20th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Edward Mattner) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply say whether the Commonwealth will be able to assist in making available to victims of bush fires, particularly those in Victoria, fencing materials and building materials that they need to repair or replace fences and buildings damaged or destroyed by fire ? I know that the usual reply to a question of this kind is that the responsibility to make those materials available is that of the State governments concerned, but I am wondering whether the Commonwealth can do something to ensure that allocations of the materials shall be made to the States for the specific purpose to which I have referred.
– I shall answer the question, because the matter that has been raised by the honorable senator comes within the jurisdiction of my department, and I know a little about it. As the honorable senator has said, the allocation of fencing materials and building materials is primarily a matter for the States, because in some States the allocation of those materials is subject to control by the -State government. Officers of my department who have got into touch with the manufacturers of the materials have ascertained that the manufacturers have, so far as it has been practicable for them to do so having regard to limited supplies, anticipated the position, and have made available to the States augmented supplies of fencing posts, wire and other materials that are needed to repair damage caused by bush fires.
– Will the Minister representing the Prime Minister state whether the Prime Minister recently received a letter from the federal executive of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union which made the following representations : - That no further curtailment should take place in communication services ; that there should be no retrenchment of employees engaged in maintaining those services, and that those employees who had been retrenched should be reinstated without loss of salary or status; that immediate wage increases of £52 a year be granted by Public Service regulation, increments doubled and the Government’s policy of equal pay for the sexes implemented; that there should be no further restriction of funds for the provision of amenities ; and that there be no lengthening of weekly hours of duty. If the Prime Minister did receive that letter from the union, is he now in a position to give a decision on the matter?
– I am not aware whether the Prime Minister has received the communication to which the honorable senator referred, but if he did receive it I. am sure he will give’ it his usual prompt attention.
– Yesterday Senator Benn asked the Minister for Social Services a question which he apparently did not understand as he replied that he was not familiar with the details. I now ask the Minister to state whether the policy of the Commonwealth Bank with regard to the financing of ex-soldiers who enter land ballots has been changed and, if so, will the Minister give details of such change in financial policy?
– I should like the honorable senator to place that question on the notice-paper so that I may obtain a considered reply to it from the Treasurer. I have no knowledge of the matter at present, but, after Senator Benn had asked his question yesterday, he gave me some correspondence relating to it. I am having inquiries made into this matter but have not yet received an answer to them.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the Government has taken notice of the fact that Sir John Teasdale, the Chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, has reported that it has been estimated that 1,250,000 acres less wheat will be sown this year than was sown last year and that this area will be 4,800,000 acres less than were sown during the 1947-48 season, being the lowest acreage sown since 1920. Does the Minister consider that this phenomenal drop in production will have a serious effect on ‘ overseas contracts, home consumption -of .wheat and gifts of grain food to which the Government is committed under the Colombo plan ? Will the Minister request the Government to make a survey’ of the acreage sown in wheat and barley and bring before the Senate proposals to encourage farmers to increase their production without at the same time being penalized by the Government’s policy of taxation ?
– Although I have not seen the report of Sir John Teasdale to which the honorable senator has referred, I assure him and the Senate that my colleague, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, is familiar with everything that has been said and written about the wheat industry. The Minister is most efficient and active in this connexion. It is true that a serious decline of the production of wheat would have serious repercussions on this country. I am sure that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is fully informed of the details of areas sown to wheat, and of areas formerly under wheat which have not been replanted. He has given serious thought to the matter, and I am sure that, at the appropriate time, he will take action to ensure that our wheat production is kept at the maximum.
Senn tor WEIGHT.- On the 2Sth February, I asked the Minister representing the Treasurer a question concerning life insurance companies which invalidate policies if insured persons engage in aviation other than as passengers. I referred particularly to the position of national service trainees who arc undergoing air training. Is the Minister now able to inform me whether it is legal for a company to invalidate the policy of such a trainee?
– I have received a letter from the Treasurer, which reads as follows : - . . Most life insurance companies only apply the restrictive aviation clause to those national service trainees who took out a policy of insurance after 1st January, 1951, and indicated in their proposal forms that they intended to engage in other than normal passenger flying. Section 121 of the Life Insurance Act already provides that any condition reducing the sum payable on the death of an insured person during service with any naval, military, or air forces including aviation as part of that service, shall not apply unless the insured has agreed in writing to that condition.
– Will the Minister for Repatriation inform me what progress has been made during the last four or five months in the provision of suitable institutions for the treatment of ex-servicemen who are suffering from war neurosis, in order to obviate the present system under which they are treated in civil mental asylums?
– I have gone into the matter raised by the honorable senator exhaustively, hut I am unable to add to the information that I gave him when he raised this subject previously. During the current financial year the maximum amount of finance and material has been devoted to defence purposes. I assure the honorable senator that I have not lost sight of this matter, and that I am keeping in close touch with my department about it. As soon as funds and material are available the important, matter of the treatment of ex-servicemen who are suffering from war neurosis will be gone into fully.
– Will the Minister say whether the Government has explored the possibility of the early completion of at least one hospital in a suitable locality to accommodate ex-servicemen who are suffering from neurosis and are now accommodated in civilian mental hospitals? If the Government has not done so, will the Minister cause the necessary inquiries to he made immediately in order that the shocking treatment of ex-servicemen and the mental stress of their dependants shall cease as soon as possible?
– I understand that the honorable senator alludes to exservicemen who are not regarded as suffering from war-caused disabilities?
– I have in mind ex-servicemen who are suffering from neurosis and are accommodated in civilian mental hospitals. “ Senator COOPER.- Special buildings to house those unfortunate people have been erected in Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales. Unfortunately, no building of that kind has been erected in South Australia. I repeat that my department is inquiring into this matter, and that, as soon as the necessary funds and materials become available, we shall do what we can to rectify the position.
– I preface a question to the Minister for National Development by pointing out that the final agreement between the Western Australian Government and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company for the construction of an oil refinery at a cost of £40,000,000 was officially signed in Perth last Monday. A large quantity of steel piping will be required in order to provide water to the Kurnina area. Unless a greatly increased supply of steel for water pipes is made avaliable to Western Australia there will be continuous hold-ups in the provision qf a water pipe-line to the Great Southern and wheat belt areas of Western Australia. Will the Minister undertake to keep this matter in mind and, if possible, arrange for additional quantities of steel to be diverted to Western Australia?
– I should think that it is more than likely that a company which proposes to invest £40,000,000 in a project in Western Australia would have made arrangements for the supply of its steel requirements before it committed itself to the project. As no details of the proposal have yet been submitted to me I cannot give an assurance or make a statement in regard to it. However, I express the general view that the Government will ensure that what is done in connexion with the erection of the refinery shall not be detrimental to the rest of Western Australia.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, relates to the necessity for increasing the area of land utilized for the production of food in Australia, and has particular reference to. Tasmania. Will the Minister initiate’ a departmental survey of land suitable for intense cultivation, dairying, pig-raising, and market gardening in the area of the North Esk, Macquarie and South Esk rivers, and other areas in north-western Tasmania, much of which is now overrun with rabbits and is heavily covered with gorse and briar, which could be used for the settlement of applicants under the war service land settlement scheme and other land-hungry men who could help considerably to increase food production if they were given the opportunity to do so ?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. I assure him, however, that the State Departments of Agriculture have made most exhaustive surveys of the land that is available for development in Australia. The results of those surveys have been recorded. The subject of future land development in Australia was considered at a special meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council which was held recently. Subsequent to that meeting the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture stressed the importance of accelerated land development and asked the States to make special efforts Lo ascertain what areas could immediately be brought into cultivation. Although I am not sure, I feel confident that the areas mentioned by the honorable senator were considered by the Government of Tasmania. In order to put the matter beyond doubt I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
– My question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport relates to married German immigrants who are employed on the Trans-Australia Railway. I have been informed that these immigrants were advised by the representative of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner in Germany that they would be permitted to bring their wives to Australia in due course. They have recently been informed by, I suggest, some unauthorized person, that it is most unlikely that their wives will be permitted to join them here. That advice has naturally caused a great deal of resentment among them. Will the Minister take the necessary steps to ensure that they shall be informed of the policy of the Government in relation to the entry of their wives into Australia?
– During a recent visit to Kalgoorlie I had the opportunity to discuss this matter with the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner. I say quite definitely on his behalf that if any person has spread a report of that type he has done a very grave disservice to Australia and to the developmental work that is being carried out on the TransAustralia Railway by German immigrants. The Commissioner has made it perfectly clear that after these immigrants have completed their two years’ contracts, if their wives and children are able to pass the necessary security and medical tests in Germany, they will be permitted to come to Australia as soon as housing accommodation is available for them. Honorable, senators may be interested to know that on the East-West line, and portion of the North-South line, 40 homes are available now for workers who are prepared to accept railway employment. I hope that honorable senators and others will correct the wrong impression that is abroad about the admission to this country of wives and families of immigrants. Wives and families will be permitted to enter Australia provided they pass the necessary tests.
– Can tha Minister representing the Minister for Social Services say whether the Government is cognizant of recent press reports that the Canadian Government has abolished the means test on its social services? Is the Australian Government prepared to study the method that has been adopted in Canada with a view to introducing this desirable reform into this country?
– I say without hesitation that the Minister for Social Services is making a comprehensive study of all legislation and procedure throughout the world which has for its aim the abolition or the amelioration of the means test.
– Certain municipalities in Western Victoria have asked me to ascertain whether any improvement of the quality of coal that is available to them from New South Wales pits for gas making is possible. They claim that some of the coal that they are now receiving has an ash content of up to 50 per cent., and also contains considerable quantities of slate, stone and other extraneous substances. Can the Minister for National Development say whether there is any possibility of an improvement of the quality of this coal? Is it the responsibility of the Joint Coal Board to direct the movement of coal ad hoc or is that the responsibility of the owners of the pits?
– The honorable senator’s question raises matters that cannot be dealt with adequately within a short compass. First, I repudiate the suggestion that any coal supplied from New South Wales has a 50 per cent, ash content. It is true that open-cut coal has presented certain difficulties, but its ash content is certainly not 50 per cent. It may be said in general terms that hitherto the Joint Coal Board has been forced to increase production as quickly as possible. Now, however, it has reached a stage at which it has time and opportunity to be more selective, and to make available coal of better quality. At least two washing plants arein course of erection in New South Wales, and when they are working they will have considerable effect on the quality of the coal. Whether the quality of coal is the responsibility of the Joint Coal Board or of the collieries depends largely upon the place from which the coal is obtained. Most of the coal that goes to the western districts of Victoria is mined in the western coalfield of New South Wales, and it is steam coal, not gas coal. On the western coalfield, the coal is produced by contractors for the Joint Coal Board, and the hoard is responsible for quality. That .is the most recently developed open-cut field, and one of the washing plants is to he installed there.
– Last week it was reported in the press that the price of coal would be increased by 6s. a ton, the equivalent in some instances of an increase of 25 per cent. On Friday last, the Minister for National Development said that the Government had no financial responsibility under the proposal of the Joint Coal Board to guarantee the coal-owners’ profit, but was not opposed to it. Will the Minister say whether the
Government has considered the effect that this huge increase of the price of coal will have upon coal production in this country and upon the present inflationary trend? Is it proposed that a portion of the Gs. a ton increase of price shall be put back into the industry and expended upon improvements, especially the provision of stowage in mines in the northern district of New South Wales from which it is proposed to extract pillars? When the increase has been granted, will any consideration be given to an improvement of the conditions of employees in the industry?
– I think the honorable senator misstated the position when he said that the price of coal is to be increased by 6s. a ton. That is not correct.
– It was published in the press.
– The press report stated that the new price-fixing arrangement with the Joint Coal Board would make provision for coal-owners to receive a pro-fit of 6s. a ton. The chairman of the board said that that arrangement might cause the price of coal to increase by 4s. a ton in some instances, and by a much smaller sum in other instances. I hold the view that an increase of the production of coal would do more than would any other single factor to increase general activity throughout the community. It would result in more goods being available and, therefore, would assist the fight against inflation. I do not believe that an industry can be satisfactory unless it is prosperous. The Joint Coal Board has estimated that a sum of £50,000,000 is required to finance the tremendous development of underground mining that this country needs. We cannot expect to attract that capital unless the coalmining industry is a profitable and prosperous one. We cannot hope for good industrial relations in an industry that is not prosperous. When the proprietors of an industry are not making reasonable profits, there is a deterioration of managementemployee relations. The provision of stowage is a matter separate from and independent of ordinary coal-mining activities. Separate and distinct negotiations are proceeding in respect of the coal mines of the Greta seam for which stowage is an urgent necessity.
– On the 27th February Senator Henty drew my attention to the delays that are occurring in examination work in the Patent Office. In addition to the information already conveyed to the honorable senator, I am now advised that other factors contributing to the delays are - (a) the arrears of business in the Patent Office which had accumulated during the period of hostilities; (b) the increase in the number of applications lodged since the war; and (c) the difficulty encountered in the printing of complete specifications.
From the 1st January, 1946, to the 1st January, 1952, 31,989 applications for patents were received, and over this period 30,55S applications were examined. On the 1st January, 1952, 8,856 applications were, however, still awaiting examination. Through the recruitment of several suitably qualified officers and the continuous working of overtime, the arrears have been reduced in the last two years by 2,200. The reduction effected in this period would have been greater but for the difficulty which has been experienced in the printing of complete specifications. In recent months many firms, which had previously refused to print specifications, have undertaken to do so and altogether no fewer than 33 firms are now engaged in this work. The period of the delay will continue to be reduced, but owing to the fact that the Patent Office is still understaffed and is unable to obtain officers possessed of the necessary scientific qualifications, it will be some time before normality is reached. The effects of delay have been considerably lessened by the amendment of section 54 and the inclusion of section 38a by the amending Patents Act of 1946. These sections provide, in effect, that although an applicant for a patent cannot institute any proceedings for an infringement unless and until a patent for the invention has been granted, he has the same rights and privileges as if the patent for his invention had been scaled on the date of publication of the complete specification. Publication ot the complete specification now takes place after lodgment, and not, as prior to 1946, after acceptance.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects : -
Copies of the reports are not yet available for circulation to honorable senators.
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Senator SPICER - by leave - agreed to -
That Senators Gorton, Maher, McCallum and Wordsworth be members of the Joint Committee appointed to consider such matters concerning foreign affairs as are referred to it by the Minister for External Affairs.
That the foregoing resolution be communicated to the House of Representatives by Message.
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 hill is to secure the parliamentary approval of the security treaty which was signed by Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America at San Francisco on the 1st September last year. The text of the treaty forms the schedule to the bill.
On the 13th July of last year, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) tabled in this Parliament the draft text, and no further changes were made in it before it was signed. At that time he informed the Parliament fully of the nature and purposes of the treaty, and there is little that I need add at this stage. The conclusion of this treaty has been a major objective of Australian foreign policy, and the government believes that, while it does not provide the complete and final answer to the maintenance of peace and security in the Pacific, it will mark a great advance in that direction.
The treaty is not intended to replace or supplant the general system of world security which the United Nations was designed to establish, nor will it supersede defence arrangements that have been made within the British Commonwealth. Indeed, it specifically recognizes that the three parties, while having special responsibilities in the Pacific area, also have wider interests extending outside that area.
The mutual obligations accepted by the three parties are broadly threefold. First of all, the parties agree to maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack. This does not impose any specific level of armaments, but is a general undertaking to maintain the strength of available defence forces. Secondly, the parties agree to consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened in the Pacific. Thirdly, each party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific area on any of the parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety, and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes. As in the case of the North Atlantic treaty, the precise action to he taken by each party is not specified. There is no obligation on Australia to make any immediate formal declaration of war. The United States of America, for its part, could not constitutionally accept such a binding obligation. But the broad intention is that an attack on one should be regarded as an attack on all.
An important provision of the treaty is that which contemplates the establishment of a council composed of the three Foreign Ministers or their deputies. This will form the nucleus of such machinery as may be set up to give effect to the treaty, and its regular meetings will provide a means for the closest consultation and planning on the basis of self-help and mutual aid.
In anticipation that the treaty will shortly be ratified by all three parties, preliminary informal discussions have already taken place on the organization of the council and the scope of its work. While the Minister for External Affairs was in the United States of America recently he had talks with Mr.. Myron Cowen, whom many honorable senators will recall as a former United States Ambassador in Canberra and who has been nominated by the United States Secretary of State to supervise arrangements for bringing, not only our own treaty, but also the bilateral treaty between the United States of America and the Philippines, into effective operation.
Within the past few weeks the United States Senate has begun committee hearings on the treaty, and it is not unlikely that the Senate will conclude its consideration of the treaty some time this month. The Australian Government would like to feel that it could proceed to ratify the treaty at about the same time, with the knowledge that it enjoyed the full support of the Australian Parliament and people. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKENNA) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 4th March (vide page 663), on motion by Senator o’sullivan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Order of the day No. 1 concerns the Ministers of State Bill 1952. This, as the Senate will realize, is the first of a series of four measures which have been designed to implement the recommendation of the committee of inquiry that was appointed by the Government to examine the matter of parliamentary salaries and allowances. I take it that it would bc convenient to the Senate if I were to address my remarks to the whole of the four bills as the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) did in the course of his second-reading speech, although, of course, each of the bills must be dealt with separately. The first bill deals with the position of the Prime Minister and the holders of ministerial offices. The second deals primarily with the allowances of the Leaders of the Opposition and ordinary members, both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. The third proposes two changes, one of which provides, in certain circumstances only, a pension for a retired Prime Minister and for his widow. It also provides for a slight increase in pensions when a parliamentary pensioner has reached the age of 65 years. The fourth bill provides for the amendment of taxation legislation in relation to a portion, only, of ministerial and members’ allowances payable under the other measures.
The Opposition supports these measures. The matters covered in the bills were referred to a committee of three very prominent citizens of Australia, His Honour the ex-Chief Judge in Equity in New South Wales, Mr. Justice Nicholas, Mr. Richardson and Mr. Buckley: The latter two gentlemen are very well known and prominent business men. Apart altogether from whether one views with satisfaction or otherwise the findings and recommendations of this body, one must pay tribute to the public spiritedness which induced these three gentlemen to act for a period of about three months in this rather complex and highly controversial matter entirely without remuneration of any kind. The Opposition very cordially associates itself with the tribute which the Minister for Trade and Customs paid to the three gentlemen who constituted the committee. I had the pleasure of meeting the committee and of giving evidence before it. I say at once that the improvement that will be effected by the bill now before the Senate, in providing a far more adequate remuneration for the Prime Minister and other Ministers is a reform that is long overdue. I have held that view for many years. I urged that reform without success when Labour was in office, not on one occasion but on many occasions, and I have no hesitation in telling honorable senators that the amount that the committee has recommended for the Prime Minister and his Ministers is less than the figure that I submitted to the committee should be paid to them. So that from my own personal viewpoint I warmly welcome that improvement. I think it is fair, and, moreover to the national advantage, to provide adequate remuneration for the men who are doing such responsible jobs. During the regime of the former Labour G overnment I had the very great privilege of being a Minister of the Crown in this Parliament for nearly four years, and accordingly I am quite familiar with the work of a Prime Minister of this country, with the activities of Ministers generally, and with the duties of leaders of State governments. I point at once to the tremendous responsibility that falls on the shoulders of the Prime Minister of this country, and on the shoulders of a Premier of a State. In the federal sphere, the Prime Minister has responsibility primarily and ultimately for the expenditure of about £1,000,000,000 per annum. He thus must take a very active interest in what goes on in twenty portfolios, involving a vast range of activity. He is concerned with every major phase of the economy and defences of the country. I say without hesitation that his job is the most important and most responsible job in the country.
From my own very close observation of the work of a Prime Minister in particular and of the leaders of State governments, I contend that one of the outstanding features of their work is the great tension under which it is performed. There is the constant pressure of events, and the mere impact of one problem after another leaves the occupants of those offices breathless for most of their time, and this apart from the necessity to address themselves to a solution of the problems. I have only to remind the Senate of what has happened to previous Prime Ministers. Irreparable damage was done to the health of Mr. Scullin during his term as Prime Minister. I refer also to the death of Mr. Lyons, to the death of Mr. Curtin, and to the death of Mr. Chifley. “We remember, also, the death of Mr. Ogilvie, the Premier of Tasmania, and the death recently in Queensland of Mr. Hanlon. There has been the untimely demise of men like Mr. Savage and Mr. Fraser, of New Zealand. I do not need to add any more to the argument that I have addressed to the Senate to show that the occupancy of an office such as the Prime Ministership or Premiership involves exceedingly high tension upon the individual who takes that office. It is my own belief that on the day that a man assumes the Prime Ministership of Australia he writes off anything from five to ten years of his life. That has been proved by the events that have taken place, and it is supported by my own personal observation of the unremitting strain and pressure to which whoever holds the Prime Ministership of this country is subjected. My view of the matter is not a newly formed one. Accordingly, my party supports this particular provision.
I pass from that phase of the committee’s recommendations to a consideration of the position of Ministers, who have vast responsibilities. They work under less tension, but nevertheless a very high degree of tension. Each Minister must concern himself not merely with the affairs of his own department ; he must study every problem that arises in every other department. He must pass his vote upon it in the Cabinet, and, accordingly, accept full responsibility for whatever decision is made. He serves constantly on sub-committees of the Cabinet, and 1 think every Minister in the Senate will agree with me that a rather unpleasant feature of his life is that he is the subject of constant criticism. That is an aspect of ministerial office which is inescapable and decidedly wearing. No other position in Australia involves tasks quite comparable to those that are imposed on a federal Minister, irrespective of the party in office. He must devote the whole of his time, all of his days and most of his nights, to giving proper and adequate attention to his duties. The committee has pointed to the completely absurd position that a federal Minister of the Crown to-day receives £300 per annum less than was received by a federal Minister at federation in 1901. The second absurd position is that Ministers of the Crown, who are charged with vast responsibility, receive much less than the departmental heads who help them to carry out the administration of various departments. So, again, although the committee did not reach the high standard that I recommended for Ministers of the Crown, one must acknowledge that something very substantial has been done, although no more than justice.
Provision of a quite proper nature, in my view, has been made for the position of Leaders of the Opposition. However, I draw attention to the rather anomalous position that the committee has recommended a substantial payment to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, but has made no provision for the equivalent position in the Senate. I suggest that every honorable senator should be really concerned about that situation. I personally can see not the slightest justification for establishing that principle in relation to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, but denying it in the case of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. I can sympathize with the Government’s view that it has made a submission to arbitration and that it feels bound to accept to the very letter the finding of the arbitral body, as expressed in this legislation. I put it most earnestly to the Minister for Trade, and Customs and his colleagues that they should address their minds to rectifying what I think is a completely clear anomaly. As every member of the Senate knows, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber carries a grave responsibility. He functions when the Leader of the Opposition is absent unavoidably on a private matter. As most honorable senators know, such a matter took me away on two occasions just prior to Christmas. He must function when the Leader of the Opposition is ill or is engaged temporarily outside the chamber while the Senate is sitting.
Under the committee’s recommendations the Opposition Whip is to be paid a very proper, though not generous, allowance of £275 per annum. He is subject from time to time to the directions of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and yet no provision has been made in the recommendations or in this legislation for the
Deputy Leader of the Opposition. This is only one aspect of the report of which one might be critical. This appears to be an outstanding anomaly, which should receive the fullest consideration. I do not suggest that consideration should take place now, but it should receive mature consideration by the Government. I feel confident that in submitting these representations I shall be supported by most honorable senators.
I come now to the general position of members of the Parliament. Again I should like to refer to the committee’s report. The committee acknowledged that it received the utmost help from members in assisting it to reach its conclusions. At page 6 of the report the committee said -
We found that the evidence of Members of Parliament as to their expenditure and their needs was comprehensive and reasonable. In almost every instance the member was willing to support his statement by vouchers, cheque butts or bank statements.
It is clear that the committee was completely satisfied with the evidence that had been given by members of the Parliament. Upon the basis of that evidence the committee formed certain conclusions which are expressed at page 11 of the report which were referred to in part by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan). Those conclusions were as follows: -
We found that in a number of instances the amount available to a member or senator after taking account of the expenses necessarily or actually incurred in the performance of his duties was less than half his nominal salary and in some instances was less than the basic wage. This conclusion was reached after a line had been drawn between those expenses attributable to a household or business and those attributable exclusively to the duties of a Member of Parliament. . . . We found that a member who had capital of his own was frequently compelled to trench on his funds unless he had a substantial income from some extra-parliamentary source. A member who had neither private income nor capital would be hard put to it to maintain even a most frugal standard of living.
Those are the conclusions of an independent tribunal. I believe that they are generally acceptable to the people of Australia, who, I take it, do not want any of their representatives in this Parliament to work for a salary which, after the deduction of necessary and proper expenses, nets to them a return that is less than the basic wage. The committee established beyond doubt the justice of a fairly generous approach to the readjustment of the emoluments of members of the Parliament.
Apart from the position of the Prime Minister and his Ministers, there is no job in the community that is comparable with that of a member of the Parliament. The responsibility of forming and giving expressions of opinion upon all matters that come within the national sphere rests upon each member of the Parliament. He must form and express opinions in the privacy of the party room, and he must publicly join in expressing his party’s viewpoint in the Parliament. He must be conversant with the wide range of matters that come within the purview of the Prime Minister and other Ministers. This involves continuous reading, study and thought. If one wants to examine the vast scope of the matters that come under the purview of a federal member, one has only to look at the Federal Guide, a voluminous handbook which sets out the organization and functions of the different Commonwealth departments.
There are some phases of parliamentary life to which the general public never adverts. The possession of anonymity is not appreciated until one has lost it. It is very difficult for any member of the Parliament, particularly since the institution of the system of broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings, to go through the country without being known wherever he moves. The element of privacy is a very pleasant factor in one’s life, but we have all found that in practice the mere saying of a few words on a tram or in a train gives us away immediately, for the members of the public have come to know the voices of members of the Parliament. Another element to which I might refer is the unavoidable destruction of one’s domesticity that is consequent upon the performance by a member of the Parliament of his duties in and about the Parliament. I do not think that any honorable senator will disagree with me when I say that members of the Parlia ment live a life of constant conflict, if not in the Parliament, then outside it.
There is one aspect of this matter to which I wish to make particular reference. I refer to what are called the tax-free allowances. The Opposition is critical of the form in which tax-free allowances have been expressed in th<3 report. We think that it has been unfortunately phrased and has given rise to a good deal of misunderstanding and misconception. That is one aspect of the report to which a good deal of unfavorable criticism has been addressed. The practice which has now been embodied in legislative form in relation to tax-free allowances has in fact been in operation since 1927 as the result of an impartial decision by the Commissioner of Taxation. The committee had the advantage of full discussion with the commissioner and his officers in respect of this matter. The annexure to the report contains a statement by the Commissioner which sets out the practice that has been followed in the past. It reads as follows : -
It has been found, however, that in most cases it is impossible for members to maintain records in sufficient detail to support claims for deduction. In these circumstances, it is the practice of the Commissioner of Taxation to determine the amount of the deduction to be allowed in respect of each electorate, having regard to factors such as the size of the electorate, the travel facilities available in it, the location of its principal towns and industries and the number of electors. These factors will determine the travelling, entertainment, &c., which it will be necessary for the member to incur in order to perform his parliamentary duties.
Pursuant to that practice there is allowed to members of the House of Representatives, without vouching, a sum which ranges from £275 to approximately £700 according to the electorate concerned. The fixed non-vouched allowance for senators is £375. Every member of the Senate will acknowledge as the Commissioner of Taxation has done, the complete impossibility of vouching the whole of one’s expenditure incurred in the course of performing parliamentary duties. One completely unfair aspect of the criticism of this matter is that only one half of the story is told. The half that is told is that there is to be a tax-free allowance; the half that is not told is that a member may already claim many deductions in the course of earning his income. Every other taxpayer is in a position to claim deductions for expenses which he can vouch for or reasonably support in his return to the Commissioner of Taxation, but if, under the taxfree allowance available to a member of the Parliament, the member spends more than the amount of tax-free allowance in the discharge of his duties, he may not claim that excess expenditure as a deduction. On the one hand the member appears to be put in a more favorable position than that of members of the general public, but on the other he is put in a very much less favoured position. The committee unquestionably based its conclusion upon the existing practice of the commissioner, having regard to the increased costs which apply to-day. The tax free allowances recommended by the committee are not very much greater than those that the Commissioner for Taxation has allowed for a long time. On the committe’s finding, it is completely certain that many members of this Parliament will necessarily expend, quite properly, far more than their so-called tax free allowances. In so doing, they will be at considerable loss, and therefore at a considerable disadvantage.
The committee addressed itself to the task of classifying the work that ought to be done by each member and senator. It did not seek to classify individuals. It is quite rightly left to the judgment of the elected members of the Parliament who do not do their job, but I venture the opinion that in many instances the so-called tax-free allowances which, as the Prime Minister has put it, will be merely a reimbursement of expenses necessarily incurred, will not be inadequate for the purpose for which they are designed. I should like to tell the Senate what my recommendation to the committee was. I suggested that members and senators should be paid a lump sum, the whole of which should be subject to tax, and out of which the recipient would be required to pay all his normal parliamentary expenses except hotel and travelling expenses incurred in the exercise of parliamentary duties. Such expenses can be vouched, and members and senators could be reimbursed upon the production of receipts. I also suggested to the committee that a limit should be imposed in respect of each electorate to ensure that there would be no real abuse of the system. I believe - and I am sure that my party supports my view - that that system would have been preferable to the one recommended by the committee which has led to so much criticism and misunderstanding.
Not only is the principle of tax-free allowances not new in this country, but also that system has already been adopted in Canada, the United States of America, South Africa, and other countries. The committee made a comprehensive examination of prevailing practices in other parts of the world. I do not claim that I am right and that the committee is wrong. The fact is, that,, weighing information obtained from overseas and from those who gave evidence, the committee reached a conclusion. The Prime Minister has said that, whether we like it or not, the Government will accept the arbitrator’s decision and that is more or less the view of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party. On behalf of the Opposition, I repeat that we are indebted to the committee for its services. We on this side of the chamber do not oppose the bills; we support them.
– The thoughtful report of the committee to which we entrusted this task stimulated me to examine some of the discussions which, prior to this debate, have taken place on the subject of parliamentary allowances. I was happy to learn from a speech by Mr. Quintin Hogg, in the House of Commons, that my impression that parliamentary allowances were of regent origin, was quite erroneous. In May, 1946 - I quote from page 1254 of the House of Commons Hansard - that learned gentleman said -
Moreover originally we used to pay Members of Parliament. That waa the tradition from the time when Edward I. instituted Parliament until late in the 17th century. I think the last Member of Parliament to be paid under the old regime was the poet Marvel! who represented King’s Lynn about 1G85. The practice of being paid fell into desuetude as a part of the general development of corruption in our public life, whereby seats in Parliament came to be bought, sold and paid for by those who had the moans to do it. That is the historical fact. The next stage was for the Parliament of 1730 to insist upon the possession of £000 derived from land as the condition for any Member of Parliament holding his seat, which led to many disreputable evasions and which, none the loss, remained a peculiar law of our country until 1858. That being the history of the matter, I feel convinced that we have been right to return to the remuneration of Members of Parliament in lilli, and I can only feel that the time has come to examine anew, in the light of the changed circumstances, whether the figure of remuneration is right or wrong.
Therefore I approach my consideration of these bills with the enlightenment that that special authority has thrown on the history of this matter. Necessarily I speak on the subject of parliamentary allowances as one who has a personal interest in such allowances. All other members of the Parliament are in a similar position and obviously the discussion of a subject in which one has a personal interest, is a matter of great delicacy. It is most difficult for any one to dissociate himself from his selfinterest. I believe therefore that every member of the Parliament has a duty to reach his own ‘individual judgment upon the issues involved in this legislation. I believe, too, that public life is seasoned by the public expressions of opinions so formed. This is in no sense a party question. In the fullest sense, it is a fundamental parliamentary question; a question of parliamentary organization and emolument in relation to the public that the Parliament serves. Having regard to the. peculiar circumstances in which members of the Parliament have to consider these hills, I wish to say that in my opinion it was completely proper that the Government should appoint a committee of complete independence and integrity, to guide the Parliament. The chairman of that committee was a distinguished man of the highest integrity. He has occupied high judicial office for many years, and in the committee’s report there is ample evidence of practical judicial work. The decision of the Government as expressed in the bill is the decision of that committee. In obscuring this feature, most sections of the press have not expressed their criticism in a manner that is in keeping with the status of the committee or with the authority of this Parliament. The Hobart Mercury stooped to say that the proposal reflects on the type of man now recruited to public life, and that members of the Parliament can co-operate only on proposals for their own benefit. It would be more creditable to say that the proposal was submitted by members of the Parliament to the independent scrutiny of a judge entirely undirected and uninfluenced as to the recommendations that he should make.
However, the mere fact that the committee has made ia recommendation does not relieve us of the duty to determine for ourselves the proper action to take in this matter. Some of us are accustomed to dealing with judicial decisions from clay to day, and although not every decision is approved, all are respected. When Parliament receives a recommendation from a judge regarding the amount that should be paid to its members it should be credited with receiving the verdict of the judge in the same spirit as it is customary for litigants to accept the verdict of a court.
I have nothing to add to what has been said regarding the recommendations in respect of the allowances for the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate. I have considered whether the allowances to those high personages would be better provided by expense accounts, but such accounts, as experience has shown, are capable of giving dissatisfaction from the point of view of public interest, and, therefore, I am content to accept the recommendation of the committee.
I recognize that the benefits of this legislation will apply, not only to present members of the Parliament, hut also to our successors, however soon or distant may be the time of their election. The provision that all members shall face the electors in due course safeguards the position. I have weighed very carefully the propriety of these allowances, as they affect other persons in whom I have less confidence than in the supporters of the present Government. I once thought that, in fixing salaries, one Parliament would he well advised to provide that the measure should come into operation only after the next election, but for three reasons I believe that that would not be an appropriate thing to do in this instance. In the first place, half of the Senate will not go to the people in the next election, and as that half includes myself the electors would not have an opportunity to judge me. Secondly, I have noted the weighty .opinion against the proposal in the speech of Mr. Quintin Hogg. Thirdly, the decision which we are considering is not the decision of the Government or of the Parliament alone; it comes primarily from a committee presided over by Mr. Justice Nicholas. Therefore, I believe that this Parliament is justified in accepting the committee’s recommendations, regarding emoluments, generous though they seem to me to be.
But in so far as we are asked to accept the new principle of exemption from income tax I find myself definitely opposed to that proposition. With the indulgence of the Senate, I propose to state briefly my reasons. In the first place, in the modern social service state, income tax is the greatest and most crushing obligation which the State imposes on all sections of the people, and it is not justifiable for members of the Parliament to seek exemption in respect of part of their gross income. Their income should be subject to the same tax as is paid by other sections of the community. Secondly, the actual provision in the legislation discriminates unwisely, I believe, between members of the Parliament themselves, a discrimination which is against the public interest. Under this provision, a senator who expended only £50 of his official expense allowance would receive an untaxed income of £500, but a senator who expended £1,050 for his parliamentary purposes would have to find £500 of that amount out of his taxed income, and would not be able, to claim any tax deduction in respect of it. Surely it is wrong to give one member, who expends next to nothing, a tax-free grant while denying to a member who expends more than the allowance the right to deduct the excess for income tax purposes. Moreover, an unexpended tax-free allowance to one member may represent 15s. in the £1, whilst in the case of another mem- ber it may represent only 4s. or 5s. in the. £1, because of the difference in their total incomes. Thirdly, since I made my decision, I have been fortified in it by finding that in 1946 the Chancellor of the Exchequer of Great Britain, speaking for the government of the. day, said -
I will not emphasize the one point of substance on which the Government do. not recommend the House to accept the proposals ot the Select Committee. The Select Committee proposed that, both in the case of the Private Member and in the case of the Ministers affected by these arrangements they should receive £500 freed automatically from income tax. Wo do not think that we would have reached that view not only on the merits as we see them, but also in the light of what we rather to be the general opinion of honorable members in a number of different parts of the House.
He went on to say, that under the proposals which were to be submitted to the Parliament, members would be subject to income tax as were other sections of the community, and would be allowed the actual expenses for which they could vouch to the satisfaction of the income tax authorities. My fourth reason for objecting to the proposal is that in the report of the royal commission appointed by the New Zealand Government in June, 1951, the commissioners said -
We have first assessed a salary of every office. In many countries large parts of parliamentary salaries are free from tax. We do not recommend the adoption of this principle because those who levy taxes should themselves pay taxes on fair salaries at statutory rates, with statutory deductions such as those for dependants and life insurance.
In all humility, I have reached my conclusion that the increased amount should be accepted on the basis of a judge’s recommendation, and have avoided, as much as I have been able to do so, the temptation of financial interest or electoral advantage. If my opposition to the provisions that relate to income tax exemptions were effective, I should have repudiated benefit if my expenditure were less than £550 a year, but I should be able to claim an increase of benefit if it were in excess of that sum. No one is entitled to reproach me that my view of the matter has been moulded by a desire for money or votes. It is a view as to the alternative to which I am blind. Therefore, I am bound to state it in this House, even if I do so alone.
– We have listened to two opinions upon these measures, hoth of which were expressed by eminent counsel. I think it is time for us to look at the matter from a common-sense viewpoint. There has been a great deal of confused thinking about it during the last few weeks. That is due partly to the attitude that has been adopted by almost all of the Australian newspapers, and partly to statements that have been made in radio broadcasts. A few weeks ago, I listened to a broadcast upon this problem by Dr. Goddard, in the course of which he dragged in the Statute of Westminster. Members of the community have listened to or read statements that have been either garbled or untrue. Therefore, I welcome this opportunity to say a few words upon the matter. Approximately eighteen months ago, a number of members of the Parliament decided that it would be a good idea if an outside tribunal were appointed to consider parliamentary salaries and allowances, rather than for members to adhere to the constitutional method of fixing their own salaries. I went so far as to tell a convention of my party la3t year that it need not worry about parliamentary salaries, because they would be dealt with by an outside tribunal. We won our point, against, I may say, a little opposition. The tribunal conducted its proceedings openly, and invited members of the public to give evidence before it. It considered all aspects of the matter. Now, it has presented its report. I am content to accept that report in its entirety. If the tribunal had decided to recommend a reduction of my salary by £500 a year, I should still have agreed to abide by its decision, even though, in that event, I should not have stood at the next general election.
The press of this country has led the people to believe that members of the Parliament are to get something that nobody else in the community has now or has ever had. I point out that members of the Canadian Parliament receive a tax-free allowance of £855 a year, that members of the South African Parliament receive a tax-free allowance of £700 a year, and that members of the British Parliament receive a tax-free allowance of £100 a year. Various members of the diplomatic corps receive tax-free allowances. Business men, newspaper reporters and newspaper editors incur expenses which are treated by the Commissioner for Taxation as allowable deductions. During the last war, I met some topline reporters who received expenses allowances of £40 or £50 a week. Those expenses were treated as allowable deductions from the incomes, not only of the reporters, but also of their employers. That is common practice throughout the world. Therefore, I fail to understand why some people should suddenly rise in arms and accuse the unfortunate members of this Parliament of seeking improperly to obtain an allowance that is now granted to practically every other member of the community. Some members of the Government parties have told me that they intend to keep records of the sums that they spend during the next few years. I think that that is a very good idea. I shall try to keep such records myself, although I realize that it will he very difficult to keep track of all the odd sums of £1 and £5 that I pay out here and there. Since I have been a member of the Parliament, I have expended a considerable sum from my savings. That money rightly belonged to my family.
The following passage appears in the report of the committee: -
We found that, in a number of instances, the amount available to a Member or Senator, after taking account of the expenses necessarily or actually incurred in the performance of his duty, was less than half his nominal salary, and in some instances, was less than the basic wage. This conclusion was reached after a line had been drawn between those expenses attributable to a household or business and those attributable exclusively to the duties of a Member of Parliament.
Those words were not written lightly. They were written after a considerable amount of research had been undertaken, and much evidence had been received, not from members of the Parliament, but from private persons and the Commissioner of Taxation, who knows more about what we do than we do ourselves. The alternative to this so-called tax-free allowance would be the undertaking of a terrific amount of administrative work in an attempt to keep track of all the little out-of-pocket expenses that are incurred by members of the Parliament. If each member claimed a different allowance, a great deal of administrative work would be cast upon the Taxation Department, which is already working overtime.
The newspapers are suggesting, in effect, that some members of the Parliament may not expend the sums that they will receive as tax-free allowances. That is in keeping with the general plan of the newspapers to do their best to make it appear that members of the Parliament are dishonest people who are concerned only with their own interests. During the time that I have been in this Parliament, I have been mystified at the extraordinary opinion of members of the Parliament that is held by the general public. The Australian Labour party chooses its candidates at a plebiscite. The branches of the Government parties choose their candidate, perhaps from ten or twenty people. The members of those branches, having chosen the man they want as their candidate, then work like beavers to get him into the Parliament. Having succeeded in securing his election, a week later they refer to him as “ another ruddy politician “. That attitude is completely beyond my comprehension. As soon as the Australian public realizes that the vast majority of the members of this Parliament, and in fact of all parliaments, are good, honest men who are trying, often in very difficult circumstances, to do their best for their country, the better it will be for this country.
, - in reply - I appreciate very much the way in which this measure has been received. The point raised by Senator Wright has caused a great deal of concern to most honorable senators. It is unfortunate that the committee used the term “tax-free allowance”, because, having regard to the context in which it is used, it is really a misnomer. If Senator Wright was paid a fee, as counsel, to conduct a case that necessitated his travelling from one part of Tasmania to another, he would treat the sum that he claimed in respect of his railway fare as a reimbursement of a cash outlay and not as a part of his taxable income. It is intended that members of the Parliament shall be reimbursed moneys properly and duly expended by them in the course of their parliamentary duties. Let me remind honorable senators of what I said in my second-reading speech. I used the following words : -
It is perhaps most unfortunate that reference was made to the fact that these allowances would be tax-free. In point of fact, the allowances that are payable, under the authority of the Parliamentary Allowances Act are designed to recoup a senator’s or a representative’s out-of-pocket expenses. In other words, they are payments to the member in the form of trust moneys to be expended by him on electorate responsibilities. Therefore, it could not be argued that they formed part of his assessable income.
The allowances are reimbursements of money actually expended or to be expended.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) pointed out that no special provision is contemplated for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, notwithstanding the very responsible duties that from time to time fall upon his shoulders. I agree entirely with what the honorable senator said, because at one time I held that position. However, it has been established quite clearly that the omission of special provision ‘ for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was not an oversight on the part of the committee. The attention of the committee was drawn to the fact that no special provision had been made for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, although it had been made for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives. It was thought at one time that that may have been an oversight, but the committee has made it clear that it was not. Whether the committee was right in that respect or not, it is generally agreed that the committee’s report shall be accepted. It would be difficult to accept those recommendations that we thought were right and pleasant, and to discard those that were not palatable.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 4th March (vide page 663), on motion by Senator O’Sullivan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Sub-clause (3.) of clause 5 of this bill raises a very important principle.It provides for the variation of expenses allowances payable to members of the House of Representatives which have been fixed according to their electorates, and which range from £400 to £900. The provision contained in this sub-clause is unique in as much as it expressly confers upon the Executive the power to alter the allowances or emoluments of any member of the House of Representatives by regulation. The sub-clause reads as follows : -
The Governor-General may, after report to the Prime Minister by the Commissioner of Taxation, make regulations providing that the allowance payable under the last preceding sub-section to the member of the House of Representatives for an electoral division be at a yearly rate specified in the Second Schedule to this Act other than the yearly rate which would otherwise be applicable to that member.
The information on which the Commissioner for Taxation shall furnish his report is not stated, nor does the sub-clause define what access the Parliament is to have to that report or what use anybody but the Prime Minister may make of it. Thissub-clause give the GovernorGeneral power to demote by regulation, for example, the honorable member for the Northern Territory, who, it is proposed in the bill, shall receive an allowance of £900 and promote one of the metropolitan members of the House of Representatives from an allowance of £400 to an allowance of £900. I believe that I merely have to state that proposition in order to enable the Senate to appreciate the objection which must exist to it. It is not proper that any Executive should have power to alter by regulation the allowance or emolument of any member of Parlia ment. This sub-clause provides that the Governor-General may discriminate between various members. For these reasons, charged as they are with dangerous tendencies in the hands of future governments, I move -
That sub-clause (3.) of clause 5 be left out.
– The purpose of sub-clause (3.) of clause 5 is to give some degree of flexibility to the allowances because, from time to time, vast changes will occur in electorates throughout the Commonwealth. Because of those changes the allowances payable in respect of some electorates may become too high while in others it may not be sufficiently generous. This sub-clause is designed to give flexibility in cases where a member is able to prove to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Taxation that his allowance is inadequate to meet expenses that he incurs in his electorate. A variation in the allowances can be made by the Governor-General only on the advice of the Executive Council after receipt by the Prime Minister of a report from the Commissioner of Taxation. The Commissioner will have no power to make recommendations in respect to the allowances allocated to groups of electorates. This power will be reserved entirely to Parliament. There is no foundation for the suggestion that a member could be transferred from one category to another arbitrarily at the caprice of the party in power for the time being. The recommendation to alter the allowance will originate with the Commissioner of Taxation. It is upon his report that the Executive Council will act, not on the caprice of any particular member or of the Executive Council itself. Whatever action may be taken will be taken on the recommendation and report of the Commissioner for Taxation.
SenatorMcCallum. - Would the Senate have the final power to disallow an alteration in the amount of an allowance?
– Yes. The usual procedure would be adopted. The regulation would be laid on the table of the Senate and could be objected to within fifteen sitting days.
– I submit that the proposal contained in the clause under review is quite clear. The committee which considered these matters recommended the allowances on the basis of the size of the electorate and the transport facilities available. A census of the population is taken in Australia every ten years and, very often, a re-alinement of electoral boundaries follows that census. It is possible that one of the existing electorates may be enlarged and that it may then be found to have inadequate transport facilities. Consequently, it would be necessary to make a greater allowance payable in respect of that electorate. Also, if the area of an electorate should become smaller it may be necessary to reduce the allowance payable in respect of it.
– A new regulation would be required if the name of an electorate were changed.
– That may be so.I submit that the main object of this clause is to make provision for any re-alinement of the boundaries of an electorate.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 4th March (vide (vide page 663), on motion by Senator O’Sullivan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 4th March (vide page 663), on motion by Senator O’ Sullivan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee: The bill.
– Clause 3 provides -
Section twenty-three of the Principal Act is amended by inserting after paragraph (a.) the following paragraph: - “ (aa) an allowance paid under section six or seven of the Ministers of State Act 1952 or under sub-section (2.) of section four, five, six, seven or eight of the Parliamentary Allowances Act1952 “.
The effect of this provision will be to exempt the allowances that will be payable to senators, members of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and others from income tax.
Members of the Parliament should have the right to deduct from the increased emoluments that they will receive, for taxation purposes, only the actual expenditure for which they can vouch. Accordingly, I move -
That in proposed new paragraph (aa) the words “four, five,” he left out.
Inmy second-reading speech I contended that an undue profit should not accrue to a member or senator who has not spent his allowance for the purpose for which it was provided and also that an undue burden should not be placed upon a member or senator who finds it proper in the discharge of his duties to expend more than the £550 that is to be provided. It may be implied from what I said during the debate on the motion for the second reading of the bill that no deductions of any kindcan be made other than the allowance of £550. Section 74 of the Income Tax Assessment Act specifically provides for deduction, in an election year, of actual expenses of election, as distinct from parliamentary expenses. I believe that that deduction is unmodified. A member of Parliament is not to be deprived of the right of deduction of donations to charitable organizations and other donations which, under section 23 of the Principal Act, are allowable for taxation purposes. Therefore I do not want it to be understood that
I contend that, under the provisions of this clause, members of Parliament are to be deprived of every deduction to which they have been entitled in respect of their parliamentary duties.
– It is well to direct the attention of the Senate to clauses 3 and 4. Clause 3, which contains a provision in respect of exemption from taxation, loosely called the tax-free provision, must be read in conjunction with clause 4, because clause 4 takes away from members and senators deductions which hitherto were allowable at the discretion of the Commissioner of Taxation. In respect of some members of the House of Representatives that was a variable amount, but in respect of senators it was a flat amount of £375, provided that they could vouch for the expenses claimed as deductions. Clause 3 gives them a certain concession, but clause 4 takes away the existing concession. In other words, a concession granted by clause 3 is given in substitution for and to the exclusion of those deductions hitherto enjoyed but now repealed by clause 4. The following explanation will make the position clear : -
The purpose of this clause is to prohibit the deduction of those expenses which the exempt expense allowances specified in clause 3 are designed to cover. This result is achieved by the insertion of a new section S1a in the principal act.
Sub-section (l.) of proposed new section 81a provides, in effect, that the section shall apply to the Prime Minister and other Ministers of State who receive salaries under the Ministers of State Act and to other members of the National Parliament who receive allowances under the Parliamentary Allowances Act.
Sub-section (2.) expressly excludes from the allowable deductions losses or outgoings to the extent to which they are incurred in gaining or producing those ministerial salaries or parliamentary allowances which are assessable income.
The sub-section also forbids the deduction or depreciation of property used for the purposes of producing the assessable income referred to.
The sub-section qualifies section 51 (1.) of the principal act under which the deduction of losses and outgoings incurred in gaining or producing assessable income is authorized and section 54 which provides for the deduction of depreciation.
The deductions which will not now be allowable generally comprise travelling and entertainment expenses and the costs of telephone, stationery and clerical assistance incurred in connexion with the discharge of ministerial or other parliamentary duties. Likewise, depreciation’ ou motor cars and office equipment used for these purposes will not be deductible.
Travelling expenses which are defrayed out of the member’s sessional travelling allowance of 36s. per clay will not be deductible nor will sessional travelling allowances received by members be included as assessable income.
The scope of the sub-section does not extend to election expenses which will continue to be deductible under section 74 of the principal act.
Other deductions which will continue to be allowable include contributions to the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Fund and gifts of £1 or upwards to public hospitals, public benevolent institutions and public funds for the relief of persons in necessitous circumstances in Australia.
Sub-section (3.) is a safeguarding provision to ensure that an appropriate deduction for depreciation shall be allowed on property used partly in connexion with the discharge of parliamentary duties and partly to produce other assessable income.
I suggest to the Senate that, this matter should be considered in the light of the advantages given under clause 3’ in relation to the concessions that are withdrawn by clause 4.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 4th March (vide page 694), on motion by Senator
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Throughout the Minister’s secondreading speech he evinced a great deal of concern about the mistakes of the past, and showed clearly that the Government has a great many misgivings and much doubt of the efficacy of the proposed treaty in its present form. Prior to the adjournment of the debate last evening, I had stated that the Opposition does not oppose the signing of a treaty of peace with Japan, because it is realized that we cannot remain for an indefinite period technically at war with that country. We must finalize a treaty with Japan. However, the Opposition opposes the provision that Japan should be permitted to rearm unconditionally. In his secondreading speech the Minister stated -
We . . . cannot avoid some doubts at the prospect of Japan being restored to the 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.
It is apparent that although the Government has acquiesced in the signing of the proposed treaty, even at this late hour it still has some grave misgivings and doubts on whether it is doing the right thing. It is evident that the Government has acted without due thought, and without due regard for the opinion of the great bulk of the Australian people. As I pointed out last evening, the Government is in a dilemma. It has claimed that it has no alternative but to sign the treaty in the form that it has been presented to us. The Australian Labour party contends that the Government should have entered a protest about the rearmament provision of the treaty. It should have made definite and strong representations in this connexion when the draft treaty was presented by Mr. J ohn Foster Dulles, and subsequently when Mr. Spender, Aus tralia’s Ambassador to the United States of America, attended the San Francisco conference. On neither of those occasions was a word of protest uttered. Not one word was spoken by Australia’s representatives to indicate our fear about Japan’s attitude in the future, although only a few years have passed since we were faced with imminent invasion by the Japanese forces. By the signing of the proposed treaty every condition that it was intended in 1945 should be imposed on Japan will be repudiated. The Government contends that Australia will be safeguarded adequately by the Pacific pact. While we welcome the pact, under which the United States of America, New Zealand and Australia mutually agree to aid one another in the event of aggression, we realize that before its provisions can become operative one of the signatory nations must be involved in war. When one of the signatories to the pact is attacked, it might be too late for the other nations to aid it. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna.) has reminded us that although the United States of America is a signatory to the Pacific pact certain con- stitutiona.1 conditions attach to its observance of its commitments under the pact. I do not suggest ‘that the United States of America would dishonour its obligations, but we cannot dismiss the possibility that it might be compelled to do so as the result of the conditions to which I have referred. In 1945 the hopes of the people of Australia that there would be an era of peace in the Pacific were fortified by the knowledge that the armistice with Japan contained a provision that Japan should never again rearm and be in a position to embark on a policy of aggression. I am amazed that members and supporters of the Government in this chamber and in the House of Representatives should endeavour to justify the ratification of a. treaty which will enable Japan unconditionally to rearm. Have they no thought for the sacrifices of our heroic dead in the conflict against Japan? Have they no regard for the feelings of those who suffered unspeakable atrocities at the hands of the people of that fiendish nation? What do they care about the feelings of the relatives of Australian servicemen who were decapitated hy our inhuman enemy hut a few years ago? Our murdered servicemen would turn in their graves if they knew what the Government now asks the Parliament to do. Have honorable senators opposite forgotten that, after “World Wai- I., Germany which, under the terms of the armistice, was to be permanently disarmed, was permitted, within twenty years, to build up a military force that was unprecedented in the history of the world? Are honorable senators opposite unaware of the fact that Australians who have visited Japan since 1945 have told us that the Japanese people do not admit their defeat in the war and that their only regret is that they lost only the first phase of a war to conquer the Pacific, and, eventually, the world ? Do honorable senators opposite overlook the fact that the Japanese are fervently and fanatically patriotic and that they can not he convinced that their Emperor is not the son of Heaven who has been sent into the world to dominate it? Do they believe that in a few short years the occupation force of Japan has been able to change the ideals and aspirations of the Japanese people? Do they suggest that the Japanese people have rejected the Tanaka memorial which was drawn up by Baron Tanaka in 1927, and which may be described, as a blue print for the Japanese conquest of the Pacific and eventually of the rest of the world? Do they not realize that between 1941 to 1945 the Japanese endeavoured to put that blue print into operation, step by step? Do they not realize that the war of revenge that the Japanese will wage upon us, as surely as night follows day, will have been made possible by the action of this Liberal Government and its hanger-on the Country party, in ratifying this treaty? I have referred to members of the Australian Country party on other occasions as political cuckoos who are prepared to perch in any nestthat suits them. In Victoria, they perch in Labour’s nest; in Canberra they perch in the nest of the Liberal party.
– I rise to order. I submit, Mr. Acting Deputy President, that the honorable senator’s remarks have no relation to the subject under discussion.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Tate).- The point of. order is upheld. Senator Sandford must confine his remarks to the hill before the Senate.
– I expected an interruption of the kind, for honorable senators opposite are always uneasy when they hear the truth.
– I direct your attention, Mr. Acting Deputy President, to the fact that Senator Sandford’s further remarks are also out of order.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I have already indicated the opinion of the Chair regarding them. Senator Sandford must return to the bill before the Senate.
– Those who seek to justify the ratification of this treaty, or who acquiesce in it by their silence, demonstrate their hypocrisy. Only a few years ago they vociferously denounced the Japanese as a bestial enemy which for years had constituted a danger to the maintenance of the White Australia policy and to the development of this country by Britishers and people of European descent. Now, in the interests of political expediency they are prepared to acquiesce in the ratification of a treaty which gives Japan an unconditional right to rearm. I do not suggest that we could convince the American people that the treaty should not be ratified, but I am. sure that many Americans, like ourselves, are uneasy about it.
– What authority can the honorable senator quote to justify his statement that the American people are uneasy about the treaty?
– I am speaking to the butcher, not to the block.
– The honorable senator must be talking to himself.
– That is typical of the nonsensical interjections one expects from honorable senators opposite. If Senator Vincent were charged with having possessed intelligence he would be as innocent as a new-born babe.
As an ex-serviceman he at least is one to whom we may reasonably have looked for some support in our opposition to this bill. What is the reaction to this proposal of those who suffered the horror of incarceration in Changi, untold miseries on the Burma railway and unspeakable atrocities at the hands of the Japanese? Have honorable senators opposite forgotten the crimes of the Japanese so soon after the conclusion of the trials of the Japanese war criminals? Have they forgotten the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour? Do they not realize that within a comparatively few years the Japanese will be. bent on a war of revenge against Australia and the other allied nations, and that when the conflict begins the attack, instead of being launched on Pearl Harbour, may well be launched on Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Darwin? I was glad to observe that at least two honest members of the House of Representatives, the right honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes) and the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer), were courageous enough to denounce the proposal that Japan should be permitted to rearm ; but I was pained to learn that when the vote on the measure was taken both of them absented themselves from the chamber, possibly because they had received instructions to do so. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), who introduced this bill in the House of Representatives, used words in support of the ratification of the treaty that I did not think would ever be uttered by an Australian. The right honorable gentleman said that unless we permitted Japan to rearm we ran the risk of inculcating enmity in the hearts of the Japanese people. Those are the words of a supposedly responsible Minister in this Parliament! Members of this Government remind me of the occupants of a morgue. There is not the slightest enthusiasm among them for this treaty. If their relatives were among the Australian lads who suffered atrocities at the hands of the Japanese they would vote on this measure not in accordance with party alinement but in accordance with the dictates of their consciences. If they were true Australians they would condemn this treaty. Those who vote for this measure will go down in history as guilty men. The honorable member for Angas and the right honorable member for Bradfield are opposed to this measure, but were not prepared to vote against it. The right honorable member for Bradfield went so far as to say that the treaty was treasonable. Last night, exception was taken to my statement that the action of this Government in asking the Parliament to ratify the treaty was treasonable. I have no hesitation in repeating that statement now. We are told that the Japanese nation must be rearmed as a bulwark against communism. The Minister said in his second-reading speech that the immediate danger of communism was much greater than the ultimate danger of a rearmed Japan, but I contend that the Japanese will be on our side only if they want to be on our side. The treaty will not impose any obligations on Japan, and I believe that the Japanese people will form an alliance only with countries of their own choosing. In view of Japan’s geographical position, it is clear that its eventual allies will be Asiatic China and Communist Russia. We shall be powerless to prevent such an alliance. The Government contends that we shall have adequate security in the Pacific pact, but much as we may welcome that pact, for it to become operative one of the signatories will have to be involved in war, and it will then be too late to seek assistance. Japan did not send a telegram warning America of the attack on Pearl Harbour on the 7th December, 1941. As soon as Japan considers itself to be sufficiently strong, it will strike at the most convenient strategic point. We shall live to rue the ratification of this treaty. Just as certain individuals were classed as “guilty men” after World War II., honorable senators opposite and their colleagues in the House of Representatives will be classed as guilty men by this or some future generation. The wrath of posterity will fall upon their heads. Knowing the fervent and fanatical patriotism of the Japanese, I consider a war of revenge to be certain. The Japanese people believe that their Emperor the “ Son of Heaven “ is destined to rule the world, and to subjugate the white races. The Tanaka Memorial, which was presented to the Japanese people in 1927 by the then Premier, Baron Tanaka, has been their bible ever since. The Japanese do not consider that they were defeated in “World War II. They believe that they only lost the first round. Now, to use a boxing expression, we are going into the ring as seconds for the Japanese to assist them to fight the second round. The following is an extract from a review of Carl Crow’s book, Japan’s Dream of World Empire: The Tanaka Memorial: -
Here is without doubt one of the most hocking books to appear in our time, containing the text of the Tanaka Memorial which is in reality the Japanese Mein Kampf.
Since the time of Hideyoshi in 1598, Mr. Crow points out in his illuminating commentary, the Japanese have cherished a dream of world domination. However, it was not until the chance publication of the famous Memorial which Premier Baron Tanaka presented to the Emperor in 1027 that the attention of the world was drawn to the grandiose scheme. Since then Japanese militarists have followed, step by step, the course Baron Tanaka outlined - in Manchuria, China, southern Asia, American outposts in the Pacific. With a victory over China and a victorious Axis, Japan would have only to wait until the appropriate moment to complete Baron Tanaka’s plan for the Son of Heaven to rule the world.
That was Japan’s blueprint for conquest in World War II. It is stupid to think that because Japan has been occupied for a few short years that its people have become democrats. They still have their militaristic aspirations and their dreams cf world domination. Under this treaty we shall be not merely permitting them to rearm, but also assisting them to rearm. In addition, the Japanese will receive most-favoured nation treatment in trade. Already one Japanese vessel has called at Australian ports with Japanese merchandise, and I read only yesterday that eighteen more ships are on their way from Japan to Australia. Japan is already expanding its export trade at the expense of Australian industries. Consider the feelings of the thousands of friends and relatives of Australian servicemen who suffered at the hands of the Japanese during World War II., when they find that this National Government which they trusted, has ratified a treaty of peace that will enable Japan to rearm much more expeditiously than it could otherwise have done! Consider the feelings of relatives of the poor boys who were beheaded or suffered unspeakable horrors at the hands of the Japanese when they learn that this bestial nation is to he permitted once more to provide itself with the means of waging war ! The fact that Japanese war criminals have been tried and some of them convicted and punished will be an added incentive to the J Japanese to embark upon a war of revenge. Should they be victorious, they would no doubt take their revenge on their vanquished enemies. I have no doubt whatever that should this treaty become operative, many members of this chamber will live to experience a second Japanese thrust southwards.
I appeal to honorable senators opposite to vote according to their conscience. Unless they do so, they can have little consideration for the future of this country. Ratification of this treaty will be an unpardonable sin. It will pave the way for Japanese domination of the Pacific and ultimately of the white races. We know the military history of the Japanese. We know their methods of warfare. The Pearl Harbour of the future may well be an Australian city. Honorable senators opposite always appear to be very conscious of the mandates which they consider have, or have not, been given to them by the people of Australia. I suggest that a treaty such as this, which will have a profound effect upon the future of this country, could well be put to the people of the. Commonwealth for an expression of opinion. I am sure that, if that were done, at least 90 per cent, of the Australian people would oppose the ratification of any treaty that permitted the rearmament of Japan. I hope that some Government supporters in this chamber will be courageous enough to speak their own minds as some of their colleagues in the House of Representatives have done. In both chambers the Government has placed the burden of defending the treaty upon its younger supporters, particularly those with war experience, but their efforts have been pitiful. Last night one honorable senator opposite complained that the recruiting campaign in this country was not meeting with the success that the Government desired. “Will this measure help recruiting for Korea? Do honorable senators opposite believe that Australian soldiers fighting in Korea, right at Japan’s doorstep, will trust the Government when they learn that this treaty has been ratified? Will their reaction not be “ When we’ have defeated the North Koreans, this Commonwealth Government will rearm them to fight against somebody else “ ? Surely it is a waste of time for the DirectorGeneral of Recruiting to continue his campaign for volunteers for Korea when the Government is selling out the people of Australia to the most hideous enemy against which the people of any country have ever been pitted.
Sitting suspended from 5 J/5’ lo 8 p.m.
Debate (on motion by Senator PEARSON) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McLeay) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to legislate in respect of swimming fish in Australian waters beyond territorial limits, and in waters adjacent to a territory and within territorial limits, in order that fishing in such waters can be so regulated that existing fisheries resources will be conserved for regular commercial development, and that excessive exploitation of our fish resources will be prevented. The need for legislation to enable the Commonwealth to exercise its constitutional powers iii regard to fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits, has been recognized for some considerable time.
The States, and the Commonwealth in respect of its territories only, have legislation which covers fishing practices- and policy in waters within their territorial boundaries - generally interpreted as being waters within 3 miles of the seashore. Beyond such limits there is an area in respect of which the Commonwealth, but not the States, can, as a matter of constitutional law, legislate directly. The bill is primarily concerned with the control of fishing in this area, although it is proposed also to deal with waters adjacent to the territories.
The Commonwealth’s power to enact fisheries legislation, with operation outside territorial limits, is contained in section 51, placitum (x.) of the Constitution, under which Parliament may make laws with respect to fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits. Honorable senators will .have noticed that the bill does not itself specify the particular Australian waters to which it will apply, hut there is provision in clause 7 for the risking of proclama tions declaring certain waters to be proclaimed waters, and it is only in waters so proclaimed that fishing will be regulated by the bill. This is not the first occasion on which legislation has been enacted under the fisheries power in the Constitution. In 1932, the Beaches, Fishing Grounds and Sea Routes Protection Act provided for certain areas situated beyond territorial limits to be- set aside as dumping grounds for the disposal of useless ships, &c, whilst in more recent years legislation in respect of whaling has also been enacted under this section of the Constitution. However, legislation has not previously been introduced in respect of fishing activities generally.
I should like to make it quite clear that the Government has no thought of encroaching in any way upon the sovereign rights of the States in their own areas. The Commonwealth legislation provides that the administration of the laws, both State and Commonwealth, in the waters contiguous to the States, may be supervised by State officials, to the extent necessary, under power delegated by the Commonwealth. It is hoped in this way to avoid duplication and extravagance in the administration of a complementary system of State and Com.monweal fcl i fisheries legislation. The intentions of the Commonwealth in this connexion were discussed with the State. Ministers for Fisher:-:1.? at a conference a few weeks ago, and the Commonwealth proposals have the general concurrence of the States.
The Australian fishing industry, although small in comparison with the fishing industries of the major fishproducing countries such as Norway, Canada and the United Kingdom, is important, particularly from the point of view of its value as a source of food. During 3950-51, the production of scale fish in Australia amounted to about 70,000,000 lb., valued, at £3,725,753. Crayfish, prawns and oysters to the value of £1,667,479 were also produced. In addition, pearl shell valued at £760,000, and the products of the whaling industry valued at approximately £1,500,000, must be included. The sale of crayfish and pearl shell yielded about 3,000,000 dollars. It will be seen, therefore, that the fishingindustry is quite an important factor in our economy, and is capable of considerable expansion. We must be careful, however, to -guard against, undue depletion of our fisheries resources.
Honorable senators will be aware that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has, since 193S’, maintained a Fisheries Division for the purpose of carrying out research and investigations of the fishing industry. In addition, the various States have provided for the management and, to some extent, the development of fisheries in waters within their territorial limits. As far back as 1907 a conference was held to consider the desirability of uniform fisheries laws for the States, and questions relating to Australian fisheries. Resolutions related to the scientific investigation and development of fisheries as a Commonwealth responsibility, and the collection of fisheries statistics, and as a result a Commonwealth Director of Fisheries was appointed, and a federal fisheries investigation trawler placed in commission. Unfortunately, the vessel was lost with all hands in 1914, and the Commonwealth’s direct interest in fisheries lapsed. However, the work which had been done proved invaluable, and formed the basis for the development of the fish trawling industry in Australia.
Later, a report of the Development and Migration Commission in 1927 stressed the need for the development of fisheries from the Commonwealth angle. More recently, the Tariff Board, in 1941, after u thorough investigation of the Australian fishing industry, recommended that a Commonwealth fisheries development authority be set up to carry out developmental work. The question of the establishment of such a Commonwealth fisheries authority, with legislative powers in respect of fisheries beyond territorial limits, was submitted to a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers in August, 1945, at the end of the war. It was agreed that such action should be taken, and that a conference of Commonwealth and State fisheries officers should be convened to consider the implementation of the recommendations.
In 1946, pursuant to the decisions of the conference of Premiers, a Commonwealth Fisheries Authority was established within the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, for the purpose of undertaking a programme of management and development in the fishing industry. It had long been apparent that such a programme was required, but it could not be implemented effectively without legislation. The conference of Commonwealth and State Fisheries officers, held in February, 1947, agreed that steps should be taken by the Commonwealth to enact legislation to cover fisheries in the waters beyond the 3-mile limit. Draft legislation was prepared in 194S, but as the whole question of the competence of States to enact fishing legislation became the subject of international discussion, the legislation was not then proceeded with.
Action has been taken by a number of other countries to assert rights over natural resources in waters beyond the accepted territorial limits. In 1945, the President of the United States of America issued proclamations asserting the jurisdiction of that country over the natural resources of the continental shelf under the high seas contiguous to its coasts and the coasts of its territories, and providing for the establishment of conservational zones for the protection of fisheries in certain areas of the high seas contiguous to the United States of America. Subsequently other countries, including Mexico, Peru and Argentina, took similar action. Such assertions of rights have not been tested at international law, but they are indicative of the present-day thinking of nations with interests comparable to those of Australia.
Considerable interest has been aroused among maritime States by the recent judgment of the International Court of Justice on a dispute between the United Kingdom and Norway regarding the enforcement of Norwegian legislation against United Kingdom fisherman. This judgment has no great significance so far as the two bills before the Senate are concerned. The rule laid down by the court related solely to the fixing of the base-line from which Norwegian territorial waters should be measured, and, in formulating the rule, the court paid particular attention to the special features of the Norwegian coastline and of Norwegian economic history, which, perhaps, have no strict parallel in Australia. Theoretically, the judgment might be of importance in determining where State powers ceaseand where Commonwealth jurisdiction commences, but, as I shall mention elsewhere in this speech, it is proposed to place the administration of the legislation in the hands of the States, and, so far as possible, to regulate uniformly fishing both within and outside territorial limits.
It may be of interest to mention some instances in which the absence of Commonwealth legislation of the nature proposed in this bill has prevented the taking of adequate measures for the protection of fisheries. Many of the trap fisheries off the coast of New SouthWales are outside the 3-mile limit, and, therefore, beyond the jurisdiction of the State of New South Wales. Fishermen have complained that their traps have been raided by “ fish pirates “ who remove the fish from the traps, and sometimes cut the float line before releasing the trap. The result is that fishermen lose, not only the fish, but also the gear, which is extremely difficult to replace. It has not been possible to take effective action in such cases under existing laws, but the proposed legislation would enable action to be taken to protect the legitimate fisherman. The Tasmanian and Victorian Fisheries Departments are vitally interested in the depletion of the shark fishery in Bass Strait, and are eager to obtain powers, by delegation from the Commonwealth, to carry out a conservation programme. At present, they have no power to do this. Recently, in Western Australia, threats have been made by certain cray-fishermen that they would operate outside the territorial limits of the State, and take crayfish outside the season fixed by the Western Australian Government. If this legislation is passed, power could be delegated to the State Fisheries Department by the Commonwealth to control these fisheries.
The future development of fisheries in Australian waters depends mainly on the catching of pelagic fish, most of which will be taken outside the ordinary State limits. Australian fisheries, which are located either wholly or partly in waters beyond the territorial limits of the States and the territories, include-
It will be noted that in the bill no mention has been made of the important pearl shell, trochus, beche-de-mer and green snail fisheries. A separate bill covering these fisheries will be introduced. I shall deal fully with the reasons for the separate legislation when I introduce that bill.
It will be appreciated that the Australian Government has common interests with the governments of other countries concerned with fishing in waters to the north of Australia, particularly when fishing on the Australian continental shelf is involved. In this connexion, honorable senators will recall Article 9 of the treaty of peace with Japan. Apart from Japan, it may be desirable for Australia to consider entering into arrangements with the governments of Indonesia, the Netherlands, in respect of Dutch New Guinea, and Portugal, in respect of Portuguese Timor, covering spheres of common interest in those waters. The operations in Australian extra-territorial waters of fishermen from other countries can be regulated only by agreement with the governments of those countries, and before entering into negotiations with any other governments for such agreements it is necessary to have legislation governing fishing operations in such waters. In the absence of domestic legislation that provided for the management of fisheries in Australian waters, Australia would be in an extremely weak position if it attempted to negotiate agreements on fishing with other countries.
In conclusion, I stress again that the existing State fisheries departments, with their inspection staffs, will, as far as possible, with the concurrence of the State governments, be used to carry out the various functions envisaged in this bill. Further, it is intended that regulations shall be framed, in collaboration with the States, with a view to providing uniform control over fishing operations in waters both inside and outside the territorial limits of the States. Similar action will be taken in respect of Commonwealth territories.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McLeay) read a first time. secondreading.
Senator McLEAY (South Australia -
Minister for Shipping and Transport) [8.20].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The objeci cf this bill is the conservation of Australia’s sedentary fisheries, including mother-of-pearl, trochus, beche-de-mer and green snail. These fisheries are situated on the continental shelf, which fringes the Australian coast, and extend from Shark Bay on the west to the Great Barrier Reef on the east coast. It will be noticed that I have referred to “the continental shelf”. This expression has not as yet acquired a universally agreed meaning, but, for present purposes, I use it to refer to the waters surrounding the Australian coast where the depth does not exceed 100 fathoms. A fairly common feature of the seabed surrounding land masses is that it slopes gradually away from the coast until, at a depth of 100 fathoms or thereabouts, it descends much more steeply to the ocean depths. Australia’s sedentary fisheries are located on the Australian continental shelf, as I have just described it. Like the Fisheries Bill, this legislation will operate only in relation to waters that will be specified in proclamations made by the GovernorGeneral. Pearl shell is the major product, and has proved a good dollar-earner for Australia.
These fisheries really commenced in 1S50, when Lieutenant Helpman of the Royal Navy discovered the first motherofpearl beds off the Western Australian coast. The first recorded export of mother-of-pearl shell from Australia was made in 1862, and so Australia has been engaged in this industry for 100 years. There are good reasons why Australia can claim to have pioneered this industry. Over the years, the Commonwealth and the States have assisted the industry in many ways. They have provided the ports, lighthouses, wireless and meteorological services, as well as work in connexion with the Marine Hydrographic Survey. Sedentary fisheries are in a category different from ordinary pelagic and demersal fisheries. Mother-of-pearl, trochus, beche-de-mer and green snail are attached to the seabed or reefs. Without proper conservation programmes, these fisheries can be over-fished and depleted. In fact, the activities of foreign operators before 1941 showed how dangerous it was to allow uncontrolled fishing on the continental shelf.
It has been recognized for many years that sedentary fisheries require special treatment. In 1888 an act was passed by the Federal Council of Australasia termed The Queensland Pearl Shell and Bechedemer Fisheries (Extra-Territorial) Act 1888, and in 18S9 a similar act, entitled The “Western Australian Pearl Shell and Beche-de-mer Fisheries (ExtraTerritorial) Act of 1889, was passed. Both of those acts are still in force. They will be repealed by this legislation, which will provide means for the assumption of extra-territorial rights by the Commonwealth. Under those two acts, Queensland and Western Australia assumed control of a very large area of the seabed for the purpose of conserving the fishery. Similar powers have been exercised over the pearl shell beds in the Gulf of Manaar which are situated between Ceylon and India. At present, the Ceylonese Government controls this pearl fishery, although it is situated outside the ordinary 3-mile limits of Ceylon.
The Northern Territory Development Committee, in its report on the pearl shell, beche-de-mer, and trochus industry of northern Australia, submitted a strong recommendation that the Commonwealth should proceed with its plans for the assumption of administrative responsibility in respect of extraterritorial fisheries. In 194’7, at a conference of the Chief Fisheries Officers of Australia, this recommendation was endorsed, and both of the States concerned, Queensland and Western Australia, have signified their agreement with this recommendation. It is proposed that, as far as possible, the administration of the bill shall be undertaken by State officials. In the case of the Northern Territory, the work will be carried out by officials of the Territory. The measure will apply to “ Australian waters “, and these waters will include “ Australian waters beyond territorial limits and waters adjacent to a territory and within territorial limits “. Power of delegation is clearly indicated in the bill, and it will be possible to delegate any of the powers to Commonwealth and State officers, and so avoid over-centralization of administration.
This bill has been under consideration for some time. The original draft was prepared in 1948, but was not proceeded with at that time because, as with the Fisheries Bill, the whole question of the competence of States to enact fishing legislation became the subject of international discussion. I stress that, unless the Commonwealth has legislation which will enable proper control of this fishery to be exercised, including a wise conservation plan, it will not be possible to prevent the serious depletion and ultimate ruin of a valuable fishery. This legislation is required to control this fishing effectively and avoid undue depletion of the mother-of-pearl, trochus, beche-de-mer and green snail fisheries. At present, only Australian nationals are operating in these waters, in many cases without any existing governmental control. In view of our previous experience with foreign pearlers, we believe that it is very necessary to Jay down strict regulations in the fishery to control pearlers, and so ensure a proper conservation programme.
Debate (on motion by Senator MoKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time. The purpose of this bill is to amend section 19 of the Life Insurance Act 1945- 1950. Under the provisions of that act, a company is not permitted to carry on any class of life insurance business unless it has first been registered by the insurance commissioner. Although, as yet, registration has not been refused to any company, the act specifies five grounds upon which the commissioner may, with the approval of the Treasurer, refuse to register a company which was not carrying on life insurance business in Australia when the act came into force on the 20th June, 1946.
All of the five grounds for refusal of registration, in conformity with the genera) intentions of the act, relate to the better protection of the insuring public. They do not, however, enable the Commissioner to have regard to the expenses of management of a company which, prior to its application for registration as a life insurance company, was conducting some other form of insurance business. In the opinion of the Government, it is desirable that this omission should be remedied. Accordingly, this short amending bill provides that the Commissioner may refuse to register an existing insurance company for life insurance’ purposes if he is satisfied that its expenses of management are excessive, having regard to the nature of the insurance business previously transacted. I commend the bill to the favorable consideration of the Senate.
– The Opposition supports this measure, which is designed to strengthen legislation that was introduced by a Labour government in 1945. The strengthening has been rendered necessary by recent developments. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) has fully explained the purposes of the bill, and I have nothing to add to what he has said.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wright) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page SOO).
Senator PEARSON (South Australia) “8.29]. - This bill is receiving from honorable senators the attention that it deserves. Happily, it is a bill of a kind that this Parliament is not often called upon to consider. If passed, it will give legislative effect to a treaty of peace with a former enemy of Australia to which the Australian Government, through its accredited representatives, has already attached its signature. With the passing of this bill, Australia, as one of the 48 Allied nations, will have given an official indication to Japan and the world that the state of war which hitherto existed between Japan and this country has ended mi the terms and conditions set out in the treaty and contained in the schedule to the hill.
I do not think that the difficulty which confronts honorable senators in their approach to this legislation is the question of whether peace should or should not be made with Japan. I think that we all agree that the making of peace between ourselves and our former enemy is, to say the least, desirable. I think that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna.) will agree with that statement. The difficulty is caused by the necessity to decide what terms and conditions should be imposed by the treaty. What terms will be in the best interests, not only of ourselves, but of our Allies and Japan itself? In considering the terms of the treaty it is virtually impossible for us to dissociate ourselves entirely from our deep-seated and bitter resentment of Japanese conduct during the war, conduct which was so often characterized by inhumanity and disregard for the most elementary principles of fair play. The memory of the conduct of the Japanese in so many places and on so many occasions, conduct which affected so many families and individuals, is hard to efface. But I do not think that in harbouring feelings of resentment against Japan we should allow ourselves to be so completely, blinded by our prejudices as to render ourselves incapable of adopting a. realistic approach to the subject.
I think that honorable senators on this side of the House will agree with the contention of the Opposition that this treaty may be said to be generous. It has been argued, however, by some nations that have been called upon to sign the treaty that the terms are too harsh. The treaty does allow Japan to rearm, and the Leader of the Opposition based his whole objection to the bill on this fact. He referred to the danger of a “ spill-over “ by the Japanese. We all realize that Japan has a very great natural tendency to expand. If the Leader of the Opposition had put forward the only facts that must be considered in connexion with this matter then I would agree that there would be some doubt as to the wisdom of agreeing to a treaty with
Japan which allowed that country to rearm. But what the Leader of the Opposition said is far from the whole .story. The immediate danger is that Japan will fall into Russian arms. It is true that the Japanese may not have undergone a change of heart. It may also be true that the war lords of Japan are still in the box seat. Unfortunately, it may also be true that the Japanese have not been democratized as much as we would have liked during the period that has elapsed since the cessation of hostilities. I agree that under those conditions an armed Japan may constitute a real danger to this country in ten, fifteen, or twenty years’ time. We cannot shut our eyes to that fact. But in my opinion a much more immediate danger is the possibility of leaving a power vacuum in Japan.
A very good reason for supporting this treaty is provided by the attitude of Communists inside and outside of this country. Why, for instance, did Mr. Gromyko oppose the signing of the treaty at San Francisco ? Why did he there seek to dissuade other nations from signing it? Why did the 22 Communists to whom Senator Vincent referred oppose the treaty in the Japanese Parliament ? And why are Communists in Australia so fearful that Parliament will ratify this treaty? The very fact that we have to ask these questions and that there is only one answer to them provides a very good reason why we should ratify the “treaty as soon as possible. The very worst that we have to fear from Japan is that it may, in future, be in a position to molest this country again. As I have said, there is a more immediate danger than that and we have 1>o choose between the two. I prefer to tackle the problem that confronts us immediately.
I am rather appalled at the attitude of some honorable senators opposite who evidently fail to recognize this danger. If they do not recognize it their attitude is excusable. If they do recognize it and maintain their present attitude they must be soundly condemned. The Leader of the Opposition made a very able speech in which he said that he would prefer any other people than the Japanese to over-run Australia if we had to be over- run. On being questioned on this matter, he agreed that he would prefer that even the Russians should come into this country than that the Japanese should do so. So far as I am concerned, this is a hairsplitting decision to have to make. Has not the Leader of the Opposition read of Russian atrocities and Russian barbarism behind the Iron Curtain?
- Senator Grant can make his speech later. I ask him whether he has heard of the atrocities that have been committed in countries which are at present under the iron heel. If he has read of them does he believe what he has read? I have read of such atrocities and I believe that they happened. Do honorable senators opposite doubt what Russian policy is in the East? Does the Leader of the Opposition recognize the hand of Russia in such places as Korea, China and Malaya? Does he and those who sit behind him realize the immediate threat to this country which exists in Indo-China, where there is a rapidly deteriorating situation ? The force responsible for that situation is Russian communism. Are honorable senators opposite in any doubt as to what the Russians would do with Japan if we left that country as a prize to dangle in front of them?
– This is not a treaty with Russia, but with Japan.
– I know it is.
– Then why does not the honorable senator keep to the point?
– I am keeping to the point. The danger that I have mentioned is linked up with this treaty. If we do not allow Japan to rear.m to some extent it will become a valuable prize, dangled in front of Russian eyes and, judging by previous Russian performances, Russia will not be slow to take that prize. Japan is regarded by the Governments of the United States of America and Great Britain, by the Labour party in Great Britain, by realists in Australia, by the New Zealand Government and, I think, by the Labour party in New Zealand, not as a possible enemy in the future but as an immediate bulwark against Communist domination of the
East and the Pacific. These people and these governments recognize this threat as being by no means remote. Does not the treaty which the United States of America ha3 signed with Japan constitute a safeguard for peace? If it is not a valuable safeguard why did the United States of America seek it? I suggest that the United States of America intended that its arrangement with Japan should be linked up with this peace treaty which the United States of America has sponsored. The Leader of the Opposition claimed that we should refuse to ratify this treaty and that instead we should seek a similar arrangement with Japan. That was the only alternative that he offered to the ratification of this treaty. I think that that is a fair construction of what he said. I know that he said that we should refuse to ratify the treaty and then try to make better terms with Japan. I also understood him to say that we should seek a treaty of the kind that the United States of America has already made with Japan. If Australia did sign that kind of treaty with Japan, would the Opposition wish to continue to provide forces to occupy that nation? That is what such a treaty would necessitate and it is what the United Stares of America will do. Why is the Opposition so jealous pf the fact that the United States of America, alone among the nations, has negotiated a treaty with Japan? The. Opposition’s policy is so hedged with restrictions about where Australian troops may or may not be sent that honorable senators opposite are apparently oblivious of the difficulties associated with that policy. I welcome the agreement between the United States of America and. Japan as a real, if not an entirely adequate, safeguard to Australia. We must remember that that safeguard will he provided without cost to this country. The Pacific pact will also be of immense value to New Zealand and Australia.
What alternative have we to ratification of the proposed treaty? The Leader of the Opposition has suggested that we should refuse to ratify it and endeavour to obtain better terms. He has suggested that a limitation should be placed on the rearmament of Japan.
I contend that if Japan is to be allowed to rearm a limitation cannot be placed on the extent of its rearmament. We must be practical and admit that that is so. Either Japan shall be permitted to rearm unconditionally, or not be permitted to rearm at all. I should prefer that, in effect, we should say to Japan, “ You are again a sovereign nation and may rearm “ in the hope that Japan will throw in its lot with the free nations of the world. I stand my ground on my attitude in this matter. I would not be prepared to leave Japan completely unarmed as a prize for Russian atheistic communism that is on the march to-day. I find it difficult to understand the attitude of the Opposition in this matter, particularly in view of the attitude of the Labour Government in Great Britain at the time the proposed treaty was negotiated.
– Why does not the Government recognize the present Government in China?
– I am not dealing with that matter. Why does not the Opposition in this chamber recognize the attitude of the Labour party in Great Britain ?
– The honorable senator is not prepared-
– Order ! We are dealing with the proposed treaty of peace with Japan. I ask Senator Grant to refrain from interjecting further. I remind him that interjections are disorderly, and that I have the power to deal with honorable senators who persist in interjecting.
– I understand that the Labour Opposition in the New Zealand Parliament favours ratification of the treaty. Apparently, in the opinion of honorable senators opposite, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is wrong, Mr. Attlee and Mr. Herbert Morrison in Great Britain are wrong, and the other nations that have ratified the treaty are wrong. I want to be fair in this matter, but I am forced to the conclusion that the Opposition has adopted its present attitude merely because the Prime Minister considers that we should ratify the treaty.
– The right honorable gentleman had nothing to do with it.
– We were not consulted about it.
– Honorable senators opposite are so out of step with the attitude that has been adopted towards this matter by Labour parties in, other countries that that is the only conclusion to which I can come. New Zealand troops were subjected to atrocities by the Japanese just as were the Australian troops. Yet, New Zealand favours ratification of the teraty. Why do honorable senators opposite oppose ratification ?
– The “ Japs “ are not human ; they are animals.
– The Labour party in New Zealand probably thinks as Senator Aylett thinks, but that has not prevented that party from agreeing to ratification. If honorable senators opposite formed the Government to-day, what would be their attitude?
– They would sign the treaty.
– I agree with Senator Kendall. Yet, they continue to hurl insults at our great American ally. T have been appalled by some of the speeches that have been delivered in this chamber by honorable senators opposite, who have referred derisively to American imperialism, American war-mongering, and American materialism. Senator O’Flaherty’s speech during this debate was unworthy of him and unworthy of the people who elected him to this chamber. I am in a position to tell honorable senators that his speech was not well received in South Australia. I hope that the sentiments that he expressed are not shared by his colleagues. Senator Morrow, who is a champion of the Russian attitude, has continually-
– The facts that I lui vp cited have never been refuted.
- Senator Morrow obtains his so-called, facts from Mrs. Jessie Street.
– What is wrong with that lady?
– What was wrong with a letter that she wrote? J. had no intention to indulge in personalities, but was led into doing so by Senator Morrow’s interjection. The honorable senator has stated that we are illegally at war in Korea.
– Are we legally at war there?
– We are not illegally at war. I would be prepared to discuss this matter with Senator Morrow at an appropriate time. The Leader of the Opposition has clearly stated the attitude of the Labour party to the treaty, but evidently Senator Morrow does not agree with the views of his leader. If he were willing to debate the matter with the Leader of the Opposition, I would do him the honour of listening. Senator Cameron is in very serious trouble for casting aspersions on our great American ally. The Labour party is faced with some hard thinking because of statements that have been made by certain honorable senators opposite, particularly in view of the fact that they were on top of the Senate voting lists in their respective States. Do those - honorable senators agree with the attitude that was adopted by Mr. Curtin during the dark days of the war, when he made a special broadcast to the United States of America appealing to that country to come to our aid?
– Did that broadcast have the support of the honorable senator ?
– It did have my support, and I pay a tribute to the very valuable assistance that the United States of America subsequently gave to us. We should not be sitting here to-night if it were not for that assistance. Did honorable senators opposite agree with Mr. Curtin’s broadcast, or were certain things said by Mr. Curtin merely because we were down on our hands and knees asking for help? The reward of honorable senators opposite to our American friends for their assistance during World War II., which saved this country from being overrun by the Japanese, is to offer insults to the Americans. I do not think that we could be threatened by Japanese, aggression within the next ten or fifteen years, but I am convinced that if such an occasion does arise again, the Americans will be on our side and will probably save us again. I have been appalled at the attitude of some honorable senators opposite towards the United States of America. They should be ashamed to stand in this chamber and utter the insults that they have voiced against the Americans. Such conduct is not worthy of this Parliament. I hope that we have come to the end of that business.
Let us consider what alternatives are open to us. If we were to decide not to ratify the treaty - and honorable senators opposite have indicated that they intend to defeat the bill if possible - we would remain, technically, in a state of war with Japan. The Leader of the Opposition has suggested that we should seek terms more acceptable to this country. But would Japan be likely to agree to any other terms, in view of the fact that more than 40 nations have already agreed to the treaty that we are now considering? Would Japan be likely to agree to exceptional terms for Australia., or would that country be more likely to tell us where we get off? We must adopt a practical approach to this matter. Is it feasible that we should reject the bill and then, in effect, say to Japan, “ Some people in Australia, for political reasons, do not like the terms of the treaty. Will you help us out of our difficulty by accepting harsher terms?”. I am convinced that Japan would tell us where to get off.
– That is what the Opposition has already pointed out.
– Even at this late hour I appeal to the Opposition to help the Government by ratifying the treaty. At the same time, I consider that we should make it known to the Japanese that, while we are prepared to make peace in terms of the treaty, they will have certain obligations to honour. Some honorable senators opposite have asserted that Japan will not honour its obligations. However, I believe that ratification of the treaty will expose us to less risk than we would be exposed to if we were to leave Japan unarmed, a prize that the Russians would not be slow to seek. That threat constitutes the greatest menace, indeed, the only menace, to world peace at the present time. I support ratification of the treaty.
.- The bill for the ratification of the Japanese peace treaty is one. of the most important measures that has ever been considered in the Parliament because the articles of the treaty may have disastrous and grave consequences for Australia. I agree with you, Mr. President, that this bill, which is so vital to the future of this country, should be debated in an atmosphere insulated against the heat of party political propaganda, so that we may confine our thoughts to the serious problems which it poses, and in respect of which members of the Government parties agree there are some doubts. When I say that we all have some misgivings about this treaty I do not attempt to read the minds of members of the Government and of honorable senators opposite. I have not conferred with them in any way. I rely upon the frank statement of the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) in his secondreading speech that the Government is not entirely satisfied with it. The Minister said -
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 that it is too soft. We in Australia . . . cannot avoid some doubts at the prospect Qf Japan being restored to the family of nations without certain control” over its conduct in the future . . . Wc 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.
Those statements alone demonstrate the weakness of Senator Pearson’s appeal to us to join with the Government in ratifying the treaty. The treaty imposes upon every member of the Parliament a solemn duty which involves two major considerations; first, the recognition and appreciation of the valour of and hardships endured and the sacrifices made by the members of the fighting services of Australia; secondly, the fact that our decisions should not be based on political expediency because the effect of the treaty itself may be changed by other international agreements, particularly by those made by the United States of America. If the isolationists gain control in the United States of America of what value will this treaty be to Australia ? “ It will be almost worthless. Having regard to the fact that the countries of the world change their foreign policies almost weekly there is justification for delay in the ratification of this treaty in the interests of the welfare of the people of Australia.
With all the humility that may be associated with a person who- has not travelled abroad, I propose to make a few observations that are based upon research and upon my reading of the press and other literature as a “ stay-put “ Australian. During the last twelve years more significant changes have taken place in Asia than in any other continent. The Pacific war had a great influence on those changes because it set into motion the demand in many Asian countries for national independence and particularly for land reform. India, Pakistan and Ceylon secured their independence within the British Commonwealth ; China completed a political agrarian revolution under the leadership of the Chinese Communist party; Indonesia made a postwar agreement which has been varied on several occasions; and the Philippines was granted independence by the United States of America. In Indo-China conditions are unstable and unsatisfactory. Asia is now a worthwhile military force. lt is progressively becoming a third powerful force in world politics. Disillusioned and weakened by warfare, denied many of the fruits of victory, deceived and deserted by its friends and threatened by its enemies, Asia has risen from its obscurity to become a force that is sought by powerful nations to assist them in their bids for world domination. To-day, the people of Asia are looking towards new horizons. They are embracing reforms of all kinds, particularly land and social reforms. It is a great pity that synchronized with the rebirth of Asia a struggle should be in progress between the great powers for world domination. In an era of real peace, if that were possible, and if the world generally could be conditioned to accept a just order among nations, Asia might have progressed along more constructive lines to the benefit of mankind. In China, where the Communist party has had its greatest victory, the Communists gained power, not because the Chinese love communism, but because of the poverty, the degradation and the suffering of the Chinese people through successive years of war. I am not trying to minimize or to applaud the Communist successes in China. I merely say that whatever contributed to those successes stands out as the most conclusive development that has taken place in Asia since the defeat of Japan and is bound to have an influence upon the balance of power, not only in Asia but throughout the world. The success of the Communists in Asia threatens the free states of that continent and not only adds to the power of the Communist movement, but also poses the prospect of Communist domination of the entire region. As there have been changes in Asia that have altered and conditioned American foreign policy so also have there been changes in Japan which are very significant and which demand further consideration of American foreign policy particularly as it relates to the document with which we are now dealing.
I doubt whether there is a more disciplined people in the world than the Japanese. At all times they are prepared to suffer death, even to destroy themselves, rather than displease the representatives of their ancestors. Their spiritual beliefs are astounding. From the time of their birth they are trained and educated in the Shinto religion which propagates the belief that the Emperor is the direct descendant of the sun goddess and that implicit obedience is due to him. We know of their fanatical demonstrations during the war when their suicide corps - the Kamikaze - made human bombs of their bodies and dived to their doom upon our ships and the ships of our Allies. They did not fear death because they believed in the divinity of their Emperor, who said that if they died, they died for glory and for Japan.
I want for a moment to contrast the present attitude of the Japanese with their attitude after the armistice. When
General MacArthur arrived in Japan at an airfield unescorted and unarmed, he landed among 2,000,000 trained soldiers in a war-weary country with its bombed cities, its worn-out streets and its trams and trains stationary. The Japanese conditioned themselves to the occasion, as they are able to condition themselves to any occasion. Just as they were fanatical and barbarous in their treatment of the soldiers of Australia during the war, so were they subdued in defeat when General MacArthur arrived to occupy their country. I do not accept the quiescence of the Japanese under occupation as evidence of their sincerity, and I have yet to be convinced that our attempts to democratize Japan have been successful. Japan’s history is exceptional. For 250 years, from the middle of the sixteenth century onwards, the Japanese people lived in self-imposed isolation. During that period, only a few ships from China visited Japanese ports, and two Dutch vessels called annually. Yet, in a little more than half a century, Japan caught up with the technological progress of the rest of the world. Now we are being told that we should permit Japan the right of unlimited rearmament. Japan is to be restored into our good graces. We all know of the ability of the Japanese to copy western industrial technique. Have we any reason to believe that they will not use this gift in the field of atomic weapons ? And having solved the secret of the atomic bomb, will Japan not seek revenge against the nations at whose hands it suffered defeat in World War II.? Japan was virtually bombed into defeat; is it not logical to assume that the Japanese will seek revenge by bombing as soon as they have regained sufficient military strength? Yet, the Government says that this treaty must be signed, and that it presents no dangers to Australia !
Senator Vincent contested the statement by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) that the leader of the Communist party in Japan welcomed this treaty. Senator Vincent said that the 22 Communists in the Japanese Diet had voted against the treaty. At the first democratic election in Japan, four Communist candidates were elected to the Japanese Diet. At the following election, 36 Communist candidates were successful; yet, Senator Vincent said that all of the 22 Communist members of the Japanese Diet had voted against the peace treaty. What has become of the other fourteen Communists ? Surely the honorable senator does not suggest that they have all been liquidated. Right wing pressure in Japan, even since the occupation, has been so severe that already there are signs that the Japanese people are being driven to communism. The Melbourne Argus of the 28th February published the following report : -
After a few years of enforced reaction, encouraged by the underlying terms of the peace treaty, the Japanese people will move steadily towards communism. They have no alternative.
Just as happened in China, we are already branding all intellectual opposition in Japan, all student movements, all trades union protests, as Communist.
Does the Government not fear the increase of Communist representation in the Japanese Diet? The Communists have cunningly copied the slogans of the Japanese militarists in World War II. Once again we hear the cry, “ Asia for the Asiatics I pay the fullest tribute to the people of the United States of America for the assistance that they gave to us in our hour of peril. Speaking in another debate in this chamber recently, Senator Wright sneeringly referred to the appeal that was made to the United States of America by “ an Australian socialist Prime Minister “. I say. “ Thank God that we had a John Curtin who was able to appeal successfully to the United States of America”. That appeal, I remind theSenate, was made by a man who had become Prime Minister of this country because dissension between members of the Liberal party - then the United Australia party - and the Australian Country party had made the anti-Labour coalition Government unworkable. In the midst of a war, members of those parties fought amongst themselves. They were run out of office and they left Australia high and dry. John Curtin’s appeal to the people of the United States of America was applauded from one end of this continent to the other.
– My reference was to John Curtin’s description of the fall of Singapore as an inexcusable betrayal.
– I am sorry if I have misrepresented the honorable senator, but I distinctly remember him speaking of a socialist Prime Minister’s appeal to America. I have the greatest admiration for the job that was done on behalf of this country by the Americans, and I give them the fullest credit for their assistance, but that would not justify me in voting in support of the ratification of a treaty such as this. I believe that we should stay our hand.
-For how long?
– That would depend on American foreign policy which, I remind the Senate, has already changed considerably. Incidentally, the United States of America has not yet ratified this treaty although it. has already been signed by more than 40 nations. The only Government supporter in this debate who has given some recognition of services that were rendered by the fighting forces of this country, is Senator Annabelle Rankin who very generously mentioned them last after those of the other nations. I believe that in the interests of Australia, ratification of the treaty should be delayed. I do not think that sufficiently forceful representations have been made on Australia’s behalf. In fact, our representations have been feeble. Therefore, I shall vote against the bill.
– I rise to support this bill, and I do so with a deep sense of responsibility. It is regrettable that the Opposition in this Parliament has not accepted the Prime Minister’s plea that this treaty be accepted as a non-party issue. Instead of that, members of the Australian Labour party have preferred to assist in a rabble-rousing campaign. We all know that Australia has no alternative to signing this treaty. It is very easy to approach this legislation in an emotional manner; it is much harder to be objective about it. I believe that when a matter involving the national safety is being discussed, it is the responsibility of the Parliament as a whole to unite the people and not to divide them. All Labour’s objections to this bill are along the Moscow line. We Australians have not forgotten the sufferings of our servicemen at the hands of the Japanese. We Uo not excuse Japanese brutality, and we shall never forget it; we do not excuse the past and we look forward to the future with great anxiety. But we must make our choice. We must choose between two risks - the danger of a rearmed Japan, aird the greater risk of a defenceless Japan, which would soon fall a prey to Communist aggression. We must choose whether to make Japan a bulwark against aggression, or leave it a defenceless prey to communism.
The Leader of the Opposition (.Senator McKenna.) said that the treaty was a repudiation of the understanding that existed among the Allied Nations in 1945, when the surrender terms were arranged. The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) dealt conclusively with that point, and proved that whatever might have been the high hopes entertained in 1945 of obtaining a solid and lasting peace, those hopes were dispelled at the San Francisco conference. I hope to refute some of the untruths told about our delegate to that conference. It was the attitude of the Soviet and its satellite states that compelled the Western democracies to take the cold war into consideration when drafting peace terms for Japan. The Soviet had been a party to all the peace discussions, and yet, in 1951, it sought at San Francisco to divide the Asians and to split the democracies. Senator Sandford, Senator Sheehan, and Senator Ashley all said that no attempt had been made at San. Francisco by Australia’s .representative to alter some of the provisions of the treaty. I have here a verbatim report of the proceedings at the San Francisco conference, and I crave the attention of the Senate while I read exactly what Mr. Spender said -
There are, Mr. President, a number of matters in this treaty - included in it as well as omitted from it - on which Australia has held views different from those which are in or result from the draft treaty. But we in Australia are a nation of realists. We know that where many nations have to agree upon a text, the views of no one nation can completely prevail. It is proper, however, that I should say that whilst acknowledging the right of Japan, as is the right of any sovereign nut ion, to bc able to contribute to its own defense, recognizing as I do the vital distinctions which exist between armed forces truly for defense and armed forces capable of being used for aggression, and whilst not suggesting that the Japanese people do not now desire to live henceforth in unity with other nations, Australia would nevertheless have wished to see included in the treaty some limitation upon Japan’s right to rearm, the lunge and composition of her defense forces, the extent of her shipbuilding capacity, the manufacture of atomic weapons, and other similar or related matters.
Therefore, it is grossly unfair and untrue to say that our delegate at .San Francisco did not attempt to have some of the provisions of the treaty altered. A treaty must he one of two things: lt must either be stern enough to command the obedience of the defeated nation, or generous enough to inspire its co-operation. In the Japanese peace treaty, the democracies sought to avoid the errors of the Versailles treaty, errors which were repeated in regard to Germany after the last war. Thus, the treaty has for its object, not only the protection of the conquerors of Japan, hut also the protection of Japan itself.
Japan will have to work desperately hard if it is to win the confidence and respect of the other nations, and time alone will show how it acquits itself. At the moment, we have no alternative but to give it the opportunity to prove worthy of the trust. Nothing wiuld suit the Soviet better at this moment than that there should be n. wrangle between Pacific nations over Japan. The three most contentious decisions in the treaty are, first, that it restores full sovereignty to Japan , secondly, that it calls for the withdrawal of occupation forces, and imposes no restriction on Japanese rearmament; and, thirdly, that it makes no provision for the payment of reparations. Whilst restoring full sovereignty, the treaty also requires Japan to seek immediately full membership of the United Nations, and Japan agrees to accept the basic obligations of United Nations membership, to refrain from aggression, to settle disputes peacefully, and to assist the United Nations to maintain peace. There has been talk in this chamber of the Japanese constitution, and although Opposition senators have referred to provisions in the constitution regarding rearmament they did not mention that the Japanese constitution provides for general suffrage, and also for a hill of rights. Within the framework of its own constitution, Japan has the provisions necessary to make itself into a democratic nation. When Senator Willesee was speaking last night, Senator Robertson interjected that the women of Japan now have a vote. Senator Willesee replied that his mother used to say to- him that women should never be allowed to attend a football match or to vote at elections. That remark showed the immaturity of Senator Willesee’s mind. I remind him that he stood in his place in this Senate last night because he had received the vote of women of his party in Western Australia. I hope that they will not forget what he said. Women in Japan to-day are taking a great interest in national and international affairs, and it may well he that those women who before the occupation were only chattels with no voice in affairs at all, will henceforth prove the most stabilizing influence for peace in their country.
The Japanese treaty recognizes the territorial provisions of the Potsdam Agreement whereby Japan lost 45 per cent, of its territory and resources. The effect of this will be that the Japanese will have to work desperately hard to feed themselves. The population of Japan ia about S-7,000,000 and it is estimated that, by 1960 the population will be between 100,000,000 and 110,000,000. The area of arable land in Japan is only about onefifteenth of the area of New South Wales, so we can readily understand that if we were to place additional burdens on the Japanese people by limiting their right to obtain food and raw materials, we should force them into the Soviet *bloc.
The treaty also calls for the withdrawal of Allied occupation forces from Japan, and places no restriction on Japanese rearmament. These are the most criticized portions of the treaty in Australia and, as I have pointed out, Australia’s representative at the San Francisco conference tried to have them altered. The intentions of Soviet Russia were made very clear at that conference. The Russians demanded that the Allied occupation forces should be withdrawn within 90 days of the treaty coming into force, and they . >so demanded that Japan should not be allowed to enter into any collective security arrangement for its own protection. Had that proposal been accepted there would have been, as Senator Pearson pointed out, a power vacuum in Japan which would very soon have been exploited by the Communists. The treaty as finally drawn provides that, although the occupation forces are to be withdrawn within 90 days of the treaty coming into force, Japan may enter into negotiations with the United States of America, which it has already done, for its own protection. That is a very important provision for Australia. Russia demanded that this privilege should not be given to Japan, but it overlooked the fact that, as a sovereign state, Japan possesses the inherent right, under the United Nations Charter, to enter into security arrangements for its own protection.
Admittedly, the rearmament of Japan constitutes a grave risk for Australia. No thinking person in Australia has any doubt of that, but as Senator Pearson said, and as I emphasize, if we were to leave Japan defenceless, there would be a power vacuum in the Ear East. Another reason for our accepting the treaty is that Australia is in no position to insist that Japan shall remain unarmed. The United States of America has already made it clear that it is not prepared to stand guard over Japan permanently.
As Senator Pearson pointed out it is to the credit of the Leader of the Opposition that, in his speech, he placed on record his recognition of the debt that Australia and the whole civilized world owe to the United States of America. America has poured two billion dollars into Japan for the purchase of food and raw materials. It has suffered enormously in Korea, and recently has increased considerably the size of its permanent army. To-day, the American Government feels that it can no longer ask the American taxpayers to bear the whole burden of the defence of the Western democracies. Experience has proved that it is impossible to enforce restrictions upon armaments. We tried to enforce such restrictions after the 1918 war, and failed in the attempt. It is well to bear in mind also that an attempt to enforce such restrictions breeds nationalism in its most dangerous form.
The important question of reparations has been described by the Prime Minister as being probably the most controversial matter in peace-making. Claims were advanced for the payment of approximately £4,500,000,000. If we had insisted that Japan should pay that amount as reparations, we should have set it a task beyond its capacity to bear, and increased the risk of unemployment and financial crises occurring in the victor countries. In Article 16 of the treaty, Japan agrees to indemnify Allied prisoners of war by transferring its assets in neutral countries to the International Red Cross. Some remarkable statements have been made about this treaty. Some honorable senators have said that we should not ratify it now, and others have said that we should not ratify it at all. I believe with all my heart that it is regrettable that greater generosity was not shown to Australian servicemen who were prisoners of war of the Japanese, but I point out that Article 25 of the treaty contains the following words : -
For the purposes of the present Treaty the Allied Powers shall be the States at war with Japan, or any State which previously formed a part of the territory of a State named in Article 23, provided that in each case the State concerned has signed and ratified the Treaty.
If Australia does not ratify the treaty, Australians who were prisoners of war of the Japanese will receive no compensation. That is a matter that honorable senators opposite should think about.
Senator Willesee said last night that Australia is Japan’s nearest neighbour. That is not quite correct. This evening, there were some women from the Philippines present in the chamber. The Filipinos, who are very near neighbours of the Japanese, suffered from Japanese aggression more than did any other nation. They lost over 1,000,000 of their population of 18,000,000. They were subjected to brutal aggression, and their economy was destroyed. Nevertheless, at the San Francisco Conference, Carlos Romulo, the Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs, addressed the following words to the Japanese people on behalf of the people of the Philippines : -
You have done us a grievous injury, and words can never repair it nor all the gold and worldly goods you have. But fate has decreed that we must live together as neighbours, and as neighbours we shall live in peace.
I say to the Australian people that Japan did us a grievous injury which nothing will ever repair. But peace cannot be obtained through conferences and treaties. It is a thing of the heart and of the spirit. This treaty, ratified by the nations of the world, will be worth only as much as the confidence of the people of the nations which signed it. I support the hill.
– One honorable senator opposite described this treaty as a just treaty. Having made that bald statement, he lapsed into a state of confusion. He did not tell us why the treaty was just, nor did he explain whether the justice of the treaty extended to the peoples of the countries that have signed the document. He did not deal in any way with the common people of Japan. Re did not say whether the treaty was just from the viewpoint of the ordinary working people of that country. Doubtless what he had in mind was that the treaty was just from the viewpoint of the Japanese military caste. He was not worried about the welfare of the working masses of Japan, who have never experienced better conditions than those that they have enjoyed during the occupation of their country by the United Nations. During that period, they have been relieved of many of their burdens, one of which was the necessity to support the Japanese military caste and to pay for preparations for war. When the honorable senator referred to the voting in the Japanese Parliament upon the treaty, he cited some figures and stated that one political party, 22 in number, voted against the signing of the treaty.
– The Communist party.
– It is probable that the members of that party disapproved of that treaty because they had some interest in the welfare of the working masses of Japan.
Some honorable senators opposite referred to the conferences that have taken place since the commencement of World War II. They referred to. the Inter-Allied Resolution on Mutual Association, which was passed in 1941; to the Atlantic Charter, which was the subject of a conference in August, 1941 ; anc! to the Inter-Allied Resolution on Post-war Reconstruction, which was passed in 1941. During the last war, the Allies found that it was necessary to confer upon, not only their immediate problems, but also the problems that they knew would arise when the war ended. Conferences were necessary to discuss the prosecution of the war and’ to decide how conquered countries should be occupied. Each of the Allied nations assumed that the war would be won by the Allies. There was the United Nations declaration in 1942, the Moscow declaration of 1943, the Breton Woods agreement of 1944, the Dumbarton Oaks proposals of 1944. the Potsdam declaration of 1945, the San Francisco conference of the United Nations of 1945, and the conference about the prosecution of war criminals that was held in 1945. We have heard from honorable senators opposite something about those conferences. We can ascertain the matters that were discussed at .them, and we can read the statements that were made and the conclusions that were reached. But is it to be believed that Japan also did not hold conferences during the war with the countries it had conquered and those in which it found collaborators? Are we asked to believe that during the war Japan did not have conferences with Burma, Indo-China, Malaya and Indonesia ? There is no doubt that such conferences were held. It is logical to assume that the occupation and holding of Australia after the war was one of the subjects that was discussed at those conferences, but the subjects that were discussed and the decisions that were made have not yet come to light, and it is not possible at this stage to discuss what transpired between Japan and the countries that it conquered during the early part of the war.
The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer), in his second -reading speech, stated that the Australian Government is not wholly satisfied with the treaty, hut he did not indicate what part of the treaty does not meet with the approval of the Government. He did not enlarge upon that statement. This treaty is not an ordinary business document. It is a. treaty of peace with Japan. If the Government objects to any feature of the treaty, its duty is to tell the Australian people exactly what part of the treaty is objectionable to it. The citizens of Australia are asking themselves what feature of the treaty is objectionable to the Government. They want to know why the Government signed a document that does not wholly meet with its approval. Recently, the Senate discussed international affairs. Each honorable senator who contributed to that discussion did so in the belief that Australia was an independent sovereign nation, about to decide its own course in international affairs. But this treaty has dissipated that belief completely. Now, Australia is on the American band wagon, prepared to do as it is told by the United States of America.
I have no doubt that the United States of America had its own reasons for preparing the treaty in the way that it did. That country is not obliged to take the view of Japan that Australia must take. I have no doubt that during the period of occupation the American authorities examined Japan very closely and ascertained that it had no uranium, deposits. Consequently they would be aware that Japan could not engage in atomic warfare, perhaps at any time, because of a lack of uranium. The United States of America would therefore know that Japan could not be a serious menace to its territory. America has a ring of bases around Japan and if that country is not able to use the atomic weapon it can never be a. danger to the United States of America. And so the United States of America, knowing that it is quite safe from a Japanese threat of invasion, is quite prepared to allow the Japanese to rearm. So the treaty, having been considered by the Government of the United States of
America to be satisfactory, has been forced on the governments of other nations and thrust, down their throats as it has been thrust down the throat of the Australian Government. Australia is like a little chick following the American hen. We are one of the small nations which must fall in behind a more powerful nation. The leadership must come from the more powerful nations and the most powerful nation in the Pacific to which Australia may look for assistance is the American nation.
Honorable senators have been told during the debate that they must face this matter realistically - that they must not exercise any imagination or construct any theories. It was most noticeable that those Government senators who had anything to say about being realistic immediately embarked, upon the presentation of theories as to what might happen in ten or fifteen years’ time, and ignored present-day facts. This treaty has been based upon two assumptions. The first is that after the signing of the treaty Japan will immediately fall in on the side of the signatories. The second assumption is that because of the spread of communism it is only a matter of two or three years before there will be a serious conflict in the Pacific between the non-Communist nations and the Communist-governed nations. The Government is looking to Japan as our saviour. What is Japan’s record? When Japan is fully armed will people be able to say, “ I feel much safer now that Japan is fully armed. I do not fear any communistic aggression?” Will the people sleep more peacefully when Japan is fully armed? What has been Japan’s relationship with Australia in the past? What has it done to deserve the credit that it has been given by honorable senators opposite? We have always adopted a condescending attitude to Japan, as has America and all the white races. We have tolerated Japan, and we have paid for adopting that attitude. Japan has proved to be the greatest copyist that the world has known. Before the war it was possible to buy in any town in Australia crockery bearing the finest English designs, but which had been made in Japan. Silk and cotton piece-goods imported from Japan compared in quality with piece-goods manufactured in other parts of the world. We allowed ourselves to be hoodwinked. We thought that we were getting goods cheaply. From Australia, Japan bought wool and pig-iron and converted the pig-iron into hardware and re-exported it to Australia. Japan manufactured our wool into textiles and re-exported it to Australia. We regarded ourselves as the clever people and we looked down upon the Japanese. Their guile was too deep for Australia and other countries to observe. So what should have been done was never done. For instance, the secret services of the democracies operated in European countries. Their attitude towards Japan could be expressed in the following terms : - Japan had nothing to warrant the employment of a secret service there. It had a fleet, no doubt, but the men who manned it were half blind and their marksmanship was very much at fault. It had an air force but no man could fly it. It had an army but it was too ill-equipped to be taken seriously. I shall quote a few lines in order to indicate America’s outlook on Japan before the war -
Japan as a snarling menace to our national security, ready and anxious to pounce upon its with bared fangs* Ridiculous! Poppycock! Absurd! Our alarmists, who glance fearfully across the broad Pacific at a tiny nation of islanders, are like a large fighting cock ruffling its neck feathers and brandishing its spurs at the doings of a week-old chick, industriously scratching away in the barnyard. We may want a large fleet and a bigger army, but let us not be hoodwinked by balderdash into believing we need them as protection against Japan.
Those were the thoughts of the United States of America prior to the last war, and they were also the thoughts of Australia. The truth was that Japanese professional men were equal to those of any other nation. Industrially, Japan was as good as any other nation. In engineering its accomplishments were equal to those of any other nation. So when the war came what did this despised Asiatic nation do? Australia sent Wirraways up to meet the Zeros, and what happened is now history. That is how we regarded Japan prior to the war and that is how some of us are inclined to regard it at the present time - as a nation of backward, uneducated people who cannot think for themselves. We were deceived before, and it is possible that we may be deceived now. During the conferences of the Allied powers that were held during the war, consideration was given to the question of what nation should occupy Japan at the conclusion of the war. It was seriously thought that the proper nation to do such a thing would be an Asiatic nation - that China should occupy Japan and give a lead to the Japanese people. If that had taken place the result would have been a short-cut to the communization of Japan. For that reason, I am of the opinion that it is possible, in the course of these serious deliberations, to make an error, conscientiously believing that one is doing what is for the best.
During the occupation an attempt was made to democratize Japan. Democracy is not easily accepted by a country that is not accustomed to democratic ways. We speak and think lightly about democracy, but we do not appreciate its significance. We do not know how we have come by it or why we continue to have it and expand it. For generations we have elected captains of our school-hoy teams. Sporting bodies elect their officials. Democracy pervades our country. It is an established force, but one is confronted with a great difficulty in endeavouring to make another country adopt our methods. Japan has not beer a democratic country. It was ruled by a military clique for years. Militarism held sway and democracy was an entirely foreign ideology. No one will seriously state that Japan has even been slightly democratized because of the occupation of that country by the United States of America. It still does not know anything about democracy, but now that the treaty has beer signed the gates are open for a full rearmament programme. Any respect for democracy that the Japanese did cultivate has been entirely dissipated and the militaristic theme has come to the fore once more. A political militaristic caste will govern Japan again. Japan’s culture and its attitude to religion has changed from time to time. There was a time when the Japanese government banned the teaching of Christianity, but it lifted the ban later, believing that no inroad could be made by Christianity into the minds of the Japanese people.
What is the general economic position of Japan at present? Japan has a territory of 150,000 square miles and a population of S0,000,000 people. Australia has 2,947,000 square miles and a population of 8,500,000 people. The economic position of Australia is the complete reverse of that which exists in Japan. Japan must find a spillway for its quickly increasing population, and it must, therefore, look towards Australia and New Guinea. Japan must import raw materials. From what country is it to obtain them? Japan will rearm itself once more. It will be fully prepared for war within another two or three years and then what will happen? Will it be a buffer between the Western democracies and communism? I do not believe that it will be. Japan has never taken a course that has not suited its national interests. When the Japanese are fully organized they will look around for an outlet for their excess population, and will seek and demand raw materials. First, Japan will go back over the tracks that it traversed during World War II. Probably the first country to which it will look will be Burma, where it will win victory as easily as it did last time. What a prize Burma would be for Japan ! From Burma, what would prevent Japan from going to Indo-China? Even with the small preparation for war that Japan has made already I have no doubt that the Japanese could take Indo-China next week if they so desired. During the last war we frequently heard the slogan, “ Asia for the Asiatics “. That cry has not died out. Not only Japan, but also the countries that the Japanese troops invaded, remember it. Japan will obtain co-operation from those countries. From Indo-China the Japanese could go to Malaya and Indonesia without much trouble. What prizes are those countries ! Japan would then be able to obtain all the raw materials that it required for its industries. Furthermore, Japan has the national capacity to industrialize those countries. Japan could become the greatest power in the Pacific, able to match its powers successfully against opposing nations. Japan would then have at its command ample man-power and materials, and it would be so strategically placed in the world that it would be able to withstand any onslaught. Yet the Government says, “ Sign the treaty as a token of goodwill towards Japan “. Does any honorable senator believe for a moment that if ever a crisis arose again between Australia and Japan,. Japan would be merciful towards Australia because we had ratified the treaty? I am sure that no honorable senator really believes that kind of rubbish. Japan’s attitude to-day is not different from its attitude during the last war, and it is not likely to change its ways, if we ratify the treaty we will open the door to Japanese rearmament and also for Japan to enter Asiatic countries other than India, Pakistan and China. In effect, we will pass those countries over to Japan. They are there for the taking, and no doubt Japan has designs upon them. A new order for Asia will be attempted once more by the Japanese. Japan will become the chief ruler in Asia. There would be nothing much that we could do to prevent that from coming about. If that situation arises Australia will have to contend with Communist countries such as China and Korea in the Pacific, as well as heavily and efficiently armed Asiatic forces at its back door. The risk is too great.
– A degree of irresponsibility has been manifested in many of the speeches of honorable senators opposite, particularly in Senator Benn’s speech, which was against the best interests of this country. Constant railing at the United States of America is something that the Senate would do well to avoid completely. I can see nothing wrong with the suggestion that, as the United States of America bore the lion’s share of the burden of fighting the war in the Pacific, it should have the lion’s share in determining the terms of the treaty. We shall not understand foreign politics unless we appreciate this point of view. It is all very well for Senator Benn to say that as we are a free, sovereign, independent nation we can do as we like. I am a free citizen and I can do as I like. If I like to throw my money through the window, and ruin myself I can do so, but would any sensible person advise me to do that? What Australian does is determined by what it can do. We all know that what we can do in the sphere of international affairs is limited by our productive power, population and many other things. The United States of America is a great country which a century ago passed through the stage that we are now in. It has much gi-eater potential resources than our known resources. Therefore we have to cut our suit according to our cloth. That is the only sensible approach to this subject. Senator Benn asked what was just in the proposed treaty. He accused some one, whom he did not name, of saying that it was just, but of neglecting to say in what respect. Indeed, I have wondered whether the honorable senator has read the treaty. It provides, amongst other things, that Japan renounces all right to Korea., Formosa, and the Kurile Islands, and that Japan shall be excluded from the Antarctic. Can it be claimed that those provisions are not just? Can it he contended that it is not just to Australia that Japan should be excluded from the Antarctic, particularly in view of the fact that Japanese activities just prior to World War II. were ruining the Antarctic fishing grounds? Is it not just that people who have not learned to respect the rights of other peoples should be excluded from their countries? It is absurd to pretend that by ratification of the treaty we shall be imposing a light and soft peace, lt is a just peace after a period of purgation. I do not know what period of purgation the Opposition believes should transpire. If a country is to be held down for ever there must be available more effective means of doing so than we possess. We could do that only with the assistance of our Allies. But our Allies have told us that they are finished. Not one member of the Opposition has advocated that Australia should put an occupation force into Japan. Therefore many of the speeches of Opposition senators have been irresponsible. I do not judge treaties by some imaginary social theory or philosophy built up out of the brains of a bookworm, but rather by treaties that have succeeded and failed in the past. It has been suggested that we should have a hard treaty. Several centuries ago the Romans obliterated the City of Carthage, sold the survivors into slavery and made sure that the city would not rise again. But it is of no use our pretending that we are the sort of people to carry out that kind of policy. Coming to recent times, most of us considered that the Treaty of Versailles was just. Although I do not agree with many of the criticisms of that treaty, it was a fundamental treaty. The Allies dictated a treaty which could only have been carried out by the United States of America, France and Great Britain if they were prepared to stand together and enforce it. Germany could have been held down for a longer period than it was if that had been a condition of the treaty. But what happened? No sooner was World War I. over than the United States of America bolted back into isolationism. Australia and the other Allied nations wanted no further participation in European affairs, and as the British and French failed to agree on matters of policy the coalition that had beaten Germany was broken up. A hard peace could not be enforced in those conditions. A benevolent peace was that which was signed with France in 1S15 after Napoleon had ravaged Europe. Those who had fought him, led by Great Britain, gave France a peace which did not take away one acre of legitimate French territory. France and Great Britain have not been at war since then. Three separate ententes have been signed. The whole history of peace-making shows that the instant the peace is made, new forces which were not considered by the people who drew up the document come into operation. Unless the enemy is to be obliterated, ultimately there must be some terms of reconciliation. This treaty is a just and sensible attempt at conciliation. While I will not say one word which may be construed as favouring the Japanese. I do not know any method of drawing up an indictment against a whole people. I have never been to Japan, but I know people who have lived there and are honorable citizens of this country. They tell me that the Japanese people are not wholly bad. They have known instances of clemency, kindness and honorable dealing among all classes of Japanese. Honorable senators, recall the brutalities of the recent war ; but all wars are brutal, and our conduct for generations to come cannot be judged simply by the natural feeling that we may possess about brutalities that we may have witnessed. This is a necessary peace of healing and reconciliation. It has within it all the guarantees for protecting Australia against Japan for as long a period as one can do that by guarantees. Japan renounces various islands. The United States of America, acting under the United Nations, will have virtual sovereignty over those islands. They can be used as bases, and Japan can be held quite safely for as far ahead as we can see. I have noted a strange contradiction emanating from honorable senators on the opposite side of the chamber. Some honorable senators have said that Japan will soon become mighty and a menace to others. Others have said that Japan cannot become mighty because the United States of America is holding it down. Nobody can guarantee that a nation will not become an aggressor. The Japanese form of aggression was particularly virulent but there are enough forces in Asia to counter-balance Japan in the future.
Only two lines of action are open to us in Australia. We can accept this peace just as other nations have accepted it, or we can adopt a futile, irresolute gesture and try to make political capital out of it. I believe that it is correct to say that there are two totally distinct attitudes on the opposite side of the chamber. Those who subscribe to one attitude are like Pilate. They wash their hands of the treaty but do nothing to alter it. That is the attitude of the official leaders of the Australian Labour party. If they were sitting on the Government benches they would not clare to take the responsibility of refusing to sign the treaty, for no good could come of such an action. At least four honorable senators opposite have have shown by their attitude that they sympathize with Russia notwithstanding that the plain fact in the world situation to-day is that the one serious menace to world peace is the Soviet Union and its satellites.
This may be a short-term policy. Most policies have to be for short terms. We cannot look far ahead and know definitely what we should do for generation after generation, and so the only sensible thing is to take these people under our direction hoping that they will become a regenerate people and that better conditions for the common man will slowly spread through Japan. It is absurd for Senator Benn or for anybody else to talk as though we could alter the whole outlook of the Japanese. Only the Japanese people themselves can do that. The Allies have done the initial work in clearing away the rubbish. Now, in effect, they are telling the Japanese people that they are among the peoples of the earth, though not in the mighty place that they occupied before, and stripped of a great deal of their territory and wealth. The Japanese are being told that their conquerors are taking naval bases which will keep them encircled for a long time, but if they behave as a self-respecting nation, the future should be right for them. Because we remember the horrors of the last war, we should not believe that the Japanese nation has always been a bad ally. It is only just to remember that in World War I. the Japanese were our allies. The first contingent of the Australian Imperial Force which went to Europe was escorted partly by Japanese cruisers and the relations between Great Britain and Japan when it was governed by the elder statesmen who carried through the evolution of Japan of the last century, were perfectly good. Honorable senators opposite who talk about the militaristic class should learn to discriminate. I spoke to a gentleman in Hobart who had lived most of his life in Japan. When I mentioned various Japanese families to him, he told me that there were good and bad among them. We need more knowledge of that aspect of Japanese life before we dismiss the treaty in the casual way of some honorable senators opposite. This treaty is necessary. With the exception of one or two provisions which cannot be altered, it is acceptable to the people of this country and it gives us a starting point from which we can proceed forward on a peaceful path.
.-The treaty that is before the Senate and which honorable senators on this side of the chamber criticize is not wholly satisfactory to the Government. The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer), in introducing the bill, frankly admitted that the Government had some misgivings about this treaty. That, I think, was as far as he went. He did not explain to the Senate and to the people of Australia the direction in which those misgivings lie. We all have misgivings about this treaty. An honorable senator opposite has said that the Opposition is opposing the bil] because the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had something to do with the formulation of the. treaty. The Prime Minister and our representatives at Washington had no more to do with the drafting of the treaty than did any member of the Opposition. The foreign policy of this Government has in no way influenced the drafting of this document. It was drafted without consideration of Australia’s rights or claims. That is one of the reasons why we have so many misgivings about it. Under the terms of the treaty Japan is to be raised to the full status of a free and sovereign nation, ft has been given the unconditional right to rearm. It may enter into collective security agreements with other nations without restriction. The Government assumes, because it is politically expedient for it to do so, that any collective security agreements that Japan makes will be made with the United States of America, and, perhaps, Australia. I am afraid that if Japan again becomes a powerful nation - and there does not seem to be anything in this treaty that will prevent it from so doing - it will make collective security agreements with nations that are so situated geographically as to benefit the defence of Japan. The Government has blithely accused the Opposition of having criticized the. United States of America in relation to this treaty. We have offered no criticism of that country. We have simply said that the Americans have done a good job for their country and that the Japanese have done likewise. What we are con cerned about is what this Government has done for Australia. Has it protected Australia’s interests in this treaty which it now asks the Parliament to ratify? Not at all. Recently the Labour party was criticized for having, when it occupied the Government benches, refused to cede Manus Island to another nation. That refusal was based upon the advice of the service chiefs. It is solely the fault of this Government that the installations that were established by the Americans on Manus Island have been over-run by the jungle. What is there in. this treaty that will in any way assist the defence of Australia? Senator Wedgwood said that under Article 16 of the treaty Japan has agreed to cede to the United Nations all its assets in neutral countries, and that these assets shall be liquidated by the international committee of the Red Cross and the proceeds distributed to prisoners of war and their dependants. Thus, it is proposed that Japan shall relieve the Government of its obligation to indemnify the members of the armed forces who suffered undue hardship while they were in the hands of the Japanese. Will those assets include assets held by the banks on behalf of Japanese interests? The Government of the United States of America has already paid compensation to American prisoners of war who suffered at the hands of the Japanese. This Government has done nothing for our former prisoners of war, nor has it extracted from Japan what could be regarded as a token payment with which to meet our responsibilities to them and to the dependants of those who lost their lives in the war against Japan.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) was criticized for having asked why a treaty with Japan should he made with such haste. Why should we be asked to ratify the treaty before the Americans and other Allied powers have done so? The Government appears to bo more concerned about our obligations to Japan than about the obligations of Japan to Australia. The debate on this bill has largely centered on the defence of Australia. There has been speculation as to whether, in a future conflict, the United States of America will come to our aid, or whether it will remain neutral for a considerable period as it did during both world wars. The Japanese, by attacking Pearl Harbour while their representatives were negotiating with the representatives of the United States of America at Washington, made a fatal mistake. They were defeated as the result of their duplicity. I have been to Japan and I have seen something of the great war potential of that country. If, instead of striking at Pearl Harbour the Japanese had struck at Australia the war would have ended in a different way and this country would no longer be under our control. By striking first at Pearl Harbour the Japanese brought America into the conflict, and that led to their undoing. As a matter of fact, that attack was launched while America was mobilizing to defend itself by using Australia as a base. The Americans did an excellent job in Australia, which we appreciate and of which they may be justly proud. But America’s own records show that at one time it was proposed to leave Australia to its fate. That policy was that Australia would be abandoned, but would be retaken from the Japanese by the Allied powers at some future date. Had the Japanese been allowed to take Australia, the hope of the future recapture of Australia from the Japanese would have been small compensation to the Australian people, including the wives and families of our men who were fighting at that time in the Middle East, for having to live under Japanese rule. I am merely giving the facts about that matter and have no intention to criticize America in relation to it.
What has occasioned the need for haste in ratifying this treaty? The granting to Japan of most-favoured-nation treatment is implicit in the ratification of this treaty, but the Government has already been very generous towards our former enemy by letting out big orders for military clothing to firms in Japan. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) was in Japan when I was there, and he knows the potential of the Japanese textile industry and the low cost at which it can manufacture clothing. Yet the Government let those contracts to
Japanese firms and stated through its supporters in this chamber that its action did not imperil the Australian clothing industry. As a matter of fact it was claimed that the contracts had been let to Japanese firms in order to relieve pressure on our own textile industry. What did the Australian manufacturers of clothing have to say about that claim? They produced figures, which were cited in this chamber, to show that the letting of the contracts had interfered markedly with their business, and to-day, we have unemployment manifesting itself in the textile industry. ‘
Prior to the outbreak of the Korean war, our representative in Japan wanted Allied forces to be maintained in South Korea, but we were brushed aside. In 194S, a. strong American delegation representing chambers of commerce_ and similar interests visited Japan and on its return to America asked questions about whether the costs of the occupation of Japan by American troops were to be met in part by the Japanese or wholly by the taxpayers of America. America’s policy changed in Southern Korea very smartly when this delegation went back to America. The American forces were withdrawn and the South Korean’s position weakened greatly as a result. No honorable senator can- honestly claim that there had not already been interruptions of friendly relations between North Korea and South Korea long before the present conflict finally broke out. At one stage the North Koreans cut off hydro-electric power from South Korea, and prohibited the movement of people across the border at the 38th Parallel. At that time there were far more serious border incidents than those that finally precipitated the war, but nothing came of them because America, Australia, Britain, and other nations interested in the occupation of South Korea and Japan, had agreed to maintain forces in South Korea. The result of the presence of these forces was that when North Korea threatened South Korea, it found itself faced with real strength and quickly backed down. The supply of hydro-electric power to South Korea was then restored, the passage of people across the border was again permitted, and
North Korea began to trade with South Korea for raw materials, which it had previously refused to do. The ability of North Korea to invade South Korea at a later date with some degree of success, arose from the fact that the Allies withdrew their forces from South Korea and left a military vacuum there. The result was that we had to win back a foothold in the Korean peninsula at great cost. If we had stayed in South Korea originally we could have maintained peace in the area. That fact was proved on the previous occasion that I have mentioned, when the North Koreans had to back down in face of the Allied forces.
If, under this treaty, we seek the co-operation of Japan to contain communism, then let us ensure that we are strong enough to convince the Japanese that we are the best allies that they could have in a world conflict. If Japan were convinced that the democracies were the weaker of the two world forces, then it might ally itself with our enemies, and this treaty would prove to be a dastardly failure. If, on the other hand, we can convince Japan that the preponderant strength lies with us, despite statements that have appeared in the press and have emanated from members of the Government, then the treaty will prove to be a success. When I was in Japan I talked with the union leaders and with the leaders of conservative parties on this point. Their attitude was that Japan was prepared to accept assistance and friendship only from nations that were strong enough to give it protection in an alliance. I countered that view by pointing out to those Japanese leaders that they had selected totalitarian countries as their allies in the last war at a time when it looked almost certain that they would not be defeated. I said to them, “ You made a mistake that time, did you not? Do you think that after accepting Russia as an ally you could save your people from enslavement ? “ They replied that the Australian press itself had shown them how strong communism was. They said that we apparently could not defeat communism in Malaya. They told me that the Australian press and members of the present Government had made statements to the effect that Australia was whiteanted with communism, and that if they were relying on us to defend them against communism they would not have much to rely on, because our own leading politicians had made it clear that we could not defend ourselves against communism, far less defend them against it. That is hard reasoning to argue against, yet it was based on propaganda that emanated from the leaders of the present Government. We must be careful about the statements that we make in relation to the Pacific problem, because although the Asiatic mind is full of duplicity it is also very simple in a way and is apt to accept as truth propaganda that has been issued for purely political purposes.
I turn now to Chapter V., Article 14 of the proposed treaty which deals with claims and property. I shall not read the article in full to the Senate, although I doubt whether more than a few honorable senators on the Government side have read it. The article sets out thoroughly what can be done in relation to the property, although it does not say how it will be done. Under this article, contracts that existed between Japanese interests and interests in other nations prior to the war may be revived. Before the war there existed a company which was formed o.f Japanese and Australian business interests and in which -many prominent Australians and some members of the present Government were vitally interested, the profits of which were divided in the ratio of 51 per cent, to the Japanese shareholders and 49 per cent, to the Australian shareholders. Under this article that company could be re-established. The profits that it made were tremendous and were derived as a result of the exploitation of Japanese workers and the destruction of the Australian market by the importation of cheap Japanese goods with which Australian industries could not compete. While I was in Japan I was approached by a Japanese business leader who asked me to ascertain whether, at that time, this company, which had ceased to operate when the war in the Pacific broke out, could be re-established. I have no objection to the resumption of trade with
Japan provided that living standards in this country are not to be impaired. The unrestricted importation of Japanese goods into this country could set our industries back five decades. Not many years ago, this country was flooded with Japanese goods by importing organizations and it is quite apparent to me that we shall soon be faced with a similar situation. Already our trade balances are drifting. Senator McCallum said that Australia must cut its coat to suit its cloth. He meant that in international councils, Australia’s voice would be measured by our strength as a nation, which of course, depends upon the strength of our economy and the ability of our industries to provide the arms and materiel that would be required to defend this country should we again become isolated from overseas supplies. Our heavy industries of which Labour laid the foundation must be developed. Every effort must be made to increase the supply of electric power, and to extend water conservation schemes. Our secondary industries must be strong and virile. Will the ratification of this treaty help us to do these things? I submit that it will not. Undoubtedly, this treaty will be followed by a variety of trade treaties of the kind that we had with Japan before World War II. I am not criticizing America. The United States of America has no interest in encouraging the export of Japanese goods to this country, but unfortunately many people in this community will be only too eager to seek Japanese imports, just as they were eager to let contracts for ,the manufacture of clothing to Japanese manufacturers. That is why we want the ratification of this treaty to be delayed. It is with a sore heart that I read letters of the kind that I now have before me from the father of a lad who died while working as a prisoner of war on the infamous Thailand-Burma railway in 1942. Until 1945 the soldier’s fate was in doubt, but the hop?s of his parents were dashed when they were informed that he had died while a prisoner of the Japanese. The letter tells of how they made sacrifices to enable their son to be trained as an architect. I know these people well. They are good people; but their experiences have broken their health.
In contrast with the generous provisions of the treaty relating to the restoration of Japanese trade, are the niggardly provisions for the payment of compensation to people who suffered at the hands of the Japanese during the war. I refer particularly to prisoners of war. I repeat that the Government is acting in too much haste. It will be to our everlasting shame if we ratify this treaty in the absence of adequate safeguards for our future security. Again I urge the Government to stay its hand until a more just treaty can be devised.
– Order ! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– In our discussion of this treaty we appear to have lost sight of a very important matter. I refer to the question whether we should allow any further wars in future. After World War I. there was wide discussion of the measures that should be adopted to preserve world peace. Then the Allied nations prepared a peace treaty, which, unfortunately, was harsh. After a few years had elapsed, the treaty was so amended that the heavy industries of both Great Britain and the United States of America were able to supply Germany with all the materials that it required to rearm. Germany was permitted to rearm on the excuse that the Germans would fight bolshevism. That was the bogy in those days, just as communism is the bogy to-day. We are told now that Japan is to be rearmed to protect the world from communism. We all know that in the years between the two world wars British and American capitalists lent large sums of money to Germany. The Bank of England alone provided Germany with £40,000,000 for rearmament. At that time Sir Montague Norman, the chairman of the bank, said, “ Better that we should lose this money than that nazi-ism should fall “. Germany was strengthened to fight Russia, but the Germans double-crossed the Allies. History is repeating itself. We are allowing Japan to rearm in complete disregard of our international agreements and of the United Nations Charter. Throughout the Minister’s second-reading speech we find apologies for this treaty. In his early remarks he said -
It has been made clear that the Government is by no means wholly satisfied with this treaty.
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,-
He continued -
I agree that we are faced with a dilemma.
Later, he said -
The Australian Government has not been happy at the fact that Japan’s right to rearm is to be restored without any limitations.
The Minister, throughout his speech, revealed the Government’s fear that a rearmed Japan would be a menace to Australia. He also adopted an apologetic tone. Despite the statements of honorable senators who sit on the Government back benches that this treaty is just and necessary, the Minister said that the Government was uneasy about it and was faced with a dilemma in having to ask the Parliament to ratify it. That fear need not have arisen had the Government been honest with itself.
All honorable senators are aware that the great powers drew up the United Nations Charter for the purpose of preventing war in the future. That action was supported in the knowledge that all wars are caused by powerful nations which seek to divide the world among themselves. The object of the United Nations Charter was to prevent the reoccurrence of war and the organization evolved machinery to enable it to achieve that purpose. All of the allied nations that participated in World War II”. signed the charter, and the five great powers were entrusted with the task of ensuring that the charter was implemented and observed. A part of the instrument of the Japanese surrender was an agreement whereby the Japanese accepted the terms of the Potsdam Agreement.
– That has nothing to do with this treaty.
– Honorable senators opposite may choose to close their eyes to the facts, but I am getting down to bedrock in this matter.
– Japan agreed to an instrument of surrender which it signed at Tokio Bay.
– Under the instrument of surrender, Japan undertook to agree to the terms of the Potsdam Agreement, the object of which was to preserve world peace. The Far Eastern Commission, consisting of the eleven nations that were engaged in hostilities against Japan, was set tip for the purpose of implementing the provisions of the Potsdam Agreement. Those nations, including Australia and the United States of America, unanimously agreed that Japan should not be permitted to rearm. I cite as my authority for that statement Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, which, at page 8875, summarizes the decisions of the British Commonwealth Conference on the Japanese Peace Settlement in relation to disarmament and demilitarization as follows : -
Japan should remain completely disarmed and demilitarized, all armament manufacture be prohibited, and internal order be maintained by a non-military police force. Atomic research and the development and use of atomic energy, naval construction, and the manufacture of aircraft should similarly bc prohibited while commercial shipping should be confined to insular trade; any civil airlines should be owned and operated by, or on behalf of, the supervisory powers.
Those decisions were reached unanimously by the nations that fought against Japan in World War II. and they should be incorporated in this treaty. Instead of setting up a council of foreign ministers to draft the treaty with Japan, the United States of America and Great Britain, acting behind the backs of the other nations, drafted it and then canvassed it. We are now asked to ratify this so-called peace treaty which, in my view, would be better described as a war treaty. Future generations of Australians will curse this Parliament for ratifying this treaty. Most of us will not live to witness the results. I repeat that future Australians will curse us as traitors, for having ratified this treaty. We are now turning our backs upon the machinery that was evolved by the United Nations organization for the purpose of preserving world peace. Apparently, the Government is prepared to have recourse to the United Nations Charter only when it suits its purpose to do so. By ratifying this treaty we shall not be carrying out the provisions of the charter in their entirety.
What is the explanation for the Government’s attitude? All of us know that a great deal of American money is invested in Japan for the purpose of enabling the United States of America to exploit cheap Japanese labour. Consequently, this treaty will react adversely on not only Australia, but also Great Britain and other British countries. The United States of America has a great deal of cotton which it cannot sell and it intends to ship it to Japan to be turned into manufactured goods. No doubt other countries will be flooded with those goods. The United States of America is now engaging in economic warfare. This is not a party-political matter; it should be a question of preserving world peace. However, we know that most wars have their roots in economic causes. When one nation gains control of too great a proportion of world trade, other nations resort to war in order to safeguard their interests. That is what happened in 1914. At that time, Germany practically controlled world trade and other nations were obliged to attack it for the reason I have indicated. Later, in 1939, Japan controlled so great a proportion of world trade that other nations resorted to armed force to prevent it from stretching its tentacles still further.
– To what other nations is the honorable senator referring?
– All of them but Russia.
– I have not said anything about Russia. But has any other country passed a law, as Russia has, under which war propaganda is made a crime? The Russian decree reads -
The Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics decrees:
That war propaganda, no matter what form it may take, be considered as undermining the cause of peace, as creating the threat of another war, and therefore as being a most -grave crime against humanity.
That persons guilty of war propaganda be brought to court and tried as having committed a most grave criminal offence.
Honorable senators opposite may regard it as a laughing matter, because they are completely irresponsible. They see cause for amusement in a matter that is so vital for this country. Their minds are concentrated on business. They do not attempt to safeguard the lives of the workers - the persons who really fight, suffer in, and pay for wars. Some leeches, unfortunately, made money out of the war, and they are looking for another conflict in order that they may increase their wealth.
I believe that we are entering an era of which we may be ashamed in the near future. We should be guided by the mistakes which we have made in the past. We should be determined not to repeat the experience of 1939, and be resolved to prevent another blood bath.
– How ?
– We have subscribed to the Charter of the United Nations, which provides machinery for the prevention of wars, if only we are prepared to use it. The Government asserts that Australia must ratify this peace treaty with Japan. Yet India, Burma, China and Russia, with a total population of 1,200,000,000 persons, have not ratified this treaty. The Chinese have abstained from signing it because they claim that its provisions are outside the scope of the United Nations Charter and will only encourage another war. If Japan is rearming only for the purposes of defence, why is it building long-range submarines, great warships and long-range aircraft?
– Is not Russia building long-range submarines and aircraft?
– I inform Senator Wordsworth that Japan proposes to expend 30 per cent, of its national budget on armaments during the current financial year.
– Russia is expending 2S per cent, of its national income on armaments.
– According to a news item in the Sydney Sun last Thursday, Japan has set aside 1S2,000,000,000 yen, or £182,000,000 for rearmament this year. That amount is 21 per cent, of the budget for 1952-53, but additional expenditure which will he incurred on rearmament will bring the total allocation for this financial year to 30 per cent, of the national budget.
– What about Russia’s war potential?
– I should like to respond to Senator Robertson’s invitation to discuss Russia’s war potential, but time prevents me from doing so. I must confine my remarks to the peace treaty with Japan, which is of vital concern to Australia, because the Japanese will have complete freedom to rearm. The Government claims that the Japanese must be permitted to rearm, since the forces of communism are sweeping from Russia into China and may spread to Japan. I believe that communism does not spread from one country to another. People revolt against deplorable social conditions.
– If communism does not spread from one country to another, how have the Russians managed to get into China?
– There are no Russians in China. I do not think that there are any Russians outside the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Austria and East Germany. According to our own newspapers, there are no Russians in Korea, Malay or Indo-China. The Russian penetration into China and the threat to Japan are a myth. That statement is supported by the following article, entitled “Russian Menace a Myth ! “ :-
Truth London, in an editorial in the first week last December, admitted that the “ Russian Menace is a Myth “ - and a consciously manufactured “ myth “ at that.
The editors of Truth went even further, and asked themselves for what purpose this myth was manufactured. And they caine to the following sound and logical conclusions. “ The standardization of equipment which is being forced upon Western Europe is undoubtedly a factor of considerable importance to American armament firms, as Marshall aid is of importance to both Washington and Kew York. In the role of defender of civilisation against the Soviet threat, America is managing to extend her financial and political hegemony over Europe, Asia, Africa and Australasia. Is that why the myth was invented?”
This was never a secret to millions of honest people.
In other debates I have quoted many authoritative statements which confirm the opinion that the Russian menace is a myth. People join the Communist party, or become Communists, because the conditions in their country compel them to do so. The Communist party in Japan is rapidly gaining strength. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has also expressed that view. The explanation is to be found in the slave conditions under which the Japanese masses live and . work. They also are opposed to this peace treaty. When I make that statement I refer, not to the warmongers and the great exploiters, but to the workers - the useful people. Honorable senators will be interested in the following newspaper report : - “ Four Principles of Peace »’. The four principles are: Against a separate treaty, for a treaty with all the powers: against joining either bloo, for neutrality; against rearmament; against any foreign military base in the country.
The Tenth Congress of the State Railway Workers Union, one of the strongest in Japan, adopted these principles by a vote of 292 to 113 last June. The vote was especially significant because this union was the stronghold of the so-called Democratic League Movement, which was - created to fight the radicalization of the Labour Movement led by the Stalinists.
So even a political party which is opposed to the Communists objects to this peace treaty. Yet the Government claims that Australia should ratify it.
– What has the Japanese parliament done in respect of the peace treaty?
– Unfortunately, the Japanese parliament is controlled by the Avar lords, as it was in the past. More than 30 members of the present parliament in Japan are Communists, compared with only four in the previous parliament. I have stated that the conditions in a country bring about communism.
– “Was Mr. Attlee’s attitude wrong?
– I am not concerned about whether Mr. Attlee was wrong or right. I am concerned with the welfare of this nation. The Americans have poured billions of dollars into Japan. If we were to protest against the Japanese dumping their wares in this country, the Americans would force us to take them. Japan is boiling over. Over 87,000,000 Japanese are living on four little islands. The population of Japan is increasing at the rate of 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 a. year.
– We could try myxomatosis.
– What a sensible suggestion! If the myxomatosis virus were injected into some honorable senators opposite, perhaps it would do some good, because it would eradicate a pest. Because the population of Japan is increasing so rapidly, the Japanese islands are becoming over-crowded. The Japanese must go southwards. They cannot go. to the Philippines or to other islands in the Pacific. Australia is the natura] place for them to go to, first because there is ample living space here, and secondly because we have the raw materials that they require. The Japanese went into China to secure raw materials, but they were driven from that country. They need raw materials urgently, and Australia is the logical place from which to obtain them. Who would protect us? If we entered into a commercial and military pact with China and Russia, we should be much safer than we shall be if we depended upon this treaty. If we ratify the treaty, the rising generation of Australians will condemn us as the greatest traitors that Australia has known because we gave away their rights and freedom. Honorable senators opposite say that this is a just treaty which will protect us, but I say it is a treaty which will cause war and take away our livelihood.
– in reply - I can understand the attitude that Senator Morrow has adopted to this treaty. He is an unashamed propagandist of the Communist line in relation to international affairs. Consequently, I can understand why, in relation to this matter, as in relation to other international problems, he adopts the Communist line. The argument that it is undesirable that Japan should be left in a condition in which it may fall a prey to communism makes no appeal to him, because he wants Japan to fall a prey to communism. He wants the industrial potential of Japan to be available to the Communist forces of the world for use against the democratic forces of the world. Therefore, he is opposed to this treaty. He is opposed to it for precisely the same reason that Stalin and the Communists in this country are opposed to it. The doctrine of the Communists is that Australia should withdraw from its alliance with Great Britain and the United States of America and re-aline itself, as they say, with free and democratic countries such as Russia and its satellites. A few moments ago, Senator Morrow used almost those words.
– That is not true.
– A few moments ago, the honorable senator, as I understood him, was telling us that it would be better for us to make a military and economic alliance with Russia and China rather than to ratify this treaty. If that is not in accordance with genuine Communist doctrine, I do not know what is. The views of. the honorable senator do not amaze me. What does amaze me is that he remains a member of a party that professes to be opposed to communism.
I find the attitude that other members of the Opposition have adopted to this treaty a little difficult to understand. To-night, we are faced with a very practical question. We have an opportunity to vote in favour of or against this treaty. We must take the treaty as it stands, as a whole. I am talking practical politics when I say that there is no way in which the Senate can amend the treaty. We must accept or reject it. The Opposition has said that it will vote against the ratification of the treaty. Those who, in these circumstances, are prepared to take the responsibility of saying that they will reject a treaty which has been accepted, at any rate in conference, by 48 nations, including Great Britain, the United States of America, and New Zealand, should at least be willing to tell us what alternative course of action they propose should be taken. The members of the Opposition claim to be practical men who are capable of undertaking the task of governing this country. If they were in office, what course of action would they take if the treaty were rejected to-night? We could do nothing. Then we should remain perpetually at war with Japan. If we are not prepared to accept that proposition, then, in the practical world in which we live, the only other course open to us is for Australia itself to negotiate another treaty with Japan.
– But the Government got itself into this mess.
– No, it did not. There is no mess. Let us be practical and consider what happened last September, when 48 nations agreed to this proposition. At that stage, according to the Opposition, the Australian Government should have declared, “ We will not agree to the treaty “. Had it done so, the only alternative course of action open to it, unless it had been prepared to remain perpetually at war with Japan, would have been to negotiate a separate treaty.
– And get the same terms as the United States of America got for itself!
– Without the support of the United States of America and Great Britain or any of the other 45 nations? The honorable senator’s proposition is that Australia should have gone to Japan and said, “ We shall now negotiate a treaty with you. We, the Commonwealth of Australia of 8,000,000 people, demand that you enter into a treaty with us and undertake to remain perpetually disarmed “. That is absolute nonsense. But that would have been the only alternative to the course of action upon which .the Government decided, unless it had adopted the suggestion of Senator Morrow.
If, after having presented our views at conferences with the representatives of the United States of America and Great Britain, at which we submitted all sorts of suggestions, some of which were accepted, we had not been prepared to join with our Allies in entering into this treaty, only two other ways of reaching some arrangement with Japan would have remained open to us. The method of separate negotiation would have been thoroughly impracticable. I know what sort of terms we should have obtained from Japan in those circumstances. All that we could do, therefore, if we were to have a treaty, would have been to follow the suggestion of our Communist friend and declare, “ We shall leave our American and British Allies and, in opposition to their wishes, endeavour to force upon Japan the best kind of treaty that we can expect with the aid of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, China and the Communist satellites “. I am sorry if the truth is unpalatable to members of the Opposition, but it is a good idea to look at the realities occasionally. It is easy enough to play upon the emotions - the very proper emotions - of Australians who have suffered grievous loss as a result of our fight with Japan, but we live in a practical world and the Government that is in charge of the destinies of the country must do the best that it can to advance Australia’s interests. This Government has done its best. It has secured the best treaty that can be obtained in the circumstances.
– The Government accepted the treaty in its entirety.
– It accepted the treaty subject to its ratification by this Parliament. That is the correct democratic procedure.
The negotiations were conducted openly, and the progress that was made in the course of those negotiations was reported to the Senate from time to time. .
– Where did the discussions take place? There was no agenda and no amendments were accepted by the United States of -America at San Francisco.
– The discussion’s lasted for .the best part of twelve months as Senator Grant knows very well. Fortyeight nations that had previously been consulted fully about the terms of the treaty were represented at the San Francisco conference. All of them indicated then that they would consent to the conclusion of the treaty that was presented to them. Even at that stage, Australia’s representative at the conference indicated our misgivings about some portions of the treaty. The Government does not deny that it entertained such misgivings. Nevertheless it was faced with the fact that most of the 48 nations were ready to agree to the proposed treaty. It had to decide whether Australia should join with them or not. I have pointed out to the Senate the two alternative courses of action that would have been open to it had it decided to remain aloof. I believe that any sensible person unblinded by a desire to make political capital out of the emotions of the people will agree that the Government adopted the correct procedure. In fact, no other practical course of action was available. In those circumstances I hoped that we should have a solid vote in this chamber, excluding those who consistently take the Communist line, in favour of the ratification of the treaty.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Edwardmattner.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Hill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Sitting suspended from 11.50 p.m. to 12.25 a.m. (Thursday).
Thursday, 6 March 1952
Debate resumed (vide page 784).
.- The Opposition does not intend to vote against this bill. We see in the pact a certain amount of merit, but unfortunately we are constrained to voice our opposition to some parts of it. It seems to honorable senators on this side of the chamber that a glorious opportunity to obtain a good binding pact with America, one that had teeth in it able to bite, has been lost. Whether it has been lost forever the distant future alone will prove, but it has undoubtedly been lost for the near future.
The agreements implicit in this pact fall under three heads, the first being that the United States, Australia and New Zealand have agreed to join together to maintain and develop their capacity to resist armed attack. Now let us be realists about the past, the present and the future political condition of the Pacific area. Australia and New Zealand could make a pact between themselves. They could develop their resources and means of defence, but if they were attacked by any of the major powers of the Pacific they would certainly fall. Only one nation in the Pacific offers security to Australia, and that is the United States of America. But, unfortunately, this pact is not so binding on the parties to it as appears to be desirable to my colleagues and myself. I should have agreed completely with the provisions of the Japanese peace treaty if I had been satisfied that as a result of it we would have obtained a pact with America that would have offered us adequate security, and would have been binding on all parties. But this pact does not give to us the requisite security. Really it only uses different words to describe the United Nations Charter, and then applies it specifically to the Pacific. The United Nations Charter has at times effectively coped with certain situations, but on other occasions it has not done so. Our future security is so important to us that we need a pact that will work automatically without the necessity for timewasting references to the Security Council and other United Nations bodies. We need a pact that will bind the United States of America firmly to Australia and New Zealand.
This pact envisages, first, that we shall develop our, capacity to resist armed attack. I take it that all three countries are doing that. Secondly, we agree to consult together when any one of us is threatened. The point there is that it is too late for consultation when one party has been threatened. When threats have been made the time has arrived for action ; but action at that time is not contemplated by the pact. Thirdly, all three nations recognize that an armed attack on any of the parties would bo dangerous to their own peace and safety, and declare that they will act to meet the common danger in accordance with, their constitutional processes. Those are certainly beautiful words, but I wish that those who phrase documents such as this were men who are not eminent lawyers and who have not reached the top of their profession. Then, perhaps, they would be phrased in words of one syllable which would leave no doubt of their actual meaning. The words seem to me to mean that in accordance with the constitutional processes of the nations that have signed the pact Australia could be attacked and would not be entitled to help from the other two parties. If a pact of that nature satisfies the Government, it certainly does not satisfy me. However, I do appreciate that this pact is a step forward in our relations with the United States of America.
If we could have obtained a pact like this three years ago, we should then have considered that we had made a reasonable advance in our international relationships. But, because of the alteration of the balance of power in the Pacific envisaged by the Japanese peace treaty this pact will lose much of its potency. There are no automatic safeguards against an attack on Australia. There is no obligation on the countries that have signed this pact to declare war on an aggressor against any one of them. Three years ago we did not anticipate that the Japanese would be allowed to rearm. Now that we are faced with the fait accompli of Japanese rearmament our security measures should be much stronger. Nobody knows who Australia’s future enemy may be. Our enemy may be Soviet Russia, a revitalized China or a rearmed Japan. Those things are veiled in the obscurity of the future and time alone will prove whether our security measures have been efficient. Frankly, I am fearful about the political position in the Pacific. It has been said that fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and I am certainly fearful of a lonely Australia in the midst of powerful prospective enemies.
An army has been built up in IndoChina that is strong enough to face the organized government of that country backed by the military might of France. Eighteen months or two years ago we would have thought that such a thing was impossible. Communist China is a vast reservoir which can pour unlimited streams of man-power into the areas to our north. Therefore, it will be readily understood that our strategic position has changed immeasurably from what it was a mere three or four years ago. Consequently it is now more necessary than ever before that we should have a firm and binding alliance with our great and powerful neighbour in the Pacific, the United States of America. I am critical of this pact. I realize that it .vas not. the best that Australia could obtain in the present circumstances of unstable political equilibrium in the Pacific. In his second-reading speech the Minister summed up the position in these words -
But, the broad intention of this pact is that hu attack on one of the countries to the pact should be regarded as an attack on all.
There is nothing binding in that. After all, the road to hell was paved with good intentions. This bill expresses good intentions right through it, but in these modern days of foreign relations it is quite obvious that we must have more than good intentions and more than good wishes. If we have a partner we must make certain that that partner shall he in with us all the way, so that if worse comes to the worst we shall be assured of action. The Opposition will vote for the passage of the bill, but at the same time honorable senators on this side of the chamber will have the thought in the backs of their minds that it is a tragedy for Australia that we were unable to obtain a stronger and more effective arrangement with the United States of America, which had real teeth in it, that would not only assist us in the Pacific but also keep potential aggressors away from us.
– Senator Armstrong has stated that he is very concerned about whether the United States of America could come to our aid sufficiently quickly in the event of our being attacked by an aggressor. In view of recent events it may well be a matter of our going to the aid of the United States of America rather than the Americans coming to our assistance. Although at first sight that may sound fantastic, anybody who has studied the. trend of events during the last few years must be convinced that it is a definite possibility. I resent the suggestion that has been made that if one is opposed to anything that the United States of America does, then one is tending towards Stalin. I have never made any bones about my thoughts on the matter. I realize that the American imperialism that has been developing during recent years has been sponsored by people who have .not had any diplomatic training. I am reminded of a story concerning a steer, a horse, and a donkey that was current after World War I. The steer said, “If it had not been for steers such as I, the troops could not have been fed and the fatherland could not have won the war “. The horse said, “ Horses such as I drew transport wagons and carried troops on our backs. That is why they say that only for the horse the fatherland could not have won the war “. The donkey, which had listened carefully, said, “ You two have nothing to skite about. If it had not been for the donkeys who run the diplomatic service there would not have been a war “. It was regarded as inevitable by anybody who followed closely the events associated with the Communists overrunning China that the United States of America, would not recognize the Communist Government of that country. Could anybody have anticipated during World War II. that, within a relatively short period following the termination of hostilities, the United States of America would enter into a pact with Japan to provide that if the interests of either country were jeopardized, within certain limits and certain waters, they would act conjointly? When Dean Acheson was asked recently to comment on the implications of the pact, he refused to do so.
Nobody with any intelligence is likely to believe all the rubbish that we have been told about events in Korea and IndoChina. They will not believe that everything in the garden is lovely. As Malcolm MacDonald stated a few months ago, the American modus operandi in Korea ha3 been a wash out. In eli probability, United States troops will ultimately bomb the coast of China, using Japan in the process. As Russia is pledged to support China, that will result in a Russo-American conflict, and Australia will have to go in on the side of America. I reject the idea that because a person does not agree with everything that the Americans do he is a Stalinite I certainly reject the idea that the Americans are super people, possessing wonderful intelligence. I have visited the United States of America, and I have also read a lot about that country and its people.- It is a great big anachronism with super people at the top, but most of the people at the bottom are “nitwits “. I have before me a newspaper report about the results of an examination that was conducted in Los Angeles. It reads -
LosAngeles, Nov. 28 - (Ins) -
Los Angeles High School juniors witha normal I.Q. of 75 or better were given a series of tests last spring and the shocking results were made public to-day by the board of education. The exams, designed to test the knowledge of the11,000 11th graders in the minimum essentials of arithmetic, English, history, civics and geography, showed that:
– I know that the honorable senator who has just interjected is nothing, and that two nothings make nothing. However, I am concerned about the security of this country. If a situation such as I have described should arise, the United States of America would have about as much chance of restoring the authority of Chiang Kai-shek in China as it would have of restoring the Czars of Russia. It was stated recently that if the United Nations’ forces fail in Korea, American troops will attack China. Although it is too late now to talk about the treaty, I should like the Attorney-
General (Senator Spicer) to inform me whether, in the event of the United States of America attacking Communist China, under this pact Australia will be automatically at war with Russian China? What is it intended that Japan shall get under the pact ? Am I right in assuming that, in effect, the United States of America has said, “ Look, Mr. Japan, if you stand in with us we will arm you. We destroyed your war potential because we considered that it would be unsafe for us if you had any arms at all, but we have twisted “, and that Japan has replied “ All right, Mr. America, what do we get out of it? What are you going to do about our 1,500,000 surplus population each year ? “ Does anybody think that the Japanese are so soft that they will allow themselves to be used as a bulwark against Russia and have no quid pro quo ? They will ask America, in effect, “ What about a slice of the Philippines ? “ or “ What about Dutch New Guinea or the north of Australia ? “ If America refuses’ them, the Japanese will say, “ What about it, Joe ? “ I am not a Communist, butI believe that Russia would make a pact with Japan then just as it did with Hitler. Where would Australia stand then? No one replied to the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna) when he said that this situation could have been avoided long ago. It has arisen from the stupidity of American diplomats who did not follow the example of Great Britain and recognize the Chinese Communists. Mao Tse-tung and Stalin were the deadliest of enemies and Stalin had the Chinese Communist leader spied upon and harassed in every way. But in spite of that Mao Tse-tung won. In 1945, the Russians’ made a pact with Chiang Kai-shek that was to last for 30- years, but they were not so stupid as the American diplomats. They twisted and sided with Mao Tse-tung. If Australia and the United States of America had supported Mao Tse-tung and put a quarter of the money that was spent on Chiang Kai-shek towards the liberation of China instead of trying to put the clock back, we would not be in theposition that we occupy to-day.
The United States of America does not know what it is trying to do inthe diplomatic field. It is torn internally by, isolationists and by what I might term full., interventionists. Most of the American people do not know where Australia is. They are interested only in. themselves, just as I am interested in Australia first. In this case an ultimatum was given to Australia. If it had fought back, I believe that the British Government would have seen the Australian point of view and that a big section of American public opinion would have sided with us. The United States of America is an anachronism. It has more intellectual magazines and a wider scope of reading than the rest of the world has. There is a 3trong intellectual strata there and it has done things in hygiene and science that no one else has done. I believe that that section of American opinion would have seen Australia’s point of view.
Japan is a long way from the United States of America and Great Britain. The Russians will not drop their bombs on the United States of America. The United States of America knows that under this pact it is taking a risk, but it is not faced with the risk that Australia has accepted. If this pact is put into operation and Australia has to fight against China will that solve any problem? I admit that the Japanese would have probably taken Australia but for the United States of America, but even before the Americans could get to Australia, the Japanese would have conquered the country if they had not been tied up in China. For ten years China fought the Japanese. Do honorable senators believe that the people of China would side with Australia if we assisted the Japanese ? I have seen the victims of the rape of Nanking. The Japanese tied men, women and children together, poured petrol over them and burnt them in bundles of 50. What would honorable senators say if they were Chinese, and we sided with the Japanese? They kept 1,000,000 Japanese busy in China, and in doing so, they diverted . them from Australia. The first thing that the Government should have done was to recognize the Communist Government in China just as the British Government did. If this pact is signed, something will have to be done by the United States of America with the mainland of China. If China is bombed and Russia joins it in a war, will Australia be forced automatically by this pact to aline itself with the Japanese and the United States of America? When foreign affairs are being discussed in this chamber, I hope that the Government will not make the charge that honorable senators on this side are following Moscow. In reply to those who would ask, “ What about the blind who follow Moscow ? “ I would ask. “ What about those who blindly follow the United States of America, whether right or wrong? “ The Western pact has gone to pieces. If a couple of bombs are dropped on Great Britain there will be nothing left, but Great Britain knows that communism cannot be contained by military force. All attempts that have been made to do so have been miserable failures. The principal question that I want answered is whether Australia will be automatically committed alongside the United States of America to fight against Russia and China if this pact is signed and such a crisis develops?
– Because I genuinely believe that there is much te be criticized in the security treaty that is the subject-matter of this bill, I do not think that anything can be gained by withholding that criticism merely because the Opposition proposes to support the measure. Like Senator Armstrong, I, too, fear that we have fallen between two stools in signing a security pact with the United States of America at this time. If we enter into a security pact with another country we must be sure that it is a firm and binding instrument which states clearly what forces and what aid we are expected to furnish, and what forces and what aid we shall receive in the event of aggression. There is a slight tinge of defeatism in the signing of a security pact at this stage of developments in the Pacific. I was impressed by this statement by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) in his second-reading speech on another bill -
In all our machinations and dealings with other countries we must always believe that they are going to be successful and that we are going to avoid war.
A defence pact between Australia and the United States of America was sought by the representatives of this country for a considerable period before the United States of America finally announced that it was working towards the formulation of a security pact with us. It must be borne in mind that this pact is definitely connected with the Japanese peace treaty. Some persons contend that it represents a good diplomatic move on our part. T do not share that view. I believe that more time would have been given to the formulation of this instrument had it been devised in a calm atmosphere removed from ties with the Japanese peace treaty. It may be said that because of Australia’s geographical position this pact has obvious attractions for us. “We have a great desire for friendship with the United States of America. Americans know far more about Australia than they did prior to 1939, but they are more interested in the north Pacific than in the South-West Pacific. In the event of either the United States of America or Australia again becoming involved in war I have no doubt that with or without a pact of this kind the two nations would become allies. We have a deep interest in all that the United States of America does in the Pacific zone. I doubt very much whether an attempt to indicate in cold legal articles in a pact the warmth of friendship that exists between the peoples of two nations gains anything for either party. I cannot recall that Australia has ever made a security pact with Great Britain. It has never needed to do so because the friendship between Australia and the Motherland has always been known. The practical value of any pact can be gauged by the degree to which it provides for the meeting of a specific threat. There is a. great gulf between the respective aims of the United States of America and Australia in this security pact. The United States of America fears Russian aggression; we fear a rearmed Japan. The foreign policy of the United States of America is aimed at containing Russia, whereas we realize that an open act of aggression on the part of Russia would most certainly bring about a global war. What has the United States of America gained from this pact ?
– The United States of America is not a bad ally for Australia.
– I agree with the honorable senator. Australia is also a very good ally for the United States of America. I agree with the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), who said -
I suggest that, without a pact, the US can already rely on the aid of those nations whose assistance is most important to it, ami that, without a pact, the US is already committed in the Pacific.
In signifying my agreement with those views I do not in any way detract from the point made by Senator Vincent that America is a good ally of Australia. I agree with the honorable senator. The Minister for External Territories has also said that consideration of this pact has been approached on completely false premises. We are visualizing in it a Pacific pattern which may well be altered. Now that we have agreed to the ratification of the peace treaty with Japan it is our fervent hope that Japan will be well armed and will stand as a bulwark against nations which, in the event of hostilities, may be opposed to us. The danger that I fear is that a rearmed Japan might be more attractive to Russia and China, than an unarmed Japan. If Russia proposes to take under its wing a nation of 85,000,000 people it would rather have that nation as an asset than as a liability, lt would probably offer inducement to Japan in the way of food and materials and the means to enable Japan to expand its territories. As American influence moves further away from the South-West Pacific we may find the United States of America no longer in a position to reassert its influence in the event of a doublecross. Although the psychological effect of this pact upon Australians may be good it does not give us or the American people added protection. With or without a pact the United States of America is committed in the Pacific. Because > future war must be of a global nature there can be no doubt where we would stand in the alinement of nations. It has been said - I think that is probably the genesis of the Pacific pact - that as the Atlantic pact was a worthwhile instrument a Pacific pact should be equally as good. The Atlantic pact was devised for the purpose of meeting external aggression. What the countries of Europe fear most is the threat of aggression from other countries. The position in the Pacific is so fluid that the nations of the Pacific are concerned less about the dangers of aggression from other countries than about their internal politics. If we tried to aline the nations of the Pacific we would immediately find ourselves faced with the choice of allying ourselves with reactionary or inefficient governments that we would not normally support. In Asia we have witnessed the throwing off of Western domination and the uprising of a truly nationalist spirit upon which are superimposed local Communist regimes that are endeavouring to take control by exploiting the nationalist aims of the people. It is almost impossible for the Western nations to differentiate between truly nationalist movements in Asiatic countries and the local Communist groups which are endeavouring to grasp control of them. Wherever we have moved in the Pacific we have found ourselves allied with governments of that kind.
Another difficulty arises from the nonparticipation in the pact of such countries as Pakistan, India, Burma and Indonesia, which, have such a vital interest in the Pacific. It means that, this pact is- getting off to a bad start. I believe that we should not place too much emphasis on military might in the Pacific as a means of winning the Pacific nations to our side. Our position should he rather that of an onlooker, ready to help the Pacific nations to work out their own destinies.
It is false optimism to believe that all such regional arrangements will be a success. There is no real parallel between the Pacific pact and the North Atlantic pact, and it is dangerous to regard them as i being similar. The Minister for Territories deals fully with that point in- his article. He used the adjective “‘.fluid “ -to describe .the present position in the Pacific. We should not attempt at this stage to solidify that fluid position, but should do our best to allow the countries, of the Pacific to work out their own destinies, giving them such assistance to do so as they may require instead of emphasizing military might. I make these criticisms because I consider that in this pact we are showing a tendency to line the Pacific nations up on one side of the fence or the other. The Pacific area is vastly different from Europe, because the nations of Europe have already lined themselves up, or have been forcibly lined up. Forty-six per cent, of the world’s population lives in Pacific countries that are not alined with either of the two great world forces. They are the people whom we hope finally to have on our side, but not in a war, because we hope to avoid a war by having them as friends. I consider that it is bad psychology to emphasize military might in relation to the position in the Pacific.
What would Australia gain from this pact, in the event of hostilities? I ask that question because I suggest that if Japan or any other nation in the Pacific attempted to attack Australia, it would have to attack other countries in the course of coming here. The immediate result would be a conflict on a global scale. The disposition of the troops of all the Allies, including Australian troops in such a conflict would be dictated by global strategy and not by purely regional requirements. If the pact contained details of the mechanics of what would happen in such a position, if it stipulated that certain things would be done in the event of war, then Australia would gain something from it. As it stands, Australia gains nothing from it, because there is nothing to be gained from it. I repeat that I deplore the tendency to aline the Pacific nations that is implicit in the pact. Even worse still, the pact will tend to widen the gulf between East and West.
Militarily the pact will achieve nothing. It even represents a shifting of our philosophy that peace, either in the Pacific or in any other part of the world, can be achieved only by the provision of decent living standards for all the peoples of the world. It is for that reason that I have criticized the pact, although the Labour party has decided to support the bill. It is impossible to escape the fact that the only way to achieve military security in the West is to have social security in the East.
– in reply - I am quite certain that no matter what this Government did in the field of international affairs, it could not possibly satisfy members of the Opposition, because the views that they have expressed on this proposed pact are inconsistent in relation to the same subject matters. For example, Senator Armstrong complained that the pact does not impose automatic obligations on either Australia or the United States of America, whilst Senator Grant expressed himself as fearful that it does impose automatic obligations on us. He fears that we may be automatically embroiled in some escapade in which the United States of America might indulge in China. My reply to Senator Armstrong is that it is impossible to obtain from the United States of America a treaty that will impose an obligation on America automatically to go to war. The reason for that fact is that the only body in that country that is empowered to declare war is the Congress of the United States of America in being at the time when the issue arises. I referred to that constitutional limitation in my second-reading speech.
I am glad that Senator Grant has returned to the chamber in time to hear my reply to his statements because he put a specific question to the Government. I regret to’ say that it is quite obvious that, despite the wide learning that the honorable senator sometimes displays in this chamber, he apparently did not take the trouble even to read the treaty. Had he done so he would not have asked the question that he asked or made the suggestions that he advanced. It is perfectly clear that the obligations which arise under the treaty, particularly under Article IV., which is the relevant article, arise only when there has been an armed attack in the. Pacific on one of the parties to the treaty.
– The eventuality that I suggested would be an armed attack.
– The honorable senator envisaged an armed attack by the United States of America on China.
– Follow it through, please.
– I shall follow it through if the honorable senator will give me a chance to do so. The words of Article IV. are perfectly clear on this subject. That article reads -
Each Party recognises that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on any of the Parties-
Not “by “ any of the parties.
– The eventuality that I mentioned would be an armed attack, would it not?
– I repeat the honorable senator envisaged an attack by the United States of America on China, and China is not a party to the pact.
– But Russia would then come into the conflict, because it has a treaty with China.
– I shall answer the honorable gentleman’s point in my own way. Article IV. is perfectly clear on the subject. It reads -
Each Party recognises that an armed attack in the Pacific on any, of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.
As I pointed out before Senator Grant returned to the chamber, the use of that wording, which is unavoidable because of the Constitution of the United States of America, avoids the imposition of an automatic liability in that each country undertakes this particular obligation “in accordance with its constitutional processes “. I know that one could criticize the pact, as Senator Armstrong has done, on the ground that it does not impose an automatic obligation, but in my view, when all is said and done the spirit that moves a nation to sign such a pact as this is far more important than the precise words used in the pact. In a treaty of this kind, the precise words, important though they may be, are not the most important consideration unless they express the real feelings of the peoples of the participating nations. In 1928, most nations of the world signed a treaty outlawing war in the most specific language; but the spirit did not move with the signatures. This treaty between ourselves and our great American ally expresses a real spirit which moves both peoples, and, in that sense, ratification of the treaty is an extremely important event in our history. I believe that the treaty does give protection to the Australian people from armed attack. It provides machinery for consultation between ourselves and the United States of America. The words used in it are the same kind of words as are used in the North Atlantic pact. The obligations imposed under the North Atlantic pact are no more automatic than are the obligations imposed by this treaty; yet the North Atlantic pact has been the foundation of a vast new defence structure. With the gathering of strength under that pact, we are beginning to feel more and more secure. We are beginning to think that perhaps war is not inevitable after all. I believe that this treaty may well be the foundation of a similar structure in the Pacific, and that it will provide a firm base for the development of the closest relations between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America. It gives us an assurance that if
Ave are threatened with an attack, we shall have the support of a great and powerful neighbour.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a. second time.
Iti commit te e:
– I am entirely dissatisfied with the answer that has been given to my question by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer). The honorable senator is a master of evasion. He has claimed that the constitution of the United States of America prevents the automatic entry of that nation into a war. What I want to know is whether, in the event of an attack upon the United States of America, Australia would automatically go to the assistance of that country. The AttorneyGeneral has not answered that question. If American ships were attacked by Russia, China, or any other nation, would Australia, be automatically involved in war?
Senator SPICER (Victoria- AttorneyGeneral) [1.20 a.m.l. - The honorable senator is now putting a different propo sition. His first submission was quite clear. He suggested that the United States of America might assist Chiang Kai-shek in an attack on Communist, China. Clearly, such an act would not come within the provisions of this treaty, because there would not be an attack upon any of the parties to the treaty. Now the honorable senator is putting another proposition. He mentions the possibility of an attack by Russia or Japan on the United States of America. Such an attack would invoke the provisions of the treaty. I have explained that the obligation imposed by the treaty is not automatic. There is an obligation upon us in the sense that an attack on one of us becomes an attack on all of us, but the constitution of the United States of America precludes an automatic declaration of war by that country. War must be declared by Congress, and what Congress would do in any particular circumstances would depend on the composition of Congress at that time. Just a.i an automatic obligation to declare war cannot be imposed on the United States of America, so, no such obligation can be imposed on us. However, should the set of circumstances envisaged in Article IV. arise, there would be an obligation on all parties, in accordance with their normal processes, to conform to the treaty. 1. do not think that I can explain the matter any better than that.
– I find this discussion of the constitutional position in the United States of America most interesting. What happened at Pearl Harbour when the Japanese came out of the night and bombed the American bases? American defenders did not wait for Congress to meet and declare war before they fought back against the Japanese. In other words, there can be war without a. declaration of war. Japanese troops fought in China for ten years without any declaration of war. It is all very well to say that the constitution of the United States of America reserves to Congress the right to declare war. Just how far we can get the Americans to go in an open statement of their intentions towards us depends upon the efforts of our diplomats who negotiated this treaty, but, in my opinion, the United States of
America could go much further than it has gone in this document. That is clearly shown by the North Atlantic pact, which goes much further than does the Pacific pact.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed (vide page 803).
– The bill now before the Senate is bracketed with another bill that relates to pearl fisheries and incidental matters. At this early hour in the morning, I propose to apply my remarks at this juncture to both measures. I point out immediately that it is a pity that a matter of such importance as the control of extra territorial waters by this Parliament cannot be debated at greater length. I put it strongly to the Senate that this is a vastly important matter and that many repercussions of an international nature may arise by reason of the fact that we seek to exercise control outside our immediate territorial waters. Very fortunately, in this country the constitutional position between the States and the Commonwealth is as clearly defined as it could be. There is no argument that the States enjoy control over their territorial waters which are generally recognized as being within three miles of the shore. There is no strictly fixed rule about that limit.
The Constitution confers upon this Parliament power to legislate with respect to waters beyond the limits in which the States enjoy jurisdiction. That is rather clearly defined in this country, whereas in the United States of America there are difficulties in relation to that division. The whole difficulty arises about determining what are territorial waters. I have not sufficient time to deal adequately with the subject, but I propose to take a few minutes to pose to the Senate the fact that great and grave difficulties arise. We generally assume that there is a threemile limit. We talk of that limit. But we get into difficulties immediately in relation to waters like, for instance, Port Philip Bay, which is a great expanse which extends far beyond the three-mile limit. Yet, it is fairly clearly established that the State of Victoria would claim and exercise jurisdiction over the whole of that broad bay regardless of whether portions of it were within, or without, that limit. Quite a number of cases of world repute have happened on the coast of Scotland and in Norway that show that such claims are asserted and sustained. But I really want to put to the Senate that the idea of the three-mile limit was conceived centuries ago from the viewpoint of shore and shore installations and represented the distance that a cannon-ball could be fired from the shore. That gradually developed into the marine league in the eyes of the British community in the British Isles. That position has not been accepted by all countries. It has never been accepted, for instance, in northern and southern Europe, and the three miles must be regarded as a mere minimum even in relation to Australia and the territorial waters over which the States may exercise jurisdiction.
We must also consider the three aspects of the high seas apart from immediate territorial waters - navigation, the submarine soil and the ownership of it and what is underneath it, and fisheries. This bill deals not with all of those three matters, but solely with fisheries, and I point out the vast importance to a country of control of the submarine soil where coal is mined and oil, and, perhaps, minerals are sought. These matters are of vast importance to countries whose normal supplies of such minerals are running out. As the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) indicated in his second-reading speech, the United States of America in particular has asserted rights over what is termed the continental shelf. It is recognized that the huge land mass of a continent does not dip instantly into the depths, but tapers for distances varying from a few miles up to hundreds of miles. The concept underlying the claim of jurisdiction over the continental shelf has developed in recent years. The United States of America was forced to pursue it because of its need to explore the oil resources of the land under the sea.
When we come to deal with fisheries we must recognize this difficulty. If we set up a claim over the continental shelf we must recognize that the land mass of the Australian continent runs almost to Timor and whilst finishing in places very close to the Queensland coast, elsewhere along the coast it stretches for hundreds of miles. Thus, any claim of jurisdiction over that shelf will involve jurisdiction over a large area of the high seas. It is all very well for this country to claim jurisdiction over fishing grounds that are situated hundreds’ of miles from our shore. We can assert that claim, but whether we can sustain it might well be determined ultimately by armed might. That question might have to be determined by force. There are certain concepts which have developed in that field. There is some recognition of the fact that if a nation has developed a fishing bed and has taken steps to conserve supplies of fish and has done so for a considerable period it acquires some rights by prescription. Some of those rights might be based upon the acquiescence of other nations to that claim to exercise jurisdiction, but, ultimately, when a country claims that it has jurisdiction outside its immediate territorial waters it becomes a matter of convention, agreement or treaty between the nations that are interested in exploiting fishing beds whether there is a uniform set of controls. The difficulty in relation to fishing beds in some parts of the world has been so resolved by the nations that have been interested in exploiting them. They have recognized that if one nation or several nations are allowed to despoil a fishing bed they destroy it not only for this, but for all future generations. I refer to those matters briefly in order to point out that the words “ territorial waters “ are not clearly defined. It is not known with complete certainty where the States’ jurisdiction ends and that of the Commonwealth begins and, accordingly, it is a very good thing that in this bill the Australian Government has committed itself to delegating its powers to a State so that one authority will actively operate over the whole field of territorial waters and those beyond. That obviates not only duplication, but also the difficulty of determining lines of demarcation between State and Commonwealth authorities.
Accordingly, the Opposition applauds, the approach that the Government has made to this matter under this bill. We welcome legislation of this nature even if we may not be able ultimately to sustain it against other nations by force or in the International Court. The bill does not achieve very much. It merely sets up the framework for legislation. The real work that is contemplated by the bill will be carried out by regulation. The Governor-General in Council will proclaim particular areas. Fishermen, and their boats and gear must be licensed before they can operate in a proclaimed area. That provision, of course, is quite good from the viewpoint of Australian nationals. It may not bind the Japanese or the people of other nations; and it is on that point that we seek the kind of negotiation, discussion and agreement that is contemplated in the Japanese peace treaty, under which Japan is obliged to negotiate with other countries for the . fishing rights that it seeks. I have not the slightest doubt that Japan will seek to enter into negotiations with this country with respect to the fishing beds surrounding Australia, once the peace treaty is concluded, and I look to the Government to ensure that particularly the waters between the north of Australia and New Guinea shall be proclaimed areas, so that we may have a system of inspection in them, and, I emphasize, for more purposes than fishing. I trust that when the negotiations with the Japanese commence, we shall endeavour to keep them to the area to which they are at present restricted, namely, north of the equator. I raise that matter now, because the negotiations may be under way before this Parliament meets again. That is conceivable. The United States of America and Canada have already concluded agreements of that nature with Japan, and have adequately protected their fishing beds against despoliation by the Japanese when they seek to come back into those areas.
I believe that I have said enough to indicate that the matter of territorial waters is full of difficulties, is vastly complex, and is a body of law that is not settled at the international level. There are grave international complications in this administration, and I do not want any honorable senator to think that I have dealt adequately with the subject. I have merely run inadequately over a few of the highlights, and drawn attention, in particular, to the negotiations that are pending with Japan.
– Did the Leader of the Opposition catch a few crabs?
– I do not appreciate the significance of that remark. Perhaps Senator Wright will be able to elucidate it during this debate. I do not think that the crustaceans are dealt with in either of the two bills. We do not oppose this measure. I state now that the same considerations apply to the sedentary fisheries referred to in the Pearl Fisheries Bill 1952 as apply to this measure. We commend the Government for having introduced this legislation, which is a step in the right direction, and trust that what we term Australian fisheries will be safeguarded against possible despoliation by the Japanese.
– I was interested in the general approach of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) to this problem, and because of the lateness of the hour I shall make my remarks on it as brief as I can. I shall not unduly delay the Senate, as Senator Sandford appears to fear. This chamber is the Senate of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and is charged specifically with the defence of the rights of the States. Normally, I should prefer to resume my seat after a brief speech on the subject of fisheries, but I consider that, in the circumstances, the Senate would be ill-advised and hasty in its judgment if it were to accept this bill and the Pearl Fisheries Bill 1952 on their face value.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay), who introduced this legislation, made some general obser vations about the problems of international law with respect to fisheries. I propose to deal with some of them, and also with some of the matters mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition. The honorable senator claims that the sovereign power of the Commonwealth and the States to legislate with respect to fisheries is clearly defined, and that the Commonwealth proposes to delegate its power in those matters to the States. I contend that the Commonwealth has no authority to delegate that power to the States, although the States may refer power to the Commonwealth in this matter. Therefore, the purpose that the Government seeks to achieve in this legislation may be achieved only by the action of the States in referring power to this Parliament. A new concept of the term “territorial waters “ has arisen since the war and is gathering force each day. The Leader of the Opposition remarked, quite correctly, that the normal concept of territorial waters, which has existed for many years, originated with the distance that a. cannon ball could be fired. This was enforced by the power of the British Navy during and after the Napoleonic wars. The whole concept, in terms of international jurisprudence, arose from the need of the British Navy to enforce a close blockade of enemy coasts, when necessary, and territorial limits were confined to three nautical miles from the low-water mark.
Although that concept has existed for many years, the British Government has abandoned that claim in specific instances. One of them was mentioned by the Minister in his second-reading speech, namely, the problem of the Cingalese banks between Ceylon and India. Those pear] fishing grounds are situated many miles out to sea and Great Britain, by proscription in 1811, claimed complete jurisdiction over them on behalf of Ceylon. That claim has been reiterated from time to time by Great Britain. In 1889, the Federal Council of Australasia claimed jurisdiction, on the same grounds, in respect of the coast of Queensland and, as Senator Scott is aware, the coast of Western Australia. That legislation deals with the problem of sedentary fish on bank?.
There also exists the problem of the free swimming fish, which have their origin many miles from the coast in the deep waters and currents, and come close to the shores. The Commonwealth, under this legislation, seeks power to regulate fisheries in Australian waters beyond the territorial limits. Another problem that arises is the free passage of ships. Prior to the last war, the biggest poachers and the people who did more to disturb the equilibrium of fishing in any part of the world were the Japanese. Their refusal to enter into international agreements on whaling produced complete anarchy. With respect to free swimming fish, I cite the famous Bristol Bay case, that arose on the coast of Alaska, when the Japanese intercepted the run of salmon into rivers and caused the United States Government a great deal of frustration. I am sympathetic towards the object that the Government seeks to achieve with this legislation, namely, the regulation of fisheries in Australian waters, but I consider that it is assuming power for that purpose which it does not possess. It places the Commonwealth and States in a very curious position, which I shall explain to the Senate.
– I thought the honorable senator intended to speak for only a short time.
– I have spoken for only five minutes. If Senator Sandford does not want to listen to me and learn something about his duties as a senator, he knows what to do. In the British Y car-Book of International Law for 1950, there is an article written by Professor Lauterpacht. one of the most eminent writers and commentators on the subject of the sovereignty of the seas. The article, which is entitled “ Sovereignty over Submarine Areas “, begins as follows : -
Seldom has an apparent major change in international law been accomplished by peaceful means more rapidly and amidst more general acquiescence and approval than in the case of the claims to submarine areas - the sea-bed and its subsoil.
In the article, Professor Lauterpacht discusses the rights of nations to claim sovereignty over submarine areas. Such rights may or may not exist, but many nations concede that they do exist. There fore, it is assumed that certain countries have those rights. On the 28th September, 1945, the President of the United States of America issued a proclamation by which the United States of America assumed jurisdiction over the soil under the waters of the sea to the edge of the continental shelf, which, according to the general consensus of opinion, is in the vicinity of the 100-fathom mark. On the same day, the President issued another proclamation by which the United States of America assumed rights of conservancy over free swimming fish on the continental shelf.
The proclamation was qualified by the statement that America would withhold the right to fish in that area only from nationals of countries that refused to observe its conservancy laws. Those declarations by the United States of America caused some extraordinary repercussions. It is interesting to note that sovereignty over the continental shelf adjacent and contiguous to the shores of Pakistan, Argentina and several American republics has been claimed by the governments of those countries. Some of them have disregarded the concept of the continental shelf altogether, and have fixed arbitrary limits far out to sea. The Falkland Islands, by an Order in Council, has assumed jurisdiction over the continental shelf adjacent to those islands. That action has been approved by the British Colonial Office. I could cite many other examples of the assumption of jurisdiction over a continental shelf.
I shall deal now with the point upon which I am- in disagreement with the Leader of the Opposition and the Government. In my opinion, the Commonwealth cannot assume sovereignty over the continental shelf. The Commonwealth can exercise only the powers that have been referred to it by the States. Only the States can assume sovereignty over the continental shelf, or over an area greater than the normally accepted concept . of 3 nautical miles from low-water mark. The Government proposes to assume sovereignty under the provisions of placitum (x.) of section 51 of the Constitution, which provides that the Commonwealth may make laws in respect to fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits. In my opinion, if we want to assume sovereignty over the continental shelf in order to be able to deal with the nationals of Japan, the Netherlands East Indies or any other nation whom we believe are menacing our fisheries, we can do so only if the States assume that power of sovereignty and refer it to the Commonwealth. That is the point upon which I am in dispute with the Leader of the Opposition and the Government.
Honorable senators, who are charged inferentially with the duty of protecting the rights of the States are now confronted with a bill that seeks to delegate power to the States to deal with fisheries, whereas the reverse should be the case. The States should assume sovereignty, and then refer power to the Commonwealth. If South Australia, for instance, acting unilaterally, decided to assume sovereignty over a submarine area extending to the edge of the continental shelf, that action would push back into the high seas the concept of the jurisdiction that the Commonwealth may exercise over fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits. This bill confronts the Senate with a constitutional problem that I advise honorable senators to study with great care.
There are certain other relatively minor matters with which I feel that I should deal. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, referred to the fact that the States have no power to deal with their citizens outside an area extending 3 nautical miles from low water-mark. That problem has arisen in the past on several occasions. Chief Justice Marshall, of the United States Supreme Court, giving judgment in a well-known case in which the State of Florida sought to deal with some of its citizens outside the normally accepted limit of 3 miles from low water-mark, said that the State of Florida was perfectly entitled to deal with its citizens outside its territorial limits. There are other cases in which it has been decided that the powers of states extend beyond 3 nautical miles from low water-mark. Long before the President of the United States of America, issued the proclamations to which I have just referred, the State of Texas was drilling for oil under the sea bed 27 miles away from low watermark.
I do not want to trespass on the patience of Senator Sandford any longer. In the space of twelve minutes I have dealt, in the most general way, with a very important problem, which, I suggest, should engage the attention of the Senate to a much greater degree than is possible to-night.
– I congratulate the Government upon the introduction of these bills. The Government has shown commendable foresight in this matter. Before the war, our pearl-shell beds off the northern coast of Australia were completely overrun by the Japanese. I notice that Japan is expected to make a protest to the Australian Government in relation to fisheries off our north coast. The Government n in duty bound to protect the interest of the Australian pearl shell, trochus, green snail and beche-de-mer industries. The intention of the Government is to proclaim Australian sovereignty over certain waters to a depth of .100 fathoms. As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has said, those waters extend from Western Australia to Timor. The richest pearl shell beds in the world are in the Arafura Sea. to the north of Australia., and we do not want to s’ta Japanese sampans in that area again taking thousands of tons of shell annually back to Japan in order to earn dollars that should be earned for Australia. The Government should find ways and means of providing suitable labour for the pearl shell and trochus shell industries if it wishes to exploit those waters in the interests of Australia.
The pearl shell industry has deteriorated considerably since 1949. The harvest in that year was approximately 1,500 tons of pearl shell. Last year it amounted to only 800 tons. Two or three companies have endeavoured unsuccessfully to establish themselves in the industry in the last few years. In 194S, a group of ex-servicemen commissioned a lugger. The men intended to du their own diving, but they had a lot of trouble and ran out of funds within twelve months. The North- West Pearling Company began operations a year later, but, because it could not obtain suitable labour, it went into liquidation and its vessels were sold. The pearling industry is in a hazardous position to-day. In 1950, 81 Australian boats engaged in the industry. Last year the number fellto 58. It will fall even further this year. The Government is eager to win dollars for Australia. I understand that American experts are in this country at present for the purpose of holding consultations with treasury representatives concerning a proposal to obtain a loan of . 100,000,000 dollars for Australia. The shell fishing industries could provide Australia with 6,000,000 dollars a year if they were properly developed. That is a lot of money. The income of the industry last year was only £860,000, and the amount will be even less this year. If the Government sincerely wishes to conserve our fishing industries for the benefit of Australians, it should endeavour to find suitable labour for them. The Leader of the Opposition said that he hoped that all adjacent waters south of the equator would be proclaimed by the Government and that foreigners would not be allowed to operate in those waters. That is a sound plan but, without suitable labour, it would be ineffective. The labour that is available to the industry to-day is absolutely unsatisfactory. About 14 tons of shell a year is needed to pay for the operating expenses of a lugger. The average take in Broome last year was 14 tons. The industry is fading away and there will be no hope of resuscitating it unless we find suitable labour for it. As a man who is engaged in the industry, I ask the Government to treat this matter seriously. Suitable labour is available elsewhere in the world and, unless we take advantage of it, the few struggling survivors to the north of Australia will be forced to leave the industry. I support the bill.
– in reply - The Government appreciates the contributions that have been made to the debate by the honorable senators who have spoken. I was interested in Senator Cormack’s remarks in relation to the legal position, but I am sure that he would not appreciate any attempt on my part to argue the point with him on this highly technical matter at two o’clock in the morning. It would be hopeless for a layman to argue on a subject over which lawyers cannot agree. The Government has acted on the advice of its legal consultants, and I remind the Senate that the officers of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, under the leadership of an able Minister, are capable of giving legal advice equal to any other legal advice that can be obtained in Australia. The Australian Government’s power to enact fisheries legislation with effect beyond territorial limits is contained in Section 51, placitum (x.) of the Commonwealth Constitution. I thank the Senate for the reception that it has accorded to the bills, and I hope that it will pass both measures as quickly as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 804).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 805).
– It was not only the ready co-operation which was forthcoming from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) when this bill was introduced that prompted my suspicions in regard to it. I had already seen some reference to it and was waiting for it to be introduced. I think that it has features that demand the attention of the House. Under the bill it is proposed to amend section 19 of the Life Insurance. Act. so that the commissioner of life insurance shall have power to refuse registration of a company which carries on insurance business on the date of application for registration if he is not satisfied that the expenses of management are not excessive having regard to the nature of the insurance business that is carried on by the company. Section 19 of the Life Insurance Act as amended last year entitles the commissioner, with the approval of the Treasurer, to refuse the registration of a company on various grounds. These grounds are five in number, but apparently they are not sufficient to catch some fish which some officers of the Government have in mind, and so it has been proposed to extend the commissioner’s power to deal with those cases in this amendment.
I find myself in disagreement with the principle under which an officer is given an unappealable right to refuse a company or a person the right to carry on business. When the original section 19 of the act came before the House of Representatives for discussion in 1945 no less a dignitary than the present Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) drew attention to the absence from clause 19 of any provision for a company to appeal to the High Court against the refusal by the commissioner to grant registration. In 1945, he urged that section 19 should give a person whose application has been refused the right of appeal to the High Court. If this extension of the section is acceptable to the Senate, I trust that it will only be acceptable if a company is given a right of appeal to the High Court in the case of a refusal.
There are other features of the act which should satisfy the Senate that the proposed amendment is unnecessary. Under section 54 of the Life Insurance Act, the commissioner may demand in writing from any company - and the term company is defined in those precise terms which lawyers use to mean “ a body corporate which carries on or proposes to carry on life insurance business in Australia “ - information relating to any matter in connexion with its business. Section 55 of the act provides that -
If it appears to the Commissioner that -
Then the act provides that the commissioner may thereupon issue a direction to the company as to the conduct of its business, and, in particular, a direction that the company shall not issue any further policies. Even in the act which was made law in 1945 - and which some of us did not look upon with complete approbation - it was provided that an appeal might be made to the High Court from such adecision of the commissioner. It is further provided in the act that if the commissioner is really dissatisfied with the operations of the company he may apply to the court for an order to wind it up. In those circumstances, I am not satisfied that there is any need to give to the commissioner the unappealable right to refuse an application upon the vague ground that, having come within the category of an insurance company, its expenses of management are excessive.
I suggest that there is ample authority in the act already for the commissioner to restrain exploiting life insurance companies. The commissioner’s powers to direct the cessation of the issue of policies and to apply to wind up companies are subject to the control of a court and I submit that when an official interferes with the business of a company and that company is affected by an adverse decision it should have the right to appeal to a court. If that argument does not prevail with honorable senators and they accept this amendment, I trust that they will accept it only if it is accompanied by a provision enabling the applicant whose application has been refused to apply to the High Court to examine the reasons for refusal, in order to ensure that justice will be done.
I do not intend to refer to any of the particular cases which have been somewhat summarily introduced to me tonight. It is not conducive to the best despatch of business that the Senate should deal with a bill within four hours of its introduction. But I think that the general considerations that I have presented to the Senate should be sufficient to convince it that there is ample power in the act already to stop any evil practice that could be prevented by the proposed amendment. If honorable senators are not convinced on that point, I suggest that they should ensure that if the right of refusal is given to the commissioner on such vague grounds as those proposed, it should be given only subject to an appeal to the court.
– I support the remarks of Senator Wright. It seems rather extraordinary that a bill of this kind should be introduced when the officer who is responsible to the commissioner already holds sufficient power to meet all requirements. It appears almost as though a deliberate attempt has been made to prevent applications for. registration. Why should the insurance commissioner use his powers against an applicant company, which has been functioning for some time, on the ground that its expenses may be excessive, while some company which has not- operated at all and is unable to say what its expenses might amount to after it has commenced operations is granted a licence? Such a thing is completely wrong, and if this amendment is desired by the Government any company whose application is refused should be given a right of appeal against that decision. It appears to me that some sort of gilded circle is proposed to be formed for the benefit of companies already in existence, and that any new company which, because of increasing population and increasing wealth, wishes to commence operations, will be prevented from so doing. The principal act contains all the powers required by the official entrusted with the control of these companies, and there is no need for the proposed amendment. If the truth of the’ matter is as Senator Wright has presented it, and I believe that it is, then if we give our consent to this measure we shall be doing something wrong.
– I know nothing about the particular business involved, and I do not know whether there is anything in the arguments of Senator Maher. However, I am not in favour of giving a public servant the sort of power envi saged by this bill. I think that the measure could be well delayed unless a better reason is given by the Government than the one that has already been put forward.
2.21 a.m.] . - in reply - I think that there is. a little confusion about what is proposed by this legislation. Senator Wright contrasted the position under the 1945 legislation with the prospective position under the legislation now before the Senate, and Senator Maher contrasted the powers of the commissioner where a company is carrying on business with this legislation which relates to a company applying for registration. In 1945, the commissioner had the right either to register a company as a life insurance company or, with the approval of the Treasurer, to reject its application. In 1945, Sir Arthur Fadden urged that the commissioner’s powers should be subject to the right of appeal to the High Court. In 1945, during the debate in another place, it was said that that request would be given consideration and that the then Government would express its view in the Senate when the bill came before that chamber. There is no mention in Hansard of the matter having been raised in the Senate at all.
– That is the usual sequel to promises of that kind.
– The honorable senator speaks for himself in regard to promises, no doubt. However, in 1950, the principal act was amended to restrict the powers of the commissioner. The commissioner then could not refuse an application for registration, even with the consent of the Treasurer, unless he was satisfied that the application was not in accordance with the provisions of the act, or that the company was unlikely to meet its obligations or comply with the provisions of the act, or that the name of the company so closely resembled the name of a company already registered as to be likely to deceive, or, that in the case of a company that proposed to carry on another form of business, the carrying on of that other form of business in addition to insurance business was contrary to the public interest. That reduced quite considerably the right of the commissioner to refuse an application for registration of a life insurance company.
The request for a right of appeal was made when the legislation was introduced in another place by the Treasurer in 1945. The right of appeal was not mentioned in either House of Parliament during the debates on motions for amendment of the legislation in 1950. Experience has shown that there is need for another amendment. The circumstances are that the Victorian Government, for its own reasons, has brought down legislation making subject to registration and supervision all bodies which conduct voluntary hospital and medical insurance. The Victorian legislation provides that a body which does that class of business, with certain exceptions, shall be subject to supervision. One of the exceptions is that this requirement shall not apply to a company which is registered under the Commonwealth act. Companies registered under the Commonwealth act are not subject to supervision prescribed by the Victorian legislation. Some applicants have been received for registration under the Commonwealth legislation. If they are granted the companies concerned will not be subject to the Victorian legislation. In its wisdom, the Commonwealth considers that it is desirable that it should have the added power which is contained in the bill now before the Senate. , Proposed new sub-section (2.) (ba) of section 19 reads - (ba) in the case of a company which carries on insurance business at the date of the application for registration, that the expenses of management of the company are not excessive, having regard to the nature of the insurance business which the company carries on;
– Can the commissioner act without the authority or approval of the Treasurer?
– The commissioner cannot reject an applicant for registration unless with the approval of the Treasurer. This does not apply to any company that is already registered under the act. It could only affect an existing insurance company which does not at present do life insurance business, but which may subsequently want to do that class of business. Alternatively, it only applies to a company which now carries on insurance business. On my reading of the proposed new paragraph, it could not apply to any other applicant. I think that added power is warranted and I consider, in view of the circumstances that I have outlined, that this measure should be passed by the Senate to-night. As the House of Representatives has gone into recess, it would not be in a position to .consider any amendment suggested by the Senate.
– It is a piece of contumacious conduct on the part of the House of Representatives.
– If the matter is pressed, the only thing that we could do would be to request a sitting of the House of Representatives to. consider our suggested amendment. Therefore, I believe that I am justified in asking the Senate to pass this legislation. I am prepared to undertake to submit to the Government for consideration with reasonable promptitude, the point of view that has been expressed by certain honorable senators, although I will make no promise about what might be the decision of the Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I move -
That the Chairman do report progress and ask leave to sit again.
I do not consider it satisfactory that the matter should be left for submission to the Government by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). As the forthcoming recess will be of only short duration, I do not consider that there is any circumstance of sufficient urgency to warrant honorable senators being asked to report the hill without amendment, particularly as an amendment commends itself to honorable senators.
Question put. The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator A. D.Reid.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) -by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the termination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to a date and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
Motion (by SenatorMcLeay) pro posed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I have no desire to keep honorable senators unduly, but I want to declare war on the Argentine ant and I hope that others will support me.
Honorable senators may treat this matter as a joke, but the day will come when Australia will look upon the Argentine ant as a national enemy. It is time now that it did so. It is only a small lightbrown ant, but it can cause considerable trouble. The ant has been recorded as an agricultural and household pest in South America, South Africa, the Mediterranean regions, England, Belgium and Germany. In recent years it has shown up in Hawaii, and in Melbourne, Albany and Perth, in Australia. The first record of the ant in Australia was in 1939 at Balwyn, a suburb of Melbourne. It appeared in Perth in 1941. Wherever the Argentine ant has appeared, it has driven out all other species of ants and it will drive out human beings also. This ant is a major pest in dwellings and warehouses. It feeds on a wide variety of foods, but shows a preference for meat and sweet foods. It can take possession of a house and gets into refrigerators, beds and furniture. It will take possession of lawns and gardens. The Argentine ant causes losses to apiarists by. infesting hives and removing honey. It causes the death of newly hatched chickens. Insecticides which have proved most successful against it are DDT. and chlordane. It has been estimated that the cost of clearing up an infected area is £15,000 a square mile. Babies have been found screaming with ants in their ears and their eyes; babies’ milk bottles have been covered with these pests. The Argentine ant will attack newly hatched chickens, and eat the feathers off them. They have ruined the lunches of school children and workers. Foundations of buildings are sinking because they have been undermined by these ants. Nylon stockings and nylon underclothes have been riddled. I do not contend that the eradication of Argentine ants is a Commonwealth responsibility, but as there is danger that the ants will spread throughout Australia, I regard it as my duty to warn honorable . senators and the people of Australia that they must do everything possible to eradicate these pests. I believe that it is the function of this Parliament to do all that it can to ensure that sufficient supplies of DDT and chlordane shall be made available for that purpose. The Government should instruct the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to do everything possible to improve baits and sprays for the destruction of these pests, and so help to save the wastage of women-hours and man-hours and enable the people who now reside in affected areas to live in peace.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian Imperial Force Canteens Fund Act - Thirty-first Annual Report by the Trustees, for year 1950-61.
Defence Act - Royal Military College - Report for I960.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act - Defence- Forces Retirement Benefits Board - Third Annual Report, for year 1950-51.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and Designs (8.).
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of Defence - 6. de V. Gipps, R. V. Scammell.
Services Trust Funds Act - Fourth Annual Report of the Australian Military Forces Relief Trust Fund, for year 1950-51.
Snowy Mountains. Hydro-electric Power Act - Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority - Second Annual Report, for year 1950-51.
Wool Products Bounty Act - Second Annual Report on operations of Act, for year 1951.
Senate adjourned at 2.46 a.m. (Thursday), to a date and hour to be fixed by the President.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 March 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1952/19520305_senate_20_216/>.