House of Representatives
27 February 1979

31st Parliament · 1st Session

Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden) took the chair at 2. 1 5 p.m., and read prayers.

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The Clerk:

– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:

Medical Benefits: Abortions

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:

That the provision of payments for abortion through items of the Medical Benefits Schedule is an unacceptable endorsement of abortion which has now reached the levels of a national tragedy, with at least 60,000 unborn babies being killed in 1977.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable Members should:

Amend the Medical Benefits Schedule so as to preclude the payment of any benefit for abortion.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Sir William McMahon, Mr Baume, Mr Lionel Bowen, Mr Burns, Mr Ewen Cameron, Mr Connolly, Mr Falconer, Mr Hunt, Mr Les Johnson, Mr Macphee, Mr Neil, Mr O’Keefe, Mr Peacock, Mr Sainsbury, Mr Shipton, Mr Simon, Mr Staley, Mr Stewart and Mr Yates.

Petitions received.


To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That restoration of provisions of the Social Security Act that applied prior to the 1 978-79 Budget is of vital concern to offset the rising cost of goods and services.

The reason advanced by the Government for yearly payments ‘that the lower level of inflation made twice-yearly payments inappropriate ‘ is not valid.

Great injury will be caused to 920,000 aged, invalid, widows and supporting parents, who rely solely on the pension or whose income, other than the pension, is $6 or less per week. Once-a-year payments strike a cruel blow to their expectation and make a mockery of a solemn election pledge.

Accordingly, your petitioners call upon their legislators to:

  1. . Restore twice-yearly pension payments in the Autumn session.
  2. Raise pensions and unemployed benefits above the poverty level to 30 per cent of AWE.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Baume, Mr Burns, Mr Burr, Mr Fry, Mr Howard, Mr Les Johnson, Mr Barry Jones, Mr Les McMahon, Mr Morris, Mr Neil, Mr O’Keefe, Mr Ian Robinson, Mr Scholes, Mr Uren and Mr West.

Petitions received.

Pornographic Publications

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 showeth:

That we the undersigned, having great concern at the way in which children are now being used in the production of pornography call upon the Government to introduce immediate legislation:

  1. To prevent the sexual exploitation of children by way of photography for commercial purposes;
  2. To penalise parents/guardians who knowingly allow their children to be used in the production of such pornographic or obscene material depicting children;
  3. To make specifically illegal the importation, publication, distribution and sale of such pornographic child-abuse material in any form whatsoever such as magazines, novels, papers or films;
  4. To take immediate police action to confiscate and destroy all child pornography in Australia and urgent appropriate legal action against all those involved or profiting from this sordid exploitation of children.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your honourable House will protect all children and immediately prohibit pornographic child-abuse materials, publications or films.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Braithwaite, Mr FitzPatrick, Mr Hodges, Mr Howard, Mr Peter Johnson, Mr Martyr, Mr Neil, Mr Porter and Mr Scholes.

Petitions received.


To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of we the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:

The proposed introduction of a Retail Turnover Tax will:

  1. Impose an intolerable burden on retailers- seriously inconvenience shoppers and prove difficult and expensive to administer.
  2. Increase the cost to consumers of clothing, food and other goods essential to maintenance of an adequate standard of living.
  3. Place a disproportionate tax burden on Australians least able to pay.

Your petitioners humbly pray that the Members in the House assembled will not introduce indirect tax measures such as a Retail Turnover Tax or the administratively more difficult Value Added Tax as to do so would exacerbate the inequalities in our taxing system.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Mr Les Johnson. Petition received.


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 showeth:

That there have been indications that a value added tax or a retail turnover tax is being considered as a means of collecting revenue.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that you take such action as you can to prevent such a tax being introduced because such a tax will increase the administrative burden already existing on small businesses and because it will further increase costs and add to inflation.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Mr Roger Johnston.

Petition received.

Taxation: Tax Agents

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:

That current requirements of the Commissioner of Taxation for the lodgement of Income Tax Returns by Registered Tax Agents restricts the trading of such agents to a period of 8 months in any fiscal year. The demands by the Commissioner for lodgement of Income Tax returns before the 28th February following the tax year is an imposition and a restriction, limiting the trading from twelve to eight months.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the law should be amended to permit any registered tax agent to trade for a full year and lodge Income Tax returns to the close of the respective tax year.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray,

Petition received. by Mr Aldred. Petition received.


To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That the decision of the Australian Government to depart from its 1973 election promise, a promise re-affirmed during the 1977 election campaign, that pensions would be increased twice-yearly in line with increases in the CPI, will seriously add to the economic burdens now borne by those citizens who are wholly or mainly dependent on their pensions.

Your petitioners are impelled by this fact to call upon the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to review the abovementioned decision, and to determine:

That pensions will be increased twice yearly in line with rises in the CPI as promised by the Prime Minister in 1975 policy speech.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray,

Petition received. by Mr Braithwaite. Petition received.


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 showeth that the decision of the Government in its last budget to adjust pensions on a yearly basis causes undue hardship to pensioners whose standard of living is dependent on this sole source of income.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government review its decision to index pensions on a yearly basis and accept that all pensions be adjusted on a quarterly basis so that Australians dependent on social security benefits are not forced to live below the poverty line.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Mr Les Johnson. Petition received.


To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That whereas the Fraser Government was elected in December 197S after promising that pensions would be adjusted instantly and automatically in relation to quarterly Consumer Price Index figures;

And whereas that Government subsequently announced that pension adjustments should properly be made half yearly each May and November;

It is the current intention of the same Government to legislate for pensions to be adjusted only once a year, and this constitutes a serious breach of generally accepted ethics of democratic government and also deprives many needy pensioners of increases that are essential to their subsistence.

The foregoing facts impel the undersigned Petitioners to request the Australian Government to uphold the principle that the trustworthiness of governments should at all times be above question, and to appeal to the Parliament to prevent the imposition of further economic hardship upon Australian pensioners by rejecting any Bill which has for its aim the introduction of annual adjustments of pension rates.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray,

Petition received. by Mr Les Johnson. Petition received.

Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of we the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That we oppose any expansion of the facilities of Kingsford-Smith Airport which entails the building of a new runway as it would have the following detrimental effects.

  1. 1 ) The loss of one mile of waterfront including Lady Robinson ‘s Beach and a huge part of Botany Bay.
  2. The loss of up to 1,230 houses and a drop in value of remaining neighbouring properties.
  3. The creation of more noise pollution in the area;
  4. The creation of more traffic congestion on streets leading to and from the airport;
  5. 5 ) The forced diversion of Cook ‘s River and further damage to the ecology of the area.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government will not consider satisfying the airport needs of Sydney by extending Kingsford-Smith Airport and that any decisions related thereto are not taken before there is an opportunity for adequate consultation with any community particularly affected.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray,

Petition received. by Mr Les Johnson. Petition received.

Air Fares

To the Right Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That the present point to point airfares negotiated by the Government are discriminatory to many Australians not living in Sydney or Melbourne.

And that the level of domestic airfares are not conducive to travel in Australia.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.

Petition received. by Mr Jull Petition received.

South Australian Country Rail Services

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 showeth;

  1. That any downgrading or closures of Country Rail Services in South Australia would have grave consequences for the Railway Industry, Primary Industry, Individual Country Communities and the State as a whole and calls on the Parliament to ensure that the Federal Minister for Transport takes the necessary action to maintain all existing services.
  2. That continued and increased Public Subsidy is fully justified in the long term National Interest.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Mr Porter. Petition received.

Medical Benefits: Abortions

To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petitioning of the undersigned Citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

  1. Your Petitioners desire to draw to the Government’s attention that removal of Section No. 6469 on Health Refunds would transgress a woman’s right to the rebate available via Medibank Medical Health Insurance.
  2. Furthermore, as Section 6469 on Health Refunds is the item for abortion and to remove Medical Rebate for Item No. 6469 would be penalising thousands of women.

Your petitioners strongly oppose the removal of No. 6469 from the Medical Rebate list.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Mr Shack. Petition received.

Medical Benefits: Abortions

To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The undersigned citizens of Australia humbly pray that you reject the motion to be moved by Stephen Lusher MHR which proposes:

Your petitioners humbly pray that you support:

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Uren.

Petition received.

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Prime Minister · Wannon · LP

- Mr Speaker, I inform the House that following recommendations I made to the Governor-General, His Excellency has today appointed the Hon. Eric Robinson to be Minister for Finance.

Mr Hayden:

- Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement in relation to the matter that the Prime Minister has just announced to the House.


-Is leave granted?

Mr Sinclair:

- Mr Speaker, it might suit the convenience of the Leader of the Opposition if my colleague the Minister for Finance, who I understand was also seeking to attract your eye, were given leave to make a statement first.


-The Minister for Finance is asking for leave to make a statement?

Mr Eric Robinson:

– Yes.


-Is leave granted?

Mr Hayden:

– Yes.


-Leave is granted. I call the Minister for Finance.

Mr Hayden:

- Mr Speaker, it is clear that I will get leave? I presume that from what was said.


– I can give no undertakings.

Mr Hayden:

– The Leader of the House will give me leave?

Mr Sinclair:

– Yes.


– I call the Minister for Finance.

Mr Eric Robinson:

- Mr Speaker, the facts relating to my resignation and the acceptance of the invitation of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) to rejoin the Ministry are on record. On Thursday last, I handed the Prime Minister a letter in which I informed him of my decision to resign from the Cabinet. I reached this decision after experiencing a series of difficulties in a number of areas. These included administrative and organisational matters concerning the Government and the Liberal Party. These matters are now past. There had been, at times, some terseness in my relationships with the Prime Minister. The effect was a cumulative one. Government policy was not involved.

On Sunday last, I had extensive discussions with the Prime Minister and the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch). It became clear that there were no significant differences which could not be resolved.

Mr Young:

– Why did you not talk about them last Thursday?


-Order! The honourable gentleman is making a statement. I ask the House to listen to him in silence.

Mr Eric Robinson:

-As a result, the Prime Minister proposed that I might consider rejoining the Ministry as the Minister for Finance. After further discussion, it was agreed that my reappointment to the Ministry as Minister for Finance would be far the best course for the well being of the Liberal Party and the Government of Australia.

Inherent in my decision to accept the Prime Minister’s invitation to rejoin the Ministry was the inevitable criticism by some, satisfaction by others. If the type of discussion which took place on Sunday with the Prime Minister and the Deputy Leader of the party had taken place earlier, I would not have resigned. With hindsight, it was unfortunate that that discussion did not take place. The essence of these candid and very explicit discussions was that we were able to have a full exchange of views and able to understand each other’s views. I make it perfectly clear- no deals were involved; there are no changed arrangements; no policy implications.

Mr Speaker, I am deeply conscious of my responsibilities to the Liberal Party, to the Government and to the Prime Minister. After our discussions, let me affirm my full support for the Prime Minister. I have been a member of the Liberal Party for 22 years and a parliamentary representative for a little over six. I have served on the Queensland State Executive continuously for a period of 14 years, five of these as State President. I am convinced the future of Australia is deeply interwoven with the principles of the Liberal Party. I make these comments in relation to my party without in any way detracting from the enormous success and co-operation of the coalition parties in the Federal Government.

My rejoining the Ministry dashed the hopes of the critics of both the Government and the Prime Minister. Their howls of indignation were merely a reflection of the chagrin that they felt at the removal of what they hopefully saw as a tool with which to beat the Prime Minister and the Government. But it is nothing more than a dressing up of their disappointment. They will not have the opportunity to attempt to foster division within the Government. To put it plainly, there must be considerable disappointment amongst those who looked upon my resignation as a tool to use to damage the Government.

The Opposition’s disappointment must be so much the greater because it lacks the cohesiveness and the ability to develop solutions to the tasks facing the nation. The events of the past few days demonstrate plainly that where there is a difficulty in the Liberal Party and the Government, there exist a will and a basic unity of purpose which allow us to resolve it quickly and effectively. That has been done. I support in the clearest terms the policies of the Governmentpolicies which I helped frame and which are essential to Australia’s economic recovery.

Leader of the Opposition · Oxley

– by leave- In the history of this Parliament there has never been such a selfabnegating, totally demeaning statement as that which we have just heard from the Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson). Henceforth he goes without stature or influence in this place. No longer can he be regarded in any manner at all as a man of principle. He has sunk all that he claimed to stand for for office- for some sort of deal with the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). No one will believe or be persuaded by the statement he has presented to this Parliament. He says that the facts relating to his resignation and then his re-acceptance of his ministerial portfolio are on record. What record? We have yet to be assured that the letter of his resignation which was released is the original letter.

He goes on to say that the complaints which led to his resignation included administrative and organisational matters. I should not have thought that organisational matters were of such moment to a senior Cabinet Minister- and he is a Cabinet Minister, not just a Minister in the outer eleven- as to justify his resignation from the Ministry. That is something that can be repaired through the intra-party organisation. But what are the administrative matters of such enormous moment that compelled him to tender his resignation? He is by any measure an experienced parliamentarian, a highly intelligent and quite able parliamentarian. He would not have done this impulsively. He would have done it after careful reflection and as a result of the cumulative impact of circumstances he could no longer tolerate.

What are they? We know nothing at all about them. He says that at times there has been some terseness in his relationship with the Prime Minister. There is a lot of terseness in this statement. It is too terse altogether and it lacks conviction for anyone. He claims that if the type of discussion which took place on Sunday, perhaps a moment of sanctity for him, with the Prime Minister and the Deputy Leader of the party- the Rocky Gattellari of Australian politics on the comeback trail- had taken place earlier he would never have resigned; with hindsight, it was unfortunate that the discussion had not taken place earlier.

He says also that it became clear that there were no significant differences which could not be resolved. Who believes that? My children do not believe in Hans Andersen’s fairy tales any more and they certainly will not believe that, nor will the taxi drivers of Australia, the business managers or anyone else in this community because the simple fact is that the Minister for Finance was involved in a protracted negotiation with the Prime Minister throughout Thursday of last week, a negotiation that spread over several hours. If the matter could not be resolved in that time what happened subsequently that allowed its resolution?

I ask again: What sort of concessions were given? What sort of deals were arrived at? Let me run over the events, which are without precedent in the Westminster system of government- not just in this country but wherever the Westminster system of government prevails. A few days ago we had the unparalleled situation of a resignation by a senior Cabinet Minister- the Minister for Finance- without any explanation. Then there was the incredible result a few days later Reinstatement without even missing one Cabinet meeting. On Thursday the Minister said firmly, toughly, that he ‘could not serve under the bastard’. Three days later he is back in tandem with the man he described as a bastard. When Parliament adjourned last week confidence in the Prime Minister was so thoroughly shot to pieces on the part of the Minister for Finance that he could not give the Prime Minister ‘unqualified support’. There could never be any more severe criticism of a Prime Minister than that.

Today the Minister for Finance sits in the Ministry. On what conditions? Qualified support? That is not good enough. We have to know the conditions upon which the Minister for Finance re-entered the Ministry. In the course of the last 24 hours the Prime Minister said: . . . there were no significant differences . . . which could not be resolved by discussion. That has been done.

That has been re-echoed by the Minister for Finance today. But what were the differences? We are yet to be reassured that the differences were such that they have been resolved. They were major differences if they generated a situation in which the Minister for Finance, a particularly ambitious and able Minister, decided that he was prepared to put his future at stake by resigning from the Ministry. He knows full well the traditions of resignation from the Ministry. I will say more about that in a few minutes. The Prime Minister spoke about the dispute being a private matter. He rejects the principle of accountable government. The Government is responsible, but it has also to be accountable, to the public. It is not a private plaything of the Prime Minister. It belongs to the people and is accountable to them. For the first time in the history of the Westminster system of government- I have had the history traced back to the eighteenth century which is as far as we can go- there has been a resignation of a Minister in the parliament without any explanation at all. Are we supposed to believe that it is a private matter, a matter for the family- to blazes with the Government, to blazes with the Parliament and to blazes with the public? The best summation of that that I have come across is the reported statement of the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns). I quote him exactly as the report appeared in the Courier-Mail of 26 February. It states:

It ‘s foolish to say ‘ keep it in the family ‘.

The Mafia is a family with that kind of secrecy. This is the first time that a Minister has resigned without his reasons being known.

That is a searing comment and again it comes from another experienced member of this Parliament, a former Minister in an earlier coalition government. What is he saying? Very simply, by his statement the honourable member for Lilley is saying this: If the Prime Minister thinks he can maintain secrecy in this matter, that he can bury it in this way, he is behaving as a political gangster. The Australian public deserves something better than that. The criticism is coming from a senior, respected, experienced member of the Liberal Party, a former Minister of the Crown. The Mafia may behave in that way but one does not expect those standards of conduct in the Federal Parliament- the Parliament of the nation. We do not expect the Prime Minister to behave like a political gangster. Disaffection has reached right into the heart of the Government- right through the members on the back benches. What the honourable member for Lilley said publicly is being stated in varying forms by other members of the Government back bench, one or two of whom have interjected in the course of this debate. It has been stated privately, and rather nervously, around the corridors in the last few days. Parliament is not the plaything of the Prime Minister. It is not a Boy Scout frolic in the political woods. Of course, there is some suggestion that because the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party (Mr Lynch) had a part to play in the reconciliation we should accept it. I believe that that is all the more room for suspicion. He still has a lot to answer for about dubious land deals and tax avoidance.

What are the reasons for resignation? If one takes the statement of the Minister for Finance at face value, it reads very much as though the sole impulse was petulance. What a high price for the Prime Minister to pay- mollifying sulkiness by putting him back into the Ministry. No one who knows the Minister for Finance would believe that. He is made of much sterner stuff. He knows the traditions and implications of resignation as a Minister in our system of government. There have been more than 50 of these resignations in the United Kingdom since the turn of the century. They have all been on major issues of principle; they have all been undertaken to demonstrate a point taken by the Minister who resigned. Very simply, this is the ultimate objection that a Minister can express against government policy; it means that the Minister has arrived at a situation where he can no longer accept the discipline and collective responsibility and accountability of Cabinet. In short, he is saying that the decisions of the Government through the Cabinet are ones which he can no longer endorse and ones with which he can no longer identify; they are ones to which he can give qualified support at best, but certainly not unqualified support. That is why there were the resignations of Churchill over Gallipoli; of Wilson and Bevan over rearmament; and of Malcolm Fraser in this Parliament over former Prime Minister Gorton and defence policy. The difference is that former Defence Minister Fraser explained the reasons for his resignation, such was the importance of that principle. I will come back to that a little later.

What were the real reasons for the resignation of the Minister for Finance? Very simply, they were the mess that the Prime Minister is making because of his curious knee jerk approach to Government policy especially in economic management; the fact that the Minister for Finance believes that the country is being taken in the wrong direction with economic policy; that there are lousy social priorities; that the wrong sorts of decisions are being made; and that they are very largely the product of a situation of warring factions within the bureaucracy, with the Stones and the Castles fighting it out, and the Prime Minister more often than not taking notice of neither of them and going to other sources outside of the Parliament where through seductive entertainment, I suppose, in some sort of social setting, he decides that the latest piece of kerbstone contemporary wisdom in the Melbourne Club or its equivalent is the sort of thing that ought to be followed as policy. That is not the way to run the affairs of this country.

The overbearing manner of the Prime Minister undoubtedly had its fair share of influence on the decision of the Minister for Finance. After all, the Minister did refer to the Prime Minister as a ‘bastard’ and, on an earlier occasion, as a ‘school bully’. The former member for Tangney who was also a member of the Liberal Party summed it up when he resigned when he said:

In the Party room, members are politely listened to and then the Government does what it wishes. I gain the impression that Cabinet Ministers are listened to and then Mr Fraser does what he wishes. We have come closer in this country to a presidential style of Government than ever before in our history . . .

That could easily have been the summary of the reasons for the resignation of the Minister for Finance. The public does need to know; it has every reason to expect to be told. This Government does not belong to Malcolm Fraser; it is not the play thing of the Prime Minister. Running government is not like running a sheep property in the Western districts of Victoria. The Government is accountable to the Australian public and we deserve some explanation. The Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) said of the resignation of the Minister for Finance:

I regard it as churlish, childish, immature and thoroughly unparliamentary, that a Minister leaves the Government without stating his reasons.

He added for good measure:

Anonymity is the most contemptible accuser.

Then, with a little Killenian embellishment, he added for further good measure:

It leaves a miasmic smear over the Liberal Party.

If that is true of the Minister for Finance, it is at least equally true of the Prime Minister. There is a miasmic smear over the whole Government and, I would suggest, even over the Parliament because the Prime Minister, by his contemptuous behaviour towards his responsibilities to this Parliament, has ripped out one of the key cornerstones of the Westminster system. As I mentioned, the Prime Minister, in a similar situation in 1971 when he resigned, had a lot to say about the reasons for his resignation. Let me refer to those reasons. They make good reading. They show what a fine man of principle he was then, and how he believed it to be absolutely essential that the Parliament and the people should know. The interesting thing is that when you hear his comments you could almost swear that they were the kind of things the Minister for Finance intended to write. In 1971 the present Prime Minister, then Minister for Defence, upon resigning said:

Since his election to office, the Prime Minister has seriously damaged the Liberal Party and cast aside the stability and the sense of direction of earlier times. He has a dangerous reluctance to consult Cabinet, and an obstinate determination to get his own way. He ridicules the advice of a great Public Service unless it supports his view.

He then added:

The Prime Minister had resisted Cabinet discussion from the outset. The attitude was: ‘This is the course I want and that is all there is to it’.

He added further on:

The Prime Minister fought to prevent Cabinet discussion.

In what really sounds like the Minister for Finance, the present Prime Minister finally said:

The Prime Minister, because of his unreasoned drive to get his own way, his obstinacy, impetuous and emotional reactions, has imposed strains upon the Liberal Party, the Government and the Public Service. I do not believe he is fit to hold the great office of Prime Minister, and I cannot serve in his Government.

We on this side of the House do not believe that the right honourable member for Wannon is fit to hold the great office of Prime Minister in this country. The Prime Minister summed up the principle on that occasion when he said:

My responsibility through the Government is to this Parliament and through it to the people of Australia.

We are asking the Prime Minister today to fulfil that obligation, and to give an accounting of what actually took place. The Minister for Finance is also responsible in this matter. Both should indicate why there was a resignation, what was so bad within the ranks of the Government as to force this point of final rupture, what remedies were arrived at subsequently and at what cost. What is the Prime Minister trying to hide? What is the price of the concessions which have been made? There needs to be a full accounting to the Australian public. It is a thoroughly unprecedented and unsatisfactory situation. It is mountingly obvious that, as the Ministry falls apart at the seams, a sordid deal has been put together for one purpose- to protect the Prime Minister’s hide.

We have the most crisis-ridden and scandalprone government in the history of this nation. If one looks at the crises one will see that more Ministers have resigned, stood down or been sacked from the Fraser Government than has happened under any series of governments in the history of this nation. In 1 976 Mr Garland had to stand down because of serious charges of electoral bribery. In 1976 Mr Ellicott resigned because of his objections to the Prime Minister’s imperious style of government. In 1977 the present Deputy Leader and Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch) had to stand down because of doubts about the propriety of his business dealings and his tax avoidance conduct. In 1977 there was Senator Sheil, in 1978 Mr Robinson, in 1978 Senator Withers and in 1979 Mr Robinson. All were involved in one way or another in some sort of government crisis. The only thing you can say is that the Minister for Finance is the only politician in this Parliament who has been born twice. He survived on two occasions.

Look at the scandals: The Prime Minister’s improper interference in computer tendering; misleading letters to Aboriginals in Queensland, assuring them that land would be acquired for them and at the same time sending letters to the Government of Queensland assuring it that no such action would be undertaken; the public backlash because of the Kerr pay-off for which the Prime Minister alone was responsible; electorate rigging; Ministers’ private businesses and tax avoidance practices of Ministers; and attempted electorate corruption. The list goes on and on. I repeat that no government has been more crisis-ridden and more scandal-ridden than the present one. That is why its credibility is in tatters and its rating is so low in opinion polls. The Prime Minister’s rating is persistently low. The Prime Minister does not have much credibility left in the light of the sorts of blunt comments from respected journalists whom one reads in the newspapers. I refer to the National Times for the week ending 3 March.

Government supporters- Oh!


– I would not like it either, but I would have enough principle to walk out on the Prime Minister, unlike the honourable members opposite who are hanging on to his coat tails. The article states:

Fraser’s greatest problem is that half the ministry is talking about the ‘big bastard’. His opponents in the party say the current joke is ‘even when Malcolm is telling the truth you don ‘t believe him ‘.

Mr Young:

– They all say that.


-Are you sure of that?

Mr Young:

– Yes, of course.


-Mr Peter Bowers, the correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald said this:

Put bluntly, there are now seven or eight Ministers who do not trust Mr Fraser in a very personal sense.

What a reputation for the Leader of the Government to have among his own colleagues. What did a back bench member say to me today less than two hours before the House convened? He said:

The louder the Prime Minister speaks of honour, the faster I count our spoons.

Such is the assessment of one of his own colleagues who has not been here long but who has made a reliable summation of the qualities of the Prime Minister. The Minister for Finance did not resign in petulance. He resigned as a matter of principle and he has recanted. He has destroyed his standing and he has destroyed any claim to principle. One of the reasons why the Prime Minister wants him back in the Ministry is to mute him. He does not want him on the back bench in tandem with Senator Withers, undertaking obvious political work that will not be helpful to the Prime Minister. He knows the formidable wielder of the political scalpel that the Minister for Finance is. After all, the Minister for Finance worked on two of the Prime Minister’s campaigns to bring down a former Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, as he then was, and to bring down the Leader of the Opposition as he then was. You should know more about that than most of us, Mr Speaker. Prime Minister Gorton was told: ‘Don’t worry, go to bed and have a good night’s sleep’. When he woke up the next day, he was politically dead. You, Mr Speaker, were told’: ‘Don’t worry, I am standing right behind you’. It is only because you have your back on the chair that you feel safe these days.

The Prime Minister’s performance and his pledges of loyalty amongst the Liberals have no currency value at all. The fact is that these problems are not going to go away. This is merely a temporary expedient on the part of the Prime Minister- an effort to dampen down the simmering discontent and the mutinous reaction within his own ranks about his own unacceptable style of government. Before this year is over, those pressures will well up and explode. Who are the other Ministers toying with the idea of resignation? I know of one and I have heard of another.

Honourable members- Who?


– They have been reported in the newspapers. Of course, we know the purpose of the conspiracy. It is to organise a push behind the Minister for Foreign Affairs to have him replace the Prime Minister. He is suntanned, fit and Decore-ed ready to take over. He has even decided to hang up his Gucci toothbrush which he has been flashing so successfully around the Champs Elysees in recent times. The fact is that, in the meantime, while the Government is preoccupied with its internal brawling with a total lack of confidence in the Prime Minister, it is crippling itself, and it is crippling this country also. The attention which should be undistractedly directed towards the economy of this country has not been directed in that way and the community is paying a very high price.

Many questions have been raised in the last few days by this issue. They are questions which have been echoed in the editorial columns of the newspapers of this country. They do not concern political point scoring or partisan political differences. They are fundamental to our system of government and to the proper standards and responsibilities the Australian people expect from their political representatives.

Let me quote some of the editorials as an indication of the depth and the extent of feeling in this community. In the Adelaide Advertiser, it is stated:

The Robinson affair again raises the matter of Mr Fraser ‘s autocratic ways, his remoteness and his ruthlessness . . . On the line now is the credibility of Mr Robinson as well as that of Mr Fraser. If there were no significant differences that could not be settled by discussion, why did Mr Robinson take the extreme step of resigning? Why did Mr Fraser accept?

If differences related to important economic questions, then the public has a right to know. If the whole issue was founded on matters of personality and party politics, that too should come out . . .

The Sydney Morning Herald said: . . . as a Minister of the crown he - That is, Mr Robinsonwas not entitled to take refuge in the claim that his reasons for resignation were a private matter. Ministers are accountable to the Parliament; public figures are accountable to the public. Plainly this was no private matter . . .

The Melbourne Herald said: . . . he - That is, Mr Robinsonis a senior minister of the crown, not some obscure municipal councillor. First, he must tell why he felt so strongly that he was compelled to resign . . . Subsequently what guarantees did he obtain which, in the space of three days, led him to decide that he could now support the Prime Minister after all? Only by a full disclosure can the public judge whether his conduct was justified or whether he indulged in a rash act of political immaturity.

The Melbourne Age said: … the high drama has almost deteriorated into low comedy, but the matter is too serious to be dismissed with puzzled laughter . . . Neither the Prime Minister nor Mr Robinson come out of this sorry affair with credit.

Central to these questions is the issue of accountability- the accountability of the Executive, or any of its members, to the Parliament and to the people. Accountability is the cornerstone of the Westminster system. Yet accountability is a doctrine that this Prime Minister and this Government seek to evade, or deny, at every turn. As I said in the House last May, we have all seen the lengths to which the Prime Minister will go to avoid public scrutiny of his policies and his conduct- the extremes he will adopt to seek to evade accountability. This matter is another of those occasions. The resignation of the Minister for Finance was, in its manner and execution, a calculated expression of no confidence in the Prime Minister’s leadership of this Government. The Minister in all conscience believed he could not accept the Prime Minister’s style and policies with the uncritical acceptance that the Prime Minister obviously demanded. Yet within three days the Minister was able to put behind him this crisis of conscience and, condoned by the Prime Minister, expect the Australian people to pretend, without any explanation, that it never happened. I remind the Prime Minister again of his own words to this House on 9 March 1971 when, in his speech of resignation as Minister for Defence, he said:

My responsibility through the Government is to this Parliament and, through it, to the people of Australia.

Those words have as much force as they ever did. They are the Prime Minister’s own words. If he is to retreat from them now, he must accept condemnation as a hypocrite and a humbug. More importantly, we must all accept that the Prime Minister of Australia has abandoned the most fundamental principle of our democratic system of government at the cost of any shred of credibility and respect that may have been lingering around him.

page 351


Suspension of Standing Orders

Motion (by Mr Sinclair)- by leave- agreed to:

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition moving forthwith a motion of censure of the Prime Minister.

Motion of Censure

Leader of the Opposition · Oxley

– I move:

That this House censures the Prime Minister for:

His failure to ensure and maintain the unqualified support of his Ministry, and

His contemptuous rejection of long-established precedents of the Westminster system of government by his failure to provide the Parliament with a full explanation of the reasons for the resignation and subsequent re-instatement of the Minister for Finance.

It would not be my proposal to recapitulate what I have already said. I believe that -

Honourable members interjecting-


– I can hear the nervous brouhaha from the back benches opposite, but what about all those honourable members who have spoken to me privately and told me that they cannot work with the big bastard either? I do not propose to recapitulate the case I have already presented to the Parliament.


-Is the motion seconded?

Smith · Kingsford

- Mr Speaker, I second the motion. The House is debating a motion of censure of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). It is related not just to the events of a resignation by a Minister, but also to the conduct that has taken place leading up to that resignation. The censure motion has been moved on the basis that this Parliament is entitled to know all the facts and the whole truth. Nothing should be hidden from this Parliament. When we look at the statement now made we realise that this Parliament has been told nothing. It is the responsibility of a Prime Minister to guarantee at least that a parliament is informed. If we look at the facts so far given to us, we find that all we really have is a statement made by the resurrected Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson) that he is now happy with the situation.

Let us look at the situation we are facing. The first paragraph and the last paragraph of the statement of the Minister for Finance are contradictory. The first paragraph states:

The facts relating to my resignation and acceptance . . . to rejoin the Ministry are on record.

There are no facts relating to the resignation from and the rejoining of the Ministry on record at all. They are known to the Minister himself and they are known to the Prime Minister. But the Prime Minister has refused to disclose them to the nation. As has been made clear by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden), there is a Westminster tradition that when a Minister resigns, all facts concerning and reasons for the resignation are given to a parliament. They have not been given in this case. The last paragraph of this statement by this resurrected Minister states, in effect, ‘I am happy to say I have rejoined the Ministry because I know I am in accord with its policies which I know will help the economic recovery of the nation’. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let us look at the 29-word statement which was made when the Minister resigned. He said:

I find I am unable to give you the unqualified support that you expect of a Minister.

That would be support in Cabinet, on a number of issues. That would be support perhaps, in respect of matters of the most major importance to the nation. For example, they could include the money supply, interest rates, the question of inflation. All those matters are ones of major importance in a Cabinet. Yet we have the admission made by the Minister for Finance that he could never give his Prime Minister support in those matters. This resignation did not relate to terseness of conduct, to the offensive word or the abusive mannerism. It related very much more to the importance of the management of the economy of this nation. We have a Prime Minister, who never debates matters of this type in the Parliament, sitting back and allowing somebody else to say he will take the brief for him. All we have received on behalf of the nation is a very short statement saying that everything is all right now because we have had a three-hour conference in Melbourne and we have patched up our differences. I repeat that the nation does not know what the differences are, nor does the nation know the cause of the resignation. But I should make it very clear that statements made to the nation should not be limited to the type of priority given to what appears on the second page of this statement. It is said that the Minister’s reappointment ‘would be far the best course for the well-being of the Liberal Party, the Government and Australia’. Honourable members will notice that the nation runs third in that priority list.

What was the nature of the discussions held on Sunday between the Prime Minister and the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch)? Where is the admission or the acknowledgement that there have been mistakes made in the past, but that now they understand each other’s views? On behalf of the Opposition, I make it very clear to the Government that we knew on Thursday night that more than one Minister was likely to resign. At the time the only thing that worried us was that if we pressed the matter Ministers opposite would all be weak enough to withdraw their resignations. As it turned out, one of them was weak enough. It took just three days to see that withdrawal. But what of responsibility to the nation? Over the weekend we were all inundated with questions of what we thought of the situation. If we asked the people asking those questions what they thought of the situation they would say: ‘This is the weakest government we have ever seen. How long can Fraser last? He will be gone before Christmas. Who will be his successor? How can he possibly survive with a popularity poll of 3 5 per cent? ‘.

What was the real reason for holding the Sunday afternoon conference? It related to events that will take place in Victoria on 5 May. The Premier of Victoria is fighting for his political life. How can Hamer survive if honourable members opposite behave in the way they are behaving now? He will not be able to survive anyway. But the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) could not afford to be the scapegoat, so he brought the good old war horse from Queensland back into line and said: ‘Understand, Eric, you have to look after the Party. It comes first. So withdraw your resignation and I will do whatever you want from here on’. What about that sort of responsibility and accountability to the nation? Are we to have a series of Ministers on the front bench who can threaten to resign unless they get their own way? Where is the collective responsibility of Cabinet? How is it that a Minister is able to indicate to the Parliament through his resignation from the Ministry and his rescinding that resignation that he has had his way? What is it that the Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson) wanted from the Prime Minister that he had not got before. It would not be just a nice courtesy; it would be more than that. Does it relate to the Senate ticket in Queensland? Does it relate to a mater of surveillance in the Minister’s Department with which he was not in accord? Are these not the most serious of matters?

Let us make it very clear that there is no reason the Minister for Finance would love the Prime Minister. This is apparent if we go back to the Withers affair. If it were not for advice which the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) gave the Minister for Finance last year, the Minister for Finance would have been annihilated in this Parliament then. The advice concerned a draft letter from the Minister for Finance indicating that his memory concerning evidence he gave in the witness box was uncertain; that he was uncertain as to whether the Prime Minister knew of matters relating to the redistribution in Queensland. Let us place it on record: The Minister for Finance said in the witness box that the Prime Minister knew full well of the Withers’ intervention with the electoral redistribution commissioner.

What happened after that? An attempt was made to have the Minister for Finance draft a letter, after he had given that evidence, stating that he was uncertain concerning those events, that perhaps his memory was a little hazy. It was only advice from his colleague, a lawyer on the Government side of the chamber, that saved him. He said to the Minister for Finance: ‘If you do that you will be finished for all time. You will be laughed out of Parliament. You will virtually have committed perjury’. That is the sort of hostility that would be underlying the present situation. But did the Prime Minister worry about that at the time? Despite the fact that, on the advice of the Minister for Home Affairs, the Minister for Finance tore up his draft letter on his recollections, which had been dictated and was taken down in shorthand, the Prime Minister did not hesitate to make a mess of the Minister for Finance in political terms. He had the draft letter retyped and given to the Press. The Minister’s hazy recollection of events appears on the record. It was given out by the Prime Minister, who was supposed to be so loyal to the Minister for Finance.

Why would the Minister for Finance not turn around now and say: ‘This is the man who attempted to destroy me. The evidence I gave in the witness box was true. The Prime Minister knew of the deceit and deception that took place last year because of the Withers machinations in the electoral redistribution’? Every Minister on the front bench knows that the Prime Minister knew of the situation in advance. When the Minister for Finance gave his evidence he was merely telling the truth. Out of Senator Withers’ own mouth we have the admission that when he confronted the Prime Minister about this matter the Prime Minister said that he would say that his recollection was hazy. The Prime Minister compounded the felony by suggesting that the Minister for Finance should do the same.

The point I am making in providing this background information is that there is no loyalty between these two men. There is as much loyalty between these two men as there is between the Prime Minister and Senator Withers. This is a rabble of a government with a rabble of a Cabinet. It does not understand collective responsibility. It does not understand the basic problems facing this nation. Not one of its members would want an election now. I dare the Government to dash off to the present Governor-General and to suggest that it might have an extension of its present term because of its policies and their acceptance by the people of Australia. Far from it.

What is the real issue? We have a censure motion of a Prime Minister- a Prime Minister who never participates in any debate and will never give any explanation, not only to the Opposition but also to the Parliament and to the nation. All the back benchers now looking on in this debate well know what is happening in their electorates and that the chain of events which has taken place in the last five days can cost them their seats, because nobody is going to accept this position: If Malcolm Fraser was right to accept the resignation, why would he accept its rescission? He has made the mistake, if that is the position. It is he who should be getting out of the position of Prime Minister if he cannot lead the team in this fashion. Why must he be beholden to a Minister who says: ‘Unless you do as I say, I will continue with my resignation’? That is the pressure point. That is the issue we want to know about.

As has been asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden), were there not more fundamental matters than just a terseness in appearance, a sense of arrogance or a question of the calling of somebody a bastard? They were more important matters than those. They were to do with this issue: ‘What are we about in Cabinet?’ They were to do with the issue: ‘Did you not betray me last year, Malcolm? You set me up then as a patsy’, if we can use that expression. The terms of the royal commission were deliberately aimed at the Minister for Finance and there was no evidence to support them at that time. It was clearly Senator Withers who looked like being the one who would be affected; and he was. This Parliament was misled then. It has been misled since. When the royal commission was taking evidence on this very sensitive issue, of course, the Prime Minister galloped overseas so that there was no question of his being called as a witness. These are fundamental errors that would be searing the mind of the Minister for Finance. Then we get this dreadful statement today telling the people of the nation that the facts relating to his resignation from and readmission to the Ministry are well known. Not one fact is known. We can be led to many inferences as to what the facts were. We know full well the problems of the back bench and of people such as the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) having to speak out in a sense of honesty and justice about what their electorates feel and about what the Press and the media understand and have been telling the nation. Is this not an incredible situation? We are facing crises, both internally and internationally, and we have a Government that is so disunited that its members are fighting and squabbling for the reins of power.

The Government of this nation is not the preserve of the Liberal Party. It is not the special preserve of the likes of the Malcolm Frasers or Eric Robinsons. The Westminster system operates on the basis that the nation has a stake. The Government is merely the trustee of the assets, the goodwill and the viability of a national concern on the basis that it can lead the nation, can indicate to the nation that it has policies and can indicate to the nation that it is of international standing. But are people to suggest that because somebody falls out through a minor argument we are to have a resignation and then a love-up on the basis that it was all right, because we had three hours together? Do honourable members think that this nation appreciates that situation?

The real issue facing the present Government is that it has failed in a number of areas. Its credibility is well down. The Prime Minister’s credibility, of course, is even lower than that of the Government. The question is whether it will sink even lower. The readmission of Eric Robinson to the Ministry is only a temporary stopgap. The Prime Minister has been mortally wounded in this debate on the question of credibility, the ability to lead, the ability to get loyalty and the ability to understand the issues of the nation. That credibility could perhaps have been saved by Eric Robinson staying out and the Prime Minister saying: ‘Yes, we have disagreed on a number of issues. These are the issues I will take responsibility for the Prime Ministership and stand by these issues’. At least the nation would have known that situation. But not to have any statement from the Prime Minister and then a wishy-washy sort of statement from the Minister for Finance that all is well now and that he understands that they will be able to work together from here on is not good enough. I repeat: The matters facing this nation, particularly with regard to economic management and more importantly with regard to international affairs, are very serious indeed. We are the laughing stock of the world at present. When we think of this Cabinet, which is so disunited and in so much disarray, do honourable members think that an ambassador who is called to see the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) will take any notice of that Minister when he knows that that Minister may not even have the loyalty of his Prime Minister and will threaten to resign unless he gets it? Is this the sort of democracy we want? Is this the sort of strength that we have? Of course, the problem is just tins: The Government is failing badly. The Prime Minister’s popularity was down to 35 per cent 10 days ago. I predict that at the most it is 15 per cent today and that ‘he whole 15 per cent would be members of the executive of the Liberal Party. One cannot sink any lower than that.

What we are urging the Prime Minister to do is to get up and make an explanation. We want him to say: ‘Look, Eric Robinson disagreed with me on A, B, C, D and E, but these are the facts from my point of view’. The Prime Minister should not leave himself in a stupid, weak situation in which the only explanation given to the nation is in the form of a statement by bis readmitted but formerly defrocked Minister to the effect that he accepts the explanation that the Prime Minister gave him in a cosy arrangement made in Victoria last weekend. This is not good enough.

We cannot save the Prime Minister. However, at least we can advise him as to how he might perform as a Prime Minister because we represent thousands of members of the voting public who fully understand what is happening.


-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. I call the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

Mr Charles Jones:

– Into it Rocky.

Mr Morris:

– Come on Rocky.

Minister for Industry and Commerce · Flinders · LP

– That really is a reflection of the pathetic nature of the Opposition’s performance today. I ask Opposition members to think about that. The dispirited, listless group of men on the other side of the House have sought to gather themselves together again and launch another of their futile motions. Last year, led by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden), they moved no fewer than 1 1 no confidence and censure motions, an average of one evey seven sitting days. What a splendid tribute to the Opposition’s capacity in this national Parliament for any form of constructive debate and what an outstanding record of responsiveness to some of the very significant issues which are facing Australia today.

All I can say at the outset of my contribution to this debate is that members of the Opposition have started off the year in the same way; only now they are more jaded and more forlorn than they were last year because the economic policies of this Government are now working.

Mr Young:

– You should tell Eric Robinson.


– He is backing the team, and the honourable member knows it. Everyone knows the Leader of the Opposition has no confidence in anything or anyone. He in fact has no confidence in himself. He has already said: ‘I am not sure that I would be a satisfactory leader’. I can only say how right he is. He has no confidence in his party colleagues. He was disappointed and nonplussed by the behaviour of the Queensland Branch of the Australian Labor Party when it rejected his proxy on various key committees. He has no confidence in his own economic predictions. Last November he predicted that the 1980s will be a decade of gloom. This month he said there was ‘room for optimism’. Twelve days later again he said that the economy was in its worse state since the Great Depression. I suggest the honourable gentleman is obviously a depression maniac. Now he declares that he lacks confidence in the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), the Government or the Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson). What a farce it is from this Cassandra of confidence.

Under Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser this coalition Government has won the two largest majorities in Australian history, and what a vote of confidence that is! The Labor Party has been wiped off the political map, and it shows that at Question Time and in debate in this House. No wonder members of the Opposition call so many divisions- it is the only time they will ever get to sit on the treasury bench again. The best evidence of the Opposition’s weakness is that it is reduced to the point where it believes that the only person, the best person, to lead it is the honourable member for Oxley, a man who is repeatedly losing the support of his own party, a man who is rejected by that party in his own State. He was publicly humiliated by his own State executive. He is a shadow of his former self.

Let us look at the matters which have been raised today. The fact is that on Sunday, following the resignation of the Minister for Finance the Prime Minister, Mr Robinson and I met. After an extensive discussion it became clear that there existed no significant differences which could in fact not be overcome by discussion, and that discussion was undertaken. As a result the Prime Minister proposed that Mr Robinson might consider rejoining the Ministry as Minister for Finance and he accepted that invitation. There have been no policy differences. There have been no deals of any kind. There are no changed arrangements, and no policy implications of the kind raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen), in the context of the McGregor Royal Commission that are in any sense relevant to the nature of the discussion which took place.

The events of the last few days demonstrate plainly that where there is a difficulty in the Liberal Party and in the Government, there is a capacity and unity of purpose to resolve that issue quickly and effectively. That is the reality of the particular matter which is before us today. The other reality is that Australia is led by a tough, strong and very determined Prime Minister, a Prime Minister who is successful and who has the capacity to take difficult decisions to pull Australia out of the economic morass into which it was pushed by the Labor Government. The Opposition does not like hearing that. The people of this country will not forget the Labor Parry’s attempt to turn Australia into a socialist test tube. They will not forget the grotesque policies that emerged during the years of the Whitlam Administration. All honourable members on the other side of this House have to bear their share of the blame for those years. It is because their perspective was warped by their brief and destructive period of office that they cannot understand the principles of Cabinet government. They cannot see that it is not only possible for strong leadership and consensus to go together but also that strong leadership must be based on consensus.

I believe that we have a strong Prime Minister and a Ministry of outstanding talent. I welcome the return of Eric Robinson to this coalition Government because of his capacity and because of the contribution he will make during the period ahead. We in the Liberal Party and the National Country Party do not accept the Labor Party’s paranoid concept of numbers and rigid rules. That is the Labor Party way. They believe that as long as they have the numbers the merits of an argument can fend for themselves. Let me state clearly that there is on this side of the House unity of purpose and loyalty to the man who is the Prime Minister of Australia, the Rt Hon. Malcolm Fraser. I want to put to rest once and for all this myth of the so-called one man band government. The reality is that this is government by Cabinet process. Under the Fraser Government there has been I believe a greater emphasis upon consultation in Cabinet than ever before, and that goes back at least to the year 1968.

We are constantly improving that mechanism. Late last year the Prime Minister sought a review of Cabinet arrangements to increase the efficiency of the system. The result was the establishment of nine standing committees of Cabinet. The Prime Minister himself is a member of only four of those nine committees. Therefore in matters which concern wages policy, social welfare policy, government legislation arrangements, industrial policy and general policy, members of the Ministry take decisions as part of a team without the Prime Minister’s presence. So much for the one man band; so much for one man domination. This is a myth, a concoction of the Opposition, which cannot, either in this House or outside, effectively dispute the substance and purpose and achievement of the policies which we have been putting forward.

We in this House and, I think, the country at large are sick and tired of the personality cult which the Opposition has sought to perpetrate. The Australian people are sick and tired of the Labor Party’s peripheral politics and its pettiness over personality questions. The people of this country are looking for results and they want to see the economic mess perpetrated by the Labor Party put right. That is what is happening at the present time. Hardly a day goes by without some authoritative statement by people in industry, commerce and business concerning the new upsurge in confidence in Australia’s economic future under this Liberal-National Country Party Government. Only yesterday the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd reported that its latest business indicator showed that the Australian economy is facing the best prospects for expansion in five years. At the weekend the Metal Trades Industry Association published the results of a survey conducted among 178 companies. That survey showed that employment in industry actually is rising in many establishments. It snowed too a new level of confidence right throughout the industry. These latest reports of confidence in this Government and in Australia’s future have come since the Prime Minister’s statement in this Parliament last Thursday.

It is no wonder that the Opposition seeks to distract this Parliament from the main, the fundamental and the really only significant issues which concern the country. The Leader of the Opposition already has a serious disagreement with his spokesman on minerals and energy who opposes this Government’s far-sighted and responsible policy on oil pricing. In his home State of Queensland the Labor Party treats him with contempt. What status does that gentleman have in this Parliament to stand up and accuse this Government of a lack of unity? I would say that the Leader of the Opposition, a man with so much glass around him, is a very reckless stone thrower. As the Prime Minister has said, the business of government must go on, and go on it will despite the time wasting tactics of the Opposition in this Parliament. The Australian people have put their faith in this Government to guide them to a new era of economic prosperity and strength. We will keep that trust. The Government rejects the motion before the Chair.

Port Adelaide

-Mr Speaker -

Motion (by Mr Sinclair) put:

That the question be now put.

The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden)

AYES: 81

NOES: 36

Majority……. 45



Question so resolved in the affirmative. Question put:

That the motion (Mr Hayden’s) be agreed to.

The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden)

AYES: 36

NOES: 82

Majority 46



Question so resolved in the negative.

page 357




-Are there any questions?

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– I ask that questions be placed on the Notice Paper.

page 357


Minister for Primary Industry · New England · NCP/NP

– Pursuant to clause II of the Sugar Agreement 1975 I present the annual report of the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee for the year ended 30 June 1 978.

page 357


Minister for Primary Industry · New England · NCP/NP

– Pursuant to section 29 of the Wine Overseas Marketing Act 1929 1 present the annual report of the Australian Wine Board for the year ended 30 June 1978.

page 357


Minister for Defence · Moreton · LP

– Pursuant to sections 10 and 10a of the Royal Australian Air Force Veterans’ Residences Act 1953 I present the Royal Australian Air Force Veterans’ Residences Trust annual report and the associated Auditor-General’s report for the year ended 30 June 1 978.

page 357


Mr McLeay:
Minister for Administrative Services · BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– Pursuant to section 48 of the Australian Housing Corporation Act 1975 and section 50B of the Defence Service Homes Act 1918 I present a further copy of the annual report of the Australian Housing Corporation for the year ended 30 June 1976. This version is in substitution for the copy which I presented on 2 1 November 1978 and which contained certain printing errors.

page 358


Mr McLeay:
Minister for Administrative Services · BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– Pursuant to section 48 of the Defence Service Homes Corporation Act 1976 and section 50B of the Defence Service Homes Act 1918, 1 present a further copy of the annual report of the Defence Service Homes Corporation for the year ended 30 June 1977. This version is in substitution for the copy which I presented on 21 November 1978 and which contained certain printing errors.

page 358


Minister for National Development · Bass · LP

– For the information of honourable members I present a report entitled ‘A Basis for Soil Conservation Policy in Australia’, being the first report of the Commonwealth and State Government Collaborative Soil Conservation Study 1975-77 prepared under the auspices of the former Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development.

page 358


Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for the Capital Territory · Wentworth · LP

– Pursuant to section 44 of the Australian Film Commission Act 1975 I present the annual report of the Australian Film Commission for the year ended 30 June 1977.

page 358



-Mr Speaker, I seek your guidance because of a remark made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) during his speech. He said that in private discussions, honourable members on this side had expressed to him privately their dissatisfaction with the Prime Minister. I would have thought that private discussions between honourable members were not normally raised in this House. I understood that under the rules of this House one did not in the course of debate challenge honourable members on the opposite side of the House about the subject of private discussions because that is the basis of all parliamentary discussion and honour. It was a remark -


-The honourable gentleman has made his point and I capture it. The fact is that the Leader of the Opposition alluded to private conversations which he is perfectly entitled to do under the Standing Orders. Under the Standing Orders he would be entitled to even name the persons, but I would think of that as a gross breach of parliamentary tradition were he to do so. In fact, he did not.


– Further to your important ruling, for an honourable member, whatever his standing in this House, to make a blanket reference of this sort simply must be out of order.


– It is not out of order.

page 358


Sir William McMahon:

-I wish to make a personal explanation.


-Does the right honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Sir William McMahon:

– Yes. I have been misrepresented twice by Russell Schneider of the Australian and of the Weekend Australian. He is a man who usually knows the facts and it is unusual to find him to be wrong as on these two occasions. Referring to my selection as the Leader of the Liberal Party in 1971, he said, ‘The next -

Mr Cohen:

– You will come back.

Sir William McMahon:

– Please shut up and be gracious enough to listen.


-Order! I will not allow the proceedings of the House to continue until the House performs in a manner fitting the national Parliament.

Sir William McMahon:

- Mr Schneider said:

The next day Bill McMahon- a friend of Robinson’s (he and his wife stayed, and still stay, at Robinson’s Isle of Capri home)- was Leader.

I have a home of my own there, and I stay there. I have to admit that sometimes my wife finds comfort and solace in the home of the Robinsons. My kids frequently like to visit there for breakfast and sometimes for dinner at night. Apart from that we live in our own place. This year we had as many as six kids staying there and were not able to move out of it much.

The next matter relates to an article about the conduct of business in the House last Wednesday. In it Russell Schneider said:

At the same time, the most interesting floor fight for many years was taking place. Mr Lynch was dragged out of his office to start heavying his mates. So were a number of other Ministers. The result was tension, floor fights (at one stage Mr Lynch was competing with former Prime Minister Sir William McMahon for support in the chamber itself) -

It is a strange use of words- . . . and five Liberal backbenchers abstaining in addition to the three- Mr Goodluck . . .

The point is that there was no disagreement between Mr Lynch and myself. We came to the conclusion that it was an occasion when there should be conciliation and, far from a clash of views and possibly, too, of rancour, we thought that it would be far better if he could achieve an amicable settlement of the problem, or, if that was not possible, let debate be worked out until the closure so that there could be no vote. That was the whole subject of our discussion. Regrettably, notice was not taken of Mr Lynch, the Deputy Leader of the Party. I am glad that he later succeeded, and we now have Mr Eric Robinson back as Minister for Finance.

page 359


The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:

Cocos (Keeling) Islands Amendment Bill 1979. Postal Services Amendment Bill 1979.

page 359


Discussion of Matter of Public Importance


– I have received letters from the honourable members for Port Adelaide (Mr Young), Indi (Mr Ewen Cameron) and Ballarat (Mr Short) proposing that definite matters of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion today. As required by Standing Order 107, I have selected one matter for discussion, that is, that proposed by the honourable member for Port Adelaide, namely:

The gross inadequacies of the Government’s measures to assist the unemployed.

I, therefore, call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.

More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-

Port Adelaide

-Mr Speaker -

Motion (by Mr Sinclair) put:

That the business of the day be called on. The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden)

AYES: 80

NOES: 35

Majority……. 45



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

page 359



-by leave-The matter that I wish to draw to the attention of the House is of great importance to the Parliament and its committees. It concerns the reporting by the Press of proceedings of parliamentary committees. On 8 February, the Joint Select Committee on the Family Law Act held public hearings in Canberra, the principal witness appearing before it being the Attorney-General’s Department.

On the following day, 9 February, when the Committee was also meeting in Canberra, a number of newspaper reports of the proceedings of the previous day were brought to the Committee’s attention. These articles, instead of reporting what actually had been said to the Committee, under sensationalised headlines such as ‘Maintenance for women “must go” ‘, selected complaints made by members of the public to the Attorney-General and then represented them as being endorsed by the Department. This of course was not the case, but nevertheless the Daily Telegraph, the Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald and other newspapers elsewhere in Australia created a dangerously false impression of the Department’s submission. Those reports were in fact blamed for an event in Melbourne whereby a group called the Women’s Revolutionary Guerilla Army threw a brick through the Attorney-General’s Department’s Office window. It may well have been more serious. In addition each newspaper contained a statement that the Committee’s deliberations would be over a period of some three years.

With the concurrence of the Committee I wrote to the editors of the Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph saying that the Committee was concerned to ensure that the public obtain a balanced view of the evidence being taken by the Family Law Act Committee, and offered its co-operation in ensuring that this was possible. It was not until the weekend that my attention was drawn to an editorial that appeared in the Sydney Daily Mirror of Friday, 9 February, which stated:

The number of type of complaints to the Federal Attorney-General’s Department about the Family Law Act are only a shadow of the real extent of public disquiet about this controversial law.

Women in particular are concerned because they feelwith justification- that the Act takes away any protection they may have had under the old divorce laws.

Indeed it often seems that the only ones to benefit from the Act are people who change partners like ordinary people change their underwear.

The Act has now been in force for three years and the thought that it will take another three years to examine its impact on the community is a little disturbing.

The Federal Government seems to be bent on establishing records for the speed with which it pushes through legislation.

But it would do well to speed up its review of the Act by the Federal Attorney-General’s Department and repeal the Family Law Act if it has, in fact, been a flop.

I do not wish to detain the House, but honourable members will recognise the inaccuracies of fact and the unfounded and sweeping assertions made about the Act contained in this editorial. I wrote to the editor of the Mirror on 12 February informing him that the inquiry was being conducted by a select committee of the Parliament and that its resolution of appointment requires it to report not within three years but by 31 December this year. I concluded by requesting him to publish a correction. To the best of my knowledge, this has not yet been done. Unfortunately the impression has been created in the mind of the public that this Committee will take 3 years to report and this in turn has caused great concern and distress. This misapprehension is most unfortunate and must be corrected. To date none of the newspapers which so reported appears to have seen fit to do so.

The task which the Joint Select Committee is appointed to perform is of great importance. The provisions and operations of the Family Law Act affect many thousands of Australians in an extremely sensitive area of their lives. In appointing the Committee, Parliament has established a public forum to enable those with views about the Act and its operation to express those views. It is the Committee’s intention to ensure that the entire range of those views can be expressed in the course of the inquiry. It is vital that in reporting public hearings, the media co-operates with the Committee to ensure that what is conveyed to the public is a balanced view of the evidence given and of the different attitudes concerning the Act. The Press can play a constructive role by providing the public with accurate information and fair reports or it can trivialise and sensationalise the issues.

I consider this to be an issue of great importance to this House and to the effectiveness of our committee system. Unless reporting of proceedings is fair and accurate the efforts of committees such as the Joint Select Committee on the Family Law Act to inform the public and facilitate intelligent debate on family law will be frustrated. The Committee intends to take this matter up with the Press Council, but I raise it in this place at this time because it seems to me to be a matter of concern to the Parliament as a whole. The Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Senator Coleman, will today deliver a statement in similar terms in another place.

Mr LIONEL BOWEN (KingsfordSmith) by leave- The Opposition has representatives on the Joint Select Committee on the Family Law Act. I find that the Committee is working very well. It is taking evidence from all people who are interested in the problems of family law and the problems of the family. The fact is that the Committee is functioning effectively and efficiently. It should be placed on record that it is due to report to this Parliament within 12 months and that it will certainly report this year. I support what the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock) has said. There will be no delay and it will be important, if we are to have some constructive consideration of what has happened, that the Press and the media really understand the problems of the family. They need not worry about the Committee but about the problems of the family. They can offer as many constructive suggestions as they like but they should not try to belittle the Committee because such action will only weaken the chances of getting effective amendments should they be necessary.

page 361


Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · Farrer · LP

– I move:

Excise Tariff Proposal Nos. 1 and 2 (1979) which I have just tabled formally place before Parliament certain alterations to the Excise Tariff introduced during the summer recess by authority of Gazette Notices Nos. 1 and 2 (1978) under section 160B of the Excise Act. Proposal No. 1 (1979) increases the excise duty on naturally occurring liquefied petroleum gas by 0.04c per litre to $13 per kilolitre operating on and from 1 December 1978. This change followed the announcement by the Minister for National Development (Mr Newman) on a package of measures designed to encourage the use of liquefied petroleum gas as an alternative energy source. Proposal No. 2 (1979) increases the excise duty on stabilised crude petroleum oil from $64.53 to $70.98 per kilolitre operating on and from 1 January 1979. This alteration followed determination, by the Minister for National Development, of new import parity prices for the period 1 January to 30 June 1 979 in accordance with the Government’s decision that all Australian-produced crude oil should be priced to refineries at import parity levels. I commend the proposals.

Debate (on motion by Mr Lionel Bowen) adjourned.

page 361


Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs and Minister assisting the Prime Minister · Stirling · LP

– For the information of honourable members I present the Ord River Irrigation Area Review: 1978- A joint Commonwealth and Western Australian review.

page 361


Ministerial Statement

Minister for Foreign Affairs · Kooyong · LP

– by leave- During the period in which I have been responsible for Australia’s foreign policy, international affairs have been largely dominated by economic issues, international recession, inflation, the drift towards protectionism, concerted pressure for economic change by the developing countries and the ensuing dialogue between north and south- all combined to ensure that this was so. Of necessity, therefore, most of my previous statements to this House on foreign policy have focussed to a considerable extent on international economic matters and their implications.

In dealing with these matters, however, I have consistently and emphatically sounded one warning: That it is utterly and dangerously wrong to assume that the prominence these economic questions has acquired means that the traditional issues of power politics are no longer of fundamental importance. These issues are in no sense displaced or rendered obsolete by the growth of economic interdependence or by anything else. So long as the world is organised in a system of sovereign states, power will continue to be the main arbiter in international affairs. Any doubt about the validity and importance of that warning should have been dispelled by recent events. Taken together these events represent a deterioration in the international strategic and political environment which has serious implications for our interests, as well as for those of our regional and Western partners. They are of grave concern to the Government.

In this statement I will concentrate on the current geo-political situation and the Government’s response to it. In general outline, the features of the situation are familiar to honourable members. After 3 1/2 years of comparative quiet, South East Asia is again the scene of armed conflict- first with the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea, then with the conflict between China and Vietnam. The conflicts reflect and were created by the hostility and rivalry existing among four states: The Soviet Union, China, Vietnam and Kampuchea. No one else contributed to them. No one else wanted them.

In the Middle East and west Asia, a region of enormous strategic importance, instability has increased alarmingly. Military and political confrontation threaten the whole region. The most dramatic event has been the collapse from essentially internal causes of the Shah’s regime in

Iran. But this event- though of critical importance in its own right- cannot be seen in isolation. It follows closely on Marxist coups in Afghanistan and South Yemen, coups which have resulted in a very significant increase in Soviet influence in both countries. It has also happened at a time when Iran’s neighbour, Turkey, is experiencing very serious economic and political difficulties. This pattern of events is unfolding when negotiations between Egypt and Israel are at a critical and finely balanced stage and when the area can least afford further uncertainty and confusion.

In the Horn of Africa, military and political confrontation is not a threat but an established fact. It looks like remaining so for the foreseeable future. The same is true of southern Africa where the situation in Zimbabwe is becoming critical and prospects for a peaceful settlement of the civil war on the basis of majority rule are receding. Both in the Horn and in southern Africa, indigenous conflicts and instabilities which were already serious enough have been rendered progressively more so during the last four or five years by the pouring in of vast quantities of sophisticated arms- and the advisers deemed necessary to deploy them. I emphasise this deliberate and substantial militarisation of African conflict by outside states- particularly the Soviet Union and its Cuban surrogates- because I do not think that the qualitative change it has wrought in African affairs has registered clearly enough.

Looking at this tense and volatile situation in the broad, I believe that several aspects require emphasis. First, the regions involved are not on the periphery of international politics, not of marginal significance. On the contrary, they are geo-politically critical. They possess vital resources and some of the world ‘s strategic ‘chokepoints’ are located in them. Collectively, their destiny is not merely of local or regional consequence but of vital global concern. Together they form a significant segment of the southern rimland of Asia and adjoining parts of Africa and as such constitute the interface between land and sea power. What happens in these regions is of great significance to the balance between those two forms of power. Second, it is a dangerous fallacy to assume that local conflicts in such critical areas can be contained and managed indefinitely. Instability is infectious. Unless resolved, local crises have a habit of getting bigger. An alternative to timely resolution of these crises is likely to be wider, more dramatic and inherently more dangerous confrontations at a later stage.

Third, the current instability coincides with what are widely assumed to be the final stages of the negotiations for SALT II- the strategic arms limitation talks. The Australian Government strongly supports the completion of SALT II as a crucial contribution to arms control over the next decade. It is precisely because we do so that it is necessary to point out that both in strategic and political terms what is currently happening in Africa, the Middle East and Asia endangers a new SALT agreement. Such agreements cannot rest on air. They cannot be divorced from the general strategic and political environment and, to the extent that that environment deteriorates, their credibility as instruments of crisis management is diminished. They are a product of- not a substitute for- a basic minimum of trust. And if that trust is absent it is difficult to see how they can be concluded, let alone be made effective.

My fourth general observation is that all the conflicts and instability to which I have referred are taking place in Third World countries. Those who believe that the Government’s emphasis on Third World matters is misplaced should ponder this. Over the last three decades, the strategic, ideological and economic interests of the great powers have consistently interacted with the affairs of the Third World. To that extent there is nothing new in the present situation. But there is one difference. Over the last few years, and for a variety of reasons, one of the superpowers- the United States- has adopted a lower posture and a strategically less active policy towards the Third World. Many, inside the United States and outside it, have welcomed this. I will simply observe, as a matter of fact, that this restraint has not resulted in a greater insulation of the Third World from international power politics. On the contrary, it has coincided with the rapid rise of the situation we now face.

I make one last general observation, also concerning the Third World aspect. When we think of the Third World, we are conditioned to think in terms of poverty and the problems of poverty. But in this case one of the regions- the Middle East- is not only the richest in the Third World but contains some of the countries with the highest per capita incomes anywhere in the world. And one of the key countries, Iran, had experienced significant economic growth and modernisation before its current troubles. It is well to remember therefore- and it is a question of remembering, for the truth is amply illustrated in the West’s own earlier experience- that exceedingly rapid economic growth can cause profound social, cultural and political dislocation. This is particularly the case when it impacts on a traditional society unused to coping with change. This is a point of the utmost importance, for there are many Third World countries which are currently experiencing rapid growth and some of them are in our region. We should not make the easy assumption that as growth occurs these political problems will diminish and disappear. We should rather be appreciative of the serious problems of social and political adjustment which will confront them as a result of their economic progress. If we wish to avoid further instability and conflict we should be concerned to be sensitive not only to the needs of the poor of the Third World but to those who are achieving a measure of economic success. I repeat: Those who believe that international political and strategic questions and the economic questions relating to the Third World are separate matters are profoundly mistaken. They are doomed to be surprised by the world.

In our region the conflict in Indo-China is the greatest cause of concern and I now turn to look in more detail at this and the Government’s reaction to it. The basic situation which now exists in Indo-China is a matter of great concern and disappointment to the Government. But it is not a source of great surprise. In the foreign policy statement which I issued for the Liberal and National Country Parties three and a half years ago, in October 1975, we recognised that:

Regionally, in the aftermath of the Vietnam war, South East Asia seems set to become a major theatre for the working out of a Sino-Soviet rivalry.

That document went on to recognise the weight of Vietnam in that context and concluded:

The unstable relationship between these three powers is certain to have an important effect on regional affairs in the near future.

I refer to that document to establish that the Government’s early recognition of the present crisis was firmly based on a long-standing anaylSls of the strategic situation.

When the Liberal and National Country Parties came to office, however, we did not base our foreign policy on the assumption that conflict among the three communist states was inevitable. The main thrust of our policy was to work to integrate Vietnam into the peaceful and generally prosperous life of the region. For a while, there were promising signs that this would happen. No one sought to isolate Vietnam or to make it difficult for her to enter fully into the life of the region. The member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations, even in the face of the Vietnamese Government’s sponsoring of the flood of refugees with which they had to cope, were positive and forthcoming in their dealings with Vietnam. Australia, Japan and other Western countries gave aid to Hanoi and sought to encourage her more active participation in the international community. In the case of the United States there were special problems in the aftermath of the war; but it seemed that these were gradually being resolved. Vietnam joined and received assistance from international bodies.

The situation began to deteriorate last year with increasing hostilities between Kampuchea and Vietnam, a worsening relationship between China and Vietnam and the signing of a Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation- which included a military assistance clause- between the Soviet Union and Vietnam. That deterioration became precipitate with the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea. It has been suggested in some quarters that the nature of the Pol Pot regime of Kampuchea provided some justification for Vietnam’s invasion. But Vietnam did not take over Kampuchea in order to restore civil liberties and the fact that the Pol Pot regime was an evil and vicious despotism in no way affects our opposition to the methods of its removal by Vietnam.

The Vietnamese attack on Kampuchea was an attack by a client of the Soviet Union on a client of China. Whatever its motivation the attack bore directly on the rivalry and competition between the Soviet Union and China for long term influence in the region- and, more generally, on the whole Sino-Soviet dispute. It was therefore doubly objectionable from our point of view first, because it sought to settle a dispute within the region by military means of the most extreme kind, a general invasion across a border; second, because it created the conditions for an escalation of great power rivalry in the region. It was a mark of the gravity with which the Government viewed this action that Australian aid to Vietnam was suspended.

China’s subsequent incursion into Vietnam can only be understood as a reaction to Vietnam’s treaty with the Soviet Union, its invasion of Kampuchea and the installation there of a pro- Vietnamese Government. China’s motives in striking across the border do not relate only to a border dispute but are aimed at Vietnam’s political influence in Kampuchea, which is beyond China’s immediate reach. In turn, its concern about events in Kampuchea relate not only to the extension of Vietnamese influence but also to the role of the Soviet Union as Vietnam’s principal -backer. The issue between China and Vietnam therefore is not likely to be resolved with any element of permanence by a settlement on the

Vietnam-China border which leaves the situation in Kampuchea unchanged.

In responding to this unfolding crisis, the Government quickly and accurately assessed the course the crisis was likely to follow. We took prompt action to draw international attention to the gravity of the situation and to mobilise international opinion to press for moderation and to press for restraint. Indeed, we were among the first to do so. We have counselled prudence and moderation on all the parties to the conflict. We have called on Vietnam to withdraw its forces from Kampuchea, on China to withdraw its forces from Vietnam and on the Soviet Union to exercise restraint to prevent the last turn of the screw, which could be disastrous not merely for the region but for the peace of the world. It is to the latter ‘s credit that in the current phase of the crisis it has so far shown such restraint.

Throughout, we have been open with the people of Australia- giving prior warning, explaining our understanding of the situation, what we are doing and why we were doing it. We are under no illusions that we can play the pivotal role in resolving this crisis. However, that is no reason for not taking action and doing so as effectively and as energetically as we can. I do not intend wasting much time on the Opposition’s performance during this crisis. From the national point of view it is not a matter for rejoicing that it has been so feeble. Emotional charges or Cold War mentality do no good in the face of a serious regional crisis. It is those who respond to any warning of danger by making such charges who are the real emotional and intellectual prisoners of the Cold War.

The parrot cry of ‘even-handedness’ is no substitute for thinking through a policy. The Opposition has accused the Government of a proChina bias. The only bias this Government has in regional affairs is towards peace and stability. To the extent that China, if left alone and unprovoked, would prefer peace and stability at this stage of its development in order to concentrate on internal modernisation, and only to that extent, there is a convergence between its present interest and ours. Is it being suggested that we should therefore change our interests in order to escape the charge of bias and ensure evenhandedness? The idea is absurd. Apart from this, all the Opposition has said is: ‘Take the matter to the Security Council’. Fair enough! This is precisely what the Government has done. Last month the Government’s views about the dangers of Vietnam’s action in Kampuchea were put before the Council. Our representative called for a peaceful solution based on a cease-fire and withdrawal of Vietnam’s forces.

I pause momentarily from my reading of the text to remind the House that on not one occasion have honourable members opposite called for the withdrawal of Vietnamese forces from Kampuchea. Last week, the Government with other governments including those of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Japan called for an urgent meeting of the Security Council. Last Saturday, our representative again expressed the Government’s views very clearly. He emphasised that there should be immediate cease-fires in the conflicts, that Vietnam must withdraw its forces from Kampuchea and China must withdraw its forces from Vietnam and that there should be concerted efforts leading to lasting settlements, possibly using the good offices of the Secretary General. The Council already has two resolutions before it: A Soviet- draft calling for a Chinese withdrawal and a Chinese draft calling for a Vietnamese withdrawal. Obviously, a broadly-based resolution has not yet been found, but we hope that there will be a positive and constructive outcome.

I can assure the House that the Government will not sit back. We will continue, in company with our regional and other friends, to search for and to consider all possible means which may help restore peace and stability in the South East Asian region.

I turn now to a second issue of pressing concern to the Government, the political upheaval in Iran and its ramifications. Iran is a major country in one of the world’s most sensitive and important regions. It is a neighbour of the Soviet Union, a major oil producer and a principal member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Its location on the Persian Gulf gives it strategic importance. Until very recently- although its regime was repressive- Iran was an important force for order and stability in an extremely volatile area. Any change in the political configuration of the Gulf region which were to jeopardise access to energy resources would represent a major threat to the economic well-being of the West. The cessation of oil exports from Iran, previously the world’s second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia, has brought into focus again- as if the 1973 oil crisis was not sufficientthe world’s heavy dependence on imported oil, most of which originates from the Middle East region. It has also reminded the world that oil is not simply an economic and resource problem but also a political one and that the politics of the region are very unstable.

The glut on the world oil market has evaporated virtually overnight. The world’s vulnerability to further supply dislocation has increased. The situation, if it persists, could have adverse repercussions on oil prices, inflation, trade, economic growth and on international relations generally. Given our partial selfsufficiency in oil, Australia has not yet been severely affected by the Iranian situation. However, we have to be concerned at the possible future impact on our major trading partners who are more directly affected. Assured delivery of oil is just as vital as an assured source of production and supply. The entire area of the Indian Ocean is influenced by the quest for oil and access to major oil fields. Geography has made it possible for a few countries, especially in the Gulf region, to control vital choke-points to and from the Indian Ocean. Political instability in the Gulf region, highlighted by the dramatic events in Iran, has therefore considerable strategic significance.

The West has very sound reasons for being concerned over developments in Iran. With its commanding position at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, through which the bulk of oil is shipped, Iran has acted as a deterrent to antiwestern forces within and beyond the area. What has happened in Iran has to be considered at several levels. The situation inside the country itself has still to be resolved and it is still far from certain what the outcome will be. In terms of the local balance of power within the Gulf region itself, one of the principal restraints on the ambitions of several countries concerned to challenge the status quo has been removed, at least for the time being, and the balance has been seriously disturbed. In terms of the so-called ‘northern tier’ countries- that border on the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics- the upheaval in Iran, following closely on the proSoviet coup in Afghanistan and accompanied by very shaky conditions in Turkey, creates an entirely new situation.

In ideological and political terms, it remains to be seen what ‘demonstration effect’ the Iranian revolution will have on neighbouring countries whose internal stability can never be taken for granted. Again, this has to be considered in conjunction with other recent political successes by radical elements within the region. But in the case of Iran there is the added question of what effect the resurgence of a populous Islamic fundamentalism will have on the region and, for that matter, beyond it in other Islamic countries. The indications are that the resurgence of Islam could cause significant and far reaching changes in the world. It is a revived force of great dynamism which is being generated in the context of social and cultural changes. It is our earnest hope that this force will be harnessed effectively to the benefit of both Muslim countries and the remainder of the world.

Last, it would be idle to deny that events in Iran are also important in geo-political terms. With Saudi Arabia, Iran was the West’s principal friend in the region. The comparative ease with which the Shah was removed and the fact that major Western powers could not affect the course of events must have some influence on perceptions both inside the region and beyond it. It will be vitally important that wrong conclusions are not drawn and that the temptation to exploit the situation in opportunistic fashion is resisted. This region is vital to Western interests and it should be apparent that there are very distinct limits to what the West can tolerate in terms of external attempts to undermine its position. Western countries will have to come to terms with the new realities, but it is also true that others will have to come to terms with the continuing reality of the Western interests which are at stake there. Australia, along with other Western governments, has indicated its willingness to work for good relations with the new Government in Tehran.

I have talked at length about two critical situations and touched on others which deserve equally full treatment. But I will leave them for another occasion. I have said enough to indicate the general air of uncertainty and tension which currently hangs over the international scene. At the end of this decade of detente there are many signs that a familiar international landscape is changing and that new patterns are emerging. This is true not only within particular regions but also at the global, great power level. Some of the changes which have taken place at that levelthe establishment of full diplomatic relations between, the United States of America and China, the expansion of Japan’s relations with Chinaare in themselves desirable; but what significance they will ultimately have will depend on how they fit into a picture which is not yet complete.

As we approach the 1980s some perceptive commentators are pointing to a dangerous asymmetry. While the Soviet Union is increasing its already enormous military power faster than any other country, and while it is increasingly active in relation to the trouble spots of the world, politically it is the odd-man-out among the great powers. A country which at the same time feels militarily confident and politically vulnerable may easily miscalculate, especially if its military effort imposes increasingly heavy economic burdens and especially if its decision-making processes are complicated by the likelihood of an impending change of leadership. The regional crises that I have been discussing must be measured against this background as well as in their own terms.

The Government is committed to work for peace and the reduction of tension. That commitment is global. The Government will do what it can to support all efforts to promote peace and stability. To this end, should the proposed United Nations peacekeeping force in Namibia be established, the Government has decided to offer an Australian contribution to that force. But the commitment is most fully demonstrated, and necessary, in our own region. We are committed, not only for moral and ideological reasons, but also because it is in Australia’s vital interest that we should live in peaceful and stable surroundings. Our security and economic prosperity depend upon it. We have an interest in making it clear that we oppose the settling of disputes by military means. It is for these reasons that we made a real effort to prevent the situation in Indo-China from developing. As it has developed, we have sought to restrain the main protagonists.

The role a country like Australia can play has some limitations. But that must not be an excuse for inertia and resignation. There are several things that we can do as well as anyone else and they are not of negligible importance. We can endeavour to dispel inertia and complacency and to make a serious effort to understand, assess and explain what is happening. We can stimulate international interest with the aim of containing the current crises. We can work at creating and maintaining momentum for peace. As far as our region is concerned, we are as well placed as any to do these things. If we do not, we can hardly complain if other, more distant countries, fail to do so.

I present the following paper:

The Geo-political Situation: A Pattern of InstabilityMinisterial Statement, 27 February 1979.

Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:

That the House take note of the paper.

Suspension of Standing Orders

Motion (by Mr Sinclair) agreed to:

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) speaking for a period not exceeding 30 minutes.

Smith · Kingsford

– I thank the House. Mr Deputy Speaker, I say at the outset that we of the Opposition are very anxious to put our point of view concerning the issue which is the subject of the ministerial statement presented today by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock). In our view the Government does not have clean hands on this issue. We must go back to considering the fundamental problems of Indo-China. We must look at what has been said in this Parliament before, particularly by the men who are in office now and were in office prior to 1972. It has to be recognised that the first time a real and tangible effort was made by an Australian government to achieve peace in Vietnam was after the Australian Labor Party was elected to government in December 1972.

Mr Birney:

– Rubbish!


-It is not rubbish. Although honourable members opposite do not want to listen to the facts, let us put the record before them again. On 13 May 1975, a White Paper was tabled in this House. It is very important that all honourable members opposite should go back in history and look at the facts of the situation in Vietnam at that time because then Indo-China was a continuing festering sore. I quote the following words from that White Paper:

Despite the fact that the Government of South Vietnam on 29 April 1965 announced that the Australian battalion was sent in response to a request from South Vietnam, this is not borne out by the evidence of the documents.

We have seen deception and hostility exhibited by the very people who, in a sense, are asking: Can we have peace in the world, particularly in the area to our north? There also appear these words:

Australian military aid to South Vietnam was in fact offered and supplied in response to the known and frequently expressed wishes of the United States for political support from its friends and allies . . .

We saw the position developing and now we inherit its legacy. There was a theory at that time of the downward thrust of China. The Government must be surely running away from the domino theory today. Those dominoes have come up and are going backwards. The John Foster Dulles position was that we must contain China and must be involved in Vietnam. That was the analysis of what was called a forward defence policy. But that policy was developed in Australia by very much the same gentlemen who now occupy the Government benches and it was developed on the basis that it was an independent policy for Australia. We saw then diplomatic efforts made virtually to involve the United States in Indo-China. The paper says:

The period is marked also by little concern with Vietnam’s wishes and its national sensitivities.

We do not see any admission of that today by a Minister who was a member of those governments. We can see the great problem of deceit and deception which went right across the socalled aura of the Menzies Administration and those that followed. We saw this sort of situation coming when our then Ambassador in the United States, Sir Howard Beale, in a report on 5 December 1961, suggested that it would make a very favourable impression on the United States if we were to supply counter insurgency training personnel, small arms and ammunition in Vietnam. That was the message of our Ambassador. When Mr Barwick, as he then was, was a member of this House and Minister for External Affairs we saw throughout 1962 cables on the basis of: ‘Can we not do something about military aid?’ We saw Sir Paul Hasluck, he was then Minister for Defence, also encouraging involvement in Vietnam.

The reason I am saying these things is to recapitulate the situation as we can imagine the Vietnamese or the Chinese saw it then. Elections were fought and won in Australia on a platform of being against China and the threat of communism by China. Now it becomes a little difficult to understand the Minister’s statement today, apart from the remarks that the Opposition is weak and feeble. We can understand that, but the record proves otherwise. I have been in Hanoi as a Minister of a Labor government. I do not see any Minister of the present Government ever being able to go there. If the Minister went there he would see the hostility and the problems of the people of Vietnam. We were the first government to recognise China because we went and saw the problems of China. We do not approve of any totalitarian regime. We do not approve of communism; it has no future from the point of view of humanity. But by the same token, they are not the only problems. We must look at the fact that empty bellies can often seek a solution through the gun. If we do not look at problems of land reform and the ability of the average person in these countries to get the wherewithal for life we have the seeds of revolution. If we look at communism and its spread we will see that it has come against totalitarianism, fascism and all the autocratic regimes that preceded it. There was never a chance for the ballot box in Vietnam. Despite Australia’s contributions, which were made in military terms, when the Paris Peace Accords were announced we were not even invited to take part in the deliberations.

Having set the scene, I want to make it very clear that the Opposition has not wavered from its policies of peace, discussion and an ability to recognise the dangers to this country. It is a little late now for the Government to talk about the great tensions and problems, because what we have today is a statement by the Prime Minister that notes the problems in Iran and talks about Islamic fundamentalism in a number of countries. They are there.

Mr Peacock:

– Thank you for the promotion.


-I am sorry; I was talking in terms of things to come. The point I want to make is that it is, of course, a problem, but it is not a problem that we will solve. The honourable gentleman is on record in the middle 1960s as having said that the problems of Vietnam would be solved by the United States and Australia. How wrong he was. I invite him to go there at some time. We have got to put forward now the position as we see it today. The Opposition is not impressed with the sudden burst of activity that has taken place between the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Foreign Minister. They are a duet that at times, we find, does not sing in accord. Nevertheless, in several cases they are now coming into focus on issues. The point they are now making, in unison apparently, is that there is a development that we must do something about because of the tension. But we make the point very strongly that the Government’s failure to anticipate developments and the inadequacies of its policies prior to now have left us without any effective leverage at all. In spite of the Minister’s windy rhetoric about the changing future, the Government’s response is very much like it was in the past and is dangerous. The pronouncement and the stateofthenation address by the Prime Minister last week, as we all know, left us in doubt as to what it was about. Eventually we got it on Thursday. It is extraordinary to think that we had to wait for three days of parliamentary sittings before we could hear about it because there was certainly an international crisis to the north. It would appear that the problems of the Ministry were flowing through the reasons for the delay in that statement.

I am reminded that the present Minister for Foreign Affairs makes it very clear that any draft speeches submitted to him will never refer to the Prime Minister, and the same Minister, as recently as January, broke the established practice of Cabinet behaviour by canvassing the issues and stating his opposition to the Government’s decision to cut aid to Vietnam. This Foreign Minister has also sought to dissociate himself from the three farmers running our foreign policy over the Association of South East Asian Nations air fares negotiations. Now at least he and the Prime Minister have found a common cause in a war and in their gloomy prognosis for the world, and they thrust this upon us to cover the mess they have made of the domestic and international issues.

Mr Baume:

– Garbage.


-How did the Government get into this mess? Mess is garbage, that is true. I turn now to the Government’s obsessions. In 1975 when the Government took office it did four things. Firstly, it sought in 1976 to dramatise the alliance with the United States, an alliance which Labor had sought to improve and place on an equal basis. Labor’s objectives were stood on their head by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. Their concept of an alliance was very much to regenerate, as I said earlier, the Dulles and Menzies eras- the. question of confrontation. In part they mimicked the United States. In part they urged on the United States the adoption of more conservative policies. Even when they differed with the United States they did so with their minds filled with delusions of grandeur created by their absorption with our ally’s defence and intelligence information. We have the balance, some would say, with the Prime Minister with his head in Washington and the Foreign Minister with his feet in Hollywood.

Secondly, these men restored our foreign relations with an obsession of a broader and engulfing question of deterioration. We had built good relations with China. We turned over the ground that was poisoned in Indo-China and China by the likes of Menzies, Hasluck, Barwick and others. Let it be on the record. The present Prime Minister and Foreign Minister could not sustain that relationship for its own virtue and instead proposed that we enter into another alliance, a treaty, between China, Japan and the United States. That was their policy of June 1976. Thirdly, these men put back into our foreign relations a poison and a hatred which serve no national purpose. But it accommodates the Prime Minister in anti-Sovietism and his persistent view is that the only two things wrong with Vietnam were that he lost and the Vietnamese won. I remind honourable members that in Vietnam we are amongst the most hated of all people because of our interference there. We lost 350 men in that conflict. The Vietnamese are anxious to point out the damage that they felt was done to their country by interference.

It was clear that this was an unwinnable war. We never saw the United Kingdom in Vietnam. We never saw Japan there. We never really saw the Canadians there except in a peace-keeping capacity. We know that the French got out. But Australia was suddenly involved in the war. The Vietnamese are interested to know why we were there. They want to know what aid we are to give them. I make that point because I was in Vietnam shortly after the bombing of Hanoi and I know of the damage that was done and the hatred that was engendered by this disastrous war.

No one bothers to talk about the power that was held by presidents of Vietnam. These people were not appointed by a ballot box- they were often appointed by a gun. They were very interested in their own prestige and position of power. When I was in Vietnam in 1973 to try to talk about democratic elections the person who opposed this concept most was President Thieu. This man was not interested in having elections to decide the presidency of South Vietnam. He was the first to get out of Vietnam when the balloon went up and he took 16 tonnes of gold with him. Let us make very clear what the policies of Liberal-National Country party governments have done in the past and how those governments have not been able to understand these issues.

Again we say that the Government has sought to take over for domestic political advantage the achievements of the Labor Government in relations with the region, in relations with the developing world and particularly in disarmament and arms control. But there existed and there exists a fundamental difference in approach. Labor has always sought to have Australia accepted as an equal. But we have in office now men who behave as though they are rulers or pretenders to rule.

The problems that confront us in foreign policy in 1979 relate to the turmoil that exists in the world. But in fact our problems derive from the Government’s obsessive beliefs, and its international misconduct, turned for a domestic purpose. Government Ministers give speeches about change but they have not been capable of anticipating and analysing change. They cannot react sensibly to change but they must always interpret it in terms of the threat to Australia. That sort of interpretation is damaging to public opinion at a time when our approach ought to be based on confidence of what we are about. Instead, we have an excited account of turmoil with scarcely any analysis of the consequences.

I want to put four issues before the Parliament. They relate to Indo-China and China; the Association of South East Asian Nations; West Asia; and the global balance, arms control and nuclear proliferation. We have seen war again in Indo-China in the past two months. Let us get the facts right. In December- January the army of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam invaded Kampuchea in strength, took Phnom Penh and installed a puppet regime to replace a regime of gothic brutality. Vietnamese forces marched to the Thai border and blockaded the coast. However, as direct engagements were largely avoided by both sides, Vietnamese forces are now quite hard pressed in both conventional and guerrilla engagements by Kampuchean forces. Their morale is high but there is the problem of arms supply. The consequences for Vietnam could be a very bloody contest over a period of months. What will happen beyond that is difficult to foresee. However, the Foreign Minister will know, as a former Army Minister, that imperialist armies of occupation in Indo-China find victory elusive. We are looking at a long drawn out struggle unless we can get some solutions to the problems.

During this month we have seen a Chinese invasion of Vietnam along the length of an illdefined border. The Chinese forces are large but their progress has been slow and we would hope there would be an opportunity for them to withdraw. Certainly their objectives appear to be limited at this stage. In the first week of their offensive they would appear to have engaged only irregular Vietnamese forces.

Mr Neil:

– Do you want the Vietnamese out of Kampuchea?


-The point is clear: We want peace in the world. We want to talk about how we can get it. However, I would be grateful if I could continue my speech without the aid of the honourable member. The Chinese have a problem and we will put forward the position as we see it. The reaction of the Government to these events has been somewhat hysterical. Ambassadors have been called in more than once; messages have been sent to other governments. We have been told of grave implications for our security. But in fact it has yet to be shown that any war in Indo-China in the past 30 years has posed any threat to Australia. It has yet to be shown that these new events change that.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– You always said that if China came in it represented danger to our security.


-Members of the Liberal and National Country parties have always said that a Liberal-National Country Party government had to be elected to prevent the downward thrust of China. We did not recognise when that was said that they were going to take the side of China.

A number of factors have precipitated these two war fronts. First, as we all know, there has been a long historical record of tension between these countries in the pre-colonial period. The Vietnamese have occupied Cambodia and tried to destroy its identity before. That, as I am reminded, goes back to 1830. The Chinese have occupied the Red River area of Vietnam for 1,000 years. Second, there is the history of the Indo-China Communist Party, including the desire for domination by the Vietnamese within that group. Third, and related to that, is the nature of the Geneva Agreements in 1974, and the exclusion of the Khmer Rouge from the political framework in Cambodia, forcing its leaders back to the jungle and dependence on external powers.

Fourth, there is the fact that these areas have been afflicted by war for decades, and the adjustment to peace must be long and difficult. With the departure of colonial occupying armies, the formulations of Geneva have shown their artificiality, not just for the colonisers but also for local powers. After 25 years of artificial external restraint, the adjustments are made among countries for which the long war has meant toughening or weakening. Fifth, there is the fact of the wholesale slaughter of the population of Kampuchea by the Pol Pot regime, including in particular its vicious and genocidal treatment of Cambodians of Vietnamese origins, several hundred thousand of whom have fled to Vietnam over the past several years. Sixth, the Vietnamese government, for half a decade, has been building and intensifying sentiment against Vietnamese of Chinese origin, hundreds of thousands of whom are, and many more of whom may become, refugees. Seventh, there have been military engagements on a progressively building scale between these three countries and in Laos over a period of years. There was plenty of time in this period for this Government to prepare itself for recent events or shape its policies. We say the Government has failed in that regard. Eighth, there is the recent history of Chinese engagement in the region. In May 1970 the United States invaded Cambodia, although this action was not described as a threat to Australia. The invasion failed and collapsed in a month. In that period, however, China established a firm tie to the Sihanouk regime which it nurtured in exile after Sihanouk was deposed by Lon Nol. China became the champion of anti-imperialist Cambodian independence in a way clearly reflecting China’s desire to contain Vietnam.

With the collapse of the American-sponsored government in Phnom Penh in 1975, China became patron of a government that came in from the jungle after a quarter of a century. Prime Minister Pol Pot and Foreign Minister Ieng Sary were married to sisters with whom they made up the majority in the Cabinet. This clique evacuated the cities and towns, liquidated the employees of the former government, its soldiers and their families, abolished money, forced the remaining population into labour camps, prohibited or punished recreation and casual conversation and persecuted and exterminated Vietnamese. China’s policy of support for that regime took it down a blind alley dictated by strategy and ‘consistency’.

In 1970 China was still in the process of emergence from the Cultural Revolution. It was in search of friends and policies. It had warmed towards the United States when the United States stood back from the Sino-Soviet conflict during the border clashes in 1969. But it was not until after the collapse of another United Statessupported attack from South Vietnam- the Lam Son operation into Laos in February-March 1971- that China began to negotiate with the United States, which it saw as a declining threat. It was not until after the purge of Lin Piao in September 1971 that the anti-Soviet line in China assumed clear ascendency and began to take the shape of a search for what Mao called a ‘united front’. This ‘united front’ has become the centrepiece of Chinese policy. At the moment, however, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Australia appear isolated in the world in the level of their acceptance of the Chinese operation against Vietnam as an antiSoviet operation.

China embarked on this united front strategy because of its sense of encirclement. It is important to note that the strategy has changed with changes in the Chinese leadership. Deng Xiaoping has been hailed by those in the West ready to do deals with him as fitting the mould of Zhou Enlai. But their method is completely different. Zhou characteristically always advanced his propositions by consensus. Deng seems to advance his propositions by riding over his opponents. The China of Mao, irrationally feared by those men opposite in this chamber in the 1960s, did not commit its armies to battle in Vietnam. The China of Deng Xiaoping, embraced by these men, has committed its armies into Vietnam. Yet the Government shows no signs of recognising its history of inspired folly in foreign policy.

This Government and the Chinese Government are the only governments to cut off aid entirely to Vietnam. We opposed that as also we would oppose the cancellation of the Government’s $50 billion credit line for exports to China which the Government’s logic should force it to cancel.

Mr Peacock:

– It is not true.


-It is true. We checked the situation. Perhaps existing programs will be allowed to phase out but you have terminated yours.

Mr Peacock:

– I will give you another example.


-The message given to us is that you are the only one. The cut-off of aid is part of a consistent pattern. Last August the Prime Minister was warning of Soviet naval interest in Cam Ranh Bay. He has been persistent in abuse of Vietnam. His Government has failed to send any Minister to Vietnam at any time for any purpose, not even to discuss the refugee problem. All of these factors contributed to Vietnam’s isolation from the West at a time when it sought aid from the West. The United States, over which the Government claims such influence, has sought to deny access to international bank finance to Vietnam. Vietnam was a member of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank long before these pressures, which smack of the pressures on Germany after the First World War. This is the problem. If this country is forced into these issues, it could well result in a base at Cam Ranh Bay.

Let us look at some of the other problems. This Government cannot carpet ambassadors. What we have here is a government with a compromise position. It has no influence. Its influence was nil before any battle started. What are the consequences of this involvement? It is far too early to tell what it will cost the principals but it will certainly damage their international influence. At the time of the Korean War, the Soviet Union was pleased to see China at war and can welcome now in its own terms the dissipation of China’s energy in the south. The Soviet Union need not lift a finger in the sense that it may well hope that China’s influence could fail.

With regard to China’s relations with the West, it can no longer be called the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s sixteenth member. The problem, of course, is that we should follow the events that have been occurring. This Government should be able to anticipate the problems and should be able to exercise a moderating influence on China. The Soviet Union is greatly advantaged by the Chinese operation in Vietnam. There is little sign that it will be forced to provide significant new levels of supply to Vietnam. The Soviet Union was delighted when China was embroiled in Korea in the 1950s and those qualities of spreading the interest and flexibility which so characterise Soviet policy are likely to be satisfied to see China at war with Vietnam and China’s relations with Vietnam being shattered for a generation.

The policy of the United States could be further confused. The United States could well look at these events in a number of ways. We make the point that the conservative elements in the United States could well think: ‘This is the right time to play the China card’. That would suit their policy. It would not matter really from the point of view of the merits of the situation but in terms of trade and other advantages their timing would be important. They could say: ‘Now we will play the China card’. The issues, of course, could well affect disarmament policies and the difficulties relating to SALT II could be increased. Failure by Brezhnev to secure SALT II may have ramifications with respect to the Soviet succession which are contrary to our interests. In these perspectives then the Government has pursued a policy in relation to IndoChina that is as bankrupt and destructive to Western interests as its policy towards the last Indo-China war.

I refer now to the Association of South East Asian Nations. The gulf between the ASEAN nations and Indo-China and China will be widened. The ASEAN countries do not accept the right of any country to invade a neighbour to remove a government that it does not like. They do not like the Chinese idea of military operations to teach people lessons. They feel some unease about the link between these events and the Chinese attitude towards Chinese elsewhere in the world. I draw the attention of the Foreign Minister to a conversation I had last week with a member of the Malaysian Parliament. I asked whether the present situation created more threats. He said: ‘No, the threat could not come any closer than it was in Saigon some time ago’. He said also that the Communist parties in Malaysia and Thailand were likely to become more divided and this seems to be a sensible and measured assessment.

However, I draw the attention of the House to the position of Thailand which is subject to strong pressure to assist in the Chinese resupply of the Democratic Kampuchean forces. Now is the time for Australian reassurance of support to Thailand, not in military terms but in economic and political terms. Hence the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) might be a better man than the Foreign Minister to send to Thailand were it not for the Deputy Prime Minister’s inability to comprehend anything beyond tonnages of exports. Turning more broadly to events in the ASEAN countries, we have not been impressed by the Foreign Minister’s performance on the issue of air fare negotiations. He has the problem that this Government is run by three farmers but that does not excuse him from not realising that relations were in jeopardy until he was told in writing by the five ASEAN Foreign Ministers. I invite him to devote more time and thought to his duty and to discuss these matters from the point of view of this nation.

In West Asia, the Foreign Minister sees gloomy prospects as a consequence of the events in Iran. The problem of the American commitment in Iran is very much the same as that of the American commitment in Vietnam. Regimes which resort to increasing repression cannot be sustained from the outside. Although my time has nearly expired, I have much more to say, particularly about disarmament, nuclear nonproliferation and other related issues. I conclude by saying that the Foreign Minister’s speech was a pattern of deception. The central elements of his arguments in relation to these various international elements can be linked with a decline in the power of the United States and the increase in the power of the Soviet Union. We say that this is not right. We warn the Foreign Minister that there are very distinct limits to what the Australian people can tolerate from him and from the other former Army Minister, the present Prime Minister. The Government is attempting to drag Australia into conflicts which are not our own, over which we can have no significant influence and which can only damage our interests.


-Last week this Parliament resumed and throughout three sitting days not one opportunity was taken by the members of the Opposition to question the Government about any matter concerning foreign policy. Not a single opportunity was taken by the Opposition to debate foreign policy as a matter of public importance, this most pressing issue of concern to the Australian people. I venture to suggest that there is a reason for this. It is simply that the Opposition has no viable foreign policy to offer. All we have heard from the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) is an historical resume of events in Indo-China over the last 25 years. In his last breath he decided to mention West Asia. At no stage did he mention Europe. Of course Africa is simply so far away that he does not even recognise that it exists. The statement made here today by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) was not only a concise and expert coverage of the very difficult situation facing Australia and the Western world but also examined matters which this Parliament, as a matter of prime responsibility to the Australian people, must take very seriously. Whether we like it or not, power and the perception of power will always remain the final and ultimate arbiters of the affairs of men. Whilst all of us wish for nothing more than peace between nations regardless of differences of ideological approach, the reality facing us today is that we have seen, over the last few years in particular, a steady but sure increase in the military capacity of the Soviet Union compared with the United States of America.

Since the fall of Saigon we have seen that the United States has significantly limited its international perception. These factors face us today with a set of circumstances which are not of our making. Whilst the honourable member for Kingsford Smith has accused us for our involvement in the Vietnam war, I venture to suggest that the fact remains that even if not one Australian soldier had ever served there the circumstances we see in South East Asia today would be basically the same. As this Government perceived in its policy to the Australian people at the time of the 1975 election, whether we like it or not South East Asia could be the Balkans of the 1980s. The states of Asia, whether they like it or not, are in a cauldron in which Soviet power and Chinese power are competing for influence. We remain on the sidelines of this current dispute. But it is a dispute which in many respects is placing the Western world- nay the entire world- on a knife edge. It is so easy to imagine a situation where one mistake, one miscalculation, one rifle bullet across an international frontier, could well be enough to launch the Soviet Union against China- an action which would result, quite likely, in disastrous consequences for all of mankind.

It is not possible today, with the strategic balance as it is, for one nation to take the view that it can stand back and let the great powers fight it out in far off South East Asia or, as the Europeans would call it, the Orient. Our world today is a relatively small place and nations have the capacity, in the form of intercontinental ballistic missiles and manned bombers, to travel great distances, for example from the Soviet Union to Australia, or from the United States to the Soviet Union- in fact virtually around the world. These are facts. Whilst members of the Opposition have failed utterly in recent days to present to the Australian people a demonstrated foreign policy we, as the Government of Australia, have no choice but to live with the realities of the circumstances facing us. That is precisely what the Government has done.

We are only a medium ranking power. We have been told by the Opposition how churlish it was for the Foreign Minister to call in foreign ambassadors to ask our ambassadors around the world to bring to the attention of the governments to which they are accredited the concern of the Australian people and of the Australian Government at the circumstances in South East Asia. What is churlish about that? I would have thought that was an act of the utmost responsibility and one which this Government has been prepared to adopt and to follow through. Our voice must be heard. Admittedly, we are not a strong nation in a military sense but we have strength in our part of the world in the economic sense and we are looked upon by many nations as a state which is responsible in its actions. Nevertheless, the circumstances in South East Asia are matters of the greatest concern and should be of great concern to all Australians and to the Western world.

The Minister has adequately covered the various problems relating to the China- Vietnam situation and there is no point in covering that matter any further. However, I wish to spend more time on the question of the Middle East and the geopolitical situation developing there, with specific reference to the question of oil. As I said previously, and I want to repeat this point, power and the perception of power will remain the final and ultimate arbiters of the affairs of men. One of the greatest sources of power today is energy and states which hold energy and the power which comes from it are in a very strong position to dictate the affairs of other states.

We have seen in Iran in recent weeks that the situation has deteriorated to the point where not only are the Iranians unable to get their oil wells operating but they are importing oil from other states of the Middle East. Yet Iran in normal circumstances represents to many countries in Western Europe a supply capacity of up to 60 per cent of their needs. Here in Australia we are fortunate. Imports from Iran represent not much more than 3 per cent of our oil consumption. However, as the Minister pointed out, unlike a few years ago when there were alternative sources of energy, today there is an increased demand for oil based energy relative to supply. When the taps in one country are turned off there is absolutely no guarantee that an alternative source of supply can be found in others. The influence which can be brought to bear by oil rich countries of the Middle East will demonstrate to Western Europe, and North America in particular, the capacity literally to cut the umbilical cord of their economies. No modern state today, as we well appreciate, can exist in those circumstances.

It has been pointed out by the Opposition on various occasions that the Government is not even-handed, that somehow or other our policy is pro-Chinese and anti-Soviet. The fact of the matter is that we are seeing the circumstances of the geopolitical balance for what they are; not for some dream of what we would like to perceive them to be. I quote, for the benefit of honourable members, the 1979 report of the Secretary of the United States Department of Defence. It states:

Between 1964 and 1977 Soviet military personnel increased from 3.4 to 4.4 million men. All the components of modern military power are now included in the Soviet armed forces, from intercontinental and strategic nuclear and thermo-nuclear forces to a wide range of non-nuclear capabilities-among them, chemical weapons. Each of these capabilities comprises weapons and support of increasing sophistication. Technologically, the Soviet military establishment is now approaching, in many but not all respects, the quality of our own.

Of course the report refers to the United States. It continues:

Furthermore, current intelligence estimates are that between 1964 and 1977 the Soviets spent an average of about 10 to IS per cent of their defence budget on forces oriented towards the Peoples Republic of China. At least 22 per cent of the increase in the Soviet defence budget during those 13 years has been attributed to the build-up in the Far East and the remaining 78 per cent, according to intelligence estimates, has gone to the strategic nuclear forces and the theatre forces oriented towards western Europe.

Despite this enormous military build-up by the Soviet Union in recent years, it must be recognised that since 1945 no Soviet unit has been placed in a military position against any other state. Despite the fact that no Soviet forces have been involved we are well aware that Soviet technology, Soviet experts, Soviet arms and equipment have been seen in many places in

Africa, in the Middle East and in South East Asia. In recent years there has not been one trouble spot, not even Northern Ireland, in which has not been found among the arsenal of those who wish to fight equipment supplied by the Soviet Union. Wherever there has been a tendency for governments to become unstable, Soviet penetration through local communists has become clear to all. Whilst the Iran situation to date cannot be directed at the Soviet, the fact remains that the activities of the Marxist elements which are currently in Iran have clearly demonstrated that the best we can expect from Iran is that the Ayatollah’s administration will be effective and be able to exert some degree of influence. But it is highly doubtful whether we will see a united Iran in the foreseeable future. On the other hand the implications of an Iran racked by civil war are very real indeed- a civil war with the Marxists on the one side and the Ayatollah’s forces on the other with the moderates of Iran, as usual, stuck somewhere in the middle. Out of this the Western world will be the greatest sufferer because significant energy sources will be in jeopardy and there are no alternative sources of supply.

The difficulty we are facing above all in the West is the lack of determination to face the realities which we have perceived and to decide to do something about them. As I mentioned earlier, the United States, following Vietnam and for obvious domestic traumatic reasons, deliberately withdrew unto itself and there has not been to our satisfaction a demonstrated determination in the US in recent years to assume its international responsibilities.

For example, in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation area of Western Europe there is again a degree of malaise in that the United States and its Western allies demonstrably do not have at this point of time at least equality of strategic capability with the Warsaw Pact countries, which include the Soviet Union. Throughout Africa we have been faced with a difficult situation. Cuban forces, armed and equipped by the Soviet, have again been prepared to be the catspaw of the Soviet Union, dabbling wherever possible in strife between states, in civil wars between rulers and people and between rulers and their own elite as in Chad. The biggest problem we are facing in the Middle East is the possibility that those who control access to our oil supplies ultimately control the destiny of Western Europe.

There is no reason why the West today can stand back and, in the short term, view what is happening with any satisfaction. In fact, we are seeing a pronounced deterioration in the relative strength of the United States and its allies visavis the Soviet Union and its allies, a pronounced deterioration in the capacity of the Western alliance to present a united face, and a deterioration in the capacity of the Third World to feel that in the West it has a group of states which are reliable, can be depended upon to make decisions and have the courage to carry them out for the welfare of mankind.

Leader of the Opposition · Oxley

– Any responsible country must impose on itself the tough discipline of maintaining a clear and balanced perspective of reality in its international relations. Essentially, this means that while a nation should not exaggerate the role it can play, neither should it underestimate its own capacity. This is especially important for Australia, a nation which this present Government likes to call a small-medium power. Let us not delude ourselves or sidestep our proper responsibilities. Australia can be a powerful influence for good in world affairs. Australia can and should adopt a consistent role in international relations for the human and moral values we profess in our community. One consequence of such a role would be that Australia would not seek to take sides in situations of tension or conflict, such as that currently raging in the Indo-China peninsula. Instead, Australia should commit itself seriously and consistently to the cause of peace and order, the resolution of conflict and the defence of human rights. It does not mean that in all circumstances we avoid the obligation to choose who is right and who is wrong when clearly there is an aggressor and another nation which is a victim, but more generally in relation to Indo-China the principle I am stating applies.

It is extraordinary that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) can describe himself as a small ‘1’ Liberal, yet make an important speech here reviewing major trouble spots in the world, and especially those in our region, but never once mention the issues of civil liberties and human rights. These issues are important in our region. The fact has been stressed with considerable force by Amnesty International in its most recent report. Several members of this regional community have been roundly castigated by Amnesty for their disregard of human rightsIndonesia and the Philippines are among thembut, there has not been a single word of concern from the Foreign Affairs Minister.

I now move on to deal with Indo-China. The Government has postured and blustered over recent events in Indo-China because it has no effective role to play. The Government has painted itself into a corner by its anti-Soviet and antiVietnam attitudes on the one hand and its excessive pro-China position on the other. There is no point in trying to allocate blame in a situation like this. Fault lies on both sides and the real need today is the cessation of fighting and the removal of a more general threat to the peace and stability of the region and, indeed, the world.

The Australian Labor Party condemns the use of force. We commend the Soviet Union for its moderation in response to the Chinese actions, but it is to be regretted that the same moderating influence was not extended from Moscow in the case of Vietnam’s actions against Kampuchea. However, even more regrettable is Australia’s squandering of the opportunity to play a useful role in these events so close to our own shores. The fault for this situation lies directly with the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). His capricious, impulsive action in cutting off our limited aid program to Vietnam ended any hope of Australia being able to take an even-handed position in this conflict. That decision on aid not only has affected Australia’s capacity to influence the present situation but also has cast long-term shadows on the rationality and credibility of Australian behaviour in international affairs. The Foreign Minister and his Department opposed the decision- a fact that was noted by the Prime Minister only after the event. The Foreign Minister at the time was not paying one of his irregular visits to Australia.

The decision has been entirely unhelpful to any party in these events. In a real sense it was an abnegation of responsibility. Australia was one of the few countries of the region with normal relations with Vietnam. Given our involvement in the previous Indo-China war, that was an unusual and significant situation and one for which we should be thankful to the previous Labor Government. Yet Australia squandered that advantage at the whim of a Prime Minister who has shown throughout his political life that his understanding of international events is warped and shallow. Australian aid had no measurable effect on Vietnam’s military capacity. However, its withdrawal does weaken Australia’s political situation markedly. Our reliability, as perceived by friends and neighbours, will be some time in recovering.

For Australia, as for any country in the world, foreign policy must rest on an assessment of national interests. This clearly sounds like a truism, but the fact is that present Australian policy does not reflect real Australian interests. This Government’s perceptions, as reflected in its foreign policies, are narrow, myopic and excessively short term. It does not serve Australia’s interests to offer gratuitous insults to one of the world super-powers; neither does it help the other world super-power with which we claim a special relationship. In general terms, it is in Australia’s interests to support the world role of the United States. The Australian Government professes to accept that proposition but its actions actually undermine our ally. Recent Australian behaviour has been unhelpful to the United States in one of the most difficult and important negotiations in a generation- the negotiations for a second Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement, SALT II. As my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen), has pointed out, there can be no hope of an end to the arms race, no hope of arms control or of disarmament without SALT II. The Foreign Minister mentioned SALT II only incidentally, but said: . . . such agreements cannot rest on air. They cannot be divorced from the general strategic and political environment . . . They are a product of, not a substitute for, a basic minimum of trust.

Coming from the present Government, with its blind, negative anti-Moscow attitudes, that is a prize piece of double talk. ‘ This Government seems not to understand the basic concepts of balanced, even-handed foreign policy. Australian foreign policy under this Government is not balanced and it is not consistent. To take just one example, it was this Government that cut off aid and normal relations with Vietnam because of her actions in Kampuchea. Yet it was also this Government that accepted and endorsed an exactly parallel action by Indonesia in East Timor. Where does that sort of double standard leave Australian credibility with other countries such as, for example, Papua New Guinea which is perhaps as much affected by Australian policy as Australia is affected by American policy?

Let me remind the Foreign Minister what the President of the United States had to say only just over one month ago in his ‘State of the Union’ address to the Congress. He said:

The new foundation of international co-operation we seek excludes no nation. Co-operation with the Soviet Union serves the cause of peace, for in the nuclear age world peace must include peace betweeen the superpowers- and it must mean the control of nuclear arms.

President Carter went on to say that SALT II will not be based on sentiment, but on the self interest of the United States and the Soviet Union. He pointed out that SALT II will not rely on trust; it will be verifiable.

Just one week ago, President Carter had this to say: … a SALT Agreement is a fundamental element of strategic and political stability in a turbulent world . . .

The President went on to say:

The question is not whether SALT can be divorced from this context - the context, that is, of turbulence in so many parts of the world-

The question could not be so divorced.

He added:

Our relationship with the Soviet Union is a mixture of cooperation and competition, and as President of the United States, I have no more difficult task than to balance the two.

Further on he added:

This carefully negotiated and responsible arms control agreement will make the world safer and more secure. It is in our national interest to pursue it even as we continue competition with the Soviet Union elsewhere in the world.

That, Mr Deputy Speaker, is a realistic and objective view of the nation to which we look for leadership. It contrasts sharply with the lopsidedness that marks Australian policy. I repeat that it is unhelpful to our major ally to behave as this Government has behaved in recent times. Furthermore it is negative and ultimately selfdefeating to view the world- as this Government consistently does- as a series of threats and setbacks. I wonder whether the Foreign Minister would be prepared to spell out what he means when he says, with such menace, when speaking of events in Iran:

This region is vital to Western interests and it should be apparent that there are very distinct limits to what the West can tolerate in terms of external attempts to undermine its position.

The Labor Party, in office, was responsible for resuming normal relations with China. We hope that the relationship will grow and prosper. Similarly, we welcome the resumption of relations between China and the United States- and we hope they too, will grow and prosper. But we recognise that China has her own reasons for not wanting to see SALT II come into existence. She has her own reasons for trying to marshal powerful forces against the Soviet Union. Frankly, it would suit China to see the United States with overwhelming weapons superiority over the Soviet Union. Yet, in fact, the United States is prepared in SALT II to accept numerical equality of nuclear weapons with the Soviet Union.

In the confident exercise of power, the American Administration is strikingly different from the Government of Australia. Iran and SALT have recently crystallised a good deal of opposed thought on foreign policy in the United States. There has been a tendency among conservatives, the so-called hawks, to bemoan the supremacy of what they sometimes call the ‘so what?’ school of thought on foreign policy. Arthur Schlesinger, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, challenged them the other day in the columns of the Wall Street Journal. He said their condemnation of the ‘so what?’ school must imply the existence of an alternative policy, which, he suggested, could be called the ‘we won’t stand for it’ school. When dealing with the ‘we won’t stand for it’ approach to Iran, Mr Schlesinger said . . .

All we needed after Vietnam to persuade the world or our weakness and incompetence was to have got heavily involved once more on the losing side in a third world civil war.

I commend that observation to the Foreign Minister and those who share his ‘we won’t stand for it’ view of some recent events. Incidentally on the mention of the Third World, may I make special note of this Government’s extraordinary hypocrisy on the subject. It is absolute effrontery for the Foreign Minister today to chide those who apparently criticise the Government’s concentration on relations with, and developments in, the Third World. It was this Government, and especially this Prime Minister, who railed incessantly between 1972 and 1975 at what they described as pointless development of Third World relations. Let it be clear that the critics of the Government’s Third World emphasis today are overwhelmingly within its own ranks.

The Foreign Minister has chosen to ignore many issues of considerable moment. One of them is his own inability or failure to exercise the essential co-ordinating role in external relations. It was the Prime Minister who was responsible for destroying an effective Australian relationship with Vietnam. Of all people, it was the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) who wreaked such havoc in our relations with the entire group of nations in the Association of South East Asian Nations. The Transport Minister’s churlish and heavy-handed approach to the negotiation of air fares agreements has done incalculable damage to one of the most important of our regional relationships. The full extent of its repercussions is yet to be determined. I am astonished that the Foreign Minister could ignore Japan. Of all our friends and neighbours, few are subject to more pressure in the changing pattern of relationships and conflict.

Finally, mention must be made of development aid- a subject ignored by the Foreign Minister except for mention in passing of the decision to terminate aid to Vietnam. In my view, the volume of development aid which a country like Australia is prepared to commit in support of its policies is a better yardstick than any amount of ministerial rhetoric. This Government today has made much of its commitment to the Third World. The facts, however, speak for themselves. At the end of the Labor Government’s period of office, official aid represented 0.6 per cent of gross domestic product. After two years of the Fraser Government- that is, by the end of 1977- that figure had fallen to 0.45 per cent and was still falling. That is a measure of the Fraser Government’s credibility in foreign policy. There are many others. Unfortunately for this nation, they glare at any objective observer from practically every statement and decision. Today’s statement from the Foreign Minister is another graphic illustration of the damage this Government is doing Australia by its internal divisions, its distorted view of the world and its divisive leadership.


-One would have expected that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) would have presented at least some element of a constructive policy which the Opposition might have or might not have in matters of foreign policy. However, having heard both speeches, one is perhaps gratified that the Opposition does not have such a policy. If it were based on the philosophy which has been produced here today, a philosophy that looked back and reached back into the days of the Vietnam war and so on- of course, they, in their inimitable manner, implied that the United States of America has some sinister and some materialistic objective in its involvement- then I would say that in the interests of solidarity with the United States of America it is a very good thing that the Opposition has not a constructive foreign policy.

The Leader of the Opposition referred to the attitude of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) towards foreign affairs, the Third World and so, as warped and shallow. Quite to the contrary. About three years ago, one will remember, the Prime Minister when attending the conference of Commonwealth state leaders in Britain gave a loud and clear message, and that was that Australia in future would have a very realistic approach to the Third World, would have a genuine respect for its aspirations and would make every endeavour to assist it. That was done for a very good reason. Regrettably, over the years and particularly during the non-policy period of the Whitlam Government, our status in the Third World and everywhere else- in particular China- was lowered. Possibly it created diplomatic relations of a kind with Mainland China. But I think it is fairly obvious that the acceleration of the attitude towards Australia and the United States of America over the last few months has indicated that the present regime in China would have infinitely more confidence and infinitely more trust in a future allied to our philosophy and politics than that of members of the Opposition.

Getting back to the matter of the Third World, may I say it was quite obvious that when the Prime Minister made his forthright and courageous statement in Britain he did want to get his message across; that was Australia would involve itself in the hopes and aspirations of the Third World. If we are to adhere to our philosophy, we must realise that we cannot say that the Third World is synonomous with some sort of left wing communist aspiration. There is a very great segment of the Third World which would have no part in atheistic communism.

Over the last couple of months I have had the opportunity to discuss matters which affect our future and which affect general global strategy in relation to our foreign affairs. I only wish I had the time to impart the tremendous amount of information that was given to me. I hope that the Minister for Administrative Services (Mr McLeay), at the table, will pass on to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) my very sincere thanks in relation to the briefing which I received. I would like to make one or two points in relation to our domestic arrangements. I think there has to be a compromise in just how far we can go when we cut down on expenditure in relation to departmental operations of Foreign Affairs in various countries. One of the things that I observed in Europe was that our senior representatives are not permitted the use of an official car. Just imagine someone representing Australia at an important function- I am not talking about a social engagement but perhaps a conference- having to step out on the footpath to hail a taxi. That is an example of penny pinching at its worst. I think that such matters should be looked at.

The Islamic revival has been discussed to quite some extent already by honourable members on the Government side of the House. The Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labor Party seem to be far more concerned with going back over history. They have suggested that even China is now attacking Labor’s golden idol, Vietnam. The forecasts that were made in relation to the occupation of the whole of the peninsula by the Vietnamese forces seem to be coming true. I remember how the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) stood up time and again and absolutely ridiculed the domino theory, but after he had been to the area he was not quite so firm in his attitude. My goodness, if the invasion of Kampuchea is not a further extension of this theory, what is? The state of affairs in that area is disconcerting, to say the least. It is volatile to a point where it should worry everyone who is involved. Returning to the matter of an Islamic revival, I do not suppose it would come as any great shock to anyone who has any knowledge at all of the intensity of the Islamic faith if it were to emerge and become far more conspicuous now than it has been in the past.

It is pretty obvious to anyone who is closely watching events in those parts of the world that a pattern is now beginning to emerge, showing that events are running according to a plan. If anyone were to suggest that the Soviet Union is not involved in any way in this matter and is just an innocent bystander wanting to assist wherever possible, he would be very naive indeed. The Islamic revolution- if we might refer to the events in Iran in that manner- has occurred. Immediately the regime has come into existence it has been threatened by those who see an opportunity to take over on behalf of the communist countries. It was interesting to note two events that occurred only the day before yesterday. One was a demonstration by not less than 100,000 left wingers against Ayatollah Khomeini. Events move rather quickly. In addition there has been a demonstration in Lebanon. I do not know whether this was shown on television here, but I saw it on television in Singapore. Crowds of people marched through the streets screaming out in a great display of Islamic faith and solidarity. So we see this great wave moving through those areas. It must at least cause very great concern. It is not so much a revival- this intense Islamic faith has always been there- as the use of the faith to ferment a revolution which could well spread right through to our own shores. We should remember that the Islamic faith extends to our borders.

Turning away altogether from the question of uranium and the question of Vietnam, I refer to a matter of concern which is very evident at the moment. I was in Singapore for four or five days. Every news session stressed how our new air fares policy is affecting our relationship with member countries of the Association of South

East Asian Nations. I was away when most of this policy changing took place and I do not want to try to make great statements without knowing the full facts but I would like to say that it would be sad indeed if the ASEAN members were to carry out what they are at the moment contemplating, that is- let us be quite frank about itapplying sanctions against Australia in relation to this matter. Surely there must be some compromise. Surely there must be some adjustment, if not of the fares then of the travelling arrangements, which will overcome what the ASEAN nations at least consider to be a quite serious matter. Most honourable members in this chamber know of the many thousands of Australians who visit Singapore. Such sanctions would cause extreme worry.

I shall dwell for a moment on the matter of our proposed or possible commitment to Namibia. It is not a matter of whether we choose to send people to Namibia; it is not a matter of choice at all. Australia happens to be one of the countries that has been proposed to make a contribution to that peacekeeping force. I very much doubt that we could go along and say to the people involved: ‘We are not interested; we do not propose to go along with the rest of the countries. We are fairly isolated from this sort of occurrence. However, should we strike an emergency we will expect you people in the United States and elsewhere to come to our assistance.’ This attitude is just not on. Let us be perfectly frank about this situation. The Government has little choice other than to provide at least an element in this peacekeeping force, should it eventuate. Whether it will eventuate is still a little uncertain. I take this opportunity to refer to the splendid contribution that is being made by a handful of Australians in the Middle East. We have 45 people there. I think the least number in any other element of the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Middle East at the moment is somewhere around the 350 mark. The 45 Australians there are doing a splendid job. They are providing helicopter patrols daily out across the Sinai desert, along the Israeli border and right through that area to observe just what is happening and whether things are going as they should. I had the opportunity to go out on one of the sorties. It is wonderful to be able to observe that the most important contribution being made in the whole of that peacekeeping operation is being made by the Australians.

I have noticed in recent times that when other great conflicts have occurred, or there are elements which, regrettably could develop into a serious conflict, we have been inclined to overlook the possibilities of what could occur in Papua New Guinea. Things seem to have settled down in the trouble spots in that country, but I think we should remember that the foreign policy element in New Guinea is very much dependent on its trade security- which, after all, is a pretty questionable situation- and is dependent almost entirely on one great industry. There is always the possibility that someone will take advantage of a sudden deterioration in New Guinea’s trade capacity and that we could find a rather serious situation developing there. The scene generally is not terribly encouraging.

I think anyone who has listened to this debate must come to the conclusion that the Foreign Minister had a tremendously difficult task in presenting a statement to this House and to the nation today on two questions that are complex. If one were to read the statements made by the foreign ministers of other great nations one would realise that there has been an obvious attempt in each case to try to appreciate a situation which involves the possibility of an unthinkable conflict, that is, the possibility of the Soviet Union and China coming into conflict. The Australian Foreign Minister has made this statement at a time when continuous attempts are being made by the United States to achieve a genuine detente with the Soviet Union. It is interesting to note the reaction of people in high places. I had the privilege- and I will be reporting on this aspect in due time to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence- of conferring with people in the Pentagon over a period of five days. The Americans were terribly generous about the way in which they were prepared to impart their knowledge. I am not suggesting for one moment that they gave me classified information, but the general impression there is that America is getting nearer to a genuine understanding- and this is being achieved in a remarkable way- with the Soviet Union at the same time as this very wonderful association is being built up with communist China.

I think it is a great tribute to the Foreign Minister that he was able to fit into that pattern and to present this statement today. The Labor Party has reacted to that statement in a most ungenerous manner and with a non-co-operative attitude, at a time when we should be closing ranks because of the critical times that could be approaching. I think that anyone who is at the least fair-minded would regard the Minister’s statement as being quite superb.


-I do not very often come into debates on foreign affairs even though I have been a member of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence for about five or six years. I suppose that to some extent I am more conscious of the importance of foreign affairs as I came to this country from Europe when much of Europe was under a number of dictatorships including the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. I am sorry to have to say that I find the statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) rather shallow. As somebody said before, superficially he is very deep, or profound, but deep down he is very superficial.

I wish to raise two basic points. Firstly, I am a pessimist about the long-term geo-political situation of Australia. I do not think that we will be allowed by the people of Asia to continue to enjoy a much higher standard of living than they do. This Government has no long-term policies at all. It is talking about calling together the United Nations Security Council, doing this and doing that, but these proposals do not represent long-term policies as far as Australia ‘s position in this region of the world is concerned. I offer no solution but I certainly would encourage a much greater sense of urgency on the part of the Australian Government. Unless the pressures in the so-called Third World change very dramatically I predict that many countries will start to concentrate on us when South Africa and Israel have been eliminated. We would all agree and argue that we are completely different from South Africa. We obviously are. We do not suppress the native population- our Aborigines. So too Israel is different. Yet the perception at the United Nations of Australia and those countries is very similar. I am sure that those honourable members who have moved in foreign affairs circles will be aware of the fact that the perception of this country by many other countries is one of Australia as a very rich country, but a very unco-operative country to their concerns. We are not prepared to take their people; we are not prepared to take many of their products. I am not arguing that we should take either their people or their products. All that I am saying is that in the long run these people will use such attitudes against us. The people in those countries who may not be able to handle the economic problems that exist in their countries will try to take those problems off the minds of their people by criticising us and reaching possibly some point of confrontation with us. I think the most important need in the foreign affairs policy of this country is to look at what is likely to be the position in 10 or 20 years time and to determine just how many friends we will have and how many people will be extremely critical of us to the extent of being hostile.

The second basic point I make is that to my mind all people prefer democratic forms of government. I completely dissociate myself from those who claim that the underdeveloped countries are happy under dictatorships. This is not true. They just have not been given the chance. When, very rarely, they are given a chance they opt for freedom. The most obvious example during the last few years has been the Republic of India. India very clearly indicated- and I think many people in this country were surprised at how clearly it indicated- that it would opt for a democracy when it was given a chance and that it was concerned not only with economic advantages. I suggest that the same would happen in the three countries in Indo-China, in China, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Taiwan, Eastern Europe, the Philippines and in many other countries of South America, Africa and the Middle East. Some of these countries describe themselves as left wing dictatorships and some of them as right wing dictatorships. Many of them claim not to be dictatorships, but there is no real difference between them. As far as I am concerned they are dictatorships. In many cases they are military dictatorships or bureaucracies. As people who have talked about the Soviet Union have said, we are dealing not with the dictatorship of the proletariat but with the dictatorship of the secretariat. There is a dictatorship in the Soviet Union and there is a dictatorship in many other countries. They work themselves up to some extent about ideology but there is no basic difference as far as their ruling circles are concerned. They are scared of their own people.

We must encourage democracy in all countries. I used to believe that wars were caused only by the failure of capitalism. This is obviously not true. It is quite obvious that there are now wars between countries which clearly claim to be socialist countries. I would not consider them to be socialist countries, but they are certainly not capitalist countries. Democracy by itself may not prevent war, but to put it at the most pessimistic level, it is much preferable to be defeated and taken over by a democracy than to be defeated and taken over by a dictatorship. Therefore, at the very least, I think it is in Australia’s immediate interest to support democracy and democracies wherever they exist. People talk about even-handedness. I do not claim to be even-handed. Wherever there is a dispute between democratic and undemocratic forces, I shall always support the former- the democratic forces. In some cases the difference may be only marginal such as in the disputes between the Soviet Union and China or between Chile and Argentina. But often it is a clear cut difference between the two countries. There is a clear-cut difference that one is obviously more democratic than the other.

Most of my remarks to this point have been fairly apolitical in the Australian sense of that word. But I do criticise this Government- the socalled Fraser Government- for its hypocrisy. It talks about supporting democracy. It talks about favouring democracy. I suggest that honourable members should refresh their memory by referring to a question I posed in the House of Representatives on 21 November 1978, part of it being reprinted on page 3088 of Hansard. I raised the point that the Soviet Union indicated to this country last year that it would invite a parliamentary delegation to visit that country only on the basis that no members of the Joint Foreign Affairs and Defence Sub-committee on Human Rights in the Soviet Union would be on that delegation. This Government to its eternal shame agreed to send to the Soviet Union a delegation on the basis that the Soviet Union had decided that certain persons in this Parliament were persona non grata. This was a terrible decision on the part of this Government.

I am not one of those people who say that aid should not be cancelled in the case of aggressive countries or countries behaving in an extremely anti-democratic manner. Decisions taken by the democratic countries to cancel foreign aid or not to send teams to the Olympic Games may well be correct. But they are worth while only if all the countries adhere to them. If they do not, the action is pointless. For example, there would be no point in Australia deciding to boycott the Olympic Games to be held in the Soviet Union. The Olympic Games would be held in the Soviet Union even if Australia decided not to participate. The Soviet Union would be able to say that a campaign was being conducted by countries opposed to the holding of the Games there. However, 95 per cent to 98 per cent of countries may participate in the Games. This would only be to the advantage of the Soviet Union.

I believe that it should be the aim of this Government to try to encourage other democratic countries to act together in concert if we decide, as I think we have all decided to a large extent, that we are not prepared to support military intervention to defend democracy. Certainly, the United States of America seems to have decided on that course. It was the only democratic country which had the power to do anything about the situation. How else can we deal with undemocratic countries which are agressive? How can we deal with Cuba when it is interfering in Africa and sending its mercenary forces into Africa? How can we deal with the rulers in Kampuchea when they are killing their own people? How can we deal with Vietnam when it invades Kampuchea and Laos and with a number of other countries which behave in that way? The only way in which the democratic countries, the so-called Western European countries, which have a fair amount of money and economic clout, can deal with these undemocratic countries is to use economic sanctions. They should be used against all the undemocratic countries, whether they be Rhodesia, South Africa, or the other countries I have mentioned.

I would like to make this point in relation to the conflict in South East Asia: It is utter hypocrisy for the Soviet Union to criticise China or the United States for interfering in other countries. The Soviet Union has occupied- in some cases continually- nearly all of Eastern Europe. In some cases- for example, the Baltic States- it has actually incorporated the countries into the Soviet Union. In other cases, Soviet troops occupy those countries. With its Cuban mercenaries fighting in much of Africa, the Soviet Union has a hide to talk about interference in other countries.

I recommend to honourable members an article written by Mr Kim Beazley, a former member of this House, which appeared in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. Time does not permit me to quote from it. As an intensely political person, I appeal to honourable members not to try to score superficial political points, but to try to devote some time to looking ahead about 10 to 20 years to decide whether they would be optimistic about Australia’s position at that time in a geographical sense. I am sure that many of the more rational honourable members will reach my rather pessimistic conclusions.

Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.

St George

-Throughout a great deal of the world today warfare is as much a part of life as bed and breakfast. The question is: When will Australia come under potential pressures in the future which might affect our national security? I ask that because the international situation has changed so dramatically and so quickly that, if Australians continue to be apathetic, unconcerned and unwilling to sacrifice, financially and otherwise, in order to have sound defence preparations, we will not be able to guarantee in the long term that this country will remain lucky. We will not be able to guarantee our future security. If we are not prepared to defend our country, eventually we may not have much left to defend.

Over the next 30 or so years, carrying us into the next century, the two arms of Australian policy must be based, firstly, on a justification of our right to exist as a rich nation, with vast resources, vast areas of land and a small population and, secondly, on strong capabilities to prevent any attempts at interference with our national sovereignty. It is estimated that if the world achieves zero population growth by the year 2000 there will nonetheless be 15 billion people by the year 2050. At present the underdeveloped countries have nearly three to one predominance in population over developed countries. It is estimated on present trends that by the year 2000, which is only a little over 20 years away, the world’s population will be 6,500 million and the question of population as against resources will loom very large indeed.

Even within societies such as ours, it might well be suggested that pressures will be developing for us to show to the world that we are a just and proper community, that we have shared our resources, that we are a tolerant democracy, that we are a multiracial society and that we have been part of the world community and to demonstrate to the world at large that Australia is entitled to maintain its privileged position. Certainly, there will be pressures from outside Australia. Other groups, other nations, will want to be sure that Australia has justified its privileged position, otherwise the sharing of certain resources, including our land space, might be considered something that will have to come about by more than persuasion.

The statement made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) on behalf of the Government is an extremely valuable statement. It sets out Australia’s real concerns about what has been occurring recently, particularly in IndoChina and Iran. It sets out the actions that the Government has taken and expressed the hope that reason and sanity will prevail. However, there are grounds to suppose that reason and sanity will not prevail. There are many irrational reasons for so many of the events that have occurred throughout the world in recent times. Primarily, the world is locked in two main power struggles and numerous smaller struggles beneath them. We are locked in the struggle of Soviet expansionism and the retention of the American capitalist or free enterprise system. Within that we have an intense competition between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and China, each with a paranoid fear of the other, each believing that the other is bent on world domination and each determined to take steps to prevent the other from achieving the aims that are ascribed to it.

As far as what is happening in Indo-China is concerned, it is my view that our role is one of urging caution and restraint, as the Minister has pointed out. But we should make sure that there are no illusions; that we do not attempt to be unrealistic about the situation. Above all, we might have to be prepared for the day when, if the worst comes to the worst, if one or other of those powers dominates the region around us, there may well be very serious instability. There are two main things which I believe should be said about the present situation. There was no justification whatsoever for the Russian client state, Vietnam, invading Kampuchea, even though the regime in Kampuchea was one of the most horrific that the world has seen. Therefore, we do not condone that invasion.

Nor, I believe, can we condone the Chinese invasion of Vietnam. That action has been taken in an extraordinarily risky set of circumstances. So far the Soviets have not reacted. Presumably one of the reasons is that no direct request for assistance has come from Vietnam. One would imagine that if a direct request were made and the Soviet Union attacked China in any force, the Chinese would neutralise their southern flank with a much, much heavier blow being directed at Vietnam than at present. I suppose that it is not in Vietnam’s interest to call in aid from the Soviet Union at this time. But these situations can get out of hand and can escalate. Anything could happen unless all parties withdraw their troops, unless there is a ceasefire as soon as possible, unless the Vietnamese withdraw from Kampuchea and the Chinese withdraw from Vietnam.

In the world scene, it is perfectly clear that the Soviet Union is seeking to obtain strategic dominance throughout the world. Maybe it fears the Americans so much that it believes that it must do this. Maybe it fears the Chinese so much that it believes that it must do this. There is no doubt that the most dangerous global period will be in about 1985. In 1985 the Soviet Union will have a strategic superiority over the United States of America that will be very, very pronounced. It will not be until about 1990 that the new systems which the Americans are developing will be available, such as the Trident submarines and the MX missile system.

By 1985 it is expected that most, if not all, American nuclear weapons will have been withdrawn from Korea and mainland Asia. Therefore, at about that time there will be a predominance by the Soviet Union, which has shown itself willing to use client states to the utmost to achieve its strategic aims. One of those strategic aims is the encirclement and containment of China. That aim has been announced by the Soviet Union. It is prepared to use Vietnamese troops. It may even be prepared to use Cuban troops, if one can put any credence in the words of the Cuban Government, which is prepared to volunteer to assist in Vietnam. Therefore, over the next few years this country faces the prospect of serious instability in its region.

I put to the House that this Government must be prepared to take important and expensive steps now to ensure that, if necessary, this country is able to play its part in any possible unforeseen regional military requirement within the next few years. If we are unable to play our part the rest of the world is entitled to ask why we should receive any assistance. Simple potentialities that could arise are threats to our offshore fields, such as those on the North West Shelf; the blockade of our shipping lines to Japan or China which would throw the Australian economy into serious disarray; and other regional instabilities that could arise at any time. Therefore, if we do not revamp our defence forces we are going to be in serious difficulties if a lead time threat of any significance arises.

I have said previously that this country must be prepared to spend a minimum of 3.5 per cent of the gross domestic product on defence. That was the amount promised by the Labor Party in its election promise before the 1972 election, presumably on advice that it received before that election. It said: ‘We will spend not less than 3.5 per cent of the gross domestic product. ‘ That is written in the policy announced before that election. The Liberal Party through Dr Forbes, the former defence spokesman, announced that to meet our obligations we would have to spend about 3.3 per cent at least. There was hardly any difference although there was a little different emphasis of a minor nature; and presumably that amount was announced on the basis of advice.

The present Government came into office in 1975 having stated that it would not necessarily allot a specific percentage per year because it might not be appropriate each year. What has happened is that the inevitable pressures and the need to get the Australian economy sound have resulted in a deterioration of the situation. Fortunately the Government has announced in the past few days a significant increase and $ 14,000m will be spent over the next five years. But quite simply that is not enough and it will probably not restore the level of commitment in the White Paper. So it is necessary that we spend more, and at another time I will outline the ways and means by which I believe the money might be obtained and the ways and means by which short lead time equipment items could be purchased quickly and moneys could be reserved for expenditure on long lead time equipment items within the broad framework of a 10-year program.

Having said that, I wish to return to the Minister’s statement. It is very significant that when I asked the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) earlier tonight to affirm that he believes that Vietnam should withdraw from Kampuchea, he refused to do so. He wished to pass on. He would not give that undertaking. It is quite clear from what the Opposition has said in this House that it takes a very strong pro-Soviet line in relation to what has occurred in South East Asia and East Asia. The Minister’s statement, however, is clear. It calls for the removal of troops from Kampuchea and Vietnam and is a sensible and sound basis for Australia’s foreign policy.

I would like to turn briefly to Iran. I do not share the degree of deep disquiet that has been evidenced about the new Government. I do share, deep disquiet about the general situation in Iran, but I believe that the new Government received obviously very large popular support before and at the time of the overthrow of the Shah. The Minister pointed out that the Shah’s regime was repressive. I believe that our Government has made the right decision in wishing that there should be a development of good relationships with the new Government in Iran. It is a government that is fundamentally anticommunist. It is a religious government and it is anti-athiest. It is very much in Australia’s interest that this new Government should be able to govern. It should become stable and it should provide strategic assistance to the Western world against the communist world. It is absolutely important that support be given to it so that the communists, who are now trying their utmost to wipe out the present regime, should not be able to do so. The marxist guerrillas, who have been there for eight or nine years, are very active, and it is absolutely vital that the Soviet plot for taking over Iran to go along with its coup in Afghanistan should not be allowed to succeed. I suggest to the Australian Government that we offer as soon as possible to help in the two areas in which Iran needs assistance. The two areas are agriculture, where we should assist by sending technicians and advisers to assist the re-development of the country’s agriculture, and oil, where we should assist to get the country’s oil fields surveyed as to the possibility of getting them into operation again as soon as possible. If an offer of this nature were made by the Australian Government I think it would be a tangible contribution to the assistance of Iran’s problems.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Mr Barry Jones:

-The statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) is essentially superficial and he did not set the context in which the statement was made, that Australia is a democratic island in an authoritarian ocean and we are a wealthy enclave in an area which has had an extremely poor economic base but which is now rising rapidly. Superficial though the Minister’s statement is, there is little for the Opposition to sink its collective teeth into. This is because foreign policy has become virtually a bipartisan area in Australia during the past six years or so. It was not always so. We all remember the elections fought in 1955, 1958, 1961, 1963 and 1966 with heavy emphasis from the Liberal-Country Party coalition on the horrors of the downward thrust of communism, red arrows streaking down from Peking to Potts Point, from Shanghai to Sandringham and from Canton to Coolangatta, sometimes accompanied by a graphic showing pyramids of human heads. In those days the Menzies Government uttered the fearful cry ‘the Chinese are corning! ‘. But now the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch) rubs his hands with glee and- says, ‘the Chinese are coming, hurrah, hurrah’, and it is a completely different situation.

It was only in July 1971 when Sir William McMahon, expressed something like horror when Gough Whitlam announced that he was going to visit the People’s Republic of China. If I may, I would like to quote briefly what he said in 197 1, not by way of criticism of the right honourable gentleman, but to indicate changes in attitude over the last eight years. When Mr Whitlam went to China the then Prime Minister was reported in the Age on 1 3 July 1 97 1 as follows:

I doubt if I have ever read such a damaging and irresponsible series of declarations by any political leader in all my time in politics in Australia.

I feel it is time to expose the shams and the absurdities surrounding Mr Whitlam ‘s excursion into ‘instant coffee’ diplomacy.

The Whitlam policy would isolate Australia from its friends and allies not only in South East Asia and the Pacific, but in other parts of the Western world.

This policy must be disowned.

We must not become pawns of the giant communist power in our region.

Mr McMahon said the Labor mission to China had begun as an ingenuous exercise by the ALP to play party politics with wheat sales to China. He accused the then Leader of the Opposition of allowing himself to be used as a spokesman for North Vietnam and China at the Paris peace talks.

But I think there has been a revolutionary change in attitude since then. In 1971, when foreign policy was a matter of bitter domestic contention in Australia, the then Government had a world view which very largely reflected fear and ignorance of almost paranoid intensity within the Australian community. This was particularly illustrated by public attitudes to our mad involvement in Vietnam. I think perhaps the major achievement of the Whitlam Government in the period from 1972 to 1975 was the achievement of a political revolution in Australia’s foreign policy. For practical purposes we now have a bipartisan policy and I think we all agree with that. Australian foreign policy in the Menzies era was based on these premises:

  1. That Australia should pursue economic and social policies that were reflections of those of the United Kingdom and the United States, its great and powerful friends, and had no need to cultivate close relations with Asia. In his long term as Prime Minister from 1949 to 1966 Sir Robert Menzies made one brief official visit to Japan and, I think, visited no other Asian country.
  2. That the communist states of the world are essentially monolithic and that, for example, Yugoslavia, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Vietnam and China had identical aims and worked virtually under a unified command.
  3. Australia faced a likelihood of involvement in a World War III precipitated by the communist powers.
  4. The South East Asia Treaty Organisation would be an effective instrument for Australia.
  5. Chiang Kai-shek’s regime in Taiwan was to be recognised as the legitimate government of China.
  6. Ho Chi Minh was a mere agent of Peking or Moscow or both.
  7. The United States was to be supported in its refusal to recognise the People’s Republic of China or to admit it to the United Nations.
  8. Supporting and maintaining an anticommunist regime in South Vietnam would prove to be an effective means of containing China.
  9. Non-communist nationalist movements in Asia could be supported effectively by military and economic aid and by gestures of solidarity.

All these views, with the benefit of hindsight, now seem absurd, and yet they were sold to, and bought by, the Australian electors. Who would defend any of these propositions today? The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) might defend some of them but not all, I think. We were, of course, largely the victims of our own ignorance and our official channels of advice were simply unable, or unwilling, to grasp, for example, the fundamental significance of the polycentrism within the communist movement throughout the world and in particular did not understand the significance of the SinoSoviet split. The present Prime Minister, who in the 1960s was the rising hope of the stern unbending Santamarians over China, is now an advocate of closer relations with the People’s Republic of China and has applauded the Carter Administration’s recent recognition.

I was disappointed to find very little reference in the Minister’s statement to China. Reference was made to China in the context of the war in Vietnam but there was no reference to the enormous significance, both domestically and outside, of the political changes that have been going on in China. This is something about which this Parliament ought to have been better informed. I understand that Mr Deng Xiaoping, the Senior Vice-Premier, will be visiting New Guinea sometime in the course of 1979 but I have heard no indication that he will be coming to Australia.

Mr Young:

– He will not even meet them in Peking.

Mr Barry Jones:

-Well, after all, Mr Deng Xiaoping has visited all of the ASEAN powers in the last few months. I would like to know whether the Government has considered issuing an invitation. I think it is very important that he should be here and that he should understand something more of Australian society.

I think that we need to understand the Chinese fear at this stage. The Chinese position is similar in some ways perhaps to the state of mind that existed in the USSR at the beginning of the Cold War period. The feeling is that geographically and globally they are completely encircled. When the honourable member for Dawson (Mr Braithwaite) and I paid a state visit to China in July 1978, we were both struck- and this is a highly bipartisan comment- by the widespread fear, which was expressed everywhere we went, about the Soviet Union. That is not to say that that fear is justified objectively. But it is perceived to be the case. When we both visited the Peking Construction Tool Plant, I was amazed to be taken down to see underground shelters and to be told that throughout the Chinese People’s Republic every major building has its own air raid shelter. The air raid shelter that we saw was planned to hold 2,500 employees. It seemed to be an extraordinary misuse of labour, materials and energy when one thinks of the physical needs of the people. One realises how much in terms of labour, energy and building materials has been deployed to provide air raid shelters of this kind which have been built in the universal belief that there will be a World War III and on the rather odd concept that the USSR would lack such restraint that it would initiate a war between major powers while at the same time exercising restraint in the weapons it used. That is, the Chinese thought that the USSR would not make a pre-emptive strike using atomic weapons.

I pointed out that the underground shelter appeared to be utterly inappropriate for atomic attack. When we asked them where they would get their water supply from, they said: ‘Oh, we have enough water to stay down here for months; we draw the water from wells. ‘ When I asked: ‘Yes, but what if there is an atomic attack?’, they answered: ‘Oh, we can survive that by staying down here- we have food enough to last for months.’ I queried: ‘Yes, but what about water?’. They said: ‘Well, what is wrong with it?’ I asked: ‘What about radioactivity?’ The interpreter explained about radioactive significance and Mr Tien Chung-chen, the officer in charge of this underground shelter, sat back for a minute and then said: ‘That is all right; we have pills for that. We put pills in the water and that looks after the radioactivity.’ That seemed to me to be an alarmingly naive view about what would happen in atomic war. In China at the moment there is enormous fear of the Soviet Union. That fear is exacerbated by the presence of Russian vessels at the Cam Ranh Bay base and in the South China Sea.

Accusations were made by the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil)- and we would have taken them more seriously perhaps if they had been uttered by someone else- to the effect that the Opposition was taking a pro-Soviet position. That is an absurdity. The Labor Party is very anxious to take a completely even-handed position. There is no question from our point of view that China must get out of Vietnam and that Vietnam must get out of Kampuchea. The problem, though, that has not yet been facedand perhaps we have not faced it fully ourselves- is the question of what is going to fill the vacuum in Kampuchea if the Vietnamese forces pull out. It is difficult to believe that it would be possible to resuscitate the Pol Pot regime but there is undoubtedly a vacuum there that would be filled by someone. I suspect that, even if the Vietnamese did withdraw, it might not be very long before they were back in again.

There were some extraordinary omissions, I thought, in the paper presented by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. There is not one word on the Vietnamese refugee question. There is a throwaway line that used the word ‘refugee’ once in the context of Vietnam. But there is no examination of the significance of the Vietnamese refugee question to Australia. That is one of the issues which whilst it may not be dividing this Parliament, is certainly dividing the people of Australia out in the electorate. I think that the Government has lacked responsibility in not addressing itself in this speech to the question of the Vietnamese refugee problem and what it proposed to do about it both in the long term and in the short term. That is one area in which Australia could take an important role.

There is no reference in the Foreign Minister’s speech to the China-Japan Treaty. The implications of the China- Japan Treaty are profound for us. Will it, for example, mean increased opportunities for Australia to trade with the most populous trade combination in the world covering about 1,100 million people or will it simply mean a threat to Australia’s trading position whereby in the long term China sells raw materials to Japan instead of us and imports higher technology in return? This is a vitally important question. The Government has had months and months to think about the implications for Australia in trading matters and we should have had some reference to it in the Minister’s statement. But we have not had a single word.

We have had no reference to the IndonesianTimor situation. There are many people in this Parliament, some of them on the other side of the House, who are deeply concerned by the attitude of the Government towards the situation in East

Timor and who deplore the actions taken by the Indonesian Government. But we hear nothing of this matter. Not a word appears in this statement from the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the subject. It is true that the Minister had dealt with some issues. But he has dealt with them superficially. We have had not a word about the economic significance of economic development in South East Asia, largely through investment by multinationals and the implications that this has for the future of Australia’s manufacturing industry. It is true that, in a situation like this, there are optimistic and pessimistic points of view to be put. But this Government puts no point of view at all; and that is exactly the sort of material that ought to have been in a statement put out by the Minister.

It is extraordinary, of course, that in China, we have had a strong move from ideology towards pragmatism, and that, in Iran we have had a great move from pragmatism back to ideology. I do not share the enthusiasm of the honourable member for St George for the government of the Ayatollah Khomeini. It may be that its social views coincide with his own. I doubt that many Australians would share such a view. It is important for us to think of Iran in its own terms, in its own context and in its own place in the Middle East and not simply think of Iran as a source of potential raw material for us at cheap prices.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jarman)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Sir William McMahon:

– I am glad that my friend the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) has given me an opportunity to present some facts relating to the recognition of the Peoples Republic of China which probably are not known to the House. During the time I was Prime Minister nobody in the Opposition really knew a great deal about foreign affairs. Even the then Leader of the Opposition, who hoped to be a great statesman, had no experience whatsoever overseas- that is, before he became Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Australia. I can say to the honourable member that at the time I was Foreign Minister we drafted a number of the documents as a basis on which thinking could proceed, firstly as to the special question of whether there could be the requisite majority and, secondly, to ensure that a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council was voted to the People’s Republic of China while sustaining the position of Taiwan in the General Assembly. We believed that we could have done better than was done by the Canadian Government. I tell the honourable member this because I know that it would be of interest to him particularly and to the House.

Negotiations were commenced by us, but Chou En lai was a pretty wily man. He had some idea that we, the then Liberal Government, would not be returned to government in 1972. So first we started to get messages through Colombo which in fact said: Are you prepared to capitulate about Taiwan? They are not quite the words that were used, but that was the substance of them.

Mr Bryant:

– Why didn’t you go to see him, like everybody else did?

Sir William McMahon:

– This is tremendously important. If you are not . interested, please go outside. You are reading a book anyhow. Then we had to send cables through Rangoon. Mr Alan Renouf had a special meeting with a member of the central committee who was ranked third in the political committee. He was given regal treatment at the beginning of the meeting in the Chinese Embassy, but was shown politely out the back door when we had nothing additional to offer. Then we were told through messages through Bucharest to our ambassador, Mr Fernandez, that Peking would like negotiations, but through a member of the foreign office, not a member of the central committee. We did try! In addition I had an opportunity to make contact through two young Australians who tried to help through their constant contacts in Canton, but it came to nothing. I offered to send the then Foreign Minister, Nigel Bowen, and the then Minister for the Army, Mr Peacock, to Peking but they would take Mr Peacock only if he went on a joy ride with his wife and as a private citizen. I was told by the legal authorities that that could not be permitted. In any event those are some facts I have not made known before and I hope they are interesting to those who are really concerned with the facts and about what happened at that time.

The next point I want to make relates to refugees. I was sorry to hear the honourable member for Lalor speak about refugees. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) did not raise the matter because this statement is not associated with that problem; it is associated with the problem of peace in our time. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden), making this time a read speech, said that the Minister had not said a single word about human rights. He could not have understood the speech of the

Foreign Minister. The very basis of that statement is that we want peace in the interests of humanity. We want every country to have the opportunity for freedom and for their people to have the opportunity for freedom and the good life. This is a battle for humanity, not power.

Mr Innes:

– Like you did in Vietnam.

Sir William McMahon:

– You would not want freedom for anyone. You want power for your own trade union and yourself. You would not know, my son.

Mr Innes:

– Like you treated the people in Vietnam? What are you talking about, peace in Vietnam?

Sir William McMahon:

-It is rather difficult to speak over his shouting, but I will. I make this comment. I well remember 1965. We decided to take part in the Vietnam conflict. At that time the Labor Party was totally in accord with Liberal policy. But because of a fight between Mr Calwell and Mr Whitlam they mucked up the whole show and from then on it became a problem of getting out. At first Labor realised that the domino theory was real and probable. Here and now we are learning in Laos and Kampuchea that the domino theory is not only a theory but a reality. Now the Labor Party comes here and takes a different attitude. Are they not frightened that if another domino falls- that is Kampuchea- that Thailand, Burma and Singapore will be threatened? Nobody knows that better than the member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations. Today- and I think that this is tremendously important- President Carter is warning about participation in Iran. He is warning about obstruction to the decision to complete the SALT II negotiations. But on or about 17 Februaryagain I think that this is tremendously important- he made the statement that America’s commitment to Thailand’s security under the Manila pact was assured. The basis of the Manila pact was signed in 1954 and ratified in 1955. The original South East Asia Treaty Organisation members were Thailand, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the United States et cetera. Those people who were members at the time and those people who were interested in foreign affairs would know that that commitment was subject to the constitutional processes of the government involved. Who wanted to destroy SEATO? Who destroyed and positively came out against ANZUS? It was the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam. Who destroyed SEATO? So far as Australia was concerned it was the Labor Party. Members of the Labor Party show themselves as hypocrites when they say something different today. We are concerned about peace in our time.

I now want to refer to what I believe is of critical importance at the moment, leaving out Iran and the problems of Egypt and Israel. It is the fact that the Vietnamese invaded Kampuchea. I have been interested in this area for a long time. As Minister for the Navy and Minister for Air I came through Hanoi and Haiphong and stayed with General Salon in Hanoi when the Vietnamese were trying to save their troops in Dien Bien Phu. I went there as Foreign Minister on several occasions. I have been to China on two occasions in the last four years and I have been to the Soviet Union as well.

What conclusions can one reach about these countries? In many ways they are not quite as civilised as we are. I am expressing myself in very kind language. Each one dislikes his next door neighbour. The Chinese are fearful of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union detests the Chinese. The Soviets think that the Chinese are funny little yellow people crawling about like mice. When you go to Vietnam you see a tremendous difference in physique and outlook between the North and South Vietnamese. The Cambodians detest the Vietnamese. As to Cambodia, Australia took the dominant influence when, with the great nations involved, we drew up plans to attempt to ensure peace in Cambodia and to give the people the support they needed to remain independent. I have to admit that the prospect of getting these countries to agree to negotiate to ensure peace and independence in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos is remote. The prospect of successful negotiation between China and the Soviet is not good.

I do not believe for one moment that it is practicable for a small country like ours to be playing any sort of decisive role, but I agree with China which stated publicly today that it believes that the time has come for negotiations. It would like Vietnam to gather around the conference table. I do not think that this is good enough. It must be under the jurisdiction of the United Nations. The United States, the Soviet Union and certainly Vietnam and Cambodia should be present as should some of the other great countries of the world. It is not good enough to have the super powers alone. We must have Japan, a great power, and we must have other major nations such as West Germany, France and Britain. Surely it is not outside the capability of mankind or the great countries of the world to be able, under the auspices of the United Nations, to call a cease fire and, once that occurs, to consult, conciliate and achieve a reconciliation. We will all be losers if this does not happen. In the case of Vietnam I have in mind that the boundaries in the parrot’s beak may have to be eased a little. The Cambodians cannot be allowed to be at such close quarters that modern bombers could destroy Saigon in a matter of moments.

What attitudes should be taken by the great countries, particularly Australia? I believe that we have adopted the totally correct policy. It is one of justice and fairness. Above all, we are trying to have peace in our time, to permit the smaller, undeveloped countries of the world- the Third World- to be able to participate in growing prosperity and to permit their people to live better lives. What do we want? We want Vietnam to be contained within its own borders with possibly some border corrections between China and Vietnam. We want Kampuchea to be free, not under something like the Pol Pot Government, not under the insurgents that are in control now, but under a man like Prince Sihanouk who would be capable of pulling the nation together and giving it the opportunity of freedom and enjoyment of life.

The Soviet Union is the only country in the world that can endanger world peace and the only country that has both the will and the ability to create a world diversion and involve the rest of the world in possible nuclear assault of one kind or another. I do not think that will happen as I know the facts at the moment. I remember my last visit to the Soviet Union when all the Russians talked about was war. This has to be kept in mind. The Russians have never moved unless they knew that the pickings were easy. They moved in Angola and Afghanistan and made an attempt in Portugal. But what did they do in Cuba when John Kennedy stood up to them? They got out. All through history the Soviets have acted this way.

There are other matters of great concern at the moment. Just as the United States of America and the rest of the world want the SALT II negotiations to be completed soon I have no doubt that so too does the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union knows that it could not do more than possibly take out Singkiang Province and destroy the oil reserves and oil operations in Taching. This is all the Russians would do and then they would want to get out. The misery that they would create would be of no real benefit to them. If one goes to the Soviet Union and talks to the people- they cannot talk very much to you- one finds that the people in Leningrad and Moscow are people of energy, physical strength, and effervescence. One wonders how long they will put up with the type of government and constitution they have to live with. There will be another Leningrad in time. The people might not have a Lenin as a leader but they will be so fed up with total surveillance and control that their own people will cause the trouble. Of course the Soviet Union cannot go on permanently appropriating so much of its real wealth not to the purposes of humanity and its consumers throughout the whole of the Union, but in order to sustain the greatest army, navy and air force of all time. How well trained those forces are I do not know.

The American Under Secretary of State, Mr Richard Holbrook, said that he was confident that there would be no military action by Moscow. I could not be confident but many of the great world leaders such as the Chancellor of West Germany and others, have expressed their belief that the Soviet Union will act with restraint. I can but pray that it does so act. As I have said, it is the only government that has both the will and the ability to cause a world conflagration. Russia would not want this because it would come out of the operation very badly. We do not want it because we believe in humanity and we want the ideals of humanity to be sustained on this occasion.


-We have just heard a speech which explains the difficulties that now exist in most of Asia. One of the unfortunate problems which confront not only Australia but also the Western world is that we have a long history of knowing how to solve other people’s problems without ever taking the trouble to find out what those problems are in the first place. The right honourable member for Lowe (Sir William McMahon) has just spoken about the domino theory, the problems experienced by his own Government in obtaining access to China and about a whole range of what could be taken to be only slights against what is seen as the Western position. Unfortunately, the treatment which has been given by most of the major Western powers to Asia, Africa, South America and latterly the peoples of the Pacific has been similar. It has been the adoption of the stance that whatever their culture, history or religion and irrespective of whether they are better or worse than ours, we the Western people know better and therefore demand the divine right to impose our will upon them.

It is a little expansive to use the words ‘IndoChina’. It is not one ethnic region, not one nation; it is a diverse society with a number of cultural and ethnic backgrounds and a long history of disputes. Certainly, there is no significant history of the norms of Western society for the acceptance of them. Any Westernisation in the countries in the area has been imposed for various reasons- usually, the expansion of imperialistic power or religious influence. It has been imposed purely for Western aims with no consideration whatsoever to the traditions or the will of the people concerned.

If honourable members read the speech of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) and listen to the speeches being made in this Parliament tonight, they will see that there is no change in that attitude at all. The right honourable member for Lowe talked about the domino theory. Other members have spoken about what is going to happen in Indo-China and why the situation has occurred. We have heard a few speeches about the South East Asia Treaty Organisation alliance. When I was elected to this Parliament SEATO was a very major area of debate.

I would have thought that had SEATO been cancelled on 13 August 1967, the night I came into the Parliament, the world most likely would have collapsed. The truth is that it was more a psychological prop than anything real. In fact, three of the major powers had long since ceased to be active members or even to attend ministerial council meetings of that organisation. For selfish domestic political reasons SEATO was being promulgated by Australian politicians as the be all and save all of all of Australia’s foreign policy. It enabled successive Australian Prime Ministers and successive Australian Foreign Ministers to avoid the responsibilities to examine properly and to search out what was in Australia’s best interests.

The problems which now exist in the IndoChina area are very substantially problems of Western creation, of incompetence in foreign policy, of insensitivity by those charged with the responsibility of carrying out that foreign policy and of downright treachery on the part of a significant proportion of those who were involved in the Pacific war which ended in 1945. The Vietnamese fought on the same side as the allies and General MacArthur once indicated that they tied up a large number of Japanese divisions during the war. But what did we do? Upon the surrender of Japan in South Vietnam we handed back the administration of Vietnam to the French. The French had collaborated with the Japanese and the Germans, and had released the Japanese armed forces from the prison camps in order that they could assist the French to re-establish colonial rule over those people who had fought on our side during that war. That is the sort of reward we gave people who supported us in the

Second World War. If we now find that those people do not welcome us with open arms we ought to look inwardly and not outwardly for the reason.

Almost every significant crisis in the world today can be traced back to the political incompetence of Western nations this century. They shared up the Middle East among the kings and forgot the people. It worked for 25 years but now there are problems throughout the area. We still have people in this Parliament talking about what they would do and why the people who have been treated with utter contempt and whose traditions have been thrown out the window should accept the suzerainty of the Western powers over their way of life. I invite honourable members to look at the world and say where among the areas that I have named significant Western influences have not moved in to change the traditional cultures, to impose unwanted leaders on nations and to impose on nations standards which are unacceptable in cultural, religious and historic terms.

The first country I wish to mention is Iran where there has been a return to a traditional form of rule. Hopefully, the civil war or uprising in Iran will settle down and the country will return to what it sees- that is the important thing- as the role that it should play in the world. We should not, as we did a couple of weeks ago, label the forces seeking to overthrow the Shah as necessarily being pro-anyone. It may be that conservative, shortsighted elements in our community look on anyone who does not profess blindly, without thought or consideration for their own dignity, to be pro-Western, proAmerican or pro-something else, as someone to be viewed with suspicion. However, there just might be in the world people who would like to live their own lives and make their own decisions in their own best interests. That is something which we are much too selfish to accept.

Iran, Lebanon, Cyprus, Kampuchea, China, Vietnam, Yemen, the Philippines, Irelandwhich is somewhat westernised- Uganda, Indonesian New Guinea, Israel, the Arab countries, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Namibia are a few of the places where there is actual armed conflict at the moment, or where the situation is very close to it. Those countries represent nearly half of the world. Almost every one of those conflicts has arisen out of colonial empires which sought to change the people, their standards, their way of life and their ethnic and cultural backgrounds, to something that they were not, and to impose servility upon them and deny them their culture and dignity. So we do not have a very good record. What happened during the 1960s in the electorate as well as in this Parliament reflects how short term political advantage can be turned into a monster. What member of this Parliament, even with the benefit of hindsight, could seriously allege that these are arrows, coming down from China, pointed at the major cities of Australia? Yet that was what the 1966 election campaign was fought on. I still have the pamphlets if honourable members want to see them. I was a candidate at that election, one of the people who had to try to explain that the Chinese not only were not coming to Australia but also were militarily incapable of doing so. That was a minor technical detail known fully to the government of the day but the true position was deliberately falsified to the public of Australia and the world at large.

I believe that the Iranian problem will now be played down by the Government which, a few weeks ago, was posing it as a major international threat. The affairs in Indo-China are far more serious and the consequences could be very significant. The situation there has very much to do with the competition for influence in international politics. I have read the statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It says that no one can use the unsatisfactory nature or the inhumanity of the Pol Pot Government as an excuse for not supporting the withdrawal of the Vietnamese. I believe that no nation has the right to militarily impose on another nation its will or the type of government that it wishes. I certainly have no wish to see the restoration of the regime which was in Kampuchea but I am extremely concerned that there appears to be no means available either to the West or to the countries of the region by which that particular dilemma can be resolved. There is not to be a United Nations force there and there will not be some form of influence brought to bear on the countries of the region because the militarily significant countries of the region are Vietnam and China.

The Russians may be able to exercise some external influence and the Americans also may be able to exercise some influence. I say ‘may’ because America’s influence in that area must have been very significantly downgraded by its failure to meet the obligations it entered into at the time of the peace negotiations when substantial aid was offered to North Vietnam but repudiated by the present American administration. America’s foreign policy is its responsibility but, in doing that, America has significantly reduced any influence it can expect to have in that area. Unfortunately, this has tended to remove from the Vietnamese regime any chance it had of independence from one of the major communist powers. Vietnam has to go somewhere for assistance. It was economically devastated by 30 years of war fought on its soil, firstly against the French whose rule was reimposed upon it. Despite the fact that France and Vietnam were allies, the French fought for or collaborated with the Japanese. China is the alternative for the Vietnamese. The present situation is dangerous for the rest of the world for the very significant reason that China’s position of influence in the world is at stake and it is extremely doubtful whether it can be more successful in the area than were the Americans or the French before them. The Vietnamese are in a very strong position unless an all-out invasion takes place, and I doubt whether that is likely.

The statement made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs is superficial and does not deal with the problems. It certainly does not acknowledge that we, as a nation and as a people, have yet to admit that many of the problems in IndoChina and Asia are the result of lack of understanding, refusal to understand and attempts to impose our culture and our will on people who are entitled to their own culture and their own will.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


-The first thing that is obvious in this foreign affairs debate is that the Opposition is as bereft of a foreign policy as it is bereft of a policy in any other area. We have had today from a. number of speakers on the other side an apology for a foreign policy- we have heard nothing. We have been treated to an historical analysis of the situation in South East Asia. We have heard of the wrongs of Australia’s commitment in Vietnam. We have seen a party digging deep into the past and not prepared to look into the future.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) earlier today interpreted the current state of affairs in South East Asia as being no threat to Australia at the present time. It was a description of the past with nothing of the future. It was negligent of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on behalf of the Opposition as a whole. It seems clear to me that the Opposition is not prepared unequivocally and openly to call for the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Kampuchea. It seems to me that the power of the proMoscow left wing in the unions of Australia to dictate communist policy to the parliamentary wing of the trade union movement, the Australian Labor Party, has been seen on the floor of this Parliament today.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) in an excellent outline of the current global political situation has outlined the change in the strategic balance in the world and the conflicts in the world. He referred to the conflicts in the Middle East, the conflict in west Asia, the problems in the Horn of Africa, the problems in Iran, the problems in Namibia and the problems in Zimbabwe. The Australian-American alliance is as important to Australia as it has ever been.’ I think we need to look closely at the AustralianAmerican relationship. We enjoy excellent relations with the President of the United States, with the Executive branch of the American Government, the departments of its Cabinet and its Cabinet Ministers. The Minister for Foreign Affairs is well respected personally by the United States Secretary of State, Mr Vance. But there is another branch of government in the United States which is equally important, namely, the Congress and the Capitol. It is my belief that very few members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives have a real interest in Australia or any real concern for our needs and for our problems in the future. I say this having recently visited the Congress, having been received on the floor of the United States Senate with the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), who is in the House tonight, and having spoken to many senators and congressmen. Late last year I discussed the question of Australia and Asia with them and I could not interest American congressmen, or Americans in general, in Asia. It is only since the recognition of Peking by President Carter that the new United States strategy towards Asia has unfolded. It is little wonder that the American Congress passed legislation such as the counter cyclical beef legislation which is against the interests of Australia and, in particular, Australian beef producers. In fact, Australia has very poor relations with the United States Congress. The American politicians really only reflect the attitudes of the American community. Americans as a whole, as a nation, have lost interest in Australia. That is not an unnatural situation. During the Second World War in the Pacific Ocean area Australia had good relations with the United States and in fact had great obligations. General MacArthur was here and many thousands of Americans fought in the Pacific zone, visited, Australia and had great affection for us. That generation of people is getting older and forgetting us. Another generation of people who do not know us have grown up. Those in some quarters of the United States who were associated with the conflict in Vietnam want it to be forgotten. I think we have been forgotten along with the American commitment in Vietnam.

I urge all Australians, and in particular I urge members of this House and senators, to travel to Washington and to meet American congressmen and senators. I urge them to put the Australian point of view because an enormous amount of lobbying needs to be done. It is my hope that Ambassador Young will visit Australia soon. He is the American Ambassador to the United Nations. I would welcome him because he is close to the American Administration. The more people who are close to the American Administration come to this country and understand us the better.

I have talked about our relationship with America. I think that at this time we in Australia have never been more alone in the world. Because we read in newspapers of what is happening in other parts of the world, we must not fool ourselves by believing that the world is reading about us. It is not. We have never been more alone in the world and we must not fool ourselves about our position in the world. The ANZUS treaty is vital to Australia and it has to be worked upon. The United States has really rediscovered Asia with the rapprochement with Peking. That normalisation was inevitable following the Shanghai communique when President Nixon visited China. Today recognition of Peking is . seen alongside negotiations of the United States .and the Soviet Union on the strategic arms limitations talks, the Camp David negotiations which have just resumed in regard to the Middle East, the situation in Indo-China and the African position. The world situation is as worrying and unstable as it was in 1939. The United States-Peking recognition, this new United States-Sino link, is in its own way one counter to the strategic balance which has moved in favour of the Soviet Union. It is interesting that China has put its money where its mouth is. It is the first nation to tackle the Cubans of the Orient, the Vietnamese. It has in fact done deeds which are at least equal to some of its words. For this it deserves some admiration.

I turn to the situation in the Indian Ocean which has not been given a lot of attention today. Most of the worrying events in the world are in fact taking place somewhere on the rim of that ocean. The situation in Iran is at the top belly of that Ocean. The Middle East oil supplies have to go through the Indian. Ocean to Australia and Japan. The Hormuz Straits between Oman and

Iran are vital for the supply of oil to the world. We must therefore worry not only about the instability in Iran but also about some of the moves of a pro-Soviet nature that have taken place in Oman to unsettle the Government of that country.

As I have said we have never been more alone. We have to look at our place in the world. We are a trading nation. Our trade with Japan is vital to us. We have looked forward and do look forward to the industrial expansion which will take place in mainland China. It will mean an expansion of our trade in Asia. China may well become as important to us as a trading nation as is Japan. This means that the Japanese and Chinese interests are very similar. They will in fact be trading nations.

We know how important our wheat sales to Peking are. Perhaps our sales of iron ore and coal will become at least as important to China as they are to Japan. Therefore, the sea lanes will be important. I hope that the strategic assessment being carried out by the Government at present will lead to a commitment by the Government to establish forces in a proper form that would increase our self-reliance and our ability to protect our sea lanes because the sea lanes are the lifeblood of Australia. Whilst on the one hand it is very comforting to have that ocean around us, we cannot pretend that it will always be impenetrable by an enemy. We must stand up for ourselves and it is only by increasing expenditure on defence that we will earn the respect of our allies and of any potential enemies.

I mentioned the Indian Ocean and the events on the rim thereof. There are two significant international events taking place concerning the future of the level of forces in the Indian Ocean. I think the Australian public should well understand these events. The first is the discussions on the stabilisation of forces in the Indian Ocean that were taking place between the United States and the Soviet Union. These talks were reasonably well progressed when, I think, the United States withdrew from them- although that was not publicly announced- after the Soviets, in a provocative fashion, changed their bases from Somalia to Ethopia. So talks, although currently stalled, are being held between the Soviet Union and the United States on the stabilisation of naval forces in the Indian Ocean. I was interested the other day to note that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) called for these talks to resume. I hope that Australia’s legitimate interests- I believe they are legitimate- under the ANZUS Treaty to carry on exercises in the Indian Ocean are not affected. Surely the United States in recommencing any negotiations would have to take into account the changed position in Iran and the need to back up any statements that President Carter has made in defending American interests in the world. Similarly, notice has to be taken of any Soviet buildup that may occur as a result of the situation in Indo-China.

The final point to which I shall refer this evening is the vital question of Australia’s energy supplies, namely, the need for oil. As we know, 65 per cent to 70 per cent of our oil comes from Australian sources, the main one of which is Bass Strait. I will refer quickly to the report on the Middle East tabled by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, and published in 1977. From page 321 onwards, it refers to the serious outlook for Australia’s oil sufficiency. I hope that the Government is considering this report. It states:

Australia’s oil supply situation over the . . . longer term is serious. Middle East countries supply most of Australia’s requirements for heavier crudes but imports of lighter oils from OPEC sources are also likely to grow rapidly over the next decade.

The report mentions other reasons for concern of which we need to take note. It refers to the need to import large amounts of lubricating oils and bitumen. There is an important statement in that report which reads:

There are no mandatory stock holdings of petroleum products which has been left as an internal matter for the oil industry.

I hope that this situation will change and that we will build up mandatory stock holdings of petroleum products to protect the Australian national interest. We have seen what has happened in New Zealand today with rationing. We are in a much better position than New Zealand but we must not be complacent. We must protect and look after our own interests. I call for close examination of the position.


Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– I should have thought that, in view of its history in this field, the Government would have been more concerned about and more reticent than it has been in bringing up issues of foreign policy. I say this because its memory must be very short if it forgets some of the issues of the past. An honourable member on the Opposition side mentioned a while ago how the 1966 election campaign was fought with pamphlets showing arrows coming down from the Red Chinese, as it was put.

Mr Shipton:

– You are in the past again.


– It is in the past. That was the attitude. That has been the attitude until very recently. That was a campaign fought by members of this present Government. I had to withstand such a campaign myself in 1963. The fact is that when the former Labor Prime Minister, Mr Gough Whitlam, as Opposition Leader went to China to lay the foundations for the diplomatic recognition of China when Labor assumed office, he was called the friend of communists, et cetera by those in the Government ranks today.

Mr Baillieu:

– Who said that?


– Honourable members opposite did.

Mr Baillieu:

– When Mr Whitlam went to China in 1972.

Mr Baillieu:

– Produce the evidence.


– There is plenty of it in Hansard. Added to that are the attitudes and policies of the present Government when it was in government prior to 1972 in respect of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam, an involvement which did great damage to Australia and its reputation in the Third World countries and right throughout Asia.

Mr Neil:

– ‘Rubbish’, says the honourable member for St George. We would expect such a comment from a warmonger of his kind. The fact is that this is history. That is why I say that I should have thought that the Government would have been more reticent in its attitudes in bringing forward some of the viewpoints which it expressed today.

However, that is not the matter with which I wish to deal now. I can say that I agree particularly with that part of the address given this afternoon by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) when he stated that the position in the world today is very serious indeed. The situation is the most serious that the world has faced in the Middle East, in Asia and elsewhere for a long while. I agree with him. It is therefore rather difficult to understand why the Government is still delaying the re-equipment of our forces- the new fighter replacements and so on. When one considers the attitude expressed by the Minister today, it is very difficult to understand why there is still further delay after delay after delay. As was mentioned previously, the facts are that the Labor Government introduced nearly all of these policies concerning defence. The main action of this Government has been steadily to put back the acquisition of replacements time after time.

Let us have a look at the position particularly so far as Indo-China is concerned. Let us face it. There is, of course, the Sino-Soviet dispute. There has been a steady deterioration in relationships between Vietnam and China. This deterioration started with the death of Ho Chi Minh. In the middle of last year there was the expulsion of about 150,000 ethnic Chinese from Vietnam. Last November there was the treaty of friendship and co-operation between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Vietnam, which of course has certain military commitments within it. China, the middle kingdom, which has always been deeply concerned on the question of encirclement saw that as a direct threat- as a direct encirclement by the USSR to the north, the west and the south. Finally there was the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea. Nobody, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) said this afternoon, could possibly support the Pol Pot regime which probably would be one of the harshest regimes in the history of the world. There is no doubt that in time there will have to be an endeavour to find some way of overcoming the existing situation. Accordingly, it is understandable in the light of all those happenings that China eventually felt it was being encircled. Undoubtedly it was for that reason that it then took what can only be called an extraordinary risk in invading Vietnam.

I want to make it clear that we of the Opposition believe there must be a withdrawal of Vietnamese forces from Kampuchea. Equally we believe there must be a withdrawal of Chinese forces from Vietnam. Ultimately this is the only proposal which can guarantee peace or which can give some opportunity for the world to enjoy peace. I believe that it will be very difficult to get the withdrawals. There is a very difficult period ahead for the world because of the tensions on the China-Soviet border. I think it is very important that the United Nations should be involved. I understand that the Secretary-General of the United Nations has offered his personal intervention to try to bring about some formula to restore peace in the region. We should also be very thankful at this point in time for the restraint displayed by the USSR because when China invaded Vietnam everyone was concerned that there could be immediate intervention by the Soviet Union. However, that intervention has not occurred and it is to be hoped that the USSR will continue to exercise that very good restraint that it has exercised to date.

In looking at this subject one has to go back a little into history and, as was mentioned by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes), remind honourable members that in the peace negotiations President Nixon offered Vietnam $6,000m in aid. Finally that offer was repudiated by President Ford. Had that offer been continued and had the United States injected massive aid into Vietnam there would no doubt be in Asia another Yugoslavia. That is to say, there would be a non-aligned communist country- a country not aligned with the Soviet Union or with China. Accordingly, it would have been, very much a force for stability throughout this region. That great opportunity was lost. It was lost by the US because of its refusal to inject massive aid to assist Vietnam. This Government has cut off aid to Vietnam which means that it now has no influence whatsoever in Vietnam in being able to negotiate, which also is a tragedy in itself. The countries which really are giving aid on a large scale apart from the USSR- I think they include Norway, Denmark and Sweden- are more deeply concerned with the Middle East situation than they are with the situation in Asia. They are the countries which could probably influence Vietnam more than any other country.

I come back to the point that I mentioned earlier. I think that this conflict is a tragedy. I want to make it clear that the Labor Party was the party, when it was in government and in opposition in this country, which furthered the relationships with China that finally led to the diplomatic recognition of that country. It was the Labor Party which opposed the war in Vietnam during the term of the previous Liberal-Country Party Government. It is the Labor Party which today understands the concerns of China on the question of encirclement and asks that there be a withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Kampuchea. I believe that eventually in Kampuchea there must be a national front type of organisation- an organisation, a government or a regime not imposed on Kampuchea from outside the country. As I said, there should be a withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Kampuchea and at the same time a withdrawal of Chinese troops from Vietnam.

I make one other point. I believe that this Government has to have a look at its policies as far as the member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations are concerned. I believe that ASEAN countries are working very hard to find an answer to the present problems facing Asia so far as the Vietnamese-Chinese conflict is concerned. But the cheap air fare policy announced by the Minister for Transport (Mr

Nixon) has inflamed the viewpoints of all of the ASEAN countries because the policy has introduced a means of bypassing these countries. Accordingly, there are strong reactions against Australia now. I ask honourable members to recall that when Labor went out of office Australia’s relations with the whole of the Third World countries, including the ASEAN countries, had never been better. Today they have probably never been worse. If one adds to that the relationships of this Government with the ASEAN countries on the question of trade and the refusal to meet legitimate demands in order to bring about a greater freedom of trade between ASEAN countries and Australia one can see that it is well and truly time that this Government reassessed its policies as far as the ASEAN countries are concerned. Otherwise a serious deterioration in our relationships with them must occur in future.


-We heard today from the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) a concise, factual and sober speech with a chilling message on the rapidly deteriorating international situation. I think there has been far too much political point scoring today. This is far too serious a situation for political point scoring. I will try to deal in facts, not rhetoric.

The statement delivered by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the events of the last weeks and months emphasise one immensely important fact: It is impossible to forecast events on the international scene with any accuracy. We have always been wrong when we have tried to forecast events and to act on these forecasts. In 1972, for instance, we were told there would be no threat to Australia for 15 years. Now, within a few weeks or months, Australia and the world are facing the most dangerous situation since 1945. There is a danger of war. I do not want to sound like a warmonger, but I have seen too much of war to want another one. I would do anything I could to stop it. But it would only need Soviet action against China, followed perhaps by action taken against the Soviets by the United States of America, for a very difficult world situation to develop. It would be very unlikely that Australia could avoid involvement.

What can we do? Australia’s influence, of course, is limited. Diplomatic initiatives, undertaken in a very far-sighted way, have been going on over the last few weeks. We were among the first countries to predict the Chinese invasion of Vietnam. We can take economic action which is open to us. But the final action of any foreign affairs policy is military action. The Minister for

Foreign Affairs made this comment in the second paragraph of his speech today:

So long as the world is organised in a system of sovereign states, power will continue to be the main arbiter in international affairs.

The seventeenth century philosopher Thomas Hobbes said that covenants without swords are but words; our swords are blunt and we need to sharpen them. In 1976 a White Paper on defence was delivered. It was a sensible, forward looking document which embodied a five-year rolling program. Unfortunately we did not stick to it. We were short sighted. In 1978 we cut the defence budget and we destroyed much of the value of that White Paper. That is most regrettable when we look at the situation today. The Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) fought very hard to retain his defence program, but he lost out to other priorities. I would like to give very briefly a percentage comparison of total Commonwealth budget outlays over the last few years. For instance, in the 1968-69 Budget the health appropriation consumed 6 per cent of Budget expenditure. This year it is 10.7 per cent. In 1968-69, the social security appropriation was 17 per cent of the Budget. In the last Budget it rose to 27.8 per cent. The education appropriation rose from 2.9 per cent to 8.7 per cent. But the defence vote has fallen progressively every year from 16.6 per cent to 8.7 per cent. We have been lulled into a false sense of security. We decided that these social projects, important as they are, had a greater priority than the security of the nation. But what is the good of magnificent hospitals, schools, universities and welfare programs if we are at war and have nothing with which to fight that war? That possibility is with us today.

In the 1978 Budget the defence vote was cut leading to the delay of some long term purchases. We could not cut purchases which were already on the order books. So it was possible only to cut the current program. Therefore, the cuts fell on training, maintenance of equipment and the nuts and bolts of a well prepared defence force. Fortunately, in the last few days there have been announcements that some of the defence expenditure will be restored. The equipment levels are to be restored. But this does not make up for the cuts in the current accounts, the cuts in training and the every day work of the Services. It is estimated that $30m to $50m will be needed immediately to restore training standards and allow the Services to reach a reasonable level of operational readiness. That money must be made available today, whatever the cost and sacrifice, if we are to have some sort of preparedness. Our national priorities must be reassessed. The first plank of the platform of the two parties which form the Government is the security of the nation. That security has been neglected. The Government has been receiving advice. Either it has been bad advice or it has not been listened to; perhaps it is a little of each.

The end product of a foreign affairs policy is a defence force of the appropriate size, shape and strength. Research has shown that in the past conflicts have begun, on average, within 10 months from the first indication that there was a threat. A 50 per cent probability of conflict exists within four months of the first indication of a threat. Yet Australia is in a quite unprepared position. With that in mind, let us look very briefly at the Services. The Navy is perhaps the best prepared of the Services, in peace time, to fight a war. Its ships are manned, its equipment is on board, the supplies are there. The Navy needs more ships. A decision was taken recently by the Government to put one of the Daring class destroyers into mothballs because there are not enough trained men to man it. That is ridiculous in the present situation. The manpower and the money must be found for that ship. It is an awful waste to have a relatively modern ship put into mothballs when it is badly needed. The Government needs to make decisions on naval air power, whether the aircraft carrier Melbourne is to be replaced. If it is to be replaced, what will it be replaced with? That is a question for the experts. I have my own ideas, but I do not want to pre-empt their decisions. I was interested to read of a naval symposium held in Canberra recently at which this problem was discussed. It was suggested quite seriously by one speaker that we could have an aircraft carrier or a naval air strike force of some sort if we could reduce the Regular Army by 7,000 men. That is quite absurd and I am sure that it will not be done.

I turn now to deal with the Royal Australian Air Force. The Fill aircraft are our first line of defence. They are ready with well trained personnel and equipped to go. A decision is needed on the tactical fighter force. Delays are very costly. I was told recently that we could have built the equivalent of 20 hospitals for the cost of the delay in making such a decision. One very serious problem of the Air Force is the shortage of air crews. There is only one operational air crew for each operational aircraft. That is ridiculous. It is not enough. We need to have aircraft which can fly around the clock. We need more air crews urgently.

The Army perhaps has the worst problem. It has been worst hit by expenditure cuts. It is easy to cut down the size of the Army. To expand the Army from its present base to a reasonable force would take three to five years. We do not have that time span available to us. Therefore, we must increase the present base. The defence experts predicted in the White Paper that we needed a regular Army of 34,000 men. That would provide a balanced force for expansion. At present the Army has 3 1,600 men because the decision not to increase Army personnel was one of the economies which the Government made. There are no plans to increase the manpower strength of the Army at the moment. The Government must make those plans immediately. Manpower is extremely expensive. In the 1950s the Government spent about 30 per cent of the Army budget on manpower. Now it is spending nearly 60 per cent. Even with an Army of 34,000 men if it is to be expanded quickly, Australia needs a strong active reserve force. This is a matter very close to my heart, as I am still on the active list of the Reserve, as is the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil). I do not think the honourable member sitting opposite is still a member of the Reserve but we will call him back if necessary. The Reserve must be restored to an effective force. It must be reactivated. The Government and this Parliament must give a lead. Money must be found. It is not a great deal of money. The Reserve is not very expensive to run. But when the cuts came, the training and the activities of the Reserve were cut. The training is pretty dull. It is not good enough. The men do not have the equipment. They do not have enough instructors. They do not have enough money to undertake interesting training.

If we are to have a volunteer Reserve, we must attract volunteers and keep them. We are attracting volunteers at present but we are not keeping them because we are not doing our job as a nation for them. These young men are keen to learn. They are keen to help to defend Australia. But they get bored stiff because we are not doing enough for them. I hope that every honourable member will go out to his electorate and encourage the reserves, speak of the facts which I have outlined and encourage the Government to give a lead. I have spoken of the threat of war. Many other honourable members have spoken of that too. At the moment we have no mobilisation plans in Australia. The famous war book is 20 years out of date. Perhaps as a priority project we should do something about that.

I would like to talk very briefly about the defence organsiation. The re-organisation of the Department of Defence was undertaken some years ago. Five departments were made into one. Instead of having five Ministers- a Minister for Defence, a Minister for the Army, a Minister for the Navy, a Minister for Air and a Minister for Supply- we now have one Minister for Defence with an assistant Minister. We have a centralised, civilian controlled department. I believe that it is most unsatisfactory. It is organised for peace, not war. It is no good having a defence department organised for peace when we could be getting closer to war.

I call for a complete reassessment of the organisation of the higher defence machinery. I believe that it must be looked at very carefully. I believe that the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) has a quite impossible task to fulfil. He cannot possibly carry out all the duties which are required of him by a vast and very complicated machine. If we are to get things going again and to put the defence forces into a reasonably operational shape we will need to look very closely at where we are going and how we are going to do it. That needs to be done urgently. It needs to be done this year. It needs to be done within a few months.

It is no good saying that we have to wait a little bit longer and give the present organisation a bit more of a chance to see what it can achieve. It is not producing results. There are far too many committees. There is a dead hand of civilian control. I am a firm believer in civilian control of the Services, but not control by public servants. The civilian control of the Services should come from the Minister and from this Parliament. That has been the traditional method of control ever since Cromwell. We have changed the scene and, because we have changed it so drastically, the civilian elements of the Department of Defence have an over-riding control of the uniformed elements. The committee system means that the uniformed elements do not get a fair go when discussions on important matters are held. I call for a reorganisation as soon as possible.

The situation is serious. In the past few days we have talked about many issues in this Parliament. Most of them have been completely unimportant matters of detail when one considers the international scene, at what could happen and at what is happening in South East Asia, in China and Vietnam. Three weeks ago I was in China. I saw some of the mobilisation of the forces which are now fighting in Vietnam. We have the problem in Iran and the immense problems associated with energy in the rest of the world.

These problems cannot help but affect us. I call on every member of this Parliament to give a lead in trying to alert the Australian people to the very serious situation which we now face. If we believe that our first duty as a government is to attend to the security of the nation, we should do something about the present situation. We should do something practical and we should do it quickly. We should reassess our priorities to see from where we can get the money required. We need to provide the money very quickly indeed. We should determine where we can cut expenditure to provide more money for the defence forces. The need for us to do that is very serious today. I hope that all members of Parliament, on both sides of this House, will adopt a bipartisan approach for the security and defence of Australia.


-The Chinese invasion of Vietnam is now in its second tragic week. The signs are that a protracted war could escalate to immense international proportions. This House, and through it the Australian people, have inadequately and belatedly been informed by the Government of developments in this war. This House is still being subjected to empty rhetoric on this issue. This Government has no foreign policy of integrity. It has no foreign policy of substance. This House is being asked to condone this Government’s endorsement of the United States of America foreign policy on the Indo-China region. This was the policy that caused the beginning of the present problem. It is a policy designed to serve the interests of the big private corporations in the region. It is a policy that historically has shown contempt for the people of China, contempt for the people of Vietnam, contempt for the people of Kampuchea and the people of Laos. It is now a hypocritical foreign policy. As the United States attempts to woo the present Chinese leadership for big markets for the big corporations, it is a most audacious act on the part of the United States to send its ambassador to China at a critical time when the Chinese have invaded the people in Vietnam.

This issue is now being used by this Government in the House in an attempt to justify increased military hardware purchases. This hypocritical Government is cynically using this dangerous issue for corporate advantage with the rhetoric of peace and the machinery of war. This Government should admit that it was wrong to intervene with the United States in a war in Vietnam during the 1960s. It was wrong to oppose the independence of Vietnam then and it was wrong to withdraw the reconstruction aid that was being provided to Vietnam, even though that aid was a miserable pittance compared with what it should have been. It was wrong to try to isolate the Vietnamese people in the present struggle. It is wrong to support a new collusion between the United States of America and the Government of China in an attempt to muzzle an independent Vietnam. It is wrong to spend more money on the machinery of war if peace and security in the region is what we seek to achieve.

Last week, five days after the Chinese invasion of Vietnam, at a time of a serious threat of a global nuclear war, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made a superficial statement on general instability in the region. It was an empty statement. It failed to show an understanding of the nature of the conflict. It failed to show concern for the people in the region. Today, 10 days after the Chinese invasion of Vietnam, when the possibility of international escalation of the war is heightening, the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) has made another empty statement. His statement lacks substance. Nowhere has it detailed the nature and scale of the current conflicts. Nowhere has it identified the implications of these conflicts. Nowhere has it shown concern for the people of the region.

Instead it reveals a primary concern for the resources of the region. Instead it suggests a mischievous interpretation of the conflicts, an interpretation that ignores history, an interpretation that denies the struggle of the Vietnamese and Kampuchean people to maintain independence, an interpretation that excuses the America atrocities and consequent responsibilities in the region, an interpretation that alleges the innocence of the United States and the innocence of Australia, an interpretation that reduces the conflict to a rivalry between the communists super powers. Let us remember who invaded Vietnam with bombs, guns and troops in the 1960s and let us remember the legacy that the American invaders left there. Let us remember the 30 years during which the Vietnamese have fought off foreign invaders, whether French, Japanese, American or Australian. Let us remember that the Chinese people fought in a similar struggle to seek their independence. So did the Kampuchean people and so did the people of Laos.

If the Minister for Foreign Affairs now says that he understands the conflict in terms of Vietnam and Kampuchea acting as clients of other nations, he has not understood what that 30 years of war for Vietnamese independence was all about. That is the enormously sad truth about the statement the Minister made today. He alleges that no one else contributed to the problems but the warring states themselves. He claims wrongly that no one sought to isolate Vietnam or to make it difficult for her to enter fully into the life of the region. I ask the House and the Minister the following questions: Why did the United States refuse to make reparation for the devastation it created? Why did the United States refuse reconstruction aid? Why did the United States oppose Vietnam’s entry to the United Nations? Why did the United States oppose Vietnam’s access to the reconstruction loans of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund? Why did the United States refuse to allow American companies to trade with Vietnam after the end of hostilities? Why was it that Vietnam received only a minute amount of aid from the Western nations? The only real aid came from Sweden. Other aid of a lesser extent came from Japan and France. Why did Australia withdraw the pittance of aid it had made available at this time of the critical struggle by the Vietnamese people for independence? I might say that that aid was made available first by a Labor government and only continued by the present Government.

We have to keep in mind that this aid was given after a struggle of 30 years of war and that even after the peace of 1975 the Vietnamese people had two bad seasons when the crops failed due to drought conditions. Then, in 1978, they had in nine provinces the worst flooding that country had had for many decades. Why did Australia work with the United States to force Vietnam into COMECON-the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance- and into a close dependence on the Soviet Union against Vietnam’s wishes against its independence and against its integration into the region?

In May 1977, Pham Van Dong went through Europe in search of aid and, with the exception of France, all the nations refused to give aid until such time as there was a normalisation of relationships with the United States. In April 1977, Hanoi made it clear that it wanted Western capital and technology to assist in the massive reconstruction task. In its search, Vietnam was struggling to avoid being locked into economic dependence on the Soviet Union. Vietnam was attempting to free itself from the powerless, triangular balancing between China and the Soviet Union. How can the Minister for Foreign Affairs say in this House that the countries in the region were ‘positive and forthcoming in their dealings with Vietnam’? The countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations gave no aid. Along with the Prime Minister of Australia and the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar), they attacked the Vietnamese Government for what they called ‘profiteering’ from refugees. Those crude outbursts showed that the Prime Minister and the Minister did not understand the internal pressures on Vietnam in the process of reconstruction, reunification and reconciliation of that country.

In the north, the problems were different. There were external provocations by the Chinese to exploit the internal difficulties and to encourage the ethnic Chinese to leave. There were rumourmongers. There was the psychology of fear, which infiltrators had spread among the Hua people, that there would be an invasion of Vietnam by China and that if the Hua people remained in Vietnam they would be treated as traitors. At that time 160,000 Hua people, who are Vietnamese people of Chinese descent, migrated north to China. Those people were the key people in the key jobs in the north and that was the basis of the disruption of the economy of the north. Those refugee movements imposed strains on the northern borders, aggravated by further internal divisions among the mountain people.

It is necessary to understand the history of the struggle between Vietnam and Kampuchea. During the war, the peoples of the two countries fought alongside one another. After the war in 1975 struggles broke out along the Kampuchean and Thai borders. Negotiations proceeded between the Vietnamese and Kampuchean people. The periods of hostility on the Vietnamese and Kampuchean borders parallel the rise and fall of Pol Pot in Kampuchea and Deng Xiaoping in China. I was told during my visit to Vietnam in July 1978 that the Chinese were encouraging a heightening of the conflict with Vietnam. At that time I had strong reservations about that view. In fact in my own mind I rejected it. Today I am more receptive to that argument.

Of course, that is not to condone Vietnam’s way of responding to its difficulties with the Kampucheans. It is not to excuse any Vietnamese incursions into Kampuchean territory or any continued presence of Vietnamese troops in Kampuchea. The Vietnamese should get out of Kampuchea and the Chinese should get out of Vietnam. The people of Kampuchea and the people of Vietnam should be able to make their decisions themselves without external pressures. But it is of no use to confuse Vietnamese involvement in Kampuchea with the Chinese involvement in Vietnam. They are events of a different order with very different international implications.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs has sadistically boasted that he predicted the present conflict. But why did Australia not even try to overcome the Vietnamese border problems at that time? Australia had diplomats in Hanoi. Those Australian representatives had seen what was happening, particularly on the border with Kampuchea. They had visited Kampuchean refugee camps and spoken with those refugees. I know this because I have discussed the matter with the Ambassador and other representatives in Vietnam. They knew the problems. They had seen the refugee movements. They saw the tensions increase. They were aware of the border conflicts. They had heard the charges. They should have foreseen these present problems. They knew how hard the Vietnamese were working for a true independence. The Australian Government was informed of what was occurring at that time but no action was then taken by this Government. The Minister’s speech shows no understanding of the complex problems which were occurring at that time in Vietnam, in Kampuchea and in the region generally.

At that time when the seeds of the present war were being sown the Australian Government did nothing. Yet now, when it is too late, it condemns what has been occurring. The Minister for Foreign Affairs almost excuses the Chinese invasion of Vietnam as part of its containment strategy against the Soviet Union. He also dismisses the incursion by Vietnam into Kampuchea as the act of a client of the Soviet Union against Kampuchea as a client of China. This is a simplistic, dangerous and false interpretation. It leads to a position where Australia can now justify its withdrawal of aid from Vietnam because it is defined as a Soviet puppet. It can forget Kampuchea because it is, or rather was, a puppet of China. If honourable members want to argue about that, I might say that some people can argue that Australia is a puppet of the United States. At least the Vietnamese do not make Cam Ranh Bay available to the Soviet Union. We make our soil available to the United States for foreign military bases. The implications of that decision are to isolate totally the people of Vietnam and, therefore, condemn them to the fate of super power rivalry.

Australia’s responsible role in the region at this time would be to support the independence of Vietnam, Kampuchea and Laos. A responsible Australian response at this stage would be to provide aid to the Vietnamese people just as the French have made their aid available. I believe that a greater magnitude of aid should be made available by the Australian Government because of our past involvement, because of the past conflict and because of the hundreds of millions of dollars which we have spent on that country. Therefore, I am seeking that aid to Vietnam be expanded.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Debate (on motion by Mr Dobie) adjourned.

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Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs · Stirling · LP

– I move:

The desirability of reviewing the existing law relating to offences at sea was referred to by the Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Garfield Barwick, in 1974 in the case of The Queen v. Bull reported in Volume 131 of the Commonwealth Law Reports, at page 203. He observed at page 235 that it is inappropriate today that the power of a court in Australia to try extra-territorial offences should be derived from and be limited by Imperial legislation. In 1977 in the subsequent case of Oteri v. The Queen, reported in Volume 51 of the Australian Law Journal Reports, at page 122, the Privy Council drew attention to a feature of the existing law in the following terms:

It may at first sight seem surprising that despite the passing of the Statute of Westminster, 1931, and the creation of separate Australian citizenship by the British Nationality Act 1948 (Imperial) and the Australian Citizenship Act 1948-1973 (Commonwealth) . . . Parliament in the United Kingdom when it passes a statute which creates a new criminal offence in English law is also legislating for those Australian passengers who cross the Bass Strait by ship from Melbourne to Launceston.

The present Bill will correct that position, in situations coming within the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers. Its purpose is to apply Australian criminal laws in those situations, the laws applied being those of a relevant State or Territory. To avoid misunderstanding, I should add that the extra-territorial application of specific federal criminal laws, such as those relating to customs offences, will continue to be dealt with as now under the specific Commonwealth legislation in question, for example, the Customs Act, and are not embraced by the present proposal.

The objective of the Bill deserves, and, I believe, will receive, wide support. There is, however, an additional important reason why this legislation should go forward and to which I should draw attention.

The Bill now before the House represents the first fruits of the consultations and agreements between the Commonwealth and the States initiated by this Government to deal with the situation it faced following upon the decision of the High Court in the Seas and Submerged Lands Case in late 1975, 135 CLR 337. Certain agreements in principle were reached at the Premiers’ Conference of 21 October 1977. At the Premiers’ Conference on 22 June 1978 a major step forward was taken to implement the principles agreed upon. In particular, it was agreed that the powers of the States should be extended to the territorial sea including the seabed. Other matters dealt with included the establishment of joint Commonwealth-State authorities for offshore mining and fishing in which the Commonwealth has a proper role perhaps not fully recognised under existing arrangements.

In the Seas and Submerged Lands Case, the complete sovereign power and rights of the Commonwealth Parliament over off-shore areas of Australia, that is from low water mark outwards, was affirmed. The result of that was that the Commonwealth Parliament has the power to over-ride all State legislation in the area. The object of the exercise which we have been engaged in since 1977 has been to endeavour, on the basis of federalism, to restore to the States powers, many of which were thrown in great doubt as a result of the High Court decision. What the States have been seeking is some permanent solution of the problem so that they will not be concerned all the time that- ‘

  1. their own laws will not be effective if they are applying off-shore, and
  2. probably more importantly, that the Commonwealth will not come in above them and exercise its power to pass laws which would as a result of section 109 of the Constitution over-ride the exercise of State laws.

Legislation to implement these other decisions is being prepared. The Government believes that it is very important that the Bill now before the House, which represents the first item of the package, should be supported and passed as soon as possible.

It has been prepared in close consultation with the States and the Northern Territory, in the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and

State Attorneys-General, as part of a complementary scheme of Commonwealth and State legislation on offences at sea. A model complementary State Bill has also been prepared for introduction into State parliaments. Legislation based on this model Bill has already been passed by the Victorian Parliament. For the purpose of the complementary scheme, the Northern Territory, which of course now has self-government, has been treated as a State and the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory has passed legislation based on the model Bill.

I turn now to the Bill itself. Very briefly, its effect is to apply the criminal laws of an appropriate State or Territory to offences on or from Australian ships on overseas, interstate and Territory voyages, and in certain carefully circumscribed cases to offences on or from foreign ships beyond the territorial sea. Also, the Commonwealth Bill will apply the criminal laws of the adjacent State or Territory to offences in offshore areas beyond the territorial sea that come under Australian jurisdiction, for example, on off-shore installations. The complementary State Bill deals with offences on intra-State voyages and offences within the territorial sea.

For these purposes, sub-clause 3(1) of the Commonwealth Bill defines ‘criminal laws’ so as to include all laws that make provision for or in relation to offences. However, there are important qualifications to this general application of criminal laws. Clause 12 excludes from the criminal laws applied by the Bill laws incapable of applying at sea or laws expressely worded so as not to extend or apply at sea. Nevertheless, this may leave some offences applicable which, it would be readily agreed, should not be so applied. It is proposed therefore by sub-clause 1 8 (2) that the regulation-making power in the Bill should authorise regulations providing that provisions or classes of provissions of the criminal laws in force in a State or Territory are not to apply by virtue of the Bill. A precedent for such an excepting power is contained in sub-section 4(6) of the Commonwealth Places (Application of Laws) Act 1970.

Honourable members will appreciate that, by reason of the requirements of international law, it is necessary, outside the territorial sea in particular, to observe a distinction between Australian ships and ships coming within the jurisdiction of other countries. For this purpose, a definition included in sub-clause 3(1) refers to ships registered in Australia or an external Territory under the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act or under any Commonwealth Act replacing that Act. Paragraph (b) of the definition refers to any other ship that is Australia-based or owned or Territory-based or owned, not being a ship registered in a foreign country. The definition of ‘ foreign country ‘ in sub-clause 3(1) therefore refers to any country other than Australia or an external territory. The distinction made in the Bill is, as mentioned, between Australian ships and other ships and so no special reference is needed to ships of other Commonwealth countries.

A particular provision that may intrigue honourable members is sub-clause 3 (4), which defines when a person ceases to be a survivor for purposes of the application of criminal laws under the Bill under paragraphs 6(1) (b), 7(1) (b) and 8(1) (b). A feature of the Bill is that it expressly covers the situation of shipwreck survivors. Those honourable members who are lawyers may remember the case of Dudley and Stephens 1884 14 QBD 253, the harrowing facts of which related to the killing and eating of a cabin boy by the survivors of a wreck in order to survive. Whilst such cases are thankfully very exceptional, the point is that situations of enormous stress can occur following on a shipwreck and there should be no room for doubt about the applicability of criminal law in such situations.

Clause 4, which follows in part section 6 of the Commonwealth Places (Application of Laws) Act 1970, authorises an arrangement with a State or the Northern Territory for the exercise or performance of a power, duty or function by an authority of the State under the provisions of the criminal laws in force in any State or Territory as applying by virtue of the Bill. This provision, along with clauses 5, 13 and 14, is designed to facilitate to the maximum the implementation of the Bill by the law enforcement authorities of the States and the Northern Territory.

The main substantive provisions of the Bill are to be found in clauses 6 to 11. Clauses 6 to 8 relate to offences on or from ships, including in particular, Australian ships wherever they might be at the time, even in a foreign port, while clauses 9 to 1 1 deal with offences in the off-shore area and are directed to offences in which ships need not be involved, for example, offences on offshore installations. In view of the current trend in the law of the sea pointing to an increase in offshore jurisdiction both in area and content, particular care has been taken to prepare legislation that will be adequate to meet future developments when they occur.

I shall deal first with offences on or from ships. Clause 6 applies State or Territorial criminal laws to acts committed by a person on or from an Australian ship in the course of a ‘prescribed voyage’ and to acts committed on or from Australian ships in foreign ports.

The criminal laws so applied are those of a State or Territory with which the ship is connected by registration. If the ship is not so registered, other kinds of connection with a State or Territory are to be recognised under sub-clause 6 (2). A ‘prescribed voyage’ is defined in subclause 6 (3) so as to include- (a) a voyage from a State to a place in a foreign country, in another State, or in a Territory; (b) a voyage from the Northern Territory to a place in a foreign country, in a State, or in another Territory; and (c) any voyage from a Territory other than the Northern Territory or from a foreign country.

Clauses 7 and 8 deal with foreign ships. It is convenient to refer to clause 8 first. It applies State or Territory criminal laws to acts on or from foreign ships beyond the territorial sea of Australia or an external Territory by an Australian citizen who was not a member of the crew of the ship. The criminal laws applied are those of the State or Territory in which the person was domiciled at the time or he had his last place of residence in Australia or the external Territories. Section 381 of the Navigation Act 1912 already claims jurisdiction in such cases, and the Bill in this regard is therefore following a well-worn path.

Clause 7 is not limited to Australian citizens and applies in relation to acts committed on the high seas on or from a foreign ship in the course of a voyage to a place in Australia or an external Territory, or which is fishing or is licensed to fish in the Australian fishing zone. As will appear, the jurisdiction is carefully circumscribed and, I should add, is likely to be seldom used.

Thus, the effect of sub-clause 7 (2) is that only the last leg of a voyage from overseas to Australia is included for purposes of the clausefor example in a voyage Tokyo-Manila-Sydney, only the Manila-Sydney leg would be includedplus any leg of the voyage around Australia, for example, Sydney-Melbourne. While sub-clause 7 (3) has the effect of applying to such acts the criminal laws of the State or Territory which the offender enters or to which he is brought, subclause 7 (4) makes it a defence that the act constituting the offence would not have constituted an offence under the law of the country of which the offender is a national.

In addition, the consent of the AttorneyGeneral is required by sub-clause 7(5), and under sub-clause 7 (6) this is to be given only if he is satisfied that the government of the foreign country under whose jurisdiction the ship comes- the flag State- has given its consent. However, the requirement of consent does not apply to piratical acts, since all countries have jurisdiction to try piratical acts on any ship.

The Government regards the carefully confined jurisdiction conferred by clause 7 as reasonable. It views it as a subordinate and seldom needed means of ensuring, as far as practicable, that crimes do not remain unpunished. The ability to extend local criminal laws to offences on foreign ships arriving in Australia follows a precedent set by New Zealand in 1961 and is justified by the need, having regard to the remoteness of Australia from other places, to be able to deal with situations of acute distress that can occur and that do, I might add, occur from time to time. The jurisdiction would only apply, as I have already indicated, if the offender enters or is brought into a State or Territory.

As I have mentioned, clauses 9, 10 and 1 1 of the Bill constitute a second group of provisions dealing with offences outside the territorial sea in offshore areas that are within Australian jurisdiction or may come within Australian jurisdiction in the future. They cover acts arising out of the exploration or exploitation of the resources of the Australian continental shelf and, looking to the future, arising out of other activities coming under Australian jurisdiction in any 200-mile economic zone that may be proclaimed by Australia. Clause 1 1 enables the application of criminal laws to other acts by Australian citizens or residents in offshore areas outside the territorial sea, for example, within the 200-mile zone. In all cases the criminal laws of the adjacent State or Territory are to be applied.

Clause 12 has already been mentioned. Clauses 13 to 16 deal with certain procedural and technical matters. Clause 17 provides in effect for a change in venue if the Judge of a Supreme Court of the State or Territory in question is satisfied that other proceedings have been instituted or are proposed, and that it is expedient that the proceedings be stayed. Matters to be taken into account include whether the continuation of the proceedings would impose any special hardship on the accused.

May I say in conclusion that there is obviously a need to re-order the position on offences at sea as soon as possible, and in that regard for this Parliament to deal with those cases that come under the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers. I therefore commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Lionel Bo wen) adjourned.

page 402


Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs · Stirling · LP

– I move:

Legislation enacted in 1976 to establish the Federal Court of Australia and to restructure the appellate jurisdiction of the High Court left a number of loose ends to be tidied up at a later date. This Bill will make a number of detailed changes to Commonwealth law to complete the scheme contained in the 1976 legislation. The 1976 legislation to which I refer comprised the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 and nine other Acts. These had the following purposes:

  1. the reorganisation of the federal judiciary by the creation of a new federal court to replace the Federal Court of Bankruptcy and the Australian Industrial Court;
  2. the relief of the workload on the High Court of both appellate and original jurisdiction;
  3. a more significant role for the State Supreme Courts in the administration of the federal judicial power; and
  4. the creation of a federal appellate jurisdiction in significant areas of federal law and the provision of a court of appeal from Territory Supreme Courts.

The 1976 legislation removed from the High Court the original jurisdiction that it had under Commonwealth law in the areas of greatest workload. In accordance with the policy then set out, most of this original jurisdiction was vested in State supreme courts. Some of it was vested in the Federal Court of Australia. In a few cases, where the jurisdiction consisted of reviewing administrative decisions having little legal content, the review jurisdiction was vested in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The policy, then as now, is that the Federal Court of Australia will have jurisdiction only in those matters where, for historical or special policy reasons, it is desirable that jurisdiction be exercised by a federal court. This applies to both original and appellate jurisdiction in matters of federal jurisdiction. The State and Territory courts, being courts of general jurisdiction, should be primarily the trial courts, in federal as well as in State matters. The High Court should be free to concentrate on its role as a constitutional and appellate court in matters of general importance.

The experience since these changes outlined above were made has more than proved their value. The Federal Court of Australia which has, amongst other matters, original jurisdiction in bankruptcy and trade practices matters and also hears appeals from State and Territory courts in matters of special federal concern, has proved to be a forum of great judicial eminance and expertise. The Court has also replaced the High Court as the court of appeal from Territory supreme courts. The purposes of this Bill are:

  1. to divest the High Court of original juris diction vested in it by statute, other than original jurisdiction as a court of disputed returns under the Commonwealth Electoral Act;
  2. b ) to confer taxation and industrial property jurisdiction on State and Territory supreme courts in those tax and industrial property matters in which these courts do not now have jurisdiction, and to provide for appeals in these matters to lie to the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia;
  3. to confer jurisdiction on Territory supreme courts, within appropriate limitations, in matters in which jurisdiction is now vested in State supreme courts, but not Territory supreme courts; and
  4. to make amendments consequential upon the enactment of the Judiciary Amendment Act 1976 and the Federal Court of Australia Act 1 976.

In removing the original statutory jurisdiction of the High Court, the Bill does not, of course, purport to limit the jurisdiction conferred directly on the High Court by the Constitution. Thus in some cases where a statute now confers a right to proceed against the Commonwealth in the High Court, repeal of the statutory provision would still leave intact the constitutional jurisdiction of the High Court in matters in which the Commonwealth is suing or being sued. Where the statutory right to proceed against the Commonwealth is moved to State or Territory courts, those courts would have a jurisdiction in those matters concurrent with the jurisdiction vested in the High Court by the Constitution. It may be expected that most litigants will prefer to initiate proceedings in these cases in the appropriate State or Territory court. If such an action is commenced in the High Court, that court is empowered under the Judiciary Act to remit the proceedings to the appropriate State or Territory court.

I now turn in detail to the provisions of the Jurisdiction of Courts (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill. Part II and Part III of the Bill complete the new arrangements for the exercise of federal jurisdiction in industrial property matters which were initiated by the Patents Amendment Act 1976 and the Trade Marks Amendment Act 1976. The amendments made by this Bill to the Copyright Act 1968 and the Designs Act 1906 provide for the jurisdiction of State and Territory supreme courts under the respective Acts to be exercised by a single judge. An appeal from a decision of a State or Territory court, including a decision in an action for an infringement of copyright or design, is to lie only to the Federal Court of Australia or, by special leave of the High Court, to that court.

Amendments made by the Bill will remove the original jurisdiction conferred on the High Court under the Copyright Act 1968 and the Designs Act 1906. A reference of question of law by the Copyright Tribunal will now be dealt with by the Federal Court of Australia. The jurisdiction of the High Court under section 28 of the Designs Act to cancel the registration of a design or to grant a compulsory licence for the manufacture of articles to which the design is applied is transferred to State and Territory supreme courts.

The Bill provides for the amendment of eight taxation Acts, namely the Estate Duty Assessment Act 1914, the Loan (Drought Bonds) Act 1969, Pay-roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Act 1971, the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 1) 1930, the States Receipts Duties (Administration) Act 1970, the Stevedoring Industry Charge Assessment Act 1947, the Taxation Administration Act 1953, and the Wool Tax (Administration) Act 1964. Similar amendments are made to the Export Incentive Grants Act 1971. The amendments will bring the provisions for appeals to the courts from decisions of the Commissioner of Taxation or a Board of Review under these Acts into line with the provisions for appeal in the Income Tax Assessment Act enacted in 1973 and 1976, subject to one qualification.

There will now be a uniform pattern of appeals in taxation legislation. The appeal from the Commissioner or a board of Review, as the case may be, will lie in the first instance to a State or Territory supreme court constituted by a single judge. From that court, an appeal will lie to the Federal Court of Australia, sitting as a full court. Where the taxpayer has chosen to appeal from the Commissioner to a board of review, the appeal from the State supreme court to the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia will lie only by leave. An appeal from the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia to the High Court of Australia will lie only by special leave of the High Court. An appeal may be taken directly from the State or Territory supreme court to the High Court by special leave of the High Court.

In this regard, one change is made to the existing law regarding appeals under the Income Tax Assessment Act. Because, under the Federal Court of Australia Act, an appeal lies as of right from the Full Court of the Federal Court to the High Court when a sum of $20,000 or more is in issue, many income tax appeals may lie as of right from the Federal Court to the High Court. This was not intended in the 1976 legislation. It had been intended that an appeal would lie to the High Court in income tax matters only by special leave of the High Court. In the legislation as introduced into the Parliament in 1976, this result was achieved because the Federal Court of Australia Bill provided that an appeal might be taken to the High Court from the Federal Court only by special leave of the High Court. That Bill was amended during the course of debate to provide that an appeal would lie as of right from the Federal Court to the High Court in the same circumstances as an appeal would lie as of right from the Full Court of a State supreme court to the High Court under the amendments to the Judiciary Act then introduced. When the change was made to the Federal Court of Australia Bill, it was overlooked that this would have the effect of giving a right of appeal in many income tax cases. This oversight has now been remedied in the present Bill.

Where the High Court still has, under taxation legislation, original jurisdiction in taxation prosecutions, that jurisdiction is to be removed. The Bill will provide a uniform pattern of jurisdiction in taxation prosecutions, the jurisdiction to be vested in State and Territory courts. Part VIII of th Bill provides for the amendment of the Lands Acquisition Act 1955 so as to remove the jurisdiction conferred by that Act on the High Court. Under the Act, the High Court has conferred on it jurisdiction concurrent with State and Territory courts.

The Bill makes appropriate provisions preserving existing rights to appeal to the High Court under the taxation legislation and to preserve the jurisdiction of the High Court in respect of proceedings instituted in the High Court at the date on which the relevant provisions of the Bill are brought into operation. Clauses 125 to 128 of the Bill provide for the High Court to remit pending proceedings or proceedings arising out of rights of appeal accrued at the date the Bill comes into operation to a State or Territory supreme court having jurisdiction in that proceeding. It may be recalled that the Judiciary Act was amended in 1976 to give the High Court a general power to remit proceedings brought in the original jurisdiction of the High Court to appropriate State or Territory courts.

Part X of the Bill makes a number of amendments to the Patents Act consequential upon the amendments made to that Act by the 1976 legislation. Amongst other things, the amendments then made provided for certain decisions of the Commissioner to be reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. It has been found necessary to amend the Act to provide for an extension of the time specified in the Act for doing certain things in cases where the progress of an application for a patent has been delayed by reason of an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Further, following amendments made last year to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act, the requirement that the Tribunal must be constituted by a presidential member in hearing appeals from the Commissioner of Patents is to be deleted. Similar amendments to the Trade Marks Act are made by the Schedule to the Bill.

The Schedule to the Bill makes a number of detailed amendments to existing legislation. Some of these amendments are consequent upon the changes made by the 1976 legislation. Others give effect to the policy of removing from the High Court original jurisdiction under Commonwealth statutes. In certain cases, it has been thought appropriate that that jurisdiction should be conferred on the Federal Court of Australia. These cases are the present jurisdiction of the High Court under the Banking Act, the jurisdiction to determine references of questions of law from the Courts-Martial Appeal Tribunal, the jurisdiction to declare unlawful associations under the Crimes Act, certain jurisdiction of the High Court under the Insurance (Deposits) Act, the power to try on a summary basis prosecutions for offences against the Royal Commissions Act and certain jurisdiction under the Treasury Bills Act.

The schedule also contains provisions conferring jurisdiction on Territory Supreme Courts in cases where State Supreme Courts may now exercise jurisdiction but not Territory Supreme Courts.

Debate interrupted.

page 404


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jarman)Order! It being 10.30 p.m., I propose the question:

That the House do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the negative.

page 404


Second Reading

Debate resumed.


– I resume the observations I was making by saying that this is in line with the policy of giving Territory Supreme Courts, within constitutional limits, a status equal to that of State Supreme Courts. Some amendments to the Schedule of the Bill were made during its passage in another place. A new section 32A is to be inserted in the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 which will invest the Supreme Court of a State with jurisdiction to hear and determine any application that may be made to a judge of the Federal Court of Australia sitting in chambers. This provision is to apply to matters pending in the General Division of the Federal Court. New section 32A is designed to overcome difficulties that might arise in those places where a Federal Court judge is not readily available and an urgent application to the Court needs to be made. A number of other drafting amendments are made to the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976.

The changes that I have described affect a wide range of Commonwealth legislation. They are, however, all concerned with the further improvement in the exercise of federal jurisdiction by the courts. The present changes complete the particular projects that were commenced in 1976. They are in line with the Government’s policy to have a co-ordinated structure of State and Federal courts in Australia and to avoid the disadvantages of a dual court system which could easily develop under a federal system and which has caused so many problems in the United States. Although a unified court system would be the ideal I must accept that this is unlikely to be achieved for the time being. The policy of a co-ordinated system is a satisfactory alternative and is, in the view of the Government, a practical one. I hope that the States will seriously consider investing Federal courts with jurisdiction under State laws where that would be convenient in the same way as the Federal

Government has been prepared to invest State courts with wider federal jurisdiction where that is sensible and convenient. In this way I believe that most of the problems which can arise with State and Federal jurisdictions could be avoided.

I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion of Mr Lionel Bowen) adjourned.

page 405


Government Policies- Defence- Community Projects-Fishing: Great Barrier Reef- Technological Progress: Employment- Superannuation Investments Trust: Investments in Canberra

Motion (by Mr Viner) proposed:

That the House do now adjourn.


-I want to raise a question which is important to the nation and of particular importance to this Parliament and that is: Who is making the decisions? For so long whenever there has been a union strike for better conditions or something such as that we have heard the cry, ‘Who is ruling Australia?’ Well, who is ruling it now as the result of the decision of the Government to surrender to General Motors-Holden’s Ltd on the question of Australian content in motor cars? A few weeks ago this country received a message from the General Motors Corporation in the United States of America saying that it would build motor cars in Australia if we reduced the Australian content in cars. The Government was given approximately a fortnight in which to do that and, such is its puppetry, the Government danced to General Motors’ string pulling and agreed to it.

What does it mean? None of us have been told. In this morning’s newspaper there is a report of a meeting held in Melbourne between General Motors-Holden’s and the unions at which, as the unions have said, the unions asked the questions but received no answers. What will be the results? It is said that the company will make for export some 200,000 engines. How much employment will this mean? I have not been to Japan to look at the factories there but from what I have seen on television I understand that companies such as Toyota have an almost totally automated engine assembly plant. While there is talk that this proposal will produce perhaps 10,000 jobs, I will be surprised if more than 1,000 people are employed in the motor construction plant.

What will that do to the Australian components industry which now produces about 20 per cent of motor cars and employs thousands of people throughout the Australian industrial scene, particularly in areas such as the one I represent where the components of motor cars are being constructed by highly skilled workers in factories which often do not employ more than 100 people? How much are we going to receive in import earnings? Perhaps it might be $80m if we get $400 for each of the 200,000 motor cars. How much Australian material will be used? I suppose the engines will weigh about 400 cwt each and, if that were all steel, about 40,000 tons of steel would be used. That is chicken feed. But what does it do to the Australian industry? It is time we had a proper analysis of the proposal laid on the table. What offends me more than anything is that the government of a supposed sovereign country such as this dances the moment the strings from Detroit are pulled. I think it is a total disgrace. The Government has no will of its own; it surrenders to anyone overseas, particularly anyone with money.

That is only one issue. The second issue is that some time ago we decided on a world parity price for oil. I thought that that was the height of economic nonsense. The fact is that we put up the price of Australian oil to Australian consumers for the benefit of the producers, Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and Esso Australia Ltd. That means that if we adopted that action as policy, every time the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries met and made a decision about the price of oil, we would not make the decision about the price of oil to the Australian consumers because we would have surrendered the initiative to the people overseas. It is another piece of puppetry.

There is a third piece of puppetry which is even more disgraceful and that is the way in which we allow the Indonesian Government to decide some of our policies for us. There are two men in prison in Papua New Guinea. They are refugees from West Irian who were attempting to arouse in the people of West Irian an awareness of their rights. Having been suppressed by Indonesia, they retreated to Papua New Guinea where they were put in gaol and they will not be let out until someone offers them refuge; but we are too miserable to do that. Of course, that is not the only thing. Another most disgraceful incident was the suppression of the radio in Darwin. They are three classic examples of puppetry from what is supposed to be a sovereign government. It is a disgrace to the country. The Government is not fit to govern.


– I would like to say a few words tonight about Australia’s defence preparedness and, more specifically, about public attitudes towards that preparedness. In recent years the general thinking in this country on Australia’s defence has been that this nation would face no military threat for at least a decade. This feeling was first popularised by the Whitlam Labor Government, born out of its idealistic and simplistic world view. It was a world view which held that as more of the world turned socialist it would become a better place in which to live. It cheerfully assumed that growing anarchy and violence were but birth pains of this new world socialist order in which Australia would play its rightful part. Defence complacency existed after the demise of that Government but now, against the background of the current world situation, which was correctly outlined this afternoon by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock), I contend that that complacency must be eradicated and the rationale that gave rise to it completely overturned, discredited and dismissed.

In my view, it is deficient to talk only of identifiable threats. The Middle East, Iran, Africa, Indo-China and the potential for a Sino-Soviet clash collectively serve to make the fundamental point that the world is a threatening environment. In that environment situations change and events happen so rapidly that what were clear horizons one day carry rolling storm clouds the next. It is in that environment that we must be prepared. Let me try to explain it in domestic terms. We cannot identify the car thief who is likely to rob us of our vehicle, but does that mean that we leave our car unlocked with the keys in it? Of course we do not. We cannot identify the housebreaker who is likely to climb in and take our jewellery. Does that mean that we leave our valuables inside with the windows of the house open? Of course we do not. So, it must be the same with our nation. We live in a threatening environment. It is in that context that we must plan and provide for Australia’s defence. In the absence of identifiable threats, we must take continuing precautions against possible or probable threats.

If that argument is accepted there at present exists a vital and continuing need for increased defence expenditure in this country. I believe that the Government has recognised the threatening nature of the world environment. Some increase in defence expenditure has recently been announced. But importantly, there needs to be a public realisation in the Australian community at large, concurrent with that increased expenditures, of the seriousness of the global situation and the need for increased defence expenditure.

Responsible democratic governments respond to pressure, and where that pressure arises out of general feeling rightly so. In recent years the greatest pressure has been for increased expenditure in the areas of health, welfare and education, for example. At the same time there have been calls for lower taxation. In terms of the limited budgetary cake, defence expenditure has fallen as a percentage of the total budgetary outlay. I submit that increased income, social service benefits and the like, are meaningless if the security of the nation is in doubt, at risk or at worse in jeopardy. It must be realised that national security is the foundation on which all other securities rest.

The Australian community must become aware of this fundamental fact. It must embark on a course to make defence an issue in this country, to improve our defences and to be able to live with some measure of security in a threatening world environment. I call on the Government to show leadership in that direction.


– I refer in this adjournment debate to some of the aspects of the dead hand of the new federalism on worthwhile community projects. One knows that one of the problems in this matter is the lack of accountability of the States for expenditure of Federal funds in many of these areas. State governments have received quite substantial funding for community health centres. These community health centres were introduced by the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) when he was Minister for Health. They were very well accepted in the community. It is not just the general health centres that I am referring to. Included in the scheme were mental health centres. As I will mention later, they are most important in the methods of treatment of mental health problems. One of the reasons why I am particularly conscious of these centres is that, before 1977, the boundaries of my electorate contained major mental health institutions. They have now been transferred to my colleague, the honourable member for Batman (Mr Howe). It has been my opportunity to see the change that has taken place in these institutions in that local area over the years. One element has become quite evident with regard to the community health centres dealing with mental health at present. There is absolutely no planning at the State level whatsoever. In the newly formed Victorian Health Commission- the successor to the Health Department and Hospital and Charities Commission- no one accepts responsibility for the planning and activity in these centres. The result of this lack of planning and lack of aim is frustration for the staff who are employed in those centres. There is lack of finance, lack of purpose and lack of future. Staff members are resigning. Effectively, the dead hand of the new federalism is condemning these projects down the drain.

I refer to the Whittlesea clinic in my electorate. It is administered theoretically by the Plenty Hospital. Nearby is the Broadmeadows Community Health Centre for the same purpose which is administered by the Montpark Hospital. I believe that because of the lack of planning, and the deliberate purpose going on at Victorian State level, the funds for these clinics are being diverted straight to the Plenty and Montpark hospitals and then into their institutional authorities. The funds are not being utilised at all for these mental health community centres. This is tragic. In Victoria one has only to go back to the 1950s when Dr Cunningham Dax came to Victoria and gave a new concept to the scheme. His book From Asylum to Community predicted the change that would eventuate in the treatment of persons with mental complaints and claimed that the community centres would be of increasing importance to outside hospitals. In this way, people would not be institutionalised or locked up like prisoners as they had been in the past, but would go out and cany on their work in the community at the community health centres that we ultimately introduced. But because of the new federalism, we have State mismanagement; we note the misuse of public funds; and we see the strangling of a worthwhile project. What is even worse, in Victoria, with an election on 5 May, the Victorian Government cannot be examined because the Parliament is not going to meet this financial year.


– It was in the course of the Grievance Day debate in this House on 28 April 1977 that I brought to the notice of the House the dangers to our security threatened by, and the rape of the Great Barrier Reef perpetrated by Tawainese fishermen in their illegal poaching of the Reef. Most people do not realise the threat to the survival of the Reef that these fishermen pose. Clam meat which retails at about $28 per lb in Taiwan means the destruction of about three clams for each lb. These clams have probably taken up to about 100 years to develop to that size before their ruthless and unnecessary destruction. Regeneration cannot make up for this enormous loss and the Reef loses in the clam a natural purifier of its waters.

The extent of the Taiwanese ravages is that on the vessels apprehended there has been an average catch of about three and half tonnes of clam meat, or about 20,000 clams. These are the ones apprehended. One wonders if those that are not apprehended carry off their full cargo of 10 tonnes to 12 tonnes or a harvest of 70,000 clams representing a living development of some seven million years.

The recent arrest of these vessels on Swains Reef off the Central Queensland coast highlights not only this gap in our security but many other matters. I mention the more important of these. The first is the slowness in activating the arresting forces. Secondly, there is the lack of suitable service sea craft to come to the area of the action and then the hesitancy of the vessels available to venture into the reefs to make arrests. Thirdly, there is the concern of many people at the inadequacy of the fines and sale price of the vessels as compared with the cost of detection, arrest, detention, provisioning, quarantining, cleaning, harbour dues, legal processes, repatriation of the crews, the destroying of the cargo and many others, which would amount to tens of thousands of Australian dollars. This is at cost to the Australian taxpayer, in addition to the destruction of an Australian national asset. Fourthly, there is the lack of a coastguard surveillance on the Reef to counter quarantine, health and drug risks also involved. Fifthly, there is the loss of income to tourist charters and fishing vessels which are expected, without recognition, to do not only the surveillance but also the monitoring- not to mention the risks to their property or life. Lastly, I mention the lack of immediate channels of complaint with Taiwan due to the closure of diplomatic ties with that nation.

I have mentioned some of the matters that are of concern to the people in the immediate vicinity, but which should be of concern to every true blooded Australian. The main problem that should be appreciated is that by the time the arrest is made the damage to our Reef is already complete. It is essential, that there should be further deterrents to these trespassers and that our surveillance by suitable craft should be appreciably stepped up. I suggest therefore that a coastguard force divorced from the Services be created with the authority to act under regulations and the laws of the fishery department, the health department and the customs department. I suggest that surveillance in the interim be delegated to private charter vessels. One estimate I have received is that the cost of such surveillance of the whole length of the Barrier Reef would be as little as $500,000 per year on a 12-day cycle surveillance basis.

I suggest that citizens’ arrest be allowed and legislated for to give speedy arrest if necessary by the people on the scene. I suggest that as a deterrent to this poaching, the implications of common law and international law be examined to see whether a vessel so captured can be towed beyond the international shelf and sunk after taking from it the necessary evidence and the crews. This alone would save considerable costs to the Australian taxpayer. I suggest that the penalties be increased to ensure that the costs of the crews repatriation to their own country are adequately covered. I leave this matter with the House and with the Ministers concerned as one of urgent concern requiring immediate action if only to protect our Barrier Reef.

Mr Barry Jones:

-I direct the attention of the House to the words of the Nobel Prize winning economist, Professor Wassily Leontief of the Harvard University, in his essay ‘Issues of the Coming Years’, Economic Impact No. 24 1978/4. He writes:

If one were asked to single out the force that has contributed more than any other to the phenomenal economic growth of the last 200 years, one would answer, technological change. It was, however, the newly invented power loom that deprived thousands of English weavers of their jobs about 160 years ago. Today the American Telephone and Telegraph Co. is installing automatic switching equipment that will permit it to handle the anticipated increase in the volume of long-distance calls and reduce the number of long-distance operators.

The fact that machines do displace labour cannot be questioned. But many economic theorists (Karl Marx was not one of them!) hastened to point out that at the time of the Luddite rebellions that this displacement did not mean that the total demand for labour and total employment had to diminish. An equal or even larger number of new jobs, these theorists claimed, would necessarily be created in the machinebuilding and subsidiary industries. But is this so?

The answer to that question is of crucial importance for the understanding of the economic, social and political problems faced by labour in times of accelerated technological advance.

I am glad that the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) is at the table. Leontief continued:

That answer is ‘No’. New machines, new technology introduced because it cuts production costs can indeed reduce the total demand for labour, that is, the total number of jobs available in all sectors of the economy taken together at any given price of labour- in other words, at any given wage rate.

To use a somewhat crass and even shocking analogy, new machines can reduce the total demand for human labour for the same reason and essentially through the same process that, a generation ago, led to the replacement of draught horses by trucks, tractors and automobiles. To argue that workers displaced by machines should necessarily be able to find work building these machines makes no more sense that to expect the horses displaced by mechanical vehicles to have been employed directly or indirectly, in various branches of the expanding automotive industry.

That process is speeded up by the process of miniaturisation. I do not believe that the economic significance of miniaturisation has been properly recognised. I think that it should give cause to those who think we can learn from the experience of the past. I suspect that we cannot, that the nature and rate of technological change are not strictly comparable with any past development. For example, Watt’s steam engine forced many workhorses into premature retirement, but it created jobs for the men who made the machines, operated them, maintained them, built the factories to house them, dug up the coal and supplied the water which ran them. But suppose that one of Watt’s contemporaries had produced a steam engine of equal capacity which required little maintenance or supervision, virtually no fuel, could be bought cheaply, and was small enough to be slipped into a coat pocket. Is it suggested that such an invention would not have had significant consquences on work demand? Imagine, for the benefit of National Country Party members, a cow which gave abundant milk 24 hours a day, was not dependent on good pastures, kept itself clean and could be carried around in a handbag. Would that not have represented a significant change in employment in agriculture? Mr Deputy Speaker recognises that.

Just to give the House something else cheerful to think about before we go home, I was struck by a quotation in the December 1978 edition of Datamation by the European editor, Rolf Emmett who wrote:

Today IBM has a backlog of more than four times the computing power it has ever shipped. Or, put another way, IBM’s backlog is greater than the total computing capacity ever used on this planet.

Remember the motto for IBM is ‘Think’. The management of IBM has been thinking. We have to start thinking too.


-This evening I raise a problem which is facing the private sector in the Australian Capital Territory. As honourable members would know, the economy of the Australian Capital Territory is feeling very much the brunt of the Government’s economic policy in relation to constraint on public expenditure. This, of course, has meant that the primary employment sector of our economy has remained stagnant and that the other two major employment sectors of our economy- the building industry and the service industries- have fallen. In the attempts of the people in Canberra to bolster the private sector, the availability of private investment funds has always been most important. Predominantly, Canberra has been built on finance company money which, as we know, is at fairly high interest rates at the moment. In a depressed economy those interest rates are acting as a positive disincentive towards investment.

One of the largest investment funds in Australia takes a very large amount of money out of the Capital Territory’s economy. I refer to the Superannuation Fund Investment Trust. Last year I asked for some figures from this Trust as to exactly what investments it had made in the 2-year period from 1 July 1976 to 30 June 1978. 1 was informed by the Chairman of the Trust that investments totalling $238m had been made around Australia. I asked the Chairman how many contributors there were to the Fund and he informed me that there were 245,000 contributors in Australia at 30 June 1978. No separate figures were available for the Capital Territory but, he said, if we take the number of full time employees under the Public Service Act we would find that in 1977 there were 33,787 full time employees and that in 1978 there were close enough to 5 3 ,600 contributors.

I followed that up and asked what the contributions of all of those public servants in Canberra were to the Fund. I was informed that in the 2-year period from July 1976 to June 1978 contributions totalled $50m. That is a massive amount of money. It is a massive amount of money which appears to be going out of Canberra. I then asked how much of that money had been invested directly in the Capital Territory over that 2-year period. I was informed that $ 1.25m was the amount. So the Fund takes $50m-odd out of the Capital Territory and puts just over $lm back into it. At a time when the capital formation in a young territory such as the Australian Capital Territory is low, at a time when we need all of the money we can get at low interest rates to assist the private sector in Canberra, I think this action verges on a scandal. For the Trust to have the temerity to take $50m out of the Capital Territory and put only $1.25m back into it is a slight on the public servants, is a slight on the employment opportunities for our young people and is something that should stop immediately.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 11 p.m.

page 410


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:

Ranger Uranium Project (Question No. 598)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 9 March 1978:

In view of the Government’s decision to proceed with the proposed Ranger uranium mining venture under the Atomic Energy Act which inter alia provides for the application of the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act 1947 to all works carried out by or on behalf of the Atomic Energy Commission, will the Government give an undertaking that the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act will not be applied to the proposed new Ranger mine.

Mr Newman:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The Ranger Project is a commercial undertaking for wholly peaceful purposes and with proper safeguards. As was made clear during the debate on the Atomic Energy Amendment Act 1978 in the Senate on 29 May 1978, the Government’s policy is that penal provisions enacted for defence purposes would not be applied to the Ranger Project.

Mr R. J. Doolan (Question No. 1385)

Mr James:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 29 May 1978:

  1. 1 ) Was Mr Robert John Doolan after 3 1 years of service, summarily removed from the management of the Moruya Branch of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation in March 1974, as a result of a report made by a Bank subinspector, and was he advised that he had been transferred without promotion as a disciplinary measure.
  2. Did Mr Doolan, in April 1974, exercise his right of appeal to the Disciplinary Appeals Board of the Corporation; if so (a) did the Corporation argue that the Disciplinary Appeals Board has no jurisdiction as Mr Doolan had not been ‘disciplined’ (b) were the particulars furnished by the Corporation as required by Regulation 35(1) totally consistent with the Corporation’s legal argument of no jurisdiction and no discipline and (c) did these particulars contain no specific charges evidencing inefficiency, incompetence and unfitness.
  3. Did the Disciplinary Appeals Board subsequently find that no matter what other reason the Corporation had for transferring the appellant, it had in effect come to the conclusion that the appellant was either inefficient, incompetent or unfit.
  4. If so, was the Disciplinary Appeals Board decision a complete negation of all the Corporation’s legal argument and of the particulars furnished by the Corporation.
  5. Did the Chairman of the Board decline to exercise express powers conferred on him under Regulation 35 (2) directing the Corporation to furnish further particulars evidencing this inefficiency, incompetence or unfitness.
  6. Was Mr Doolan then in the position of having to prove his competency without knowing the reasons for the Bank’s conclusions about his competency and fitness.
  7. Does the Corporation use the transfer of a manager to the relieving staff without promotion as a disciplinary device.
  8. In regard to the inspection of branches of the Corporation, are staff privately interviewed by the senior inspecting officer.
  9. Are staff, during these interviews, encouraged to speak openly of their feelings towards the manager.
  10. Do the Corporation’s instructions require a subinspector, presenting a staff report likely to affect an officer’s future career, to discuss this report with the officer concerned and obtain a written acknowledgement that the report has been so discussed.
  11. 1 1 ) If so, did the sub-inspector in this instance (a) decline to discuss his report with Mr Doolan stating it would be defamatory to do so and (b) ask Mr Doolan to sign a certificate that the report had been fully discussed with him.
  12. 1 2 ) Has Mr Doolan written to him giving his approval for full details of the answer to this question to be made public.
Mr Howard:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) to (6) and ( 1 1 ) As these matters concern the administration of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, the questions were referred to the Managing Director of the Corporation. He has provided detailed answers to the questions asked. However, I do not consider it appropriate to make public details of personal employment records.
  2. The transfer of a Manager to the relieving staff without promotion can occur for a number of reasons, including those reasons set out in Section 106(1) of the Commonwealth Banks Act.
  3. Yes, in those cases where staff members desire such an interview.
  4. Staff are not encouraged to speak about their feelings towards the Manager, but if they wish to initiate such discussion they are not precluded from doing so.
  5. Yes.
  6. Yes. However, as indicated above, I believe that as the Minister responsible for a department or statutory authority I should not reveal personal employment records associated with that department or authority. I have already provided full answers to all the above questions to Mr Doolan by letter dated 20 February 1978 and I shall provide the honourable member with a copy of that letter for his confidential information. Mr Doolan is free to use the information in the letter as he thinks fit.

Department of Foreign Affairs: Contracts (Question No. 1781)

Mr Holding:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 22 August 1 978:

  1. 1 ) How many contracts entered into by Departments and Statutory Corporations under his control for the purchase of equipment, contained clauses specifying an onset arrangement with the vendor for the purchase of Australian manufactured goods, components and/or technology during the last 10 years.
  2. What were those contracts.
  3. What was the sum involved in each offset clause and what were the terms of its discharge.
  4. What is the extent to which the terms of these clauses have been implemented specifying in each case the monetary value of the implementation.
  5. What sum is currently available under these clauses for the purchase of relevant Australian manufactured goods, components and/or technology.
Mr Peacock:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) to ( 5) See answer to question No. 1 794 (House of Representatives, Hansard, page 3389).

Government Contracts: Offset Arrangements (Question No. 1785)

Mr Holding:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 22 August 1978:

  1. 1 ) How many contracts entered into by Departments and Statutory Corporations under his control for the purchase of equipment contained clauses specifying an offset arrangement with the vendor for the purchase of Australian manufactured goods, components and/or technology during the last 10 years.
  2. What were those contracts.
  3. What was the sum involved in each offset clause and what were the terms of its discharge.
  4. What is the extent to which the terms of these clauses have been implemented specifying in each case the monetary value of the implementation.
  5. What sum is currently available under these clauses for the purchase of relevant Australian manufactured goods, components and/or technology.
Mr Hunt:
Minister for Health · GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES · NCP/NP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

I refer the honourable member to the answer to Question No. 1794 appearing in Hansard of 23 November 1978 pages 3389 and 3390.

Mr Harold Cottee (Question No. 2424)

Mr Armitage:

asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 10 October 1978:

  1. Is he able to state whether the Mr Harold Cottee whom he announced on 22 September 1978 had been appointed as a Commissioner of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia), is the same Mr Harold

    1. At the perimeter fence other than the southwest corner.

Cottee who (a) was the principal of an organisation known as Metro- West Broadcasters Limited which was unsuccessful in its application before the now disbanded Broadcasting Control Board for a radio transmitting licence for the north western areas of Sydney, (b) brought proceedings in the High Court against two previous Ministers for Post and Telecommunications to restrain those Ministers from issuing the licence to the applicant recommended by the Broadcasting Control Board, (c) was also the principal of Metro-West Broadcasters Limited which was also an unsuccessful applicant before the Broadcasting Tribunal for a radio transmitting licence for the western area of Sydney and (d) has been, or is, holding prominent positions in the Liberal Parry of Australia.

  1. If so, has this appointment to the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia) been given to Mr Cottee as a consolation.
Mr Staley:
Minister for Post and Telecommunications · CHISHOLM, VICTORIA · LP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) Yes. In relation to Part (d) of the question I understand Mr Cottee has held various positions at the Branch and Local Electorate Council Level.
  2. No.

Lucas Heights Research Establishment (Question No. 2637)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 25 October 1978:

  1. What were the radiation levels (a) at the perimeter fence and (b) for the small length of the perimeter fence at the south-west corner of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission ‘s Research Establishment at Lucas Heights, NSW, on a monthly basis since January 1975.
  2. Have radiation levels exceeded internationally accepted limits in any area within the AAEC’s Research Establishment at Lucas Heights to which workers or civilians may gain access.
Mr Newman:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

I am advised by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission that-

Radiation levels measured by photographic dosemeters at the perimeter fence of the AAEC’s Research Establishment are tabled below. Before September 1975 measurements were not taken over 4 weekly time spans, but over longer periods. All units are expressed in millegrays.

  1. Internationally accepted radiation limits are expressed in terms of annual maximum permissible radiation doses which can safely be received by an individual, not in terms of the level of radiation existing in any area.

The standards on dose limitation met by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission are detailed in my answer to House of Representatives Question No. 2635.

To prevent workers receiving radiation doses in excess of the accepted limits, access to certain areas of the AAEC Research Establishment at Lucas Heights is, and has always been, strictly controlled.

Motor Vehicle Emission Controls (Question No. 2734)

Mr Jull:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 9 November 1978:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to estimates by the Australian Transport Advisory Council that vehicle emission controls have increased motor vehicle fuel consumption by approximately 7 per cent, the increase being much larger for some vehicles.
  2. Has his attention also been drawn to estimates by the Australian Automobile Association that the annual cost of fitting these control devices is over $50m, that the extra cost of servicing fitted vehicles is $185m and that the additional fuel bill resulting from emission control equipment will be more than $2 15 m.
  3. 3) Is he able to say in which overseas countries Australian standard emission controls also apply to new motor vehicles.
  4. What success have emission control systems had in Australia or overseas in reducing air pollution.
  5. What is the percentage contribution of exhaust emission to air pollution.
  6. What scientific or medical evidence is forthcoming to suggest that exhaust emissions are a major contributor to bad health in normal circumstances.
Mr Nixon:
Minister for Transport · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · LP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) I am aware of the estimates presented to ATAC that vehicle emission controls increased fuel consumption for the vehicles concerned on average by approximately 7 per cent.
  2. Yes.
  3. A number of countries have emission controls. In some, notably the United States and Japan the standards are more stringent than in Australia.
  4. The New South Wales State Pollution Control Commission (SPCC) has produced post ADR 27a estimates of the effect of emission controls. They have estimated that on a per vehicle basis carbon monoxide has been reduced by an average of 57 per cent, hydrocarbons by 50 per cent and oxides of nitrogen by 38 per cent.

It must, however, be remembered that these controls only apply to new vehicles registered after the introduction of

ADR 27a in July 1976, and at present these vehicles only make up approximately 20 per cent of the total vehicle fleet. It will therefore be several years before the effectiveness of emission controls on urban air quality can be measured.

  1. Emission inventories estimating the contribution of motor vehicles to urban air pollution have been prepared for Melbourne by the Environmental Protection Authority in 1973, for Sydney by the NSW State Pollution Control Commission in 1972 and for Adelaide by the SA Department of Public Health in 1974. They showed that the percentage contributions of exhaust emission to air pollution for the various cities was as follows:
  2. Medical authorities around the World have undertaken research into the effects of various pollutants including those emitted from motor vehicles. This research has established relationships between exposure levels to various motor vehicle pollutants and adverse health effects. The levels of pollutants that are acceptable from a medical viewpoint are under constant review by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Crude Oil Price (Question No. 2839)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 16 November 1978.

  1. 1 ) Have any studies been undertaken or planned to determine the fuel saving due to increased crude oil prices.
  2. If so, what have been the findings and conclusions of any completed studies.
  3. Can he say whether price rises have led to liquid fuel savings in other countries; if so, what savings have been made.
Mr Newman:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. and (2) Studies are being undertaken, both overseas and in Australia, which will provide information necessary as a basis for the estimation of fuel savings from higher crude oil prices. My Department, for example, conducts a biennial fuel survey which covers over 600 fuel using and supply organisations representing more than 95 per cent of consumption of non-transport primary fuels in Australia. The survey identifies fuel usage by location, industry, and type of fuelusing equipment, data which is all of value in determining the scope for interfuel substitution and for energy conservation. The Department’s current survey, now in its pilot stage, includes questions which relate fuel prices to the economics of converting facilities away from liquid fuels and plans for installation of energy conservation equipment.

Econometric studies of the impact of higher oil prices and changing patterns of economic activity on petroleum demand are also an ongoing activity of the Department and are used in preparing published projections of primary fuels demand.

  1. 3 ) Liquid fuel savings have been made in other countries, partly attributable to the direct effect of increases in oil prices and partly due to conservation initiatives by consuming countries in the wake of those increases. The International Energy Agency in 1976 published a review of ‘Energy Conservation in IEA Countries’ which, amongst other things compared actual energy consumption in member countries in 1 975 with projections for 1 975 based on 1 968- 1 973 trends (i.e. trends applicable before the dramatic OPEC oil price increases). The projections for the IEA total overestimated actual demand by over 14 per cent, and those for the Netherlands and Japan overestimated demand by 20 per cent. Since these differences reflect both conservation efforts and a reduction in economic growth rates, the review also included a comparison of the ratio between energy consumption and GDP for 1973 and 1975. This ratio, for member countries overall, improved by 2.7 percent, with much larger improvements for countries outside North America. Since 1975, there has been a resumption in economic growth, but inland deliveries of petroleum in Europe and Japan have risen more slowly than GDP.

On a technical level, a useful survey of analysis on this subject is the Report of the Working Group on Energy Elasticities, published as Energy Paper Number 7 by the United Kingdom Department of Energy. It contains tabulated summaries of a large number of studies covering various forms of energy in various countries. I refer the honourable member to that publication.

Offshore Petroleum Exploration (Question No. 2841)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 16 November 1978:

  1. How many offshore petroleum exploration permits have been issued during each year since 1 967.
  2. What was the size and approximate location of each of the areas for which exploration was permitted.
  3. What degree of foreign ownership was involved in each company receiving permits.
Mr Newman:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. The size and location of each offshore petroleum exploration permit issued since 1967 is shown on the Petroleum Exploration and Development Titles maps and the key which accompanies those maps. The maps have been published by the Bureau of Mineral Resources on a regular basis since December 1954 and copies should be available through the Parliamentary Library. The latest map shows all petroleum titles in Australia in force at 1 January 1978.
  2. 3 ) The level of foreign ownership in each company which has participated in offshore petroleum exploration permits since 1967 is not readily available. The Government’s foreign investment policy, which was introduced in April 1976, does not require any specific level of Australian participation at the exploration phase, including offshore exploration for petroleum. However, the policy provides that before development of a new commercial petroleum field can proceed the parties concerned would be required to meet the Government’s policy which requires as a general rule 50 per cent Australian equity.

Solar Energy (Question No. 2842)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 16 November 1978:

Has the Australian Atomic Energy Commission ever (a) sought and (b) been’ granted ministerial approval to undertake research into (i) solar conversion using photochemical cells, (ii) total energy requirements of a residence from solar energy and (iii) the magnetohydrodynamic turbine.

Mr Newman:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

No. I invite the honourable member’s attention to the terms of my answer to Question No. 595 by the honourable member for Hughes, (Hansard, page 2575, 25 May 1978). I am advised that on the basis of the definition of ‘atomic energy’ as contained in the Atomic Energy Amendment Act 1978 the functions of the Commission under section 17 (1) (g) extend to research and investigation in connection with matters associated with solar energy. Work on the magnetohydrodynamic turbine has been discontinued pending the Government’s receipt of a report from a Committee of Review on the Commission ‘s research activities.

Use of Concorde Aircraft (Question No. 2911)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 2 1 November 1978:

  1. Under what circumstances are his (a) departmental staff and (b) ministerial staff authorised to travel on Concorde aircraft between the United States and the United Kingdom.
  2. What is the additional cost per journey.
  3. How many officers of his Department (a) sought approval, (b) were granted approval and (c) were refused approval to travel on Concorde aircraft during (i) 1976-77, (ii) 1977-78 and (iii) 1978-79 to date.
  4. How many officers from his Department or personal staff have travelled on Concorde aircraft without seeking approval.
Mr Peacock:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. The Public Service Board, which is the approving authority for Departmental travel on Concorde flights, has advised all Departments that such approval will be given only in exceptional circumstances. Overseas travel by a Minister, including accompanying officials, is subject to the approval of the Prime Minister.
  2. ) The current fare for a Concorde flight from New York to London is $1 15.00 above the normal first class fare for a New York- London flight.
  3. With the Prime Minister’s approval two officers of my Department travelled on a Concorde aircraft with him from New York to London on 7 June 1 978. No other officers have sought approval to travel, or have been refused approval to travel, on Concorde aircraft, at any other time.
  4. On infrequent occasions safe hand couriers from my Department who would normally fly British Airways from New York to London have been upgraded to Concorde at no extra cost when their regular flight has been cancelled.

Companies and Securities Regulation (Question No. 2951) . Mr Jacobi asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1978:

  1. 1) Is it a fact that (a) changes will be made soon to the existing scheme of companies and securities regulation, and (b) significant amendments will be made to the current companies and securities legislation.
  2. If so, will the Government table a white paper detailing the proposed changes so as to permit Parliament, the securities industry, businessmen and the community, to scrutinize and comment on the proposed laws, which will be of critical importance to both corporate and investment sectors.
Mr Fife:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. (a)Yes. (b) Yes.

On 4 February I released for public information the Formal Agreement between the Commonwealth and each State Government to establish a national companies and securities scheme. The Agreement was signed by the Prime Minister and State Premiers last December.

The Formal agreement essentially covers the following matters in relation to the scheme: the objectives and the operation of the scheme; the establishment of a Ministerial Council which will have control over the legislation and its administration; the operation of the National Companies and Securities Commission which is to be established by Commonwealth Act; the National Commission’s relationship with existing State and Territory administrations; the legislative device which will ensure that the Companies and Securities Industry legislation in force in the Australian Capital Territory at any given time will also be the law in force in the six States; a number of important issues which will be reflected in the substantive Companies and Securities Industry legislation.

  1. The content of the Companies and Securities Industry legislation under the scheme is still the subject of confidential negotiation between the Commonwealth and State Governments. The State Ministers and I have decided however that in due course drafts of the Companies Bill and the Securities Industry Bill will be exposed for public comment prior to their introduction into the Commonwealth Parliament. Ministers have already exposed for public comment a draft Take-overs Bill.

In the circumstances I do not think that a white paper will be necessary.

Ethnic Liaison Officers Scheme (Question No. 2953)

Dr Cass:

asked the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 22 November 1978:

  1. 1 ) Is the effectiveness of the ethnic liaison officer program assessed as part of the scheme itself.
  2. If so, is part of this assessment an evaluation of the effect on departments and authorities as employers of migrants.
  3. If the program is assessed, does the Public Service Board require similar information to that requested from the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs in my question No. 1041 (Hansard, 2 June 1978, page 3066).
  4. If so, will he ask the Board to direct each department and authority to provide the House with the information as soon as it is collected.
  5. If the information sought in question No. 1041 is not pan of the assessment, how is the assessment of departments and authorities as employers of migrants to be conducted.
Mr Viner:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. In the Prime Minister’s Press Statement of 1 March 1 978 announcing the institution of the Ethnic Liaison Officer scheme, it was stated that the scheme’s overall effectiveness would be the subject of a report from the Public Service Board after the scheme had been in operation for 1 2 months.

In relation to the remaining pans of the question, the Public Service Board has advised me as follows:

  1. The evaluation will include consideration of steps taken by departments and major authorities in their role as employers.
  2. No.
  3. Not applicable: see (3).
  4. The assessment will be conducted on the basis of information supplied by departments and major authorities in written reports, meetings and seminars and obtained through meetings with representatives of ethnic organisations. The assessment will focus on activities to: ensure equality of access to employment; identify and resolve employment and communication difficulties; increase supervisors’ awareness of the special needs, including needs for English teaching of migrant employees.

Repatriation Benefits (Question No. 2959)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1978:

  1. 1 ) Has the Government received a request from the Australian Services Council that the intermediate rate pension be made not less than 75 per cent of the minimum wage and maintained at that level.
  2. If so, what would be the cost of this proposal.
Mr Adermann:
Minister Assisting the Minister for Primary Industry · FISHER, QUEENSLAND · NCP/NP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. No specific request has been received on this matter but I am aware that it forms part of the Australian Veterans and Defence Services Council’s Repatriation and Resettlement policy. This policy is considered by the Government, along with the views of all major ex-service organisations, during the Budget deliberations each year.
  2. The cost of increasing the Intermediate Rate Pension to 75 per cent of the current minimum wage would be $ 1.97m for a full year. To maintain the Intermediate Rate Pension at that level would cost $0.07m for a full year for each $ 1 increase in the minimum wage.

The current minimum wage is $120.10 per week and the current Intermediate Rate Pension is $70. 1 5 per week.

The Intermediate Rate Pension is therefore 58 per cent of the minimum wage. The Intermediate Rate Pension is not taxable, however, and Intermediate Rate pensioners are also entitled to full free medical and hospital treatment and many other benefits.

Intermediate Rate Pensions are paid to persons who because of their service-related incapacity, are capable of working only part-time or intermittently. An Intermediate Rate pensioner could therefore be expected to earn about 25 per cent of the minimum wage giving him an average weekly income of $ 100. 1 7 which is not subject to tax. The minimum wage earner earns $ 103.00 per week, after tax. Effectively, therefore, the Intermediate Rate pension could be only $2.83 per week below 75 per cent of the minimum wage.

Repatriation Benefits (Question No. 2960)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1978:

  1. 1 ) Has the Government received a request from the Australian Services Council that the general rate pension be made not less than 50 per cent of the minimum wage and maintained at that level.
  2. ) If so, what would be the cost of this proposal.
Mr Adermann:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) No specific request has been received on this matter but I am aware that it forms part of the Australian Veterans and Defence Services Council’s Repatriation and Resettlement policy. This policy is considered by the Government, along with the views of all major ex-service organisations, during the Budget deliberations each year.
  2. The cost of increasing the General Rate Pension to 50 per cent of the current minimum wage would be $79.3m for a full year. The cost of maintaining the General Rate Pension at that level would be $ 1 .84m for a full year for each $ 1 increase in the minimum wage.

In answering these questions it should be borne in mind that the Government decision of 1977 to index the General Rate and other key pensions has resulted in an automatic increase in the level of the General Rate pensions under legislation for the first time in the half century history of this particular rate. There has been a substantial growth in the cost of providing benefits for veterans. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs will spend $ 1,200m this year in the provision of services and benefits to veterans and their dependants, an increase of approximately 8 per cent over last year. Comparable expenditure in 1950 was $126m, 1960 $2 72m, and 1970 $40 lm. In the light of these figures, the Government feels it is honouring its promise to take care of those who have suffered disabilities which are related to their service.

Repatriation Benefits (Question No. 2961)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1978:

  1. 1 ) Has the Government received a request from the Australian Services Council that the special rate pension be made not less than the Federal minimum wage, and maintained at that level.
  2. If so, what would be the cost of this proposal.
Mr Adermann:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) No specific request has been received on this matter but I am aware that it forms pan of the Australian Veterans and Defence Services Council’s Repatriation and Resettlement policy. This policy is considered by the Government, along with the views of all major ex-service organisations, during the Budget deliberations each year.

The Special Rate Disability Pension should be viewed as pan only of the Repatriation benefits available to a veteran so entitled. Other benefits include free medical and hospital treatment (including optical and dental services), and in many cases allowances to cover recreational transport, provision of attendants, clothing allowance and tax free motor cars. A Special Rate pensioner may also be eligible to receive an income-tested Service Pension.

A single Special Rate pensioner in receipt also of a Service Pension may receive a total pension of $ 1 39.63 per week. Because his eligibility is free of tax his income is equivalent to a taxable income of $176.38. A Special Rate pensioner with limited income can receive an amount which is effectively $56.28 per week more than the current minimum wage of $120.10.

  1. The cost of increasing the Special Rate Pension to the level of the current minimum wage would be $ 14.91m for a full year. To maintain the Special Rate Pension at the level of the minimum wage would cost $0.82m for a full year for each $ 1 increase in the minimum wage.

Repatriation Benefits (Question No. 2963)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1978:

  1. 1 ) Has the Government received a request from the Australian Services Council that dependants’ allowances be increased and maintained at their highest previous relativity to the 100 per cent pension.
  2. If so, what would be the estimated cost of this proposal.
Mr Adermann:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) No specific request has been received on this matter but I am aware that it forms part of the Australian Veterans and Defence Services Council’s Repatriation and Resettlement policy. This policy is considered by the Government, along with the views of all major ex-service organisations, during the Budget deliberations each year.

The philosophy of dependants’ allowances had its origins in the First War situation when the families of serving personnel received allotments to ensure that the wives and children left at home received financial support. Dependants’ allowance has not been increased for some time because successive Governments have concentrated available finance on maximising benefits to the veterans themselves or the dependants of deceased veterans. In this way, the family as a unit receives the benefit of increased pensions and allowances and the primary purpose of Repatriation pensions as compensation for disabilities related to service is achieved.

  1. The highest relativity of the dependant’s allowance to the 100 per cent General Rate Pension was SO per cent for wives and 25 per cent for children.

The cost of increasing the dependant’s allowance to this relativity with the current 100 per cent would be $74.69m for a full year. To maintain the dependant’s allowance at this relativity would cost $2.44m for a full year for each $1 per week increase in the 100 per cent General Rate pension.

Repatriation Benefits (Question No. 2964)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1978:

  1. Has the Government received a request from the Australian Services Council that repatriation fringe benefits be maintained and eligibility be indexed by reference to the Consumer Price Index.
  2. If so, what would be the estimated cost of this proposal.
Mr Adermann:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) No specific request has been received on this matter but I am aware that it forms part of the Australian Veterans and Defence Services Council’s Repatriation and Resettlement policy. This policy is considered by the Government, along with the views of all major ex-service organisations, during the Budget deliberations each year.
  2. It is not possible to estimate the cost to Commonwealth, State and Local Governments, of indexing eligibility for fringe benefits.

Expenditure by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs would increase by approximately $0.89m per year if the allowed income were increased by 5 per cent and $ 1.59m per year if the allowed income were increased by 10 per cent.

Additional costs to the Commonwealth would arise due to an estimated 740 wives of veteran service pensioners becoming eligible for Pensioner Health Benefits through the Department of Health if the allowed income were increased by 5 per cent. This number would rise to an estimated 1,200 if the allowed income were increased by 10 per cent.

In addition to these costs to the Commonwealth there would also be certain additional costs to State and some Local Governments because of increased numbers eligible for transport concessions, rate rebates and similar benefits granted by those Governments.

Repatriation Benefits (Question No. 2965)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1 978:

  1. 1 ) Has the Government received a request from the Australian Services Council that the means test be abolished as far as it affects war compensation, including the service pension.
  2. If so, what would be the estimated cost of this proposal.
Mr Adermann:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) No specific request on this matter has been received but I am aware that it forms pan of the Australian Veterans and Defence Services Council’s Repatriation and Resettlement policy. This policy is considered by the Government, along with the views of all major ex-service organisations, during the Budget deliberations each year.
  2. Disability pensions paid by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs are not subject to an income test.

The cost of abolition of the income test on all current Service Pensions paid by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs would be $48.8m in a full year.

It is not possible to provide an accurate estimate in respect of future claims because of unknowns in terms of numbers and income levels. I refer to my answer to pan 2 of Question 2972 in which it is indicated that to remove the income test five years earlier would cost in excess of $50m per annum. This proposal would cost considerably in excess of that amount.

Repatriation Benefits (Question No. 2967)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1 978: ( ) Has the Government received a request from the Australian Services Council that his department make arrangements to pay pensions fortnightly into bank accounts, including savings bank accounts, of aged and infirm pensioners, when requested to do so.

  1. If so, what would be the estimated cost of this proposal.
Mr Adermann:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) No specific request has been received on this matter but I am aware that it forms pan of the Australian Veterans and Defence Services Council’s Repatriation and Resettlement policy. This policy is considered by the Government, along with the views of all major ex-service organisations, during the Budget deliberations each year.
  2. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs currently makes over 500,000 pension payments under two arrangements. A cheque may be posted, in which case payment is made fortnightly in advance. The alternative is to have the pension paid directly into a savings or trading bank account, in which case payment is made 12 weeks in arrears.

The proposal to pay pensions into bank accounts fortnightly has been considered on a number of occasions. It would involve considerable administrative re-arrangement and the additional cost would be over $500,000 per annum, being the fee that would have to be paid by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to a bank in respect of each deposit to a savings account. No fee is payable under the current 12- weekly system.

Repatriation Tribunals (Question No. 2968)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1978:

  1. 1 ) Has the Government received a request from the Australian Services Council that the Repatriation Boards, Commissions and Tribunals give reasons for refusing applications, where this is not already done.
  2. If so, what would be the cost of this proposal.
Mr Adermann:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1) No specific request has been received on this matter but I am aware that it forms pan of the Australian Veterans and Defence Services Council’s Repatriation and Resettlement policy. This policy is considered by the Government, along with the views of all major ex-service organisations, during the Budget deliberations each year.

The Repatriation Commission, Appeals Tribunals and Repatriation Boards currently provide reasons for decisions where claims for entitlement to Repatriation benefits are not successful. Arrangements are in hand to ensure that, in future, reasons will continue to be given in these cases as well as on matters of actual pension assessment.

  1. The current direct costs of giving reasons for decisions in entitlement matters are estimated to be $200,000 a year.

Repatriation (Question No. 2969)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1978:

  1. 1 ) Has the Government received a request from the Australian Services Council that automatic acceptance be given for repatriation purposes for cancer, heart disease and mental conditions similar to that formerly given for tuberculosis.
  2. If so, what would be the estimated cost of this proposal.
Mr Adermann:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) No specific request has been received on this matter but I am aware that it forms pan of the Australian Veterans and Defence Services Council’s Repatriation and Resettlement policy. This policy is considered by the Government, along with the views of all major ex-service organisations, during the Budget deliberations each year.
  2. It is not possible to estimate the cost of such a proposal. There is no way of assessing the number of veterans suffering from these conditions nor the degree of any impairment and consequent pension that would be payable.

In 1 973 the policy was introduced to extend free treatment for cancer to veterans who served in a theatre of war. This policy was extended in 1 974 to cover all veterans suffering from cancer. Currently there are an estimated 2, 1 SO veterans eligible for treatment solely under this provision.

Defence Service Homes (Question No. 2970)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1978.

  1. 1 ) Has the Government received a request from the Australian Services Council that personnel having Defence Service Homes dwellings be permitted to transfer their loan to a replacement dwelling.
  2. If so, what would be the estimated cost of this proposal.
Mr Adermann:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) No specific request has been received on this matter but I am aware that it forms pan of the Australian Veterans and Defence Services Council’s Repatriation and Resettlement policy. This policy is considered by the Government, along with the views of all major ex-service organisations, during the Budget deliberations each year.
  2. Under the present financial operating arrangements a substantial proportion of the funds available for lending under the Defence Service Homes Scheme is derived from the repayment, in pan or in full, of loans previously granted. If borrowers were permitted to transfer their outstanding loans to another home, instead of repaying the liability to the Corporation when the first property is sold, there would be a significant reduction in the moneys available for relending. It is not possible to estimate accurately the number of persons who might take advantage of such a proposal but an indication of the extent of the additional funds required to be appropriated may be gauged from the fact that in 1977-78 approximately $42m was received from borrowers who fully discharged their liability.

Defence Service Homes (Question No. 2971)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1 978:

  1. 1 ) Has the Government received a request from the Australian Services Council that Defence Service loans be made available to purchasers of flats, home units and town houses in all States.
  2. If so, what would be the estimated cost of this proposal.
Mr Adermann:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) and (2) Defence Service Homes loans have been made available for the purchase of flats, home units and town houses in all States since 1968.

Repatriation Benefits (Question No. 2972)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1978:

  1. 1 ) Has the Government received a request from the Australian Services Council that the means test for Defence Service Pensioners be progressively eliminated at an age 5 years less than that at which it is eliminated for age pensioners.
  2. If so, what would be the estimated cost of this proposal.
Mr Adermann:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) No specific request has been received on this matter but I am aware that it forms pan of the Australian Veterans and Defence Services Council’s Repatriation and Resettlement policy. This policy is considered by the Government, along with the views of all major ex-service organisations, during the Budget deliberations each year.

The Service Pension is intended to compensate for the indefinable and intangible effects of war service, it is payable under similar conditions to the Social Security Age Pension but is available five years earlier, at age 60 for a male and at age 55 for a female veteran.

  1. The estimated annual cost of eliminating the Income Test on service pensioners at the age of 65 is 511. 19m for existing service pensioners.

The additional cost in relation to new service pensioners who would then become eligible is difficult to estimate but would be in excess of $50m per annum if all those becoming eligible took up the Service Pension.

Defence Service Homes (Question No. 2973)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Veterans ‘ Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1978:

  1. 1 ) Has the Government received a request from the Australian Services Council that the Defence Service Homes Act and/or other relevant legislation be amended to widen the eligibility for a Defence Service home to all ex-servicewomen.
  2. If so, what would be the estimated cost of this proposal.
Mr Adermann:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. No specific request has been received on this matter but I am aware that it forms part of the Australian Veterans and Defence Services Council’s Repatriation and Resettlement policy. This policy is considered by the Government, along with the views of all major ex-service organisations, during the Budget deliberations each year.
  2. There were approximately 60,000 members of the wartime Women’s Services who did not qualify for Defence Service Homes benefits. It is not practicable to estimate with confidence the cost of offering loans to women in that category, but it is pointed out that $15m would be required, at the current level of the maximum loan, to “satisfy each 1,000 applicants.

Defence Service Homes (Question No. 2981)

Dr Everingham:

asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 23 November 1978:

  1. Do loan repayments now exceed loans for Defence Service Homes.
  2. If so, will the Government consider widening the qualifications for borrowers to include, progressively, TPI and other categories of pensioners who have mortgage commitments including, in some cases, a second or later home.
Mr Adermann:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. No. In 1978-79 principal repayment receipts will be supplemented by a budget appropriation of $ 10m in order to meet the approved lending program of $78. 8m.
  2. See answer to (1).

Asbestos (Question No. 2999)

Mr Kerin:

asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 23 November 1978:

  1. How many ex-servicemen are affected by asbestos induced diseases.
  2. What is the cost to public authorities of these cases.
  3. Is there any particular evidence of former Navy personnel being more affected than other servicemen and servicewomen.
Mr Adermann:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) It is not possible to identify asbestos induced diseases, other than asbestosis, from Departmental records. Departmental records indicate that 13 veterans have been affected by asbestosis; seven are alive and six have died.
  2. In three cases asbestosis has been found to be due to war service. One of these veterans is still alive. The cost of Repatriation pensions (including war /defence widows’ pensions), in respect of these three cases, is approximately $9,500 per year. The estimated cost of medical treatment provided in respect of these cases is $ 1 ,700 per year.
  3. Of the three veterans whose asbestosis was attributed to service, two are former Naval personnel. None of the other veterans who were identified as asbestosis sufferers :re former Naval personnel.

Uranium (Question No. 3062)

Mr Uren:

asked the Minister for Trade and Resources, upon notice, on 24 November 1978:

Does he affirm his statement of 25 August 1977, that the Government will always be in a position to move immediately to terminate uranium development, permanently, indefinitely or for a special period as recommended by the Ranger Inquiry; if so, will he outline the mechanism whereby the Government could immediately terminate uranium development for an indefinite period.

Mr Anthony:
Deputy Prime Minister · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · NCP/NP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

See my statement to Parliament on uranium export policy of 1 June 1978.

Nuclear Safeguards (Question No. 3063)

Mr Uren:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 24 November 1 978:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to a report of the International Atomic Energy Agency entitled ‘Special Safeguards Implementation Report’.
  2. If so, has this report been made public by the IAEA or any member government: if not, is he able to give the reason.
  3. Will lie make the report public: if not, why not.
  4. Is it a fact that the report indicates that a country’s agreement to subject its nuclear activities to IAEA safeguards does not necessarily assure that adequate material control and accounting measures are applied in all cases: if so, what measures has the IAEA taken to rectify these deficiencies in IAEA safeguards.
  5. Is it a fact that the report highlighted deficiencies in a number of countries, which were not identified, in the implementation of IAEA safeguards.
  6. Has Australia concluded a bilateral safeguards agreement or commenced negotiating such an agreement with any of these countries.
Mr Peacock:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Yes.
  2. Not to my knowledge. The report is a document based on information supplied on a confidential basis to that organisation. The report is restricted to member Governments. The IAEA’s maintenance of confidentiality of such information arises from its desire to maintain mutual confidence among nations in its operations. The IAEA’s practice of confidentiality in such matters is of long-standing and has not been contested by successive Australian Governments.
  3. As stated in answer to (2) above it would be a matter for the IAEA to make the report public.
  4. , (5) and (6) See answer to (2) and (3) above.

Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme (Question No. 3075)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 24 November 1978:

  1. Is his Department investigating allegations that the Bass freight equalisation scheme is being misused as referred to in an article entitled ‘Equalisation Pirating’ appearing in the Daily Commercial News o( 6 October 1978.
  2. ) If so, what is the nature of the allegations.
  3. When does he expect the investigation will be completed.
  4. Who first made the allegations.
  5. Will he report to the Parliament on the result of the investigations.
Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Yes.
  2. No written statement of allegations has been presented to my Department. However the Department is aware of allegations that Tasmanian produced apples, shipped to the mainland and the subject of assistance under the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme, are subsequently being exported. The Scheme’s guidelines provide that assistance is not payable on cargoes destined for export from Australia.
  3. Investigations into allegations have been completed. The allegations could not be substantiated.
  4. Tasmanian Apple and Pear Marketing Authority.
  5. The allegations highlighted a possible means of abuse of the Scheme.

It is clear that the amount of $ 100,000 quoted in the article referred to by the honourable member is many times the maximum amount involved, and while not wishing to understate my concern, the amount of assistance which may actually have been involved in the alleged malpractice is minimal compared with the total of $2Sm of freight assistance to be provided this year.

My Department, in conjunction with the appropriate authorities, has made arrangements to overcome the administrative difficulties highlighted by its investigation of the allegations and will be keeping the situation under review.

Air Safety (Question No. 3079)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 24 November 1978:

  1. 1 ) Did a near miss involving Qantas and Pan American aircraft occur within a short distance of Sydney Airport on Friday, 21 July 1978; if so, did his Department undertake an investigation of the incident.
  2. Has the investigation been completed.
  3. If so, what were the results of the investigation.
  4. Is it the official policy to suppress reports of these potential disasters.
  5. How many other reports of near misses involving (a) airline aircraft exclusively, (b) general aviation aircraft exclusively and (c) airline and general aviation aircraft have been recorded by his Department during each of the last five years.
  6. How many of these have occurred within the (a) Sydney, (b) Darwin, (c) Port Hedland and (d) Perth flight information regions.
Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) An air safety incident involving a Qantas and a Pan American aircraft occurred some 260 kilometres east of

Sydney Airport on 21 July 1978. The incident was investigated by the Air Safety Investigation Branch of my Department

  1. Yes.
  2. The investigation revealed that, following an air traffic control co-ordination breakdown, the Qantas aircraft was given a clearance to descend through the level occupied by the Panam aircraft. The crew of the Qantas aircraft observed the Panam aircraft, which was flying in the opposite direction, and did not act on the clearance until the two aircraft had passed. There was no loss of separation between the aircraft.
  3. No.
  4. The term ‘near miss’ is not precisely defined internationally. Reports of such occurrences however, would be embraced in the air safety incident reporting system conducted by my Department. An air safety incident may simply be defined as an occurrence in which the safety of an aircraft has been or could have been compromised. It is the practice to interpret this definition fairly broadly and, apart from the legal requirement to report incidents, pilots and other operational personnel are encouraged by my Department to submit air safety incident reports concerning any circumstances affecting the operation of aircraft which the originator believes to be undesirable or hazardous. Judgment of what is undesirable or hazardous is, of course, subjective in many cases. Accordingly, records are maintained of air safety incident reports in which an infringement of prescribed separation standards has been reported to have occurred without differentiation between those occurrences in which aircraft were in close proximity and those in which the separation reduction was relatively minor. The following figures have been extracted from those records and refer to all incidents in respect of which it was reported that there was an infringement of separation standards.

    1. 1974-12; 1975-5; 1976-5; 1977-4; 1978-10 (provisional).
    2. 1974-53; 1975-50; 1976-50; 1977-38; 1978-90 (provisional).
    3. 1974-17; 1975-12; 1976-12; 1977-11; 1978-23 (provisional).
  5. (a)154;(b)44;(c) 8; (d)28.

Hansard Index (Question No. 3085)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 24 November 1978:

  1. 1 ) Does his Department or any agency under his control prepare an index of Hansard.
  2. What is the form of each index.
  3. 3 ) How recent is each index.
  4. To what persons, departments or agencies are the indices made available.
Mr Sinclair:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

My Department does not prepare an index of Hansard.

Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations (Question No. 3114)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 24 November 1978:

  1. Can he say whether notice of the Annual General Meeting of the Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations was called by the Executive Director, Mr Allan McCann, in breach of section 39 of the constitution of that organisation, as amended to April 1978, and therefore casts doubts on the legality of the existing Executive Committee ‘s functions.
  2. What assistance was given by the Australian Government to delegates to the International Organisation of Consumer Unions Conference in London in 1 978.
  3. What form did the assistance take, who received assistance and in what capacity were they given assistance by the Government.
  4. What Government assistance has the Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations received in the last 2 years.
  5. Can he supply the membership details of the Federation and of each affiliate body.
  6. Is the supply of details of membership within affiliate bodies a condition of the Government’s consideration of financial assistance to the Federation; if so, what details are required.
  7. Is he also able to say whether the bulk of the Federation’s membership is derived from the Australian Consumers Association.
Mr Fife:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. No. I am informed that the meeting was called by Mr Allan McCann as an approved delegate of the Secretary/ Treasurer of the Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations in accordance with sections 39 and 45 (b) of the Constitution of that organisation, as amended to April 1 978.
  2. and (3) Assistance was provided to the Chairman of the National Consumers Affairs Advisory Council, Professor D. J. Harland to participate in the 9th World Congress of the International Organisation of Consumer Unions held in London, July 1978. Assistance took the form of payment of travel, accommodation and incidental expenses.
  3. In each of the financial years 1977-78 and 1978-79 the Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations has received a Commonwealth Grant-in-Aid of $85,000.
  4. (a) The members of the Federation are consumer organisations, and they currently number 53. These names are:

Australian Capital Territory- Canberra Consumer Incorporated; Citroen Association of Canberra; Consumer Affairs Council of the Australian Capital Territory; Dietetic Association, ACT Inc.; Health Care Consumers Association of ACT; The Australian Association of Dietitians; The Co-operative Federation of Australia.

New South Wales- Association for Consumer Education; Australian Consumers’ Association; Campaign Against Rising Prices; Country Women’s Association of New South Wales; The Home Economics Association of New South Wales; Union of Australian Women.

Northern Territory- The Northern Territory Consumers Protection Group.

Queensland- Central Queensland Consumers’ Association; Consumer Affairs Council of Queensland; Darling Downs Homemakers’ Association; National Council of Women of Queensland, Townsville Regional Branch; North Queensland Consumers’ Association; Organisation of Queensland Consumers; Queensland Consumers’ Association Rockhampton; Queensland Country Women’s Association; South Queensland Consumers’ Association; The Dietetic Association of Queensland.

South Australia- Consumers’ Association of South Australia; Country Women’s Association of Australia; Hyperactivity Association of SA Inc.; National Council of Women of Australia; The South Australian Country Women’s Association; The Dietetic Association of SA.

Tasmania- Country Women’s Association in Tasmania; National Council of Women of Tasmania; Northern Regional Consumer Group; The Hobart Consumers Group Limited.

Victoria- Australian Telecom Employees’ Credit Cooperative Limited; Consumer Education Centre; Consumers’ Association of Victoria; Credit Consumers’ Network; Gippsland Regional Consumers Association; Home Economics Association of Victoria; The Country Women’s Association of Victoria; The Tenants Union of Victoria; The Dietetic Association, Victoria; Victorian Commercial Teachers Association; Western Region Consumers ‘ Association.

Western Australia- Citizens Advice Bureau of WA Inc.; Consumers’ Association of Western Australia; Consumer Action Movement; Home Economics Association of Western Australia; The Country Women’s Association of Western Australia (Inc); The Home Economics Association of Australia; The Western Australian Dietetic Association; WA Housewives’ Association (Inc).

  1. Membership details of affiliate bodies are not available.

    1. No.
    2. The Australian Consumer Association is but one of the 53 member organisations of the Federation.

Queensland Cement and Lime Company (Question No. 3125)

Dr Everingham:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 24 November 1978:

  1. 1 ) Has Mr A. E. Lucke informed the Trade Practices Commission of possible breaches of section 50 take over and merger provisions of the Trade Practices Act by Queensland Cement and Lime Co., in purchase of shares in the north Australian Cement Co.
  2. If so, what action has been taken to investigate and remedy these alleged breaches.
  3. Can he say whether that agreement provides for a monopoly of State contracts for the Company for 10 years contrary to normal practice.
  4. Can he also say whether some $18. 4m of Queensland’s State Government Insurance money at housing loan rates has been allocated for this venture at Government direction.
Mr Fife:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) and ( 2 ) I have been informed that Mr Lucke wrote to the Trade Practices Commission suggesting that the acquisition by the Queensland Cement and Lime Co. Ltd, (the company) of shares in North Australia Cement Ltd, was in breach of section 50, the mergers and takeovers provisions of the Trade Practices Act. Mr Lucke was subsequently informed by the Commission that the matter had been considered and that no action would be taken.
  2. I have no knowledge of an agreement of the sort referred to.
  3. No.

Pharmaceutical Prescription Forms (Question No. 3130)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 20 February 1979:

Is his Department looking into the introduction of a system of prescription forms with serialised numbers and distinctive colours to prevent forgeries; if so, when will a decision be made.

Mr Hunt:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Legislation and controls over the prescribing of restricted substances is a State Government responsibility. However the Commonwealth has been concerned for some time about the increasing incidence of forged prescriptions for drugs of addiction. The National Standing Control Committee on Drugs of Dependence, comprising senior Federal and State health and law enforcement officers, is currently directing its attention to this matter. I understand that at the next meeting of this Committee in March or April 1 979, it will be considering reports on the progress of two pilot studies being conducted by the West Australian and Tasmanian Health Departments into the use of special serially numbered prescription forms for drugs of addiction or Schedule 8 drugs. The forms being used in the trials were supplied by my Department..

West Gate Bridge, Melbourne (Question No. 3140)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 20 February 1979:

  1. 1 ) Have Commonwealth vehicle drivers been instructed not to use the new West Gate Bridge unless they or their passengers pay toll charges without the right of refund.
  2. If so, do similar arrangements apply in relation to the Sydney Harbour Bridge toll charges.
Mr McLeay:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Commonwealth car pool drivers of the Central Transport Authority operated by my Department use the West Gate Bridge when it is economic to do so. At present, pending examination of the Commonwealth’s position, tolls are paid by the drivers and reimbursed from petty cash.
  2. Commonwealth drivers do not pay tolls on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 February 1979, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.