27th Parliament · 1st Session
The House met at 11 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that the Deputy of the GovernorGeneral for the Opening of the Parliament requested the attendance of honourable members in the Senate chamber forthwith. (Honourable members attended accordingly, and having returned)
The Deputy authorised by the GovernorGeneral to administer the oath or affirmation entered the chamber.
The Clerk read the commission authorising the Right Honourable Sir Garfield Edward John Barwick, G.C.M.G., Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance to the Queen required by the Constitution to be taken or made by members of the House of Representatives.
The Clerk laid on the table returns to 125 writs for the election of members of the House of Representatives held on 25th October 1969.
The following honourable members made and subscribed the oath of allegiance:
Adermann, Charles Frederick, Fisher, Queensland
Anthony, John Douglas, Richmond, New South Wales
Armitage, John Lindsay, Chifley, New South Wales
Aston, William John, Phillip, New South Wales
Barnard, Lance Herbert, Bass, Tasmania
Barnes, Charles Edward, McPherson, Queensland
Bate, Henry Jefferson, Macarthur, New South Wales
Beazley, Kim Edward, Fremantle Western Australia
Bennett, Adrian Frank, Swan, Western Australia
Berinson, Joseph Max, Perth, Western Australia
Birrell, Frederick Ronald, Port Adelaide, South Australia
Bonnett, Robert Noel, Herbert, Queensland
Bowen, Lionel Frost, Kingsford-Smith, New South Wales
Bowen, Nigel Hubert, Parramatta, New South Wales
Brown, Neil Anthony, Diamond Valley, Victoria
Bryant, Gordon Munro, Wills, Victoria
Buchanan, Alexander Andrew, McMillan, Victoria
Bury, Leslie Harry Ernest, Wentworth, New South Wales
Cairns, James Ford, Lalor, Victoria
Cairns, Kevin Michael Kiernan, Lilley, Queensland
Calder, Stephen Edward, Northern Territory
Calwell, Arthur Augustus, - Melbourne, Victoria
Cameron, Clyde Robert, Hindmarsh, South Australia
Cameron, Donald Milner, Griffith, Queensland
Chipp, Donald Leslie, Hotham, Victoria
Cohen, Barry, Robertson, New South Wales
Collard, Frederick Walter, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
Connor, Reginald Francis Xavier, Cunningham, New South Wales
Cope, James Francis, Sydney, New South Wales
Corbett, James, Maranoa, Queensland
Cramer, John Oscar, Bennelong, New South Wales
Crean, Frank, Melbourne Ports, Victoria
Cross, Manfred Douglas, Brisbane, Queensland
Daly, Frederick Michael, Grayndler, New South Wales
Davies, Ronald, Braddon, Tasmania
Dobie, James Donald Mathieson, Cook, New South Wales
Drury, Edward Nigel, Ryan, Queensland
Duthie, Gilbert William Arthur, Wilmot, Tasmania
England, John Armstrong, Calare, New South Wales
Erwin, George Dudley, Ballaarat, Victoria
Everingham, Douglas Nixon, Capricornia, Queensland
Fairbairn, David Eric, Farrer, New South Wales
FitzPatrick, John, Darling, New South Wales
Forbes, Alexander James, Barker, South Australia
Foster, Norman Kenneth, Sturt, South Australia
Fox, Edmund Maxwell Cameron, Henry, Victoria
Fraser, Allan Duncan, Eden-Monaro, New South Wales
Fraser, James Reay, Australian Capital Territory
Fraser, John Malcolm, Wannon, Victoria
Fulton, William John, Leichhardt, Queensland
Garland, Ransley Victor, Curtin, Western Australia
Garrick, Horace James, Batman, Victoria
Giles, Geoffrey O’Halloran, Angas, South Australia
Gorton, John Grey, Higgins, Victoria
Graham, Bruce William, North Sydney, New South Wales
Grassby, Albert Jaime, Riverina, New South Wales
Griffiths, Charles Edward, Shortland, New South Wales
Gun, Richard Townsend, Kingston, South Australia
Hallett, John Mead, Canning, Western Australia
Hamer, David John, Isaacs, Victoria
Hansen, Brendan Percival, Wide Bay, Queensland
Hayden, William George, Oxley, Queensland
Holten, Rendle McNeilage, Indi, Victoria
Howson, Peter, Casey, Victoria
Hughes, Thomas Eyre Forrest, Berowra, New South Wales
Hulme, Alan Shallcross, Petrie, Queensland
Hunt, Ralph James Dunnet, Gwydir, New South Wales
Hurford, Christopher John, Adelaide, South Australia
Irwin, Leslie Herbert, Mitchell, New South Wales
Jacobi, Herman Ralph, Hawker, South Australia
James, Albert William, Hunter, New South Wales
Jarman, Alan William, Deakin, Victoria
Jenkins, Henry Alfred, Scullin, Victoria
Johnson, Leonard Keith, Burke, Victoria
Johnson, Leslie Royston, Hughes, New South Wales
Jones, Charles Keith, Newcastle, New South Wales
Katter, Robert Cummin, Kennedy, Queensland
Keating, Paul John, Blaxland, New South Wales
Kelly, Charles Robert, Wakefield, South Australia
Kennedy, Andrew David, Bendigo, Victoria
Kent Hughes, Wilfrid Selwyn, Chisholm, Victoria
Keogh, Leonard Joseph, Bowman, Queensland
Killen, Denis James, Moreton, Queensland
King, Robert Shannon, Wimmera, Victoria
Luchetti, Anthony Sylvester, Macquarie, New South Wales
Lucock, Philip Ernest, Lyne, New South Wales
Lynch, Phillip Reginald, Flinders, Victoria
Mackay, Malcolm George, Evans, New South Wales
MacKellar, Michael John Randal, Warringah, New South Wales
Maisey, Donald William, Moore, Western Australia
McEwen, John, Murray, Victoria
McIvor, Hector James, Gellibrand, Victoria
McLeay, John Elden, Boothby, South Australia
McMahon, William, Lowe, New South Wales
Martin, Vincent Joseph, Banks, New South Wales
Morrison, William Lawrence, St George, New South Wales
Nicholls, Martin Henry, Bonython, South Australia
Nixon, Peter James, Gippsland, Victoria
O’Keefe, Frank Lionel, Paterson, New South Wales
Patterson, Rex Alan, Dawson, Queensland
Peacock, Andrew Sharp, Kooyong, Victoria
Pettitt, John Alexander, Hume, New South Wales
Reid, Leonard Stanley, Holt, Victoria
Reynolds, Leonard James, Barton, New South Wales
Robinson, Ian Louis, Cowper, New South Wales
Scholes, Gordon Glen Denton, Corio, Victoria
Sherry, Raymond Henry, Franklin, Tasmania
Sinclair, Ian McCahon, New England, New South Wales
Snedden, Billy Mackie, Bruce, Victoria
Solomon, Robert John, Denison, Tasmania
Stewart, Francis Eugene, Lang, New South Wales
Street, Anthony Austin, Corangamite, Victoria
Swartz, Reginald William Colin, Darling Downs, Queensland
Turnbull, Winton George, Mallee, Victoria
Uren, Thomas, Reid, New South Wales
Webb, Charles Harry, Stirling, Western Australia
Wentworth, William Charles, Mackellar, New South Wales
Whitlam, Edward Gough, Werriwa, New South Wales
Whittorn, Raymond Harold, Balaclava, Victoria
The following honourable members made and subscribed an affirmation of allegiance:
Cass, Moses Henry, Maribyrnong, Victoria
Kirwan, Frank McLeod, Forrest, Western Australia
Klugman, Richard Emanuel, Prospect, New South Wales
Wallis, Laurie George, Grey, South Australia
– Honourable members, it is now the duty of the House to elect a member as Speaker.
– I propose to the House, for its Speaker, Mr Aston andI move:
That the honourable member for Phillip (Mr Aston) do take the Chair of this House as Speaker.
-I second the nomination.
– I accept the nomination.
– Is there any further proposal?
– I propose to the House, for its Speaker, Mr Cope and move:
That the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) do take the Chair of this House as Speaker.
– I second the nomination.
– I accept the nomination.
– Are there any further proposals? The time for proposals has expired and the matter may now be the subject of debate.
-I wish to speak in support of the candidature of the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope). Now that this House is opening in an unblaze of unglory to discuss divers urgent and important matters, namely, afternoon tea this afternoon, the Opposition feels that there should be a change of Speakership. Our fundamental reason for believing this is that the Opposition has never been given the protection of the Chair that it should have been given. The repeated occasions on which defamatory questions have been allowed against the Opposition and not allowed against members of the Government has become the subject of comment in an article written by a former Serjeant-at-Arms of this House who is now a professor of political science. That has been a leading characteristic of the Speakership as we have seen it.
The honourable member for Sydney has promised to protect the Opposition from defamatory statements. He will even protect the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) from defamatory statements from behind him. So with these qualifications of impartiality we think he should be made the Speaker. He has promised other interesting ceremonies.
He has promised to discuss and possibly to make innovations in the Parliament. Sixty years ago a former honourable member for Ballaarat, Alfred Deakin, spoke about a Minister removed from office. He said that he reminded him of an ill-bred urchin dragged screaming and kicking from a tart shop. For 60 years we have had the problem of the ungraceful exit of Ministers. Our candidate for the Speakership believes that wailing could be done much better by bagpipes and that a new ceremony should be enacted for the Parliament so that a Minister rejected from office could be led in solemn procession around the lobbies with bagpipes wailing for him. This would be a more seemly method than the one we have seen in recent days. Also there might even be a ceremony for the grievances of an uninvited Assistant Whip who informs us that he cannot support the Government. Perhaps he could be piped aboard as he comes up the parliamentary steps.
But in a more serious mood, we believe that a new look has to be taken at the Speakership. Many members from the Government side have spoken about the downgrading of the Parliament one of the main features of which, we believe, has been the absence of neutrality from the Chair. That is our serious belief. The man who sits in the chair is the custodian of the rights of the House, not of the power of the Executive Government of the Commonwealth. This, we believe, has been the fundamental mistake that has been made in the Speakership over the last few years and for that reason we nominate the honourable member for Sydney.
– I refute the allegations that have just been made, somewhat unworthily in my opinion, by the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley). I was surprised at some of the remarks he made. They were not in accordance with the facts. I know that many honourable members in the previous Parliament, from this side of the House, as well as honourable members from the other side, paid tribute to Mr Aston for the impartiality, integrity, dignity, decorum and fair mindedness which he displayed in endeavouring to carry out the onerous duties of Speaker of this House. I refute entirely the charge that there was an absence of neutrality in the exercise of his duties. On the contrary, I believe that he gave fair protection to all honourable members, including the independent members who were previously in the chamber. During his 3-year term as Speaker Mr Aston enjoyed the respect of all members of the Parliament. I assure all new members of this Parliament that in the old Parliament Mr Aston enjoyed the profound respect and admiration of honourable members from both sides of the chamber. I certainly gained the impression that he had the confidence of all honourable members. He was patient often to the nth degree, even under great provocation from some members of the Opposition. Of course, Mr Speaker must be prepared to be patient under somewhat trying circumstances. These inevitably arise in the day to day proceedings in this chamber. Mr Aston has always shown himself to be a humane, understanding and fair minded Speaker. He is a man able to be firm when the occasion demands firmness. In the old Parliament he displayed a conscientious devotion to the demands of his most important office, not only in the chamber but outside it. I can speak from personal experience of these things because I have served under him on some of the standing committees of the Parliament. I am sure that all honourable members, including honourable members opposite, who have served on committees chaired by Mr Aston, including meetings of the executive of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and of the Union itself, will agree with me. I think all who have been associated with Mr Aston will concede that he has done his job impartially, fairly and well. Not only has he performed his duties as Speaker extremely well in this chamber but on important occasions he has represented this country overseas, and from all accounts has done so with great dignity and responsibility, bringing credit not only to himself but also to this Parliament and to this country. I repeat that Mr Aston has all the qualities of mind and the humanity to fit him ably once again to hold the office of Speaker in this House.
– It is not my custom to comment about candidates for the Speakership. That is a risky game, because one may have to work for the next 12 months or so under a man against whom be has levelled criticism. But it is a calculated risk. I do not think I have much to lose on this occasion because I got such a rough deal in the last Parliament. I could not get a rougher deal in this Parliament. I ask honourable members, particularly the new members of the Parliament, who were referred to by the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Drury), who read his speech so ably a moment ago, to compare the jovial dignity of Mr Cope with the cruel and arrogant posture of the gentleman who has been proposed from the other side. Honourable members will observe in Mr Cope a gentleman who has the highest -regard for the Parliament and its rights as well as for the rights of honourable members who sit in the Parliament. This is the important thing. We shall have in Mr Cope as Mr Speaker one who will not be the mere lackey of the Prime Minister, one who will not be the mere servant of some political party but one who will be the servant of the people who have been chosen by the electorate of this great Commonwealth of ours to represent it. 1 would say to those gentlemen who have fallen victim of the Mushroom Club to take this opportunity now of dealing with the nominee of the Prime Minister. Unlike Mr Cope, who has been selected unanimously by Her Majesty’s Opposition to be its nominee for the office of Speaker, the person who has been nominated by the Government is the handpicked stool pigeon of the Prime Minister.
– I am glad to hear this.
– It is by secret, exhaustive ballot.
– This is why I made the comment. I was never able to discover just how the Government candidate for the office of Speaker was selected. It puzzles me to think that a responsible body of men - this only makes the injury greater - or a body of men which claims to be responsible could have chosen such a candidate as Mr Aston.
– You will be for it now, Clyde.
– Yes, I would say that I will be in for it 1 would say also that had there been an election on the Government side to choose the nominee for this office probably men like the honourable member for Macarthur would have rated much higher in the ranks on the other side than Mr-
– Would he be staying at the Kurrajong?
– Well, why would he not stop at the Kurrajong? As far as I know, he stays at the Kurrajong. I suppose that, as long as a person pays his way, he can stay wherever he likes. I call upon Mr Erwin and Mr Fairbairn, who has had such a rough deal at the hands of the Prime Minister: Here is your golden opportunity to even up your old scores with the Prime Minister and to show your Prime Minister that one of his chief campaign directors in New South Wales, Mr Aston, is not going to get away with it so easily and is not going to be given this plum of office now. I call on Mr Kelly, who was so shabbily treated by the Prime Minister-
– That he had to sell his. suit.
– Yes, he had to sell his striped pants because he has no further use for them. I call on Mr Kelly, if he is allowed to register a secret vote without somebody looking over his shoulder, to do so and to vote for Mr Cope. The honourable member will then be giving to the Parliament an excellent Speaker and, at the same time, will be telling John Grey Gorton that he cannot run this place as he has been running it in the past.
I call on Mr Kevin Cairns, who is a man of extraordinary courage - usually - to do the same kind of thing. I address the same remarks to Mr McMahon who is sitting there alongside Mr McEwen. They appear to be happy enough at the moment, but I have seen times when they were not quite so happy. Mr McEwen has every reason to be happy even if Mr McMahon has not because now Mr McEwen has a secondrater in charge of the Treasury and it will be much easier for the Department of Trade and Industry to override the Treasury than it has been in the past. At the same time, I would not mind being the Minister for External Affairs. I do not know why the present Minister for External Affairs appears so upset by his demotion.
Dr Mackay is a gentleman who ought to even up a few scores. If anybody earned a promotion to the Ministry, it was Dr
Mackay. But no, he did not receive nomination even for the Speakership. I think that he has every reason to take this opportunity to appoint somebody who is not the mere lackey of John Grey Gorton. Then, Mr Howson, last but not least, who is a man who has always shown great courage-
– The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Mr Clerk, I regret that the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) has taken advantage of the absence, for the one time in the life of this Parliament, of an honourable member holding the office of Mr Speaker. The honourable member has used terms which quite clearly are not only inaccurate but also vicious and unparliamentary. He has used a term in relation to Mr Aston, and I shall quote it for it ought to be repeated to reveal the calibre of the mind, the presentation and the willingness to descend to the lowest depths in debate which characterise the honourable member for Hindmarsh. The term which he used was ‘a hand-picked stool pigeon’. The honourable member for Hindmarsh can laugh about it. I welcome his laughing about it as an example to all those new members who sit on his side of the House. I hope they will reject it as a standard of performance in this national Parliament, because if they perform in the way in which the honourable member for Hindmarsh has done they will reduce this Parliament from an international standing as a house of debate to the sort of thing which the honourable member would have it - a gutter discussion. We on this side of the House will not participate in that way throughout the term of this Parliament, but on the contrary, whenever we hear from the opposite side of the House language to that effect we shall expose it and we shall use the forms of the House to have it expunged and, if necessary, to deprive the user of the language of the service of the House.
The honourable member for Phillip, whose nomination was moved by Mr Drury and seconded by Mr Lucock, has served this Parliament as Speaker. I believe that he has disclosed in that service a capacity to calm the House down at moments when it appeared that the House was about to erupt into bad humour. He has shown, I believe, impartiality. I believe that he has been fair and that indeed he has shown a judicial attitude towards the discharge of his job. All those things that I have said of Mr Aston could, I believe, be quite properly said about a man whom I regard as a friend, Mr Cope, the nominee from the other side of the House. I believe mat if he were elected to the Speakership he would discharge his job very well, with fairness and impartiality. I accept that, because I know him as a man. But I am bound to say that in my judgment Mr Aston would do the job better, and has experience to Help in a parliament which this morning’s performances quite clearly mark as not a parliament of which we will be proud, if that sort of performance continues. For those reasons I support Mr Aston, and I would ask all those people who have had the experience of serving under him to vote for him in the ballot that now follows, as I most certainly will. Mr Clerk, I move:
That the question be now put.
Question put. The House divided. (The Clerk- Mr A. G. Turner)
Majority …….. 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
-I wish to thank the House for the high honour it has conferred upon me. (Mr Speaker having seated himself in the Chair)
– Mr Speaker, I wish to offer my congratulations on your election to the office of great responsibility which you now hold. I have not the slightest doubt that you will, in this Parliament, carry out your duties with that distinction, with that fairness and with that firmness which earned universal approbation in this House during the last Parliament and which led to congratulations being offered to you from all sides on behalf of both the Opposition and the Government at the slight interregnum between your two terms of office. I have no doubt that you will, as you have in the past, be one of the Parliament’s most distinguished presiding officers.
– Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Australian Labor Party I congratulate you on being re-elected to your high office. You are, Sir, accustomed to having small majorities. I hope that you will spare me from being more generous in my remarks, for after my colleagues and I were benevolent and, in fact, generous on your behalf during the valedictory at the end of the last Parliament you were good enough to quote our remarks in your campaign literature. I do not propose to give hostage to fortune on this occasion. You will have noticed, Sir, that the Opposition is disposed to scrutinise the conduct of yourself and your Party colleagues much more vigilantly than hitherto. I hope I do not have the unpleasant task, as I did in the last Parliament, of moving dissent from your rulings. You know the particular ruling which irks us, and I do not intend to repeat it. We wish you well in the chair and we congratulate you on being re-elected.
- Mr Speaker, I should like to take this opportunity of heartily congratulating you on your success. As one of your Deputies in the last Parliament 1 was honoured to serve under your orders and directions and it was a very pleasant duty indeed. Again, may I offer my hearty congratulations.
– May I thank the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and also the honourable member for Sydney for their kind remarks on my re-occupancy of the chair. I should like also to thank the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Drury) and the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) for respectively nominating me and seconding my nomination. I am deeply conscious of the high honour that has been accorded to me. During my previous term of office it was my desire to endeavour to conduct this House with the dignity and decorum it deserved and, at the same time, to do my utmost to maintain a balance and to carry out my duties with strict impartiality. I intend to do just this in the next 3 years, and I can assure honourable members that it will be without fear or favour to any person or member of this House. I again thank the House for its generosity and I hope to have the support of all honourable members from both sides of the House in my endeavours to make this democratic chamber work as it should work and not to allow it to be used for purposes of defamation or for scurrilous purposes.
– I have learned that it will be the pleasure of His Excellency the Governor-General to receive you, Mr Speaker, in the Library of the Parliament this day at 2.42 p.m.
– Prior to my presentation to His Excellency the Governor-General this afternoon, the bells will be rung for three minutes so that honourable members may attend in the chamber and accompany the Speaker, when they may if they so wish, be introduced to His Excellency.
Sitting suspended from 12.35 to 2.41 p.m. (The House proceeded to the Library, and, being reassembled)
– I have to report that, accompanied by honourable members, I this day proceeded to the Library of the Parliament and presented myself to His Excellency the Governor-General as the choice of the House, and that His Excellency was kind enough to congratulate me on my election as Speaker.
– His Excellency the GovernorGeneral has presented to me a commission authorising me to administer to members of the House the oath or affirmation of allegiance. I now lay the commission on the table.
The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered a message that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral desired the attendance of honourable members in the Senate chamber forthwith. (Mr Speaker and honourable members attended accordingly and, having returned)
– Mr Speaker, the new Ministry was sworn by the Governor-General on 12th November 1969 and is as follows:
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry - The Right Honourable J. McEwen, C.H.
Minister for External Affairs - The Right Honourable William McMahon
Minister for Primary Industry - The HonourableJ. D. Anthony
Postmaster-General and Vice-President of the Executive Council - The Honourable A. S. Hulme
Minister for Shipping and Transport and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry - The Honourable Ian Sinclair
Minister for Supply and Leader of the Government in the Senate - Senator the Honourable Ken Anderson
Minister for Labour and National Service and Leader of the House - The Honourable B. M. Snedden, Q.C.
Minister for the Interior - The Honourable P. J. Nixon
Minister for Housing - Senator the Honourable Dame Annabelle Rankin, D.B.E.
Minister for Immigration and Minister Assisting the Treasurer - The Honourable Phillip Lynch
Minister for Social Services; and, under the Prime Minister, Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs - the Honourable W. C. Wentworth
Minister for Works; and, under the Minister for Trade and Industry, Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities - Senator the Honourable R. C. Wright
Minister for Civil Aviation - Senator the Honourable R. C. Cotton
Minister for Air - Senator the Honourable T. C. Drake-Brockman, D.F.C.
Minister for Repatriation - The Honourable R. McN. Holten
Minister for the Army; and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister - The Honourable A. S. Peacock
Minister for the Navy - The Honourable D. J. Killen
The first thirteen Ministers named will comprise the Cabinet. The Leader of the Government in the Senate will be Senator Anderson and the Leader of the House of Representatives will be Mr Snedden. In the Senate Senator Anderson will be my representative and will also represent the portfolios of Trade and Industry, External Affairs, Treasury and Defence. The other representational arrangements in that chamber will be: Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, the portfolios of Immigration, Social Services including Aboriginal Affairs, Health and Postmaster-General; Senator Wright, Labour and National Service, Education and Science, Attorney-General and External Territories; Senator Cotton, Interior, National Development, Shipping and Transport and Customs and Excise; Senator Drake-Brockman, Primary Industry, Army, Navy and Repatriation. Ministers in the Senate will be represented in this House as follows: The Minister for Supply by Mr
Fraser; the Minister for Housing by Dr Forbes; the Minister for Works by Mr Chipp; the Minister for Civil Aviation by Mr Swartz; and the Minister for Air by Mr Killen.
– I have the honour to inform the House that the Parliamentary Labour Party has elected me as Leader, the honourable member for Bass as Deputy Leader, the honourable member for Wilmot as Whip and the honourable member for Hunter as Deputy Whip.
– I desire to inform the House that the parliamentary party of the Australian Country Party has again elected me as its Leader. It has elected as Deputy Leader my colleague, Mr Anthony. Mr Turnbull has again been elected Whip for the Country Party.
Bill presented by Mr Gorton, and read a first time.
– Mr Speaker, I move:
Senator Cohen collapsed and died at a political meeting in Adelaide on 7th October. He was a man in the prime of life out campaigning for the things in which he believed. He was never a man to do things by half measure. He was throwing himself tirelessly into the election campaign and his untimely death at the age of only SO was a sad blow to his colleagues and to his many friends in this Parliament.
Sir, Senator Cohen was an outstanding member of the Senate. He was a man of considerable intellectual gifts and a man of principle and of integrity. He sat in the Senate from 1962 and became the Labor
Party’s spokesman on matters relating to education, science, radio and television. As a senator and as Minister for Education and Science I had good cause to know at first hand his capabilities and his qualities. I developed a genuine respect and a personal regard for him. He had a deep interest in education in Australia. It was a genuine interest. He studied the matter deeply. He approached that aspect of his work with great sincerity.
He was born on 21st October 1918. After his early education at Wesley College, Melbourne, he attained the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Master of Laws from Melbourne University. After serving in the Australian military forces during the Second World War, he was admitted to the Bar. He became a Queen’s Counsel in 1961 with a wide practice, particularly in industrial law. He was a member of the Victorian Executive of the Australian Labor Party. He entered the Senate in 1962 representing Victoria.
He was a vigorous and able debater. He took an active part in the life of the Senate, first as a member of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television and then as a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances. He was, as I have mentioned, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from February 1967.
His sudden death robbed the Senate of an active and inquiring mind and of a very real talent. I may say with complete truth that I feel that he was a loss to his Party, to the Parliament and to Australia and, I think, to me as a personal friend. Most of all, of course, his death is a tragic loss to his family. On behalf of the Government, I express my deepest sympathy to his wife and children.
– Mr Speaker, I support the motion that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has moved concerning the death of Senator Cohen. My colleagues and I particularly appreciate the fact that the Prime Minister spoke in these terms about a man whom he had been able to observe and know as a member of another place and as Minister for Education and Science. We appreciate the fact that his Government paid our late colleague the honour of a State funeral. As will appear from the record which the Prime Minister has given, Senator Cohen had been a gifted scholar, an outstanding counsel and a most public spirited citizen.
On other occasions, family and community, I have had the privilege of paying tribute to him. I should like to quote the words of Mr Clyde Holding, the Leader of the Victorian Parliamentary Labor Party at the Melbourne General Cemetery on the occasion of Senator Cohen’s funeral to bring home to honourable members the motivations of our late colleague. Mr Holding said:
It was, of course, within the Jewish community that Sam Cohen’s social attitudes and philosophy were born and nurtured. Like many young Jews who lived through the climactic horrors of Nazi persecution during the last World War, the anguish and the plight of the Jewish people throughout Europe burned deeply into his soul. It moved him into a lifelong involvement and struggle against all forms of Fascism and antiSemitism. He saw this struggle, not as negative exposure of neo-Fascist tendencies or antiSemitic attitudes within our own community, but as the creation of a positive social and political democracy in Australia - and that led him into the Labor movement.
Senator Cohen’s extraordinarily rapid rise in the ranks of the Labour Party, both in the organisation outside the Parliament and in the Parliament, was not due to his faith. That was an irrelevance. It was because his colleagues outside the Parliament and in it recognised his great abilities, energies and dedication. He rose in less than 5 years in the Senate to be Deputy Leader of the Labor Party in the Senate - so chosen by members of the Labor Party in both the Houses of the Parliament.
I asked him to assume particular responsibility for education and science, and for communications and the arts. He had served during the last years of the war on the original Universities Commission. In recent years he had been a member of the Australian National University Council. He had been co-opted, at the instance of the immediate past Minister for Education and Science, to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Executive. He rose by the qualities I have described, and the sad truth is that he died in his prime because of them. For if ever a politician could be said to have died serving his party, it was Senator Cohen. This is profoundly as well as literally true.
My own debt to Senator Cohen is deep. I had been closely associated with him, before he was elected to the Parliament, in connection with the Crimes Act amendments of 1960. I had visited New Guinea with him in 1964. I had been closely associated with him in his position of Deputy Leader in the Senate. My own view for many years has been that the National Government must accept a measure of responsibility for all schools. I twice expressed that view in my first year in this Parliament in 1953. It is no secret that at the time I became Leader of my Party and Senator Cohen its Deputy Leader in the Senate, that was not the official policy of our Party. It now is. In securing support for that policy Senator Cohen played a crucial role. Without his support it is at least doubtful whether that view would have prevailed. To put it at its lowest, my task would have been immeasurably harder.
But, setting political considerations aside, I cannot but believe that the adoption of this policy will work mightily for the good of our children, and therefore for our country’s good, whoever may be in power. A divisive and destructive issue has, I believe, been buried for all time. If this proves so it will have been not the least of Senator Cohen’s contributions to this nation’s welfare. It was in the very act of explaining and expounding this attitude as my representative - with great verve and brilliance, I am assured by my colleagues who were at the meeting in Adelaide that night - that he died. He died in the middle of the hurly-burly of an election campaign. I was on the road from Gosford to Sydney after a meeting which was part of the campaign which has returned another Cohen to the national Parliament Thus only briefly could we pause. It had to be so, and I know that Senator Cohen would have wanted it so. The great business had to go on. Earlier this month, at the first meeting of the Parliamentary Labor Party after the election, his Party colleagues honoured him before proceeding to elect his successor for that, too, was how it had to be. Today, at the first meeting of the two Houses after the election, his parliamentary colleagues on both sides and of all views pay tribute to him. For as long as Australians honour the ideal of service to the public, Senator Cohen, who was a highly qualified man and who put all at risk for the chances of politics and the chance to serve, will have an honoured place indeed.
– I wish to associate the members of the Parliamentary Australian Country Party with the sentiments which have been expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I endorse completely the remarks made by them. The late Senator Cohen was clearly a man of strong character and high intelligence. These are great qualities, but in addition Sam Cohen was a man of constant good humour. He was well liked by all members of all Parties. It is perhaps less difficult in this place to be respected than to be liked. Sam Cohen was both respected and liked. As a senator he served his Party well and his Party recognised his service by appointing him, as the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate after a comparatively short period of service there. He was always conscious that as a senator he had a particular responsibility to his State of Victoria.
From my observations, he discharged that obligation conscientiously and well. His basic integrity and honesty were obvious, as was his capacity for hard work. These qualities were revealed in his professional life as well as in his parliamentary public life. As a lawyer in private life, he was able to bring considerable knowledge and experience to bear on legislation, particularly legislation concerned with education and science and the communications industry. I understand that he was the Labor Party’s spokesman in the Senate on these matters. I happen to be a close personal friend of some people, not highly circumstanced, who also were friends of his. I have personal knowledge of his humanity and his willingness to help the ordinary people who quite frequently turned to him for help and advice. He was obviously a man of great humanity. The Australian Country Party supports the motion before the chamber and the sentiments that were expressed by the two previous speakers in extending sincere sympathy to the late Sam Cohen’s widow and family.
– It is sad to have to speak to a motion of this kind. It is something which I wish I could avoid, but I do not think I can avoid it without appearing to show a lack of gratitude to a very great, very dear and very loyal friend. I particularly want to thank the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) for the generous and very kind remarks he made about our dear friend, Sam Cohen. Everything the Prime Minister said was true. The Prime Minister did not have to say what he said but he did, and it is to his credit that he said what he knew to be true about a political opponent and, I believe, a personal friend. I was touched immensely by the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). Sam Cohen had a tremendous regard for the Leader of the Opposition and his ability and he was a very loyal Deputy Leader in the Senate. I hope I will be pardoned for using Christian names when I say that Gough Whitlam, too, has lost a very great friend. I thank the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr McEwen) for his kind remarks. The Leader of the Country Party is noted for his generosity to his political opponents on occasions like this. He, like the Prime Minister, was not obliged to say the things that he did say but he has said them and it is to his credit that he placed on record his thoughts and knowledge of a very great member of this Parliament.
On 7th October I lost a very great, very dear and loyal friend. Australia lost a great statesman. The Australian Labor Party lost a very great leader. The Jewish people lost a very noble and gentle son. On that day his wife Judith lost a deeply devoted and very proud husband. Sam Cohen had every right to be proud because in Judith Cohen he had a wife of extraordinary charms and extraordinary intellect. As I said, he had every reason to be proud of his wife. He lived for his wife and for his two little girls, Susan and Sally. The death of Sam Cohen has taken from Susan and Sally a kind and loving father but their loss, I am sure, will be ameliorated by fond memories of the joy and happiness that he brought them in the too few years that he presided over their care and upbringing. Australian Jewry has lost one of its most worthy sons. Mr Gerald Falk, President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, spoke for everyone who had the honour of knowing Mr Sam Cohen when he said that the Australian Jewish community was proud of his leading role in political life and his contributions to the development of Australia. As a Jew, Sam Cohen was steadfast to his religion and was loyal to all his friends. Sam Cohen just could not be disloyal to anything or anybody. He could not be disloyal to principles; he could not be disloyal to a person. They were the qualities which made him the great man that he was.
Sam Cohen detested violence and he fought tyranny and injustice whenever and wherever he encountered it. With his friend Ernest Platz he became prominent in the fight against war, Fascism and antisemitism. Sam Cohen loved the Jewish people and he did so with complete justification. He was proud of his race and of its achievements. The whole history of the Jewish people literally glitters with the names and records of men and women of outstanding qualities and qualifications. One has only to mention but a few of those who are more famous in more recent years. That leaves unmentioned many thousands more in earlier times. Names come to mind such as the great Einstein, Sir John Monash, the first Australian-born Governor-General, Sir Isaac Isaacs, Disraeli, Anton Rubinstein, Jacob Epstein, Julius Reuter, Sigmund Freud, Mendelssohn, Emile Zola, Henri Bergson. We can go on and on mentioning the names of very great Jewish people. It was little wonder therefore that Sam Cohen was proud of his race. I think that to the names of those illustrious men I have mentioned must now be added the name of Samuel Herbert Cohen. He will go down in history as one of the really great men in Australia’s public life. His untimely death is not only a tragic loss to his family, to the Jewish people, to the Parliament and to the Australian nation, but it is a great and irreplaceable loss to the Australian Labor movement.
Senator Cohen was our deputy leader in the Senate. In that capacity he was always thorough in his work. His ability as a debater was unparalleled. The Prime Minister was kind enough to testify to his ability as a debater. His arguments were always prepared with great thoroughness and his penetrating logic was admired by his political opponents as well as by his supporters. I do not believe that Sam
Cohen had a personal enemy in the whole Parliament. Both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Australian Country Party made that point in their remarks to the motion. Even those who differed strongly from Sam Cohen’s politics loved his ready smile and respected him for his gentlemanly demeanour and constant courtesy. He never varied; he was always courteous. He was not courteous one day and discourteous on another.
Speaking at the graveside in Melbourne Senator Lionel Murphy summed up our late colleague’s qualities in this way, when he said:
He used bis ability in the fairest of ways. His skill in debate was never used to hurt his opponents, rather to persuade.
That was so terribly true of Sam Cohen. He just could not bring himself to hurt a person. He always tried to persuade. Perhaps it was the Leader of the Labor Party in the Victorian Parliament, Mr Clyde Holding, M.P., who best expressed the views of all of us who knew Sam Cohen and loved him when during his panegyric he made the remarks referred to by my leader a moment ago. Mr Holding made some other comments which I would like to have recorded. He said that Sam Cohen: . . brought to the Labor movement not merely his political vision and the clarity of his intellect; he brought his skills as an advocate, his great gift of eloquence. His influence on men and ideas was probably even more significant. His was a vital and, at times, turbulent personality. The great warmth that came from his love of men, their strengths and weaknesses, was an enduring asset to him and all who knew him. He knew, at times, the personal trauma extracted from all leaders who choose to follow the strength of their own intellectal conviction. The moral grandeur of his personality enabled him in such situations to understand the purposes of men and in his unfailing kindness, he could never harbour resentment against anyone. . . . For his people and his Party it is not the end - it is only the beginning. For him and his kind there can never be an end, only new beginnings.
That was the conclusion of Mr Holding’s panegyric.
I have a very special reason for loving and remembering Sam Cohen. I not only admired and respected him as the model husband and father I knew him to be and as a fighter for civil rights, but I loved him for his help, then for his friendship and finally for his loyalty and for his wise counsel. I first met Sam Cohen in 1959 when I was introduced to him by Mr John
Ryan and his law partner, Mr Clyde Holding. Jack Ryan and Clyde Holding were my solicitors in the litigation in which I was involved at that time. I had no money but I had justice on my side and finally I had Sam Cohen on my side because when he read the brief for my case he agreed to act without so much as a passing reference to fees. This brought home to me the very truth of one comment made by Mr Clyde Holding on the occasion to which I previously referred, when he said: No man who ever appealed to his social conscience went away empty handed’. Sam Cohen acted for me in two separate cases before the full bench of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. He was my adviser when one of the cases went on appeal to the High Court of Australia and when another went on appeal to the Privy Council. The fact that I succeeded in all four cases was not only an indication of Sam Cohen’s acute sense of justice but also a tribute to his astute court craft and to his wide knowledge of the law.
I have lost a dear and very good friend; the Labor movement has lost a loyal and dedicated leader; the Jewish people have lost a courageous champion of their cause; and the people of Australia and their elected Parliament have lost one of the most talented parliamentarians since federation. But great though the loss has been to those I have already mentioned, the greatest loss of all has been to his wife Judith, his daughters, Susan and Sally, and his brother. Whilst there can be no substitute for a kind, loving and honourable husband and father I hope that it will be some solace to Judith Cohen and to her two young daughters, Susan and Sally, to know that Sam’s great qualities of which they were so well aware are recognised also by those of us who served with him as friends, colleagues and opponents in this Parliament. I sincerely support the motion.
– I would like to associate myself with the words spoken by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) and the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). With the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) and the former member for Kingston, Miss
Brownbill, I was involved in debate at the meeting on the night in question.
I cannot say that I knew Senator Cohen very well but I would like my remarks to be associated with those already made. In particular, I would like my own expressions of very deep and sincere sympathy with his wife and family to become part of the record.
– I, too, would like to support the motion of condolence proposed by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). Senator Cohen’s death has meant an irreplaceable loss to the Labor movement and to this nation. As the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) has said, Sam Cohen was a man to whom nothing was too much trouble. I always found him prepared to give me his advice, encouragement, support and friendship. As the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) has said, it was during a public meeting on 7th October when he was supporting my candidature for this Parliament that Senator Cohen died. I would like to place on record my sorrow that Senator Cohen is not here with us and to express my sympathy to his widow and family.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable members standing in their places.
-I thank the House. I understand that it is the desire of the House to have the sitting suspended until 4.30 p.m. I will resume the chair at that time.
Sitting suspended from 3.50 to 4.30 pm
– I have to report that the House this day attended His Excellency the Governor-General in the Senate chamber, when His Excellency was pleased to make a Speech to both Houses of the Parliament. The Speech will be included in Hansard for record purposes. (The Speech read as follows):
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives.
This, the First Session of the 27th Parliament, has been summoned, following the return of the writs for the general election of Members of the House of Representatives on 25th October.
Your attendance has been required in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution which require that the Parliament should be summoned this year and for the discharge of necessary formal business.
My advisers intend to seek the prorogation of the Parliament and it is proposed that you will be called together again as soon as possible next year. At the opening of the Second Session of the 27th Parliament there will belaid before you fully for your consideration the way in which my Government will implement its policies comprising among others, matters relating to the defence and development of our country, to the education, health, housing and social welfare of our people and to the encouragement of the arts.
I now leave you in the faith that Divine Providence will always guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of Australia.
Motion (by Mr Gorton) agreed to.
That a Committee consisting of Mr Fox, Mr Corbett and the mover be appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to the speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of the Parliament and that the Committee do report at a later hour this day.
– I move:
– I second the motion.
– I move:
– I second the motion.
– Is there any further motion? The time for motions has expired.
– I would like to say a few words in support of the nomination of the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) for the office of Chairman of Committees. Naturally the Australian Labor Party does not take this action without very good reason and purpose. We are completely and utterly dissatisfied, as you may have gathered this morning, Mr Speaker, with the conduct of the House by yourself and by the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock), who was Chairman of Committees. When the honourable member for Lyne was elected to the position on 8th March 1961, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) who was Acting Prime Minister, said:
We know that he is a master of the Standing Orders and is a man of intelligence and integrity.
The honourable member may have those qualities, but if he has they are very well hidden. Never have we seen them displayed here. You know, Mr Speaker, that the honourable member has been opposed on practically every occasion that he has been nominated for office. He gives no protection at all to Opposition members when vicious attacks are made upon them by honourable members on the Government side. As a matter of fact, he does not protect the Liberals either. When he is in the chair, if an honourable member refrains from attacking the Australian Country Party he will get a fair go, but if an honourable member mentions the Country Party he is called to order. Honourable members on the Government side should seize the opportunity now not only to get their own back on the Country Party but also to elect to this important position a man of the integrity and capacity of the honourable member for Hunter.
It is almost impossible to follow the rulings of the honourable member for Lyne. We have seen the Committee in uproar and the honourable member on his feet calling the Opposition to order when in fact the uproar was created by honourable members on the Government side. This has happened again and again. We believe that the only way to stop this happening is to replace the honourable member for Lyne with a man who will keep order with dignity and capacity. I suggest to the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin) that he vote against the Government on this issue as he did this morning when the Speaker was elected. He should again exercise his right to do so. I appeal to those fair-minded members opposite - I admit they are extremely scarce - to do something for the nation and defeat the nomination of the honourable member for Lyne as Chairman of Committees.
Let us look at the candidature of the honourable member for Hunter. He has been the member for Hunter for 10 years. His father served in this Parliament for 30 years before him and had an outstanding record of service to and achievement for the Australian Labor Party. I am reminded by the honourable member for Hunter that he is a third generation Australian of Welsh stock from the coal mining village of Tredeger in Wales. He has matured like the rich red wines of the Hunter Valley. He is free, independent and upright and, to cap it all, he is married with three children. Honourable members know that he is a warm-hearted, compassionate Christian gentleman whose frequent Biblical quotations have inspired this House on the occasions on which he has used them. There is no denying that he has an arresting personality. He enforced the law for 24 years and might be termed a social reformer. I suggest that he might bring a new approach to discipline in the Parliament if he occupies the chair. His appointment might save money in doing away with the position of Serjeant-at-Arms, because he would be able to make his own arrests.
The honourable member for Hunter is fearless, impartial, outspoken and tolerant. He has understanding in all things. He will protect both the Government and the Opposition. I believe that the honourable member would bring dignity, capacity, impartiality and understanding to the Chair in keeping with the highest ideals and traditions of this Parliament. Even you, Mr Speaker, would agree that he would be a great improvement on the former occupant. Government members and the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin), who this morning did not have a real opportunity to do something for the Parliament, now have the chance to do so. Those Liberals who want to get their own back on the Country Party and to take full retribution have nothing to lose but the Chairman of Committees.
– I rise to support the candidature of the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock). In particular I wish to take this first opportunity to correct a statement which will appear in Hansard because it has been made unequivocally by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) without, as far as I know, any justification whatsoever. The honourable member for Grayndler, in mentioning the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin), said that he had voted this morning in a particular way. It was a secret ballot, so there is no justification at all for this charge which should not be allowed to stand in Hansard without being corrected. I rise to correct it and to put the record straight because this is an accusation which should not be made without proof. For the rest, Mr Speaker, I said that I rose to support the candidature of the honourable member for Lyne. He needs no great support in this because all honourable members of the House have seen him in operation and know that he operates in an entirely different way from that which the honourable member for Grayndler said he operated in, and in my opinion we could not have a better Chairman of Committees.
– I should like to take the earliest opportunity to speak in support of my colleague, the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), who has been nominated as Chairman of Committees. I believe that if ever there were a time to put party biases aside it is in respect of the candidature of my colleague. As the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) has said, our candidate is a man of stature and bearing, and he is used to command. We can say that honourable members have the opportunity to go with the strength. If honourable members have a temptation to extol the virtues of his antagonist on this occasion they should look at his performance. I have not had a chance to see it over the last 3 years. AH 1 can say is that if the Chairman of Committees has improved over that period he is the only aspect of the Government that has improved.
The honourable member for Hunter has many virtues and attributes for this job. He has had legal training and he will be able to bring it to bear here. We recall from his record that he has always been prepared to temper justice with mercy. He is one of the most widely travelled members of this Parliament and even exceeds the virtues of the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) in that regard. I contend that the confidence that I have in the honourable member for Hunter is a reflection of the massive support that he receives from the people who know him best of all - the constituents of the Hunter electorate. He is a man of great talents. I think you, Mr Speaker, will concede that he has talents very similar to yours and that he therefore would be able to work in co-operation with you, bringing great credit and dignity to the Parliament.
– Having already nominated the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) as Chairman of Committees it is hardly necessary for me to expand on his qualifications to hold this high office. Those honourable members who have been in the Parliament during recent years will be well aware of the way in which the honourable member has carried out the duties of Chairman of Committees. I have no doubt that if re-elected, as I am sure he will be, he will continue to perform those duties in the manner expected of him. His ability to fill the office of Chairman is widely known. It is an important position, calling on many occasions for great restraint on the part of the occupant. The honourable member for Lyne has in the past demonstrated that he has this quality. It is not an easy position to fill, with the Parliament often sitting into the early hours of the morning, but in the past the honourable member for Lyne has stood up to the strains of the office and done an admirable job. I have no doubt that if re-elected he will fulfil the obligations attaching to office.
– The honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) is the candidate of the largest group in this House. If for no other reason than that, his nomination should be given serious consideration by all honourable members who have some regard for democratic procedures. I want to press his suit in this matter not so much on that ground but rather because in the past the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock), who has many estimable personal qualities, has, as Chairman of Committees, brought to the deliberations of this Parliament very restrictive judgments. On almost every occasion when there has been some dispute about aspects of legislation or the general procedures of the Parliament the honourable member for Lyne has been inclined to be very restrictive in his rulings. This has been bad for debate in this place. It is my opinion that his decisions have become more restrictive in the last 7 or 8 years. I believe that the judicial background and general characteristics of the honourable member for Hunter would be of greater benefit to the Parliament than would the qualifications of the honourable member for Lyne, for whom I still have great personal regard.
It is very important that the Parliament, constituted as it is, should be able to discuss freely and without inhibition any issue that comes before it. Almost invariably the honourable member for Lyne has been restrictive in his judgments. Other matters have been of concern to the Labor Party, particularly when we were so few in numbers during the last few years. I do not believe that we always had from the Chair the protection to which we were entitled. I believe that in answering questions Ministers were permitted to transgress the will of the Parliament and to infringe the rights of honourable members. The Chairman of Committees is in fact the alternative Speaker. He is a very important dignitary. He holds a distinguished place in the parliamentary system. I do not believe that any member of the Country Party is entitled to hold such an important parliamentary office as Chairman of Committees. The Country Party represents only a small minority of the Australian community. Even the Liberal Party is a minority Party. It is a rump party in Australian politics. Of the forty-six Liberal Party members who sit opposite and who will support - perhaps not unanimously - the honourable member for Lyne, only nineteen were elected to Parliament with absolute majorities. More than 50% of Liberal Party members are minority members of this Parliament. The Country Party did a little better than its Liberal Party partner. I think only 8 of the 20 members of the Country Party are minority members. There are 59 members of the Labor Party in this Parliament, 46 members of the Liberal Party and 20 members of the Country Party. If the honourable member for Lyne becomes Chairman of Committees it will mean that the fifty-nine Labor members will have been denied justice because of the combination of minorities represented by the coalition Government. That does not give the Parliament the protection to which it is entitled. The officers of the Parliament have a duty to protect the decisions of the Parliament In the last Parliament we passed the following resolution:
That the area of land bounded by King George Terrace, Commonwealth and Kings Avenues and their southerly extensions and taking in the symbolic structure on the summit of the Hill be regarded as the parliamentary zone within which all development shall be subject to the approval of the Parliament.
When we left this Parliament, we were emitted to expect that the officers of this Parliament would protect the judgment of this Parliament in this matter. Yet, we see operations going on here at the behest no doubt of the Government or of the National Capital Development Commission in defiance of a decision of this Parliament about the authority of this Parliament and about the very site of this Parliament Neither incumbent of the offices of this Parliament raised one finger regarding that matter. Therefore, I believe that the Country Party candidate, supported as he may be by a minority Liberal Party, ought to be rejected and that the honourable member for Hunter ought to be the Chairman of Committees in this House.
- Mr Speaker, I rise to support the nomination of the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) as Chairman of Committees. I believe that the office of Chairman of Committees requires competence, dignity, understanding and impartiality. I am sure that the honourable member for Lyne possesses all these attributes. In addition, he has the experience of having acted in the capacity of Chairman of Committees in a number of previous Parliaments. He was always firm and fair in his decisions. I believe that at all times he had the confidence of the House. I know of no-one better qualified to fulfil the requirements of this office. I am sure that the honourable member for Lyne will be elected to the position and I am sure that he will discharge his duties of Chairman to the complete satisfaction of every member of the House.
– Mr Speaker-
Motion (by Mr Snedden) put-
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– Knowing the miserable character of some of the people in the Opposition and knowing that false accusations can now more easily be made against me I asked the honourable members on my left and on my right to witness my ballot this morning.
Mr DALY (Grayndler) - I, too, wish to make a personal explanation. I claim to have been misrepresented. In the course of the debate a few moments ago I appealed to the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin) to do as he did this morning and vote for Labor’s candidate. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) subsequently said that he knew for a fact that the member for Ballaarat-
– Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I would regard that remark by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) as being a personal reflection on me. I said nothing of the kind. I take the opportunity to speak now and give the honourable member for Grayndler an opportunity to withdraw the imputation he made against the member for Ballaarat without any evidence.
– I am delighted that the Prime Minister will now let me speak.
– Order! Is the honourable member asking for leave to make a statement, or does he claim to have been misrepresented?
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Mr DALY (Grayndler)- by leave- In the course of the debate on what was supposed to be a secret ballot for the election of Speaker this morning, and the subsequent one a few moments ago I made a statement. From memory, I believe I appealed to the honourable member for Ballaarat to do as he did this morning and support Labor’s candidate for the Chairmanship of Committees. Subsequently I understood the Prime Minister to say that the honourable member for Ballaarat did not vote for the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope). It was a secret ballot. The Prime Minister could prove that point only if he himself had defected and voted for our candidate in the secret ballot. It is a good point, is it not, Mr Speaker?
Let us get it quite clear. This was a secret ballot and no-one was supposed to know how anyone else voted. The Standing Orders demand this. So how would the Prime Minister or anybody else know how another member voted, if one vote was cast for the honourable member for Sydney by a member sitting opposite, unless he himself was that party? This is a strange situation. If the Prime Minister can say that the honourable member for Ballaarat did not vote for the honourable member for Sydney am I not entitled to say that the member did, because our judgments are on the same grounds? Neither of us knows how the honourable member voted. The only way in which the Prime Minister can disprove the statement I have made is by giving an assurance to this House that he himself was the defector, in which case I will immediately withdraw any statement made against the honourable member for Ballaarat because under no circumstances do I wish to do him an injustice. I am pleased to have made this explanation. The honourable member for Ballaarat assures me that he showed his vote in a secret ballot to others around him. It is strange that those who sit with a man of integrity and standing in the community do not trust him. That would not happen on this side of the Parliament. The point I make is that no member of the Opposition showed his vote to anyone. Opposition members are trustworthy men and they respect the secrecy of the ballot. If I have done an injustice to the honourable member for Ballaarat, I withdraw the imputation in the allegation. However I would like in return an assurance from the Prime Minister that he was the defector or at least that be knows who the defector was. In that way my mind will be put completely at rest and I will be satisfied that the integrity and reputation of the honourable member for Ballaarat have been temporarily salvaged.
– Briefly, because of the time factor, but nonetheless sincerely, I would like to express my appreciation to the House for having been given the privilege of continuing in the office of Chairman of Committees. I thank the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), the mover and the seconder of my nomination for the words they spoke. As I said on a previous occasion, the dignity of the House is not only in the hands of the Speaker, the Chairman of Committees and the Deputy Chairmen; it is also in the hands of every honourable member. In this circumstance, I suggest to honourable members that we give this some earnest consideration. Sir, I again express my very warm appreciation and congratulations to you on being elected to your high office and say quite sincerely that it has been my pleasure and privilege to have served under Archie Cameron, Sir John McLeay and yourself. I look forward to being associated with you in the 3 years that lie ahead.
– I wish to extend my congratulations to the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) on his election to this important office and, if I may, to congratulate honourable members, both those on the Government side and those on the Opposition side, on having obtained the services of such an experienced, unbiased and obviously excellent Chairman of Committees as they have chosen on this occasion.
– On behalf of my Party I would like to congratulate the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) on being elected again as Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker. The honourable gentleman has held this office longer than anyone has in the history of this chamber. He has had very great experience in it. If you do not mind my saying so, Mr Speaker, where his rulings differ from yours we believe he is correct I can praise him in no more warm terms.
– I join with the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in congratulating the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) on being successful in the ballot for the position of Chairman of Committees. It has been pointed out that the honourable member has had considerable experience in the position. I think we all agree that he has, but there was a time when he had no experience as Chairman of Committees just as the Prime Minister before he was first elected to his office had no experience of the responsibilities he now has. The Australian Labor Party believed that the nomination of the honourable member should be challenged. He has carried out his work with a reasonable degree of efficiency. On numerous occasions he has been firmer probably harsher than you have, Mr Speaker. I do not think he has ever intended to wound, but in discharging his function as Chairman of Committees he has done considerable bruising.
I assure the House that I did not challenge him for this honourable position because he prevented me from wearing a safari jacket in the House. On the occasion I wore the jacket I had a skin infection and I was acting under medical instructions to wear light clothing. Far be it from me to challenge the honourable member for the position because of what might be regarded as a minor matter, although I was inconvenienced at the time. The honourable member for Lyne won the position by a narrow majority. He is not used to winning positions or political honours by narrow majorities and I am not used to being defeated for political positions by narrow majorities. Our electorates are not far apart but his constituents follow a different political ideology to mine, probably for similar reasons. His people rise early in the morning to milk cows and my people rise early to dig coal. My people do not enjoy sufficient of the sunshine that his people get. Down through the ages my people have rightly tagged their political affiliations to the Australian Labor Party so that they will be enabled to enjoy more of God’s sunshine of which the honourable member for Lyne, as a preacher, must be aware. Hence the difference in the political ideologies of his people and mine. He represents a very rich rural area.
-Order! The purpose of the honourable member’s speech this afternoon is to offer congratulations and I suggest that the honourable member confine himself to this purpose.
– As a disciplined man, Mr Speaker, I will endeavour to abide by your ruling. The honourable member for Lyne represents a rich rural area extending from Raymond Terrace, through Taree to Kempsey where cattle graze peacefully, where the ground is permeated with natural humus, where mushrooms prosper and where a very lucrative industry could be developed.
-Order! If the honourable member transgresses again I will ask him to resume his seat.
– In conclusion, Mr Speaker, the votes polled by the Opposition’s candidate for the position of Chairman of Committees were greater than have been recorded in this Parliament for many years. I am grateful to those who supported me from this side and to those on the Government side who would like to have supported me.
– As the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen), who is the Leader of the Australian Country Party, is temporarily detained I, on behalf of the members of the Country Party, should like to congratulate the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) on being re-elected to the position that he has held in the Parliament for many years and in which he has distinguished himself. He is a man of great experience as Chairman of Committees. This appointment entails his being your deputy, Mr Speaker. I know that he would find it difficult to emulate the excellence of your performance but I must say that on the occasions when you have been overseas he has shown great experience at the commencement of the day’s sitting by the manner in which he has read the Lord’s Prayer. On behalf of the members of the Country Party I congratulate him and wish him well in his job.
MrFox, for the committee appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General (vide page 19), presented the proposed Address which was read by the Clerk.
– I move:
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General beagreed to:
We, the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Mr Speaker, in proposing this motion I should like to offer you my congratulations on your election as Speaker of this House. I also congratulate the Chairman of Committees on his election. As His Excellency’s Speech pointed out, the Parliament has been called together at this time to meet the requirements of. the Constitution, section 5 of which, in part, reads:
After any general election the Parliament shall be summoned to meet not later than 30 days after the day appointed for the return of writs.
The date appointed for return of writs for the recent election was 24th November. The Parliament therefore had to meet by 24th December 1969 at the latest.
Finally, in proposing this motion I should like to be personally associated with expressions of loyalty to the Queen. I am sure all honourable members are delighted that Her Majesty will be visiting us in the New Year.
– I second the motion and in so doing I associate myself with the congratulations offered to you, Mr Speaker, and to the Chairman of Committees. I also join with the mover of this motion in expressing my loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I have to inform the House that I have ascertained that His Excellency the Governor-General will be pleased to receive the Address-in-Reply at Government House at 15 minutes past 6 o’clock p.m. this day. I shall be glad if the mover and seconder, together with other honourable members, will accompany me to present this Address.
Sitting suspended from 5.26 to 8 p.m.
– I desire to inform the House that, accompanied by honourable members, I waited today upon His Excellency the Governor-General at Government House, and presented to him the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech on the opening of the first session of the Twenty-seventh Parliament, agreed to by the House today.
His Excellency was pleased to make the following reply:
Thank you for your Address-in-Reply which you have just presented to me.
It will be my pleasure and my duty to convey to Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen at once the Message of Loyalty from the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, to which the Address gives expression.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, the following members be appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works: Mr Corbett, Mr Fulton, Mr James, Mr L. R. Johnson, Mr Kelly and Mr Whittorn.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
That in accordance with the provisions of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1946-1960, in addition to Mr Speaker, ex officio, Mr Donald Cameron, Mr Sherry, Mr Turnbull, Mr Grassby and Mr Drury be members of the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
That in accordance with the provisions ofthe Public Accounts Act 1951-1966 the following members be appointed members of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts: Mr Collard, Mr Cope, Mr Graham, Mr Hurford, Mr Jarman and Mr Robinson.
– by leave - I move:
That a joint committee be appointed to-
With the exception of the power to meet during the sittings of either House, which has been deleted, the motion reconstitutes the committee with powers and functions similar to those possessed by the committee at the close of the last Parliament. In addition, the committee is empowered to consider and to make use of the minutes of evidence and records of the previous committee in relation to its unfinished inquiry into the milk industry in the Australian Capital Territory.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - I move:
That, having in mind proposals for the erection of a new and permanent Parliament House (in this resolution referred to as ‘the Parliament building*) and in that connection the need to examine the efficiency or otherwise of working arrangements in the present Parliament House and any changes in those arrangements that may seem to be desirable, a Joint Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report on -
library facilities, and catering and other facilities and services in the Parliament building for Members of the Parliament and others;
communication services; and
That the committee consist of -
Mr Speaker, this motion, if agreed to, will re-establish the committee so that it can complete its inquiry. The motion is in terms similar to that moved at the commencement of the previous Parliament and as amended by subsequent resolutions to provide that the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party in the Senate be members of the Committee. The motion gives the new committee power to consider and to make use of the minutes of evidence and records gathered by previous Committees.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - Mr Speaker, I move:
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon -
Mr Speaker, the motion, if agreed to, will re-establish the committee so that it can further its inquiry. The motion reconstitutes the committee with powers and functions similar to those possessed by the committee at the close of the last Parliament. In addition, it gives the new committee power to consider and make use of the minutes of evidence and records of the previous committee.
– The motion has not been circulated.
– The Leader of the Opposition says that the motion has not been circulated.
– It was circulated during the day.
– A copy of the motion for the appointment of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory has just been circulated. We have not yet received a copy of the motion for the appointment of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. Where is the motion for the appointment of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise?
– It is in the same terms as the other motions, with the exception of the motion for the appointment of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House which includes the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. The motion was circulated. I am afraid that I am unable to put a copy of the motion in the hands of the Leader of the Opposition.
Honourable members may not have heard the passage between the Leader of the Opposition and myself. The Leader of the Opposition indicated that he had not received the papers which had been circulated in my name. I apologise to him, although I think an apology is really unnecessary, because it was not within my power to arrange for that to be done. I see that copies of the motion are now being distributed. The Leader of the Opposition may be able to take the indulgence of the House for a moment while he glances at it.
– I will give leave to move the motion for the appointment of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise.
– The motion has already been moved. The question is, that the motion be agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr Whitlam) proposed:
That the following new paragraph be added to the motion: 9 (A) That the Committee have power to inquire into and report upon the development of major airports.’
– The Government is unwilling to accept the amendment. The House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise was set up for the purpose of inquiring into aircraft noise. It was specifically constituted for that purpose. It has been operating for more than a year - for the better part of 18 months. It has contributed some reports. It is quite clearly a committee which should be continued in the interests of the resolution of business by this Parliament. What the Leader of the Opposition now suggests is to put in an entirely new term of reference which would have no relation to noise as such but which would have relation to the question of the building and development of new airports. While that is an issue which may be pursued by the Opposition at any time it wishes to do so, quite clearly it is quite inappropriate for this committee, which is a continuing committee, to have a major new term of reference added at this stage to the terms which ought to be continued. The Government will not accept the amendment and will vote against it.
-Is there a seconder to the amendment?
– I second the amendment.
– May I have leave to speak to the amendment? I moved it only formally, previously.
– Leave is granted.
– I thank honourable members. The Opposition certainly does not object to the re-establishment in this Parliament of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise which was operating in the last Parliament. This Committee was set up in the last Parliament on the initiative of the Government after a private member on the Government side had moved for a select committee to be set up to inquire into and report upon the development of major city airports in Australia. After the Government had moved to set up an aircraft noise committee the private Government member who had moved for this select committee withdrew his motion. Thereupon my colleague, the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), moved in the same terms to set up such a committee.
The Opposition believes that the work of the Aircraft Noise Committee would be more fruitful, positive and constructive if the Committee were enabled to consider this extra matter which had first occurred to a Government private member and which had then been pursued in the last Parliament by the Opposition. To inquire into aircraft noise alone is to deal not with the causes but with the effects. Aircraft noise will be an increasing problem, particularly in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, until the basic question of where further airports must be constructed has been settled. Certainly cities of the size of Sydney and Melbourne in other parts of the world already have two airports. It is very likely that cities the size of Brisbane will have two airports, these being international airports with facilities for increasing numbers of tourists from overseas.
In these circumstances the Opposition believes that the work of the Aircraft Noise Committee would be extended and would be more constructive if the Committee were able to inquire into the whole problem. Just to dampen noise by extending runways into bays and by restricting hours of operation is not getting to the basic problem, which will become more and more severe. Sooner or later a committee of this kind will have to look into the siting of airports in general. The Public Works Committee, representing, of course, members from both sides of each chamber, already has referred on many occasions to the difficulty of accommodation at our major airports. If the Aircraft Noise Committee is to inquire into the effects of aircraft noise, surely we should take the opportunity of inquiring into the causes. Accordingly, the Opposition presses the amendment which I have moved.
– Could I have the amendment in writing, signed by the Leader of the Opposition? The question now is: That the amendment be agreed to.
– I *ink that the arguments and suggestions put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) have some superficial appeal but that it is only a superficial appeal. The question of the siting of major airports in the future is clearly going to be of great concern to the people of Australia and to those who live in the capital cities which are at present served by overseas or local airlines. But the purpose of the Committee set up by this House was not to examine where in the future airports should go; rather was it to seek to alleviate the nuisance caused to people living in heavily built-up areas by existing aerodromes and by aircraft using those existing aerodromes. It was sought to examine the question of the hours during which aircraft should arrive at or depart from these aerodromes in heavily built-up areas so that people living near them would have some opportunity at least to sleep without being disturbed by the whine of jet engines so close over their rooftops. It was sought also to find out what was happening abroad and what should happen here and what suggestions could be made for reducing the noise of jet aircraft in flight, and to see what could be done to reduce the nuisance caused by the testing of jet aircraft in testing bays near built-up areas.
The purpose of this inquiry was to seek to alleviate nuisance caused to people near existing aerodromes, and this I think should continue to be its purpose. To mix that requirement up with a far wider requirement of where new aerodromes should be built would seem to me to lose sight of the first thing that is required - the thing that the Committee was empowered to inquire into and recommend on - and that is, how best to help people living near existing major aerodromes in heavily populated areas and how best to see that they are not disturbed as they have been disturbed by aircraft using these existing aerodromes. I would believe that this is a valuable inquiry. It is an inquiry which perhaps the House may expect to have a report upon before very long, and to widen it as suggested by the Leader of the Opposition would be to enter into a completely new field and to postpone that report and to postpone any action the Parliament might be able to take to alleviate a nuisance at present existing to people in these areas. So for those reasons we would not wish to accept this amendment.
– In speaking to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) let me say, as the seconder of the amendment and as a member of the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, that if this
Committee were to proceed with the present terms of reference it would only be tickling the tummy of the problem and it would not be getting down to the real question which is whether the airports are located in the correct positions. I mention only four of the major city airports in Australia - Adelaide, Sydney, Tullamarine and Brisbane - without referring to the secondary or general aircraft fields. People are most unhappy with the location of Parafield airport in Adelaide. I could go on and mention quite a number of other airports, but I will only deal with the major airports.
– And Newcastle.
– At this point of time there is no great problem with the airport at Williamtown.
– You want an airport.
– I want an airport at Newcastle; that is perfectly true. Now that there is a new Minister for Civil Aviation I hope there will be a different approach to the matter. Let me come back to what I was dealing with before the interjections. The Prime Minister does not suggest for one second that the airport at Adelaide is located in the correct position. He does not suggest that this Committee will wave a magic wand and remove the problem overnight. In the time that I have been a member of this Committee - I have not missed many meetings - it has become fairly obvious to me that an extraordinary technical development of aircraft engines will be required to overcome the problem of noise associated with the West Beach Airport.
– Would you move Mascot?
– It may be that the Prime Minister can give us an answer to the people’s problems arising from any approach to Mascot. The instrument landing system is now creating problems around Hunters Hill, West Ryde and other places. Previously they were not worried by the aircraft. But aircraft are getting bigger and more noisy and the result is that more and more people are becoming affected by aircraft noise. Now it does not matter which way the wind blows, or from which direction aircraft approach Mascot airport. Aircraft noise will cause continuing problems to the people who reside in the neighbourhood. This problem will be experienced even by those who live at the southern end of the airport. All that the extension of the runway into Botany Bay will do will be to create a problem on the southern side of Botany Bay where residential development is taking place. This Government has dithered for too long with the problem of an alternative airport for Sydney. Is an alternative airport going to be selected? These are the things I believe this Committee should now be empowered to investigate. We should know whether Mascot should be allowed to remain, to be expanded as an international airport or to be shifted to some other site. This is why I believe the amendment should be accepted by the Government.
Tullamarine airport is being built on a completely new site. At the time this site was selected it was reasonably remote from residential areas. But what has been the result since the site was selected and the airport has been in the process of construction? Day by day more and more residences are being erected adjacent to the airport. These are things that the Government has not taken the necessary precautions to prevent. As to Brisbane airport there are proposals to extend the runways and to construct new runways. But this work will create new problems as far as people are concerned. As we see it the Government wants to keep the selection of airport sites to itself. Once again this is an example of the Cabinet and the Ministry retaining the power instead of allowing members of this Parliament - the representatives of the people most affected by the decisions - to make some decisions and to investigate and make recommendations to the Government. That is why I feel that the amendment should be accepted.
Not only are the capital cities affected. This problem is experienced in other places. An example here is Townsville. Whilst the Committee did not investigate the problem of aircraft noise at Townsville it has been assured privately by members of the Royal Australian Air Force that aircraft noise is a problem there. We have been told that this is a problem because houses are being built under the flight paths and that a new site should be selected at Townsville. The Committee may be able to make some minor recommendations and suggest some minor amendments regarding noise. 1 believe that the flight patterns which have already been introduced have given some people some relief, but they have not solved the problem. This is the way things are going so far as the Committee is concerned. The real solution is to move the airports to other sites. Therefore, the Committee which is investigating the problem of noise should have the power to make recommendations to the Parliament on where airports should be located.
– I am very disappointed indeed, speaking as the representative of an area which is subject to aircraft noise, to hear the terms of this amendment. I believe that the amendment would only serve to cause procrastination and put off virtually indefinitely the submission of what many people have been hoping would be a substantive answer to technical problems and urgent problems regarding airports. I speak of airports that are there and are going to stay there for a long time to come. I believe that people who live near Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport and many others we could mention, where there is a grievous problem - indeed an urgent problem requiring solution - are looking to the deliberations of this Committee for a real and reasonable answer. To suggest that there should be merged with this investigation a disguised attempt to take away the prerogative of government with regard to the whole question of the future of the activities of the Department of Civil Aviation would be to place into this Committee’s hands the making of a decision which would be partly based upon the technical facts of airport noise and aircraft noise amelioration. But surely this Committee must first come to its conclusions and then those very conclusions can be used to determine the site of future airports. To do otherwise is, I believe, putting the cart before the horse. We want to hear the answers to the questions that have been before the Twentysixth Parliament. We want to have them answered quickly. People who are subjected to these noises are looking for a solution. We do not want to be bedevilled with the kinds of problems that are suggested by this amendment, which coul’d only mean indefinite procrastination in arriving at a solution.
On behalf of my constituents I hope that we will go right ahead with the good job that has been initiated and find a speedy answer. I am sure that my constituents and those of many other honourable members are looking to this Committee for a solution to the present problems and are not despairing like the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), who says that the real question is location and that we are not going to get an answer at all for Sydney and other places. I believe that there are technological answers, that possibly there are ameliorating factors and that the Committee is moving towards them. Give it a go to bring back an answer to this House.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority ….. . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the words proposed to be added (Mr Whitlam’s amendment) be added.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
That, in addition to Mr Speaker, the Chairman of Committees, the Leader of the House and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, ex officio members, the following members be members of the Standing Orders Committee, five to form a quorum, viz.: Mr Gorton, Mr McEwen, Dr Everingham, Mr Scholes, Mr Drury, Mr Bryant and Mr Duthie.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
That Mr Whitlam, Mr McLeay, Mr Jarman. Mr Allan Fraser, Mr McIvor, Mr Donald Cameron, Mr Turnbull, Mr Crean and Mr Drury be members of the Committee of Privileges, five to form a quorum.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
That, in addition to Mr Speaker, ex officio, Mr Whittorn, Mr Turner, Mr Cross, Mr Robinson, Mr Luchetti and Mr Bryant be members of the Library Committee.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
That, in addition to Mr Speaker, ex officio, Mr J. R. Fraser, Mr Garland, Mr McIvor. Mr Katter, Mr Drury and Mr Hansen be members of the House Committee.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
That Mr Hamer, Dr Solomon, Mr Corbett, Mr Graham, Mr L. R. Johnson, Mr Foster and Mr Keogh be members of the Printing Committee.
Dr GUN presented from certain citizens of Australia a petition showing that, whereas State and Federal Government financial allocations for State Education systems are demonstrably inadequate to meet the needs of this system, and whereas the shortage of suitable Infant, Primary, Secondary and Special Schools is a direct consequence of the inadequacy of Government funds allocated for these purposes, your Petitioners humbly express their grave concern and dissatisfaction that whilst these conditions exist, the State and Federal Governments have made increased amount of Government monies available to private schools to support a separately endowed system of education and to promote sectarian forms of teaching with its divisive effects upon the Australian people.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, will immediately allocate additional Commonwealth Government funds on the basis of $35 per annum for each primary student and$50 per annum for each secondary student attending State schools, to assist the State education system in its objective to provide free compulsory and secular education for all, in accordance with the requirements of the State education act.
Petition received and read.
Mr ALLAN FRASER presented from certain citizens of Australia a petition showing that due to higher living costs, including increasing charges for health services, most aged persons living on fixed incomes are suffering acute distress; that Australia is the only English-speaking country in the world to retain a means test for aged pensioners and that a number of European countries also have no means test; that today’s aged persons have paid at least7½% of their taxable incomes towards social services since the absorption, of special social services taxation in income tax and continue to make such payments. (7i% of all taxable incomes for 1966-67 amounted to 5783,082,150 and this year will produce more than $800,000,000, more than sufficient to abolish the means test immediately.); that the middle income group, the most heavily-taxed sector of the community, subsidises the tax commitment of the upper income bracket through the amount of social services contributions collected by the government and not spent on the purposes for which they were imposed; that the abolition of the means test will give a boost to the economy by (1) additional tax revenue from pensions, (2) swelling the work force, and (3) increased spending by pensioners; and that it is considered just and right to allow people who have been frugal, have lived their lives with dignity and have been anything but an encumbrance on the nation, to maintain that dignity to the end of their lives free from fear of penury.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to abolish the means test for all people who have reached retiring age or who otherwise qualify for social service benefits or pensions.
Petition received and read.
Mr DRURY presented from certain electors of the Commonwealth a petition showing that it is the cherished right and heritage of the Australian people to live as free men and women, to enjoy full liberty of speech, of assembly, of choice, of worship or of belief, and to continue in their tradition of true parliamentary democracy, and in the face of innumerable acts of aggression, subversion, riots and revolutions bringing menace ever closer to these shores, such freedoms cannot be preserved without adequate means to defend them, and Australia today is gravely deficient in its defence resources, thus inviting attack in the near future on the one hand, and undermining confidence amongst her real allies and friendly neighbours on the other hand.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives will take all urgent measures for greatly increased defence. with absolute priority to the following: (a) An unparalleled opportunity exists for the acquisition, preferably by outright purchase, of the British Far Eastern Carrier Fleet, or the bulk of it, which, destined otherwise to be scrapped in probably less than two years, would be available at only a fraction of the cost normally payable. At least two of the aircraft carriers have been just recently completely modernised and refitted, new and up-to-date Phantom airplanes delivered to them, and full crews and complements properly trained and operational and already resident in the South-East Asian area, together with their families, so that Australia cannot afford to neglect such a remarkable and economical opportunity, (b) With the arrival shortly of the undoubtedly magnificent Fill airplanes, it is vital for Australia to establish quickly her own large-scale aircraft manufacturing industry, so that essential support is given to the abovereferredto carrier fleet, in conjunction with further naval and air bases. Australia thus becomes far more selfsufficient for all defence requirements, and largely circumvents the serious dangers of urgent supplies from, say, America or Britain, being interrupted, delayed or blockaded at a critical moment. At the same time a ready market would be open to Australia for the supply and servicing of surplus aircraft and other equipment to her friends and allies in South-East Asia and elsewhere.
Petition received and read.
Mr DONALD CAMERON presented from certain electors of the Commonwealth a petition showing that it is the cherished right and heritage of the Australian people to live as free men and women, to enjoy full liberty of speech, of assembly, of choice, of worship or of belief, and to continue in their tradition of true parliamentary democracy, and, in the face of innumerable acts of aggression, subversion, riots and revolutions bringing menace ever closer to these shores, such freedoms cannot be preserved without adequate means to defend them, and Australia today is gravely deficient in its defence resources, thus inviting attack in the near future on the one hand, and undermining confidence amongst her real allies and friendly neighbours on the other hand-
Ths petitioners pray that the House of Representatives will take all urgent measures for greatly increased defence, with absolute priority to the following: (a) An unparalleled opportunity exists for the acquisition, preferably by outright purchase, of the British Far Eastern Carrier Fleet, or the bulk of it, which, destined otherwise to be scrapped in probably less than 2 years, would be available at only a fraction of the cost normally payable. At least two of the aircraft carriers have been just recently completely modernised and refitted, new and up-to-date Phantom airplanes delivered to them; and full crews and complements properly trained and operational and already resident in the South-East Asian area, together with their families, so that Australia cannot afford to neglect such a remarkable and economical opportunity, (b) With the arrival shortly of the undoubtedly magnificent Fi ll airplanes, it is vital for Australia to establish quickly her own large-scale aircraft manufacturing industry, so that essential support is given to the above-referred-to carrier fleet, in conjunction with further naval and air bases. Australia thus becomes far more selfsufficient for all defence requirements, and largely circumvents the serious dangers of urgent supplies from, say, America or Britain, being interrupted, delayed or blockaded at a critical moment. At the same time a ready market would be open to Australia for the supply and servicing of surplus aircraft and other equipment to her friends and allies in South-East Asia and elsewhere.
– Mr Speaker, I give notice that at the next sitting I will move:
That the Government should be censured because the Governor-General’s Speech shows that the Government will place no business before the Parliament in this session.
– Mr Speaker, I think that the House will realise that the giving of this notice by the Leader of the Opposition in fact is an indication of a censure motion on the Government. Indeed, this is contained in the words which he uses, and as is the usual practice nobody could expect the Government not to accept this as a censure motion. Since it is a censure motion, then it should be proceeded with straight away.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
Thai so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition moving forthwith ihe motion of censure of which he has given notice for the next sitting and such motion taking precedence of all other business until disposed of.
– Mr Speaker, 1 move:
That the Government should be censured because the Governor-General’s Speech shows that Ihe Government will place no business before the Parliament in this session.
Sir, the GovernorGeneral issued a proclamation 13 days ago requiring us to assemble for the dispatch of divers, urgent and important affairs. These ‘divers urgent and important affairs’ turn out to be the swearing in of members and the election of a Speaker. The Governor-General’s Speech, in fact, was the shortest for 52i years. The twenty-one gun salute look longer than the 75-second speech. The traditional adjuration and peroration in such speeches read as follows:
I now leave you to the discharge of your high and important duties, in Ihe faith that Divine Providence will guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth.
This would have been too ironical for use by His Excellency, already embarrassed at being the medium for such a message. He therefore cut it down today to this form:
I now leave you in the faith that Divine Providence will always guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of Australia.
Over the past 2 years we have seen this Parliament treated with growing contempt. We have become used to the suppression or gagging of debates. We have seen it even today. We have seen legislation reduced to a trickle of trivia. Yet even the most hardbitten among us could scarcely have believed that we would see this Parliament brought to this level of farce today.
There arc two requisitions in the Constitution concerning the sitting of the Parliament. One is as follows:
There shall bc a session of the Parliament once at least in every year, so that twelve months shall not intervene between the last sitting of the Parliament in one session and its first sitting in the next session.
There is another requirement in these terms:
After any general election the Parliament shall be summoned to meet not later than thirty days after the day appointed for the return of the writs.
The Government has turned the meaning and intention of this latter section upside down. It has circumvented the Constitution. The section is in the Constitution to protect the Parliament and to ensure that the verdict of the people at a general election is properly carried out. instead, it is being used to protect only the Executive - to protect the Executive from the Parliament which the people elected a month ago. This is a situation utterly without precedent.
Just before the election we had the shortest Budget debate and the shortest Budget session on record. Only for the third time did we have an election as early as October. On those earlier occasions the Parliament at least sat for 15 and 7 days respectively before Christmas. For his own purposes of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) exercised his prerogative to hold the election at a time of his sole choice. His sense of timing is indicated by the election result. But the fact remains that as a result of his decision no Bills of any importance, except Bills to effectuate the Budget proposals, were brought down before the Parliament in this year’s Budget session. Indeed, onethird of the time of the Budget session was taken up by Opposition urgency motions.
Now we have to believe that there was no legislation ready to come before the Parliament. One wonders then what would have happened, and how would we have filled in our time had the session run to anything like the normal length - to November or, as very frequently happens, to December. Instead, having had this shortest Budget session on record we are now to have in practice the longest recess on record. Even in the one instance where the Parliament has previously met for only 1 day, in June 1917, the Parliament passed Supply that day and came back for a second session 9i weeks after the election. This Parliament will not come back for a substantive session for at least 18 weeks after the election. Except for today’s formal perfunctory sitting, 5 months will have elapsed between the end of the last session in September and the beginning of the next - assuming that it is in February. This will be the longest hiatus in Federal sessions in our history.
This absurd situation certainly reflects the arrogance of the reprieved Liberal Government and the contempt in which its Leader holds the Parliament. But that is only part of the picture, for even more so it reflects the lazy incompetence of this Government. Only a grossly lazy and grossly incompetent Government could confess that it had no legislation to place before the Parliament 4i weeks after a general election, 7 weeks after the presentation of its policy speech and at least 9 weeks after the proposals contained in the policy speech were submitted to the previous Cabinet - at least, one assumes they were submitted to the Cabinet. It is true enough that delays of 4 or 7 or 9 weeks are modest in the time scale of this Government. A second year has passed and a second Governor-General has come, but there are matters promised in the last Governor-General’s Speech still awaiting redemption.
For instance, there was to be a dairy industry reconstruction scheme. The Government never permitted even a debate on the ministerial statement which was made on this matter. There was to be a federal supreme court. There was to bc legislation on the 1963 convention regarding the hijacking of aircraft. Most significantly of all, there was to be action on Sir Leslie Melville’s inquiry into Public Service superannuation. Sir Leslie reported early in February last year, which is after the present Prime Minister succeeded to his position. The right honourable gentleman sat on the report until September this year. The report has yet to be published. However, the Prime Minister made a statement on it on the second last day of the Budget session. That was one of his great dramatic pre-election gestures. The proposal conferred a very limited benefit on a very limited number in a limited section of the Australian work force. On the same day every Liberal and Country Party member voted against our proposal for an inquiry into Australia’s proposals and into overseas practices on national superannuation for all citizens.
But however limited the Government’s proposal may be. it is clearly desirable a« far as it goes. In making his announcement on 25th September the Prime Minister said:
The Commonwealth’s superannuation legislation will require amendment to implement these decisions and we intend to seek legislative authority to give them effect at the earliest practicable date.
Why is this legislation not before us now? This is the earliest time. This surely must be a practical time. Or are we asked to believe that no legislation even yet has been drafted on a proposal about which a former Governor-General said on 12th March last year that Sir Leslie Melville’s report:
They cannot come down now until, at the earliest, 2 years after Lord Casey made that pronouncement on behalf of the new Gorton Government. No wonder the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr J. R. Fraser) has been returned with the largest majority in Australia.
I come then to legislation passed last year. Honourable gentlemen will remember that in his policy speech the Prime Minister announced that his Government had enacted the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Act. That was last November. At the same time the Government gave an assurance that it would give close attention to the companion Bill dealing with nonliving resources of the Great Barrier Reef. I ask honourable members to notice the Prime Minister’s words. He said that the former Bill had been enacted. So it was. He did not tell the people of northern Australia that the Bill has not yet been brought into operation. No regulations have been made under it. No proclamation has been made. The latter Bill has not yet been introduced. Can anyone dispute that the peril to our off-shore resources is greater than it was a year ago?
I come now to those pronouncements foreshadowing legislation in the Budget session. In the same election eve climate as he made his announcement on the Public Service superannuation the Prime Minister announced that the Commonwealth would give assistance to Queensland for the construction of a power house in central Queensland. The record majority of the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) and the 6% swing to Labor candidates throughout Queensland show what the people of that State thought of a proposal by which they will pay SI 00m interest on an S80m loan on the most onerous terms under which the Commonwealth has financed any public work for 40 years. Nevertheless, the present Government is committed to it. Because of the urgency of increasing the supply and reducing the cost of power in Queensland the Queensland Government had put the best face it could on the proposal. Where is the appropriate States grants legislation? When will we be able to debate it? When will we be able to get an explanation why these onerous and unjust terms have been imposed on Queensland? They are heavier than the terms that have been imposed on any State for any power or conservation project for same decades.
That was one development project that was actually announced to the Parliament before the election. Now I come to those that were announced in the Government’s policy speech after the Parliament rose. These were matters which it suited the Prime Minister to keep for his policy speech. He promised extension and expansion of the water resources development programme. A sum of $100m is to be made available over 5 years for flood prevention and mitigation. That is half the amount which will come back from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority during the same quinquennium. Even in the few weeks since he delivered his policy speech, at least Sim worth of damage has been done in the Hawkesbury River area by flooding. The New South Wales Flood Mitigation Act expired last June. In 1964 and again in May and August this year the New South Wales Premier, a member of the Liberal family, requested the extension of that Act for another 5 years and for it to cover another five rivers, including the Hawkesbury. Is New South Wales to wait till the next Federal Budget, for another year, for another flood, for another $lm loss? Is there a single reason why legislation of this sort could not have been brought down now before Christmas? Would there have been any contention or delay about passing it?
The Prime Minister’s policy speech was a very thin document indeed, but thin as it was it did contain proposals to which the Government is now committed. Almost all of them will require some legislation. Others are so vague that they would defy any draftsman to put them into legislative form. But even those proposals require at least some explanation. The explanation could and should come in the form of ministerial statements, and the time for such statements is now. The right honourable gentleman promised the standard rate pension for married pensioners separated by failing health. Do these people have to wait till the next Budget? They certainly will have to wait till next year. Is his promise of a SI subsidy for every 10 meals provided by the Meals on Wheels organisation to wait till the next Budget? This subsidy will certainly not apply in time for Christmas. It cannot be introduced before next year.
Of all the Prime Minister’s promises none stands more completely and urgently in need of explanation than his proposals on health. I doubt whether ever in the history of federal elections a government has placed such vague, half baked and misleading proposals before the electors - indeed, so misleading as to be fraudulent. No subject was so fully canvassed as was health insurance last year. No proposal ever put forward by an opposition was so closely scrutinised as our proposals on this subject. Except to denigrate our proposals the Prime Minister remained silent on health, and the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) followed the same course. Only one of the forty-two recommendations of the Nimmo Committee’s report has been accepted, and that recommendation has been accepted only partially. The Prime Minister produced in his policy speech a proposal which said:
Commonwealth medical benefits and fund benefits will be increased so that the difference between the benefit and entitlements and the common fee charged by doctors will not at any time exceed $5 even for the most complicated and costly surgical procedures. For simpler procedures which are less expensive, the difference between the benefits and the doctors’ common fees will be very much less.
As the campaign proceeded, the full significance of these proposals - at least their significance to contributors and taxpayers - was revealed. Stapled into the back of the printed policy speech of the right honourable gentleman is a supplementary statement on health, lt was not disclosed to the Press on the day of delivery of the speech. Its existence was revealed in Perth the day after. The supplementary statement reads:
In most States these increases will not exceed 5c a week for a single person and 10c a week for a family contributor to the highest table available.
In New South Wales where doctors’ charges are higher than in other States, an increase of 7c and 15c a week respectively for family contributors will be necessary.
Then comes the punch line:
In order to simplify the scheme, and to ensure an adequate coverage for contributors, only one medical table will be available in each State when the new arrangement commences.
Note the smooth wording: ‘ … to ensure an adequate coverage for contributors’. Here is the Liberal voluntary principle in action. Under the Liberal scheme people have to contribute to one of the 114 funds to qualify for the Commonwealth benefit. Hundreds of thousands of contributors, in fact 40% of all contributors, in poor or modest circumstances contribute to the lower tables so that they will at least qualify for the Commonwealth benefit. Under the new Liberal proposals they will be obliged - ‘compelled’ is the proper word - to go onto the top table, because it will be the only table. It will be voluntary, of course. They will not have to contribute to it, but if they do not contribute to it they will not get any Commonwealth supplement at all. These proposals, which will mean increased contributions of up to 100% for many contributors, were never produced in this Parliament, where they should have been debated and exposed. They were not even produced in the main body of the Government’s policy speech. They were not made available for publication or comment with the policy speech. Lord Melbourne would have said: ‘It was a damn dishonest act’.
But the proposals on benefits were more misleading than the proposals on contributions. The impression that the Prime Minister wanted to give was that no surgery, however complicated, would cost more than $5. In truth, no surgical procedure will cost more than $5. That is a very different thing indeed. The Press tried to obtain an explanation of the proposals. In Adelaide the Prime Minister was asked at a Press conference how the proposals would be implemented. This was his answer:
On the other hand, the Australian Medical Association agrees with us, or I believe, will agree with us, that it is its policy and it will be its policy to inform patients who ask what the common fee is and what their own fee is so that a patient will know whether he is going to be operated on, if that’s what it is, on the basis of the common fee or not.
– Who said this?
– The Prime Minister.
– Surely he did not say that.
– He did say it. The statement was repeated in the Liberal Caucus yesterday by the honourable member for Casey (Mr Howson). To put it at its lowest, something remains to be explained. Why is it not being explained during this session? It may be inexplicable to the Liberal caucus, but at least the Parliament is entitled to an explanation. We may ponder on it for the whole 5 months and be none the wiser. The day the Prime Minister made that statement in Adelaide the Minister for Health also was in Adelaide. He is one of the Liberals who is still there. Indeed he was in the very building where the Prime Minister held his Press conference, but neither then nor during the rest of the campaign did he elaborate on the Government’s proposals. The public is entitled to know what these proposals mean and what they will involve. The people are entitled to know when the new scheme will come into operation. The public and honourable members are entitled to know how far the proposal depends on negotiations with the Australian Medical Association and what stage those negotiations have reached, if indeed they have begun.
Why should the public, patients and practitioners have to wait at least another 3 months before they even know what the proposals mean, much less know when they are to come into effect, if ever. We are led irresistibly to the conclusion that nobody in the Government, not the Prime Minister, not the Minister for Health, had the slightest real knowledge or understanding of the proposal and that it was thrown into the policy speech at the last moment because the Labor Party and the Nimmo Committee between them made health one of the key issues in the campaign, and because the Government had to head off the mounting public anger and frustration at this unjust, inequitable, ramshackle health scheme that it has foisted on the people of Australia.
Health was not the only subject on which there was plain deception. The only doctor in the Liberal Party in the last Parliament came from Queensland and he has now gone back to his practice. Four members of the Australian Medical Association have been recruited into the Australian Labor Party in this place. As I said, health was not the only subject on which plain deception was practised about increased fees and contributions. It is quite remarkable - and I am sure quite coincidental - how many fees and charges have risen since 25th October. For instance bank charges, third party insurance, municipal rates and hospital charges. It is quite coincidental that all these increases came out after 25th November. The steepest increases are to be in a field where the Commonwealth has almost total responsibility, and the certainly of these increases was known to the Government. I refer to the 20% increase in university fees and the 50% increase in fees for colleges of advanced education and technical colleges. That this eventuality was known to the Government is indicated by the premature announcement by the Premier of South Australia. He let the cat out of the bag. During the campaign, on 15th October, he indicated that there would be a 20% increase in fees for South Australian universities, and naturally enough to cushion the blow he further indicated that other Australian universities in the other States would be following suit. And so they have. No wonder the Prime Minister put the blame for his election losses on Mr Steele Hall.
Is not this unprecedented rise of 20% in university fees and 50% for colleges a proper subject for a ministerial statement and for a debate? After all, the Commonwealth subsidises by $1 every $1.80 increase in university fees. There is a built-in incentive for the State governments - under the Libera] scheme - to increase university fees, to put pressure on university senates and councils to increase their fees in order to attract an increased Commonwealth subsidy. Are not we entitled to know why more and more Australians of adequate talent but inadequate means are to be still further priced out of higher education? If the Prime Minister had held more public meetings during his campaign he would have been made well aware of the depth of feeling on university fees and he would not have so blandly and blithely denounced our proposals for free universities. But if the public had been aware of the fee rises that were being contemplated and which indeed, in the case of the University of Queensland, the University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney, the University of New England and the two South Australian universities, had already been requested by State governments before the election, the issue would have been even more explosive. Yet these fees will be in operation and another academic year will have begun before this Parliament will have an opportunity to debate this or any of the pressing matters related to Australian universities.
The crisis in education at all levels is an integral part of the whole crisis in CommonwealthState relations. I now come to matters which have been announced since the election and which clearly require legislation. During its most recent struggle over its leadership the Liberal Party discovered that of all things relations between the Commonwealth and the States were the cause of its electoral debacle. Never have there been so many repentant sinners. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon), then the Treasurer, even held a Press conference at his home after the Melbourne Cup. He and the Prime Minister were the only Ministers who did not attend the Cup meeting. At that conference the former Treasurer made the world shattering announcement that he was a federalist. That announcement still did not save him. Having got the green light that day from the Deputy Prime (Minister (Mr McEwen), the former Treasurer hoped to get a similar signal from the Premier of New South Wales. All the Premier of New South Wales said after the contenders had view with each other to profess their federalist orthodoxy was: ‘Now we’ve got them where we want them’. Mr Askin felt Obliged to point out that the former Treasurer had been even less sympathetic to the States than his chief rival, the Prime Minister. And of course the Premiers have not forgotten, as the former Queensland Premier, Sir Francis Nicklin, revealed, that it was on the advice and urging of the former Treasurer that the States followed the Western Australian example of imposing receipt taxes. Last week the Prime Minister met with the Premiers to discuss the immediate issue of the receipt taxes. Certain undertakings were given. There were to be further meetings between the Premiers before the next session of this Parliament. The Tasmanian Premier said last Sunday that it was proposed that the Premiers would present a united front towards the Commonwealth and the whole question of CommonwealthState financial relations.
Is this Parliament, which alone can authorise raisings from the principal revenue sources of this nation, not to have the opportunity to express any views on a matter which the Liberals themselves say was a crucial issue at the election? The Prime Minister has undertaken to collect the receipt taxes on behalf of the States if they are invalidated by the High Court of Australia. This Parliament will be expected to authorise such taxes to honour this undertaking which was given last week. Are we to be presented with yet another fait accompli next year without having had the opportunity to debate any aspect of CommonwealthState financial relations. What of the position of Queensland? Paragraph (ii) of section 51 of the Constitution, which section concerns taxation, states that the Commonwealth cannot discriminate between States or parts of States in the matter of taxation. If the Commonwealth collects the receipt taxes for some of the States, in effect imposing taxes on the States on behalf of the State governments, then it presumably will have to collect them in Queensland as well. It will impose a new retrospective tax on Queenslanders. What will be the position of the Commonwealth Government in these circumstances? We are entitled to know. The people of Queensland are entitled to know. We and they are entitled to know not in 3 or 4 months time but to know now.
As long ago as August 1967 the late Harold Holt promised a special and early conference on financial matters with the States. The present Prime Minister promised last year that this year the Liberals would hold a philosophy conference to discuss liberalism. The situation is quickly building up to a total impasse. The Premiers are to have a series of meetings together to work out their claims. They will come to Canberra having adopted fixed positions. Then the old dickering and bickering will start again. This is no way to achieve what the people are really concerned about - fair financing of efficient functions. If the functions of the States and local authorities are to be properly carried out and fairly financed, the national Government must accept a greater share of responsibility - particularly for schools, hospitals and cities. The Federal system will break down; our schools, hospitals and cities will continue to decline unless there is established a continuing process of consultation between the three tiers of government. The Liberal way has been to take Commonwealth initiatives in unrelated areas, to impose them on States on a take it or leave it basis. This has often amounted to a virtual blackmail of the States, which have been obliged either to subsidise superficially attractive projects to shore up the political standing of the Federal Liberals or at least to accept grants which bear no relation to overall needs and priorities in those fields which the Federal Liberals otherwise leave entirely to them. Is not this subject, both on the narrow aspect of implications of receipt tax and the broader aspect of CommonwealthStatemunicipal finances and functions, an appropriate and timely one for this present session of Parliament?
In view of the importance their various leaders say they place on CommonwealthState financial relations, one would have thought that the Liberals would be demanding a debate on this matter. Equally one would have thought that the Australian Country Party would be demanding early and full debates on the crisis in our great primary industries.. One would not expect the Liberals to urge these matters - this sectional Party now holds only nine seats outside the State capitals. The Labor Party holds twenty-four seats outside the State capitals but one would have expected the Country Party to seize every opportunity to raise and debate the deepening difficulties of the people they make special claim to represent - difficulties that will certainly increase over the next 3 months before we can have any Government business before the national Parliament. And is not the national Parliament the proper forum? Is not now the proper time? The Country Party has been bought off - another seat in fie Ministry is the price of its silence. So eager is the Country Party to participate in this conspiracy against the Parliament, to avoid any legislation or any debate at any cost, that it permits its latest ornament in the Cabinet to stay on lancecorporal pay - because to increase his pay to Cabinet level would have involved the passing of an amendment to the Ministers of State Act
Then there are the great issues of foreign affairs and defence - to use the phrase that punctuates Liberal propaganda like a magic incantation for all occasions. One might have expected even a newly installed Minister for Defence to give the House some clearer statement on the role of Learmonth than his leader’s definition of an operational base as ‘one which planes can fly into or out of, or stay there’. In view of its political importance to the Liberals, we might have expected the new Minister to make a statement on plans for Cockburn Sound. The Government and the people of Western Australia might be interested to know what consultation there is to be, and when it is to be, on Commonwealth co-operation in building the causeway to the Sound. While the campaign was actually under way Australian representatives, led by Sir Henry Bland, conferred in Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia, Singapore, Britain and New Zealand on further arrangements for the region, with, I understand, special emphasis on the role and command of the ah- force. Sir Henry, one of the ablest public servants this country has ever had will probably have retired by the next sitting - the next session. One would have wished that a ministerial statement on his latest and last negotiation on Australia’s behalf could be made before, not after, his retirement.
The new Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon) has not been noted for or fortunate in his contributions to the Parliament or national debate on that great and vast subject. During the campaign he wrote a long letter to the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ taking me to task for saying that he would not speak on defence or foreign policy outside his electorate. I concede that he spoke on it in his electorate because we had the senior intelligence officer from Vietnam standing against him. During the campaign the former Treasurer, the new Minister for External Affairs, was known for local consumption because of his service during the last war as Major McMahon. But I must confess I did the Minister an injustice. His letter reminded me that I had in fact heard him talking on the matter. It was on a national broadcast, and he was discussing the Liberal Party’s attitude to Australia’s participation in the Boer War. What we rather require to know is his attitude to the war in Vietnam. Would he still denounce cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam as treason as he did in his last speech on foreign affairs in November 1967? Does he still regard, as he did then, those who wish for the recognition of the National Liberation Front as a partner in peace negotiations as ‘wanting to see Communism triumphant in the whole of South East Asia’? The fact is that since the elections, President Nixon has made his most important statement of the war, his statement of 3rd November. Every important statement by the President of the United States since 1967 has been followed by a debate in this place, particularly President Johnson’s statement ceasing the bombing and recognising the National Liberation Front. President Nixon’s commitment to rapid and scheduled Vietnamisation of the war is just as important, but there is to be no debate.
During the campaign, the Prime Minister asserted that if there was an American timetable for withdrawal we would expect to be phased into it. On 3rd November President Nixon said that there was a timetable for withdrawal. He declined to specify it; but while the timetable is to retain flexibility, it is nonetheless a timetable. Yet what was the reaction of the Australian Government? An official denial that any timetable existed. The Press here in Canberra were briefed to describe the President’s statement as gloss’ for ‘home consumption*. In other words, it is the old story of Australian obstructionism - ‘the last Prime Minister to denounce negotiations’, the ‘treason’ of stopping the bombing, the ‘Communism’ of NLF recognition, ‘the things called peace talks’, and now the ‘gloss for home consumption’, every move towards escalation encouraged, every hopeful step resisted and resented and disparaged. And why? So that at all costs, whatever the cost in blood and prestige to the United States, whatever the disruption to the American political and social system, whatever the consequences to Vietnam and its crucified people, the Americans can be held as long as possible in force on the mainland of Asia. This is called resisting Communism; this is called being a good ally. Now these good allies have their official spokesman tell the world not to believe the President of the United States when he tells his people that he has a schedule for withdrawal. The same great and good allies tell the world not to believe the President, or for that matter his predecessor; when on behalf of the United States he offers nuclear guarantees under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
The real importance of President Nixon’s speech on 3rd November when stripped of its gloss for home consumption is that he reaffirmed the three cardinal points of American policy in the Pacific - firstly, that America will disengage from Vietnam as rapidly as possible1, secondly that Asians must provide the ‘manpower’ - the President’s word, not mine - for Asian defence; and thirdly, reaffirmed America’s nuclear guarantees. The Australian Government denounces or disbelieves the first and the last, and its garrison mentality impedes the achievement of the second.
This morning the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) referred to this place as a great international forum. I might say in passing that we can well do without the unctious pomposity and arrogance displayed by this Minister this morning as he tried to get on the wavelength of the future. But if, as the Minister says, this is a great international forum, what an example this Government has given over the past few weeks to nations in our region and to nations interested in seeing how established and experienced democracy works. We have witnessed the most naked and spiteful struggle for personal position ever to occur at the national level. It continues still. We saw displayed those special Liberal qualities, those qualities that have convinced them that they are indeed born to rule, those Liberal qualities of loyalty and decency and above all gallantry and chivalry. And today we have this parliamentary charade. An international forum, indeed! It is rather an example to any nation wishing to preserve the facade of parliamentary democracy while doing without Parliament. These proceedings not only make a mockery of Parliament itself but also make a mockery of the elections we have just been through. Those elections did not change the Government, but the people spoke, as clearly as the system would allow, in favour of real changes in the role and nature of government.
It is not so much the Prime Minister identifying the problems, as he said at his Canossa in Malvern in the electorate of Higgins; the people have already identified them for him. The people said quite clearly that they wanted their national government to take initiatives to provide the opportunities that in a modern society can only be provided by governments. Those opportunities in the Australian Federal system can only be provided if there is a sense of responsibility and some initiatives by the Federal Government, in most cases in consultation and co-operation with the States - the opportunity for a complete education, the opportunity for dignity in retirement, the opportunity for proper medical treatment, the opportunity to share in the nation’s wealth and resources, the opportunity for decent housing, and the opportunity for civilised conditions in our cities and centres. The proposals which we on this side of the House put forward were designed to create those opportunities, designed to see that the national Government did take the initiatives to provide those opportunities. As clearly as the electoral system allows, those proposals were endorsed by the people just as surely as they were denounced out of hand in every case by the Prime Minister. It is precisely because we believe it to be wrong that the people should be denied these opportunities indefinitely that we will eagerly seek any opportunity to bring down this discredited and discreditable government, the most unsteady and unstable government in the history of this nation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Is the motion seconded?
– Yes. I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.
– I had thought that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) was going to address himself to the substance of the motion which he moved, which complained that legislation was not being brought before this House this session. Instead, after only some halfhearted attempts to suggest some kind of legislation which he thought might be brought before the House he devoted himself almost entirely to a rehash of election policies on which he went to the people of this country, and election policies which were rejected by the people of this country, whatever he or those interjecting on his side may say. There is little point, surely, an election having just been held and his point of view having been presented, in hearing him present it all over again, having apparently learned nothing and forgotten nothing except to forget - perhaps on purpose - that on the subject of the health scheme concerning which he accused us of not being accurate and truthful he - quite deliberately, I believe - sought to mislead the Australian people and sought to pretend to them that they were not going to be charged an extra $138m a year in taxation, which in fact they were. If there are to be any suggestions of the kind that the Leader of the Opposition made on this matter then he is at the side of those suggestions where the misleading came from in the greatest extent.
What is the point of moving a motion of censure on the ground that legislation is not being brought down this session and then spending his time in trying to rehash a discredited health scheme, in trying to suggest that we are responsible in this Parliament for the raising of university fees and ought to debate that, he knows that they are a matter entirely under the jurisdiction of State parliaments and State governments and that those State parliaments and State governments would - I believe quite properly - greatly resent debates in this Parliament telling them what they should or should not do in exercising their own responsibilities? There was what we have come to expect - perhaps what we can expect to see in greater measure for a little while - what I think was a rather unworthy, schoolboyish, smartalecish attempt to talk about matters which do not affect the government of this country, to pick out individuals on this side of the House and to fall into the temptation, which the Leader of the Opposition never can resist, of being spitefully witty about them - at least in his own eyes. But what has that got to do with a motion put before this House suggesting that legislation should be brought down in this session?
This is a meeting of the Parliament, as the Governor-General’s Speech made abundantly clear, held to comply with the requirements of the Constitution. It has transacted formal business as it came here to transact formal business. It has enabled the important committees of Parliament such as the Public Works Committee, the Public Accounts Committee, and other statutory committees to be reappointed and to function during the recess to the benefit of the people of Australia. They would otherwise have been unable so to act. It would be unreasonable in the extreme to expect that in this session held for these formal purposes a legislation programme would be brought down, debated and passed by this House. It is 13 days only since a new and considerably reconstructed Ministry was sworn in as the Government. It is 31 days only since the election date. Quite clearly the timetable which the Constitution imposes on us and which requires us to have this meeting makes any suggestion that we should now immediately present a legislative programme and debate it and come to conclusions on it quite unreal, as I am quite certain the Leader of the Opposition himself knows that it is unreal.
Let us examine some of the arguments he put forward to try and bolster a case which he knows is unreal. There is to be, perhaps, a requirement for legislation to enable States to collect the stamp receipts duty. I say ‘perhaps’ because there will be no need for such legislation unless the High Court rules against the application that the States now have before it. So this is only a possible requirement for legislation. It is not before us now. Could we sit now and debate possible legislation which might be required but. which we do not know to be required? What point would there be in that?
There is a need - on this point I agree with the Opposition - to work out with the State Premiers a programme for the ensuing years of Commonwealth-State financial relations. Of course there is such a need. But are we to sit down here now before speaking with the State Premiers, before knowing what their proposals are, before considering those proposals, putting our own in return and reaching an agreement, and discuss an agreement that cannot be reached until those things of which I speak have taken place? What a fantastic suggestion. It is that before these talks have taken place, before agreement has been reached, before arrangements have been agreed upon between the governments of the States and the Commonwealth, and therefore before we know what we are debating, we should have a debate. Surely the proper course to follow is for these discussions to take place and for these arrangements and agreements to be entered into and then for a concrete programme to be brought before this Parliament which it can debate because it will know what it is and it will know what it is talking about.
– How long will that be?
– I am not prepared to answer the interjection as to how long it will be, but I am prepared to say to the honourable member that quite clearly we cannot do it now because before there is an agreement and an arrangement it is extremely difficult to suggest that that agreement or arrangement should be debated. I think even the Leader of the Opposition would probably agree, not openly but in his heart, that these are merely attempts to bolster a case for bringing legislation down in this session of Parliament, which he knows is a case that cannot properly be sustained.
The Leader of the Opposition left these questions and again entered on the field of defence and foreign affairs, on which he wishes to have continued debate. If I remember properly these matters were the subject of very considerable debate during the election campaign that has just concluded. There were then put before the Australian people by the Leader of the Opposition a number of specific suggestions - that we should withdraw all our forces from Malaysia and Singapore. This was a movement away from his previous policy statement that we should withdraw only ground forces but could leave aircraft and naval forces there. Apparently he finally reached that point. This was in direct and clear contradiction of our own proposal that we should remain there. That has been the subject of debate. What more now needs to be debated about it since it was a matter clearly in the forefront of the election campaign and a matter on which the Australian people, I believe, made up their minds at that time?
There were suggestions not that we should debate - because he has gone away from that - but that we should sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty before we know whether it is in or against Australia’s interests to do so. What is the point now of bringing that up again, since it has been so clearly stated and since the differences between the Parties are so clearly known? Why does he want now to debate it again? I am happy to do so, but let us not do it here, because he wants legislation here, but let us do it over the length and breadth of the countryside, as we have just concluded doing. On the question of a defence statement, I pointed out the short time that has elapsed since the new Ministry was sworn in. I would be prepared to say that I believe that when this House next meets there will be placed before it a defence paper which will enable the Leader of the Opposition to have that kind of debate which he said he wanted and to have it with much more meat and much more effectiveness than there would be if we sought to go along today with a rehashing of the debates of the last few weeks.
On the question of foreign affairs, perhaps one of the most important questions facing us in the years ahead, does he really expect that 13 days after the Minister is sworn in a new statement is to be presented to the House and to be debated today? 1 do not believe for one moment that he can expect that. There will be - let there be no mistake about this - ample opportunity to debate not only the question of Learmonth air base and our presence in theIndian Ocean, not only the question of the construction of naval facilities in Western Australia, but the whole question of where Australia is going in the next 5 years in the defence field, what kind of force she needs for what kind of tasks, and that will be within the framework of maintaining the troops we have in Malaysia and Singapore and maintaining our interest in seeking to defend that area. There will be no lack of proper opportunity for properly informed debate on those matters.
I come back to what I said at the beginning. What we have here tonight is not a real complaint that legislation is not being brought down in this session. All that we have here is that complaint used as a hook on which to hang a desire to have a general rehashing of those policies on which the Australian people made their verdict clear. As a result of espousing those policies we now sit here - in depleted numbers but we now sit on this side of the House. Since I believe that there is no real complaint that there is no legislation - it would be too silly if there were such a complaint - and since I see no benefit at all in rehashing the arguments that have been used in the weeks just past throughout the whole of Australia, I move:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Mr Whitlam’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Mr Speaker, I move:
That the House at its rising adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
– The Opposition will oppose the motion.
– In that case I would seek to reserve my right to speak to the motion.
– The Minister may speak now so long as we have the opportunity to speak later.
– After this motion is passed I will move a motion to grant leave of absence to every member of the House of Representatives from the termination of this sitting of the House until the date of its next sitting. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) today gave notice of a motion the terms of which are well known to the House. He moved his motion and spoke to it. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) answered the Leader of the Opposition. We then were able to ascertain in the clearest possible form whether the House wished to censure the Government, because the votes were counted by the tellers, the decision was reported through the Clerks to you, Mr Speaker, and you announced to the House that the censure had failed. Having regard to the content of the Governor-General’s address from the Throne it has been made clear that the business of the Government will again be set out by the Governor-General when the House resumes in the new year. It is the intention of the Government to prorogue this sitting so that there may be a formal reassembling of the Parliament with an address from the Governor-General. It is necessary, according to the practices of the House and the legality of our own position, that a motion be moved which will establish the time for the calling together of members of the House again. Such is the purpose of the first motion.
It also is necessary by law for all members of the House to be given leave of absence to carry them over the period between now and the re-assembly of the
House. After these two motions are passed it-would- be my intention then to move the adjournment of the House. At that point in time, opportunity would be available, as is the normal custom, for the House to debate the adjournment motion. So, these two motions are formal motions. Any comment as to the desirability of the House ceasing business tonight will be capable of being made on the motion for the adjournment of the House which will follow the two formal motions.
– The Opposition opposes the motion moved by the Leader of the House, as it will oppose the’ second motion of which he has spoken. This Parliament has never witnessed a more farcical situation than has developed here today. The Minister has referred to the fact that the Government was able, by its very small majority in this House, to determine that the debate which was initiated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) would cease. While the Government had the numbers to bring this position about, it certainly did not have a moral victory. All of the members of this House who had the opportunity tonight to listen to the Leader of the Opposition deliver the censure motion will appreciate that the points he made were very valid criticisms of this Government.
The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) replied. He who was elected in extraordinary circumstances only a very short time ago, replied on behalf of the Government. He replied to a very serious motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition. The time taken by the Prime Minister to reply to all of the points made by the Leader of the Opposition was 15 minutes. Indeed, Mr Speaker, if one studies the report that will appear in Hansard tomorrow one will find at once that in the brief period that the Prime Minister did address himself to these matters he repeated himself on no fewer than three occasions. The Prime Minister and those who sit behind him have treated with contempt today not only this Parliament but also the people of Australia. This is probably even more serious: This is the first occasion when I, and I suppose most of the members who are here today on both sides of this Parliament, have had to sit in another place and listen to a Governor-
General who was placed in the invidious position of having to deliver what was supposed to be, and what has been traditionally, a serious speech outlining the policies of the Government for the next 3 years.
– Fifty-nine seconds.
– Well, that was even better to listen to than the speech made tonight by the Prime Minister in a quarter of an hour. This is the situation that has been allowed to develop under this Government. It is the first occasion when I have heard a Governor-General deliver what is supposedly an important speech outlining the policy of the Government and when even members who were there to listen to the speech had to offer some criticism. Undoubtedly, the Governor-General himself was uncomfortable about the decision that has been made by this Government. I can only repeat at this stage what has been said already tonight by the Leader of the Opposition. We believe that there are so many matters of a serious nature that this Government should be taking the opportunity to debate within the course of the next 2 weeks or 3 weeks. I mention the promises that the Prime Minister himself made during the course of his address-
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. Would the honourable member inform the House whether he is speaking to the motion moved by the Leader of the House or to the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition and defeated? It seems to me that it is a speech saved up from the past.
-Order! I think that the honourable member for Bass should come back to the motion, but he is entitled to show the reasons and the relevancy of the reasons why he is opposing the motion.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your ruling. It is quite obvious that the Prime Minister has been placed in a very difficult position. He is in a difficult position not only as a result of the events that have taken place within his own Party over the last 2 weeks or 3 weeks. He does not like to face up to the situation in this Parliament.
Sir, not only honourable members in this House appreciate the real reason why the Government wants to close the Parliament after it has been in session for only 1 day. This reason has been clearly stated by the Press of this country. The Prime Minister is not sure of his own position. He wants a cooling off period. I think that it can be said that the Prime Minister tonight spent no more than a quarter of an hour in replying to a very serious statement from the Leader of the Opposition which in effect, as the Prime Minister himself admitted, was a motion of censure against this Government. In that quarter of an hour, the Prime Minister said virtually nothing at all. So, I think-
– This is tedious repetition.
– The honourable member who is now interjecting ought to be the last man in this Parliament-
– You ought to be-
-Order! The honourable member for Macarthur will cease interjecting.
– He is going to disqualify himself.
– The point was well made by the Leader of the Opposition. I was about to point out that the honourable member for Macarthur should be the last man to interject in this Parliament. Sir, let me return to the matter before this House. This Parliament has been treated with absolute contempt by the Prime Minister, by his Cabinet and by those who support him on the other side of the Parliament. The people of Australia will be able to form their own conclusions about a Government which is not prepared to face up to its responsibilities. The Prime Minister, who only a few weeks ago made some very serious statements during the course of the election campaign also made a number of promises to the people of this country. Are we to wait another 5 months before-
-Order! 1 think that the honourable gentleman now is getting far away from the subject when he speaks about: an election and matters affecting that election.
– I was merely asking: Are we to wait until another 5 months have passed before we will deal with these matters? I conclude on this note: The Opposition is not prepared to accept this kind of treatment from the Prime Minister. I do not wish to deal with matters that the Leader of the House and myself discussed today. But the impression was given to me, and it was clearly understood by me at least, that if a censure motion was moved today we would have an opportunity to debate this important issue tonight and the debate would continue tomorrow. Having listened to the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister decided that he could not answer the case made out by the Leader of the Opposition. The Prime Minister spoke for no more than a quarter of an hour and then gagged the debate. We believe, as the Leader of the Opposition said before me tonight, that the House should continue in session. There is no reason why the Government should not take the opportunity to deal with the important issues that we believe this Parliament ought to be considering at this stage.
Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce- Minister for Labour and National Service) - Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I do. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) said he was told that if a censure motion was moved the Opposition would have an opportunity to debate it tomorrow, that being Wednesday.
– I said I was given the understanding.
– I see. I want to make it clear that the discussion between the honourable gentleman and myself, cordial-
– What about the arrangements that have been made? It is here on the business paper in black and white.
– . . . cordial as they always are-
– Give me an answer to that.
-Order! The honourable member for Reid will cease interjecting.
– I will answer the question if the honourable member will be patient for a second.
– I want an answer from the Minister.
-Order! I warn the honourable member for Reid.
– You are not going to suspend anyone now? What sort of a threat is that?
-If the Leader of the Opposition persists I will have no hesitation in treating him the same as any other member.
– I am waiting.
-Order! I name the honourable member for Reid.
– I raise a point of order. All that the honourable member for Reid did was to ask the Leader of the House for an explanation, and I thought it was a reasonable proposition. Surely this could not be interpreted as an interjection. I do not think that the Leader of the House would interpret it as an interjection.
– Mr Speaker, may I ask your indulgence to hear me for a few seconds? I did hear the interjection made by the honourable member, and I would like an opportunity to respond to it. It is the impatience of the honourable member which has led to your naming him. I wonder whether, if he wilt show that he can be patient, you will extend to him the indulgence of not naming him.
-I will consider this matter; but I have spoken to the honourable member for Reid on numerous occasions this evening and asked him to desist from interjecting.
– I will be a good boy if you tell me to.
-If you persist you will not have an opportunity to do so. I have suggested to the honourable member for Reid that if he offends again I will name him. On this occasion, owing to the plea of the Leader of the House, I will suspend naming him.
– In the exchanges between the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and myself it became quite clear that the Opposition was unable to tell me precisely what it intended to do, and because it was unable to tell me precisely what it intended to do I was equally unable to respond as to what the Government would do, and that is a fact which cannot be controverted. The consequence is that because I was unable to know what the Opposition would do I had to make a contingency against sitting tomorrow if the business of the House was not fulfilled today. The green business sheet - it formerly was traditionally blue - contained a contingency motion that the House adjourn to 11 a.m. tomorrow because there was talk going around - and one can only act on what one hears going around the House - that there would be a no confidence motion, but the Opposition declined to go on with a no confidence motion because if it failed that would mean that the Government had confidence. Therefore, the Opposition wanted to emerge with some sort of lesser creature like a censure motion rather than a no confidence motion. It was a lesser creature. It was so treated, and that is why the business of the House has been completed tonight.
– I claim to have been misrepresented on this matter.
– Do you wish to make a personal explanation?
– Yes. With all due respect to my learned friend the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden), I want to make it perfectly clear that I had discussions with him earlier today on the business of the House. I pointed out then that the Opposition would be moving a censure motion. This had been determined by the Parliamentary Labor Party. The information was conveyed to the Leader of the House that there would be a censure motion moved. Indeed, I even went so far as to give to the Leader of the House some indication of what the terms of the motion would be - that it would be dealing with the fact that the Government intended to close down this Parliament after only one day. So there can and should be no doubt in the mind of the Leader of the House about the intention of the Parliamentary Labor Party on this occasion.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Mr Snedden’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
-I have already ruled on it. I draw the honourable member’s attention to standing order 51 which states:
A motion, for the purpose of fixing the next meeting of the House, may be moved by a Minister at any time without notice.
– I oppose the motion that leave of absence be granted to honourable members. I do so for a number of reasons. They all involve one question: Are honourable members satisfied with the way in which the business of the House has been conducted today? This is the only day on which the House will sit for about 18 weeks between the last election and the next time it will meet. During the course of the day the Leader of the House has applied the gag seven times. In the course of this day the Government indicated officially its intention to sit tomorrow. I note that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) is shaking his head, but he may be doing so for some other reason. I refer him to the supplementary programme of business issued today for the information of honourable members. The following is set out on page 2 of that document:
Mr Snedden (Leader of the House) to move, That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 11 a.m. tomorrow.
That was a clear indication on the part of the Government that that was what it intended to do. Is this an official document or not? When this document was published was it the intention of the Leader of the House, whose name is mentioned on it, to move that the House adjourn until 11 o’clock tomorrow? Of course there was that intention? Why has the Government changed that intention? If the House is to decide whether leave of absence should be granted, that is one question which every member should be prepared to answer. There has been a change of intention. The House is not to sit tomorrow as was previously intended.
The Leader of the House has now moved that leave of absence be granted until some far off, distant day in the future. I suggest that the House ought to know and should be told why this change has taken place. The answer given by the Leader of the House when he was faced with this question a few minutes ago is obviously inadequate. He said that a change had taken place because he did not know what would happen and he was just preparing for some sort of emergency. He said that he thought a want of confidence motion was to be proposed by the Opposition. The truth of the matter is this: At the Opposition party meeting yesterday morning it was decided that a censure motion would be proposed and nothing else was considered. There is no basis whatever for the Leader of the House to suggest that anything other than a censure motion was to be considered.
There is a reason why the Leader of the House wants to get everybody away until some distant day in the future, and that reason became obvious in the debate earlier this evening. The reason obviously is that the Prime Minister was unable to answer the censure motion launched against his Government in this House tonight. That is the reason. The Government could not handle the censure motion, and it decided it would be better to stop the debate. So now honourable members are being asked to agree to a motion designed to give honourable members leave of absence until some distant date so that the Prime Minister can be protected from the elected members of this Parliament. When I listened tonight to the Prime Minister I thought how convincingly he needed protection. Even his own Party agrees substantially with this. There has been very great criticism of the Prime Minister even within his own Party.
-Order! I think that the honourable member is getting away from the terms of the motion.
– With due respect, I suggest that this is the very essence of the motion.
-Order! If the honourable member for Lalor continues in this vein I shall have to ask him to resume his seat.
– If you do that, Mr Speaker, we will have to take a certain course of action and I think that even you would not name members twice in the one day.
-Order! The honourable member for Lalor will not in any circumstances make any accusations or issue any threats against the Chair.
– I suggest that the Chair was threatening me. This is not the first time today that you, Mr Speaker, have threatened members on this side.
-Order! If the honourable gentleman persists in this train of talk I may have to take certain action. I was endeavouring to assist the honourable member. I think the Chair has been a little lenient. I suggest that the honourable member confine his remarks to the motion now before the Chair.
– Thank you very much for your assistance, Mr Speaker. When you are not giving it to me I will manage to evaluate that, too. I suggested that the reason why the Leader Of the House proposed this motion, which ls designed to get honourable members out of the way for another 3 months or so, has complete relevance to what ought to be said while this motion is being discussed.
This is the very essence of the motion. I am entitled therefore to cover some of this ground. The obvious reason for this motion - honourable members will have to make up their minds about this reason when they vote on the motion - is to protect the Prime Minister and the Executive from the elected members of the Parliament. If one looks at everything that has occurred on this day, including the application of the gag on seven occasions, 1 suggest that the evidence overwhelmingly supports what I am saying. In the 15 years that I have been in this place I have never seen a government run away from a censure motion like this Government has this evening. On many occasions 1 have seen the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) step into the breach and have heard him defend his Government with great vigour, but tonight there was no sign of his taking up the responsibility of defending this Government which is in need of support. Even in his own position less than a year ago he said he would not accept as Leader of the Liberal Party the right honourable gentleman who is now Minister for External Affairs.
-Order! I have already warned the honourable member for Lalor about this matter. I remind him that the motion concerns leave of absence for members of this House.
– Of course, Mr Speaker.
-Order! The honourable member is now bringing in irrelevant matters and T remind him that I have already warned him.
– Let us look at one other aspect of this motion. I would expect the Prime Minister and his Government to have a great deal of important business that they wished to have discussed in this House. Earlier this evening the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) gave a very Jong catalogue of important business - of many matters that concern arrangements with the States and many matters concerning legislation of which this House was made aware in the speech of the GovernorGeneral. Many matters brought before the House during the year before last and last year have not yet been dealt with.
In addition there has been a very considerable change in the position of the Govern- ment in the last few weeks. I would have thought that in the face of that considerable change the Prime Minister and the Government might have been anxious to receive the assistance of this House in forming its policy.
The right honourable gentleman went to the people a few weeks ago on a policy and he emerged with a narrow majority. He emerged with a majority of seven - a majority that was dependent on about 10,000 people in the whole of the Commonwealth of Australia out of a voting population of about four and a half million. About 10,000 people stood between the defeat of the right honourable gentleman and his narrow majority. I would have thought that in a situation where the Opposition represents almost half the members of this House and a very considerable higher percentage of the votes than any other Party in this House, the right honourable gentleman might have been sufficiently humbled by his experience to want the assistance of the House in debate between now and Christmas. But no, he only wants us to come here for the formality of meeting his interpretation of constitutional requirement. The right honourable’ gentleman is allowing the Constitution to stand between Parliament and the Australian people. He is not applying the Constitution in the interests of the Australian people by allowing them to have a say in the effective government of the Commonwealth of Australia through this Parliament. That is what the right honourable gentleman is using the Constitution for.
There are many items on which the Government has lost its mandate, partly by its vote and partly by the state of affairs that public opinion polls reveal on the state of the public mind in Australia. In the circumstances I would have thought that the Government would have sought the assistance of the House to form its policy upon these matters. Not only has the Prime Minister very few votes up his sleeve as far as the general election is concerned, but he has very few votes up his sleeve as far as his own party is concerned. There is always a chance that one or two of them will slip out, as one of them did during the course of this very unsatisfactory day in the parliamentary life of this country.
The Government has lost its mandate as far as the revealed state of public opinion is concerned on a number of very important matters. Public opinion has indicated that it expects the Government to take action, and to take action quickly, in the case of a number of other important matters. First of all, the Government has lost its mandate to send compulsorily Australians to the war in Vietnam. No longer can the Government claim to have the backing of the Australian people in this immoral and atrocious action. The public opinion polls show that well over 60% of people is opposed to the sending of young Australians to the war in Vietnam. In addition to that, public opinion now shows that a majority of the Australian people are in favour of an immediate withdrawal of Australian forces from the war in Vietnam. All this indicates, as in a number of other fields, what public opinion is. There is an overwhelming proportion of public opinion in favour of the Australian Government signing the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. There is overwhelming support in public opinion for the setting up of a national health service. There is overwhelming support in public opinion for the Government to provide adequately for education even if taxation is to be increased. All these matters are matters on which the Government ought to reconsider its position and in the course of reconsideration the Government ought tobe prepared to give this Parliament a full and adequate say in the determination of those matters.
The whole question of Australian foreign policy and defence policy is in the melting pot. All the factors that have determined what has been defence policy and foreign policy over the last 25 years have now changed. The whole business is in the course of re-formation and reconstruction elsewhere but not here. The Government believes, of course, that it can continue to maintain its position on the deck of the old ship. But if the right honourable gentleman, and those behind him, are to proceed in the way they have today for the next few months in their attempt to govern this country, they will find that they will have an overwhelming vote of the Australian people against them. I would think that all members, particularly those who axe in marginal seats with a few hundred votes here or there that could have determined the situation, ought to be prepared to use their influence in the Party room even if they are not prepared to use it here to try to get the Administration to face up to the realities of the situation that we have to deal with as a national Parliament. I am quite sure that even if the meek and mild followers of the Government are prepared to accept what has happened today the Opposition is not prepared to accept it. I am sure that the mass media that will convey to the people the affairs of this Parliament that have been witnessed today will not be prepared to accept it either.
I want to give notice to the Government that if this is the way it proposes to do its business during the course of the next 12 months, and if it replaces someone like the former Minister for Air who was Leader of the House with a gentleman who behaves as the Minister for Labour and National1 Service has behaved today, this House will not run efficiently during the next 12 months. We come here to have some little say, one would hope, in the determination of the affairs of this country. We do not come here as symbols or tokens. We have heard so much about parliamentary democracy. If today is an example of how parliamentary democracy functions in this country, I do not want to see another day like this one.
– The Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) has moved a motion to grant leave of absence to all members for the remainder of this particular session. The Government clearly intends to prorogue the Parliament and end this session and it need not prorogue the Parliament until more than 2 months have elapsed from today. If this Parliament is not prorogued until more than 2 months from today, and this motion is not carried, then every seat in this House is vacant. Section 38 of the Constitution makes it plain. The section states:
The place of a member shall become vacant if for two consecutive months of any session of the Parliament he, without permission of the House, fails to attend the House.
The Leader of the House has clearly shown that he intends that this session may be continued for another 2 months before it is ended by prorogation. He is letting the public know and all honourable members know that the House will not meet again for more than another 2 months. He has let everyone know that there will be at least 4 months interval between the last time this House sat and the next time it sits, apart from today’s purely perfunctory performance.
I took exception to the remarks made by the Leader of the House as to why he had changed his mind and decided to gag the proceedings at this stage. He must know, from reading every metropolitan newspaper today that he cared to read, that I had said at a Press conference yesterday afternoon that today I would be giving notice of a motion of censure against the Government for its outrageous conduct in intending that this session should last for one day only. This statement was in every newspaper. The information was given by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) to the Leader of the House. This had been known by the Leader of the House for about 30 hours. This afternoon, after we came back from afternoon tea which you, Mr Speaker, and the President gave us, there was circulated a supplementary programme of business upon which the last entry was that the Leader of the House would move that the House, at its rising, adjourn until 1 1 a.m. tomorrow. That was the intention when we came back from afternoon tea. The Leader of the House changed his attitude shortly afterwards when I made it plain that except in the case of one particular member who had suffered a bereavement a pair would not be granted. I said that no other pairs would be granted. The reasons why they were sought would not bear statement by those who sought them. They had no right to enter into the commitments which they had arranged and assume that the House would not be sitting tomorrow. They are members of the Government parties, obviously. At the time when they must have made these arrangements the. Prime Minister himself had said at the Press conference after he had been re-elected to the leadership of his Party that there would be a session of 2 or perhaps 3 days this week. At that time they must have known that it was intended at least that the House would be sitting today and tomorrow. Then we are expected to fall in with some private arrangements which they made and which they would never state to the House.. In those circumstances I said there would not be leave and there would be no pairs granted. Then the Leader of the House turned nasty. He decided that the House would get up tonight and that we would have the longest gap between one meaningful sitting of the House of Representatives and the next meaningful sitting that there has ever been since, I believe, 1907 and the longest gap between an election and a meaningful session of the House of Representatives that there has ever been since 1907.
I pointed out earlier tonight that on the two other occasions when there had been elections as early as October at least the Parliament sat on one occasion for 15 days and on the other occasion for 7 days before Christmas. On the only other occasion when the Parliament sat for one day alone at least it voted supply - a major matter. This was in war time, during 1917. It then came back a month later, 9i weeks after the election. In the 68 or 69 years’ history of this Parliament there has never been a day such as this. Seven times the gag has been moved. We will be having not only the longest gap between one session and the next but also the longest gap between an election and a meaningful session that we have had for over 60 years.
This blow to parliamentary democracy has been suffered at the hands of an arrogant and irresponsible man who has not the slightest grasp of parliamentary procedures or principles, a man who is a disgrace to the Party which he now leads, a man who has debauched the inheritance that he has gained.
-Order! I would suggest that the Leader of the Opposition is being quite unparliamentary in some of his accusations against an unnamed person. I would ask him to desist from making such accusations against any member.
– I will name the right honourable gentleman. The Prime Minister has behaved today in a way in which none of his predecessors from any party has ever behaved. In my own 17 years in the Parliament 1 can certainly vouch for the fact that Mr Holt and Sir Robert Menzies would never have acted in this way. The right honourable gentleman knows that behind him he has a minority of supporters in his own Party. He is frightened not only of the Parliament and of the Country Party but also of his own colleagues in the Liberal Party. Because of his fears and because he has this persecution complex against the Press, the Parliament and the public the whole institution must suffer. The Leader of the House whom he has appointed moved the gag seven times.
The Parliament will go into the longest recess for 60 years. The Constitution has been completely circumvented today. The Constitution provides that there shall be a sitting of the Parliament no more than 30 days after the return of the writs. To circumvent this provision we meet for 1 day in an effort to see that at least there is some debate not only on Government matters but on matters of general business on which all private members of the Government - and that means all members of the Opposition, too - have a right to be heard. The institution is being closed up. This is a grievious blow to the institution of parliamentary democracy.
Sir, at the afternoon tea you gave this afternoon you would have noticed the facetious remarks being cast at our expense by the representatives of all the nations at that gathering. It is clear that only New Zealand and Chile have parliamentary democracies in the southern hemisphere. The countries which have suspended their parliaments, those that have military autocracy, those that have appointed parliaments, were all indeed gloating at our expense today. We have made ourselves a laughing stock to those countries which are represented here today. The public will not soon forget the conduct of the Liberal Party and of its Leader today.
– There are some remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), which I think should be referred to. He indicated, I believe quite falsely, that the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) became upset because the Leader of the Opposition had refused a pair in a particular case. I believe this was quite a false assumption on his part but I think it might be of some benefit to the House to hear what this case was. It was described by the Leader of the Opposition as a matter of private arrangements and he said that the person concerned should not have been away from Australia.
– You had better be brought up to date.
– You are at sea.
– No. Oneof the people absent from this side of the House is overseas. He is attending, as I think the members of this House would regard it a proper thing for him to do, a United Nations meeting. Surely it is not to be suggested that this is an irresponsible thing for him to do, when he was sent there as a representative of this Parliament to the United Nations. And yet we have this kind of aspersion made. But what I think is more important is this play upon the fact that the gag has been moved as frequently today as it has been. It is always within the capacity of an Opposition, if it acts stupidly enough, to force a gag to be moved. If it is going to seek hour long debates on the motion that the House should adjourn to a time to be fixed and other hour long debates on the motion that leave of absence should be given during those adjournments, then clearly it is not really advancing the cause of parliamentary government in those debates at all. It is merely seeking to use the forms of the House to waste the time of the House which I believe might have been much better occupied in a proper adjournment debate tonight when matters of all kinds sought to be raised could have been raised.
Therefore it is as well, I think, to have it on record that this matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition is in fact a matter brought on by what I would regard as the quite irresponsible attempts by the Opposition to take time debating what have always been regarded as formal motions of this kind. The alternative to what he has suggested is a wrong thing to do would be to have unlimited time for debate on whether the House should adjourn and whether leave should be given during the period that the House has agreed it should adjourn. I do not believe that any sensible person would agree that that was the proper way to carry on a Parliament. As for his own personal attacks upon myself, that, I think, one can accept and expect from a petty, angry, disappointed and rather spiteful man. Mr Speaker, I move:
That the question be now put.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority .. .. 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Mr Snedden’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented?
– I claim to have been misrepresented by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in relation to the granting of pairs. Pairs were sought for four honourable members and not only for the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner). A pair was granted to a Minister for whom a pair was not sought and the pair was granted when a private Government member told me the circumstances. I immediately told my Whip that the Government Whip should be told that a pair would be granted for this Minister. Shortly afterwards another private Government member came and made the same suggestion and I was able to tell him that the pair which was granted was not sought by the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) or by any Minister or by the Minister concerned. Four other pairs were sought and those were the ones which were refused.
– Including a pair for the honourable member for Bradfield.
– Yes, including the honourable member for Bradfield.
– Does the honourable the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Rather than pursue that course I move:
– The Minister will be closing the debate if he speaks immediately. Other honourable members might want to speak.
– Order! The honourable member for Sydney will cease interjecting.
– Why is the Minister closing the debate?
– Order! The honourable member for Sydney will remain silent.
– I seek the leave of the House to make a personal explanation in relation to this issue of pairs. I have been misrepresented.
– Is leave granted?
– I rise to order. The Minister has moved that the House do now adjourn. He may take his time and make all the explanations he likes. He does not need the leave of the House to do so.
– The Minister is in order in making a personal explanation at any time. He does not need leave.
– The issue of pairs is the matter on which I have been misrepresented. Yesterday I had a discussion with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) in relation to the possibility of pairs being granted on Wednesday if the House were still sitting. It was to that matter that I think the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) was referring. That question does not arise now. In relation to the other issue of pairs, there was, as the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has pointed out, an honourable member serving this Parliament in the United Nations who was refused a pair. He would not have needed a pair if the Opposition had appointed a man who was coming back to the Parliament, because that member of the Opposition would have been in New York with the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner).
– Order! I think that the Minister is now going beyond a personal explanation.
– The other aspect of the pairs matter on which I was misrepresented was this: When I asked the Leader of the Opposition for a pair for the honourable member for Bradfield and for the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) the Leader of the Opposition said: There will be no pairs’. There was therefore no opportunity to seek a pair for the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). At 8 o’clock tonight the Leader of the Opposition walked up to me where I was sitting and said:’I have decided that Wentworth can have a pair’.
– It was done before 6 o’clock.
– The Leader of the Opposition had refused a pair before 6 o’clock. If he granted it before 6 o’clock, when did he change his mind? Was it when some honourable member from our side of the House was so outraged at the refusal that he went to the Leader of the Opposition personally? Prior to that I had had no impact on the Leader of the Opposition. The other aspect of it is that a pair having been granted other matters arose in relation to pairing and voting with which I will not trouble the House at this moment. I will take up the matter with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to make sure that this never happens again, because I think it probably was an error and not intended.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I have been misrepresented in what was just said by the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) without, I think, knowledge of the facts. To be fair, I made an approach to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I was not outraged because I did not know that any pair had been sought I am now saying something to the advantage of the Leader of the Opposition. I was not aware that a pair had been sought but saw a situation of distress, which I conveyed to the Leader of the Opposition. I believe that he then acted quickly to grant a pair and, I think, properly in the circumstances. That was how the incident took place so quickly.
– I oppose the motion for the adjournment of the House at this time. The nation is confronted with dozens of issues to which the House should pay attention. For instance, the nation has just had inflicted upon it a new ministry. We have seen removed from office the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly), who in the 14 years that I have been in this Parliament has been the only Service Minister to attempt to get the Parliament interested in his Service. Because he did that he has been removed from office. We have arising in
Victoria in particular large areas of industrial unrest which the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) has shown no competence to tackle. The Minister will have to solve the problems of the State Electricity Commission in Victoria. He will have to face up to the difficulties that have arisen in the Ford motor works - one of the largest industrial concerns in Australia. The Ford plant is likely to be crippled by the intransigence of the management. Then we have the war in Vietnam - a war that is continuing despite all the efforts of some people in the world to produce peace. It is a war that is inflicting great tragedies upon Australian homes. Then we have our great areas of foreign policy.
My real reason -for speaking tonight is the way in which this Parliament is being -handled. There are 12 or 15 effective parliamentary democracies in the world. Of the 130 nations of the world only a handful - perhaps 30 - could be called democracies and perhaps only a dozen of those could be called effective parliamentary democracies. Australia is one. In this place today for 12 hours we have pursued a course of destruction of the Australian parliamentary democracy. We have seen on the other side of the House 46 members of the Liberal Party and 20 members of the Country Party acting as parliamentary robots. They have waited not for the cracking of the whip but for the crooking of the finger of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) before silencing this Parliament and preventing it from discussing any of the nation’s affairs. Today we have created a very serious situation in the Australian parliamentary democracy. It is unfortunately true that in the last few years there has been a great deal of cynicism about Parliament and the parliamentary system. It is our duty to see that parliamentary democracy is made to appear to work, yet today the party control opposite has prevented this side of the House from submitting points of view on any subject.
We have been assembled for about 12 hours. In that time we have seen the elected representatives opposite of nearly 3 million voters acting as if they had no will of their own. A few weeks ago the honourable member for Farrer (Mr
Fairbairn) who is a former Minister of the Crown, became, by his actions, the champion of alt sorts of liberties and rights. He mounted his great white charger, but he fell off it very heavily today. He bad a dozen opportunities to demonstrate that he had some respect for the parliamentary institution, but he availed himself of not one. All he had to do was Cr08 the floor on relatively minor matters, politically speaking, and support those of us who desired that the Parliament should discuss matters of national1 moment. The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) was equally reticent.
Parliament is an important institution, lt is not built on rights, rules and written obligations. It is built on implied prohibitions, duties and responsibilities. There is an implied prohibition against people in the majority in the Parliament using that majority to silence freedom of speech and proper discussion. That has been ihe way in which this Parliament has operated in the 14 years that 1 have been here. In that time whenever we initiated a debate on a matter of urgency which was of embarrassment to the Government, the Government, be it the Holt Government or the Menzies Government, could have silenced us. We have no right at all to speak if you care to use your majority all the time. By the simple use of numbers you can silence any debate. By the simple use of numbers I take it that under the Constitution tonight we could go on leave until 24th November next year - one day less than one year. We have implied rights. All of us in this place are equal. I as the member for Wills have the same rights as have the honourable member for Bruce and the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). I have the same right as they to speak about those matters which concern my electorate. The only charter which Ministers have is the charter that comes from this Parliament and their membership of it. As non-members of the Parliament they would have no rights. All day today, the first day of sitting of the Twenty-seventh Parliament, we have witnessed the transgression of a Government using its majority to silence the freedom of Parliament. While no great oratorical flourishes may have come from us, the fact is that the Australian parliamentary system has established itself as one of the style leaders in the way demo- cracy should work. In the last 3 years, and today particularly, we have seen great damage done to the parliamentary institution in this country. I for one deplore what has happened here today. As a result of the election we have about 30 new members in this place. Each of them has rights, which today were crushed.
There is one other matter I would like to raise before we dive into recess. During the last year or so we have given consideration to a site for the new and permanent parliament house when it is finally erected. It was decided by the Prime Minister during the last Parliament - unilaterally as far as one can see - that the site should be Camp Hill. The parliamentary committee which inquired into this matter recommended to the Parliament - I understand that the recommendation was adopted by the Parliament - that a certain area be preserved for parliamentary approval. The recommendation was:
That the area of land bounded by King George Terrace, Commonwealth and Kings Avenues and their southerly extensions, and taking in the symbolic structure on the summit of the Hill, be regarded as the parliamentary zone within which all development shall be subject to the approval of the Parliament.
The area referred to is the area behind this House and up to the top of Capital Hill. Certainly the resolution placed before the House mentioned a ring road, but it is quite false and specious to say that the Parliament had considered that ring road in the way in which the Public Works Committee examines works that come before it. While the concept of the ring road may have been accepted - I for one did not accept it - the procedure that is now going on in relation to Capital Hill is In my opinion, transgressing the rights of this Parliament. It is against the spirit of the resolution. It is an act of national vandalism. What is happening on Capital Hill at the moment is destroying the visual environment of Canberra. The Parliament and every member of the Parliament should do something to prevent such arrogant assumption of power by the people responsible, whether it be the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) or his minions in the National Capital Development Commission. I hope that every member of the Parliament will take some heed of what is happening on Capital Hill and see what we can do to prevent further acts of vandalism on the site.
– Mr Speaker, I had not intended to participate in this debate, but I do so now because the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) has on three occasions in the last week made the same claim about the development of the ring road around Capital Hill. I think that it is time his claim was answered. The honourable member made the claim that the ring road is being proceeded with against the will of this Parliament and that at no time has any consideration been given by this Parliament to the construction of the ring road. For the information of the honourable member I shall state the facts. Approval was given by this Parliament and the expenditure of money was approved by this Parliament during the last Budget session for the construction of the ring road. If the honourable member had done his homework a little better he would know that he, as a member of this Parliament, had the right to discuss that issue at that time. So, it is quite wrong to say that either the National Capital Development Commission or I as Minister for the Interior has proceeded without the approval of the Parliament.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to join with those on this side of the Parliament who have criticised the Government for putting on today probably the greatest farce in the history of democracy in this country. Having heard a number of Address-in-Reply debates in this Parliament, I could not help comparing what happened today with what has happened on other occasions. To me, it seemed like a burial service. First of all, we trooped across to another place with you, Mr Speaker, at the head of the procession as though something important was going to happen. You walked with due dignity and decorum as you do on these occasions. We walked across. It was hard to get in. We sat down. We cluttered the other place and sat around there. Then, in 59 seconds His Excellency read, very nicely and very splendidly, a document. It was not as long as the Letters Patent document that was read out by the Clerk of the House. After that brief ceremony, we all trooped back to this House.
Before that, I could not help but notice a rather whimsical smile on the lips of the Governor-General as he asked divine providence to look after us from now to kingdom come and, as far as I could gather, shield us from the Government. Having listened to that speech, we returned to this House. We heard two excellent speeches, having in mind those who made them, from the Government Whip, the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) and a member of the Country Party. Each of those speeches lasted, I imagine, about 30 seconds. The Address-in-Reply was then all wrapped up. Almost before it was cold, as it were, and the ink was dry, you said: ‘We will deliver it to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral at 6.5 tonight’. In other words, it appeared to me that the situation was this: We had a body; the murder had been solved; let us get rid of it. To all intents and purposes, it was a cremation or a burial. The whole thing happened in about 2 hours in a national parliament. It reduced the National Parliament to a farce. If the Queen does not have some pertinent comments to make on that Address-in-Reply when it reaches her, I am certain that Prince Philip will. 1 do not wonder that the Government wishes to rush this Parliament into recess. There are things like the Mushroom Club that we would have liked to explore today. This was a famous institution. The former Minister for Air, the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin), said that the Mushroom Club had a motto which was: Keep them in the dark and feed them bull’. Those are the words of the former Minister for Air. He made a number of statements on his dismissal from the Ministry. You know them well, Mr Speaker. You will remember that when he was deposed from the position of Leader of this House, he made a remarkable statement. I did not know that these kinds of thing existed in the Parliament. When he was asked why he was dismissed from his position as Leader of the House and also as Minister for Air. he said: ‘How was I dismissed? I describe it in these words.’ He said: ‘It is shapely; it wiggles; and it is coldblooded’.
This is a fearful expression. To think that there are tilings like that around a parliament! These are the words of the former Minister for Air. Surely, Mr
Speaker, you must wonder what sinister people are around. The former Leader of this House - he held an exalted position - said: ‘It is shapely; it wiggles; and it is coldblooded’. He had plenty more to say too. No wonder the Government did not want the Parliament to discuss these matters today. It probably did not want them to be elaborated on. The former Minister for Air who sits now on a back bench is, I say, a very honest fellow and quite a congenial man. I would like him to repeat tonight in the Parliament some of the statements that he made. The reason why the Government is rushing Parliament into recess, as you know, Mr Speaker, is that the Government thinks that the former Minister for Air will reveal all these things tonight.
I turn again to the Mushroom Club. My heavens, eh! What an institution! Even the Chief Spore was at the table today at one period. With this Mushroom Club and these things that are shapely, wiggle and are coldblooded to be found in the Parliament, must not the people outside wonder what kind of Government this is? Just who is running the Mushroom Club? Is it these wiggly and shapely individuals or coldblooded persons as they are called?
We know of the contempt that is to be found in the ranks of Government members. We need look only at the pictures after the recent election of the Prime Minister. We saw the Prime Minister shaking hands with his chief opponent, the then Treasurer, now Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon). From the way in which the Minister’s hand was placed, I think that he would sooner have had it round the Prime Minister’s neck than in the manner in which it was held.
These things were due for elaboration in this Parliament. The dissension that riddles the present Liberal Ministry was something that the Government did not want to be brought to the light of day in this Parliament. I pay credit to my friends in the Country Party. Everybody knows what a disruptive faction they are. We know of the discontent among them and the disunity that exists but at least they are decent enough to hide it from the public gaze. The Liberal Party, on the other hand, knows full well that once these matters are ventilated in this Parliament the people will really know that the Government is falling to pieces.
It is not for me to reflect on you at all, Mr Speaker, but I thought that you of all people would have wanted to spend a long time in this Parliament on this occasion because, when all is said and done, you will agree that you were pretty lucky to make the grade. If the wind holds, as it were, this might be the last time when you preside here. I regret that fact a little. I thought that you, of all people, might have been a bit with the Opposition today in its desire to extend the sittings of the Parliament. This would have given you a few fleeting moments of glory in your position. As you know, you have had a few battles lately. I do not blame you for being a bit nervous. These are the reasons why the Government did not want the Parliament to sit after today. These were the proposals made by the Prime Minister.
I refer now to the minister sitting on a back bench. I mean the minister of religion. I do not use that expression in any way to reflect upon him - the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay). He went to the declaration of the poll in his electorate and said that what this country wanted was a little Socialism. Is it not lovely to see a Liberal Socialist. And to think that he subscribed to the Government’s proposals today. I point these matters out in order to show the wide variety of views held by members of the Government and to indicate what might have happened today if Parliament had gone on its way. Is it any wonder that the Prime Minister tonight behaved in the way in which he did? He did not surrender; he just torpedoed himself, as it were, because the Government did not want to face criticism. No more devastating attack has been made on a Prime Minister than that levelled by the Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament tonight. His charges went completely unanswered.
This Government has struggled back to office with a majority of seven. It has not learned a thing. From its actions one could believe that it had a majority of 37, so arrogant was it today. No business was before the Parliament, yet seven times the gag was moved. Private members do have the right to make speeches here. They do have the right to bring matters to the attention of the Parliament. But there really are no rights for individuals. In addition to all the dissention that exists in the ranks of the Government, we find that the Government wishes to suppress criticism from this side of the Parliament which it knows will have a detrimental effect on it here and in other places.
Far be it for me to hold up the business of the House at this time of the night. But one must talk evidently late at night when the proceedings of the Parliament are not being broadcast. The Government thinks that, in this way, it will suppress the point of view that we express. I believe that we must take full advantage of opportunities like this in order to show to the people of this country precisely the type of government that they have. Today, as I look with some sadness and regret - more in sorrow than in anger - at what took place in another place I cannot help but think that in this dynamic age when men have landed on the moon we are still saddled in Australia with a horse and buggy administration. The Government lives way back in the past. It does not want any improvement. It will not listen to criticism and will not allow discussion of these matters.
I make these few brief remarks tonight on these matters. I would like the honourable member for Ballaarat to be as outspoken in the Parliament as he was on the open ranges of Ballarat and in other places. It is interesting to note that he lost his voice at a most inopportune time. He seems to have it back today. Now is his opportunity to tell us of the shapely things that are around the place and are causing all the trouble in the Liberal Party. As a matter of fact, from the things we are hearing about shapely individuals and everything else, I am beginning to think that it might be a petticoat government. The public is entitled to know these matters because it is also concerned about them. These are just a few of the serious things associated with the government’s administration which indicate why today the Government is rushing into a parliamentary recess and is refusing to allow the Opposition to discuss these matters in another place and in this place. On behalf of my constituents I place on record my opposition to the Government’s attitude. I join in the condemnation of the Government that has been voiced tonight by the Opposition because I believe that the Government richly deserves the condemnation which it has received. I should like to hear that great former but now retired democratic the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) say a few words about the monstrous conduct of the Government which he supports in this Parliament tonight.
– 1 am always willing to accept a challenge from the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) because sometimes he forgets that I was a member of this Parliament when Labor was in government, and tonight’s performance is only very moderate when compared with what happened then. When I first came to this Parliament I got my best opportunities to speak at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning. If honourable members look at Hansard they will see that what I am saying is correct. We suffered the gag time and time again - on many more occasions than it has been used today. Honourable members opposite do not realise this fact. How many honourable members presently in this chamber were here when Labor was in government? Look around and see. There was the honourable member for Grayndler. I cannot see any others.
– I was here.
– Yes, and the honourable member for Eden-Monaro. There are two members. The honourable member for Eden-Monaro knows what happened in those days. I should like to hear him tell us something about it. What happened today was only mild to what happened then. I do not intend to waste my time on this kind of talk. I think it is fair to point out that members of the Labor Party have said all day that they have some vital things on which they want to speak, but a speech like the one which has just been given by the honourable member for Granydler makes him not worth powder and shot. On many occasions in the past I have soundly thrashed the honourable member for Grayndler in a debate. That statement is apparently a cause of great glee to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) but, of course, he was not thought of in Parliament in those days, although he thinks he knows everything now.
I do not want to continue along the lines followed by the honourable member for Grayndler. I do not want to waste my time. I want to speak about one or two vital things which have happened during the election and before the election and which I hope will happen in the future. First of all, I represent a great primary producing area- the electorate of Mallee. The electorate was -extended in area in the last redistribution. Every honourable member knows- but people outside do not know - that a census is taken, there are a certain number of seats, that that number of seats is divided into the number of voting people and a quota is obtained. The Commonwealth Electoral Act provides that the quota can be changed by the distribution commissioners so that the number of persons in electorates may vary from 20% above to 20% below the quota. .
I have been fighting in this House for many years to get that section of the Electoral Act implemented, because one of the greatest scourges of this country is the congestion of population in the metropolitan areas. The moment I say this - and it is a wonder that honourable members opposite have not already started to interject - members of the Labor Party begin to cry to high heaven and to refer to one vote, one value. This is what they call it. But what a false cry it is, because members of the Labor Party do not seem to worry about the Senate. I think Tasmania has a population of approximately 368,000 people, but it has the same number of senators as New South Wales, which has a population of between 3 million and 4 million. What about one vote, one value? Honourable members opposite keep quiet about these things.
When T referred to this matter on the last occasion - and 1 speak about it very often - a Labor member said: ‘Abolish the Senate’. But the Labor Party does not make any move to do that, and the move is not on the board, because no-one thinks for one moment that the Senate will commit suicide. If we wished to hold a referendum in order to change the Constitution so as to abolish the Senate, we would have to pass a Bill through this House and through the Senate. Does anybody think that the senators would commit political suicide? Of course they will not. I believe that this is something which we must look at very soundly. The Labor Party can forget about the principle of one vote, one value, while it supports what is happening as regards the Senate. I support the Senate representation because, after all, it gives the less populous States of Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania a better chance to develop.
No doubt the greater representation which a State receives the more amenities are provided and the more people go to the State to enjoy the amenities. This is how things have been snowballing, with the result that we have a greater number of people in metropolitan areas. If it is a fair proposition to give better representation by providing for the same number of senators from each State, is it not a fair proposition to do the same thing within a State? If we do it within the nation in order to help the States that are not as well populated or developed as others, should we not do it within a State? Therefore, would it not be better to give more political representation to the people in the far flung areas of Victoria and other States which I and other honourable members represent?
The Mallee electorate covers approximately one quarter of the State of Victoria, and one member represents that vast area. I am the one member. This is not a party political matter; it does not matter whether the electorate is represented by a member of the Labor Party, of the Liberal Party or of the Country Party. There is still only one vote in this House for an area which is approximately one quarter of. the whole of Victoria. I know that honourable members could say to me that the same comment applies to the electorate of Kalgoorlie; that Kalgoorlie is a tremendous electorate compared with the other electorates in Western Australia. But with all due respect to the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard), who is present in the chamber tonight, it must be remembered that most of the area is non-productive country. There may be some mining operations, and these do attract population to the area. There is little agriculture and pastoral industry carried on as compared to the electorate of Mallee about which 1 speak. Therefore, I believe that this matter has to be very carefully considered.
Because I have not the time at my disposal I now make a very quick reference to the present position facing the primary producer. I am anxious to see the primary producer receive the same benefit from a price support scheme as secondary industry receives from the imposition of customs tariffs. If this happened the primary producer would receive a far better deal on the Australian market. If the Australian primary producer - whether he be a wool grower, a dried fruits grower, a wheat grower or dairyman - could sell all his products in Australia, where he has to buy his goods in order to produce, he would be quite satisfied and he would not require any support by way of subsidies or otherwise. But he has to buy his goods on the Australian market, and he has to sell a balance of his produce overseas. Therefore, he should receive support, up to the level of the price paid for his produce on the Australian market, for the surplus of his goods which he sells overseas. He sells these goods to countries which have a lower standard of living than Australia. Therefore he sells them at lower prices. Tariffs are provided in order to protect secondary industry. I believe that we must have population and I also believe that secondary industry is the great employer of labour. Tariffs protect our secondary industries against imports from countries which have a lower standard of living than Australia and which therefore pay lower wages. These countries can produce goods for less than they can be produced and marketed in this country. If we were to allow these goods to be sold on our market, in many cases they would force our secondary industry out of business altogether. Abraham Lincoln, I think, said at one time that his own country could not long endure half slave and half free. This country cannot gain its true nationhood half protected like secondary industry and half unprotected like primary industry. I know that we have a stabilisation scheme and we pay subsidies to the dairy industry. I know that we have a stabilisation scheme for the wheat industry. I know that we are hoping to introduce a new stabilisation scheme for the dried fruits industry. This is very good, but it is not good enough.
Until primary industry receives the same deal which secondary industry has enjoyed, this country will never gain the nationhood which it should achieve. No honourable member can say that secondary industry is not protected. If I say that the worker in
Melbourne and in other places is also protected I may get an uproar. He is protected by the Arbitration Commission. But the primary producer, once he has sold as much as he can on the Australian market has to sell the rest of his products overseas at whatever price he can get for them in countries that have a lower standard of living than Australia. During the forthcoming recess I want the Government to look into the points I have raised. I can tell honourable members that when the Parliament meets again I will be putting these points forward as strongly as possible. The first’ one is in regard to the principle of one vote one value being a fallacy.
– Forget it.
– The right honourable member for Melbourne represents a small metropolitan electorate and is bound to stick up for that principle, but if he had the whole country at heart, including the wide open spaces where primary producers are battling at the present time, he would have a different point of view. I speak for the people in the north west of Victoria. The primary producers have built this country, and in spite of all our minerals it is the primary producers upon whom this country will continue to be dependent for its stability and prosperity in the future.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I would like to speak tonight about our involvement in the war in Vietnam. This is the first opportunity we have had during the course of a day in which the gag has been applied, as we all have heard, 8 or 9 times. Through the ages philosophers and religious leaders have argued that a war may be just if it is fought in self defence of the people fighting it or if it is for the defence of other people and can in fact protect them. I do not think there is any doubt that our intervention and involvement in the war in Vietnam is an involvement which is not in self defence of the American or Australian people and which is not protecting the Vietnamese people. In fact, it is massacring and destroying them. It is no answer to this to say that the North
Vietnamese and the Vietcong, too, have massacred people in villages and have perpetrated terror of the most vicious and shocking kind upon individuals as they have. It is no answer for them to say that they are fighting for their country, that they are fighting for their independence or that they are fighting for their lives. They are fighting for these things, but a cause becomes no better than the means used in pursuit of it.
But we are not responsible for Vietcong atrocities, and theirs are much more understandable than ours. According to the Australian Government standards, their atrocities would be eminently justifiable. We are responsible only for the atrocities we support. We are responsible for our massacres, not for theirs. It is in respect of our atrocities that we call the Australian Government and its involvement in Vietnam into question. Recently publicity about the killing of people in the Song My village and the Xuon Ngoc village has brought this matter into prominence and to notice. The massacre and the killing of people in these villages is not a rare thing. It is not an exception; it it almost the general rule. In Song My perhaps 500 to 700 people were killed by United States forces on the ground. In Xuon Ngoc 10 or 20 were killed by United States troops on the ground. Some of the troops were convicted of murder and rape.
People in more than 1,000 Vietnamese villages have been killed by bombs and bullets and both by troops on the ground and by aircraft, lt is impossible to measure the destruction and killing of the Vietnamese people that has taken place in the last 10 years. Refugees alone number 4 million or one-third of the rural population. Senator Kennedy’s sub-committee that investigated this matter reported on 9th May last year that 80% of these refugees fled because of American bombing. Anyone who wants to study the details of thi:; - and I suggest that we should study the details - will find them in the report of the Subcommittee to Investigate Problems Connected with Refugees and Escapees. In the case of death and injury, up to 1968 civilian casualties numbered from 150,000 to 200,000 a year. In 1968-69 those casualties numbered from 200,000 to 250,000. Nearly half of these casualties are fatal.
The American Friends Service Committee, which has been involved in the relief of war suffering for more than half a century, reported that it has never encountered in that half century such misery as is found in Vietnam today.
In the case of physical destruction, hundreds of thousands of acres have been burnt, razed and defoliated. Raids by B52 bombers alone have torn out 2i million holes 45 feet in diameter and 30 feet deep, and now these holes are filled with water and breed mosquitoes and other disease bearing insects. Over 1,000 Vietnamese villages have been so seriously damaged that they are no longer capable of being occupied, and many more than 1,000 have been seriously damaged. The basic reason for this has been bombing from the air. The basic economy of South Vietnam has been destroyed, and only large volumes of imports of food and consumption goods from the United States, Japan and other countries allow the Vietnamese people to survive at ever increasing cost. Corruption is epidemic. Vietnam’s ancient Buddhist culture has been torn apart. Prostitution and the black market are rampant in the country.
This physical destruction and suffering is vast and deep, but the less visible suffering is no doubt far greater than this. This is predominantly the result of high bombing power and high fire power brought into Vietnam by the United States. Physical suffering is the result of more tons of explosives having been dropped on Vietnam, two-thirds of it on South Vietnam, than were dropped on all the Axis powers during the whole of World War II. This small country with little or no anti-aircraft defence has had a greater weight of bombs dropped on it than was dropped on all the Axis powers all over the world throughout World War II. This is a fantastic cruelty and a fantastic injustice. In December 1968 for the first time the United States began using in Vietnam 10,000-lb bombs that had been stored for 15 years. They began to use them because of their greater destructive power. In 1968 the Americans unleashed the terrifying Puff the Magic Dragon, a DC3 aircraft that floods forth 5,000 machine gun bullets a minute. One Quaker observer late in February 1969, after the bombing had stopped and after the war was being de-escalated, described the use of this evil weapon as follows:
As 1 watched it circle overhead last night, silhouetted against the low clouds in the light of flares, flinging indiscriminate bolts of death earthward, I could visualise the scene below. Men, women, children and animals caught like rats in a flood. No place to hide, no way to plead their case of innocence to the machine in the sky, no time to prepare for death.
And, of course, no time to prepare for life. The description continues: 1 saw the cold, mechanical, compassionless way that monster circled around and around and around, ruthlessly pursuing people, stabbing viciously earthward again and again, probing, searching, killing and maiming all in its path.
It is from action of this kind, with bombs and bullets, that most of the 200,000 to 250,000 Vietnamese human beings are being maimed and killed every year. It is stupid and ironical for a nation that uses Puff the Magic Dragon to convict one or two of its soldiers of murder because he shoots 1 or even 20 Vietnamese civilians in a village. It is stupid and ironical to regard one man who shoots 10 or 20 people on the ground as a murderer and to regard a man who flies PuS the Magic Dragon, pumping out 5,000 bullets a minute, as otherwise. The United States Government stands condemned of a system of mass murder, and those who support it stand convicted as accomplices in that crime. The Australian Government stands as part of and among those accomplices. This war cannot help the Vietnamese people into any situation. It must be brought to an end. In my opinion we must not allow this 1 day sitting of this House to pass without our thoroughly and properly emphasising the total immorality, the total inadequacy, of any policy such as that which this Government has supported in Vietnam now for nearly 10 years.
– I would like to say a few words in support of the views put forward by my colleague the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns). The honourable member for Lalor has been consistent in expressing his concern about the inhumanity which has highlighted the war in Vietnam. He has articulated it well. Surely this war is the most disastrous experience of inhuman behaviour in the twentieth century. It is very difficult to understand why a mighty nation such as the United States of. America is prepared to spend so much money and effort - in fact more than Australia creates in a year - to maintain the war in Vietnam. It is very difficult to understand why a mighty country such as the United States can find this amount of money, this quantity of manpower and equipment to maintain this war but experiences’ tremendous difficulties in diverting resources to help the development of underdeveloped countries. When we act like this, when we ignore the needs of the underdeveloped countries until a point is reached where we become involved militarily, we fulfil the role of a recruiting sergeant for the Communist forces. This is the sad and painful irony of American involvement in the eruptions, the dissidence, which break out in these underdeveloped countries. 1 do not justify the behaviour or actions of the North Vietnamese in many areas. I am gravely concerned about and I feel very sad at the enforced and murderous collectivisation of the land shortly after the time of separation. I do not justify this at all. I believe I am consistent in saying that I have always said this. I do not uphold the behaviour of the North Vietnamese in the past or even now when they are proving unnecessarily difficult in the negotiations for peace. Nor do I uphold the behaviour of the South Vietnamese or that of the American Government. I am intensely critical of the behaviour of the North Vietnamese Government, but I am much more critical of the behaviour of the United States in Vietnam. I believe I have every right to be much more critical because this is the side we are supporting in Vietnam. Thu is the country with which we have become committed in Vietnam, and the behaviour of America there and the reaction that this encourages in Asian minds brushes off on Australia.
When I hear the honourable member for Lalor repeat, as he has both outside and inside this House, the dreadful atrocities which have occurred because of the activities of the side to which we are committed, then I feel gravely appalled that this Government has no clear idea of what our involvement Obliges us to fulfil in the long term or of just how we will become disengaged from this area. It is quite apparent that the Liberal Party has no clear policy on the war in
Vietnam. It is a day to day thing which is based on some sort of hope and some sort of enchanted, whimsical belief that if there is blind and implicit investment in whatever America does in the long term it must pay off for us and which, ignores completely the possibility that a change in the American administration could bring a radical change in the policy towards South Vietnamese by the United States of America and indeed for the whole of the South East Asian area. This is exactly what has occurred. Just to what degree the United States is prepared to commit herself for this country or for any other country in South East Asia is highly dubious. In fact it is extremely difficult to pin the current President of the United States of America down to any precise commitment to this area in the long term.
In any event I want to speak about these atrocities. Honourable members will recall the aftermath of the last World War and how distressed we were as Christians, as humanists, as people in the society of human beings, when we heard of the dreadful atrocities which the Nazis had carried out as related at the Nuremburg trials. We were appalled and many of us were crushed. Our consciences were badly seared. Our sense of values suffered a severe buckling at the thought that any human being could do such things. The latest case of atrocity that I want to refer to involves a United States Army officer. As the honourable member for Lalor said, it is true that there have been worse cases of massive slaughter than this murder which has taken place. I draw the attention of honourable members to just one of the revelations of the Nuremburg trials. A United States Army officer has been charged with the premeditated murder of 109 South Vietnamese, including a 2-year old child, at the My Lai village last year.
I cannot understand why the newspapers in Australia do not seem to be able to whip themselves into the fury of indignation that they whipped themselves into in 1966 when the Australian Labor Party wanted to fight, and in fact did fight, the election in that year on the moral issues involved in this war. Perhaps it will be argued that a different scale of moral issues is involved when the defenceless people being slaughtered are yellow people. But the Press of Australia has not become infuriated at this treatment. I was distressed this morn- ing to lead in one morning newspaper - probably this newspaper is not committed to such a column - a syndicated column from overseas which was an apologia for the slaughter by a United States Army officer in South Vietnam of 109 defenceless civilians. Let us not have any of this diversionary argument that these people were supporters of the Vietcong or that some of the menfolk from the My Lai village were elements of the Vietcong unit which had killed members of an American unit. I do not justify this sort of slaughter either. We are the people who at the end of the Second World War were gravely upset when we heard of the atrocities of Lidice in Czechoslovakia. Immediately I read about this recent horrible slaughter and the shocking atrocities my mind went back to Lidice. Not one newspaper drew any parallel, yet the slaughter at the village of My Lai was far worse than the slaughter that took place at Lidice. One hundred and nine people are mentioned in the murder charge but reports indicate that more than 300 innocent people, including children, were slaughtered. I now refer to ‘The Scourge of the Swastika’ in which Lord Russell of Liverpool states:
One of the war crimes which will be longest remembered was the destruction of the village of Lidice, in Czechoslovakia, and the massacre of a large number of its inhabitants as a reprisal for the shooting by partisans of the Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich.
The Germans arrived in the village late on the night of 9th June 1942 and all the inhabitants were at once ordered to leave their houses, taking with them money and other valuables, and to assemble in the square. All obeyed, but a’ woman and her child who tried to escape on the way were shot down. The women and children were taken by the Gestapo to the school, where they spent the night.
When day dawned on 10th June, all the men of the village were collected in the barns and stable yard of one farm and from there were led into the garden and shot in batches of ten. The shooting went on until 172 male adults had been killed. The executioners were then photographed with the corpses at their feet, like the members of a pheasant shoot with their bag.
A number of the women were taken to Prague and shot there. The remaining 195 were sent to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp where 42 died of ill-treatment, seven were gassed, and three were never seen again. Four women with newly born children were also taken off to a concentration camp after their babies had been murdered.
Is there any difference?
– I think there is a heavy obligation on every citizen of Australia to declare whether he or she can any longer give moral support to the undeclared civil war in Vietnam. I think the obligation is a very real one and there can be no escape for anybody. I think the war is a dreadful war. The very fact that it is an unwinnable war, the very fact that people are still being killed with napalm bombs and phosphorus bombs - and that is happening - is an indictment of our own civilisation and a condemnation of the Americans who foolishly became involved in the war and still persist in their involvement.
The late Senator Dirksen, a highly respected member of the American Senate, put in Congressional Record a few months before he died that America had engaged in 163 wars, declared and undeclared. I think that a war without a declaration of war is an act of piracy, an act of aggression. It does not matter where it happens. It does not matter whether it is in Czechoslovakia or Vietnam or anywhere else, it is still an act of aggression. No person of good conscience can possibly support that sort of activity. I think the theology of war is due for reconsideration by all those who profess a religious belief of any sort. There are so many humbugs among Christians today that one cannot expect too many of them to be honest on this question of war. What suits their particular interest, material or strategic, is valid enough. That is the way they reason.
I hope that the Government will examine this whole question in the period before we meet again. I think that if Song My story is proved to be correct there is an obligation on the government to pull all Austraiian troops out of Vietnam immediately. How can we stay there when such a shocking occurrence is sheeted home to a certain section of the American Army who are our allies? We condemn all the things that happened in the last war at the hands of the Germans. We condemn the bombing of Coventry. I, anyhow, condemn the bombing of Dresden, which had no military significance at all as a city, by the allied side. Civilians have a right to live. I think every man, woman and child in the community has the same right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as any other people. I know all the issues involved, but I think it will be better for the world when we do get out of Vietnam and we write finish’ to all future involvements in any Asian wars of any sort.
I know that people are talking of regional pacts and non-aggression pacts and that sort of thing. I hold stronger views than most people in that regard in my own Party and in the country. I would like to see us look after ourselves and not interfere with other people so that we do not give anybody any justification at some future time for wanting to interfere with us.
Having said that much, I would hope that the Government would take advice and counsel, not only from its own military and defence advisers and its own external affairs officers, but from the community generally so that the national concensus of opinion referred to by the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) can become the operative influence on what the Government does. I know from my reading of history - and men of my age know it well - that General Sir Charles Munro was appointed by the British Government after the demotion of General Sir Ian Hamilton to evacuate all the British, Australian and other allied troops from Gallipoli. He did it very successfully. The day will come when the Americans will have to evacuate Vietnam and do it as gracefully as they can after having given whatever help they want to give to the South Vietnamese people to defend themselves. At this point of time the South Vietnamese people and their government and their armed forces ought to be able to do that. If they cannot, they have no right to call on other people to maintain the government in authority or to protect the integrity of their country.
I do not think that the Americans will ever come to our aid just because we invite them to do so. I think we are very foolish if we expect the American’s to listen to us when we say: ‘We have given you help in Vietnam, now you come to our assistance under certain circumstances.’ There is nothing in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation to justify such a hope. There is nothing in the ANZUS treaty to justify such a hope. ANZUS is not like the North American Treaty Organisation. It has no teeth at all. The British Government was deliberately kept out of the ANZUS Treaty. Although Churchill and Evatt protested, the Australian Government of the day agreed with the Americans that the British had to be kept out of the ANZUS Treaty. The argument advanced was that Malaysia was a British territory or a British area and the Americans were not prepared to extend their influence or make any defence commitments to cover that area.
Having dealt with those foreign matters which are of so much concern to us and about which the Australian people are protesting so vigorously today, I hope that the marches and the moratorium days and all the rest that are sweeping America will be highly successful. If we can have peaceful demonstrations of the same kind in Australia then let us have them because a wrong is being done and a wrong should not be perpetuated. It might sound a little blasphemous to descend from the sublime to the gorblimey but I want to say something about the observations of the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull). The honourable member objects to the principle of one man one vote. He has a little area in Victoria of about 9,000 square miles. It is a pocket handkerchief alongside the electorates held by the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter), the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton), the honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis), and the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard). The honourable member for Mallee wants a loaded franchise for his little cabbage plot. Yet, the honourable member for Kalgoorlie represents 800,000 square miles of Western Australia out of a total area of 1 million square miles, and Western Australia is about one-third of the Commonwealth. If the honourable member for Mallee wants his electorate loaded all in his favour - and he has always wanted that - the honourable member for Kalgoorlie should be able to come in here on the vote of about 4,000 people.
– I explained that. It is all scrub and desert.
– The honourable member wants the scrub to have a vote. He wants sheep to have a vote. He wants the gum trees, the rabbits and the skeleton weed to have votes. Unless we have the principle of one vote one value established we cannot have democracy. If the honourable member does not agree with that he is not a democrat. The honourable member for Mallee has never been a democrat. No man who does not believe in the principle of majority rule can possibly be a democrat. What he is trying to do is to preserve his own little vested interest. To anyone who appreciates this great electoral principle he is doing the wrong thing. There is nothing sacred about majority rule and that is the basis of democracy. Majority rule is a principle of order and not necessarily of justice, but it is the only alternative system to Communism or Fascism.
Mr TURNBULL (Mallee)- I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) in referring to what I had said tonight described the Mallee electorate as having an area of 9,000 square miles. It is approximately 20,000 square miles.
– What is the difference?
– That is nothing to the right honourable member, but it is more than double what he said. The right honourable member should keep to accuracy.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question so resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.53 a.m. (Wednesday) until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr Speaker.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 November 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1969/19691125_reps_27_hor66/>.