21st Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister for Repatriation inform the Senate whether the lag in dealing with hearings before the Entitlement Appeals Tribunals has been overtaken, or are applicants still experiencing the same delays as occurred prior to the appointment of another tribunal? Can he say how many times the most recently appointed tribunal has sat?
-. - I oan answer a part of the honorable senator’s question. The number of outstanding cases before the Entitlement Appeals Tribunal remains more or less constant at about 2,000. There are now three tribunals dealing with such cases - one more than when the present Government came into office. I regret to inform the honorable senator that the number of cases outstanding before the Assessment Appeals Tribunals is about 3.000. I should like that number to be reduced. However, that is the position, notwithstanding that since this Government came into office the number of tribunals has been increased from three to five. If the present five tribunals cannot overtake the arrears, consideration will be given to appointing another assessment tribunal. I shall obtain for the honorable senator the information sought in the last part of his question, as I cannot give the figures offhand.
– Has the Minister for Shipping and Transport been able to obtain a substitute ship to replace Taroona, which is shortly due for a survey, in consequence of which the vessel will be kept off the Melbourne to Tasmania run for a period of over three months?
– Officers of my department are now negotiating with a shipping firm with a view to obtaining a substitute vessel, but so far finality has not been reached. The Government is not unmindful of the need to provide a substitute ship, but there are great difficulties associated with getting a vessel for a limited period of three months. High costs add to the difficulty.
– Oan the Minister say whether it will be possible for the decision of the Overseas Shipping Representatives Association to seek an increase of 10 per cent, in freight charges on cargoes to the United Kingdom from Australia to bo made known, in order to arouse the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to a sense of his responsibility, so that he will take some active steps to prevent the proposed exploitation of traders by wealthy shipping interests? The proposed increase, if agreed to, will have a serious effect on Australian trade. Is the Minister aware that if the 10 per cent, increase is granted, Australian frozen meat cannot be sold at a competitive price on the British market, and many other Australian primary products will be in a similar position? What steps does the Government propose to take to remedy that situation and assist and protect the primary producers of Australia ?
– Overseas shipping freights arc under the .auspices of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. For a number of years, the practice has been for various Australian boards to negotiate with the overseas shipping owners from year to year on shipping freight rates. Every effort has been made to obtain the cheapest possible freight rates.
– By whom?
– By the various boards concerned and the owners of the ships. Senator Ashley cannot expect the overseas shipowners to operate their ships in the way that he directed shipping in Australia when he was Minister for Shipping and Transport, because it would not be long before they would all be broke. This is a business deal. When I was in London, I had the opportunity of conferring with shipping interests. Honorable senators will realize that costs have risen in the United Kingdom, and frequent hold-ups and high costs in Australia have sonic bearing on the freight rates that are fixed. If Senator Ashley wan ts an answer, in precise detail, to the half dozen questions that he has put to me, I will obtain the information for him if he puts his questions on the notice-paper.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that Tasmania is supplying regularly tq South Australia a considerable quantity of sulphuric acid which is made from zinc concentrates ? Is the Minister aware that the special type of ship which was supplied by the Australian Shipping Board for the transport of this commodity is out of commission? As this is causing considerable inconvenience and difficulty in regard to storage, will the Minister make immediate inquiries into the position and endeavour to supply a suitable replacement at the earliest possible moment? Is the Minister aware that the Hobart works of the Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australia Limited will increase its output of sulphuric acid considerably in the coming year? Will the Minister ascertain the increased shipping that will be required in this eventuality, and make definite provision for it?
– The Commonwealth vessel Ransdorp was obtained expressly for the task to which Senator Wardlaw has referred, as no other suitable vessel was obtainable in Australia to take sulphuric acid from Tasmania to South Australia. The Ransdorp had to undergo its four-yearly Lloyds survey last month and, due to certain replacements being necessary, the survey, which should have taken, two or three weeks, will take two or three months. This is not unusual, as the ship-owner does not know the full extent of the work to be done until the job is opened up. Work is proceeding as fast as possible, and it is expected that the Ransdorp will be in commission again by the 22nd June. No other suitable vessel is available in Australia. Regarding the shipment of sulphuric acid from Hobart, I have been advised that the present receivers in Adelaide, Cresco Fertilizers Limited, will not require further acid after next August. Inquiries are proceeding regarding the employment of the vessel after that date.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. I am prompted to ask these questions because of the intense interest that was shown by women in the Philippines in gift cartons of dried fruits which Australian delegates distributed during the recent Pan-Pacific Women’s Conference there, and the many inquiries which followed as to how they could obtain those fruits in large quantities. I am also prompted by the need to expand Australias overseas trade. Is the Minister aware of the serious position of the dried fruits industry in Australia, and the need for establishing new overseas markets? Can the Minister inform the Senate what efforts are being made to establish new markets overseas? Has any approach been made to the huge potential market in the Philippines where there is a population of 22,000,000 people?
– The problem of surplus dried fruits receives the attention of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. Australian Trade Commissioners in between twenty and 30 posts throughout the world are kept informed from time to time, of the quantity of dried fruits available. I was pleased to read recently that one line of dried fruits exported by Australia is of better quality than that produced in any other country in the world. Recently, after the changeover from government to government trading to a trader to trader basis, we were able to sell considerably more dried fruits than we had expected. At present, there is a glut which has been brought about largely because the British Ministry of Food had reserve stocks and other countries had surpluses. I do not believe there is any doubt that we shall be faced with lower prices for dried fruits, but I expect that the time is not far distant when the surplus stocks will be removed, and we shall return to more stable trading. I assure Senator Robertson that I shall direct the attention of the Australian Trade Commissioners Service - to the matter she has mentioned and ascertain what steps have been taken in the Philippines towards increasing the trade in Australian dried fruits there.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General a question concerning a body in Western Australia known as the Western Australian division of the Australian Peace Council. I have received a letter from this body which includes a list of people who are connected with the Australian Peace Council. The list is headed by. no less a person than Dame Sybil Thorndyke, the actress. Among lesser lights are the Honorable H. E. Graham, a Minister in the State Parliament in Western Australia, and
Mr. F. E. Chamberlain, General Secretary of the Australian Labour party in Western Australia. The letter that I have received seeks donations for the purpose of sending a lady named Mrs. Gilchrist to Helsinki to attend an international peace congress. Has the Attorney-General seen a copy of this circular letter? Will he inform the Senate whether the body known as the Australian Peace Council is in any way connected with communism?
– I have seen a copy of the circular to which the honorable senator has referred. My recollection is that some of the persons named in the document are not cited as members of the body, but as supporters of its aims or one of its aims. I should like to make that clear. I have had inquiries made in relation to the body, and although it is true that a number of wellintentioned hut, I believe,, misguided people have lent their support to some of the aims of the organization, I have no doubt that the body itself is Communistinspired.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the fact that shipping companies grant a 20 per cent, reduction of interstate fares to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen, will the Minister make representations to the Australian National Airlines Commission- with a view to a similar concession being granted by Trans-Australia Airlines and, if possible, by other airline companies, it being understood that the concession would be available only during off-peak periods, when the seats concerned would be vacant if the incapacitated ex-servicemen did not travel? Does the Minister realize that this concession would be of particular benefit to Tasmanian incapacitated exservicemen, who do not have the benefit of cheap rail fares on interstate travel?
– I shall be pleased to bring that matter to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation, and let the honorable senator have a reply.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has now supplied the following information : -
States is given in Western Australia was introduced on the 2nd May, and children in Western Australia can now have the benefit of hearing the national session prepared under the direct supervision of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s Supervisor of Children’s Sessions.
– On the 5th May, Senator Fraser asked the following question : -
Will the Minister representing the Minister for Health inform the Senate whether the drug houses of Australia have applied for the reports on the Salk poliomyelitis vaccine brought back to Australia by Dr. Bazeley? If so, what drug houses will be concerned with the production of the vaccine in Australia?
I have received from the Minister for Health the following reply to the honorable senator’s question : -
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport what expenditure was incurred by the Australian Government in connexion with the recent trade mission to South-East Asia? Can the Minister provide an analysis of the total expenditure under broad cost heads ? I ask, further, whether the Australian Government has means of recording any increase in the volume of trade gained as a result of that mission’s visit to South-East Asia?
– I shall be pleased to obtain the information if it is available. As I have said here previously, the members of that mission paid their own expenses. An experienced officer of the Australian Government was appointed to accompany the mission. It would be rather difficult to obtain the exact figures concerning the amount of trade that has been done since the visit of the mission. I know that, during the original trip of the mission to South Africa, orders worth £1,000,000 were booked, and subsequently representatives of the business firms concerned returned to that country to obtain further business. I doubt whether some Australian traders would be willing to disclose details of contracts because of the keen competition between themselves and other firms. I shall be pleased to supply the honorable senator with all the information I can obtain.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether his attention has been directed to the published statement that superphosphate is in exceedingly short supply in South Australia, particularly on Kangaroo Island, where a new soldier settlement of considerable area is being developed? Can the Minister say whether average or more than average supplies of superphosphate are arriving in Australia from import countries such as Nauru ? Has the Government any statement to make so that producers generally may be assured that supplies of this necessary commodity will be available to them?
– There has been great expansion in the superphosphate trade, and the Government has been most energetic in offering a bounty to promote the production of pyrites in order to overcome any shortage. The new mine at Nairne, in South Australia, will soon be in production, and the Western Australian mine is increasing production rapidly. I will have a check made to ascertain whether sufficient supplies of superphosphate will be available for this season. As far as my own State is concerned–
– Whichis your State?
– It is one of the sensible States - not a “ commo “ State. Some time ago Senator Pearson directed my attention to the fact that great difficulty was being experienced in obtaining sufficient labour to load superphosphate on to ships for Kangaroo Island. At my request, the Minister for Labour and National Service then arranged for a n extra gang. In addition, some farmers are arranging with certain ketch-owners to load superphosphate. I was under the impression that that difficulty had been overcome, but in view of the honorable senator’s question I shall check up.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has now furnished the following reply : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has furnished the following answers : -
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : - 1 to 3. Notice of a dispute arising out of a completely new log of claims by the Waterside Workers Federation was given to the Industrial Registrar on the 26th July, 1954. It first came before the court on the 4th August, when it was adjourned to enable the parties to confer on the matters in issue. The dispute came again before the court on the 7th September, 20th October, and 2nd November, 1954, when the court was informed about progress made at the conference. On the last-mentioned date the federation sought an adjournment to enable the conference to be continued and to permit also of the hearing by the court of other matters regarding the federation.
On the 13th December that part of the log relating to margins came before the court, and a decision on this was given on 20th December. The hearing of the log generally came again before the court on the 7th, 8th, 9th, 14th, loth and 17th February, 19155, and was then adjourned because of other business of the court. The hearing continued on the 21st and 28th March, and on the latter date the federation asked th;:t the hearing be adjourned pending the investigation by the committee of inquiry into the stevedoring industry. This application was refused by the court which, nevertheless, granted an adjournment of the hearing of the log generally to the 20th July, and stated its intention to proceed with particular parts of the log, such as the claim regarding sling-loads. The hearing of this latter matter commenced on the 20th April, proceeded on the 21st, 26th, 27th and 28th April, and the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th and 10th May, and is still in progress.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator O’sullivan) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to give effect to the Government’s decision, already announced, to extend for a period of three years the assistance at present afforded to the Australian cotton-growing industry under the Cotton Bounty Act 1951-1952. Under the present act, growers of cotton in Australia are guaranteed an average price per lb. of seed cotton until the 31st December, 1955. This bill will extend that guarantee until the 31st December, 1958. The existing legislation provided for an average guaranteed price of 14d. per lb. seed cotton for the year 1953 with a proviso that, in subsequent years, the rate of guarantee could be varied ‘by regulation, but not so as to fall below 9d. per lb. of seed cotton. In fact, the guaranteed price has been 14d. per lb. of seed cotton since the 1953 season, and the Government has already announced that, subject to this legislation receiving parliamentary approval, the price of 14d. will apply to cotton produced during the 1956 season.
Cotton-growing in Queensland dates back to the last century. During the American civil war, the price of cotton rose steeply, and cultivation in Queensland rapidly developed until 14,000 acres were under cotton. However, after American production was restored, the Australian industry rapidly declined. Since then, various efforts have been made to revive the industry, generally by means of an
Australian Government Bounty. In the 1930’s, production again started to in- crease, reaching in 1934 a peak of over 17,000 bales of raw cotton from nearly :>0,000 acres. However, when war broke out in 1939, production declined rapidly, due partly to shortages of man-power, and partly in concentration on the production of foodstuffs. After the war, other crops appeared more attractive to farmers, and production of cotton continued to fall, until in 1949, the total crop was only slightly in excess of 500 bales of raw cotton.
When the present Government came to power it reviewed the industry’s position, and decided that further assistance, by way of a bounty, was justified.
Accordingly, the Cotton Bounty Act 1931, guaranteed cotton-growers an average price of 9-Jd. per lb. of seed cotton for a period of five years from the 1st January, 195:1. After two years, this guarantee was increased to 14d. per lb. of seed cotton for the year 1953 with a proviso that for subsequent years to the 31st December, 1955, the rate of guarantee could be varied by regulation, but not so as to fall below 9$d. per lb. As I mentioned previously, the present legislation seeks to extend these provisions for a further period of three years.
As a result of the guaranteed price, interest in cotton-growing in Queensland has revived and production has increased annually from 522 bales in 1949 to 4,229 bales in 1953. The 1954 crop was smaller at 2,819 bales, the season being climatically adverse. However, the estimate for the current crop is 7,500 bales which is the highest since the early years of the war. Considerable benefits may be expected from the expansion which has been encouraged by the guarantee given to the Australian cotton-growing industry. These benefits include the diversification of our economy; the savings in dollar funds by reducing the quantity of cotton which must be imported; the cotton grassland rotation system which is of great value to dairy-farmers; and the provision of by-products, including pro- tein-rich cattle food. The industry is also important from a defence viewpoint.
The monetary cost to the Commonwealth of the guarantee must be considered in relation to these benefits. To date, the only payment made under the present act was £17,651, for cotton grown during the 1953 season, whilst the estimated amount which will be required for the 1954 crop is £25,250. Estimates of the cost in future years will depend on several factors - the net price obtained for the raw cotton and by-products, having regard to costs of ginning; the quantity and quality of the crop; and the level of the guaranteed price.
Raw cotton produced in Australia is sold to cotton spinners at prices equivalent to the landed duty free cost of imported cotton. The difference between the amount realized and the guaranteed price is met by a bounty payment. The amount of bounty required, therefore, depends largely on world prices which, in turn, are greatly influenced by the American price policy. So long as American policy is directed to the stabilization of prices, world cotton prices may be expected to remain relatively stable as compared with the fluctuations which characterized the market during the period between the wars. The capacity of the present cotton ginning plant in Queensland is sufficient to cater for a substantial increase of production. The unit cost of ginning cotton diminishes up to the point where plant capacity is reached. It has been estimated that, based on present costs and prices, little or no bounty payment would be required should production reach 20,000 bales of raw cotton per annum. As regards the quantity of cotton, the Australian Agricultural Council in 1952 set a target of 60,000 acres of cotton to be reached by 1957-58. An acreage of this extent might be expected to produce about 20,000 bales of raw cotton.
In past years, the quality of the cotton produced has not been as uniformly good as might be desired. Quantities of lowgrade cordage and bedding types have been produced and these have been difficult to dispose of on the Australian market. Australia’s consumption of raw cotton approximates 80,000 bales pei annum, but the demand is largely for medium and long staple cottons of high grade. As this year’s estimated production represents less than 10 per cent. of our requirements, it is obvious that there is ample scope for increased production of the required grades of raw cotton before our requirements are met.
When the Australian Government first gave the guarantee of 91/2d. per lb., it obtained from the Queensland Government assurances that it would pursue -
These are necessarily long-term projects, and it will be some time before significant results can be expected. Mechanization of harvesting the crop has been proceeded with on an increasing scale, but much remains to be done in the education of growers in the most efficient methods of cotton production. The Government considers that the extension of the bounty for a period of three years will give growers the opportunity to increase production to an economic level, and that there is no reason why the Australian cotton-growing industry should not become firmly established.
Debate (on motion by Senator Courtice) 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 repeal the legislation rela ting to the Australian Rabbit Skins Board. This board was created as a war-time authority to ensure an adequate supply of rabbit skins at reasonable prices for both military and civilian use. The control scheme administered by the AustralianRabbit Skins Board began in 1940, and continued until 1949. The board derived its powers from the. National Security (Rabbit Skins) Regulations.
Under the scheme, quotas of rabbit skins were allocated to hat factories and the hat manufacturers were reimbursed the difference between the appraised prices of the skins as specified in a schedule prepared by the board and the ruling market prices. The buying was so organized that the hat manufacturers did not compete amongst themselves. Funds to meet the subsidy payments and to cover administrative expenses were derived from a levy on exports of rabbit skins under tie Rabbit Skins Export Charges Act 1940-1942. The collection of the export levy was suspended as from September, 1948, but the scheme itself continued in operation until April, 1949.
The National Security (Rabbit Skins) Regulations lapsed in 1949, but as there were some outstanding matters, including claims against the board, the other legislation relating to the board was allowed to stand for the timebeing. All of the board’s affairs have now been wound up, and there is no further reason for maintaining the legislation relating to the board.
– The Opposition regards this bill asa machinery measure and supports it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from 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 object of this bill is to provide machinery enabling the Government to levy fees for the consular acts performed by the Department of External Affairs and by Australian officials abroad. Consular acts are easier to list than to define generally. “Within the meaning of this bill, they are those normally performed by consuls in the course of their official duties, and falling within the categories recognized by international practice. Broadly speaking, they are administrative or legal services performed by Australian Government officials abroad on behalf of Australian citizens travelling or resident overseas, or having dealings with overseas countries which require administrative sanction ; or on behalf of citizens of other countries who have administrative dealings with the various Australian authorities. I can make this clearer by listing some of the more common consular acts, such as the issuing of passports, the granting of vises, the taking overseas of affidavits and declarations for use in Australia, the authentication of signatures on documents, and the certification of translations. Generally, these acts are performed by officials overseas, but the Department of External Affairs in Canberra is often asked to perform them as well.
Most consular acts are in the nature of specific services which are rendered to members of the public generally and, this being so. it is reasonable to make a charge for them. Of course, all diplomatic, consular, and trade commissioner activity is undertaken on the public behalf generally. Consular acts, in the sense meant here, are precise services rendered to particular individuals which if rendered at home, would, in most cases, be undertaken by municipal authorities or private legal practitioners, who would charge for them. The Australian taxpayer, who provides the machinery for these services abroad, is, I think, entitled to expect the beneficiaries to contribute towards their cost. Such charges are, in any case, general in international practice. For instance, the United Kingdom scale of charges for consular acts contains more than 100 items, and the Canadian scale more than 50 items.
So far as Australia is concerned, the principle of charging for consular acts is relatively novel, and only follows the establishment of an Australian External Affairs service. It may be relevant to mention here that Australian practice does not distinguish, as does the practice of some countries, between a diplomatic service and a consular service. The performance of consular acts by Australian officials abroad is not confined to consuls as such. For this reason, honorable senators will observe that the bill covers the performance of consular acts by both the diplomatic and consular officers of the External Affairs service, and by members of the Trade Commissioner service of the Department of Commerce.
The bill does not, in itself, purport to prescribe the fees which will be payable. It leaves these to be prescribed by regulations, which will list in detail the charges for each particular act. There is already provision under existing legislation for fees to be levied for the performance of certain specified consular acts. For example, the Passports Act and the regulations made under it lay down the fees for the issue of passports. For most normal consular acts, however, no fee is charged at present, particularly for those acts which are of a quasi-legal nature. The bill provides that a fee under this measure is not chargeable in respect of an act for which a fee is chargeable under another act. Finally, the bill provides that a list of fees payable for the performance of consular acts shall be displayed in a conspicuous position at all overseas posts.
– The Opposition offers no objection to the passage of this measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
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.
This bill provides for the setting up of a Commonwealth bureau of meteorology with appropriate and necessary functions for the up-to-date application of meteorology to civil aviation, shipping, primary production, industry, trade and commerce. It proposes the repeal of the Meteorology Act 1906, a short measure which provides for the establishment of observatories, the appointment of a Commonwealth meteorologist, and the making of arrangements in respect of meteorological matters with State governments and the governments of other countries. It was designed principally to cover the taking over by the Commonwealth of the meteorological services previously conducted by the States. The provisions of the 1906 act are now quite out-of-date and actually serve no useful purpose.
The activities of the Commonwealth in the sphere of meteorology have necessarily developed beyond the usages of weather information as foreseen. 50 years ago. Since that time, the availability of diverse and complicated meteorological information has become essential to the success of operations by the armed services and civil aviation, and is of increasing importance for the protection of life and property, and the day-to-day convenience of the public. It is also desirable to bring the meteorological authority of the Commonwealth into line with the functions of agencies of the United Nations, to which Australia is a signatory. The principal commitments in this regard are membership of the World Meteorological Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization. Further, it has become incumbent to make proper arrangements for the specialized application of meteorology to many fields which in the past were beyond practical limitations. These involve the training of staff and the carrying out of investigations to takeadvantage of developments in meteorological science. In addition, the growth and development of modern telecommunications has presented completely new concepts of the means of collecting and distributing meteorological reports and information which form the rawmaterial and the products of the bureau. In particular, therefore, this bill will provide legislative authority for the Bureau of Meteorology to undertake such functions as -
– The Opposition appreciates the importance of the subject-matter of this bill. The purposes of the measure have been adequately explained by the Minister, and I do no more than record the fact that it has our support.
. -Having had a very quick look at the bill, I merely wish to make the observation that it appears that the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology is to be entitled to charge for services rendered. The Public Accounts Committee, at one time, had occasion to consider the matter of services performed by departments for client departments. The Postal Department performs a great service for the Bureau of Meteorology and I think it was found that no charge was made for that service. Meteorological telegrams are sent without charge as a matter of public service. The Public Accounts Committee considered the matter, and embodiedin a report its opinion that, in order to get the truest possible picture of the financial position of one department as against another at any time - with some exceptions, of which the Department of Works was one - departments which perform work for client departments should be entitled to make an appropriate charge.
I understand that, in future, the Bureau of Meteorology will pay the Postmaster-General’s Department an adequate fee for services rendered. I presume that if the bureau, in its turn, were to perform services for other departments, it could quite equitably and justly charge fees for these services. That is a good financial principle, and I am happy to see it embodied in the provisions of this bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– As honorable senators are aware, the late Mr. Inigo Jones was responsible for making very accurate weather forecasts, not only in respect of Queensland, but also for the other States of the Commonwealth. His methods were considered to be unorthodox by many meteorologists, but his forecasts were of great benefit to many people. I should like to know how his records are being treated and whether his successor will fit into the plan to establish a Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology. Is it proposed to continue the use of those methods in making available information which was of great benefit for such a long time?
– I understand that the new arrangement will not interfere with the practices mentioned by Senator O’Byrne.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 5th May (vide page 194), on motion by Senator Spicer -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill originated in this chamber some time ago with an interesting speech by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer). Its purposes are simple. It appears that, under the existing Crimes Act, it is an offence for anybody to counterfeit any gold coin which is current. As the Minister pointed out, when recently a person in Melbourne was charged with counterfeiting a large number of gold sovereigns - a fact that he did not dispute - the plea made on his behalf was that the coins were no longer current. This interesting point was successfully taken and the accused was acquitted.
– In what court was that “matter heard?
– In the Court of Quarter Sessions.
– Some people have the impression that it was heard in the Supreme Court.
– That is not so, because the matter did not go beyond the Quarter Sessionshearing. This legislation seeks to rectify that position and to bring the law into line with that operating in the United Kingdom so that, in future, “current coin” will include any coin that is, or has been, minted in the Queen’s mints. The Opposition approves of that proposal.
Two other provisions written into the Crimes Act by this bill are taken from the War Precautions Act (Repeal) Act, which are really carry-over provisions from the first world war. The first relates to the defacing or destroying of currency and carries a proper penalty for such an offence. The Opposition agrees with the inclusion of that amendment in the more appropriate repository of the Crimes Act. Associated with it in the War Precautions Act. (Repeal) Act is another provision, not entirely of equal significance. It makes an offence of defacing or destroying posters used to advertise Commonwealth loans. It seems to be a relatively insignificant matter to find in the Crimes Act, and, without having examined any State legislation on the subject, I should have thought that there would be adequate State legislation to prevent the destruction of property, particularly public property of this kind. Although the Opposition has no objection to the inclusion of this provision in the bill, we do not regard it as a matter of great significance because this kind of offence might well be covered by State legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 10th May (vide page 260), on motion by Senator Spicer -
That this hill be now read a second time.
– This bill to amend the Public Service Arbitration Act was introduced into the Senate yesterday by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) and, but for the facilities that that honorable gentleman has been good enough to extend to me in the meantime, I should not, to-day, be able to give it anything like adequate consideration. My colleagues and I have been appreciably assisted in our consideration of the measure by the form in which it is placed before this chamber. I congratulate the Attorney-General upon presenting, along with the copy of the amending bill and of his second-reading speech, a complete reprint of the existing legislation showing in italics the sections proposed to be amended, and, alongside them, in heavy, clearly visible type, the alterations that the bill proposes to make. That is a great convenience, and I hope that the Attorney-General’s example will be followed in subsequent amending measures where the scope of the amendments or the legislation involved will allow such a course. I thank the
Attorney-General also for making available copies of the judgments delivered in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and recently in the High Court, affecting the measure now before us.
The Attorney-General’s second- reading speech adequately particularized the purposes of the measure, but in commenting on those purposes, I shall not follow the order in which that honorable senator dealt with them. I shall take the consolidated bill, as I may describe it, and deal with the matters in the order in which they arise. I direct attention first to proposed new section 14a which hae appeared in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act in slightly different words since 1904. When a Labour government made rather extensive alterations to that act in 1947, this provision was again incorporated. I was somewhat surprised at first to see it brought within the scope of the Public Service Arbitration Bill. It gives complete discretion to the Arbitrator, if he thinks that any matter before him is trivial, or can be dealt with to greater advantage by some other tribunal, or that it is unnecessary or undesirable in the public interest to deal with a claim or application made to him under this act, or a matter forming part of, or arising out of, such a claim or application, to refrain from hearing it or from further hearing it. One can have no objection to the first two conditions - his power to dismiss a triviality or refrain from dealing with a matter that could more conveniently be passed to some other tribunal or body; but I was particularly impressed by the width of the provision in this proposed new section, under which the Arbitrator, in his completely unfettered discretion, can say, in relation to any particular matter, that it is unnecessary or undesirable for him, in the public interest, to attend to it. As the clause stands, it seems to me that there is no limit on how far the Public Service Arbitrator may go in that matter. I am interested to know if anything in particular has prompted the insertion of the clause in this measure. That provision could be used vexatiously or capriciously to delay the adjudication of a matter. It could be used, of course, very properly. I can see it being used in relation to a major matter that would have national repercussions. The Arbitrator might feel that it was better to defer his hearing until a body, such as the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, had pronounced upon the particular issues. Whilst, from a broad viewpoint, it might be desirable that he should defer it, one cannot help feeling concern, on the part of those involved in industrial disputes, that delays might arise from such a procedure. Whilst the whole matter is within the discretion of the Arbitrator, I should be interested to hear the Attorney-General comment on what prompted the inclusion of this clause, and whether he, from a governmental viewpoint - although I know he cannot bind the Arbitrator - is in a position to give any assurance that this provision will not be exercised capriciously. I should appreciate it, too, if he was able to inform the Senate of the kind of cases in which the Government considers that that exceedingly wide power should be exercised. Is he in a position to suggest the ambit of the power, within the mind of the Government at least?
I pass now to the second matter, which deals with references from the Arbitrator either to the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court or to the Full Arbitration Court. Those provisions are dealt with only incidentally in section 15a of the principal act, but substantially in section 15b. If one concedes the virtue of permitting appeals from the Public Service Arbitrator to either the Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court or the Full Court, one can take no exception at all to the provision that, instead of referring, or appealing on, the whole of the judgment, that course might be followed as to a part of an award, or any part of it. In effect, the clause provides for what I might loosely describe as two-way traffic. Not only could the Arbitrator refer part of an award, or part of a dispute, to the Arbitration Court, but the Arbitration Court or the Chief Judge is authorized again to refer back any part of an award from the Arbitrator.
If one approves the principle of appeals, and is not concerned at all with finality being reached with the Public Service Arbitrator, one could, with some misgivings as to the vexatious use that could be made of that procedure, take no very grave exception to the proposal. But the Opposition has already declared quite emphatically its attitude to appeals. It is that, once the Public Service Arbitrator has heard the whole matter, that ought to be the end of the situation. The Arbitrator’s decision should stand. We are opposed to appeals. With those comments, I leave that phase of the measure.
Section 19 of the principal act deals with representation of parties before the Arbitrator by a qualified legal practitioner, whether counsel or a solicitor. Here, a most interesting position arises, because, under section 19, which it is now proposed to amend the provision was very simply, and exceedingly clearly stated in these words -
No person or organization shall in any proceeding under this Act be represented by counsel or solicitor.
Recently, the Public Service Clerical Association had an application before the Arbitrator and the matter went before the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The question arose as to whether the general secretary of that organization, who had been called to the bar in New South Wales some years ago, but who had never practised, was entitled to represent his association. The Chief Judge held that, under section 19. he was not so entitled. Then, on an application for an order nisi for mandamus to the High Court, the Chief Judge’s ruling came up for consideration, and the High Court, consisting of the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Dixon, Mr. Justice McTiernan, Mr. Justice Williams, Mr. Justice Webb, Mr. Justice Fullagar Mr. Justice Kitto, and Mr. Justice Taylor, unanimously held that section 19 meant representation in the professional capacity of solicitor or counsel, and that that did not apply to a person who was a member of an organization which was a party to arbitration, or to an officer of an organization which was a party to arbitral proceedings before the Public’ Service Arbitrator. The court held that view, even if a solicitor or counsel was not appearing in any professional capacity, but as an officer or member of an organization that wa.s privy to the matter before the Arbitrator.
So, the High Court unanimously reversed the decision of the Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court, and held that it was quite competent for a person who was a duly qualified legal practitioner to appear, despite section 19, so long as he was an officer or a member of the organization in question.
This bill proposes to write that interpretation positively into the act. But it goes one step further, and provides that, in the case of a reference or an appeal to the Chief Judge, or to the Full Arbitration Court, from the Public Service Arbitrator, counsel, or solicitors, may be allowed to represent, the parties if the court or the Chief Judge gives leave. The broad attitude of the Opposition to all that is quite clear. The High Council of Public Service Organizations, although resisting appeal provisions altogether, and sharing the view of this Opposition that there should be no appeal from decisions of the Public Service Arbitrator, has nevertheless, we are told, approved these two particular provisions, which give some scope for legal representation. The attitude of the Opposition has been stated time and again in this chamber, and I shall now put our views very simply to the Senate. There ought to be an end to proceedings that are in the nature of industrial disputes. There should be no appeal. We believe that arbitration should proceed with more expedition and fewer legalisms. We recognize that it is inevitable that the services of properly qualified legal practitioners will be required in constitutional matters, and in connexion with some legal propositions, but we believe that they should be kept out of the processes of arbitration.
At the committee stage I shall move, on behalf of the Opposition, an amendment to delete the provisions that the Government now proposes to write into section 19, and to go back to the position that will permit counsel or solicitors to appear, but only with the consent of the parties to any particular proceedings. We are not blindly, as an Opposition, setting our face against legal representation; we are saying that it should not be allowed except with the consent of all the parties to the proceedings.
There remains only one other matter of moment under the bill. It is dealt with in clause 21. Hitherto, in connexion with the operation of an award by the Arbitrator the law has provided that -
Any determination of the Arbitrator shall be expressed to come into operation as from a date fixed by the Arbitrator, not earlier than after the expiration of thirty days after the determination has been laid before both Houses of the Parliament.
In this connexion, a very interesting thing has happened. In February last, on a vital issue - that of marginal increases for Commonwealth public servants - the Public Service Arbitrator promulgated what purported to be a declaration or award. As that declaration is brief, I shall give its exact terms -
That in relation to any memorial or application which is before me in these proceedings adjustments of wage or salary rates shall, insofar as the margins contained in those wage or salary rates are concerned, be effected, as nearly as practicable, in accordance with the principles and formula of the Metal Trades Margins Judgment made by the Full Court of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration on the 5th November, 1954.
The Public Service Board - no doubt with the concurrence of the Government - appealed against that purported declaration or award. When the matter came before Chief Judge Kelly, His Honour held that there was not any award. He did so, primarily, for the reason that no date had been fixed for its operation. The fixing of a date waa mandatory. He decided that, as no date had been specified for the award to operate, there was in fact no award; and as there was no award there could not be an appeal. He also held that there was not a proper award for another reason, namely, that it was too inconclusive in its terms, and was not capable of exact definition because it was so obscure. On those two grounds it was decided that the matter should not proceed any further.
Faced with that difficulty, the Government now proposes to introduce a new provision which, instead of obliging the Arbitrator to fix a date, sets out that the Parliament will be asked to fix a date, and to say that an award by the Arbitrator shall come into effect 30 days from the day on which it ia laid before the Parliament, or on such further date as the Arbitrator may particularize. That means that the question of an award operating from some date will not arise again, even if the Arbitrator does not mention a date. I do not object to that provision, but I am concerned, and my colleagues are concerned, that this question of margins, which affects so many people vitally, should be still in suspense. In February last, the Arbitrator made what he intended to be a broad resolution of the matter, leaving only some details to be sketched in. That has been followed by an appeal by the Public Service Board, with the result that I have indicated. The matter is now back with the Public Service Arbitrator. [ have no doubt that he, adhering to the broad considerations that influenced him when he made his first pronouncement on the 17 th February, will come to the same, or a similar, conclusion, although it will be in a somewhat different form, and will be more specific. Nor have I any doubt that, at that point, there will be another appeal by the Public Service Board, again with the concurrence of the Government, to the Full Court of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration against the Arbitrator’s decision. All that will take time. In the meantime, those who are likely to be affected by the award - and there are many thousands of them - are left in suspense. This is a very good example of the kind of appeals that can occur when appeals are permitted.
We are concerned that there should be retrospective operation back to the 17th February of whatever award is finally made and survives appeals. I have looked with care at the terms of the existing legislation, and I can find nothing to prove, or to negate, the power of the Arbitrator to make an award retrospective. I understand that most awards, whilst they operate only from some date after they are laid on the table of both Houses of the Parliament, are retrospective in effect. In other words, it has been the practice of the Arbitrator to date his awards back to some time close to the date on which the log of claims was filed. I am concerned that there should be nothing in the amendment now before the Senate, or in any amendment, that will cut down the Arbitrator’s power - a power hitherto exercised without question - to make an award operate retrospectively. I had considered an amendment to provide that whatever is done should be retrospective in its operation, but I am faced with the difficulty that I have not an award before me. The Court has declared that there is no award, and that there can be no appeal. There is, therefore, no definition on which to base such a provision. Onbehalf of the Opposition I can only express the hope that the Arbitrator will have regard to the need to date his award back to the 17 th February at least - the date when he made his original pronouncement. I feel sure that he will do so, but I should be happy if the AttorneyGeneral would give an assurance that, in such an event, the Government would not interpose any difficulty. I have nothing further to say on the subject of the bill. It is an important measure which vitally affects a great number of people.
– Speaking to the amending bill in relation to the Public Service Arbitration Act, which has been brought before the Senate by the Attorney-General (Senator .Spicer), I associate myself with those who have stressed the importance of this legislation. On the one hand there is the Treasury, controlled and guarded by this Parliament, which is supposed to represent the people, and on the other hand there is the great body of public servants. The influence of the Public Service on the Government and its contribution to the development of Australia should not be under-estimated. Composed, as it is, of highly distinguished officers and others, it brings to bear upon the Australian Government a very great influence. I find it satisfactory that,, after many years, this Parliament provided a means of arbitration for thefixation of conditions and the adjustment, of conditions under which the officers of the Public Service work. Thereby, it removed from the field of grievance, disputes which, if left to be determined between the government of the day and its servants, might precipitate undesirable- situations in relation to a service upon which, the public development of the country depends. Continuity of effort and energy in the Public Service is essential. For those reasons, the system of arbitration in this field was foreseen, very early in the history of Federation, as a wise and just method of settling disputes.
However, the mere fact that the settlement of those disputes is committed to the Public Service Arbitrator does not deprive the Parliament of its responsibility in this matter. The bill before the Senate provides that, with the leave of a judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, there may be an appeal to the court in relation to determinations of the Public Service Arbitrator. That is the first provision of the bill that has been challenged by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). He made the same challenge in connexion with a similar provision in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act as applied to industrial disputes in general. Honorable senators on the Government side believe that it is wise to have an ultimate jurisdiction residing in the Arbitration Court and the Chief Judge of the court so as to co-ordinate the various levels upon which the arbitral tribunals fix salaries and conditions. “We hold that belief because, if there is one matter that, more than another, would lead to discontent among the persons interested in the economy of the country, it is glaring disparity between the levels of remuneration of different sections of the people. Therefore, an ultimate jurisdiction on the part of the Arbitration Court is a very vital link in co-ordinating the industrial jurisdiction of Australia, in the opinion of supporters of the Government..
The second provision to which the Leader of the Opposition adverted was that contained in section 19 of the principal act. That is an excellent illustration of how the robust principles of industrial arbitration can be troubled if an attempt is made to revise particular provisions for sectional reasons. Apparently, when the original bill was being prepared, somebody decided to try to prevent prolixity and technicality in industrial jurisdiction by providing that no’ person or organization should be represented by counsel or a solicitor. That is complete proscription of counsel or solicitors as persons to assist those engaged in an industrial dispute. As the Attorney-‘General and the Leader of the Opposition have stated, the Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court gave one interpretation of that section, and the High Court of Australia gave another. I believe that there is great satisfaction in the more broadly based view of the High Court. When I listened to the AttorneyGeneral’s speech yesterday, and the proposal of the Government to add the imprimatur of this Parliament to that decision, I flinched somewhat because, in my experience, it is not regarded as altogether a compliment that the decision of a superior court should need the confirmation of the Parliament to sustain its correctness. I hasten to add that my reading of the bill shows that there is no such intention behind the Government’s measure and indeed, on perusal, it is not open to that interpretation.
Sub-section 1 of proposed new section 19 stands in its original form. Therefore, I take it that it is indisputably governed by the decision of the High Court; but occasion is taken in sub-section 2 of the new section to extend the principle of the nigh Court’s decision to applications which did not directly arise in the facts of the case that was submitted to the High Court. If my understanding of it is correct, I simply note my satisfaction that this provision is not introduced in any sense as a buttress to the correctness of the High Court’s decision.
Proceeding further, I find that it is now to bo made clear that any of the various parties concerned - the organization, the Minister, the Public Service Board itself, a public institution or authority of the Commonwealth - may be represented before the Public Service Arbitrator by an officer or a member of those bodies. I express my regret that it is not permissible, with the leave of the Arbitrator, that the parties before him should be represented by counsel or solicitor, just as in the subsequent sub-section provision is made for representation of the disputants by counsel or solicitor with the leave of the court when they appeal to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. I wish to take a few minutes of the Senate’s time to discuss this principle because if there is one thing that we in Australia, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, regard as precious, it is the principle of the rule of law. It has been the product of centuries of labour on the part of learned men whose qualification is marked by entrance to the legal profession. The history of our courts shows that our judges have been selected from the profession and nowhere else, and they have had the prime responsibility for the development of this system which is the envy of European continental countries, including those which are not behind the Iron Curtain. If only those countries behind the Iron Curtain had had a glimpse of the system of British justice, with all its imperfections and human failings, they would throw off the Communist yoke and seek freedom because the rule of law in a British community is the chief guarantee of freedom. Yet the members of the profession that has been responsible for the practical administration of the law and the judges - the superior beings of the profession who have developed the system - are the people who have been proscribed from participation in that new jurisdiction which Mr. Justice Higgins regarded as a new province for law and order.
It has occurred to me that a reminder of the way in which representation by counsel has developed in our criminal courts may not be unacceptable to honorable senators. I think it was prior to the year 1700 that no person who was accused in our courts of crime was entitled to be represented by counsel. At page 424 of the first volume of Stephens’ History of Criminal Law the following remarks may be read : -
From the middle of the eighteenth century to our own time there has been but little change in the character of criminal trials, and it is unnecessary to give further illustrations of them. The most remarkable change introduced into the practice of the courts was the process by which the old rule which deprived prisoners of the assistance of counsel in trials for felony was gradually relaxed. A practice sprung up, the growth of which cannot now be traced, by which counsel were allowed to do everything for prisoners accused of felony except addressing the jury for them.
Holdsworth’s History of Criminal Law, volume 9, at page 235, tells of the different attitude of the judiciary, which arose after the revolution of 1688, and which stemmed from a principle that is now wasting away in the inflationary and taxation tendencies of this Commonwealth. That principle is the complete independence of the judiciary. A changed attitude on the part of judges stemmed from that principle. As Holdsworth says -
But very much more was done by the change in the character of the bench which occurred after the Revolution, by the growing precision in the rules of evidence, and, as the result of these influences, by the growth of humanity to accused persons.
Holdsworth then refers to the trend that was mentioned by Stephens. He writes -
The result was that when in 1837 the Prisoners’ Counsel Act gave to persons accused of felony the right to be defended by counsel, the change made was not nearly so great as that made by the act of 1005, which had given the same privilege to persons accused of high treason.
We are apt to consider that the right to be represented by counsel is inalienable. It has been forged out of centuries of experience, and no citizen of Australia would consider it to be consonant with British justice for a man to stand his trial for any offence, serious or insignificant, and be denied representation by a member of the legal profession. Why, then, should this right be denied in connexion with complicated matters relating to arbitration conditions for the Public Service, which involve fundamental constitutional concepts, which place obligations on the Treasury of the country, which involve an appreciation of the importance of the Public Service and which often involve legal questions in the consideration of which counsel may be of assistance? If disputants consider that they could be assisted by the presence of counsel, why should this Parliament, by law, deny them the right to employ counsel? Any one who is really interested in the development of the industrial arbitration jurisdiction should read the statements that were made by Mr. Justice Dunphy and Mr. Justice Wright on that subject in 1951. The development of that jurisdiction has been parallel with the development of common law, and it is indicative of a completely benighted outlook to allege that a person with an industrial grievance will receive better justice if the tribunal is muffled in darkness and is not permitted light.
Why should an industrial tribunal be denied the assistance that may be given by counsel-at-law, and have to rely upon persons who have no skill of that kind? I do not advocate the introduction of legal advocacy into all industrial disputes. The non-legal advocate who has made this jurisdiction his particular province, is often a most lucid exponent of the principles that are relevant to an industrial determination. Such men should be allowed to continue in the work in. which they are skilled. But the determination to which Senator McKenna referred is a perfect illustration of the way in which the public servants of the Commonwealth have been denied a just determination of their claims at a proper time. It is simply because of an oversight in relation to section 21 of the original legislation that the powers which the Arbitrator purported to exercise have been declared void. Is it suggested that legal assistance in that case would not have prevented that oversight?
– It would not have saved the situation.
– Had he received legal assistance, it might have been suggested to the Arbitrator that it was not within his power to tell some one to go away and determine salaries with reference to some vague principle concerning two-and-a-half times a certain rate. That was one ground upon which the determination fell down. I am sim’ply instancing non-compliance with the original section 21 as resulting in appeal after appeal, delays, re-hearing, and therefore a denial of an appropriate determination for a period. In some instances, legal representation before the arbitrator, and also before the tribunal, may be of assistance. I refer the Senate to Mr, Feonander’s book Industrial Regulation in Australia, in which he says -
The court, in such circumstances, is disposed to permit a barrister or solicitor to plead, knowing the assistance that well informed trained men can render. Thus, abstruse points of law, as well as intricate questions of fact, are often to be dealt with in reaching the pre liminary decision whether there is existent a dispute cognizable within the meaning of the Act. A good deal of time and irritation, too, can be saved by the engagement of lawyers who can present or state a ease with ability and effect, who can argue it with conciseness, and who can examine and cross-examine witnesses, directly and with despatch.
Having said that, let me make it quite clear that I do not practice in the industrial sphere. The industrial jurisdiction in Tasmania is insignificant. It is in no spirit other than the advancement of this jurisdiction, with the assistance of the legal profession, when that can be of help, that I bring this matter to the attention of the Senate. I hope that my remarks will be instrumental in provoking interest in the repeal of all such prohibitions as this in our industrial legislation, to enable those with grievances in the industrial sphere to engage the services of experts in the legal profession, if they wish to do so, or of non-legal advocates, if they prefer that course.
– It is hardly necessary, after the comprehensive and analytical approach to the bill by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), for the field which, he covered so adequately and in such detail to be covered again by me. I intend, however, to make some remarks concerning the question of legal representation before the court, which is associated with the question of the multiplicity of appeals and references. The two matters are interrelated. I was extremely interested to hear the most intelligent contribution of Senator Wright to this discussion, though I may disagree with him fundamentally on the matters that he presented to honorable senators this afternoon.
In the Queensland arbitration system, the principles to be followed are these set down in the principal act which is now being amended, that is, that the tribunal should operate according to equity and good conscience. Legal representation is not allowed except, in particular circumstances, by consent of all parties or on a reference concerning a point of law. The mistake made by Senator Wright was that he completely overlooked the juridical principles that are to be applied in the arbitration jurisdiction. The question of the rule of law, which, I think, is a term used by the famous constitutional lawyer and historian, Dicey, undoubtedly is of paramount importance in all jurisdictions in the British Commonwealth, in the constitutional and judicial system under which we operate. But we must recognize chat there is growing in our community to-day a system of law parallel to the ordinary civil and criminal systems, and the common law, which are a part of the very fabric of our national life and judicial and juridical traditions. The same thing has happened in other countries. In France, for instance, there is a body of law called the Le Droit Admini strate, or administrative law. It has its own tribunals, and the principles applied in that jurisdiction are quite distinct from those applied in the ordinary courts.
In the British Commonwealth, we are going through a period of legal transition. Senator Wright referred to the difficulty, which is a common one being presented to all peoples who operate under the British system of law and justice, of admitting into a system of administrative tribunals, what he and Dicey have referred to as “the rule of law It is, actually, a question of the degree to which the rule of law, in the strict acceptance of that term, should be injected into the administrative tribunals. Senator Wright, apparently, wants the injection to be complete. Tribunals, quite apart from those of the industrial arbitration system, are operating in our community to-day. One which occurs to me is the system of tribunals under the Repatriation Act, where individual rights, and financial and other rights to certain entitlements, are decided by a series of tribunals, proceeding from one to the other, until a final entitlement tribunal or an assessment tribunal is reached. Chose tribunals do not proceed on the strict principles of law which operate in respect of other jurisdictions. [ do not know that they are precluded from doing so, but in fact, they operate according to equity and good conscience, as the arbitration tribunals are expressly required to operate under the statute.
To adopt the attitude and point of view of Senator Wright, and to try to inject the whole of the rule of law into administrative tribunals of the industrial or repatriation character, which would be fettered and hampered by that injection, would completely destroy the concept of those jurisdictions. That is why the legislators have always, by the use of the terms “ equity “ and “ good conscience “.. expressly excluded the strict application of legal principles because they say that there is no parallel, and that the questions that are involved in hearings before administrative tribunals, as distinct from judicial tribunals, are not the same. Speed, for one thing, is an important element in industrial jurisdictions. Perhaps the position might be stated correctly by saying that a quick measure of broad justice is possibly more important to the individual, and perhaps vitally important to the State, than is a slow application of an absolute standard of strict justice. That is a decision which any legislator has to make between administrative tribunals of this character and strictly judicial tribunals, such as our criminal and other jurisdictions. On the balance of advantages, I do not think that any reasonable person would want unduly to hamper our administrative tribunals by clinging completely to the rule of law. Undoubtedly, the rule of law cannot be disregarded. If, in our social and political 01’der we should ever have a separate and parallel system of administrative law, that system would have to adopt, in broad outline, the juridical principles which are adopted, and commonly accepted, in other jurisdictions. There can be no complete divorce of administrative tribunals from the rule of law, using that phrase in its broadest meaning. Otherwise, we might perhaps have a system of courts which could become, ultimately, tyrannical and not subject to appeal to the superior courts of justice. But provided that we keep a proper balance, we shall have cheap law from the point of view of the litigant. By “ cheap law “ I mean law that is not so expensive that expense is a deterrent to the litigant and makes access to the tribunal beyond his financial means. In addition, we shall have reasonably accurate law in matters where the vital principles of individual liberty are not necessarily involved, as they are in the criminal courts.
On the question of strict legal representation, which, as honorable senators will see, is tied up with this other question whether administrative tribunals such as these should proceed according to the rule of law, if we are not going to apply strict legal principles - and they are virtually outlawed by the use of the terms equity “ and “ good conscience “ - then it is completely logical to say that we do not require men who are expert and skilled in the knowledge and application of such principles to be there in order to apply principles which have been expressly excluded. If one is accepted it is only reasonable that the other must be accepted also and that is how it has operated in our community. In circumstances where the rule of law is to be applied to questions of legal or constitutional interpretations, lawyers have been admitted by permission of the court. The amendment foreshadowed by the Leader of the Opposition does not preclude that possibility.
– It does ; their admission will depend on the consent of the other party.
– That is so, and that is the point I am coming to. If a fundamental principle of individual civil and constitutional law emerges, the consent of parties to legal representation will be granted. There is little or no doubt about that.
– The honorable senator is optimistic.
– The proposal of the Leader of the Opposition will cover all the contingencies that reasonably can be expected to emerge. Senator Wright suggested that a system of a multiplicity of appeals to a final superior court would result - to use his term - in a coordinating ultimate jurisdiction. Such a proposition would have something to commend it, but I am unable to see why there should be only a co-ordinating ultimate jurisdiction. Would it not be possible to have a co-ordinating primary jurisdiction also? If one of a series of arbitrators or conciliation commissioners establishes a principle which is made common knowledge to others exercising simi i lar duties in their jurisdictions in other industries, there is no reason why a common principle should not be adopted at that stage. The case to which Senator Wright referred demonstrated how delay and actual injustice occurred as a result of an appeal from. the High Council of the Public Service Organizations in the recent margins case.
– But the determination was invalid and against the law.
– But there was an appeal available to one party or the other and it was taken advantage of. The outcome was delayed, and the honorable senator has suggested that actual injustice was suffered by one of the parties. Again, it is a question of strict justice according to fixed and undeniable legal principles, or a reasonable measure of broad justice. Nobody can deny that the Public Service case, even though arbitration was involved, went substantially according to real merit and that had the decision in that case been applied it would not have inflicted any measure of grave social injustice. It cannot he denied that social injustice occurs as a result of a multiplicity of appeals. By attempting to put the accent on the refinement of the law, injustice has resulted.
I was pleased, after Senator Wright had expressed his views to the Senate this afternoon, to have the opportunity to direct the attention of the Senate to a development that has actually occurred throughout the whole body of administrative law. It is a matter which, ultimately, will have to receive the attention of legislatures everywhere and also of courts. Recently, in England, and also in our own country, public authorities known as statutory corporations have emerged. In the nationalized industries in England a number of such corporations have been created which have been given rights, under statute, to certain sub-legislative authority. Whether, ultimately, those bodies will remain subject to strict parliamentary control or will require systems of administrative law to deal with their responsibilities to the community is a matter that will have to be determined quickly in all communities where such developments are taking place. It is a field of law which, at the moment, is rather nebulous. Lawyers are groping to find some milestones by which they can guide courts, States and individuals on constitutional principles.
This measure only highlights the importance of this chamber and other legislative chambers in giving consideration to the wider principles involved in a matter which is specific and particular, but which, nevertheless, emerges from the amending bill now before the Senate. I support the Opposition and also the amendment foreshadowed by the Leader of the Opposition which deals with the right of legal representation before arbitration courts.
– in reply - Some reference has been made by both the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and Senator Byrne to the alleged injustice which the Public Service Association might suffer by reason of delays which, unfortunately, have taken place in relation to the particular matter that has been responsible for these amendments to the act. In order that the matter should be seen in its proper perspective, honorable senators should bear in mind that the Public Service Associations are not left to-day in the position in which they found themselves when their claim was made with regard to wages and salaries. Since the 23rd December last, substantial increases have been paid by the Public Service Board to the public servants which have satisfied a large part of their claims.
– Were the increases paid to all of them?
– To all officers of the Public Service. The principles upon which the ultimate margins paid to the service are to be determined remains the subject-matter of dispute, but in fairness to the board and to the Government it must be borne in mind that a substantial contribution to the claims which were made is being met by the extent to which the Public Service Board made an offer to the associations, and increased salaries have been paid as from the 23rd December.
The Leader of the Opposition expressed some fear that the Public Service Arbi trator might not be able to make an ultimate award which would be retrospective, say, to the 17th February or an even earlier date. I assure the honorable senator, without hesitation, that nothing in the bill interferes with the powers already possessed by the Public Service Arbitrator in that regard. It has been a practice of the Arbitrator to make awards which have an ultimate retrospective operation. For example, in June, 1950, he made an award of considerable importance which was retrospective to December, 1949. His power to make awards of that character has never been questioned, and there is nothing in this bill which will interfere with that practice.
I understand that honorable senators opposite do not accept the Government’s proposals in regard to the representation of legal practitioners before the Arbitration Court, with the approval of that court. They wish to debar legal practitioners from appearing either before the Arbitrator or the court, unless both parties consent. Perhaps, 1 am a bit partial about this business. Although I am a legal practitioner myself, I have not been able to attain that degree of impartiality which the Leader of the Opposition seems to have reached on this subject. I confess that I have never understood the principle behind the provisions in legislation which debars representation by people who are trained, in the very task of representing their fellow citizens before courts of law and other tribunals. However, that provision has a long history. I do not think that I can better illustrate the futility of it than by referring to a case which is at present pending before the Arbitration Court. Again, it is a case in which the Public Service Board is concerned. T refer to the repatriation officers’ case, in which some of these problems arose. As a result of these decisions, notwithstanding the fact that both parties to the proceedings wanted to be represented by counsel, it was held that they could not be so represented. The proceedings went on for some period, but are now adjourned. Each party was represented by a lay representative, but sitting beside him in court was a highly qualified legal practitioner. Honorable senators will appreciate that, in those circumstances, such an arrangement does not contribute to the speedy determination of these matters. The lay advocate, skilled though he may be, is faced with intricate problems, and conducts the case with the assistance of a highly . skilled legal adviser, from whom he receives instructions from time to time. That causes a great deal of interruption of the smooth running of the proceedings. I suggest that such a practice is, in every respect, highly undesirable. It serves no good purpose at all, because the legal practitioner is there, tendering hi3 advice and doing the best he can to control the proceedings, but the whole business has to lie done through the voice of a lay advocate. In those circumstances, I was not surprised when the Chief Judge communicated with me, on behalf of all the members of the court, and indicated the undesirability of that kind of proceeding. He requested that the law, insofar as it applied to the proceedings under the Public Service Arbitration Act, should be altered.
– Were those proceedings under that act?
– Yes. The court was faced with the difficult position that I have mentioned. By adopting our present course of providing for representation, with the leave of the court, the court will determine the matter as is done under the main arbitration act itself. In those cases, where the court feels that it would be assisted by the appearance of counsel or solicitors, it will permit the parties to be so represented.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to proposed new section 14a, under which the Arbitrator will be authorized not to deal with a matter if it appears to him that it is unnecessary or undesirable in the public interest to do so. As the honorable senator pointed out, this is merely expressing in another form the provision of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which is applicable both to the Arbitration Court and conciliation commissioners. Section 40 (d), which has been in the act for some time, and which was re-enacted by the previous Govern ment in 1947, provides that the court or a conciliation commissioner may dismiss any matter or a part of a matter, or refrain from further hearing, or from determining a dispute or a part of a dispute, if it appears that the dispute or part is trivial, or has been dealt with or is being dealt with, or is proper to be dealt with by a State industrial authority, or that further proceedings are not necessary or desirable in the public interest. In other words, we have adopted exactly the same approach, but expressed the provision in a different form. The test is that it should appear to the Arbitrator to be unnecessary, or undesirable, in the public interest to proceed. That has stood in the act for a long time, and none of the evil consequences which the Leader of the Opposition suggested might occur, have, in fact, occurred. I suggest that the section is not as open to abuse as he has suggested. As a matter of fact, it is rather restricted. It has to appear to the Arbitrator, bona fide, that it is unnecessary, or that it is undesirable in the public interest to proceed with the matter before he can fail to proceed.
The Leader of the Opposition suggested that, perhaps, I might be able to indicate the kind of cases in which that could occur. One illustration would be where the conditions of employment of tradesmen employed in the Public Service were governed by an award of the Arbitration Court. There might be a limited number of tradesmen in a particular employment of the Public Service, with the vast mass of similar tradesmen outside the service governed by an award of the Arbitration Court. The conditions of men in the service might normally be determined by the Public Service Board complying with the award of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court applicable to the men outside. The men in the service might decide - perhaps for a very good reason - that it might not be a bad idea to have their conditions, as a unit, of the Public Service, determined by the Public Service Arbitrator, from whom they might get something better than the outside people were getting from the Arbitration Court. In that set of circumstances, and having regard to the relatively few men of that occupation in the Public Service in comparison with the number outside, the Arbitrator might say that, in the public interest, it is desirable that that particular matter should be left to the court to deal with. There might he cases like that, but I suggest that the section is limited in its operation, and that the Leader of the Opposition need have no fear that the Public Service Arbitrator will abuse the power which is conferred upon him by that section.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
, - I foreshadowed earlier an amendment which I shall now place before the Senate. I move -
That, in clause fi, proposed new section 19 be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following section : - “ 19. A person or organization shall not be represented in proceedings under this Act by a person who hap been admitted to practice as a barrister or solicitor, except with the consent of all the parties to the proceedings.”.
That is a simple proposition. It endeavours to meet the situation which has arisen because of the High Court’s recent interpretation. It reduces the prohibition to one against any person who has been admitted to practice as a barrister and might be so acting. As I have already expressed my views regarding this amendment, and as some of my colleagues have supported what I then said, I shall leave the matter there. I commend the amendment to the committee.
– I have already expressed general views in relation to this matter, but the actual amendment now put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator MeKenna) somewhat astonishes me, in that it goes to the length of preventing an officer of an organization from appearing before the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator on behalf of his own organization if he has been admitted to practice as a barrister or solicitor. The amendment will go further than the present prohibition. In that respect it is more drastic than is the present provision in the Public Service Arbitration Act, although in other respects it is not so rigid, in that the difficulty can be overcome with the consent of both parties to the proceedings. I point out that if the amendment were to become law, we should have the ridiculous position of the Legal Professional Officers Association being unable to be represented by one of its own officers on a claim submitted by it because all its members would have been admitted to practice as barristers or solicitors. They would have to go to some other organization and borrow a person who was not a legally qualified practitioner to advocate their claims.
– In view of the garbled interpretation placed on my remarks by Senator Byrne with regard to the legal interpretation, I shall express my views again. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator MeKenna) wishes to debar legal representation, except with the consent of all parties to the proceedings, whereas the proposal of the Government is that in proceedings before the Arbitrator, legal representation should not be obtainable unless the legal person is an officer or a member of the organization affected by the claim and that in proceedings, not before the Arbitrator, but before the court, legal representation should not be permitted except with the leave of the court. I am particularly interested to know that the Opposition prefers to have this provision subject to the consent of all parties, rather than leave it to the court. Honorable senators opposite can submit no reason for that preference other than a misguided obstinacy based on the original prohibition of iO or 50 years ago, when they were in an immature state of development. They have not improved matters now that they have passed into an era of decay. Senator Byrne seemed to think that we were arguing that the rule of law should govern the Arbitrator in regard to the measure of remuneration that he should award. I always regarded that function as being legislative, and that the rule of law is only referred to insofar) as1 it guides the’ methods. By. which. the process- is exercised,, and. thereby is; somewhat’ v safeguard to- the people- who: invoke’ arbitral, jurisdiction.. For- tha. Opposition to put’ forward an amendment; whereby certain advantages) are* denied;, except with the consent of all’ parties,, seems; to: me to *be** a blind: approach.. It; would” be better- to’ leave: the nature ofl the; representation before! the court to- be decided “ by the court.
’:- Listening to some of, the. speeches, that, have been, made here, -this, afternoon,, one. would he., inclined to, think that tha Government was. insisting; on some, measure, of freedom to members, of the legal, profession to. appear: before the Arbitrator.. However,, if we. look at section 19- of; the principal act, as proposed to be amended,, we find that it. commences, “ Subject to this, section The question is whether there should’ Be- representation, or should’ not. Be representation,, by counsel, or solicitors. We take the same view as. the- Government does by starting, off; with a complete prohibition. Then, there are, variations. Between us regarding, how that” prohibition, should. Bc* qualified. We say that, when the. matter goes to the. court it should: be. left to the parties.. We gp further than the. Government,, and say that it should’ be- left, to the parties. also when a case comes before the. Arbitrator.. The Government would deny legal’ representation,, even. i$’ all parties, consent, unless the. person appearing as a qualified, lawyer is, a member or officer of an interested organization. It is clear that what the Opposition proposes in respect of’ cases, before the Arbitrator is wider than, that allowed under the Government’s proposal.
The Government also proposes that in any matter that came* before the chief judge, or the; full Arbitration.; Court,, counsel may/ be permitted!, to appear, only by leave: of the count. What is. the proposal of the Opposition:?! It: is. that this, should be; done, only with’ the; consent’ of the parties. I invite the committee, to. consider’ who- is the better judge of the matter,, a j.udge of the- court or the parties? Who. knows the means and tha needs, of the. parties! better than the.) parties- themselves.. A- tribunal; oy « judge map wej.1 he concerned with getting ani argumentaddressed to. him- in the- precise; legal terms to which he; ist accustomed. If it is for him-, to say whether, the.- parties - are to: be represented by counsel or no.t,- ifr is. almost- inevitable- that; his: training; his. predilections and his associations, with precise; argument wall’ suggest to him, that her should decide,; in, favour, of lawyers all the time. Thats is . the very evil at which the. Government’s,measure and, the; Opposition’s amendment are directed.. There; fore,, the broad principle;, tie- approach from-, the, Government’s side- as. well, as from that of the Opposition,, is. a; denial of the appearance before the Arbitrator of legal’ representation, unless the individual who- appears is; a member or an, officer of an organization. The Opposition, advocates that legal practitioners should be allowed’ before, the Arbitrator if: all? parties agree. In- other words, the Opposition’s ap.pro.ach to this, matter is. more generous- and wider, than that of the Government.. The criterion, that the Opposition^ applies- as, to whether lawyers’ should or should* not’, be allowed1 to appear- before the court- is more sensible, dan leaving it to the descretion of thecourt:
– .As- I; understand the,i argument, of the Leader- of the Opposition, (Senator McKenna)’,, it. is, somewhat a contradiction w terms. Ofl- the- ona hand, Senator, McKenna has- said; that his amendment is- morn generous; than is theproposal of the Government in* the- sense that it, will: entail- Better,- orT moN, representation by- legal practitioners thanthe, Government’s measure, will- *do** On the other’ hand, the Leader o.ff the, Oppose tion has- complained; that, the- clause which the committee is no>w- discussing, will have the effect, of leading” tha court,, iri every case. to order- that legal practitioners may appear.. If, on the one hand the honorable senator believes that his. proposal; is. more generous^ than- that of the Govern? ment he cannot insist successfully- tha£ under the. terms of the bill, the court would order in most cases that qualified legal practitioners were, entitled to appear. His. argument contains a contradiction and that, in. itself, suggests- that there is something wrong with the Opposition’s proposal.:Behind it is the general repugnance of theAustralian Labour party to have proper legal practitioners in the courts under consideration . I believe that that is the real root of the trouble, and that it is behind tie action of the Opposition in moving the amendment. It isquite palpable that the Opposition’s; amendment, couched as it is, would deny the right of legal practitioners to attend arbitrationcourtsinmostcases.. It does entailtheconsent of both partiesandI cannot envisage any circumstancesin which that consent would beforthcom- ing.That wouldbe theexceptionrather than therule.
SenatorMcKENNA. (Tasmania- Leader of the Opposition. [5.45]. - I believe thatI should replybrieflytothe last statementbySenatorVincent. From my experienceof case’s before tribunals, it is the rule that the parties agree- to- legal representation rather than refuse it. They have found thebenefitofit and, as the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) himself has indicated most notably, all sorts of devices are used to get around the present prohibitions. I imagine that industrial organizations representing employees are always in greater financial difficulties than are employers’ organizations . When employees’organizations seek legal representation, they are rarely met witha refusal from the employers. Suchrefusals might occur, but I have never heard of any. All in all,sincethe 1947 legislation was introduced containing prohibition upon the employment of lawyers and paid agents of any kind, except by leave of the court and the consentofthe parties, conciliation commissioners and courts have encouraged the help that they getfrom legal practitioners, and onefinds industrial organiza- tions availing themselves of it. It is in recognition of that fact thatwepropose to leave the matterto the parties. There is nothingwrong with it as acriterion, and I suggestagainthat applying that test is better than leavingit to the rather arbitrary decision ofacourt.
Sitting suspended from5.47to8p.m.
. -. The committee is dealing with clause 6 ofthe Public Service.
Arbitration Bill, to which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has movedan amendment toprovide that a person or an organization shall not be represented in proceedings under this bill by a person who has been admitted to practice as a barrister or solicitor except with the consent of all the parties to the proceedings.Clause 6 of the bill provides that the principal act shall be amended to provide that no solicitor or, barrister shall be entitled to. represent an organization unlesshe is a memberof thePublic Service. Thus, a nonpractising legal man who is employed in a govern m ent department; and who is a member of a public service association, may appear on behalf of the association ; and a non-practising legal man who is employed by the Public Service Board would beentitled to appearon behalf of the board..
The restrictions whichthe Government has imposed inthislegislation will affect caseswhich come before the Public Service Arbitrator in connexion with rates of pay and conditions of employment in the Public Service. The Opposition has requestedthat, before a legal man shall appear in a public service case before the ChiefJ udge or the Full Court, the consentof both parties shall be obtained to such appearance. The Opposition believesthat no member of the legal fraternity should appear in a case which concerns only wages or conditions, but I have never known the Opposition to maintain that a member of the legal fraternity should not appear inthe higher jurisdiction on a point of law.
In myopinion,aman who hasworked in an industryismore able than a legal man to state a case for the improvement of wages or conditions in that industry. In connexion with points of law, the Oppositionasks only that theagreement of both parties shall be obtained before alegal man appears for either of them. I have appeared in one or two cases in which legal representationhas been requested, and I do notknow of any case in which objection has been taken tosuch representation. However, there is noneed for legal representation in the case of appeals concerning the application of some part of an award that thepublic
Service Arbitrator may have made. Under the bill the question of whether legal counsel may appear on behalf of particular parties will be determined by the court itself. I think that both parties to an appeal should have some say in the matter. Fromtime to time, the legal fraternity restrict the jurisdiction of thecourt by raising technicalities and, in this way, they delay the delivering of determinations. It may be possible to prevent such delays by securing the agreement of both parties to the appearance of counsel on behalf of either party.
The Attorney - General (Senator Spicer)has said that the amendment whichthe Opposition has proposed will affect anotherpart of clause 6, which mentions the sort of matter with which thePublic Service Arbitrator may deal. Requests by the Public Service for increases of wages or for better conditions would be dealt with by the Public Service Arbitrator. Only after the PublicService Arbitrator has heard evidence on such matters, would the case come before the Chief Judge or the Full Court by way of appeal. It is there that we want both sides to have the right to say Yes orNoto the appearance of a barrister or solicitor. It would not. affect proceedings before the Public Service Arbitrator-
– The amendment proposed by the Opposition applies to both the Public Service. Arbitrator and the Arbitration Court.
-It does not say so.
– It says so quite plainly. The honorable senator is not reading the amendment, which proposes to wipe out all of that.
– I. am trying to point out that the clause, as it stands, does not deal with the Public Service Arbitrator at all. We say that when a matter comesto the Chief Judge, after it has been to the Public Service Arbitrator, both sides should have the right to agree to legal men appearing on their behalf.
– The honorable senator had better read the amendment again.
-Ishallread it for the benefit of the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer). It states that a person or organization shall not be represented in proceedings under this act by a person who has been admitted to practice as a barrister or solicitor, except with the consent of all the parties to the proceedings. The purpose of the amendment is to alter only one part of the clause. If the amendment were adopted, there would still be provision for the Public Service Arbitrator to dealwith certain matters.Allweaskis that both sides shallhave the opportunity to agree to legal men appearing”.
– The Opposition proposes, in its amendment, thatthe whole of section 19 should beleftout.The honorable senator should read the amendment.
-Yes, but the amendment does not affect the substance of the clause. In fact, adequate provision is contained in the two preceding clauses to make possible references to, and; hearings by the Full Court. Clause 6 deals with a particular phase of that procedure. I knowthat difficulty has arisen in the past regarding legal representation at hearings affecting the Public Service, and I know, also, thatprovision has been made to allow persons who are members of Public Service organizations, and who have passed the necessary legal examinations and been admitted as barristers or solicitors, but who are not engaged in practice to appear on behalfofthe organizations concerned.
– The amendment which the Opposition proposes would wipe out that kind of thing.
– No, it would not. That is the point I am trying to make.The whole clause will not be wiped out by the amendment - .
– Order! The amendment reads-
Pages 2 and 3, clause6, leave out proposed section 19, insert the following.
– That is right. All that we are asking is that both parties should havethe opportunityto have members of the legal fraternity to represent them before the Chief Judge or the Arbitration Court.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 10th May (vide page 261), on motion by Senator
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This measure stems from legislation passed in 1947, when there was an amount of some £500,000 to the credit of theWine Assistance Trust Fund. That was the balance of moneys that had accumulated as the result of excise duties which had been levied to permit of the payment of bounties on the export of wine from Australia. Section 17 of that act, passed in 1947 by the Labour Government, provided that at any time within ten years from the passing of the act, the moneys standing to the credit of the fund could be applied for assistance to the wine industry, upon certain conditions. Those conditions, broadly, were that there should be a Tariff Board inquiry and, secondly, that there should be full ministerial control, not only of the amounts that were to be made available, but also of the particular projects to which the money was to be directed.
The Government, I find on examining the bill, has followed quite meticulously, the procedure provided in section 17 of the 1947 act. In other words, there has been an inquiry by the Tariff Board, which finds that it is proper that moneys in the fund should be expended for the purpose of research into the difficulties of the wine industry, and there hasbeen, in addition, a very special inquiry by those representing the industry in its various stages - the Government, and the various departments, such as the Departmentof Commerce and Agriculture, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Research Organization, and the various State Departments of Agriculture in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Altogether, a good deal of investigation took place before this measure was presented. The second investigation, according to the Minister’s second-reading speech, gave rise to a very comprehensive and detailed programme of research. That was submitted to the Government, which agreed in principle to the proposal.
The bill proposes that the whole of the amount now standing to the credit of the fund shall be paid over to a new body called the Australian Wine Research Institute. The money available - £100,000 - is earmarked for the purposes of capital expenditure, plant, equipment and buildings. The balance of the fund’ is not available for expenditure, but only the income arising from it from time to time. That could, in normal circumstances, reach about £16,000 a year. The newly created institute that will control: income from the fund will not be able to expend any of the money unless the Australian Wine Board - a body to which the care of the export of wine from this country is committed - provides out of its funds at least £4,000 a year. In a year in which the Commonwealth contribution is limited to less than £4,000 the Australian Wine Board must find money on a £l-for-£l basis.
I notice that there is to be full ministerial control of all stages of the project. First, an estimate of expenditure on various projects has to be prepared. This will be approved by the Minister, as well as various allocations of income from the fund for those purposes.
The Australian Wine Research Institute, which will control and expend all the funds and direct the research projects,, has been formed under South Australian law as an association not for profit. It is a company limited by guarantee, and all the members and directorate are concerned with doing a public job. They are not allowed to make any profit or benefit out of the operations of the institute. The affairs of that body will be directed by a council consisting of the chairman and two members of the Australian Wine Board, one representative of the Australian Government and one of the Commonwealth ‘Scientific and Industrial ‘Research ‘Organization. Those three persons will -‘elect three others -with specialized scientific knowledge o¥ the wine-making industry.. There ‘are precautions against altering -the basis of <the institute without the approval -of the Minister. I have had .an opportunity to peruse the memorandum and articles which we ane now asked to approve. The penalty f or .making .an alteration without approval is .that the institute will forfeit all .right ‘to the moneys .available .to it. I find, .therefore, .that -there is complete ministerial control of ‘the whole of the operations .connected with the adminis tration of this fund. The Opposition con.siders ‘that the new institute., constituted and -directed as -proposed, with the funds rat “its disposal is in a position -to further , the interests of -the wine-making industry. The Opposition takes .no exception to any -of the provisions of the measure, and cordially supports .the .proposal.
I ‘should like the Minister in his reply to ‘give the -Senate ‘some information ‘about the nature >of the research projects contemplated. The special committee appointed d’rew up a detailed research : programme ‘that ‘the ‘Government approved in general principle, but no inkling -of -the nature of the programme i!s ‘before the Senate. I know that it will be directed to the production of better wine, and I -should imagine -a’lso to better packing and -presentation of ‘the product.
In particular, the Australian ‘Wine
Board is directed to concern itself with tie export .of wine, and special emphasis is laid upon that in ‘the memorandum and articles .of association of the newinstitute. The last provision in the bill dealing with alterations to the memorandum and articles of association lays -down that -
The Minister shall -not ‘approve a proposed alteration ito the memorandum of association of the Institute .unless ‘the -memorandum, as proposed .to be altered, would continue to include amongst ‘the objects ‘for which the “Institute ‘is ‘established -objects tending to the ;promo.tion ‘of ‘the (export trade in ‘wine.
That appears !to be ‘t’he crucial aspect pf the wine industry ‘in this -country - its export, and the emphasis in this -bill ia on that.
Senator (LAUGHT ‘(South Australia) [8.26]. - I support the bill, and I appreciate -the ‘interesting -survey that the Leader ‘of (the Opposition ^Senator MeKenna) has .given of its proposals. As a South Australian, I find that this measure is of great interest to me because the production and export of wine plays an important part in the economy of my State. South Australia .produces 25,000,000 gallons of wine a .year, as compared with 5,000^000 gallons in New South Wales, 3/000,000 gallons in Victoria and smaller quantities in other States. It is appropriate -that the constitution of the proposed ‘new body should ‘be that of a ‘company to be registered under the Companies Act *of ‘South Australia. The principal officers of the new company will be well-known South Australian identities whose families have been engaged in the wine industry for more than ‘a ‘century.
The. ‘bill ‘is further evidence of the Government’s interest in this important primary industry. Two or three ‘years ago, ‘the taxation law was modified to rationalize ‘the ‘values accepted hy ‘the taxation commissioners for wine in -stock, ;and last year the excise ‘law was altered relating to the ‘products of vineyards. As a result of dowering .the excise on brandythe industry has “received a ‘great impetus.
Research is ‘not new in “the wine industry in ‘South Australia. For “the last 100 years, -five -or six -of -the main families engaged in the industry have devoted their attention “to research on their own initiative and at their own expense. I name the .Seppelts, -the Penfolds, the Hardys and .the Gr:anm as examples. It is encouraging .to know that -a research institute is to be established, .and that the legislation authorizing that body is now before the -chamber. For .about .60 or 70 years, research and teaching in this industry has been carried out at the State Agricultural College at [Roseworthy, which has the only research branch of that kind in Australia. About .30 years ago, the “Waite Institute? which works in conjunction with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial “Research Organization and has been making investigations into soils, also devoted attention to this industry. I hope that the new institute in its early years will draw great stores of knowledge from these centres, which have done so much for the industry during the last 50 years.
After both World War I. and World War II. the Australian and State governments established returned soldiers on vine blocks, particularly in the river Hurray area. I believe that this institute will thus assist in the settlement of exservicemen on the land.
As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has pointed out, this bill will make available £500,000 for research. I have examined closely the memorandum of association of the Australian Win, Research Institute. Its principal objects are to promote research and other scientific work in connexion with the winemaking and viticultural industries, and other trades and industries allied thereto, particularly in relation to the promotion of the export trade in wine; to prepare and publish books and papers connected with the wine industry; and to investigate and make known the nature and merits of inventions, improvements, processes, materials, and designs which are used, or may seem capable of being used, for the purposes of the industry. It will be seen, therefore, that the memorandum of association of the institute, which is registered as a company limited by guarantee and not having -a share capital, makes very wide provisions, particularly in relation to the scientific aspects of the wine industry.
I congratulate both the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) and the departmental officers on the work that they have done in order that this bill might be brought before the Senate. Australia is at present meeting great competition from abroad in this field, particularly from a comparative newcomer to the industry, South Africa It is only by intense marketing research, particularly in relation to packaging, so that our wines shall reach overseas markets unimpaired by their passage through tropical areas, that we can hope to compete successfully with countries that are nearer to the world markets than is Australia. I hope that the research that will be undertaken will enable the industry to cope with the problems that are besetting it. Accordingly, I support the bill, and trust that it will have a speedy passage through the Senate.
– I am in full accord with what the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has said about this measure, with which the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) dealt fully in his second-reading speech. I do not desire to delay the passage of the bill, but I wish to remind the Senate that, when the wine export bounty was abolished in 1947, there was £1,100,000 in the fund. A.t that time, the wine industry requested the Government of the day to make available from the fund an amount of £300,000 for advertising purposes. As the responsible Minister in that Government, I did not think it wise to accede to that request, but referred it to the Tariff Board, which rejected the application. However, I am astounded that it has taken the present Government eight years to devize a means of using the money in the fund to the advantage of the industry. I believe that the Australian Wine Research Institute is well constituted, and that the industry, particularly the grape-growers, will derive considerable benefit from its research. I consider that the industry generally will derive more benefit from the institute’s activities than it would from the advertising campaign that it proposed a few years ago. I agree with the remarks that have been made, both by the Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, and I hope that the wine industry, particularly the section that is located in South Australia, will derive great benefit as a result of the passage of this measure.
. - in reply - I thank the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), my colleague Senator Laught, and Senator Courtice for their support of the measure. As honorable senators know, Senator Courtice was Minister for Trade and Customs in the Chifley Government at the time that the act, which the measure before us repeals, was passed. As he has mentioned, in 1947, the wine industry applied to the government of the day for an amount of £300,000 to be made available out of the fund to conduct an advertising campaign. I think it right to say that, had I been the Minister at that time, I would have taken the course that was followed by Senator Courtice. Although a large amount of money has remained in the fund since. 1947, certain applications in relation to it were received by the Government in 1949. As I mentioned during my second-reading speech, in accordance with the provisions of the 1947 legislation, an application for an advance from the fund for research purposes was referred to the Tariff Board in 1951. As the board did not consider itself competent to make recommendations in relation to the precise fields of research needed, a committee was appointed for that purpose.
The money made available under this measure will be devoted substantially to research both in the field and in the laboratories. There should be an excellent combination, as a result, and I am sure that a substantial improvement of the quality of our already excellent wine will be effected. Research will be conducted principally into onology, which i3 wine making, and viticulture, which is vine-growing. Research will also be undertaken in relation to various viruses and diseases that attack the vines. As a result, it is hoped that there will be at least a substantial decrease of the incidence of disease in our grape vines.
The decline of our overseas markets for wine is due to many reasons, probably the most substantial of which was the imposition of increased duty on Australian wines by the United Kingdom Government. In 1942, we were exporting to the United Kingdom about 3,000,000 gallons of wine a year. To-day, we are exporting to that country less than 750,000 gallons of wine a year. Another unfortunate circumstance, as far as exports are concerned, is that our sister dominion, South Africa, is gaining ground in overseas markets that formerly favoured Australian wines. They are competing to our disadvantage even in Mew Zealand. From time to time I, as Minister for Trade and Customs, have urged the industry to submit to the Government proposals which would enable it to sell its products to better advantage. Provided that the quality of the wine is satisfactory, the Government is willing to render all the assistance in its power, with a view not only to recovering lost markets, but also to gaining new markets. I thank the Senate for the manner in which it has received this measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bil! read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 297), on motion by Senator 0’Sui.livan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition is in accord with the purpose of this measure, and will . not oppose its passing. When the act of 1951-52 was before the Senate, I urged the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) to extend its operation for more than three years. That period is not long enough for a primary industry, such as cotton-growing, to rehabilitate itself, or to give a .sense of security to producers. Had my advice been taken at that time, there would have been no need for this bill, which unfortunately again provides for an extension of the bounty for a period of only three years. That will he of some value tocottongrowers, but they fear that world prices for their product may slump to such a degree as to have a serious effect on the Australian industry. The granting of a guaranteed price has given them some security, but because world prices are higher than the guaranteed price, I doubt whether it has meant a great deal by way of monetary assistance. Although the monetary assistance has not been great, the guaranteed price is, as I have said, appreciated by the growers because of the measure of security it gives to them.
The’ cotton-growing industry in Australia has had its’ ups and: downs,, but’ today it is well organized. By irrigation and’ the use of’ mechanical methods of production the industry has> Been conducted! efficiently, and growers- have carried on satisfactorily. Australia imports from1 other’ countries’ seven or eight times the quantity of cot-ton that we expect will Be- grown here for a numBer of years to. come: That means’ that growers are not yet worried aBout finding export markets - one of the problems which, those engaged in other forma of primary production have, to face. The continuance of the bounty, and the technical assistance made available to> growers by State governments, should put the industry on a sound footing, and make, it of. greater value to Australia. However, the bill would be improved if it were to. continue the Bounty for five years, instead of three years. Five years- is’ the period for which the sugar agreement is. extended from time to time; and a similar clause in this legislation would improve, it. Tha preparation of land for the production of cotton takes’ time, and’ so an extension of. the- term of the guarantee’ would encourage growers1 to expand production.
,. - I support this Bill,, which will, extend, for a further period; of- three years,, the.’ Cotton Bounty Act that will expire in December o£ this. year. I was a member of the Rural. Industries. Committee, in 1950 which, recommended that the Commonwealth should pay to the cottongrowers of Queensland a minimum- Bounty of 9id. per. lb. for seed cotton. The rate has,, in fact,, been 14d. per lb.. sinGe 1953. Honorable senators- from, other States, particularly those from Queensland, should remember Tasmania’s, interest in Queensland’s primary industries, and the support, that Tasmanian- members, of this Parliament, have always, given to* them. I remind them, of that to-night so that they may have it in mind should Tasmania, on some, future occasion, ask for support for some, of its primary industries..
Cotton-growing in Australia is largely restricted to the central- areas: of Queensland,, which are known as dry-farming areas., That, fact may account for the- low yield of cotton from those areas; it has’ Been as- low as- 9’8’ IB. of cotton to- theacre. That production does- not compare at all f favorably with the 270’ IB. of cotton te the acre1 grown in. the United Statesof America, and’ falls- far short, of the. high’ production of 360’ lb’, to- the acre in some1 parts’ of that country. The low yield in Australia is probably due to- the fact thatour cottom iis grown in- a dry area which’ is not irrigated. The- area under cotton’ in Queensland in 1938-39 was 56,000 acres, But It had declined By 1947-48 to 8j,5’0O acres. Production of cotton in 1938’ was 18’;,500,0001B., But it had declined to 2’,000l,000’ IB. in 1-948; That was’ very low compared with- the American output, and the decline was’ due principally to 3;,000 of the’ 4,000 farmers’ leaving the industry and going iri for other forms of production. Production in America, evidently from irrigated land,, was up to 350 IB. an acre. In 1938,. Queensland, growers produced17.000 bales of cotton,, but’ the output haddeclined to as low as: 500 bales in 1949.. The Bounty was’ then 5Jd.. per. IB.,, and it: went as low as; 3$d. In. 1952, 1,500 Balesof cotton were produced, and the output this; year is. expected, to Be 7,500 Bales:
The organization- conducted By the Queensland Cotton Board is operated By the growers under the Queensland’ Marketing Act as: a co’-operative concern: It owns ginneries with a capacity of 30)000,000 lb. of cotton. Production to that capacity has not Been reached yet. The seed cotton, cleaned and graded’, is supplied t’o> the Buyers after it has Been processed. I understand1 that the rawcotton produced from the seed; is- graded) according to American staple lengths-, and’ the appropriate’ price is paid to the’ growers. The- policy of the Australian Government has Been to develop1 the primary industries of Queensland and throughout Australia generally, and tha* policy has been applied since 1949. The1 Government’s activities have been directed towards the’ expansion’ of primary industries and the provision of an. incentive to primary producers to- supply the cotton that is’ required’ by the secondary industries! that have.- been- established in Australia., Australia uses 80,000, bales- of’ cotton, a year. Production in Australia this year was 51,500 .bales, or only (about 5 per cent. of the quantity required.
– It is nearly 10 per cent.
– It is not 10 per ‘cen:t. if estimated ion ‘the .basis of 500 lb. to a bale. It is about 6 per cent, and certainly : lower than the amount that is required. The Queensland ‘Government undertook certain commitments in connexion with this industry, and it has not honoured them. There can be no doubt that the establishment -of secondary industries to ‘handle cotton cannot be a success unless the primary counterpart is established on a reasonable basis. We should aim at the target set by the Australian Agricultural Council, namely 20,000 bales or 20 per cent, of the cotton required to manufacture all the cotton goods needed in Australia. This is not a new industry. It has been established for many years, and considering the generous treatment accorded them -by the Australian Government, .the Queensland growers should have done ‘better than provide 6 per cent, of requirements after the bounty had been in force for three years. The very low yield of ‘90 lb. to the acre does not redound ‘to the credit of -the Queensland Department -of Agriculture.
– What is the .production in the ‘United States of America?
– Ii is about 272 lb. .to the .acre. ‘Limited production also has something to <do with the increased cost ‘of production and treatment in Queensland. It is .obvious -that if Queensland .growers could increase the production ;per .acre, the -cost of .treatment .would be .correspondingly .lower.
– What is the average return in America1?
– It is ‘272 lb. to the acre.
– -That would be Une highest ?
-No, ‘production goes as high as 350 lb. to the acre.
– What is the production in Queensland ?
– It lis &5 Ito 90 lib. ito the acre.
– The honorable senator’s ‘figures >axe wrong.
– I hope so. The building up of an important secondary industry without its counterpart in primary production is a risky undertaking. The production -of cotton in Australia is important for many reasons. It is important from “the point of view of primary production. It is vital to defence, and if ve can -save ‘6,0.00,000 to 1!O/0’0O,O00 ‘dollars that will he an important contribution ‘to the strength of the Australian economy. “By-products from cotton are necessary for ‘feeding stock. Statistics reveal that by-products from an acre of cotton grown under irrigation include 110 “lb. of edible oils and 400 lb. df protein meal, which is ‘valuable for dairying ‘and -for feeding sheep and beef cattle. The ^target that the Queensland Government agreed ‘to accept has not been reached. ‘Queensland ;is supplying only 6 per cent, of the raw cotton required instead of 25 per cent, expected in the target set for 1956-57. The output could be increased to about ‘SO per cent. In -the circumstances, Queensland should .put its best foot forward and attempt ,to honour the agreement it made in. 1951. I hope that the Queensland Government and ‘the producers will appreciate the-extension of the ‘.bounty for .three years, and that ‘they will attain the production target that has been set. I support the Mil,
.- I wish ‘to refer to -several statements that have been made by Senator Wardlaw with regard to cotton production in Queensland. I think that he ‘suggested that the Queensland /Government should ‘give greater encouragement to the industry in ‘order to meet ‘some under taking that it ‘gave some years ago. A government can -only encourage ^producers to do their best. It ‘can only encourage them to use -their lands ‘to -produce the craps that are required ¥or national purposes. I am quite satisfied, as is ‘every ‘honorable senator on this side of the : chamber. -that the Queensland Government has done;its utmost to encourage 4the ‘Cotton-growers in !tha’t State ito produce Australia’s requirements. Every Australian likes fto know that every .primary .and secondary industry is in a sound economic condition and that those who conduct industries are in a position to carry on year after year without any apprehensions as to the soundness of their industry.
The Queensland cotton crop has failed from year to year and people who are not familiar with the industry might wonder why the output varies. As I have been associated with the production of cotton, perhaps I might explain the circumstances surrounding that phase. The production of cotton depends a good deal upon the weather. Very little cotton in Queensland is grown by the use of irrigation, and if rainfall does not occur at a certain time there is no crop or it is very poor. Farmers do not rely solely upon a cotton crop for their income. In the cotton-growing areas in Queensland, cotton is grown chiefly on dairy farms. The grower is also a dairy farmer and, in order to harvest his cotton, he must have an assured supply of labour. When he has to rely on himself and his family to harvest a cotton crop, he is not disposed to increase his acreage, notwithstanding the price that may be’ offered to him. When similar legislation was before this chamber in 1951, I stated that the Government would not be called upon to pay a penny to the cotton-growers because of certain circumstances, and the prophecy that I made on that occasion was correct.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’SulIivan) will find that that is so. Although the Estimates provided for a sum of £65,000 for the payment of a bounty last year, the actual expenditure was only £17,651. Only a short time ago it’ was stated that the Government would not be required to pay more than £25,000 this year, although the sum of £50,000 has been placed on the Estimates in order to cover this expenditure. Some honorable senators may think that the sum of £25,000 is mere chicken-feed, but it is very useful to the cotton-grower as a means of buttressing his price.
I think that every one knows that a bounty has to be paid from general revenue. The wage-earners of Australia are . required to pay high rates of sales tax on foodstuffs so that the cottongrowers may be paid a bounty.
– Does the honorable senator object to that?
– I am supporting the measure, and the’ farmers support it. Such measures result in a feeling of cooperation. The dairy-farmers throughout Australia will receive £15,000,000 from Government revenue. Therefore, they may be regarded as public servants. Their names are inscribed on the wages roll of the Government. I hope that that bounty will result in increased production of cotton in Queensland. I also hope that, at a later date, the industry will be able to stand on its own feet and that it will be possible to dispense with the bounty. I hope that Australia will not find itself in the position in which the United States of America has found itself during the past two, or three, years. The United States has been paying bounty in respect of nearly all crops produced in that country and has been storing supplies which it cannot dispose of through ordinary marketing channels. I give this measure my blessing.
. - in reply - Again, I thank the Senate for the manner in which this bill has been received. I should have appreciated the kind words of Senator Courtice much more had he not suggested that it was a pity that I did not take his advice some time ago. That remark forces me, rather sadly, to say that it is just as well for the cotton-growers that I took action different from that which was taken by Senator Courtice. When I became Minister for Trade and Customs it had been decided to leave the cotton bounty at 5£d. per lb. I do not criticize Senator Courtice for his decision in that respect because he acted on certain advice. The same advice was tendered to me, but I disregarded it and raised the bounty. S’ it. comes rather ill from my fellow Queenslander to chide me now, he having done nothing and this Government having done something. He is hardly in a position to say that the Government should do more than it has proposed to do. The cotton-growers have every reason to trust this Government to safeguard their interests, provided that they keep on growing cotton. The Government raised the rate of bounty from 5£d. per lb. to 9£d. per lb., and later to 14d. per lb. Whether that is a fair amount is difficult to judge. It must bear some relationship to the world parity price of cotton, which is determined substantially by the price-support policy of the Government of the United States of America. But the Australian “Government is determined to ensure that those who are prepared to develop the cotton industry on an efficient, economic basis will be rewarded for their efforts because that industry can contribute, in no small measure, to the diversification and strengthening of the Australian economy.
Whether 14d. per lb. is a fair price will depend entirely on the circumstances. It would be idle to fix that figure for a period of three years because 14d. per lb. may become insufficient. Then it would be necessary to increase the amount. In other circumstance?, 14d. per lb. might be too much. It is best to let the growers know that the Government is prepared to support them and that they will receive a reasonable return for their products, which will be dependent on circumstances as they change from time’ to time.
I should like to dissociate myself, with great reluctance, from the remarks of Senator Wardlaw, who suggested that the Queensland Government had not honoured its undertaking. As far as I know - I would be the person who would know because I am the Minister in charge of this measure - the Queensland Government is not in default in that respect. I do not say that, in the future. I shall not have occasion to ask that Government to take certain action. Shortly after this Government took office, I urged that consideration by way of bounty should be given to the cottongrowers, and the Government communicated with the Queensland Government and asked it to share with it some of the responsibility of the guaranteed price. The Queensland Government of that day firmly and definitely refused to do so. However, it undertook to do certain other things, and to be quite fair, I have not had occasion to criticize it for having failed to carry out its part of the bargain. We are not home yet, of course, but as far as I know, as I said in my secondreading speech, the Queensland Government is doing all it can to carry out its obligations. If it is in default, I am at fault for not having advised it accordingly.
I did not quite follow Senator Benn’s attack on the dairy-farmers.
– It was not an attack. It was a statement of fact.
– I thought that the honorable senator said that the dairy-farmers were on the pay-roll of the Australian Government. I lived in a dairying district for many years in my youth, and I have some conception of the very onerous and hard life of dairyfarmers. To suggest that they are loafing on the Government’s pay-roll is to offer a gratuitous insult to a fine body of people.
– That is according to the honorable senator’3 interpretation of what I said.
– I am merely quoting what the honorable senator said, although his remarks had nothing to do with the case. Perhaps, honorable senators on this side of the chamber know more about the hard work that is done on dairy-farms than do honorable senators opposite. However, if the members of the Opposition are able to tell me when dairy-farmers have spare time, I shall be interested to listen to them. I do not say that Senator Benn was incorrect in referring to sales tax on foodstuffs, but I should like him to tell me of any foodstuffs to which sales tax applies.
– At another time 1 shall tell the Minister about that.
– I suggest that the honorable senator tell us to-night. I have nothing further to add except to say that I do not know where Senator Wardlaw obtained his figures in relation to cotton production in Queensland. Of course, his figures may be correct and mine may be wrong; but the figures supplied to me indicate that in Queensland’s best year, 1934, 17,000 bales of cotton were produced, from 50,000 acres, which worksout, at 500 lb. to the bale, at nearly 170 lb. to the acre. In 1954, the conditions were not good climatically, and, from the 8,000 acres planted,, 3,645,000 lb. of cotton were recovered, which was not very satisfactory. However,in the preceding year, 1953, 20.0, lbs to the acre were recovered. There were 10,306. acres planted,, and 5,424,000 lb. recovered. Those figures, which I think are reliable, have been supplied by the department. I am sure that it had no reason to mislead either me or the Senate. Ithank honorable senators; for the support given to this measure and I hope that its passage will presage even greater prosperity for the cotton-growing industry of Queensland.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the10th May (vide page 289), on motion by Senator O’SULLIVAN -
That the following paperbe printed: - Foreign affairs and defence - Statement. made by the right honorable the Prime Minister in the House of Representatives on the 20th April, 1955.
Upon which Senator Armstrong had moved by way of amendment -
That all the words after the words That “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words:. - “this House rejects the Government’s proposals to despatch Australian armed forces to Malaya as set out in the paper read by the Prime Minister “.
.- For some days the Senate has been discussing this important matter to which the Opposition lias proposed’ a significant amendment.I have endeavoured to approach the subject from a national point of view, because I think we must allbear in mind that, during the last few days, we have been attempting to hammer out a defence policy and a foreign policy which will help to safeguard this land for our children and those who will inherit it. On the decisions that we make in relation to foreign policy the future of Australia as a free land may well rest:
I have tried to analyse this matter free of all the party political garnishings with whack it has been covered. I have tried to analyse the fundamental differences that lie between the Liberal party and the Australian Labour party on this most important subject, and I find that there is an unbridgeable gap between them.I have divided this subject into three parts. The first partis concerned with the policy of the present Government, the second with the policy of the Opposition, and the third with the policy of the Communist party as it comes to us from Moscow and Peking and is repeatedso often in Australia. I experienced no difficulty with the first part, the policy of the Government; and I experienced no, difficulty, either, with the policy of. the Labour party. But when I came to the third part, the policy of the Communist party, all I had to do was write, “ Ditto see the second part “, because the policy of the Labour party and that of the Communist party run side by side on this subject,, the reason being, of course, that the Opposition is pledged’ to support Communist policy whether it believes in it or not. That is the policy of the EvattBurton line which was adopted at the federal conference of the Labour party in Hobart, where nineteen delegates, thirteen of whom were described by some members of the party as legitimate and six as illegitimate, voted” for it. There are grave and deep fundamental differences between the Government and the Opposition on this subject. The Government parties believe that Australia is now regarded as an adult nation and, as such, is expected to accept responsibility for its own defence. We have a profound conviction that the perimeter of Australia’s defence area is in Malaya - as far as possible from the shores of this continent. According to the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies)’, compact forces of the three services are to be sent to Malaya to establish a defence outpost in that country. Our policy is to ally Australia with powerful nations and friends so as to strengthen our defences. Peace can best be achieved by negotiating on a basis of strength rather thanon one of weakness. On this subject, I shall quote from an eminent authority, Sir John Slessor, Marshal of the Royal Air.
Force. In. an article published recently, he wrote -
Recent history should prove that war is never, prevented’ by running from- it. There is a difference between a policy aimed at preventing war and one aimed at avoiding war . . To prevent war, we must make it unmistakably clear that, whilst we sha’ll n’eVer adopt it as an instrument of policy, we are prepared to fight if our vital interests are threatened. We’ have seen too’ much’ of the totalitarian technique - the undermining of one outpost after another, in t’Ae belief that’ civilized peoples are too soft to fight - to cherish any delusions that” war can be averted’ by Surrender. T. believe that as long as this is made clear and’ as long as the West maintains the- necessary strength to back its policy, a- total war as we have known it is a thing of the past.
That is a most relevant statement. To ban only one phase of armaments- would increase the risk of war and lead to the development of a- third world-wide conflict On that subject, Sir John Slessor said -
There can be no sane human being who does not long to see the dread’ of war removed finally from the hearts and minds of men, but- it- never has made (and’ never will make) any sense trying to abolish any particular weapon. What vc have to abolish is war . . .
Recent History is littered with the ruins of- attempts to do that by pacts, leagues-, treaties. What has now happened is thatwar has abolished itself because the atomic and hydrogen bombs have found their way into the armouries of the world. So the greatest disservice that any one could possibly do to the- cause of peace would be t’o abolish nuclear- armaments.
I go further- and say that we must- always face realities. This- eminent authority” had this to say on that point -
The first- of these realities, is that there are to-day two colossi separated’, by an ideological gulf, that- is not bridgeable b’y political expedience or written undertakings, lii.it if we accept the truth that war, in the sense of total world wide “shooting” war, has abolished itself through nuclear and thermonuclear energy, then the world can cease to tremble: This is not’ to- make an- absurd claim that’ men will never fight again. There:will be more small wars, like the settling- shock’s after a great earthquake, but it’ is to maintain the Great Deterrent;, unless- we are’ fools’ enough to throw it away, lias- given us time and opportunity for the forces’ of sanity to’ assert themselves.’
I have stated- clearly what honorable senators on this side of the- House believe’ and I wish to- indicate” the fundamental difference between our. belief’ a’rid- that’ of the Opposition.- Labour’s- policy is that Australia should prepare its defences within its own bonders only a-rid that troops- should not be sent outside- the continent. The Opposition advocates that atomic energy should be’ banned and that Australia should rely on’ the Security Council of the United Nations for protection. On’e can read the defence policy of the Labour party” on every railway viaduct or brick- wall- throughout Australia’ where it has” been chalked- up by Communists. Sen’ator Aylett has- seen it in Tasmania and approves of it because it is directly in line with Communist ideas. It is- the policy of the Labour party that has been” enunciated by Dr. Evatt and his colleagues in the Opposition in another’ place. The Labour party’ is pledged’ to that policy and the Communists find it most interesting and helpful. It is the Burton-Evatt policy. They ignore the fact that Russia, as a major nation,- has the right to veto- decisions of the Security Council of the United’ Nation’s organization’. It is ridiculous’ to place’ any reliance on such a- policy..
– Russia- has’ vetoed five decisions of the Security Council.
– The policy of the Labour party is “ just what the doctor ordered’” for the expansion of Communist interests everwhere.
Sena-tor Wright.-^- Which doctor?
–Honora’ble senators can take their pick. One of the sad features of this debate is that’ the’ socialist. Opposition in this Parliament has failed’ completely to face realities. I recall anincident last week in which I was’ personally involved. I was reading’ the newspaper and a prominent member of the’ Labour party, who is pledged’ to the Evatt-Burton policy remarked’” This is a grand day for the world. Did YOU read that in the newspaper? “. I said, “ Whatare’ you referring, to ? “ He replied! “ West Germany is free “. I said, “ You1 are a queer sort- of cove.- I- cannot understand your- logic. How is- West Germany free? The free nations of the world! provided troops -to- protect those countries until they- were’ able to undertake selfgovernment “. The- Opposition opposes1 our doing the same thing in Malaya. We want to protect the people of Malaya from the inroads of communism until they are able toundertake self-government; Certain honorable senators opposite have stated that the Malayan people do not want a small Australian forcein Malaya. However,I have before me the reported views on independence of Malayan leaders who, I am quitesure, know far more about the situation in Malaya than do honorable senators opposite. Da to SirOnn binJaafar, the ProChancellor ofthe University of Malaya, andchairman of the Rural and Industrial Development Authority, speaking in the Legislative Council at KualaLumpur on the 20th March, 1953, said -
I do not give way to any one in this country on the stand of self-governnient for Malaya.ButI am not, fortunately, to my way of thinking, one of those who want it tomorrow morning - only to be forced to let go that independence the day after. I do notbelieve in me relyshouting for independence, in merely arousing the passions of the masses in thiscountry for independence without realizing the consequences of that independence.
Another Malayan authority, Sir Chenglock Tan, president of the Malayan. Chinese Association and a member of the Legislative . Council of Singapore, is reported to have stated in that council, on the 2nd November , 1954-
There is more than one way of achieving self-government. You can achieve this either by strife and violence or by means of hard workand constantservice. We have, by means of the latter, brought this country to the threshold of self-government, and when I say . “We”, I include every “one, both the people and theCouncil Members who have all helpedto operate the present constitution successfully. I do not think that any one, except a few dishonest, self-seeking demagogues, will maintain that a period of another eight years willbe too long to endure before weachieve self-government.
In tha t statement Sir Chenglock Tan completely rebuts the assertions of honorable senators oppositethat the people of Malaya donoit want our troops to be stationed in that country. Another leader in Malaya, Mr Heah Joo Seang, who is president of the Federation Adult Education Association; when speaking in Penangonthe 18th October, 1954, said -
I donot seek to mislead themasses as did some leaders who went so far as to promise people five acres ofrubber estates each if they came to power.
Adistinguished women’s representative, Mrs. Cheah Inn Kiong, who is a Penang SettlementCouncillor, and has been associatedfor many years with the Central Welfare Council and the Malayan Association for the Blind, stated in the Legislative Council of Singapore, on the 24th June, 1954-
The Federation, though progressing satisfactorily on the whole, is still politically in embryo. Hence, it would be well advised to guard itself against the impulse of too rapid a step towards ‘ reaching the desired and deliberate goal of self-government, bearing in mind that Koine was not built in one day.
Although I have the reported statements of many other prominent Malayan leaders before me, I shall refer to only two more. Mr.G. V. Thaver, president of the Malayan Indian Association, when speaking at Kuala Lumpur in January, said, amongst other things -
Too much fuss is being made about independence when the country is not ready for the task. Two things stand in the way of Malaya seeking self-government. One is the emergency, and the other is the shortage of qualified men to make it a reality. It is nonsense to speak of self-government before the emergency is ended. It is like putting the cart before the horse.
The Prime Minister of Ceylon sum med up the situation very well at Bandung when he said -
Colonialism and Imperialism - call it what you will - is no more welcome to-day from the East than from the West.
The facts of the spread of imperialism from the East are most interesting. Soviet Russia has chargedus with imperial aggression. Itis well to remember, that, since 1939. Russia has forcibly expanded its sphere of influence by 264,200 square miles of territory, having a. population of 24,000,000. Furthermore, since 1939, Communist leadership, under Moscow-directed domination, has extended over 4,770,800 square miles and embraced at least another 675,000,000 people. As we know, “Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Rumania are all Russian satellites in Europe, and China, the Mongolian People’s Republic, North Korea and North Viet Nam are all Russian satellites in Asia Russia has overrun all of those countries byaggression, yet it accuses the free democracies of aggression. Letus consider the records of the free nations of the World during the period that Russia was engaged in overrunning othercoun tries. The United States of America granted independence to the Philippines; the Netherlands freed Indonesia; Great Britain freed India, Ceylon arid Egypt, and relinquished colonial control in SouthEast Asia and Burma ; France yielded Lebanon, Syria and territories in South-East Asia. In addition, we have concluded peace treaties with our former enemies iri World War II., Italy, Japan andWest Germany. The records of the free nations of the world show’ clearly that wehave not been aggressors. The Prime Minister of Ceylon did a grand job when at the Bandung conference, he called attention to the fact that they were not prepared to give away one kind of colonialism for what he considered was a worse type of colonialism from the East.
-What did he say later?
– The people of Australia, when they calmly lookat the fundamental differences between the policies of the Labour party and the Liberal party, will cast aside this miserable approach, and will overwhelmingly support the statement of the Prime Minister, in whom they have the utmost confidence. I support thestatement.
SenatorO’BYRNE(Tasmania.) [9.41] . -Senator Henty has put on once againthe long-playing microgroove record of the Liberal party, and has played the same oldtune with incessant monotony. He has told us once again that those who do not agree with the Liberal party’s point of view are Communists. We are sick and tired of that record.
-I do not think the honorable senatoris a “ Com “ because the “ Coms “ would not have him.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood).- Order!
– Senator Henty speaks with the mindof agrocer. His outlook is limited by the small circle in which he moves. He sets himself up–
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. Order ! Iask Senator O’Byrne to confine his remarks to the subject before the Chair, and not to indulge in personalities.
– Senator Henty called Senator O’Byrne a ratbag.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I ask Senator O’Byrne to keep to the subject before the Chair.
– Government supporters are causing the trouble.
– The only point in the whole of Senator Henty’s remarks was that there was a gap between the Liberal party’s policy and that of the Labour party - a gap which could not be bridged. I agree. Every speech that has been made by honorable senators supporting the Government has been aimed at slowly, but surely, conditioning the people of Australia to the inevitabilityof a nuclear war - the use of nuclear weapons, and the dropping of bombs on selected targets in South-East Asia, which General Eisenhower said would be the American policy in that area.
There has been a great deterioration in’ the foreignsituation since this statement first came beforeus. Using honeyed words, that greathypnotist, that political Franquin, Robert Gordon Menzies, told the people that we were striving for peace ; but each ministerial statement on the foreign situation presented to this Parliament shows that Australia is being committed deeper and deeper to a policy which can end only in a hydrogen bomb war.Iask Senator Henty -
– Why not ask Professor Fitzgerald?.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT.Order !
– Why donot you put him out, Mr. Acting Deputy President?
- Senator Henty and his colleagues on the Government benches are advocates of war at any price. That is a dangerouspolicy for them to follow. A colleagueof theirs inanother place, the honorablemember for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), issued a pamphlet entitled. How the will to live can help to avert an atomic attack “. What we want to know is how we can live at all, because the foreign policy of the Government and its supporters is leadingus to a state of affairs where there -will not be any living at all. Mr. Wentworth said-
By means . 0 lithium deuteride, the power of each of these can be. stepped -up .to any desired pitch. However, there would seem ‘little point in going -beyond the figure ,if,about 1,500 .times the “nominal .bomb” . 6that ,is, ,the atomic bomb dropped on. Japan in 1945),, because after a certain size “the extra explosive effect tends to-blow upward .rather than laterally .by reason of the decreasing pressure of the air at high altitudes. (The hydrogen ‘ bomb we : should p Iron .against would. thus. contain one ton. of lithium deuteride or .slightly more, and would have the explosive power of about thirty million “tons tff TN.T. ‘(sometimes referred to .as ‘-30 ‘“‘megatons “.),. .If exploded at ian altitude it would cause .complete, or substantially complete, destruction’ of all surface structures over a circle ‘about X5 miles in diameter ‘(175 square miles’) .and -significant -destruction over a circle some ;30 miles >in diameter i(an additional S2S .square miles) . mf ..the bomb .were exploded at ground level, the .affected areas would probably be a little more ‘than one quarter o’f ‘the above .estimates.
That is “the -kind df “thing ‘that is being sold to the Australian -people as the only possible future outlook. “What a ‘negative policy it is’!
Ever since the present ‘Minister for External Affairs (Mr. ‘Casey) ‘has been in charge of Australians foreign policy, in ‘conjunction with his -colleague in Washington, Sir “‘Percy Spender, who has large rubber interests in Malaya, conditions have deteriorated.
Government members interjecting,
– Honorable .senators opposite laugh, -but I remind them that Sir Percy Spender is a director -of the Goodyear Rubber Company, and is to-day the representative in the United States of America -of the ‘man who made such a mess of things in Bengal - the Bengal Tiger. Mr. ‘.Casey-was first chosen to be :a -member of (the British War Cabinet, but he failed, and was .sent to Cairo. When he failed there ‘also he was ap.poin.ted .Governor-.General of Bengal. ! Siena-tor KENDALL - I a-ise ito a point of conder. I submit *hat ‘the honorable senators remarks ..have -nothing ito do -with the ‘subject before the Chair. .Moreover, I take exception to .his .remarks about a very -worthy man »who is a Minister in the present Government
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - I -ask Senator ©’Byrne 4o -deal with -ihe .statement ;on .foreign ^affairs now before the ^Senate, .and mot to indulge ..in personalities.
– The statement before us -should 4.-n been ‘presented to the Parliament ‘by the Minister for External Affairs, not ‘by the Prime Minister.
The .ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator must not cast -reflections on honorable senators, or members .of another place.
– Recently, -we had a grand opportunity .to make friends with Asian countries, -29 of -Which sent representatives to :a conference held at Bandung. Included among -them were representatives of .our nearest ‘neighbour, Indonesia. “Yet when .-Mr. -.Casey was asked why he did not ask that Australia be invited to send representatives to .the conference, he said that the nations that would gather at Bandung had little “in common with Australia, ‘and that ‘-we already had sufficient opportunities for discussing ‘matters with Asian governments. Included ‘in the representatives who gathered -on that ^occasion were men -from ‘Ceylon, “India ‘and Pakistan - countries -which are equal members with us -of the British Commonwealth -of Nations - and Indonesia. The Australian press had been remarkably .silent about .that important -conference. -Our newspapers have .contained .practically no information about what took place there. Y,et,countries such .as Afghanistan, Cambodia, “Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordon, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Arabia, Nepal, the .Philippines, .SaudiArabia, -Syria, Thailand, Turkey, .the democratic monarchy of “Viet Nam, the State of Viet Minh, and the Republic of ‘China have united. “For what purpose? A communique from the conference stated -
This conference recognizes the ‘urgency of promoting the economic ‘development -of ‘“the Asian-African region.
According to a .report published in the Times of India -
The people of Asia can demonstrate to ‘the minority of the world which ‘lives on the other .continents ‘that ‘we, (the .majority, are for .peace .and not for war. Whatever strength we have w’ill always be thrown on , the side df “peace.
L submit that the ‘.policy ‘that (has been espoused to-night by Senator .Henty land other honorable -senators on the Govern.ment side will .commit ais to the despatch of .Australian forces to Malaya, :and that they will not be welcome there, despite the assurance that has -been given by supporters of the Government. ‘We know .that .28,0 trade unions sent a telegram from their May -Day celebrations to the -effect -that >our troops will not be welcomed (there.
– I have just been reading that announcement in the Communist newspaper Tribune.
– I -propose -to quote bma the statements -of -one «e¥ Australia’s best-known ^commentators <on international affairs particu’larly on events in -Asia, who has -recently returned from a tour of South-East Asia.
– Who is be? -Senator O’BYRNE.- Mr. .Peter Russo. Because he .does not -agree with the views of the Government -and the AttorneyGeneral ((-Senator Spicer,),, .Mr. Russo probably is branded as ,a Communist, just as supporters of the Government have branded other persons who do not agree with them. We have come to expect ‘that from the Government. Hitler said ‘that if a lie was big enough and was told often enough, some people w.ould believe it. The lie that Opposition senators and members ‘are ‘Communist ‘will probably be believed by some people,, “but in the end it will turn against the .Government supporters who have propagated it. There is no substance in the ‘charge that we are Communists.
– 1 have made no such charge.
– :The implication in there. A -few minutes ago Senator Pearson said he had read a statement similar ‘.to one I quoted in a ‘Communist newspaper. We do not necessarily subscribe ‘to “the views Of those “who support another ideology. The Russians eat bread .and drink water. They need food, clothing ‘and shelter, but ‘that does not mean tha’t we are Communists because we .eat bread and ‘drink wa’ter and need food and ‘shelter. The fact ‘is ‘that the Asian-African ‘conference was of vital importance in world ‘affairs. It has altered (the whole .course of international affairs (since the Prime Minister .’(Mr. Menzies.) made the .statement that is now under .discussion. The right ‘honorable gentleman’s -statement is out of date already. M’ost of the supporters of .the Government are out of ‘date in ‘.their thinking. They allow fear to dominate their lives. Through expediency, they have .grasped at what -they conceive to bo strength, hut it will not prove to ,be strength in the long run. The philosophy that might is right has been proved wrong so often that honorable senators on the Government side .should be warned about it; but -that philosophy has permeated their speeches. They have emphasized that Australia has .powerful allies.
Sena’tor PALTRIDGE - What nonsense.’ _ Senator O’BYRNE. - Senator Paltridge and other honorable senators on the Government side have accentuated that theme. They .say we have powerf ul friends who have the hydrogen “bomb. Supporters of the Government have been warning us of the defences that Australia should have against that shocking weapon, yet the Government and its supporters are -doing everything to promote a nuclear war which would inevitably ‘bring retaliation on the hig cities of the ‘world. The Asian- African conference emphasized the particular significance of the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. A .resolution of the conference expressed that view. The conference noted that “ the existence of -‘colonialism in many parts of Asia and Africa, in whatever form, not only prevents cultural -co-operation, but also suppresses the national cultures of the people “.
In his statement, the Prime Minister said .’that ,glib words were occasionally spoken about ‘peaceful co-existence. He said that we sho’uld beware “of the ‘use of the word colonialism The right honorable gentleman said that that was one o’f the ‘catch-words that we may lie gulled into thinking .m’ay ‘have some Sul).stance. ‘The truth is ‘.that colonialism “ia the whole reason for the revolt in Asia. It ‘is a revolt ‘against colonialism ‘and the exploitation that .has accompanied it throughout past years. The bitterness in th’e minds “of the &sian people has been driven into them so deeply that they have become resentful. By their gathering in Bandung, they are showing the “Western world that might is not always right, and that they will speak for themselves. This Government completely disregards the power of these people. That is a grave dereliction of duty.
An important resolution agreed to. at the Bandung conference referred to human rights and self-determination. That is related to the problems of Malaya because Malaya’s problems are common to all the Asian countries. History will praise the action of the former Labour Government of Great Britain and of Sir Stafford Cripps, who went to India and declared that India must have selfgovernment and independence. The policy of this Government is to give the people of Malaya self-government in eight years’ time. What right have we to determine when they shall have self-government? An argument that is advanced by supporters of colonialism is that these countries will be impoverished and left open to communism if left to their own devices. That is no excuse. The people of Asia have decided that they want no more of it. By sending Australian forces to Malaya, we shall perpetuate the hated policy of colonialism there. The Bandung conference of 29 nations declared its full support for the principle of selfdetermination of peoples and nations as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations organization, and it took note of the United Nations resolution on the. rights of peoples and nations to the selfdetermination which is a pre-requisite to the full enjoyment of fundamental human rights.
Recently, I have noticed a certain amount of subtle sneering at the efficacy of the United Nations. Certain countries may propose taking their own course of action and discuss selected targets for nuclear bombing, but I still maintain that the world’s only hope of saving itself from complete annihilation is the United Nations. Those of us who can take an objective view of this matter and foresee the consequences of a nuclear war, must realize, as Bernard Shaw said, that the war after the next one will be fought by. the remnants of humanity withbows and arrows. I have had conversations with nuclear scientists in this country who are convinced that the fabric of the earth could be changed by nuclear energy releasedby the dropping of a hydrogen bomb. Yet we have heard of countries Expressing the desire to take independent action outside of the United Nations. Honorable senators opposite have supported that policy, and have discounted the importance of this world-wide organization which is our only hope forpeace.
Australians have been completely uninformed on the very important conference that took place at Bandung. No report of the resolutions that were passed by the conference has appeared in the newspapers. Ishould like to ask honorable senators opposite whether they have received any official communique on the conference. I was fortunate enough to obtain a copy of a most enlightening document from theParliamentary Library, but I am certain that very few honorable senators have been able to see it. Another resolution of theconference reads as follows.:- -
The Conference is agreed :
indeclaringthat colonialism in all its manifestations is an evil which should speedilybe brought to an end;
in affirming that the subjectionof peoples to alien subjugation, domi nation and exploitation constitutes a, denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nationsand is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation:
in declaring its support for the cause of freedom and independence for all such people; and
in calling upon the Powers concerned togrant freedom and independence to such peoples.
The whole purpose of the conference was to arrange an exchange of views between those nations which havenot committed themselves to the support of the two great sets of powers which are at present opposed to each other. It was considered that, in this way, sanity could be brought to the earth and a basis found for agreement.Duringthe last war, we witnessed the stupidity of a fool who thought thathe could win by wielding the big stick. When Europe had come down about his ears; when the beautiful cities had been destroyed and the centres of culture bombed into rubble,he realized that he could no longer sustain the stupid ideas that he held, andhe destroyed himself. But, amongst the rubble, the nations gathered around the table and arranged a settlement. Now; just ten years after that settlement, ten years after the chaos and strife and loss of life and property, a nation is rising again out of the rubble. Is it not possible, before more bombing takes place, to find some means of reaching agreement? It seems tome that each ministerial statement on foreign affairs is bringingus closer to what the people of every country in the world hope will never occur - a nuclear bomb war .
Another matter that was discussed at the Bandung conference was the international tension and the risks which confrontthe wholeof the human race. The report of the conference which I have on this subject reads asfollows : -
The Asian-African Conference having considered the dangerous situation of international tension existing and the risks confronting the whole human race from the outbreak of global war in which the destructive power of all types of armaments, including nuclear and thermonuclear weapons, wouldbe employed, invited the attention of all nations to the terrible consequences that would follow if such a war were to break out.
TheConference considers that disarmament and the prohibition of the production, experimentation and use of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons of war are imperative to save mankind and civilization from the fear and prospect of wholesale destruction.
Senator Henty quoted some authority as having said thatitwould be of the greatest disservice to mankind to abolish nuclear armaments. If a man threatens another with a gun, and that man himself takes up a gun, it is senseless to become indignant at his using the same weapon. By sending troops to Malay a we are inviting other people to take up armsagainst us. In the words of the popular song, “You can’t get a man witha gun “,andI donot believe that one can achieve peace with a gun. For that reason, the foreign policy that has been outlined by the PrimeMinister (Mr. Menzies) is a negative one. ‘ “Another Matter that I would like to mention isthe future representation of Australia at conferences of Asian nations. Australia was represented at the conference that was held at Delhi in 1949, where many of the Asian countries met. In 1950, Australia was represented at the conference that was held at Baguio in thePhilippines . There, we were afforded a status which’ was in accordance with our standing in this part of the world, but the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has not stated whether the Government is prepared to participate in future conferences of South-East Asian countries. I hope that the Minister will realize that stubborness is not a good quality . I hope that he will realize the follyofhis ways in failing to take an interest in the conference of our near neighbours which was held at Bandung. I hope that he will make certain that Australiais represented at such conferences in future.We should try to retain the goodwill and the confidence of these nations which are populated by two-thirds of the people of the world.
– We were not invited to the conference.
– We made no attempt to obtain an invitation.We showed no interest. Having regard to the statements which had been made some of which bordered on the insulting, I can understand the Asian countries not inviting us.
-Statements made by whom ?
SenatorO’BYRNE.- By the Minister for External Affairs, in relation to Seato andother matters. Can it be wondered that those people, when they were considering the countries to which invitations should besentoverlooked Australia? Their disappointment must be great because our attitude towards them has changed somuch. During the years immediately following World War II., Australia was among the first countries to help them. If was Australia which sponsored Indonesia’s claim for admission to the United Nations. The goodwill which we built-up in those days is fast running out. The door was open and the opportunity existed for us to show thatwe could live as neighbours with the people of Asia-. I. am sure that they want to show that- they, can be. good, neighbours to us.
We often hear- veiled innuendoes about Mr. Nehru, hut it is my. opinion that he is one of the greatest statesmen- in the’’ whole o£ Asia..
– The’, honorable senator will1 find’ nothing but respect for’ Mr. Nehru on this side of the chamber.
– The. position is. that the Prime. Minister of India is. a-, tremendously, important, moral force in. Asia. He has the ability, to. bridge the* gap between the various sections of. the world which happen, to have skins of. different colours.. The people- o£ Asia, trust him to. do. what: is. right, for Asia. During, his remarks at. the Bandung, con:ference, remarks, which, were- subsequently supported by the. Prime Minister oft Burma,. Mr. Nehru said that the- people of Asia feel that. Australia- is within. the! Asian, area,, and. that we should have, closer relations, with the people/ of Asia.It is i on, the basis of that, statement- that- [ stress the importance of participation by Australia in future Asian conferences.
We intend to- send troops to Malaya without any guarantee that, our rear will be covered. We are going to embark on a venture which- will extend our lines of communication over thousand’s of mile3,. with no-certainty that the. British Government will not fix a date, in the very near future, on which to withdraw its troops. There is no guarantee that the emergency regulations in Malaya will be continued1 for any appreciable time. The’ new Premier of Singapore) Mr. Marshall, stated personally- to a man who. w.as* travelling- through. Singapore recently, and- whose word I respect1, that the people of Malaya do not wish to see Australian troops- go to that country: The statement by- the Prime Minister (‘Mr. Menzies), that Australian troops were being sent, hit1 the headlines in. the” Malayan newspapers on. the- morning ofthe recent elections and had a tremendous effect on the result’ of the elections. Peoplein this country seem to” think; that we need- not take any great notice of Malaya and: that we can send troops ‘there as we like. That is in. line with the old Poona tradition: of “ Put’ a whiff of grape-shot! into- the’ rabble;, and let’s get. back to the mess for tiffin “..
– What a gross caricature- of British rule that is’!
– No, it is quite.true. The. same, policy applies here.. Some people. seem. to think that we should carry the defence of the Malayan, people; on.’ our shoulders,, like the white man.’s. hurden.. They, seem to forget, that we are not, acceptable to- a. large number, of the. Malayan, people. The. people of this, country should not be deluded by the honeyed, words of the Prime Minister, when. he says,.” I want to resist the temptation to. give the House a- tra vel- talk. It; would, be more helpful to state in compact form the broad principles of. Australian foreign policy “.. I cannot, say that nearly, as attractively as he can,, bull all through his statement we find the same thing - big words and no deeds. He frequently uses cliches, such as, “ We must constantly seek for peace, provided1 that peace can he had with justice’”! That is- the” qualification. And all the.’ time the Government is proposing to send troops to Malaya. By adding, “ If we are to become- involved in war “, the right honorable gentleman indicated his’ belief that this policy inevitably must end in war.
I’ feel certain that the Government has made up. its- mind and does not want to compromise on this matter, It believesthat some of the old ideas to which it’ adheres are threatened, but. no alteration of policy is acceptable to it. We of the Labour, party believe that we have a; policy which is the alternative to the two extremes - the old hateful days’ of colonialism and exploitation; of superior countries- and so-called superior people, and the other intolerably hateful’ extreme of communism. Yet, whenever we attempt to put forward our views, wehear the old parrot-cry- that we. are. Communists.
Sena’tor KENDALL - What is the alternative - to do nothing?
– Peace at any price- is- perhaps a delusion, but I< suggest: that, war at any price is a tragedy. Yet. war at any- price seems to be the policy of this- Government.- The theme, of the.
Government’s foreign, policy seems to. be tending in that direction.
A matter- that .has been badly misunderstood’ by the- Government, arndt also: by theadvisors of the Minister for External Affairs;,, is the.- fact’ that our interventionin1 Malaya, will: give’ the Communists greater- opportunity to- play on-, sentiment in. this matter, of which selfdetermination is- the: basis’. We’ are. proposing to send- two- divisions^ to- am area; where we haste evidence they will not- be welcome.. The- results’ of the forthcoming Malayan elections- have not been’ anticipated, but’ it is to be hoped that they will be expedited, and. that the newly elected Government will not be antagonized! by Australia’s action in-, sending troops to that, country..
Senator.- Henty made, a bitter, attack on the foreign policy of the Labour party enunciated at the Hobart conference, which clearly reaffirms Labour’s determination to ensure the safety of Australia. The Australian Labour party is satisfied that- the use- of Australian armed forces in Malaya will gravely impair the relations between this country and. its Asian neighbours, and will do nothing to. prevent: aggression. Guerrilla operations have been in progress for five years im Malaya, and they will be ended only by some form of agreement or amnesty. Action shoul’d be taken to bring this about. I have not heard of any move following’ the offer that was made by the Prime- Minister during one of his many trips- overseas. Honorable senators arehearing less and less of what the Prime Minister does.. His Cabinet is having’ the same experience-,, and’ bis back-bench supporters are told nothing. The- press of the country is silent on the subject’. It appears that the Australian Parliament is in the hands’ of a Prime Minister who. has- taken full control of foreign affairs, into- his own hands, tells his- Government nothing,, and, returns, from a trip abroad, with a fait accompli.. That right honorable gentleman mentioned, various countries in which, he had delivered addresses - Ceylon,, Pakistan, Great Britain, Greece,. Italy;, Holland,, Canada, and. the United Sta tes of America* - but no. reportsof his meetings’ have appeared in. the. press. Consequently the. Parliament does. not’- know whether he did. anything, to bring, about! an agreement or to ease world* tension. The- only impression one can. gather is that- Australia, in a subtle way,, is being tagged along behind a. policy, that can. result only in great disservice being done to this country. In- a. booklet entitled Policy for Security and. Peace, John Foster Dulles wrote -
We do< not,, of course,, claim- to hare’ found some magic formula, that ensures- against all forms of communist successes. . . .
Hie dictators face an impossible task- when they set themselves to suppress, over a vast a.rea; and! for a’ long’ time, the opportunitieswhich, flow from-, freedom. . . . It. is rather that they may be dimly perceiving that, there are limits to their power, indefinitely to suppress the human spirit. _ That is a- truth which should not be lost sight of as we- determine our own policies. Our national purpose is not merely to survive in a world fraught with appalling danger. We want to end this era of danger. We shall not achieve that result merely by developing a vast military establishment. That serves, indispensably to defend us and to deter attack. . . .
We have confidence that if our. nation perseveres in applying them-, freedom will again- win the upper hand in its age-long struggle with despotism, and ifli.it the danger of war will steadily recede..
. -r- It is customary in a debateof this- nature to reply first- to- the arguments of honorable senators- opposite. My summary of Senator O’Byrne’s speech is that, he made three points criticizing, the Government.. The first isthat the Government is trying to condition. the people- of Australia- to the inevitibility, of. a nuclear w.a-r. The answer to1 that, in short term s>. is. that the- honorable, senator completely, misunderstood.. or isunable to. understand, the- policy of the Government.. which is- to’ condition the: people of. Australia to. the view that thebest, possible, way to- avoid a- nuclear war is to adopt the course on which the Government has embarked. The Government has confidence in that policy because of the success of similar policies in other countries. Only since there was a consolidation of the Nato forces has Russian aggression been halted in the older countries; but that has been followed by aggression in countries nearer Australia. The fundamental difference between the point of view expressed by Senator O’Byrne and that of the Government is that the honorable senator contemplates the possibility of Australia negotiating its way into a peaceful world by a policy of weakness. The Government’s view, confirmed by Australia’s allies, is that such a policy would be ineffective against our prospective adversaries.
Senator O’Byrne contended that Australia should have sent a representative to the Bandung conference. The answer to that statement, briefly, is that it is manners to wait until one is asked. The idea of a nation trying to force its way into an international conference to which it has not been invited is Lard to describe. Nothing could have done, greater harm to Australia’s prestige or to its possible influence in South-East Asia than an attempt to horn its way into that conference. The honorable senator’s third point was that he objected to Australian troops going to Malaya. I shall deal with that in detail later. He argued that, by placing Australian troops in Malaya, our rear areas would be exposed. That is completely contrary to the facts as set forth in the Prime Minister’s statement. The plan to send troops to Malaya is part of co-operative action, not only by Great Britain and the United States of America, but also by all partners in Seato.
I turn now to the Prime Minister’s statement which, I am convinced is of such importance that those who take an interest in public affairs should clarify their thoughts on the subject and express them openly. To use an old phrase, they should “ stand up and be counted “ on such an important issue. The Prime Minister’s statement deserves commendation because it is so obviously well informed. It sets out clearly the objectives of our foreign policy, and the prin ciples to which we adhere. It also sets out, as far as it is practicable and wise to do so, the manner in which we propose to endeavour to attain those objectives in co-operation with our allies. It is to be noted that the statement sets out not only the military measures proposed in order to deter aggression and maintain peace, but also the social and economic measures which we, on this side of the iron curtain, intend to apply in order to improve the standard of living in undeveloped countries. In the final analysis, that is the best bulwark that we can erect against the growth of communism.
It is a truism that the horizons of the world are getting closer to each other, in terms of distance and physical manifestations. With our allies, we are trying to bring together the Asian nations by a common understanding, and in a common endeavour to increase their prosperity and happiness. Australia, despite its relatively small stature as a. nation, can be rightly proud of the leading role that it has played in the implementation of the Colombo plan. Without a doubt, the decade since the war has been a turbulent and uneasy period, marked by great stress in world affairs and a great difference of approach to the solving of world problems by the Communist and democratic countries. Senator Henty mentioned the countries which have attained selfgovernment, and those which have been enslaved by communism. It was evident from the facts that he cited, that in the period in which the democracies have assisted nations with populations totalling about 600,000,000 people to attain selfgovernment, an almost equal number of other people has been taken under the Communist yoke.
In effect, the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition calls upon the Government to reverse itf decision to send a small force to Malava as a part of the strategic reserve. The debate has, very largely, turned on that point. In preparing my speech. I have paid the Leader of the Opposition the compliment of reading the report of his remarks when he led the debate for the Opposition. I shall endeavour to summarize fairly his points of view. If I am unfair in my assessment, I assure the
Opposition that it is not because of any ill-intent. As I do not intend to generalize, I shall disregard his remarks about the extension of friendly aid to Malaya because, like the flowers that bloom in .the spring, they have little to do with the case. It is essential to our security to maintain a free Asia. The primary reason for our decision to send troops to Malaya is that that country is really our front line. Unless ‘ Malaya is held, the adjoining Asian countries may fall to the Communists. In those circumstances, it is the particular rather than the general that we must consider.
The Leader of the Opposition, at the commencement of his remarks in relation to the proposed despatch of troops to Malaya, asked whether we had sought permission to send our troops there, or had been invited to do so. He said that, in view of its financial position, Great Britain had no right to ask Australia to relieve it of financial responsibility by providing troops in Malaya. He went on to say that it would be a mistake to send troops to a country that was on the verge of attaining its independence, and he advanced the theory that, from a military point of view, it would be wrong of us to do so, because Malaya might be by-passed by the Communists. The Leader of the Opposition went on to say that Great Britain would not be able to help us, and that we would have to look to the United States of America. I shall deal with those items seriatim, in order to get our thoughts clear on them. This is no occasion for woolly thinking. If the Opposition, through its leader, rnakes claims which cannot be substantiated, or which can be defeated by argument, its policy must fall to the ground.
Dealing with the first point that was made by the Leader of the Opposition, I emphasize that Malaya is a British area, and what wo are doing is by arrangement with the British Government, which is the responsible authority for that area. Why, then, should the Leader of the Opposition ask whether we were invited to send our troops to Malaya, or sought permission to do so. The Prime Minister stated that we were doing this in concert with Great Britain and New Zealand, as a part of the over-all planning for the defence of that area. Therefore, it is not a matter of our being asked to send troops to Malaya, or whether we sought permission to do so. The plain fact is that we shall do so by arrangement with the properly constituted governing authority. It is Great Britain’s decision that counts. There is no foundation for the woolly statements that have been made to the effect that the people of Malaya resent our decision to send troops to that country.
The Leader of the Opposition also said that it was not being done pursuant to the Seato agreement. That is incorrect. The Prime Minister, in his statement, said -
I nin happy to inform the House that we have already been told by our Asian friends what we have been doing is most acceptable to our colleagues in the Manila Treaty. On Saturday, I received from the acting” chairman of the Council Representatives Meeting at Bangkok the following message: -
I have the honour to inform you that at its informal meeting, April 7th, the Council Representatives of the South-East Asian Treaty Organization have taken note of the statement made by Your Excellency on the 1st instant, and welcomes the decision of the Australian Government to seek Parliamentary approval for participation by Australian Forces in a strategic reserve to be established in Malaya as an important part of the Treaty Area.
In the face of a statement such as that, by what right is it said that the sending of troops to Malaya does not accord with the terms of the Seato treaty?
Another objection is that such action might offend the people of Asia. We arc concerned about the people of Asia who are our friends - those who are on our side of the Asian iron curtain, not those on the other side. Surely that statement is a complete answer to the objection that has been raised. Our troops have been sent .to Malaya at the invitation of the responsible governments of the countries concerned; our action is confirmed by our partners in the Manila pact. We are told also that it is a mistake to send troops to these countries which are on the verge of getting their independence. Is it suggested that, in the event of aggression, the people of Malaya could defend themselves, when it is well known that, sincethe turn of the century, Malaya has dependedfor its defence on “British arms ? What reality isthere in the possibility of theirgettingpolitical independence in the future if, in the meantime, their (country isoverrunby invaders? Unless there arestrong forces in Malaya, that country is vulnerable. So, we come back to our theme song that Malaya is thefront lineof Australia, andthat if Malaya is vulnerable, Australia isalso.
The Leader of the Opposition alsosaid that Malaya might be by-passed, and that it would not be militarily correct to send forces to Malaya. That is , a completely irresponsible statement. The honorable senator has been a Minister of the Crown, and he knows that no government would take a step such as this without being fully fortified by the views of itsmilitary advisers. When the honorable senator sets himselfup as an armchair general and lays down what should be our military strategy, he is not convincingin a debate of this importance. The honorable senator admits that we must look to the UnitedStates of America. How can we do so unless we play our part.? Ifwehave any feelingof independence or self-respect, we mustplay our part.This is one of the most historical statements ever made inthe peacetime history of Australia, and it has the full support and co-operation of the Government ofthe United States.Time runs against me and so I shall not read further from the statement. However, if honorable senators readpage twenty of it they willsee clearly that whatweare doing is a part of an overallplan.
– -Whose plan?
SenatorSPOONER.- It isthe plan ofGreatBritain,the United States and our partners tin the Anzus pact and the Seatotreaty. If the honorable senator who interjected is prepared to stand outsidethatring, he is evenmore irresponsible than Ibelieved himto be.
Thegreat tragedy of this debate is that the opposition put upby theLabour party isnotsustainedtoany degreeby any logicalargument.IhopethatI have convinced the Senatethat there is no basis ofargumenttosupport theobjectionsthattheOppositionhasputforward.
From the point of view of Australia asa whole, it is a tragedy that the Labour party is itself disunited on this point. I makebold to say that if we counted allthose whobelieved that Australia is doing the rightthing in entering into the Anzus pact and the Seato treaty., and in deciding to de’fend Malaya, there would be an overwhelming majority of members on both sides of the Parliament in favour of what has been done. It is to be regretted thatparty politics has reached such a state, in connexion with so great a matter as this, that the Opposition takes the stand ithat it must oppose the Government.
Ithink it is correct to say that when the Labour party opposes our proposal itdoesso againstthe best interestsof Australia,against the advice of Australian military advisers, against the wishes of its partners inSeato, and against the washes of Great Britain and the United Statesof America. That is astrong indictment of any political party. I believe ithat the view that they advocate is, in truth,theviewof the isolationists, which is that the free world should not combine ‘together against communism. Thatpresents us with thequestion: What wouldbe thepositionof theworld to-day if the UnitedStates adopted thatsame policy of isolationas theLabour party here proposes?
I concludeby saying that it is fair to saythat having regard to Australia’s small population, its contribution asa nationto shaping world events hasbeen aworthy contribution indeed. It is based firmly on the foundation of the good reputation,both inwarand in peace,that our fightingforceshaveleftbehindthem throughout theworld. It isa good thing for us that the contribution that we have been able to make is very largely due to thefriendshipofthe Asianpeoples with the people of Australia. Ibelieve that one important factor hasbeen the stature of the Prime Minister ((Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for ExternalAffairs (Mr.Casey). We have been fortunate tohave men intheirpositions who have become personalitiesuponthe world stage. Wearea sensiblepeople. Wehaveshown arealisticapproach to foreign affairs. We havetakena leading partin the
Colombo plan. Australia was one of the first nations to send troops to join the United Nations forces inKorea.We took a leading part in negotiating the Seats treaty and, most important of all from the viewpoint of the Australian people, we negotiated the Anzua pact. I believe history will show that pact to be the. most important into which the Australian Government has entered; and it will endure. We have been realistic in our approach toworld problems and have done well in meeting all the difficulties we have had to face. No one can foretell theshape of things to come, but we can take comfort in the fact that tension apparently has eased in Europe, directly as a result of a policy similar to that which we are advocating for South-East Asia. Iconclude on the note that I pray to God that we shall be as successful in South-East Asia as we have been in Europe.
.- The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) Has certainly introduced a. few new ideas into the debate. It is unfortunate that the Government has decided to send Australian troops to Malaya. The Australian Labour party is entirely behind any action taken for the defence of Austrralia, but it is a pity that the Government did not take the Parliament into its confidence before deciding to act in this way. The decision to send troops to Malayai is most unusual. Certainly, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), did not consult the Opposition on this move and I am fairly certain that honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber were not consulted either. The Parliament has been slighted. It would have been for better if wehad been able to discuss this matter before action was taken. The Prime Minister has agreed to discussions with othercoun tries, but he did not consult the Parliament about an action that is most unusual. It was the duty of the right honorable gentleman to submit the proposal to the Parliament first because the decision to send troops to Malaya might not prove to be in the best interests of Australia’s security.
The Minister for National Development said that we had to consider Malaya as the frontier of Australia. That is a serious statement. What would happen if other nations thought that their frontiers were a littlecloser to Australia ?
– They are thinkingit every day.
– They are the Communists.
– Whenever honorable senators on the Opposition side cannot agree with Government supporters on matters of this kind, we are accused of being. Communists or being associated in some vile manner with the enemies of Australia. I hope that we shall hear no more accusations of that kind in the Senate Honorable senators opposite arrogantly believe that there is only one side to the problem under discussion. They are positive that they are right in sending troops from Australia. It has not been done before in similar circumstancesand,in my opinion, such actionis regrettable.
Until recently, if any one spoke of peace, he was dubbed a Communist. Now, leading churchmen, eminent’ citizens and people in all walks of life demand peace. The Asian countries are asking the Western nations to endeavour to bring about peace.. The one desire of Sir Winston Churchill was to bring peace to the world. During the past two or three years,hetried to arrangepeace discussions with Russia and the United States of America, but the United States Held aloof. Now there is a change. Sir Anthony Eden, who succeeded Sir Winston Churchill as Prime Minister of Great Britain, has stated that there is every chance of a discussionbetween the big nations of the world with a view to removing misunderstandings and to relieve tension. The practice of calling those who strive for peace Communists is finished There is an upsurge of public opinion which demands peace because intelligent people understand that the alternative if the destruction of civilization. This Government believes that forceful action willbring peace nearer. It suggests that if we are strong and take up a position in other partsof the worldtoprevent other nations from taking action to defend themselves or attack other countries; we shall get peace.If every country adopted that attitude, war and world-wide devastation would result. It is time the people of this country took positive action to prevent war. Although Australia is only a small nation, it would be a powerful influence if it tried to bring the nations closer together.
– 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 affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Electoral Act - Reports, with Maps, by the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing into Electoral Divisions the States of -
Ordered to be printed.
Australian Imperial Force Canteens Funds Act - Thirty-fourth Annual Report, for year 1953-54.
National Fitness Act - Commonwealth Council for National Fitness - Report of Thirteenth Session, September, 1954.
Papua and New Guinea Act - Third Annual Report of the Papua and New Guinea Superannuation Board, for year 1953-54.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 May 1955, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1955/19550511_senate_21_s5/>.