resolved. As I have said, these are matters for New South Wales administration rather than the administration of the Commonwealth Government. 1 have been in consultation with the New South Wales Minister and I have no doubt that New South Wales will be able to handle the matter.
– Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, by the Minister for National Development. I have found the genesis of the question which he answered from the honourable member for Grey who, I would imagine, was supplied by the Minister with the newspaper article concerned. 1 refute the allegations by the Minister by referring to a publication on water which my Party published 2 months ago. In the course of an article of about 1,000 words by me this paragraph occurs:
A viable national water resources authority, following the lines of the Snowy Mountains Authority, is the keystone of such a national water development policy. Such an authority should be prepared to consider radical schemes. To take one example, it should look closely at the proposal of Dr Ian Kiddle
– Mr Speaker, I rise to order.
– Order! There is no point of order. The Leader of the Opposition is explaining where he has been misrepresented.
– AsI was saying, the paragraph stated:
To take one example, it should look closely at the proposal of Dr Ian Kiddle to turn Lake Eyre into an inland sea which could revolutionise the whole climate of South Australia. I am not committing us to such a project for one moment but a national authority should be preparedto investigate-
And that word is underlined - such proposals.
– Order! I think the honourable gentleman is going beyond the bounds of a personal explanation.
– As Chairman,I present the following reports of the Public Accounts Committee:
One hundred and eighth Report - Treasury
Minute on Thirty-fourth Report.
One hundred and ninth Report - Australian Egg Board and War Service Homes Insurance Trust Account - Supplementary Report of the Auditor-General for 1967-68.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
– As there is no objection, leave is granted.
– The one hundred and eighth report contains the Treasury minute on your Committee’s thirty-fourth report which relates to the Trust Funds, which was tabled in the Parliament in 1957. In considering this unusual period of time during which the report was under consideration your Committee noted that it contains conclusions of a far reaching nature and included, in particular, important matters relating to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve Trust Account. The issues involved in these aspects of the report are recognised as involving complex policy and accounting issues which are difficult to resolve. In presenting this Treasury minute your Committee would take the opportunity to express its satisfaction at the considerable improvement that has occurred since March 1964 in the submission of Treasury minutes arising from its reports.
The one hundred and ninth report relates to the Australian Egg Board and the War Service Homes Insurance Trust Account, in respect of matters arising from the Supplementary Report of the Auditor-General for 1967-68. Our inquiry into the Australian Egg Board arose from the failure of the Board to complete its financial statements in time for their inclusion in the AuditorGeneral’s supplementary report. Over many years your Committee has taken a serious view of such failures and has often found that they have arisen from administrative defects in the authority concerned.
The evidence shows that the failure of the Egg Board to complete its financial statements in time for their inclusion in the Auditor-General’s’ supplementary report arose mainly from an expansion of the work of the Board without additional staff; staff changes that occurred in the managerial levels of the Board; resignations of overseas staff; staff illness and problems arising from currency devaluation. Your Committee believes that the Egg Board should have examined its staff structure critically before entering into certain increased work commitments in 1967-68 and that the authorities concerned should have ensured that staff transfers at the managerial level were effected quickly and smoothly. Based on the evidence relating to resignations of overseas staff that occurred, your Committee believes that the Egg Board should examine critically the nature of its overseas representation. While it is clear that problems associated with devaluation that confronted the Board were wholly beyond its control, your Committee believes that the Department of Primary Industry could, with advantage, review the criteria relating to post-devaluation payments, with a view to assisting the Egg Board as far as possible with its problems in this area; Your Committee would, however, commend the Egg Board for the action it has taken recently to increase the efficiency of its staff. This action should, in the long term, provide the Board with greater staff flexibility to meet its problems in the future.
In the case of the War Service Homes Insurance Trust Account your Committee’s attention was drawn to the fact that the balance of the Account had declined between 30th June 1967 and 1968 while the value of houses insured under the scheme had increased. The evidence shows that in recent years a number of events have resulted in substantial increases in war service homes insurance claims which have contributed te reductions in the balance of the Trust Account. In particular, heavy claims were made following bushfires in Tasmania, hail and tempest storms in Queensland and earthquakes in Western Australia. Action has been taken recently, however, to introduce a new premium rating system for war service homes insurance. Concurrently the opportunity has been taken to include in the new premiums an additional loading designed to provide for a gradual re-establishment of the reserve fund to a level considered adequate by the Commonwealth Actuary. Your Committee believes that the Director of War Service Homes should continue to consult the Commonwealth Actuary, on a regular basis, in relation to the adequacy of the reserve fund. In view of the importance of this matter your Committee will note the variations that have occurred in the balance of the Trust Account as shown by the AuditorGeneral in his reports to the Parliament.
While interest will in future be credited to the War Service Homes Insurance Trust Account, your Committee believes, on the basis of the evidence, that action in respect of this matter should have been taken sooner. Finally, while insurance companies are required to contribute to the costs of fire fighting services in the States, evidently no contribution is required to be made towards the cost of fire fighting services in the Australian Capital Territory. Your Committee believes that this matter should be examined carefully by the authorities concerned. I commend the reports to honourable members.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The urgent necessity to achieve justice and goodwill in industry by providing effective conciliation machinery for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes and by repealing the labour injunction and related contempt provisions of be present Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
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)
- Mr Speaker, it was 2 days ago that 1 tried to move the motion appearing in my name as a matter of urgency. You, Sir, accepted the motion as a matter of public importance but the Government, using its brutal majority, prevented the debate taking place. The stupidity of this action was emphasised by the fact that a similar debate proceeded in another place. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has now had second thoughts and the debate is to proceed. Let us hope that as a result of the discussions which are taking place with the Australian Council of Trade Unions early steps will be taken to repeal the labour injunction and contempt provisions in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. 1 feel certain that the Government will amend the Act, but it has taken a nation shaking industrial dispute with the loss of millions of dollars in wages and production before the justice of the union’s claim has been forced home to the nation, and. I hope, to the Government. The wording of the motion is based on the chief objectives of the Act, which are to promote goodwill in industry and to encourage conciliation with a view to amicable agreement, thereby preventing and settling industrial disputes. Unfortunately these great objectives have not been achieved.
The history of the tramway dispute, if it is studied, shows that the culprit was the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board. There was no conciliation, and the Board did all it could to prevent arbitration. Mr Commissioner Homo pointed out that on several occasions the Tramway Employees Association had attempted to have the dispute over one-man buses determined by the Conciliation Commission. He pointed out that each attempt haJ strongly resisted by the Board. Finally the union succeeded in having the matter placed in the hands of the Commission so that the dispute could be dealt with by arbitration. While the union was fighting for the right to have its dispute referred to the Arbitration Commission, fines and costs, including employers’ costs, were imposed on the union. I understand that when the Government was advised of the circumstances leading up to the fines it did not deny what had happened, that it did not deny the injustice, but refused to remit the fines and costs. One would have thought in the interests of justice and goodwill in industry that the Government would have remitted the fines.
The ACTU and the Australian Labor Party have been urging for years that the sanction provisions in section 109 and section 111 of the Act should be repealed. Amendments to the Act were made in 1965 which provided for a cOOling off period, but as we said during that debate the amendments did not go far enough, and they have turned out to be useless. Wc moved for a repeal of the injunction and related contempt provisions. Had our amendments been accepted Australia would not have been faced with today’s grave industrial trouble. A ray of light appeared when the Government did not insert these penal provisions, as it had contemplated doing, in the Public Service Arbitration Act when it was amended a few weeks ago. During that debate and the debate on the increase in the number of judges in the industrial’ courts, speakers on this side of the House again urged the repeal of the penal provisions. If our warnings had been needed, (he calamitous strikes which have disrupted the nation in the last few days would have been averted.
The offending sections in the Act are creating more strife than they have settled. Consequently the reason for their insertion has proved abortive. When a so-called cure prolongs the disease surely it is time to try a new cure. Some employers have been sheltering behind these punitive provisions, and their actions have been responsible for creating and extending disputes rather than bringing about settlements. By placing every obstacle in the way of the decision of Mr Commissioner Horan and of the Arbitration Commission, the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board has initiated the present industrial trouble. One would think that the inflicting of penalties was an end in itself, ignoring entirely that the end is to settle industrial disputes as quickly as possible and not to extend them by inflicting severe penalties, lt has to be realised that this Act we are concerned with is a conciliation and arbitration Act. In the Act conciliation comes before arbitration. Ils importance in the Act is clearly indicated.
The placing of ‘Conciliation’ before ‘Arbitration’ is clearly significant. The Government, the employers and a lot of others have been ignoring this. The Government and employers must realise that the Commission sets down minimum standards. After the minimum has been established we come to what has been referred to by the President of the Commission as the collective bargaining area. In his 1966 report he said:
It has long been obvious that arbitration for minimum payments and bargaining for over award payment.’! must co-exist in this community.
He went on:
The problems and difficulties should not obscure the fact that there is no real incompatibility in the mutual existence of a system prescribing minimum rates by arbitration tribunals and of bargaining on occasions about over award payments.
Some of the employers refuse to negotiate and, consequently, the conciliation function of the Act fails to operate. In the United States and Great Britain minimum standards are set down and collective bargaining is accepted as a means by which higher standards are established. The fact that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act has been subjected to forty-four amendments since 1904 clearly indicates that industrial disputation between the parties has existed over the years, and it will continue to exist.
The Government believes that the penal provisions of the Act are an essential part of our arbitration system. The Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Labor Party do not agree with that contention. We want the punitive sections, section 109 and section 111, to be repealed. These are the provisions under which unions and union officials are punished. Offending employers are dealt with under a much more lenient section of the Act, section 119. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) recently asked on how many occasions had orders been granted under section 109 (l.)(a) in respect of offences which could have been dealt with under section 119. The answer was that 643 unions had been penalised under section 109 for offences which could have been dealt with under section 119, under which the maximum penalty is $200. Some of the unions, on the other hand, convicted under the penal previsions had been penalised to the extent of S 1.000 or $2,000. The answer to the question showed that ninety employer organisations were found guilty under section 119. Some were not penalised but the majority received penalties of fines ranging from $4 to SIO. Some were fined $20. The biggest fine was $680 for sixty-seven breaches of the award.
In answer to the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) recently, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) admitted that during the period from 1956 to 1968 penalties totalling over $282,000 had been imposed on unions, with employers costs of a somewhat similar amount, while during the same period employers convicted under section 119 had paid only $3,000 for breaches of awards. The deletion of the injunction and contempt provisions of the Act would not mean that there would be no other avenue open to the Commission. Section 143 contains provisions for the deregistration of a union under certain conditions. Since 1958 industrial action has been included as one of the grounds upon which the court can act. Deregistration can apply also where an organisation has wilfully neglected to obey an order by the court. A new ground added in 1958 provides for deregistration for continued breach or non-observance of an award or for an organisation’s continued failure to ensure that its members comply with an award. The power to deregister surely should be sufficient in itself to discipline a union without having dual punishments which are provided in sections 109 and 111 of the Act.
Other avenues are contained in the Act and are available to the Commission. Section 41 (c) entitles the Commission to fix maximum penalties for a breach or nonobservance of an award. The penalty is $200 for an organisation and $20 for a member. Section 1 1 9 relates to the enforcement of orders and awards and provides for maximum penalties to be imposed by magistrates in local courts. This is the section to which I have just referred and under which employers who offend are punished. Section 62 provides for the cancellation or suspension of an award if it appears that an organisation entitled to the benefits of an award has committed a breach or non-observance of the Act, an award or court order. The words ‘or for any other reason’ in that section cover a multitude of sins.
Surely what I have said indicates that there is sufficient power to discipline a union without the use of the offending sections 109 and 111. Therefore the punitive provisions contained in these sections should be repealed. Under them the Court is compelled without considering the circumstances to inflict a heavy fine, although a penalty is provided for under other sections of the Act that 1 have already mentioned. Under the offending sections 109 and lit the Court can fine a union $1,000. members $100 and union officials $200, and the fines can be followed up. It is psychologically bad. Better industrial relations are not possible while they exist. The penalties and costs involved are so severe that they can send a union bankrupt or turn it into a tame cat union, about which the late Ben Chifley warned.
The agitation for the repeal of the punitive provisions is not confined to the unions affiliated with the ACTU. The white collar unions are similarly agitating for their repeal. The Federal President of the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations has said that his association will support the ACTU in endeavours to bring about the abolition of the penal provisions. That organisation covers 40 white collar unions representing 330,000 workers. We cannot expect a system of industrial arbitration to eliminate entirely strikes and other forms of direct action. If anyone Believes that, he is attributing to the arbitration system a function which it cannot possibly fulfil. Some of its own decisions have been responsible for the increase in disputes. There is no doubt about the value and importance of our conciliation and arbitration system, but it is ridiculous to think that it could usher in a reign of peace in industrial relations. No-one would deny the value and importance of international law. but conflicts arise between States which are so severe that all observance of the law is swept away.
The Minister for Labour and National Service would do well to heed the words of Mr Justice Taylor as reported yesterday. After saying that be personally was opposed to the penal sections of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, he said:
You must let the worker feel that he is part of the system, not that he is merely subject to it
Then he went on to say:
Yon can”t say to the unions: ‘Accept our decisions or we will penalise you.*
The clarion call is for negotiations and restraint. Unless we build on that foundation, this chaotic situation will continue to worsen. A tremendous responsibility rests on this Government to give the lead necessary to end this unfortunate dispute. The trouble with some of these disputes is the difficulty in getting to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The Constitution and the Conciliation and Arbitration Act provide that a dispute has to extend beyond the borders of one State before action can be taken under the Act. If the Government was as concerned as it makes out to prevent stoppages of work, one would have thought action would have been taken to remove the constitutional shackles that bind the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Section 5 1 (35) of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act means, in effect, that before action can be taken under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act an industrial dispute must exist and, if it does not exist, it must be created. Furthermore, it must be an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State. The trade union movement has persistently agitated for the removal of the constitutional fetters that trammel the Act. This Government turns a blind eye. The Joint Committee on Constitutional Review supported the trade union movement and recommended that section 51 (35) be repealed and that a new section be inserted in the Constitution. if the Commission had the power to act quickly - it did not have power to do so in the stoppage that involved the tramway union - many of the stoppages that take place could be prevented. It would enable action to be taken even if a stoppage was isolated to a single undertaking without the dispute having to extend beyond the borders of any one State. This Government itself, since these recommendations were made to it, has assisted the growth of industrial disputes. I suggest to the Minister that not only should the penal clauses be removed from the Act but also should further consideration be given to the necessary amendments of the Constitution so that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission will be untrammelled.
– Mr Speaker, the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) in quoting Mr Justice Taylor might have mentioned that Mr Justice Taylor said also that strike action would not achieve anything. Our present system of conciliation and arbitration arose mainly from the appalling industrial confusion and bitter strife of the 1890’s when sensible Australians came to the conclusion that these matters were so important to our national life that they ought to be subjected to an effective system of law and order. Over the years, since the original Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1904 was passed, the legislation has been considerably amended to meet changes in time and circumstance. This process is still going on and I presume that it will continue to do so in the years ahead. The conciliation and arbitration system is so deeply embedded in Australian life that any proposals to amend its key provisions must be looked at carefully and in proper perspective. They cannot be dealt with rationally in the heat generated by a major dispute in an atmosphere of partisan excitement.
The Government has not been inflexible when it comes to looking at proposals to amend the legislation. And this applies to the sanctions provisions. I would remind the House that as recently as 1965 the Act was amended by inserting section 109a. In round terms this provides for a cooling-off period of 14 days before sanctions are resorted to, so that resort may be had to conciliation. Moreover, along with this amendment to the Act the regulations were amended to place restrictions on the extent to which costs could be claimed in sanctions proceedings. The particular sanctions, which are the subject of the present dispute, were introduced b substance in the late 1940’s by the Last Labor Government, which was at that time faced with the gruesome prospect of industrial anarchy and a serious Communist threat to law, order and orderly government. At the time this action was taken, the sanctions were no doubt supported by most sensible people in the country, including some who are now urging their abolition. For some time past the Communist Party, including its two main divisions together with the extreme political left, has been seeking to abolish the conciliation and arbitration system entirely. It has been campaigning to discredit it both generally and in detail. The present thrust of this campaign is being directed towards the so called penalties, because this is the particular aspect upon which these forces can best hope to win some support from members of the trade union movement at large. To the extreme left militants, success would be only a stage towards the abolition of the whole system. It is no accident that this dispute was begun in Victoria by the twenty-seven unions which have broken away from their own Trades Hall. They are using the situation as part of their power struggle. They are at odds with the main stream of the trade union movement.
The role of government, which is faced with the responsibility of protecting the community’s interest, is to look at any proposal for change calmly and fairly and to ensure that the public interest is served and that decisions are made along democratic lines. Our policy in industrial matters is to encourage responsible discussion between the parties when industrial claims are made, and to provide conciliation and arbitration machinery for this purpose as necessary. We emphasise first conciliation. Do not let us overlook that this is the way the vast majority of industrial situations in Australia are successfully handled. Over most of our industrial life commonsense and goodwill are the rule and not the exception. Secondly, when conciliation proves impossible, we seek to provide arbitration machinery to hear both sides so as to reach a fair decision and to reduce the risks of work stoppages. Finally, and only finally, where the parties will not abide by the awards and decisions made by process of conciliation and arbitration, do we provide sanctions against their breach by either party. In short, if one side or the other decides to take the law into its own hands and resort to direct action, it must take the consequences. In practice resort to sanctions is only a tiny part of our industrial life and receives attention out of all proportion to its range and significance. Everyone has a duty to ensure that sanctions are not used capriciously. By the same token, people should not abuse industrial might thus prejudicing our economic growth and development. Unions have the right, not to say the duty, to seek to improve the wages and conditions of employment of their members. They will not achieve this result by resort to lawlessness and anarchy. This conduct is out of place in our affluent full employment society, unless the object is to destroy the affluence we now enjoy and undermine order. Such conduct is particularly out of place in a community where there is highly developed machinery for the determination of wages and conditions, and where unions use that system to secure the maximum benefit for their members.
I referred earlier to the evolving nature of the system and its history of amendment and change. We have received representations from the Australian Council of Trade Unions about the changes it seeks and, on Sunday last, its representatives discussed with my colleague the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) and myself a number of questions bearing on sanctions and their application. We said that we were prepared to give careful consideration, on a tripartite basis, to specific issues relating to the operation of the provisions of the act. We did so in good faith, and in fact experts from our two departments have already begun to examine some of the points which were raised and which the officers of the Australian Council of Trade Unions put to us. The legislation as is well known is complicated and the effect of changes in one section have a strong impact on other parts of the legislation. Careful and detailed consideration by officials of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the employers and the Government will be necessary. It will involve a large measure of detailed discussion between those concerned, but will go steadily forward once the present dispute is resolved.
It is quite clear that if an exercise of this kind is to be fruitful it cannot proceed in an inflamed atmosphere where force is being applied to stampede the established authority. The Government has made it clear that a total abolition of sanctions is completely unacceptable. Any system of law devised by man so far requires sanctions. If the sanctions were removed entirely our whole system of conciliation and arbitration would fall to the ground. This would open the way to the law of the jungle, in which the weaker unions and members of the public would suffer severely and our prosperity and economic growth would disappear. Sanctions in one form or another are an essential part of the arbitration system and the Government has no intention of removing them.
For over 60 years the trade unions have flourished and gained status and power under the conciliation and arbitration legislation. They have gained powers of entry into industrial establishments for union officials, the elimination of victimisation of union officials and effective rights to organise. Penalties have been placed upon employers who have failed to observe the law and decisions of the system. These sanctions are in this legislation not only to enforce the law and protect the employers but they also play a very big part in protecting the rights of the workers and, indeed, the trade union officials. Section 109 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which gives the Court its injunction making powers, has come in for a good deal of criticism in the current controversy. But it should not be overlooked that this section is designed to ensure that awards are not breached by either the employers or the unions. It is not just directed at bans clauses; it is directed at other provisions of awards as well - provisions put there to protect the workers. Whilst there is a clamour from the Opposition to remove this section from the Act, I remind honourable members opposite that it has been used on several occasions by unions to secure the observance of awards by employers.
The unions have won honourable acceptance and a place in society that is upheld and protected by the law - a law which is underpinned by sanctions. In this respect, Australia, by its conciliation and arbitration legislation, leads the world. Many honourable members opposite owe their position in this House and their place in society to their membership of trade unions. These trade unions also enjoy a privileged position by virtue of the conciliation and arbitration legislation. Without this legislation, those honourable members opposite and many trade union officials would never have arrived at their present places of privilege. I presume that no-one in this House will seriously advocate that there should be a law for one side and not for the other. This would be tantamount to the destruction of democracy. Without sanctions a legal system would make nonsense.
We have laws to curb drunken driving on our roads and we have laws which punish the criminals who break into our homes. Does anyone seriously suggest that, if these laws were purely ones of exhortation with no punishment for their breach, we could long carry on civilised life? In this day and age the public and the nation must be protected against ruthless industrial blackmail. The last Labor Government in Australia found thus; the present Labour Government in Britain is finding it at the moment. The Government counts upon the good sense of the Australian people to support it in resisting a slide into industrial chaos and economic depression.
– 1 want to make it quite clear to the House at the beginning (hat the Opposition is not advocating a total abolition of the Commonwealth Industrial Court or of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The Opposition is asking for the abolition of section 109 and the related sections 109a and 111 (4.) of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) said that a total abolition of sanctions is completely out of the question because the Government considers that the sanctions and penalties are absolutely essential to the arbitration system. The arbitration court sprang from the great maritime strike in 1890, but the conception of arbitration at that time was entirely different from the present one. The arbitration court which sprang from the 1890 strike was presided over by men like the late Mr Justice Higgins, who, on the question of arbitration and the position of employees within the arbitration system, said in the engine drivers case in 1911:
The power of the employer to withhold bread is a much more effective weapon than the power of the employee to refuse to labour.
He went on to say:
The employer usually needs no court to enable him to reduce wages - he has simply to refuse to give employment at wages which he thinks to be too high.
No law can prevent an employer from reducing his staff or from closing down altogether. Indeed, even a lock-out is lawful providing the employer takes the precaution of provoking a strike. One has only to recall the Mount Isa lock-out in 1964 when the company concerned provoked a dispute and sought to justify its lock-out legally by victimising the locally chosen leader of the Mount Isa miners. The late Mr Justice Higgins said that freedom of contract under such circumstances is surely misnamed. He said that it should rather be called despotism in contract. He also said that the court was empowered to fix a minimum wage as a check on the despotic power.
In the waterside workers case in 1917 the late Mr Justice Higgins said that he adhered to the view that it was not a breach of an award for an employee to refuse to accept work if he did not like the conditions. He said that minimum rate was the lowest rate on which the employer could employ men. but the whole area beyond the minimum wage was open to bargaining between the employers and the men. However, the right to bargain is meaningless without the right to strike. Even with this right preserved the worker is at a decided disadvantage because to strike is to starve. A union secretary cannot get men to go on strike unless they feel that they are justified in doing so. A union secretary cannot snap his fingers and get 500.000 men to go on strike and lose a day’s pay. It is nonsense to think that striking is a funny business for the people involved. The power of the employer to withhold bread is a much more effective weapon than the power of the employee to refuse to labour. In the great maritime strike of 1890 it was starvation which drove the workers back to work - not court penalties. Starvation, and in these days hire purchase commitments as well, still stand on the side of the employers in a dispute. The Commission is clearly on the side of the employer. The Industrial Court is clearly on the side of the employer. This Government is clearly on the side of the employer. The minimum wage, which Mr Justice Higgins said was the one from which a worker was entitled to bargain for a higher rate, has become the maximum wage recognised by the law - by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and by the Industrial Court.
For years after the 1956 legislation became law the maximum penalty permitted by law automatically became the minimum penalty imposed by the court against unions found guilty of acting in contempt of section 109. No attempt was made by the judges of the court to examine the merits of a dispute. Indeed, the judges specifically declared that they had no intention of examining the merits of the case. How on earth could a judge fix the maximum penalty of $1,000 without examining the merits of the case? How would he know whether the penalty should be $1 or $1,000. How would he know whether to record a conviction without a fine? How would he know any of these things if he were not prepared to examine the merits of the case? The judges have not done their job. The dispute in which we are now involved, which has resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in wages and production, is due entirely to the action of Dunphy who kept pressing the rest of the judges of the Industrial Court to bring about-
– This is a fact.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. I remind him that he is completely out of order in reflecting on the integrity of the judiciary. If he continues along this line I will have to interrupt him continually or take some action to prevent him from continuing.
– Australia, alone of all English speaking countries, holds the disgraceful distinction of being a country in which wage and salary earners have lost the most basic of all human rights - the right to decide whether and on what terms they will allow others to use their mental or labour power. The right to strike is the one thing that distinguishes the free man from the slave. The right to strike is the lifeblood of unionism because it is the only weapon with which organised labour can defend itself against greedy employers and biased industrial commissioners. Deprive the unions of this weapon and you rob them of their justification for existence. What could be more unjust than a law that fixes the price of the only thing that a worker has to sell - his labour power - but which places no restraint on the price of the things he has to buy? The savage penalties imposed upon unions whenever they attempt to meet rising costs contrast with the absolute freedom with which the employing classes may fix the price of the things they have to sell. The law of demand and restricted supply is allowed to fix prices but the same law is not permitted to fix wages. In 1930, arbitration did not hesitate to reduce wages - the price of labour. In one fell blow it reduced the wages of shearers in 1930 by 20%, notwithstanding that the award had 2 years to run. This is what we get in times of depression.
Since the last war wages have been fixed arbitrarily at levels far below what would have been obtainable through collective bargaining in a free market, as is the case in the United States. Arbitration has never given more than organised labour has been strong enough to take. The chief role of arbitration has been to prevent trade unions from taking what the market would have given. There is now no need for an employer to conciliate. All he has to do is stand flat footed against all demands for wage justice because he knows that the Arbitration Commission is on his side and that the court will automatically apply penalties against every union that commits a breach of the contempt provisions of the legislation. Present day arbitration has robbed unions of their fighting efficiency. Industrial negotiations are completely in the hands of the legal fraternity. They are the people who are deciding what is just in relations between labour and employer. Unions are becoming virtually part of the civil service. They are demonated by the plutocratic forces of the State. In the words of Mr Justice Higgins, reported at page 27 of volume 5 of Commonwealth Arbitration Reports:
The worker is in the same position, in principle, as Esau when he surrendered his birthright for a square meal, or as a traveller when he had to give up his money to a highwayman for the privilege of life.
– This is a time when the nation has faced, is facing and, one presumes, will face a situation of industrial strife and turmoil. In the circumstances it was with a feeling of commendation that I listened to the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb). He displayed commendable restraint. He was objective in his approach to the subject. I was just as pleased to observe the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) show the same restraint and the same flexibility. Unhappily the remarks of the honourable member for Hindmarsh .(Mr
Clyde Cameron) were designed purely to inflame further the raw emotions in the community that have already been inflamed. The honourable member knows that thousands of workers on strike in Australia are aware that this debate is taking place and no doubt are listening to it on their radios. If the honourable member’s speech were not designed to erode and even to devastate the rule of law. which is now under challenge in this country; if it was not designed to inflame the passions of decent working men who are striking now for a cause in which they believe; if it was not designed to disrupt the conciliation and arbitration system of this country I fail to see any purpose in it. The honourable member even took the opportunity to eulogise one of the most villainous characters ever to disgrace the trade union movement - Mr Pat Mackie. No doubt the honourable member could, not resist the temptation to pursue his personal vendetta with the Australian Workers Union. With the greatest respect 1 would submit that to pursue al this delicate time, when thousands of workers are doing without pay, a personal vendetta and to bring spile and flame into the debate is disgraceful. The honourable member knows full well that if he repeated in Kings Hall some of the things that he said here he would be guilty of contempt of court of the worst kind.
– It is in the newspapers.
– I challenge the honourable member for Hindmarsh to repeat in Kings Hall his statement that the court has been guilty of bias and has allowed itself to be suborned. He said that the court is on the side of the employers and that the judges have not done their job.
– Neither they have.
– Let the honourable member say that in Kings Hall and test the matter. I would like to pursue the line taken by the honourable member for Stirling and the Minister for Labour and National Service by saying that industrial relations is a fascinating part of human relationships. Perhaps the term ‘industrial relations’ is a misnomer because industrial relations could well be called ‘human relations’. Industrial relation* are really relationships between human beings - between employer and employee basically and those of us. such as politicians, lawyers, the judiciary and others, who come into that relationship. I am the first to concede, as all honourable members opposite would concede 1 hope, thai if we constantly apply the tests of cold logic, lofty objectivity and ivory tower pontification to industrial relations we will never begin to understand it and will pursue and exacerbate the chaos that takes place when industrial strife happens. This cold logic, this objectivity, this pontification must be set aside at times, at least partly, and due weight given to the human frailties that exist in all people, workers and employers alike. We must pay some respect to the prejudice of workers, employers and everybody else. So this is the present situation which we face.
I would not associate myself with statements that the total cause of it is the Communist Party of Australia. 1 would not even lend my name to an assertion that the main instigators of this present turmoil that we are having is the Communist Party, notwithstanding that the Communist Party has in fact given notice many months ago that it would use the penal clauses as a vehicle to disrupt industry. As we know, it is the aim of the Communist Party, not I suggest to completely destroy the conciliation system, but to completely throw industry and the economy into chaos. Notwithstanding the fact that many Communists are leading the dispute today in the rebel unions and that it was a confessed Communist who used himself as a martyr to be gaoled to trigger off the present strike, I believe that there are too many non-Communists and too many moderates in the trade union movement for the parties on this side of the House as well as on the other side of the House to dismiss it with a shrug of our shoulders and to say it is all right. I believe there could be some justifiable causes in the present turmoil.
After having said that, let me state categorically, as did the honourable member for Stirling, that I believe for conciliation to succeed we must have some sanctions. I would be the one who would press as hard as anyone on this side of the House for sanctions in the conciliation machinery, not only against employees but against employers. We should keep in mind the kind of benefits that accrue from the conciliation system - increased wages, better working conditions and so on. But are we naive enough to believe that there are not some employers who are immoral enough not to grant these benefits if there were no sanction provisions? I believe there are. I am not one who believes that all the right is on the employers’ side and all the wrong is on the other side. Not a bit of it.’ I believe that the sanctions provisions are vital on both sides if the conciliation machinery is to work. I believe that for the sake of the smaller unions and the smaller unionists the provisions are vital and that the smaller unions and smaller unionists thank the Government for them.
Even Mrs Barbara Castle, that courageous woman, who is a member of the Labor Government in the United Kingdom, has just introduced or is about to introduce penal provisions into the arbitration and conciliation system of the United Kingdom. It is not good enough for members opposite to say: ‘Ah yes, but she has not inserted contempt of court provisions in the legislation as we have in section 111’. That is not good enough. I know she has hot done this, but surely in the new legislation that she is proposing there is provision for disobeyance of an order or breach of an award. There are many other provisions of many other acts in the United Kingdom under which certain parties can take contempt of court action and produce precisely the same result as we can produce in Australia. So it is not good enough for this to be levelled at us. I believe there are a number of areas that should be looked at but when I say that, I would like to restate that we must have sanction provisions in the Act.
The court has in the past, when information has been placed before it, placed bans clauses in awards for periods of 6 months or 12 months. I ask: Is it necessary to do this for such a long period as 6 months or should it be for the duration of the one dispute? I would like to hear more evidence on this. But at this time I cannot be persuaded of the absolute justice in the court granting such a long period for bans clauses to operate in an award. There has been discussion on the point that employers are prosecuted under section 119 and employees under section 109. This is a fortuitous result of the wording of the Act. Should the Act be reframed to correct this position? As the penal clauses exist, have they assisted to solve disputes or have they caused them? If they have not been helpful as they exist, let us have another look at them and let us change them so that we can still perform the functions we want of protecting the conciliation system but removing cause for disputations in which many decent men are involving themselves. Who will do this? The Minister has indicated that the Government is prepared to do it and in fact is doing it at departmental level.
I wonder, and other people on this side of the House wonder, whether it should not go further; whether these matters of real disputation should not be put to some independent authority which might look at the whole question in the context that I have mentioned.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I claim to have been misrepresented - that is if I heard the honourable member correctly. I think the honourable member said that I had said that if conciliation were to work we must have sanctions. I did not say that. I said that if the offending sections 109 and 111 were repealed there were other sections of the Act available to the commission. I mentioned section 143, which deals with deregistration and section 119 which is the section under which employers were punished. But I did not say they should be used or that sanctions should be applied. I said that they were there in the Act, if these sections were repealed.
– At last the Government has permitted the House to debate a matter which was debated in the other place and in every public forum in Australia two days ago. This House was the only place where this matter, which is of the greatest current moment to the greatest number of people, could not be debated. I recall that the last occasion on which a Liberal Government stifled a debate on penal clauses was on 13th September 1955, when a matter of urgency in these terms was proposed for discussion:
The urgent necessity for the Government to repeal the penal provisions of the Arbitration Act, to which strong objection has been expressed by all sections of the trade union movement at the recent Congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
That urgency matter was moved by Mr Tom Andrews, a member of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, in the only year in which members of that Party were members of this place. The fact is that no-one who does not condemn and has not condemned these penal clauses which were inserted by the Liberal Government in 1951 can claim to represent employees. Nothing unites all employees so quickly and completely as the use of these penal clauses.
Among the telegrams which I received in scores two days ago were ones from the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations and from the Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen. I need not go through the other white collar organisations. There is no division, as Government supporters have tried to foment, between what they call left and right or large and small. It is about time that they recognised that the great majority - a growing majority - of Australians are employees. Half the employees in Australia operate under Commonwealth awards. These penal clauses can be imposed under Commonwealth legislation on half the employees in Australia. They have been imposed on occupations as diverse as those of tram drivers and air pilots.
The gross inequality - the unfairness - of these clauses is that they penalise one side only. It is one side - the employees - that seeks to improve and therefore to alter existing awards. Any industrial action which they take, threaten or overtly contemplate now permits employers immediately and automatically to obtain from the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission a variation of the award to include a bans clause. Since 1951 any breach of this bans clause has become a crime.
At question time the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), I believe to his discredit, has done nothing to clarify and in fact has done much to obscure the history and the technique of these clauses. The fact is that before 1951 the Arbitration Act did contain provision for the Court - the old Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration - to enjoin an organisation or person from committing or continuing a contravention of the Act. In a classic case, the King and the Metal Trades Employers’ Association and others, ex parte Amalgamated Engineering Union, Australian Section, which was decided in March 1951, the High Court held that this provision did not permit the Court - the Conciliation and Arbitration Court - despite it having been created a superior court of record, to punish for contempt any breach of an award. The ground of the High Court decision was that there were other penalties in the Act for breaches of awards.
This Court could not treat as contempt a breach of an award. Thereupon the late Mr Holt, who was then Minister for Labour and National Service, introduced an amendment to the Act to provide for the Court to enjoin an organisation or person from committing or continuing not only a contravention of the Act but also a breach or non-observance of an award. The decision of the High Court sanctified the bans clauses. The Act introduced by Mr Holt made any breach of the bans clauses a crime. To summarise, I quote the words of Professor Sykes of the Chair of Public Law at the University of Melbourne, who said:
Once a ‘bans clause’ has been inserted in an award by the Arbitration Commission, then a strike becomes automatically a breach of the award. The Industrial Court comes into the picture and can make injunctions and orders, disobedience of which becomes heavily punishable as being contempt of court. The trouble is that the strike comes into the Industrial Court already labelled as ‘unlawful’.
This is the effect of the new provision of the Act inserted in 1951. Mr Holt overcame a decision of the High Court by this method. The provisions renumbered in 1956, as section 109 dealing with injunctions, and section 111 dealing with contempt, have become increasingly unworkable, like so many things which this Government introduced in 1951 or in subsequent years. These things have been proved to be unworkable or inflammatory or unjust. The Government has proved too stubborn to admit the need of reform and too rigid to devise means of reform. Omitting all historical and technical matters, the events of the last week have arisen from the overall attempt to make industrial agitation or resistance a crime. This is not done anywhere else in the English-speaking world or, to use a cliche of the Liberal Party, the free world. No other such legislation can be quoted today. One can go back to the old injunction proceedings in the United States before the depression, but they have long since been abandoned. The Norris-La Guardia Act removed them but that was a generation ago.
Arbitration sounds fine. Arbitration, traditionally, is the process by which two disputants choose a person to settle their differences. We do not have arbitration in that sense. We have compulsory arbitration. The parties do not appoint or choose the arbiter. The Commonwealth does that. Under the Constitution this Parliament’s duty is not merely to provide for arbitration, it is also to provide for conciliation. One hears very little of conciliation these days. The machinery is deficient; the staff is short. Admittedly in recent events there were some exacerbating features. One side was led by a Maoist leader and the other by a retired major-general. In fact, early this year, flowing from his first industrial troubles in the Post Office early last year, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) was contemplating amendments to the Public Service Arbitration Act to facilitate the application of bans clauses to Commonwealth public servants, in particular, the worse paid Commonwealth public servants, those in the Post Office. The other troublesome, unruly employees in Australia, whom the Liberals constantly condemn, are State employees - those employed in the State transport services.
– Providing essential services.
– Yes. The essential services in State transport and the Commonwealth Post Office are manned by the worst paid employees in Australia, and the Liberals, who are bad employers and who make bad appointments to commissions and boards, seek to put the lid on their grievances by making any agitation or resistance a crime. Strikes will not repeal these odious clauses, it is true. The clauses will be repealed next November when the people elect a government with modern ideas, with a fresh approach and with proper consideration for the great majority of Australians who are employees and of whom half are subject to Commonwealth awards and can at any moment be made subject to the criminal law.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) says that sections 109 and 111 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act penalise only one side. One only has to read the sections to see that this is not so. They apply equally to anybody who breaches an award. An award is intended to be binding on both employers and employees. It is correct to say that in fact there have been penalties imposed perhaps for more breaches by one side, but to say that the law applies only to people who are breaking it is a ridiculous assertion. If there is a law which says that people shall not drive at 30 miles per hour, and if 90% of the people observe the law, would it be correct to say that the law is directed and applies only to those people who happen to be shown to be committing breaches of it and are fined? That would be a ridiculous assertion.
The Leader of the Opposition spoke of the origins of this current dispute. Undoubtedly at the present time there is great resentment in the trade union movement over the operation of the sanctions provisions. No one would deny that. I am not asserting that there are no causes for resentment in the way in which the provisions have been operating, nor do I say that those people who are or have been on strike do not genuinely believe in their cause. In fact, my colleague the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) and I in discussions with the officers of the Australian Council of Trade Unions have expressed the Government’s willingness to give careful consideration on a tripartite basis to particular issues arising from the operation of the provisions of the Act. This is a very different proposition from saying that all sanctions should be abolished, because to do this would change the whole nature of the system, and one needs some type of sanctions to make the system effective.
It is well to look at the origin of the claim which has been made during the current strike that all sanctions should be abolished. This is going further than the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) went. Indeed, it has been asserted that this is an attempt ultimately to bring about the overthrow of the arbitration system. It is fair to say that the current strikes are political; that they are not directed at improving wages or working conditions, but are directed at the elimination of the penal provisions of the Act and ultimately the overthrow of the arbitration system. In January of this year Mr Aarons, the Secretary of the Communist Party of Australia, was reported as saying:
An industrial showdown is looming this year
Later he said:
The time has come for determined militant confrontation of this system of legalised repression . . . Trade Union action for workers’ demands is assuming new dimensions today . . .
Then he said:
A bold confrontation of the penal powers has to be made if this movement is to develop its full potential . . .
In winding up he said:
A new stage of industrial struggle may emerge In which the arbitration system itself is challenged.
Developing from there, a conference of left action was held over Easter which called for such a campaign designed to destroy the entire arbitration system. It is a fact that twenty-seven rebel left wing unions withdrew from the more moderate Melbourne Trades and Labour Council. These breakaway unions did become the focal point of the campaign. This is the history of it.
The current strikes were arranged before Mr O’Shea, the Secretary of the Tramways and Motor Omnibus Employees Union, who had been avoiding attendance at Court, marched on the court at the head of a large body of men and thereupon, refusing the offer of an adjournment, forced by his actions in contempt of the court his own committal to goal. The strikes which had been planned previously were then put into operation with the gaoling of Mr O’Shea as an emotional rallying point. These are historical facts. Let me say at once that the Government does not claim that the sanction provisions are in all respects working in a wholly satisfactory manner, but this is only to say that the operation of these provisions calls for review and adjustment, and litis has been offered by the Government. This appears to be the proper way to deal with the matter, but it is obviously impossible to undertake this task of review while the cry is being made for total elimination of sanctions - that is, the complete destruction of the arbitration system as we have known it in Australia for more than 60 years - and while this claim is being backed by strike action. The Government can hardly be expected to negotiate in an atmosphere of industrial blackmail. We have, in the past, been regarded by some people as leading the world in our system of conciliation and arbitration. There can be no doubt that, while no system is perfect and no system will be such as never to require amendment or adjustment, the system we have devised has served Australia well over the period. Therefore, when one comes to criticise it in this way, the course to be taken is to review it and to adjust it to meet the difficulties that have arisen; not to attempt to overthrow the whole system.
Since the original Act was passed in 1904 there have been sanctions in the legislation. The original Act prohibited strikes and lockouts and provided a fine of $1,000 as the penalty for breach of the legislation. It provided also the remedies of mandamus and injunction to compel compliance with an award or to restrain its breach under pain of either fine or imprisonment. It is true that in 1930 the extent of the available sanctions was diminished and the prohibition against strikes and lockouts was eliminated from the Act, but the other sanctions remained. The power to impose penalties, prohibition of wilful default in compliance with an award and power to issue injunctions to restrain breaches of the Act were retained. The practice of putting bans clauses in awards grew up in the 1930s and was held to be valid by the High Court. Following a challenge to the arbitration system by Communist led unions, the Chifley Government decided it was essential to strengthen the sanctions unless the alternative of industrial anarchy was to be accepted.
In 1947 Dr Evatt introduced an amendment to the Act making the court a superior court of record, with the intention of giving the court the common law powers of punishing for contempt. It was found that this intention had to some extent miscarried and the amendment did not validly achieve what it set out to achieve. It was following that that amendments were made in 1951, and ultimately in 1956, which brought into force the two sections which are particularly under discussion now, namely, sections 109 and 111. Section 111 was a redraft of the contempt provision which had its origin in the 1947 legislation of Dr Evatt. This is what it is now said by the Labor Party should be abolished. It is apparent that whatever government up to now has been in power - whether it has been a Labor government or a non-Labor government - it has always been regarded as necessary to have strong sanctions if our system is to work. If the sanctions are to be taken away the system must become one simply of negotiation.
As far as the operation of the bans provision is concerned, this has operated over a small area only of the unions. Of 150 organisations registered, only 29 have, in fact, been penalised under this provision and then only after bans clauses have been inserted in awards because of actions which those organisations have taken in breach of awards or in breach of the Act. If there are to be no sanctions for disobedience on the part of either employers or employees and if an award can be disregarded at will, then the award is worth no more than the paper it is written on. The cry that is being made outside for complete elimination of the sanction provisions should be seen for what it is - a cry for industrial anarchy. It would mean the end of our conciliation and arbitration system as we know it. I believe that the Australian people, who have been approached before at election time to see whether they wanted this system retained or abolished and who made it quite clear that they wanted it retained, would take the same view today. Once apprised of the issues involved, they would decisively reject any suggestion that the sanctions should be eliminated. The Labor Party is now revealing its position in joining the militants of the union in seeking the abolition of the sanctions. I do not believe that the people of Australia will accept abolition.
– We have listened to the apologia of the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). It might well have been uttered in the House of Commons 100 years ago when the question of the legal right of trade unions to exist was under consideration. Today we have bad history turn right back on itself. Australia is just about to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Captain Cook’s voyage. Within that period we have progressed from being a penal colony to a nation with penal provisions. The whole of the Government’s case rests on one principle, and one alone - that to arbitration and conciliation must be attached sanctions - and sanctions are a complete contradiction in terms. The very existence of the penal provisions is proof of a deep and distinct social and economic malaise. If honourable members want proof of that I quote no less an authority than a former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, who at the time was Attorney-General and Minister for Railways in the State of Victoria. Some 33 years ago he said:
There is, I believe, in the words ‘conciliation and arbitration’ a responsibility for much industrial mischief in Australia. They have popularised the idea that the settlement of an industrial dispute is a judicial matter and that it ought to be attended to by judges possessing the ordinary legal qualifications. Such a notion is, of course, absurd.
And it is absurd. How can criminal responsibility be attached to industrial rights, civil rights and the rights of people to sell their labour? The fundamental problem in Australia today is that it is a struggle to sell labour. It is a matter of price control, and the only commodity the price of which is controlled in Australia today is labour.
The feeling among trade unionists and any person, whether in a union or not. is simply that the dice are loaded against them. If there is a breach of these sanctions they are to be hauled before the court and dealt with immediately. But if they want economic justice they will get it in the long term. They are committed to all the hazards, complexities, costs, delays and frustrations of an over-legalistic system. These are social problems that have to be dealt with. Where are the economists in our conciliation and arbitration tribunals today? Where are the statisticians? Where are the social experts who can give advice on these matters? Let me quote from an article in the ‘Australian
Law Journal’ by a Mr Sykes who discussed our system of. conciliation and arbitration. In referring to Britain and the United States of America he wrote:
Another characteristic in Britain is that arbitrators’ awards ate not legally enforceable. This is certainly true of the consensual arbitration occurring by virtue of provisions in the bargaining contract itself and true also of the decisions of the Industrial Court. Awards of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal are, in the true, binding, but only by virtue of being written in as a term of the individual contract of employment of the workmen of the union which is a party to the proceedings. The sanction is civil only.
If there is an argument as to the sale of goods it is dealt with in the civil courts and civil remedies apply. If there is an argument between employer and employee as to the right of sale of labour, similarly civil rights, and civil rights only, should apply. Mr Sykes states further:
In the United Slates arbitration is not performed by permanent tribunals or bodies at all; in Britain the Industrial Court and Industrial Disputes Tribunal are certainly permanent institutions but the resemblance to ‘courts’ ends wilh the name. In particular there is no ‘judicial’ flavour so tar as personnel are concerned. It would be purely fortuitous that a judge was appointed as a member.
Need I remind the House of the famous statement by Mr Justice Cantor on one occasion when he had to give a decision in a mining dispute? He said: ‘I would not know the entrance to a coal mine if I saw one’. He then proceeded to give a binding award to which could be atttached the usual penalties and sanctions.
Criticism of the present system has not merely come from the Opposition or the trade union movement; it has even come from the Minister in the House. He has taken it upon himself to be more open in his attacks and criticism of the present system than anyone else has. He has characterised one recent decision, when a paltry and belated increase in wages was given, as being a calamitous decision with lasting consequences for the Australian economy. Who would remember on another occasion his celebrated ,-‘– before butter’ speech a matter of 12 months ago when he was addressing the Associated Chamber of Manufacturers in Canberra? Who, of all his predecessors in office, ever had such a stinging rebuke from the Commission itself when it said that it would not be influenced or intimidated by criticism, whether of party or ministerial origin? This is the gentleman who talks today of sanctions. Australians can be led; they cannot be driven.
The Minister yesterday deliberately avoided a question asked by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). He well knew that there was no answer he could give other than a favourable one and he resorted to equivocation on the matter. There is no other country in the English speaking world where sanctions are deliberately and permanently associated with conciliation and arbitration. The Government had the opportunity in 1956, if it had wanted to take it, to back out gracefully. Instead of that it chose to establish a separate court whose constitutional powers are still subject to considerable doubt. But that is not good enough for this Government. lt persists in the error of its ways. It wants to perpetuate the old tradition of the master and servant relationship, which brought Labor members into Parliament in the first place. It wants to perpetuate the idea that to strike is, in itself, a crime. Need I remind the House of the celebrated offensive, mediaeval Crimes Act, which still affects us to this day, which declares certain types of strike to be a criminal offence liable to a penalty and which destroys even the fundamental rights in respect of civil and criminal trials?
In respect of criminal trials it makes the bare assertion that in a prosecution for certain types of strikes the mere statement in the summons itself shall be proof of the offence. In other words, the union or the individual is guilty unless they can prove that they are innocent. And this is the Government which has the gall today to talk about the need for sanctions. Australians can be led; they cannot be driven. Mr Macdougall, whatever his motives may have been - I believe they were good ones - has given this Government an opportunity to act, if it is prepared to take it. The Government should forget about the enforcement of penalties, about its prestige and about its stupid attempts to maintain face. It should get down to fundamentals and negotiate with the parliament of the trade union movement and see that it backs right out of the indecent system of industrial sanctions and penalties that it seeks to perpetuate.
– The question before the House this morning is an extremely important one. The situation which has been developing in recent times and in which Australia finds itself today is, to me, a complete tragedy. It is not only a tragedy for those people who are involved in the stoppages that have been taking place for some time, but for their families as well.
-The time of the sitting of the House has expired until 2.15 p.m. Is it the wish of the House to continue for 5 minutes to enable the honourable member for Canning to speak? There being no objection that course will be followed.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I was saying that this is a tragedy for Australia, lt is a tragedy not only for the men and women who are involved in these strikes and for their families; it is a tragedy for every Australian. We are going through a time of great prosperity in Australia, a time of full employment and a time when we can look forward to a great future for Australia, lt is a tragedy that these disputes at this time are disrupting this programme, because we have the machinery - we see it on our statute book today - of conciliation and arbitration which, as the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) has suggested, goes back many years. This is the machinery to deal with these disputes. This is the machinery which has been recognised not only by Australians generally but, 1 would hope, by the major unions as ways and means of settling disputes and arriving at decisions, lt would be a sorry day for Australia if that machinery were ever destroyed, but its destruction seems to be the purpose of some people within Australia.
These disputes not only disrupt the way of life of the people who are on strike; many others are affected immediately. As we have seen over the last few weeks, the export of our goods and their movement from point A to point B - which is most important not only for those people who produce the goods but also for those people who work in the factories and on the farms and, in fact, the whole scheme of things - is disrupted if these disputes continue. We cannot afford to have these conditions prevailing. When speaking of the benefits which can be gained and which have been gained over the years in conciliation and arbitration, nobody can deny that there are benefits for both sides and that there are benefits for the great work force throughout Australia. We can travel back in time to the famous Harvester case in the early days of arbitration in Australia. The benefits of this case were quite obvious. It brought in a new era. There was something on the statute book which enabled both employer and employee to go to this body, put their cases and come out with answers. This is a sensible and reliable sort of statute; it can in fact settle these disputes. If we do not have machinery of this type, what do we have? That is the question of the day.
Do we go back to the old days when only the strongest could win, where we have lockouts and strikes that went on for months on end waiting for somebody to give in? Do we want to return to those conditions? I would say the majority of trade unions in this country do not want to return to them. The majority of trade unions acknowledge the value of conciliation and arbitration and the advantages that are to be gained from that machinery. Over the years, with this machinery, Australia has not been subject to the large scale strikes that have been experienced in other countries, and heaven forbid that we will ever get to that state. Both the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) have suggested today in this debate that the Government is prepared to look at the penal provisions that are now in this legislation. They are willing, in other words, to negotiate with those on the other side. The only way that we can get back to work these people who are out now is to settle down to a stage of negotiations. As has been said on many occasions, this Parliament has. over the years, reviewed the legislation dealing with conciliation and arbitration, lt is obvious from what has been said today by the Minister for Labour and National Service that the Government is prepared to look at the possibility of amending the present legislation, but it has been made perfectly clear that sanctions are a part of this legislation and shall in fact be maintained within the legislation. There are always areas and degrees within any sort of legislation. In the democratic governments of the world it is obvious that this sort of legislation or indeed any sort of legislation is and has to be reviewed and altered from time to time. The basis of the whole argument is: Shall sanctions remain? This basis has also been made perfectly clear.
Obviously the Minister for Labour and National Service is prepared to look at this question of degrees. But there must be responsibility on both sides - on the employee’s side and on the employer’s side. This goes with any agreement. You cannot have a one sided agreement, which in any case does not work. Action similar to that being taken by the unions today will achieve nothing. You must settle down and have negotiations so that a solution can be arrived at in relation to the present problems.
– This discussion is now concluded.
Sitting suspended from 12.52 to 2.15 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr Swartz, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is a companion measure to the Defence (Parliamentary Candidates) Bill introduced by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) on 15th May. The purpose of the Bill is to provide an opportunity of preserving their full rights under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act to those former members of the defence force who, having been discharged to contest an election and having failed to be elected, are reinstated in the defence force under the provisions of the proposed Defence (Parliamentary Candidates) Act.
The Bill provides that a reinstated member will have the right to elect to be treated as a contributor in respect of the period between discharge and reinstatement when he was not a member. He will have this right for a period of 1 month after again becoming a member or for such further period as the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board, in special circumstances, allows. Should a reinstated member so elect he will be required to repay any benefits that he received under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act as a consequence of being discharged, together with the contributions that he would have been called upon to make to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund had he remained in the defence force during the period that he was not a member. Should a person who has been reinstated in the defence force not elect to preserve his rights under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act he will, notwithstanding that he may have less than 12 months of his appointmentor engagement to serve, again contribute to the Fund but on the same basis as a new member.
The Bill also protects the position of widows and children of former members who are discharged to contest an election, fail to be elected and die before the expiration of a period of 3 months after the date that for the purposes of the proposed Defence (Parliamentary Candidates) Act is the declared date in relation to the particular election. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Bill (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, it is expedient to carry out the following work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House: Augmentation of sewerage in northern and central zones, Darwin.
The proposal involves the construction of a main trunk sewer, pumping station, and rising main in the Northern zone treatment lagoons at Leanyer Swamp, and a main trunk sewer, interceptor sewers and pumping stations in the central zones, together with a deepwater marine outfall for disposal. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $4.55m.
In reporting favourably on the proposal the Committee recommended that the efficiency of the Seabreeze outfall should be kept under close review during the period after the current works are completed with a view to accelerating the phasing out of the operation of the outfall if this action is warranted. Sufficient capacity is provided under the current scheme to receive sewage from the area served by the existing Seabreeze outfall should this be necessary, and this matter will be kept under review.
The Committee also commented on the existing outfall at Doctors Gully and on the location and construction of the vent in this system. Funds have been arranged and work is already in hand to increase the height of the vent, and to modify associated plant, with a view to eliminating nuisance from this source. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, work on the project can proceed in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– As it is now past the time provided for the Grievance Day debate, Order of the Day No. 1 will not bc called on.
Debate resumed from 13 May (vide page 1700), on motion by Mr Swartz:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering these four financial measures? There being no objection I will allow this course to be followed.
– The four measures that are before the House are, of course, of two kinds. They cover, in the first place, supplementary estimates in respect of both ordinary services and capital works. The Government also is seeking supply or the granting of finance so that the processes of government and administration may continue after 1st July and until a new Budget is passed. Supplementary Estimates for the most part cover items of expenditure which could not have been foreseen when the financial year began. Extraordinary expenditure could occur as a result of a drought, a flood, a fire, a famine, an earthquake or something of the kind, or some new government project may have emerged. For the most part the items that are included in the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) are of that kind.
There are one or two items to which I would like briefly to draw the attention of the House in the hope that some information about them will be provided later. On page 16 of the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) under the heading ‘Department of External Affairs’ there is an item ‘Publicity - Opening Display Washington Chancery $61,600’. This seems to me to be a rather excessive figure to have for publicity for the opening display of the Washington Chancery, and I would appreciate further information about it In addition on page 22, under the Department of Immigration, there are substantial increases in the provisions for assisted passage schemes as they apply to migrants from both the United Kingdom and Europe. The appropriation for passage and associated costs with respect to the United Kingdom-Australia Assisted Passage Agreement is $1,877,000 while the appropriation for passage and associated costs in regard to the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration Assisted Passage Schemes is $1,499,000. I point out that these are expenses that have emerged in the last few months. 1 find it difficult to understand why there should be a need for these appropriations when the programme, as I understood it, had been laid down from the beginning of the year.
The next item to which I wish to draw attention - and there are several that could come in this category - is to be found in the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1968-69. 1 refer to ‘Rent’ which is under the control of the Department of the Interior. Again, these appropriations are additional to what was planned at the beginning of the financial year. The amounts listed in Division No. 354- Rent total $1,199,200. In particular, the single item to which I draw attention is the appropriation of $394,100 for the Department of the Treasury. Again, I would appreciate some information as to why these excessive amounts are necessary for rent.
I wish to refer now to one or two items in connection with defence. The biggest single item, I think, in all these supplementary appropriations is the sum of $6,852,000 for the maintenance, other than pay of personnel, of our forces overseas. I have no doubt that this appropriation appears as -i result of the huge expenditure being undertaken in conducting the war in Vietnam. It is appropriated not to pay the soldiers but for the maintenance of our forces overseas. Again, this is over and above the expenditure that was envisaged at the beginning of the financial year.
The final matter to which I wish to make reference is a very large item under the Defence Services appropriation. This time the item is the ‘Acquisition of Sites and Buildings’ and the appropriation is $4,490,600. I seek some explanation as to why this large supplementary appropriation is being sought. I would like some explanation of the purpose of it. It seems to me that quite a number of huge acquisitions are taking place on behalf of the Defence Forces and not much explanation is given at the time as to where they are or what they are for. Those are the items to which I wish to draw attention. For the rest of the time that I am to speak, I wish to say a little bit about what may be called some aspects of the Australian economy as they appear at the moment.
I use as my illustration of the situation a number of talks that have been given in recent weeks by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). One must congratulate the Treasurer on the extent of his output. He seems to travel to several places in a week to deliver these papers. He is good enough to circulate them to honourable members and I, for one, find them very interesting. I commend him on his industry. At least he makes an endeavour when he prepares a paper to say something to the audience which he is addressing. This seems to me to contrast sometimes with some of the documents that emanate each week in increasing quantities from the Prime Minister’s Department. At least one can say that the Treasurer, when he aims an address to the Graziers Association of New South Wales, the Associated Chambers of Commerce or to some other body, prepares an address mostly tailored to the occasion.
I was interested to see in one address the Treasurer delivered the other day that he said in colloquial terms:
We must pay attention not only to the ‘size of the cake’ but to how the cake is to be shared.
I think this is of some consequence in any economy at any time. This speech was delivered by the Treasurer at the annual conference of the Associated Chambers of Commerce in Sydney. The Treasurer said in this speech also: lt is, however, possible to list the principal factors which will influence the future pattern of development.
The Treasurer then set out these principal factors. This is almost like a good sermon. The Treasurer lists four points. They are:
In the course of that same address, or later on another occasion, the Treasurer went on to indicate that he anticipated that, during the course of this financial year, the curious item known as the gross national product should increase by between 7% and 8%. I think I even read the other day that the Treasurer thought it might increase by as much as 8i%.
Surely almost at the end of May, one should have a fairly good indication of what the total outcome will be by 30th June for the 12 months period. If the gross national product should increase by 8% - I am not doubting that this will happen - in round figures this will mean an increase of nearly S2,000m. That is the increment in the gross national product between 1st July 1968 and 30th June 1969. The Treasurer takes some pride in that as an achievement. In fact, one can almost hear the overtone that it is partly a personal achievement that this result has been attained. The result to which I refer is an increase of 8% in the gross national product or. in terms perhaps more communicable, $2,000m.
The Treasurer goes on, it seems to me. to sound a warning note. He is concerned because the average weekly earnings in the same period will have increased by 6.3%. What he has not said about the increase of 8% is that during the same financial year prices will have risen by nearly 3%. I think, without the figures for the last quarter being available yet, that prices have risen already by 2.9% in this financial year. So, it is safe to assume that the rise in prices in the 12 months under consideration will he 3%. This somewhat discounts the achievement of the 8% increase in the gross national product. In real terms, it is not an increase of 8%. Allowing for the price rise of 3%, we find that the gross national product increase is 5%.
– It is still a fair rise.
– lt is a fair rise. But we must take into account another factor which has been indicated also. In that same period, the labour force - that is, the people who are producing that increase in the gross national product - increased by 3.2%. What might be called productivity or improvement per head in persons working is not very great. It is about 2%. But the Treasurer seemed to be concerned about the fact that average weekly earnings had increased by 6.3% . I ask this hypothetical question: In an economy where the majority of the people’s income is recorded by means of a wage that is received, how else are these people to get a share in the increased production if prices rise on the one hand and there is more to be shared on the other hand, unless their income rises? If there is an 8% rise in the gross national product why is it alarming that the figures for one section of the community - the incomes of wage earners - have risen by 6.3%? The Treasurer bas said that inflation is the main economic problem. To some people the only cause of inflation is increased wages. I think that is arguable. The degree of argumentation is well set out in an article I came across the other day. The source is impeccable enough for it to be taken seriously by the House. The article appeared in the January 1969 issue of the ‘Business Review’, which was published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. It is entitled ‘The Phillips Curve - A Dilemma For Public Policy - Inflation Versus Unemployment”. Although the article refers to the situation in the United States of America, it is relevant also to Australia. It states:
Throughout much of the post-war period, in fact, the behaviour of wages bas closely paralleled thai of prices.
That means that if prices rise wages also rise. Some people argue that prices rise only because wages have risen. The article continues:
During periods of inflation, wages tended to rise more rapidly than at times of relative price stability. This patten’, has suggested to many observers a casual relationship between wages and prices, with wage increases putting pressure on costs and subsequently exerting an upward push on prices.
That is largely the view taken by the Government. 1 think it is implicit in the remarks of the Treasurer that prices rise mainly because wages have risen first.
The article goes on to refer to a second hypothesis. I merely indicate that at least there is another hypothesis, lt reads as follows:
A second hypothesis held that even in this instance where wages might not initiate price inflation, they necessarily had to follow price rises. Otherwise-
This is the part I ask honourable members to observe - aggregate demand could not be sustained nl the new higher level; without the wage validation of price increases, the inflationary process would be terminated.
The article continues:
Current theories on inflation are an amalgam-
That is a mixing together - not only of these two hypotheses but all other non-wage explanations as well. Nonetheless growing recognition of the vital role of wages in price determination as well as recent wage-price developments-
I think that prices rose in the United States by something like 7% during the last 12 months - having imbued the whole process of wage determination wilh a heightened element of public interest.
I suggest that there is a heightened element of public interest evident in Australia at the moment in the question of wage determination and the relativity between wages and prices, between costs and income and to some extent between the four of them intertwined- It seems to me to be an over-simplification to say that only wages are the cause of the problem.
Yesterday, I asked a question of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) concerning his decision to incorporate a wider range of statistics in the monthly review of the employment situation. The figures given this month by the Department of Labour and National Service are shown in a new form and much more comprehensive statistical information is given. The figures for April 1969 were released on 19th May, which was Monday of this week. Some financial writers subtract the number of unfilled vacancies from the number of unemployment and describe the difference as the labour market gap. One writer in particular has based a whole thesis on the argument that it is good for the country when the index is positive - that is, when the margin between unemployment and the unfilled vacancies is widening - but that it is bad when the index is negative - that is, the gap is narrowing. That seems to me to be bad enough. But in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of Wednesday, 21st May 1969, the Minister for Labour and National Service, referring to statistics, is reported as saying:
What oan be claimed, however, is that they give a good indication of overall trends in labour demand and supply.
I have only a few minutes left to me because the Government is limiting the duration of the debate and we have agreed to share the time. In those few minutes I want to subject what is called the overall trend to some sort of breakdown into categories. Categories are available in the statistics published by the Department of Labour and National Service.
The first ones to which I wish to draw attention appear at page 3 of the ‘Monthly Review of the Employment Situation’. I ask the House to bear in mind that it is supposed to be better to have two people chasing one job than two jobs chasing one person. To my mind that kind of analysis is only an opinion and not fact. Yesterday, I said to the Minister that when these figures were subjected to some sort of analysis one found that the overall picture, as he described it, was made up of employment for meals and females, employment of people under 21 years of age and people over 21 years of age, employment in the metropolitan area and employment in the non-metropolitan area. Yet some people are prepared to base a serious analysis upon those figures jumbled together, and I use the word jumbled’ quite advisedly.
The figures given at page 3 of the document for the category called clerical and administrative show that at the end of April 1969 there were 12,207 females seeking employment and 3,118 unfilled vacancies. In other words, the ratio was nearly one vacancy for every four females seeking employment. For males in the same category the figures were almost even. There were 3,570 males seeking employment and 3,182 unfilled vacancies. But when one goes down to the semi-skilled category one finds that at the end of April 1969 there were 10,939 males seeking employment and 6,267 vacancies, a ratio of nearly two to one. Females were a little bit better off in that category. There were 5,087 seeking employment and 5,883 unfilled vacancies. There is roughly an even balancing in that instance. It is what the writer I referred to earlier would describe as a negative index in that there were more vacancies than females seeking employment in that category. All I point out is that in the same category there is an entirely different situation for each of the sexes. In the unskilled manual category of workers 10,283 people were seeking 2,326 jobs - a ratio of five people to one job. Again this is apparently regarded as a desirable positive index. In service occupations 3,000 males were seeking 840 vacancies - a ratio of about four persons to one job. In service occupations for females 5,985 women were seeking 2,662 vacancies - more than two ladies chasing every job. These figures indicate the conflict that sometimes arises in the indexes when you break them down.
I turn now to the situation in country areas. I hope that representatives of country electorates will pay particular attention to my remarks. All the talk in this place about decentralisation will go for nought if we examine these figures. The figures indicate firstly that there are differences in the various States. At the moment New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia are in a more buoyant situation than the other States as far as the ratio of jobs to persons seeking employment is concerned. In New South Wales 10,997 males are seeking 7,660 jobs - more than one person for every job. When you break the figures down into metropolitan and nonmetropolitan figures you find that there is a positive index for the metropolitan areas. In other words 6,273 males in the metropolitan areas are seeking roughly the same number of jobs. But in the country areas 4,724 males have only 2,333 jobs available to them. In other words, in the country areas of New South Wales two people are chasing every available job. There are 4,713 ladies in country areas of New South Wales seeking 903 jobs - five females chasing every job. The eminent writer in the Financial Review’ would regard that as a positive index. I regard it as a very negative performance as far as decentralisation is concerned. It highlights the situation very vividly. Overall New South Wales is supposed to be buoyant economically. In Victoria a total of 8,665 males are seeking 6,556 jobs - more than one male for every job. According to the learned writer this is a good index. In the non-metropolitan areas of Victoria 3,019 males are seeking 1,209 jobs - more than two persons for every job. There are 2,475 females in country areas of Victoria seeking 465 jobs - six girls for every job.
I turn now to the situation in Queensland. The Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes), who is at the table, should be concerned about these figures. True, Queensland has been through a period of drought. I do not refute the claims about seasonal factors affecting employment. In Queensland there are 7,416 males out of work and only 1,126 unfilled vacancies - seven males for every available job. Of those 7,416 males out of work, 5,554 aTe in non-metropolitan areas, despite the fact that most people in Queensland do not live in country areas. Those 5,554 males out of work in country areas have available at the moment only 504 jobs - eleven men seeking every available job. Throughout Queensland generally 4,370 females are seeking 899 jobs. In the metropolitan areas 1,432 females are seeking 639 jobs - more than two women for every job available. In country areas 2,938 unemployed females are seeking 260 unfilled vacancies - a ratio of eleven women for every job. In South Australia - these figures should concern those South Australian members present - 3,829 males are out of work and there are 1,765 unfilled jobs - more than two males for every job. In the non-metropolitan areas there are 1,328 unemployed males and 783 jobs - a ratio of two persons for every job. There are 1,602 females in nonmetropolitan areas of South Australia seeking 169 jobs - a ratio of nearly ten women for every job.
Throughout Australia generally 34,298 males are seeking 21,484 jobs - three people for every two jobs available. Despite the disparity in the population of country areas compared with metropolitan areas, 15,884 of the males seeking employment are found in country areas. Available to them are only 6,040 jobs. In other words, there are five people in country areas chasing every two jobs available. Those figures include drought stricken areas and areas not affected by drought. In the non-metropolitan areas of Australia 12,809 ladies are seeking 2,110 jobs - six ladies for every job. If this situation is regarded as a satisfactory overall situation for Australia, I have an entirely different concept of the meaning of overall. If it means simply burying the dead or camouflaging the nasty spots - mixing the cream with the milk - fair enough. But this is not my interpretation of a satisfactory overall situation in a community which believes in the welfare of its people, which believes that country towns are healthy places in which to live, and which builds better schools than ever before. For the most part there is no employment for the children to go to when they leave school, although the Government still claims that it is doing a good job for country areas.
– Mr Speaker, last week, I asked the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) whether he would consider the establishment of a committee to investigate the organisation of rehabilitation in Australia as part of a total health care scheme. I was pleased to learn that the Minister, in his own words, had been exploring for some time’ this question though I was somewhat disappointed when he went on to say, later, that, as far as this matter was concerned, he ‘was not yet in a position to say what is the best and most appropriate way of going forward’. If I may take the time of the House, Mr Speaker, I should like to press a little further my request for an independent committee during this cognate debate on the Appropriation and Supply Bills in the hope that the Minister can be influenced from his own side of the House to see the necessity of deciding in the very near future just what is the best way of going forward in this most important field of rehabilitation.
Going forward is a very appropriate expression for the Minister to have used, for the history of this Government is a proud one indeed in the care and rehabilitation of the physically and mentally disabled. The great effort of the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service during the past 20 years or so must be recognised and those responsible complimented on the great job that has been done.
One remembers with gratitude the dedication and effort of such outstanding pioneers in this Australian scheme as Dr George Burniston, O.B.E., and Dr Douglas Galbraith, O.B.E., and the late Frank Rowe for the vital part they played in instituting the scheme and for carrying it on to an organisation that is to be greatly admired. One can look now at Dr Dudley Longmuir and his team of medical officers, social and para-medical personnel and to such dedicated men of the Department of Labour and National Service as Mr Smee and Mr Pyrmont and many others. They are all doing a great job in the field of caring for and rehabilitating back into employment so many of the large number of rehabilitation patients throughout Australia.
Then, one cannot overlook the highly successful sheltered workshops scheme that was introduced last year to provide opportunities for many of those disabled citizens who could not have had the same opportunity for jobs before this scheme got under way. These workshops and their organisers are doing a great job. Perhaps it is too early in the scheme to be too critical of such aspects as high profit margins in certain places. No doubt this will resolve itself in the near future. The fact remains that many more positions can be given to disabled workers and now, as time passes, no doubt we shall find this aspect of the sheltered workshop scheme going forward even more successfully.
The history of tuberculosis and the rehabilitation of its victims is another episode in our rehabilitation history and despite some problems which will be familiar to many honourable members in this House, it must be regarded as having been a successful enterprise. The Commonwealth has also played a useful part in the treatment, but more importantly, in the rehabilitation of the mentally disabled by re-arranging its social service pattern in this field. The great work that has been done and continues to be done by the Commonwealth Repatriation Department in caring for and rehabilitating returned servicemen and servicewomen must also be properly recognised when the efforts of the Commonwealth Government in the field of rehabilitation are being assessed.
This Government’s record is, I repeat, one of achievement, and one of which we can be justly proud. But if we are to take stock of the present situation, if we are to continue going forward in view of the changing pattern in the needs of rehabilitatees, then it must become obvious that we, as a government, will have to completely review the direction in which we are to go forward. The Minister for Social Services admitted in the House in answer to my question that ‘there had been a change in the concept and scope of rehabilitation’.
Medical knowledge, medical practice, social attitudes towards physical disabilities, and mental disabilities, have all progressed to a stage where no planning for a rehabilitation scheme can assume that the problems and solutions of 20 years ago are the current problems and solutions. The order of priority has altered. I am quite certain that those who have the responsibility of administering the Commonwealth rehabilitation scheme would be quick to admit that their field of activity is limited, though it must seem somewhat of a paradox to refer to limitations when some 32,439 patients have been accepted since the scheme began and employment found for 22,887. It has done a great job but it is only concerned with the rehabilitation of the re-employable and, noble though this may be, frankly, it is nowhere near broad enough or deep enough in its orbit of operation.
The sheltered workshop scheme, for all its excellence, is again limited in its scope and only looks after a small though significant section of the disabled in our community. The tubercular, the mental, the blind, have all had schemes brought down to look after part of their rehabilitation problems. They are all, every single scheme, limited and, in many ways, lacking in co-ordination ons with the other, despite the great success that each has achieved within its own sphere. There do remain many severely handicapped, physically and mentally, who have no source of rehabilitation available to them beyond hospital care under their medical and hospital benefits and an invalid pension for the rest of their lives. There remain many areas of confusion as to which government or institution or voluntary organisation, certain people should apply to. On 19th March 1969 in this House, we heard the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) touch upon the problems of constitutional responsibility when he was talking on the newly emerging home care programme for the aged. Where, indeed, do our responsibilities take us under Section 51 which, as the Minister said: ‘clearly’ limits the Commonwealth’s power in the health field’? Can the application of section 51 bring further confusion and affect this Government in its movement of ‘going forward’ in any imaginative plan on rehabilitation?
A few years ago it was estimated by an American authority that somewhere in the vicinity of one-sixth of the population in the United States was suffering from chronic disability and that it is likely ‘to increase in the future, for, as the population continues to grow older, the incidence of chronic disability and its resultant physical disability will continue to increase correspondingly’. There is nothing to indicate that the same figures and trends are not equally true in Australia. It is clear, then, that the problems of rehabilitation will not lessen. They will not disappear simply because we want them to. They will not be solved by piecemeal application of new, limited and/ or partial schemes to suit sectional pressures. They are here to stay. They are going to increase and we must attempt to solve these problems by a co-ordinated and fresh assessment of what is needed, but how do we start? I call again, for the establishment of a Committee of Inquiry to see just where we should be heading.
I do not intend to discuss at great length the work that is being done for the aged at all levels of government and by a vast and diverse group of voluntary organisations nor the great work that is being done at many public hospitals throughout Australia. Dr Naomi Wing, O.B.E., and her unit at South Sydney Hospital, Dr Adrian Paul at Royal Prince Alfred, Dr Burniston at Prince Henry - all of these units are doing tremendous work in Sydney for the disabled whether they are re-employable or not. Other names spring lo mind but it is hard to say to what extent any of these units are co-ordinated to ensure that the very best results and the greatest efficiency of effort are being achieved. Indeed, are we, as Australians, getting the best value out of every dollar expended on rehabilitation?
Since I came into Parliament, I have advocated that the Commonwealth’s role in rehabilitation should be supportive. I have stated that, with the constitutional and financial limitations placed on the Commonwealth Government, we should not be entering the health field as operatives and I remain concerned that we continue to stretch the provisions of the Constitution by actually operating the Commonwealth rehabilitation service which must be regarded as being part health service and part social service. But the problem is not only constitutional and financial. I believe that if we continue to operate the Commonwealth rehabilitation service with all its units throughout Australia, and if we plan to expand it as rumour strongly has it, then we could be accused quite properly of maintaining a disporportionate interest in those disabled who are re-employable instead of a concern in the restoration of all the disabled who must be restored to the highest possible level of physical, economic, social and emotional self-sufficiency’ whether re-employable or not.
Rumour has it, as I have already mentioned, that the Department of Social Services plans to open an expensive new unit of the Commonwealth rehabilitation service near the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney and I sincerely hope for the sake of the Federal Government and the Budget, that this rumour is unfounded. Should this scheme proceed, it is said that it would not be part of that renowned hospital complex, though this, I understand, could well be one of the departmental arguments being put forward to support it. In fact, such a unit would be near the hospital geographically and nothing more. It would be a much better use of Commonwealth funds, I venture to say - economically, socially and medically - if the money that may be expended on the suggested new unit were given to Royal Prince Alfed Hospital on the condition that a rehabilitation unit, totally integrated with all other phases of medical care within that hospital, was established. But even this would not take account of other rehabilitation services in Sydney.
A wealth of overseas opinion and overseas experience shows that other countries are going forward, to use the Minister’s words, in caring for their disabled by expanding units in general hospitals. I would like te read a quotation from Dr Howard Rusk, who is known throughout the world as ‘Mr Rehabilitation’. Dr Rusk said:
Although independent rehabilitation centres provide a valuable and needed service within a community, there must be an expansion of rehabilitation services in general hospitals if any major attack is to be made on the problems of disability, since it is to the general hospitals that practicing physicians turn for the care of their patients. It is also within the general hospital that such services can be brought to the patient at the earliest possible time and costly and damaging physical, emotional, social and vocational sequelae of the acute disease process or trauma be alleviated or minimised.
Now, in the face of comments such as this, how can we go ahead believing that a rehabilitation scheme of known and admitted limitations, federally sponsored and financed, should be expanded?
Maybe, to a small degree, the experience of overseas is sufficiently different to make local application difficult. But the Minister would do well to establish a committee to ascertain whether there is any truth in the opinions of men like Rusk. 1 would venture to suggest that it would be wrong in principle to establish an inter-departmental committee to make such investigations for it would be relying too heavily indeed on the objective and professional advice of the Department of Social Services’ officers to ask them to advise whether the Commonwealth rehabilitation service should be allowed to expand or whether it should even remain as part of the Commonwealth Government’s operative responsibility. After all it is their own careers that would be under review and consideration. Officers from other departments could be placed in the same position of subjectively trying to be objective. After all, there are many who challenge the rights of the Federal Government to have such an operative health undertaking as the Commonwealth rehabilitation scheme at all and believe that the scheme should be handed over to the States to operate with financial support from the Federal Government.
I am certainly opposed, then, to the establishment of an inter-departmental committee if for no other reason than a fear of conflict of interest. However, 1 believe departmental officers could well serve a useful purpose as representative members on a wider and more independent committee. I am even more firmly opposed to the appointment of a Senate Select Committee. Heaven alone knows how it would or could be adequately manned and how thoroughly it could be expected to examine this field of interest when it already has so many other committees going at present. No, I believe an independent committee should be formed at this crucial time to investigate the organisation of rehabilitation in Australia. It is a crucial time indeed. For example, we can hardly consider or act upon the Nimmo report on health insurance without knowing what guidelines will be established for long-care patients.
It is a crucial time indeed when we sec record sums of $200,000 being paid in compensation to an injured and disabled man in Victoria very recently and when there is no sane clause within such awards relating to rehabilitation. No doubt the amount of compensation paid to any disabled person is of small comfort to the person who bas suffered. But it is appalling to think that so many of these compensation cases are determined by legal minds who give every indication of being unversed and untrained in the implications and scope of medical rehabilitation. Far too often such legal wranglings take place too late for effective medical rehabilitation which, had it been applied earlier and at the time of injury, may have had a chance of success. In this lack of co-ordination between compensation and medical rehabilitation we are still living in the last century and I would wish the Conybeare Committee which was recently set up by the New South Wales Minister for Health, Mr H. Jago, every success in bringing legislative and legal thinking up-to-date in the matters of workers and accident compensation. But again, this is just another factor to be considered in the wide field of rehabilitation.
I do not intend to discuss at great length the crying need to have many more physicians and para-medical professional workers trained in rehabilitation. The supply of such personnel has obviously increased in the past 20 years but the demand for the services of such people has increased at a much faster rate and we must set our minds to this great problem, too. Last week I met with a deputation of very charming and lovely young ladies who were physiotherapists and while their basic and proper concern was to have their fees included in the health insurance, scheme at a more realistic and proper rate of return to patients requiring physiotherapy, they were also concerned with the grave shortage of all professional personnel in the field of rehabilitation. I realise that this shortage has been one of the basic reasons for establishing advanced colleges of education and this, too, has been a good move but to what extent has it been co-ordinated or even considered with the Government’s thoughts about whether it should be operative or supportive in rehabilitation?
Dr Howard A. Rusk, M.D., Professor and Chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the New York Medical Centre and regarded throughout the world as one of the great world leaders in the field of medical rehabilitation and to whom I have already made reference, has written:
The first objective of rehabilitation is to eliminate the physical disability if that is possible; the second, to reduce or alleviate the disability to the greatest extent possible; and the third, to retain the person with a residual physical disability to live and to move within the limits of the disability but to the hilt of his capabilities.
Dr G. G. Burniston, who is Director of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Prince Henry and Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney wrote to one of the Sydney Sunday newspapers on 15th December 1968 as follows:
The Federal Government should seriously review its current involvement in directly providing services for the rehabilitation of the handicapped - other than war service beneficiaries - and should encourage, by subsidisation, State health and welfare services including hospitals to do this task.
Dr Burniston, who was formerly Principal Medical Officer of the Department of Social Services and Director and one of the architects of the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Services, went on to say: . . hospitals, especially, need to develop adequate, prolonged care bed accommodation and rehabilitation facilities for the total care of their severely chronically disabled persons of all ages.
We cannot ignore such expert and experienced opinion. We dare not go forward without having an opportunity to examine the many facets that present themselves for consideration. In 1968, the Hospitals Commission of New South Wales established a sub-committee to report on rehabilitation services in public hospitals in New South Wales. I have been privileged to read its report and I would say that the Federal Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) and the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) should also read it. I am confident that when they have done so, they will see the merits in establishing a similarly constituted committee to investigate rehabilitation with even wider terms of reference.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I have attempted to traverse the scope of rehabilitation problems in Australia and to canvass the establishment of an independent committee. The subj’ect is too vast to have been adequately covered in the time at my disposal and too complex to have done justice to all aspects, but I hope I have been able to convince the Minister that we shall not be ‘going forward’, as he phrases it, if we are merely to extend our major activity, the Commonwealth rehabilitation service, without considering similar services within our State run public hospitals and voluntary organisations. Dr Rusk also said:
To ignore the development of rehabilitation services within general hospitals is to guarantee (he continued deterioration of many of the less severely disabled persons until they, too, reach the severely disabled and totally dependent category. The neglect of disability is far more costly than an early aggressive program of rehabilitation which restores the individual to the highest possible level of physical, economic, social and emotional self-sufficiency.
One cannot ignore the opinions of such people as Dr Howard Rusk and Dr George Burniston in Australia when it comes to considering future trends in the development of rehabilitation services. Personally, I am of the opinion that the role of the Federal Government must develop in the same supportive manner as we have adopted in the sheltered workshops scheme, the aged persons’ home scheme and the home care for the aged scheme whenever we are considing our rightful and proper role in a national scheme of rehabilitation services. I am firmly against the Commonwealth Government’s assuming greater participation in health services throughout Australia. These are the rightful province of the State governments and I would hope that the Federal Government would never poach in this field of activity.
From evidence I have given to the House today, it should be clear that rehabilitation services, although they have a high social service content, are essentially medically oriented and must be regarded as part of a health service. Accordingly, they should not continue to be operated by federal instrumentalities. Next week, the National Rehabilitation Conference of the Australian Council for Rehabilitation of the Disabled is being held in Sydney. The theme will be Handicapped Youth: Preparation for Life and Work’, and I would draw the attention of the House to the wide range of subject matter this conference will discuss. World authorities are here to address it and read papers on the theme. As the programme says:
The Conference aims to develop in the community at large a deeper sense of its responsibility in providing opportunities for handicapped youth to secure a preparation for life and work that will enable them to achieve a degree of independence and make a contribution to society consistent with their potentialities. The Conference aims to develop a closer understanding of the part played in this special area of the field of rehabilitation by voluntary organisations and government agencies, and bow they might better co-ordinate their activities to reach the goal of an accepted national policy of providing a complete service for handicapped youth.
I would recommend to all members of this Parliament that they should follow this conference with keen interest for while it is only concerned with handicapped youth, it does give the lead to this Government to establish an independent committee of inquiry to investigate how its activities and those of voluntary and other government agencies can be efficiently co-ordinated so that an accepted national policy of providing a complete rehabilitation service can be achieved. In conclusion, I would repeat what 1 said on 19th March 1969 in this House in another debate on this general subject of rehabilitation: The rehabilitation of all disabled in our community is a large task but it is one we will have to tackle in the coming months, not years. If we are to succeed, this will be one of the most memorable achievements of the Gorton Government.’
– On 30th April last the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) introduced one of the most important statements in this Parliament on the Government’s endorsement of the decision to restrict wheat production in Australia. Within the provisions and inbuilt price limitations of the wheat stabilisation scheme and the International Grains Agreement, it is clear that responsible Federal governments must place an upper ceiling on the amount of money they are prepared to lend to the wheat industry in anticipation of sales of wheat on the domestic and export markets.
It is patently clear that no Federal government could adopt unqualified policies which underwrite by advances, every bushel of wheat produced in Australia, irrespective of the quantity which is unsaleable at the particular prices fixed by legislation or agreement. By placing an upper limit on the amount of Federal finance available to underwrite first advance payments, the Government has in effect told the industry that if it wants to continue to receive a first advance payment of SI. 10 per bushel then it must limit its production to comply with the upper ceiling of S440m of Federal finance. If the industry produces in excess of the equivalent of this monetary ceiling, then it follows the value of the first advance payment per bushel must be correspondingly reduced. This sorry state of affairs in which the wheat growers of Australia find themselves today is due to the inept handling by the Federal Government of the affairs of the wheat industry in general over a period of years, and the refusal of the Government to face up to problems of imbalance in expansion which have been evident for several years.
The technical faults in the calculation of the guaranteed cost of production price within the wheat stabilisation scheme over the years and the payment of an unqualified high first advance payment has been a major factor in encouraging the dramatic upsurge in wheat production in Australia. It is known that some large grazing properties can produce wheat in normal seasons at an average cost of less than the guaranteed first advance payment. Although some of these cost of production faults were rectified in the current stabilisation scheme, the changes have been too late to check the momentum of the expansion of wheat production. The refusal of the Government to take a positive view on wheat quotas until 2 weeks ago has only added to the confusion reigning in the wheat industry. The Government has attempted to pass the buck and blame individual wheat growers as can be seen by the statement made by the Minister for Primary Industry that growers who have planted their land for the coming season have done so in the full knowledge that such a plan as now proposed was likely to be implemented.
New growers have invested large sums of money in fixed capital - plant and machinery and land improvements - and they have no alternative but to continue with wheat production in an attempt to earn a sufficient return on the capital invested. The wheat industry, in an attempt to solve the problem of unsaleable wheat, has had no alternative but to formulate a quota policy in complete isolation. Economic and political factors indirectly bearing on the wheat industry had to be ignored by its planners. The wheat industry spokesmen are adamant that the level of the first advance payment of $1.10 should not be reduced. It is obvious, taking into account known cost of production figures which greatly favour the large producer, this decision has been heavily influenced by the large wheat grower.
In order to protect the smaller traditional wheat farmer, I believe a differential first advance payment would have been more beneficial to the wheat growers as a whole. The $1.10 first advance could be tied to a minimum level of individual farm wheat deliveries, say 10,000 bushels, taking into account share farmers and partnership’s adjustment. A reducing level of first advance payments could then be implemented within a larger quota of deliveries as envisaged within the current reduction plan. This would not cost the Government any additional finance except perhaps for storages.
The industry’s parameters were the first advance payment of Si. 10, an upper monetary ceiling on the aggregate value of first advances, and the amount of storage space available in Australia. Ancilliary policies relating to additional storages, the supply of wheat to Asian neighbours, the demand for wheat to feed starving livestock, had to be ignored by the wheat industry in its deliberations. As a consequence, the industry decided on a restricted level of production based on individual farm quotas for deliveries of wheat.
The Government, unlike the wheat industry, did not have to be inhibited in its examination of the wheat problem. It did not have to consider the problem in isolation from other important issues. But the Government in a characteristic negative Treasury approach, has adopted a defeatist attitude in advocating a drastic restriction in production without any escape valve for excess production. The Government has advocated an unqualified reduction in wheat production at a time when on our doorstep millions of people are starving or undernourished, at a time when millions of sheep and cattle are dying or seriously distressed from starvation due to devastating drought in our own backyard in Queensland.
Because of the rigorous provisions of a home consumption price of approximately $1.70 per bushel, this determines to a large degree the level of demand for wheat in Australia. But there does exist in Australia, at certain times, a large demand for wheat at prices below $1.70 in addition to the traditional demand for wheat at the fixed price of $1.70. In the last 18 months the fact that the Government was prepared to allow wheat to be sold in Victoria at a subsidised price of 40c a bushel, which is below the home consumption price, showed that there was a demand, even in a state of emergency because of the drought, for a large quantity of wheat at a price below the home consumption price under the provisions of the Wheat Stabilisation Agreement. I believe the fact that the Government was prepared to allow wheat to be sold in Victoria at a subsidised price of 40c a bushel, which is significantly below the fixed home consumption price, showed that there was, even in time of emergency and drought, a demand for feed wheat at a price below the price fixed under the wheat stabilisation provisions. It is wrong to limit the demand for wheat in Australia by legislation at a time of surplus by freezing a price below which wheat cannot be sold even if a substantial demand exists by additional consumers who are prepared to purchase wheat at prices less than $1.70 per bushel, that is, in addition to the total demand within the normal home consumption price of S1.70.
It is wrong to deny the right of any wheat farmer in Australia to produce, at his own risk, above a quota if he believes he can sell his wheat. This particularly applies to the wheat grower who can produce additional quantities of wheat at a cost significantly less than $1.70 per bushel. Why should wheat growers who are prepared to sell a proportion of their wheat at below $1.70 to willing buyers in times of emergency such as a drought, for example, be denied of that right when there exist unsaleable surpluses at the frozen price of $1.70 per bushel? But the Government is doing exactly that. The Opposition completely disagrees with this inflexible restriction of production through the freezing of the home price without considering the problem of unavoidable excess wheat.
An analogy can be drawn with sugar to explain this principle. Rigid production quotas apply to sugar in what is called a No. 1 pool. Within this sugar’ pool guaranteed prices apply to a large proportion of total production, just as with wheat. But every cane grower is allowed to produce above his peak or quota, if he wants to do so. That is, he produces above the quota entirely at his own risk and takes the best price he can get for his product which is heavily influenced by seasonal conditions throughout the world, or by other economic factors. Excess sugar falls within a No. 2 pool. The same broad principle should apply to wheat. If there is to be a rigid quota to which guaranteed prices prevail then farmers should be given the right to produce and sell above this quota, at their own risk, within conditions laid down by the Government.
If the International Grains Agreement is to be adhered to, it is obvious that Australia cannot sell excess wheat at below the price limits of the Agreement. But in Australia the
Government is free to fix any price or set of prices it likes for domestic consumption in order to maximise returns to the industry.
Because all wheat becomes the property of one buyer - the Australian Wheat Board - and because there is a limit to storage space, it is impossible in practice to have a freely fluctuating price for domestic wheat along the lines of meat and fruit, for example. The Opposition proposes, therefore, that if the traditional domestic market - we can call this a No. 1 pool - has to be tied to fixed prices within the wheat stabilisation scheme, provision be made for surplus supplies of wheat to be diverted to those markets in Australia which cannot afford to buy wheat at $1.70 per bushel, but are prepared to buy quantities of wheat at less than $1.70. We can call this a No. 2 pool.
What are the problems here? lt is obvious that a two-price domestic scheme would penalise the traditional buyers of wheat who are forced by legislation to buy wheat at $1.70 per bushel. Why should the Australian poultry farmer have to pay $1.70 and some other consumer pay only $1.00 per bushel because he cannot afford to pay $1.70? The solution is one to which I believe consideration should be given by the Government.
The most serious recurring economic disasters in Australia are droughts that affect the livestock industries. At the present time there is a devastating drought in Queensland. As a consequence, there is a large demand for feed wheat - but most certainly not at the fixed high domestic price of around $1.70 per bushel. Under the existing legislation applying to the wheat stabilisation scheme, the Government refuses to reduce this price to meet emergencies despite the existence of surpluses and despite the fact that some producers can produce excess wheat at a profit with a price significantly less than $1.70. The Opposition believes that it is wrong and negative to follow blindly a policy which allows wheat to be sold overseas at, say, $1.40 per bushel and yet refuses to sell wheat to owners of starving stock in Australia at less than SI. 70 per bushel.
The Opposition has no objection to Australia trading with mainland China. We believe that the fostering of trade between Australia and China will be to Australia’s benefit. It should be emphasised that the sale price per bushel to overseas countries is not necessarily the important criterion. Volume or total return are frequently more important than the average price per bushel. For example, the sale of 100,000 bushels at $1.20 per bushel may be of greater economic importance to Australia than 10,000 bushels at $1.50. This is particularly so when large surpluses of wheat are on hand.
While on the subject of wheat sales to mainland China, let me say that it is high time this Government adopted a responsible and mature approach to China. At every opportunity, and particularly at election time, Government speakers attempt to instil fear in the minds of Australians by depicting China as an imminent invader of Australia. Who will forget in the last general election when Australians were brainwashed by the Liberal and Australian Country Parties, especially the Country Party, with the sight of terrifying red arrows reaching down from China to engulf us. The fact that China is one of Australia’s most important customers and that the Liberal and Country Parties rely on China for a large part of its wheat sales were forgotten like the plague.
China is the fourth largest buyer of Australian goods. The wheat industry and the economic livelihood of many farmers are dependent on Chinese purchases. Let us not forget that fact. Despite the importance of China, what is the justification for selling wheat to mainland China or any other country at $1.40 per bushel but refusing to sell wheat to owners of starving stock in Australia at less than $1.70 per bushel.
There is no justification also in deliberately restricting production of a basic food when that food could be utilised to save starving breeding stock, and when wheat producers are willing to sell a proportion of their crop at less than $1.70 per bushel. Let us never forget that the sheep, cattle and wheat industries of Australia built the solid foundations on which the economy of this nation now stands. No wheat farmer in Australia can predict an accurate level of farm production in advance. The particular incidence of spring rains can cause tremendous variations in wheat production on individual farms. For this reason, irrespective of how sincerely a farmer may plan to meet his quota, he may be very wide of the the mark through no fault of his own. Commonsense demands that he will plan on the basis of some seasonal adversity occurring. If it does not, he has excess wheat. What is the farmer to do under the present programme with any unavoidable excess which is produced through no fault of his own?
According to the proposed quota scheme the Government expects farmers to store any surplus in temporary farm storages where it will be rapidly destroyed by weevils, mice and other vermin. The Government must adopt a progressive forward policy on excess wheat instead of its present negative and defeatist attitude of a rigorous quota system with no provision for excess wheat. As long as a frozen price exists, excess consumption has to be related to abnormal demand, otherwise discrimination against the traditional consumer occurs.
The establishment of emergency drought banks of wheat, or a No. 2 pool, should constitute the basis for allowing farmers to produce wheat in addition to their quotas, as well as to handle excess wheat produced on farms as a result of fortuitous seasons. These drought banks could be used in times of emergencies to channel feed wheat to cattle and sheep. These reserves could also be used to provide emergency supplies to feed starving Asians when drought or other catastrophies bit their respective countries. The construction of emergency wheat storages should be the responsibility of Federal and State governments as this is a national responsibility. The production of wheat for these emergency banks simply means that wheat farmers could supply these reserve banks, with the knowledge that they would probably receive at some future date a price significantly less than the $1.70 which is applicable to normal domestic trading under the wheat stabilisation legislation.
The producer himself would have to take the risk as to the final price be received for this additional wheat. The responsibility of the Government is to assist in the provision of storages, especially permanent storages, for this emergency wheat. In practice, the Government or the Australian Wheat Board could decide to sell wheat from these emergency banks at, say, $1.00 per bushel to drought stricken producers. This would not significantly interfere with sales or prices under the normal stabilisation sales of domestic wheat to traditional consumers operating within the present frozen price of $1.70 per bushel. Or alternatively, the Government could formulate a particular set of prices to apply in the wheat bank in times of emergency. Whether the wheat farmer wished to supply the additional wheat is entirely a matter for, him to decide. It is he who takes the risk under supply and demand conditions in Australia.
It is well known from the surveys of the. Bureau of Agricultural Economics that the cash costs of growing wheat average around 75c per bushel. If quotas on individual farms are implemented this generally means unused capacity in machinery and fixed costs and possibly land if alternative crops are not grown or more sheep are not carried. The cost of growing additional wheat on large numbers of existing farms is significantly less than the overall average on which the $1.70 per bushel is based. Similarly, in good seasons the cost of unavoidable excess wheat above the particular farm quota falls into this category of lower production costs on existing farms. It follows, therefore, that there are large numbers of wheat farmers who would be prepared to supply additional quantities of wheat if they could secure, say, $1 per bushel in addition to their quota revenues. The actual machinery of the pricing arrangements for these emergency wheat storages could be a matter of negotiation between the Wheat Board and the wheat industry.
If there were a large response by wheat farmers to supply a No. 2 Pool, at their own risk, an upper limit on quantities may have to be imposed because of the limit of emergency storage space. This, however, can only be determined by experience. The location and volume of emergency storages would be closely related to the incidence and seriousness of droughts in livestock areas. It is obvious that greater scope exists for emergency grain banks in northern New South Wales and Queensland than in South Australia, for example, because the incidence and severity of droughts in Queensland with its largest livestock population is far greater than in South Australia. In such a scheme for the utilisation of surplus wheat for emergencies the State governments would have to play their part by utilising rolling stock, particularly excess capacity, to move surplus wheat to and from the strategically located wheat banks. The establishment and administration of strategically located grain storage banks should be regarded always as a national responsibility involving the Commonwealth in the establishment of the storages, the State governments in the movement of wheat to and from the storages, and those wheat farmers who are prepared to produce and supply surplus wheat to emergency wheat banks at their own risk.
In this debate I have been concerned only with broad principles rather than points of detail. This, of course, does not mean to infer that there are not plenty of bugs which would have to be carefully considered - just as there will be plenty of bugs in the present Commonwealth plan of unqualified restriction of production through individual farm quotas. In the wheat stabilisation debate the Opposition criticised the two-price scheme which fixed a higher price for home consumption wheat than the guaranteed export price. This has imposed an additional burden on the traditional consumers of wheat in Australia such as the bread-eating family, and the poultry and port consumers. Under a one-price scheme the subsidy equivalent is borne by all taxpayers. With unavoidable surpluses of unsaleable wheat within the rigorous wheat stabilisation frozen price provisions, now made more onerous by quotas, the possibility of private sales and agreements outside of the existing legislation will be greatly accelerated - particularly in relation to the price of $1.70 per bushel for home consumption wheat. Serious consideration should again be given to rectifying the deficiencies of this two-price scheme. Furthermore, I believe that while substantial quantities of excess wheat is available the freezing of the home consumption price of $1.70 per bushel for all wheat consumed in Australia may not be in the best interests of the wheat grower and the consumer.
The Government through its frozen home price scheme is working on the principle that the demand for wheat is relatively inelastic with respect to price. But is this so? A reduction in the home consumption price may lead to a greater volume of wheat consumed to the degree that the total returns to growers are significantly increased. More thought must be given to the effects of a variable home consumption price within the provisions of the wheat stabilisation plan. Valid criticism can be directed at the quotas fixed in Western Australia, Victoria and Queensland. But as the fixing and administration of quotas are the responsibility of the States and the industry, it can be argued validly that the Commonwealth is not directly concerned with individual farm quotas and State quotas. But because of the wide and uncontrollable variability of seasonal conditions, it is impossible to predict with any degree of certainty a particular level of production on any farm. There is certain to be problems if farmers this season grow, either deliberately or by accident, more wheat than their quota.
Supplementary to the establishment of emergency storage banks for the prime purpose of drought relief, more permanent off-rail and local storages should be built in all States to handle excess wheat up to a maximum carry-over. This will cope with seasonal fluctuations as well as variations in overseas market demand. It is therefore the responsibility of this Government to take a progressive view on additional storages, particularly to supply Australian and overseas markets in times of emergency. Under its present negative and defeatist policy, without any escape valve for excess production, chaotic conditions will arise at the end of this year in the administration of delivery quotas; and the handling of unavoidable excess wheat.
– The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) read every word of the speech which he just made. The question which has come to my mind and no doubt to the minds of other members of the Country Party is: Who wrote that speech? Was it written by a man who wants to destroy the wheat stabilisation scheme? Was it written by someone who is trying to recover the lost ground that the Australian Labour Party suffered when its Leader in the Senate (Senator Murphy), with caucus approval, I am informed, wanted to call the chairman and the general manager of the Australian Wheat Board to the bar of the Senate to produce records of overseas sales of Australian wheat thereby revealing everything to the foreign competitors of the Australian wheat industry? Is this now a desperate attempt by the honourable member for Dawson on behalf of the Labor Party to try and recover some of the shattering loss that it will suffer in the country areas through that proposal in the Senate?
The object of the speech made by the honourable member for Dawson appeared to me to be aimed at breaking wheat stabilisation. He said that the Federal Government allowed wheat to be sold in Victoria at a subsidised price. The Federal Government has no control over this at all. If a State government wants to subsidise the price of wheat then it is a matter for the government concerned.
– The Commonwealth gave a grant to the States for this purpose.
– That is not true. The Commonwealth did not give the States a grant for the purpose of subsidising wheat.
– The Minister admitted it.
– The. honourable member for Dawson is worried about Queensland. The Federal Government has said to the Queensland State Government: ‘Up to $4m the Government will meet State expenditure half-way. If the State Government spends $2m the Federal Government will match the expenditure $1 for $1. The Federal Government will meet the bill for expenditure over $4m If the Queensland Government wants to subsidise wheat to its dairy farmers and other farmers who are in drought stricken areas and who are in a desperate position, then there is nothing to stop it so doing. The main point I make is that the honourable member for Dawson intimated that it was the Federal Government that subsidised this wheat in Victoria last year. This is not correct.
The honourable member for Dawson criticised the delivery quota scheme. He said that the growers could not grow over and above their quota. Of course they can. They can grow as much as they like, but they will have a delivery quota and will have a guaranteed first payment on and storage for only that wheat delivered under that delivery quota. The honourable member for Dawson attacked the idea of the delivery quota system. This plan has been supported by the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation and by most farming organisations throughout Australia. The honourable member for
Dawson complained about the two-price system. I have not heard the honourable member complain about the two-price system for sugar under which the people in Australia pay 11c a lb for sugar while it is sold for less than lc a lb overseas. Under the International Sugar Agreement the overseas price has gone up to 3c a lb. The honourable member for Dawson is not against the two-price system for sugar under which the Australian public has to pay 11c a lb while the price overseas is 3c, but he says that we should not be asking the Australian public to pay $1.70 a bushel for wheat while under the International Grains Agreement wheat is sold overseas at a minimum price of $1.39 with a guaranteed home price of $1.45 up to a maximum export of 200 million bushels.
– The honourable member for Dawson wants another price.
– As the honourable member for Mallee says, he wants another price. I do not want to take up all my time commenting on the speech made by the honourable member for Dawson. It is a shame that there is a limit to the time for this debate. Otherwise I am sure that the honourable member for Dawson would get a rousing reception from my colleagues here in the Country Party. The Country Party is the party that has had the interests of the wheat growers most at heart over the decades and the Party that has helped them to make the wheat industry a solid and prosperous industry. No matter what the honourable member for Dawson says, the crux of this situation is that the wheat grower of Australia has realised that he is in the international arena for selling his product and that there is a danger of there being too much wheat in the world and that therefore some sensible estimation of the possible sales of wheat internationally has to be made and applied to the likely Australian wheat crop. Wheat is a saleable commodity and can be purchased by people. According to the industry itself some sort of agreement has to be reached to sell wheat.
I shall now mention a couple of matters in relation to the two Supply Bills that are being debated. First, I am disappointed to note that in the Supplementary Estimates there is no provision for the payment of money to the Victorian Government for assistance to shires and people who suffered serious damage in the bush fires on about 8th January in and around Melbourne and up in the districts of Alexandra and Yea. Unfortunately, it is a fact of life that bush fires occur. They take only a few hours to destroy thousands of acres of grasslands, many houses, fences and stock, and then they are gone. All that remains is a blackened mess. Then the seemingly unwieldy machinery of government crawls into action. People who were affected by the bush fire had to apply for assistance through their local shire council. The shire was badly affected. The shire council itself had to apply to the State Government for assistance. These fires occurred on Sth or 9th January this year. On my reckoning that was about 4 months and 16 days ago, but not one penny has been sent to the Victorian Government from the Commonwealth Government.
As I understand it, and there is a certain amount of confidential information that cannot be revealed at this moment, it took the State Government over 3 months to apply to the Commonwealth Government for any assistance. Surely we can come to a better arrangement in this day and age. Some emergency amount of money should be made available as soon as a disaster occurs. It is obvious that some sort of assistance will be necessary from the Commonwealth Government to the States in relation to bush fires, floods and so on which happen overnight. I have not come here today with a practical suggestion all worked out. I ask the relative governments to consider the suggestion that they set up a quicker way of dealing with these things and of making emergency finance available immediately. Fencing, particularly steel posts, are destroyed in bush fires, and the first thing the farmer has to do is get his fences up.
I mentioned the areas of Yea and Alexandra because they are in my electorate, because the most recent fires occurred in these areas on the same day as the terrible fires occurred along the Geelong Road at Laura. If any member of this House was a farmer, a shire councillor or the secretary of a shire in those areas it would be reasonable for him to ask why 4 months and 16 days have passed since this terrible fire without the people having had a detailed offer of financial assistance or even a rejection of their request for assistance for emergency finance to repair bridges. It may interest the House and the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Hulme), who is sitting at the table, and who no doubt has had experience of bush fires during his many years in public life, to know that the Shire of Yea has calculated that it will cost it $30,000 to repair just the bridges in the shire. It is a reasonably small shire. It has said that it just cannot get the money. Even the interest on money borrowed to do the work will be an unbearable burden.
– It is a very productive shire, though.
– Of course it is a productive shire, but it is not too productive after the bush fire, as at least two-thirds of it was burnt out. I drove around it, and I know. It was a sad and sorry sight. I ask two things. First of all, a new arrangement that expedites payments from the Federal Government to State governments and secondly I ask those concerned in the Federal Government to expedite this matter as quickly as possible and to see that, if there is a request for assistance for finance to help repair bridges in these shires, that request is agreed to.
I refer now to another subject, which was debated in the House yesterday and which I have brought to the attention of the Government on many occasions. I refer to the decentralisation of industry and population. 1 am disappointed to see that there is not in the Supplementary Estimates or in the Supply Bills an allocation of at least $20m to be made available on special terms to companies which wish to establish their industries outside a radius of say SO miles of our existing capital cities. Such an allocation is absolutely necessary to achieve successful decentralisation of industry outside our great capital cities.
– How would the Government administer such a fund?
– The honourable member for Gellibrand asks how we would administer it. How do we administer the Commonwealth Development Bank? We could administer this fund in the same way and use the same principles. We could call it the Commonwealth Decentralisation Bank.
No-one can tell me that it cannot be done. It has been done in other countries, so there is no reason why it cannot be done here. Two words have suddenly been used by people who talk about decentralisation. They are ‘regional development’. These are the magic words.
– Or balanced development.
– Regional development is entirely different from balanced development. The words ‘regional development’ are nice sounding words, but I put it to the House that that is not a principle that this Government or any other government ought to adopt and so think that they are tackling the problem of decentralisation of industry in Australia. The accepted definition of regional development is that a few towns that are reasonably small at the moment will be selected for a special allocation of finance and will have special incentives, government assistance and promotion officers made available to them to built! them up to a population of 100,000 people or more. This is the objective of the regional development scheme in Victoria. I disagree flatly with that principle.
The reasons why I disagree with it are these: First of all, it picks out 4 or 5 towns in a State for development. What about the hundreds of other towns in that State? This policy has the effect of destroying the initiative of people in those other towns, lt has the” effect of crushing their spirit, ls it fair to do this? Is it right, by picking out a certain centre, perhaps to make that centre apathetic to the extent that its people will say: ‘We do not need to worry any more. We do not need to take pride in our town ourselves. The Government will fix our problem of attracting more industries. Why not put each town on as even a basis as possible, particularly towns of substantive size? Why pick out just a few areas that will be developed to the detriment of all else and, in so doing, destroy the initiative of thousands of country people? Why should the chances of success of people in so many towns remain unrealised because those towns cannot expand and attract new industries?
I have never seen a cost estimate of this principle. I would be very interested to see it, particularly if this regional development is to be so much more economic than other methods of decentralisation. Surely there must be appeal in the fact that there are so many thousands of medium sized towns in country areas in which people have worked hard to build up those towns and have undertaken projects to further development. The work and initiative of these people are to be destroyed suddenly by this concept of regional development.
For about 4 or 5 years now, a joint Commonwealth-State committee concerned with decentralisation has been established. We have heard very little from it. I do not think that it should take this committee so long to come up with some findings on some aspects of decentralisation. I am not particularly in favour of it presenting a full-blown report to this Parliament. I am in favour of it presenting some sort of scheme, findings or tentative conclusions that it has arrived at and leaving final action to the Federal and State governments. Also, I am in favour of that committee taking evidence from members of this Parliament and members of State parliaments in order to hear their views on this matter.
In a debate here yesterday, some speeches were made by members on the Government side, which, in my opinion, were not realistic at all regarding what sort of incentives and what type of decentralisation the Government ought to encourage. I do hope that it has not or will not become the policy of this Government to base ideas for the decentralisation of industry solely on the location of natural resources and raw materials. For years I have heard the story that if people in a country town can find certain natural resources or raw materials in its proximity, this is the best hope of decentralisation. That theory works out sometimes, but not very often. Let us take the tobacco industry as an example. Are there any tobacco factories in areas where tobacco is grown? Of course there are not. Tobacco factories are placed in the capital cities. Undoubtedly there are certain country areas in which factories are located mainly to process produce from the soil. I refer to such industries as the fruit industry and the tomato industry. Yet, a lot of the tomatoes grown in the Goulburn Valley are taken to Melbourne to be processed.
It seems to me that, if people wish to advocate this principle of decentralisation - that is, that decentralisation is to occur where raw materials are available - we will soon run out of areas to decentralise. Iron ore, zinc, lead, copper and coal are not found all over Australia. Agricultural and other products of the soil are limited to relatively few manufacturing industry possibilities. Once the opportunities for establishing those industries in country areas are exhausted, what industries are we to depend on to promote decentralisation in country areas or areas outside capital cities? Are we to rely on the agricultural industry? We cannot rely on abattoirs. In fact, abattoirs established in country areas have a very sorry history. Are we to have a small textile mill established in each wool growing centre? Is this the sort of decentralisation that we are to see involving the use of natural resources or raw materials which some people advocate?
It has been said that the Government ought not to subsidise the establishment of industries in country areas. Why not? We are subsidising every other industry, primary or secondary, in various areas of Australia. Tariff protection is given to a number of industries, both primary and secondary. Subsidies are provided for primary and secondary industries. I cannot see any reason why the Federal Government should - I am not saying that it has; but I certainly hope it will not - declare, as a policy, that it will not subsidise the development of secondary industry in country areas. Subsidisation of industries by financial or tariff means seems to be the general principle in use all over the world? Surely those people who advocate that each industry must stand on its own feet do not think that Australia has its own special type of economic system that makes it different from the rest of the world?
There is no doubt that this Government, as the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) said yesterday, has done a great deal to decentralise people and industry. But the fact of the matter is that the moves that have been made by the Federal Government and the State governments, whose prime responsibility decentralisation is, have not been successful. The percentage of the Australian population concentrated in and around Melbourne,
Sydney and the other State capitals as well as Wollongong and Newcastle is increasing constantly. Therefore, all the legislation that has been brought down by governments, both State and Federal, has not been successful in achieving the desired results regarding decentralisation. So, 1 urge the Government again to listen to and to act upon the matters that 1 have suggested.
Let me make, in conclusion, a few practical suggestions to the Government that it, and the joint Commonwealth-State committee dealing with decentralisation - wherever it may be - can consider. First of all, I remind the House that I suggested at the start of my speech on decentralisation that a fund ought -to be establshed. I said that it should be $20m, but make it $10m and see how it goes. That fund would make money available to industrialists who want to establish industries outside a 50-mile radius of capital cities. Long term loans could be granted at a low rate of interest. It has been said before, and I say again, that we have to give some incentive to industry. These loans could be used for the construction of factories or the purchase of plant and machinery. A price could be fixed for the basic products used by industries in country areas. The Government has already established a uniform price for oil and petrol. Why should it not fix a uniform price for, say, steel? Incentives could also be given to local authorities through the State governments for the provision of water, sewerage and roads. The Government could subsidise the use of electricity and natural gas. I still say, and I will keep on saying until I am proven wrong, that in order to achieve the successful decentralisation of secondary industries in Australia on a reasonable scale the Federal and State governments will have to apply the subsidy principle in various directions This will have to be done no matter how much we may not like subsidies and no matter how strongly some academic theoreticians oppose them.
One of the biggest burdens that industries and people in country area face is the inclusion of the cost of freight in the price of an article when sales tax is determined. For example, a person purchasing a motor vehicle in Wangaratta would have to pay sales tax on that vehicle calculated on the basis of the cost of the vehicle in Mel bourne and the freight to Wangaratta. This is unfair and should be abolished. The level of telephone charges for country industries should also be investigated if we wish to encourage country industries.
The two major points I have put are, firstly, that I am in favour of adopting ideas that will encourage people without direction, to set up industries in areas outside the capital cities and, secondly, that a lot of finance will be necessary to achieve worthwhile and effective decentralisation of the population and of industry. I hope the Federal Government will come up with a practical and concrete policy to assist in this direction. I think that it is agreed by all who have considered the matter that an effective decentralisation policy is necessary to slow down the tremendous growth of the capital cities.
– The honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) referred to the fire ravaged areas of Victoria. I sympathise with the people and the local government authorities in those areas in their financial plight. But 1 point out to the honourable member that many municipalities throughout Australia suffer from lack of finance. I will illustrate my point very clearly in a few moments. 1 agree with the remarks of the honourable member for Indi regarding decentralisation. Decentralisation became a dirty word and the expression ‘balanced development’ was used. That expression has been replaced and it is now called ‘regional development’. 1 agree that the only way decentralisation will be achieved is by the granting of subsidies. I remind the House that in the time of Australia’s greatest crisis - the Second World War - it was found that decentralisation was possible and the Federal Government was prepared to help industries become established in country areas. But when the war ended and we returned to something like normal conditions the governments which came and went gradually withdrew the subsidies that the country industries were receiving and the hopes of decentralisation collapsed.
As the House is debating the Appropriation and Supply Bills, it is possible for honourable members to roam far and wide and raise any subject. I wish to take the opportunity to make some remarks about some of the deficiencies that exist in the community today, despite the Government’s claims that we are living in a period of great affluence. From time to time the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has made statements along these lines. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) referred to some of them. White Papers are also circulated by the Treasurer and other Ministers on the state of the economy. Our affluence has been the keynote in every one that is issued. We hear much about national development and our great expansion, but the institutions that really service the community are struggling for finance. I refer to the local government authorities. I received a letter from the Town Clerk of the City of Footscray in the following terms:
Council is experiencing extreme difficulty this year in raising its loan allocation and at present is $150,000 short of the amount required.
The purpose of the loan is as follows: $125,000- Capital Expenditure- Electricity Supply Department; loan term up to 40 years. $25,000 - Part of Council’s contribution towards the cost of works carried out in the Municipality by the Country Roads Board - loan term up to 20 years. As this loan allocation lapses on 30th June, the matter is of urgency and the purpose of this letter is to request that you approach the honourable the Treasurer in an endeavour to obtain an advance from one of the Commonwealth Superannuation Funds.
Because of the urgency of the matter, I thought I should approach the Treasurer. I covered the letter from the Town Clerk with a letter from myself, pointing out the position. For about 12 years I was Chairman of the Public Works Committee of the Footscray City Council, I was a member of the Council for 20 years and 1 am a former Mayor of the City of Footscray. Therefore, I had some idea of the difficulties the Council was experiencing. I went along. to the Treasurer’s office and discussed the matter with a member of his staff. Whilst I was in his office telephone calls were made to a representative of the Australian Loan Council, with a negative result. I left the letters with the Treasurer. Needless to say when I left the Treasurer’s office I was firmly convinced that no crumbs could be gathered there.
The letter I forwarded to the Treasurer was dated 28th April. I received a reply on 14th May requesting that I get in touch with some of the lending institutions in and around Canberra - namely, the Commonwealth Superannuation Board, the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board and the Papua and New Guinea Superannuation Board. But long before getting that letter - indeed, on the day I went to the Treasurer’s office, which was 28th April - I was so convinced that I would not get any assistance from his office that I rang nine institutions, including the three the Treasurer advised me to ring, requesting assistance. The reply that I received from those institutions was that no money was available. The situation confronting the Footscray City Council is characteristic of the situation of many other local government bodies in Australia, particularly in Victoria. This matter was referred to by the honourable member for Indi. In this era of affluence and with this great pool of financial resources of which the Government boasts the Footscray City Council could not obtain a solitary cent. As I said before, I wonder how many other municipalities are in the same position. I know from experience and from inquiries I have made that there are many.
For many years it has been apparent to those who, like myself, represent working class areas and see the difficulties which people face, particularly young people, that the affluence to which the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and other Government supporters so often refer extends only into certain spheres. It is notable how generous the Government can be in giving away our national resources. Our oil, iron ore and bauxite are only a few of the gifts which this Government has handed on a silver platter to overseas financial moguls. ‘Charity begins at home’ is an old saying but ‘not on your life’, says the Government. In the Government’s view charity begins in the laps of the hungry millionaires of Wall Street - hungry as they always are for bigger and better returns on their investments. The Government claims that the minerals boom will bring increased prosperity to the Australian work force and will mean an improvement in wage levels. Nothing could be further from the truth. If any workers benefit from the great oil and mineral discoveries in Australia they will be the workers of the United States of America and Japan. If we examine closely ail the circumstances surrounding these discoveries we will see that no great use is made of local labour, nor is there any great demand for local materials. As I remarked previously, most of the profits accruing from these enterprises flow out of the country. This state of affairs does little to increase the pay packet of the Australian worker. Resources of great wealth which are rightly the property of the people of Australia are virtually being given away and the wage earners of this country have little hope of gaining anything from those resources. It is a case of the benefits going to him that hath, not to him that needs.
I now desire to refer to the industrial trouble besetting Australia due to the bated penal clauses of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. As was stated this morning, it must surely have been obvious for some years that the vicious way in which the Act was being applied would lead to total disruption. The Australian Council of Trade Unions has tried to convince the Government that this pernicious legislation should be repealed. The action that arose out of the gaoling of Clarrie O’Shea is an example of the hatred which the ordinary unionist holds for the penal clauses of the legislation. About 80% of the people living in my electorate would be ordinary unionists - decent men and women. I have known Clarrie O’Shea for 35 years. I want to put on record the facts behind the tramways dispute. The tramways authority in Melbourne responsible for public transport in the city decided to introduce one man buses in the city in spite of the unions objections on the ground that the loading for routes was too heavy. The workers refused to work the routes with one man buses but agreed to continue working on a two man basis pending the decision of the court in the matter. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board refused the union’s proposal. It was one man or nothing.
The Board applied to the Court to have inserted in the award a clause banning strikes. This was done immediately and the union was fined $500 for each day that its members remained on strike. After several days had passed the Arbitration Court found in favour of the union. Remember that: The Court gave its finding in favour of the union. The Tramways Board then appealed to the High Court on the ground that only an employer has the right to set working conditions. The Board won its appeal. The dispute continued for 3 months and finally the union was again successful, lt again won. Fines totalling $7,000 had been imposed on the union which refused to pay. We have seen the industrial consequence of the Board’s refusing to accept the decision of the umpire. The Board did not win in the final analysis. It cost Victoria in particular, and Australia generally, millions of dollars in lost wages and production. I want those facts to go on record.
– Who is the Chairman of the Board?
– A man from Brisbane - Major-General Risson. As long as the legislation remains on the statute book in its present form Australia can expect further industrial trouble of a duration much longer than the trouble we have just experienced. I appeal to the Government to examine the situation to see what can be done to clean up the legislation and to modify it. I even go so far as to ask the Government to repeal the legislation. The penal clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act have done more to erode industrial relations and to make the worker and the unions lose faith in our arbitration system than all other things put together. No negotiation’ has become the policy of employers. It has even become the policy of semi-government and government bodies. This was the attitude of the railways authorities in the four States concerned in the last dispute involving locomotive drivers. Under direction from their Ministers the railway authorities persisted in their attitude until they had a strike on their hands. Then in an attempt to stop the unions striking the authorities invoked the penal clauses of the legislation. After they had the trouble on their hands and the Australian Council of Trade Unions had been brought into the dispute, the railway authorities discussed with the ACTU the very claims which the union had been attempting to discuss with them for months.
I deplore the attitude of the Tramways Board. Soon in this House we will be debating legislation to increase the salaries of judges by $6,000 a year. I am not being disrespectful of the judiciary but I would draw a comparison between the Government’s treatment of the workers and its treatment of other people in the community. When the workers ask for an increase in wages they are told that the country cannot afford it. In the 50 years that I have been in the trade union movement and the 48 years I have been a member of the Australian Labor Party, year after year I have heard it said that the country cannot afford a rise in wages for the workers. When a move was made to introduce the 40-hour week the Government appointed a royal commission to see whether the country could afford a 40-hour week. The royal commission came down in favour of the workers. Since then the Government has not set up a royal commission to investigate the claims of the workers. It acts through the Arbitration Court. What a despicable attitude.
I can remember the day when tne employer organisations said that arbitration was loaded against them, but they soon corrected any likelihood of the system operating to their disadvantage. Today arbitration is loaded against the worker in many respects. I have just given an indication of this. Claims are taking years to be finalised. Retrospectivity of wage increases as compensation for the delay in hearing claims is never granted. The Government talks about affluent times. When the worker asks for a new concept of the living wage based not on his bare needs but on a living standard that is socially acceptable in accordance with the prosperous and affluent times of which the Government speaks, his claim is refused on the ground that the country cannot afford it. Yet the Government talks about the affluence in this country. The Government boasts of the increase in the gross national product which means, of course, the increase in the quantity of those goods which the workers produce. But any hint of a move for an increase in wages brings the cry that the country cannot afford an increase. Wages have virtually become pegged due to the delay in hearing cases, but profits go uncontrolled. What do I mean by that? While cases are being held up in arbitration courts and these delays occur living costs soar higher and higher. As was indicated by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), when the workers do get their wage increase the living costs have soared far far above the increase they receive, and they get practically nothing at all. Protests against this, especially if they involve strikes, invoke the application of the penal clauses. It has long been a question in the minds of genuine unionists of just how much longer can we bear this injustice.
The Treasurer went on record in Adelaide on 25th March of this year as saying: Few things are more basic to the living standards than housing.
I would correct him and say. ‘The thing most basic to housing is the ability of the individual to meet the ever-increasing spiralling costs of housing and interest rates. It is true to say that the cost of a home has increased by about 4%. So too has the price of land increased. Indeed, in the city of Footscray, which is where I live, or anywhere else in my electorate, it would be hard to get a block of land for less than $6,000. Also, it would be hard to buy a new home for less than about $10,500. Add to all this the rateal increases. For instance, the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works rating was up to 9.9% more than last year’s rating. Put this together with the increases in most municipal ratings and we find that people are paying a combined rate of about $100 to $125 a year. The people who are hardest hit are those in the working class suburbs, pensioners and those on fixed incomes. But this is never taken into consideration when wages are discussed.
To give the House an indication of the other side of the scale as far as affluent times are concerned, I am indebted to the ‘Sunday Mirror’ which printed an article under the heading ‘Rented Homes out of Workers’ Reach’. The article stales:
This points up the fact that only a man wealthy enough to buy a house outright can give his children a backyard to play in or his wife a laundry of her own.
The article pointed out that: ‘Of 34 real estate agents a “Sunday Mirror” called upon this week, only 5 could offer houses for rent’. The article continued:
We are a city catering only for the single and the childless people - people willing to live a tenement life with neighbours above, below and on all sides.
We offer no provision for the man- on average income- who wants room to breathe.
It’s nearly impossible to rent a house in Sydney - and harder still to do so economically.
In fact, the article goes on to give the rents that are charged. It says:
Eighty-five per cent of the callers were people with young, growing families.
I calculate that the average rent that was asked would be about §40 or S41 a week and the lowest would be about $25. But there were plenty of flats available at rents that most probably would take a man one month’s work to pay for one week’s occupancy. This is just an example. Another article I wish to refer to is headed ‘Basic Wages “Hopeless, Inadequate” ‘. The man concerned in this article pointed out that the Government was asking him to live on $41.18 a week. The man said:
We find we just cannot do it. It has reached the stage where my wife has to go to work every day to keep up.
This means that the children are left on their own every afternoon after school until she arrives from work.
The reader said his food, clothes, rent, electricity, fares and medical and chemist bills totalled $51.41 every week.
With my wife working this leaves us wilh SI a week to spend on entertainment.
If the honourable members want a further story on the other side of the scale of this so-called affluency, let me refer to an article which states that Melbourne is a city of 42,000 poor children who are growing up in acute poverty. The family income of these children is less than $33 a week. A survey on this problem was carried out by Professor Ronald Henderson. I could read this article to honourable members but time does not permit me to do so. I ask: Where do we draw a line of demarcation between justice and injustice? What defines affluence and poverty? Recently a young couple told me that they lived in . fear of a day’s illness or a day out of work, such was the extent to which their pay envolope was committed. They further said that they and their two children lived on the cheapest commodities. They did not have television or indeed any money to spend on entertainment. Therefore, I ask: Since affluence is the keynote of the Government’s propaganda today, what constitutes poverty? I am supported in this case by the Leader of the Country Party in Victoria. He goes on record as saying that our family life ‘is in jeopardy’. An article in the ‘Australian’ on the subject had this to say:
Family life in Australia faced disintegration, the leader of the Victorian Branch of the Country Party, Mr G. C. Moss, warned yesterday. He said Australian couples had to face a bias against them from the moment they are married.
Newly-weds could not find homes. If they dared to have children they could seldom find medical care in the country or adequate education and selfemployment in the city.
These are things which members of the Country Party should be on their feet about. But we never see them on their feet to speak about these subjects. Yet, here is their leader in Victoria saying these things. The article went on to state:
In emphasising the need for maintaining a strong family life in Australia, Mr Moss said: Without family life, the very substance of our community is in jeopardy. lt is not necessary for me to tell you that many of the political moves being bandied around today are fundamentally opposed to the continuance of family life.
It seems to me that almost from the time young people get married there is a positive bias against them.
He asks: ‘Is it most likely-
– Of course, the honourable member has never lived through any of that. The honourable member is only a boy - he is only 25. He has never known what it is to do without a crust in his mouth, yet he talks about rubbish. He will live to see the day when he is hungry. When that day comes probably he will be prepared to crawl on his hands and knees to get a crust.
– You have never done that either.
– Yes I have. I was one time in sunny Australia and saw two of my kids practically starving. So, the honourable member should not talk about these things. I have been through these experiences and not too many people in this House can claim that.
– I can give the honourable member a few examples.
– The honourable member can say a lot but he does not do anything about giving anything to other people. The article continues:
It is most likely that many of these young married people will soon become parents, and what will they have to face up to? The same defects in the system as we have had to overcome.
Will their children have a better education, more doctors to look after them when they are sick, a better chance of self-employment, a chance of owning their own home?
On the present basis the answer to all these questions is a great big no.
– Who said that?
– The Leader of the Country Party in Victoria. So much for this affluence. Mr Deputy Speaker, I will give you another indication of how a man could be forced to take action, and find the penal clauses invoked against him. Recently I had occasion to bring before the Public Service Board the case of a number of men who had been waiting 11 years for a reclassification. I am happy to say that this state of affairs was rectified 48 hours after I had spoken to the Board. But I hasten to say that had these men become tired of the apathy and the waiting for a decision to be made in their case; had they become fed up with the injustice that they were bearing and gone on strike, the first thing that would have been thought about to bring them to heel would have been the imposition of the penal clauses. The trouble in this country is that this Government is isolating itself regarding the needs of the community, and its apparent disregard for very apparent causes.
The Government can claim much credit however, in Communist name calling. But I want to go on record and say that whatever a man or men or trade unions may be called because of their fight for justice, I would far sooner be called those names than be ranked among the dead blotting paper apathetics of this Government. These people are human beings, and human beings have a right to some form of dialogue. Everyone has a right to be heard. There is a great need in this country to break down fences, not to build them.
Having referred to the penal clauses, 1 want to see whether it is possible to get on record the contents of the document I have in front of me. I think that every member of Parliament has received a copy of this letter from the Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draftsmen of Australia. This body was presented with a legal bill for $1,104, because the employers in the space tracking industry were apprehensive that there was going to be a stoppage in the industry. Because the employers had this apprehension they pulled the Association before the court, and as a result of legalities which lasted for I hour and 20 minutes, the Association was presented with a bill for $1,104. I have the itemised bill here. I suppose it would be too much to ask for it to be incorporated in Hansard. The meat of the Association’s letter is in these paragraphs:
This occasion was the first time this Association had been involved with the penal clauses of this Act. The reaction of our members has been one of overwhelming hostility al the existence of clauses in an act which permit the employers to drain our resources on the grounds of their apprehensions’. A further reaction has been the growing awareness of our members that whilst strikes are legal in Australia so long as an organisation docs not hold one, they become illegal as soon as an organisation does become involved in a stoppage.
The revulsion of our membership lias been so great that at our Federal Conference held in Brisbane this month our Federal Council - drawn from all States and Territories of the Commonwealth - unanimously passed the following resolutions:
That this Federal Conference of the Association of Architects, Engineers. Surveyors and Draftsmen of Australia condemns the Federal Government for its unilateral approach to industrial relations in Australia by the retention of the penal powers over trade unions and gives notice of its intention to use all avenues available to it to have these penal powers revoked. Further it expresses its detestation of the actions of the employers and their organisations in hiding behind the penal provisions of the Act.
Other unionists have been putting up with this sort of thing for years. Here is a white collar organisation which has had a taste of the penal provisions. It has immediately sought to have them revoked. Therefore, I ask in all decency for these matters to be looked at and for the penal provisions to be struck out or for something to be done to make them more presentable to industry. In conclusion I say: Give the people of this country a fair share of the gains of progress about which the Government boasts and industrial trouble will disappear tomorrow.
– I should like to remind the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Mclvor) that arbitration is a Commonwealth constitutional responsibility. But the Commonwealth is responsible only for the setting up of the courts. It does not have power to control them. I do not think that any of us should want to rush in and dismantle something that has worked very well for many years. In the short space of time available to me in this debate I want to say something about education, in particular, the allocation of funds to independent schools. I urge the Government to pay very close attention to the urgent need to assist even further in the area of independent school finance. I believe that many independent schools are at this moment on the point of financial collapse. I find it impossible to understand the reasoning of some honourable members opposite who seek, in my opinion, to encourage this disaster and thereby place a great and unnecessary additional burden on the State system. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) has said on a few occasions that the Government is doing absolutely nothing for the State school system. I would say that this is sheer rot. Over the last 10 years the Commonwealth has spent more than $ 1,300m on university or tertiary education, and the number of graduates has doubled from 100 to 200 per 100,000 head of population. I submit that this is of benefit to all students, irrespective of the school system from which they matriculate. In the same way, Commonwealth scholarships are of benefit to all students. Another example is the teacher training programme, for which the Government has supplied $24m for capital facilities over the past 3 years in order to provide an additional 5,000 places in teacher training colleges in the States. This will directly benefit both the independent and State school systems. In the same way, the provision of science laboratories and libraries in schools will benefit both systems.
I believe in the dual system of education, with freedom of choice to the parent. The assistance given by this Government is aimed at improving the quality as well as the quantity of education throughout the Commonwealth, uninfluenced by the oldfashioned and unreasonable expressions of class prejudice about which we hear from time to time. In a recent debate, and on other occasions, I have heard the honourable member for Hindmarsh refer to some of the private schools in South Australia. On one or two occasions he referred in particular to the Scotch College, to St Peters College and to the Prince Alfred College. He has said that he would not give these three colleges a brass farthing because they have more money than they can poke a stick at.
– Who said that?
– The honourable member for Hindmarsh. I am concerned about this because obviously he is out of touch with the true position. Almost all independent or church schools are financed solely by fees charged to parents. Very few schools receive any bequests. For a number of years I served on the Scotch College school council. Many people think that this school is financed by the Presbyterian Church and that money which is left to the Church flows on to the school. This is not so. The whole of the finance for that school and for similar schools is raised by fees which are charged to parents. When there is an increase in teachers’ salaries and other expenses, fees also are increased.
The same comment applies to Catholic schools. It is becoming increasingly difficult for Catholic schools to operate. The ratio of lay teachers to teaching priests and sisters is increasing. I understand that in very few cases now is the ratio of lay teachers to teaching priests less than 50%. So when there is an increase in teachers’ salaries in Catholic schools, there is also an increase in fees charged to parents. I thought that honourable members opposite showed a scant lack of understanding of the legislation concerning science blocks. If the honourable member for Hindmarsh understands the sort of things he has been saying, then he has been making an attack on the State advisory committees for both Catholic and non-Catholic schools.
On one occasion the honourable member referred to the Marist Brothers School in his electorate and said that it is receiving 10% of the money made available for science blocks. He compared it unfavourably with the Rostrevor school which receives a much higher amount. The whole point about this is that the funds are made available on the recommendation of the State advisory committees. In case the honourable member for Hindmarsh is not aware of the way in which the system works, I state that funds for science blocks are made available to the States based on an Australia-wide average. He may care to note that approximately 75% of these funds are appropriated to Government schools - in spite of his assertion that the Government does nothing for Government schools - because the Australian average shows that about 75% of children attend Government schools. Tha remaining 25% of the funds was divided originally - and I understand this has been altered marginally - as two-thirds to nonCatholic schools and one-third to Catholic schools. The amount actually allocated to the different schools are decided by the State advisory committees. lt is worth having a look at who comprises these advisory committees. As regards Catholic schools, in South Australia the Chairman is the Archbishop of Adelaide, the Most Rev. Dr Beovich, and the members are Bishop Gleeson; the Bishop of Port Pirie, the Most Rev. B. Gallagher, the Director of Catholic Education, Rev. Father Mulvihill, and the Inspector of Schools at Port Pirie, Rev. Father Kenny, The Government bases its financial allocation under the science blocks scheme on whatever this committee recommends. It will do so with the library scheme, so any attack upon either scheme is actually an attack upon that committee and not the Government. For the non-Catholic schools the advisory committee is convened by the Bishop of Adelaide and comprises representatives from Concordia, Girton, Immanuel, Kings, Methodist Ladies College, Presbyterian Girls College, Prince Alfred College, Pulteney Grammar, St Peters Girls, Scotch, Westminster, Wilderness and Woodlands schools. On that committee’s recommendations, funds are allocated for science blocks in the non-Catholic schools.
The honourable member for Hindmarsh used some extravagant expressions when he spoke about these schools and the people who send their children to them. He used such expressions as: ‘If the Government has money to give to private schools it should give it to the schools for the poor’ and The Government should not grease the fat pig as has been done in the past.’ He is very fond of these expressions. He spoke about rich parents. I would submit that these expressions are old-fashioned relics of the days of the class struggle which he remembers so well and cannot forget. He is actually talking about parents who pay to send their children to independent schools when he talks about the very rich and the fat pigs.
– What did he say about Rostrevor?
– He implied that the parents who sent their children to Rostrevor were rich and that we were, in helping them, greasing the fat pigs. Whatever he says about the students at Rostrevor applies equally to their parents. I strongly object to such expressions. He should realise that these parents are rarely wealthy, lt is impossible, under our taxation laws, to accumulate wealth. This is what I find anyway. The level of taxation takes care of any possibility of becoming wealthy. When he talks about these people he is talking about people whom I believe to be typical independent, hard working Australians who, in many cases, forgo their holidays and work in their leisure time to get extra money. They live modestly for many years so that their children can be educated at their expense in a school of their choice. These Australians are not the fat pigs of the community. They are, in fact, the salt of the earth. I hope that the Government will move swiftly to sustain the independent schools, many of which I am quite sure are in very severe financial difficulty. I support the Bill.
– The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), in opening the debate for the Opposition, raised the question of expenditure for the Department of Immigration and he referred to the amount that is included in these additional appropriations. He mentioned specifically the amount of $1,877,000 extra for the United Kingdom-Australia assisted passages and the amount of $1,499,000 for assisted passages from Europe. He asked for an explanation of why the amounts have been increased, and why this expenditure had not been foreseen at the time the immigration programme was being determined last year at Budget time.
The appropriation for United Kingdom assisted passages was $24,658,000, which was based on an expected intake of 70,000 assisted British migrants. In fact there will be 73,000 arrivals, but we will need to pay for 76,600 because we pay on departure and not on arrival and there will be people on the water at the end of the financial year. When we drew up the programme we had in mind that in 1966-67 we achieved 70,000 migrants from this source, but in <‘1967-68 the intake dropped to 55,000.
There were reasons for that and we are aware of them, but we set ourselves the task of lifting the number back to 70,000. Having regard to the fact that last year the intake was only 55,000 we thought that perhaps we were being ambitious in setting our target at 70,000. In fact, we have achieved a bigger number and that is why the need for the additional expenditure. The programme is formulated in about June or July so that provision can be made in the Budget in August and, of course, one is looking ahead and cannot foresee with accuracy.
The honourable member referred to the expenditure on assisted passages from Europe. We have expenditure under the special assistance scheme and the general assistance scheme and the total amount provided was $4,083,000, but it is being increased by $907,000 in these additional appropriations because we have increased the number that we have attracted under our special passage programme by 2,250. Originally we expected an intake of 12,000; we now find that it will be over 14,000. We could not have foreseen the situation more accurately when we had to make our estimates. In fact, I feel obliged to tell the honourable member that not only is an additional amount necessary in these appropriations but already, because of the success we have had in attracting migrants and the numbers that we have committed for passage, we will not have enough money even with this additional appropriation. With all the good management in the world it is not possible to get more accurate figures.
– Due to the shortage of time I have been asked to reduce my speech from 30 minutes to 15 minutes. I have had to eliminate some of the matters that I wanted to discuss. One of these related to the fact that this Supply Bill is a Bill to approve of expenditure to carry the Parliament through to the next Budget. I would have liked the Government to have taken this opportunity of makingprovision to give pensioners an immediate increase in their pension rates. One matter to which I draw attention concerns taxation reimbursements to the States. I do this because the Premiers of Victoria and New South Wales are always crying and squealing that they would like to do a lot more and they would if they could get more money from the Commonwealth. Every time they want money, or someone requests expenditure on some public work, they say: *We would like to do it but we do not get enough money from the Commonwealth’. There is only one way to get more money from the Commonwealth and that is for the Commonwealth to increase its rates of taxation. Instead of passing the buck these Premiers should be honest and ask the Commonwealth Government to increase its taxation so that they could be given more money to spend in their States. Notwithstanding their squealing, I maintain that they get more than a fair go.
It is interesting to note how much the Commonwealth collects on behalf of the States by way of taxation and how it is disbursed. I should like to give figures for each State but because my time is limited I shall deal with New South Wales. Tax collections for 1968-69 will total about $4,869m, consisting of $3 14m in customs, $854m in excise duty, $4 17m in sales tax and $ 1,507m in income tax from the ordinary salary and wage earner who pays his tax as he goes. But in all the Commonwealth collects from all these sources $4,869m. The tax reimbursement to New South Wales is $276m out of the $4,869ni I mentioned, but that is not all the money it receives. The Premier does not take into account that the Commonwealth pays on behalf of New South Wales $3 84m for social services in the form of pensions, child endowment, unemployment and sickness benefits and so on.
Then we come to repatriation payments. Repatriation pensioners living in New South Wales receive $69m. Then we have the money that has been spent by the Commonwealth on the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme. That money is being spent in New South Wales, not for the benefit of the Commonwealth - I would hope it would benefit the nation - but for the benefit of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The New South Wales share of that would be about $20m a year. We have just dealt with the matter of Commonwealth aid for roads. Over a period of 5 years New South Wales will receive $7 6m each year for this purpose. Then we come to defence expenditure. This is the biggestexpenditure we have, but it is not spent wholly for the Commonwealth. It is spent for the defence of the whole of Australia, which includes the six States. Most of the munitions for the armed services are made, not in the Australian Capital Territory, but in the various States. I would add that the benefit to New South Wales would be about $300m a year.
Then we have the amount of money that is paid for war service homes in New South Wales. This amounts to about SI 5m. The biggest share of the dairy subsidy goes to the north coast of New South Wales, which is almost completely given over to dairying. This would amount to about $7m a year. The amount of the Commonwealth tax bill which is spent on education in New South Wales comes to about $20m a year. All immigrants do not come to Canberra; they go to the States. The New South Wales share of Commonwealth expenditure on immigration would amount to about $4m a year. New South Wales would benefit by about $lm from shipping around the coast. So one can see, taking this argument to its logical conclusion, that the money received by New South Wales from the Commonwealth would be about 25% of the whole taxation harvest; yet they squeal. The Premiers never say that we are spending all these other millions of dollars for social service payments and so on. I do not think that the Premier of New South Wales or the Premier of Victoria has any reason to complain. I think those two States receive more than a fair share and they should stop their weeping. They should stop shedding tears of blood over this question.
The other matter I wish to speak about is payroll tax. In my opinion payroll tax should not be levied on shire or municipal councils. I have a document before me from the Greater Wollongong City Council, which put up a special case. It reads:
At a Special Meeting held on 6th January 1969 called to consider the Council’s estimates of income and expenditure for 1969, it was resolved a strong protest be lodged with the Federal Treasurer against the imposition of payroll tax on local authorities.
The Council was disturbed particularly over the continually increasing costs of maintenance and administration, apart from the cost of capital provisions, which have to be passed on to ratepayers, and in an endeavour to keep rating to the lowest possible level, Council introduced new measures for the collection of income which have meant drastic reversals of policies which have been maintained for a considerable number of years previously.
The Council finds itself in a most invidious position under which its well established policies of social and welfare benefits to its citizens, where local government has been able to participate with State and Federal Governments, have had to be abandoned in order to preserve its financial equilibrium as far as the burden on its rate payers is concerned.
These are the activities that local government bodies - not only the Greater Wollongong City Council but all municipal councils - have had to delete from their community services and public works programmes. The Greater Wollongong City Council has had to delete a large number of amenity and improvement works for parks, playing fields, reserves and beaches, all of which are in great demand, lt has also had to introduce swimming pool admission charges. In addition, it has reduced by 50% the amount of rates waived for pensioners. Here we have another instance of assistance that could be given to councils. If the Government paid pensioners a higher rate of pension, the councils would not need to make a remission of rates to pensioners, but as it is the pensioners cannot afford to pay any more. It was resolved to discontinue the National Fitness Council vacation play centres unless the State Government bore the full cost. The Council has drastically reduced the amount provided for subsidies and donations to charitable and welfare organisations and institutions, and increased charges and fees for various other services. It has also, in common with other councils, had to restrict its payments for senior citizen centres, health clinics for aged and invalid pensioners, swimming pools, libraries and home nursing services. So one can see that the councils feel the effect of the payroll tax so badly that an exemption from it would help them to provide these community services.
I would like to finish, as my 15 minutes are almost up, by referring to the Bankstown Council. In the Bankstown municipal area 15i% of the land is owned by either the Commonwealth Government or the State Government. Because it is government owned, it is exempted from local government rates. If the Municipality of Bankstown could collect rates from such property it would increase its revenue from the State by $160,000 a year and by $286,000 a year from the Commonwealth. So it can be seen that whilst local government gives so much to the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth still imposes payroll tax on local government authorities and this, 1 say, is immoral. Last year the Government amended the Act to exempt secondary schools and universities from the tax because they were not operating for profit. Surely the Government could apply that principle to the municipal councils. They are nearly $ 1,000m in debt, and they are in debt because they are rendering community services. They are not operating for profit, just as the independent high schools are not operating for profit. 1 believe that when the Government brings down the Budget and is altering its legislation to give effect to new rates of taxes it should seriously consider exempting our local government bodies from payroll tax. They are so much in debt because of these taxes and such . an exemption would help considerably.
– The Appropriation Bill 1969 and the Supply Bill 1969 which are now before the House enable honourable members to discuss matters on a wide spectrum. ! want to briefly comment on the strike action that has been taking place in this country in the past 10 days. We know that this crisis has been coming to a head for some time, but it has been aggravated by the gaoling of Mr Clarrie O’Shea, the Victoria secretary of the Australian Tramway and Motor Omnibus Employees Association. The real cause for the strike is the unjust penal powers vested in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court which have been imposed on the workforce of this country by consecutive conservative governments, particularly since 1951 when the first Act with penal provisions was passed. The penal powers have been in force since 1956. I refer particularly to section 109 and section 111 of the Commonwealth Arbitration Act. Since 1956 the Australian trade union movement has been fined a total of $282,000 and of course the legal costs have exceeded $300,000. It is ironical to comment that during this same period the employers have only been fined $3,000.
This Government has been a protector of the monopolies of this country. This is a sectional government which represents the monopolistic interests of this nation. In fact 73,000 companies in this country make a profit. In the last financial year the profit made by these companies was $3,500ni of which the top 150 or 0.20% of those 73,000 companies earned 34%. If one looks at the top 826 or 1.1% of all companies one will find that they earned 55% of that S3,500m. The other 99% of all the companies earned a 45% of that total. It is this group that confronts the workforce of this country. lt is this group that passes on increased prices in their goods. This group has been the main factor in boosting the inflationary and cast spirals in this country. This is the group that has opposed the unions in their struggle before the arbitration courts for wage justice. This monopolistic group has used the courts of the land for frustrate the rights of workers to struggle for their rights and wage justice. Surely all honourable members will agree that every worker has a basic right to withdraw his labour. A worker has only his labour to sell and he should be able to withdraw it. He should not be controlled by a legal dog collar put on him by this Government that forces a man to go to work against his own will. If he goes out on strike then his union could be fined $1,000 a day. In one case in Western Australia they took action against individual persons concerned. Also there was similar action taken in the Trans Australia Airlines strike recently in Sydney. This Government has tremendous power in these penal provisions which it has used against the workers who have been struggling for an economic existence.
I know that people claim the Australian community to be an affluent society, but I find more and more in the community where I live in Sydney and also in other parts of Australia where I travel that there is a type of economic unemployment. People are working 40 hours a week but they are getting insufficient in return to exist economically. They either work long hours of overtime or take a second job or send their wives out to work so they can maintain an economic existence. They cannot exist on a 40-hour week pay envelope. This is the type of economic unemployment that I am talking about. In looking at the people of Australia the spectrum we see is that it is not only the blue collar workers or the workers in industry who are striving for economic justice, but also the airline pilots, the clerks and technicians who are striving for economic justice. It is the monopolistic sector of the community, this one-fifth of 1 % of all the companies earned a 34% profit of a total profit of S3,500m made last year which causes this type of economic unemployment. That is 150 companies out of 73,000 companies.
We know that small businessmen have great difficulties; we know the burden on small companies to pay company taxation. We know it is a burden for them, and we know that the monopolistic sector of the community takes into its price structure company taxation. Any price increase and any future development which a company may want is also taken into the price structure. This is all taken in under the present taxation structure.
There is no curbing by the Government of the monopolistic sector in our community. The Government in fact represents the monopolistic interests in both rural and urban sectors. At least the trade union movement has the courage and should have the right to strike. It has the right to struggle for wage justice within the community. Its members have the right to go and take a second job. They also have the right to work overtime if it is available. They have the right to send their wives out to work. However, there is a sector in the community which is finding it very difficult to live on the subsistance which it gets from the Government. I refer to the aged persons in receipt of the age pension. Recently the Curtin by-election was held, and in that by-election there was a demand for the abolition of the means test. I think all honourable members will agree that the means test should be abolished, but it should be a gradual process spaced over a period of years. There should be a progressive movement. Over the years there has been very little easing of the means test by the Government. If one looks at the permissible income one will find that from 1954 until April 1967 the attitude of the Government has been that it should be a fixed amount. In other words, a single person in receipt of private income could earn $7 a week and a married couple could earn $14 a week. That was the position from 1954 until April 1967 when the permissible income for a single pensioner was increased to $10 per week and to $17 per week for a married couple.
I know that in the early ’60s the Government brought in what it called a property allowance which in fact allowed them to receive the permissible income - a sum of $4,020 for a single person and $8,040 for a married couple. These amounts were increased proportionately when the Government increased the permissible amount of income in April 1967. Apart from that there has been no real easing of the means test up to the present time. As a result of the recent Curtin by-election people are now crying out: ‘We have to abolish the means test immediately’. Of course there are those representatives, particularly some back benchers on the Government side who represent a rather wealthy sector of this community, who are trying to get this immediate result.
As far as I am concerned one has to look at the cost of the abolition of the means test. It has been estimated that it would cost from $340m to $400m a year, without increasing the base rate of pension. We have within our community two sectors of pensioners living under very difficult economic circumstances. One sector is those persons living on the base rate without any private income. These people must be a major consideration in our priorities.
The statistics available to me reveal that there are 825,000 women in Australia or 13.82% of the total female population who are 60 years of age or over and that 481,000 women are receiving the age pension. Of the men, 423,000 or 6.98% of the male population are 65 years of age or over, and 201,000 males are receiving the age pension. Some 54.64% of women 60 years of age and over and men 65 years of age and over - that is the pensionable age - are receiving a pension, and about 45% of people of pensionable age are not receiving an age pension. About 131,000 people are living on the base rate pension with no other income. Married couples on the base rate receive $25 a week, while a single pensioner receives $14 a week but, with the sustenance allowance, the single pension can be increased by another S2 to a maximum of $16 a week. 1 do not think that it has been explained fully enough to the people that at the last election the Australian Labor Party said that if it came to office it would ease the means test. At present the permissible income is $10 a week for a single person and $17 a week for a married couple. Under the present scheme, for every $1 earned in excess of those amounts $1 is deducted from the pension. 1 will give an example. If a married couple received a pension of $25 a week and received the permissible income of $17, they would receive an income of $42 a week. Under the present circumstances, where a pensioner couple receive superannuation payments of $25 a week, they would lose $8 from their pension. They would receive a pension of $17 and $25 in superannuation payments, which would give them an income of $42. The Australian Labor Party has said that its proposal is that for every $2 earned in excess of the permisible income only $1 would be deducted from the pension. Under Labor’s proposal only $4 would be deducted from a married couple’s pension if they received $25 a week in superannuation payments. They would then receive a pension of $21 and $25 in superannuation payments, which would give them an income of $46 a week. Under Labor’s proposal they would receive $4 more a week as pension.
Let us take the case of single pensioners. At present if they receive a pension of $14 the permissible income is $10 a week. The maximum they can receive is $24 a week. If they receive superannuation payments of say $18 a week, their pension would be reduced by $8, which would still give them an income of only $24 a week. Under Labor’s proposal a single person receiving superannuation payments of $18 a week would lose only $4 from his pension, which would bring it down to $10 a week. He would then receive an income of $28 a week. Labor’s proposal is for an immediate easing of the means test, which would make available for more people the fringe benefits of free medical treatment and hospitalisation. This is one of the major problems of old people who become chronically ill. It is this sector that we must try to bring into the scheme of fringe benefits We should gradually bring into the scheme that 45% of people of pensionable age who are not receiving a pension. We will have to do it progressively, but we must start to do it immediately.
I ask members of the Government to examine their own position rationally. The Government has given very little assistance to people on superannuation. In fact, as I said earlier, it froze the amount of permissible income between 1954 and April 1967 for people on superannuation. We members in the Australian Labor .Party have a responsiblity, and surely the Government must examine the position pf this sector of the community. Earlier I was talking about wage justice. We must examine the position of people who are working in the Government sector and of those who are working in the private sector. I have pointed out that the monopolies are dominating the private sector and that any wage increase paid to workers is passed on in costs to the community. They can pass it on, but those who are working in State government establishments, particularly- those working in the State railway systems and the State tramway systems, find it difficult to bt-ar the increase. Over a long period of time they have lived on low incomes, but they are forced to pay superannuation. This is particularly true of those people who work for the Commonwealth. The Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) knows about the uneasiness in the Postmaster-General’s Department and the agitation that has been going on for wage justice. It is these people who work in State government jobs or Commonwealth jobs who need an immediate easing of the means test. To do that would entitle more of them to these fringe benefits of free medical treatment and hospitalisation.
We will be going into recess in a few days, and during this period of recess the Budget will be drafted. I ask responsible people in the Government to examine these matters immediately. They should not wait for a political gimmick. We know that 1969 is an election year, but we ask the Government to bring down in the Budget some positive proposals to raise the base rate of the age pension so that people will not be living on a subsistence level and so they may get some economic justice in this so-called’ affluent society where the monopolies are making greater profits than ever before in the history of this nation. I hope that there will be some easing of the means test and a subrate with no other income in the forthcoming Budget.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bury) read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Orders of the Day Nos 3, 4 and 5 for the resumption of the debate on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1968-69, the Supply Bill (No. 1) 1969-70 and the Supply Bill (No. 2) 1969-70 being called on and read together and a motion being moved that the Bills be now passed.
Consideration resumed from 17 May (vide pages 1700 and 1701), on motions by Mr Swartz: .
That the Bills be now read a second time.
Bills (on motion by Mr Erwin) passed.
Debate resumed from 15 May (vide page 1851), on motion by Mr Anthony:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation. Before the debate is resumed on this Bill, which is the Meat Chicken Levy Bill 1969, I suggest that it might suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the Meat Chicken Levy Collection Bill 1969 and the Chicken Meat Research Bill 1969, as they are associated measures. Separate questions, of course, may be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate.
I suggest, therefore, Mr Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of the three Bills to be discussed in this debate.
– There being no objection, I will permit that course to be f ollowed.
- Mr Speaker, the three Bills under discussion are the Meat Chicken Levy Bill 1969, the Meat Chicken Levy Collection Bill 1969 and the Chicken Meat Research Bill 1969. Why is it that in two of the Bills reference is made to meat chicken’ and that in the last Bill the position is confused by reference being made to ‘chicken meat’? Clause 4 of the Meat Chicken Levy Bill states in part:
Chicken’ means a chicken hatched from an egg of a domesticated fowl.
I do not know what an undomesticated fowl is. There are plenty of fowls that are wild and there are plenty of wildfowl. How does one define a domesticated fowl? This is something that will puzzle a number of people in country areas particularly those who adopt the open range system of chicken raising. Clause 4 also states:
Meat chicken’ means a chicken that is to be raised at a meat chicken.
I can appreciate the problems of the Parliamentary Draftsman and the Department of Primary Industry in defining a meat chicken, but I think it follows that a meat chicken must be a chicken that is raised for meat. The reason why the classification of a meat chicken is altered to chicken meat is something that the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon), who is in charge of the Bill, might explain to me.
The Opposition supports this Bill, but opposes certain clauses in the Meat Chicken Levy Collection Bill. I will deal with them in Committee. As the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) said in his second reading speech, this is again an expression by primary industry of its desire to take the initiative in engaging in research in order to foster the industry and to make it a better industry for the producers in it. The legislation follows other research Bills, particularly industry Bills, along the lines of the meat research Bills. The principles enunciated by the Minister for Primary Industry are similar. In effect, a collection system is established in which a scale of fees is used as the basis for collection. The Commonwealth supports the principle by contributing also to the fees collected by the industry and then an expert committee, made up of research people from universities, departments concerned with agriculture and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is formed to allocate priorities with respect to research covering the field of meat from the chicken and dealing with such aspects as diseases in, I assume, domesticated fowls. A similar scheme is being promoted with respect to eggs. I understand that the research side of it has not yet reached fruition.
As I have said, the Opposition supports this Bill. I will explain in Committee the exception that we take relating to offences or prosecutions within the province of the Meat Chicken Levy Collection Bill. The chicken meat industry is the seventh primary industry to finance research into its own problems. I believe that producers in primary industries are to be congratulated on the initiative that they are taking in their attempt to solve basic problems that beset them in production, particularly attempts to increase production, to solve the problems of disease, to achieve better hatching percentages and to get higher average returns for themselves. So, the Opposition does not oppose the Bill.
– Like my colleague the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), I congratulate the industry on having taken this step. There are a couple of points which I think should be clarified. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), in his second reading speech on the Meat Chicken Levy Bill, stated that it was the desire of the industry that the levy be imposed upon each day old chicken. The Bill itself states that in respect of meat chickens hatched before the 1st July 1972-3 years from the date it is proposed the levy will operate - the levy will be at the rate of 1/1 10th of a cent per bird. The Meat Chicken Levy Bill mentions that the levy is not payable in respect of meat chickens that die, or are destroyed at the hatchery at which they were hatched within 48 hours after being hatched. I am wondering: What is the extent of the loss suffered with meat chickens in these early stages? The Minister has said that the people associated with the industry are agreeable to the levy being imposed at the time of hatching. The Bill extends this period to exclude chickens that are destroyed or which die within 48 hours after hatching. lt is estimated that the levy will raise $80,000 which, with a similar grant from the Commonwealth, will make available $160,000 for research into the industry. The Minister has stated that 76 million chickens were slaughtered in the year 1967- 68. This means that the Minister is assuming that some 80 million chickens will he slaughtered within the current year to provide the estimated levy of $80,000 to be contributed by growers. This is an industry that has bad, as the Minister stated, a spectacular rise. But it is facing very severe difficulties at the moment in the marketing of chickens. A grave over supply of chickens exists. 1 believe that some of this research should be devoted to a study as to whether chickens that are being turned off at 8 weeks are preferred by the public. The?e are chickens that can be purchased at around the $1 mark. Research should study whether the public prefers to buy this type of chicken, which many people describe as being nothing more than watery rag, or whether the public prefers chickens developed to a larger stage. During the expansion of this industry the time of slaughter of the chickens has been reduced from about 12 weeks to 8 weeks. That is probably the reason for the complaints one hears about chickens being tasteless.
Another complaint I have often heard relates to the water content of chickens. People find that they are paying a considerable amount for the ice in frozen chickens. This is a fairly dear price to pay for ice. It is probably one of the reasons why a number of people are purchasing chicken pieces instead of whole chickens. I believe that there is a market for chicken pieces. However, when research is undertaken the opinion of the consumer should be sought on this aspect and taken into consideration. The consumer should be asked whether he prefers the small chicken and whether his preference is a matter of price or a matter of taste. The Australian public has turned away from other meats and has begun purchasing chicken because of the high price of other meats. Nevertheless, I think it will be found that the majority of the public prefers chickens to be more mature than those slaughtered at present.
– in reply - I wish to answer the queries raised by the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen). The honourable member referred to the fact that chickens which die after hatching are not included in the levy. I think his query is answered by the fact that the industry has agreed to this proposal. 1 regret that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) is not here to answer the honourable member’s question. He would know the technical aspects of this matter. I cannot give the honourable member any more information other than that the industry has agreed to the proposal. As it satisfies the industry’s requirements, I think it should be satisfactory to others. But I shall make sure that the Minister for Primary Industry informs the honourable member on that point.
The honourable member also referred to research. He said that he would like to see the opinion of the consumer sought. This is a matter for the research committee, which has a majority of growers on it. The committee will make recommendations about the research that should be undertaken. I have no doubt that it will seek the opinion of the consumer and will take that into consideration. This is not something that the Government can legislate for. The responsibility for research is left in the hands of the research committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Nixon) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 15 May (vide page 1851), on motion by Mr Anthony:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I ask for leave to move two amendments together in regard to clauses 8 and 9.
– There being no objection, leaveis granted.
– Clause 8 reads: (1.) A person shall not -
Penalty: Three hundred dollars. (2.) A prosecution for an offence against this section may be commenced at any time.
Clause 9 reads: (1.) For the purposes of this Act, a person authorised in writing by the Minister to exercise powers under this section may, at all reasonable times and on production of that authority -
eggs to be used for the hatching of chickens;
Penalty: Two hundred dollars.
The Opposition is totally opposed to the way in which the Government is violating accepted principles in relation to entry upon a person’s property. It is even violating the principles embodied in the Crimes Act. Under the Crimes Act. a police constable or anyone else may not enter the house, property or farm of a person suspected of committing an offence, even as serious as murder, unless the due processes of law have been observed. If a justice of the peace is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence has been committed he may authorise a police constable or some other person to enter the property of the suspected person. Under clause 9 of this Bill a person authorised in writing by the Minister for Primary Industry may enter any hatchery or place of business. These are wider powers than are provided under the Crimes Act. The only qualification is that entry must be effected at a reasonable hour. But the authorised person can force the owner of the property to produce documents. He can also inspect books and take extracts from them. In other words, this Government wants to give to people authorised by the Minister greater powers than are provided under the Crimes Act. How the Australian Country Party supporters can sit in this House and permit this to happen is beyond me. As I said earlier, the Crimes Act provides that even for a crime as serious as murder the due processes of law have to be carried out. Under the Crimes Act a police constable or some other person has to convince a justice of the peace before he can go barging onto somebody’s property and make that person produce records, interrogate him or count his personal possessions. The Opposition is opposed to this principle because it is against the Australian way of life and should not be allowed.
Clause 8 provides that a prosecution for an offence under this legislation may be commenced at any time. This again is against the general principles of law; it provides that a prosecution can be commenced at any time. The Opposition has moved to have a time limitation inserted in the clause. Surely that is fair. If the Commonwealth or the State governments cannot commence prosecutions within 12 months they should drop them. The Opposition is of the opinion that a time limitation should be included in clause 8. The Opposition is also opposed to clause 9 in its present form. It is just not good enough for the Minister for Primary Industry simply to sign a document authorising a person to enter somebody else’s house or farm. Clause 8 will give a person authorised by the Minister more power in this direction than a member of the police force or anybody else investigating a serious crime has. I repeat that the Opposition is opposed to clauses 8 and 9.
– I support the amendments moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). 1 do not speak as a producer of chickens, but I think I am entitled to speak on behalf of the chicken eaters of this country. I have been looking at some of the definitions in this and the related Bills. I wonder whether the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) could define for me the term ‘domesticated fowl’. Under the Meat Chicken Levy Bill ‘meat chicken’ means ‘a chicken that is to be raised as a meat chicken’. ‘Chicken’ is defined as ‘a chicken hatched from an egg of a domesticated fowl’. I suppose the best that you could say about such a chicken is that it does not have a very bright future.
It is strange that the Australian Country Party should be prepared to see the civil liberties and rights of poultry farmers infringed without making any protest. Subclause (2.) of clause 8 of the Bill reads:
A prosecution for an offence against this section may be commenced at any time
It could be commenced in 5, 10, 15. 20 or even 100 years time if the chicken producer lives that long. Why should there not be a limitation as to the time in which a prosecution may be commenced? Is 12 months not a reasonable time? I would like to hear members of the Country Party defend this infringement of the rights of chicken producers. I will not elaborate on the remarks of the honourable member for Dawson with regard to clause 9. As it stands the clause infringes every principle of civil liberty. It reads: (1.) For the purposes of this Act, a person authorized in writing by the Minister to exercise powers under this section may, at all reasonable times and on production of that authority -
eggs to be used for the hatching of chickens;
That is a tremendous power for any person to have. No person should be able to enter premises on the mere authorisation of the Minister unless he has reason to believe that things are happening there. The clause provides that entry may be made at all reasonable times. I might think that 1 a.m. is a reasonable time. Other people may think that 2 p.m., 5 p.m. or 7 p.m. are reasonable times? Why should a justice of the peace not give this authority? A policeman cannot charge a citizen unless he believes that the citizen has committed an offence. Members of the Country Party, led by a Country Party Minister, are prepared to see the rights of chicken producers infringed under clause 9.
The honourable member for Dawson has moved the amendment to clause 9 because every citizen has the right to privacy unless good reason exists for searching his premises. It is surprising that under this Bill chicken producers will be denied essential rights which are accorded to those who commit the most vile crime in the calendar. The Government is prepared to deny chicken producers a right which it extends to every other member of the community. I support the amendments. I would like to hear a speech or two from members of the Country Party in defence of the rights of primary producers. I wonder how the Country Party would react to any suggestion that the rights of the producers of wool and wheat should be infringed. Even the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) would be indignant. But because the people involved are poor chicken producers the honourable member has refused to speak. I hope that for once the Country Party Minister will see fit to review the legislation and accept the amendments.
– Two matters have been brought to the attention of the public in recent times and are pertinent to the powers proposed to be given to inspectors under this Bill. I refer to a recent raid at 10.30 p.m. by officers of the Department of Customs and Excise on the home of a woman living in Brisbane.
– Well, I do not know whether it is considered reasonable to hammer on a woman’s door at 10.30 p.m. demanding the right to search her home and, when she states that she will telephone the police, to tell her that the police are already with them. This is an indication of what can happen. Another case, of which the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) may not be aware because he probably did not read the newspapers while he was compaigning in Queensland, involves a poultry farmer at Milmerran who complained that in a raid his books and papers were taken because he had refused to pay the egg levy. I have no truck with people who do not live up to their responsibilities, but I do not know whether the proposal that the power to issue a search warrant should lie with a justice of the peace will meet all the circumstances. I think that justices of the peace sometimes acquiesce too readily with authority. Nevertheless, a person seeking a search warrant should be required to present himself before a justice of the peace. If the justice of the peace carries out his duties properly that person will be required to show cause why the property of another person should be searched. For these reasons I support the amendments.
– The back bench of the Opposition associates itself with the front bench in opposing the discriminatory provisions of this Bill. We are very concerned at the trend towards officialdom and bureaucracy in this country. In recent years bureaucracy has been given a blood transfusion by this Government. The provisions of the Bill to which we object are further illustrations of this trend. Somewhere someone has to oppose this trend in our national life. The trend has percolated through even to the egg and poultry producers.
In one corner of my electorate - everybody knows it as Port Arthur, which is now in Wilmot - we have the biggest meat chicken industries in southern Australia. At any one time 200,000 chickens are breeding in the huge works on Tasman Peninsula. Forty farmers are producing on contract for a firm operated by a Mr Murray McDonald. This is a magnificent industry. Each year 5,000 tons of feed are used, 3,000 tons of it being wheat. I am sure that I act on behalf of Mr McDonald in opposing clauses 8 and 9 of the Bill. Justices of the peace should have the right to authorise men to enter establishments where chickens are being produced, especially in isolated country districts.
– The Opposition need have no alarm about clauses 8 and 9 of the Bill because chicken breeders, including, no doubt, the gentleman to whom the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) referred, support the Bill in its present form. They are happy with the Bill. They do not seek any change in it, particularly any change along the lines of the proposed amendment to clause 9.
The Government cannot accept the amendments moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). The chicken breeders are the people who will be visited at a reasonable time, and they go along with the Bill. If the amendment to clause 9 were accepted an officer could obtain from a justice of the peace a warrant to raid Mrs Jones’s hatchery. Mrs Jones may have a hatchery in Melbourne, but under the loose provisions of the amendment the officer could visit any other hatchery, even in Western Australia. The amendment is very loosely drawn and does not deserve the support of the Parliament. The Government opposes the amendments because the chicken producers accept the Bill as it stands and do not seek any changes.
The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) wanted to know the definition of a domesticated fowl. Quite obviously he is not a duck shooter because if he were he would know the difference between a domestic fowl and wildfowl. My understanding is that a variety of poultry is bred specifically for chicken meat purposes.
– They are full breasted birds.
– It is a well established and known practice within the poultry industry generally. So, I can assure the House that while the honourable member for Grayndler does not understand the difference, the poultry breeders do. The Government opposes the amendments.
That the amendments (Dr Patterson’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr Failes)
Majority .. ..25
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Nixon) - by leave - read a third time.
Consideration resumed from15 May (vide page 1852), on motion by Mr Anthony:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Nixon) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.6 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 15 May (vide page 1892), on the following paper presented by Mr Gorton:
Prime Minister’s visit to the United States of America - Ministerial Statement,15 May 1969- and on the motion by Mr Erwin:
That the House take note of the paper.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition speaking without limitation of time.
– This is the third debate this session on the meetings of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) with President Nixon. The Prime Minister has spoken each time. He has hardly clarified his Government’s attitude on the development of a genuine and coherent foreign policy for Australia. Stripped to its essentials, his speech a week ago was a re-affirmation of ANZUS - hardly a novel or unexpected feature of Government policy. On his return to Australia on Wednesday of last week, the Prime Minister told reporters at Mascot who asked him whether he had seen President Nixon’s speech on Vietnam to be delivered that day:
Oh, I think it would interest Australia but 1 don’t believe it would be anything terribly significant at this point, but I haven’t yet seen it.
With respect, I suggest the Prime Minister’s statement is a much truer description of his own speech than of the President’s
Let it not be thought that I am denigrating ANZUS or denigrating the Prime Minister’s reference to its importance. It is not surprising that the Prime Minister should think it, as the Australian Labor Party platform asserts unequivocally, ‘of crucial importance’. Again, it is not surprising that he should be anxious, again in the words of the ALP platform, that it should be maintained. Nor is it surprising that the President of the United States of America should have re-affirmed the principles of the treaty.
America has no treaty which is subject to fewer doubts in the United States itself than ANZUS. At a time when America’s overseas obligations and commitments are being thoroughly and critically reviewed, this treaty is one which is not. Senator Fulbright himself, after his meeting with the Prime Minister, told reporters that ANZUS was the one topic that had not been raised, not because of lack of time or importance, but simply because it has never been questioned by the Foreign Relations Committee. It is no compliment to a great and proud nation like the United States to suggest that solemn treaties such as ANZUS are subject to abrogation at the whim of a new Administration. It is no service to the Australian people to suggest that our fundamental treaty is subject to abrogation. I allow that re-affirmation of ANZUS is a reasonable and proper starting point for any discussions between an Australian Prime Minister and an American President. Long may it be so. I do, however, urgently suggest that it is a starting point only. Yet the Prime Minister clearly regards it not as a beginning, but as the end and purpose of his discussions. He congratulates himself on a substantial achievement. Further, I suggest that his attitude points to the relative failure of his visit. If all a Prime Minister has to report after two visits to Washington, at a time when remarkable and significant developments are occurring in our region, is that the new Administration proposes not to denounce a solemn treaty signed 18 years ago, then very little has been achieved at all.
The Prime Minister places great store by the White House statement. Indeed, if this polite and pleasant statement is to be treated as a basic foreign policy document, there is one aspect in it which is rather disturbing. For it should be noticed that the President brackets ANZUS with the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation. These were his words:
Australia is a member of ANZUS and SEATO, two alliances which are fundamental to our strategy and position in South-East Asia.
I would be profoundly disturbed if I thought that this meant that either the United States or Australia set no more store on ANZUS than on SEATO. The future of SEATO is obscure indeed. Very accurately and graphically, Mr Creighton Burns of the Melbourne ‘Age’ on Wednesday described it as ‘being rusty beyond recognition. Its relevance to our role in this region is in the gravest doubt. Our nearest and most important neighbour, Indonesia, is not a member. Malaysia and Singapore, with whom the Government has made new military commitments, have never thought it worthwhile joining. The most powerful nation in Asia, Japan, has steadfastly avoided any association with SEATO. The three nations whose independence from the French was the cause of its creation are not members. The largest democracy in the world - India - is not a member. So much for the non-members. Of its actual members. Great Britain, in the wake of her military withdrawal, is likely to be a nominal member only. France has withdrawn her active participation. Pakistan is represented at this week’s conference in Bangkok by an observer only. Only last week, the Thai Foreign Minister, Mr Thanat Khoman, stated bluntly that ‘the military capability of SEATO is a fiction.
This is the organisation which the joint communique describes as ‘fundamental to our strategy’. Yet in his own speech last Thursday the Prime Minister makes no reference at all to SEATO or its future. President Nixon himself said 2 years ago:
SEATO has weakened to the point that it is little more than an institutional embodiment of an American commitment and a somewhat anachronistic relic of the days when France and Britain were active members.
Mr Nixon continued:
Asia needs today its own security undertakings reflecting the new realities of Asian independence and Asian needs.
It is disturbing indeed that SEATO should now be bracketed with ANZUS, as if both were equally relevant to Australia, or equally important to America. It would have been better if the thoughts expressed by the President 2 years ago, which reflect the realities of Asia, had appeared in the communique. Instead, the Prime Minister has allowed ANZUS, which has never been in doubt, to be lumped with SEATO, which is very much in doubt. The Prime Minister places great store by what he calls the re-affirmation of ANZUS’ by a new Administration. There are certain other facts about ANZUS that should be reaffirmed. It is not a treaty between Australia and an Administration, Republican or Democrat. It is not a treaty between the United States and the Liberal Party. It is a treaty between Australia and the United States, to be implemented, according to Article IV, in accordance with the constitutional processes of the respective parties, and, under Article X, to remain in force indefinitely.
It cannot, however, be emphasised too strongly or too often that ANZUS by itself and of itself does not constitute a foreign policy; it does not, by itself or of itself, constitute a defence policy. ANZUS is a crucial part of both our defence and foreign policies; but it is an intolerable stultification of the policy making processes to make its mere existence a policy in itself. The world has greatly changed since 1951 when ANZUS was concluded. Our region in particular has changed. Our relation to each of the countries in our region - all of them now independent nations - has changed. The situation with regard to Japan and China has changed vastly. Our own position, strength and significance relative to our region and indeed the world has changed.
ANZUS may be one of the pillars of our international policy, but it cannot be made to bear the entire weight of policy. It would assuredly break under the strain. We are, for our own purposes, and in our own interests, closely associated with the United States. ANZUS is the formal expression of that association. Equally, for our own purposes and in our own interest, we have to maintain close and cordial relations with a number of other states, particularly our neighbours in South East Asia. It does not help us and it does not help the United States if we are thought to be an obsequious satellite of the United States and - let me emphasise it - it is of no help to the United States either. We should be seen to be the ally of the United States; we should never be regarded as the agent of the United States in the Pacific or in South East Asia. If Australia Ls regarded merely as America’s agent, rather than her ally, it would hinder the concept of regional self-help which is our declared objective.
This is the context in which lies the essential absurdity of the Prime Minister’s reference to ‘Walzing Matilda’ with the United States. The critics have in the main missed the point. It is not that it is utterly demeaning for a fairly proud country like Australia to have its policy put in terms of crude slogans. I do not know what happens to Liberal Prime Ministers abroad that they feel obliged to express themselves at formal parades and dinners in lyrical slogans they would never use in Parliament and still less on the hustings. It is not merely that it is an impossible statement of Australia’s role: It is an impossible statement about America’s role.
No responsible American now sees America’s role as one of ‘resisting aggression anywhere in the world’ - I quote the Prime Minister. The most brutal repression in the world is now occurring in Biafra. Neither America nor Australia feels herself able to lift a finger. One of the most unconscionable acts of aggression in Europe since 1938 occurred last year against the same country, Czechoslovakia. Even the Prime Minister refrained from drawing his favourite and futile Munich parallel - yet this was a case involving the same country whose destruc tion in 1938 was the occasion of the actual Munich. And why? Because a prime objective of United States foreign policy is a detente with the Soviet Union and the success of the Nixon Administration will be. measured by the extent to which this is achieved. America will not more accept the role of the world’s policeman than she will again involve herself in a Vietnamtype situation. The American people, the American Congress and the American Administration have learnt this lesson; the Prime Minister apparently has not.
Despite what the Prime Minister says, the United States involvement in South East Asia is being modified. It is all very picturesque to speak of the President who was ‘born on the Pacific Coast, had gone to war in the Pacific, and would continue to be Asia-oriented’. The most Asiaoriented President in American history was President L. B. Johnson. His policies and mistakes in the area so outweighed his great and historic achievements at home that it cost him the Presidency. Nobody who wishes either the United States or President Nixon well would wish that those mistakes should be repeated, and I do not believe for a moment they will be. It is just as much in our interest as a Pacific and Asian nation that the detente with Russia should succeed as it is for any nation in Europe itself. Its success is absolutely essential to the neutralisation of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia - which has now become the central American objective in South East Asia, as illustrated by President Nixon’s speech last Thursday. lt is not a particularly meaningful statement to say that Australia’s policy is to encourage the United States to take an interest in South East Asia. A world power - a Pacific power - must of necessity take an interest in South East Asia. It should be our policy to influence America to direct that interest into fruitful and constructive channels. There is no question but that America will play a crucial role in our region. The real question is, what role? It is not the existence, but the nature, of the role which is important. Australia’s task is to encourage the United States to help build the economies and societies, as well as the defences, of the nations in our region, and to co-operate in that effort.
The Prime Minister’s almost total lack of comprehension of the American position is illustrated by his reaction to the President’s announcements on Vietnam the same day as his own speech. I have already referred to his belief that the President’s statement would not be terribly significant. Either he knew nothing of it or he understood nothing of it. It is, in fact, a most important, constructive and helpful statement. Commenting upon the President’s statement, the Prime Minister asserts - repeats his old assertion - that America’s aim is ‘to guarantee on a lasting basis to the people of South Vietnam the right to choose the government they wish without fear of terror or intimidation’. The fact is that America’s aim in Vietnam is to end the war as quickly and decently as possible. The sooner the Government and all Australians accept this the better. Acceptance of this fact is essential to our planning the future of our own forces in Vietnam, and planning our future role in the whole of our region. The President’s speech was not a speech about the political future of the South Vietnamese Government: It was a speech about ending the war in Vietnam.
Again and again we have seen how the Australian Government has had decisions forced upon it by the inevitability of events, and by American decisions. To the end, the Australian Government denounced cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam as appeasement; the Australian Government denounced National Liberation Front participation in negotiations as treason; the Australian Government denounced the conversion of the war into a holding operation as surrender. The denunciations now return to haunt Government members; to condemn them not merely as men who have been wrong about every aspect of this war, but as men who resisted and resented every step to end this war. The Prime Minister continues in this attitude. He went out of his way to indicate that under any and all circumstances we would be the last to withdraw and the last to begin withdrawal, or to plan for it. Is it not obvious that, as the object of American military policy in Vietnam is a gradual replacement of United States units with South Vietnamese units, the Australian unit should have parallel plans? Is it not clear that we must begin planning now? To fail to do so is far from being an act of loyalty to the United States or an act of goodwill towards South Vietnam. It is a very recipe for leaving the people of Phuoc Tuy province in the lurch when the time comes - and it will be sooner rather than later - that a general withdrawal is determined. The only condition the President makes for withdrawal is the withdrawal of regular units of the North Vietnamese forces. Even if they all withdraw, the Vietcong will remain. The President’s clear intention is that, if the NLF, the Vietcong and the Saigon Government have not by then accepted a political settlement, the job of fighting the Vietcong will be the sole responsibility of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. This is the true measure of the desperate urgency of securing a political settlement.
This is the measure of the desperate urgency of Australia making at least a contingent plan for an ARVN assumption of responsibility in our area - or is Phuoc Tuy to be the only one of the forty-four provinces where no such plans are to be made? Or are Australian soldiers to be left on a limb, and South Vietnamese villagers left in the lurch? Is the present Prime Minister to be the last Prime Minister to denounce withdrawal, as Sir Robert Menzies wished to be the last Prime Minister to denounce negotiations? Frankly, the Australian Government has lost any power for independent initiatives in Vietnam. At any time in the past 3 years it would have been possible for us to use our influence with the United States to help her end the war. Rather than use its influence, the Australian Government denounced and derided those who suggested we had influence, and denounced and derided the proposals which would have been the expression of that influence. Now we can only make parallel plans with America. Refusal to do so is mere pigheadedness. Failure to do so can only prolong the chaos and tragedy of these unhappy people.
If there is one lesson to be learnt from the history of Vietnam, it is that no outsider, no matter how powerful, can impose its will on the affairs of even small States. I believe the United States has learnt this lesson, and learnt it at dreadful cost. I am rather more doubtful whether the Australian Government has learnt this lesson. The Prime Minister persists in inflating the value of ground troops in Asia as our principal contribution to what he calls ‘stability’ - as stated a week ago - ‘to prevent a threat arising against Malaysia or Singapore or the region’. And all this is to be done by the presence of a battalion in Singapore. This is the crux of our so-called forward defence policy. At the very moment the Prime Minister was speaking, Malaysia was experiencing the gravest threat to her stability since the creation of the Federation - a threat arising not from Communism but from communalism. Is this not the perfect illustration of the irrelevance of foreign ground troops on the mainland of Asia? The real threat to Malaysia is not Communism, but communalism - the very real problem of administering Malaysia to ensure that the rights of all her races are respected. And in such a situation our troops are, by an explicit declaration of Government policy - a very proper and necessary declaration - declared impotent. Yet their very presence creates a complicating factor, because as we have seen there are pressures for their involvement. One can only regret the contrived efforts of recent days to place the blame for the Malaysian disturbances on Communist terrorists. It is simply playing into the Communists’ hands. Anyone who understands the slightest thing about the psychology of Communist propaganda will understand this, for it can only bolster the importance and significance of the Communists. It creates the very situation it is ostensibly designed to avoid. It depicts a tragedy for Malaysia in terms of a triumph for the Communists.
Further, with the greatest respect - and I have the greatest respect and I think I may say personal friendship for the Tunku and Tun Razak - one can only regret the maladroit timing of yesterday’s request for arms. There is no division in this House that Australia has an obligation to assist Malaysia to build up her own armed forces, but we can only regret the inhibitions placed upon us by the timing of this request. For it can only create confusion about our purposes - the timing only ensures that our acceptance of the request would be as damaging as a refusal. It is a regrettable and remarkable illustration of the dilemma in which the Government’s policy, and the manner in which it has couched and expressed that policy, has placed the Government. The making of such a request at such a time can only indicate that the
Australian Government has failed to communicate properly its real purposes and policy to the Malaysian Government, and to make that Government appreciate the only view we could take on this matter - that this most serious and distressing problem is essentially a problem which only the Malaysian people themselves can resolve.
Some 3 hours ago I received a cablegram from Mr Devan Nair, who was in the last Federal Parliament of Malaysia the only member of the Democratic Action Party, a party affiliated with the Australian Labor Party, the British Labour Party, the New Zealand Labour Party and the People’s Action Party of Singapore. He did not stand at the recent elections, at which the Party won fifteen seats. He sent this cablegram to me as the International Secretary of the Party. It reads:
Top DAP leaders Go Hock Guan SecretaryGeneral Lim Kit Siang Organising Secretary Lee Lam Thye Chairman DAP Labour Bureau arrested by Malaysian Government after DAP election successes. Please voice your protest to Malaysian Government.
I think this is the earliest and most appropriate place for me to make that protest so that the Australian people who are listening and the Australian Government, which should be listening, are aware of the suspension and perhaps the suppression of parliamentary government in Malaysia, with which Australia has defence arrangements.
It is remarkable and disconcerting that a Government in power for 20 years should show so little understanding of South East Asia as ours shows. It has so repeatedly misread the signs that the Australian people can no longer repose any trust at all in its ability to handle such matters. One might expect the Government which had shown such poor judgment, which has proved so profoundly and persistently wrong on great matters, to be a little modest and diffident in seeking new trusts to be reposed in it. Yet the Prime Minister made one of the most breathtaking and sweeping requests for utter, blind, unquestioning faith ever made to Australians. He has told the people that they must accept total involvement in world nuclear strategy without the slightest explanation, without any guarantees, without any knowledge, without any attempt at justification. For this is the clear implication of the Prime Minister’s statement a week ago.
I do not assert that the thirteen American installations already in Australia do in fact mean that we are totally involved. But the Prime Minister rubbished entirely anybody who, in his words, ‘argued that there is good reason to refuse any’ - I emphasise ‘any’proposal for a joint defence establishment because such an establishment might become the target of attacks in nuclear war and might therefore endanger us’. To the Prime Minister, it is ridiculous - not to mention cowardly as well - for anybody to object to Australia being a nuclear target through the establishment of any base. The Prime Minister has stated his case for the requests already made by the United States in such a way as to justify and indeed to compel assent to any request. No Prime Minister, particularly one so unrepresentative, inexperienced and impulsive as Australia’s, has any right to sign away all future rights of the Australian Government and the people by giving a blank cheque of this sort. And if the Prime Minister expressed the view to the President that Australia would regard any request for any and every nuclear installation, or indeed for any and every military defence installation or facility, as obligatory under ANZUS, he exceeded any possible authority and right that any Prime Minister could possess.
It is just not true that all such requests are compelled by ANZUS, any more than that we can compel the United States to assist us in Malaysia under ANZUS or, as the featherless hawks in the Government found 6 years ago, in West Irian.
So much for the future and the hypothetical. In respect of the present agreements, the Prime Minister did a not very subtle but a rather shabby piece of coat trailing. This man who would like to talk about national unity and national leadership virtually invited me to denounce ANZUS and to say that as Prime Minister I would tell the Americans to pack up and go. He sounded as if he would like me to do that. I propose to disappoint him.
The Australian Government has entered into certain agreements with the United States. The Australian Government has undertaken certain treaty obligations on behalf of the Australian people. It has done it in an atmosphere of secrecy amounting to surreptitiousness. In the case of the North West Cape there was indeed considerable public debate and no secrecy. The political climate was different. The whole burden for informing the public fell upon the Australian Labor Party. And after a very full and public debate, we laid down certain conditions for the establishment of the base. But the clear purport of that decision was to invite the Americans to establish the base, on the definite understanding that the agreement would be renegotiated by an incoming Labor government to ensure that Australia maintained sovereignty and that no use would be made involving Australia in war without her consent. I repeat and endorse the following passage from the Australian Labor Party’s policy delivered by the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) in 1963:
We support the base and we have stated our attitude to certain features of the treaty covering it.
We want joint control, not military control, at government levels.
We are confident that we will be able to renegotiate the agreement covering the station to the mutual satisfaction of Australia and the United States.
Does the Prime Minister suggest that this would not be the clear conduct of a future Labor government? A great party and a great nation could not act otherwise. I would propose to adopt the same approach to the other twelve agreements this Government has made. No Labor Prime Minister goes around tearing up solemn agreements. But any Labor Prime Minister would do what no Liberal Prime Minister has ever done. He would ensure that Australia was not involved in war by the decision of any overseas government, without Australian consent, and ensure that Australia did not become involved willy-nilly in the nuclear defence strategy of any other power. And no Labor Prime Minister would tell the Australian people that it was cowardly or disloyal to object to a little bit of nuclear retaliation now and then if his decisions might involve them in the nuclear strategy of the great powers, whether by choice or not.
The Prime Minister stigmatises as ‘pusillanimous and unworthy’ a nation which might baulk at accepting a blank cheque for nuclear involvement. On the contrary, it is pusillanimous and unworthy* for a government to refuse to take the people into its confidence.
How can they make a judgement of these proposals on their merits when they have not even been told the general purposes and implications of the installations? We have the extraordinary situation where the Australian Government ultimately imposes restrictions on Australian parliamentarians. There is no such restriction imposed by the agreements. It is plain that United States Congressmen will not accept such a ban. It is plain that the ban was sought by the Australian Government. There was no such ban on Pine Gap last year; it suddenly materialised this year. The ‘ground rules’ which the Prime Minister now says will apply equally to Australian parliamentarians and United States Congressmen will now be those determined by the United States and will represent a very proper rebuff for the Australian Minister for Defence. The terms in which the Prime Minister has accepted a possible lifting of total secrecy are utterly demeaning, lt is an almost unbelievable abrogation of Australian sovereignty.
While the Prime Minister talks lightly about accepting nuclear risks, his attitude to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty makes it manifest that he will do nothing to help reduce those risks. Again, he has failed to understand the whole point of American policy in this respect. The treaty is an American initiative to reduce the risk of nuclear war. It is only a first step. But if nations like Australia appear unwilling to assist in this effort, that first step can never be taken. The Prime Minister has not advanced his position 1 degree since March last year. He still merely asserts that Australia has reservations. Was not his visit to the United States the opportunity to resolve these doubts? He says he raised the matter with the President and the President understood Australia’s position. But he says nothing about the replies given to his questioning. Did those replies confirm the Government’s doubts, or quell them? We are not told. In fact, we are no further advanced than we were a year ago. The Parliament and the people are no wiser than they were a year ago. Australia is still dragging the chain as much as ever, in one of the most important requests ever made to us by the United States.
The Prime Minister’s statement says nothing about relations with China. One can only assume that this crucial matter was not even raised. It says nothing about the regularisation and rationalisation of our trade with the United Stales through a trade treaty such as we have with our other major suppliers and customers. One can only assume that this crucial matter was not even raised. It says nothing about plans for a naval establishment on the Indian Ocean. One can only assume that this inevitable development was not even raised. It says nothing about our relations with Indonesia, regarded as so essential by the United States that even when American aid was being slashed everywhere, aid to Indonesia was increased. One can only assume that Australian and American policy towards our largest and most important neighbour was not raised by our Prime Minister. In the scale against these weighty omissions the Prime Minister places a re-affirmation of ANZUS. One can only regard this statement as completely unsatisfactory as a guide to the Parliament or the people on Australia’s future foreign and defence policies in this region, lt is indeed a perfect illustration of the almost total lack of leadership Australia receives from the present Government, on all levels of policy. It is itself an explanation why Australia has seldom been so divided and so disturbed, and so desperate for the clear, authentic voice of national leadership.
- Mr Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) commenced his speech tonight, which was a reply to the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on his recent visit to the United Sates of America, by saying that the Prime Minister had hardly clarified a genuine foreign policy and all that he in fact had done was to reaffirm the ANZUS treaty. One would have thought that a Prime Minister reporting to this Parliament on a specific thing such as a visit to America would hardly be expected to go into the details of a foreign policy in a statement to the nation. Let me quote his own words when referring to the statement made by the Prime Minister the Leader of the Opposition said this, amongst other things.
The President explicitly includes Australian troops in his withdrawal plans. The Australian Government has repeatedly denied the need or indeed the possibility of drawing up contingent plans for partial or total withdrawal. It now has no alternative but to make such plans.
I challenge the Leader of the Opposition or the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) to point out in the statement made by the President of the United States where there is even an implication that the President explicitly includes Australian troops in his withdrawal plans. I challenge the Opposition to prove that statement which was made to the Press by the Leader of the Opposition on 15th May in Canberra. The Leader of the Opposition also said:
Why was it necessary for the Prime Minister to journey to America to find out if the new Administration would still maintain a treaty that had been in existence for 18 years?
Does he mean that if he himself took over the administration of this country he would work on the proposition that anything that had been done by this Government would remain forever and could not be changed? Does he not accept the fact that the new administration can, in the case of America, suggest to Congress and to the Senate that certain changes should be made and it was well within the responsibilities of the President, who, as he knows, is a fairly powerful figure in the US, to do what he thought he should do in respect to the ANZUS treaty?
The honourable gentleman used the occasion tonight to twist not what was in the statement made by the Prime Minister but things that were in his own mind to fit what he hopes will be accepted by those who sit behind him. He knows full well that whatever he says he will find the greatest difficulty in getting more than 50% to agree whether he goes one way or the other. He says that Australia has become, through this Administration, an obsequious satellite towards America and that we should not follow their lead, but further on in his speech he spoke about the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and he said that Australia has a duty to sign that treaty because America has signed it. Does he call this obsequious satellite action? It is only obsequious satellite action when what we do does not agree with what half his supporters say ought to be done by the Government. The point is that this Government still remains the government and does not what 50% of the Opposition believes it should do, but what all honourable members on this side of the House believe it should do. The Leader of the Opposition spoke about Biafra and Czechoslovakia. He is like so many people in the community today. It is easy for them to recognise a problem but not one of them seems to have a solution to it. Does he go on to say: ‘If we were the Government we would take this action or that action in respect of Biafra or Czechoslovakia’? No, he does not. All he did was to use that example to endeavour to show in some way that the Government is not doing the right thing in respect to South East Asia.
I do not want to take up all the time that is available to me in pointing out the many inaccuracies in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. But he accused the Prime Minister of saying that he would automatically accept any request made by the Americans in respect to anything, yet the Leader of the Opposition had or he should have had before him the speech which the Prime Minister made last Thursday night and in which he said in part:
To say we have this obligation is nol to say - as some falsely pretend-
I emphasise the words ‘falsely pretend’ - that we must accept any and every proposal for any establishment for any purpose.
Yet the Leader of the Opposition said in his statement tonight that the Prime Minister in his speech said the very opposite. Sir. although the Leader of the Opposition seemed to be rather upset by some sections of the statement of the Prime Minister, especially that part which stated so clearly that the President of the US was orientated towards Asia, I myself was extremely gratified to hear it. Earlier this year during the debate on the Prime Minister’s statement on Australia’s defence commitment to Malaysia and Singapore I expressed some concern that after his inauguration the President of the United States had journeyed to Europe. I felt some concern that he might orientate himself towards Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Regardless of what the
Leader of the Opposition felt I believe that I shared with many Australians a feeling of some comfort in the statement by the President of the United States, which was repeated by the Prime Minister of this country, that he had always been Asiaorientated, as his history in Congress would show, that he was on the Pacific coast, had gone to war in the Pacific and would continue to be Asia-orientated. This is of importance to this country. Members of the Opposition, even the most biased ones, must agree that a review of the events of 1942, when the then Prime Minister, John Curtin, turned to the United States, indicates that Australia’s security to a great extent now, as then, depends on the American President and on the American people being Asia-orientated.
I shall refer particularly to the matters raised by the Prime Minister in his speech to the nation last Thursday. First and foremost, as will occur in any situation like this, were the courses open to us in Vietnam. It is extremely important that we should not forget that neither President Nixon nor ex-President Johnson has at any time signified in any speech or statement he has made that America intends to abandon the South Vietnamese in their struggle for freedom to decide their own future. It would be well if honourable members were to study the statement by ex-President Johnson in the latter period of his presidency in connection with his efforts to find peace. There is very little difference in the conditions laid down by both presidents. On 31st March 1968 when President Johnson announced a partial halt to the bombing of North Vietnam he said:
I call upon President Ho Chi Minh to respond positively and favourably to this new step towards peace. But if peace does not come only through negotiations, it will come when Hanoi understands that our common resolve is unshakeable and our common strength is invincible.
Can this be interpreted to mean that they would leave the South Vietnamese to their own fate? Further on in that speech the President said:
We have no intention of widening this war but the United States will not accept a fake solution to this long and arduous struggle and call it peace.
The Leader of the Opposition said that it was because of statements like this that President Johnson lost the presidency.
Perhaps President Johnson did not contest the presidency because of unfair pressures applied to him by minorities, a technique that is growing in the world today in an attempt to destroy the careers of those who clearly see the future and what should be done.
President Nixon in his speech last Thursday, before the Prime Minister spoke to this House, said:
I have set forth a peace programme tonight which is generous in its terms. I have indicated our willingness to consider other proposals. No greater mistake could be made than to confuse flexibility with weakness or being reasonable with lack of resolution. I must make clear, in all candour, that if the needless suffering continues, this will affect other decisions. Nobody has anything to gain by delay.
Reports from Hanoi indicate that the enemy has given up hope for a military victory in South Vietnam but is counting on the collapse of American will in the United States. They could make no greater error in judgment.
The point I am making is that grave misrepresentations have been made by the Opposition on each occasion that such statements have been made. There is not, nor has there ever been, any intention by the United States Government, our Government or members on this side of the House to leave South Vietnam to its fate. Withdrawal of our troops in part or whole has been called for by the Opposition, and, according to this morning’s Press, by the Methodist Church General Conference in Brisbane. As I have said, this is fortunately not the view of this Government or the American Government. It is true that the United States has stated that it aims to withdraw some 50,000 or approximately 10% of its forces but that the replacement for that number will be available from the South Vietnamese forces themselves, who already have some 750,000 men committed to military operations. On that basis, what would a similar withdrawal of 10% of the Australian forces do? If the Leader of the Opposition would seek the advice of any military authority - I do not mean the advice of the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant)- he would find that such an action would completely destroy the effectiveness of the Australian Task Force. Talk of partial withdrawal is only a subterfuge for the policy of total withdrawal. The Australian Labor Party cannot claim that either President Nixon or President Johnson has advocated the Australian Labor Party’s policy on Vietnam. The Opposition must admit that it favours total withdrawal and thus total disengagement from the problem of Communist takeover in South East Asia.
The second subject treated by the Prime Minister was the importance of the ANZUS Treaty, an importance that was stressed not only by the Australian Prime Minister but also by the President of the United States as set out in his statement which was incorporated in Hansard and which, of course, came under criticism from the Leader of the Opposition. But when the spokesman for the American nation says: ‘Australia is a member of ANZUS and SEATO, two alliances which are fundamental to our strategy and position in South East Asia’, it should be a source of great comfort to all Australians. Surely no Australian could be under any misapprehension as to the advantages to us of a statement like that about a treaty like that. The Leader of the Opposition spoke about SEATO and what should happen to it. Of course, a treaty that has been in operation for as long as SEATO will need constant looking at. But I understand that yesterday at the SEATO conference in Bangkok Thanom Kittihajorn the Prime Minister of Thailand, said that the alliance was suffering from criticism from within as well as from without. The Leader of the Opposition would know what criticism from within would mean. I wonder whether the Leader of the Opposition or the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), who is interjecting, in a visit to Bangkok would, before the Prime Minister of Thailand, say the things that were said by the Leader of the Opposition.
– The Thai Foreign Minister has been far more critical of SEATO.
– Thai people generally seem to have a slightly different opinion from some of the members on the opposite side of the House. How could any Australian fail to realise the significance of Article V of the ANZUS Treaty which states that an armed attack on any of the parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of any of the parties or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific? Living as we do in an isolated state in the south-west
Pacific, with our industrial, mineral and agricultural potential, we are a prize to be coveted. I doubt whether we have either the manpower or the financial resources to enable us to become completely selfsufficient in respect of our defence against any possible situation. lt is fairly obvious that any would-be aggressor in the Pacific would, but for the protection of ANZUS, have no hesitation in attempting to gain that prize by either covert or overt methods. I know that we get laughs of derision from members of the Opposition when we talk about the possibilities of a takeover of Australia by covert
Or overt methods. Members of the Opposition should not forget that before 1939 the same laughs of derision were directed at people like Churchill, who made statements about powers that were rising in Europe. It is, of course, far less probable that any such aggressor would initiate any attack upon the mainland or island territories of the United States, knowing her power and capacity, and therefore the statement by President Nixon from the White House following the visit by the Prime Minister of Australia that no potential aggressor should be under the illusion that any of them - that is the co-signatories - stand alone in the Pacific area was in itself sufficient justification for the visit to the United States by the Australian Prime Minister.
That the Prime Minister brought back a statement like that seemed to me to be of more value to me as an Australian than some great long discourse on foreign policy in Australia as the Leader of the Opposition suggested should have been given to the House last Thursday night. The Leader of the Opposition spoke about the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The Prime Minister stated on 23rd April 1968 that the Australian Government had indicated its support in principle for a nuclear nonproliferation treaty provided that the treaty was fully effective and provided that a complete and satisfactory guarantee of protection against nuclear attack could be achieved.
This, of course, was a subject for discussion between the President and the Prime Minister. The President appreciated the fact that doubts were expressed about whether we should sign this treaty or not.
It is very easy for a nuclear power to sign a non nuclear proliferation treaty but it is a little more difficult for a non nuclear power to do so. Honourable members would be well advised to study the ‘Congressional Digest’ of January 1969 which devotes itself entirely to the pros and cons of signing this Treaty. They will find that, even in the United States of America, grave doubts were expressed whether that country should do so. Perhaps this was because many Americans had not forgotten the action of the Soviet Union in 1946 when it refused to agree to the Acheson Lilienthal proposals and the Baruch plan which were designed to control internationally the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. At that time, the only possessor of nuclear power was the United States of America. Russia, through the Security Council, completely rejected the idea of placing all nuclear power under international control and to see, under international power, that it was used only for peaceful purposes.
The reasons given in the report that I mentioned are many and various. They include such things as being injurious to the United States relations with some European countries, the making available to hostile or friendly countries or nations under compulsion explosive devices of a low charge but at a cost to the American taxpayer while the. cost for safeguarding or for paying for the safeguards that were laid down in the Treaty was estimated to be over $1 billion annually by 1990. Those with experience in the affairs of the United Nations would agree that the United States would be responsible for most of those billions of dollars.
It would be well for Australians to realise that Red China, a non-signatory nation, is engaged in testing H bombs, has developed an intercontinental ballistic missile system and that Russian nuclear submarines, the manufacture of which is not prohibited by the Treaty, pose one of the great threats to the Western world. In all of this, of course, we get back to the position of Australia in the world today. It is probably a poor comparison, but I think it will suffice to illustrate what I mean. I see Australia in the 1970s in much the same position as the Lowlands in the 1940s. No amount of neutrality and refusal to see and assess the threat saved the Lowlands from being overrun and conquered by the Germans. We are the only western civilisation in this part of the world and, with Britain’s withdrawal nigh, our position becomes less secure. Certainly, we can refuse to allow American defence establishments or bases on our soil. But, in doing so, we cannot expect to have assurances of assistance in our time of need. We must accept the fact that we must play a part in the overall strategy and planning of Western defence.
There may be fear in some, as expressed last week in a question by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), concerning an attack on United States defence installations in Australia. Does the honourable member think that there are no nuclear targets apart from these in Australia for an enemy bent on the nuclear destruction of the West? Apart from the fact that these installations signify to me an insurance against attack, I am inclined to believe that cities like Sydney, Wollongong or Newcastle would be, if not higher priority, just as important targets militarily. We can, as I said before, become isolationists in our attitude. But I do not believe that, if the world saw World War III commence, it would give us any more safeguard today than that policy of neutralism gave to Holland and Belgium in 1940. Nor do I believe that the number one priority of a nuclear power bent on destroying the United States would be to attack United States bases in Australia. This would be tantamount to committing nuclear suicide, because it would mean immediate retaliation and it would provide for the United States what no nuclear attacker can afford to provide and that is a warning of its intention. Why did the Japanese attack Pearl Harbour and not Sydney, Singapore or some other place in 1941?
Finally, I want to say that I believe that things are said at times by people to whom the Press give publicity. The Reverend Alan Walker is reported as saying that Australia is building up a war mongering image in Asia. All I can say is that in the capitals to which I have been in Asia the direct opposite has been the case. I must admit that I have not been to Hanoi or Peking-
– The honourable member’s time has expired.
- Mr Speaker, on 15th May, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) reported to this House on his visit to the United States of America and on his discussions with President Nixon and senior members of the United States Government. In his report, the right honourable gentleman covered a wide variety of important issues. He dealt with the Vietnam war, the ANZUS Treaty, the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, United States bases in Australia, defence procurement in Australia and the FI 1 1 aircraft. He elaborated to some extent on most of these matters with the notable exception of defence procurement. United States defence procurement in this country has always been pitched at an extremely low level. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) has promised that, in future, Australian defence purchases will be offset as much as possible by equivalent purchases from Australia.
I am glad that this matter was raised by the Prime Minister in the United States. But I regret that he did not go further into this subject in his report to this House. One would have expected that in view of this discussion by the Prime Minister in the United States the Minister for Defence would have had some information from the Prime Minister following his return concerning the question of defence procurements. But, as I understand the position, the Minister for Defence is not to participate in this debate. I hope that this extremely important matter will be amplified in this House and that either the Prime Minister or the Minister for Defence will enlighten us on what the Government has achieved.
I do not intend to debate all the matters raised by the Prime Minister. I would like to confine my remarks to three areas of his report. I refer to the Vietnam war, the present situation with regard to Australian troops in Malaysia-Singapore and the purchase of the Fill aircraft. The Prime Minister, when he reported to this House, referred to the address by the President of the United States. The right honourable gentleman said that both he and President Nixon believed that peace could be secured only by guaranteeing to the people of South Vietnam the right to choose the Government that they wanted without the fear of terror or intimidation.
Both the President and the Prime Minister agreed that the objective for which the struggle was being waged was the achievement of free, internationally supervised elections at which candidates of all parties could stand. This is the essence of the present stance of both the Government of the United States and the Government of Australia, that they have fought to achieve free, internationally supervised elections at which all parties could present themselves to the people. This is advanced in 1969 as the objective for which this war has been fought. The Prime Minister did not say that this was the essence of the Geneva Accords which were designed to resolve the war in 1954. lt will be remembered that the Geneva Accords provided for free and internationally supervised elections in 1956. Because the elements in the southern half of the divided Vietnam decided to go it alone these Accords were trampled on. The United States chose to back the subsequent Government of South Vietnam. The result was 15 years of the most ghastly carnage in the history of humanity. The United States and Australian Governments 15 years later are returning to the basis of the Geneva Accords on which the French sought to end the war. Has there ever been a more futile 15 years in the history of mankind? The United States Government, the successive governments of South Vietnam and in the past 5 years the Australian Government have fought to achieve what could have been attained in 1956 without loss of life and devastation in Vietnam. In many ways the position of the participants in the war in Vietnam is now immeasurably worse than it was in 1956. Yet the Prime Minister seriously puts to the House that this concept of free, internationally supervised elections is something new.
Despite what has happened, it is now our duty to try to find some solution to the stalemate in Vietnam. It is beyond the capacity of either side to achieve a military solution. I do not believe that there is any honourable member opposite who genuinely believes that it will be possible to bring an end to the problem in Vietnam by military means alone. This has been the contention of honourable members on this side of the House all along. During all of the debates on Vietnam in this House this is the point that we have made. The Opposition has repeatedly told the Government that it would not be possible for the United States to win the war in Vietnam. Quite clearly it would not be possible for the North Vietnamese to succeed by military means either. I believe now that honourable members opposite, although they are not prepared to state publicly that it is so, accept that this is the position.
The United States Government is at present involved in what it calls an attempt to find a two track solution. This implies that Washington and Hanoi will be able to work out a military solution which will permit them to withdraw all their forces from South Vietnam. Such a move will leave the way clear for the Saigon Government and the National Liberation Front to negotiate a purely political settlement in South Vietnam. I can see not the slightest logic in this two track theory. A solution to the dreadful impasse of Vietnam can be achieved only by a political compromise between all parties. The best the United States and its ally, the Australian Government, can hope for is a neutral Vietnam. The United States and Australia cannot hope for anything more. The great tragedy is that a neutral Vietnam could have been assured 13 years ago. The Americans will have to involve themselves in a political settlement just as much as the Saigon Government will. On the other side of the coin, Hanoi will have to participate in this sort of solution just as much as the National Liberation Front will.
President Nixon has moved some way towards this sort of solution. His proposals for a settlement are one of three in currency at the moment Others have been put forward by the Hanoi Government and the National Liberation Front. It is worth examining all these proposals in an attempt to find some common ground. A purely political settlement cannot be negotiated internally among the parties of South Vietnam. What would be the position if all foreign forces were withdrawn from
South Vietnam? About one million South Vietnamese soldiers would remain. There would also be about 100,000 Vietcong soldiers. Is it reasonable to assume that the regular South Vietnamese units could contain this number of Vietcong? The fact is that the South Vietnamese have been given massive military assistance by the Americans, and even if all American forces were withdrawn they would maintain immense advantages in the way of equipment and facilities. Yet on the evidence of the past few years fighting it could not be assumed with confidence that the South Vietnamese Army with even a 10 to 1 ratio of strength could contain the Vietcong guerillas. So, even if all foreign troops are withdrawn under international supervision, it is difficult to conceive an end to the internal war. The only solution is a form of political compromise in which the risk of Communist dominance must be accepted and countered by rational and peaceful measures. Certainly there can be no continuation of a situation in which huge military power is used to bomb, burn and shoot Asians who act in the belief that they are fighting for their country.
During the course of his speech the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) said that the United States Government had not accepted any of the propositions that had been put forward by the Australian Labor Party for a peaceful settlement to the war in Vietnam. Surely the honourable member for Perth is able to recall the debates on Vietnam that have taken place in the House. Surely he remembers that as far back as 1967 the Australian Labor Party put forward positive points that it would adopt and put to the United States Government as a major ally, if it were in government, to bring about a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Vietnam. The honourable member for Perth knows only too well that two of those points - recognition of the National Liberation Front and cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam - have been accepted by the United States Government and are proposals which are now being used to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the conflict. Those two proposals certainly have not been rejected by President Nixon. Indeed, President Nixon has gone further than Labor suggested back in 1967. The third point that Labor made in that year was that we should transform our military operation into a holding operation. It is quite obvious that if the first two proposals were successful the third would naturally follow.
The honourable member for Perth indicated to the people of Australia that at no time had the United States Government considered the proposals which were put by the Australian Labor Party on the question of ending the conflict in Vietnam. Indeed, not only were the members of the Australian Labor Party indicating to the Australian and United States governments that the war could never be won by military means - that it could only be brought to an end as a result of peaceful negotiations and a settlement at the conference table - but also the late Senator Robert Kennedy, Senator Fulbright and others were saying the same thing in the United States. However, the Australian Labor Party was saying these things as far back as 1967. If all that President Nixon can do after 13 years of American effort is return to the Geneva Accords, what future is there in this war? At least the President has made a great admission. By implication he has admitted more than a decade of tragic mistakes and miscalculations. But there is not the slightest jot of any recognition of error in the speech of the Prime Minister. Ultimately, the failure of the United States and the futile and ignorant commitment of Australian troops will be sheeted home to this Government.
It is regrettable that the Government has failed to adjust to the rapid changes that have occurred in the war. The Government has refused to move an inch despite the Tet offensive, the American bombing pauses, the Paris negotiations and the return of President Nixon to the Geneva Accords. It is completely preoccupied with its own war in the Phuoc Tuy province and has refused to take the slightest interest in the wider issues of peace and disengagement. When America is exerting all its endeavours to transfer its effort to the Government of South Vietnam, this Government has initiated no plans to shift its area of responsibility. The Prime Minister has positively discounted this.
There are forty-four provinces in South Vietnam and in most of these the war is much fiercer than it is in Phuoc Tuy. The
Government has claimed that Phuoc Tuy province has in the main been pacified and is under control. If this is so there seems little more that the Australian Task Force can do. The stage should be set for the handing over of the province to the South Vietnamese Government. If the Government of South Vietnam and its forces cannot control this province it is impossible to see how they can hold and administer the war torn Mekong Delta and the northern provinces. Yet the Prime Minister claims that it would be shabby to make any attempt to hand over the province to the South Vietnamese Government. It would be even shabbier for Australia to cling to its own little war while America was planning to move the burden to the South Vietnamese Government where at this stage is properly belongs.
The Prime Minister did not deal at any length with the commitment of Australian forces to Malaysia and Singapore after 1.971. He said that Mr Nixon had supported and applauded this decision. He said that the intention of the Australian Government was to prevent a threat arising against Malaysia or Singapore or the region. This was to be done by giving military assistance in stated circumstances to maintain security. To be fair to the right honourable gentleman it must be said that his statement was made before the full significance emerged of the Malaysian elections and the subsequent racial riots. But it must be stated quite clearly that these events gravel) undermine the reasons given by the Prime Minister for the original commitment. In his statement of 25th February the Prime Minister said that Australian assistance was designed to build the domestic defence capacity of both Malaysia and Singapore. He said that Australian troops would be used with his Government’s consent against externally promoted and inspired Communist infiltration and subversion.
Members of the Opposition pointed out at the time that externally promoted activity of this kind was not the most probable threat to Malaysia. We said that the great danger to Malaysian sovereignty was the outbreak of racial turmoil not related to Communist aggression or subversion. Our warnings have been underscored in a most tragic fashion in the past few weeks. We now find that Australia has committed troops to Malaysia after 1971 in most perilous circumstances. It would be a disaster for Asia if the Malaysian Federation were seriously endangered by racial turbulence. It would be a very great tragedy if Australia became implicated in such internal disorder not arising from Communist insurgency. This was the situation put by the Opposition in February. This is the situation that has occurred in Malaysia. The consequences of the Australian commitment have been revealed 2 years before the commitment is to take full effect. The dilemma of the Australian Government has been further pointed up by the request of the Malaysian Government for defence equipment. This situation was referred to tonight by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). The Prime Minister has declared that Australian troops will not be committed to internal conflicts within Malaysia. If this principle is firmly held Australia should not provide military equipment to counter internal dissension of a purely racial nature.
I want to deal finally with Australia’s purchase of Fill aircraft. The Prime Minister’s statement is significant as it appears to have committed the Government without question to the Fill aircraft. Before the Prime Minister went to America there was a deliberate attempt to create a climate in which the order for the aircraft would be cancelled or the contract would be transferred to another aircraft. The Prime Minister seems to have assured himself that all doubts about the Fill have been resolved. In his own words, Australia was odds on to take the aircraft. If the point of no return has been passed and there is now no possibility that the order can be cancelled or renegotiated, the Labor Party and Australia can only hope that the Prime Minister’s confidence in this respect is justified. When I commenced my speech the Minister for Air (Mr Erwin) was seated at the table.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Failes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– We are debating tonight a statement made to the House by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) following his visit to the United States for the purpose of having private discussions with President Nixon. I would like to discuss the statement and the debate that has taken place so far in this context, that in Australia we take for granted the fact that we live in one of the most affluent countries, if not the most affluent country, free internally from ethnological or racial disturbances and relatively free from poverty and disease. I do not believe there would be a man in this House and very few listening to the debate who would not thank God that we live in a country such as Australia, with its heritage and its present situation.
Mr Duthie In spite of the Government.
– Perhaps it is in spite of the Government, but there it is. I am sure that the honourable member for Wilmot would not disagree with my statement that there is no country in which he would rather live, and I would not wish to sound complacent in saying that. All of this counts for nought if the security of this country and of our children in the 30 years remaining in this century is imperilled, as it well may be, because very few people in this House would deny that Australia fortuitously finds itself geographically in the most turbulent area of the world’s political scene today. Therefore the Prime Minister’s statement in this context is extraordinarily important.
I have been listening for 8 years in this House to statements made by Prime Ministers. I think we all key ourselves up to a statement by a Prime Minister, particularly on defence matters. Once we hear such a statement - I have heard them delivered by three different personalities in my time - some of us sometimes feel a little let down on first impact for what the statement does not contain. The statement which we are debating tonight is no exception. It does not contain some matters of fundamental importance, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) pointed out. For example, the Prime Minister told us that he discussed with President Nixon the question of the continuing interest of the United States in Asia post-Vietnam - surely the most important area of discussions between the two men - yet in the statement except in terms of generalities there is no reference to those specific discussions of what took place. How could there be? One vital thing in my mind post- Vietnam is Thailand. What will happen there? It is predictable that there will be
Communist incursions and insurgency in Thailand. What did the two men talk about in that not unlikely but still hypothetical situation? We do not know. We cannot know - and we should not know - for obvious reasons because you do not display to your future and potential enemies what your plans are for the future. Other matters which would be of vital interest to every honourable member would be developments in the Indian Ocean, the United States, and the Philippines and many other matters not referred to in the statement. Notwithstanding that, when one reads this statement carefully and between the lines, it is a most significant document. It does contain items of fundamental significance to Australia’s survival’ in its present form and in its present way of living for the remainder of this century.
At first I was fascinated in the Prime Minister’s appraisal of President Nixon’s opinions on certain aspects which are vital to us at the moment. The Leader of the Opposition did not mention this. These frank appraisals of the Prime Minister I think are of great significance. In fact, the Prime Minister made three appraisals. Firstly, the Prime Minister said: 1 do not believe that America will accept any fake peace or disguised surrender, nor will she retreat from the requirement that the South Vietnamese people should themselves choose their own government.
Every member on this side of the House at least, was heartened to hear that opinion of the Prime Minister concerning the resolution of President Nixon. Secondly - and equally as important - the Prime Minister gave the view that President Nixon said that any withdrawal of troops by America from Vietnam should be regarded as a sign of strength in the building up of the Vietnamese Army and not as a sign of weakness. The Leader of the Opposition tried to make fun of this statement. Thirdly, the Prime Minister said he believed that President Nixon, as his speech showed, and subject to the requirement for a free choice oy the South Vietnamese people being attained, will be flexible, untiring and persistent in seeking to bring the fighting in Vietnam to an end. These are not insignificant statements or opinions from the Prime Minister of Australia on essentially his first meeting and confrontation with the President of the United States. I drew some comfort from those three opinions.
What did the Prime Minister bring back with him? This seems to be something that the Press built up before the Prime Minister left Australia and while he was over there as if one magical visit to the United States and 2 days conversation with the President and leading officials the Prime Minister could bring some magic box of tricks back and plonk it on the table. Of course, this is ridiculous; he did not do that. But I think the Prime Minister brought back something extraordinarily fundamental and significant to us which again the Leader of the Opposition went at great pains to denigrate. The Prime Minister brought back a reaffirmation of the ANZUS treaty by President Nixon in such unequivocal and categorical terms that gave heart to every member on this side of the House who still believes that the ANZUS treaty is the most precious piece of paper in Australian archives. It is a precious piece of paper, but as such it is only a piece of paper. Without the intent and the good faith of one of the signatories to that treaty - the United States - it is not worth the paper it is written on. For President Nixon to have said what he did - and this is in the Prime Minister’s statement - is something which I believe should be welcomed in this country.
The Leader of the Opposition went on to say two sentences. Firstly, he said that Australian Labor Party policy is that ANZUS is crucial and is something which the Party would affirm. He went on to say that the statement brought back by the Prime Minister was hardly a novel aspect of government foreign policy. He said if this was the only thing the Prime Minister brought back from America - a reaffirmation by President Nixon - then his trip was hardly worth while.
The Leader of the Opposition wilfully overlooked the circumstances of the past 6 months or more. He overlooked President Johnson’s intention to resign and the race for Presidential candidacy by three candidates, most of whom showed some sort of mental reservation about America’s future involvement in Asia, and consequently, presumably, in foreign treaties involving their involvement in Asia. There was the President’s mental reservation set in that election campaign on the future involvement of America in Asia. We know of the growing disenchantment of the American people to being involved in land wars in Asia, in the future. To have this affirmation in those circumstances - on the first confrontation between the Prime Minister of Australia and the President of the United States is something that 1 welcome very much.
I now turn to what the Leader of the Opposition said about the role in Vietnam. He made a contemptible allegation towards members of this Government and members on this side of the House when he said that we have resisted every attempt to end this war. I regard that as one of the most contemptible and unfounded accusations that have been made in this House by a political leader. The Leader of the Opposition has not had to take the agony that we have had to take of sending 20-year-olds to Vietnam to fight a war which we believe is for the security of that country, for the people who live in it and for the security of the region itself. He has not had to go through that agony. All he has had to do has been to stand on the sidelines and do nothing about it except criticise.
The Leader of the Opposition trotted out, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition just did, the three magical things which, they have advocated, will end the war. They say that we cannot win it militarily, but if we do three things this will be the magic key. The three things are: Cessation of the bombing; the recognition of the National Liberation Front; and reduce the war to a holding operation. All these things now have virtually been done. Can any member of the Opposition say at this point of time that the war in Vietnam, because those things have virtually been done, is any closer to a conclusion than it ever was?
The Vietcong, aided by North Vietnamese regulars who have invaded South Vietnam, are committing the most heinous carnage on women and children by indiscriminate mortar fire. The Paris peace talks are being deliberately and wilfully used as a bargaining instrument by the North Vietnamese. Sir, I cannot see that this gives us any room for joy. There are three possible conclusions to the Vietnam war, of which members of the Opposition know well. The allied forces could walk out and leave the fate of the Vietnamese to themselves. We know what the result would be if we did that. I wonder whether any member of the Opposition could sleep contentedly tonight if that decision was taken by the United States or by us? They would know that 14 million men, women and children would be automatically enslaved for the term of their natural lives under the Communist regime if that were done.
The second thing that could be done is to invade North Vietnam. I for one discount this course as being unworkable and unthinkable. The third solution is to do what is being done now; to show the Communists in the only language which they know that we will resist the aggression and that they will not win on the battlefield or that they will not win all their own way at the conference table.
In his speech, the Leader of the Opposition then went on to criticise the Australian battalion in Singapore. He rather ridiculed the Government’s policy and suggested that if this is the best the Government can do as far as its forward defence policy is concerned, it is not much good at all. But what did the Leader of the Opposition recommend when this policy was announced? One does not like to ridicule, but what the Leader of the Opposition recommended, as I understand it, was that we have some troops standing by and when there is some kind of insurrection in Asia we put them into helicopters or some other airborne craft and fly them up there at a moment’s notice. He suggested that this would take care of everything.
The Leader of the Opposition then made what I thought was one of the most irresponsible charges that have been ever made by a leader of a political party in this country. He said that as far as Malaysia is concerned, no longer will the Government of Malaysia have any respect from any of the members of the Australian Labor Party or any members of the Australian people. I dissociate myself, and I am sure all supporters of my Party do likewise, with that dreadful statement. We do not agree with what the Tunku has said recently in oversimplifying the situation in blaming it on the Communists. We do not agree that political leaders should be arrested. But here is a nation which has so many fundamental problems to begin with. For a leader of another party in another country to exacerbate those problems by cutting himself and his party off and by allegedly cutting off the Australian people from that country’s problems, to me is an act of sheer irresponsibility with which I personally dissociate myself.
Then we get on to the question of bases. The Leader of the Opposition had the effrontery to bring up again the question of the North West Cape naval communication station. He criticised that part of the Prime Minister’s statement in which the Prime Minister reaffirmed our obligations under ANZUS to allow certain bases to be erected for joint defence in Australia, and then he mentioned the North West Cape installation. Let me for historical reasons remind the House of the circumstances of the North West Cape installation in the early 1960s. We know the constitution of the Labor Party. Honourable members opposite have no say whatsoever on matters of policy. In fact, they had no say at all at the time of the establishment of the North West Cape base. These matters are regulated by members of the Federal Executive of the Labor Party.
I do not want to recoin the phrase introduced by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) of ‘the thirty-six faceless men’, but these men are the policy makers of the Federal Labor Party. In 1963 they deliberated in a motel in Canberra to determine whether it was a fundamental part of the defence responsibility of Australia and the United States under ANZUS to establish a base at North West Cape. Seventeen of those thirty-six men categorically voted against the establishment of the base under any circumstances. After having deliberated for some time, only nineteen of them - a majority of virtually one - decided that the base should be erected and that the Labor Party would support it, but only under certain conditions, and those conditions were quite monstrous. These men knew at that time that this base was to be erected in order to communicate with ships in the ocean, essentially for retaliatory purposes in the event of a nuclear war.
If the Labor Party had been in power at that time, if a crisis had arisen when it was demanding joint control of the base and if the United States President had made a decision to defend the free world by the use of this base to send signals to submarines in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere,’ the policy of the Labor Party would have necessitated that that decision be communicated to the Australian Labor government, and that government’s permission would have had to be granted before that base could have been used to send a signal. These things take time, and God only knows what would have happened to the free world in that space of time - minutes, hours or whatever time it would have taken for such joint consultation to have taken place. It would have been bad enough if that consultation could have taken place merely by a telephone call on the hot line from the then President of the United States to the then Labor Prime Minister of Australia. But we know that the Labor Prime Minister would not have been empowered then and he would not be empowered now to make a decision on any set of circumstances. It would have had to be referred at least to Cabinet but, looking at the Australian Labor Party’s constitution, more probably to the Executive of the Labor Party or to the then thirty-six faceless men.
In that year, 1963, the Labor Party was demanding joint control of the North West Cape base. It would seem to me that the Labor Party has moved from that position in 1963, so far as bases are concerned now. It has moved to the position of opposing all bases at all costs. Even joint control has gone. Now it is flagrant opposition. As the Prime Minister stated, we have joined with the most powerful nation on earth in a treaty which we on this side of the House believes gives us some chance of guaranteeing the security of the people of this country for the rest of this century. We have joined with the United States in the ANZUS treaty. The United States has given us a certain undertaking that it will help in our defence if we are attacked.
– How do you know that?
– If the honourable gentleman read the treaty, which I am sure he is capable of doing, he would then know it from the wording of the ANZUS treaty, which was reaffirmed by President Nixon in his statement, which the honourable gentleman’s leader chose to denigrate. If we set any store by that treaty, what sort of morality is to accept what the treaty gives and to give nothing back in return? We on this side of the House believe that we have this sense of morality. If we enter into a treaty for the security of the people of this country for the rest of this century, we cannot have it one sided. We have to give and take. For the assurance which we get under the treaty we are prepared and have the courage to run these risks and accept the responsibilities which the treaty imposes upon us.
– One assumption underlies the speeches of both former Ministers for the Navy who have just spoken - the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) and the honourable member for Higinbotham (Mr Chipp). The assumption underlying their speeches is that there is such a thing as a nuclear umbrella. That is to say, they believe that the United States would involve itself in a nuclear war for the sake of Australia. This is an interesting proposition. The honourable member for Perth believes that we are under the nuclear protection of the United States. This is not to be answered with derision but, frankly, I do not believe that any country will expose itself to the possibility of a war of annihilation for the sake of any of its minor partners. Let me remind the honourable member for Higinbotham and the honourable member for Perth of the Sino-Soviet split in 1958. In 1958 the Peking government wanted to invade Quemoy and Matsu which are Chinese islands off the coast of China in the hands of Nationalists. The United States made it perfectly clear to China that if it did invade these islands the United States would wage a thermo-nuclear war on China. It was then up to Russia, as China’s ally, ‘to come good’ with nuclear protection. The Soviet Union had to face the fact that to implement any nuclear guarantee its entire industrial complex and a very large part of its population would be annihilated for the sake of China. The Soviet Union was not prepared to take that stand, and I personally do not believe that the United States would subject itself to nuclear annihilation for anybody else.
Some of the most skilled diplomats in the world - those in France - came to the same conclusion about France. That is why France decided to have its own independent nuclear deterrent. If I believed, as the honourable member for Perth believes, that this country is teetering on the brink of invasion, like Holland was when it was a neighbour to Nazi Germany - this is an extraordinary statement - I would believe that this country should mobilise its scientists to develop our own nuclear weapons. If Australia is in the danger which the honourable member for Perth believes it is in, then in my opinion he, or anybody who holds that view, is logically committed to the development of nuclear weapons. I would ask the honourable member for Perth three simple questions on his invasion thesis, because it is perfectly obvious from tonight’s electioneering debate that the Government is again going to rely on fear as its main asset in Australia - fear in an electorate which has a very deep yellow peril substratum in its thinking. If Australia is going to be invaded, I ask the honourable member for Perth: Who can invade Australia? How will they do it? What must we do to stop them? Is it Indonesia? Is that the power you fear? Is it China? Is that the power you fear?
– You are asking questions but I will have no chance to answer them.
– The honourable member can name one power which could invade Australia.
– You read what 1 said instead of trying to remember what I said.
– 1 have heard one of your foremost defence experts say that there is a power which could invade Australia, and it is the United States. That is at present the only power which could invade Australia. If China develops a navy, a long range bomber force, nuclear weapons and a huge merchant marine and if it changes its foreign policy from a quarrel with the Soviet Union, then after all that has been done and after the conquest of South East Asia, it is possible that China could invade Australia. I think of Israel, a country that really has to live with the threat of invasion, and of other countries which live next to powerful neighbours - countries like Sweden and Switzerland. These countries would regard our strategic situation as very paradise. The idea of representing Australia as one of the most dangerously beleaguered nations in the world appears to me to be quite wrong.
I am never going to be impressed by someone who yells ‘neutralist’ or ‘isolationist’. There is not going to be a fear of any labels as far as I am concerned. If a person advocates a policy of isolation, as the United States did for 150 years, then that is a policy subject to analysis as to whether it is the most effective policy. Holland and Belgium certainly did not get away with neutrality in 1939 but Switzerland did, and Sweden did perhaps without honour. That is all I would say in analysing those three positions. But Switzerland has had to live next door to insane neighbours like Nazi Germany and has still gained from a policy of neutrality, and I would not condemn Switzerland’s position as unwise. Neutralism or isolationism in certain circumstances can be active, intelligent policy. We are isolationist towards United States intervention in the Dominican Republic. We have never done anything about it and would be silly if we did. There are a whole series of situations in the world in which we do not get involved; we have decided to be neutralist and isolationist towards innumerable situations in the world. I have watched the Government prised off unshakeable’ attitude after ‘unshakeable’ attitude. I have been 23 years in this Parliament. I used to hear Menzies say: ‘If we do not support white rule in Asia we are in for the very ecstasy of suicide.* Honourable members can find that ‘very ecstasy of suicide’ in two of his speeches 15 years apart.
The French no longer rule in Indo China. We live on. The Dutch no longer rule in Indonesia. We live on. The British no longer rule in India. We live on. And the whole tendency of Asian history is that Europeans will get out. Whatever disagreements there are in Asia - and they are very profound - there is no disagreement about this. They long for the day when no decision which profoundly affects them will be made in London, Washington, Paris, Moscow, or, I might add, even in Canberra. That is the trend of our time, and it is quite clearly the trend affecting United States policy in regard to the Vietnam war.
The honourable member for Higinbotham in his speech tonight said: ‘We will not invade North Vietnam. That is an unthinkable policy.’ If that is an unthinkable policy, this war will not be brought to a termination. If Hitler had been given a guarantee against invasion he would still be in power in Nazi Germany. Clausewitz, I think it was, said: ‘The aim of war is to change the will of the enemy government and nation.” Mr Deputy Speaker, 1 ask you soberly: ‘Whose will is changing in the Vietnam war? Is it the will of the United States, or is it the will of North Vietnam? If members opposite wanted to change the will of the Government and people of North Vietnam they would have to carry out an invasion and overthrow the Government of North Vietnam. I used to see the former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Sir Robert Menzies, defending the French position in Indo China, but that did not make it tenable - it disappeared.
Now I am not saying what I am going to say with any sort of rejoicing. I know that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) cannot get up here and reveal his conversations with President Nixon. Nor can he get up here and say what he thinks about foreign powers; and some governments that are friendly with this Government are engaged in plainly evil courses of action. But I do not blame the Prime Minister for not exercising the kind of freedom that I will choose to exercise, because he carries the responsibility of headship of the Government. That does not alter the fact that some frank speaking in this Parliament - and frank speaking around the world - can exert certain forms of pressure. Look at the Islamic world. All this Government wants to talk about is Communism. Let us look at Islam as a political force. What is is engaged in? It is engaged in many places in a total policy of massacre. The Islamic north of Nigeria is massacring Ibos on a grand scale. The Islamic north of Sudan has been massacring Southern Sudanese Negroes. Nassar’s Cairo Radio demands the extermination of every man, woman and child in Israel and has actually carried out massacres, with poison gas, of Yemeni Arabs. In Islamic East Pakistan there have just been widespread massacres and our good friend Indonesia engaged in the terrifying massacre of 300,000 Chinese. Now, next door in Malaysia - Australia’s sane friend where the old colonial trained Prime Ministers like the Tunku have managed to hold Umno and Islamic fanaticism at bay - there is a slide towards a hatred of the Chinese community, which began with driving Singapore out of the Federation. There is nothing to rejoice about in these events, but if these are the foundations on which the Government is going to build its policy in Malaysia and these are the places where it is going to take our troops, it should at least have the modesty to recognise that it is putting them in pretty untenable positions - quite dangerously untenable positions.
I believe that the United States made a fundamental mistake in Vietnam - a mistake which has nothing to do with the merits or demerits of the Vietnam war and has nothing to do with whether the Vietcong are nice people or are not nice people. I think they are just about as nice as our Indonesian neighbours with whom the Government has no difficulty in being friendly. Indeed, I should say that they could not achieve anything much more terrifying than the massacre of 300,000 Chinese who were killed merely because they were Chinese anyway. But whatever is said about the merits or demerits of the Vietcong, the United States made a fundamental assumption about Vietnam. That was that it was an- area in which the United States was in reality in confrontation with Chinese power: in other words, that it was one of the points of East-West confrontation. It is not one of the points of East-West confrontation. China does not care the proverbial twopenny damn if the United States and the Australian Government remain in Vietnam for the next 25 years. It is no skin off China’s nose. From China’s point of view America and Australia can bleed themselves white as long as they like, because they will not have done a single thing to impair China’s power; and the Government has made the childish mistake of assuming that the fundamental ideology in the Communist bloc is Communism when in truth the fundamental ideology in the Communist Bloc is nationalism.
The Czechs want their national independence. The Poles want their national independence. The Chinese want to be independent of Russia. The Vietnamese want to be independent of China. And North Korea, which has a government which was installed in power originally by “Chinese People’s Volunteers’ now tells
China to go to hell. This situation of conflicting nationalism is the real situation in the Communist world and the Government’s diagnosis of the Communist world is wrong as was the diagnosis of the honourable member for Perth who suggested that somehow Asia is an entity. My God, he nearly got close to the old jargon ‘Hungry eyes are cast on our land’ that we were brought up on in our childhood. The fundamental situation in these countries is quite otherwise. China’s claims, if she has any territorial claims, are made against the Soviet Union. But in United States policy now is that she wants to make a demarche with Russia. The United States government does not want world suicide in nuclear war. The areas of confrontation of the United States with the eastern bloc are not in Vietnam; they are in Europe still and in the Middle East. These places are where United Stales policy is now tending to put the emphasis, and the presence of 600,000 troops of the United States in Vietnam in a perpetually wearing war is diminishing her influence in both Europe and the Middle East.
The honourable member for Perth complained about the pressure of minorities on United States policy. I will refer to that later. He treated Asia as an entity having possible inimical intentions towards Australia. Has anyone taken a look at Asia? An entity! Can anybody tell me two Asian nations which agree with one another? We have India in dispute with Pakistan, Burma expelling Indians from Burma and even X-raying them to make sure that they have not swallowed their jewels as they crossed from one country to the other, and we have Ceylon with a policy of progressively expelling Tamils - they are Indians - from Ceylon. The Philippines and Malaysia are quarrelling over Sabah. We have a very tenuous situation over Indonesia. China and her Russian neighbour are in a state of dispute, and when we look at the other powers, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, we find disagreements among them.
All I want to say to the honourable member for Perth, who is uncritical of SEATO and who is trying to get in an interjection, ‘Khoman’, is that the Thai Foreign Minister is the most critical commentator on SEATO. I do not blame him for that. Where does Britain stand on
SEATO? Where does France stand on SEATO? Where does Pakistan stand on SEATO? They are all members of SEATO but I do not think they are very enthusiastically endorsing it now. I cannot honestly say that this is a treaty which is so honoured by the other signatories to it that we can place a lot of confidence in it.
The argument about the pressure of minorities interested me. It came from the honourable member for Perth. Minorities are always the effective forces in the country. All the honourable members sitting opposite me belong to a minority. They are the minority of Australians who will shift themselves to bother about politics or to bother about world affairs. Honourable members opposite know jolly well that in the last resort they were all self chosen as members of Parliament. If they had not chosen to be active they would not have come to the fore in Australian public life and would not have had delegated to them the responsibility of coming here and making decisions. Every activist of any kind - Conservative, Liberal, Labor, anarchist, Communist or anything else - belongs to the active minority that will bother to do anything. The minorities in the United States which have exerted pressure on United States policy have been effective for a number of reasons - firstly because intelligent men can genuinely doubt the policy on Vietnam, and, secondly, because in the shift of education all the old stories that once satisfied men when they went to war have gone by the board.
I am reminded of the scene in Bernard Shaw’s play ‘St Joan’ where the Archibishop of Rheims and the General de la Tremouille are conversing. The General accuses the Archbishop of having developed certain myths in the community and the Archbishop says to la Tremouille: ‘Well, you are not a theologian or a churchman but a statesman and a soldier. Could you get your people to pay war taxes and fight in wars if they knew what really was happening instead of what seems to them to be happening?’ The General replies: ‘No, by St Denis. The fat would be in the fire before sundown.’ All the old stuff that men once swallowed, such as ‘the Kaiser wants to rule the world’ or ‘massive slaughter was justified’, tends to be rejected by modern youth. They want something very much better than this in explanations about, for instance, why we bombed North Vietnam. Captain John Horrick of the ‘Maddox’ said to United Press International that there was no doubt that there was an attack by North Vietnamese on his ship. Before the United States Senate Committee he spoke about over-enthusiastic’ and untrained sonar men who were ‘confused by weather effects’. What he privately said was told Senator Fulbright in the United States Senate. All this contradiction creates a quite different attitude in the mind of youth from the uncritical acceptance of slogans by their elders. We sometimes see young people debating with older people on television. They might as well be people from two different planets. Some of them may be making grave mistakes, but they do not take on trust everything that is said to them. They know one truth and that is that in war or in any sort of conflict truth is the first casualty. I think the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) revealed what he honestly felt he could reveal in the statement that we are now debating. I have spoken about the limitations under which he laboured. I have no particular criticism of his statement for that reason, but I do think that the world affairs and foreign policy, though they may be used for political propaganda, will not be in the slightest degree changed by it.
– We have again listened to a most remarkable speech in this current session by a member of the Opposition who obviously wants to hide behind the real facts of the situation in which Australia finds itself today. Whilst I have a great respect for the elegance, the debating capacity and the polish in the art of using words by the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), I am aghast at his complete ignorance of the position of Australia today. He has participated in a debate on the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) which he delivered following his return from discussion with the President of the United States of America. The honourable member has said nothing material about this whatsoever, beyond admitting that he has no quarrel with the statement and that in fact the Prime Minister would not be able to tell this Parliament what he would have liked to tell it. The honourable member says that he understands this and accepts it. But then the honourable member for Fremantle went off on a tangent and spoke about a state of affairs that he has conjured up in his own mind. He described this as our beliefs as a Government. The strong views expressed in this Parliament by the Prime Minister, by the Cabinet Ministers and by members of the Government parties who have spoken in this debate this evening show that there is a very serious concern for the security of this country. For that reason the Prime Minister’s visit was justified. There was every justification for his statement of satisfaction with the outcome of his discussions and his belief that there was a basic requirement for his visit in the interests of this nation.
The honourable member for Fremantle says that this is all childish and that there is no threat to Australia. In one short comment in this Parliament he says to us that we should ignore the fact that we are part of a treaty arrangement with the United States. He strongly deplores the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. He says to us, in effect, that there is no country in Asia that we are justified in being associated with. What utter humbug. He condemned every country in Asia in a few words. This is a reflection on the honourable member for Fremantle and on his Party which permitted him to make these quite ludicrous statements in this House. I challenge him to tell the people of Australia that his Party believes that there is no reason at all1 for defence, that there is no reason at all for us to be associated in treaties or in any other way with our neighbours to the north of Australia. I want to emphasise this point because of the assertion this evening by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) and the honourable member for Fremantle that the defence of this country is not of any consequence and that in fact we should be in the forefront of a move to reduce the participation of Australia and those other countries associated with us - including, of course, the United States - in the defence of freedom in Asia. The Leader of the Opposition began his speech tonight by suggesting to this Parliament that there should be a detente with’ the Soviet Union and that there should be a very strong move on the part of this Parliament to ensure that Australia moves away from the US and in the direction of the Communist bloc. There is no other interpretation that can be placed upon what we have heard this evening.
I want to remind this House that there are still thinking Australians in this country and that the expressions of confidence in our security which are so clearly outlined in the Prime Minister’s statement have given heart to the people of Australia. The proof of this lies in the very strong support that has been evidenced in the editorial space of the Australian Press following upon the statement made in this House by the Prime Minister last Thursday evening. Not one newspaper in Australia bas done other than commend the statement for all that it contained; for what it expressed; for the encouragement that it gave; to the expressed policies of the Government; to Australia’s continuing role in ANZUS, and to its responsibilities in SEATO. Yet we have been told by the Opposition that all of this is just painful repetition, that it is in fact meaningless, that it is not justified and that we should be doing something entirely different to what in fact has been the outcome of the Prime Minister’s discussions in the USA. T suppose it is fair to admit that if there has to be reaffirmation, whether it be concerning treaties between countries or arrangements between nations, there is nothing of great moment about it when it comes to flag waving, hand clapping or cheering. The Prime Minister has said exactly this. Before he made the statement he said ‘There was nothing of tremendous excitement about this’, and this was a fact. What he was doing was informing every Australian that there was reason for continued confidence in our position.
I want to speak very briefly about the import of this confidence because we do live in a region where there are dangers to our security, regardless of what has been said tonight which suggests that we should be moving towards the Communist Bloc and that we should be thinking in entirely different terms. This threat is the real reason why we are involved in the Vietnam war and why Australian troops are serving there. There is no doubt at all that if there had not been the action thus far taken in Vietnam, if there were not 600,000 troops from the USA, if there were not a small but significant force of Australian troops and if there were not support from other quarters as well, we would not see today the creation of a very much stronger South Vietnam. It is stronger militarily and stronger economically, and therefore better able to attempt the task of protecting its own community. Was not this the expressed policy of the US and of Australia? Of course it was. There was never any proposal to go in and to try and win a battle, to gain territory, to overthrow, to participate in a war of the sort that historically has been necessary on past occasions. This was a different kind of war. The war in Vietnam has been recognised by all thinking people to be a different kind of war because it was designed by those who were enemies of freedom to be a different kind of war. lt began with insurgency and insurrection, and it has continued in that way ever since. It is sheer humbug for the honourable member for Fremantle to try and tell honourable members that there is no threat to Australia.
What has happened in Vietnam itself is sufficient to indicate the kind of difficulties that this nation could be faced with if Asia were to continue to drift away from a situation of some kind of security within the respective nations that want security and that want, as a result of that security, freedom and independence. It is true that there are divisions between the Soviet and Red China. This point is clearly understood throughout the world. It is also understood by both of those nations. . There is in fact great enmity on both sides. But does this alter in the slightest the peril for Australia? We see today the Mediterranian almost dominated by the Soviet Union because of the build-up of its naval strength in that region, a strength that is practically equal to that of the US fleet. Does it stop at that? Of course it does not. It is well known that there is a very substantia] build-up of Soviet naval strength in the Indian Ocean. Is this not a long range threat to Australia? Yet, we have been told by the Leader of the Opposition tonight that we should be moving towards detente with the Soviet Union. Whom does he think he is fooling in this country? Australia is in an unfortunate position in that it is an island continent with the Indian Ocean on one side, the Pacific Ocean on the other side and Asia to the north.
What is happening in the Pacific Ocean, quite apart from the near Asian situation? There is a tremendous build-up of the Soviet naval strength in the Pacific Ocean. This was not mentioned by honourable members opposite. They deny the fact. They have not even admitted that these things are occurring. Why do they do this? They do it because they are adhering to the same old policy that has suited the Australian Labor Party that they would wish to continue to espouse and try and convince the Australian community that it is a policy of worth that we should take all this very calmly and say that there is no threat to Australia and that we should disallow the US the privilege of being associated with us in the ANZUS Treaty to the extent as reaffirmed tonight of imposing all kinds of restrictions on the establishment of a US naval base at North West Cape and its continuance as a vital part of the defence of the free world. What a joke to hear the Leader of the Opposition tonight again quoting the words of his predecessor regarding this matter. What were those words? The Labor Party said: ‘We have no reason to be opposed to the setting up of the base. We would agree with it on the condition that there was joint control’. Is this a reasonable proposition when in fact the whole of the operation of this base is related to the essential control and signalling apparatus clearly known to the world for the servicing of the US navy.
In the last few days we have seen the operation of a greatly advanced piece of scientific work on the part of the US that very largely concerns Australia - the Apollo programme. Australia has granted the rights for certain things to be done and is a participant to a point of an agreement with the US in allowing these facilities to be placed here as a contribution to the provisions in the ANZUS Treaty which are there to help defend this country, lt would be ridiculous if we were to say that we wanted joint control when we are not even paying a single dollar towards the cost of this part of the defence of the free world and although we stand in line for the great benefits and credit which will flow from this as the years go by. But the Opposition says: ‘No. We will not have a bar of it. We do not want it that way at all. We will insist on joint control’. If this is the policy of the Australian Labor Party I am sure that the Australian electorate will continue to reject that Party while it persists with this altitude to defence. If we have learned anything tonight from this debate on the Prime Minister’s statement of last Thursday, surely it is in this field of getting a further intimation of the real basis of the Opposition’s thinking and current approach to the all important question of the defence of Australia.
There was no basic motive in the Prime Minister’s statement other than to reassure the nation just where we stand so far as security is concerned. But there were other incidental matters related to the important question of Australia’s continuing opportunity to have a very close relationship with the United States at the political level. Surely this is important not only from a defence standpoint but from an economic standpoint and from the standpoint of the welfare of every Australian and the very desirable objective of achieving a closer and more elastic relationship between our two countries. A few years ago this was regarded as a frightful thing by those people who had placed their confidence and faith in the United Kingdom. [Quorum formed.] I referred to the historic situation in which we were often confronted with the challenge that we were moving away from the United Kingdom and breaking our ties with the United Kingdom because of the action that this Government took almost a decade ago to ensure a stronger relationship with the United States. This was a matter of emphasising what we needed to do in both participation and co-operation with the United States under the ANZUS treaty, which came into existence 17 years ago. But these trends were inevitable because of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom east of Suez. This threat was seen a considerable time ago. This point has been completely ignored thus far in the debate, and the Opposition has made no mention of it whatsoever.
There is no more vital consideration than the fact that we would stand alone if it were not for our opportunity to strengthen our ties with the United States and to place our reliance upon the security that this can bring us. There would be no future for this country if we were to choose to continue on in the old hackneyed way, referred to by the honourable member for Fremantle, of hoping for assistance from some part of Europe, Yet he tells us here in this Par liament that the real problems of the free world are still in Europe and not in Asia, that Australia is not confronted with any danger whatsoever and that we should not be proceeding along the course which we have chosen to follow. I reject this out of hand. I believe that the Prime Minister’s statement to the nations was a further move forward in the security of Australia.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– How could a man with a cringing philosophy like the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) get into the Australian Parliament? What is wrong with all the Government supporters? What are they afraid of? I suppose it is part of the Clarence River folk lore - the Asians are coming; the Chinese will be here today, the Cambodians tomorrow night and the Mongolians next Tuesday week. The honourable member for Cowper is the man who discovered space ships on the dairy farm. We can expect to hear anything from people such as that. He spent his 20 minutes reiterating that Australia has to get closer to the United States, then pause, and then get closer to the United States. When are we to stand up as Australians and speak as Australians? The honourable member has suddenly discovered that Russian ships are in the Indian Ocean. He has found out that ships sail around the world. If he were the chief of the Russian naval staff where would he put some of his major submarines? Would he not put them in the Indian Ocean with their sights lined up on North West Cape, and would he not have his submarines lined on any possible nuclear target which would be part of a threat against his own country?
There were two or three things that the honourable member said about my colleague, the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), which were patently wrong, to the point of deliberate falsehood. He said that the honourable member for Fremantle wrote us out of Australia’s defence and that the Australian Labor Party was not interested in the defence or the security of the country. He implied that this was the theme of the speech of the honourable member for Fremantle. Anybody who knows Australian politics would know that that is not true. He spent his time telling us about threats that were coming, but he never said where they were coming from. He talked about dangers to our security, about drifting towards the Communist bloc and all such rubbish. The closest Communist country to Australia is North Vietnam. There has not been any change in the Communist situation over the last 10 or 15 years. Government supporters bring forward this constant and overbearing threat as an escape from any form of constructive policy. This is the great weakness of Australian political life.
The interesting thing to members on this side of the House was the fact that in this debate, although the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) made his statement and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) spoke in reply and was followed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), noi one single Minister has spoken. Only exMinisters have spoken. Is this the way in which members of the Government value the Prime Minister’s statement, or are they afraid? Where is the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) tonight? Where is the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) tonight? Why is the Minister for Air (Mr Erwin) not in here to explain the Fill? Where are they all? That is no way in which to treat the Parliament or the people of Australia. The problem as 1 see it is this: In 410 AD the Romans withdrew from Britain and supporters of the Government have not got over the shock of their ancestry stemming from the arrival of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes. They cannot possibly live in the present day. We have spent the last hour or so listening to every speaker from the Liberal Party and the Country Party overwriting the turbulence of South East Asia and underwriting Australia’s strength. That is a most disgraceful attitude to Australia’s political and military history. Honourable members opposite are writing Australia out of history and are making us not a satellite but almost whatever a sub-satellite could be. It is time that Australia spoke for itself. 1 do not remember a more craven and un- Austral ian utterance than the Prime Minister’s speech in this House. There was not one single indication that he had any pride in Australia, any confidence in Australia or any belief in Australia’s selfreliance. No other nation surrenders its self respect in this way. He has an ANZUS complex. Let us look at what he had to say. The whole tenor of his statement on his visit to the United States was a reaffirmation of the ANZUS Treaty. He said that the strongest guarantee of Australia’s future security against physical attack is the ANZUS Treaty. He would probably be the only person in the world who would say that. None of his predecessors put it in such absolute terms. Nobody in America would put it in such absolute terms. Nobody would give that kind of guarantee.
The Prime Minister came home absolutely thrilled to the back teeth because the President had been forthright and unambiguous in the reaffirmation of the application of the treaty. The treaty is of considerable significance to us, he said. He went on to say that our own security in a changing world depends to a very great extent on our relations and arrangements with the United States, and so on and so on. Then he came to this gem of political utterance. What did he say the people would say? He said: ‘We will rely on you to protect us but, oh, we will not incur the slightest risk to help you protect yourself and us and others’.
I for one do not rely on America to protect Australia. I will rely on the spirit of Australia and its allies as free and equal partners. Australia does not rely on anybody else to protect it. Any fullblooded person with the kind of Australian ancestry that he ought to have would never say such a thing. We do not rely on anybody else to protect us. Australia will have to rely on self help. I am not surprised that the honourable member for Cowper is leaving the House when I am talking about Australia defending itself. No other nation acts in such a situation in this way. Does Israel talk like that surrounded and begird as it is by enemies sworn to annihilate it? As the honourable member for Fremantle pointed out, does Switzerland talk like that, beset with people like the Germans around it. and so on? Does Sweden do this? In our own area, is this what Cambodia says? Does any other single nation talk like this?
What has happened to people on the other side of the House? Have they not noticed that a watershed has occurred in history and that the world is different from what it was in 1848 or in 410? Have they not noticed that in this part of the world no more are the decisions made by the warmongers of western Europe. It is the western Europeans who have been the threat to the world, not the Asians. I deny the interpretation of history that says that it is the Asians who have been the threat to peace. From 1947 up to 1957 there was such a fundamental change in the way that the world went that it is all so different now. No longer are the decisions for India made in London; they are made in New Delhi. No more are the decisions made for Singapore in London; they are made in Singapore. No more are the decisions concerning Vietnam made in Paris; they are made in Saigon and Hanoi. No more is Djakarta answerable to the Hague; it answers for itself.
This is the fundamental fact of this part of the world. We are not dragged any more into the imperialist concepts of western Europe. We live in a world of trouble. We live in an unsettled world. We live in a world of bad government. We do not live in the turbulent threatening world of which honourable members opposite are speaking continually. What baffles me is this: What has happened to people opposite? The honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) spoke tonight. He was a decorated airman in the last war. Twentyfive years ago, nothing frightened him. He took up his aircraft. He eventually received the Air Force Cross.
– What did you do?
– I attended. What about the Prime Minister? He was a gallant airman. He took up his Spitfires against the Zeros. He flew over Europe. Nothing frightened him then. Now, he is terrified of the shadows of invisible Asian hordes. The honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes) was one of the people who held Tobruk. Great and gallant soldier as he was, what is he frightened of now? Where is he now? Is he hiding under his bed somewhere from some Communist threat? He is not in here. I mention also the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles). What is wrong with the lot of you? What has happened to the Australian spirit? For the last 20 years members on the Government side have been spreading this miasma over the Australian nation and have been trying to write us out of history. It is a disgrace. Of course, what is the ANZUS treaty? It is a piece of West European white Chauvinism. In the whole sea of people in this part of the world, how many are white? Australia is white. We-
– I am here. I am not in bed. I am not like the honourable member.
– Oh, I withdraw. I apologise for any offence to the honourable member. I said that he was a gallant and distinguished soldier. What I want to know is what has happened to his politics. We are now beset with this kind of white Chauvinism based upon America, Australia and New Zealand. What of the Japanese, the Cambodians, the Thais, the Malaysians and the Indonesians? Are they not here also? When are we going to speak to them as free and equal people? This, I believe, is the great problem of Australian politics at this time as it has been for a century past. We have this Australian miasma, this fear of Asia.
Turn back the clock and have a look what people have said in the past. John Pascoe Fawkner, a member of that distinguished and illustrious house, the Legislative Council of Victoria, said in 1857, I think it was, this: ‘We must have a select committee to look into the way in which we will protect Australia Felix from the Asian and Mongol hordes of the Emperor of China’. It was Victoria that purchased the ‘Cerberus’ in the last part of the last century to keep the Russians out. If honourable members read the book by Anthony Trollop, they will see what he says about the forts in Sydney and how they were built to keep people out too. That is part of the fallacy of it all.
The first fallacy is that the Asians are all set to descend on us in hordes. The only Asians likely to descend on us are the Japanese capitalists who are welcomed by all the honourable members opposite and who get us at 6d a ton. The other fallacy is that Australia cannot defend itself. Australia is the only country in the world that says this so emphatically and for so long. A more cringing attitude I have never known in respect of any other country. Then there is the China neurosis. There are a few other fallacies as well. There is the one that we are so valuable to the United States - not as a piece of real estate because, after all, the Americans have a good deal of their own but for something written on a mystical piece of paper - that the Americans will defend us. I suppose that it would be a piece of bad history if I called it a scrap of paper. Honourable members opposite would say I was writing it out, or tearing it up or something of that sort. But the Americans, because of that paper, when the chips are down are going to let loose on their own cities the retaliatory rockets of their enemies because they are going to protect Woomera or some other area like that in Australia. Is there anybody who really believes that?
Does the honourable member for Higinbotham, who is in so many other matters realistic in the extreme, really believe that? Has anybody in history ever done that? Did that happen in the fracas between the Chinese and the Russians? Of course it did not. The honourable member for Fremantle asked a while ago whether honourable members thought that any American government would sacrifice American cities to protect Australia. All I can say to the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro), who is trying to interject, is that if he believed that, he has a completely different attitude from the one that I have gained from my study of history. So, I believe that this is the major fallacy of Australian politics. Of course, as the honourable member for Fremantle said, if the threat is so imminent or so evident, what is the Government going to do about it? The Government ought to be equipping Australia with nuclear weapons. It ought to be doing all sorts of things. An honourable member opposite is interjecting about Vietnam.
– Does the honourable member agree that we should equip ourselves with nuclear weapons?
– The honourable member for Barton was a distinguished free thinking member. Now he is a rubber stamp for some ancient cringing philosophy. The honourable member is full of fight for the people of Vietnam, for their freedom and for their right freely to choose their government. We hear not a sound from anybody opposite, from the honourable member for Swan (Mr Cleaver), or from the honourable member-
– Does the honourable member agree that-
-Order! The honourable member for Barton will cease interjecting.
– It does not matter: it is good practice. What about the Papuans? What about the people in West Irian? Why are they not to have free choice? The Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes), basing his ideas on the running of ballots of which he has experience in his Country Party associations apparently, thinks that it is all right. It does not matter what happens to the Papuans. Not a thing is said by the Government or most honourable members in this House about that situation. But they will send boys to die in Vietnam in a battle that cannot be won. These boys are fighting tonight and have been fighting every day over the last few weeks. We hear of 1 man killed today, 2 men killed the day before, 3 men wounded 3 or 4 days ago all in a cause that cannot be won. Yet, a few hundred miles from our frontier a great struggle is developing.
I have no doubt that it is minute in the affairs of the world. But the Papuans are entitled to the consideration of the world. I do not know what the Government can do about it. I do know that the people of Indonesia are possibly susceptible to the influence of the Australian Government and of the Australian people. They still have a great affection for Australia because of the fact that this country was responsible in the large measure for their gaining independence some 20 years ago. We should be exercising every piece of diplomatic and humanitarian influence that we can upon the Indonesian people to do something about this problem.
– Might I ask the honourable member what his solution to the Vietnam war is?
– My solution of the Vietnam conflict from the Australian point of view is to disengage from the troop position and to get on with the job of commencing some diplomatic initiatives.
T would refer now to the fallacy of turbulence in this part of the world. It is true that the world is turbulent and troubled in many parts. Honourable members opposite get upset about a few university students who throw tomatoes at somebody who, 20 years ago, bravely stood against the shells of the French in Syria and so on. 1 do not think that South East Asia is any more turbulent than other parts of the world. Is it any more turbulent than parts of Africa, South America or Europe? Are there any greater problems in that part of the world than the relationships between the Turks and the Greeks or the Russians and the Czechs? Are there any greater problems in South East Asia than the problems that may arise at any time inside Spain? Of course there are not. I do not know why the Government continues to refer to these matters in a way that causes the people outside this Parliament, who have little opportunity to read all that we in the Parliament read, to live in fear and trepidation about what will happen in the north.
What should Australia do? Firstly, Australia must assert its sovereignty. I am one of those who believe that it is an act of treachery to surrender sovereignty over our soil and the right to decide what happens on it. I said that 6 or 7 years ago and I say it again. I believe that if we are to associate with the United States we should associate as free and equal partners or not at all. That is my belief. As far as I am concerned as a free Australian that should be the position with every nation in the world no matter how big or small.
I regard as criminal the way in which our troops are being used in Vietnam at present. We all know that we cannot effect victory militarily; we all know that we cannot turn the military tide. But every day further casualty lists are issued. I pointed out earlier that there was one casualty today and three a few days ago. There have been nearly 50 casualties in the last 6 or 8 weeks. I would never have sent our troops to Vietnam. If it were my decision, I would bring them home. I would do so not because I have craven fears about anything else but because I believe that unless the people of Australia are prepared to pay the price of a small sacrifice and send everybody to Vietnam, including the young Liberal members of this House, it is an unfair and immoral act to send a few. Of course, nothing can be achieved militarily.
We could at least withdraw our troops to a beach somewhere and make a firm base. One of the lessons that we learned from the Second World War was that lives should not be wasted. It was a lesson that we had learned from the First World War, but we soon forgot it.
I believe that we can be powerful and persuasive in the field of diplomatic initiative. It is true that Australia is held in great respect by the rest of the world, particularly in South East Asia. We are held in great respect for many reasons. One is our security. A look at a map shows that we are in a completely different strategic position from almost every other country in the world. Australia is thousands of miles from its closest potential threat, if the Chinese are a threat, and I do not think that they are. I think there is a distance of 3,000 miles between the closest point of the Australian mainland and the closest point of the Chinese mainland. Australia is, in the opinion of most people in the world, secure beyond belief. Australia is a stable, prosperous and well organised country. It is well administered - not very well governed, but nevertheless, Australia is respected around the world.
I am quite confident from my relationships with people I have met during my trips around the world that we are well respected. I travelled with a delegation to Indonesia and the Philippines. It was led by the honourable member for Higinbotham, who was at that time a Minister in the Government. I must say that he seems to have a higher opinion of the Prime Minister than the Prime Minister has of him. From what I could see of it, I believe his ministry was efficient. He was certainly a good leader of a delegation. There is no doubt that we received much better treatment in the Philippines and Indonesia than anybody else who passed that way. There is no doubt that in this part of the world Australia could exercise a most effective diplomatic initiative. Australia could take the initiative and be a most effective diplomatic force in this area. But we will not realise this until we stop cringing. If we are afraid we should not tell anybody that we are afraid; we should do something about it. We should equip ourselves. I cannot imagine the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes) being afraid, although fear is the political philosophy he espouses. If honourable members opposite are afraid, they should do something about it.
At least in this part of the world Australia could be a most effective diplomatic force. We are the only nation which is relevant to the area. The Americans are not relevant to Asia; they are far across another ocean. The British are not relevant to this part of the world. The fact that they are going home will do no harm; the world will probably be much more secure. After all, it will be only their soldiers, sailors and airmen who will be going home. We should be working to gather the affinities we have, whatsoever they are. We have affinities with the former countries and the present countries of the Commonwealth. We have affinities with India that ought to be able to prosper. We have the possibility of trade affinities with Indonesia, which is our closest foreign neighbour. We have growing trade affinities and so on with Japan, which is basically a democratic and, I believe, a peace loving country. This is where we ought to be exercising the initiative. I have nothing but - I was about to say ‘contempt’ but perhaps that is too strong a word - for honourable members opposite while they continue to sow the Australian political scene with seeds of dismay, discord, doubt and fear and a cringing philosophy of no self-reliance. Until honourable members opposite get away from that, I can only regard the Commonwealth Government with its two satellites - the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party - as being completely un-Australian.
– The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) has a well deserved reputation in this House for remarkable volubility associated with an even more remarkable lack of substance in his speeches. 1 believe that his abilities in this direction could well be described in terser and somewhat more evocative terms. In the short time available to me I shall endeavour to make my own contribution to this debate, rather than to deal in detail with the ramblings of the honourable member for Wills, covering the statements of people from the time of John Pascoe Fawkner to the present day. However, I shall remind the honourable member of some of his statements in this place. I wish to refer firstly to his slighting and insulting reference to the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Roden Cutler, V.C. It was unworthy of any honourable member of this place.
In this sessional period the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has made two statements on matters which are vital to the future of this country. The first statement marked the end of an era and a complete reassessment of our future role in that part of South East Asia immediately to our north. Since the United Kingdom would no longer be the dominant power in the area, for the first time, several countries including Australia and the United Kingdom formed an alliance designed to provide stability to enable countries of the region to strengthen and develop their economics and to protect their people from internal subversion and external aggression. Although the significance obviously has escaped honourable members opposite, it represented an entirely new approach by Australia to its responsibilities in South East Asia and a clear indication to our neighbours that we realise our future is inevitably bound up with theirs, in respect of both economics and security. No economic advancement can be made without security.
This statement set the stage and introduced some of the players. The statement of the Prime Minister in February was, as I said in this chamber at the time, an historic one. Those people who refuse to acknowledge that fact have failed completely to realise the statement’s implications. It involved an association of Asian and European peoples forming themselves together for their mutual advantage and protection. But the principal actor had not appeared. No matter how much the smaller countries of the area are prepared to do for themselves if a major conflict or the threat of a major conflict develops in Asia, only the United States of America has the capacity to deal with it. We certainly hope that such a situation will never arise, but just sticking our heads in the sand and hoping that it will not happen is no substitute for a pol’icy which recognises that it could happen and takes steps to protect Australia’s interests and security. I submit that that is the essential difference between the policies of the Opposition and the Government. The policy of the Opposition was exemplified by a remarkable statement by the honourable member for Wills in this place on 4th March. He said:
What the world wants at this time is for all military forces to return home and stay home.
Of course we want that, but the fact remains that they will not return home. It is just as well for this country that the honourable member for Wills is in no position to determine our future defence policy. A most extreme view of Australia’s defence was put forward by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) when he said in the same debate:
I believe that this evening we are not debating a tremendously important matter. I do not believe that the defence statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) is a matter of great significance.
So much for that. It is already clear from the speeches of the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), the honourable member for Wills, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and the honourable member for Yarra that a considerable body of opinion in the Opposition believes that the correct defence policy for Australia is to draw a line around this country and to say: ‘Anything that happens outside this line is no concern of ours’. This policy was reiterated by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) on 27th February when he said:
Australia’s strategic frontiers should be established at its natural boundaries.
Such a policy just refuses to take account of realities. Things will happen outside our boundaries and they will concern Australia whether we like it or not. It is no good continually making statements that Australia is vitally interested in those Asian countries close to us and then declining to take practical steps to protect their development.
So the Prime Minister went to America to discuss with President Nixon and his new Administration the ANZUS pact, the proposed five power agreement in South East Asia and other topics. But the Prime Minister did not go empty handed. He went on behalf of a country which has given proof of its willingness and capacity to make a realistic contribution not only to its own future security but also to the security of its neighbours. Therefore the Prime Minister went in the knowledge that Australia had fulfilled the conditions which
Mr Nixon, as he then was, had indicated would be a prerequisite for those countries which expected or hoped for United States assistance in time of need. I ask: Could the same have been said had the policies advocated by the Oppositon been in force? Of course it could not.
– It would have been impossible.
– I agree with the honourable member for Barton that it would have been impossible. While the Opposition pays lip service to the American alliance it is not prepared to undertake the mutual responsibilities which such an alliance entails. This was made quite clear during the debate in this place recently on the space-defence station at Woomera. The results of the Prime Minister’s visit must have given him great satisfaction. Australia has good reason to be grateful for the success of his mission.
One of the most significant results of the Prime Minister’s visit, which I think has not been mentioned by any honourable member in the debate, is the arrangement made for direct communication between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister during the formative stages of policy and prior to announcements of major changes in policy. This is a tangible benefit which alone would have made the Prime Minister’s visit worthwhile. But of course, many more topics of importance were covered during this visit and I would like to deal with some of them in more detail now.
The first is the situation in Vietnam - the conditions under which a settlement could be reached and the future prospects for that war torn country. There seems general agreement that the type of settlement reached in Vietnam will exert a profound influence on the whole future of the Asian and Pacific area. But if the settlement reached gives the impression that these socalled wars of national liberation are likely to achieve their objectives it seems practically certain that similar tactics will be used in other countries of the area. If, on the other hand, the eventual settlement in Vietnam makes it clear that subversion and aggressive action will be resisted with persistent determination I consider that the whole of South East Asia stands a much greater chance of success in its efforts to raise the living standards of its people. On the question of free elections in Vietnam I was interested to get an independent opinion in Japan which considered that if, after a cease fire, free elections were held followed by the formation of a Government such a government would likely be non-Communist in character, but if a coalition government were formed followed by an election there, the opinion was that this would reduce the chance of survival for a democratic form of Government.
The proposals recently announced by President Nixon and referred to by the Prime Minister as having Australia’s complete support prove conclusively the genuine desire of America and all her allies for a just and lasting settlement of the war. But when such genuine proposals are rejected out of hand by North Vietnam one can conclude only that North Vietnam is not interested in a settlement but only in the subjugation of another small country. North Vietnam, of course, could not have carried on the war without the support it has received from Russia and China.
I should like to examine the motives behind those countries’ support of North Vietnam. In recent times there has been some justification for the belief that Russia was moving towards being a status quo power - that is, she was tending to support existing governments and if not actually to encourage stability, at any rate not to oppose it. Nevertheless, her actions in Czechoslovakia showed that she can still be completely ruthless if she feels that she can get away with it and if a Communist Government in the Russians’ sphere of influence is in any danger of losing control. We must never forget the lesson of Czechoslovakia. North Vietnam represents one of the few areas in Asia where Russian influence is still a dominant force in comparison with China because since the Moscow-Peking split world Communsim has not been a uniform force and no doubt Russia would be very loath to relinquish her grip on a country so close to China.
I believe that there is overwhelming evidence that China is totally opposed to stability and has as her firm policy the determination to support subversion and disruptive elements wherever and whenever possible. This evidence includes China’s unprovoked invasion of Tibet and India, her actions in supporting North Vietnam, the support for the attempted coup in. Indonesia and her supply of arms to Pakistan. This last example is an interesting one because obviously China did not supply equipment to Pakistan because she supported the Pakistan Government’s policy or because she expected or necessarily wanted Pakistan to attack and defeat India; she did it because it was merely one more way of encouraging the maintenance of a climate of unrest and violence and of preventing the development of any sort of stable situation.
This leads us to another very interesting conclusion - that China’s success in achieving her aims is not therefore, in her eyes, necessarily measured in military terms. Nor is the policy affected by setbacks such as in Indonesia. Everything points to the fact that China’s eyes are set far ahead - perhaps over 100 years ahead. It is this very long term nature of China’s policies which offers the best chance of defeating her plans for world domination through world revolution, since it gives countries time to take steps to counter them by strengthening the economy and by the development of a feeling of pride in their national identity. I listened with a great deal of interest to the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) speak about nationalism in Asia and I found that I had quite a measure of agreement with him. I believe that nationalism in the best sense is the enemy of ideological Communism since it weakens the concept of world revolution and in Asian countries can, I believe, blunt the sharp point of pure Communist philosophy. But it will take some time to develop these economies and to develop a sense of national identity, and time is what we are buying in Vietnam and what we are hoping to provide with the proposed five-power agreement.
We have had several examples of what can be done in Asia if countries are protected from the threat of subversion and aggression. Two of the fastest growing economies in the world are South Korea and Taiwan, and Singapore and Malaysia offer great promise for the future. But the present troubles in Malaysia highlight another of Asia’s problems, that is, what is known in India as the need for a secular state. I fear that in India particularly, and in some of the other newer Asian countries as well, there is a very real danger that these countries may lose their national identity and fragment into a collection of states based principally on a religious foundation. Therefore, there is a great emphasis on maintaining the secular state. This is not a state without religion; it is a state in which religion and religious prejudices are completely separated from the functions of government. This is almost a new concept for Asian countries, but unless it can be achieved old ingrained religious prejudices are liable to exert a very damaging influence on governments. I think also that in many Western countries there is insufficient appreciation that the need for wider international co-operation is also a new concept for most Asian countries. Therefore, any widening of regional alliances will take diplomatic patience, skill and understanding.
Australia is fortunate indeed to have neighbours who do understand the need for co-operation. With the backing given by the United States to the agreement, and under the ANZUS Pact, and most important of all with the backing of the people of Australia, we can look to the future with a great deal more confidence than if the Opposition were in power. This is the essential weakness of the Opposition’s defence policy. Opposition members are willing to accept the benefits of United States* protection and backing, but they are not prepared to assume a share of the responsibilities when requested to do so.
The Prime Minister must have been greatly reassured by the President’s declaration that the United States would maintain its interest and influence in Asia and the Pacific. When I was in the United States earlier this year a senior official of the United States State Department explained it to me in this way. He said that a change of American President did not alter the American people themselves or the world environment in which they lived. American military and economic interests were not confined or concentrated in any particular area, and while no doubt there would be a change of emphasis from time to time as circumstances required, it was not possible to focus attention completely on either hemisphere at the cost of the other. I am delighted that the Prime Minister has now had this: opinion confirmed at the highest level. To me, and I am certain the vast majority of Australians, this was welcome news indeed. For reasons best known to themselves, certain members of the Opposition do not seem to have welcomed this news. Later this year there will be an opportunity for the citizens of this country to express an opinion as to whether they wish to entrust the future of Australia to a government composed of such men or whether they consider a government advocating and preparing to support a continuation of the American alliance and acting also in association with the support and co-operation of our Asian neighbours is the correct government for Australia as we enter a new era in our history.
Debate (on motion by Mr Stewart) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Government ‘Business, Orders of the Day numbers 12 and 13, being called on.
Debate resumed from 20 May (vide page 1953), on motion by Mr Bowen:
That the Bill be now read a second time
– May I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure in this legislation. Before the debate is resumed on this Bill, I would like to suggest that it might suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill and the Judges Remuneration Bill as they are complementary measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, Mr Speaker, that you might permit the subject matter of the two Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-I shall allow that course to be followed.
– Both of these measures relate to the remuneration of judges. The Judiciary Bill proposes to increase the salary payable annually to the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia from $24,000 a year to $30,000 a year.
– Is that all?
– It is just a mere bagatelle. The Bill also proposes to increase the salaries of puisne judges from $21,000 to $27,000 a year. For good measure, we presume on a tax free basis, there will be allowances paid to the Chief Justice of $2,000 a year and to the other judges of $1,500 each a year. In the Judges Remuneration Bill, which is supplementary to the Judiciary Bill, there is a further proposition that the annual amounts to be paid to the judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, the Federal Court of Bankruptcy, the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, that presidential members of the Common- wealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission should also receive substantial increments.
– They have been doing such a good job lately, too.
– Precisely. The salary of the judges and deputy presidents will rise from $17,000 to $22,000 a year if the House approves the measure. In the cases of the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the President of the Commission the increase will be from $19,000 to $24,000. The Chief Judge and President are to receive an annua] allowance of $1,500, again presumably tax free. The other judges and deputy presidents are to receive an annual allowance of $1,000.
To put the matter bluntly, the Opposition strenuously opposes both measures. We consider that it is a piece of legislative impertinence for an Opposition springing from the ranks of the trade union movement to be asked at this time and in the current circumstances of industrial unrest to approve such measures. In opposing these measures we propose to examine the functions of certain of these judges and the jurisdictions in which they operate and to see what justification there is for the payment of these salaries in the light of those functions. Our opposition is not capricious. Let me remind the House that only a matter of a few weeks ago we opposed, on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill (No. 2), an increase in the number of judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court from six to seven. On that occasion the Opposition divided the House, and the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) and I issued warnings as to the consequences of industrial unrest then being engendered.
It is interesting to trace the increase in the number of judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. When the Court was first constituted in 1956 it was considered that the Chief Judge and two justices - a total of three - were adequate. By 1960 the number had been increased to four. By 1966 it had been increased to six. This year no fewer than seven are required. It is also interesting to refer to the comment made by the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) in relation to that Bill. He said:
The Government takes the view that the appointment of another two judges is desirable, in the interests of strengthening-
Mark that word - . . the Commonwealth Industrial Court itself and assisting with the work of the Territory Supreme Courts, which draw increasingly heavily on the pool of judges provided by the Commonwealth Industrial Court. This move is also intended to be in anticipation of the establishment of the Commonwealth Superior Court, which will require a larger number of Commonwealth judges than hold appointments at present.
It would be an action that would reward investigation to seek to know precisely how much of the time of these judges is taken up in their industrial jurisdiction and how much is devoted to their other duty, and whether in fact a rather elaborate facade is being maintained by the Government for the purpose of industrial unrest. If judges are required in the other jurisdictions, let judges be appointed to them and let them function in respect of those jurisdictions, and those jurisdictions only. Why should they be legally ambivalent? It is typical that a Government such as this in time of peace should subscribe not only to military but also to industrial conscription. Human labour is the only commodity which is controlled by the coercive decisions of the Commonwealth Industrial Court.
– What has this to do with salaries?
– It has everything to do with salaries. We challenge the existence of the Industrial Court. The honourable member for Moreton can refute that if he can. We consider that this measure is typical of the Government’s arrogance and indifference. It is a ham handed and authoritarian Government. There could be no more inauspicious time for the introduction of a measure such as this than in this week and in these circumstances. Need I remind honourable members that 2 days ago this Parliament was treated as though it was comprised of school children? We were not allowed to have a perfectly legitimate debate. The Opposition, which represents a very substantial percentage of the Australian people, has a right to express a point of view. The Opposition is overwhelmingly composed of trade unionists. How many trade unionists are there on the Government benches who could understand these issues, much less speak in the name of trade unionism? Let them stand up and be counted, if they want to do so.
I turn to the question of conciliation and arbitration. This is why we challenge the existence of the Commonwealth Industrial Court for the miserable subterfuge that it is. I want to quote from a case between the Waterside Workers Federation and K. W. Alexander Pty Ltd, which was decided by the High Court in 1918. I quote from the judgment of Justices Isaacs and Rich, who had this to say:
The power conferred by section 51 placitum (xxxv.) of the Constitution-
That is the power relating to conciliation and arbitration - like every other power is complete in itself. But like every other power granted it needs its own interpretation in order to find the nature and extent of the subject matter. Placitum (xxxv.) does not give power in general terms to the Parliament to legislate in respect of industrial disputes beyond the limits of one State. The power is limited to legislation-
-Order! I would remind the honourable member that the Bill deals with the remuneration of judges of the High Court. This does not allow for the canvassing of a constitutional matter placed before the Court, and it does not allow the whole ambit of the activities of the Industrial Court and the High Court to be covered. A passing reference to these matters, if it can be related to the reasons why increased remunerations are to be paid, would be in order.
– Representatives of the Australian workers come before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and they are questioned on their rights to an increase in wages or an improvement in conditions. In just the same way, judges of superior courts of record come before the Parliament, through such a measure as this, and they are to be judged on their merits and entitlements-
-I am trying to convey to the honourable member for Cunningham that his remarks must be related to the question of the necessity for increased remunerations.
– In this case it is a question of whether the Court ought to exist, and my arguments are directed to that end.
-Order! The honourable member would be distinctly out of order if he wished to canvass the constitutional question as to whether the Court should exist.
– I will accept your ruling and I will proceed.
– May I ask my friend what he would put in the Court’s place?
-Order! The honourable member for Moreton may not ask that question.
– The matter is quite simple. Conciliation and arbitration presupposes that there are two independent and completely free parties who, rather than resort to litigation and its complexities, costs and delays, choose an umpire to whom is referred for decision, by way of an award, the facts of the particular matter in dispute between them. In no case is the right to criminal sanctions conferred. The decision, if recorded in a proper court with proper jurisdiction, can be implemented by civil process only. The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), of all people in this House, well knows the distinction. Mr Speaker, we do suffer in Australia under the imperfections of a horse and buggy constitution. The founding fathers of the Constitution never contemplated that there would be vested in a court of this nature jurisdiction other than in cases where there would be national interests to be covered.
-Order! I think the honourable gentleman is completely ignoring the advice of the Chair. I have already informed him that he shall not deal with constitutional matters relating to the existence of the court. The Bill is related to judges’ salaries.
– Yes, Sir. On the question of the adequacy of their salaries, we have yet to hear from the Government a single word of explanation or justification.
-Order! The Chair is not concerned with what the honourable member has heard or has not heard. The Chair is concerned to see that the Standing Orders are complied with.
- Sir, I am entitled to quote from the second reading speech of the Attorney-General.
-I would agree with that proposition but the honourable member is still following the line relating to reasons for the existence of the court.
- Sir, I refer again to the second reading speech of the AttorneyGeneral. There was not one word of justification in it for the increase in salaries other than a comparison with judges ofsuperior courts in the States. As to the actual duties of these courts, there was not a word of justification. Therefore I am entitled to probe, to examine and to criticise the extent-
-Order! The honourable gentleman shall not canvass the ruling of the Chair. I have given him my advice. I have told him that what he says must be related to remuneration for judges. It must not be related to the Constitution or to the reasons for the courts’ existence. If he is referring to the Minister’s second reading speech he will be in order. In all cases what he says must be relevant to the salaries of judges.
- Sir, surely I am entitled to refer to Acts which are put into operation in those courts. I intend to refer, Sir, to one Act in particular which is implemented in the Supreme Court of the various Terri tories and these judges are included in the ambit of this measure. I refer the House to the Commonwealth Crimes Act, particularly section 30 J, and to the industrial upheavals which that section has caused and the universal execration of the trade union movement for that measure. It creates a statutory offence, a criminal offence, a statutory crime, and a penalty of 12 months imprisonment can be imposed. One of the worst features is this-
-Order! The Chair fails to see the relevance of this to the matter covered by the Bill that is before the House. I suggest to the honourable member that he confine his remarks to the Bill before the House.
– No, sir-
– Order! Did the honourable member say no?
– I am entitled to address the Chair.
-Order! Did the honourable member say no?
– I am not to be browbeaten.
– Nobody is trying to browbeat the honourable member. I am trying to assist the honourable member for Cunningham and I have asked him again and again to speak to the Bills before the House. If he does not speak to the Bills before the House - and this is the third occasion I have requested his co-operation in this regard - then I shall have to warn him again or take some action.
– In 19 years in Parliament I have never had occasion to dissent from the Chair.
– Well I want to tell the honourable member that at this stage he is at liberty to do so if he wishes, but I have not given a ruling at this stage.
– Well I will take your ruling on it, Sir.
– I have nothing to rule on at this stage. All I am doing is advising the honourable member, but he may have the opportunity shortly.
– Get back to the Bills and stop fighting.
– I will get back to the Bill. What is happening in this House tonight is typical of the methods of this Government.
-Order! If the honourable member is reflecting on the Chair he will be distinctly out of order.
– I am not, Sir. I am referring to the methods of this Government. It has created a situation by conferring an increase in remuneration on the judiciary as proposed by the Bill which will create industrial unrest of the worst possible type. We are here to plead a case on behalf of the people we represent. We do it with the utmost respect for the Chair. We do it with very great sincerity, and we do it with very great firmness too. Nothing could be more conducive to industrial turmoil at this stage - and I make this point with all sincerity - than to confer increases of this type on courts of this nature and under the circumstances of the current industrial trouble. We ask - my address is for this purpose and we do not act capriciously - that in the circumstances the Government should halt and take a look at itself and decide whether or not it should pursue its present course. To confer these increases is provocation of the worst possible type, and if the Government chooses to pursue these measures, as it obviously intends to do, let its blood be on its own head for it will have no-one else but itself to blame for the consequences.
– We have heard one of those sorry performances which have been typical in recent years in Parliamentary debate in this chamber. The Australian Labor Party, against the better inclinations of its Leader (Mr Whitlam) - and this is a matter of public property - has decided to oppose the Bill. This is a curious decision to make because if wage justice or salary justice means anything, the judges, whose salaries are dealt with by this Bill, deserve the increases which the Parliament, despite the puny effort of the Opposition, will give to them.
– Why will you give it to them?
– Ah, members opposite suddenly become interested in the real question. Fleetingly they suddenly become interested in the real question and I will give them the answer.
– An embryo judge.
– Well, I am glad that the death penalty is no longer in force. Members opposite asked why, and the answer is simply this: Since the judges of the courts which are mentioned in these concomitant Bills last received an increase in salary in 1965, average weekly earnings per male person employed, on an Australia wide basis, have increased by 25% .
– Who told you that?
– The vacant face of the honourable member for Port Adelaide stares at me and I say in reply: “The Commonwealth “Year Book” for 1968’. The honourable member should read it if he can.
-Order! The honourable member for Parkes will resume his seat. I remind honourable members in the left hand corner that far too many interjections are coming from them. I request them to restrain themselves.
– The interjections that so far have attended my attempts to make a constructive contribution to this debate are a fair indication of the complete vacuousness of the Opposition in relation to this measure. Honourable members opposite really have nothing to say except irrelevancies and, having nothing to say except irrelevancies, they take refuge in stupid interjections. Before I was interrupted I was about to say that in the 4 years since judicial salaries were last dealt with by this Parliament average weekly earnings per male person employed in this community, taken on an Australia-wide basis, have risen by 25%.
– Or $3 a week.
– That fact is testified to. I know that the interjectors on the other side do not like facts in any circumstances, but the fact that I have mentioned is testified to by the latest edition of the Commonwealth ‘Year Book’, and by other sound statistics which are available in the
Parliamentary Library. What do these cognate Bills propose to do? They propose, to take a fair example, to increase the salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia from $24,000 per annum to $30,000 per annum.
– $120 a week.
– An increase–
– Now we hear the little minds squeaking.
– And febrile too.
– As the honourable member for Moreton has said, they are febrile too. All I want to point out is that the proposed increase in the salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia is exactly 25%, which matches precisely the increase in the average weekly earnings in the community which has taken place in the years since 1965 when the previous Bill was introduced. What does the Opposition really have to say by way of opposition to this measure? Does it believe in wage justice or salary justice, call it what you will? If it does, if it is sincere, if the principle of wage justice or salary justice is something they believe in–
– Why not give the pensioners a rise?
– I will come to that in a moment. If the principle of wage justice or salary justice means anything to the Opposition, if it is not just a cant term, why does the principle not apply to judges as well as to everyone else who contributes something to the community?
– Has there been a work value case?
– You would not know what work value was.
– Order! The House is not taking a great deal of cognisance of my request to cease interjections. I make the request again and remind all honourable members that interjections are out of order.
– Let the Opposition face up to the facts of the case for a moment. St is of no use talking about pensions or the total wage or the basic wage in this context. The problem that this House has to face is whether it attaches importance to the ideal of remunerating judges to an extent which will enable them to live in dignity and consistently with the standards of other people in the community.
– In dignity?
– I know that dignity means nothing to the Opposition, I know that standards mean nothing to the Opposition and I know that true salary justice means nothing to the Opposition. Do we want judges in this community to be rewarded commensurately with the earnings of other people of skill and ability? If Opposition’ members reject that idea then by all means let them say so. I have not heard them say so. They have taken refuge, so far as this debate has proceeded, in a lot of irrelevant utterances which have nothing to do with the measure before the House. The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) has used the forms of the House, or more accurately abused the forms of the House in order to make a rather puny attack on the judiciary. This will serve the Opposition no useful purpose at all.
– A disgraceful performance.
– Well, it is one of their more disgraceful performances although we have witnessed many in recent weeks. But there is only one relevant standard against which to measure the increases proposed to be granted in judges’ salaries under these measures. That standard is the standard of average weekly earnings in the community at large, and measured by that standard this is an eminently fair pair of Bills and a pair of Bills which I have much pleasure in supporting.
– Rarely have we seen the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes) at a greater disadvantage. I am surprised to think that tonight on this important measure catering for this poor under-privileged section of the community, the High Court judges and others, he could only speak for 7 minutes in defence of the $6,000 rise that is to be given to them. I am interested in the contribution made by the honourable member for Parkes because as an eminent Queen’s Counsel - who, of course, has lost his fair share of cases, as one can well understand from his speech tonight - he would be interested in what the judges are getting in the High Court and other places for two reasons.
– Order! The honourable member for Newcastle is out of his seat and will cease interjecting.
– The honourable member for Parkes would have made his speech tonight for two reasons. One is that as an eminent Queen’s Counsel - and I stress that point - he may be appearing before the High Court in litigation on a future occasion and require favourable consideration from the judges.
– Order! The honourable member shall not impute motives.
– Not for a moment. If you interpret it that way, Mr Speaker, you are completely mistaken. The second reason why the honourable member might speak that way is because with the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) at the table he may well be a candidate for the position of Chief Justice on $30,000 per annum on some future occasion when he is rejected, as he undoubtedly will be by the electors who have sent him here for a temporary period.
-I suggest that the honourable member for Grayndler should get back to the Bill.
– I will now pass to the Bill and to the honourable member. He said that wages have gone up by 25% over the last few years. Let us accept those figures which are, of course, not accurate. But let us accept them. That means a worker’s wages have gone from $30 to $40 a week - $10 a week. This is an average worker. Of course, that is not a bad increase, one would say, for a fellow on $30 with two children and all the commitments associated with them, so the judges must keep pace with that man. It is only right that the Chief Justice should get a similar increase so he will go from $24,000 to $30,000- $6,000 per annum, while the poor struggling ordinary member of the High Court, not the Chief Justice, has gone from $21,000 to $27,000. Let us hope that that keeps the wolf from the door as the $10 keeps the wolf from the door of the poor average worker whose wages have gone up.
– How much did these blokes at the swearing in get?
– That is right. How much did they get at the swearing in? I will deal with that later. The honourable member for Parkes asked whether we believed in wage justice. I bet you would if you were getting $6,000 increase. Let us cast our minds back to yesterday when this measure was introduced to the Parliament. Workers all over this country were on strike against penal clauses because of injustices in the wage structure and the refusal of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and others to give them the increase to which they were entitled. With a display of arrogance rarely equalled in this Parliament we were denied the right to discuss that matter, although in the next breath a Bill was brought down to increase the wages of these poor, struggling judges to the extent of $6,000 per annum. What a scandalous and monstrous state of affairs, and any Labor Party worth its salt must oppose these increases on principle, in every sense of the word. The judges have to live in dignity; I think I could struggle along in great dignity on $30,000 a year. What about the worker on $40 a week? How about his sense of dignity? What a silly argument for a Queen’s Counsel to advance. No wonder the cost of litigation is high when we have to put up with high legal charges for that kind of advocacy. He could not win a case in the small debts court yet he is telling us that the workers should be satisfied with $10 when the judges receive $6,000?
Mr Speaker, you occupy an exalted and high position in this country, and I think you are worth more than any High Court judge. If one looks at the situation he sees how poorly paid you are despite the risk you run in your position. Who would not apply for the position of a High Court judge in this country? Let us look at the conditions for those qualified to accept it. The AttorneyGeneral said that we must pay higher salaries in order to attract the most able men and give them the inclination to accept positions on the Bench. First of all, the dream of everyone is to be appointed for life. There is no age limit on the High Court Bench, which would let in a few Liberals from here now and again. The salary is to be $27,000 to $30,000 per annum, plus generous expenses, tax free allowances, use of Commonwealth cars and travelling expenses. In addition to that there is a noncontributory pension scheme which gives a judge after retirement 50% of his salary. Then there arc generous vacations.
I suppose that the judges would not sit for 100 days a year, even if they worked overtime. Also, now and again he can look forward to a munificent government or Attorney-General giving him a salary increase of up to $6,000 per annum. In addition to that a judge is free from criticism; indeed, I dare hardly mention judges here, Mr Speaker, or you will reprimand me, as is your right. They are completely free from criticism and their social status is unlimited. The dignity of the position they occupy is well maintained at $30,000 per annum. Even the honourable member for Parkes could be dignified and occupy this position at that salary. One has only to examine the ages of justices of the High Court to realise that good health, long life and eternal youth evidently go hand in hand with an appointment to the High Court of this country; indeed, anyone who was at the swearing-in of the Governor-General here a while ago will understand that the position occupied by High Court judges not only gives a good monetary return but is a healthy occupation, for High Court justices look as though they live forever. In addition, when a judge goes along the line a bit a knighthood will come along. That has great standing in some positions. Or maybe some other position or honour comes from the Queen.
I should say that the nearest approach to heaven on earth in this country, having in mind salary and other monetary considerations as well as the health aspect, would be a position on the High Court of the Commonwealth of Australia. These arc the positions for which it is said there must be an increase In salary in order to attract judges. Let us look at the situation. Honourable members heard what I said a moment ago about what appointment to the High Court offers. Mr Attorney-General, has anybody ever knocked back the job when you have offered it to him? I would not deny that in this country every lawyer is cringing and crawling to be appointed to the High Court, because he knows what it is worth - not that in all cases the lawyer is any good; but the fact is that every lawyer wants the position, even at the present salary without the $6,000 increase.
Let us look at the situation as we see it today. What does the Bill do? It increases the salary of the Chief Justice, by $6,000- a minimum increase, I suppose, to allow him to struggle on and to maintain his position. He goes from $24,000 to $30,000 per annum - a mere 25% increase in order to keep up with the workers. It is a pity judges do not think that way when they grant the increases in wages that we apply for from time to time. The other justices are real paupers. Their salaries have increased from $21,000 to $27,000. They must have had a few extra accounts to pay because their rate of salary has gone up by 30%. Why should they get ahead of the workers? When all is said and done, this is not right. These justices are getting ahead of the workers. In order that they might keep the wolf from the door a tax free allowance of $2,000 has been granted to the Chief Justice and the other judges are to receive a $1,500 tax free allowance. When all is said and done that is a handy little plum to have on the side for an extra scotch and soda or all that goes with it.
They have had a very long wait for these increases. They have waited since 1965. It is dreadful to think that a man cannot rise from a salary rate of $24,000 to $30,000 without having to wait 5 years. It is a tremendous wait and strain. My sympathy goes out to these poor struggling judges who find it so difficult to be impartial and to give the decisions that judges in this position must give unless they get an increase of this amount. Of course they never ask for an increase. They are men who are prepared to put up with the difficulties and the struggles. This comes from living on $24,000 a year. They are not the kind of people who would ask for a rise in salary. I congratulate the AttorneyGeneral, on his sympathy for this struggling section of humanity, which has to make ends meet, to live with dignity and decorum and to keep up with the workers by getting an increase of 25%.
The Judges’ Remuneration Bill increases the salaries of the Commonwealth Industrial
Court judges, the Federal Court of Bankruptcy, the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and of the Northern Territory, the presidential members of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the judges and deputy presidents of various courts. Their salaries have gone from $17,000 to $22,000. When a Liberal Government decides to do something we must admit that it does it properly. Here it gives salary increase of $4,000, $5,000 or $6,000.
– If the means test were abolished, would they be eligible for the age pension?
– Yes. The salary of the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and of the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has gone from $19,000 to $24,000, with allowances ranging from $1,000 to $1,500. The overall increase to those judges is $5,000. The Attorney-General painted a pathetic picture. When he gave the reasons for those increases in salaries I was for a moment really moved. He said that the High Court of Australia is the most important court in the country. He said it was necessary to attract the most able and most learned lawyers in the country. He said that their salaries must be higher than the salaries of those whose judgments they review - that is, the State and other Commonwealth judges. There is a little prestige in this. He said it is only reasonable to review these salaries at 4 or 5 yearly intervals.
Then he gave a comparison of the salaries of judges of the Supreme Courts of the States, and he quoted the Chief Justice of New South Wales. There was a real tinge of envy in this. He said: ‘He struggles along on $21,275, with an allowance of $1,000 a year’. He said that the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court at this stage was only marginally above the Chief Justice of New South Wales. This margin is not a bad margin. Under these proposals the margin will be $8,725. I hope that margin will be applied to the workers everywhere because, as I said, it is not a bad margin. It is a reasonable percentage. He went on to say that the increased salaries for the other judges were granted for similar reasons. The whole basis of the argument is that there has to be prestige. The Federal judges have to be above those com mon State fellows. The High Court judges must have a higher rate of salary than other judges. What does it matter if the increase is fixed at $5,000, $6,000 or $7,000? The Federal judges must be above the State judges. Then he went on and said:
The proposed increases will remove the disparities 1 have mentioned in relation to both other Commonwealth salaries and State judicial salaries, . . .
That is a masterpiece of understatement. If someone were to give me an increase of $8,700 so as to be marginally above a State member of parliament I would be particularly happy. My only regret is that the Attorney-General is not fixing the Federal parliamentary salaries.
Of course, the reason advanced in all these matters is that Federal judges are appointed for life, lt is optional for them to retire or not to do so. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) said on one occasion, it would not be fair for them to be in a position where they could not afford to retire. I would hate to see them trying to live on $40 a week. He went on to say that we must have a salary and a pension that will induce them to retire at the appropriate time and that is when their capacity has declined. I will show honourable members how that has backfired. If we were to study the history of judges we would find that they just do not take the hint. They are now getting $6,000 per annum more than they did and, to use a cricket term, we will never get them out. The women of the world were said to have the oldest profession in the world, but old professions are not confined to women. When 1 state the ages of the High Court judges, Sir, you may think they have taken the title. Let us have a look at the ages of the High Court judges. Sir Garfield Barwick is 66 years of age. I have nothing against age but this legislation is designed to attract young, able vigorous men at the time of life when they can give to the country what we want. Sir Edward Aloysius McTiernan is a bit of a lad at 77 years of age, after 38 years on the High Court. He is a judge whom the job attracted and he will stick with it right tthrough to the end. Then we have Sir Frank Kitto - the nighthood came up very early for many of these men - who is 65. He is quite a youth in the show. Then we have Sir Alan Taylor who is 68 years of age, Sir Douglas Menzies who is 62, Sir William John Victor Windeyer who is 69, and Sir William Francis Lange Owen who is 70.
Then we come to the Commonwealth Industrial Court. Sir John Spicer is 70 years of age. Evidently the members of the High Court have drunk at the fountain of eternal youth; their average age is 68 years. Now they are getting an additional $6,000 a year. What an incentive to retire, to get right out of it. They will be there for ever. With due respect to the High Court judges in this vibrant young country, one of the gems of the world, one could not help but ponder whether we were doing the right thing by the judiciary as we saw them wander into another chamber in this place not long ago. One wondered whether the salary was the only thing that would attract young men or whether there should be a retiring age for High Court judges.
I say to the people that it is a monstrous thing to bring in a Bill to increase these salaries by $6,000 to attract the best people when at the same time our High Court judges collectively are probably the oldest group of people working anywhere in this country., I will not attempt to refer to all the others, but I can tell honourable members that they are not exactly youngsters.
The fact of the matter is, I believe, that far from attracting the best men, under the present system of appointment of High Court judges and with the extensive salary increases tha’ are granted, such as we have before us tonight, things are working in reverse. Far from pension schemes and salaries attracting and giving to people the incentive to retire at a given and a proper age, we find they are going on indefinitely. It is working in reverse to the detriment of this country.
I cast no reflection on the gentlemen concerned but the fact is that the whole system of appointment of High Court judges has been proved to work in reverse. Let us look at those appointed to the High Court. Sir George Rich was appointed on 5th April 1913 and held office until 5th May 1950 - 37 years. He did not retire until he was 87 years of age. I have nothing against age but how could such a man adjudicate on matters as ably as can the
Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) at his age? Sir Hayden Starke stuck around for quite a time. He was 79 years of age and spent 30 years on the bench. Sir Owen Dixon had 23 years and then we had Sir Isaac Isaacs with 24 years and Mr Justice Higgins with 23 years. The only thing I can say about them is that when they were on a good thing they stuck to it. In some respects they outlived the capacity that goes with youth and the time when they were at the height of their powers. To say that a man of 80 or 87 years could fulfill all the functions that the Minister has laid down in his second reading speech would be stretching one’s imagination a long, long way. Sir Edward McTiernan has been there for 38 years. The most recent appointment was Sir Garfield Barwick, who has had 4 years service. The rest of the justices have had service in the vicinity of 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 18 years, and so on. With the present system of appointments to the High Court, the huge and extravagant increases in salaries paid to judges, the method adopted in regard to pensions, and with no retiring age, the principle of giving to the High Court of Australia the prestige it should have in this country is being defeated.
How can you justify in the community an increase of $6,000 per annum for judges? Does the Government realise what this means to the people? The Chief Justice of the High Court today gets $30,000 per annum, which is $577 per week or $82 per day. Is any man in the country worth so much? If the Government is to say that these judges have to get this money to be above their counterparts in the States, this puts up the cost of hiring the honourable member for Parkes, because he wants extra money for appearing in the High Court against judges who are paid this much money. So the cost of litigation goes up, even for second rate lawyers.
-Order! I do not think the question of the salary of the honourable member for Parkes comes into the context of this Bin.
– I withdraw the statement. Let us have a look at the justices on $27,000 per annum. They receive $520 per week or $74 per day. Even if you are going bad it is not real poor money, and it is plus expenses and a car. Do not forget that $6,000 increase per annum equals $16 per day. It is more than a pensioner gets in a week. In addition to that, $5,000 equals $96 per week or $14 per day, and again it is more than pensioners get in a week. It is more than the average income in this country of $70.80 per week, and it is more than the average wage paid to workers of around about $40 per week. If you can pay these amounts to judges and others - and I do not say that it is a fair comparison - how can you go out into the community and justify to an age pensioner living alone, struggling to make ends meet on $14 a week, or an invalid pensioner, an increase of $6,000 per annum? This is not a salary, but an increase to men getting $24,000 a year.
How can you justify it to married pensioners getting $12.50 a week or $650 per annum when their last increase was a miserable 75c a week or 10c a day? How can you justify $6,000 per annum for judges who are now getting $24,000 and $30,000 to a widow with a dependent child on $14 a week? How do you justify morally or otherwise increases of $6,000 per annum for judges who are sitting in judgment in society? Let us not pull the wool over our own eyes. We have all been around. We could all live pretty well on $24,000 per annum. How do you tell a man who has been receiving $8.25 per week since 1962 in unemployment and sickness benefits that you cannot increase this benefit in 7 years but you can put the judges’ salaries up by $6,000 or $5,000 per annum. Honourable members opposite may justify it. I will be quite sincere in this. I just cannot justify it for the simple reason that there is no excuse whatsoever for increases of this kind when people in want and need are receiving the very minimum, and the best the Government will give them in the next Budget will probably be round about $1 a week, if the Government goes that far.
That is why tonight in this Parliament the Opposition opposes this measure. We believe that it is opposed to all principles of social justice and all that we believe in so far as the welfare of the community is concerned. We have to take into consideration not only the psychological effect but the practical effect on the community. What does a worker think when he goes before these judges in these courts seeking a few extra dollars or a few extra cents a week and his claim is rejected? The judge who is telling him that he cannot get his increase has just had a $6,000 per annum increase. The worker would not be human if he did not say: ‘What a rotten system this is’. Therefore to bring this in at a time when the Government, as it says, is endeavouring to keep costs and wages down, and when these judges are sitting in adjudication on the workers seeking wage increases, is something that the Australian Labor Party could not support and something which I believe no fair minded person in the community could support.
I defy any honourable member opposite to tell any Australian that today people cannot live on $24,000 per annum. Does the Attorney-General know that when he promotes the salary of the Chief Justice to $30,000 per annum he places the Chief Justice in that select gathering of 2,000 people out of 5 million taxpayers who get more than $30,000 per annum? When in this country were judges meant to be a special elite in society - above all the needs, requirements and the common denominator of the cost of living? Does the Government realise that each High Court judge and every arbitration court judge is amongst the 5,000 out of 5 million taxpayers who get between $20,000 and $30,000 per annum? Does the Government realise that it is creating an elite in society which will lose contact with the ordinary man on whose problems it has to adjudicate? The Government should have thought more carefully about introducing this measure because if the Government continues on this line it will destroy completely the confidence of the people in the judiciary of this country, which is something which we privilege, and will destroy completely at the level of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission those things in which the workers believe - the fairness and impartiality of the courts and of the judges. The average man will say: ‘How can he tell what I want to live on when he is on $24,000 or $30,000 per annum?’
With due respect to members of the judiciary, I do not think they are worth any more than the people who run governments or anything else. A reasonable and a good salary to keep them free from graft, corruption or anything of that kind is justified, but no person in the community - be he Liberal or Labor - can justify the tremendous increases that have been made on this occasion. I think I was justified in what I said a few moments ago. That is why tonight, with other members of the Opposition, I say that judges of the High Court - I do not take it from them - are well protected by pension and superannuation schemes. Their integrity is protected because they are appointed for life, and that appointment cannot be interfered with. Incentives have been given to them to retire at a given age on pensions which are such as will allow them to live with dignity and with security in their later years. I believe that the present system not only removes the desire to take advantage of the incentives that were provided so that the right type of person would continue to be appointed to these positions but that far from men retiring from the High Court and other courts at the right time they continue. Would the Attorney-General retire if he suddenly got a $6,000 rise and could continue without any pressure being brought to bear on him to retire at any stage?
If the Government does not want to destroy the belief of the workers and others in the integrity of courts, if it does not want them to believe that they will get justice, if it does not want them to think that today there is a failure in the arbitration system, that injustices are occurring and that the courts are loaded against them, I suggest it should not give substantial increases such as these. Nothing will do more to destroy belief in the integrity, impartiality and justice of the courts than men on huge salaries adjudicating the claims of men who are getting $30 or $40 a week. If the Government wants those on social services and others to believe that it is being just, how does it expect them to live on $14 to $16 a week when out of the hat it produces $6,000 increases for a section of the society which already gets $20,000 to $24,000 per annum? As a Labor man I am opposed to the increases. I think the people are opposed to them. I am sorry that the Government has not had second thoughts about the increases because, to my mind, in this day and age nothing can justify the increases that have been given to a section of the community that is being treated very well and is enjoying privileged circumstances - certainly brought about by their ability - but whose responsibilities do not warrant such increases.
– 1 shall not be very long. The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) has delivered to the Parliament such an excellent case for our opposition to these outrageous increases in salaries that there is very little left for me to say. However, at a time like this we ought to know to whom we are paying so much of the taxpayers’ money. We have no right in a Parliament of this kind to vote large sums of money willy-nilly to anonymous people unless we examine in detail and with great care the qualifications of those people. Are we paying them enough in giving them an increase of $6,000 per annum? Perhaps we ought to pay them even more. Perhaps we are paying them too much. This is an important thing for us to examine. In a Parliament of this kind representing as we do some 12 million people, a great many of whom are taxpayers, we have no right to vote away the money of those people unless we carefully and with great skill have a look at the people to whom the money is going. As I have already said, perhaps we should give them more than $6,000. Perhaps we should give them less.
I have not time to go through all of the gentlemen who are to benefit from these increases. But I have time to look at one section of the judiciary. I refer to the members of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. I do this for the reason that I can think of no more ill-timed Bill than a Bill to increase t the salaries of these judges by $6,000 per annum at a time when one of their victims was in gaol for failing to answer a question. It seemed to me to be pretty bad political tactics to say the least. Therefore, I felt prompted to have a look at the salaries, the capabilities and the qualifications of the section of the judiciary which was responsible for the incarceration of O’Shea and the consequent upheaval that swept over Australia causing millions and millions of dollars in wages to be lost and tens of millions of dollars to be lost in production. One has to look at those responsible for this terrible loss in production. We must see to what extent they were responsible for this situation before we start increasing their salaries. Perhaps, if we found that they were culpable, we ought to decrease their salaries or bring them to the Bar of the House, have them examined and ultimately have a substantive motion passed by both Houses of the Parliament to dismiss them. This may even be something that we will have to do one day.
- Mr Speaker, this is very relevant. We are the highest court in the land.
-Order! I would just remind the honourable member - 1 think he well knows it - that any reference of an unsavoury nature to the judiciary or any criticism of their actions would be out of order.
– Of course it would. What I was saying was that the Parliament is the supreme court of the land. It is above the High Court. The members of the High Court cannot sack us, but we can sack them.
– That is right.
– Yes, we can. Under the Constitution, we have the right to direct any one of these judges to appear before the House and to have him examined. We have the right to pass a motion in this Parliament to sack any judge if we feel that he ought to be sacked.
-Order! As I reminded an earlier speaker, that in dealing with this Bill we are not debating constitutional matters in relation to judges. We are debating now the remunerations being paid to judges of the Industrial Court and of other courts, not a constitutional matter.
– You might have a point there, Mr Speaker. I come back to the question of the judges of the Industrial Court. The Chief Justice is the Honourable Sir John Armstrong Spicer, a man of the utmost integrity, a man whose honour and impartiality no-one possibly could cast any doubt upon. I served with him in this Parliament. I can say only that I found him to be a man of great integrity.
-Order! I again warn the honourable member for Port Adelaide who is trying to interject. I have warned the honourable member already on more than one occasion. I am sure that the honourable member for Hindmarsh does not need his assistance. 1 warn the honourable member for Port Adelaide that if he persists in interjecting continually I will deal with him.
– I skip one name and I come to the Hon. Mr Justice Percy Ernest Joske. A finer man one could never meet. He is an honourable, upright and completely impartial gentleman with whom I have the great honour of being on first name terms, although I do not call him by his first name now that he is a judge. He is a man for whom I have the greatest admiration and affection. The next judge 1 come to is Mr Justice Eggleston. I think that he is one of the most astute and skilful advocates ever to appear in the High Court and the Commonwealth Industrial Court. He is a man of great integrity and complete impartiality. The next one is Mr Justice Smithers, a man whom I have tremendous admiration. I will never forget reading his 90-page judgment in the case of Cameron versus Dougherty and Others. I must say that it was a superb judgment of applied logic. He was able to uncover motives which none but a most discerning judge could have seen.
-Order! Whilst the honourable member’s remarks may be very interesting I think they are outside the ambit of the Bill. I suggest that the honourable member keep within the ambit of the Bill.
– Su rely I am entitled, Mr Speaker, to examine the qualifications of these people. As I said earlier, Parliament has no right to approve increases until it is satisfied that they are justified. The public will not approve of any action by the Parliament to prevent its elected representatives conducting a thorough investigation and inquiry into the qualifications of the people to whom these increases will be granted. The taxpayers will be paying for these increases.
-Order! I remind the honourable member that the case of Cameron versus Dougherty and Others is outside the ambit of the Bill.
– I have already said enough to indicate that I have a high regard for Mr Justice Smithers.
On 29th November each year we celebrate what is known as ‘Smithers Day’. I turn now to Mr Justice Kerr. Like the other gentlemen I have mentioned, Mr Justice Kerr is a man of very great erudition, honour, integrity and impartiality. The next one is Mr Justice Sweeney, who was recently appointed to the Bench. Similarly he is a man of great impartiality and integrity. The last one is Mr Justice Nimmo, who according to my Queen’s Counsel friends, is also a man of similar qualification.
It is odd that whenever increases in the salaries of judges are proposed and there are any Queen’s Counsel about - it does not seem to matter which Party they belong to, either - they always seem to see great merit in the increases. I think that the honourable member for Grayndler hit the nail on the head when he said that they are either expecting to appear before the judges at some future date or to be sitting on the Bench themselves. He is probably right. I have a look at the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes). The more I look at him the more I think he looks like a judge. If only his sidelevers were white he could almost pass as one now. I think that the honourable member for Grayndler dealt with him so adequately that there is no need for me to say any more.
I have left ony one judge - Mr Justice Dunphy - out of my list. I think we should see what ‘Who’s Who’ has to say about him. Everybody who has an entry in ‘Who’s Who’ makes his own entry in his own words; it is not what somebody else thinks about them. So we will have a look at what Mr Justice Dunphy has to say about himself. I think that should be a fairly good guide as to what we should do in regard to his salary. I have looked at the entries in Who’s Who’ for all of the Queen’s Counsel in Australia and all of the judges, and I can find only one judge or Queen’s Counsel who has described himself, on the autobiographical slip supplied by him to the publishers of ‘Who’s Who’, as Mr Justice Dunphy has described himself.
Who’s Who’ states that he has been a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court since 1956, of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court from 1949 to 1956, and of the Commonwealth Court of the Australian Capital Territory since 1958.
He has had experience in the Northern Territory, at Christmas Island and at Cocos Island. He must be a man of outstanding qualifications. He has had experience at Nauru. But now I come to something to which he alone of all the entries in the 1962 edition of ‘Who’s Who’ is able to lay claim. It is stated that he was admitted to the Bar as a barrister and solicitor in 1932. He was then 25 years of age. It seems he was not a particularly bright legal student because that is a bit late in life to be admitted to the Bar. Then it is said that he was made a King’s Counsel in 1944, and then follows his own notation, ‘then believed to be the youngest King’s Counsel in Australia’1 This amazing sense of vacuity no doubt calls for an extraordinary increase in salary.
– What about Dr Evatt?
– I am asked about Dr Evatt. I have taken the trouble to look this up. I have found that although Mr Justice Dunphy was 37 when he became a King’s Counsel, and according to his own entry in ‘Who’s Who’ was ‘then the youngest King’s Counsel in Australia’, Dr Evatt was a judge of the High Court when he was 36 years of age. It appears that this point must have escaped the notice of Mr Justice Dunphy until somebody must have said to him: ‘Turn it up. You are a judge now. You should not boast about the time when you came to be a King’s Counsel.’ The vain entry was omitted from the 1965 edition of Who’s Who’ and, of course, does not appear in the 1968 edition.
– Has he the right to do that?
– Yes. If you feel that an entry is a bit hot, you can take it out if you want to. Mr Justice Dunphy is not doing too badly. Under the proposal before us - I do not know whether anybody has worked it out - he will be on a salary of $442 a week.
– Dudley Erwin is not worth that much.
– The honourable member has made an excellent point. It is the point that I was just about to make. In addition, Mr Justice Dunphy receives travelling expenses of $25.20 a day whenever he leaves his home in Melbourne to go to Sydney, or perhaps to Perth, to hear a section 109 application against some poor unfortunate union secretary. He also gets a Commonwealth car for his use whenever he wants it. He has a tipstaff and an associate. But the best is to come. He gets a long vacation of 4 to 6 weeks every year and he gets a short vacation every year of from 3 to 4 weeks, at$442 a week. After 10 years he gets long service leave, not of the order of 3 months, as does everyone else in the Commonwealth Public Service, but just a cool 12 months long service leave, called sabbatical leave. 1 hope that Mr Justice Dunphy is not on sabbatical leave if I am ever charged with murder or anything else, because I might miss him. I turn now to the attempt to equate the salaries of State and Commonwealth judges. I am satisfied that State and Commonwealth judges are taking all State and Federal politicians for a ride.
– Order! The honourable member shall not reflect upon the judiciary.
– This is a reflection on the politicians for being so silly.
– I appreciate the honourable member’s point but I am endeavouring to interpret Standing Orders and I do so in that manner.I remind the honourable member that he shall not reflect upon the judiciary.
– Very well, Mr Speaker. I see your point. I came into this Parliament a good many years ago. Shortly after 1 arrived here I looked across to the other side and saw a gentleman seated in the strangers gallery who looked to me very much like an unfrocked monk. He had a moustache. He had a very severe cold callous and almost cruel expression. I thought that if ever I was to see a copy of the Grand Inquisitor, this was he.
– Order! I would remind the honourable member that he is getting well outside the Bill.
– I asked my friend, Mr Eddie Ward, sitting beside me to identify this person and I was told that it was Mr Justice Dunphy.
– Order! I have already warned the honourable member. He well knows that he cannot impute improper motives to the judiciary or cast reflections on it. If he persists in this manner I will have to deal with him.
– I do not think anybody can help his appearance; I cannot help mine. I believe that Mr Justice Dunphy has other great qualities that so far I have not mentioned. Those qualities may be summed up in one sentence: He would make an excellent Democratic Labor Party senator.
Friday, 23 May 1969
– in reply - Honourable members opposite having travelled the whole globe of irrelevance in their speeches and I do not propose to deal with the particular matters that have been raised. I commend the Bill to the House.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 22
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
– In the course of the second reading debate devastating addresses were made by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) and the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), but in reply we heard not one word of defence from the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) or from any other Government supporter. Does silence give consent, or is the truth as stated by the spokesmen for the Opposition unanswerable? We are entitled to know something of the value that we are getting for our money. In the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission the principle of work value is of prime importance. In the light of the criticism that was offered I would have expected to hear from the Attorney-General. He will have the opportunity during the Committee stage to give us some details of the work that is actually performed. He will have an opportunity to give the Committee details of the number of cases dealt with, the actual proportion of time that is allocated to the respective jurisdictions, and the time that is taken by judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court in particular to deal with purely industrial matters and how much relates to their other duties when they are seconded to the Supreme Courts of the Territories.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Is it the pleasure of the Committee to discuss both Bills together at the Committee stage?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - f shall allow that course to be followed.
– We would like to hear from the Attorney-General what is the normal period of delay in dealing with applications for an alteration of awards. Can he tell us the principles that operate? What is the backlog of cases at present? What would be the average period of delay?
At the same time, we would like to hear with what celerity applications under sections 109 and 111 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act are dealt with. We would like to hear the Attorney-General’s justification of the disparity in the times taken. We would like to hear something from him as to the costs of particular proceedings. Also, we would like to hear something as to the nature of the fines and how he justifies, for example, fines for breaches of sections 109 and 111. Can the Minister justify a maximum penalty of $1,000 on a trade union and no more than $400 on an employer?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I point out to the honourable member that the Bill before the Committee relates to salaries.
– It does, and salaries relate to duties.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - I ask the honourable member to relate his remarks to the content of the Bill, which relates to salaries.
– I am very definitely doing this. When a worker goes before the Arbitration Commission the value of the work performed by him is put under scrutiny. We wish to scrutinise the value of the work performed by our employees - the judges in the various jurisdictions. We would like to see what value we are getting for the money paid, lt is up to the AttorneyGeneral to give these answers, if he can.
– Having practised in the courts of Australia for over a quarter of a century, I have formed some view of the quality of the work done by our courts. I have formed views on the way in which they work and how hard they work. I have had experience in the Supreme Court, the High Court and some experience in Her Majesty’s Privy Council. I would say that the High Court of Australia quite properly has the reputation of being not only one of the hardest working courts but also one of the best courts in the English speaking world. I have listened to some criticism tonight, some of which has not been made directly. Certain speakers felt that the Standing Orders required them not to be offensive to members of the judiciary. Although they paid a kind of lip service to the Standing Orders, there was a smart attempt, indirectly, to cast aspersions in one way or another, or to imply some kind of aspersion, on the judges.
The other judges covered by these Bills are the judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, the judge of the Federal Court of Bankruptcy, the judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and the judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. My personal experience in those courts would extend less deeply. But I have had occasion to observe the work of these courts, and again I would say that this nation is served there by men who are hard working and devoted to the proper performance of their duties to the best of their abilities. I again reject the type of criticism which has not been made directly but is somehow insinuated or implied. in some of the speeches we have heard tonight. I commend the clauses of these Bills to the Committee.
– Apart from matters of levity or the particular references made by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) to the speeches of my colleagues, I ask him this question very frankly: How does he justify the absence of a retiring age for members of the High Court bench, having in mind that there are statutory retiring ages for their counterparts in the supreme courts of the various States of Australia? Does he consider that there is any reasonable limit that should fairly be imposed? Does he consider that a man over the age of 80 years, with all due respect to that man, is sufficiently in possession of his faculties to be able to give a considered and adequate interpretation of the facts in a particular case which might be of vital national importance?
– The reason for the absence of an age limit on the High Court judges and judges exercising the Federal judicial power flows from the terms of our Constitution, which makes no provision for imposing a retiring age. That does not apply in the States. They can - and in many instances do - provide for a retiring age. Our founding fathers so drew our Constitution that it is not open to us, even should we wish to do so, to impose a retiring age.
– We had better have a referendum.
– Previous referendums have not proved very easy to have carried - even if one thought a referendum was desirable on this subject. The question has been raised as to whether I think a man over 80 years of age would be capable of being a good judge. In any one generation only a very few men are produced in Australia who are capable of occupying a position on the High Court of Australia. By and large, the men who reach that position have to have a toughness of constitution that is exceptional in order to succeed in their profession to such an extent that they are appointed to this office. That is so not only in Australia, of course, but also in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. There appears to be a certain longevity in this instance. If I were asked whether Mr Justice Rich, after he passed the age of 80 years, was capable of judging competently, I would answer with an unhesitating affirmative. He had a peculiarly acute mind even when he was in his early 80s. .
– Did you say ‘a peculiar mind”?
-I said that he had an acute mind even after he was 80 years of age. But people vary enormously in their capabilities. The minds of some people may be particularly acute up to 70 years and then deteriorate quickly. One would not find such a man sitting competently on a bench after he was 80 years of age. A general rule cannot possibly be applied to these cases. However, we are just not in a position to control this, because of the terms of our Constitution.
– There is just one question that I wish to ask the Attorney-General. Apart from Sir Edward Morgan, does the
Attorney-General know of any judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court who has accepted the retiring allowance? Could he make inquiries to ascertain what percentage of the total salary would the Commonwealth have to pay to get Mr Justice Dunphy to retire?
– Mr Deputy Chairman, that last remark is an offensive remark as applied to a member of the judiciary.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- 1 ask the honourable member for Hindmarsh to withdraw the remark.
– It was a question.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - I think that the imputation is clearly offensive, and I ask the honourable member for Hindmarsh to withdraw the remark.
– You should ask the Clerk of the House, Mr Turner, about it before you give a ruling.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I ask the honourable member for Hindmarsh to withdraw the remark.
– I am certainly not going to be thrown out over that gentleman. I withdraw it.
– I have already spoken on two occasions. I commend the clauses of the Bill to the Committee.
– I have listened to this debate very carefully and I have heard the figure of $30,000 mentioned on a few occasions. This is a large amount of money. I want to ask the Attorney-General one question. Is it a fact that the Government takes back more than half of this amount of $30,000 in taxation?
– The answer to the question asked by the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) is that the Government would take back more than half of the amount in taxation.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bowen) - by leave - read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 20 May (vide page 1954), on motion by Mr Bowen:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bowen) read a third time.
Motion (byMr Erwin) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr DEVINE (East Sydney [12.30 a.m.] - Mr Speaker, I know the hour is late but I want to raise a matter in the debate on the adjournment because yesterday, the day on which there is normally a grievance debate, we could not raise grievances because of pressure of business. Therefore I decided to raise the matter tonight. If the honourable members who sit on my left want to go and milk their cows they have my permission to do so.
I want to raise a matter which is important to an ex-serviceman. This man has a disability which has been accepted as war caused by the Repatriation Department. As a result of that disability he was hospitalised and an operation was performed on his heart. He was off work from 16th January 1968 to 31st May 1968, on the advice of the specialist who performed the operation. After his discharge from hospital he came under the jurisdiction of his local repatriation medical officer. That doctor advised him that in his opinion he was not fit enough to attend work and gave him a certificate to that effect for the period from 1st June 1968 to 8th August 1968. He applied for sustenance from the Repatriation Department and the application was rejected. According to the Department, it was rejected because of a report by a specialist that the period he should have been off work expired at 31st May. Unfortunately nobody told the returned serviceman and nobody told his local medical officer. As a result he has been off work for the period of time I mentioned and, because of the decision of the Repatriation Department, has received no sustenance.
I think that is a gross miscarriage of justice. The same situation could face any ex-serviceman in Australia. If a man was advised by his doctor that he was unfit for work, particularly if he had had a serious heart operation, it would be quite natural for him to remain off work because of the fear that he could kill himself. Because this man obeyed his doctor he is now denied remuneration by the Repatriation Department. An injustice has been done to this man. I raised this matter because there may be many other ex-servicemen in the community who could be treated in the same way, simply through obeying their doctor.
I made representations to the Repatriation Department on behalf of this man in the hope that the authorities would reconsider the matter. They considered it all right, but refused to pay him sustenance for the period he was off work. Of course, being a Labor member of Parliament, I refused to accept a decision made by the Deputy Commissioner of Repatriation for New South Wales and made representations to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar). There is no doubt that I wasted my time again. I might just as well have made representations to one of the statues in Kings Hall for all the justice I received from our Minister for Repatriation. I complained to the Minister along the lines I have stated. I said that I believed that in this case there had been a miscarriage of justice. This man was entitled to sustenance from the Repatriation Department. The Department was only penny pinching when it did not give him sustenance for that period of time. This man, as I said, had been ordered by his own doctor not to go to work.
I ask honourable members to put themselves in the same position as this man was in. They also would have refused to go to work. Of course he did not know the decision that had been made by the specialist, nor did the doctor who attended him. The poor old ex-serviceman, because of the blunders of the doctors concerned, has been made to suffer financial loss and has not received justice from the Repatriation Department. I referred to the reply I received from the Minister for Repatriation to my representations. He wrote:
I would explain that a sustenance allowance is paid where an ex-serviceman is prevented from following his usual occupation through the necescities of treatment of a war-caused disability as distinct from the disability itself.
One of the judges whom we were discussing earlier tonight would be needed to interpret that statement. The letter continued, in referring to this case:
The determining authorities decided, after carefully considering all the medical evidence including opinions expressed by his local medical officer and a specialist, that the necessities of treatment did not prevent him following his occupation during the period from 1st June to 8th August 1968.
The authorities say that they looked at the evidence which was supplied by both the doctors, but the unfortunate part is that the ex-serviceman did not know about this and he acted on the advice he received from the doctors. The letter continued:
You have asked me to review the decisions in this case. However, I would mention that a feature of the repatriation legislation is that it guarantees the independence of the various determining authorities. This provision is designed for the protection of the rights of the ex-servicemen and their dependants under the Act . . .
I want to know what rights this exserviceman got from the Repatriation Department under the Repatriation Act. He got none. The letter went on: - and I, as Minister, have no power to intervene…..
He went on to say that the case had received careful consideration. I wrote to the Minister, and he had the hide to send me a written reply saying that he had no power to determine an appeal on behalf of an exserviceman. What a lot of rot for a Minister to try to tell a member of the Parliament that he has no power. We all know of decisions that have been made in favour of people who, as far as I know, had no warcaused disability. We know of one case where a person was killed while driving a motor car on the wrong side of the road and his wife received a war widow’s pension. I am not opposed to her getting it, but her husband was killed as a result of a car accident. Yet in this instance the Minister had the hide - the audacity - to write to a member of Parliament saying that he, the Minister, has no jurisdiction.
This is a lot of hooey, because many members of Parliament make representations to the Minister and many of them get some justice from the Minister. But when it suits him he writes and tells members that he has no jurisdiction. I refuse to accept this from the Minister. It is no good his trying to pull the wool over my eyes. I do not think he even looked into the matter. Probably all he did was to ring his officers who gave him some information and his attitude was: They have made a decision and as far as I am concerned that is it’. 1 do not think he went into the full details of the case. Had he done so he would have realised that this ex-serviceman relied on a doctor and took that doctor’s advice that he could not work and for taking that advice justice has been denied him by the Repatriation Department.
If this is the sort of altitude that the Government adopts in its treatment of exservicemen no wonder the students of this country are demonstrating about going to fight in Vietnam, particularly if they are not going to get justice when they return to Australia. Good luck to them, I say, if they want to get up and protest, because if this is the sort of treatment they can expect from the Repatriation Department and this Government, they are entitled to demonstrate against going to Vietnam to fight for a Minister and for officers of the Repatriation Department who sit on their posteriors making decisions that affect ex-servicemen.
– I want to bring to the attention of the House tonight one very important aspect of the Government’s present nabilitation programme for Aboriginals. I think the House is well and truly aware that we have in the first and current Minister-in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) a very enthusiastic Minister who has put together a department which is’ doing a really good job. It is getting support for the research it is doing into the present situation of Aboriginals as well as into their past history. This is unprecedented in Australia.
I welcome the kind of moves that have been made towards solving problems and providing prospects for advancement.
Groups and individuals who put up propositions that have some chance of gain are receiving assistance from the Department. I very much welcomed the announcement in October last about the Aboriginal copper project at Yuendumu. An interest free loan was made to enable an Aboriginal co-operative to be established there for the purpose of erecting a treatment plant for copper ore which the Aboriginals were mining in the district. Even more welcome was the announcement by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in November last year in relation to study grants for Aboriginals. Under the scheme which became operative at the begining of this academic year a number of allowances are paid. There is a living allowance of up to $1,100 a year for a single holder of a study grant while a married holder receives an additional allowance. In addition, all compulsory fees are paid, a book and equipment allowance is paid and if there is any special or individual difficulty the Minister may provide, at his discretion, an additional allowance.
In April this year the Australian Council for Aboriginal Affairs met in the Parliament House and reviewed progress during 1968- 69. lt was apparent at the meeting that particular emphasis had been placed on developments in housing, education and health, and Ministers welcomed the evidence of increasing emphasis on employment and vocational training. I want to make a particular point relating to employment. Although its application is Australiawide, I know its effect on Aboriginals living on the south coast of New South Wales where groups of people, like the Bega Valley Aboriginals Advancement Association, are finding that the biggest hurdle they have to get over is obtaining permanent employment for Aboriginals. Many Aboriginal families there are able to get seasonal employment but they experience very great difficulties in getting permanent employment. Members of the Association, and I believe others who are familiar with the problem throughout Australia, feel that a lot of this difficulty could be overcome if they were able to obtain a subsidy, which probably would be payable to the employer, to cover a period equivalent to an apprenticeship. I strongly suggest that the Government with its current habituation programme for Aboriginals could well look at this aspect from the same point of view as that from which rehabilitation programmes are applied to returned servicemen, invalid pensioners and others.
I believe that a direct scale of subsidies should be worked out to make it even attractive to employers to employ relatively unskilled Aboriginals for periods up to 5 years during which time, of course, the subsidy could be under review. But the subsidy should be for substantial periods so that the employees would be able to learn sufficient skills to stay at that job with that particular firm, or with another, in full and open competition with Australians of European descent. I believe that this could be one of the greatest single pieces of help that could be provided for Aboriginals throughout Australia, and I believe that there is quite ample evidence that the Australian Council for Aboriginal Affairs is moving in this direction. I only suggest that the sooner it gets there the better. It would not only provide some future and dignity for the Aboriginals concerned but would do the same for their families. They would be earning a living and making their own way, the only difference being that their employer would be subsidised for the slight handicaps that may be involved in employing them. They would be able to take their place in the community and there would not be any noticeable difference to them as the subsidy was retracted. It would not have any direct effect on them.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that particularly along the coast of New South Wales, but also throughout Australia, there are plenty of Aboriginals who are well and truly capable of responding to this kind of habilitation operation. We have seen already where, in some cases, they were receiving lower rates of pay but employers have now been compelled under awards to pay the rates applying to everyone else in their particular job or profession and this has militated against their holding jobs. This kind of addition to the Government’s present programme for the habilitation of Aboriginals would put them right back in the position of being able to hold those jobs and also of taking up jobs which require training which they did not already have.
I commend this suggestion to the House, the Government and the Minister and I hope that he will be able to move on it before a situation arises such as has arisen in some parts of the Northern Territory and which could arise in the Bega district where because of the combined uncertainty on the part of the employers and the employees about seasonal work some of the seasonal production is starting to change its pattern or retreat. The people who are dependent on it are in some danger of losing this work without any real opportunity to replace it with permanent work unless the kind of subsidy I now suggest is introduced as quickly as possible.
– In making a brief reply to the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro) who expressed, I believe, sincere concern, at the plight of certain Aboriginals in his electorate on the far south coast at the difficulty of their obtaining permanent employment, I suggest that the ideal way in which to show a proper example of the Parliament’s concern for the Aboriginals, particularly as we are attacked from time to time in the forums of the world about our discrimination of them, is to offer three or four jobs in Parliament House as drink waiters, cleaners and similarly suitable positions. I believe that in this way we would be showing to the world that we are not discriminating in any way whatsoever. We would be giving them jobs in this Parliament
– Why not appoint them to the Industrial Court?
– That is so. I believe that the honourable member for Eden-Monaro might give consideration to my suggestion and recommend to the Government of which he is a member that several Aboriginals be employed here, to be trained as drink waiters, cleaners or in other suitable positions. When they go back to the respective areas where they live they might then be able to obtain full employment in some hotel, cafe or club. They could be given 3 or 4 months temporary employment here, being trained as drink waiters and cleaners. They would be working here in the heart of the nation - in the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. This is the place to start giving them employment and training them.
– Why not give them endorsement for a blue-ribbon Liberal Party seat?
– That is so. The honourable member for Hindmarsh suggests they might jeopardise the seats of some Liberal members, because some of them might seek endorsement, to contest Liberal Party seats, for the Labor Party and have members of the Liberal Party removed from the House. My main purpose in rising is to mention something that has caused me some concern and is causing thinking people in Australia some concern - and has been for some time.
– If it is thinking people, that would not worry the honourable member.
– The honourable member for Parkes would not worry about it because I am doubtful, after hearing his contribution to the debate tonight, whether he has anything to worry with. I direct my remarks to the upsurge in the illegal use of narcotic drugs in Australia. My information comes from a reliable source, and I wish to point out that, despite the efforts of the Government and the respective police authorities in the Commonwealth, this dreadful, cancerous growth in the use of narcotics is still on the increase. The Government must intensify its campaign to curb this growing and grievous social evil. I wish to refer to the remarks of a fine type of Australian who, after he retired from years of devout public service, did not reach the degree of prominence so far as publicity is concerned that one would expect. I refer to Mr Arthur Debenham, S.M., who wrote the book ‘All Manner of People’. Mr Speaker, with your knowledge of the city of Sydney, you may have had the pleasure of meetingMr Debenham, who sat on the magistrates bench at Redfern for many years. I mean, you might have met him socially.
– Order!I was just going to make that personal explanation.
– After Mr Debenham retired he wrote these words on page 113 of the book to which I have referred:
Bad though things were in my final years on the Bench, they are far worse now. Where, in my time, adolescents experimented with liquor for kicks’, now they have turned to drugs, as is borne out by almost any newspaper every day. We read daily of an increasing incidence of drug addiction in mere children, linked with the phrase ‘instant sex’. Most narcotic addicts in the adolescent age group are ‘hooked’ because of curiosity, and sentence themselves to a slow death.
An addict will work to get the money for drugs, but not for anything else, and the longer the addiction, the less likelihood of continuing employment. The only way then to get money for the drugs is by criminal methods, and the simplest way is by selling drugs and getting other youngsters involved, and so a chain reaction continues.
This should be of deep concern to every decent member of this House. All should speak up and appeal to the Government to do everything in its power to reduce this cancerous growth to a minimum, and have it stamped out. My information, which is from a very reliable source, is that there is now a regular flow of Australians, and others who have come out here, going to areas, particularly the Pakistan region, where they obtain quite easily narcotics which they post to Australia. My information also is that there is not the rigid control that there ought to be in the examination of parcels posted to Australia from the Pakistan region It has been ascertained and proved in recent times that narcotics are coming through the post from other countries.
I would like to see the Government or the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) intensify efforts to curb this racket, which is ruining the lives of young Australians every day. 1 believe that the Minister is concerned about the problem, but he should be more vigourous in his efforts in endeavouring to eradicate it, because not only does drug taking ruin the lives of our young adolescents, it also causes considerable mental anguish to the parents of children who become addicted. I believe that there is very little or no chance at all of many of these drug addicts being reformed despite the imposition of terms of imprisonment of 12 months, 18 months or 2 years. The statistics show that these people come out of the gaols and resume their previous drug addiction.
Another matter that has been brought to my attention relates to the Department of Immigration, and again this information is from a most reliable source. Known and convicted drug addicts in other lands, particularly Britain, are being allowed to enter Australia. I have the name of one person from Britain who was a registered drug addict in the mother country. He was allowed to migrate and to settle in Australia and he resumed the evil practice of drug taking. He caused others to become addicted, for the reasons set out in the passage I have just read from the book written by Mr Debenham. It is a reflection on the Department of Immigration that a person with a record of drug addiction has entered Australia, apparently without sufficient screening. I know of another case, that of an American drug addict who came to Australia. He had a record of drug addiction in the United States. He has contaminated certain other people here, and due to his pushing of drugs he appeared in court. He was released on a bond and he then went to Queensland and commenced to grow marihuana. An Australian who wants to migrate to Canada or Britain has to go through a police check-up. His fingerprints are taken and checked at the fingerprint section of the New South Wales Police Department in Sydney. A careful scrutiny is also made of his character before he is allowed to migrate. Apparently this is not the case overseas with people who want to migrate to Australia. I urge the Government to take stricter measures than it is already taking. The drug squad at the Criminal Investigation Branch of the New South Wales Police Department in Sydney has increased its staff from 4 to 15, which includes 1 woman, during the last 3 years. In NSW there were 500 arrests for drug addiction last year, 90% of which were in the metropolitan areas. The number of arrests for drug addiction this year has already surpassed that for last year.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I think that all honourable members will agree with what the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) said in regard to drug addiction. This menace should be wiped out Everything possible should be done to bring about its eradication. I believe that the Government is active in trying to eradicate the problem of drug addiction, and I think that, as the honourable member said, these efforts could be intensified.
The honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine) commenced his speech very well and I thought that I was in full agreement with him because any ex-serviceman, especially an ex-serviceman in this House, who thinks that another ex-serviceman is not getting justice from the Repatriation Department or elsewhere will get up and fight for him. I think that is the right thing to do and I compliment the honourable member for East Sydney for doing it tonight. I thought as he went on that perhaps he spoilt a good case. He attacked the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar). I suppose in the years that I have been in this House I have made at least as many representations on behalf of ex-servicemen as anybody else has. Therefore I can speak with some knowledge.
– What party does he come from?
– The Minister for Repatriation is a member of the Australian Country Party. I have complimented the honourable member for East Sydney. If he wishes to mix that sort of thing into the debate he may do so but I shall not join him. The honourable member told us that the Minister had said he had no power to grant a pension to this man. In the time I have been a member here I have brought very many representations forward to the Minister for Repatriation. When I came here first it was a Labor Minister; then we had a Liberal Minister for Repatriation and now we have a Country Party Minister. I have never known a Minister for Repatriation to grant repatriation benefits. The honourable member said that he could tell us about a certain man who was killed in a motor accident and his widow was given a widows pension. Let us analyse that. We should not take that statement for granted. First of all the man killed in the motor accident must have been an ex-serviceman. That is the first fact; we establish that for a start.
It is likely - I do not know whether it is probable, but it could be - that the accident was caused because the man had a war disability. I know men who have been injured in the war and who drive motor cars. They cannot be prohibited from driving. But if the accident is brought about by some war disability, is not the widow entitled to a widow’s pension? That is what the honourable member for East Sydney is objecting to. That is why at the very start I agreed with him but I thought he went too far altogether. After all, he did not know the circumstances of the case; he just heard about it. It is very probable that what I am saying is correct because the Repatriation Department would look very carefully into this case, as it does with every case. I speak highly of the treatment that I have received when I have made representations on behalf of ex-servicemen in the Mallee. Mr Stephens, who is the Deputy Commissioner in Victoria, and all the staff have given me the greatest co-operation and hundreds of men throughout the electorate are now getting pensions, not as a result of my representations but because they were entitled to them under the Repatriation Act. Honourable members should not forget that most of the employees in the Repatriation Department are ex-servicemen and there is a bond between ex-servicemen that one does not find elsewhere.
I take the opportunity to say a little more about repatriation. We are coming to the time when the next Budget will be prepared and I am hopeful - and I advocate - that the Government should give a reasonable rise in the general rate of pension, with emphasis, of course, on the pension for totally and permanently incapacitated exservicemen. In this House over the years I have always advocated that the TPI pensioner is the one who must get the most consideration. He does not earn any money anywhere else. I want to emphasise the case of the TPI pensioner’s wife because to a large extent she has been overlooked in the past. Now is the opportunity to do something about it. She should get a rise in her pension. In some cases TPI pensioners can move about like anyone else, but in other cases they are bed ridden, and of course the wife of such a pensioner gets a special pension. But the pension for the general TPI pensioner’s wife is inadequate in the circumstances and should be increased.
The wives of all ex-service pensioners should be given a reasonable rise in their pensions. I do not know how long it is since they have had an increase but, so far as I can recollect and from what I have read, it is a long time. Therefore there should be some increase in the pension. Generally speaking I am very satisfied with the Repatriation Department and the work it is doing. The department should be giving to ex-servicemen, as I believe it is - I would be speaking against it if I thought it was not - all that they deserve, and what they deserve is the best that Australia can provide.
– This morning I want to take the opportunity to discuss reductions in the funds provided by the Australian Meat Research Council for research into the beef industry. One cannot accept that a full and complete range of research has been carried out into the beef industry which is a great export income earner for this country. We have a responsibility to invest as much as we can in research to improve productivity in the beef industry so that our return on the export market will be greater and so that the quality of meat to be sold will be enhanced. It is quite incomprehensible that the Government should allow a reduction in the beef research activities carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation as a result of a curtailment of funds provided by the Australian Meat Research Council. It may well be that the Council finds itself in the position where it just has to curtail funds. The Council’s funds come from a per head levy on beef slaughtered at abattoirs throughout Australia. I do not know from my own knowledge but I am informed that the reason for the curtailment of funds” this year is that the Council had overspent in some previous years and an effort is now being made to balance the books in a fairly rational sort of way.
I want to give some indication of how this curtailment is affecting the CSIRO and the beef research programme. I suggest that the Federal Government, in view of the importance of the beef research programme, should step in and provide the cash that will plug up the deficiency which has been caused by this curtailment of funds from the Council and so that the beef research programme may continue without diminution. I am informed that about 12 months ago there was some cut-back in the funds. But in the current year the cutback will be fairly substantial. In Queensland, which of course is the greatest beef raising State in the Commonwealth, the effect will be felt. At the Cunningham Laboratory at St Lucia 10 people out of 13 engaged on beef research work will have to be reallocated to other jobs or will have to leave the employment of the CSIRO. In the tropical pastures section three projects will be affected, and this will involve a reshuffling of eight people. All of these people will be shuffled out of beef research. The laboratories at Cannon Hill, Long Pocket and possibly Rockhampton are likely to be adversely affected in their beef research programmes as a result of the curtailment of these funds. The result will be that the whole of the biological sciences which have been supported by the Council funds will be quite seriously affected.
I have suggested that the Government should plug the gap caused by this deficiency of funds from the Council by providing an allocation from the Treasury. One can only interpret the Government’s failure so to do as evidence that it does not really take seriously the beef research programme. If the Government does not plug the gap it will lose skilled research workers and technical assistants from the CSIRO. The Government may argue that merely a reshuffle of jobs is involved - that some research workers and technical assistants will go to employment in other areas. If the areas are distant ones, say in the north west of Western Australia, some will resign. I know of some cases where the people concerned will not go on transfer. They think that, apart from any inconvenience, they will lose a substantial capital asset that they have due to loss in the value of their houses, which loss will not be made up by the Government. They will be forced to sell their homes in most cases. Some think they will be involved in disruption of the education of their children. They feel this will be to their great disadvantage. On the other hand, they will not make this decision lightly.
I make this point now to indicate just how seriously these people regard this matter. In leaving their employment, if they have less than IS years service, which a number do not have, they will lose their entitlement to long service leave and their entitlement to the Government’s contribution to their superannuation. Notwithstanding that, these people think that rather than be inconvenienced to the point of being subjected to transfers to fairly distant places they will leave the service of the CSIRO. In the first place it is bad enough that because of the curtailment of funds these people will be pushed out of this very important field of beef research, but the seriousness of the situation is compounded much more if these people are so distraught at this treatment that they leave the service of the CSIRO. I suggest that the relevant Minister give consideration to my submission that this area of beef research is altogether too important for it not to continue.
Beef research is of tremendous importance to this country’s economy. It would be terribly disappointing if I conclude my speech tonight and find there is no support coming from Country Party members who maintain a tradition on the stump but not a tradition that they practice in this House. They are supposed to be here to defend the interests of the country’s primary producers.
– We do that. We are specialists.
– I am talking about beef, not bull. One only has to study the attitude of Country Party members towards tariffs to see the way in which they have sold out the interests of primary producers - honourable members are silent all of a sudden - by supporting all kinds of extravagant claims for tariffs. The Leader of the Country Party, the Minister for Trade and Industy (Mr McEwen) is responsible for the absolutely inchoate pattern of tariffs which have been established. These tariffs disadvantage primary producers because they add to the cost of so many implements, so many items and so much machinery which primary producers need. The last issue of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics quarterly clearly showed that primary producers are being crushed by the cost price squeeze. Most of this squeeze is coming out of the cost of various commodities which they have to use for production. I ask members of the Country Party to read this article. They are probably not aware that the Bureau of Agricultural Economics produces this quarterly, but I can assure them it is a most valuable report. If they read the report they will find that the kind of thing about which I am talking now is a very serious and critical problem for primary producers.
It is not good enough for Country Party members to tour their electorates, to speak with empty bombast and in declamatory style about how they will look after the interests of the farmers, then come into this
House and support legislation which disadvantages primary producers. We have never heard any Country Party member speak in support of the case which has been put repeatedly and competently by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) on behalf of sugar growers. Not one member of the Country Party has risen and voted in support of the honourable member for Dawson. When these matters have been put forward by the honourable member for Dawson and a vote has been taken not one member of the Country Party has been prepared to cross the floor and support the honourable member. This applies also to the fight he has put up for the Australian wheat farmers. He has fought also for the dairying industry. The problems in this industry have been created, compounded and aggravated because of the indifference of Country Party members who perform with bombast in their electorates but who are noticeable in this House because of their silence when it comes to defending the interests of farmers.
I have presented a case tonight. Let Country Party members rise to their feet and support the case that I have put. Let the Federal Government block the gap caused by this deficiency in funds from the Australian Meat Research Committee by providing a cash grant so that the CSIRO may continue a full scale beef research programme which otherwise will be curtailed seriously.
– I wish to support the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). I was waiting for one of the Australian Country Party members to rise. Members of the Country Party are very vociferous by way of interjection. But it is a different thing when it comes to rising and defending primary industry research. As you can see, Mr Speaker, both members of the Country Party who are present in the House at this time have remained seated. The honourable member for Oxley has raised a serious problem. He has stated that the funds disbursed by the Australian Meat Research Committee are such that it is necessary to dismiss or transfer to other positions some very skilled workers in the field of cattle and beef research. Surely this is a very serious problem. After all, it is recognised that the beef industry, perhaps of all primary industries, has the rosiest long term future.
I was an original member of the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Council, as it was then called. I was with it when it started. When sheep meats were introduced, it became the Australian Meat Research Committee. When this body commenced, I would say that it was quite efficient in the allocation of funds to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the departments responsible for agriculture, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the universities. The whole purpose of this research organisation was to allocate funds to accelerate meat research. A special grant was made to the CSIRO to carry out research into meat at the Cannon Hill research laboratory
Because of a ceiling for the amount of levy collected plus the Commonwealth allocation, it is obvious that great care must be taken with the payments that are made and the natural increase in costs because of inflation. Regard must be had also to all the different problems that arise in trying to formulate a research budget. What has happened is that the committee, in its enthusiasm to accelerate the rate of research into cattle, beef and sheep meat in Australia, has overspent in the allocation of funds for skilled research people. The honourable member for Oxley has suggested that if in the interim period there is an overspending of funds the Federal Government could come in with a special ancillary grant from the Treasury to meet the deficiency.
– He said all this.
– The honourable member may have his way if he wishes. His knowledge of beef would be confined to what he has eaten.
-Order! The honourable member for Barton is out of his place. He is also out of order in continually interjecting. I suggest that he refrain.
– We think that he is out of his mind.
-Order! The honourable member will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw that remark on your instruction, Mr Speaker.
– It is a pity the Liberal Party of Australia does not take these matters seriously. Of course, we are all aware of its views on primary industry. But what always puzzles me in this House is the docile nature of the Australian Country Party. Supporters of the Liberal Party continually interject, but supporters of the Country Party sit in their seats and say nothing The honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) has not spoken on the adjournment. He should understand the seriousness of the matter raised by the honourable member for Oxley. Skilled scientists, men trained in the field of research who, because of a genuine mistake - and that is all it is - by the Australian Meat Research Committee in the allocation of funds are being taken off this important work. One cannot blame the Department of the Treasury, the Government or the Australian Meat Research Committee because the legislation is clear on this aspect, but surely a little imagination could have been used on the part of the Government to enable these skilled scientists and technologists to remain working in this field It is only a matter of time before there will be an increase in the total revenues received from the beef research fund to enable this deficiency to be made up.
The honourable member for Oxley has put forward a constructive thought tonight. The beef industry is one of the most impor tant export earning industries and it has good potential. The honourable member for Oxley said that people were transferred from the Cunningham Laboratory. I was not aware of that. If there is one field of research in Australia which should prove to be most lucrative it is the field of tropical research. Of particular importance is the work which is being pioneered by Dr Griffith Davies, Dr Hutton, Mr Eadie, Mr Ritson and others skilled in the field of Townsville lucerne and the extra cattle carrying capacity of tropical pastures. We all know that with superphosphate and phosphatic fertilisers - and we are now coming into the field of nitrogen - the tropical pastures will yield a most lucrative increase for those engaged in the beef industry. I fully support the remarks of the honourable member for Oxley. More serious consideration must be given to and more imagination used in connection with this activity. It is also unfortunate that a mistake was made. But persons skilled in a particular field should not be taken away from it. This is particularly so with the field of scientific research into tropical pastures.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1.24 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What quarantine developments have taken place in connection with the importation of new varieties of apples, pears, citrus, stone fruit, strawberries and vine fruits since his answer to me on 21st October 1966 (Hansard, page 2085)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The following quarantine developments have taken place since 21st October 1966 in connection with the import of new varieties of apples, pears, citrus, stone fruits, strawberries and vine fruits.
A pear variety was imported in 1958 and destroyed because of virus infection. No further imports of pear varieties were made until this year. One variety is being established at the Waite Institute, South Australia, for quarantine screening and three varieties, indexed free of virus, have been recently introduced from New Zealand.
The situation with apples is that the testing of the imported apple varieties for virus, in addition to the standard 2-year observation for freedom from fireblight disease, has revealed that a large proportion of the imported varieties are infected with virus. Since October 1966, twenty-six commercial varieties have been introduced. These include six virus tested varieties from New Zealand and Canada which may be released when quarantine is satisfied after 2 years observation that no fireblight risk is involved.
Since October 1966 only one apple variety, Splendour or Seedling 77, which is a much favoured seedling selection from New Zealand, has been released. The variety Idared will be released to the Stale Departments of Agriculture during the coming dormant season.
At present there are twenty-two commercial varieties held in quarantine but not released because they are infected with virus.
As more virus tested material becomes available from acceptable virus tested sources overseas it is anticipated that imports from these sources will be increased. However, with apples and pears it is still necessary to observe any imported variety under quarantine for at least two growing seasons because all likely sources of new varieties are in countries where fireblight occurs.
In respect of the other fruits nineteen varieties of peaches have been introduced through quarantine during the past 2 years. More than 100 grape varieties have been approved for importation mostly into the State of Victoria. No imports of citrus varieties have been made other than seed and only eight varieties of strawberries have been handled under quarantine.
My Department has a responsibility to ensure that diseased varieties are not knowingly introduced and released. If virus is present in the original introduction it will be distributed right across Australia by normal nursery stock practices.
Recently the Standing Committee for Agriculture approved the formation of the Commonwealth and State Horticultural Committee. The inaugural meeting was held last November and another meeting took place in January. The principal responsibilities of this committee are to rationalise the importation of new varieties of fruit and arrange for the maximum utilisation of the quarantine screening facilities available throughout Australia. A real problem, which the committee recognises, is the shortage of qualified plant virologists to undertake screening of imported varieties.
Every endeavour will be continued by my Department to assist as far as possible the introduction of new fruit varieties consistent with maintaining the necessary quarantine precautions.
ns asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Ministers agreed to give the labelling proposals detailed consideration with a view to proposing a uniform approach at their next meeting. They agreed that it was important that there should be a uniform approach in each State since the responsibility for labelling is a State matter, and also agreed to work towards such a position.
Concerning the advertising of cigarettes, the 1968 Conference of Health Ministers agreed to await the detailed final report on smoking attitudes to indicate what would be the most valuable means of dissuading people from smoking and convincing young people that they should not commence. Pending receipt of this report,” the Government feels that publicity regarding smoking hazards, directed particularly towards young people, is to be preferred to the imposition of a ban over the advertising of tobacco and cigarettes.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The authors suggested the introduction of a programme involving mandatory reporting by physicians of suspected maltreatment cases to a central agency for investigation. It was considered essential that physicians and hospitals reporting such cases be given immunity from legal suit.
The programme also called for a professional integrated team to be constituted in each centre to deal with case problems, the team to be empowered to take measures as necessary to remove from parental care those children who are considered to be at risk. Concerning wider recognition of the syndrome throughout Australia, the authors of the article suggested that medical students be made aware of the syndrome and that nursery and health centre sisters be taught to recognise danger signals at an early stage in stress situations.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What steps are (a) taken and (b) planned to warn the community of health dangers connected with the use of tobacco products and the consumption of alcohol?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Health education in the various States is a matter which comes within the responsibility of the respective State Governments. I have previously stated that the Commonwealth would be willing to co-operate with the States in uniform health education programmes. Commonwealth participation in these circumstances would be in respect of the internal Territories of the Commonwealth.
Darwin Harbour: Report on Development (Question No. 1368)
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Questions upon Notice (Question No. 1398)
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
When may an answer be expected to Questions Nos 1133 and 1135 which I placed on notice on 26th February 1969?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Question No. 1133 was answered on 13th May (‘Hansard’ page 1736) and Question No. 1135 was answered on 14th May (‘Hansard’ page 1819.)
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
Mx Hulme - The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The cost to applicants can also vary in accordance with the number of applicants concerned. For example, il there were two applicants located at the same distance from the exchange as the single applicant mentioned above, but along a different roadway, each of the two applicants would be allocated 96 units and the Department would provide construction to the extent of the combined allocation. Thus, the private section of the two applicants would be shorter and less costly than for the single applicant. Whilst this might appear to be anomalous to the latter, it will be appreciated that, so far as the Departmental sections of the lines are concerned, the same amount of money has been spent for each subscriber.
As 1 announced, in the House of Representatives on 28th November last, the Government has decided to assist country subscribers who are called upon to provide portion of their lines by providing funds for this purpose - on the basis that subscribers repay the amount involved. Under this scheme, interest is payable by the subscriber at the long term bond rate current at the time funds are approved for the work. Repayments of the principal may be made in instalments when the amount is over $100. Minimum instalments will be $100 a year in addition to interest of the balance outstanding and the maximum period over which repayments may be spread will be 10 years.
Importantly, subscribers wilt be relieved of the responsibility of carrying out maintenance on lines provided to Departmental specifications under the new conditions, subject to their bearing the cost of the main items of replacement material.
The type and consequently the cost of telephone cable for new connections, is dependent upon technical requirements for transmission limits for the area concerned. Generally, however, two pair plastic sheathed cable with a copper conductor weight of 4 lb per mile is used in metropolitan areas and cable with a conductor weight of 20 lb per mile is used in rural areas, again depending upon transmission requirements. The approximate costs of these types of cable, at ruling price, are $0.88, and $2.42 per chain, respectively. Costs ot installation are not included in these figures. 3. (a) No.
ns asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Yes. I received a number of letters asking that Commonwealth funds be provided for research into multiple sclerosis. 2 and 3. Investigations are currently being undertaken to collect information on all medical research being carried out in Australia. This total information is not yet available but the following are the two major medical research projects related to multiple sclerosis which are supported by Commonwealth funds through the National Health and Medical Research Council.
This work is aimed at discovering how the body reacts to infection by ‘slow’ viruses (reoviruses), and particularly whether such infection causes chronic disease including multiple sclerosis and cancer. The head of the research unit. Professor Stanley, reports that ‘as a result of Dr Alpers intensive work in this Held, the way has now been opened up for a new attack on diseases like multiple sclerosis, which almost certainly results from a virus infection of childhood, and other diseases of the central nervous system which have defied the attack made on them by medical science’.
Professor Stanley’s group has been receiving a continuing Commonwealth grant for this work since 1963; the grant for 1969 was $32,398.
The Institute is similarly receiving a continuing grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council the amount of which for 1969 was $280,650. This grant is for cancer research and experimental immunology and an important part of this work is the study of autoimmune disease and the role of autoimmunity in the causation of a number of diseases, including multiple sclerosis.
With any research work the essential ingredients for success are a worthwhile, scientifically based project and a research worker with the interest, ability and facilities to carry out the work; and I have no doubt that the National Health and Medical Research Council which distributes the grants will continue to give sympathetic consideration to applications, which are so based, for research into multiple sclerosis.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
What would be the estimated cost of each proposal in the case for improved repatriation benefits presented by the Commonwealth Council of the Totally and Permanently Disabled Soldiers’ Association of Australia to honourable members on 17th April?
– The Minister for Repatriation has provided the following answerto the honourable member’s question:
Based on pensions in force at 31st March 1969, the estimated annual cost of each proposal would be:
Notes: (1) The figure of $6,800,000 in Point1A above includes an estimated $189,000 arising from an increase in the Intermediate Rate pension which is adjusted automatically with increases in the Special Rate or General Rate pensions. It does not take account, however, of any consequential increase in sustenance allowance payable in prescribed circumstances at varying rates to members receiving medical treatment.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Sailors of all branches are posted to sea billets and for shore service in strict roster orderto provide as near as possible, equal sea and shore service for all sailors of a particular rank and category, i.e., the first sailor posted ashore is the first to be posted for sea service.
Planning of the sailor establishment provides thefollowing ratios for sea and shore service:
These ratios of service can only be maintained when the total number of sailors allowed for a branch or category is borne. In the Marine Engineering Branch continued shortages in numbers borne have produced a level of sea service in excess of that planned and desired. At the present time this ranges from 2 years sea time11/2 years shore time in the best case to 34 yearssea 1 year shore in the worst.
The Naval Board is very conscious of the unsatisfactory situation existing in this important branch of the RAN. However, it is of paramount importance that ships are manned at the required level of skill and experience.
Shortages of Artificers are expected to reduce as more sailors from the Royal Australian Navy Apprentice Training Establishment, HMAS Nirimba, complete their shore training and are posted to the Fleet.
Shortages of Engineering Mechanics will not be reduced easily. These shortages are largely affected by re-engagement rates of sailors initially entered for 9-12 years. Every effort is being made to encourage sailors to re-engage and thereby improve seashore rosters, but this is difficult in a general community situation of shortage of skilled men.
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:
If the honourable member’s question arises from a particular case, or class of case, of which he is aware, 1 would be pleased to inquire further for him if he gives me the details.
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:
er asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Passports for Rhodesian Residents:
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Passports for Rhodesian Residents:
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
Does Lieutenant-Colonel William M. Knox, who was born in Melbourne and served in the Australian forces and who is now Rhodesia’s diplomatic representative in Portugal, hold an Australian passport? If so, when was it issued to him?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Lieutenant-Colonel Knox, who is an Australian citizen, was issued with an Australian passport on 6th December 1967.
Australian Capital Territory Leases:
aser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
What annual amounts have been received by the Commonwealth by way of transfer fees on leases transferred or assigned in the Australian Capital Territory within each of the past5 completed financial years?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
er asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
What amounts has the Commonwealth received in each of the past 5 completed financial years in respect of (a) fines and costs imposed by courts of various jurisdiction in the Australian Capital Territory and (b) summary fines imposed on motorists and paid by them without court action for alleged breaches of traffic and parking laws or regulations in the Territory?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
On-the-spot’ fines introduced in September 1964. Separate figures not kept until 1966-67.
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
On this basis the first stage of the study concluded that when adult income units were examined, one person in eighteen appeared to be in poverty - when income units headed by a juvenile were included the figure was one in fifteen. Final results of the second stage of the study have yet to be published. However, in a paper presented at the Australian Institute of Political Science Summer School held in January this year, Professor Henderson stated that a subsequent study in depth of persons, mainly rather poor ones, who were classed as living in poverty in the first stage revealed income not previously disclosed and assets not included in the first survey. The effect of this finding he said reduced the proportion of the total population in need to between 4% and 5%. 4 and 5. Any standard adopted for measuring poverty involves arbitrary judgments and opinions will differ as to what constitutes poverty. It is the Government’s desire to remove, as far as possible, any poverty that may exist in the community. Indeed, the progress the Government has made, and is making, in this area compares more than favourably with that of most other countries who supported die adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the General Assembly of the United Nations.
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
How many pensioners who are receiving the whole or a portion of the age pension also receive income from superannuation, rent, interest or dividends?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The number of age pensioners in Australia who are in receipt of a superannuation pension is not currently available. Some details are, however, available concerning the situation of age pensioners in New South Wales and Victoria who are in receipt of a pension at less than the maximum rate. On the basis of this information, it is estimated that some 34,400 of the total of 82,000 reduced rate age pensioners in Aus’ talia are in receipt of a superannuation pension.
Income from rent, interest and dividends is income from property and as such is exempt income for means test purposes. Pensioners are not required to disclose such income and consequently the number with income from these sources is unknown.
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
What is the estimated cost of providing for civilian widows the same (a) children’s allowances and (b) education allowances (including livingawayfromhome allowance) as at present paid to widows under the Repatriation Act?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In the National Wage Case of 1967 the total wage was introduced. The Commission announced that the total wage would be arrived at by adding $1 a week to the weekly award wages of all adult males and females.
Thus the minimum total wage was calculated by adding the announced increase to the minimum award wage prescribed in the Commission’s decision of July 1966. (A subsequent increase was also added in October 1968).
The minimum total wage so arrived at is, under Commonwealth awards, different in every State. State awards in three States also include provisions prescribing rates of minimum wage for adult males similar in concept to the Commonwealth award provision. These too are prescribed at different levels.
The lowest prescribed minimum total wage for an adult male is under the Commonwealth award in Brisbane ($37.10 per week) and the highest is under the State Award in Tasmania ($40.45 per week). Thirty per cent of these amounts would represent $11.13 and $12.14 respectively, these figures being less than the current rate of pensions.
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The rate payable for each student child between tho ages of 16 and 21 years, or each child in an approved institution, is 1.50 a week. This rate has applied since 14lh January 1964.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
War and the First World War would have become eligible for benefits under the Returned Service League’s pension plan (Hansard, 17th October 1968, page 2147) and that 30,000 additional men who so served would become eligible under the League’s 1969 plan (Hansard, 1st May 1969, page 1656)?
– The Minister for Repatriation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
What was the actual amount paid as special rate war pension, and what was the percentage of the special rate of war pension in relation to the basic wage and the minimum wage, respectively, in the financial years 1950-51 and 1968-69?
– The Minister for Repatriation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The following table shows the pension rate fixed in the particular year, its date of effect, the basic or minimum wage, and the appropriate percentage which applied at that date:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 May 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1969/19690522_reps_26_hor63/>.