27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr FOX presented from certain residents of the State of New South Wales a petition showing that the red kangaroo and many other marsupials, through shooting for commercial purposes, have been reduced to a numerical level where their survival is in jeopardy; none of the Australian States have sufficient wardens to detect and apprehend people breaking the laws in existence in each State, and in such a vast country only uniform laws and a complete cessation of commercialisation can ensure the survival of our national emblem; and it is an indisputable fact that no natural resource can withstand hunting on such a concentrated scale, unless some provision is made for its future.
The petitioners pray that the export of all kangaroo products be banned immediately, and the Commonwealth Government make a serious appraisal of its responsibility in the matter to ensure the survival of the kangaroo.
Petition received and read.
Sir WILFRID KENT HUGHES presented from certain residents of (he State of New South Wales a petition showing that the red kangaroo and many other marsupials, through shooting for commercial purposes, have been reduced to a numerical level where their survival is in jeopardy; none of the Australian States have sufficient wardens to detect and apprehend people breaking the laws in existence in each State, and in such a vast country only uniform laws and a complete cessation of commercialisation can ensure the survival of our national emblem; and it is an indisputable fact that no natural resource can withstand hunting on such a concentrated scale, unless some provision is made for its future.
The petitioners pray that the export of all kangaroo products be banned immediately, and the Commonwealth Government make a serious appraisal of its responsibility in the matter to ensure the survival of the kangaroo.
Mr SNEDDEN presented from certain residents of the State of Victoria a petition showing that because of uncontrolled shooting for commercial purposes, the population of kangaroos, particularly the big red species, is now so low that they may become extinct. There are insufficient wardens in any State of the Commonwealth to detect or apprehend those who break the inadequate laws which exist. As a tourist attraction, the kangaroo is a permanent source of revenue to this country. It is an indisputable fact that no species can withstand hunting on such a scale, when there is no provision being made for its future.
The petitioners pray that the export of kangaroo products be banned immediately, and the Commonwealth Government take the necessary steps to have all wildlife in Australia brought under its control. Only a complete cessation of killing for commercial purposes can save surviving kangaroos.
Mr McMAHON presented from certain electors of the Division of Lowe a petition showing that in the national interest, it is essential that there be an effective and respected Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration system; that the decision given by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the professional engineers case on 3 December 1969, which has followed to the letter in both magnitude and date of operation the salary increases for engineers employed in the Commonwealth Public Service which were announced before thearbitration hearing had concluded, has given rise to utter dismay and has indicated a lack of independent assessment; that recent statements made at the Australian Workers Union Conference and by the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions have indicated disillusionment with the federal arbitration system and have particularly referred to the professional engineers’ case; and that an unacceptable arbitration system must inevitably lead to industrial unrest throughout Australia.
The petitioners pray that the Australian Government take positive action as soon as possible to re-establish confidence in the Commonwealth arbitration system.
Mr CHARLES JONES presented from certain citizens of the Commonwealth a petition showing that the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian education system; a major inadequacy at present in Australian education is the lack of equal education opportunity for all; more than 500,000 children suffer from serious lack of equal opportunity; Australia cannot afford to waste the talents of one-sixth of its school children; only the Commonwealth has the financial resources for special pro grammes to remove inequalities; and nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States have shown that the chief impetus for change and the finance for improvement come from the national Government.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives make legal provision for a joint Commonwealth-State inquiry into inequalities in Australian education to optain evidence on which to base long term national programmes for the elimination of inequalities; .the immediate financing of special programmes for low income earners, migrants, Aboriginals, rural and inner suburban dwellers and handicapped children; and the provision of pre-school opportunities for all children from culturally different or socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Petition received and read.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. It refers to his rather interesting Press statement on Sth May on oral contraceptives and their relation to thromboembolism. The Minister in reporting the recommendation of the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee stated:
However, the use of lower dosage formulations was advisable unless there were specific indications for an oestrogen dosage of one hundred micrograms or more. Women should look to their own doctors for advice on this matter.
Doctors are concerned about the sort of advice they should give.
-Order! The honourable member must not debate the matter. He should ask his question.
– I think my point has been made. As the available data is in widely disseminated scientific journals and sometimes difficult for doctors to obtain, will the Department of Health circulate to members of the medical profession the details on which the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee made its recommendation and all the other factors it considered operative? If such information is to be circulated will the Minister ensure that some degree of detail is given so that doctors can make a judgment as in other publications
-Order! The honourable member’s question is far too long. He should conclude it.
– I think that is enough.
– As the honourable member will possibly be aware the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee arranged, I think towards the end of last year, for a pamphlet or an information paper on this question to go to all medical practitioners. It has also done a great deal of work in examining the literature that is enclosed with these preparations. This is being gradually amended by the companies as recommendations are made for revising them. Whether the information put out by my Department on the advice of the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee last year was sufficient to cover these particular circumstances I do not know, but I shall make some inquiries. I completely agree with the honourable member that members of the profession should have information on this important matter readily available to it so that they will be able to make judgments in particular cases.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a recent report concerning a spray-on antiskid road surface which has already reduced pedestrian crossing accidents by 87%, wet road accidents by 72%, rear end collisions by 73%, and accidents where the driver has lost control by 70% in areas of roads which have been treated by this material in the United Kingdom? lt is claimed that no major roadwork is necessary and that spraying can be done quickly at night time without disturbing the existing road surface.
-Order! The honourable member is now giving information. I suggest he ask his question
– I ask the Minister: In view of the appalling road toll, will he cause an immediate investigation to be made of these claims with a view to persuading this Government and the various State governments to treat their roads with this material as early as possible?
– I think all of us, including the right honourable member for Melbourne, who is interjecting, are concerned at the appalling incidence of road deaths in Australia and any measures that can be taken to reduce the incidence of road fatalities are certainly worth investigating. 1 have seen the report to which the honourable member alluded. 1 believe that in some States there have been experiments with measures somewhat similar to the device which was apparently used with such success in the United Kingdom. I am told that in Melbourne the Country Roads Board has employed a similar proprietary line with equal success. However, as the honourable member will realise, specific road traffic control devices of this nature must come within the ambit of the responsibility of State governments and authorities responsible for road control. However, I shall ensure that the measures referred to by the honourable member and the success of the application of this anti-skid device in the United Kingdom are brought to the attention of responsible State authorities. One would hope that by its application there may be some alleviation of road traffic accidents, particularly at intersections and corners where the volume of traffic apparently is such that a device of this nature is most likely to yield the results for which it is designed.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General and it relates to the removal of a woman from the gallery of the House on Wednesday of this week. Was the person who removed the woman a private citizen? If not, was he a Commonwealth employee? If so, for which Commonwealth department docs he work?
-Order! The question has nothing to do with the Attorney-General. It is outside the ambit of his administration.
– I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise a question. What is the latest information regarding any action taken by the Government in conjunction with the State gover.ments to preserve our unique flora and fauna? Will the Government take any notice of the greatest number of petitions in recent times presented to this Parliament on any one subject, namely the preservation of kangaroos? Does he know that 1 country business in Queensland with 16 employees cannot keep pace with overseas orders for kangaroo skin products?
– The honourable member would know that in response to a question from the honourable member for Henty some weeks ago I undertook in conjunction with my Department to make an investigation of the problems of the conservation of fauna, particularly kangaroos. Since that time a tremendous amount of information has come into my hands and after the sifting of that information it would be my intention to confer with the other Commonwealth Ministers involved and if need be consult with the State Ministers and then place a submission before Cabinet. As the honourable member would know, this is not an easy matter. Some of the fascinating information that has already come into my hands suggests that approximately 1 million kangaroos have been slaughtered in Australia in each year for the past 80 years. On the other hand there is some evidence put forward by other groups that there is a noticeable scarcity of kangaroos in certain areas. There have been other representations from
E people in country areas who still say that kangaroos are an absolute menace not only to their properties but also to the economy.
To act precipitately in this field would be an act of sheer irresponsibility not only because of the issue of the damage that kangaroos may or may not do to our economy, but also because we must remember that at the moment over Sim a year is gained in this way from export income. To cut off those markets without having reason to do so would be an act which I believe this Government would not consider. This investigation is proceeding. I hope that within a short time I will be able to confer with the other Commonwealth Ministers involved - my colleagues the Minister for Primary Industry and the Minister for Education and Science, and others - and report to Cabinet.
– I ask the Treasurer: Is the Government aware of the sorry plight of many thousands of citizens in our community, particularly those on social services and retirement incomes, who are suffering severely from a widespread bout of price increases. Was the last quarterly cost of living increase the greatest in the last 15 years, at least in New South Wales? Specifically, when does the Government intend to adjust the superannuation benefits of its own retired public servants to meet the cost of living increases since 1967? Finally, are there any practical reasons why the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund cannot be reviewed more frequently than once every 5 years.
– I am aware of the price increases which have taken place and the general deleterious effect of inflationary forces. As the honourable member will have noticed, measures have been taken recently to endeavour to curb this inflation and to restore the economy to greater stability. Every action taken to restrain inflation has been criticised either expressly or impliedly by his colleagues. If honourable members believe that this can be cured without taking measures or without the interests of any individual in Australia being adversely affected, this is a very curious mode of thought. I have received a great number of representations about adjustments to superannuation funds. 1 saw the chairman of the retired Commonwealth superannuitants earlier this week at the initiative of my colleague the honourable member for Bradfield. I am aware of what is happening. I am sure also that other honourable members are aware of the deleterious effect of inflation on pension funds of all kinds - including, incidentally, the parliamentary fund - and generally its disruptive effects particularly in rural areas and on all those on fixed incomes, such as superannuitants. I hope that a little more thought for these people will lead honourable members opposite to take a less hostile attitude towards anti-inflationary measures.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral any information concerning an item on a commercial television station in Melbourne which stated that 2 students who were taking part in the Moratorium march had bought over 90 bottles of simulated blood from Bernards, the magic shop in Melbourne?
– I understand that there was such a news item at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. last night on Channel 9 in Melbourne.
I can make no comment other than to express the hope it may not have been correct or that the use of this substance will not be a stimulus to the spilling of real blood during Moratorium demonstrations today.
– Is the Minister for External Affairs aware of a report broadcast on the British Broadcasting Commission news at
II p.m. last night to the effect that the morale of the United States troops in Cambodia was at a very low ebb and was causing concern to the Pentagon and that 1 United States battalion was on the point of mutiny? Would he care to comment on this?
– Order! The question is out of order if it asks for comment.
– 1 did not hear the report that allegedly came over the air last night at 11 o’clock in a British Broadcasting Commission news session. But I say positively to the honourable gentleman that if he has accurately repeated it, he is wrong and so, too. is the BBC.
– Has the Minister for the Army seen a letter published in the Melbourne ‘Age’ on 29th April from an ex-national serviceman who claims that Australian troops razed an entire village in South Vietnam during ‘Operation Ainslie’ in August 1967? Are the allegations correct? ff so, what were the circumstances?
– I did see the letter in question and I have had the allegations examined. My advice is that one of the tasks undertaken by Australian troops during ‘Operation Ainslie’ was the resettlement of some villagers who could not be protected and were living under relatively poor conditions. As a consequence they were moved to a prepared site known as ‘Ap Suoi Nghe’ close to Nui Dat. The Nui Dat base offered them greater protection and they were able to obtain tenure of their own land. Consequently their housing conditions were greatly improved. Wherever possible houses of timber construction in the old village were dismantled and transported to the new hamlet.
The old area was known to be a haven for Vietcong. It is true that after all salvageable material had been removed some destruction occurred. However, I would stress that before this happened the area was carefully searched for personnel and such things as personal belongings. I know that some honourable members have visited the new village and settlement of Ap Suoi Nghe and have been tremendously impressed with the development that has occurred. The area where the villagers have been resettled is now an established community with a market place, school, medical dispensary, reticulated water supply and research farm, all of which would not have been possible in the previous conditions under which the villagers lived.
– The Acting Prime Minister will be aware that debate is proceeding in another place on a motion to appoint a joint select committee of both Houses to investigate Commonwealth and State finances and functions. He wilt also appreciate that many honourable members favour such a committee, particularly if it is also charged with investigating the finances and functions of local government and semi-governmental authorities. 1 therefore ask whether the Government has decided to support this proposition in the other place or. if it is carried there without the Government’s support, whether it has decided to support it when it conies down into this House.
– The question of the Leader of the Opposition is based, as he informed the House, on an incident as yet incomplete in the other House. I think we should wait until it is complete in the other House.
– The Leader of the House wilt be aware that some time ago the Minister for Defence made a long statement on defence policy and also on new defence equipment. Is the Minister aware that a number of members wish to discuss this matter? When will it be brought before the House for discussion?
– The Defence statement by my colleague the Minister for Defence was, as honourable members who have spoken in the debate acknowledged, an excellent one. Perhaps I should have said it was identified as an execellent one by honourable members on this side of the House, not on the other side of the House. We have on the notice paper today a number of items and if honourable gentlemen look at the notice paper that they have they will find that 40 Bills are listed. There are more Bills yet to be introduced. This is the biggest legislative programme of which I have been aware in the period I have been in the Parliament.
We are in somewhat of a dilemma. There is a very big programme of Bills that need to be passed. These pieces of legislation are not merely Bills that are produced for party political or governmental purposes. They are Bills which in fact are national and as national Bills they should be passed as rapidly as they can be having regard to the necessity for examination by all honourable members and adequate time for proper debate. Because of the size of the legislative programme I have had upon me very great pressures to keep the House sitting at night and meeting earlier in the day. The House has agreed to sit earlier than it normally does. But with all these aspects in mind and especially having regard to the number of new members in the House who have not yet adjusted to the tempo of parliamentary procedure there is a dilemma. The problem is to provide enough time for debate on major national issues, such as the defence statement and the foreign affairs statement, yet get the legislation through. I indicate to the honourable member for La Trobe that it is my great hope that we will be able to pass the legislation and still have time to debate the defence statement.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. Has the composition of the Djakarta conference on Cambodia been decided? When will these talks start and how long will they last? Who will be the members of the Australian Delegation? What are the objectives of the Government participation in the conference? Does the Minister agree that this Government’s commitment to the Vietnam war will severely restrict the effectiveness of the Australian participation?
– There were 5 questions asked by the honourable gentleman. If I can remember them I will give a detailed answer to each. Firstly, the conference has been agreed to. Secondly, I cannot remember all the nations that are going to the conference but I can assure him that the Indonesians will be there, and also the Thais, the Malayasians, the Singaporeans, the Filipinos and the New Zealanders and, of course, we will be there. So it can be seen that those governments which want peace in South East Asia will be represented.
– What about Japan? Japan will be there.
– If you want to make a speech, my boy, you do so later on.
– Rather a big omission.
– You have never grown up.
-Order! Yesterday I reminded the same 2 honourable gentlemen that talking across the table was not in order. I suggest for the dignity and decorum of the House they should have due regard to the Standing Orders.
– What is obvious is that those governments and countries that are favoured by Opposition members, particularly Communist China, North Vietnam and the Vietcong, have refused to come to the conference and consequently will not participate. The honourable gentleman also asked about the objective, lt is a pity that he has not listened to the answers that I have given in this House on at least 2 occasions because I then declared the purposes to be, firstly, to relate exclusively to Cambodia if that can be done; secondly, to have the principle declared that we do not believe in interference in the affairs of other countries; thirdly, that the people in those countries should have the right by a free vote to determine the type of government they want in their countries and the. kind of life they want to live; and fourthly, to appeal for a reconvening of the International Control Commission. I should like to know whether the Australian Labor Party would support the first 2 principles. Until the present moment I have not heard it give 1 measure of support to those 2 great principles which were written into the Bandung Declaration of some years ago.
As to the part of the question which asked whether I felt that our participation might in any way affect the conference or the success of the conference, I am convinced that it will have no effect. I have access to all the cables that are coming through and I can assure the honourable member that Indonesia welcomes Australia as a country which is dedicated to peace and, consequently, one that will be prepared to play its part at the conference. I challenge the honourable member to say that that is the objective of his Party.
– I address a question to the Acting Prime Minister. How many Austraiian trade commissioners are stationed in overseas countries? Have new appointments been made during the past 12 months? Are these trade commissioners making a valuable contribution to increasing Australia’s overseas trade?
- Mr Speaker-
– Give them a salary increase.
– Order! The honourable member for Sydney will cease interjecting.
– This is the first time I have spoken.
-Order! I remind the honourable member that when I speak to him I do not want to be answered back on every occasion.
– There are 104 Australian trade commissioners stationed in overseas countries. That number includes 1 trade commissioner who is on loan under the Colombo Plan to the Government of Malaysia. I cannot say how many trade commissioners have been appointed in the past 12 months, but since the beginning of last year 23 have been appointed. That would not be a net addition to the number because some have retired or been brought back into the Department in Australia during that time. In all the evidence that comes to me in the constant stream of letters from Australian firms and other interests throughout the world there is not the slightest doubt that the Australian Trade Commissioner Service is performing a very useful function in facilitating and increasing Australia’s trade and is very greatly respected.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that many income tax avoidance schemes are being carried out, particularly by large and wealthy companies and their shareholders? Is it a fact also that I drew the attention of the Treasurer to some of these income tax avoidance schemes in a speech in this House on 18th March 1970? Will the Treasurer take urgent action to bring down amending legislation to prevent this legalised tax avoidance and share the tax burden in a more equitable manner than is the case now?
– It is open under the law for any citizen to operate the laws as he can best to his advantage.
– Within the law. I would say that this is not confined just to companies or the particular people to whom the honourable member has referred. A great number of individuals, some of whom may be in this House, use every device they can to lower their tax bill. The Commissioner of Taxation and the taxation machine generally are constantly on the alert to prevent loss to the revenue by various tax dodging devices. Naturally these are being invented all the time by very ingenious gentlemen and it is not possible to keep up with their pace. The taxation law inevitably moves a little behind events. However, if the honourable member has any good practical suggestions and examples which we could bring in quickly I should certainly be very delighted for the information that he can provide. The general position is understood by all. But chatter about the general position does not help the job of collecting necessary taxation.
– I direct a question to the Deputy Prime Minister. Is the Deputy Prime Minister aware that stores in Melbourne and Sydney have been forced to put up shutters, employ security guards and have extra plate glass oh hand in case of violence at this insane Moratorium demonstration today? At my daughter’s school, all children will be sent home at 11 a.m. today to avoid the risk of their travelling through the city-
-Order! The honourable member is now giving information. He will ask his question.
– I Will rephrase it. Is the Deputy Prime Minister aware that at my daughter’s school all children will be sent home at 11 a.m. today to avoid the risk of their travelling through the city this afternoon? Is he aware that, following an emotional address concerning the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign by the honourable member for Lalor on the Yarra Bank last
Sunday, a number of people marched on the United States Consulate in Melbourne smashing the windows of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation on the way-
-Order! I have informed the honourable member for Deakin already that he is giving information. 1 suggest that he now ask his question or resume his seat.
– I will ask my question. I ask the Deputy Prime Minister: Is this act of vandalism a clear example-
– I take a point of order, lt is the Acting Prime Minister, not the Deputy Prime Minister.
-Order! No point of order arises.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister: ls this act of vandalism a clear example of the kind of violence inherent in such an emotional protest as the Vietnam Moratorium? Will the Commonwealth Police-
-Order! The honourable members question is far too long. This is the third occasion on which I have had to warn the honourable member. He will resume his seat.
– May I finish it? Will Commonwealth Police-
-Order! The honourable member will resume bis seat.
– I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise: Has he received representations from registered breeders of budgerigars - I tell honourable members who are laughing that this is an important matter - to allow registered breeders of budgerigars to export a number of domestically raised birds. Does the Minister intend to apply to this request the principle advocated yesterday by the Acting Prime Minister in regard to another species peculiar to Australia, the merino ram - that is, that the breeders are the people to make the decision, not this Parliament?
– Although a great percentage of my portfolio is concerned with the activities of certain kinds of birds the species that the honourable gentleman mentions has not yet been brought to my notice. However, I will look into the matter and reply to him directly.
– My question is addressed to the Acting Prime Minister. The dictionary definition of the word moratorium’, which derives from the Latin verb ‘morari’, is ‘to delay an act authorising a debtor or hank to defer or suspend payment for a time’. If this definition is related to the mob action which is anticipated in Melbourne today, I ask: Is the object of the rally to defer or to delay action by the Allies in Vietnam so that the sorely pressed Communists may get a breathing space and time to reorganise?
– There was a time - it was about the time I first came to this Parliament, and a little before that - when the word ‘moratorium’ was quite common in the vocabulary of all Australians. That was a time when there was very great economic distress in the country. We all at that time knew what the word ‘moratorium’ meant.
I would hope now that the word moratorium’ as used today is nol to be associated with a period of great distress and suffering for many Australians, although I fear this is the plain intention of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign. No doubt exists that the present campaign was not conceived in Australia. The campaign was applied first in the United States of America where, from coast to coast, north to south, as a consequence of the campaign there, great disorders, great damage, great civil disturbance, not a little human suffering and, indeed, some deaths occurred. It is beyond my comprehension why people enjoying the privileges of being Australian citizens seek to transplant into this country that circumstance which we have seen exhibited in the United States of America. There is not the slightest doubt that the Moratorium Campaign is intended to try to achieve by political means in the Australian Parliament, as it has sought to achieve in the United States Congress, the aid and succour of the Communist forces, whom our troops are fighting, which they themselves have not been able to achieve in the field of battle.
-Order! The honourable gentleman is now giving information. I suggest to him that he ask his question.
– Will the Minister make a full statement on this matter?
– No, I am not aware that there is confusion and resentment in relation to bookings for the Indian-Pacific rail service. As the honourable gentleman is aware, the name Indian-Pacific has been given to a train which operates a service east and west across Australia twice a week. Of course, many other trains also follow the same route linking different points between Sydney and the Fremantle terminal. Indeed, in terms of the operation of this route, the Indian-Pacific is intended to be basically an express service. It has been designed to provide the quickest possible form of rail transport between the 2 points. Certainly, the time it takes to complete the journey is not yet as short as many of us would like. However, I repeat that the Indian-Pacific is the name given to the express service across the continent.
I am not aware at this stage of the difficulties to which the honourable gentleman has referred in terms of pensioner concession rates. I have mentioned previously in the House that as from 1st April last pensioner concessions would be made avail able for travel on the Commonwealth section of the standard gauge line across Australia. The Commonwealth owns only part of the line on which the Indian-Pacific travels. The section to which the honourable gentleman referred in his question is the part which is operated by the Commonwealth Railways and it is the only part in respect of which Commonwealth concessions can be extended. Within each of the States of the Commonwealth different forms of assistance are provided to pensioners by the State governments through their own railway systems. It needs to be recognised that the State systems operate on a somewhat different basis from that of the Commonwealth system. The Commonwealth system is basically an interstate one and, consequently, it is perhaps more able to extend the type of concessions to which the honourable gentleman referred than are some of the State systems. However, the general question of the extension of pensioner concessions has been and is being discussed amongst the operators of the respective railway systems. Perhaps some extension of these concessions by the States may be expected in the future as a result of these discussions. They may be on the same basis as those which the Commonwealth now provides. Regarding details of train bookings, I will check the facilities and opportunities available for residents of Broken Hill and reply to the honourable member later.
– Will the Minister for Repatriation give consideration to enabling the local repatriation committees, which were formed after World War II - and very few of them are still in existence - to assist persons who have served in Vietnam and in other wars since the Korean War and World War II, as I understand that at present there are some restrictions on their ability to help these ex-servicemen?
– I do not have the facts regarding the local repatriation committees at my disposal. I will certainly check on their authority to assist ex-servicemen from Vietnam. The honourable member can rest assured that if any restriction is placed on these committees it will certainly be removed as it relates to the men who have served in Vietnam, if that is possible within the Government’s general policy.
– 1 ask the Minister for External Affairs: What is the position of the 33 Australian engineers, who have been engaged on the construction of the PrekThnot dam in Cambodia?
– Some weeks ago we made arrangements for all dependants of Australians to leave Cambodia and to go either to Singapore or to Bangkok. Similarly we arranged that the personnel of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority should be watched carefully and if it was felt that their construction operations might be interfered with or their lives might be endangered they, too, were to be brought either to Phnom Penh or, if it was thought desirable, to either Singapore or Bangkok. ] am not sure just how far this movement has gone but J will find out for the honourable gentleman and let him know. I can assure him that we have been particularly cautious in ensuring that aircraft are standing by. At the time when we thought the greatest danger existed we had a ship within 24 hours sailing time of Cambodian ports. I believe we have taken all the precautions that are necessary and desirable to protect Australian lives.
– My question also is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. In view of the statements that have been made by the Leader of the Opposition and his associates and colleagues who support the Vietnam Moratorium can the Minister let me know the reason for the decision by the Governments of South Vietnam and the United States of America to engage the North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces in both the Parrot’s Beak and the Fish Hook areas of Cambodia adjacent to South Vietnam? Secondly, can he inform the House in precise terms the objectives and purposes of these actions and whether the Government of Cambodia welcomes the joint South Vietnamese and United States actions?
– First, if I may give the honourable gentleman the background of the United States and Vietnamese operations in Svay Rieng province - that is, the Parrot’s Beak and Fish Hook areas - and later in the San River area immediately opposite Pleiku the facts are that for some time now, according to intelligence reports, it has been thought that there would be renewed hostility in terms of high point operations in the northern provinces of South Vietnam. Only yesterday we received a report that a largescale high point operation had, in fact, taken place. Similarly, too, mere have been largescale deployment operations in the Mu Gia area and in other parts of Vietnam. The whole trend of events has been one of a redeployment of North Vietnamese regiments. This supports the theory that high point operations will take place. In Laos the North Vietnamese have moved further south than ever before and have in fact occupied the town of Attopeu which is very close to the Cambodian border and, according to the latest reports, they have moved even further south. In Cambodia, North Vietnam and Indo China the forces have surrounded villages and administrative centres. There is no doubt that these operations are combined with those in Laos and South Vietnam. In fact, from captured documents we know that these operations are co-ordinated and are intended to help the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong in their operations in South Vietnam.
Now, as to the United States and South Vietnamese purpose in entering the 3 areas 1 have just mentioned, primarily and fundamentally it is with the objective of saving the lives of American, South Vietnamese and free world forces there. But it also has a secondary objective, and that is to ensure that during the forthcoming months the supply depots existing there are destroyed and cannot be used for attacks into the Hi and IV Corps areas of South Vietnam. As to our own purpose, we have made it clear on a number of occasions that what we want is freedom and independence and the right of these countries to determine their own future. On the contrary, it is the policy of the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong that there should be a coalition government in Vietnam not elected but forced upon the people by the North Vietnamese. The secondary policy of the North Vietnamese is that American and all other allied troops should be withdrawn, although it is not their intention to withdraw the North Vietnamese troops or lo pacify the Vietcong. In other words, their intentions are destructive; our intentions are to ensure the freedom of the 3 free countries of the Indo-China peninsula.
– In accordance with the undertaking given by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and with the concurrence of the State Ministers for Mines, 1 now table correspondence between the Minister for National Development and the State Ministers for Mines relating to offshore minerals other than petroleum between 26th February 1969 and 9th December 1969, together with the transcript of proceedings of meetings of the Australian Minerals Council held on 3rd March 1969 and 26th September 1969 referring to off-shore minerals other than petroleum. There is no relevant correspondence on this subject in the above period between the Prime Minister and the Premiers or between the Commonwealth Attorney-General and the State Attorneys-General.
– by leave -I am glad that the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) has today, in accordance with the undertaking of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) of 3 weeks ago, tabled certain documents relating to Commonwealth-State negotiations on the proposed off-shore minerals legislation. I thank the Prime Minister for having made these documents available to me when I sought them from htm some weeks ago, and for having discussed the matter with me on 2 occasions. I should also like to thank the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEvven) for making available a considerable amount of his time to discuss this problem with me.
The 2 major documents which were tabled were the minutes of the Australian Minerals Council meetings on 3rd March 1969 and 26th September 1969. At both these meetings I represented the Commonwealth as Minister for National Development. In order to understand these minutes the House should understand the background which preceded the original meeting of 3rd March. I was authorised by Cabinet to make an offer to the States at that meeting. That offer was that the States should retain control of the mineral resources of the territorial seabed, that is, from low water mark to the 3-mile mark off-shore, while the Commonwealth legislated to take over total rights outside the 3-mile limit to the edge of the continental shelf. I made that offer. I am reducing everything to its simplest terms so as not to cause any misunderstandings. The States were not happy with this offer. They believed that the introduction of a different system in relation to off-shore minerals other than petroleum could lead to confusion in the mining industry. As a result the States came up with a counter offer that the Commonwealth should re-consider a set-up for off-shore minerals that was already operating satisfactorily, in the States’ view, for off-shore petroleum. I undertook to refer this proposal back to Cabinet and also undertook that before the Commonwealth took any action there would be further consultation with the States.
Two points emerge from this. Firstly, I did not commit the Commonwealth as David Fairbairn; I committed it as the Minister for National Development, authorised and instructed by Cabinet to act as the Commonwealth’s negotiator. Any commitment made within the limits of the authority I was given by the Cabinet was binding on the Cabinet and on the Government. The second point that arises from this is that the commitment was given that there would be further discussions. This commitment also was binding on the Cabinet and the Government. Thus 2 questions that must be answered arise. The first question is: Was a commitment entered into? And the second question is: If it was, was this commitment honoured? I have heard it argued that the undertaking I entered into was not legally binding on the Commonwealth. I flatly refuse to accept that argument. Has public morality in this country declined to such a degree that an agreement entered into by the Commonwealth is not binding unless it is legally enforceable? If that is the position, we have come to a pretty despicable state of affairs. Is it believed in Australia today that the word of the Commonwealth Government means nothing unless those to whom this word is given have some legal means of enforcing it? How could anyone ever trust us again if that is the position?
What is the worth of an electoral promise? The voters are not given a pledge in a legally enforceable form. They have to rely upon our honour, and if we have no honour we have nothing.
I turn to whether a commitment was made to the States by the Commonwealth. I believed that I had entered into a commitment on behalf of the Commonwealth. The official record confirms this. I ask the House to study the document entitled Commonwealth-State Meeting - Off-shore Minerals Legislation’. It is dated 26th September 1969. It flows from the meeting of 3rd March, but I am concentrating on it rather than the document of 3rd March because it is of a later date. I ask honourable members to look at page 2. This records remarks made by the Western Australian Minister for Mines and Justice, Mr Griffith. Mr Griffith, in dealing with my statement at the meeting of 3rd March, on page 2, states:
The State Ministers note that the Commonwealth proposal envisages State control of territorial waters, but the Ministers believe that a cooperative scheme extending to both territorial waters and the continental shelf and based on a pooling of legislative competence is desirable in the national interest.
This statement, of course, arose from an offer that I was authorised to make by Cabinet to the State governments. I now ask honourable members to look at page 3 of this document. I - not David Fairbairn but the Minister for National Development - accepted the proposition that there would be further discussions on this matter. The document states:
At the present moment our plans are to have a Minerals Council meeting some time in February. This would mean that we would have an opportunity of further discussions on this matter.
This is me speaking. I did not need to make it more explicit. I assumed that the State Ministers would accept me as a man of honour speaking on behalf of a government of honour. I turn to page 16. We are repeating ourselves, but politicians often repeat themselves to make things crystal clear. At the bottom of the page Mr Griffith is recorded as saying:
But if the Commonwealth would give us an assurance that we could meet soon after the election for the purpose of further discussing our difficulties, with the Commonwealth attitude not being one that it is going to take away from the States all it can as a result of the High Court predictions - if ] can call them predictions - I would feel happier about the whole thing. Because you are going to ask us to administer this, you know.
I replied to this on page 17. I drew attention to the difficulties of the timetable. Here again I was speaking as the Commonwealth negotiator. I said:
I am prepared to meet the Ministers for Mines as soon as possible after we have had an opportunity of discussing this . . .
By ‘this’ 1 meant the States’ counter proposals. I continued: in the Cabinet but it would obviously be essential that we should have had this opportunity of some discussions and, as you know, you cannot always get an immediate decision.
I went on to say:
Perhaps we could have a meeting just before Christmas but, I don’t see much chance of anything before that.
Again 1 committed the Commonwealth to prior discussions. Let me say this: 1 made that commitment within the authority conferred on me by the Prime Minister. On 30th July 1969 I wrote to the Prime Minister and said: 1 seek your guidance as to the course of action you would like me to follow. My own inclination would be to write to the State Ministers and tell them that, due to pressure of the forthcoming Budget session of Cabinet, followed by the parliamentary Budget session and the prospects of an early election, I feel unable to propose a firm date to resume these discussions in the immediate future. I will suggest that the matter be taken up at the next scheduled meeting of the Minerals Council, which is set down for February 1970. I will also reassure the States that the Commonwealth will not legislate unilaterally until there has been an opportunity to discuss fully and frankly the views which I expressed on behalf of the Commonwealth Government in my statement on March 3rd.
To this the Prime Minister replied on 18th August. He wrote:
Whilst 1 have no objections to your writing to the State Ministers in the general terms proposed in your letter, I would want to avoid, if at all possible, a situation where the Comonwealth became committed to long drawn out discussions for consultations with the States on this matter. For this reason 1 would prefer that you eliminate from your proposed letter the suggestion that the Commonwealth will not legislate unilaterally until after the completion of full and frank discussions with the States on this matter. I think we should preserve as much room for maneouvre as possible in this matter
I ask the House to note particularly the words ‘if at all possible*. I construed them - and I think any sensible man would - as a position I was to maintain only if I could.
It was not an embargo on entering into such a commitment. As it happened, the attitude of the States at the 26th September meeting made it dear that I would have to give* them a commitment to consult before legislation. I entered - as I was authorised to do - into a commitment. After all, the Prime Minister had not been opposed to my telling the States - and I quote from my letter:
I will suggest that the matter be taken up at the next scheduled meeting of the Minerals Council, which is set down for February 1970.
Let me return now to the minutes of the 26th September meeting.. As these minutes show, 1, as the Commonwealth negotiator, not only accepted the commitment for further negotiations but I agreed to the date of the meeting at which the further consultations were to take place. We were talking about December. The New South Wales Minister for Mines, Mr Fife, asked me:
Would you like us to hold ourselves available for a meeting on, say, 15th, subject to events at the Commonwealth level?
The ‘events at the Commonwealth level’ was obviously a reference to the coming election and the possibility of some Cabinet reorganisation. The official transcript stated: Mr Fairbairn- Yes, I think that would be best.
We had reached the stage at which we had fixed the date of a future meeting. Let us turn now to page 24. Mr Griffith said:
I have pressed you to a meeting in December and with this in mind - the possibility of the status quo arrangements being continued until the Commonwealth and the States come to a ‘mutual’ arrangement - and I stress the word ‘mutual’ - I would gladly withdraw and suggest that you call the meeting when you are ready.
Are those not the words of a man who believes - as I believed - he had entered into an agreement? I now turn to page 30. In the last 2 paragraphs Mr Griffith asked:
But under this proposed legislation who would have the legal rights within the 3-mile limit?
The honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) who was then the Commonwealth Attorney-General and who attended the meeting in that capacity, replied:
Probably a designated authority who would derive his authority in the case of up to the 3-mile limit from the State legislation and outside from the Commonwealth.
This was the basis on which we were then negotiating. We had given an undertaking that there would be further discussions. As the Commonwealth has now changed its mind and intends to seek powers not from the 3-miie limit about which the Attorney-General was then speaking but from the low water mark, surely the moral obligation to consult further becomes even heavier; or does not a government undertaking entered into by its authorised negotiator count anymore? Is this a manifestation of the irresponsibility of the permissive society at governmental level?
I now turn to pages 36 and 37. Mr Griffith was meeting the Commonwealth’s convenience. He said that he realised it would be difficult for the Commonwealth to arrange a meeting on 15th December. Mr Griffith said that the States would accept a later meeting. He is recorded as doing this on page 36 and at the top of page 37. I said:
All Tight. And we would have an interim meeting as soon as we are ready to discuss this particular matter, and have a later meeting in May.
If the States cannot accept those kinds of assurances, government in this country is reaching a pretty low ebb. If the Commonwealth takes the attitude that the States have no rights because the agreement, undertaking - call it what you like - is not legally enforceable, what the Commonwealth is saying is that if the Commonwealth promises something get it written into a contract immediately, and in an enforceable form, otherwise the promise is not worth anything.
So far I have dealt with the one question which, as I have said earlier, is: ‘Was a commitment entered into?’ I believe the commitment was entered into. The States believe, and have stated publicly, that the commitment was entered into. The key document, the report of the 26th September meeting, makes it abundantly clear that the commitment was entered into. Please do not give me this legal claptrap. It was a commitment and the Government was morally bound to honour it whether it was legally enforceable or not.
I turn now to question 2: Was this commitment honoured? There have been suggestions not, I believe, emanating from the present Minister for National Development, that it was honoured - not in a formal conference, as the States believed it would be honoured, but in individual talks between the Minister for National Development and individual State Ministers. I will return to this. Other suggestions try to say that the commitment has been honoured because the Minister for National Development has met the State Ministers after the decision to legislate unilaterally from the low water mark had been announced by the Commonwealth. I do not think anyone would take this latter argument seriously. A meeting held after the Commonwealth had decided to go it alone completely abrogates the previous understanding and can have no influence on the Commonwealth’s announced policy. I return to the question of whether adequate individual talks occurred between the Minister for National Development and the State Mines Ministers. All I can do in the present circumstances, as I was not a participant in what went on, is to draw upon the minutes of a meeting of State Mines Ministers and Attorneys-General which was held in Melbourne on Friday, 1.3 th March of this year. The minutes reveal that Mr Griffith, who acted as Chairman, went around the table. He asked each of the States to give him their version of their conversations with the Minister for National Development. Mr Griffith, referring to the minister for National Development, is on record as follows:
Mr Griffith: He visited’ rae and had a general conversation with me pertaining to the mineral industry in my State. I have no recollection of him mentioning anything about the waters beyond the low water mark. I do not think in my conversation with Mr Swartz that he mentioned the 3-mile limit or the continental shelf, expressly dividing one from the other. It was a general statement.
At this meeting Mr Griffith also said that, when later he heard of the Commonwealth proposals to resolve the legal question of sovereign control of the resources of the continental shelf - and I quote:
My reaction to this statement was that I thought it would be a great pity if the Commonwealth simply moved into the field of legislating in view of the undertakings which had been given us that we would have further consultation with the Commonwealth before they did legislate.
Mr Griffith went on:
When I found out that the Commonwealth intended’ to legislate not only in respect of the continental shelf but also to the low water mark. . .
The minutes tend to confirm what is already publicly known which is that Mr Griffith found out when he received a telegram followed by a letter from the Minister for National Development just before the Governor-General’s Speech. Mr Griffith continued:
I was quite horrified to think that matters had gone this far, and 1 thought this was an abrogation of the understanding that we had wilh the previous Minister
Mr Fife, Minister for Mines in New South Wales was even more definite. The minutes report him as saying:
The Minister for National Development did call on me at about the same time as he made calls on other Ministers for Mines throughout Australia, but in our discussion this matter did not arise, and so there has been no discussion between the Minister for National Development and myself on this particular issue.
I am sorry to delay the House like this, but I feel that this matter of the Government honouring its commitments is of public concern, and that when a government gives its word that word must be honoured. However, I will be as brief as I can. Mr Balfour, the Minister for Mines in Victoria, was absent from his State when the Minister for National Development was in Victoria. The minutes report Mr Balfour as saying:
I understand that the matter of off-shore minerals was not mentioned and the main discussions which took place revolved around nuclear energy and power stations.
Dr Delamothe, the Acting Minister for Mines and Attorney-General in Queensland was unsure about whether the Minister for National Development had seen Mr Camm, the Queensland Minister for Mines, before Mr Camm went abroad. But Dr Delamothe drew the attention of the meeting to a telegram sent by the Queensland Government after 2nd March. That telegram stated:
That is, for the Commonwealth to take powers from the low water mark:
The South Australian Minister for Mines, Mr de Garis had this to say:
Yes, 1 had a visit from Mr Swartz. The question of off-shore minerals did not arise in the discussions until 1 raised it myself with him, and there was absolutely no doubt in my mind from that interview that the Commonwealth would legislate in relation to off-shore minerals from the low water mark.
The Tasmanian Minister for Mines. Mr Bessell, was absent from Tasmania when the Minister for National Development visited thai State. The minutes report Mr Bessell as saying:
I understand (hat if Mr Swartz discussed this matter wilh anybody, it would bc with the Premier. Mr Be thu lie, but ire h.ive no indication cither in the Mines Department or the Attorney-General’s Department that any discussion look place in relation to this legislation whatsoever.
At a later stage in the minutes. Mr Fife sums up by saying:
The summary of the complaints that we have made this morning is that there has been no prior consultation.
Mr Griffith made a remark to this effect:
Therefore it appeared thai allegations of private consultations in this matter are not correct as from the statements made around this table, he did not see us all.
But perhaps the most devastating of all statments recorded in the minutes of this meeting was made by Queensland’s Dr Delamothe. He is not an Opposition backbencher trying to make political capital out of an awkward situation for the Government. He is the highly respected Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party in the Queensland Government. But he makes this claim:
There has been an arrant and. I believe, considered breach of faith on the part of the Commonwealth.
Mr Speaker, this is not a small matter. It involves the good faith of the Government and the worth of its undertakings. Please do not ask me to accept that because an agreement is legally unenforceable therefore there is not an agreement. What kind of government would rely upon that argument? How can government function honourably and decently on that basis? It seems to me that the Government has acted in the last few months as though it had a clean slate in this matter, whereas in reality 1 do not believe anyone who goes through the records and minutes could imagine for a moment that that is the case. I think the House will agree that the documents I have quoted establish two things: Firstly, the Commonwealth entered into an agreement and, secondly, that agreement has not been honoured, or should I say more accurately it has been dishonoured. It is quite wrong to say that the States had rejected the Commonwealth proposal. They have certainly not rejected it; all they had done was to suggest an alternative. They believed negotiations and discussions were still under way. After all, it took 3 years before agreement was reached on the petroleum offshore legislation. We had been negotiating on this matter for only 6 months. If there has been excessive delay in resolving this matter, the Commonwealth has probably been just as culpable as the States. It is my belief that the honouring of Government undertakings is essential, and that if this is to be described as old-fashioned morality all 1 can say is that the sooner we revert to a bit of old-fashioned morality the better it will be for Australia and for the governed as well as for those who do the governing.
– by leave - [ had hoped that the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) would move that the House take note of the paper. A precedent has been created in two ways by the speech which we have just heard from the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn). He has set a precedent in revealing the proceedings of the Cabinet and in revealing the correspondence between the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and himself. 1 need not embroider the indictment which he has delivered. Honourable members know him to be a man of honour and they know that he at least would take and observe accurate minutes.
I would hope that the other precedent which has been set is one which we can follow on later occasions, whatever our political differences may be between parties or within parties, lt was 3 years ago. I recollect, when I received the final answers to questions on this very matter of the difficulty which honourable members in this House have had in ascertaining the proceedings and negotiations between the Commonwealth and the States. Unquestionably, of course, honourable members of the State Parliaments have the same difficulty. In our federal system we increasingly find the situation arising where parliamentarians can never discuss intergovernmental agreements until they are cut and dried. The position 3 years ago arose in relation to the off-shore oil agreement. The same position has arisen more recently over Dartmouth and Chowilla. The honourable member for Farrer was just as reluctant - we would say remiss - in allowing honourable members of the House to know what the expert documents were or what the state of the negotiations was concerning matters such as Chowilla and Dartmouth.
Like all honourable members in all the parliaments concerned, we were faced with an agreement. It is cut and dried. We either accept the agreement as it is or declare that we have no confidence in the Government which concluded the agreement with other governments. There is a certain irony in quoting now the reasons which the late Prime Minister gave for refusing to table documents of negotiations between the Commonwealth and the States. He had tabled correspondence with the Premier of Victoria concerning natural gas since he had cleared that matter with the Premier. Then I brought to his notice the fact that the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) had been refused such information on the Queensland Government’s requests for financial, technical and evaluation assistance for water conservation projects north of Brisbane. This was in September 1966. In October 1966, the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) had been refused similar information in relation to an approach by the New South Wales Government for financial assistance for a 5-year water conservation plan. Also in October 1966 I had been refused information on communications with the New South Wales and Queensland Governments concerning the border rivers of those States and communications with the Queensland and/ or Western Australian Governments concerning the Snowy Mountains Authority. I asked if he had asked the other Premiers whether they agreed to make such information public and, if not, whether he would now ask them. The right honourable gentleman’s reply on 4th May 1967 was:
The correspondence about off-shore gas was released by mutual agreement in the circumstances relevant te the particular subject under discussion, but this does not mean that all or particular items of correspondence -between myself and the State Premiers should be made public. When a Premier writes to me he is entitled to expect that bis correspondence will be treated in confidence, just as I expect that my letters to Premiers will be treated in the same way. If this were not so, tha present harmonious way of conducting business between the Commonwealth and State governments would break down.
That is exquisitely ironical because nothing could be less harmonious than the proceedings between the Commonwealth and State Governments on this current matter of the territorial sea. The relations between the Commonwealth and the States, all members of the same political party, are so lacking in harmony for the very reason that the correspondence was never revealed to their colleagues in the Parliaments. The same argument was repeated later that month when I further asked about information being refused in February 1967 on the same grounds to the honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey) concerning requests by the Western Australian Government for Commonwealth financial assistance for further development projects and again in April 1967. In view of the fact that Mr Holt had told me that the Premiers had not cleared the release of the information in the previous case I asked him:
Has he asked the Premier - of Western Australia- whether he agrees to make the information public; if so, when did he ask him?
Mr Holt’s answer on 19th May 1967 was no. Then he repeated what he had said before to the effect that such communications had to be confidential otherwise there would be no possibility of harmonious relations between the Commonwealth and the States.
This second precedent which has been set today in releasing correspondence at least may enable parliamentarians to conduct their affairs in a more enlightened and rational way than Australian governments have permitted them to do within our federal system in recent years. It is rather difficult for us on this side to understand why on 16th April - last month - the honourable member for Farrer voted against the motion by the honourable member for Dawson that these documents should be tabled.
– After agreement by the Prime Minister to table them.
– It was very difficult to ascertain on that evening what the relations were between the honourable member and the Prime Minister, or between any of his colleagues and the Prime Minister or between any of his colleagues and himself. But on that occasion the honourable member for Farrer at least accepted the undertaking. He trusted the honour of the Prime Minister. On this occasion on the matter of the correspondence he has, of course, refused to do so. As T have said, 1 do not need to embroider the precedent which he has created by revealing the nature of the Cabinet discussions on this matter, and of his own relations with his leader and of his leader’s conduct in regard to this further set of minutes, but I do feel at least that this is the appropriate opportunity to point out that at least in this matter concerning the Commonwealth and the States members of all the parliaments in Australia will know what was done by the governments responsible to them. I regret that the Minister has not seen (it to enable a debate to take place on this matter. Only he can move such a motion and nobody, of course, except members of the Cabinet, or a former member of the Cabinet like the honourable member for Farrer, have had access to these documents which have now been tabled.
Mr FAIRBAIRN (Farrer)- Mr Speaker, I desire to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Leader of the Opposition suggested that 1 was revealing the nature of Cabinet discussions. T should like to make it perfectly clear that in my statement 1 referred to 3 documents, none of which was a Cabinet document. Two of those 3 documents related to meetings of the Australian Minerals Council and the Prime Minister and every State Premier said that those could be tabled, and they are now available to honourable members. The third document that I referred to is the minutes of the meeting of the Ministers for Mines held in Melbourne on 13th March this year. 1 spoke to the Minister for Mines in New South Wales, Mr Fife, and he said that he could see no objection to my quoting from this document, lt is well known that many copies of it are available throughout the Commonwealth. I just made the point that I did not at any stage reveal the nature of Cabinet discussions.
Mr SWARTZ (Darling Downs - Minister for National Development) - by leave - Dealing with the last point that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) raised in relation to a debate on this matter, we have granted leave to him to comment as we gave leave to the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) to make his comments. I should like to direct the attention of the House to the fact that the request made by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) originally was for certain documents to be tabled. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) gave an undertaking that the correspondence and the minutes concerned would be tabled in the House. This was the request at the time. We have subsequently looked through the correspondence. We have cleared the matter with the State Ministers for Mines and the Prime Minister has also cleared the matter with the State Premiers and we have their authority to table the documents in Parliament. This has been done. The undertaking that was given has been fulfilled. lt was not intended that this was to be a debate. It was never suggested that this would be a matter in relation to which a statement would be made and a debate ensue, lt was an undertaking to table some documents so that they would be available to any honourable member or publicly to the Press if the Press required them for information during the debate which will ensue on the second reading of the Bill before the House at the present time on the territorial sea, and on a subsequent Bill to be introduced relating to a mining code for off-shore minerals other than petroleum. This was the purpose of tabling the documents and T can assure you, Mr Deputy Speaker, of the fact that the statement for which leave was given today by the honourable member for Farrer came as a surprise to me, as I am sure it did to the honourable member for Dawson. We would not withhold leave if the honourable member wished to make a statement at this time, as we did not withhold leave from the Leader of the Opposition.
I merely say by way of explanation that whatever undertaking was given has been honoured in full on behalf of the Prime Minister. 1 make that explanation because when f checked to sec whether, I could move that the paper be printed I found that there was no way in which I could do that at this time because there was no paper. I had not made a statement; I was merely tabling the document in accordance with the undertaken given. If any discussion is to ensue it will ensue by leave being granted as it was on this occasion. So there is no point of disagreement, I am sure, in relation to that.
– I am not suggesting that you have broken any undertaking.
– Good, we understand the position. The Leaders of the Opposition also referred to the question of the creation of a precedent by the actual tabling of the copies of these letters and the minutes. It was fairly obvious from the information that had come to the knowledge of the Government and to the Opposition that the contents of the minutes of the 2 meetings concerned were widely known. It appears that the documents, although actual minutes of the Australian Minerals Council, apparently had been made available, not by the Commonwealth but by some person or persons to members of this House and to State members or other people within the States. Because quotations were made from the minutes it became apparent that there was a degree of public knowledge of the minutes concerned. I know that some members of the Opposition, if they had these documents, or extracts from them, in their possession could quite rightly use them. The point is that the Government knew that the contents of the documents had to some degree become known. Because of the delicate nature of the situation, which impinges on the background and because of the honour of individuals was involved, as mentioned by the honourable member for Farrer, when the request was made by the honourable member for Dawson the Government felt, and the Prime Minister agreed, that the matter was so important that an exception should be made in this case. This was firstly because of the delicate nature of the subject and, secondly, because of its impact on certain persons who have held or are holding high offices in the Government. The third reason for making an exception was that the Opposition rightfully needed to be in possession of the information in the correspondence and the documents so that its members would be in a position to enter the debate with background knowledge of the matters that were being raised.
On that basis the Prime Minister gave an undertaking in this House to the honourable member for Dawson who had raised the matter by way of a motion for the suspension of the relevant standing orders to permit the moving of a motion for the tabling of these documents. The Prime Minister agreed on behalf of the Government that the documents would and could be tabled if the State Ministers for Mines or any other Ministers concerned agreed. The Premiers of the States, in response to a letter sent to them by the Prime Minister, agreed and the State Mines Ministers who are directly concerned also agreed, that all the correspondence referred to and copies of the minutes of the 2 meetings might be tabled. Telegrams were sent by the State Mines Ministers in response to my telegram, and letters were sent by the State Premiers in response to the letter from the Prime Minister. I say this to explain the unusual circumstances associated with the matter and to show why the documents have been tabled at the request of the Opposition on this occastion
In order to clear up a few points I refer to some comments made by the honourable member for Farrer. I will not elaborate on them because my second reading speech on the Territorial Sea and Continental Shelf Bill was fairly extensive and covered most of the legal points involved and the whole of the background to the matter. I will be making a short second reading speech when the second Bill is available within the next few weeks. So I will not go into detail on the many matters in the Bill which I have already covered. Copies of my second reading speech are available to honourable members and I am sure that most of them have read it.
I would like to clarify a couple of points which may not have been covered in my second reading speech. At the outset I would like to pay special tribute to my colleague, the honourable member for Farrer. I have complete confidence in him as an individual and complete confidence in his honour, his integrity and his intentions. I do not think that anyone in this House would doubt these qualities, and I have no doubt about them. I know that the Prime Minister would not have any doubt about the honourable member’s integrity and standing. The very fact that he has, because of certain beliefs that he holds, raised this matter on the present basis confirms that situation. So I say at the outset that any comment that 1 make has no relationship to the individual integrity of the honourable member for Farrer, who has been a personal friend of mine for many years and who has been a friend J am sure, of every member in this House whom he has known. 1 would just point out that from the time when the honourable member left the portfolio of National Development and I was appointed to it a few months ago there was a change as far as the Government is concerned. On taking up my new portfolio one of my tasks, as I understood it, was to try to cover the whole of the background of the Department as quickly as possible and in particular to make personal contacts and examine individually all the major developmental sites throughout Australia. Before the Parliament met 1 had also to contact individually the Ministers with whom I would have future dealings. I had just a few weeks in which to do this. Many Cabinet meetings were held during that period, but I am happy to say that by the time we met in this Parliament I had been able to visit every major development centre in Australia and I had contacted either every Minister concerned or, if a Minister was not there, the head of his department. This involved 4 or 5 Ministers in each State or, in some cases, 2 or 3 Ministers.
The programme which 1 had undertaken during that period was a pretty intense one. Fortunately I was able to achieve it. Subsequently 1 found the advantage of having made those contacts and also of having been able to inspect the various sites. I. am merely explaining this to indicate that many things had to be attended to and that it was extremely difficult to attend to them in the short time available. The full details referred to by the honourable member for Farrer did not come to my knowledge until weil after the Cabinet meeting at which the Commonwealth, after carefully examining the submissions from the States, gave a firm decision in relation to the matter in the Bill which is now before the House and which I introduced. It was not until some time after that meeting that I realised that the previous Minister for National Development had firmly believed that an undertaking to discuss the matter further with the States had been given. I am merely trying to explain the problem of lack of time at that particular stage.
After the decision was made by the Government there was a matter of only a few weeks before Parliament sat. The best that I could do in the circumstances was to inform the States by telegram before any public announcement was made as to the future intentions of the Government in relation to the matter. This was done the day before the Governor-General mentioned the matter publicly in his Speech. But that was not the introduction of the legislation. After the House had met I arranged as quickly as I could to meet the State Mines Ministers to discuss the matter. This discussion was undertaken, and in accordance with the previous undertaking, excluding the public intimation made by the Governor-General in his Speech of the Government’s intention, we did meet the Mines Ministers in Melbourne before the introduction of the legislation in this House. 1 know that the honourable member for Farrer and the State Mines Ministers who have expressed themselves fairly forcibly on this matter do not believe that that met the requirements..! was disappointed in the honourable member for Farrer in that he quoted from correspondence between him, as Minister for National Development at the time, and the Prime Minister. I may have to withdraw this if he has contacted the Prime Minister, but I do not know whether he contacted the Prime Minister and received the Prime Minister’s approval to quote from the correspondence in this House. That would be the only point on which I would disagree with him in relation to the action he has taken in referring to these matters; that is, that he referred to correspondence - between a Minister and the Prime Minister without both parties being in agreement. But, of course, he may have contacted the Prime Minister at the time.
Mx Whitlam - That is what I referred to as revealing Cabinet documents.
– It was not a Cabinet document; it was merely correspondence. Reference was made by the honourable member for Farrer to the fact that there was an agreement. I am not quite sure whether he is referring to an agreement regarding a meeting or an agreement on the intentions of the Commonwealth in relation to taking the head of power as it has taken in the Bill. The documents disclose that there was no agreement by the States in relation to the 3-mile limit or to any proposal that had been put forward. In fact, they made their situation quite clear, namely, that they disagreed with the proposal put up at that time and that they asked for the information they provided at the meeting to be referred back to Federal Cabinet, as it was.
Indeed, as my colleague the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Hughes) reminds me, they put a counter-proposal that mirror legislation along the lines of the petroleum legislation should be introduced. So, in fact, there was no agreement with the States in relation to the measure that is presently before the House. There is also a communique which was released by agreement between the State Mines Ministers and the Commonwealth Minister after the meeting on 3rd March - I think. one was also released after the meeting in September - and which quite clearly set out where the States stood in relation to the proposal that had been put forward by the Commonwealth to them for consideration.
There is just one final point that I want to make. Again I express a little disappointment that the matter to which I am about to refer has been brought up in the way it has. The honourable member for Farrer quoted from some minutes of a meeting of States Mines Ministers which, I think, was held in Melbourne. Let me say that he has the advantage of having a copy of those minutes, apparently; but I have not. I have never seen them. I know that they exist because they have been quoted on a couple of occasions; but I have never yet seen them. I have never had paid to me the courtesy of having a copy of them sent to me. I am not unhappy about that, but I feel that a copy should have been sent to me because my name was mentioned on quite a number of occasions.
– One of the Ministers is a constituent of the honourable member for Farrer.
– I will not answer that interjection. The point is that, as reference was made to me in my capacity of Minister for National Development, I believe that it would have been the right thing for a copy of the minutes to be sent to me. But that was not done.
The point was made that I had stated publicly that I had been in contact with all the State Mines Ministers and had discussed the Commonwealth decision with them all. I cannot repeat what takes place in party meetings, but I would like to say that apparently this came about as a result of a Press report - again incorrect - of something I was alleged to have said in a party meeting. The matter was raised subsequently at a meeting at which the honourable member for Farrer was present. I am not giving out confidences from a party meeting - because I have said this publicly - when I say that I said at the time that I denied having made such a statement, I never did make such a statement and, of course, I never did discuss the matter with all the Mines Ministers.
What I did say - and I repeat it now - was that I discussed the matter raised in 1 instance with the State Mines Minister in Adelaide, and also with the Mines Minister in Perth, principally because the Minister in Perth was considered to be the leader of the Mines Ministers, being the longest serving Mines Minister. I would like to clear up this matter because a considerable time of the meeting to which I referred a moment ago was taken up on this point of a statement that I was alleged to have made, namely, that I had discussed the matter with all the State Mines Ministers. I categorically say again that I did not, that I did not make such a statement and that the Press report that appeared after the party meeting was incorrect. Unfortunately, this is the second point on which I am a little disappointed, because the honourable member for Farrer was present when I made that denial.
I leave the matter there because there will be a debate on the Bill that is presently before the House and by that time the second Bill may have been introduced. Although it is a complementary Bill, probably some debate will ensue on it. But the principal debate will take place on the Bill that is presently before the House, lt was the intention, at the request of the honourable member for Dawson, that the papers concerned here be made available so that the Opposition principally, and also members of the Government parties, would be in possession of the facts, which they could use, if they required to, during that debate.
– T seek leave to make a statement.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
– I rise to order, lt has been the understanding in this Parliament as the Leader of the House knows, that when a member on the Government side speaks leave is given to a member of the Opposition to speak. Two members on the Government side have spoken-
– Your Leader has spoken.
– Two members on the Government side have spoken, and the explicit and implicit understanding has always been that in that case two members of the Opposition will speak also. Here we have another exhibition of this Government-
– You know that you told me that you did not allege an understanding at all. Do not bring it up now.
– What is he talking about?
-Order! The honourable member for Dawson has raised a point of order. I imagine that the Leader of the House is now raising a point of order in regard to the point of order raised by the honourable member for Dawson. Initially, the honourable member for Dawson asked for leave to make a statement and leave was not granted. Therefore, the position is that the next item of business is to be called on.
– I again rise to order. I have the conduct of this matter on behalf of the Opposition. An arrangement was made with the Minister for National Development last night. Here is a further breach of an agreement that has been entered into.
Morion (by Mr Whitlam) proposed:
That so much of the Standing Orders he suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Dawson, making a statement in connection with the paper.
– I ask the Leader of the Opposition to allow me to speak. It has been put to me by the honourable member for Dawson that last night he reached an understanding with the Minister for National Development, that he, the honourable member for Dawson, would be able to speak. If such an arrangement was made, leave will be granted. If no such arrangement was made, leave will not be granted, because there is before the House business wilh which we should proceed. Anything that the honourable member wishes to say can be said when the Bill comes before the House.
-Order! The position is that the Leader of the Opposition has moved a substantive motion relating to the suspension of Standing Orders. I did not accept the motion at that stage because the Leader of the House spoke about certain arrangements that had or had not been made. However, the position now is that the substantive motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition, relating to the suspension of Standing Orders, is before the House.
– I have had a discussion with my colleague the Minister for National Development. He informs me that there were discussions last night between him and the honourable member for Dawson. They did not anticipate that there would be any discussion at all this morning and so no arrangement was made. However, my colleague says that had this discussion been anticipated it would have been a different matter and probably an arrangement would have been made to give leave to the honourable member. That being the case if the honourable member seeks leave again I will agree to give him leave.
-Order! I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition ask for leave to withdraw his motion.
– I ask for leave to withdraw my motion.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
– (Dawson) - I ask for leave to make a statement.
-Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
– I want to make quite clear the arrangement that was entered into between the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) and myself last night. The Minister told me what he expected would take place in the Parliament this morning with regard to the tabling of these papers. He said that he did not expect that there would be any discussion on the matter. 1 agreed that it appeared to be a simple matter of tabling the papers. The honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn), apparently without having informed the Minister for National Development of his intention, rose in his place this morning and asked for leave to make a statement. That leave was granted. I am sure that if the Minister had known that the honourable member was to make a statement he would have given me leave when I requested it this morning. The Leader of the Opposition, (Mr Whitlam) also made a statement by leave and then the Minister for National Development, who is in charge of the legislation, made a statement. I then rose to reply. That is the position. The Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) probably was not aware of the background. As I said before, it has always been the practice that when a Government supporter is granted leave to make a statement a member of the Opposition is also granted leave.
This has been a rather momentous morning. We have seen an ex-Minister of the Crown make statements which are virtually allegations about the conduct of this Government with respect to an important piece of legislation which has been introduced. I can speak with some authority on this matter and I want to make it quite clear that the ex-Minister for National Development, the honourable member for Farrer, would not have taken this action unless he firmly believed he was right. I served under him, as his advisor in the Department of National Development, and I could not have wished to serve under a Minister with a higher degree of sincerity, dedication and integrity. The reasons why he resigned his portfolio are known only to him and to those with whom he has discussed the matter. But there is no doubt at all in my mind, and there can be no doubt in the minds of most people who believe in truth, that what he has said is the truth. There has been a deliberate breach of an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States on this matter, and I will give proof of that statement in a few minutes.
I should have thought that the documents tabled would have included letters that passed between the relevant State Ministers and the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) or between the relevent State Ministers and the Minister for National Development. I shall shortly quote from a letter from the Minister of Mines in Victoria to the Minister for National Development which completely substantiates the assertion of the previous Minister for National Development that there has been a breach of an agreement.
– Do you say that agreement binds every member of this Government?
– An agreement such as this can be made only with the full authority of the Cabinet. If the Minister for the Navy does not know that then he should do some homework, otherwise he will not be fit to be a Minister.
– You should know something about it.
– I do know something about it. When a Cabinet Minister enters into an agreement or an undertaking with his counterparts in the State Governments he binds the Commonwealth on that agreement with the States. To my knowledge this has never been questioned. In all of my years as a senior member of the Commonwealth Public Service I have never seen an agreement broken after it had been entered into by a Cabinet Minister with
State Ministers. It is of no use saying that it is not legally enforceable in a court of law. Governments do not act in that way. If a Prime Minister writes to a Premier and give. an undertaking, that undertaking is more binding than any decision given in a court of law. If a Cabinet Minister enters into an undertaking with State Ministers he binds the Commonwealth with the States. It does not matter what the Minister for the Navy says about this being a new Government. The point is that the agreement was entered into by the previous Cabinet which gave the then Minister for National Development full authority to do what he did. The Minister for National Development has stated that the previous Minister for National Development quoted from a letter from himself to the Prime Minister. I do not know whether that letter is included in these documents which have been tabled.
– You asked only for the correspondence.
– I may have asked only for the correspondence but I think it is quite clear to everyone in this House that we asked for all the correspondence relevant to this situation.
– All the correspondence between the States and the Commonwealth.
– And I would have thought that all the correspondence relevant to the situation would have been tabled.
The ex-Minister for National Development said some very harsh things about the Commonwealth. He used words to the effect that it had reached a very low ebb in government. This is what he believes, and it is also what we of the Opposition believe, because there undoubtedly has been a breach of an agreement. I will quote from a letter which has not been included in the documents that have been tabled. It is dated 6th March 1970. It is a letter from the Victorian Minister of Mines, Mr J. C. M. Balfour, to the Minister for National Development, Mr Swartz. It reads: My dear Minister,
I acknowledge receipt of your telegram and letter dated 2nd March 1970, relating to proposed Commonwealth legislation in respect of off-shore minerals other than petroleum.
Tn reply, I wish to advise that the Victorian Government is deeply disturbed at the whole content of your letter, and particularly to the last paragraph in which, having earlier expressed the earnest hope that the Commonwealth and States will be able to continue to work in cooperation both in relation to petroleum and to other minerals you go on to indicate-
That is, the Minister for National Development - that you will send copies of the Bill and of your Second Reading speech as soon as these are available.
That is, the Gorton Government - expressed intention to go ahead and introduce legislation for the mining of minerals other than petroleum beyond the low water mark is totally unacceptable to Victoria, and if carried out will inevitably result in irreparable damage being done to Commonwealth-State relations in the field of mineral development. As you know, the Victorian Government is firmly committed to the principle of co-operation with your Government in relation to the exploration for and exploitation of these off-shore minerals but this co-operation cannot but be destroyed by the attitude taken by your Government in this matter.
The next paragraph, in my opinion, supports what the Minister for National Development said:
My understanding is that at the most recent discussion on off-shore minerals held in Canberra on 26th September 1969, it was contemplated that the Commonwealth Ministers present would refer the States proposals in this matter of offshore other than petroleum to the Federal Cabinet for consideration and that further discussion and consultation would take place as between the Commonwealth and the States before agreement was reached or a decision made in respect of legislation relating to the exploration and the exploitation of off-shore minerals other than petroleum.
That is precisely what the honourable member for Farrer said. The Minister of Mines in Victoria continued:
In view of your express desire that the high degree of co-operation that exists between the Commonwealth and States in relation to petroleum should be extended into the field of other minerals, I am most surprised that you propose to introduce the Commonwealth legislation without further discussion between the Commonwealth and the States.
C. M. BALFOUR, Minister of Mines.
That letter, which was not tabled with the other documents, clearly shows that there has been a deliberate breach of an agreement entered into with the States by a Cabinet Minister acting with the full authority of the Federal Government. This deliberate breach of the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States is to be deplored to the utmost by all members of this Parliament.
– I seek leave to make a short statement.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Is leave granted?
– It is on the same subject.
– Will a member of the Opposition be granted leave to make a further statement? I ask the Leader of the House: If the Attorney-General is given leave may we have an assurance that an honourable member on this side will be given leave also?
– I have had enough of being abused in public and apologised to in private. There is no understanding, standing order, or anything else which provides that when an honourable member is given leave to make a statement it necessarily follows that another honourable member will be given leave. The Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) asked for leave to make a statement. Under the Standing Orders it is within the power of any honourable member of this House to refuse leave. Leave was refused to the Attorney-General. As I understand it, he stands by the refusal.
– As I understand the position, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) made a simple request of the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden). This matter came on for discussion this morning. It was completely unexpected. It is true that no agreement was entered into. It has been generally accepted by me and the Leader of the House that if a statement is made it is answered by an honourable member from this side of the House. It is then up to the Leader of the House and the Government to determine whether a debate will ensue. I think the honourable member for Dawson pointed out quite legitimately and quite correctly that if the Government wants this to develop into a debate, the Opposition is perfectly entitled to request - as it would in normal debates in this Parliament - that it be given an opportunity to match the Government speakers,
I would be the last person on this side of the House to deny the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) the right to make a short statement. If he has a contribution to make to the debate I see no reason why he should not be given the opportunity to make that contribution but it will mean, in effect, that this matter will develop into a debate. If the Attorney-General speaks 1 think the request of the honourable member for Dawson should be acceded to by the Government. If the Attorney-General speaks the Opposition should be entitled to a speaker in reply. I put this to the Leader of the House as a matter which should be considered in fairness to honourable members on this side of the House.
– There is Government business before the chamber. When the Bill comes before the House it will be debated.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Consideration of Senate’s amendments. Clause 6.
Senate’s amendment No. 1
In sub-clause (1.), leave out ‘as are prescribed’, insert ‘as the Parliament provides, but until the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and seventy-one, those salaries and those allowances shall be as are prescribed’.
Senate’s amendment No. 2.
In sub-clause (2.), leave out ‘the Attorney-General determines’, insert ‘are prescribed’.
– I move:
That the amendments be agreed to.
I suggest that it may meet the convenience of the Committee if we take the amendments as a whole.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - There being no objection I will allow that course to be adopted.
– The Senate has inserted certain amendments in the Parliamentary Counsel Bill. Those amendments, as I have indicated by moving this motion, are acceptable to the Government. They concern the mode of fixing the salaries and the annual allowances, if any, payable to the First Parliamentary Counsel and to the Second Parliamentary Counsel. It is proposed to establish those offices by other clauses of the Bill when it becomes an Act. The Bill, as it left this House, provided that the salaries and annual allowances, if any, of the statutory officers to whose designations I have referred would be fixed by regulation. The Bill further provided that the allowances, other than any annual allowance that might be fixed for the 3 statutory officers, such as travelling expenses, would be fixed by the prescription of the Attorney-General.
That is the form in which the Bill, so far as is relevant for the purpose of present discussion, left this chamber. In the course of the Committee debate in this chamber my honourable and learned friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and I reached certain agreement upon some original amendments which by arrangement and with my full concurrence he moved as Opposition amendments and which were accepted by the Government. Those amendments did not find favour in the Senate. The Senate has so amended the Bill as to provide that from and after 1st January 1971 the salaries and the annual allowances, if any, of the parliamentary Counsel - I include within that description the First and the Second Counsel - must be fixed by an Act of Parliament. In the ordinary course that fixation would take place by means of a single line entry in an appropriation bill.
However, the Senate - and I am glad to say that this was arrived at after discussions between myself, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and Senator Greenwood - perceived a difficulty in which T would find myself if I had to bring in another Bill following upon this one to fix the salaries and allowances of the statutory officers. Had I been put in that situation I would have been very substantially embarrassed in the administration of my Department because consequentially upon the passage or the proposed passage of this legislation and of various other events that have occurred in my Department I find myself on the eve of a substantial reorganisation or at least - more accurately, perhaps - the appointment of a number of people to a number of positions in consequence of the creation of the new positions by this Bill and in consequence of at least 1 retirement of a serving officer. I refer to the former Commonwealth Crown Solicitor, Mr Renfree, who retired a few days ago. The Senate was good enough to meet my difficulty. We now have a situation - and this was agreed to by the Government - in which after 1st January 1971 the salary and annual allowance of a statutory officer will be fixed by Act of Parliament but in the meantime can be fixed by regulation. The travelling allowance, which is the matter provided for in clause 6(2) of the Bill will not, as originally proposed in this House, be fixed by the Attorney-General but will be fixed by a regulation which, of course, is capable of review in either House of the Parliament. That is the effect of the amendments and I am pleased to be able to say that the Government accepts them.
– I am not in the least mortified in accepting this amendment from another place. I was, of course, in the unusual situation 3 weeks ago of having one of the amendments I moved in this place actually accepted. I am now in the unique situation of having had an amendment which was accepted, in itself amended in another place. I want all honourable members to know in both places that I accept this amendment to my amendment with the utmost grace. The principle for which I fought and to which I persuaded the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) has been preserved and - it may be - enhanced. I concluded my speech on the Parliamentary Counsel Bill by saying that the drafting was naturally impeccable. I would concede that it is still impeccable even if not so succinct.
I have one further comment to add. In my speech 3 weeks ago I said:
I draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that courses in legislative drafting are offered in many law schools in the United States. To my knowledge no such course is available either at postgraduate or undergraduate level at any Australian law school. I trust the Minister will consider the possibility of a Commonwealth initiative to encourage the establishment of such courses.
I have since received a letter from Mr Pearce, a former member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Draftsman’s staff, who is now a senior lecturer in law in the School of General Studies within the Australian National University. He points out to me that he gives a course that includes the teaching of the basic principles of drafting. He has been good enough to send me an outline of the course. It is an optional subject that may be taken by third or fourth year students. The enrolment this year is 21 out of an eligible field of about 30. I thank Mr Pearce for his countesy of informing me of a course at the Australian National University which was not available when my son was a student there 2 or 3 years ago. It is an admirable initiative on the part of Mr Pearce and the Faculty of Law. I hope other law schools in Australia do likewise. The more that do it the more not only the courts but the legislatures will be able to perform their essential functions in the making and the clarification of the law and making it intelligible and accessible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 7 May (vide page 1876), on motion by Mr Bury:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Uren had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘in the opinion of this House the Government should make available immediate finance to all successful applicants for war service homes loans’.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Uren’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr P. E.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment negatived. Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Lynch) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 5 May (vide page 1572), on motion by Mr Bary: That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affimative Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Lynch) read a third time.
SUPPLY BILL (No. 1) 1970-71 Second Reading
Debate resumed from 5 May (vide page 1572), on motion by Mr Bury: That the bill be now read a second time.
– Yesterday in this Parliament Government supporters used the debate on the 2 appropriation Bills to deal largely with Vietnam, and the issues involved there, and the Moratorium being held in Australia today. Last night a particularly vicious speech was made by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) during which he dealt with Vietnam. He referred back to the 1960s. He, like most honourable members on the Government side, will never learn. The Acting Prime Minister made a number of accusations against honourable members on this side of the House and against decent people outside this place who, because of their beliefs on Vietnam, believe that they ought to have the opportunity to be able to dissent from the Government’s policy. Last night the Acting Prime Minister took the opportunity to go back over the events of the 1960s. He has not leaned the lessons that have been learned so obviously by the United States of America. He made no reference during his speech to the need to seek an honourable and satisfactory peaceful solution to this problem; no reference to the cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam which was agreed to by a former President of the United States; and no reference to the recognition of the National Liberation Front as a party to any successful negotiations to find a solution to the problem in Vietnam.
Instead the right honourable gentleman set out to malign honourable members who disagreed with the Government. In his view if honourable members have an opinion which differs from that of the Government on this question then they, in his terms, can be regarded only as fellow travellers. Surely the Acting Prime Minister has not been brought up to date about those people who are participating in what is after all a vote of censure of this Government for its attitude to Vietnam.
I said that the Acting Prime Minister made no reference last night to the need to bring about a peaceful solution to the problem in Vietnam. He did not devote any part of his speech to the call made by the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Mr Malik, for an international conference - a conference which will deal not only with Vietnam but the crisis which has developed in Cambodia as well, a crisis which has extended this conflict to the whole of Indo China. The Acting Prime Minister was supporting those honourable members opposite who had consistently refused to face up to the realities of the situation in Vietnam. That situation had been accepted by the United States Government and by people who believe that a solution to the problems of Vietnam can never be found by military means. The general tenor of the Acting Prime Minister’s speech confirmed that this Government is the most hawkish government in the world on the question of Vietnam, lt opposed the cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam. It said that we would be deserting our allies, that we would be breaking our alliance with the United States of America, if we accepted the National Liberal Front as a party to any negotiations to bring about a peaceful solution to the Vietnam war.
In the limited time allowed to me in this debate I will not be able to read to the House the statements that have been made by responsible honourable members opposite on this subject. I have in mind the
Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), the Acting Prime Minister, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon) and the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who have said repeatedly that the 3 conditions laid down by the Australian Labor Party in 1967 for peace in Vietnam would never be acceptable to the Australian Government or the United States Government. We said then that we believed that a responsible Australian Government should be insisting on those conditions to bring about peace. Despite the protests made by the honourable members opposite those conditions have since been accepted by the United States Government. There was a cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam; the National Liberation Front has been recognised as a party to peace negotiations; but still this Government maintains that the war in Vietnam can b? won only by military means, by the continued committal of Australian and other troops to that war. This has consistently been the attitude of the Government.
The Acting Prime Minister spoke with all the vehemence he can use on such an occasion to blackguard honourable members on this side of the chamber and people outside Parliament who believe they have a right to protest that we ought not to be involved in the war in Vietnam and repeatedly ask these questions: ‘How did we become involved in this war? Why are our troops in Vietnam? Why do we not get out of Vietnam?’ These questions have been asked by people not only in 1970 but ever since Australian troops were first committed to Vietnam in 1965. While the Acting Prime Minister was speaking in that vehement vein last night the Prime Minister made a statement in Japan about the Cambodian situation. It is a clear and concise statement which has the full support of honourable members on this side of the House. A report of the statement appeared in last night’s edition of the Melbourne ‘Herald’ under the heading: ‘Cambodia should be Neutral - Pull All Troops Back - Prime Minister’. The article is written by Vincent Matthews who is with the Prime Minister during his stay in Japan. The article states:
Tokyo, Today - The Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, called today for all - and he repeated all - foreign troops to be withdrawn from Cambodia. He told a Tokyo Press conference that Australia regarded the regime of General Lon Nol as the effective government of Cambodia. But after all foreign troops were removed it would be a mailer for the Cambodian people to decide who ran their country … lt was at this point that he used the phrase ‘It would be in the interests of peace there if the North Vietnamese, the Vietcong, the South Vietnamese - all those in Cambodia - were to withdraw and allow a truly neutral Cambodia.*
This sums up the attitude of honourable members on this side of the House. It is a clear and concise statement made by the Prime Minister to a Press Conference in Tokyo. When the Prime Minister made a statement on Cambodia last Tuesday night in this House we said that the initiative ought to be taken to withdraw all foreign troops from Cambodia. lt is true that there is no specific reference to American troops in the statement made yesterday by the Prime Minister in Japan, but he used the phrase ‘all foreign troops’. Surely one could interpret that statement to include not only South Vietnamese forces and North Vietnamese forces but also the United States forces in those which should be withdrawn from Cambodia. Honourable members on this side of the House and all thinking Australians would agree with the statement that those forces should be withdrawn as an immediate step at least to assist the conference that has been called by Indonesia’s Foreign Minister to succeed. No other interpretation can be placed on the Prime Minister’s statement. It said clearly and unequivocally that all foreign troops should be withdrawn immediately from Cambodia. The Opposition believes that the Prime Minister’s statement should be supported. For that reason I move the following amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: this House supports the Prime Minister’s call for the withdrawal of Viet Cong. North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese troops from Cambodia and for the neutrality of that country to be guaranteed through the revived International Control Commission or through the United Nations*.
The Opposition proposes this amendment because of statements made on the public record in Japan by the Prime Minister, to which I have just referred. Those statements on the presence of foreign troops in Cambodia are in some ways irreconcilable with statements made by the Prime Minister on the same subject in this House last Tuesday night.
Two sources confirm the substance of the Prime Minister’s remarks in Japan. The first is the report which appeared in the late editions of last night’s Melbourne ‘Herald’. I have already told the House that the report came from a political correspondent, Mr Vincent Matthews, who went to Japan with the Prime Minister for the Osaka Exposition. Mr Matthews is one of, I think, 7 journalists who were hand picked by the Prime Minister to accompany him on his VIP flight to Tokyo. The report to which 1 have referred came from Tokyo, is datelined Thursday and appears under the heading: ‘Cambodia should be neutral - Pull all troops back - Prime Minister’. The report states:
The Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, called today for all - and he repeated all - foreign troops to be withdrawn from Cambodia. He told to Tokyo press conference that Australia regarded the regime of General Lon Nol as the effective government of Cambodia. But after all foreign troops were removed it would be a matter for the Cambodian people to decide who ran their country.
Two days ago, just before he left for Japan, Mr Gorton told Parliament that US attacks in Cambodia would make Australian forces in Vietnam safer.
The report goes on to quote Mr Gorton as saying: the Australian Government hoped that the proposed Djakarta conference would lead to a truly neutral Cambodia.
During the course of his statement he had this to say: lt would be in the’ interests of peace there if the North Vietnamese, the Vietcong, the South Vietnamese - all those in Cambodia - were to withdraw and allow a truly neutral Cambodia.
Later in in the report Mr Gorton is reported as saying: . . that Japan and Australia were ‘very close together’ on the Cambodian question. Both wanted Cambodian neutrality guaranteed by impartial and effective international inspection. Mr Gorton said this inspection could be through the International Control Commission or the United Nations.
The substance of this Melbourne ‘Herald’ report is verified by a report of the Prime Minister’s Press conference which is available in the Parliamentary Library. It quotes the Prime Minister as saying that his talks with Mr Sato had made it apparent that the 2 countries had a mutual desire for a truly neutral Cambodia, free of occupying troops and with its neutrality guaranteed by impartial and effective international inspection. The form of this international inspection did not matter as long as it was effective and impartial. It could be achieved through the revived 3 nation International Control Commission or through the United Nations. The veracity of these reports has been reinforced by further reports in this morning’s Press.
It may be argued that these remarks by the Prime Minister do not depart from Government policy. The Opposition believes that they represent a marked change of emphasis from the Prime Minister’s statement earlier this week. The whole tone of the statement on Tuesday night was that the operations into Cambodia were vital to the safety of Australian and United States’ troops. The Prime Minister said that the effect of the operation could well be to make all allied forces in South Vietnam more safe. It is difficult to see what impact the operations will have on the Australian Task Force in Phuoc Tuy which has never been endangered by North Vietnamese or Vietcong units based in Cambodia. If these sanctuaries were vital to Australian safety, on the terms of the Government’s commitment. Australian troops should be fighting in Cambodia. The Prime Minister made it clear that Australian troops were not participating in the operations, nor would they participate.
Plainly the Prime Minister regarded the effect of the North Vietnamese presence in Cambodia as marginal to Australian security. There is also a strong inference to be drawn from the Prime Minister’s speech that the sanctuary camps in Cambodia are marginal to the success of the South Vietnamese and American war effort. Government speakers in this debate last night made considerable play on the Opposition’s failure to condemn the Communist penetration of Cambodia over the past 5 years. The same error of ommission applies to the Government. For at least 5 years Communist forces have moved freely from South Vietnam to border areas of Cambodia. Undoubtedly during this period rest and supply facilities have accumulated in Cambodia along the border. But this access to Cambodia by the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese has never been regarded as a significant factor in the course of the war. The Americans and the South
Vietnamese have looked on this use of Cambodia as an irritant rather than as a vital strategic determinant.
Certainly the Cambodian border outflanked the troops in South Vietnam but, more importantly, much of the border of Laos outflanks South Vietnam. This has never provoked a major action by American and South Vietnamese units into Laos from South Vietnam. The allied forces in South Vietnam were always completely confident of their ability to seal off the border and contain any attempts by the Communists to make major strikes from Cambodia into South Vietnam. Under Prince Sihanouk this Communist presence in Cambodia was kept at levels apparently tolerable to all governments taking part in the war in South Vietnam. This Government has had repeated chances to emphasise the dangers of the Communist presence in Cambodia. From my recollection of speeches by successive Ministers for Defence and Ministers for External Affairs this question has never been exploited, lt has always been a minor artery off the main course of the Vietnam war as seen by the Government. This makes it a matter for regret that the Prime Minister sought to exploit this ground in his statement and that his numerous inaccuracies and distortions have been echoed by his followers. More broadly, the Prime Minister on Tuesday night made no reference to a role for the United Nations or the International Control Commission in assuring the neutrality of Cambodia. He referred vaguely to working for a neutral Cambodia and evolving a method of international inspection to assure this. The main substance of the Prime Minister’s statement was a fullblooded commitment to the extension of the war effort of the American and South Vietnamese governments to Cambodia. There was a note of reluctance about the Prime Minister’s approach. He seemed half hearted and even grudging in his support for the American initiative in the early section of his statement. This followed an unusual delay in making any sort of comment on the extension of the war undertaken by President Nixon without reference to Congress or any attempt to secure popular approval.
Later in his speech the Prime Minister’s probing feet felt out the Communist can and before sitting down he gave it a few lusty kicks for the benefit of his supporters. This was the tenor of the remarks of those who spoke for the Government in this debate yesterday. However, there was a distinct note of uneasiness about the Prime Minister’s approach to America’s intervention in Cambodia. An action which a few months ago would have been hailed as an act of political courage and a military triumph was given an almost frigid reception. This response has been verified by the new assessment of Cambodia given in Tokyo by the Prime Minister. It shows that the Prime Minister has the capacity to make a cool assessment of Vietnam and Cambodia. He now wants all troops withdrawn, including the South Vietnamese and the Americans. He wants the United Nations to intervene and control Cambodian neutrality. Alternatively he wants the International Control Commission to be revived and given teeth so that it can supervise effectively a neutral Cambodia. Most importantly, he emphasised the significance of the Djakarta conference on Cambodia and indicated what the conference could achieve.
In every way this was the most mauture statement on South East Asia and on external policy that the Prime Minister has ever made, lt reflects a notable advance on his denunciation of the Paris talks to the troops in Vietnam and his innumerable gaffes during his first tour of South East Asia. If the Prime Minister can make a statement of this degree of responsibility in Tokyo, why can he not do it in this Parliament? Why did he not in this Parliament on Tuesday night call for the withdrawal of all troops - North Vietnamese, Vietcong, South Vietnamese and American? Why did he not refer the Djakarta conference and outline what the Government sought to achieve from it? Why did he not refer to an active role by the United Nations or the International Control Commission in assuring Cambodian neutrality? lt is quite remarkable that the Prime Minister can be sane and rational on Cambodia in Japan, and irrational and hysterical on the same subject in this Parliament. One interpretation could be that the long flight to Tokyo gave the Prime Minister a chance for re-assessment and reflection. It could also be that an abrupt removal from the feverish atmosphere of his Party room has facilitated his thought processes. Whatever the stimulus, the Prime Minister has spoken moderately and, I believe, sensibly about Cambodia. He has put forward completely reasonable propositions on the course of war in Cambodia, propositions which deserve the complete support of this House. While the Prime Minister has flown to Tokyo and some measure of enlightenment, his parliamentary colleagues have remained behind plunged in the same eternal night. I thought yesterday’s performance by the Government was one of the most objectionable I have ever witnessed in this House. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) set the tone with a savoury meta.phore intended to describe the effect of the Vietnam Moratorium. The absurdity of the honourable gentleman’s interpretation was exceeded only by the noisome vulgarity of the imagery created by him on that occasion. The honourable gentleman once described himself as being on the wave length of his era. He made perfectly clear yesterday the era to which he belongs.
The Government went on to use this debate as the vehicle for an attack on the Moratorium Campaign. This, of course, is a legitimate tactic and one that could be expected in the Parliament. It was expected by the Opposition. However, it is not a legitimate tactic - nor was it expected by the Opposition - for the Government to issue a bogus speaking list. When I sought, before the suspension for dinner last night, a list of Government speakers for the evening I was supplied with a list which showed that the honourable members for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) and McMillan (Mr Buchanan) would lead off for the Government. Instead, the Government speakers were the Acting Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence. It is no disrespect to the honourable members for Mallee and McMillan that the Opposition places greater weight on these other members as spokesmen on Government policy. Certainly if the Acting Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence are to speak on an important subject it is remarkable that the fact should be concealed in this way. If the Government expected to unleash a devastating attack on the Moratorium with these two senior Ministers it must have been sadly disappointed. The Acting Prime Minister was concerned only with equating opposition to the Vietnam war with Communism. It was the most primitive exposition of crude politics that the Minister has ever given in this House. It was despicable in both tone and content.
If opposition to the Vietnam war is to be linked with Communism and lack of patriotism in this way, there are some remarkable Communists in both Australia and America. According to the Minister’s interpretation, the whole legislature of the State of Massachusetts is Communist because it has adopted a resolution condemning the war on the ground of constitutional invalidity; the republican Senator Charles Goodell, who moved a motion in Congress putting a time limit on the American commitment, is a Communist; Senator Fulbright is a Communist; Senator Mansfield is a Communist; Senator McGovern is a Communist; the whole United States Congress is a nest of overt Communism. In Australia, according to the Minister’s interpretation, the proprietor and senior executives of the ‘Australian’ and ‘Daily Mirror’ newspapers, which support the Moratorium’s aims, are Communists. These are gentlemen who over the years have been extremely close to the Acting Prime Minister and have done him many favours. Yet all these responsible people, none of them connected in any way with the Australian Labor Party, are Communists, according to the Acting Prime Minister’s doctrine of parallel warfare. This is the sort of level to which the Acting Prime Minister debased the debate on the Vietnam Moratorium.
The Opposition has moved this further amendment to draw attention to the contrast between the Prime Minister’s measured and responsible statements on Cambodia and the frenzied irrational statements of his supporters in this Parliament. The war in Cambodia is looking more and more ominous as each day passes. There are reports in this morning’s Press that an assault will be made by South Vietnamese and United States riverine units up the Mekong River as far as Phnom Penh. The operations in the socalled Fish Hook salient do not seem as yet to have flushed out the so-called Red Pentagon. It is reported that South Vietnamese units will be withdrawn from the other salient, the Parrot’s Beak. It is probable that they will be recommitted to other operations in Cambodia. The whole trend of this war is towards extension deeper into Cambodia, and there is little prospect that that country will be spared the ravages already inflicted on Laos and Vietnam. In this context the Prime Minister has spoken with urgency and humanity on the need to limit the war and secure Cambodian neutrality. Whatever the Prime Minister’s motivations, he has taken a notable initiative and he should be supported by this House.
It is for this reason that the Opposition has taken the opportunity to move the amendment to which I have referred, an amendment which spells out quite clearly that honourable members on this side of the House support the proposition which has been put forcibly by the Prime Minister in Tokyo. It might be said by critics that the Prime Minister’s statement differed a great deal from the statement which he made in this House only a few nights ago on the question of the invasion of Cambodia by the United States and South Vietnamese forces, but it would appear that the Prime Minister has had the opportunity to think very carefully about this question. He took the opportunity in Tokyo to talk to those who represent the Press not only of this country but also, one would believe, of most countries who naturally would be interested in the Australian attitude to the invasion of Cambodia. If the Prime Minister was correctly reported - and he has not denied, no Government supporter has denied, that he made this statement during his Press conference in Tokyo - he said as a clear statement of fact that he believed that all foreign troops should be withdrawn from Vietnam and that the processes of the International Control Commission should be used to ensure the neutrality of Cambodia in the future. This is the attitude that honourable members on this side of the House have expressed in relation to the situation in Vietnam.
We have never believed that the war in Vietnam could be brought to a successful conclusion in the interests of all parties who are engaged in hostilities in that country other than by the representatives meeting around the conference table. If the Prime Minister is prepared to take the same attitude and the same sensible approach to the situation in Vietnam as he has taken to the Cambodian question this will show that the Government believes at least that the United States of America should be making a greater effort, if necessary, to bring about the kind of conference that the Prime Minister envisages to effect a solution to the problem in Vietnam. I believe, as I have said during the course of my remarks in this debate, that the Prime Minister’s statement was realistic. It was made probably after a great deal of consideration had been given to the view which no doubt had been conveyed to him by his advisers on these matters. If it was a courageous statement it deserves to be supported not only by honourable members on this side of the House but also by all members of this Parliament. For this reason the Opposition has taken the opportunity to move an amendment which expresses our support for the Prime Minister’s belief. The amendment has been moved in sincerity. We believe it is the correct approach and we expect the amendment to be carried unanimously.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Is the amendment seconded?
– Could I ask the Deputy Leader of the Opposition whether he intended to modify the amendment, as appears from the way he has spoken?
– I have made that clear in my speech.
– In those circumstances, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has made it clear that all foreign troops are included in the proposal, I am happy to second the amendment.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, being a very compassionate individual, I feel particular compassion on this occasion for 2 honourable members of the Opposition, the first being the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard), and the second being a constituent of mine, namely the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). I feel compassion in the first place for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for the rather hurt manner in which he described his Parry’s obvious loss and damning defeat in a debate that took place in this House last evening.
On that occasion you will remember, Sir, that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), who is also the Acting Prime Minister, demonstrated the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign and its manifestations for what they were - a base ar.d disloyal movement, disloyal to Australia and to Australians and, above all, disloyal to the Australian troops who are fighting in Vietnam at present. I feel some compassion for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition because the Opposition probably was taken by surprise to some extent. That, probably, is the reason why the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) spoke last evening in an attempt to divert public discussion away from the Vietnam Moratorium. He spoke on Papua and New Guinea. That base attempt to divert public attention from this matter of extreme importance was revealed amply by the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes).
As 1 say, I also feel some compassion on this occasion for the honourable member for Wills who is one of my constituents. I noticed that the honourable member was here this morning. Having a special regard for this constituent of mine, I am concerned about what might happen to him when next he has to front his left wing Labor Party Executive in Victoria. As far as I know, he is not in Melbourne at this moment but is in Canberra. It may well be that he is in Melbourne and is not in Canberra. I for one will be quite relieved to learn that he is. I say simply that he was here this morning and not in Melbourne. I am concerned about the welfare of this constituent of mine. I have fear and trepidation about what may happen to him when he accounts to this Executive in Victoria for the attitude that he has taken on this issue.
I should have thought that the bare, simple and obvious facts about the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign were quite clear and by now would have been made clear to the people of Australia. We object most strongly to this treacherous movement on several grounds. The first ground is that the whole movement is one which is inspired, initiated and riddled through by very clear Communist influence. The House and th, people of Australia would have heard yesterday afternoon the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) list a number of card carrying members of the Communist Party who are behind this movement and who are taking an active part in it. They were listed. They were named. But I could have said to the honourable member for Farrer on that occasion that it was not necessary for him to list them by name because already, even in this House, we have had the clearest evidence that we could require of Communist activity in that movement.
The best evidence, as you will understand, Sir, is an admission. We have had what has amounted to a very clear admission, in particular from the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns), that Communists are taking part in this movement and that he has been prepared to stand beside them if his views are the same as theirs. I would say with all respect to the honourable member that it has been abundantly clear to me so far as this debate is concerned that a great degree of similarity exists between his views and those of the Communists who are taking part in this movement.
I think that the day before yesterday was a very unfortunate day for Australia. I thought so when I was outside Parliament House and saw the assembled multitude, variously estimated by the newspapers to number from 3,000 to 300, being harangued by the alternative Prime Minister of this country, the Leader of the Opposition, and then by the honourable member for Lalor in the company of flags that I was told were Vietcong flags. I was distressed and disturbed on that occasion. I say that it was a sad day for Australia. Obviously, the Vietcong flags were a part of the whole panoply which members of the Opposition taking part in this movement were using. So obvious were these flags that they made even the tuxedo of the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) pale into insignificance. These flags held high above the crowd obviously were part of the whole machinery that was being used on that occasion.
We criticise this movement because of the Communist influence in it. We say that an obvious similarity exists between the views being expressed by the Communists in this movement and the views being expressed by members of the Labor Party in this movement. One of the most interesting aspects of that point - and my comment reminds me of it - is this: My understanding is that the Australian Labor Party at least in terms has made its stand particularly clear on association with Communists. Senator Greenwood, in a debate on this subject in another place the other night, drew the attention of that place to a certain clause in the rules of the Australian Labor Party. lt was written into the rules of the Labor Party, I understand, in 1948. Subsequently, it was reaffirmed in 1957. I will read the clause which is in these terms:
No Communist auxiliary or subsidiary can be associated with the Labor Party in any activity, and no Labor Party Branch or member can cooperate with the Communist Party.
I should think that the operative word in that clause which, I understand, is still part of the rules of that organisation, is ‘cooperate’. If this Moratorium Campaign is not a clearly demonstrated case of cooperation between members of the Communist Party and members of the Australian Labor Party, in the first place I do not understand what the meaning of the word co-operate’ is and, in the second place, the absolute deception and confusion is quite apparent.
There is of course another similarity in the views expressed by some members of the Opposition and those of the Communist Party. Again, as 1 understand it, the Australian Labor Party had made its policy on the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam clear insofar as the terms go. I should have thought that its call was not for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Vietnam but for withdrawal without the addition of that operative word ‘immediate’. One thing is clear, lt is that the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam immediately is Communist Party policy. I enter a gentle caveat, with all respect to the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser), as to what he said about this policy in his speech last night. He said that it was the joint policy of the Australian Labor Party and the Communist Party. Looking at the clear terms of the policies of these 2 Parties, my understanding is that the immediate withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam is the policy not of the Australian Labor Party but of the Communist Party. Now, what that adds up to is quite clear: that members of the Australian Labor Party are advocating what is stated in clear terms to be the policy of the Communist Party of Australia on this issue. I should think that that is a disgraceful situation and one that should be condemned.
Again, one sees this policy of immediate withdrawal clearly articulated in the propaganda that is being disseminated by the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign. You may have seen, Sir, as honourable members have seen, advertisements inserted in the daily Press during the week. I refer particularly to one advertisement that appeared in the Wednesday issue of the Melbourne ‘Age’. The call articulated in that advertisement was for the immediate withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam. Only this morning 1 received a pamphlet in the mail from the Vietnam Moratorium Committee in South Australia calling for the withdrawal of Australian troops in Vietnam. The pamphlet stated that Australia must withdraw its troops totally, immediately and unconditionally from Vietnam. As 1 said earlier, this is a clear statement of Communist Party policy. Quite apart from the weighty evidence which the Acting Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) put before the House last night, it is clear beyond any doubt that the policies of the Vietnam Moratorium movement are identical in terms with those of the Communist Party of Australia and they should be condemned.
The second ground on which honourable members on this side of the House criticise the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign and the second ground about which I am particularly concerned is that integral to and basic to the machinery of the whole operations of the Moratorium Committee is a breaching of the law. Again we do not have to go beyond a clear admission to obtain evidence of this fact. You would have heard, Mr Deputy Speaker, the honourable member for Lalor say in a recent debate in this House that he wanted to go to Melbourne today - and there is no doubt that he will not have any trouble with the Labor Party Executive in Victoria - to take part in an act of civil disobedience. This is what it has been articulated to be and this is clearly what it will be - an act of civil disobedience where a breach of the law cannot be avoided. The Committee has called upon the people of Australia to demonstrate in the streets, to sit in the streets and obstruct truffle so that the attention of the community will be drawn to the policy which the Committee espouses. This will involve a breach of the law. But the justification for doing so is even more condemnable.
The justification for breaching the law is the view that this is a legitimate way in which to bring about a change in the law or a change in the Government’s policy. I deny that proposition. It is completely false. It is completely contradictory to the whole tradition of democracy and the law making procedure upon which the democratic process is based. The Committee is. as I have pointed out, calling for a change in the Government’s policy not through the democratic procedures, not through an amendment to the law, not through peaceful demonstrations and not through letters to the editors of newspapers or any of the normal channels of communication which are used in a democratic country but through what is clearly admitted to be an open breaching of the law. I condemn the supporters of the Opposition who are prepared to espouse this particular way of bringing about a change in the law of the country or the Government’s policy. The consequences are terrible insofar as law and order in this country are concerned. I would like to know whether this means that if I want, to bring about a change in the law or in Government policy or if any other group in the community wants to do the same we arc entitled to block the streets, obstruct traffic and breach the local and State laws, ls that what it means? ls this the extent of my democratic rights? I deny that I have any right to bring about a change in the law or a change in Government policy by such means.
Honourable members may recall that the other day I asked the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) whether his attention had been drawn to statements made by the Leader of the Opposition in the Victorian Parliament, Mr Holding, when he addressed the Fabian Society. Apparently Mr Holding said - and so far he has not denied it - that if a Labor government were elected into power in Victoria he, as Premier, would parole those people who are now in prison in that State as a result of a breach of a Commonwealth law - the National Service Act. This is an indication of the sort of lawlessness which is appar ently in store for the Victorian people if the Labor Party does form a government in that State. It is disgraceful that a potential Premier of a State should indicate that he would parole these men irrespective of the fact that they were given a fair trial and convicted of an offence under Commonwealth law. It is a disgraceful attitude for him to take.
The voice of the people in my State is, of course, the ‘Sun News-Pictorial’. 1 would like to quote briefly something which the Sun News-Pictorial’ said about the attitude which has been taken towards a change in the law and the whole procedure which the Vietnam Moratorium Committee and the honourable member for Lalor in particular are adopting. The article states:
Dr Cairns has put forward the remarkable proposition that a citizen has the right to break objectionable’ laws. lt goes on to say:
But who decides what is objectionable? Or is such a right possessed by only some people? The possibilities are dangerous.
For any major political leader to advocate disrespect of the law is surely irresponsible.
That statement is clearly what 1 would regard as the proper altitude (o take towards this issue. The protagonists - the honourable member for Lalor and the whole organisation which apparently he leads in connection with the Vietnam Moratorium debate - say that they have the majority of the people on their side. This is quite wrong.
– The gallup polls say so.
– So far as I can see, the contribution which the honourable member for Hunter makes to this Parliament seems to be limited to interjections. Perhaps he should check his facts.
– I have been here longer than you.
– That is right. If the honourable member had looked at the results of a recent gallup poll he would have seen that there is absolutely no evidence whatever for what he has just contended. For instance, the most recent gallup poll indicates the attitude of the Australian people on this issue of the withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam. The people interviewed were asked: ‘Do you favour bringing all of our forces in Vietnam home to Australia now, bringing them back in stages or keeping the same number in Vietnam until the end of the war?’ It is indeed surprising - at least to the Opposition - that the exceptionally high figure of 19% of the people interviewed said that they were in favour of keeping the troops in Vietnam until the war came to an end. It appears that 50% were in favour of bringing the troops back in stages and only 25% were in favour of bringing all of our troops back to Australia now - in other words, immediately. I should think that this is fairly reasonable evidence of the view of the majority of Australians. Only one quarter of the people of Australia hold the same views as honourable members opposite. The majority view is not being represented by the Vietnam Moratorium Committee. The proposition which has been put forward by honourable members on the other side of the House that the Committee represents the view of the majority of the people of Australia is quite erroneous.
The curious thing about this Campaign - and comments have been made about it on numerous occasions - is that a particularly one-sided attitude or view has been adopted. I have already indicated that it calls for the withdrawal of Australian and United States troops. It has been emphasised on many occasions that the Campaign has not called for the withdrawal of all troops from Vietnam. In particular, there has been no call for the withdrawal of North Vietnamese troops. The Vietnam Moratorium Committee does not call for North Vietnamese troops to withdraw; it calls only for Australian and United States troops to withdraw. Why is there no cry for the withdrawal of North Vietnamese troops? Honourable members on this side of the House have asked this question before but have never received an answer.
The same situation applies when one looks at the atrocities which are being committed in Vietnam by the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese. We have asked on many occasions why there has been no condemnation of the atrocities perpetrated by Vietcong and North Vietnamese on innocent civilian people in Vietnam. The whole grisly catalogue of the atrocities committed should be well known by now, but I want to put to the House some specific occasions to illustrate my proposition that when these events have occurred and have been canvassed in newspapers there has been no protest from honourable members on the other side of the House or from the other people who are associated with the Vietnam Moratorium Committee. When one looks at them one appreciates exactly what they are - a grisly catalogue of atrocities perpetrated on innocent people.
The House may well recall the event in 1965 when the Mai Kanh floating restaurant was bombed and destroyed in Saigon by Vietcong and 89 innocent Vietnamese people were killed. The House may well recall the event that occurred in December 1965 when 23 Vietnamese civilians were sprayed by machine guns by the Vietcong. The crime of these innocent people who died was to work on a civil project - on a canal, in a village in Vietnam. I do not know whether the House recalls incidents that happened at the beginning of February this year, just to bring it up to date. If honourable members look at incidents that happened on that date they will find that the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese initiated 6 terrorist acts and that 11 civilians were killed, 23 wounded and 2 abducted. On the same day, in the hamlets of Tan Hoa and Lanh Thong 5 innocent civilians were killed by the Vietcong in an attack that they launched. So it goes on. There is a whole catalogue of such incidents occurring every day during the Vietnam war. Every day one receives reports of and reads about atrocities perpetrated on innocent people in Vietnam.
Why is it all so one-sided? Why is there no moratorium, no protest, today about these atrocities? The Communist Party is comparatively small in numbers in Australia. It is comparatively small in financial strength. But it is a shocking state of affairs that the Communist Party in Australia today has so many willing handmaidens to do its work. This is a shocking state of affairs that grieves me particularly. Plenty of people are prepared to take part in movements like the Vietnam Moratorium Committee; plenty of people are prepared to take part in demonstrations against the United States of America and against Australia; plenty of people are prepared to gather outside this Parliament House, accompanied by Vietcong flags, and demonstrate against Australia’s interests and against the United States; plenty of people are prepared to condemn the United States and Australia; but they are not prepared to condemn Communist acts perpetrated on innocent people in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Why is it, we ask, and we have continued to ask and 1 continue to ask, that the Vietnam Moratorium Committee will not protest against this grisly catalogue of atrocities? Why is it that the Vietnam Moratorium Committee will not call on North Vietnam to cease this useless, terrible invasion of South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia?
Apparently part of the organisation of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee is starting to slip. It was only today, right at the death knock, that 1 received some of the literature from this Committee, lt was interesting to see this, because I have commented on the complete lack of criticism of the Communist side of this war. It was interesting to see one fitful, measly, vague criticism of the Communist cause in the letter that I received today from the South Australian Co-ordinating Committee of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign. The criticism that this part of the Committee is prepared to make of the Communist cause is a generous half sentence which says:
Nor do we regard Hanoi and the National Liberation Front as blameless.
What generosity when we have been asking for weeks - indeed, for months - for condemnation of the attacks by the Communists on South Vietnam. What generosity that members of this organisation should come forward at this late stage and say: We do not regard Hanoi and the National Liberation Front as blameless’. I say, in conclusion, that this is a sad, unfortunate day in Australia because we see in our capital cities Australians doing the work of the Communists here and overseas.
– The honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) does not seem to be aware that throughout the length and breadth of Australia today there is a spontaneous concern about the situation in Vietnam and the escalation into Cambodia. He seems to be unaware that this phenomenon in Australia is typical of that which is developing right around the world. The moratorium is not about violence at all - in fact, the very antithesis prevails. Violence can result only if it is provoked by this Government, by its lackeys and by its provocateurs. Those of us who are here in this Parliament today, instead of being where we would like to be among the people who are seeking peace, are wondering what provocative actions are likely to take place. We saw for ourselves only the other day outside the front of this building the Nazi emblems being handed around, the crackers being let off and people doing their utmost to stir up trouble in what was a peaceful demonstration. The Moratorium and the policy of the Australian Labor Party are not about violence but about compassion, conciliation in international affairs and the brotherhood of man. I think it would interest the honourable member for Diamond Valley, who referred to various elements of the Labor Party’s organisation, to know of the determination made by the highest forum of our Party in its recent meeting on 26th February about Vietnam and that troubled part of the world. The Federal Executive of the Party resolved, in part:
This Executive pays tribute to those in the community whose efforts are directed in a peaceful manner towards an awakening conscience and stirring compassion in the minds and hearts of the Australian people in the tragic horror that is Vietnam. We believe the time has arrived, indeed is long overdue, when all people, irrespective of politics or ideological outlook, should demand of the Australian Government mat we get out of Vietnam now.
That is where the Labor Party stands in a clear and unequivocal way. I believe that regardless of the technicalities of gallup polls the hearts and minds of Australian people are trending towards that end.
The honourable member, despite all his pedanticism about atrocities here and atrocities there - and the Opposition never loses an opportunity to condemn them wherever they may be and regardless of who is responsible for committing them - should recall the terrible human suffering and human devastation which is the story of Vietnam. Pedanticism is not good enough and effective enough to sweep away these important considerations, for above all else is humanity. Disclosures recently made in this House reveal that no fewer than 750,000 enemy and allied troops have been killed in Vietnam since 1961 - i million human beings. When one starts to weigh up the extent of the suffering - the sequel to that kind of human devastation - in terms of families affected, one can start to measure the tragedy of this situation. Australia already has lost 400 dead in Vietnam since our involvement commenced. The United States of America has lost 40,000 dead servicemen. South Vietnamese servicemen killed number 103,500. Then, of course, there are the untold thousands who have been wounded. So far 2,500 Australian personnel have been injured in this conflict. We are told that no fewer than 269,000 Americans have been wounded in the course of battle in Vietnam. The cost of war is terrible and appalling and we want to see the war terminated. We want to see a cessation of the war as soon as possible.
The honourable member for Diamond Valley has spoken of the signatories to the Moratorium. I ask him to go through the list of signatories which has been publicised in various newspapers in recent days. Whilst he may be able to find I or 2 known Communists or card carrying Communists, as he claimed, there is no question that he will find a very effective cross section of the Australian community. He will find distinguished journalists, such as Margaret Jones and Geraldine Pascall. He will find prominent architects, such as Don Gazzard, Ian Mackay and Harry Seidler. He will find outstanding writers, such as Thomas Keneally, Cyril Pearl and Colin Simpson. He will find distinguished artists, such as Gordon Andrews, Charlie Blackman and Bruce Petty. So it goes on. There are many other people under various headings.
It all adds up to an indication of public concern about the continuing drift to an international conflict which can assume proportions which we have never previously known. In the last published list of sponsors of the Moratorium, one finds 114 school teachers, 15 actors, 17 distinguished musicians, 28 leading Australian journalists, 47 student leaders, 81 prominent academics, 21 minister of religion - people of all faith - 26 architects, 25 writers and 52 artists.
In addition to these, of course, hundreds of trade unionists and, 1 am very proud to say, a number of members of the Parliamentary Labor Party have added their signatures to those of people who are calling for a cessation of this war.
I have risen in this debate, which is a debate on supply, to express my concern at the diversion of funds in this country from purposes which are essential to the welfare of the people to causes associated with the Vietnam war. In view of the extent to which our own people are suffering - though in a much lesser way than those who live in Vietnam - we can only be concerned at the indifference of the Government and its failure to be more positive, or positive at all, in the pursuit of peace. In the debates that have preceded the present debate we have applied ourselves to the consideration of questions concerning the nation’s health and the housing and education of our people, and in every regard, no matter what test one applies, this Government is found wanting, that it has let the Australian people down. There is grave dissatisfaction throughout the countryside. People are marching and meeting in order to get a better deal from the arbitration system. Farmers are marching through Melbourne in their thousands. When we look at the cost of the Vietnam war, we can understand the reason for this. So it was with some gratification that last night we received an indication that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) had had second thoughts about his enthusiastic embracing of the unhappy developments in Cambodia. Accordingly, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) has caused the Parliament to apply itself to the consideration of the Prime Minister’s important statement. The Prime Minister, in Tokyo yesterday, is reported to have said:
It would be in the interests of peace there . . .
He was referring to Cambodia: if the North Vietnamese, the Vietcong, the South Vietnamese - all those in Cambodia - were to withdraw and allow a truly neutral Cambodia.
The effect of the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is to support the Prime Minister. We will be
Interested to ascertain the extent to which the Prime Minister will be left out on his own by his henchmen in this place.
– That will not get you off the hook.
– The honourable member for Angas is interjecting. Is he doubting the authenticity of the report? lt appeared today in newspapers throughout Australia. One would have thought that it would have been regarded so significantly that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon) would have been on his feet giving further amplification of this apparent change of heart. We have moved the following amendment: . . this House supports the Prime Minister’s call for the withdrawal of Vietcong, North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese troops from Cambodia and for the neutrality of that country to be guaranteed through the revived International International Control Commission or through the United Nations.
This is in keeping with what the Prime Minister has advocated in Tokyo. Anyone who cares to check my contention will find the report in today’s Australian Press. In moving the amendment the Deputy Leader of the Opposition voiced the official policy of the Labor Party, which involves not only the withdrawal of the South Vietnamese and North Vietnamese from Cambodia, but also the withdrawal of all foreign troops not only from Cambodia but from the lndoChina region, lt seems to me that the Prime Minister’s change of heart must be evidence of the public opinion which is taking its toll of distinguished people and world leaders in many countries.
The concern for world reaction to the United States escalation in Cambodia has manifested itself in many dramatic ways. For example, it. has manifested itself in the way 1 have indicated - by full page advertisements by distinguished people in this country appearing in the Press, by demonstrations in Australia and by the action of the heads of 200 universities and colleges in the United States who have asked to see the United States President in order to seek an explanation from him as to his unjustifiable action. There does not seem to be any likelihood that an Australisn Prime Minister would speak with 2 voices on this matter. The belligerence which he displayed for local consumption in his contribution on Tuesday night to the debate on Vietnam was in a changed situation.
It seems to me that this is one of the most unhappy developments that has occurred in the Indo-China situation. Cambodian neutrality, held by Prince Sihanouk, has been the great hope of Indo-China. The neutral leadership of the Prince was worth upholding as the only hope of preventing escalation of the war. We have a right to speculate as to who had an insufficient appreciation of his worth and who organised the coup. For many of us there seems to be far too close a pattern concerning the deposing of the Prince in Cambodia and the manner in which discredited puppet leaders of South Vietnam have been deposed in previous times. The unfortunate thing about the Cambodian war and recent developments is that there had been an indication that the nations and factions concerned in this unhappy war were about to realise the benefits and value of coming back to the conference table. I was interested to read in the ‘Age’ of 20th April 1970 an article under the heading “Hanoi may be ready for wider peace talks’. The article stated.
The Nixon Administration is watching closely what might be the first indication that Hanoi is ready to reopen negotiations for a settlement of the Vietnam war in a wider forum.
It goes on to indicate that Mr Jacob Malik, the Soviet Union’s chief delegate to the United Nations, had said that a Geneva conference could bring about a fresh solution and a relaxation of tension in the Indo-China peninsula. There seemed to be an indication of a conciliatory attitude on the part of the Soviet Union at that stage. The Minister for External Affairs, prior to the entry of the United States into Cambodia, seemed to give some indication of satisfaction with the developing situation. At Bangkok on 16th April he was asked this question:
How would you see the future of South East Asia, once the Americans pull back forces from South Vietnam?
The Minister replied:
That, as you know, it is too speculative. 1 feel so far as South Vietnam is concerned the process of Vietnamisation is proceeding satisfactorily. I couldn’t go any further and I would not. under any circumstances, try and speculate about the long term possibilities there.
But the point is that he was indicating his satisfaction with the processes of Vietnamisation. I was interested to note that some hope was also being expressed by the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Mr Malik, who was reported to have said on 2nd May that he regretted Mr Nixon’s decision to permit the joint United States-South Vietnamese advance into the Parrot’s Beak zone of Cambodia. He went on to emphasise that the decision would jeopardise the Asian and Pacific conference to be held in Indonesia. So he was obviously disturbed at the development which took place as the result of the escalation of the war into that country.
The great value and hope of the conference which was being proposed by the Indonesian Government, through its Foreign Minister, is expressed in the agenda. The most important item on the agenda is the independence and neutralisation of Cambodia. The initiative for this conference was taken by Indonesia. The second agenda item also has some significance. The second agenda item concerns non-intervention and re-activisation of the International Control Commission for Cambodia. That is what the Minister for External Affairs in this country indicated was to be the subject of discussion. Yet soon after this was embraced so willingly by the Minister for External Affairs on 27th April, the Prime Minister followed on 5th May. Of course, the statement by the Prime Minister virtually torpedoed all prospects for the success of the conference in Indonesia. We wonder why there is always a willingness to do the wrong thing in these critical situations. I was most interested to read the following question concerning Cambodia that was asked of the Minister for External Affairs on his arrival at the Sydney airport on 22nd April:
Can you see a position where Australia, representing Cambodia and also serving to a large extent the interests of South Vietnam, could be in a position where these interests could conflict?
The Minister said:
But we don’t represent Cambodia now. We represented the US Government. We are not the direct representative of the US now. I cannot think that we arc in a position where our interests can conflict. In fact the representative of the Pnom Penh Government in Saigon is the Japanese.
Concerning this statement, he has sub.quently said:
Later I corrected this to say that we did represent the Cambodian Government in SouthVietnam. It docs not involve a conflict of interest.
So we do represent the Government of South Vietnam. Admittedly the Minister for External Affairs has not been long in his job. One would have thought that even if he had not known whether Australia represented Cambodia in South Vietnam before departing for his Asian tour he would have known by the time he got back. One wonders what the consequences of this incredible blunder might have been in terms of the development of the Cambodian situation and the escalation of the war. The Minister did not know that Cambodia was represented by Australia in South Vietnam. This is the most alarming ineptiness on the part of a Minister for External Affairs that could be imagined. It involved at a most critical time of that disastrous development a breakdown in communications, in fact a denial of responsibility, and certainly a loss of obligation on the part of the Australian Government to do its job effectively in representing the Cambodian situation. Perhaps if there had been proper representation at that critical time we might have been able to have avoided the development of the Cambodian crisis.
This month marks the anniversary of Australia’s dispatch of troops to Vietnam. But this war did not start when Australia went there; nor did it start in 1964 when the United States became involved; nor did the Japanese spark off the spirit that is Vietnam through its occupation in 1941. Even the long and sometimes torrid period of colonialisation by the French, starting in 1847, cannot be identified as the beginning of the struggle for independence in Indo-China. This war started even before Communism prevailed as a political philosophy in that region or in any other region in the world. Foreign invaders have always been repelled by the people of Vietnam regardless of the cost. In terms of human suffering and human lives the sacrifice of this people has no parallel. In the 10 years after the Japanese occupation, the French between 1945 and 1954 killed more than half a million Vietnamese. The United
Slates, Australia and its allies have taken toll of I million Vietnamese lives since that dale.
Sixteen years ago the Geneva Convention resolved to end the blood bath and to recognise that the people of Indo-China were determined to remain unaccommodated to any foreign power, even to China, the greatest, strongest and most numerically powerful country in that region. The ballot box was to be the new arsenal for independence, and its use was not conditional on any domino theory or subject to the consideration that one side or the other would win at the polls. Here was a nation of 30 million people claiming for itself what every Australian regards as his birthright - the right to vote and the right of self-government through the ballot box. At the instigation of this Government, we have gone 7,000 miles across the sea, far beyond our bona fine interests, not to uphold the flame of democracy but the extinguish it. Our professed role is to contain Communistm, which we never distinguish from the nationalistic aspirations of the United States in Indo-China The illiterate population of that unhappy region can hardly read the comic cuts, yet they have attributed to them the capacity to write and understand the works of Marx and Lenin.
Worse still, this Government has added insult to injury by the immoral and inconsistent reasons it gives for Australian involvement. Our half-hearted participation is not designed to win the war in Vietnam but to slavishly acquiesce in subjective sycophancy with a great and powerful friend. Who can claim that the Australian war effort is what the enthusiasts for the war would expect to see? We still wax fat on the stock exchange. We flake out on the beaches. We stack up to expend our substance and affluence in the pubs and clubs from one end of the country to the other. We send a burnt offering. Our concession to the war in Vietnam is but a token burnt offering, a human sacrifice in the form of a few battalions of conscripts. I ask. Why should this Government be talking about withdrawing troops. Does it not still accept the basic justification of this war, which is still upheld and supported by Sir Robert Thompson, that the domino theory prevails and that after one country falls another follows? What justification is there for this Government to speak with 2 voices and to talk about withdrawing troops in the present situation?
We have been warned on countless occasions about the yellow hordes pressing down unrelentingly to Australia to gather up our women and children. Does not this compromise still hold? One wonders why it has changed at this point of time. Are we not involved in Vietnam, according to the Government, to stop the Chinese who are pressing down through the Asian countries steadfastly to Australia? What has changed to justify the withdrawal of troops? Are we not committed to the policy of the Returned Services League, with its sabre rattling and cry of. ‘Up guards and at them’? Have we nol always been synchronising Government policy with that point of view? Are we not still committed to all the way with LBJ’ or ‘all the way with the USA’, or has the Government decided to deviate with this talk of withdrawing troops? The justification that we are there to prevent the rape of a sovereign nation cannot be upheld, with the withdrawal of troops. We are told that we are there to promote democracy, but apparently we are willing to get out and leave the country in a undemocratic state in terms of the Government’s attitude. We are told that we are there to uphold our SEATO obligation and our ANZUS obligations. We now know that there was no SEATO obligation al all. Britain, France and Pakistan, principal signatories to the agreement that established SEATO, never contemplated participation in that war. We are there to win endearing support from the United States of America, although we enjoyed it by way of a treaty anyway. One starts to wonder how honourable members opposite can condone what they have done in the past and what they propose to do in the future. Our leaders are deviating in 1970 from the declared objectives which sent us into Indo-China. They are deviating from the old shibboleths and the old cliches. They are hearing the voice of the people. I believe that they really see their own position as in jeopardy, and it is for this reason that we are finding this attitude of compromise today.
I conclude by emphasising that the proper way to bring some assistance or some worthwhile aid to the people of the region of Into-Ohina is to support in greater measure the concepts of economic aid which other countries have been contributing in greater measure. In the period 1965-68 $1,200 billion has been spent on aid in Asia. The Vietnamese share was $429 billion. That is to say, one-third of all the aid to Asia is provided to South Vietnam, a country with but one-fourteenth of the population. The United States share of the total of $429 billion was $420 billion. Australia contributed only SI. 9m. The cost of Australia’s involvement this year in the Vietnam war has been no less than $42m. I think those figures on their own indicate the poor scale of values that prevails in the minds of members of the Government and which the Moratorium
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
– The House has wasted the whole day in wordy repetition. I therefore move:
That the question be now put. Question resolved in the negative.
– The Opposition and the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson), who just resumed his seat, need not .have any idea in their minds that the speech in Tokyo of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) evidences any change of mind by himself or change of the Government’s attitude because what he said in Tokyo repeats and emphasises what has been said here. Of course we want peace in Vietnam. Of course we want peace in Indo-China. Of course we want peace in Cambodia. Of course we think that foreign troops should “be withdrawn from Cambodia, but we do not think that they should be withdrawn unilaterally. At present Cambodia is the victim of Communist aggression. The Vietcong are sweeping down towards the capital. Is it suggested that it would be just for us to get out and for the Communist enemy not to get out? Should we abandon this other small country to the mercies of the Communists? Of course not. What the Prime Minister said - and I am glad to see that the Opposition is supporting it - is that we do want peace but that we do not want a unilateral withdrawal which could help only the cause of Communism.
Honourable members opposite have said, very justly, that many of the people - indeed most of the people - associated with the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign are not Communists. I agree with that, but I assert that this Moratorium Campaign is a Communist stunt into which a lot of well meaning people who do not know what it is all about have been innocently sucked. I think this is something which stands on the record and which can be proved easily. One has to look only at the origins of this Moratorium Campaign to see that it is part of a long succession of stunts such as the Stockholm conferences, world peace councils and the Association for International Co-operation and Disarmament. The organisers, not just the Communists, are the same throughout. The organisations are the same throughout. This stands on the record. There is no doubt whatever about that. In New South Wales 7 or 8 years ago the Australian Labor Party declared, on ample evidence, that these peace fronts were Communist fronts. So they were and are. Today the British Labour Party describes them as Communist fronts. Here the Communists have got inside the Labor Party and have turned the policy and organisation of the Labor Party around; the Communists are inside the Labor Party, so that the Labor Party has changed from its old stand. This is a measure of the Communist victory. It is a measure of the Communist triumph.
A large number of people - I would say the vast majority of people - supporting this Moratorium are not Communists. They have been cleverly shepherded by a Communist advertising campaign which has been conducted over the years and in which the Labor Party has co-operated - I say to its shame - and has helped the Communists to mislead the public. The honourable member for Lalor (Dr Cairns) has been doing this for years. It was not very long ago that the right wing of the Labor Party would have nothing to do with his campaign but now the right wing of the Labor Party has been brought round. [Quorum formed.] There is ample proof that this Moratorium was made in Moscow and exported via the United States of America.
There are honourable members here who upbraid us for slavishly following America. The very name and organisation of the Moratorium is copied from an American model which, as I have said, was itself manufactured in Moscow and taken to America. It was not very long’ ago that honourable members on the opposite side of the House would become indignant at what they called the smear of associating with Communism. The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) who is not always up to date in these matters - I think he lives in the past a little - only yesterday was talking about the smear of saying that the Labor Party associated with Communists. This is not a smear; this is fact, and everybody can now acknowledge it to be fact. It is proof. What has been happening inside this House and what has been happening outside this House is clear and absolute proof of the close interlocking between the Communists and the ALP machine. So do not let us talk about this so-called smear. It is simply a statement of fact that there is co-operation between the ALP and the Communist Party.
The Communists have used the ALP in a way which Lenin himself laid down, as T am sure some honourable members opposite would know very well. I am indebted to the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) who was quoting Lenin’s dictum on this matter in ‘Left Wing Communism’. Lenin said to use the parliamentary machine; use the Labor Party. I shall quote exactly what Lenin said. Dealing with how the right wing of the Labor Party would try to keep the Communists out of trade unions Lenin said:
We must be able to withstand all this, to agree to all and every sacrifice, and even - if need be - to resort to various stratagems, artifices, illegal methods, to evasions and subterfuges only so as to get into the trade unions, to remain in them, and to carry on Communist work within them at all costs.
This is the way in which the Communists have succeeded in getting inside the soul of the Labor Party and converting Labor Party policy to their own use. Anyone who wants any proof at all of the way in which the Communists have masterminded and controlled this Moratorium agitation which, as I have said, has involved a lot of innocent people, should look at the ‘Tribune’ of Wednesday, 22nd April. Most of it is devoted to the details of how the Moratorium is to be organised: The Communists know these details because they themselves are making the arrangements. The honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) quoted the names of a few of the Communists who are in this. These are the open Communists, the people who are publicly known as Communists, but there are a large number of undercover Communists who are doing their work without revealing themselves as Communists, and it is necessary that people should be on their guard against them. There is one thing that has to be said in regard to this - and I am going to quote from the Tribune* of 22nd April, a couple of weeks ago. It put forward, for use in this Moratorium Campaign, the Leninist tactic of revolutionary defeatism. It says:
Today, when the characterisation of the American-Australian war in Vietnam as ‘unjust’, aggressive1 and ‘imperialist’ has been widely accepted here, Lenin’s view of an imperialist war should be more widely known.
The ‘Tribune’ then goes on to quote from Lenin, and here it states the tactics which the Communists are prescribing for this Moratorium Campaign. It says, quoting Lenin:
During a reactionary war a revolutionary class cannot but desire the defeat of its government . . Wartime revolutionary action against one’s own government indubitably means not only desiring its defeat but really facilitating such a defeat. An understanding of a revolutionary action even in a single country, to say nothing of a number of countries, can be achieved only by the force of the example of serious revolutionary action, by launching such action and developing it. However, such action cannot be launched without desiring the defeat of the government, and without contributing to such a defeat. The conversion of the imperialist war into a civil war cannot be ‘made’, any more than a revolution can be ‘made’. It develops out of a number of diverse phenomena, aspects, features, characteristics and consequences of the imperialist war. That development is impossible without a series of military reverses and defeates of governments that receive blows from their own oppressed classes.
This is the Leninist prescription, and the House will see, if it looks back at the history of the Moratorium Campaign, that this is the history of the Moratorium itself, this is the prescription for the Moratorium. What the people taking part in the Moratorium have been asking for without realising quite what they have been asking for has been unilateral withdrawal so that we would be defeated. They have been asking for disorders - they call it civil disobedience - so that the revolutionary situation could be developed. There is an exact correspondence with these Leninist tactics. There are some people who will say: ‘Well, this is academic - does not matter very much - old hat’ and so on. Let them remember the history of revolutionary defeatism and what it has done in Communist hands. It was originally put forward at the start of the First World War, and Lenin furiously denounced those of the comrades who would not join in trying to bring about the defeat of their own countries in war. In 1917 the Germans realised the possibility of this and they sent Lenin in that famous sealed railway carriage across central Europe and into Russia. In 1917 in Russia Lenin organised for the Kaiser the collapse of the Russian front so that in 1918 in France the Germans were able to switch their forces across. At the last moment they almost snatched a victory in the First World War. This is not something which is academic. It is something which nearly changed the whole course of history.
Let us think of what happened from 1939 to 1941. In 1939 Hitler and Stalin were in alliance. The Nazis and the Communists were working together. The alliance was changed only when Hitler turned on his faithful friend, Stalin, in June 1941. Honourable members will perhaps remember the agonised squeals of Molotov, a man who has just died. He said: ‘We have done nothing. Russia has been Nazi Germany’s faithful friend. Why should they have turned on us like this?’ I want to come back to what happened during that period from September 1939, when the war broke out, to June 1941, when Hitler turned on bis friend Stalin. During that time Europe fell entirely under Nazi control. During that time Communist parties in Britain, Australia and France tried to bring about the defeat of their own governments. They tried to impede the war effort. This is a matter of history. It is a matter of shameful history that at that time the left wing of the Labor Party co-operated with the Communists and tried to sabotage our war effort. It is perfectly true that the right wing of the Labor Party- people like Mr Curtin, for example - were not involved in this. If honourable members will look back at history and at what happened at that time they will see the tactics of revolutionary defeatism, the Communist tactics, applied in Australia through the Labor Party - or, I should say, through the left wing of the Labor Party.
Today it has gone further. For the first time the tactics of the Communists are being applied in Australia through the official Labor Party. This is the difference. In those days, in the treason days of 1939- 41, it was only the left wing of the Labor Party that co-operated with the Communists. Today, unfortunately, it has gone further and nearly the whole of the Labor Party - I understand that some 10 or 12 members of the Labor Party are not involved in the Moratorium Campaign - and the official Labor machine are co-operating with the Communists. Do you see, Mr Deputy Speaker, how this has been perverted and diverted? It started off with a call for peace, but this has been developed into a call for a Vietcong victory. Only a couple of days ago in front of Parliament House the Leader of the Opposition addressed and incited a crowd which was meeting under the patronage of Vietcong flags. Those people were not just desiring peace. They were desiring a Vietcong victory and they were carrying Vietcong flags. It may be that the Leader of the Opposition does not himself desire a Vietcong victory. But by his co-operation in this Campaign he has been used and he has now been able to put the Labor Party as a whole behind the Communist Party. This is a very significant and very sinister development.
If you want to know how much this Moratorium is, in point of fact, a Communist stunt, have a look at its one.sidedness. If you wanted peace, would you not be addressing your appeals to both sides? Look not just at the Moratorium Campaign itself but at its predecessors - the Association for International Cooperation and Disarmament and so on - and see what they did. What happens when Tibet is invaded by the Communists? There is a deafening silence. What happens when Russia walks into Czechoslovakia? There are token protests, perhaps, but no marches in the streets - nothing like that.
What happened a couple of weeks ago when the Vietcong invaded Cambodia? It was not their first invasion of Cambodia, because for years they had had military installations established in Cambodia. When the Vietcong invaded Cambodia a couple of weeks ago, where were these Moratorium fighters for peace? There was not a word out of them. So you can see that this is one-sided. The innocent people who are emotionally caught up in this Moratorium probably do not realise what they have been let in for. They probably do not understand what has been done to them.
They may say: ‘Look, it is our business to protest against our own troops. It is our business to denounce what our troops are doing, not what the enemy’s troops are doing’. If they say that, how can they associate with the peace movement as they do, because the peace movement has very strong organisational links with Moscow and, in point of fact, it boasts of having a large number of Moscow supporters. What happens there? Is there any agitation in Moscow from this peace front, protesting against the use of Soviet troops in those theatres? Not for a moment. They are the very theatres that our own peace figters find so objectionable.
– There are no Russian troops in Vietnam.
– No, but there are plenty of Communist troops there. Where is the protest from the peace movement in Hanoi? The peace movement is said to be very strong in Hanoi, but there is no protest against the Vietcong there. It is not allowed. Where was the protest on Czechoslovakia? It was not allowed. The few people who raised their voices, as honourable members opposite know very well, went into prison in Moscow. There is a one-sidedness about this. The fact that it is one-sided shows that here we have the development of the Leninist tactics of revolutionary defeatism - of bringing about the defeat of your own government in war. That is what the Communists are told to do.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to order. I draw your attention to the fact that while a Minister of the Government is speaking members of the Country Party, including the Acting Prime Minister are holding a party meeting on the other side of the chamber.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to order-
-Order! The honourable member for Sturt will resume his seat.
– I have just about finished. I know the way in which the Communists use their allies. Honourable members on the other side of the chamber are acting in the Communist interest. They are trying to divert this debate by taking points of order that are of no consequence. I have noted the tenor of some of their questions and also their actions in this chamber. They also have this characteristic of one-sideness. They are always on the side of the enemy and never on the side of Australia.
– I rise to order. This speech is disgusting to the members of the Country Party. I cannot hear the speech.
-Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I summarise what I have said by saying that this moratorium, which has in its ranks a number of Communists, is in point of fact a Communist set up and it is made persuasive by the fact that the Australian Labor Party is now taking part in it. The ALP is the official opposition. Previously it has been only the left wing of the Labor Party that has engaged in these treacherous Communist activities, but today practically the whole of the Party, including its official hierarchy, is implicated. It is no longer a smear to say that you are associating with the Communists; it is a fact and a fact proven by the activities of the Labor Party.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to: That the question be now put.
That the words proposed to be ‘omitted (Mr Barnard’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy SpeakerLucock)
-Mr P. E.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Snedden) read a third time.
SUPPLY BILL (No. 2) 1970-71 Second Reading
Consideration resumed from 5 May (vide page 1573), on motion by Mr Bury:
That the Bill be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Snedden) read a third time.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition actually rose to his feet before the Minister for External Affairs.
– I rise to order, lt is the custom in all Parliaments of the British tradition that the Minister gets the first call.
-Order! I point out to the Leader of the House that I have been in this chair for a little while and appreciate and know some of the standing orders and the circumstances of the Parliament. It is a fact that, if a Minister wishes to have the call, the Chair must give the call to him. My procedure was to inform the 2 honourable members who had asked for the call that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had risen first. If the Minister for External Affairs now desires the call he must receive the call. This is the procedure and the pattern as far as I am concerned at the moment.
– Sir, I insist on the right of call.
-Order! I call the Minister for External Affairs.
– I rise to order, Mr Deputy Speaker. On what grounds do you now reverse your decision? I stood and you called me. In these circumstances 1 have the right to put the matter that I have before me before the House.
-I have pointed out that it was my responsibility to say who had risen first. In the normal course of events, the Chair calls the member who rises to his feet first. But it is the practice that a Minister has an overriding right, that is, the right to receive the call over other members. When the Minister said that he would press his right for the call then the call went to him.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, on what standing order are you-
-Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat.
– I move:
That Mr Deputy Speaker’s ruling be disagreed with.
-Order! In reply to the right honourable member for Melbourne I would point out that I did not give a ruling. This is a procedural factor within the Parliament itself. If I may be permitted to say so, I remember quite some time ago a particular instance in which the honourable member for New England had actually started speaking and Speaker Cameron then gave the call to a Minister. That is the procedure of the House.
– Then I shall move that your ruling that you did not give a ruling, be disagreed with.
-Order! I did not give a ruling that I did not give a ruling.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, if we are going to have Rafferty’s Rules, I shall move that the House do now adjourn.
-Order! While the right honourable member for Melbourne is on his feet I would suggest that the honourable member for Grayndler resume his seat.
– I move:
That the House do now adjourn.
Get around that one.
-Order! The right honourable gentleman cannot move that motion.
– I move:
That the Deputy Leader of the Opposition be now heard.
-The Minister for External Affairs has been called. At this stage there is no-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to order. I moved that motion before the Treasurer rose and you gave me the call. In accordance with the Standing Orders I exercise my right.
-Order! The Treasurer has the call-
– The man at the table is not the Treasurer.
-The honourable member for Sturt will resume his seat.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order-
-In the circumstances it might be as well for the Minister for External Affairs to stand up and also try to talk. Every other honourable member seems to be doing so. I suggest that the House come to order. The honourable member for Grayndler will resume his seat. There will be no further points of order. The Minister for External Affairs-
-I move dissent from your ruling.
– Order! There is no ruling.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
– I rise to order. I am taking a point of order, Billy. Would you just sit down for a while.
– Order! The honourable members for Hindmarsh and Grayndler will resume their seats. There is no question before the Chair at the moment I suggest that the Minister for External Affairs and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who, on behalf of the Opposition, is in charge of the business before the House, might decide what the House should do.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I ask for leave-
– I move:
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I ask for leave to move a motion relating to peace in Cambodia.
– Leave is refused.
– Order! Leave is not granted.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I ask for leave to move a motion.
– Leave is not granted.
– Leave is not granted.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, there is an honourable member on his feet on this side of the House.
– I move:
– I second that motion.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 22 April (vide page 1484). on motion by Mr N. H. Bowen:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, the matters of interest in this legislation relate to the functions of the Interim Council and what recommendations it may wish to make. The actual matters in the Bill are themselves not very explicit but in his second reading speech the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen) referred to the importance of a study of marine life, the potential of the sea and, particularly, the need for conservation of the marine environment. That leads me to enter this debate for the very good reason that he has said the Bill is not limited to what it says On the face of it, that is, the exploration of the Great Barrier Reef, but is mainly interested in the whole of the marine environment. On that basis, and following what might have been said by the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie), I speak in the debate because the electorate which I represent has a fair marine environment in the sense that it covers quite a number of foreshores and beaches and also the Botany Bay area.
It has become obvious from studies recently published overseas that among the greatest pollutants of the marine environment are industrial waste and domestic sewage. There are a number of other pollutants, not the least of which are the radioactive substances and the heat from power and industrial plants. In that regard it has now been established that where you have this type of disposal of sewage and industrial waste and other forms of waste you are virtually destroying the marine environment. In this Parliament on 3rd March a question was asked of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) as to whether he was aware of the problems associated with the sewage outfall at Malabar. He then indicated he had heard something of the matter and he thought some correspondence was coming from the Premier of the State but he did not know whether it had then arrived. He said perhaps when it was received action could be taken.
I want to impress on the House the interest in this matter of the many thousands of people in the electorate of KingsfordSmith. This problem, which evoked a comment from the Prime Minister was brought to public notice in the city of Sydney by no less a body than the local surf life saving club which when examining the marine pollution of the Maroubra beach and the off-shore area had discovered it was the most polluted beach area. That area is immediately adjacent to the Malabar sewage outfall. Those young men - and I pay them a tribute - brought to the notice of the people in the area, the Premier of the State and no less a person than the Prime Minister that something should be done about it. So now the problem has been talked about here and that is about as much action as we can expect.
When I look at the problem of the disposal of sewage and the effect that sewage has on the marine environment I am led to suggest to the Minister that clause 7 be amended to provide that the Institute of Marine Science have branches throughout the Australian continent. There could not be a better opportunity to study the effect of pollution on the marine environment than would be given by the establishment of a branch of the Institute adjacent to the sewage treatment works in the Botany Bay area.
For support I would suggest not only the people whom I have mentioned but a look also at the recent excellent series of articles in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ which refer to the industrial waste entering and polluting Botany Bay. In fact, of the first 7 matters published in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald* no fewer than 4 were associated with the Botany Bay area. They were directly concerned with major industrial plants, not the least of which would be a paper mill. Also a matter which has not yet been mentioned but which should be mentioned is the dredging of the Bay for the extension of the Mascot Airport and what effect the dredging of the area might have on the marine environment. Perhaps this Bill should be amended to ensure that any appropriate marine science body should investigate these aspects.
One is not against the quite meritorious suggestion that the Great Barrier Reef should be preserved and that all the other problems associated with it should be looked at immediately. The Prime Minister has announced the appointment of a royal commission. That is to be commended. But I submit on behalf of the people whom I represent that the sewage disposal methods that they have to put up with also merit urgent scientific investigation because nothing has been done about them. The Prime Minister is completely erroneous in his suggestion that there was ever thought from a political point of view that no treatments would be associated with the Malabar outfall, as he indicated in a reply on 3rd March. The biggest problem with sanitary engineers, if we may use that expression, is that they are interested only in the disposal of the effluent. They have no real knowledge, nor is it their duty to have any knowledge, of the problems associated with disposing of that sewage, effluent or industrial waste onto the marine floor and the dangers it is causing.
I have had the opportunity of finding out recently that the proposed treatment works at Malabar, which this Government is financing with no small amount of money - $32m for the disposal of sewage for more than 1 million people - will take 5 years or more to build but will merely dispose of the sewage effluent in another form. It will not destroy the bacteria or remove bacteria; it will merely discharge the effluent in what is from their point of view a more effective form. The proposal is to construct a 108- inch diameter submarine outfall and dispose of the effluent 5,000 feet off-shore. If one looks at the problems associated with the investigations overseas one finds that it does not matter how far off-shore the effluent is disposed of ; it will still pollute those waters.
The real matters that have been highlighted are these. In the United States the panel report of the Commission of Marine Science, Engineering and Resources clearly indicates that the domestic sewage and industrial waste disposal methods use up all the oxygen in the water and are the greatest contributors to any pollution. If we allow this to continue at Malabar, or anywhere else for that matter, we are virtually destroying whatever marine environment we have left there. 1 know that the Minister would be quite sympathetic to any case that we could put up. Although this point has never been mentioned, we should certainly look at this matter from the national point of view. It could be suggested perhaps that this is solely a State matter, but if we leave it solely as a matter for the State it will mean that the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board engineers will be the only ones associated with the problem. Already the President of the Water Board has said: All you will find when the treatment works are installed is a large brown stain.’ That is completely hopeless from the point of view of trying to maintain the marine environment. If it is suggested that we have no jurisdiction we could say with a smile that when the off-shore legislation is introduced we should have it then because at least we would have power to control the sea bed where this effluent is going to be disposed of.
It is for those reasons that I want to draw attention also to the fact that there are grave medical problems associated wilh this method of disposing of sewage, lt has been established by investigations by the British Columbia University that one of the most effective methods of spreading hepatitis is to dispose of human faeces in this way. They have established clearly that when we dispose of sewage - raw sewage, if we may use that term - into a marine environment it does not dissipate the bacterial infection. In fact, it can encourage the spread of the problems of infection more readily. It is well known that, in the area that I represent, many medical practitioners treat a number of illnesses that they are not prepared to say, from a scientific point of view, are associated directly with people surfing off Malabar Beach or being involved in the marine environment there. But I feel that these illnesses could well be associated with this environment.
Another more tragic aspect for the whole area is that a major teaching hospital there which would be the subject of grants from a University point of view - the payment of federal money, if I may put it that way - disposes of its sewage directly into the same environment. The amount of sewage being disposed of there daily is 70 million gallons. This daily rate of disposal will increase to 200 million gallons because the amplification of the sewerage will take care of the whole disposal not only for the present population but for the future population, and this population will progress to 1.6 million people.
No analysis has been made of this problem from the scientific point of view in this nation. 1 know that many other honourable members will be anxious to take part in this debate and that they would be quite willing to say: ‘Look at the problems in my area’. 1 will well grant them that opportunity. But if we look at the problem from the point of view of Botany Bay. the Malabar outfall and the marine environment in that area, we see that there can be no better opportunity than this area for any scientific group to have a quick look at the pollution that has taken place already. Sewage has been disposed of in that area since 1890 and it is well recognised that this sewage has affected already the marine environment. How much more will it be affected when the amount of sewage disposal is increased from what it is today - 70 million gallons - to over 200 million gallons.
Looking at this situation to see whether any work has been done on the problem overseas, I notice in the newspapers that splendid work has been done in Denmark where a very keen interest is taken in the biochemical treatment of sewage. Obviously, it is essential that treatment of sewage be in about 3 stages, a primary stage, a secondary stage and a tertiary stage. With the greatest of respect, we have not even passed the primary stage, nor has any money been allocated for us to reach the secondary stage. When public meetings are held in the area that I represent and the Premier of New South Wales says to the gathering: ‘1 am writing to the Prime Minister asking that he give mc more money’, it should be recognised that that will not solve the problems to the tertiary stage or in any way help in solving the pro blems of pollution of our marine environment. Virtually, it is a political answer to the problem to say in front of these people: If I can get more money to dispose of the sewerage more quickly, well, that should suit you’. The people in my area are wide awake to the situation now. They are saying: ‘We are not satisfied with a pipeline giving us this amount of sewerage effluent disposal, whether that disposal takes place 5,000 feet off shore or 15,000 feet off shore.
These scientific problems in this day and agc should be looked at on this basis. Why do we dispose into the modern environment something which will pollute and destroy it? The industrial waste position in Sydney is becoming acute. We now find that the responsible Minister in the New South Wales Government has given permission for all the great industries in the City of Sydney area to dispose of their industrial waste through this same sewerage outfall. This is to happen perhaps within the next month. Not only will the unfortunate people who live in this area, along with the many thousands who use the marine environment of the beaches, have to put up with an aggravation of a nuisance that they have suffered for years; they also will have the additional problem of all the destroying features of industrial waste dumped through the same sewerage outlet.
If we look at this again from the point of view of the research in the United States of America we see that the disposal of industrial wastes can be even more destructive in some ways than the sewage disposal. This industrial waste problem is associated also with Botany Bay. We have these industrial wastes coming in from the industries adjacent to the Bay. Mr Deputy Speaker, I have been informed that the House is shortly to adjourn. Therefore. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– lt being 4 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 16th April I put the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
– I require that the question be put forthwith without debate.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to say a few words.
– I am entitled to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the House.
– Under the order of 16th April there can be no debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.1 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answer lo the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In addition, two locomotive enginemen and one guard were employed on the train, with changeovers at Port Augusta, Tarcoola, Cook and Rawlinna.
(a) Full sleeping accommodation and facilities for preparing meals are available for locomotive enginemen and guards in railway barracks at Tarcoola, Cook and Rawlinna.
These allowances are considered to be adequate.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister lor Shipping and Transport upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows -
Similarly, conversion of broad gauge main line to standard gauge might cost about $35,000 per mile excluding the factors already mentioned. It should also be mentioned that the above figures could vary substantially according to the standards adopted.
An interdepartmental committee has been examining a proposal for the construction of a new standard gauge railway between Tarcoola and Alice Springs. This proposed line would replace the existing narrow gauge railway between Marree and Alice Springs.
asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Papua and Nev? Guinea: Expatriates with Convictions (Question No. 820)
asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice -
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As many of the individuals concerned have rem meet to Australia and no doubt have rehabilitated or are endeavouring to rehabilitate themselves it would be improper to give fresh publicity to their offences by publishing their names. Of the above, three expatriates convicted respectively of breaking and entering, manslaughter and forgery were removed to Australian gaols under the Removal of Prisoners Act, and one expatriate convicted of stealing was served with a notice of deportation while in prison and left the Territory voluntarily after serving his sentence. The Territory police examine each- case to- determine whether the convicted person is likely to commit further offences. If he has had no’ previous convictions and a good record- while in- prison he is normally allowed to remain. Most, however, leave the Territory voluntarily after serving their sentences.
asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
– The answer to the honour able member’s question is as follows:
Provision is made for the conduct of corrective institutions in Papua and New Guinea in the Corrective Institutions Ordinance 1957-1969 and the Corrective Institutions Regulations 1959. Detainees are required to perform hard labour, or, in the case of detainees serving terms of imprisonment without hard labour, moderate work. Female detainees are employed so far as practicable on work within institutions such as sewing and washing. Corporal punishment is not permitted. No provision is made for solitary confinement m corrective institutions. Only one corrective institution, at Bomana near Port Moresby, has a maximum security area. A detainee may be placed in this area only by order of the Controller of Corrective Institutions. The maximum security area is used only for psychiatric cases, sexual offenders, escapers and recidivists. Regulation 137 of the Corrective Institutions Regulations 1959 provides that where a Corrective Institutions officer of the rank of Instructor, Assistant Superintendent or above considers that the conduct of a detainee is so violent as to render it advisable, any of the following means of restraint may be used:
A’n order issued by the Controller on 27th April 1970 provided that notwithstanding this Regulation leg irons, leg grips or similar leg appliances shall not at any time or under any circumstances be placed1 on any detainee. Section 26 of the Corrective Institutions Ordinance provides that when a visiting Justice convicts a detainee of a Corrective Institutions offence he may sentence him to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 month in addition to the term which he is serving at the time of committing the offence. Under Section 27 of the Ordinance a Magistrate who convicts a detainee of a Corrective Institutions offence attended with circumstances of aggravation owing to its repetition or otherwise may sentence him to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months in addition to the term which he is serving at the time of committing of the offence.
Papua and New Guinea: Punishment of Prisoners (Question No. 895) Dr Klugman asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
When were leg irons last used on (a) indigenes and (b) expatriates in gaols in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
Will he re-check the answer given to paragraph (2) of Question No. 296 (Hansard, 7th April 1970, page 766) and state why the weekly compensation paid to a New Guinean plantation worker who is permanently and totally incapacitated is higher than the amount he would have received but for his incapacitation.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The amount of compensation cited in the answer to paragraph (2) of Question No. 296 is higher than the amount a New Guinean plantation worker who is permanently and totally incapacitated would have received but for his incapacitation. This results from the interpretation of the pay provisions of the Ordinance. The correctness of this interpretation is under further examination.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
What are the details of Australia’s aid to underdeveloped countries in each of the past 10 years in respect of (a) the amount budgeted, (b) the amount actually expended on the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and (c) excluding the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, the amount actually expended on (i) bilateral aid (ii) multilateral aid and (iti) military aid.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
lt is difficult to give exact figures, but since 1963 more than 700,000 Laotians have been officially recorded by the Royal Laotian Government as refugees in Government-held areas. Currently some 230,000 are receiving refugee assistance. The remainder have been declared by the Laotian authorities to be ‘self sufficient’. 160,000 of those currently receiving assistance became refugees before the recent communist offensives in the Plain of Jars and at Sam Thong. The balance of the current total have been declared refugees since the impact of the offensives began to be felt in early February.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 May 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1970/19700508_reps_27_hor67/>.