20th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Eon. Edward Mattner) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Yesterday, Senator Critchley asked me a question about the issuing of licences to drive motor vehicles in the Australian Capital Territory. The following information has been supplied by the Minister for the Interior . -
Five types of licence are issued in the Australian Capital Territory. They are -
Motor car licences, which enable the holders to drive any vehicle- at all.
Motor cycle licences, which entitle the’ holders to ride motor cycles only.
Licences to drive licensed goods vehicles, e.g., carriers
Licences to drive motor omnibuses.
Licences to drive hire cars.
– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General say whether the publication of the ABC Weekly has been discontinued in Tasmania? If so, will he say why, and will he, in view of the protests that have been made to me, consider restoring publication in Tasmania for the benefit of Tasmanian listeners?
– I understand that the publication of the magazine in Tasmania has been discontinued. I shall bring the honorable senator’s request to the notice of the Postmaster-General, and ask him to comment on it.
– Has the Minister for Shipping any knowledge of the representations that have been made to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board that the number of men employed on the waterfront at Port Lincoln should be increased? If not, will he make inquiries in order to learn whether a decision has been, or is likely to be, made by the board? Does the Government propose to introduce legislation to give effect to the recommendations in the report furnished to the Australian Government by Mr. Basten and also those contained in the report which was furnished to the Government of South Australia by Mr. Bishop?
– Representations have been made direct to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board about providing extra labour at Port Lincoln, but the matter really concerns the Minister for Labour .and National Service. I have no doubt that all honorable senators have read Mr. Basten’s report which was widely distributed. I understand that copies were sent to the Premiers of all the States with a request that they should give special attention to the recommendations that concerned them, such as proposals for the improvement of harbour facilities. The important recommendations concerning employment are being considered by the manager of the Australian Shipping Board, the Department of Shipping and Transport, and the Australian steamship owners. I understand that copies of the report were also sent to the executives of various trade unions. As I have said, the recommendations in the report are mainly the concern of the Minister for Labour and National Service, but as my department is also interested in some measure, I have been giving the matter my attention. I hope to be able to make a statement on tho subject later in the Senate. So far, the other interested organizations have not expressed an opinion on the recommendations.
– On the 1st November, 1950, the then honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Gilmore) asked the then Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey) a question about the development of the Mareeba-Dimbulah irrigation scheme. He drew attention to the position of farmers in the area, and asked whether the Government proposed to do anything to further the irrigation scheme. The Minister replied that he had not received complete information, tut that the Government was looking into the matter, and was continuing to collect information. I do not hold the present Minister for National Development responsible-
– Order! The honorable senator must ask his question.
– I was trying to exonerate the Minister.
– That is unnecessary. It is also unnecessary for the honorable senator to pad bis question with a lot of extraneous matter. He should ask his question concisely and he will be in order.
– Seeing that’ nearly sixteen months have elapsed since the former Minister for National Development promised to do something about the scheme, and as the farmers in the Mareeba-Dimbulah areas are still suffering hardship due to lack of water, will the present Minister for National Development see what can be done in the way of putting the irrigation scheme into effect?
– I appreciate the kindly interest that the honorable senator has taken in my welfare, but it would have been moro appropriate if he had attempted to exonerate, not the Commonwealth, but the Queensland Government. Since I have occupied my present office, the matter to which he has referred has not been brought to my notice. Therefore, I doubt whether the Queensland Government has made representations to the Commonwealth upon it. I shall ascertain whether I am correct in making that statement, and inform the honorable senator accordingly.
– My question relates to the very welcome statement that was made by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture ‘ at the opening meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council this week. The honorable gentleman said that the Government is conducting a special examination of the laws relating to the payment of provisional taxes, in order to ascertain whether they can be altered in such a manner as to avoid injustice in years when the ‘incomes of primary producers decrease to a marked degree. Can the Minister representing the Treasurer say what agency is undertaking that special examination? Is it the committee on taxation that was established by the Government, a special tribunal, or a body of Treasury officers ? “Will he say whether a governmental statement upon die matter will be made before the end of this sessional period?
– I cannot add anything to what was said by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. I know that he is making inquiries into the position, and that he hopes to advance some proposals. I cannot say when those proposals will be considered and decided by the Government. Doubtless it will be agreed that the matter upon which a decision is required is very complex. I understand that the inquiries are being made by officers of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, in conjunction with officers of the Treasury and the Taxation Branch.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that, between June and December of. last year, 200 construction workers were dismissed from the Tasmanian section of the Department of “Works and Housing, allegedly through shortage of funds? These dismissals will cause a dislocation of work upon aerodromes, public buildings and construction works for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. Is the Minister aware also that, between November, 1951, and February of this year, the Tasmanian Agricultural Bank dismissed 150 building tradesmen, mostly carpenters employed upon house building? It has been said that this action was taken because of a shortage of loan money. Further, is the Minister aware that, although most of the men who were dismissed found employment with private builders, they are facing dismissal again now due to a lack of finance caused by the present credit restrictions ? Such dismissals would cause further hardships to the workers involved and also to home-seekers. Will the Minister request his colleague to make additional money available to the Tasmanian Agricultural Bank, and also to review the credit restrictions with the object of easing or removing them altogether, especially those which are having an adverse effect upon house building and other construction work?
– I am not certain whether the honorable senator has asked a question or has made a secondreading speech. It is unfair to ask a Minister to reply in detail to a series of questions of this kind. I cannot say whether it is a fact that the various changes of employment to which the honorable senator has referred have occurred. The honorable senator himself stated that those who have left public construction work have found employment elsewhere and I think that that statement provides the answer to his question. The loan allocation for the public works programme has been set at a level which probably corresponds more closely to the level of materials and men available than it did previously. The net result has been, not unemployment, but a diversion of men and materials to jobs which, because of their national importance should be given priority over other work.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether he has considered the establishment of a defence organization throughout Australia which would provide such services as emergency fire fighting, fh-3t-aid treatment posts, and airraid precautions including precautions against atomic bombs? Will the Minister consider making a statement to the Senate at an early date on the Government’s policy and future programme with regard to this important aspect of defence?
– I believe that certain aspects of the honorable senator’s proposal have been considered by the Minister for Defence. However, I shall refer these matters to him specifically and provide the honorable senator with an answer to his questions in due course.
– Recently, the Prime Minister was reported to have said that persons who built or purchased homes could obtain loans of up to £3,500 from the banks. The correctness of that statement was later denied by bank managers and agents in the Melbourne press. Bank managers were reported to have said that the statement of the Prime Minister made them appear to be fools because a person could not even obtain £350 for the purpose of building a home. I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether the Prime Minister was correct in stating that a person could obtain £3,500 for the purchase or construction of a home or whether the bank managers and agents were correct in denying that statement.
– I did not see the report to which the honorable senator has referred but if there is any conflict between what the Prime Minister said and what anybody else said I have no hesitation in assuring him that what the Prime Minister said is correct. The people of Australia will believe that, lt is quite conceivable that the honorable senator does not understand statements when he reads them.
– On the 26th February the Daily Telegraph reported that at a meeting of the State council of the Liberal party it was said that in order to combat inflation it was necessary to increase the number of hours worked each week by the workers of Australia without increasing their pay. In fairness to the Minister for National Development I must say that it is reported that he opposed the proposal. However, in view of the fact that the council had not reached a decision on the matter when the paper was published, I now ask the Minister whether the State council of the Liberal party decided to advocate, promulgate, and prosecute the proposition that the -hours of labour of the workers should be increased without giving them additional pay? The Minister was also reported to have stated that the last basie wage increase was far smaller than the previous one. He then went on to say that he would be sadly disappointed if the next basic wage increase did not show a more stabilizing influence than the last. Does the Minister believe that the next basic wage quarterly adjustment will be higher than the last adjustment ? I should be glad if the Minister would explain the import of that statement in order to set the minds of the people at rest. I should like to know whether he can give some hope to the people of Australia that the policy that was so urgently promulgated by literature-
– Order! The honorable senator is not in order in pursuing his present course.
– I know that I am not in order, Mr. President, because for eight years I was an occupant of the office that you now hold. Sometimes honorable senators can get away with-
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator to resume his seat.
– I have resumed my seat. Thank you very much, Mr. President.
– Order ! The honorable senator was President of the Senate for eight years, and he cannot claim ignorance of Standing Orders.
– I do not claim ignorance of Standing Orders, but I want to say politely, and with due deference to your- knowledge of Standing Orders and the working of the Senate, that on many occasions a certain latitude is allowed to honorable senators. During my occupancy of the chair I extended quite a lot of latitude to them.
– Order ! There is no need for Senator Brown to aggravate his offence.
– In all humility, Mr. President, I wish to ask the Minister whether he can give some hope to the people of Australia that, in the near future, we shall reach stability in relation to the basic wage and also to the economy of this country. I hope that I am in order.
– Order ! Before the Minister rises-
– I will go outside.
– Order ! Will the. honorable senator acknowledge the Chair?
Senator Brown thereupon left the chamber.
– I think the honorable senator is sick.
– That is no excuse.
Question not answered.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that four hostesses of TransAustralia Airlines have been injured, some seriously, on the Corowa-Sydney run and the Melbourne-Hobart run as the result of having to continue with their duties when turbulent atmospheric conditions were encountered by the aircraft ? Would it be practicable for box lunches to be served on those two runs so that the hostesses could strap themselves in their seats when turbulent weather conditions are experienced? I understand that the present insurance and compensation cover of air hostesses is inadequate. Will the Minister also consider this aspect of the matter?
– I am sure that all honorable senators appreciate the importance of the honorable senator’s question. As it concerns particularly the Minister for Civil Aviation, I shall be pleased to bring it to his notice and obtain a considered reply as soon as possible.
– There are rumours in Victoria that many business firms with overdrafts from private banks, which have drawn cheques for income tax in favour of the Commissioner of Taxation find that the cheques are returned to the Taxation Branch marked “ Not sufficient funds “. Will the Minister representing the Treasurer state whether there is any foundation for the rumour ?
– I cannot understand the purport of the honorable senator’s question. If I have construed it correctly, he asks whether business firms in Victoria are drawing cheques without having sufficient funds to meet the cheques upon their presentation at the bank.
– The firms to which I have referred have bank overdrafts, upon which they have operated until now.
– That does not affect the position. When a person draws a cheque he must have sufficient funds available to meet it, whether those funds result from a credit balance at the bank or are covered by an overdraft. I cannot answer the honorable senator’s question. I should think that the rumour would be completely and totally unjustified. Although I come from New South Wales, I have a very much higher opinion of the standard of ethics of the Victorian people than to think that they would draw cheques without having sufficient funds to meet them.
– Will the Minister for National Development state whether the Queensland Government has yet furnished the Australian Government with details of the Powell-Dufferyn scheme for the utilization of Blair Athol coal for the production of oil ? If so, has the Queensland Government made representations for assistance from the Commonwealth in such development of this great opencut coal-field?
– The answer is: Not to my knowledge.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, relates to the provision in some life insurance policies which invalidates the policy if the insured person engages in aviation, otherwise than as a passenger. I am particularly concerned about the position of National Service trainees who are undergoing air training. Can the Minister state whether insurance companies have agreed to waive that condition in the case of compulsory air trainees? If they have not done so, will he take into consideration the advisability of legislating, in the forthcoming bill to deal with life insurance, to meet that situation?
– A bill to amend the Life Insurance Act will shortly come before the House of Representatives. Obviously the honorable senator’s question cannot be answered offhand, but I shall have inquiries made so that the information that he seeks may be made available to him before the Life Insurance Bill reaches the Senate.
– On the 26th February, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) asked the following question : -
Will the Attorney-General make a considered statement to the Senate about attacks that are pending in the High Court upon the validity of the Capital Issues Regulations? Will he say when and by whom each of such proceedings was instituted? If there is delay in the hearing of any of the proceedings, will he explain the cause of the delay?
I am now in a position to furnish the answer to this question. Three writs have been issued out of the High Court, challenging the validity of the Defence Preparations (Capital Issues) Regulations and the validity of the refusal of the Treasurer to consent to applications made under those regulations. They are as follows: -
Under the regulations, Marcus Clark and Company Limited obtained on the 8th November, 19 51, an order directing the Treasurer to state in writing the facts and matters by reason of which the refusal of consent in its case was for purposes of or in relation to defence preparations. A statement by the Treasurer was duly filed in the court and the Commonwealth’s defence to the action was delivered on the 11th December. The plaintiff has not yet delivered any further pleading and has not set the action down for trial. The Commonwealth has no desire to delay the hearing of the case, but the plaintiff has the carriage of it. It is hoped that the case will be set down for the sittings commencing in Sydney on the 25th March. The other two proceedings arestill in the pleading stage.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Housing ascertain for me what stocks of reinforcing steel, roofing iron and cement are held by the Department of Works and Housing; in what States such stocks are held; and the value of these stocks?
– I shall obtain that information for the honorable senator if it is available.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
In view of the food shortage threatening Australia, and in an endeavour to halt the drift of population to the cities, will the Government call a conference of Commonwealth and State authorities to consider measures - (a) to provide an incentive to the people to remain in rural areas, and to those who have left such areas to return thereto, and engage in food production - (i) by ensuring that they will not be engaged in a deadend job, but will eventually own their own farms, and (ii) by considering a long-term agreement for guaranteed prices for primary products; (b) to investigate the possibility of the extension of the closed settlement scheme and among other matters to consider - (i) how much suitable land can be made available to suitable applicants in each State, (ii) what are the most favorable terms and conditions on which land may be made available for such purposes, and (iii) what export and technical advice the Agricultural Department can give to successful applicants?
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has furnished the following answer: -
The Australian Agricultural Council has discussed the subject of food production at its recent meeting. At this meeting, I announced some very important decisions of Cabinet and invited State Ministers to join the Commonwealth and industry organizations in a comprehensive programme designed to absorb labour into rural industries and to stimulate increased production of vital foodstuffs. The question of incentives to people to remain in rural industries was raised and general lines on which the dairy and wheat industries might be assured of long-term stabilization were discussed. It is proposed to formulate in the early future a more detailed plan for the dairying and grain industries and to engage in further discussion with State Ministers of Agriculture at a meeting to be arranged at an early date. Meantime of course the industries concerned will be fully consulted. It was suggested to the State Ministers that they should pay particular attention to the allocation of scarce materials necessary for the development oE rural areas generally. It is proposed to discuss .fully tha ways in which the Commonwealth can assist the States i>i provision of accommodation for permanent labour in rural industries. There can be no assurance of course that all people engaged ou farms will eventually own their own farms. However, it is proposed to discuss with the States at an early date the ways in which many thousands of new farms can be created. Stabilization plans for the dairy and -wheat industries will be considered in the future plans for assuring long-term stability for those industries. Such plans will be worked out in consultation with the industries concerned, and established only when it is evident that the industry desires such arrangement. The future of Australia in the International “Wheat Agreement will be decided only after consultation with the wheat industry. In regard to closer settlement schemes, this is a matter for the States to determine, who no doubt will raise the matter in the proposed discussions with the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is willing to discuss with the States developmental plans for bringing new land into production. In respect of expert and technical advice to successful applicants under laud settlement schemes now operative, the State Departments of Agriculture have the responsibility of providing adequate expert and technical advice but the Commonwealth has offered the States every assistance of Commonwealth scientific, technical, and marketing knowledge.
- -by leave - During the debate on international affairs in this chamber last night, Senator Cormack alleged that I had said in a written article that Australian soldiers in Korea were fools for dying for American imperialism. That statement was never made by me. Throughout my public life I have had a respect for human personality, and the statement that the honorable senator attributed to me is the last thing that I should think of say.ing publicly or privately, or writing. The article in question appeared in the Labour Call, on 14th February, 1952, which is published in Victoria and also in the Herald, a Labour journal published in Adelaide, under the heading “ The Greatest Threat Since the Black Death “. In the article I first quote Winwood Reade, author of Martyrdom of Man, who expresses the opinion that wars have been necessary in the past and will not be abolished until they became too horrible to endure. The article then contains my comment on that state ment. Later, I quote the representative of the Bulletin, “Ek Dum”, who, with other Australian pressmen visited Korea. This is what appeared in the Bulletin : -
The matter which grieves and worries the soldier in Korea is psychological. What is he lighting for and why is he there? It is impossible for his leaders, involved in the vast strategy of the potential threshold of World War III. to explain to him clearly and to endow him with purpose . . . All that they can tell the soldier is that he is fighting to keep South Korea free in accordance with the principles of the United Nations.
The Labour party decided in July, 1950, to support the decision of the United Nations. Since then a lot of things have happened, and I have made it my business, as I believe I am under an obligation to do, to study the .trend of events. In the article, I quoted the opinion of Mr. D. N. Pritt, Q.C., a former member of the British House of Commons, who wrote a brochure on the subject entitled Light on Korea. From July. 1950, until May, 1951, he collected evidence to prove that, in his judgment, American imperialists are the aggressors. I quote from my article as follows : -
In his latest .brochure on the subject he has stated his case very clearly and dispassionately in that connexion which has yet to be answered and which includes first, that “one of the biggest confidence tricks of recent times has been put over on the public in * Western ‘ countries in connexion with the incidents in Korea “ ; and secondly, that the Security Council of the United Nations has made no valid decision, since “ What it pretended to do was invalid under the Charter of the United Nations Organization; and . . what it did try or pretend to do was done without evidence, without proper consideration and naturally enough quite wrongly “.
That is the opinion of Mr. Pritt.
– He is a good leftwinger.
– That is no answer to what he wrote. The AttorneyGeneral must still ! Drove him to be wrong I again quote from the article -
Another critic who referred to aggressive American purposes in the Korean War was Sir John Pratt, K.B.E., C.M.G… who for many years was a most distinguished civil servant and adviser to the Foreign Office in England on the question of China and the Far East. He stated that the war was based on a “ gigantic lie “. Also, that “ the lie achieved its purpose. We were led to believe that our soldiers were fighting in Korea because it was our duty to uphold the principles of the United Nations Charter. We now know that it was merely because Truman insisted that we should support the policy that would help win the next (American) election”.
I have quoted the Bulletin writer, and I have quoted Winwood Reade-
Senate McCallum - He died long ago.
– His words still live. He is dead physically, and spiritually he is alive. I concluded my article with these words -
Also, the answer to the representative of the Sydney Bulletin is that the soldiers fighting in Korea under the flag of the United Nations should be told that they are not lighting for the purpose of keeping South Korea free. They are embroiled in an extension and strengthening of American imperialism in Asia. [ repeat that it is untrue that the words referred to were contained in the article, and I challenge Senator Cormack to prove that they were. If I am to be criticized or condemned for any statement I have made, or for any honest expression of opinion, at least let me be quoted correctly. Senator Cormack’s statement was a deliberate untruth, and he should withdraw it and apologize.
– by leave - The attitude of the Australian Labour party to the action of the United Nations in Korea is perfectly clear. It was declared in the Senate by Senator Ashley on the 6th July, 3950, and was announced by Mr. Chifley, supported by Dr. Evatt, in the House of Representatives on the same day. The Australian Labour party unanimously approved of the action of the government in sending troops to uphold the action of the United Nations in Korea in resisting Communist aggression. The attitude of the Australian Labour party in that direction has not changed in any particular. I leave the matter at that.
There was, apparently, a misunderstanding on the part of Senator Cameron when he said that a statement attributed to him by Senator Cormack was perfectly true. Honorable senators will realize that Senator Cameron is under a grave disability in the matter of hearing. When he said that something was “ perfectly true “ he was not referring to the suggestion that he had stated that Australian soldiers in Korea were foolish ; he was referring to the paragraph that he quoted, a paragraph which is not in accord with the outlook of the Australian Labour party. I take this opportunity to repeat what I have said before - that I think all Australians owe a debt to the United States of America. When one considers that country’s lend-lease efforts’, and the vast armies and industrial effort that it put into the fight during the last war, it is evident that Australia owes a great debt to that nation. I believe that the destiny of Australia is intimately linked with the progress and welfare of the United States of America, particularly in the Pacific.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spicer) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to secure the approval of the Parliament to the Japanese peace treaty that was signed in San Francisco on the 8th September of last year. The general content of this treaty has been known to the Parliament for many months. The Government’s general attitude towards it, and the reasons that led us to sign it, have already been explained to the Senate. It has been made clear that the Government is by no means wholly satisfied with this treaty. But then, the same can be said of every one of the forty-seven other Allied governments that have signed it. All of us have misgivings about it in one way or another. The governments of some countries believe that the treaty is too harsh; others of us feel that it is too soft. We in Australia - and this applies to the Government as well as to members of the Opposition and, I think, the great majority of the Australian people - cannot avoid some doubts at the prospect of Japan being restored to thi family of nations without certain controls over its conduct in the future. We are not convinced that democracy has taken firm root in Japan. We are not sure that the Japanese can be fully trusted to steer a course in the future away from the aggressive military and economic policies that have threatened our very existence in the past.
But we must approach this problem realistically. We must look at it in the context of the present situation throughout the Far East, and, indeed, throughout the world. Whatever we may fear from Japan and the Japanese - and the Government has not forgotten their record in the second world war - the fact is that we are faced at this point with a much more pressing and immediate danger than Japan is likely to be for many years to come. It could well be that the Japanese, with the patriotism, discipline, skill and industry for which ti icy are well known, could once again, in a comparatively short period, build up against us a threat similar to that which reached its climax in 1942. But the simple fact is that, as things are today, Japan is quite incapable of threatening anybody - indeed, the Japanese are incapable of defending themselves - and, meanwhile, the whole of Asia is subject to strong and immediate pressure, in one form or another, from Communist aggression
Up to the present the principal handicap under which communism has suffered in Asia has been the lack of the modern industrial facilities and techniques that are the basis of power in the world today. Japan, as the most highly industrialized Asian nation, must inevitably appear as a tempting prize to world communism, and particularly to the Chinese Communists. Having in mind the progress that the Communists have made in Asia in the past few years, it does not require much imagination to consider the threat they could mount to South-East Asia, to Australia, and to the other democracies bordering on the Pacific and Indian Oceans if they had at their disposal the industrial resources of Japan. If we face this honestly, I am sure we must agree on the importance of preventing the Japanese from falling under Communist domination, and thereby becoming an active partner in the campaign to subjugate the whole of Asia as a preliminary to striking out towards Australia. On the other hand, I will admit that honorable senators could quite legitimately entertain fears that a revived and once more powerful Japan, assisted in its recovery by a tolerant and benign peace treaty, might in due course itself either embark alone on fresh adventures of aggression or, at the worst, might voluntarily join forces with and give direction and impetus to Asian communism, and in fact use it in another attempt to achieve hegemony over the whole of Asia and the Pacific.
I agree that we are faced with a dilemma. We have to contemplate the alternative perils of an aggressive and fully rearmed Japan, which could again threaten us single-handed - as it did before, and of a defenceless and economically prostrate Japan that would present an easy prey to communism and might become an important part of the general Communist threat to world peace.
It is not easy to steer a course midway between these dangers. We have done our best to do so; but common prudence demands that we give first thought to the more immediate threat, and, therefore, that we avoid above all the creation of a “ power vacuum “ in Japan. The Japanese have been protected by the presence on Japanese soil of a large United States army of occupation, supplemented by a British Commonwealth Occupation Force which in the last four years has fallen in strength and is now, in effect, purely an Australian force. The United States of America was not willing to bear this burden indefinitely, and there was no indication that any of the other Allies would shoulder it. Would honorable senators opposite have suggested that Australia should supply an array to occupy Japan for the next decade?
I propose now to explain some of the main features of the treaty, particularly those that affect Australia, and to refer briefly to the background of certain treaty clauses. Perhaps the most important provision of the treaty is Article 5 (c), under which the Allied Powers “ recognize that Japan, as a sovereign nation, possesses the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence referred to in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations and that Japan may voluntarily enter into collective security arrangements “. This clause, in fact, restores to Japan the right to reestablish its army, navy and air force, and this right is made subject to no restrictions. The Australian Government has not been happy at the fact that Japan’s right to rearm is to be restored without any limitations. We tried, without success, to have specific limitations written into the treaty, particularly limitations on naval rearmament and longrange military and naval aircraft. But, of the countries principally concerned with negotiating the treaty, Australia and New Zealand were virtually alone in pressing for these restrictions; most of the principal Allies were, for one reason or another, not in favour of them. Our own views were strongly pressed at all stages leading to the production of the joint draft which was made public on the 13th July of last year. I emphasize at this point that the fact that we favoured a definite limitation of Japanese rearmament did not mean that we were opposed in principle to some reestablishment of Japan’s defence forces. Wc have fully agreed that the Japanese must bear the main responsibility for the defence of their own country; they must not expect to be protected indefinitely by the United States of America and others of their former enemies. As it is, they are virtually defenceless, but for the presence of United States troops, and have not so far shown much eagerness to assume responsibility for their own self-defence. This situation could, of course, easily change.
The ten years preceding Japan’s entry into the war showed how quickly and intensively the Japanese can prepare, given the necessary stimulus. But, in considering the possibility of a revival of aggressive militarism in Japan, we should at least bear in mind that the situation in the Far East and the Pacific has changed substantially since the days before the war. Japan will have lost the military advantages of control over all its former territories outside the home islands and adjacent minor islands as well as its former access to raw materials on the Asian mainland. United States troops will continue to have the use of military bases in Japan itself, and will remain for a period, at present undetermined, in effective occupation and control of many of Japan’s island territories. The presence of United States troops in Japan will be in accord with the United States-Japan Security Treaty, signed on the 8th September. The preamble to that treaty lays down that Japan is to avoid any rearmament which could be an offensive threat or serve other than to promote peace and security in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.
Finally, we for our part, can now contemplate our future as a Pacific nation more happily from the added security of our relationship with the United States of America and New Zealand in the Tripartite Pacific Security Pact signed last September.
Before leaving this question of the right given to Japan to maintain defence forces, I wish to clear away some misunderstandings that appear to have arisen regarding the evolution of Allied policy towards Japan. On the 2nd September, 1945, Japan signed the Instrument of Surrender. This signature was accepted by General MacArthur as Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers and was attested to by the representatives of nine other powers, including Australia.
The Allied Powers committed themselves to no obligation in the Instrument of Surrender. The Japanese, however, undertook to carry out the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration. That declaration was a statement of intention on the part of the four Great Powers which signed it. It was not a contract with Japan but an expression of policy as it existed at that time. In a number of respects that policy has been carried out as originally intended. But policy cannot remain fixed and rigid for all time, regardless of changing circumstances, and there have been great changes since 1945. What seemed at’ that time desirable and practicable may no longer be appropriate to the condition of the world as we find it to-day. This has been recognized by the 48 Allied nations which have signed the peace treaty. It is the present and the future that we must be concerned with and must provide for, and particularly the threat that faces the world to-day from the aggressive policies of international Communist imperialism.
To return to the treaty, I am aware that there will be some criticism of the fact that while, under the terms of the peace treaty, Japan suffers some immediate deprivation of resources, no continuing economic controls have been imposed upon it for the future. Furthermore, as regards payment of reparations for damage and suffering inflicted on the Allies, while the treaty recognizes Japan’s obligation to pay reparations, it also recognizes that Japan’s resources are not sufficient, if it is to maintain a viable economy, to make anything like complete reparations and at the same time meet its other obligations.
I shall deal first with this matter of reparations, which has been the subject of long controversy. There is, I think, no escaping the fact that Japan simply is not in a position to pay in full, or anything approaching it, all the claims that could be submitted to cover the devastation and loss inflicted throughout the whole of the Far East by the Japanese forces.
It is not through any feeling of charity towards the Japanese that we have reluctantly come to the conclusion that it is useless and illogical to try to exact even appreciable reparations. Any other conclusion would ignore entirely the heavy economic burden that the Allies - mainly, of course, the United States of America - have had to carry since the end of the war in merely keeping the Japanese people’3 heads above water. It is quite clear that the United States of America cannot and will not continue to carry this burden indefinitely. Japan will have to be given a chance to rebuild its economy to a point where it can maintain its people at a reasonable standard of living without outside assistance. The exaction of large reparations at this stage would inevitably delay recovery and prolong Japan’s dependence on economic aid from abroad.
Nevertheless, the Japanese have by no means been let off scot free. The Australian Government has been particularly insistent that Japan should make some atonement for the personal suffering and hardship caused to many thousands of Allied prisoners of war, and to the wives and families of those who succumbed to the harsh treatment they underwent. We were able in the end to secure the agreement of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and other Allied governments to the insertion in the treaty of a provision that Japan be deprived of its assets in neutral and former enemy countries, and that these be liquidated and distributed among former prisoners of war and their dependants by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Japan will thus be shorn of practically all its overseas assets, since it had already been agreed that Japanese property held in Allied countries should, with certain defined exceptions, be available for use by the countries concerned in any way they might choose.
Japan has also agreed in principle to pay reparations in the form of services to be provided by Japanese labour in the processing of raw materials, the salvaging of ships and similar forms of production and restoration. It is expected that Asian Allied countries will make use of this opportunity to benefit from Japan’s industrial resources and techniques.
I have already referred to the absence from the treaty of any provision for continued supervision of Japan’s production and control over Japan’s trade. Apart altogether from the difficulty of policing such controls, however, it could safely be assumed that restrictions of this kind would cause widespread irritation and resentment throughout Japan and would, if indeed they could be made effective, offer a further hindrance to the economic recovery that Japan must achieve if it is not to be a burden on the Allies and a weak link in the general defence against the spread of communism. In this matter of economic controls some risks have had to be taken, as in the matter of rearmament. But whether or not the Japanese will repay the trust that we have reposed in them, it is questionable whether a treaty of peace is the proper instrument through which to try to establish and enforce permanent economic restrictions.
I mention that in the debate in the House of Commons on the Japanese peace treaty at the end of last year, leading speakers on both sides of the House fully agreed that, however desirable it might be to take steps to protect United Kingdom industries against the possibility of unfair and injurious competition from Japan, the peace treaty was not the means to use. Finally, we should not forget that at least a partial safeguard against a revival of warlike industrial activity in Japan will exist in the presence of United States forces in the Japanese islands as a result of the treaty signed at San Francisco by the United States of America, and Japan at the time of the peace settlement.
There is one further aspect of the treaty that is of some particular importance to us at this time. It concerns the control nf fishing areas. By Article 9 of the treaty Japan undertakes to enter into negotiations promptly with the Allied Powers that desire to conclude bilateral and multilateral agreements providing for the regulation or limitation of fishing and the conservation and development of fisheries on the high seas. During this sessional period legislation will be introduced to establish measures for the conservation of fishing and the control of fishing operations in fishing grounds adjacent to the Australian coast but outside our territorial waters. At this stage I shall refer merely to the significance of that legislation as it will affect our future relations with Japan. Honorable senators, and, indeed, most of the Australian people, will remember the anxiety to which the activities of Japanese fishermen off the Australian coast and in New Guinea waters gave rise in the years immediately before Japan’s entry into World War II.
Since the surrender of Japan in 1945 Japanese fishing vessels have been compelled by the Allied occupation authorities to restrict their activities to defined fishing grounds north of the equator. Once the peace treaty becomes effective, however, the Japanese will be fully within their rights under international law in resuming fishing operations anywhere on the high seas, including those off the Australian coast. The only way that these activities can be limited, in practice, is to obtain the agreement of the Japanese Government to respect conservation measures that we might impose and enforce in defined high seas fishing areas that are important to us, and which are close to our shores. Although the Constitution gives the Australian Government the right to enact fisheries legislation, no Australian government has yet done so. This omission is now to be repaired. It is the intention of the Government, when this has been done, to enter into negotiations with the Japanese Government for an agreement under which Japanese fishing activities in the region of Australia will be limited to the requirements of Australian law. The United States and Canadian Governments have already concluded satisfactory arrangements with the Japanese for the protection of their own fishing industries, based on their existing domestic fisheries legislation, and the Japanese have informed us that they will be. quite willing to begin negotiations with us at any time.
I do not believe that it is necessary for me to deal in detail with the remainder of the treaty. The remaining clauses are generally self-explanatory, and honorable senators will no doubt have studied them. Among other things, Japan renounces all rights to the bulk of its former overseas territories, and Japan’s administration and control are to be restricted to the home islands and a few small adja.cent islands. Japan promises to accept any proposal made by the United States of America to the United Nations for the placing of the Ryukyus, Bonin and other former Japanese islands in the North Pacific under sole United States trusteeshin. Ja.pan undertakes to restore all Allied property; to grant mostfavourednation treatment to the Allies in matters of trade on a reciprocal basis; to respect patent rights and copyright; to accept liability for pre-war debts; and undertakes to enter into a civil aviation agreement with any Allied nation at the latter’s request. All Japanese claims arising from the war are waived.
While the original draft of the peace treaty was prepared by the United States and United Kingdom Governments jointly, the successive stages through which the draft passed before emerging in its final form have left the imprint of other Allied Powers that took part in the drafting process. I have already mentioned that Australia was mainly responsible for securing the insertion of the provision for payment of compensation to prisoners of war from the proceeds of Japanese assets in neutral and exenemy countries. In addition, we were instrumental in strengthening the clauses pertaining to the renunciation of territory, particularly in relation to possible Japanese claims in Antarctica. The reference in the preamble to the treaty, and again in Article 5, to Japan’s acceptance of the obligations set forth in Articles 2, 55 and 56 of the United Nations Charter, were included at our request.
I shall refer briefly to the proceedings at the San Francisco conference early in September, 1951, when Japan and 51 Allied nations assembled to consider the treaty in its final form. Mr. Spender. Australia’s Ambassador to the United States of America, had the honour to be chosen as vice-chairman. As all the proceedings of that conference were public, I need not describe them to the Senate in detail. The main impression that emerged was that a remarkable degree of unanimity was evident among the great majority of countries represented. At the end of the conference, Japan and 48 of the 51 other countries signed the treaty as it stood, all. it is safe to say, with some misgivings, but they all made it clear that they regarded the treaty as the best compromise that could be found, and that a settlement ought not to be postponed any longer.
It is to be regretted that India and Burma did not attend, India, I emphasize, not because it regarded the treaty as too soft, but because one of its main objections to the treaty was that it was too harsh. However, Asia, which suffered most from ruin and devastation nt Japanese hands, was well represented. The only other absentee was China, whose participation, of course, would have presented special difficulties.
A second impression that emerged from the San Francisco conference was that the delegations from the Soviet Union and the Communist countries of Poland and
Czechoslovakia were relatively ineffective. Admittedly, as it turned out, they were heavily outnumbered, and perhaps could not have expected to effect much change in the final draft, as they had ignored an earlier invitation to participate in the preparation of the draft in the formative stage. After making due allowance, however, the presentation of Soviet views was unusually lacking in purpose and in appeal to other signatories from whom Russia might have thought it could receive some support. The Communists’ main trouble seemed to be that they were trying to spread their net too wide. On the one hand, they sought to impose on Japan additional restrictions and controls to which it had become clear other nations of Asia were not willing to agree. On the other hand, whilst trying to place rigid limits on japan’s right to rearm, they sought to please the J apanese by insisting that Japan’s island territories - the Ryukyus, Bonin and other islands which Japan found so valuable in its last adventure in aggression - should remain in Japanese hands. In the end, they failed to please any one.
The position now is. that as soon a3 the United Slates of America and five other of the eleven principal signatories of the treaty, including Australia, have ratified it. the treaty will come into effect. The United Kingdom Government has already deposited its instruments of ratification; the United States Congress is at present in the course of consideration of the treaty; and certain other signatory governments have indicated that they wil ratify it at about the same time. It is, therefore, possible that the treaty will be put into effect in the near future, perhaps next month. This may happen whether Australia ratifies it or not, and the Government feels that no purpose would be served by our delaying a final decision to ratify. It is the Government’s hope that honorable senators will approach this debate objectively and with a full appreciation of the problems involved in producing a settlement acceptable to a large number of allies spread throughout the world. I know that the treaty can be criticized at many points. Numerous misgivings were expressed iD the course of the debate in the House of Commons, but I remind honorable senators that the Commons ultimately accepted the treaty by an overwhelming majority. In the New Zealand Parliament, leading spokesmen for the Opposition have indicated that they regard the treaty as the best settlement that can be obtained in the circumstances. If honorable senators are not willing to accept it, I would ask them what alternative they would propose, what other course they would have followed had the decisions of policy in the world of 1951 - not the world of 1945 - been in their hands?
Let me emphasize again that the Government’s policy has not been based on the naive assumption that the reforms that have been initiated in Japan will necessarily be maintained indefinitely, and that Japan has established itself for ever as a peace- loving democracy. There is some chance that a democracy will evolve in Japan, even though not necessarily a democracy on the American and European models. But whether or not this happens - and we must at least give it the chance to happen - the immediate problem that we have to consider, from the point of view of the security of Australiaand the stability of Asia and the Pacific, is the security of Japan, even more than security against Japan. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 27th Febru ary (vide page 423), on motion by Senator Spicer -
That the following paper be printed: -
– When the debate was interrupted last night in conformity with the Standing Orders I was referring to the remarks made by Senator O’Flaherty who, but a few minutes before, had resumed his seat. This morning a very interesting development occurred. I thank the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) for his courageous and clear exposition of the Labour party’s attitude towards Australia’s participation in the Korean campaign. I regret to say, however, that the statement he made this morning was made three or four months too late. He should have made a similar statement after certain comments had been uttered by Senator Morrow about four months ago. Honorable senators will recall that Senator Morrow then said that Australian soldiers were illegally at war in Korea. The Leader of the Opposition should then have made a statement on the lines of that which he made this morning. As far as I am aware, Senator Morrow does not suffer from the grave hearing disability from which Senator Cameron suffers. While we sympathize with Senator Cameron, we realize that it does not trouble him when he uses a pen. It is upon that ground that we criticize his attitude to international affairs and the part that Australia is playing in them. It is apparent that the Leader of the Opposition appreciates Australia’s position. That is true also of Senator Armstrong, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and also of Senator Byrne. Each of them made a valuable contribution to this debate. Senator Armstrong stimulated our thinking in regard to the part that Spain can play in world affairs. Whether or not we agree with his views, his speech at least opened up for us a new avenue in international relations which we might explore. Senator Byrne referred to the possibility of the spread of the Christian gospel in Asia and to the dreadful state of affairs that exists in Asian countries. His remarks opened up another line of thought for us. Senator O’Flaherty, who was the last Opposition senator to speak in this debate, did nothing but traduce our great ally, the United States of America. It was interesting to observe the cleavage of opinion that exists among Opposition senators. Interesting though that cleavage may be, it is regrettable that on a vitally important matter such as international affairs Opposition senators cannot present a united front. That fact is evidenced by the personal explanations that were made by two Opposition senators this morning.
Untold damage to this nation can result from other causes than the utterances of honorable senators in this chamber. In this morning’s Canberra Times Senator
Morrow is reported to have said to members of a deputation which came to Canberra yesterday -
Communism is a bogy and we should be warned against propaganda of its spread southwards. Communism did not spread anywhere. Progressive movements came from within nations themselves.
As Senator Morrow’s name appeared at the top of the Labour Senate ticket for Tasmania, can it be said that he speaks for the Australian Labour party? Is the Australian Labour party fighting communism to the death, as it says it is, when a Labour senator who has been in this chamber for a considerable time has, within the last 24 hours, made a statement of that kind? The newly endorsed Labour candidate for one of the Sydney metropolitan seats in the House of Representatives, a young gentleman named Dr. John Burton, is also reported to have said -
The alternatives to ratification of a certain peace treaty are -
1 ) To build up Australia’s economy and not to fritter away our resources on armaments which must be out of date to-morrow.
Why do such persons as Senator Morrow and Dr. Burton make statements of that kind? Do they do so in the service of this nation or of that of an alien power? There are many questions that could well be asked by the Opposition of those gentlemen - one a sitting senator and the other an endorsed Labour candidate.
I have stressed the irresponsibility of the Opposition’s approach to international affairs. However, the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader and Senator Byrne are evidence that there is a cloud on the horizon, even though it be no bigger than a man’s hand, which gives ground for hope for the future. I remind Senator O’Flaherty that, in 1943, the present Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Dr. Evatt) paid a great tribute to the United States of America, and that the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber had paid tribute to the efficacy of Marshall aid. Senator O’Flaherty referred to the materialistic side of American aid to the other nations. I remind him that the
United States of America is offering the very flower of its youth in Korea at the present time. The tragedy of young lives being lost there is not material aid given to us. The high taxes now being paid by American citizens to enable the United States of America to play its part in support of the United Nations do not constitute material aid given to us. The people of the United States of America are deny ins: themselves in the service of world peace. I detest the irresponsible statements that have been made by some honorable senators opposite.
I turn now to another aspect of the ministerial statement, the Colombo plan. I see in that plan a germ of an idea which, if carefully nurtured, may yield valuable results. I believe, however, that we should concentrate not so much on pouring food into Asian countries as on sending technicians to give to those countries the benefits of the many years of experiments in agriculture by such agencies as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The backwardness .of Asian countries is due not so much to the laziness of their people as to unscientific agricultural methods and soil deficiencies. Most eastern countries have a high rainfall, and are not plagued by serious droughts, as Australia is. I believe that Australian experts on soil chemistry should be sent to Asia under the Colombo plan. It was my privilege to serve in the Middle East during World War II. After the Syrian campaign, the tendency was to pour into that country, which had been ravaged by some months of war, large quantities of wheat. In a very short time, hoarding of wheat became prevalent. Although the motives of Great Britain, Australia, and other countries that sent aid to Syria were good, that method of assistance left much to be desired. If we could teach the people of backward countries to make their primary industries prosper we should render a great service to them.
I applaud the provision of the Colombo plan relating to the interchange of Asian and Australian students. Already Asian students are attending most Australian universities, and I hope that Australian students and graduates will soon be able to go to Asian universities. An exchange of culture in this manner should do much to remove international misunderstanding. Students from all over the world attend the Oxford and Cambridge universities and this fact, I believe, has done much to strengthen those institutions over the past 100 years. Australia can make a worthwhile contribution to the prosperity of Asia. Recently, we made what 1 consider to be a valuable contribution to international understanding by sending a justice of the High Court, Sir Owen Dixon, to mediate between India and Pakistan in the Kashmir dispute. Unfortunately, His Honour was not able to achieve a settlement, but the principle of appointing a distinguished jurist, steeped in the British legal tradition, to attempt to solve a dispute that might easily lead to a vast international conflagration is most worthy. I repeat that this country’s contribution to progress in Asia lies more in the field of culture than of economic assistance, and therefore I commend to the Opposition the thought that there is some merit in the ministerial statement that we are now debating. I dissociate myself from the remarks of my fellow South Australian, Senator O’Flaherty, who said contemptuously that the Minister’s report to Parliament was worthless. There is much valuable material in that report. Australia’s contribution to the welfare of the Asian people must be made with the unanimous support and sympathy of the Australian people, and must be made quickly, otherwise at some future date there might not be any Australian Parliament to discuss Asian affairs.
– Honorable senators opposite have emphasized the necessity to be realistic in dealing with international problems, but, after making that statement in their introductory remarks, most of them foresook the path of realism and plunged headlong into the realm of party politics. They attacked not only honorable senators on this side of the chamber, but also members of the Labour movement in this and other countries. The matter now under consideration is sufficiently important and grave to warrant exclusive concentration upon it. Just what did honorable senators opposite mean when they spoke of realism? Did they mean that we could expect from them constructive criticism aimed at improving, conditions in the various countries with which we are primarily concerned at present? Every honorable senator knows to which countries I refer, and I shall return to that matter later in my speech. No good purpose can be served by pretending to be realistic about international affairs unless one can advance practical suggestions. I hope that I shall be realistic.
In our consideration of events in other countries and our relations with those countries, the starting point must be Australia itself. The area of Australia is approximately 2,975,000 square miles and its population is about 8,000,000. It is a land of opportunity for immigrants; a land which has not yet been fully settled. We look out upon other countries which are overpopulated, and economically undeveloped. The countries with which we are most concerned at the moment are Korea, Egypt, China, Burma., Indo-China, Malaya, Indonesia, India, Pakistan and the United States of America. We are vitally concerned too, of course, with the dollar problem. In June or July of last year, cease-fire talks began in Korea, and we all looked forward to an early settlement of the conflict, but more than six months have elapsed and the talks are still in progress. The average Australian wants to know why the discussions are being protracted and why a settlement has not been reached? We can only reply that the negotiators are seeking to maintain the principles of the United Nations. We all hope most earnestly that the conflict will come to an end at an early date.
One honorable senator on the Government side has dealt fully with Egypt. Our problem in China is different from the Egyptian problem. China has a population of 450,000,000 and has accepted the Communist form of Government. I do not say, however, that China, has become imbued with the spirit of communism. The average Chinese does not know the meaning of communism, and in fact is not aware that thor* has been any change in his government. The Chinese are very friendly people.
Their system of agriculture is good. Undoubtedly they will strengthen their economy and develop their military organization. Chinese military forces will be used in the future much more than they have been used during the last year or two. They may be used for instance, in Burma.
Sitting suspended from 12.^5 to p.m.
– For a considerable time past there has been civil war in Burma. When there is civil war in a country there is generally a reason, but the reason for the war in Burma is not clear to us in Australia. Judging by events in other parts of Asia, it would seem that the conflict in Burma has been engineered, to some extent, at any rate, by another power. There may be a connexion between what is going on in Burma and the conflict in Korea. Earlier, 1 mentioned the protracted discussions on the proposed cease-fire in Korea. It may suit the purpose of one of the parties to the Korean conflict to prolong the discussions until an advantage is gained in Burma, Indonesia and elsewhere. In the meantime, what is the position in Burma? The result of civil war in any country is political uncertainty, economic instability and famine. What is happening in Burma is happening in varying degrees in Indo-China and Malaya. Of course, a civil war cannot continue indefinitely. While it lasts lives are lost, property destroyed and the economy of the country disrupted. The civil war in Burma must end in the near or distant future, and what will be the position then? It may be that there is a single directing mind behind the forces which are opposed to the constituted governments in the various South-East Asian countries
Australia is a party to the Colombo plan, the purpose of which is to give economic assistance to the countries of SouthEast Asia. Trade is the most important factor in international relations, but our trade with Burma, Indo-China, Malaya and Indonesia is insignificant. We sell little nf our surplus products to those countries, and buy little from them. We have to admit that the help which it is proposed to give under the Colombo plan will be quite inade quate, having regard to the populations of the countries concerned. Indeed, the food that is being offered will do hardly more than support the annual increase of population. It has been estimated that the population of Asia is increasing at the rate of 20,000 a day, so that any food which we can send must be a mere trifle compared with total requirements.
There should be set up under the authority of the United Nations an investigating body to ascertain the fertility of soils in Asian countries, to survey the materials available for manufacture, and finally to consider the facilities that exist for manufacture. When information on these matters is available, it will be possible to make arrangements for supplying the ascertained deficiencies. In Asia, as elsewhere, the people depend on the land for food, but agricultural processes in Asia are very primitive, and farm mechanization is practically unknown. That applies even to India, where the great bulk of the people are more backward than one might at first suppose. I do not know the reason for this, but the fact remains that in India, and some other Asian countries, there is an almost permanent condition of famine, the mortality rate is very high, and the standard of living very low. If it is found that certain soils are deficient, it should be possible to arrange for the manufacture of fertilizers to supply the deficiencies. We could supply some of the farm machinery needed, and encourage the establishment of factories to manufacture the rest. The first problem is to feed the people, and so far the United Nations organization has considered only ways and means of providing food. I believe, however, that it will be necessary also to teach the people of Asian countries how to establish and operate secondary industries. There is an abundance of labour; indeed, there is an excess of it. There is an adequate supply of raw materials with which to set up industries and to manufacture consumer poods. Malay, Indonesia, Burma and Indo-China are among the richest countries in the world in natural resources. In all those countries there is enormous mineral wealth. There are great tin and iron deposits, and the countries also produce oil, tea, rubber. jute, rice, and timber. Those natural resources are merely awaiting exploitation, and should be used to raise the living standard of the people. I can foresee that if China continues as it is going it will monopolize the trade with South-East Asia, and will eventually squeeze out all other countries. If we were unable to obtain jute goods the situation for our primary producers would become serious.
Yesterday, some honorable senators referred to the raising of overseas loans by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), and that brings us to the dollar position, and our economic relations with the United States of America. To most people in Australia, the reason for our lack of dollars is wrapped in mystery. America can produce within its own territories all the food that it requires to feed its people and all the raw materials that it requires for its industries. Therefore, it is not compelled to trade with the sterling countries. Those countries require dollars urgently, but it is almost impossible for them to engage in trade with America. Consequently, they have no dollar reserves. Trade is the essence of international relations. As 80 per cent, of the people who live in South and South-East Asia are completely illiterate, one can understand why countries in those areas have unstable economies and almost no manufacturing industries. But America and the sterling countries are highly civilized and developed. Nevertheless, they are unable to find a solution of the dollar problem. Australia requires machinery from America but, generally speaking, we cannot obtain it without making special arrangements for a dollar loan. On one occasion, America made dollars available to the sterling countries as a gift. That was one method of overcoming the difficulty temporarily. The failure of educated nations such as America and the sterling countries to solve the dollar problem reflects no credit upon them.
We must solve the problem as soon as possible. When we have done so, and when we are able to provide the Asiatic countries with the means by which they can help themselves, we shall be able to move towards a greater understanding among the nations. With the development of radio and air transport, no country can continue to think and act nationally, in isolation. We are beginning to realize that every country is only a unit in a world of units. The countries of the world are becoming more closely knit. The security of one nation is inseparable from that of the others. If we want to give the Asiatic countries security, we must do much more than we have done in the past. If we do not give them the security that they deserve, we shall have to look forward not only to our own security being menaced in the future but also to the establishment of a completely new form of government here. Within a few years, perhaps China will be the master of Asia. It is the duty of the United Nations and the nations of the British Commonwealth, with the assistance of certain European countries, to assist, before it is too late to do so effectively, the Asiatic countries that are not at present under the domination or influence of China and Russia to establish independent economies, so that they may live as free peoples. If -we do that, we shall be able to look forward to a bright future when we shall not be required to expend vast sums of money upon armaments for the purpose of defending ourselves against other countries.
– The statement on international affairs that has been presented to the Senate is one of the most important statements that have been made in this chamber. To-day, world affairs are a very tangled skein. It is clear that Australia must be prepared, more than ever before, to play its part thoroughly in international conferences and discussions. In the Pacific, we have a very important role. Australia, being, as we are pleased to say, one of the advanced countries, must rise to the occasion and play its part in the movement that is now in progress in that area.
I was very pleased to hear the constructive addresses that were delivered yesterday by a number of honorable senators, especially Senator Armstrong and Senator Byrne. The ordinary men and women of this country regard foreign affairs as a formidable subject, but those honorable senators made it clear that the subject can be summed up in the phrase, “ Know thy neighbour, and let him know you “. I, and I am certain 99 per cent, of the people of Australia, deplored the very vicious attack that Senator O’Flaherty made on the United States of America in the course of his address last night. The honorable senator hardly dealt with the subject under discussion, which is Australia’s foreign policy. He treated us to a vicious attack upon America’s foreign policy. Many of his statements were either gross misstatements or had no vestige of truth in them. It was refreshing to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) make an explanation, perhaps somewhat tardily, in the course of which, in effect, he repudiated the views that were expressed yesterday by some members of the Opposition in connexion with the attitude of Australia towards America and the Australian servicemen who are fighting in Korea. The Labour party needs a good spring-clean. A great number of members of the party do not subscribe to the vicious statements that have been made and to the attitude that has been adopted by other members. The time has come when the Labour party should state clearly to the Australian people where it stands in relation to the defence of this country. Recruiting for the armed forces is not being helped by members of the Labour party.
– Because they have no faith in this Government.
– This Government is playing its part in the recruiting campaign. The Old Book says, “ He that is not for us is against us “. I throw that quotation into the lap of the Labour party. He that is not for us in the defence of Australia is throwing his weight on the side of those who are against us. In my opinion, some of the statements that were made by honorable senators in this debate will cause much international misunderstanding. It would be better, if, as Senator Benn suggested, constructive suggestions were made rather than remarks of the kind to which we had to listen yesterday and which were, I think, resented very deeply by nearly everybody in this chamber.
I believe that a new civilization is arising in the Pacific. I believe also that Australia has a unique opportunity to play an important part in the struggle to keep the Pacific countries on the side of the democracies and prevent them from being handed over, body and soul, to Communist Russia. Every member of this Parliament should support the foreign policy of the Government if it is designed to achieve that objective. Our geographical position places us in a very advantageous position to take a leading part in the struggle, as do our advanced educational status and very satisfactory standards of living.
Criticism of the Minister’s statement was both unfair and untrue. If the statement had contained nothing more than a report of the progress of the Colombo plan, it still would have been worth while. The plan has been in operation only for a year, but already there are in this country about 100 Asiatic students of all types, including hospital nurses and social workers. They are working here alongside our own people, finding out our way of life and learning techniques that they can adopt in their own countries. That in itself is a minor triumph. We have lent to the Asiatic countries about 100 social workers and experts in water conservation, soil fertility and electricity generation. They are helping the people of those countries by teaching them how to make the best use of their soil in order that they will be able to grow the additional food that they require. Already the Colombo plan has achieved no mean success, notwithstanding that the problem that it is designed to solve is a tremendous and far-reaching one. Therefore, I think it is quite unjust to say that there is nothing in the Minister’s statement on which he could be congratulated. The Colombo plan, as honorable senators know, is a very long term plan, and if progress in connexion with it is continued at its present rate I have no doubt that in a few years’ time great benefits will have accrued to our country in the form of goodwill and to other countries in the form of help and planning. I think that honorable senators, as members of a parliament which was associated with the formulation of that plan, should give it their complete support and do all that they can in order to make it a success by increasing international understanding.
I have just returned from attending the Sixth Annual Conference of the PanPacific “Women’s Association in New Zealand. That conference was the largest that the association has held in the southern hemisphere. One hundred and twenty-five women delegates were present from nineteen Pacific countries. Senator Armstrong has stated during this debate that he doubted whether some of us knew the names of some Pacific countries, and I cannot help believing that what he said was true because some of the delegates, including Australians, did not know where countries from which some delegates had come were situated. It seems that we all need educating along these lines. ‘ The subjects discussed included the status of women, education, the interdependence of nations, social facts and political tensions. The subjects were very heady and the addresses that were given by people whose skins are a very different colour from ours made some of us, from what we like to call the more advanced countries, a little ashamed of ourselves, because these people have not had the chance to rise to the heights to which we should have risen. I think that we returned to our countries with the belief that these conferences represented a way of achieving international understanding.
The foreign policy of New Zealand is very similar to that of Australia and, in order to achieve international understanding, that country is very much in favour of the holding of conferences of this nature. The press of New Zealand gave a considerable amount of space to the reporting of this conference for a fortnight. I have three volumes of press cuttings which show that the press of New Zealand realized the tremendous upsurge of women’s activities that has taken place and the rising status of women in Pacific countries. The delegates to this conference were of every creed, every colour, and every nationality, but within a few hours of meeting each other we felt that many of the problems of our countries were the same, and that a lot of difficulties could be cleared away in an atmosphere of peaceful discussion. Mrs. Balboa, a lawyer from the Philippines and the mother of seven children, said publicly in Christchurch at the close of the conference that she was delighted that she had been able to come and learn at first-hand what the people of New Zealand and Australia were like. She said that the people of her country had a very different view of us from the one that she has gained. If the conference was successful in converting only one woman to the opinion that the nations are interdependent and that international friendship and understanding cannot be measured in pounds, shillings and pence, it was worthwhile. On the 26th January a Dominion paper, The Press, published the following leader : -
The sixth conference of the Pan-Pacific Women’s Association which closed in Christchurch yesterday more than fulfilled the high expectations at its opening a fortnight ago. lt was successful not just because it was, according to visitors, the best-organized COIlference that the association has held, or because it was the best attended (which was probably a result of the tour of the Pacific by the President, Mis3 Schain). Chiefly, it. was successful because women of many races, creeds, and colours found that they could, and did, respect and understand one another, and that they could work together, talk together, and even, although of different beliefs, pray together. These women are few in number among the women of the Pacific; but many more will learn from them of this great experience in friendship. The delegates, women of standing in their own countries, have profited from the conference personally in other ways, too. They know of other people’s problems and aspirations, of the needs of some peoples, of the help proffered by others, of proved methods of advancement in the status and influence of women. All delegates have enlarged their horizons. This is perhaps most true ot European women, particularly New Zealanders, who could not fail to be impressed by the dignity and maturity of their Asian sisters. Possible they felt a little humble when they considered the heavy responsibility the rela.tively few cultured women had to bear in countries only emerging into national literacy, and the achievements of these women in spite of their difficulties. The conference also brought to women of more fortunate countries a new and clearer realization of the need for help to under-privileged countries. It was heartening to learn from Asian women of the good that the United ^Nations and its agencies have already been able to do and of the confidence in which they are held. Support of the United Nations and ite work immediately appeared as a practical way in which women of rich countries could do something to help the peoples of under-developed countries, and as a way in which women of all countries could work for something very dear to their hearts - peace. A lesson not lost on delegates was that their efforts for a happier world must begin at home, because no nation can exert its potential influence for good until it ha3 reduced its domestic tensions. Also, it is in thu smaller circles of a community that women can find their first opportunities for service, opportunities that some of them have used well. All these benefits and others that came from the conference are intangible. It is not possible to cast up a balance-sheet, neatly setting against the actual monetary cost of the meeting a cash figure for such a thing as inspiration. But no one can doubt that the credit balance is an impressive one, and that it will continue to grow.
I suggest that many more of these conferences should be. held. This conference of women meets only once every three years. It has accepted an invitation to meet in the Philippines in 1955 and the delegates from the Philippines have gone back to their country rejoicing at the thought that people from all Pacific countries will meet in the Philippines in 1955 for the purpose of discussing the interdependence of the nations.
I cannot too strongly urge that every one of us should support the Colombo plan and do all that we can in our public and private capacities to strengthen friendships between these countries while there is still an opportunity for Australia to show their people the democratic way of life. I commend the Minister for his report on foreign affairs and I commend to him the suggestion that conferences of representatives of Pacific nations should be held and more visits paid to those countries while there is yet time. I heartily support the motion.
– Discussions on foreign affairs are of recent origin in the Australian Parliament. If it were not for the fact that the States of Australia had federated in the last 50 years a discussion of this description would not now be taking place. I do not regard the present proceedings of the Senate as a debate but as a discussion of a very important problem. In the past, the Australian people took very little interest in foreign affairs. It was not our prerogative to do so for in the days that are gone whatever foreign policy was laid down by the United Kingdom Government became the foreign policy of Australia. Even after World War I. the Australian Government was not very much concerned with foreign policy. We were a part of the British Empire, America adhered to its Monroe doctrine of isolation, and all foreign policy centred on the power politics of European nations. It was from Europe that various countries went out and, with the sword or otherwise, conquered other peoples and exercised a dominant influence on world affairs. Circumstances have changed since those days and it is now important that we, in Australia, should discuss these very important matters.
I was interested in the remarks of Senator Robertson concerning the conference that has just concluded in New Zealand. Many such conferences have been held from time to time, but, unfortunately, their decisions have had very little effect because a very minute minority of the people of any country take part in the discussions. I was very interested to hear the honorable senator say that the press of New Zealand had given some prominence to the discussions which had taken place. Unfortunately, that organ of propaganda, the press, very rarely reports the proceedings of such conferences extensively. The press seems to consider that other news is of more interest to the people and, naturally, it prints what the public desire. We have not given very much attention to these matters in the past but now we are beginning to discuss them seriously. We are beginning to form the opinion that Australia will play a very important part in world affairs. I wonder whether we are taking ourselves a little too seriously and whether any one will take particular notice of the discussion which is taking place in this chamber.
During this sessional period we have been presented with a fait accompli as far as entering into a treaty of peace with Japan is concerned. We have been told, quite bluntly, that no matter what may be the real wishes of the people of this country, we must accept and ratify the treaty in its present form. Already two of our allies in World War II. have done so. However, despite this set-back to the attainment of our aspirations, we must continue to consider carefully all phases of our foreign policy. I agree with the view that has been expressed by Senator McCallum, that it is necessary for us to devote much time and attention and hard work to this subject. Indeed, changes in the international scene occur so frequently that one must be constantly on the alert to keep pace with them.
Several honorable senators have made very worthy contributions to this debate, from an academic point of view. Although we could continue along that line, I consider that due emphasis should bc placed on the role that Australia may have to play in the future. . Senator Cormack has suggested that honorable senators would be wise to have a look at Australia and its northern neighbours from the air. I agree with his contention that one would probably gain a better overall picture of our problems in that way than by merely studying a map of the world hanging on the wall. There are many millions of people occupying Asia, South-East Asia, and the numerous islands immediately to the north of Australia who, as Senator Robertson has pointed out, know very little about Australia and- the Australian way of life. Similarly, the majority of our people know very little about the countries to our north. We do know, however, that there is much poverty in those islands. I have no doubt that travellers passing through those lands have .told the people stories about this rich fertile land of Australia, and have represented that it is practically unoccupied and has vast natural resources. When, several centuries ago, the governments of various countries of Europe decided that their countries were too small to contain their populations, explorers were sent out into the unknown to seek new lands for colonial expansion, and to see whether there could be obtained from other lands the commodities that were needed in their homelands. It is quite feasible that the teeming millions of the countries to our north would like to have Australia for them- selves, in view of the stories about the “ promised land “ that they have heard. A new ideology is developing in those countries. Down the years, as another honorable senator has already pointed out, the peoples of those lands have been exploited by Westerners. However, their interest in development has been awakened, and steps are now being taken to improve their education generally. Some years ago, when I attended an international conference, I discussed with representatives of other nations the problems with which they were confronted. Representatives of India and various countries of Asia told me thai their constant problem was to provide employment, food, clothing and shelter, for their depressed peoples. Most of the suggestions that are contained in the statement that the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) read to the Senate relate to efforts that must be made to stem the advancing tide of communism, which is perhaps the greatest problem confronting those countries.
It cannot be denied that Australia has not been developed to the full, and that it is capable of supporting a much greater population than we have to-day. Three or four roads are open to us. We might continue our affiliation with the British Commonwealth of Nations, or we might tend towards affiliation with the United States of America. We might decide to play an independent role, or we might continue along our present course of “having a little each way”. It has been apparent during this debate that some supporters of the Government have been unable to make up their minds in this connexion. Some of them have extolled the virtues of the great British war-time leader, Mr. Winston Churchill. When it was suggested by interjection that perhaps we might consider tending towards a closer relationship with the United States of America in the future, they demurred. A decision on our part to continue to support British foreign policy pre-supposes that we shall recognize Communist China. Great Britain has already recognized the Communist Government of China, and Mr. Churchill has not, as yet, given any indication that Great Britain wishes to rescind its policy in that connexion. It has been reported, also, that be gave no indication to President Truman, during the recent talks in Washington, of any intention on the part of Great Britain to change its attitude towards Communist China.
The great majority of Australians are opposed to communism. Some very prominent exponents of economic theories in this country have suggested that Australia should hitch its waggon to the dollar star, and that we should sell our primary produce on the best markets. It would appear from the Minister’s statement that there is a growing doubt in this country about the path that we should tread in the future. It is for that reason that I, and other members of the Labour party, are not prepared to support the establishment of a foreign affairs committee of this Parliament in terms of the resolutions of the House of Representatives that have been transmitted to the Senate for its concurrence. I consider that, as the proposed committee would not be empowered to call for all papers and documents that it required in order to carry out the purpose for which it was appointed, its appointment would be futile. I trust that as time goes on the Government will see the error of its ways. If the problem of international affairs is of such great importance that we must spend as much time on its consideration as Senator McCallum has suggested, surely the conclusions that we reach should be of some benefit to the Government. We have been told that we are bound to keep secret what we learn during committee discussions. In other words we are to revert to the practice that was in existence years ago under which international affairs became a matter of secret diplomacy, and Avars were made behind closed doors and moves and counter moves were planned and plotted in secrecy, not by the elected representatives of the peoples of the nations concerned, but by the members of their diplomatic corps.
– What about the secrecy clauses imposed by the Attlee Government which were disclosed in the House of Commons yesterday?
– The honorable senator’s interjection merely fortifies my contention that if Australia is to play its proper part in foreign affairs the
Government must .take the people into its confidence. There must be no more of this secret diplomacy. Australia’s foreign policy must, in future, be framed by the people in this country. Honorable senators opposite have painted a picture of the onward march of communism. We have been told that our armaments must be strengthened and that great precautions must be taken to prevent the spread of communism in neighbouring countries. Every reasonable man and woman who has studied the growth of communism will agree that the peoples of the East are embracing communism, not because they love it, not because they want to be under Russian domination - many of them have no knowledge of Russia or its affairs other than what they have seen portrayed in caricature in newspapers that circulate in their communities - but because they see in communism an opportunity to throw off the yoke of their oppressors. Many people in Asian countries are illiterate and are able to understand only what is conveyed to them in the form of cartoons. Many of our own newspapers adopt that form for the presentation of news and views in order to reach those who have not either the time or the intelligence to read the printed word. Those who propagate the doctrine of communism portray Russia as a land of plenty, in which literature and the arts are held in high esteem, and in which the people enjoy a very high standard of living. Since the early days of the Russian revolution we have been inundated with photographs depicting workers in Communist countries taking their leisure at the seaside or in workers’ rest homes and enjoying privileges which were denied to them under the old regime. Similar photographs accompanied by cartoons and literature have been poured into Asian countries where starvation is rampant and where cheap labour has been exploited to the full. Despite the influence of counter propaganda, the peoples of those countries are seizing upon communism as a means ->f lifting themselves out of the conditions under which they are now living. Can we blame them if they believe that in communism lies their salvation?
Government supporters, who undoubtedly have at least some say at their party meetings, should consider whether Australia is in a position to help to stem the tide of communism that is advancing upon us and threatening to engulf us. Provision has been made in the Colombo plan for Australia to play its part as a supplier of food and other commodities to the peoples of South-East Asian countries. As a member of the British Commonwealth, Australia ha3 also an obligation to send food and primary products to the Mother Country. For many years the people of the United Kingdom have looked upon Australia as an important source of food supply. They want us to increase our shipments of food fo them. During the war, and in the immediate post-war years, other countries which formerly supplied food to the United Kingdom were unable to maintain their shipments because of the destruction of their production potential during the war. The United Kingdom then looked to its co-partners in the British Commonwealth to supply its needs. Is Australia at present able to maintain the supply of foodstuffs to the Mother Country? As the result of the falling off in the production of primary products we can no longer meet our obligations to Great Britain. Yet we are asked to send wool, wheat and other commodities to Eastern countries to feed and clothe their starving millions. To carry out our role under the Colombo plan seems to be an almost impossible task having regard to the present decline in production. It may bo asked whether we can provide Eastern countries with secondary products - machinery and the like. What is the position of our secondary industries today? Some people contend that our secondary industries have been overdeveloped, that many of them were developed at too rapid a rate, and that some of them must inevitably be closed down. The policy of this Government is directed to that end.
– No, it is not.
– I hope that Senator Cormack will be able to prove his statement. He will have difficulty hi doing so because the effects of the Government’s policy are already being felt in the community. Government supporters should give their earnest consideration to these matters.
Our economy is in a very peculiar position - possibly a paradoxical position - because in a period of inflation we are called upon, not only to increase supplies of food to the United Kingdom, but also to succour millions of people in countries adjacent to Australia who need our food, our clothing, our machinery, and many other commodities that we produce. The fulfilment of our obligations in this respect presents a problem of great magnitude to the Government and to the country. The Government is not meeting the situation by encouraging the expansion of production to enable us to play the role that has been allotted to us. This is purely an internal problem. I am well aware that, in seeking to win the friendship of South-East Asian countries, we are starting off from scratch. They are not of our colour; we are of the colour of those who have exploited them in the past. Perhaps we can best win their goodwill by meeting their requirements as far as we are able to do 30. We must make them understand that we are not a warlike nation. I see nothing warlike in the countenances and demeanour of my friends opposite; they, too, see nothing warlike in us. We have to make the people of South-East Asian countries understand that we have no desire to dominate them, that we want them to live their lives according to their own ideas, and that we are prepared to help them to do so. If we are effectively to counter Russian propaganda and the march of communism we must emulate the example of the Russians and seek the confidence and friendship of the peoples of South-East Asia by supplying them with the foodstuffs and other commodities that they so urgently require. It is of no use for us to sit in conference with the representatives of other partners in the British Commonwealth and merely give expression to noble sentiments. We must show the peoples of South-East Asia that we mean what we say and that we are able to carry out the promises that we make to them. As the Minister has said, a regrettable feature of international politics to-day is the willingness of some countries to break solemn undertakings. We must convince the people of other countries that when we make promises we intend to fulfil them.
The international situation to-day presents us with many problems. We have problems in the Far East, in the Middle East, and in the Mother Country itself. The situation in the Middle East is of vital importance to Australia. The Suez Canal life-line is just as important, if not more important, to us than it is to European countries. I have yet to learn that we have been given an opportunity to express our views on the problem at all. Mr. Churchill’s recent visit to the United States of America has not yielded any assurance of military assistance from that country in the Suez Canal zone. Apparently the matter was not discussed. I am not attempting to belittle the great contribution that is being made by the American people in the international field, but we must examine the various problems in the light of Australia’s interests. If we want to justify our membership of the British Commonwealth, the focal point of which is Great Britain itself, we must ensure that trade routes and other lines of communication shall be kept open. Any nation that was unwilling to come to our assistance in our time of trouble, as we have gone to the assistance of other countries in the past, would not be playing its part as a member of our enlightened democratic civilization.
If the Government earnestly desires the support of the Opposition in ensuring continuity in Australia’s foreign policy, it must take honorable senators on this side of the chamber into its confidence. If we are to co-operate with the Government we must know what is being done. I have noticed even in this debate, that whilst some Government supporters have appealed for unity, they have not been slow to take advantage of opportunities for party political gain. The Government should take steps to curb the activities of the smear agent in another part of this legislature who, because of his failure to reach political prominence, now sneaks about looking for members of the Opposition to smear with half-truths and half-lies. If we are to be united in combating the menace to this country to-day from abroad, and if the Government is earnest in its pro fessed desire to secure the co-operation of the Opposition on the proposed foreign affairs committee, that committee must be told something about the Government’s policy and not be left to wrangle over bones that are thrown to it by the Minister. I trust that as the result of this discussion and other similar debates that will take place in this Parliament, not only the Parliament itself, but also the Australian people will become more enlightened and will have ;» greater understanding of international problems.
– ‘The study of foreign affairs is a pursuit of comparatively recent origin in this country. Until modern times Australia was so far removed geographically from the focal points of international affairs that most of us were little concerned about our relations with other countries. All that has now been changed, and debates of this kind should be of considerable advantage to the Parliament and to the Commonwealth as a whole. We are now vitally concerned with foreign affairs, and there is a need for us all to study Australia’s international problems much more seriously and intensively than ever before. Air travel has caused distances to shrink, bringing hitherto remote countries to within easytravelling time of our snores. All major aircraft producing countries are engaged in the production of military aeroplanes that can travel huge distances, drop their bombs and return to their bases. Australia already may be within reach of the air arm of other nations. I appreciate greatly therefore the information, contained in the statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) that we are now discussing. The statement was extensive and lucid, and because of its clarity and simplicity, it was somewhat frightening to those of us who think deeply.
The Minister referred to many of the world’s danger spots including IndoChina, Malaya, Indonesia, and other lands not far removed from our northern shores. He spoke also of the situation in Burma and of the problems of Iran and Egypt. There is a tendency for us to consider those danger spots individually, but if we look at the complete picture, we can have no doubt that the underlying cause of all the troubles is Soviet Russia In Malaya the Communists are at the root of the disturbances. The same may be said of Indo-China and of Korea. The latter country, of course is the foremost danger spot in the world to-day. We all know that, but for the intervention of the Chinese Communists and the provision of Soviet assistance in the form of war materiel and training facilities for troops, the Korean conflict would have ended long ago. Clearly Russia is trying in every conceivable way to obstruct the work of the United Nations. It may be argued that the peoples of both Iran and Egypt are fighting for their national rights, but we must not lose sight of the act that had the democratic countries, particularly Great Britain, not been so heavily committed in their attempts to combat the Communist menace elsewhere, the present trouble in Iran and Egypt would not have occurred. Obviously the Persians and the Egyptians believed that, with Britain busily engaged elsewhere, now was the time to press their claims. They know, of course, that they can play off lbc Communists against the democrats,
Kind that should the worst happen, they can rely upon Soviet Russia for assistance.
Russia has divided the world into two camps, the Communist forces and the democratic forces. Russia has gained strength first by over-running small neighbouring countries that could not hope to stem a Soviet invasion. Although many of those countries to-day profess to be Communist if they were given the right to chose their destiny, they would be glad to embrace democracy and shake off Soviet domination. Russia rules with such a heavy hand that no small Russian occupied country can possibly free itself, and we cannot even estimate how long it will be before the Russian yoke can be removed. Russia has gained strength also through the spreading of communism iri other lands. The claim that communism is a political ideology tickles the ears of many people including some in this country, and we can readily understand how the more backward nations can fall for that line of propaganda. We know it to be the sugar-coating on the pill and that countries which allow themselves to come under Soviet domination, very soon find the sweetness vanishing under brutal Russian administration. Russia’s endeavours to foster international communism have made it more than ever necessary for the peoples of the free world to stand together. To-day, the democratic nations are getting together and building up their military strength to such a pitch that it will discourage Russia from going to war. Russia has been rearming rapidly ever since the end of the last war. One honorable senator opposite said that no one in this chamber wanted Avar, and that is true. Neither do the people of Australia, or of other British Commonwealth countries or, indeed, of any of the democratic countries. Democracy does not make for warlike dealing. The danger comes from such a country as Russia, which wishes to dominate other nations, and force its ideology on them. It is essential that we who believe in democracy should make ourselves strong in order to counter the Russian threat. I believe it can be done, and that in a year or two the democratic countries will be so strong that it would not pay Soviet Russia to go to war. We should help to make Australia a powerful member of the United Nations,’ which has done such a splendid job. In spite of what a few individuals may think, the fact remains that the United Nations sprang to its duty in Korea. The people of Australia believe that what was done in Korea was right. A halt had to be called to Communist aggression. In Korea, the democracies said to the Russians and their satellites, “Thou shalt not pass!”
The Communist threat to Australia is real and close. Stretching from the southeastern corner of Asia to the north of Australia there is a. necklace of islands which the Communists are trying to use as stepping-stones in their southward advance. The recent elections in India showed that the Communists have made important political gains in that country. Recently, there were Communistinspired disturbances in Indonesia. If the Communists once gain control of Indonesia, Australia would be in grave danger of attack, particularly from the air, as we who live in Queensland are uncomfortably aware.
The international situation is very serious. Those holding responsible positions in democratic countries have to make decisions with a view to ensuring peace, but they have to proceed cautiously. Some of the Soviet leaders have declared that Russia wants peace, but there is plenty of evidence that Russia is not to be trusted. We must not be caught off our guard, and thus lose whatever advantage we may now hold. The references by the Minister for External Affairs to M. Vishinsky made clear the attitude of the Russians to the rest of the world, namely, that they are right and every one who opposes them is wrong. Members of all political parties in Australia, with few exceptions, would readily admit that our way of life, lived under democratic conditions, is preferable to life behind the Iron Curtain, either in Russia or in the satellite countries. T was born in Australia, and am content to live under the conditions that our method of government makes possible. It is our duty to make sure that democracy does not fail. For that reason, I was pleased that the Government was sufficiently courageous to make provision in the last budget for the proper defence of the country. I know that proposals which involve heavy expenditure, and, therefore, heavy taxation, are often distasteful; but I am also .convinced that if we found ourselves at war overnight we should be grateful that the Government, braving the criticism that had been directed against the budget, has determined to make Australia strong enough to defend and preserve the democratic way of life which we enjoy to-day.
. -The statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) was based on subjective reasoning. With him the wish was father to the thought, and his conclusions are unreliable. The Minister does not understand the position overseas, and that is true, also, of most honorable senators opposite. The Minister does not even understand the position in Australia. If he did, his approach to various problems would be very different.
Senator Wood laid great stress on the word “ democracy “. I know of no coun try where there is democracy true to name, and that is the fundamental reason why there is so much trouble in most countries. Here in Australia we have political democracy, which begins and ends on election day. After that, we have economic dictatorship. If honorable senators think that political democracy and economic dictatorship can run in double harness they are due to be disillusioned. The troubles with which we are beset to-day will be intensified unless there is a more rational and scientific approach to world problems.
I assert that all military warfare has its origin in economic warfare. So long as there is economic warfare there will be civil war in various countries. There will be no economic warfare where there is economic democracy. If democracy means anything it means equality, but there can be no equality where millions of men, women, and children are exploited and impoverished, as is the ease in many countries overseas. What is wrong with China to-day ? Any one who has read the history of China knows that the millions of peasants and workers in that country have for centuries been treated worse than animals. What has happened in China is the inevitable reaction from that state of affairs. The same is true of Iran, Egypt, Indonesia, and Burma. Senator Armstrong said that we are faced with a problem. What are the western countries going to do about it? If we believe that we can suppress those countries by the use of armed force, we shall be disillusioned, just as we were disillusioned in Korea. Hostilities in Korea commenced on the 25th June, 1950.
– Who began them?
– I am leading up to that point. The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) is trying to anticipate my remarks. Usually, I am grateful for a little help, but I do not want it now. It was expected that hostilities in Korea would have ceased long before now. I shall quote from a brochure which I regard as being ultra-conservative. It is the Intelligence Digest, edited by Kenneth de Courcy. No one will accuse him of having any sympathy with communism, or indeed with the Labour party. The December, 1951, issue of that publication contains the following passage : -
The miserable situation into which the Korean war developed, came about through a series of miscalculations. The facts of communist military preparations in North Korea were known long before the original attack. Nothing was done. Preparations for Chinese intervention were also known before the intervention occurred. Precise information about this was either ignored or disbelieved. . . The British Government was totally misinformed by certain agents about the prospects of peace. The British Socialist Cabinet believed that, by following a conciliatory policy, a satisfactory cease-fire could be arranged by the end of June, 1051. They were hopelessly wrong.
Senator Spicer wanted to know who started the war in Korea. Let me quote Sir John Pratt.
– Why does not the honorable senator quote Senator Ashley on the subject?
– Stupid interjections of that kind indicate quite clearly that honorable senators opposite are not taking these matters seriously. Their approach is wrong. As Senator Wood said, these matters should be discussed and studied very seriously, but I am certain that members of the Government parties, including the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), have not given to them the time and study that they warrant. Otherwise, this statement would not have been presented in its present form. It would have contained the evidence on which the Government based its case. The statement is, to use a colloquialism, so much eye-wash to any intelligent reader. Sir John Pratt was for thirteen years an adviser on Far Eastern affairs in the British Foreign Office. For two years he was head of the Far Eastern section of the British Ministry for Information. For twenty years he was the Foreign Secretary’s representative on the Universities of China Committee. He is now vicechairman of the Board of Governors of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. In a pamphlet he wrote -
When the Korean war broke out both Russia and China were taken completely by surprise and both held anxiously aloof. Russia gave no aid to the North Koreans even when a little aid might have turned the scales decisively in their favour, and China intervened only four months later when her own territory was threatened bv the march of Mac Arthur’s army to the Yalu river. Up to June, 1950, all authorities were agreed that since 1945 Russian policy had been preoccupied, not with armaments, but with reconstruction. Her armaments were defensive and her war potential was only a fraction of that nf the nations of the free world. The withdrawal from North Korea in 1948 was an extension of Russia’s general military withdrawal behind her own frontiers in Asia and her attitude in Asia continued to be one of increasing passivity. The then existing scale of armaments was, therefore, considered to be adequate.
Truman’s sudden change of policy was forced on him by the success of Senator McCarthy’s witch-hunt in the spring of 1950. He succeeded in inflaming the American people with a wave of fear and hysteria, and, as he was supported by the leaders of the Republican Party, Truman saw that, in order to avoid losing votes in the Presidential elections, he would have to attack communism in the way advocated by the McCarthy-MacArthur school of politicians, namely, by giving aid to Chiang Kai-shek on Formosa, and to Syngman Rhee in South Korea to enable them to overthrow the Communist governments in China and North Korea.
What Sir John Pratt has written about President Truman can be said about honorable senators opposite, and aboutpracticallly every member of the Government. The Government’s approach to the problem is to create a fear complex appeal to racial prejudices, ignore facts, and attribute ulterior motives to any one who criticizes it. If my colleagues or I challenge the policy of the Government in any way, we are told we are Communists. The Government is suffering from “ com.mophobia “, a word that I have coined. It prefers to appeal to the fears and prejudices of the people rather than to meet argument with argument and fact with fact. The statement that I have just read, written by a man of the reputation and standing of Sir John Pratt, is worthy of an answer. The point that I wish to make is that, so far as I know, his statements have not been challenged. He has not been indicted for making subversive utterances. His pamphlet has been circulated throughout Great Britain, but, so far as I know, no action has been taken against him.
I refer again to Mr. D. N. Pritt. q.O.. a man well qualified to express an opin lie has been trained to marshal facts and to present a case. I have already read the beginning of his pamphlet New Light on Korea. ‘Now I shall read the conclusion.
– This is only Communist propaganda.
– That is what the Attorney-General says. If he said that in a court, he would be committed for contempt. The Attorney-General’s job is, or should be, not to impute ulterior motives to other honorable senators but to answer arguments. Mr. Pritt’: pamphlet concluded with the following words : -
The world is thus in great peril ; but there are many forces for peace, and peace can be saved. What must peace-lovers do? They must rally every section of thought in every country to encourage or compel - as the case may be - their governments, by every available democratic method, to throw their weight into the scale of peace at UNO, and in all other fields of activity. UNO must cease to be a tool working under the pressure of the USA and must again be, as it was designed, to be, an organization in which all countries can work for peace by conciliation, discussion, it nd understanding, rather than by threats of force to be applied at the instance of blocs of power controlled by the USA.
Both in UNO and outside, every government and people - yes and every individual - must work for the immediate settlement of the Korean war, for an agreement of the five great Powers to negotiate a pact of peace fur the simultaneous and properly controlled ! reduction of armaments, for the prohibition of the atom bomb and all other weapons of indiscriminate slaughter, and for the demilitarization of Germany and Japan.
We can thus work with a good heart for the cause of peace. We know that 2,000,000,000 people want peace, and that the majority of them grow more conscious every day of the danger of war, of the need to fight that danger, and of the good prospects of success in such a fight. They knew,* too th« awful cost of war under modern conditions, and **» s,;j«»itable vists r r__, happiness, freedom anxiety and the real true prosperity we shall win if we keep the peace.
If we are vigilant and active, if we refuse to be misled, and insist on knowing and understanding the facts, the future will be safe
That is the position. A lot has been said about Communist propaganda. Let us have the facts. If the Government believes that a person is a Communist and has committed subversive acts, let it give us the facts on which it bases its case. It has made no attempt to do so. The late John Burns said on one occasion, “ Most people are either slaves of shibboleths or prisoners of phrases “. That is perfectly true, especially in this exalted institution here in Canberra.
I have said that the position is not understood by the Minister for External Affairs. No constructive proposal has been advanced for the re-organization of the economies of Malaya, China, India, Egypt and other countries, but adverse economic conditions are responsible for most of the upheavals that are now occurring in the world. The French are retreatin Indo-China, and in Korea there has almost been a retreat. As the people of these countries become stronger they will become educated by hard and practical experience. Constructive proposals should be submitted for the organization of the economies of these countries. They are all practically self-contained so far as basic needs are concerned. China and other countries are quite capable of producing all the rice that they need but they have never been able to do so. Now, they have revolted against the restrictions to- which they have been subjected and which have brought their standards down below what we consider to be the breadline.
So far as I know, the United States of America, under the Marshall plan, has not given any assistance to any country except in the form of arms. It has never sent consignments of farm machinery or an army of technicians to assist other countries to re-organize their economy. That is what should have been done but nothing of the kind has been done. I consider that the Minister for External Affairs and others who think along the same lines as he does have no knowledge of what I call the basic laws of mankind. There are three such laws. One is the law of cause and effect which applies to the human as well as to the inorganic world. We must examine relationships between cause and effect and if we make a rational and scientific approach to our problems on that basis we shall see a different picture from that which is seen at the moment by the Government. Then there is the law of self-preservation. The people of these countries are guided by that law. They want to save their lives. They want to be able to live comfortably and happily and rear their children. They are human beings as honorable senators are and the law of self-preservation applies to them as it does to us. Then there is the law of change or evolution. They are the three laws of mankind of which the Minister for External Affairs must be quite ignorant. Otherwise his approach to a subject such as the one before the Senate would be very different from what it is. His statement would then be worth reading, keeping and studying. As it is, I suppose that most copies of it will find their way into the wastepaper basket.
It is necessary to learn how to control social forces as well as the forces of nature. Mankind has made wonderful progress in controlling the forces of nature such as steam, electricity, rain, and now, atomic energy. But the social forces which are responsible for wars, revolutions and strife are not studied or understood. I have had at least 40 years’ practical experience of negotiating with employers and others in connexion with strikes and disputes and their approach to problems has always been that of the actual or potential dictator. They say, “ This is the law - the manmade law - and it must be obeyed”. Reference has been made in this debate to the shortage of dollars. There is actually no shortage of dollars or of money of any kind. There is a shortage of intrinsic wealth, planned and organized for a special purpose. Australia must be able to trade with foreign nations including those of the East and America on a basis of equity. If the Government wishes to solve the problems with which it is faced it must adopt the approach that I have suggested. Honorable senators opposite will not achieve any good purpose by accusing the Labour party of being subversive. In answer to Senator Robertson I say that the spring cleaning that is required is a mental spring cleaning in the ranks of her own party. If these subjects were discussed dispassionately, calmly and thoroughly and intelligently, this Parliament would be able to do very much better for the people than it is doing at present. By adopting a dictatorial approach to these matters the Government has only invited resistance. In the last analysis, in physics, action and reaction are equals as well as opposites. Unless the Government considers its problems in the way I have suggested it will never solve them.
Where there are exploiters and exploited, and debtors and creditors, the difficulties that are produced by those antagonistic forces can be understood only by adopting a rational and scientific approach. I repeat that the Minister for External Affairs does not understand the economic position. He may sincerely think that he does. I do not question his sincerity but I question his judgment and knowledge. Monopolies extend and become stronger until they set up an economic dictatorship and put small businesses and firms out of existence, as they have done throughout the world. Certain honorable senators opposite have implied that the Opposition has no right to express views that are different from those of the Government. I say that Senator O’Flaherty is entitled to express his views, and that it is the obligation of the Government to answer the charges that he made and prove that he is wrong, if it can do so. The allegation that he is an irresponsible person does not constitute proof that his statements are incorrect. It is merely the utterance of ignorant and prejudiced persons. I repeat that honorable senators opposite must adopt a rational and scientific approach to these problems if they are to solve them, because arguing by rule of thumb methods will not accomplish anything and, ultimately, will make a bad position worse.
– During this debate on the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), honorable senators have indulged in a good deal of conjecture. I have been amazed to hear the supporters of a government which is supposed to propound an international policy spending more than 95 per cent, of their time in trying to vindicate that Government’s action in departing from the Labour party’s policy. This would suggest that the Government’s experiment in abandoning the principles of the United Nations Charter has not been a happy one. The Labour party believes that collective security will save democracy but it must be married to the high principles on which the United Nations organization was established. The Government appears to believe in the collective security of those nations which co-ordinate their economic policies but it has jettisoned the fundamental United Nations policy of the recognition of human rights. Such action will not assist the world to preserve peace. Some honorable senators have got completely out of equilibrium in their reasoning on this matter. They have suggested that a solution -of the problems confronting the world must be based on economics and the maintenance of trade. As any student of history knows, the international problems of today are not new problems. They are as old as Egypt. Yet some honorable senators opposite have pursued an individualistic approach to the subject. One supporter of the Government has even besmirched the name of that great Australian, John Curtin, whose whole outlook was based on decency. He stated that John Curtin had howled to America for assistance. If that honorable senator had quoted extensively from the speech that John Curtin made when this country was struggling for its very existence, every decent member of the community would uphold what John Curtin did. The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) has read to us a copy of a speech that was delivered in the House of Representatives by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). It contains this passage in relation to the fighting in Korea -
The ordinary man has every right to ask why a cease-fire has not been brought about. The reason lies principally in the Communist technique of so-called negotiation, of which we have now had so many examples: In the abortive meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers; in the abusive and time-wasting “ negotiations “ by the Chinese and North Korean Communists in Korea; and in the United Nations itself.
Who is the “ordinary” man? Is this a term coined by the Minister for External Affairs as a definition of a person different from himself or his party members; in other words, is he a supporter of the Australian Labour party? The Government claims that its foreign policy is allied closely with the policy of Great Britain. I have before me the English publication The New Statesman and Nation of the 16th February, which contains a commentary on the proceedings of the General Assembly of the United Nations, when events in Korea were being discussed. It reads, in part -
A subject that gave rise, towards the end of the Assembly, to discussion of grave importance and almost unequalled acrimony was Korea. In his November speech, Mr. Eden had expressed the hope that TJ.N. would concentrate on some limited, but valuable objectives, such as helping to bring about the end of the war in Korea. (Or so, at least, his references to Korea were widely interpreted.) Yet the U.S. would not have Korea discussed at any price, by the Assembly, or any of its Committees, or by the Security Council. On January 12, Vyshinsky explained: “You keep telling me that we only have to tell the Koreans and the Chinese to stop the war; my reply is: “You only have to tell Ridgway the same thing.”
It is obvious that Mr. Anthony Eden had desired that the United Nations should consider the matter of a settlement in Korea and obtain peace in that country, but the United States delegate had different views. Another portion of the article reads -
What finally clinched the matter was that (and I am here quoting an important Western delegate) when the question seriously arose of U.N. discussing the Korean armistice, the American military at Panmunjon vigorously protested against any such possibility, and “ threatened to pack up “ ;
We have not been given all available information on this matter. Our foreign policy must be determined by the capacity of Australia to govern well within its own borders and to obtain the confidence of other democratic countries. The former Labour Government endeavoured to attain those objectives. It was very proud of its economic policy. It gave more than lip service to the British Commonwealth of Nations. When Labour relinquished office Australia had a credit of £400,000,000 sterling, but it has been whittled away by the present Government, which has drawn unduly on the resources of the United Kingdom in order to gain a temporary advantage for Australia. In many instances it would have been more advantageous to Great
Britain to sell in other markets of the world goods that it has exported to Australia. During the regime of the former Labour Government considerable progress was made in the development of our primary and secondary industries, without resort to American financial assistance. But this Government departed from Labour’s policy in that connexion when it borrowed ‘100,000,000 dollars from the United States of America. That money has been expended in accordance with the wishes of the leaders of the Government parties. In effect, the Government’s policy is formulated not by the Parliament, but by Ministers in personal association with influential persons or bodies outside the Parliament. I am under the impression that the rank and file supporters of the Government have very little say in determining the policy of the Government. Although some honorable senators may consider that that matter is not connected with international affairs, I believe that the policy of the Government on financial matters has a considerable bearing on its attitude to and association with other nations. The Minister stated -
Under the economic development programme, we have shipped or ordered £A.3,700,000 worth of wheat for India, and £A.300,000 worth of flour for Ceylon.
During the period that Labour was in office Australia made gifts to Great Britain totalling £135,000,000, and at the same time maintained equilibrium in its trade balance, without having to borrow money from America. Unless the Government adopts a different attitude on finance, I doubt very much whether Australia will be able to meet its obligations for very much longer. Already the Government’s financial policy has resulted in a decline of the production of foodstuffs in Australia. Although we are committed by the Colombo plan to provide large quantities of wheat and other foodstuffs for the peoples of South-East Asia, insufficient food is being produced for Australian consumption and to enable us to honour our contracts with Great Britain. Farmers in “Western Australia resent the introduction of socialization by taxation by this Government, and, as a result, the areas sown to wheat and harley in that State have decreased con- siderably. In some instances, in order to avoid embarrassment as a result of excessive taxation, farmers have refrained from planting during the current season. A farmer who desires to increase his income from £10,000 a year to £15,000 a year-
– I rise to order. ] submit that the honorable senator’s remarks are irrelevant.
– Order ! I have been very tolerant with honorable senators during this debate, and, when Senator Wright rose to order, I was about to ask Senator Cooke to deal more specifically with the matter before the Chair. I uphold the point of order that has been raised. I have allowed Senator Cooke a great deal of latitude in order to develop his theme, but I cannot permit him to wander too far. He should confine his remarks to the matter before the Chair.
– I am endeavouring to show, constructively, that the reaction of the farmers to the Government’s internal policy must seriously affect our foreign policy. Above all, we must not repudiate our overseas contracts. The Government by mere legislative action can do nothing to increase production. Production can be increased only by those engaged in the primary and secondary industries. They produce the real wealth of this country. Upon them, and upon them alone, depends our ability to meet our commodity commitments to other countries. Under the Colombo plan we are committed to grant a generous measure of assistance to the peoples of South-East Asia who have not the wherewithal with which to raise their standards of living to a decent level. If we are to play our part under the Colombo plan we must increase production. It is regrettable that one of the biggest concerns in the southern hemisphere, Chamberlain Industries Limited, of Welshpool, Western Australia, which 13 engaged in the manufacture of wheel tractors, has had to dispense with a large number of its employees because this Government has permitted the importation of similar tractors from the United States of America. Although the company had no fewer than 1,000 tractors awaiting purchasers the Government permitted these importations to he made. As a result of that misguided policy a great Australian industry is languishing. When the tractor industry was first established honorable senators who now siton this side of the chamber predicted that it would be of the utmost value for defence purposes because it could, at short notice, undertake the manufacture of army tanks. The tractor industry, which was regarded as a basic war-time industry, should be preserved as a defence measure. If we expect our word to bc accepted by other friendly nations we must ensure that industries of this kind shall be kept in full operation. Primary and secondary production should not be impeded by the imposition of crippling taxation. I do not quarrel with the Government for having made these international commitments. On the contrary, I admire it for having done so. My complaint against it is that it has done nothing to ensure that we shall be able to honour them. I challenge members and supporters of the Government to deny that they are dismayed by, and worried about, the decline of primary production. Do they contend that, in spite of the serious decline that has taken place in primary and secondary production, we can honour our international obligations? The expansion of production was surely an intrinsic element in our agreements to supply food and other commodities to the peoples of other countries. What steps has the Government taken to ascertain whether or not it can meet its commodity commitments? If the present trend continues we shall not be able to meet the requirements of the Australian people and of the peoples of the British Commonwealth, let alone supply some of the needs of other countries. We shall be discredited by nations with which we hoped to establish friendly relations if we fail to honour the obligations imposed upon us by the Colombo plan. The peoples of the countries of South-East Asia are interested, not in theories, but in food and other necessaries without which they cannot continue to exist. Crippling taxation is the principal cause of the decline of production, not only in Australia, but also in the United States of America. The American people have been told that high taxes have been imposed upon them in order to enable their Government to meet its international commitments. Already, as the result of high taxes, American industries are beginning to languish. Many of them are kept going only because of orders foi war materiel.
Honorable senators must realize that economic policy and foreign policy are very closely interwoven. If we are to debate this subject properly we must be permitted to discuss all facets of foreign policy. If we are merely allowed to sa.y nice things to one another, we shall achieve nothing. Unemployment is developing in this country as it is in the United States of America. Perhaps the worst aspect of the Government’s policy is that it is resulting in unemployment in the heavy industries. As I have said, the biggest engineering industry in Western Australia has already had to put off hundreds of men. It is not a luxury industry or one that is not essential to war preparation and defence, and it is not an industry that is equipped with obsolete machinery ; it is a basic industry upon which the fulfilment of our commitments for defence and under international agreements depends. It has been subsidized very generously by the Commonwealth. Probably more than threequarters of its plant, which is valued at approximately £1,750,000, has been purchased with money provided from Commonwealth sources.
Can we possibly strengthen our defences, act as the policeman ‘of the Pacific, aid Malaya and Indo-China and meet our commitments in Korea, if Australian industries are allowed to languish? The ruling of the President prevents me from stating what I believe to be the reasons why the Government has adopted this policy. What is hampering primary production ?
– The volume of primary production has fallen principally because no incentive is given to primary producers to increase production. The crippling taxation imposed on the community has destroyed incentive to earn more money. What does the Government hope to gain by promising to supply to other nations quantities of foodstuffs and commodities which are beyond our capacity to produce? If we are sincere in our dealings with other nations in whom we wish to inspire confidence, and with whom we desire to make mutual trading arrangements, we must limit our commodity commitments to quantities that we are capable of supplying. It is of no use for us to attempt to convince the major powers that we are anything but a small nation. Although we are able to offer assistance to less fortunate peoples, we must admit our limitations and readily agree that, compared to the great nations of the world we are but a minor nation.
The Government has not served any useful purpose by submitting to us a statement of this kind which, though it makes pleasant reading, tells us nothing we do not already know. A debate of this kind in which many honorable senators opposite use up a great part of their time in referring to the records of past governments and administrations can be of little value. The Government should invite honorable senators on this side of the chamber to assist it to formulate its foreign policy. If there are weaknesses in our production programme which stultify the efforts of the Government to develop a vigorous foreign policy, they should be remedied immediately so that we shall be able to pull our weight as an important member of the British Commonwealth. The Government should prove that it has endeavoured to increase primary and secondary production in Australia to enable us to be as generous to the peoples of other countries as we wish to be. It should foster established industries, especially those of great defence value such as the tractor industry to which I have referred, in the establishment of which the previous administration paid a noteworthy part. It should use every possible means to expand secondary production and thus avoid unnecessary resort to importations from the dollar area. If we borrow from another .country, whether from France, Switzerland, Russia, or the United States of America, and incur liabilities which are subsequently transferred to another nation, we limit our ability to trade where we wish to trade and we are forced to relate our foreign policy_ to our economic policy. I should like to have a clear statement from the Government of its economic and foreign policy.
– I rise to take part in this debate, even at this late stage because, as I have said on other occasions, I always welcome the opportunity to discuss in the Senate the subject of foreign affairs. The importance of a vigorous foreign policy is becoming increasingly apparent to the Australian people. I do not think that that change of national conscience can have anything but a good result. I rise at this stage of the debate to direct attention to one or two matters the. importance of which I believe has not been sufficiently stressed. The first is the importance of Europe in world affairs. Because of the matters contained in the statement that was read by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) the debate has centered on our Pacific neighbours and the problems of Asia. I do not want to diminish the importance of those problems. In a few moments I shall attempt to outline what I regard as the basic factors that must inevitably govern our foreign policy, irrespective of the generation in which we live and of the political party which is in power. Europe is important in world affairs because there can no longer be a balance of power. We now have an alinement of power as distinct from the balance of power which was’ a potent force in the period between the two world wars and prior to the outbreak of World War I. The calamity which nearly overtook Australia when the Japanese attacked us would not have been possible if World War II. had notbeen on a global scale. If the Japanese had made a direct attack on Australia as they did on Pearl Harbour the combined navies of Great Britain and the United States of America would have put “ paid “ to their account in very short time. But because the British Navy was heavily committed in home waters and because America had just been precipitated into the war, the Japanese were able to thrust southwards, as another future aggressor might well do. I believe, therefore, that, in spite of Australia’s geographical position, Europe is still an important consideration, if not the most important consideration to us. Since the end of World War II., we have seen the emergence of two great nations which, prior to the war, had been isolationist. I refer, of course, to Russia and the United States of America. To-day, those two nations face one another in central Europe. The spread of America’s sphere of influence has been even greater than that of the Soviet sphere. Russia, of course, has adopted Hitler’s technique and has diverted the flow of manufactured goods and equipment from Western Europe to countries behind the Iron Curtain. Under the Sovroms system, Russia has set up certain companies which may be likened - I hesitate to make this comparison lest I provoke interjections - to private enterprise. Such organizations are, of course, all under Russian leadership. Commodities such as oil are being obtained under government contracts, again under the control of Russians. By this means, the Soviet is drawing from central Europe the vital supplies that it requires, and, in return is feeding back commodities that it can afford to export. I believe that should a passage at arms occur in Europe, as it did in Korea, there would be a world conflict immediately. Because of the state of Europe to-day, and because of the temper of the European countries, a forward thrust by any force would instantly provoke a world war which would involve Australia. Because of our geographical position, and because the myth of the unchanging East is now dead, the Pacific area is of vital importance to Australia, but we must not lose sight of the danger in Europe.
From the present-day alinement of powers there has developed what has been termed America’s policy of containment of Russia. I do not suggest that the United States of America or ihe Allied nations should have adopted any other policy. I was pleased to read in the Minister’s statement the passage in which he emphasized that we must never consider war to be inevitable; that, in spite of all the warlike preparations throughout the world to-day and no matter how often we might strive for peace and fail, we should hope to finally succeed. We should never resort to force of arms until war is thrust upon us. Considerable heat has been engendered in this debate and I should not like to add to it. I am merely stating a factual position. That the United States of America has adopted a policy of containment towards Russia is undeniable. We see evidence of the present world-wide alinement of power in Korea. When an armed thrust was made by the Communists, the United Nations decided that it was time to resist Communist aggression by force of arms. We see further evidence of the alinement of power in the flow of dollars to strategically important countries such as Greece and Turkey, where American finance is being used to provide modern tractors and build urgently needed all-weather roads. We see evidence of the alinement of power, too, in the peace treaty with Japan, about which I shall have more to say when the relevant legislation comes before the Senate next week. That treaty, I believe, is an instrument of the Allied containment policy. Finally, there is ample evidence of the alinement of power in Europe which I still believe to be the cauldron of the world.
Several honorable senators have considered themselves obliged to justify their participation in this debate, but to my mind some of the excuses bore very little relationship to the subject matter now under discussion. I do not come to praise Mr. Churchill, our Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), or the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Dr. Evatt), nor do I come to bury them. Historians will decide whether they should be praised or condemned, and time will certainly bury them as it will bury all of us. The problem of this generation and of the parliaments of this generation is to agree upon a strong foreign policy and to provide the machinery that we now lack to implement such a policy. Australia has developed considerably since 1939. I remember listening to a candidate for Parliament in Western Australia years ago. When he was asked for his views on foreign policy, his reply was, “We are far too busy worrying about internal policy to be bothered about foreign policy “. His remark was applauded, and I have no doubt it reflected the opinion of his electors in those days. The task of this generation is to provide machinery that will enable us to meet the various problems that we shall encounter in dealing with a rapidly changing world.
A debate of this kind should be free from politics and personalities. Australian foreign policy will march long after we are dead and gone, and long after present-day political parties have fallen, risen, and perhaps fallen again. What are the considerations that must govern Australian foreign policy? Without wishing to be dogmatic, I believe, that the first and probably the foremost consideration must be Australia’s membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations. It was because of that membership that Australian servicemen marched to war in 1914 and again in 1939. Australia was not drawn into those conflicts by events in the Pacific, excluding, of course, the events that led up to the incident in Manchuria in 1931. We cannot contract ourselves outside Europe. We must follow the policy that is pursued by the British Commonwealth of Nations, the United States of America, and whatever other countries may aline themselves with us. Wherever that policy may lead us in Europe, we must follow it. We can not contract out of our European obligations, and we did not seek to do so when we declared war in 1914 or in 1939.
Our second consideration in formulating our foreign policy must be the policy and interests of the United States of America in the Pacific area. However, that is a matter on which I shall speak in more detail when the measure providing for Australia’s ratification of the Pacific security pact is under consideration. With the Americans in occupation of Japan and more than 600 islands north of the equator, Australia’s obligation isto be fully informed of and fully conversant with what America is doing, and to advise that country on matters that come within our purview.
The third important consideration in formulating our foreign policy is our membership of the United Nations. The establishment of the United Nations drew criticism from, many ‘people who had been embittered by the failure of the old League of Nations to maintain world peace. Naturally, those people were reluctant to believe that the nations of the world could co-operate successfully in a peace organization. We frequently hear the criticism that- the General Assembly or the Security Council is merely a place where hot words are exchanged. But if we can confine international disputation to hot words, and avoid the use of hot missiles, we shall be doing something worthwhile. I believe, too, that the social and cultural work of the United Nations through such agencies as the International Labour Office, must always have an influence on Australian foreign policy. The Colombo plan is a manifestation of the ideals of the United Nations.
The fourth consideration- and here again I refrain from speaking dogmatically - is the rise of Asiatic nationalism. Because of our geographical position that problem may well be the most important and most complex of all. In spite of the rapidly changing international situation certain fundamental considerations remain. Senator Laught has dealt with the Colombo plan and given us the benefit of his experiences in Syria. He said that instead of sending large quantities of grain and other foodstuffs to Asian countries we should send technicians. I believe that we should send everything that we can lay our hands on, because the time is short. In the final analysis, the destiny of Asian countries is in the hands of the Asian peoples themselves. They must ultimately learn to farm their own lands and to develop their own cultures; but we cannot win a race if we start too far behind scratch. That is why I say that we should do everything possible to raise the deplorable living standards that so many nations endure to-day. There can be no greater menace to world peace than the menace of poverty. I have said before in this chamber that when 1,000,000 people in one city alone are forced to sleep every night on the sidewalks, peace is not possible. Therefore, although the greatest problem that confronts us to-day may well be self-preservation through the maintenance of world peace, the problem is by no means free from humanitarian and moral considerations. No Christian country and no democratic country can sit smugly by while poverty is so widespread. The uplifting of the standards of Asian countries is consistent with the policy of containment of which I have spoken. If we are to persist in that policy - and I believe that we must do so, because we consider it to be the only peaceful solution of the international problem - we must show determination to our enemies and kindness to those who will appreciate it. We cannot ensure peace by running away. Twenty-three per cent, of the world’s population is distributed amongst what we call the “ western “ nations. The population of the countries on the eastern side total 31 per cent. The remaining 46 per cent, is to be found in the countries of which [ have been speaking.’ Therefore if the policy of containment is to be pursued to a successful conclusion, we must use such instruments as the Colombo plan unstintingly. It is a question of selfpreservation. There is a very old axiom that nations which trade with each other very seldom quarrel. There are exceptions, of course, but the truth of the axiom i3 fairly well established by the history of many of the small nations of the world. If we foster trade with the countries to the north of Australia our economy will benefit, and we shall help to maintain peace. We should remember the axiom when considering our policy towards the under-nourished peoples of the world.
Senator Laught referred to that part of the Colombo plan under which students from Asia come to Australia and he said that we should carry the scheme a step further and exchange students. I sometimes wonder whether various organizations in Australia have been grasping the opportunity presented to them by the presence of Asian students in Australia. For instance, is the great trade union movement trying to impress the visitors with the progressive ideals of Australian trade unionism ? Have members of the Housewives Association done anything to gain, by contact with the students, a wider knowledge of the countries from which they come? It is not enough just to exchange friendly greetings ; that does not get us very far. We should try to learn something of the problems of the other peoples, and put them in the way of learning something of our problems. Government action by itself will not suffice. It is the duty of the Government to give a lead, but it will rest with the Australian people themselves to make a success of the scheme.
Senator Laught said that when he was in Syria he gained the impression that the wheat which we had shipped to that country was being wasted. That brings me to the point made by Senator Armstrong, and referred to by me on previous occasions. I believe that groups of members of this Parliament, as well as representatives from various walks of life, should travel under government direction to other countries, and particularly to those countries which have recently gained their independence. We know nothing of those countries, and they know very little about us. Some countries, such as India, Pakistan and Indonesia, have enjoyed independence for only a very few years. It is important that we understand how their people are thinking. They are sick of Western domination. I do not say that in any spirit of criticism, and I do not believe that they are actually hostile. Certainly, those to whom I have spoken are not hostile, but they quite rightly wish to govern themselves. They are deeply suspicious. Many of them have studied world communism, but their religion, which influences their lives more profoundly than religion influences ours, is a barrier against the spread of communism. Their ambition is to bring about a federation of Arab states, but on the question of communism they may ultimately have to come down on one side or the other. Therefore, it is important that we should know more about them, and that they should know more about us. I do not suggest that the association should be too close. In the case of relatives, we visit them and understand their problems, but it is better not to live with them. The same principle applies in the countries I have been discussing.
I now wish to touch briefly upon the position in Kashmir. This is not a remote problem. The dispute over Kashmir is between two members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and therefore concerns us closely. One of the greatest things that the British Commonwealth ever did was to give freedom to India and Pakistan and yet to keep both those countries within the Commonwealth. Nevertheless, there remains the dispute over Kashmir, which is a running sore. The Australian Government sent Sir Owen Dixon to mediate in the dispute, but he was unsuccessful. An officer of the United Nations is now attempting to bring about a settlement. Kashmir is in a strategically dangerous zone. The dispute must be settled, and we should be in a position to require the disputants to accept the decision of an arbitrator.
I pay a tribute to the British Government for its handling of the Persian problem. I am not discussing whether the final outcome of the dispute will suit us, or will be to the liking of the British Commonwealth generally, but I admire the dignified manner in which the British Government conducted negotiations, and its regard for international law. The behaviour of Britain in the Persian dispute was in keeping with its manner of dealing with India, Pakistan, and Ceylon. In those negotiations, we witnessed the spectacle of a great nation pointing a new way to world peace. After all, atomic war is the only alternative to world peace. Those who say that Britain was too soft with Persia are harking back to the clays of gunboat diplomacy, but those days are past. Peace must be based on commonsense and knowledge of other countries. The folks we do not like are those we do not know. “We cannot learn how to preserve peace just by sitting still in Australia. We must, without political or racial bias, study other peoples.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kendall) adjourned.
Apples and Pears - Waterfbont Employment - Land Settlement of exServicemen - Housing.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to refer to the situation on the Hobart waterfront, because it threatens the apple and pear export season just commencing. The people of southern Tasmania are proud of the industry which produces between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 cases of fruit for export to the United Kingdom and to the Continent of Europe. The export season extends over only about ten weeks. The market this year is very good. The crop is satisfactory, and shipping has been arranged and is available. The one vital factor which is causing anxiety is the shortage of labour on the waterfront. It threatens to cause serious congestion, and unless immediate and effective steps are taken to improve the waterfront organization the industry this year will be badly hit, and growers will lose thousands of pounds by being prevented from shipping their produce.
Last year was the first time that the apple export industry had experience of the present set-up under the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. That organization was established in 1946, but at that time the apple crop was subject to compulsory acquisition by the Australian Government. Only last year, the industry reverted to a trader-to-trader basis, and despite restricted exports the growers received returns in 1951 which were probably the best in the history of the industry. However, congestion at the ports was so serious that the Government of Tasmania set up a royal commission. The commission was entrusted to Mr. S. C. Burberry, Q.C., from whose report I propose to quote brief passages. At page 33 of the report, the following paragraph occurs : -
Later in his report, the commissioner stated -
Without any question at all the most important single cause of wharf congestion in the 1951 season was the insufficient wharf labour available for loading the ships.
In its report for June, 1951, the Aus tralian Stevedoring Industry Board admitted that conditions on the waterfront were chaotic. Mr. Basten, in his recent report on the subject, commented sorrowfully -
Not a single person has suggested that the turn-round of ships is otherwise than bad.
I am not concerned to-night to debate the general issue of the re-organization of the Australian waterfront, but I am concerned with the seasonal and local problem of the Hobart waterfront as it affects the export of the apple crop. The export season begins this week, and is of great importance to all sections engaged in that important primary industry in southern Tasmania. Under the Australian Stevedoring Industry Act, for which this Parliament was responsible, it is the duty of that board to provide at each port sufficient waterside workers for stevedoring operations. Section 27 (2) of the act authorizes the board to engage unregistered persons - that is persons who are not members of the Waterside Workers’ Federation - when a sufficiency of registered persons is not available. In Hobart, the quota is 670 men, but the registered strength to-day is only 632. That permanent deficiency is accentuated by casual absences caused by illness and other troubles to which man is subject. In June of last year, the board was notified that the work of the fruit season would require 100 additional employees. Although the union was, in recent weeks, given permission to hold a stop-work meeting to consider an increase of the number of registered personnel, the meeting, under the influence and leadership of Mr. Roach, refused to make any decision upon the matter until a collateral irrelevant complaint had been satisfied. The fruit season will start this year with the same insufficiency of labour as last year, which, I remind the Senate, caused such concern that the Tasmanian Government established a royal commission to consider the matter.
The responsibility is that of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. It is felt by all sections on the waterfront that the board is completely impotent to discharge its duty of providing sufficient registered labour, or, if that is not available, sufficient unregistered labour, to allow our producers to place on board ships the fruit that they have grown. In the last twelve months, the board has had nine different officers at this port. The result has been stagnation. The board has failed in its duty to provide sufficient labour. It has made no attempt to recruit unregistered labour. This state of affairs presents a challenge to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt). I ask the Minister who represents him in this chamber to request him to take effective steps to make available the labour that is required to ensure, first, that our exports shall reach London, and thus increase our diminishing overseas credits; and, secondly, that the orchardists who produce this fruit will not be prevented from marketing their crop by reason of the Commonwealth and its agents failing to discharge the duty imposed upon them by statute of providing sufficient loading labour. I have put a practical proposition to the Minister for consideration. I hope that, in the interests of this important industry, effective steps, for which the statute to which I have referred gives authority, will be taken to ensure that the export of fruit from Tasmania this season will not be limited, as it was last year.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Senate to a serious situation that has arisen in Tasmania. The Tasmanian Agricultural Bank, a State instrumentality which administers the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement and the war service land settlement scheme in Tasmania, is in serious financial difficulties. Unless it receives immediate assistance, it will be unable to carry on. The bank has been engaged in the building of houses, and has done a very good job in that field. It embarked upon a policy of establishing stocks of building materials to ensure continuity of work upon its building projects. It has acted in the same way in connexion with the War Service Land Settlement Scheme. Unfortunately, owing to the present credit policy, it is short of £500,000. Unless it receives a loan from the Commonwealth, it will be unable to carry on its activities. I understand that the Premier of Tasmania ha3 made an urgent appeal to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to help the bank out of its predicament. If assistance is not given to the bank, the progress of housing schemes which are dependent upon it and of the war service land settlement scheme will be delayed. That would be a great tragedy.
In Tasmania, as in other States, there is a serious shortage of houses. The bank has received applications for houses from large numbers of ex-servicemen and other persons. In the allocation of houses, it has treated both ex-servicemen and civilians fairly. Its policy of establishing stocks of building materials to ensure continuity of house-building operations is one of the main reasons for its present predicament. I feel that the credit policy of this Government must be sufficiently elastic to enable funds to be made available to close a gap such as that which exists in Tasmania. I appeal to the Government to use its best endeavours to assist Tasmania to meet the crisis that faces the Agricultural Bank, an important State instrumentality. Creditors of the bank are waiting to be paid. The present position is not the fault of the management of the bank. The first-class and conscientious officers of the bank have done their best to implement the policy that was formulated. I urge the Government to give Tasmania a fair deal by giving special consideration to the Agricultural Bank, which appears to be one of the first victims of the Government’s credit restriction policy. Surely there is some reserve fund that can be used to meet this crisis.
[5.54J. - I do not know whether Senator O’Byrne has spoken with the authority of the Tasmanian Government. I doubt very much whether he ha3 done so. He has made some extraordinary and extravagant statements. I am not familiar with the matter that he has raised and, having heard what he said, I feel that the honorable senator himself is not familiar with it. As I understand the position, the bank to which he has referred is a ‘State instrumentality in Tasmania. I recollect that the Tasmanian Government, for its own good reasons, withdrew from the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement and that, having done so, it relied in some measure upon this bank. I cannot understand the motive that impelled the honorable senator to give the impression that ;i State bank is in some kind of financial difficulty. Such a completely erroneous statement must do harm to the bank and to the Tasmanian Government. No bank, either private or governmental, is in any difficulty in Australia to-day.
The Tasmanian Government made its representations to the Loan Council, took part in the deliberations of the council, and accepted its verdict. Now, like other State governments, it must re-arrange its work programmes to conform to its allocation of loan moneys. I have said previously that, by and large, the allocations that have been made by the Loan Council are commensurate with the availability of men and materials in Australia. If it. was the intention of the honorable senator to try in some way to place responsibility for the mismanagement of this set of circumstances on the Commonwealth, instead of where it rightly belongs, I point out that that is a manifestly unsound approach to the problem.
It can be said fairly that this is a period of national re-adjustment. In those circumstances, it does not assist either the Government or the Opposition when statements are made which, although I do not pretend to have a detailed knowledge of the facts, I am sure are extravagant and not soundly based.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for postal purposes at Springvale, New South Wales.
Senate adjourned at 5.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 February 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1952/19520228_senate_20_216/>.