27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– 1 present the following petition:
To the Honourable ,be Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners request that your honourable House make legal provision for:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Humble Petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners request that your honourable House make legal provision for -
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– 1 present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. Th Humble Petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners request that your honourable House make legal provision for -
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received. .
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That they are gravely concerned at the apparent appalling increase in crime in Australia, particularly in densely populated areas;
That they fear the police forces of the various States and Territories are undermanned and underequipped to handle the increase in crime;
That their concern is aggravated by the apparent number of unsolved crimes particularly those involving - violence to the individual including murder,
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable Members of the House ‘ of Representatives will , seek to ensure that the Commonwealth Government will seek the co-operation of the States and supply extra finance to the States to enable;
proper town planning and development to halt the increase in densely populated areas which leads to increased crime,
the proper staffing and equipping of police forces to enable adequate crime prevention and detection measures to reduce the frightening increase of both solved and unsolved crime,
the proper detention of and rehabilitation of criminals, and
compensation to victims pf crimes of violence, and your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray-
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled; The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That they are gravely concerned at the apparent appalling increase in crime in Australia, particularly in densely populated areas;
That they fear the police forces of the various States and Territories are undermanned and underequipped to handle the increase in crime;
That their concern is aggravated by the apparent number of unsolved crimes particularly those involving violence to the individual including murder,
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable Members of the House of Representatives will seek to ensure that the Commonwealth Government will seek the co-operation of the States and supply extra finance to the States to enable;
proper town planning and development to halt the increase in densely populated areas which leads to increased crime,
the proper staffing and equipping of police forces to enable adequate crime prevention and detection measures to reduce the frightening increase of both solved and unsolved crime, .
the proper detention of and rehabilitation of criminals, and
compensation to victims of crimes of violence, and your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of the residents of the State of New South Wales respectfully sheweth:
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.
It is an indisputable fact that no natural resource can withstand hunting on such a concentrated scale, unless provision is made for its future.
We, your Petitioners, therefore humbly pray that: The export of all Kangaroo products be banned immediately, and that the Commonwealth Government make a serious appraisal of its responsibility in the matter to ensure the survival of the Kangaroo.
And we. your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition read and received.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable, the Speaker, and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament asembled. The humble petition of residents of New South Wales respectfully sheweth:
Australians, custodians of the world’s largest marsupial, the Red Kangaroo, have allowed it to be reduced so low numerically that even CSIRO research has had to be suspended in some areas and alternative means of research employed in others.
The Kangaroo is being exploited whilst facts on populations and numbers of kangaroos are unknown - any day the numbers can be reduced below that level needed for survival of droughts and natural mortality. At this dale neither the number needed for survival nor the number of kangaroos left is known.
Pending the outcome of investigations by the Select Comittee, it can be logically assumed that shooters, fearing restrictive legislation in the future, will intensify their efforts to obtain as many animals as possible, while they can. We, your petitioners, therefore humbly pray that you will:
Immediately ban the export of products made from kangaroos.
Strongly urge the State Governments to ban the shooting of kangraoos for commercial purposes, at least until the Select Committee has made its investigations and recommendations.
Add to the Constitution a clause giving power to the Commonwealth Government to act to safeguard any species of wildlife that is endangered through any cause.
And we your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– [ present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of electors of St George respectfully showeth:
That they are gravely concerned at what they consider to be the adverse effect on moral standards in the Australian community of the increasing portrayal and description of obscenity, sexual licence, promiscuity and violence in films, books, magazines, plays and, to a lesser extent, television and radio programmes.
That their concern arises partly from the fact that histotrians, such as J. D. Unwin and Arnold Toynbee, have shown that nearly all nations which have perished have done so because of internal moral decay; and partly because obscenity and indecency are contrary to the teachings of Christianity which is the acknowledged religion of more than 80 per cent of Australians, besides being ‘part and parcel of the law of the land’ (Quick and Garran in “Commentaries on the Australian Constitution’, page 9S1); and
That, in accordance with the findings of the Australian Gallup Poll, published in the Melbourne Herald’ on 14th November 1969, the majority of Australian citizens want censorship either maintained or increased -
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that honourable members of the House of Representatives will seek to ensure that Commonwealth legislation bearing on censorship of films, literature and radio and television programmes is so framed and so administered as to preserve sound moral standards in the community. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.’
Petition received and read
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in- Parliament assembled. The humble petition of electors of Bruce respectfully showeth:
That they are gravely concerned at what they consider to be the adverse effect on moral standards in the Australian community of the increasing portrayal and description of obscenity, sexual licence, promiscuity and violence in films, books, magazines, plays and, to a lesser extent, television and radio programmes.
That their concern arises partly from the fact that historians, such as. J. D. Unwin and Arnold Toynbee, have shown that nearly all nations which have perished have done so because of internal moral decay; and partly because obscenity and indecency are contrary to the teachings of Christianity which is the acknowledged religion of more than 80 per cent of Australians, besides being ‘part and parcel of the law of the land’ (Quick and Garran in Commentaries on the Australian Constitution’, page 951); and
That, in accordance with the findings of the Australian Gallup Poll, published in the Melbourne Herald on 14 November 1969, the majority of Australian citizens want censorship either maintained or increased -
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that honourable members of the House of Representatives will seek to ensure that Commonwealth legislation bearing on censorship of films, literatutre and radio and television programmes is so framed and so administered as to preserve sound moral standards in the community. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– Can the Minister for the Army inform the House whether the location of the Army marine base has been agreed to? If so, will he tell the House where it is to be located and when it will be commenced? He may recall that about 3 years ago the Army investigating committee went along the east coast of Queensland to find such a place.
– I do recall the circumstances mentioned in the honourable member’s question. I have little more to add to what I advised him some months ago. As the honourable member will recall, after reviewing the matter to see whether the base could be located on the eastern coast the Army then decided to see whether it would be preferable to have locations spread along the coast. If that did not seem feasible, it appeared that the more likely conclusion would be that the base would be located either on the Brisbane River or at Cairns. I have requested that the matter be expedited, although other departments are, of course, involved. I hope it will not be too long before we can reach a decision and announce it.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Has his attention been drawn to statements made over the Australian Broadcasting Commission by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland, Professor Zelman Cowen, regarding the alleged lack of balance by the ‘This Day Tonight* programme in reporting the recent disturbances at the University of Queensland? Is it a fact that the programme did not broadcast a videotaped discussion between the ViceChancellor and a staff member critical of the University administration? Has the ABC given as the reason why the segment was not shown that it was dull? Does this seem to indicate that the programme in this instance was concerned more with sensational rather than objective reporting? Has Professor Cowen protested to the Commission in strong terms over its treatment of this issue?
– It is true that a videotape of a discussion between the ViceChancellor of the Queensland University and a member of the staff was not broadcast over the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I understand that the ABC, within the programme area of its administration, determined that this segment was not of sufficient programme value to justify its being broadcast. As to the final question which the honourable member asks, Professor Cowen has in fact brought this matter to the attention of the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission with a request that it be referred to the full Commission. I understand this has been done and that a reply has been sent to Professor Cowen stating the views of the Commission. In his third question the honourable member asked whether this seemed to indicate that the programme in this instance was concerned more with sensational than with objective reporting. The answer which the ABC has presented to me following a discussion I had with the Commission is no. I feel bound as Minister in charge of this area to express the view that the news media generally within Australia and over a much broader area adopt the attitude that if a matter is not controversial, is not critical or is not sensational, it does not justify being publicised in journals, over the radio or ewer television. I have previously expressed views publicly on the desirability of objective reporting so that facts might be known to the general public which the news media are set up to serve. I only regret that the news media see their responsibility as being different from the attitude which I adopt. I think what is also overlooked by the news media in this regard is the tremendous waste of time of public figures in movement to television and radio studios, in actual recording and in movement back to their normal functions within the community, when the real information of value still does not reach the general public of Australia.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. In view of the importance of a national energy policy to Australia and having regard to the huge cost involved in the introduction of nuclear power into this nation will he refer this subject to a select committee of the House for investigation and report? If the Minister will not agree to the appointment of a select committee will he say why he refuses to adopt this course?
– I think I should point out at the outset that the production of power is principally a matter for the State governments. The Commonwealth comes in as far as its own territory is concerned, and to some degree in the coordination of State policies. There are different means by which we do institute discussions on occasions with the States in relation to these matters. Only last Thursday in Brisbane we met as Ministers concerned in northern development. Present were the Ministers representing the Commonwealth - the Minister for National Development, and the Minister for the Interior representing the Northern Territory - the Premier of Queensland as Minister for State Development and the Western Australian
Minister for Industrial Development and Minister for the North West. This was one of the matters that was discussed at length. On occasions through various other joint authorities and joint councils this point is discussed, but I do not think it would be for the Commonwealth to initiate an investigation into matters which are primarily the responsibility of the State governments. We can suggest to them that we can assist in the co-ordination of efforts. Certainly as far as this is understood we are doing everything possible. I do not see the necessity at this point of time for the type of investigation by this Parliament that the honourable member suggests. I conclude by saying that this matter, in the overall sense, has received quite a lot of attention by my Department. We have a certain number of ideas about it, some of which we hope to bc discussing with the States in the near future.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service.
– Have you rephrased it?
– 1 have, ls the Minister aware that the Australian Labor Party owned and controlled radio station 4KQ in Brisbane recently broadcast several paid national service call-up notices? Can the Minister tell the House whether other radio stations owned by the ALP are also broadcasting call-up notices for money? Has 4KQ or any other ALP controlled station discussed with his Department the possibility of altering the contents of the advertisement in order that such stations can continue receiving revenue for an advertisement which the Party alleges is so violently contrary to its policy?
– These advertisements are placed by the Department of Labour and National Service through a Treasury body which co-ordinates all Commonwealth advertisements. They are placed with all public media which will accept them. The Government desires to broadcast the advertisements as widely as possible in order to notify people who have the obli gation to serve. It appears that there is in most of the States a radio station controlled by the Australian Labor Party. My inquiries indicate that all those radio stations accept advertisements notifying the general public of the liability to serve and they are paid for them. There have been no discussions entered into by the radio stations with any member of the Government along the lines mentioned in the honourable member’s question.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. In view of the answer he just gave to the honourable member for Macquarie, I ask: Do a number of questions relating to the introduction- of nuclear power in Australia appear on the notice papers of this House and of the Senate? Was notice of some of those questions given early in June? What is the reason for the delay in answering them when it is reasonable to assume that all the information sought would and should have been available to the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and the Government prior to the decision to build a nuclear power station at Jervis Bay?
– I suggest that if the honourable member studies the notice paper carefully he will realise the position. There is a considerable number of questions - I think it runs into many hundreds - relating to various matters which are directed to a number of different departments. I know there is quite a considerable number of questions which the honourable member quite rightly has placed on notice relating to this very important matter. He will be happy to know that in the last couple of days I have sent through a couple of answers. We expect to get some additional answers through in the next week or so. As soon as possible we will supply answers to all the questions he has asked and, I hope, provide all the information he requires. I can only say that the questions must be given priority according to the order in which they are placed on the notice paper. A considerable amount of time is involved in preparing the answers because we want to make sure that the information is correct and in sufficient detail in order to meet the requirements of the honourable member.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry received a report giving more details of the proposed measures to establish a statutory authority for the marketing of wool? If so, when can this report be made available to members and can the Minister advise the House as to the likely timetable for the implementation of its recommendations?
– Yes, I have received a report elaborating on the proposals from the Australian Wool Board’s advisory committee relating to a number of aspects, one of which was a single marketing authority. As announced in the Budget speech, the Government authorised me to undertake a study with the industry in order to elaborate on the proposals put forward by the Australian Wool Board. I asked Sir John Crawford who is a very noted Australian and who was also the Vice Chairman of the Australian Wool Board’s advisory committee whether he would undertake this task in conjunction with the Australian Wool Board and the Australian Wool Marketing Corporation and assisted where need be by my Department and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. Sir John Crawford has completed that study and he gave me his report yesterday. This matter is before me now and it will go before the Government in the near future. I will be asking the Chairman of the Australian Wool Board, Sir William Gunn, to see me so that I can present the report to him. The Australian Wool Board will then be able to consider it. But I would like to assure the honourable member and all members of this House that the matter will be handled as expeditiously as possible.
– I address my question to the Minister for National Development. Is the Minister aware that the United States Atomic Energy Commission, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the European Nuclear Energy Agency and many other governmental and non-governmental bodies periodically publish figures on estimated unit costs for the production of electricity for projected nuclear power stations? Has the Australian Atomic Energy Commission prepared similar figures? If so, what are they and will the Minister table them for the benefit of this House and the taxpayers of this nation? If not, why not?
– It is a fact that a number of authorities throughout the world publish the information that the honourable member has mentioned. We certainly get copies of most of the documents concerned and we study them. The position in Australia, of course, is a little different from that in the countries that the honourable gentleman mentioned in that Australia does not yet have a nuclear power station and so we cannot yet maintain records or publish any data. I can assure the honourable member that when a decision is made - and I hope it will be made before the end of this year - on the contract for our first nuclear power station and the type of station is known we will be in a position to indicate finally the capital cost involved and we will also have available to us data from countries operating stations of that type. That information could be published. In addition I can assure the House that when data becomes available from our own station, when it is in operation, such information will be made available fully to the House.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Health a question. I understand that from 1st November a patient going to a specialist has to be referred by a general practitioner who will use a special form. Can the Minister advise me whether those people with permanent illnesses who already have a referral from a general practitioner will now be expected to go back to a general practitioner? If this is so, will it not mean additional expenditure to them and also to the hospital benefit associations? Will the Minister advise me of the policy on this matter?
– It is true that as from 1st November patients who wish to claim the specialist rate of benefit under the health benefits plan will be required to attach a notice of referral to the claims that they send to their fund. This procedure was devised as a result of work undertaken by a working party which consisted not only of members of the Australian Medical Association and members of my Department but also members of all 4 royal colleges. They were unanimous on the form to be used and the procedure devised. The form provides for 3 categories. A patient will be referred for an opinion, for immediate treatment or for continuing management of an existing condition.
I would imagine that the case referred to by the honourable gentleman would be the last one. In this case, the currency of the referral note will be for 12 months in normal cases unless the specialist believes that it is in the interests of the patient for the patient to see his general practitioner again before 12 months has elapsed. Whether or not, as the honourable gentleman asked, a person in the situation described by him will have to pay his general practitioner for renewal of the referral form will depend on the general practitioner.
– I address my question to the Minister for National Development. Is it true that the radio active wastes produced from a natural uranium nuclear reactor pose a far greater disposal problem than the waste produced from an enriched uranium reactor? Is it true also that the replacement frequency of spent fuel elements in an ‘on line’ natura] uranium reactor introduces a hazard factor that is not present to the same extent in an enriched uranium reactor where the fuel elements are replaced only once every few years when the reactor is taken ‘off live’ for the operation? Bearing these factors in mind, and also the fact that nuclear wastes must be stored for 1,000 years, why did the tender specifications for the Jervis Bay project express a preference for a reactor type using natural uranium fuel which, of course, loads the specifications in favour of the Canadian tenderer?
– First of all, 1 wish to correct what was the last statement in that question, that is, that the specifications indicated favour of a certain type of fuel. This is not right. The specifications are quite open and they would cover any type of fuel which could be used in any type of reactor. The 9 tenders which were submitted covered a variety of types of fuel. The 4 that are on the short list for consideration for the Jervis Bay reactor are of different types of fuel. Those 4 tenders are on the short list for consideration at the moment. 1 turn to the question regarding natural uranium. Perhaps the honourable member has in mind the fact that we did include in the tender specifications a reference to the fact that Australia would require a reactor and that in the future we would use Australian uranium. But we did not indicate that it was to be natural uranium or whether it was to be processed to the enrichment stage. On the question of the period in which refuelling is required, I point out that this varies with different types of reactors. My understanding is that the charge with natural uranium lasts approximately 2 years and that, in fact certain types of partly enriched and enriched uranium would have about :h same period. In some cases this is longer depending upon the type of reactor.
When it comes to the question of the disposal of waste material, the situation differs between the waste that is produced from enriched uranium and from natural uranium. Waste material is not just disposed of as such. Waste material from the reactor goes through reprocessing. Then, some of the fuel can be reused. So, the amount of waste from the use of natural uranium and enriched uranium is practically identical. The same method of disposal is used in both cases. In our case, of course, it will be done to the highest international standard recognised throughout the world today.
– My question is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister. Has he seen the reports that some of the great uranium deposits in the Northern Territory may be the subject of a foreign takeover bid? Can he advise what is the attitude of the Government to this matter?
– I am not in possession of all the facts on this matter but I understand that there is some ground for believing that the great uranium deposit recently discovered in the Northern Territory by Queensland Mines Ltd may become the subject of a takeover bid. The Prime Minister has informed me that he has an appointment to meet in his office tomorrow morning a gentleman who probably wishes to raise this matter with him. I can say - and in this I repeat what the Prime Minister himself said in this House a year ago - that if a foreign takeover bid should ba judged to be in respect of a matter of vital importance to Australia the Government will not permit that to go through and will take whatever steps are necessary to preserve the Australian ownership of something judged to be vital to the Australian national interest. 1
– Is the Minister for National Development aware of the report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review presented in 1959? Has he or the Government considered that Committee’s recommendation for constitutional amendments to empower the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws with respect to, firstly, the manufacture of nuclear fuels and the generation and use of nuclear energy and, secondly, ionising fuels? Has the Government made its decision to construct the nuclear power station in the Australian Capital Territory at Jervis Bay on the basis of its having totality of constitutional power in that Territory? If so, has the Government restricted its area of construction because of its failure to seek constitutional power to the extent necessary in the interests of the Commonwealth? Finally, will the Minister inform the House how the Government intends to control the introduction of nuclear power into the various States and particularly as to final waste disposal areas both for the Jervis Bay and other possible future stations?
– The Minister is having fun today.
– It is my lucky day. I cannot recall the report to which the honourable member referred, but I will certainly arrange to have it provided and study the points that have been raised. The decision to build a nuclear power station in Australia was taken after consultation with all the States. My predecessor, the honourable member for Farrer, spent some considerable time in discussions with the various States regarding the proposal at this point of time for the introduction of nuclear power as a supplement to existing power systems in Australia. It was found as a result of those discussions that the New South Wales grid was the only one that could accept 500 megawatts, which is the proven minimum economic size for a nuclear power station these days. There fore the agreement was discussed and negotiated with the Government of New South Wales. Other States have indicated their interest in nuclear power. I have mentioned that we had a conference on northern development last week and we discussed this matter in the context of power generation for the future with the States of Queensland and Western Australia. They have indicated that at some time in the future there will be a positive interest in those States the same as there will be an interest in the southern States.
The reason for the selection of the Jervis Bay site was that, first of all, it was technically the most suitable site and, secondly, it was considered that because the Commonwealth was providing the finance it would be desirable to have the station installed in the Australian Capital Territory. But this was not the final reason why it was selected. It was selected because it was the best area of a number of areas which had been investigated in the Capital Territory around Canberra and Jervis Bay and also in parts of New South Wales. The final choice of site was made because it was considered to be the most suitable. Whatever the constitutional situation may be, the honourable member will be happy to know that matters of this nature are arranged by agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. He will be pleased to know that the Commonwealth has concluded an agreement with New South Wales. I hope that within a few days a joint statement in relation to this matter will be made by the Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales Government.
– Is the Deputy Prime Minister aware that it is now more than 30 years since the popular front technique of political pressure was developed in certain European countries? Is he further aware that this technique helped to debilitate many overseas countries and to destroy their capacity for self defence? Does the right honourable gentleman see similar characteristics between the popular fronts of former days and the involvement of various groups and personalities in the Moratorium Campaign which might engender a feeling of foreboding?
– My age is such that 1 remember quite vividly the activities of the so-called popular fronts in Europe - mass demonstrations, inspired violence disruptive to governments, and in the case of France, a contributing factor to the political instability of that country in the years leading up to the Second World War with consequences with which we are all familiar. I do see a similarity in such activities here as the encouragement of mass demonstrations particularly in the case of the so-called Vietnam Moratorium. My attention was captured this morning by an article in a newspaper. I have taken steps to endeavour to confirm the authenticity of the article and I have been assured by 2 newspapers that it is an authentic report of what Dr Cairns, the honourable leader - the honourable member for Yarra I should say-
– He is the honourable member for Lalor.
– It was a slip of the tongue when I referred to him as the honourable leader. I should have said that he was nearly the honourable leader, because he ran well in the last contest and may have become the Leader of the Opposition and the alternative Prime Minister of Australia. He is quoted in the newspaper as having said:
I sincerely hope that authority has had its day. We won democracy by breaking laws, by demonstrating in the streets, by cutting off the heads of kings.
It is true that a good deal of what Dr Cairns is reported to have said was part of the campaign to achieve democracy, but we have achieved democracy. There now appears to be a campaign to destroy it. There is a real threat to democracy in this country in a continuation of this determined effort to inspire people to break the laws or to defy the laws and to terminate all respect for authority. What is the alternative to a working democracy? What is the alternative for a country where there is no respect for law and where authority is not allowed to survive? The alternative is anarchy. This is the kind of thing that is planned. It is not just a plan for the ultimate ignoring of authority; it is an attempt to replace the authority established by the people with an authority established by violence.
– The Minister for Education and Science will undoubtedly have examined the situation raised in the Senate 3 months ago, in the week after this House rose for the winter recess, in which the principal of a high school which had received a large Commonwealth subsidy for its library removed books which had been put on special shelves for senior students and which included several well known books on South East Asia, including ones by Professor C. P. Fitzgerald, the first Professor of Far Eastern History at the Australian National University, and Sir Alan Watt, former Secretary of the Department of External Affairs. While I appreciate that the Commonwealth should not specify which books must or must not be made available in the libraries which it subsidises, I ask the Minister: Are there any safeguards against the waste and suppression involved in cases such, apparently, as this case, where books financed by the Commonwealth and chosen by competent librarians are subsequently and surreptitiously discarded?
-I had some knowledge of the incident to which the Leader of the Opposition referred but, as I understand it, this particular high school was in one of the States and of course under State administration. The Leader of the Opposition is apparently suggesting that I should direct the State governments as to how they control the day to day administration of their high schools.
– I am saying you should not let them waste our money.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition has asked a question. The honourable member for Chifley will cease interjecting.
– It seems to be implicit in many of the questions asked on this kind of topic that it is the function of this Government to direct the State governments as to how they should administer from day to day the schools under their control. That is one way of looking at things. But I can assure the honourable member that if he endeavoured to put a policy like that into effect he would find a certain lack of co-operation by the State governments. We provide moneys to the
State governments not only for the erection of libraries in secondary schools but also for the interior shelving and books. The way in which this money is spent, both as to the kind of building erected and the kind of books purchased, is left to the responsible administration of the particular State government.
– Let them bum the books.
– If that is the way you regard the State governments-
– You are condoning it.
– If you regard the State governments-
– You have said that 3 times.
-Order! 1 warn the honourable member for Wills. I have already requested the Leader of the Opposition not to interject when he asks a question and the Minister is endeavouring to answer. I suggest he refrain from doing so.
– lt is basic to what the Leader of the Opposition says that he has a firm conviction that the State governments are totally irresponsible in their administration of education. This has not been my experience. In my experience, they have administered their responsibilities in education most effectively. I do not propose to take any steps in relation to the matter to which the honourable member has referred.
– Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been drawn to the fact that the Leader of the Opposition at an estimated cost of $2,600 sent a letter to each person enrolled in the electorate of Chisholm? Is this a charge against the taxpayer?
– 1 noted this morning in one of the southern papers - I think it was the Melbourne ‘Age* - a comment that the Leader of the Opposition had in fact sent a letter to each constituent.
– They were delivered by hand.
– I am merely indicating what was in the Press. The honourable member tends to agree with my earlier comments, perhaps, in regard to it.
– Yes, I do.
– But the point was that the newspaper suggested that a letter had been sent. As to the cost of postage-
– There was none.
– The Leader of the Opposition, interjecting as he so frequently does during answers to questions, indicates that these were delivered by hand and 1 must accept his assurance in this regard.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. 1 preface my question by reminding the Minister that yesterday during question time I directed a question to him concerning a young conscientious objector who has been committed to the Long Bay gaol, and who, following a hunger strike by him, had been removed to a psychiatric ward in a hospital for treatment. I ask the Minister whether he has further investigated this matter and whether he is now in a position to give me details concerning this case?
– I do remember the question asked yesterday, 1 did make inquiries and 1 am now able to provide some information. But before doing so I must draw the honourable member’s attention to his misuse of the term ‘conscientious objector’. A person who is a conscientious objector has no obligation to serve at all but to become a conscientious objector a person needs to make application to the court so that the court can determine the matter. As the honourable member will recall last month there came into effect amendments to regulations which will enable me to refer matters of the status of conscientious objectors to a court for determination without the person actually making an application when he has indicated by letter either to me or my Department that he claims to hold a conscientious belief. It is totally erroneous to give any person the term ‘conscientious objector” merely because he claims it. A person cannot be regarded as a conscientious objector merely because he claims that he is. There is no country whose laws make that provision and I am sure the honourable member would accuse the Government of absolute irresponsibility in the administration of the Act or the drawing up of the Act if there was any attempt to give that status to somebody merely because he claims it.
Coming now to the facts of the case, I had inquiries made and I have been informed of certain things. I am informed that the man concerned is David Keane, who registered for national service in July 1967. After registration he moved several times between South Australia and New South Wales. He was called for medical examination on 5 separate occasions and failed to report. Following the last occasion he failed to report for medical examination he was prosecuted on 2nd September 1970. He was fined $40 with costs, in default 31 days imprisonment. He refused to pay and I am informed that he did not want time to pay. The magistrate imprisoned him there and then. He was also imprisoned for 7 days, apparently to be served concurrently with the other sentence, because he refused to enter into a recognisance to attend for a medical examination. I am informed that after going on a hunger strike he was seen by the gaol psychiatrist and removed to a psychiatric ward at Prince Henry Hospital on 5th September 1970. More recently he has been transferred to the prison ward of the hospital. I am investigating whether at this stage a Medical Board can be arranged to determine his fitness for service.
– Are you taking a point of order?
– Yes. 1 have on several occasions had occasion to take the point that questions should not be asked unless honourable members can authenticate them or take responsibility for them. I do not do so in nearly as many cases as I believe 1 would be entitled to but I believe that during question time today we have had a very clear example of the mischief which can flow from questions being asked without any authentication. The honourable member for Mitchell asked the Postmaster-General a question on the supposition that I had posted letters to all the households in Chisholm. He based it on a report in a Melbourne newspaper. I have sent for the newspaper since then and I find that it states:
Mr Whitlam yesterday sent a letter to every elector in Chisholm.
There is no reference in that sentence or any of the other sentences in the article to my having posted the letters. It would have been perfectly legitimate to post them, but they were in fact hand delivered. So I hope, Mr Speaker, that when on some subsequent occasion I have the temerity to take a point you will bear in mind the fact that such questions should be authenticated. The Minister’s time was wasted and the time of the House was wasted by a completely unauthenticated question.
-Order! There seems to be a noisy group developing on the left hand side of this House. I inform those honourable members, having warned 3 honourable members at question time today for continually interjecting, that in future I will deal with them without the 2 customary warnings I have given in the past. In relation to the matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition I do not know whether the honourable member for Mitchell in his question was actually quoting from a newspaper report. If the honourable member had quoted from an actual newspaper report he would have been, and should have been, required to vouch for the accuracy of that report. I would say, however, that question time is a time to seek information, and the information asked for should be based on fact.
– Pursuant to section 53 of the Overseas Telecommunications Act 1946-1968 I present the annual report of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission for the year ended 31st March 1970. together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
– For the information of honourable members I present an interim statement on the operations of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation for the year ended 30th June 1970. When the final report is available it will be presented in accordance with statutory requirements.
TRACTOR BOUNTY Ministerial Statement
– by leave - 1 wish to inform the House that the Government intends to introduce amending legislation during the present session to permit it to pay a temporary additional bounty to local manufacturers currently producing bountiable tractors. This is an urgent short-term measure, pending a review and report by the Tariff Board on the question of longerterm assistance for the industry. Bounty assistance has been afforded the Australian tractor manufacturing industry since 1922. Assistance is currently given to the production of agricultural tractors under the Agricultural Tractors Bounty Act 1966, which was introduced following a Tariff Board report in September 1966.
The decision to introduce amending legislation followed an urgent review by the Government of the position of the Australian tractor industry. The Government received evidence from the 2 Australian manufacturers of tractors eligible for bounty - Chamberlain Industries Pty Ltd of Western Australia and International Harvester Co. of Victoria, which indicated that the industry was facing serious damage from import competition, and that this situation would continue unless urgent action was taken to assist the local industry.
The investigations carried out by the Government indicated that there had been a substantial downturn in total sales of agricultural tractors in Australia, and that imports of tractors had significantly affected the local industry’s share of this reduced market. Normally when an industry faced serious and damaging competition from imports it would be referred to the Special Advisory Authority for consideration of temporary protection, pending report by the Tariff Board. However, the Special Advisory Authority is not empowered to recommend on bounties which, as indicated earlier, have been the traditional method of assistance for this industry.
The Government, in the light of the information before it, therefore proposes to provide short term additional assistance to the industry pending investigation and report by the Tariff Board. This will be done by payment of a temporary additional bounty on sales of tractors eligible for the existing bounty, equal to 100 per cent of the scale of bounty payments currently payable under the Agricultural Tractors Bounty Act 1966. The cost of this additional assistance is estimated at $1.25m to the end of the 1970-71 financial year. Investigations indicated that this was the level of assistance which was required by the Australian tractor manufacturing industry in current circumstances. The level of the additional temporary bounty will be reviewed by the Government prior to the 1971-72 Budget.
The temporary additional bounty will be administered by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp), and will be payable on sales made of bountiable tractors on and from 1st July 1970. The additional assistance will be given only in respect of tractors manufactured at premises registered under the Agricultural Tractors Bounty Act 1966 as at 1st July 1970. Enabling legislation will be introduced in this session of Parliament, and a reference to the Tariff Board will be made shortly. It is proposed that the Act, when amended, be extended to 30th June 1972, subject to earlier termination by proclamation if appropriate.
– by leaveThe Opposition always adopts a tolerant and responsible attitude in regard to the payment of emergency bounties when an industry is in trouble and that industry has been referred to the Tariff Board for long term action. The principal reason put forward by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) for urgent action by payment of a special bounty is, as I see it, to save the tractor industry because of the growing competition from imported tractors. Available evidence does show that there has been a substantial downturn of tractor sales. This is to be expected when one considers the parlous condition of primary industry in Australia in terms of aggregates. The latest Budget figures show that in the last 4 years the farm sector in terms of its contribution to the gross national product has been stagnant whereas in the secondary or non-farm sector there has been a dramatic increase of S7.000m. So it is only to be expected that because of these conditions and because the net income of nearly every farmer in Australia has been shrinking there has to be some cutdown in the purchase of equipment.
Tractors are one of those commodities which are frequently hit when people put off a purchase until a better day.
What concerns the Opposition - and we will be able to discuss it further when the legislation is introduced - is where this is going to end. I suppose, the real reason for the problems of the tractor industry, like a lot of other industries, is that increasing costs in the economy are such that manufacturers are being priced out of competition in the sale of their products on world markets or on the Australian market with imports of equipment manufactured in cheaply producing countries, particularly those that have cheap labour or plants for mass production with a big throughput. The Opposition has always acknowledged the need to protect Australian industry whether secondary or primary. But the important point is: Where are we going to end this? Our economy today is highly susceptible to a galloping increase in costs which particularly affect the export primary industries which in the main purchase tractors. That is the burning question.
The other burning question is whether the bounty will be used in a way that will reduce the price of Australian tractors so that they can effectively compete with imported tractors or whether it will only be used to cushion increased costs in the future. After all, the emergency bounty being asked for is 100 per cent of the present subsidy. That means a doubling of the present subsidy. 1 am not suggesting that the tractor industry in inefficient in any sense of the word or that it does not deserve this emergency treatment. What I am suggesting - we can debate this later when the Bill comes before the House - is that if costs and prices are to run riot in Australia, as they are doing today, the solution is not simply to increase the tariff or to increase the bounty. I do not see how this will in the long term provide a solution to the problem because if the economy continues to be as it is - I do not care what term you use; ‘overheated’ or whatever it might be - it is the export industry all the time which will suffer the real burden. If there is a bounty to cushion the costs in the tractor industry, in the same way we have to look at the effect of tariffs on export industry. If these continue to rise it seems that the only solution in the end will be devaluation.
– I move:
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and make recommendations on all aspects of the provision of, and arrangements for the supply of, pharmaceutical benefits under the National Health Act 1953-1970, with particular reference to-
The salient element in those terms of reference is in paragraph (1). Honourable members will recall that the original Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme came into operation on 1st June 1948. That scheme, which was operating on a limited basis, was replaced on 4th September 1950 by a new scheme based on the supply of a list of essential life saving and disease preventing drugs. On 2nd July 1951 an extended scheme for pensioners enrolled in the Pensioner Medical Service and their dependants was introduced to provide a more comprehensive range of benefit for these people than was available under the general Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
In addition to these arrangements, provision had been made for the supply of benefits through hospitals, bush nursing centres, mission stations, etc., and for the support of mass immunisation programmes by the free issue of products for these campaigns, generally conducted by State and Territory authorities. The pharmaceutical benefits scheme continued on this basis until March 1960 when it was decided to widen the scheme and impose a charge of SO cents per prescription for the general public. Of course, the Government continued to provide pensioner pharmaceutical benefits without charge.
At the present time the pharmaceutical benefits scheme operates on the basis of supplying a comprehensive range of benefits which, when prescribed by a doctor, are supplied by a chemist:
Every man, woman and child in Australia is entitled to receive these benefits and the patient has complete freedom of choice both as regards the doctor and chemist, there has been a continuing increase in the expenditure under the scheme and the Commonwealth expenditure has increased from $70.4m in 1961-62 to $ 136.7m in 1969-70. The estimate expenditure for the current year is $155. lm.
Honourable members will be fully aware of the number of parties who have a particular interest in the operation of thi Scheme. These include the patient, doctor, chemist, drug manufacturer or supplier, hospital and, of course, the Government. Each of these parties does not necessarily have the same identity of interest and it is natural for them to tend to prefer their own particular interests. This is an ever present element in the operation of any national health scheme and it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure as equitable a balance as possible between the interests of the various parties. Having regard to the importance of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme to the community, the increasing cost to the Commonwealth or, in other words, the taxpayer and the absence of any Parliamentary review of the scheme, the Government considers that the time is now appropriate for such a review. 1 commend the motion to honourable members.
Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) .(3.42)- Mr Speaker, the Opposition welcomes this proposal by the Government and will participate in the select committee inquiry. We could scarcely do otherwise; it would be inconsistent with views which the Opposition has expressed repeatedly in this House for many years. It has been quite clear to members of the Opposition, and, indeed, to many informed people and the general public, that the spiralling cost of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme deserves much closer attention. We are glad that a select committee of this Parliament will investigate the subject and that it is to be given the wide terms of reference proposed in the motion.
I would like to take the opportunity of suggesting that this is clear evidence in support of the need for standing committees to conduct continuing in-depth inquiries into various aspects of public administration. If we had standing committees charged with the responsibility of a continuous in-depth inquiry into aspects such as the health services in Australia then this particular subject, concern for which has apparently caught up with the Government, would have been one about which a thorough report could have been compiled by this time. Therefore full information could have been before the House and available for the benefit and guidance of the Government. It is regrettable that it has taken so long to reach this position.
I mention once again that there is no doubt that the pharmaceutical benefits scheme has become an extraordinarily expensive system. This is not to say that the scheme is not justified but it is evidence that, because of the abnormally large amount of money being put into the scheme in comparison with other sectors of health expenditure, there ought to be some close scrutiny of the way in which the money is being used. After all, this money comes from the taxpayers and we have a responsibility to ensure that when we spend public money - it does not belong to the Parliament or to the Government - we achieve maximum efficiency for it.
This year it is proposed that the cost of this service, including that part of it relating to pensioner pharmaceutical benefits, will increase by $18.4m to a total of $155m. This represents 37 per cent of the total expenditure proposed in the Budget for the national health scheme. That money is to be appropriated for this area alone. To put it in plainer words, more than $1 in every $3 spent for health services under the Commonwealth Budget will be provided to support or maintain the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. This is the most expensive sector of all our areas of health expenditure. It accounts for nearly 4 times the amount we will be spending on hospital benefits. It costs nearly $60m more than we will be providing for medical benefits.
The statistics available in the last annual report of the Department of Health show that between 1961 and 1969 there was a 60 per cent increase in the number of prescriptions per head of population provided under this scheme. In the same period the cost per prescription per head of population increased by 74 per cent. In that same period the consumer price index increase was only 18.8 per cent. Even allowing for the fact that costs in the area of health services increased at a faster rate than general cost movements in the community, a cost increase of 74 per cent compared to the consumer price index cost increase of 18.8 per cent in the same period seems to indicate that there is something quite wrong, that there is some deepseated problem affecting cost movements in the supply of pharmaceuticals under this scheme.
There are 2 prominent features which come out of a quick review of the statistics available in the annual report of the Department of Health. Firstly, there is a greater usage of benefits under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. This may be clearly justified on the basis of health needs which in the past were neglected or because with the development of new drugs some people find that drugs are now available and can be supplied for treatment of their particular problems. I do not know the facts. This is the sort of question that arises in my mind. I am stressing that on the face of the evidence available there are clear grounds for investigation into these particular fields.
This abnormal explosion in costs is something which clearly needs a thorough assessment as distinct from the increase in usage which apparently could be justified on the basis of the clearly defined needs of the people. From what one can extract from the statistics in the annual report of the Department of Health it does not seem that the pharmacists are responsible for this increase. At page 123 of the last annual report the statistics show that in 1962, for instance, 38 per cent of the cost of pharmaceutical benefits went as remuneration to suppliers. In 1969 the proportion which went to the suppliers was still 38 per cent. Again I say that on the face of the evidence it does not seem that the pharmacists have been responsible for the increase. However, there are other factors which I hope the proposed committee will assess intensively. It may well be that there is a greater proportion of prepared lines in the total requirement of drugs. In turn it might require much less time and much less equipment to handle these particular lines. Again that might have justified a reduction in the total cost of the services and possibly in the proportion of remuneration. I am not sure of these things. These are matters which clearly require some sort of answer.
There is one particular matter in which I am interested. I will not predetermine it but will await with keen interest the outcome of the committee’s deliberations and recommendations. I am keenly interested to discover the activities and ramifications of overseas participation in pharmaceutical manufacture and supply in Australia. In fact, 80 per cent of the prepared drug market is controlled by overseas companies. I might mention in passing that I hope the proposed committee will have available to it better information and statistical data than the Minister is able to supply to members of this House.
On 19th August of this year the Minister for Health replied to a question which I posed about the number of pharmaceutical manufacturing companies operating in Australia. He said:
My Department does not maintain statistics relative to the overall pharmaceutical industry in Australia and I am therefore unable to provide an answer on this basis.
However, in the course of investigations conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs in 1968 that Committee was able to establish that 141 manufacturers were listed as drug suppliers in Australia. The Committee found that S3 of these companies were Australian companies; 33 were United States, including 2 Australian and United States joint companies; and 27 were United Kingdom companies, including 1 joint company. I repeat that I hope the sources of information available to the Minister are improved considerably if the Department of Health is to supply data to the Committee. This is not a reflection on the people who are manning the Department of Health; it is rather a reflection on the facilities available to them and the instructions under which they operate. If the Minister does not make this sort of improvement I hope that the Committee will be able to develop other sources which are more reliable and more comprehensive than the ones available (o the Minister.
From the details elicited by the Senate Committee it is overwhelmingly evident that the Australian drug manufacturing industry is overseas controlled. Recent information which I have obtained shows that the 20 largest drug manufacturing companies in Australia control or are responsible for supplying 69 per cent of the total market. This in itself seems a fair degree of concentration of drug manufacturing companies and it raises a number of questions which in turn I trust will be thoroughly investigated by the Committee. In particular I refer to the extent to which overseas companies are responsible for restrictive practices to keep prices high. For instance, in 1964 a decision was made in the Equity Court in New South Wales by Mr Justice Myers in a case involving Bayer Pharma Pty Ltd which is a subsidiary of Sterling Drug Inc. It was shown that Sterling’s books indicated that drugs bought from Bayer Pharma Pty Ltd were in fact being bought at cost price. However, the books of Bayer showed that they were being sold at 50 per cent profit. The Sydney Morning Herald’ of 2nd April 1964 stated:
The Judge said the entries, in fact, enabled Sterling Drug lnc. to conceal the real profit it was making by dividing it between the two companies.
That is between Sterling and Bayer. There has been additional evidence of this sort of practice overseas. But on the basis of what has been put forward the practice overseas is clearly filtering through and having some effect in Australia.
The United States Justice Department in March of this year charged in Washington that Bristol Myers had conspired with 2 other big drug companies to monopolise the sale of a major antibiotic and thus to keep its price artificially high. The Beecham Group Ltd was involved in this conspiracy. On the basis of the information and the charges made by the United States Justice Department this was a clear monopoly activity - ‘oligopoly’ would be the more correct term - by Bristol Myers conspiring with other companies to restrict the provision of a particular drug on the market so that prices could be maintained at a high level. The drug referred to was ampicillin. This drug had been fairly limited in Australia at the time the charge was being made. As I understand the terms of reference the Committee that is now proposed will be able to investigate this sort of allegation.
On the subject of pharmaceutical industries the ‘Economist’ of 2nd April 1966 stated:
High prices and selling costs (23 per cent of final costs) cannot be flannelled away with talk, of research expenditure and risks by an industry that averages twice the return on capital of all industry in America - and where some companies notch up twice that again. The advertising is the hinge of the whole selling operation, since the drug houses realised early on that their business offers a unique proposition: the customer (patient) does not exercise free choice while the doctor, who chooses (prescribes), does not pay. So prices can stay high, held up by huge promotional expenditure.
I think the observation which has been made in the ‘Economist’ has some relevance to certain practices in Australia, in 1965 the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) drew public attention to the high expenditure committed by the drug companies in Australia to promoting sales. The evidence of this practice was so overwhelming that the 1965-66 annual report of the Department of Health in fact endorsed the honourable member’s criticism and indicated that official pressure bad been brought to bear on the drug companies to try to cut down this sort of wasteful cost which, as is the nature of all costs in industry and commerce, is passed on finally to the consumer and in this case to the Government, because of the degree to which it supports the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. Finally this cost reaches the taxpayer, the man who bears all the burden, because he is the man who has to provide the public finance for expenditure in various areas.
The Opposition welcomes the proposals. They are long overdue. Members of the Opposition are concerned that the attitude of members of the Committee should be directed towards providing the maximum advantages for the Australian community. The Australian consumer is the most neglected person in the Australian community. I hope that the shibboleths of propping up large overseas drug companies which have consistently run through the speeches of supporters of the Government on the various occasions we have discussed this sort of topic in the House will be forgotten and that the members of the Committee will approach this inquiry with a unanimous spirit of wanting to root out any evidence of inefficient use of public expenditure because of malpractices or because of the cartel arrangements or the restrictive practices of any organisations associated with the manufacture or supply of drugs in Australia.
– 1 also support the motion moved by the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes). Honourable members on this side of the House welcome the move by the Government to have a close, public analysis and scrutiny of the decisions and the matters that lead to changes in government policy or perhaps to the continuation of government policy. We feel that it is good that these decisions should be based not just on findings made in secret by members of the Public Service but that they should be made openly by members of the Parliament who are after all here to represent the people of Australia. I think it is a pity that this field will not be examined by a standing committee along the lines proposed originally by Mr Speaker in a document circulated to members of the House. I think it is a great pity that the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) has seen fit to suspend discussion of the subject of standing committees sine die. Therefore, I would say that the appointment of a select committee although it is welcome is only second best to having this matter examined by a standing committee.
I refer now to the terms of reference of the proposed select committee. 1 wish to mention term of reference (1) (b) which is: all factors contributing to the cost of the scheme. As the Minister for Health has mentioned, the cost of the scheme concerns many people including those engaged in the pharmaceutical industry and the chemists themselves. But principally it concerns the individual patient who has a prescription to be dispensed, on some occasions, may obtain his medicines over the counter. Also, the cost of this scheme is of concern to taxpayers as a whole. No doubt exists, in my mind anyway, that the cost in each case is excessive. lt is true that, in respect of most of the drugs obtained on prescription, a patient has to pay 50c only. That may not sound a great deal bearing in mind the present value of the Australian dollar after 21 years of Liberal Party -Country Party rule. However, to refer to a fee of 50c for each prescription is to over simplify the matter, in many cases, multiple prescribing occurs. The Government’s policy, following the direction of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, is against ‘shot gun’ therapy - prescribing preparations which contain a different number of active pharmacological agents. I think that this policy is correct. Tlhe Government’s policy therefore is that different drugs should be prescribed separately. This means that, in these days of multiple prescribing, a patient is likely to leave his doctor’s surgery after a visit with prescriptions for several different drugs, and this as the result of 1 consultation.
Not only this, but a patient may need to obtain a repeat on a certain drug. Frequently a patient must do this. After 3 or 4 days on an antibiotic, a patient may need a prescription repeated and the patient must pay 50c each time a prescription is repeated. Some people must take drugs all their lives. This means a lifetime expense for them. T refer to such people as those who are subject to epilepsy and who must take anti-convulsant drugs throughout their lifetime. Some people must take digitalis preparations all their lives. Diabetics must take insulin all their lives. These people must pay a certain amount each time a prescription is presented. This means a lifetime of expense. I think that this is a subject at which the Committee will need to look.
A number of drugs - some of them are very important drugs - are not obtainable under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. To obtain these drugs, a patient incurs very great expense. The fact that these drugs are unobtainable under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme can place a rather unfair burden on the person on a low. income or with a large family. The system as it operates at present imposes a. big penalty not only on the person who has a prescription filled but also imposes a large burden, on taxpayers as a whole because of the tremendously high cost of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme.
Whether a great deal of actual profiteering on the part of individual drug companies occurs is something I would not like to prejudge. This is a matter upon which the Committee will have to decide. However, there are some observations that I would like to make at this stage about the operation of drug companies within Australia. In the first place, it is true that quite a number of industries - rather small industries - are operating throughout Australia and are making their contribution to the economy. Of course, this is a good thing. But, in the case of a special industry like the pharmaceutical industry, we must balance this fact against a consideration of whether this is something more than just an industry. It is. It is, in a sense, a public utility.
Apart from the question of profiteering, when we come to the argument that the pharmaceutical industry should be able to maintain a reasonable margin of profit, I think that we should remember some of the outgoings in which drug companies are involved. My colleague, the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), made reference to a quotation which mentioned the large amounts of money that drug companies spend on advertising. Every doctor knows of the paper war that is waged by drug companies. Enormous volumes of elaborate, very glossy literature, which must have been expensive to prepare, arrives at doctors’ surgeries, day after day, week after week. I am sure that most of this large volume of literature must be consigned straight to the waste paper basket. This is a tremendously expensive practice which seems to me to be largely unnecessary because a medical practitioner, if he has a proper training in pharmaco logy, should not need to depend on the handouts of the drug companies in deciding what he is to prescribe.
But the expenditure on advertising by individual drug companies is not the only matter to which the select committee willneed to direct attention. Another matter to be looked at is the expenditure which the drug companies maintain they incur on research. We are all in favour of research to try to find new developments and new drugs. But, unfortunately, the term ‘research’ is very often an euphemism when used by the drug companies. What they do under this heading consists first of taking an. existing drug in common use, making some alteration to the molecular structure of the drug so that its action is not altered but its structure is altered sufficiently so as to get around any patent rights that the existing preparation has, and then go ahead to compete with other drug manufacturers by way of a product which is almost identical to other preparations. This is another cost which is being incurred unnecessarily by the person who has to buy drugs and by the taxpayer.
I turn now to the matter of overprescribing. I am afraid that some criticism must be levelled at the medical profession itself on the question of overprescribing. All too frequently neither doctor nar patient, probably not having any idea what the cost may be, cares greatly about how much of a particular drug is prescribed with any prescription. If one went around to every household in Australia and counted the amount of drugs in family medicine chests in those homes, one would find that there were more drugs there than in all the pharmacies in Australia. I have no doubt that the majority of drugs that are prescribed and dispensed finish up in the medicine chests for years and years until they are thrown out - that is, if they are not swallowed by 7-year olds.
– What absolute rot.
– It is not absolute rot. A survey which was taken a couple of years ago showed that there were more drugs in Melbourne bathrooms than in Melbourne’s pharmacies. One of the reasons for the rising costs in this industry is the advances made by medical science. Medical science has more to offer the patient. It is inevitable that a larger amount of drugs will be prescribed for the Australian people. However, a large number of drugs are prescribed unnecessarily. A great deal of this overprescription stems from the traditional reverence that we have for the magical qualities of a bottle of medicine. J think that it has been shown over the years that some drugs which have been regarded as the ‘cure-all’ subsequently have been looked at in a more moderate light. .1 mention antibiotics which were given once to everybody for everything. Antibiotics now are being prescribed in a much more limited fashion. The same remarks apply to tranquillisers and barbiturates. In fact, many of the drugs which some years ago were believed to be panaceas have been shown to be pharmacologically quite inert. I hope that the committee will have a good look at the costs that the Commonwealth is paying for the drugs under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme as it operates at present. What I mean is that I cannot see why the Commonwealth could not call tenders for a drug to be prescribed under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme and, if a company is to supply that drug, the Commonwealth ought to pay the lowest tender price to any company that will supply a drug of suitable quality. The excess price will have to be met somewhere else. I think that would be a- pretty good way of rapidly reducing the cost to the Commonwealth of drugs. However, that is something that will have to be considered bv the committee.
Once again, I say it is regrettable that pharmaceutical benefits are not to be examined by a standing committee. One of the problems with a select committee is that it sits for a long time, but as soon as its report is brought down the committee has done its dash. The report is brought down to the Parliament and it is then up to the Government to decide whether it will do anything about it.
– The expertise is lost.
– The expertise is lost and the evidence is pushed to one side if the Government does not want to take any notice of it. Nobody has a continuing responsibility or interest to see that the report of the committee is implemented, because after the report is tabled the committee is dissolved. A standing committee would have a vested interest in seeing that its report was implemented. Another trouble with select committees is that, as we ail know, they tend to go from capital city to capital city and they take a lot of evidence that is repetitious. I wonder whether sometimes a select committee tends to take repetitious evidence because its members like to have their moment of glory, knowing that after their report is brought down the committee will go into dissolution. As I said, if we cannot have a standing committee, this is the second best. I support the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
Customs Tariff Proposals No. 19 (1970). The Customs Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariff 1966-1970. Proposals No. 19 (1970), which operates from tomorrow, implements the Government’s acceptance of the Tariff Board’s report on pencils, crayons and chalks. In its report the Board recommends duties of 25 per cent general tariff, 15 per cent preferential tariff for ordinary lead pencils. This represents an increase of 2i per cent general tariff, 5 per cent preferential tariff of the value of loose pencils but in relation to boxed goods and cheap pencils duties will be somewhat reduced. Tariff protection is reduced on school chalks by 27 i per cent or more of their value. Other goods, such as crayons and slate pencils, will now be admitted at non-protective rates of duty of 7i per cent general tariff, free preferential tariff.
The Government is also adding to the list of hand-made traditional products of cottage industries that are granted duty free admission from developing countries and to the range of products which are eligible for concessional admission under the preferential tariff quota system for goods from developing countries. These proposals give effect to this decision. Effect is also being given to an accelerated duty phaseout on aluminium sulphate imported from New Zealand as agreed to by the Australian and New Zealand Governments. This product, previously included in Schedule A to the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement, would have been due for duty free admission on 1st January 1974. The normal detailed summary of tariff changes is being distributed to honourable members. I commend the proposals.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
– I present the following report by the Tariff Board:
Pencils, crayons and chalks.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Debate resumed from 20 August (vide page 300), on motion by Mr Hughes:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– May I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation. Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the Sulphate of Ammonia Bounty Bill, the Sulphuric Acid Bounty Bill, the Pyrites Bounty Bill and the Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Bill. Separate questions may of course be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of the 5 Bills to be discussed in the one debate-
– Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the 5 measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– The Opposition supports the 5 measures. I would like to direct my remarks to the Pyrites Bounty Bill and the Sulphuric Acid Bounty Bill. The Tariff Board has completed its investigation into sulphur bearing materials and has presented its report to the Government. The Government now seeks time to consider the report, and for that reason the Bills before us seek to extend the operation of the Sulphuric Acid Bounty Act 1954-1969 and the Pyrites Bounty Act 1960-1969 for a further 6 months The investigation just completed by the Tariff Board into sulphur bearing materials is one of many that the Tariff Board has conducted into this subject. The Government on this occasion specified 2 references to the Board. One was to ascertain how the Government could best fulfil or discharge its obligations to the industry which installed capacity for the production of sulphur bearing materials of an Australian origin or for the production of acid from Australian materials. Secondly, the Tariff Board was asked to ascertain whether the Government should continue to assist the industry to use Australian materials.
As I indicated, the Board has submitted its report and the Government is considering it. In this consideration I appeal to the Government to bear in mind the outstanding obligation that it has to assist and to protect the industry, an undertaking that was given in the early 1950s. At that time there was a world shortage of sulphur. We could run into this problem again, because from my knowledge from talking with experts it is most unlikely that any large deposits of sulphur will be found in this country. When Australia was faced with a world shortage in 1950 the Government realised that the industry that undertook the manufacture of acid from local materials, namely pyrites, would be faced with high capital expenditure because of the cost structure of pyritic plants as against the cost structure of brimstone plants, so it introduced the bounty system.
I want to point out that I am firmly convinced that the Government did the right thing in 1950 in encouraging the production of acid from the locally produced pyrites because of the tremendous importance to this country of the fertiliser industry. It is from the acid that we manufacture the fertilisers that are used as the backbone of primary industry. When the bounty system was introduced in the 1950s the export earnings from the primary industry section constituted about 80 per cent of the total export earnings of this country. So it was extremely important that the fertiliser industry be maintained and that the raw material be available for this purpose.
Practically anything you care to name has at some stage come into contact with sulphuric acid. It is a widely used product. Its compounds may be seen in so many industrial processes in this country. The Government has recognised that it has an obligation to assist those organisations which co-operated with it and used pyrites for the manufacture of sulphuric acid. I recall that in 1953 this Government subsidised on a £1 for £1 basis the construction of a jetty and conveyor equipment at Strahan on the west coast of Tasmania to assist the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Co. to export pyrites to Melbourne where it was used by the Commonwealth fertiliser plant for the manufacture of fertiliser. In 1959 there was a change of policy by the Government. The Government must recognise that industrial concerns which co-operated with it to ensure that Australia had ample supplies of acid manufactured from indigenous materials when there was a world shortage of brimstone were involved in heavy capital outlay and high operating costs.
I direct the attention of honourable members to the Tariff Board’s report of 31st August 1967 about high operating costs. The Board points out that the capital cost of a pyritic acid plant is more than twice that of a brimstone plant of the same capacity. Operating costs of a pyritic acid plant are three or four times as high as those of a brimstone plant. The total cost of producing acid from pyrites is much higher than the comparable cost of producing acid from brimstone. In addition, the brimstone process is cleaner and the life of the brimstone plant longer than that of the plant burning pyrites. This is borne out by the attitude of the Commissioner of Taxation, who allows a 10 per cent depreciation rate on a pyritic plant but only a 7i per cent depreciation rate on a plant using imported brimstone.
Notwithstanding its change of policy in 1959. the Government has continued to recognise that it has an obligation to those concerns which co-operated with its former policy and has paid a bounty on pyrites and on sulphuric acid produced from pyrites and sold in Australia. In reviewing the Tariff Board’s latest report the Government must now decide how best it can discharge its obligation. Some mining companies have been unable to compete with low cost imported brimstone and have lost their markets. In their case the Tariff Board has recommended the payment of compensation, and this has been done.
Some $385,000 has been paid to Norseman Gold Mines Pty Ltd and $28,000 to Mount Morgan Ltd. In considering the situation of those mines still producing pyrites and those plants producing acid from Australian pyrites I urge the Government to be guided by the recommendations of the Tariff Board in 1967 and by the Board’s comments about the life of plants. I refer again to the 1967 report on sulphur bearing materials and to that section of the report which deals with the Government’s obligation. The report reads: to setting the period of obligation lnc Board is of the opinion that 20 years would be reasonable. According to witnesses, this is about the average life of a pyrites plant wilh normal maintenance. In selecting the period of 20 years the Board is mindful that the Government has never committed itself as to the duration of its obligation to the industry. However, assuming that the Government accepts that it has an obligation for this period, the Board suggests that it commence from 1954-1955. when most production commenced under the scheme of encouragement. This would mean that the Government’s obligation still has 7 years to run, i.e. until 1974.
The Board has had the advantage of a detailed analysis of the industry. 1 can only hope that in considering the Board’s recommendations in relation to the current review of the industry the Government will accept the recommendation that it has an obligation at least until 1974 and will extend the bounty provisions for at least another 4 years. The Government is also considering whether it should continue to assist those companies using Australian raw materials. There is no doubt that the Government has a national responsibility to do this. In my opinion and in the opinion of many other people the Government should continue to assist those concerns using indigenous raw materials. There is always the possibility that supplies from overseas could be held up by war or other stresses. We do not want to see this country held to ransom because of a world shortage of sulphur. If this were to happen the fertiliser industry, which is vital to our primary industries and to many other industries which use sulphuric acid in large quantities, would be seriously affected.
The saving of foreign exchange by the use of indigenous raw materials is another matter worthy of consideration. In 1963 the cost of imports was running at about $4m a year. That cost increased five-fold by 1968, when we were paying about $2 1.5m a year to import sulphur. The demand for sulphur is increasing and will continue to increase rapidly. Experts predict that by 1975 we will have to import almost twice as much sulphur as we import today. In other words, our imports could amount to 900,000 tons a year, which would cost this country $50m at current landed costs. The Government must take this factor into consideration when it considers whether it should support the industry, particularly those sections of it which use indigenous materials.
I am very proud of a plant that has been established in my area. I refer to North West Acid Pty Ltd at Burnie. I think this is the first acid producing plant to come into operation in Australia since the establishment of a plant in South Australia in 1954. The Burnie plant commenced operations on 1st May last. The Government cannot disregard the importance to Australia of such a plant, which over its estimated life of 15 years will save this country between $70m and $11 Om in foreign exchange. So that alone is worthy of some support from the Government.
We give a bounty of some $27m to the dairying industry, and I support it. The direct earnings to this country from the dairying industry are about $104m. So the ratio is about 3 to 1: For every $1 we spend on the dairying industry we receive $3 in overseas earnings. By supporting plants like North West Acid Ltd we can save this country over a lifespan of some 15 years estimated foreign exchange earnings of between $70m and Si 10m. I think that this is a worthwhile investment and should be looked at by the Government in the same manner as it looks upon the bounty which is paid to the dairying industry. This plant has also been of great economic importance to the north west and the west coast of Tasmania. It has assisted in the policy of decentralisation and brought some economic value to these areas. It is now using by-products from mining operations which in recent years unfortunately have not been used, lt is good to see them now being put to use.
Until the construction of the jetty under the Government’s policy of the 1950s, we used to send some 70,000 tons of pyrites through the port of Strahan to Melbourne.
When the plant was changed to a brimstone burning plant our export of pyrites fell away and they just became an unsightly heap alongside the mine. But now the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Co. has entered into an arrangement with the Electrolytic Zinc Co. of Australia Ltd at Rosebery, and each of these companies supplies 150,000 tons of pyrites - a total of 300,000 tons - for the manufacture of sulphuric acid at Burnie. From this we are producing some 420,000 tons of acid a year.
I mention the economic importance of these operations to this area because the railway line which runs from Melba Siding near Zeehan through Rosebery and Guilford Junction to Burnie had to be reconstructed and rehabilitated. This meant a great deal of new work for the people in this area. The capital cost of constructing the acid plant at Burnie was Si 4m. This plant employs 100 men full time. Apart from that, one must take into consideration all those employed indirectly in the operations of this plant. A greater number of men had to be employed in the handling of the pyrites at the mines at Queenstown and at Rosebery. Then there arc the transport workers who convey the pyrites from the Queenstown mine some 20-odd miles across to the railhead at Melba Siding. This, of course, keeps the railway fettlers and maintenance men employed.
Because we gather only about 50 per cent sulphur from the ore, it will be appreciated that from 300,000 tons of ore there is a vast amount of material which is of no use in the plant and for which no use has been found. This has to be taken some 6 miles out to sea and disposed of. So all of these employees are engaged in various aspects of the work associated with the manufacture of the acid itself. I believe that plants such as North West Acid Ltd are performing a job of great national importance. I sincerely hope that the Government, in its review and consideration of this matter, will agree to the request made by this industry for a bounty. It has requested a bounty of 22c a ton of acid for every $1 by which the price of imported sulphur falls below S28 a ton f.o.b. gulf ports in the United States. The wellbeing of the North West Acid Ltd plant is hinged on the price of imported sulphur remaining at S28 per ton f.o.b. If the overseas price falls below S28 we will be in trouble. I appeal to the Government in its present review to extend the bounty to the lower rate.
The price of overseas sulphur is subject to violent fluctuations. Today it is $21 f.o.b. American ports, and it is at this price that the bounty is urgently required. We know from past experience that when the overseas price falls, as it has done recently to $21, marginal producing mines in America close down temporarily, causing a shortage and a consequent rise in prices. This manipulation by overseas mining interests must result in instability in the Australian industry, from the point of view both of those mines producing pyrites and of those industrial concerns producing sulphuric acid from Australian pyrites.
I hold that it is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to take whatever steps are available to it in ensuring the stability of industries set up in the national interest and using Australian raw materials. Accordingly, I appeal to the Minister to recognise that the Government is under an obligation to extend the bounty provisions for at least another 4 years and at the same time to provide for bounty at the lower rates in order to protect this vital Australian industry which uses indigenous materials. As I have already indicated, the provision of the bounty will save foreign exchange, allow for economic development in various parts of this country, and reduce our dependence on vital overseas supplies in time of war or other stresses and so ensure supplies of acid for fertiliser and other industrial uses. I sincerely hope that when the Tariff Board report has been considered by the Government and is presented to Parliament it will provide for continued assistance, not only in regard to pyrites but also for the manufacture of sulphuric acid from pyrites sold in Australia. I hope the Government will consider this report sympathetically, bearing in mind the great importance of the industry as I have outlined it this afternoon.
– 1 will refer, first of all, to the first of this group of Bills, the Urea Bounty Bill. It is, of course, a holding operation because of the fact that the Tariff Board’s report was not received until fairly recently. Time is required to study that report. In the mean time, the bounty will expire unless action is taken to extend it. 1 would like to point out a few factors in connection with this. The Tariff Board report on industrial chemicals and synthetic resins, dated 13th April 1966, recommended - and the Government adopted - bounties on urea and sulphate of ammonia. The bounty on urea was $16 a ton and the bounty on sulphate of ammonia was $8 a ton. It is also interesting to note that in 1966 the production of sulphate of ammonia was about 125,000 tons while the production of urea was about 30,000 tons. The bounties were paid to assist the Australian producers to compete with imports, that is, to compensate local producers for cost disadvantages compared with overseas suppliers.
Assistance was given by way of bounty instead of by duty, because assistance by duty would have raised the farmers’ costs. lt was envisaged that local producers would compete on price with fertilisers imported from other countries. In 1966 the quantity of urea produced was insufficient to supply the Australian demand, and in both 1967-68 and 1968-69 imports of urea exceeded 100,000 tons, which is a considerable amount of urea to be imported. On 31st December 1968 the Tariff Board was asked to review the bounties on urea and sulphate of ammonia in the course of a review of a large sector of the chemical industry. No doubt this was one of the reasons why it took some time to bring down this report. The Board’s report on nitrogenous fertilisers was not received, as I said, until fairly recently and the present report is intended to continue bounty payments until the Government considers and takes action on the report of the Tariff Board.
I think it is only reasonable that we should agree to the proposition that was put up and that is that these Bills be accepted and the bounty allowed to continue. Urea and fertiliser generally play a prominent part in our agricultural production. One point I would particularly like to make is that very often when we hear of the Government giving assistance to fertiliser production it is criticised because people say the financial assistance it is giving will lead to increased production of some products which will in any case be difficult to sell. The point I want to make is one that is not as generally recognised as it should be and one that I think the general public is quite often very ignorant of and that is the reduction in the cost of production that fertiliser can bring about. It does not necessarily mean that because one uses fertiliser that one has to produce more. It does mean that if it is working effectively one produces more per acre. It is a matter of whether it is necessary to apply quantitative restrictions on the produce that is being placed on the available markets. But it is necessary to use fertiliser so that the cost of production will be reduced over the quantity of goods that is being produced.
This bounty too is a bounty to the manufacturer and again I would like to draw attention to the fact that every time a bounty is mentioned in this field the impression is gained that it goes to the primary producer. I have heard this suggestion made in discussions here about things which are provided for the benefit of the primary producers. In this case it is provided for the benefit of the manufacturer and, of course, being in the way of a bounty it does not increase the price, as a duty would. I would like to refer to a new large scale manufacturer, Austral Pacific Fertilisers Limited of Brisbane, which commenced operations last year. I believe it is making a very valuable contribution to our national economy. One of the reasons for this is that it is of world size and because of economies of scale its size should be an advantage. It produces urea and ammonia and its capacity is equivalent to 157,000 tons of nitrogen per annum, or, expressed in tons of urea, about 340,000 tons per annum.
Consequent upon Austral Pacific entering urea manufacture Australian demand can now be met by local production. Just a little while ago I mentioned the importation into Australia of 100,000 tons of urea. There is another factor which is perhaps worth mentioning in relation to this and that is that this factory is a user of natural gas. So not only do we get the benefit of using natural gas in this factory but, because it is a major user, it may even have made it economic to pipe the natural gas from the Roma field down to Brisbane with all the benefits that that brings. So it had a collateral benefit. The assistance to the manufacturer in this way has had reper cussions which go beyond the immediate benefits that are derived from it. I just mentioned that in passing. As the previous speaker, the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies), made some reference to his pride in the operations in Tasmania, so I feel that we in Queensland can get a great deal of satisfaction from this standard of production - something of world size which we feel will be of real benefit to the nation and to the primary producer. Since the factory came into operation only late last year it is reasonable to assume that there could be problems in getting to full efficiency in production. I do not know that there will be, but it is possible. Certainly the factory will have all the advantages to enable it to produce this fertiliser in competition with other countries and it at least has the advantage of economy of scale.
The price of urea has caused some concern to farmers in my area and it is interesting to note the variations in prices. I have heard criticisms of what has happened to prices when bounties are paid and for that reason I think it is worth noting the trend of prices in my own State of Queensland. I go back to 1st July 1966 when urea was $122 a ton. On 1st October 1966 it was reduced to $85.20 a ton after the introduction of a subsidy and it remained at that price until 1st July 1968. On 1st July 1970 it was $79 a ton. That is a very considerable reduction and it is a continuing one. I think I should point out, however, that there was a further drop in 1969. On 1st April 1969 it dropped to $69.20 a ton and has risen now to $79 a ton. But if one goes back along this line of figures it is rather hard to argue, as it has been sometimes, that this fertiliser bounty has not been of great benefit to the industry. Nitrogen is, of course, a most essential element for plant growth. With the exception of legumes all plants obtain their requirements of nitrogen from the soil. But most soils are naturally deficient in nitrogen and additional quantities need to be added to improve productivity. It is this productivity that we want to keep in mind. When we are talking about the use of fertilisers, we want to look at the cost of production. It is very important to us.
It is interesting to note a passage from the second reading speech of the then Minister for Primary Industry when he introduced the Nitrogenous Fertilisers Subsidy Bill in 1966. He said:
The price of nitrogenous fertilisers is very much higher in Australia than in countries where large volume production has resulted in the availability of low-cost nitrogen to farmers.
That accords with the remarks I made previously in connection with production in Australia on a large scale basis. It is interesting to note too that nitrogenous fertiliser has gained worthwhile responses from pastures under a wide range of conditions. This is an added value. Sometimes we relate it only to agriculture. That applies in my own area in northern Queensland but its use probably is more important with the clover grass pastures of which we do not have so much in my area. I mentioned the importation of nitrogen and the saving that the production of urea in Australia will mean. The balance between our exports and imports will be affected materially. The effect will be a beneficial one. The sugar industry is one of the big users of fertiliser in my State and one of the greatest industries that have been dependent on it.
I trust that these Bills will meet with the approval of the House. I am sure that they will. The Government must give very full consideration to every aspect of the bounty and subsidy on fertilisers at this time. Our great primary producing industries need all the assistance that can be given to them. They have played a very important part in our national economy and in the progress and development of Australia as a nation. This factor has often been lost sight of. I hope that very sympathetic consideration will be given to the needs of primary industry, particularly in the matter of bounties for the manufacture of fertiliser and the subsidy for fertilisers generally.
– I will direct my remarks to the fertiliser bounty Bills. Most of the Bills are interrelated, with the exception of the Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Bill. The principal objective of the bounties on the fertiliser component is basically to reduce the price of fertiliser in Australia so that the farmers will have lower costs. The second objective is to encourage the production and the consumption of fertiliser, whether it be phosphatic, nitrogenous or potassium fertiliser. With respect to the bounty as it refers to urea, a startling and dramatic expansion in the capacity to make nitrogenous fertiliser in Australia has taken place particularly since the establishment of Austral Pacific Fertilisers Ltd. This expansion has been so extraordinary that the present capacity to make nitrogenous fertiliser is probably about 500,000 tons per annum. On the other hand, consumption is running at less than 200,000 tons. I assume that the Tariff Board will have a good look at this substantial expansion to see whether or not this has been a sound investment. One can ask whether, in a highly competitive field such as the production of nitrogenous fertiliser, we needed more companies or whether it might have been more economical to allow one company, for example, to expand to such a degree that it could supply the market while at the same time a check could be kept on the prices of the fertiliser produced by that company by relating them to the import parity price of nitrogenous fertilisers.
The Opposition’s principal query is whether the farmer is getting the benefit of these bounties. It could be argued that the very large investment of the 2 principal companies concerned with the production of nitrogenous fertiliser which have the capacity to produce fertiliser greatly in excess of requirements, was an unsound investment. The Tariff Board should look very closely at the fixed costs alone that are associated with this investment. Although in time there might be a downward sloping average cost curve as expansion increases and the fixed costs are spread over a great volume, in the short term the cost of production must be significantly higher than it will be when Austral Pacific starts producing at its full capacity.
The other point I am concerned about is the degree of protectionism being given to manufacturers in this field. The Opposition accepts and endorses the philosophy of protectionism, provided that protection is based on sound economic lines. I do not wish to use the word ‘efficient’. Thai is something which is almost impossible ‘o define in a protectionist society. As long us the resources are being used effectively, to the degree that a commodity is not being produced wastefully, one can argue that the manufacturers are entitled to some degree of protection. But this does not mean that even if they are using their resources effectively they are entitled to very high levels of protection. Let us take urea by way of example. How many people have bothered to examine the protection that is being given to the manufacturers of urea? The normal tariff is approximately 74 per cent, which amounts to about $3.80 a ton. On top of that is the nitrogenous subsidy which, as far as the component of urea is concerned, amounts to about $36.80 a ton. With the bounty, which is about $16 a ton, one gets a total of about $57 a ton which is, directly or indirectly, coming out of the taxpayers’ pockets to support this industry. The Government says: ‘This is going back to the grower.’ It is not. Ft is going to the manufacturer to compensate him for a high cost structure. Let us look at it in real terms and compare the protection of $57 a ton with the import price of urea from places like Alaska and countries which are now mass producing nitrogenous fertiliser. We can buy urea at non-dump prices for between $55 and $60 a ton which means that urea is being protected in Australia by the equivalent of a tariff of something like 100 per cent.
We have reached the stage, therefore, where we have to start questioning these types of proposals. If the bounties and subsidies are going back to the producers, as the Government claims in most cases they are, the Opposition supports the principle that the farmer should be compensated because of the cost structure. But if these bounties or subsidies are in the main going to the manufacturers of fertiliser to compensate them for unsound investment decisions then the Opposition most certainly does not agree with the principle of a bounty paid to the manufacturer. I will watch this with great interest when the report of the Tariff Board is published. What worries me a lot about this bounty on fertiliser is that it could wreck those companies which are importing nitrogen. The watchdog on the Australian manufacturer of fertiliser is the agent who imports fertilisers. He keeps the manufacturer honest. If that importing organisation ls wrecked and is told that from now on it cannot import anything; or if, because of a temporary phase, the price structure is such that it does not pay the company to import having regard to the bounty being paid to manufacturers; and if after a time costs go up and up and there is not an opportunity to assist the organisation importing nitrogen, then 1 think this will be a retrograde step. We have to keep these fertiliser monopolies honest or they will take all of the bounty and all of the subsidy in the guise of compensation high costs.
At the present time - and this is only roughly - one could argue that of the $60m spent on bounties and subsidies for fertilisers only about $20m is going into the pockets of the farmers. The other $40m is going into the pockets of the manufacturers, in the main. If it is correct that the urea manufacturers have asked for an increase in the bounty of $16 a ton to $32 a ton they will find their case very difficult to justify unless they can prove that their investment decisions have been wise. If anybody told me it was a wise decision for companies to expand production to a capacity of 500,000 tons when consumption is around 200,000 tons, it would be very difficult for me to believe k. They are investing a lot of money and the purpose of the investment will not be fulfilled in terms of compensation for many years to come. I believe that under the present method of distribution of bounties and subsidies farmers throughout the nation are being hoodwinked, because they are being told they are getting the full benefit of all the bounties and subsidies, particularly on fertilisers.
The subsidy system, which in general is designed to help the small, traditional family farmer, has been a failure because the biggest share of the federal subsidy payments is going to the powerful manufacturing interests on the one hand and to a very small number of large and affluent primary producers on the other. No-one denies the desirability of attempting to have a viable manufacturing industry concentrating on, say, nitrogenous fertilisers providing those resources are being used effectively. What I am concerned about and what disturbs the Opposition is the distribution of these bounties and subsidies. Who is getting the main benefit from the bounties and subsidies? Take the absurdity of the subsidy question overall. I would like somebody to argue with me on this because when one looks at the distribution of subsidies in Australia - I am talking in general terms - one finds that some 50 per cent of the total farmers in Australia are receiving only about 5 per cent of the total subsidies. The top 10 per cent of the farmers, the large affluent farmers, are getting about 60 per cent of the total subsidy payments by the Commonwealth. This is not the purpose of the bounty and subsidy system in Australia - to make the rich dairy farmers in Victoria, richer for example. Or is it?
It is certainly not, if one accepts the explanation of subsidies given by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen). They are not helping those who need help, which is the basis used in most countries and should be used in this country whether the farmers need it to maintain economic production or to phase themselves out of production. All that is happening is that they are getting a pittance to keep some of the dairy farmers in the problem areas in production. I raise this because if honourable members have gone into the question of subsidies they will agree with me that there is something very seriously wrong with the distribution of subsidies in Australia. We can argue that under the Constitution we cannot pay differential subsidies. For example, we cannot give the producers in northern New South Wales a greater subsidy per lb than the producers in Victoria. But on the other hand we are doing it in Australia under the zone allowance system. We are paying a differential zone allowance. I am told that that is breaking the law of the land, which of course the Government would never do. I am told on the best advice that it is breaking the law of the land.
– That is a joke - a guesstimate.
– It is not a guesstimate. It is true.
– It has never been proved in the courts.
– If the honourable member asks the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) he will be told in no uncertain terms that it is against the spirit of the Constitution; I think those are the words he uses. Secondly, there is a differential payment in relation to the $30m subsidy to woolgrowers. This can be done by section 96 grants payable to the States. Politically, of course, it is a different matter.
If we said to the dairy farmers in Victoria: We are not going to give you a certain amount per lb butterfat but we will give you less and we will give more to producers in northern New South Wales, Western Australia or Queensland’, there might be a political reaction. I raise those points because in relation to bounties and subsidies on nitrogenous fertilisers, sulphuric acid and other commodities - the same principle applies- - the farmer is not getting the full benefit of the bounties or subsidies, particularly the farmer who is in most need and who has the potential to increase his productivity. There is an unfair allocation of subsidies.
– That was a most interesting series of remarks by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). For my part I see a lot of merit in some sections of his remarks. In my view bounties should be used to lower the cost of production in other industries. In essence the bounty on nitrogenous fertilisers was assumed in its original context to do just this - unless I am hopelessly wrong - to make fertilisers cheaper to primary producers with the consequential lowering of the price of foodstuffs to the ordinary consumer. This is a proper use of the bounty. If taxpayers have to provide bounty funds the bounty should have a lowering effect on the cost structure of the community whether in terms of other ancillary production or in terms of an overall consumer index relationship. The honourable member for Dawson is quite correct when he says that this is not so today, that not only has the bounty been directed towards the manufacturers of nitrogenous fertilisers - both urea and sulphate of ammonia - but also because imported nitrogenous fertilisers are difficult to obtain, to say the least, it is penalising in some instances the sector it was originally meant to benefit. I know of many instances in the fruitgrowing areas of my electorate where people in effect - I say that purposely - are using locally produced nitrogenous fertilisers on which a bounty has been applied at a higher cost to themselves than if they could get access to sufficient supplies of imported nitrogenous fertilisers.
This is where the logic of the original intention has in my view somewhat fallen apart. However, with respect, I cannot quite agree with the honourable member for Dawson when by implication he says that bounty payments should go essentially to people in need. No doubt that is part of the honourable member’s philosophy - and, of course, at one level or another it is part of mme too - but if he suggests as I rather felt he was suggesting, that those farmers with maximum productivity should be penalised in some way by not having the same access to the benefits of bounties, I disagree. I imagine he did not fully mean that implication because if there is one thing that will quickly ruin the attempt of industries, including primary producing industries, to equate with world prices and export parity - in other words to become viable - it would be the act of bolstering up some sections of them by Government action until there is utter unreality in price comparisons. To me this would be anathema, ft would be the wrong action to take. I am generous and have a sincere desire to help those in need but this would be a disaster for the nation. We can see precisely what happened in one of two instances in the past when this sort of general philosophy was carried loo far.
I rose this afternoon to talk briefly about sulphuric acid and the pyrites bounty. I did so because there is in my electorate a small town called Brukunga which is the centre of the only mined pyrites establishment. This small town has been established on the production of pyrites. The raw material, the pyrites, is sent to a firm called Sulphuric Acid Pty Ltd which I believe is in the Port Adelaide area. At any rate it is somewhere in Adelaide. This matter goes back to 19S4, as the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) said, when brimstone and other alternative sources of sulphuric acid were expensive imports. At that time prices fluctuated wildly. The Government at that time decided, in co-operation with various industry leaders, to establish the production of sulphuric acid in various parts of Australia. It was decided to establish a plant in South Australia which would produce sulphuric acid from the raw material pyrites.
– A very good move.
– Yes, at that time it was an extremely sound move. It might well prove to have been essential for local production in the future. I will come to that point in a little while. As is usual in those cases where prices fluctuate wildly, there has come a time when prices are low. As the honourable member for Braddon said, sulphur f.o.b. from America at present is as low as $US21 per ton. So this is a cheap period for brimstone which is the major world source of the sulphuric acid needed by many industries in Australia today. The main thing that most honourable members have in mind, apart from the various industrial users of this substance, is the production of superphosphate from phosphatic rock. This bounty was initiated because the cost of manufacturing sulphuric acid from brimstone was much cheaper than the cost in the case of pyrites. Indeed, to one degree or another this is still comparatively true.
I do not know what method is used by North West Acid Pty Ltd at Burnie to produce acid from pyrites, but in South Australia the Sulphuric Acid Pty Ltd has 2 methods. The first is the fluid bed method of production which is extraction by way of fluidisation. This plant has been installed for some time. More recently the firm has changed to the flash roasting method, which is a far more economical way of extracting sulphuric acid from pyrites. I believe that the debt on the capital involved in this plant has now been nearly eliminated and that this is a thoroughly economical method of producing sulphuric acid in comparison with other methods of extracting it from brimstone.
Of course this firm wants to know, as soon as possible, exactly what the Government intends about the continuation of the bounty on pyrites on the one hand and, more importantly, the local production of sulphuric acid on the other hand. That is the matter concerning the company. But the people who live at Brukunga near Nairn also have an angle to consider. Over many years they have established a fine town. They produce pyrites economically and efficiently when compared with production in other areas. They want to know what the position is, because their future is tied up with the production of pyrites at Brukunga.
The Government has seen fit to put before the House a Bill seeking to extend the bounties on these 2 commodities for a further 6 months. We are not privy to the thinking of the Government. However, I do not think it takes a great deal of imagination to realise that there are alternative sources of sulphur appearing on the Australian scene at the present time. Particularly if one reads yesterday’s Press is it easy to see that - I think it is contrary to the remarks of the honourable member for Braddon - alternative sources are appearing. In the United States of America quite an amount of brimstone comes from the petroleum industry. This is not necessarily so in Australia. I gather that in the United States there are the typical dome-like structures which are the geophysical features of petroleum. This is not the case in Australia, mainly because the petroleum discovered here is mostly under water. Some by-products of the petroleum industry in America are not available in the Australian petroleum industry. Nevertheless, I gather that in all petroleum there is a certain amount of sulphur. This must be extracted before the petroleum can be an efficient and effective fuel.
I do not regard this as truly significant in our hunt for cheap and readily available supplies of sulphuric acid. But in yesterday’s Press there was an announcement by Western Mining Company about quite significant amounts of sulphur as a byproduct of the mining of nickel. I believe that the same thing applies to the mining of zinc. Furthermore, it has been well known for some time that copper contains quite large amounts of sulphur. One could ponder about the significance of the enormous copper deposits held by Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd at Bougainville and about why we have not heard more about this, if the hypothesis is true, from Mount Isa. It may well be - I suggest this quite seriously - that the Government is looking at the extent of these new supplies in Australia of a raw material which is vital to the production of sulphuric acid, superphosphate and the primary industries which rely heavily on this major element in our soils. It is for those reasons that 1 rose to speak on the significance of the production of pyrites in my own area.
Unquestionably new technology will produce a new balance in requirements and a new balance in economy. I believe the Government must look at this problem of the Australian production of sulphuric acid from pyrites for the following reasons: The necessity for Australian supplies; our defence requirements; the need to preserve hard currency for expenditure within Australia; and with a view to assessing total future requirements - a matter which is very difficult to deal with without proper projections and proper statistical information. The honourable member for Braddon touched on this matter and suggested that by 1975 there would be a need for double today’s requirement of sulphur in its multitudinous uses in industry and in its application with superphosphate. All we can say is that we hope the Government and the Tariff Board are looking at this problem most carefully because it is one that affects not only the lives and jobs of Australian people but indeed could well affect the future capacity of Australia to develop its vital industries.
– I think it is timely, particularly in view of this debate, that we examine the Australian fertiliser industry, the support given to it and its role in relation to the Australian economic fabric and the Australian farmer. I think that this examination should be made with some urgency. I did not realise the depth of disparity in approaches to this industry until I listened to some speakers in this debate. We heard from the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) a plea on behalf of an industry developed in Tasmania. He made a convincing and strong case for that industry’s future expansion. We heard from the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) who spoke with some pride of the industry that has been born in his part of the country. The honourable member spoke of the expansion of that industry in the future. We heard grave doubts expressed by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) as to whether we were developing too much capacity and whether in fact we had a desire or need as a nation for the sort of capitalisation which is going into fertiliser production at the present time and which may well proceed further unless some guidelines are given. The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) compounded all of the problems by predicting that there perhaps might be further massive amounts of fertilisers of various types produced by various firms already on the verge of new discoveries or new forms of production.
I think if ever there was a need for the development of national economic guidelines, this debate has indicated that need. As the member for Riverina I know that fertilisers are a most important input into agriculture. They are an essential ingredient in efficient production by an industry which competes, I might say, in quite an unsupported way very often with die products of farmers around the world. It is traditional for the Government to take the sum total of more than $58m, which is proposed to be paid in 1970-71 to fertiliser companies in the form of bounties and subsidies, and say to the nation’s farmers: ‘See, this is what we are doing for you.’ The suggestion is that the existence of an Australian fertiliser industry and the money given to this industry - not directly to the farmer but to the industry - means that the Australian farmer gets his fertilisers cheaper or even as cheaply as those of his competitors. This just is not true in many cases. The Australian farmer is paying more than most of his competitors for most of bis inputs. He does not receive any money directly at all. So I say again that it is time we had an overall assessment of the benefits to him of the present bounties and subsidies.
As is proposed under this legislation the Government will aid the firms directly. The theory is that the bounty will be passed on to the farmer. We find that in the past 10 years more than $322m has been paid out in bounties and subsidies by the Commonwealth Government to a series of private firms, some of which are major international overseas companies. The sum of S3 22m has gone to a comparatively small number of firms that are manufacturing nitrogenous fertilisers, phosphate fertilisers, sulphate of ammonia, sulphuric acid and urea. The beneficiaries are among those who are producing superphosphate in New South Wales and who comprise 14 companies which operate 22 factories. As I have said, they include the subsidiaries of giant overseas corporations. These superphosphate firms have claimed between them $240m in the past 10 years. This is a lion’s share of all the fertiliser subsidies and bounties that have been made available from the
Commonwealth Treasury. Ammonium sulphate, as has been pointed out, is made from sulphuric acid and ammonia is either made as a by-product from coking operations at steel works and town gas works or it is made synthetically. It is interesting to note that the whole of the ammonium sulphate industry consists of 4 factories, 3 of which are in New South Wales and 1 in Tasmania. The plant in Tasmania manufactures the synthetic product. Half of all the ammonium sulphate used in Australia is applied to the sugar crop, which is mainly grown in Queensland. It is vital to the continued viability of the industry that there should be optimum conditions of price and quality.
The 4 firms producing ammonium sulphate have benefited only to the extent of about $5. 25m in the past decade and this is not a major outlay for either the industry or the farmers. Australia imports quantities of urea, nitrate of soda and potash, and a bounty payment is certainly involved with these products. But let us have a look at what the national fertiliser industry amounts to. At last count, 48 chemical fertiliser factories employed 4,830 workers and the value of production is nearly $47 m. This figure represents the value of output, less the value of material and fuel used. The value of factory output is $164,714,000 as a marketable commodity. It has been suggested that the nation needs a chemical fertiliser industry. It was suggested with great eloquence by the honourable member for Braddon that such an industry would save us buying overseas, that it would have strategic significance and that it would provide the means of utilising waste. In other words, there is a series of very sound reasons why we should have a national chemical fertiliser industry. I am prepared to accept that possibly this is so; I am prepared to accept that it is necessary by the payment of bounties and subsidies to see that this industry remains a viable proposition. But it is essential in view of the sums of money involved and the dependence of farmers in particular on the end product that we assess the inputs into the industry from the national point of view and what we are getting out of it.
It has been suggested that at present the Government is giving consideration to the future. It has also been suggested that the Tariff Board will produce a report on the industry - I question that, but ‘industry’ was the term that was used - in the near future. I am not altogether satisfied that a Tariff Board report and some departmental consideration will add up to the sort of information that this Parliament should have to enable the Parliament itself to make up its mind and to determine an attitude on the future development and expansion of this industry. It seems to me that Tariff Board reports are very often too narrowly based and that they deal with a segment of the economy, very often in isolation. As the Government has made the determination that we are to have a chemical fertiliser industry, surely it is incumbent on the Government to produce a White Paper in which it says: ‘We have determined that we will have an industry. These are what the inputs are from the taxpayer and this is the support that the farmers are giving to it.’ After all, the farmers have given a lot of support to the small number of firms producing fertiliser over the years. Is continuing support needed? These are the questions. This is what we must plan for in the future both from an investment point of view at the Treasury and from the private point of view.
Obviously, if we are to be a meaningful party to decisions in this Parliament we need that sort of summation of information. I do not think we will get it from a Tariff Board report; I do not think we will get it from departmental spokesmen. I think it is time we had a look at the economic planning in relation to all of the factors involved. If this was done, it would be seen that the farmers have been giving a meaningful support to the fertiliser industry and to the nation. I do not think that the farmers can afford to support anybody very much at the present time. So, I would like this aspect to be examined. There is no doubt in my mind - and the facts, I think, support this statement - that it is possible for farmers to make better arrangements in many ways for imports as for locally produced fertilisers.
I am not in a position today to make any sort of meaningful determination as a member of this national Parliament - not at all - because I have not all the data which would enable me to come down on one side or the other. So, what T must do is simply say that we have in existence 48 factories employing 4,830 people. We cannot sack them all and demolish the factories - we cannot do that at the present time - just by throwing out the proposals before us. We are not in a position to defend the farmers’ situation because we do not know in fact overall what it would mean if we simply said: ‘We will wipe out all protection and bounties, and see what happens then’.
We have not the data for us to make a determination on that basis and rely on imports. So, I cannot make it today. I do not think that any member of this Parliament can. We have yet another ad hoc decision or a series of ad hoc decisions proposed, and we will accept them for the moment. But I would say, speaking on my own behalf, that it is time that we had a series of economic assessments - I suggest that they be integrated assessments also- on this subject. With due respect to my friend from Braddon this would not be an assessment of one plant in Tasmania or, as mentioned by my friend from Maranoa one plant in Maranoa or of 22 factories in my own State of New South Wales which are producing other types of fertilisers. Such an assessment should not be done on an unco-ordinated basis by looking bit by bit and piece by piece at an industry. We should be looking at the matter within the national economic fabric.
So, as there is this confusion in relation to fertilisers, I make the plea that early steps be taken to produce a White Paper setting out clearly and definitely the national continuing commitment that we may be expected to make and also- and there is a greater urgency about this - setting out how our own primary producers at the moment can be given the same cost inputs at the same prices of their competitors across the world. The best I can say about the measures is that I cannot oppose them and I must accept them because there is nothing better before us at this time.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, in dealing with the series of Bills before the House, I wish to refer particularly to the Urea Bounty Bill 1970, the purpose of which is to extend the operation of the Urea Bounty Act 1966-1969 for a maximum period of 6 months to 30 December 1970 unless an earlier date of cessation is specified by proclamation. This extension is to give the Tariff Board the opportunity to make certain investigations into this industry.
In general, we are speaking about bounty protection for industry, lt can be said that the policy in relation to bounties and tariffs does not differ although there is some difference between a bounty and a tariff. The object of the exercise is much the same in one sense, that is, to protect an industry. We do not argue about the protection of secondary industry by tariffs. Perhaps we may argue about the degree of protection given to secondary industry but not about the policy of protection. But, if secondary industry is to be protected by tariffs, it is reasonable to expect that primary industry should obtain reasonable protection for. its purpose.
Originally, the bounty on urea set out to do precisely this. 1 think it was the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) who mentioned that the price of imported urea in the early 1960s was $120 per ton. That figure was high. It was too high for the Australian agricultural industry. The Government in its wisdom introduced a subsidy to assist the users of urea. That subsidy was $80 equivalent at that time, and still is. The Urea Bounty Bill now before the House provides for the payment of a bounty of $16 per ton to the manufacturer of urea. Some change has occurred around the world in production costs. This sort of thing can be expected. I would suggest that, in this field, throughput is a major item in relation to cost. In recent years, various countries have been dumping urea in Australia at very low prices. But it was not payable enough for them to dump it here until such time as a subsidy was introduced for the industry in Australia. In other words, I do not think that dumping ever occurs in a country unless protection is provided for the industry concerned in that country. If a country is open to the exports of the rest of the world at large, no such thing as dumping, as a rule, exists. Since the original bounty of $80 equivalent was introduced dumping has been happening here. Some discussion about it has occurred today. No doubt this will be considered by the Tariff Board in relation to what has happened since the introduction of the subsidy.
The amendment to the Urea Bounty Act in 1969 did certain things. I wish to explain this to the House as 1 read it. I wish to refer also to the report of the Auditor-General for 1969-70 in this respect. Perhaps this is quite a good document from which to quote to support my case. Some protection is provided for the user of urea in relation to the price within Australia as against the price which may be charged by overseas companies. In referring to the nitrogenous fertilisers subsidy, the Auditor-General states at page 62 of his report:
The Act was amended during the year to extend for a further 3 years from 1 November 1969, the period during which subsidy is payable. In addition the previous restrictions on the payment of subsidy on imported goods were relaxed to permit subsidy to be paid, under certain circumstances, on goods imported for purposes other than to meet a shortfall in local production.
Subject to the provisions of the Act, the subsidy is payable on nitrogenous fertilisers produced in Australia at registered premises and on similar goods imported to meet a shortfall or which can be purchased on more favourable terms than the locally-produced goods.
I think that is an important statement. It is taken from the Auditor-General’s report. That is the way he sees it; it is also the way I see it. If it is interpreted correctly, as I understand it should be interpreted, the Act provides that where a country can manufacture and export to Australia this type of fertiliser on a non-dump basis, the fertiliser produced wilt be allowed to compete with fertiliser produced by companies within Australia. That is my interpretation if I read the Act correctly and if I read the report of the Auditor-General correctly.
This in an important aspect of the whole operation of this subsidy. If companies can set up factories in this country on an economic basis using techniques equal to those employed in other parts of the world, and can compete with those techniques, that is reasonable enough. That provision is contained in the Act But I repeat that the Government introduced this subsidy to assist the industry - in this case, it was to assist the users because, at the time of introduction, there was no such industry here - because the overseas price of urea was extremely dear.
I wish to make some mention of quality. It will be seen that the 2 industries now manufacturing in Australia are on the eastern side of the continent, near enough to the east coast. If this fertiliser is to I imported into Western Australia, as it has been in recent years, I think that special considerations ought to be given to that aspect of the industry. At the moment under section 8 of the Act the bounty is not payable in respect of any urea unless the Comptroller-General is satisfied that it is of good and merchantable quality. As the Minister knows, in Western Australia we have had experience of the quality falling off. It is a little late after a farmer has made his purchase in good faith and has had that purchase delivered to his property, which may be some hundreds of miles from the port through which the fertiliser came in, to find that it is of extremely poor quality and cannot be put through a machine of any description. It would be a useful exercise to calculate what this would cost the primary producer. I suggest that this position be watched very carefully.
Under section 13 of the Act the Minister may take samples of urea to make sure that the quality is up to standard for the purpose of paying bounty. If Western Australia - and I am speaking for that State only at the moment - is to import urea from the eastern States, and if a subsidy of $16 a ton or some other figure in future is to be paid on it, and if other moneys such as the $80 equivalent on a bounty is to be paid, which is a significant amount of public money, it is fair enough that inspections be made of this commodity at the point of delivery if it is some 2,000 miles away from where the product is manufactured. A lot of things can happen between the point of manufacture and the point of delivery by the company. Although fertiliser may be inspected at one point and be quite satisfactory, it has a habit of changing through age, transport or certain other things, (f it is not being inspected at the point of delivery - and obviously it was not at the time to which I referred - the Minister should consider doing this. When a shipment is sent a long distance an inspection should be made at the point of delivery for the purposes of paying the bounty and also for the protection of the purchaser. 1 am not too sure exactly where the inspections are made at the moment but I would expect them to be made at the factory site. I put that suggestion quite earnestly because the inconvenience that is : caused to some people is tremendous. It is all right for a company to say that it refunded $10 a ton or something of that nature, but this amount is quite insignificant compared with the inconvenience caused. I believe we should make every effort to obtain the best price that we can in relation to inputs in primary industry. Primary industry is in real trouble; we all know that. We have to look at its problems very seriously. We cannot afford to allow the costs in the industry to continue to go up. It is not reasonable to expect prices in one section of the community to keep rising.
The bounties have been of advantage to the user of urea and other fertilisers. Despite what has been said, the bounties have been of tremendous assistance to the primary industries. To say that the bounties are not of advantage to primary industries is so much rot. The test, of course, would be to take the bounties off fertiliser to see what the reaction would be. Perhaps it is in the minds of some members of the Opposition, to judge by what has been said, to reduce the bounty. It has been said that only a small percentage of the bounty is reaching primary industry and that the rest of it is going to the manufacturers. Perhaps it is the intention of the Opposition, if it ever has the opportunity, to reduce the bounty. This would be the real test of whether it is of advantage to primary industry or not. The superphosphate bounty brings the price of fertiliser in Western Australia today below the 1.963 reduced bounty price. If we considered the amount of money that primary industry would have to pay if the bounty were reduced we would see that it is significant. Primary industry certainly could not afford to pay it. As I set out to say, the Tariff Board will be having a look at the bounty on urea. There are many factors it will have to look at. I believe that the present Urea Bounty Act, as I illustrated, allows other countries to export equivalent products to this country if it is in the interests of those who are purchasing the product. That is how I read it. If the Tariff Board looks at it in this light, obviously those companies manufacturing urea in this country will have to compete with factories overseas. I certainly hope that this policy is continued. I have no intention of mentioning the other Acts. I support this measure, which will give the Tariff Board some time to look at these products.
– It seems strange that the Opposition should find fault with these bounties by saying that they do not reach the primary producer or assist him to any great extent. The Opposition has no proof of this and leaves it as the old Scottish verdict says, ‘not proven’ and under suspicion about whether the primary producer gets it or not. This seems to me to be most unfair. Members of the Opposition have the chance to get any kind of research officer , to look into these propositions. In fact they boast about how they can speak on primary industry and all those things that assist or retard primary production. Therefore I put it. to this House that it is a fair proposition that, if the suspicion is well founded, facts should be revealed.
We think that the primary producer gets a great benefit from these bounties. It has been said in this House by one honourable member that the primary producer does not get a cheque for any amount of money. Take the $27m bounty for the dairying industry as an illustration. It has been said that the dairy farmer does not get a cheque for the bounty. But it is in every cheque that he gets from the factory. It builds up his income. Primary industries and particularly the dairy farmers would consider it an outrage if the $27m bounty were withdrawn. Of course the industry would soon be bankrupt. The dairy farmers certainly do not get a separate cheque for the bounty but the bounty appears in every cheque they get when they are being paid for their butterfat. The same thing happens with the bounty on these fertilisers. The primary producer gets the benefit.
If the Opposition considers this is not so it has the chance to look into these matters and have research done for it if it does not want to do it itself. Let honourable members opposite reveal in this House, if they can, that these bounties are corrupt and wrong. I would be the first one to urge an inquiry by the Opposition. As the Government is satisfied with what is being done, and as it is the instigator of many of these bounties, I do not believe it should make an inquiry. The Opposition says that the bounties are wrong, but it leaves the matter in a state of suspicion. Therefore I think what they have said today has not been helpful. If the Opposition has a case worthy of mention I hope that it will raise it in the House, having first researched it thoroughly. I trust that any case brought forward will be based not on suspicion but on fact.
– I will take only two or three minutes to reply to the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) who, like a magpie on a branch, waited until he heard the Opposition’s case and then swooped down from behind and attempted to misconstrue what we on this side have said about bounties. As I tried to point out to the honourable member a few moments ago, he would employ his time in this place better if he listened carefully to what other honourable members said instead of continually making remarks to me across the aisle that separates us. For about the fourth time in the last 24 hours I again refer to a document which the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) has said does not exist - the report of the Constitutional Review Committee. In its report the Committee took several pages to deal with the position of primary industries.
Honourable members on this side of the House have not advocated a reduction in the bounty but have advocated a more equitable distribution of the millions of dollars involved with a view to providing greater benefits for the man who works hardest in the industry and gets least from it. Honourable members opposite, particularly the sorrowful looking members of the Country Party, say a lot about costs in primary industry but do nothing to give the battler in the industry a go. Why do they continually and without justification criticise one sector of the industry? You do nothing to help the primary producer by increasing the price of petrol, as this Government has done. The primary producer is not helped in any way when the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd jacks up its prices.
– Order! The honourable member is now getting rather wide of the Bill.
– The matters that have been raised by honourable members will be considered by the Government in its general consideration of the Tariff Board’s reports. May I refer specifically to a point raised by the honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett) which directly affects the administration of my Department. Because of his representations I am aware that a shipment of urea which was sent to Western Australia was faulty in some respects. 1 understand that it was faulty because the ship in which it was transported was not entirely suitable. Particles of rust became mixed with the cargo thereby making it faulty. Bounty was paid on that urea for the very good reason that we did not receive complaints from any farmers. AsI understand the situation, the first complaint we received was a forceful one from the honourable member for Canning. If any product which attracts bounty is faulty my Department wants to hear from the people who use it.I can only urge the honourable member and all other honourable members to press farmers to report faulty products to my Department, when immediate remedial action will be taken. With a view to ensuring the arrival of products at their destination in good condition periodic and regular checks are made and samples taken at the works to ensure that goods leaving a factory are in good condition for sale.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Chipp) read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Chipp) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent (a) Orders of the Day Nos 2, 3, 4 and 5 for the resumption of the debate on the second reading of the Sulphate of Ammonia Bounty Bill 1970, the Sulphuric Acid Bounty Bill 1970, the Pyrites Bounty Bill 1970 and the Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Bill 1970 being called on and read together, (b) a motion being moved that the Bills be now passed, and (c) messages from the Governor-General recommending appropriations for the several Bills being then announced together.
Consideration resumed from 20 August (vide pages 301 and 302) on motions by Mr Hughes:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
Bills (on motion by Mr Chipp) passed.
Messages from the Governor-General recommending appropriations announced.
Sitting suspended from5.57 to 8 p.m.
Consideration resumed from 15 September (vide page 1152).
Department of External Affairs
Proposed expenditure $81,276,600.
– On 12th March this year during the AddressinReply debate 1 read to the House an urgent appeal from the Prime Minister of Laos, Prince Souvanna Phouma, for assistance to help repel the 50,000 North Vietnamese troops who had invaded his country. I went on to warn that Cambodia, which was by then already heavily infiltrated by the North Vietnamese, would be the next to be openly invaded. Six days after I made that speech - on 18th March - the Cambodian National Assembly met and voted to depose Sihanouk, in whom the Assembly had lost confidence, and replaced him with Cheng Heng as Head of State. Lon Nol, who had been Prime Minister of Cambodia since August 1969, retained that post and basically the government remained unchanged as far as personnel were concerned.
Five days after the Cambodian Government reshuffle, the Lon Nol Government began negotiations with the North Vietnamese to withdraw all of its troops from Cambodian territory. It was at this stage that the North Vietnamese openly invaded Cambodia, and today it is estimated that there are between 25,000 and 30,000 North Vietnamese troops engaged in the invasion of Cambodia. I said in this House on 12th March, and I repeat here tonight, that these invasions by the North Vietnamese of their neighbours are as naked and as brutal acts of aggression as anything Hitler ever did in Europe. Here, surely, was the opportunity for the socalled ‘peace and moratorium’ people to be up in arms in the cause of peace. Here, surely, was their chance, if they are sincere, to condemn aggression. But not a word of protest did we hear from the people who demonstrate so vehemently. Not a voice of concern was raised by the anti-war fanatics, the banner wavers, the deluded academics, or the misguided churchmen. Not a word of protest came from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) or from the Party he leads. On the contrary, the Australian public opened the newspapers on 14th July and read:
Sihanouk’s thanks to Labor leader. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Mr L. H. Barnard, has received a congratulatory telegram from the deposed Cambodian Head of State, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, in Peking- of all places. The newspaper article continued:
The telegram thanks Mr Barnard for his ‘just action’ and for the ‘noble and moving sympathy’ Mr Barnard said Prince Sihanouk seemed to be referring to a speech made by Mr Barnard in the House of Representatives on May 5 . . . In his speech Mr Barnard . . . criticised the Lon Nol regime and the Americans for widening the Indo-China war into Cambodia.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not have a word to say about the North Vietnamese Communists who had invaded Cambodia and opposed the duly elected Cambodian Government. In the Melbourne Age’ of the same date we read this:
Mr Barnard said he agreed wholeheartedly with the former President’s cable and urged the immediate withdrawal of all American troops from Cambodia.
But in attacking the Cambodian Government of Lon Nol and in encouraging the deposed Sihanouk, the Labor Party had overlooked the honesty and the sincerity of one of its members. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) was on the spot in Cambodia at that time and, having seen at first hand the true situation, he could not in all honesty remain silent. I pay tribute to him for his sincerity and courage. The honourable member for Wills had already warned the left wing Victorian ALP Conference, when that branch was advocating support for the overthrow of the Lon Nol Government, that the Lon Nol Government was a properly and legally constituted government. Following that he saw the situation for himself. On 16th July he sent a cable from Phnom Penh to the Victorian ALP secretary, Mr Hartley, and to other Federal Labor members. The cable read:
My statement to conference that change of government in Cambodia is legal confirmed by examination here. Lon Nol had been elected by National Assembly in August. Cheng Heng, now Head of State, has been elected chairman, National Assembly, defeating Sihanouk nominee. Government has hardly changed in personnel, only the position of Head of State being involved. Am reinforced in my belief that North Vietnam forces are committing angry aggression in Cambodia as blatant as Germans in Belgium in 1914 and 1940 and should be resisted. Suggest that you draw public attention to this fact by resolution and that steps be taken to guarantee the neutrality and sovereignty of Cambodia by United Nations action. Can think of no reason why Cambodians should not receive arms since SO per cent of the Cambodian Army has none.
How different was this approach, Mr Deputy Chairman, from that of the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party. Let us look at what pressures were brought to bear on the honourable member for Wills by the Labor Party and by the Victorian State Executive of the Labor Party. The headlines of the daily papers tell the story. We start off on 17th July with the headline:
Labor MHR urges ‘Arm Cambodians’.
The Melbourne ‘Herald’ on 23rd July reported:
Bryant will demand guns.
On 26th July the ‘Sunday Observer* in Melbourne headed an article:
Red tigers in Cambodia, by Gordon Bryant, MHR.
Then on 24th July the ‘Canberra Times* stated:
Mr Bryant Back. Duty to support Cambodia.
The following headlines are a little more subdued. On 28th July this heading appeared in the Melbourne ‘Herald’:
Why I think Cambodia needs help - says Mr Bryant. Honourable members will notice that under the pressure of the left wing of the Labor Party the story was being toned down a bit. The Melbourne ‘SunPictorial’ carried the headline:
Hell to’ to change policy on Cambodia.
Then on 26th July another newspaper stated:
Bryant prepares to explain statements.
The Melbourne ‘Age’ on 30th July reported: Bryant puts his case on Cambodia.
Finally, on 4th August this appeared in the Australian’:
MP changes view on Cambodia. 1 think this is a little unfair to the honourable member for Wills. As I said, 1 have great respect for his integrity. Although it appeared that perhaps he would go back on what he said because he was under pressure from the left wing of the Labor Party, in actual fact he has since reiterated his views. The next step in the drama came soon afterwards. The so-called Victorian Vietnam Moratorium Committee - that Committee which protests so loudly its belief in dissent and free expression - banned the honourable member for Wills from appearing or speaking on its platforms, lt was frightened of the truth which he might tell. Here, surely, by its own actions was the Vietnam Moratorium Committee condemned. Here, surely, was the proof by the organisers of the Moratorium that the only peace they want is the surrender of the whole of Indo-China to the North Vietnamese Communist invaders. To my knowledge only one member of the Opposition, the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen), for whom 1 have a great deal of respect, bothered to dissociate himself from the action of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee in banning the honourable member for Wills. On the other hand, that great believer in the right to disagree, the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) - a close colleague, one would have thought, of the honourable member for Wills - actually upheld the Vietnam Moratorium Committee’s right to bar the honourable member for Wills from addressing any Moratorium Committee meeting. It is interesting to read what the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ had to say on 4th September on this matter:
The barring of Mr Bryant has produced an issue of conscience for the ALP which has declared formal support for the Moratorium
Campaign starting on September 16th and continuing until September 20th. In previous Moratorium campaigns, the Communist Party provided much of the dynamic and some of the organisation.
It goes on:
Mr Bryant’s consistency in opposing aggression whatever its source could prejudice the success of the coming campaign and underline the guiding influence exercised by the Communist Party.
In a letter to the Secretary of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee the honourable member for Wills said this:
Dear Mr Lloyd,
I have received your letter setting out the resolution which was to ensure that I did not address meetings sponsored by the executive.
I assume from that the Moratorium Committee supports the North Vietnamese military operations against Cambodia.
And how right he was. On the same day the Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon) announced that Australia had offered to Cambodia $2m in 1970-71, a lift of $900,000 on the present $1.im that we already give. The Minister told this House:
The aid will be for logistic support items of equipment, dual purpose items and if necessary, arms.
Previously the Australian Government had refused to supply arms so as not to complicate the Djakarta peace initiatives in which Australia participated with Indonesia and other neutral Asian countries. Australia was naturally anxious to avoid the charge of supplying equipment before all peace moves were thoroughly tried. But as we have learned only too well at the Paris peace talks the North Vietnamese Communists are interested only in total surrender, and if the Moratorium Committee has its way and Australia and American troops are withdrawn prematurely then that is exactly what the North Vietnamese will achieve.
There may well be some woolly-minded people sucked in by the hard core left of the Moratorium. During their first Moratorium campaign in May the Communists concealed their presence on that Committee fairly well but this time they have become rather careless. They even planned to bring out to Australia the Vietcong and North Vietnamese spokesmen, people who are engaged in killing Australian servicemen, to spread their evil propaganda in this country. That was bad enough, but as a returned serviceman and a member of the Returned Services League I was particularly revolted to read in the Press last week a report that the Vietnam Moratorium Committee intends to use the traditional red poppy of Anzac on a macabre coffin draped with a North Vietnamese and a Vietcong flag in the march in Melbourne on 18th September.
– Their leader did stand under a Vietcong flag.
– That is quite true, their leader did stand under a Vietcong flag, and right outside this very Parliament. In the coffin will be the names of Australian soldiers killed by the Vietcong. Is there no limit to the depths to which these people will sink? Is it any wonder that the South Australian branch of the Australian Labor Party has withdrawn its support from the Moratorium and the Queensland branch of the ALP is giving only grudging support. But the Leader of the Opposition and the Federal parliamentary body of the Labor Party are strangely silent. We have heard a lot about hijacking recently and I say that this attempt to take the law of the land out of the hands of Parliament and into the hands of the mobs in the streets is the greatest hijacking of all; it is the hijacking of democracy. A premature withdrawal of Australian and American troops would only result in a North Vietnamese takeover of Indo-China. Next on the list would be Thailand and a withdrawal would not, as the organisers of this Moratorium claim, stop the killing.
As Dennis Warner pointed out in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ in November last there are, according to the captured Deputy Chief of Staff of the North Vietnamese Fifth Division, 3 million South Vietnamese on the North Vietnamese liquidation list. I say to members of the Opposition: ‘If you succeed with the withdrawal of Australian and American troops you will not stop the killing. You will kill these 3 million South Vietnamese people as surely as if you murdered them with your own guns.’ There is no doubt that knowingly or not the people who support the Moratorium are doing the work of Hanoi in what the honourable member for Wills has described as ‘aggression as blatant as the Germans committed in Belgium in 1914 and 1940.’ I defy honourable members opposite to deny that he said that and I defy them to disagree with him. Let us hope that in the interests of the people of Cambodia, Laos and South Vietnam and, in the final analysis, Australia the Moratorium people are not successful in their aims.
– The honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) who has just spoken has done his best to convince us that the action of the people who have launched the Moratorium or who have taken part in it is designed to kill and murder and prolong the war in Vietnam, that we are a party to’ the whole thing and that we are therefore more to be condemned than the Government which has sent troops there to a war which is not of Australia’s making or doncern and into which Australia was not dragged. The Government which we support in Saigon has had 8 coups d’etat since November 1963. It has also had one election.
– That is rot. It has had 4.
– It had one election to which I am going to refer. After it that Government said: ‘Democracy and democratic parliamentary government are now established in South Vietnam’. Objections were raised to the conduct of and irregularities in this election and a committee was set up to investigate it. It reported that the election should be declared invalid and another election held.
– Tell us about the elections in North Vietnam.
– I am not supporting the North Vietnamese and I am not sending troops over there to fight for them. I am not sending aeroplanes over there to bomb people. You are the people who are sending arms and killing people by the millions in support of a government which I am discussing. I am not backing up any Communist government. I do not want totalitarian government here or in Vietnam but I do not think it is our place to decide what kind of totalitarianism the Vietnamese have. It is their place to decide and if they cannot decide under a parliamentary system it is not our place to see that they decide it by force of arms, which is what we have done. For the information of honourable members opposite I point out that 40 United States senators have come out and declared themselves in opposition to the involvement of their country in the war. So it is not just Australian parliamentarians who find that this is an obnoxious and inhuman sort of thing to be indulging in.
– There are the same types in every country.
– And long live democracy as long as we can have this sort of dissent from the sort of thing that is going on. A retired Lieutenant General, James M. Gavin of the United States, who lives now in Massachusetts published in the Saturday Evening Post’ the following statement which I have confirmed with him personally in a letter over his signature:
Top Pentagon leaders’ wanted to invade North Vietnam after Dienbienphu fell, but instead decided to back a ‘new South Vietnamese government’ . . .
– Who said that?
– This is LieutenantGeneral James M. Gavin, retired.
– No wonder.
– He is not too retired to send me a clear and accurate account of this. What is more, he said that this new South Vietnamese government would be in violation of the Geneva Agreement. He said further:
This decision was made because President Eisenhower vetoed the Joint Chiefs of Staff plan to invade the Haiphong and Hanoi area after the French defeat.
This veto in turn was because of former Army Chief of Staff Matthew Ridgway’s strong opposition to invasion. As the situation worsened at Dien Bien Phu, the French in desperation, asked us (the. US) for carrier strikes to relieve the enclosed garrison.
The whole approach to this involvement has been a military one, an economic one - not one of defending democracy or human principle. These are the trappings in which it is dressed up. These arc not the facts one finds when one goes to Vietnam. I have placed on the notice paper a lot of questions about this matter, asking the Government why we are there and what the evidence is to support the specious reasons the Government gives.
I drew attention to a report in the Melbourne Truth’ of 16th March which contained descriptions of tortures of alleged
Vietcong captives by allied troops in the presence of the Australian captors. I asked the then Minister for External Affairs whether he considered that the Australian authorities should take steps to prove or disprove the apparent drift of Australians into the attitude of indifference that most Germans took towards Nazi concentration camp atrocities, because these tortures took place in the presence of the Australian captors. The reply of the then Minister was:
The Government does not accept the implication that there is an apparent drift of Australians to attitudes of indifference to matters of this kind.
In other words, he sidestepped the perfectly legitimate and humane question that I put to him: Will the Australian authorities take steps to prove or disprove this apparent drift? The Minister was not interested. I asked the then Minister for External Affairs:
Which of the following practices or conditions have been reliably reported to him as occurring under (a) Communist, and (b) anti-Communist Vietnamese authorities:
imprisoning those who propose political co-operation with military opponents:
arrest without prompt public trial; (Hi) summary execution for indictable offences;
restricted adult franchise;
legal protection for exorbitant rentiers;
civil service corruption;
censorship of -
dissent from established authority, and
statistics of military losses:
legal immunity for -
patrons and employers of prostitutes,
drug pedlars, and
financial barriers to basic education for alt children; and
any other practices or conditions which would indicate shortcomings in a democratic society.
Which of the above practices or conditions have been mentioned, and in what terms, in communications from Australia to other nations? 1 was asking for evidence of democracy. I do not accept the word ‘democracy’ at its face value just because some friendly government says it. Just because a government is against Communism does not mean that it knows what democracy is.
– Ask the honourable member for Wills.
– The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) will speak in this debate and he is perfectly competent to speak for himself on this subject
– Ask him about Cambodia.
– I have asked him, and the honourable member will have his chance to ask him. The then Minister for External Affairs said that the Government of South Vietnam was in essential respects democratic. He did not refer to one of the points 1 mentioned in my question. He said there was legal provision for various democratic freedoms. These are so interpreted in practice as to result in democracy there. But in North Vietnam they are so interpreted as to result in the negation of democracy. I am not discussing the democracy of a Communist Government. I do not want a Communist Government. I would not accept it as a democratic government. That is the sort of story the Government is trying to force down my throat because it does not want to listen to the facts. It refuses to listen to the criteria of democracy.
The Minister said that some real progress had been made towards the establishment of a democratic society in South Vietnam and that under the constitution in South Vietnam individuals have the right to a prompt and public trial. Has the Minister never heard of the tiger cages? To give him his due, he had not heard of them at that stage, but he was not interested in finding out. He said:
Reports indicate that these provisions are respected.
He made no reference to whose reports they were and no reference to how he got hold of them or what steps he was taking to confirm them. He claims and deplores that in North Vietnam those deprived of the rights of citizenship cannot vote. Is that not exactly what happens here? He said that prostitution is prohibited and that fines and imprisonment of up to 1 year can be imposed. He said nothing about the people promoting prostitution, as I asked him. They put the prostitutes in gaol thinking that will solve the problem. I have not the time to go into the nonsense that comprises the answer to the rest of that question No. 1 149 and to my rational, sane request for a rational, sane description of how a democracy works, how one asseses it and how one finds out whether it is more democratic or less democratic than a Communist regime.
I asked the Minister, in question No. 1081:
Will he take steps to establish by due process beyond doubt to uncommitted persons that Australia is not a party to illegal methods of warfare?
The Minister gave a long answer to some of the other parts of my question. In reply to the question whether the due process of proving that we are not breaking international law is by way of appeal to an independent tribunal or authority to establish that we are doing the right thing, his one sentence was:
It is already widely known that Australia is not a party to illegal methods of warfare.
That was his answer. That is supposed to be an answer for a democratic Parliament and the forum of this land to enable it to find out whether we are committing war crimes.
I also asked the Minister:
Have any approaches been made to the Commonwealth Government by persons in . . . Thailand, South Vietnam … or in Communist countries for . . . military or other help in defence of their democratic rights?
One would think after all the statements we have had justifying the sending of troops over there that the Minister would have said yes. Is there anyone on the other side of the chamber who would have thought for a moment that the Minister would have said no to that question? His full answer was:
The Government has no record of approaches in recent years in these terms.
So much for the concern of the Minister for External Affairs about a legitimate question as to why we are spending $ 1,800m on this wasted and useless war which is turning people into corpses and Communists. I asked the Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon) in question No. 787:
Is the Government’s professed military aim in Vietnam to foster democratic processes?
Part of his answer was:
The Government has also made clear that it would not be appropriate for it to comment on the internal affairs and processes of a friendly government
That is the sort of democracy we are fighting for. It is not appropriate for us to prod and pry into how they run their affairs. That is an internal matter, as South Africa’s apartheid policy and Rhodesia’s policies are internal matters. In the ‘Congressional Record’ of 31st January 1966 Mr Aiken said:
I well recall General Ridgway telling me after a hearing one day that if we sent 2 million men into the Vietnam area, they would be swallowed up.
They have sent half a million-
Now conditions are different from those in Korea, where we had relatively nearby bases and short supply lines.
I will not go into that. It shows that at least some of the people over there knew that they were going into a morass. In the Congressional Record-Senate’ of 21st February 1966 Mr Monroney said:
Between that time and the fall of Dien Bien Phu in May of 1954, our $2.6 billion worth of military and economic aid to the French in Vietnam paid for 80 .per cent of the cost of the war against the Vietminh. We were already quite heavily committed in the Truman administration; the help we gave them soared higher as we drew closer to French collapse; but to his credit, there was a reluctance by President Eisenhower to make the massive effort some would have liked for him to have made then. In ‘Mandate for Change’ General Eisenhower has written of this period, when the people supported the Vietminh in their fight against the French and saw Ho Chi Minh as their hope for independence:
The enemy bad much popular sympathy, and many civilians aided them by providing both shelter and information. The French and the Bao Dai regime could not draw support from the people, and they could not induce the regular Vietnamese soldiers to fight with any heart on their side.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– 1 do not want to follow the bumbling and stumbling contribution of the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham), but he has questioned various things and I will just reply shortly to them. He has questioned the conduct of elections in South Vietnam. There have been elections there. It is perfectly true that they have not been conducted completely in the way people would like them conducted. Why have they not? One reason is that the Vietcong made an all-out effort to do everything they could to sabotage those elections. By murder, torture and various other means as far as they could they prevented people from going to the polls. Of course, they could not succeed entirely and the elections were held. But is it not extraordinary that we hear so much about whether South Vietnam is a democracy but nothing about whether North Vietnam is a democracy. We do not hear anyone ask who is the Leader of the Opposition in North Vietnam. In South Vietnam we know quite well there was one person from the Assembly who was gaoled for sedition. He had the right of appeal, went to the court, won the appeal and got out of prison. Does this happen in North Vietnam? Of course it does not. The extraordinary thing about the honourable member for Capricornia was that he said it is not our place to decide whether they have a democracy or a dictatorship there. He said he does not himself want to see a dictatorship but, you know, we just wash our hands. If anyone wants to spread dictatorship it is not for us to intervene. What a ludicrous situation this would be.
It is really futile to say that if a free nation is being attacked by an aggressor we just wash our hands of it and say it is up to them to decide what they like. How childish can you get? We heard him say that the population supported the Vietminh against the French. This I believe was so in the early days. There was no doubt whatsoever that the French were a colonial power and the locals wanted national independence. One cannot blame them for this. When some local organisation which offered independence came undoubtedly many people who were not Communists supported this uprising against the French. But they were not supporters of the Vietminh at all. When South Vietnam became self governing most of these people went to the self government of South Vietnam. One only has to look now. There is no local support, or very little, for the North Vietnamese, Vietminh and Vietcong in South Vietnam. I do not want to waste my time in following a speech which I honestly believe is one of the worst I have beard in this place and I have been here for nearly 21 years. Let me reply to some of the allegations made in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam).
This speech was notable both for what it said and for what it did not say. What it did not say was the attitude of the Australian Labor Party to the increasing Russian presence in the Indian Ocean. No wonder the Leader of the Opposition did not say anything about this because he has many people behind him and I think everyone behind him has a different attitude to the Russians. Of course, for the Leader of the Opposition to say what the Australian Labor Party’s attitude was would immediately place him in strife. So he kept completely clear of that. What he did say was inaccurate, misleading and distorted. He dealt basically with 4 problems in Asia. He dealt with the problem in Vietnam, the question of Indonesia, the problem of Cambodia and he also dealt with Japan. On Vietnam, one would not have expected his recent globe trotting experience to have altered his stance at all because he believes his present stance is a vote winning stance, lt is an extraordinary thing that when certain people go overseas they go with preconceived ideas. They know what they will see and they can always come back and say they have seen it. That is about what we have heard from the Leader of the Opposition, lt is extraordinary to hear him still saying that the Government’s policy on Vietnam is in ruins and that the war has been a failure because today China is no weaker and the United States is no stronger because of the intervention in Vietnam.
This statement shows a complete lack of understanding of everything that has happened in Vietnam in the last 5 years. Australia did not go to Vietnam to weaken China or to strengthen the United States. It went to help prevent a small independent nation from being overrun by an aggressor because we believe in the right of peoples freely to choose their governments, free from external pressures. The Americans, thank God, went there for the same reason. This policy has been remarkably effective although it has been of considerable cost to the United States and to us. There has not been a period during the last decade in which the position in Vietnam has been better than it is today. They have a stable government, an improving economy and large security forces. The Vietcong and the North Veitnamese infiltration is low. The latter have not won a battle since Tet. More and more the defences of South Vietnam are being taken over by the local inhabitants as their strength increases. So we have been completely justified in doing what we did in Vietnam. Yet the Leader of the Opposition claims that ‘all rational justifications or explanations of Australia’s present Viet policy have been abandoned’. Does he forget that twice the Australian people have supported our actions when they have been asked at the polls to vote on them? What would a Labor Government have done in these circumstances? I do not doubt that it would have given no help and seen a people go under to be slaughtered, as at Hue. We know the political cadres went in and slaughtered 6,500 people in 2 weeks in that ancient city.
Only one thing stands between the South Vietnamese and eventual victory and that is the resolution of the people of the United States and, to a lesser extent of course, the resolution of ourselves. That is why we are being bombarded by constant Communist propaganda, by peace movements, by moratoriums, by left wing writers and by Labor Party politicians. The Communists know they cannot win in the field. They hope they can beat us on the home front. I repeat what I said. There is only one thing that can lose the war for us. It will not be lost on the battlefield but by a lack of resolution at home. That is why the Communists, fellow travellers and left wing intellectuals are mounting an allout offensive to try to capture the minds of the free world. Unfortunately many people fall for it. We are about to see mounted again in this country, for example, a socalled Vietnam Moratorium Campaign to try to force a disorderly withdrawal by Australia. The initial effect of this campaign must be to give encouragement to the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong. They remember well how the resolution of the French failed in the wake of mounting costs and casualty lists. However they have been persuading themselves that the same will happen to the Americans and to us. Every demonstration in any part of the world must buoy up their expectations and make it easier to forget their enormous losses in the hope of eventual victory. Every nation in the South East Asian area is aware of this. That is why, at a recent Asian Parliamentarians’ Union meeting in Taipei, which I attended as an observer for Australia, they passed the following resolution:
The Council reaffirmed that the responsibility to maintain peace and security in this crucial area rests on all free nations in the Asian and Pacific region and strongly recommended that any proposed reduction of United States or United Nations defence forces be so planned and executed as not to impair regional or national defence capabilities of free Asia and such steps be taken only with prior consultation with the governments concerned.
Yet the Labor Party says that we should leave South Vietnam tomorrow. Who is right? Members of the Labor Party living thousands of miles from the scene of aggression or those nations on the periphery like Korea, South Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines and Indonesia who passed that resolution.
I have pointed out previously that there is an easy way of determining the Labor Party’s foreign policy. Ask yourselves what the Communists would like us to do. Do they want the United States to stop bombing North Vietnam? If that is what they want then that becomes Labor Party policy. Do they want troops withdrawn? Again, of course, that becomes Labor Party policy. Do they want Prince Sihanouk back on the Cambodian throne? Do they want a nuclear free southern hemisphere? Yes, if the Communists want these things, they become Labor Party policy. Do they want the abolition of national service? Once again that becomes Labor Party policy.
– It is impossible to find any point of difference.
– Yes, it is impossible to find any point of difference. I now want to refer quickly to the following statement by the Leader of the Opposition: ti would be difficult to find a parallel for a government which has shown as little interest in, and sense of involvement with, its nearest neighbours as this Government has towards Indonesia.
Like most of the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition this pronouncement is quite unfounded and quite untrue. I want to cite some of the facts. Firstly, Australia was one of the first countries to open a mission in Indonesia and one of the first missions set up by Indonesia was in Canberra. During confrontation, under Sukarno, we managed to maintain reasonably normal relations with Indonesia. We did not cut off our aid and Sukarno did not tell us to go to hell with it as he did the Americans and most of the Western powers. While I am talking of aid I should mention that Indonesia gets a higher amount of our external aid than any other nation excluding, of course, Papua and New Guinea. Unlike most nations, this assistance by Australia is in the form of a grant which does not have to be repaid with interest at a later date; nor does it have to be used exclusively for the purchase of Australian produced goods. Recently the Australian Government announced that Australia is making a commitment of $US60m over 3 years for aid to Indonesia. In addition, Australia has also agreed to contribute $A10m over 3 years to the Special Funds of the Asian Development Bank. So much for aid.
Trade is increasing enormously. Many Australian firms are now setting up in Indonesia. More are trying to set up in that country but the Indonesians are hesitant to have too much overseas investment and this is delaying some of the opportunities which will be taken by Australia, I hope, to set up in Indonesia and assist the Indonesians to develop their country. We were one of the first to applaud the initiative of Indonesia in calling the conference on the neutrality of Cambodia.
My time is running out but I want to say that I was interested that the Leader of the Opposition tried to put words into the mouth of the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). Personally I think the honourable member for Wills can speak for himself. He has always done so in the past and I hope he will continue to do so in the future. As I understand his views, he believes that the North Vietnamese are the aggressors in Cambodia and that the Cambodians should be assisted in resisting that aggression. The honourable member for Wills is not the only member of the Labor Party who believes that the North Vietnamese are guilty of aggression. I ask honourable members to listen to the words in this letter which was signed at Vientiane in Laos on 5th July. I have time to read only 2 extracts from it. The letter was signed by 3 members of the Australian Labor Party. They said:
We have been profoundly moved by the abundant evidence of your courage and determination to pursue a course seeking only the right to live at peace and in neutrality. We deeply deplore the open and evident aggression being committed against you by your more powerful neighbour. North Vietnam.
That letter was signed by the honourable member for Wills, the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) and a Labor Senator from South Australia, Senator Bishop, because they believed that aggression was taking place. What I have said must make it obvious that it would be tragic for this country to be governed by the Australian Labor Party.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
- Mr Chairman, I wish that Communist strategy was as simple as the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) believes it to be. When Pierre Mendes-France gave independence to Morocco and Tunis the Communists in the French Chamber of Deputies, although they ostensibly stood for the independence of Algeria, voted immediately with the ultra right to overturn the MendesFrance Government. They ostensibly believed in the independence of Algeria but what, they wanted was a continuing war in which France would be bled white and a revolutionary situation would be developed in Paris. Ho Chi Minh, at the stage when he was fighting the French, did not want an end to the war because he was not thinking only of the situation in Indo China - he wanted to produce a revolutionary situation in Paris.
Now, there is not the slightest doubt that the North Vietnamese could get the Americans to withdraw in no time by coming to agreements at the table in Paris. They do not enter into those agreements because they lose nothing for the world Communist cause by the presence of United States troops in Vietnam. The presence of American troops there has separated the United States from most of the peoples of Europe and from most of the youth of Europe and it is dividing the United States from within.
The Communists are engaged in strategies which are directed at the minds of men. If we think that we are analysing this situation in the world by the endless parroting of Yah Labour’, ‘Yah Liberal’, ‘Yah Labour’, Yah, Liberal’ across this chamber, then we are very deluded. I ask honourable members, very seriously, to think of Vietnam at the time of the overthrow of Diem in 1963. Is the situation better or worse? Then there was a stable South Vietnamese Government with no more than 300 or 400 American advisers. One of the things the Government has to start asking itself is not whether a foreign policy is antiCommunist but whether it is effective. If all the Government asks of a foreign policy is that it be anti-Communist then I would point out that Hitler had an anti-Communist foreign policy and it spread Communism all over Eastern Europe.
This is not the kind of approach to make to this question because there is such a consideration as the minds of men. We have participated in wars in which people of the locality, the Egyptians, the Malayans or whoever they were, were spectators. But people no longer are spectators - their minds are the battlefield. Does the Government honestly think that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics regrets the presence of American troops in Vietnam? Does it honestly think that the Chinese Government regrets the presence of American troops in Vietnam? If the Government believes this, then its evaluation of the situation is far too simple. The Chinese have not the slightest regret at the presence of American troops in Vietnam any more than the Communists in the French Chamber of Deputies had any regret when they voted with the ultra-right to overturn Mendes-France so that he would not give independence to Algeria. They have a vested interest in disaster. What the Government has produced in South East Asia is extended disaster; so please spare us this denunciation of Sihanouk. I have sat here and heard former Prime Minister Holt speak in the highest praise of Prince Sihanouk. We had an ambassador in Cambodia, Noel Deschamps, who was practically Sihanouk’s alter ego. He was a close friend of Sihanouk. If honourable members opposite are satisfied with what has been produced in Cambodia and can simply talk about the situation there in terms of Communists and anti-Communists, I think it is a tragically deficient analysis. The Government under Sihanouk stood on a tight rope. Khmer hatred of the Vietnamese produced before there was an extension of the war, the slaughter of Vietnamese whose bodies we saw on our television screens floating down the rivers. That began the whole process of the undermining of the stability of the Cambodian Government.
We talk a very great deal about dominoes. It was the United States which dominoed Diem in a thoroughly mistaken policy. Whoever dominoed Sihanouk made the same kind of mistake. I believe that the fundamental mistake of the United States in Vietnam was to analyse the situation there as a major confrontation. It is not. The Middle East is a far more important area of confrontation between the East and the West. The presence of American troops in Vietnam in that world confrontation with Communism is largely an irrelevance. It is not disturbing China in the slightest; it is not disturbing Russia in the slightest. There is, of course, a very marked division between the foreign policy of the Soviet Union and the foreign policy of China. It seems to me that in every world situation Chinese policy is to support the Mau Mau type of activity, the anarchist type of activity, the National Liberation Front type of activity - the sort of thing that the Arab guerillas are engaging in. The Soviet Union now, as a very great power following in every respect and in every detail the foreign policies of the Czars, deals with the respectable nationalist governments - the Nassers and others - and hopes to spread its power.
The honourable member for Farrer has asked: What do we think about the Soviet expansion of power in the Indian Ocean? What can the Government do about it? It is not much use standing here talking about the spread of Soviet power in the Indian Ocean. This is the Government of the country; can it prevent this action? I do not know what expansion of Soviet power has taken place in the Indian Ocean, except that country has submarines and warships in this area periodically. I do not believe that any Indian Ocean country has given the Soviet Union bases or any permanent position such as that. I doubt whether Russia is as effective in the Indian Ocean as it would be if it could get the Suez Canal opened.
But leaving all that aside, it seems to me that a lot of this talk is empty rhetoric. What difference is Australian foreign policy making? I agree that there are tremendous slaughters in Vietnam. I am not an apologist for the North Vietnamese Government but I say that there will be no end to the war in Vietnam without a policy of invading Vietnam and overthrowing its Government. So long as the North Vietnam Government is there as an intact institution it can intervene at any time. The invasion of North Vietnam may very well demand the price of a world war, in which case no intelligent person would believe it was a price worth paying. But if that price is not paid and if the countries involved in South Vietnam are not prepared to take that risk the North Vietnamese from an immune base can invade South Vietnam to continue their policy of unifying the area under their control at any time they like. That is why United States policy is not leading to an end of the situation.
There are tacit agreements. We always dismiss the Chinese as liars. But it is very unwise to do this. The Chinese are critics of the whole of the West, including Russia, and it may well be that from them there are sometimes utterances of truth. China constantly accuses the United States and Soviet Russia of being collaborators in certain respects in this whole situation. There is no doubt of one thing, for instance. There is a tacit agreement between the United States and Russia that if the United States does not blockade the port of Haiphong the Soviet Union will not provide certain weapons to the North Vietnamese. What we have in North Vietnam with no blockade of the port of Haiphong and with a constant flow of arms to North Vietnam is a formula for permanent war.
It is not much use talking about Moratoriums and so on. I think there are a great many insincere people in the Moratorium movement. Those people in the movement who genuinely want peace would not advance the Communist cause; those people in it who do not want an end to the Vietnam war because they believe the continuance of the Vietnam war furthers the revolutionary strategies around the world are Communists. That is a Communist strategy and it is very often supported by the forces of the extreme right. Let us face it: This is brought out in the former thinking of the Government of this country. I remember Sir Robert Menzies as Prime Minister standing in this place and talking about the French attempt to reestablish their authority in Indo-China. I remember him saying that not to stand for white supremacy was the very ecstacy of suicide. It was the policy of this Governmen to support the French effort to reestablish their authority in Indo-China. No intelligent Communist anywhere on the face of the earth would regret the foreign policy of the Australian Government at that time because it put the nationalist movement of that country behind Ho Chi Minh.
Honourable members should take a look at some of the oscillations in United States foreign policy in this area. Immediately after the Second World War the United Slates entered an anti-colonialist phase. That country was opposed to the reestablishment of French authority in IndoChina. As a consequence the Japanese surrendered to Ho Chi Minh who received all the Japanese arms. The United States foreign policy then went through a somersault and that country decided that Ho was a dangerous Red. The United States supported the French attempt to re-establish their authority after Ho Chi Minh was armed with Japanese amis. The French attempt went on for 10 years until it finished at Dienbienphu. Then we had the division between the north and south of Vietnam. I hope I am not being unjust to a former United States Ambassador but it seems to me to be highly significant that so long as Maxwell Taylor was Ambassador to Vietnam the Vietnamese tried to murder him. When Lodge became the Ambassador the Vietnamese did not try to murder him at all because they recognised an asset when they saw one. His policy towards Diem I think was worth battalions and battalions to the Vietcong.
It is about time we stopped just talking in terms of what someone is doing in a Moratorium or what someone said and tried to look at what determines the changes in the minds of men. There are unquestionably horrible slaughters perpetrated by the Vietcong and sometimes I think by their opponents. I do not think it is the purpose of the Vietcong to go round slaughtering people. This is what used to be said about the Bolsheviks in 1917. It was not the aim of the Comumnists just to kill everybody. They wanted to take power and set up the apparatus of the state and govern it. They are particularly concerned about that. Of course, in their attempt to unify Indo-China the Vietcong in their war have carried out all sorts of atrocities as most countries at war do. But I am afraid there are certain truths we have to look at. We have to ask: Is our policy effective in turning the minds of men? I am not going to say that military policy cannot do this; it very often can. lt is not just a question of propaganda or ideology. It can very definitely be done by military policy, lt was Clausewitz who said: ‘The aim of war is to change the will of the enemy, government and people’.
I believe that 1 would have to be extremely poor at assessing the world situation if I were not to acknowledge that the Vietcong are far more effective at changing the will of the United States of America than the United States of America is at changing the will of the North Vietnamese to resist. Let us look at 2 situations to illustrate this. We can look at the horrible truth - Czechoslovakia. A wrong action which is carried through swiftly and effectively causes less hostility in the world than a right action which is drawn out bloodily, expensively and destructively. The purposes of the-
– What about telling that to the people who have to go on living in Czechoslovakia?
– I am speaking of world opinion. The purposes of the United States in Vietnam, I believe, are beyond reproach; but. in 8 years or 9 years of war, they are becoming ragged. The purposes of the Soviet Union in Czechoslovakia were evil and anti-freedom; but its action was carried through swiftly and effectively, and the minds of men have forgotten it. In this battle for the minds of men, which is the essential thing, we need to look at the realities of Communist policy. They are not the superficialities that have been discussed in this debate.
– The end justifies the means.
– Oh, roti
- Mr Deputy Chairman, I wish to direct my remarks on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1970-71 to external aid. I am pleased to see that the Government will provide over $200m this financial year for overseas aid. However, the total increase in bilateral aid for the current year amounts to only $4,836,000, providing a total of $45,198,000 for the year 1970-71. This amount is not realistic in relation to the need of these countries and Australia’s wealth and prosperity. Such an increase does little more than fly the flag in many countries and, when one considers the poverty and privation of our Asian neighbours, our contribution is certainly not a sacrificial one.
Today, our greatest challenge is to close the widening gap between the rich and the poor countries of the world. To probe outer space, whilst there is so much to be done on Earth, is meaningless. It has no beginning and it has no end - and this is the way it always will be. The sooner we get our priorities more into focus, the sooner peace and understanding will be ours. In order to tackle these great human problems, we need to stimulate a far greater interest amongst the Australian people. If we are to achieve anything, we need to do more than talk about these matters. It is really a matter of selfcommitment and action at our own level that is so desperately needed.
Voluntary agencies throughout the world are raising approximately $ 1,000m per annum in overseas aid. In the United States of America, $800m is raised and only $200m in the rest of the world. The 20 or so voluntary agencies in Australia are raising approximately $Sm in overseas aid. The reason we do not do more is that we lack the right leadership. Today, more than at any other time, we need pioneers in the field of overseas aid. The average Australian is fairminded and generous and is prepared to assist those in need providing the right motive can be given. It is here where we need leaders who can work as pioneers in the field of overseas aid. I say pioneers’ because the surface has hardly been scratched at the present time.
Because of the complex problems confronting most of the Asian countries, a British presence in Asia until the turn of the century is of major importance. After almost 200 years of rule in the Pacific area, Britain has taken the easy way out by saying: ‘I am going home after 1971’. I am pleased - and I know many countries must be - that there has been a change of government in Britain and that this policy has been reversed. Britain still has big responsibilities in these areas and should not be running away from them. Many of her former colonies and dominions have strongly supported Britain over the years. I refer particularly to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaya, Nepal and many others. All these countries have strongly urged Britain to remain in the area and her withdrawal, if there is to be one, should be of a minor nature only, and certainly not before these countries are able to handle their own affairs more effectively. Britain’s timing to withdraw east of Suez could never have been chosen at a worse time with the problems of hunger, over-population and illiteracy with which many of her former colonies are confronted. I fully endorse the remarks of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon) when he stated in a speech in the autumn session of this Parliament that it would be a major misfortune for the region if British influence was withdrawn. Never before in times of peace has there been such need for a strong British presence in Asia, as Britain’s tact and diplomacy in handling the troubled situation which occurs from time to time is urgently needed today. Most of the trouble spots we have in the world today - the Middle East, Africa and Asia - have only risen because British tact and diplomacy is no longer there. Her influence is missing now from many Asian countries with the result that no major power has been able to fill the vacuum so created by her withdrawal.
On humanitarian grounds alone, Australia must do far more to assist our Asian neighbours. I am of the opinion that economic aid, effectively used on developmental programmes, is the best way to win friends and influence people. In these countries, a great show of force can never permanently ensure lasting peace. It can only be a short term measure. I often wonder what we fought for in the last war. The millions of lives lost and the countless billions spent on defence have left the world, some 25 years later, more divided and out of balance than at any time this century. Over the years, too great an emphasis has been placed on defence - and it just has not worked out. Our problems today are much the same as they always have been. They are human problems and countless billions spent on defence have not provided any lasting solution, and they never will. This brings me to the point that, if the same effort that has been channelled into defence over the past 50 years had been channelled into economic assistance, many of the great human tragedies that confront us today would not exist. For these reasons, I am anxious to see far greater government assistance in the field of economic aid, yes, even if it has to come from the defence allocation. However, it is necessary if the Government is to play a more effective role in this regard, that the people also must play their part and make great sacrifices, as no Government can be expected to go it alone.
On humanitarian and moral grounds all of the affluent countries have accepted that we have an obligation to assist the less developed countries and that our responsibility does not end at national frontiers. However, whilst the affluent countries have accepted the fact that we have obligations to assist the less developed countries, the assistance being given today is only a trickle of our actual wealth. It is out of all proportion to what we have. To illustrate what I mean, last year we channelled less than $1.0m in economic aid to India. This $1Om appears to be a reasonable sum of money - and so it is - but to bring it into its right perspective we have to divide $10rr into more than 500 million people, and it works out to about 20c per head of population. I ask: What could a person buy with that? It would buy approximately 2 pints of milk per head of population each year. If we divided our total aid programme into the population of Asia, the receipient countries would be receiving far less per capita. That is what I mean when I say our aid, both Government and private, is out of all proportion to what we have.
There is very little sacrificial giving in this country both in the private sector and at the Government level. With so much poverty to the north of us, any Australian policy on international affairs, if it is to be effective, must provide additional funds for economic assistance and a percentage of this should be channelled through voluntary agencies. No one organisation or government can hope to meet more than a small percentage of the many requests for help. It is therefore important that the funds that we have at our disposal, be they Govern ment or private, be effectively used. The need is so urgent in these countries that it calls for an immediate close liaison between the Government and private sectors to see that our aid is directed where the need is greatest.
There seems to be some reluctance on the part of the Department of External
Affairs to work through voluntary agencies, yet foreign governments and other states of the Commonwealth are only too happy to do so. The only reason I have been able to obtain for this reluctance is that if the Government assisted voluntary agencies it would lose money to spend on Government projects. The other reason is that the Government funds are fully committed. This is really admitting that the Government is not doing enough. As far as I am aware the Department of External Affairs is about the only Government department that does not encourage a close working liaison with the private sector. It should be realised that voluntary agencies were doing effective work in the Asian countries long before we had an external aid department. I personally do not consider that the Department of External Affairs is the only expert in this field.
Whilst Australia’s contribution to these countries is so small it is a matter of spending what funds we have available as effectively as possible, and for this reason I feel that 10 per cent of any increase in Colombo Plan funds should be channelled through voluntary agencies to commence with. My first reason for saying this is that voluntary agencies consist of people who are generally interested in assisting those in need, and any assistance given is usually without fee or reward. In further support, there is nothing to replace a voluntary effort if given in the right spirit, as it can achieve almost anything. Again, voluntary agencies are able to make contact with the private sector where the need is greatest. I think it would be in the interest of any Government department to encourage a voluntary effort. The thousands of people who work through such agencies are able to provide that warm, human, personal touch that can be lacking at the government to government level. Again, voluntary agencies have been working amongst the under privileged countries for many years and understand their problems. Also, aid given through such agencies is generally better utilised. 1 could give many more reasons. However, to make my point once again, I would like to say that Australia has a very big role to play in these countries and it is therefore important that there be much closer liaison between the Government and voluntary agencies if we are to play an effective part in assisting these countries to grapple with their many problems. For this reason I feel that the Government should do everything possible to stimulate interest amongst voluntary agencies who have been doing effective work in these countries for a very long period. Australia’s main role in Asian countries is as a donor nation, and it is important that our major contribution be along those lines.
– I want to congratulate the honourable member for Holt (Mr Reid) on the speech he has just given. I do not think any of us on this side would disagree with any of it, and that is quite a change.
– Is this ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’?
– There is nothing wrong with that sometimes. If we had a few more Christian soldiers in the trouble spots of the world we would have less trouble. But that seems to be the last thing anyone is trying to achieve. It is all bullets, bombs and grenades, but not the things that the honourable member for Holt was speaking about tonight.
I want to speak on another subject in the whole range of external affairs. 1. want to speak about an island fortress which has more armed men to the square mile than any other country in the world, including Vietnam.
While returning from London, where I attended a parliamentary conference in June, I had 3 days on the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean as a guest of the Department of External Affairs. My main purpose was to visit the 50 Australians in the seventh voluntary contingent of Australian policemen who have gone to this troubled island to help keep the peace and make the peace in a very strategic spot in world affairs. This was a great experience for me, and right at the start I want to say what a magnificent job our Australian policemen are doing on that island under United Nations jurisdiction. As 1 said, the island is an armed fortress. There are 21,000 armed men on Cyprus. There are nearly 3,000 United Nations soldiers coming from the countries of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The police force, which is unarmed, is made up of 175 men from
Austria, Australia, Sweden and Finland.
The other armed men on Cyprus are the 500 armed Turkish national soldiers and the 700 armed national Greek soldiers from the mainland. There are also 10,000 armed Greek Cypriots and 7,000 armed Turkish Cypriots, and the police forces of both the Turkish and Greek sections of the island are also armed.
This situation has of course arisen from the breakdown of independence that was granted to Cyprus in 1960 when it had a parliament of 35 members, the President being Archbishop Makarios. After about 2 years negotiations broke down and the Turks and the Greeks have since gone their own way. Into this troubled and desperate situation, which was virtually civil war for many months, came the United Nations with its armed force. Until 1963 only the United Nations armed force was there. Since 1963 the unarmed civil police of 4 nations have been operating under United Nations jurisdiction. They have helped to create a state of calm in this unfortunate situation where Greek and Turkish Cypriots were at each other’s throats. In the years since the independence negotiations broke down there have been many murders on the island.
Cyprus is still called the Republic of Cyprus, but it is a united republic in name only. The Greek section of the Parliament still meets front time to time. In fact an election was held shortly before I arrived on the island, and 9 Communists were elected to a parliament of 35. This is significant. We know that Communism breeds in unrest, poverty and injustice. It is serious that Communists who are not revolutionaries or anarchists but the ordinary residents of the island were strong enough to obtain 9 seats in a parliament of 35. The election of these Communists helps to create a serious international situation as far as Cyprus is concerned. For decades Australia has had very little to do with Cyprus but now we have a stake in this trouble spot. We have 50 policemen there under United Nations control, helping to keep the peace between the 2 antagonists. The situation on Cyprus has changed the state of the Mediterranean. We know that the Soviet fleet is in the Mediterranean. We know what is happening on the borders of Israel. We know of the very practical help - there can be no doubt of this - given to Egypt by the Russians. Surrounded by all this is the 5,000 square miles island of Cyprus. Britain’s air strength on the island is her largest outside the United Kingdom. The British have 80 square miles in 2 areas on the southern part of the island, for which they are paying to the Greek Government £Stg 18m a year in rent. Here they have every modern aircraft imaginable. It is a magnificent base.
-Do they have the FI 1 1?
– Certainly not. It is a magnificent base and helps to bring security to this troubled area. In the Mediterranean we have the fleets of America and Russia and embattled Israel. This makes the area potentially one of the world’s most explosive. Those of us who have read about the area and who know something of the antagonists on Cyprus will concede that from here could come the spark to start another world war. This is why I say that Cyprus is the most strategic island in the Mediterranean. If we can keep the peace on Cyprus long enough to allow the Greeks and Turks to get together again in the democratic parliamentary process that began 10 years ago we could very well save the peace of the Middle East. Thus the police work is doubly significant.
The work of the Australian police on Cyprus is varied. They are situated in the British zone. There are 6 military zones on Cyprus, with 6 United Nations military forces in general supervision. Within the 6 zones are the police divisions. There are 175 police to cover the 6 military zones. The Australian contingent is in the British zone. Its major headquarters, which I visited by helicopter provided by the Royal Air Force, are at Limassol, Polis and Ktima. As an Australian I was proud to meet these men who volunteered for this difficult task of being at the hub of the peace keeping operations on this island. We should be proud of our men on Cyprus. Their leader is Superintendent Peter McAulay of South Australia. He is also an adviser to General Chand, who is in charge of the United Nations force. Speaking of Peter McAulay, General Chand told me privately: ‘I wish you could give us Peter McAulay. I would make him a brigadier tomorrow’. In Australia’s police contingent there are 3 or 4 men from South
Australia and 4 Tasmanians, whom 1 met. It is a magnificent body of men. They patrol 267 villages.
There are 600 villages on the island. The 175 police on the island patrol those villages day in and day out, week in and week out. They keep in clase contact with the people. They are able to learn what is going on. If trouble arises they can deal with it expeditiously. Truly this is a unique experiment in United Nations peace keeping operations.
In an address delivered at the headquarters of the United Nations peace keeping force in Cyprus, known as UNFICYP, to visiting members of the Imperial Defence College shortly before I arrived on the island Peter McAulay said that the force’s duties have taken it into all of the villages on the island to search for trouble, and having found it, to settle it on the spot. He said that the police are now deployed in 12 stations or substations of varying staff establishments.
The number of investigations which resulted in the submission of an extraordinary report is interesting. There were 387 investigations in 1964, 815 in 1965, 716 in 1966, 574 in 1967, 623 in 1968 and 1,580 in 1969. The increase over the years is accounted for by the fact that the force has been spread over a wider area. Members of the force now visit every village on the island regularly. So their base for the gathering of information has been greatly enlarged. They have also won the confidence of the Greek and Turkish communities, who are now reporting incidents to the police whereas before they settled their differences privately. This is a tribute to the unarmed police on Cyprus. In the last 12 months the military force on Cyprus has been reduced by about 700 men. It appears to me, from studying the situation while I was there and talking to all the top men on the United Nations side as well as on the police force side, that in the next 12 months there could be a reduction in the military forces and an increase in the police forces on this island because of the splendid work done by the unarmed civil police from the 4 nations that I have mentioned.
An interesting point that I want to stress here was also mentioned by the SecretaryGeneral in his report for the 6 months up to 1st June. Citing the 1,580 investigations handled last year, which 1 have just mentioned, he said:
However, this does not denote an increased rate of intercommunal crimes and incidents, which in fact remained at about the same level; it rather reflects the enhanced confidence of both sides in referring matters to UNCIVPOL
That is, the United Nations civil police. The Greeks are not allowed into any of the 42 Turkish enclaves on the island. They are guarded by Turkish armed men. The Greeks will let the Turks into a few of their areas, but Nicosia itself, the capital, is divided down the middle between the Turks and the Greeks, and to pass from one section to the other one has to go through armed posts. The hills all around Kyrenia have armed men stationed at strongpoints - both Greeks and Turks. The United Nations forces are acting generally as a buffer between the Greek and Turkish positions.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to address my remarks, in the first instance, to several of the speeches that have been made from the Opposition benches which have been little short of astonishing in terms of their logic or lack of logic. Perhaps the most pathetic speech to my mind was the one that we heard, albeit well delivered in terms of oratory, from the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley). This particular speech, I believe, deserves to be examined in depth because of many of the things to which the author of the speech has subscribed. For instance, the honourable member spoke of the situation in Vietnam pre the fall of Diem, and the current situation. The rhetorical question that he asked presupposed that in the days before the Americans had more than an advisory group there, in the days before there was military intervention - if you like - by the allies to assist the South Vietnamese, the situation in that country was, if not better, then no worse than it is at the present time. It would be astonishing for anyone who had studied the events that were taking place prior to the fall of Diem - the kind of things that were occurring as daily horrors in that country - to attempt to equate those with the Vietnam that some of us were privileged to see only recently. Let me quote, not from Government sources, not from those authors that could be reckoned as being the supporters of Government involvement in Vietnam, but from some other sources for the record and to throw light on what has been suggested by the honourable member for Fremantle. Let me quote some of the books that are so eagerly sought in quotation by such authors as the honourable member for Lalor (Dr Cairns) and Levien and many others who have written pamphlets attacking Australian involvement. For instance, I quote from Ellen Hammer, writing in Pacific Affairs’ in spring 1962, at pages 32 and 33, where she described Vietnam pre the fall of Diem:
Some 1,400 officials and civilians were murdered in I960; the number was even higher in 1961. While the Vietcong propaganda line may have been that it was simply righting injustices perpetrated by agents of the Southern Government, in practice it exploited and did its best to extend the gap which separated the villages from the central government; and when it struck it concentrated much of its violence on those fields where the government had most efficiently served the people am) against established order of any kind.
Tt attacked the social and economic services of the southern government, hospitals, schools, malaria eradication teams, agricultural research stations, it raided a leprosarium and brutally attacked the patients, lt murdered Buddhist and Catholic priests, teachers, women and even children. Terror became a weapon to control and manipulate the population.
This is Vietnam immediately before the demise of Diem. Bernard Fall in ‘The Two Vietnams’, pages 359-61, wrote:
In mid-1.957 the first deliberate offensive of the insurgents began. Their target was simple and well chosen; the village official . . . perhaps as many as 13,000 small officials have been killed in South Vietnam. . . .
That was at the time of his writing in the early 1960s. He continued:
Another favourite human target … is schoolteachers, which is comprehensible in a war where the allegiance of the people is the chief prize of victory . . . according to findings of a field survey of the World Confederation of Organisations of the Teaching Profession carried out in South Vietnam in the spring of 1962, almost 80,000 school children had been deprived of schools because of terrorists action, and 636 schools were closed. Approximately 250 teachers had been kidnapped and another 30 allegedly killed.
David Halberstam in ‘The Making of a Quagmire* - hardly one who was a supporter of the Government and the Government’s position - wrote:
The pace was stepped up early in 1960; the Vietcong started a systematic attack on Diem’s village officials, designed to undermine what little Government authority existed. Forty village chiefs were killed the first week and many arms were captured … To the Vietcong, terror was an act of discrimination. They also made school teachers a prime target;
He went on to tell the same story. I could quote Scigliano in the same strain and also Tanham. Denis Warner in The Last Confucian’ wrote: the Vietcong launched a major terrorist campaign (in February 1960) against village elders and other supporters of the Diem regime. Forty village chiefs died in the first week . . .
He told the same story as I have already quoted. He continued:
Schoolteachers who taught the curriculum laid down by the Government and encouraged their pupils to take part in flag raising ceremonies and to sing the national anthem were another primary target. Several hundred were kidnapped, tortured, starved and indoctrinated. Those who responded favourably were released. More than 100 are still missing, and 30 are known to have been executed
This is the country that was described by the honourable member opposite in sanctimonious terms suggesting that it was a country no worse than it is at the present moment after the intervention of the allied forces. The honourable member went so far as to say:
I do not think it was the purpose of the Vietcong to go around killing people.
All the evidence that can be adduced for world opinion and the people who have been there - the commentators who are regarded as authoritative by so many honourable members opposite - deny this to be true. If we want the facts about what happened immediately before-
– What about our body count?
– The honourable member asks: What about our body count? What is a body count, in any case, except the victims of a war. Is the honourable member suggesting that we equate the victims of an armed conflict between 2 armies with the deliberate murder of women and children in an orphanage to prevent a democratic election? If that is the kind of logic honourable members opposite bring forward from their benches, I do not want to hear too much of it in Australia. Let us get on to what the honourable member for Fremantle had to say. He went into this kind of logic, and I hope that in reflection as he reads what I have to say, as I hope he will, he will think better of the logic and the morality of this statement. He said that it is better, in winning a political or ideological battle for the minds of men, to have the brutal suddenness of Russian’s invasion of Czechoslovakia than the 10 years of drawn out bloodshed in Vietnam. In other words, he says that the surrender of a whole nation to the - indescribable brutalities of the Russian secret police, of political and religious persecution and the destruction of any freedom of speech and liberalism in an entire nation is better in his book than standing up for one’s right and freedom in the way that has been done in Vietnam. I interjected: ‘So then the end justifies the means’. His reply was a scornful: Bah!’ I repeat the charge. His proposal is a travesty of morality. The criterion for the honourable member and for the Opposition is not right or wrong but world opinion or vote catching. He thinks it is better to have a wrong action that is over quickly and forgotten than an attempt at a right action which has a long and bitter passage and risks rejection by the mob. And the mob is the criterion, the mob is the jury and all too often the mob is the audience. This is the situation that we have been asked to accept.
Then the honourable member went on to talk about Sihanouk’s regime as being the regime certainly carrying on its existence on a tightrope. He made this statement:
Whoever dominoed Sihanouk made the same fundamental mistake.
This was the same mistake as was made by those who dominoed Diem. I do not know what he means by this dominoing. But I would have thought that the domino theory was one subject the Opposition would want to avoid after the invasion of Laos and the invasion of Cambodia. I would have thought that that ‘domino’ was rather a dirty word for them. But what does he mean? Is he suggesting that it was a colossal mistake for the people of the country to overthrow his regime by constitutional means, by unanimous decision of their elected legislature. In case there is a sneer about the way the members of that legislature were elected, let me remind honourable members that they were appointed under Sihanouk in the days of his regime and they were unanimous in their decision that he should be ousted from office. Why should he be ousted? For a great number of reasons that were given to us.
First of all, he stood well and squarely across the road of the democratic and economic development of his country. He was openly conniving with the North Vietnamese and Vietcong. Eighty per cent of the supplies that went to the enemy in III and IV Corps zones in South Vietnam went through Sihanoukville. They went in crates marked for the Cambodian army. People were paid for it. A certain amount of the proceeds of this went into the coffers, if not of Sihanouk then of Princess Monique his wife. This was the kind of situation that was presented to us not by government officials but by hundreds - representatives of thousands - of teachers and students, for instance. The country was united in this decision, in the Tightness of it, and in defending their homeland as a united force as were the people of Britain in 1940. Is the Opposition going to say, through the honourable member for Fremantle, that it was a fundamental mistake that this man should have been overthrown by a government: It was not a coup d’etat. Let me remind the Opposition that the same government remained. The same Prime Minister remained and the same kind of authority existed in the country. It was a change after many warnings, many requests and many pleas to Sihanouk. It was a change of their head of State. This is an entirely different situation from the one that is presented to us from the Opposition benches.
My last words are about the situation in South Vietnam. When a statement was made on this side of the House a while ago the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Birrell) interjected and said: Well, it is about time then that we withdrew our troops from South Vietnam if the Vietnamese are getting as strong as they are.’ I replied to him by way of interjec tion: ‘It is getting around to that now.’ I believe we are getting to that situation. I believe that we now have, thanks to the fact that the Americans went there and thanks to the fact that the Australians, the South Koreans, the Filipinos and so many other nations who have committed themselves in different ways assisted this regime, a nation standing on its feet with an army of more than 1 million men well armed and trained with another 3.5 million men in its reserves, regional forces and home guard. There are in South Vietnam today well trained pilots with their own air force and with their own ability to maintain their aeroplanes. None of their combat pilots have less than 2.500 hours of combat flying. An American admiral told us that in his opinion there was a naval force taking over with excellent procedures, ability and maintenance to carry out the execution of manoeuvres of their riverine craft.
This country is growing stronger and it will be possible for us to phase out Australian and American troops in the immediate future. But no thanks to the Opposition. Without us the South Vietnamese would be on their knees. They would be undergoing the kind of terror which we were told by the honourable member for Fremantle was not really what the Vietcong meant. He did not think that it was the purpose of the Vietcong to go round killing people. Tei that to the marines because he could not tell it to a living soul in Vietnam. This is an entirely different story from the one that is told so often by the apologists for the Opposition’s viewpoint in Australia. I believe that South Vietnam is now a significant nation. It will exist. It will continue to exist and in the future our contribution ought to be phased more towards economic and civil assistance than to the field of military assistance. But it will never be done as long as we have the mentality that somehow or other the end justifies the means and as long as we shut our eyes to the fact that across Australia today we are losing the ideological war, not for the reasons adduced by the honourable member for Fremantle but because not enough people have the guts to stand up and say what is right whether it is unpopular or not or whether the mob bellows its approval or not.
– Nobody would be surprised that the ideology, if that is what he is espousing, of the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) is losing its force. It is the doctrine of selective indignation. He has tears to shed as long as the Americans have led the way in shedding them. Of course people are being killed in war. That is what war is about. That is why we want it stopped. That is why we want Australian troops out of South Vietnam. We have debated this subject at great length in this place and it is one of the mysteries to me that people of the other side cannot see the total inhumanity, barbarity and folly of war and why we ought not to be in it. We ought to be helping those people to find their way towards the paths of peace. The contribution of Australian soldiers - estimable and professional as they are as soldiers, probably the best in the business - can only be sacrifice.
Of course it is true that people are being assassinated. I believe that the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong kill people, assassinate them and murder them, and I believe it is murder. But I also believe it is murder to fly over the country at 30,000 feet and drop bombs indiscriminately on North Vietnam and South Vietnam. The honourable member for Evans and myself were in a party which flew over a large area of this country. The place is pockmarked with bomb craters. There must have been people around when they were dropped. There must have been people who were innocent victims of the war. There must have been people murdered because bombs were dropped from 30,000 feet. We make no selection in this. It is murder if one assassinates a village chief in the middle of the night and it is murder if one drops a bomb on the people from 30,000 feet. It is murder if an Australian naval ship stands off the coast of North Vietnam and fires ite shells indiscriminately into that country. 1 would just like to challenge this view of the domino theory that the honourable member for Evans mentioned a moment ago. The domino theory was never meant to be a military view. It was a philosophical or ideological one. The war in Vietnam has now become military rather than ideological. But then the honourable member for Evans overlooks the facts of life around the world. He has tears to shed for Viet nam. We all have for the misery of people. But why have Government supporters been so silent on West Irian, just up the road, and the people of West Papua having bombs dropped on them? Why are they silent about the travail of Israel and some of the Arabs mixed up in it - innocently a good number of them? Why was there a dead silence on Biafra? Why, if we are so full of fighting for freedom, were we the first government to recognise the military regime in Greece when the Greek colonels took over? Why do we not care that the people of Guiana are having their country nibbled away by Venezuela? This is the silence of the grave.
So I believe that, in this debate on the estimates for the Department of External Affairs, the consideration of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos continually exposes the utter hypocrisy of this Government’s position. We have only to examine the remarks of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon) when he spoke on ‘Four Corners’ some 4 or 5 weeks ago. Just consider some of the things he said. He said:
We are in Vietnam for a very specific and clear purpose, and that is to give these people the right to determine their own future by democratic vote according to Asian ideas of what democracy really means.
The Government does not care whether a country is democratic. Why was it the first to recognise the military regime in Greece? Why does it not raise its voice for the people of West Irian? Why was it as silent as the grave about the plight of Cambodia? Why is it not doing something to help the people of Laos? Then the Minister said that people would not believe us if we said we wanted a negotiated settlement and at the same time we gave military aid. So we gave civil aid instead. Do we not want a negotiated settlement in Vietnam? Do we not want the people of Vietnam to be brought to the council table? Do we not want the war to end by deliberation? Is it not true that it will end only by political discussion? Of course it is. The total contradiction between the attitude of honourable members opposite in their approach to. Vietnam and their attitude in their approach to the near neighbour, Cambodia, exposes the utter hypocrisy and bankruptcy of the foreign policy of this Government. lt is not a foreign policy at all. It is diplomacy by hitchhiking, by waiting for somebody else to make a decision and then going along with it. The honourable member for Evans and all his friends opposite who have tears to shed as long as the Americans have shed them first, expose the utter failure of the Australian Government in what ought to be its most important task in this part of the world, namely, to take diplomatic initiative.
I want to place my view of the situation in Laos and Cambodia before the chamber tonight. I visited Laos and Cambodia in 1966 as a result of a request from the people in my electorate. As a matter of fact, they even raised part of the fare so that I might go. When I came back I reported to them and said in this House that I believed the North Vietnamese were committing acts of aggression against Laos. Nobody said anything about it. This Government did nothing about it. The only remedy would be by international action. It might even be that international action through the United Nations is impossible at this stage. From the other side of the House not one word has been said. If it has, it has been said in a very muted fashion. Not one diplomatic step has been taken to try to overcome this particular problem.
I said at the time that we ought to exercise all our diplomatic efforts to obtain guarantees of neutrality for the people of Cambodia; that I believed that Cambodia was the insulation against the spread of the war in that part of the world. I suppose one should use the term ‘Indo-China’ at this stage, although personally I rather reject it as being a French administrative convenience. There are three different nations with three different peoples. To try to lump them together as one group confuses the whole issue. To try to bring the whole situation under one closely knit formula only confuses the issue, and it is part of the problem that the Government has created for itself. For the last 4 years the situation in Cambodia has been apparent. If it was apparent to a person such as myself briefly visiting the area from afar that this was part of the issue, why was it not apparent to honourable members opposite? Why was it not apparent to successive Ministers for External Affairs? I believe that over the last 4 years we should have bent all our efforts towards achieving total and international guarantees for the neutrality of Cambodia. Of course, we did nothing about it. We did not like Prince Sihanouk. He was one of those people who tried to bring neutrality to his country, who would not choose either side. He was a bit like the Labor Party in this. We do not choose either side. We deplore the war.
Honourable members opposite would not like to live under the management of the Government of South Vietnam. While I think that that country is moving further along the road to democracy than it was 4 or 5 years ago, nobody can claim that it is the kind of government we would support totally. The Government of South Vietnam is a government of sorts. It is possibly better than the Government of North Vietnam in some ways and worse in others. I cannot understand how honourable members opposite can get starry eyed about it. The facts are that as the war has progressed in South Vietnam, as the pressures in the South become greater, the North Vietnamese troops can use the border areas to a greater and greater measure. Two and a half years ago Prince Sihanouk himself was getting upset about it. By the beginning of last year the people of Cambodia were becoming concerned about it. The expansion of the border areas was a logical military necessity for the Government of North Vietnam and its troops. One can explain it militarily but one cannot justify it morally. This must have been apparent to anybody who looked at it at all. Why had the Minister not brought into this House continual reports on this situation? Why had he not foreseen that this would happen?
– He did not know.
– One would think they would know because there are very skilled people on the embassy staffs there. Although they did not tell me I am absolutely certain that in their reports they would make it clear to the Government that this was happening. So months and months ago, back in the middle of last year, this Government ought to have been exercising all its diplomatic talents, if any - it has a lot of diplomatic talent in the Department, if not too much in the Ministry - to try to protect Cambodia from the spread of the war. The Government did nothing about it. So on 18th March this year a logical political exercise took place. It may well not have been the most intelligent political exercise. It may well have been that the people of the National Assembly of Cambodia ought to have kept Prince Sihanouk as Head of State, but people, assemblies and voters of all sorts make tremendous errors when it comes to the ballot box. The people of this country have made a substantial number over the last 21 years of Federal elections. On 18th March there was a change in the Head of State in Cambodia. A few days later the government commenced negotiations with the North Vietnamese authorities. The impression 1 gained up there was that they made an offer to the North Vietnamese that they could keep their troops in the area as long as they gave a guarantee that when the Americans left South Vietnam the North Vietnamese would go home. I do not make that as a categorical statement. It was the impression I gathered from what was being said around the area.
A few days later the North Vietnamese look military action against the Cambodians, i do not remember any clear cut statement of this being tabled in the House. Why is it that we should have to go to the news papers or eventually turn up in Cambodia and ask people on the spot, when we have a highly expensive Ministry, and a great Department of Externa) Affairs behind m to keep us informed? So before very long, after a few weeks, it appeared as though the Cambodian Government was in great peril. In a statement on the ‘Four Corners’ programme the Minister said that he did not think the Cambodian Government could survive. The Cambodian Government has survived. Lon Nol has been the Prime Minister since August of last year. I believe thai this government is as constitutional as any government in Cambodia could be. But that is not the point. We are not fighting for governments. We arc fighting for people.
The honourable member for Evans had tears to shed. I should have thought that tonight he would have brought before the House 2 points of the tragedy. The first would have been concerned with the refugees of Laos, of whom there are about 40,000 and who have nothing with which to fare for themselves. They have been moved cut of the battle areas. They have built bamboo huts, but they have only the clothes they stand up in and a few utensils. We asked them - and honourable members opposite were with us when we asked them - ‘What is the first thing you need?’ They replied: ‘We want a blanket each’. What would 40,000 blankets cost us? We must have thousands of them in the Army stores in Australia. They need a mosquito net each, because this is malaria country, and they want a ground sheet each. I suppose that $200,000 would solve that problem and make a tremendous difference to the physical comfort and the health of 40,000 people. And yet nobody cares. I have written to the Minister. Some day when he comes home I suppose he will answer it.
I raise my voice on behalf of the people of Laos in this regard. Then we went to Cambodia and found what had happened to that country. All of us who have read anything about it or who have visited the place know that Cambodia was an oasis of peace in that area. Phnom Penh was a spacious, gracious and well-kept city. It was a totally civilian society. When I went back there in 1966 the only soldier I saw was one on guard outside the defence ministry gates. I imagine that throughout all Cambodia there would not be more than a handful of weapons in private hands. When those people were beset by war there was nothing they could do about it. Then the guns began barking on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. One knew that the students and young people that one saw training in the streets were being carried out to battle in buses that had been taken out of service in the bus services. The next day one could visit them in the hospitals. I visited the hospitals. I did not visit them alone. 1 saw hundreds of casualties on the floors, without beds. The whole place was stricken with the terrible toll of war. Months ago we could have been in the business of helping them with these problems. We do not need to become militarists. We do not need to engage in the war ourselves. We do not need to send troops. Human misery is the product of war. I believe this is what we ought to be doing.
There are two things we can do effectively. First of all, we have great diplomatic strength that we have never attempted to exercise. We have a capacity to mix and meet with people, to be accepted on all sides of the fence. We have always ignored this because we have accepted other people’s judgments. Years ago we should have adopted a policy of recognising both North and South Vietnam and North and South Korea. But that is a different question.
The other thing that we have is a great capacity to perform civil aid with great expertise and a professional touch. We should ensure that we do not take sides in these matters. We should make clear that we only want the wars to stop. The human misery of war can be assuaged by the exercise of all the talents and skill and wealth of this country. Not one tear has been shed. That is why I believe that in the consideration of these estimates the Minister for External Affairs and the ministry should be condemned for their failure to accept the fact that war is man’s greatest folly. We must demand that armies stop crossing frontiers and we can at least do something about the human misery, the refugees, the sick, the wounded and the homeless, not under some great miasma of moralising about what is happening in Vietnam. We should consider what is happening to the people of Laos and Cambodia.
– I am glad to rise tonight because there have been some attempts during this debate to get an objective realistic look at some of the problems of Asia. I congratulate many honourable members whom I will not name for their obvious sincerity in attempting to do just this. However, there are problems. The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) made the best speech on Asia I have heard him make since 5 years ago when he made the best speech I had heard in Parliament. I would like if I had time - I probably have not - to go over some of the points he made on that occasion 5 years ago because they bear a great deal of study in view of what has transpired. I think many of them have become truer than the honourable member possibly recognised at that time. We have been posed tonight with all sorts of problems. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) said that war is wrong, bombs are wrong and killing is wrong. He asked why we do not recognise what is happening in Venezuela. I might add: Why do people not recognise what is happening in Cambodia? One could be excused if one said: Why do people not recognise more fully what is happening in Vietnam? I saw the height of stupidity the other day in one newspaper in my own State. There was a letter to the editor which condemned someone who was writing in this case in the most mild form against some sections of those concerned in the Moratorium. The letter stated: Why do people before they write letters not read the literature on the subject of Vietnam so they know what they are talking about?
We all have our own methods of making up our minds and forming our judgments.’ I went to Vietnam in 1965, 1966 and 1967. There was a lapse of 3 years and I returned in 1970. The changes are such in that country that it is absolutely remarkable to consider them, but does anyone stop to consider these changes? It happens all too seldom. When I was there in 1967 one could not be deeply impressed with the morale of the people of Saigon. One picked up the general impression that perhaps they were not awfully dedicated to self-determination for their own nation. Three years later the city was completely transformed. One finds, as one always did, comparative peace and quiet. Nobody is concerned about odd episodes inside Saigon or indeed in the rest of the country. But today one finds a completely different change in morale. If the honourable member for Wills seriously suggests to this Committee that we should renege on our position - I think one can say the same for the honourable member for Fremantle - at this point of time it is the height of lunacy. One can admit that perhaps the Americans took more time than they should have taken to wake up to the fact that the people of Vietnam, Cambodia and any country in Asia and our own country want to dictate which way matters go according to their own judgments. This is precisely what is happening in Vietnam now. It is so close to being a success story in South Vietnam that there is no difference. But what do we see? We find people saying, in my view without knowledge of the facts, that we should pull out, that the Americans should pull out. Why should they pull out? At this point of time there is a maximum of stability in that country; there is a maximum of progress.
The honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) suggested in a highly illinformed fashion that there had only been one election held in South Vietnam. Let me prompt his memory. There was an election to set up the provisional government in that country at which 90.5 per cent of those on the rolls voted. That provisional government set up a constitution on which the present bicameral system in South Vietnam is based. That government, which is now in existence, had a senate election, a representatives or congressional election, and a presidential election. Since then every few months there have been local government elections and Just recently the second class senators on the other half of the bicameral system went to the people again. Whether or not there is a democracy in Vietnam - which the honourable member for Capricornia says he does not believe in anyway - is a matter of doubt. But the only mistake we can make is to say that judged through our eyes they have not got what we call a democratic system. This surely is the most arrogant remark that any nation can make about another. We cannot decide their methods of thinking or the direction in which they are to go. When the Vietnamisation programme is further advanced than it is now the only people who will dictate what happens in South Vietnam will be the people of South Vietnam - nobody else. The Americans recognise his, the Australians recognise it and other forces in the world recognise it. Yet we are posed with his ridiculous hypothesis that for some reason or other we should now undo all the good we have done in that country when it is nine-tenths of the way along the line of progress to achieving some national ethos, to achieving some elements of selfdetermination - that we should throw this away for some nebulous condition that no-one can ever quite define.
In this House on 23rd March 1965 the honourable member for Fremantle said:
There have been a number of demands directed at the United States of America that it should negotiate on the subject of Vietnam. There is developing in some countries of the Western world almost a philosophy of demanding the ‘getting out of such situations as that in Vietnam. There have been advertisements published in the newspapers demanding negotiations which obviously mean that the United States quit Vietnam. The only thing I would like to say about this ‘getting out of philosophy is that it does not go far enough. If it were carried as far as it should go, of course, it would be a part of an effective world settlement.
In the speech of the honourable member for Fremantle tonight he said approximately the same thing. He pointed out in quite clear terms that the aim of the Communist countries - I do not use the word Communist’ in too dire a sense - is to encourage the presence of troops there. But he went further and said that if North Vietnam wanted American troops out tomorrow of course they could get American troops out tomorrow. The easiest thing North Vietnam could do is negotiate in Paris and get American troops out. The honourable member for Fremantle quite properly went on to point out that this is the least of their wishes. Anyone who is not naive from the ankles up knows very well that the spread of the Russian ideology or the Chinese ideology, thrives on disorders.
I referred earlier to a speech made 5 years ago by the honourable member for Fremantle and I hope I paraphrased his second statement reasonably accurately. I, referred to his 2 statements because he is right. That is the important thing. Following on from that, the aim and attitude that should be adopted by this Government is precisely what it is doing now, and that is to try to scale down the number of our forces in Vietnam when the change to Vietnamisation means that they can maintain stability in their own country. Who are we to say, Mr Chairman, that this should not happen? I say - and I have absolutely no fear of refutation - that today the people of South Vietnam have discovered a self determination, an ethos, and a reason to exist of a much higher order than they have ever had in the past. To suggest that this should be undone is the greatest insolence and the greatest example of sheer arrogance that one could hear, and is an enormity.
The Australian people have been renowned for many decades as being tolerant and open minded. They have absorbed views from this section and that section. But there is developing in our society today - I do not know whether I criticise the left wing of our society very much more than the right wing - a complete intolerance of the point of view of other persons and a complete determination to govern by means of startling headlines in the Press and by quoting the Press as the ultimate authority. How wrong the Press can be. In my opinion the Australian spirit of seeking proper understanding and properly backed views is diminishing. This is the tragedy of the world today. I would go so far as to say that in the left wing of our society today there are people who have virtually become bigots because they have closed their minds to other points of view. This is not a desirable attribute and it is not the attribute of Australians of the past. It is something to be deeply regretted. I welcome the views of people like the honourable member for Wills who joined me some time ago at the Salisbury Teachers College and stated what he honestly and sincerely believed. The fact that his view happened to be much the same as mine is not something for which I will criticise him and it is not something 1 will hold him to. I welcome the fact that someone - and there are only a few on both sides of the Parliament today - had the courage to stand and say what he thinks. Better still, these people have the courage to say what they think, based on an informed outlook.
There is no doubt in my mind that militarily South Vietnam is in the ascendant. The morale of the South Vietnamese fighting troops is high and the morale of the people there is high. The magical thing, when one stops to consider the situation, is that a country at war can go so far along the path towards democracy, lt is insufferable to hear the bookworm geniuses who from time to time stand up and criticise South Vietnam, a nation at war, a nation which is facing tremendous problems, over its progress towards democracy. If any member of the Labor Party wishes to continue this debate I would like him to tell me of any other nation in Asia which is more democratic than South Vietnam is today. The fact is that he could not find such a country. The much vaunted Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore does not put up with opposition. President Thieu informed honourable members from all parties recently that he expected the An Quang Party to lead the state in the Senate election held recently in South Vietnam and that he felt it would be a good thing for the future of the country if this were so. One cannot wish for much better from South Vietnam, a country in a state of war and tremendous troubles, than the great progress made towards democracy in its society. I think the House should recognise this fact and give credit to the South Vietnamese. There is no shadow of doubt in my mind that this is a very vital thing.
The honourable member for Fremantle also asked whether our policy is effective in changing the minds of men. In the 60 seconds remaining to me I would like to answer this question by reference to the Australian sphere of responsibility in Vietnam, Phuoc Tuy Province. We inherited in that Province one of the most difficult areas. It was one of the traditional Vietcong areas, the worst in Corps areas 1, 2, 3 or 4. 1 hope that the Government will not act lightly in cutting down the number of troops in that Province because we are about to mount there one of the finest examples of rural reform that I have seen in the area - and I have see a lot in many visits to South Vietnam in the past. If we are to have a chance of showing people that another method can produce far better results than they anticipated could be possible, then it is vital that we achieve some area of stability in Phuoc Tuy Province. The second part of our policy is to demonstrate to the people of South Vietnam that our civil aid can achieve progress second to none in that particular area of South East Asia.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– One of the things that astonishes me - it is a prominent characteristic of almost every speech made by honourable members on the Government side - is the utter inability of those honourable members to recognise one simple fact about Vietnam today. That simple fact is this: Both the United States Government and the Australian Government are withdrawing their troops from South Vietnam. That is a fact that is inescapable. Yet almost every statement I have heard made by honourable members on the Government side tonight - and the same characteristic has appeared in the questions, the Dorothy Dixer’s, served up to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon) on almost every occasion - gives the impression that nothing has changed in Vietnam; that we are still there seeking the same goal of military victory that we have been pursuing since 1965. Heavily flavouring many of the speeches made by Government supporters have been suggestions that we of the Opposition do not know what we are talking about. The honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) went so far as to cover the whole spectrum - the Communist left, the Communist dominated centre and all the diabolical areas that seem to worry the Liberal Party and the Country Party so much - in claiming that what was happening really was not dissent about this war, not genuine concern or a genuine belief that the war was responsible for the deaths of thousands of people, with no apparent end in sight and no apparent worthwhile objectives. It was all a conspiracy.
– You can call it politics.
– The honourable member for McMillan can call it politics if he likes. So far as I am concerned, just about everything that came from the honourable member for Farrer and quite a few of the other speakers was in terms of the conspiracy theory. But when is the Government going to wake up to the fact that in a couple of years time there will be no more American troops in South Vietnam? When will it wake up to the fact that in a couple of years there will be no more Australian troops in South Vietnam? Why then can the Government claim that what we are calling withdrawal is illogical? Why does it accuse us of disloyalty and of having all sorts of dubious motives when we are suggesting that the Australian Government should be doing immediately what it is taking a couple of years to do? It is incredible.
This situation has been commented upon on a number of occasions in the editorials of leading newspapers but the Government simply cannot recognise that the situation in Vietnam is changing. I remember a question asked about 2 weeks ago. It was a Dorothy Dixer. Le Duan or some top ranking officer in the North Vietnam politburo has written some diabolical statement to the effect that the aim of North Vietnam was to conquer South Vietnam. Who ever doubted this statement? If this is supposed to be the reality of the situation then why in heaven’s name are we withdrawing Australian forces? Why are the
Americans withdrawing their troops? It ls just so silly that these people who claim to know so much about the situation in South Vietnam and who claim to be so knowledgable about Asan affairs and American policies just cannot adjust themselves to one simple little reality.
I want to make a few comments about some of the remarks made by honourable members on the Government side who preceded me in this debate. The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) is quite astounding. But then the honourable member reflects what so many honourable members on his side have been saying for so many years. The term ‘success story’ has been derided consistently by people who have criticised the American policy. These people are some of the forthright spokesmen in the American Congress itself. This dramatic ‘Readers Digest’ view of the world, which not even the ‘Readers Digest’ is so crazy as to purvey these days, is still being put across by the honourable member for Angas.
One other point that the honourable member for Angas brought up - and this is something that worries me very much - is that we can look at the system of elections in South Vietnam and say that this is genuine democracy. But of course the honourable member for Angas let himself out very nicely by saying: ‘After all, South Vietnam is at war; you cannot expect a nation at war to have a real democracy’. I would point out that a nation at war is a nation that must be united. There must be no divisions in a nation at war. A democratic system of government is the way in which all people and all dissident factions can be brought together. Because the Government of South Vietnam has not been prepared to share political power with so many of the dissident factions, South Vietnam is still hopelessly disunited. When the honourable member for Angas and so many other honourable members on his side of the House start to talk about stability I wonder really what they mean. There are simple historical factors about South Vietnam. I will not go into great detail about them but they are tragic and unfortunate factors which make this area of Vietnam almost impossible to rule. There are religious divisions, regional divisions and class divisions. There are all sorts of divisions. But these are factors that have been in that country for decades. In particular the misfortune of the South Vietnamese Government since 1954 has been its inability to portray itself to its own people as a nationalist government which can stand on its own 2 feet wilh dignity and a sense of pride. That has been the misfortune of the South Vietnamese Government.
But what do we mean by the term ‘democracy ‘? The honourable member for Angas said that all that is necessary is to have 7 elections, that 90 per cent of the people will turn up and this means democracy. Of course it is a start on the road to democracy. But the point is that almost all of these exercises in democracy in South Vietnam have been aimed specifically at one objective, and that is to legitimise the authority of those who have been in power. I suggest that those people who are so enamoured of the democratic progress that is being made in South Vietnam start to read some publications on this subject. They should start by reading, for example, Bernard Fall’s ‘Last Reflections on a War’. This was his last book on Vietnam before he was blown up. It is a collection of his essays. He has a chapter in this book on the democratic elections of South Vietnam. These elections were as fraudulent, as phoney, as deceptive and as dishonest as anything that the North Vietnamese can put up. The North Vietnamese have democratic elections. People vote for them. But the Communist Party candidates invariably get something like 90 per cent of the votes.
– What did the United Nations teams say on it?
– I do not claim to have read everything by any means. But I do claim to have read some things and I am quite convinced by what they have said. One of the previous speakers referred to ‘The Making of a Quagmire’ by David Halberstam which seems to me to be quite a reliable sort of a book. David Halberstam by and large is sympathetic to American objectives in Vietnam. It is bad luck if they do not turn out right, but he is generally sympathetic. But there are some realities about South Vietnam. Honourable members opposite should not deceive themselves into believing that this is democracy in South Vietnam. Some of it is. I think it is very fortunate for some people in South Vietnam that the United States Congress and the United States people in particular are prepared to keep a very close watch over what goes on in South Vietnam because without that scrutiny by the American Congress South Vietnam would be even more undemocratic than it is.
I would like to quote an extract from The Making of a Quagmire’ by David Halberstam. I refer to the part of the book where David Halberstam writes about the elections in which Diem always received a vast majority of the votes and indeed Diem’s candidates received more votes than the number of people who turn up to vote. That was quite the normal thing. He said what was happening in Vietnam was that South Vietnam was really becoming a people’s republic without becoming Communist. It was a free world people’s republic. This was obviously a contradiction of terms. On page 52 of his book. David Hal.berstam said:
Eventually South Vietnam became, for all intents and purposes, a Communist-type country without Communism. It had all the controls, all the oppressions and all the frustrating, grim aspects of the modern totalitarian state - without the dynamism, efficiency and motivation that Communism had brought to the North.
As I have said, David Halberstam is by and large a supporter of American objectives. He is not so foolish as to believe that this is a genuine democracy in South Vietnam. This is one thing frankly that worries me very much. What are we fighting for and what will we offer the people of South Vietnam? I doubt whether the alternative we are offering them is sufficient to justify the slaughter and destruction of Vietnam that our commitment there alongside the United States has been responsible for.
A number of other comments were made. I am frankly disturbed about the Vietnamisation programme. After all, what this means now is that, whereas in the past the Americans were prepared to sustain the major burden of the war in South Vietnam, it has now been turned back to the South Vietnamese to handle by themselves. The South Vietnamese are going to fight on in what is still going to be partly an American war, only they are the people who will be killed from now on. We are walking out; we are washing our hands of it and leaving this conflict entirely in tha hands of the South Vietnamese.
I would like to say something about a comment that was made by the honourable member for Farrer. He referred to the fear of the increasing Russian naval presence in the Indian Ocean. I think the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) made the very obvious point that if the Government expresses this fear and is genuinely concerned about it, what is it going to do? From what I have heard so far there has not been one Government spokesman who has offered to this House any solution to the problem of the presence of the Russian naval force in the Indian Ocean. We are supposed to be very, very upset about this. But I would like to read from an article which appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 9th March. It is a summary of a Press statement made by Mr Adam Malik, the Foreign Minister for Indonesia. The article states:
Mr Malik said Asian countries should not be aligned to international defence pacts. Nor should they formulate a regional defence pact of their own.
He said that there are no other countries in Asia which want a Russian presence. These nations do not want foreign powers in this area. I think he was also speaking on behalf of himself and the Indian Government when he said that they had agreed that there should be no foreign bases and that they were not prepared to go along with the Russians. One might comment there that the attitude of the Indonesian Government towards alliances and bases is in striking contrast to our own. We simply cannot imagine a world in which there is no American alliance, in which there are no American ships, aeroplanes or bases. Indonesia has got along without such alliances for years and that nation is expressing no hysteria at the thought of Western powers leaving this area.
I thought the attack delivered by the honourable members for Evans (Dr Mackay) on the honourable member for Fremantle was rather amazing. It was a spurious attack. As I recall the honourable member for Fremantle said that it was a disastrous mistake that the administration of Sihanouk was overthrown. The honourable member was not looking at the motives of it in any sense whatsoever. He was talking about the effects of it. As far as I am concerned, if we look solely at the effects of the overthrow of Sihanouk I think it would probably be agreed that it was a mistake. I quite agree that: the Lon Nol Government, as far as I can see, was a constitutionally appointed government. It had every right to depose Sihanouk. It certainly bad problems inside Cambodia. It had the problem of the occupation of Cambodia by North Vietnamese troops. All the honourable member for Fremantle was talking about was the effects of the overthrow of Sihanouk.
It is quite clear what the effects were because the North Vietnamese conducted an attack. They spread out from the sanctuary areas along the borders of South Vietnam and moved inland. Almost immediately, in view of the weakness of the Lon Nol Government - I understand the Lon Nol Government was almost virtually not informed of the move - the United States of America launched an invasion of Cambodia. The South Vietnamese Government kept up with the South Vietnamese troops and Cambodia for the first time was plunged right into the malestrom of the war in South Vietnam. Obviously Cambodia had been engaged already in this war because of the occupation of certain areas by the North Vietnamese. That is undisputed. But at least the people of Cambodia, by and large, were saved from the destruction of attacks from the North Vietnamese, the National Liberation Front, the United States and the South Vietnamese. It is quite clear that what the honourable member for Fremantle said about that situation is true: The effects of the overthrow of Sihanouk were disastrous.
However, there is no point in worrying about that. The only people who can reappoint Sihanouk, if they felt the inclination to do so, are the people of Cambodia. I rather doubt whether they have that inclination because they are offering quite substantial support to the Lon Nol Government. Sihanouk has made tactical blunders, if he is trying to win back popular support. He has aligned himself with a minority movement and, in some senses, an antinational movement. The only people who can deal with this situation in Cambodia are the people of Cambodia themselves. The attack by the honourable member for Evans was a fraudulent attack.
To sum up, I would say that it is a discreditable and disgraceful tactic that the Government is using at present. It is attacking the Australian Labor Party and is attacking all of those people who basically support the Labor position on Vietnam, lt has charged them with disloyalty and untrustworthiness, almost in terms of treason in the minds of honourable members opposite who are in opposition to us, simply for suggesting that Australia should do with speed what this Government is doing over a protracted period. Let us face it: This Government no matter how reluctant it is and no matter how distasteful it finds this, is being forced against its will to withdraw troops in Vietnam and the Austraiian Labor Party wants to do the same.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
- Mr Chairman, the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) commenced his remarks by saying that he would not go into very much detail about Vietnam. There was a pretty good reason for that. He does not know very much about Vietnam. He spent the whole of his 15 minutes talking about Vietnam, anyway. He said that nothing had changed, that we were withdrawing our troops slowly whereas we should withdraw them straightaway. The point should be made that Australia is withdrawing its troops for the very good reason that its policy is succeeding in Vietnam. This policy ls not one of failure.
The Committee is discussing the estimates for the Department of External Affairs. This is an enormous subject, encompassing as it does the whole of the world. In the short time available to us in these debates, we can touch only on the areas which each of us considers the most important to Australia. I think that we all realise the economic and cultural ties as well as the strategic importance of the areas east of us in the Pacific, that is, New Zealand, Fiji, which is about to become independent, and other islands extending to the United States of America itself. I do not think that any of us feels any threat to Australia from that area. We do not wish to neglect it but, in a sense, Australia is the front line of the area and future recognisable threats to the security of Australia can be expected to come from the west and north-west, and not from the east - that is, from the east of Australia. For this reason, 1 wish to draw attention at every opportunity to the need for Australia to expand both its defensive and its offensive capabilities in the realisation that it cannot expect to be protected by friendly super powers forever.
Australia has the technological capacity and the resources to become a nation of world significance. 1 think that it is about time we stopped wringing our hands and deploring such facts of life as the British withdrawal from east of Suez and the possible American reluctance to maintain a military presence in Asia. This was touched on by the honourable member for Bendigo. I repeat the view that Australia should encourage every form of cooperation with the friendly nations which share with us a responsibility in the Indian Ocean. I refer particularly to Indonesia and South Africa which both live under the threat of Communist aggression and subversion and which both resist it. They have no illusions about the intentions of international Communism - neither do I - either Moscow or Peking style, and neither country subscribes to the pathetic attitude of appeasement which is fashionable in so many other places - even. 1 regret to say, in Australia.
Australia is in a unique positon. We have friendly relations with many nations which are unfriendly to each other. We have been able to maintain this friendship with dignity even when these nations fall out. 1 am thinking for example of the confrontation period between Malaysia and Indonesia, the problems between India and Pakistan, the trouble between South Vietnam and Cambodia, Israel and the Arab countries. In each of these cases we have maintained relationships with both sides and I believe that we have done so with dignity. I feel that Australians - that is, with the possible exception of the honourable member for Bendigo - cannot fail to be aware of the Russian penetration into the Indian Ocean area. I believe that this is a carefully planned policy to contain China and, at the same time, to expand the Soviet influence into South East Asia as the British move out. It is useful also in Russian efforts concerning oceanography, fishing and merchant activities as well as its programme in outer space. 1 have no doubt that the Russians will move carefully and not too quickly because they do not regard the Chinese as an immediate threat. None of the former European colonies or possessions is anxious to be colonised or possessed again, unless they can help it. Looking to the future, we can expect that the great seafaring nations of the world probably will not need land bases when operating away from home. The Russians have not reached this degree of sophistication yet, but they certainly seem to me to be shopping around to become established in the few suitable areas that exist.
– What are we going to do about it?
– I will tell the honourable member shortly. With the nearest Soviet naval base at Vladivostock, it is easy to understand the Soviet interest in such strategically placed islands as Mauritius, Socotra, the Seychelles, Diego Garcia, Singapore and perhaps Ceylon which now recognises Communist countries including North Vietnam. The Soviet Union has made capital from India’s fear of China and the mutual distrust between India and Pakistan. The Soviet naval influence has been felt already in India where Russian officers train Indian sailors in Russian submarines and naval facilities are closed to all foreigners other than Russians. The Americans do not appear to be showing much interest in the Indian Ocean area. It is reliably reported that the Soviet Indian Ocean squadron averages about 14 warships, including at least 1 nuclear submarine.
An examination of the Indian Ocean area reveals that there are relatively few islands in a position to provide facilities for interested nations, such as Australia, to straddle the sea and air routes connecting South East Asia and Australia with Europe, Africa and the Middle East. For this reason, I am anxious to draw the attention of the Government urgently to the Australian Territory of Cocos Islands which, I believe, is at least equally important to the security of Australia and to our trade routes as are Darwin, Learmonth or Cockburn Sound. A satisfactory airfield is established already at Cocos Island and a submarine cable links Australia with South Africa. Cocos Island is Australian sovereign territory, well over 1,000 miles out into the Indian Ocean, and is placed in a position to assist in the surveillance both by air and by sea of a large expanse of this strategic area. Australia should give high priority to improving the Cocos Island facility, using rt ourselves and encouraging our friends to use it. Cocos Island can be described as Australia’s second aircraft carrier and, with the cooperation of the friendly countries that I have mentioned, Australia-
– The Russians might sink it.
– It is unsinkable - that is the point about it - and it is paid for. With the co-operation of the other friendly countries that I have mentioned, Australia can make a worthwhile contribution to the security of this area as well as to its own security.
Looking to the future, I say that the time must surely come when Australia will consider a nuclear as well as a conventional armament capacity. 1 have not any doubt that the most suitable force for Australia now and in the future is a seaborne capacity. If it is in terms of a nuclear capacity, we have the additional advantage of a second strike capability. Whatever power we possess, it must be seen by other nations to be a credible deterrent, and in my view the build-up of the Cocos Island facility would provide the proof of our determination to protect ourselves and to co-operate with our friends. The security of the whole of South East Asia would be reinforced against a nuclear China if Australia and her allies possessed a similar capacity operating from Cocos Island. One could suggest that perhaps in the future this could well be the role of the Fill with Cocos Island as its base.
In the few moments left to me I would like to make some reference to the speech last night by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) on these estimates. It was a typical diatribe of denigration shot through with typical inconsistencies and lacking a single positive courageous thought. It makes no sense to criticise the Government, as the Leader of the Opposition did. because its foreign policies have responded to changing conditions in foreign countries. Surely this is precisely the obligation of responsible government. The Opposition’s policy changes from ALP Conference to ALP Conference and relates to the power struggles which are constantly erupting within its own ranks. We have the evidence before us daily of what is happening in Victoria at the moment.
– The Liberal Party has no foreign policy.
– Our policy is well known. The Opposition’s variegated attitude towards foreign affairs is determined by the powerful union bosses who inform members, including the Leader of the Opposition, what the policy will be. These men have no responsibility to the electorate and this is why the Leader of the Opposition is reluctant to put forward any positive policy. We on this side can only guess at his policy. It seems that withdrawal of military support for our friends is part of it. Cancellation of the Fill appears to be another part, and the disintegration of our army by the abolition of national service seems to be another.
The Leader of the Opposition last night spent some time talking about Indonesia. We can all remember that the ALP was once highly critical of Indonesia, about the time that the Communists were overthrown. The Leader of the Opposition loves to proclaim his hatred of racism. Is he in one breath now advocating a closer alliance with Indonesia and two breaths later implying criticism of her? I would like him to answer that question. Or does he apply different standards to different countries? We on this side of the House would like to have closeT military cooperation with Indonesia but we realise that we must wait until Indonesia feels ready to become involved. The Leader of the Opposition should define to us just what he means by racism. If his insulting attacks upon countries such as South Africa mean racial discrimination, and if his foreign policy will be to insult countries in which he believes racial discrimination exists, he will suddenly run out of countries and he will be able to dispense altogether with the Department of External Affairs. Unfortunately his lighthearted speech and his lightheaded contents are given publicity in many countries and are damaging to Australia’s reputation, which is much more important than his. I regret that he made the comment that he made last night.
– Tonight we are debating the estimates of the
Department of External Affairs. It has been quite an interesting exercise, because we have had a range of frank statements made by members on both sides of the chamber. I would like to make some comments on those things which have been said in the last 2 speeches by members on the Government side, both being gentlemen from South Australia. I refer to the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) and the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay). I noted with interest that almost the concluding comment made by the honourable member for Angas was that he hopes the Government will not cut down the number of troops in South Vietnam until those forces have made the contribution that they can make and are about to make to the stability of Phuoc Tuy Province. I am not quite sure what the honourable member for Angas meant when he said this. Whether he was suggesting that Australian troops should remain behind in South Vietnam after the American withdrawal is completed I do not know. We know that President Nixon has set a target to have the greatest number of his troops withdrawn by halfway through 1 97 1 . I would recognise, although I do not agree with the Australian presence in South Vietnam, that our forces over there have carried out their duties in the best traditions of the Australian armed forces and I believe very sincerely that they have endeavoured to make a contribution to the welfare of those people in the province for which they have had a measure of responsibility.
I wish that the Government in the estimates we are discussing had shown some greater measure of concern for the people of South Vietnam, because what worries me, and what I am sure worries any member in this place or in the Senate who has been to South Vietnam, is the problem that remains, presuming all the things the Government claims come to pass. Let us presume that the government of South Vietnam led by President Thieu and VicePresident Ky suddenly won the hearts and minds of the people they purport to represent. Let us suppose that after the withdrawal of the forces from outside countries the Vietnamisation programme will be so successful that the South Vietnamese Government will be able to maintain control of the administration of the country. Then the vast problem would still remain of facilitating the change of the economy of South Vietnam from a wartime economy to a peacetime economy.
The thing that worried me most when I was there - and I would agree that I have not been there since 1966 - is that so much of the economy of South Vietnam is directed towards the presence of particularly the American troops stationed in that country. One knows that in all the cities one finds hamburger bars, car washing establishments and a whole range of activities associated with the presence of the American forces and, of course, 1 daresay the same applies in Phuoc Tuy Province, associated with the Australian forces, although to a somewhat more limited extent. As the military involvement in Vietnam is phased out by the United States of America and by ourselves we yet remain to see a programme of economic aid capable not only of paying the way of the Government of South Vietnam but of enabling the orderly transition of the economy of that country from the situation that we have known over the past few years to a situation perhaps similar to that which exists in South Korea in the aftermath of the Korean war.
Although these estimates provide $500,000 in special aid to South Vietnam in no way do they reflect the urgency of the problem of reconstruction and rehabilitation which still remains in that country. The honourable member for Boothby commented that we are withdrawing troops and on this he differed a little from his predecessor, the honourable member for Angas. He did not express any hope that troops would not be withdrawn but he said we would be withdrawing troops because our policies were succeeding. He then went on to a number of matters about the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. 1 would like to deal fairly briefly with some matters associated with the Pacific Ocean. In recent years we have been very much orientated towards South East Asia. This is not the work of the present Government, because it goes back to the Chifley Government when, under the ANZAM agreement, Australia and New Zealand together with Britain committed themselves to defend Malaya because they considered it to be vital to the defence of Australia. In the time that we have been oriented primarily towards South East Asia I do not feel that we have paid sufficient attention to the Pacific. The honourable member for Boothby mentioned this aspect. He expressed the view that we should take more interest in the Pacific but he said that there was no threat from that quarter in the foreseeable future.
I would stress to the Parliament, particularly the Minister for External Affairs and his Department, that notwithstanding that there is no immediate threat from the people of the Pacific, this is an area of the world in which Australia, because of its long geographical and historical associations, has a great responsibility which is not being met in the way we should meet such responsibilities. Harking back to the early days - let us not forget that we have just celebrated the bi-centenary of Captain Cook’s landing - we must realise that the missionary enterprises which settled in the Pacific were centred very largely on the small settlement established at Port Jackson in 1788. With sealing, whaling and sandalwood enterprises, and somewhat later blackbirding, followed by the establishment of the sugar industry in Queensland, Australians of that era were probably more intimately connected with the Pacific and realised more acutely their connection with the Pacific than Australians today. In this regard we are compared by the peoples of the Pacific with our sister dominion New Zealand. New Zealand has a substantial Maori population. Because of this and because of the responsibility New Zealand has for people of similar race to the Maoris in the Cook Islands, the Tokelau Islands and Niue, New Zealanders have developed firm and friendly relations with the peoples of the Pacific in a way which Australia has not been able to do. Consequently the peoples of the Pacific look upon New Zealand in rather more kindly fashion than they look upon Australia.
This Parliament is at the moment represented at the South Pacific Conference in Suva by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair), another member of this chamber and a member of the other place. This is right and proper. I regret that it is several years since we were represented at the South Pacific Conference. I hope that Australia may be represented at all future conferences because it is very important that we play a leading role in the Pacific. I would hope that we look at the needs of Pacific nations even more sympathetically in the future than we have in the past. I commend the Department for the increase in the aid programme for the South Pacific from $500,000 to $700,000 this year but I still say that the amount is too small. When compared with what we spend in other places it is patently too small.
The honourable member for Boothby dealt at some length with Russia’s penetration into the Indian Ocean. I found rather interesting - I hope I did not misinterpret what he said - his statement that 40 warships and 1 nuclear submarine were involved. My understanding is that the Russians have recently negotiated for a naval base at Socotra. I also understand that overtures made to India and Ceylon have not borne fruit and that the Russian presence in the Indian Ocean at the moment is fairly modest. I do not discount these things because 1 believe that Australia has a responsibility to maintain a defence capacity over areas adjoining the Australian mainland. I agree with many of the things which the honourable member suggested should be done, although I do not agree that the Russian involvement in the Indian Ocean is such that there is an urgency about the matter at this stage.
The honourable member suggested that we should co-operate with Indonesia and South Africa. I wonder why he omitted from his considerations our very important sister dominion of India, because, with all due respect to our Indonesian neighbours, the Indians have a navy which in the last war made a substantial contribution. If we are to co-operate with people in the Indian Ocean area, as I agree we should, we should not disregard India’s capacity to make a contribution. In the event of a threat of a third world war I do not think it would be any more difficult to get India to come to the party than it would be to persuade Indonesia to do so. I realise the difficulties associated with obtaining the co-operation of either country because of their policies of non-alignment in world affairs.
In this debate a great deal of attention has been focused on comments made by the honourable member for Wills (Mr
Bryant) about Cambodia and Vietnam. It has been said that in some way the honourable member has expressed views on Cambodia that are away from the mainstream of Labor Party thought. The honourable member for Boothby said that Labor’s policy was a mystery. I cannot understand why this should be so. One of the difficulties confronting the Labor Party, because of the way it is treated by the media, is the manner in which its policy is thrashed out in public by people who are democratically elected by the Party’s organisations in the various States. Every 2 years the Labor Party produces a booklet entitled ‘Platform, Constitution and Rules’. This is freely available. It explains the Party’s policy.
– Television cameras are admitted to our conferences.
– That is so. Our conferences are held in public. The television cameras are admitted. The press is admitted. This situation contrasts with that which exists in the Liberal Party, whose policy is not available in a similar way for public discussion. The Liberal Party’s policy is determined by faceless men who meet behind locked doors. Like all other honourable members on this side of the chamber, the honourable member for Wills is concerned about what is happening to people in Cambodia, Laos and South Vietnam. The great weaknesses in the Government’s policies in relation to this part of the world are the different values which it ascribes to those countries. If it is true that the presence of North Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam represents China sweeping down between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as we were told by former Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, it is no less true that the presence of North Vietnamese troops in Laos and Cambodia poses a similar threat to Australia. But the Government has not seen fit to involve itself in the affairs of those countries, not because the troops of North Vietnam are not there but because the forces of the United States are not officially there in the way they have been present in South Vietnam. In other words, the Government’s policy towards those countries shows inconsistency. Ours does not.
The Labor Party has opposed the involvement of outside forces in Vietnam. We want to see a government survive in South Vietnam. We hope eventually to see the 2 portions of that divided country reach a settlement satisfactory to themselves. We recognise that this is not a simple task, just as it has not been simple in Korea and Germany. On the other hand, we believe that the independence and integrity of small countries like Cambodia and Laos are important to us because we, too, are a small country. There is no hypocrisy or dichotomy on this side. The only hypocrisy and dichotomy rest on the Government side because if the reasons for which this Government involved Australia in South Vietnam are true, it has a lot of explaining to do about its different view towards Cambodia and Laos.
Uranium - National Health scheme - Meat Diversification Scheme - Commonwealth and State Financial Relations - Dried Fruits Stabilisation Plan - Sport
– Order! It being 11 o’clock p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 26th August I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
– With Australia on the threshold of entering the field of nuclear power and in the light of the recent discovery of high grade uranium ore at the Nabarlek prospect in the Northern Territory, the time is opportune, I believe, for the Government to adopt a standard policy for the exploration and utilisation of our uranium deposits. Nabarlek, with its indicated reserves of 55,000 tons of uranium with ore grades averaging as high as 540 lb to a ton, puts Australia in a unique position as we have a supply of high grade uranium oxide that could be realised for something around one-fifth of the cost of uranium oxide produced overseas. Queensland Mines Ltd, the holder of the Nabarlek leases, could out-compete any mine overseas for the supply of uranium oxide and in fact could disastrously undercut its nearest competitor and still secure a handsome profit. Already the pressures have been applied for the export of Nabarlek uranium. Sir Phillip Baxter, the Chairman of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, is reported to have already discussed the Nabarlek find with representatives of the Japanese Science Technology Agency who no doubt see the Nabarlek strike as a reliable source for the massive uranium needs of Japan’s nuclear power programme. The Atomic Energy Act 1953-1966 confers on Sir Phillip Baxter, as Chairman of the AAEC, power to negotiate for the exploration, treatment and sale of uranium.
To date there has not been any accurate assessment of Australia’s uranium needs nor a reconciliation of those needs with our proven reserves. Uranium is the key to the world’s power supply and with the serious depletion of fossil fuel reserves I believe the Government should exercise such controls as would guarantee all our future needs. For example, the Nabarlek find would give Australia a nuclear fuel supply for only 25 power stations the size of the Jervis Bay project for a period of only 30 years. The Government’s present uranium export policy is atrociously weak as there is no statutory export limit. Only recently permission was given for the export of 2,700 tons by Mary Kathleen Uranium. I believe we should not allow exploration companies to reap the benefits of Australia’s natural resources purely and simply because they have found them. The principle should be that Australia’s natural wealth belongs to the people of Australia and not to the shareholders of uranium exploration companies. To be fair, I consider we should meet the exploration costs incurred by companies exploring for minerals and then allow them a fair profit on the sale of the natural product for Australia’s own use.
At the moment quite a number of exploration companies are prospecting for uranium in Australia - Queensland Mines Ltd, Mary Kathleen Uranium Ltd, PekoWallsend, E.Z. Industries, Westmoreland, Exoil-Transoil, Petomin and United Uranium, to name but a few. The Australian Atomic Energy Commission under the powers conferred on it by the Atomic Energy Act could prospect for uranium itself if the Government would grant it the necessary finance. This would obviate the problem of having commercial exploration companies trying to cash in on the country’s resources. I should also point out that the Bureau of Mineral Resources carries out all the costly geophysical mapping of Australia at Government expense and then exploration companies secure the information and direct their operations accordingly. Many overseas firms are amazed at the information given freely by the Bureau, information that other governments would regard as classified. If the Government goes so far with the Bureau why does it not go a little further and do the whole job?
The Bureau some time ago mapped the area where the Queensland Mines Nabarlek prospect now is and advised companies to prospect there. It appears that a nurse in Darwin got wind of the information, took up leases and later convinced Queensland Mines to explore the area. Queensland Mines is a company owned and controlled by Australians and I would not like to see this company fall prey to any foreign company including the Rio Tinto Zinc group, which controls most of the uranium sales in the western world. Rio Tinto-Zinc Corporation Limited of the United Kingdom which is itself owned by the European-based Rothschild banking organisation owns 83.6 per cent of Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Limited, commonly known as CRA, which in turn owns 51 per cent of Mary Kathleen Uranium, the company that recently secured permission from the Government for the export of 2,700 short tons of uranium. Rio Tinto-Zinc Corporation Limited owns the Rio Algom mine in Canada, one of the world’s major uranium suppliers. It also owns Riofinex, its South African Uranium subsidiary. Rio Tinto-Zinc’s boardroom policy, which, of course, is decided overseas, has already had a decisive impact upon the production of uranium in Australia.
The Queensland Mines Nabarlek strike could threaten the Rio Tinto monopoly and Rio Tinto will now move to strangle the independence of the Queensland Mines operation. CRA, as Rio Tinto-Zinc’s agent, could attempt to take over Kathleen Investments Limited which has a 50 per cent equity in Queensland Mines. Kathleen Investments also holds 35 per cent of Mary Kathleen Uranium which is now jointly owned and controlled, as I said before, by CRA. I am quite certain that Kathleen Investments would be none too agreeable with the idea of being taken over by CRA. Nevertheless, anything from 30 per cent upwards equity interest in Kathleen Investments could amount to effective control of the company. As both Kathleen Investments and Queensland Mines Limited are incorporated in the ACT, the Federal Government would have the power to step in should there be any rapid increase in the nominee shareholdings in either company and I would recommend this course to the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) and the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton).
Even in the short time since the Queensland Mine discovery the value of Mary Kathleen Uranium shares have been depressed from $3.80 to something approximating $2.50 and this company does have a production contract. On this single score alone CRA would have reason to move in for the kill. Of course, it must not be forgotten that Rio Tinto has already had two attempts to thwart Kathleen Investments interests - one in 1958 and one in 1965 - but both moves were unsuccessful. In 1958 Rio Tinto went to the High Court in an endeavour to stop an Australian Company, Australian Oil Exploration Ltd, from selling its holdings in Mary Kathleen Uranium Ltd to Kathleen Investments Ltd, then known as Mary Kathleen Investments. Fortunately the High Court ruled against Rio Tinto, and Kathleen Investments took up the Australian Oil Exploration shareholding in Mary Kathleen Uranium. Rio Tinto, through its subsidiary CRA, came again in 1965 with a share offer that was rejected by Kathleen Investments, thereby preventing CRA acquiring control of MKU at that time. It is an indictment on any Government for it to have no legislative control against foreign owned corporations taking over Australian resources and having to rely on the Prime Minister’s whim to ‘fire from the hip’ when he sees fit. If the Prime Minister fails ‘to fire’ this time then we may lose control of this important uranium deposit.
I believe the following should be done: Firstly, the Government to take immediate action to see that Queensland Mines be not taken over by any foreign group; secondly, the Government closely control all uranium exports ensuring at all times that Australia has adequate deposits in reserve; thirdly, the Government to convene a conference of all State Attorneys-General to amend the company laws to ensure that
Australian resources remain in the control of Australians; fourthly, the Atomic Energy Commission, in conjunction with the Bureau of Mineral Resources, to actively engage itself in the exploration and mining of uranium; and, fifthly, the Government to investigate and report to Parliament on the activities of the Rothchild’s backed Rio Tinto Zinc Group and its subsidiaries and its attempts to gain control of our uranium resources. If the steps I have outlined are taken then 1 am certain that the problems presented by the Nabarlek strike will not occur again in the future.
I commend the thoughts I have expressed to the Parliament, to the Prime Minister and to the Minister for National Development. I sincerely hope that they heed my words, because we have a very serious position. It is a position . that we will see more and more when we find strikes of the quality and size of the Nabarlek strike falling prey to merchant banks operating under the guise of legitimate business corporations. It is time that this Government did something to check the activities within the Australian economy of merchant banks which are owned and controlled overseas, which disguise their shareholdings and which set up corporations in Australia to take over supposedly legitimately, businesses, companies and industries where we do not require their capital and where we have the skills. This is something that is operating to the detriment of the Australian people and I believe that this Government has not done enough to try to control it. I certainly hope in this instance that the Prime Minister does take action and do something similar to what he did in the MLC case.
– I will only keep the House for a couple of minutes. While I do not agree with many of the things the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) said I do appreciate the study he has made of a subject that is fairly important at the moment. I have had the opportunity to have some discussions with Queensland Mines Limited today and we had the benefit of assistance from many members of the Press Gallery after our discussions. No doubt quite a few comments that emerged from that discussion will appear in the Press tomorrow.
But at this time I think 1 can reaffirm what the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) said in answer to a question today in relation to foreign ownership. There will be a further statement made in the near future on this subject and it will clarify the whole situation. There is little I can say in relation to the measurable reserves of the 2 companies, Peko-Wallsend Ltd and Queensland Mines Ltd, at the moment. We are in the process of discussing these matters with them and we would expect that it would bc some time before we have final details of all the reserves that can be actually measured. But there has been sufficient indication that the deposits are substantial enough for us to make any decision that would be required in relation to export policy.
The present export policy is sufficiently flexible to deal with the situation and with the reserves being at the limit they are, or have already been proven, if contracts are obtained overseas the applications will be considered on their merits when they are submitted to me. But at this time I can only say that I know that at least one company is considering obtaining overseas contracts for the export of uranium from the new deposits and I would expect in the fairly near future - within a matter of the next few months - that some submissions would be made for consideration. All the points that have been mentioned regarding protecting our own requirements for the future, the extent of the reserves and the other policy matters that are taken into consideration under our existing export policy will, of course, be applied in these cases. At this time it is too early to say anything beyond that but at a later point when something more definite is known I will inform the House as fully as I can.
– I would like to take only a couple of moments to raise 3 anomalies in the new health scheme. The reason I am doing this on the adjournment rather than at question time is that it would be a little too involved and would mean giving information which I realise, Mr Speaker, you do not like us to do at question time. The first matter deals with the fact that a number of refunds have decreased under the new scheme. The first item I mention is one which tends to recur in the treatment of patients who are on anti-coagulant therapy - in other words, patients who may have bad a thrombosis or a coronary occlusion. These patients would be on anticoagulant therapy for some considerable time. They would be on the kind of anticoagulant that would make it necessary for them to be checked regularly by a pathology test called pro-thrombin estimation. The refund is now $3.50; the previous refund was $4.50. The most common fee is $5, so we have a difference now of $1.50. Most of these patients are elderly and are receiving superannuation and so on. They would have these tests done once a week or sometimes even more often and this is a significant item. I feel that some attempt should be made to improve the refund when the Government reviews the National Health Act. In addition, in New South Wales outpatients were previously charged a reduced rate of the order of $3 and received 90 per cent of that back. This meant a net cost to them of 30c. They are now charged the full rate and they are told that since this excellent new scheme was introduced by the Government there is no reason why they should not be charged the full rate of $5, even though they are outpatients.
The second matter I would like to raise is the refund for an unreferred visit to a specialist. The refund is now $2.20; previously it was $2.60. The anomaly is not only that there is a reduction of the refund but that the refund for attending a general practitioner, obviously without any referral, is $2.70. Yet when one sees a specialist unreferred one receives a refund of only $2.20. If the patient could pretend that the doctor he saw was not a specialist but a general practitioner he would get more back. This is a ridiculous approach and I feel that at the very least an unreferred attendance to a specialist should attract the same refund as an attendance, again unreferred, to a general practitioner, namely $2.70.
Finally, under the new system of classifying specialists a narrower view has been taken of specialists who were previously considered to be physicians. Under the scheme a refund is paid for a professional attendance by a specialist in the practice of his specialty, which is fair enough. A patient could attend a specialist physician, a person who has a high degree - he could be a member of the Royal Australian Col lege of Physicians - and no matter for what medical condition he attended the patient would receive the refund at the specialist rate. A number of these specialist physicians have now been further classified on a narrower basis. They may, for instance, be classified as rheumatologists. A rheumatologist is still a specialist physician but when he sees a patient for, for example, a chest condition, that patient is not entitled to the specialist refund. This makes a very great difference in the patient’s refund. If a patient sees a consulting physician there is a refund of $17 for the first consultation and for second and subsequent consultations there is a refund of $7. The refund now is only $2.70. This seems a fantastic sort of approach. It causes quite a lot of hardship to people who are suffering from chronic conditions and have to attend a specialist physician on numerous occasions. The specialist who has now been reclassified, for example, as a rheumatologist, is perfectly qualified to treat them for their cardiac condition in a specialist capacity. I would urge the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) when these matters come to his notice to ask his Department to reconsider the proposition that certain doctors are classified in a very narrow specialty.
– I wish to raise a matter which concerns the north and on which there is agreement by everyone in the north. I refer to the operation of the meat diversification scheme. For honourable members who are not familiar with the scheme let me explain. The United States of America is a large producer and consumer of beef. Most of the prime beef consumed in the United States is produced there. Few imports from outside are permitted. The beef producers in America have organised into a very powerful lobby to see that this remains so. However, the United States does import coarser grades of beef such as third grade beef or manufacturing beef, which is minced and used for hamburgers. This beef is imported from many countries, and Australia is one of the principal suppliers. It is this market which has traditionally taken more than 93 per cent of the total meat produced in the far north, in the Kimberley area and the Top End of the Northern Territory. In this area cattle take 5 to 7 years to reach a killing weight of 500 or 600 lb against, say, 2 to 3 years in the south. Consequently the meat is tough and generally unsuitable for export, except as manufacturing beef for which the only significant market is the United States. There is almost no local market in this area as there is for producers in the south and along the eastern coast.
Several years ago the prices paid in the United States for manufacturing beef began to exceed those paid for prime beef in Europe and Japan. So southern meat producers who traditionally had exported to these areas or sold to the large domestic markets available to them began to switch their exports to the American market. The Australian Meat Board which had to ensure that Australia did not export more than the permitted quota to the United States then came up with the meat diversification scheme whereby, to earn the right to export to America, a producer had to export an equivalent amount to other markers. This meant that southern producers who had always exported to nonEuropean markets had all the export credits while northern exporters who traditionally exported only to the United States had virtually none. Since their beef was not of a quality which could be exported elsewhere they had no opportunity to earn any credits.
During the operation of the scheme the 5 export abattoirs at Darwin, Katherine, Wyndham, Broome and Derby have to spend almost $2m a year buying export credits to sell to their only substantial and traditional market in the United States, while southern producers who have never exported to the United States and some, for that matter, who never will, can receive that amount without lifting a finger. I have taken this problem to the Minister and he has pointed out that - largely on his own initiative, I know - the Australian Meat Board has given some recognition to the special difficulties faced in the north. The area has been given a quota so that it can sell the beef produced there. But it still has to buy its credits from other exporters. I know that the Northern Territory has now been given representation on the Meat Board. I know that the Government, quite rightly, is anxious not to interfere with the operations of an independent statutory authority, but 1 ask the Minister to draw to the attention of the Board the particular circumstances which exist in the north.
From a national point of view the situation seems quite unrealistic. Each year this Government spends millions of dollars on such things as beef roads and the Darwin harbour to develop the north, and yet a $2m a year surcharge is imposed on the beef industry merely to sell the beef produced there to the only market on which it can be sold. This does not affect only exporters; it affects producers as well and all those who depend on the industry for their livelihood. Ultimately it will affect all those in the north. Recent discussions between cattlemen and management, and a close study of production costs showed that the diversification scheme greatly reduced the price that could be paid for cattle, from $12 to $18 a head. Many growers are so dissatisfied with the present operation of the scheme that they are not turning off the same number of cattle as previously. 1 have been told that the expected kill in some abattoirs will be down by 1 0 per cent this year.
Surely the best way to market our beef from a national point of view is to sell it to get the best total price for Australia. Prime beef diverted from the European market to America cannot be replaced by the export of third grade beef from the north. It only means that from a national point of view we lose a sale which we could otherwise make to Europe without gaining any additional sales to America. All groups in my electorate believe that tha meat diversification scheme discriminates unfairly against the north. I refer not only to exporters, but also to the cattlemen, the legislative councillors, the Press and I am sure some of the senior men in the Administration. The North Australian Cattlemen’s Association is on record as stating that it will call for a Legislative Council inquiry into the scheme, and I believe that that inquiry will be supported by all.
The Australian Meat Board admits that special circumstances exist in the north but it claims that if it makes exceptions in that area the scheme will collapse. My view is that if the scheme cannot be adjusted to meet special circumstances, it should be done away with. Why does not the Board issue export licences to sell Australia’s meat where best it can and do away with credit exports altogether? It would be more equitable, less complicated, and it would not prejudice the development of the north. The only ones who would object are the southern exporters who are profiteering out of their traditional sales to Europe and Japan at the expense of those who cannot produce the beef of a quality suitable for export there. I sum up by saying that I do not believe that exempting the north, which exports about 5 per cent of the total from the diversification scheme, would wreck the scheme. If it did. the scheme does not deserve to survive. I ask the Minister to use his good offices to draw attention to the special case existing in the north for total exemption from the diversification scheme.
– Although the hour is late, I want to raise a matter that I have not had an opportunity to bring to the attention of the House previously. It is a matter of importance not merely to my electorate of Adelaide but to the whole of my State, South Australia, and, I believe, to Australia in general. I refer to the announcement by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) at question time in this House the week before last, that the Commonwealth Grants Commission had recommended an initial grant of $5m to my State and, if I may say so facetiously, the Government had graciously agreed to this recommendation. This is just one more episode in what I call the tragic drama which is known as Commonwealth-State financial relations.
We are conducting important affairs of this country in a chaotic way, and it is my intention to bring this matter to the attention of the House, even at late hours such as this, on every possible occasion. Whilst this Liberal-Country PartyDemocratic Labor Party coalition is going from one crisis to another, whilst we move from one seemingly inevitable ad hoc decision to another, the people of Australia are suffering. No attempt is being made to assess their true priorities, and their real needs are suffering.
The previous significant episode in this drama of Commonwealth-State relations was the last Premiers’ Conference and Loan Council meeting which took place in this chamber on 25th and 26th June. This was an important occasion - or rather it should have been. It was the occasion for renegotiating the financial agreement for the next 5 years. The House will remember that there had been a special meeting of the Premiers earlier in the year to decide what should be their approach. There had been much speculation in the media as to whether the income taxing powers should be returned to the States or whether wc should adopt something approaching the Canadian formula. Now was the time to take a major step in clearing up this mess, to solve this wrangle, to do away with or to put a stop to what has become a charade - the grandstanding which takes place at regular intervals and which goes by the name of Premiers’ Conferences and Loan Council meetings.
What we got at the last charade was little more than we got at the previous ones. The headlines of the newspapers tell the story. If I may, 1 will quote from my own State’s ‘Adelaide Advertiser’, which is typical of the story throughout Australia. It carried the following headlines: ‘Oliver Twist South Australia Gets Lousy Deal’; Hard Way to Get Money’; ‘Dunstan Lashes at Prime Minister’s Bias’; ‘Receipts Tax Assured’; ‘Canberra’s Final “No” to States’; Mr Hall is Sorry at South Australia’s Slice’, and so it goes on. 1 have to ask the question: Do we have to go on putting up with this? Is this the best we can do for the Australian people? 1 just do not believe that al] of this charading is necessary, and if the Government charged with the task of governing this country at the present time can do no better it is up to honourable members on both sides of this House to goad it into doing so. If this is what happens in a most important year when that financial agreement is being renegotiated, then what on earth can we expect in following years? What hope can we offer the Australian people that these important affairs of State, the provision of the necessary funds for the States to discharge their responsibilities, will be decided on a more rational basis in future years?
Before turning to what I consider should be done in place of the charade I want to highlight one of the disgraceful by-products of the last meeting which gave rise to the Commonwealth Grants Commission announcement in the week before last. I am, of course, referring to the treatment of my own State, South Australia. Having attempted to buy off the demands of the States - honourable members will remember the increase in the base grant and the betterment factor, the grants to meet debt charges and the interest free capital grants to reduce the crippling State debts, all of this in addition to the extra money vitally needed to balance State Budgets which would have been forthcoming anyway from the old formula - having fatuously attempted to solve the basic problem of Commonwealth State relations merely by offering more money, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and his Treasurer (Mr Bury) merely found the old deep rooted problems still existing and the State Premiers still asking for more money. What happened at this stage? Queensland deservedly got $2m each year for the 5 years added to its base grant. Victoria and New South Wales also got, with justification, an extra $2 per head of population to help those States with their problems. In addition, Sir Henry Bolte received an ex gratia payment of $10m in the old financial year as a political gesture to help reduce an incompetently huge 1969- 70 deficit in that State. Western Australia was able to continue to receive at least part of its special grant which it had been enjoying since it left the category of claimant State. Tasmania, of course, continued to be a claimant State and so did not have to do much grandstanding nor did it have a lot to worry about.
In relation to South Australia, Kenneth Davidson in an article in the ‘Australian’ stated:
Ti the Prime Minister did not exactly tell Premier Dunstan to go to hell, he at least told him to go to the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
This polite piece of advice was tendered in the context of what is common knowledge, namely, that the Treasury had recommended that South Australia should receive up to $3m. This was a gratuitous insult to my State and is bitterly resented. It is now also common knowledge that the bluff was called. South Australia did go to the Commonwealth Grants Commission on 3rd August. After thinking about the Commission’s recommendations for almost 4 weeks this Liberal-Country Party Government had to eat humble pie and reluctantly agree to make available not $3m but $5m. I hasten to add that this is only an interim amount. Every precedent tells us that when the accounts of the State for the year 1970-71 are examined by the Grants Commission in the following year the amount will be increased. So from a position where the Prime Minister told Premier Dunstan in June that he did not think that my State was at any disability, the injustice has now been partly redressed and it has cost the Government at least another $2m to do so. This $2m, I am glad to say, has been put to good use in the State budget which was brought down almost 2 weeks ago in the South Australian Parliament by my State Labor colleagues. 1 consider that this ignoble shocking episode should be recorded in this House as one of the many low water marks in this chaotic state of CommonwealthState financial relations. Honourable members know that I have not just done this for political reasons. The Adelaide Press has probably gone to bed and will be full of other things such as escaped convicts.
I have raised this subject to galvanise opinion on both sides of this House to the point of view that the people of Australia deserve better than they are getting in this as in so many other spheres. Improvements in this area can best be carried out only if both major political parties will do something about agreeing on a solution. The State politicians also are vital ingredients in the solution - Labor politicians as well as Liberal ones. We do have a State Labor Government in South Australia and soon there will be more Labor governments. I know that eventually it is only this Parliament which can bring about fundamental changes and that a successful referendum result is also vital. But surely now is the time to start on this campaign. Is it not necessary to arrive at a consensus solution to these great problems? Many of the differences are emotional only. Most people would agree that broad policy guidelines must be laid down in this Parliament, but that the closer the administration of these problems is to the people the better it is for the people. We had great conventions at the turn of the century. From diametrically opposed positions our forefathers found a consensus. Although the conventions are not necessary for the law-making process today, would they not be decidedly valuable in the process of arriving at a common position, in educating public opinion to a sensible point of view? The needs of the people are great. The present system is failing them. It is not just a matter of finance. The breakdown in the functions between the Commonwealth and the States is out of date and ridiculous. For goodness sake let us start to improve the situation by getting together and doing something positive about a solution.
and his officers it was arranged that a poll of growers be held. This was held early in 1970. In the Forty-sixth Annual Report of the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board for the year 1969-70 a breakdown of the voting in the referendum is shown. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard tables showing the breakdown in voting.
The report sums up the voting in this way:
A large proportion of growers (nearly 35 per cent) did not take the trouble to vote.
Of those whose votes were admitted as valid, 1,578 voted in favour and 859 voted against the plan.
– How many informals?
– The report continues:
For the plan to be implemented required a substantial majority of those entitled to vote to be in favour. As this condition was not reached the plan was defeated.
I have been asked by way of interjection how many people voted informally. The table to which 1 have referred shows that 9 votes were rejected as informal and 84 votes were rejected for other reasons. The dried fruit industry is very precarious, hs most people engaged in it know. They never know what a crop will yeild until it is in the packing sheds. Sometimes the markets are uneven and dried fruit growers never know what return they will receive for their fruit. It is highly essential that the industry have a stabilisation plan. To a certain extent it was because of apathy that a sufficient number of growers did not vote. As has been shown, the number who did vote were by a large majority in favour of the scheme. But the plan was not accepted because of apathy and because some members of the dried fruit community put the tale about and told growers at meetings that if they rejected this plan they would get a better one. I ask the Minister for Primary Industry to cooperate as well as he can with the Australian Dried Fruits Association with a view to giving growers another chance to approve a scheme by means of a poll of growers. I ask that this be done as soon as possible. Dried vine fruit growers must assure that their industry is stabilised. They cannot afford to be in their present position. I look forward to a new poll. If it comes about then I believe that sufficient growers this time will vote in favour of the scheme.
– Shortly after I came to this place I spoke in the adjournement debate about the proposed Springbok tour of Australia next year. I quoted from an article in the ‘Australian’, which stated that 4 members of the previous Wallaby team which toured South Africa had made a detailed statement opposing the proposed tour. I delivered copies of that particular statement to every honourable member and to the Press. The original 4 players who came out in opposition to the tour were Dr Paul Darvenzia, Barry McDonald, Jim Roxburgh and Bruce Taafe. Those 4 have been joined by 2 more members of that Wallaby team, Anthony Abrahams and Terry Forman, and by Jim Boyce, a member of the previous team.
Since then a most significant thing happened. This week in New South Wales one of the most distinguished members of the rugby union fraternity, Mr Brian Palmer, a former coach of the Australian team, came out in opposition to the tour. This is significant because this man is held in high esteem by the rugby union community. He is a man in his early 70s and he is a life member of the New South Wales Rugby Union. This is what he said:
I am against the tour. For years I have been preaching to kids all over Australia about this great game of ours. I have told them they will not make a cent out of playing it but they will join the greatest brotherhood in the world where everybody is the same and colour, class and creed do not exist. I cannot go back on what I have told them. I could not watch the Springboks. It would be against my principles.
I do not know Brian Palmer but I know of him. I am sure you would know him also, Mr Speaker, because I understand you are a follower of the game, as are many people in New South Wales. Brian Palmer would be known to anybody who follows rugby union.
I am trying to approach this question, as are all those who are opposed to the tour, in the most rational possible way. We do not support violence. We do not want to demonstrate. We have tried to prevent the tour by writing letters and taking part in discussions. Quite a number of other people who oppose the tour have tried to create dialogue and I understand that the rugby union organisation is calling a special meeting to discuss the matter. One of the reasons for questioning the advisability of the tour is the possibility of demonstrations and violence. I want to put my own view forward. I would not demonstrate at any sporting match. Possibly I would protest but I would certainly not do what was threatened on the occasion of the last cricket tour of England by South Africa. I would oppose those who seek to ruin a game of football or cricket. I want an intelligent discussion about this matter before it gets to the stage reached on similar tours in other countries. Most of the people who oppose this tour are intelligent and rational human beings. We do not want to see the stage reached where more radical elements will join, for motives of their own, those who oppose the tour and will seek to break up cricket and football matches. There are many genuine people in this group but there may be a few who may go too far.
I have been involved in sporting activities for too long to want to see this sort of thing happen. For many years before becoming a member of this place I was involved in semi-professional and professional sport. I played rugby union, cricket, squash, golf and other sports. I do not want to see the great game of rugby union spoiled by demonstrations of this nature. I feel that the rugby union officials should take the opportunity to talk with those who have expressed opposition. More and more rugby union players are expressing their opposition to the tour taking place. These fellows are not radicals. They belong to what we term the establishment. Rugby union is a game for people who belong to the establishment; it is not a game for the general working class, as is rugby league and that funny game they play in Victoria. It is a game which is mainly played and fostered in the private schools of New South Wales. However, I admit that many people who play it are not members of the establishment.
As I said earlier, we ought to take this opportunity to have a rational discussion about the proposed tour of Australia by the Springboks. Those who argue against stopping the tour say that sport should not be mixed with politics. I do not know how they can come to such double thinking, but it is absolutely incredible that they can. I shall read from a pamphlet which I have in front of me on this subject. I want to see a member of the Liberal-Country Party coalition express his opposition to the tour. The reason why it is thought that the tour should be cancelled is set out by the 9 players I have named in the pamphlet I have in front of me. Everyone is asked to sign the pamphlet in support of the request for cancellation of the tour. I understand that Mr Palmer will sign it. The Premier of South Australia and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) have already signed it. I shall sign it. Quite a number of the honourable members on this side of the chamber - almost all of them - will sign it, too. I would like to see some honourable members opposite expressing their attitude to democracy by signing this document.I shall quote from it in the time I have left to me. It is headed ‘An Appeal to Rugby Players, Officials and Supporters’. The pamphlet states:
We have all played football for Australia and there are 2 things that we have in common.
We have all toured South Africa with a Wallaby rugby union team.
As a result of what we saw in South Africa, we would not play against South Africa again, under present conditions.
Under the Sub-heading of ‘Apartheid and Sport’ it states:
Apartheid sets out to divide and humiliate nonwhite people in South Africa, and apartheid policies are rigidly applied in sport This means:
Non-whites in South Africa can only compete against other non-whites.
Non-white spectators are segregated - in severely limited sub-standard wired enclosures.
Under the sub-heading of ‘Australia and South Africa’ it states:
Australia, by sending teams to South Africa and welcoming all-white Springbok teams here, is strengthening the hand of the supporters of apartheid.
The next sub-heading is ‘Non-White Rugby in South Africa’. The pamphlet states:
The President of the Cape Coloured Rugby Union, in 1969 expressed the desire of his nonwhite union to play against Australia. He regretted that this was not possible in his own country.
And so it goes on. I would be happy to provide any honourable member on the other side of the chamber with a copy of this pamphlet if he wishes to read it. I would like to see members of the LiberalCountry Party coalition sign it and show that they are sincere when they talk about democracy and freedom. Australia has sent troops to Vietnam to defend the democracy of the South Vietnamese people. On the other hand, we constantly hear honourable members on the other side of the House singing the praises of the South Africans and the Rhodesians. We heard one honourable member do so tonight. Once again it was the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay). He is always praising the South Africans. In a speech on defence I outlined in detail the oppressive laws which exist in South Africa. Almost every single right which is supposedly available to humanity as a result of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights has been denied to certain people in South Africa. Let us hear the views of an honourable member opposite on this subject. I am not trying to score a political point. There is no point in trying to do so because my remarks will not be reported in the Press. I would be delighted if just one honourable member opposite would express his support on the subject. I have asked privately one or two honourable members opposite - I will not mention any names - who have at some stage expressed views against the policy of the South African Government and against this tour, to sign it but they were not prepared to do so. I would like to see just one honourable member sign it to prove that not only are the Australian Labor Party and a few other people concerned but also the whole nation is concerned about the proposed tour of Australia by the Springboks.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.50 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Junior Science Curricula (Question No. 1422)
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Yes - New South Wales has joined with the other States and the Commonwealth in the Australian Science Education Project. New South Wales has participated in the Project’s Committee of Management from the first meeting of the Committee, on 21st-22nd June 1969.
National Parks (Question No. 1456)
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The fourth Ministerial Conference on National Parks was held in Melbourne on 13th and 14th August 1970. The official minutes of the Conference are not yet available.
The Conference did not reach any formal decisions about future legislative action. It did, however, reach agreement and made recommendations on a number of matters relating to the planning and management of National Parks. These included:
Agreement on a definition of the term National Parks’. This will assist cooperation between the various States and Territories in the planning and administration of national parks.
Agreement on the importance of work being carried out in some States and Territories in surveying appropriate areas to determine their potential as future national parks.
Agreement that the use of fire in national parks has a place in the management of Australian flora and fauna habitats.
Agreement on the importance of developing wilderness areas in national parks. Such areas to be accessible by foot only and restrictions to be imposed on any form of construction within a wilderness area.
The Conference recommended that a study be made of appropriate methods of eradication of feral cats, goats and pigs from national parks. This matter will be referred to the C.S.I.R.O. for investigation.
The Conference also recommended that New South Wales should provide a permanent Secretariat for future Ministerial Conferences on national parks.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
What are the names of the sixty-six or so Acts which may need to be amended if the Commonwealth Superior Court is established (Hansard, 10 September 1969, page 1141).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The Minister for Air has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
To provide a consolidated answer in the detail sought would not be possible without disclosing classified information. However the following information can be provided:
Where possible, RAAF units having similar functions or requiring similar facilities are located together and the geographic locations are known as RAAF bases. There is no fixed rule in relation to the number of units on a base. There are also a number of miscellaneous units of various sizes not located on RAAF bases. Thirty-five of such units are located in the metropolitan areas of the
State capital cities. There are 95 other units in Australia on RAAF bases. There are 21 RAAF units overseas.
The main RAAF bases in Australia are located at Townsville, Amberley, Toowoomba, Williamtown, Richmond, Kingswood, Fairbaira, Wagga, Dubbo, Sale, Point Cook, Laverton, Edinburgh, Pearce and Darwin.
There are over 22,000 personnel in the RAAF of whom almost 3,000 are located in the metropolitan areas of the State capital cities. There are approximately 2,200 personnel overseas. The remainder, in rounded figures and by States are as follows:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Elections (Question No. 1677)
asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice:
Why are the names of political parties represented by candidates in Parliamentary elections in Australia not shown on the ballot papers.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act do not provide for the political affiliation of candidates to be shown on the ballot-paper.
Elections (Question No. 1678)
asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Except in respect of the United Kingdom,I am unable to add to the answer that I gave to Question No. 141 which appears in Hansard dated 10th June 1970.
Under the United Kingdom Representation of the People Act (as amended in 1969), a description of a candidate, not exceeding six words in length, may be stated in the nomination paper and printed on the ballot-papers. As the Act does not now prohibit reference to a candidate’s political activities, the description may include the candidate’s political affiliation.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Adelaide- 7th-8th July 1969.
Sydney- 15th September 1969.
Sydney- 2nd-3rd February 1970.
Mt Hagen- 29th-30th June 1970.
ADELAIDE 7-8 July 1969
Drought - Commonwealth, Territory and State
Devaluation - Effects on Rural Industries - Commonwealth Action
Wheat Industry Proposals - Commonwealth and State Action
Cotton Industry - Commonwealth and State Action
Dried Vine Fruits- Stabilisation Scheme - Commonwealth Action
First Shipping Date for Granny Smith Apples - Commonwealth and State Action
Meat Inspection- Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Reconstruction of the Dairy Industry - Commonwealth and State Action
Dairy Industry Equalisation - Commonwealth Action
Margarine - Commonwealth Action
Interstate dealings in Milk - State Action
Imitation Milk - State Action
Poultry Industry - CEMA- Commonwealth and State Action
Excess Water in Frozen Chickens - State and Territory Action
Broiler Stabilisation Scheme - State Action
Control of Multi-Resistant Cattle Ticks in Queensland - State and Territory Action
Brucellosis and Tuberculosis - Financial Aspects - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Tractor Testing - Commonwealth and State Action
Co-Ordinating Committee on Pesticides - Report - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Fourteenth International Congress of Entomology - Commonwealth and State Action
Fifteenth Session FAO Conference - Australian Representation - Commonwealth and State Action
asked the Minister for
Primary Industry, upon notice:
What requests or suggestions were made at the first meeting of the Australian Fisheries Council for legislative or administrative action by (a) the Commonwealth, (b) the Territories and (c) the States.
Proposals by the Australian Wheat Growers’ Fed eration - Commonwealth and State Action
Drought - Commonwealth, Territory and State
Devaluation - Commonwealth Action
Reconstruction of the Dairy Industry - Commonwealth and State Action
Dairy Industry - Equalisation - Commonwealth Action
Export Quality of Dairy Products - Commonwealth and State Action
Imitation Milk - State Action
Imitation Meat - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Margarine - Commonwealth and State Action
Soiled Sheep for Slaughter - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Poultry Industry - Commonwealth and State Action
Wheat - Commonwealth and State Action
Cotton Marketing - Commonwealth and State Action
Tobacco Industry - Commonwealth and State Action
Commonwealth Grape Advisory Committee - Commonwealth and State Action
Vegetable Oil Seeds Industry - Commonwealth and State Action
Excess Water in Frozen Chickens - Territory and State Action
Canned Fruit Industry - Commonwealth Action
National Rabbit Eradication Campaign - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Control of Multi-Resistant Cattle Tick- State Action
Commonwealth Extension Services Grant - Commonwealth and State Action
Uniform Aerial Spraying Control LegislationState Action
Co-Ordinating Committee on Pesticides - ReportState Action
Standing Committee on Soil Conservation - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Animal Quarantine Station and Maximum Security Virus Laboratory- Commonwealth and State Action
Brucellosis and Tuberculosis - Commonwealth and State Action
Vesicular Diseases - Plans of States and Territories - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Exotic Diseases of Animals - Commonwealth/State Financial Arrangements - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Assistance to Indonesia - Commonwealth Action
Interstate Movement of Livestock - Trans Australia Standard Gauge Railway - Commonwealth and State Action
Export Control - Stockfeed - Commonwealth and State Action
Plant Quarantine - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Fresh Fruit Disinfestation Committee - Commonwealth and State Action
Financial Support for the Control of Legume Inoculant Quality in Australia - Commonwealth and State Action
Tractor Testing - Commonwealth and State Action
Drought - Commonwealth, Territory and State
Devaluation - Commonwealth Action
Economic Projection for the Australian Rural Sector - Commonwealth Action
Margarine - Commonwealth and State Action
Soiled Sheep for Slaughter - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Poultry Industry - CEMA - Commonwealth Action
Pig Industry Research Scheme- Commonwealth and State Action
Wheat Industry- Commonwealth and State Action
Cotton Industry - Commonwealth and State Action
Tobacco - Commonwealth and State Action
Commonwealth Grape Advisory CommitteeCommonwealth and State Action
Co-Ordinating Committee on Pesticides - Commonwealth and State Action
Financial Support for the Control of Legume Inoculant Quality in Australia- Commonwealth and State Action
International Seed Testing Association CongressCommonwealth and State Action
Release of Unregistered Cereal Varieties- Commonwealth and State Action
Maximum Security Animal Disease Laboratory and Animal Quarantine Station- Commonwealth and State Action
Commonwealth Extension Services Grant - Commonwealth Action
Special Research Projects - Commonwealth Action
Control of Multi-Resistant Cattle Ticks- Commonwealth. Territory and State Action
Animal Diseases - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Imitation Meat - Commonwealth Action
Australian Fisheries Council (Question No. 1471)
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The following matters requiring legislative or administrative action were considered by the Australian Fisheries Council at its first meeting:
Standing Committee on Fisheries - Terms of Reference - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action.
Standing Committee on Fisheries - Rules of Procedure - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action.
Funds for Research, Education, Extension and Development of the Fishing Industry - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action.
Australian-Japanese Fisheries Agreement - Commonwealth Action.
Entry of Foreign Fishing Vessels into Australian Ports - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action.
Foreign Fishing Vessels in Territorial Waters - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action.
Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Act 1968 - Commonwealth and State Action.
Fisheries Patrolling - Commonwealth Action.
Protection of Great Barrier Reef and Gulf of Carpentaria Waters - Commonwealth and State Action.
Education Committee - Commonwealth and State Action
Southern Pelagic Project Committee - Commonwealth and State Action
Northern Fisheries Research Committee - Commonwealth and State Action
Gear Technology - Commonwealth and State Action.
Environmental Pollution - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action.
Review of Commonwealth Fisheries Act - Commonwealth Action.
Administration of Commonwealth Fishery Law - Commonwealth and State Action.
Licensing and Processing Plants under Commonwealth Law - Commonwealth and State Action.
Uniform Fisheries Licensing - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action.
Reciprocity - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action.
Commonwealth Reimbursement State Fisheries Authorities - Commonwealth and State Action
Financial Assistance to the Fishing IndustryCommonwealth, Territory and State Action
Indo-Pacific Fisheries Council Delegate to 14th Session - Commonwealth and State Action.
Economic Research and Statistics - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action.
Imports of Live Aquarium Fish - Commonwealth and State Action.
Abalone Quality Control for export - Commonwealth and State Action.
Proposed use of Nuclear Power in Harbour Construction - Commonwealth, Territory and State.
Ministerial and Officer Conferences:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Can he provide information on the occasions and subjects on which, since he became Prime Minister, Commonwealth Ministers and officials have met with professional bodies (e.g. medical boards, Hansard, 12 June 1970, page 3578, question No. 106) and semi-government bodies (e.g. port authorities, Hansard, 28th November 1968, page 3508, question No. 975) to discuss complementary or co-ordinating Commonwealth legislative or administrative action as he has provided on the occasions and subjects on which they have conferred with State Ministers and officials (Hansard, 25th March 1969, page 878, and 12th June 1970, page 3619).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Whilst there can be no question that honourable members are entitled to obtain information or. the actions and activities of the Government, the line of questioning by the Leader of the Opposition on this and other recent occasions is directed, in my view, to matters of internal administration. If the honourable member wishes to know what action has been taken by the Government to co-operate in a particular field, the information will of course be provided. However, 1 am reluctant to authorise the time and expense which would be involved in researching and assembling in all Commonwealth Departments details of the kind sought in the question.
Wheat (Question No. 1323)
asked the Minister for
Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2), (3), (4) No such reports have been received.
Medical Benefits Funds (Question No. 1433)
asked the Minister for
Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Shortage of Nurses (Question No. 1434)
asked the Minister for
Health, upon notice:
What (a) number and (b) percentage of beds in the public and private hospitals in each State and Territory (Hansard), 12th June 1970, page 3578) is at present closed down due to the shortage of nurses.
– The answer to the honour able member’s question is as follows:
Following inquiries from the State Health Authorities I understand that in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, beds in public and private hospitals are not, at present, closed due to the shortage of nurses.
Insofar as New South Wales and Victoria are concerned, accurate figures are not available. Complete figures are not maintained in the former State due to day to day fluctuations in the position.
The only hospital affected in South Australia is the Royal Adelaide Hospital. The number of beds closed at this public hospital is 145, a percentage of 2.2 per cent of all approved public and private hospital beds in South Australia at August 1970.
Whilst the Northern Territory hospitals are not affected, the position in the Australian Capital Territory is that the Canberra Hospital has 16 general ward beds at present closed. This represents 2.4 per cent of the total bed capacity at August 1970.
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Question No. 589)
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: (1), (2) and (3) Australia has taken action under the powers of Article XIX of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade on 15 occasions. On only 4 of these occasions were developing countries principal or substantial suppliers of imports. The following table shows the imported goods concerned on these occasions, the date of restraining action, the nature of the action, the principal and substantial suppliers, the value of import clearances for the relevant financial year, the number of persons employed in the domestic industry and the tariff applied against imports at the time action was taken.
ACTION TAKEN UNDER ARTICLE XIX OF G.A.T.T.
TIMBER (CERTAIN TYPES)
Sawmill Industry (Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, Industry Classification No. 1001).
Average Number Employed 1961-62. 29.182.
General rates of duty varying from 20c per 100 super, feet to$1.56 per 100 super, feet.
Description of Industry
Oils, Vegetable (Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, Industry Classification No. 0305)
Average Number Employed 1962-63 726.
General rate of 20c per gallon.
KNITTED COATS, JUMPERS, CARDIGANS, SWEATERS AND THE LIKE
Description of Industry
Hosiery and Other Knitted Goods (Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, Industry Classification No. 0604).
Average Number Employed 1966-67 25,043.
General rate of 45 per cent or, if higher, $0.30 or $0.55 each and 271/2 per cent.
Description of Industry
Hosiery and Other Knitted Goods (Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. Industry Classification No. 0604).
Average Number Employed 1967-68 25,500.
General rates of 571/2 per cent or, if higher, $1.57 per dozen, plus 5 per cent primage.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 September 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1970/19700916_reps_27_hor69/>.