31st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of electors of the State of New South Wales respectfully showeth:
That compensation benefits payable to injured Australian Government employees and Defence Forces personnel under the Compensation ( Commonwealth Government Employees) Act 1971 should be increased as a matter of urgency in view of the financial plight of recipients, particularly those suffering long term incapacity and because of the significant increase in the cost of living which has occurred since compensation payments were last adjusted; and
That statutory provision should be made for the automatic adjustment of compensation benefits.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Armitage, Mr John Brown, Mr FitzPatrick, Mr Keating, Mr Kerin, Dr Klugman, Mr Les McMahon, Mr Martin, Mr Morris, Mr Stewart, Mr Uren and Mr West.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of electors of the State of Western Australia respectfully showeth:
That compensation benefits payable to injured Australian Government employees and Defence Forces personnel under the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees ) Act 1971 should be increased as a matter of urgency in view of the financial plight of recipients, particularly those suffering long term incapacity and because of the significant increase in the cost of living which has occurred since compensation payments were last adjusted; and
That statutory provision should be made for the automatic adjustment of compensation benefits.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrDawkins.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of electors of the State of Queensland respectfully showeth:
That compensation benefits payable to injured Australian Government employees and Defence Forces personnel under the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act 1 97 1 should be increased as a matter of urgency in view of the financial plight of recipients, particularly those suffering long term incapacity and because of the significant increase in the cost of living which has occurred since compensation payments were last adjusted; and
That statutory provision should be made for the automatic adjustment of compensation benefits.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Humphreys.
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 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 Mr John Brown, Mr Cadman, Mr Cotter, Mr Dobie, Dr Edwards, Mr Hunt, Mr Lusher, Mr MacKellar, Mr Martin, Mr Ruddock and Mr Yates.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of 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 the 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 expectations and make a mockery of a solemn election pledge.
Accordingly, your petitioners call upon their legislators to:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Lionel Bowen, Mr Gillard, Mr Martin, Mr Neil, Mr Sainsbury and Mr Scholes.
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:
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 Dobie and Mr Martyr.
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: to remove items from the standard medical benefits table which currently permit medical benefits for abortion’ and to cease the funding of medical benefits schemes through which claims for termination of pregnancies can be made ‘.
Your petitioners humbly pray that you support: a woman ‘s right to choose abortion as a claimable item under all health benefits schemes.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Hunt and MrUren.
To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
We citizens of the Commonwealth, employed in the small business sector of the oil industry, earnestly request our government to implement, as quickly as possible, the package of measures as announced by the government on 31st October, 1978 designed to ensure that many thousands of Australia’s small businessmen and their employees be retained in the retail oil industry.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Connolly.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Honourable Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. This petition of citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your honourable House will take urgent steps to concur with the wishes of a majority of electors at every polling booth in Australia at the 1967 referendum by resumption from the States of the major traditional Aboriginal land areas and reserves and former reserves as at 3 1 .3.78, to become federal Crown land pending prompt determination of freehold tide for Land Trust and eventually for defined community co-operatives.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Dr Everingham.
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:
Your petitioners therefore pray that the Minister will maintain all existing services.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrWallis.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned electors in the Division of Grey respectively showeth that:
Your petitioners pray that your Honourable House will urge the Government through the Minister of Social Security to immediately allocate funds for the provision of Nursing Home accommodation on Lower Eyre Peninsula, namely the Matthew Flinders Nursing Home, Port Lincoln, South Australia.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrWallis.
-I refer the Prime Minister to his letter of request to the former Governor-General on 26 October 1977 in which he sought a dissolution of the House of Representatives and a simultaneous election for half the Senate. In particular, I refer him to his statement in that letter that the election was justified because 62 per cent of the Australian electorate had approved of simultaneous elections in the May 1977 referendum. Will the Prime Minister now give an assurance that he will apply the same principles when seeking a date for the next election?
-A number of matters were raised in that letter, part of which the honourable gentleman has quoted. The whole letter is available to him and obviously to all honourable gentlemen because it has been tabled in the House. I really do not want to assist the honourable gentleman in speculating about the future.
– My question is directed to the Acting Treasurer and concerns capital gains taxes. Can the Acting Treasurer confirm that in the 1974-75 Budget the then Treasurer stated that a capital gains tax would be introduced? Did the then Prime Minister, within five months, say that, because of the effects on economic growth, inflation and unemployment, the idea had been abandoned? Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a recent article under the heading ‘Hayden’s Useless Tax Tool’-
Honourable members laughing-
– I can assure the House that there is no cause for laughter. I am not laughing at the man. This article was written by Mr P. P. McGuinness who was economic adviser to the former Government. It states that the Opposition was returning to old egalitarian slogans. I agree with that. If this is the situation, will the Treasurer permit Treasury economists to discuss the matter with the Leader of the Opposition in order to help him understand the problem? I offer this suggestion with malice towards none. I do so only to assist the poor brute to understand what is involved.
– I ask the right honourable gentleman to withdraw the last comment.
- Mr Speaker, will you give me time to think about this?
-No. I ask the right honourable member to withdraw the description of the Leader of the Opposition in the last part of his question.
– I certainly will, but I remind you that the Right Honourable R. G. Menzies as Prime Minister sometimes used that phrase.
-The House will come to order. I ask the right honourable gentleman to withdraw his comment.
– I do so, sir.
-I knew when the Labor Government was in office that there had been a suggestion that a capital gains tax should be introduced. I must admit that I do not remember the details of the matter, but I am aware that the then Treasurer recommended it and that the then Prime Minister avoided it and regarded it as unacceptable to the Labor Government only five weeks later. I do not question the details which the right honourable member for Lowe has given to me. I was not personally aware of them. I have read the article written by Mr McGuinness on capital gains tax. If it will help the Leader of the Opposition, the normal courtesy can be provided to him and the Treasury officials will be made available to him if he wishes to be briefed on the matter. I do not think that the Leader of the Opposition needs that briefing because he must surely know that a capital gains tax would simply strike at the initiative and the enterprise that has built this country. Whilst the Leader of the Opposition may be inconsistent in his deliberations upon the economy, he is at least consistent in regard to his role as a tax gatherer, because in the three years of the Labor Government’s administration taxes increased by about 100 per cent, and we now have a proposal for capital gains tax and a resource tax. All Labor Opposition members want to do is to get back into government again and to prove once again that they are great and outstanding tax gatherers. They will not be given that opportunity.
– I would like to ask a supplementary question of the Acting Treasurer. Does the Minister’s indignant opposition to the fundamental principle of capital gains tax mean that we can expect an early announcement of the repeal of section 26D, section 26A and section 26AAA of the Income Tax Assessment Act, each of which provides for taxation of capital gains over the short term or of profits from certain property sales and of the capitalisation of any allowance, gratuity or compensation payment? If not, will he explain why he and his colleagues are so inconsistent, if not hypocritical, in this matter?
– The Leader of the Opposition well knows that the content of those sections in the Income Tax Assessment Act is quite different from the overall policy which he espoused with regard to a capital gains tax and which will affect such a great percentage of the Australian community. I remind the Leader of the Opposition -
Honourable members interjecting-
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition asked a question. The Minister is entitled to answer it in silence. I ask all honourable gentlemen to remain silent, especially those on my left.
-It is not acceptable to me that the Leader of the Opposition will try to draw a comparison between the possible consideration of sections of the Income Tax Assessment Act and the overall policy on increased taxes and on new taxes which he has espoused. As to the sections mentioned, if I remember correctly the Treasurer went on record a week or so ago to say that the matter was under review. I think the words he used were to the effect that those comments should not be taken as ritualistic.
– Will the Prime Minister tell the House what this Government’s attitude is towards taxation and the proper size of government?
-This Government, like most Australians, believes in lower taxes and smaller and more effective government. Over three years we have done a great deal to put that philosophy and that approach into effect. We have cut taxes very significantly. We have fixed staff ceilings in the Public Service in a way that has not occurred before in the government of Australia. It is worth noting that State governments- Labor, Liberal and the rest- have followed our practice in restraining the growth of their public services and in establishing staff ceilings in their public services- although having in mind the extent of the increases in the State public services some of them could have established staff ceilings a good deal earlier. We have worked also, as honourable gentlemen would know, to reduce the deficit and have ended extravagance in government spending, although I readily concede-
– Except for yourself.
– . . . that that is something that wants watching closely and continuously.
– Aeroplanes to go and see your sister for $160,000.
-Order! The right honourable gentleman will resume his seat. The honourable member for Port Adelaide will cease interjecting. I had occasion to warn him on Tuesday and on Wednesday. I warn him again today for a final time. I call the Prime Minister.
-Mr Speaker, the honourable gentleman gets a little tired at the end of the week.
-I ask the right honourable gentleman not to refer to my notice to the honourable member for Port Adelaide.
– I think that all honourable gentlemen will know that our philosophy is one of lower taxes and smaller government, but the Leader of the Opposition sees this as a deeply dispiriting doctrine. The Leader of the Opposition admits that-
- Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. Will the Prime Minister table the document from which he is reading and stop boring the House by reading from a prepared statement in response to a Dorothy Dix question?
-Order! The honourable gentleman will cease commenting. If the honourable gentleman, by way of point of order, is calling for the tabling of the document, he is entitled to do so. I ask the Prime Minister whether he is reading from a document and, if so, whether it is a confidential document.
-Mr Speaker, it is notes.
-There is no point of order. The right honourable gentleman will proceed.
-The Leader of the Opposition sees this as a deeply dispiriting document because quite plainly he wants more taxes, increased spending and bigger government. The Leader of the Opposition admits that he takes the socialist view that big government is the only way of obtaining equality, the only way of obtaining equity. Quite plainly in his view- it is the socialist view- one does not have policies that create wealth within a society and therefore lead to a better life for all Australians; one has policies that cut down, that redistribute, that destroy growth, that destroy initiative, as was referred to a moment ago by my colleague, the Minister for Finance. The editorial in today’s Australian Financial Review points out that Mr Hayden has opted for the conventional orthodoxy. The editorial states:
It is not the most charitable interpretation to suggest that Mr Hayden is motivated by his own simple domestic political considerations, but it is the most plausible.
Could I suggest- and I do not think that I have done so before against a notable national journal- that in that description of the Leader of the Opposition’s motivation, the newspaper has in fact been most unfair to the Leader of the Opposition? I think it has always been clear to people on this side of the House and to most Australians that the Leader of the Opposition has always been committed to the Labor Party dogma of big government, to massive bureaucracies, to centralism and to higher and ever higher taxes. On this occasion I think the Leader of the Opposition, if he were to claim that he had been misrepresented by that editorial, might well be justified because I do accept the genuineness of the Leader of the Opposition’s commitment to those policies. I do not think it is only because he is bound by the doctrines of an outdated party.
-I ask the Prime Minister a question which is supplementary to the answer that he has just given. In view of his claim that his Government is a small tax government, will he explain to the House, and indeed the nation, how it arises that for each of the fiscal years 1976, 1977 and 1978, Commonwealth Budget sector receipts were respectively 25.9 per cent of gross domestic product, 26 per cent and 26.3 per cent, an average of 26.1 per cent, as against the average of 24.8 per cent for the three years of Labor Government? How does he explain that the level of Commonwealth Budget sector receipts in the three years of his Government has been the highest on record in the history of this country?
-The honourable gentleman has just read out a lot of figures. I will certainly have those figures checked and get him an answer in relation to that point; but the fact remains that taxes this year are $3,000m less than the Hayden tax scales. This is a very considerable tax reduction to all families and to all individual taxpayers; and quite plainly the honourable gentleman is not prepared to recognise that.
– I take a point of order.
– I call on the right honourable gentleman to resume his seat.
– The Prime Minister was asked a specific question which requires a relevant answer. He made the charge. Let him refute it, not go back to this spurious argument.
-There is no point of order.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the recent raid by South African forces into Angola and reports that the South West African People’s Organisation considers Western countries unacceptable as members of the United Nations Transitional Assistance Group. What effects will these developments have on the proposed contribution by Australia of an engineering unit to UNTAG?
-The House will be aware of reports of a raid by South African forces into Angola on 6 March. According to reports, the South African military authorities claimed that the raid was in response to SWAPO actions within Namibia and also a build-up of SWAPO forces in Angola on Namibia’s northern border. The Government regrets all such actions by both sides, as these can only delay the implementation of the United Nations plan. In the negotiations for the plan difficulties still remain on the question of the regroupment of SWAPO forces within Namibia and on the composition of UNTAG, as it is called.
The South African position is that all SWAPO regroupment centres should be in neighbouring countries, for example Angola and Zambia. SWAPO wants a number of centres, however, to be established within Namibia and the United Nations Secretary-General has been trying to devise a compromise arrangement, so far without success. The honourable member refers to the statements by SWAPO President Nujoma last week to the effect that Western countries, including Australia, would not be acceptable as members of UNTAG. This statement, of course, was at variance with all previous statements made by SWAPO leaders. It is being investigated, naturally, by the United Nations Secretariat. The UN force has to be a representative international force, and the Secretary-General will require assurances that the UN proposals on composition are accepted by SWAPO. Acceptance by SWAPO of the composition of UNTAG is particularly relevant to both the safety and security of Australian and other personnel deployed in Namibia. If this is not forthcoming, of course the plan cannot go ahead. However, it does appear that a very important meeting over the weekend between the front-line States and SWAPO has removed the objections that were voiced by Nujoma to Western countries contributing to the logistic side of UNTAG. When the Security Council will be able to meet to discuss final arrangements is not yet clear. After all, it does have many other matters before it at the present moment. It is hoped that the meeting will be as soon as possible. Mid-March was what we were working on but there may be some slippage in that regard.
Finally, the Australian offer to contribute an engineering unit, in response to the informal approaches that were made in New York, is contingent upon the final agreement emerging between the parties to the implementation of the UN plan, as indeed is the establishment of the force itself. We hope that the outstanding issues can be speedily removed, but given the difficult and sensitive nature of the settlement process, time for further negotiations on all points of difficulty will be required.
-Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the revised December retail figures which show that the increase was 2.7 per cent and not 4.4 per cent? Is it also true, as many people have suggested, that the small increase was due to major retailers panicking after a disasterous November and also having preChristmas sales?
– What did you get?
-I will give the Minister the figures later on if he likes.
-I ask honourable members on my right to remain silent while the question is being asked. The honourable member for Robertson will recommence his question.
-I thank the House for the commercial. Is it a fact that January was a further disaster for retailers with the result that retail figures for the last three months have barely kept up with inflation? As the Prime Minister has been trumpeting the retail boom will he please explain these recent figures to the House?
– The honourable member for Robertson ought to take a great deal of comfort in seeing that consumer confidence is starting to emerge right throughout the country again. With his background he ought to have enough understanding and knowledge of the retail industry and of developments and trends in the retail industry over the past few years. Quite clearly, the figures now are demonstrating that there is improved confidence within the Australian community. It is all very well- that is what the Opposition tends to do- to home in on a particular month and then to say: ‘Oh, look, is that not a dreadful month? Things are not going too well’. You should talk a little more to the business community instead of staying down here thinking up you funny little tax plans and what you are going to do. You should get out and talk to the Australian community.
-Order! The Minister will conform with the forms of the House and not speak in the second person but in the third person.
- Mr Speaker, through you I suggest to members of the Opposition that they start moving around the business community and they will reflect the growing feeling of confidence as a lot of other sections of the community are doing.
– Are there any other shopkeepers? I call the honourable member for Kennedy.
-Mr Speaker, does that indicate I am a shopkeeper? I direct my question to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. It is rumoured that the O-Ten television network is to be granted sole rights to telecast traditional cricket. Will the Minister give an assurance to the House and to the many thousands of people in non-metropolitan and particularly rural areas that any such arrangement will be approved only if O-Ten agrees to channel such broadcasts live through the rural Australian Broadcasting Commission network?
– I understand that the rumour which the honourable member has heard is not correct. I understand that the Australian Cricket
Board has written to both commercial television organisations and the ABC inviting bids for the future television coverage of traditional cricket. I understand that bids have been invited on either an exclusive or a non-exclusive basis and that they are expected in three or four weeks. In a general way, I believe that where major sporting telecasts are won by commercial organisations which cover only part of the country, it is important for the ABC to be able to secure rights to cover those parts of the country which are not covered by commercial organisations.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. In reference to the Redcliff petrochemical project in South Australia, is the Prime Minister aware of the great contribution such a project will make to the Australian balance of payments situation, stated to be in excess of $200m a year? Is he aware that the Redcliff project will use exclusively resources that are available in that area of South Australia for the production of caustic soda, ethylene dichloride, et cetera and will require no major imports? Is he also aware that failure of the Redcliff project to get the green light will result in a massive waste of Cooper Basin resources in a nation short of fossil fuels? Can he give the House an assurance that his Government will give every assistance necessary to enable the Redcliff project to proceed for the overall benefit of the nation?
-This Government has done everything it can do to assist the South Australian Government and, for that matter, Dow Chemical (Australia) Ltd to come to a decision in relation to the Redcliff project. The honourable gentleman will know that on a Western Australian initiative the Commonwealth supported the infrastructure financing proposals. They were processed through Commonwealth and State officials to the Loan Council for agreement as rapidly as it could be reached with the States. In addition to that, once the position was approved in principle we urged the States to bring their specific proposals to the Loan Council so that a decision could be made as quickly as possible. That was done. In the course of those discussions I indicated quite plainly to the South Australian Minister that it was important to try to reach a decision in relation to the Redcliff project urgently.
We all know of the problems in South Australian industry at present. The Redcliff proposal would have put some hope and some life into the future. It seems that other decisions have been made about petrochemical plants ahead of the
Redcliff project. Whether that will really prevent the principals in the Redcliff project going ahead I do not know. I think that is much more in the province of the South Australian Government and what South Australia might be able to do to encourage industry to go to that State. The Commonwealth has certainly done everything it can to help. It has stressed the urgency of getting decisions in relation to the Redcliff project. Our support for the infrastructure financing proposals was critical to providing the opportunity for the project to go ahead. I think it is unfortunate that some aspects of policy from the South Australian Government itself have tended to inhibit and discourage industry from going to South Australia. We know that as a result there is some doubt over the industrial future of that State. But those matters are within the hands of the South Australian Government itself.
There is one other area in which major development in the future could be of significant benefit to South Australia. There are very significant mineral deposits, as the honourable gentleman would know, at Roxby Downs. South Australia could put itself onto the options list for the future development of an enrichment plant in Australia if the South Australian Government were prepared to move forward and accept the realities of the future. But so far the South Australian Government, whilst not saying one thing or the other in a very definitive way, has refused to take the decisions that would make that open as an option for the future industrial development of South Australia. If the policies of the past are continued it is highly likely that time will again pass South Australia by. Decisions in relation to that matter will have to be made before the South Australian Government can even come to a sensible and rational policy about it.
-Is the Acting Treasurer aware of the continuing speculation on a March cash loan and also the widespread speculation that the Government proposes to implement a tax on gold? Is he aware that a decision could be made in the very near future which might result in the reopening of the gold mines on the Golden Mile in Kalgoorlie and elsewhere? Because of the effect on investment in this possible reopening, can he assure the House that the Government has no intention of imposing a tax or excise on gold production in Australia?
-Can I first of all put an end to any speculation that the Government is going to have a March cash loan? It is not going to have such a loan. As to the second part of the question in relation to gold producers- I recognise the significance of that to the honourable member and to his electorate- let me assure the House that there are no proposals before the Government which will alter in any way the tax treatment of gold producers.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that in this House on 10 April last year, when referring to Kakadu National Park, the former Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development said:
Stage 1 will become a national park immediately . . .
On November 7 the Minister also said that the Government accepted the recommendation, that is, the recommendation of the Ranger Inquiry, that Aboriginal title should be granted, the national park established and necessary control mechanisms set up, before any substantial amount of construction work is done on the Ranger project or substantial numbers of people are brought into the area. Is the Prime Minister aware that the construction of Ranger is proceeding rapidly and the company plans to bring in several hundred workers next month, yet the national park still has not been declared? Will he inform the House whether the Government still intends to declare Kakadu National Park and, if so, when?
– I will see precisely what details I can give the honourable gentleman in answer to this question. Our intentions in relation to Kakadu National Park have in no way altered and the Government adheres to what it said.
-Has the Minister for Defence seen reports that the Queensland Government has offered the Federal Government land at Cairns for the permanent establishment of a patrol boat facility? Can the Minister inform the House whether that is correct and whether the Government will take up the offer?
– My attention was drawn this morning to a statement attributed to the Premier of Queensland wherein he said that he had made an offer of land to the Royal Australian Navy for the establishment of a patrol boat base. As I read the remarks attributed to the Premier, I interpreted ‘offer’ in its complete sense, namely, that the land would be given, donated, to the Commonwealth. If that be the case, then I would say that it is a remarkably generous offer on the part of the Premier, although one that does not greatly surprise me. My colleague the Minister for Administrative Services has been negotiating recently with the Queensland Government for the purchase of land. Those negotiations are continuing. If the Premier of Queensland has now intervened in those negotiations to say ‘They need not continue; if you want the land we propose to give it to you’, all I can say is that I thank him very much indeed for his generosity and I applaud his breadth of vision.
– I address a question to the Minister for Transport and refer to my previous question to him during the last session of Parliament in regard to the possible use of Bankstown Airport by intrastate aircraft and other jet charter aircraft. Is the Minister aware that jet charter aircraft are consistently landing at Bankstown Airport as late as 1 a.m.? Will the Minister take action to prevent this unnecessary worry to the people in my electorate and adjoining electorates? Have there been any developments in the period since my last question to ensure that the people in my electorate of Banks and in the adjoining electorates are not worried by this unnecessary aircraft noise?
– One of the problems of modernday living is that people like to travel by air. Whether the honourable member likes it or not, they are going to continue to do so while fuel is available. Fuel is getting scarce and more expensive, but people are still going to travel while they can. I have some difficulty in imposing regulations on general aviation aircraft that meet certain noise control measures which would prevent them from using Bankstown Airport throughout the day or night. I will have a look at the suggestion of curtailing charter aircraft in particular, to which I think the honourable member referred, to see whether it is a feasible proposition. The major point I make is that people do demand to travel. We need to facilitate that travel even though we experience some difficulties in doing so. On the general question of Bankstown, let me go on to say that the future of Bankstown is, of course, tied up with the future of the Major Airport Needs of Sydney Committee study. Until the MANS study is concluded the whole of the settlement of the question of aviation services throughout Sydney remains reasonably open.
-The Minister for Trade and Resources will be aware of the current controversy concerning a nuclear incident at a power plant at Vasteras in Sweden, reported this week on the Australian Broadcasting Commission radio program AM. Has the Minster received a report from the Swedish authorities concerning the incident? Will this incident affect any projected sales of uranium to Sweden?
-A lot of publicity has been given to this matter. I can well imagine the antinuclear people getting on the band wagon and peddling this incident to the maximum. I have asked my officials to give me information on this incident. The information basically that they have come back with is that there is no threat or risk at all of nuclear reaction taking place.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Is it a fact that Commonwealth revenue will benefit this year to the tune of $ 1,400m from the crude oil levies and from company tax upon oil producers? Is it also a fact that the Commonwealth will collect $910m this year from excise on refined petroleum products? How does the Government justify the enormous imposition of $2,3 10m of petroleum taxes upon the public in terms of its anti-inflation objectives? Is it simply that the Government’s obsession with the Budget deficit transcends any notion of fair petrol pricing and anti-inflation policy? Finally, will the Government review its 1978 import parity levy policy to reduce the impost of its inequitable petroleum taxes?
-The Government for very good policy reasons decided that there should be an import parity price for oil. We did that because we are concerned that oil search and development should proceed in Australia and also because over time we have to encourage a rational and economic use of finite world resources. I might say that the dangers and problems of oil shortages would be not inconsiderably less if all countries had the same world parity price policy for oil as Australia has. It will make sure that the consumers of energy make rational and sensible judgments between oil, coal and other sources of energy which would not happen if we enabled the circumstances to continue in which oil was priced much below its economic value in the Australian market. If the honourable gentleman is saying that the people of Australia should not get some benefit from that and that the benefit should all go to the oil companies, that is a view that we would reject.
I think it is fair enough to point out that there have been very considerable benefits to Australia from the development of a rational and sensible oil pricing policy because as a result of that policy the number of exploration wells being drilled is growing very significantly. This is one of the developments that policies of the Labor Party stopped completely. This year the number of exploration wells, as I understand it and as I am advised, should be the highest figure for seven or eight years. In addition to that, two companies alone have committed themselves to $ 1,000m worth of development and exploration as a result of oil pricing decisions. By the middle 1980s about 30 per cent of Australia’s then known domestic sources of fuel will be coming from reserves proved up since the announcement of our oil pricing policies. All in all, the policies are encouraging exploration. They are encouraging development and, at the same time, they are encouraging a rational use of finite fuel resources throughout Australia. The Government has no intention of altering those policies.
-Has the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry been drawn to an article which appeared at page 1 of today’s Hobart Mercury which states that Hobart will lose $3.5m worth of business per annum with the introduction of an Australian fishing access fee claimed in the article to be $35,000 for each foreign fishing vessel? Is it a fact that no access fee has yet been negotiated? Is it further a fact that the strongest representations have been made to the Minister pointing out the diabolical effect on the economy of Hobart if Japanese fishing vessels cease using the facilities of the port of Hobart?
– The honourable member for Denison has been most persistent and consistent in his efforts to ensure the maintenance of throughput of visiting fishing fleets in the port of Hobart. I understand his concern. He has forwarded to me representations from a range of special interest groups in the port, all of which support the general drift of the question he has just put to me. The present state of play in respect of the 200-mile fishing zone is that I am hoping that some time through April it will be possible to proclaim the fishing zone legislation. Prior to that I hope that discussions with Japan, Korea and perhaps a number of other countries may be concluded which will ensure that it will be possible for those fishing boats to continue fishing in waters where they have been fishing for some years but, of course, will henceforth fish under a different regime.
As to the actual licence fees to be charged, some items- certainly those concerning the boats to which the honourable member referred- still remain to be resolved between the Japanese, Koreans and Australians. The figures to which the honourable gentleman referred are purely speculative. I hope that in outlying ports, perhaps as some component of the fee, it might be possible to develop some rationale by which the volume of turnover in a port, or increased turnover perhaps, might be used to offset the actual fee paid. That, too, is a matter of speculation. If we can develop a formula which would enable an increased expenditure over a base period, it would obviously be very much in the interests of the port. The honourable gentleman can assure the residents of Hobart and all of Tasmania that much of the content of the newspaper article is highly speculative and grossly inaccurate.
-The Acting Minister for Housing and Construction will recall giving an answer yesterday in which he asserted that nonresidential building had increased steadily since the end of 1975. Is it a fact that the value of work done on non residential buildings, both public and private, increased by 24.4 per cent in the last six months to September 1978 compared with the last six months of 1975? Did the price index of materials used in buildings other than housing increase by 3 1 per cent over this period, implying a decline of 5 per cent in the real value of work done? Why did the Minister mislead the House yesterday?
– I did not mislead the House yesterday. I do not have the exact information which the Leader of the Opposition requires, but I will certainly obtain it and make it available to him. So far as my comments yesterday are concerned, I was speaking about, and making comparisons with, the boom period. This seemed to create some interest. The period to which I was referring was the period when the honourable member for Hughes was the Minister for Housing. For quite a significant section of that period the cost of housing went up each week by more than the average weekly wage. The cost of a modest home during that period increased by as much as $125 a week. The average wage was about $104. So, the remarks generally yesterday were accurate. I do not have the details the honourable gentleman seeks. I will certainly make them available.
-Is the Prime Minister aware of Consolidated Rutile Ltd’s extensive sand mining operation on North Stradbroke Island which is just 13 minutes light aircraft flying time east of Brisbane? Is the Prime
Minister aware that the mining on Stradbroke Island has not caused the controversy that surrounds the island which shares his name because so many people have seen for themselves what is now actually and positively achieved in the name of restoration of mined areas?
– That is in my electorate.
-It is in the honourable member’s electorate but it is of interest to me. In view of the traumatic effect that wrongly based prejudice can have upon our economy and the hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs at stake, will the Prime Minister please give favourable consideration to paying a visit to accessible Stradbroke Island, in the company of Federal Cabinet, so that decisions on this subject and related matters can be made with shared first-hand knowledge or at the very least arrange for a number of Cabinet Ministers to pay a visit?
– I am very glad to hear that that company is operating well and profitably and at the same time is taking the necessary measures to preserve the environment. I think that just demonstrates what can be done when a company sets out to undertake its affairs in a proper way and at the same time to repair any damage to the environment that might otherwise occur as a result of its activities. It is a good thing to see a company such as the one to which the honourable member referred showing a degree of public responsibility and public concern in that way. The honourable member might not be aware of it but some members of the Cabinet at least have a personal knowledge and understanding of the situation. I think that my colleague the Minister for Trade and Resources has personal experience of the situation on other islands where activities of this kind have in fact taken place. So the Cabinet is not totally unaware, on a first-hand basis, of what may or may not have occurred in other places- But I will certainly look at the suggestion that some members of the Ministry might be interested in visiting this operation. I think it is a good thing to gain a wide understanding of the necessary environmental protection measures in which public spirited companies are now involving themselves. If that had been common practice right throughout there would never have been any problems, would there?
-I direct a question to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. It is supplementary to questions asked earlier. Is it a fact that $14m in licence fees remains uncollected due to the staff shortage in the Minister’s Department? Is it also a fact that there are 2,000 unattended complaints of radio interference because of that staff shortage? Is it not a fact that an independent review suggested that the Department’s staff be increased by 144 but that because of the Prime Minister’s interference only 67 were allowed to be employed? In view of the fact that revenue amounting to $14m remains uncollected and that 2,000 complaints are still unattended to, I ask the Minister whether he will override the Prime Minister and employ the staff suggested by the independent review.
– I will check on some of the precise details in the honourable member’s question. Let me simply say that the Government did agree to the raising of staff ceilings in this area. We have been proceeding to employ a significant number of new radio inspectors in order to ensure that there is proper adherence to the rules and regulations governing radio communications in Australia. I have this matter under review. At the moment a review is being undertaken by the Public Service Board of staff ceilings in this area and in a number of other areas but I do not yet have the result of the latest review.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. The Minister will be aware that Operation Farmlink, the national program sponsored by farmers and farm bodies to try to bridge the country-city communication gap, gets under way next week. Is the Minister aware that on National Farm SundaySunday, 25 March- thousands of Australian farmers will throw open their farms to town and city people to give them some idea of what life on the farm is like? Does the Minister agree that there is a communication gap between city and country Australians? Does the Government support the principles upon which the Operation Farmlink program is based?
– I think every member of this House would endorse the togetherness concept which lies behind the Operation Farmlink program. There does seem to be an incredible gap in understanding between those who live in the city and those who live in the country and, of course, it is by no means only in the one direction. It lies as much in the ignorance of rural dwellers about the ways of the city as perhaps it does in the ignorance of those who live in the city about the ways of the country. Operation Farmlink in its conception and presentation should provide a worthwhile facility. Not only will farmers open their gates to receive a good many city visitors, as I understand many will be doing, but also through the communication facilities I hope there will be a better understanding by city and country people of each other’s way of life. For some years I had a notice in my office which read: ‘If you eat you are involved in agriculture’. That is fairly true. Every member of the Australian community has a direct interest in the maintenance of our agricultural industries. Both in the lifestyles they provide and in the products they produce, rural industries are worth while and make a tremendous contribution to this country’s economy. At the moment, perhaps more than in any other direction, we can see through the recovery of rural fortunes an opportunity for stimulating greater employment and economic activity in our cities. Operation Farmlink is a worthwhile move to enhanced understanding. I commend the organisers and trust that many Australians will participate in this initiative.
-Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, may I add to an answer that I gave earlier?
-The right honourable gentleman may proceed.
-The Leader of the Opposition asked me a statistical question. I should like now to add to the answer I gave to it. The point I should like to make in response to the question is that outlays have come down as a percentage of gross domestic product from 30.6 per cent in the Budget presented by the present Leader of the Opposition to 28.2 per cent, as I am advised, this financial year. Taxation has also fallen marginally as a share of gross domestic product since the last Labor Budget. Obviously the figure could have fallen considerably more if there was not the urgent need to control a deficit situation created by the inflation and extravagance of the Labor years. It is worth noting that in the case of income tax the fall has been from 12.9 per cent to 12.6 per cent of gross domestic product for the years 1975-76 and 1978-79 respectively. As I indicated earlier, if the former tax scales had remained in being income taxpayers would be paying $3,000m more than they will in fact pay this financial year.
In addition, a major factor sustaining the proportion of gross domestic product represented by income tax and also sustaining the proportion of gross domestic product represented by outlays, more than would otherwise have been the case, has been the removal of concessional allowances for children and their replacement by the new family allowance arrangements which transfer expenditures-
– I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Apart from being thoroughly misleading, this is more than an addition or a supplement to an answer the Prime Minister gave earlier. I will be asking you for the same sort of indulgence to correct the record. The Prime Minister is misrepresenting the situation thoroughly and, I suspect, knowingly.
-There is no point of order. I ask the honourable gentleman to restrain himself until after the right honourable gentleman has finished.
- Mr Speaker, the chatterbox has been running with his chatter all morning.
-Order! I ask the right honourable gentleman not to use that sort of term.
-But, Mr Speaker, it is an accurate statement of what the Leader of the Opposition does right throughout Question Time when a Minister is answering a question.
– You must have gremlins on your shoulder.
-He is doing it now.
– Tell us how much your in-laws collected from the-
-Order! The honourable member for Prospect will remain silent. I remind the Prime Minister that he is giving additional information by way of indulgence of the Chair. I ask him to confine his remarks to the additional information relevant to the question that was asked.
-Mr Speaker, a major factor sustaining the share of gross domestic product represented by income tax and government outlays has been the removal of concessional allowances for children and their replacement by new family allowance arrangements which add directly to Commonwealth outlays. Obviously the reduction in Commonwealth expenditure would have been significantly greater if it had not been for that transfer arrangement which has introduced a beneficial change for many low income families. Even despite that, the real burden of income tax as reflected in the share of gross domestic product represented by income tax has fallen from the Labor years to the present.
- Mr Speaker, I would like to clarify the points arising from my question and the subsequent supplementary answer given by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser).
-If the honourable gentleman has in any way been misrepresented I will allow him to make a personal explanation.
– I claim to have been misrepresented.
-The honourable gentleman may proceed.
-The response of the Prime Minister is thoroughly misleading. Income tax is only one source of revenue available to the Government. It is quite clear that the Government is moving the proportion of the burden of total revenue raisings of the Commonwealth Government from income tax to other sources.
- Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Normally personal misrepresentations relate to a matter which affected a member personally. I have been listening with some attention to the response of the Leader of the Opposition. Rather than referring in any way to how he personally has been misrepresented, he is referring to a policy statement and to some disagreement on policy. I suggest that it is totally out of order for him to make that sort of explanation after Question Time.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to speak to the point of order. The Prime Minister in his supplementary answer went far beyond the question which was asked of him during Question Time. This is a tactic being adopted by the Prime Minister, namely, to seek your indulgence after Question Time. We will finish up with two Question Times.
-The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. Let me recapitulate: The Prime Minister asked for my indulgence to add some information to an answer he gave during Question Time.
– An incorrect answer, I think it was.
-The honourable member for Prospect will remain silent, if he possibly can. If he does not, I will deal with him. I gave the Prime Minister that indulgence. In the course of taking advantage of that indulgence, the right honourable gentleman engaged in argument supporting the extra facts. There is no basis upon which I can give the Leader of the Opposition an opportunity to reply, except by way of a personal explanation. I am aware that the Leader of the
Opposition is going beyond the normal terms of a personal explanation, but within reasonable bounds I will permit him to do so.
– The points can be made quickly. The facts are that the total revenue raisings, or total receipts, are the measure of the burden of revenue raising imposed on the community. The statistical sources- the Budget papers and the Bureau of Statistics publication Public Authority Finance- are sources from which I obtained my information. They show public authority receipts as a share of the gross domestic product to be 25.9 per cent, 26 per cent and 26.3 per cent for the fiscal years 1976 to 1978 inclusive, an average of 26.1 per cent. That compares with an average of 24.8 per cent for the three years of the Labor Government. It is important to note that it is the total level of receipts which members of the community have to bear in various forms which is of significance to them as taxpayers. What the Government has done is to shift a fair degree of responsibility for various programs out of the Budget into other sectors of the economy, although still in the official public sector. The consequence of that is that receipts for all public authorities were 33.6 per cent, 33.5 per cent and 33.3 per cent for those three fiscal years for which this Government has been responsible. That represents an average of 33.4 per cent, compared with an average of 3 1.2 per cent under the Labor Government. The simple facts are that, on the evidence available, this is a high tax government.
-The honourable gentleman has now reached the limit -
- Mr Speaker, I am responding to the misrepresentation of points I made in my question, which has been put to the House by the Prime Minister. I can condense my remarks if I am given leave to incorporate tables in Hansard.
– Is leave granted to incorporate the tables?
– May I look at the tables?
-Yes. They set out public authority receipts and public authority deficits as a percentage of gross domestic product.
– Year by year?
-Indeed they are. I am not a member of Patrick Partners; I can afford to be honest. The final point I wish to make is that for the three years of the Labor Government the increase in Budget outlays represented 28 per cent of the gross domestic product and it has now averaged out at 29.3 per cent. The Prime Minister’s assertions do not stand.
-The honourable gentleman has exhausted the indulgence that I will allow. I ask the Leader of the House whether leave is granted to incorporate the document.
– Yes, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
-For the information of honourable members I present details of special flights by the Royal Australian Air Force for the period 1 July 1978 to 31 December 1978. Copies of this report are available from the Table Office.
– Pursuant to sub-section 5 (3b) of the Statutory Rules Publication Act 1903,I present a statement relating to the Trade
– For the information of honourable members I present an interim report of the Curriculum Development Centre for the year ended 30 June 1978. The final report will be presented once the form of financial statements has been determined and approved by the Minister for Finance and a report is received from the Auditor-General on the audit of the statements.
-Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, Mr Speaker. In the adjournment debate last night the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) stated directly in relation to the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) and by clear inference to myself that we were friends of the Tribune and friends of the communists. Although on the issue of pensions, as to a specific matter, I took a certain view, I reject any implication of my being friends with the communists. I consider what the honourable member said to be a completely offensive and despicable thing to say.
The second misrepresentation in the honourable member’s speech was a quote from the Tribune in which it is alleged that I stated at a meeting of the Council for the Aged a short time ago that people should write to their members supporting a private member’s Bill proposed by the honourable member for Franklin. What I said at the meeting was that I supported the reintroduction of six-monthly pension indexation and that persons should write to their local member, but that I did not believe that the introduction of a private member’s Bill was the correct procedure by which to regain six-monthly pension indexation.
-Mr Speaker, with your indulgence I wish to make some reference to the remarks you made yesterday about the role of the Speaker because I want you to take another matter into account when you are writing letters to the parties involved.
-I will permit the honourable gentleman to proceed.
- Mr Speaker, as you know from my interjection yesterday, I am very much in support of the matter of the role of the Speaker being researched. As you would also know, some two years ago the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) raised with you in this Parliament the role of the Speaker outside the Parliament. You explained then, as you did yesterday, that the role of the Speaker in this Parliament was not seen in the same light as the role of the Speaker under the Westminster system in the House of Commons.
I say to you, Mr Speaker, that perhaps the matter raised previously by the honourable member for Gellibrand is also a matter that you should take into account when you are writing to the parties, although not so much in terms of your own personal role, which was the subject of some controversy, but in terms of the effect on the media. From observing the way in which the media treated the role of the Speaker, in this case yourself, acting in industrial jurisdiction, it is obvious that it seems to give a great deal more attention to a case because you are the Speaker than it might do if you appeared just as an industrial advocate. I raise this matter with you because it has been raised with me by several of my constituents who were involved in the last industrial case in Adelaide in which I think you appeared. It was given a great deal of publicity by the media and I think that a lot of that media coverage was given as a result of your being Speaker of this House. I just ask that you take my remarks into account when you write to the parties involved.
-I think I should say something in relation to the matter raised by the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young). I have made it clear that I wish to have independence as Speaker and I do not want to be in a position where my income, my standard of living or that of my family is affected if I leave the Chair,. because in that way it may be seen that any decision I give is given for the purpose of allowing me to remain here. The consequence is that I pursued a course of action which I think is proper. I have given very considerable attention to it and I have concluded that it is correct.
As to the publicity that was given to the industrial case in which I appeared, that is a matter for the media, not for me. I cannot control the media, as the honourable gentleman would know. The issues that were involved in that particular case were of very great significance to the whole of the work force of this country, and I felt that I was making a very considerable contribution to a major issue. If the matter was covered by the media, then that was the media’s decision. I will take into account what the honourable gentleman has said, but I see the matter as totally separate and distinct from the issue I am putting forward and which I indicated yesterday I would put forward.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Pay-Roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Amendment Bill 1979
Excise Amendment Bill 1979
Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill 1979
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 20 March next at 2.15 p.m., unless Mr Speaker shall by telegram or letter addressed to each member of the House fix an alternative day or hour of meeting.
-Mr Speaker, I would like to make a brief reference to the way in which we are running this place. It is now nearly 450 days since the last election and the Notice Paper shows that we are now meeting for the 83rd time. Is it not possible for us to re-arrange the Parliamentary year so that we can accommodate better the subjects which are before the Parliament? As the situation is now, there will be three or four ministerial statements today -
– To the contrary, you are taking up the time of General Business. Two motions have been submitted by members of your own party.
– You must be the slowest learner in Australia. You are not going to silence me by shouting at me or saying anything you wish. One of the points that ought to be debated here is the role of the Speaker. I just say, in pursuance of the previous remarks, that I have no complaint, Mr Speaker; I do not find you any more unjust to us than you are to the people on the other side of the House. You distribute your injustices impartially. On the Notice Paper I see matters which ought to be debated- the unemployment benefit, the international situation, the peace-keeping force and so on. What is happening to this House concerns us all. A Minister makes a statement and a member of the front bench on our side of the House replies and that is the end of the matter. The rest of us might as well have stayed home. It is no way to run one of the most important, deliberative, democratic assemblies in the world. It is one of the few that remain. I think that over the years we could have spread the Parliamentary year better. I appreciate the week off on these occasions but I think that we should start at some recognised time, perhaps early in February; we ought to finish at some recognised time, perhaps late in November; and we ought to fit in another 20 or 30 sitting days during the year. I recognise that the Government is the happiest the quicker it can dive into the recess. I appeal to this Parliament to apply itself a bit more constructively to the exercise of public debate on major issues.
This Parliament has changed substantially in the 23 years that I have been a member. When I first came here we did not debate matters concerning education or health or Aboriginal affairs, but we did have lengthy debates on foreign affairs, defence policy and the like. Such debates have now largely vanished from the scene. The legislation committees do not seem to have got under way as rapidly as we would have liked. We have to change the structure. We have to lengthen the periods in which a member has to speak. We have to give more resources to members to enable them to handle their affairs. If we do not attend to these matters this Parliament is going to come increasingly into discard in public regard. That will be a serious matter, not only for Australia but for the rest of the world because, as I said earlier, this Parliament is one of the few remaining democratic deliberative assemblies. Considering the way in which the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) runs this place, the word ‘democratic’ should be used in inverted commas.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
1 ) That a standing committee of this House be established to:
the effectiveness of expenditure of funds appropriated for defence;
That the committee be given all powers necessary to carry out its investigation and report to Parliament at least twice a year.
I would add that I would have no objection if the proposed body were to be a joint committee. The terms of the motion are meant to be allembracing, to cover the whole subject of defence and to ensure oversight by this House of expenditure by this Parliament, which is required to appropriate funds for defence at fairly high levels, even though arguably those funds are not sufficiently high insofar as our actual defence needs are concerned. Last year the appropriation in the Budget for defence represented 8.7 per cent of the total government outlays. In other words, close to $9 out of every $100 spent last year by the Government was devoted to defence. There is very little public debate or examination of the manner in which decisions within the defence area are made, or of the appropriateness, the methods of choosing and the roles of given pieces of equipment, some with extremely high capability and possessing very high value. This Parliament, in common with the public, is discouraged from making a real examination of significant areas of the operation of defence because of an over-use of secrecy and a lack of insight and public discussion of the aims, intentions and justification for actions taken in the defence area.
Figures published today indicate that there are 70,400 uniformed members of the Services in Australia and that approximately 30,000 persons are engaged in civilian employment of various types that is directly related to defence. This Parliament appropriates annually some $2!£ billion to defence but has no adequate capacity to examine that expenditure, the organisation which is responsible for it, or whether it adds to the real defence capacity of the nation. I have no doubt that persons involved in the Public Service and the armed services are among the most competent in their field in the world. Certainly, the professional capacity of our military forces is as great as that of any group of servicemen in the world. That does not alter the fact that this Parliament has to appropriate funds, has to make decisions and is responsible to the Australian people for the defence of this country and for ensuring that the funds so appropriated are spent properly. I do not think that anyone- with some exceptions- in this Parliament or outside of it suggests that those funds should not be spent. Parliament is answerable for the expenditure of those funds yet almost a minimum of information concerning it is made available to the Parliament or the public. I would contrast the situation of this Parliament with that of the United States. In one instance last year, matters on which the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) placed a D-notice were published in magazines.
– What case was that?
– It concerned purchases and was published in an electronics magazine in about June. I would contrast that with the situation last year in which a series of supposed disclosures by a journalist in Austrafia became headline news all over the country as major leaks or disclosures of secrets from the Department of Defence. That must have damaged the standing of our defence forces and defence administration, yet not one of the items that were disclosed in those articles should have had any significance at all if there had been a free flow of information between the defence administration and the Australian public. Most of the information in fact came from records submitted in the United States to congressional committees, records which were readily available to members of the United States Congress. They were not of a confidential or secret, but rather a public, nature. The sensationalism and the ensuing embarrassment that was caused to defence in this country was not the result of the disclosures but of the fact that they were able to be rendered sensational because of over-secrecy and the nondisclosure of information which had no right to be withheld from any section of the Australian public.
Anyone who has read the naval technical services report which has been the subject of all sorts of debate around this country will find it very difficult to ascertain why it should be regarded as a confidential document, why such a hullabaloo has gone on about its contents. It contains nothing that would threaten national security. The Minister has said on a number of occasions that it does not contain information which is significantly relevant to the organisation of his Department. Its importance is that it was classified as secret. Incidentally, it was classified as secret after it had been substantially made publicly available within and outside his Department. It was declared to be confidential after much of its contents had been published in the Australian.
However, the real crunch, the real scoop by journalists, resulted from secrecy which need not have existed. If the complaints in that report have significance, the Department and the Minister ought to be doing something about them. If not, they should be rebutted. But to declare the document confidential because it was critical of the structure of the Department, or of some of its operations, or because it disclosed friction within the Department, was a retrograde step and one designed to add to the problems, not detract from them. I repeat, most of the Toohey disclosures last year, which caused a considerable number of problems, became scoops only because so much secrecy surrounds the ordinary day-to-day operations of defence.
The Auditor-General, over a period, has disclosed serious problems in regard to the computer operations of the Department. I note that only now has the Minister announced that orders for the second Univac computer will be placed. This is an area in which major expenditure is taking place. It is one concerning which an inquiry by another parliamentary committee, the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, is taking place in retrospect; but Parliament has no real means of bringing its capacity for inquiry to bear upon it and thus satisfying its need for information.
I direct the attention of honourable members to the difference between the position in Australia and that in the United States. One obvious difference is that the Congress has different responsibilities and operates in a different manner. However, I do not think that that makes classified information in the United States any less secure. I do not think that it requires a lower security rating than it does in Australia. I believe that the rights of members of this Parliament to such information as can, and should be made available are just as great. Let me cite an obvious case. During the controversies which surrounded the purchase of the FI 1 1 questions were asked in both Houses of this Parliament over a protracted period. Most of those questions- the present Minister for Defence did not hold that portfolio at the time- were put aside on the ground that they concerned confidential or security information. It was information which was not available.
A former senator, Senator James McClelland, wrote to the chairman of a sub-committee of the United States Senate armed services committee which was inquiring into the FI 1 1 aircraft contracts and purchases asking if information was available. The senator provided that Australian senator, who was an Opposition senator, with 10 volumes which covered hearings and information relating to the FI 1 1, including answers to questions. The information in the answers had been refused to this Parliament because of security. Secrecy and the over-use of security breeds troubles for the departments which use it. It enables mistakes to be covered up. It is used to prevent the exposure and correction of administrative and other problems which exist. Secrecy is the greatest danger which can exist for an efficient organisation. We would all like to know a lot more.
We are entitled to know on what the money, which we are asked to appropriate, is spent, whether it is spent appropriately and whether, as a result of that expenditure, the Defence Force is capable of carrying out the tasks which are set for it. Already we have the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. I want to make it quite clear that that Committee performs its functions as well as it is able. But I think it is important to point out that that large Committee has a number of sub-committees. Four separate sub-committees operate in that area. The staff provided for that full committee, with four sub-committees operating, is nine. The staff provided for the present inquiry of the joint committee is two. There is not even a typist. At the moment there are two seconded staff. I suggest that that is not a sufficient staff to carry out any sort of inquiry into defence procurement or into other aspects of defence in this country.
I make the other point that the significance of defence to this country, to its security and to the. Budgets which are the responsibility of this House, is such that it is appropriate that a separate standing committee should exist to carry out continuing investigations into areas of defence. Last year the Minister complained about old soldiers making statements which were not helpful to defence. I think one of the problems we have is that contemporary soldiers and persons do not have enough access to public debate on matters relevant to the development of our defence forces and their administration.
– I have actively encouraged debate.
-I note the Minister’s comment that he has actively encouraged debate. I will acknowledge that statement. I now return to the Naval Technical Services Division report. An inquiry was conducted within the Department of Defence into problems which quite clearly existed between civilian and service personnel operating in a technical area. Those persons who drew up that report have been subjected to harassment of a type which would make the drawing up of a future report impossible on an impartial basis, whether or not they were encouraged.
Mr Wodrow has been shifted out of his technical job for which he is qualified into a job for which he is not trained. He now performs no useful task within the defence area. There are other feelings of intimidation among the staff which prevent the speaking out against policy decisions or any decisions of senior management.
That is not the argument here today. The argument is whether we want significant discussion, significant parliamentary investigation and real information provided on the defence of Australia. This matter is becoming a public debate. There are very significant decisions to be made in the next couple of years. The Minister will shortly announce decisions relating to the tactical fighter force program and, at least, that will give us further information. That program has been under investigation since about 1968. We think it should be coming to a conclusion. I certainly think that Parliament wants to know whether that sort of time lag can be afforded by Australian defence. It may well be able to. But the fact is that real investigation and questioning does not take place and cannot take place. The facilities do not exist. The decision on the future structure of the Royal Australian Navy has to be made in the next two or three years. A very serious obsolescence problem is arriving because of the age of a significant number of fighting ships, especially HMAS Melbourne. I know that decisions are’ under discussion but the facts are that this Parliament should be involved in discussions on whether an aircraft carrier is needed. Such a major debate is taking place in the United States through congressional committees at the moment, but no such debate, in advance of the decisions being made, can really be undertaken in this place. The information is of a confidential nature. The inputs are less than satisfactory until a decision is actually announced. At that stage Parliament becomes impotent.
In moving the motion I am seeking to advance, not retard, defence and defence debate in this country. Nothing but good can come out of a requirement of answerability. Nothing but good can come out of a properly constituted, properly staffed parliamentary committee with members dedicated to defence, examining expenditures, examining proposals and examining the needs of Australia’s defence. I think in some instances honourable members should also be questioning the basis on which those decisions are made. The structure of the defence force and of the Department of Defence, and the procurement decisions that are made now, will have long term and consequential effects on our capacity to defend ourselves. If we decide to purchase an aircraft in the TFF program which does not fit into our strategic needs- I do not think that is likely to happen- then we have to live with that decision for 20 years. If we decide to purchase or not to purchase an aircraft carrier, the shape of our Navy in its major structural form is determined for 20 or 30 years, if not forever. If we make a mistake on the ground structures of our Defence Force and what shape they will be, it is not easy to correct that mistake. I believe that the Parliament is as entitled to participate in discussions prior to the decisions being made as it is to examine in retrospect the mistakes that might have been made because we did not examine the successes.
This motion proposes the setting up of a parliamentary committee. It does not set out the numbers. It certainly does not seek to bind the House on the terms of reference. It will advance the interests of defence debate in Australia. It will enable this Parliament to participate more fully in the defence debate and to discharge its responsibilities both to defence and to the Australian people in a far more adequate manner. I therefore hope the House will adopt the motion which I have moved. I suggest that if honourable members decided not to adopt it, that can only be because of satisfaction with an unsatisfying situation.
-Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion. The Opposition believes very strongly that there should be a joint committee on defence separate from the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence that we now have. The terms of the motion by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) set out the areas which we see as needing scrutiny. I seek leave to have the terms of the motion incorporated in Hansard.
The motion reads as follows-
1 ) That a standing committee of this House be established to:
the effectiveness of expenditure of funds appropriated for defence;
That the committee be given all powers necessary to carry out its investigation and report to Parliament at least twice a year.
– The number of defence debates in this House in a year can be counted on one hand, apart from specific debates on machinery Bills on a range of matters that come before us. This is the only Parliament in Australia in which defence is debated, notwithstanding the occasional ambitions of Sir Charles Court and Mr Bjelke-Petersen. When in Opposition the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) was most eloquent in his concern that defence ought to be debated more frequently. One only needs to point to his speeches, for example, those on 23 April 1975 and 8 October 1975, when he pleaded for more defence debate in this House. Yet now, the honourable member for Moreton as the Minister for Defence has not followed his own wishes to the extent that we on this side of the House would have hoped. For example, his defence statement on 24 October 1978 in which he announced a slow-down of the Government’s previous aims- they have since been speeded up- has not been debated. The effect on the Department of Defence of this to-ing and fro-ing with respect to procurement is a very good reason for a committee to examine to a greater degree where we are going in defence.
The Minister’s statement in October 1978 negated the White Paper of November 1976, the aims of which had been aborted at least by February 1978. Now, because of the situation in Iran and the Chinese invasion of Vietnam there seems to have been another shift in the Government’s position with respect to spending. We need to consider this to-ing and fro-ing. Last month the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) spoke of a real increase in defence spending of two per cent. In the last Budget a real increase of one per cent in defence spending was announced. After that increase of one per cent all the programs were slashed by Vh per cent. The combined increases of one per cent and two per cent together with the cutback in expenditure on the Department of Defence of 2V4 per cent mean that we are up one-half of one per cent in the process. Yet we still hear of Budget bids being trimmed by up to 20 per cent in some areas. We do not know what is happening. In 1976 there was a plan for expenditure of $ 12,000m over five years, corrected for inflation. It is not difficult to make out a case that by 30 June next the Government will be more than $3, 000m short of the promise of three years ago. We have now been told that the Government will spend $ 14,000m, an increase of $2,000m. However, expenditure has really increased by only $ 1,000m. It is now $ 1,000m less than the 1976 pledge with five years still to go. As I have said, there seems to be an inordinate amount of to-ing and fro-ing.
In peacetime we have to make up our minds as to the relative importance of strategy and administrative considerations in arriving at our defence policy. To make up our minds we need more time and a calmer atmosphere than is present in the occasional parliamentary debate in this chamber. There is wide concurrence in the House amongst those who are specifically interested in defence on the proposal to form a defence committee. One needs only to point to the notice of motion given by the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) on 20 February. This was a more agitated notice than the one now before the House but the beliefs of the honourable member for St George are shared to some degree by people on this side of the House. The Minister himself must agree that there is a fair amount of concurrence. I spoke of administration and strategy. On 20 August 1975 the Minister quoted references to administration by Montgomery and Wavell. When quoting Montgomery he said:
In my own case, I very soon learnt by hard experience that the administrative situation in rear must be commensurate with what I wanted to achieve in battle in the forward area.
When quoting Wavell he said:
It begins with the matter of administration, which is the real crux of generalship, to my mind; and places tactics, the handling of troops in battle, at the end pf his qualifications instead of at the beginning, where most people place it.
They are good quotes. They refer to the Minister’s belief in the importance of administration in respect of our peacetime defence forces. I personally have a slightly different emphasis. I believe that our defence preparedness should be oriented towards an administration based on a strategy or strategies rather than administration per se. It would appear from the notice of motion given by the honourable member for St George that he agrees with the need for more strategic consideration. To take into account the balance between strategy and the place it takes in administration is rather complex. We think that these areas should be discussed by a committee. There should be a more bipartisan approach in this
House to defence. The great debates for and against Australia’s involvement in Vietnam should no longer poison the atmosphere when we speak on defence. As we all know the Labor Party opposed Australia’s involvement; the Government defended it. The Minister has also asked for a bipartisan approach. On 28 August 1975 he said:
I would hope that the maturity of this nation is of such a character that we have moved quietly but nevertheless perceptibly towards being able to embrace a bipartisan policy upon defence matters . The fact of life today, as far as this nation is concerned in defence matters, is that the doctrine of self-reliance is assuming a greater degree of relevance month by month, day by day, and indeed hour by hour.
That is what this motion refers to with respect to the Guam doctrine. The people within the defence forces and the Returned Services League are captive audiences. I sustain that they are conservative people but, at the same time, they should not be exploited. I believe that when in Opposition members of the Liberal Party made some outrageous statements. They almost accused the Labor Government of being treasonous. The then Minister for Defence, Mr Barnard, was subject to a number of attacks. The present Minister for Defence when referring to Mr Barnard said that he was living evidence of life after death, and the most complete tragedy that the nation had ever known. These comments may have been made in jest but the debates were serious at the time. The ridiculous claims made in the heat of debate should not occur but they do. There is no need for me to remind the House of the nonsense when claims and counter claims are made.
I recall that I once prepared a speech- it may not have been a good speech- on naval procurement. I was never able to make it. Whenever I came into the House to speak on defence the debate would develop into an argument. The real gut issues which we would have liked to talk about never came to the surface. There is too much cut and thrust in this House on defence matters on the few occasions when we debate them. I am concerned that the Minister seems to regard some criticism as personal. There is much consensus in the House. We on this side often wish to assist the Minister in putting defence matters into the right perspective. However, that does not stop us from being concerned.
Some members in the House have attacked the Public Service. Journalists such as Peter Samuel and Brian Toohey have been attacked. Mr Booker was strongly criticised with respect to something he wrote recently. I do not think that he has had much chance to reply. In answering a question the Minister stated that Mr Booker had said that we do not need tanks; we need missiles. The Minister said that the problem with the harpoon missile advocated by Mr Booker is that it gets lost over land. I believe that Mr Booker was advocating that the harpoon missile be used on planes to fire at ships for which is it an excellent missile. The notice of motion given by the honourable member for St George referred to precision guided weapons. If the enemy ever arrived in ships carrying tanks it would make sense to sink the ships.
I believe that Australia is defendable. It is our duty in this House to see that our defence is as strong and as efficient as our resources will allow. The issues in defence in peacetime centre on preparedness and a need for public awareness to overcome the natural apathy on the matter. The New Testament, First Corinthians 14:8 states:
What we are talking about is preparedness. There needs to be more informed debate, more informed awareness of the real issues in defence. The Defence Department should not allow its processes to be shrouded in secrecy simply for bureaucratic convenience. One of the things that has prompted this motion from the Opposition is the evidence being put before a sub-committee of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, which is chaired by the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter). I have read much of that evidence. I am horrified. I am amazed that people such as the honourable member for Kennedy and the honourable member for St George are not saying more in this place. I am concerned to hear of attempts being made within the Defence Department to stifle constructive criticism by way of the sworn evidence being given before this Committee. The Minister may choose to deny that any attempts are being made to stifle dissenters in the Department, but that is not what I hear. It is evident from some of the attacks on individuals that are being made in this House and in other places that that is occurring.
The honourable member for Corio spoke of secrecy. We simply do not know what is happening in many areas. For example, I understand that there is a Defence Intelligence Estimates Staff that is now part of the Joint Intelligence Organisation and that that has grown to being bigger than the Office of National Assessments. Do we really know whether that staff, if it exists and if it is as big as that, should be as big as it is? Defence experts are critical of the administration of the Defence Department. We have already referred to the problems with respect to computers. Even a Liberal member of the Legislative Council in Victoria has been extremely critical of the administration of the Defence Department with respect to weapons procurement. I know Dr Foley well and have read his Ph.D. thesis on defence procurement. He is a man of substance and his criticisms were constructive. We really do need to understand the procurement process. Some 90 per cent of capital purchases being carried out by this Government are those announced by the Labor Government. The amount going to capital is now something like 12.7 per cent. In the 1976 White Paper there was a promise to get it up to 22 per cent.
We are talking about preparedness and contingencies. It is estimated that there are contingencies for four or five years time that no one sees. That is the time it takes to develop a contingency that no one sees. In conventional terms of warfare, we probably get two years warning of an invasion. So we are talking about a lag of five to seven years. As to the 88 per cent being spent on manpower, if we wish to increase our manpower perhaps we could do that in something like two years. But if we want to buy weapons, a patrol boat program probably takes five years, an aircraft carrier 10 years or 15 years, and the TFF something like 10 years or 12 years. What I am trying to get at is that it takes longer to get the weapons that it does for the contingency to occur, and this has to be scheduled. I believe that eventually we are going to buy the F18A and, if so, probably more by accident than by design. We just missed out on other aircraft replacement programs. This is an excellent aircraft. It has two engines, it is good over water, it can take the Harpoon missile, and it can mount supremely sophisticated air-to-air missiles.
We just do not get enough debate in this House on the defence procurement processes. We have a Government chopping and changing, promising a one per cent increase in real terms in one year, 2 per cent in the next year, and a 2Vi per cent cut-back in the next year. Some budgets will be pruned by 20 per cent. The tanks that are not mothballed are allowed to fire only two live rounds a year. That sort of nonsense is going on. We need to know what effects the Government’s overall Budget considerations are having on our defence planning. It seems to me that these considerations are far too important to take place by way of debates in this chamber when the debates themselves are heated, if they occur at all, and necessarily short. The Opposition strongly believes that we should have a more deliberative committee in this House, and I have much pleasure in seconding the motion.
– The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) and the honourable member for Werriwa (Mr Kerin) are two members of immense good will. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying to the House that I am really very fond of both of them. But this morning they have shown qualities that I did not suspect existed. Both of my honourable friends have shown themselves to be superb connoisseurs of nonsense in putting down this notice of motion, and I propose to examine the substance of it in a minute or two. When two honourable members in this House can confess in such an unblushing way their faith in committees, then I am bound to say that that is a confession of faith that I do not greatly share. That brings me to what I would describe as the major argument put today by both honourable gentlemen. They have said that there should be a standing committee of the Parliament on defence to examine a whole host of things that are recited. One conspicuous feature is left out of that examination which forms the basis, the essential, the fundamental, of all defence planning. I refer to strategic assessment.
Were the honourable gentlemen serious when they said that a standing committee of this Parliament on defence should be allowed to question the intelligence-gathering systems of this country and make that public? I could not have conceived of a more nonsensical proposition. If the honourable gentlemen find that unwelcome, were they serious when they said that they would conduct all of these inquiries in vacuo, without any relationship to a strategic assessment? What I am saying to the honourable gentlemen is that they are not being practical. We cannot have any defence planning in this day and age without a strategic assessment. We cannot make that strategic assessment available because to render it available to the public- not to people of goodwill, to benevolent souls, but to malevolent minds, to people who are actively hostile to this country- would be to do great damage to the country. That brings me to say to both honourable gentlemen and to the House that in recent years I have watched with growing apprehension the confusion that exists in this Parliament and in the Fourth Estate with respect to the parliamentary system that we run and the American congressional system. They are two utterly different systems.
-What about Katter’s committee?
– I will come to that committee later, if the honourable gentleman will contain himself. I hope that the House and the Fourth Estate will take into earnest consideration what is developing with respect to the committee system. It is not merely as a lawyer that I say that evidence given to a committee which is not crossexamined by competent people, well and properly briefed, is not of much value. Yet day after day after day I have watched so-called witnesses, their qualifications untested and unstated, giving what purports to be evidence. If the evidence is critical, of course, the Fourth Estate thinks that is wonderful and it is run. A classic illustration- I regard this as quite the most significant blotch on the media history in this country- deals with the Katter committee where evidence which is critical of the Government, of the Department, of professional officers, is given a tremendous run, but nary a word appears about the rebuttal evidence. Have honourable gentlemen lost their sense of fairness? You may say it is a Latin tag, the audi alteram partem rule- hear the other side- but the public is entitled to hear the other side when a criticism is made. That is the system that has permeated into this Parliament. I say that, for all my weaknesses, I answer to this Parliament for what happens in the Department of Defence. I answer to the Parliament, not the officials, not the professional officers of the Department. I answer to the Parliament, and I think it deserves to be said that I sit here day after day at Question Time and seldom a question is put my way.
– I put all my questions to you.
– The honourable member for Corio, to give him his due, shows a quiet, dignified and sensible interest in this matter. But when we come to the wider vision, the wider debate on defence, I am bound to say to honourable gentlemen that I am surprised at the poor quality of the interrogation that goes on in this Parliament. People say that we need another committee. Let us look at the committees that are in existence today. The Public Accounts Committee makes inquiries into defence activity, as do the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, the Public Works Committee, the Senate Estimates Committee and the House of Representatives Expenditure Committee. The AuditorGeneral has his own set of inquiries. Goodness only knows, is this not enough? But no, we must have a standing committee on defence that is going on some frolic to make inquiries about all sorts of things when the fundamental of defence planning is to be ignored. I hope that my friends opposite will reflect on that point.
I come now to the second complaint of my friend, the honourable member for Corio, that with respect to secrecy. To bolster his argument he brought in aid the remarks of some gentleman- that is to give one at least of the people mentioned a pretty extravagant description- who works in the Press gallery. He said he disclosed what was being kept secret, at the North West Cape base. We had a great argument, a furore, over that last year. If people want to dish it out, I hope they learn to take it. May I remind the honourable member for Werriwa (Mr Kerin) that if I have a few glancing blows at people I do not do it out of any intense sense of hostility or dislike. I can say in my own defence that in nearly 24 years in this Parliament I have never asked for anything said about me to be withdrawn. Mind you, I have written the names of one or two people in my little black book, but that is beside the point. After Mr Toohey ‘s comments about the North West Cape base I would have loved to have cross-examined him for about half an hour. Mr Toohey said: ‘A new base is being built.’ The key words in that argument were ‘is being built.’ I assailed them because it was untrue. One had the vision of ditches being dug, concrete being poured and buildings being created. Nothing of the sort occurred. Nothing was happening. His words were ‘is being built’. He extracted from a Congressional Record a bar chart and there was a dot against the H. E. Holt Station. A proposal was in contemplation by the United States for some time in the future. Have we lost command of discipline of the language? The words ‘is being built’ signified something active. Nothing of the sort was going on.
It is not a case of secrecy on these matters at all. The honourable member for Corio well knows that I have put at his disposal, and without any sense of restriction at all, officers of the Department to discuss with him any aspect of defence planning. I know that any confidences that are given to him will be treated by him immaculately as an honourable gentleman and as an honourable member of this House. But I come back to the point that it is a question of the confusion of the two systems. I want to deal with the Katter committee to which honourable members opposite referred. That committee- a sub-committee of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defenceexamined quite a number of people. I want to say to the honourable gentlemen who served on that committee that there was precious little inquiry as to the interests of many of those who appeared before the committee. In other words, did they have any financial involvement? Did they have any financial interest? Did they have any pecuniary interest?
One can imagine a person going into a witness box to complain about something. If he has some vested interest in it, no matter what its character may be, he is not going to give evidence which is neutral in character. I want to say to the House with the utmost seriousness: If it is going to persist with this committee notion, every department being inquired into by a committee must have at its disposal a properly briefed counsel, one capable of cross-examining some of the people who appear and give evidence. Wigmore on evidence said: ‘There is no greater machine for the elicitation of the truth than crossexamination’. Thousands and thousands of words appeared in newspapers throughout this country attacking professional officers in the Department and making all sorts of wild, extravagant, unfounded allegations. Do we see a rebuttal to those attacks? No, nothing at all. It offends me. It is not merely that I take a pride in being the Minister for these people and serving with them day after day; I object to it on the basis of elementary fairness.
The honourable member for Corio went further. He said that we are spending a lot of money on defence. Of course we are but do I understand my honourable friend correctly? Is he suggesting that we should spend more on defence? I have never known a Minister for Defence who would seek to have a lower defence vote and I am not seeking some curious place in history by becoming the first in this nation to so move. But from where would the other funds come? Would they come from health, from education or elsewhere? That brings me to another argument which the honourable gentleman presented to the House this morning. If we are spending large sums of money on defence- I do not deny it- and if that is an argument for the establishment of a committee, why not establish a standing committee of the Parliament on health, a standing committee of the Parliament on social security or a standing committee of the Parliament on education? One can go on and on. This goes back to the main counter argument that I put to the House- indeed it is not a counter argument, it is an appeal to the House- to understand the history of this place, the character of this place, and not to confuse the two systems. If we are going to have committees running the Parliament then we can say that Parliament has had its day. This is the place to question Ministers. This is the place, if need be, to censure Ministers. This is the place, if need be, to dismiss Ministers. I speak with some feeling on this matter because I have a profound respect and regard for this institution. I do not like to see its authority weakened in this fashion.
I appeal to my honourable friends to realise the consequences of this motion. I do not object in the least to sitting in this House day after day being subjected to the most fierce questioning or hostile questioning on any matter at all. If I do not know the answer I will say so. But I do object to professional officers appearing before a committee, being cross-examined, and being put in the position where they must on some occasions run the risk of being embarrassed with respect to policy decisions. Governments make policy decisions; not the civil service, not the armed Services. Again, that is a fundamental point but it is a point that must be taken into consideration.
Because of the exigencies of time I cannot cover all the other minor points referred to by both of my honourable friends but there are one or two to which I want to make reference. One is the claim by the honourable member for Corio that a D-notice hung over some electronic equipment when it was revealed in the United States of America. I say to my honourable friend that on the information provided to me that is not so. I would be prepared again to make available to the honourable gentlemen the D-notices that are in existence, but none of them relate to that matter.
The last observation I want to make is with respect to the TFF project. The honourable member for Werriwa and the honourable member for Corio went back over the years and said that this project started some 10 years ago. Of course it did. Both honourable gentlemen, I hope consciously, were alluding to the difficulties of defence planning. Surely they were not arguing that in that time gone by a government, irrespective of its character, should have made a decision with respect to that aircraft, or any aircraft, and brought it into the inventory. It is a matter of professional judgment as to what type of aircraft is purchased and that judgment is best exercised by the professionals.
Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
Mr SCHOLES (Corio) -Be fore you put the question, Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to make an explanation because I think the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) misrepresented my remarks. I think I am entitled to do that.
-If the honourable gentleman wishes to make a personal explanation, he has the Chair’s indulgence.
-During my remarks I referred to the Katter committee. I said- I think this is important- that that committee could not carry out its functions properly because of the staffing arrangements which are made for the committee. There are two permanent staff members for the committee and two part-time members of staff. I would suggest that any rational person would say that that is quite ludicrous for a committee of that importance.
Question resolved in the negative.
-It being two hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the House, the debate on General Business Notices is interrupted.
Motion (by Mr Killen) agreed to:
That the time for the discussion of General Business Notices be extended until 12.4S p.m.
– I move:
That, in the opinion of this House, measures need to be taken to protect civil liberties and human rights including:
a Bill of Rights and Constitutional guarantees of human rights;
a proper system of legal aid, and
reform of the law so as to better protect civil liberties.
I have just learned that we will have only 15 minutes in which to discuss this very important matter. As I am anxious to ensure that my worthy colleague, the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi), also has an opportunity to participate in the debate, I will confine my remarks. I think that they will be considered elementary and non-contentious from the point of view of fair democracy. We desperately need a Bill of rights and a constitutional guarantee of human rights, a proper system of legal aid and reform of the law so as to better protect civil liberties. I have had this matter on the Notice Paper for over 12 months. I make no complaint about that. The fact is that no progress will be made in achieving genuine democracy in this country unless we look at trying to protect the rights of the individual.
The learned Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) mentioned a moment ago that we have a plethora of parliamentary committees; but we do not have any committees dealing with the rights of people and how the laws we pass affect them. It is most important to have a committee that looks at the rights of the citizens who are coming forward and saying that they are being affected by laws that the Parliament is passing or failing to pass. I think it would be very worth while.
– We are going to get a human rights commission.
-I welcome the interjection. We were promised a human rights commission in 1976. What sort of commission was proposed? I do not intend to be delayed in making some positive points, but it was to be a commission to make recommendations on what was wrong. We entered into the endorsement of a human rights covenant which said more than that. In entering into that covenant, which was a United Nations covenant, we said virtually that we would guarantee human rights for our citizens. There is a wide range of such rights, but honourable members will notice that the thrust of what I am saying today relates to a proper system of legal aid and the question of people having human rights.
Let me quickly summarise the things that this Parliament could have done on this subject. In 1973 the Labor Government was anxious to implement laws that would have guaranteed rights in accordance with the international covenant. The Senate rejected our proposals. We did not have the numbers in the Senate. We still do not have those rights in any statute form. We have the legal power to do so. Honourable members opposite may say that we have left the matter to the States. As honourable members would know, the rights in a State such as Queensland are not in accordance with the rights of the international covenant. There are the rights of human assembly, of free speech and of demonstration. Democracy is not just the preserve of government; it is the right of the whole of the people to indicate to a government what they think of it. We have to have genuine and effective methods whereby people are entitled to exercise those rights. One might ask: When does a citizen get a chance to stand up against the government? If we had a Bill of rights that set out the position a citizen would have access to clear statutory protection. Canada has moved in this area. There is no objection; there is no problem.
The only weakness in having a Bill of rights is that another government can do away with it. Much stronger emphasis would be placed on human rights if those rights were entrenched in the Constitution, which they should be. I think every Australian would ask: Why do we not have the rights set out in the Constitution? In that way they could not be easily removed by a government. Because our Constitution is complex and outmoded it will be difficult to get any real and effective progress in the short term. There have been legal decisions that clearly indicate that the elementary right of one vote one value does not apply in Australia, yet that is contrary to the human rights covenant in regard to what is called equal suffrage. We do not have equal suffrage. The High Court decision in McKinlay’s case clearly indicated that we are subservient to whatever any State government or parliament might say about our right to vote.
I come now to another point- legal aid. The international covenant clearly shows that people will be equal before the courts, that is, the courts of a government. People are entitled to be informed of the nature of the charges against them. They are also entitled to adequate legal representation. That legal representation should be provided on the basis of giving all the assistance which is required. This situation does not exist at present. We are running a legal aid system that is more in keeping with a Treasury allocation than with the needs of our citizens. Let me make it clear that some people cannot get equal opportunity before the law because they cannot get legal aid. Those people are being denied it because not enough money is available. If one looked at the most stringent tests which were recently announced regarding eligibility for legal aid one would see that we are not giving any real substance to the rights of a citizen in this regard because he will not have a chance to get any lawyer to represent him or to prepare his case in such a way as to enable him to be able to stand up against all the resources of a bureaucracy or government. We have an incredibly mean approach to the issue. A person with a disposable income of more than $52 a week will be denied legal aid. Problems are also occurring in the family law area. Legal aid will be granted only up to a certain point and there always has to be some contribution from the applicant.
I think that often the best way to illustrate an argument in this forum is to indicate specifics. One matter that has been brought to my attention- it obviously was not in my mind when I first put this motion on the Notice Paper- goes right to the whole question of human rights and the rights of citizens. There is to be no racial discrimination. There has to be equality and opportunity for citizens to stand up against what is happening should a government dare to prosecute them. I refer to what are known as the Greek conspiracy charges. It was announced originally that some 1,200 members of the Greek community would be involved in criminal proceedings because they allegedly had conspired to defraud the Government. That was some considerable time ago- It was put to me the other day that charges against 166 of the accused have been upheld. Many of the charges have not been processed; in fact very few have. Some charges were dropped in the course of being processed. Some 166 of them remain. Those people are being pilloried right across the nation on the basis that they have done something wrong. They cannot get effective legal aid. They cannot even get particulars of the charges. That is a breach of article 14 of the human rights covenant. Under that article people are entitled to details of the charges. People are continually being arraigned before a court and charged only to find their cases being adjourned because the Government is unable to proceed.
Do honourable members know that individually these people cannot get legal aid? They are being told that if they want to form themselves into batches of 20 they may be able to get one lawyer and one counsel but payment will be made only for the day the legal representatives appear in court. Can honourable members imagine what would be the reaction if this shabby, miserable conduct were highlighted in any other nation? We are prosecuting hundreds of members of the Greek community in a fashion which is denying them human and legal rights. The Government might say: ‘We are offering some token of assistance. We are offering some legal aid but it will be provided on the basis of one solicitor and one barrister being made available for each 20 persons. Of course, we will have the whole of our resources arranged against the accused. We will not limit ourselves to one legal officer; we will have many. We will not limit ourselves to one barrister; we will at least have a leading Queen’s Counsel and juniors to do the prosecuting’.
How do honourable members think we stand in this situation? This case is developing along the lines of an appeal to the court of appeal in New South Wales, the Supreme Court. These people, who are constituents of ours, are saying that they want to participate in the appeal, that they want to put a case forward, but they are being told that they will not be allowed to do so. They will be denied that right. I have put forward clearly and forcefully an example that has come to light. People are being denied their rights. People are being prosecuted by a government without having been given any particulars of the charge and not being given any opportunity adequately to defend themselves against a government.
I think that in all the issues that I have mentioned there is a very clear indictment of a government that has failed. This Government has never actively pursued human rights legislation. It has certainly whittled away legal aid from the point of view of giving sustenance to those who need it. The other important point is that this Government is doing nothing about having a look at law reform from the point of view of effective implementation of these matters. I want my colleague the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) to support my motion because he has something important to say in respect of human rights.
– No, finish your speech. Use up the time available to you.
-I think it is important for him to speak in support of my motion. It will be seconded by the honourable member for Hawker. Having given that quick summary, I will leave the honourable member for Hawker only three or four minutes in which to speak. Let the Government stand up and explain why it has failed to take positive action in the matters I have mentioned. We just cannot go on in this fashion. This is a non-contentious issue. On that basis we need some guarantee as to what we are about.
As the honourable member for Hawker has indicated to me that I should utilise the time that is remaining for General Business matters, let me point out that the whole gamut of what I have been saying is set out in Article 14 of a convention of the United Nations which, in part, says that all persons shall be equal before courts and tribunals; they will be entitled to be informed promptly and in detail in a language which they understand of the nature and cause of the charge; they will be entitled to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of defence; they will be entitled to be tried in their presence and to defend themselves in person or through legal assistance of their own choosing. All those entitlements have been denied in the instances that I have mentioned.
I return to the other fundamental issue of what the Australian Government is doing about freedom of information and the right of freedom of association. We could certainly have introduced legislation in this place to protect the rights of people. We know from the legislation foreshadowed in respect of freedom of information that clearly it is defective. At the present time it is in the other place. It clearly shows that there will not be much information given by the Government. There is a secret method used in legislation these days. It is a matter of ‘do not tell the people too much about what you have on them or what information there is on file about citizens’. In the other place today there will be a discussion on the rights of our intelligence people to get information on citizens. Clearly it has to be subject always to parliamentary scrutiny, but we do not have the facility to do that in this place. Honourable members will be aware that when the South Australian Government appointed a royal commissioner to have a quick look at some of the activities that had taken place in that State the scrutiny test failed, that is, it failed the test of cross-examination or review.
Let us be very clear that in international forums Australia should be seen to be a genuine democracy and a country that believes in the rights of our people. Let us legislate to guarantee those rights. At present if someone dares to march down the streets of Queensland without a permit he has no rights under an international covenant, and that is contrary to the real issue of what I am talking about in this motion. A Greek citizen accused of conspiracy has no rights to legal aid under the terms of Article 14 of the United Nations convention. These are particular issues that the Opposition can pinpoint as to what it is about. We have been talking about it for a long time now. In 1973 we saw what could be said to be the first thrust by the Federal Parliament to guarantee the average citizen a chance to stand up against bureaucracy and against government. We have not yet ratified the international covenant. We have signed it, but we have not ratified it. So we are failing in our duty.
I point out that because the time for precedence to General Business has almost expired the debate will be interrupted. This motion has been on the Notice Paper for 12 months but the Government says that I can have only 15 minutes in which to talk about this subject, the most important in the world today. I think this is to be deplored. I hope that the Parliament takes notice of what the Opposition is saying. I particularly hope that in respect of the legal aid matters I have raised they will be dealt with expeditiously and will not be hidebound by some administrative decisions which deny people their rights. For those reasons I have submitted the motion to the Parliament.
-Is there a seconder of the motion? Mr Jacobi- I second the motion.
-Order! The time allotted for precedence to General Business -
– Isn’t that good!
Government members interjecting-
– It is a disgrace. It has been on the Notice Paper for 12 months.
-Order! I ask the honourable member for Hawker to remain silent. The honourable members on my right are not helping a great deal by their high level of conversation. I say again that the time allotted for precedence to General Business has expired. The honourable member for Hawker will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed.
Resumption of the debate made an order of the day under General Business for the next day of sitting.
-Mr Speaker has received letters from the honourable member for Indi (Mr Ewen Cameron), the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) and the honourable member for Ballarat (Mr Short) proposing that definite matters of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion today. As required by Standing Order 107, Mr Speaker has selected one matter, that is that proposed by the honourable member for Indi, namely;
The urgent need for the Commonwealth and all States to defer the implementation of the third stage of motor vehicle emission controls.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.
More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-
– I raise this matter of public importance knowing full well that it is a matter of concern to many thousands of motorists in Australia today. The critical reliance on the motor vehicle throughout this country cannot be overemphasised. Our demographic and economic conditions dictate our continued and increased use of the automobile to a greater degree than most other nations. With our large land mass and relatively small population we have, of course, a low population density and high inter-city distances. When these factors are combined with our relatively high per capita incomes and the not unrelated low population densities within our cities themselves their effect is to discourage the use and better provision of group transport, as is well indicated by the losses incurred by our railway systems throughout the Commonwealth.
Increased standards of living in Australia have encouraged people to turn away from public transport and to use their private motor vehicle for travelling in work and leisure. The end result is one of the most highly motorised nations in the world with almost one vehicle for every two people, whose standards of living and quality of life are totally interwoven with their ownership and extensive use of the automobile. It is in this context that I and many others including politicians, associations for both consumers and manufacturers, and the ordinary everyday motorist are particularly concerned with the problems of motor vehicle emissions. The nation has imported a set of United States rules and dumped them on Australian motorists with little regard for our unique demographic and meteorological conditions. Even worse, there has been no cost impact study, no cost benefit analysis or regard had for the cost effective ratios.
The decision to adopt the United States of America 1973 emission requirements from 1 July 1976 was made by the Australian Transport Advisory Council. Accordingly, Australian Design Rule 27A covering emissions of hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen and carbonmonoxide was adopted as well as lead emission requirements for New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. ATAC estimates that the implementation of ADR 27A has increased fuel consumption by 7 per cent. The State Pollution Control Commission of New South Wales in a sample of 189 new vehicles tested between July 1976 and March 1977 showed an increase in fuel consumption of 8 per cent to 10 per cent. The annual cost to the motorist of fitting control devices to our new vehicles is very conservatively estimated at over $50m. When all vehicles are fitted with this equipment the extra annual cost in servicing the vehicles will be of the order of $185m in today’s money and the additional fuel bill will be of the order of $265m, which is a total bill of about $500m a year.
By way of comparison the Commonwealth Government’s total expenditure on roads this financial year will be just $508m. We accept that the increasing affluence of Australian cities has been accompanied by a progressive deterioration in air quality and that a measure of public concern has developed in that our urban atmospheres should not continue to absorb motorised and industrial waste. However, at the same time we must balance our considerations between the effect upon the environment of vehicle emission or exhaust gases and the need to conserve our energy resources. None of us would doubt the desirability, indeed the need, for vehicle emission controls. That is a factor recognised by all individuals or groups involved in the vehicle industry as consumers, manufacturers, importers, dealers or retailers. What is necessary is that time be given to manufacturers to develop a vehicle emission control system that both reduces the level of pollutants emitted and either reduces or retains present fuel consumption levels. A balanced policy should be adopted by all governments, both State and Federal, whereby manufacturers are assisted and encouraged to proceed along this path rather than forced into adopting new rules, with a detrimental effect upon energy conservation.
At its February 1978 meeting the Australian Transport Advisory Council agreed to defer until 1979 any decision to recommend to individual State and Territory governments the imposition of more stringent laws limiting automobile emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen- as per ADR 27A. In addition, lead emissions controlled by State regulations in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, and also in Victoria and Tasmania, can be altered at any time under the State clean air Acts. One of the major difficulties in dealing with the general issue of vehicle emission controls and standards is the spread of portfolio responsibilities, particularly at the State level. Departments of transport, environment, energy and health can be or are often involved. In some States the main responsibility associated with vehicle emissions is exercised by environmental authorities while in other States the transport authorities exercise the responsibility.
There is an inadequacy in the advisory structure which exists within the Federal and State governments for advice on vehicle emission controls. There are often overlapping charters in these bodies which can lead to conflicting advice being given to Ministers at both the Federal and State levels. It is imperative that the Federal and State governments adopt a national energy conservation policy with a balance between environmental and fuel economy requirements. One State should not unilaterally adopt its own harsh standards of emission control even though it may have the constitutional power to do so.
It is not at all clear that sound scientific evidence exists as to the deleterious health effects on which to justify the introduction of costly emission controls. We are not aware of any work that has established a causal relationship between carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen, or lead, and health risks at measured levels of these pollutants in Australian cities. Nor is it clear, despite some unsupported statements, what the contribution of motor vehicles is to the total levels of these pollutants. For example, the overall contribution of the automobile to United
States air pollution was recently estimated to be only 4 per cent.
Whilst acknowledging that photochemical smog has proven health and minor property risks, at greater than existing levels of pollution in Australian cities, its formation is not well understood and, more crucially, the effect of reducing vehicle emissions on the formation of photochemical smog is not established. In fact, for more than a decade, and as recently reported in the United States study, it has been alleged that the reduction of certain hydrocarbons emitted by vehicles will, under conditions common to a number of United States cities, increase photochemical smog. I should add that the brown haze sometimes seen over Sydney, for example, may not be photochemical smog, and neither is its chemical formation properly understood.
Implicit in these comments is criticism of the World Health Organisation pollution goals, originally set in the 1950’s, and also the National Health and Medical Research Council recommendations on lead, both of which are based, it would appear from the literature available, on tenuous scientific assumptions which need careful re-examination to determine their applicability, in view of changed economic and technical circumstances and in the light of new evidence, particularly to Australian demographic and meteorological conditions. The World Health Organisation has recently, in 1977, reviewed its recommendations on air quality goals. This implies a substantial relaxation from its original targets. In addition, the National Health and Medical Research Council is at present reviewing its earlier recommendations on lead. Whilst the proven benefits of emission controls are small and the alleged substantial benefits questionable, the costs are very real and are a major drain on the nation’s limited resources. It is also clear that the total costs of such emission controls, both to individuals and the nation as a whole, have been looked at with less than great care, particularly now that we have been jolted into the real world of impending liquid fuel shortages. In this situation the efficient use of a barrel of oil will be critical to the economic survival of this country.
Any proposal which would reduce the usable energy output of a barrel of oil by, for example, increasing the energy input in refining or the energy cost of the nation ‘s transport is a proposal to the detriment of Australian society as a whole. Whilst it is most desirable that fossil fuels should not pollute our atmosphere, it is essential that mobility and accessibility of goods and passengers is maintained and improved. There is no alternative technology available in the foreseeable future to provide the mobility that liquid fuels can, and no amount of wishful thinking is going to alter this fact. The consumption of energy resources in Australia must now be given priority over aims of further reducing motor vehicle pollution. Studies and investigations conducted by the automotive industry recognise the national importance of energy conservation. Vehicle manufacturers have shown a willingness to set themselves mandatory fuel consumption reduction targets. This indicates an awareness and desire to meet the public demand.
Even if emission controls do have a sound basis in substantial proven benefits, which they do not the problem is confined to a few square kilometres in the centres of our larger cities, and all motoring Australians living and working outside those areas are asked to pay for a problem which is theirs neither in manufacture nor consumption. Motorists from all over Australia are carrying this heavy cost day in and day out for the benefit of those who live and work in the centres of metropolitan Melbourne and Sydney, and even then possibly to help ease a problem which exists for a very few days in the year. The imposition of these emission controls is, in the main, a direct result of traffic congestion caused by poor inner-city traffic management and a lack of* efficient trans-central business district traffic networks. For example, recent surveys suggest that approximately 60 per cent of Sydney’s central business district traffic is transitory. Thus the provision of efficient trans-urban road networks could well remove any perceived need for those controls already introduced and certainly forstall any need for stricter emission controls in the future. In addition, the savings in previous energy reserves would be enormous. One dramatic example is that over 40 per cent of fuel used in Melbourne’s city centre is consumed when cars are idling.
If common sense prevails ADR27A will be reviewed by the motor industry and environmental interests as a whole. If common sense prevails, time will be allowed for ADR27A to become fully applied and fully effective without the community being prematurely plunged into further expensive and fuel hungry measures. I commend this matter of public importance to this House, this Parliament and every State parliament in Australia.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate (on motion by Mr Morris)- by leave- adjourned.
– by leave- I thank the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris) for his cooperation in allowing me to make this statement at this time. I have a problem in regard to a Cabinet meeting. I wish to inform the house of the next step that will be taken towards the acquisition by the Government of tactical fighter aircraft to replace the Mirage. Honourable members may recall that in April last year I informed the House of the Government’s plans to acquire new fighter aircraft. In October last I informed the House that operational/technical and industrial missions would go overseas in the first half of 1979 to examine four selected aircraft to ascertain their operational suitability and to discuss the capacity and willingness of manufacturers to satisfy our industry objectives at acceptable cost.
The Royal Australian Air Force project is proceeding as planned. Much information has been collected. That information includes the likely demand from other governments and, as a consequence, the production prospects for the aircraft we have short-listed. Development of the aircraft which are being considered by the RAAF has also been progressing. The development of these aircraft is in various stages. The General Dynamics F-16 has now started to enter service with the United States Air Force. The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 and the Dassault Breguet Mirage 2000 have reached the test flying stage. The Northrop F-18L, a proposed derivative of the F/A- 1 8, is not yet a firm program. The government proposes now to send a mission of RAAF specialists and officers concerned with Australian production matters to examine further all aspects associated with the TFF project.
The succession of deliberate steps which I am taking reflects the nature of fighter aircraft technology and the large questions which need to be adequately answered. There has been a revolution in fighter aircraft technology. Designs have been radically changed. Engines are much more powerful. New concepts have been adopted. Flybywire control systems, new non-metallic structural materials, integrated avionics and weapons systems controlled by on-board digital computers- these are but a few of the more significant advances. In our air force they would have to be maintained and modified as necessary in Australia within the industrial and technological resources of the country. Fighters are now of enormous complexity compared with those we have already operated in Australia. I interpolate at this stage that the first aircraft brought into the inventory of the RAAF cost £900 and the engine cost £300. That is some indication of the change in costs.
Our strategic and geographic circumstances differ in many respects from those of the countries for which the aircraft have been primarily designed. Roles here will differ from roles in Europe or North America, and weapons fits may also differ. The new fighter should have high performance capabilities not only in its principal roles of air defence and air combat but also in air-to-surface roles. It should have the ability to carry a heavy load of munitions over large distances in adverse weather, and to strike surface targets accurately with stand-off precision weapons. The selection of such an aircraft from what is available or in prospect must be made with great care. The evaluations will call for many different professional skills. Each aircraft and accumulated flight and design data and onboard and ground based systems will have to be examined in scrupulous detail to determine how, and at what cost, they could meet our particular needs.
The evaluation team will be led by Air ViceMarshal H. A. Hughes and will include experienced fighter and test pilots, engineering specialists in the wide range of technical disciplines involved, and officers experienced in supply, logistics, and costing. It will comprise 13 people and be overseas for about two months from 29 March. This operational/technical team will probe and assess the claims made by manufacturers. It will examine the hardware and test fly aircraft. It will discuss with other armed services that are actual or potential users of the aircraft their view of roles, methods of operation, and what is involved in maintaining serviceability.
We must also plan for the parallel advances that will have to be made in Australian industry. The new technologies of the fighter will have to be learnt and practised in our industry so that local production and servicing capabilities will be available of the kind that I have indicated. My Department, working closely with the Department of Productivity, has explained to contending manufacturers the need for arrangements that place a continuous program of relevant work in Australian industry at reasonable cost. Proposals to achieve this have been sought from the manufacturers.
A team led by Mr G. J. Churcher, a senior officer of my Department, having substantial aircraft production experience, responsible for industry matters, will go abroad in mid-April. This team will comprise five people, including specialists in the various fields of aircraft engineering, manufacture and maintenance. It will draw on the extensive background already acquired by the major Australian aircraft firms, each of which has recently made visits to overseas manufacturers’ plants. The industry team will work in close collaboration with the operational/technical team and follow up matters arising in its investigations.
After both teams return to Australia there will be a necessary period of consultation and assessment of information by the RAAF and the Department of Defence in concert. Recommendations will be brought forward for government consideration later in 1979 with a view to negotiation of a satisfactory contract as soon as practicable thereafter. We shall reduce the list of contenders to a single aircraft as soon as practicable. When that will be feasible will depend on what our RAAF mission tells us about the aircraft and their weapons, and our industry mission tells us about the prospects of an adequate offer by the various overseas manufacturers to Australian industry. I shall inform parliament of the Government ‘s conclusions thereon.
I remind honourable members that we shall be relying on this new fighter until the early part of the twenty-first century. The Government is determined that this important and costly element of our Defence Force will be the product of meticulous, timely and thoroughly professional evaluation.
-by leave-The announcement by the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) is not unexpected. It is part of the progression towards the final selection of the tactical fighter force aircraft which will ultimately take over the role being performed by the Mirage. This process is becoming more extended as we near the final choice. A number of factors concerning the total air defence capacity of the Royal Australian Air Force, and to a lesser degree the Royal Australian Navy, will directly affect this decision and the total air defence capacity of Australia. I do not think that anyone inside or outside this House would seriously suggest that our air defence capacity can be neglected or that it is at the moment, of a nature which we would look upon as satisfactory. As a front line fighter aircraft the Mirage will have to perform that role at least until the mid-1980s and possibly until the late 1980s. The Minister mentioned some time ago that the Government was investigating and inquiring into a means by which the Mirage could be updated or modified in order to bring about its more efficient use over the extended period for which it will be required to be a front line aircraft.
It was initially proposed that at least three squadrons of new aircraft would be purchased for the RAAF. We anticipate that at this stage the initial order will be about one squadron. It is not unreasonable to assume that the aircraft which was dropped from the short list was dropped because it was highly unlikely that its availability would extend over the period during which we would be looking to second or third orders, if such orders were ever placed.
A very substantial financial commitment is involved- at least $500m in the initial stages. Any repeat orders most likely will be at increased costs if price escalations continue, as one would imagine they will. There is no historic evidence to suggest that they will not. It is also difficult to see a situation developing whereby the second order for aircraft in this field will be placed in the next 10 years at least. This will leave us with a situation whereby we will have a potential of some 25 front line aircraft going into the 21st century, to use the Minister’s words. Irrespective of the capacity of the aircraft, it is not a significant force. It is a force that has to be looked at against the background of the Mirage aircraft dropping out of effective operations not long after the completion of the orders. One would anticipate that the orders would be placed at some time in late 1981, and that the deliveries would be completed some years thereafter, depending on the aircraft, its stage of production and what orders were ahead of the Australian order. It appears unlikely that the F16 aircraft will fit the category by the time the orders are placed because of the ‘like of type’ criterion, even though it may meet all other criteria. There appears to be an FI 1 1 type of arrangement here whereby we are in fact looking at a situation in which three of the four aircraft, two of them being of the one generic type, are in fact drawing board aircraft which are just going into the testing phase. So a considerable time lag is involved before such aircraft become realistic production aircraft.
The total concept of Australia’s air defence includes the maintenance or development of existing aircraft to a capacity which will ensure that in the short and long term we have adequate air defence. There is no mention in this statement of the results at this stage of the investigations of the Mirage aircraft which the Government indicated would be undertaken. Therefore we do not know at this stage whether the Mirage will remain substantially at its present capacity or whether that capacity will be increased considerably. There is a proposal at the moment for the FI 1 1 to be given reconnaissance pods. Four of these aircraft are to be sent to the United States. But a far more significant decision has to be made in the near future relating to the electronics of that aircraft, which are now not compatible with modern weapons systems and which could add to the capacity of and obtain from that aircraft its absolute maximum strike capacity, which is very great but which at the moment is not available to the Australian forces. I understand that the cost of such a conversion would be of the order of $ 100m. So that also is a major decision which has to be made by the Government in the not too distant future. If the Government intends to proceed to a three-squadron situation, the amounts of money involved will have to be made available fairly quickly and most likely would have to be offset against adaptions and changes which could be made to the rest of the air defence force.
I now find myself more in tune with what the Minister has said about the requirements of an aircraft of this nature. It is absolutely essential for Australia’s defence, given the numbers of aircraft that we are likely to purchase, that this aircraft not have exclusively air to air superiority but have very substantial air to surface capabilities, especially air to surface capacities in the maritime sense. It must have capacities for dealing substantive blows to an enemy force that is other than an airborne force. I think the realities of Australia’s situation are that that is a highly likely requirement. The small number of aircraft involved and the obvious situation whereby we are not likely to be purchasing another type of aircraft in the near future would require that we get the maximum utility value out of the aircraft we are purchasing.
This is a very large purchase. It is one which has been under consideration actively since 1973, which is when staff requirements were first put forward. They have been altered substantially because of changed circumstances since that time. We have at least to consider the fact that some of the delays are being caused by economic considerations whereby the choice of the aircraft has been delayed so that a type jump can take place and the aircraft, as with the FI 1 1, can serve both a political and a military purpose over a very long period. At this stage the Opposition has nothing to say about the choice or the aircraft. Certainly insufficient information and data are available. But we would expect a fuller statement to be made by the Minister in the not too distant future on the total development of Australia’s air defences.
-The subject of the matter of public importance, that is, the implementation of effective motor vehicle emission control standards, is of critical importance to the health and well-being of millions of Australians who reside in our cities. The thrust of the.argument of the honourable member for Indi (Mr Ewen Cameron) was that because the Implementation of Australian Design Rule 27a involves increased effort and expenditure by some foreign-based motor vehicle manufacturers and because those manufacturers have been tardy in providing for ADR27A’s implementation, they should be given more time to improve engine designs before the next stage of the implementation of emission control standards takes effect. The acceptance of such a proposal would be at the expense of the health of the millions of Australians who reside in the metropolitan areas. The Opposition rejects the proposition. We will not be party to a proposal which puts the protection of the profit and loss accounts in the balance sheets of foreign-based corporations before the protection of the health of Australian families.
The honourable member also claimed, by way of a rather extravagant use of fuel economy test figures, that emission control standards have caused an 8 per cent to 10 per cent increase in fuel consumption for some motor vehicles. That claim cannot be justified. I will return to it later. The honourable member stated more or less that, after all, only the people in a few square kilometres of our cities were affected by motor vehicle originated air pollution, so why should the rest of Australia be concerned about them. What a ruthless, callous, abandonment of interest and responsibility for the health and welfare of urban dwellers! He was saying, in reality, that the illnesses, impairments and premature deaths triggered by air pollution were not the concern of the insensitive Fraser Government. The Fraser Government’s primary concern is for the protection of the interests of foreign shareholders, not Australian citizens. The honourable member’s brutal words epitomise the policies of this conservative government on many issues.
Let us now turn to the facts of this issue. The timetable for the implementation of ADR27A was determined by the Australian Transport Advisory Council. It is a national transport council; a responsible body that is often chaired by the Minister for Transport. It has existed for well over 40 years. But the honourable member for Indi branded that Council as incompetent, irresponsible and uncaring when he said that a set of American rules had been dumped on Australians. By saying that, he intimated that there had been no investigation or consideration by the Australian Transport Advisory Council of the implications of ADR27A. That is nonsense because vehicle manufacturers round the world have known about ADR27 for many years. Stage 3 of ADR27A was originally to have been introduced in July 1978 and has been set back three times. Such systems have already been installed in cars in the United States and Japan and by some Australian manufacturers, notably in certain Chrysler and Japanese models. The problem of air pollution exists across the suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne and particularly in Sydney across the central, southern and western sectors. In all, Sydney and Melbourne constitute almost one half of Australia’s population, but this Government seeks to abandon the health protection of the population of those cities.
Turning to Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra, one finds that they are already exceeding World Health Organisation air quality goals and have climatic conditions which lend those cities to photochemical smog. In Sydney, elevated concentrations of pollution usually cover a quarter or more of the central, southern and western regions for one to eight hours a day. Let us look at the effect of excessive ozone levels in the atmosphere, remembering that the World Health Organisation recommendation is six parts per 100 million. First, let me say that with ozone levels of 15 to 25 parts per 100 million breathing ability is reduced, especially in people who are exercising or who are sensitive. At 25 parts per 100 million, attacks can be triggered in sensitive asthmatics. At between 15 and 25 parts per 100 million elements of smog cause headaches and eye irritation. Also, ozone is believed to reduce resistance to bacteriological infection and to advance the aging process, which I am sure would interest some honourable members opposite.
What levels are being experienced in some of our cities? In Sydney, on about 28 days of the year, the level is more than 15 parts per 100 million. On about 10 days of the year, the level is in excess of 20 parts per 100 million. The highest reading recorded was 38 parts per 100 million, in 1977. The most dramatic event in Sydney in relation to ozone levels occurred at Sylvania High School on 19 March 1976, when school children were exercising. At the time a reading of 20 pans per 100 million of ozone was recorded. Of those children 13 were taken to hospital with pains in the chest and lungs upon breathing deeply and quickly.
The fact is that this kind of event may occur more often than is recorded but people have not yet learned to associate the presence in the atmosphere of ozone, an odourless, invisible substance, with the attack or discomfort that they are experiencing. In Los Angeles, by way of comparison, the peak ozone reading is about 58 parts per 100 million. Tokyo and Sydney, as I mentioned earlier, peak at about 38 parts per 100 million, but the contradiction is that Sydney is becoming worse and Tokyo and Los Angeles, because of firm, responsible and proper action by government, are improving. Even the Opposition party in the New South Wales Parliament, only a matter of days ago labelled Sydney as the potential pollution capital of the world. That is a title that the people of Sydney do not want, and what flows from that condition, in terms of deleterious effects to health, should not be pushed upon the people of the inner suburbs. In addition, photochemical smog contributes to crop damage and deterioration of man-made textiles and rubber products- damage estimated to have cost, in the United States, between $500m and $ 1,500m per annum.
The argument that has been advanced by the honourable member for Indi that emission controls increase fuel consumption, thus depleting fuel supplies and increasing costs to motor vehicle operators, is both impertinent and fallacious. Fuel economy decreases at the beginning and then improves, as manufacturers respond to the introduction of improved emission control standards. In fact, if we watch the newspapers we see that the major selling point now for Chrysler cars is the 25 per cent reduction in fuel consumption that has followed the substitution for carburation, of the electronic lean burn system.
Let me turn for a moment to figures that have been produced by the New South Wales Pollution Control Commission. The honourable member for Indi referred to a rather selective test of fuel consumption, following the introduction of ADR 27A, that had been carried out by the Federal Department of Transport. However, the sample used was not representative. It covered only 60 per cent of vehicles that were operative and did not take into account the running in condition of motor vehicles, which makes a substantial difference to the fuel economy achieved. Before I discuss those figures I wish to mention, in order to put the matter in its proper context, the major factors that affect fuel consumption. In this regard I quote from a letter to Open Road written by Messrs Johnston, Trayford and Van der Tour of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in December 1978. Referring to the effects of emission controls, they wrote:
We found that over 80 per cent of the variation in fuel consumption between cars could be attributed to car size, whether measured by kerb weight, engine capacity or cylinder number.
If we turn to the figures of the New South Wales Pollution Control Commission we see using ADR27 and the period 1974-76 as a base, that following the introduction of ADR27A a 5.02 per cent increase in consumption occurred. That increase settled down in 1978 to what has been almost one could say, a reduction in fuel consumption. Clearly, what happens is that as vehicles are run in, their performance improves. As the standard is introduced, if there is poor technology in some vehicles, and the sample selected is one that includes vehicles in which the manufacturers have not incorporated effectively designed equipment, that does add to the fuel consumption figure. I repeat, if a survey is carried out it should take into account the condition of the vehicle, whether it is new or run in; if the latter, for how many kilometres it has been run in; also, its weight and whether or not it has had installed equipment of a similar standard of technology. Those factors are certainly the reasons for the very poor consumption figures that have been produced by the Department of Transport in the survey that has been referred to by the honourable member for Indi. The other factor is that small cars are less pollutant and more fuel efficient. Again, that has been reflected in the market-place. In fact, the pressure upon manufacturers to produce a better standard of emission from motor vehicles has brought about a dramatic improvement in fuel efficiency. Liquid fuel conservation must, then, be approached in a responsible way.
I would like to refer very quickly, in the few minutes that I have remaining, to the recommendations of a body that I hope Government members will not brand as irresponsible. I refer to the Australian Environment Council which, again, is a national body on which this Government is represented, and of which all of the States are constituent members. In its report of
January 1978 it gives its conclusions on fuel consumption, as follows:
Any increase in vehicle fuel consumption that has occurred in the period over which emission controls have been implemented is primarily associated with increased vehicle weight arising from model changes and the inclusion -
I stress this- of heavy, power consuming options such as air conditioning, automatic transmission and power steering.
Some vehicle models have increased consumption as the result of the latest emission standards. These vehicles are generally in the heavier weight categories. Improved engine and emission control system design can offset these fuel consumption increases.
Some vehicle models have maintained or improved thenfuel consumption. These vehicles are generally in the lighter weight categories.
The statement concludes:
Removal of emission controls -
That is what the Government is proposing and what the honourable member for Indi put to us before the House suspended its sitting for lunch. He wants deferral which, in effect, means removal. The statement continues: -or making them less stringent, as a fuel conservation measure will not achieve any significant benefit. Such measures will lead to needless deterioration in urban air quality.
There is the substance of what I have been saying, not from the Opposition, not from a group with a vested interest, but from the Australian Environment Council. Moreover, this Government participated in the making of those recommendations.
If we are to deal with a fuel economy problem and the conservation of liquid energy, there needs to be a range of co-ordinated measures to improve fuel economy; there needs to be a specified program for the introduction and expansion of the use of liquified petroleum gas, and for the substitution and greater use of diesel fuel. Attention needs to be given to the possible use of alcohol and petrol mixtures. But where is the Government’s action? As ever, firstly, it is with the interests of foreign shareholders. Its attitude is: ‘Let us defer Australian Design Rule 27A’, as was suggested by the honourable member for Indi earlier.
The other major factor that is involved, as I have mentioned, is the reduction of vehicle weight. Again we come back to effective and efficient engine and vehicle design because that is the area in which the greatest improvement in fuel economy can be made. Consideration needs to be given to the proliferation of fuel-expensive devices such as airconditioning. More attention should be given to the need for a better design for airconditioning units that are less fuel consumptive. The liquid fuel situation will present many problems for Australian cities as transport becomes more expensive and mobility becomes more privileged. If this problem is to be tackled it will require an integrated approach to urban planning and land use, including public transport. This Government, in this year, has slashed funds for public transport by some 26 per cent and by 46 per cent over 2 years. In this year this Government will collect $2.3 billion from motorists in excise and fuel tax. So if the Government is really concerned about the cost to motorists of liquid fuel it ought to be looking at the share it is taking from the community in excise and taxes. It should also look at what it is doing to alleviate the need for people to have private motor vehicles.
-Order! The discussion is concluded.
Bill presented by Mr Malcolm Fraser, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill reflects in legislative form the proposals concerning the construction of the new Parliament House which I announced in November last year. Since that announcement the Government has taken a number of steps in order to get the project underway. The names of the persons who have been invited to form the new Authority for the design and construction of the House have been announced and a number of preliminary meetings have taken place. The panel to assess the competition to select a designer for the new Parliament House has been chosen. The stage has now been reached where soon it will be possible to proceed with the competition. Before it proceeds, however, it is necessary to establish the Authority which will control the design and construction of the new House. The purpose of this Bill is to establish it. It will be known as the Parliament House Construction Authority.
Since 1927 the Parliament has operated in a building intended to accommodate it for a temporary period. The growth of the nation since 1927 has brought with it increased representation of the people and more complex functions of government. As a result the temporary Parliament House has become increasingly unsatisfactory as a working place for members and senators, the staff who service the Parliament and the support services required to operate from Parliament House. From 1955 to the present day successive parliaments and successive governments have considered the question of a new Parliament House. In 1965, a joint select committee was appointed. Its main recommendation was to proceed with the new and permanent Parliament House. To facilitate this it recommended the establishment of a client committee which in due course resulted in the setting up of a Joint Standing Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. For a considerable time agreement could not be reached on a site for that new building. This question was resolved in 1974 with the passage of the Parliament Act which declared that the new and permanent Parliament House would be on Capital Hill. Since 1975, successive parliaments have appointed the Joint Standing Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House, and the Committee has undertaken the onerous task of preparing the users’ brief for the building. With the background of the several reports of the Joint Standing Committee, it has been decided that it is futile to proceed with short term stop gap extensions to the existing building. As was announced by me in November last the Government has accepted the advice of the Joint Standing Committee and has decided to proceed with the design and construction of a new Parliament House with a view to it being opened on Australia Day, 26 January 1988.
To give effect to this decision a powerful and competent authority will be established to undertake and carry out the design and construction of the project. The Authority will consist of a Chairman and five members. Five prominent Australian professionals and businessmen have already indicated their willingness to undertake the task. They are: Sir Bernard Callinan, Chairman, a leading engineer; Sir John Overall, an architect and formerly Commissioner of the National Capital Development Commission; Mr R. Ling, Chairman of Hill Industries Limited; Mr N. Macphillamy, lawyer and businessman; and Mr L. Muir, stockbroker and financier. The sixth member of the Authority is the Commissioner of the NCDC, currently Mr A. Powell.
The persons chosen to form the assessment panel are also men of great experience. They are Sir John Overall, Chairman; Mr John Andrews, architect of Sydney; and Professor Len Stevens, engineer of Melbourne. The Parliament will be represented on the panel by Senator Gareth Evans and by the honourable member for
McMillan, Mr Barry Simon. One further assessor, an architect, has to be chosen from overseas and it is hoped that his name will be announced shortly. The Authority will be a body corporate and in carrying out its task will have access to the skills and expertise of officers of the National Capital Development Commission, other Commonwealth bodies and persons outside the Commonwealth service. The Authority will have an Executive Officer who will be appointed by the Governor-General. Provision is being made for the Authority to engage specialist consultant services to supplement its resources as necessary.
Appropriate statutory recognition is given to the fact that the Parliament is the client for the new Parliament House and the Authority is required to have regard to any advice provided by the Joint Standing Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. That Committee will be the watchdog on behalf of the Parliament and continue the role it has played over the years in the development of the architectural brief. A resolution amending the terms of reference of the Committee will be presented to both Houses when this Bill has been passed by the Parliament. The Authority will of course be under the control of the Parliament and the Bill provides that the Authority must comply with any resolution passed by both Houses of the Parliament in relation to the design or construction of the building. It also provides that the responsible Minister may give directions to the Authority on any matter of policy, but these must be tabled before both Houses and shall not become effective for a period of five sitting days during which time they may be disallowed.
Provision is made for both Houses of the Parliament to pass a resolution in each House by way of authorisation of stages of the building proceeding. The Authority will have paid to it, for its operations, such amounts as are appropriated by the Parliament for that purpose and the accounts of the Authority will be subject to the scrutiny of the Auditor-General. I am confident that through this legislation the design and construction of the new Parliament House will proceed to completion in 1988. The work of the Joint Standing Committee and the nominated members of the Authority, has already set the scene for an architectural competition to select a design.
It is the expectation of the Government that the new Parliament House will be truly the crowning achievement within the Parliamentary Triangle where already we have our great National Library and where the new National
Gallery and High Court are now under construction. It is appropriate that the new Parliament House should become the focus of the bicentenary celebrations in 1988 as is the Government’s intention. The new Parliament House will be a place for the efficient conduct of the parliamentary affairs of the Commonwealth. It will be a symbol of the unity of all Australians. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Morris) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Fife, and read a first time.
– I move:
Drug abuse is a major social problem in Australia at the present time. It is a matter which the Government has addressed as a high priority. The Bill I introduce today is the result of more than 18 months work on a tough, but in the view of the Government appropriate, law to attack the real source of the problem, that is the people who organise and profit from the drug trade. Most honourable members of this House, at one time or another, have had to concern themselves with some pathetic case of human deprivation brought about through the use of narcotic drugs. Tragically, more often than not, these cases involve the younger members of our community. This Bill is a tough law enforcement measure. It is not directed against the victims of the drug traffic for whom we all have the greatest sympathy and concern. Government programs in the health, education and welfare fields are actively seeking to assist these persons. However, there can be no sympathy for the distributors of illegal drugs- the persons who accumulate vast fortunes through this miserable trade and live like kings.
Many of the measures included in this Bill are powerful weapons. The Government has taken the decision that they should be enacted, but only after it considered all possible alternatives. In the circumstances we believe there is no other choice. The drug trade is organised in an unscrupulous and a totally immoral fashion. Profit is the only consideration. To the participants the end always justifies the means. To fight this trade, and fight it within a democratic framework and within the rule of law, the Government needs special powers; powers that are not commonly accorded to law enforcement. This Bill will enable officers of Customs investigating drug offences to seek, in specified circumstances, a warrant for the use of a listening device to overhear personal conversations. These warrants will be available only when there is objective evidence or reason to believe that conversations being overheard relate to persons involved in or places being used for narcotics offences. In particular, the use of listening devices will be directed to investigatory efforts against the organisers of the drug trade.
Until now, the backroom nature of the involvement of the organisers has made investigation, and subsequently proof in the courts, virtually impossible. These organisers have hitherto been substantially untouched by the law. The Government believes that by careful use of a power to authorise listening devices, investigators will be able to break down the walls currently protecting this inner circle. It is also one of the best methods available to safeguard the lives of officers engaged in the hazardous task of penetrating drug trafficking groups through undercover operations. Honourable members should have no doubt that the lives of these men are at risk. The authorisation of listening devices by this Bill is not new to Australian law. At the present time five States of Australia authorise the use of listening devices by warrant in major criminal investigations. Commonwealth narcotics investigators are presently able to be authorised in these States to use listening devices in relation to the investigation of drug offences. From time to time they have been granted such warrants and, I assure this House, with devastating effect.
At the present time, the telephone is used in most major drug transactions in this country. These transmissions are currently immune from the law with the consequence that the telephone is a convenient, quick, secure and legally countenanced technique in the conduct of the drug trade. No more is that to be. The AttorneyGeneral (Senator Durack) is today introducing legislation in the Senate which will authorise, in carefully defined circumstances, the issue of a warrant for the interception of telephonic communications being used to facilitate the commission of drug offences. It is a matter of fact that officers of my Department investigating particular narcotic offences time and again have knowledge of telephone conversations by drug couriers with unidentified persons to whom those couriers report. The Government considers that its investigative resources would be much more penetrating if they could more easily identify these presently unidentified persons.
As I stated earlier, the only consideration of drug traffickers is profit. The trade will continue to flourish while the law protects the property rights of traffickers derived from these profits. In 1977 the Government commenced to attack these profits. In that year this Parliament enacted a law providing for the forfeiture and seizure of certain limited categories of money and goods acquired from drug trafficking. This law has been helpful. In the last year drug enforcement officers have seized monies and goods involved in drug trafficking exceeding $lm in value. But, sadly, by comparison, this is mere pocket money. These criminals are highly sophisticated businessmen with the best possible legal advice. They do not hide their profits in a sock under the mattress; it goes into land, stocks and shares, options, negotiable instruments- in short, into all the instruments of modern commerce.
As I have already indicated, the provisions this Parliament enacted in 1977 have had a significant impact. However, they are inadequate to deal with sophisticated asset accumulations. This was recognised when the legislation was enacted. I am now presenting to this Parliament a scheme designed to deal with sophisticated methods of disposing of the profits of illegal drug trafficking, a process often referred to as ‘washing’. The BUI now before the House would enact a new division into Part XIII of the Customs Act entitled Recovery of Pecuniary Penalties for Dealing in Narcotic Goods’. The essential objective of this extremely complex proposed law is, through proper civil court proceedings, to empower the Federal Court of Australia to order against a person a pecuniary penalty equivalent to the benefit that person received from illegal trafficking in drugs. During this legal proceeding for a pecuniary penalty, it is apparent that there would be many opportunities for a defendant to dispose of any or all of his assets.
Clearly, if the Government’s intention to deprive persons of these assets is not to be thwarted, there must be laws preventing the dissipation of assets for the duration of the proceedings. Accordingly, this Bill contains provisions designed to freeze the assets of persons before the court until the completion of the substantive proceedings. The Government believes that the concept and detail of these measures have not been attempted in this form elsewhere in the world, although it should be noted that other countries have already started to move in this direction- in some cases with the active support and advice of the Australian Government. But the Government has not only been concerned with law enforcement powers. It has equally been concerned with deterrents.
In 1977 penalties applicable to drug offences were substantially increased. That amendment increased the penalties for offences involving drugs other than cannabis leaf to a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or 25 years imprisonment. The penalty for offences involving cannabis leaf remained at a maximum fine of $4,000 and /or 10 years imprisonment. However, since these new penalties were enacted in 1977 a new phenomenon has emerged. Illegal drug importations in vast quantities, hitherto unknown in the Australian drug scene, have been detected. During 1978 several such importations were intercepted. Drugs valued at many millions of dollars- in one case approximately $70m- were involved. In the light of this development the Government considered that it must again, and urgently, review the scale of penalties for drug offences.
This Bill introduces an additional penalty to deal with such large scale drug importations. It provides for a penalty relating to commercial’ quantities of all types of illicit drugs- that is, a quantity of approximately one thousand times the amounts specified in the 1977 legislation as a traffickable quantity. The penalty for these offences is to be life imprisonment without the option of a fine. Life imprisonment without the option of a fine is also to be the required penalty for a second offence involving a traffickable quantity of drugs.
Finally, this Bill seeks to tidy up several important technical matters that are now pressing. First, the Bill amends the present provisions of the Customs Act dealing with personal body searches to ensure that when an internal search is necessary, the responsibility for that search is placed solely in the hands of qualified medical practitioners. Secondly, the Bill provides for a specific offence of conspiracy in relation to drug offences. In addition to completing the natural armoury of offences in this area, the inclusion of this particular offence will significantly improve the investigatory powers relating to narcotics offences.
Honourable members are aware that this Bill is only part of a much broader attack by the Government on the drug problem. In late 1977, in conjunction with four State governments, the Commonwealth Government appointed a royal commissioner to examine the drug problem in Australia. However, as I announced early last year, the Government was not going to await the findings of the royal commission before taking any positive initiatives. The royal commissioner, Mr Justice E. S. Williams, fully supported the Government in this approach. As part of the
Government’s present initiatives the personnel and equipment of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics has been substantially upgraded. Some SO additional narcotics investigators have been added to the Bureau in recent times. Additional Australian narcotics personnel have also been placed in key centres in South East Asia, with the permission and active co-operation of the host countries. Australia now has narcotics officers permanently based in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. In addition, our capacity for surveillance of the vast areas of the north and west of Australia is being significantly enhanced in an effort to intercept attempted drug smuggling into Australia through this region. To complement this surveillance, the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs has recently commissioned a sophisticated communications network providing land, sea and air units with direct contact with key strategic operation centres.
This is a most important Bill in the fight against illegal drug trafficking. The Government makes no apology for its severity. We believe that drug trafficking in Australia has developed in such a bullish manner that we have no option but to face the menace head on, armed with a law enforcement capacity equal to the threat posed. I sincerely hope this Bill will receive the support of all members of this House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Lionel Bowen) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the execution of an agreement between the Commonwealth and Tasmania for a program of native forestry. The program will assist in ensuring the supply of raw material to future forest product industries and we believe will also contribute to the long term industrial development of that State, as well as enhance the environment. The implementation of that program will also assist in alleviating the current unemployment situation in that State. In 1976, the Premier of Tasmania sought Commonwealth assistance to combat unemployment in his State. The Prime Minister commissioned Sir Bede Callaghan, C.B.E., to inquire into the structure of industry and the employment situation in Tasmania. Sir
Bede’s report was tabled in Parliament in September 1977. The inquiry found that Tasmania had problems not encountered in other States. After considering the report, the Government has agreed that it would adopt a considerate attitude to policy making affecting Tasmania. Sir Bede’s report stressed the need for the development of stable efficient industries which provide opportunities for long term growth. It also noted that forestry and its dependent industries were and would continue to be of vital importance to Tasmania’s economy. Forestry was seen as a means of providing worthwhile employment opportunities in both the short and long term.
The Industries Assistance Commission in a recent report on timber and timber products concluded that the forest product industries were generally low cost and efficient by Australian standards. The Government has recognised the potential of the fine paper industry in Tasmania to contribute to the State’s and the nation’s economy in its recent decisions on the protective requirements of that industry. The Government noted that the industry was efficient, decentralised, and with a potential for expansion that would result in both replacement of imports and increased export sales. The Government shares Sir Bede ‘s view that short and long term employment benefits would flow from an increased expenditure on forestry in Tasmania. The Government is aware that forests have value to the community apart from their value for timber production. It recognises that in most cases forests can be used for commercial purposes without impairing these other forest values for very long. It sees particular merit in proposals which seek to increase Australia’s forest estate, especially native forests.
Against this background, the Government viewed favourably a request from the Tasmanian Government for financial assistance for a program of native forestry development. The program approved comprises the establishment of eucalypt plantations on marginal farmland purchased previously by the State, the rehabilitation of forests damaged by fire, and the thinning of blackwood regeneration to hasten sawlog production. The Government has offered to the Tasmanian Government loans of up to $136,000 in real terms for the five-year period which commenced 1 July 1978, on the basis that expenditure is matched by the State. In recognition of the time taken for forestry projects to yield a return on investment, the terms of the loans provide for a twenty year deferment of loan repayments. Interest payable at the long term bond rate is capitalised in this period and repayments of capital and interest at the same rate are made in the subsequent 40 years on a six-monthly basis. The terms are similar to those agreed to by the States and incorporated in the Softwood Forestry Agreements Act 1978, but allow for a longer deferment and repayment period, reflecting the longer time required for the eucalypts to reach maturity. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Cohen) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Nixon, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to provide the legislative framework within which the Commonwealth will meet its 1977 election policy commitment to a joint Commonwealth-State program for upgrading State railways which are part of the mainline network. Under this Bill, the Commonwealth will be empowered to provide up to $70m to the States of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia over the five years 1978-79 to 1982-83. 1 should make it clear at the outset that the nonmetropolitan railway in South Australia and the Tasmanian railway system will not participate in this program as they are now the direct responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. I should add that as far as Western Australia is concerned there have been separate arrangements agreed through the Loan Council to cover the $65m program for the State to upgrade the mainline railway between Kwinana and Koolyanobbing.
Before turning to the provisions of the Bill I would like to provide the House with a brief comment on our approach to this program. The Government’s initiative was based on the fact that studies conducted by the Bureau of Transport Economics and the States showed that the efficiency, capacity and frequency of mainline railways could be improved by strategic investment in critical sectors of the network. I have tabled a number of reports on these studies in the Parliament over recent years; for example, the Melbourne to Sydney Rail Link, and the Melbourne to Serviceton Rail Link. The concept and composition of the program and the arrangements to be used have been extensively discussed with the States at officer level. Final details, of course, remain to be settled by the governments concerned. However, on the basis of my recent discussion with State Ministers on this matter, I do not anticipate any problems in formalising arrangements-
I should make particular mention of one arrangement which although outside the legislation is a very important development. At the recent Australian Transport Advisory Council meeting it was agreed that the Board of the Australian Railways Research and Development Organisation, which includes the railway commissioners from the participating States, would provide complementary advice to my State colleagues and to me on such matters as priorities for scheduling projects. I regard this as an important joint step in furthering a national approach to national issues. Because assistance is to be provided as interest bearing repayable section 96 grants it will be necessary to conclude agreements in respect of the financial assistance to be provided. On the question of loans I should point out to the House that the State governments have traditionally regarded their railways as business undertakings and have themselves provided capital from State sources on an interest bearing basis.
Turning to the provisions of the Bill, clause 3 provides definition of terms regularly used in the Bill. What that clause contemplates as a ‘main railway line’ is a line in the network linking the capital cities of the participating States- for example, Sydney to Melbourne and Sydney to Brisbane. The machinery for declaring a railway line to be a main railway line for the purposes of the Act is contained in clause 4 ( 1). In addition, recognising that considerations of national interest may warrant the provision of assistance to other than intercapital lines, provision is made in clause 4 (2) of the Bill for me to declare other railway lines as main railway lines for the purposes of the Act. Naturally, in exercising authority under this clause, I would be guided by proposals put forward by my State colleagues. Under clause 5 of the Bill the Commonwealth Minister for Transport is empowered to conclude agreements with the States for the provision of financial assistance for approved projects. It is intended that finance provided under this program will be on the same terms and conditions as normal semi-government borrowings. Clause 6 simply states that the financial assistance will be provided to the States in the way set out in the agreements, and clause 7 requires that copies of all agreements be tabled in each House of the Parliament.
As a principle the implementation of approved projects will be a matter for the States. It will be necessary for me to inform this Parliament, in the usual way, of progress on this program and the expenditure of funds. The agreements will therefore involve the usual clauses relating to accounting for expenditure and reporting on project implementation. Clause 8 of the Bill provides that a total amount of $70m will be provided to the States under this 5-year program. However, honourable members will note that $3m has already been appropriated for 1978-79 in Appropriation Bill (No. 2). Allocations in subsequent years will of course need to be determined by the Government as agreements are concluded and in the light of program schedules and the overall budgetary situation. Thus, like other Budget items, program allocations will come under the scrutiny of the Parliament. Clause 9 provides that payments will be made by the Minister for Finance. Clauses 10 and 1 1 contain the usual conditions applicable to financial assistance programs. This program represents a recognition of the concern which this Government has to work with the States to ensure that the railways are upgraded in order to respond adequately to the national transportation task. I am sure we will see significant national benefits flow from this program. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Dr Everingham) adjourned.
Reference to Standing Committee on Public Works
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: Construction of a research laboratory complex for CSIRO ‘s Division of Chemical Technology, Clayton, Victoria.
This proposal is for construction of a complex to accommodate laboratories and administrative and support facilities for the Division of Chemical Technology, which, since 1974, has been housed in temporary accommodation in South Melbourne, Victoria. It is proposed that the laboratory complex be built on a site adjacent to Monash University which was acquired in 1961 for development as a major centre of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation chemical research. The Divisions of Chemical Physics and Mineral Engineering were established on this site in 1966 and 1970 respectively.
The facilities will comprise: Organic and general chemical laboratories; technical laboratories for large-scale research work; prototype industrial process bays for organic chemistry, general chemistry and pulp and paper; workshops and stores; administrative accommodation and support facilities. Provision will be made for on-site car parking and landscaping will complement existing site development. The estimated cost of the proposal at February 1979 prices is $9.1m. I table plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leaveHonourable members will recall that in May last year it was decided that the canteen arrangements for the Defence Force were to be changed. The Australian Services Canteens OrganisationASCO was asked to prepare a rundown program and the Services were asked to propose alternative arrangements for meeting their canteen needs. I am now pleased to inform the House that the Army and Air Force are to get a new canteen service. The new service, which is to be known as the Army and Air Force Canteen Service- AAFCANS-will replace the Australian Services Canteens Organisation, which was first set up in 1959. The Royal Australian Navy Canteen Service will continue to meet the needs of the Navy, but will be independent of the new service. The Army and Air Force Canteen Service will operate as a statutory authority under the direction of the Minister for Defence, as did ASCO. It will be governed by a single board of management which will replace the present Australian Services Council for Canteens and the ASCO board of management.
The new Board is to comprise four senior Service officers, two each from the Army and Air Force; a senior Defence departmental officer; and two businessmen with experience in marketing and retailing. The managing director of the new organisation will also be a member of the board. The Board of Management will be supported by canteen committees at State, area, base and unit levels. These will be constituted to permit effective management participation by Army and Air Force personnel, including other ranks, and a high degree of local operational control at those levels.
The scope of service of AAFCANS will be modified to take account of the generally greater accessibility that servicemen and women now have to goods and services from commercial sources. Customer service will be directed primarily to taverns and food services. Other facilities that can be provided within the resources allotted for those purposes will be offered. Specialist services on larger bases, such as dry cleaning, newsagencies and service stations, will be arranged on a concession basis where appropriate. AAFCANS will take over the operation of the ASCO community store facilities at Woomera. At a date to be fixed the obligation for Navy canteens and Service messes to purchase from the canteen service will be removed although they may opt to continue to do so if they wish, subject to the payment of appropriate administrative on-costs. Reliance will be placed on local purchase and delivery direct from suppliers rather than on bulk buying and storage. This will allow the extensive warehousing and distributive functions operated by ASCO to meet these requirements to “be eliminated and administrative overheads to be greatly reduced.
The operation of the new service will be directed towards the making of profits that will permit the distribution of funds to Army and Air Force units and bases for amenities, morale and recreational purposes. Such distributions will be dependent on the results of local trading and will encourage soldiers and airmen to patronise their own canteens. ASCO staff required for the operation of AAFCANS will be employed without loss of continuity or benefits and those who become redundant will be given all practicable assistance in finding other employment. Redundant employees will be eligible for benefits under the Redundancy in Australian Government Employment scheme- known as the RAGE scheme- and the National Employment and Training scheme and action is being taken to see that contributors to the ASCO Superannuation Fund will not be disadvantaged.
AAFCANS will take over the assets of ASCO to the extent necessary to carry on its new level of operations. Surplus capital funds remaining after responsibility has been transferred will be distributed to the Army and Air Force central welfare funds in suitable proportions. An immediate cash allocation of about $290,000 equivalent to profits arising from trading by ASCO in 1976 and 1977 but not previously distributed will also be made to those funds.
Preliminary steps towards organising the new canteen service have commenced and it will come formally into being when the necessary changes have been made to the ASCO regulations. The first stages of the physical transition from the old to the new canteen arrangements are expected to begin on 1 April 1979. It is not proposed to specify a terminating date for this statutory body as has recently been suggested by the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations. I think the House will agree that this would not be an appropriate course for a trading organisation of this kind whose sole purpose is to provide a required service to the Army and Air Force on a continuing self-supporting basis. Similarly to ASCO the new service will be required to present to the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Finance and the Auditor-General an audited profit and loss account and balance sheet, covering its operations, at least once each financial year.
In conclusion I would like to express my thanks to the many Service officers and businessmen who have served on the Australian Services Council for Canteens and the ASCO board of management. In particular I would like to mention the current Chairman of the Board, Mr G. J. Betts, whose advice and experience have been of much assistance to me in arriving at the present result, I would also like to pay tribute to ASCO which has been the source of over $10m for Army and Air Force welfare programs since it began trading in 1959.
-by leave-The winding up of the Australian Services Canteens Organisation has been very much like Blue Hills. It has been going on now for close on five years. It has come about as a result of a report commissioned by a former Minister for Defence and presented in January 1976 to the present Minister for Defence (Mr Killen). The report, which was commissioned from Sir Basil Osborne, was the subject of a considerable amount of concern among ASCO employees and also among the members of the board of ASCO itself. Both considered that the operations they were carrying out were efficient and should be continued. The Government, some time ago now, announced that ASCO would be wound up. On the occasion of the last statement to this House, I asked the Minister what provisions were to be made for the existing civilian staff of ASCO and especially those who were in remote areas. On the last figures I have ASCO had a civilian staff of 977 employees, close enough to 1,000, more than half of whom were in New South Wales and Victoria. A significant number were attached to military bases in areas where alternative employment is almost non-existent. The type of assistance that could be rendered by the Government for alternative employment would be fairly meaningless. No alternative employment exists.
I note that the service at Woomera will continue. I presume it will continue on a similar scale to the present. It is interesting that the Government has chosen not to accept the recommendation of Sir Basil Osborne on the actual structure of the canteen services. His recommendation, apart from the structural side of it, was that a general service canteen organisation be established to cover all on-shore canteen services provided within the defence forces. The Government has decided to leave the on-shore sections of the Royal Australian Navy as a separate service- it was suggested in the report that they be included in the one organisation- and to establish a joint service for the Royal Australian Air Force and the Army. The Minister has not indicated the reason for that but I take it that it is so as not to disturb the existing arrangements within the naval area.
My concern is still with the employees of the former organisation. Some 1,000 employees will be substantially made redundant. Some will be re-employed. In some instances, and at least one in Sydney, a change in the operation of the service has already occurred. As a result changes in awards and award coverages have taken place. Where employees are in fact being retained union coverages and designations are changing. A change in personnel will most likely take place even though the job still exists. When the Government takes a decision such as this not only is efficiency involved but also a considerable amount of human hardship. These people are dependent for employment on an organisation which the Government for efficiency reasons is winding up. They are receiving only platitudes.
These changes have been planned over a long period. At this stage, according to the statement of the Minister for Administrative Services and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence (Mr McLeay), they are not even in their final form. It concerns me that nothing more than a bland statement which has a less than significant effect on the future of these employees has been made. This matter has been before the Government for five years. That ought to have been long enough for the Government to undertake something more substantive for its employees. A number are casual staff and a number are part time. Some 500 are full time employees. Most of these will be displaced. Few will have alternative employment open to them. I believe that it is the responsibility of the Government when changes of this nature are made- I am not questioning the change; I think the evidence was that the change had to take place for efficiency reasons- to give consideration to the future of employees, especially those in areas where no alternative employment is likely to occur.
– by leave- As honourable members will be aware, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) announced last week that Australian membership of the International Energy Agency had been approved unanimously by IEA member countries at a meeting of the Agency’s governing board held in Paris on 1-2 March 1979. My intention now is to elaborate on the background to that announcement. Australia will now become the twentieth member of the IEA. Its other members comprise Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Government’s decision to seek membership of the IEA was based on a comprehensive review over the last year. Following this, detailed negotiations were undertaken with the IEA over the terms and conditions on which Australia would accept membership. The Government believes that participation in the IEA will bring substantial benefits to Australia and that the terms and conditions negotiated will fully protect Australian interests within the Agency. The IEA was established in 1974 as an autonomous institution within the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development with the aim of implementing an International Energy Programme- the IEP- which is set out in the Agreement authorising the establishment of the Agency. The Agreement, to which all member countries have acceded, encompasses:
The Emergency Oil Sharing System- the EOSS- involving concerted action to allocate oil equitably between member countries, through active co-operation between member governments and the major oil companies, in the event of a significant supply interruption; the holding of required levels of oil stocks to be drawn upon m an emergency; and the introduction of demand restraints in an emergency;
An extensive information system on the international oil market as well as the provision of energy data and analyses;
Regular consultations with the major oil companies;
Long-term co-operation on energy aimed at reducing dependence on oil;
The promotion of relations with oil producing countries and other consumer countries, including developing countries; and
The IEA’s institutional arrangements.
Since the IEA’s creation, agreement was reached in January 1976 on a Long-term Co-operation Program- the LTCP to promote energy conservation, accelerate the development of alternative energy sources, encourage and promotethrough joint energy research and development projects- new technologies for the efficient production and utilisation of energy and to work towards the realisation of the Program. In October 1977 the IEA decided on ‘Group Objectives and Principles for Energy Policy’ which provide a coherent international policy framework to assist governments in the definition of their national energy policies and as a basis for reviewing their policies on an annual basis in future. These basic documents underly the day to day activities of the IEA and set out the principal obligations of membership. I table copies of the Group Objectives and Principles for Energy Policy’ for the information of honourable members.
The review which led to our joining the Agency followed and complemented the Government’s consistent development of Australia’s energy policy. The review identified the very close accord which our own national energy policy has with the policies of the IEA as expressed in its various programs. In joining the IEA, we have achieved satisfactory conditions fully in accord with our national interests. Acceptance of the Agreement on an International Energy Programme and decisions of the Government Board of the IEA is to the extent that these are compatible with Australia’s Federal constitution and our policies on foreign investment, the development, export and marketing of uranium, including our policies with regard to nuclear non-proliferation and our policies with regard to the export of other energy resources. These important conditions were incorporated in Australia’s membership application. I table for the information of honourable members the formal declaration made by Australia on its membership.
Australian participation in IEA activities will therefore proceed on a basis fully consistent with the Government’s policies and with the Federal constitutional system which governs the division of government powers that may be involved in relation to those activities. The Government will consult fully with the State governments and the Northern Territory- through the Australian Minerals and Energy Council- the oil industry and other interested groups on a regular basis concerning Australia’s activities in the IEA. Any legislation which may be required in relation to IEA programs will be formulated on the basis of full co-operation with the States.
The International Energy Agency has developed into the major forum for continuing consultation and co-operation on energy matters between most of the major industrialised nations which are Australia’s principal trading partners.
Whilst at the time of its establishment its principal concern was with the operation of the Emergency Oil Sharing System, the scope of its activities has evolved over time. Greater emphasis is now being given to efforts to develop longterm co-operation on energy aimed at seeking ways to facilitate a smooth and orderly transition away from a world which is over-dependent on imported oil to one based on alternative and diversified energy sources, particularly renewable sources. This is an objective which Australia fully supports.
Furthermore, the only effective means of dealing with the important energy policy issues facing the world over the coming decades is through close international co-operation and consultation in the energy field. Australia’s decision to join the IEA reflects the importance the Government places on such co-operation which forms an integral part of our overall national energy policy. Moreover, Australia is one of only a few industrialised countries which has the potential to remain a significant net exporter of energy during the remainder of this century. This places us in a position to make an important contribution towards the activities of the IEA.
Membership of the IEA offers Australia a number of significant advantages. They include:
Access to on-going comparative analyses and exchanges with other industrialised countries on the whole spectrum of energy matters which could be expected to assist Australia substantially in the formulation and implementation of its national energy policy;
Increased opportunity for Australia, as a potentially major net energy exporter, to demonstrate the Government’s determination to make energy resources available on reasonable terms to its major trading partners and to influence the views of other industrialised countries on energy matters;
Involvement in the IEA’s long-term cooperation activities concerning energy conservation- including the forthcoming major IEA conservation campaign- the development of alternative energy sources, for example, steaming coal and liquefied natural gas, and joint research and development projects;
Participation in the IEA’s Emergency Oil Sharing System, which would offer Australia greater assurance of its particular requirements being met in the event of a significant oil supply shortfall;
Improved access to information on the international oil market and the activities of the major oil companies, at a time when Australia anticipates becoming more dependent on imported oil over the course of the next decade;
Improved insights into the economic, political and strategic implications of the international energy situation as it develops; and
An avenue for fostering contacts on energy matters with developing countries, including member countries of OPEC- the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Benefits will also flow to the States and industry which will have the opportunity to participate in appropriate programs. I should like to take this opportunity to explain to honourable members in some further detail the nature of the obligations Australia is now assuming as these relate to the Government’s existing policies. The export of crude oil from Australia is subject to Government control. In this regard the Government has pursued a policy, established in times of relative international stability in the oil market, that domestically produced crude oil be processed in Australian refineries in order to supply the requirements of the Australian market for petroleum products. This policy will continue and it is the Government’s understanding that, having regard to the current level of Australia ‘s self-sufficiency in crude oil and an anticipated decline in this level in the future, it would not expect that the degree of emergency which the Emergency Oil Sharing System- the EOSS- is designed to accommodate would be likely to require the net export of domestically produced crude oil from Australia. The Government understands that the obligations it would be assuming during an emergency situation would more likely relate to the diversion of occasional cargoes of imported crude oil to other member countries.
On the other hand, as a participant in the EOSS, Australia will be in a position to ensure that its specific oil requirements are maintained as far as possible during an emergency. This is particularly important for Australia’s imports of heavy crude oil, fuel oil, marine bunkers and naphtha which are specifically taken into account in the product allocation and product stream provisions of the EOSS. In certain circumstances Australia might wish, consistent with the obligation it is assuming under the EOSS, to export some indigenous crude oil in order to ensure, through access to suitable imported crudes, an overall balanced supply.
In relation to the IEA’s targets for oil stockpiling, the details are left to the internal domestic arrangements of each country, but Australia’s current oil stocks position is more than adequate to meet the IEA targets. In view of its concern to see that the interests of regional neighbours were not adversely affected by Australia’s joining the IEA, the Government has confirmed that, consistent with its obligations under the Emergency Oil Sharing System, Australia would be able to continue its normal exports of petroleum products to Papua New Guinea, Fiji and other Pacific and Indian Ocean countries and territories in accordance with its historical oil trade patterns.
I should also like to emphasise that Australia’s decision to join the International Energy Agency should not be interpreted as a change from the Government’s long standing policy of promoting contacts on energy between both producing and consuming countries, including developing countries. Rather, it represents a step aimed at developing closer contacts on energy matters with our major trading partners. Australia will continue to take opportunities as they arise to foster closer co-operation with developing countries, including oil exporting countries, on energy matters and to promote a resumption of a wideranging international energy dialogue. The Government has, of course, been active already in promoting co-operation with developing countries at the regional level through the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and we hope that such co-operation will be extended to the countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations in the near future.
I should like to turn attention now to the world oil situation in the light of recent events in Iran and the disruption to oil supplies from that country. There are considerable uncertainties in the world oil position. There is concern about supply shortages, currently estimated at 2 million barrels per day. There are wide fluctuations in spot’ prices, now well above the official selling price of about $US 14 per barrel. Some exporting countries are applying surcharges. Because of these developments supply and demand must be brought into balance as soon as possible to provide stability in both supplies and prices. Regarding oil prices in Australia, we will be calculating on 1 July a price which will reflect the price of light Arabian crude as set by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countrieslast December. Spot prices are not reflected in the price-setting formula in any way. The price was increased by 8.5 per cent on 1 January and is estimated to increase a further 5.3 per cent on 1 July. If the official OPEC price should increase beyond the announced 14.5 per cent increase over 1979, then clearly the Government would need to review carefully the total situation.
At its meeting on 1 and 2 March 1979, the IEA Governing Board agreed that member countries should take firm, prompt and co-ordinated action to reduce their demand for oil. Specifically it was agreed that:
accordingly, each participating country will take short term action by promptly applying effective and adequate methods appropriate to its individual circumstances to-
I make it clear that the Australian Government welcomes and supports this action. The industrialised countries of the world cannot expect oil exporting countries to co-operate in increasing production levels to compensate for the Iranian shortfall unless they are prepared themselves to pursue conservation and moderate the rate of growth of demand for oil. Australia intends to play its part in meeting these objectives. Most of the IEA countries are oil importing countries and the programs they adopt will have the effect of achieving a 5 per cent savings in both imports and consumption. In Australia’s case, however, because we import only 30 per cent of our requirements, and these imports are basically to meet demand for specialised products such as fuel oil, bunker oils and lubricants, which cannot be derived from indigenous crude oil, it may not be possible to achieve a full 5 per cent savings in consumption by this means. Nevertheless, if we are able to increase indigenous production and/or increase the utilisation of existing refinery capacity, we may be able to reduce demand for some imported products, including motor spirit. It is essential that we respond to the call to reduce demand for oil by more efficient use of energy, avoidance of energy consumption which is not essential, and pursue short term fuel switching where possible. We have a sound oil pricing policy which is fundamental to achieving oil conservation. It has been estimated that the current pricing policy will achieve 4 per cent savings in consumption in the short term. The Governor-General in his speech to Parliament on 2 1 February 1 978, said:
A national energy conservation program will be carried out in association with the States, industry and interested groups.
I have just received a consultancy report, commissioned by the Government, to help with planning of the campaign. I will be discussing with my State colleagues in the Australian Minerals and Energy Council this week the early implementation of this fundamentally important national campaign. Within government, I have initiated a review of the scope for energy conservation, particularly in relation to petroleum. The
Department of National Development is working with the Oil Industry Supply Committee to identify options and priorities for fuel saving. The Government is already actively engaged in interfuel substitution projects. For example, the extended automotive use of liquefied petroleum gas has the potential to replace up to 1 1 per cent of motor spirit consumption. The development of North West Shelf natural gas will facilitate the displacement of fuel oil presently used in large industrial markets in Western Australia. Other measures introduced or being considered by the Government in the field of energy conservation include the consideration of standards and regulations covering vehicle fuel consumption which could reduce motor spirit demand by at least 9 per cent by 1987; octane ratings for motor spirit; suspension of the lead phase-down program; deferral of engine emission regulation changes; and collaborative research and planning on standards for improved thermal performance in housing units and buildings.
However, all of these initiatives, which are inherently sound, will be successful only if there is community understanding of the problems and support for the objectives of petroleum conservation, especially in the present circumstances arising out of the Iranian situation. So I take this opportunity to invite the support of all members of this Parliament and to call on Australians as a community to accept the need to change substantially their attitudes to the use of oil and to engender in the community the necessary attitude that there is a better and wiser way to use available oil supplies. I encourage Australians, in the interest of a sound approach to energy policy and to energy conservation, to lend support to individual initiatives on energy conservation. I believe the Government’s initiative in joining the IEA is timely and important for Australia’s future and I commend this statement to the House. I present the following paper:
Australian Membership of the International Energy Agency- Ministerial Statement, 8 March 1979.
Motion (by Mr Hunt) proposed:
That the House take note of the papers.
-The Government’s decision to join the International Energy Agency is a dangerous one for Australia. On the information made available to the Opposition through the speech of the Minister for National Development (Mr Newman) the Opposition must oppose this decision. The International Energy Agency was set up at the instigation of the United States of America to confront the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and to ensure adequate supplies of oil to the United States and the other motor economies. The Labor Government opposed it when it was established and the Fraser Government opposed it in 1976. Now the Government has decided to put Australia’s head into the noose without adequate explanation of the change.
I state now why the Labor Party opposes Australia’s entry into the International Energy Agency. Firstly, Australia is a sovereign country with problems of isolation and economies of scale peculiar to itself and unlike the problems facing the great majority of International Energy Agency countries. Membership of the IEA links Australia with energy consumption patterns that could be harmful to Australia’s best interests. The Minister gives no indication of how long Australia has to remain a member or under what conditions it can withdraw. Therefore it is assumed that Australia is locked into the organisation for the foreseeable future. Secondly, Australia must develop a long overdue energy policy, something this Government has singularly failed to do. By joining the International Energy Agency the Government has largely abrogated this function in favour of taking orders from overseas, or supplementing its energy policy from overseas. The Minister spoke of certain assurances concerning uranium and foreign investment but they are not the beginning and end of an energy policy. We have nothing yet to compare with the Schlesinger proposals in the US. If news reports are to be believed, even New Zealand has a better energy policy than the Fraser Government. The Minister has failed totally to give assurances as to the exact role Australia is to play in international energy matters or to state precisely what responsibilities it has to assume. The irresponsibility of the Minister in this regard is indicated in two paragraphs on page 6 of his statement. He stated:
This policy will continue and it is the Government’s understanding that, having regard to the current level of Australia’s self-sufficiency in crude oil and an anticipated decline in this level in the future, it would not expect that the degree of emergency which the Emergency Oil Sharing System (EOSS) is designed to accommodate would be likely to require the net export of domestically produced crude oil from Australia. The Government understands that the obligations it would be assuming during an emergency situation would more likely relate to the diversion of occasional cargoes of imported crude oil to other member countries.
The second paragraph reads:
In certain circumstances Australia might wish, consistent with the obligation it is assuming under the EOSS to export some indigenous crude oil in order to ensure, through access to suitable imported crudes, an overall balanced supply.
These words form the crux, the kernel, of the speech made by the Minister. Let us look at the dubious phrases it contains:
That is a very shaky basis indeed on which to act. An earlier part of the statement reads:
What kind of assurance is that? I repeat:
It would not expect that the degree of emergency which the Emergency Oil Sharing System is designed to accommodate would be likely -
The emphasis is on the words ‘would be likely’- to require the net export of domestically produced crude oil from Australia.
The Minister gives us no assurance at all. We could be exporting domestic crude from Australia to the northern hemisphere under these arrangements. The statement continues:
The Government understands -
The emphasis is on the word ‘understands’- that the obligations it would be assuming during an emergency situation would more likely relate to the diversion of occasional cargoes -
The emphasis being on the words ‘occasional cargoes’- of imported crude oil to other member countries.
I just reiterate these words:
In certain circumstances Australia might wish, consistent with the obligation it is assuming under the EOSS to export some indigenous crude oil in order to ensure, through access to suitable imported crudes, an overall balanced supply.
What does that mean? What do we take from that? What it means is that the Government does not know what it means. It ill becomes the Minister to make such a speech. I know that the speech was put together by an interdepartmental committee today. That is the extent of the Government’s energy policy and it shows how hard it thinks about these things. This is another patch and fill operation. There are no indications or assurances by the Minister. Let me read from another section of the Minister’s speech. He said:
In joining the IEA, we have achieved satisfactory conditions fully in accord with our national interests.
Well, he could have fooled me. I did not realise that the export of indigenous crude oil and the diversion of cargoes was in accordance with our national interest! Let us look at the countries involved in this International Energy Agency and let us think about how many of them have 70 per cent self-sufficiency in crude and are located in our part of the world. The countries involved are listed as follows: . . Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxemburg, the Netherlands . . .
And the only one situated in this part of the world is New Zealand. Why would New Zealand be in the Agency? It has nothing. The list continues:
Even the Minister laughs; we have flushed him out-
Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
God! Those countries could sell this Government the town hall clock. How could the Government be so silly as to contemplate getting into such an organisation. I cannot understand the Government. The implications of the decision to join this Agency are just not clear cut at all. We on this side of the House just cannot understand how the Government could surrender sovereignty on the basis that it has to this International Energy Agency. The matter just has to be looked atin terms of where our national interest lies. We are pulling our weight in terms of energy. We are not dogs in the manger when it comes to cooperation with other countries in relation to energy. We are exporting to Japan a million tonnes of liquid petroleum gas a year from Bass Strait. We will be exporting 6½ trillion cubic feet of liquid natural gas. These are prime energy fuels. I am not even talking about steaming coal; these are prime hydrocarbons. Steaming coal and coking coal are energy commodities. We are doing more than we could reasonably be expected to do in terms of energy exports, without getting caught up in this little lot.
Let us look at what our joining this Agency would mean to us in terms of the national interest. We have a self-sufficiency in indigenous petroleum of 70 per cent. By the time further exploration takes place in the Gippsland Basin and other parts of the country we will be likely to maintain that level of self-sufficiency for a period longer than that which is currently expected. In addition to that, through a decent conservtion program, we could probably lower demand for various hydrocarbons in Australia if we implement a sensible energy policy. So, for the next six or seven years at least, we do not need to surrender any sovereignty in order to join the IEA because we are doing very nicely. The only argument that we have concerns heavy Middle East crudes, but our not joining this organisation would not preclude us from getting Middle East crudes. If we operate sensibly our own energy policy we will cut down our requirements of Middle East crude. Why would it be in
Australia’s interests to join this International Energy Agency at a time when we estimate that we will be 70 per cent self-sufficient for most of the 1980s. By the time we throw a few more scraps into the ring, our self-sufficiency will increase. What the marginal cost of those barrels will be we do not know at this stage, but they will be available to us. At least we can say that between now and 1989- nine or 10 years out- there is no need for us to surrender our sovereignty to join the International Energy Agency.
I think my predecessor, the former Labor Minister for Minerals and Energy, the late Mr R. F. X. Connor, called the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development the Rich Countries Share The Energy Club. We have been suckered into joining this organisation by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and by the Minister for National Development on the basis of some lofty talk about the exchange of information. But let us get down to the kernel of the matter. The terms of the agreement to which other countries have acceded are set out in the Minister’s statement. It reads as follows:
The Agreement . . . encompasses:
The Emergency Oil Sharing System- EOSS- involving concerted action to allocate oil equitably between member countries -
If we have a lot of oil and the other countries do not, we know what ‘equitably’ means. It means that we lose some. The terms of the agreement continue:
Honourable members know what chance we would have in that little lot-
The third provision of the agreement states:
The introduction of demand restraints in an emergency;
In other words they will put restraints upon our demand situation. While New Zealanders are leaving their cars at home one day a week and we do not have to do so, it is possible under these arrangements that this Government will involve this country in similar arrangements.
I am told that voting rights on the International Energy Agency are on the basis of one’s intake of petroleum. Given the fact that our intake of petroleum is immeasurably less that that of most of the countries mentioned in the Minister’s statement- certainly the United States, the Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Canada and Austria- we would be in the position of being very low down on the list. What real strength do we have in the International Energy Agency in regard to sheer voting rights? I put it to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that we would have very little strength.
We are really locked into this organisation, without being given any explanation of how we are to get out of it. It is all being done on the basis that we should be doing the right thing by the northern hemisphere. When have the countries in the northern hemisphere ever done the right thing by us? I would not mind if, when we went to the European Economic Community, we got a decent deal out of it. Since 1970 its members have been absolute dogs in the manger. They closed the door in our face when Britain entered the EEC. Whenever we approach them in connection with beef, cheese or anything else, they do it again, and they relish being given the opportunity to do it. The beef quotas and trading policies of the United States are designed to suit it. If it is short of beef it lets us sell some more. Unless we offer all the palliatives and panaceas in the world, we cannot sell an extra ton if it is not short of beef. The United States plays the game hard.
Why should we be in the energy club? Why should we be putting our reserves into the ring? What have these countries ever done for us? They have done nothing. The only country that does very much for us is Japan. It is our major trading partner. I would not mind entering into some arrangements with the Japanese because at least they would pull their weight. Why should we enter into an agreement with the United States? The trouble is that our Prime Minister goes abroad and we cannot trust him out of our sight. We cannot trust the Prime Minister when he is wandering around the United States. He would fall for the thimble and pea trick. The result is that on his return he introduces this statement. Ostensibly the statement is that of the Minister for National Development but, of course, he is only the Prime Minister’s Little Sir Echo in this matter. The Prime Minister runs all of the ministries in this Government. The Ministers form only the committee of management of the portfolios. If the going gets tough, in goes the interdepartmental committee as happened on this occasion. We on this side of the House think that this is a damned foolish policy, to say the least.
Let us return to some other things. The Minister also talked about having his own conservation program and under the International Energy Agency arrangements having cuts of 5 per cent in Australian consumption. Well, was it not about time? This Government has been in office for three years. Why is it that it did not have a conservation program in place to enable it to cut that consumption by 5 per cent before it had to join the International Energy Agency?
– You would not want to buy a new Holden.
– That is right. You would not want to buy a new Holden, the way this Government operates. The question is: Why do we have to be in the IEA before there is this 5 per cent cut? If we look at the Government’s conservation program, we find that there are no hard consumption standards for new motor vehicles. Do people think that the Government is going to say to General Motors and to Ford: ‘We demand 21 miles per gallon from your fleet by the middle 1980s’, in the same way in which the United States Congress told all United States manufacturers to cut consumption standards of 14 miles per gallon to 27 miles per gallon in 10 years? We are not doing any of that sort of stuff. We are going to talk about a publicity campaign on conservation! I am not saying that such a campaign is not without merit, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. It is just one of the easy things to do in terms of energy pricing.
The other conservation policy question is that of import parity. Everyone understands that the Australian public will not stop buying petrol because it is $1.14 a gallon. It is a commodity they need. They will have to pay the price. In demand terms, this commodity is inelastic and the public just must pay the price. So in terms of conservation, the effect of” that price rise will be minimal. The Government has done little about conservation in this country. We now find that we have to have a cut of 5 per cent in consumption because we are in the International Energy Agency. All I can say is that this is a very cavalier approach to policy-making by the Fraser Government. Let me just repeat that I was told authoritatively that the Minister’s statement today was constructed by an interdepartmental committee, so what can we expect? It does not even have ministerial scrutiny.
– Are you criticising those who are on the interdepartmental committee?
– There is the mouth from the south trying to get into the act again. There are some other little things -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jarman)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bradfield) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 27 February, on motion by Mr Viner:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This is a Bill relating to offences committed at sea or in foreign ports. The Opposition does not oppose this Bill, which is designed to apply Australian law to offences committed at sea. The law, with certain exceptions, will be the law applying in the various States and Territories. The most important of the exceptions is that Federal customs laws, including laws relating to the importation of drugs, will continue to apply. The Labor Party has always strongly asserted that sovereignty in the off-shore area of Australia lies with the national Parliament and the Australian Government. We acted upon that view by passing the Seas and Submerged Lands Act, which was upheld by the High Court in 1975. That case and certain subsequent cases, in particular Robinson’s case, which dealt with a shipwreck off the Western Australian coast, have raised doubts as to whether State laws can have extra-territorial application beyond low-water mark. We would point out that apart from the question of sovereignty, which cannot be divided between the Commonwealth and the States, it is not necessary to exclude the States from legislative competence. The resources in the off-shore area belong to Australia as a whole; State boundaries are irrelevant. However, not all questions of State extra-territorial powers relate to the question of resources. As a general policy, I think that exclusive powers are unnecessary and undesirable. Commonwealth powers do not need to be exclusive, in view of the operation of section 109 of the Constitution.
It can therefore be understood that the States have taken a keen interest in the subject of offshore rights. This legislation is the result of agreement reached at the 1978 Premiers Conference. Complementary State legislation is to be passed by the States to deal mainly with offences within the territorial sea and intra-State voyages. Clearly, the assumption is that the States have legislative competence to deal with offences on intra-State voyages and within the territorial sea. As to the first, I do not think there is any doubt as to the legislative competence of the States, because of the obvious connection with the State. However, there may be doubt as to the State powers in relation to the territorial sea.
This legislation has been hailed by the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) as a major example of the success of New Federalism. In fact, this method of dealing with crimes at sea has been chosen only because it provides administrative and legislative simplicity. That is not necessarily a virtue. The scheme does mean a lack of uniformity both in law and in the administration of it. Three Australian States, namely, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania have criminal codes. The Queensland criminal code, of course, was drafted by Sir Samuel Griffith. The other Australian States and the mainland States have a mixture of common law and statute law. Between them there is a great deal of divergence. This scheme will incorporate that administrative and legislative lack of uniformity, and in a particular instance to which I will refer later, uses that diversity to work to the detriment of persons charged.
There are two ways in which a scheme for offences at sea, which would provide at least legislative uniformity, could be achieved. The first method would be to apply the laws of a particular State or Territory to all offences at sea. The great difficulty with that would be that it would be almost impossible to get the States to agree on which criminal law should apply. No doubt the Victorian Premier would be as keen to have a Victorian law applying as he is to have the National Securities Commission based in Melbourne. I note that Victoria has passed the complementary legislation, which, as Senator Button pointed out in another place, is about the only thing the Victorian Government has passed in the last two years.
The second method, and the one which I would favour, would be for the Commonwealth to enact its own criminal code. I make the point that it would have to be a comprehensive criminal code, as there is considerable doubt as to whether ‘a common law of the Commonwealth’ exists. A Commonwealth code would not simply provide uniformity in the area of crimes at sea; it would have considerable value as an instrument of law reform, both for the Commonwealth and for the States. Certainly, the Crimes Act is in urgent need of overhaul. Of course, the enactment of a Commonwealth Criminal Code is a long term aim, but it is one to which we should give consideration.
In the second reading speech of the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner), who represents the Attorney-General, which of course is the same speech as that read by the Attorney in the Senate, reference is made to the famous case of Dudley and Stephens in 1884. As mentioned in the speech it is to be hoped that circumstances such as occurred in that case will not occur often. In that case survivors of a shipwreck were forced to kill a young boy allegedly gone mad through drinking sea-water. I might add that there was no evidence as to the insanity of the boy, other than from the accused. The dead boy’s body was then used for food. The particular legal point involved in the case was whether there existed in law a defence of necessity to a charge of murder. Dudley and Stephens were convicted of murder, but were eventually given a relatively light sentence. That expression is used in the question of survivors of shipwrecks, Mr Deputy Speaker.
The provisions relating to the survivors of shipwrecks apply to both Australian and foreign ships that are wrecked. There are detailed provisions in the Bill relating to offences committed on foreign ships, both by Australian citizens and by foreign citizens. The legislation applies to offences committed on foreign ships, firstly, on voyages to Australian ports, or by survivors of wrecks destined for Australia; and secondly, within the Australian fishing zone on ships with Australian fishing licences. There is also a provision for offences committed by survivors of shipwrecks within the fishing zone. The possible point of contention is in relation to the first situation, that is, by non-Australian citizens on foreign ships when they are on voyages to Australia.
The subject of off-shore sovereignty and laws relating to the offshore area, in fact extraterritorial laws generally, has not only caused considerable controversy in Australian politics, as it has particularly amongst members of the other side of the House, but it is also a subject of great importance in international law. We should be careful not to overstep the mark of our jurisdictional competence. We have just passed a Bill dealing with the enforcement of United States anti-trust judgments. We were critical of the fact that the United States obviously was overstepping its territorial competence. The same could happen here in the circumstances I am outlining. That piece of legislation which we passed last evening was, we say, to deal with United States legislation beyond the bounds of international comity and we should be careful not to do the same.
The Negotiating Text of the Law of the Sea Conference is not a definitive statement on international law, but is a text to which Australia is a party and to which we should pay great heed. Article 27 of the Negotiating Text provides that criminal jurisdiction of a coastal State should only be exercised in relation to foreign ships passing through the territorial sea in four cases:
Article 73 of the Covenant gives limited rights to coastal States to pass laws to ensure the protection of their exclusive economic zone. We make the point that by this legislation jurisdiction over crimes within the territorial sea is left to the States. However there is no doubt that State law will go considerably beyond what is envisaged by Article 27. The point of this legislation is that clause 71 (a) (i) applies to a crime committed on a foreign ship en route to Australia as soon as that ship leaves the territorial sea of its place of departure. It allows prosecution in Australia under Australian law for crimes which have no connection with Australia. That is far beyond what the Negotiating Text envisaged. It could result in Australia having levelled at it the same accusation of jurisdictional over-reaching as we have been levelling at the United States of America for its anti-trust laws. It is not enough simply to say that consent is required of the foreign country under whose flag the ship sails. The country of the ship’s flag could well be different from that of the nationality of the accused. More importantly, it places an unreasonable onus on a foreign country to consent or refuse to consent to a prosecution which it considers to be improper under international law. The accused can be arrested, taken into custody and charged and remanded in custody or on bail, prior to the Attorney-General giving his consent. In other words, a foreign national can be treated in all respects as an accused person who escapes punishment under Australian law only because his own country, or that of the ship’s flag, prevented prosecution under Australian law.
This clause may also be open to constitutional challenge. This is not because of the extraterritorial application of the law. There is no doubt that under section 3 of the Statute of Westminster the Australian Parliament has full power to make laws having extra-territorial operation. The question is whether the law falls within section 51 ( 1 ) of the constitution, taken with section 98, or, alternatively, the external affairs power under section 5 1 (xxix) The question comes down to whether the law is a law for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth.
Another difficulty in relation to the prosecution of crime committed on foreign ships is the forum shopping allowed the investigating authorities by clause 7(3), which states:
If the person who committed an act in relation to which the section applies enters, or is brought into, a State or Territory, the provisions of the criminal laws in force in that State or Territory apply, and shall be deemed to have always applied, to and in relation to that act and so apply, and shall be deemed to have always so applied, as if that act had been committed in that State or Territory.
Let us take the example, provided by the Minister in his second reading speech, of a voyage from Manila to Sydney. A person could reach Sydney unaware that there was any question of any offence and be arrested later, when the ship arrived in Perth, because the investigating officers preferred to charge that person under the laws of Western Austrafia. Worse still, the person could simply be taken into another State so that he could be charged under the laws of that State. In other words, one could be charged under a State law which might in no way bear a relationship to where the offence had been committed. That sounds incredible but it is what this provision allows. Under this clause a person can be arrested, charged and remanded, notwithstanding the fact that the Attorney-General has not given his consent to the prosecution. There is no time limit within which the Attorney-General must give his consent. Therefore, the clause allows a quite fundamental denial of civil liberties, by allowing a person to be charged and held in custody for an indefinite period without trial.
The final matter to which I wish to refer is the 1976 Privy Council decision in Oteri v. The Queen. The two defendants in that case were charged with two offences of stealing cray fish pots and tackle in 1974 on the vessel Providence on the high seas approximately 22 miles from the coast of Australia within the jurisdiction of the Admiralty of England. The Privy Council upheld the conviction. The offence happened to occur off the West Australian coast. The Privy Council did so on the basis of two main propositions. The first was that the ship in question was a British ship and the second was that the criminal law extended to all British ships. The ground for deciding that the ship was British was that it was owned by Australian citizens, who were considered to be British subjects within the meaning of the Merchant Shipping Act.
That Privy Council decision, I repeat, is an affront to Australia’s national sovereignty. The Privy Council showed appalling ignorance of Australian constitutional law by saying that ‘The legislative power of the Commonwealth of Australia does not extend to criminal law ‘. If that were true, this Act would lack constitutional validity. Of course it is far from being true. The Oteri case should put the last nail in the coffin of the Privy Council yet, for some reason best known to themselves, some State Governments wish to preserve that particular relic of colonialism.
At this stage I would like to draw attention to an opinion of Mr Maxwell Morley in the Australian Law Journal, as follows:
It is submitted that upon the true construction of the Constitution Sections 71, 73 and 74, the Privy Council (Limitation of Appeals) Act 1968, and the Privy Council (Appeals from the High Court) Act 1975, the prerogative to hear appeals from State Supreme Courts in any matter commenced in a Court on or after 8 July 1 97 5 has been taken away.
That is a pretty sound opinion. It guarantees that we now have, by virtue of our own constitutional powers, the ability to confer final jurisdiction in our own court, the High Court of Australia. However, until there is a definitive judicial statement on the basis of this opinion, the possibility remains of appeals being made to the Privy Council from decisions of State courts.
One of the main reasons advanced for this legislation is the need to overcome the effect of the Oteri decision. Indeed, in his second reading speech, the Minister deemed that this Bill would correct this situation. Unfortunately, I doubt that this is the case. Clause 15 of the Bill provides:
This Act is not intended to exclude the operation of any provision of a law in force in a State or Territory in so far as that provision is capable of operating concurrently with the provisions of the criminal laws in force in the States and Territories . . .
The important words to note are ‘laws in force in a State or Territory’. In the Oteri case, the Privy Council said that the 1799 English Act, the Offences at Sea Act, ‘is still in force in Western Australia’. Therefore, according to the wording of clause 15, the Crimes at Sea legislation does not exclude the Offences at Sea Act of 1799 which, according to the Privy Council, is in force in Western Australia. The Privy Council, however, went further. It said: . . when a new offence in English law is created by a statute of the United Kingdom Parliament it ipso facto becomes an offence if it is created ona British ship ‘.
The effect of this seems to be that the Oteri case, far from being killed by this legislation, has been resurrected by clause 15, provided that it can operate concurrently with State law applying by virtue of that Act. The meaning of concurrent operation is not clear. A person could still be charged under English law according to the Oteri doctrine, be convicted and appeal to the State Supreme Court. However, even if the Supreme
Court upheld the argument that the Oteri nonsense was excluded by the Crimes at Sea legislation the Crown could still appeal to the Privy Council which, given the vagaries of this legislation, in excluding the Oteri doctrine, would no doubt find that it still applied. What we are asserting is that if you state that you wish to apply State law, you should really be saying that you wish to apply that law exclusive of any application of British law as it has been applied by the Privy Council. Then we would have complete coverage and would have excluded the Oteri case.
We hope that the Government will look closely at this matter, because I think that there would be agreement that all offences at sea over which Australia has territorial jurisdiction should be subject to Australian law. The concept of concurrent operation of laws in force in States is undesirable. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill but, in view of the remarks that I have made, asks the Government to look carefully at the issues raised in this discussion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr McLeay) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 7 March, on the following paper presented by Mr Peacock:
The Geo-Political Situation: A Pattern of InstabilityMinisterial Statement, 27 February 1979. and on the motion by Mr Sinclair:
That the House take note of the paper.
-The opportunity to speak late in this debate enables one to examine briefly the somewhat confused state of Government members as they wrestle with the complexities of a revolutionary, and in many ways, threatening world. First of all, the debate has given us the Liberal Party epitaph on the war in Vietnam. The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly) pronounced that when he stated:
The fact remains that even if not one Australian soldier had ever served there -
That is in Vietnam- the circumstances we see in South East Asia today would be basically the same.
It seems to me that if the honourable member for Bradfield is saying, as he appears to be, that Vietnam was not worth the bones of a single Australian grenadier then he and his party are simply belatedly recognising what we have been arguing for over a decade. Secondly, if one reads the speeches one will find an extraordinary bewilderment about the Government’s foreign alliances. The honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter), while waxing eloquent against what he called ‘atheistic communism’ told us and the country that the ‘atheistic communists’, that is, the China brand, ‘have infinitely more confidence and infinitely more trust in a future allied to our’- that is the Country Partyphilosophy and politics than in that of the Opposition’. So here we have the honourable member for Kennedy arguing an alliance between the Government and what he called atheistic communists ‘ of the Chinese brand.
Now while the honourable member for Kennedy was pursuing the links between his Government and atheistic communism, the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) was denouncing the President of our ally, the United States, in terms of quite unmeasured viciousness. In relation to President Carter he used phrases such as: ‘Dormant disaster; latter day Nero; somebody caught with his pants down; and there must be someone smarter than clean old Carter’. Let me say that the President and his administration unlike, I think, any American administration since the Second World War, have avoided the delusion of globalism, that is, the illusion that there is an American solution to every world problem, that every local upheaval calls for American counteraction and that every American client government overthrown by its own people is defined somehow as a gain for Moscow. It seems to me that the present American regime, for all its faults and errors in foreign policy, has realised much more clearly than has any other Government since the Second World War that there is, in fact, not an American solution for every global problem. Indeed the President can defend himself much better than I can. On 22 February he stated:
We need to resist the temptation … to see all changes as inevitably against the interests of the United States, as a kind of a loss for ‘us’ or a victory for them’ . . . We need to see what is happening not in terms of simplistic colours, black and white, but in more subtle shades . . .
That is a lesson that I think the honourable member for Deakin could learn. I think it is also a lesson that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) might well contemplate. That brings me to the glittering superficialities of the Foreign
Minister. When we first read the Foreign Minister’s statement, despite the somewhat grim nature of the events he is describing, it is impossible not to detect a note of relief because international politics have, according to him, turned from international economic matters- of which the Foreign Minister has never had the best comprehension- to the traditional issues of power politics which are now of fundamental importance. Of course, the Foreign Minister sees himself very much as a master of these traditional issues of power politics.
In the Foreign Minister’s speech two dangers are exemplified of that kind of approach. If we give the central place to the traditional issues of power politics we may be led to forget that the threat to the peace of the world and to the security of this country derives much more fundamentally from the gap between the rich nations and the poor, between the developed and the developing nations than it does from the global ambitions of the Soviet Union or the paranoia of China. Power conflicts certainly feed upon these economic contrasts and from the traumas of economic modernisation. But traditional power rivalries are secondary, even parasitic on the destabilising effects of the contrast between rich and poor. That is the first point. We have to avoid being blinded by these traditional power political issues and forgetting what is central to the destabilisation of the modern world.
But a second danger of the geo-political approach is that in welcoming the re-emergence of geo-politics, the Foreign Minister will be carried away by the seductive, but simplistic, visions of grand international strategy which, too often, blind men to the realities of complex local situations. Now, certainly, the Minister’s statement is replete with the misleading jargon of geopolitics. He talks about ‘strategic choke points’, southern rim lands’, ‘interfaces between land and sea power’- all the jargon of the geopolitician. It is certainly clear that the Foreign Minister has been dazzled by the simplicities of grand strategy and the jargon in which it is expressed. It leads one, I think, to particularly unbalanced analyses and one of these is the role of the Soviet Union as portrayed in his comments. Let me take one example of that. To interpret the invasion of Kampuchea by Vietnam as, in essence, the actions of a Soviet puppet is the same order of misinterpretation as was the conservative interpretation of the Vietnamese civil war as part of the downward thrust of Communist China. That was a misinterpretation of the civil war in Vietnam. It is equally a misinterpretation to see the invasion of Kampuchea by Vietnam primarily as the actions of a Soviet puppet. It is about time that we in Australia recognised that Vietnam is no one’s puppet. That does not excuse the invasion of Kampuchea by Vietnam. It does not mean that Vietnam will not use the Soviet Union or that the Soviet Union will not use Vietnam each in its own interest. But if we are to understand and contribute to a solution in Indo-China, we need first to focus on the history, ambitions and objectives of Vietnam and not obscure the central problem by seeing everything through anti-Soviet eyes.
Let me take a second issue. The Foreign Minister rightly noted that all the conflicts he discussed are taking place in Third World countries. But he failed to note that every case examined by him derives from the failures of the Western powers in the decolonisation process. Each of the problems is the direct outcome of Western failure in decolonisation. In nearly every case, the failed policies were supported vociferously by the party now sitting on the Government benches. Interestingly enough, in nearly every case members of that party were blinded by their obsession with the threat of atheistic communism or with geo-political visions about the threat of the Soviet Union. In both cases such visions obscured the realities of the particular local situations. Let us just briefly examine each case. France, the United States and Australia, prevented an orderly decolonisation process in Vietnam and produced, therefore, a generation of war. The United States, backed by the then Liberal-Country Party Government welcomed the destruction of the Cambodian regime of Prince Sihanouk in 1970, the last opportunity to keep Cambodia, now Kampuchea, out of the Indo-China holocaust. In Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe the opportunities for Soviet penetration today are the results of a generation’s tolerance by Western powers, including Australia, of white minority regimes.
In 1953, the Central Intelligence Agency coup against Mossadegh disrupted the whole national development of Iran and imposed an American client and despot on the Iranian people. The conservative government in this country in the early 1950s welcomed that coup which overthrew Mossadegh. Now the client regime which succeeded in the early 1 950s I think has been rightly described as: ‘Despotism, plus blunder, plus arrogance’. It has been swept away by a popular revolt and the best our Foreign Minister can do is to pontificate darkly about: ‘The very distinct limits to what the West can tolerate’. That suggests shades of gunboat diplomacy.
What would the ‘we won’t tolerate it’ school of the Foreign Minister have the West do? It is all very well to make these fine statements about what we will or will not tolerate but what actually can be done in these situations? Is it suggested that we conduct another CIA operation, send Western troops to save the Shah or restore a regime of our desires? Does the Foreign Minister want to send in Western armies to preserve the Pol Pot regime in Kampuchea? Would he have backed diplomatically and militarily the Portuguese regime in Angola? I give him credit for the fact that he has never actively supported the doomed regimes in Zimbabwe and Namibia. These local situations are extremely resistant to intervention by Western powers.
Interestingly enough, at the time the Foreign Minister was talking in the Parliament about what he would or would not tolerate, Professor Schlesinger of the United States wrote a very interesting article on what he called the ‘we won’t stand for it’ school. I think that in many ways he was talking about people such as the Foreign Minister in some of his more militant poses. What he wrote about the ‘we won’t stand for it’ school applies quite well to the ‘we won’t tolerate it’ school. He said:
The ‘we won’t stand for it’ school would dissipate American resources in a policy of shoring up unpopular governments and unstable countries round the world. And it would do so in vain because as our experience must have taught us by now, our hands are indeed clumsy. Our capacity to decide the destiny of other countries is truly limited.
One of the most welcome signs of modern American diplomacy is the growing recognition in American circles that the United States has clear limits on the extent to which it can determine the destiny of individual countries round the world.
What are the lessons of the past in relation to present situations? Above all, we should not exaggerate the global menace of the Soviet Union to the extent that it blinds us to the local realities of Iran, Indo-China and Southern Africa. That is not to say that we need not recognise the ambitions and designs of the great powers. I am simply saying that the great danger is to avoid the kind of geo-political outlook reflected in the Foreign Minister’s speech which blinds us to the local details of the problems in Iran, Indo-China and Southern Africa. If we see the world through the distortions of geo-politics, if we see Soviet plots for geo-political ends as the source of all change in the world, the policy in the 1980s will end in another quagmire as did our foreign policy in the 1 960s. That is the lesson of the past. Let us not perpetrate the same mistakes for the very same reason; that is, let us not allow that kind of geo-political vision to blind us to the realities on the ground.
Finally, I found one particularly perceptive remark in the speech of the Foreign Minister. He said that the Soviet Union ‘is the odd man out among the great powers’. The Soviet Union occupies both a dangerous and a difficult position. In the triangular balance of power between China, the United States and the Soviet Unionone could also include Western Europe- the odd man out at the moment is the Soviet Union. The Minister noted, I think quite rightly, that there is a dangerous asymmetry between the military strength of the Soviet Union and its diplomatic isolation. On the other hand, we should realise the great benefit of that. In a sense the deep and bitter division between China and Russia gives the United States an opportunity to balance. It gives the United States distinct diplomatic advantages. People are crying out about terrible things happening to the United States. The diplomatic position of the United States is stronger today in many ways than it has been for a long time.
What should Austrafia ‘s role be in that situation? Our real task should be to support the use of this diplomatic superiority by the Americans, not to advantage the narrow interests of the United States but to secure the peace of the world. We should ensure that the balancing position America now has is used in the interests of world peace and not in the narrow chauvinistic interests of the United States.
-I was fascinated with the speech of the honourable member for Bonython (Dr Blewett). He seemed to concede that, whilst the United States has lost significant military and economic power in the world, this loss, which is both relative and absolute, has been accompanied by an increase in diplomatic power and significance. He said that the United States should not rest upon a geopolitical analysis of what is happening in the world but on a whole multitude of single instances. That is not true. The advisers to President Carter, both before and after he became President, made a geo-political analysis of what they intended with respect to the world. One only has to look at the workings of the trilateral commission of which Brzezinski, Carter, Vance and so many others were members to realise that they do not see today’s situation as one in which their power has increased. They see it as one in which they have to create alliances because their power has decreased. The evidence for that is totally overwhelming.
It is quite clear that the American strategy in respect of Asia and the West Pacific rests upon an alliance between three powers- the United States, Japan and China. Whatever happens in this part of the world, we cannot ignore those three facts. To sink into the view that all the conflicts and potential conflicts in the world today are in some way attributable to the postcolonial age is historical nonsense. I am surprised that the honourable member for Bonython, who was a very talented academic before he entered Parliament, should have slipped into that kind of argument. An analysis of the world situation is appropriate because it affects Australia. In all the analyses made by Brzezinski- I choose his because he is one of the immense talents behind President Carter- he stated that the alliance depended on the three powers to which I referred. He also indicated that it depended upon the support of a number of sub-imperial powers in the world. Those powers were, sensibly enough, places such as Zaire, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, Mexico and a number of countries in Latin America, including Brazil. What Australia must be aware of is the simple fact that all the analyses made, both before Carter became President of the United States and subsequent to his election, especially since the China accord of late last year, have ignored Australia. That may be a wise strategy on the part of the United States. What I am saying is that we must take into account the reality that in this strategy we count for very little. I ask the House and the people of Australia to bear in mind that we count for very little
Let me give an example. The defence treaty between the United States and Taiwan has been unilaterally abrogated by the United States with the appropriate notice. It was the right of the United States to do so. The words of that treaty are almost the same as the ingredients of the ANZUS Treaty. One can be abrogated as quickly and in the same manner as the other. Australia must be aware of this fact. It is not sufficient for the President of the United States to pat us on the shoulder and say that we count. We count very little. It is like offering a rotting carrot to a donkey. It contains very little sustenance, and Australia ought to be aware of that position.
One or two other points that have been made by the Opposition need to be borne in mind. In relation to Vietnam, the decision by the Australian Government to cut off aid to Vietnam has been criticised very severely on several grounds. It was stated that by cutting off that aid we were reducing whatever leverage or bargaining power we might have in respect of Vietnam and her incursions in Indo-China- into what I call Cambodia but what these days all the clever people call Kampuchea. The reasons advanced for continuing aid to Vietnam need to be considered. A country promotes economic aid for several reasons- either to have influence in a particular nation or to aid economic development in that nation. In respect of Vietnam, it is quite clear that there has been a total alteration in the attitude of the Vietnamese Government towards its peasants. The words that can be read in Nan Danh, the words that have come from the leaders during 1978, sound very much like the words that were used in respect of the Kulaks and the Ukrainians in Russia during the 1920s and the period leading up to it. That helped to destroy the Russian economy for a long time. What is the purpose in giving economic aid if Vietnam is going to destroy one of the very important bases of its economy? That is wasting the very aid that is being given. The Vietnamese are expelling the Chinese middle class- a lot of their entrepreneurs and merchants. When that is put against their agricultural policy, if Australia were to give economic aid for the purpose of helping economic development, it would be wasted.
The second point that needs to be borne in mind is, whether aid is given in order to bring about influence, and that is important. Should aid be given to a country which says quite clearly that it has supra-national ambitions and is on the point of carrying out those ambitions, and in fact was actually doing so in respect of Cambodia and Laos?
– What about their treaty with Russia?
– That is in a wider situation. As usual, the honourable member for Perth is spot on. In terms of the two reasons for which one country gives aid to another, that is, economic development and the transmission of that to the people, or in order to have influence on its policies, neither one can be sustained in regard to Australia continuing its aid to Vietnam. I was very sorry to hear some members of the Opposition and their leaders continue to maintain that quite false and fallacious position. They have learned very little from the events of the 1920s and onwards.
– What about your party’s magnificent record on foreign affairs? You have been wrong every time.
– We are in a constant state of learning. In regard to China, a paragraph in the statement made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) indicated that economic events in China do not necessarily mean that everything has altered, nor has it altered. Economic and trade affairs impinge upon foreign policy today much more than they did in the past. They have a greater influence now than they had in the past, merely because international trade has increased so much. But it would be a mistake to think that simply because a country is modernising its economy, ipso facto its foreign policy alters. It does not. Those two things can be quite different. Consider the case of Russia during the new economic program. Capital goods were required, modernisation was required, a price system was being talked about, a capacity to export was being talked about. Would anybody say now that that new economic program was anything other than an economic program? Would anybody say that it accompanied or could have caused an alteration in basic Russian domestic or foreign policy during the 1920s or the 1930s or the 1940s? Nobody in his right senses would say such a thing. I suggest that when one considers that point one has to make the distinction. It is an economic program; it is not a foreign policy.
Very often when I consider China I ask myself what are the precise points in terms of foreign policy it has surrendered. It has not surrendered very much. In terms of North Korea versus South Korea, Deng Xiaoping has not retreated one centimetre from China’s traditional support for North Korea vis-a-vis South Korea. In relation to Taiwan, China has not surrendered its aim to take Taiwan by force if it needs to. In respect of support for insurgency movements in IndoChina, Thailand and Malaysia, China was asked to desist from broadcasting support to the revolutionary groups in those countries. It has said that it will not do so and it has not. I hope that members of the House and the people will make the distinction between an economic program and an aim of foreign policy and weigh them in the balance one against the other. Also included in that balance is the simple fact that in this part of the world Australia has very few alliances of significance. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics does not give any foreign aid as such. That is another truth of which I hope the House and others will be reminded.
During the few moments left to me I want to make an objective case for relations between Australia and Taiwan because I think they are important. I believe that we ought to maintain relationships with as many countries as possible. We ought not to desist from them if they can be of any value to this nation. After the recognition of Peking in late 1972 the former Government, in a most obsequious manner- more obsequious than almost any other country in the worldwithdrew recognition of Taiwan. That was a foolish and stupid action and it has hindered Australian trade. It has hindered our international current account, which is our greatest economic problem. I suggest that Australia should have a mission in Taiwan in the same way as Japan, the United States, the Philippines and Thailand have missions. Each of those countries has a mission in Taiwan supported by public funds. In some cases they have ex-ambassadors who are retired merely for the period that they happen to be in Taiwan. Once they leave Taiwan they are put on the active list again without any loss of rights. The Japanese have done that for years and the United States is going to do it.
– Why doesn’t your Government doit?
– That is the point I am coming to. Our Government should do it, but it is difficult to overcome the quite obsequious manner in which diplomatic recognition was extended to Peking in late 1972 and early 1973 -a much more obsequious manner than that of any other nation. The United States is going to have a mission in Taiwan, with the same public funding that applied to its previous diplomatic mission. It is going to have a similar number of personnel and it may even have its diplomatic personnel in charge, as it did in the past. Such a mission will aid United States trade and cultural relations. I suggest that Australia ought to be able to handle its affairs in the way that it wishes, that is, for its own benefit and not to suit the requirements of another nation. I do not believe for one moment that mainland China would put an embargo on what we ought to be able to do legitimately. Were she to put on an embargo we would ask, quite legitimately, why we had been singled out for attempted intimidation. I do not believe that China would do that, and certainly it is not in a position to do that today.
I know that you are interested in these matters, Mr Deputy Speaker. I suggest that Australia has to take account of the realities of the world, of the new American strategy in Asia, and realise that we are far more on our own than we have ever been. We should build bridges wherever we can. If they are political bridges we should build them. If they are economic and trade bridges we should build them when we can. In respect of that last matter, I would like to make two points. Taiwan must be considered, and guidelines ought to be drawn up in respect of the trade relationships now being pursued between Australia and China. If that course is followed this country will achieve the significance it deserves. If that course is adopted we will not be burying our heads in the sand. We can take account of a situation which we have interpreted for ourselves but which above all we do not see as a whole multitude of single unconnected instances. World politics and foreign policy have never gone according to those precepts.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jarman)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-On this subject of the current geo-political situation, if one studies the statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) one finds that quite clearly this Government has no vision. There is regrettably no infrastructure by which the Government must make meaningful and necessary assessments in the interests of this country. My attention has been drawn to an excellent address entitled ‘Towards a British Role in Foreign Affairs’ by Humphrey Trevelyan which states:
An examination of our foreign policy will . . . start from the premise that British policy should serve British interests. This is not a purely selfish concept. It is a British interest, for instance, that the peace should be secure, that the strong should not gobble up the weak, that international disputes, even if they cannot be settled, should at least be talked over until the danger point is passed, that atomic weapons should not get into the hands of any country which might be tempted to use them, that the nuclear balance should be firmly maintained, that relations between the capitalist and countries should become gradually easier . . . a citizen of the United Kingdom cannot forget that he is also a citizen of the world and that this shrinking world ‘s interests are his own.
To be effective our policy should of course be founded on a clear understanding of the world as it is and on an objective assessment of the balance of political, military and economic forces, not on sentimental recollections of a vanished past.
That could well be applied to Australia in relation to the question of foreign affairs. I suggest that any debate on foreign affairs over the last decade obviously must have considered the energy equation and just how critical that is in geographic and strategic terms. Those areas obviously include the Middle East but more importantly I think they would certainly include the Persian Gulf or what the Americans refer to as the north-west quadrant. Whether we like it or not oil is now the world’s residual supply of energy. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries is basically the residual supplier of oil. What does not come from coal, nuclear power and natural gas or whatever exotic forms of energy that emerge must come from oil or it will not come at all. Just how critical are the political, economic and strategic considerations of the
Middle East? If one takes the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz one will find that with Iran on one side and Oman on the other it could easily be blockaded by any particular military force on either shore. The availability of crude oil for industralised nations of the free world will depend- undoubtedly it does now- on an independent, friendly Oman or Iran. Beyond question this perhaps is the most strategic waterway in the world.
Let me again turn to the question of political considerations that must be taken into account quite apart from the economic impact of the region itself. Indeed, Saudi Arabia over the last decade, unquestionably because of its stature and policies, has played an extremely decisive role. Last year authoritative reports indicated that the Saudis were extremely concerned about the Camp David agreement. They thought that Sadat was giving up everything and getting nothing. According to Press reports of Americans close to the Saudis they were unhappy with the trend of events in their region in the Horn of Africa. Their fears so far as Iran were concerned were indeed well founded. A revolution has occurred. They are scared stiff by the Soviet attempts to dominate the Horn, particularly after the successful Soviet intervention in, for instance, Afghanistan. I share the same concern. These changes are significant. The Saudis failed to prevent significant oil price increases. They had been successful in blocking such rises over the last 2 years. The current 14.5 per cent rise was a particularly bitter pill for the United States to digest.
The price of oil has not been increased in 18 months, while the dollar upon which the Saudi revenue is based has fallen quite markedly. The unrest in Iran which curtailed production forced the Saudis to produce at the maximum rate, thereby removing the lever they had used successfully before to forestall large increases, while the Saudis may have blocked still larger increases as well as proposals to abandon the dollar as a pricing mechanism. I think it is not unreasonable to take into account another equation in dealing with the economic and political strategies that can be used by the OPEC countries on the world economy, particularly the West. Let us just take the question of whether the oil weapon has lost its clout. Saudi Arabia had managed to keep prices frozen for 18 months but the recent events in Iran obviously changed this scenario. The industrial world’s inflation rate during that period as well as the devaluation of the dollar has, in effect, brought down the price in terms of constants to about $11 a barrel compared with the official rate of $13.30. Arab States- we ought to remember this point- produce 60 per cent of OPEC oil and 39 per cent of the world’s oil supply, excluding the Soviet Union or, if one likes, the communist bloc.
In December 1976 the Saudis split the cartel by refusing to raise its price by more than 5 per cent. Sheik Yamani warned the West dramatically that the extension of the favour depended on suitable changes in Western policy in the Middle East and in relations between the developed and the developing countries. It was a sign that we ought to have taken into consideration. In terms of money and political aims only Kuwait, Libya and Saudi Arabia remain in a position of capital surplus according to the World Bank figures. This is another factor that we ought to take into consideration. Other countries have fully committed their earnings. The Arabs are divided amongst themselves on political and economic policies. This is a matter we ought to examine. The list of Arab members of OPEC reflects that division. Algeria, Iraq- Iraq seems to be getting out of the Soviet Union orbit- Kuwait, Qatar and the Emirates are closely tied in influence to Saudi Arabia. Libya, I must confess, clearly has enough money to promote trouble but has not, as I understand it, enough money to shape policies.
Another equation to be taken into account in that assessment is that non-Arab oil in the world market is increasing. We must take this factor into consideration. Non-Arab oil members which share the overall economic interests of the Arab producers and not their specific political interests obviously are Equador, Gabon, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria and Venezuela. The way things are going in the world of Islam and especially the way things are going in Iran, it may come to matter that the populations of Iran and Indonesia are also Moslem. Nigeria’s population is half Moslem but so far it has not affected how these important producers stand on the Arab-Israeli issue; it may later.
These non-Arab exporters produce 40 per cent of the world cartel’s oil and 25 per cent of the world’s oil supply. Countries outside the cartel produce 36 per cent of the world’s supply of oil, almost as much as the Arabs do. They are Mexico, Norway, Britain, the United States, Canada and the Soviet Union. In future it is expected that contributions will be made from Argentina, Egypt, India and China. I stress that they might not wind up as significant exporters. That is not nearly so important as their production rate because if they fill their own needs obviously it takes the pressure off the world market. Nonetheless, the Arab producers play a crucial role. They are the trend setters. I suggest that there is no absolute guarantee that non-Arab producers will always deliver. As the head of the International Energy Agency pointed out, most people, I regret to agree, have little idea of the fragility of the global supply system. It was threatened twice last year and neither case had anything to do with politics. The first threat resulted from a fire in the Saudi Hills which eventually was contained. The second threat, which is yet to be contained, is the interruption of Iranian production. In both cases other suppliers increased their daily output. This balancing mechanism has been effective but, I regret to say, it has been delicate and critical.
Let me turn to the question of prices. Analysts now assume that prices set by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries will begin to rise as rapidly as inflation and more rapidly in the early 1980s. They are already commencing to do so. Sheik Yamani said, not so very long ago:
Unless oil prices are permitted to grow gradually in real terms throughout the rest of the century another sharp price increase is inevitable by the end of the 1 980s by reason of the supply shortfall that is likely to have occurred by that time.
What no one knows is how large the OPEC prices may get in the 1980s or how easily the West, in particular, will absorb them. Price increases now also occur in a different climate. We now have high inflation and anxiety over the long term availability of adequate energy supplies. This is a formula for economic stagnation. Any sizable price increases simply make the situation worse. Equally unclear is the political impact of a gradually tightening oil market.
If world oil has recently been dominated by economics, price, supply and demand, some specialists now believe that political considerations could re-emerge in the 1980s. Undoubtedly they are already emerging. Industrialised countries would be placed in a very precarious position. Their well-being could be affected not only by decisions in Saudi Arabia but by a host of imponderables upon which we ought to reflect. There could be a natural disaster, an accident or a terrorist strike in the oilfields or in the narrow straits leading to the Persian Gulf. I am referring to Iran and Oman. There could be growth of Soviet presence in the region, some new twist to the Arab-Israeli conflict, a struggle for pre-eminence among Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Iran, a shift in the outlook of the elite that runs the Saudi kingdom or, and this is a very real danger to which Western officials prefer to close their eyes, a coup in Saudi Arabia and the accession to power of a radical like Libya’s Gaddafi. A Gaddafi in the Arabian Peninsula is not likely to be constrained. A Saudi Gaddafi might well follow the same irrational pattern. The coming to power of such leadership in Saudi Arabia would create tremendous repercussions throughout the world. One only has to reflect on the recent crisis in Iran, which is the No. 2 OPEC producer, or imagine a crisis in some other key country in the region to come to grips with just how serious the consequences could be.
Let me make two or three constructive observations. One of the most curious features of the past few years has been the failure of consuming countries and this Government to recognise that the inevitability of industrial change does not absolve them from the responsibility of making sure that change will be as painless as possible. There are the strongest reasons why the oil consumers should re-examine their policies on the production and use of energy and set out deliberately to make these conform more accurately with the elementary principles of economics. Perhaps what is more pertinent is the recent assessment by the International Energy Agency which pointed out:
Energy policies are politically risky because the danger with which we are dealing is 8, 10 or 12 years away, whereas our Government -
That is, the United States Government- faced re-election every four years. In other words the glory and reward for successful avoidance of disaster or for providing a better way of life cannot be obtained during the politically relevant period, that is before the next election. There is therefore a strong built in urge to dodge the issue.
If the issue is dodged now, the United States and other Western countries, including our own, will pay a very severe penalty later. Here are posed, as one peers into the 1980s, issues of survival that in their own way are no less fundamental than those of the nuclear arms balance. There is nothing in the Government’s foreign policy statement which gives the people of this country any comfort. As I assess it, the document is very superficial.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-From the outset let me place on record my recognition and appreciation of the outstanding manner in which the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) has handled, and continues to handle, his most vital portfolio. His magnificent statement entitled ‘The Geo-Political Situation: A Pattern of
Instability’ is a model. It is a balanced and factual statement which would be supported, I believe, by the overwhelming majority of members of this Parliament and by the overwhelming majority of the people of this nation. It is a matter of great pride that we have a Minister for Foreign Affairs who not only checks his facts before he speaks but also has the courage of his convictions and is able to speak in a way and in a manner which is commanding increasing respect right around the world.
Having said that I now refer specifically to the Minister’s statement. I wish to refer to four very basic points in that statement before developing a second proposition about which I believe it is appropriate that somebody in this Parliament express some warning to the people of Australia about something that is happening very close to our shores. The Minister referred in his statement to the fact that recent events represented a deterioration ‘in the international strategic and political environment which has serious implications for our interests’- that is, the interests of Australia- ‘as well as for those of our regional and Western partners. They are of grave concern to the Government’. The second point appears later in the statement where the Minister, when discussing the Indo-China situation, stated:
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.
The third part of the Minister’s statement to which I draw attention is this:
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 fourth point follows immediately thereafter:
The Vietnamese attack on Kampuchea was an attack by a client of the Soviet Union ona client of China.
I hope that the people of Australia recognise the truth and validity of that statement. How does this affect Australia? I note that I will be followed in this debate by my friend and colleague the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) who takes a different view from me. I respect his view and I believe he would respect mine. I have said in this House on a number of occasions that I am concerned for the future of Australia. I am concerned because of the increasing influence of the Soviet Union in the South East Asian area. I will demonstrate in a few minutes that that influence has now taken a step very close to our shores. It is sad for me to have to say this because it represents a vindication of things that I have been saying for three years. I was saying these things when it was most unpopular for me to do so, but now more and more people are telling me that the warnings I gave are now coming to fruition.
Before I turn to that part of my speech I draw the attention of the House to an excellent statement made by the Ambassador for Canada in the United Nations Security Council on 24 February this year. Ambassador Bill Barton made a point which I hope will be taken up by the Australian Government. I believe, even though the Australian Government has not said so, that it is a statement with which the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) would have no disagreement whatsoever. In that speech to the Security Council, Mr Barton emphasised that one could not look at the present violence in Indo-China independently from what has become known as the Vietnamese refugee problem. I quote him verbatim. He said: it would be a serious mistake to concentrate only on the current outbursts of violence and ignore the other ills that have plagued this region for so long. Canada has raised its voice before to deplore the denial of human rights in parts of that region. Canada, like many other nations, and in particular the countries neighbouring that region, has been shocked by the continuing exodus of thousands of refugees who have been forced for a variety of reasons to flee their homelands.
He went on to say:
The peoples of the countries of Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) must be given more than ad hoc humanitarian assistance and vague reassurances. They are entitled to long-term stability and the international community would be well advised to help them to achieve it.
It is to Canada’s credit that it was the first nation in the Security Council debate to appreciate the link between the situation of violence and the refugee problem. On the basis of pure humanitarian idealism, I hope that that message gets through to quarters right round the world.
Over the last three years I have clearly, and I believe honestly, expressed my concern in respect of incidents of military expansionism close to the shores of Australia culminating, as they did, in the tragedy of East Timor. My views were then minority views. In some areas they attracted very strong criticism. I had the distinction, if one can call it that, of being publicly branded in the
Indonesian Press as a communist and a territorist.
– That would be far from the truth.
-Thank you. I am obliged to the honourable member. But I was not the only one. Other members of this Parliament from both sides of it were branded and smeared in that way. What I am about to say gives me little pleasure but it is something that has to be said by somebody in this Parliament and that is the fact that clear evidence is now coming out, and I will cite it, which frightens me because it indicates to me, and I believe to others, that Indonesia is starting to fall under the influence- I regard it as an evil influence- of Soviet Russia. I will refer to two specific matters linked with the Indo-China conflict which I believe give substance to the concern that I express. I will not seek a headline by referring to sverdlov class Russian cruisers being given to the Indonesians or any of those those things. What I will refer to are statements which have been made, one in the Press of Indonesia and two by the Foreign Minister of Indonesia in an interview. I will quote him verbatim. Lest anybody be in any doubt as to where Indonesia is standing on the question of the Indo-China conflict, I say that one can be quite certain that it is not supporting the Chinese. The indications are that it is supporting the Russians. Let me quote from the Indonesian newspaper Merdeka of 28 February this year. I will let honourable members be the judge as to which line Indonesia is taking in this conflict. It is certainly not the line Australia is taking. It reads:
To wash its face from the failure in defending the ousted Cambodian Government, China now tries to launch an aggression on Vietnam. But this will only make its face dirtier.
Lest honourable members want other comments from the Indonesian Press, I refer to an article in which the ‘Chinese aggression’, as it is called, against Vietnam is described as reckless, and which says that there is no justification for the invasion of Vietnam by an expansionist China. Jack Hill, the blind miner, can see why China did what it did. I believe that any country which has an aggressive neighbour on its boundaries would take action. When buildings and villages inside Chinese territories were shot, blown up, damaged and destroyed, as has been demonstrated clearly by television films and remains uncontradicted by the Vietnamese, what was China to do? Was it to sit still and, to use the Minister’s words, let this client of the Soviet Union actually jeopardise its territorial boundaries? China was entitled to do what it did, and I support what it did. If honourable members want something more authoritative I think I can do no better than to quote from an interview with the Indonesian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Mochtar Kusumaatmaja and let honourable members judge for themselves. An article by Rodney Tasker in the Far Eastern Economic Review of 1 5 December 1 978 reads:
The foreign minister -
That is, Dr Mochtar- also spoke about his recent trip to Hanoi, which, ‘by accident’ occurred at the same time that Teng was starting his ASEAN tour. He -
That is, Dr Mochtar- had signed a trade agreement -
This was in Hanoi- and made progress in negotiations to settle the issue of demarcation of mutual sea-bed boundaries.
The article quotes Dr Mochtar as saying:
What was also important was that we had very frank talks.
That is, talks with Vietnam. He went on to say:
In a certain sense, there is something we have in common which we recognise and which accounts for a special flavour in our relationship; that is that we both are aware of the fact that we gained our independence through armed struggle.
Mr Tasker says:
The remark was significant, because it was generally assumed that Indonesia was as suspicious of Vietnam’s intentions in the region of its ASEAN partners, particularly given its links with the Soviet Union, enhanced by the Moscow-Hanoi friendship treaty signed soon after Vietnamese Premier Pham Van Dong’s goodwill tour around all the ASEAN countries.
Dr Mochtar is quoted as having said:
I prefer not to use any term that denotes subservience of Vietnam -
Who is kidding whom? to any country or intimates that Vietnam is the proxy of any country.
I remind Dr Mochtar that Australia says that Vietnam is the client of the Soviet Union. Dr Mochtar went on to say:
I have had many conversations with their leaders, and I am aware of their pride and their fears since independence. So the fact that they have signed a treaty and have been obliged to receive aid is, I think, a result of circumstances. They have tried to obtain assistance from other sources. They have encouraged investment and trade, but not much was forthcoming.
Dr Mochtar then said:
The withdrawal of Chinese aid and assistance was a heavy blow to their economy.
That is, Vietnam ‘s economy. He went on to say:
On top of that, you have natural disasters. Then there was a threat: The belligerent attitude of China.
This is a partner of ASEAN. In this respect I quote from the Indonesian Times. It reads:
ASEAN has taken basically the same line as Australia on this issue.
But one member of ASEAN is leaning towards the Soviet Union. It gives me no pleasure to have to reveal this fact, but I do so. Dr Mochtar went on to say:
From a distance, of course, armchair analysts can say that was only bluster- China has no intention of really doing what it threatens to do because it has other priorities. But if you are there, you are really next door, it is quite understandable that it creates a certain situation psychologically. And if you project it against the background of long-standing struggle against the Chinese, then you have the explanation for the (Moscow-Hanoi) treaty. 1 don’t think they had much choice.
If those are not words of approbation of the Moscow-Hanoi treaty, I do not know what are. It should concern Australians that the Foreign Minister of our nearest and largest neighbour is actually courting and encouraging a relationship with Hanoi and therefore with Moscow, and is permitting in his own country a denigration of China. If that does not indicate the way in which Indonesia is heading then I do not know what does. I stand by what our Minister said. I express the gravest concern that a client of the Soviet Union engaged in military aggression, precipitated this crisis. It grieves me that Indonesia appears to be taking the Soviet line. I ask honourable members, and the people of Australia: What is the future of our country going to be if Indonesia falls under the influence of Soviet Russia? If anyone in this chamber or outside it thinks that Australia could defend itself, I suggest he is sadly deluded and will not be thanked for his attitude.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MartinOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I listened with great interest to the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman). I am grateful for the tribute that he paid me when he said that my remarks may disagree with his. They certainly will, but I respect his views on foreign policy. I have considerable admiration for him in connection with his publicly expressed opinion on the ghoulish invasion of Timor by Indonesia. I do not apprehend any fear for Australia should Indonesia come under the influence of the Soviet Union. I believe that if Indonesia had been more under the influence of the Soviet Union than it was probably there would have been little likelihood of Indonesia doing what she did to little Timor.
In connection with this debate, when the history books are written and the major blunders of the great powers are expounded upon the list will probably focus upon such blunders as: The United Kingdom’s abortive diplomatic misjudgment in the invasion of Suez; the actions of the
United States of America in the Bay of Pigs episode and its intervention in the civil wars in Vietnam and Chile; Nazi Germany’s aggression in World War II, its endeavours to create a fascist world and its involvement in the Spanish civil war with its fascist ally, Italy; Japan’s bombardment of Pearl Harbour; Australia’s involvement with the United States in the conscription of its youth to the Vietnam war; Indonesia’s march into Timor- and now the Chinese invasion of Vietnam.
In the last decade we have all learned that the Vietnamese have fought for over 60 years to expel the foreign plunderers from its shores: Firstly the French colonialists; secondly, the Japanese who were followed by the French again; and finally, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and other satellites. Now we have the Chinese invading Vietnam’s territory again. Who in this Parliament would have thought 12 months ago that the world’s most populous nation would invade its Asian neighbour- a neighbour that has suffered so much for well over half a century, that was setting in motion a government program to rid this little country of poverty, illiteracy, disease, hunger and exploitation?
There is no doubt in my mind that Vietnam now finds itself in the same situation in which Cuba found itself in 1962. We all know what happened in little Cuba when its revolution displeased its northern neighbour. Whatever the right and the wrongs of the Vietnamese involvement in Kampuchea or even its border disputes with its northern neighbour, China in my view is not justified in ravaging through Vietnam in the way it is doing at this time. The relentless killing of innocent human beings cannot be justified. Something like 200,000 to 400,000 killings on each side have already occurred.
Let me refresh the memories of honourable members of this House. It was at the 1954 Geneva Convention that relations between China and Vietnam began to deteriorate. At that Convention Vietnam was divided and, as we have since learned from the Pentagon Papers, Chou En-lai was the No. 1 butcher. At this conference in Geneva China sought three main objectives: Firstly, it wanted to neutralise IndoChina and rid it of the threat of American imperialism; secondly, it hoped that this would enable it to break the military encirclement of China by means of an international treaty which in turn would allow it to break out of its diplomatic isolation and dependence on the USSR; finally, if China could achieve this by acting as the guarantor of neutral states such as
Sihanouk’s Cambodia while dividing Vietnam, its sovereignty would be complete.
These three objectives took a long time to achieve. China’s isolation ended only when the war between Vietnam and the US ended and when it looked like being won by the Vietnamese who would be no longer beholden to Peking. In President Nixon, China found a willing ally in the return to the Geneva agreement as China had conceived it. As both the United States and China wanted the Paris peace accords to last, Vietnam was to remain divided. The Vietnamese victory in 1975 was a smack in the face to both China and America. There is no doubt that China sees South East Asia as its own sphere of influence. Consider the longstanding dispute between China and Vietnam over the Paracel and Spratly Islands. These are seldom referred to in such debates by honourable members.
– They will be.
– I hope the honourable member for Holt will expand upon the matter. I will listen to him with great interest. China occupies the Paracel Islands, after seizing them from Vietnam in 1974, and Vietnam occupies most of the Spratly Islands. But the dispute is not simply over the islands; China claims the seabed over a vast area south of the Spratly Islands where oil deposits hold out the prospect of economic independence for Vietnam. If it is correct, as reported in yesterday’s Press, that China is withdrawing its troops from Vietnam, I am pleased, but I am also wary as I recall the old saying: ‘When the shooting war stops the economic war begins’. I say that the situation in Kampuchea is only a ruse. The main issue is China’s preoccupation with its own interests in South East Asia. It was China which played the part of the aggressor and seized the Paracels when Vietnam was well and truly involved in its war with the United States. I hope that the honourable member for Holt will substantiate my remarks in this regard.
Mr Deputy Speaker, talking to China, through you, I say: You should have been supporting Vietnam in its struggle for liberation instead of making territorial claims to enrich yourself. If you were willing to exploit Vietnam’s weakness when it was still divided and struggling against the Thieu regime you would have been capable of anything. Is it little wonder that the Vietnamese regard the USSR as their ally? At least the USSR is capable of loyalty- to Vietnam and many other countries. China, let us look at your track record. You accused the USSR of cowardice and provocative action when she was supplying defensive military aid to Cuba. In my mind you were wrong for the USSR was loyally aiding an ally. China, you supported the United States and reactionary forces in the PakistanBangladesh conflict. China, you backed the reactionary forces in the recent Sudanese situation. China, did you not give support to the counterrevolutionary forces in Chile, the military junta? Together with the US and aided and abetted by the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Telephone and Telegraphic Corporation and other multinationals you threw out the popular Allende Government in Chile. China, did you evict from Peking by force the Chilean ambassador, to the joy of the United States? The list is endless. You are frequently accused of lining up with the reactionary forces in Angola, Yemen, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Burma.
It is somewhat difficult for me to understand why the leaders of a socialist government in China, a country with a long and eventually successful struggle against the bastions of the Western world capitalism, should give its support and encouragement to the actions of others who are the perpetrators of ruthless capitalism. China has attacked and slandered the peace and friendship treaty between the USSR, Vietnam and Laos. I ask you whether these attacks are justified. Is it not to be understood that those countries would enter into a treaty, given your recent friendship treaty with Japan? I think that you, China, are in a state of paranoia. You are now playing a role that is reminiscent of that played by the capitalists when South East Asia was opening her doors to the Western world. China, you have not yet learnt your lesson, and I appeal to you to do so. Tell me why Vietnam should be punished? In your own words you said: ‘We went into Vietnam only to punish them, to teach them a lesson’. The truth is that you are punishing Vietnam for its victory over the United States in 1975. 1 ask you: How long can you hide behind the cloak of socialism?
– Who said that?
– I am saying it. The honourable member can hear it distinctly. Finally, I leave China with a statement made by one of its former prominent leaders after the Revolution, Liu Shao-chi. He made this statement in Peking. It is on the record. He said:
If one follows the bourgeois-nationalist concept of the nation . . . opposes the Soviet Union instead of uniting with it, opposes the People’s democracies instead of uniting with them, opposes the Communists, the proletariat and the People’s forces in all countries instead of uniting with them, opposes the national liberation movements, instead of uniting with them and all the oppressed nations . . then one will, of course, unite with the United States and other imperialists, will of course line up with the imperialists, will of course line up with the imperialist camp, will of course fail to achieve national liberation, will never accomplish anything in the cause of socialism, will of course make one’s own nation prey to the deception and aggression of the United States and other imperialists, with the result that one’s own nation will lose its independence and become a colony of the imperialists.
This statement was made some years ago by one of the leaders of the revolutionary government in China. China would do well to recall and to do something in connection with this very important statement made to its people.
– I was not in the chamber for all of the remarks of the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) who preceded me in the debate.
– You missed a lot.
-I am certain, as the member for Prospect has remarked- and I intend to refer to his remarks later- that I have missed a lot. I am certain I have missed what could be called a straight Soviet line -
– The Moscow line.
-The Moscow line taken against Peking. I really think that it is as well that I was not in the House during the time that the honourable member for Hunter spoke. I refer to the statement made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock). The Australian Government very quickly and accurately assessed the situation in the China-Vietnam confrontation. Australia took prompt action in alerting Australians and in assessing international opinion as to what was occurring. It will be remembered that the Government members were called warmongers and so on for over-reacting, but their assessment was correct. That it was correct was greatly to Australia’s credit. The Government conveyed this nation’s strong opinion that moderation and restraint should prevail on the China- Vietnam boundaries.
It is also to Australia’s credit that we called for the withdrawal of Vietnamese forces from Cambodia or Kampuchea. That situation is now and has been one of murder and extermination on a grand scale. One recalls what happened to the defeated supporters of Lon Nol. These people worked out in the fields until they virtually starved to death or were beaten to death. There is no reason to have sympathy for the Pol Pot regime, but that does not entitle the Vietnamese to cross Kampuchea’s borders and to take the action they did, using all the weaponry and front-line experience which they recently acquired from and against the Americans. Australia has to realise that both in Indo-China and in Africa those who are hungry for power will resort to any means to obtain it. We have seen it happen again and again in various parts of the world. We have seen starvation, systematic and selective murder of political opponents and, as is the case in Indo-China, straight, unadulterated war.
Australia must wake up. This country has lived in a fools’ paradise since the Second World War finished in 1945. Australians have fought for their freedom in every campaign since that war. The long-term struggle was, and continues to be, for national survival. I am not advocating a major recruiting drive. I believe that the nation must scrap the ‘no threat within 10 to 15 years’ theme which was espoused by the Whitlam Government and which was strongly supported by his followers who had been duped by the same propaganda. That propaganda stated that the Indian Ocean should be a zone of peace. Of course it should be a zone of peace. An airline pilot who has flown across the Indian Ocean told me that one could walk across the ocean on Russian ships. Doubtless that is an exaggeration, but by the same token it was said by a man who operates in that area fairly consistently.
The Indian Ocean should be a zone of peace, but will it be? What worries me is the position of the member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations- Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. Ever since I have been a member of parliament I have been saying that Australia should be endeavouring to work with and to influence the people of the Indonesian archipelago, which virtually includes those nations, so that they look at us in a friendly way. We should be trading with them. We should be standing up for them. We should be working with these ASEAN countries on the defence of the region. I just mention what some of them think about recent developments. In the Sydney Morning Herald of 5 August 1978 this article appears:
Washington, Friday- ASEAN leaders urged yesterday an increased US economic presence in the region to counter the Soviet Union. We are not unduly disturbed by a Russian presence, provided it is balanced by an equally visible American presence.
Dr Romulo of the Philippines emphasised ASEAN ‘s vital strategic position between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. He said:
If this link is imperilled the security of Australia and India would be put at issue.
An article in the Age of 6 October 1978 is headed ASEAN Backs Rearmed Japan’. Mr Lee Kuan Yew, when in Florida, made this statement:
Deep conflict between Vietnam and China, on the one hand and Vietnam and Cambodia on the other hand was one of the main factors rapidly transforming geo-political alignments in South East and East Asia.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I will not have time to read out all the newspaper articles on this matter, but I will refer to a few of them as I make my remarks. At the same time, General Kriangsak of Thailand warned:
We are next to the fire. Communism is not moribund or on the point of suicide.
An article in the Australian Financial Review of 12 January addresses its remarks to the member states of ASEAN. It said:
The consolidation of the three states under the wing of Vietnam looks like the fulfilment of Ho Chi Minh ‘s dream of a communist Indo-China federation, especially in view of the American withdrawal.
As I say, still it goes on. The results of the Russian backing of Vietnam and the Vietnamese attack on its traditional enemy, Cambodia, have led to a distinct hardening of attitudes towards Vietnam by some non-communist states in South East and East Asia. An article in the Australian Financial Review, written by Michael Richardson in Singapore, states:
If pushed to an extreme this polarisation could amount to the extent of a second era of cold-war confrontation in Asia . . .
These are the concerns of people who are living in the Indonesian Archipelago. I quote from another article from the Australian Financial Review of 1 1 January:
Thailand and Singapore are reportedly inclined to take an ominous view of developments.
The Australian of 12 February states:
Marcos warns that a Soviet entrenchment in Indo-China could imperil the security of small South East Asian nations.
So the story goes on. On 19 February, in Singapore, Mr Lee sounded a note of warning that the ASEAN countries must be careful not to give anyone grounds for believing that they favoured one communist side against the other. Obviously the honourable member for Hunter sides with one communist side against the other. Not favouring one communist side against the other is the stand which Australia should be taking and it is the stand that Australia is taking. But at the same time we should not lose sight of the fact that the domino theory, which was maligned and rubbished so many years ago, is just as relevant now as it ever was- and the ASEAN nations know that to be only too true. Australia has taken a middle stance in the China- Vietnam affair. The
Australian Government has called for a withdrawal of Chinese and Vietnamese forces, as I said before. Australia has recognised the restraint that Russia has shown and has commended that restraint. So in this situation our stance is middle of the road. But whilst we have been adopting that neutral stance, we have been accused by some, as I said before, of taking an anti-Russian position and by others as having intervened too soon.
The honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman)- unfortunately he is not . in the chamber at the moment- in his speech in this debate spoke of people’s preferring democracy. He went on to say that he completely dissociated himself from those who claimed that underdeveloped countries were happy under dictatorships. I am glad that he was in the chamber to hear the honourable member for Hunter.
– He has had to take an urgent House call.
-He also said:
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 continuallynearly all of Eastern Europe . . . With Cuban mercenaries fighting in much of Africa, communist countries have a hide to talk about interference in other countries.
That was what was said by the colleague of the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones). He was speaking sound common sense, and I commend him for it.
– I think he was right.
– Yes, I am sure that he was right.
– You don’t think that we would support Russia, do you?
– I do not think that you would. Through our membership of the United Nations, Australia is liable to be supporting undemocratic organisations in the African region- the Patriotic Front, the South West African People’s Organisation, and other guerrilla organisations. Since the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has recently stated that South Africa is a region of considerable strategic importance to Australia and to the rest of the world, we should be endeavouring to use our diplomatic efforts to discuss the African problems as well as taking the stance that we have taken in other parts of the world.
– What do you propose?
– I propose that people should go there and talk to them about their problems. That is what we should be doing.
– I have just been there for a month.
– Yes, and I commend you for it. I am sure we could learn something about why South Africa, with its white minority, adopted the policy it has. I think it is quite wrong to say that the black majority has been disadvantaged by the white minority in Rhodesia. People do not listen to this sort of thing; they just hammer away at the principle of one vote, one value and therefore black majority rule. I am saying that we have a short breathing space at this time and we should not waste it. We should realise that we have a resource-wealthy country and we should get the nation geared up mentally to setting about doing something for Australia. I do not say that our young people should be in a universal national service, but they should be thinking about, and we should be leading them to think about, doing something for their nation, not for themselves. We have to operate in this area of the ASEAN countries. We should be getting our young people to go into those countries, to serve them and to serve Australia. We should be looking at our trade situation and our efforts to get to the ASEAN countries and form a united front in this area.
-(Mr MartinOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired. The debate on the geo-political situation is of great significance to Australia. If I followed the normal practice of the House, I would invite the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Humphreys) to speak for the short period now remaining until 6 p.m. when the sitting would be suspended until 8 p.m. The debate would then be resumed at 8 p.m. I think it more appropriate on this particular occasion for the honourable member for Griffith to commence his contribution to this important debate at 8 p.m. Consequently the chair will be resumed at 8 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 5.54 to 8 p.m.
-Two weeks ago the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) delivered a statement which might have been titled ‘The State of the Nation’, but it offered a poor comparison with the ‘State of the Union’ message that is delivered annually by the American President. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden), in his reply, hit the nail on the head when he said that the Prime Minister’s statement was designed to stiffen the backbone of a wilting back bench on the Government side. Of course, we all know what transpired before the end of that fateful day, Thursday 22 February. On Tuesday, 27 February, the Foreign Minister (Mr Peacock) delivered his own version of that speech. His statement was nothing more than a tactical device to divert the attention of the Parliament from scrutiny of the Prime Minister and his relationships with Ministers and to dissipate the smell of controversy which envelops his Government. If that were not his intention, the time accorded to the censure debate on Thursday, 22 February would have been equal to that given to this debate.
Australia, undeniably, is a small country in the international spectrum. Our voice in international affairs is nothing more than a whisper. Our only opportunity to influence the course of events in any foreign situation is provided when we speak out in unison with other countries in the family of nations. In the case of the most recent flashpoint in world affairs, Indo-China, the Government’s criticism and protest has been so muted as to be completely unnoticeable in the world forum. But from what one may perceive of our position in Australia our response to events, no matter how insignificantly it is received, is demonstrably one-sided. The histrionics of the Prime Minister, the way in which he rolled his Foreign Minister in that Minister’s absence, and the hostility and sabre rattling of his criticism of Vietnam are in contrast to the back seat approach which he took in responding to the Chinese punitive intrusion. His hasty and abrasive withdrawal of aid to Vietnam effectively undermined any leverage or influence that Australia might have exercised in a combined effort to resolve the conflict.
For the Prime Minister and his Government to remain even-handed the Government would have to consider severing such ties with China. Clearly, that is an absurd consideration. But the antagonism and aggression of the Prime Minister’s reaction in the case of the Vietnamese invasion is quite apparently at odds with his virtual indifference, in diplomatic terms, towards the Chinese invasion. This variation is construed by the countries involved as blatant bias. In his haste to make political capital, the Prime Minister has assisted in isolating Vietnam, and no sophistry from the Sun Lamp Kid can hide that.
Earlier this month, when the Western world was firmly in the grip of an oriental euphoria- I suppose one could call it sinophilia- the Opposition sounded a warning. Its spokesman in another place cautioned that it was unwise to believe that future relations with China would be any easier or less complicated than they had been in the past. China’s principal preoccupation at the moment is its dispute with its neighbour, the Russian bear. China will continue to press this point, regardless of other countries’ viewpoints. Its relations with other countries revolve entirely around its power play with Russia. The establishment between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of sound and effective relations on which to found a basic trust is the central most important international issue of our time and of the near future. With their overwhelming military power, these two nations hold the key to the prevention of universal calamity. China’s shift in domestic policy, multilateral relations and public relations is as impressive as it is revolutionary. But the point must be made, and emphasised, that that dramatic change, both internal and external, should serve to remind us that similar changes- just as revolutionary and just as swift- could occur again in the future.
What the Opposition has been saying is that all our eggs should not be in the one basket. The Opposition was firmly opposed to the excesses of the Pol Pot regime in Kampuchea. It was firmly opposed to the invasion of Kampuchea by the Hanoi regime. It is firmly opposed to the incursion of the Peking Government in to Vietnam. We pray that the USSR will continue to exercise restraint and avoid provocative incidents with Peking.
It must be an acute embarrassment for the Foreign Minister to enter this Parliament and give lip-service to policies and actions about which he is at best half-hearted. He employed his usual theatrical delivery in making his statement last Tuesday, but one sensed that his heart just was not in it. In fact, it is well known that he vehemently opposes aspects of his Government’s foreign policy, but his presence in the House is completely overshadowed by the dominance of the Prime Minister, whose own influence and impression are indelibly stamped on foreign affairs policy. The Foreign Minister merely serves as the Prime Minister’s public relations agent- and the Prime Minister needs public relations now more than ever. The Prime Minister, in June 1976, made his position concerning China and the USSR crystal clear. From the outset he chose to adopt transparently partisan views. His impetuous decision to terminate aid to, and cultural exchanges with, Vietnam was taken against the advice of his Foreign Minister and his Department. His personal prejudices have clouded his judgment as Prime Minister. He appears to have acted with undue haste in an attempt to create the impression or illusion of toughness, with no proper thought to the consequences. Despite the assurance of the Foreign Minister, this one-eyed anti-Moscow policy is no guarantee of peace in the region.
The Foreign Minister’s lack of command, and his total subjugation by the Prime Minister, are not so conveniently rationalised away as he would hope. The Prime Minister is an embarrassment to the Foreign Minister who, in his own inimitable way, has attempted to keep Australia on the same steady course in international affairs as was set by his Labor predecessor, Senator Willesee. He has, I suggest, been ineffective in pursuing this course. He has had interference from above.
The Foreign Minister spoke of the relations with the developing countries. Under this Government, Australia’s relations with the Third World have been retarded. Only in the last month has the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) grasped the real magnitude of the enormous trade benefits which the oil-rich Third World nations could offer to Australia. But the context of our relations with the Third World is still based on the question of what is in it for us. That approach is practical to a degree only. The Foreign Minister himself will have to realise that the Third World is a potentially awesome force. If it were isolated and ignored by the world community and if its needs were not understood, appreciated and met, its hostility could challenge the world order. It is simply in our long term interest- not to mention consistent with basic human values, the principles of charity and the brotherhood of nations- that we extend our hand of friendship, assistance and trade to these peoples. I should address myself to a statement made last week by the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter). I am sorry that he is not here this evening. His suggestion that something of an Islamic holocaust might descend maliciously on this country must be one of the most extraordinary and inflammatory statements made in this Parliament. I suppose in the absence of the old Liberal shibboleth of the yellow peril we need something to fill the vacuum of paranoia. If the honourable member for Kennedy, a former Minister for the Army, is any prophet we may soon find ourselves shadow boxing with the Muslims to the north and that would include the sleeping giant of Indonesia. We could, perhaps, see Australia’s relations with its near northern neighbour reduced to the level of confrontation and tension which existed in the time of Menzies and Sukarno. Despite the provocation of statements, such as those made by the honourable member for Kennedy, we should not underestimate the significance of the religious components in Iran’s current revolution. Before I touch on that subject I remind honourable members of the wise words of advice from the Foreign Minister who has been quoted recently as saying that we should not overestimate the situation, but on the other hand we should not underestimate it. I think, perhaps, he has been hanging around the diplomats too long.
With regard to Iran, the religion infrastructure and the very nature of the particular denomination of Islam practised in Iran have set the foundations for the revolution. It is without doubt one of the most remarkable of contemporary revolutions. It serves as an example to an agnostic, hedonistic world that religion is still a great mover of men. Hardly anything could be added to the volumes of comment and analysis which have accompanied the fall of the Shah and the rise of the Ayatollah. However, I stress one point in the Iranian revolution which concerns Australia and that is that the Australian Government’s decision to tie the country’s petrol prices to world parity could not have been more ill-timed. Petrol costs more than $ 1 per gallon by the old standard. Looking back three or four years no one, apart perhaps from the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony), would ever have considered that situation even a remote possibility in such a short period.
When the Whitlam Government froze home crude prices and blamed overseas costs for half our inflation the then Opposition loudly insisted it was Labor’s fault. The former Treasurer and Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Lowe (Sir William McMahon) was an honourable exception. The thing is, we can produce most of our fuel well below world prices. As it is, Australian motorists will once again be hit in just over a month’s time when the Council of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries meets to fix oil prices in the wake of the situation in Iran. The voice of moderation, coming from the Saudis, will not stem the inevitable escalation. Australians will end up paying well over $2 per gallon.
Before concluding I should note that Australia’s response to the latest, most critical international development appears to be ignorance of the changing fortunes of alliances among countries and as well to be quite incoherent. The Government has called for a full assessment of the effect of recent events on Australia’s strategic position. Surely such assessment should be available to the Government on an immediate and ongoing basis. It must beg the inevitable question, are our diplomats up to scratch and doing their job? The answer to that may well be worth another debate.
– I welcome the balanced and sensible statement that was made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock). I think there has been sufficient time since this statement was made to digest it properly and to appreciate its balance. I do not think it claims too much for Australia. I do not think it pretends to know more in a very uncertain situation than is knowable. But it has been amusing to see the reaction of members of the Opposition to this statement. There were more things in it with which they could agree than they wanted. This of course puts them in an extremely difficult situation because they have to ask: Well, was it in fact the Foreign Minister’s statement or was it the statement of the Prime Minister?’ If it were the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) then, of course, they could not agree with it. But a number of times they have said that the Foreign Minister is the captive of the Prime Minister and hence how can they attack what he is saying? They have to attack the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister at the same time. I think we have had enough of the Opposition building up the Prime Minister in this way. If they want to give an impression of firmness of leadership to the country, then I think this is the best way they can go about it. They should not go about it by following the path of debate which they have followed over this whole incident. In order to inform myself as to what the Opposition was saying in this debate I looked at statements that have been made by Senator Wriedt, the Foreign Affairs spokesman for the Australian Labor Party and by other front bench spokesmen, including the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen). I must say that I find myself somewhat confused. I can understand the difficulties that the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Humphreys) is having in putting forward a consistent attack on the statement of the Foreign Minister. For example, on the China-Soviet involvement we had a statement from Senator Wriedt on 8 January when he stated:
I do not believe that either the Chinese or Soviet Government will become directly involved in the conflict . . .
He was speaking, of course, of the conflict between Kampuchea and Vietnam. A few days later on 12 February- maybe he sensed that something was in the wind- he stated: . . the possibility cannot be ruled out.
It is not surprising that he had difficulty making forecasts because the Labor Party was not clear about the invasion by Vietnamese forces. For example on 8 January Senator Wriedt said:
It is difficult to know whether the fall of the Kampuchean Government has been due to an invasion by Vietnamese forces . . .
But we are told quite clearly by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition:
Let’s get the facts right. In December-January Vietnam invaded Kampuchea . . . took Phnom Penh and installed a puppet regime …
So at least he was pretty clear about the situation. A certain amount of uncertainty was created by the Prime Minister, said Senator Wriedt, and the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) who is in the House now, associated himself with that statement. On 22 January they said:
The Prime Minister is using the events in Indo-China peninsular . . . for creating an air of uncertainty. He is deliberately fostering an air of insecurity . . .
This is ironic in terms of what was to come. On 22 February the Leader of the Opposition had this to say:
It is fairly obvious that … a sense of instability, even insecurity, has rippled through the Asian countries, as a result of Vietnam ‘s occupying Kampuchea.
On Indo-China and on Australia’s strategic interest we had Senator Wriedt and the honourable member for Corio on 22 January stating:
Instead of concentrating on largely peripheral issues on Indo-China and Iran, the Prime Minister would be better advised to concentrate on Australia . . . neither issue could . . . affect Australia’s strategic position.
On 18 February we had a statement by the Foreign Affairs spokesman for the Labor Party which reads:
The world is now facing a very serious situation . . . one which is similar to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 . . .
It is of no particular strategic concern to Australia but it is as serious as the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Another point on Australia’s strategic interest was made by Senator Wriedt on the Australian Broadcasting Commission program Newsvoice of 22 February, when he stated:
To suggest that events in . . . Kampuchea could . . impose a threat to Australia’s security is laughable.
However the Leader of the Opposition as reported in Hansard on the same day stated: . . unless a satisfactory conclusion can be arranged in relation to the conflict … we will see an escalation of Soviet presence in the Indo-China peninsular area . . it is in our interest to . . . prevent this escalation . . . The most undesirable trend that one could imagine.
I now refer to the criticism by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on 27 February. He said: . . the Government’s failure to anticipate developments . . . have left us without any effective leverage at all.
That is laughable in view of other statements by the Opposition about the Prime Minister’s attempting to create uncertainty when he was raising legitimate concerns about the likely course of events. Further on the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said:
What will happen . . . is difficult to foresee.
I think it is difficult to respond adequately to the statements made by the Opposition in this debate. I believe that the Foreign Minister in his statement is quite firm on basic principles. He rightly rejects the unthinking demands from the Opposition that he must be even-handed. He said:
The parrot cry of ‘even-handedness’ is no substitute for thinking through a policy. The Opposition has accused the Government of a pro-China bias. The only bias this Government has in regional affairs is towards peace and stability.
I will not suggest that members of Her Majesty’s loyal Australian Opposition have a direct interest in instability either but if the soft mindedness they have demonstrated in this debate were translated into government it would contribute mightily to instability in the region. I refer to the speech made by Senator Wriedt in the Senate in response to the Minister’s statement. In relation to even-handedness, he said:
It is fundamental that no government is going to have any impact on what happens in any of these disputes unless it has the trust of both sides . . . If we take a side in matters which are of international moment we forfeit the right to be able to act as a mediator and to have the trust of both sides. Everybody knows that in any dispute a mediator must have the trust of both sides.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member for Mackellar is apparently not aware that he is not permitted to refer to debates in another place. I ask him to proceed with his speech and delete references to those debates.
– I am sorry. I was not aware of that. It is difficult in this case because the principal Opposition spokesman on foreign affairs is in the Senate. The Minister’s speech was read by Senator Carrick in the Senate and the principal response from the Opposition was made in the Senate.
– You ought to hear what they did to us when the King Bridge fell down in Melbourne. They made all the speeches in the Upper House and they wouldn’t let the people in the lower House refer to them.
– I am obliged to the honourable member for Corio for filling me in on that background. The general purport of what the Opposition has been saying is that the Soviet Union could be made to feel the odd man out if we do not take an even-handed posture in this international situation; the Soviet Union could feel bad about things and this would make the situation very difficult.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, I am reluctant to interrupt the honourable member for Mackellar but I question whether your ruling is correct. I ask you to have regard to the terms of Standing Order 72.
-I uphold the point of order made by the honourable member for Diamond Valley. On immediate reflection I realise that I have dealt erroneously with the honourable member for Mackellar. The qualification on the ruling I gave is that he should not refer to debates in another place unless they are relevant to the debate in this chamber. In that respect the honourable member for Mackellar is properly addressing himself to this debate.
– I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for your generosity. I also thank the honourable member for Diamond Valley for his perspicacity. Of all the super powers I believe that the Soviet Union is the only one which is building up an offensive capacity well beyond its needs for defence. It is the only super power which is increasing rather that decreasing the infringements of human rights in its own territory and in its European satellites. It is the only super power which is actively promoting strife in other continents. I instance in particular the intervention of Cuban troops in Africa.
-What about China?
– I am talking about the extreme interventions of the Soviet Union. There is some indication that the Chinese are starting to behave a little more satisfactorily. The question of even-handedness was taken up by the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman). He made some points in his speech on 27 February which I thought very sensible. As he said, he did not make them in any political way. I am not trying to make a political point. I am trying to make a serious point about even-handedness. The honourable member for Prospect said:
The second basic point I make is that to my mind all people prefer democratic forms of government. I completely disassociate 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 . . 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.
– No matter what they do.
-Obviously, one would not say that in every possible circumstance. By and large, during the course of history when one is dealing with an open society versus a closed society in general one is not asked to be even handed. I believe that there is an increasing concern about the balance of power as we move into the 1980s and about the activities of the Soviet Union. It is impossible to look at them without great foreboding as to their outcome. I refer honourable members to the recent interviews with Dr Henry Kissinger reported in the Economist. He raised a question about the retaliatory capacity of the United States during the 1980s and the possibilities for Soviet policy within that semi-vacuum.
The honourable member for Bonython (Dr Blewett) in one of his usual polished, erudite and, in many ways, sensible contributions to the debate was cautious about being too concerned with the geo-political situation- if we regard the overview of Russia as geo-political- and thereby blinding ourselves to the independent significance of local situations. He said that this is the lesson of the past. Surely this is nonsense. The importance of local situations must always be assessed within the pattern of wider situations. Of course, there are examples of wrong assessments. That is a different matter. By the time of the Czechoslovakian invasion Chamberlain surely understood the significance of the situation there in relation to the whole but he misjudged his action. Perhaps he had no choice by that time due to the failure of his predecessors to examine local incidents in a wider pattern; something might have been done beforehand if specific local incidents had been related to an analysis of the overall situation. Eden overrated the significance of Nasser in world politics and the capacity of Britain and France, both in physical power and political license. But we underrate the importance of world situations at our peril. We cannot look at the history of the 1 930s in particular without having fear about possible Jeremiahs. People such as Churchill would have been seen as very extreme in the 1930s. I can understand how many reasonable people, having heard Churchill’s fulminations over many years, raised doubts as to whether they were real or overstated. However, he was right and everybody else was wrong. Many decent honourable people ignored the overall situation for too long. That is a major danger. In this context I believe that the caution of the Foreign Minister about Russia is both understandable and in the direct interests of the Australian people and world peace.
-One hesitates to participate in a debate with the pretentious title of ‘The Geo-political Situation- A Pattern of Instability’. However, it would seem that the rather ponderous and heavy, if not weighty, words of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) require at least some comment, if not a reply. The speech commented initially on the broader scenario, with some observations on the relationship between economic and political reality, and I use that word advisedly. I am not sure that the Minister for Foreign Affairs would wish to deal with anything less substantial. He went on to make the distinction between economic and political issues as they relate to foreign affairs, assuring the House that power will continue to be the main arbiter in international affairs. Whilst again that sounds like an important statement, I should have thought it to be fairly meaningless. I assume that economic relations are but one dimension of power politics, and when the Minister speaks about economic interdependence he is simply using the modern jargons for describing imperialism. Clearly, nations do not deal with each other on an equal basis, and the possibility of one state or one interest dominating another flows primarily, in my belief, from an imbalance in economic resources. Thus, if one considers which nations in the world are militarily the most powerful, clearly the distribution of economic wealth is one of the major determinations on the list. The Minister preceded his reference to power as the main arbiter with the words: . . as long as the world is organised on a system of sovereign states.
I am not sure that that preface helped the conclusion very much. I should have thought that much of his subsequent argument was based on the premise of there being power blocs which override the interests of sovereign states. Of course, that is somewhat confused by the fact that although our Foreign Minister no doubt has pretensions to being an objective political scientist in the mould of a Kissinger or a Brezezinski, he is a Liberal politician in a Tory party. It was therefore necessary for him to put forward a onesided view of the world that sees the Soviet bloc as being responsible for most of the evil in the world and ignore the points that might be made by power theorists enjoying the independence of university chairs who can talk about the various sides of the equation.
The two principal situations that the Minister discussed, both of which are described as being geo-politically critical, are set out in terms of the imperialistic ambitions of the Soviet Union. In neither situation does one see mentioned the mistakes of the other great power bloc in this simplistic world of geo-political theorists. Thus, in the South East Asian situation, where currently there exist conflicts between Kampuchea and Vietnam and between Vietnam and China, we are told simplistically, if impressively, that the conflicts reflect and were created by the hostility and rivalry existing among four States- the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam and Kampuchea. Those powers do seem to be the ones most directly involved in the conflict, but to explain the tragic situation which exists there in such simplistic terms clearly insults the intelligence of the Parliament and certainly the intelligence of the Opposition.
The struggle of countries in this region to achieve effective independence goes back for centuries, but in recent history the failure of European imperialistic powers to recognise the importance and significance of indigenous movements must represent a major cause of the present conflict. In the Minister’s terms, it was clearly in the United States’ geo-political interests, after the conclusion of that notorious and infamous war in Vietnam and Cambodia, to provide massive resources to rebuild Vietnam on the basis that that would be the only way to lessen the dependence of that country on either the Soviet Union or China. Australia, which is facing a massive problem in its relations with the countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations with regard to refugees, had a similar interest. On the whole, despite some high sounding words, the United States and its allies such as Australia left Vietnam to rot. The result is that Vietnam has been drawn into a struggle between China and the Soviet Union in which her own national interests ought not to be at stake. As the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) pointed out, it was in the interests of the United States and Australia for Vietnam to be the Yugoslavia of South East Asia. Austrafia and the United States turned their backs on that possibility.
The Foreign Minister, presumably to quieten the National Country Party and the troglodytes on his own front and back benches, has made a similar analysis of the situation in Iran. Whilst the Minister has admitted that the Shah’s regime collapsed through internal causes, nevertheless the dreaded Marxist influences are at work in the region, which he asserts is of great strategic importance to the Soviet Union. No doubt that is true enough, but not a sentence appears on the significance of American military sales to Iran, which must have contributed greatly to regional instability in both Iran and the neighbouring countries with which America trades arms. As part of the Nixon doctrine, it was argued that America might achieve her role as a stabiliser in world affairs by providing arms for regions of instability where order might be maintained by a subservient regime such as that of the Shah without the blood of a single American soldier being spilt. Although I do not have recent figures, a 1976 report of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee suggested that the United States sold more arms to the Shah than any other country. Military sales were valued at $524m in 1973, $3.91 billion in 1974, $2.6 billion in 1975, and $ 1 .3 billion in 1 976. Whilst the United States recognised- and this was referred to constantly in debates in the United States Congress- all of the weaknesses and all of the problems associated with what must be regarded as an extremely repressive regime, whilst it recognised all of the difficulties and the inherent instability related to that regime, nevertheless the United States shipped something of the order of $10 billion worth of arms to the Middle East and to Iran in particular.
If we are going to get information in debates in this House, if we are going to be in a real position to make an assessment of the international situation that is not based simply on the prejudices of one side or the other, then it would seem to me that a responsible and intelligent Foreign Minister, in making an assessment of the geo-political situation, would refer to the fact that Iran was very much the subject of American influence and aid and that the American contribution was of the order that I have suggested. The importance of that point can be emphasised if one reads on further in the Minister’s speech. He made several rather trite observations about the world, observations such as the countries he has been describing not being of marginal significance, that instability is infectious, that the events occurring now may endanger agreement on the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, and finally that all these conflicts are occurring in Third World countries. Those are all truisms.
The Minister went on to make what can be described only as an absolutely brilliant observation. He said that this rise of conflict coincides with United States restraint. I find that observation absolutely impossible to deal with. The United States invested billions of dollars in the war in Indo-China. It involved its troops in a conflict in Vietnam which used more fire power in one of the smallest countries in the world than was used in the whole of the Second World War.
It involved itself in that way and, as one of the consequences of that involvement, Vietnam has been drawn into what might be described, in the Minister’s terms, as a geo-political conflict between the Soviet Union and China. Yet the Minister said that that situation is a consequence of or is related to the restraint of the United States. To take the other major situation with which he dealt, that is, the situation in the Middle East, the United States made the kind of investment I have just described in terms of a relationship with a single country in the Middle East. It shipped that volume of arms and it did so within the context of what can be described only as a major shift in foreign policy, America having moved from the earlier Dulles-Rusk doctrines in relation to direct intervention in foreign wars and containment in South East Asia to the Kissinger position and the Nixon doctrine whereby it would provide the raw materials for regionalised conflict but would not become involved directly. Events in Iran have turned in a way which cannot possibly be seen to be within the control of United States interests.
It seems to me that what we see recognised in Vietnam is the end of a particular thrust of United States policy. We see the failure of that policy in Vietnam. We are living with the consequences of that failure in terms of the current conflict. If we look at the Middle East we see the failure of the Kissinger doctrine and the failure of the Nixon doctrine- the transfer of massive amounts of arms to a country so that American soldiers are not involved in a conflict, and so that if a conflict occurs it is the responsibility of the people who are more directly involved whilst the real responsibility in many respects lies with American policy and American interests. If the current situation in the Middle East worsens then one will not simply look at the particular parties that are involved in that conflict but will look at the thrust of American policy and the significance of that policy.
In my view there is not much evidence of an Australian policy in the statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The previous speaker in this debate talked about being puzzled as to the Labor Party’s view of the current conflict or the Labor Party’s view on how Australia should approach the situation of instability which undoubtedly exists. Indeed, this instability has existed for a long time in the world. The instability which we see reflected in Vietnam certainly goes back to the 1930s. The instability which is reflected in the Middle East similarly goes back for a very long time. So we are dealing againnot for the first time- with the problem of instability in the world. After reading the Minister’s statement, it seems to me that one does not see much sign of positive policies with respect to that situation. It may be that the Minister for Foreign Affairs is relying very heavily on the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen), who is sitting at the table, to persuade Cabinet to increase defence expenditure to the point where Australia can play a much stronger military role within the world. If that is the case, it is certainly not spelt out in the speech.
One can draw attention to one or two facts which I think throw some light on Australian foreign policy and its implications for this region. I draw attention particularly to the double standard in our foreign policy- our outright condemnation of Vietnam in relation to Kampuchea. We moved swiftly to withdraw aid. There is no question of where we stand on that particular issue. No matter how much distaste we might have for the Government of Kampuchea, Vietnam cannot go running in there without us taking the strongest action. We withdrew the piffling $2m a year we paid in aid. But in the case of East Timor, where Australia’s interests are directly at stake and where a country was overrun by its neighbour- we do not have any particular distaste for East Timor but we have a considerable fear of Indonesia- we were very silent indeed. We did not make our opposition clear. I want to say that foreign policy needs to be based not simply on geo-political interests, whatever that may mean, and not on global strategies but on identification with the interests of particular communities.
-(Hon. Ian Robinson) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I support the honourable member for Bonython (Dr Blewett) in terms of understanding communities rather than the abstract approach reflected in the Minister’s speech.
-I call the honourable member for Holt.
– Tell us what aid Russia, the country that you support, gives to any country.
-Order! The honourable member for Holt has been called.
-The honourable member for Batman (Mr Howe) -
– When are you-
– What about you, the com from Richmond?
- Mr Deputy Speaker, are you going to handle the House or not?
-I called the honourable member for Bendigo to order. I called the honourable member for Holt twice. I ask the House to come to order. Interjections from both sides are out of order and are quite disorderly.
– I am sorry to start my speech amidst such a furore. The honourable member for Batman, after all, did say one or two very provocative things. For example, he does not understand the present foreign policy of the United States. If he had carefully read the statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) he could not have possibly made a speech of the sort that he did. He must know perfectly well that everybody associated with foreign affairs in this country expressed their profound regret about China’s sudden action of punishing a next door neighbour. It is perfectly ridiculous to pretend that neither this government nor the United States government expressed deep concern that one country should punish another. I do not know how the honourable member for Batman came to that conclusion.
– I did not mention China.
– I am not going to argue with him now. He has had his chance to debate this subject. I will go on. I tura now to an interjection by the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) about the Paracel Islands or the Spratly Islands. He questioned whether China had any legality to occupy those islands. From my knowledge of history, the islands of the South China Sea were under the control of the emperors- even the last empress- of China and the only reason those islands were under the control of Vietnam was due to the treaties drawn up by France in 1802. 1 am sorry that the honourable member for Hunter is not here but I will make further inquiries later. Let me get on with what we are really debating. On many occasions last year honourable members asked for a foreign affairs debate. Some of us were disappointed that it was not possible. On the last day of the session last year I recall that I asked the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) and Mr Speaker to recall the Parliament if Australian troops were to be committed overseas, or if the situation in Iran became worse, or if the events in Indo-China worsened. Now we have all these problems on top of us.
I believe the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Foreign Minister ought to be congratulated for ensuring that this foreign affairs debate is taking place now. I think it is not unfair too for some of us to remember those who work for the Australian foreign service in the embassies abroad and to express our thanks to them. Their influence in international affairs is much greater than the average Australian believes. Having visited the Australian Police Force in Cyprus and having met some members of the Australian peace keeping units in Ismailia and in the Suez Canal area, one can be certain that wherever there is an Australian embassy or an Australian peacekeeping force they are playing what I consider to be a first class international role on behalf of this country.
This debate is designed entirely to draw the attention of this nation to world affairs, and in particular to the war in South East Asia. Nobody can pretend that we have not been through a crisis parallel to that in Cuba. It was certainly the most tense crisis the nation has faced since 1962. I express no regret that I cabled the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations- I am certain others did also- suggesting that if the United Nations became deadlocked, it was his duty to go to Hanoi and to Peking and ask, directly, for a ceasefire and the commencement of peace negotiations. Indeed, we were certainly on the edge of World War III. I believe we must begin to look at some of the major events that have taken place and try to put them in perspective. I want to place on record my personal thanks to the officials in the embassies of China, the Soviet Union, the United States and France from whom I sought advice during the recent conflict in South East Asia.
Tonight I want to express my own views because I have been actively involved in foreign affairs since the first Parliamentary mission to China in 1955, through the Suez crisis, through Aden, and through the problems we have experienced since then. I believe that we now have to look carefully at the major events in the Far East which have changed world history. Once we get those into perspective we can see how world affairs are moving and why this action occurred in South East Asia. The first major event that changed world history in the Far East was the complete disruption of the Soviet-China communist bloc which existed right through until the early 1960s. Then there was the rise of the industrial power of Japan, the friendship treaty signed last year between China and Japan, and, in addition, the discovery of the oil field in the Gulf of Po-Ai. The next events which precipitated the crises which we have experienced were the United States’ withdrawal from Vietnam and, on the other hand, her recognition of the People’s Republic of China after 30 years. Finally, there was the sudden newfound interest of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. At one time one might have said that the Soviet Union possessed an overwhelming armed force in its conventional troops and the United States possessed an overwhelming capacity to move by sea, that one was a sea power and the other a land power. Anybody who has read the recent strategic studies will appreciate that the Soviet Union has now moved into a state of parity with the United States in both offensive and defensive weapons. Indeed, in both spheres she is certainly now in a state of parity with the United States. Therefore it is absolutely correct, given the damage that can be done by missiles in the event of a misunderstanding, that the United States and the Soviet Union should make the SALT agreement their priority above everything else.
I think that our problems have arisen through mistakes made in foreign policy. I believe that the United States has now recognised certain underlying mistakes that have occurred in past years. There is absolutely no doubt, for example, that the Middle East was confused by the foreign policy of the United States. It was difficult for the United States to understand that it was not possible to appear all the time to be arming Israel and at the same time asking the Arab states to provide the United States with all the oil she required. That was a fundamental mistake. Secondly, she did not quite understand that to continue to be antagonistic towards China was not in any way helping her policy in the Far East. All that the Soviet Union had to do, quite succinctly, was to stand by and wait for the effect of these mistakes in international affairs to manifest itself.
The honourable member for Batman (Mr Howe) gave a clear description of the situation in Iran. I think that his statements about Iran were correct. I visited Iran in 1964 and the rule of the hundred families was in question even then. I would have thought that the Western nations would realise by now that treaties like the Baghdad pact and that of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and the arming of these countries to the teeth is now completely at an end. I am most anxious to look at the new foreign policy which the United States has adopted and, in particular, at the most recent statements of President Carter. I think that his summing up of the situation of the Western world and its ideas should be made known. He said:
We need to resist two temptations: to see all changes as inevitably against the interests of the United States, as kind of a loss for ‘ us ‘ or a victory for ‘ them ‘-
Further on he said:
For us in the United States, change itself is not the enemy. Our concern is twofold. We must work to dampen conflict, to maintain peace, and we must make clear that it is dangerous for outside powers to try to exploit for their own selfish benefits this inevitable turmoil.
I wish to incorporate President Carter’s speech in Hansard as it gives a fundamental reappraisal of United States foreign policy. I seek leave to incorporate the speech in Hansard.
The speech read as follows-
1 March 1979
America’s Role in the World
Following is the text of remarks by President Carter, as delivered 22 February at the Foreign Policy Conference for editors and broadcasters held at the Department of State:
I would like to give you some of my own thoughts about the uses of American power in a changing and sometimes turbulent world. Recent events, particularly in Iran and Southeast Asia, have touched off a national debate about what America’s role should be in dealing with turbulence, and in trying to guide inevitable change.
We have been going through debates like this ever since our first President served, (George Washington) whose birthday this happens to be.
Looking back over the last several years, particularly the last two years, I have been struck by the increasing complexity of international affairs, and I am encouraged by what I judge to be a willingness on behalf of the American people to attempt to understand complex issues and not to oversimplify them, and to support policies and decisions that basically and openly address these complex issues responsibly and realistically.
Of course, there has never been any change in America’s determination, or our willingness to maintain a strong military capability or to promote the economic health and vitality of our country or to deal with and enhance the political and moral strength of our nation.
Those commitments have always been constant and unswerving. But we must also see issues that are complex very clearly. And we must devise intelligent and thoughtful responses to them.
Neither of the two events that have been so newsworthy the last few weeks, the turmoil in Iran, the conflict in South-east Asia, were of our own making. But both events placed great demands on me as President, and our ability to define and to act upon the true interests of the American people. And there are likely to be many more events like this in the future.
As the world becomes more complex, it is more important than ever before that we do not oversimplify events abroad. Bad analysis inevitably leads to bad policy. Instead, we need to be aware of the deep historical forces at work in other countries. We need to be well informed. The revolution in Iran, for example, is a product of Iranian social, political, economic, religious factors, all intertwined.
To ignore these realities or fail to understand them would lead us into taking actions that might be ineffective or irrelevant or even dangerous. But in addition to understanding the complexity of individual nations, we must also understand how changes taking place in those nations can affect the future both of that particular region and the entire world, and especially my responsibility in the United States of America.
We need to resist two temptations: To see all changes as inevitably against the interests of the United States, as kind of a loss for ‘us’ or a victory for ‘them’, or to imagine that what happens in a country like Iran will not have consequences for us and for other regions as well. We need to see what is happening not in terms of simplistic colors, black and white, but in more subtle shades- not as isolated events, but often as pan of sweeping currents that have broad significance.
At this moment there is turmoil or change in various countries from one end of the Indian Ocean to the other. Some turmoil as in Indochina is the product of age-old enmities, inflamed by rivalries or influenced by conflicting forces. Stability in some other countries is being shaken by the processes of modernization, the search for national significance or the desire to fulfil legitimate human hopes and human aspirations.
For us in the United States, change itself is not the enemy. Our concern is twofold. We must work to dampen conflict, to maintain peace, and we must make clear that it is dangerous for outside powers to try to exploit for their own selfish benefits this inevitable turmoil. That kind of exploitation can damage not only the integrity and independence of the nations that happen to be in a transition phase, but also can damage the effort to build a more secure and a more peaceful world for us all.
Let me repeat what I said at Georgia Tech earlier this week. In the Middle East, in Southeast Asia and elsewhere in the world, we will stand by our friends. We will honor our commitments and we will protect the vital interests of the United States. The United States continues to be the most powerful nation on earth- militarily, economically and politically. I am committed to preserving and even enhancing that power, not for its own sake, but for the sake of the values and the ideals of our nation. We will make responsible use of that power where our interests are directly involved or where we can help to create conditions for peace and for the independent development of other nations and for the realization of the hopes of human beings who live there.
We have forces in readiness, as you well know, which we will use if necessary. I hope that that need will never arise. I am proud that no member of the armed forces of our country has had to give his life in combat during my Administration. And I am determined to do all in my power to keep this precious peace. But let there be no mistake, our will and our determination are firm, our commitment to protecting our vital interest is unshakable. We must therefore, be very clear about where our true interests lie.
In Iran, our interest is to see its people independent, able to develop, according to their own design, free from outside interference either by us or from any other power. In Southeast Asia, our interest is to promote peace and the withdrawal of outside forces and not to become embroiled in conflict among Asian communist nations. And, in general, our interest is to promote the health and the development of the individual societies, not to a pattern cut exactly like ours in the United States, but tailored rather to the hopes and the needs and the desires of the peoples involved.
To these ends we will broaden our cooperation with our friends in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, supporting their efforts to maintain national stability and independence. We will consult closely with Congress to determine the need for additional military aid in this troubled region, the Middle East, to be used where it can be most effective. And we have called and will call on our allies to help whenever they can or will, working in partnership with us.
We are working hard for peace between Israel and her neighbors and also in other troubled areas of the world. In the future, I feel sure we will find demands on the United States to be increasing and not diminishing.
We continue to bear the burdens of maintaining a strong defense, of supporting traditional allies who depend upon us, and of working to reduce the spread of conventional and nuclear weapons.
But we also face a twilight world of change and sometimes of turmoil. We will increasingly be called upon to deal with events that do not represent basic challenges to our security, but still which require the responsible use of American influence and American power.
We have the strength and the will to act where need be, and I am confident that as a nation we have the wisdom to act wisely.
That is my responsibility in brief terms, the responsibility which you share with me.
– Let us look now at what has happened in Vietnam. I do not think there is any real dispute now. I believe that the situation there has come about because of the claims by Ho Chi Minn that Vietnam was entitled by ancient rites to rule Laos and Kampuchea. It was certainly spelt out in communist speeches and it was certainly well understood that this was the ultimate objective of Vietnam. On the other hand when I visited China as the guest of the People’s Republic, a visit for which I am grateful, it was quite clear that the Chinese, for their part, could not countenance the existence of a bloc of Soviet organised states on their southern borders. I am sorry to be simplistic, but I think the conflict has been as simple as that. They thought that when Vietnam signed the agreement with the Soviet Union Vietnam took advantage of the agreement and immediately went into Kampuchea. However I am not too certain that the Soviet Union would have encouraged Vietnam to do anything of the sort. I agree with the people on the Opposition benches who say that our main desire is to be certain that Vietnam can again reassert her independence. Of course one can see that problems have arisen. If the objective of the foreign policy of China is to make certain that Laos and Kampuchea are free and the objective of the foreign policy of Vietnam is to hold both Kampuchea and Laos we will be in serious difficulty for many years to come. Perhaps Prince Sihanouk would be one of the answers, if he could be persuaded by both sides to do so, to bringing peace to Kampuchea.
I do not intend to talk tonight about the situation in the Middle East as there is not enough time for me to do so. Everybody understands that the whole free world has always drawn oil from that area and that the United States will have to protect her interests. We cannot do without oil from the Middle East. As far as our nation is concerned, the time has come when we must really begin to think far more about our own foreign policy. We must certainly begin to see that more people go to schools and universities in our neighbouring countries. We must learn that their customs are interesting. We must learn to expect people from those states to visit us more often. We must not presume that Australia is anchored just off Holyhead and has been there for two centuries and will be there forever. We are in the Far East. We should look forward to our future in the Far East. We must have new courage and new spirit. I agree with the author of the hymn:
Oh, may this land Australia,
Thy dominion be.
Bless her people with righteousness,
From east to western sea.
If we make a start with some form of spiritual appraisal and gain knowledge of the world in which we live by making a serious effort to understand our neighbours to the north we will do ourselves a lot of good. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. That means that in all our efforts in foreign affairs we must be certain that we understand. We cannot understand without learning. We must have good knowledge of what is going on. I therefore support what Mr Speaker said this week in his address to the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne. I like one part of it in particular. It reads:
People make nations. And looking at Australia’s people, our youth, our migrants, I cannot understand anybody who is fearful of the future.
Indeed, Australia has, and stands for, a very great future. She must now take the greatest possible care in analysing her relations with Indonesia. If she makes a mistake there I guarantee not that she will survive it.
– It is of the nature of governments to find scapegoats. For one-party governments, which reign over most of the world, these are usually labelled as foreigners or traitors. For two-party systems like ours, we tend to adopt a very similar approach. One party governments are hardly distinguishable from two-party governments. We pick on Russia, China, Indonesia or the United States as being to blame in various issues and crises round the world. Those in this House, from whichever side we come, who disagree with us on these judgments are seen very often to be in league with those enemies of justice and humanity. So, by definition, we see them as being against Australia. We see something of treachery in those who have a different opinion from ours. Before we pride ourselves as much as we so often tend to do on our justice and humanity as one of the fair nations of this world, let us remember that there is no nation that does not have some blood on its hands.
The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) recently referred to the actions of the Kampuchean Government as ‘one of the most horrific records in history’. Similar accusations were hurled a short generation earlier at our present allies, Japan and Germany. But let us not forget our own sorry record. The most complete genocide that most of us have ever heard about took place in Tasmania. Similarly, in other areas of Australia whole Aboriginal nations, whole speech groups, whole tribes, whole cultures were wiped out. They disappeared. Let us not forget our sordid adventure in Vietnam for a little bit of paltry kudos. It was said that it was better to fight the Vietnamese there than here; better in their backyard than in ours. Yet events have occurred far closer to these shores when all we have done is make polite noises of protest; for example, when Indonesia promised to have a plebiscite to determine self-government in West Irian or East Timor and then contemptuously decided it was not necessary to hold an internationally supervised plebiscite. We just meekly accept that sort of thing. Yet it is all right for us to go and fight in somebody else’s backyard when we can get some sort of flag waving credit for it. The record of our short history is just as bloodstained as the record of any other nation on this earth. So Australia is a guilty nation too. We are all guilty.
Surely nobody suggests that we ought to be taught a lesson by some sort of black power movement coming down and invading the area? One would think that nobody would make that suggestion, but the Minister for Aboriginal and Islander Advancement in Queensland, Mr Porter, has warned us that that is what is coming, that if we keep giving land to Aborigines the black power will come and get us. We hear similar predictions that the Indonesians, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Russians and the Cubans are coming. We hear that all sorts of people are coming. Therefore we have to arm ourselves so that we can deter them. They are coming here, of course, to teach us a lesson so that we will behave better next time, so that we will not go on Vietnamese adventures, so that we will not persecute our Aboriginals or perhaps liberate them from our conquest. We are, of course, at this moment undergoing a peaceful conquest by some transnational corporations. I do not think it is too late for us to achieve freedom from that conquest peacefully.
The main criticism I wish to make about Australia’s foreign policy is not based on which side we take or oppose or who should be the fashionable scapegoat in this Parliament because it seems we change partners every three years. Allies in one war become our enemies in the next and vice versa. I do not think that is really what foreign affairs is all about. When the Honourable E. G. Whitlam was Prime Minister we recognised Chile and there was great dissension within the ranks of all parties in this Parliament as to whether this was a wise thing to do. They said that we should not send diplomats there. The then Prime Minister said that if we did not do that the very people we were supposed to be protecting by not recognising the military takeover would be at a disadvantage. He said that if we could maintain a diplomatic presence in Chile the refugees would have a tetter chance of coming to Australia. I think there are many times when we ought to adopt this approach. It is not a matter of posturing and gesturing, of deciding whether or not we should have a diplomatic presence. We ought to communicate even with our worst enemy. There is no human being on the face of this earth who has no good in him. There is nobody so perfect that he does not have some evil in him.
I think when we start to disagree with a country, before we get to the stage of not talking with that country other than with guns that is the very time we should be sending more diplomats to that country, not pulling them out. We should double our diplomatic representationquadruple it if necessary- and get the talks going before the guns are brought in, not afterwards. One of the previous speakers on this side of the House mentioned the $ 10 billion worth of arms that was sent by the United States of America to Iran in order to keep a presence there and to keep the fight in somebody else’s backyard. What he could have added is that not only did this achieve what was the object, in the view of some Americans, of keeping the fight away from their shores, but it also saved America’s economy from a pretty bad collapse after the Vietnam war. Something like one quarter of America’s gross national product is in the arms industry and it has increased since the Vietnam war. America had to get rid of arms somehow to keep the factories turning. She had to export them. Iran was a very good customer. No doubt the sort of trade which has been concentrated in the Arab region involves the export of very sophisticated arms, some of them so sophisticated that senior military people in America opposed their export in case, for instance, one of their super control planes should fall into the hands of the Soviets.
This is one of the major reasons for what we see as our big problem today- inflation. Oil prices rose- quadrupled- about the same time that these arms deals were expanding. America paid in the price of oil for the market she got for armaments. The armaments were not only to fight Russians, Jews or whoever Iran might see as an enemy at a particular time, but also to fight her own people. Sophisticated crowd controlriot control- equipment made in America has gone to Iran. Some exquisite torture instruments which were made in America have gone to Iran. Questions have been asked in the United States Congress as to why this sort of thing is permitted. The answers have been very feeble, just as feeble as our protests to Indonesia, which I mentioned earlier. The world is sick mainly in that it makes the wars and the arms race and ends up in fights as the so-called means of solving a dispute, mainly because we refuse to see the alternative. It is an unpalatable alternative. It is a difficult alternative but it is the only alternative. It is the one that history shows is the only alternative to a warlike end to an arms race. That is the alternative of negotiation and the rule of law, if necessary with arbitration, with mediation of some kind.
Every leader who has been faced with the question and who has answered the question frankly agrees that the ideal cause for which we should be striving is the rule of law to replace war. In other words, there should be an alternative to each sovereign nation standing up at arm’s length and saying, ‘Don’t you dare come here or we will fight you’ and then, when the other side does the same thing, finding some excuse, some provocation, to start a little bit of a warning or punishment or police action and so provoking a similar action on the first side. That is what has happened between Vietnam and China. Each country accuses the other of making the first incursion, of firing the first shot. Instead of doing that, which we did in World War I- and which, if we read the German records, we find that we did in World War II- instead of this sort of stand-off sabre rattling which leads to war as the ultimate solution, we should start sitting around the table before instead of afterwards. It is not just an idealistic, airy fairy socialist dream that this can happen. Winston Churchill, not noted for his radical teachings, said after World
War II that he had never known a war that could not have been solved by negotiation.
– The honourable member can say yes, but such action requires goodwill on both sides. I have tried to say that the goodwill is on both sides and that there is also ill-will on both sides. As long as we show our ill-will and that is the only side that our opponents see, we are not doing all that we can to ensure that negotiation takes place before the fight and that we sit around the table first and not after everybody has started to lick his wounds. When any leader is faced with this problem he agrees, as I said, that the rule of law is the alternative to war. The difficulty is to get a rule of law which will be acceptable to the antagonists; to get some sort of world authority, world court, world police or world legislature which both the Soviet Union and the United States of America will recognise as being sufficiently impartial to warrant them surrendering that much of their national sovereignty that they will accept a decision, a compromise, short of an armed solution, which nowadays is no solution.
Unfortunately, although all the leaders of the world admit that this is the ideal answer, when the acid is put on them and they are asked: ‘Why do you not teach your people this? Why do you not campaign to have this as your accepted foreign policy in your country?’, the answer always is that the other side would not do that. One gets this answer from Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union. Yet there are grass roots movements in communist countries- in Eastern Europe- in the West and in the Third World which say that this is what ought to happen, that there ought to be an elected world legislature with the power to pass laws on matters in dispute between nations. If we do not trust an elected government to be impartial- we do not trust our governments now to be impartial- on sensitive matters there could be a requirement for a two-thirds majority. If there were disagreement in the United Nations General Assembly or Security Council, a threequarters majority could be required. The people of this planet place such a high value on peace that in most cases a three-quarters majority would be obtained if the elected people accurately represented the people of the planet.
– How would you enforce it? It is impossible.
– The honourable member for Holt interjects that enforcement would be impossible. Enforcement requires only that people recognise the police force concerned. They do not recognise the police force in Queensland when it is being given stupid orders by the Premier. They do not recognise the police force in Iran when it is enforcing tyrannical rule. But if the leaders of the nations will teach their people to accept an international police force and the people will accept it, any tyrant who goes against it could be arrested, demoted or exiled. There are any number of ways to stop a man from raising an illegal army, whether it be Mr Bjelke-Petersen, somebody in the southern states of the United States, Mr Hider or anybody else. In foreign policy we ought to stress this one positive alternative to the policy we are following.
-In joining this debate I should like to give a few personal reflections which may not be what everybody wants to hear. I see my old friend the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Holding) on the other side of the chamber. I battled over some of these matters in Victoria many years ago and I hope he does not mind if I refer to some of them. My life has not been all that long but I have seen a world war. I did not fight in it because I was a little young but I have studied its causes. I see much today that parallels the pre- 1939 situation. Much can be learned if that period is studied. One of the principal things that people should study is totalitarianism, at which, in my judgment, the unlamented nazis and facists were mere amateurs. The true professionals are the communists of one kind and another- I make no distinction between them. They always were and they still are.
I have spent all of my adult life, and some of my youth, fighting them and all that they stand for wherever they are. That is why I have difficulty accepting the present Chinese overtures of friendship with Australia as being genuinely sincere. How can I? I have seen these people rise and I have fought them all my life. How can I change now? I must say that I have a little difficulty in seeing how others can do it. I have said frequently in this House and elsewhere that the only differences between the various communist parties in this world today is in the methods they would use to cut our throats. That may be a crude way of putting it but if anyone can give me a better and more practical definition of the differences between the communist parties I should like to hear it.
One can spend much time in studying ideological differences, clashes of personality and even the intrusions of nationalism, but the fundamental truth is that the dispute is still between them and all they stand for and us and all we stand for. And what do we stand for? I believe we stand for a great tradition, a peculiarly Western philosophy of liberty which has been hard won. It has not suddenly appeared. I believe that we are battling to make that philosophy become, by its own truth and by its own suggestion of truth, more world wide. And I think we are losing because of the strength of the communist parties. The one thing that unites them all is that they are fundamentally totalitarian. That can never be said about the present Western tradition of political liberalism which we have. I think it is important to say that.
I well remember the opprobrium that many of us- people of my kind- had to bear during our efforts to save South Vietnam from communism. I think it is worth remembering now that much the same thing happened when we were fighting the ideological battle to help save South Korea. We were fighting it very much against the same sort of people. Happily for the South Koreans, the world wide efforts of the communists and their friends were unsuccessful and South Korea is still not under communist control. It was said then about the South Koreans- it was also said during the Vietnam war about the South Vietnamese- that they were corrupt, that they were bankrupt of liberty and that they had a form of dictatorship. I do not propose to argue the details of those propositions.
I always said- and I still believe it- that it was impossible to bring instant democracy as we know it, with our Westminster system, to any of these places. It cannot be done overnight. Whatever those countries were suffering from- I admit that they were suffering- it was not permanent, it was not total and it was better than the communism from which they are suffering now. If honourable members want better expressions of view than I can give I refer them to our friend and colleague Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. His views on this matter are worth listening to. He frequently says that he wonders whether the people who are fleeing from South Vietnam now are sorry that they did not fight a bit harder. He knows as well as I do- and everybody in this House knows- what happened in Vietnam. Today Vietnam is totally controlled by Communism. China is totally controlled by Communism. All of Cambodia is controlled by Communism. I noted that a distinguished Chinese lady the other evening still called that country Cambodia. Communists control all of Laos. The totalitarian jackals- that is all I can call them- are on the periphery of our prosperous civilisation seeking to bite, to savage and to destroy us. That is what they are. They are fighting now amongst themselves.
I want to make several points. Firstly, I refer again to my friend from Melbourne Ports. The dominoes are falling. Oh, how we had trouble in demonstrating the validity of the domino theory. Fun was made of us. It was said that we did not understand world politics and that we had no idea of the real world. I think we had a better idea of the real world and what happened in the real world- and what has happened since- than those who opposed us at that time. All the things we warned against are coming true.
My second point is that the dispute amongst the totalitarian gangsters- the Soviet Union, China and Vietnam- proves what I have always thought about them. It should have salient lessons for those who work along with any of these mass murderers. I have heard one or two speeches in this place which if they were not apologies for the gangsterism that we have seen in north Asia recently I do not know what they were.
– The honourable member for Hunter.
– Oh, I make no reference. The third point is that Australia is of definite interest to all three of those countries. I leave it to the imagination of members of the House to work out how far that interest might extend. I am willing to risk the laughter of those people who have laughed for years about this matter. In fact, when I have spoken in this manner- I have spoken in this manner when the situation was perhaps less serious than it is now- the people where I come from have said to me: ‘Oh, there he is again. He is waiting for the sampans to come up the Swan River.’ I would have good reason to worry because the Swan River runs through most of my electorate, and I do not want them coming up that river. Putting jokes aside, this is the sort of simplistic stupidity that is uttered when one makes a criticism or a statement of the world as it is.
I see no reason to change any view that I have ever had about totalitarianism. Equally I have good reason to change my views about the importance of our American connections. I will always be grateful that American blood and treasure purchased my liberty from Imperial Japan. As I look around this chamber I see that not too many honourable members are present. It is a fact that American blood and treasure purchased our liberty from the ambitions of Imperial Japan. That occurred not so very long ago.
I would like the House to remember that. Nevertheless, I believe that America is shattered after almost deliberately losing in Vietnam. But I have to laugh when I hear this nonsense about the greatest military power in the world, as it was then, going down to a bunch of amateurs in big warfare- perhaps they are masters of guerrilla warfare but amateurs in big warfare- who were ill-equipped and undermanned. When I hear stories that this power was beaten in a straight fight by North Vietman it makes me laugh. Everybody in this place knows that, for various political reasons which I might go into later, the American effort slackened. That is why Vietnam was lost. The Americans did not lose a military war, they lost a psychological war. The losing of that war has had tragic consequences for us and everybody else in the South East Asian region. If honourable members do not believe me they should ask Lee Kuan Yew. He is a few thousand miles closer to the centre of activity than we are.
I believe that we are in a difficult situation because we have tended to base almost all of our defence and foreign policy on the fundamental belief that American assistance would be forthcoming. As I said before, America has been shattered following the Vietnam war. While conceding a nuclear as well as a conventional weaponry superiority to the Soviet, America is not willing to engage or capable of engaging again in South East Asia, if Australia is the only concern. I say that deliberately because everything I have seen and heard bears it out. The document I have seen most recently is a paper of the United States International Communication Agency written by Arthur Schlesinger Junior and dated 1 March 1978. 1 think a few extracts from his paper support the point that I am trying to make. He states:
I have been a card-carrying geopolitician ever since I first read Halford MacKinder and Nicholas Spykman 33 years ago.
That qualification certainly seems to be as credible and as good as the credentials of our Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) who is some geopolitician also. Arthur Schlesinger further states:
I have believed all my sentient life that foreign policy must be based on national interest.
How many times have I said that in this place? He continues:
I have always subscribed to George Washington’s observation that it was ‘a maxim founded on the universal experience of mankind, that no nation is to be trusted farther than it is bound by its interests. ‘
I think these sentiments give honourable members further reason to believe what I am saying. I say in relation to what Mr Schlesinger has had to say: ‘Them’s my sentiments’, to put it in simple Australian. I think that we have to look at the proposition before we will accept it. The sooner that people will accept that as the rule of the world, instead of the woolly nonsense that comes out of places like the United Nations and certain other conferences with which I do not have time to deal, the sooner that people believe that as the hard reality of this world, the sooner we will get down to a harder debate in this country about what are the realities. Arthur Schlesinger further states:
It was the Wilsonian conviction of our global mission, not realistic calculations of our national interest, that got us into Vietnam.
All we needed after Vietnam to persuade the world of our weakness and incompetence was to have got heavily involved once more on the losing side in a third world civil war.
He goes on to talk about an author whose name I will not mention. He continues:
He goes on to state:
To recognise the power of nationalism and the local origins of turbulence in the hopelessly unstable third world does not mean American indifference to the vicissitudes of international life.
The key sentence is this:
It means rather a discrimination in the definition of Amernan interests and in the employment of American power.
If that is true- I believe it is- how could we realistically expect help from the United States if we had a conflict of interests with China, Japan, Indonesia or even India? The Americans might give us a prayer, as Kennedy did when we had a conflict of interests with Indonesia over West New Guinea. Perhaps I am the only one who remembers that incident. I am sure that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Holding) can remember it. I do not intend to ramble around Africa and the United Nations. I think other members in this place and people from elsewhere have rambled around with disastrous results for the rest of the world. I repeat what I have said previously, namely, that the Department of Foreign Affairs should be helping the country to find new and reliable oil supplies, for until we are self-sufficient- we are slow about finding supplies- we may find ourselves in dire peril.
What I have had to say has not been terribly polite, but it is plain, and I think that plain speaking is refreshing. It is refreshing for me even if it is not for other honourable members. In our semi-prosperous society it is easy to believe that things will always be the same, simply because that is what we are accustomed to. I point out that we are a European civilisation living in the Asian region. We are rich, tragically underpopulated and it seems that we are determined to stay that way. After all, we fund the killing of our unborn children. We will hear all about that in the next week of sitting. We are not strongly defended. I hope that the drum beats in Asia and the murderous antics of the gang of three- the Soviet Union, China and Vietnam- are heard and noted by every Australian. We live here now, but for how much longer?
-(Hon. Ian Robinson) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The events of the last few weeks in Iran and the emergence and intensification of the Sino- Vietnamese conflict, I think should have proved the difficulties implicit in any endeavour to formulate a coherent foreign policy and, more importantly, to relate the objectives of that foreign policy to the production and practical implementation of a sophisticated defence strategy. I believe that the purpose of this debate should not simply be to enable honourable members to engage in exercises of moralistic judgment or adopt the rhetoric of the 1950s. Rather it should be to get down to the very difficult task of trying to formulate a foreign policy strategy and to relate it to a defence policy strategy. At the moment, one of the real criticisms that I have of this Government is that, looking at the operation of our Defence Department, there seems to be little that is coherent and certainly little that is related to the implementation of practical defence strategy objectives in accordance with the very fast movement in the Foreign Affairs area.
I would have hoped that certain conclusions could be drawn from the present world situation. Apparently the honourable member for Swan (Mr Martyr) is still locked into the rhetoric of the 1950s and finds it difficult to accept certain historical facts. I would have thought that one of the conclusions that all honourable members should draw is that it is no longer possible to characterise a nation with a communist government as part of one giant political monolith or even as part of two giant political monoliths. The matter is much more complex than that. I would have thought also that the speciousness of the position relating to the domino theory which provided the basis of much of the Liberal and National Country party thinking in the early 1970s would be laid to rest.
On any view of what is occurring in South East Asia, to say that the events that have occurred there over the last 12 months prove the domino theory as it was expounded at the height of the Vietnamese conflict by members of the Liberal and National Country parties is unrealistic. Members of the Liberal and National Country parties were perfectly happy to distribute political pamphlets which, geographically, showed Australia very close to Asia and China. Those pamphlets had a big red line coming out of Australia with the caption: ‘Better to stop them there than have them come here’. As always in such situations, the ‘them’ was the Chinese rather than the Vietnamese.
I think part of the difficulty that we face in this situation is the fact that the Australian people’s own regional isolation and European heritage have left us singularly ill-equipped as a community to understand the complex mix of historical, cultural, territorial and international factors that have led to the war currently raging between China and Vietnam, and Vietnam and Kampuchea. I want to concentrate on aspects of those events because I believe that as they are events which affect very graphically the future of Australia they need a great deal more attention than they have been given by this Government. Let me say at the outset that I reject the moral stance of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) when he says: ‘It is perfectly all right for this Government to recognise what was clearly an act of aggression by the Indonesian Government against the Timorese people. It is perfectly all right for Austrafia to stand to one side and refuse to recognise in any way at all the legitimate claims of the Timorese people for their own independence’. That is an event that has occurred on our own doorstep and I believe that the Australian Government- and I include the Whitlam Government in this- made a tragic strategic blunder when Indonesia invaded Timor.
Those events have taken place, but on what basis does the Prime Minister wax moral about withdrawing aid from Vietnam by virtue of its invasion of Kampuchea, while at the same time turning a blind eye to what was clearly an act of aggression by the Indonesian Government against a small nation very near our border that was unable to defend itself adequately? It is that kind of moralistic jingoism from the Prime Minister that makes me fearful for the formulation of anything like a sophisticated foreign policy which would involve Australia in moving with considerable sophistication into the area of South East Asia. In my view, looking at what has occurred between China and Vietnam and between Vietnam and Kampuchea, it is not possible to make the sorts of moral judgments that have been made in this House by the Prime Minister.
– What are your thoughts about the invasion?
– I will be happy to deal with them. That is a matter that I want to move to.
– What side do you support?
– The fact is that after the Vietnamese war was over -
– Is yours the Peking line of the Kremlin line?
- Mr Deputy Speaker, are you going to shut up that fool?
- (Hon. Ian Robinson)- Order! The honourable member for Melbourne Ports has the call. The House will come to order.
– After the end of the conflict in Vietnam, ambitious plans were made for Vietnamese reconstruction. That required a large proportion of funding from non-communist sources, including such institutions as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It also involved bilateral aid and loans. The plans envisaged extensive trade with non-communist countries and the import of Western technology. This was part of a liberal economic package which looked to the gradual introduction of socialism in the south. I believe that the failure to obtain co-operation in these objectives from countries such as America helped to produce the economic set-backs that Vietnam has experienced since 1975. In part, the lack of Western support forced the Vietnamese Government to adopt more orthodox Soviet style communist policies and to lean increasingly upon the Soviet Union for support. It ought to be pointed out that if we have learned anything from the history of Vietnam it is that Russians and Vietnamese interests do no perfectly coincide and that the fiercefully nationalistic Vietnamese are not likely to become simply puppets of the Soviet Union. It is notable that Vietnam has still not endorsed Russia’s proposal for an Asian collective security scheme and that it continues to be a member of such institutions as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
When one looks at the factors which are involved in the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea one sees that for a long time there has been conflict between Vietnam and Cambodia over the demarcation of borders.
– Do you agree with their attack?
– I do not agree with any nation attacking another nation and I believe that an act of aggression is an act of aggression and ought to be condemned. Unlike the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier), I have condemned publicly the Indonesian act of aggression against the Timorese. The honourable gentleman wants to wax eloquent about the war that is raging in Vietnam but wants to turn a blind eye to what is happening off the northern coast of Australia. The fact is that armed clashes have been going on between Vietnam and Kampuchea since as far back as 1975. In September 1977 both sides were engaged in multidivisional attack miles inside opposition territory. None of those events was of any great concern then to any member on the Government side; nor were they a matter of any great concern to the Australian Government. The situation changed in December 1978 when Vietnam launched a major invasion with an army of 120,000 to 140,000 troops. I condemn that act of aggression but I do not believe that it pays us to be moralistic and jingoistic about it because all the fault is not on one side. In this regard I refer to a statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock). In the National Times of 3 March 1979 he was quoted as saying:
You would be deaf, dumb, and mentally deficient not to recognise that there was a greater accord between Australia and China in the region.
It is perfectly true that Australia has increasing trade relations with China. It is true that our diplomatic and other relations with China are improving. But, by virtue of these facts, it is absurd not to recognise that Vietnam is also an important regional force and a force with which Australia will have to live in South East Asia for many years to come. I do not believe that it is possible to draw any clear moral distinction between Vietnamese and Chinese actions. I believe that it is false strategy at this time to engage in positions based upon moral and pontifical statements which are designed essentially to alienate Hanoi, because the effect of any strategy of isolation is to drive Hanoi further into the arms of the Soviet Union. That of itself will increasingly exacerbate tensions between China and both of her neighbours. It must be a matter of concern. Anyone who has been to China knows that throughout China, at almost every level and on almost every street there is concern and fear about an attack by the Soviet Union. They are deeply fearful about their northern border. Equally, one can understand that China will be, and obviously is, concerned when it sees that in the communist world the Vietnamese are operating in an increasingly closer alliance with, and with an increasing dependence upon, the Soviet Union.
One fact that must be looked at- Australia would be making a grave mistake if it ignored it-is that actions by China have helped to produce that situation. It would be a grave mistake indeed if the Australian Government were to follow a policy of isolating the Vietnamese because such a policy would, in the long term, serve only to increase tensions in that area. I believe that the sooner we consign the sort of statements that we have heard tonight from the honourable member for Swan (Mr Martyr), the old rhetoric of the Cold War, to the trash can of history, where they belong, the better off we will all be. The time has come when Australia must grow up very quickly in the field of foreign affairs.
I would like to conclude on the note on which I began. To me, the formation of foreign policy is not just a simple exercise in determining one ‘s relationships with one’s neighbours and with other nations. Australia has an important contribution to make to world councils, in endeavouring to relieve and reduce tensions in this part of the world. The fact that nobody sees Australia as a world power, that nobody believes that we have aggressive territorial designs on other nations, means that there are other situations in which, diplomatically, we are able to achieve much that large powers such as the United States cannot necessarily achieve with the same finesse, simply because they are world powers. I believe that that is a responsibility that we must adopt.
It is also very important at this stage to view foreign policy assessments and strategy frankly and candidly, to argue our way through them and then relate them to the defence strategies which have to be adopted by the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen). On another occasion I intend to be deeply critical about what I regard as the complete inadequacy of, and the maladministration that exists in, that realm of Government operations.
- (Hon. Ian Robinson)- Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-‘We will bury you’, was, I believe the assertion, the threat, that was made by the Soviet Premier in the sixties in addressing remarks to the American nation. That threat must have been real, as it is now. The record was evident even theft, and the rape of Hungary stands as a monument to the fulfilment of that threat by the Soviet Union in the fifties- a monumental example of interference, invasion and the rape of another nation’s independence. Yet the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) entered the chamber today and defended the role of Russia in world affairs, defended similar actions involving interference and intervention in violation of the rights of others- such as the events in Vietnam and Kampuchea- and the support and encouragement of the actions of Cubans in the continent of Africa. I do not appreciate a speech made in this House, which stands for democracy, one that obviously has been prepared in the office of an embassy in Canberra, by a foreign power. Opinions expressed in this House should reflect an Australian attitude.
– I rise to a point of order. The honourable member for Hunter is not here. The comment that a speech by a member of this House was prepared in a foreign embassy is a reflection upon the members of the House and I ask the honourable member to withdraw the accusation.
– Get the honourable member for Hunter in here. That is exactly what he said.
– He is not here and an accusation has been made against him. I am asking that it be withdrawn.
– (Hon. Ian Robinson)- Order! There is no point of order.
– I draw attention to the state of the House. ( Quorum formed.)
– I rise to a point of order. I understand from a reliable source that during my absence the honourable member for Dawson (Mr Braithwaite) alleged that my speech had been written by a member of the Soviet Embassy. It is a wicked, dirty, filthy lie and I ask him to withdraw it immediately.
- (Hon. Ian Robinson)- If the honourable member for Hunter wishes to make a personal explanation at the appropriate time he will be quite entitled to do so.
– Rubbish. I move:
The question having been put-
– (Hon. Ian Robinson)- Is a division required?
Honourable members interjecting.
– (Hon. Ian Robinson)- Is a division required?
– I said that a division was required. Are you deaf?
-Order! I think that the honourable member for Reid had better watch his comments.
– Well, I am not very happy with your party, with the Country Party.
Motion (by Mr Uren) put:
That the honourable member be not further heard.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Hon. Ian Robinson)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) put:
That the honourable member for Dawson be granted an extension of time.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Hon. Ian Robinson)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Order 76 states:
All imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.
Mr Deputy Speaker, you will be aware that Mr Speaker Snedden has always upheld this Standing Order when remarks considered offensive to an honourable member have been made. In my 19 years in the Parliament an accusation has never been made against me as severe and as insulting as that made by the honourable member for Dawson. I understand that he alleged in this House a moment ago that my speech tonight on foreign affairs was prepared in a foreign embassy. In all seriousness, if any honourable member wants to read my speech and read page 241 of the English New Statesman, from which I drew most of my remarks and to which I have been subscribing for many years -
As a Government, even as a people, our attitudes- politically, economically and socially- will change externally just as frequently as rulers in other nations change and attitudes are remoulded. It should be noted that the leaders of countries such as the Soviet Union have remained unchanged as far as policies are concerned, and we can expect them to act in the future as they have in the past. History is full of disasters and challenges to civilisation. Can it be that since World War II, since the Korean and Vietnam wars, there has been a change in our attitude to world affairs? To be completely honest, in view of today’s sophisticated weaponry, Australia’s lack of such weaponry and our financial and physical incapacity to provide it, and perhaps in the light of the general de.sire of people to adopt the head-in-the-sand approach of the ostrich, the modern weapons for the defence of our nation are not guns but our relationships with foreign nations, the good will that we create through those relationships, the extent of our aid to underdeveloped nations, and the extend to which the people of those nationsnot the officials or the politicians- can identify that aid with Australians as people demonstrating a compassion and a concern for them.
– I should like to make some comments on the pearls dropped by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) in his pompous ‘Geo-political situation- a pattern of instability’ speech. He started by making the comment:
During the period in which I have been responsible for Australia’s foreign policy, international affairs have been largely dominated by economic issues . . .
I cannot dispute that. He went on:
I have consistently and emphatically sounded one warning: that it is utterly and dangerously wrong to assume that the prominence these economic questions have acquired means that the traditional issues of power politics are no longer of fundamental importance.
How innocent can a Foreign Minister be? Surely power politics is all about economic power? Economic power is power politics. What a lot of mumbo jumbo, and of course the rest of the Minister’s speech went on to prove the point that apparently he has not understood that. He mentioned that South East Asia is again the scene of armed conflict created by the hostility and rivalry existing amongst four states- the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam and Kampuchea. No one else contributed to them. No one else wanted them. Again, how innocent can we be? Is the Minister really suggesting that whatever the reasons for the conflicts between those states, we are not involved, we are not interested? I should have thought that the whole of the Western world was interested in China, if for no other reason than the resources it has that we hope to get and the goods we can sell to it in the process of China’s development. I should have thought that everybody knew that one of the factors in the Vietnam war was the enormous resources hidden away in Vietnam. Part of the conflict between Vietnam and China revolves around who is going to control the oil that might be in the sea around that state. Will it be China or will it be Vietnam? Of course the Soviet Union is interested, and so are we. What pompous nonsense to suggest that this is just a conflict between four nominally communist states. The Minister went on to talk about various other areas of conflict such as the Middle East and Africa, and he said, in a great revelation: . . 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.
That is exactly the point. We are interested. It is a worry to us because in those areas are resources we want. They are the source of economic power. They are areas for economic exploitation. Power politics is nothing but struggle for economic power. The Minister went on:
My fourth general observation -
Lovely tones! Of course, the Minister acts it beautifully as he says it- is that all the conflicts and instability to which I have referred are taking place in Third World countries.
Of course they are because they are the only areas left which have resources available for the rest of us to plunder if we can. The Minister stated further:
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.
That is precisely the case because that is where our hope lies for the survival of the economic system in which we so passionately believe. If we cannot get those resources we have very little hope of achieving the economic survival and prosperity which we have grown accustomed to expect and which we think we are entitled to expect. The Minister went on to say:
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.
What he means by that is that the United States has sought to intrude less directly than it did, for example, in Vietnam and Cuba. The United States has had its nose rubbed in the dirt, particularly in Vietnam. As a result, the United
States has adopted a strategically less active policy. But that has not meant that it has been any less interested in what is going on. It has tried to be a little more subtle but it has had the same end view in mind- to gain economic power. The Minister then said:
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.
The United States was prompted to use armed intervention initially but it is now seeking the same hold over those countries in power terms because of the resources. It has shown no more concern for the real development of those countries. So it has met with the same lack of success as it met with its armed intervention. The Minister goes on in a sense to explain it all. I wonder whether he really has learnt a lesson from his own words. He said: . . that exceedingly rapid economic growth can cause profound social, cultural and political dislocation . . . 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.
I hope that he understands what he has said because in the process of economic development, even if it is on our behalf, if we are seeking to promote it in order to exploit a region we are doing it for a variety of reasons. The resources are there, the manpower is there, the labour is cheap, the conditions are poor and the people are at this stage content with little. It is an easy area for exploitation. But the inevitable result of our exploitation, of the flaunting of the material advantages that come from economic development and of the flaunting of our wealth- we cannot help but show our wealth because we have to send some technicians and some managers to help the countries to development and we insist on giving our people the same conditions as they enjoy at home, so that it is very obvious in those countries that we are a wealthy nation- is that the people in those countries have an opportunity to perceive the sorts of things they have never aspired to in the past.
We seek to develop those countries in economic terms. We then have to proceed to educate some of those people to acquire the technological skills necessary for that exploitation. That, inevitably, will raise the expectations of those people. That is how we sow the seed of our destruction. As we raise the expectations of only some of those people they will start to ask why it is that they work for the interests of Western countries in the economic development of their own country but their own country gets very little benefit. Inevitably, the word will spread when they are in contact with their own people, their relations and friends and they will say: ‘We too could enjoy these benefits if we could control the situation’. It must lead to social and, therefore, political instability. The Minister also stated:
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.
That is precisely what I have just said. We cannot expect to seek to exploit those countries economically whilst ignoring the plight of the poor. We must do something to help the social development of that country, which means that we will have to be prepared to take less from those countries. We will have to be prepared to allow them to retain more of the wealth that has been exploited. The Minister then went on to discuss the Vietnamese situation. He talked about the Vietnamese attack on Kampuchea as an attack by a client of the Soviet Union on a client of China. The Minister said:
Whatever its motivation the attack bore directly on the rivalry and competition between the Soviet Union and China . . .
I do not want to enter into a debate on whether that is true. I want to accept the Minister’s assumptions as being true. He stated further:
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 other words, China wants to control something slightly beyond its reach. The Minister continued:
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.
I think that is where we have let ourselves down. Accepting the Minister’s assumptions, what he is saying is that Vietnam has behaved in the way it has because it is beholden to and dependent upon the Soviet Union. Why is Vietnam in that situation? Vietnam suffered a long war in which we played a small part. I do not want to argue the justice or otherwise of it; I simply point out that as a result of that conflict Vietnam, at the end of the war, was a devastated country. It was barely able to look after itself. Perhaps in many ways it was unable to do so. Part of the settlement, such as it was, was the feeling that Australia, the United States and other countries would help Vietnam economically. We did in a very modest way for a short time. It was almost meaningless support. Because of the growing conflict we have responded by offering less support, not more. We accepted the fact that Vietnam was in a difficult economic position but we withdrew our support. China was apparently offering considerable support but it withdrew its support. What was Vietnam supposed to do? Was it supposed to lie down and die? Vietnam did what any other country would do. It sought aid where it could and that aid came from the Soviet Union.
The inevitable result- I am using the Minister’s argument- is that Vietnam is now beholden to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I do not care whether it is right or wrong; I do not want to argue the case. I am simply accepting the Government’s own logic. If that is true why did we withdraw our aid to Vietnam? Why are we not encouraging America, Canada, France and other countries to offer aid to Vietnam so that Vietnam can afford to be more independent of its present sole supporter? Accepting the Government’s approach to the world, not mine, and its fear of massive communist blocs, why has it forced Vietnam into the Soviet orbit? Why has it encouraged Vietnam, in its conflict with China, to seek refuge in the arms of the Soviet Union?
Honourable members opposite are idiots. Using their own logic, they are unintelligent. If the Government believes what it says it should be offering aid to Vietnam to enable it to restore its country. After all, we had a significant hand in destroying much of the country. We destroyed the agriculture and the fertility of the country because we used defoliants and so on. Why not help Vietnam to resuscitate itself so that it can be independent? I do not believe that any of those countries really wish to be dependent on any other country. If they all are independent of one another, using the Government’s value and argument, it would be better for Australia. For these reasons, I think honourable members opposite are quite unintelligent. The Minister, in the way that he argues about Vietnam and why it has attacked Kampuchea, has shown a total lack of understanding of his self-interests. I think really that the Minister deserves to be kicked out, but I guess that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is even less intelligent about the situation and thinks that the Minister for Foreign Affairs is doing a good job.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! It being 10.30 p.m., I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I now leave Vietnam and turn, as did the Minister for Foreign Affairs, to Iran to emphasise again the idiocy of this Government’s own logic. Until very recently Iran, although its regime was repressive, was an important force for order and stability in an extremely volatile area. When will we learn that we cannot depend upon repressive regimes for very long? When will we learn that it serves our interests better to promote the development of freedom and democracy? To put our faith in military dictators is sowing the seeds of our own destruction. Need one go on? I could mention the whole problem of resources. The Minister discussed the threat to the West because of lack of oil supplies. We have tried to protect our self-interest by propping up manifestly unjust regimes and so we have sown what we have deserved- disaster. People cannot be repressed forever.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I think, as many members on both sides of the House have said during the course of this debate, that this is a most important occasion and we should be discussing a matter of great significance to the future of this country. I think it is utterly regrettable that an incident occurred earlier this evening which only demonstrated the puerility of the approach of some members. I think this did the stature of this House a great deal of harm. I was interested in a number of contributions from members on both sides of the House. I was particularly interested in the remarks of the honourable member for Swan (Mr Martyr). One of the most disturbing characteristics of recent history has been the decline of democracy throughout the world.
-i raise a point of order. The Minister has made a reflection not only on the Chair but also on other honourable members. The fact is that he is not the adjudicator. I do not think that he was in the House at the time of the incident. If he was he would know that only one person is to blame, and that is the honourable member for Dawson who made the accusations.
-Order! No point of order is involved. The honourable member for Reid will resume his seat.
– As I was saying, one of the most disturbing characteristics of recent history has been the decline of democracy throughout the world. We witness almost daily the steady stripping away of individual freedoms- of a person’s right to disagree and to have a meaningful opportunity to influence the management of the affairs of his country. Dictatorships of the Left and the Right; one party states; totalitarianism in its ugliest forms, abound and multiply. The honourable member for Swan drew attention to this fact.
-So did I.
– And so did the honourable member for Robertson. Some may suggest that the democratic process has within it the seeds of its own destruction, a fatal weakness centering on its very liberalism, a weakness because of its insistence on allowing and encouraging debate and dissent, a weakness exemplified internally by a failure to deal with small groups holding the nation to ransom and externally by hesitancy in opposing anti-democratic forces and an inability to sustain long term resistence in the event of conflict.
I do not for a moment believe this ‘selfdestruct’ theory about democracy. I believe all who value democracy must be aware of the dangers and the stresses that democracies face. Democracies, if they are to survive, and I fervently hope they do, must find the will, the courage and the sheer belief in themselves to resist and repel those internal and external threats to their very existence. I say this because there have been few short periods in world history when events such as those of the past few months have had such threatening implications. As the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) said:
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 . . .
In the modern world no country and no continent can isolate and insulate itself from events in other areas. The events in Iran have important implications for the international economy as well as for the internal stability of that country and of the Middle East. The direct interests of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics stretch from Europe to Vietnam, and it is involving itself directly and through surrogates in Africa, the Indian Ocean and other areas.
The resurgence of Islam affects countries from Yugoslavia to Indonesia and many African countries I stress that point. The problems of the Middle East and Southern Africa remain unresolved, threatening to involve countries outside the immediate regions. Even in Europe the continuing military imbalance in conventional military strength between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Warsaw Pact countries has put at risk the political and strategic stability of one of the largest and most economically important areas in the modern world. This is occurring at a time when the established political leaders grow older and as the long-term relationships between and within countries of the region come under new forms of test.
As the Minister for Foreign Affairs has made clear, the area of our immediate strategic concern is South East Asia and mainland Asia. No responsible government in Australia could fail to be concerned by the immensity of the threat to Australia’s and the region’s security posed by the fighting now taking place in Kampuchea and hopefully now ending in Vietnam. The Government promptly and correctly determined the course that events in that area were likely to follow. There is no satisfaction for the Government in being able to say ‘We told you so’. The situation is much too serious for people to bury their heads in the sands of ideology or of complacency about some goal of Australian non-involvement in areas that do not directly concern us.
The Government has been frank and honest about the grave consequences of recent events. It must be of great concern to the Australian people that Opposition members, with a few notable exceptions, have sought to reserve their greatest invective not for any of the participants in armed conflict, not for those countries where human rights are not respected, but for Australian governments of the present and the past.
The invective, admonitions and sermons of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden), the Deputy Leader of” the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen), the shadow Foreign Minister, Senator Wriedt, and the shadow Minister for Defence, the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes), are said to be built on the proud foundation of knowledge, accurate analysis, sound judgment and logic. We are asked to give the utmost credence to the statements of Senator Wriedt and the honourable member for Corio. After all, as recently as 22 January this year they issued a joint press statement which accused the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Government of seeking overseas issues to defuse local ones. They made the following emphatic judgment:
The events in Vietnam and Kampuchea are largely the continuation of a long historical struggle between the two countries and it is highly unlikely that any other country including China and the Soviet Union will become involved directly.
That was not a snap judgment. Two weeks earlier in Hobart Senator Wriedt had issued a press statement saying:
I do not believe that either the Chinese or Soviet Governments will become directly involved in the conflict as neither would be prepared to risk a major confrontation with each other over the dispute.
So much for the Opposition’s knowledge, sound judgments and analysis! Let us look at the Opposition’s logic and consistency. On 27 February in the Senate Senator Wriedt placed Indonesia in the same category as Vietnam drawing a parallel between East Timor and Kampuchea. He accused this Government of glossing over the enormity of what Indonesia did in that particular episode and his words were reiterated by the Leader of the Opposition in this House. But almost in the same breath Senator Wriedt said that if the Australian Government wanted to have the capacity to mediate in any future disputes it must have the trust of both sides and it should be careful about what it said in years gone by as well as in the weeks and months gone by. Obviously the Opposition seeks to have it both ways. As a consequence it is readily exposed as having not thought the matter through and as being bereft of a recognisable and coherent policy.
We had this evening the performance of the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren). He made a notable contribution to this House. He reserved his greatest invective not for the Australian Government but for the Government of the United States of America. He sought to denigrate the performance of countries which are of the utmost significance to us. He castigated this present Government because of events in relation to East Timor which took place in the past. He was a member of the Government which had to bear, and which has to bear, the utmost stigma for the performance of any Australian Government in relation to such a matter.
One of the main problem areas of the Opposition is the continuing outflow of refugees from Indo-China, and particularly from Vietnam. The naivete of Opposition spokesmen about the reasons for the outflow, the destabilising effect within the region and, last but by no means least, the grave humanitarian consequences of the outflow is staggering. First, the Opposition said they were not refugees. Then it said they were pimps and prostitutes. Now, in the words of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this debate, they are the products of half a decade’s intensifying sentiment against Vietnamese of Chinese origin. Opposition members should go and talk to refugees who have come to Australia and see how many pimps and prostitutes they can find. They should recognise that many people of other than Chinese origin have sought to leave Vietnam and other countries of Indo-China. Most importantly, they should grasp the fact that the outflow of refugees from Vietnam and other countries has directly affected Australia, just as it has directly affected other countries in the region. Here, of course, the Opposition’s solution is to provide more aid to Vietnam. How much aid would have been necessary to improve conditions to a stage where refugees would not seek to flee? How would increased aid have influenced those persons under threat of being sent to new economic zones? But, of course, the honourable member for Reid says that the Australian Government did not know what was going on. He denies that the Vietnamese Government was involved in sending refugees from Vietnam. The facts are undeniable. The Government of Vietnam has been involved in organised movements of people from Vietnam. Should we provide more aid to enable them to make the operations more efficient?
The Australian Government has taken a leading role in fostering international action to alleviate the problems of Indo-Chinese refugees. We shall continue to use all available means to improve the situation and to involve more countries in refugee assistance and resettlement. I make the point that the question of resettling refugees throughout the world is one of the greatest problems with which Western nations have to contend.
In view of the matters of grave concern mentioned by the Minister for Foreign Affairs last week, especially the events in the Middle East and South East Asia and the general pattern of strategic instability, with Europe concentrating on its own interests and the United States playing a less active role in the general strategic and political environment, Austrafia must look to its own situation with renewed honesty and perception. We cannot afford to be surprised by changes in the strategic situation. We cannot rely on hope that all will be well. We must not allow ourselves to fall into the trap of believing that what we regard as serious domestic problems are viewed in the same light by other nations, other peoples.
We should all learn to see ourselves as others see us. Australia is perceived as being a very large country, with very great natural resources, and a small population- a population enjoying a very high standard of living. If we were to attempt to isolate ourselves from the world, if we were to appear selfish in our attitude to our resources, if we were not to play our part in the succour and resettlement of disadvantaged people such as the Indo-Asian refugees, then there would be an ever-increasing resentment towards us, particularly amongst those countries geographically close to us, and amongst the underdeveloped nations throughout the world. It would be a resentment very much against our long-term interests.
It is fashionable amongst some to say that Australia is part of Asia. I do not think that this is true for a moment. Nor do I think that the Asian nations believe it to be so. I believe that they see us, and we should see ourselves, as a nation with a different cultural heritage but one in a unique position to understand and assist those less developed nations in our geographical region. Because we obviously have no territorial ambitions, because we have proved ourselves a people who, over the years, have resisted tyranny and oppression, because we are willing to share our resources, because we have shown our practical concern and compassion for homeless refugees, and because we have never been part of the ageold rivalries and historic arrangements concerning our Asian neighbours, we nave the capacity to act as an honest broker in an increasingly troubled area of the world. At home the Government believes that it is necessary to be open with the people of Australia about the serious nature of the global geo-political situation. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has given prior warnings of impending serious situations, explaining our understanding of current and likely future situations, what we are doing now and how we are doing it. He has explained that the only bias this Government has in regional affairs is a bias towards continuing peace and stability. We have made our position clear to other governments and in the United Nations.
The debate underlines the fact that we cannot ignore questions of self-preservation, of defensive capacity and mutual defence arrangements in our region. I do not believe that there is any serious difference between Government and Opposition on these points. This Government would abdicate its responsibilities if it did not encourage the Australian community to recognise the inter-dependence of international action, to take stock of the implications for Austrafia and to begin to think about the courses we must pursue.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The Minister’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr Morris) adjourned.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Dairy Produce Sales Promotion Amendment Bill 1979.
Defence Force (Retirement and Death Benefits Amendments) Bill 1979.
National Fitness Amendment Bill 1979.
Motion (by Mr MacKellar) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
-Mr Deputy Speaker -
– You have grabbed the adjournment.
– Yes, this is the first time in 12 months that I have spoken in the adjournment debate.
-Order! The honourable member will address his remarks through the Chair.
– Last Monday I received a visit from 17 students who attend the Gosford Technical College. They were all girls aged between 16 and 22 years. Most of these young girls finished school last year. Some had been out of work for a little over 6 to 12 months. I had hoped that the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) would be in the House. I understand that he is not in Canberra at the moment but I want him to take this matter up. These girls came to see me because for some months they had been unable to find work. Some of them had been searching for work for 12 to 1 8 months. They decided that they should undertake an intensive course of typing and shorthand- a receptionist-typist course- at the Gosford Technical College. They did so because they had found that they lacked some of the necessary skills for certain sorts of jobs and they believed that this course would make them more suitable for employment when it became available. They took the intensive course because it involved studying for four hours a day three days a week, a total of 12 hours per week. They made it clear to the Commonwealth Employment Service that at any time a job was available they were prepared to leave the course and start work. The result of their endeavours to improve themselves is that their unemployment benefits were chopped off.
We have heard a lot about this Government’s desire for people to undertake training to make them fitter for employment and about job training schemes. We hear that the younger people are not fitted for employment. These 17 young girls who could not find work made the effort at their own expense, time and trouble to fit themselves for jobs, but because a limit of eight hours study is imposed by the Department of Social Security they are not eligible for unemployment benefit. The Government has successfully ensured that these girls will have to cease the course, register as unemployed and go back to receiving unemployment benefits. I think that this is the most disgraceful thing I have ever heard. That provision is fair enough if the people concerned are undertaking full time study. They are then eligible for assistance under the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme. But these girls come between the two categories. They are willing to leave their courses at any stage and go to work. This situation makes a mockery of the Government’s claim that it is concerned about the young unemployed. These girls are ordinary, average citizens. They are the same sort of girls as our daughters. They are upset about the fact that they cannot get work. They want to better themselves and to fit themselves for employment, yet the Government adopts this rigid attitude that will result in no advantage because those girls will go back on the unemployed list without the extra skills they were learning at technical college.
I took the liberty of ringing Phil Davis of the Willesee at Seven program and suggesting that this situation was worth while for the media to investigate. This was done and a segment on this problem appeared on that program the night before last. I hope that the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs will respond to what was said on that program. All that I nave said tonight was said in that program. I hope that the Government will look at the matter once again. I think that the only requirement should be that people who are doing short time courses to improve themselves should be prepared at any time to cease that course and to take employment where it is available. But why should they be forced to sit at home and do nothing, just waiting around? There is not an honourable member on the other side of the House who does not agree with me. Why do we continue with such a situation? I am sorry that the Minister is not in the chamber. I hope that he will take up the matter.
If he does not I shall raise it again when the House sits again in a fortnight.
– I rise to a point of- order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I will not take up much time. I was under the impression- I give due respect to the speech made by the honourable member for Robertson- that the adjournment debate was mainly for back bench speakers, yet night after night we see front bench members of the Australian Labor Party taking up the time of the adjournment debate and depriving their back bench members of the opportunity -
Order! There is no point of order.
-My purpose in speaking this evening is to seek the support of all members of this House, the media and the community at large not only to have 26 January designated as Australia Day, our national day, but also to have 26 January and only 26 January as the public holiday for Australia Day in the same manner as has always applied to the observance of Anzac Day. At present 26 January is a nothing day for almost all Australians. If it falls on a Tuesday to a Friday there is no public holiday, no serious recognition or celebration of the day. If it falls on a Saturday or Sunday again there is no real recognition. If it falls on a Monday the situation is perhaps even worse. We have a public holiday all right but not for the purpose of celebrating Australia Day, rather simply for the purpose of having a day at the beach, at the races, in the garden or the like.
I believe that Australians are at risk of losing their national pride and sense of purpose. We live in a beautiful country. Our resources are immense. We have been almost entirely free of war on our home soil. We are a potential force for good in the world second to none, despite our limited population. Yet most of us do not seem to have any real sense of appreciation that we are amongst the luckiest people on earth; nor do we seem to have any real appreciation of our individual responsibilities to our fellow Australians or to other people in the world less fortunate than we are. We lack the tolerance that we used to have. We lack the positive spirit of purpose which more than any other factor has developed our nation to the high standard of living it enjoys today.
We are losing our identity. How do we recapture it? I know that the answers to that are manifold but one of them, and one we can do something about quickly and easily, is to celebrate our national day on the day on which it falls dueand that day is 26 January. I should like to see
Australians celebrate our national day on 26 January in the same way that Americans celebrate theirs on Independence Day or the French on Bastille Day or the Indians on their national day, which happens to coincide with ours.
Both Federal and State governments should arrange specific celebrations on Australia Day. So should local councils and shires. I am pleased that in my electorate the city of Ballarat holds a flag raising ceremony on 26 January, but because we do not really celebrate Australia Day few people turn up to join in. In Maryborough, also in my electorate, the city council this year publicised the fact that it would celebrate Australia Day on 26 January with a flag raising ceremony followed by an Australian folk concert. It was the first time the city had had such a combined celebration. A good crowd came along. The people had an enjoyable time. Most importantly, they went away in the knowledge that they had actually joined in celebrating and acknowledging the most important non-religious date in our calendar.
The Maryborough city council handed out small Australian flags- free- to all the people present. The council bought them from the Australia Day Council in Melbourne. Do honourable members know where those flags had been made? They had been made in Japan. Quite a few members of this House are now wearing the Austraiian flag as a lapel badge- a most encouraging sign. But do honourable members know where those badges are made? They are made in one of the communist countries of Eastern Europe. This is incredible. I think it is wrong. If we in this nation cannot or will not make our own national flag or our own national flag lapel badges heaven help us in the longer term, indeed in the shorter term as well.
If we as a nation are to fulfil our potential- not just economic but social and humanitarian as well- and if we are to justify the good fortune which has been bestowed upon us through simply living in this great land, we must restore our national identity and our national pride. As a step along that road I urge the Government to gazette only 26 January as the Australia Day holiday and to initiate action with State and local governments and other interested organisations, such as the Austrafia Day Council and the Australian Natives Association, to organise specific Australia Day celebrations and to encourage publicly all Australians to participate fully.
– Because there are only two minutes left, unfortunately my colleagues are going to be deprived of the opportunity to speak. I wish to use the two minutes that remain just to mark in this national Parliament the fact that next Wednesday, 14 March 1979, will be the centenary of the birth of Albert Einstein. Einstein is holding his place in scientific history as perhaps the greatest scientific mind of this millennium. He was a man who contributed more to our knowledge of the universe than any other. He was also profoundly conscious of the significance of the terrible discovery that he made of the famous equation E = MC2. Before anybody else he recognised and measured very precisely the terrible power that could be unleashed on the world by the use of atomic energy. Although he was one of the people who suggested to Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 that it was essential that the Allies develop an atomic bomb before Nazi Germany, he always campaigned against the spread of nuclear weapons. Those uranium maniacs that we haveand there are plenty in this Parliament and the community outside- ought to think very carefully of what Einstein stood for and his role as a man of peace. He was horrified by the devastating potential power that science had brought to the world-
– I rise on a point of order. I take exception to the honourable member’s reference in those terms to people who support the mining of uranium. It is unbelievable that he should refer to such people in those terms.
-Order! There is no substance in the point taken. It being 1 1 p.m. the debate is interrupted.
– I desire the debate to be extended.
-The debate may be extended until 11.10 p.m.
– I was very interested in the point made by the honourable members. I want to take only 30 seconds-
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the House.
– If the debate is extended does it mean that I lose my right to finish my remarks?
-Order! The honourable member for Lalor will resume his seat.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the House.
-Is the honourable member for Reid addressing the Chair?
– The Minister is not raising a matter related to his portfolio.
– It is about refugees.
-Order! The Minister and the honourable member for Reid will not persist in a conversation across the table.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the House. This is not a matter within the responsibility of the Minister.
-Order! Is the honourable member for Reid requesting a quorum?
– If you press me, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will have to call a quorum. The Minister should obtain an extension of the debate only when he proposes to raise a matter affecting his own portfolio.
-Order! There is no substance in that point taken by the honourable member.
– I give my guarantee that I will call a quorum.
-Order! The honourable member for Reid presses the matter a little too hard. The Minister has the right to require the debate to be extended.
– I raise a point of order. If the Minister obtains an extension of the debate should not the call go to the honourable member for Lalor?
-Order! That is not a point of order. I call the Minister.
– I simply wanted to(Quorum formed) I simply rose because the honourable member for Lalor had spoken about a very distinguished man, Albert Einstein, the anniversary of whose birth we will celebrate next week. I wanted to point out to the House and the country that Albert Einstein was a refugee and those people who seek to denigrate the problems that refugees face, and who may not accept refugees as perhaps they should, ought to remember that people like Einstein have contributed enormously to the future of individual countries and the world as a whole.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.5 p.m. until Tuesday, 20 March 1979 at 2.15 p.m., unless Mr Speaker shall, by telegram or letter addressed to each member of the House, fix an alternative day or hour of meeting.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 14 November 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Warnock Report on Special Educational Needs (Question No. 2884)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 16 November 1978:
– The Minister for Education has provided the following reply to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 21 November 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) 1976-77-One; 1977-78-None; 1978-79-None.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice, on 24 November 1 978:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 24 November 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 20 February 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question, according to the information currently available, is as follows:
Yemen, Egypt, Indonesia, Mauritania, Kampuchea, Congo, Ghana, Tanzania, Syria, Burundi, Somalia, Iraq, North Yemen, Equatorial Guinea, Zambia, Chad, Pakistan, Madagascar, Thailand, Zaire, Togo, Benin, Gambia, Mauritius, Sweden, Iran, Argentina, Finland, Norway, Malaysia, Denmark, Iceland, Bangladesh, India, Liberia, Afghanistan, Gabon, Fiji, Portugal, Costa Rica, Kenya, Burma, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tunisia, Sao Tome and Principe, Cape Verde Islands, Singapore, Comoros, Angola, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Djibouti, Barbados, Western Samoa, Libya.
The ROK also recognises and has diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Barbados, Botswana, Burma, Cameroon, Central African Empire, Chad, Costa Rica, Denmark, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Western Samoa, Egypt, Guinea, Guyana, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Libya, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Nepal, Venezuela, Pakistan, Niger, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda, Upper Volta, Zaire, Comoros.
Nicaragua, Andora, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Western Samoa, Djibouti, Swaziland, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Tonga, Monaco, Israel, Bahrain, Brunei, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Honduras, Paraguay, Trinidad /Tobago, Ireland, Holy See, Oman, Bhutan, Bahamas, South Africa, Benin, Barbados, Guatemala, Haiti.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 2 1 February 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 March 1979, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1979/19790308_reps_31_hor113/>.